Arugula Bread Pudding

Don’t start me.  I know what you’re thinking.  Bread pudding is a dessert, but I found this recipe in Gourmet and couldn’t stop thinking about it.  I used to love my Gourmet magazine, but now I’m a Bon Appetit reader due to circumstances beyond my control.  So many of the cooking magazines are a bit too upscale for me.  I’m just too lazy to want to attempt any recipe that has 2 pages of instructions.  My bad.

I’ve been eating bread pudding since I was a little girl.  I’ll share Grandma Olson’s recipe soon.  The big decision back then was whether you were a raisin person or not; I was.  This recipe has little in common with that one.  Savory is becoming more and more important in my repertoire.  I love a good side dish and the addition of Gruyere, one of my favorite cheeses, makes this almost irresistible.

I love the look of this on the plate next to almost any meat.  I’m a major pork tenderloin person and this is great with it or any pork.  It’s nice to have a starch side dish that isn’t rice or potatoes.  This has really good visual appeal.  And of course a favorite cheese.  Bon Appetit!

6 cups cubed country-style Italian loaf

1 1/2 cups whole milk

1/2 cup heavy cream

5 eggs

6 slices bacon

1 large shallot, finely chopped

4 garlic cloves, chopped

6 ounces baby arugula or baby spinach (6 cups)

5 1/2 ounces Gruyere cheese, coarsely grated (1 1/2 cups)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees with the rack in the middle.  Butter a 2 quart shallow baking dish.

Whisk together milk, cream, eggs and S & P in a large bowl.

Cook bacon in a 12 inch-heavy skillet over medium heat, until crisp.

Transfer to paper towels to drain, then coarsely crumble.

Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the fat from the skillet.  Increase heat to medium-high and cook shallot and garlic, stirring constantly, until golden, about 1 minute.  Gradually add arugula and cook, stirring, until it wilts.

Stir arugula mixture, bacon, cubed bread and cheese into milk custard.  Transfer to baking dish and cover with foil.  Bake 30 minutes, then remove foil and bake until golden in spots, about 10 more minutes.

*  From the Recipe Box:

I don’t usually buy shallots; I’m too cheap to be bothered.  Small yellow onions will do just fine for me.  How much different are they really?  Don’t tell anyone, but I don’t usually have fresh garlic either.  Dried and granulated works just fine for me.  See, I told you I was a lazy butt.

I also use half and half instead of milk and cream if that’s what I have.

and remember:  If you work hard and are kind, amazing things will happen.  Big kiss, Lynn

English Oat Crackers

G and I so enjoyed the Rosemary Crackers, we decided we should look for more cracker recipes.  And of course my hero, Ina Garten, came through for us.  These have a texture that is a whole different story.  These are much crisper and that hint of brown sugar, while subtle, is very enjoyable.

I would use these in the same way that I would use the Rosemary Crackers.  I love bread or crackers on a cheese tray.  These are so much sturdier than your average store bought cracker, you can actually spread cheese on them or build a mini sandwich without it crumbling all over the floor.

The best thing about them is the bragging rights.  In both cases, when people say they love the crackers and where did you get them.  You get to look demurely to the side and say, “I made them of course.  Doesn’t everyone?”  Holiday entertaining season is coming; start practicing.

3 cups old-fashioned oats

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 pound (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, 1/2-inch-diced

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 cup lukewarm water

Fleur de Sel (I use Jacobsen’s because they are from Oregon and so am I)

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line two sheet pans with parchment paper.
  2. Place the oats, flour, brown sugar, and kosher salt in a food processor fitted with the steel blade and pulse for 45 to 60 seconds, until the oats are coarsely ground. Add the butter and pulse 15 to 20 times, until the butter is the size of peas.
  3. Dissolve the baking soda in the lukewarm water and drizzle it over the crumbs in the food processor. Pulse until the mixture is evenly moistened and can be pressed into balls that will hold together.
  4. With a medium (1 3/4-inch) ice cream scoop or two spoons, scoop the dough into your hands and roll them into round balls. Evenly space 12 balls on each of the prepared sheet pans. Flour the bottom of a flat-bottomed 3-inch-diameter drinking glass and use it to flatten each cracker to 1/8 inch thick and about 3 inches in diameter. The crackers will not be perfectly round.  Sprinkle with the Fleur de Sel and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown on the edges. Serve warm or at room temperature.

From the Recipe Box:

I love these.  I am going to disagree with Ina though.  Oh-oh, a large clap of thunder just sounded overhead.  I think the crackers could be smaller.  I’d aim for 30 to 36 next time and then adjust the cooking time to about 15 minutes.

I love mixing them up in the food processor.  Easy squeezy.

and remember what Jimmy Cliff sang:   You can get it if you really want it.  Big kiss, Lynn

Rosemary Crackers

I was so stupid.  I thought you bought crackers in the cracker aisle, you know:  Ritz, Triscuits, Saltines.  And then, in a night that will live in infamy, I tasted homemade crackers.  Wow!  The ingredients appear mildly contradictory.  Hello,  Parmesan cheese and powdered sugar.  This combination appears no where else in any of my recipes.

These crackers are quite amazing.  They are very similar to their cousin shortbread.  They do have a sweet flavor.  I would not crumble these up and put them in tomato soup.  I would put them on a cheese tray with a soft spreadable cheese.  They would be a great nibble with a glass of rose.

G and I were making these together during the Seahawks halftime.  Yes, they came together that fast.  We were talking about changes we would make.  He wants to try making regular shortbread cookies this way.  It was so easy.  I want to try thyme instead of rosemary.  The options are considerable.  I’ll be trying Ina’s crackers next.

2 tablespoons chopped rosemary

2 cups flour

1 cup powdered sugar

½ cup Parmesan cheese

Pinch of salt

2 cubes of butter, cold and cut into ½ inch cubes

1/4 cup lukewarm water

Mix everything in the bowl of a food processor until combined.  Make small balls approximately tablespoon sized.  Place on parchment covered cookie sheet.  Flatten with a glass lightly dipped in flour to keep it from sticking.  Bake at 375 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes.  Let them get lightly golden brown around the edges.  Cool on the parchment for a few minutes and then remove from baking sheet.

*  From the Recipe Box:

We were back in Minnesota for a wedding and we may have been having beverages and it may have been about midnight and my BFF M said, “Have you ever tasted my rosemary crackers?”  Well, of course, we had to make them right then and there.  Amazing!  What a fun time we always have.  Behold the power of food!

and remember:  You can always tell when two people are best friends because they are having more fun than it makes sense for them to be having.  Big kiss, Lynn

 

Pumpkin Pecan Muffins

Just because you don’t enjoy a Pumpkin Spice Latte, doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a little pumpkin in your life.  Muffins are a vessel for pumpkin.  I want them a little dense and moist with lots of spice and flavor.

These muffins are wonderful.  The perfect accompaniment to a cup of coffee or tea.  The streusel topping isn’t overly sweet.  It does add the perfect crunch to the muffin.  I’m not a huge walnut fan, but pecans are another story; there is no bitterness here.  Freezing these little darlings is the perfect way to go.  One will thaw in 15 minutes or so.  Or, you can set it in the microwave in 30 second intervals until it reaches your perfect temp.

I may have a few bags in the freezer right now just in case you stop by and need a wee pick me up.

  • 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • TOPPING:
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped pecans
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup cold butter, cubed
Directions
  • In a large bowl, combine the first seven ingredients. In another bowl, combine the eggs, pumpkin, buttermilk, oil and vanilla. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Fold in pecans. Fill 12 greased or paper-lined muffin cups three-fourths full.  I used a medium ice cream scoop to keep them even.
  • In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, pecans and flour; cut in butter until crumbly. Sprinkle over batter.
  • Bake at 375° for 20 – 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack. Serve warm.

From the Recipe Box:

I did not use buttermilk.  I used ½ cup whole milk with 1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar.  Let it sit for about 10 minutes, give it a stir and use as buttermilk.  I rarely buy buttermilk; I never use it up so why bother.  Sour milk is just as good and usually much more handy.  You will not notice the difference.  I swear.

Great flavor in these muffins.

and remember:  People don’t always want to hear the truth because they don’t want their illusions destroyed.  Big kiss, Lynn

Faux Starbuck’s Pumpkin Loaf

I have a confession to make, I don’t care for pumpkin spice lattes.  Am I the only one on the planet who feels that way?  Come August, it’s like everyone is on a pumpkin spice countdown.  Well, as long as I’m confessing, I don’t like Chai tea either.  It could be a character flaw, because I do love:  pumpkin pie, pumpkin cake, Starbucks’ pumpkin loaf, etc.

I’ve been trying to find a good recipe that mirrors the Starbucks’ loaf.  It’s moist yet firm.  I hate an overly soft cake.  I need body!  This loaf is not too sweet, but definitely feels like dessert.  It reminds me of sweet breads mom used to make back in the day.  Everyone made them and had them ready for drop-in coffee company.  Ah, those were the days.

But, there I go again, digressing.  I’m Norwegian.  We have a natural affinity for coffee and a treat.  Remember Hygge.  Being cozy, enjoying life and companionship, slowing down and being one with the moment, especially as the seasons change.  So, I’m doing a bit of pumpkin baking.  I will try and recreate the pumpkin loaf from Starbucks.  This is a composite of several recipes I found on-line.  It’s definitely not as pretty as the original, but I’ll keep practicing since the taste is awesome.

1 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ginger

1/4 teaspoon cloves

1/4 teaspoon allspice

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 eggs

1 cup sugar

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

3/4 cup pumpkin puree

3/4 cup canola oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease an 8  X 4 inch loaf pan.  Combine the flour, soda, baking powder, spices and salt in a bowl.  Beat the eggs, sugars and vanilla together for 30 seconds.  Add the pumpkin and the oil, mix well.  Add the dry ingredients and mix well.  Pour into the prepared loaf pan and sprinkle with pumpkin seeds, if desired.  Bake 60 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Let cool in pan 10 minutes, and then turn onto cooling rack to cool completely.

You are going to want to make coffee, put on your comfiest sweats, get out an afghan, light a candle or 2, play a little Vivaldi and so enjoy this pumpkin loaf, and of course, Hygge.

From the Recipe Box:

I used the 8 x 4 inch loaf pan the recipe called for.  It was a mistake.  Next time I will use a 9 x 5 loaf pan or (2) 8 x 4 pans and bake it for a shorter period.  I ended up with dough on my oven floor using the smaller pan.

Instead of all the individual spices, you could use 2 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice.  Same old, same old.

I freeze leftover canned pumpkin and it thaws beautifully.

Even my non-pumpkin eater enjoyed it.  Winner

and remember:  Follow your heart, but take your brains with you.  Big kiss, Lynn

Milk Bread

My mother taught me about saving recipes.  She had notebook after notebook of things she wanted to try.  Now that I don’t have to deal with finicky eaters, I’m getting to try some experimentation of my own.

This was something new for me.  I’ve been baking bread for most of my life, but this recipe was totally different than any I’d made in the past.  For one thing, whip cream in bread dough???  The whole thing came together in the KitchenAid.  It is a full yeast dough, so there’s no quick mix and bake like Irish Soda bread.  This is worth every moment you spend on it.

The other thing that was a little strange was placing the dough in the pans.  You make logs and fit them in.  We tried 2 ways.  I can’t tell you why; I found no explanation.  My own theory includes the very soft nature of the dough.  You also bake it until a very dark crust forms.  Very dark!

It’s a great bread and I’m definitely adding it to my rotation.  I found my recipe on the Food52 site.  It’s an amazing resource; check it out.  And yes, I made a few modifications.  Enjoy.

  • 1/3 cups flour, divided, plus more for surface
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup mild honey
  • 3 tablespoons dry milk powder
  • 2 tablespoons active dry yeast (from about 3 envelopes)
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • large eggs, divided
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, cut into pieces, at room temperature
  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • Flaky sea salt (optional, but shouldn’t be)
  1. Cook 1/3 cup flour and 1 cup water in a small saucepan over medium heat, whisking constantly, until a thick paste forms (almost like a roux but looser), about 5 minutes. Add cream and honey and cook, whisking to blend, until honey dissolves.
  2. Transfer mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook and add milk powder, yeast, kosher salt, 2 eggs, and 5 remaining cups flour. Knead on medium speed until dough is smooth, about 5 minutes. Add butter, a piece at a time, fully incorporating into dough before adding the next piece, until dough is smooth, shiny, and elastic, about 4 minutes.
  3. Coat a large bowl with nonstick spray and transfer dough to bowl, turning to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
  4. If making loaves, lightly coat two 9- by 5-inch loaf pans with nonstick spray. Turn out dough onto a floured surface and divide into 12 pieces. Nestle pieces side-by-side to create 2 rows down length of each pan.
  5. Let shaped dough rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in size (dough should be just puffing over top of pan), about 1 hour.
  6. Preheat oven to 375° F. Beat remaining egg with 1 teaspoon. water in a small bowl to blend. Brush top of dough with egg wash and sprinkle with sea salt, if desired. Bake, rotating pan halfway through, until bread is deep golden brown, starting to pull away from the sides of the pan, and is baked through, 50 to 60 minutes for loaf, let cool completely.

and remember:  Only the educated are free.  Big kiss, Lynn

Lefse and the Norwegian love of white food

This is the very first entry of my very first blog.  I’ve been writing in journals forever.  They are a mixture of my daily routine, a monthly news round-up, the excitement of Christmas, trip plans and the occasional recipe.  I decided the recipes needed to be released and the perfect one to start with was lefse.  It brings us together and keeps us family.  I do have a theory about white food and Norwegians.  I think it’s the snow.  We love potatoes, bread, almond paste, pickled herring (well, that’s not true of us all), and on, and on.  Remind me soon and I’ll tell you the story of getting a bowl of rommegrot for my mom when she was sick.  So the recipe for lefse……

Once a year, the cousins get together at Paul and Linda’s house to make lefse.  We aim for the last Saturday of October.  It’s an incredible amount of work made fun by the company, the champagne and the nibbles.  Paul, Linda, Greg and I get together on the Thursday night before to cook and rice the potatoes.  We usually do about 40 pounds.  The potatoes need to be thoroughly cooled before we can proceed.  We start the process at 10 a.m.  Saturday morning.  Everyone brings a bottle of champagne, a nibble and an apron.  We roll until the potatoes are gone, usually making about 12 dozen pieces.  Everyone takes lefse home, but I don’t think anyone enjoys eating it more than Hillary.

Everyone must pass the lefse test before marrying into the family.

Lefse Recipe

6 cups riced potatoes

1 ¼ cups flour

1/3 cup evaporated milk

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon sugar

Place the riced potatoes into a large bowl.  Thoroughly rub the dry ingredients into the potatoes. Add the milk.  Combine.  Place dough on a well-floured pastry cloth and form into a log.  Cut into 16 slices.  Roll out into an approximately 12 to 14 inch circle.  Bake on lefse grill heated to max.  Flip once.  Cool between several layers of towels to allow it to cool as slowly as possible and avoid crisping up.  As it cools, fold in fourths and overlap edges to keep soft.  Freezes well with waxed paper between each slice.

*  From the Recipe Box:

Typically, we boil 30 to 40 pounds of potatoes.  A few years ago I had an epiphany and decided to try baking them to keep them dryer and fluffier.  Eureka!  It worked like a dream.  Millions of Norwegians are rolling in their graves.  We also quit ricing and started using the Kitchen Aid shredder.  Easy squeezy.  As a purist, I prefer the ricer but this gets the job done so fast.  Paul, Linda, Greg and I do potatoes on a Thursday so they are well chilled by Saturday, Lefse Day.

The key to properly made lefse lies in tradition.  You must have lots of Champagne, hors d’ouevres, and your favorite cousins to help.

One year, a friend of Chris’ asked to participate.  We don’t normally allow outsiders, but she was a fun friend.  We told her the rules:  bring Champagne, an apron and an hors d’ouevre and that’s all.  She arrives wearing this beautiful long, red wool coat and we’re all going WTF!  She looks around, asks if there are any guys here and then drops her coat.  All she’s wearing is an apron and she’s holding a bottle of Champagne.  What a hoot!  The amount of Champagne consumed is directly related to the quality of the lefse.  40 pounds of potatoes makes approximately 12 dozen pieces of lefse.

And remember:  From quiet homes and first beginnings out to undiscovered ends, there’s nothing worth the wear of winning but laughter and the love of friends.  Big Kiss, Lynn