Kirsch Kuchen (Sour Cherry Cake)

Cherry Cake 1

While I was shooting the photos for this post, my production assistant, Cloudy had a few ideas of his own.  I didn’t even realize he made it into this photo until I started processing.

Cherry Cake 3

This is what I would call a tea cake. It’s the perfect snack on a cloudy Sunday afternoon. I’ll be having mine with a cup of tea while I thumb through a couple of new books and procrastinate about doing the laundry. Perfect!

Cherry Cake 2

This is a very popular cake in Germany. It’s made with a variety of different fruits, depending on the season. The first time I had this cake was at a café in downtown Stuttgart in the fall. It was made with the same small dark plums that grew in our backyard in Herrenberg.

Cherry Cake 4

Many German pastries are not very sweet, this one included. If you are looking for something really sweet and rich, you would be better off with Black Forest Cherry Torte, one of my personal favorites. It consists of layers of decadent chocolate cake filled with whipped cream and cherries and topped off with more cherries and chocolate shavings. I love German pastries, so I was thrilled when I received a copy of Luisa Weiss’ “Classic German Baking,” for Christmas. The book contains all of my favorites, including the Black Forest Cherry Torte. A tour through the book is not quite a trip to Germany, but a close substitute.

Served plain, the cake is especially good for breakfast with a cup of coffee. You can also dust it with powdered sugar or top it with a dollop of whipped cream.

Cherry Cake 5

Kirsch Kuchen

8 Servings

I made this with canned sour cherries. However, you can also use fresh pitted sour or sweet cherries. Feel free to experiment with the fruit. Chunks of fresh plum are good as are any of the summer stone fruits. I am providing both metric and U.S. measurements. However, if you have a kitchen scale, I recommend using the metric measurements.

130 grams/9 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon butter, room temperature

180 grams/1 cup minus 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar

3 eggs

Zest of 1 lemon

180 grams/1 1/2 cups minus 1 tablespoon flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

500 grams/2 cups fresh or canned sour cherries,

powdered sugar for dusting or whipped cream for serving

 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper.

Pit the cherries if fresh or drain them if canned. Set aside.

Place the butter and the sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat with the paddle until light and fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula when necessary. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then add the lemon zest.

In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add to the butter mixture and beat until just combined. Remove the bowl from the mixer and gently fold in the cherries. The batter will be fairly thick.

Spread the batter in the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes until golden brown and starting to pull from the sides of the pan. Cool in the pan for 20 minutes, then release the sides of the pan and place the cake on a rack to finish cooling. Dust with powdered sugar when completely cool or serve with whipped cream.

Adapted from Classic German Baking by Luisa Weiss

 

Linzer Star Cookies

cookies-1

 

Happy Holidays!

montana

We arrived in Montana yesterday to find plenty of snow and some pretty frigid temperatures. Well, frigid to me at least. 26 degrees probably felt like a heat wave to the poor folks who were dealing with 30 below temperatures the previous week. Ouch! We don’t get much chance to see a white Christmas in the Washington, DC area, so I’m hoping the snow sticks around, at least through Sunday.

It’s five days until Christmas. That’s five more days to bake, bake, bake. So let’s get busy, and make some cookies.

cookies-2

I first tasted Linzer Tart when I was in culinary school. I loved the nutty, buttery crust with the contrasting sweet and sour raspberry jam inside. During a two-year stint living in Germany a few years ago I tried every Linzer Tart I could find in Germany, and in neighboring countries as well.

cookies-3

Fast-forward to a few years later, and I discovered Linzer Cookies in a Food and Wine Christmas cookbook. Where have these cookies been all my life? They have all the great taste of the tart, but in one tidy, cookie-size package.

Have fun baking or doing what ever brings you and your family joy during this Holiday season. Merry Christmas from Jeannine’s Cuisine.

Adapted from Food and Wine magazine

cookies-6

Linzer Star Cookies

3 Dozen

Feel free to adjust the type of nuts and the flavor of jam you use for these cookies. They won’t be a traditional Linzer, but give them your own spin. I’m thinking you could do a mixture of macadamia nuts and pineapple jam for a tropical spin on the cookie. Or how about almonds with an orange marmalade or cherry jam?

1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter, softened

3/4 cup sugar

3 large egg yolks

Zest from 1 lemon

1 1/4 cups hazelnuts

1 1/2 cups bread flour

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

3/4 cup seedless raspberry jam

1/4 teaspoon anise seeds, ground

1/4 teaspoon ground coriander

Powdered sugar for dusting cookiesCream the butter with the sugar for about 5 minutes in a standing mixer fitted with a paddle. With the mixer running add the egg yolks one-at-a time and then add the lemon zest. In a food processor, combine the hazelnuts with the bread flour and process until finely ground. Add the cinnamon and cloves to the food processor and pulse until mixed. Add the nut mixture to the ingredients in the mixing bowl and mix on low until fully combined. Separate this dough into two discs. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare two sheet pans or cookie sheets by covering them with parchment or silicone mats. Working in batches, roll the dough out to 1/4 inch thick. Cut into rounds with a 2-inch round cookie cutter. Use another smaller star-shaped cutter to cut stars out of the center of half of the 2-inch rounds. Place the round cookies on one pan and the cut out cookies on another. Chill any dough scraps and reroll and cut as before. Bake the cookies for 15 minutes, rotating the pans at the halfway point. Let the cookies cool in the pans.

cookies-4

In a small bowl, mix the raspberry jam with the anise and coriander. Use a small strainer to dust the tops of the cut out cookies with powdered sugar. Use a small spatula to spread a thick layer of jam on the cookie rounds and top with a cut out cookie.

cookies-5

 

 

 

Indian Shortbread Cookies

Saffron Cookies 1

Merry Christmas friends, family, and blog followers. It’s been a busy season. We have a new addition to our menagerie, a Jack Russell we named Ginger, so we’ve been pretty busy getting her adjusted to life with us.

Ginger

I cannot believe Christmas has come and gone. It seems like I just put the decorations up, and now it’s almost time to put them away again. I love this time of year; it just seems so magical to me — the lights, the carols, the cookies, the cookies… Speaking of which, let’s bake some. It’s never too late for more Christmas cookies. The season isn’t over yet, and January, with its resolutions and diets and good intentions, will be here soon enough.

Saffron Cookies 4

About a week ago I prepared a pretty substantial Indian meal — pakhoras, samosas, curry, basmati rice, eggplant, and the chutneys and pickles to go with it. I was cooking for guests and I wanted to prepare a dessert, but what would go with Indian food?

Saffron Cookies 2

I subscribe to “The Local Palate” magazine, a cooking periodical that covers the food scene in the South. Through the magazine’s website I discovered a chef named Maneet Chauhan, executive chef of Chauhan Ale & Masala House in Nashville, Tennessee, and a judge on Food Network’s “Chopped.” Hmm, I just might have to make a trip to Nashville someday.

Saffron Cookies 3

The magazine posted a link to a recipe for Indian Shortbread Cookies. They sounded amazing and different and they were. I served these with ice cream flavored with ginger and cardamom and it was a wonderful dessert that complemented the Indian meal beautifully.

Don’t think you have to serve these cookies with an Indian meal. They can easily stand alone or make a great addition to a platter or basket of a variety of cookies. They are also great with a cup of tea or Chai on a rainy afternoon. For some reason they disappear quite quickly — at least they did in our house — so you might want to make a double batch.

Saffron Cookies recipe

Indian Shortbread Cookies

Approximately 24

You can use clarified butter or even regular butter for this recipe but the results will not be the same. What really makes these cookies is the nutty ghee flavor. The dough for these cookies is very crumbly, but it will come together into small balls with a little work. It’s best to use your hands for this rather than a spoon or other tool. I rolled the dough into balls slightly smaller than a golf ball, about an inch and a half in diameter.

1 teaspoon milk

1/4 teaspoon saffron strands

1 cup semolina flour

1 cup all purpose flour

4 1/2 ounces (9 tablespoons) ghee or clarified butter

1 cup powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon powdered cardamom

1/4 teaspoon powdered nutmeg (grated fresh if possible)

1 teaspoon yogurt

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Warm the milk, add the saffron to it to dissolve and set aside.

Place the semolina and AP flour in a bowl and whisk to sift. Cream the ghee and sugar using a mixer. You will know when it’s ready when it loses its graininess and becomes the consistency of smooth peanut butter. Add the cardamom and nutmeg to the mixer bowl and mix in, then add the yogurt and baking soda and mix again. Add the flour mixture to the ghee mixture a little at a time.

Remove the dough from the mixer bowl and knead by hand to combine. Roll the dough into balls and place them on a parchment or silicone-lined baking sheet. Bake for 35-40 minutes.

Adapted from The Local Palate

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cheese Mustard Bread

Cheese Bread Blog 1

Happy Mothers Day! Some may wonder why I chose a bread recipe for a Mothers Day post when the food blogosphere is full of Mothers Day brunch ideas, many of which sound fabulous. Actually, my mother never has been the breakfast in bed type. However, I think she would really like this bread.

Remember Gourmet magazine? I still mourn the demise of that magazine. I guess it was about a year before they ceased publication that they started doing a Gourmet Cookbook Club. I bought every book they recommended, and what a selection it was. There was something for everyone, from Chinese food to breakfasts. This recipe was taken from one of the Gourmet Cookbook Club book recommendations.

Cheese Bread Blog 3

The Art & Soul of Baking is a beautiful book that was published by Sur la Table. They chose professional pastry chef and cooking instructor Cindy Mushet to write the book. It’s full of classic pastries like the ones I learned to make in culinary school, but there are some interesting twists as well. I will probably never take the time to actually cook all the recipes in one book, but I sort of keep a list of a few cookbooks in my head that I wouldn’t mind revisiting quite frequently. This is one of those books.

Cheese Bread Blog 2

I’ve always really enjoyed making bread. I love how the dough looks fluffy after the first rise and the feel of it in my hands. I love the idea of creating something that people in all cultures of the world have been making and eating for centuries. No matter how time marches on, there will always be bread.

This cheese bread has some great possibilities. A slice of it would be great along side a bowl of soup. I tried using it for a grilled cheese sandwich — off the charts. I’ve also had it toasted in a pastrami sandwich, but roast beef would be equally good. I’d always wanted to try making a cheese bread; and when I saw this recipe, I knew this one was it.

Cheese Bread Recipe Header

Cheese Mustard Bread

 1 Loaf

This recipe initially called for cheddar cheese, but don’t limit yourself to cheddar. You could vary the type of cheese with the type of mustard you use. I ended up using something called Catamount Hills Cheese, described as “an Italian-type cheese with notes of Swiss and Parmesan,” with Dijon mustard.

  • 1/4 cup warm water (110-115 degrees F.)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 4 ounces of cheddar cheese
  • 3 cups (15 ounces) bread or unbleached all-purpose flour, plus a little more for kneading
  • 1 cup warm milk (110-115 degrees F.)
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten

Place water, sugar, and yeast in a small bowl and whisk to blend. Set aside for 10 minutes or until the mixture becomes foamy. Meanwhile, grate the cheese into a separate bowl, using the large holes of a box grater, mix it with 1 tablespoon of the flour and set aside. Whisk the milk and melted butter in a medium bowl.

Place the remaining flour and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer with a dough hook installed. Mix for 1 minute on medium speed to blend. Add the yeast mixture, milk mixture, and Dijon mustard to the bowl and blend on medium speed for 5 minutes. Add the cheese and knead for 2-3 minutes longer. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and allow to rest for 20 minutes. This allows the dough to fully hydrate before continuing to knead it. Turn the mixer speed to medium low and continue to knead the dough until it is firm, elastic, and smooth, 3-6 minutes.

Scrape the dough into a lightly oiled bowl and spread a little oil over the surface of the dough. Cover the dough and place in a draft-free location to rise until doubled in size, approximately 45-60 minutes.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Firmly press the air out of the dough, but do not knead it. Press the dough into a rectangle. Fold the dough into thirds. It should be the same size as the loaf pan. Lightly coat the loaf pan with butter or oil and place the dough in the pan, seam side down. Lightly oil the top of the loaf, cover with a damp towel and place in a draft free location until the dough has risen 1/2 to 1 inch above the pan, about 45-60 minutes.

Meanwhile, position an oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat it to 375 degrees. Brush the top of the loaf with the beaten egg. Bake for 40 minutes. The bread should be golden brown, and the internal temperature should be 200 degrees. Transfer to a rack to cool.

Adapted from The Art & Soul of Baking, by Cindy Mushet

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day – Guinness Chocolate Cake

Guinness Cake 1st

This Nigella Lawson recipe came “across the pond” from a friend of a friend in England. When I received the recipe, I immediately thought it would make a great dessert for a Saint Patrick’s Day dinner. Not only does it taste rich and chocolaty, but it incorporates one of my favorite beverages:

Guinness

It even looks like a pint of Guinness.

Guinness Cake 2nd

Other than drinking green beer from 7:00 a.m. on, a LOOONNNGG time ago my first year at college, Saint Patrick’s Day has always been sort of hit or miss for me. There have been some nice dinners over the years, or we might make something special at home, such as soda bread with lamb stew or corned beef. But, generally Saint Patrick’s Day is usually just another workday.

Guinness Cake 3rd

This year; however, is entirely different. Since Saint Patrick’s Day falls on the 17th of March, that means it’s only 4 days away from the official first day of Spring on the 21st. That’s right, you read it here first, Spring starts next week. Hot diggety dog! And that’s after one of the, if not the coldest winters ever in the Washington, DC area. So pour yourself a pint, make this cake, and enjoy both while going though a stack of gardening catalogs, as I did. We’re almost there.

Guinness Cake Recipe

Guinness Chocolate Cake

12 Servings

You will achieve the best results if you use a kitchen scale and the original metric measurements. However, I realize not everyone weighs their baking ingredients so I have included the U.S. measurements as well.

250 ml (1 cup) Guinness

250 grams (18 tablespoons) butter

75 grams (1 cup minus 1 tablespoon) cocoa powder

400 grams (2 cups) caster or fine sugar

142 ml (2/3 cup) sour cream

2 large eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

275 grams all purpose flour

2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

300 grams (10 ounces) cream cheese, softened

150 grams (1 1/4 cup) powdered sugar

125 ml (8 1/2 tablespoons) heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 350 and butter and line a 9-inch spring form pan.

Pour the Guinness into a large wide saucepan, add the butter, and cook over medium heat until melted. Off the heat, add the cocoa and the sugar to the pan and whisk to blend. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs with the sour cream and the vanilla and add to the pan. Whisk in the flour, soda, and salt.

Pour the batter into the lined pan and bake for 45 minutes until a toothpick or cake tester comes out clean. Cool the cake completely on a cooling rack, before removing from the pan.

Once the cake is cool, place it on the platter or cake stand you plan to use and make the icing. Place the powdered sugar in a food processor and pulse to break up any lumps. Add the cream cheese and cream and process until smooth and spreadable. Ice the top of the cake, making swirls with the spatula to resemble a frothy pint of Guinness.

Guinness Cake 4th

Adapted from Nigella Lawson’s recipe

German Christmas Stollen

Stollen 1

Stollen has been part of my Christmas season as long as I can remember. My mother loves it and used to buy it for Christmas breakfast any time she could find it. This wasn’t easy in those days when food from other countries was difficult to find, especially in Little Rock, Arkansas, where I spent a considerable part of my childhood.

Stollen 3

 

When I was younger I could take it or leave it. To me it wasn’t nearly as enticing as my Dad’s cranberry bread, which we only got to have once a year. But when the Army assigned me to Wiesbaden, Germany when I was 24, I experienced Christmas in a whole new way. Stollen was everywhere, and I loved it.

Stollen 4

I found myself in Germany again for 2 years in 2010, this time with a husband and four pets. You know how some people say that you can never go back to a place you have been before because it will never be the same? Well that was the case with Germany at Christmas; it wasn’t the same, it was even better! Maybe it was because I had someone to share the experience with, maybe because I could appreciate it more, but I truly loved living in Germany, especially at Christmas time. There were Christmas markets everywhere, but my favorite was the Esslingen market, just outside of Stuttgart. For the Christmas market, the medieval town was lit only by candles, and it was simply magical. It could have been a movie – cue the snow, start now, carolers start singing… There we were walking along, mugs of gluhwein laced with Amaretto and cream (oh my God, so good) in hand, enjoying the snow and the sites. Two years later I still miss it.

Stollen 2

As much as I love it, my baking time is pretty limited, but when I came across a recipe for stollen in one of my Christmas cookbooks I just knew I had to make it this year. Stollen is a German yeast bread, dating from 1474 that usually contains dried fruit and nuts and is iced with a glaze or covered with powdered sugar. It’s perfect as is, warmed and spread with butter for breakfast. And, if it’s not completely devoured while it’s fresh, it’s also great toasted.

Stollen 5

German Christmas Stollen

1 large loaf

As with many of my baking recipes, you will need a kitchen scale to measure out the dry ingredients. If you don’t like or can’t find marzipan you can leave it out. Just fold the dough like you would if using the marzipan and leave to rise. Another option would be to roll the marzipan out into a rectangle half as wide and as long as the dough, placing it on half of the dough and then folding it over the rectangle of marzipan.

5 ounces whole milk

2 ounces sugar, divided

2 teaspoons dried yeast (about 1 package)

12 ounces bread flour, plus extra for rolling

1/4 teaspoon salt

4 ounces butter, softened

2 eggs, beaten

1 1/2 ounces currants

2 ounces golden raisins

1 ounce mixed candied fruit, diced

1 1/2 ounce dried apricots, chopped

1 ounce candied cherries, quartered

1 ounce slivered almonds

Grated zest 1/2 lemon

7 ounces marzipan

Juice of 1 lemon

4 ounces powdered sugar, sifted

Heat the milk just until it’s warm, but still cool enough to dip your finger into it. Stir in 2 tablespoons sugar and the yeast and allow to rest until it bubbles on top. Meanwhile, sift the flour, remaining sugar, and salt together in a large mixer bowl. Add the yeast mixture, butter and eggs and mix thoroughly with a dough hook. Add in the fruits, nuts, and lemon zest and knead in mixer for 5 minutes. Remove from mixer bowl, and knead by hand until dough is springy and elastic, adding more flour if necessary. Form the dough into a large ball, place in a large empty bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm draft-free place until double in size, about 1 1/2 hours.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, punch it down and knead until smooth and elastic. Use your hands to press the dough out into a rectangle, about 10 X 8 inches. Use your hands to roll the marzipan out into a long log the length of the dough and place it in the center. Fold the dough in half lengthwise, over the marzipan log and press the edges together to prevent the marzipan from leaking out. Carefully place the bread on a baking sheet ensuring there is plenty of space. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and leave to rise until it again doubles in size. Preheat the oven to 375.

Bake the bread for 35-40 minutes until golden brown. Allow bread to remain in the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer it to a rack placed in a baking sheet to cool. While the bread is baking make the glaze, by combining the lemon juice and the powdered sugar. After transferring the bread to the rack spoon the glaze over the bread while it is still warm. Allow to cool completely before cutting into slices and serving.

Adapated from Delia Smith’s Christmas by Delia Smith  

 

 

 

Buttermilk Pound Cake

Pound Cake 1

“And now for something completely different.” Unlike many of my previous recipes and probably many more to follow, this cake is not gluten-free nor is it Paleo or Primal. It’s a lovely treat we enjoyed on a holiday weekend. If your diet allows it, I hope you enjoy it as well.

Pound Cake 2

Why pound cake? Quite honestly, I’ve never been a real fan. “Pound cake” conjures up thoughts of some icky sweet cake-like substance you buy at the gas station. That pound cake comes in a crinkly plastic wrapper with an ingredient list you can’t pronounce.

Pound Cake 3

So, when I found myself with some leftover buttermilk from making Ranch dressing I decided to do some baking. I wanted something easy that wouldn’t require hours in the kitchen, and I wasn’t really in the mood for making biscuits.

Pound Cake 4

I came across this recipe and decided to give it a go. I’ve had really good luck with Alton Brown’s baking recipes. I never really cared for his show, Good Eats, but then I’m like that. I tend to like the material that comes in print, but then find it doesn’t translate to my taste in television. Okay, I guess I’m weird that way. Anyway, this recipe is from one of Alton’s first cookbooks, I’m Just Here for More Food. It was the book that I turned to for a refresher course in baking when I was hired as a baker for a catering company and needed to become a maestro baker overnight. A quick perusal of each chapter’s techniques was enough for me to get through my first day of baking what seemed like hundreds of wedding cakes and keep me employed.

Pound Cake 5

My husband absolutely loves this cake. The first slice disappeared in seconds. I think he had told me in the past that he loved pound cake, but I had no idea how much.

Pound Cake 6

I like this cake too. The buttermilk really gives it a nice depth of flavor that’s not too cloying. It has infinite possibilities. I’m imagining it as a base for any kind of summer fruit with piles of whipped cream on top, or maybe with a pile of blueberries and a drizzle of maple syrup. We tried it toasted with jam this morning. It was nice, but I believe the best way to eat this cake is just plain, with a cup of tea.

Pound Cake 7

Happy Independence Day everyone!

Pound Cake 8

Buttermilk Pound Cake

Yield: One large cake

I greased the pan with shortening and floured it. That’s a little difficult to do with a tube pan, so I recommend using Baker’s Joy spray. I ended up baking this pound cake at 325 convection bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes. I started testing it at 1 hour, at which time it was still pretty jiggly. If you don’t use convection bake, it might only take an hour.

Baker’s Joy spray or shortening and flour for preparing pan

3 cups all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

8 ounces (2 sticks) butter, softened

2 cups sugar

1 cup buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 325. Prepare a 12-cup tube or Bundt pan with Baker’s Joy spray or by greasing and flouring.

Mix flour, baking soda and salt by whisking in a bowl.

Place the eggs and the vanilla extract in a small bowl.

Place the butter in the bowl of an electric stand mixer and beat at medium speed with a paddle attachment for one minute to spread fat in bowl. Add the sugar and cream with the butter, scraping down with a spatula as necessary, until the mixture is lightened and fluffy.

Reduce the speed on the mixture and add the eggs one at a time, scraping down between each addition. Alternate adding the dry ingredients and the buttermilk in three installments, beginning with dry ingredients and ending with buttermilk.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes until the cake pulls away from the sides of the pan and a tester comes out clean.

Allow the cake to stand in the pan for 15 minutes then carefully turn out onto a rack to finish cooling.

This cake will keep tightly wrapped at room temperature for 1 week.

Adapted from I’m Just Here for More Food by Alton Brown

Pound Cake 9

 

  

Gluten-Free Green Chilie Corn Muffins

Chilie Muffins 1

My husband and I just returned from a short trip to Nassau, Bahamas.  Unlike most of our vacations that have purpose, usually visiting friends or family, this trip was just for us, with the primary goal of not doing much more than enjoying some delicious meals and staring at the ocean.

Beach_Bar

We accomplished that goal.  So much so, that it never occurred to us to check the Washington, D.C. weather until we were at the airport awaiting our return flight.  Imagine our shock when we discovered snow and negative-number wind chills were in the forecast.  Ugghh!  Don’t get me wrong, I love snow and winter weather, preferably when I am inside, in front of a fire.  But it was a bit too much when compared with the sun and sea, the bright blue sky, and the temperatures in the 70s that we had so quickly become accustomed to. 

Nassau_Beach

Reality check – it’s still winter, Jeannine.

For me, comfort foods come to mind when the snow flies, and that usually means some sort of soup.  I love them all – Thai chicken, chili, vegetable beef, broccoli and cheese, the varieties are endless.  Nothing is more comforting than a bowl of soup on a cold day, especially when accompanied by some fresh homemade bread, rolls or savory muffins.

I made these muffins to go with black-eyed peas on New Years Day, but they will go well with almost any type of soup.  Last New Years I attempted gluten-free baking for the first time by substituting gluten-free flour for regular flour in my normal cornbread recipe.  The results were anything but spectacular, but my wonderfully supportive husband choked that cornbread down until it was finished.  My gluten-free baking has improved considerably since that first effort, and I was really pleased with the way these muffins turned out.  I hope you like these muffins as well as I do.  If you make them, please send me a comment and let me know what you served with them.

Chilie Muffins 2

Gluten-Free Green Chilie Corn Muffins

Makes 12 Muffins

 I have found that I get better results by mixing my own gluten-free flour blend than when using a commercial product off-the-shelf, but in a pinch I use the King Arthur Gluten-Free Flour.  If you want to make your own, I used 2 cups white rice flour, 1 cup brown rice flour, 1 cup tapioca flour or starch, and 1/2 cup potato starch.  This makes quite a bit, but stores well in the freezer.  This recipe worked well with palm sugar, but you can use granulated if that’s what you have on hand. 

Nonstick cooking spray for the pan

1 cup gluten-free flour

1 cup yellow cornmeal

1/4 cup palm sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

1/2 cup butter (1 stick or 4 ounces), melted

1 cup buttermilk

1/2 4-ounce can (about 2 tablespoons) chopped green chilies

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Coat a 12-cup muffin pan with cooking spray or use paper cupcake liners. 

In a large bowl thoroughly whisk the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, xanthan gum, baking soda, and salt.  Make a well in the center and set aside.

In a separate medium bowl whisk the eggs until frothy.  Whisk in the butter and buttermilk and mix then stir in the green chilies.

Pour the liquid mixture into the well in the dry mixture and stir until just combined.  Do not over mix.  Spoon the batter into the muffin cups.  The cups should be almost full with a mound in the center. 

Bake the muffins 16-18 minutes, until golden brown. Immediately transfer the muffins to a wire rack, cooling them on their sides. 

Slightly adapted from Gluten-Free Breakfast, Brunch, and Beyond by Linda J. Amendt

Gluten-Free Cranberry Orange Muffins

Cran Muffins 1

When I started this blog a couple of months ago I decided to call it Jeannine’s Cuisine, because that is exactly what I wanted my posts to be about – the food I love and the way I eat.  Rather than concentrating on any of my many interests: pastry, baking, healthy food from real ingredients, the myriad of cuisines I have experienced in my travels, I wanted it to encompass all of that.  And, so far, I believe it has.

Now, it’s time for Jeannine’s Cuisine to move in a slightly different direction for a while.  I was recently tested for celiac disease, and although the test came back negative, it seems I have some sort of gluten intolerance.  I am definitely discovering through experimentation that I do much better when I don’t consume gluten.  So, the blog will still contain scrumptious recipes, but, from now on, at least for the time being, they will be primarily gluten free.

This couldn’t have happened at a worse time than right before the holidays.  I checked out some of the gluten free offerings at the local supermarket and was not thrilled.  It seems the gluten-free stuff is more processed than the other packaged food, but that’s not what Jeannine’s Cuisine is all about anyway.  Once again I discovered this was the perfect excuse to buy more cookbooks.  Do you see a pattern here?  Help!  I have a cookbook addiction.

Cran Muffins 2

I decided to try muffins as my first foray into the gluten free baking world.  Muffins are pretty much the easiest of all quick breads, and suitable for breakfast or with a cup of tea in the afternoon.  The holidays are upon us and cranberry and orange seemed like a good combination.  The recipe I chose is from Crave, a gluten free bakery in the San Francisco Bay area.

Cran Muffins 3

Gluten Free Cranberry Orange Muffins

Makes 12 muffins

You could use any fat in this recipe.  I just happen to have a lifetime supply of palm shortening on hand.  Regular shortening would work, as would butter if you tolerate dairy.  The original recipe also called for rice milk, which would make the recipe dairy free.

3 tablespoons tapioca flour

3/4 cup sweet rice flour

1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon potato starch

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup palm shortening

1 cup sugar

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 teaspoon orange extract

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup dried cranberries

zest from 1 orange

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 12-cup muffin tin with non-stick spray or use cupcake papers.

Whisk the tapioca flour, rice flour, potato starch, baking powder, baking soda, xanthan gum and salt together. 

Place shortening and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and cream on high speed with a paddle for 3 minutes.  Add eggs and extracts and continue beating on high speed for an additional 2 minutes.

Alternate adding dry ingredients and milk, adding half of each at a time.  Add cranberries and orange zest and beat for another 2 minutes.

Fill muffin tins almost to the top.

Bake muffins for 10 minutes then turn pan and bake an additional 10 minutes.  Remove from oven when a tester comes out clean. 

When cool enough to handle gently remove muffins from pan and cool on a rack.

Slightly adapted from Crave Bakery Gluten Free Cookbook by Cameo Edwards

Whole Wheat Soda Bread

soda bread loaf

Now that it’s fall, it’s time for soups and stews, and a nice savory bread to go with them.  I love bread, and I love making bread, but I don’t always have the time for the kneading, rising, punching down, and forming process that is generally required for a yeast bread.  Okay, it’s a whole lot easier these days with a sturdy mixer with a dough hook, but it still takes time. This soda bread is quick and easy to prepare, and it goes just as well with a hearty chowder as it does with butter and jam with afternoon tea.

soda bread pieces2

As a child, my only experience with soda bread was when my mom made it on Saint Patrick’s Day.  We thought it was pretty cool, probably because we only had it once a year and it had raisins in it.  I’ve made several versions of that bread over the years including my mom’s recipe. This bread is considerably more rustic than those other versions.  It’s the bread that Irish and Scottish mothers and grandmothers have been making everyday for hundreds of years.

Last night we went to the Maryland Renaissance festival, specifically to attend a concert by this band.  It was dusk, the wind was whispering through the trees, a light drizzle was falling, and the haunting bagpipe music filled the air.  For just a short time I was transported to a world far away where work and daily life were far simpler than today. I think this bread would be part of that imaginary life.

Whole Wheat Soda Bread

1 Loaf

Soda bread is best eaten the day it is baked.  If that’s not possible, you can freeze the remainder, thawing it out the same day you intend to serve it.

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1.5-2 cups buttermilk

1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.  Whisk the flours, salt, and baking soda in a large bowl.

2. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in 1.5 cups buttermilk.  Stir the buttermilk into the flour working from the center to the outside of the bowl.  Add more buttermilk if needed.

3.  Place the dough on a lightly floured surface, flour your hands and shape the dough into a neat ball, tucking the edges underneath the dough ball to smooth it.  Do not knead the dough as this will develop gluten and toughen the dough.  Use your hands to flatten the dough ball into a disc about 1.5 inches thick.  Transfer the dough to a baking sheet.

4.  Cut a cross or “X” into the top of the dough, then use a knife to prick the center of each of the four sections.  Cutting the dough in this way allows more heat to enter the center of the bread, resulting in more even baking.

5.  Bake the bread for 15 minutes then reduce the heat to 400 degrees F. and continue baking for another 20-25 minutes.  The bread should be golden brown and sound hollow when tapped.  Remove from the pan and cool the bread on a wire rack.  Allow to cool before cutting into wedges to serve.

Adapted from Forgotten Skills of Cooking by Darina Allen