Monday, March 28, 2011

Unda-Style Quesadilla

An easy and tasty quick lunch idea from 101 Cookbooks. Check out Heidi's Quesadilla Recipe.
I made this today and it was wonderful. Although I didn't have many fresh herbs on hand it still made a very delightful light lunch. I agree with Heidi that sometimes too much cheese in a quesadilla can be overwhelming.

I learned a new phrase today, too.... "unda-style" which simply means to add an egg.

Try it out....

Thank you, Heidi!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Saturday Morning Muffins

The calendar shows we are nearing the end of March but the temperature doesn't seem to want to leave winter. This morning it was well below freezing despite bright sunshine. I needed something to warm both the kitchen and my soul....Maple Corn Muffins (it is still March Maple Madness after all.)

Ah...Saturday morning...plenty of coffee, The Boston Globe, The Wall Street Journal and warm muffins. It will be hours before I venture outside.

From this month's favorite cookbook, Cooking with Shelburne Farms -

Streuseled Maple Corn Muffins

For topping:
2 Tablespoons flour
2 Tablespoons maple syrup
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup finely chopped pecans (which I omitted since I didn't have any today)

For the muffins:
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup fine cornmeal, white or yellow (I used yellow today)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup pure maple syrup, Grade B
1/2 cup sour cream, not nonfat *
1/2 cup milk
2 large eggs

[*since I didn't have sour cream I used whole milk greek style plain yogurt instead]

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease 12-cup muffin pan or use liners, paper or reusable.

Make the streusel topping: In a small bowl, combine the flour, maple syrup, butter and pecans. Mix with a fork, set aside.

Make the muffins: In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a medium bowl melt the butter in microwave oven or in a medium pot set over medium heat. Off the heat, stir in the maple syrup, sour cream, milk and eggs, in that order until fully blended.

Gradually add the wet mixture to the dry mixture, stirring just until combined but not completely smooth. Do not overmix or muffins will be tough.

Fill muffin cups about 3/4 full with batter (using #16 food disher, if available)and top with a generous teaspoon of streusel, pressing in gently if necessary.

Bake the muffins for about 17-20 minutes until they are golden and a toothpick comes out clean.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

March Maple Madness

Continuing with with my March madness over Maple Syrup I have been working on perfecting a Snickerdoodles type cookie which uses maple syrup in lieu of granulated sugar. According to Rick Gencarelli, head chief at The Inn at Shelburne Farms, who says in Cooking with Shelburne Farms you can substitute "maple sugar for any type of them roughly cup for cup." His cookbook if filled with wonderful recipes using maple syrup but I wanted to experiment on my own.

Testing has already passed the "still at home" teenage son review, the husband review and the visiting relatives review. After three versions the recipe is now ready for the College Care Package test.

If anyone is paying is what is going in the mail shortly:

March Madness Maple Cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup pure Vermont Maple Syrup, Grade B
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

4 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, cream butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Add maple syrup, beat until blended. Add eggs. Mix until well blended.

On low speed, add flour, baking soda and salt. Mix until just blended.

Refrigerate the dough for about 30 minutes to stiffen. This will make it easier to shape.

In a small bowl, combine 4 tablespoons sugar and cinnamon.

Roll dough into 1-inch balls. (Use #40 food scooper - see below)* Roll balls in cinnamon and sugar mixture. Place onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet, spacing each cookie 2 inches apart.

Bake 10 - 12 minutes.

Remove from oven. Cool cookies on cookie sheet for 3-5 minutes then transfer to wire rack. Enjoy!

Yield: about 42 cookies.

This Month's New Gadget:

After lots of searching, I finally found a commercial grade scoop to use with cookies and muffins. I've tried regular ice scoops which always seem to break.
*found at King Arthur Flour cooking tools

Monday, March 14, 2011

The most wonderful time of the year. . . . . . . . maple sugaring season

Forget the groundhog. The sure sign of spring is when the sap from maple trees starts running and the maple sugaring season gets underway. After returning from a wonderful weekend in Burlington, Vermont - The Farmhouse Tap and Grill, Mirabelles, and Dobra Tea,
I'm in the mood to cook with my all time favorite ingredient....
Vermont Pure Maple Syrup - Grade B.
I'm partial to Vermont because I happen to be currently sending a lot of college tuition money to that state. Although I suppose New Hampshire, New York and parts of Canada have some pretty good maple syrup too.

Normally I reach for my favorite source of Vermont recipes, Cooking with Shelburne Farms, for things like Maple and Black Pepper Chicken, Maple Gingersnaps or Maple-Glazed Ribs (only served when the vegetarian daughter isn't home...due to the meat, of course, but also the use of Vermont's Long Trail amber ale).

This time I start the season with Maple-Glazed Sausages and Cabbage as found in the Sunday Boston Globe, Cooking section, March 6, 2011.
Forget boiling cabbage in plain water or with your St. Pat's Day Corned Beef. Cabbage braised with maple syrup and a touch of cider vinegar is very nice. Although it still did not appeal to the "selective" vegetable eater in the house. Yet, he did enjoy his carrots with a light maple flavoring.

For dessert, try the Simple Maple Cream Cake topped with maple whipped cream.