Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Leek Mustard Bacon Soup

How can it be almost June here on the East Coast and the weather showing us no summer love by insisting on remaining cold and rainy? 

It's soup weather, I tell ya. I was going to save this recipe for a fall post but my feet are cold today and I wish I still had some waiting for me in the fridge today.

This flavor-packed recipe is sure to warm the cockles of your heart and hands (what are cockles anyway?) It is sure to take the edge of this early summer chill in the air. 

The soup is very easy to make. Omit the bacon for a vegetarian version. Lighten up the cream with a lower fat version or Half and Half. 

Make sure you clean the leeks carefully. Beware that pockets of dirt can hide in the cracks. This soup is very thick, almost the consistency of oatmeal. The recipe serves four but can easily be stretched to six people if eaten as a snack or served with a side salad. 

Monday, May 29, 2017

Blueberry Hyssop Streusel Cake

I'll address the elephant on the blog right away. What the hell is hyssop? For those of you who don't know, this strong flavored herb is commonly made into an expectorant and ingested in tea form. 

I also discovered it has been used for hundreds of years to clean holy places as well as to ward off evil and even as an aphrodisiac. Hyssop has been around and gets around. 

A pretty lofty task for an unassuming looking green plant. I feel almost guilty taking it down a peg by pairing it with plain old workhorse blueberry but it turns out they make a great duo.

My hyssop plant was an impulse buy from the local farmers market. I don't expect most people who have a garden to have it on hand. You can substitute mint, rosemary, basil or any other type of herb for the hyssop and this recipe would work just as well.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Golden Beet Feta Tarragon Tart in a Whole Wheat Crust

This started out as a radish tart recipe originally found in a magazine but I could not find the radish variety I wanted to use for the tart (watermelon). Then I saw these gawgeous golden beets in the market and made up my own recipe.

The original recipe called for store bought pie crust. I made my own whole wheat version. I added feta and tarragon to the egg-based filling. 

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Red, White & Blue Hummus for Your Next Holiday Barbecue

Since I am back from Israel I have had hummus on the brain. There was a LOT of hummus consumption on that trip as well as a hummus making class in Jerusalem. 

One of the ah-ha moments I had in that class I took was the practice of thinning out the hummus with water. I always add more oil. The water gives the hummus a much better consistency. Sounds simple but I never got it until now. I love learning new things. The simple ones make me happiest.

Regular visitors here know I love to do terrible, well, some would say, delicious things to hummus. Only terrible if you are a stickler for the traditional variety. I add all sorts of herbs, veggies, and flavors. I've made nutty hummus and squashy hummus. I've carroted, olived, herbed and caramelized it. 

Don't judge. If you are a hummus purist or have an aversion to blue foods click away now. Don't say I didn't warn you. 

We throw a lot of parties at our Pennsylvania house. Many times I have wonderful foodie and food blogger friends join me in the kitchen and we cook up a storm. They contribute all sorts of creative and delectable dishes. 

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Kleckskuchen - Cherry Poppy Seed Streusel Cake

I am not going to lie. This cake is a production. There are 5 different elements to create to pull this thing together. However,  it's a cake with benefits. 

Not those benefits. Get your minds out of the gutter.

This dessert's benefits include: 1) It feeds a crowd 2) its unusual beauty  3) streusel 4) of course, it's delicious. 5) Did I mention streusel?

The best benefit of all is, you can say you made a "blob" cake.  The cake is called a Kleckskuchen in German which translates to something like "blob cake" which makes me giggle like a hyena. Say it with me, "Blob Cake. Blob Cake. Blob. Cake."

Kleckskuchen is a specialty of Oberlausitz or the Upper Lusatia region of Germany and Poland which dates back to the 1400s. Like most German desserts, it is comparatively low in sugar than it's American counterparts but does not sacrifice flavor. 

The recipe consists of a yeasted cake base and the four separate topping elements added on top of the cake base in blobs on to create the patchwork effect. 

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Nazareth: A Whirlwind of Delicious Foods and Warm Hospitality

Nazareth is many things. A city packed with historical and religious significance, a place where unique unifying efforts are being made between religions and cultures and a great foodie destination.

Located in the lower Galilee region of Israel and best known for its historical sites such as Mary's Well and Basilica of the Annunciation, Nazareth has been traditionally a day destination for many travelers. 

A mistake, in my opinion. There is so much more to this fascinating city aside from the checklist Jesus and Mary sites. The arts and food scenes are thriving. The people are wonderful and friendly. Nazareth is worth a few days stay.  

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Berry Blitz Torte: King Arthur Flour's Bakelaong May Challenge

This month's berry bakealong was a delicious combination of cake, meringue, berries and custard, all packed into one delicious torte.

When I first scanned the recipe. I thought, "Whoa. This is going to be a whole day affair. " Not so. The layers come together quickly. Make the custard ahead of time to make it all go much quicker.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Nettle Spätzle Gouda Nests

For most of you, this recipe is probably one of the most unusual you've seen in a while. Basically, it's homemade späztle and cheese folded into homemade bread dough, shaped into nests, brushed with sour cream, pan fried and then baked.

This recipe is something special and especially delicious, sort of a comfort food to ward off the spring chill that's in the air here on the east coast of the USA. 

You can use prepackaged unflavored spätzle and store bought bread dough to make these. However, I wanted to try out a new flavor for spätzle. It had to be nettle. I have been trying to work nettles into a dish for a while. If you want to switch out the cheese for another type, feel free. 

Friday, May 12, 2017

Asparagus with Creamy Ramp Goat Cheese Sauce

Here's a lovely way to celebrate spring and Mother's day at the same time in one dish. Just cooked bright emerald asparagus dousing in a creamy goat cheese ramp sauce. A perfect addition to your Mother's Day brunch table.

The ramps and fried in oil with shallots. Add the cream and the goat cheese, season and let the sauce thicken. While that is happening boil the asparagus for 5 minutes. You're done. I love easy dishes with complicated flavors. 

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Carrot Chervil Cream Cheese Tart

Chervil is abundant in most markets in Germany. However, I have a heck of a time finding chervil in the USA. What's the big deal? it's just fancy parsley, right? I've heard some other food bloggers complain about this as well. First world problem.

Instead of running from store to store in a frantic search, I decided to grow my own. I picked up a pot of chervil at my local farmer's market, plucking the leaves off to make this tart before I planted the rest in my garden.

If your store or market does not have chervil, make it easy on yourself and substitute curly parsley if you can't get your hands on what is basically French parsley. 

Monday, May 8, 2017

Strawberries & Cream MOM Almond Pastries

This easy peasy dessert is basically a riff on strawberry shortcake. Instead of a shortcake base, I used puff pastry. I made these for my husband's birthday a few weeks ago. I was a bit wary of serving something so simple but they were a hit with guests. 

In addition to a birthday brunch dessert, they make a great idea for Mother's Day. For my husband's gathering, I made heart shapes. I took it a bit further this time customizing the pastry with large cutters to spell out MOM. 

Friday, May 5, 2017

Fresh Spearmint Frozen Margaritas

It's Cinco de Mayo, a serious holiday celebrating Mexican military victory over the French. For many of us non-Mexicans (I'm looking at you Americans), it's become an excuse to chug solidarity margaritas. I am here today to perpetuate that stereotype with these minty margaritas. 

Many people are squeamish about spearmint flavor foods believing they taste like toothpaste. That may be true for some. I happen to love spearmint flavor. A big fan of spearmint lifesavers and spearmint leaves gummy candies since childhood.

In the past, I have experimented with sexy spearmint flavor in several incarnations. Vanilla Spearmint French Macarons, Spearmint Chocolate Truffles, and even Spearmint Fudge Ripple Ice Cream were all results of my spearmint recipe adventures.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Hazelnut Ramp Knödel

These are not my first visit to the ramp knödel rodeo. Last year I made Ramp Shallot Knödel. This time it was time to get nutty. 

I consider knödel both a comfort food and with a few twists of ingredients, like this version with ramps and hazelnuts, an unusual meal option to serve to guests. Knödel can be served by itself as the main dish with a side salad or as a side dish to the main meal. I also think it's a great brunch option. 

Toasting the hazelnuts in oil before adding them to the knödel mix intensified their mellow, sweet flavor. If you can't find ramps, you can substitute scallions and some garlic. 

Monday, May 1, 2017

Whole Wheat Ramp Walnut Bread

Happy May Day!  To celebrate I'm continuing my parade of ramp recipes using these fresh onion/garlic flavored lovelies. These recipes are marching from April right into the early days of May. 

Bread making was always a bit challenging for me. I don't always have the patience and skill to turn our gorgeous golden bread. Admittedly, it still is. I still hold my breath when I take a loaf out of the oven until I see if it's hard as a rock or the way more preferable fluffy and/or chewy.

This huge whole wheat bread is not only big on size but also on flavor. It is dense and chewy. I love nuts in bread and the combination of the toasted walnuts, buttermilk and ramps make this loaf extra delicious.