The Edible Pioneer Valley Cookie Collection

The Edible Pioneer Valley Cookie Collection

A collection of holiday recipes to sweeten every table

By Edible pioneer Valley, with help from our readers | Photography by Dominic Perri

No matter what you’re celebrating, nothing says “welcome!” like a tray of cookies. This holiday season, our gift to you is this collection of cookie recipes: Recipes from fellow readers, recipes from family, recipes from friends. We hope they make your winter memories that much sweeter. 

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20 Recipes for a Festive Fourth!

On the Grill

Photo courtesy Edible Capital District  Try using local lamb (or beef) in these Lamb Burgers with Raita from Edible Capital District
Photo courtesy of Edible Sarasota Grill up these non-traditional Cauliflower Burgers for a vegetarian option. Thanks to Edible Sarasota for this fresh approach!
Photo courtesy of Edible Tulsa Edible Tulsa's Chicken Burgers are a great way to show off local chicken and ripe tomatoes. 
2015_Apr30_EdiblePIoneerValley_Summer_035 Impress family and friends with Grilled Scallops with Caramel Corn Sauce from our Summer issue. No scallops? Shrimp make a great substitute!
Photo by Elaine Papa Don't let whole fish scare you away from the fish counter. Chef Giordano's Grilled Mackerel with Spicy Cabbage Slaw will convert you to the beauty of grilling whole fish.
grilled-feta-veggie-kebabs-1

 An unusual and delicious option is these Grilled Feta and Vegetable Kabobs from Edible Sarasota.

sutter_rec120  These Korean-Inspired Tacos from our Summer 2014 issue are a sure-fire crowd-pleaser. Want to go vegetarian? The marinade is fabulous on firm tofu or portabello mushrooms as well. 
franklin2  This classic Grilled Tri-Tip is a traditionally delicious approach to this beefy cut. 

Sides and Snacks 

11536508_891285734276327_6499994447551028885_o When it's hot out, a puckery pickle can help quench your thirst. These Quick Pickles are ready in a just an hour or two and can use up any veggies you have on hand. 
eV11_fromthemarket_elizabethcecil_02_650_434_90  Edible Vineyard shares Paula Wolfert's classic Fattoush recipe with us.
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The Curried Carrot Salad from Edible Vineyard is an elegant, yet simply-prepared, addition to your holiday weekend table. 

simply-Asian-tomato-salad  Ripe tomatoes? Tomato Salad to the rescue. Thanks Edible Green Mountains!
 Photo courtesy of Edible Indy http://edibleindy.ediblefeast.com/recipes/german-potato-salad
grilled-beet-salad  If the grill's hot, everything should get on there, even beets. Try them in this Grilled Beet Salad from Edible Santa Fe
whipped-goat-cheese-with-pea-shoots Need a snacky starter? Try these Whipped Goat Cheese Toasts from Edible Green Mountains. Up your holiday weekend chef credentials by grilling the toasts before topping them.
Photo courtesy of Edible Santa Barbara This Watercress and Spring Pea Salad from Edible Santa Barbara is a light, flavorful contrast to the traditional burgers and dogs. 

  Desserts 

Photo courtesy of Red Fire Farm  This Strawberry Cake is loaded with fresh fruit, easy to put together and can be made gluten free or vegan if you wish. Wait are you waiting for?
coversneak  This Blueberry Corn Bread from Edible Boston is a dessert crossed with a side dish. Perfect for nibbling all day.
Photo by Dominic Perri Virginia Willis' Cream Cheese Brownies are guaranteed to please the kids, the added fruit (via applesauce) pleases the parents. 
new-england-berry-galette-hoverfly Make Edible Green Mountains' Berry Galette extra festive for the Fourth by using strawberries and blueberries and giving it a dollop of whipped cream. 

 

 

8 Ways to Eat Your Strawberries

Strawberry season is upon us!

Juicy red jewels are popping up at farmstands across the Valley and U-Pick fields are opening every day. While nothing shouts "Summer!" more than fresh berries eaten out of hand, here are some recipes guaranteed to show off a basket of fresh berries. 

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Strawberry Mostarda

Traditional mostarda is a zesty condiment of fruit preserved in mustard oil. This is an easier adaption of the traditional recipe using fresh berries. 

Strawberry Salad Idaho South

Strawberry Salad

Strawberries, pine nuts and crisp cucumbers, all tossed with balsamic vinaigrette. Edible Idaho South brings us the recipe. 

Picture from Edible Ohio Valley

Three Strawberry Salad Dressings

Three recipes in one post! Thank you Edible Ohio Valley for three way to use fresh berries to garnish your salads, serve over grilled chicken or fish, and use as a vegetable dip. 

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Strawberry-Basil Cocktail

This charming cocktail from Maggie Battista makes a spirited start to any gathering.

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Fresh Strawberry Cake

Adapted from a Smitten Kitchen recipe, this cake is easily made ahead and can be made both vegan and gluten-free!

 

Strawberry Granita

From our friends at Edible Boston, this granita recipe makes a bright red, icy cooler for a hot summer day. No special equipment needed!

Picture from Edible DC 

Strawberry Tequila Sorbetto

Prefer your ice cream with a kick? Edible DC has you covered.

 

Strawberry-Basil Compote over Vanilla Ice Cream

This compote is a fresh topper for ice cream. If you prefer, enjoy it over yogurt and start your morning with bowlful of berries.

EDIBLE RADIO: A love for cookies with Mindy Segal

Sega_Cookie LoveKitchen Workshop host Mary Reilly, editor and publisher of Edible Pioneer Valley, speaks with Mindy Segal about her book Cookie Love, treating a cookie like a meal and building  your cookie making pantry. Mindy is the author of Cookie Love and the proprietor and pastry creator of Hot Chocolate Restaurant and Dessert Bar in Chicago. She has graciously shared her recipe for Fleur de Sel Shortbread with Vanilla Halvah.

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FLEUR DE SEL SHORTBREAD WITH VANILLA HALVAH

Segal_MindyI AM ALWAYS ON a quest to find more ways to use halvah in desserts. Coffee, chocolate, and cocoa nibs are my usual pairings with the Middle Eastern sesame confection, but one day I shifted gears in favor of vanilla and fleur de sel. It worked—halvah anchored the vanilla-flecked frosting, for a sweet, salty, nutty result. To finish the cookies, I dip them partially in dark milk chocolate and then place a shaving of halvah on top. The frosting is seasoned well to balance its sweetness, but because the cookies themselves carry a noticeable salt level, you may prefer to add less. If using a sea salt that is not as light and flaky as Murray River (see page 267 for a description of the salt), reduce the salt by 1 tablespoon.

To cut out the cookies, you will need a rectangular cutter approximately 13⁄4 by 21⁄2 inches. To pipe the frosting, you will need the Ateco tip #32.

Makes approximately 28 sandwich cookies.

SHORTBREAD

11⁄2 cups plus 2 tablespoons (13 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature

11⁄4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

2 extra-large egg yolks, at room temperature

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons sea salt flakes

FROSTING

8 ounces plain or vanilla halvah, cubed

2 ounces white chocolate, melted

11⁄4 cups (10 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted

1⁄2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1⁄2 teaspoon kosher salt

1⁄2 teaspoon sea salt flakes, or to taste

TO FINISH

Piece of plain or vanilla halvah, for garnish

8 ounces milk chocolate, melted

Fleur de Sel Shortbread with Vanilla Halvah CookieStep #1: Make the Shortbread

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the butter on medium speed for 5 to 10 seconds. Add the sugar and mix on low speed to incorporate. Increase the speed to medium and cream the butter mixture until it is aerated and looks like frosting, 3 to 4 minutes. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula to bring the batter together.

Put the yolks in a small cup or bowl and add the vanilla.

In a bowl, whisk together the flour and salt.

On medium speed, add the yolks, one at a time, and mix until the batter resembles cottage cheese, approximately 5 seconds for each yolk. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula to bring the batter together. Mix on medium speed for 20 to 30 seconds to make nearly homogeneous.

Add the flour mixture all at once and mix on low speed until the dough just comes together but still looks shaggy, approxi- mately 30 seconds. Do not overmix. Remove the bowl from the stand mixer. With a plastic bench scraper, bring the dough completely together by hand.

Stretch two sheets of plastic wrap on a work surface. Divide the dough in half and place each half on a piece of the plastic wrap. Pat each half into a rectangle, wrap tightly, and refrigerate until chilled throughout, at least 2 hours or preferably overnight.

Let the dough halves sit at room tempera- ture until the dough has warmed up some but is still cool to the touch, 15 to 20 minutes.

Put a sheet of parchment paper the same dimensions as a half sheet (13 by 18-inch) pan on the work surface and dust lightly with flour. Put one dough half on top.

Using a rolling pin, roll the dough half into a rectangle approximately 11 by 13 inches and 1⁄4 inch thick or slightly under. If the edges become uneven, push a bench scraper against the dough to straighten out the sides. To keep the dough from sticking to the parchment paper, dust the top with flour, cover with another piece of parchment paper, and, sandwiching the dough between both sheets of parch- ment paper, flip the dough and paper over. Peel off the top layer of parchment paper and continue to roll. Any time the dough starts to stick, repeat the sand- wiching and flipping step with the parchment paper.

Ease the dough and parchment paper onto a half sheet pan. Repeat with the remaining dough half and stack it on top. Cover with a piece of parchment paper and refrigerate the layers until firm, at least 30 minutes.

Heat the oven to 350°F. Line a couple of half sheet pans with parchment paper.

Let the dough sit at room temperature for up to 10 minutes. Invert the dough onto a work surface and peel off the top sheet of parchment paper. Roll a dough docker over the dough or pierce it numerous times with a fork. Using a 1 3⁄4 by 2 1⁄2-inch rectangular cutter, punch out the cookies. Reroll the dough trimmings, chill, and cut out more cookies.

Put the shortbread on the prepared sheet pans, evenly spacing up to 16 cookies per pan.

Bake one pan at a time for 10 minutes. Rotate the pan and bake until the cookies feel firm and hold their shape when touched, 3 to 5 minutes more. Let the cookies cool completely on the sheet pans. Repeat with the remaining pan.

Step #2: Frost the Cookies

Blend the halvah in a food processor until fairly smooth. Drizzle in the white chocolate and blend until incorporated. The halvah will turn into a thick paste.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the butter briefly on medium speed for 5 to 10 seconds. Add the sugar and beat until the butter mixture is aerated and pale in color, 3 to 4 minutes. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula to bring the frosting together. Briefly mix in the vanilla and salts until incorporated, approximately 1 minute. Add the halvah paste and mix until smooth, with a little texture left from the halvah.

Fit a pastry bag with the Ateco tip #32 and fill with the frosting.

Make pairs of similar-size cookies. Turn half of the cookies over. Leaving an 1⁄8-inch border, pipe rows of dots onto the cookies. The frosting should be approximately as thick as the cookie. Top each frosted cookie with a second cookie and press lightly to adhere.

Step #3: Finish the Cookies

Freeze the piece of halvah until chilled, 30 minutes.

Line two half sheet pans with parchment paper. Dip a quarter of the long side
of each sandwich cookie into the milk chocolate, shake off the excess, and place on the prepared pans. Using a vegetable peeler, shave a piece or two of halvah and place onto the chocolate- dipped part of each cookie. Refrigerate until the chocolate is firm, approximately 1 hour.

The cookies can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

EDIBLE RADIO: Tomatomania!

TomatomaniaKitchen Workshop host Mary Reilly, editor and publisher of Edible Pioneer Valley, speaks to Scott Daigre about his book Tomatomania. Written with Jenn Garbee, Tomatomania tell us all we need to know about selecting, planting and growing gorgeous juicy tomatoes!

We talked about planting the perfect tomato plot and his favorite tomato recipe. Learn more about becoming a tomatomaniac at www.tomatomania.com.

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Favorite Tomato recipeMy Favorite Tomato Recipe

Rigorously tested countless times. Foolproof. Pick a ripe, beautifully colored, and slightly soft tomato off the vine. The only thing better than trying this with one perfectly ripe, juicy tomato? Trying it with ten perfectly ripe tomatoes of different colors and types. You’re welcome!

WASH IT. (Or not.)

CUT IT. (Or not.)

SALT IT. (Or not.)

EAT IT. (Best done outdoors.)

Sure, many of you will eliminate the salt-it step and that’s fine with me. You’ve worked really hard to get to this step and final product. Don’t miss the opportunity to savor the basic essence of this crop you’ve grown in your own backyard. Dive right in!

Pineapple (Tomato) Upside-Down Cake

Makes 1 cake; 8 to 10 servings

image001Super sweet and citrusy tomatoes alike are pretty near perfect in this rustic cornmeal cake. Use bicolor yellow varieties splashed with streaks of red, such as sweet Pineapple tomatoes (you bet there is a Pineapple variety!) if you have them. Citrusy green tomatoes mellow a bit color-wise when baked, but are also fantastic.

1 pound (1 very large or two medium) very ripe, sweet tomatoes

8 tablespoons (1 stick) plus 3 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature, divided, plus more to butter the cake pan

½ cup dark brown sugar, packed

2 teaspoons orange zest, packed (about 1 medium orange), fruit reserved for juicing

1 teaspoon lemon zest, packed (about 1 medium lemon)

½ cup honey

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

½ cup sour cream

¼ cup freshly squeezed orange juice

¾ cup all-purpose flour

1 cup cornmeal

1½ teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

Crème fraîche and honey, to serve (optional)

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly butter a 9-inch round cake pan, line the bottom with parchment paper, and butter the paper. Slice the tomatoes 1⁄3 inch thick and spread them out on paper towels to drain.
  1. Melt 3 tablespoons butter over medium-high heat in a small saucepan. Add the brown sugar and cook just until the sugar is melted, about 1 minute. Pour the brown sugar paste into the prepared cake pan and immediately spread it out as evenly as possible using a heat-proof spatula. Combine the orange and lemon zests and sprinkle 1 teaspoon over the top of the brown sugar.
  1. Combine the remaining 8 tablespoons butter, honey, eggs, sour cream, orange juice, and remaining 2 teaspoons of orange-lemon zest in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix well. (Alternatively, use a hand mixer.) In a small bowl, whisk the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, add the butter mixture, and mix until just combined.
  1. Blot any moisture off the tomatoes and arrange them decoratively in the bottom of the pan. (I like to leave a little space between the slices to see the patterns in each). Pour the batter over the tomatoes. Bake until the cake is lightly brown, starts to pull away from the sides, and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Allow the cake to cool in the pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes. Run a knife around the edges of the pan, place a serving plate on top, and (wearing oven mitts!), flip the cake onto the plate. Allow the cake to cool completely. To gild the lily, serve the cake with a dollop of creme fraiche and a drizzle of honey.

Prime picks: Sweet bicolors like Pineapple, Gold Medal, or Grandma Viney’s Yellow Pink, or citrusy green varieties such as Ananas Noire (Black Pineapple) or Aunt Ruby’s German Green.

School Celebrations: Maintaining Tradition Far From Home

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By Ryan Cashman | Photographs by Dominic Perri

Over the river and through the wood, to Grandfather’s house we go …”

Over 170 years ago Lydia Maria Child perfectly expressed the excitement of an impending family celebration (in her case, Thanksgiving at her grandfather’s home in Medford). The spirit of this poem continues to resonate with many of us and going home for the holidays is a key part of many family traditions.

Each year, thousands of international students call the Pioneer Valley’s colleges and universities home. Ryan Cashman, a student at Westfield State University, visited with members of the international community at three different schools and shares their stories with us.

For Max Saito food is more than just sustenance.

“Food is important to relationships and friendships and being together, and is important to your health,” he says. “It’s essential.”

Max was born and raised in Japan, in the Yamagata Prefecture. He came to America in 1989 and is now an associate professor in the communications department at Westfield State University. Max and his family embrace the traditions and foods associated with the New Year celebration. He explains that “It’s really about celebrating good luck, good health, good fortune, safety.”

The foods on the table play a role larger than simple nourishment. Beans and mochi (glutinous rice), for instance: “Beans bring good health and good luck. Mochi gives you strength and longevity,” Max explains while miming stretching out the rice with his hands. “Mochi also gives you a lot of energy.”

Soba noodles are another dish that represents long life and are also a very important dish in the Japanese New Year tradition.

New Year Soba (Toshikoshi Soba

Dashi is a seasoned stock made with kombu (dried kelp) and bonito flakes (shaved skipjack tuna). It’s the base of many Japanese noodle dishes and miso soup. Yields 4 servings.

6 cups dashi (Recipe here)

⅔ cup soy sauce

⅓ cup mirin

1 tablespoon sugar

8 ounces soba noodles (buckwheat noodles)

Garnishes: 1 bunch scallions, green parts sliced very thin, fish cakes, tempura flakes, nori (seaweed)

Simmer together the dashi, soy sauce, mirin, and sugar. Keep warm for serving.

Cook soba noodles in a large pot of boiling water, according to package directions. Drain the noodles and rinse in cool water, gently rubbing them to remove any excess starch on the surface of the noodle.

Pour the hot dashi broth into soup bowls. Distribute the soba noodles equally. Add garnishes of your choice.

Nay Paing is a sophomore majoring in political economy and third world development at Hampshire College. When the winter winds start to blow he thinks fondly of the warm weather in his home country. Burma, officially known as the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, is a country in Southeastern Asia and is bordered by Bangladesh, China, India, Laos, and Thailand. The country sits between the Equator and the Tropic of Cancer, giving it a tropical climate with yearly monsoons and humid summers.

The Burmese celebrate the full moon on Tabodwe (which usually occurs in February). Paing says the traditional celebration dish is htamanè. Tradition requires that this snack be prepared in large quantities by several people (usually men) working together.

“I don’t know how to make any of this stuff,” Paing confesses. But, he said, it tastes good.

Htamanè

Our version of htamanè is nontraditional in that it’s made in a fairly small quantity. If you’re feeding a crowd, it doubles easily. The traditional dish is also kneaded together by several cooks to form a rice dough or paste. A simple way to knead the rice is in a stand mixer with paddle attachment. (Htamanè is pictured on page 1.) Yields about 4 cups.

¼ cup oil

1½ cups glutinous rice (also called sweet rice), soaked overnight in water and drained well

2-inch piece of ginger, peeled and cut into fine slivers

¾ cups water

1 teaspoon salt

1 banana leaf, cut to fit the top of your cooking vessel, optional (you can find banana leaves in the freezer section of Asian markets)

½ cup roasted peanuts, chopped

½ cup sesame seeds

½ cup shredded coconut

In a wok or wide skillet (12-inch) heat oil until very hot and nearly smoking.

Add soaked rice (be careful: The liquid in the rice may cause a fair amount of spattering) and ginger and sauté for 5 minutes. Add water, salt, bring to boil.

Lay the banana leaf over the top of the rice, if using. Cover the pan and cook over very low heat for 20 minutes. Turn off heat and let rice steam for another 10 minutes.

Add remaining ingredients and stir into the rice. Drain off any excess oil. Serve.

Sidonio “Sid” Ferreira, director of enrollment services and instructional support, is the founder of the Cape Verdean Student Alliance at UMass Amherst. Christmas is the biggest celebration of the year in the culture of Cape Verde, an island nation off the west coast of Africa.

“It was never hard for me or any of us to bring our traditions over to America,” he says. “When we immigrated we went to New Bedford … everything we needed in terms of food was available and everyone was celebrating. It was pretty easy to bring our traditions and keep them alive.

“On Christmas Eve we all have a boiled codfish dinner.” Salted cod, or bacalhau, is a traditional Portuguese ingredient and it was introduced to Cape Verde when the islands were still a Portuguese colony. In Sid’s home, bacalhau is soaked in a tub of water to draw out all of the salt and is then boiled with potatoes, carrots, yams, and kale.

“We serve it with lots of oil and vinegar,” says Sid.

And of course, “desserts are very important!” Sid exclaims. The most important dessert is the pudim de queijo (milk pudding), a baked goat’s cheese dessert similar to flan.

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Pudim de Queijo (Milk Pudding) 

You may also bake this in individual custard cups or ramekins if you prefer. They will take less time, about 15–20 minutes.

1 cup (240 grams) sugar

1 cup water

8 ounces soft goat cheese (chevre), crumbled

2 eggs

4 egg yolks

Bring a pot of water to a boil. Preheat oven to 350°. Grease an 8-inch glass pie pan with butter or pan spray.

Combine sugar and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer until the liquid is the consistency of a thick syrup. Add the cheese and mix well. Remove from heat and let cool slightly. Beat in eggs and yolks.

Pour in the cheese mixture. Place the pie into a roasting pan large enough to hold it and pour boiling water into the roasting pan to about halfway up the pie pan’s sides.

Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the pudim jiggles just slightly when you jostle the pie pan. Cool before unmolding and serving.

Ryan Cashman is a junior communications major at Westfield State University. He writes for the campus newspaper.

Lying Lovingly: Sneak "Healthy" Into Your Desserts

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squash

Story by Christine Burns Rudalevige | Photographs by Dominic Perri

The cacao is one evergreen tree not likely to be at home in the Pioneer Valley anytime soon. It greatly prefers the warmer climes of Central and South America and West Africa, which don’t experience Western Massachusetts wintertime weather.

But that is not to say that cocoa powder and full-blown chocolate bars, chips, chunks, and shavings can’t be paired up with a host of local ingredients in heartwarming chocolate treats exchanged between lovers, family members, and friends.

Fresh local eggs and dairy are two obvious inclusions in chocolate-heavy baked goods. But fruits like apples, pears, and dried plums (previously known as prunes) and hearty vegetables like beets and winter squash can be cooked, puréed, and stirred into batters and bases to add both moisture and nutrition to cakes, muffins, and brownies without changing the rich chocolaty flavor. These additives also allow bakers to cut back a little bit of the fat, if that is a goal, without much notice taken by the eater.

Baker Laura Puchalski, owner of the 2nd Street Baking Co. in Turners Falls, says that when you are looking to slip a little extra nutritional love into a chocolate treat, it is imperative that the cocoa powder and chocolate you use be of high quality. She routinely turns to many of the Fair Trade options widely available in both health food and grocery stores in the Pioneer Valley.

Cookbook author Virginia Willis, who splits her time between homes in Hatfield and Atlanta, says adding buttermilk to chocolate desserts tends to heighten their flavor due to buttermilk’s slightly acidic demeanor. The constitution of buttermilk has changed: Once simply the liquid left over when butter was made from cultured cream, today’s store-bought version is low-fat milk infused with a culture that sours and slightly thickens it.

Many baking recipes call for only a cup of buttermilk, which is typically sold in quart containers. To make a quick buttermilk substitute from local milk you’ve already bought from market, simply add 1 teaspoon of white vinegar to 1 cup of low-fat or whole milk.

Each of the following recipes—contributed by Puchalski; Willis; Vermont-based food writer, recipe developer, and photographer Katie Webster; and myself—introduces an ingredient or two—some local, some a bit more foreign, but all to help address dietary issues—that can help you put just a little bit more love into this year’s holiday treats along with the chocolate.

redvelvet copy

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Cream Cheese Kissed Red Velvet Mini Cupcakes 

Chef, food stylist, and cookbook author (and part-time Hatfield resident) Virginia Willis is a recent convert to using vibrant local beets as the coloring agent for her Red Velvet cakes and cupcakes. They also

contribute to the very moist crumb on these little sweets. 

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mousse

Avocado Chocolate Pudding with Whipped Coconut Cream 

Baker Laura Puchalski, owner of the 2nd Street Baking Co. in Turners Falls, developed this recipe to provide vegan, gluten-free, and dairy-free eaters with a little chocolate love. Bakers can adapt the type of milk, sweetener, and flavoring to their dietary needs and tastes. She recommends using high-quality Fair Trade cocoa powder for the pudding, and suggests getting the can of coconut milk––as well as the bowl you’ll be whipping it up in––as cold as possible in order to get the best whipped coconut cream. 

brownies

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Claire’s Cream Cheese Brownies

In Virginia Willis’s new cookbook called Lighten Up, Y’all (Ten Speed Press, March 2015), she gives credit to French-trained pastry chef Claire Perez for helping her build the recipe for these dark, rich, knock-your-socks-off chocolate brownies. Willis likes to call these “grown woman” brownies, and advises to make them for yourself and your loved ones rather than the next PTA meeting. The secret ingredients are local applesauce and buttermilk. 

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Fiber-Filled Flourless Chocolate Torte

Katie Webster is a food writer, recipe developer, and photographer who focuses on seasonal, healthy eating in the Burlington, Vermont, area. She eats chocolate every single day. With this recipe, she sneaks in a cup of pitted prunes to add both moisture and fiber to this dense torte. You really only notice the chocolate. Webster blogs at HealthySeasonalRecipes.com and is working on her first cookbook: It’s about cooking sweet and savory dishes with maple syrup. 

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Triple Chocolate Winter Squash Muffins

When I ask my 16-year-old son if he liked the newest version of chocolate chip muffins I’d made him and his sister for breakfast, he typically grunts, “Yes.” But that affirmation is always followed by an accusation: “Why? What did you slip into them this time?”

He knows me well. There is a cup of puréed winter squash in these. You can use butternut, acorn or blue Hubbard. I prefer the latter, and my son doesn’t even notice, really. 

Christine Burns Rudalevige grew up in Berkshire County but currently calls Maine home. There, she writes about sustainably sourced foods and develops and tests recipes that use them. Contact her at cburns1227@gmail.com.

Pop Culture

By Sanford D’Amato

As a baby boomer I was a witness to the first generation of convenience foods. Not just a witness, actually—I had a front row seat from the age of five, from behind the counter of my dad’s grocery store.

It started in the freezer, with Swanson’s turkey TV dinners. Once the floodgates were opened, they would never close.

Up to this time all our meals were “Leave It To Beaver”-like, with my mother making everything from scratch. But when convenience foods slowly crept onto our dinner table, there was no shame—just the opposite, as each new product was unveiled with the excitement of a Broadway opening!

Somewhere between the time I was waiting for the Sara Lee Cheesecake to defrost and the Pepperidge Farm Raspberry Turnovers to rise in the oven, the coolest thing happened: It was 1964, the year that the Beatles invaded the United States, the first Mustang was released, and the Civil Rights Act was signed into law. And in the food world, the first Pop-Tart was unleashed on the public.

I couldn’t wait as my dad brought in the case from the wholesaler. We extracted a box and pulled out the 1960s-appropriate foil packaging—almost Tang-like—which held two flat toaster-ready strawberry-jam-filled rectangles. Within seconds the toaster in the store’s back room set off its Pavlovian “cha-chink” and we were both juggling and blowing on the hot pastries at the same time.

This was a magical moment—until the first bite: kind of dry with really mediocre gluey, friend-of-strawberry filling! That may sound harsh but I’ll admit it: I’m a candy/dessert snob. My credentials? 1955–1968: Official Candy Taster, D’Amato’s Grocery. I tasted every one of the 80+ types of candy that would cross our counter to be purchased by the salivating crowds. My self-appointed duties also included tasting every new sweet or savory product that was introduced over the years.

Even though the taste of the Pop-Tart made it a “NOT-Tart” for me, I still thought the idea was absolutely brilliant. So on the 50th anniversary of the Pop-Tart, I’m making a tart influenced by both the original and my dad.

At this time of year at the winter markets, it’s a toss-up which is the quintessential late-season fruit. Apple is the undisputed leader, being synonymous with cider. But even though I will consume almost my body weight in fresh-picked apples through the season, I still crave the perfectly ripe pear.

My first, and still favorite, pear is the Bartlett. When its skin turns that beautiful warm yellow, that is the day I take a bite and know there is no better fruit. With the rugged Bosc pear it is trickier to capture that perfect moment, as they are a drier sort. But when you do, they are full of deep, assertive, complex flavors.

My dad was a pear whisperer. He would pick one out of the large case when he was stocking the store shelves and set it aside. Some 14 to 53 hours later, he would pick it up, cut it in half, remove the core, and slice it into wedges. He would then muscle out the half wheel of Pecorino Romano from the unrefrigerated case in the back and cut a mess of finger-sized pieces of the pungent, slightly salty cheese. As fragrant as the cheese was, the ripe pear gave it right back, a yin-yang combo that influenced how I ate from that point on.

This recipe is based on the flavor profile I learned at an early age. It affected how I make desserts as I always try to balance on the savory side of the sweet. I feel the combination of the fragrant rosemary in the dough and the slightly spicy candied ginger in the filling balance off the sharp Tomme from Robinson Farm over in Hardwick and sautéed pears.

Don’t be afraid to pop them in the toaster to reheat, as almost every pastry is better when warm. After 50 years, it’s still a brilliant idea!

 

KITCHEN WORKSHOP: CREAM PUFFS AND MORE WITH DORIE GREENSPAN

Dorie Greenspan – Photo by Alan Richardson

The Kitchen Workshop Kitchen Workshop host Mary Reilly, editor and publisher of Edible Pioneer Valley, speaks to Dorie Greenspan about her latest book Baking Chez Moi, Recipes from my Paris Home to your Home Anywhere. Listen and learn about falling in love (with pastry), the intricacies of working with French butter in American kitchens and the secret of “The French Bake”.

Learn more about Dorie Greenspan

Order the book from a local, independent bookseller:


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We discussed success with cream puffs on the show. Here is Dorie’s recipe for Chocolate Cream Puffs with Mascarpone Filling

Chocolate Cream Puffs with Mascarpone Filling
Makes 15 puffs

For about twenty-four hours, I thought I had invented chocolate pâte à choux, and those hours were pretty sweet. I’d never tasted chocolate cream puffs, I’d never seen them and I was so tickled that I’d made them. And then chocolate cream puffs seemed to pop up in books and magazines, pâtisseries and restaurants everywhere. Had I just never noticed?

While everything made with pâte à choux is dramatic, these are both dramatic and sexy. It’s the magic of that vixen, cocoa. There’s not much of it in the dough, but it’s enough to transform the traditional cream puff, to turn it dark, dark brown and to give it a true chocolate flavor.

The puffs make wonderful Profiteroles and they’re fun with a crackle top, but I like them most filled with something velvety, like chocolate mousse or a mix of mascarpone and whipped cream, as in this recipe. Consider going totally romantic and adding a little rose extract (available online) to the mascarpone filling, maybe even tinting it pink, and then surprising your Valentine with a platter piled high with puffs.

For the cream puffs

½ cup (68 grams) all-purpose flour
1½ tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/3 cup (80 ml) water
¼ cup (60 ml) whole milk
½ stick (4 tablespoons;
2 ounces; 57 grams) unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1 tablespoon sugar
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
2 large eggs, at room temperature
For the filling
½ cup (113 grams) mascarpone, chilled
½ cup (120 ml) very cold heavy cream
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or ½ teaspoon pure rose extract, preferably Star Kay
White, or rose water to taste
Red food coloring (optional)
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting To make the puffs:

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

Sift the flour and cocoa together into a small bowl.

Put the water, milk, butter, sugar and salt in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the flour and cocoa all at once, lower the heat to medium-low and, using a wooden spoon or sturdy heatproof spatula, stir like mad. The mixture will come together in a ball and there will be a film on the bottom of the pan, but don’t stop stirring—give it another minute of energetic beating. Transfer the hot dough to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or a large bowl in which you can use a hand mixer, and let it rest for 2 minutes.

Beat the dough for 1 minute, then add the eggs one by one, beating very well after each egg goes in. You’ll have a smooth, shiny dough.

Place mounds of dough on the baking sheets using a small cookie scoop (one with a 2-teaspoon capacity, my tool of choice) or dropping the dough by small spoonfuls; leave about 2 inches between them.

Slide the baking sheet into the oven, then immediately reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees F. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, rotating the sheet at the midway point, or until the puffs feel hollow and lift off the paper or mat easily. Cool to room temperature on a cooling rack before filling.

To make the filling:

Put the mascarpone in a medium bowl and, using a flexible spatula, stir it gently to loosen it. Beating makes mascarpone grainy, so go easy.

Whip the heavy cream in a small bowl just until it starts to thicken. Beat in the sugar and vanilla or rose extract and continue to whip until the cream holds medium peaks. If you’re using red food coloring, add a drop and mix it in, then add more coloring, if needed. Continue to mix until the cream holds firm peaks. Stir a spoonful of the cream into the mascarpone to lighten it, then gently fold in the remainder.

(The cream can be made a few hours ahead and refrigerated.)

To fill the puffs: Just before serving, cut or carefully pull the cream puffs apart at their middles. If you’d like, you can hollow out the base of the puffs by removing the custardy interior. (I like the creamy center and always leave it.) Spoon or pipe some filling (using a pastry bag with a plain tip or a zipper-lock plastic bag from which you’ve snipped off a corner) into the base of each puff; replace the tops. If you’d like, the puffs can be chilled for about 30 minutes.

Dust the puffs with confectioners’ sugar just before serving.

Serving:

The puffs should be served at room temperature or slightly chilled. If you want to go deliciously overboard, you could pass some chocolate sauce at the table. Storing: The cream puffs can be scooped and frozen for up to 2 months before baking—bake them from the freezer, no defrosting necessary. And the cream filling can be made a few hours ahead and kept refrigerated. However, it’s best to fill the puffs just before serving.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

The Not-So-Strange Case of Dr. Plum and Mr. Prune

By Sanford D’Amato

With Halloween approaching, there is nothing better to strike fear into kids than a scary movie. One of my favorite old films is Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, from the R. L. Stevenson book, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, which became a way to describe the tug-of-war between internal good and evil. 

It seems that some very common foods have that same good and evil DNA in people’s minds. These foods, and their split personalities, have the ability to paralyze us. There is no way our hands will deliver these foods to our mouths. Vegetables are the usual suspects but even some fruits have this ability. 

My first realization of this was long ago...

I’m bounding down the painted cement stairs, half holding on to the concave handrail. It is worn away and heavily patinaed from years of supporting miniature grimy, sweaty hands fresh from the upstairs playground. As I hit the bottom stair, a nun points to the bathroom door to the right. Rough granules spill from the dry soap dispenser onto my darkened paws and as I rub them under the faucet, they magically brighten before my eyes. 

I leave and as I’m walking toward the large arch, it hits me, that smell. It’s like an over-baked ziti casserole mixed with pencil shavings and lead—#2, if I’m not mistaken. It’s hot lunch time, the best part of my grade school day. As I grab my tray, I know that no matter what the daily menu is I can depend on there being a small parfait glass filled with some type of canned fruit. It ranges from the real crowd-pleasers—fruit cocktail, sliced peaches, or pears—to the almost exotic apricot halves or the dreaded prunes, bobbing in their mud-colored syrup. I say “dreaded” because of the angst that would spread through the line as the first person got to the window. Our only way out was to borrow a leftover wax paper bag from someone who brought their lunch from home, de-pit them, place the pits in the glass dish, deposit the prune flesh in the bag, then mule it out—all under the falcon-vision of the black-habited monitors.

As I make this dessert today, all I can think about is that the same folks who would have had trouble keeping down a stewed prune would be completely smitten with a plum tart. Prunes are the ugly, wrinkled, almost deformed Mr. Hyde to the handsome, smooth and dignified “plummy” Dr. Jekyll and most folks never put together the fact that they come from the same body! 

Coming from the French or Italian varieties, in their fresh state, these dusky ovals are freestone, which means they are easy to handle. And they have a dry constitution, which during baking causes the internal juices to slowly render out and form their own delicious sticky sweet-tart glaze. When dried, their flavor intensifies to a higher plane giving even a small wedge the ability to explode on the palate with a deep, juicy, mature richness. 

The first of my two recipes is with oven-half-dried fresh plums from the Northampton farmers market with “Halloween scary” liver from Sutter Meats, which I think you’ll find offal-ly good. 

You may have forgotten that it was the law that you had to be at least on Social Security before you would willingly consume a prune. But have an open mind when you try my second recipe for Prune and Fig Kisses. After the first taste Mr. Hyde might not look so frightening. And even though he can’t go back to being a plum, I think you’ll see after trying both Jekyll and Hyde that they are not so very different after all.

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2014_Aug4_EdiblePioneerValley_Recipes_1968_2100px

Sautéed Liver with Plums, Bacon, Scallions, and Sage Brown Butter

If you don’t often cook liver at home, this is a nice introduction to this cut. Veal liver will be the mildest and with pork and lamb liver having a stronger flavor. You can roast the plums for this dish up to a day ahead of time.

3 Italian plums (also called prune plums; substitute another type of plum if Italian plums aren’t available)

2 slices thick-cut bacon, each slice cut into ¼-inch pieces

2 (6-ounce) slices fresh beef, veal, pork, or lamb liver (about ½ inch thick)

¼ cup whole milk

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Wondra flour, to dust liver

3 tablespoons butter

2 scallions, washed, trimmed, and cut in 1-inch pieces on the bias

6 fresh sage leaves

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

½ teaspoon fresh lemon juice 

Roast the plums: Cut plums in half, remove pits, cut each half in half, and bake in a 250° oven for 1 hour; let cool.

Place a sauté pan, large enough to hold the liver in 1 layer without crowding, over medium heat. When pan is hot, add the bacon and render until golden, about 3–4 minutes. Strain out the bacon and reserve the bacon and fat separately. Place liver in the milk, remove, and season with salt and pepper. Dust liver with Wondra.

Wipe out the sauté pan and place it back over medium-high heat. When pan is hot, add the reserved bacon fat. When fat is hot, remove the liver from the flour and pat off the excess. Add liver to the pan and sauté until golden, 2–3 minutes per side or to your desired doneness.

Put the liver onto warmed dinner plates. Discard any remaining fat from the pan. Add butter to the pan and place over medium heat. When butter is golden brown, add the plums, scallions, sage, and reserved bacon and toss. Immediately add the vinegar and lemon juice, stir, spoon over the liver, and serve. Season with salt to taste.

Yield: 2 servings

Prune and Fig Cinnamon Kisses

Don’t let fear of frying keep you from making this dessert.  Just make sure you heat your oil (about 2 inches) in a deep pot, and don’t crowd the oil with too many kisses at once.

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2014_July24_EdiblePioneerValley_Recipes_1399_2100px

2 cups dried pitted prunes, diced small 

1½ cups dried Mission figs, stem removed, diced small

¾ cup pitted dates, diced small

2 bay leaves

4 star anise

⅜ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 

¼ cup dark rum

1 cup water

1¾ tablespoon orange rind

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

1 cup slivered almonds

1 teaspoon peanut oil

1 package wonton wrappers (need 48 wrappers)

2 egg yolks mixed with 1 tablespoon water

Cinnamon Sugar (recipe follows) 

In a 12-inch nonstick pan, add prunes, figs, dates, bay leaves, anise, ⅛ teaspoon of the salt, pepper, rum, water, orange rind, and lemon juice and bring up to a simmer and cook, mixing, until dry. Remove the star anise and bay leaves and cool.

In a separate pan, mix together the almonds, oil, and the remaining salt. Bake in a 350° oven for about 12 minutes, tossing frequently during baking, until golden brown. Remove and cool.

Chop almonds into a small dice. Mix with the dried fruit mixture. Place about 1 tablespoon of the mixture in the middle of each wonton wrapper. Brush a bit of the egg mixture on 2 adjoining sides of the wrapper, about ¼ inch in from the end. Fold over the other side and seal well. Deep-fry in batches in 360° peanut oil for about 1 minute, until golden brown. Drain briefly on absorbent paper, then toss in Cinnamon Sugar. Serve warm. 

Yield: 48 kisses

For the Cinnamon Sugar:

½ cup superfine sugar

1 tablespoon cinnamon

Mix ingredients together in a large bowl.

Sanford (Sandy) D’Amato is a James Beard Award–winning chef who teaches cooking classes at Good Stock Farm, his home in Hatfield. He is the former chef/owner of Sanford Restaurant in Milwaukee, WI, and the author of GOOD STOCK: Life on a Low Simmer, his memoir with recipes. Learn more about Sandy and good Stock Farm cooking classes at GoodStockFarm.com.