Steamed Brown Bread

February 3, 2009

When you need something to warm your heart and bones, try my sister’s brown bread. Yes, you can steam it in a soup can, and, yes, it is deliciously rich and wonderfully good for you. Slather on some cream cheese and you’ll have a sumptuous breakfast.

PS Soup-can brown bread makes a delightful gift-from-the-kitchen.

1 ½ cups white cornmeal
1 ½ cups whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose white flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 cup dark molasses
2 cups dark raisins
2 cups buttermilk

In a large mixing bowl, mix the cornmeal, whole wheat flour, white flour, salt, and baking soda. Add the molasses, raisins, and buttermilk. Spray one 1-quart mold and two to three 10 ¾-ounce soup cans with cooking spray. Fill all containers two-thirds full of batter. With kitchen twine, tie aluminum foil tightly around the tops. Place the mold and cans on racks in Dutch ovens. Fill the Dutch ovens with water halfway up the sides of the containers. Heat to boiling, reduce heat to medium low, cover, and simmer for 2 hours 30 minutes. Add water as needed.

Carefully remove the mold and cans from the Dutch ovens. Remove the foil tops. If the bread is still wet, bake at 250 degrees F for 15 to 30 minutes. Turn out the bread to cool on a wire rack.
Makes one 1-quart mold and 2 to 3 soup cans.

From All-American Comfort Food

Chocolate Raspberry Napoleons With Raspberry Mascarpone Cream

February 22, 2008

The Viking Dinner Yurt in Park City, Utah

Yurts are portable, tent-like structures used for centuries by Mongolian nomads in the steppes of Central Asia. Yurts are also a God-send for cross-country skiers in the mountainous American West, providing trail-side lodging (and some include full catering!) for hikers or — in winter– cross country skiers. In most cases, this means one only has to carry one’s clothing from yurt to yurt, and sometimes even this service can be provided. 

There is beautiful skiing this time of year in the Minnesota Boundary Waters, if Sam and Harry don’t mind doing some of the cooking.  Après ski, Sam would be fully justified in using as much butter as she’d like!  For a considerable step up in luxury, the Blue Moon Yurt in McCall, Idaho offers a 5-course gourmet dinner, while at the Viking Dinner Yurt in Utah (elevation: 8000 feet!), Sam and Harry could feast on an elegant, Scandanavian-style dinner.  The Viking’s award-winning menu often features a scrumptious soft-berry dessert, and the whole deal (including the chef) arrives via snowmobile! – Almostgotit


Chocolate Layers:
8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped

Raspberry Mascarpone Cream:
1 – 8 ounce container mascarpone cheese* or 8 ounce package cream cheese (room temp)
¼ cup sugar
2 Tablespoons Framboise (or other raspberry liqueur)
1 cup chilled heavy whipping cream

Red Raspberry Puree:
2 cups whole frozen raspberries (about 8 ounces) thawed
2 Tablespoons Framboise (or other raspberry liqueur), may add more to taste
3 Tablespoons sugar
1 Tablespoon cornstarch


For Chocolate Layers: 
Cover the bottom of a cookie sheet or jelly roll pan with foil, tucking ends under, making sure foil is tight.  Mark 15 x 9-inch rectangle on foil.  In top of double boiler set over barely simmering water, melt chocolate (do not allow bottom of pan to touch water) stirring until smooth, approximately 5-7 minutes.  Pour onto foil and spread quickly and evenly to the same thickness to cover rectangle; a pastry chef’s knife works best.  Chill in refrigerator until set but not hard, about 7 minutes.  With a sharp knife, cut chocolate rectangle lengthwise into three equal strips, each about three inches wide.  Cut each strip into six equal pieces, each about two and one-half inches wide.  Chill one hour.  (Can be made one week ahead.  Cover; keep refrigerated).

For Raspberry Mascarpone Cream: 
Beat mascarpone cheese, sugar and Framboise together in a medium bowl with an electric mixer.  Add half the cream and beat until soft peaks form.  Add the rest of the cream and beat until thick and stiff.  Cover and chill for one hour.

For Raspberry Puree: 
Place thawed raspberries in food processor or blender.  Strain through a fine sieve to remove seeds and place in small saucepan.  Stir sugar and cornstarch together and add to puree, along with the Framboise.  Heat, stirring until thickened and glossy.  Refrigerate until ready to use.  (Note: if puree is too cold it may be too thick to create decorative hearts—microwave for 30-40 seconds before use).

To Assemble Napoleons: 
Place one chocolate square on each of the six plates.  Spread with three tablespoons of the raspberry mascarpone cream mixture. Use a toothpick to dot edges of mascarpone cream with the raspberry puree.  Draw the toothpick through the center of each dot to slightly below center, to create a heart shape.  Top with another chocolate piece, spread mascarpone over, repeat with raspberry puree dots/hearts.  Top with last chocolate piece and finish with a dollop of mascarpone cream and garnish with fresh raspberries and/or puree and shaved chocolate.

May be plated with a pool of additional raspberry puree.  Approximate preparation time: 40 minutes plus chilling time .  SERVES 6

Italian mascarpone cheese is available at Italian markets and many supermarkets.

Recipe provided by the Oregon Raspberry & Blackberry Commission

Carrot Cake

June 3, 2007


Carrots are vegetables. Vegetables are good for you. Vegetables loom large on the food pyramid. Does this mean you can eat Carrot Cake anytime your heart desires? I believe it does. People put a lot of extra stuff in carrot cakes, like coconut and pineapple, but to my way of thinking, all you really need is carrots, spices, and nuts. Here’s your chance to use a good quality cake flour like White Lily. If you don’t have a good source of spices—and supermarket spices, in my opinion, tend to be stale—try a company like Penzys. And there’s more … Remember I told you you can make a great icing out of cream cheese and confectioner’s sugar? Here’s a recipe for that also. So wonderful! Have fun! SAM

1 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup salad oil
1/3 cup water
3 eggs
4 large carrots, finely shredded (2 cups)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup chopped pecans
Cream Cheese-Pecan Icing (recipe follows)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans and set aside.

With an electric mixer fitted with beaters or the paddle attachment, beat the sugar, oil, water, and eggs on medium speed. Add the carrots and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg and add to the carrot mixture, beating until well blended. Stir in the pecans by hand. Turn into the prepared pans and bake for 35 to 40 minutes. Cool in the pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes before turning out onto the rack to cool completely. Ice in two layers with Cream Cheese-Pecan Icing.
Makes 16 servings.

Cream Cheese-Pecan Icing

1/4 cup butter, softened (1/2 stick)
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 (12-ounce) box confectioner’s sugar
1/4 cup finely chopped pecans

With an electric mixer fitted with beaters or the paddle attachment, cream the butter and cream cheese on medium speed. Add the vanilla extract and sugar, beating until well blended. Stir in the pecans by hand.
Makes 2 1/2 cups, or enough to ice one 2-layer cake.

Cream Cheese Pecan Icing

June 3, 2007

1/4 cup butter, softened (1/2 stick)
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 (12-ounce) box confectioner’s sugar
1/4 cup finely chopped pecans

With an electric mixer fitted with beaters or the paddle attachment, cream the butter and cream cheese on medium speed. Add the vanilla extract and sugar, beating until well blended. Stir in the pecans by hand.
Makes 2 1/2 cups, or enough to ice one 2-layer cake.

Spinach Dip

May 29, 2007


The secret to this one is a really good pepper sauce—that and the spinach. Frozen leaf spinach is generally better quality than chopped. It doesn’t need cooking, but you have to get the moisture out. Some people use a dishtowel, but it works just as well to squeeze it by hand. If you love salt, add some. But there’s plenty of salt in the mayonnaise and Worcestershire and hot-pepper sauces. SAM

2 cloves garlic, peeled and quartered
2 (10-ounce) packages frozen spinach, thawed and wrung dry by hand
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, quartered
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon paprika
3 dashes hot-pepper sauce or to taste
Sea salt to taste
1 small green onion, finely chopped

In a food processor fitted with a metal blade, pulse the garlic 3 or 4 times until finely chopped. Add the spinach, cream cheese, mayonnaise, lemon zest, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, paprika, hot-pepper sauce, and salt, processing until smooth. Remove from the processor bowl and stir in the onion by hand. Cover and chill. Serve with vegetables or chips or as a sandwich spread.
Makes 2 1/2 cups.

Clam Dip

May 28, 2007


Here’s another last-minute appetizer you can make with your emergency stash of cream cheese. It’s so quick you’ll have it on the table by the time your friends get in the door. You can gussie it up with a pinch of curry powder or a few drops of lemon juice. But, really, it doesn’t need a thing. SAM

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 (6.5-ounce) can smoked clams
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
Freshly ground white pepper

In a food processor fitted with a metal blade, process the cream cheese, clams, parsley, and pepper until smooth. Serve with toasted pita, chips, or vegetables.
Makes 1 3/4 cups.