Blueberry Cake or Muffins


This is perfect for late spring and summertime when fresh blueberries are plentiful. I love how the fragrant nutmeg complements the fresh fruit. My friend Marcia got this recipe from her mom. Our families used to pick wild blueberries with her in-laws in the New Hampshire countryside.

I changed the recipe a bit, substituting finely ground whole wheat flour, cutting down a bit on the sugar and adding vanilla. The original recipe calls for half-and-half, but I use 1 % milk and still get a tender and delicious muffin.

Makes a 13 × 9 inch cake or about a dozen muffins

Blueberry prep:

2 cups fresh blueberries

2 Tb flour

Cake:

2/3 cup sugar

1 cube (1/2 cup) butter at room temperature

2 large eggs warmed to room temperature

½ cup milk

1½ tsp vanilla

1 cup finely ground whole wheat flour

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

2 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup walnut pieces (optional)

Topping:

2 Tb sugar

¼ tsp nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350’

Wash blueberries, and discard overripe ones. Dry in a paper towel. Toss blueberries with 2 Tb flour so that they are lightly coated.

Sift flours, salt and baking powder and stir well to combine.

Beat butter on high speed and add sugar, beating for a few minutes. Add eggs and vanilla, beating until the mixture is light. Scrape the bowl and add 1/4 cup milk, mixing well.

Stir half the flour mixture into the batter only until combined. Add the other 1/4 cup milk and the rest of the flour mixture and slowly stir only until combined.

Fold in the blueberries and walnuts.

Pour in a buttered 13 × 9 inch pan, or into about 12-14 paper muffin cups.

Mix 2 Tb sugar with ¼ tsp nutmeg in a cup. Sprinkle about 1/3 to ½ tsp over each muffin, or if making the cake, sprinkle evenly over the cake.

Bake cake for 45 minutes, muffins for 35-40 minutes, until top is light brown.

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Curry Chicken on grill or in clay pot


Here’s a recipe that will curry your favor in both warm weather barbecuing and clay pot oven cooking in the coming cool season. Serve with steamed basmati rice and Chana Dall (yellow Lentils), Punjabi-style Potatoes and Cauliflower, and Indian breads.

I made this chicken on skewers to barbecue today. I cut up boneless breasts in 1” cubes and marinated it for several hours. I’ve also made this with either a cut up chicken or breasts, scoring the meat in several places to allow the marinade to penetrate.

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Makes enough marinade for 6 breasts

1 cup plain yogurt (I use nonfat Middle Eastern Karoun yogurt)
1/3 cup lemon juice (2 large lemons)
2 Tb (tablespoon) olive oil
2 Tb melted butter or ghee
1 onion, chopped
2 Tb freshly minced or grated garlic
½ Tb freshly grated ginger OR ½ tsp ginger powder
3 Tb curry powder (or more to taste)
1 Tb garam masala seasoning (optional)
2 Tb cumin (comino) powder
2 tsp sea salt (to taste)
several grinds of black pepper.
2 tsp hot oil (to taste)
6 breasts or chicken pieces
1/4 cup cream for baked chicken
3 cups fresh spinach for baked chicken

Mix all ingredients well. Add cream if baking the chicken. It will make a smooth sauce. Otherwise the yogurt separates when cooked.  Adjust seasonings to taste. Add either cubed chicken or pieces and marinate for 2 – 4 hours.

Remember if using the clay pot, to soak it first for 1/2 hour and put in a cold oven, then turn on the oven to 350′. (You can also make the chicken in a ceramic casserole.) Cook chicken in the marinade for about 1 hour. Stir washed spinach leaves in the marinade for the last 10 minutes. Serve chicken, spinach and sauce over  basmati brown rice.

If using wooden skewers soak them first for at least ½ an hour. This is supposed to stop them from burning, but to tell you the truth, they burn anyway! Thread cubed chicken on skewers with some onion between them. Grill on medium high heat until done, about 15 -20 minutes for skewers, longer for pieces.

Serve cooked chicken garnished with fresh cilantro.

served with eggplant and bbq chicken

Vatrushka

These cheese-filled, sour cream dough pastries were one of my favorite treats as a child. I can eat these for breakfast, lunch or dinner, or as an appetizer. My mom, Sarah, baked hundreds of these as hors d’œuvre for our wedding. Now my kids and husband gobble them up as fast as I can make them.

We use the same filling as for Blintzes.  I changed mom’s recipe by substituting whole wheat pastry flour for the all-purpose flour she used, and mixing nonfat ricotta cheese with the farmer’s cheese to cut down on the fat. But I still top them with a bit of sour cream. The fresh strawberries I placed on top add just the right amount of sweet juiciness to balance the filling.

I got a  kick out of the comments or rather criticisms I got on this blog entry. Russians have got to be the most opinionated people on the planet! (I should know, being half-Russian myself).

makes several dozen, depending on the size

Dough for Vatrushka
1 cube butter, softened to room temperature
5 Tb sour cream
1 large egg
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
½ tsp salt

Beat butter until light and fluffy. Add sour cream and egg and beat well. Add flour and salt and mix until dough is formed. Knead on a floured board about 12 times, until it is no longer sticky. Roll into a ball and cover in plastic wrap. Place in refrigerator for ½ an hour. Prepare the filling while the dough is chilling.

Cheese filling
1 1/2  cups farmer’s cheese
1 cup nonfat ricotta cheese
2 eggs
¼ tsp salt
1/2  tsp sugar

Mix ingredients together in an electric mixer until smooth.

Preheat oven to 350◦

Roll out the dough on a floured board until thin, and cut with a round biscuit cutter. For larger pastries, I made little balls and roll them out into circle shapes. The circles don’t have to be perfect as long as they can fold into a half-moon shape. Place a spoonful of filling in the center of each circle, and fold it over into a half-moon shape.

Line cookie sheet with parchment paper. If you don’t have any parchment paper, spray the pan with canola oil. Bake for 20 minutes at 350◦

Serve topped with sour cream and fresh strawberries.


Capering about the Kitchen with Chicken Piccata

serving chicken picattaMy son Francisco and I first made this on Mother’s Day when he was a teenager. It’s one of his favorite dishes.

ingredients for chicken piccataIngredients: Makes 6 cutlets

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

Several grinds black pepper

3 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves

1/4 cup (4 Tb) olive oil, divided

1/4 cup dry white wine

½ cup chicken stock Roz’s Jewish Chicken Soup

2 medium or 1 1/2 large lemons to make ½  cup fresh lemon juice plus  lemon slices

2 teaspoons minced fresh garlic

1 large shallot, diced

1 tablespoon capers, drained

4 Tb butter (1/2 cube), divided

cutting chickenPrepare chicken cutlets. They will fry better if cut in half width-wise and pounded flat. With your knife parallel to the cutting board, cut each breast as if to butterfly it (although in this case, there’s only only butterfly wing).

Place a cut breast half between two pieces of plastic wrap, then place in a clean plastic bag. Squeeze the air out of the bag, then fold it over.

smashing chickenPound the cutlet several times with a heavy iron skillet so that it is about ½ inch flat. It’s a good way to get out your frustrations after a hard day. Repeat for all the cutlets. Rinse the chicken and dry it with a paper towel. Mix flour, salt and pepper on a plate. Dredge one cutlet at a time in the flour until it’s coated. Pat it gently until it’s just lightly coated with  flour.

frying cutletsHeat 2 Tb oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in 1 Tb of butter. As soon as the butter melts, add 2 chicken cutlets, making sure they do not touch each other. Saute for 5 minutes on each side, or until browned. Turn chicken around while cooking so that they brown evenly on both right and left sides. When chicken is golden brown, place it on a plate and cover it with a large lid or an inverted plate to keep warm. Add another Tb of oil and 1 Tb of butter to the pan before adding the next batch.

saute garlic n leeksWhen all the chicken is fried, add garlic and shallots to the pan and stir a few minutes until they are  fragrant.

whisk saucePour in chicken stock and wine and bring to a boil. Using a metal spatula, scrape the pan to loosen browned bits. Whisk while cooking for  5 minutes. Cut middle slices from lemon for garnish, then squeeze the juice and stir in sauce with capers and a tablespoon of butter. Cook over medium heat for 2-3 minutes.

Return chicken to the skillet and simmer for 5 minutes, turning several times to absorb the sauce. The sauce will be thick.

Serve chicken with sauce and garnish with lemon slices.

Spinach Over Easy

Fresh spinach leaves fried with eggs over easy. Fresh chives add flavor to this easy breakfast treat.

Serves 2

4 chives, chopped

about ½ tsp butter

4 large eggs

2 cups fresh spinach leaves, stems removed

1 Tb feta cheese (optional)

I warm the eggs in hot tap water so the yolks won’t be cold in eggs over easy. Fill a large bowl with hot tap water. Place eggs in the water to warm them while preparing the rest of the ingredients. Pick through spinach leaves, removing stems. Chop the chives. Heat a nonstick skillet. Rub a butter stick over the hot pan until it is coated with about ¼ tsp butter. Lower heat to medium. Add chives and sauté for a minute. Crack eggs into pan, add spinach, and crumbled feta, if using. Cook for about a minute, then gently turn eggs over and making sure spinach wilts. Cook another minute, or until whites are mostly cooked and yolks are mostly loose. Serve with toast on the side.

Light as a feather cream biscuits

These are the lightest biscuits I’ve ever tasted. They are made with cream and the dough is handled as little as possible so that the gluten is not developed. Not exactly health food, but wonderful just out of the oven at holiday feasts.

I make bunny biscuits each Easter.

Be careful about putting 2 bunny biscuits together or you will end up with more biscuits than you can eat!

You can make the dough ahead of time and refrigerate it. Pop it into the oven just before serving the first course.

Thanks to Susan whose recipe inspired these:

Makes 12 biscuits.

Ingredients:

2 cups flour

1  Tb baking powder

1/4 tsp salt (I use sea salt)

1 1/2 cups cold cream. I put it in the freezer for 10-15 minutes before mixing it in the dough.

3 Tb melted butter, cooled

Preheat oven to 450′

Melt butter and let it cool. Sift dry ingredients into a large bowl. Add cream and slowly stir until the dough is shaggy.

Oil a cookie sheet. I use the insulated kind. Grab a piece of dough the size of the biscuit you wish to make. Dip each biscuit into the melted butter and place on the cookie sheet.

For bunny biscuits, shape the dough 1 1/2 thick and cut it with a deep bunny cookie cutter. (Dip the cutter into flour first.) I dust the tops with a tiny bit of flour instead of dipping them in butter, to make white bunnies.

Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Low fat creamy garlic mashed potatoes

Low fat creamy garlic mashed potatoes

Mashed potatoes can be creamy and flavorful without all the calories from cream and large amounts of butter. Enjoy these with your Thanksgiving turkey and gravy.

Do not use green or sprouted potatoes which will be bitter, or those which have cracks or mold spots. Store unwashed potatoes in a dark, cool, dry, well- ventilated place such as a pantry shelf. Sunlight can turn them green, which can be mildly toxic.

Serves 8

4 pounds russet potatoes (about 6 large potatoes). (Burbank russets are best).

2 Tb salt for boiling, 1/2 tsp salt at end

1/2 cup milk

2 Tb butter

2 garlic cloves, smashed

several grinds pepper

Make your mashed potatoes close to serving time. They are best this way.

Scrub potatoes, then cut into large chunks. Use a large stainless steel pot; (aluminum or cast iron can turn the potatoes gray). Place potatoes with 2 cloves smashed garlic and 2 Tb salt  in the pot and cover them with cold water by 1 inch.  Bring to a simmer over medium heat, and cook for 12-15 minutes until soft. Drain potatoes in a colander, then peel (unless you like the peel on). Heat the milk, butter, several grinds pepper, and 1/2 tsp salt in the microwave or in a pan until hot, but not boiling. While milk is heating, either shred the potatoes and garlic with the shredding disk of a food processor, or pass through a potato ricer. Transfer to a large bowl.

Stir the milk mixture gently into the potatoes. Do not over-beat, or the potatoes will become gluey.

Next morning fried leftover mashed potatoes:

Crispy – Creamy potatoes, lower in fat than hash-browns. Great as a side to eggs. Melt 1-2 tsp butter in a large, heavy skillet, such as cast iron. Make an even layer of  1-2 cups leftover mashed potatoes. Let it cook over medium heat for several minutes until bottom is brown. Using a metal spatula, turn over potatoes several times so that they brown on all sides.