May
5

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Apple Kuchen

Apple Kuchen

Base and apple chunks ready for topping

It’s an old saying that pretty much everyone loves motherhood and apple pie, and I’d include myself in that list – particularly since there have been two back to back crop failures for the blueberry crop around our camp up north – otherwise as a good northern canadian lad I’d be endorsing motherhood and blueberry pie but definitely not turning down apple pie.

More realistically, in our home apple pie usually takes a back seat to apple crisp – which is so easy to throw together and is truly a great desert.  But, Apple Kuchen also figures prominently among our favorite deserts because it’s a great desert in its own right and is almost as quick to prepare as apple crisp.

Whole grain apple kuchen

Partly devoured pan of whole barley base apple kuchen

For those who haven’t had it before it is an cake base topped with apples and a sugar and cinnamon topping.  Since home ground whole grain flours are the principal ones that get used in our kitchen the base is usually whole barley or whole wheat – both of which work great and give more substance and flavour compared to white flours.

So next time you are looking for a great desert give Apple Kuchen a try.

Click on the post title to expand and see the recipe.


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Blueberry Corn Cake

With a sister in law and friends who are celiac I tend to keep my eyes open for recipes that are both gluten free and great and easy (the latter meaning in part no crazy exotic gums and pastes and binders);  That combination is fairly rare – certainly more rare than when one is not constrained to exclude gluten.

Blueberry Corn Cake – A great desert

There are winners though, and this is one of the nicest ones around – so much so that it graces our meals even when the table is filled with wheat eaters.  Frankly the latter simply allows me to do the grinding of the cornmeal on the homemade grain mill from the couple of big sacks of feed corn we always have on hand.  The mill does a great job and fresh meal can’t be beat, but since the mill often processes gluten containing grains I keep a bag of commercial meal for those occasions.

This corn cake makes a desert – moist (even if some lasts a couple of days), rich, flavorful and just the right amount of sweet to cap off a nice meal or accompany tea or coffee.


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Homemade Butter Toffee

Homemade butter toffee

Butter toffee has to be one of the best candies out there – growing up I had a mild addiction to Macintosh toffee – if I had the choice between a candy bar and one of the Mack tartan box I’d jump at the hard and chewy later option every time. Corporate consolidation saw the Canadian version I had in my childhood disappear a while ago, and while a modern version came back out after a few years it just doesn’t measure up in my view.  Fortunately homemade butter toffee has to be one of the easiest candies to produce in your own kitchen.  Simple ingredients, quick to produce and no pulling required.

So if you’ve missed that original tartan candy or never experienced it – give this recipe a try.


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Lemon Pavlova – A Straight A Desert

Lemon Pavlova - so good, so simple

Lemon Pavlova – so good, so simple

This is a desert that is guaranteed to WOW those to whom it is served.  I know,  it oft been the desert I’ve been requested to bring, and it was the desert I would request in return for straight A’s when I was in school – it may explain why I was honor role.  For all of that awesomeness it is an incredibly easy desert to prepare.  IF you are one of those folks who can’t seem to make a piecrust – then this is definitely a desert for you.  Click on the post title for the full recipe and for a detailed step by step walk through the steps watch the video.  You won’t regret it!


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Homemade Marshmallows

Beating Marshmallows in the stand mixer

Beating Marshmallows in the stand mixer

Marshmallows likely strike most folks today as some complex food that must contain several dozen compounds with long and complex names able to be made only in complex factories.  The reality is exactly the opposite – marshmallows are simple and easy to produce at home.  Moreover, you can make some great flavoured marshmallows – such as these peppermint ones that are the perfect accompaniment for hot chocolate.

Click on post title for full recipe details.


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Chewy Oatmeal-Barley Raisin Cookies

Fresh Oatmeal Barley Raisin cookies packed for a day of skiing

Fresh Oatmeal Barley Raisin cookies packed for a day of skiing

You know those cookies from the store, the “fresh like” ones that are soft and chewy and oh so good.  I have a soft spot for the Oatmeal-Raisin ones.   These ones trump those.  They taste better, feature all whole grains, and can be whipped together in under ten minutes.  They go together quickly, if you are doing it by hand try to grab a Danish Whisk – you won’t go back to a wooden soon after you’ve tried it – or they can be made with even less effort with a stand mixer if you have one.

I think cookies have an undeserved reputation in some folks mind that they are a hassle.  I think a big part of that can be resolved by using silicon baking sheets.  They pretty much guarantee that you won’t suffer from the burnt bottom syndrome and they are reusable for many years – my oldest ones have been around for about ten years and are just about at the point that they need to be retired.

This recipe uses whole barley flour milled in the Homestead Grain Mill but you could just as easily substitute whole wheat, rye, triticale or spelt flour.

 

 

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Whole Wheat Éclairs

Whole Wheat Chocolate Éclairs

Whole Wheat Chocolate Éclairs

Growing up I always loved when my mother would have chocolate éclairs bursting with fresh whipped cream for desert.  They seemed so decadent – or rather they were and still are, but now as a baker, having baked éclairs I wonder why they weren’t more commonly on the desert plate since they are really very easy to make (and that’s not overselling it).

For those that think whole grain translates into blah, well this is a great recipe to demonstrate that finely ground whole grain flour can and will wow.

Click on post title for full recipe.

 

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The Best Slow-cooker Butter Chicken

Chicken and onions cut up

Chicken and onions cut up

Ok, so “the best” is a pretty high standard given I’ve been able to have a lot of butter chicken over the years – but this is it.  What’s even better is it is dead simple to prepare and it’s a slow-cooker recipe so you’ll be able to walk away in the morning knowing you’ll return at meal time to a fantastic meal ready to serve in the 20 minutes or so that it takes to prep the rice and naan.

I usually do the little prep work that is required the night before put everything into the slow-cooker crock and then slide that into the fridge.  Before I leave in the morning it’s as simple as putting the crock into the slow-cooker and turning it on low.  That’s it, and that’s part of why I love it.

Butter chicken ingredients in the slow cooker

Butter chicken ingredients in the slow cooker

The prep the evening before is easy enough – and usually gets done while a show or video plays in the background.  Cut up your chicken and onions and fry them up on medium heat until the onions are translucent.  While you are doing this you can put the remaining ingredients into the slow cooker and mix and stir in the chicken, onions and butter when those are ready.  If this is a night before prep then the whole slowcooker pot gets put into the fridge overnight – and pulled out in the morning to be put on low for the eight to ten hours that you are off working or living.   It can also be prepared faster on the high setting which cuts the time just over half – to 5 to 6 hours.

The work is little but the results won’t betray that.  Even picky eaters will be salivating at the prospect of this meal – and the leftovers the next day will make your classroom or office mates jealous.

Give it a try and you won’t be disappointed!

Click on the post title for the full recipe.


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Whole Wheat Apple Fritters – Fall Fantastic

DSC06000Try these and it will forever ruin your experience with donut shop fritters, they are awesome.  Now, they aren’t quite as easy as just tossing the ingredients for bread into the bread machine and walking away, but if you have a handle on the processing steps they don’t take that much more time and the result at the end of the process is well worth it.

Start by making the whole wheat dough.  This is a rich sweet dough that is oh so sticky.  As such it’s best mixed in a stand mixer or in the bread machine on the dough cycle.

Apple fritter filing

Apple fritter filing

While the dough is going through the cycle – which takes about an hour and a half – prepare your apple filling.  If you can choose apples with a crisp firm flesh – those hold together best – but I find I’m often grabbing bags of softer fleshed apples we’ve gleaned and put down.  Irrespective of the type of apple don’t cook them into a mush – you just want to soften them and get them to absorb some of the cinnamon caramel greatness.

When rolling out the dough make sure your work surface is well floured to keep the dough from sticking.   Roll the dough out into a rectangle about 1/2″ thick, and then put the apple mixture on one half and fold the other segment over the filling.

Cut up dough and filling ready for forming

Cut up dough and filling ready for forming

Now, in order to get that structure of dough and apple that fritters are known for you need to chop the material up cut on the diagonal about 3/4″ apart, and then cut the opposite diagonal in the other direction.  Then take a scoop of the cut up dough and apple mix and firm it into a solid ball about 1″ thick.

Allow the fritters to double in bulk and then fry them up.  When they are still warm dip one side in the glaze you can make up while the fritters are rising.

My favorite glaze is made using my homemade apple cider syrup which really punches up the apple flavor, but maple syrup or vanilla are also great options.