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Archive for March, 2010

Blueberry Sauce

Lots of us have happy memories of weekend breakfasts growing up.  I know in my family, there are many – my dad was usually in charge of breakfasts on the weekends so there were lots of oatmeal muffins, waffles, pancakes and french toast.  Sometimes Mom would take us to go get a box of Dunkin Donuts, or Pop Pop would come by on his way home from church with these funny figure-8 shaped fundraiser donuts.  At the beach, Pop Pop is king of the full service breakfast bar, with bacon or sausage and pancakes, waffles or french toast every morning.

One of my favorite memories, though, is of my parents making blueberry pancakes with blueberry sauce.  This was an extra-special breakfast that we didn’t have too often, and it was a team effort – Dad made the pancakes while Mom carefully stirred the blueberry sauce.  The completed combo is rich and tangy and sweet and we LOVED it.

I didn’t have a copy of the blueberry sauce recipe until recently, when I suddenly decided nothing else would do for breakfast that weekend but a giant dose of blueberries.  I was happily surprised to find out it wasn’t as difficult as I’d remembered it was.  You have to cook the somewhat slowly on low heat (it calls for a double-boiler, but I haven’t felt like dragging mine out, and you may not even have one) so it’s not super fast, but it’s not complicated.  The sauce is sweet and very blueberry-y, even when you use frozen blueberries for it, as I have been doing during the winter.  I’m sure it’s KILLER with fresh blueberries in the summer, though.  You finish the sauce with a little butter which makes it satin-y and smooth.  I’ve loved enjoying this special weekend breakfast with Michael, and can’t wait to make it for our little Bean and other kids someday.

Mom says this recipe is actually not specifically for pancakes – it is a dessert sauce recipe that you could use on cakes, ice cream, etc.  So feel free to use it on whatever you like.  But at least try it on pancakes, because it’s just SO perfect for  breakfast.  I haven’t included a pancake recipe here, because you might just want to throw some blueberries in Bisquick, or you may have your own pancake recipe.  My favorite buttermilk pancake recipe is here if you need one.

Blueberry Sauce

1 cup sugar

4 Tbs flour

2 cups blueberries

1 cup boiling water

4 Tbs butter

2 Tbs lemon juice

Cook blueberries and water for 5 minutes in a saucepan over medium heat until berries are bursting.  Pour mixed flour and sugar over the berry mixture and cook 5 min longer over low heat, not allowing the sauce to boil, until thick and smooth.  Add the butter and lemon juice to finish.

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While I’ve been feeling a little down on cooking, I asked a couple friends to do a guest post.  This is from my friend Courtney Hamilton, one of my oldest and dearest friends.  She picks great recipes so I’m sure you’ll enjoy these!!!

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Lately, I find myself baking with my two and a half year old daughter Olivia quite a bit.  Partly because its a great way to get things done in the kitchen while distracting her from getting into mischief, but I suppose its mostly because my husband and two other friends are currently deployed.  Although they are appreciative of anything I send, nothing makes someone happier than opening a care package filled with home made cookies.

Chocolate chip cookies are always a crowd pleaser, but this recipe makes the best chewy cookies I have ever eaten.  They are super easy to make and bake in no time at all, since you bake two sheets at once.  They are best served warm with a frosty glass of milk, but isn’t that the best way to eat all cookies.  To caveat that, they are also very delicious a week after being made and travel abroad well.  Enjoy!

Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies (from “The New Best Recipe” from America’s Test Kitchen)

Makes about 18 large

2 cups plus 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

12 tablespoons (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled until just warm

1 cup packed light or dark brown sugar

½ cup granulated sugar

1 large egg, plus 1 large egg yolk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 – 1 ½ cups semisweet chocolate chips

1.       Adjust the oven racks to the upper- and lower-middle positions and heat the oven to 325 degrees.  Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or spray them with nonstick cooking spray.

2.       Whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl; set aside.

3.       Either by hand or with an electric mixer, mix the butter and sugars until thoroughly blended.  Beat in the egg, yolk, and vanilla until combined.  Add the dry ingredients and beat at low speed just until combined.  Stir in the chips to taste.

4.       Roll a scant ¼ cup of the dough into a ball and place on the prepared baking sheets 2 ½ inches apart.

5.       Bake until the cookies are light golden brown, the outer edges start to harden, and the centers are still soft and puffy, 15-18 minutes, rotating the baking sheets front to back and top to bottom halfway through the baking time.  Cool the cookies on the sheets.

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Maille Mustard

Michael and I were on vacation last week in Europe, visiting friends in Paris, France and Mons, Belgium.  There was lots of good eating that happened, most commonly involving pain au chocolat (chocolate croissants), delicious cheeses, Belgian waffles, and Belgian beer.

I wanted to share one highlight with you from our few days in Paris.  We found the Maille store off the Champs d’Elysee, which is a French brand of mustard you can find in your local grocery store here in the US.  This store sold the most amazing and diverse selection of mustard I have ever seen – in fact, more flavors of mustard that I would have imagined existed!  For example: Dried Apricot and Curry, Parmesan and Basil, Dried Tomato and Piment d’Espelette (a pepper spice similar to paprika from what I can tell), Pesto and Roquefort, Figue and Coriander, and Mango and Thai Spices.  We were totally overwhelmed and couldn’t pick just one, so we got a box of small samplers.  These should make for some yummy sandwiches in our future!

One other really cool thing about the store was that they sold empty crock jars which you could have filled with FRESH mustard from a tap right in the store!  AND you can bring your jar back for cheap refills.  If I lived in Paris (oh, if only!) I can tell you with absolute certainty that would be the only mustard we’d eat.

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Greek Almond Dip

I can’t quite remember where I found this recipe – it was a tiny thing I cut out of a magazine a while ago, and took me a while to try. I’ve made it twice now and we love it.  It’s light, because it’s yogurt based, with the wonderful summer flavors of lemon and dill.  If you don’t have greek yogurt, you can use regular (full fat) plain yogurt, and let it drain a bit in a cheesecloth-lined colander.  Or you could just use the regular yogurt and it would be runnier, which is probably fine.  I would also recommend using very fresh almonds – the last time I made this, I used almonds which had  been in my cabinet for a few months and I thought it lacked some of the good almond-y flavor.

This is super with pita chips and you could serve it with any other veggies as well.  I think it will be especially good in the summer, because it seems cooling and tangy.  This is also a great appetizer for a Mediterranean or Middle Eastern meal – not too heavy, not too rich, just light and tasty!

Greek Almond Dip

Serves 6

¾ cup raw (unblanched) almonds

1 cup Greek yogurt

¼ cup olive oil

1 Tbs finely chopped fresh dill

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

1 Tbs freshly squeezed lemon juice

½ tsp kosher salt

1/8 tsp coarse ground black pepper

Pulse almonds in a blender or food processor until they are finely ground.  Place in a bowl with remaining ingredients.  Stir well to combine.


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