Archive for May, 2017

Bee Mine

Wednesday, May 31st, 2017

Please forgive the shortness of this post. I’m having a delightful but crazy week: two TV appearances; a major fundraiser for Mohawk Trail Concerts; and the cooking class I mentioned in my last post on Friday at the Baker’s Pin in Northampton, Massachusetts.

(The class is on rhubarb—of course—and there are still slots open as of this writing. So please spread the word!)

On Tuesday I appeared briefly on Mass Appeal to help promote the upcoming Bee Fest here in Franklin County. The local beekeepers’ association organizes this annual event to celebrate bees and honey and their contributions to our lives. Organizers Sandy Thomas and Dan Conlon (the former an old family friend and the latter a bee keeper from Warm Colors Apiary) joined Seth Stutman and me on camera. They brought me a fabulous hat to wear–and some wonderful honey to take home!

Dan, Tinky. and Sandy

I often forget to cook with honey; I’m too focused on maple syrup! I had fun playing with it in preparation for this segment.

At first I planned to make a honey rhubarb crumble. I love rhubarb, and I love crumbles, so combining them with honey sounded natural. Unfortunately, the TV station informed at the last minute that someone else had recently made a crumble on the show.

So … I racked my brain for a quick honey idea. I vaguely remembered that my friend Leticia had once made a salad dressing with honey and soy sauce. Of course, I couldn’t find her recipe—I have a lot of trouble finding things sometimes—but I quickly concocted my own.

I’m sharing both recipes here. Obviously, I only make the salad dressing in the video below, however. Do watch it; you’ll not only see me in that fabulous bee headgear, but you’ll learn more about the Bee Fest. The video isn’t fabulous–something is going on with our internet in Hawley–but I wanted to post it before the fest just in case locals might want to visit.

Happy honey time!

Bee Mine Rhubarb Crumble

Ingredients:

5 to 6 cups rhubarb, cut into one-inch pieces (enough to fill your pan with some room at the top for the crumbly bits)
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup oats
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) sweet butter
1/2 cup brown sugar

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the rhubarb in a buttered Pyrex pie dish (a stainless or ceramic dish may be substituted, but don’t use aluminum as it will react with the rhubarb’s acidity). Drizzle the honey over the rhubarb.

Combine the cinnamon, flour, oats, and salt in a bowl. Add the butter and cut it in with knives or a pastry blender (your hands will do in a pinch). Add the brown sugar and mix again until crumbly.

Sprinkle this mixture evenly over the rhubarb, pressing down lightly. Bake for 30 minutes or until brown in most parts and bubbly. Serves 6 to 8.

Slightly Asian Honey Vinaigrette

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 splash water
4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) neutral oil such as canola
a few drops of sesame oil

Instructions:

In a mason jar combine the honey, vinegar, soy sauce, and water. (A little ginger and garlic wouldn’t hurt as additions!) Shake to combine. Add the oils and shake once more. Serve over lettuce or spinach with nuts and orange segments. For a more festive look, sprinkle a few sesame seeds on top of the salad.

Makes just under 1 cup of salad dressing.

And now the video:

Tinky Cooks with Honey on Mass Appeal

Come Cook with Me!

Tuesday, May 30th, 2017

Dear Readers:

I am scheduled to teach a rhubarb class this Friday at the Baker’s Pin in Northampton, Massachusetts–and the cooking school there is still looking for people to enroll.

If you’re in the area, please consider registering to join us. And if you can’t come, please spread the word. We’ll be making rhubarb favorites from my Pudding Hollow Cookbook, along with some recipes from my forthcoming (next spring, I hope!) book about rhubarb.

You can register for the class here:

https://thebakerspin.com/rhubarb-rhubarb-rhubarb.html

Happy rhubarb season!

Tinky

Biscuits and Rhubarb Salad!

Friday, May 12th, 2017

A Mother’s Day Hug

I write this on May 12, the birthday of Edward Lear. In addition to many other works, Lear wrote (and illustrated!) “The Owl and the Pussycat.” My late mother started reciting this poem early in life—and it was one of the last things she forgot as she succumbed to dementia.

(To hear me read it in her style, visit my YouTube channel.)

I thought about the owl, the pussycat, and my mother this morning as I drove to Chicopee, Massachusetts, to cook on Mass Appeal. Appropriately, today’s show was devoted to Mother’s Day.

It was one of the most delightful editions of Mass Appeal I can remember; the mothers of both of the hosts participated (and got makeovers!), and a happy spirit reigned.

I prepared two dishes that struck me as suitable for Mother’s Day. The first was a biscuit recipe from Southern Biscuits by Nathalie Dupree and Cynthia Graubart. I discovered the book and the recipe while trying to satisfy my southern sister-in-law’s craving for biscuits earlier this year.

It’s a simple, satisfying formula that produces puffy, delectable biscuits. Thanks to Nathalie for giving me permission to reprint it here.

Since rhubarb is just starting to pop up in my area, I also made a recipe from my forthcoming rhubarb book. This salad combines sweet and tart flavors and provides the mouth with a lot of satisfying textures: crunchy nuts, soft rhubarb, creamy cheese.

Happy Mother’s Day to all my readers—those who are mothers, and those who have or had mothers. (That should take care of pretty much everybody!) Enjoy the day—and these recipes….

 

Nathalie Dupree’s Two-Ingredient Biscuits

Ingredients:

about 2-1/4 cups self-rising flour (I use White Lily)
about 1-1/4 cups heavy cream
melted butter for finishing

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking sheet with silicone, or brush the sheet with melted butter.

Whisk 2 cups of the flour in a wide, large bowl. Make a hollow in the middle of the flour with the back of your hand. Slowly stir in 1 cup of the cream with a rubber spatula. Use broad stokes to pull the flour into the cream. Mix the batter just until the dry ingredients are moistened and the sticky dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl. If there is remaining flour, add more cream.

Lightly sprinkle a board or silicone sheet with some of the leftover flour. Turn the dough out onto the board—it will be messy—and sprinkle the top with more flour. Using your floured hands, gently fold the dough in half and pat it into a 1/2-inch thick rectangle. Flour the dough again if you need to, and fold it in half again and pat it out again. If it’s still clumpy fold it for a third time—but don’t over work it.

Dip a biscuit cutter in flour and use it to cut out biscuits, starting from the outside edges. Transfer the biscuits to the prepared baking sheet.

Bake the biscuits on the top rack of the oven for 6 minutes; then rotate the pan in the oven and bake until the biscuits are light golden brown, another 4 to 8 minutes. Remove the biscuits from the oven, and brush them with melted butter. Serve warm.

Makes about 8 to 12 biscuits, depending on how big you cut them.

Strawberry-Rhubarb Spinach Salad

Ingredients:

for the strawberry vinegar:

strawberries (don’t use too many at a time or this will take forever)
enough distilled white vinegar to cover them
equal amounts of sugar and water

for the salad:

1 cup chopped rhubarb
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon strawberry vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 cups spinach
toasted pecans to taste
feta cheese to taste

Instructions:

The day before you want to eat your salad (or any time up to a year before!) start the vinegar.

Place the berries in a non-aluminum pan. (A porcelain dish is great.) Cover them with the vinegar, and leave them to soak, covered, overnight. If you forget them for a day and wait 2 nights, they will still be fine.

The next day (or the day after that), gently strain the juice through cheesecloth. You may squeeze the berries a little, but don’t overdo; letting the juice drip out on its own is best.

Measure the juice. Then measure a little under 1-1/2 times as much sugar and water as juice (i.e., if you have a cup of juice, use just under 1-1/2 cups of sugar and 1-1/2 cups of water) into a saucepan.

Cook the sugar/water mixture until it threads. Measure the resultant sugar syrup. Add an equal quantity of berry juice to it, and boil the mixture for 10 minutes. Strain this boiled vinegar through cheesecloth, and decant it into sterlized bottles. Cork or cover. Stored in the dark, strawberry vinegar should keep its color and flavor for up to a year.

When you are ready to start your salad, preheat the oven to 450 degrees. While the oven is preheating toss the rhubarb and sugar together in a bowl, and let them sit for at least 10 minutes.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil, and place the sugared rhubarb pieces on it. Bake until the rhubarb just begins to soften, about 5 minutes. Remove the rhubarb from the oven and set it aside.

In a small bowl or jar combine the vinegar, salt and pepper and oil.

Place the spinach in a salad bowl. Add the rhubarb, the pecans, and the feta; then remix the salad dressing and toss it over the salad. Serves 4 as a side salad.

And now the videos!

Two-Ingredient Biscuits

Strawberry-Rhubarb Spinach Salad

A Fluffy Anniversary

Friday, May 5th, 2017

Marshmallow fluff turns 100 this year—sort of. Just about everyone in Massachusetts grew up loving this glossy, sticky substance, which was invented in our state. The humble fluffernutter is our semi-official state sandwich.

Mimi Graney, who organizes the annual “What the Fluff” festival in Somerville, shares her enthusiasm for what she learned while researching fluff’s history in her new book fluff: The Sticky Sweet Story of an American Icon.

As Graney explains, the starting date the Durkee-Mower company uses for its signature (and in fact only) product is a bit arbitrary.

Marshmallow crème or cream—a combination of sugar, egg whites, corn syrup, and vanilla—had been popular for at least a couple of decades when Canadian immigrant Archibald Query started selling his version of the concoction door to door in Somerville in the 1910s.

Increasing federal regulations and World-War-I sugar shortages caused Query to go to work at a candy factory. There he eventually met two veterans returning from the war, Fred Mower and Allen Durkee.

Anxious to make a name for themselves, Mower and Durkee purchased Query’s recipe and started selling their marshmallow fluff in 1920. Later trademark issues led the pair to try to identify its year of origin, and they chose 1917 as an educated guess about when Query first made the product.

Even if fluff isn’t precisely 100 years old this year, Graney makes an excellent case for celebrating it. She acknowledges fluff’s popularity as a nostalgia item and a food that tastes darn good.

She also argues that Durkee and Mower created an innovative, adaptable, and above all honest business model that has stood the test of time. A descendant of Allen Durkee still runs the company, and fluff continues to sell extremely well, particularly here in New England.

Graney’s description of that business is chatty but informative. Durkee-Mower pioneered in radio advertising in the 1920s. In its prime, the company’s programming featured musicians known as the Flufferettes. I’d love to have sung as a Flufferette!

Durkee-Mower cleverly promoted its product with recipes: the “never fail fudge” even I, a food writer, make on occasion when I’m in a hurry; a version of Rice Krispie® treats that save time by using fluff instead of melting marshmallows; the fluffernutter; and many more.

Above all, Durkee-Mower made one product efficiently and well.

fluff is full of vintage photographs and advertisements, along with myriad fun facts. I had never considered the considerable impact of the invention of the egg beater on the home cook until I read Graney’s history.

Inspired by the book, I decided to incorporate a little more fluff into my kitchen. I adapted the rice-cereal treats for an adult palate by adding a bit of espresso powder and drizzling white chocolate over the top.

I THOUGHT the coffee treats were an original idea—until I saw similar recipes all over the internet. Alas, this world allows very few original recipes.

Naturally, I prepared the treats and talked about fluff on Mass Appeal last week. I hope readers will make these bars, or something else fluffy, to celebrate this year’s sweet anniversary.

Fluffy Crispy Coffee Bars

Ingredients:

3 to 5 ounces good-quality white chocolate, in chip form or chopped
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) sweet butter
1 7-1/2-ounce jar marshmallow fluff
2 generous tablespoons espresso powder (I use Williams-Sonoma’s brand)
6 cups crisped rice cereal

Instructions:

Line a 9-by-13-inch pan with plastic wrap, and spray the sides and bottom of the lined pan with canola-oil spray.

Place the chocolate pieces in the top half of a double boiler to melt.

While the chocolate is melting, melt the butter in a 4-quart saucepan over low heat. When the butter has melted add the fluff and continue to stir. When the fluff has almost melted stir in the espresso powder. Continue to stir over low heat until all is melted and blended.

Remove the pan from the heat, and stir in the cereal. Using a spoon sprayed with canola-oil spray, spoon the mixture into the prepared pan, and smooth it out.

Drizzle the melted chocolate on top of the cereal mixture. Let the pan cool until the chocolate has hardened; then cut the confection into bars.

Makes about 30 bars. (The yield depends on how big you want to cut them; I prefer small pieces.)

And now the video…..

Fluffy Crispy Coffee Bars