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Celebrate Pi Day with our Favorite Pie Recipes

PiDayRecipesCollageEach year, we celebrate Pi Day on March 14th by enjoying a homemade pie together here at 1840 Farm.  The day is publicized in the hope of inviting us to all learn more about the mathematical significance of Pi and the importance of math in our daily lives.  I’m happy to extol the virtues of math, especially if I can do so by spending time in the farmhouse kitchen making my favorite dish for our family table.

More than celebrating pi’s mathematical importance, I like to celebrate the power of pie to bring our family together.  When we gather in our farmhouse kitchen to bake or enjoy a warm slice of pie, it’s impossible to ignore the power of food to bring people together.  Indeed, you really can feed the soul with a homemade slice of pie.

I have a deep rooted love for pie.  I love to make it, I love to serve it, and I especially love to eat it.  Every bite reminds me of sitting in my grandmother’s kitchen as a little girl.  She was an accomplished pie baker and I was always greeted with not one, but two or three homemade pies when we visited her.

Those pie memories are certainly responsible for my unabashed love for pie.  Since today is Pi Day, it’s the perfect day to share a few of my favorite pie recipes and posts with you.  I hope that you’ll use these recipes to make a pie for someone you love. 

Throughout the year, we enjoy pies of every sort.  Our annual Kentucky Derby Day celebration would seem incomplete without a homemade Bourbon Peach Pie.  Summer is marked by raspberry season and always includes the promise of a Double Crusted Raspberry Pie.  When fall’s apple season arrives at our local farmer’s market, I find myself dreaming of a slice of Brandied Apple Pie topped with a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream. 

Our Thanksgiving celebration always includes Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie that we make nut free here in our nut free farmhouse.  If you don’t bake around nut allergies, you can substitute pecans with delicious results. 

When we’re craving something chocolatey, Chocolate Cream Pie always delivers.  It’s the perfect pie for making ahead of time and using up our supply of fresh eggs.  If you’re hesitant to make a traditional pie crust, this recipe is for you.  The graham cracker crust is a simple way to make a delicious pie without any need for a rolling pin.

I also love to make savory pies.  One of my favorites is our Heirloom Tomato Pie that we make when our beloved heirloom tomatoes are fresh and in season.  The crust is flaky and every bite is filled with the intense earthy flavor of the heirloom tomatoes we love.

If you prefer cake to pie, then Boston Cream Pie will be just what the doctor ordered.  This cake has a fascinating story behind the reason for being called a pie in spite of the fact that it is clearly a cake.  No matter what you call it, a slice of it is delicious.

I hope that you will join in the celebration and add one of these pie recipes to your plans in the coming days.  I’ve included a few pie crust making tips for good measure.  I receive so many messages from readers who are intimidated by the thought of making a homemade pie crust.  Using these tips, you will make a deliciously flaky pie crust that will delight your friends and family, I promise!

Happy Pi Day!

 

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Our Favorite Holiday Recipes from The 1840 Farmhouse Kitchen

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Each holiday season, we turn to our favorite family recipes.  It simply wouldn’t feel like the holidays without them.  From the sweet chocolate crinkle cookies that remind me of my childhood to the savory tomato and onion jams that we will enjoy with our appetizers on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, these recipes will be an integral part of our family’s celebration this year.

Whether you’re looking for something sweet or something savory, I hope that your friends and family will enjoy these dishes just as much as we do.  Simply click on a photo from our recipe gallery below and you’ll be taken to the original post and recipe.

We’ll be in the farmhouse kitchen cooking and baking today, making our way through this list of recipes while the snowflakes pile up outside.  The farmhouse will smell so inviting and the farmhouse kitchen tree will help set a festive mood, decorated with a few antique kitchen tools handed down by great grandmothers on both sides of our family.  It will be my favorite kind of day: one spent in the kitchen with my family baking for my family and making fresh memories to last for years to come.

I hope that you have a wonderfully warm holiday spent with friends and family and filled to the brim with delicious dishes to celebrate the season.  It won’t be long until we embark on the journey of the New Year, turning our calendars to 2017 and dreaming of all the opportunities and adventures that await us.

Happy Holidays to you and yours from all of us here at 1840 Farm!

 

Something Sweet

Something Savory

 

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The WonderMix Kitchen Mixer GIVEAWAY and My Multigrain Brioche Bread Recipe

WonderMix Kitchen MixerWhen I was offered the opportunity to try out the new WonderMix Kitchen Mixer in our farmhouse kitchen, I was thrilled. I have been using the company’s WonderMill Electric Grain Mill for several years now.  No matter how many times I use it, I am always astounded at how simple it is to use and how quickly it transforms the organic wheat berries I purchase through my local food co-op into beautiful, freshly milled flour. I couldn’t wait to see their new WonderMix stand mixer and put it through its paces in our farmhouse kitchen.

When the WonderMix arrived, I was taken with its unique design. I loved its square base and covered mixing bowl, knowing that dry ingredients would remain inside the bowl when mixing rather than ending up on the countertop.   After carefully measuring my ingredients with my food scale for a recipe, it can be so frustrating to watch as dry ingredients are flung from a mixer’s bowl and deposited all over the countertop.

The mixing bowl is large, with a capacity of 5.5 quarts or 22 cups. I don’t have a single recipe in my arsenal that requires that much capacity, but I’m glad to know that I can easily mix a double batch of bread dough with room to spare. Not only does this mixer have a high-capacity mixing bowl, it has the motor strength to handle heavy doughs and mixtures. The WonderMix has an impressive 900 watt motor. To put that in perspective, my current stand mixer has a 325 watt motor. The WonderMix has the capacity and the power to handle even the most grueling tasks in my kitchen and yours. With its innovative dough hook and dough divider attachment combination, I knew right away that this was a bread baker’s dream machine.

The WonderMix offers two different sets of whisk type attachments available for the WonderMix. A whisk is often the ideal tool for a recipe, but whisking egg whites into a fluffy meringue is quite a different task than mixing a batch of buttercream or cookie dough. I often find with my other stand mixer that the dough paddle doesn’t adequately beat a batch of buttercream or cookie dough into the smooth, silky texture I desire while the whisk isn’t strong enough to handle the thicker mixture. Having two different pairs of whisk attachments means that I’ll always have one that is well suited for the task at hand.

The WonderMix boasts a wide assortment of other attachments and accessories. They offer a full function blender, slicer/shredder, and meat grinder attachments. If you are interested in working with grain, both a grain flaker and grain mill attachment are also available. This sturdy, powerful unit can do the work of a multitude of appliances. Its rectangular footprint also makes it much easier for me to easily store it in our kitchen.

The helpful owner’s manual that accompanied my WonderMix was filled with helpful instructions for using the machine along with more than 40 recipes. I turned immediately to the section of bread recipes and learned that this mixer promised to fully develop the gluten in a batch of bread dough in five minutes. I couldn’t wait to put that promise to the test.

I make several types of bread for our family. My favorite bread to bake and to eat is brioche. I enjoy brioche’s texture and rich flavor. IMultigrain Brioche loaves at 1840 Farm love to toast a slice of homemade brioche, knowing that the enriched dough will yield the lovely browned surface that I enjoy so much. My family enjoys it just as much as I do, so I make a batch of two loaves every week or so.

The prospect of making a traditional brioche can be daunting for the baker and taxing for the baker’s mixer. Traditional brioche is baked from dough enriched by fresh eggs and butter. Each addition must be perfectly timed before advancing to the next step. If these steps are rushed, the dough will break apart, forming several small clumps that will resist coming back together into one congruous ball of dough. Yet care must be taken not to over mix the dough as too much mixing can ruin the airy texture that makes brioche so wonderful.

Once the eggs have been successfully integrated into the dough, butter must be added in much the same way. It is added a bit at a time, allowing the butter to fully blend with the dough. This process can take thirty minutes or more. All of this kneading puts a heavy toll on a mixer. As the dough is kneaded, the mixer must be monitored to ensure that it does not overheat or, worse yet, burn out completely. Kneading this dough for such a long time is a herculean task for a typical residential kitchen mixer.

Over the years, I have worked to develop my own brioche recipe. It delivers the same delicious flavor and airy texture without requiring so much precision from the bread baker.

In the past few months, I attempted to adapt my recipe to incorporate some of our freshly milled whole wheat flour into the recipe. I didn’t have much luck. The loaves lacked the airy texture I love. No matter how I adjusted the recipe, the resulting loaves were too dense. It seemed that no matter how long I worked the dough using my mixer, I fell short of creating that lovely smooth characteristic that my Farmhouse Brioche always delivers.

I did finally determine that I could use my stand mixer to work the dough for several minutes and then knead the dough by hand for between 5 to 10 minutes in order to create a dough that was smooth and elastic enough to pass the windowpane test.

I had almost given up any hope of creating a multigrain brioche recipe that could be worked entirely by a mixer. Then the WonderMix arrived and I returned to the farmhouse kitchen, hopeful that this powerful machine would have the muscle I needed to fully develop the gluten and create a loaf that was exactly what I was looking for.

As the dough came together, I set my kitchen timer for five minutes. The WonderMix worked the dough without straining. When the timer sounded, I turned off the mixer and removed the dough. It was smooth and elastic, easily passing the windowpane test. The WonderMix had delivered on its promise to fully develop the gluten in five minutes.

I have made several batches of bread since then. Each batch has been just as beautiful and delicious. From now on, I will be using the WonderMix to make this multigrain brioche and all of our other homemade breads.

Now you can use this recipe to make your own loaves of multigrain brioche. You can also enter to win your very own WonderMix! One winner will be randomly selected on April 21, 2015. All subscribers to The 1840 Farm Community Newsletter and In Season Magazine will be automatically entered to win. You can earn additional entries through the widget below and increase your odds of winning this amazing mixer. Good luck to all who enter!

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1840 Farm Multigrain Brioche
Makes two loaves

12 ounces (1 ¾ cup) warm water
21 grams (1 Tablespoon) honey
4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 Tablespoon salt
1 Tablespoon Dough Enhancer (optional)
600 grams (5 cups) All-purpose flour
240 grams (2 cups) whole wheat flour
3 large eggs, room temperature
4 ounces (1 stick) butter, grated

If you are using a dough proofer, preheat the proofer following the manufacturer’s instructions as you prepare the dough.   Whisk the warm water and honey in the bowl of a large stand mixer. Sprinkle the yeast over the top of the liquid. Allow the yeast to rest as you prepare the remaining ingredients.

In a medium bowl, combine the salt, dough enhancer (if using), and flour. Grate the butter and set aside. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs until smooth.

Add the eggs to the bowl with the warm water and honey. Whisk until combined. Mount the bowl on the mixer’s base and attach the dough hook and dough divider. Add the dry ingredients all in one addition before turning the mixer’s motor on low speed.

Mix for a few minutes, until the dough begins to take shape. The dough will appear to be slightly dry. With the motor running, begin adding the grated butter a bit at a time, allowing the butter to be incorporated into the dough before adding more. Continue this process until all of the butter has been added.

Stop the mixer and asses the dough. It should be shiny and moist, but not excessively sticky. The ball of dough should be smooth and elastic. If it is too sticky, simply start the mixer and gradually add up to ½ cup of All-purpose flour to the dough. Take care not to add too much flour as it will yield a finished loaf that is too dry. Increase the speed of the mixer slightly and work the dough until it passes the windowpane test, approximately five to ten minutes.

If you are unfamiliar with the windowpane test, the technique is quite simple but incredibly helpful when making a loaf of bread.  This windowpane test will help you to determine if your dough has been kneaded sufficiently to yield a wonderful finished loaf.  By using this technique, you will be certain that your homemade bread dough will produce a beautiful loaf of bread.

Conducting the windowpane test is simple.  After you have kneaded the dough to the point when you think that it has been worked sufficiently, take a small ball of dough and stretch it between your fingers until it is thin and translucent, allowing light to pass through it (much like a window).  If the dough stretches without breaking, it has been kneaded long enough to develop the gluten and is ready to prepare for its rise.  If the dough breaks, continue kneading until it passes the test.

Once your dough passes the windowpane test, transfer the dough to a large buttered bowl to rise in a dough proofer or a warm, draft free location.  Allow the dough to rise until it has nearly doubled in size. Using my dough proofer set at 82 degrees, this takes approximately 45 to 60 minutes.

Once the dough has nearly doubled in size, divide it into two equal sections. Form each section into a loaf and place in a buttered or oiled loaf pan. Be sure to oil the top rim of the loaf pan as this dough has a tendency to rise well above the top of the pan. Oiling the top rim of the pan will make releasing the baked loaf from the pan much easier.

Transfer the two loaves back to the proofing chamber or warm, draft free location for rising. Allow the loaves to rise until they have reached a height of more than one inch above the top edge of the loaf pans.  Using my dough proofer, this takes about one 60 – 90 minutes.

As the dough nears the end of its rise, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  If you have a pizza stone, this is a great time to put it to use.  I like to use stones when baking bread in order to deliver even heat to the bottom of the loaf as it bakes.  I find that my loaves bake more evenly when I have the stones in the oven during preheating and baking.

Once the loaves have risen sufficiently and the oven has reached the proper temperature, transfer the loaves to the oven.  Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, turning near the halfway mark to ensure even browning.  When the loaves are fully baked, they will be golden brown and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.  Remove the baked loaves from their pans to a wire rack. Allow them to cool completely before slicing or storing.

 Don’t miss my post about the best way to store fresh bread to learn how you should be storing your fresh loaf of bread.  You can also learn more about My Favorite Bread Baking Tools and Ingredients and share your own with me.

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Creamy Lemon Curd

Creamy Lemon Curd BrandedThere’s something about lemon curd that I just love.  I’ll confess that I’m not a huge fan of everything lemony, but for some inexplicable reason I adore lemon curd.  I love the burst of bright citrusy flavor as much as I enjoy the creamy texture.  It just seems to taste of spring and you can count on me to make it every year when winter gives way to warmer weather and the snow finally begins to melt away.

Curd is simple to make and adds a touch of decadence to scones, pound cake, sponge cake, or as a base filling for berry tarts and tartlets.  With its gorgeous yellow color and satiny smooth appearance, it is as beautiful as it is delicious.

Take your time when making curd just as you would when making custard.  The process is simple, but rushing the thickening process can result in a grainy curd or even tiny bits of scrambled egg.  Instead, spend a few more minutes bringing the liquid to a simmer over low to medium heat, whisking constantly.  The reward will be a perfectly smooth curd that will be well worth a few extra minutes at the stove.

Creamy Lemon Curd
Yields 2
During Meyer Lemon season, I love to make this recipe using Meyer Lemons which tend to be a bit sweeter and less acidic than traditional lemons. When I do, I simply reduce the sugar to a scant cup and proceed as usual. The resulting curd has a bit more of an orange undertone from the color of the Meyer Lemons, but otherwise tastes amazingly similar.
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Ingredients
  1. 1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  2. 1 Tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
  3. 1 ¼ cup sugar
  4. 4 large eggs
  5. pinch of salt
  6. 2 sticks (16 Tablespoons) butter
Instructions
  1. Cut the butter into Tablespoon sized pieces, reserving 2 Tablespoons to be added to the curd after it is finished cooking.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the lemon juice, zest, sugar, eggs, and salt. Whisk gently to combine Place a medium saucepan over low heat. Add 14 Tablespoons of the butter to the pan. Once the butter melts, add the lemon juice mixture and whisk to combine. Increase the heat slightly and whisk constantly until the mixture thickens. A perfectly thickened curd will be what the French would call “Nappe”.
  3. Nappe is a fancy term for the consistency a sauce reaches when it is thick enough to coat a dish without being too thick. Checking to see if a curd or custard is nappe is simple. Immerse a clean spoon into the mixture; remove the spoon, turning it so that the back of the spoon is facing you. Run a finger down the length of the spoon from the handle to the tip. If a clean path is created and the curd remains on both sides of the spoon, you have achieved nappe. If not, simply continue to cook the sauce while whisking until it thickens properly.
  4. Once the curd reaches nappe consistency, remove the pan from the heat. I like to strain my curd to into a large bowl to ensure that there are no lumps or bits of scrambled egg in the finished curd, but this step can be skipped. Add the remaining 2 Tablespoons of butter, whisking to incorporate the butter into the curd as it melts.
  5. Transfer the finished curd to a large bowl or Mason jar with a tight fitting lid. Curd can be kept in the refrigerator for one week.
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Old Fashioned Pound Cake

Old Fashioned Pound Cake SquarePound cake is the simplest of recipes yet creates something that seems extravagant, rich, and delicious.  The recipe is simple purely out of necessity.  Pound cake dates back to Britain in the early 1700s.  At that time, many citizens couldn’t read and write, so the recipe needed to be easy to remember and pass down orally.

Pound cake in that era was literally a cake made from one pound each of butter, sugar, eggs, and flour.   As far as recipes go, you can’t create a recipe any easier to remember than that.  The cake included no leavening agents, relying on fresh eggs instead.  The resulting cake was often very dense, but its easy preparation and lengthy shelf life ensured that this recipe would live on.

Over the years, the recipe has changed slightly in order to create a lighter cake with a more balanced flavor.  Today’s pound cake no longer includes one pound of each ingredient, but it does stay true to the original intent.  This recipe is simple, includes no leavening agents, and tastes as good four days later as it does the first day it is made.  The very best attributes of pound cake have lived on for centuries, a true testament to the delicious nature of pound cake.

Since we became chicken keepers, and later duck keepers, I find myself looking for recipes that celebrate the fresh eggs we collect from the coop and duck house each day.  During spring, those eggs abound and I find myself reaching for the recipes in my collection that use a good number of them.  I have found that eight eggs is the ideal amount for this cake, giving it a beautiful yellow color from our girl’s fresh eggs and a lovely texture.  When I decide to make a batch of fresh lemon curd to serve alongside this cake, I can put a full dozen of our fresh eggs to delicious use.

I like to use a homemade cake flour substitute for most cakes, including this one.  Cake flour is difficult for me to purchase at the store due to our family’s food allergies.  Luckily, I’ve learned that a combination of All-purpose flour and cornstarch from our pantry deliver the same qualities as store bought cake flour.  As an added bonus, I don’t have to keep another specialty flour on hand.

To me, this cake is a harbinger of spring, a celebration of egg season, and a wonderful way to share a beautiful and a delicious old fashioned treat with friends and family.  I’m willing to bet that this recipe will live on in your baking arsenal for years to come just as it has endured in mine.

Old Fashioned Pound Cake
Serves 10
This cake is the perfect way to celebrate spring’s bounty of fresh eggs from our flock of chickens and ducks. I find that the texture is even better when I use my homemade cake flour mix of All-purpose flour and cornstarch. If you prefer, you can use 3 cups of All-purpose flour or store bought cake flour with delicious results.
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Ingredients
  1. 2 ½ cups All-purpose flour
  2. ½ cup cornstarch
  3. ¾ teaspoon salt
  4. 2 sticks butter, softened
  5. 3 cups sugar
  6. 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  7. 8 large eggs, at room temperature
  8. 1 cup heavy cream
Instructions
  1. Position an oven rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter a Bundt or tube pan and dust lightly with flour, tapping to knock any excess flour out of the pan. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cornstarch, and salt.
  2. Using a stand mixer or sturdy hand mixer, cream the butter and sugar at medium speed. Add the vanilla extract and increase the speed to high, beating for 5 minutes if using a stand mixer or 8 minutes if using a hand mixer. The increased mixing time will help to incorporate air into the mix, lightening the texture of the cake. The mixture should be pale yellow and fluffy when finished.
  3. Add the eggs one or two at a time, beating on medium speed after each addition to fully incorporate. Scrape down the sides of the bowl before adding approximately half of the dry ingredients. Mix on low speed just until the flour has been incorporated. Add the heavy cream and mix on low speed until well mixed. Add the remaining flour and mix on low speed just until the batter is smooth and the dry ingredients have been fully incorporated.
  4. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan. Rap the pan on the counter to help release air bubbles and create a more even texture in the finished cake. Transfer the pan to the warm oven. Bake for 60 – 75 minutes until the surface of the cake is a beautiful golden brown and a toothpick or skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean or with small crumbs attached.
  5. Remove the cake from the oven to a wire rack to cool. After 15 minutes, invert the pan onto the wire rack, remove the cake from the pan, and allow to cool completely. Serve warm or at room temperature with lemon curd or whipped cream and fresh berries.
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Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars with Nut Free Skippers

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bar BrandedFor me, there are few foods more comforting than a warm chocolate chip cookie.  My family feels the same way, so our Farmhouse Kitchen Chocolate Chip Cookies are a common sight cooling on the kitchen counter.  We never seem to tire of them.  I can perk up any day by adding a batch of chocolate chip cookies to them.

It doesn’t take long to make a batch of chocolate chip cookie dough, but portioning the individual cookies, baking them, and allowing them too cool before loading up the baking sheets again does take time.  Granted, it’s time well spent and work that ends with a pile of delicious cookies.  So, I’m happy to make individual cookies with time allows.

Some days, I am short on time, yet we still want to enjoy that delicious flavor of a chocolate chip cookie.  On those days, I put away the baking sheets and bake one pan of cookie bars instead.  The entire batch of dough fits beautifully in a 9×9 baking pan and the cookie bars are baking in the oven in minutes.

To up the flavor, I like to add a little something extra to the top of the bars just before placing them in the oven.  We live and bake around nut allergies here at the farmhouse.  It’s been a decade since we were able to enjoy an M&M candy or a cookie studded with M&M candies because they aren’t an allergy safe option for us. Luckily, we can enjoy the same fun flavor and crunch with Vermont Nut Free’s Skippers without any need to worry about an allergic reaction.  They deliver the same delicious flavor, the same chocolatey center covered in a crispy layer of candy coating.

Vermont Nut Free’s products are all 100% peanut and tree nut free, so we’re big fans.  Their products are so delicious and my go to for baking chocolates, cocoa powder, and these Skippers which have been a family favorite for years. If you don’t have nut allergies to contend with, you can substitute your favorite baking candies or chips. 

No matter how you choose to flavor your pan of cookie bars, I’m willing to bet that a warm square will end your day on a comforting and delicious note.  If you choose to add a scoop of vanilla ice cream to the mix, your week will be made!

 

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars with Nut Free Skippers
We live and eat around nut allergies here in the farmhouse. We love using Vermont Nut Free's baking products and use their semi-sweet chocolate chips and Skippers candies in this recipe. If you don't have nut allergies to contend with, simply substitute your favorite baking chips and add-ins for an equally delicious cookie bar.
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Ingredients
  1. 1 cup (8 ounces) butter, softened and cubed
  2. 1 cup granulated sugar
  3. 1 cup brown sugar
  4. 2 large eggs
  5. 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  6. 2 ½ cups All-purpose flour
  7. 1 teaspoon salt
  8. ½ teaspoon baking powder
  9. ½ teaspoon baking soda
  10. 8 ounces (2 generous cups) chocolate chips
  11. 2 ounces (a generous handful) Skippers candies or your favorite cookie add-in
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit and position an oven rack in the middle of your oven. Line a 9x9 baking pan with a sheet of parchment paper if desired.
  2. Place the cubed butter in the bowl of your mixer fitted with a paddle or dough beaters. Mix on medium speed for 30 seconds, until the butter begins to smooth out a bit. Add the sugar and brown sugar before beating on medium speed until the mixture is completely smooth, approximately 2-4 minutes.
  3. Add the eggs and vanilla extract to the bowl and beat on low for a 10-20 seconds, just until combined. The batter may break up a bit, but don’t worry. It will come together when the dry ingredients are worked into the mix. Scrape down the bowl and beaters if necessary to gather the batter together before continuing.
  4. In a small bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and chocolate chips. Stir to mix the dry ingredients.
  5. Add the dry ingredients in one addition to the mixer bowl. Mix on low speed until the dry ingredients have completely integrated into the dough. This should only take 30-60 seconds depending on the strength of your mixer. Take great care not to overmix the dough. Mixing develops the gluten in the flour and overmixing will encourage the dough to become tough.
  6. Transfer the dough to the 9x9 pan, spreading the dough to evenly fill the pan. Add Skippers to the top of the dough, dividing them across the dough evenly. Bake for 25 - 30 minutes, until the cookie dough has browned slightly and has a dry appearance on top. A toothpick inserted into the middle of the pan should come out cleanly or with small crumbs attached when the bars are baked. Rotating the baking sheets halfway through the baking time will help to ensure that the cookies are evenly baked.
  7. Remove the pan from the oven, allowing it to cool to room temperature. As with any cookie, these are even more delicious when eaten while still warm with a cup of coffee or cold glass of milk. They also make a delicious base for a scoop of vanilla ice cream!
Notes
  1. Our family lives and bakes around nut allergies, so our farmhouse kitchen is nut free. This recipe uses one of our nut free favorites: Vermont Nut Free Chocolates. You can learn all about them at www.vermontnutfree.com.
Adapted from Farmhouse Kitchen Chocolate Chip Cookies
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Brisket Braised with Caramelized Onions

Brisket Braised with Caramelized Onions2 BannerDuring the long New England winter, we need comfort on our dinner plates even more than usual.  When snow is piling up outside and the temperatures are bitterly cold, we turn to our favorite rustic recipes to warm us up from the inside out.  If that recipe involves braising something in the oven all afternoon, all the better.  I know that the warmth and delicious aroma emanating from the oven will help us to endure the cold and hold on to the knowledge that spring will eventually arrive.

Like so many cooking methods that have stood the test of time, braising is rustic and simple.  It requires no fancy equipment, only a heavy pot with a lid that can be moved from the stovetop to the oven.  Braising doesn’t involve a lot of hands on time, hours of paying careful attention to the recipe.  Instead, it brilliantly combines two simple tasks:  searing a cut of meat and then allowing that meat to cook slowly in a covered pan until it is tender and infused with flavor.

My culinary idol Julia Child didn’t need many words to explain braising in Mastering the Art of French Cooking.  She simply defines it as “To brown foods in fat, then cook them in a covered casserole with a small amount of liquid.”  I couldn’t possibly explain it any more perfectly or succinctly.  Yes, it really is that simple.

Brisket is a cut of meat perfect suited for braising.  Brisket can be tough if it is hurried, if it isn’t cooked in a way that encourages that sinewy muscle to magically transform into a tender piece of meat and gelatinous broth.  Luckily, braising does just that. 

Braising has become a Sunday ritual in the farmhouse kitchen during the colder months of the year.  In New England, that means more than half of our calendar year.  This week is the first week of spring.  It’s also a week where we watched as snow squalls dropped a fresh layer on the farm’s landscape not once but twice. 

As soon as the first snowstorm arrived, we started discussing what to braise for Sunday dinner.  We can’t control the weather, cannot convince Mother Nature that spring is welcome here and we’ve seen enough wintry snow for a while.  We can look forward to a Sunday afternoon with a brisket braising in the oven all afternoon and the resulting meals for the week. 

We’ve been braising for years, but had never found a brisket recipe that left us craving more.  Then David Lebovitz dropped one right in my newsfeed that looked so promising that we made immediate plans to give it a try.  The recipe was made famous by Nach Waxman, the owner of Kitchen Arts & Letters, a fabulous culinary book shop in New York City.  Since then, it has appeared in several cookbooks. 

The first time we made the recipe, I was skeptical.  It seemed too simple to be anything but ordinary.  I couldn’t have been more wrong.  The results were so delicious that we have since made our own version countless times this winter.  Every single time, I am taken by just how delicious it is, how much flavor each bite contains.  Some recipes are keepers, and this is surely one of them, a foundational recipe to have on hand to make time and time again. 

Over the winter, I’ve adjusted the quantities and timing a bit from the original recipe.  After testing my version many times, we’ve agreed that our version is just to our liking.  It’s delicious and tender every time.  The leftovers are even better 24 or 48 hours later.  We enjoy them on sandwiches spread with a bit of homemade horseradish sauce or tarragon mayonnaise.  I also love to shred a bit of the leftover brisket and serve it with caramelized fennel over a bed of creamy, cheesy grits.  Just writing about it makes my mouth water.  One bite of this brisket and you’ll understand why at our farmhouse, Sundays are for braising.

Brisket Braised with Caramelized Onions
Our version is a bit simpler than the original. I found that the step of salting the meat ahead of time didn’t impact the flavor or texture of the finished dish, so I omitted it. While I do my best to plan ahead, salting the brisket the day before and allowing it to sit overnight in the refrigerator before beginning the recipe simply didn’t happen one Sunday because I had forgotten the night before. When that brisket turned out equally delicious and tender, I decided to cross that preparation right off my recipe. You can certainly give it a try and see if you find it to be noticeably different. Over the winter, I’ve adjusted the quantities and timing a bit from the original recipe. After testing my version many times, we’ve agreed that our version is just to our liking. It’s delicious and tender every time. The leftovers are even better 24 or 48 hours later. We enjoy them on sandwiches spread with a bit of homemade horseradish sauce or tarragon mayonnaise. I also love to shred a bit of the leftover brisket and serve it with caramelized fennel over a bed of creamy, cheesy grits. Just writing about it makes my mouth water. One bite of this brisket and you’ll understand why at our farmhouse, Sundays are for braising.
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Ingredients
  1. 4-6 pounds beef brisket
  2. kosher or sea salt
  3. 1-2 Tablespoons All-purpose flour
  4. 1 Tablespoon lard
  5. 2 pounds thinly sliced onions (approximately 6-8 medium onions)
  6. 4 Tablespoons tomato paste
  7. 6 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
  8. 4 large carrots, peeled and diced
  9. salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. Pat the brisket dry with a paper towel. Salt liberally. Sprinkle the brisket with the flour, using as much as is necessary to dust the entire surface.
  2. Prepare the onions, garlic, and carrots. They will be used in separate steps, so keep the garlic and carrots separate from the onions.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Place a large oven safe pot or roasting pan with a lid over medium-high heat. I like to use my cast iron or enameled cast iron Dutch oven, but any heavy pot with a lid that is safe to move from stovetop to oven will do the job.
  4. Add the lard to the warm pan, swirling to coat the bottom evenly. Add the brisket to the pan and sear on both sides. Five minutes per side should be enough to sear and lightly brown the brisket. Remove the brisket to a large plate or dish to rest as you caramelize the onions.
  5. Lower the heat to medium and add the onions to the pan. Season with a salt and black pepper and stir to coat them with the fat in the pan. Cook them for 15-20 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent them from sticking. They should soften and become translucent before taking on the golden brown color of caramelized onions. If they stick to the pan, you can add a bit more lard or a little water to the pan.
  6. Turn off the heat. Spread the onions evenly in the bottom of the pan to create a bed for the brisket. Add the brisket back to the pan along with any juices that have collected as it rested. Spread the tomato paste evenly on the top surface of the brisket. Add the garlic and carrots to the top of the brisket, allowing any excess to fall to the bed of onions below. Season with salt and pepper. Place the lid on your pan and transfer to the warm oven. Cook for 90 minutes.
  7. Remove the pot from the oven. Remove the lid and allow the brisket to rest for 10 minutes. Transfer the brisket to a large cutting board or large platter. Slicing against the grain, portion the brisket into ½ inch slices. Transfer the slices back to the braising pot, nestling them into the onions and overlapping them if necessary to fit. Replace the lid and transfer back to the oven to braise for another 90 minutes.
  8. Remove the pot from the oven. Allow the brisket to rest for 10 minutes before serving. The pot will remain hot, keeping the brisket and onions warm while allowing the meat to rest. Serve the brisket, spooning onions, carrots, and garlic from the pan over each serving. I often serve this brisket with a homemade horseradish sauce made by stirring together sour cream and horseradish to our liking and seasoning with a bit of salt and pepper.
  9. Any leftover brisket and vegetables can be stored in the refrigerator. The flavor will improve overnight, making for delicious leftovers the next day. Warming the leftovers in the vegetables and sauce will prevent the brisket from drying out as it is reheated.
Adapted from Nach Waxman’s Beef Brisket shared by David Lebovitz
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Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Brown Butter and Sage

Sweet Potato Gnocchi BannerThere are a few foods that seem to require being made by hand.  They simply have the handmade goodness baked right into them and their imperfections are somehow an integral part of what makes them so special.  For me, that list begins with berry pie and continues on to include many of my favorites.  Gnocchi would definitely be among them, and the sweet potato version would be my sentimental favorite.

The reason is really quite simple.  Sweet potato gnocchi was one of the first recipes that the whole family gathered in the farmhouse kitchen to make together.  Several times each fall and winter, we would spend a Saturday in the kitchen together making pounds of these little orange pillows to keep in the freezer.  During the years that our garden’s sweet potato harvest was plentiful, those days were frequent and we had a supply of homegrown and handmade sweet potato gnocchi to last all winter long.

Our children were young, but their small hands followed ours while rolling ropes of gnocchi dough until they were ready to section into pieces before pushing them down the ridged paddle and rolling them onto a sheet pan. By the time we were finishing filling tray after tray with gnocchi, we would be covered in the mess of the day’s work.  The kids often had sweet potato dough mashed under each fingernail, smeared onto their foreheads, and pressed  into every crevice of the table and slate tile floor. Cleaning up the kitchen and the kids sometimes took almost as long as making the gnocchi. 

No matter the mess, I have such fond memories of those days.  They ended with our family gathered around our farmhouse table enjoying a meal that was literally made with our hands.  Every bite was a celebration of time spent together in the kitchen. There’s something warm and wonderful about that sort of memory, that type of meal, and knowing that we are continuing a tradition as old as this farmhouse by creating something nourishing for our family table together.

Years have passed, but we still enjoy this meal just as much today.  My kitchen helpers have grown by leaps and bounds in every way including their gnocchi making prowess.  They roll these gnocchi down the paddle with such ease now.  The trays fill quickly with beautiful gnocchi and the mess is a mere hint of what it was years ago.

I’ve written about food memory so many times before.  Most often, my childhood food memories involve my paternal grandmother’s homemade pies.  The mere thought of them has the power to transport me back decades to her humble kitchen table.  Food memories are so powerful, so intertwined into our remembrance of a time and place.

While I didn’t set out for this rustic recipe to become one of my children’s food memories, they certainly have.  We speak of them often, peering back into the years gone by to revisit them.  I hope that my children will continue to hold this food memory and many others we have cultivated very close to their hearts.

For me, these sweet potato gnocchi will always have a special place in my heart, a rich food memory that will be bound together by the mental images I have of us gathered together to make them in our farmhouse kitchen.  I hope that you will create your own tradition and food memory by making them to share with your friends and family.  I can promise that all who gather at your table to enjoy these gnocchi will remember them fondly for years to come.

 

You can certainly make this recipe without a gnocchi paddle.  The ridges are meant to both make the gnocchi look beautiful and help them to hold on to their sauce.  You can make them without the ridges without affecting their flavor.  We have two gnocchi paddles at the farmhouse.  One is an antique that we discovered at a local antique shop.  The other is a new version we purchased from a kitchen shop.  I’ve had so many readers ask me where they can find a paddle for making gnocchi and pasta that I’ve added one to our Amazon shop so that you can find one to add to your kitchen!

 

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Brown Butter and Sage
This recipe comes together quite easily, but does require a bit of prep time. At our house, we make a double recipe and save half of the gnocchi for a second evening’s dinner. These frozen, unboiled gnocchi can be stored in a freezer bag for later use. When the time comes, frozen gnocchi can be dropped directly into a pot of boiling salted water. They will take a few extra minutes to float to the surface and cook completely, but the taste will not be affected by their stay in the freezer.
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For the Gnocchi
  1. 2 pounds raw sweet potatoes
  2. 15 ounces ricotta cheese
  3. 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
  4. 1 ½ teaspoons sea salt
  5. 2 1/2 cups All-purpose flour
For the Brown Butter
  1. 3 Tablespoons butter
  2. 1 Tablespoon fresh sage, minced
  3. Parmesan cheese, grated for serving
Instructions
  1. Wash the sweet potatoes and puncture all over with a fork. Place half of the potatoes on a microwave safe plate and microwave on high in 4 minute intervals until soft. Remove from the plate and set aside to cool. Repeat with the remaining sweet potatoes.
  2. Once the cooked sweet potatoes are cool enough to handle, split each potato in half lengthwise. Using a spoon, scrape the flesh from the skin and place into a potato ricer. Rice the sweet potato into a large bowl. Repeat until all the sweet potatoes have been riced into the bowl. If you do not have access to a potato ricer, the cooked sweet potato flesh can be placed in the large bowl and mashed using a hand potato masher.
  3. Add ricotta cheese, brown sugar, and salt to the sweet potatoes and stir until well combined. Add 1 1/2 cups of the flour to the sweet potato mixture and stir until fully incorporated. Add the remaining flour 1/2 cup at a time until the dough forms a soft ball. The goal is to create a soft dough that comes together without being too dry. If needed, add more flour a bit at a time until the dough comes together. Take care not to overmix.
  4. Turn dough out of the bowl onto a well-floured surface. Divide the dough into 8 equally sized sections. Take one of the sweet potato dough sections and roll on a floured surface to form a rope with a 1 inch diameter. Using a knife or bench scraper, cut the rope into one inch long pieces.
  5. Traditionally, gnocchi are individually rolled on a gnocchi paddle or over a fork in order to create ridges that trap the sauce on each piece.You can also push each piece of gnocchi across the tines of a fork with your thumb.
  6. However, if you find this intimidating or simply don't have the time, don't despair. This step can be skipped and the gnocchi can simply be prepared once they are cut. While the appearance will differ slightly, the flavor will still be delicious.
  7. Place the gnocchi on a sheet pan lined with a piece of parchment, waxed paper, or freezer paper. Continue until all of the gnocchi have been shaped and cut. If you are planning to freeze some of the gnocchi, place them in a single layer on a tray lined with freezer paper. Freeze them for several hours until they are frozen solid. Transfer them to a freezer bag for long term storage.
  8. To prepare the gnocchi, place a large stockpot filled with water over high heat. Once the water comes to a simmer, add 1 Tablespoon of salt and allow the water to come to a full rolling boil. Reduce the heat slightly.
  9. Add the gnocchi in batches small enough to allow them to move freely in the salted boiling water without being crowded. The gnocchi will begin to float on the surface of the water as they cook. Continue to cook for approximately one minute before removing with a slotted spoon to a lightly oiled baking sheet to allow the gnocchi to dry slightly. Continue until all of the gnocchi have been cooked.
  10. Once the gnocchi have been boiled and are drying on the sheet pan, prepare the brown butter and sage. Add the butter to a large skillet over medium heat. After the butter melts, you will notice that the milk solids will begin to separate. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally to allow those solids to brown slightly. You will notice a slight change in color and aroma. Brown butter has a slightly nutty aroma which will signal that the solids have caramelized and that the brown butter has finished cooking.
  11. Reduce the heat to low and add the minced sage, swirling the pan or stirring to combine. Begin adding the boiled gnocchi to the pan in small additions, tossing gently to coat them in the brown butter without damaging the tender gnocchi. Continue adding gnocchi to the pan until they have all been added.
  12. Warm the gnocchi briefly, moving them gently to prevent sticking and to ensure that they are all coated with the brown butter and sage. Transfer the warm gnocchi to plates and garnish with grated Parmesan cheese before serving. Enjoy!
  13. Taste for seasoning, adding salt and pepper to taste. Add the cooked gnocchi to the pan and gently stir to coat. Serve immediately, garnishing with grated Parmesan.
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Creamy Polenta Made with Home Ground Cornmeal

Creamy Polenta BannerPolenta is a popular side dish here at the farmhouse. For years, I made polenta from cornmeal purchased at the grocery store.  The recipe was foolproof and always produced a polenta that had a lovely texture and flavor.  We were very happy with the consistently good results we had making polenta to serve at our family table.

Then we added a WonderMill grain mill to our arsenal of kitchen tools and our good polenta was transformed into a great, show stopping dish.  By making the simplest of changes to the cornmeal we were using, our polenta became a richly flavored, earthy masterpiece. The only change was that we were milling our own cornmeal instead of using store bought meal.   It’s shocking what a difference freshly milled cornmeal can make.

Milling the cornmeal was incredibly easy once I had sourced the corn to grind in the WonderMill.  I searched in vain for a local source for dried dent corn, but couldn’t find any that was safe for us to have here in our nut free home.  After doing a little research, I found that other home millers used popcorn kernels to make their own cornmeal.  Popcorn is readily available in different varieties, including organic, so I was eager to see what type of meal it would produce.

In a matter of minutes, an entire two pound bag of popcorn kernels had been processed through the mill on the coarse setting.  The resulting meal was congruent with evenly ground particles.  The smell of the warm meal was amazing, full of the aroma of freshly cooked corn.

I couldn’t wait to use this home ground meal in our beloved polenta recipe and taste the results.  Polenta with Heirloom Tomato Sauce was added to our menu board for the following night’s dinner.  As soon as it was bubbling away on the stove, the amazing aroma told me that this home ground meal was going to make all the difference.

Both the flavor and texture of the polenta made with our freshly milled meal was superior to the polenta we had been making.  In fact, the intensity of the pure corn flavor was amazing.  It transcended the entire dish from something ordinary to extraordinary.  While the polenta we had made in the past was always a good base for a sauce or topping, this polenta was a great component of the dish.

This polenta’s intense, earthy flavor was robust enough to shine through the topping instead of just providing a backdrop to it.  Since then, we have made this recipe many times, yet I am still surprised by what a difference the freshly milled cornmeal makes.  It is rare that such a simple effort in the kitchen makes such a huge impact on a dish.  Thankfully, it’s achievable for anyone who has a mill and a few handfuls of popcorn in the pantry.  One taste and I’m sure that you and your family will agree:  fresh home ground cornmeal makes all the difference in the world.

 


Creamy Polenta
I use our own freshly milled cornmeal when making this recipe. If you prefer, you can substitute an equal amount of your favorite brand of store bought cornmeal.
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Ingredients
  1. 8 cups liquid (water, stock, bone broth, or a combination)
  2. 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  3. 2 cups fresh cornmeal milled on the coarse setting
  4. salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. In a large pot, bring the 8 cups of liquid to a rapid boil. Add the salt and return to boil. Place the cornmeal in a large mixing bowl. Using a ladle, add some of the boiling water into the cornmeal, whisking to incorporate. Add enough water to make a thin batter. Slowly add the thin batter to the remaining boiling water, whisking constantly. Adding the cornmeal to the liquid in this manner will help to prevent lumps from forming, making a creamier polenta.
  2. Return the cornmeal mixture to a boil while whisking constantly to prevent lumps from forming. Once the mixture comes to a boil, reduce the heat to low. Continue to simmer, uncovered, whisking often for approximately 30 minutes. Take care when whisking the hot polenta as it has a tendency to bubble and pop as it is simmering.
  3. The polenta will thicken as it cooks; yet retain a smooth and silky texture. If the mixture becomes too thick, simply add a bit of warm liquid and whisk to combine. Taste the polenta for seasoning, adding salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Remove the polenta from the heat. At this point, the polenta can be served by ladling onto serving plates and topping with your favorite sauce, meat, and vegetables. It makes a lovely base for richly flavored dishes like braised lamb shanks or brisket.
  5. The polenta can also be baked to create a dish that can be sliced into individual portions for serving. In order the bake the polenta, preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Prepare a shallow casserole dish or baking pan for the polenta by brushing with a thin coating of olive oil. Transfer the polenta from the cooking pot to the prepared baking dish. Spread the polenta to the edges of the pan, smoothing the top of the mixture. Using a pastry brush, lightly cover the surface of the polenta with olive oil. Season with fresh salt and pepper and add a liberal amount of grated Parmesan cheese if desired. Place the polenta in the preheated oven and bake for 10 minutes.
  6. After the 10 minutes have passed, turn on the oven’s broiler. Broil the polenta for approximately five minutes or until the top is lightly browned. Remove the polenta from the oven. Cut the polenta into squares and transfer portions of polenta to plates. Serve hot and enjoy!
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Cast Iron Skillet Pizza

Cast Iron Skillet Pizza BannerPizza night is a favorite here at the farmhouse.  I’ve made all sorts of homemade pizza over the years from traditional to taco pizza, grilled pizza, and homemade calzones.  Lately, we’ve been making our homemade pizza in a cast iron skillet with amazing results.  I should have known that creating a homemade pizza in my favorite type of pan would create a delicious, comforting meal to serve at our family table.

Preparing pizza in a cast iron skillet is so simple.  The crust bakes up beautifully thanks to the even heat in the skillet.  Once we have all helped ourselves to a slice, the remaining pizza stays warm and delicious until we’re all ready for seconds. 

I make one large pizza for our family in a 12 inch cast iron skillet.  You can also scale down your pizza to fit a 9 inch cast iron skillet.  The baking times remain the same; simply reduce the amount of toppings to create a slightly smaller pizza with equally delicious results.  If you prefer a thinner crust, less dough can be used to create a pizza just to your liking..  If you love a thick crust, do the opposite and use more of the dough to create a thick crust for your pizza.  This crust also makes  a delicious traditional style pizza baked on a pizza pan. 

This recipe makes enough dough and sauce for two 12 inch pizzas.  The dough stores very well in the refrigerator for a few days or in the freezer for weeks.  I make a batch of dough and sauce one week and have enough of both leftover to make our pizza the following week.

I have used both homemade pizza dough and the store bought varieties to make great pizzas in my cast iron skillet.  Our favorite is the recipe I have included below.  It’s simple to make and tastes delicious.  If you prefer to use a store bought pizza crust, you will need around 14 ounces for a 12 inch skillet and 10 to 12 ounces for a 9 inch skillet pizza. 

We like to fill our pizza with a combination of 8 ounces local sausage, a sautéed red bell pepper, and a generous handful of sliced black olives.  Precooking the sausage and peppers ensures that they will be fully cooked and will not add too much moisture to the finished pizza which can result in a soggy crust.  This step also greatly reduces the baking time for your pizza.  On busy weeks, I often precook the toppings the night before or in the morning so that assembling our pizza at dinner time will be even easier.  You can substitute your favorite toppings for your pizza, precooking any raw ingredients and preparing them ahead of time if that suits your schedule.

I hope that you will gather your favorite pizza dough, sauce, toppings, and cast iron skillet for a farmhouse style pizza night at your house. I know that you’ll find that this simple recipe will make pizza night into a homemade feast that you’ll love serving to your family and friends week after week.

 

 

 

  

Cast Iron Skillet Pizza
I make one large pizza for our family in a 12 inch cast iron skillet. You can also scale down your pizza to fit a 9 inch cast iron skillet. The baking times remain the same; simply reduce the amount of toppings to create a slightly smaller pizza with equally delicious results. If you prefer a thinner crust, less dough can be used to create a pizza just to your liking.. If you love a thick crust, do the opposite and use more of the dough to create a thick crust for your pizza. This crust also makes a delicious traditional style pizza baked on a pizza pan. This recipe makes enough dough and sauce for two 12 inch pizzas. The dough stores very well in the refrigerator for a few days or in the freezer for weeks. I make a batch of dough and sauce one week and have enough of both leftover to make our pizza the following week. I have used both homemade pizza dough and the store bought varieties to make great pizzas in my cast iron skillet. This is our favorite is the recipe. It’s simple to make and tastes delicious. If you prefer to use a store bought pizza crust, you will need around 14 ounces for a 12 inch skillet and 10 to 12 ounces for a 9 inch skillet pizza.
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For one 12 inch Cast Iron Skillet Pizza
  1. 14 ounces pizza dough
  2. 1 teaspoon olive oil to prepare the pan before baking
  3. 1 – 2 cups pizza sauce
  4. 16 ounces mozzarella cheese, grated
  5. Your favorite pizza toppings
  6. dried oregano
For the Dough
  1. 3 ½ - 4 cups Bread Flour
  2. 2 teaspoons sea salt
  3. 1 packet active dry yeast or 2 ¼ teaspoons instant yeast
  4. 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  5. 2 teaspoons honey
  6. 1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons warm water
For the Sauce
  1. 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  2. 2 cloves garlic, minced
  3. 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  4. 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
  5. 28 ounces tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes
  6. 1 teaspoon sugar or honey
  7. salt and pepper to taste
For the Dough
  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine water, honey, salt, and olive oil. Sprinkle the yeast on top of liquids and allow to sit for 5 minutes to activate the yeast.
  2. Add 3 ½ cups of flour to bowl and fit the mixer with a dough hook. Mix on low-speed for three minutes. The dough will begin to gather together and form a shaggy ball. Turn mixer off and allow dough to rest for five minutes.
  3. At the end of the rest period, mix the dough for another three minutes at medium low-speed. Add up to ½ cup additional flour if necessary to bring the dough together. At this point, the dough will be transformed into a ball.
  4. Remove the dough from the mixer and knead by hand until it is elastic and smooth. Divide the dough into two portions and form each into a ball by tucking the ends underneath as you turn it in your hands. Place each ball of dough in a medium bowl, coating the bowl and ball of dough with a bit of olive oil to prevent it from sticking or drying out. Allow the dough to sit at room temperature at least 15 minutes. Cover the bowl and store the dough in the refrigerator until ready to use. The dough will keep in the refrigerator for several days or in the freezer for several weeks.
For the Sauce
  1. In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring to prevent burning. Add the oregano and tomato paste and stir to combine. Cook for 1 minute before adding the tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes. Bring the mixture to a simmer. Add the sugar and season with salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. The sauce should reduce slightly and thicken. Remove the pan from the heat and taste for seasoning, adding salt, pepper, and oregano as needed. If you prefer your sauce to have a bit of spice, you can add a dash of dried red pepper flakes with the garlic and oregano.
For the Pizza
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. If you have a pizza stone or baking stone, this is a great time to use it. Position an oven rack in the middle of the oven. Add 1 teaspoon of olive oil to your cast iron skillet. Use a pastry brush to coat the bottom and sides of the skillet with the oil. This will prevent the dough from sticking to the skillet as it bakes.
  2. As the sauce is reducing, I cook my pizza toppings. In a medium skillet, I brown 8 ounces of sausage removed from its casing before adding sliced bell peppers. Once the peppers are cooked, I remove the skillet from the heat, add the sliced black olives, and stir to combine. Precooking any raw ingredients will prevent the pizza from becoming soggy from the moisture released from raw ingredients as they bake in the oven.
  3. Press the pizza dough into the oiled cast iron skillet. The dough should evenly cover the bottom and the sides of the skillet. As you press the dough, it should keep its shape in the skillet, holding itself up against the side of the skillet. Place the skillet on a burner set at low heat as you assemble the pizza. The heat will help to warm the cast iron skillet and sear the bottom of the dough. This will help to ensure that the crust bakes evenly and has a nice crunch on the exterior. The pizza should spend about 5-7 minutes on the burner as you assemble the pizza before being transferred to the oven.
  4. Add half of the grated cheese to the skillet, spreading to evenly cover the bottom of the pizza crust. Add half of the pizza sauce, spreading it evenly on top of the layer of grated cheese. Add your toppings followed by the remaining grated mozzarella. Sprinkle with dried oregano. Allow the pizza to remain on the warm burner for a minute or two before transferring it to the hot oven.
  5. Bake the pizza for 18 - 20 minutes, turning it after 10 minutes to promote even browning and baking. Remove the pizza from the oven and allow it to cool for a full 15 minutes. This cool down period will allow the pizza toppings to set up slightly, making it much easier to slice and serve.
  6. Enjoy!
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Chocolate Cream Pie

Chocolate Cream Pie BrandedChocolate.  Cream.  Pie.  Need I say more?  I didn’t think so.  What could be better than a combination of rich, chocolate cream made from scratch over a crumb pie crust topped with vanilla bean whipped cream?  For a pie lover like me, adding chocolate to the mix sends this recipe to the top of my favorites list.

With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, this recipe is perfect for treating your loved ones to a delicious homemade dessert.  My Valentines are chocolate lovers, so this pie often finds a place at our table on and around Valentine’s Day.  It never fails to delight each and every one of them.

In our house, we bake and eat around food allergies, so the first step in any recipe is ensuring that the ingredients are safe to keep in our nut free home.   Finding premium quality chocolate that is free from nut allergens would be a difficult task if it wasn’t for Vermont Nut Free Chocolates.  Thanks to their delicious line of nut free baking ingredients, chocolates, and treats, I always know that the baking ingredients I keep in the pantry and use in our farmhouse kitchen are safe for our whole family.

In this recipe, I use three different types of chocolate from Vermont Nut Free Chocolates.  I found that combining milk chocolate, dark chocolate, and unsweetened chocolate yielded the most delicious result.  If you don’t have nut allergies to consider when making this dessert, you can substitute your favorite brand of chocolate when making this recipe with equally delicious results.

This pie is also the perfect recipe to use the very best vanilla extract you have available.  In our house, that means reaching for our homemade vanilla extract.  Its rich amber color, intense flavor, and fragrant aroma are the perfect counterpoint to the chocolate filling and whipped cream topping.  You can learn more about making your own vanilla extract and our vanilla extract kits in our Mercantile Shop.

I hope that you will enjoy making and serving this delicious pie as much as I do.  I turn to it time and time again when I want to treat my family to a dessert that puts a smile on every face gathered around our table.  It never disappoints!

 

Chocolate Cream Pie
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For the Crumb Pie Crust
  1. 200 grams (approximately half a box) of graham crackers
  2. 6 Tablespoons butter, melted
For the Chocolate Filling
  1. 4 large egg yolks
  2. 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  3. ¼ cup cornstarch
  4. ½ teaspoon salt
  5. 2 ½ cups whole milk
  6. 3 ounces milk chocolate
  7. 3 ounces dark chocolate
  8. 1 ounce unsweetened baking chocolate
  9. 2 Tablespoons butter
  10. 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
For the Whipped Cream Topping
  1. 8 ounces heavy whipping cream
  2. 1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
  3. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
To Make the Crust
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Place the graham crackers in a food processor or blender. Pulse/process until the crackers have been reduced to fine crumbs. If you prefer, you can place the graham crackers on a sheet tray and use a rolling pin to crush them to a uniform, fine crumb.
  3. Melt the butter in a small saucepan or microwave. Place the graham cracker crumbs and butter in a medium bowl and stir until the crumbs are evenly moistened. Transfer the crumb mixture to a pie plate and gently press it into the bottom and sides of the pan. The crumbs should come together to form a crust.
  4. Transfer the pie plate to the preheated oven. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove the plate from the oven and allow the crust to cool to room temperature.
To Make the Chocolate Filling
  1. In a medium saucepan, combine the egg yolks, sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Whisk the ingredients together until they form a thick, smooth mixture. Slowly add the whole milk, whisking to fully combine and prevent lumps from forming. Place the saucepan over low heat and add the chocolate, whisking until it is completely melted and the mixture is smooth. Increase the heat to medium and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally to prevent the mixture from scorching on the bottom of the pan. Simmer until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
  2. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the butter and vanilla and stir until the butter is melted and the mixture is smooth. Allow to cool slightly as you prepare the whipped cream, stirring occasionally to prevent a skin from forming on the surface. Once the mixture has cooled to lukewarm or room temperature, transfer it to the pie plate, spreading it evenly over the baked pie crust.
To Make the Whipped Cream Topping
  1. Place the whipping cream, sugar, and vanilla extract in the bowl of a stand mixer or a large mixing bowl. Using a whisk attachment for your stand mixer or beaters for a hand mixer, beat the cream and sugar on high speed until it forms stiff peaks.
  2. Transfer the whipped cream to the pie, spreading it gently to evenly cover the surface of the chocolate filling. Chill the pie until you are ready to serve.
Notes
  1. Our family lives and bakes around nut allergies, so our farmhouse kitchen is nut free. This recipe uses one of our nut free favorites: Vermont Nut Free Chocolates baking pieces and cocoa powder. You can learn all about them at www.vermontnutfree.com.
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This recipe is included in our Valentine’s Day recipe gallery.  You’ll find our favorite homemade Valentine’s Day recipes there just waiting for you!

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Permanent link to this article: http://1840farm.com/2017/01/chocolate-cream-pie/

Cinnamon Candy Applesauce

cinnamon-candy-applesauce-brandedI remember vividly the bright red, glossy candy apples I looked forward to at the fair each fall during my childhood.  I loved that hardened, glassy red candy with a juicy apple waiting inside,  They were so beautiful, so magical looking before I had even taken the first bite.  Once I did, my mouth was treated to the amazing flavor of cinnamon, sugar, and juicy apple.

My husband grew up enjoying a special cinnamon candied apple dish each year at Thanksgiving.  The chunks of apple were simmered slowly in a cinnamon syrup, taking on all the flavor of a candy apple and pairing beautifully with Thanksgiving dinner.

It stood to reason that I would eventually choose to combine those two childhood memories and create a dish that we could enjoy all year long.  This recipe has become a family favorite.  You’ll find a jar of this beautiful red tinged applesauce in our refrigerator just waiting to be served at our family table.

I have used a variety of cinnamon flavored candies to create this recipe with delicious results.  Choose your favorite cinnamon candy and give this simple recipe a try.  Your friends and family will love it as much as mine do!

Cinnamon Candy Applesauce
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Ingredients
  1. 6 - 8 medium to large apples, peeled and cored (should yield around 1 pound of flesh)
  2. 4 ounces red cinnamon flavored candies, crushed
  3. ¼ cup (2 ounces) water
  4. pinch salt
Instructions
  1. Wash, peel, and core the apples. The apples can be left in quarters or cut into chunks. They will break down as they cook, making fine chopping unnecessary.
  2. Using a food processor or blender, crush the cinnamon candies into small pieces. Place the water and candies in a large pot over low heat. Cook, stirring often, until the candies have completed dissolved in the water. Add the apples and pinch of salt to the pot and stir to coat.
  3. Reduce the heat to low and continue to cook until the apples begin to fall apart, approximately 20-30 minutes depending on the variety. You can speed up this process by crushing the cooked apples with the back of a wooden spoon or by using a potato masher.
  4. Remove the pot from the heat. Taste for seasoning, adding additional sugar if necessary. I prefer my applesauce to have a chunky texture, but you can puree the sauce using an immersion blender if you prefer a smoother texture.
  5. Allow the applesauce to cool to room temperature before transferring to a storage container with a tight fitting lid. This applesauce can be stored in the refrigerator for two weeks. It’s delicious served with your Thanksgiving dinner or other hearty meals.
Notes
  1. The amount of sweetness needed in this recipe can be adjusted to match the tartness of the apples you are using. Cinnamon candies vary in sweetness, making the addition of a bit of sugar necessary in some cases. Simply add a bit of granulated sugar to the applesauce during the final stages to adjust its flavor to your liking if needed.
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This post is included in our 1840 Farmhouse Thanksgiving Gallery.
You’ll find our favorite Thanksgiving recipes all gathered in one place so that you can easily include them in your family’s celebration.  I’ll be adding new recipes  right up until the big day, so check back to see even more delicious and fabulous Thanksgiving posts.

 

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Permanent link to this article: http://1840farm.com/2016/11/cinnamon-candy-applesauce/

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