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Velvety Mashed Potatoes

velvety-mashed-potatoes-brandedFor me, a serving of velvety smooth mashed potatoes is at the top of my list of favorite comfort foods. They’re always a welcome sight at our family table. They pair beautifully with so many main courses and I love repurposing any leftovers into the next evening’s comforting meal for our family. Leftover mashed potatoes make a delicious topping for a range of dishes from Shepherd’s Pie to a Farmhouse Style Mashed Potato Torta.   At Thanksgiving dinner, I can’t imagine our plates without a healthy serving of mashed potatoes.

As much as I love to make and enjoy mashed potatoes in our farmhouse kitchen, I receive countless messages and pleas for help from my readers who are frustrated by the process. They’ve tried so many different recipes and have yet to create the lovely, creamy mashed potatoes they’re dreaming of.

Making amazing mashed potatoes is simple once you understand the role a potato’s starch plays in the finished texture of the dish. You don’t need fancy tools or ingredients, just a few simple techniques for controlling the starch contained in the potatoes you’re working with.

First, carefully choose the type of potato you use and the method of preparing them for boiling. Yukon Golds are my preferred type of potato to use when making mashed potatoes. They are waxy and ideally suited for creating a smooth mashed potato. I love their flavor and texture and use them when creating any mashed potato recipe.

Next, let’s discuss preparing the potatoes for cooking. I like to resist cutting the potatoes into small pieces before boiling. The more surface area you create, the more water will be absorbed by the boiling potatoes, causing the starch molecules to swell and absorb too much water. Instead, cut the potatoes into pieces approximately 2” square which allows the potatoes to cook quickly without soaking up too much liquid.

As soon as the potatoes are fork tender, remove the boiled potatoes from the hot water immediately to a colander. Allow the hot potatoes to drain for a few moments before returning them to the pan. Use a potato ricer or an old fashioned potato masher to break down the potatoes. Do not use a blender, mixer, or food processor to mash your potatoes as they will over work the starch molecules and produce gummy mashed potatoes that no amount of butter or cream will be able to tame.

Finally, do not add cold liquid to the boiled potatoes. A hot, steaming pile of potatoes doused in cold liquid will seize up due to the drastic difference in temperature, producing and releasing far too much starch to create the velvety smooth dish we all love. Instead, warm your liquids before adding them to the cooked potatoes. You’ll be amazed at the difference in texture and rewarded with glorious mashed potatoes to serve at your family table.

Once you unlock these simple secrets for creating velvety smooth mashed potatoes, you’ll find yourself turning to this recipe again and again.  They’re simply delicious served with our Farmhouse Gravy.  I hope that your family and friends will enjoy them as much as we do!

Velvety Mashed Potatoes
Serves 6
I like a rustic mashed potato dish, so I skip the step of peeling the potatoes before boiling. If you prefer, you can peel the potatoes before boiling. This is the perfect recipe to use your homemade bone broth. I find that using bone broth delivers a rich flavor and texture unlike any other liquid added to the warm potatoes. Be sure to warm the liquids before incorporating them into the potatoes.
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Ingredients
  1. 3 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, washed and cut into 2” cubes
  2. 1 cup bone broth or high quality stock
  3. ½ cup whole milk
  4. ¼ cup heavy cream
  5. butter for serving
  6. salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. In a large pot, combine the cubed potatoes with enough cold water to cover and allow them to move freely as they boil. Place the pot over a burner on high heat, bringing it to a rapid boil. Reduce the heat as needed to maintain the boil but prevent the pot from boiling over. Continue to cook until the potatoes are fork or knife tender, approximately 15 minutes.
  2. Immediately remove the pot from the heat and drain the potatoes in a colander. Allow the hot potatoes to drain for a few minutes before continuing. You can use a potato ricer to break down the potatoes or return the cubed potatoes to the boiling pot to mash using an old fashioned potato masher. Take care to mash the potatoes without overworking them.
  3. Add half of the warm liquid mixture to the pot, stirring it into the mashed potatoes. Continue adding more liquid until the mashed potatoes are the desired consistency. If you find that you need more liquid, simply warm a bit of bone broth, cream, or milk before adding it to the potato mixture. Taste the potatoes, seasoning with salt and pepper as needed. Serve hot with an ample topping of butter, sour cream, or a ladle full of our Farmhouse Gravy.
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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/2016/10/velvety-mashed-potatoes/

Farmhouse Gravy

farmhouse-gravy-brandedFor me, there are few recipes more rustic and comforting than gravy.  It adds flavor and velvety texture to roasted meats, mashed potatoes, and anything else it happens to touch on a dinner plate.  With very little effort, simple ingredients can be coaxed into a thick, delicious gravy perfect for a holiday table or family dinner.  It’s a true farmhouse staple in our home just like it was in my great grandparent’s farmhouse a century ago.

Cooking gravy certainly isn’t a modern technique.  It is believed that gravy dates back to ancient Egypt and the time period around 3000 B.C.  When you think about it, that makes perfect sense.  Spit roasting meat produced fatty, delicious liquid that simply couldn’t be allowed to go to waste.  A dripping pan resting underneath the cooking meat would collect the juices as they ran out of the meat when pierced with a fork or blade.  That liquid could be served as a thin dipping sauce or “jus” for chunks of meat eaten by hand or it could be reduced, salted, and poured over meat eaten with a fork. 

Fast forward to the 1960s when gravy became something made using a premade mix.  Simply add water, whisk, and heat to create a gravy with very little effort.  Add in canned gravies, and gravy making became something that few people practiced.  Perhaps homemade gravy would be made for Thanksgiving dinner, but even then it was just as likely to come from a can or pouch.  That trend continued.  In 2008, Food Technology magazine reported that 40 percent of American households served gravy made from a mix when adding it to their dinner plates.

Ironically, gravy making is incredibly easy.  It requires no special equipment, no fancy ingredients.   The process is simple and can be mastered easily.  From a flavor perspective, you just can’t beat gravy made from scratch, flavored to your liking.

Unlike our ancient ancestors, I prefer to roast our meat in the oven.  The pan collects the rich liquid which can be cooled slightly while the roast meat rests before skimming the fat from the top.  I use homemade bone broth added to the pan drippings and the resulting gravy is rich and delicious.  You can use a combination of broth, stock, and pan drippings to make gravy, adjusting seasoning to yield a delicious batch of gravy.

I hope that you’ll give gravy making a try.  I also hope that you’ll make our Velvety Mashed Potatoes to serve with it!  One taste and I’m willing to bet that you’ll be making a homemade version for years to come.

Farmhouse Gravy
You can use any combination of pan drippings, bone broth, broth, or stock to make delicious gravy. I keep bone broth on hand and add it to the pan drippings as needed to have enough liquid needed for this gravy. I like a very peppery gravy, so I season it liberally with black pepper and often add minced fresh thyme, rosemary, and tarragon from the garden which is often left over from seasoning the roast meat.
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Ingredients
  1. 2 Tablespoons lard or butter
  2. 3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  3. 1 ½ cups (12 ounces) warm pan drippings, bone broth, broth, or stock (or a combination)
  4. salt
  5. freshly ground pepper
  6. finely minced fresh herbs (I use thyme, rosemary, and tarragon from the garden)
Instructions
  1. Make the roux to thicken the gravy by adding the lard or butter to a small saucepan set over medium heat. Melt the fat before adding the flour. Whisk to combine and reduce the heat to low. Continue to whisk until the roux is smooth and takes on a bit of color, approximately 2 minutes. If you are using herbs, add them to the roux and cook for 1 minute.
  2. Add the 2 cups of warm drippings, bone broth, stock (or combination of liquids) to the roux. Whisk to incorporate and increase the heat to medium. Bring the mixture to a simmer, stirring often to prevent scorching. Simmer gently for 3-5 minutes to thicken the gravy to your desired consistency. Reduce the heat to low. Season with salt and black pepper. Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed.
  3. Gravy can be kept warm over low heat, stirring often before serving.
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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.

 

thanksgiving-gallery-ss


 

Permanent link to this article: http://1840farm.com/2016/10/farmhouse-gravy/

Cast Iron Skillet Roast Chicken

cast-iron-skillet-roast-chicken-branded

These days, I find myself actively looking for meals that fit a few key criteria. I want everyone to be eager to come to dinner, to look forward to the meal that lies ahead.  I like to have a multipurpose meal, one that can easily result in leftovers that can be reinvented the next evening into something equally delicious.  I also love when that meal can be procured locally, raised in our community, and eaten at its delicious best. cast-iron-skillet-roast-chicken-wm

I also like to serve something comforting at our family table.  After a long day, we could all use a plate that allows us to take a collective sigh, gather around the table, and enjoy recounting our day while eating something that delivers comfort with each bite.

For me, a whole chicken roasted to perfection in the oven delivers on each of these points. If the chicken can be cooked in a cast iron skillet, all the better.  The results are delicious each and every time, with my family clamoring for more, requesting that we make it again soon.

Thanks to inspiration from Thomas Keller’s Bouchon cookbook, I began roasting two birds at once each in their own cast iron skillet.  I’m only sorry that I didn’t think of this technique years earlier.  With very little extra effort, I can roast a duo of chickens side by side and ensure that we have plenty of leftover chicken to enjoy as tacos, sandwiches, pot pies, and in pasta dishes on successive evenings.

Roasting two chickens also provides me with all that I need to create two batches of hearty bone broth.  That bone broth delivers robust flavor and healthy nutrition to every single dish it is added to. Having homemade bone broth in the refrigerator or freezer at the ready is akin to having a bit of magic to add to any recipe that calls for broth or stock.

I hope that you will enjoy this hearty, comforting meal as much as we do.  It’s sure to become a favorite around your family table!

Cast Iron Skillet Roast Chicken
I roast two chickens at a time, each in their own 9 inch cast iron skillet. If you prefer, the two chickens could be placed in a single roasting pan large enough to accommodate them. When roasting two chickens, select birds of a similar size to ensure that they cook evenly in the same length of time. Prepping raw chickens can be a messy task, but I have found that lining my prep area with a generously sized piece of freezer paper helps to make cleanup a breeze.
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Total Time
1 hr 30 min
Total Time
1 hr 30 min
Ingredients
  1. Two 3-4 pound whole chickens
  2. coarse sea salt
  3. freshly ground pepper
  4. 2 Tablespoon lard or olive oil
  5. 2 teaspoons fresh minced thyme
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit and position the oven racks in the bottom third of the oven. Remove the chicken from the refrigerator to allow it to come closer to room temperature as the oven preheats.
  2. Line your prep space with a large piece of freezer paper if desired. I like to use two small prep bowls, filling each with ample coarse salt and pepper to use when seasoning the chickens. Having the seasonings at the ready allows me to season the chickens inside and out without contaminating my pepper grinder and salt cellar.
  3. Remove the chicken from its packaging. If your bird contains a packet of organs in its cavity, remove them. Rinse the chicken under cold water if desired before transferring to the prepared freezer paper. Using paper towel, pat the chicken dry inside and out. It is important that the chicken be as dry as possible. Any moisture will create steam in the oven which will prevent the skin from becoming crisp.
  4. Liberally season the chicken inside and out with salt and pepper. If you like, you can truss the chicken using a length of kitchen twine to tie the legs together and hold them tight to the body. Trussing the chicken will help to hold the legs close to the body, keeping it in a beautiful shape and also helping the meat to cook evenly and the breast to stay moist.
  5. Prepare a cast iron skillet for each bird by placing each skillet on a burner over high heat. When the pan is hot, add a Tablespoon of lard or olive oil to each skillet, swirling carefully to coat the bottom surface of the pan. Reduce the heat to medium high and add a prepped chicken to each pan. Allow the chicken to cook for five minutes undisturbed.
  6. Transfer the skillets to the hot oven with the legs facing the back of the oven. Placing the breast in the front of the oven (the coolest spot) will deliver a slightly lower temperature and help to ensure that the breast meat does not overcook.
  7. After 30 minutes, turn the skillets 180 degrees to encourage even browning. I like to very gently tilt the pan to encourage any juices that have collected in the cavity to run into the skillet. Take care to not splash the hot liquid out of the pan when doing so.
  8. Roast the chicken for another 20 minutes before removing the skillets from the oven to check for doneness. When done, the birds should be golden brown and a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh without touching the bone should register around 160 degrees. Juices from the chicken will run clear when it is fully cooked.
  9. When the chicken is finished cooking, add a generous teaspoon of the minced thyme to the juices that have collected in each skillet. Allow the chicken to rest for ten to fifteen minutes. This rest period will encourage the meat to stay moist and the pan juices to warm the fresh thyme.
  10. Remove the trussing twine from the chicken. Carve and serve, basting the chicken with a bit of the herbed pan juices.
  11. If you happen to be serving mashed potatoes and gravy with your chicken, add a bit of the pan juices to your gravy to boost the flavor and add a beautiful color.
When your meal is finished, the bones and skin can be used to make a delicious bone broth. You can learn how and why I make bone broth at
  1. www.1840farm.com/how-to-make-thanksgiving-turkey-bone-broth/
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Garden Fresh Heirloom Tomato Pico de Gallo

 Heirloom Tomato Pico de Gallo Gold Branded

When heirloom tomatoes are ripening by the basket full in our garden, I experiment with all sorts of ways to feature them on our farmhouse table.  I really love preparations that require little to no cooking, allowing the natural texture and delicious flavor of an heirloom tomato to be the star.

This pico de gallo definitely fits the bill.  It’s packed with delicious flavor, texture, and bright color.  It’s so beautiful on the plate and a wonderful way to enjoy the glorious flavor or tomatoes fresh from the garden without heating up the kitchen on a hot summer’s day.

I love to use cherry tomatoes of varying colors when they are available to celebrate the range of red, purple, yellow, and black colors we grow here in our garden. The burst of color and flavor on our plates is always a welcome sight.

Heirloom Tomato Pico de Gallo Ingredients Square WM   Heirloom Tomato Pico with Guac WM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Garden Fresh Heirloom Tomato Pico de Gallo
I love to use cherry tomatoes for this recipe. They can easily be quartered to create the perfect size bite. If you are using larger slicing tomatoes, simply seed the tomatoes before chopping to prevent the pico de gallo from being too runny. If you like a bit of heat with your Pico de Gallo, add a bit of minced jalapeno pepper to the tomatoes and onions.
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Ingredients
  1. 2 Tablespoons onion, minced very finely
  2. 2 cups fresh heirloom tomatoes, diced
  3. ¼ cup fresh cilantro, torn or chopped
  4. 1-2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
  5. salt to taste
Instructions
  1. In a medium bowl, combine the onion, tomato, and cilantro. Add 1 teaspoon of lime juice and a generous sprinkling of salt. Stir to combine and allow to rest for at least 20 minutes to allow the flavors to combine and the tomato to release its juice. Stir, taste for seasoning, and add more lime or salt as needed.
  2. Serve with tortilla chips. Enjoy!
Notes
  1. Pico de Gallo means "rooster's beak" in Spanish. It is thought that the name originated from the appearance of the red tomato pieces in the dish. It seems like the perfect name to me!
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Permanent link to this article: http://1840farm.com/2016/08/garden-fresh-heirloom-tomato-pico-de-gallo/

Boston Cream Pie

BostonCreamPie at 1840 FarmBoston Cream Pie has always been one of my favorite desserts.  It’s difficult to beat the combination of a light sponge cake layered with vanilla pastry cream and topped with chocolate ganache.  It wins on flavor and appearance in my book.

Sure, it isn’t really a pie in spite of its name.  As a pie lover, I could choose to hold that against this dessert.  Or, I could choose to love it more because it was made in a pie plate instead of a cake pan.  I’ll go with the second option because it doesn’t prevent me from loving Boston Cream Pie for any reason at all.

If you’re not familiar with the story behind Boston Cream Pie, here it is.  Once upon a time (around 1856), a chef by the name of Sanzian at Boston’s Parker House Hotel made a sponge cake layered with rum infused pastry cream, garnished with toasted almonds, and topped with chocolate fondant.  As was common practice at the time, he baked the cake in pie tins which were often used for cake baking.  The cake was called “Chocolate Cream Pie” and the name stuck.BostonCreamDrip

Years later, it came to be called Boston Cream Pie in a nod to its birthplace.  The Parker House became the Omni Parker House and the rest is culinary history of the most delicious kind.  In 1996, this dessert with a history became the official state dessert of Massachusetts.

No matter the reason this dessert was originally baked in pie tins, it is more common to find it baked in a cake pan these days.  Doing so creates a more symmetrical cake that can be sliced horizontally into layers for the finished dessert.  I like a challenge, so I prefer to use pie plates which create the rustic appearance of the homemade dessert that I love. 

In addition to using pie plates, I like to create three layers of cake rather than the customary two layers.  I find that the ratio of cake to pastry cream and ganache is just right when I create three thin layers of cake.  There’s also something decadent about a triple layer cake.

Once we moved to New England, it seemed fitting to master my own homemade version of Boston Cream Pie.  We even took a trip in to Boston to have a slice at the Omni Parker House just to experience it at the very place it was first created. 

Once we became chicken keepers and had a steady supply of the fresh eggs that give this cake and pastry cream such a rich flavor, my recipe really took shape. I have been making it the same way ever since.

You can call this dessert a pie or a cake, either is fine by me.  I’ll call it homemade and delicious and enjoy every last bite!

Boston Cream Pie
This recipe makes use of several foundation recipes and techniques. You’ll make a sponge cake with a meringue that is folded into the batter to deliver the most amazing texture. Then you’ll move on to make a beautiful pastry cream followed by the chocolate ganache. These three components can be used time and time again making a wide range of delicious dishes to share with your friends and family.
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For the Vanilla Sponge Cake
  1. 1 cup (8 ounces) whole milk
  2. ½ vanilla bean pod
  3. 3 large eggs
  4. ½ cup (96 grams) granulated sugar
  5. 200 grams (1 ¾ minus 1 Tablespoon) All-purpose flour
  6. 4 heaping Tablespoons cornstarch (36 grams)
  7. 1 cup (192 grams) granulated sugar
  8. 1 teaspoon salt
  9. 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  10. 3 ounces oil (I prefer a sunflower oil blend, but any neutral tasting oil will do)
  11. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  12. butter or coconut oil and sugar to prepare pie pans
For the Pastry Cream
  1. 12 ounces whole milk
  2. ½ vanilla bean pod
  3. 2 eggs
  4. pinch of salt
  5. ¼ cup (30 grams) All-purpose flour
  6. 6 Tablespoons (72 grams) granulated sugar
  7. 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
For the Chocolate Ganache
  1. 4 ounces heavy cream
  2. 4 ounces bittersweet or dark chocolate
For the Vanilla Sponge Cake
  1. Preheat the oven to 350° Fahrenheit. Position the oven racks in the top and bottom third of the oven. Prepare three pie pans by coating with butter or coconut oil and granulated sugar. Set aside as you prepare the cake batter.
  2. Place the cup of whole milk a medium saucepan. Split the vanilla bean pod lengthwise using a sharp knife. Using the dull edge of the knife, scrape along the length of the inside of the pod to remove the thousands of beans inside. Transfer the beans and pod to the pot with the milk and place over low heat. The heat will help to infuse the flavor and aroma of the vanilla bean into the milk.
  3. Prepare a large mixing bowl and the beaters for your mixer by wiping with a paper towel lightly moistened with white vinegar. This will remove any trace of fat, allowing you to create a fluffy, beautiful meringue from the egg whites.
  4. Separate the three eggs, placing the whites in the prepared mixing bowl. Beat the egg whites on high speed until they become frothy. Continue beating while adding the ½ cup of granulated sugar one Tablespoon at a time. Beat until all of the sugar has been incorporated and the meringue has come to stiff peaks. You can test the meringue by removing the beater and holding it upright. If the peak of the meringue holds, it has come to stiff peaks and is ready to use.
  5. Remove the milk and vanilla bean from the heat to cool slightly. Remove the vanilla bean pod from the milk.Transfer the whipped egg white meringue to a small bowl and return the mixing bowl and beater to your mixer.
  6. Add the flour, cornstarch, 1 cup sugar, salt, and baking powder to the mixing bowl. Add the oil and half of the warm milk to the bowl. Mix slowly to combine. Add the egg yolks and vanilla extract, mixing again on slow speed just to combine. Add the remaining milk to the bowl and beat slowly for approximately one minute until the batter is smooth and well combined.
  7. Remove the bowl from the mixer. Using a spatula, gently fold the reserved egg white meringue into the cake batter. Continue folding until the mixture is smooth and even.
  8. Transfer the batter to the prepared pie pans, dividing equally among them. Transfer the pie pans to the preheated oven. Bake for 25-35 minutes, rotating halfway through the baking time. The cakes are done when the tops are lightly browned and a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean or with small crumbs attached.
  9. Remove the cakes from the oven to a wire rack to cool. When the pans are cool enough to handle, use an offset spatula to loosen the cakes from the pans. Turn each cake out on to the wire racks to cool completely.
For the Pastry Cream
  1. Place the whole milk in a medium saucepan. Split the vanilla bean pod lengthwise using a sharp knife. Using the dull edge of the knife, scrape along the length of the inside of the pod to remove the thousands of beans inside. Transfer the beans and pod to the pot with the milk and place over low heat.
  2. As the milk is warming, combine the eggs and dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Whisk to combine. The resulting batter should be thick and smooth.
  3. Move the pan of milk from the burner. Remove the vanilla bean pod from the milk. Slowly add the egg mixture, whisking to incorporate the thick batter into the warm milk.
  4. Return the pan to medium low heat and bring to a simmer, whisking continuously until the mixture is thick enough to coat a spoon. Remove from the heat.
  5. Transfer the pastry cream from the pan (straining if necessary to remove lumps) to a bowl. Add the vanilla extract and whisk to combine. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, pressing it firmly against the mixture to prevent a skin from forming as it cools. Refrigerate until the cake is ready to be assembled.
For the Chocolate Ganache
  1. Prepare the ganache by warming the heavy cream in a small pan or in the microwave in a microwave safe bowl for 30 seconds. Remove from the heat source and add the chocolate. Allow the mixture to rest for two minutes before whisking to incorporate. When the cream and chocolate have become a satiny glaze, set the ganache aside to cool.
To Assemble the Boston Cream Pie
  1. Remove the pastry cream from the refrigerator. Whisk the mixture to ensure that it is completely smooth. Whisk the chocolate ganache.
  2. Place one of the cake layers on a large plate or platter. Transfer half of the pastry cream to the top of the cake. Using a spatula, spread the pastry cream to evenly cover the cake, leaving a narrow margin around the edge of the cake. Repeat this process with the second layer of cake and remaining pastry cream.
  3. Place the third cake layer on top. Transfer all of the chocolate ganache to the top of the cake. If the ganache is warm enough, it can be poured, if not, simply use a spatula to spread the ganache to fully cover the top of the cake. I like to completely cover the cake and allow a small bit of the ganache to drip over the edge. There’s just something inviting about seeing this cake with chocolate reaching down to the cake plate below.
  4. Transfer the fully assembled Boston Cream Pie to the refrigerator. The cake can be kept in the refrigerator for several days, although they never last that long here!
Notes
  1. This cake benefits from the use of cake flour. Due to food allergies, I struggled to find a brand of cake flour that was safe to use in our kitchen. Fortunately, I discovered that I could combine All-purpose flour and cornstarch to deliver the benefits of cake flour without adding allergens to our kitchen and one more specialty ingredient to our pantry. For each cup of cake flour called for in a recipe, simply weigh out one cup of All-purpose flour, remove 2 Tablespoons of the flour and add 2 Tablespoons of cornstarch. Problem solved!
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Permanent link to this article: http://1840farm.com/2016/06/boston-cream-pie/

My Favorite Baking How To Posts

Favorite Baking How To Posts Collage

This morning, I published a new issue of our 1840 Farm Community Newsletter filled with links to my favorite baking how to posts.  I hope that each of them will help you to enjoy baking in your kitchen and turning out delicious breads and dessert for your friends and family.  Here they are, all gathered together in one place so that you can access each and every one of them!

If you enjoy reading our posts, why not subscribe to our FREE newsletter?  It’s the best way to ensure that you don’t miss a single recipe, new handmade product, or special offer for our Etsy Shop.  We’ll never share your email and send our best posts  directly to your inbox.  Take a look through our past issues to see what you’ve been missing.

MakeYourOwnCakeFlourSubstituteBranded  TheBestWaytoStoreFreshBreadBranded

HowtoMakeYourOwnBakingPowderBranded  FarmhouseKitchenScienceBakingPowdervsBakingSodaBranded

PieCrustTipsBranded

 

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Make Your Own: Cake Flour Substitute

MakeYourOwnCakeFlourSubstituteBrandedThere I was, reading a recipe for what sounded like a delicious cake.  I was inspired to head into the farmhouse kitchen to make one for my family.  I scanned through the list of ingredients, mentally placing a check mark on each line, happy to see that I had each ingredient on hand.  Then I came to cake flour and everything came to a screeching halt. 

Cake flour is all but impossible for me to purchase at the grocery store.  Each box seems to carry an allergy warning that prevents me from being able to invite the ingredient into our kitchen. We are completely peanut and tree nut free, so buying a box of cake flour that might contain both simply wasn’t an option.

I knew that cake flour was designed specifically for cake baking. In fact, each type of flour is designed to deliver differing levels of protein, gluten, and density to recipes.  Bread flour often promises a protein content in excess of 12%.  All-purpose flour typically has a protein content in the range of 11% while cake flour comes in at between 6-8%,  A lower protein content helps to create a cake that is tender, airy, and light. 

After a bit of reading, I found that I could indeed make my own cake flour substitute using two ingredients that I always have on hand in the pantry:  All-purpose flour and cornstarch.  By combining the two, I can create a flour that has a reduced protein content with less gluten, a silky texture, and the density that  cake flour is known for.  I could also sidestep peanuts and tree nuts, keeping our kitchen safe for the whole family.

This substitution is simple and I have used it with great success to bake light and delicious cakes.  I hope that you’ll find that it works just as well for you in your favorite recipes calling for cake flour.

Homemade Cake Flour Substitute
Our food allergies prevent me from purchasing cake flour at the grocery store, but they don't keep me from making recipes that call for cake flour. This homemade cake flour substitute works well, I can control the allergens, and I can use ingredients that I already have on hand. Now you can too!
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Ingredients
  1. 1 cup All-purpose flour
  2. 2 Tablespoons cornstarch
Instructions
  1. For each cup of cake flour called for in a recipe, you can easily create your own substitute. This substitute can be used in any recipe that calls for cake flour. There's no need to adjust the amount of flour used.
  2. Measure 1 cup of All-purpose flour into a small bowl. Remove 2 Tablespoons of the flour. Add 2 Tablespoons of cornstarch to the bowl and whisk lightly to combine.
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Memorial Day Favorites from 1840 Farm

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Memorial Day is the official kickoff to Summer and we feel like celebrating!  We’ll be enjoying a few of our favorite warm weather recipes with family and friends this weekend.  The temperatures are predicted to hit 90 degrees tomorrow, so we’ll be ready for a cold refreshing Franklin Cooler made with our homemade Raspberry and Rhubarb Syrup by midday!

Monday morning will start off with a Strawberry Puff Pancake using the bounty of fresh eggs our hens are providing.  For dinner, we’ll be grilling burgers and local sausages and topping them with Spicy Ginger & Garlic Quick Pickles and Classic Sauerkraut.  A Grilled Romaine Salad will be perfect as a side or as a main course for our friends that live a vegetarian lifestyle.  Add in a square of Chocolate Chip Gooey Butter Cake and everyone will leave our farmhouse table full and happy. PatrioticHolidayGraphic

Each year, we choose to commemorate Memorial Day by making a donation from our 1840 Farm Community to a veteran’s charity for every handmade basket sold in our Etsy Shop. It’s our small way of showing our deep appreciation for the sacrifices made by those who serve in our military and the families that support them.

This year, I want to give you the opportunity to help select the charity that will receive that donation. If you have a favorite charity that focuses on those who serve our nation, please visit our Facebook page and join in our discussion. Together, we’ll choose the charity that receives our donation. Then we’ll repeat the nomination process for Independence Day, Labor Day, and Veteran’s Day.

For all of you who have served in the military or are on active duty, please accept my heartfelt thanks for your service to our country.  To the families and friends who support those who serve, thank you for the sacrifices you make to support the bravest Americans among us.  As the flag flaps on our farmer’s porch, I am forever reminded that we owe a debt of gratitude to all who serve that can never be repaid.

I hope that you have a holiday weekend spent with friends and family filled to the brim with laughter, delicious food and drink, and memories in the making.

 

Warmly,

 

You can access any of the recipes by clicking on the photos below.

 

Permanent link to this article: http://1840farm.com/2016/05/memorialdayfavorites/

The Franklin Cooler

FranklinCoolerBranded The temperatures are warming up and gardening season is giving us reason to spend hours outside in the hot sun.  When the work is done for the day, I’m ready for a cold, tall, glass of refreshment.  If that cold drink can include two components harvested from our garden, then the moment seems like a celebration of growing our own food and enjoying every season.

RaspberryRhubarbLemonadeMasonJarWMThis beautifully colored and deliciously flavored drink came together by accident.  We had raspberries and rhubarb in the freezer from last year’s garden.  In no time, they had been transformed into a batch of our homemade Raspberry Rhubarb Syrup.  There was lemonade in the refrigerator, and good bourbon was just begging to be added to the party.  The accidental combination was full of color, flavor, bright acidity, and the earthy goodness of a splash (or two) of bourbon.

While drinking a round of these icy libations, it was time to give this concoction a name.  It didn’t take long to decide that Benjamin Franklin should get a nod as a thanks for his role in bringing rhubarb to the colonies that would become our country.

It is thought that he sent rhubarb seeds from Scotland to famed Philadelphia botanist John Bartrum some time around 1770.  While some believe that these were rhubarb seeds of the medicinal variety rather than the culinary, we all know that Franklin loved to eat interesting and delicious fresh foods as much as he loved to drink.  So, the name seemed fitting to me and The Franklin Cooler was born.

This beverage can be adjusted to suit your preference, adding more syrup or lemonade if desired.  While I like mine with a splash of bourbon, they are equally delicious made without as a non alcoholic lemonade.

I’ll be raising a glass or two of these this holiday weekend and hope that you’ll join me in celebrating the beginning of the gardening season and the simple joy of taking time to enjoy the flavor of the seasons.  Cheers to the happy accident of a great beverage and to a happy and safe holiday weekend for all!

The Franklin Cooler
Here at the farmhouse, we make two versions of this drink. One includes bourbon, the other does not. They’re both delicious and always a hit with guests looking to celebrate with a cocktail or those who prefer a glass of refreshing lemonade without any alcohol.
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For the Syrup
  1. 10 ounces raspberries, fresh or frozen
  2. 6 ounces sliced rhubarb stalks, fresh or frozen
  3. 1 cup water
  4. 1 cup granulated sugar
  5. 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
For the Franklin Cooler
  1. 1 Tablespoon Raspberry Rhubarb Syrup
  2. 1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  3. 1 – 2 ounces of bourbon depending on your preference
  4. 6 ounces lemonade
  5. ice
For the Syrup
  1. Place all of the ingredients in a medium saucepot placed over medium heat. Stir gently to combine the ingredients. Bring the mixture to a simmer, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.
  2. Once the mixture comes to a simmer, reduce the heat to low and simmer gently for five minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature.
  3. Strain the mixture through a fine sieve or a colander lined with cheesecloth to remove the fruit and seeds. Press the fruit to release all of the liquid.
  4. Transfer the strained syrup to a container with a tight fitting lid. I like to store my homemade syrups in glass bottles with a pour spout for easy dispensing. Refrigerate until ready to use.
For the Franklin Cooler
  1. Place the syrup, lemon juice, bourbon (if using), lemonade, and ice in a tall glass. Stir until well combined. Enjoy!
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Permanent link to this article: http://1840farm.com/2016/05/the-franklin-cooler/

Raspberry Rhubarb Syrup

RaspberryRhubarbSyrupBrandedHere in New England, we’re still counting the days until it is safe to plant our tender perennials in the gardens.  Heirloom tomatoes, eggplant, cucumbers, and the like are all being held in the farmhouse under lights until our overnight temperatures are warm enough to not cause damage to those tender plants.

We’re almost there, but I am growing increasingly impatient.  I find it so difficult this time of year to wait for planting time even though the calendar begs me to.  I just want to have my hands in the dirt, planting the seeds that will become homegrown food for our family table this growing season. 

Rhubarb at 1840 FarmWhile I count the days until I can plant my beloved heirloom tomatoes, I can thank the rhubarb patch for giving me something to celebrate.  Each spring, the rhubarb patch comes to life long before the rest of the garden.  Those beautiful stalks seem to reach higher and higher each day, supporting their enormous green leaves.

We allow our rhubarb to go to seed each year, encouraging the patch to add new plants naturally and increasing our harvest each year.  As the rhubarb harvest increases, the volume of rhubarb that we put up in the freezer each year grows exponentially.  As the pounds of rhubarb pile up in the deep freeze, I start to dream up new uses for our homegrown rhubarb in the farmhouse kitchen.

I make upside down cake, pies, and rhubarb and strawberry crumble each year.  This year, I added a delicious new rhubarb recipe that has quickly become a family favorite.  Raspberry Rhubarb Syrup has been finding its way into icy glasses of lemonade, homemade cocktails, and on top of ice cream sundaes and slices of my Great Grandma’s Daffodil Cake.  It even inspired my husband and I to craft a cocktail that we lovingly named the Franklin Cooler in honor of Benjamin Franklin who is thought to have introduced rhubarb to the colonies around 1770.

This recipe is so simple and the results are delicious.  The color is so beautiful and each drop is bursting with fresh flavor.  It’s the perfect way to use up any bits of last year’s harvest from the freezer as we prepare to make room for this year’s.  The proportions of fruit can be adjusted to match what you have on hand and other berries can be added or substituted with equally delicious results.

A drizzle of this syrup will bring the taste of summer to your next meal or family gathering.  I hope that you’ll enjoy this taste of summer as much as we do!

 

Raspberry Rhubarb Syrup
This syrup is delicious added to tall glasses of lemonade, iced tea, or your favorite summery cocktail. You'll also love it drizzled over vanilla ice cream, pound cake, or your favorite sponge cake recipe.
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Ingredients
  1. 10 ounces raspberries, fresh or frozen
  2. 6 ounces sliced rhubarb stalks, fresh or frozen
  3. 1 cup water
  4. 1 cup granulated sugar
  5. 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
Instructions
  1. Place all of the ingredients in a medium saucepan placed over medium heat. Stir gently to combine the ingredients. Bring the mixture to a simmer, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.
  2. Once the mixture comes to a simmer, reduce the heat to low and simmer gently for five minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature.
  3. Strain the mixture through a fine sieve or a colander lined with cheesecloth to remove the fruit and seeds. Press the fruit to release all of the liquid.
  4. Transfer the strained syrup to a container with a tight fitting lid. I like to store my homemade syrups in glass bottles with a pour spout for easy dispensing. Refrigerate until ready to use.
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Permanent link to this article: http://1840farm.com/2016/05/raspberry-rhubarb-syrup/

1840 Farmhouse Kitchen Breakfast and Brunch Favorites

 

OvenPoachedEggWMJust in time for Mother’s Day, I have gathered together a collection of our favorite recipes to make for breakfast and brunch.  These recipes have been made time and time again in our Farmhouse Kitchen here at 1840 Farm. Now you can make them for your friends and family.  They’re sure to love them as much as mine do!

 

Click on any of the photos to view the recipe for each dish.

 

 

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Oven Poached Eggs with Hollandaise Style Sauce

Oven Poached Eggs CollageI love a perfectly poached egg.  The texture is unlike any other egg preparation, firm enough to hold together yet delicate and smooth as velvet.  The perfectly poached yolk is thick and fluid, imparting an earthy richness to anything it is served with.

Oven Poached Eggs at 1840 FarmI first came to know poached eggs watching Julia Child on PBS as a teenager.  She waxed poetic about the luscious taste of a poached egg.  I remember her talking specifically about fresh eggs versus store bought eggs.  She belabored the point that eggs from the grocery store were in her words “unpoachable” due to their age.  She then went on to demonstrate several methods for poaching an egg, turning out lovely oval shaped specimens that were cooked to perfection.

At that point in my life, I didn’t have access to eggs fresh from the coop, so I was determined to make do with the eggs we had in the refrigerator.  I tried and tried, learning firsthand that Julia (of course) was right.  Those store bought eggs simply didn’t have the ability to stay tightly together when plunged into the hot water.  The results were a shaggy and disappointing mess.

Years later, but long before I became a chicken keeper, we purchased fresh eggs at our local farmer’s market.  I did poach those eggs using Julia’s instructions to guide me.  They were delicious.  Unfortunately, the process was time consuming and my kitchen looked like a war zone once we were finished.  There was the poaching pot, the double boiler used to make the Hollandaise, and all the implements used to make one meal for two people. 

I was thrilled with the results, but left wishing that there was an easier way to poach eggs.  I tried several methods with differing results, but was left with the conclusion that I was happy enough with a perfectly fried egg to just serve those when I wanted that lovely runny egg yolk and softly cooked white.

Now that we are chicken keepers, I find myself always on the lookout for a new way to prepare the eggs we collect fresh from the coop.  The time had come for me to revisit the poached egg and find a simple, foolproof method for creating them for the whole family.Oven Poached Egg at 1840 Farm

I had read about oven poaching eggs but was skeptical about the process.  It seemed too easy, too simple.  Yet, I couldn’t wait to give it a try.  I loved the thought of being able to poach dozens of eggs at once.  If I could perfect the timing, poached eggs would be making a regular appearance at our farmhouse table.

It took a few attempts for me to pin down the timing of oven poached eggs.  Once I did, I couldn’t believe how simple they were to make.  Not only were the eggs beautiful and delicious, but the process was so easy and forgiving.

It’s egg season here right now.  Our heritage breed hens are producing an abundance of delicious fresh eggs.  With a steady supply of fresh eggs and the garden harvest so far away, these poached eggs are a simple and comforting homegrown meal that my family requests time and time again. They’re a regular feature on our breakfast, lunch, and dinner plates and always a welcome sight.

This method certainly isn’t Julia’s way of poaching eggs, but I don’t think that she’d mind me finding an easy way to serve perfectly poached eggs to my family.  In fact, I think that she’d approve wholeheartedly. 

Oven Poached Eggs with Hollandaise Style Sauce
I find that room temperature eggs work best in this preparation. I reach for the eggs in our egg basket on the kitchen counter when making them. Choosing eggs that are similar in size will result in evenly cooked eggs and make the process of timing much easier. I choose eggs that would be considered large in size (approximately 60 grams in weight). Eggs of smaller or larger sizes can certainly be poached by adjusting the baking time slightly.
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For the Poached Eggs
  1. Large Eggs, room temperature
  2. Standard Sized Muffin Pan
  3. water
For the Hollandaise Style Sauce (Makes enough for four eggs)
  1. 2 Tablespoons mayonnaise
  2. 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  3. hot sauce to taste
  4. 1 Tablespoon warm water
  5. salt and pepper or chives to garnish
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Position an oven rack in the middle of the oven. Gather a standard sized muffin pan and the number of eggs you would like to poach.
  2. Add one Tablespoon of water to each compartment of the muffin tin that will be used for poaching. Crack a large egg into each of the water filled compartments. Transfer the pan to the preheated oven.
  3. Bake the eggs for 14 – 16 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through that time. The whites should be softly set and the surface of the egg should remain glossy. Remove the pan from the oven.
  4. Using a slotted spoon, remove each poached egg from the pan. Serve with a sprinkling of salt and pepper, chives, or your favorite egg topping. I like to serve them with an easy hollandaise style sauce made by stirring together mayonnaise, lemon juice, and a few dashes of hot sauce. I add the warm water to loosen the sauce and spoon it over the poached eggs before garnishing with a bit of salt and pepper or chopped chives.
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