Tag Archive: cooking

Valentine’s Day Favorites at 1840 Farm

Valentine’s Day usually comes and goes in a flash.  This year, it falls on the Friday before a three-day weekend here at 1840 Farm.  That seems like the perfect excuse to dust off all of our favorite Valentine’s Day recipes and enjoy each and every one of them before the weekend is through.

 Loading InLinkz ...

To make sure that you don’t miss any of our original content or favorite recipes, DIY projects, and homesteading advice from around the web, subscribe to The 1840 Farm Community Newsletter. Visit our subscription form to become the newest member of The 1840 Farm Community.

Our newsletter isn’t the only way to follow what’s happening here at 1840 Farm.
You’re always welcome at 1840 Farm
and at The 1840 Farm Mercantile Shop on Etsy.
You can also find 1840 Farm throughout the social media universe on
Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Flickr, and Bloglovin‘.

We even created a new 1840 Farm Community Newsletter Pinterest board to catalog
our newsletter content so that you could easily pin your favorites to your own boards.

Come add your voice to our conversation!
We’ll hope to see you there!


Permanent link to this article: http://1840farm.com/2014/02/valentines-day-favorites-at-1840-farm/

Cast Iron Skillet Cinnamon Rolls with Bourbon Caramel Sauce

A few months ago, I was given the opportunity to review the new cookbook, Put An Egg On It by Lara Ferroni.  It was filled with fantastic recipes featuring one of my favorite foods:  eggs.  I loved it so much that I was thrilled to be presented with the chance to review a second cookbook from the Sasquatch Books catalog.  I was even more excited when I learned that it was a cookbook that focused on the use of one of my favorite tools in the kitchen:  a cast iron pan.

The Cast Iron Skillet Cookbook by Sharon Kramis and Julie Kramis Hearne contains over 90 recipes that all utilize a cast iron skillet.  These recipes represent the full range of dishes from breakfast fare to hearty dishes to serve at your family’s dinner table.  This beautiful book also includes helpful information to guide readers through the process of selecting a cast iron skillet, seasoning its surface, and caring for it properly.

The recipe featured on the cover caught my attention right away.  The pecan sticky buns looked amazing in the pan and on the plate.  I couldn’t wait to open the cover and read the recipe.  After I had read that recipe, I continued on through the entrees, vegetables and sides, and delectable looking desserts.

All of the recipes looked delicious, but I was drawn to the idea of making my family’s favorite cinnamon rolls in our own cast iron skillet before diving in and trying a new recipe.  I wondered if using my favorite pan would make any difference in the cinnamon rolls I was planning to serve for dinner.

After the first bite, my family proclaimed that these were the most delicious cinnamon rolls that I had ever made.  As dinner went on, so did their happy comments.  By the time the last bite had been enjoyed, they were all inquiring about when I would be making these Cast Iron Skillet Cinnamon Rolls with Bourbon Caramel Sauce again.

I promised that I would make this recipe again soon.  I want to share the recipe with you first so that you can make them yourself.  These cinnamon rolls are delicious and sure to delight your friends and family.

The giveaway that accompanies the recipe is also sure to make one lucky reader’s day!  When Sasquatch Books offered to send a copy of The Cast Iron Skillet Cookbook to one of our readers, I decided to invite a few of my favorite products to join in the fun.  I can’t wait to share them with you.

The Mind to Homestead added a handmade crocheted cast iron skillet handle cozy made from a pattern that they offer in their Etsy shopCoffee on the Porch contributed a generous three pounds of their delicious, small batch roasted coffeeGrandparentsPlus2 contributed a handmade, quilted mug rug perfect for resting your coffee cup on.   The winner will also receive an 1840 Farm fabric coiled 8 inch trivet from The 1840 Farm Mercantile Shop on Etsy that we made to coordinate with the skillet handle cozy.

I hope that you’ll enjoy making these cinnamon rolls and that you’ll take a moment to enter to win our fabulous prize package.  The giveaway is open to residents of the United States.  Entries will be accepted until midnight on Tuesday, January 28th.  One winner will be randomly selected using Random.org and notified via Email.  Good luck to all who enter!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Cast Iron Skillet Cinnamon Rolls with Bourbon Caramel Sauce
serves 4-6

I like to use our WonderMill to mill our own organic, non-GMO flour for this recipe, but there’s no need to pass up making these rolls if you don’t have the ability to mill your own flour. You can substitute high quality whole wheat flour or All-purpose flour. 

I find that adding Grandma Eloise’s Dough Enhancer helps to create lighter dough and improve the overall texture of the rolls.  If you don’t have it on hand, you can simply omit it from the recipe.  The resulting recipe will still be absolutely delicious. You can learn more about the dough enhancer in my recipe for our Farmhouse Country Loaf.

Dough
¼ cup (2 ounces) warm water
1 Tablespoon (20 grams) molasses
1 package (2 ½ teaspoons) active dry yeast
¼ cup (2 ounces) warm milk
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups (240 grams) All-purpose flour
1 cup (120 grams) whole wheat flour
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons Grandma Eloise’s Dough Enhancer
4 Tablespoons (2 ounces) butter, cut into small cubes

Bourbon Caramel Sauce
½ cup (96 grams) brown sugar
4 Tablespoons (2 ounces) butter
1 Tablespoon honey
1 Tablespoon maple syrup
1 Tablespoon bourbon

Filling
4 Tablespoons (2 ounces) butter, softened
¼ cup (48 grams) granulated sugar
¼ cup (48 grams) brown sugar
2 Tablespoons ground cinnamon

If you are using a dough proofer, preheat the proofer following the manufacturer’s instructions as you prepare the dough.  If you don’t have a proofer, you can provide the dough with a warm, draft free location to rise.  Additional time may be necessary for the dough to rise sufficiently, but the cinnamon rolls will taste equally delicious.

In a large bowl, combine the warm water and molasses, stirring to dissolve the molasses.  Sprinkle the yeast over the mixture and set aside to bloom as you measure the dry ingredients, approximately five minutes.

Measure and combine the flour, dough enhancer, and salt in a bowl.  Use a whisk to mix the dry ingredients and evenly distribute the salt throughout the flour.

When the five minutes have elapsed, whisk the liquid ingredients and then add the warm milk, eggs, and vanilla.  Whisk until the eggs are incorporated and the mixture is smooth.

Add the dry ingredients in one addition to the yeast mixture.  Use a dough hook on a stand mixer or a wooden spoon, mix until a shaggy dough forms.  If you are using a stand mixer, continue to mix the dough on the lowest setting for 5 minutes or until a smooth, elastic dough forms before beginning to add the butter slowly.  Add the butter a piece at a time, allowing the mixer to work the dough between each addition.  Continue to mix until all of the butter is incorporated into the dough.

Transfer the dough to a large bowl that has been brushed with butter or oil.  Place the dough in the warm proofer or a draft free spot to rest and rise for approximately 60 minutes.  Remove the dough from the bowl and knead lightly before returning the dough to the bowl to rise for another 60 minutes or until doubled in size.

As the dough is rising for a second time, prepare the bourbon caramel sauce.  Add the brown sugar, butter, honey, maple syrup, and bourbon to an 8 inch or 10 inch cast iron skillet.  Place the skillet over medium high heat.  Bring the mixture to a boil without stirring.  Reduce the heat to medium and continue to simmer until the mixture thickens slightly, approximately five minutes.  Remove the skillet from the heat and allow the caramel to cool to room temperature.

In a small bowl, combine the sugar, brown sugar, and cinnamon for the filling.  Ideally, the butter should be soft enough to spread across the dough easily without stretching the dough.  If it needs a bit of encouragement, a fork can be used to mash it onto a plate before rolling out the dough.

When the dough has risen sufficiently, transfer it to a floured surface.  Lightly flour the surface of the dough before using a rolling pin to roll it into a rectangle approximately 18 by 12 inches in size.

Using a pastry brush or your hands, brush away any excess flour from the surface of the dough.  Spread the softened butter evenly over the dough before sprinkling the cinnamon sugar mixture on top of the butter.  Begin rolling the dough from one long side of the rectangle to the other, forming a tight tube and brushing away excess flour as you roll.

Using a sharp knife, cut the rolled dough into rolls approximately 1 ½ inches in width.  Gently transfer the individual rolls to the cast iron skillet, placing each one cut side down on top of the bourbon caramel sauce.  Continue until all of the rolls are evenly spaced within the skillet.

Place the skillet in preheated bread proofer or a warm, draft free location to rise for another 30-60 minutes or until the rolls have expanded to fill the pan.  As the rolls rise, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Transfer the skillet to the preheated oven.  Bake the rolls for 20-30 minutes, until lightly browned and slightly firm.  Remove the skillet from the oven and allow to cool for at least five minutes.  Using oven mitts and a healthy dose of caution, carefully cover the skillet with a larger plate or pan and turn the skillet to release the cinnamon rolls.

Remove the cast iron skillet, scraping any caramel from the pan.  The bourbon caramel sauce will now be on the top surface of the rolls.  Serve the rolls while still warm and enjoy every last bite!


This post was featured in The 1840 Farm Community Newsletter. To make sure that you don’t miss any of our original content or favorite recipes, DIY projects, and homesteading advice from around the web, subscribe to The 1840 Farm Community Newsletter. Visit our subscription form to become the newest member of The 1840 Farm Community.

Our newsletter isn’t the only way to follow what’s happening here at 1840 Farm.
You’re always welcome at 1840 Farm
and at The 1840 Farm Mercantile Shop on Etsy.
You can also find 1840 Farm throughout the social media universe on
Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Flickr, and Bloglovin‘.

We even created a new 1840 Farm Community Newsletter Pinterest board to catalog
our newsletter content so that you could easily pin your favorites to your own boards.

Come add your voice to our conversation!
We’ll hope to see you there!


 

Permanent link to this article: http://1840farm.com/2014/01/cast-iron-skillet-cinnamon-rolls-with-bourbon-caramel-sauce/

Our Favorite Holiday Cookie Recipes

Every year, cookies grace our family table on Christmas Eve.  The tradition started out simply enough.  My children would ask to help me make the cookies that would be left for Santa when they went to bed that evening.  Now that they are older and a little wiser, the fun of making the cookies has become an integral part of the holiday festivities.

We spend time in our farmhouse kitchen making my Grandmother’s Chocolate Crinkles, our Candy Cane Meringues, and the other delicious favorites that have come to be tied to our holiday celebration.  With each bite, we’re reminded of the memory of holidays past.  With each moment spent together in the kitchen, we’re making new memories that I hope will last a lifetime.

In case you are looking for a few good cookie recipes to add to your holiday baking collection, you’ll find links to the recipes for our favorites below.  It warms my heart to think that you might use one of our favorite recipes to make a memory with your friends and family this year.  Enjoy!


 


This post was featured in The 1840 Farm Community Newsletter. To make sure that you don’t miss any of our original content or favorite recipes, DIY projects, and homesteading advice from around the web, subscribe to The 1840 Farm Community Newsletter. Visit our subscription form to become the newest member of The 1840 Farm Community.

Our newsletter isn’t the only way to follow what’s happening here at 1840 Farm.
You’re always welcome at 1840 Farm
and at The 1840 Farm Mercantile Shop on Etsy.
You can also find 1840 Farm throughout the social media universe on
Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Flickr, and Bloglovin‘.

We even created a new 1840 Farm Community Newsletter Pinterest board to catalog
our newsletter content so that you could easily pin your favorites to your own boards.

Come add your voice to our conversation!
We’ll hope to see you there!


This post was shared on the:

From The Farm Blog Hop

Permanent link to this article: http://1840farm.com/2013/12/our-favorite-holiday-cookie-recipes/

Caramelized Onion and Red Wine Jam

When life hands you lemons you can choose to make lemonade.  But what do you do when life cruelly hands you a corked bottle of wine?  Well, I mean what do you do after lamenting the fact that the nectar of the gods has been replaced by a liquid with the aroma of a musty, flooded basement?

I used to simply bemoan my bad fortune and pour the offending liquid down the drain.  Moments later, the empty bottle would clink to the bottom of the kitchen recycling bin and I would sigh, knowing that this imperfection is the chance you take when drinking a bottle of wine.  It simply goes with the territory.

Wine becomes corked after coming into contact with a cork that is contaminated.  An infected cork can contain millions of microorganisms called trichloroanisole (TCA) lying in wait to feast on a perfectly processed bottle of wine.    Because cork is a natural product, there is no way to completely guarantee that one will not carry this offensive contaminant into a bottle of wine.  For this reason, many wineries have moved to screw tops and synthetic corks.

After I had learned the how and why a bottle becomes corked, I learned that corked wine could be used for cooking.  No, I wouldn’t use it to flavor a light sauce as I feared that the corked aroma and taste would surely impart its funk to whatever it touched.  Instead, corked wine was suited to cooking over a longer period of time.  As it cooked, its offensiveness would evaporate away leaving the rich flavor that the wine was meant to bring to my glass when it was opened.

It was hard for me to believe that I could turn a musty, overpowering liquid into something edible, but my curiosity was piqued.  I had nothing to lose.  The wine in its natural state was, ironically unnatural and unpotable.  It was time to get creative and get cooking.

My goal was to make a caramelized onion red wine jam that could grace our weekend cheese platter.  It seemed fitting that I would turn corked wine into a condiment for a cheese course that would accompany a glass of perfectly delicious and uncorked wine.   I began gathering ingredients and mentally forming the recipe.  In minutes, the onions were cooking down in a heavy bottomed saucepan and I was reaching into the cabinets for ingredients that would help round out the flavor.

 I was shocked at how delicious this savory jam was.  I removed several types of cheese from the refrigerator and we went to work testing the onion jam with each of them.  Raw milk cheddar and an aged Piave were good companions for the jam, but a beautifully crafted Bayley Hazen Blue cheese from Jasper Hill Farm in Vermont was its soul mate.

It’s been several years since my initial corked red wine experiment.  In that time, the wine gods have smiled on us and we have not been handed many corked bottles of wine.  When it does happen, I no longer cringe.  Instead, I get busy making caramelized onion jam with red wine and break out the Bayley Hazen Blue.

I have even taken to making a delectable Red, Wine, and Blue Grilled Cheese Sandwich out of this misfortune.  The melted blue cheese sings when paired with the caramelized onion red wine jam.  It’s as if they were meant to be together.

This savory jam and the resulting sandwich are as close as I can get to making lemonade from a bottle of red wine that could literally be labeled a lemon.  Maybe 1840 Farm needs a lemonade stand.  I am sure that it wouldn’t be long until there was a line forming for a Caramelized Onion and Red Wine Jam and warm Red, Wine, and Blue Grilled Cheese Sandwiches!

Caramelized Onion and Red Wine Jam
fills four half pint jars

While I typically use a bottle of less than perfect wine for this recipe, any red wine will do.  I have been known to freeze small portions of leftover red wine until I have enough to make a batch of this jam.  Frozen, corked, or leftover:  it just doesn’t seem to matter.  This jam comes out delicious every time.  The finished jam can be canned by processing in half pint jars with 1/2″ headspace for 10 minutes in a hot water bath.

1 pound yellow onions, sliced thinly
1/2 cup (96 grams) brown sugar
4 Tablespoons honey
18 ounces red wine
4 ounces balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons dried or 4 teaspoons fresh rosemary
2 teaspoons dried or 4 teaspoons fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper

Place a heavy bottomed pot over medium high heat.  Add sliced onions and cook, stirring occasionally for 10 minutes.  Add the brown sugar and stir to combine.  Reduce the heat to medium and continue to cook for 20 – 40 minutes, stirring often, until the onions are softened and caramelized.

Remove the pan from the heat, add the honey and stir to fully incorporate.  Add the remaining ingredients and return the pan to medium heat.  Bring the mixture to a boil.  Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook 20 – 30 minutes or until the liquid is thick and syrupy.

Taste for seasoning, break out the blue cheese! You can also use this jam to make my recipe for a Red, Wine, and Blue Grilled Cheese Sandwich.  It’s a showstopper!


To make sure that you don’t miss any of our original content or favorite recipes, DIY projects, and homesteading advice from around the web, subscribe to The 1840 Farm Community Newsletter. Visit our subscription form to become the newest member of The 1840 Farm Community.

Our newsletter isn’t the only way to follow what’s happening here at 1840 Farm.
You’re always welcome at 1840 Farm
and at The 1840 Farm Mercantile Shop on Etsy.
You can also find 1840 Farm throughout the social media universe on
Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Flickr, and Bloglovin‘.

We even created a new 1840 Farm Community Newsletter Pinterest board to catalog
our newsletter content so that you could easily pin your favorites to your own boards.

Come add your voice to our conversation!
We’ll hope to see you there!


Permanent link to this article: http://1840farm.com/2013/12/caramelized-onion-and-red-wine-jam/

Make Your Own Magical Ice Cream Topping

There’s something magic about pouring Magic Shell on top of a scoop of ice cream.  It comes out of the bottle as a shiny liquid, hits the cold surface of the ice cream and transforms into a matte, solid topping right before your eyes.    I loved it when I was a child and my children feel the same way.

A few weeks ago, I happened upon a recipe for a homemade version of magic shell.  It only required two ingredients, both of which I happened to have on hand.  The process was as simple as warming the ingredients and stirring them until they formed a congruous mixture.

I take great pride in finding new ways to replace store bought items with simple, delicious, homemade alternatives.  If the process can also be used as a homeschool science lesson, all the better.

In moments, I had assembled my children and the ingredients to make our own version of the crispy, magical ice cream shell topping.  A few minutes later, we gathered around  bowls of ice cream for the moment of truth.  I spooned a bit of the liquid topping over the first scoop.  We all waited, eager to see if magic would happen.  It did, producing a lovely, solid shell over the top of each scoop.  We used our spoons to crack open the shell and take the first taste.

The flavor of the topping was extraordinary.  The subtle flavor of coconut was paired beautifully with our homemade vanilla extract and the dark chocolate chips we had used.  We all agreed that this homemade version was delicious.  We couldn’t wait to try it with different chocolates, white chocolate, and other flavored baking chips we had in the pantry. The possibilities were endless and sure to put smiles on my children’s faces.  Now that’s magic!

Homemade Magic Shell Ice Cream Topping
adapted from Two-Ingredient Magic Shell by Food52

We used chocolate chips in this recipe, but you could use chopped chocolate with equally delicious results.  Both the coconut oil and chocolate are liquid when heated, solid at room temperature.  Should your mixture become too thick to spoon over ice cream, simply warm it for a few seconds in the microwave.

3/4 cup (120 grams) chocolate chips or chopped chocolate
1/3 cup (80 grams) coconut oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Place the chocolate and coconut oil in a microwave safe bowl.  Microwave in 30 second increments, stirring each time, until smooth.  Add the vanilla extract and stir to combine.  Allow the mixture to cool slightly before pouring over ice cream.  Store at room temperature, warming if necessary to re-liquefy.


To make sure that you don’t miss any of our original content or favorite recipes, DIY projects, and homesteading advice from around the web, subscribe to The 1840 Farm Community Newsletter. Visit our subscription form to become the newest member of The 1840 Farm Community.

Our newsletter isn’t the only way to follow what’s happening here at 1840 Farm.
You’re always welcome at 1840 Farm
and at The 1840 Farm Mercantile Shop on Etsy.
You can also find 1840 Farm throughout the social media universe on
Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Flickr, and Bloglovin‘.

We even created a new 1840 Farm Community Newsletter Pinterest board to catalog
our newsletter content so that you could easily pin your favorites to your own boards.

Come add your voice to our conversation!
We’ll hope to see you there!


Permanent link to this article: http://1840farm.com/2013/08/make-your-own-magical-ice-cream-topping/

Rhubarb Raspberry Upside Down Cake

Last night, when I announced to my family that I was in our farmhouse kitchen preparing a cake, they were thrilled.  When asked what type of cake I was making, I replied that I was using the rhubarb that we had harvested from the garden earlier in the day.

At that point, the house became divided.  My daughter and son both love rhubarb.  In fact, they happily twist stalks from the plant and eat them raw.  Only a true rhubarb lover would make it past that first bite.  They eat the entire stalk every time and survey the plants to determine if others are ready to be harvested.

My husband does not share their love of rhubarb.  In fact, I have never known him to enjoy rhubarb in any form.  Yet, I was willing to take a risk as I knew that he would happily enjoy a bowl of vanilla ice cream without the cake if the rhubarb flavor was a deal breaker.

Earlier in the week, I had asked several of my fellow bloggers to share their best rhubarb recipes.  Many of them suggested versions of upside down cake.  Monte from the blog Chewing the Fat shared his favorite.  The Devil’s Food Advocate chimed in with her version of the same recipe.  The original recipe for Rhubarb Upside Down Cake was published in The New York Times in May of 2011.

My favorite upside down cake is based on a David Lebovitz recipe.  I was confident that I could take inspiration from all three recipes and make a cake that would appeal to my whole family.  I added raspberries to round out the fruit flavor and the resulting mixture was even better than I had hoped.

When it came time to serve the cake for dessert, I was sure that my children would approve.  I was less confident that my husband would enjoy the flavor and texture of the rhubarb.  I anxiously watched as he took the first bite.

I’m happy to report that he did enjoy it.  Better yet, he loved the rhubarb.  In fact, we all did.  The flavor was fresh and earthy with the rhubarb’s trademark brightness.

This recipe will definitely become a family favorite.  In fact, it would be a wonderful way to celebrate a special occasion.  Luckily, we won’t have to wait long.  Sunday is Mother’s Day and this cake seems like the perfect way to celebrate!

Rhubarb Raspberry Upside Down Cake
adapted from a recipe by David Lebovitz

I made a few changes to the original recipe.  I like making an upside down cake in the same skillet used to make the caramel.  I use a cast iron skillet and it always turns out perfectly.  I also like to remove 1 Tablespoon of the flour and substitute an equal amount of cornstarch to produce a flour mixture that closely resembles cake flour.

For those who are unfamiliar with rhubarb, take care to discard the leaves.  While the stalks are delicious, the leaves are poisonous.

For the fruit layer:
8 ounces rhubarb, sliced into 1/2″ thick pieces
4 ounces raspberries, fresh or frozen
2 teaspoon cornstarch
1/2 cup granulated sugar

For the caramel layer:
3 Tablespoons butter, cubed
3/4 cup brown sugar

For the cake layer:
1 1/2 cups (180 grams) All-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 ounces (1 stick) butter, cubed
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1/2 cup milk

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  In a large bowl, combine the sliced rhubarb, raspberries, cornstarch, and sugar.  Allow the mixture to rest as the cake is prepared.

In a cast iron skillet or oven proof pan, melt three Tablespoons of butter over medium heat.  Add the brown sugar to the melted butter and stir until fully moistened.  Continue to cook while stirring until the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture begins to bubble.  Remove the pan from the heat.  Spread the caramel to cover the entire bottom surface of the skillet.

Place the flour in a small bowl.  Remove 1 Tablespoon of the flour from the bowl.  Add cornstarch, baking powder, and salt to the flour.  Using a whisk, mix the dry ingredients fully.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the vanilla and stir to combine.  Add the eggs and stir until the mixture is smooth.  Add half of the dry mixture and stir just until combined.  Add the milk to the batter and mix until smooth.  Add the remaining dry ingredients and mix just until smooth.  Take care not to overmix.

Carefully stir the prepared fruit mixture.  Transfer the fruit and its juices to the skillet containing the caramel.  Spread the fruit evenly over the caramel.

Using a spatula, transfer the cake mixture to the skillet,  Gently spread the batter to the edges of the pan, fully covering the fruit layer.  Transfer the skillet to the preheated oven.  I place the skillet on a baking sheet to prevent juices from the fruit layer from bubbling over and burning in the oven.

Bake the cake for 50 – 60 minutes.  The cake is done when it starts to pull away from the sides of the pan.  When done, the top of the cake will be golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center will be clean or have small crumbs attached.

Allow the cake to cool for 15 – 20 minutes.   Cover the cake with a plate slightly larger than the skillet.  Using oven mitts, carefully flip the cake.  This should be done while the cake is still warm, otherwise the caramel layer will solidify and stick to the bottom of the pan.

Remove the skillet from the plate.  Serve warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

This recipe was included in From the Farm Blog Hop #32

Permanent link to this article: http://1840farm.com/2013/05/rhubarb-raspberry-upside-down-cake/

Homemade Vanilla Extract

I started making my own vanilla extract several years ago.  I didn’t do it to save money or make a better product.  I did it because it’s just what you do when someone in your family suddenly has food allergies.

One of the baking staples that I had a terrible time finding ingredient information and allergy warnings on was vanilla extract.  It wasn’t for a lack of trying.  In my searching online, I discovered that making vanilla extract required exactly two ingredients and a little cupboard space.

I was skeptical.  My family looked at me with the same look they used the first time I proudly told them that I had perfected a brioche recipe using tofu instead of eggs.  I’m sure you can close your eyes and picture exactly what I’m talking about.  Then they smelled my first vanilla extract and tasted it for the first time in frosting that was filled with vanilla bean specks.  They were sold.  This food experiment was a keeper.

Now you can use one of our 1840 Farm Vanilla Extract Kits to make your own vanilla extract and amaze your family.  Once you do, you may never purchase vanilla extract at the store again. The homemade version of vanilla extract is superior in flavor and aroma to the extract available at the grocery store.

Making your own vanilla extract is also a real money saver.  With each individual kit, you can brew enough vanilla extract to make over 48 batches of homemade chocolate chip cookies.  Of course, you don’t have to make chocolate chip cookies.  You could try one of my family’s favorite recipes featuring homemade vanilla extract:

Strawberry Jam Meringue Heart at 1840 FarmChocolate Cupcakes with Strawberry Buttercream Frosting

Chocolate Chip Gooey Butter Cake

1840 Farm Pancakes

Strawberry Jam Meringue Cookies

Chocolate Butter Cookies with Stout Buttercream Frosting

Coconut Macaroons

Raspberry Crumble Bars

Snowballs

Baked Alaska

 

 

 

Permanent link to this article: http://1840farm.com/2013/03/1840-farm-vanilla-extract-kits/

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Mushrooms and Spinach

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Mushrooms and Spinach at 1840 FarmThere are few things that I love more than spending time in the kitchen with my family.  In fact, we have a tradition of declaring the occasional Saturday night as a “Family Feast Night”.  I can’t remember one Family Feast Night that didn’t involve laughter, a great meal, and a memory that will remain fresh in my mind for years to come.

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Mushrooms and Spinach at 1840 FarmOn those Saturdays, we gather in the kitchen mid afternoon, fire up a little background music from our turntable, and prepare dinner together.  We tend to select recipes that require a big time commitment and the work of many hands.  There are two reasons for this.  The first is that these recipes don’t appear on our menu board very often due to the time constraints of everyday life.  The second is much simpler:  we enjoy our time in the kitchen together so much that we want it to last just a little longer.

The menu item that garners the most requests and creates the most excitement on Family Feast Night is sweet potato gnocchi.  Family dinner is more fun when you can get your hands dirty rolling ropes of gnocchi dough on the kitchen table before cutting each piece yourself.  My children take great pride in turning out baking sheets full of the little orange pillows before I roll them down the tines ofSweet Potato Gnocchi with Mushrooms and Spinach at 1840 Farm a fork.  My husband and I take great pride in visualizing them teaching their children to make gnocchi years from now.

We grow our own sweet potatoes here at 1840 Farm.  While we enjoy them in a variety of recipes, this is our clear favorite.  When our homegrown sweet potatoes are fully cured and ready to be enjoyed, this is predictably the first sweet potato recipe we make.  In fact, our annual harvest is judged by how many batches of sweet potato gnocchi it will yield.

In addition to being a family favorite, this recipe also happens to be delicious.  The delicate gnocchi offer a perfect counterpoint to the earthy mushrooms and spinach.  The end result is a light yet satisfying dish that never disappoints in my house.  I’m willing to bet that it won’t disappoint in yours either.

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Mushrooms and Spinach
makes 6 main course servings

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 individually frozen and then 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.

2 pounds raw sweet potatoes
15 ounces ricotta cheese
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
1 ½ teaspoons sea salt
2 cups All-purpose flour

2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 pound mushrooms, sliced
1 cup vegetable stock
2 Tablespoons butter
6 ounces baby spinach leaves, washed
Parmesan cheese to garnish

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.  When fully cooked, the sweet potatoes should have the texture and appearance of a well baked sweet potato.  Remove from the plate and set aside to cool.  Repeat with the remaining sweet potatoes.

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.

Add ricotta cheese, brown sugar, and salt to the sweet potatoes and stir until well combined.  Add 1 ¼ cups of the flour to the sweet potato mixture and stir until fully incorporated.  Add the remaining flour ¼ 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.

Turn dough out of the bowl onto a well-floured surface.  Divide the dough into 8 equally sized sections.  Remove 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, cut the rope into one inch long pieces.

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.  I enjoy the process of pushing each piece of gnocchi across the tines of a fork with my thumb.

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.

Meanwhile, 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 and allow the water to continue boiling as the sauce is prepared.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium high heat.  AAdd the mushrooms and sauté without stirring until they have released their liquid and most of it has evaporated, approximately 7 minutes.  Add the broth and butter and stir to incorporate.  Remove the pan from heat and cover to keep warm.

Boil 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.

Return the saucepan with the mushrooms to a burner set over medium heat.  Add the spinach and stir until the spinach wilts and the sauce comes up to temperature.  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.


This recipe was featured in our newsletter.  To make sure that you don’t miss any of our original content or favorite recipes, DIY projects, and homesteading advice from around the web, subscribe to The 1840 Farm Community Newsletter. Visit our subscription form to become the newest member of The 1840 Farm Community.

Our newsletter isn’t the only way to follow what’s happening here at 1840 Farm.
You’re always welcome at 1840 Farm
and at The 1840 Farm Mercantile Shop on Etsy.
You can also find 1840 Farm throughout the social media universe on
Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Flickr, and Bloglovin‘.

We even created a new 1840 Farm Community Newsletter Pinterest board to catalog
our newsletter content so that you could easily pin your favorites to your own boards.

Come add your voice to our conversation!
We’ll hope to see you there!


Permanent link to this article: http://1840farm.com/2013/02/sweet-potato-gnocchi-with-mushrooms-and-spinach/

Soupe à l’Oignon Gratinèe

Soupe à l'Oignon Gratinèe at 1840 FarmSome recipes stand the test of time.  If a recipe can stay close to its original incarnation for a decade, I am impressed with its longevity.  When a recipe remains unchanged for 100 years, I’m rushing to the farmhouse kitchen to start gathering ingredients.

Soupe à l'Oignon Gratinèe at 1840 FarmI first saw this recipe in 2007.  I was happily reading a copy of The Sunday New York Times when I came across a photo of a Dutch Oven filled with a beautiful, caramelized dish.  I went on to read the article and learned that the recipe was published in the French cookbook “Gastronomie Pratique” in 1907.  It wasn’t translated into English until 1974.  That same year, The Times published the recipe in an article by the infamous Craig Claiborne.

A century later, this recipe is still pitch perfect.  It combines my favorite aspects of French Onion Soup and adds a few that I hadn’t even realized were missing.  The end result is rich, comforting, and earthy.

Instead of the brothy French Onion Soups that I was accustomed to, this was by all accounts a savory bread pudding, studded with tomato and caramelized onions.  It was sublime and almost defied description.

Craig Claiborne managed to sum it up in a sentence from his recipe, “The soup is ready when the surface looks like a crusty, golden cake and the inside is unctuous and so well blended that it is impossible to discern either cheese or onion.”  I won’t update his description.  His choice of words is as perfect as the recipe itself.

I could go on and on attempting to describe the perfection that is this dish, but  I don’t feel like I need to.  The fact that it has survived over 100 years makes it the stuff of legends.  One bite and you’ll be sure to add it to your recipe collection for the next century and beyond.

Soupe à l’Oignon Gratinèe

serves 6 as a main course
Originally Published in “Gastronomie Pratique” by Ali-Bab in 1907
Adapted from the Craig Claiborne’s recipe published in 1974 in The New York Times

I like to use homemade bread for this recipe.  You can use any crusty loaf, homemade or store bought.  The bread will be toasted, so a slightly stale loaf can be used if you happen to have one on hand.

12 ounces crusty bread
4 Tablespoons butter, softened
4 ounces Gruyère
3 pounds yellow onions (approximately 8 medium), sliced thinly
4 Tablespoons butter
6 ounces tomato paste
2 ounces water
4 ounces Gruyère, shredded
6 cups vegetable stock

                Soupe à l'Oignon Gratinèe at 1840 FarmSoupe à l'Oignon Gratinèe at 1840 FarmSoupe à l'Oignon Gratinèe at 1840 Farm

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Prepare two baking sheets by lining them with cooling racks.  Slice the bread into 1/2″ thick slices and arrange them in a single layer on the cooling racks.  Place the baking sheets in the preheated oven and bake until lightly toasted, approximately 10 minutes.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature.

Slice the Gruyère very thinly.  I like to use a vegetable peeler to make paper-thin slices.  You can choose to grate the cheese if you prefer.

Divide the 4 Tablespoons of butter among the bread slices, spreading it across the top of each slice.  Divide the Gruyère among the slices, allowing the cheese to rest on top of the soft butter.  Return the bread slices to the oven until the cheese is melted, around 5-10 minutes.  Remove from the oven and set aside as the other components are prepared.

In a large oven safe pot or Dutch Oven, melt 4 Tablespoons of butter over medium-high heat.  When the butter is completely melted, add the onions and a pinch of salt.  Saute the onions, stirring often, for 15 – 20 minutes.  The onions will take on a beautiful, golden brown color as their natural sugars begin to caramelize.  Remove the pot from the heat and transfer the caramelized onions to a large bowl.

Place the vegetable stock in a saucepan over medium heat.  Warm the stock to a simmer..  Reduce the heat to low.  In a small bowl, mix the tomato paste and water until fully combined into a tomato puree.

              Soupe à l'Oignon Gratinèe at 1840 Farm Soupe à l'Oignon Gratinèe at 1840 Farm Soupe à l'Oignon Gratinèe at 1840 Farm

Arrange approximately one-third of the prepared bread slices in a single layer in the large pot used to cook the onions.  Top the bread slices with 1/3 of the onions followed by 1/3 of the tomato mixture, spreading both to fully cover the layer beneath.  Repeat by adding another layer of bread followed by onions and then tomato puree until there are three layers of each in the pot.  The pot should not be more than 2/3 full in order to prevent it from boiling over in the oven.

Soupe à l'Oignon Gratinèe at 1840 FarmUsing a ladle, gently add the warm stock along the edge of the pot.  Add the stock slowly in order to allow the bread slices to begin to absorb the liquid.  Add liquid until it is at a level just below the top layer of onions.  The amount of stock needed will vary depending on the size of your pot.  Once the necessary liquid has been added, place the shredded cheese on top, distributing evenly.

Return the pot to a burner over medium heat.  Bring the liquid to a gentle boil before reducing the heat to medium-low.  Simmer, uncovered for 15 – 20 minutes.  Place the pot on top of a baking sheet and transfer the baking sheet to the oven.  Bake uncovered for 45 – 60 minutes or until the soup matches Craig Claiborne’s description.

When finished, the top will brown and form a light crust and the bread beneath will have absorbed most of the liquid.  The onions, tomato paste, and Gruyère will combine beautifully and impart their earthy flavor to each flavorful bite.  Serve hot and marvel at the perfection of a dish that is still perfect after 100 years.

Permanent link to this article: http://1840farm.com/2013/02/soupe-a-loignon-gratinee/

Peanut-less Brittle

Peanut-less Brittle at 1840 FarmIt was five years ago that a peanut allergy came home to roost at 1840 Farm.  Since then, we’ve become a nut free house.  We’ve been creative and learned how to modify some of our family’s favorite recipes to exclude nuts and still include great flavor. This take on our old recipe for peanut brittle does just that with amazing results.

By substituting Wheat Nuts for peanuts, we can safely enjoy the taste of peanut brittle while leaving the nuts behind.  The taste is still that wonderful mixture of crunchy burnt sugar with a lovely nutty flavor and hint of salt.Peanut-less Brittle at 1840 Farm

This brittle recipe is foolproof and tastes delicious.  Best of all, it allows us to enjoy the taste of great peanut brittle without the peanuts.  If you don’t live with nut allergies, you could easily use peanuts instead.

Once you’ve mastered this recipe, you’ll be ready to make my chocolate covered molasses toffee.  Don’t worry, I’ll be happy to share the recipe with you in January!

Peanut-less Brittle

Take care when making this or any other candy that involves boiled sugar.  Use a large, microwave safe bowl that will allow the mixture to come to a full boil without boiling over.  Do not touch the mixture as it will be incredibly hot and could easily burn your skin.

96 grams (1/2 cup) granulated sugar
96 grams (1/2 cup) brown sugar
4 ounces light corn syrup
1 cup Wheat Nuts
1 teaspoon butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda

Line a baking tray with a Silpat liner or parchment paper.  Set aside.

Combine both sugars with corn syrup in a large microwave safe bowl.  Stir gently to combine and microwave on high for 4 minutes.

Carefully add the Wheat Nuts and stir to combine.  Microwave on high for 3 1/2 minutes.

Add the butter and vanilla to the mixture.  The sugar will bubble violently.  Stir gently until the butter is completely melted and the mixture is smooth.  Microwave on high for 1 1/2 minutes.

Add the baking soda to the hot sugar mixture.  It will bubble and expand rapidly as the soda is incorporated. Cautiously stir the mixture until it bubbles and lightens in color.  Do not overmix as this will lead to a very dense brittle if all of the air bubbles created by the baking soda are allowed to escape.

Immediately transfer the mixture onto the prepared baking tray and spread it slightly, taking care not to deflate the mixture completely.  Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature before breaking it into small pieces.  Brittle can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for several days.

You can open a printable PDF of this recipe by clicking on the link below.
Peanut-less Brittle


This post was featured in The 1840 Farm Community Newsletter. To make sure that you don’t miss any of our original content or favorite recipes, DIY projects, and homesteading advice from around the web, subscribe to The 1840 Farm Community Newsletter. Visit our subscription form to become the newest member of The 1840 Farm Community.

Our newsletter isn’t the only way to follow what’s happening here at 1840 Farm.
You’re always welcome at 1840 Farm
and at The 1840 Farm Mercantile Shop on Etsy.
You can also find 1840 Farm throughout the social media universe on
Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Flickr, and Bloglovin‘.

We even created a new 1840 Farm Community Newsletter Pinterest board to catalog
our newsletter content so that you could easily pin your favorites to your own boards.

Come add your voice to our conversation!
We’ll hope to see you there!


Permanent link to this article: http://1840farm.com/2012/12/peanut-less-brittle/

Kitchen Kneads

WonderMill for 1840 FarmHave you ever considered milling your own flour?  I certainly have due to my love of baking from scratch and also to manage my son’s food allergies.  In fact, I was discussing using a home mill with another contributor to The Daily Meal earlier this week.

Now we can all learn more about an amazing product and the newest sponsor of 1840 Farm – Kitchen Kneads and The WonderMill. Kitchen Kneads is a family owned business that supplies families around the country with the products and supplies necessary to be more successful with their baking and cooking.

Kitchen Kneads offers an incredible variety of kitchen tools from The WonderMill grain mill to dehydrators, vacuum sealers, sprouters, and everything in between.  In a matter of minutes, I had found tools that I could use in our farmhouse kitchen and on the farm to help create healthy supplements for our animals and preserve our homegrown produce from the garden.

If you love to bake and cook as much as I do, click on the link to their catalog and enjoy browsing their catalog.  You can also follow Kitchen Kneads and The WonderMill on Facebook to stay up to date with their latest products and find some delicious looking recipes.  I’m glad that it’s not too late to add a few of their products to my Christmas list!

Permanent link to this article: http://1840farm.com/2012/12/kitchen-kneads/

The Best Way to Store Fresh Bread


When I mentioned a few days ago on our Facebook page that the best way to store fresh bread was in a cloth bag, I had no idea that so many of my readers would ask the logical question:  “why?”  When I started to type the short answer, I realized something.  There is no short answer.

Instead, there are several reasons why I believe that fabric provides the most hospitable environment for freshly baked bread.  Those reasons are altogether simple and complex.  The reason for my initial statement was the simplest of all:  my friend Lisa from Fresh Eggs Daily had decided to treat me to one of her beautiful handmade linen bread bags.

A few weeks ago, we had been discussing the impending winter.  While neither of us was happy to accept that we would soon need snow boots to travel out to our coops and barns, we were both looking forward to a few cold weather pastimes.  One of those was baking fresh homemade bread.

I enjoy making bread, especially during the winter months.  During the long, cold winter here in New England I don’t need much encouragement to turn the oven on and commit to baking something for an hour or more.  Bread provides me with the perfect excuse to do just that.  Add in that it also provides fresh bread for my family to enjoy and you can see why I look forward to my cold weather bread baking.

I have been baking bread for my family for over a decade.  During that time, I’ve learned a few tricks, had a few failures, and developed several family favorite recipes.  I’ve also learned a thing or two about how to store fresh bread in order to preserve its texture and extend its shelf life.

There are several ways to store fresh bread.  There are also several decisions to make before doing so.  The first decision involves the use of refrigeration.  While it seems logical that fresh food will remain fresh longer if kept in the refrigerator, bread should always be kept at room temperature.

Obviously, the spoiling process occurs much more quickly in a loaf of fresh bread.  Whether it is of the homemade variety or purchased from a local bakery, these loaves typically do not contain preservatives.  Without preservatives to slow down the process, it doesn’t take long for the fresh bread to spoil.

In spite of this, bread should not be stored in the refrigerator.  The cold environment in the refrigerator will dry out the bread and ruin its texture inside and out.  In fact, a process called retrogradation takes place when bread is stored in the refrigerator.  Retrogradation is the term used to describe the crystallization of the starch molecules in bread or other baked goods.  This transformation is six times more likely to happen at refrigerated temperatures versus room temperature.

While the risk of molding is greater in a loaf of bread held at room temperature over a few days, refrigeration for a few hours can completely destroy the crust and crumb of a loaf.  When this information is taken into consideration, it seems obvious that fresh bread that will be eaten quickly should be stored at room temperature.

If you find yourself with fresh bread that will not be consumed in a day or two, fresh bread can also be frozen.  Frozen loaves should be allowed to thaw at room temperature and reheated briefly in a warm oven.  The warmth of the oven will help to liquefy the starch crystals within the bread and help to return its crust and interior to its original texture.

Now that we understand where we should keep our bread for both short term and long term storage, it’s time to decide what to store the fresh bread in.  Our best options include bags made from plastic, paper, or cloth.  Each material serves a different purpose and results in a different outcome for the loaf of bread inside.

First, let’s start with plastic.  I can’t help but think of sandwich bread when picturing a loaf stored inside a plastic bag.  There’s a perfectly good reason that sandwich bread is so closely associated with its plastic bag storage.  Soft sandwich bread and its plastic bag are a perfect match.  The plastic bag serves two purposes with regard to the spongy textured sandwich bread.

Because the plastic does not breathe or allow for the passage of air in or out of the bag, the loaf inside tends to resist drying out.  This helps to maintain the loaf’s soft texture.  During the natural process of trace amounts of moisture dissipating from the loaf, that moisture is actually trapped inside the plastic bag.  Therefore, at least some of that moisture is returned to the loaf, helping to keep it soft.

For sandwich bread, a soft crust and spongy interior are both admirable traits.  For a fresh loaf of crusty Italian bread or a French baguette, it is a disaster waiting to happen.  The same trapped moisture that keeps the sandwich bread moist destroys the crispy texture of the bread’s crust. Ironically, as the crust softens and overly chewy

Baguette or crusty loaves are better suited to storage in paper or cloth bags.  Both of these offer an environment that allows the dissipating moisture to exit.  While the bread will eventually become stale, the texture of both the exterior and interior will stand a much better chance of lasting a day or two.

Between paper and cloth, cloth is the clear choice for me. In my experience, loaves stored in paper tend to dry out more quickly than those stored in a cloth.  In fact, before I received a linen cloth bread bag from Lisa, I sometimes kept bread wrapped in a clean kitchen towel.  I think that you’ll agree that her beautiful bread bag is a bit more stylish.

In the end, great bread isn’t meant to be kept long term.  It’s meant to be enjoyed as soon as you bring it home.  The Europeans are far ahead of us on this tradition.  They view day old bread as a component for soups, bread puddings, croutons, and bread crumbs.  Day old bread is the very reason that Panzanella was born.  What better way to utilize slightly stale bread than by allowing it to absorb the delicious flavors of tomatoes, basil, olive oil, and vinegar?

Of course, I am speaking of Europeans who live in urban cities and can walk to any of a number of bakeries that produce delicious breads that can be purchased and enjoyed daily.  I don’t have that luxury, so I try to keep a loaf or two in the freezer and store today’s fresh bread in a cloth bag for tomorrow.  If I store it well, I have the option to warm it slightly in the oven and serve bread that is still delicious.  Of course, if it’s heirloom tomato season, I just might make Panzanella.

Now that you know how to store fresh bread, you need a good recipe for a homemade loaf and a fabric bread bag to store it in.  You can see the recipes from our Bread Baker’s Series and browse the selection of bread bags from Fresh Eggs Daily.

If you’d like to learn more about My Favorite Bread Baking Tools and Ingredients, visit my post.  You can also leave me a comment and introduce me to your favorites.



To make sure that you don’t miss any of our original content or favorite recipes, DIY projects, and homesteading advice from around the web, subscribe to The 1840 Farm Community Newsletter. Visit our subscription form to become the newest member of The 1840 Farm Community.

Our newsletter isn’t the only way to follow what’s happening here at 1840 Farm.
You’re always welcome at 1840 Farm
and at The 1840 Farm Mercantile Shop on Etsy.
You can also find 1840 Farm throughout the social media universe on
Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Flickr, and Bloglovin‘.

We even created a new 1840 Farm Community Newsletter Pinterest board to catalog
our newsletter content so that you could easily pin your favorites to your own boards.

Come add your voice to our conversation!
We’ll hope to see you there!


Permanent link to this article: http://1840farm.com/2012/10/the-best-way-to-store-fresh-bread/

Brandied Apple Pie with Cinnamon Sugar Topping

I love to make homemade pies from scratch.  It’s a family tradition that started with my paternal grandmother.  She was a gifted pie baker and enjoyed making pies in her tiny kitchen.  More importantly, she wanted to share those pies with the people she loved.

I was lucky enough to be one of those people.  I always knew that there would be homemade pies waiting for me when we visited.  She would proudly announce that there “might be a little pie” moments after we walked through her front door.  A little pie meant that there would be at least three pies waiting for us that she had baked earlier that day.

Ironically, I found myself making three pies earlier this week. One was for my husband and children.  The second was for my parents.  The third was for dear friends who we count as family.

I don’t say that lightly:  they have become an important part of our family.  Making them a homemade pie seemed like the perfect way to ensure that they knew just how much we love them.  If we deem you as pie worthy, believe me, you’re family.

While I might make a chocolate cake or a batch of cookies for a casual friend of acquaintance, pie is reserved for those near and dear to my heart.  It’s not because I feel that pie making is a chore.  It’s quite the contrary.  I love making pie for someone I love just as much as my Grandmother did.  Making the pie for someone I love is as much a part of my mental ingredient list as anything else in the actual recipe.

I involve my two children in my pie making sessions. They gather to help me make the crust and the filling.  I allow them to flute the edge of each pie, literally leaving their mark on the dough and making it their own.

I can only hope that they will continue the family tradition of making a homemade pie for someone they love when they are grown.  If I’m lucky, they might even make one when I come to visit.  Maybe they’ll greet me by mentioning that there “might be a little pie”.

Brandied Apple Pie with Cinnamon Sugar Topping
makes one 9 inch pie

The cinnamon sugar topping for this pie was adapted from a pie recipe in Ruth Reichl’s Comfort Me With Apples.  It develops a lovely, crunchy texture as the pie cools after baking.

To save time, I usually mix my pie crust in my food processor.  This recipe can be made in a bowl using a dough blender or a large fork.   Either way, the result will be a flaky, buttery crust that pairs deliciously with the apple filling.

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
4 ounces butter, cubed
4-6 Tablespoons ice water

1 pound apples, peeled, cored, and cut into thick slices
1 cup (192 grams) granulated sugar
2 Tablespoons tapioca
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 Tablespoon brandy

4 Tablespoons butter
6 Tablespoons granulated sugar
6 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

To make the crust, place flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor.  Pulse the dry ingredients to combine.  Add the cubed butter and pulse until the butter has begun to incorporate into the flour and resembles small grains of rice.

With the motor running, add ice water one Tablespoon at a time until the dough forms a ball.  Take care not to over process the dough.  Over processing will help to develop the gluten in the flour and lead to a crust that is less flaky.  Remove the crust from the processor, shape into a flat disk, and place on a sheet of waxed paper or plastic wrap.  Refrigerate while the filling is prepared.

To prepare the apple filling, combine the apple slices, sugar, tapioca, cinnamon, lemon juice and brandy in a large bowl.  Mix gently to combine.  Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil to catch any pie filling that may bubble over during baking.  Set aside.

To make the topping, melt the butter over low heat in a small saucepan.  Add the sugar, flour, and cinnamon and stir until fully incorporated.  Remove from the heat and continue to stir until the mixture is completely smooth.  Set aside to cool.

Remove the chilled pie dough from the refrigerator.  Roll the crust into a smooth disk large enough to line the pie plate.  Rolling will be much easier if done on a well-floured surface or between two sheets of freezer paper or waxed paper.

Place the bottom crust in the pie plate, taking care not to stretch the dough.  By gently lifting the edges of the crust, the dough will naturally come to rest on the bottom of the pie plate without stretching.  Continue this technique around the perimeter of the pie plate.

Stir the prepared filling before gently placing it on top of the crust in the pie plate.  Evenly distribute the topping mixture over the apple filling using a spatula.  Alternately, the topping can be crumbled evenly over the surface of the pie using your fingers.

Place the pie on top of the prepared baking sheet and transfer to the preheated oven.  Bake for 10 minutes before reducing the temperature to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Continue to bake for 45 minutes or until the top crust is a beautiful, light golden brown.  Rotating the pie midway through the baking time will help to ensure that your pie is evenly browned.

Remove the pie from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool.  Serve warm or at room temperature.  Top with vanilla ice cream if desired.

To download a printable copy of this recipe, click the link below to open the PDF file.
Brandied Apple Pie with Cinnamon Sugar Topping

 

This post was shared on:

From the Farm Blog Hop

Lessons From Ivy Linky Party

Permanent link to this article: http://1840farm.com/2012/09/brandied-apple-pie-with-cinnamon-sugar-topping/

Smoked Cheddar Gougères

It’s time for me to face the facts:  fall is here.  The air is unmistakably crisp, the summer garden is dwindling, and leaves are beginning to dance around the farm with each passing breeze.  I’m not ready to bid farewell to summer, but I am taking comfort in the fact that our favorite fall recipes will find their way onto our dinner plates in the coming weeks.

With cooler weather, smoky black bean chili with butternut squash will return to our family table.  Hachis Parmentier will become a Saturday staple.  Most importantly, smoked chedar gougères will help us celebrate the season.

When there is a special occasion to be celebrated at 1840 Farm, these delectable little bites always seem to be the most requested appetizer. They are incredibly delicious and can be prepared ahead of time. In my opinion, those are two excellent traits for a recipe when entertaining is also on the menu.

Gougères are made by enriching pate a choux dough with grated cheese. As they bake in the oven, the cheese melts and combines with the rich egg batter resulting in a cheese puff that is light and airy yet deliciously rich. They are a hit with children and adults alike and make an excellent addition to a cheese plate, or any plate for that matter.

When purchasing the cheese for this recipe, select a variety that demands your attention. This is not the time to use cheese with a delicate or subtle flavor. Instead, go for the boldest variety you can find. For me, the choice is a locally made variety from a family owned general store that has been in business since 1869. The cheese is an extremely sharp cheddar with a firm texture along with the same cheese in a smoked variety. The end result is cheesy perfection.

Smoked Cheddar Gougères
makes 60 one inch puffs

 

8 oz Whole Milk
4 oz Butter
1/2 tsp Sea Salt
1 cup Flour
4 large eggs
4 oz Sharp Cheddar, grated
2 oz Smoked Cheddar, grated

 

Position the racks in the top and bottom third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line two baking sheets with nonstick baking mats or parchment paper. Measure the flour into a small bowl. Crack all of the eggs into a bowl and set aside until they are needed. Grate the two cheeses and gently combine them.

Combine milk, butter, and salt in a medium sized pot over high heat. Monitor the mixture closely, stirring often, to avoid scorching. As soon as the mixture comes to a boil, reduce the heat to medium and add the flour in one addition. Stir rapidly with a wooden spoon until the mixture comes together to form a ball. Continue to stir continuously for two minutes until the dough is completely smooth and leaves a film on the bottom of the pot. Remove the pot from the heat and allow the mixture to cool for five minutes.

Once the five minutes have elapsed, add the eggs one at a time, stirring vigorously after each addition. With the addition of each egg, the dough will break. This is normal; rest assured that the dough will be perfectly smooth by the time the fourth egg is incorporated. Once the eggs have all been added, stir in the grated cheese until it is evenly distributed.

Using a spoon or a Tablespoon sized cookie scoop, drop the dough by rounded Tablespoons onto the prepared baking sheets leaving 1 inch of space between each gougère. Place the baking sheets in the oven and bake for 20 – 28 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through the baking time.

The gougères will be done when they become golden brown in color and have a puffed appearance with a dry exterior. Remove the gougères from the oven and place the baking sheets on wire racks to cool. Gougères can be served warm or at room temperature.

Note: Rounded Tablespoons of dough can be frozen individually on a tray lined with freezer paper. Once they are completely frozen, store the gougères in a freezer bag until ready to use. To bake, simply place frozen gougères on a prepared baking sheet and bake in a 400 degree oven for 30 – 36 minutes.

To download a printable copy of this recipe, click the link below to open the PDF file.

Smoked Cheddar Gougères Recipe

This recipe was featured in the April 2014 issue of From Scratch Magazine and on


This recipe was featured in our newsletter.  To make sure that you don’t miss any of our original content or favorite recipes, DIY projects, and homesteading advice from around the web, subscribe to The 1840 Farm Community Newsletter. Visit our subscription form to become the newest member of The 1840 Farm Community.

Our newsletter isn’t the only way to follow what’s happening here at 1840 Farm.
You’re always welcome at 1840 Farm
and at The 1840 Farm Mercantile Shop on Etsy.
You can also find 1840 Farm throughout the social media universe on
Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Flickr, and Bloglovin‘.

We even created a new 1840 Farm Community Newsletter Pinterest board to catalog
our newsletter content so that you could easily pin your favorites to your own boards.

Come add your voice to our conversation!
We’ll hope to see you there!


Permanent link to this article: http://1840farm.com/2012/09/smoked-cheddar-gougeres/

Refrigerator Dill Pickles

If cucumbers are being harvested from the garden at 1840 Farm, then you will find multiple jars of refrigerator dill pickles chilling in our fridge. It just wouldn’t seem like summer without them.  It’s a great way of preserving fresh cucumbers without needing to spend hours standing over the canning pot.

While I have canned pickles in the past, I was never as happy with the results as I am with these refrigerator pickles.  These are fresh and crisp with an intense flavor.  Because they are refrigerated, I can vary the recipe however I like without worrying about food safety and extended shelf life.

These pickles couldn’t be any easier to make.  Simply prepare the brining liquid and place in glass jars with sliced cucumbers and refrigerate.  Within hours, the cucumbers will be infused with the flavor of dill and vinegar. By the next day, they will be pickled perfection.

I keep three pint sized canning jars full of refrigerator dill pickle slices in our refrigerator.  As one jar is emptied, I simply slice a fresh cucumber, add the slices to the brining liquid in the jar and return the jar to the refrigerator  I use plastic canning lids and write the day that the fresh cucumber was added using a dry erase marker.  That way I always know which slices have been brining the longest and can serve those pickles first.

After I have used the brining liquid for several weeks, I make a fresh batch and begin the process all over again.  That is, until we run out of fresh cucumbers from the garden.

1840 Farm Refrigerator Dill Pickles
makes three pint jars

Because these pickles are refrigerated instead of prepared for long term storage, the recipe can be adjusted to your preference.  If you prefer a sweeter pickle, more sugar can be added.  If you like your pickles with more zing, reduce the sugar to intensify the flavor of the vinegar.  If you like a little heat, a small dried pepper could be placed in each jar before adding the cucumber slices..

12 ounces white vinegar
5 Tablespoons sea salt
3/4 cup (144 grams) sugar
3 ounces white vinegar
18 whole black peppercorns
3 cloves garlic, peeled and quartered
1 bunch fresh dill
6 cups sliced cucumber

Prepare the brining liquid by combining 12 ounces white vinegar, salt, and sugar in a saucepan.  Simmer gently over medium heat until the salt and sugar are fully dissolved.  Remove the pan from heat and set aside to cool.

Gather three pint sized glass jars with lids.  To each jar, add 1 ounce white vinegar, 6 whole peppercorns, 1 clove of peeled and quartered garlic, and 1 generous handful of dill.

Slice the cucumbers and 2 cups (6 ounces) of slices to each prepared jar.  Once the brining liquid has cooled to room temperature, pour approximately 6 ounces into each jar.  Cover and agitate slightly to disperse the spices.

Refrigerate until ready to use.  These pickles must be refrigerated.  They are not intended for long term pantry storage


To make sure that you don’t miss any of our original content or favorite recipes, DIY projects, and homesteading advice from around the web, subscribe to The 1840 Farm Community Newsletter. Visit our subscription form. In a few seconds, you’ll be the newest member of The 1840 Farm Community.

Our newsletter isn’t the only way to follow what’s happening here at 1840 Farm.
You’re always welcome at 1840 Farm
and at The 1840 Farm Mercantile Shop on Etsy.
You can also find 1840 Farm throughout the social media universe on
Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Flickr, and Bloglovin‘.

We even created a new 1840 Farm Community Newsletter Pinterest board to catalog
our newsletter content so that you could easily pin your favorites to your own boards.

Come add your voice to our conversation!
We’ll hope to see you there!

Permanent link to this article: http://1840farm.com/2012/07/refrigerator-dill-pickles/

Banana Blueberry Cake

I love when ordinary ingredients can be transformed into an extraordinary dish. I find it even more impressive when it can be accomplished without going to extensive effort or employing specialized kitchen tools. This is just that sort of recipe.

By themselves, the ingredients may appear pedestrian. Bananas are commonplace and blueberries are far from exotic. Even the simple combination of the two seems, well, simple. But you’ll have to trust me when I tell you that combining them in this recipe, in this fashion yields absolutely delicious results.

This recipe does not use specialty kitchen equipment, but does employ an out of the ordinary technique. You must grate the bananas.

Yes, I know that it is much more common to simply smash the ripe bananas with a fork, but believe me when I tell you that grating them is better. Once you try grated banana in baked goods, you’ll wonder where it has been all your life.  If you don’t trust me, you can certainly trust the culinary legend James Beard.

I don’t honestly remember where I happened upon a James Beard recipe for banana bread.  It was more than a decade ago and while the bread was good, the banana flavor and texture was otherworldly. In its instructions, James Beard recommended grating the banana.  Ten years later, the genius of the grated banana stayed with me. They were so well incorporated within the bread that it was as if they had melted into the batter.

Not to belabor the point, but most banana breads I have eaten contain pieces of banana that refuse to mix into the batter. Instead, they remain unchanged during the baking process and the resulting bread always left me wanting a more intense banana flavor.

So when I found myself standing in our farmhouse kitchen contemplating how best to utilize a pair of overripe bananas, I knew just what to do. Out came my box grater and within minutes the oven was preheating and I was moving on to the next challenge.

What else could I do to enhance the flavor of banana bread? What if I added blueberries to the batter?  It seemed logical.  I always have blueberries on hand.  In the summer, we celebrate the arrival of August by picking blueberries by the pint full.

This year is no exception.  In fact, blueberry season has come early.  We’ve been happily picking berries as fast as we can.  A lot of them are eaten straight out of the berry baskets, but I still have plenty for baking and canning.  I’m always looking for a new way to incorporate them into our favorite recipes.

I slid the cake into the oven, hoping that the two flavors would be the perfect marriage of the banana’s sweetness and the brightness of the fresh blueberries.  As the cake was baking, the whole farmhouse was perfumed with the lovely aroma of warm bananas.  It smelled so delicious that it seemed impossible to wait until it was cool enough to have a taste.

It was worth the wait.  The combination of the banana infused cake and fresh blueberries was delicious.  It was the perfect way to celebrate the arrival of blueberry season at 1840 Farm.

 

Banana Blueberry Cake
serves 10 – 12

I like to use my silicone bundt pan when baking this recipe.  I find that it helps the cake to remain moist as it bakes and cools.  A metal bundt pan or a standard cake pan could also be used.  If using a different pan, simply adjust the cooking time as needed, removing the cake from the oven as soon as a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out cleanly.

3 ounces butter, melted
2 medium bananas (approximately 6 ounces), grated
1/2 cup (96 grams) sugar
1/2 cup (96 grams) brown sugar
2 Tablespoons vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 generous cup (5 ounces) fresh blueberries
2 ounces whole milk
1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 cups (120 grams) All-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and prepare a bundt pan by spraying lightly with pan spray or brushing with melted butter.  Place the bundt pan on a baking sheet and set aside as you prepare the batter.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the melted butter, grated bananas, sugar, brown sugar, vanilla, egg, and blueberries, stirring until combined.  Add the milk and vinegar and mix until smooth.  Add the flour, baking soda, and salt and stir just until combined.

Transfer the batter to the prepared bundt pan.  Place the cake in the middle of the oven and bake 50 to 60 minutes, adjusting baking time as needed if not using a bundt pan.  The cake is done when it has developed a light brown color and a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.

Allow the cake to cool at least 10 minutes in the pan before inverting on a wire rack to cool completely.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

To view a printable copy of this recipe, click the link below to open the PDF file.

1840 Farm Banana Blueberry Cake

This post was linked to:


To make sure that you don’t miss any of our original content or favorite recipes, DIY projects, and homesteading advice from around the web, subscribe to The 1840 Farm Community Newsletter. Visit our subscription form. In a few seconds, you’ll be the newest member of The 1840 Farm Community.

Our newsletter isn’t the only way to follow what’s happening here at 1840 Farm.
You’re always welcome at 1840 Farm
and at The 1840 Farm Mercantile Shop on Etsy.
You can also find 1840 Farm throughout the social media universe on
Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Flickr, and Bloglovin‘.

We even created a new 1840 Farm Community Newsletter Pinterest board to catalog
our newsletter content so that you could easily pin your favorites to your own boards.

Come add your voice to our conversation!
We’ll hope to see you there!

Permanent link to this article: http://1840farm.com/2012/07/banana-blueberry-cake/

Simply Delicious Green Beans and Peas

Prince Albert Pea Flowers

In the summer, the gardens at 1840 Farm dictate what is served for dinner.  If the Purple Top Turnips are ready to be harvested, then dinner is designed around them.  During heirloom tomato season, no one in the family asks “What’s for dinner?”  There’s no point.  The answer is always “tomatoes”.

Each day, I take a stroll through the garden and survey what is ready to harvest.  Over the weekend, it was a beautiful mix of bountiful bush beans, Prince Albert peas from the Monticello collection, and a handful of fresh fava bean pods.

I follow Julia Child’s method for preparing the beans.  It is a simple preparation and doesn’t require any special equipment.  I blanch the beans and peas before sauteing them in a little butter.  The end result is fresh and delicious.

To prepare the beans and peas, bring a large pot of water to a roiling boll over high heat.  Once the water is boiling, add a generous Tablespoon or two of salt.  Wash the beans and cut them into 2 inch lengths.  Remove the peas and favas from their pods and add them to the pot of boiling water with the beans.

Immediately cover the pot to allow the water to rapidly return to boiling.  Once the water has come back to a boil, remove the lid and blanch the vegetables for 2-4 minutes.  Check often for doneness, removing the vegetables from the boiling water while they are still crisp.

Remove the beans and peas using a slotted spoon and place them immediately into a bowl of ice water.  Shocking the peas and beans in ice water will stop the cooking process and help to set the brilliant bright green color.  At this point, the completely cooled vegetables can be drained and stored in the refrigerator until ready to use.

When you are ready to finish the beans and peas, warm a saute pan over medium heat and add a pat of butter.  Using your thumb and index finger, slip the outer skin from the fava bean by pressing lightly on the bean.  The bright green fava will emerge from its papery skin rather easily.  Add the favas into the pan with the rest of the beans and peas and stir to combine.

Saute the beans and peas for a few minutes, seasoning to taste with sea salt and pepper.  As soon as the vegetables are warmed through, serve them alongside your farm fresh dinner.  You’ll have a side dish that is simple, beautiful, and delicious.  One taste and you’ll understand why Thomas Jefferson’s favorite vegetable was the humble garden pea.

This post has been linked to:

Permanent link to this article: http://1840farm.com/2012/07/simply-delicious-green-beans-and-peas/

Orange Genius

Summer is fast approaching and you might need a new recipe for a cold, refreshing drink.  I’m willing to bet that my recipe for Orange Genius on Foodie.com just might help make your summer a little sweeter.  The Orange Genius is a family favorite here at 1840 Farm made with our fresh, raw goat’s milk.

Give it a try and let me know if you agree that the Orange Genius is the perfect drink to enjoy this summer!

Permanent link to this article: http://1840farm.com/2012/06/orange-genius/

Sliced Radish Tartine

It’s been raining for days on end here at 1840 Farm.  I know that we desperately needed the rain.  I know that it is technically spring or as we like to call it in New England:  mud season.  None of that matters.  I still don’t like it.  I want to be outside, planting in the garden instead of inside staring longingly out the window at the garden.

After coming to the realization that I couldn’t do anything about the rain, I decided to do the next best thing.  I went to the refrigerator to grab the ingredients to make an afternoon snack.  I hoped that the act of cooking would distract me from the raindrops falling against the kitchen window.  It only took a few moments for me to realize that I had the components to make a family favorite:  sliced radish tartine.

Radishes are one of the first crops to be harvested here at 1840 Farm.  We love to enjoy a freshly made tartine to celebrate the beginning of our garden harvest.  The crisp radish pairs deliciously with toasted pumpernickel bread and velvety butter.  After a long day working in the garden, this tartine made with freshly harvested radishes is a delicious reward.

Alas, the radishes I had in the refrigerator were not the beloved French Breakfast variety that is growing out in our garden.  It will be a few weeks before they are large enough to harvest.  However, I did have the next best thing: Cherry Belle radishes from the local farmer’s market.

While the bread toasted, I set my OXO mandoline to 1/8” and washed two large radishes.  In a few short motions, I had created beautiful, thin slices of radish.   I softened the butter using a fork while the toasted bread cooled to room temperature.

I spread the butter on the brown bread, seasoned them lightly with salt, pepper, and a little thyme.  Then the paper-thin radishes were placed on top and the tartine was sliced into individual portions.  As I bit into the tartine, my frustration with Mother Nature slipped away.

With each bite, I became more convinced that we did need the rain.  I reasoned that it would help the French Breakfast radishes grow out in our garden.  Harvesting those fresh radishes meant more radish tartine enjoyed with my family.  How could I be upset about that?

Sliced Radish Tartine
makes 4 snack size servings

4 slices pumpernickel bread
2 teaspoons butter
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
dried thyme
2 large radishes

Remove the crust from the bread.  Lightly toast the bread and set aside to cool to room temperature.

Wash the radishes and remove the root end using a sharp knife.  Using a mandoline set to 1/8″ or a sharp paring knife, slice the radishes into paper-thin slices.  If using a mandoline, use the finger guard when slicing to prevent the radish from rolling into the cutting blade or injuring your fingers.

Soften the butter by smashing with the back of a fork.   Divide the softened butter evenly between the bread slices.  Spread it in an even layer and season to taste with salt, pepper, and thyme and top with several radish slices.

Cut each slice of bread in half and serve.


This post was featured in our newsletter.  To make sure that you don’t miss any of our original content or favorite recipes, DIY projects, and homesteading advice from around the web, subscribe to The 1840 Farm Community Newsletter. Visit our subscription form to become the newest member of The 1840 Farm Community.

Our newsletter isn’t the only way to follow what’s happening here at 1840 Farm.
You’re always welcome at 1840 Farm
and at The 1840 Farm Mercantile Shop on Etsy.
You can also find 1840 Farm throughout the social media universe on
Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Flickr, and Bloglovin‘.

We even created a new 1840 Farm Community Newsletter Pinterest board to catalog
our newsletter content so that you could easily pin your favorites to your own boards.

Come add your voice to our conversation!
We’ll hope to see you there!


 

Permanent link to this article: http://1840farm.com/2012/05/sliced-radish-tartine/

Grilled Cheese for Everyone

The World English Dictionary defines the word sandwich as a noun meaning “two or more slices of bread, usually buttered, with a filling of meat, cheese, etc.”  It’s hard for me to argue.  I’ve been eating sandwiches for a long time and most versions stay true to this description.

What if there was no bread?  I mean, it is called a grilled cheese sandwich, isn’t it?  This delectable menu item should be all about the cheese.  The bread could be replaced and still leave us with a grilled cheese sandwich, couldn’t it?

Before the bread lovers of the world start composing their rebuttals, I should state up front that I like bread.  In fact, a bite of brioche from Standard Baking Co. can render me speechless by virtue of being too blissfully occupied to care about casual conversation.   It wasn’t a hatred for bread that inspired me to turn the grilled cheese status quo on its head.

Instead, I was thinking of people who want to enjoy the comfort of a warm, gooey grilled cheese but have dietary concerns beyond what type of cheese to use in their sandwich.  I was thinking of my daughter who tries to match insulin to every gram of carbohydrate that crosses her lips.  I was thinking of friends who exclude gluten from their diet.  I was thinking that I love a kitchen challenge where the reward will be a smile on my daughter’s face.

Sure, I could simply substitute two slices of gluten-free bread for those trying to eliminate it from their lunch plate.  Yes, a person counting their carbohydrates could select two slices of low carbohydrate, high fiber bread.  But what if they didn’t have to?

First, I had to decide what qualities the bread was bringing to a grilled cheese sandwich.  There’s the finger food factor.  A true grilled cheese can be picked up and eaten out of hand.  There is no need for a knife and fork.  Then there’s the structure that the bread contributes to the end product.  Melted cheese alone is a bit lacking in structure.  It needs a little assistance in that regard.

There’s the mouth feel that a toasted slice of bread delivers.  It carries the delicious taste of the melted butter and crunches lightly when you bite into it before revealing the soft interior of the bread.  Finally, there’s the look of the grill marks on the outside of the bread.  I can’t help it, but they’re beautiful to me in the same way that grill marks on a perfectly cooked steak are poetic to someone who loves a steak.  They signal that the food bearing those perfect perpendicular marks has been carefully prepared.  They tell me that my grilled cheese has been cooked long enough to melt the cheesy layer hiding underneath yet not long enough to burn the bread.  I had to select something that could wear those marks with pride.

I stood at the refrigerator surveying my options.   I love lettuce and lettuce wraps, but it just wasn’t what I was looking for.  Lettuce would prove too fragile, too difficult to effectively melt the cheese without compromising the taste of the lettuce.   Carrots weren’t large enough and I feared having to blanch them before drying them and then grilling them in order to cook the carrot sufficiently.  I wasn’t looking for a two-hour grilled cheese preparation.  I wanted something that could move from the fridge to the grill pan in only a few minutes much like a slice of bread moves from the breadbox to the pan.

Apples were an easy choice.  I love sliced apple with cheese, so I knew that the flavor would deliver.  I also knew that apples would cook in a short amount of time.  I hoped that the slices would soften slightly but retain at least a bit of crispness when the sandwich was eaten.  The carbohydrate count was more than acceptable given that I would leave the skin, and therefore the bulk of the fiber, intact.

I wanted a backup in case the apple became too soft.  I considered a potato, but a sizable slice would carry almost as many carbohydrates as a slice of low carb bread.  I wanted something a little different, something that would bring a little earthiness to the grill pan.  Then I remembered that there were still a handful of sweet potatoes in the pantry.  We had grown them in last year’s garden and were shocked at how delicious they were.  They were exactly what I was looking for.

Apple, sweet potato, and cheeses in hand, I headed to the stove.  I debated on using a sharp knife or my OXO mandoline to slice the apple and sweet potato.  In the end, I used the mandoline, but also made a few slices freehand and found them to be more than acceptable.  I set the mandoline to 1/4” and began to slice the freshly washed apple.

I topped one slice of apple with a few slices of smoked cheddar cheese.  After topping it with another apple slice, I set it aside and prepared a few more.  I set the grill pan over medium high heat and placed a small pat of butter inside.

As soon as the butter had melted and evenly coated the bottom of the pan, the apple cheddar sandwiches went in.  In a matter of minutes, the apple was proudly wearing those beautiful grill marks and my sandwich was done.  I removed them from the grill pan and allowed them to cool for a minute before slicing them in half.  It was time to taste this creation and see if I had hit or missed the mark.

The cheese was melted and gooey.  The apple was equal parts soft and crisp.  The sweetness of the apple played nicely off of the smokiness and sharpness of the cheddar.  I could only hope that the sweet potato would work as well.

I left the mandoline on the 1/4” setting and began to slice the peeled sweet potato.  I layered the slices with smoked Gruyère cheese and a sprinkling of dried thyme and black pepper before topping with another slice of sweet potato.  Then I followed the same process to cook the sandwich as I had with the apple cheddar variety.   It didn’t take long for me to see that the sweet potato was just as beautiful as the apple had been.

I called in my most candid taste testers and presented these two sandwiches for their review.  My children tried the sweet potato version first.  My daughter loved it.  My son told me that he liked the cheese, but the “bread” wasn’t his favorite.  The apple cheddar sandwich garnered a thumbs up from both of them.

I could tell by the look on their faces that these grilled cheese sandwiches had done exactly what I had hoped.  They had delivered the rich, homey comfort that a grilled cheese is known for despite their lack of bread.  They met all of my criteria for what a grilled cheese sandwich should be and more.

These were grilled cheese sandwiches for anyone and everyone:  gluten and carbohydrates be damned.  In the end, a grilled cheese sandwich wasn’t about the bread.  In fact, it wasn’t even about the cheese.  It was all about something much simpler and more pure than that.

The essence of the grilled cheese sandwich was about making food that brings comfort to someone you love.  To celebrate,  I sat down to share a grilled cheese sandwich with my daughter and enjoy watching a smile spread across her face.  I certainly didn’t need bread to do that.

Apple and Smoked Cheddar Grilled Cheese Sandwich

1 crisp apple of your preferred variety
smoked cheddar cheese
1 teaspoon butter

Using a mandoline or sharp knife, slice the freshly washed apple into 1/4 inch thick slices.  Top half of the apple slices with thinly sliced smoked cheddar cheese.  Use the remaining apple slices to top the cheese covered apples.

Warm a grill pan over medium high heat.  Once the pan is hot, add the butter and melt completely.  Add the prepared sandwich to the hot pan and reduce the heat to medium.  Grill for two minutes before turning one-quarter turn to create perpendicular grill marks.  After another two minutes, flip the sandwich and repeat the process on the other side.

Carefully lift a corner of the apple to confirm that the cheese has melted.  Allow extra time if necessary to melt the cheese.  Remove the sandwich from the pan and allow to cool for one minute.  Slice the grilled sandwich in half and serve warm.  Enjoy!

Sweet Potato and Smoked Gruyère Grilled Cheese

For this recipe, select a sweet potato that is more round than oblong.  Doing so will enable you to make a larger sandwich.  Alternately, you can slice the sweet potato lengthwise to produce the same result.

1 medium sweet potato, peeled
smoked Gruyère cheese, thinly sliced
dried thyme
freshly cracked black pepper
1 teaspoon butter

Using a mandoline or sharp knife, slice the freshly peeled sweet potato into 1/4 inch thick  slices.  Top half of the sweet potato slices with thinly sliced smoked Gruyère cheese and season with thyme and black pepper.  Use the remaining slices to top the cheese covered sweet potato slices.

Warm a grill pan over medium high heat.  Once the pan is hot, add the butter and melt completely.  Add the prepared sandwich to the hot pan and reduce the heat to medium.  Grill for two minutes before turning one-quarter turn to create perpendicular grill marks.  After another two minutes, flip the sandwich and repeat the process on the other side.

Carefully lift a corner of the sweet potato to confirm that the cheese has melted and the sweet potato is cooked.  Allow extra time if necessary to melt the cheese and finish cooking the sweet potato.  When fully cooked, remove the sandwich from the pan and allow to cool for one minute.  Slice the grilled sandwich in half and serve warm.  Enjoy!

Permanent link to this article: http://1840farm.com/2012/04/grilled-cheese-for-everyone/

Older posts «