Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Granola

We are fans of the "hippie" version of granola






























Did you know that granola was central to the formation of the cold cereal industry in the United States? The origins of granola date back to the popular health movements that swept through the United States in the mid 1800’s. One of the leading figures, Dr. Syvester Graham from Pennsylvania, advocated vegetarianism and temperence. His lasting contribution was the development of graham flour, a type of coarsely ground whole wheat.































A few decades later, Dr. James Caleb Jackson created his own health movement in Dansville, New York that embraced hydrotherapy and dietary restrictions. Dr. Jackson baked Graham’s flour into sheets, broke them up, then baked them again, smashing them into small pieces resembling gravel. He called his concoction granula. It was quite hearty, shall we say, and was promoted as “the cereal you have to soak overnight.”

In 1876 Dr. John Harvey Kellog took charge of one of Dr. Graham’s health spas in Michigan, renaming it Battle Creek Sanitarium. He created his own cereal, adding other whole grains to the Jackson recipe. He initially named it granula until Jackson sued. Kellogg swapped a letter and granola was born. John Kellogg and his brother William developed other cereals and William went on to establish Kellogg’s breakfast cereals.

Charles W. Post, a former patient of  Dr. Kellogg, created yet another health retreat and tinkered with Dr. Jackson’s recipe, giving it the name Grape-Nuts. He went on to found the Post cereal brand. The granula-like cereals were never as popular as other innovations like corn flakes and shredded wheat, probably because eating granula/granola was a bit like chewing small stones.































Granola languished in obscurity for decades. In the 1960’s when hippies started grooving on the health benefits of whole, natural foods, they revived the granola name and greatly expanded the ingredient list to include oats, seeds, nuts and dried fruits.  Yeah, I think we’re going with the hippie version.

Here are a few of hundreds of possible recipes:

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/granola-recipe.html

http://www.health.com/health/recipe/0,,00420000004304,00.html




































Shipping granola in inexpensive plastic containers is an alternative to bag packaging.


Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Speculoos

Saint Nicholas tending a barrel full of children was a popular early Speculoos mold design

Most likely, the first European cookie consumed in America was a Speculoos made by Dutch settlers in New Netherland. In fact, the word cookie is thought to derive from koekje the Dutch term for cookie. The origin of the Belgian name Speculoos is lost to history, but it may come from the Latin speculum, meaning mirror, since the cookie is formed in a wooden mold. When the cookie is removed from the mold, it becomes a mirror image of the original design. Another theory suggests the word comes from Specerij, the Dutch word for spice, since the cookies contain many spices. Early designs had religious themes. Saint Nicholas tending a barrel full of children was one of the most common subjects. Over time other designs were used, including windmill cookies found in stores in the United States today. Originally, the cookies were produced for consumption on, or the day before, the St. Nicholas feast on December 6. Similar versions of the cookie can be found in Germany (Spekulatius), the Netherlands (Speculaas) and France (spéculoos). Following one Belgian tradition, children put shoes by the chimney before going to bed. If they’ve been good, they find their shoes filled with Speculoos and other goodies the next morning.

Making the dough is fairly straightforward, but producing a delicious, well-formed Speculoos cookie from a mold is challenging. Here's a link to our kitchen-tested version of the recipe with photos and hints:

http://www.seafarerbaking.com/p/the-a.html

To learn more about the making of traditional wooden Speculoos molds, see the article about master woodcarver, Oldrich Kvapil:

http://www.seafarerbaking.com/p/blog-page_7.html


Figgy Pudding

Christmas pudding can be made up to a year in advance and  improves with age
   
Figgy Pudding, Plum Pudding, Christmas Pudding or simply, “The Pud,” has been an essential part of the British Christmas tradition since medieval times. It’s made up of dried fruits bound with eggs and bits of bread, often moistened with treacle (molasses), enriched with suet (soo-et) which is the white fat surrounding the kidneys of sheep or cows, and seasoned with cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger and other spices. It’s made up to a year in advance (we make ours in September) by slowly steaming for more than six hours. Here are a few links to recipes:

http://britishfood.about.com/od/christmas/r/xmaspud.htm

http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/christmaspudding_71054


























Christmas pudding is traditionally served by placing the pudding in a saucepan of simmering water (about halfway up the side of the glass jar with top unsealed) for a few hours, then pouring heated brandy, rum or cognac over it, lighting it afire, waiting for the flames to subside whilst making sure not to burn the house down, pouring a lovely sauce on it and garnishing with a twig of holly.  Alternatively, it can be microwaved (top unsealed) at 50% for 5 minutes, then left to stand for 5 minutes. Either way, the sauce is a must.

Here’s a recipe for custard sauce:

1 cup whipping cream
1/2 vanilla bean or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 medium egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar

Place cream in a heavy saucepan. Scrape seeds from the vanilla bean and add the pod. Bring the mixture to a simmer. Whisk the egg yolks and sugar in a separate bowl until blended. Gradually whisk in the hot cream mixture. Return to the saucepan and cook over a medium heat, stirring constantly, until the sauce thickens so that it thinly coats the back of a wooden spoon (170°F - about 4 minutes). Strain, cover and refrigerate until cold. For those so inclined, 2 tablespoons of brandy or cognac can be added just prior to refrigeration. Serve chilled on the hot pudding.



Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Panettone

Panettone makes excellent French toast as well as amazing bread puddings





























The lineage of this sweet, leavened bread can be traced back to Roman times. It is most associated with Milan and there are many legends about it’s development. One tells of a nobleman, Ughetto Atellani, who fell in love with Adalgisa, the daughter of a poor baker named Toni. To win Adalgisa’s heart, Ughetto disguised himself as a baker and invented a sweet bread to which he added eggs, raisins and candied orange peel. The ploy worked, according to the legend, and Leonardo da Vinci (hah!), who attended the marriage, was so impressed by the “Pan de Toni” (or Toni’s bread) that he helped spread it’s popularity. More likely, the name comes from it’s literal translation from the Italian “big bread,” because it is known for it’s tall proportions.

Here are some recipes for panettone:

http://www.marthastewart.com/352672/panettone

http://www.joepastry.com/2011/panettone-recipe/

Panettone is lightly sweet and a bit dry. It’s intended to be eaten as an accompaniment to a hot beverage such as hot chocolate, tea or coffee. It also makes excellent French toast and there are several delicious bread puddings that can be made with it. Here is our favorite pudding recipe:

Panettone Bread Pudding with Amaretto Sauce

Sauce:
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup whole milk
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup amaretto liqueur
2 teaspoons cornstarch

Bread Pudding:
1 (1-pound) loaf panettone bread, crusts trimmed, bread cut into 1-inch cubes
8 large eggs
1 1/2 cups whipping cream
2 1/2 cups whole milk
1 1/4 cups sugar

To make the sauce: Bring the cream, milk, and sugar to a boil in a heavy small saucepan over medium heat, stirring frequently. In a small bowl, mix the amaretto and cornstarch to blend and then whisk into the cream mixture. Simmer over medium-low heat until the sauce thickens, stirring constantly, about 2 minutes. Set aside and keep warm. (The amaretto sauce can be made up to 3 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Rewarm before serving.)

To make the bread pudding: Lightly butter a 13 by 9 by 2-inch baking dish. Arrange the bread cubes in the prepared dish. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, cream, milk, and sugar to blend. Pour the custard over the bread cubes, and press the bread cubes gently to submerge. Let stand for 30 minutes, occasionally pressing the bread cubes into the custard mixture. (Recipe can be prepared up to this point 2 hours ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Bake until the pudding puffs and is set in the center, about 45 minutes. Cool slightly. Spoon the bread pudding into bowls, drizzle with the warm amaretto sauce, and serve.



Monday, June 3, 2013

Lebkuchen

Lebkuchen have the indulgent blend of spices we associate with the holidays

























Spicy, nutty and sweet, lebkuchen were invented by monks in 13th century Franconia, around the present-day town of Nuremberg, Germany. In 1487, emperor Friedrich III presented children with Lebkuchen imprinted with his portrait during a gathering of the estates of his realm. Ingredients include honey, nuts and an indulgent blend of spices including anise, coriander, cloves, ginger and cardamom. Lebkuchen are often glazed with sugar or spread with a thin layer of dark chocolate. They are typically round and soft, though a harder version comes in the shape of a heart with a written inscription on top. Here are a few recipes:








































Fig Chutney

Because it is both sweet and tart, chutney can be paired with a wide variety of dishes

























Chutney, derived from the Sanskrit word “caṭnī,” denotes a wide range of relishes that originate as far back as 500BC in the India and Pakistan regions of South Asia. Made from all sorts of vegetables, fruits, herbs and spices, chutneys typically taste both sweet and tart. Fig chutney consists of figs, onions, vinegar, sugar and spices boiled down to a thickened, jam-like reduction.
































Because of their complex sweet/sour flavors, chutneys can be eaten with a number of different foods, whether as a complement to a selection of cheeses, as an accompaniment with desserts, served as a relish for meats or curries, or used simply as an appetizer. Here are a few recipes:





Sugar Plums

The original sugar plum was probably a hard-shell candy, today's recipes include dried fruits and nuts




























We know about sugar plums because of the “Nutcracker Suite” and “The Night Before Christmas,” but what exactly were sugar plums? It's difficult to find a definitive answer. Food historians tend to dismiss the idea that sugar plums were made from actual plums. The earliest sugar plums were probably a candy with a coriander or nut center coated with several layers of boiled sugar.






















Over time, “sugar plum” became a term applied to various types of candy that are approximately the size of a plum. Most modern recipes include dried fruits and nuts, held together with honey and formed into a ball. Here are a few recipes:





































We repurposed empty aluminum Illy coffee containers to hold our sugar plums. Labels can be affixed to cover the original typography on the cans and the lid can be spray painted to match the colors of the label.






Thursday, May 30, 2013

Turkish Delight

The habit-forming qualities of Turkish Delight feature in "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe"































The small cubes of gel-based confection, known in the west as Turkish Delight, were first created by Bekir Effendi who opened his confectionery shop in Constantinople (Istanbul) the year of the American revolution in 1776. The original recipe was made with honey or molasses, typically flavored with rosewater, lemon or orange. Nowadays, nuts, dates or other dried fruits are often added. A layer of powdered sugar makes the otherwise sticky candy easier to handle. The habit-forming qualities of Turkish Delight feature prominently in the children’s book “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” by C. S. Lewis.

The timing of events in the traditional recipe is a bit of a challenge. Here are a few examples:

http://mideastfood.about.com/od/dessertssweetspastries/r/turkishdelight.htm

http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Non-Evil-Turkish-Delight-51139600

This related "applet" or "cotlet" recipe uses gelatin as the thickening agent rather than the typical cornstarch, is easier to make and creates a similar irresistible jelly cube:

http://www.cooks.com/recipe/z64jb6zb/aplets-or-cotlets.html

http://www.cooks.com/recipe/6l7om2ko/cotlets.html




































Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Springerle

Springerle are simple sugar cookies with designs pressed from a mold

























Springerle cookies come from Swabia in southwest Germany and date back to the 14th century or earlier. The name means “little jumper,” probably because the dough, molded with embossed rollers or blocks, has a pop-up effect. The molds were originally carved in wood, though plastic and ceramic molds are now available. The recipe is simple, mostly flour, sugar and eggs, leavened traditionally with hartshorn salt and the cookies are often flavored by the bed of crushed anise the cookies rest on while baking. The dough is usually left to dry for a day to strengthen the crispness of the design. The molds probably originated from the stamping of sacramental bread and the oldest molds feature religious imagery. Here are a few recipes:

http://www.marthastewart.com/332892/springerle-cookies

http://www.food.com/recipe/springerle-cookies-13826

House on the Hill has a large selection of single design molds, mold blocks and rolling pin molds as well as supplies and recipes:

http://houseonthehill.net



Biscotti

Crunchy and nutty,  biscotti are the perfect complement to coffee or hot chocolate




























Biscotti, the plural form of biscotto, meaning “baked twice,” originates from the Italian town of Prato. The dough is cooked first as an oblong slab, then sliced into the distinctive quarter moon shape and baked again, resulting in a hard, dry cookie. It is normally served with a drink, such as coffee, tea or hot chocolate. The Italians also pair it with the strong, after-dinner wine called “vin santo.” This recipe adds dark chocolate to the traditional almonds. Here are a few links to recipes:

http://allrecipes.com/recipe/chocolate-biscotti/

http://www.marthastewart.com/356047/chocolate-pistachio-biscotti



Friday, May 24, 2013

Gateau Breton

Gateau Breton is a dense cake, rich with butter and eggs





























Gateau Breton originates from Brittany, the Northwest corner of France that pushes out into the Atlantic. The region was settled by the Bretons, who came from what is now Great Britain. Their celtic roots have given the region a unique cultural quality. The traditional women’s costume includes a tiered dress with elaborately embroidered bodices and dramatic lace headwear called a coiffe. Each village has it’s own distinctive and sometimes quite extravagant coiffe design. Britanny is known for it’s cider, crèpes and, of course, Gâteau Breton. Similar to pound cake or shortbread, it is rich in butter and eggs. Every village has it’s own variation of gâteau and the flavor is influenced by the type of ingredients available locally. Here are a few links to recipes:

http://www.bonjourparis.com/story/recipe-brittany-butter-cake-gateau-breton/

http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Gateau-Breton-1806



Shortbread

Shortbread is the perfect accompaniment to coffee, tea or cocoa



























During medieval times, “rusk” was a popular biscuit bread made by adding sugar and spices to yeasted bread dough and baking it twice. It was something like German Zwieback or Italian biscotti. In the 12th century, Scottish bakers began replacing the yeast with butter, which created a more crumbly (short) pastry. Mary Queen of Scots was a shortbread fiend who helped popularize it during the 16th century. Her favorite version included caraway seeds and was made by cutting a large round of shortbread into wedges. They were called “petticoat tails” because of their resemblance to fabric triangles, used to make petticoats during Queen Elizabeth’s reign. Other popular shortbread shapes include fingers, squares, and small rounds.


























The traditional 1-2-3 recipe calls for one part sugar, two parts butter and three parts oatmeal flour. Modern recipes usually replace the oatmeal flour with wheat flour. Shortbread is often baked in embossed pans adding a dimensional design to the surface. Here are a few links to recipes:


http://www.marthastewart.com/355543/great-aunt-annies-traditional-shortbread

House on the Hill has a selection of single design molds and embossed shortbread pans as well as supplies and recipes:

http://houseonthehill.net