Sunday, January 25, 2009

Peanut Butter and Jelly Pancakes

One of my favorite meals as a kid was a grilled peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Our Grammy made these for us kids quite often and would always use her homemade blackberry jam. The blackberries were always from Oregon, which are quite arguably the best blackberries you will find anywhere. Living in DC, I don't have access to Oregon Blackberries, nor do I have the skill or knowledge to make homemade jam (anyone have some advice on how to get started with homemade jam making?) Every once in a while I will still make grilled PB and J sandwiches, if you have never had one i highly recommend it. This morning I was rummaging around the cupboards trying to think of something to make for breakfast: how about PB and J pancakes?

makes about 8-10 pancakes

1 1/2 cup flour
2 Tbs and 2 tsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 egg
1 Tbs vegetable oil
1 1/4 cup water
1/2 cup peanut butter (I used crunchy)
1/2 cup jam or jelly of your choice


Measure out peanut butter into a medium bowl. Pour 1 1/4 cup boiling water over peanut butter and slowly stir until peanut butter dissolves. Add egg and oil and whisk well. Measure out dry ingredients on top of the peanut butter mixture, and mix dry ingredients together, then stir into the peanut butter mixture just until barely blended. Swirl in the jam or jelly, but do not completely incorporate, you want to keep the jam in swirls as much as possible:
If the jam or jelly you are using is too stiff, you may want to heat it up a little in the microwave or mix it with a little bit of hot water before swirling it in. Let batter sit for 5 minutes.

Lightly oil a large griddle or skillet and place on medium low heat.

You can tell if your skillet or griddle is hot enough by flicking a drop or two of water on its surface. The water should skitter around and quickly evaporate if the pan is hot enough.

Roughly measure out 1/4 cup batter onto hot skillet and cook pancake for about 1 1/2 - 2 minutes on each side. Turn when bubbles form and continue cooking until golden brown.

Serve immediately topped with jelly or keep warm on a baking sheet in a 200° F oven until all pancakes are cooked. You can also top with maple syrup and butter if you prefer.

This is a great breakfast to make with kids! (just be careful when handling boiling water of course). Goes well with a side of bacon or fried egg.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inaugural Recipes: Cherry Chutney and Apple Cake

Happy Inauguration Week, y'all!

Inspired by the official inauguration luncheon menu, we marked the occasion with a special dinner of our own. Instead of duck, we had chicken breast topped with the cherry chutney; instead of an apple sponge cake, I baked Grammy's fresh apple cake, and we enjoyed it topped with whipped cream. No pictures today, but recipes for the cherry chutney and apple cake are posted below.

First, the cherry chutney: the list of ingredients is a bit long, but most ingredients are basic. The only special ingredients I needed to pick up from the store were the cherries and the golden raisins. I'm sure regular raisins would be equally as flavorful, if not as colorful. I made very few changes to the original recipe. Instead of shallots, I used the white parts of scallions, and instead of tarragon or chives, I used the green parts of said scallions. The official recipe mentions tomato paste, but I used a fresh, chopped tomato. The end result was fantastic. In Oscar's words, "Sweet, spicy, and delicious!"

Now, about Grammy's apple cake: I've posted the recipe exactly as she wrote it out for me in her own handwriting, many years ago. Her recipe indicates the cake should be baked in a 13x9" pan, but I always remember Grammy using loaf pans. Thus, as a child, I thought of it more like bread than cake. However, the recipe calls for plenty of sugar, butter, and white flour; clearly, it is cake, not bread. Today, I baked the batter in two loaf pans. One cake was devoured tonight, and the other goes in the freezer to enjoy another day.

And finally, the recipes...

Cherry Chutney

1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tbsp chopped scallions, white parts only
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp hot red pepper flakes
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 medium tomato, de-seeded and chopped
1/4 cup red wine
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 can Oregon brand Bing cherries, drained and quartered
1/2 cup golden raisins
1 tbsp chopped scallions, green parts only

Heat oil over medium heat, then add onion, garlic, and white scallions; cook and stir until soft and golden. Add chopped tomato, black pepper, cumin, red pepper flakes, and 1/4 tsp salt; cook for about a minute. Add bell pepper and cook until softened, reducing heat if necessary. Stir in wine, vinegar, an sugar; simmer about 5 minutes. Stir in mustard, half of the cherries, and remaining 1/2 tsp salt (or to taste); simmer 1 minute. If desired, remove 1/4 cup of mixture to a blender and puree until very smooth and reserve for glazing meat or poultry. Finish the chutney by adding the remaining cherries, the raisins, and the chopped green scallions.

Grammy's Apple Cake

2 cups sugar
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp salt
4 cups grated or chopped apples
1/2 cup nuts
1/2 cup softened butter
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 325F degrees. Sift dry ingredients into a large bowl. Add remaining ingredients and beat just until combined (the batter will be thick). Turn batter into a greased 13x9" pan and bake for about one hour.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Chocolate Chip and Molasses Quick Bread

OK, let me confess something to you all. I had the best of intentions this holiday season and was going to send all of my near and dear loved ones a homemade gift this year. It wasn't going to be anything fancy, but the busyness of the season got the better of me. Maybe next year...

Anyway, the basic idea of what I was going to make was a "bread in a jar." I bought a bunch of glass mason jars and was planning on layering all of the dry ingredients in the jar so it would look kind of like those glass jars with different colors of sand layered in. I would then print out the directions on a pretty card and tie it to the neck of the jar with some ribbon.

I did however, get around to making the bread to test out the recipe. The recipe calls for oatmeal, molasses, chocolate chips, and pecans but the best thing about this recipe is you can mix and match the ingredients to your liking. Say for instance, if you really like the combination of dried cherries and chocolate and you do not like nuts, you could do that instead. If you don't like molasses, substitute brown sugar.

Chocolate Chip and Molasses Quick Bread:
adapted from Sunset Magazine

2 cups flour
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup white sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 cup miniature chocolate chips
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup molasses
1 1/2 cup buttermilk
2 eggs
1/4 cup melted butter

In a large bowl, quickly mix together dry ingredients. In a small bowl, mix together buttermilk, eggs, butter and molasses. Stir wet mixture into dry mixture just until barely moistened (batter will be lumpy). Now mix in the chocolate chips and pecans (or whatever you want), but be careful not to over mix.

Scrape batter into a non-stick 9 by 5 loaf pan and bake for about 50 minutes at 350F. You will know when its done when inserting a wooden skewer in the middle comes out clean.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Herbed Pork Stew with Mushrooms and Carrot Greens

We enjoyed this stew on a recent Sunday afternoon, when everyone was lazing around all day with the sniffles and sneezes.

Carrot greens, surprise surprise, taste quite carrot-y. I used just the greens in this stew, and the carrots in a rice dish later in the week, but I'm sure it would be extra tasty to chop the carrots and add them along with the mushrooms.

And for those of you who know I don't eat mushrooms: they show up in our local box delivery every now and then, so I use them. Oscar loves them; I pick them out. That's one reason they are whole in this recipe - easy for me to remove, but big bites of mushroom-y goodness for Oscar to enjoy.

Herbed Pork Stew with Mushrooms and Carrot Greens


2 1/2 lbs pork loin roast, cubed
2-3 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
7 cloves of garlic, as as many as you can stand
3 tbsp flour
salt and pepper
12 oz. beer (I used a bottle of Shiner Light, which is really the only light beer I would recommend; otherwise, just use your favorite regular beer)
1 bunch of carrot greens
A few sprigs each of fresh sage and rosemary
12-15 crimini mushrooms
1/4 cup pitted kalamata olives, quartered lengthwise
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce, or to taste

Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat and add the pork in an even layer. As the meat begins to sear, chop the onions and garlic, throw them in the pot and give everything a stir. Once the pork has browned, sprinkle the flour and salt and pepper over the top and mix in. Add the beer, stir around, and then add enough water to cover the meat, letting the mixture come to a simmer.

While the stew is simmering, take a few sprigs of the carrot greens and use kitchen twine to tie them in a bundle with the sage and rosemary, and add the herb bundle to the stew.

Clean the mushrooms and add them whole (you can cut the large ones in half, if desired) to the stew, along with the kalamata olives.

Let the stew simmer slowly for at least 2 hours, or more, adding water as necessary to keep everything submerged.

Just before serving, chop the remaining carrot greens. Remove the herb bundle from the soup (most of the rosemary needles should have dropped off into the stew by now, which is fine), discard, and then stir in the freshly chopped greens. Add Worcestershire sauce to taste, and adjust salt and pepper as necessary. Serve!

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