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by Heather Harris Brady

I used to make these when my children were small for fun things like picnics at the zoo, but I think you’ll find kids of all ages can acquire a taste for these. The body is really just a cake truffle (or a cake pop if that’s how you roll). Then they get ears from sliced almonds, eyes and a nose from mini chips and a licorice tail. I think they would be amazing if you’re looking for something different for a Cinderella or wizard-themed birthday party.

These would be a great beginner/kids in the kitchen recipe too, they’re easy and quick to make.

Chocolate Mice, Makes about one dozen 2″ long mice

  • 1 pkg. semi-sweet mini chips (you’ll have some leftover)
  • 1/2 c. heavy cream
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 2-1/4 c. crushed chocolate cookies or crumbled chocolate cake
  • 1/2 sleeve of chocolate graham crackers
  • 1/2 c. sliced almonds
  • 1 strand of peel-apart licorice, not yet peeled

Melt 1-1/3 c. of the chips over medium heat with the heavy cream.

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When the chocolate is melted and smooth remove it from the heat. Stir in the cookie crumbs and vanilla.

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Keep stirring until the crumbs absorb the chocolate and you get something that starts to look like chocolate play-doh.

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Put the chocolate mixture in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes to thoroughly chill.

Process the grahams to a fine powder.

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And arrange the rest of your ingredients in easy reach of the work surface: graham crumbs, remaining chips, almonds, licorice.

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Get your chocolate mixture and pick up a spoonful, about a heaping tablespoon. Shape it into a little body.

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Then roll it in the graham crumbs.

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Add ears and a face like so:

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Wearing glittery Halloween nailpolish while you do so is optional. Also, you can use colored chips, confectionery eyes, or melted pink chocolate to do the faces if you want to get really fancy.

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In a few minutes you’ll be commander of your own mouse army! Don’t forget the tails.

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They’re cute boxed up too.

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I love this photo because it reminds me of my favorite picture book, Frederick.

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Frederick

Have a safe and fun Halloween everyone!
One year ago: Fall Dinner, Stuffed Pork Tenderloin

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by Heather Harris Brady

So you’re probably wondering why I don’t just call this tiramisu because it looks like tiramisu right? Indeed it does my friends, and it tastes very much like it as well. However, I named it something else because, quite frankly, this is a quick and dirty version. Dessert triage if you will, something you turn to when the guests are on their way and the dessert you made is now all over the floor. Or in my case, when a recipe you’re testing didn’t turn out!

Ideally this should chill for about two hours, but if you don’t have that kind of time you’ll see my notes below.

Quick Italian Trifle, Makes about eight 1″ slices

  • One sleeve of savoiardi biscuits
  • 1 c. semi-sweet mini chips
  • 1 cup of fresh, hot, strong coffee
  • 1/2 c. whipped cream cheese
  • 2-1/2 c. milk
  • 2 T. cornstarch
  • 1/3 c. sugar
  • 2 eggs, well beaten
  • 1 pkg. unflavored gelatin, softened in 1/4 c. cold water
  • 1 T. sherry

First, make the filling. Put the milk into a shallow saucepan. Stir together the sugar and cornstarch, whisk them into the milk and put the pan on medium heat. Continue to whisk until thick, about five minutes. Whisk in the gelatin.

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Add some of the hot milk to the eggs, stir and whisk the egg mixture. Cook for another two minutes, then whisk in the sherry and the cream cheese.

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Set the pan into a larger pan of ice cubes and water to cool it down quickly while you get the next step done.

Line the bottom of a loaf pan with biscuits, breaking them as needed to cover most of the space. Spoon coffee over the biscuits, soaking them well (I used almost half a cup.). Then sprinkle them with chips.

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Pour half of the cream over the biscuits, then repeat for the next layer.

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You’ll end with a layer of cream, so crush the last two biscuits and sprinkle them over the top.

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Now slide the pan into the freezer. Take it out after an hour and put it in the refrigerator if you’re not yet ready to serve. To serve, dust your plates with cocoa powder, then slice down and through the dessert with a spatula. The first piece is always the hardest.

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There you have it! Store any leftovers in the fridge. You can cut out/back on the gelatin if you prefer a softer set. This might be a quick recipe but I’ve paid a lot more for a lot less-tasty restaurant tiramisu in my time.

One year ago: Saddle of Venison Cake

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by Heather Harris Brady

Raise your hand if you have Parisian fantasies. Okay, now leave them up if yours include Dorie Greenspan. C’mon, I know you’re out there. And it’s okay. You’re among friends. Hopefully my husband isn’t reading this because I know it isn’t the stuff of which romance novels are made, but I like to think of flying to Paris, where my new BFF Dorie meets me at the train with a hug and a slice of cake before we head out to shop for kitchenware and hit the farm market.

Then, back in her cozy kitchen we cook and debate recipe ideas. I would pull a treat out of my bag, one of her recipes I’ve made my own and she will say “browned butter, salted caramel, that’s genius of you” or something along those lines. Her FAB cookbook (Baking from my home to yours) encourages you to experiment with her recipes, plus I like to think she’s cool like that.

A bit of backstory: I’m completely addicted to these chocolate oatmeal bars sold by a shop downtown near my place of work. I can only go there once a week because I never walk out without one. And this where Dorie comes in. She has a recipe that looks much like theirs. Then, because I wanted to add my own twist, I brought the salted caramel. So as you can see, there’s a chewy oatmeal layer on the bottom, a layer of salted caramel, a layer of chocolate and more dollops of oatmeal on top. They are rich, so small squares are in order. My husband says he likes them better than the ones in town, so maybe it wouldn’t be so bad to take him to Paris with me after all ;)

Chocolate Oatmeal Caramel Bars, Makes about 36 2″ squares

For the oatmeal layer:
2½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1-1/2 c. light brown sugar
½ c. granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 cups old-fashioned oats

For the caramel layer:

1 c. granulated sugar

1/3 c. water

1 t. vinegar

1 t. coarse salt

2/3 c. heavy cream

4 T. soft butter

 

1/2 pkg. Kraft caramel bits (optional)

For the chocolate layer:
1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
8 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped (the best quality you can find)
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
¼ tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Make the caramel (there’s a step by step in the last recipe if you haven’t made it before) and set it aside to cool

Put the sticks of butter in a saucepan and heat them over medium to a light golden brown. Remove them from the heat and cool the butter completely. Then scrape the browned butter into a mixer bowl and cream it with the sugars, followed by the two eggs and vanilla.

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Beat in the remaining dry ingredients.

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Preheat the oven to 325 and lightly grease a 13×9 pan. Reserve 1-1/2 c. of the oatmeal mixture, press the rest into the bottom of the pan.

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Then spread the caramel over the oatmeal and sprinkle the caramel bits on top if you’re using them.

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Set aside while you make the chocolate topping. Heat the condensed milk and chocolate together over medium heat, stirring until smooth. Stir in the remaining ingredients. Pour the chocolate over the caramel layer.

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Then sprinkle it with chunks of the remaining oatmeal mixture.

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Bake about 30-35 minutes.

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You can eat these right away, if you want to try them when they’re extra gooey. But once they’ve set overnight the chocolate turns into a fudge and they cut into nicer slices.

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They’re amazing either way. They’ll keep up to a week covered at room temperature.

One year ago: Malakoff Torte

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by Heather Harris Brady

Sorry I missed my second post last week. Everyone was sick, even the dog.

If well-chilled this pretty cake slices neatly into three layers – a moist banana cake on the bottom with mini chips, a layer of salted caramel frosting and a thin layer of ganache on top to tie it all together. I like to bake it in a 13 x 9 pan but you could bake it in layers if you like, putting the caramel in the middle and the ganache on top instead.

Salted Caramel Banana Cake, Makes one 13″ x 9″ cake

For the cake:

  • 1 stick (1/2 c.) butter
  • 1 c. granulated sugar
  • 1/2 c. brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 1 c. mashed banana
  • 1 6 oz. container of yogurt (plain or vanilla)
  • 2-1/4 c. flour
  • 1 t. baking soda
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1 c. semisweet mini-chips

For the caramel frosting:

  • 1 c. granulated sugar
  • 1/3 c. water
  • 1 t. vinegar
  • 1 t. coarse salt
  • 2/3 c. heavy cream
  • 4 T. soft butter
  • 2-1/2 c. powdered sugar
  • 1-2 T. heavy cream

For the ganache:

  • 1 c. dark or semisweet chips
  • 1/2 c. heavy cream
  • 1 T. butter
  • 1 t. vanilla

First, the cake:

Preheat the oven to 350. Cream the butter and the sugars.

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Add the eggs and vanilla. Beat until light.

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Mash the banana well with a fork.

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Add the banana and the dry ingredients. Beat well.

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Beat in the yogurt, then the chips.

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Spread the batter in a well-greased 13 x 9 pan.

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Bake for about 25-30 minutes, until the center is firm to the touch.

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While the cake is baking make the salted caramel:

Combine the sugar, water and vinegar in a saucepan. Bring to a quick boil.

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As the syrup starts to turn a golden brown remove it from the heat.

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Quickly whisk in the cream. It will bubble and look like this:

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Stir in the salt and set the caramel aside to cool.

Beat the butter and powdered sugar together in a mixing bowl. Add the heavy cream and beat to a thick frosting. Then beat in half of your cooled caramel. (Save the other half of the caramel for drizzling over the top or on the serving plates.)

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Set the frosting aside and start the ganache:

Combine the cream and the chips in a saucepan. Whisk over medium heat until smooth. Stir in the butter and vanilla. Set it aside to cool.

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If your cake layer is now cool to the touch spread the caramel frosting over the top.

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Put it in the refrigerator until the frosting is set. Then spread the ganache on top.

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Add a sprinkle of sea salt so it’s extra pretty.

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If you don’t mind soft frosting you can store the cake on the counter. But it will slice cleaner if you keep it in the fridge.

One year ago: Chocolate Mint Cookies


 

 

 

 

 

 

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by Heather Harris Brady

Top off that cup of coffee or tea before you start this one, because it’s probably one of the longest single posts I’ve ever done. But if you haven’t worked with a brioche dough before I wanted to give you clear directions. I set out on this endeavor with the idea to make butterhorns, however, things took a turn. I was looking for something buttery but not pound-of-butter-for-30-pastries buttery.

This recipe makes a half-sheet pan of coffeecake, it also freezes well so you could bake it in two smaller pans if you like. It is also satisfying buttery yet lighter with only 1/4 lb. of butter. I based this recipe off Nick Malgieri’s brioche recipe in How to Bake. I’d highly recommend a large standing mixer with a dough hook too. But if you succeed in making this by hand you’ll be on your way to the arms of a goddess.

Brioche Coffeecake, Makes one half-sheet pan (About 24 generous servings)

  • 2 pkg. quick rise yeast
  • 1 c. warm water
  • 1-1/2 c. flour
  • Three eggs
  • 1/3 c. sugar
  • 2-3/4 c. flour
  • 1 stick of butter
  • Cinnamon sugar: 1 T. cinnamon + 3/4 c. sugar
  • Egg wash: Two eggs, beaten well in a bowl and set aside
  • One cup of 1-2-3-4 Streusel (see basics, above)
  • Simple Icing: 1 c. milk, 1 T. butter, 1 T. cream

First make a sponge by combining the first three ingredients.

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Set it aside for 30 minutes.

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Turn the sponge into your mixer bowl and add the sugar, flour and eggs. Put on the dough hook.

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Beat on medium until well mixed.

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Add the butter. The dough may separate at first but keep beating on medium.

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Keep going for at least five minutes. The finished dough should look like this:

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Set it aside until doubled in bulk. See all these lacy strands? They’re going to give us our light lacy texture.

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Punch the dough down on a well-floured countertop. I apologize for these photos. The sun comes into my kitchen at a funny angle this time of year.

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Roll it out into a large rectangle about 1/2″ thick.

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Paint it well with egg wash.

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Cover it the egg with the cinnamon sugar.

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Now fold the long sides in.

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Give the top another coat of egg wash.

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And fold it on top of itself like so:

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Time to preheat the oven to 375! Cut the roll into 1″ thick slices and lay them on a lightly greased baking sheet. They will slide around a little bit and get wonky because of the egg wash but that’s okay.

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Sprinkle the tops with streusel.

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Bake for about 25-30 minutes, until the edges are a pretty brown.

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Let the coffeecake cool while you stir up the icing. When the top is no longer warm to the touch drizzle it well with icing.

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Cut into pieces, or pull it apart, and serve!

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Lightly cover any leftovers. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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One year ago: Chocolate Almond Torte

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by Heather Harris Brady

Stateside we are all deep in the heart of football tailgating season, and these little appetizers are a yummy yet healthier alternative to the usual array of greasier fare. (But if you want something REALLY cheesy the cheese fondue at the end of this post is great with fresh apple slices.)

These cups are low in fat and you could swap out the flatbread for a gluten-free option too!  To save time you could use a cooked rotisserie chicken from the market. These are two-bite size, and the recipe is based on one from Men’s Health magazine. You can make the cups and the filling a day ahead and assemble them right before serving.

Chicken Fajita Appetizers, Makes about 36 mini appetizers

  • 1 c. steamed sweet corn, cooled
  • 1 c. cooked chicken, cut in small dice
  • 1 small can of black beans, washed
  • 3/4 c. salsa (your choice)
  • 1/2 c. non-fat sour cream
  • 1/2 c. finely shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 pkg. sundried tomato flatbread

Combine the first six ingredients in a mixing bowl, stir and refrigerate (for up to a day in advance).

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Make the cups: Preheat the oven to 400 and lightly grease a mini-muffin pan (or several if you want to do them all at once). Cut the flatbread into 2-1/2″ rounds, and press them into the pan.

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Bake for about 10-15 minutes, until crisp. Turn the cups out and cool them on racks. Store them in a ziplock bag if you’re not using them right away.

To serve, add a tablespoon of filling to each cup.

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One year ago: Cheese Fondue

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by Heather Harris Brady

This is a great bread for toast and should any of it hang around long enough to get dry it also makes incredible bread pudding. It slices nicely thick or thin. I like to rub the hot crust with butter to keep it soft and add extra flavor. My grandmother used to keep empty butter wrappers on hand for that part, they usually have just enough butter left on them!

Cinnamon Bread, Makes two small loaves or one large loaf

  • 2 c. milk or 1 c. milk/1 c. water
  • ½ c. mashed potato flakes or leftover mashed potatoes
  • 3 T. butter
  • 1 pkg. quick-rise yeast
  • 3 T. sugar
  • 1/2 c. wheat germ
  • 4-1/2 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3 T. sugar
  • 1 T. cinnamon
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 2 T. flour

Scald the milk and stir in the butter and mashed potato flakes. When the milk has cooled to lukewarm stir in the yeast and 3 T. sugar, followed by the flour. Set the dough aside to rise until doubled in bulk.

Punch the dough down and turn it out onto a floured worksurface. Knead for about five minutes, until the dough is soft and no longer sticky.

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Divide it in half.

Take one half and roll it out into a large rectangle (about 11 x 17), ½” thick.

 

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Stir the last three ingredients together in a bowl.

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Spread half of the cinnamon mixture across the dough, then roll it up like a jelly roll.

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Place it seam side down in a greased loaf pan.

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Repeat with the second half of the dough if you’re making two loaves.

Preheat the oven to 375 and let the bread rise until doubled.

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Bake for about 35-40 minutes, or until the loaves are golden brown and sound hollow when you tap the top. Take them out and rub butter over the hot crust. Let the pans sit for about five minutes.

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Turn the loaves out onto a cooling rack to cool the rest of the way.

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Wrap in plastic wrap to store.

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One year ago: Dobos Torte

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by Heather Harris Brady

Since it’s getting to be rainy cold and flu season here’s a hot dish to help ward off any flagging spirits. It’s a great dish to make your own, by adjusting the seasoning, adding herbs or cheese to the biscuits, whatever. My grandmother could really get mileage out of a stewing chicken. She’d poach it, use the stock, use some of the meat as it. Any meat leftover would get dredged in seasoned flour and crisped up in butter.

This recipe will likely leave you with some extra chicken and a few extra plain biscuits, do with them what you will. In any case, dishes don’t get more comforting than this one.

Farmhouse Chicken and Biscuits, Six generous servings

  • One whole stewing chicken, about two pounds
  • One cup of baby carrots
  • Three potatoes, peeled and diced
  • ½ a medium onion, finely diced
  • 3 c. chicken stock
  • 2 T. cornstarch stirred into 1/3 c. dry cooking sherry
  • Seasonings to taste: bay leaves, cracked black pepper, etc.
  • 1-3/4 c. regular all-purpose flour
  • 2 t. baking powder
  • 4 T. butter
  • 2/3 c. milk

Poach the chicken. I find a crockpot works amazingly well. Wash the chicken and remove any giblets. Place the chicken in the crockpot with one cup of water, cover and cook on low about four hours.

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The chicken is done when the breast meat pulls easily from the bone.

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At some point while the chicken is poaching boil the potatoes until they are crisp-tender, repeat with the carrots. Rinse them under cold water, drain and set them aside. (You can cook them in stock if you want too.)

Separate the chicken, reserving any stock from the crockpot.

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Add one tablespoon of olive oil to a saucepan and saute the onion until soft.

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Add the stock from the crockpot and as much as additional as you need to bring it to three cups. Just eye-ball it, doesn’t need to be exact. Add the bay leaf and seasonings, simmer for about five minutes. Add the cornstarch mixture to the pan and whisk until thickened.

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Set aside and preheat the oven to 375.

Lightly grease a three-quart casserole dish and line the bottom with the potatoes, followed by the carrots.

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Dice the poached chicken to cover the vegetables and pour the thickened stock over the top.

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Set the dish aside while you make the biscuits.

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Combine the flour and baking powder, then cut in the butter. Stir in the milk quickly, turn it out onto a floured work surface and knead it for five-six quick turns. Roll it out to ½” thick and cut into rounds. You can reroll the extras.

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Gently lay the rounds on top of the casserole to cover it completely and set the casserole dish on a baking sheet just in case it bubbles over.

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You can put any extra biscuits on the sheet too.

Slide the casserole into the oven and bake for about 25 minutes, until the biscuits are brown on top and the sauce is bubbling.

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Serve hot. Store any leftovers in the refrigerator.

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One year ago: Cream Cheese Coffeecake

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by Heather Harris Brady

I fear these are the season’s last peaches even though I’m not ready to say goodbye. The only thing I could do was send them off in grand style, in this peach upside-down cake. I’ve tinkered with several recipes to come up with this one. The result is a light, yet silky cake topped with a tender peaches in a lovely brown-sugar sauce that runs down the side in a pretty way. Use the deepest dish you have for this one. I used a glass pie dish so you could see it come out of the oven, but you want something about 3″ deep.

The mixing method is unorthodox, but it works out.

Peach Upside Down Cake, Makes one 9″ deep-dish cake

Cake:

  • 1 -1/2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 t. baking powder
  • 1/2 t. baking soda
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 6 T. soft butter
  • 3/4 c. granulated sugar
  • 1 t. vanilla extract
  • 1 t. almond extract
  • 2 eggs at room temperature
  • 3/4 c. nonfat plain yogurt

Topping:

  • Four-five ripe peaches
  • 1 T. lemon juice
  • 3 T. butter
  • 2/3 c. packed light brown sugar

Clean and slice the peaches, toss them with the lemon juice and set aside. Preheat the oven to 350.

Combine the first six cake ingredients in a mixing bowl and blend to coarse crumbs.

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Beat the eggs with the extracts and add them to batter along with the yogurt. Beat on high for two minutes, to a thick creamy batter.

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Grease your baking dish and line the bottom with the peaches. Take time to make them pretty, since it’s going to show!

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I put some cinnamon on at this point, ’cause that’s how I do. But you can skip it if you want.

Make the topping: heat the butter and brown sugar over medium, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Pour it over the peaches in the dish.

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Top it with the cake batter.

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Bake for about 35-40 minutes, until the cake is firm in the center.

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There might be little cracks where the sauce and peaches have marbled through.

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While the cake is still warm, flip it out onto a serving plate – with AUTHORITY. Show it who’s boss.

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Serve warm or at room temperature. This cake cuts into pretty slices.

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Store leftovers lightly covered in the fridge.

One year ago: Heirloom Tomato Pizza

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by Heather Harris Brady

We had some colds in the house over the past few days so major comfort food was in order. We’ve done apple pie, so I was looking for a twist on that idea when I found this. It was just what the chef-doctor ordered. In Dorie Greenspan’s Baking cookbook, one of my go-to’s, it’s called Russian Grandmother’s Apple Pie. With its sugar-cookie style crust in place of the traditional pie crust, it bakes up into a cuddly cakey-pie. I like to use a blend of apples in pies, here I used Ginger Gold and Macintosh fresh from the local farm market. Ms. Greenspan recommends making the dough ahead of time. I made mine one day ahead. I think you could get away with a quick chill in the freezer for a few hours if you’re pressed for time.

Apple Pie Babushka, Makes one deep dish 9″ pie

One stick of unsalted butter
1/2 c. sugar
One large egg
1-1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 T. lemon juice
3 1/4 to 3 1/2 c. all-purpose flour plus additional as needed
5 medium apples
1/4 c. sugar
1-1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

2 T. flour

Cream the butter and sugar, beat in the egg, then the baking powder and salt.

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Add half the flour, the lemon juice and then the rest of the flour.

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Shape the dough into a disc and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill. When you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 375. Flour a work surface WELL, and break off about two-thirds of the dough.

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Roll it out and fit it into your pie pan. Don’t be afraid to use a lot of flour on the counter. I did.

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Pat it even if need be. Put it in the refrigerator while you do the apples.

Peel and slice the apples, toss them with the cinnamon, sugar and flour.

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Pile them into the crust. I try to arrange them so they are dense, minimizing any large gaps.

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Roll out the remaining dough and cover the pie. It will be thin and there will probably be holes but again, that’s okay! Just bake it for about 65 minutes, until the apples are tender all the way through.

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See? The holes in the top make it pretty!

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Serve warm or cool. It should slice neatly.

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Store leftovers in the refrigerator, lightly covered.

One year ago: Peach Melba Pie, with a Lattice Crust

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October 2014
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