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by Heather Harris Brady

My Aunt Blanche (actually my grandmother’s cousin but that’s neither here nor there) was in her mid-90’s when she passed away earlier this year. She was a small bubbly woman who married a tall quiet man from North Carolina. Whenever they would come for summer visits she was like the Energizer bunny, no matter how hot it was, she would still make her banana pudding and other delicious and strange (to us) things.

So in memory of Aunt Blanche I decided to attempt this apple butter, something I have always loved but never got around to trying. She made it in the slow-cooker, which is genius because it can cook down slowly while you go about your business. If you start it at breakfast it should be done by dinner.

I knew we would be eating this up right away, so I made it sugarfree, sweetened with nothing but the apple cider. You can run it through a foodmill or processor at the very end if you want it super-smooth like the kind you can buy in jars. I’m sure this same method would work for other soft fruits as well, like plums, pears and peaches.

Apple Butter, Makes about four cups

  • 16 cups chopped apples, a mix of varieties is best
  • 1-1/2 cups fresh apple cider
  • 2 t. ground cinnamon

Put the chopped apples into the slow cooker and pour in the apple cider. Turn the slow cooker to high and put the lid on.


After two hours the house will smell amazing and you will have a lovely applesauce.


After four hours it will keep cooking down and getting darker. You can see how mine has reduced by over half, but that will depend on your slow cooker, they all seem to cook a little differently.


Stir in the cinnamon at six hours. After eight hours it should be really thick and dark. You should see very little liquid when you stir. I spooned it into a metal pan to cool it down quickly.


Store the apple butter in a covered container in the refrigerator and use within a week. A magical thing happens when apple butter meets homemade bread and butter, toasted or untoasted.



Three years ago: Basic Bread
Two years ago: Malakoff Torte
One year ago: Chocolate Oatmeal Caramel Bars



by Heather Harris-Brady

There were quite a few new baking likes this morning so I hope that you are all having a lovely time baking your way into spring! I apologize for the single post this week, I’ve got some lingering cold that I’m trying to fight off. Speaking of cold, if it’s still chilly where you are this manicotti is a great way to warm up. You can make the sauce while you’re at work, assemble it and have a nice pan of fresh manicotti for dinner – or, just substitute two jars of your favorite marinara for the sauce.

Baked Manicotti & World’s Easiest Marinara, Makes one 13 x 9 pan (about 10 servings)


  • Two large cans (28 oz.) San Marzano tomatoes
  • 5 T. butter
  • 1/2 onion, peeled but still intact


  • One package manicotti shells
  • 1 lb. ground turkey
  • 1/2 c. grated parmesan
  • 3/4 c. ricotta or other soft fresh cheese
  • One egg
  • 1 T. minced garlic
  • 8 oz. mozzarella

Combine all the marinara ingredients in a slow cooker. Turn it on low, cover it and come back six hours later.

Cook the shells according to package directions. While the shells are cooking make the filling.

Put a tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan and add the turkey. Cook it thoroughly. Add the garlic during the last minute.

Combine it in a bowl with the rest of the filling ingredients except the mozzarella. Stir well.


Preheat the oven to 375. Drain the shells and set up your assembly area. Discard the onion from the marinara sauce and spoon enough sauce into your pan to cover the bottom.


Stuff the shells with the turkey filling. I had a little extra filling left so I put it on top.


Cover the shells with the rest of the sauce.


Slide the pan into the oven and bake about 30 minutes, until bubbly. Put the mozzarella on top for the last few minutes.


Serve hot with a fresh salad. Refrigerate any leftovers. This keeps well and I think it’s actually better the second day.


Two years ago: Chorizo Burgers
One year ago: Dulce de leche Ice Cream Sundae


by Heather Harris Brady

There are lots of creamy tomato pasta sauces on menus out there, but it’s super-easy to make your own, requiring little more than a can of well-balanced tomatoes. I’m using San Marzano tomatoes here, but if you are loyal to another brand or type that’s between you and your saucepan. There’s also room for changing up the meat, adding other veggies, cheeses – it’s all good.

Creamy Tomato Sauce, Makes about four generous servings

  • One 28-oz. can plum tomatoes
  • 1 T. minced garlic
  • 2 T. finely chopped onion
  • 1 c. heavy cream
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 c. fresh shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 2 T. butter
  • 8 oz. uncooked fettuccine (fresh or dried)
  • Olive oil


I included two fresh spinach and feta chicken sausages, diced and 2 cups of fresh Italian baby greens.

To make the sauce:

Heat two tablespoons of olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and onion.


Stir until fragrant. Add the can of tomatoes. Fill the can half up with water and add that to the pan too.


Simmer on medium, give it a stir every now and then, and break the tomatoes up with a spoon as you go. Let it bubble away until it’s reduced by half.


Turn the heat down to low and stir in the cream.


Simmer for another 10 minutes and adjust the seasoning to taste.


At this point you can refrigerate the sauce if you’re making it ahead. To proceed, cook your pasta according to package directions.


Drain and toss it with the butter and cheese.


Heat up another tablespoon of olive oil and brown the sausage if you’re using it, then add the greens to wilt alongside.


Add the tomato sauce back to the pan.


Heat through and pour the sauce over the pasta. The cheese will melt and mix with the sauce. Serve with lots of freshly cracked black pepper.


Two years ago: Cake Cookies
One year ago: Grandma’s Chocolate Cookies


by Heather Harris Brady

I’m not gonna lie. I made this dessert entirely for the sauce, and because it would fabulous on the gingerbread from the last post, I’m posting the recipe for the sauce first. You might want to skip the frosting if you use the sauce, but hey, what you do in the privacy of your own kitchen is your business.

My son came home from a German-class field trip raving about a vanilla sauce that was on the dessert. Sure enough, I found the recipe below as vanillasosse in The German Cookbook (that’s it’s title, it has a black cover) I bought him last Christmas. To get down to brass tacks, it’s really a thin pudding, and it’s delicious.

Vanilla Sauce, Makes about three cups of sauce

  • 2 c. milk
  • One vanilla bean or 2 t. vanilla
  • 1/3 c. granulated sugar
  • 2 T. cornstarch
  • 3 egg yolks, beaten in a bowl
  • 2 egg whites

Since we’ve made puddings lots of times I’m skipping a few steps here. Warm the milk (with the vanilla bean if you’re using one) in a double boiler or over medium heat (if you’re brave and a conscientious stirrer). Stir together the sugar and cornstarch.


Whisk the sugar mixture into the milk and cook until thick. Remove the vanilla bean. Stir some of the hot, thickened milk into the egg yolks and return them to the pan, whisking all the while. Cook for another minute.


Remove from heat and quickly whisk in the vanilla (if you didn’t use the bean) and the egg whites.


(I have new bulbs in the kitchen lights and I’m still figuring out how to adjust my photos – sorry!)

Beat for two minutes, until lightened. (The hot sauce will cook the egg whites.) Pour the sauce into a shallow metal pan, press a piece of plastic wrap over the top and quickly cool it in the refrigerator until ready to serve.


I’ll post the clafouti recipe later in the week. I hope you will all have a chance to share a good meal with family and friends this week!

One year ago: Parker House Dinner Rolls


by Heather Harris Brady

Okay, so during the previous post we went over making steamed buns – today we’ll get to the filling. I used ground pork so I could get more of a patty but you could use ground chicken, ground beef or a slice of extra firm tofu – whatever suits your fancy.

If you follow this recipe you’ll have about half of your steamed rolls left over. They freeze well, so you can have a batch on hand – this filling goes together in about 15 minutes so if you have a batch in the freezer it will make a quick meal to get on the table. Otherwise, if you’re having a larger gathering, just double the quantities below.

Asian Sliders, Makes enough filling for about 10 sliders

  • One pound of ground meat (or extra firm tofu slices)
  • 1 c. baby carrots, sliced
  • 1/2 a red pepper, cut in strips
  • 1/2 c. sliced onion
  • 1 small head of baby bok choy, sliced with leaves set aside
  • 1 T. minced garlic
  • 1 T. minced ginger
  • 2 T. peanut butter
  • 3 T. low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 t. red chili paste (or to taste)
  • 10 steamed buns (previous post)

Heat a saucepan over medium high and a tablespoon of olive, peanut or sesame oil. Saute the carrots until they are crisp-tender.


Add the onion, red pepper and bok choy. Continue to saute until the pepper slices are crisp-tender.


Set vegetables aside. Add the garlic and ginger to the pan.


Followed by the ground meat.


Stir in the spices and brown the meat thoroughly.


When the meat is brown, wilt the bok choy leaves on the side.


Make the sauce: Combine the peanut butter and chili paste in a small bowl.


Stir in the soy sauce. At this point you can also add some fresh cilantro, lime juice, fish sauce, whatever.


Split the buns and spread the sauce on the bottom of each one. Then top it with some of the meat.


Add a large spoonful of veggies, ending with the bok choy leaves.


Top it off and you’re ready to serve!


One year ago: Soft Pumpkin Cookies


by Heather Harris Brady

Now moving on to the entree portion of the Italian menu I’m doing this week. I created this dish to showcase some lovely smoked chicken my father-in-law gave us. You could sub in a variety of smoked meats in place of the chicken, but the smokiness is nice with the rich, creamy sauce. I’m doing this the old-fashioned way and making the sauce right in the pan.

The pasta is up to you, here I’m using a chichi artisanal fusilli I bought at the fancy food store up the street from my office. I like fusilli because not only is it fun to say the corkscrews are great at carrying sauce and capturing toppings at the same time.

Smoked Chicken Alfredo, Four Generous Servings

  • 1/2 lb. dried pasta
  • 1/2 lb. fresh swiss chard, cut into strips (chiffonade)
  • 1-1/2 c. diced smoked chicken
  • 1/2 lb. fresh portabella or porcini mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
  • 1 t. minced garlic
  • 3/4 c. shaved Parmesan cheese
  • 3/4 c. heavy cream
  • 1/3 c. dry white wine
  • 3 T. butter
  • Fresh ground pepper to taste

Boil the pasta as directed on the package.


While the pasta is cooking, add one tablespoon of butter to another saucepan along with the mushrooms.


Saute over medium-high until the mushrooms start to release their juices. Add the swiss chard and the garlic. Continue tossing until the swiss chard is wilted and bright green, about three minutes. Add the chicken to heat through. Turn off the heat and set the pan aside.


Drain the pasta but do not rinse it. Return it to the pan over medium heat and add the butter. I usually set my pasta bowls alongside too at this point, so I have them handy.


Pour in the cream and wine, sprinkling the cheese over the top. Toss the pasta over the heat. As you toss it, the cream will warm and the cheese will melt as they combine into one glorious whole, coating each strand of pasta.



Put a serving of pasta in each bowl and top with one quarter of the chicken-mushroom mixture. Grind some fresh pepper over the top and serve hot.

One year ago: Chicken Biryani with Saffron Rice


by Heather Harris Brady

For the past few months I’ve been reading about Watson’s new vocation. The Jeopardy-playing IBM computer with no tastebuds has taken up cooking. I know.

Not only cooking, but apparently Watson has created an incredible, low-sugar, barbeque sauce based on wine and squash available for purchase. When I got over my skeptical indigation I thought – what a great idea! So before I get into my version of this recipe, let me tell you that I am also a new beta tester for the Bon Appetit Watson app. The first time I tried to log in the site was malfunctioning, but I look forward to trying it and reporting back to you. If you’re curious here’s the story.

In the meantime, here’s my take on a squash-and-wine based bbq sauce. It’s amazing on grilled chicken and roast pork, but it makes a great sauce for wraps too. If you’re having trouble wrapping your mind around this concept, think of it as less a bbq sauce and more a complex chutney perhaps.

Butternut Squash BBQ Sauce ala Watson, Makes about three cups

  • One large butternut squash
  • One bottle sweet wine (I used a moscato.)
  • One fresh red pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1/2 c. balsamic vinegar
  • 1/3 c. cider vinegar
  • 1 t. salt
  • 2 T. fresh ground ginger
  • 2 T. fresh ground horseradish
  • Ponzu to taste

Preheat the oven to 375. Wash, peel and chop the squash.


Toss it with olive oil, spread it on a roasting pan and roast until soft.


While the squash is cooking, pour the wine into saucepan and quickly reduce it by half.


Add the squash and the vinegars. Then the red pepper and onion.


Cook on medium to a thick puree, about 40 minutes. Give it a taste. If it’s too sweet add a little more vinegar.


Add the ginger, horseradish, salt and ponzu. Taste and adjust as necessary. (You could toss in some red pepper flakes too.)


You could puree this with an immersion blender for a smooth sauce, but I liked the texture so I left it.


This sauce is actually better after it sits a day in the fridge so the flavors can blend.

One year ago: Hamburger/Hot Dog Buns


by Heather Harris Brady

If you’re not blessed with hours to spend in the kitchen today you can still throw together a nice little St. Patrick’s Day dinner with this sauce and a quick stop at a deli. It’s great on its own with grilled bread for dipping, on sandwiches or a baked potato for a vegetarian option. This is a variation of my cheese fondue. I used a bottle of local Loch Ale by Arcadia Ales but any type of ale would work.

Cheddar Ale Sauce, Makes about two cups

  • One bottle dark ale
  • 1/2 lb. sharp or extra sharp cheddar cheese, cubed
  • 1/3 c. diced onion
  • 3/4 c. milk
  • 2 T. cornstarch
  • One bay leaf

Saute the onion in 1 T. of butter until soft, then add your bay leaf.


Add the milk and the cheese cubes. Stir until the cheese starts to melt.


Stir the cornstarch into one cup of the ale. Use a bright pink glass just to jazz things up.


Stir the ale into the pan.


It will be foamy at first but keep stirring constantly over low heat. In a few minutes it will all come together into a silky smooth sauce.


Serve hot with bread for dipping or – make the world’s best corned beef sandwich like so!

I caramelized some onions and simmered them in the rest of the ale. Then I put them on one side of the bun, with the corned beef and sauce on the other side.


It went off to work today with my Irish husband.


Refrigerate any leftover sauce.

One year ago: Cream Scones


by Heather Harris Brady

Somehow Chinese New Year slipped by me this winter (I was probably tunneling out from under the snow at the time), and I can’t let it go overlooked because Asian food is one of the major loves of my life. It’s pretty hard to come by in these parts, so a fair amount of the time I have to make it myself. Yes, you can buy ramen for under $1 a package, but really it’s something meant to be thoughtfully made as a tribute to the ingredients and the season. My recipe is based on one that recently appeared in Food & Wine magazine. While it’s possible to do this all with elbow grease, it’s a lot more enjoyable with a heavy-duty mixer and a pasta machine.

Homemade Ramen, Makes about six generous servings

  • 1/2 c. buckwheat flour
  • 1/2 c. rye flour
  • 3-1/2 c. high gluten flour
  • 2 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 T. plus 1 t. baking soda
  • 1 T. kosher salt
  • 2 c. water


Sprinkle the baking soda out on a piece of parchment paper or aluminum foil and bake at 275 for an hour. While the baking soda is in the oven put the buckwheat and rye flours in a non-stick skillet and toast for about four minutes, until they are fragrant.


Pour the toasted flour into the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer and add the other two flours. When the baking soda comes out of the oven combine it with the salt and water.Put the dough hook on the mixer and turn it to medium while you slowly add the water in three parts. Gradually all the flour will mix into a heavy mass. Let it mix for close to 10 minutes.


When you’re done it should look something like this:


Get out the pasta machine and divide the dough into eight parts. Flatten each ball and run it twice through each setting, folding it in thirds (like a letter) in between.


You can add a little cornstarch or flour if you need to, but use as little as possible. When the dough is smooth and a cohesive sheet, run it through again on four and then put it through the spaghetti blade.


Toss the noodles quickly with cornstarch to keep them from sticking and drop them into a plastic bag.


At this point the noodles can be refrigerated overnight or frozen for up to two weeks. To cook one batch, bring two quarts of water to a boil and drop in the noodles. Cook for four-five minutes, until they are al-dente.


For cold dipping noodles plunge them immediately from the hot water into cold water to chill.

Dipping Sauce for Cold Ramen, Two Servings

  • 1/3 c. low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/3 c. Ponzu
  • 1 T. hoisin sauce

Stir all the ingredients together and serve with cold, cooked ramen. You can toss the noodles with vegetables and nuts if you like!


One year ago: Baked Custard



by Heather Harris-Brady

Besides the tart cherry crop coming in, signs are up all over the area for fresh sweet black cherries.

cheesecakeicecream15_little_house_dunes cheesecakeicecream9_little_house_dunes

So I was thinking about ways to use them when I got a yen for cheesecake. But it was too hot for a dessert that heavy (and I had just splurged on an ice cream freezer) – so I turned the idea into ice cream instead! This is a rich creamy ice cream, tangy with cheesecake flavor, that nicely offsets the fresh cherry sauce. Plus, you get the hot/cold thing going if you have someone dish up the ice cream while you warm the sauce.

Cheesecake Ice Cream, Makes Two 1.5 qt. Batches

1 cup whole milk

2 eggs

3/4 c. granulated sugar

6 oz. whipped cream cheese

1 pint whipping cream

1/2 c. sour cream

2 t. vanilla

Combine the milk and sugar in a saucepan. Heat to just below boiling.


Beat the eggs in a bowl and pour in some of the milk. Stir well and return the egg/milk mixture to the saucepan. Cook until slightly thickened, about three-four minutes. Let cool and add the vanilla, sour cream and cream cheese.


Whisk until smooth.


Beat the whipping cream until you get nice peaks. Fold it into your cream cheese mixture.


If you have a large ice cream freezer you can probably freeze it all at once. Freeze according to the directions with your machine.




While the ice cream is freezing make the cherry sauce.

Cherries Jubilee, Makes about Three Cups

1 qt. sweet black cherries, cleaned and pitted

1/2 c. sugar

2 T. cornstarch

1/2 c. orange juice

1/2 c. water

1/4 c. brandy

Combine the cherries, orange juice and water in a saucepan. Stir the sugar and cornstarch together well, and stir it into the cherries.



Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the sauce thickens and becomes clear.


Stir in the brandy and spoon the warm sauce over the ice cream.


I realize it’s a hardship, but it’s best to eat the ice cream the same day. The longer you store it the harder it will become.



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My Favorite Movies/Shows – Food Related

  • Chef's Table (!)
  • Chocolat
  • Chef
  • Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Hundred Foot Journey
  • Ratatouille
  • Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs
  • Master Chef (NPR)
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