Blueberry Financiers

July 17th, 2019

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I love financiers.  They are little cakes shaped like gold bricks and first sold in the financial district of Paris in patisseries to moneymen with their morning espressos.  They are distinctive because of the ingredients; browned butter, almond flour, egg whites and plops of fruit.  I have made them with raspberries and even did a savory batch with ground walnuts and sage.

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Of course you need special rectangular molds to make them authentic.  Here is a source for silicone molds.  I was given some tin fluted molds by a friend. I love how pretty the financiers look with the scalloped edges.  But you can also make financiers in mini-muffin tins if you don’t want to invest in yet another pan.

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The summer has become humid with afternoon thunderstorms in our area. The only time that is pleasant on the porch is early morning before the heat and boat traffic take control.  It is a good time for a cup of coffee and one of these small treats.

BLUEBERRY FINANCIERS

6 Tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cup Almond Flour
1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
5 egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Blueberries

Preheat the oven to 400° F and butter the financier molds. Sprinkle the molds with flour, tapping away any excess. Allow the butter to melt on a low heat, wait until it turns a light brown color and begins to release a nutty scent, then remove from the heat. Mix the flour, ground almonds and confectioners’ sugar in a large bowl. Add the egg whites and the vanilla extract and combine everything well using a whisk. Add the melted butter and whisk vigorously again. Fill the moulds with the batter and place three berries on each mold. Bake the financiers for 5 minutes before lowering the heat to 350°F and allowing them to bake for another 10 minutes. Transfer the financier moulds to a wire rack and allow to cool completely. Makes 18 Financiers.

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Southern Biscuits and The James Beard Outstanding Chef Award

June 19th, 2019

Ashley Christensen James Beard 2019

I am beyond excited about the results of this year’s James Beard Awards ceremony.  The winner of Outstanding Chef of the year is Ashley Christensen of Poole’s Diner in Raleigh North Carolina. Her empire has expanded to several other restaurants in Raleigh.  We spend a lot of time in the Raleigh area because our family is there.  Eating at Poole’s Diner has been on our bucket list, but it hasn’t happened yet.  The lines are long and reservations are not taken.  We even have a kitchen connection.  Our DIL Kristen’s brother David is one of the line cooks at the restaurant.  We will make it in there one of these days.  Her other local restaurants are Death and Taxes which specializes in Wood Fired cooking, Beasley’s Chicken + Honey for fried chicken, biscuits and waffles, Chuck’s for burgers, Poole’s side Pies for Pizza and Fox Liquor Bar, a subterranean drinking den.  The chef is multi-talented.

Chef Ashley Christensen’s first restaurant, Poole’s Diner hit the mark for traditional Southern fare with a creative edge.  Her signature macaroni and cheese au gratin is the most popular item on the menu.  You can find the recipe here.

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But the reason I am thrilled by Ashley Christensen’s recognition  is because she is a good person.  There is no cheffy persona in her wheelhouse.  She has turned her celebrated life toward good works.  She was quoted as saying  “I think that philanthropy, through restaurants, will ultimately end up being my life’s work.”  She works for both the Southern Foodways Alliance and the Frankie Lemmons School for Disabled Children.  The local Stir the Pot fund raiser is also one of her projects.  Supporting her community and other chefs is what she is all about. IMG_9041

In honor of her Southern roots, I want to share this biscuit recipe that I have found to be a winner.  I could never find Ashley’s biscuit recipe on line, but I have a feeling that it might be close to this one.  The flakey layers are obvious in these biscuits.  It is important to keep the butter cold while working the biscuits.  Instead of cutting the butter into the flour, which will warm the butter, the stick of butter is frozen and then grated directly into the flour and stirred in.   Working and turning the dough a few times ensures that it is not overly handled and produces many layers.  Making these biscuits puts me in mind of Edna Lewis, Ashley Christensen and all of the Southern cooks that have made our region recognized for its creative cuisine.  Congratulations to Ashley Christensen, a North Carolina native.

FLAKEY BUTTERMILK BISCUITS

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (250g)
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter (Frozen) 
  • 3/4 cup Buttermilk

Instructions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Combine the dry ingredients.

With a box grater, grate the frozen stick of butter into the flour mixture.  Stir into mixture. Add the buttermilk and stir just until combined.

Dump the mixture onto a floured board.  Lightly flour top of dough and shape into a rectangle.  Gentle fold into thirds like a letter.  Rotate the dough 90 degrees and fold again.  Repeat several times.

Gently flatten dough to 1″ thick.  Using a 2 3/4″ biscuit cutter, cut out about 3 biscuits.  Pull dough back together and cut the remainder into biscuits.  You will get about 6 biscuits.

Place biscuits on baking sheet and bake for 12-15 minutes.  Remove from oven and brush the tops with melted butter.

PRINTABLE RECIPE

Lemon Blueberry Coffee Cake

May 23rd, 2019

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So many blueberries.  I have an abundance.  I wish I could say that I picked them or got them from a farmer, but they were for sale at my local supermarket for $1.88 a pint.  I have plans for future dishes, but the first one I made was this Lemon Blueberry Coffee Cake.  I divided the batter between three 6 inch paper disposable liners; one to eat now, one in the freezer and one to share with a friend.

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I love this recipe because of the thick batter that doesn’t allow the blueberries to sink to the bottom, the rich buttery flavor and the lightness created by the lemon zest.  The crumble topping and the lemony powdered sugar glaze enhances it all.  Perfect for breakfast with a strong cup of coffee on the deck or boathouse.

Boathouse view

Our lake is transitioning from Spring to Summer with more boats in the water, music in the air and laughter filtering out of newly re-opened lakefront cottages.

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This recipe is originally baked in a 9-inch springform pan but is easily adaptable to a 8 or 9 inch square baking pan. In my case, I had the three disposable 6-inch liners.  Here is something similar.   We are looking forward to the Memorial Day Weekend.  Let the summer begin.

LEMON BLUEBERRY COFFEE CAKE  (Barbara Bakes)

INGREDIENTS

  •  2 cups all purpose flour
  •  1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  •  1/2 teaspoon salt
  •  1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  •  1 cup sugar
  •  2 large eggs
  •  2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  •  1/2 cup whole milk
  •  1 tablespoon lemon zest
  •  2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen

CRUMB TOPPING

  •  1/2 cup sugar
  •  1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  •  3 tablespoons butter, melted

ICING

  •  1 cup powdered sugar
  •  1-2 tablespoons lemon juice (You may need more)

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350º. Spray a 9-inch springform pan with non-stick cooking spray with flour.
  2. Prepare crumb topping and set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, vanilla and milk. Mix in lemon zest. Add flour mixture and mix just until combine. Stir in blueberries.
  5. Spread batter evenly into prepared pan. Sprinkle with crumb topping.
  6. Bake at 350º for 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. About 210 degrees with an instant read thermometer.
  7. Cool 10 minutes, then run a knife around the edge and remove ring. Drizzle icing on cake. Cool completely before serving. (Unless you’re like us and would rather eat it hot even though the cake doesn’t cut as well.)

CRUMB TOPPING

In a small bowl, combine sugar, flour, and butter. Mix until mixture is crumbly.

ICING

Whisk together powdered sugar and lemon juice to create a thin glaze.

Printable Recipe

Soufflé Aux Epinards (Spinach Soufflé)

May 3rd, 2019

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The following blog post appeared 10 years ago in August of 2009.  It was an ode to Julia Childs.  I just made this spinach soufflé again this past weekend.  This time there were no mistakes.  Hope you enjoy hearing again of my travails in the kitchen.

Julia Child was my Muse. I was married in 1966. After a brief honeymoon on the shores of Lake Michigan and time spent in Gatlinburg,Tennessee, we headed for Florida where my husband would be attending graduate school. Some of my constant companions in the car on the way south were my cookbooks. I was just learning to cook and it fascinated me. When Julia Child first appeared on television I was hooked. We eventually moved to Greensboro, North Carolina and I had the opportunity to take cooking classes from Irena Chalmers who had the most enticing french cooking school and shop. I bought my first copper pan and Le Creuset braising pot from her. She taught me many of the basics of French cooking and she is still teaching today at the CIA in New York City. She was also an important mentor to me, as I am sure she was to many.  But there was always Julia. I bought Mastering the Art of French Cooking in 1971.

I have been wanting to post one of Julia’s recipes all month because of her birthday on August 15th and the release of the movie Julie and Julia, but the box containing my copy of her book was in our storage building, buried behind furniture and rugs. I finally rescued it this weekend when we brought a load of furniture home for our remodeled lower level. It was good to see it again, looking worn and stained from years of constant use.

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Last night I decided to make her spinach soufflé. I did not start it until 6:00. I had already brought the eggs and frozen spinach to room temperature. I was confident; maybe a little cocky. I loved the movie Julie and Julia, by the way. Meryl Streep and Stanley Tucci were magnetic as Julia and Paul and the scenes of 1950’s Paris were mesmerizing. I wanted the whole movie to be about them. Amy Adams as Julie did her best, but I found her character sometimes whiny and annoying. Why couldn’t she have the joie de vivre of Julia? Cooking is supposed to be fun after all. I made my white sauce, grated the cheeses, squeezed the spinach dry and separated my eggs. One of the eggs broke strangely and I got a little yolk in the egg whites in the bowl of my Kitchen Aid. “Oh well, it was just a little”, I told myself. I added the egg yolks to the spinach mixture and turned on the mixer to whip the egg whites. I whipped and whipped and they refused to froth. It became clear to me that they were never going to whip because of the bit of yolk in the mixture. Unfortunately,  I was out of eggs. By this time it was close to 7:00. The grocery store in Lake Lure is twenty minutes away, but the gas station at the bottom of the hill is close. I ran to the car and negotiated the curving road to town. The gas station store had just closed at 7:00. I banged on the door like a crazy woman and the owner opened up for me. Unfortunately he was out of eggs. I had no choice but to continue around the lake to the Ingle’s store. I got back home at about 7:45 with a carton of cold eggs. I cleaned out the bowl of the Kitchen Aid, added the egg whites one at a time after first breaking them into a small bowl ( a good tip by the way ) and started the mixer again. The eggs immediately did what they were supposed to do. I folded them into the spinach mixture and poured the whole into my souffle dish, actually my charlotte mold. I learned a trick from Ina Garten to help a soufflé puff. Run a spatula in a circle about an inch in from the edge all the way around and the center will puff. Finally I had the dish in the oven. I was exhausted and I didn’t know if the cold egg whites would hinder the soufflé from rising. I was also a little cranky. Where had I seen that before? It was a humbling experience.

The soufflé finally came out of the oven at about 8:45, fashionably late and not as tall as I would have liked, but looking and smelling delicious. As Julia would say, “Never apologize”. We dug in with gusto.

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This time I added some chopped ham to the Spinach Soufflé for our Saturday supper.  We ate at a reasonable 6:30.

SOUFFLÉ AUX EPINARDS (SPINACH SOUFFLÉ) adapted from Julia Child with touches of Ina Garten

3 Tbls unsalted butter plus more for greasing soufflé dish
3 Tbls flour
1 cup scalded milk
a pinch of nutmeg
a pinch of cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for sprinkling the dish
1/2 cup grated Swiss cheese
10 oz package of chopped spinach thawed and squeezed dry
4 egg yolks
5 egg whites
1/8 tsp cream of tartar

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Butter a 6 cup soufflé dish and sprinkle it with Parmesan cheese. Melt the butter in a heavy sauce pan and add the flour. Cook and whisk for about a minute. Add the hot milk off the heat and whisk until it is thick. Return to low heat if it does not thicken. Again off heat, add the two cheeses to the mixture. Separate the eggs in two bowls, discarding or saving one of the egg yolks. Beat the egg yolks. Slowly add the egg yolks to the cheese sauce while whisking. Add the seasoning and spinach and stir to combine.

Add the 1/8 tsp cream of tartar to the egg whites and beat them until firm and glossy peaks form. Whisk one quarter of the egg whites into the cheese sauce to lighten, and then fold in the rest. Pour into the prepared soufflé dish, then smooth the top. Draw a large circle on top with the spatula and place in the middle of the oven. Turn the temperature down to 375 degrees. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until puffed and brown. Serve immediately.

Printable Recipe

Sausage, Cheese Balls (Lower Carb)

January 30th, 2019

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With the Super Bowl approaching, I wanted to make an appetizer that my husband would enjoy on his low Carb diet.  Over Christmas I made sausage cheese balls the way most people make them with Bisquick, sausage and cheese.  We both love this old standby.  I decided to experiment with lessoning the carbs by using almond flour.  But almond flour does not have a leavening agent like Bisquick.  After several attempts, I settled on a combination of almond flour, baking powder and Bisquick.  I halved the amount of Bisquick and combined the baking powder with the almond flour for the other half of the dry ingredients.

IMG_8862I loved the results.  Another tip for mixing the ingredients is to bring the grated cheese and sausage to room temperature before mixing them together.  Then add the dry ingredients.  All of this should be done by hand.

Deland ShoppingA friend and I spent a day in DeLand, Florida, a small inland community about 20 miles from New Smyrna Beach.  It is a vibrant community with lots of shops and restaurants.  One of my favorite shops is Anna Bananas. The subheading of the shop is Recycled, Repurposed and Reclaimed.

Anna Bananas

The owners build furniture using antique elements and creative uses of old wood.

Deland Lunch

We had lunch al fresco at a delightful restaurant (BakeChop) in a spiffed up alley.  It was a warm and sunny day; one of few that we have had in Florida lately.   The BLT on sourdough bread was great, but the chickpea salad with Brussel sprout leaves, tomatoes and red onions was a real winner.  The chickpeas were crispy and the dressing light.  I will have to experiment with duplicating this take on three bean salad.

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Enjoy the Super Bowl.  Hope you give this adaptation of Sausage Cheese Balls a try.

SAUSAGE CHEESE BALLS (LOWER CARB)

1 Pound Breakfast Sausage (Hot or Mild or a combination)
8 Oz. Sharp Cheddar Cheese
1 cup Bisquick Baking Mix
1 cup Almond Flour
1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder

Grate the cheese into a large bowl and bring to room temperature.  At the same time, bring the sausage to room temperature.

While cheese and sausage are resting, combine the Bisquick, almond flour and baking powder in a small bowl.

With your hands, combine the cheese and sausage until well blended.  Add the dry ingredients and roll and squeeze until the flour is fully combined with the cheese mixture.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line baking sheet with parchment paper or use a non-stick baking sheet.

Form mixture into about 1 inch balls and line baking sheet with them.  I can get 24 balls unto the pan.  The recipe makes about 48 balls.

Bake for 15-17 minutes.

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© Penny Klett, Lake Lure Cottage Kitchen. All rights reserved.