Easter 2017

I haven’t had time to write these past two weeks- I’ve been too busy living in the moment. This year I was fortunate to experience the “High Holies” of my faith in two cultures- the jubilant evangelicalism of Palm Sunday in the Caribbean and the solemn rituals of my home parish in New York. I love them both!

I also love Easter breakfast. It is hands down my favorite meal of the year, and has been since I was a child. The centerpiece is my family’s version of Pizza Rustica. It’s a once a year treat. In Italy, Pizza Rustica is made for Easter Monday, or Pasquetta. It’s an egg, cheese and meat pie that is made as picnic fare for the day after Easter,  a day Italians spend outside enjoying family and friends. Since we do not celebrate Easter Monday here, many Italian American families make Pizza Rustica for Easter breakfast.

In addition to Pizza Rustica, there’s colored eggs, homemade cinnamon bread and fruit salad all surrounded by my collection of vintage chocolate molds and other Easter decor.

Then there’s Easter sugar cookies and delicious chocolate from my sister’s store as take home favors. All in all a pretty, fun and delicious table!

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A final note- I cook mainly vegan and enjoy doing so.  I started to help my husband control diabetes. I love vegetables and legumes!!! This meal is anything BUT vegan, yet once a year…… 🙂

 

 

 

 

Chunky Monkey Cookies

One of the more fun cookies I developed at Provisons Bake Shop was what we dubbed  “Chunky Monkey”. It speaks to comfort flavors- peanut butter, chocolate and banana, all delicious on their own but when combined they are definitely more than their individual parts! The high school senior working at the counter couldn’t get enough of them- she’d even come in on her days off to stock up!

CHUNKY MONKEY COOKIES

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup all purpose flour (5 oz)

1/3 cup quick oats (approximately 1 oz)

½ tsp salt

½ tsp baking soda

1 stick (4 oz) unsalted butter, room temperature

½ cup sugar (3 ½ oz)

½ cup brown sugar (3 ½ oz)

½ cup natural peanut butter, preferably fresh ground (4 ½ oz)

1 large egg

½ tsp pure vanilla extract (or banana extract)

1 very ripe banana, mashed

1/3 cup roasted peanuts, chopped (1 ½ oz)

¾ cup semisweet chocolate chips (4 oz)

 

METHOD:

Whisk together flour, oats, salt and baking soda. Set aside.

Thoroughly cream together the butter, sugars and peanut butter.

Add egg and vanilla. Mix until combined.

Add mashed banana, mix in lightly.

Add flour mixture and mix until just combined.

Add peanuts and chocolate chips.

Scoop onto parchment lined baking sheets.

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With wet fingertips lightly press down the dough.

Bake 10 minutes, rotate pans. If cookies are puffing up too much, gently bang pans to let out air.

Bake another 5 minutes until firm to the touch.

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Yield 3 dozen cookies using a 1 ½ tablespoon size scoop.

Enjoy!!

 

Love is in the Air – Heart Scones

I loved the holidays at my bake shop…We always created special holiday themed treats- from sugar cookies to cupcakes to breakfast treats. On Valentine’s Day you could always find a heart shaped scone for your love.

Try these- start to finish in about 1/2 hour. What could be sweeter than for your Valentine to wake up to a special breakfast or to join you for afternoon tea?

Heart Shaped Cream Scones

Heat oven to 400; yield 1 dozen 3 ”  scones

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups all purpose flour (10 oz)

1 TBS baking powder

½ tsp salt

¼ cup sugar (1 ¾ oz) (plus 1 TBS for sprinkling if not using glaze)

1 ¼ cups heavy cream

1 TBS melted butter

GLAZE: Optional

½ cup powdered sugar (2 oz)

3 TBS milk

1/4 tsp vanilla extract

1 drop of pink food coloring

METHOD:

In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, ¼ cup sugar, baking powder and salt.

Slowly add the heavy cream mixing with your scrupulously clean hand until the dough comes together and no dry particles remain. Stop adding cream as soon as the dough comes together. Depending on the weather this could take 1 cup of cream up to 1 ½ cups.

On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough 4 or 5 times.

Roll or pat the dough to about ½ inch thick.

Cut the dough with heart shaped cutters and place on parchment lined baking sheet.

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With your forefinger, lightly make an indentation in the center of each scone. This helps the dough keep its shape while baking.

Brush the dough with the melted butter.

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If not using the glaze, sprinkle the top of each scone with sugar.

Bake 14-17 minutes until lightly browned and firm to the touch.

When done and cooled, combine the glaze ingredients until smooth.

Spread glaze over each scone.

Enjoy!

Cauliflower and Kale Soup with Lentils

Brrr….it’s cold outside! So- that means it’s soup time!

This soup is sooooo good for you- cruciferous vegetables, leafy greens and legumes- what more could you want? It’s the ultimate comfort food.

INGREDIENTS:

3 TBS olive oil

1 onion, diced

3 stalks of celery, diced

2 carrots, diced

1 TBS tomato paste

1 cup crushed tomatoes

1 cup lentils

4 quarts of vegetable broth- you know, the ones you’ve made using my technique 🙂 If you don’t have vegetable broth, use water and increase the crushed tomatoes to one 14oz can.

6 cups cauliflower florets

1 bunch kale, woody stems removed, and chopped

salt and pepper to taste

METHOD:

In a large soup pot, saute the onions, carrots and celery in the olive oil until soft.

Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly for 2 minutes.

Add the crushed tomatoes and lentils and cook for another 2 minutes.img_3941

Add the broth, salt and pepper to taste . Please note the amount of salt is dependent on the sodium content of what vegetable broth you use. My homemade broth has not salt- so I use about 2-3 tsp of salt for this recipe.

Cover and cook over medium heat for 25 minutes.

Add the cauliflower and cook for 15 minutes.

Add the kale and cook uncovered for another 10 minutes or more until the vegetables and the lentils are soft.

Enjoy!!

Cranberry – Pistachio Shortbread Cookies

 It’s snowing outside – perfect time to be in the kitchen and create!!

These cookies are a snap to make and a perfect accompaniment to a nice “cuppa” tea.

My New Year’s resolution is to make sure that you hear from me more regularly- fingers crossed!! 🙂 

 

INGREDIENTS:

1 ½  cups all purpose flour (7 1/2 oz)

¼  tsp salt

12 TBS unsalted butter (6 oz), room temperature

¼  cup sugar (1 ¾  oz)

¼  cup sweetened dried cranberries ( 1 ½   oz), chopped

1/3 cup pistachios, lightly toasted (1 ¾  oz)

Sparkling sugar

METHOD:

Whisk the flour and salt, set aside.

Beat the butter and sugar together until combined.

Add the flour and salt slowly.

Fold in the cranberries and pistachios.

Roll the dough into a log about 1 ½ inches wide.

Roll the log in the sparkling sugar.

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Wrap the log in parchment or wax paper. Chill until firm.

 

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

When dough is firm, slice about 1/3 inch thick. Place on parchment lined baking sheets about 1 inch apart.

Bake 15-18 minutes until the cookies are set and very slightly golden on the edges.

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Yield about 30 cookies

Life Lessons Learned From My Son AKA Homemade Vegetable Broth

My son, Dennis is a great cook! We learn a lot from each other. He shamed me when he discovered that I was throwing away my vegetable peelings and scraps.

Homemade vegetable broth is SO SO much tastier than anything you can purchase. I feel that it has a more neutral flavor and thus doesn’t overpower and conflict with whatever your final  product is.

There’s no formal recipe but here’s the method:

Keep a freezer bag handy when cooking.

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Add to it all your vegetable peelings, cut off ends of vegetables,mushroom stems, stems from herbs, wilted lettuces, the skin from an orange, a few peppercorns.

Keep the bag in the freezer and when full- voila! You have the base for a great broth.

Put the contents in a stockpot, add maybe an onion or carrot, cover with water and bring to the boil. Boil uncovered for about an hour.

Strain the soup through a fine mesh sieve and portion into containers. Cool thoroughly and freeze until ready to use.

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