Tag-Archive for ◊ cinnamon ◊

26 Feb 2011 Chai Hot Chocolate

Snow in San Jose and San Francisco?  We all have our hopes up!  But even if it doesn’t snow, it’s going to be c-c-c-cold.  Freezing even.  On a weekend!  What great timing. Time to huddle in front of the fire with a good book, a quilt, and a cup of grown up hot chocolate, Chai Hot Chocolate.  I think you’ll like this. It’s familiar but different, and it’s a bit lighter than regular hot chocolate. A hot chocolate for grown ups! <sigh>  I enjoyed mine as I got started on my 2010 taxes…

This recipe is from my favorite Christmas Cookie Annual, Better Homes and Gardens “Christmas Cookies”, from the year 2000 (I have every issue since 1989!)

Chai Hot Chocolate

1 English tea bag
½ cup hot water
3 T. sugar
2 T. cocoa powder
2 c. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. ground nutmeg
optional: whipped cream for serving

Place tea bag in a small saucepan, pour boiling water over it, cover, and let stand for 3-5 minutes. Stir in sugar and cocoa powder. Bring the mixture to a boil. Add milk, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg and stir to blend. Heat to about 150 degrees, do not boil. Pour into 2 or 3 cups. Top with a bit of whipped cream, if desired. Sit down, relax, and enjoy!

Here’s hoping you fully enjoy your winter weekend!

31 Jan 2011 Strawberry Sandwiches

I have never seen a recipe published for this sandwich, but it’s one of my favorites (probably because it’s more like dessert than a sandwich.  I have my demons, and all of them are sweet…).  I first encountered this sandwich on the campus of San Diego State University, in the late 1970’s, then I never saw it anywhere else, except in my own kitchen. I’ve made my version a lot over the years, usually for tea (tea-the-meal, the one with finger sandwiches, scones, little cakes, and  served on fancy china).  I love tea-the-meal.  It’s a grazers delight; little bits of everything, and everything tasty and pretty. But I digress, back to the Strawberry Sandwich.  (I have never been able to spell “sandwich” without spell check…, it just doesn’t look right without another “h” in there. And I digress yet again…) With strawberries now showing up in our farmer’s markets (yes, in January!) I had a hankering for this sandwich, so I made one, or two.

Like I said, this s-a-n-d-w-h-i-c-h is a great addition to any tea, but it’s a good treat to serve at play dates (PB&J for the kids, SBS for the moms), pack for a walk or a picnic, or to pull together if someone stops by and you want to keep them around for awhile.  The trick to pulling these together at the last minute?  Keep a loaf of raisin bread in the freezer!  Pull out 2 or 4 slices when needed, by the time you get the honey and cream cheese out, the strawberries sliced, and the tea brewing, the bread will be defrosted and ready to use.  These sandwiches would also be good for a Valentine’s Day treat, or a special Mother’s Day event. My daughter had a catering gig on Sunday and I suggested this sandwich to round out a fabulous spread of finger sandwiches. This sandwich could fit in anywhere!  I really can’t understand why no one else makes it.

So, a big Thank You to the cafeteria ladies of San Diego State University for this lovely sandwich.  I hope you get your day in the sun 🙂

Strawberry Sandwich

For each sandwich:

2 slices of good quality raisin bread or cinnamon-raisin bread

approx 1T cream cheese (whatever kind you like, full fat, low fat, no fat…)

approx 1 teaspoon honey (or a little less)

3-4 strawberries, thickly sliced, rounded edges set aside for another use.

Thinly spread the cream cheese on both sides of the raisin bread.  On one side, drizzle the honey and spread evenly over the cream cheese.  On the other slice, lay thick, flat slices of strawberry.  It’s bit of a jigsaw puzzle to get them all to fit without leaving too much space between the slices, but it’s only a small puzzle, nothing intimidating.  Put the bread with honey on top of the bread with the strawberries.  For easiest slicing, flip the sandwich over.  Cut off all the crusts, and then slice as desired.  I usually get three rectangular shaped finger sandwiches from each, but in the picture above I cut in half on the diagonal.  Eat within a few hours.  The sandwich does not keep long, and definitely not overnight.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today!  If you are looking for a more savory sandwich to serve with this, check out the post for Smoked Chicken & Almond Sandwiches!

22 Jan 2011 Ina Garten’s Sour Cream Coffee Cake

I buy a lot of cookbooks and a lot of cooking magazines.  It’s a big problem.  One time I tried to cook my way through one cookbook (which is how this blog got started) so I would have to stop buying new cookbooks.  I probably made it through half the cookbook, but I kept buying magazines and “Special Interest Publications” anyway.  It’s a big, big problem…

Over time I’ve found that I usually make three recipes from each publication, sometimes more and sometimes less, and then make a judgment about the book.  Not all books pass the three recipe test, and this infuriates me.  WHY publish so-so recipes? Just in case someone might like it?  I want to yell at all cookbook authors, editors, and publishers, “Stop publishing and republishing so-so, mediocre and bad recipes!”   Just because you have a recipe with a cute name or a pretty picture doesn’t mean it has to be published!  Where’s the quality control? If a recipe is so-so, dump it and move onto the next one, or if it has potential, remake it until it’s fabulous.  Stop publishing so-so, mediocre and bad recipes!

I understand differences in tastes, I don’t make recipes I know I won’t like.   I have nothing against publishing hot and spicy recipes.  Many people like those, I’m just not going to try them.  I make recipes that sound good to me, and I expect the recipe to work and I want the recipe to taste good.  No, more than good.  I want the recipe to be fabulous, but I will settle for one step up from mediocre.  One step up from mediocre wouldn’t make me angry.  It would be an improvement! I received a huge cookbook for Christmas, which shall remain nameless.  I made three recipes.  Three bombs. Well, not bombs exactly. The recipes worked, but they weren’t as great as the descriptions made them out to be.  I had taste testers for all these recipes.  All said the food was “OK, but not great” and then started giving suggestions for improvements!  You’d think the author would have done this.  If the recipe is not GREAT, don’t publish it, even if there is a good story or a fabulous picture to go with it. The stories and the pictures are supposed to be backup for a good recipes, not to compensate for them.

I have taste testers for ALL my recipes.  I know I have pretty high standards, so I check my expectations with my friends, family, Dining For Women members, book club members, clay class classmates, quilt group friends, massage night friends, neighbors, workmen… If I don’t like something, I check to see what others think.  Most often they agree with me.  If my testers like something I don’t, I remake it and test it again on myself, and some more testers, to see what I missed.  If I rave about something, but my testers give it so-so marks, I don’t publish the recipe.  I only publish recipes I love, and recipes my taste testers love, too.

I understand differences in preferences. Not everyone likes a particular texture. Not everyone likes the same kind of brownie or spaghetti sauce, I know this. I know not everyone is going to like the same thing, but still, there are recipes published that are just NOT good.  This needs to stop.  It’s no wonder some people think they are horrible cooks.  Chances are they’ve made some attempts over the years, have tried some some fantastic sounding recipes, only to be defeated by them.  It’s not always the cook. There are just too many bad, so-so, and mediocre recipes published.  I want to tell self proclaimed bad cooks, “It’s probably not you, it’s probably the recipe”.  To be a GREAT cook, you have to have a GREAT recipe…, and there are few cookbooks out there you can trust to give you a great recipe on every page.

I’ve  found a “post worthy” recipe in the newest cookbook I bought, “All Cakes Considered” by Melissa Gray.  Melissa works at NPR, and every Monday for a year she brought a cake into the NPR office in New York. If she didn’t get good feedback, she “re-baked” the recipe until it worked! (A woman after my own heart!)  Her cookbook is the compilation of the best cakes from that one year experiment.  The first cake I baked from this book was “The Barefoot Contessa’s Sour Cream Coffee Cake” (the recipe was originally published in “Barefoot Contessa: Parties!“).  Winner, winner, winner! My son likes the two-day old leftovers so much he’s taking them back to his dorm with him, and texting his friends to expect it!

This weekend I am going to bake to more cakes from the book and then test them out on my Dining For Women group.  Stay tuned!  But until then, bake this!  It’s yummy.  Not too sweet. Classic coffee cake. Goes well with coffee.  Very well.  A nice Sunday breakfast or mid-morning snack.  Every one of my taste testers liked it. Liked it a lot. We need more recipes like this to be published and republished.

The Barefoot Contessa’s Sour Cream Coffee Cake

For Cake

  • ¾ cup unsalted butter (1 ½ sticks), at room temperature
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 ¼ cups sour cream
  • 2 ½ cups cake flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoons baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt

For Streusel

  • ¼ cup light brown sugar
  • ½ cup all purpose flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
  • ¾ cup chopped walnuts (optional)

For the Glaze

  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons real maple syrup
  1. Preheat oven to 325º.  Grease and flour a 10 inch bundt pan (or spray with Pam for Baking)
  2. Cream butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, 4 or 5 minutes.
  3. Add the eggs to the butter-sugar mixture one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  4. Stir in the sour cream and vanilla.
  5. In another bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  6. With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, stirring until just combined.
  7. Make the streusel…combine the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, salt and butter in a medium bowl.  Cut in the butter.  Mix until mixture resembles fine crumbs.  Stir in walnuts. Set aside.
  8. Spoon 1 cup of cake batter into bottom of prepared bundt pan.  Sprinkle with half of the streusel mix.  Pour in half of remaining cake batter, top with remaining streusel, and then last half of cake batter.
  9. Bake cake in preheated 325 degree oven for 50-60 minutes.
  10. Let cake cool in pan for 5 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack to cool.  Let cake cool for at least 30 minutes, and as long as overnight.
  11. In a small bowl stir the maple syrup and powdered sugar together with a fork.
  12. Drizzle glaze over top of cake.
  13. Serve.  You’ll get about 16 slices of cake.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today!  My apologies for being a bit hot winded before I got to the recipe but I do feel strongly about NOT passing on bad, so-so, or mediocre recipes. I promise only to send you GREAT recipes! Make them! Then DEFINITELY tell me what you think!

01 Dec 2010 Gingerbread Cookies (with Royal Icing)

It’s December first, time to start the Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies posting.  I should be excited!  I should be baking!  My house should be filled with the smell of molasses, peppermint, gingerbread, chocolate, butterscotch, and so on!  My counters should have piles of freshly baked cookies on them!  My freezer should be ready to received tins of stacked cookies!  But, I’m, afraid, this is not the case…

On Sunday a pipe burst under my kitchen.  On Monday the fence guy noticed it.  On Tuesday the plumber said, “It’s bad. Call an excavation company.”  The excavation company and the insurance company will be here this afternoon.  I can’t use the sink.  The wall between my kitchen and garage is going to have to be knocked down.  The money I was going to spend on butter, sugar, vanilla and flour is now going to have to multiply and pay for pumps and plumbers and pipes, oh, MY. Not sure how many cookies I am going to get baked in the next twelve days, not sure how happy I am going to be over the next twelve days. This is SO not a good thing…

BUT! I did make a head start on my Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies special.  So…, with fingers crossed, let’s get started! And let’s hope we can finish 🙂  Ready, set, BAKE!

EVERY Christmas cookie plate needs an old fashioned Gingerbread cookie.  I have been using this recipe for years.  The cookie is sturdy, bakes flat and although it has a pronounced gingerbread taste, it’s not overwhelming; kids can decorate it without it breaking, and kids will eat it without complaining! I found this recipe in a small spiral bound Christmas Cookie cookbook back in the 1980s or 1990s.  My daughter just baked 12 dozen of these cookies for two Christmas parties she’s catering.  She’s making the cookies, and the kids will decorate with royal icing and assorted candies and then take them home to their families.

If you don’t have memories of decorating and eating Gingerbread cookies from your childhood, perhaps you’d like to create that memory for the children in your life.  Start with this recipe.  It’s a good one.  If you do have memories of decorating and eating gingerbread cookies, then do the happy dance! I’m sure you are going to start, or already have started, creating the same memories for the children in your life. Use this recipe, use the recipe that your grandmother used…, just get started!  It is, after all, the beginning of the Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies!

Save this recipe; it’s not just for Christmas.  Cut the dough into pumpkins, bats, ghosts and witches… It’s perfect for Halloween!  The same pumpkin cutter, along with leaves, pilgrims and turkeys, make it a good cookie for Thanksgiving, too.  And hearts, cupids, X’s and O’s, along with pink, red and white Royal Icing, make it a very good cookie for Valentine’s day <3

Gingerbread Cookies

1 cup sugar
1 cup butter
2 eggs
1 cup light molasses
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
4 ½ cups flour

  1. Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy–at least 5 minutes.
  2. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Stir in molasses and vinegar.
  3. In another bowl stir ginger, cinnamon, baking soda and salt into flour.  Add flour mixture to butter mixture.  (Dough will be very soft)
  4. Divide dough into fourths, and place into a large Ziploc bag and place in freezer for an hour.  (I prefer to let the dough rest overnight in the refrigerator, because the dough is VERY firm, and difficult to roll when out of the freezer.) Dough can be made up to two days ahead.  When ready to bake proceed as below.
  5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  6. Gently roll dough to ¼ inch thickness.  Cut into shapes. Re-roll scraps. This recipe will make a lot of cookies, but the number depends on the size of the cookie cutters used.  I think you’ll get at least 4 dozen 3 inch cookies out of this recipe.
  7. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for ten to twelve minutes.  Remove to racks to cool.
  8. Store baked cookies in an airtight container.

Royal Icing

3 Tablespoons meringue powder (available at Michael’s, specialty baking stores and many upscale grocery stores)
1/3 cup warm water (or more, add additional water 1 Tablespoon at a time)
4 ½ cups (1 pound) powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ teaspoon cream of tartar

  1. Beat ingredients together with an electric mixer.
  2. When combined increase speed to high and beat for seven to ten minutes.  Place in decorator bag with a decorator tip.
  3. Decorate cookies!
  4. There will be a lot of Royal Icing for this cookie recipe. (Almost double the amount you’ll need).  Gingerbread cookies look good with plain white Royal Icing, but icing can also be colored with paste food coloring.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today! Hopefully we’ll be able to meet back here SOON for some more baking!

21 Nov 2010 Cinnamon Ice Cream

I had heard about cinnamon ice cream a year or so ago and was instantly intrigued.  It sounded lovely.  Odd, but lovely, and I had a feeling–foodie intuition, if I may be so bold–that Cinnamon Ice Cream would be the perfect side kick for warm apple, peach and pear pies, crisps and cobblers. It took me awhile to find a recipe because I don’t like eggs in my ice cream.  I like Philadelphia style ice cream; ice cream made with milk, cream, sugar, and flavorings only.  No eggs.  Ever. I finally found this recipe.  It looks like it’s made its rounds!  No wonder it took awhile to get to me. I found it on Erin’s Food Files , who found it in Elizabeth Faulkner’s Demolition Desserts, who saw it on the Martha Stewart Show!

I don’t think this is the right ice cream for an ice cream cone or an ice cream sundae. It’s much too rich, and it’s cinnamon. There are no chocolate chips nor caramel swirls nor candied nuts in this ice cream, just cinnamon.  Who wants that on a cone? So why do I have this ice cream pictured in a sundae glass?  LOL.  Ooops.  Sometimes I really ought to think things through!  BTW,  Ben&Jerry’s does have a Cinnamon Bun ice cream out now, so some folk might think differently than I do.  Some folk might like Cinnamon ice cream plain, in a sundae glass or on a cone.  That being said, this ice cream is magic on warm fruit and nut based desserts.  Magic.

I am pretty sure someone will be shot if there is none of this left for our Thanksgiving pies.  I made a double batch, so that had better be.

Cinnamon Ice Cream

2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup Sugar-in-the-Raw (turbinado sugar)
1/2 cup pure maple syrup (Grade B if you can find it, the taste is more assertive)
2 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon Kosher salt

Directions:

Combine the milk, sugar, maple syrup, and cinnamon in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture just begins to bubble and sugar has dissolved, 6 to 8 minutes. Add cream, vanilla, and salt; stir to combine.  Pour into a bowl and set aside to cool, stirring occasionally. Cover and transfer to refrigerator to chill thoroughly, at least 1 hour and up to overnight.

Stir mixture briefly; pour into an ice-cream maker and process according to manufacturer’s instructions. Store ice cream in a covered container in the freezer, at least 1 hour and up to 1 week.

Serve over warm fruit pie, crisp, or cobbler.

GREAT day to stop by my kitchen today!  I think this recipe is going to transform your “This is GREAT!” fall desserts into your “OHMYGOD this is INCREDIBLE!” fall desserts 🙂
Let me know the reactions from your guests!!!

31 Oct 2010 Pumpkin Spice White Hot Chocolate and Mochas

One of my daughters doesn’t drink coffee.  How she managed to grow up in this house and not drink coffee is a mystery.  She’s not into tea either.  It’s shocking!  She’s left out when the rest of us sit around enjoying the serenity and civility of  good cup of coffee (or tea, when the English relatives stay with us).  As a good Mama, I am trying out some hot chocolate recipes so she can join us for a cuppa.  Last year I found a winner in Chai Hot Chocolate.  This year, and just in time for Halloween and Thanksgiving, I have found another winner, Pumpkin Spice White Hot Chocolate, which I found posted at Good Life Eats.

Note:  I upped the cocoa powder a bit, reduced the white chocolate a bit and upped the milk a bit because I found it unbearably sweet at first.

When I tasted this concoction, it was just crying out (yes, crying out) for coffee.  So I gave it some. YES!  Beautiful!  Perfect!!!  So, not only do I have a delicious Pumpkin Spice White Hot Chocolate for my daughter, but the rest of us can enjoy Pumpkin Spice White Mochas!  (To make a mocha, combine equal parts of the base mixture and a very strongly brewed coffee–see recipe below).  YUM!

I love it when things work out like this!  Everyone in the family gets just what they like, with almost no extra work. Aaahhh, I can’t wait until they all get home and we canhave a cuppa together!  Having a cup of coffee, or a cup of tea, together is an honored ritual the world over, and for good reason.  Take the time!

Pumpkin Spice White Hot Chocolate

6 cups milk (I used 2%)
1 bag (11 ounces) white chocolate chips (Ghiradelli or Guittard, NOT Nestle)
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
1  teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup pure pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon cardamom
1/8 teaspoon allspice

In a heavy saucepan, combine 2 cups of milk, white chocolate, and cocoa powder. Cook over medium heat, whisking periodically, until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is well combined. Whisk in the pumpkin puree, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, allspice, and ginger. Add the remaining milk, 1 cup at a time, until the desired consistency is reached. Makes six servings.  Top with whipped cream, if desired.

Pumpkin Spice White Mocha

Brew some very strong coffee, 1 cup ground coffee to 4 cups water.  For each serving combine equal parts of the strong coffee and the Pumpkin Spice White Hot Chocolate from the recipe above.

Isn’t this a perfect recipe for a family to enjoy together this time of year? Thanks SO much for stopping by my kitchen today!