Breakfast

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Okay, I’ll be honest. When I first picked these crabapples (the larger of the two in the bowl), I didn’t know what they were. From a distance, they looked like Rainier cherries, but a) it was September and b) there’s no way the critters would leave cherries behind on a tree. But I picked some (near my daughter’s school) and brought them home to investigate.

crabapples
A mix of different types of crabapples

I cut one open first. Hrm, kind of looked like an apple. I took a bite. Yuck! It tasted terrible. How could something so pretty taste so bad? The logical next step was to consult Twitter and Google to determine what it was and if I was going to die (side note: don't ever eat the almond inside a peach pit; it's good but poisonous in large quantities).

It became clear immediately: crabapples. They fruit this time of year and they are largely ignored by the critters. I have a crabapple tree and was familiar, but mine bears tiny fruits that I never even considered tasting. But my Google search revealed recipes for crabapple jelly. I was intrigued.

crabapple_jelly
Crabapple jelly--the finished product!

...continue reading

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I have a confession: I can't make pancakes. I've tried, I've failed, and I've given up. I can make French toast like a champ, though. I just don't do it often.

But I wanted to make something special for Father's Day this year and somewhere I saw a picture of a giant pancake. A skillet pancake. I couldn't remember where, though when time came to start planning, so I asked Twitter for some help. My friend, Tim recommended the Dutch Baby recipe from America's Test Kitchen. He'd tried it and attested to its goodness. I'm not much of a baker, so I was cautiously optimistic.

dutch_baby

But I followed the recipe (almost) exactly and it was fantastic! A Dutch Baby is like a cross between a pancake, a popover, and a custard. Three things I like very, very much. And, fortunately, I had everything on hand to make it (including an oven-proof, 12-inch skillet; but you can also use baking dishes or even a pie plate). It took about an hour of preparation (zesting the lemon and getting all the lumps out of my batter were time consumers), but it was well worth it. This is the most delicious breakfast I've ever made.

dutch_baby
Right out of the oven, it is puffy and tall like a popover.
dutch_baby
It quickly deflates. Also, mine is lopsided because my house and oven are lopsided. Baked goods tell no lies and do not forgive.

I topped my Dutch Baby with some homemade blueberry sauce, but fresh fruit and cream or whatever you'd want in a crepe would work perfectly as well.

dutch_baby
You can skip some of the citrus, but it really worked well with the blueberry sauce. Yum.

Dutch Baby
adapted from America's Test Kitchen/Cook's Country
Serves 4-6

Ingredients
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cornstarch, sifted (lumps removed)
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
1 1/4 cups milk*
1 tablespoon unsalted butter , melted and cooled
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Confectioners' sugar (optional for garnish)

*The recipe recommends skim milk for a crispier edge. I used whole milk and it was still fabulous.

Adjust oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 450 degrees. Brush the surface and edges of a large oven-proof skillet with the oil. Place the skillet on the oven rack and heat until the oil is shimmering, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine the flour, cornstarch, lemon zest, and salt in a large bowl. Whisk the eggs in another bowl until frothy and light, about 1 minute. Whisk the milk, butter, and vanilla into the eggs until incorporated. Whisk one-third of the milk mixture into the flour mixture until no lumps remain, then slowly whisk in remaining milk mixture until smooth.

Carefully pour the batter into the heated skillet and bake until edges of the Dutch Baby are deep golden brown and crisp, about 20 minutes. Transfer the skillet to a wire rack and sprinkle the Dutch Baby with confectioners’ sugar. Cut into wedges and serve.

Blueberry Sauce
adapted from My Baking Addiction

serves 4-6

2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons orange or lemon juice
2 tablespoons cornstarch, dissolved into 2 tablespoons cold water
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon orange or lemon zest

In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the blueberries, 1/2 cup of water, sugar and fruit juice. Stir frequently, and bring to a low boil.

Slowly and gently stir the corn starch mixture into the blueberries. Simmer until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 5 minutes.

Remove from heat and gently stir in vanilla and lemon zest.

Notes: This took me a while to make because I'm really bad at following recipes, so I read, read, and read again. It makes things go very slowly. Also, zesting and juicing can take a while. I'm not sure that either are necessary to make this, but I'm hesitant to try. You could probably leave out the zest easily and use bottled juice and still have a great pancake (-y thing).

Also, do NOT skip the part about sifting your cornstarch or whisking just 1/3 of the liquid into the mix because if you don't get all those cornstarch lumps out at the beginning, you will be sorry. I was.

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I'm not gonna lie. I love Red Lobster's cheddar garlic biscuits. It's been over 15 years since I've been in a Red Lobster and had a biscuit, but I remember vividly what they taste like. I even once wrote into the Recipe Finder at the Commercial Appeal asking for the recipe. And if you've ever read the (many, many available) recipes, you'll find the vast majority (including the one published in response to my query) start with Bisquick.

No-Bisquick Cheddar Garlic Biscuits

Uh, no. Not only am I now too snobby (and vegetarian) to go into a Red Lobster, I also do not keep Bisquick in my pantry. It's pointless. It's just a box containing ingredients you already have: flour, baking powder, salt and oil (or butter, as I prefer). And if you don't use it regularly, it will go bad. In particular, baking powder loses its potency over time (see this post for instructions on testing your powder) and you'll get flat, little pucks instead of fluffy biscuits.

So here's a recipe for those of us who don't have--and don't want--Bisquick in the pantry! I made these to take to a party and they were a pretty big hit (I made two-bite size biscuits). One of my friends referred to them as "sausage-less sausage balls," which I thought was pretty funny. I hope that no one was actually disappointed that they were sausage-less, though.

Sausage-less Sausage Balls!

This recipe isn't too snobby, though. I did use garlic powder. Garlic purists even frown upon pre-minced garlic in a jar; I can only imagine their opinion of garlic powder. Anyway, these are easy to make and guaranteed crowd-pleasers.

Cheddar Garlic Biscuits
yield: about three dozen mini biscuits or a dozen regular size drop biscuits

Ingredients
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon garlic powder, divided into 2 half-teaspoons
1 cup finely shredded cheddar cheese (4 ounces of chunk cheese = 8 ounces shredded)
1 stick of butter (1/2 cup), divided into 3/4 stick and 1/4 stick, both melted
1 cup milk

Combine flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, and one half-teaspoon garlic powder in a large bowl. Stir in the shredded cheese with a fork. Stir in butter and milk just until moistened. Do not overstir.

Pinch off  (or pick up with fork) desired-size amounts onto a baking sheet and cook at 450F for about 12-15 minutes (until lightly browned).

Stir in remaining half-teaspoon of garlic powder into quarter-stick of melted butter. When biscuits are done, remove from oven and brush garlic butter over the tops of biscuits.

Note: Do not overstir the batter after you've added the butter and milk! Overstirring will prevent the biscuits from rising properly, so they won't be nice and fluffy. And resist the tempation to roll them. The batter should almost be marshmallow-y fluffy. Just use a fork to scrape up the amount you want and drop it onto the baking sheet. Trust me; it was the second batch I made of these biscuits that actually made it to the party.

You can also substitute vegetable oil for the butter in the mix, but butter or a butter-flavored substitute is pretty key for the golden biscuit tops.