Real Food

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8/2/2014

Berry Coffee CakeCoffee cake seems to be the forgotten step-child of breakfast breads. Although once very popular – I personally have a file full of recipes from my newlywed days in the early 80’s – coffee cake has been eclipsed over the year by the proliferation of bagels, large, gooey muffins, and egg and sausage breakfast sandwiches.

Healthy Breakfast Bread

When the occasional coffee cake does still pop up in coffee shops, it bears little resemblance to coffee cakes of old. These newer versions are often sweet enough for dessert and topped with icing or even frosting. I don’t do frosting for breakfast, but I do still make this old-fashioned coffee cake when the berries are fresh. Who needs frosting when you can have sweet, plump blueberries and tangy raspberries?

This berry recipe, adapted from my Sinfully Good Blueberry Coffee Cake, has been tweaked to make it a bit healthier. I reduced the sugar, added raspberries, and use some whole grains to lower the glycemic index and increase the fiber content. Don’t worry though – it’s still moist and delicious. It makes the perfect treat for breakfast or afternoon tea. Yield 16 servings.

Berry Coffee Cake Recipe

1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/3 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
½ cup white whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
½ cup fresh or frozen raspberries

Topping:

1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp sugar

Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each. Add vanilla and milk and beat to combine. Add flours and baking powder. Stir to mix well. Gently fold in berries. Spoon into a greased 9 x 9 inch baking dish. Combine cinnamon and sugar. Sprinkle over the top of the cake. Bake in a preheated 350 degree Fahrenheit oven for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool before serving.

Additional Coffee Cake Recipes

Over the years MOTHER EARTH NEWS has shared a few fruit-full summertime coffee cake recipes, including this Buttermilk Coffee Cake with Plums recipe from 1975 and this Cherry Coffee Cake recipe from 1996.



8/1/2014

fudge pop

Here in Texas, and perhaps especially in my house, avocados are something we always seem to have on hand. From zesty guacamole to salads, sandwiches, and breakfast tacos, the creamy, green fruits lend their color, texture, and filling, heart-healthy fats to all manners of snacks and meals around here—and now, even to dessert.

With the heat of a Texas summer heavy in the air, I’ve been craving colder treats. So when I noticed the avocados in the bowl on my kitchen counter taking on the deep, black hue of ripeness, I dug out my ice-pop molds and got to work.

Avocados and chocolate, with their often overlooked fruity notes and subtle earthiness, have a surprising affinity for each other. The mild flavor and buttery texture of the avocado is a natural backdrop to chocolate’s more assertive presence.

I used unsweetened vanilla-flavored almond milk to thin out the mixture enough to easily pour into the molds, but coconut milk, cow’s milk, or your favorite milk-alternative should work well, too. If you use a sweetened product, you may want to slightly reduce the amount of honey you use. If you taste your mixture for sweetness, keep in mind that the frozen pops will be slightly less sweet than the unfrozen mixture, as extreme coldness mutes the sensation of sweetness.

I used Dutch-process cocoa powder, which has been treated with alkali, because that is what I had on hand. You can use natural (untreated) cocoa instead, but your fudge pops will be slightly lighter in color and slightly more acidic in flavor. 

If you want to get your chocolate fix without waiting for your ice pops to freeze, reduce the amounts honey and almond milk to generous 1/3-cups each, and dig into instant chocolate “pudding” instead. Yield 6 standard-size fudge pops.

Avocado Fudge Pops

1 large, ripe Hass avocado, peel and pit discarded
½ cup honey
1/3 cup cocoa powder (I used Dutch-process cocoa)
1 1/3 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
Pinch salt

Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until completely smooth. Distribute mixture evenly among six standard-sized ice-pop molds and freeze overnight or until completely frozen. Keep frozen until ready to serve. If needed to loosen a pop from its mold, carefully run the outside of the mold under hot water for 20-30 seconds.

Morgan Crumm is a mother, blogger, recipe-developer, and real-food advocate based in Dallas, TX. More of her work can be found at BeingTheSecretIngredient.com, a blog about food, life, and love. 



7/24/2014

Here in Michigan, cherries are in full swing. Whether you are in the southern part of the state or in the northwest where orchards and vineyards abound, you will find cherries. My favorite place to buy them is from a roadside stand out in the middle of nowhere. It is fun to stop in and talk with the people who labored to grow such an important food. They are the perfect fruit to incorporate in a variation of dishes.

Cherry crostata is a simple, delicious way to use summer’s rubies. I prefer to make my own crust, that way I can choice the best ingredients for my family and me. This recipe calls for coconut sugar, but feel free to use what best suits you.

Cherry Crostata Recipe

Cherry Crostata Recipe

Yields two 7” crostatas or one 15” crostata

Crust
2 1/2 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 tablespoon coconut sugar
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cubed
1/4 cup vegetable shortening, cold
5-6 tablespoons very cold water
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1 tablespoon coconut sugar

Filling
2 1/2 - 3 pounds fresh cherries, pitted
1 tablespoon coconut sugar

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

For the crust, in a food processor pulse flour, salt, sugar until well combined. Next, add butter and shortening and pulse until butter and shortening resemble small peas. Slowly pour in ice water and pulse until dough comes together in a ball. Be careful not to over mix. Pour onto floured surface. Shape into a flattened ball, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes.

Once the dough has cooled, roll on floured surface until it is about 14”-15” around or make two 7”.  Transfer to baking sheet.

Toss the cherries with sugar and pour onto rolled outdough, arranging them in an even layer, leaving about an inch border. Fold dough border over the outer edge of cherries. Brush dough with melted butter and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon sugar.

Bake for 50-60 minutes or until golden brown. Cool for 10-15 minutes before serving.



7/22/2014

Many, but not enough, food heritage sites are included in the US National Registry of Historic sites. One we came across recently entirely by chance, enticed along the way by farm stands overflowing with blueberries, is Whitesbog Village in New Jersey’s Pine Barrens. The coastal plain Pine Barrens of South Jersey comprise over one million sandy acres, peppered with bog lands. 

Blueberry Bush

On a late weekday afternoon, the quiet of the Village, featuring small roads built from what the locals call “sugar sand,” is compelling. It is immediately evident that teams of thoughtful dedicated volunteers from the Whitesbog Preservation Trust have labored long to keep this unique food historic site and its mission of education largely intact.

Established in the early 1900’s by Joseph J White as a “company” town dedicated to cranberry  growing, Whitesbog was the largest cranberry farm in New Jersey. Even today New Jersey is the third largest producer of cranberries in the US.

White’s daughter, Elizabeth C. White, was a plant pioneer who developed the first cultivated high bush blueberry at Whitesbog in 1916, working with USDA scientist Dr. Frederick A. Coville, a hybridization expert. Together they developed the first successful plantings derived from local varieties that had grown for millennia in the pine woods.

Visitors today can stand at their pioneering blueberry patch adjacent to the home Elizabeth White lived in all her adult life.  Her work not only produced a commercially viable blueberry, it also began the propagating, marketing and sale of blueberry bushes, an altogether new business. 

Historic Blueberry Patch

Both cranberries and blueberries thrive on acidic soils, so combining the two plants in extensive production of the two made sense.

The White family was enlightened for its time, and sought to benefit the knowledgable locals who worked hard to make the endeavor succeed.  According to the Whitesbog website, “Elizabeth devised a plan to tap this knowledge in order to locate the best possible plants in the area – in effect, to locate one bush out of 10,000 having exceptionally fine characteristics for propagation. …Only bushes having berries 5/8 inch or larger were sought. The effort was rewarded at $2.00 per bush plus the time required for relocating each plant and bringing it back. In addition, the finders enjoyed the distinction of having the bushes which they found named after them. Thus it was that the last generation of the highly skilled woodsmen-gatherers gave their names to the first cultivated blueberries.”

According to White herself, “Finally, Rube Leek of Chatsworth found a bush. I did not know it was anything special at that time and I used the full name in my notes….Coville called it the Rube which I thought was a poor name for an aristocratic bush. He finally suggested that we call it the Rubel. And the Rubel bush has really been the keystone of blueberry breeding. It is the one bush of which there are hundreds of acres planted just by divisions.”

Elizabeth White is included in the New Jersey Women’s Heritage Trail.

New Jersey apparently is among the first states to identify and officially promote the role of specific women in the state’s history.

Elizabeth White HomeToday you can visit Whitesbog, “ the village and the surrounding 3,000 acres of cranberry bogs, blueberry fields, reservoirs, sugar sand roads and Pine Barren’s forests,” every day of the year, from dawn to dusk, as their website points out, but buildings are open only for special events, tours, or by special request. 

In addition to Elizabeth White’s house, you can explore the general store, a worker’s house, a cranberry sub-station, and the agricultural museum.

Interested visitors are invited to call the office, (609) 893-4646, to schedule a special visit.

The site is part of the Brendan T. Byrne State Forest.

Photos by The Food Museum



7/21/2014
strawberry sauce

I was writing as a guest blogger for my friend Sheryl, when I came up with this idea for two strawberry sauces. These recipes resulted from the unfortunate situation of having too many strawberries, and I didn’t want to just freeze them.

The berries in question came from a local farm stand, Miller’s Bay, and are fabulous berries, so, the question became, what to do. I’d already gone the jam, shortcake, with cream, route. In a way, they ended up getting treated almost the same way tomatoes get treated around here, or applesauce: Simmered. A low, slow simmer with just sugar or apples added to the mix, comes up with a brilliant ruby red, super yummy strawberry deliciousness.

The sauces can be used over ice cream, cake, or anything that tickles your fancy, in short, anything that needs a touch of summer sunshine. In doing research for these two, I quickly realized that most recipes called for a ton of sugar, as much sugar as berry. My feeling was that all you would taste is a fruity sweetness, but not much berry. So, I set to work. What I found was that an almost than 2:1 berry to sugar ration worked pretty good, and you could even do with less sugar. It will all become clear below.

Strawberry Sauce Recipes

Strawberry Sauce Recipe 1

6 cups washed, hulled strawberries
1 ½ cups sugar
I small unpeeled apple, finely chopped
2 tbsp lemon juice

Strawberry Sauce Recipe 2

6 cups washed, hulled strawberries
1 ½ cups sugar
1 cinnamon stick
2 tbsp lemon juice
½ to 1 tsp. almond extract, depending on taste

The method for both recipes is the same. Using a large pot, place berries into pot, cutting the really large ones into chunks. Add the sugar and let them sit for about 15 minutes. Turn on the heat at low, and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes, until the juices are syrupy. Remove from heat and add lemon juice, and the almond extract (I went for the 1 tsp amount) in Recipe 2. You can also remove the cinnamon stick. Let cool. You now have the most delicious amount of strawberry heaven imaginable.

The next question could be: Which one did I like better? I really liked the almond flavor in Recipe 2, but the little bits of crunchy apple in Recipe 1 was really enjoyable too. Tough decision, but try them both and see what you think.

You can follow the adventures of Sue Van Slooten at www.SVanSlooten.com.

Helpful links:

Miller’s Bay Farm, www.MillersBayFarm.com

You can check out what Sheryl is up to at Gold & Treasure Coast SlowFood, www.SlowFoodGTC.org.



7/21/2014

Fire Roasted TomatoesTomato season is finally upon us.  You have no idea how giddy this makes me.  Yesterday I pulled off two Sungold cherries, two Jaune Flamme saladettes and who knows what the other red variety was.  I've lost track.  And my peppers are not far behind.  It's time to start thinking about salsa!  

It's easy to create a signature garden salsa of your own. While you can use raw vegetables, I find fire roasting is the key to incredibly flavorful canned salsa.  There's nothing like opening up a jar of fire roasted tomato salsa on a Polar Votex night in January to make you feel all warm and cozy.

My tried and true canned salsa recipe works for me every year.  It uses weight instead of volume for measurements.  The only rule is that you DO NOT CHANGE THE RATIO of tomatoes, peppers, onions/garlic and vinegar. This recipe has strict proportions to keep it safe for canning, as everything but the tomatoes are low acid vegetables which can harbor botulism. See the USDA's recommended ratios for canning salsa for even more information.  As long as you keep the total weight for each category of vegetables the same, and use all the 5% vinegar (no substitutes), you can vary the varieties of each produce, like more hot peppers for sweet, or cherry tomatoes for slicers.  

If you want a thick salsa, use plum or paste tomatoes. If you like a thinner salsa, use heirlooms slicers or beefsteaks.  You can also switch out tomatillos for tomatoes for a salsa verde.  Feel free to change up the types and colors of peppers, too, by mixing the sweet and the hot to suit your taste. For instance poblanos have great deep flavor, especially when roasted. Sweet red and orange peppers mixed with a few habaneros make a tasty tropical salsa. 

Fire Roasted Peppers

Fire Roasted Tomato Salsa Recipe

Ingredients

5 lbs paste tomatoes, preferably from your garden or local farmers market
2 lb mix hot & sweet peppers (adjust ratio to suit your taste)
1 lb mixed white onions with 1 head garlic (not to exceed 1 lb total)
1 cup apple cider or white vinegar (must be 5 percent acidity)
1 tbsp salt

Instructions

For extra fire roasted flavor, fire up your charcoal grill. Place the whole tomatoes, peppers, skin-on onions and the whole head of garlic on the bbq until their skins are blistered and burnt.  Flip the vegetables and grill them on the other side.

Jars of Fire Roasted Tomato Salsa

Remove from the bbq to rest until cool.  Core the tomatoes, if necessary, and remove the stems from the peppers.  Remove the peels from the onion and garlic.  Weigh the remaining ingredients, and add more raw veggies to equal the total amount required for each vegetable.  It's important to keep your ratios the same for safe acid levels.

In a food processor, blend all the roasted vegetables to desired consistency of chunkiness.  Add the puree, vinegar and salt to a pot and bring to a boil.  Lower the heat and simmer the salsa for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

While the salsa is simmering, prepare a hot water bath.  Heat pint jars and lids.  Ladle hot salsa into clean, hot pint jars, leaving 1/2” headspace.  Wipe rims and add the lids.  Process in a boiling water canner for 15 minutes at a full rolling boil. Yields 6-7 pints.



7/16/2014

FrancemoulinToday is July 14, Bastille Day, France’s Fête Nationale, so here’s a shoutout to that nation’s serious appreciation of food heritage.

Dedicated “foodies” will not be surprised to learn that France, considered by many to be the mother country of Western cuisine, is the home of more museums about food, and more initiatives to preserve food heritage traditions and sites, than any other. Food and drink matter to the French, even if they do stop off at the traiteur to pick up a moist serving of ratatouille and a creamy slab of pommes de terre dauphinoises, of a work night. Despite the inroads of fast food, and the presence of “le micro,”  the microwave, in many French kitchens, region by region and town by town, people are coming together to preserve and protect the country’s food heritage. 

“History celebrates the battlefields whereon we meet our death, but scorns to speak of the plowed fields whereby we thrive; it knows the names of the kings' bastards but cannot tell us the origin of wheat. That is the way of human folly." Jean-Henri Casimir Fabre, 1823-1915

Photo: Le Moulin de la Falaise, Batz sur Mer

Francemoulinsign

If you had a Euro for every French place name that includes moulin you would be very rich indeed. The Babylonians pumped water using windmills about 4,000 years ago but the use of wind power to grind grain came later, and may not have reached France until the 11th century. Under the creaking arms of this restored 16th century windmill, near the sea where the wind almost always blows, you can buy the freshly ground organic buckwheat flour, or ble noir, of the miller himself, Xavier Phulpin. His recipe of flour, Guerande salt, an egg and water, well stirred, makes fine galettes. Galettes are buckwheat crepes.

The sign invites families to visit, to hear “the mill turn and sing with the wind,” as it grinds flour.

From our book Gastronomie! Food Museums and Heritage Sites of France, Bunker Hill Publishing, 2006.












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