Real Food
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Burrata: A Homemade Cheese Appetizer from Trixie’s for Any Holiday

burrata served at trixies

We love our cheese. We’re from Wisconsin. On a recent food travel trip to Door County, we snuggled in for an amazing farm-to-table dinner at Trixie’s in Ephriam. While all the dishes delighted and impressed, we couldn’t refuse the opportunity to share their recipe for burrata, an appetizer made with fresh mozzarella and cream.

In Italian, burrata translates to “buttery,” so you know this dish is indulgent. The outside of the burrata is solid mozzarella formed into a pouch, filled inside with a soft and creamy soft cheese mixture. For those who already make their own mozzarella cheese, this recipe is perfect for the Christmas holidays, New Year celebrations or if you want to take your Super Bowl party up a major notch.

“We knew we needed to find a way to put cheese on the menu in a distinctive way, this being a wine bar in Wisconsin,” beams Sarah Holmes, owner and manager of Trixie’s. “Burrata seemed like the most obvious choice. You don’t see it on a lot of menus in the area and it’s something very special we knew we could make using products from our home state. Burrata fits in just right because it’s soft and pillowy, kind of like Trixie’s. Burrata pairs well with gremolata, olive oil and balsamic, grape must or chutney.”

Trixie’s is also a part of the national phenomenon of farmers-turned-chefs. Who knows the ingredients on a menu better than the farmers who grow them? While starting out as farmers, Chefs Matt Chambas and Erin Murphy are now the masters in Trixie’s kitchen, creating a fusion of Midwestern flavors alongside Asian, Israeli and Greek dishes. From miso ramen to saganaki, wontons to couscous, there’s a creative and tasty dish for everyone here.

“Our restaurants were founded on the idea that they would source local ingredients whenever possible and would keep sustainability at the forefront,” says Holmes, who is also co-owner, with her husband Mike Holmes, of the Wickman House. “We met Matt and Erin six years ago when they were roommates at a hobby farm we used to call Mink River Farms. Neither of them are from Door County but they both were drawn here by the opportunity to be part farmer, part chef. They both spend their days off foraging the county for mushrooms, ramps, spruce tips, and flowers. They both played a huge role in the development of the Wickman House gardens which supply both restaurants with produce.”

In high season, Trixie’s and Wickman House are 90% local, with the majority coming right from the backyard garden of Wickman House. “Here you have real relationships with the people that grow the food you serve and it’s very exciting to be a part of the process,” adds Holmes. “Our staff find it easy to get behind the products they sell because they literally know the people who grow and harvest the ingredients in the dishes they present. Some of our trusted growers and purveyors are Waseda Farms, Healthy Ridge Farms, Hidden Acres Farms, Cold Climate Farms, Henriksen Fishery, and Door County Creamery.”

For their fresh curd for the burrata, they turn to Grande Cheese, located in Lorima, Wisconsin. “We don't make it ourselves because we can't use raw milk in a restaurant, but it isn't difficult,” explains Holmes. “You could eat the burrata with crackers or anything you like. We like a spongey bread like focaccia. The gremolata brings a nice acidity and brightness to the dish.”

Burrata with Confit Tomatoes and Gremolata Vinaigrette

Courtesy of Trixie’s

Yield: 12 – 14 servings

Ingredients for Burrata:

10 lbs. fresh mozzarella curd (fresh curd whole milk mozzarella)
3 quarts heavy whipping cream
3 tbsp sea salt
lemon zest to taste
5 cherry tomatoes

Ingredients for Gremolata:

bunch Italian flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
bunch basil, finely chopped
1 tbsp rosemary, finely chopped
1 lemon, zest
½ tbsp red pepper flakes
3 cloves garlic, grated
¼ cup olive oil
1 ½ tsp sea salt

Directions:

For the Burrata Filling:

Take half of the mozzarella curd and blend it until the texture becomes somewhere in between cottage cheese and ricotta. Add blended curd into a mixing bowl and mix in roughly three quarts of heavy whipping cream until mixture becomes smooth and even. Add in three tablespoons of sea salt and mix thoroughly. To make it easier on yourself, you can use store bought ricotta as a replacement for the burrata filling.

For the Burrata Outer Layer:

1. In a large pot, bring 4 quarts of water to 190 degrees and add the remaining 5 lbs. of cheese curd.

2. Set stovetop burner to low and warm water and curd until the curd becomes softly melted.

3. Once cheese is soft enough to stretch, rip off a handful and stretch it out 3 to 4 times until the cheese stretches with ease. Take that cheese and form a ball and press down on a flat surface creating a disk.

4. Press flattened cheese into a 4-ounce ramekin, allowing the cheese to drape over the outside walls of the ramekin.

5. Fill ramekin with 2 ounces of filling.

6. Pinch the cheese closed with an accordion fold and finish sealing by wrapping it with cooking twine.

7. Place finished burrata into a container of water, completely submerged, for storage.

For the Gremolata Vinaigrette:

Prepare theinaigrette by combining Italian flat leaf parsley and basil. Add rosemary, zest of 2 lemons, red pepper flakes and garlic. Mix together and cover completely with olive oil and add sea salt. Set aside.

For the Tomatoes:

Oven dry small tomatoes for 3 hours at 250 degrees. Set aside.

Serving Burrata:

When ready to serve, cut off the excess cheese just above the string. Place onto a plate. The burrata will appear to be a perfect cheese ball. Top it off with some fleur de sel (a hand-harvested sea salt with a particular crunch and light taste), freshly cracked pepper, and lemon zest, as well as the Gremolata Vinaigrette. Arrange the tomatoes around the burrata.

Lisa Kivirist, with her husband and photographer, John D. Ivanko, have co-authored Rural Renaissance, Homemade for Sale, the award-winning ECOpreneuring and Farmstead Chef cookbook along with operating Inn Serendipity B&B and Farm, completely powered by the wind and sun. Both are speakers at the Mother Earth News Fairs. Kivirist also authored Soil Sisters. As a writer, Kivirist contributes to Mother Earth News, most recently, 9 Strategies for Self-Sufficient Living. They live on a farm in southwestern Wisconsin with their son Liam, millions of ladybugs and a 10 kW Bergey wind turbine. Read all of Lisa's MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

5 Steps for Hosting a Christmas Holiday Cookie Swap

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Deck the halls with sprinkles! There’s nothing like a cookie swap to bring out the best of the holiday season. Gather with kindred baking spirits who get excited about frosting and family heirloom recipes and trade goods so everyone goes home with a deliciously diverse assortment of cookies that would take forever to bake all on your own. Does anything epitomize community cooperation and peace on earth more than this sugar-coated bliss? 



For the past four years, we have helped host a classic cookie swap via our local Wisconsin Farmers Union chapter, which quickly evolved into a fun and festive community tradition.  Here are five key steps and some tips we learned along the way for hosting your own.


1. Gather Cookie Bakers


In order to pull off a successful cookie swap, you need a committed, core group of enthusiastic bakers. A dozen bakers is a good number to aim for as it will create a sweet diversity of cookies to swap.  We always leave the invitation open to anyone who would like to come, even if they are not bakers.  There is plenty of socializing and sampling.  Lots of our local farmer friends attended, all ready to kick back after the busy harvest and connect with old and new friends.


We ask each baker to bring about five dozen cookies, adding up to plenty of bounty for both sampling and swapping.  It always amazes us on the variety and flavors of cookies that folks bake, from holiday classics like shortbread decorated cut-outs to unique family recipes.


We all gather at an official start time of 6 p.m. to chat and taste, and then start the swap at 7 p.m. In addition to bringing cookies, let folks know ahead of time to bring extra containers to take home their treats.  We do encourage gluten free bakers to participate and dedicate a separate table for those treats.

groupCookieSwap_5056

 

2. Identify, Showcase and Sample Cookies


As bakers arrive, we give everyone an identification card to write in the name of their cookie, key ingredients and any story or background they would like to share about their treat. This helps identify food allergies and also brings out lots of fun stories, such as how some of the ingredients were raised in one’s garden or a funny family-recipe history.


The first hour of the event, from 6 to 7 pm, is dedicated to sampling and socializing. With so many cookies to sample and everyone wanting to try everything but not necessarily commit to a whole cookie, we make it official that you could break off pieces of a cookie to try — with clean hands, of course.


3. Involve the Kids


The kids informally ran a “cookie contest” where they enthusiastically sampled each one.  Right before we officially started the swap, the kids gave out cookie awards for fun in categories like “Just like Grandma’s,” “Best Decorated” and “Most Unique Flavor.”


4. Swap



As a first round of exchanging, swappers take about six of each cookie. This ensures everyone had a selection fo each cookie. After that, folks could go back and take more of their favorites (and keep sampling!) until everything was gone.
 
A large, deep container works best for your take-home cookies. Folks hopefully bring tins and containers for their take-home bounty and we had some extra paper plates and foil in case they were needed.
When we got home, we found it helpful to sort and better organize the cookies into smaller containers right away, grouping things like crispy cookies together (to keep the crunch) and packing delicate varietals more carefully.

5. Share the Cookie Abundance


As farmers and homesteaders, we’re always sharing our abundance and a cookie swap is no different. One tradition along those lines we now do at our swap is to have available “community share” boxes, small empty decorative boxes that folks can use to fill with a small sample of cookies that they then share with someone not able to attend, perhaps a neighbor senior shut-in.  We’ve learned a cookie swap goes way beyond the practical note of efficient baking:  We’re connecting with each other.


Did you sample a cookie that quickly made you say, “This is so good you should sell this”?  By all means, tell that person and encourage them to consider launching their own cookie business out of their home kitchen under your state’s cottage food law. Our Homemade for Sale book will give them a jump-start on the business start-up side.  Let them know you will be their first customer and ring in the new year with a new business from your homestead.

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Lisa Kivirist, with her husband and photographer, John D. Ivanko, have co-authored Rural Renaissance, Homemade for Sale, the award-winning ECOpreneuring and Farmstead Chef cookbook along with operating Inn Serendipity B&B and Farm, completely powered by the wind and sun. Both are speakers at the Mother Earth News Fairs. Kivirist also authored Soil Sisters. As a writer, Kivirist contributes to Mother Earth News, most recently, “9 Strategies for Self-Sufficient Living”. They live on a farm in southwestern Wisconsin with their son Liam, millions of ladybugs and a 10 kW Bergey wind turbine. Read all of Lisa's MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

Making Chestnut Flour from Foraged Chestnuts

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Chestnuts are one of my favorite foraging foods. The chestnut we have is the Chinese chestnut as most of the American chestnut trees were wiped out many years ago. Here in my area, Western North Carolina, the chestnut burs/nuts start falling around the first week in September.

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The reason I try to watch for the first fall is that you want to get the chestnuts as soon as they start falling. Otherwise, they can become wormy. I try to pick the chestnuts up at least once per day. If they stay on the ground and become wet they can "sour" in the shell. You want to process your chestnuts as soon as possible don't let them sit around. You can roast, boil, make chestnut flour (gluten-free), chestnut butter and/or freeze.

You may find "green" burs with the chestnuts still inside. Be careful when handling they can really hurt (you may want to wear gloves). You can pick these up and let dry for a few days and most often the chestnuts will fall out.

Some people think there is too much work involved in processing the chestnuts after you collect them. They need to be heat treated before eating because they do contain tannins that can cause stomach upset to some people.

I prefer to oven bake my chestnuts and grind into a chestnut flour.

To get your chestnuts ready for baking, most people will tell you to "score" or make an X on the bottom of the chestnuts. I find this is one too many steps. I take a knife and put the chestnut on a cutting board and cut each chestnut in half. Be very careful when doing this part that the knife doesn't slip. This allows you to see if the chestnut is a "good" one and this saves a step later. When heating, the chestnut will pull away from the shell and when cooled is much easier to peel!

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I bake at 400 degrees for at least 15-20 minutes. You could also use an outside cob or pizza oven. Just make sure if it is temperature for pizza that you watch the chestnuts so as not to burn — they may need less time.

When cool enough, peel the shell away. At this point you can freeze, eat or grind for flour. Flour can be refrigerated for a few days or frozen.
If you are going to grind, I suggest using a food processor to grind your flour/meal. If you are using in a cake recipe, I suggest getting a fine "flour", which may need to be sieved after one grind and then put remaining bits through again.

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This is a recipe I use:

Simple Chestnut Cake

Ingredients:
• 1 Cup Chestnut flour
• 3/4 Cup sugar (white, refined)
• 7 Tbsp unsalted butter
• 1/4 Tsp salt (I use himalayan sea salt)
• 1 1/2 Tsp baking powder
• 3 eggs
Note: You can add 2-3 Tbsp milk if batter is too thick

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (I use electric oven)

2. I use a 9-in cake tin (greased and floured). If you have chestnut flour in refrigerator, take out to become room temp before using. Sieve 1 cup.

3. Add the chestnut flour, salt, baking powder and sugar and whisk together. Add softened, not melted, butter and eggs and mix with electric mixer just until smooth. Add the milk if needed.

4. Pour into your prepared tin (can be made into cupcakes, too). Leave about 20-25 minutes until toothpick comes out clean.

5. Cool before frosting (I prefer cream cheese frosting), but the flavor is best while warm.

Enjoy!

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Susan Tipton-Fox presents on-farm workshops in Yancey County, North Carolina, and growing her on-farm agritourism by promoting "workshop stays" on the farm (extending the farm experience). Find Susan on Facebook, and read all of her MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Best Practices, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on the byline link at the top of the page.

How to Start a Home Based Food Product Business: Interview with Michele of Michele's Granola

MOTHER EARTH NEWS readers are a talented bunch that possess and add new skills to their lifestyle. If one of those skills is making a delicious homemade food product that you have thought of selling; read this interview to learn from someone who succeeded in the food-product market.

I first found Michele’s Granola at the Jones Falls Farmers Market in Baltimore. It’s hands down, the best granola I’ve ever had! Since that first taste in the spring of 2009, I’ve watched Michele’s Granola spread their wings and fly into over 500 stores in 23 states. Currently, customers in the Mid-Atlantic region to Texas can enjoy this excellent granola.

Micheles granola at Moms

I recently met with Michele Tsucalas in her Timonium Maryland facility where she oversees the production of around 12,500 pounds of handmade granola each week. Forty employees lovingly make this crunchy mainstay of breakfast fans in an assortment of flavors like cinnamon raisin, original, ginger hemp, and others. What follows is a primer on how to take a food product idea to the masses. Whether you are thinking of just selling to farmer markets and small stores or going big time and getting bought out by one of the big players, a home-based food product can be a great business decision.

I hope you gain significant knowledge needed for a food-product launch from this interview. After that, the rest is up to you.

KJ: Do you have a professional background in cooking?

 Michele: I do not. I just have a strong passion for homemade foods going back to my childhood.

When did you start selling granola?

At the Takoma Park Farmer’s Market in April of 2006.

Were your early batches of granola you made for sale produced in a typical home kitchen?

Yes, I had been making granola in my apartment kitchen, and a friend suggested I consider selling it. Then I ended up getting a job for a baking company at the Takoma Park Farmers Market just as a weekend gig. Pretty much right away I noticed customers asking for granola and so I mentioned to the owners that I made my own. For the first few weeks of sales, I made the granola at home.

Why granola instead of some other food product?

Granola, as you know, is a whole lifestyle. I was attracted to that, and I did really love granola as a food. I found it to be, and still do, the perfect food. I had spent a summer in coastal New England waiting tables and would go to the neighborhood bakery every morning for breakfast. It was a scratch bakery and didn’t have very many of those where I grew up. They made fresh, out of the oven granola bars.

I’ve always loved granola, but these bars were like no other. After moving back home, I  missed that fresh-baked granola and started experimenting with my own recipes. What I came up with is our Original flavor today.

How many years of selling at farmers markets before you realized it was time to get your own production facility?

After working for this other baking company, they had a facility in Hyattsville. I leased from the baking company one day per week and was selling at more and more farmers markets. About a year in, I started looking for my own commercial kitchen. Around the end of 2007, I moved up to Baltimore, where the commercial real estate was more affordable, and found a small commercial kitchen space in south Baltimore. There weren’t any incubator kitchens around then, there’s several around now.

What tips on marketing could you share with someone wanting to start a home-based business similar to yours?

Well, we spent pretty minimally on the marketing. Because we started at the farmers market, we had that opportunity to be direct to the consumer and talk face-to-face about my products. I started the business on a shoestring and grew it bit by bit from there.

We’ve never really invested a lot into our marketing at all. Finding the right retailers to sell your products goes a long way. We’ve always focused on getting our products into people’s mouths and building a loyal fan base. We like to keep the branding simple and clean to convey the handmade quality of our products.

Did you fund your first facility from profits or did you need a loan?

I didn’t need a loan at first. With minimal investment, I was able to get started on my own.

After moving into the first facility in Baltimore, what did you find to be the biggest challenges?

Building a team and figuring out what my role would be. Also learning to scale up the recipe for a commercial size batch.

What parting advice could you share with Mother Earth News readers on starting a home-base food products business?

I got to the point of a really big hobby job selling at the farmers market, and thought that if I don’t give this a go full-time, I might regret it. If you try in a really simple and honest way, it can’t hurt to try.

Do one thing and do it better than anyone else. If you know what you make is special and unique, other people will catch onto that very quickly. While you’re trying it, read and understand the fine print, but don’t let it hold you back. Don’t think about all the red tape and the permitting process; just get started.

Micheles Granola 04281783881

Chances are this interview with Michele prompts you into action with your own home-based food product. Michele said a customer at the farmer’s market told her, “I used to think about taking my grandmother's cookie recipe and start a business with it but never did. I wish I had and regretted not doing it.”

My advice is to jump right in; there’s room for more tasty food products. And if you need inspiration but can’t buy Michele’s Granola where you live, you can buy it online here to taste for yourself a successful product that started small and is still growing today.

Kurt Jacobsohas been a chef for 40 years and, after being schooled in the U.S. Coast Guard, he trained in many restaurants under both kind and maniac chefs. Kurt is starting his fourth year of container and raised-bed organic gardening and is volunteering at Wilbur’s Farm in Kingsville, Maryland, to learn real organic gardening. For this and other recipes using garden greens, and more fresh veggies check out his food blog. For tasty travel ideas check out Kurt's travel blog, TasteofTravel2.com. Read all of Kurt's MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Cheesy Potato Soup Recipe from Vintage Mother Earth News Almanac

Classic Cheesy Potato Soup Recipe

My husband and I have been fans of Mother Earth News ever since it was a scruffy magazine headquartered on a kitchen table and printed on rough wood pulp paper. So, my brother’s 1975 Christmas gift was perfect: a copy of the Mother Earth News Almanac. Just as scruffy as its magazine sibling, the Almanac was a small 4-by-7-inch volume.

The folksy guide was filled with practical information for back-to-the-landers with homesteading tips, natural remedies, organic gardening guidance, and more, as well as simple, old-fashioned line-drawn illustrations. We devoured it. More precisely, we devoured the cheesy-potato soup, the recipe found in its pages — we devoured it often.

But then we packed up all our belongings and moved a couple of times. Boxes remained unpacked for too long. We drooled over memories of the cheesy-potato soup, especially on cold winter nights, but we couldn’t remember exactly how it was made. Over time, we even forgot where the recipe had come from in the first place. We resigned ourselves to the idea that the soup was lost to us forever.

A couple of years ago when we went through our occasional ritual of sorting through our small library of books, discarding some to make way for others, we came across our well-worn copy of the Mother Earth News Almanac. Well, you know how it is when a reader finds a well-loved old book. We stopped working on the task at hand and took a little trip down memory lane as we perused the book’s pages. I turned to a page where a scrap of paper served as an ancient bookmark. And there it was: our favorite cheesy potato soup!

Like much of the book, the recipe for Cheesy Potato Soup was a little imprecise, as indicated by the introductory statement about yield. “For two hungry people,” it said. (For any but the heartiest appetites, this recipe would serve twice that number.) It spoke of “a little larger than medium” potatoes. It spoke of “a chunk” of cheese — it was so 1970s.

I’ve adapted the recipe a bit and now make it with our own organic, homegrown potatoes. Somehow, food one grows oneself tastes infinitely better. And potatoes are one of the easiest plants to grow and store. For guidance on growing organic potatoes, click here. For potato storage tips, click here.

Here’s my 21st Century version of that delicious Cheesy Potato Soup recipe.


Cheesy Potato Soup Recipe

 

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients:

• 2 baking-size potatoes, unpeeled and cut into chunks

• 3 Tbsp flour

• 3 Tbsp melted butter

• Cheddar or longhorn cheese, cut into bite-size cubes (enough to fill each soup bowl 1/3 full)

• 2-3 Tbsp diced onion per soup bowl

• Apple cider vinegar

• Salt and pepper

Directions:

1. Boil the potatoes in a large pot. Drain, reserving the liquid.

2. Mash the potatoes in the pot, leaving a few chunky pieces for texture.

3. Add drained liquid back to the pot to obtain desired thickness. If it’s still too thick after all the liquid has been returned to the pot, add more water to achieve desired consistency.

4. Add salt and pepper to taste.

5. In a small skillet over low heat, brown 3 Tbsp flour in 3 Tbsp melted butter, stirring constantly to prevent burning. When it’s golden brown, add this mixture to the pot and bring to a boil. Cook for 2-3 minutes to thicken, stirring constantly.

6. Fill serving bowls 1/3 full with bite-sized pieces of cheese (in my opinion, the sharper the better). Fill bowls with the hot soup mixture.

7. Add to each bowl: 2-3 Tbsp diced onion and a glug (approx. 2 Tbsp or to taste) of apple cider vinegar.

8. As good as the mixture of potatoes and cheese can be, the addition of onion and vinegar is what makes this recipe extraordinary (not to mention that they are the healthiest ingredients).

Rib-sticking thick, this soup is a great comfort food for a chilly wintry evening. What would make this soup even better? Adding my award-winning cornbread for a tasty, filling combo.

You, Too, Can Own the Mother Earth News Almanac

Classic Mother Earth News Almanac

This well-worn copy of the 1973 Mother Earth News Almanac includes the recipe for our favorite cheesy potato soup.

And here’s great news! The Almanac, which has been out of print for decades, is once more available. It’s been updated, of course, but maintains all the charm of the original, right down to those delightful line drawings. You can get your own copy from the Mother Earth News Store and other sources.

Carole Coates is a gardener and food preservationist, family archivist, essayist, poet, photographer, modern homesteader. You can follow her Mother Earth News blog posts here.  You can also find Carole at Living On the Diagonal, where she shares her take on life, including modern homesteading, food preparation and preservation, and travel as well random thoughts and reflections, personal essays, poetry, and photography.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Spiced Cranberry Orange Pecan Bundt Cake

Sugar Dusted Bundt Cake

Every so often, a book crosses my path that is so beautiful, I have to have it. This is one of them. I had not worked from a cookbook for a while, but Beautiful Bundts: 100 Recipes for Delicious Cakes and More by Julie Anne Hession (Robert Rose Inc., 2017) has some gorgeous photos, taken by the author herself. Usually a photographer is brought in to do the photos, but in this case, she learned how to do it herself, and the results are stunning.

Then there are the cakes. Picking one was hard. I have started with Spiced Cranberry Orange Pecan Bundt — perfect for the holiday season. It has all the flavours of Thanksgiving or Christmas: cinnamon, tart cranberries, nuts, citrus, topped off with the wonderful texture that only sour cream can impart. Oh, and a layer of sugared nuts in the middle and on top. Sublime.

The sweetness in the cake is played off of the tart cranberries. It’s almost, but not quite, like a pound cake. For Christmas, I will also do the Spiced Citrus Fruitcake Bundt (all fruitcakes jokes aside). Speaking of fruitcakes, I found a couple from last year that were put aside for safe keeping. They’re delicious!

As for the Bundt cakes themselves, the variety of pans out there is amazing. Pick a shape you like, grease it well with a cooking spray, preferably with flour in it. Make sure you get all the nooks and crannies. Just make sure in this case it is a 10-cupper.

Spiced Cranberry Orange Pecan Bundt Cake

Makes 10-12 servings

Ingredients:

• 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
• 1 tsp baking powder
• 1 tsp salt
• 1/2 tsp baking soda
• 1 cup chopped pecans
• 2 cups granulated sugar, divided
• 2 tsp cinnamon
• 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
• 3 large eggs, at room temperature
• Grated zest of 2 oranges
• 1/2 freshly squeezed orange juice
• 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
• 1/2 cup full-fat sour cream
• 1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries

Directions:

You will need one 10-cup Bundt pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, 325 degrees for a dark pan.

1. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda.

2. In a small bowl, stir together pecans, 1/2 cup granulated sugar and cinnamon.

3. In the stand mixer bowl, beat the remaining granulated sugar and butter on medium speed for 3 minutes or until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Beat in orange zest, orange juice and vanilla. Beat for 2 minutes.

4. With the mixer on low speed, alternately beat in flour mixture and sour cream, making three additions of flour and two of sour cream, and beating until incorporated. Beat in cranberries.

5. Transfer half the batter to prepared pan and smooth the top. Sprinkle with half the pecan mixture. Repeat with remaining batter and pecan mixture. Using a thin knife or skewer, marble the pecan mixture by swirling through the batter several times. Smooth the top.

6. Bake in pre-heated oven for 45-65 minutes or until deep golden brown and a tester inserted in the centre comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then carefully invert the cake onto a wire rack to cool completely. (I always loosen a bit around the edges and centre first with a small spatula to facilitate it coming out of the pan.) Dust with confectioner’s sugar before serving.

Sue Van Slooten teaches cooking and baking classes at her home on beautiful Big Rideau Lake, Ontario, Canada. She specializes in small classes for maximum benefit. Follow her homesteading adventures and check out her class offerings at www.SVanSlooten.com. If you wish, you can email Sue at suevanslooten@icloud.com. She would be thrilled to hear from you! Read all of Sue’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Make Traditional Italian and American Biscotti

Watching the talented bakers on the Great British Baking Show become frustrated trying to make biscotti, I was yelling at the TV: Water! Water! First, they were struggling with a sticky mess, then their biscotti were crumbling under the knife. Making perfect biscotti is easy if you know the water tricks.

I set a day to make several kinds to stock up. Biscotti keep for months, so bake some up now for lovely Christmas and hostess gifts. I stash them in the freezer so when I give them, they taste fresh from the oven.

Biscotti can be either the traditional Italian type which is very crunchy and intended for dunking in coffee, tea, or wine. Or they can be the softer American type, eaten like any cookie. The Italian type keeps longer and has no butter, so they are much lower calorie and very low fat. If you prefer, you can substitute white whole wheat flour in these recipes.

First, choose your flavors. Biscotti can be sweet, not-so-sweet, chocolate or not, and biscotti can be savory. Choose one or more biscotti recipes. Because all the equipment is the same, I generally make at least two kinds at a time. It’s hard to choose.

Each recipe makes about 30 biscotti

Equipment: A mixing bowl, usual spatulas and measuring equipment, a whisk, another small bowl, a nonstick or well seasoned baking sheet, a cutting board and a good, sharp serrated blade knife. A mixer is optional for the Italian type, but you’ll probably want to use it for the American. Plus — very important! —  a spray bottle dedicated for water.

Italian Classic Almond Biscotti Recipe

Ingredients:

• 2 large eggs
• 2/3 cup cane sugar
• ½ tsp salt
• ½ tsp baking powder
• 1 tsp vanilla extract
• 1 tsp almond extract
• 1 cup chopped toasted almonds
• 2 cup (8 ½ oz) all purpose flour

Italian Classic Gianduja (Chocolate-Hazelnut) Biscotti Recipe

Ingredients:

• 2 large eggs
• 2/3 cup cane sugar
• ½ tsp salt
• ½ tsp baking powder
• 1 tsp vanilla extract
• ¼ tsp hazlenut flavor
• 1 cup hazelnuts, blanched, toasted and chopped
• ½ cup dutch process cocoa powder
• 1 tsp espresso powder or 2 tsp instant coffee
• 2 cups (8 1/2 oz) all purpose flour

Italian Classic Anise Biscotti Recipe

Ingredients:

• 2 large eggs
• 2/3 cup cane sugar
• ½ tsp salt
• ½ tsp baking powder
• 1 tsp vanilla extract
• 1 tsp anise extract
• 2 Tbsp anise seed
• 2 cups (8 ½ oz) all purpose flour

Italian Lavender Biscotti Recipe

Ingredients:

• 2 large eggs
• 2/3 cup cane sugar
• ½ tsp salt
• ½ tsp baking powder
• 1 tsp vanilla extract
• ½ cup culinary (organic) lavender flowers
• 2 cups (8 ½ oz) all-purpose flour

Directions:

1. You can use the mixer or not for the Italian type biscotti. In either the mixer bowl or any large bowl, beat the eggs and then beat in the sugar with a whisk until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is a pale yellow. Add the extract(s).

2. Measure the flour into a small bowl by weight or by scooping the flour and leveling it off.  Add the other dry ingredients such as the salt, baking powder chopped nuts, cocoa or coffee powder to the flour and add to the egg mixture. Mix until everything is evenly combined with no traces of flour. Don’t over mix after adding the flour; gluten will develop and your biscotti will be tough.

3. Lightly grease a cookie sheet. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

4. Set a small bowl of water out next to your baking sheet. Scoop out half of the dough onto the baking sheet, forming a rough log. Do the same with the other half. Wet your fingers and coax the dough into even logs about 10 inches long and ¾ inch thick. (Obviously, recipes with lots of nuts and such will make bigger logs.) Dip your fingers in the water bowl and use wet fingers to smooth the top and sides of the logs. It’s OK to get the dough wet on top.

5. Put the logs into the preheated oven. Bake the biscotti logs for 23 minutes until they’re just beginning to show some color. Remove the biscotti from the oven and let them cool on the sheet for about 5 minutes, then carefully slide the biscotti logs to a cutting board.

6. Reset the oven to 325 degrees.

7. Now comes the secret trick to perfect biscotti: Fill your spray bottle with room temperature water and thoroughly spray each log! Don’t saturate it, but get the surface wet.  Pick up your serrated knife and with a light sawing motion cut the logs into even slices just less than ¾-inch thick. Be careful to keep your slices perpendicular and straight so they will stand up.

8. Arrange the slices standing on edge back onto the cookie sheet.  It helps to position them in a “/\/\/\” pattern to keep them standing. Put the biscotti back into the 325 degree oven and bake them for another 30 minutes until they feel quite dry and the cut surfaces are beginning to turn golden. This could take up to 50 minutes on a damp day. They need to be dry.

9. Remove the biscotti to a cooling rack and allow to completely cool before packing them airtight, They can go directly into tins or, if made in advance of gifting, I pile them into foil baking pans and slip the pan into a zipper freezer bag where they keep beautifully for weeks.  If frozen, biscotti stay fresh for months.

American-style Biscotti

American style biscotti are softer and generally sweeter than the classic Italian style. They’re crunchy but not as hard as the Italian. We’ll use the same tricks that I explained in the previous Classic Italian biscotti, but the directions will be somewhat different.

Pecan Sable Biscotti Recipe

Ingredients:

• 6 Tbsp (3 oz) unsalted butter at room temperature
• 2/3 cup cane sugar
• 1 tsp vanilla
• 2 large eggs
• 2 cups (8 ½ oz) all purpose flour
• ½ tsp salt
• 2 tsp baking powder
• 1 cup finely chopped pecan pieces

Lemon Biscotti Recipe

• 6 Tbsp (3 oz) unsalted butter at room temperature
• 2/3 cup cane sugar
• 1 tsp vanilla
• 2 tsp grated lemon rind
• 2 large eggs
• 2 cups (8 ½ oz) all purpose flour
• ½ tsp salt
• 2 tsp baking powder

3 P’s Biscotti: Parmesan, Pistachio, and Pepper

Ingredients

• 6 Tbsp (3 oz) unsalted butter at room temperature
• 1 tsp vanilla
• 2 large eggs
• 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
• 2 cups (8 ½ oz) all purpose flour
• 1 tsp salt
• 2 tsp baking powder
• 2 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
• 1 cup shelled pistachios (or pecans if not available)
• Optional:  a pinch of red pepper for the top

Directions:

1. One tiny trick to start: If you forget to leave out the butter overnight, fill a bowl or mug with tepid water and drop in the wrapped sticks of butter and the eggs. In about 15 minutes, they will be a room temperature.

2. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Very lightly grease a cookie sheet or have one that is very well seasoned.

3. Measure out the flour into a small bowl and add the other dry ingredients: salt, baking powder, nuts, spices if using. Whisk these together.

4. In the mixer bowl, cream the butter and sugar together well. Add the extract if using and then the eggs. Beat until the mixture is emulsified and looking fluffy. Add the non-dry ingredients such as lemon zest or cheese if called for in the chosen recipe and thoroughly beat in.

5. With the mixer on low, add in the dry ingredients. Mix only until there are no traces of flour; over mixing can make your biscotti tough.

6. Set a small bowl of water out next to your baking sheet. Scoop out half of the dough onto the baking sheet, forming a rough log. Do the same with the other half. Wet your fingers and coax the dough into even logs about 10 inches long and ¾ inch thick. (Obviously, recipes with lots of nuts and such will make bigger logs.) Dip your fingers in the water bowl and use wet fingers to smooth the top and sides of the logs. It’s OK to get the dough wet on top.

For the Parmesan biscotti, make the logs a bit longer and skinnier since these will usually be a nibble with a glass of wine.

Optional red pepper: If you like, very lightly sprinkle the tops of the PPP biscotti with a bit of cayenne or, if you are so fortunate, Espelette pepper.

7. Put the logs into the preheated oven. Bake the biscotti logs for 23 minutes until they’re just beginning to show some color. Remove the biscotti from the oven and let them cool on the sheet for about 5 minutes then carefully, slide the biscotti logs to a cutting board.

8. Reset the oven to 325 degrees.

9. Go back to the directions above for the Italian type and proceed from “Reset the oven to 325 degrees”.

Wendy Akin is happy to share her years of traditional skills knowledge. Over the years, she’s earned many state fair ribbons for pickles, relishes, preserves and special condiments, and even a few for breads. Read all of Wendy’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.


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