Savor The Earth

eat tastier, eat greener, eat cheaper

Happy Birthday! May 14, 2010

Filed under: cookies/brownies,dessert,easy — Austin Frugal Foodie @ 6:07 pm

this image will have to suffce for now

Welcome to Savor the Earth’s one-year anniversary—two days late!  An untimely modem failure befell our household (when’s a broken internet ever not untimely?), and I tried to snail this post along to bring you another delicious dessert recipe, but alas, my connectivity wouldn’t allow it.  We’re back online again (and badder than ever, of course) so now this tasty treat’s comin’ at ya!

The folks at Maranatha have come out with a couple of new all-natural products:  a dark chocolate peanut spread and a dark chocolate almond spread.  Inspired by Italy’s famous Nutella, that smooth gianduja’d spread of chocolate and hazelnuts, these chocolaty nut butters contain no hydrogenated fats and no artificial anything.  I’ve only tried the peanut version so far (work perk!) and I found it deeply cocoa’d, well-burnished with roasty goober depth.  A little much for me straight outta the jar, but then again, I’m not even a Nutella kinda gal.

I smelled potential and adapted a recipe from eatmycakenow.blogspot.com for these crumbly bar cookies.  Rather irresistible, the pan was banished to the laundry room, lest I show up at work sans samples!

These scrumptious sweets helped keep my mind off my disconnect.  In fact, my mind/belly became so disconnected that I forgot to take a photo before we ate all the bars.  Sorry!

CRUMBLIN’ CRUMBLEBARS makes one 9” X 13” panful

  • 242 grams (2 cups) organic all-purpose flour.  Whole Foods usually offers the best value with their 365 brand in the 5-pound bag.
  • 160 grams (just over 1¾ cups) organic quick oats.  I stocked up with sale prices on bulk oats at Newflower Market last week.  Their regular prices on bulk oats are fair, too.
  • 270 grams (1 1/3 cups, packed) organic light brown sugar.  Central Market’s own brand in the 1½ pound bag typically sells for less than other brands.
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder.  I use Rumford, aluminum-free and non-GMO.
  • ¼ teaspoon salt.  I like Real Salt.
  • 2 sticks organic butter, melted. Organic Valley makes about the best standard butter around.  Today’s the last day for Natural Grocers incredible sale on OV 1-pound blocks for $3.99.  Stock up!
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 13-ounce jar Maranatha all-natural dark chocolate peanut (or almond) spread, no cooler than room temperature.  Available at Central Market for $ 4.29.  I haven’t looked elsewhere yet.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Line a 9” X 13” baking pan with aluminum foil.  I do this by fitting the foil to the outside of the pan (upside down) and before placing the foil inside the pan.

Thoroughly combine the first 5 ingredients (flour through the salt).  Stir the vanilla into the butter and stir the butter into the dry ingredients until well distributed.  Reserve 1½ cups of this mixture for the topping and spread the rest onto the bottom of the lined pan.  Gently press the crumbs down so no foil shows through.

Dollop the chocolate spread all over the base and carefully spread it out to the edges.  The sticky stuff will grab the crumbly bottom and give you a little bit of a hard time, à la La Brea, but spacing out your dollops helps minimize this.  Evenly crumble the reserved topping all over the surface.

Bake on a center rack in the oven for about 25 minutes, until the crumbles are golden brown and firm.

Here’s the challenge.  You’ve got to let this pan of temptation cool off for at least 1¼ hours!  Go walk the dog, do some chores, take a nap, whatever will keep you away from that molten mass of messy mmm.

When the time’s up, lift the whole piece out of the pan using the foil.  Cut into serving size bars (how big a serving’s up to you!) preferably with a bench scraper, or you can use a large chef’s knife.

Enjoy! Happy birthday to my blog.  Happy birthday to my blog…

 

Texas Cookie Cookin’ February 28, 2010

Filed under: cookies/brownies,dessert,easy,locavore — Austin Frugal Foodie @ 6:47 pm

Texas cookies

Now that I’ve discovered the technique of sifting most of the bran out of Richardson Farms locally grown, fresh-ground whole wheat flour (see Texas Bread) I’m really on a roll.  Or a cookie.  Here’s a crunchy, buttery Texas cookie filled with local pecans.  Easier than pie, a batch bakes up ’bout as fast as you can eat ’em.  Tell your sweet tooth to go local!

TEXAS WHEAT AND PECAN COOKIES makes about 3 dozen

  • 8 ounces (about 1 2/3 cup) sifted Richardson Farms flour (most of the bran removed)
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder, sieved.  I use Rumford, aluminum-free and non-GMO.
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda, sieved
  • 6 ounces local or organic butter, cut up.  Organic Valley‘s my standard.  Click for a coupon. Look for Lucky Layla (that’ll make a very rich cookie!) at Central Market or Way Back When at the Sunset Valley Farmers Market and Elevated Artisanal at the Austin Farmers Market.
  • zest of one well-scrubbed Texas orange (optional)
  • ¾ teaspoon salt.  I use Real Salt.
  • 152 grams (¾ cup) organic brown sugar.  CM’s brand sells for $2.99 for a 1½ pound bag.
  • 150 grams (¾ cup) organic sugar.  Costco has cornered the market on Wholesome Sweeteners 10-pound bag for only $7.77.  Otherwise, CM’s 2-pound bag still sells for $2.99.
  • 1 local egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract.  I like Nielsen-Massey.
  • 1 Tablespoon organic apple cider vinegar.  Whole Foods 365 brand usually sells for the best price.  I buy the big ole quart bottle.
  • 2 2/3 cups Texas pecan pieces.  At the downtown farmers market, Star J Farms sells a 3-pound bag of sweet nuts for $22.

Whisk together the dry ingredients.  Cream the butter with the next four ingredients (including optional zest) until well blended.  Beat in the egg, vanilla and vinegar.  Stir in the flour mixture and pecans until well-mixed.

Drop dough by 2-Tablespoonfuls (a spring-loaded scoop works great here) onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet (I use If You Care brand), spacing cookies about 3″ apart.  Bake for about 14 minutes, rotating cookie sheets halfway through baking, until browning around the edges.  Cool on pans on cooling rack for 5 minutes.  Place cookies on racks to finish cooling.

 

(Ground) Peas Be My Sweetheart February 14, 2010

Filed under: cookies/brownies,easy — Austin Frugal Foodie @ 3:15 pm

nutty hearts

Chunky heart-shaped brownie-style peanut butter (ground ground peas) cookies—studded with chocolate bits if you wish (who doesn’t wish for chocolate on Valentine’s Day?)—sweeten the deal.  Easy and satisfying, these substantial cookies contain no chemical leavening.  If you prefer all your desserts sans sodium bicarbonate, check out Pamella Asquith’s Ultimate Chocolate Cake Book.  Asquith eschews chemical leaveners and provides plenty of gateau goodness in her compendium of cocoa cakes.

Back to the brownies.  Have a heart and bake up a batch of these cupidly cute cookies.

PEANUT BUTTER BROWNIE COOKIES makes 8 hearts

  • 4 Tablespoons organic butter, softened.  I love Organic ValleyClick for a coupon.
  • ¼ teaspoon salt.  I use Real Salt.
  • 200 grams (1 cup) organic sugar.  Central Market’s brand in the two-pound bag usually sells for the lowest price.
  • 104 grams (½ cup) organic light brown sugar.  Central Market again.
  • ½ cup organic natural peanut butter, crunchy or creamy.  Whole Foods 365 brand is a good value.
  • 1 Tablespoon local honey.  I like Good Flow.  We enjoy many local options fer hunny ’round here.
  • 2 local eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 323 grams (2 2/3 cups) organic all purpose flour.  Whole Foods 365 brand in the 5# bag is generally the best buy.
  • 2 ½ ounces chopped chocolate, milk or dark.  Green & Black’s wonderful 3.5 ounce organic chocolate bars are on sale right now for 2 for $5 at Whole Foods, Sprouts, Sun Harvest and Newflower Market.  About 2/3 of the bar cacaos your ca-cookies.  Use more if you can resist nibbling the rest of the bar away!

I use two four-cavity Wilton mini heart pans.  Wilton currently makes only the six-cavity model.  I bought my pans at the thrift store and both styles are easy to find at resale shops and of course on ebay.  Grease and flour the cavities.

Cream together the butter, sugars and salt.  Beat in the peanut butter and honey.  Beat in the eggs and vanilla until well blended.  Mix in the flour and chocolate until thoroughly incorporated.

Fill the pans evenly, pressing the firm dough into each cavity.  Young sweethearts can help here.  Bake at 350º for about 20 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through baking time, until the edges are browned and the centers appear set.

Let cool to just warm before unmolding.

Be mine!



 

Little Cake February 11, 2010

Filed under: cake,cookies/brownies,dessert,easy,fast — Austin Frugal Foodie @ 12:49 pm

"Here Fluffy!"

sweet stack!

Here’s a little fancy cake that pulls together quickly, once you have all the components.  These constituents can vary, depending on what you have on hand and need to use up, or your whimsy.  And most components can be made well ahead of time.  A three-layered dainty, sized just right for the family and maybe a guest or two (yeah right, like I’ve been having company to dinner in the last two years.  Or has it been six?  Do cookouts count?), this petite gâteau (not to be confused with le petit gâteau) plays your palate big time, with light layers of whole grain sponge cake moistened by a refreshing syrup, and contrasting/complementary filling and frosting.  Your funny valentine might appreciate a sweet slice!

For using up odds and ends of leftover fillings, glazes, etc. (the “leftover layers” version below was filled with the last of some buttercream whipped with the three tablespoons or so of leftover chocolate èclair glaze), or for simply spreading and stacking with preserves from the pantry—and maybe frosting with whoop cream, this is your go-to gateau.

WHOLE GRAIN SPONGE CAKE makes one 4″ X 7″ loaf-shaped assemblage,  about 2″ to 3″ high

  • 3 local eggs
  • ¼ teaspoon salt.  I like Real Salt.
  • 100 grams (½ cup) organic sugar.  Central Market’s brand sells for $2.99 for a two-pound bag.
  • ¼ teaspoon almond or vanilla extract
  • 2 Tablespoons local or organic butter, melted and cooled a bit.  I love Organic Valley Click for a coupon.
  • 48 grams organic whole wheat pastry flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder, sieved.  I prefer Rumsford, non-GMO and aluminum-free.

Preheat the oven to 350º and line an 11″ X 7″ baking pan (the old-fashioned brownie pan size) with a thin nonstick liner (I don’t recommend a Silpat style liner here) or a piece of parchment paper.

Combine the eggs, salt, sugar and extract and whip at high speed for about five minutes.  A stand mixer is very handy here.  While the eggs foam and lighten, whisk together the flour and baking powder.  When the eggs have maximized in volume and form ribbons that disappear after a couple seconds or so when the whip attachment is lifted, be ready to fold.  Lightly sprinkle a third of the flour mixture onto the eggs and quickly and gently fold it in with a large whisk.  Repeat twice.  Whisk a cup or so (just eyeball it) of the batter into the butter before folding the butter mixture into the rest of the batter.

Fill the baking pan right away, smoothing and leveling it with a small offset spatula or just a spoon.  Bake for about 12 minutes, until lightly browned and the center barely springs back when gently pressed with your finger.

Place the pan on a rack and let it cool completely.  This cake is small and light so that won’t take too long.

Unmold the cooled cake onto plate or cutting mat.  Using a sharp knife, actually I like to use a finely serrated steak knife, cut the layer crosswise into three slabs, each about 3½” wide (by about 6½” long).  The top crust of the cake will be sticky, which is great fun for your fingers, so lay the bottom layer onto your serving dish top side down.  Brush with a little soaking syrup (see below) and spread with about ½ cup of filling.  For the middle layer, brush one side (either side) of the cake piece with syrup and stack that piece on top of the filling, syrup side down.  Now brush the top of that layer with more syrup.  I use about 2 Tablespoons of syrup per side.  Some folks like a juicier cake and some folks like a drier cake, so go with your gut.  Top with another ½ cup of filling, and the last cake layer, brushed with syrup on the sticky side first and set syrup side down.  Brush the top of the cake with syrup and frost the whole thing—you can use a different component .  Or just frost the top—in which case I’d keep it the same as the rest of the filling.  (Or maybe not.)

leftover layers

Here’s a simple formula for a

SIMPLE SYRUP:

  • ¼ cup organic agave nectar.  Madhava brand’s on special at Central Market right now.
  • 6 Tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons water

Stir together til well mixed.  You can flavor your syrup with liqueurs or liquor—Amaretto, Frangelico and dark rum are my favorites, or a small amount of compatibly flavored extract.  This recipe should moisten your little cake sufficiently.

The “Fluffy” cake pictured above was filled with crème patissière (already on hand) and frosted with a maple Italian meringue—the Bonus!

Beware of hygroscopic high jinks.  Make meringue on a clear (low humidity) day.  The bluer the sky, the better.

Excess frosting can be formed into “kisses” (with or without chopped toasted Texas pecans folded in) and baked in a low oven (250º) until set.  Use a pastry bag, a spring-loaded scoop or two spoons to dollop your meringue onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet (I like If You Care brand unbleached parchment paper.)

MAPLE ITALIAN MERINGUE FROSTING: enough to generously frost your small cake, plus extra for kisses

  • 2 local egg whites
  • 1 Tablespoon organic sugar
  • ½ cup organic  maple syrup, preferably grade B.  Whole Foods 365 brand is often the best buy.

Pour the maple syrup into a small saucepan, ideally nonstick or enameled.  Bring to a boil on medium heat and clip on a candy thermometer to start measuring the temperature of the syrup.  When the bubbling brew reaches 230º (we’re talkin’ Fahrenheit here), begin to whip your egg whites on low-medium speed.  Once again your stand mixer will perform honorably .

When the egg whites look foamy, add the sugar and raise the mixer speed to medium.  Check on the syrup temperature.  When the boiling syrup reaches 238º it’ll be ready to add to your egg whites and you’ll want your egg whites to have reached the firm peak stage by then.  You can adjust the mixer speed to help synchronize the processes.  Be careful not to overwhip the whites to the “dry” curdled stage.  Slow ’em down if you need to.  When syrup and whites are ready to unite, slowly pour the syrup into the mixer bowl in a steady stream, whipping on medium as you do so.  Avoid pouring the syrup directly onto the beater.

The meringue will expand as you add the hot syrup.  Continue to whip the mixture for at least 5 minutes after you’ve added all the syrup, allowing the meringue to cool to room temperature.  Use right away to frost your cake.

 

Be My Valentine February 10, 2010

Filed under: cookies/brownies,dessert — Austin Frugal Foodie @ 6:00 pm

my hearts belong to you

kiss and a hug

For the kindergartner’s classroom Sweetheart’s day celebration I figured I’d bake up some edible valentines for my young heartthrob to proffer—heart-shaped cookies tagged with each student’s name.  This whole grain recipe, not too sweet and crisply perfect for glazing, delivers the bright sparkle of Texas citrus with orange and/or lemon zest shaved off in-season fruit.  Glazed or not, monogrammed or not, will you be mine?

WHOLE WHEAT CUTOUT COOKIES makes about 60 2-inch cookies

  • 4 ½ ounces (a generous 1 cup) organic all-purpose flour.  Whole Foods 365 brand in the 5-pound bag generally sells for the lowest price.
  • 4 ½ ounces (1 cup) organic or local whole wheat flour—I love Richardson Farms locally-grown freshly ground whole grain flour, available at Sunset Valley Farmers Market.
  • 1 teaspoons baking powder, sieved.  I use Rumford, non-GMO and aluminum-free.
  • 4 ounces (1 stick) organic butter, softened.  I love Organic ValleyClick for a coupon.
  • 75  grams (3/8 cup) organic sugar.  Central Market’s brand costs $2.99 for a two-pound bag.
  • ½ teaspoon salt.  I like Real Salt.
  • 1 teaspoons fresh zest from a Texas orange and/or lemon
  • 1 local egg
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract

Whisk together flours and baking powder.  Cream the butter with the sugar, salt and zest.  Mix in the flour—I like the stand mixer for this dough.  It’s very dry at this point.  Beat in the egg and vanilla until well blended and the dough masses together.  Rest the dough in the refrigerator, covered, overnight.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator and let it soften up at room temperature for awhile.  A couple of hours may not be too long if the kitchen’s cool.

Preheat oven to 350º.

Roll out dough to about 1/8″ thickness on a sheet of parchment paper sized to fit your baking sheet.  I like to lay a cut open plastic bag on top of the dough to protect the rolling pin from sticking.  Cut out approximately 2″ cookies,( I chose hearts this time, of course) spacing the cuts fairly close all over the surface of the dough.  Remove the dough surrounding the cookies and place the parchment onto your baking sheet.  Bake for 5 minutes, give the cookie sheet a 180º spin and bake for about 5 more minutes.  The cookies should be beginning to brown and will feel set when pressed lightly with your fingertip.

Place the parchment paper with cookies on a cooling rack.  Let cookies cool for a minute before removing from parchment and cooling completely on the rack.  Glaze when cool.

Patch together any leftover dough scraps, reroll and cut out and bake the remaining cookies.

glazy day

SIMPLE COOKIE GLAZE:

  • 115 grams (1 cup) organic powdered sugar.  Central Market’s brand is usually the best buy.
  • 3 to 4 teaspoons local or organic milk.  I like Swede Farm Dairy and Wateroak Farm‘s goat’s milk.  Way Back When is selling their local cow’s milk at our farmers markets.
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons organic agave nectar.  Madhava brand’s 23.5 ounce container (light or dark) is on sale at Central Market for only $5.49.

Stir sugar, milk and vanilla together until smooth.  Stir in agave.  Tint with food coloring if desired.  Whole Foods sells India Tree natural colors (not cheap!).  Glaze cookies right away.  I usually use a small clean paintbrush or a small icing spatula.  Let dry before monogramming.

 

Waffle Cones—Puddin’ Up with It January 31, 2010

Filed under: cookies/brownies,dessert,easy,fast,Uncategorized — Austin Frugal Foodie @ 1:46 pm

what a spread

wafer wafer

A surplus of milk—we don’t drink the stuff so our supply catches up with us sometimes—wound up as a large bowl of crème pâtissière.  Naturally I wanted to bake a batch of éclairs (anyone familiar with San Francisco’s Tartine bakery?  Legendary éclairs there.  They warrant a Muni detour—yes, every day!— and are definitely worth waiting in the line that wraps around the corner.  Try the frangipane croissant, too.   I might whoop up a pan of those when I retire.)

Life, that is, children, kept me from pâte à choux-ing (gesundheit!) this week.  But waffle cone iron cookies baked up crisp and quick, the simple batter requiring no leavener, no resting, and no precooking.  Spread your wafers with pastry cream, stacking them if you wish to construct a Napoleonic dessert.  If you don’t have a waffle cone iron (I bought mine at the thrift store, of course, but I think it’s the only one I’ve come across in resale shops), pizzelle irons (I do see these occasionally) and krumkake irons (haven’t found a used one yet) will produce perfectly acceptable wafers just as handily.

All this talk of waffle cones and irons reminds me of my friends at Traveling Bistro right here in Austin, Texas.  These folks crisp up imaginatively flavored hot waffles every Sunday for their weekly brunches.  Check ’em out!

WAFFLE CONES makes about 8 large wafers

  • 1 local egg
  • 1 local egg white
  • ¼ teaspoon salt.  I use Real Salt.
  • 100 grams (½ cup) organic sugar.  Central Market sells their own brand for $2.99 for a 2-pound bag.
  • flavoring:  ½ teaspoon vanilla extract and/or 1 teaspoon citrus zest
  • 40 grams organic white whole wheat flour.  Whole Foods offers King Arthur brand in the 5-pound bag for the best deal.
  • 40 grams (1/3 cup) organic all-purpose flour.  WF 365 brand is usually the least expensive.
  • 2 Tablespoons organic butter, melted and cooled.  I love Organic ValleyClick for a coupon.

Whisk together the eggs and salt.  Whisk in the sugar and flavoring until the eggs lighten in color and consistency.  An old-fashioned eggbeater shines here.  Whisk in the flours then stir in the butter.

Heat up your iron hot.  For adjustable irons, try the medium setting first.  You’ll have to play around (or read your instruction manual!) to determine the amount of batter required and best cooking time.  For my old Toastmaster model, a generous 2 Tablespoon scoop (a spring-loaded scooper helps) and a generous minute of baking produced wafers about 6½” across.

Let your cookies cool and crisp on a rack before spreading them with pastry cream (or preserves or creme de marrons or whatever you like).

A few words on crème pâtissière.  Here’s a basic formula:  1 cup milk, heated to hot, whisked into (combined) ½ cup sugar, 1/8 teaspoon salt and 3 Tablespoons flour.  Cook, whisking constantly, over medium-low heat until thickened and smooth, then temper in 2 egg yolks and continue to cook and whisk until the mixture boils.  Be sure to boil the pastry cream, as the yolks contain an enzyme that must be deactivated lest your eggs, defiantly deliquescent, reliquefy the cream later.  Pour the hot pudding (that’s what we have here!) into a wide bowl and stir in 2 Tablespoons butter and 2 teaspoons vanilla extract.  Taste for sweetness and add more sugar if your tooth requires it.  Place a sheet of waxed paper directly onto the surface of the crème and cut a few small slits in the paper with a sharp knife.  Let cool and refrigerate right away.

 

Frito Meringues January 25, 2010

Filed under: cookies/brownies,dessert,easy,leftovers — Austin Frugal Foodie @ 11:46 am

corny cookies

This title sounds like wordplay to my ears.  Can’t place that pun though.  Let me know if you get it.

Using up the last of the game night Central Market organic corn chips (had to arm our pantry with plenty of frito pie fixin’s), I took advantage of a cloudless, low humidity day to whoop up meringue cookies.  The salty and the sweet, all crunchy to boot.  And easy.

FRITO MERINGUES makes about 30 cookies

  • 3 egg whites (90 grams) from local eggs—not a trace of yolk (or any other fat) in here, please
  • 10 ½ ounces (1 ½ cups, packed) organic light brown sugar.  Central Market brand is usually the best buy.
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or homemade vanilla rum
  • 1 6-ounce bag Central Market organic corn chips—This is the only organic brand I’ve found  (and I’ve searched for years!!)

Get to whoopin’ up your egg whites, preferably using a stand mixer.   Meanwhile, crush up the corn chips.  I spin ’em in the food processor.  When your egg whites are foaming up to nearly soft peaks, add the sugar and continue whipping until the meringue looms lofty and stiffly peaks.  Beat in the vanilla.  Fold in the crushed corn chips, in two batches if you wish, and scoop out 2 Tablespoon portions (I use a spring-loaded scooper) onto parchment lined baking sheets, leaving a couple inches between mounds.

Bake at 300º for about 20 minutes, until cracked and the surface has set, but the cookies are still soft and moist inside.  Place cookie sheets on racks to cool for a minute or two before carefully loosening meringues from parchment with a pancake turner and setting the cookies on the cooling rack to finish cooling.