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Monthly Archives: September 2013

Becca’s Book, Serial #7 and Blueberry Clafoutis

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Far as I’m concerned, blueberries are synonymous with summer.

I know, these days you can get fresh blueberries year-round at almost any grocery store; and in a pinch, frozen blueberries are all but indistinguishable from fresh when baked in a pie or cake. So why not have a blueberry pie in January, blueberry buckle on St. Patrick’s Day?

Because it just doesn’t seem right–blueberries are synonymous with summer!

So for this first post of Fall, 2013, let’s bid adieu to the summer just past with a Blueberry Clafoutis. Never heard of clafoutis? Then you’re in for a treat! It’s a French fruit-custard-cake–not a pie, thicker than a custard, more moist than a cake, it combines aspects of all three; but it’s different, unique, and also very versatile. Easy to serve, it’s yummy for breakfast, would be great on a brunch buffet, and makes a tasty and elegant finale for dinner. Usually made with cherries (tart or sweet) we’ve Americanized this version to pay tribute to the season just past–because blueberries are synonymous with summer!

At the other end of the seasonal spectrum, Becca’s Book Serial #7 recounts a New Year’s Eve celebration, a reunion that looks both backward and forward (as New Year’s Eve experiences are inclined to do) but mainly finds Zach and Becca immersed in their passionate present. Check out the audio or text files available below while you enjoy your Blueberry Clafoutis, our tribute to a bygone summer.

blueberry clafoutis

Blueberry Clafoutis

1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

2 eggs

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup milk

2 teaspoons lemon zest

Juice from half of a lemon

6 Tablespoons all-purpose flour

powdered sugar for dusting

blueberry clafoutis piece

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a 7×5 inch pan by spraying it with cooking spray. Layer the blueberries on the bottom of prepared pan and set aside.

In a mixing bowl, whisk the eggs until frothy. Slowly add the sugar and whisk until the eggs turn a pale yellow color. Next, whisk in the milk, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Lastly, slowly add the flour and whisk mixture until all of the ingredients are well incorporated.

Pour egg mixture over top of the blueberries. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the center is set. Allow the clafoutis to cool for 15 minutes before serving warm. Dust each serving with powdered sugar. Allow remaining clafoutis to cool completely before storing the leftovers in the refrigerator.

Serves 4.

blueberry clafoutis bite

Becca's Book cover

Becca’s Book, Serial #7, audio © Jeffrey Anderson

Becca’s Book, Serial #7, text © Jeffrey Anderson

Enjoy!

Becca’s Book, Serial #6 and Mini Pumpkin Pies

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Have you ever had something that was associated with a specific place or time of year and couldn’t be used anywhere else or at any other time–like a sweater that can only be worn on Christmas Day or a flag that only comes out on Fourth of July?

When I was a kid (I won’t say how long ago that was!) I had a plastic pail and shovel that could only be used at the beach. It would’ve been fine to use in the sandbox at home or making mud pies in the driveway, but I only brought it out at the beach.

Pumpkin pie is like that for many of us–it can only be eaten on Thanksgiving Day.

Well, the heck with that! Pumpkin pie is too good–and, for a rich and yummy dessert, relatively healthy–to enjoy only one day a year. These Mini Pumpkin Pies are so quick and easy and healthy that you’ll wonder why they hadn’t become a standard long before now. Leave the sweet potato casserole with mini-marshmallows for Thanksgiving Day. Pumpkin pie is year-round now!

And Becca’s Book Serial #6 has a similar kind of epiphany as Zach stumbles on an intense realization of love in a driver’s license bureau of all places. Give the scene a listen, or download the text file–might be as good as year-round pumpkin pie!

Now I wish I’d used that plastic pail and shovel more. I wonder if my mom saved it?

mini pumpkin pie dessert

Mini Pumpkin Pies

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

1/8 teaspoon baking powder

1/8 teaspoon baking soda

pinch of salt (about 1/8 teaspoon)

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

7.5-ounces pumpkin puree

2 Tablespoons granulated sugar

3 Tablespoons light brown sugar, packed

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/3 cup half and half (milk or cream would work too)

mini pumpkin pies

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin tin with six liners. Set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and pumpkin pie spice. In another bowl, add the pumpkin puree, granulated sugar, brown sugar, egg, vanilla extract, and half and half. Mix these ingredients together until well blended. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix until incorporated.

Divide the batter between six lined muffin cups. Bake the mini pies for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely in the muffin tin. The pies will sink slightly in the middle as they cool. Store the pies in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Makes 6 mini pies.

mini pumpkin pie

{Adapted from Baking Bites}

Becca's Book cover

Becca’s Book, Serial #6, audio © Jeffrey Anderson

Becca’s Book, Serial #6, text © Jeffrey Anderson

Enjoy!

Becca’s Book, Serial #5 and Glazed Gingerbread Cupcakes

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A little bit of Christmas in September–that’s o.k. right?

I know most of us are clinging to the last few days of summer with a passion merging on desperation–a few more hours of that hot sun on your shoulders, a few more days when it doesn’t get dark till after dinner!

But let’s face reality–we’re getting up in the dark, the sun is setting earlier, and soon (maybe already, for some) the mornings will be chilly enough to force us to pull that jacket that’s been stowed since last spring out of the closet. Cry, cry! Whine, whine!

But now wait a minute. Some of you may be reading this in the Southern Hemisphere, in which case your summer is approaching, not leaving. Or some of you may be reading this next spring (2014), or the spring after that or after that, in which case you’re looking forward to the warmth of sun, the lengthening of days.

So take a chill-pill (chill–get it?) and enjoy this post for what it is–a taste of Christmas with both the recipe, Glazed Gingerbread Cupcakes, and the story, a scene from Becca’s Book that recounts attendance at a performance of the ballet The Nutcracker.

Christmas cheer is good, whatever time of year it comes around! Merry Christmas!

gingerbread cupcakes

Glazed Gingerbread Cupcakes

Gingerbread Cupcakes:

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed

1 egg white

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

2 Tablespoons mild-flavored molasses (not blackstrap)

2 Tablespoons hot water

Glaze:

1/2 cup powdered sugar

2-3 Tablespoons cream (or milk)

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

gingerbread cupcake

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a muffin tin with cooking spray. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, cream together the butter and brown sugar. Add the egg white and mix ingredients together. Add the flour, cinnamon, ground ginger, and baking soda. Slowly mix ingredients until just about combined. Add the molasses and hot water and continue mixing until batter is an even consistency and ingredients are well combined.

Divide the batter between four muffin cups, filling each cup about 2/3 full. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out mostly clean with only a few crumbs. Remove the muffin tin from the oven and let gingerbread cupcakes cool in tin for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Once the gingerbread cupcakes are completely cool, mix together the powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons of cream, and vanilla. Add a little more cream until you get a good drizzling consistency. (I used about 2 1/2 tablespoons of cream total.) Place the gingerbread cupcakes on a wire rack with a plate or paper towel underneath. Drizzle the glaze over top of each cupcake. Allow glaze to harden before storing in an airtight container.

Makes 4 cupcakes.

glazed gingerbread cupcake

{Adapted from Dessert for Two}

Becca's Book cover

Becca’s Book, Serial #5, audio © Jeffrey Anderson

Becca’s Book, Serial #5, text © Jeffrey Anderson

Enjoy!

Becca’s Book, Serial #4 and Chewy Snickerdoodle Cookies

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My family had many, many food traditions, but snickerdoodle cookies were not one of them. Yet the first time I ate a snickerdoodle, I felt like it had been part of my culinary heritage far back as I could remember. Why is that? What is it about these cookies that makes you think of childhood comfort and security, of a warm kitchen on a bright fall afternoon or storytelling time around the fire on a crisp autumn evening, a tinge of frost in the air?

Zach and Becca find themselves immersed in similar emotions in this week’s segment from Becca’s Book. The early stages of a passionate romance can enfold a couple in a profound sense of comfort and security–and thanks for the gift: of the love, of the loved one. Deep-seated feelings of comfort are transitory and unpredictable. One has to embrace them when lucky enough to find such gifts.

Give these Chewy Snickerdoodle Cookies a try. Whether they’re part of your cookie tradition or this is your first sampling, I think you’ll find they give rise to feelings beyond their delicious flavors–a gift for your day, your future.

 snickerdoodles

Chewy Snickerdoodle Cookies

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

3 Tablespoons granulated sugar plus 2 teaspoons for coating

1 egg  yolk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon cornstarch

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

pinch of salt (about 1/8 teaspoon)

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

In a mixing bowl, cream together the butter and 3 tablespoons of sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolk and vanilla extract and mix until ingredients are combined. Next, add the flour, cornstarch, baking soda, salt, and cream of tartar. Slowly mix ingredients together until just combined, careful not to over mix the dough. Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes.

snickerdoodle cookies

When ready to make the cookies, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat nonstick mat. In a small bowl, combine the cinnamon and 2 teaspoons granulated sugar. Roll dough into 4 balls, and roll each ball in cinnamon sugar mixture. Bake the cookies for 7-8 minutes, or until they just start to turn golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool on cookie sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes 4 cookies.

chewy snickerdoodle

{Adapted from Like Mother Like Daughter}

Becca's Book cover

Becca’s Book, Serial #4, audio © Jeffrey Anderson

Becca’s Book, Serial #4, text © Jeffrey Anderson

Enjoy!