Apple Muffins with Bourbon Glaze

Fall officially begins tomorrow and as much as I want to hang on to summer, it’s best to embrace the new season. And it’s a good season at that so I thought I’d dive in with these muffins. The apples I used are called Ashmead’s Kernel, such a fancy name! They are very good for baking, they have good flavor and hold up well rather than turning into apple sauce. I cooked the apples prior which I recommend, with a 20 minute baking time I don’t think the apples would have cooked quite enough, and it adds more buttery-bourbon flavor as well. These muffins are really good, they might be the best I’ve made. I took a basic muffin recipe and fiddled with it. I topped it with a streusel as well because it makes for a better muffin. Recipes below. Enjoy!

Apple Muffins with Bourbon Glaze

Muffins

  • 2 cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup melted butter 
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups apple (see recipe below)

Make the apples first since they will need to cool a bit. Preheat oven to 425°F. Lightly grease 12-cup muffin pan. In large mixing bowl blend all the dry ingredients together. In a separate bowl mix the milk, butter, eggs, and vanilla until combined. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and whisk together. With a spatula or wood spoon fold in the apples.

Fill the cups of the muffin pan two-thirds to three-quarters full. Top with Streusel (recipe below) and an apple slice.

Bake the muffins for 15 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of one of the center muffins comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow to cool a bit. Then top with Bourbon glaze (recipe below)

Apples

  • 2 cups diced apples (about 3 apples)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 shot of bourbon (about 3 tablespoons)

Melt butter in a skillet, then add the sugar, cinnamon, bourbon and stir to combine, add the apples and cook 10 minutes or until just soft and liquid has thickened. If your apples were juicy and you have too much liquid add a bit of flour, you should have very little liquid. 

 

Bourbon Glaze

  • 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) butter
  • 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon

Melt butter on stove, slowly whisk in the sugar then add the bourbon, stir and cook for a minute or two until the alcohol has cooked off. 

 

For the streusel

  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter

Combine the cinnamon, flour, and brown sugar in a small bowl. Add the melted butter and mix until crumbly

Roasted Tomatoes, Burrata, Basil Oil on Toast

Over our casual-no-plans holiday weekend we went out to brunch. I ordered the special which was poached eggs over roasted tomatoes and basil oil on sourdough bread. It was so simple and delicious I had to make it, or something similar. We have an absurd amount of tomatoes right now from the garden, the faster I can get them in the oven the better. Preserve. Sauce. Soup. Dried. Whatever. it all has to be done at once it seems. 

And since I had roasted tomatoes the previous day it made sense to make this. If you follow me on Instagram you might have seen that I did a story on the Roasted Tomatoes recipe. Instagram just started Stories a few weeks ago and I’m just now getting my feet wet. I find it fun and light, the stories only last 24 hours. I never used Snapchat so I’m kinda glad Instagram picked up on the idea and integrated into their app. 

Below are the recipes for the Roasted Tomatoes and the Basil Oil. From there it’s just assembly. I used Burrata cheese because it didn’t have much longer in the fridge, and way too good to waste, but this would work with an egg, poached or fried. Just something neutral in flavor because the tomatoes and basil oil are intense and delicious. 

I will probably be back with more tomato recipes! Enjoy.

Roasted Tomatoes

  • 3-4 cups cherry tomatoes
  • about 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons Fresh thyme
  • Salt

Preheat oven to 325°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the tomatoes on the baking sheet in a single layer. Drizzle with olive oil and toss until combined. Rough chop the garlic and thyme, then sprinkle over the tomatoes. Season with salt. Bake for 1-1 1/2 hrs until tomatoes have softened. Remove from oven, use right away or set aside to cool. To store them scoop the tomatoes in a jar, refrigerate for up to 1 week.

Basil Oil

  • 2 cups basil leaves packed
  • 1/2 - 3/4 cup olive oil (depending on consistency)
  • Salt

Wash and completely dry the basil leaves. Add basil leaves, 1/2 cup of olive oil and salt in a food processor, run for about 1 minute or so until you’ve reached desired consistency. Add more oil if needed. Can be stored in refrigerator for about a week.

Assemble

Toast a thick slice of sourdough bread, layer tomatoes and cheese (or egg) and top with basil oil. You will not be disappointed!

Cherry Tomato Galette

Each year it seems like a never-ending quest to figure out what to do with so many tomatoes all at once. I’m sure sauce will be on the horizon, and we are currently drying them with herbs to keep in the freezer-when it’s not crazy hot. We’ve had a series of 100° days lately so as the temperatures became more sane I was happy to bake this tomato galette. I made one once before with zucchini that was a bit more involved, but this one is very simple and easy to put together. 

I made this with what I had on hand which was: fresh tomatoes, fresh basil and parmesan. You can use any cheese you like, I would have liked to have added some mozzarella cheese, but I’ll have to try that another time. Basically you can’t mess this up. Tomato, basil and cheese all wrapped up in a pie crust is going to taste good! Hope all of you are having a great summer, if you have a go-to recipe for fresh tomatoes I would love to hear about it in the comments. Enjoy!

Cherry Tomato Galette

  • 1 lb cherry tomatoes
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped basil
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 egg, whisked
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 13” pie crust (recipe here or even better here)

Slice your cherry tomatoes in half and place in bowl. Add the olive oil, chopped basil, half of the parmesan (1/2 cup), a pinch or two of salt and some ground pepper and toss until combined.

Roll out your dough to a 13” circle on floured surface, then transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet. Take about half of the remaining parmesan and sprinkle it over the dough. Using a slotted spoon add the tomato mixture on the dough leaving a 2” border around the edge. Fold the dough edges up and over the filling forming loose pleats. Brush on the egg wash over the dough, then sprinkle remaining parmesan over the whole thing. Bake for about 35 minutes until the dough is golden brown. (I noticed my previous recipe said to bake 25 minutes and it had come out slightly under done, but still good!) 

Corn Fritters

I had some amazing corn fritters the other day at Pok Pok’s Whiskey Soda Lounge. The batter was light and they were spiced with mouth-on-fire peppers. That’s kind of to be expected there, I just love the food and cocktails! These corn fritters aren’t as spicy as I’d hoped for, but they were delicious still. I used one small jalapeño from our garden, so if you’re after something a bit spicier I would double the jalapeño or add some chili powder or flakes. This makes a great side dish, especially for a veggie friendly meal on a summer night.

Corn Fritters

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 ears of fresh corn, kernels sliced 
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro chopped
  • 1 jalapeño finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Whisk eggs in medium bowl then add the flour whisking until well combined. Stir in cheese, cilantro, jalapeño and salt. Add corn to the batter. Heat 1-2 tablespoons canola oil in large cast-iron skillet. Cook heaping tablespoons of corn batter in pan for about 3 minutes per side (about 5-6 minutes for each batch) until golden brown. Remove from pan and season with salt.

Garden Salad with Bacon Vinaigrette

Our vegetable garden has been somewhat hit or miss this year, the tomatoes and butter crunch lettuce are growing really well while peppers and eggplant, meh. It’s been unusually cool this summer so that might be a factor. The tomatoes are just starting to ripen, we’ve had a few here and there over the past few weeks but now we’re getting more and more each day. We planted six tomato plants, and three are ripening, sun peach tomato, black cherry tomato and a mystery tomato! It was supposed to be chef’s choice which is a large orange tomato, but that’s not what is growing, they’re small, oval-shaped orange tomatoes, not quite sure what we have here. In any case they taste fine, but I was looking forward to those large orange tomatoes. 

Oh, and this bacon! It was my birthday a couple weeks ago and my sister sent me this incredible smoked bacon from Vermont. I’ve had so many kinds of bacon but I gotta say this smoked bacon from Singleton’s General Store is amazing. I worked it into a vinaigrette, this isn’t a warm vinaigrette like most recipes, and I opted out of using the bacon fat in the dressing. Whenever I’ve tried to incorporate bacon fat into a dish it always tastes too greasy, so I changed it up a bit and I’m happy with the results. 

So I put together our butter crunch lettuce, tomatoes and the bacon for, well, a BLT salad. Heh. Hope you’re having a great summer. Enjoy.

Garden Salad with Bacon Vinaigrette

  • 4 slices bacon
  • 2 tablespoons chopped onion (or shallots)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Butter crunch lettuce
  • About 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered

Cut the bacon into 1/2” pieces and place in cast iron skillet. Cook over medium heat until crisp, using a slotted spoon transfer bacon pieces to a plate lined with paper towel and set aside. Add the onions and garlic to the same pan and cook over medium heat for a few minutes until onions are soft and translucent. Remove onions and garlic with slotted spoon to a small bowl and set aside. In a separate bowl whisk together the mustard and vinegar, add the olive oil and whisk until well combined. Mix in the cooked onion mixture to the vinaigrette. Plate the greens, tomatoes and bacon, then drizzle some of the vinaigrette over the two salads. (you will have extra dressing that can be refrigerated for later)

Berry Clafoutis

We’re on round two with the strawberry patch this summer. Each year it’s been slightly different timing but we generally get at least two harvests. I’ve been trying to get some nice photos of them outside, but the lighting is never quite right, it’s either too bright or too dark. Maybe one of these days I’ll find the perfect moment. But for now I brought them inside to shoot. The blueberries are nearing the end but just enough for this dessert. The nice thing about a clafoutis is that you probably have most of the ingredients on hand, milk, sugar, eggs, and it comes together pretty quick. Well that’s all for now. Hope everyone is having a great summer!

Berry Clafoutis

  • 2 cups berries (I used strawberries and blueberries)
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup whole milk, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • Powdered sugar, for dusting

Heat the oven to 375°F. Coat a 10” cast-iron pan (or 4 small baking dishes) with butter then arrange the berries in a single layer and set aside.
Combine the eggs, milk, sugar, extract in a large bowl and whisk until smooth and the sugar has dissolved. Add the flour and whisk until just combined (it might be a little lumpy like pancake batter). Pour the batter over the berries in the prepared pan. Bake until set, puffed, and light golden brown around the edges, about 30-35 minutes.
Place the pan on a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes (the clafoutis will deflate). Dust with powdered sugar and serve warm.

Black Currant Jam

Last year we planted two currant bushes in our yard, red currant and black currant. The red currant didn’t take off so well, it had just a few very tiny berries (get out the magnifying glass), I’m hoping it will produce more next year, but the black currant bush has been producing reasonably well. I’ve been picking and storing them in the fridge over the past couple of weeks and wasn’t sure if it would amount to much at all. But as it turns our you can make a quick jam with just a couple handfuls of berries. I always think of making jam as a big ordeal, with pounds of fruit and jelly jars lined up, ready to be plunged into a hot bath. But really you can quickly make one small jar of jam. And it turned out delicious. Well that was after it didn’t turn out right and I had to reheat it. The recipe called for 10 minutes of cooking the berries, which wasn’t quite enough time, I’ll note in the recipe 10-30 minutes of cook time. And the recipe recommended cooking the berries with sugar until the jam reaches 220°F for the jelling point, but in my case it was cooked far too long, so what I initially ended up with was tough berries in a solid mass of jam. So I put the whole business back on the stove and added more lemon juice and water, and let it cook for 20 minutes. And this did it. It tastes amazing. I think more lemon juice helped it as well. 

Oh, and Saveur magazine is hosting a food blog awards, I would love to be nominated for the “Best Photography” category, you can nominate me here if you like, it’s open until July 18th, so just 3 days left. Thanks :)

Black Currant Jam

  • 2 cups (250g) fresh black currants (stemmed)
  • ¾ cup (180ml) water (you might want to add more water for longer cook time)
  • 1 ¼ (250g) cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice (I would use 1/2 squeezed lemon)

In a nonreactive pot, bring the black currants and the water to a boil. Reduce the heat and cook for 10-30 minutes, until the black currants are softened.

Add the sugar and the lemon juice and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the jam reaches the jelling point.

If using a thermometer, it should read about 220ºF (104ºC). (I cooked until 220° and it was way over cooked as I mentioned above)

David Lebovitz recommends:

– Or if you want to do the freezer test, put a small plate in the freezer. When the jam looks thickened, turn off the heat and put a teaspoon of the jam on the plate and stick it back in the freezer for about 5 minutes. When you take it out, it’s done if you nudge your finger into it and it holds its shape. If not, continue cooking it, and retesting the jam, until it’s the right consistency.

When ready, scrape into clean jars, cover and cool. The jam will stay fresh refrigerated for a couple months.

Adapted from David Lebovitz

Blueberry Streusel Muffins

There is something about growing your own food that is so satisfying. Maybe because it’s new to me, but it’s nice knowing exactly where it came from and no worries of pesticides or any of that. Our blueberry bushes are producing quite a bit this year. We’re flash freezing a lot of them which is pretty simple, just wash and dry the berries, put them in a single layer on a parchment lined baking sheet, then freeze them for 30 minutes or so. Then you can take them out and bag them, doing this step helps prevent them from all sticking together. We’ve been using them in our Kefir smoothies (we are totally hooked on Kefir!), and of course these blueberry muffins. I recommend eating the muffin while it’s still warm. You just can’t beat warm blueberries. I’ll probably have more berry photos and recipes coming soon, our strawberry patch seems to be fruiting again, the timing of the strawberries has been different each year that we’ve been here, and later in the summer seems to produce better berries, so we’ll see what we get in the next few weeks. Oh, and I used milk kefir in this recipe rather than milk and yogurt, it worked just fine, I’ll add a note at the bottom if you prefer to go with the original recipe. I was debating the streusel top then decided to go with it, it’s really nice and I added a few berries to the streusel as well. Enjoy!

Blueberry Streusel Muffins

  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons lemon powder (optional; you can add 1 teaspoon of lemon zest in its place, if you'd like)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup Milk Kefir (can be replaced with 1/2 cup plain yogurt and 1/4 cup milk)
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries

For the streusel:

  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  •  

Preheat the oven to 400° F. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, and lemon powder (if using). In a separate large bowl, mix together the egg, brown sugar, kefir, and vegetable oil. Add the dry ingredientsmixing small amounts at a time to combine. Fold in the blueberries with a gentle hand. Make the streusel: Combine the cinnamon, flour, and brown sugar in a small bowl. Add the melted butter and mix to form clumps. Spoon the batter into muffin cups or a greased muffin pan. Top with the streusel. Bake for about 20 minutes (start checking at 15 minutes) and remove when muffins are golden brown and the berries are bubbling with juice. Let cool.

Adapted from Food52

Berry + Cherry Galette

It’s that time of year here in Portland where our yard becomes a (humble) bounty of berries. When we moved here two years ago we were lucky enough to discover raspberry bushes, blueberry bushes and a strawberry patch. Last winter we pruned the raspberry and blueberry bushes and it seems to be paying off. They’re producing more and better berries. The blueberries are just starting to ripen and it looks like we’ll have a sizable harvest soon. And even though its been two years now in a house with a yard, the novelty has not worn off, it still feels very special to this former city apartment dweller. 

Galettes are a great way to put together a quick dessert, I love the rustic casual way they’re designed, not very fussy but pretty all the same. Oh, and the dough was a whole new experience for me. A few months ago we bought a food processor, I had been doing most of my mixing by hand or with the kitchen-aid, but that doesn’t work so well for cutting butter into flour so I would cut it by hand which was a lot of work, so this week was my first time making pie dough with the food processor and, wow, just wow, in seconds I had my dough made. I was blown away. The dough recipe is for two pie crusts, it’s nice having one in the freezer ready to go.

Berry + Cherry Galette

  • 4 cups of berries and cherries (I used 2 cups raspberries and 2 cups cherries)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 13” pie dough, recipe below

Preheat an oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 

Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and roll out into a 13-inch round. Fold the round in half, transfer to the baking sheet lined with parchment paper, unfold the round. 

In a bowl, lightly stir together the berries, lemon juice, sugar and flour. Spoon the filling onto the dough, leaving a 2-inch border uncovered around the edge. Fold the edge up and over the filling, forming loose pleats. Bake until the filling is bubbling and the pastry is golden brown, about 25 minutes. 

Transfer the galette to a wire rack and let cool slightly. Cut into wedges and serve. Makes one 9-inch galette

Pie Dough

  • 11-1/4 oz. (2-1/2 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 8 oz. (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces and chilled
  • 5 oz. (about 2/3 cup) ice water

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, and salt. Cut in the chilled butter using a stand mixer, a food processor, or a pastry blender until the butter is evenly distributed but still in large, visible pieces. Add the ice water all at once to the flour and butter. Mix the dough just until it begins to come together (if using a stand mixer or a food processor, be especially careful not to overmix the dough). Note: it’s recommended to remove butter/flour mixture from the processor and incorporate the water gently to form the dough by hand. Gather the dough with your hands -- don't worry if you see streaks of butter -- and shape it into two disks. Wrap the disks in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Adapted from David Lebovitz and Williams-Sonoma

I couldn't stop taking photos while eating, messy and delicious

Homemade Kefir and Strawberry Kefir Smoothie

If you love yogurt as much I as I do you will definitely love milk kefir. It has a similar flavor to greek yogurt and can be used in smoothies, dressings, ice cream and anywhere you might use yogurt or buttermilk in a recipe. Why Kefir? It’s very beneficial for your digestive system as it’s a great source of probiotics. And kefir in particular has more beneficial bacteria than other fermented foods from what I’ve read. For example if you’re lactose intolerant you shouldn’t have any problems consuming milk kefir since it has the proper enzymes for digestion. And honestly heath benefits or not, I love this stuff! 

Keep in mind this is similar to making a sour dough starter, once you start you’ll need to keep feeding it. If you’ll be going away you can put it in the fridge for up to 3 weeks. Here’s “How to take a break from making milk kefir” which also has instructions on how to dry them for up to six months.

We ordered the grains from Amazon, it’s a nice little kit with easy instructions which I’ve outlined below. And if cared for they will last indefinitely. 

Milk Kefir

  • 1 packet of dehydrated milk kefir grains
  • 1 cup milk, preferably organic, avoid ultra-pasteurized (plus more for each day)

Equipment: Glass jar, strainer, cheesecloth or coffee filter, rubber band, storage jar (all equipment/jars should be completely clean)

Activating Kefir grains

Empty packet of dehydrated milk kefir grains into 1 cup fresh pasteurized milk in glass jar, then stir. Cover with coffee filter or cloth and secure with rubber band. Allow to sit in warm spot 68°-85°F.

Keep an eye on the thickening over the next 8-24 hrs. If it has thickened or changed in texture then strain out the grains, discarding the milk, then put the grains in a 1 1/2 cups fresh milk. If it’s been 24 hours with no change, follow the steps to strain and place cultures in fresh milk. Follow these steps over the next 3-7 days, checking daily, and straining daily, increasing the amount of milk by 1/2 cup each time until you’ve reached 4 cups. At this point you’re milk kefir will be ready to drink and store in the refrigerator (it might be ready before you reach 4 cups, smell and taste, if it looks good you can start drinking it rather than tossing it.) When it’s ready it will be thick and have a tangy aroma and flavor much like yogurt.

Making Milk Kefir

Each day strain the kefir grains, store your new milk kefir, then place kefir grains into 2-4 cups of fresh milk, storing at room temp. If you use 2 cups it will probably culture faster than 4 cups. You can also place the kefir in the refrigerator to slow it down if you’re going to be away. Always use sterile clean jars and equipment.

Strawberry Kefir Smoothie

  • 2 cups milk kefir
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen strawberries
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar (or sweeten to taste)

Mix all ingredients in a blender until smooth. Can be stored in the refrigerator for a day or two.