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Sunday, December 15, 2013

Lebekuchen Recipe

These moist, chewy cookies have a wonderful, heady aroma that says.... "Schöne Feiertage!" (er, that's Happy Holidays in German).

Growing up with a German mother we were raised with some German traditions including how we celebrated Christmas. Instead of Christmas day being THE day we celebrated on Christmas Eve, like normal people. But during the 23 days preceding there were little rituals we had to participate in. For example we always had an Advent calendar. We had the typical paper calendar depicting a glittery, festive village scene with windows you could open on each day. But the best one was a needle point calender. It was white and red and decorated with little holiday motives and cheerful elves. 24 little plastic rings were sewn next the days where my mother would tie itty-bitty presents that each of us kids would take turns opening. We also had an 'Advent Kranz', a fir wreath with four candles which we'd light at the beginning of each week of Advent. Of course I had no idea what Advent was other than it meant I got to open tiny gifts and light candles. Good times.
There's a little gingerbread house on the coffee table and you can see the Advent Kranz hanging in the foreground.
(Mom looks thrilled.)
Presents under the tree is a no-no before Christmas Eve, too. That's when 'Kristkind' delivers the goods and the real celebrating begins. It was always a magical transformation. We kids would hide out in one of the bedrooms watching Christmas shows while "Santa" would secretly deliver all the presents and transform the otherwise spartan living room into a Nüremberg Kristkindlesmarket scene. Mom would lay out the Christmas cookies which consisted of buttery sugar cookies, Anisplätzchen (anise cookies) and Lebekuchen. My mother's lebekuchen was always very dense and toothy. We loved them. The dough was spread out in a single layer when baked then brushed with a lemony icing sugar glaze and cut into diamond shapes. I like to make mine in a more traditional fashion. Individual cookies with 'back oblaten' (flour wafers) on the undersides and blanched almonds on top. It's a lot of work but well worth the blood, sweat and tears. Well, sweat anyway. Here's the recipe.



Dry ingredients
  • 1 lb all purpose flour
  • ½ cup ground blanched almonds
  • ⅓ cup toasted hazelnuts, peeled & ground
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • ½ tsp ground cloves
  • ½ tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

Wet ingredients
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • ½ cup honey
  • ⅓ cup orange marmalade
  • ⅔ cup mixed candied zest, minced

Other ingredients or special equipment
  • package of back-oblaten 60mm
  • pastry brush
  • whole blanched almonds (enough to decorate each cookie with 3 almonds)
  • ½ cup icing sugar
  • lemon juice

Directions
Sift together the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Set aside.

Warm the honey in a small sauce pan on low then add the eggs and whisk until frothy. Stir in the marmalade and candied zest then add to the dry ingredients. Place dough in a large ziplock bag, pressing it into a flat disc and chill dough for about a half an hour in until firm. Or store in the icebox until ready to bake.

Preheat the oven to 325˚.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the wafer on the sheet spaced two inches apart. Scoop out 3TB of dough onto the wafer and press around edges to almost meet the edge. Or roll out chilled dough to about ¾”  thick and cut out using a 2.5” cookie cutter. Place three blanched almonds on top with points to the center flattening the top of the cookie as you press down. Continue with remaining cookies. Bake for about 18-20 minutes. Cookies will spread over the edge of the oblaten about ⅛ - ¼ inch. Cool on racks for about 20 minutes. 

Glazing
Mix icing sugar with about 1 tsp of lemon juice. Add more if it’s too thick. Brush the glaze on to cookies going all the way to the edge. Let dry completely then store in an air tight container for up to a week. Or freeze up to a month.


Makes about two dozen 3” cookies.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

RECIPE: Orange Scones



It's been almost a year since I moved back to California. Life has presented some challenges since returning...but that's life, right? Now that I feel like I'm getting a toe hold I want to get back to the thing that inspired this blog three years ago; baking and preserving!

To start the ball rolling I thought I'd share my recipe for Orange-Pecan Scones. These are no ordinary scones, mind you. Made with moist and rich and packed full of citrussy, nutty goodness.

1 DOZ SCONES

DRY INGREDIENTS
2 medium oranges
4 cups all purpose flour
6 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
6 TB sugar
orange zest divided
1/2 cup toasted and chopped nuts (walnuts, pecans or almonds)
1/2 cup chopped dried fruit (ie: cranberries, raisins, papaya, or a mixture of all)

WET INGREDIENTS
1/2 cup oil
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup buttermilk (or 1/2 cup milk and 1/2 cup yogurt)

GLAZE
1 1/4 cup powdered sugar
3 TB reserved orange juice
½ tsp vanilla
a squeeze of lemon
½ tsp orange zest



Preheat oven to 400˚

Prepare the oranges:
After washing thoroughly, zest both oranges reserving roughly ½ tsp for the glaze and the rest for the dough. With a sharp chef’s knife supreme the oranges by slicing off ½ inch off the stem end again to the opposite end. Turn the orange on to one of the flat sides and slice off the peel following the curve of the orange to expose the flesh. Holding the orange in your hand, carefully remove the orange sections by slicing down along the membranes to the core making sure not to go all the way through. Do this over a bowl fitted with a mesh strainer to catch the juices. Next roughly break up the sections into small pieces and squeeze out as much juice as possible into the bowl. Set aside.

Make the dough:
Whisk dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Then loosely toss in dried fruit, orange zest, nuts and orange pieces. Whisk buttermilk, vanilla and oil in a small bowl and add to flour mixture.



Fold ingredients together until just combined, rubbing the dough between your fingers and pressing it against the bowl until it all comes together. Then divide dough into two equal portions. Press each portion into a disc about 1 ½ inches thick. Cut each round into 6 wedges and place on a parchment lined baking sheet spaced evenly apart. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until very lightly browned on the edges and firm to the touch. Let cool to room temp on a cooling rack before glazing.





Make the glaze:
Mix all of the icing sugar ingredients together in a large measuring cup. Glaze should be fairly thick but pourable. Slowly drizzle icing over the scones and let dry for about ten minutes. They keep for a couple of days wrapped in tin foil and freeze great!





Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Video debut: Lime Cardamom Scones



Could I possibly look MORE like I've just been goosed? Well, as promised (or warned) here is my very first recipe video: Lime Cardamom Scones. You can see my teaching approach is very "free form" and a little unorganized but, and I hope you'll agree, entertaining and somewhat informative. Hey, I'm no professional! But I had a wonderful time and this will be the first of hopefully many more videos to come.

For clarification, the recipe shown in the video is a little off. Mainly because I was winging it and was relying on my failing memory. So please follow the recipe below. Also, where I say "2 1/3 cups of dried cranberries"...uh, that's WAY off. It's 2/3 cup. If you need any further clarification don't hesitate to drop me a line. Good luck!

LIME CARDAMOM SCONES

DRY
3 cups all purpose flour
1 cup pastry flour
6 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
6 TB sugar
3 tsp lime zest
3 tsp cardamom
2/3 cup craisins

WET
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup oil
2 tsp vanilla
2 TB lime juice

Preheat oven to 400˚.

In a large bowl, mix the dry ingredients together with a whisk. Then whisk wet ingredients together and add to the dry ingredients. With a rubber spatula gently mix everything together. If dough seems too dry to hold together, squeeze about 2-3 tablespoon of lime juice into the dough and continue folding and mixing until dough holds together, pressing the dough into the dry bits at the bottom of the bowl until it becomes one cohesive mass.

Gently press into an 8” circle and cut into 6 wedges. Line a baking try with parchment paper and set each wedge about 2-3 inches apart. Bake for 12-14 minutes or until pale brown on the edges. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack. When nearly completely cool you can go ahead and drizzle on the glaze. Let the glaze dry for about ten minutes before serving.

GLAZE

1 cup icing sugar (or more if needed for thickness)

2 TB lime juice
1 tsp grated lime zest

With a small whisk or fork, mix together the icing sugar, zest and lime juice until thick but pourable.

Friday, December 16, 2011

It's break time...

Hey folks, I'm taking time off from Hearth & Larder for a little while. But I will return all refreshed and ready for next year. Thank you all for your kind support. Wishing you all a wonderful holiday season and a very Happy New Year!



Sunday, October 30, 2011

I'm ready for my closeup, Mr. DeMille

Is it true the camera adds ten pounds? Baking scones and other fine fare sure does. It's an occupational hazard. Thankfully I had plenty of help getting rid of the evidence last weekend on the set of Smells like Sunday, an online cooking site created by chef Keith Severson.

As my passions have led me by the nose all my life, so it has for film maker, Robert Ellenwood of 500 mph films. Robert and his wife Marilyn have been close friends of mine for over 20 years now and as our lives have crossed paths in the past in music it's making it's convergence again in food with the filming of my first "webisode" of Hearth & Larder videos. To be honest, this is a work-in-progress and I really don't have a title for what I'm doing exactly. It will evolve, though, and hopefully prove to be entertaining at least!



I'm anything but conventional so there's no way I could stick to any formulated script. I just said, "What you goin' play now? Bobby, I don't know....but what's in EVER I play it's got to be funky". Ha! Just kidding. But seriously, I said, "just let the camera roll and whatever happens happens." We'll fix it in the mix. We shot two recipes of scones; Lemon-Blueberry and Lime-Cardamom. I referred to my failing memory for the recipes but I've made them so many times now I think I managed to reproduce them correctly. With the "camera crew" as my audience, I began blathering about scones and other non-related subjects; their grins and muffled laughter egging me on. The perseption of elapsed time is definitely subjective. Pauses in my speech that seemed WAY too long were actually quite short (thank god). Good to know for next time as they are helpful in giving the performance a little ebb and flow. Needless to say, the raw footage proved to be highly entertaining with eruptions of riotous laughter...all at my expense. So strange to see oneself on film let alone hear your own voice on a recording. I had no idea I was so animated and goofy - good times.

Here's Keith on set with camera man, Robert, and his lovely assistant (and wife), Marilyn. Marilyn's love of Mexican folk art is passionate, to say the least, and her artful vignettes are ubiquitous around their home. The bright, bold colors make an excellent backdrop for film.

At the moment, Robert is busy editing all the raw footage (hope he has something usable!!). So, stay tuned, kiddies, for a brand new video of yours truly fumbling about with sharp objects, gesticulating spasmodically, and flinging flour every which way. You get TWO recipes absolutely FREE of charge! Yes, that's right, with no obligation to you, you get not one, not two, but TWO scone recipes to use and reuse as you see fit. (By the way, Hearth & Larder claims no responsibility if you think these recipes are terrible. Hey, what do you expect? They're free.)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Norma's pie crust recipe: Just a wee bit of lard!


I'm standing next to Norma Barnes; a kindred soul and one heck of a gardener and homemaker. Born in Ireland, Norma came to Canada over 40 years ago and she and her husband, Alan, have always had a kitchen garden. It's actually the same garden I was lucky enough to pillage through and collect such a bounty I have in my arms here. A plethora of fresh herbs - coriander seeds (which I plan to dry and use in my Indian and Mexican recipes), French tarragon, basil, thyme, rosemary, oregano, parsley and gorgeous beefsteak and Roma tomatoes. Heaven!

Norma promised we'd make something together and that's just what we did. Fresh blueberry pie!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Free Blackberries!

So, I go to the Farmer's Market on Saturday and buy $10 worth of farmed blackberries; big, flavorless, blackberries. On my way home I noticed the blackberry brambles, which are considered more of a weed here in Vancouver, are sporting deep black, small berries which are finally getting ripe and...sweet! I started picking and soon ended up with about 2 lbs of berries. Naturally, I put them in the bag with the cherries (which was perforated) in my cloth reusable bag leaving a trail of black juice as I walked the rest of the way home, into our building, in the elevator and through the kitchen. A minor inconvenience for what insanely delicious concoctions the dripping mass was soon to become.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Super cute fluffy kittens!!!

Okay, so they're not exactly fluffy...
But super cute, right? Admittedly, this blog post is a bit of a "filler" one. I've just been taking a little break from blogging the last two weeks so I resorted to trickery to get your attention. I know; lame. But now that you're here why not stick around! I'll even throw in a recipe. But you have to read through to the bottom to get it. We cool? Cool.


Anyway...
So, now that I have a few Saturday's off from selling my stuff I headed over to the Trout Lake Farmer's Market here in East Vancouver last Saturday to buy some other people's stuff. It's about a five minute drive from my house which is most convenient...and most excellent. Not surprisingly, but not entirely expected, it was absolutely PACKED! But it was a gorgeous sunny day so what could be better? Umm....a million dollars? Well, considering the crappy summer we've had, I think the sun is a fair trade off.

Normally, I tend to only get specific things at Farmer's Market. I mean, it's easy to spend $50 on groceries and I just don't have that kind of cash lining my wallet. But this time I decided to splurge and just picked up what I wanted. I couldn't believe how beautiful the apricots were! Small with a gorgeous blush of red and quite good. I also bought three kinds of new potatoes, kale, farm fresh eggs, sweet golden beets, heirloom tomatoes of all colors, corn and some garlic. And speaking of garlic...

Monday, August 1, 2011

HARK! Are those sleigh-bells I hear?


I know it seems a tad early to be bringing up the holiday season now. I mean, we finally have some summer weather here in the Pacific Northwest, but after August 6th (this coming Saturday) Hearth & Larder will be taking two months off the whole market thing. However, I'll be back in the Fall beginning October 1st. And right around the corner are the Holidays and you know what THAT means...HOLIDAY BAKING!!! So, from November 26th through December 31st I will be making holiday items: Sourdough Stollen Rolls (pictured above), Lebkuchen (German Christmas Cookies), Snowballs and a few TBA items.

In the mean time...here are the scheduled Fall market dates for Hearth & Larder:

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Number One!

Top Members this Week - Dreamers Into Doers
- Hearth & Larder

Hey, would you look at that! Hearth & Larder is ranked No. 1 this week! That is cooly shmooly.



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