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Friday, March 25, 2016

RECIPE: Chocolate-Almond Bundt Cake with Strawberry Sauce

One of my favorite cakes is my mother's bundt cake. The batter has two parts; rum-cocoa and almond which are marbled together so each slice has a bit of both. The best part is how it is served. Strawberries are pureed with a little sugar to make a mouthwatering sauce. It's poured generously over each serving then topped with fresh whipped cream. Oh, man, it's good. And simple! So let's get to it, shall we?

Monday, December 7, 2015

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. (Recipe to follow).

Saturday, November 21, 2015

RECIPE: Cranberry-Pecan & Rosemary Crackers

I'm having my family over for Thanksgiving for the first time in years (I lived in Canada for ten so that's my excuse) and wanted to do a few extra special things. One of which is make my own crackers to serve my marmalade with. I was going to purchase some of those expensive raisin, rosemary, pecan crackers (you know the one's) in the fancy box but I figured, heck, I can make my own! Plus I'm frugal. (Sounds better than cheap, right?) Anyway, I found a couple recipes and mixed and matched. I didn't have the mini loaf pans required so I improvised with muffin tins. Worked pretty well but you do get some waste. Mind you, we nibbled on the scraps while the crackers were toasting so nothing actually went to waste.

On their own, these crispy, slightly chewy, aromatic and very flavorful crackers are delicious. But they are the PERFECT companion to my Orange-Cranberry Marmalade and a schmear of fresh (or aged) goat cheese. The only laborious part is the actual slicing. I sure wish I had my mother's electric bread slicer! That would make this a breeze. Aside from that, these are very easy to make. (Recipe to follow).

Thursday, November 12, 2015

RECIPE: Orange-Cranberry Marmalade

A month and a half in and it's finally beginning to feel like Fall. The air is cool (for LA), crisp and clear. I get to wear hats and finger-less mittens (no, I don't really need them). Trader Joe's is selling those cinnamon scented brooms you can smell a mile away. Hiking in the sun is actually tolerable. And the markets boast cool weather crops like pumpkins, pomegranates, parsnips and mandarins...and, one of my favorites, cranberries! I will stock up and stash as much as my freezer will hold to use for months to come. I'll add them to my juicer to get a dose of antioxidants and use the pulp for my Blueberry-Juice Pulp Bran Muffins.

Off to the General Bottle Supply for some jars and lids. It's time to make a new flavor! Orange-Cranberry. This marmalade is so good I wish I could get cranberries year round! It's perfectly balanced which is not easy to achieve as oranges and cranberries are both rather dominating flavors. It tastes like orange marmalade with a bold aftertaste of cranberry. I've kept the berries whole so you get some nice texture from both the orange peel and the berries. Plus it's a gorgeous ruby red! Top your morning yogurt with it, how about a dollop on a crispy English muffin or serve it with buttermilk biscuits at Thanksgiving? It's all good. (Recipe to follow).

Monday, November 9, 2015

RECIPE: Blueberry Juice Pulp Bran Muffins

In an effort to eat healthier I bought a juicer. What a great idea! You get fresh juiced fruit and vegetables in a matter of minutes. However, the bi-product of juicing is pulp. Lots of pulp. And since I don't have a garden compost pile to toss it in I was tossing it OUT. Boy, did I hate doing that. But what choice did I have? I began researching uses for juice pulp and found my solution. Muffins!

I experimented with several variations of flours, different fats, sugars, and other components. I'm no nutritionist but I think I came up with a great tasting, low sugar, healthy muffin. With the added bonus of a clear conscience by recycling otherwise discarded "waste". (Recipe to follow).

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Orange ya glad ya I didn't say banana?

My father loves his orange marmalade.
Well, not his marmalade. His area of expertise within the kitchen domain is limited to oatmeal. The best oatmeal, mind you, but that's another story. Growing up we always had a jar of the bitter, orange stuff in the icebox. Yuck. Bitter, bitter, bitter. I just didn't get it. Maybe it was strategic planning knowing we kids wouldn't touch it. But he also likes Miracle Whip. The man's mind is a mystery.

Topped and tailed oranges.
After watching a video of June Taylor on Chow making marmalade I got inspired to face my fears and decided to make my own. This process is an old school method and requires time, a sort of zen-like state of mind and a fair degree of nerdiness which I proudly possess. There are two stages of cooking the marmalade. The first stage is cooking the orange segments and zest in water along with a jelly bag containing the membranes and seeds of which you just separated from the segments.

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.


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)

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

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!


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

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.


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.

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!