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Monday, February 13, 2017

RECIPE: The best Meyer Lemon marmalade ever. Plus new marmalade flavors for 2017!

Got a whole lotta marmalade goin' on here! For the last two years I have been harvesting oranges from my parents' Navel Orange tree. Or shall I say, I have been asked to..."take some home" and end up with about 30 lbs. No problem I can put these to good use! And now that my mother's Meyer Lemon tree is in full production I can "take some of those, too". About a giant grocery bag full.

I set to work and spent the better part of the weekend with my face in front of a boiling batch of citrusy goodness.

My mother's oranges always make wonderful marmalade and I couldn't be more satisfied with the outcome, however, the stand out for me this year is the Meyer Lemon Marmalade. I tried a new recipe and result is a thick, sweet and tangy, oh-so-lemony flavor without a hint of bitterness. For a bit of variety I made a cranberry version, as well. More cranberry forward in flavor with a stiffer gel with a balanced lemony flavor. All in all this was a very successful weekend!

Meyer Lemon Marmalade Recipe
(adapted from Food & Wine)
12 - 14 Meyer Lemons (or 3 lbs), washed
3 cups sugar

Hearth & Larder Meyer Lemon Marmalade

Hearth & Larder Meyer Lemon Marmalade
Hearth & Larder Meyer Lemon Marmalade

Hearth & Larder Meyer Lemon Marmalade

Wash the lemons thoroughly. Next halve the lemons crosswise and juice them, reserving the juice. With the edge of a spoon, scrape the membranes and seeds from the halves revealing the pith. Cut halve the halves then slice the peels 1/8 inch thick. Discard seeds and membranes. The pith in the peels provides ample pectin to gel.

Blanching tenderizes the peel and removes bitterness.
In a large, heavy saucepan, cover the strips with 8 cups of cold water and bring to a boil. Boil for about 1 minute. Drain the strips and rinse under cold running water. Blanch two more times. On the third time, drain the strips but do not rinse them.

Return the strips to the pot and add the reserved juice and sugar. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Continue boiling (stir periodically and keep an eye out so it doesn't boil over) until the marmalade sets, about 30 minutes.

That's it! Spoon the marmalade into sterilized jars and seal. Makes about 4 - 8oz jars.

Hearth & Larder Meyer Lemon Marmalade

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Curried Butternut Squash Soup

I could blather on about butternut squash soup and paint a pretty picture of chopping farm fresh vegetables in the warmth of a cozy kitchen while the cold winds blow outside in the blueness of Winter but I know what you really want is the recipe, right? So, without further adieu, I present you the...



1 large butternut squash (about 3 lbs)
2-3 slices thick cut smoked bacon, diced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium carrot, peeled and chopped
1 celery stock, chopped
4-6 garlic cloves, chopped
1 poblano chili, roasted and skin removed
1 yellow bell pepper, roasted and skin removed
4 cups chicken stock or water
2 bay leaves
1 kaffir lime leaf (not essential but it give it a Thai flavor)
1 TB madras curry powder
1 tsp smoked paprika
2 tsp kosher salt or to taste

ROAST THE SQUASH - Preheat oven to 400˚
With a sharp chef's knife halve the squash lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds and (toast them for a snack!) or discard. Place the halves cut side up on a rimmed baking sheet or in a roasting pan, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt. Bake for about an hour or until flesh is very tender when pierced with a knife. Once the squash is cool enough to handle scrape out the flesh and set aside.

While the squash is roasting char the peppers over an open flame or under a broiler until the skin blackens. Place peppers in a container, bag or bowl covered with a plate and steam for about five minutes. Rub off skin under running water then chop and set aside.

Heat a dutch oven or heavy bottomed pot to medium and add the bacon and cook until browned. Remove all but a tablespoon of fat then add the carrots, celery, onion, peppers and garlic. Saute until softened then add the spices and cook a minute or two, stirring constantly. 

Add the squash, bay leaves, kaffir if using, and chicken stock or water. Bring to a boil then reduce to a medium simmer. Cook for about 45 minutes or until flavors develop and everything is nice a soft.

Once you're happy with the flavor, remove the kaffir and bay leaves and process with an immersion blender or whiz the soup in a blender or food processor until smooth. There's no rule you have to do this if you'd prefer it chunky. It's a very forgiving soup! Adjust salt at this point and serve with a dollop of crema (Mexican sour cream) or just regular sour cream. A sprinkling of fresh cilantro would be great...or nothing at all. It's up to you! Pictured, it was served with hot Italian sausage and collard greens (what I had on hand) but most of the time I like to eat it with toasted home baked sourdough bread topped with mashed avocado. Makes a healthy satisfying meal. Enjoy!

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Sourdough Sesame Seed Hamburger Buns

Ever wanted to make your own hamburger buns?

Yeah, me neither. I'm kidding. But I hadn't thought of it until I had a dire need to do something with the growing supply of sourdough starter accumulating in my ice box. Because as of late, I've decided to get back to baking and made my own starter. As a result have a LOT of it. So, in an effort to purge my increasing supply I opted to make burger buns since we love burgers. 

Highbrow "artisan" burger joints tend feature fancy fresh baked brioche buns. Shiny and browned to perfection. They look fancy but you can make these at home. They're easy!

I've found a recipe that produces flavorful, light yet sturdy buns and makes good use of my excess starter! That being said, sourdough starter it is not required. But it is worth the effort to make it as you'll have many, many other wonderful uses for it. Plus there's the bragging rights. Here's an excellent video on how to make your own. Enjoy the eye candy on the way to the recipe below.

(adapted from a recipe in The New York Times for Light Brioche Buns)

1 cup warm milk
2 tsp instant yeast
1/4 cup sourdough starter (optional)
1 TB sugar
1½ tsp salt
1 large egg
3 cups bread flour
2½ TB unsalted butter, softened

1 large egg beaten with 1 TB water
1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds (or sprinkle on desired amount)


Use a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; combine the milk, yeast, sourdough starter if using, sugar, salt and 1 egg. Mix briefly to combine. Add the flour to the bowl, and mix until incorporated. Mix in the butter. Switch to the dough hook and knead on low speed for about 6-8 minutes. The dough will be soft and tacky, but adding too much extra flour will make the buns tough.
(Of course you can do this all by hand but in my case I opted for machinery).

Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, 1-2 hours.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Use a dough scraper or a sharp chef's knife to divide the dough into eight equal parts. Gently form into a tight ball using the stretch and fold technique and place on the baking sheet, 3 inches apart. Cover loosely with lightly oiled plastic wrap and let rise again, 1-2 hours, until puffed up and nearly doubled.

Set a large metal pan of water (2-3 cups) on the lowest rack of the oven. Preheat the oven to 400˚ F with a rack in the center. Brush the tops of the buns lightly with the egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake the buns about 15 minutes rotating halfway through baking, until the tops are golden brown. Transfer to a rack to cool completely.

You needn't limit your enjoyment to burgers alone...these make excellent sandwich buns!

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!