Monday, December 28, 2009

December Daring Baker Challenge: Gingerbread House

The December 2009 Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to you by Anna of Very Small Anna and Y of Lemonpi. They chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ everywhere to bake and assemble a gingerbread house from scratch. They chose recipes from Good Housekeeping and from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book as the challenge recipes.
I was excited and a bit intimidated by this month's challenge. I've never made a gingerbread house and wasn't too sure that I could build on that would actually stay together. Anna's step-by-step instructions made putting the house together a little less scary. I used Anna's recipe for the gingerbread and Royal icing to "glue" my house together. I couldn't believe but the walls actually stayed together AND held the roof up! Cool. Maybe I missed my calling and should go into architecture...okay maybe not...

Anna's Recipe:
Spicy Gingerbread Dough (from Good Housekeeping)
2 1/2 cups (500g) packed dark brown sugar
1 1/2 cups (360mL) heavy cream or whipping cream
1 1/4 cups (425g) molasses
9 1/2 cups (1663g) all-purpose flour
2 tablespoon(s) baking soda
1 tablespoon(s) ground ginger

1. In very large bowl, with wire whisk (or with an electric mixer), beat brown sugar, cream, and molasses until sugar lumps dissolve and mixture is smooth. In medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and ginger. With spoon, stir flour mixture into cream mixture in 3 additions until dough is too stiff to stir, then knead with hands until flour is incorporated and dough is smooth. 2. Divide dough into 4 equal portions; flatten each into a disk to speed chilling. Wrap each disk well with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight, until dough is firm enough to roll.
3. Grease and flour large cookie sheets (17-inch by 14-inch/43x36cm)
4. Roll out dough, 1 disk at a time on each cookie sheet to about 3/16-inch thickness. (Placing 3/16-inch dowels or rulers on either side of dough to use as a guide will help roll dough to uniform thickness.)

5. Trim excess dough from cookie sheet; wrap and reserve in refrigerator. Chill rolled dough on cookie sheet in refrigerator or freezer at least 10 minutes or until firm enough to cut easily.
6. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F (149C)
7. Use chilled rolled dough, floured poster board patterns, and sharp paring knife to cut all house pieces on cookie sheet, making sure to leave at least 1 1/4 inches between pieces because dough will expand slightly during baking. Wrap and reserve trimmings in refrigerator. Combine and use trimmings as necessary to complete house and other decorative pieces. Cut and bake large pieces and small pieces separately.

8. Chill for 10 minutes before baking if the dough seems really soft after you cut it. This will discourage too much spreading/warping of the shapes you cut.
9. Bake 25 to 30 minutes, until pieces are firm to the touch. Do not overbake; pieces will be too crisp to trim to proper size.

Equipment Needed:
Stand or handheld electric mixer (not required but it will make mixing the dough a lot easier and faster)
Plastic wrap
Rolling pin
Parchment paper
Baking sheets
Cardboard cake board or sheet of thick cardboard
Foil, if desired
Small saucepan
Small pastry brush (optional)
Piping bag with small round tip, or paper cornets if you're comfortable with them

Royal Icing:
1 large egg white
3 cups (330g) powdered sugar
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon almond extract
Beat all ingredients until smooth, adding the powdered sugar gradually to get the desired consistency. Pipe on pieces and allow to dry before assembling. If you aren't using it all at once you can keep it in a small bowl, loosely covered with a damp towel for a few hours until ready to use. You may have to beat it slightly to get it an even consistency if the top sets up a bit. Piped on the house, this will set up hard over time.

We were free to decorate our houses any way we chose. I added some sugar windows and a cute little snowman made from fondant.


Thanks Anna and Y for a great challenge!!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Merry Decorating

The holiday season is a great excuse to make lots of cookies, which are my personal weakness. I'll turn down a piece of cake, say no thanks to a doughnut, but wave a homemade cookie in my face and I'm all over it! Sugar cookies are pretty high up on my list of favorite cookies. I've posted before about how much I like this sugar cookie recipe, but if your looking for a great tasting cookie that really holds its shape when cut-out, then try these cookies. I discovered this recipe a couple of years ago when I hosted my first Drop in and Decorate party. These cookies are perfect for making cut out cookies. They maintain their shape and size and don't puff up when baked, so you end up with a nice flat surface to decorate.

Makes 16-20 large cookies; see note below for making multiple batches.
 Printable recipe
3-1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1-1/4 cups best quality unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 Tbsp milk
2-1/2 tsp best quality pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a couple of baking sheets with a Silpat or parchment paper. In a large bowl, stir together flour, baking powder and salt. In another large bowl or the bowl of a heavy-duty stand mixer, beat together the butter and sugar, until fluffy. Add egg, milk and vanilla, and continue to beat until well blended and smooth. Beat flour mixture into the butter mixture until smooth. Divide dough in half. Place one half on a sheet of parchment paper or wax paper; cover with another sheet and roll to 1/4 inch. Repeat with second half of dough. Refrigerate dough for at least 30 minutes, or up to a couple of days (or, if making far in advance, you can freeze at this point. Wrap sheets tightly in plastic wrap). Remove one sheet from the refrigerator; peel off the top wax paper, then replace paper and invert dough. Peel off and discard what is now the top sheet of paper, and cut out the cookies. (cookies will spread, so do not place too close together on the baking sheet). Reroll scraps, refrigerating if necessary to firm the dough.
Bake for 6-9 minutes, or until just lightly colored on top and slightly darker at the edges. Rotate sheets halfway through for even browning. Remove pans from oven and let cookies cool 2-3 minutes. Then remove cookies to a rack and let cool completely. (At this point, the cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to two weeks, in layers separated by parchment or wax paper.) After the cookies are completely cooled, decorate with Royal Icing. 

*Note: to make multiple batches, do NOT double the recipe. It’s hard to control proportions. Instead, make multiples of the original recipe, one batch at a time, for guaranteed success!

*Another note: Rolled sheets of cookie dough can be made ahead and frozen (or, if you're going to use them within a day or two, you can stack the rolled sheets of dough on a cookie sheet in the refrigerator). Let defrost until dough is pliable enough to be cut without breaking cookies, but not necessarily completely defrosted.

I tried several different recipes for Royal Icing. Some work better than others. It's really all about getting the right balance of water. I've had the best success using this recipe, but still find that with each batch I have to adjust the amount of water slightly. For a step-by-step guide to decorating with Royal Icing, check out this tutorial over at Annie's Eats

Royal Icing
4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
2 tbsp. meringue powder
5 tbsp. water
Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Mix on low speed until the sheen has disappeared and the icing has a matte appearance (about 7-10 minutes).  Transfer the contents of the mixing bowl to an air-tight container. Add water in small amounts mixing well until desired consistency is reached. Gel icing colors work best for coloring your royal icing. You can use liquid food coloring, but it will change the constancy of your icing, so keep that in mind if you intend to use a liquid food coloring. Keep the royal icing in air tight containers. Do not refrigerate.


 Merry decorating!!

This is also my submission to Food Blogga's 3rd annual Eat Christmas Cookies round up. If you'd like to send in a cookie to be added to the round-up go here. To check out all the cookies sent in so far, go here. 
There are some really mouthwatering looking cookies so be sure to check them out!!


Sunday, December 13, 2009

Season's Eatings... from across the pond

There are definitely more food blogs than ever out there these days. Which delights a food lover such as myself. I love it when I stumble onto a food blog I've never visited before. It's really neat to get a glimpse into someone else's kitchen.  Thyme for Cooking is one of my more recent discoveries. It's owner Kate is an expat living in France and her blog is packed with amazing food and funny stories. She is also the host of Season's Eating's, a blogging event that has bloggers from all over the swapping ingredients from their part of the world. Each person sends a small gift of a local herb, spice, or other food that is unique to or characteristic of where they live, along with a recipe using it, to another blogger. Sounds fun doesn't it?? So I decided to join in the fun. I had no idea who would be sending me a package or what it would contain.

Then about two weeks later I got a package from Rosie of Bakes and Books. My package came from clear across the pond and was filled with all sorts of wonderful goodies from her part of the world. There was a packet of Bonfire Toffee, very tasty candies that are eaten during the Bonfire Night celebrations. She also sent a box of Jaffa cakes, sort of cross between a cake and a cookie, and a box of Yorkshire Tea. Along with the tea was a recipe for a tea bread called Bara Brith. I'd never eaten or even heard of Bara Brith but Rosie described it as "a scrummy fruit cake choc-full of gorgeous spices and tea". With an introduction like that, of course I couldn't wait to make a loaf. 

 It's fantastic and I can't believe I've gone my whole life without eating this before! It the perfect companion to a cup of hot tea. Thank you Rosie!!! I loved it all especially your hand written descriptions of all the items! Hubs and I are addicted to the Yorkshire tea and I'll be making another loaf of the tea bread very soon.

Bara Brith (Tea Bread)    
300g assorted dried fruit (1 1/2 cups mostly raisins/golden raisins) I used golden raisins, currants, and dried apricots.
2 teabags
250ml boiling water
225g self-raising flour (2 cups)
2 tsp mixed spice (ie. cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger) I used mostly cinnamon and about a 1/4 tsp each ginger/nutmeg.
150g brown sugar (I used about a half a cup)
1 egg, beaten 
3 TB milk

Make up 250ml of tea. Put the dried fruit in the tea and let soak overnight.
Preheat oven to 350 F or 180 C and grease a 1 lb loaf pan.
In a mixing bowl, sift together, the flour, spices, and sugar.
Mix in the soaked fruit along with the excess tea, the egg, and the milk.
Pour the batter into the loaf pan and bake for about 1 hour.
Rosie recommends making a double batch and baking "one humongous" loaf. I think I'll do that next time!!

Thanks Kate for putting this event together. I can't wait to see all the other Season's Eating's participants entries.
There will be a round-up of all the participants posted on Thyme for Cooking on Dec. 28. So be sure to check it out!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Christmas Gifts from the Kitchen

Sorry for the lack of posting but alas, I'm STILL without a computer!! I didn't realize how dependent I was on my computer until it died. The computer guru that has my computer said I had a program failure and my hard drive has to be wiped clean. Hopefully he's going to save some of my pictures. Take a word of advice from me; be sure to back-up pictures and documents you want to keep. I learned that lesson the hard way!
Anyway hubs and I have been sharing his laptop for the time being which means we both have limited access to a computer. haha I don't have any of my programs for my camera on this computer so I thought I'd surf the web and share some links to some Christmas gifting ideas.
Nothing says Merry Christmas like a handmade gift from your kitchen. Here are some ideas that I inspired me:

Look at Martha Stewart's recipe for Cranberry Noels. These gorgeous little shortbread cookies will definitely put you in the Christmas mood.

If something savory is more to your taste, check out these Spiced Nuts from Fine Living. Just put these in a cello bag and tie with a decorative ribbon and they're ready to be given away.

This luscious Hazelnut-Mocha Sauce is the perfect topping for an ice cream lover.

I love this Spiced Tea Mix. Get a cute mug and you've got a great gift.

When you're making your homemade gifts, don't forget the dog! Check out this idea for for Doggie Bark
For the pet lover in your life, I came across these Cork Pets. Okay so they're not homemade but how cute are these:

I hope this gives you some gift ideas for someone on your Christmas list. Hopefully I'll get my computer back soon and I can get back to regular blogging.... maybe Santa will bring me a new computer for Christmas!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Cannoli and a Broken Computer

Sorry that there's no post but my computer crashed right before Thanksgiving and I lost my pictures and post from this challenge. My computer is currently in the shop and I hope that all my data is restored! I'll try to post my cannoli's when I get my computer back later this week.  The November 2009 Daring Bakers Challenge was chosen and hosted by Lisa Michele of Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives. She chose the Italian Pastry, Cannolo (Cannoli is plural), using the cookbooks Lidia’s Italian-American Kitchen by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich and The Sopranos Family Cookbook by Allen Rucker; recipes by Michelle Scicolone, as ingredient/direction guides. She added her own modifications/changes, so the recipe is not 100% verbatim from either book 

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Blue Cheese Pomegranate Bites

Earlier this month I saw that fresh pomegranates were in abundance at my market. I love pomegranates, they are not only delicious, but beautiful as well. Cut into a ripe pomegranate and you are rewarded with the sweet ruby red treasure contained within. I'm not exactly sure why, but for me they herald the beginning of holiday season. Maybe it's that glorious red color. Whatever the reason, fresh pomegranates mean the holidays must be upon us! With the holiday party season in mind, I thought I use my fresh pomegranates to make some appetizers. These are easy and fairly quick to make. You can make up the pomegranate syrup ahead of time. It will keep for several weeks in the refrigerator. Make extra syrup, it's so good you'll want to have some to drizzle it over ice cream, yogurt, pancakes etc.

Blue Cheese Pomegranate Bites

1  (8-ounce) piece of blue cheese, chilled (you can also use the crumbled blue cheese)

1 1/2   packages frozen puff pastry sheets, thawed

1/3  cup  pomegranate syrup (recipe below)

1/4 cup arils (seeds) from 1 large pomegranate

If not using the crumbled blue cheese, cut cheese into 24 cubes, and set aside.
Roll pastry into a 15- x 10-inch rectangle on a lightly floured surface; cut into 24 squares. Fit squares into miniature muffin pans, extending corners slightly above cup rims.
Bake pastry at 425° for 10 to 12 minutes or until it begins to brown. Remove from oven, and gently press handle of a wooden spoon into center of each pastry, forming a shell.
Spoon 1/2 teaspoon syrup into each shell; top with a piece of blue cheese. Bake 5 more minutes or until cheese melts. Top with the fresh pomegranate arils (seeds) and serve immediately.

Pomegranate Syrup 


 4 cups fresh pomegranate juice

2 1/2 cups sugar

1 teaspoon lemon juice


In a saucepan, combine pomegranate juice, sugar and lemon juice over medium heat.
Stir until sugar has completely dissolved.
Allow to cook over medium high heat for 20-25 minutes, or until juice is the consistency of syrup.
Remove from heat and allow to cool. Store in airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

These appetizers are also very versatile. 24 wine-and-cheese crackers may be substituted. Top each cracker with the cheese, and drizzle with the syrup; place on a baking sheet. Bake at 350° for 5 minutes or until cheese melts. Top with the fresh pomegranate arils. Brie could be substituted for the blue cheese.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Pear Muffins

I gone and done it again. Every time I swear to myself that this will be THE LAST TIME! But then in the heat of the moment, when my defenses are down, with such rational reasons running through my mind, I falter. I fall off the wagon, give into to the temptation. I have such good intentions how can it be wrong??? I blame it on Sam, really I can't be held responsible my actions with such temptations thrown at me around every corner. I'm way too weak! I know I've come here and confessed this many times before. I mean it each and every time. I WILL NOT buy more of a perishable item than I can use before it goes bad! I have good intentions and I reeeaally mean it at the time, but then I go into Sam's and what do they have there to taut me with, but the cutest little Seckel pears you've ever seen. I completely ignore the fact that they come in a 4 pound box. I'll make caramel dipped pears for that fruit tray I've got to make this week; is my rational. All the while ignoring the whole 4 pound thing. By the way, four pounds equals a lot of tiny pears.

 Caramel dipped baby pears, adorable!

So fast forward to later in the week. I did use about 8 of the pears for the fruit tray. They were in fact adorable dipped in caramel. Like little gleaming gems on my fruit and cheese tray. The only problem, I still had about 3 pounds of tiny pears left over. So still with good intentions, I planned to make a pear and apple crisp with the rest. Yeah well, you know what they say about good intentions! So today, when I finally got the chance to do a little baking, I realize the pears are way too ripe for a crisp. At this point they'd disintegrate to a soggy pulp if baked. Not so good for a crisp.  However, mushy fruit is great for muffins. So if you get one of those fruit boxes given to you over the holidays, here's a wonderful way to use up some of the pears.

Although I plan to try to be better in the future and not allow myself to be tempted by cuteness or a good bargain, I'm glad that I had to find a way to use the pears because these muffins are divine. They are very similar to a banana nut muffin, but with the delicate flavor of pear rather than the overwhelming flavor of banana.

Pear Muffins
(Printable recipe)
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon finely minced crystallized ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1 egg -- beaten
zest of 1 lemon
1/4 cup melted butter -- cooled
1 cup mashed pear pulp -- (2 or 3 soft regular sized pears or 6-8 Seckel pears)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, F.

Mash the pears.

 Sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.

 Chop the pecans

Beat together milk, beaten egg, butter and lemon zest and crystallized ginger. Mix pears and nuts into flour mixture. Gently stir milk mixture into dry ingredients. Batter should be lumpy, not smooth. Do not over mix.

I used a silicon pan, but a regular muffin tin is fine.

Spray muffin pans with nonstick spray. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full. Bake at 350 degrees F for 20 to 25 minutes, until tops are browned. Remove from pan immediately, and serve warm. If you have any leftovers, which I can't imagine, they can be kept a couple of days in an airtight container, or frozen.

Gorgeous Pear Muffins

Perfect with a bit of butter and a pipping hot cup of Twinings Apple Cinnamon  tea.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Salted Caramel Pots de Creme

These salted caramel pots de creme were the sweet ending to Hubs birthday dinner last week. He's always a sucker for any creme brulee desserts when we go out to dinner. Caramel is his other favorite dessert flavor so caramel pots de creme seemed like the obvious dessert choice for his birthday dinner. Last summer we got hooked on Haagen Dazs fleur de sel caramel ice cream. It has the perfect balance of caramel sweet and just a hint of salt. I thought I'd try to recreate that in these pots de creme. I think that hint of salt takes this dessert from wonderful to sublime! Happy Birthday Hubs!

Salted Caramel Pots de Creme
serves 6-8

Source- Dorie Greenspan, Baking from my Home to Yours (slightly adapted)

2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup sugar (divided)
2 large eggs
5 large egg yolks
Pinch of fleur de sel or sea salt

Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 300 degrees. Line a large roasting pan with a double thickness of paper towels, then place eight 4-ounce or six 6 ounce custard cups, ramekins, or pot de creme cups in the pan.
Pour cream and milk together and warm them in the microwave or in a saucepan over medium heat; set aside.
Measure out 1/4 cup of sugar and set aside.
Heat a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan over med-high heat and sprinkle in 2 tablespoons of sugar from the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar.As soon as the sugar melts and starts to caramelize, stir. When the color is uniform, stir in another 2 tablespoons of sugar and continue to stir until it is melted and colored. Continue adding the sugar 2 tablespoons at a time. When the sugar is a deep amber, almost  a mahogany color, standing away from the pan, so you don't get splattered, add the warmed cream/milk. The mixture will bubble furiously and may seize, but don't panic, just keep stirring until it smooths out. Remove pan from the heat.

Put the eggs, yolks, pinch of fleur de sel, and the reserved 1/4 cup of sugar in a mixing bowl and whisk until pale and slightly thick. While still whisking, drizzle in a little of the caramel liquid. This will temper the eggs so you don't end up with scrambled eggs. Whisking all the while, slowly pour in the remaining liquid. If there is any foam on top of the custard, skim off with a spoon. The foam will cause craters on the top of the custard as it bakes.
Arrange custard cups in a small roasting pan, leaving an even amount of space between the cups, and fill each cup nearly to the top with the custard mixture. Carefully slide the pan into the oven; then, using a pitcher, fill the roasting pan with enough hot water to come halfway up the sides of the cups. Cover the pan with plastic wrap (don’t worry—it can stand the heat) and poke two holes in two diagonally opposite corners. Bake the custards for about 35-40 minutes, or until the edges darken ever so slightly and the custards are set but still jiggle a little in the center when you shake them gently.

Remove the pan from the oven and let the custards sit in the water bath for 10 minutes. Peel off the plastic wrap, lift the cups out of the water and cool the custards in the refrigerator. (The pots de creme can be prepared a day ahead and, when cool, covered with plastic wrap and stored in the refrigerator.)

To serve: The pots de creme are at their best at room temperature, so remove them from the refrigerator and keep them on the counter for about 20 minutes before serving. Sprinkle a little fleur de sel or sea salt on the tops of the custard.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Unexpected packages...

Look what arrived on my doorstep a few days ago. The great folks at POM Wonderful sent me a sample of the two new flavors that they've developed.  Kiwi and Nectarine pomegranate juice will be coming soon to a grocery store near you. Both of the flavors are very tasty but I really like the Kiwi.
This is the second time I've gotten a box from POM. The first box contained 6 small regular bottles of POM Wonderful pomegranate juice. I used some of that to make Pomegranate gelato. I just went basic and simple with this juice and added a big splash to some sparkling water. Very refreshing!
Thanks POM it's always fun to get an unexpected package containing a wonderful surprise!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Pumpkin Latte

I will be the first to admit that I've got a slight ummm make that a major addiction. My drug of choice?? Coffee. The idea of starting the day without a mug of steaming hot coffee makes me shudder. Most days, just the thought of that mug of coffee is what motivates me to rise from the warm nest of my bed. Waiting for the pot to brew is the longest ten minutes of my day, but ohhh it's so worth the wait! That first sip aaahhh, nothing like it. Bring on the day!
I love the smell, taste, pretty much everything, about coffee. No love isn't to the right word, I adore it. Really coffee holds a special place in my heart.Generally I'm not a fan of flavored coffee. I want it straight with a splash of milk/cream. No sugar or flavored creamers, just plain ole coffee for me. This is still true in the morning. DO NOT mess around with that first cup of the day.
A couple of years ago I discovered (along with millions of others) Starbuck's pumpkin latte....oh my... Wow! Pumpkin and coffee ingenious! This was a flavored coffee that I could get into. However at five bucks a pop and more calories than I want to know, I didn't indulge very often. I decided to try to duplicate the flavors of the pumpkin latte at home. While not this is not quite a coffee shop style coffee, it's a pretty good knock off that is easily made at home, with no special equipment required. Drink up!!

1 cup very strong coffee or espresso
2/3 cup evaporated milk(regular or fat free evaporated milk)
1/4 cup pumpkin puree
1 to 2 Tbl maple syrup (or use granulated sugar, if you prefer)
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/8 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice or ground cinnamon

Combine coffee, evaporated milk, pumpkin, sugar and pumpkin pie spice in a small saucepan. Heat until very hot over medium-low heat and stir occasionally. To make a foamy top to your latte. Carefully transfer hot mixture into blender container; cover with lid and then hold down lid with folded towel or potholder. Blend for 1 minute.Take care when blending hot liquids!  I used an immersion stick blender. It made a nice foamy top.Carefully pour into mugs and sprinkle with cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Carrot Soup with Rosemary Apple Bread

Yet another reason to love Autumn...the return of soup! Unless it's served cold, not much soup gets eaten around here during the summer month's. So I always look forward to cooler temps because I enjoy making soup, all kinds, almost as much as I enjoy eating them. The pot of goodness gently simmering on the stove. The whole house scented with the smell of its promise of warmth and comfort. It's like curling up in a warm blanket.
In the last week or so we've had temps that dropped into the 40's at night and I started craving a good bowl of soup. Carrot soup has long been a favorite of mine. As with most soups, carrot soup is open to your interpretation. A variety of herbs and spice can be used to flavor carrot soup. Use you imagination. This is my favorite way to make carrot soup. The secret to this soup is the apple, it lends a wonderful hint of sweetness to the carrots. This soup is wonderful the day you make it but even better a day or two later. It holds up to a week when kept refrigerated, so make a little extra!
Looking back at my past few posts, I guess you could say I've been on a bit of an apple roll! I've had a plethora of apples as of late and have been looking for ways to use them all. I came across this recipe for rosemary apple bread and thought it would be the perfect companion to my carrot soup. They were so good together, I decided to post both the recipes. This bread delicious, the hint of rosemary is wonderful with the apples. Don't be scared away because it's a yeast dough. You won't believe how simple it is to make, it's almost disaster proof.

Carrot Soup


1Tbl. butter
1 Tbl. extra virgin olive oil
1onion, peeled and chopped
1sm clove garlic chopped
1 small green apple, peeled and chopped
1 small russet or other starchy potato, peeled and chopped
1 1/4 pounds carrots, peeled and sliced
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
1/2 tsp ground coriander
6 cups water
dash of freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 cup (or more if you want it richer),whipping cream
Salt and pepper


In a 6-quart pan, over medium high heat, add butter, garlic and onions sprinkle with a little salt and cook, stirring often, until onions are soft. Add water, carrots, apple, potato coriander and ginger (I add a little salt and pepper here too. This helps you to achieve great layers of flavor). Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until carrots are tender when pierced 20- 25 minutes.
Remove from heat and allow to cool. Transfer to a blender or using an immersion blender, blend until smooth.  Be careful when blending hot liquids as the mixture can spurt out of the blender. Return to the pan and add cream, stir over high heat until hot. Add salt and pepper and nutmeg, to taste.

( Print Recipe)

Rosemary Apple Bread 


3 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 package quick-rise yeast (about 2 1/4 teaspoons)
1 cup warm water (100° to 110°)
1 cup diced peeled Granny Smith apple (about 1 small)
Cooking spray
2 teaspoons butter, melted


Combine 2 3/4 cups flour, salt, rosemary, and yeast in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add water, stirring until a soft dough forms. Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 8 minutes); add enough of remaining flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands. Cover and let rest 5 minutes. Knead in apple. Place the dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and let rest 10 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375°.

Shape dough into a loaf; place dough in an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray. Gently press dough into pan; cover. Let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 30 minutes or until doubled in size.

Bake at 375° for 45 minutes or until bread is lightly browned and sounds hollow when tapped. Brush top with butter. Cool in pan 5 minutes. Remove from pan, and cool completely on a wire rack. source: Cooking Light, Nov. 2003