Classic Cinnamon Swirl Bread

Classic Cinnamon Swirl BreadGive It a Whirl
Usually at the end of the year you start to see articles or news stories about what they big trends were in during the past year and what they will be going forward. I have not seen any yet…but if I had to pick a big trend for 2020, it would be bread baking.

The shelter-in-place order in March caught a lot of people off guard and put a huge strain on the food supply chain. On top of that we were bored. So, many people turned to bread making, not only out of necessity, but as a mean to pass the time and, frankly, for some much needed therapy. Suddenly people were sharing sourdough starter and trading baked goods for yeast.

Now that supplies have normalized, there are still several “new” bread makers that have embraced the hobby, but might need some new equipment to take them to the next level. A good bread pan can make a fantastic holiday gift either by itself or filled with something freshly baked and yummy. Quick breads like Banana Bread or a Cranberry Tea Loaf make great gifts—and an even better snack with a hot cup of tea on a chilly afternoon. Decent bread pans can cost $15-$18 depending on how serious you want to be. The fancy ones with different shapes and designs on them are, obviously, a bit more but a good basic loaf pan is always a good piece to have in your kitchen.

For those who want to show off their newfound bread making skills, this Classic Cinnamon Swirl Bread is a perfect choice. (High-end cinnamon would make a great stocking stuffer too!)

It’s an easy enough recipe that a novice bread maker can handle it, but it looks like it is much harder to make. The flavor is divine. I like to toast my slice, but my kids cannot wait that long. They just slice and eat. A double batch of this for Christmas morning would also make some tasty French toast….

Classic Cinnamon Swirl Bread Recipe
Adapted from King Arthur Flours
Yields 1 loaf Read more…

Amy’s Apple Crisp

Amy's Apple CrispAn Apple a Day
At the first sign of fall I get a yearning for something apple-y. If I lived back east I would be knee deep in apple cider donuts and spiced fresh cider. But alas, I am not. So when the first of the new apple crop hits the shelves (I’m looking at you Gravensteins) I make an apple crisp.

Usually when the new apple season is upon us, the temps outside are too hot to make turning your oven on seem like a good idea. But, I make an exception for apple crisp. Sometimes a little pain is worth the gain.

There are any number of ways you could make an apple crisp. Personally, I prefer to top mine with an oatmeal crumble. Of course, you can add other fruits besides apples in there too. The last of the summer stone fruits would work. I love adding a handful of raisins. Or, some of the new pears and later in the season, cranberries can add a bright pop of tartness. For the first crisp of the harvest season, I always keep it simple and go with only apples. I will make an exception for cinnamon or a little cardamom as a nice twist.

My recipe is pretty basic, though lately I have been adding some boiled cider to all of my apple recipe for a little added apple kick. This works great for your freshly-picked apples from the garden or market—but also with the ones that have been in your fruit bowls for a day or to longer than they should have.

This is dessert for the soul, especially when served with ice cream. But, the left overs make for a very satisfying breakfast the following morning…what? There’s oats in there. That counts!

Amy’s Apple Crisp
Yields 8 Servings Read more…

Raspberry Rhubarb Cobbler

Raspberry Rhubarb CobblerDitchin’ The Cheese
I had planned on talking about cheese this week. You can never go wrong with cheese. But then, sometimes life throws you a curveball. Since it’s now March, everywhere you look things have gone green in anticipation of St. Patrick’s Day. And, of course, I immediately think “Cheese!” (I know. My friends and family have long since stopped trying to understand my thought processes.)

However, over the weekend, I made something that was just so good I couldn’t stop myself from writing about it. The cheese will have to wait…

My in-laws were in town so I had everyone over for a lovely salmon dinner with roasted asparagus. It was while picking out the asparagus that I was enticed by the gorgeous rhubarb in all of its deep red glory that was calling my name from the shelf above. To me, rhubarb is a sign of hope that we are in fact leaving winter, and its cabbages and root vegetables, behind to usher in the new and more interesting produce that arrives with spring. My entire family loves rhubarb so there was no question. I was not leaving the store without it. But what to make?

When it comes to rhubarb recipes, I like to keep it simple. I love a good crisp—or even just roasting it by itself to put in yogurt. Strawberry Rhubarb Pie is always a hit. But, the strawberries aren’t that great yet so I will leave that to when it weather is warmer. I chose this recipe for Raspberry Rhubarb Cobbler because it was fairly quick, and something about the twist of the raspberries just appealed to me.

I have never seen a dessert disappear so fast. It might be because the flavors were so bright and different from what we’ve been eating in the last few months. But, this one, my friends, is a definite keeper. The color was stunning and I think the biscuits on top will be how I do all my cobblers going forward.

I did make some changes to the original recipe. For one, I added more cornstarch. The filling was a little too loose for my tastes. I also bumped up the sugar just a bit. Although, you could add some honey if you prefer.

Raspberry Rhubarb Cobbler Recipe  Read more…

Breakfast Grits with Succotash

Breakfast Grits with SuccotashSouthern Romance
I’m a reader. I easily read 2-3 books a week. Granted, I am not always reading the really heavy stuff. (I have a thing for romance novels. Sorry, not sorry. 😜) I am also that person who will read a series over and over if I love it—which is what I started doing last week. My current selection is a Romance series I have now read three times. It is set in the charming city of Charleston, SC and while all of the characters are fantastic, the real star of these books, in my opinion, is the food.

There’s a lot of talk about bacon, and shrimp, and cheese grits in these pages and it has been making my mouth water the whole time. I have always been a fan of a tasty bowl of shrimp and grits. And, to read the words used to describe them in the story makes my culinary imagination run wild. The recipe that stands out the most is one for a bowl of breakfast grits topped with southern succotash and a poached egg. I mean. I just can’t even…It’s killin’ me!

Unfortunately, there is no recipe to go along with the tasty prose so I had to recreate it on my own. For the first time in a while, I will actually be able to sleep in this Saturday so my plan is to indulge in this recipe over the weekend.

It’s important to use good grits in this situation which, if you ask any self-respecting southerner, means stone-ground grits. Not instant grits. It’s up to you whether you go with the white or yellow version. Personally, I prefer the yellow. Here on the West Coast, it can be difficult to find the really good artisan grits though you can sometimes find them at the farmers market or you can always get them online. If you don’t want to wait that long (I feel your pain.) I recommend Bob’s Red Mill Stone Ground Grits.

And, I called for fried eggs for the recipe because they are easier. But, if you have a good system for poaching go to it! They’ll be delicious.

Also, butter and half n half are a must. Leave your diet at the door. Anything worth doing is worth doing it the right way. And, in this case, that means butterfat and cream. Oh, and bacon, let’s not forget the bacon. I will be leaving the okra out of the succotash, though. My Florida raised husband had okra forced upon him as a child and it didn’t end well. If I served this to him with okra, he might get lawyers on the phone…

Breakfast Grits with Succotash
Yields 4 to 6 servings
Read more…