Friday, February 5, 2016

Purple Sweet Potatoes - Recipe

     Now This is a Purple Sweet Potato!  I first had a purple sweet potato when visiting Hawaii.  It was so much fun to see that beautiful color on the plate next to my steak!  I see them in the stores now and enjoy baking them at home.  These take longer to bake than regular potatoes, and they will dry out if you don't protect them with oil and foil.  I know, I had some fibrous dried out purple potatoes to prove it!  So if you pick some up, prepare them as in the recipe below for a moist tender sweet potato.  They are definitely sweet and do not disappoint!

Purple Potato

Baked Purple Sweet Potatoes

(Serves 4)

4 Purple Sweet Potatoes
Palm Oil
Celtic Sea Salt

     Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Scrub the potatoes with a vegetable brush under running water.  Pat dry and prick each a few times with a fork.  Rub each with palm oil and place on a large piece of foil. Sprinkle each with salt.   Lift the ends of the foil up to meet over the center of the potatoes.  Fold the foil over and continue folding down to the potatoes.  Fold the opposite ends of the foil to seal the package, and place in the oven on a rack to bake for 1 1/2 hours.  With oven mitts on, take the package out of the oven and carefully open.  Check for doneness with a fork.  If not done seal up the package again and place back in the oven.  Check in 15 minute intervals until done.     

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Vegetable Beef Soup - Recipe

     January is National Soup Month and National Slow Cooking Month, so I decided to share a hearty vegetable beef soup that makes its own broth.  You need not worry about adding beef broth or chicken broth.  It includes turnips in addition to the usual carrots and onions for interest and added wintery flavor.  I also like the little Thai peppers for some warm heat.  As long as there are no seeds, it is not too spicy.  Just make sure you wash your hands well after handling.  I recommend a grass fed beef chuck roast, because not only is it healthier, it has better flavor.  When I changed to grass fed beef a number of years ago, it smelled like my grandmother's cooking, and I was so surprised at the difference in flavor.  It seems like all other beef is bland in comparison. 
     My grandmother used to make a beef vegetable soup when I was little, and I can still imagine looking forward to it along with a piece of bread and a salad.  My sister and I would usually be doing homework while she made supper for everyone.  I would be so hungry for dinner after smelling the soup simmer!  This is my version, which is warm and just right for a nourishing meal after snow shoveling or just coming in from the cold.

Adding all vegetables and herbs to the pot.

Beef Vegetable Soup

(Serves 6-8)

2 T. Olive Oil
2 (3-lb.) Beef Chuck Roasts
2 Onions sliced thinly
5 Carrots sliced in 1 inch pieces
1 Turnip sliced in 1 inch pieces
1-2 Thai Peppers seeded and chopped (wash hands well after handling)

4 Bay leaves
1 tsp. Ground Thyme
1 tsp. Ground Basil
1 sprig Fresh Rosemary
1/4 c. Balsamic Vinegar
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste

     Heat olive oil in a 9 quart Dutch oven on medium heat. Dry off roasts with a paper towel and place in pot. Brown on all sides. Take out the roasts and add the onions. Fry on medium-low heat till translucent. Add 1 cup water and scrape up brown bits on bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon. Add the meat, carrots, turnip, Thai pepper (wash hands after handling - will sting if gets into eyes), bay leaves, thyme, basil, and rosemary to the pot. Pour the vinegar over the meat and add enough water to just cover meat. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer on low for 2 hours, stirring occasionally to keep from sticking. Add salt and pepper to taste. Discard the bay leaves and rosemary sprig. Place meat on a cutting board and discard bones if any. Cut up meat into 2 inch chunks and return to pot. Serve warm.

Note: This soup makes its own broth. Skim excess fat off with a spoon.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Chocolate Fudge Cakes in Cognac Chocolate Sauce - Recipe

          Today is National Chocolate Cake Day.   Individual round cakes display 2 layers of moist chocolate cake with fudge centers, dusted with powdered sugar, resting in a pool of Cognac flavored chocolate sauce.

Chocolate Fudge Cakes in Cognac Chocolate Sauce

(Makes 7 (2 3/4-inch cakes) plus 5 (2-inch) cakes)

Chocolate Cake

2 c. Regular All Purpose Flour
3/4 c. Sugar
1 tsp. Baking Soda
1 tsp. Freshly Ground Nutmeg
3/4 c. Margarine (natural expeller pressed oils)

5 oz. Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
1 1/2 c. Water
2 Eggs lightly beaten
1 T. Vanilla
1/4 c. Plain Goat Yogurt

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, and nutmeg. In a heavy bottomed sauce pan heat the margarine, chocolate, and water on low until melted, stirring constantly. Set aside to cool. When the chocolate is lukewarm, stir it into the flour mixture, then add the eggs, vanilla, and yogurt. Mix with a whisk until incorporated and smooth. Pour onto a greased 11 1/2 x 16 1/2 jelly roll pan. Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 - 20 minutes until a cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let cool completely in the pan on a rack.

Fudge Frosting

5 oz. Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
5 T. Margarine (natural expeller pressed oils)
6 T. Rice Milk
1 lb. Powdered Sugar

Melt the chocolate, the margarine, and the rice milk in a heavy bottomed sauce pan. Let cool to lukewarm and pour into a mixer with a whisk attachment if you have one. Add the powdered sugar a little at a time beating well after each addition. Add enough sugar to gain a thick spreading consistency. Beat a minute or two more until smooth and shiny.

Cognac Chocolate Sauce

14 oz. Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
1 (13.5-oz. can) Coconut Milk 
1 T. Cognac

Place the chocolate and coconut milk in a heavy bottomed sauce pan. Melt on low, stirring constantly, until the chocolate is melted. When the sauce is smooth and shiny take off the heat and stir in the Cognac. Add more to taste.


1 Chocolate Cake
1 Recipe Fudge Frosting
Powdered Sugar
1 Recipe Cognac Chocolate Sauce

Still in the pan, slice the cake in half with a sharp knife top to bottom. Frost one half. Slide a metal spatula under the other half to make sure you can lift it up in one piece. Carefully put both hands under the unfrosted side and place it on top of the frosted cake. Take a biscuit cutter and slice rounds of cake, depositing them onto a plate. Dust with powdered sugar. For presentation: 1) ladle chocolate sauce onto a desert plate to make a chocolate puddle, then place a cake round in the center or 2) place a cake round in the center of a desert plate, dip a whisk into the sauce and flick squiggles of chocolate over the cake and plate. Serve immediately.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Apple Pie - Recipe - National Pie Day

     Here we are on National Pie Day featuring an all American Apple Pie.  I like to add a bit of cardamom in the filling for a hint of Scandinavian flavor.  It is a common spice used in Scandinavian baking.  I also use tapioca flour to thicken my filling.  It comes out clear without the cloudiness of wheat flour.  I also use less sugar than most recipes, because I like the taste of apples and not just a mouthful of sugar.  If you have super tart apples, adjust accordingly.  Below I served it with a healthy helping of whipped cream (grass fed of course).

Apple Pie

(Serves 8)

5 Golden Delicious Apples or Granny Smith peeled
4 T. Tapioca Flour
1/4 c. Sugar

1 tsp. Cinnamon
1/2 tsp. Ground Cardamom

     Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Slice the apples thinly, place in a large mixing bowl, and add the tapioca flour, sugar, cinnamon, and cardamom. Mix with your hands. Roll out one half of the pie dough on a floured surface, dusting the rolling pin and dough with flour as needed. Rotate the dough as you roll and add flour underneath if it is sticking. Place in the bottom of a 9 inch pie plate. I like to roll the dough up with the rolling pin, lift to transfer, and unroll in the pan. Add the filling. Roll out the other half of the pie dough and place on the top. Crimp the edges by pinching with your fingers to seal, and slice a few air holes on top with a knife to let out steam. Bake 45-50 minutes until golden brown. If the edges get too brown, put on hot mittens to protect your hands and cover them with thin strips of foil.

Note: Tapioca flour is my favorite thickener for fruit desserts. It has a beautiful, clear, smooth consistency.

Mixing the pie filling.

Ready to roll out pie dough on a floured pastry cloth.

Pie ready to bake with crimped edges.


Apple pie served with whipped cream.

Pie Dough - Recipe - National Pie Day

     Here is the pie dough I like to make.  It is different than most in that I actually use bread flour.  It is very flaky and light due to the shortening, yet it is easy to roll out.  The butter in the picture below is white goat butter.  You can certainly use cow butter if you prefer.

Pie Dough
(1 9-inch Pie)

2 c. Bread Flour
1/2 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Baking Powder
1/2 c. Solid Palm Oil (Non-hydrogenated Vegetable Shortening)
1/2 c. Goat Butter
5-6 T. Ice Water

Mix flour, salt, and baking powder together. Add the palm oil to the dry ingredients. Mix with your hands to a fine sand texture. Add the butter and mix with your hands to a course gravel/pea size texture. Add a few tablespoons of ice water and mix to bring the dough together. Add 1 tablespoon of ice water at a time until the dough forms a ball. Split dough to make two balls, shape into a disk, and wrap in plastic. Place in refrigerator for one hour. Before rolling, let the dough rest for 5 minutes wrapped on the counter.

Note: The bread flour gives the dough a consistency that is easier to roll out. I have tried many variations and like this the best.

Palm oil and goat butter.

Whisk dry ingredients.
Ice water,

Flat disk ready to roll out.

Pie ready to bake.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Zucchini Lentil Soup - Recipe

     January is National Soup Month, so I am pleased to share this hearty and healthy Zucchini Lentil Soup.  It warms me up and nourishes me.  The lentils naturally thicken the soup to it has a chowder quality.  I have included an optional garnish/ingredient at the end.  Gjetost is a Norwegian goat cheese that melts beautifully in the soup and gives it a creamy, caramel richness.  It is also called brunost which means brown cheese.  For more ways on serving gjetost, see this post.

Zucchini Lentil Soup

Zucchini Lentil Soup

(Serves 8)

1 -2 T. Palm Oil for frying
1 Yellow Onion chopped
12 Cloves Garlic (1 head)
4 Carrots peeled and chopped
1 large Green Zucchini cubed
3 small Yellow Squash cubed
2 tsp. Thyme dried
2 Bay Leaves
2 c. Chicken Broth
3 (15-oz.) cans Lentils
1/4 tsp. Cayenne Pepper
1 tsp. Salt
8 turns Freshly Ground Black Pepper
8 c. Swiss Chard chopped
24 Slices of Gjetost/Brunost (a Norwegian Brown Goat Cheese) (Optional)

     In a large enamel-lined cast iron Dutch oven, heat the palm oil on medium heat and fry onion until clear.  Add the garlic and fry until aromatic.  Add the carrots and fry for 5 minutes.  Add the rest of the ingredients, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes or until the carrots are fork tender.  Add the Swiss chard, cover, and simmer for 10 more minutes until it is tender.  To serve, ladle the soup into bowls and place the slices of gjetost on the top.  It will become soft, and you can stir it into the soup if you desire for a rich and creamy broth.

Zucchini Lentil Soup with Gjetost (Brunost)

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

National Cheese Lover's Day - Gjetost

     I cannot let National Cheese Lover's Day go by without commenting on cheese.  It is an amazing comfort food and one of my favorite things.  I know, I have lots of favorite things, but isn't it better to delight in many blessings than to be glum?  Some of my favorite cheeses are goat cheddars, blue cheese, and Jarlsberg.  But one of the most unusual fun cheeses I enjoy is gietost or gjetost (goat cheese).  It is also called brunost (brown cheese, in Norwegian).   Now this is not your everyday goat cheese.  It is sweet and caramel-like in flavor with a bit of a goat tang, depending on how much actual goat is included.  Some brands have more than others.  The most common seen in stores is from a Norwegian company called Ski Queen, and does not have much goat tang compared with other versions I have sampled.  Gjetost is a caramelized Scandinavian whey cheese.  It seems to have endless uses.   Kids in Norway eat it the way kids in the US eat peanut butter.  It is great served at breakfast, lunch, or dinner, on the cheese tray, or even in some sauces.  It melts very smoothly.  I had it in a sauce accompanying reindeer meat in Norway.  It was wonderful.
     To eat it straight up, I recommend thin curls shaved off with a cheese slicer.  Here are a few ways to serve gjetost.  In the words of my sister, "I have never met a cheese I didn't like."  Happy National Cheese Lover's Day!

Curls shaved with cheese slicer.

Served on a pretty cheese board.

Closeup of my Kongetinn-Royal Pewter cheese slicer depicting King Olav the Holy and his men.  King Olav introduced Christianity to Norway, died defending it, and was later declared a saint.

On lefse (a Norwegian wrapping bread) with smoked pork tenderloin.

Melted into meatball gravy.

With herring on a cracker.

With sour kraut, lentils, tomato, and fresh thyme.

Topper for a curried lamb burger.

On top of zucchini lentil soup.

Melted into zucchini lentil soup.

On pita bread with marinated beef and goat yogurt.

On lefse with left over turkey and gravy.