Breakfast Apricot Crisp

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Apricots were the first of the stone fruit to show up at the farmer’s market, so i’ve been happy to experiment with various incarnations of fresh apricots.  I used this recipe from the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, though she had also posted it on her blog years ago. I only made a few minor changes, such as adding more almonds, some cinnamon and a little toasted wheat germ because I felt like it. It was very tasty served with yogurt for breakfast since I ran out of blueberry muffins (not sure what happened to them. :-P)

Recipe:

1 pound apricots


3 tablespoons sugar


1 tablespoon flour


½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

pinch of grated fresh nutmeg

Topping:

1/2 stick (4 tablespoons, 2 ounces) butter, cut into small cubes

6 tablespoons granulated sugar (or turbinado/ Sugar in the Raw)


1/2 cup oats


1/2 cup all-purpose flour (or a mixture of whole wheat and all-purpose flour)


Pinch of salt


2 Tablespoons toasted wheat germ (optional)

1/2 cup sliced roasted almonds

Prepare fruit: Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Pull apart apricots at their seam, remove pits, and tear them one more time into quarters, placing them in a small baking dish (one that holds two to three cups is ideal). Stir in sugar, flour, cinnamon, and a pinch of nutmeg.

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Make topping: Combine sugar, oats, wheat germ, flour, salt and almonds in a medium mixing bowl. Add in the 4 Tbsp of butter and work into the mixture until large clumps form.

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Sprinkle mixture over the fruit. 

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Bake for about 30 minutes and serve warm, ideally with a serving of Greek yogurt, like so:

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Blueberry Poppyseed Muffins with Streusel Topping

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Those crumbs are there because I couldn’t stop eating this muffin.

I used this recipe from Joy the Baker, though I did make a few minor modifications, such as adding more blueberries and reducing the streusel topping because I ended up with extra the first time I made the recipe.  Brown butter looks kinda ugly, but it smells (and tastes!) nutty and delicious, so I encourage you to not skip that step.  I loved this recipe so much, I went back to Sauvie Island today and picked 5 lbs more blueberries (plus 8 lbs peaches….stay tuned for their debut!) so I can make more muffins, as well as various other baked goods.  

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And so we begin:

Muffin 

7 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/3 cup whole milk

1 large egg

1 large egg yolk

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

zest from 1 medium lemon

1 Tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon poppy seeds

2 cups fresh blueberries

Topping:

2 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Line a muffin tin with paper or foil liners, set aside.

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To make the muffins:  Melt butter in a small stainless steel saucepan over medium heat-if you use a dark teflon-coated pan, it will be difficult to tell when you’ve reached brown butter nirvana or yucky burnt butter hell.  Remove from heat when butter solids become a medium brown color and butter smells slightly nutty.  Immediately pour hot butter into a small bowl, or the butter will continue to cook in the hot pan.  Allow to cool slightly.

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In a medium bowl, whisk together milk, egg, yolk, zest, lemon juice, and vanilla until combined.  Add browned butter and whisk to combine.

Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, poppy seeds and salt in a medium bowl.  Add milk mixture all at once to the flour mixture and stir gently to combine.  Gently fold in the blueberries.  Divide batter among prepared muffin cups.

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To make the topping: Combine all ingredients in a bowl and rub together with clean fingertips until crumbly.  Sprinkle topping evenly over the muffin batter in cups.

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Bake muffins 18 to 20 minutes until golden and a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.  Cool muffins in the pan for 15 minutes before removing.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

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Makes 12 Muffins.  Muffins will last, at room temperature in an airtight container, for up to 3 days.  

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

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I’ve been making the chewy chocolate chip cookie recipe from Cook’s Illustrated for at least five years now, and it remains my Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookie Of All Time. It’s easily customizable (nuts? no nuts? sea salt on top?) and quick to make, so this time when I decided to whip up a batch with toasted pecans, I couldn’t think of any reason why rolling the cookies in coconut would be a terrible idea. Some I left plain for Mr. Portlandivore, who said, “I like to let the cookie speak for itself,” and I said, “I did, and the cookie told me to roll it in coconut and sprinkle it with sea salt”.

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2 1/8 cups unbleached all‐purpose flour (10 1/2 ounces)

1/2 teaspoon table salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), melted and cooled slightly

1 cup light or dark brown sugar (7 ounces)

1/2 cup granulated sugar (3 1/2 ounces)

1 large egg

1 large egg yolk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups bittersweet chocolate chips or chunks

Optional ingredients-

3/4 cup chopped toasted pecans or other nuts such as walnuts, hazelnuts, or macadamia nuts

1/2-1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut (I used 1/2 cup because I didn’t roll all of the cookies in coconut, and I used unsweetened because the cookies are already sweet enough)

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Adjust oven racks to upper‐ and lower‐middle positions. Mix flour, salt, and baking soda together in a medium bowl; set aside. Either by hand or in a stand mixer, mix butter and sugars until thoroughly blended.  Mix in the egg, the egg yolk, and the vanilla.  Add dry ingredients; mix until just combined.

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Mix in the chocolate chips and pecans with a spatula.  Using a cookie scoop (the original recipe called for using 1/4 cup of dough for each cookie for a total of 18 cookies, but my scoop is smaller so I got 24 cookies in one batch), place dough balls onto two parchment paper‐lined sheet pans. You can leave them all plain (who wants to do that besides my husband?), or roll the dough balls in unsweetened shredded coconut, and/or sprinkle with sea salt. 

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Bake, turning the cookie sheets halfway through baking, until the cookies are light golden brown and the outer edges start to harden but the middles are still soft and puffy, 15 to 18 minutes (start checking at 13 minutes).  Cool cookies on cookie sheets.

Note: The plain dough balls can be individually frozen and stored in the freezer for a month, just add an extra minute or two to the cooking time.

Apple Pomegranate Turnovers- part 2

Rather than show you how to seed a pomegranate, POMWonderful has a video that demonstrates it well. Once I heard someone on a cooking show say you could just cut the pomegranate in half and then smack the back of it until the seeds came out. I’m not sure what world they live in, but let’s just say it ended with Dean spanking the pomegranate with the back of a wooden spoon as he cried, “Bad pomegranate, bad pomegranate!” and then I was laughing so hard I nearly cried and then there was a lot of juice splattered everywhere, but not so many seeds. So, definitely go with the bowl of water….

Filling

2 Granny Smith apples, or other favorite tart apple, peeled and diced

½ cup pomegranate seeds

¼ cup granulated sugar

1 Tbsp cornstarch

In a large bowl, mix together apples, pomegranate seeds, sugar, and cornstarch until well combined. Taste for sweetness level; add more sugar if you like.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

On a lightly floured work surface, roll out one piece of the dough to a 16-by-11-inch rectangle (yes, I used a ruler). Trim to 15-by-10 inches. Cut into six 5-inch squares.

Working with one square at a time, place 2 tablespoons of the filling slightly off-center. Brush all of the edges with the egg wash and fold on the diagonal over the filling, pressing to seal completely. I like to trim the edges with the fluted dough cutter so they’re all neat and pretty. Repeat the process with remaining squares.

If at any time the dough starts to get too warm and difficult to work with, stop and pop it in the refrigerator for 20-30 minutes. Then when all 6 of the turnovers are assembled, place them on one of the baking sheets and refrigerate them while you work on the second piece of dough. Brush the turnovers with remaining egg wash and sprinkle with sanding sugar.

Stab a small hole into the top of each turnover to allow steam to escape while baking. It doesn’t hurt to put both of the baking sheets back into the refrigerator for another 30 minutes before you bake them (or you could potentially cover them with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to a day before baking, or you can freeze the unbaked turnovers individually to bake within the next month or two).

Put both baking sheets in the pre-heated oven and bake until crusts are golden brown and delicious, 25 to 30 minutes. I use the convection setting on my oven, but if you don’t have that option, rotate the baking sheets halfway through to ensure even browning. Cool the turnovers slightly on a wire rack and serve warm.

Lovejoy Baker's Pumpkin Spice Cookies with Brown Butter Icing

Portland has its fair share of bakeries turning out tasty treats, and one of those is a bakery that I go to so often they probably recognize me by now as I order my large latte and Lovejoy Deluxe breakfast sandwich (if you’re not a vegetarian/vegan/gluten-free-whatever-person and you haven’t tried this sandwich, go.eat it.now.) Lovejoy Bakers opened about three years ago, around the same time that we moved to Portland (coincidence, I think not!), and they always have these pumpkin spice cookies with brown butter icing in the fall.

Now I don’t know why we’re only supposed to eat pumpkin-y desserts in the fall, when a can of pumpkin puree will last several years if stored properly, so what if I want one (or five) of these cookies in February? Or June? Or if my friends think mine taste better than the bakery’s, even though I’ve only slightly changed their recipe? So if you don’t happen to be in the mood to roast a few pie pumpkins to make your own puree (and I don’t blame you; I insist on making many recipes from scratch, but canned pumpkin is one area I skimp on because I think the quality is just fine), stockpile a bunch of cans of pumpkin puree so you can enjoy these cookies anytime of year.

Pumpkin Spice Cookie:

1 stick unsalted butter

1 cup packed brown sugar (I used dark, but light is fine too)

1 egg

1 teaspoon Vanilla extract

1 cup Pumpkin puree

2 cups all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon table salt

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

3/4 cup toasted walnut pieces

1 cup Currants

Brown Butter Icing:

1 stick unsalted butter

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup powdered sugar

1/4 cup heavy cream

1/4 tsp kosher salt

Cookie instructions:

In the bowl of a stand mixer (or in a bowl using a hand-held mixer), cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.

Add the egg, vanilla extract, and pumpkin puree.

In a second bowl, combine the dry ingredients: all-purpose flour (pllllleeeease lightly spoon your flour into your measuring cup and then level it off so you don’t end up with too much flour and dry cookies and blame it all on me), baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves and sift them into the wet ingredients.

Stir in the toasted walnuts and the currants.

Use an ice cream/cookie scoop that is about 2 inches in diameter. Level off each scoop so that your cookies are all the same size, and then bake 15-20 minutes at 350F, until the edges and bottoms are brown and the middles are cooked through.

Icinginstructions:

In a medium-sized stainless steel saucepan, melt the butter until the milk solids start to turn brown- there should be little flecks of brown at the bottom of the pan when you swirl the butter around the pan. I recommend not using a saucepan with a dark Teflon-coated bottom, otherwise it will be very difficult to tell when the butter has transformed into brown butter or if it has turned into burnt, gross butter.

(brown butter is in the white ramekin)

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk the powered sugar to remove any lumps, then slowly whisk in the heavy cream until it is a thick icing, and then whisk in the kosher salt, vanilla extract and brown butter a little at a time until thoroughly combined. Trust me, if you just dump everything all together, you’ll probably end up with brown-butter-with-powdered-sugar-lump-icing, which is not so pretty, though still tasty.

Dip the tops of the cooled cookies into the icing while it is still warm, and cool on a rack until the icing has firmed up. I store the finished cookies in the refrigerator, just because I get paranoid about cream icings sitting around at room temperature and possibly not being safe to eat.  This recipe makes 2 dozen cookies.