Apricots in Central PA

IMG_3568 (2)

“The spring was very cooperative” I was told by people at Way Fruit Farm’s booth at the Boalsburg Farmer Market last week.  “When the blossoms open in the spring, we often have a freeze that kills many, so our apricots are very limited–but this year was a good year.”

I don’t think that I have ever bought apricots in Central PA before.  That’s why I wanted to make the most of it and I bought 3 quarts!  I really wanted to make apricot jam, but first, I HAD to try a new recipe I saw, and realized that it would be much better with fresh apricots added!

It was a very good idea.  Run and get those apricots, whether at a farm stand or grocery store.

IMG_3578

Chocolate Chip Granola Bars with Fresh Apricots

(adapted from smittenkitchen.com)

1 and 1/4 cups rolled oats

1/4 cup rolled oats (just put oats in a food processor or blender and crush) or 1/4 cup oat flour

3/4 cup dried unsweetened coconut

1/3 cup uncooked millet or quinoa, wheat germ or just more oats

1/ 2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

2 apricots, pit removed, chopped roughly

1 cup chocolate chips

1/4 cup almond butter

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup honey

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Line an 8 by 8 inch pan with parchment paper, for easy lifting of the bars (let the extra hang over the sides of the pan).

In a large bowl, combine all the oats, coconut, millet (or whatever you are using), salt, cinnamon, apricots and chocolate chips.

Whisk together the almond butter, oil and honey.  Pour over the dry ingredients.  Mix to combine.

Press the mixture into the prepared pan, spreading flat and into the corners and pressing down to flatten.

Bake for 25 minutes or until the tops are golden and the edges are light brown.  Let them cool completely.  Lift with parchment paper ends out of the pan.   They will cut easier if they are cold (you can speed this up if you put them in the fridge for awhile).  Use a sharp serrated knife to cut into 16- 2 by 2 inch squares.

 

 

 

 

Cooking with Children

IMG_20150715_102109505_HDR

Summertime, and the Learning is Fun in the Kitchen!

I have been blogging very little lately as I have been very busy!!  I am teaching children to cook this summer. It’s been a learning experience for me too.

Each week for the past 6 weeks, groups of young, excited students have been eager to start cooking. Some have experience from home, some just love to watch cooking shows on television and want to cook themselves.

We only have 90 minutes every day for the camp so we have to prep the food, cook, eat and clean up in that short time. I planned themes for each day, to focus on two easily prepared from scratch foods that they would find interesting and tasty.

“Young Chefs” (1 – 3 grade children) have made delicious foods such as quesadillas and watermelon agua fresca, homemade granola bars and banana rice pudding, spaghetti and meatballs.

The older children (grades 4-6) have had a more integrated theme to direct the recipes: The Cooking like a Celebrity class have recipes loosely taken from the ideas of cooking shows: “Chopped (and Shredded)” featured chopping lots of fruits and veggies for salads and making salad dressings for them; “BBQ Addiction” have the children preping and cooking food on a grill pan on the stove as well as making pizza on the grill (did you know that grilled watermelon is delicious?).

Cooking Roadtrip has exposed the children to foods around the United States: Chinatown Lo Mein; NYC no-bake cheesecake; the All-American apple pie! The children did such a great job on the mini apple pies, I told them that their skills would make any adult proud! Look at that lattice-work!!

For many, cooking has become a lost art. I have enjoyed the enthusiasm that all of these children have for cooking! I feel they are aware of the benefits of cooking home cooked foods as well as the fun of it.

AND–they LOVE to wash dishes!!

Mini Apple Pies –that any kid or adult can make

(adapted from food.com)

Crust:

2 cups flour

2/3 cup chilled butter

1 teaspoon salt

4 Tablespoons water

Filling:

5  medium apples

3/4 cup sugar

2 teaspoons cinnamon

6 Tablespoons flour

2 Tablespoons chilled butter

 

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

In a food processor, blend the flour, salt and butter until it look like small peas.

While the food processor is running, slowly add the water through the top opening and blend until the dough is sticking to the side of the bowl.  You might need to add 1/2 to 1 teaspoon more water to get the dough to that consistency.

Take the dough out of the bowl and combine it by hand until well blended.  Form into a ball.

Cut that ball in half, then in quarters, then form 12 equal size balls of dough.

Roll each ball out, a bit bigger than 4 inches, then cut the dough with a 4 inch cookie cutter (or glass or anything that measure 4 inches in diameter).

Using a 12 cup muffin time, press each circle of dough into the muffin tin until the dough is all the way up the sides.  If your finger pokes a hole in the dough, just mend it with your fingers.

For the filling, mix together the sugar, cinnamon and flour.  Set aside.

Peel and core the apples, cut them into small pieces.  Pour the sugar mixture over the apples and mix to combine.

Fill each muffin cup with apples.

Cut up the butter into 12 small pieces, place one piece on each pie.

Using the extra dough, cut strips for a lattice top (shown) or other designs to top your pie.

Bake for 16 – 18 minutes, until crust is lightly brown and the apples are bubbling.

After cooling for about 10 minutes, loosen the pies with a knife and they will easily come out of the muffin tin.

Serve warm with ice cream or whipped cream.

**Note–experiment with fresh berries, peaches, etc. for seasonal pies!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Raspberry – Buttermilk Crunch Cake

IMG_3540As we were picking raspberries from our backyard bushes during the rainstorm last weekend, my husband exclaimed, “these berries are so large, they must think they live in the Pacific Northwest!”

Indeed!!  It’s been a wet June here in Happy Valley, and the small tomato plants show it.  But the berries…wow! We have never grown such large berries.  I knew, since it was “cold” and wet that day, I had to bake with these berries.  I pulled out my old, reliable recipe from a flyer I picked up in Victoria, BC, Canada a few years ago when we spent a summer sabbatical there.  Raspberry – Buttermilk Crunch Cake emerged from the oven not long after that.

This cake is so easy to make, you will have all the ingredients (trust me!) on hand, and it will be completely eaten as soon as the old Star Wars film you are watching (episode IV–preping for the new one coming out in December–what else can you do on a cold, rainy Saturday afternoon in June!), is over.

IMG_3546

Raspberry Buttermilk Crunch Cake

(adapted from eatmagazine.ca)

1 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom (optional–but I did use it because it was in my kitchen)

1/2 cup butter, at room temp

2/3 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

1 egg

1/2 cup buttermilk (yes, you can make it using 1 teaspoon white vinegar in a 1/2 cup and filling up the rest of the cup with milk, then stir the thickened “buttermilk”)

1 heaping cup fresh, washed raspberries

1 Tablespoon sugar

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

In a bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cardamom together with a fork. Set aside.

Using an electric mixer, beat the butter until smooth, add the brown sugar and beat until well mixed. Add in the extracts, then the egg.  Beat well.  Working in batches, alternately mix in the flour mixture and the buttermilk. Finish with the flour.

Scrape the batter into a greased 9-inch round cake pan.  Scatter then press the raspberries on top. Sprinkle the 1 Tablespoon of sugar over the top of the cake.  Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, then turn the oven down to 375 degrees and continue baking about 10 more minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool before serving.  Dish it up and top it with a dollop of plain Greek yogurt.

 

 

 

« Older Entries