It Takes Talenti!

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Roasted Almond Talenti Gelato Obviously, I did not make this gelato. I bought it for a specific reason, and I’m so glad I did. I wanted to buy some high-end chocolate bars for my husband; but since my car’s air conditioner works whenever it wants to, I was afraid I was not going to make it home in time before the chocolate melted. My solution was to buy something cold to keep in the bag. The only thing I could find in The Fresh Market was ice cream. And in this case, gelato. The least expensive one was Talenti. Being a sucker for packaging helped, too. I also thought I could use the gelato for a photo. So, voila! You have to work fast with frozen desserts, even inside. So I composed the photo with an empty dish before adding the gelato. Since this flavor is toasted almond, I sprinkled some sliced almonds on top. I also drizzled some chocolate sauce to add a little contrast. After I finished shooting, I finally tasted it. I have never, in my life, had better ice cream. Granted, I’ve never had gelato. But if it all tastes this good, it has won me over. But I can highly recommend this brand. I think I paid $5 or $6 for the pint. So it’s not cheap, but not too expensive, either. Roasted Almond Talenti GelatoRoasted Almond Talenti Gelato

Rabbit in the Polka Dotted Dress

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Rabbit in the Polka Dotted Dress

I get an opportunity every now and then to work on my more artistic photo project, “Girl in the Polka Dotted Dress,” and today was one of those days.

The dress is actually my sister’s; and a little too big, so I have to pin it to keep it from falling off of me. A real trick when I’m out in public. But today I stayed indoors.

I used to shoot a mask series, and this rabbit mask is one of my favorite props. He was just staring at me today begging to help me out with my photos.

I had a lot of fun.

 

Girl in Polka Dotted Dress with Pansies

Banana Walnut Muffins

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Banana Walnut Muffins

 

 

I have both of Gwyneth Paltrow’s cookbooks, and this muffin recipe is from her first one, “My Father’s Daughter.”  It is very easy to make, and pretty healthy. I, as usual, used what ingredients I have in my house, so it’s a little altered from hers.

Banana Walnut Muffins

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons canola oil
1 cup whole spelt flour
1 cup white spelt flour
1/2 cup barley flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon fine salt
3 very ripe medium bananas
1/2 cup real Vermont maple syrup
1/4 cup brown rice syrup
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup toasted walnuts, chopped

(I can never find spelt flour, so I used unbleached all purpose and unbleached whole wheat flours. I also did not have barley flour, so I just used 1/2 cup of the whole wheat in its place. Also, I used 3/4 cups of maple syrup because I can never find rice syrup either.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12-cup muffin tin or oil them with 2 tablespoons of the canola oil.

Sift the flours, baking soda and salt into a medium-sized bowl. Puree the bananas in a food processor or blender and then add the 1/4 cup of canola oil, syrups and vanilla and pulse to combine. Make a well in the flour mixture and pour in the liquid mixture. Stir just to combine and fold in the raisins and walnuts. Do not over mix or the muffins will be tough. Use an ice cream scoop to distribute the batter evenly among the muffin cups. Bake for about 25 minutes or until a toothpick tests clean. Cool in pan for a few minutes before removing to a cooling rack.

 

Banana Walnut MuffinsPansies

Vanilla Pudding with Chocolate Shavings

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Vanilla Pudding

 

 

I found this recipe in one of my old Martha Stewart Living magazines. I’m going to share the recipe because posted it online. I’m just looking for fun stuff to photograph.

Anyway, it’s pretty easy to make and very tasty.

Vanilla Pudding

2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/2 cup sugar
A pinch of coarse salt
2 large eggs
2 cups milk
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped, seeds reserved (I did not have this, so I just dumped several squirts of extra vanilla extract.)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 ounce milk chocolate shavings for garnish (I used dark chocolate)

Prepare an ice bath; set aside. In a small bowl, combine cornstarch, 2 tablespoons sugar and a pinch of salt. Whisk eggs in a separate bowl until smooth. Whisk in cornstarch mixture.

Combine milk, remaining sugar and vanilla bean scrapings in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Slowly pour milk into egg mixture, whisking constantly. (You’ll want to really pour a little bit at a time here to allow the egg mixture to come up to temperature slowly. Otherwise, they will cook like scramble eggs.)

Return mixture to saucepan set over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, whisking constantly, until thickened – about 2 minutes. Remove pan from heat, and transfer mixture to a medium heat-proof bowl.

Whisk in butter and vanilla extract. Set bowl in ice bath, stirring occasionally, until chilled. Serve pudding with chocolate shavings on top, if desired.

 

Vanilla Pudding

 

Vanilla Pudding

Blackberry Crumb Breakfast Bars

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Blackberry Breakfast Bar

 

The blackberries I used for this recipe were picked by my husband and me last summer near our house. We have a ton of them in our freezer; so anytime I can, I use them in a recipe. This one is actually a raspberry recipe that I found on either Goop’s website or “What Katie Ate”, both great resources for delicious food. I suspect it is from Goop, though. It’s on a piece of paper I printed from either website. I just don’t remember which.

Also, even though I baked these longer than was called for, I still don’t think they got as done and crispy as they are supposed to be. But they are very delicious.

Crust & Crumb

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 1/4 cups rolled oats
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into pieces

Filling

1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 pound fresh or frozen blackberries or raspberries
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease bottom and sides of a 9×13-inch baking pan and set aside. Combine flour, brown sugar, oats, salt, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon in a food processor and pulse until just combined. Add butter and pulse until loose crumbs form. Reserve 1 cup of the mixture and set aside.

Pour the rest of the mixture into the prepared pan and use your hands to push the crust into an even layer in the bottom of the pan. Bake until golden brown – about 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack and cool.

In a medium bowl, whisk sugar, lemon zest, cinnamon and flour together. Add the blackberries or raspberries, lemon juice and melted butter and toss gently until the berries are evenly coated. Spread the berry filling evenly on top of the cooled crust. Top with the reserved cup of crumble mixture and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until top is golden brown. Let cool completely before cutting into squares.

 

Blackberry Crumb Breakfast BarsBlackberry

 

 

A Call for Entries

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Branbury Tarts

 

I am beginning TWO new projects within my blog: 

1: An art project of me wearing the same dress in every photo. (I’ll explain the meaning in a later post)

and……

2: A continuation of my baked goods project, but with other people’s mother’s or grandmother’s recipes. So! If you have a special baked good you would like to share, please send it to me with perhaps why it’s special. I will attempt to make and photograph it and upload it to the blog. Also, if you want to include a photo of your loved one, I’ll include it in the post, as well.

Please send all info to: photosandmigraines@hotmail.com

(By sending me the recipe and/or photos, you agree to have me upload them to my blog. However, if you change your mind later, I will happily take them down when requested.)

Thank you in advance. This project has meant a lot to me with my attempt to help keep the memory of my great grandmother alive. I hope I can do the same for you if you are interested.

Branbury Tarts Reprised

This is the second time I’ve included this recipe, but I felt the photos were not so hot the first time. The goal is to become a better baker, as well as a better photographer. Plus, if you missed it the first time, you’ll be glad you saw it here. These are GOOD!

Branbury Tarts

3 sticks butter
1 cup sugar
2 egg yolks
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 3/4 cups flour (I used all purpose)
Strawberry preserves ( I used raspberry preserves)
Pecan halves (I used sliced almonds)

Cream butter and sugar. Add egg yolks, salt, vanilla and flour. Mix well. Form into balls the size of walnuts and place on cookie sheet. Dent each ball in the center. Fill dents with small preserves. Top each with a pecan (or several almond slices) and bake in a slow oven 325 degrees until brown.

Tip: it takes about 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from oven when the bottoms of the tarts begin to get crispy brown.

Holding a photo of my grandmother while sitting in her mother's chair.

Holding a photo of my grandmother while sitting in her mother’s chair.

This new art project will primarily be in black and white; however, this photo looks better in color. Ah! The magic of the digital world.

Then why do I feel like I’m cheating?

Spicy Fruit Bars

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Fruit bars

Spicy fruit bars with molasses, apples and cloves.

These are really rich, but delicious. I did not have any prunes, so I used Craisins instead. But they still turned out really good.

Ingredients

1 cup pared chopped apple
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup prunes (I used Craisins)
1/3 cup molasses
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup butter
2 cups flour (I used gluten-free with 1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ginger
1 1/2 cups firmly-packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

In a saucepan, combine apple, raisins, prunes (Craisins), molasses, orange juice and butter. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until thick. Cool. Combine remaining ingredients except nuts in a large mixing bowl. Mix at low speed until well-blended. Stir in walnut and fruit mixture. Pour into a well-greased 13-by-9-inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes. Cool and then frost and cut into bars.

Orange Frosting

Combine 1/4 cup butter, 1 teaspoon grated orange rind, 2 tablespoons light cream and 1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar in a mixing bowl. Mix at medium speed until well-blended. If necessary, thin with a few more drops of cream.

Craisins

Jar of Craisins

Walnut (or Hickory) Cake

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Hickory cake

Walnut cake with buttercream frosting

This is a recipe from my great grandmother’s collection she cut out of one of the Chattanooga, Tennessee newspapers back in the 60s or 70s. It was submitted by a lady from Sewanee, Tennessee.

I had a few problems with it – of course.

The entire time I was making it, I kept thinking, “As long as it LOOKS good, it doesn’t have to taste good.”

The batter resembled biscuit dough at first. Hmmm. I knew that wasn’t right. I also knew I followed the recipe exactly and measured correctly. Perhaps there was a misprint in the paper. It’s happened before.

So! I added more milk. I was afraid to add too much, so the batter was still pretty thick. It also cooked faster than expected. And it didn’t rise as high as it should have. But, the batter had been thick. So again, I bet I should have added more milk.

On to the icing it called for: Honey frosting – uncooked

It was more like a glaze, and NOT very tasty. Because I had an image in my head as how I wanted to photograph the cake, I chucked the “glaze” and went with butter cream icing so I could add chopped walnuts to the top. But by this point, I was getting frustrated. So instead of measuring the exact ingredients for the buttercream frosting, I just started dumping them into the mixer. Well, that was fine until I got to the milk. Instead of measuring 2 tablespoons, I just poured in the milk.

Too much, of course. So I added more confectioners’ sugar. And then more. It never did get thick enough for frosting, so I knew it would not stay on the sides of the cake.

Great. But it turned out better because I let the frosting pour over the sides. It looked pretty cool – in most spots. Then I chopped some walnuts and sprinkled them on top; and believe it or not, the cake turned out to be very delicious. But I wouldn’t follow my instructions very closely if you want to save yourself some trouble.

RECIPE

2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 eggs separated
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cups chopped walnuts

Cream butter and sugar. Add beaten egg yolks. Sift flour, salt and baking powder. Add alternately with vanilla and milk. Fold in stiffly beaten egg whites and nuts. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour. Test with a toothpick in center of cake until it comes out clean.

Honey Frosting – uncooked

1/4 cup honey
1 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon butter, melted

Combine all ingredients. Beat for 2 minutes or longer until of spreading consistency. Three tablespoons of cocoa may be added for Chocolate-honey frosting.

BUTTERCREAM FROSTING

3 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 cup butter (2 sticks)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 to 2 tablespoons whipping cream (I used milk because I did not have cream)

Combine butter and sugar in a standing mixer on a low speed until well-mixed, and then increase speed and mix for about 3 minutes. Add vanilla and cream and beat for another minute. Add more cream for spreading consistency.

Walnut cake slice

A slice of old fashioned walnut cake.

Prize Date Bars – Mrs. Shuptrine’s

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Date bars

Mrs. Shuptrine’s prized date bars.

My great grand mother had two date bar recipes, and I can never remember which one is better. I think I like the other recipe better now that this one is made, but this one is really good, too. It does call for cloves, though. Next time I will probably leave them out. Cloves tend to taste a little bitter to me. I like sweet tastes.

RECIPE

1/4 pound butter (1 stick)
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour sifted
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 packages dates, cut

Cream butter, add sugar and vanilla. Then drop the whole eggs in and beat thoroughly. Sift all dry ingredients and add gradually to egg mixture. Lastly, add nuts and dates.

Line square baking pan with waxed paper and pour in batter. Bake at 350 degrees F. for about 30 to 40 minutes. Let cool before cutting into squares.

Roll in powdered sugar. (I just sprinkled some on top)

Old fashioned dessert

Date bars with nuts

Date bars

 

Cinnamon Honey Butter

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Cinnamon honey butter

Cinnamon honey butter in a jar.

I did not make this. It was a Christmas present from my sister, and it is really good. I just liked the little tag, so I though I would take a few photos.

1/4 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 tablespoons honey
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

Combine butter, honey, cinnamon and salt in a bowl with an electric mixer and serve at room temperature.

Also, this is not her recipe – that I know of. I found this one on the internet.

Cinnamon honey butter

Cinnamon honey butter in a jar.