Saturday, June 5, 2010

Intercontinental Peanut Butter Bread

This quick-bread has its beginnings in Japan (bear with me -this is a long roundabout story).

Way back in 1991, before the internet, before easy access to things no matter where you are in the world, a couple of crazy American gals found themselves in Japan - and craving peanut butter.

Not the "peanut spread" that was available in Japan at the time (think very sweet peanut butter flavored cream donut filling) but real, honest to goodness, American peanut butter.

We found it - but only by ordering it by the case. 36 LARGE jars per case - and no mixing of crunchy or creamy. Even dividing it up between friends, we each ended up with a LOT of peanut butter.

Somehow in looking for other creative ways to use it, Erleen found a recipe for peanut butter bread in one of her cookbooks. I recall making this frequently, and that my Japanese co-workers and host family were very fond of it -as it was not so sweet.

Fast forward 19 years, and I am hankering peanut-butter bread. Not quite sure where I put my hand written copy of the recipe - I contacted Erleen through Facebook... doubtful that through her move back to the US and then to the UK - not to mention 19 years elapsed time - that she even had this cookbook anymore, much less remembered which book or which recipe.

Thirty minutes later - I had it in my hands again! Ah the wonders of the internet!!!

I baked up two loaves today -one regular and one with chocolate chips added. I did not take step by step photos - I think you can figure that out on your own.

Peanut Butter Bread

2 c. white flour
1/2 c. sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 c. peanut butter
1 c. milk
1 egg, well beaten

Preheat the oven to 350F.
Grease a loaf pan.
Put the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Mix together.
Add the peanut butter, milk and egg.
Mix until well blended.
Spoon into the pan (mix will be very stiff and thick) and bake for about 50-55 minutes.
Remove from the pan and cool on a rack.

Use 'chunky' peanut butter for bits of nut in your loaf.
Add 1/2 cup chocolate chips.

Freezes well.
Tends to be a bit moister in the center - verging on undercooked. If anyone knows how to remedy that, please let me know...

Saturday, May 1, 2010

rustic rhubarb tart

This recipe first appeared in an earlier post, It's a Memorial Day Cook-Out, but since I just harvested and prepped about 16 cups of rhubarb from our garden, I thought I'd break it out into it's own post.

Rustic Rhubarb Tart

3 c. fresh rhubarb, peeled, and cut into 1/2” pieces and blanched**
1 refrigerated pie crust, at room temperature
1/2 c. sugar
1 Tbsp. tapioca
Fresh nutmeg
1 Tbsp. butter, melted
Whipped cream and honey, for garnish

** Due to the short baking time of a tart over a pie, I was concerned with how well the rhubarb would soften in the oven, so I decided to blanche the rhubarb for a few seconds in a pot of boiling water, and then quickly into an ice bath to cool. Peeling the rhubarb also helps. Oh, and did I mention the rhubarb is from our garden?

1. Preheat the oven to 400F.

2. Place rhubarb in a small bowl and sprinkle with the half of the sugar and the tapioca. If the rhubarb is particularly tart, go ahead and add the rest of the sugar. Let rest while the oven warms and the pie crust is prepped. This will draw some water out of the rhubarb.
3. Cover a baking sheet with parchment. (Tip: a few shots of cooking spray will help hold the parchment in place on the baking sheet.)

4. Carefully roll out the pie crust onto the parchment, and repair any tears or holes.

5. Spoon the half the rhubarb onto the center of the pie crust, leaving about a two inch border from the edge. Sprinkle with a bit of sugar, cinnamon, and a few grates of fresh nutmeg. Repeat with the rest of the rhubarb, and a bit more sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg.
6. Carefully start forming the pie crust into a tart around the rhubarb by folding and overlapping the edge. Brush the folded crust with the melted butter, and lightly sprinkle on a bit of sugar and cinnamon.
7. Place on the center rack of your 400 degree oven, and bake for 35-40 minutes, but start watching it after 25 minutes, until it is golden brown and delicious.
8. Remove from oven and cool before serving. Garnish with local honey and whipped cream (please, make your own if you have the time… from local heavy cream, or course!)


Monday, January 4, 2010

epic cooking: beef bourguignon

Finally, back to food blogging. It's been far too long, so I thought I'd start back with something special -- Beef Bourguignon. Here's the recipe from Fine Cooking, which contains a daunting list of ingredients and a lengthy list of instructions for assembly. (Can I call it epic?)

The cooking took place on top of a mountain in Saluda, NC, with Jeff and I taking care of the work for our ladies. Cooking began the evening of January 1st, reducing 2 bottles of red wine for marinating 6 lbs of gloriously marbled beef. After about 90 minutes, the beef was soaking happily amongst reduced wine and the aromatics.
Cooking resumed the next morning at around 10 in the morning: searing the beef, sauteing the vegetables and further reducing the marinade. Everything went back into my new cast iron dutch oven (thanks mother-in-law!) for a long cook at 325F.

Meanwhile, the 'garnishes' were prepared: pearl onions, bacon and mushrooms, all sauteed in butter to absolute deliciousness.A few more steps later and the garnishes joined the beef and thickened sauce for a final simmer on the stovetop. Bread was fried in olive oil (wow!) and it was all served up family style in a great ceramic platter available to us in the cabin. A tasty salad, a bottle of red wine and a bottle of Westmalle Trippel completed the meal.
Extremely tender beef. A rich and complex sauce. This recipe certainly is a lot of work, but if you have the time and motivation, it is absolutely worth it. Hours of cooking over two days, eaten with the best of friends, and overlooking an incredible mountain view -- a memorable meal, indeed.