Tag Archives: Kitchen

Ahhh, the start of a perfect day …

… reading the Sunday paper from front to back, sipping hot coffee and savoring freshly baked … Cinnamon Bread.

 

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This recipe calls for the use of a bread machine. My wonderful mother gave my husband and me a bread machine for a wedding gift, and what a gift it was! We mixed and added and baked that machine into the ground – and then we bought another! It is a wonderful tool for mixing and kneading doughs; for easily baking sweet and savory breads – and there is nothing that compares to waking up in the morning to the heady fragrance of ready-to-eat, hot and delicious yeast bread.

As always, follow the directions specific to your bread machine. I use a Breadman, so I pour all of the liquids in first, then add the flour, etc. and only add the yeast in the last step. Every machine is different, so adjust the order of the following ingredients as necessary.

 

Mise en Place – pronounced, mee-zhan-plas  is the preparing and setting out of ingredients long before you preheat the oven or spray the cake pan. It is a life saver if you, like me, bake too many cakes and pies and casseroles within any 24 hour period. There is nothing worse than looking at a pile of dry white stuff in a bowl and wondering if you added the salt already – and was it only one teaspoon or the required 1 and 1/2 teaspoons? Trust me – it’s really worth the extra time it takes because at the end of the day, those few minutes of preparation equal hours of stress-free enjoyment. And less-salty cakes!

Sunday Morning Cinnamon Bread

(Please note: Unless you substitute dairy-free ingredients, this recipe is not suitable for a Delay-Bake setting. No need to become ill when an average bread machine baking cycle is about three hours!)

1/4 cup warm water

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp grated orange peel, optional

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

2 tbsp butter

1 egg, slightly beaten

1 cup sour cream

3 1/2 tbsp sugar

3 1/2  +/-  bread flour

2 1/2 tsp yeast

Place ingredients in the bread machine in the order above – or as directed by your bread machine manufacturer. Choose the Dough setting and let the machine do the all of the work! While your bread machine is keeping itself busy, whip up the filling for your soon-to-be-devoured cinnamon bread and then pour yourself a lovely cup of tea or a cool glass of lemonade and relax.

Butter & Spice Filling

In a small bowl, blend the following ingredients then set aside:

1/4 cup sugar (white, dark or light brown – or a combination)

2 tsp ground cinnamon, or to taste

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg, or to taste

1/4 tsp ground ginger, or to taste

1/4 tsp ground cloves, or to taste

3 tbsp butter, melted

When the bread machine completes the cycle, use your hands or a rolling pin to spread the dough out to a 10×28″ rectangle. Be patient – this is always the worst part for me since the dough has a mind of its own. The trouble is, if you don’t get the dough spread out enough, there is not enough filling in the world to turn it into a cinnamon swirled delight – you’ll just have a lot of dough with a mere suggestion of cinnamony-buttery-yum.

Where were we? Ah – yes, so once you have wrangled the dough into something of a rectangular shape, spread the butter mixture onto the surface, leaving a a narrow margin along the edges, and a slightly wider margin along the longest side farthest from you. Using both hands, take your time to carefully roll the dough from the longer side into a tube – similar to a jelly roll. Depending upon the length of the roll, you might have to roll and smooth the dough as you go in an attempt to keep it relatively even.

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Now you have some options, depending upon what you’d like to serve:

A Baguette – With the seam side down, you can place the entire rolled up dough-log on a parchment lined cookie sheet. If the roll is too long for the cookie sheet, cut it in half and use a second pan rather than placing the two pieces side by side. Try to taper or close the cut end – the filling doesn’t need any excuse to bubble out while baking.

An Over-sized Donut –  Carefully form the dough into a circle right on the parchment-lined cookie sheet, or use a good sized greased and floured tube pan. Either way, you can use a little bit of water on your fingertips to seal the ends together. No need to drench the poor thing – a little H2O goes a long way!

Rolls or Buns, Discs or Slices – Whatever you choose to call them, simply chill the roll o’dough for a few minutes before using a ruler to evenly mark where you’ll need to cut. Use a sharp knife to slice the dough into individual rounds. Place the prettiest side up, allowing the sides of the discs to touch. Try not to squish them into only one pan since that will make them cone upward like stylish hats.

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Allow the dough to double in size by placing the pan in a reasonably warm and draft-free area. If you cover the dough, be sure to spray the plastic wrap with oil or smear a little butter on it to prevent sticking. Do not place a towel directly over the dough – oh, what a mess that will be!

When the dough has doubled in bulk, lightly brush the top surface with a little milk or egg diluted with water and place in a preheated 375* oven. Bake approximately 25 minutes, or until golden brown.

In general, properly ‘done’ white-flour breads should sound hollow when tapped and feel a little lighter than the size might suggest.  With heavier flours and richer ingredients, i.e. whole wheat flour, molasses, heavy cream, oats, etc., the weight will increase and the final color will  be darker.

If desired, dust with sifted confectioners sugar, ice with a simple blend of confectioners sugar and water or milk – or cover with some wonderful …

Creamy Cinnamon Icing

1  8 oz pkg cream cheese, well softened

1 stick butter, also softened

1 tbsp vanilla, almond, orange, or other extract in any combination.

1 tsp ground cinnamon, or to taste

3 cups confectioners sugar

2 tbsp milk – the amount will depend upon the desired consistency. Add just a little milk at a time until you are happy with the results.

In a medium sized bowl, whip the cream cheese by itself, until completely smooth. Add the butter, flavoring(s), and spice(s) to the cream cheese and blend until smooth again.

Slowly add the sifted confectioners sugar to the cream cheese and butter mixture. Make sure you avoid any lumps – even a small lump of dry sugar in a mouthful of creamy icing is disconcerting!

As you add the confectioners sugar, use just enough milk to allow for even blending. It might seem as if all of the milk should be added early in the process, but the confectioners sugar needs a chance to soak into and blend with the oils in the cheese and butter. If you add all of the milk at once, and then the sugar absorbs the fats, you’ll end up with a less dense, and perhaps runny icing. Adding more powdered sugar to a runny icing might help with consistency, but can unbalance the flavor.

Drizzle or frost the still-warm cinnamon bread with the cream cheese topping, and serve. I’ve been known to smush up some ripe bananas with the frosting, or add a touch of caramel to the plate right before serving. With a cold glass of milk or a steaming cup o’Joe – oh my! Grab the Times, pull up a comfy throw and let the morning begin!

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Dreaming of an Island …

I don’t know about you, but I am a huge fan of tropical anything – except mangoes, for some reason. Anyway, this coconut cake is a bit of a ‘cheater’ recipe, inasmuch as a cake mix and instant pudding are used, but oh, it is really very good.  

I’ve made it as a cake in any and all sizes, from jumbo to mini cupcakes, and have even baked it in a loaf pan, then cooled, thinly sliced and toasted the frosting-free cake to enjoy as a cookie with a cup of hot tea. 

Coconut-Rich Cake

1 box white cake mix

1 pkg. 3.4 oz instant coconut pudding

1 cup water

1/3 cup oil (I usually substitute melted butter for the oil)

4 eggs

2 tsp coconut flavoring, or vanilla extract, or vanilla paste

1 1/3 cup flaked coconut (sweetened, but to reduce the sugar, unsweetened is fine)

Frosting, optional

Preheat oven to 350*.  Prepare baking pans – line cupcake tins, spray cake pans with my personal favorite Baker’s Joy, or line sheet pans with parchment paper.

In large bowl, mix cake mix, dry instant pudding, water, oil (or melted butter), eggs and extract/flavoring. Beat about two minutes, then add coconut, mixing just until well blended.

Pour batter into prepared bakeware. Bake for 25 minutes for cake, or until top springs back from light pressure and top is golden.

Serve with fresh fruit, drizzle with chocolate, add a scoop of ice cream, or frost with coconut, vanilla or chocolate frosting and sprinkle generously with flaked coconut.

Enjoy!

I’d love to hear how the recipe worked for you – did you serve it for a special occasion? Did you dress it up or scale it down? 

Oh, and as you already know, even though I sometimes mention brand names, I do not in any way benefit from doing so. I just have a few tried and true ingredients, tools or gadgets that I’m happy to specify in the hope you, too, find them to be helpful.

It’s Not Too Late …

… to start your New Year off right!

So, did January First with all the bells and whistles, dropping spheres and stunning pyrotechnics slip past you? Did the hours in the day shrink as the demands on your calendar went berserk?

Never fear. Fortunately, there is such a thing as a Legal Holiday – so you have options.

January 2nd is not only a legal holiday, but this year it is the one and only day when you can watch the Tournament of Roses Parade since it was decreed wayyy back in 1893 that no such parade would ever take place on a Sunday.

(It’s true – – https://www.pasadenaweekly.com/2016/12/29/never-on-sunday/  )

Well, if a parade the size of the Rose Parade can celebrate the new year a full 24 hours after the actual change – give or take a second – then who is to say that you can’t cook up those collards, ham hocks and blackeyed peas any day you choose this first week – or month –  of 2017?

Yup – that is this week’s recipe, and if I say so myself, it’s pretty good stuff! No, not as delicious as some of those bowls overflowing with steaming perfection from the kitchens of Southern cooks I have had the pleasure to share a table with, but pretty tasty in its own way.

And I have to warn you – I added some of this, and left out some of that as I went along. I know, I know. Sacrilege. Danger. Indigestion.

But truth be told, every cook, no matter from whence they hail, tweaks and messes about with perfectly wonderful traditions, if only for lack of proper ingredients, or because a lot of the fun of cooking comes from experimentation and luck. Lots of luck, sometimes.

Well, here you have it – this year’s recipe for starting the New Year off right – on whatever day you opt to mark the occasion!

Ham Hocks and Blackeyed Peas

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1 bag dried Blackeyed Peas

Water

Onion – 1 medium, chopped

Carrot – 1 or 2 depending upon size, sliced

Celery – 1 stalk, sliced

Salt, Pepper, Mrs. Dash, or other herbs/seasonings to taste

 

Boil about 3 quarts of water. Carefully inspect and rinse the blackeyed peas, being sure to remove any small pebbles or debris. Dump peas into a stock pot or large pan and cover with boiling water. Let sit in boiling/very hot water for 2+ hours to pre-soak. They can be soaked overnight, if more convenient.

Place smoked ham hock, jowl, shank (a good chunk of tasty pork-something), into a crockpot. Drain the blackeyed peas and dump into the crockpot, on top of the pork. Pour fresh water – boiling or tepid – into crockpot, enough to generously cover the contents. Add chopped and sliced veggies, stir once or twice.

Cook on Low for 8-10 hours, until blackeyed peas are cooked and the liquid is a lovely rust or brown color. Add seasonings late in the process after tasting the ‘pot likker’ to determine what it might need. Some ham hocks and jowls are so flavorful, you won’t need to add anything. Sometimes it just needs a little pinch of this or a handful of that.

While that’s cooking, you can make the

Collard Greens and Ham Hocks

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1 bunch – or more – Collard Greens, although any green will work. If you prefer turnip, beet, kale or spinach, that’s great. Just make sure they are green in keeping with the idea behind the tradition.

1 Ham Hock – again, feel free to use the pork item of your choice

Salt, Pepper, etc. – to taste

Water

 

The most time consuming part of this process is cleaning the collard greens, but it is also the most important part. I begin by pulling the leafy part of the greens from the stem. That stem can be woody, tough and bitter, so don’t bother with cleaning or cooking it. This is a good time to inspect the leaves for too many buggy bites, or wilted edges. Collards are pretty tasty even in the field, so look at the number of holes as a sign of good flavor!

After the leaves are ready, I use a large pot, fill it with fresh, cold water, shove all of the leaves into it and add a bunch of salt. Then I act as if I am washing socks – push, swirl, move, lift, shove, stir. After a few minutes of this, I dump the water, and repeat the rinsing – leaving out the salt – no less than three times, feeling for grit or sand with my fingers. If need be, I will rinse each good sized leaf individually.

Then – if I remember to do this step – slice or chop each leaf. The easiest way to do this is to simply layer the leaves one on top of another, roll them up, as if you were making a very green wrap, and slice the small end. As you can see in the photo above, I skipped the slicing part – or tearing or chopping, whatever you prefer – and cooked up big leaves. No matter – they tasted just fine!

Toss the slices into a stock pot, add the ham hock, jowl, whatever you’ve chosen as your pork delight, and pour in plenty of fresh, cool water. You will need a generous amount of water since those collards will float to the top of the pot, but will cook down into something amazing over the course of 6-8 hours.

Bring the concoction to a boil, and boil for about an hour, although I used so few collards, that I turned my pot down after 30 minutes or so. Most of this kind of cooking is by gut, by feel, so do what you think is right and you’ll be fine. Simmer the pot for as many hours as is necessary to turn the collards soft and the meat to fall off the ham bone. Stir it a few times during the process, but don’t baby it.

You can add salt, pepper, seasonings – even bacon grease or chopped crispy bacon to the pot.

When it’s finally done, serve the collards with the blackeyed peas and don’t forget the piping hot cornbread with lots of butter …

 

and the South Carolina strawberry and freshly made whipped cream tartlets for dessert!

 

 

Please visit Creatzart and DiscoveringHome to see some of the places the recipes on Sinclaire Monroe’s Kitchen come from or have been inspired by – and please consider participating in Jane’s Day of Service on February 28th this year.

Thank you for reading and following and sharing. I wish each of you a healthy, safe, and wonderful New Year.

Z is for Zebra Cupcakes

Zebra Cut Out

Whew! And here we are – this baking/blogging marathon is nearing its end after quite a busy month!

Before I share this month’s final recipe of the Blogging A to Z Challenge with you, I do want to thank each and every one of you for visiting this blog; for liking and sharing and commenting on the posts.

I am so grateful for having had the opportunity to visit your blogs and websites – what amazing talents you possess and share with all of us. Thank you!

And now for the recipe …

ZEBRA CUPCAKES

1 bowl prepared batter of your favorite chocolate cake

1 bowl prepared batter of your favorite vanilla cake

Preheat oven to 350* and place paper liners in each of 24 cupcake tins.

Using only one flavor at a time, place one tablespoon of cake batter in each muffin tin, being sure the batter is even and reaches the edges.

When done, carefully place one tablespoon of the second flavor in each tin, again making an effort to spread the batter evenly and to the edges.

Repeat as often as you are able, filling each tin 2/3 full.

Bake until done, according to cake recipe directions.

Allow cupcakes to cool, then decorate with white frosting drizzled with chocolate – or the other way around!

Devour and enjoy!

Zebra Cut Out

As you might imagine, the completion of this Challenge is just the beginning of a fresh, new year for this and my other two blogs

Creatzart.com and DiscoveringHome.com 

and like you, I am impatient to get underway and looking forward to many more shared culinary adventures!

Thank you.

 

Y is for Yellow Donuts

Some days are just doughnut days. Along with a big glass of cold milk or a hot cup of aromatic coffee, a fresh doughnut can make even a Monday morning feel … well, better.

But it isn’t always possible to get to the bakery before work, and those days-old prepackaged wonders at the convenience store only make the idea of a fresh-baked, still-warm pastry even more tempting.

So, here is an easy and quick substitute until a trip to a proper bakery can be arranged.

 

Yellow Donuts

1 box Duncan Hines Yellow Cake Mix (or any flavor you might like)

1 cup water or milk

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 egg

  • Combine all ingredients and mix until combined, but do not over-beat.
  • Preheat mini doughnut maker according to manufacturer’s directions.
  • Pour mixture into doughnut wells, and cook per instructions, or until golden brown. Using wooden tongs to remove the cooked doughnuts is very convenient.
  • Frost or generously dust with powdered sugar.

A note about cake-mix doughnuts: I did not know what to expect when I made this, my very first batch of cake-mix-doughnut-maker …rings. Well, these are not exactly the consistency of cake doughnuts, but they are not just ring-shaped cupcakes, either.

I was surprised to find that after 24 hours, the frosting, and/or the powdered sugar melds with the cake to create a much improved and fairly reasonable doughnut facsimile.

Because I discovered a brand new mini-doughnut maker at a thrift store for under $10.00, I was happy to give this recipe a try, but I don’t know that it would have been worth four times that much just to conduct this experiment that resulted in good, but not amazing, quasi-doughnuts.

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X is for Hot Cross Buns

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Before sharing this recipe with you, Dear Reader, I have to say that for some reason the BakingGods were with me when I made these and … well, modesty prohibits me from describing the ethereal dough with a mere hint of orange and the lightest touch of sweetness.

But I have to admit that I so enjoyed the making of and the baking of these springtime buns, that I quite neglected to measure each and every ingredient.

This business of tossing spices here and scattering herbs there is pretty normal behavior for me, but I generally try to remember to measure accurately and time carefully when a blog post is involved.

Nonetheless, I just added the orange pulp and juice to the dough until it seemed about right, and I kneaded in enough juice and vanilla soaked raisins to look OK.  For good or  bad, that leaves the guesstimating of such things up to you. My only advice is to close your eyes, listen to your inner cook, and trust your instincts.

Well, here is the exact recipe for a sweet dough that is best eaten within 24 to 48 hours of coming out of the oven. Any ingredients or steps in the process that were dealt with more creatively are italicized.

HOT CROSS BUNS

Sweet Dough (from R is for Rising Yeast)

 

Basic Sweet Dough

As with any bread machine recipe, please refer to your particular machine’s manufacturer’s directions first.

(For 2 pound loaf)

3 eggs, large at room temperature

1/4 cup + 3 1/2 tablespoons water

6 tablespoons sour cream or plain yogurt

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into pieces

6 tablespoons granulated sugar

4 1/2 cups bread flour

1 tablespoon yeast, active dry, instant or bread machine

After fitting with paddle, place all ingredients in order given above in bread pan. Place pan in machine, choose the dough setting.

While waiting for dough cycle to complete, gently grate only the orange zest from two medium oranges into 8 ounce measuring cup. Squeeze both oranges for fresh juice, being sure to include some smooshed pulp, then add to zest already in cup. Add a tablespoon or so of vanilla extract, and dehydrated orange peel if desired – 1+ teaspoon – then add enough water to bring level to 3/4 cup. Add a handful or two of raisins to liquid, allowing to soak during dough cycle.

Allow bread machine to complete cycle, approximately 1 1/2 hours, then remove from pan and place in large, lightly greased bowl. Punch dough down and let rest 10 minutes before continuing.

Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. preheat oven to 375*

Place dough on flat surface. Scoop plumped raisins from measuring cup, being generous with any accompanying liquid, but careful not to soak dough.

Knead raisin/orange juice mixture into dough.

 

Divide dough into 12 -16 equal parts. Gently form each part into a ball, then place each ball two inches apart on baking sheets. Using scissors, snip small Xs into top of dough (unless you forget all about this step – oops!).

Cover lightly with lightly oiled/buttered waxed paper and allow to rise in draft-free location until almost double in size.

Bake Hot Cross Buns 17-20 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from oven, and while cooling, prepare icing.

X Baked Yum

Icing

X Glaze Pour

 

Remaining orange juice/pulp mixture

Confectioners Sugar

 

  • Combine ingredients, adding small amounts of sugar just until achieving desired consistency. Using a teaspoon, pour over tops of cooled buns in the shape of an X. If buns are too warm, or if icing is too thin, buns will be glazed rather than decorated, but they will still taste delicious!

 

T is for Tarts

So simple, but so lovely and delicious. These tarts are perfect as a little something to take to a potluck, or to share with the office, or to give as a thank you gift.

Make as many or as few as you need; taking into account their nibble-bility factor!

Choose your favorite, most flavorful preserves and prebaked, ready-to-use tart shells.

Tart with Preserves

Combine two parts preserves to one part confectioner’s sugar, adjust as needed until thickened. Add two teaspoons almond extract. mix well.

Spoon into prepared tart shells.

Tarts Spoon

Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Add a touch of whipped cream or frosting.

Tarts Pan

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