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Doesn’t this look delicious? Let me tell you that it tasted as good as it looks. Okay, maybe it even tasted better than it looks.

I adapted this recipe from Bon Appetit magazine’s recipe for Braised Brisket with Bourbon-Peach Glaze. Start with a 3-4 pound beef brisket.

Part 1 – The Rub

Mix together

1 T plus 1 t kosher salt

1 t. ground black pepper

1/4 tsp. smoked paprika

1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon

Rub on the brisket and refrigerate for two hours or overnight. Then remove from refrigerator and let stand on counter for one hour.

Part 2 – Brisket

INGREDIENTS

2 T. olive oil, divided

3/4 cup chopped onion

3 garlic gloves, crushed

4 cups beef broth

1 12 oz bottle of stout beer

3/4 cup bourbon (I didn’t have and used scotch instead — not a great differentiator of the brown liquors)

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup soy sauce

Thyme 1 tsp.

2 celery stalks chopped

1 carrot chopped

1 T. balsamic vinegar

THE PROCESS

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Heat 1 T oil in an oven proof large pot. Sear brisket on both sides, about 5 minutes each side. Remove brisket to plate and cover to keep warm. Heat remaining oil in pot, add onions and garlic, stir until onion is slightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add all remaining ingredients to pot, return brisket to pot, cover and place into oven. Cook for approximately 4 hours, brisket should be tender but still together. Remove brisket from pot, use stick blender to puree remaining braising liquid. Remove 1/4 cup of braising liquid and reserve. Return brisket to pan.

Part 3 – The Glaze

Take 1/4 c. reserved braising liquid, add 1/2 c. apricot or peach preserves ( I didn’t have peach and apricot worked just fine) and 2 T. bourbon (I skipped the bourbon/scotch in the glaze and it tasted just fine to me)

Mix together with stick blender or regular blender. Spread over brisket (fat side should be up and cross-hatched). Return to oven and broil for approximately 10 minutes until glaze has caramelized.

~~~~~~~~~~~

This was delicious! We served it over jasmine rice with scallions on top and it was absolutely great. A lot of oven time but well worth it in the end. Highly recommend.

 

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Here’s a fun and quick Christmas treat! Santa Hat Brownies.

 

 

We woke up this morning to snow, a decent amount of it about 8 inches on the ground and more falling still from the sky. So, as someone recently said perhaps this is going to be the theme of the holidays this year, snow on the eve of each.  Suits me just fine. We had snow the evening before Halloween and then snow on the Eve of Thanksgiving, round it out with some snow on Christmas Eve and I’ll be one very happy little camper.


Needless to say we were feeling a little conflicted around the Heffernan house today….preparations for  Thanksgiving were beginning to feel a little like Christmas.

It of course didn’t help that one of the boys decided it was time to make some cinnamon buns and in order to do that we needed Christmas music playing in the background.  In addition to the cinnamon buns we took a stab at homemade jelly doughnuts.

Proofing by the woodstove.

The finished product……..

Lately, when I am searching for a recipe, either for some new ingredient I want to use or simply to find a different way to make the same old ingredients, I find myself clicking on the “Images” link in Google instead of sifting through the recipes themselves. I mean, we all essentially eat with our eyes, don’t we? If something is visually appealing to us, it is more a recipe that we might give a whirl. I don’t know about any of you, but personally a cookbook without pictures (with the exception of my Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook) is a waste of good money. I want to see what the finished dish is supposed to look like before  I attempt to cook it. I do not understand why cookbooks don’t have lots and lots of pictures. It would seem to me cookbooks sporting mouthwatering photos are more likely to sell than those that require you to imagine what the finished recipe is supposed to look like.

For example, don’t these just make you want to eat these?

Or these?

or this?

or this?

Our first connection with our food, is usually its visual appeal. This is one of the reasons that presentation of food is all so important in restaurants. If it looks visually appealing and makes a nice presentation, we are eager to dig in and taste it, so we can confirm with our taste buds what our eyes are telling us.

Are you hungry yet?

What’s one to do with all the apples that we have literally lying around here? We’re not big applesauce fans so little sense to take the time and effort to can them into applesauce. While pie is a definite, I just haven’t really had the time to make pie and really not many have been around to eat it.

I have been trying a few different apple cake recipes to find the one, in the words of Little Bear, that is “just right”. Here are pictures of the latest incarnation.

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Neither of these have anything to do with the other really except that the French Onion soup that we ate for dinner tonight was cooking off and on for most of the day yesterday. It was an on-again, off-again  cooking session. I sliced the onions, poached them as I was supposed to do and then turned down the flame to let them slow cook and caramelize. Except that we had to run out and I had to turn them off. Then we were home and on they went again. Then our friend next door returned home from her errands and it was time for our KitchenAid Repair Party at her house. My totally awesome husband ordered the parts to fix my mixer and our friend’s mixer which both stopped working. It was a fun hour or so of mixer repair and reassembly. We both have working mixers again! But, the poor soup, it was put into stasis once again while we were doing that and then back on the flame went. At about 8 o’clock last night I finished making the soup, which really didn’t take long except for our interrupted onion cooking.

We reheated it and had it with homemade baguette croutons and melted mozzarella cheese from the farmer’s markets.  It was well worth the wait.

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There are still a plethora of tomatoes in the garden. I have roasted a lot of them. Now I am making crushed tomatoes with them that I am freezing to use later in tomato sauce, stews, soups and the like.

It’s a fairly simple process (which would be a lot simpler if I didn’t have to peel the tomatoes first)

1. Cut an x shaped slit into the bottom of each tomato with a sharp knife.

2. Drop the tomatoes into a pot of boiling water for 1-2 minutes.

3. Remove from water and the skins should peel off with little effort.

You now have a naked tomato.

4. Then quarter the skinned tomatoes and place into food processor.

5. Blend to desired consistency. At this point you can place it in a pot to make sauce as you would with canned crushed tomatoes

Or put in a container to freeze.

 

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Tomatoes are everywhere. I have two bowls of tomatoes from the garden on my counter. It hardly seems that those tiny little plants that go in the ground at the beginning of summer can produce so many tomatoes, but damn if they don’t do it every time. I took a whole bowl of those cherry tomatoes that I picked the day before, washed them, cut them in half, seasoned them with a little salt, some oregano and a couple whole unpeeled garlic cloves and tossed them with some extra virgin olive oil. I put them on a parchment lined pan and into the oven. 220 degrees for about 4 hours.

Oh my goodness! The house smelled delicious.

Here’s one tray down and only…..about a half dozen more to go with this last batch of picked tomatoes anyway.

This batch I put into pint sized mason jars and filled them with olive oil and into the fridge they went (only after I took quite a few for last night’s pasta). I think that I will freeze the other batches in labeled ziploc bags for use at a later date.

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you were at my house for breakfast this morning?

See, when I can’t sleep for whatever reason, I usually get up. No sense staring at the ceiling for hours. Then, when I’m up, I usually bake. Someone should benefit from my insomnia, don’t you think?

This morning I baked cinnamon buns from a recipe I got from WhatsCookingAmerica.net. They are some of the best cinnamon buns that I have made or tasted. I have adapted the recipe for my own taste.

Cut pieces getting settled in to rise a second time

Recipe – Ingredients (Buns)

1 cup milk (heat 1 minute in microwave)
1/4 cup warm water
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
2 eggs
, beaten
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar

5 cups bread flour
3 teaspoons yeast

Process –

1. Mix together all ingredients in order given in stand mixer until well blended. Knead for approximately 3 minutes until dough is smooth and elastic. Remove from mixing bowl, place in a greased bowl, cover and let rise until doubled. About 1 hour.

2. After dough has risen, roll out into a rectangle about 13 x 9.

3. Use butter from filling recipe to spread across entire surface of dough.

4. Spread filling over butter.

5. Roll dough up into a log.

6. Cut into 14 pieces.

7. Place 7 pieces into one round 9 inch cake pan. Place the other 7 pieces into the other cake pan. Make sure that they are not touching.

8. Cover and let rise again, about one hour until they have doubled and are touching each other.

9. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

10. Cook buns in oven for approximately 20 minutes until golden brown.

11. Remove and frost with glaze (recipe below).

Ingredients – Filling

1/2 cup softened butter

1 cup firmly packed brown sugar

5 T. cinnamon

Mix together the cinnamon and sugar to form a cinnamon sugar. You will sprinkle this over your dough after you spread with the butter.

Ingredients – Frosting

1/4 c. softened butter

2 t. vanilla extract

4 cups confectioners sugar

2-3 T. milk

mix all ingredients together until a glaze forms. Add more milk if necessary to make a nice smooth glaze, but only add a little at a time or it will be too watery. Pour the glaze on top of the cinnamon buns and spread evenly. (I don’t use cream cheese as in the original recipe just because I don’t really care for the taste of it in my cinnamon bun)

Out of the oven

 

Frosting being mixed together

Bring on the frosting

I did something today that I have never, ever done before. I canned peaches. Okay, so it’s not like I cured cancer or something, but for me, this was pretty big. I have ventured into the jam and preserves, but only with berries, not with any other fruit. My friend was kind enough to let me in on a deal for cases of peaches which we picked up the day before we were leaving for vacation. We took a huge bag of them with us and devoured them since they were delicious. When I returned I had an entire shelf of the refrigerator filled with the remainder of the case of peaches – which by the way is quite a lot of peaches.

I am always intrigued by the fact that so many of my friends and neighbors “put up” so many things that somehow  I just never gave much thought to doing myself. Peaches for instance. I would tend to avoid canned peaches during the off season and just gouge on the fresh peaches when they are fresh. But this…well, these are quite good and still have the taste of fresh on them. I am going to use some more of the peaches (oh yes, I still have peaches left over) to make peach preserves which I will use to mix in my yogurt for my very own peach flavored yogurt in the mornings. Yum.

Getting back to the canned peaches — the first step is to peel them which is easily accomplished by cutting an “x” into the bottom of the peaches and quickly dipping them in boiling water and then plunging them into a bowl of cold water with some ice. The skin comes off extremely easily, leaving you with a perfectly naked peach.

Cut the peaches into your choice of size, slices, quarters or halves. I did decent sized slices for mine.

I then did a “cold or raw” pack. This means that you place the fruit into the sterilized quart jars and then pour a simply syrup over it.

The jars get filled to 1/2 inch of the top. The jar rims are cleaned and then the lids placed on. They need to water bath process for 30 minutes plus more for altitude.

Here are the finished products.

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When you have fresh strawberries and you have a baking commitment that requires something finger-food friendly, what do you do?

Strawberry scones!

Before they went into the oven…..

The end result.

And for those of you who would like chocolate……

It was a weekend full of jam. We picked raspberries, picked blueberries and grabbed strawberries at the farmer’s market. I made raspberry jam and mixed berry jam and blueberry jam.

Raspberries were picked at the bottom of the hill at Cole’s….that’s pretty much as close as we can get beside our own yard (and yes, we’re working on that).

This was how it looked crushed in the pot with low sugar pectin added….. I then added 4 cups of sugar (yes, that is the low sugar recipe) and brought it up to a boil. Jars were sterilized, filled, water bathed and then……

here is the finished product —yum. It’s amazing how your perspective changes when you start to can for yourself. Store bought just doesn’t cut it — no matter how expensive or fancy it purports to be. There is nothing that beats local and handmade.

The mixed berry jam was a first since it is not often that you can find local fresh strawberries, raspberries and blueberries all at the same time. It was definitely a hit…..delicious. I’ll be scouring around looking for more local strawberries in order to take advantage of the berry season.

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https://tammyheff.wordpress.com
2012.
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