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October 05, 2011


Oy, kitchenmage!
image courtesy Miss Mags at I want to go to Faerie College, one of my favorite blog names ever.

The Interwebs has a huge iSad today for Steve Jobs has uploaded himself to elsewhere.

While I am not a member of the club, I know that there are many of you who have been deeply touched and inspired by Steve over the years.

As a foodPerson, I also know what we do to console ourselves, or celebrate the lives of those who touched us. We eat.

Often special, ceremonial foods. Favorite foods to honor people. Something appropriate for the occasion.

The obvious thing to eat for Steve is an Apple.

It was not only the name of his company, it was his favorite food. (Unless you count the sushi that was the sole exception to his veganism.)

So if you're going to miss Steve, eat an apple. Locally grown, organic, from a farmer's market, as Steve would, or picked up at the local Wallyworld, I don't care. Just eat one.

It's affordable, near effortless, good for your health - and the Apple industry in my home state of Washington - and Steve would approve.

The tradition of my childhood plants trees in memory of people we love. If you have a garden, you might want to plant him a tree. An apple tree, of course.

June 21, 2009

Look what we can do! Cupcake kebabs.

cupcake kebabs
inspiration from Nibbles by Nora, seen on Cupcakes Take the Cake and Serious Eats.

Inspired by those cupcake kebabs that have been making the rounds, theKid and I put together our own version for a Solstice party yesterday. theKid did the heavy lifting, baking about 250 mini-cupcakes from five different recipes, each with its own frosting. More amazing, she got just the right amount of frosting for each type of cupcake.This impressed me at least as much as doing all the baking.

Continue reading "Look what we can do! Cupcake kebabs." »

April 28, 2009

Pomegranate Limoncello Sorbet Recipe

Pomegranate Limoncello Sorbet


disclaimer: I was sent some bottles of pomegranate juice to play with by the nice folk at Pom Wonderful. For free.

Some recipes deserve a long and lovely introduction, drawing you into a warm and inviting kitchen to join with the happy people there. This is not one of those recipes.

This recipe was concocted as I stood in the kitchen on an unseasonably hot April day, staring at a case of Pom Wonderful pomegranate juice. (Thanks, Pom people!) While some juices taste like overly sweetened shadows of their source fruit, pomegranate juice is tangy, with the pure and unmistakable taste of...well, pomegranates. All I needed to do was sweeten the juice a tiny bit and add a smidge of lemon to brighten the flavor. Poof! Like magic, Pomegranate Limoncello Sorbet was created.

Continue reading "Pomegranate Limoncello Sorbet Recipe" »

April 08, 2009

Lemon mousse recipe

Lemon Mousse

To my peculiar form of synesthesia, spring is yellow. The world around me seems to agree, covering itself in daffodils of hues from palest cream to cartoon-sun yellow to bright tangerine, with clumps of golden forsythia and swaths of chartreuse spring grass. Purple will be along soon, in a week or so when the chives start to bloom, but for now the garden tends toward the golden.

While the world turns to yellow outside, the fruit selection here on the 46th parallel tends toward the remnants of winter, somewhat yellowish in its own right: the ubiquitous banana, an apple or two (Note to the folks selling Red Delicious apples in April - they don't store well. Really.), and lots of citrus.

Sadly, the strawberries trucked 1000 miles look good from a distance but a closer inspection of their plastic cage reveals half-ripened berries with a distinct lack of aroma. And mold. My editor calls it zombie fruit because it looks like fruit, but has no soul.

So it's back to the citrus. Lemons, in fact. Because lemons are yellow and taste like spring. Only sunnier.

This recipe comes from Ray's Boathouse, one of Seattle's longtime beloved waterfront seafood restaurants. Ray's is the kind of place you take your parents when they come to town. The view is lovely, the seafood is fresh and well-prepared, and the service is excellent. When I lived in the area, it was one of my indulgences.

Once, on a unseasonably warm spring day, I had this lemon mousse at Ray's. It was light and tart and not too sweet. Spring in a dessert bowl. Much later, the recipe turned up in Northwest Best Places Cookbook (vol 2) - it is also in Ray's Boathouse Cookbook These two events are separated by what seems like an unreasonably long time for them to be using the same recipe, so maybe I am misremembering that day at Ray's. All I know is when I open the book to this recipe, I feel the first warm spring breeze and see a field of yellow flowers. Who am I to argue with spring?

Continue reading "Lemon mousse recipe" »

June 23, 2008

Tools: Seasonal Produce Map

Epicurious has a sweet little applet that you just might find useful: an interactive Peak Season Map. It's simple to use, just select a state and a month to display a list of produce that is likely to be available at farmer's markets. (I'm going to check when I go to the market this weekend and see how the list matches up to reality. It says there should still be rhubarb and I haven't seen any in weeks. Then again, maybe it is still growing on the other side of the mountains.)

Each type of produce has links to a description of the ingredient and recipes, some also have preparation and shopping tips. It looks like it could be a handy thing to have bookmarked, particularly when planning for the future or sharing recipes with friends in other places, or to reassure yourself that berry season starts next month and that's really not so long to wait.

May 30, 2008

Apple Puffcake recipe

apple puffcake

Lazy Sunday mornings. Light peeking in the window spills over the bed where those who resist the dawn snuggle in for just another minute or two. No agenda beyond a leisurely morning of tea, catching up on my friends on the tubes of the Internet, maybe a crossword puzzle...

Um, yeah. I remember those days.

Continue reading "Apple Puffcake recipe" »

March 11, 2008

mini-pavlovas recipe


The Pavlova is one of those bits of food magic that everyone should make once. While it may look intimidating, at its heart it is as simple as strawberry shortcake. You're not afraid to make strawberry shortcake, are you? I didn't think so.

This combination of meringue, whipped cream and fruit is a classic dessert Australia and New Zealand where it was created as a tribute to the Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova. As a denizen of the northern hemisphere, I find the idea of serving it for Christmas dinner, as they do down under, utterly delightful. Truth be told, however, my locavore aspect cringes at the thought. (I waited all the way until the 1st of March and a business deductible excuse to buy some for far too much money.)

Continue reading "mini-pavlovas recipe" »

August 15, 2007

A Year in Bread in midsummer

berries like grapes

It's too hot to bake!

Well, almost too hot to bake. This month at A Year in Bread we are focusing on quick breads, with Kevin's scrumptious Cheese Bread starting us out. My post is going up tomorrow, but there is a subtle hint here somewhere about the recipe. If I could just remember where I put it.

Continue reading "A Year in Bread in midsummer" »

May 01, 2007

Chocolate-dipped Candied Citrus Peel recipe

Chocolate dipped candied citrus peel

Some friends of mine made these recently, using oranges, grapefruit and limes. Of these, the lime was the surprise favorite of the evening, resulting in some amusing jockeying for proxiity to the last plate of treats.

While I haven't made these myself, I would guess that you can easily double the amount of peel without increasing the amount of other ingredients. More than that and I would increase the amount of water in which the peel is boiled and make more syrup.

Chocolate dipped candied lime peelChocolate-dipped Candied Citrus Peel

Candied Citrus Peel
fruit (pick one) ~ oranges 6 | grapefruit 4-5 | lemons 12 | limes 18
water 12 cups (divided in thirds)
water 1 1/2 cups
sugar 4 1/2 cups
sugar 1/2 cup

Peel fruit in long strips using a paring knife. Remove any white pith from the peel and cut peel into 1/2 x 2 inch pieces.

Put 4 cups of water in a heavy saucepan and bring it to a boil. Add the peel, let it boil again. Cover and reduce heat to low for 20 minutes. Drain. Repeat two more times.

Measure 1 1/2 cups of water and 4 1/2 cups sugar into saucepan and stir occasionally while bringing it to a boil over medium heat. Once it boils, reduce heat to low, attach a thermometer to pan (make sure it does not touch the bottom of the pan) and cook, without stirring, to 230° (thread), about 20 minutes. Add peel and continue cooking over low heat, stirring occasionally, to 240° (soft ball stage).

The syrup will drip off the peel when you remove it from the sugar syrup so you need to set up a wire rack over something that will catch the syrup. If you want to save the syrup to reuse it, use waxed paper; If you are going to throw the syrup away, you may prefer two layers of paper towels on a cookie sheet.

Remove peel from sugar syrup using a slotted spoon and drain on wire racks until the syrup has all drained off. (If you plan on reusing the syrup, pick up a piece of wax paper, fold it in half lengthwise and pour the syrup into a jar. Cover tightly and store in the refrigerator.)

Candied citrus peel coated in chocolatePut 1/2 cup sugar in a shallow bowl or on a piece of waxed paper. Roll each piece of peel in the sugar to coat well. Place peel on clean wire racks to dry.

Chocolate dipping
About an hour after peel is rolled in sugar, melt 1/2 cup chocolate (in double boiler or using microwave on medium for a minute or two). Dip half of each piece of peel in chocolate and return to rack to set completely.

Candied peel keep for about two weeks in an airtight container. If it becomes sticky, roll it in sugar again.

March 14, 2007

kitchenMage's everMorphing Blueberry Muffin Recipe

blueberry muffins

For a number of years now, I have been fortunate enough to live in a house that had blueberry bushes in the garden. Right now I have about eight bushes, which having been attentively pruned and tended since we arrived, are now producing about a gallon each. That is enough to let us enjoy blueberry treats for several months, put up a dozen pints of blueberry habanero chutney, and still have a gallon or two in the freezer so I can make muffins to stave off the mid-winter no-fresh-fruit doldrums. In fact, I probably have enough berries for one more batch of muffins before I run out. Not bad for the end of February.

blueberries on vine

Most people would see this as the embarrassment of riches that it is, but I am utterly spoiled by our last house, which had a blueberry orchard! Two patches, each holding a five-by-five square of high-bush blueberries, kept us (and our friends) in berries all year. Each June found me in a race to empty the freezer of the previous year's harvest in time to make room for the berries that weighed down the fragile looking twiggy branches just outside my kitchen window.

This wealth also led me to an ongoing quest for the perfect blueberry muffin. During the heavy berrying season of late summer, when I could fill my basket in less time than it took the oven to preheat, I baked muffins weekly. (Remember what I said about berries for friends? I ate far too many muffins myself, but I did share!) This quest, however tasty, has proven fruitless-well, as fruitless as something involving gallons of berries could be-as I determined that there is no such critter as the perfect blueberry muffin.

Maybe I can blame it on my age. When I was a child, muffins were relatively dense and dry little things; tasty, but not particularly sweet or rich. Then sometime in the eighties, a transformation occurred. Muffins grew, more than doubling in size until one could be shared between two people who knew each other well enough to breakfast together. That wonderful rustic crumb, perhaps weighed down by the sheer bulk of the salad plate sized behemoths muffins had become, collapsed into a sugar-laden little cake-truly the only thing missing is the frosting. (I fear there is an entire generation of young people growing up who will think that the cakelets at every drive-through espresso stand are real muffins...but that's my own personal nightmare.)

blueberries in bowl

My favorite recipe straddles the line between the two versions, making a reliable, middle-of-the-road muffin: not too sweet and with a fairly "old-fashioned" crumb...but not too dry. It's a very good muffin and I can make it in my sleep. More importantly, many other people seem to be able to make it in theirs.

What I really love about this recipe, however, is its flexibility. It can be simply varied to produce a muffin that is adapted to your particular taste and demands of the occasion. If I need a fancier more dessert-like version, I increase the sugar and top them with cinnamon sugar. Less rich muffins come from a reduction in sour cream while richer ones from a change to full-fat sour cream. Flavor changes come from citrus zest and/or spices. And you can always add a handful of chopped nuts or even change the kind of berries you use.

kitchenMage's everMorphing blueberryMuffins

  makes one dozen normal muffins (or 5-6 huge ones)

egg, 1
sugar, 1/2  cup / 3 1/2 ounces / 100 grams
butter, melted and cooled, 3  tablespoons / 1 1/2 ounces / 42 grams
low-fat sour cream, 1 1/4  cups / 10 3/4 ounces / 300 grams
all-purpose flour, 1 3/4  cups  / 7 7/8 ounces / 220 grams
baking powder, 2  teaspoons
baking soda, 1  teaspoon
salt, 1/8  teaspoon
blueberries, 1 1/2  cups / 6 3/4 ounces / 189 grams (if fresh, simply wash; if frozen,leave in freezer until you are ready to use them)

Preheat oven to 375°. Have all ingredients, except frozen blueberries, at room temperature. Prepare muffin pan with paper cup liners.

  1. In a medium-sized bowl, beat the egg briefly with a wire whisk to lighten. Add the sugar and continue to whisk until you can no longer feel any resistance from undissolved sugar.
  2. Add the butter to the bowl and mix briefly to combine, then add sour cream and whisk until mixture is smooth and homogenous. (You can whisk an additional minute or two at this point, if your wrist can take it, to aerate the batter, making the muffins a bit lighter.)
  3. In another bowl, combine the dry ingredients and stir thoroughly to mix and eliminate lumps. (If you have a sifter-I use a 6" handheld sieve-this is a good time to pull it out; the muffins will come together more easily if the flour is well aerated.)
  4. Add the blueberries to the dry mixture and toss them gently for a few seconds to coat the berries.
  5. Add flour mixture to the liquid mixture and combine with a few quick folds.
  6. Scoop batter into muffin pan (a 4 oz scoop is about the right size).
  7. Bake for about 25 minutes.

Nutritional information

Per Serving: 190 Calories; 7g Fat (32.6% calories from fat); 4g Protein; 28g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 34mg Cholesterol; 295mg Sodium.  Exchanges: 1 Grain(Starch); 0 Lean Meat; 0 Fruit; 1 1/2 Fat; 1 Other Carbohydrates.

blueberries on vine


Here's where the real fun starts. These are adjustments that I have tried enough to vouch for how well they work. I am positive there are a lot more, but start here. Once you have made these a couple of times, you will find that you can make other changes with confidence.

The difference in nutritional data from the main recipe is included in parentheses, and is per muffin. (so you can decide just how badly you want to swap out that low-fat sour cream).

  • To make the muffins sweeter, increase the sugar to 3/4 cup. Much more gets overly sweet, but you can probably go to a full cup if you really want to. (+17 calories, +4g carbohydrates)
  • For muffins that are a little drier and less rich, reduce the sour cream to 1 cup. You may need to reduce baking time by a minute or two, but probably not enough that you would notice.  (-6 calories, -1mg cholesterol)
  • For a richer muffin, with a moister crumb, use regular sour cream instead of low-fat. (+22 calories, +4g fat, +6g cholesterol, -2g carbohydrates, -1g protein Exchanges: +1 fat)
  • You can use 1 cup of regular sour cream but you undo the nutritional gains of using low-fat and end up with a drier muffin than with the larger amount of low-fat sour cream. (+11 calories, +3g fat, +3g cholesterol, -2g carbohydrates Exchanges: +1/2 fat)
  • Add 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon, or 1/4 teaspoon each cinnamon and allspice, to enhance the spicy, earthy flavors.
  • Add the zest from an orange or lemon (with the liquids) for a different and subtle flavor.
  • For fluffier muffins, let them sit on the counter for 20 minutes after you fill the muffin tin.
  • Dress these up by brushing semi-cooled muffins with melted butter and sprinkling on a bit of cinnamon sugar. (+16 calories, +1g fat, +2g carbohydrates, +3mg cholesterol)
  • It doesn't change the resulting muffins, but for extra entertainment, try whisking with your non-dominant hand. Isn't it amazing how difficult such a simple motion can be? I swear my left hand thinks that "clockwise" means something else!

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