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19 May 2011

Fig, Apricot and Pecan Bars: the recipe

Here is the recipe I used for these delicious treats, it is adapted from the blondies recipe in my Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook (11th edition). They were still a little crumbly, I think because of the oats. If you want you could use only all-purpose flour, but the oats do give it a nice texture.

Fig, Apricot and Pecan Bars

1/2 c. chopped dried apricots
1/2 c. chopped dried figs
1 c. packed brown sugar
10 Tbsp. butter
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. quick oats
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. ground cardamom (or your favorite complementary spice)
1 c. chopped toasted pecans

Preheat oven to 325. Grease a 8 x 11 inch baking pan (Better Homes and Gardens says 9 x 13, but I like the bars tall instead of spread out), set aside.
Place the dried apricot and fig pieces in a small bowl and pour boiling water over them, enough to cover them. Set aside.
In a sauce pan heat the brown sugar and butter until the sugar dissolves, stirring constantly. Cool slightly. Mix in the eggs, one at a time, and the vanilla extract.  Mix in the flour, oats, baking powder, soda and cardamom. Drain the soaked fruit in a strainer and mix the nuts and fruit into the batter. Pour it all into the prepared pan and bake for about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool slightly on wire rack, consume.

14 May 2011

Grilled Pizza

We had some friends over for dinner and grilled some pizza. It is pretty much the greatest thing ever. We followed these directions and it turned out pretty awesome. We were making personal pizzas, but they ended up really big. But that's okay, we ate them anyway.

09 May 2011

Fig, Apricot and Pecan Bars

After buying dried figs for my fig and almond bread last week, I needed something else to do with the leftover figs. I wanted to make cookies or cookie bars, so I looked up a recipe for blondies and modified it. It's pretty crumbly right now, but very tasty with a delightful texture with figs, apricots, pecans and oats . I should have a perfected recipe soon to share with you.

What do I think of the Thingamajig candy bar?

Here is Hershey's limited edition Thingamajig candy bar. It has a crisp rice part, and a peanut butter part. It is not stunning. It is mediocre. The peanut butter part is not great, and the crisp rice part is really hard. If you like crisp-rice candy bars, get a Crunch bar, if you like peanut butter candy bars, get some Reeses. This is not combining the best of both worlds. See a more detailed review here. Have you tried it? What do you think?

Try Something New Today

whole cheremoya

inside of cheremoya

This is a cheremoya, or custard apple. It is a weird tropical fruit from Ecuador/Peru/Chile, with a scaly looking pattern on the skin. There is a small store near where we live right now that always has interesting produce, and this was my latest acquisition. Lovemuffin enjoyed it, but the flavor is a little too weird for me. To me it tastes a lot like lychees, which I also don't care for, too floral, but my "Field Guide to Produce" says that the flavor is a combination of pineapple, papaya and banana. It has a couple of close relatives with similar flavors, the sweetsop, soursop and atemoya. If you are going to cut up a cheremoya to serve later, you will want to sprinkle it with lemon juice to keep it from turning brown. The Field Guide to Produce recommends freezing the fruit and eating it like ice cream, either just the plain fruit, cut up, or blended with lime juice and honey to make a sorbet. Maybe I'll try that this week, see if I like it better.
I hope this spring brings you lots of weird fruits as well as the courage to try them all.

the inside naturally seperates into sections, some of them have seeds

03 May 2011

fig and almond bread

I made the New Zealand Almond and Fig Bread from "The Bread Bible" (Berenbaum) and it was delicious! Here are some pictures for your viewing pleasure. We ate pretty much all of it before I could get pictures because our camera was MIA yesterday. But I managed to get two pictures of the last bit of crust this morning before I ate it.

inside of fig and almond bread

outside of fig and almond bread, with apricot jam and chopped almonds

I thought that the recipe called for too much figs and almonds for the amount of dough and it wouldn't hold together, but it did just fine. It also said to put apricot glaze on the outside, which I think is unnecessary, it makes it too sticky for cutting and eating. It calls for a little bit of whole wheat flour and I usually buy King arthur whole wheat flour because it is white wheat, but the store didn't have any last time, so I got the other other brand, which is red wheat and tastes stronger. I don't like it. But the bread turned out okay in spite of that. Anyway, I would recommend this recipe and the book, if you can get a copy from the library.

Wild Rice and Mushroom Soup

This soup is earthy and creamy and chewy and delicious all at the same time. I think you could substitute some regular white rice for the half of the wild rice, since wild rice is pretty expensive, but they cook at different rates and I always have a problem with regular rice in soups, it keeps taking on water and expanding and getting more and more mushy and you have to add more water to make it soup again. But wild rice doesn't do that. It does expand a little with sitting, but not significantly like regular rice.

wild rice and mushroom soup

Wild Rice and Mushroom Soup
1 cup wild rice
2 cups vegetable or chicken stock, plus more to make it soupy
about 20 medium sized mushrooms
1 onion, diced
1 cup cream
salt, pepper to taste

Boil the wild rice in the stock in a large-ish pan until it is mostly cooked, it will still be kind of crunchy/chewy, but the grains will start to burst and the liquid will be mostly evaporated-about 50 minutes. While that is cooking, chop the mushrooms into smallish pieces, put in a dry, hot pan and cook for few minutes until the mushrooms shrink and release water. When it seems like they have released all of their juices, add a little bit of oil to the pan and sauté the diced onion in it until it is soft, mix in the mushrooms with the onion and sauté for another minute, the mushrooms should brown a little more and be very fragrant, the onions should be tender and translucent. Add the mushrooms/onions to the wild rice, add the cream and additional stock if needed to make it the right amount of soupiness that you like, bring to a gentle boil for a few more minutes until the soup thickens a little bit; the wild rice grains should be bursting, but they will still be chewy. Add salt and pepper to taste. Makes 4 servings.