Oktoberfest in Germany begins Saturday, September 22, 2012, and ends Sunday, October 7, 2012...

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Bourbon Praline Sweet Potatoes

By Kerrie

I make this dish with Garnet Yams, which are actually sweet potatoes.   The garnet yam, named for its dark reddish-brown skin, is the variety you're most likely to find in the produce section of the supermarket.  It's so flavorful that it’s my choice for sweet potato pie as well as the recipe I will share with you today for the best Thanksgiving Sweet Potato dish you will ever try.   Give it a try and share your thoughts….

Note:   Do use bourbon rather than whiskey.  As bourbon is actually a type of whiskey, it is distilled with at least 70% corn mash and is placed in charred oak barrels for aging, .   This makes a difference.   If you are concerned about offering a dish associated with alcohol,  I don’t think you need to worry about this one.   First, only a small amount of bourbon is added and it is not only cooked in the sauce, but then bakes for 30 minutes.   The alcohol will cook off – just leaving a pleasant mellow essence.


6 large garnet yams - peeled and sliced 1 inch thick
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
1/4 cup bourbon
1/2  teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup pecans


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F    

Arrange sweet potatoes in a 9x13 inch baking dish.

Combine sugar, butter, bourbon and vanilla extract in a medium saucepan and heat to a boil.  As soon as the sauce comes to a boil add the pecans and remove pan from the heat.  Let the pecans rest in the hot butter/sugar mixture for about 3 minutes.

Then arrange the pecans over the sweet potatoes and pour the rest of the mixture over them.  

Bake 30 to 40 minutes or until the sweet potatoes are fork tender.   About 20 minutes into the baking process, spoon some of the sauce in the bottom of the pan over the sweet potato slices.  Baste again in about 10 minutes or so.   If the pecan pieces are getting too brown, cover lightly with foil so they do not burn.  

Enjoy !!!

Look for a future recipe for Sweet Potato Muffins if we have any leftovers…..

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Pineapple, Jicama & Avocado Salad

This time of year all things citrus beckon to me.   It might be a natural need for vitamin C, but whatever the reason, I have in my possession a perfect smallish pineapple and some limes from my bountiful basket.   Okay, I know pineapple is not a citrus, but it’s sweet acidic juice and texture is a perfect pairing for my limes and the orange and ancho chili pepper dressing I will be tossing this salad with.   Try this salad as a side or perhaps a main meatless dish during the middle of the week.    This salad inspiration comes from a vegetarian cookbook titled “The Tassajara Recipe Book” by Edward Espe Brown.    The following is my adaptation….

Note:   I find that cilantro can sometimes be a little strong and will quickly overpower a dish.   I like to just use the leaves.   I can still get that fresh cilantro taste, but it is not as bold as using the stems and leaves combined.   I first rinse the cilantro and then pick off the leaves and drop them into a prep bowl.  Then I use herb shears to cut them into bits.   This keeps the process more contained and it is easy to scoop them into the blades in a smaller confinement.


For the salad:
¼ red bell pepper, cut in thin strips
¼ cup red onion, cut crosswise into thin arcs
¼ cup cilantro leaves – diced very small
1 small pineapple (about 2 cups) cut into bite sized pieces
Juice of 2 limes
1 cup jicama, cut into thin matchsticks
1 large, or 2 small very ripe avocados, cut into chunks

For the dressing:
½ cup orange juice
¼ teaspoon ground Ancho Chili spice
¼ teaspoon salt


Peel and cut the pineapple.   Place the pieces into a mixing bowl.

Then peel and slice the jicama into matchstick size pieces. Top the pineapple with the jicama and squeeze lime juice over it and toss.

Next, slice the red pepper very thin and add it to the pineapple mixture.

Then, slice the red onion very thin and add it to the mixture.

Now, top the peppers and onions with the cilantro.

Then, slice the avocadoes and add to the bowl.

Using a 1 cup container,  add the orange juice, ancho chili spice and the salt.   Mix well and then pour over the avocados.  

Now, toss all very gently.   The creaminess of the avocados will add a creamy texture to the salad when tossed.   For this reason I find no need to add oil to the dressing.

Enjoy !!!

Link for the cookbook: The Tassajara Recipe Book

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Zucchini Spice Bread

By Kerrie

Last week we received some nice Zucchini in our Bountiful Basket that was destined to become something warm and spicy in a bread or cakey sort of way.  I crave warm fragrant spices this time of year so I spiced it up a bit and found it quite pleasant.   Another twist is adding applesauce for extra moisture as opposed to more oil or butter.   Do you think that might earn a second slice or so….?

Note:   If you try this recipe, I think you might find as I have, that using a food processor to chop the zucchini results in smaller bits rather than long shreds as produced by a shredder.   I like the difference it makes.   You might too – let me know…..

Yield = 2 loaves


2 cups finely chopped (or shredded)  zucchini
3 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil (I use canola)
1 stick softened unsalted butter (room temperature)
1 heaping cup of unsweetened applesauce
2 cups packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup dried currants

First, rinse zucchini and dry with a paper towel.   Then slice down the center and then quarter.   Cut out the row of seeds.   Then, cut into large cubes.   Place all of the cubes in the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times to the desired consistency.   Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Then, to the bowl of a large mixing bowl add the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and ground cloves.   Dry whisk vigorously to combine all of the ingredients and aerate the flour.  Set aside.

Next, to the bowl of a separate mixing bowl add the eggs and using an electric mixer beat on medium high for several seconds.   Then add the sugar, oil, butter, applesauce, vanilla and sugar.   Mix on medium-high until well incorporated.

Now, pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and mix on medium just until combined.

Then,  top the batter with the chopped nuts, currants and zucchini.   Fold in with a large spoon.

Pour the batter into two prepared loaf pans.   (Either greased or lined with parchment paper)

Place loaves in oven and bake for 50 - 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.  

Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes before removing from pans - then continue to cool on rack.

Enjoy !!!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Braised Fennel Bulb with White Wine Sauce

By Kerrie

Fennel Bulb is one of those surprise goodies that I get in a Bountiful Basket every now and then.   I say surprise because it is something I have never tasted or even sought out before.  Anyway, since it came my way, I had to cook it in a manner that would offer it’s goodness in a “must have it again” way.   This is what I did – and yes, we must have it again – in a larger proportion….

This recipe will yield two servings, but the fennel bulb is so yummy I would recommend one bulb per person when you make this.


1 fennel bulb
1 tablespoon butter
Salt and Pepper to taste
Splash of white wine – enough to cover the butter and brown pieces from the fennel
1 tablespoon sour cream


First,  peel off the outer skin of the bulb and slice off the frond.   Then section it.   I found an apple slicer to do this perfectly.   Set aside. 

Then, to a medium size sauce pan melt 1 tablespoon of butter.  Place the fennel wedges in the butter and cook on medium high until nicely caramelized.   Remove the fennel from the pan and set aside.

Now, pour just enough white wine over the browned butter and fennel bits and stir to deglaze.   Cook on medium until the wine mixture reduces a bit.

Remove pan from heat heat and add the sour cream and stir until well incorporated.

Add the caramelized fennel to the sauce, salt and pepper to taste,  and serve.  

 Enjoy !!!!

Served over chicken....

Friday, November 18, 2011

Nutella & Hazelnut Cookies

I used to have a subscription for several different cooking magazines, but over the last year I let them expire with the exception of Cuisine at Home.   I'm so glad I kept it because the cookie recipe I want to share with you today is taken from the December 2011 edition.  These cookies are loaded with chocolate, hazelnuts and Nutella (which is also made with roasted hazelnuts).   Even if you think you don’t like hazelnuts, I challenge you to try this recipe.   If you love ‘em like I do, you are going to swoon over these cookies….

I tweaked the recipe a bit.  This is my adaptation.  See link below for the magazine.
Also, for chewy centers and crisp edges, remove the cookies from the oven when centers look slightly underdone.

The dough should be chilled for at least 4 hours, but you can also chill overnight.  

You will need two mixing bowls, one for the wet mixture and one for the dry.


2 cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter – room temperature
1 ½ cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 cup Nutella
1  teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup finely chopped hazelnuts


To the bowl of a large mixing bowl add the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  Dry whisk vigorously to mix the ingredients and aerate the flour.  Set aside.

Then, to a medium mixing bowl add the butter and sugar and beat with an electric hand mixer on medium speed until smooth and creamy.  Then add the eggs one at a time, beating to fully incorporate before adding the next.  Then, add Nutella and vanilla.  Beat until combined.   

Then, top the dry mixture with the wet mixture and mix just until combined.   Scrape the sides of the bowl.

Now, top the dough with plastic wrap to prevent drying. Then, top the bowl with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator to chill for 4 hours or overnight.

About an hour before you want to bake the cookies, take the bowl out of the fridge and set on counter.   This will allow for a softer dough to work with.

Now, to remove the bitter skins from the hazelnuts, place in a bowl and cover it loosely.   Microwave for 40 seconds.  Then cover the container tightly and shake the container hard.  This will loosen and remove most of the skins.   The skins that do not shake off can easily be rubbed off with a paper towel.   Repeat the process if necessary one more time.   

Then, finely chop the hazelnuts and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F., then line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Scoop dough with a medium scoop and roll in hazelnuts.

Bake cookies, about 6 at a time, until edges are set, about 14 – 16 minutes.  

Let cookies cool on baking sheets.     Yield should be two dozen+

Enjoy !!!!

Link for magazine:  Cuisine at Home

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Cottage Cheese & Dill Bread

Cottage cheese and dill has been a traditional combination for bread bakers over decades.   If you check out any bread making cookbook you will probably find a recipe for Cottage Cheese & Dill.   When I saw the version in “The Tassajara Recipe Book” I knew I had to try this bread.   This recipe calls for a small amount of onion diced very small and sautéed to a nice caramelization.   The aroma of the onions and dill will make your mouth water as it bakes and infuses the kitchen with a savory bread goodness.   You can enjoy it as an attractive appetizer bread or a great partner to cheese, soups, and salads.    I have tweaked the book’s recipe, but you will find a link for the cookbook at the bottom.


1 Tablespoon Active Dry Yeast
¼ cup lukewarm water
3 Tablespoons honey
½ medium yellow onion – diced small
Oil for pan
5 cups bread flour – plus more for dusting and kneading
2 teaspoons salt
2 Tablespoons dry dill weed
2 eggs
¾ cup cottage cheese
1 ½ cup warm water
1 egg
1 Tablespoon cold water

Note:   You will start the yeast with a quarter cup of lukewarm water to activate it.   When you add the additional water, it will be over the cool eggs and cottage cheese, so rather than lukewarm, the water should be very warm.   This will warm up the wet mixture.   If the wet mixture is too cool it will slow down the rising process.


First, dice onion very small and sauté in a small amount of oil until onions are nicely browned.   Set aside.

Then, to a one cup container add ¼ cup of warm water.   Add to it 3 Tablespoons of honey.   Stir with a plastic spoon.   When the temperature is lukewarm, sprinkle the yeast over it.   Stir, and then place the container in a warm place.   I use the interior of my microwave oven.   It will take about 15 minutes for the yeast to proof.

Meanwhile, to a large mixing bowl add the flour, salt and dried dill weed.  Dry whisk vigorously to combine and aerate the flour.  Set aside.

Then, to the bowl of a food processor add the egg and run on low for a second to beat.

Next, add to the egg the cottage cheese and run on low for a few seconds to combine.

Now, add the warm water and run on low for a few seconds to combine.  Then, add the yeast mixture and run on low for a few seconds to combine.

Now, add the flour mixture in two increments.  Run each addition on low until well incorporated.  The dough will still be very moist.

Transfer the dough to a flour dusted work surface and knead more flour into it until it is soft and smooth.  Pat it out nice and flat, then sprinkle the caramelized onions over it.  Knead again for a minute or so to insure the onions are evenly distributed through the dough.  Then, form a dough ball.   

Place the dough ball into a large oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap.   Place bowl in a warm place to rest and raise.   This should take about an hour, and the dough should double in size.   I usually use the interior of my microwave oven as the temperature will remain more constant.

When the dough has doubled in size, punch it down and return to the flour dusted work surface. 
Divide the dough in half and shape into a loaves.

Place dough loaves into greased or lined bread pans and allow the dough to double in size.   This should take 45 – 60 minutes.   Again, I use the interior of my microwave oven.  The temperature remains constant and the dough is not as prone to dry out.

About 15 minutes before baking, pre-heat oven to 375 degrees F.

When ready to bake,  slit each loaf down the middle with a razor or a serrated knife.   Then make an egg wash of one egg and a tablespoon of cold water by beating the mixture with a fork.  Then brush the tops of the loaves with the egg wash.

Now, place bread pans in oven and bake for 45 – 55 minutes, or until nicely browned and hollow sounding if rapped on the top or bottom.  During the baking process tent the loaves as soon as they become golden.  This will prevent the loaves from over browning.   Also, after baking for 35 minutes, reduce the oven temp to 350 degrees F. 

When done, remove loaves and cool on a wire rack.   After 5 minutes, remove the bread from the pans and continue to cool on the wire rack.

Enjoy thick cut slices warm with a bit of butter or the next day by toasting and buttering.

Link for cookbook:   The Tassajara Recipe Book