French Cherry Clafoutis

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It’s now been six years since our magical European Food Tour concluded. Faced with the COVID-19 pandemic and travel bans of 2020, my soul aches to return to those enchanting, cobblestone meandering days. We’ll get there. For now, we can revisit favorite food memories, such as this delightful (and simple!) cherry dessert.

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The cherry clafoutis shown above was enjoyed in a little café in Lichtenberg.  It was truly delicious, and I’ve mimicked the taste and textures pretty closely, with two exceptions.  First, I used pitted cherries.  I understand that whole cherries are traditional, but really, spitting cherry pits onto a china plate takes something away from the whole dining experience, don’t you agree?  Second, I added walnuts to the crust.  Why? Because cherry pits – supposedly – add a nutty flavor to the dish.  I subtracted the pits, added some walnuts, and Voila! – flavor without, well, pits.

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Ingredients (Serves 8 – 10)

For the crust:

1 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 cup ground walnuts

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup cold butter

2 tablespoons cherry brandy

1 egg

For the filling:

2 cups sweet cherries, pitted and set in a strainer to drain

8 ounces Neufchâtel cheese, softened (or substitute cream cheese)

2 eggs

1/3 cup sugar

1 tablespoon cherry brandy

Directions

Step 1) Combine whole wheat flour, walnuts, and sugar.  Cut in butter with a pastry cutter or two forks, until mixture resembles little peas.  Add egg and cherry brandy.  Mix – use your hands! – until well combined.

Step 2) Press dough into a tart pan (a pie dish would work fine, too).  Place a piece of aluminum foil over the dough and sprinkle with dried beans.  This will keep air bubbles from forming and “puffing up” your dough.

Step 3) Bake dough (foil, beans, and all) in a preheated 400 degree oven for 20 minutes.  Reduce heat to 375 degrees and bake an additional 10 minutes.  Remove from oven, remove beans and foil, and let cool for 10 minutes.

WIN_20140929_181944Step 4) While crust cools, use an electric mixer to combine softened Neufchâtel cheese, eggs, sugar, and brandy.

Step 5) Arrange thawed, drained cherries on crust.  Cover with cheese filling.

Step 6) Bake for 25 minutes at 350 degrees.  Serve warm or cold.  Personally, I prefer this dish cold.  Try to share with 7 – 9 other people, but if you eat the whole darn thing by yourself, I won’t judge.  😉

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Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread

WIN_20150724_123445If you don’t like zucchini, well, I’m not sure we can be friends. 😉 In all seriousness, zucchini is one of the most versatile vegetables available. It’s also low in calories, surprisingly packed full of vitamins, and a prolific producer in just about any North American garden. This recipe uses grated zucchini. Feel free to use grated patty pan squash, yellow crookneck squash, or any other “zucchini-like” summer squash.

PS – You can grate your extra zucchini now and freeze it in 1 1/2 cup quantities (just measure it into zip-lock freezer bags) to bake this recipe later, if your hammock is calling you out into the sunshine!

WIN_20150724_101403Ingredients (Makes 2 loaves)

1 1/2 cups grated zucchini

1 teaspoon almond extract

1 cup applesauce

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 eggs

1 cup sugar

1 large package instant chocolate pudding

3 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

WIN_20150724_103524Directions

Step 1) Grease and flour two bread pans.

Step 2) Combine grated zucchini, almond extract, applesauce, oil, and eggs. Stir until well combined.

Step 3) Add sugar and pudding mix; stir well.

Step 4) Add dry ingredients, a little at a time, until well incorporated. Fold in the mini chocolate chips last.

Step 5) Divide batter between two bread pans. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 50 minutes to 1 hour. Bread is done when a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.

Like just about any zucchini bread, this bread freezes well!

Lemonade Bundt Cake

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Have extra summer squash lurking in your garden? Here’s a fun, summery way to enjoy this plentiful veggie. This recipe works for zucchini, too!

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Ingredients (Makes 1 Bundt cake or 2 loaves)

1 1/2 cups grated yellow summer squash, such as patty pan squash (cut the peel off before grating if the peel is tough)

1 teaspoon lemon extract

1 cup applesauce

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1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 eggs

1 cup sugar

1 large package instant lemon pudding

3 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

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1 teaspoon salt

For the icing:

2 – 3 cups powdered sugar

juice from 1/2 lemon

2 drops yellow food coloring

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Directions

Step 1) Grease a Bundt pan (or two bread pans) very well.

Step 2) Combine grated summer squash, lemon extract, applesauce, oil, and eggs. Stir until well combined.

Step 3) Add sugar and pudding mix; stir well.

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Step 4) Add dry ingredients, a little at a time, until well incorporated.

Step 5) Transfer batter to pan(s). Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 50 – 55 minutes. Cake is done when a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.

Step 6) Allow to cool in pan(s) for 15 minutes. Run a butter knife around the edge of the pan to loosen, then carefully transfer the cake to a serving plate.

Step 7) In a small bowl, combine 2 cups powdered sugar, juice from 1/2 lemon, and 2 drops of yellow food coloring. Stir well. If icing is too thin, add a bit more powdered sugar.

Step 8) Drizzle icing all over cake. If desired, garnish with slivers of lemon peel. Serve with coffee or tea and enjoy with a friend!

Cookies from Latvia

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Biezpiena Cepumi

Happy Holidays, friends! Here at Crowded Earth Kitchen we’ve been traveling, homeschooling, and collecting amazing recipes from around the world to share with you. Today’s gem is Biezpiena Cepumi, beautiful Latvian cookies that are delicious with coffee on cold winter days. These treats aren’t overly sweet; if you like lemon cookies or windmill cookies, give these a try. Biezpiena Cepumi are nut-free and egg-free, as well.

Ingredients (Makes 36 cookies)

1 cup plus Continue reading

Japanese-Inspired Banana Spongecake

Japanese desserts tend to be a bit lighter and less sugary than Western desserts. Also, bananas and banana-flavored treats are very popular in Japan. This banana spongecake is inspired by desserts we enjoyed throughout Tokyo. Enjoy!

Ingredients (Serves 8)

1 very ripe banana

2 eggs Continue reading

Cherry Tomato Cheddar Muffins

M1This week, the cherry tomatoes in my garden are sweet and delicious. While they make a flavorful addition to a variety of sauces, cherry tomatoes are so darn cute that it’s fun to cook with them in ways that show off their shape! This recipe combines garden fresh cherry tomatoes with cheddar cheese in a delightful cornbread muffin recipe guaranteed to make you smile. Let’s get started!  Continue reading

Lazy Chocolate Zucchini Bread

Z1Here’s the quick story behind this recipe: Half-Pint wanted zucchini bread (actually, the request was “Can you turn this zucchini into something chocolate?”), but it’s nice outside. Autumn is a’comin’, and I want to be outside savoring the end of summer! This recipe Continue reading

Double Cherry Cookies

double cherry cookiesOne of my kitchen helpers loves cherries, and helped me put this recipe together. The resulting cookies were fantastic, and have earned a spot in the regular rotation of Crowded Earth Kitchen’s after-school snacks. We hope you enjoy these as much as we do!

Ingredients (Makes about 4 dozen) Continue reading