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

Audrey’s Cherry Preserves

Audrey's Cherry Preserves

Audrey, one of the three fabulous fictional ladies featured in Carly Ellen Kramer’s novel How to Bake a Chocolate Soufflé, was delighted to participate in a character interview with N.M. Sotzek at On Writing.  Laugh along as Audrey dishes on her girlfriends and discusses her famous cherry preserves here.  The recipe itself is simple… here we go!

Audrey’s Cherry Preserves
2 pounds dark, sweet pitted cherries (fresh or frozen)
1 heaping tablespoon lemon marmalade (or juice and zest from 1/2 lemon)
4 ounces liquid pectin
3 cups sugar

Add half of the pitted cherries to a large pot. Coarsely chop the other half of the cherries in a blender or food processor, and add to the pot with the whole cherries.

Simmer over low heat with stirring until cherries are soft and release a lot of liquid. Bring to a boil, stirring so that the cherries on the bottom of the pot don’t burn!  Add marmalade, pectin, and sugar. Stirring constantly, return mixture to a hard boil.

Boil for five minutes.  Remove from heat, and allow to cool slightly before transferring to glass jars.  If you are canning Audrey’s Cherry Preserves as gifts, process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.  Makes approximately 6 half-pint jars.

Easy Cherry Clafoutis

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It’s time to say Au revoir to France.  While this is a painful announcement, as I’m pretty sure I could write about French food for weeks and months and years, it’s time to move on.  Crowded Earth Kitchen has awesome foods and experiences from both Belgium and Switzerland to share before our European Food Tour ends at the end of October.  Rest assured that we’ll feature French recipes occasionally throughout the coming months!  For now, we’re leaving you with a particularly fabulous French recipe… Easy Cherry Clafoutis.

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I could live here!

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

WIN_20140929_175243For the filling:

12 ounces frozen dark sweet cherries, thawed and drained

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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Sauerkirschkuchen in Petersdorf, Germany (Or, “What can I bake from what I can find at Aldi?”)

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Petersdorf is one of the larger towns on Fehmarn island, large being a relative term (the entire island is home to approximately 12,000 people).  During my stay on Fehmarn, the Aldi store in Petersdorf is where I did most of my shopping – Aldi prices are quite low, and while Aldi stores aren’t exactly aesthetically pleasing, they still offer a more pleasant shopping experience that The Store With A W That Shall Not Be Named.  Say what you will about Aldi, the fact that the company has managed to keep the behemoth W out of Germany is worthy of respect.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAShopping at Aldi takes some getting used to.  Aldi is able to offer very low prices because their business model dictates that an average Aldi store stock only about 1,500 different items.  That may sound like a lot, but it’s less than five percent – and in some cases less than one percent – of the inventory at many American supermarkets.

I didn’t take much notice of the limited inventory at Aldi until I tried to bake.  I could find granulated white sugar, but not confectioner’s sugar (a challenge when making frosting).  I could find baking powder, but not cream of tartar (a challenge when making meringues).  I also could not find molasses, and I tend to bake with a lot of molasses.

So, I changed my tack.  I went on a baking scavenger hunt, searching for interesting ingredients and thinking of ways to use them.  Voila!  I stumbled upon a big jar of sauerkirschen, or sour cherries.  The best part was, the jar was priced at less than half of what I knew these lovely little fruits would cost back home.  So, today we are making sauerkirchkuchen, a very simple cherry cake.  Enjoy!

picture1225 Ingredients (makes an 8″ square cake)

1 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 cup sugar

3 tablespoons butter

1 egg

1/2 cup milk

2 cups sour cherries (pitted, drained if jarred)

picture1226Directions

Step 1) Grease an 8″ square cake pan or a glass pie dish; set aside.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Step 2) Combine flour, salt, baking powder, and sugar.  Cut butter into dry mixture using a pastry cutter or two forks.  Continue cutting butter into mixture until all butter pieces are smaller than peas.

Step 3) Add egg and milk to flour and butter mixture; combine with a fork.  Batter should be thick, like biscuit dough.

Step 4) Spread batter into bottom of pan.  Top with cherries.  If desired, drizzle tops of cherries with 1-2 tablespoons of cherry juice and/or 1 teaspoon of white sugar.

Step 5) Bake in 350 degree oven for 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the dough (pick a spot not covered by a cherry) comes out clean.  Check after 35 minutes.

Let cool slightly before enjoying.  This makes a wonderful breakfast kuchen served with coffee, or a wonderful dessert served with ice cream!

 

Amazing Oatmeals

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I can’t think of a breakfast more devoted to overall wellness than a bowl of properly dressed oatmeal.  I really can’t.  For only 150 calories, a single cup of oats contains about 6 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber.  The soluble fiber in oats, called beta-glucan, is special.  This fiber has repeatedly been shown to lower cholesterol levels, which in turn lowers the risk of developing cardiovascular disease.  Still not convinced?  What if I tell you that the beta-glucan in oats has also been linked to more stable blood sugar levels in people with Type 2 diabetes?  It’s true.

How much of this special fiber does it take to improve your health, you ask?  Only the amount found in a daily bowl of oatmeal.  So, let’s do ourselves a favor this morning.  Let’s both agree to say “No” to preservative-laden boxed cereals, skip the donuts with our coffee, and instead enjoy properly dressed bowls of oatmeal together.

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Directions

Stir together the ingredients for the blend of your choice, below, in a small mixing bowl.  Pack into a pint size mason jar.  For each serving, scoop out 1/2 cup of mixture from the mason jar and place in a microwave-safe bowl.  Add 1 cup of water and microwave for 2 minutes or until water is absorbed.  Enjoy!

Apple Walnut Blend (makes 4 servings)

1 1/3 cups rolled oats

1 tablespoon flax seed

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon cloves

1/3 cup chopped dried apples

1/3 cup raw walnuts

Blueberry Quinoa Blend (makes 4 servings)

1 1/2 cups rolled oats

1/4 cup quinoa

1/4 cup dried blueberries

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

Cherry Almond Blend (makes 4 servings)

1 1/3 cups rolled oats

1/3 cup raw almonds

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/3 cup dried tart cherries

Coconut Almond Blend (makes 4 servings)

1 1/3 cups rolled oats

1/3 cup raw almonds

1/4 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/3 cup dried, shaved coconut

I feel better already, don’t you?