Date Bread

A week or so ago Mom made a trip to our favorite co-op. She brought back many delcious things, including some chopped dates. When she noticed me mixing them into my oatmeal, she protested and expressed a desire for date bread.

I was more than happy to oblige. So I found a recipe from a trusted source and gathered the required ingredients.

Confession: I made two mistakes while preparing this loaf. And it still turned out great! Gotta love Joy of Baking.

1) I added too much flour. Don’t ask me why. I just didn’t trust my usual, fail safe method of weighing the flour. So I had to add 1/4 cup of milk at the end of mixing. Surprisingly the extra mixing didn’t turn the bread into a brick.

2) I completely forgot to add the walnuts. The bread was sitting cozily in the oven when I noticed the walnuts, sitting on the counter, toasted, chopped, and ready to be used. Oh well. I took it in stride. 🙂

This bread was very moist and soft, even though I used all whole wheat flour. If you are leery of 100% whole wheat bread, simply use all-purpose flour in place of all or part of the wheat. Serve plane, with butter, or cream cheese.

And the word from Dad, the date hater: “That’s pretty good date bread.” Wow. It must be good.

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Date and Walnut Bread

Adapted from Joy of Baking

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces (225 grams) pitted dates, coarsely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup (240 ml) boiling water
  • 2 cups (8 ounces) Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
  • 1/2 cup Sucanat, demerara, or brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) cold butter, cut into pieces
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions:

1) To prepare the dates: In a large bowl mix the chopped dates with the baking soda and a pinch of salt (1/8 teaspoon). Pour 1 cup of very hot water over the dates, stir, and leave to cool to room temperature (about 1 hour).

2) To make the batter: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) and place rack in center of oven. Butter and flour a 9 x 5 x 3 inch loaf pan.  Set aside.

3) In a food processor place the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and ground cinnamon. Process to combine and then add the butter. Process until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Stir in the chopped walnuts.

4) In a separate bowl, whisk the egg with the vanilla extract.  Fold the flour mixture and beaten egg mixture into the cooled dates (with their water). Stir until combined. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake until the bread has risen and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 55 to 65 minutes. Place on a wire rack and leave to cool for 10 minutes. Gently slide a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen. Turn out onto a wire rack to cool. Serve warm or at room temperature. Or, if you will not be using the bread immediately, when the bread has almost completely cooled, wrap well in plastic wrap and place in a zippered bag to store.

Makes one – 9 x 5 x 3 inch loaf.

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How to Toast Nuts Over the Stove

Here is my favorite method for toasting nuts. I find it much easier than continually having to open the oven, take the nuts out, give them a stir, and put them back in the oven.

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:: How to Toast Nuts Over the Stove ::

Place the desired nuts into an appropriate sized skillet over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until nuts are toasty and fragrant, about 5-8 minutes. Cooking time will vary, depending on the type of nuts used.

It’s just that simple!

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Maple Cornbread ~ and a Giveaway!

Yankee cornbread. Slather it with butter. Pour on the maple syrup. Repeat.

This recipe is the perfect blend of sweet and nearly fluffy, and rustic and flavorful.

This cornbread has the best flavor when you use fresh ground or at least stone ground corn. However, it is still very tasty when you only have yellow cornmeal (as I did).

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Maple Cornbread

Adapted from the King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (4 ounces) whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 cup stone ground or yellow cornmeal
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) whole milk
  • 1/4 cup (2 3/4 ounces) maple syrup
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten

Directions:

1) Preheat the oven to 425° F. Pour 2 tablespoons of the melted butter into an 8 or 9-inch square or round baking pan.

2) In a medium mixing bowl, whisk the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt. In a small bowl, whisk the milk, maple syrup, remaining butter, and eggs. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and gently stir together just until moistened.

3) Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Serve warm with butter and maple syrup.

Makes 9 servings

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And now for the giveaway!

Here’s what you’ll win:

One lucky person will win two (2) cotton dishcloths, hand knitted by yours truly!

What makes these dishcloths so special?

They are knit with a single strand of crochet thread. That makes for a much tighter knit than regular hand knitted dishcloths. And the scrubbing power is wonderful. They take much longer to knit, but it is worth it.

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How can you win these?


Leave a comment describing to me what you would do with this piece of cornbread. For example: would you drizzle it with honey, spread it with jam, crumble it into a soup, or chuck it out the door?


The Rules:

  • Leave a comment as described above before 11 p.m. on Monday, May 18.
  • You must leave me with a valid e-mail address.
  • Only one comment per person.
  • The winner will be chosen at random using random.org.

Good luck!

Edited Tuesday, May 19: The giveaway has ended. Thank you all for participating! The winner will be announced shortly.

Chicken Salad for Sandwiches

We first tried this recipe about five years ago, for a tea party. It was a hit (at least among the female tasters), and it has been our chicken salad of choice ever since.

This recipe is creamy, yet not too greasy; rich, but balanced with fresh vegetables, sweet fruit, and toasted nuts.

It is excellent all on its own, but it makes a special little treat when served on buttered and toasted bread.

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:: Waldorf Chicken Salad ::

Adapted from The New Best Recipe

Ingredients:

Chicken

  • 2 large whole, bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts (for the best taste) or boneless, skinless chicken breasts (for ease of preparation)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt

Salad

  • 2 medium celery ribs, cut into small dice
  • 2 medium scallions, white and green parts, minced
  • 1 large crisp apple, cored and cut into medium dice
  • 6 tablespoons chopped, toasted walnuts
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons juice from 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
  • Salt and ground black pepper

Directions:

1) For the chicken: Heat the oven to 400 °F.  Put the breasts in a foil-lined lined baking sheet. Brush with the olive oil and sprinkle generously with salt to taste. Roast until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast reads 160° F, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool to room temperature. If using bone-in skin-on chicken breasts, remove the skin and bones and discard. Shred the meat.

2) For the Salad: Mix the shredded chicken and celery, scallions, apple, walnuts, mayonnaise, sour cream, lemon juice, and parsley together in a large bowl.  Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve. Can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 1 day.

Serves 6 as a main course

To make the sandwiches:

  • Your favorite bread for toasting, cut into triangles.
  • Butter
  • Lettuce
  • Waldorf Chicken Salad (see above for recipe)
  • Chopped green onions, for garnish, optional

1) Toast the bread, either in a toaster or under a broiler. Spread with butter. Allow to cool slightly.

2) Place a piece of lettuce on each triangle. Carefully spoon a portion of chicken salad on top of each. Garnish with green onions. Serve immediately.

Note: The sandwiches can be covered and refrigerated for a short while. The longer they stand, the soggier the toast will become.

Piped Deviled Eggs

dev’ il, v.t.: (from the notion of heat) to prepare (food) with seasoning, condiments, etc.

When I was a little girl, one of my favorite things to make (and one of few I was allowed to make on my own) was deviled eggs. Each time I made them I would add different spices, trying to come up with the perfect combination.

Then, about nine years later, I sank my teeth into these elegant little eggs. The flavors are excellently paired. And the pretty piping is irresistible.

According to Wiki, ‘The term “deviled” dates back to the 19th century, referring to the use of particularly hot spices in cooking.’

I prefer my eggs with slighly less kick, and this recipe delivers. If you like your eggs more devilishly hot, simply increase the spices.

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:: Deviled Eggs ::

Ingredients:

  • 7 large eggs, hard boiled
  • 3/4 teaspoon whole-grain mustard
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons white or red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt & Pepper

Directions:

1) Peel the eggs and cut each in half lengthwise. Remove the yolks and place in a small bowl. Discard two of the most unsightly whites and arrange the remaining whites on an attractive platter.

2) Mash the yolks with a fork. Add the mustard, mayonnaise, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, and salt & pepper to taste. Stir with a rubber spatula, mashing against the side of the bowl until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary.

3) Fit a pastry bag or zippered bag with a hole cut in one corner with a large star tip. Fill the bag with the yolk mixture. Pipe the whites with the yolk mixture, mounding the filling approximately 1/2 inch above the edge of the whites. If using a zippered bag, squeeze gently to pipe as the tip may pop out. Serve immediately.

Makes 1 dozen egg halves.

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