My best toad-in-the-hole

October 13, 2017

Toad-in-the-hole translates in Minnesotan to hootenanny pancake with sausages baked in.  

1 1/2 cups AP flour

1 1/2 cups whole milk

2 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted

1 tsp coarse salt

3 eggs

1 Tbsp clarified butter or ghee

5-6 frozen breakfast sausage links (not precooked), about one-inch in diameter.

Make the batter:  In a blender combine flour, milk, butter and salt. Leave batter to rest in the blender. 

Turn oven on to 425F. Put clarified butter in a well-seasoned 10-inch cast-iron skillet. Put skillet in oven to melt butter, about 5-10 minutes. Add sausages to the pan and return to the oven. After about 10 minutes the sausages will be well-browned on one side and the pan will be VERY hot.  Give the batter a five-second whir in the blender.  Working quickly, remove the pan to the stovetop, turn the sausages and pour batter over them. The pan should be hot enough that the batter will immediately start sizzling on the edges. Return the pan to the oven immediaty. Bake undisturbed for 25-30 minutes until puffy and crispy golden brown. 

Serve immediately with butter and your favorite syrup. 

Coconut-milk banana ice cream

July 6, 2017

A riff on the popular internet ice cream recipe made with only frozen bananas.  This one adds the creaminess and sweetness of coconut milk, but still with no added sugar or dairy.

1 can coconut milk

4 ripe bananas, frozen

2 tsp. vanilla

1 tsp. cinnamon

Put all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.  Transfer to ice cream freezer and freeze according to manufacturers instructions.

Serve with fruit.

Serves 4

Smothered cabbage

January 27, 2016

A comforting Cajun-inspired dish that’s easy to prepare and delicious served over rice.

Smothered cabbage

2 Tbsp. butter

1 large cabbage

1 onion, sliced

12 oz. ground cooked ham

1/2 tsp. brown sugar

salt and pepper

Quarter, core and slice the cabbage into thin ribbons.

Place heavy-bottomed Dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Add the butter to melt.  Add the onions, cooking and stirring until they begin to soften.  Add the ground ham and stir in with the onions, breaking up the meat.  Add the cabbage and brown sugar.  Stir together until cabbage begins to wilt.

Turn heat down to medium-low and cover tightly.  Cook covered, stirring occasionally, until cabbage is soft, about 20 minutes.  There shouldn’t be much liquid, but if there is, remove cover, turn up heat to medium high, and cook and stir until most of the liquid has evaporated.  Check before adding salt because it may be salty enough from the ham.  Add a generous amount of ground pepper.

Serve over rice with your favorite hot sauce on the side.


Ann’s homemade granola bars

June 1, 2015

granola bar

My version of granola bars is suited to my particular tastes. I like them chewy and moist, but with a variety of textures. I’m not averse to letting them put a toe or two over the line towards candy bar. I will admit that the last time I made these I used Cocoa Pebbles for the cereal component. I will admit to fantasizing about using Golden Grahams. I’m not a purist.

I was able to find brown rice syrup in the syrup section of my regular grocery store.

1 1/2 cups (150g) old-fashioned rolled oats
1/4 cup (45g) sesame seeds, toasted
1/2 cup (60g) whole almonds, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup (75g) pecan halves, coarsely chopped
1 cup crispy rice cereal, flavored or plain
1 cup (125g) pitted and diced dates
1/3 cup (50g) dark chocolate, chopped into chunks or use chips
1/3 cup (35g) dried fruits like cranberries, raisins, blueberries, apricots, or cherries (choose one or make a combo)
1/2 cup brown rice syrup
1/4 cup (65g) smooth natural peanut butter
1/4 cup (80g) honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 – 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350F.

Line the bottom of an 8-inch (20cm) square pan with an 8×15-inch rectangle of parchment paper, making sure the ends hang over the edge.

Spread the oats, sesame seeds and nuts on a baking sheet and toast for 8-10 minutes, stirring once or twice while baking, until they are slightly browned. Let cool and scrape into a large bowl.

Add the rice cereal, dates, chocolate and dried fruit to the bowl. Stil to combine.

Warm the rice syrup, peanut butter and honey for 10-15 seconds in the microwave or in a small saucepan over medium heat. It should be warm enough to be pourable but not so hot that it will melt the chocolate. Mix in the vanilla extract, salt and cinnamon. Pour the liquid over the ingredients in the bowl and stir until everything is completely coated and starts to stick together in clumps. A silicone spatula or wooden spoon works well. Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan. Use wet or lightly oiled hands to firmly press the mixture into the pan. I also like to use the oiled bottom of a heavy glass or a meat pounder so I’m able to exert a lot of pressure. You want to really pack it in so that the bars will stay together.

Using a bench knife, cut down through the mixture to make rectangles. Freeze the granola bars for 30 minutes. Remove the pan from the freezer and run a knife around the edge to help release it from the pan. Using the ends of the parchment paper, transfer the bars out of the pan to a cutting board. Use the bench knife to recut into rectangles and wrap each bar in plastic wrap or waxed paper. Store in a airtight container.

Makes 8-12 bars.

Lickety-split pressure-cooker greens

November 6, 2014

Last night I arrived home from work with 2 thick-cut pork chops and some new potatoes.  I couldn’t think of anything better to go with them than some slow-cooked greens.   When there’s no time for slow-cookin’, greens can be ready in about 15 minutes, start to finish, using a pressure cooker.  Better yet, they’ll taste like they’ve been simmering all afternoon.

Lickety-split pressure-cooker greens

1/4 pound diced bacon

1 small red onion, sliced

1 garlic clove, sliced

1 lb. curly kale leaves, roughly chopped but still in large pieces

1 cup water or low-salt chicken broth

1/2 tsp. kosher salt

red-pepper vinegar or some hot sauce

Cook the bacon over medium-high heat in the cooker until limp.  Add the red onion and cook, stirring frequently, until bacon is beginning to brown.  Add garlic and cook for about 30 seconds.  Add greens, broth, and salt.  Stir to combine everything.

Secure cover to pressure cooker and bring to high-pressure over high heat.  Turn to low heat after it reaches pressure.  Cook for 5 minutes.  Quick-release pressure according to the instructions of your pressure cooker.  I run cold water over the lid.

Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Shake on red-pepper vinegar or hot sauce to taste.

Serves 4