Monday, October 5, 2015

Pumpkin Beer Bread

Pumpkin Beer Bread
It’s that time of year again, Pumpkin Season! The pumpkin spice frenzy has begun, for yet another year. You can find it everywhere! My love for pumpkin has nothing to do with fads! I have always loved pumpkin! I think it all began in my childhood, when my grandmother would cook down pumpkins that my grandfather had grown. She would then mix the pumpkin with cracked wheat, eggs and spices, and fry up these remarkably wonderful pumpkin kibbeh patties. I remember standing by her stove waiting for them to be ready! Nirvana!

I made mine in a 13 X 5 loaf pan
Pumpkin, incorporated into baked goods, is another favorite way to use this seasonal vegetable! I just love the flavor that pumpkin lends to scones, muffins, cookies, and of course bread. That said, you will absolutely love this delicious Pumpkin Beer Bread I'm sharing today!  Pumpkin breads are always a crowd pleaser with my family! This bread is perfect as part of a breakfast, brunch, or simply as a snack! Honestly, I think you’ll enjoy this one anytime of day!

Beer breads are easy to prepare, with simple ingredients. Many consist of flour, beer, and sugar. However, many mass produced beers have the yeast filtered out. That means you need to add a leavening agent.  Without adding baking soda and/or baking powder, your loaf will be dense and heavy. Many recipes call for self-rising flour, which has a leavening agent already included.
I like using flavored beers in my breads. But, I also change up the kind of beer I use. Sometimes I use dark beer, or a stout giving me a darker, more flavorful bread. For this bread I chose to use Pumpkin Ale. The bread is full of flavor and wonderfully moist!

It’s a perfect seasonal bread to slather up with butter and enjoy! Moist and slightly sweet! You know, I’ll be enjoying mine with my cup of tea!!

I used Sam Adams Pumpkin Ale
Ready for the oven
A big hit with my family
A delectable Autumn treat
Bon Appétit

Pumpkin Beer Bread
by bakeawaywithme


3 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon cloves
¼ teaspoon ginger
½ cup sugar
1 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie mix)
1 12 oz bottle of beer (I used Sam Adams pumpkin ale)
4 tablespoons melted butter


Preheat oven to 375°.  Grease a 9x5 inch bread pan with cooking spray, or line with parchment paper.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, and spices together in a bowl.  Add the pumpkin and beer to the dry ingredients and stir until combined and smooth.  Pour the batter into the loaf pan, and then pour the melted butter over the top.

Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Zucchini Ricotta Tart

Zucchini Ricotta Tart
Are you ready for yet another vegetable tart? This Zucchini Ricotta Tart is absolutely luscious, easily put together, and makes a lovely presentation!   

Lucky me! This year my garden has been producing an abundance of zucchini. Funny how that happens! Last year my zucchini plants picked up some kind of blight. I don’t think they even produced two zucchinis the whole season. This year is quite a different story. I’ve been getting loads of gorgeous zucchini each week, giving away as many as I can to friends and family! I’ve also made countless loaves of zucchini bread, zucchini pancakes, grilled zucchini, and a delicious zucchini tomato salad.
So, when my friend asked me to bring some type of quiche or tart to a brunch she was hosting, this one popped right into my head! Another way to use some of those zucchini! I’ve made this tart several times to rave reviews, and recipe requests. It’s a recipe I first saw while watching the “Chew". It’s great for a quick lunch, brunch dish, or light dinner!

A winner all around! 
The tart has a layer of tomato jam spread over the baked shell, which adds a wonderful depth of flavor. Since I also had an abundance of tomatoes in my garden...I made a few batches of tomato jam.  It seems the stars aligned! The jam worked perfectly with this tart!  The subtle flavor of the rosemary in the olive oil crust is quite nice. The ricotta filling, and thinly sliced zucchini layered on top, makes this tart irresistibly mouthwatering.
Tarts always make such a nice presentation at the table, and are relatively easy to put together. The crust can be made and baked, the day before you plan to serve it. Quiches and tarts always seem to be a “go to” when I entertain. I made this one with the olive oil crust.  However, if you’re pressed for time, you could just buy a pre-made piecrust! How easy is that? 

Honestly, this tart was a winner!  Even Bill ate it!  Happy Wednesday, everyone!
Tomato jam adds such a nice depth of flavor 
A perfect addition to our brunch table
Wonderfully delicious!

Zucchini Ricotta Tart
adapted from Daphne Oz the Chew


1 cup Whole wheat flour
1 cup AP flour
1 teaspoon finely chopped rosemary
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
5 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 cup cold water 

1/2 cup Tomato Jam
2 cups Ricotta
1 Egg
1/4 cup Parmigiano Reggiano (freshly grated - plus more from garnish)
1/4 cup Fresh Basil leaves-torn
3 tablespoons Chives (chopped)
2 Zucchini

For the Olive Oil Tart Crust:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
In a large bowl combine flour, salt. Add oil, mix together with a fork. Add water and mix until absorbed; knead lightly.
Turn dough on to a lightly floured work surface. Roll out into a flat rectangle large enough to cover the tart pan. Place on a greased sheet pan. Rest for 30 minutes.
Bake for 20-25 minutes at 400 degrees. Remove from oven and allow to cool on a rack.

For the Filling:
Preheat oven to 350F.
Brush the bottom of the tart shell with the tomato jam.
In a medium bowl, mix together the ricotta, egg, parmigiano, basil and chives. Spoon into the baked tart shell.
Using a peeler or mandolin (confidence permitting) shave the zucchini lengthwise into long strips.  Sprinkle strips with a little salt and place them in a strainer for 10 minutes to allow excess water to drain. Pat strips dry with paper towel, and lay them over the top of the filling.
Garnish the tart with parmigiano, then transfer to oven, and bake for 20 minutes or until golden. Allow to cool slightly before serving.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Apricot and Pistachio Ricotta Cake

Apricot and Pistachio Ricotta Cake

Clotilde Dusoulier, of Chocolate and Zucchini, has been one of my favorite food bloggers for years. She has shared some marvelous recipes that have become standards in my home. She has also written two delightful cookbooks. This recipe for Apricot and Pistachio Ricotta Cake is one of my family’s favorites, and is from her first cookbook, “Chocolate and Zucchini”.  Definitely my kind of cake! Moist, slightly sweet, with a moderate dense crumb…and delectable! This is the kind of cake I enjoy anytime of the day, perfect for an afternoon snack, or as a simple dessert with a side of ice cream. It is also my kind of breakfast, served with a cup of tea; it can’t get any better than that.

This was a perfect choice for afternoon tea, on my deck, with friends

I grew up in the country, where my grandfather had a peach orchard.  He also had quince, cherry, apple, and apricot trees. When these fruits came in, my mother and grandmother would spend days canning, making jam and (my personal favorite) making pies, cobblers and cakes.  This cake reminds me of one my mom used to bake. It’s a perfect way to use up that summer fruit, and is quite elegant looking.  I have tried this cake using both apricots and peaches…either way it is superb! And don’t forget to add a scoop of ice cream on the side. Incredible! Happy baking!

Moist, dense crumb
Tea anyone?

 Apricot and Pistachio Ricotta Cake
  •  Prep Time: 20 mins
  • Total Time: 1 hr 20 mins
  • Servings: 8
Recipe by Clotilde Dusoulier, from her book Chocolate & Zucchini


    • 1/2 cup butter
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 3 eggs
    • 1 cup ricotta cheese
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 2 teaspoons baking powder
    • 1 tablespoon orange zest
    • 2/3 cup pistachios
    • 12 apricots


  1. Preheat the oven to 350F and grease a 10-inch springform pan with the pat of butter.
  2. In a food processor (or in a large mixing bowl if you choose to do this by hand), combine the remaining butter and the 1 cup sugar and process until creamy. Add the eggs one by one, the ricotta, and the vanilla extract and mix between each addition.
  3. In a medium mixing bowl, sift together the flour, salt, and baking powder. Add the flour mixture and orange zest to the egg mixture. Mix until just combined; the batter will be thick. Fold in half of the pistachios (reserve the other half for topping) and pour the batter into the prepared pan, levelling the surface with a spatula.
  4. Arrange the apricots skin side down over the batter in a regular pattern. It's ok to crowd them a little; they will shrink as they bake. Sprinkle with the remaining tablespoon of sugar and the remaining pistachios.
  5. Bake for 1 hour, until a knife inserted in the centre comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a cooling rack and let rest for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the pan to loosen the cake, unclasp the sides of the pan, and let cool completely before serving. The cake tastes best fresh out of the oven, but it will keep for 2 days at room temperature, wrapped tightly in foil.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Berry and Peach Tiramisu

Berry and Peach Tiramisu

Long before there was French Fridays, there was my dinner club! It was my introduction into cooking outside my comfort zone. Our group has been getting together for over 25 years. Our kids were still in high school when we began this gourmet dinner challenge. We started out by rotating hosts, and they would pick the menu. We traveled all over the world with this group. Experimenting with German cuisine for our Oktoberfest, and impressing ourselves with our accomplishment of a perfect French dinner.  We also delved into Italian, Russian, Lebanese, Dutch, Chinese, Irish, and good old American cuisine.
We even hosted a few murder mystery dinners!  Way back then, we would pick desserts that were complicated, and sometimes took hours to prepare, and then found that some of the best and most delicious desserts, were the easiest to prepare. 
After some 25 years, we have gotten away from all the structure, and now just want to enjoy an evening with good friends.

Mouthwatering, creamy and topped with seasonal berries and fruit

A few weeks ago, one of my friends decided to host a brunch instead of dinner. Since it’s summer, our time is a lot less restrictive, and we thought it would be fun to enjoy an afternoon together. The hostess chose a lovely menu, starting out with a luscious fruit salad and Classic Mimosas. We then enjoyed a delicious French Toast Casserole, a Mexican Frittata, sausage, and my contribution, a Zucchini Tart (I will be posting the recipe soon).  It was a lovely Brunch with wonderful friends. We discussed the issues of the day, the books we were reading, our children, and our grandchildren. Then the hostess took out dessert! It was this very delectable Berry Tiramisu. Not only delicious, but easy to put together! I enjoyed this dessert so much, I made it for a lunch I was hosting for some friends. My only change was mixing some sweet Jersey peaches in with the berries. This lovely tiramisu can sit in the fridge for up to two days, which makes it a perfect choice for do-ahead prep. Enjoy!

Once you layer the Tiramisu….refrigerate it for at least 2 hours, or up to two days
A great dessert, for an evening with good friends

Berry-Peach Tiramisu
adapted from Rachel Raye


1½ cups brewed coffee
2 tablespoons sambuca
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 pound container mascarpone cheese
¼ cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
Ladyfinger cookies
Cocoa powder
1½ cups mixed berries
¾ cup sliced peaches 

In a shallow bowl, whisk together 1 1/2 cups brewed coffee, 2 tablespoons sambuca and 1 tablespoon granulated sugar until the sugar is dissolved. In a separate bowl, whisk together one 1-pound container mascarpone cheese, 1/4 cup heavy cream and 2 tablespoons confectioners sugar. Using enough ladyfinger cookies to cover the bottom of an 8-inch square baking dish, dip the ladyfingers in the coffee mixture and arrange in an even layer at the bottom of the pan. Spread half of the mascarpone mixture on top. Repeat the two layers. Sprinkle with cocoa powder and 2 cups mixed berries. Refrigerate the tiramisu for at least 2 hours and up to 2 days.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

TWD ~ Baking Chez Moi Cherry Crumb Tart

Tuesdays with Dorie ~ Baking Chez Moi Cherry Crumb Tart

I can’t believe it’s August already. My Georgia grandchildren are starting school tomorrow. And it’s time for Tuesdays With DorieAugust edition. Honestly, when I saw this Cherry Crumb Tart was the pick of the month, I was thrilled. Not only do I love cherries…but I also love tarts! A for me!  
Dorie tells us this tart was inspired by the Streusel-topped creations of Alsace, where she and Michael were visiting. It is the region to the east that borders Germany. 

Delectable Cherry Crumb Tart
Dories’ tart crust is delicious, and easy to put together in a food processor. For some reason, it gave me a little trouble this time. It was just a bit too soft. Maybe the very warm weather had something to do with that. I decided to press it into the tart pan, rather than roll it. I then put it into the freezer for an hour. Perfection!

Ready for the streusel…so pretty

The tart pan then gets popped into the oven, to partially bake the shell. Once slightly cooled, the tart gets filled with a layer of almond cream, and topped with the fresh cherries. This recipe calls for a pound of fresh cherries, pitted. Lucky me…I have a cherry pitter. Dorie suggests using a chopstick to pit the cherries, if you don’t have one. A great idea!

Now it gets popped into the oven and baked for about 45 minutes. At this point, you pull it out and layer it with the streusel topping. Back into the oven for another half hour, with the most wonderful aroma permeating my kitchen! The verdict on this delectable tart, a two thumbs up, from both my hubby and me! 

Buttery-melt in your mouth...Cherry Crumb Tart
A two thumbs up for this one
Look at all those cherries….yum!

This post participates with Tuesdays with Dorie. The recipe can be found in Dories’ new cookbook “Baking Chez Moi”. However, since this Tart recipe has been shared on-line, I’m sharing it here with you. Hope you’ll  give it a try…better yet buy the book, Baking Chez Moi. It is filled with the most wonderful desserts! Then you could join us, and bake along on Tuesdays With Dorie


Cherry Crumb Tart

Adapted slightly from Baking Chez Moi
For the streusel
1/3 cup sugar
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
For the filling
3/4 cup almond flour
1 teaspoon cornstarch
6 tablespoons butter
1 large egg yolk, room temperature
1 tablespoon kirsch or 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract or 1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
1 pound pitted cherries
1  tart crust for 9-inch tart, rolled and stored in the refrigerator
To make the streusel, whisk together the sugar, flour and salt in a medium bowl.  Using your fingers or a pastry blender, work in the butter until you have big coarse crumbs.  Drizzle the vanilla and stir until distributed. Stash in the refrigerator.
To make the filling, pour the almond flour and cornstarch into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Add the butter and mix until combined and crumbly.  Add the egg yolk and kirsch/vanilla/almond extract, and process until smooth.  Chill in the refrigerator for about an hour.
When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Scoop the almond filling into the tart shell and spread to the edges using the back of a spoon.  Add the cherries and gently press into the filling. Bake in the center of the oven for about 45 minutes until the filling has puffed somewhat.  Remove from the oven and sprinkle the streusel topping, pinching them into clumps for crumbliness.  Bake another 30 – 35 minutes until golden brown.  Cool and serve.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

TWD ~ Baking Chez Moi Mango Panna Cotta

TWD ~ BCM Mango Panna Cotta

It’s time for Tuesdays with Dorie, Baking Chez Moi. I was so excited with this weeks pick! I adore Panna Cotta! I’ve made it several times in the past although, it’s been awhile!

Last summer, while visiting Italy, I succumbed to the creamy, luscious texture of Panna Cotta much more than I should have. While my grandkids were eating their fill of Gelato, I was enjoying this magnificent, vanilla flavored, velvety dessert. I am a pudding kind of girl anyway. Rice pudding, custard pudding, chocolate pudding, Creme Brulee, tapioca or Pots de Creme. You name it, I love it! I think you get the picture! 

Dories Panna Cotta was absolutely luscious…I loved the contrast of flavors between the vanilla cream and mango

While in the picturesque Tuscan countryside, we visited a family owned and operated farm called, Fattoria Poggio Alloro. We made pasta, we toured the winery, and we sat on a patio, covered with beautiful floral vines to eat lunch. The patio had the most spectacular views of San Gimignano. We were served a magnificent lunch, including fresh tomato bruschetta, and our choice of several pasta entrees.  Our table had several bottles of family made white and red wines. I remember the food being amazing. What stands out in my mind most, besides the beautiful country side views, was the dessert! I was served an incredibly smooth, light and silky Panna Cotta, covered with berry compote. Panna Cottas can be flavored with a variety of different ingredients; the richness comes from the cream that makes up the base for this dessert. 

The view with San Gimignano in the distance
Our table with the stunning view
My Panna Cotta from Fattoria Poggio Alloro

Dorie’s recipe was quick and easy. First taking a sliced up mango, placing it into a blender and blending till smooth. I added a touch of honey, and a bit of limejuice.  Spoon this mixture into the glasses you will be using to serve your dessert, then place into the freezer for approximately 20 minutes.  While you wait, it’s time to make the Panna Cotta. Heat the cream, milk, sugar, and vanilla bean to a boil, let the flavors meld for about 20 minutes. Once it's rested, add water to the gelatin, and let bloom.  Microwave the gelatin mixture for 20 seconds to liquefy. Bring the cream mixture back to a boil, add to the gelatin, stir and let cool. Now top the mango filled glasses with the cream. Refrigerate at least two hours until chilled before serving.

 So good and yet so easy

Rich and succulent….A perfect summer time dessert!  Happy Tuesday everyone!
This recipe can be found in Dorie’s new cookbook Baking Chez Moi. We don’t share the recipes  unless they have been previously published. If you would like to see what the other bakers thought of this one, check it out here. There are many Panna Cotta recipes on-line, this one at the The Splendid Table is pretty similar. 

CCC ~ Marinated Cucumbers, Couscous Salad with Herbs & Walnuts, and New Potato, Green Beans & Olive Salad

New Potato, Green Bean and Olive Salad...

Welcome to another month of fun and adventures in the kitchen! July is here, and that means it’s time for this months edition of the Cottage Cooking Club. This group, led by Andrea of the wonderful Kitchen Lioness blog, is cooking through River Cottage Veg by Hugh Fernley-Whittingstall. The book is divided into seasonal sections, and Andrea provides a list of recipes from each section of the book. Then we, the members, get to decide which of these recipes we’d like to prepare. And if you’re especially energetic, you might choose all of them. For me it’s usually two or three! 

What I love best, about picking recipes from this book, is that they are considerably healthy, easy, and fit into my everyday busy lifestyle. This month I chose Couscous Salad with Herbs and Walnuts, New Potato, Green Beans and Olive Salad.  Also, because my cucumbers are growing faster then I can keep up with...The Marinated Cucumber with Mint. 
I really enjoyed all three of these dishes but, my favorite was the New Potato, Green Beans and Olive salad! It was a winner all around and, my hubby loved it! What’s not to love? The olives add a nice touch of flavor.  

My favorite of the month….this was a great side dish…full of flavor, and scrumptious! 
The Marinated Cucumbers with Mint was the easiest to prepare, and extremely fresh tasting…I will be making both of these all summer long. 

Marinated Cucumbers with Mint
This was a delightfully fresh salad…with cucumbers just picked from my garden
The Couscous Salad was my least favorite. It just didn’t seem to have as much flavor as I would have liked. That was my fault for not adding all the spices. Bill didn’t enjoy this one at all! My plan is to give it one more try, adjusting the spices and ingredients more to our liking.  

Couscous Salad with Herbs and Walnuts

Not my favorite…I played with the spices without trying it the way it was written…so “my bad”. I will make this again, being more true to the recipe. Loved the addition of the toasted walnuts.

Marinated Cucumbers with Mint 
This is really a non-recipe. It was quite refreshing made with just-picked cucumbers from my garden. The cucumbers are young and not waxed, so I didn’t peel them. I halved them lengthwise, scooped out the seeds, and then sliced them kind of thin into half moons. They then get tossed with cider vinegar, olive oil, and a small handful of finely chopped mint. Add a pinch of sugar, salt and pepper and let them rest for 30 minutes. I couldn’t wait the 30 minutes…I ate mine after 10 minutes and they were delicious! 

Couscous Salad with Herbs and Walnuts
Recipe from River Cottage Veg by the author Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
Serves 4

2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
4 to 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 fennel bulb, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
7 oz whole-wheat Israeli couscous
A bunch of flat-leaf parsley
A handful of chives, chopped (optional)
A handful of tarragon, chopped (optional)
3/4 cup of walnuts, lightly toasted and coarsely chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


Put the cumin and fennel seeds in a dry frying pan and toast over medium heat, shaking the pan often, for a few minutes until fragrant. Tip into a mortar and, when cool, grind with the pestle to a powder. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in the frying pan and saute the onion, celery, fennel, and garlic over medium heat for 5 minutes or so, until softened but still with a bit of bite. Remove from the heat and add the ground spices and lemon zest.

Cook the couscous in salted water following the package instructions. Drain well and mix with the onion and spice mixture. Allow to cool.

Stir in the lemon juice, herbs, walnuts, and plenty of salt and pepper. Before serving, add more oil to lubricate the couscous to your taste – you might want a little more lemon juice, too.

New Potato, Green Beans and Olive Salad
Recipe from River Cottage Veg by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall 

1 pound/ 500g small new potatoes
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
7 ounces/ 200g green beans, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-inch / 4cm lengths
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, thinly slivered
2 ounces/ 60g pitted black olives, very coarsely chopped
A good handful of basil, shredded
A generous squeeze of 
lemon juice

Cut the potatoes into 2 or 3 pieces each. Put them in a saucepan, 
cover with water, add salt, and bring to a boil, then lower the heat. Simmer for about 8 minutes, until tender, adding the beans for the 
last 2 or 3 minutes. Drain well and return to the hot pan.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a small frying pan over low heat. Add the garlic and cook very gently for a couple of minutes, without letting it color. Add the chopped olives and cook for a minute more. Remove from the heat.

Tip the oil, garlic, and olives into the pan with the potatoes and beans. Add the basil, a generous squeeze or two of lemon juice, and some salt and pepper. Toss together and serve warm.

Potatoes and "deconstructed pesto"
Omit the beans. Heat the garlic in the oil, as above, then toss with the drained potatoes and loads of shredded basil (a good bunch), some lemon juice, and plenty of slivered or finely grated Parmesan, hard goat cheese, or other well-flavored hard cheese.