Thursday, December 19, 2013

Cranberry Bars

If you’ve been wondering why anyone would need a huge 7-cup batch of Jellied Cranberry Sauce, this is the reason.

You’ve got to have enough cranberry sauce leftover after Thanksgiving to make at least a couple of batches of these bars.

Shortbread base and cranberry filling, topped with clouds of shortbread. They’re delicious, exceedingly easy to make, and perfect for the holidays.

Cranberry Bars
Printable Recipe

12 ounces (3 sticks) cold unsalted butter, diced, plus more for greasing the baking dish
15 ounces all-purpose flour
3 ounces sugar
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups Jellied Cranberry Sauce

Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Butter a 9×13-inch baking dish and line with parchment paper. Combine the butter, flour, sugar, and salt in a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low for 8 to 9 minutes, or until the dough comes together. Transfer about 2/3 of the dough to the baking dish and press into an even layer. Bake for 22 to 24 minutes, or until lightly browned. Let cool for about 15 minutes.

Spread the cranberry sauce evenly over the crust and then crumble the remaining third of the dough evenly over the cranberry layer. Bake for 30 to 32 minutes, or until golden brown.

Let cool to room temperature. Using the parchment paper, lift the bars out of the pan and transfer them to a cutting board. Cut into portions and serve.

Makes 12 large bars. Bars keep for several days in a tightly sealed container in a cool, dry place.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Flavored Butters for the Holidays

How’s your holiday shopping coming along? Do you need some last-minute gift ideas? Well, people are saying that Flavored Butters would make a great gift. Check out these reader reviews. Get the cook or foodie in your life a copy of the cookbook critics call “wizardry”, “festive and flavorful”, “inspiring”, and “the perfect answer for taking common dishes and kicking them up a notch”.

And how about whipping up some of the recipes in the book and giving them as hostess gifts? A basket containing a log of homemade flavored butter with a pretty butter dish and spreader would be perfect to take to at any holiday get-together.

In the spirit of the season, here’s a new flavored butter based on the Bed & Breakfast Butter recipe in the book.

Enjoy and happy holidays to you and yours!

Cranberry Bed & Breakfast Butter
Printable Recipe

4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
¼ cup Jellied Cranberry Sauce, at room temperature

Blend together the butter and cranberry sauce in a medium bowl. Form into a log and refrigerate until firm before slicing and serving, or use another shaping method described in Flavored Butters.

Makes 8 servings. Serve with muffins, scones, pancakes, waffles, toast, or other breakfast fare.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Food Snobbery and Seasoned Salt

Few prepared items ever make it into my grocery cart. I’m OK with certain brands of store-bought mayo and ketchup and some other basic condiments, but nearly everything else I use is homemade. I make my all of my own sauces, salad dressings, spice rubs, and seasoning blends. Cajun spice, chile rub, curry powder, Chinese five-spice—I make all that stuff from scratch.

Well, nearly all that stuff. There is one store-bought item that I’m almost embarrassed to admit I use. You know the seasoned salt with the big L on the label and the dark orange cap? I love it on burgers and chicken fried steak. But every time I use it I feel sort of guilty.

I know, I know—I’m a food snob. I can’t help myself.

So I finally decided to make a homemade knock-off. It tastes almost exactly like the bottled kind but a little less salty and much less harsh. (Makes me wonder if the stuff in the bottle is made with iodized salt.) The best part is that my version contains zero mystery ingredients.

Now this is a seasoning blend I can feel good about using. So good, in fact, that I used it in the preparation of Thanksgiving dinner. Game hens (remember, I live in a family of turkey haters) stuffed with fresh sage, rosemary, and thyme and seasoned inside and out with my very own homemade Seasoned Salt. It gave the little birds a lovely color and delicious savory flavor…which is nothing to be embarrassed about!

Before I get to the recipe, I’d like to thank Babble for featuring my Beef with Dang Myun in their World Pasta Day recipe roundup.

Seasoned Salt
Printable Recipe

3 tablespoons fine sea salt
2 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons granulated garlic
1 teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
½ teaspoon sugar
¼ teaspoon celery seeds, ground
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Combine all of the ingredients in a spice jar. Cover and shake until well blended.

Makes about 1/3 cup. Keeps for several months tightly sealed in the pantry. Don’t be afraid to use lots, it’s not too salty.
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