Wednesday, September 01, 2021

Fresh Raspberry Bars


It's been awhile since I posted.  I realize it is now September already, and it's 48 F here at the lakehouse and the air is starting to smell like fall.    July and August got past me, which is unusual, but with all this construction going on, I will have to cut myself some slack.    We finally got our kitchen appliances in, and it took a long while until I could bake anything because the backsplash needed to be installed before the vent hood, which needed the countertops in which were backordered, etc.   I couldn't start baking for the construction crew until early August.  Until then, I'd get them some "bakery" which is how they say it up here...when you buy baked goods instead of making them.   Luckily for me, I was able to start baking right when my raspberries were ripe in early August. 

The first thing I made for them was fresh raspberry bars.  These came out great!  We had a ton of raspberries this year, which was wonderful because the thimbleberries were a bust this year.   Not enough water, I guess.   It has barely rained this summer and there has been many forest fires, even one on Isle Royale.   

Fresh Raspberry Bars

3 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 cups sugar, divided
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup shortening
2 large eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 tablespoon cornstarch
4 cups fresh raspberries

Preheat oven to 375F

In a large bowl, combine the flour, 1 cup sugar, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. With your fingers, pinch in the shortening until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in eggs and extract. Press two-thirds of the mixture into a greased 13x9-in. baking dish. In a large bowl, combine cornstarch and remaining sugar; add berries and gently toss. Spoon over crust. Sprinkle with remaining crumb mixture. Bake at 375° for 35-45 minutes or until bubbly and golden brown. Cool on a wire rack. Cut into bars. Store in the refrigerator.

I'll try to catch up on my blogging this week to make up for lost time.   Today, we have the usual 3 carpenters here trimming out  and a couple of electricians so I will have to make more baked goods than usual.   

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Chorizo Hash - Lakehouse Renovation Edition


The lakehouse renovation project started out small, as all renovation projects do.    We had a tiny kitchen that had no dishwasher.    In an effort to find some more space to squeeze a dishwasher in, we are now adding 900 sq ft to the house that includes, among other things, a wood stove, a sauna and a butler's pantry.    This is turning out to be one expensive dishwasher!  Why do dishwashers always get me into trouble?  I can remember one time when I needed to buy a new dishwasher, I ended up trading  in my car and bought a new Explorer AND a dishwasher.   But that is a story for another time...   

This project started in earnest May 18 when the excavator showed up.   By June 3, I had no more indoor kitchen.   I currently do all my cooking on the back deck, where I have a grill and a propane stove I normally use for canning.    We also have a microwave, but right now that is covered up with plastic to spare it from the drywall dust.    The last thing I baked in my junky old electric oven that had one bad burner, an unreadable temperature display, and about 75% of the time was about 50 degrees off was some cookies for my construction crew.   After spending my last 18 months of work from home without seeing my coworkers, it's good to have new people to chat up.   We have the same 3 guys here most every day: Grant, Beau and Brett, who probably know more about my personal life than any office mate I had at Ford,  since they see me in my native habitat all day, every day.   They have literally seen "all my dirty laundry", for example.   Also, when a guy has to empty out your linen closet so he can tear it out, it seems oddly personal.   Or cart your toilet to a dumpster.  On many other days, they are joined by Ted the plumber and Scott and Connor, the electricians.    Usually they roll in before 8 am, when I am headed out to the back porch to scratch up some breakfast.   

Luckily for me, the kindhearted souls at Driftless Provisions sent me some of their wonderful sausage to try out.   Today, I wanted something spicy, and thought to make my famous lakehouse breakfast special, which is a frittata.   It's hard to finish it off without an oven, however.   So I went with hash instead.   


Chorizo Hash

2 oz link Driftless Chorizo  (or any other kind of Spanish chorizo)

1/2 cup diced onion

1 cup diced potato (1/4 inch diced)

1/4 cup water

Salt and pepper

6 eggs, beaten

Slice chorizo in half, lengthwise, and remove casing.   Dice in 1/4 inch pieces.    In a cast iron frying pan, fry until slightly browned.   Add onion and saute until soft, about 5 minutes.  Add potato and water and cover pan and cook until potatoes are tender, about 5 minutes.    Remove cover and stir and cook until pan is dry.   Add eggs and cook while gently stirring until cooked through.

Cooking on the outdoor canning kitchen stove can be a challenge.   It has 2 burners, a  high/low and high/high burner.   Unless I am boiling water, I try to use the high/low burner.   Even so, it's pretty hard to modulate the temp for gentle cooking; there are temperature knobs which adjust the propane but it's pretty much just "on" and "off".  And just like in chemistry class with your Bunsen burner, you need to modify the oxygen intake to make sure it doesn't burn orange.   Lastly, if it's a windy day, it can be tough to keep it lit.     Luckily for me, today's winds were mild.   Breakfast!

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Italian Sub Sheet Bake


One of my biggest concerns about moving up to the lakehouse here in the Keweenaw full time is grocery shopping.   I've been spoiled living in Ann Arbor for 30 years, pretty much you can find whatever food item you want within the 20 minutes it takes to drive anywhere in that town.   There's an old saw that says "Ann Arbor is 24.6 square miles, surrounded by reality" and that is definitely true when it comes to food.     Living up here can be a challenge if you are looking for ingredients to make some things spontaneously.   So it was with great trepidation that I set out to put together this Sheet-Pan Italian Sub Dinner Sam Sifton suggested to me via his "What to Cook This Week" siren song in NYT.  

We have the good fortune of having an excellent food co-op here in the Keweenaw, and I was inspired to run for its Board of Directors as my retirement volunteer gig.   Unlike some co-ops, ours (although small )  carries an impressive selection of food far beyond the typical co-op fare of carob chips and tempeh.   I saw that we were starting to carry some handcrafted salami from Driftless Provisions, a boutique salumeria from Wisconsin, so I thought I'd give it a shot.   

This finnochiona is perfect on it's own for a charcuterie board so I wanted to taste it.    I bought one link of it to try next to a more value priced salami available at the co-op.  Both were great, but I am still having dreams about the Driftless sausage.   So good!   This recipe could even be made with a whatever hard salami you might have available at your typical megamart.    I also added ham to my bake to make it be a bit more substantial than the original.   I could see even adding some mortadella to the pan some day, if  I could ever lay my hands on some here in the Keweenaw.   I only needed a small container of ricotta that the co-op deli clerk helped me get instead of buying and entire container.    

I made a few more tweaks to the original recipe because parts of it needed help, based on the comments in NYT plus my own personal preferences.  For example, if  you make it with the radicchio, plan on using 2 sheet pans or everything will just steam instead of browning.   It was a hit!   The other change I will make next time is to replace the radicchio with a couple handfuls of arugula after baking.   Here's how I did it:

Italian Sub Sheet Bake

4 garlic cloves minced
2 tablespoons dried oregano
 Kosher salt and black pepper
¼ cup red wine vinegar
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 (14-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and patted dry
5 ounces salami (casing removed if there is one), cut into 1/2-inch pieces
8 ounces cooked ham, diced
1 red onion, peeled, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/4 inch 
1 medium head radicchio (about 3/4 pound), sliced  (optional)
1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
8 pepperoncini peppers
½ cup ricotta
 Crusty bread and baby arugula, for serving

Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Coarsely chop the garlic, then add the dried oregano and 2 teaspoons salt on top of the garlic and chop together until it forms a paste. Transfer to a mason jar with a lid,  add vinegar and olive oil, shake.  Pour half the dressing into a large bowl, then add the chickpeas, salami, ham, tomatoes, pepperoncini red onion and radicchio (if using).  Mix gently to coat in the dressing, and spread out on a sheet pan  (or 2, if you are using the radicchio) and bake 30 minutes, stirring halfway through.   Make until onions are slightly browned.    Meanwhile add salt and pepper to ricotta to taste.   

Serve on top of a bed of arugula, drizzled with remaining dressing and a dollop of ricotta and some crusty bread.