Easy Biscuits

Biscuits are a wonderful accompaniment to any meal with soup, stew, or most anything else when it is a bit chilly outside. This recipe is easy and can be made with or without a mixer or Cuisineart.
Biscuits
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (160C)

1 1/2 cup white flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons powder
2 teaspoons salt
1/3-1/2 cup butter cut into like 1/4″ cubes (I just cut off little bits of hard butter into the flour)
3/4 cup buttermilk (pour 3/4 cup milk and add 2 tablespoons vinegar and let it sit while you prep the other ingredients)

Sift all the dry ingredients together, or mix them together well if you don’t have a flour sifter.

If you have a mixer or cuisinart, mix the butter in with the dry ingredients until mealy. If you don’t have a machine, then blend it together with your fingers, mushing the butter bits into the flour mixture. I do this in Peru and it’s kinda fun.

Add the buttermilk into the dry ingredients and mix well. Add a little more flour if it is too wet or a little more milk if too dry. It needs to hold together in a ball that you can knead lightly.

Knead lightly 30 times.

Press it into a flat rough circle about 1/2 -2/3 inch thick.

Use a cookie cutter or drinking glass (about 2″ in diameter) to cut it into circles and place on an uncreased baking pan. It will make about 10 biscuits, depending on the size of your glass.

Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes then check. Leave in the oven until the biscuits are brown on top.

Enjoy

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MARIJUANA BROWNIES

This is an effective way to make marijuana edibles from your legal marijuana. The one problem with this recipe is that the brownies are delicious. You will eat one and want another. Don’t do it. Instead, make exactly this same recipe but substitute regular butter for the cannabutter and you can eat the unlaced ones to your heart’s content.
Marijuana brownies

1/2 cup of marijuana butter melted but not hot.
1 cup white sugar
1/3 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup of all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
2 eggs
Blend together the sugar, cocoa powder, flour, salt, and baking powder in a medium mixing bowl.

In a small mixing bowl whisk together the eggs, vanilla, and butter.

Stir the butter mixture into the flour mixture and blend well.

(Caveat emptor: Be aware that the mix is already fully loaded with marijuana at this point, and if you like to lick the bowl (as I do), the mixers, spatula, your fingers, you will be feeling the effects in 45 minutes to an hour.)

Butter the bottom of an 8X8 baking dish and pour the brownie mix into the dish.

Bake in a 375 Degree (F) oven for about 25 minutes. To check for doneness, poke a toothpick into the mix. If it comes out clean, they are done, if brownie mix sticks to the toothpick, cook it for a few more minutes.

Remove from the oven and set aside to cool for about an hour before cutting into bite sized squares. These brownies will keep in the freezer for several months with no negative impact on the potency. If you are going to store them, I recommend wrapping the individual pieces in Saran wrap and then putting them all in a freezer ziplock bag.

Inedible Persimmon Jam

OK, sometimes, you have to admit that a recipe fails magnificently. This is one of those. We were in southern Italy and there were baskets of beautiful fresh picked persimmons. Now, I LOVE persimmons. I put them on my kitchen window until they are mushy ripe and then slurp them down. They are not for everyone, but they are one of my favorite foods. So, when I found these baskets of persimmons, I thought it was the perfect time to make Persimmon jam. Never had it been able to find a bunch of persimmons at a reasonable price. So, I snapped them up, took them home and made persimmon jam, though only after eating several, which were delicious! The jam, however, was a different story. Here is my recipe:

Persimmon Jam
Yield 8 cups of inedible Persimmon Jam

Ingredients:
3 lbs ripe persimmons
7 cups sugar
juice of 2 lemons

1. Wash, peel the persimmons. Take special care to remove all skin, as it is extremely puckery
2. Place the persimmon pulp in a preserving kettle, add sugar and lemon juice and mix well.
3. Bring slowly to a boil over high heat until sugar has dissolved, stirring frequently.
4. Cook slowly over a low heat, until the jam starts to pull away from the sides of the pan.
5. Do NOT taste the jam at this point.
6. Pour jam into ½ pint jars
7. Taste the jam. It will be the most puckery thing you have ever experienced.
8. Throw all of the jam into the compost bin as it is bitter beyond belief and absolutely inedible.
9. Open the nearest jar of strawberry jam, and enjoy.

Italian Caponata

• 1 large eggplant cut into ¾ – 1” dice
• 2 Tablespoons salt
• Olive Oil
• 1 large onion, chopped coarse
• 6 cloves garlic, minced
• 3 stalks celery with leaves, chopped
• 6 plum tomatoes, chopped
• ½ cup red wine
• 3 tablespoon red-wine or white-wine vinegar, or more to taste
• ½ teaspoon hot chile flakes
• Freshly ground pepper to taste
• 3 tablespoon capers, rinsed
• 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
• 15 green olives, quartered

Placed diced eggplant into a colander and sprinkle liberally with salt. Let it sit at least 4 hours or more

Rinse the eggplant in cold water and then dry on paper towels. Squeeze the paper towels to remove liquid, but not to crush eggplant.

Sautee eggplant in 3-4 T of olive oil for about 10 minutes until soft and lightly browned.

Remove eggplant from pan.
Sauté chopped onions in the same pan until lightly browned, adding a little more oil if needed.

Add garlic and sauté another minute or so, Grind in some pepper and add a ½ tsp of chile flakes.

Add ½ cup red wine and red wine vinegar
Add celery, capers, olives and tomatoes and sauté for another 5 minutes or so.
Add the eggplant back into the pan, stir well and cook down until it get to a somewhat thick consistency.
Add the basic and cook another minute or so.
Season with salt if needed.

This can be served warm or cold, served on crackers, bread or pasta.

caponata

Irish Boxty – potato pancake

Boxty on the griddle, boxty on the pan; if you can’t make boxty, you’ll never get a man or a woman with a PhD in anthropology, in my case.

1 ½ cup mashed potatoes
1 ½ cup raw grated potatoes
¾ cup white flour
1 egg beaten
¼ c milk
2 chopped green onions
½ cup grated sharp cheddar or similar cheese
salt and pepper to taste
½ c olive oil

Grate the potatoes and then rinse several times in plenty of cold water. This removes the surface starch and keeps them from getting soggy as they cook. Dry them with paper towels.

Mix together the mashed and grated potatoes
Add egg, flour, onions, cheese, salt, and pepper.
Mix well. It will be sticky, but hold together in a loose patty
Make into patties about 3 inches in diameter
Heat olive oil just to where it smokes.
Add patties one at a time. Don’t crowd them, but cook in batches. Replenish the oil as needed.
Cook on each side until well-browned. Remove an place on paper towels.

Great as a side dish or in place of hash browns for breakfast.

Napolitano fish: Pesce all’acqua Pazza, Fish in Crazy water

This is an easy-to-make, typical fish dish from southern Italy, around Naples.

2 fish filets of any kind of white fish, snapper, halibut, seabass, bream, etc. Total cleaned weight about ½ pound (250 grams).
3 or 4 cloves of garlic chopped fine
1 cup cherry tomatoes cut in half
Big handful of fresh basil leaves
¾ cup white wine
½ cup water (more as needed)
Pinch of hot pepper flakes (not too much)
1-2 TBS capers (salted capers if you can find them)
½ cup of your favorite olives, sliced

Sauté the chopped garlic in olive oil for no more than about a minute
Add basil and tomatoes, sauté for another minute
Layer the fish filets into the pan and add wine and water. The liquid should not quite cover the fish.
Poach the fish for about 5 minutes.
Gently turn over the filets and poach for another 5 minutes.
Remove the fish from the sauce and place on a plate
Bring the sauce to a boil and reduce to a syrup.
Spoon the sauce over the fish and serve with rice.
Taste for salt (if you used salted capers, it won’t need any).
Fish in crazy water

Handmade Italian Pesto

Since I’m still in Italy, what I make is “Italian” by definition. That being said, this is a pretty traditional Italian recipe with a minor variation. Usually, pesto is made with pine nuts (piñole); however this is not actually critical to a successful pesto. Pine nuts can be very expensive and there are many good substitutes. In this recipe, I use toasted almonds. You can also use pecans, walnuts, or hazelnuts very successfully. Whichever nut I use (including pine nuts), I like to have them toasted a bit to give a bit of extra richness to the sauce.

This sauce is made by chopping the ingredients. They say that using a mortar is central to a “traditional” pesto, but that is just not true in Italy. They grind, chop, and whiz with a blender. All are acceptable. Chopping the ingredients leaves them a bit coarser and the individual ingredients come through more distinctly. Plus, it works just fine if you do not have a mortar or blender.

A big handful of very fresh basil leaves, washed and dried
3 cloves of garlic (more to taste), peeled and mashed a bit
a big handful of toasted almonds
a cup of grated parmesan
2 TBS fresh lemon juice
½ – 1 Cup good quality EV Italian Olive Oil
1 TSP salt

Put the basil leaves, garlic, almonds on a chopping board and chop, chop, chop them all together with a large, sharp chef’s knife. The knife needs to be sharp in order to cut and not bruise the basil. It will take at least 10 minutes, and preferable more if you can manage, of chopping to get a very fine mix of basil, nuts and garlic.
Put the chopped mixture into a bowl and add lemon juice and salt. Feel free to adjust both to your taste.
Stir in the grated Parmesan.
Add olive oil a few tablespoons at a time and stir. This part is not an exact science. It is done when it looks done to you. I like it a little syrupy, but others will like it a bit drier.
This pesto can be stirred into plain cooked pasta, or a mix of pasta and sautéed sliced chicken breast pieces. It can also be eaten with a spoon (in deference to my daughter, Lyra) or on crackers.

SEEDLESS BLACKBERRY JAM

Seedless Blackberry Jam

Himalayan Blackberries are an invasive, menacing plant.   They grow in all moderately damp environments across North America and Europe, invading open fields with their fierce thorns. The only upside is that in late summer, they yield a wonderful crop of juicy, flavorful, very seedy blackberries. I use them to make jam, and I remove the seeds, to make seedless jam, which is much easier to spread on toast in the morning.

4 cups fresh picked blackberries
3 cups sugar

Put blackberries in a suitable heavy duty pan
Add sugar

Put on moderately high heat to start
Stir frequently to mix the sugar with the blackberries until all the sugar is dissolved and the mixture starts to boil.
Turn down the heat to medium and allow to simmer.
Every five minutes or so, stir the mixture.
When it starts to thicken, stir it more frequently
When you can run a spoon through it and you can see the bottom of the pan, it’s done.

Remove from the pan and pour the mixture into a fine sieve.

Slowly, spoon through the mixture, rubbing it against the sieve to press the liquid through and leave the seeds behind. This can take a while and the more you stir and press the more jam you get, until it’s not worth it to you any move – a very subjective assessment. You should get about 2 cups of seedless jam. Let cool and slather on toast.
I put my jam into any available empty jars. I wash and them thoroughly, but do not sterilize them, as the molten jam tends to do that. I put it in the refrigerator where it will last at least a month.Blackberry jam

Peruvian Causa

This is a nice recipe for a party as it can be made well ahead of time. It is a common dish in Peru, which of course is the birthplace of the domesticated potato.

Ingredients

3 lbs potatoes. I use Yukon Gold or a Papa Amarilla in Peru.

1 Tablespoon of paprika or 4 Tablespoons of aji Amarillo paste if you have it.

1 lb poached fish fillets (see below)

1 cup peas (fresh [poached] or canned)

1 cup diced carrots poached.

4 ounces butter

7 oz (210 g) canned (evaporated) milk

½ cup plus 2 Tbs mayonnaise

12 olives cut in half (traditionally these should be purple Peruvian olives, but any variety will do)

Salt to taste

Fish preparation

You can use almost any variety of fish, including canned tuna. I use either salmon or lenguado, depending on where I am.

Prepare a broth with 2 cups water, one cup white wine, 6 cloves of garlic (cut in half), 1 tablespoon thyme or marjoram (or almost any other herb).

Simmer these ingredients for at least 15 minutes.

Strain out solids, saving the broth.

Place fish fillets in a single layer in the bottom of a frying pan.

Pour strained broth over the fillets until just covered.

Poach gently for about 10 minutes, until the fish is just done. Remove from the heat and let sit in broth for a few minutes.

Fixing the causa.

You will need a deep 9 X 12 baking dish. Glass is best, but not required.

Peel the potatoes and cut into 1-2 inch cubes.

Bring 2 qts (more or less) of salted water to a boil and add the potatoes. Cook until just done, about 10 minutes.

Strain the potatoes and return to a large mixing bowl. Add butter, canned milk, paprika (or aji amarillo) and salt to taste. Mash the potatoes until there are no lumpy pieces. Set aside to cool.

Remove the skin from the fish fillets and shred the fish. Add ½ cup mayonnaise and mix well.

Spread the fish mixture evenly in the bottom of the baking dish (there is no need to oil the pan)

Put a layer of mashed potatoes on top of the fish. I do this by making a series of potato patties and laying them gently over the fish, filling in the holes with bits and pieces.

Mix the cooked peas and carrots together and spread them on top of the layer of potato.

Lay down the last layer of mashed potatoes, again filling in all the holes and covering exposed peas and carrots.

Score the surface into 24 squares, then, using a thin sharp knife, cut the causa into the 24 pieces (don’t remove it from the baking dish!)

In the middle of each square, put a half-teaspoon of mayonnaise and then an olive half.

Chill the causa for at least an hour until well set.

Use a spatula to serve the individual squares. You will mess up the first one, so keep that for yourself.

Causa Dingle

 

CRISPY SEEDY NORWEGIAN CRACKERS

When we were in Norway, we went crackers over their crackers. Seedy, crisp, rich in flavor. You can serve them alone or with cream cheese, jam, or butter. They provide a base for cheese, lox, hummus, salami, or whatever else you want to put on top of them. Leaving Norway meant leaving the crackers and while we had to do the former, we were reluctant to give up the latter. So I compiled a recipe from multiple sources and have tried it out a bunch. Here is my best effort:

(This is a flexible recipe and “M” in this case is “measure”. It can be a cup, a coffee cup, a soup can, whatever you have on hand. Just be consistent from one ingredient to the next.)

1M Sesame seeds

1M Pepitas (pumpkin) seeds

1M flax seeds

1M poppy seeds

½ M good olive oil

3 ½ M flour (I use 2M rye, 1 M whole wheat, and ½ M white, but other combinations of grainy flours work as well)

2M water

2 tsp baking powder

2 tsp salt

Directions

– Preheat oven to 400 °F or 200 °C

– Lightly oil a large baking sheet.

– Mix all of the seeds together with the flours, baking powder and salt.  Sprinkle the oil on top and mix it in well.

– Add all of the water and and combine well together. If it’s a little too dry, add a couple more TBS water, and if too wet, add a bit more flour. It will be damper than bread flour.

– Take approximately 1/4 of the dough and place on a piece of parchment paper. Top it with another piece of parchment paper in the same size. I have also used plastic wrap or aluminum foil in place of parchment paper, which can be hard to find.

Use a rolling pin or wine bottle to spread out the dough in between the layers of paper, and roll it as thin as you can without crushing the pumpkin seeds.

– Remove the top layer of parchment and using a knife score the top of the dough into squares. It doesn’t have to be neat and tidy, as the irregular side bits brown up a little more and are very tasty alone.

– Peel off the top layer if paper.

– With the bottom paper in place, flip the rolled dough onto the baking sheet. (If you use real, American parchment paper, you can leave the dough on the paper and bake it on the paper.)

-Set the time for 15 minutes and then check. I have found that the cooking time varies a lot depending on the oven and how thin the dough is rolled. Cook until brown around the edges and firm in the middle.

– When the crisp breads are done, remove from oven and slide off the baking sheet. Break them along score lines. Don’t burn your fingers eating them right away.

– Repeat until all the dough is used up.

Norwegian crackers2