Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Dallas Morning News Taste Section 2/5/2014 Italian Jam Tart

It's been awhile since I've written anything from the Taste Section. I simply haven't seen any recipes that I felt were worthy of writing about. Today that changed!
I immediately fell in love with the story and the recipe for an Italian Jam Tart.
The story and the recipe come from Elizabeth Karmel. She went to Italy, took a cooking class and came away with this amazing recipe. It's simple, easy and versatile. It's something that we would make for a family get together, Easter, Christmas, Thanksgiving....... and even a dinner party with friends.
She said "As I learned in Italy, the real secret to this tart is "using the best quality jam that you can find". "I look for jam made with only a bit of sugar and I prefer fig, apricot, cherry, strawberry and raspberry." "The thing I love about switching up the jams is that you can add extracts and seasonings to match your jams. When making a fig jam tart, I add a touch of cardamom to the crust; when I make cherry, I use almond extract instead of orange blossom. You can even make the chocolate crust with the addition of 1/2 cup of cocoa powder."

Italian Jam Tart:

13 TBS (1 stick plus 5 TBS) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 C plus 1 TBS sugar
1/4 tsp orange blossom water or vanilla extract (see above note for variations)
1 1/2 C flour
1/8 tsp sea salt
Generous 1/2 C ( about 6.5 oz.) fig, apricot,cherry or berry jam

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Position an oven rack in the center of oven.

In a large bowl, use an electric mixer with the whisk attachment to beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until the mixture is very light in color, 3 or 4 minutes.
Add the orange water or extract and blend well

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and salt.
Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and mix by hand just until the dough is thoroughly combined, about 30 seconds.
Measure out a scant 1/2 C of the dough and smooth it out on a small plate , then place it in the freezer.

Meanwhile, press the remaining dough evenly into and up the sides of a 9" tart pan with removable bottom. If the dough is too soft to work with, chill it briefly. Refrigerate the tart for 15 minutes.
Once the tart has chilled, spread the jam evenly in it, starting from the center and leaving a border of about 1/2 inch around the edges. The jam should be thinly spread and not resemble a filled pie. Remove
the reserved dough from the freezer and crumble it into small pieces over the jam.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the topping is a beautiful golden brown. Remove from the oven and place on a rack to cool completely.
Remove the tart from the from the sides of the pan and cut into wedges.

Peace in the Kitchen!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Brownies......... Biscoff and Moose Munch!

I'm going to start with Moose Munch Brownies. I discovered this "non recipe" recipe at a Harry and David Store during the Holidays many years ago. Harry and David makes Moose Munch. For those that aren't familiar with Moose Munch, it's a popcorn that's coated with chocolate, either Milk or Dark and it has caramelized nuts and caramel corn mixed in with the chocolate covered popcorn.
They have recipe cards and the brownie recipe  is great.
Buy your favorite box of Brownie Mix and bake it according to the package directions. As soon as you remove the baked brownies from the oven, open a bag of Moose Munch and evenly distribute it over the top of the brownies and gently press it into the brownies. The Moose Munch will begin to melt. Cool completely in the pan. Cut into squares and serve. It's that simple. They're always a hit when we make them. We prefer Ghirardelli Brownie Mix.

I've already posted a story about Biscoff Cookies and Biscoff Spread and posted a couple of recipes.
Here's another great Biscoff recipe.

Chocolate Brownies with Biscoff Balls.

I'm going to give you the shortcut version of the original recipe. The brownies are similar to the Moose Munch Brownies. This time you're going to bake Biscoff Balls in the Brownie Mix. Buy your favorite Brownie Mix and mix the batter according to package directions, do not bake until you make the Biscoff Balls that will be baked into the brownies.
I use Ghirardelli Brownie Mix for this recipe too. Here's the recipe and directions for the Biscoff Balls.

Biscoff Balls:

1/2 C Biscoff Spread
1/2 C minus 1 TBS of Confectioner's Sugar. (Powdered Sugar)

To make the balls:
Sift the sugar into a bowl.
Add the Biscoff Spread an mix well until a soft dough is formed. It should not be sticky.
Form 1" balls and place on a parchment paper lined sheet pan and freeze. Or place them in any container in a single level to freeze.
After the brownie mix is made, pour it into  the appripriate sized pan, according to package directions and evenly distribute the Biscoff Balls in the brownie batter and gently press them in, leaving the top 1/3 of the balls exposed.
Bake as directed.
Remove from the oven and cool completely in the pan .
Refrigerate the brownies for at least and hour and up to two hours before serving.
This makes cutting the brownies easier.

Peace in the Kitchen!

Dark Chocolate Ganache Pie with a Biscoff Cookie Crust from Bakaholic Mama

 A couple of years ago I discovered Biscoff Cookies and then Biscoff Spread. I've created an original bar recipe using it. I'm saving the recipe for a contest before I post it.
I recently saw this recipe and I wanted to share it on the blog. If you haven't tried Biscoff products, I highly recommend them.
At the end I posted  the story of Biscoff  and a recipe that I previously posted on the blog.

Here's the recipe for the Chocolate Pie:

1 1/2 C finely crushed Biscoff Cookies
6 TBS butter, room temperature
2 C dark chocolate chips
1 C heavy cream
1/4 tsp salt
Whipped Cream and Chocolate Shavings for garnish

In  a mixing bowl;
Cookie Crumbs
Press into a 9" Pie Pan
Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes

In a saucepan over medium heat::
Whisk until smooth and completely melted.
Pour into the crust and refrigerate for 2 hours.
Slice and serve topped with whipped cream and chocolate shavings.

Peace in the Kitchen!

Here's an earlier post from my blog:

Biscoff Biscuits, or Cookies as the Americans call them, were created in Belgium in 1932.
They're a crunchy caramelized flavored cookie.

Biscoff Spread is Europe's alternative to America's Peanut Butter.
It is completely Vegan and does not contain nuts of any kind.
It does contain Wheat and Soy.

The Spread was created in Belgium in 2007 by the same company that makes the cookie.
The Spread was created as an entry in a recipe contest for a Belgian Television Station along with 2000 other entries.
It was one of the finalists.
It's available in Creamy and Crunchy.

The Biscuits and the Spread are available in the United States.

Here's the Recipe for Biscoff Truffles:

1/2 C Semi Sweet Chocolate Chops
1/2 C Biscoff Spread
20 Biscoff Biscuits , crushed in a Food Processor and divided ( save 2 TBS aside)
1/2 C Powdered Sugar

Microwave the Chocolate Chips in a glass bowl for up to 1 minute.
Stirring occasionally until completely melted.

Stir in the Biscoff Spread until well combined.

Set aside the 2 TBS of crushed Biscuits and mix the remainder into the Chocolate mixture.
Make sure it's well combined.

Refrigerate the mixture for 10 minutes, stirring after 5 minutes. ( Do not chill the mixture for more than 10 minutes)

Spoon heaping teaspoons of the mixture into mounds on sheets of waxed paper. ( if the mixture seems to be too wet, add some of the 2 TBS of crushed Biscuits that you set aside earlier)

Let these sit at room temperature for at least 20 minutes to air dry.

Place Powdered Sugar in a bowl.

Pick up each mound of the mixture and shape into a ball or roughly shaped truffle.
Place them one at a time in the Sugar using 2 forks to toss them until completely coated.

Place in individual paper or foil candy cups
Store at room temperature.

Makes about 2 dozen Truffles

Peace in the Kitchen!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Cakes and Icing...... tips hints and more from my days as a Cake Decorator!

Many years ago....... OK, back in the 80's, I worked as a Cake Decorator.  I was looking for a part time job and someone talked me into it. I was very successful at it and I enjoyed it. My mentor was a woman named Elizabeth and she was a brilliant cake decorator. I learned everything I could from her. I wanted to succeed and I listened and I learned.

 As we were baking this weekend, my wife and I were having a conversation about icing. She's baking a recipe for a cake by Rebecca Rather (I'll post the cake recipe later) and converting it into cupcakes and small individual cakelettes. We bought a new cakelette pan from Williams Sonoma. The cakelettes will be dusted with Confectioner's Sugar. Rebecca's Icing has Jack Daniels Whiskey in it and it's incredible, but these cupcakes will be served to children, she made the basic Buttercream icing for them. So..... then we talked about the difference between Buttercream Icing and Better Cream Icing. I remembered that we only used Better Cream at the Bakery. I began to research a recipe and was unsuccessful.
Most people mistake Better Cream for Butter Cream and are not aware that there's a difference.
I decided to look at my go to hand written books of my Best of the Best Recipes and I found my notes on cake decorating..
I found my recipe for Better Cream Icing

Here are the notes from my days as a Cake Decorator:

Better Cream Icing:
2 C Crisco
2 pounds of Confectioner's Sugar
a dash of Vanilla extract
a dash of  Almond extract
a pinch of Salt
1 - 8 oz.  Thinnest recommended for a Cake  1/2 Pint of Heavy Cream ( 4 oz. for Medium /Stiff , recommended for Piped Cupcakes and Decorative Piping on Cakes), ( 6 oz. for Thin) recommended for a light filling.
The Stiff Icing is used to create Decorative Borders and Flowers with Icing Tips and Icing Bags.
I recommend using canvas icing bags but plastic ones can also be used.

Cream Crisco well in a stand mixer with a paddle attachment.
Add all other ingredients and mix until well incorporated, don't over mix.

I have 2 recipes for Butter Cream Icing:

4 C Confectioner's Sugar
1/2 C Crisco
1/2 C Butter
2 TBS Whole Milk
1 tsp Vanilla

Cream Crisco and Butter with a Hand Mixer in a medium mixing bowl.
Add Vanilla and mix well.
Begin adding Sugar 1 C at a time.
Beat in Milk and whip until smooth and creamy.

6 Sticks of Butter, softened
9 C Confectioner's Sugar
1 1/2 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract

Beat butter and 3 C of Sugar with a hand mixer on medium speed until well combined.
Reduce speed  and continue beating , gradually adding  the remaining 6 C of Sugar, 1 C at a time.
Increase speed to medium-high and add vanilla.
Continue beating for 3 minutes more.

Cake Decorating Tips:

Grease Pans with Pan Release Mix.
I use this for Cupcakes, Cakes, and any dessert recipe that calls for greasing a pan with butter and flour or a baking spray.

Equal Parts of:
Vegetable Oil
Mix well and put in a jar and keep refrigerated until ready to use. I always have a jar in the refrigerator. It keeps for a long time.
I start with 1 C of each. Increase the amount as much as you need based on how much baking you plan on doing.
It's the only release mix I use.
It works the best in the detailed designs of  any Bundt Pans.
I use a pastry brush to get into every corner and crease.

Cake Pans:

2 - 8" - 1 Cake Mix
1 - 10" - 1 Cake Mix
3 - 6" - 1 Cake Mix

I use Bake Even Strips, pre soaked in warm water and then cooled and wrap them around the outside of the pans, metallic side out and secured with a T-Pin.

I only use Duncan Hines Cake Mixes and bake them all at 325 degrees for the time suggested on the mix.
Bake as directed, until the cake returns to the touch and the sides start to pull away.
Remove from the oven, remove from the pan immediately and wrap them tightly with Plastic Wrap. Refrigerate or Freeze immediately. This will retain the moisture in the cake. I freeze them before I ice them.

Cake Boards:
8" for a 6" Cake
10" for an 8" Cake.

White on White Buttermilk Cake with Jack Daniel's Buttercream Icing
The Pastry Queen

I found this recipe in The Pastry Queen cookbook by Rebecca Rather.
The recipe was originally from one of the finest pastry chefs at Houston's renowned Cafe Annie.
Jeannie Hemwattakit gave this recipe to Rebecca.
This cake recipe is great for Birthday Cakes, Special Occasion Cakes and if you're brave enough it makes an amazing Wedding Cake. I love to share the story about when I was a single Dad living in North Dallas, Texas. I'm a huge fan of Martha Stewart and always have been . I posted a great story about my obsession with Martha. I may have even mentioned this in that story. I had one of Martha's magazines with a Wedding Cake on the cover. I decided that one Saturday I would make the cake. I didn't even have an occasion to make it. I just wanted to, and I did. My son came home after I had spent most of the day making the wedding cake and he asked if I had made it for a wedding. I told him I just wanted to see if I could reproduce the cake on Martha's cover, and I made it for us!
We had wedding cake for dessert that evening and when I returned to work on Monday I took the cake to share with my coworkers.
Anyway, I know enough about cake decorating and wedding cakes to know that this recipe from Rebecca is our new favorite White Cake recipe and we will make it again.

1 1/2 C (3sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
2 1/3 C sugar
3 large egg whites
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 C cake flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 C buttermilk

3 large eggs
4 large egg yolks
1/2 C water
2 C sugar
3 C (6 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
1/2 tsp salt
3 TBS Jack Daniel's Whiskey

Make the Cake:

Place one baking rack 1/3 from the bottom of the oven and the second 2/3 from the bottom. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 3 9" cake pans with parchment paper rounds , grease with butter and dust with flour. Or, spray with a baking spray.

In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed for 2 minutes.
Scrape down the sides as needed.
Add egg whites and vanilla and beat for 1 minute.

Combine flour, baking soda, salt and baking powder in a medium bowl.
Add 1/3 of the flour mixture to the batter and beat until incorporated.
Add half of the buttermilk and beat until incorporated.
Continue adding dry and wet ingredients alternately, scraping down the bowl and beating until well incorporated after each addition.
End with the dry ingredients. The batter will be thick and glossy.

Spoon batter evenly into pans.
Stagger the cake pans on the racks so no pan is directly over another.
Place two pans on one rack and two on the other rack.
Bake for 25 - 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean and the tops are flat and browned.
Check them periodically. They may be done at different times.

Set the cake pans on a rack to cool for 10 minutes.
Invert the cakes onto the rack to cool completely.

To make the Buttercream:

Using a mixer with a whisk attachment, whip the eggs and yolks in a large bowl on high speed for about 5 minutes.
In a medium saucepan, combine the water and sugar, simmer until it reaches softball stage between 234 degrees and 240 degrees on a candy thermometer.
Transfer the syrup to a heatproof liquid measuring cup. ( ie. a Pyrex Measuring Cup).
Slowly and continuously, drizzle the sugar mixture into the egg mixture, mixing on low speed the entire time.
Increase the speed to medium and continue beating for 7 minutes, until the syrup has cooled. (the bowl should be barely warm to the touch at this stage).
Add the butter, 1/2 stick at a time, beating on medium speed for 20 seconds after each addition.
Once all of the butter has been added, beat on medium speed until the icing thickens slightly, about 3 minutes.
Stir in the salt and whiskey by hand.

Place a cake layer on a serving plate and spread a thick layer of icing on top.
Add the second layer and do the same.
Add the top layer and ice the entire cake with an even layer of icing.

I posted a picture of the cakelettes at the end of this page. You can buy a cakelette pan and follow the instructions for baking. We got ours at Williams Sonoma. They're nice for an individual taste of the cake. You can ice them or dust them with confectioner's sugar, cocoa powder or even a cinnamon/sugar mix.

I hope this helps the beginner bakers. Follow these instructions and you'll produce incredible Cakes.

Peace in the Kitchen!

Rebecca Rather's White on White Buttermilk Cake Recipe
with my Basic Butter Cream Icing

These are the cakelettes made with the White on White Cake  Recipe
from Rebecca Rather.
In the picture above  this one ,they're dusted with Confectioner's Sugar.

Linzer Cookies / Ina Garten / The Barefoot Contessa. A great Cookie for Valentine's Day

Anne wanted to make Linzer Cookies today, she recently bought a great Wilton Linzer Cookie Cutter, 2.25" X 2.25" scalloped square.  Adjust baking time if you have a larger cutter.It's basically an all in one cutter , it cuts the square and the center all at once. 
It includes 6 different center design cut outs, Heart, Star, Scalloped Flower, Triangle, Diamond and Circle. You can use a variety of Jams in the center. These are a sandwiched cookie where the top and bottom are baked separately and the Jam is spread onto the bottom cookie and topped with the top cookie.
Since they don't have eggs in the recipe , they're basically a shortbread cookie.
She chose to use Ina Garten's recipe so I simply copied it onto the blog.

3/4 pound unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup good raspberry preserves
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together the butter and sugar until they are just combined. Add the vanilla. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour and salt, then add them to the butter-and-sugar mixture. Mix on low speed until the dough starts to come together. Dump onto a surface dusted with flour and shape into a flat disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes.

Roll the dough 1/4-inch thick and cut 2 3/4-inch rounds with a plain or fluted cutter. With 1/2 of the rounds, cut a hole from the middle of each round with a heart or spade shaped cutter. Place all the cookies on an ungreased baking sheet and chill for 15 minutes. (my wife said that if you don't chill the cookies on the baking sheet, bake them around 15 minutes only) They have an amazing butter aroma when they come out of the oven.

Bake the cookies for 20 to 25 minutes, until the edges begin to brown. Allow to cool to room temperature. Spread raspberry preserves on the flat side of each solid cookie. Dust the top of the cut-out cookies with confectioners' sugar and press the flat sides together, with the raspberry preserves in the middle and the confectioners' sugar on the top.

Peace in the Kitchen!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

New York Style Cheesecake and Terry's favorite Fruit Toppings

This is it. I don't care how long it takes, because this one is time consuming. I don't care how much it costs because I wanted the Best of the Best to add to my recipe collection.
This recipe is for 1- 10" Spring form pan. I used a 9" and had enough batter to make an additional 6" cake. I did not change the baking time. You'll need a large roasting pan for a Bain Marie. (the spring form pan will sit in the roasting pan that's been filled half way up the spring form pan, as it bakes).

Here's what you'll need:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
1 - 10" Springform Pan
Butter the sides and bottom of the spring form pan.
Wrap the exterior, including the base with a double layer of heavy duty foil.

New York Style Cheesecake

12 graham crackers to make the equivalent of 1 1/2 C of crumbs. I pre-make my crumbs so I I had to do the conversion to cups.
6 TBS butter, melted + additional for the pan
2 TBS sugar
a pinch of salt

3 1/2 pounds of Cream Cheese (7) - 8oz. packages of cream cheese), room temperature.
2 1/4 C sugar
1 C sour cream
1 1/2 tsp of the best vanilla you can buy.
5 eggs, room temperature

Prepare the Crust:
Process the graham crackers in a food processor until fine.
Combine crumbs, melted butter, sugar and salt in a medium bowl and mix well.
Transfer the mixture to the pan and pat into an even layer using the bottom of a steel measuring cup.
Freeze the crust for 15 minutes.
Bake for 15 minutes.
Transfer to a cooling rack and cool completely.

In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment:
Beat the cream cheese on medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping the sides as needed.

In a large bowl, whisk the flour and sugar together.
With the mixer on low speed, gradually add sugar mixture to the cream cheese and mix until smooth.
Add eggs one at a time, beating just until each egg is combined. Don't over mix. (Hint: crack the eggs ahead of time into a measuring cup and then you can pour the eggs one at a time into the batter).

Pour the filling into the pan.
Set the pan inside the roasting pan and carefully pour boiling water into the roasting pan to reach 1/2 way up the sides of the spring form pan.

Bake for 45 minutes, reduce temperature to 325 degrees and continue baking for another 30 minutes,
Turn off the oven leave the cake in the oven with the door slightly ajar for 1 hour.

Transfer the spring form pan to a cooling rack and cool completely.
Refrigerate uncovered for at least 6 hours or overnight.
Before un molding, run a knife around the edge of the cake.

I like a plain Cheesecake and the option for guests to top a slice with their favorite fruit topping.
Here are options for Fruit Topping:

2 1/2 C frozen cherries
3/4 c sugar
2 TBS fresh lemon juice
2 TBS cornstarch
1/2 tsp almond extract

In a small bowl, combine cornstarch and fresh lemon juice.
Mix well until starch is dissolved.

In a saucepan on medium low heat:
stir frequently

Add cornstarch mixture to cherries, stir.
Add almond extract, stir.
Reduce heat to simmer, stirring constantly until cherries begin to thicken.
Remove from heat and cool completely.

Serve spooned over individual slices of Cheesecake.

Mixed Berry Sauce:
1/4 C (1/2 stick) butter
1/4 C sugar
2 - 1/2 pint containers of fresh raspberries
2 - 1/2 pint containers of fresh blueberries
6 TBS Chambord or Creme de Cassis Liqueur

Melt butter in a skillet on medium heat
Mix in sugar
Add berries and toss until sugar is dissolved and berries are thoroughly heated, stirring constantly, about 3 minutes.
Remove from heat and add liqueurs.
Allow to cool completely.

Serve spooned over individual slices of Cheesecake.

Vanilla Vodka Berry Sauce:

3 C mixed berries, your choice
1/4 C sugar
4 tsp Vanilla Vodka
2 tsp vanilla

In a bowl:
Gently stir together, berries, sugar, vodka and vanilla.
Let stand at room temperature for 15 - 30 minutes.

Serve spooned over individual slices of Cheesecake.

Pomegranate Sauce:
4 C chilled pomegranate juice
2 - 12oz. bags of frozen raspberries, unthawed.
1/4 C sugar
1/2 C honey

In a saucepan:
Bring juice to boil.
Reduce heat , simmer until reduced to 1 C, about 35 minutes.
Mix in raspberries and sugar.
Simmer until reduced to 3 C, stirring frequently, 20 minutes.
Mix in honey.
Remove from heat and cool slightly.
Cover and refrigerate until chilled.

Serve spooned over individual slices of Cheesecake.

Kirsch Whipped Cream:
1 C heavy cream
2 TBS sugar
1 TBS Kirsch

Whisk cream, sugar and Kirsch in a large bowl until peaks stiff peaks form.

Serve spooned over individual slices of Cheesecake.

1 pound of frozen blackberries, thawed, drained and reserve the juice.
1 1/2 tsp unflavored gelatin.

Mix sugar and reserved juice in a saucepan.
Sprinkle with gelatin.
Let stand until gelatin softens, about 15 minutes.
Stir mixture over low heat until sugar and gelatin are dissolve. Do not allow to boil.
Pour into a large bowl, add berries.
Mix well.
Refrigerate until chilled and begins to set, about 1 1/2 hours. (stirring occasionally).

Serve spooned over individual slices of Cheesecake.

Peace in the Kitchen!

This is the 9" cake

This is the 6" cake

It was well worth the effort. It's the best Cheesecake I have ever eaten!

Herbs , C & J Farms in Navarro Texas! Cooking with Herbs and Recipes using Herbs.

Canton, Texas is the largest Flea Market in the State. It may be the largest in the Country. It's called First Monday which means that it opens on the Thursday prior to the first Monday of every month. It's opened for 5 days. Thursday is when the vendors set up and Monday they start taking down. We try to go on Friday, it seems to be the best day. Saturday is too crowded. If you go on Sunday, vendors are more willing to bargain because they want to get rid of their inventory.
When we go, we generally focus on 1 or 2 things that we're looking for. For example, we may want a specific piece of furniture, pieces of Wallace China, Cast Iron Cookware and my wife always stops by the vendor that sells vintage Kitchen Towels. If you don't have something in mind that you'd  like to find, it can be overwhelming. However, every time we go we discover something new that grabs our attention and adds to the number of favorite vendors. Anne has her favorite vintage jewelry vendors and one month we discovered ( a vendor that makes glassware from liquor and wine bottles. We have a set of incredible Grey Goose Vodka Glasses. We love their products and I'll just add that we use their amazing glasses exclusively for Bloody Mary's made with my Bloody Mary Mix recipe that includes dried herbs! ( recipe to follow).
Recently we discovered an Herb vendor. It's easy to miss something because Canton is such a huge Flea Market. I was elated when I discovered C&J Farms. Connie was so kind and helpful in showing me all of their products and telling me the method they use to dry their amazing herbs. They sell Fresh Dried Herbs, Herb Blends, Sea Salts and Honey. The line of products is very impressive and the herbs are fresh and fragrant.

This Hippy in the Kitchen was hooked. The other appealing part about the company is that it's local. We try to buy local and organic whenever we can.  You can order from C&J's online and you can connect with them on Face Book.
They're located in Navarro County, Texas which is just south of Dallas.
If you love fresh Herbs, a wide variety of Herbs and Blends and Sea Salts of all types. and you cook with Herbs, then I endorse C&J's and I hope you take a look at their products.

 I wanted to thank Connie for her generosity, knowledge and her incredible line of fresh and fragrant products. Anne and I will return! As we talked, I informed her about my blog and told her I would endorse her products and write about the Farm on the blog. I decided to include some information about pairing herbs with ingredients when you cook and a list of recipes that can be found on my blog utilizing herbs. I threw in a bit of Herbs 101 also!

Here's their Website and Face Book Page addresses:

When cooking with dried herbs, remember to substitute 1/3 the amount of dried herbs called for in a recipe using fresh herbs. The rule of thumb is , 1 TBS of fresh = 1 tsp of dried. If you are accustomed to cooking with herbs you can certainly use an additional amount to suit your taste.
Always add dried herbs to a recipe at the beginning of the cooking time, it allows the flavors to seep into the dish. Dried herbs are generally more potent and concentrated than fresh herbs.
Crush the dried herbs in the palm of your hand by pressing and rubbing them gently with a finger to release their aromatic oils.
If you have never cooked with dried herbs, I highly recommend it. You will be surprised how much they can add to a dish. They're not just for Thanksgiving Stuffing anymore!

Here's an example of ways to pair dried herbs with ingredients when cooking:

Seafood:  Parsley,Chives, Dill
Risotto: Dill, Parsley, Tarragon, Chives, Oregano
Lamb: Rosemary, Oregano, Thyme, Marjoram
Roasted Potatoes: Dill, Basil, Parsley, Rosemary, Thyme
Couscous: Coriander, Mint, Dried Chile Peppers
Roasted Tomatoes: Basil, Parsley, Coriander, Oregano
Pizza: Basil, Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, Oregano
Chicken: Parsley, Chives, Tarragon, Rosemary
Asparagus: Dill, Parsley, Chervil, Tarragon
Lentil Soups and Salads: Parsley, Coriander, Chives
Cauliflower: Chives, Cumin, Turmeric
Mushrooms Stuffed with Spinach: Parsley
Goat Cheese: Parsley, Dill
Cream Cheese Herb Dips: Basil, Coriander, Tarragon, Chives, Parsley
Omlettes: Basil, Oregano, Tarragon, Chives, Parsley, Thyme
Stuffing: Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, Thyme ( Are you going to Scarborough Fair...... I'm just checking to see if you're truly reading the entire article! C & J sells a Scarborough Fair Herb Blend that would be perfect for Stuffing.
They also sell an amazing Olive Oil Dipping Blend to use with Bruschetta or a good Artisan French or Italian Bread for dipping.

Here's a sample of Hippy in the Kitchen recipes using Herbs. You can search them on the Blog.

Bean Soup with Italian Link Sausage ( vegetarian version available)
Beet Sliders
Chick Pea Noodle Soup
Green Chile and Potato Chowder
Pasta Bar in a Jar
Hasselback Potatoes
Thanksgiving Dressing
Corn Soup with Roasted Chiles and Smoked Gouda Cheese
Parmesan Baked Potatoes with Herbs and Garlic
Tex-Mex Baked Eggplant
Crock Pot Cauliflower and Cheese Soup
Herbed Rice Loaf
Roasted Provencal Potatoes
Asparagus Bread Pudding (one of our favorites)
Fines Herbes Pommes Roti
Baked Eggs in a Dinner Roll

Lavender Pound Cake:

This recipe calls for a prepared loaf pan. I use my Pan Release Mixture. (equal parts of Crisco, Vegetable Oil and Flour) I start with 1 C of each, mix well and keep refrigerated in a jar. I always have it available for all of my baking needs.
The recipe calls for a Lavender Syrup, here's my personal favorite.

Lavender Syrup:
1 C Water
1/2 C Sugar
1 TBS C & J Farms Culinary Lavender
Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat and simmer for 2 minutes.
Strain through a fine sieve and cool completely at room temperature.

1 1/2 C Sugar
1 1/4 C Butter
3/4 C Vanilla
6 Eggs
1/2 tsp Salt
2 2/3 C Flour
2 TBS C & J  Farms Culinary Lavender

Cream Butter and Sugar.
Add Vanilla and Eggs.
Add Salt, Flour and Lavender.
Mix well.
Pour the batter into an 8 1/2" X 4 1/2" X 2 1/2" prepared loaf pan.

Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour. ( or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean) This cake took almost 1 1/2 hours.
Cool 10 minutes in the pan.
Remove the cake from the pan while it's still warm.
Transfer to a cooling rack placed over a sheet pan.
Brush the sides and top  generously with Lavender Syrup until well saturated.
Cool completely before serving.

The batter is incredible.
I used C & J's Culinary Lavender

Lavender Syrup

The final cake ,with the glaze brushed on it.

Union Square Bar Nuts:

This is one of our favorite spiced nut recipes.

Double or Triple the recipe, they really don't last long!

Our friend Jill was the first to serve these to us. We absolutely loved them.
Thanks Jill for sharing this with us.
We have many friends that are great cooks and Jill is one of them. We share many recipes and I will always give credit when I can.

2 1/4 C mixed Nuts, no peanuts ( or... peanuts if you want)  I've done only Pecans because.... I live in Texas!
2 TBS coarsely chopped fresh Rosemary
1/2 tsp Cayenne Pepper ( I use 1/4C Heirloom Chimayo Chile Powder and 1/4C Cayenne Pepper Seasoning.
2 tsp Brown Sugar
2 tsp Sea Salt
1 TBS butter, melted

Toss nuts in a single layer on a cookie sheet
Roast them at 350 degrees for 10 minutes
In a large bowl, combine remaining ingredients and toss the nuts in the mixture
Store them in a jar and........ You may not have any leftover to store!

I've posted many recipes for spiced nuts. I love them all. Here's my latest recipe.
I made these with a combination of Extra Large Peanuts and Whole Almonds. You can use all of one kind of nut or any combination. The next time I make them I'll try Mixed Nuts. Of course, in Texas, we also use only Pecans.

Honey Spiced Nuts:

2 TBS olive oil
6 C nuts
1/3 C honey (I used a Lavender Honey from France)
2 tsp paprika
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 TBS salt
4 TBS sesame seeds

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
Heat a large Saute Pan on Medium High. When it gets hot, add the oil.
Add the Nuts and stir for 1 minute.
Reduce heat to low and continue to saute the nuts for 7 minutes, stirring often.
sesame seeds
Stir Well

Spread on a sheet pan.
Dry them in the oven for 12 - 15 minutes.
Cool before moving to a sealed container.
As soon as they're cooled you will need to scrape the nuts from the pan with a strong metal spatula and break up the nuts as you remove them.
I kept some small clusters.
They are absolutely delicious.

Herbed Shortbread Wafers:

These would be great as an appetizer, served with a Cabernet Sauvignon Wine.

This recipe is an adaptation of an adaptation of a recipe from Ina Garten....... Oh well! It looks good enough for me. We have an extensive herb garden and I will make these.

1 stick (8 TBS), butter, softened
1/4 C grated fresh parmesan cheese (grate fresh parmesan cheese yourself for maximum flavor)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 tsp fresh chopped thyme
1 tsp fresh chopped rosemary
1 1/4 C flour
1 TBS water

In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment:
Mix medium low until creamy
Add cheese, salt, pepper, herbs, flour ( incorporate each ingredient separately and mix until incorporated).
Add water
Form the dough into a disc, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Roll out the dough on a floured surface to 1/4" - 1/2" thick. Use a 2" - 3" round cookie cutter. You can also form the dough into a log and refrigerate it for 30 minutes and then slice it into rounds.

Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and place the wafers 1" apart and bake for 22 - 25 minutes.

Terry's Bloody Mary Mix:

1 qt. Tomato Juice
6 oz. Vegetarian Worcestershire Sauce
1 oz. Fresh Lemon Juice
2 TBS Tabasco Sauce
1 tsp Crushed Red Pepper Flakes ( or C&J's Hot and Spicy Mix would be perfect)
1 TBS Cracked Black Pepper
1 tsp dried Dill
1/4 C Prepared Grated Horseradish ( it comes in a jar)

Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend for 1 minute.
It keeps in the refrigerator forever. The longer it sits, the stronger it gets.
This is really the only recipe that I use for a Bloody Mary.

Mix as desired with your favorite Vodka.
Garnish with a combination of the following:
Celery Sticks
Cucumber Spears
Pickled Okra
Dill Pickle Spears
Stuffed Olives
Cocktail Onions
Cherry Tomatoes
Chile Peppers
Dill Sprigs
Jalapeno slices
Roasted Garlic
Water Chestnuts
Zucchini Spears
Pickled Asparagus
Muddled Tomatoes and Basil

Anne and I travel to France often and our friends in Provence all have herb gardens and cook with herbs. I hope you take the opportunity to learn how to cook with herbs and use them often in cooking.

I absolutely enjoyed doing the research for this project and I thank Connie from C&J Farms for letting me share their inspiration and enthusiasm with me, so that I could share it with you all!

Here's an except from C&J's website: Please take the time to check it out!

C & J Farms offers a variety of fresh, all-natural herbs and sea salt blends. We are also happy to provide an assortment of dried herbs and herb blends for cooking versatility, as C & J sea salt blends are a great way to add flavor to any meal including meats, vegetables and fresh fruits.

We find that cooking with herbs and herb blends from C & J Farms has many benefits, and you will too! As C & J Farms specializes in growing and selling the freshest tasting herbs available, the taste and aroma of our herbs transform an ordinary meal into an extraordinary experience. Not only are our herbs delicious, they will also add an extra kick of nutritional value to your meal.

All of our herbs are grown and harvested naturally. We do not include any additives to our pure blends. 

Italian Herb Bread made in our Terra Cotta Bread Cloche

Dipping Oil

C&J Farms Olive Oil Dipping Blend with
Partanna Sicilian Extra Virgin Olive Oil

The Dipping Blend is amazing!
We recently purchased some additional products from  C&J Farms. I wanted culinary lavender for dessert recipes. I've included 2 recipes using lavender and a photograph of the new herbs and spices I bought, Dried Jalapeno Pieces, Black Lava Sea Salt, Sweet Orange & Herb , Cowhorn Cayenne Flakes, Applewood Smoked Sea Salt and Lavender.

These are individual lavender cakes. We travel of the South of France and have friends in Provence that live among the amazing Lavender Fields. My fondest memory of my first experience in the Lavender Fields, many years ago, was the sound of the buzzing bees and the incredible aroma of the lavender.
It's very popular in the culinary world to cook and bake with Lavender. There are so many recipes for the flowers.
They often pair Lemon with Lavender and this recipe includes Lemon zest. These are individual cakes make with Lavender.

Petits Gateaus de Lavande:

This recipe makes 10 individual servings.

3/4 C butter, melted , divided
1 2/3 C confectioner's sugar + additional for dusting
6 1.2 TBS flour
1 C ground almonds
5 extra large egg whites
1 TBS of grated lemon zest
1/2 tsp lavender buds + additional for topping the cakes

Spoon 1 TBS of melted butter into 10 individual 4 inch ramekins that have been placed on a sheet pan.
Sift sugar and flour together in a small bowl.
Add almonds and mix well.
Beat egg whites by hand with a fork and fold into the dry ingredients.
Add remaining melted butter, lemon zest and lavender.
Fill each cup 3/4 full of the batter.
Sprinkle the batter with additional lavender before baking.

Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes
Rotate the sheet pan and continue baking for another 10 minutes.

Remove from the oven and transfer the ramekins to a cooling rack and cool completely.

Dust with confectioner's sugar and serve from the ramekins.
You can invert them and serve them on plates.

We have Lavender Farms near our town. We just read about a new farm opening this weekend. We travel to Provence often and visit friends that are fortunate to live across a dirt road from the vast Lavender Fields of Valensole. We come home with Lavender Soap, Lavender Essence, Lavender Sachets, Herbes de Provence with Lavender and anything else we can find that's made with Lavender.

We love to park the car on the side of the road, get out and listen to the sound of the buzzing bees and smell the intense fragrance of the lavender. It's what Provence is all about!

Thank you to all of our friends and family in France for making our lives fuller and richer by experiencing your amazing country. I've been traveling to France for over 40 years.

We have a friend that makes a great Lemon Lavender Cookie so I wanted to post my recipe for Lemon Bars with Lavender.

Lemon Bars with Lavender:

2 sticks (1C butter) softened
3/4 C sugar
1/2 C brown sugar
2 C flour
1/8 tsp salt
1 TBS dried lavender


6 large eggs
2 C sugar
1 C flour
1 C fresh lemon juice
zest of 3 lemons

Confectioner's Sugar and additional Lavender


In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, cream together both types of sugars until creamy, at least 5 minutes.
Scrape the bowl and add :
Beat on low just until combined

Press the dough into the bottom of a 9X13 baking dish and 1/2" up the sides
Bake at 350 degrees for 18 - 20 minutes
Refrigerate st least 30 minutes

In a bowl, whisk:
until creamy

lemon juice
lemon zest
Whisk to incorporate

Pour the filling into the crust
Bake at 350 degrees for 20 - 25 minutes

Cool Completely
Sprinkle with additional Lavender and dust with Confectioner's Sugar.

Lemon Cupcakes with 2 TBS of Culinary Lavender in the batter.

These rolls are from Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman.
She writes about them on her blog. She adapted the recipe after having them in a restaurant.
I've made them many times and I consider them to be a Best of the Best recipe!

Rhodes frozen dinner rolls, do not thaw!
Olive oil, you know, the good stuff!
Fresh Rosemary, chopped ( I take it from my garden)
Some butter, melted , I did say some..... I just melt some butter!
Sea Salt, I use Sel de Mer.... we travel to France often and we buy it there ( I'm not trying to be snobby, but good Sel de Mer is ...... well.....  Good!
A 7", 8" , 9", 10"... anyway, a cast iron skillet , you never know how many of these you will make.

Several pans at once I would say!
Or, you can make them in a cast iron muffin pan or, I also use the Lodge 7 well biscuit pan.

For 7 rolls:
Generously coat a 7"- 8" cast iron skillet, muffin pan or biscuit pan with olive oil.
Place frozen rolls in the pan.
Cover them with a kitchen towel.
Walk away for 3 hours  to let them rise ..... check them ..... walk away for another 20 minutes to rise!
Lightly brush them with melted butter.
Sprinkle the tops with rosemary.
Gently brush again with butter ( I drizzle it on so I don't disturb the Rosemary)
Sprinkle with Sea Salt!

Bake 400 degrees for 17 - 20 minutes, in the middle of your oven, not the top or the bottom, the middle!
They will be golden brown 
Remove them from the oven and...... Oh Yes! Butter them again!
That's it!

Peace in the Kitchen!

Enjoy Cooking with Herbs and Spices!
Peace n the Kitchen!