Kefired Cream

Kefired Cream

Leave it to me to take a perfectly healthy food product and tweak it into something sinful. I’ve gone and done it again. Everyone is talking these days of the wisdom of home fermenting. This ancient home preservation method is great for the gut, the immune system, the brain even! It adds probiotics, and vitamins to your body, and more importantly–flavor! I love to ferment vegetables of course, and more recently milk. Not just milk, but cream. Mmmmmmmmm. The tang almost knocks you sideways, but then the sweet cream calms you down. Then the zest makes it fresh and the almond just sort of tells its own little story. This is the kind of flavor that almost feels like magic–as though your tongue is understanding a new reality–no matter how many ‘cream teas’ you might have attended. Now there are those who say that organic non-homogenized milk and cream produced from happy pastured cows is much healthier than the stuff that’s been messed with by larger dairy producers. One can only hope. I’m willing to go with that just by the taste and how it makes me feel. So, I go through all kinds of trouble to get the best milk I can, and I turn it into kefir. Here is more about that. As the kefir sours to perfection, the solidified sour cream is skimmed off and saved. There are only a few tablespoons of the stuff, which can be gathered and churned into some delicious pastured cultured butter, or into a form of sweet Devonshire Cream I call ‘kefired cream’ (out of respect for Devonians who might feel very particular about gets to be called...

Uncommon Breadfellows #1… Smoked Salmon Tea Sandwiches

Whenever I go to downtown Seattle, I always stop at the tiny little Crumpet Shop next to the Public Market. Of course you can get amazing crumpets there. And tea–the best tea you will find anywhere! They give you a mug to help yourself at the tea urns, “As much as you like,” they say. “And when you leave, just ask for a ‘to go’ cup and fill it throughout the day as you wander the market!” I always make my friends get a crumpet, since almost no one I know has really had a great one of those. But I go for my other tea-time favorite, Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese Sandwiches on Homemade Oatmeal Bread. The sandwich is easy to make, but if you don’t have the best oatmeal bread available for it, you’d best make it yourself. (See link.) These tea sandwiches are part of a menu I’m developing for a traditional tea I’m having here in April… well, as traditional as I’m able to get anyway! Salmon and cream cheese is an old favorite. Pickles of some sort, and an herb such as dill is always a great addition. This time, I used a pickle that was left by my culinary muse and good friend Amy Brummer. She showed up at my door last week with a bowlful of home-grown kumquats and and handful of jalapeños saying, “These are just screaming to be put in a jar together!” and I watched as she turned them into citrus-y and spicy pickles. How could I know they would be the perfect little jolt for the smoked salmon??? Directions are minimal...
Honey-Poppy Seed Tea Cake

Honey-Poppy Seed Tea Cake

What better way to use the honey from your bees? This lightly sweetened cake suits a person like me who prefers things delicately sweetened. But for those who like things more conventionally sweet, you can make the sugar glaze at the end. Honey-Poppy Seed Tea Cake Makes 2 small loaves.   Ingredients: 1 cup poppy seeds stirred into ½ cup hot milk 1 cup semolina flour 1 cup All-Purpose flour 1 teaspoon baking powder 1 teaspoon baking soda 1 pinch salt 3 egg, separated ½ cup unsalted butter 1 cup honey 1 teaspoon almond extract or orange flower water 1 cup buttermilk   Glaze: Blend thoroughly the following: ½ cup powdered sugar 1 tablespoon melted butter a splash of milk or cream 2-3 drops of almond extract (or orange flower water)     Directions:  Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare 2 medium loaf pans by buttering them and lining them with lightly buttered parchment paper. ♨ Set aside the poppy-seed milk mixture. Sift the dry ingredients in a bowl. Whip the egg whites in another bowl until soft peaks form. ♨ In a mixer, beat the butter with the honey until well combined. Add the yolks and extract, then the milks and poppy seeds. Combine with the dry ingredients, then fold in the egg whites. ♨ Pour the batter into the loaf pans, and bake for 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool. If using the glaze, poke holes in the cake with a wooden skewer and drizzle the warm glaze over all....
Fresh Masa — The Real Thing!

Fresh Masa — The Real Thing!

Last night I finally did it. I set out to make the masa of which I had once thought could only be found in obscure villages of the old grandmothers. Using instructions from Rick Bayless, I put two quarts of water to boil with 2 tablespoons of pickling lime. Next, I pulled down my jar of white corn, then washed and added one quart of the kernels to the hot water. At first, the kernels turned bright yellow, and the water too, became milky yellow even though the corn was white. Suddenly the most amazing thing happened! The kernels became striped into a deep golden brown, yellow, orange and white…”So THAT’S how candy corn got its name!” I thought. It looked exactly like that. Then the aroma hit my nostrils. It was the most ramped-up toasty corn aroma ever to hit my nose. Real corn as I’d never known it. For tortillas, Rick says to simmer the kernels about two minutes, then cover and steep overnight. For tamale masa, cook the kernels for 15 minutes, and steep one hour only. So, I split the kernels into two pots, one for tamale masa, and the other for tortillas. After an hour, I rinsed the tamale kernels, rubbing the outer skin, which by now was more like a slippery coating. I rubbed and rinsed the kernels until they were white, then put them through the grinder–first the coarse, then the fine setting. Rick says a food processor will do. Finally, I kneaded in enough water to create a stiff dough. I plan to mix this with salt and fat and do a...