Thursday, December 19, 2013

Visit to the Advent Calendar - Herb Recipes for the Season

This year I decided to post the Advent Calendar on Facebook.  Recipes will continue each day until December 25th! (or see the whole season here: Advent 2013)

The theme this year was food, all the recipes I posted this year are food related.  I think it was because I was planning cooking programs at the time I started working on the Calender.  Oh well.

Several of the recipes were for items we created during and for my Baking Program  at the Morton Arboretum.  Like these great breads using lavender and cornmeal.

December 2 -- Lavender Tea Bread
3/4 cup milk
2 Tbsp. dried lavender flowers, finely chopped, or 3 Tbsp. fresh chopped flowers
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
6 Tbsp. butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs

Grease a 9x5x3 inch loaf pan. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Heat milk with lavender almost to a boil, then steep until cool. Mix flour, baking powder and salt together in bowl. In another bowl cream butter and gradually add sugar, then eggs, one at a time, beating until light and fluffy. Add flour mixture alternately with lavender milk, in three parts. Mix until batter is just blended, do not overbeat. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 50 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool in pan 5 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool. When completely cool, drizzle with a simple sugar glaze or sprinkle with confectioners' sugar. Garnish with sprigs of fresh lavender.

December 8  -- Polenta Quick Bread 
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for pan
1/3 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest, plus 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh thyme leaves, plus sprigs for garnish
1 cup fine yellow cornmeal (preferably stone-ground)
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted, half coarsely chopped and half whole

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan. Dust with flour, and tap out excess; set aside. Cream butter and sugar  with a mixer or whisk.  Mix (on medium-high speed) until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add lemon zest; mix 1 minute. Add eggs, 1 at a time, mixing well after each addition. Mix in lemon juice and thyme. Add flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt, and mix until just combined. Stir in chopped pine nuts. Pour batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle with pine nuts. Bake until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, 50 to 55 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack. Garnish with thyme.

In addition there were foodie gift recipes, like: 

December 14 -- Homemade Stuffing Mix 

3 to 3-1/2 cups of bread cubes (to fit a quart jar with space for seasoning package) 
¼ tsp celery seed
1 tablespoon parsley flakes
1 tablespoon dried minced onion
2 envelopes chicken bouillon granules or equivalent
¼ teaspoon Backyard Patch poultry seasoning
½ tsp sage
¼ tsp garlic powder or minced garlic

To Assemble this Gift in a Jar:
Put bread cubes in a one quart jar, allowing room to add the seasoning bag on the top of the jar.  In a small plastic bag, combine all seasonings and mix well. Seal bag with twist tie or ziplock and place on top of the bread cubes.

In a small saucepan, bring 1 cup water with 2 Tbls. Butter to a boil.  Lower heat and add contents of seasoning package.  Simmer for 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and mix in bread cubes, stirring enough to moisten.  Cover and let stand for five minutes.  Fluff with for before serving.

Place these instructions on a handwritten or printed label and attach to the jar.

And of course there are beverages:

December 12 -- Star Anise, Allspice, and Orange Tea Blend

2 whole star anise
2 dried organic orange peels
5 allspice berries.

Combine spices and place in a saucepan.  Add 2 cups of water and bring to a boil, then turn off the heat and steep for 5 minutes, covered. Strain and drink.

December 13 -- Krafted Kahlua

5 1/4 cups sugar
3 3/4 cups boiling water
2 vanilla beans, sliced lengthwise
4 oz. Instant Coffee – NOT freeze dried!
1 Fifth of Brandy (750ml) - the cheaper the better!

Put sugar, coffee & water in a large bowl and stir until well blended and there's no sugar crystals left over.  Let cool.  Add Brandy and stir again. Put into a dark gallon jar with cut vanilla beans.  Let sit for 30 days.  If you don't have a dark gallon jar, put jar in paper sack and put in closet. After 30 days (or however long you can stand to not touch it), divide into jars or bottles for gift giving, removing the vanilla beans as you pour.  Remember to keep some for yourself.

To see all the recipes from this year, as well as the previous two years of recipes, check out my special website page.  where we have collected them together.

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