By Beth Brown, Kitchen Store Specialist

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Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and if you’re like me, Thanksgiving is all about the pie.

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Sure, turkey is great, but as a baking enthusiast, pie is the real reason I’m excited for Turkey Day.

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For our Dessert Shop Demo, we made a little twist to the traditional pies, and I do mean little!

Using the USA Pan Crown Muffin pan made the process of creating these tiny single serving pies much easier.

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Not only did the extra edge provide the perfect way to make flare and pinch the crust tops on the mini pies, but the silicone non-stick coating with a spritz of Vegalene spray made it easier to get the pies out when they were done!

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This tried and true pie crust recipe was flaky and crisp, and really easy to work with:

Ingredients:

21⁄2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon sugar

1 cup (two sticks) chilled unsalted butter cut into small pieces

1/4 to 1⁄2 cup ice water

Preparation:

Combine the flour, salt and sugar in a food processor. Pulse a few times to combine.

Add the butter pieces. Pulse 12 to 15 times, holding each pulse for one second. The

mixture should resemble coarse meal with some pea-size butter lumps.

IMG_0021Add 1/4 cup of ice water in a slow steady stream through feed tube and pulse 2 to 3 times. Pinch a small amount of the dough with your fingers to see that it holds together. If the dough does not hold together, add more water, 1⁄2 tablespoon at a time, pulsing until incorporated; then test the mixture again. Turn the dough out onto a silicone mat, and divide into two equal portions. Place half of the dough mixture on a large square of plastic wrap, with the heels of your hands press the mixture together until the dough forms one piece.

IMG_0022Flatten into a disk and wrap well in plastic wrap; repeat with the remaining dough. Refrigerate the dough disks until firm, at least 1 hour. Can be kept in the freezer up to 3 months. Before rolling out, remove the disks from the refrigerator, and let stand at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes to soften.

 

We used round scalloped cookie cutters, as well as leaf-shaped cutters, which would also be a showstopper for full size pie crust embellishment!

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We got creative topping our wee pies, with scallops, lattice, and cutouts!

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For mass production, it would go quicker to stick with one design, but when baking for fun or with kids, getting creative with the designs is what it’s all about.

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A pastry wheel helps in cutting the lattice pieces, and the trusty Fletcher’s Mill wooden rolling pin and silicone pastry mats were the perfect tools for rolling out the crust.

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(TIP: First, keep your ingredients cold. This is the secret to keeping the crust flaky, so we suggest you cut all the bottom disks, and leave the second disk of dough in the refrigerator until you are ready to make the tops. Also, take care not to roll the crust too thin, or the pies will break when taking them out of the muffin tin! It is best to let them cool a bit in the pan , then use a small offset spreading spatula to gently lift them out and onto a cooling rack to complete the cooling process so that the bottoms don't get soggy.)

Try these pies at home, and tell us about it in the comments!

 

By Beth Brown, Kitchen Store Specialist

NutriMill Dough Enhancer

Dough enhancer: what is it, exactly? Some bread recipes call for it, others don’t. Is it really necessary? Does it even make a difference? Well, we decided to celebrate back to school season by conducting our own little science experiment! Of course, we took pictures to share our findings with you. It’s totally scientific, you guys.

Background: Dough enhancer is a compound blend of whey, yeast, salt, corn starch, and honey - among other things - that claims to provide fluffier bread, enhance the natural flavor, and provide a softer texture. The NutriMill Dough Enhancer is also gluten free, so it can be used with gluten free baking, where good texture can be harder to achieve than in regular baking.

The experiment: What will happen if you bake two loaves of equal weight, one containing dough enhancer, the other not? Will there be a noticeable difference between the two loaves?

My hypothesis: The dough enhancer will provide a noticeable difference in the rise and texture of the bread vs the non-enhanced loaf.

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Using my favorite bread recipe, the Bosch Universal Mixer, and an Escali scale for scientific accuracy, I conducted my experiment.

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Even after the initial mixing, the difference is becoming clear. I could really feel how much silkier and lighter the enhanced dough was. Note the smoother texture of the enhanced dough vs. the non-enhanced dough!

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After rising for an hour, the difference is increasingly clear. The enhanced dough clearly rose better than its counterpart. (Tip for proofing bread: The countertop can be too chilly for dough, especially in Alaska. Placing your dough, covered, in the oven with just the light is a nice, warm proofing environment. The heat from the light bulb creates just enough warmth for the dough to be happy, but not so hot that it bakes the dough.)

After shaping and weighing the loaves, they rose for another 30 minutes in the lit oven. Check it out! The dough enhanced loaf is still clearly winning.

After baking in the oven for 30 minutes, part one of my hypothesis was proven. The dough enhanced loaf rose much better and more evenly than the non-enhanced loaf. But what about the texture?

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I, along with several willing volunteers, tested both loaves and came to the conclusion that the enhanced loaf was indeed fluffier, and had a more even texture and crumb.

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Hypothesis: Proven! According to my research, dough enhancer can also improve the shelf life of your bread. Our loaves didn’t last long enough to find out! We served our loaves with homemade rhubarb preserves, and honey butter.

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Try the experiment yourself with your favorite bread recipe! We’d love to hear about the results. Trust us, this science experiment has delicious results!

Nana’s Famous Bread Recipe:

5 Cups warm water

2 Eggs

2 TBS yeast

1/3 cup sugar

1/3 cup oil

12-14 cups flour

3 TBS dough enhancer

1 tsp salt

In the bowl of your mixer, make a sponge by combining the warm water, eggs, two heaping tablespoons of yeast (SAF yeast is the best!), sugar, and oil. Mix gently and let the mixture get bubbly, for about ten minutes. Add six cups of the flour, until the mixture looks stringy.

Bosch Universal Mixer Kneading Bread Dough

Add dough enhancer and salt, and knead for five minutes in mixer. Add the rest of the flour, a cup at a time, until the dough is moist and stretchy, but not overly wet or sticky, continuing to knead in your mixer. After the desired consistency is achieved, place the dough in large bowl, oiled, and let rise for an hour.

After rising, hand-knead the dough for five minutes and shape into four loaves. Place the loaves in well-oiled bread pans, and allow to rise for another thirty minutes.

Bake at 375 for thirty minutes until dark golden brown on the top. Rub the tops of the hot loaves with butter for a beautiful finish!

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By Beth Brown, Kitchen Store Specialist

Instead of being completely devastated by the change in weather and the looming winter, I decided to celebrate the fall by whipping up the perfect combination of carbs and comfort: butternut squash ravioli!

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What’s not to love about tender, homemade pasta dough packed into pillows full of delicious butternut squash, topped with drizzly butter and crumbled walnuts? Yeah, nothing. Trust me, and try this recipe to cure your colder-weather blues. Paired with a delicious side, this would be perfect for a fall dinner party. Or, you could have your own private party, and eat them all yourself. Your choice!

Butternut Squash Ravioli - Allen & Petersen

Never made butternut squash ravioli? I hadn’t either. This recipe was simple and really fun to make, with the help of the KitchenAid mixer and food processor, the Atlas pasta maker, and our pastry cutter and ravioli stamps. Having next-to-no experience with homemade pasta, I went with a simple egg noodle recipe from KitchenAid.

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First, preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Pierce your butternut squash on all four sides (I used a paring knife) and cook in the microwave for 3 minutes, flipping half way through.

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This helps the squash soften a bit before cutting. Cut the squash in half length-wise, scoop out the seeds, place on a cookie sheet and brush generously with olive oil. Cook for 35-45 minutes until fork-tender.

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While that is cooking, sauté half an onion, diced, with one clove of minced garlic in olive oil until softened.

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Combine this with the cooked squash, ¼ teaspoon of cinnamon, 2 tablespoons olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste in your food processor until smooth.

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For the pasta dough, put 3 ½ cups all-purpose flour, sifted, into your KitchenAid mixer bowl (outfitted with the flat beater attachment), along with 1 teaspoon of salt. In a clear measuring cup, break four eggs, making sure the liquid reaches 7/8 of a cup. If it doesn’t, add water, one tablespoon at a time, until it does. Turning the mixer to speed 2, slowly add the eggs until the dough is coarsely blended. It will probably still look crumbly. If it looks really floury still, add one or two more tablespoons of water until the dough is crumbly but not dry.

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Hand-knead the dough for about a minute, until you can form it into balls. I separated my dough into four balls. Cover them with plastic wrap and let the dough balls rest for at least half an hour. This helps the gluten to process so your dough will be easier to flatten without stretching back.

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Despite the warnings in the instructions that pasta dough could be finicky, I found it simple and pretty forgiving, so don’t be shy. Once you try homemade pasta, you’ll never want to go back! When your dough has been sufficiently rested, shape them into square disks, flattening them to fit into the pasta roller.

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Set up your pasta roller and clamp it to the counter top. Make sure to start on the setting with the rollers furthest apart and start to feed the dough through, one disk at a time. Sometimes you may have to run the dough through twice on the same number before moving the next.

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I ran the dough through from setting one up to six. You don’t want it to be too thin for ravioli, or it will break while cooking.

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Once you have a nice, smooth, long sheet of dough, lay it flat on a clean surface, and use a scoop or small spoon to place small amounts of filling on half the dough, spaced evenly, as pictured.

Wet the edges and in between each scoop with a little water, so the raviolis will seal. Then, carefully fold the other half of the dough over the top, pressing down gently just around the filling, pushing out the air as you go.

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If your raviolis are too puffy with air, as my first attempts were, poke them with a tooth pick to get some of the air out, and squish the hole closed again. If there is too much air inside, it could burst while cooking. It sounds complicated, but it’s really very easy once you get the hang of it!

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I alternated using the pastry cutter and the ravioli stamps. Save any edges of dough, because you can run it back through the pasta maker!

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Once your raviolis are formed and pinched together, cook them in boiling water (add a splash of olive oil to the water, to help them not stick together). Let them cook for 3-6 minutes, depending on the size and thickness of your ravioli.

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To test their doneness, cut one in half. If you don’t see any white line, which signifies any uncooked flour, they’re done! Try not to eat them all before you make your sauce.

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For the sauce, we simply melted butter and added some crumbled walnuts. The butter and crunch of the nuts combined with the tender pasta and rich, sweetness of the filling perfectly! Is your mouth watering yet?

Do you have any favorite pasta tips or recipes? Tell us about it in the comments!

By Ashley Adams, Kitchen Store Specialist

One culinary delight that goes hand in hand with summer is the s’more. There isn’t much better than the combination of crisp graham cracker, rich chocolate, and squishy sweet marshmallow all sandwiched together in delicious gooey chocolate mess!

We’ve all grown up making and eating them, and the recipe is pretty standard, so how can you improve this classic campfire favorite? Make it from scratch! As with most things, homemade is better, and s’mores are no exception. We started by making homemade graham crackers. Graham flour gives these crackers their distinct taste- it is stone rolled and has a coarser texture and almost nutty flavor. Sweetened with honey and rolled thin to give them crunch, these graham crackers made the perfect base for our s’mores.

Next we topped them with oversized marshmallows made from scratch. Once you make homemade marshmallow you will never want to settle for the dry, flavorless ones out of a bag. Homemade marshmallows are smooth, creamy, melt-in-your-mouth squares of billowy goodness.

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[GRAHAM CRACKER INSTRUCTIONS]

Ingredients:

2 cups graham flour

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1⁄2 teaspoon baking soda

1⁄2 cup margarine, softened

1⁄2 cup packed brown sugar

1/3 cup honey

1⁄2 cup milk

Cinnamon & Sugar (optional)

Directions:

  1. Sift together the whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder and baking soda; set aside.
  1. In a medium bowl, cream together the margarine, brown sugar and honey until light and fluffy. Stir in the sifted ingredients alternating with the milk and

vanilla. Cover dough and refrigerate overnight.

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Divide the chilled dough into quarters. On a well

floured surface, roll the dough out one quarter at a time into a 5x15 inch rectangle. Divide into rectangles

using a knife. Place rectangles onto ungreased cookie sheets. Mark a line down the center of each one, and prick with a fork. For a cinnamon flavored cracker,

sprinkle with a cinnamon sugar mixture before

baking.

  1. Bake for 13 to 15 minutes in the preheated oven. Remove from baking sheets to cool on wire racks.

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Spread with peanut butter, Nutella or marshmallow cream or simply enjoyed with a tall glass of milk, these crackers are a perfect snack. And they make the perfect base for a decadent s’more.

Because marshmallows are essentially whipped sugar, gelatin, and flavoring it is important to use a high quality vanilla.

With ample high-quality Mexican vanilla these ‘mallows had a pronounced vanilla flavor that couldn’t be rivaled by any store-bought marshmallow.

They are incredibly easy to make, especially with the help of our Kitchenaid mixer, which does the majority of the work.

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[MARSHMALLOW INSTRUCTIONS]

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Start by reconstituting the unflavored gelatin with ½ cup of cold water in the bowl of the stand mixer. Let it sit while you mix the remaining ½ cup water, sugar, corn syrup and salt in a medium saucepan over medium high heat. Using a candy thermometer cook until the mixture reaches 240 degrees. Immediately remove from the heat.IMG_0011

Using a whisk attachment, turn the mixer on low speed and slowly add the sugar mixture down the side of the bowl into the gelatin mixture. Once it is all incorporated increase the mixer speed to high. Whip on high until the mixture becomes thick and the bowl is lukewarm, approximately 15 minutes. Add the vanilla and whip for another minute.

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While the marshmallows are whipping, mix the corn starch and powdered sugar. Spray a 9x13inch pan with cooking spray and add the powdered sugar into the pan, making sure to cover up the sides as well. Shake the pan around to evenly distribute the cornstarch mixture and dump the remaining back into the bowl.

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Spread the marshmallow mixture into the prepared pan and spread using a spatula sprayed with cooking spray. Dust with enough cornstarch mixture to cover.

Let the marshmallow sit for at least 4 hours, or overnight to set up. (If you are like us and you cannot wait- the marshmallows are super delicious, but it will be very, very messy!)

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Turn the marshmallows out onto a cutting board and cut into squares using a pizza wheel dusted with the cornstarch mixture or sprayed with cooking spray. Lightly dust all sides with the cornstarch mixture. These marshmallows can be stored in an airtight container for 3 weeks. If they last that long!

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We can’t wait to make some more marshmallows using cute cookie cutters and various flavors and toppings. How cute would they be on top of a cup of hot cocoa with peppermint flavoring. Or maybe dyed pink and cut into heart shapes, with the edges rolled in pink sanding sugar for Valentine ’s Day.  The possibilities are endless!

 

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By Beth Brown, Kitchen Store Specialist

Apple pie with ice cream is classic and delicious for summer! Or fall, or winter . . . or spring. Let’s be honest: anytime is a good time for apple pie! The beautiful summer weather and the creative recipes from my favorite book, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home, inspired me to modify Jeni’s base ice cream recipe and create the perfect food—Apple Pie Ice Cream!

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Pie and ice cream are two of my favorite foods, so it just made sense to pair them together. The base of the ice cream is a brown sugar cinnamon, and I swirled it with buttery graham cracker crumbs, pureed apple pie filling, and caramel. This recipe turned out so delicious, we knew we had to share it!

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Jeni’s Ice Cream Base

(my modifications are in parenthesis)

2 Cups whole milk

1 tbs plus 1 tsp cornstarch

3 tbs softened cream cheese

1/8 tsp fine sea salt

1 1 /4 cups heavy cream

2/3 cup sugar (I used brown sugar)

2 tbs light corn syrup (I used dark corn syrup)

(I added 1 tsp Mexican vanilla)

(I added 1/2 tsp cinnamon)

First, make sure the bowl of your ice cream freezer has been pre-frozen according to manufacturer instructions. I used my favorite, the Cuisinart 2 Qt Ice Cream freezer.

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Next, mix up 2 tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl. In another medium size bowl, whisk the cream cheese and salt together.

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Cook the rest of the milk, cream, sugar, corn syrup, vanilla, and cinnamon on medium-high heat until it comes to a rolling boil, and then remove from heat.

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Slowly whisk in the cornstarch, and then bring the mixture back to a boil and boil for four minutes, stirring frequently, until the mixture has thickened slightly. Pour cream mixture into the bowl with the salt and cream cheese, and whisk together. Then, flash cool the mixture by putting the smaller bowl inside a larger bowl of ice water.

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Once the mixture has cooled to just colder than room temperature, freeze according to manufacturer instructions. Mine took about 25 minutes to freeze to soft serve consistency. During the last five minutes, add about 2/3 cup of pureed apple pie filling.

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Using the Tovolo ice cream container, I layered the base ice cream with caramel and buttered graham cracker crumbs, and froze it for about two hours until slightly hardened.

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You can pick up a copy of Jeni’s book at our store. Trust us, it is a keeper. Her innovative methods and delicious combinations can get you inspired to create your own fantastical flavors! I can’t wait experiment more with her base recipe . . . and in the meantime, I’ll be over here in the corner, eating all the leftover apple pie ice cream!

 

By Beth Brown, Kitchen Store Specialist

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Something about the summertime makes us want to be healthier. For someone with a serious sweet tooth, this can present a problem! One of my personal favorite natural treats is this sweet date and nut bar.

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They are simple to make, and turn out so delicious, you probably won’t even know they are healthy!

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The best part is that these bars can be used as a breakfast, snack, or dessert. They are full of nuts for protein, dates for sweetness, and some dark chocolate—for the antioxidants, of course.

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We made two batches, one peanut butter, and one chocolate coconut. These bars really allow your creativity to flow, and trying different combinations of ingredients and types of nuts is part of the fun!

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First, soak ten dates in hot water for about ten minutes.

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This helps the dates get juicy, and helps you easily remove the pits. Then throw the dates, a cup of peanut butter and a cup of cashews into the food processor and mix until fully combined!

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A few chunks of nuts are okay, but it should be mostly incorporated. The mixture should stay together when you press it. If it feels too sticky or too dry, simply add more of any of the ingredients until the desired consistency and flavor is achieved. These are pretty hard to mess up!

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If you are making the coconut chocolate variety, add ½ cup of melted chocolate and 1/3 cup coconut oil instead of peanut butter, and add ½ cup toasted coconut.

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Press the mixture into a non-stick pan and put in the fridge.

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Don’t be afraid to try adding a melted chocolate layer!

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Once they are set, you can cut them into any shape you want. We had a lot of fun cutting, dipping, and tying these guys into giftable, sharable bundles. But don’t give them all away—you will want at least one batch all to yourself!photo  photo(2)

Check out our selection of decorative twines - there's a color for every event!

by Chef Amanda Cash (AKA Magpie Sue)

Originally printed in Alaska's Best Kitchens Spring/Summer 2012

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For a chef that likes pretty things, working at Allen & Petersen is exciting and, sometimes, downright dangerous. I put on blinders when passing the dishtowel section and find canning cookbooks irresistible, but the bar was raised when we received a shipment of glistening, made-in-the-USA, Chicago Metallic commercial bakeware.

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I had been formulating a class on homemade convenience breads such as sandwich loaf and hotdog or hamburger buns, so it came as no surprise that this shipment included REAL pans for each of the above items.The Pullman Loaf pan with lid was a glorious sight, the hotdog bun pan is pretty cute, but that hamburger bun pan, well, let me just tell you-LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT!

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With some gentle encouragement from hungry taste-testers, I snatched one up and got straight to work in pursuit of the perfect buns. I had been sitting on two recipes, one promising delicious burger vessels in a conventional four-hour timeframe and one touting amazing results in a mere 40 minutes from start to finish. Too good to be true? Well, I did all the hard work for you and the results are surprising.

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I made the double-raise recipe from a well-known premium flour company using our new folding proofing box from Brod & Taylor.

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Great flavor and texture, but the time needed detracts from weeknight feasibility. Next I made the 40-minute recipe exactly the way it's written and then “Magpie-Style.” Not only is the 40-minute recipe one of the easiest things I've ever made in my life, it is also delicious and completely within practical weeknight meal execution. The original recipe is readily available online, but I am giving you my adaptation that includes Alaska Flour Company's barley flour and some special ingredients.

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This recipe makes 6 colossal buns in the Chicago Metallic pan, but can make up to 12 small buns on a conventional baking sheet.

MAGPIE BUNS
INGREDIENTS:
2 Tablespoons active dry yeast
1 Cup plus 2 Tablespoons warm
water (110°-115°)
1/3 Cup grapeseed oil
1/4 Cup sugar
1 Farm fresh egg
1 1/2 Teaspoons kosher salt
2 Tablespoons poppy seeds
1 1/2 Cups Alaska Flour Company
barley flour
2 + Cups all-purpose flour,
plus more for kneading
2 Tablespoons melted, unsalted butter
Vegalene spray
Optional: 1 Onion, chopped, 2 Shallot, small dice
11/2 Teaspoons olive oil or grapeseed oil
Salt and Pepper, 1/4 cup Midnight Sun rootbeer,
3 Tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
PREPARATION:
Preheat the oven to 425° degrees. Spray the hamburger bun pan with Vegalene Pan Spray. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add oil and sugar; let stand for 5 minutes. Add the egg, salt, one tablespoon of poppy seeds, *and enough flour to form a soft dough. The barley flour will absorb a lot of moisture, so add all-purpose flour as needed. Spray your hands with Vegalene (trust me on this). Turn onto a lightly-floured Silpat mat or countertop and knead until smooth and elastic, about 3-5 minutes.

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Do not let this rise. Divide into 6 pieces for the Chicago Metallic pan (or 10-12 if using a baking sheet) and shape each into a ball. Place in the bun cups (or 3 inches apart on a greased baking sheet) and cover with a damp towel or greased plastic wrap. Rest for 10 minutes.

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Bake at 425° for 10-15 minutes. Remove from oven and brush the tops with melted butter and sprinkle with remaining poppy seeds. Return to the oven under the broiler for approximately 2 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and place pan on a rack to cool.

Hamburger Bun Pan

*To add the delicious onion mixture, heat a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the olive oil and heat through. Add the onion and shallot and a pinch of kosher salt. Sauté until light brown (but not burnt). When pan is almost dry, deglaze with rootbeer. Cook until all the rootbeer is absorbed. Season with additional salt and pepper and add chopped parsley. Remove from heat and spread out on a baking sheet to promote cooling. When room temperature, add to dough. You might require more flour due to the moisture content of the onions. Shape and bake as directed.

Delicious no matter what you stack on them!

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Will easily stand up to Sweet & Spicy (and Sloppy!) Chicken Sandwiches

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All the toppin's!
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Even strong enough for the beefiest burgers!

 

See original article and print recipe HERE

We love a good holiday, especially those involving food. And so when we found out it was Oatmeal Cookie Day (April 30th), we knew we'd better give them their proper celebration (even though we'd just partied with them last Tuesday, and the Friday before that - hey, don't judge - they're just that amazing) Plus, with Mother's Day so close at hand, we decided to bring out the Queen of Oatmeal Cookies - the crisp, lacy elegance that is the Buttery Oatmeal Crisp.

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The first time I had one was from a Cookie Exchange Platter at Christmas time. It wasn't like any oatmeal cookie I had ever seen (picture the pale, globby raisin filled variety from the elementary lunch line). It was thin, crispy, perfectly round and a shiny golden brown - like a mini spun caramel saucer. While elegant to look at, they are equally as nice to bite into.

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With A base of butter and golden sugars holding together those wafers of oatmeal you get just the right brittle crunch with plenty of texture and loads of flavor. Easily make them extra special with a simple drizzle of chocolate, sandwiched with Nutella, or by themselves as an accessory to a simple scoop of ice cream - and because they come out of the oven pliable, and cool crisp- you can even drape them over a small prep bowl or muffin tin to make a sweet and edible dessert bowl. The rim can then be dipped in white or dark chocolate and again into sprinkles or shimmer sugar.

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The key to the whole process is using the right tools - as seen in the video. A cookie scoop for uniformity and a Siplat for clean-ability will make all the difference in the world when it comes time to remove the cookies from the pan.

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Also having a nice large cooling rack allows the cookies to cool to a complete crisp on both sides. Use a small scoop for individual crisps, or jump up a size for a bowl.

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Anyway you serve them, Oatmeal Butter Crisps make a lovely end to any special occasion - so whether you plan to celebrate with Oatmeal Cookies everywhere - or just put this recipe in your pocket for Mother's day - remember this delicious grown up version of a classic favorite! Either way, you should probably go ahead and start practicing now - Mom will be so proud!

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Buttery Oatmeal Crisps

Ingredients:

1 3/4 cup quick cooking rolled oats

3/4 cup sugar

3/4 cup flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

3/4 cup butter, melted

1/4 cup light corn syrup

1/4 cup whipping cream

1/2 cup chocolate (for topping)

ice cream to serve

Makes approximately 50 cookies

preparation:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheet with a Silpat baking mat - this makes removing the cookies simple and clean up is almost effortless. In a large bowl combine oats, sugar, flour and baking powder - set aside. In another bowl, combine melted butter, corn syrup and cream. Add butter mixture to oat mixture and stir until combined.

Drop dough by rounded teaspoons, 3 inches apart onto prepared cookie sheet. Bake 10 -12 minutes on cookie sheet and then remove to cooling rack. Drizzle with melted chocolate and serve upright with a lovely scoop of ice cream or gelato.

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Silpat before cookies...
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during...
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ready for the oven...
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and after - just the shine of the buttery goodness remains = cinchie clean up!

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OGeraju6m_w?rel=0]

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Pinterest is just crawling (excuse the pun) with ideas for making food more fun, which usually means it resembles something that we wouldn't normally eat - like bugs and spiders and other small critters. We even have our own idea board full of great ideas for packing fun into anyones' Bento lunchbox. In fact, one of my all time favorites is a roll-up on top of a sweet pickle with carrot antennae- the only way to eat a snail, if you ask me.

So, in the spirit of Spring, we made our own version of the ridiculously cute Ladybug Cracker Appetizer recipe made popular by A Taste of Home magazine. They're easy enough to make, and even little hands can help with the assembly - as long as the prep work and cuts are done ahead. Make as many or few as you want- all you really need is a savory spread, a carrier cracker, some small tomatoes and some creativity. You'll want to have all the items ready for assembly, small prep bowls help keep things handy. Make the spread first and refrigerate until ready.

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Ladybugs for Lunch

Ingredients:

1 package of your favorite crackers, wide enough to host a bug.

Cherry, plum or grape tomatoes, halved

Canned beans, rinsed - we used red kidney beans and black eyed peas (black beans or black olive halves work well too, depending on what you have in your pantry)

Micro-greens or small leaf salad mix, spinach or even basil

Sprouts (or green onions, trimmed to thin 'sticks')

Black sesame seeds

Spreadable Dip: (we mixed up our own, but anything from Boursin to a nice thick Ranch dip will do here - according to your families taste)

2 oz cream cheese, softened

1T sour cream, Greek yogurt or mayonnaise

1 green onion, chopped fine

Chopped fresh herbs of your choosing - we used fresh dill and thyme

Salt & Pepper to taste

In a small glass bowl, stir together the softened cream cheese and sour cream until you reach a spreadable texture. Pull herb leaves from the stem, starting at the top and sliding backwards along the wood center. Chop herbs and green tops of onion fine with a paring knife or utility scissors. Stir into cream cheese mixture until combined, add s&p as desired.

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Spread dip evenly on a cracker and top with a small piece of greens.

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Cut the rounded tip from the halved tomatoes, then segment lengthwise about 3/4 of way, leaving the 'wings' connected near the flat top.

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Select a bean or halved olive that is just shorter than the tomato so that it will fit inside the 'wings', creating the lady bug body. Set atop the greens.

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Next pinch the sprout tail back so that you have enough of a stem for the tiny leaves to show over the lady bug head, but not too much that it will fall over. If using green onion stems, cut to a similar length. Set the antennae in place in front of the cut top of the tomato body.

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Dip a small bean into the cream cheese spread and set in place at cut end of the tomatoe, pressing back to 'glue' the antennae in place between the head and body of the bug.

Now for the eyes and spots. The easiest way to place your sesame seeds is to use a tooth pick or the sharp tip of a small paring knife. Spread a small number of seeds out on the counter so that none touch. Dip the tip of your pick or knife into the cream cheese spread and then tap a seed lightly to pick it up. Press the seed to the tomato where you want a spot and roll slightly sideways to adhere in place. Repeat for the eyes on the bug face. Once the seeds are in place. Handle by the cracker edge only to avoid loosing spots or eyes.

Refrigerate until served.

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It's nearly spring and that means things will soon begin to grow, and then ripen and then be ready for jarring up, or packing away in the freezer. Now is the time to make room for all that goodness - and what better place to start your Spring Cleaning than the freezer, and what better way than with a delicious treat that is so simple and easy to make, you can eat them anytime, or all the time!

Breakfast? There's fruit and grains in there... Check. Lunch? Just wrap up a few and take them anywhere. After dinner dessert? Yes- especially served still warm a la mode! Midnight snack? If your lucky and there are still some left- absolutely!

And with a hearty base of Alaska Grown Barley, they are moist and nutty, versatile and variable and totally sharable! But don't forget to make one pan for yourself too! These are some of our favorite treats, and even in a counter top toaster oven, nearly foolproof to prepare.

 

Barley Flour Jam Bars

Modified from Chef Julie Yoon's recipe

1 1/2 Cups Alaska Flour Company Barley Flour

1/3 Cup Sugar

Pinch of Salt

10 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 - 16 oz. jar Petersen's Pantry fruit preserves, any flavor - or combination of flavors!

 

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line an 8 inch square baking dish with 2 overlapping rectangles of parchment, leaving an overhang.

Place the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor, using short bursts to combine. Gradually add the butter in slices with the processor on low only until combined into a crumbly dough.

Separate and refrigerate 3 tablespoons of the dough for the topping. Press the remaining dough into the baking dish and put in the freezer until firm, about 10 minutes.

Bake the crust, 15 minutes. Spread the preserves on top, leaving a 1/2 inch border. Crumble the reserved dough on top. Return to the oven and bake until the edges are golden brown, about 25 minutes.

Let cool 20 minutes, then lift out of the pan, peel back the parchment and cut into squares.

For a delicious little bite, serve in our tulip cupcake papers for an especially springy presentation.

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