I always anticipate cooking with fresh herbs in the summer-time. The smells and tastes of just-picked herbs are simply incomparable.
One of our recent lunch classes at The Good Cooking Store was “Cooking with Fresh Herbs.” We chose a selection of herby recipes—some of which require no cooking at all!
Here is a refreshing summer soup which we made in the class. It is a great way to expand cucumbers from your garden into more of your diet. And it will cool you down on a warm summer night!
Have you ever started into a recipe—or wanted to—and then discovered it called for buttermilk? Said recipe requires a cup, at most. If you decide to make a run to the store for the buttermilk, you take out what little bit you need, and then the far greater amount that’s left in the carton spends the rest of its life drifting to the back of the fridge and eventually you send it down the drain.
I found this amazing buttermilk powder. And it gives fantastic texture and flavor to the cakes I’ve used it in.
This miracle ingredient is “Cultured Buttermilk Blend—for cooking and baking.” The stuff works.
Here’s how. You stir the buttermilk powder in with the recipe’s dry ingredients. (A formula stated on the Buttermilk Blend canister tells you how much powder to use.) Then you mix water equivalent to the amount of buttermilk called for in with the wet ingredients.
My first time out with the Blend I gingerly (sorry) tried it in my favorite gingerbread recipe. I made it for some friends, who I’m sure I served it to before, and they couldn’t stop fussing about how much they loved it. And they’re not big fussers.
Here’s the website if you want to learn more about this amazing stuff:
And here’s my favorite ginger-y, molasses-y, not-for-sissies gingerbread recipe with a wonderful surprise ingredient that’s first into the baking pan. Warning: you’ll need Buttermilk Blend—or buttermilk—for this!
Makes 9-12 servings
1/3 cup butter, softened
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup molasses (as strong or as sweet as you like)
1¾ cups flour
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1½ tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
¾ cup buttermilk*
2 cups sliced apples, unpeeled
whipped cream, optional
1. Using a mixer and a large mixing bowl, blend butter.
2. Blend in sugar, beating until well mixed.
3. Add egg and molasses, beating until well blended.
4. Place flour into a separate bowl.
5. Stir salt, baking soda, baking powder, ground ginger, and ground cinnamon into the flour, blending well.
6. Add 1/3 of the dry ingredients to the creamed butter and sugar. Mix well.
7. Add 1/3 of the buttermilk to the mixture and blend well.
8. Continue by adding half the remaining dry ingredients and blending them in well, followed by half the remaining buttermilk.
9. Repeat Step 8, using the rest of the dry ingredients and buttermilk.
10. Grease the bottom of a 9” square baking pan.
11. Slice the apples over the bottom of the pan, arranging them evenly.
12. Pour the batter over the apples.
13. Bake at 350◦ for 45-60 minutes, or until a tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
14. Allow to reach room temperature—or nearly so—before serving.
15. Top with dollops of whipped cream if you wish.
*If you’re using Buttermilk Blend instead, check the canister for the amount of dry powder to add to the dry ingredients in Step 5. Add a total of ¾ cup water during Steps 7, 8, and 9.