Sunday, December 26, 2010

Holiday Apricot Coffee Cake

This is one of those recipes that can take me back to childhood in an instant. Originally my paternal grandmother's, I've updated it quite a bit, and it's now one of my families favorites.


I make the bread dough from scratch, but if you are not as adventurous you can do what my grandmother did and purchase premade, frozen bread dough from Bridgeford. If you are using the frozen dough - I suggest 2 ''loaves'', for this recipe. Follow directions on package through to first rise.

1 package dried apricots, cut into pieces
1 tsp almond extract
1/2 cup sugar

Place dried apricots in a sauce pan, and cover completely with water. Cook on medium, until mushy, adding additional water if necessary. Add sugar and almond extract, stirring until sugar dissolves. Cool.

1 lb powdered sugar
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp milk
1/2 fresh squeezed lemon

Whisk ingredients together, adding small amounts of milk as needed.

To make coffee cake:

After bread has risen, place on floured surface and roll into a rectangle approximately 12" x 18" and about 1/4 inch thick.

Spread the apricots on to the dough.

Roll dough, with apricots inside, lengthwise.

Leave seam on bottom

Transfer dough to a parchment paper lined cookie sheet and form into a ring.

Using scissors, snip the top diagonally around the ring.

Cover with a light cloth and set aside until the dough rises again to double its size (approximately 1 hour). Or, cover with a light cloth and place in the refrigerator overnight.

Bake in a 350 oven for 30-45 minutes, until golden brown.

Spread icing on warm coffee cake, so it will melt and drip down sides.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Sausage and Fennel Soup

Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Fennel Bulbs, chopped
2 small yellow onions, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp salt
1 Package Sweet Chicken Italian Sausage (I use Trader Joes Brand)
3 large vine ripened tomatoes, chopped
3 TBS tomato paste
2 boxes Chicken Stock (I use the Organic Pacific brand from Costco), plus additional if needed
1 cup of white rice
2 cups of frozen peas
1 bag/bunch of fresh spinach

Add enough olive oil to barely cover pan, heat over medium flame. Saute onions, fennel and garlic until translucent. Add salt. Squeeze sausage out of casings and add to vegetable mixture. Brown.

Add tomatoes to the mixture.

Cook for about 5 minutes, or until tomatoes start to break down and look like the picture below.

Add the two boxes of chicken stock, TBSs of tomato paste, and bring to boil. Turn to low and add rice. Cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes, when rice will be soft. Add peas and spinach and bring mixture to boil - adding additional chicken stock if want a thinner soup, I prefer a thicker mixture, easier for the kids to pick up.