Party = Baking

Just had to!  We had a small guy dinner party last night.  Paul bought himself a new book about old coastal schooners and as I’m a tad tired of hearing about boats I decided to invite some of his friends over for dinner so they could “talk boats”.  Poor guy, talking boats with me is really tough for him – you know when you talk with someone and they get that glazed eye look?  That’s me, forget it, don’t waste your breath.  Well, anyhow, I wanted to try a recipe I saw yesterday in the WSJ for a cheese stick.  It’s a Low country thing, called Benne Sticks; Benne is what they call Sesame Seeds in the South.  We love  Sesame Seeds.

benne sticks

benne sticks 2

Really good, easy to make and fabuloso.  Trust me!  Here’s the recipe:  P.S. the paper lies, it makes 45 which is a tad less than 4 dozen, not 12 dozen as they said.

1.1/4 C. sifted flour

1/4 C. sesame seeds

2 Tbs. parmesan

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. cayenne

3 Tbs. cold unsalted butter

3 Tbs. cold lard (I had to use criso which they said DO NOT USE)

1/4 C. Ice water

Preheat oven to 400.

Put all the dry in a bowl, cut in the lard & butter with your fingers or knives if your happier with that idea then use a fork to blend in the water.  Put out on board and quickly form into a pastry type of ball, flattened top.  refrigerate at least 1/2 hour.  Cut in half and roll out – I rolled it to about 3 ” wide and then about 12 inches long, cut my strips with a bench cutter as my knife was not really sharp enough.  The recipe wants you to roll it 1/8″ thick.  I thought that was a tad thin, this was 3/8ths. I think.

That’s it, bake for about 10 minutes till slightly browned.    Warm just out of the oven – heavenly.

The rest of the meal, in case your curious…..A friend, whose husband could not come, brought a Chipolte Sweet Potato Soup – whew, spicy.   While they were eating that I hot pan sautéed Romaine and had a homemade caesar dressing to pour over it with the parm as it came out of the pan.  In another huge cast iron skillet I had Stew bits of Swordfish & Salmon searing, just salt, pepper and lemon olive oil.  While at the fish market they were selling Jumpin Jay’s Wasabi Aioli so I got that to go with the fish.  Nice color, even nicer flavor, creamy.  Those stew bits are a good deal.  They are about half the price of the full filet; they are just the cuts leftover from someone elses choice or whatever.  I know the fish lady really well (she used to come to my cafe so now I take her cookies) so she always goes through it and pulls out the best.  Nice.

When I went to California two months ago I took some granola type bars that I believe I posted here.  The recipe was from The Standard Bakery in Portland, Maine.  As I am addicted to them now my daughter in law is and wants the recipe.  This morning as I was cruising through my books thinking it was a Heidi Swanson recipe (which it is not) I bumped across this Oak Cake recipe.  Her talk starts with “these are in many bakeries in San Fransisco”.  I’ve never seen them and I usually have my antenna up for oats.  Well, what the hey?  I made them.

oat cakes

I revised them quite a bit to suit my tastes.  So, I’ll give you a combo recipe.

3 C. Oats

1 C. Whole Wheat Flour

1 C. White Flour

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1.5 tsp. sea salt

1/4 C. flax meal

1 C. chopped walnuts

1/2 C. sweet roasted sliced almonds (something I get from Trader Joes for just stuff like this)

1/4 C. poppy seeds

Mix all this together in a bowl.

Melt together (microwave is easy at 1 minute or so):

1/3 C. coconut oil

3/4 C. maple Syrup

3 oz. unsalted butter

1/2 C. sugar

Beat 2 Eggs together, add to the dry, add the wet, warm, sweet stuff and mix lightly,  scoop into muffin tin.  Bake for about 1/2 hour at 350.

These are really nice.  Next time I’ll add a tablespoon or two of almond butter and perhaps pastry flour instead of the white to lessen the heaviness.  But, they are a nice alternative to an energy bar, easy to put in a bag and pull out of my purse later if I’m gone for a while and McDonalds starts looking good.  I hate that when that happens!

This morning we went for our weekly “family walk”.  Yup. Got the old boy out for some fresh air.  As low tide was approaching we went to the beach with Luna and did a nice walk.  That stroll kind of reminds me of the old days of a promenade – everybody is in slow motion, just taking the day in, keeping track of their dogs and yes, picking up the poop.  It’s lovely down there.  These guys were out Paddleboarding…..walking around on the water and occasionally catching a wave.

paddle board


Lovely day ahead……we’ll go find our “peanuts tree” in the back yard (any old scrappy thing that needs to be thinned out)…34 years so far and we still have loads of stuff out there.  Paul was feeling festive this morning and suggested we put some lights on the porch (where the tree will be on top of the table).  I might even bring up some Nutcrackers.  We know we’re heading south soon so we’re making the best of this season.  And, I’m off to continue threading the loom.

Lovely day.


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