Mushberry Smoothie

While on our first (annual?) week-long getaway to the coast, we noticed little E was a bit preoccupied with the berries.  Like his mama and his aunts, he loves the sweet fruits of summer – berries of all kinds, cherries, and almost anything that will dye your fingers scarlet red.

We had just completed a little jaunt on Cape Cod’s “Rails to Trails” bike path, a beautiful 22 mile bike path that traces a former railroad right of way through the mid-Cape region.    Not to worry, this biking trip went better than my last.  And it was quite a threecleversister endeavor, by the way.  Sara and Marie donned helmets and rode bikes for the first time in a decade or two (see – you never forget!).  Paul pulled along E who pedaled as he chose, and I carted little H in a carrier.    Dad, brought up the rear, fairly amused that we were all on bikes.

E on the Tag-Along.Learning to bike

H probably had the best part of the deal.King H

Pull-along

Afterwards, E was talking a lot about mushberries.  He had been bringing up mushberries throughout the week.  I thought it was because he liked to “mush” them up, but Paul, who had smoothies on the brain, thought he wanted to make a smoothie.  Only later did I learn the reference was to the beloved Max and Ruby–where the ever troublesome little brother Max mashes up all of his sister Ruby’s berries in his cement truck! Regardless, one thing led to another…

Morning smoothie making

Mushberry Smoothie

1 cup of milk

1 banana

1 (adult-size) handful of blueberries

½ cup of ice

¼ cup to ½ cup of plain Greek yogurt

Splash of orange juice

Blend it up!  Depending on your preferences, add more or less liquid.

Adult portion

Kid’s portion

Blueberry Muscovado Coffee Cake

So, the title I’ve bestowed upon this cake is a bit of a mouthful.  (I’m also not going to try to turn that into a food pun, just in case you were worried.  You can keep reading without trepidation).

Mark, one of my good friends from law school, his wife Anna, and sons were up from New York over Labor Day weekend and we planned for them to come over that Monday morning.  We went to law school together and somehow kept ending up in all the same classes–from first year criminal law and civil procedure, to both landing summer internships in Sarajevo (yes, really!) to bankruptcy 3L year (the last few weeks of which saw Mark dashing out more than once at a text from Anna, who was due to go into labor with their first any day).   Nowadays, we even work at the same law firm, albeit in different offices.

Sometimes you just keep running into the same people, and in cases like this, it’s a good thing.

But we hadn’t seen each others’ respective broods for some time, if we’ve met the little ones at all.  Now that firstborn who attended our wedding as a crawler is in second grade, and Mark and Anna’s second boy is 2 1/2, just between my preschooler and toddler.

Of course, this immediately sent me planning out the morning table.  Brunch is one of my favorites–plenty of excuses to bake!  We fried up our CSA bacon (which I made in our new griddle, which turned out to be way to shallow for fatty heritage breed pork), brewed up coffee (four young boys between us all–need I say more?) and I made this:  I had a few things in mind when I went thinking about what to make.  I wanted a recipe using yogurt:  I always have plenty of glass jars in the fridge gleaming white with my most recent homemade batch, and yogurt results in a tender crumb.  I wanted something a bit unique, and so I got on my toes and pulled the muscovado sugar off the top shelf– that ultra dark, ultra flavorful, ultra special cousin of ordinary brown sugar — you may remember seeing it here on Valentine’s day.  And blueberries, because, well, aren’t blueberries just sort of required for breakfast baking?

One of the best things in the world is friends who, no matter how long its been, you can pick up with wherever you left off (especially as the intervening birthdays pile up).   Though hopefully, it won’t be too long until that next time we get together.

Brown Sugar Blueberry Yogurt Coffee Cake (recipe adapted from the Washington Post and 101 Cookbooks)

Cake

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • pinch nutmeg
  • 1 1/4 cups plain yogurt
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 teaspoon muscovado brown sugar or dark brown sugar
  • 1 large egg plus 2 large egg whites (I think you could also simply use two eggs).
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups blueberries (I used frozen blueberries)

Crumb topping

  • 3/4 c whole wheat or whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 c rolled oats
  • 1/2 c muscovado or dark brown sugar
  • scant 1/2 t salt
  • 1/3 c unsalted butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter a springform pan.

For the crumble, stir together the flour, sugar, oats, and salt.  Stir in the melted butter.  Put in the refrigerator.

For the cake, combine the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg in a large bowl, whisking to mix well.

In a separate medium bowl, stir together the yogurt, canola oil, the brown sugar, eggs and vanilla extract.

Stir the yogurt mixture into the dry ingredients, only until just combined (lumps are OK).  With a spatula, gently fold in the blueberries.  Pour into the prepared springform pan and sprinkle the crumble on top to cover.

Because I used frozen blueberries (not defrosted and straight from the freezer!) my cake took about 50 minutes to bake, but if using fresh blueberries bank on 25-35 minutes.   Either way, a tester should come out clean when done, and the cake should be well risen (see the before and after shots below).  If the crumble topping starts to brown too quickly, cover with aluminum foil until the cake is done.

Serve warm, tastes best when accompanied by conversation with good friends.

Raspberry Yogurt Cake

Last summer, little E and I went raspberry picking.  I wasn’t sure how it would go with a (then) 2 1/2 year old.  Would he be distracted by a mud puddle?  Would more raspberries end up in his belly than the pail (as happened in his favorite Blueberries for Sal?)  But he impressed me.  He quickly learned to avoid the unripe berries, and though there were a few blushing yellow berries that plunked, stem and all, into our buckets, all in all we had a good haul.  I spread the berries on a cookie sheet and froze them individually, and then slid them into a bag.

One cup of these beehive-shaped fruits remained from our excursion together, just enough for a simple winter snacking cake inspired by a recipe from the Gourmet archives (and which was featured by Daniel).  Just barely sweet, homey, and tender.  This is not a fancy cake, but rather like a cozy blanket to snuggle into when spring is just stubbornly not coming.  The berries cook down into intense pockets of jam scattered throughout the moist crumb.   Rather than frosting, sugar sprinkled over the top melts into a subtly crunchy crust.

An everyday cake for any day of the week,  with maybe a dab of whipped cream or creme fraiche to dress it up for Saturday night.   But me and little E enjoyed it straight out of the pan.

 

 Yogurt Raspberry Cake

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg 
  • 1/2 cup low-fat yogurt (if using thick yogurt, thin with a little milk)
  • 1 cup frozen raspberries, defrosted, or fresh
  • 1 1/2T brown sugar

Preheat oven to 400F. Butter and flour a 9-inch round cake pan.  Whisk the flour, baking soda, baking power and salt togther, then set aside.  Beat the butter and sugar together with an electric mixer until fluffy, a few minutes.  Beat in the egg and then the vanilla.  Add 1/3 of the flour mixture and beat in, then 1/2 the yogurt, then add another 1/3 of the flour mixture and the rest of the yogurt.  Stir in the last of the flour mix, but only until it’s just mixed in.  Spread the batter into the prepared cake pan.  Cast the berriees over the top, and sprinkle with brown sugar.  Bake the cake until it is golden and a tester comes out clean (about 25 or 30 minutes).  Allow to cool in the pan 10 minutes, then invert onto a rack.   Allow to cool another 10 minutes or so and enjoy warm.

Yogurt!

We all know that I am a big fan of dairy.  I go through a lot of yogurt.  My favorite is plain Greek-style with jam.  But I love all those Turkish recipes that use yogurt–for example, meatballs flavored with onion, cumin, and coriander served on a bed of yogurt and tomatoes:

Turkish style meatballs and yogurt.

I love real frozen yogurt ice cream, like I had in the Czech Republic.  It actually tastes like yogurt and has that delicious tang, unlike many frozen yogurts that taste just like ice cream pretending to be “healthy”.  (Look, it’s still a dessert, even if it is “yogurt”).  I have made yogurt soup.  I even love that yogurt drink (once again) popular in Turkey that is basically like drinking thinned plain yogurt.  Yes, I love yogurt!

No surprise, then that I have been wanting to make yogurt on my own for some time.  I feel slightly guilty for getting a machine to do this, but I figured it would be easier to fit into my schedule that way.  So for mother’s day, I got a yogurt machine (yes, in addition to the cheese kit.  Quite a dairy theme going on  here).  I picked this particular yogurt maker, rather than one that makes a whole pint, because I love the little glass jars.  Reminds me of those cute little yogurts they sell in France in glass.

Ingredients for yogurt

I decided to splurge a bit on the milk–I got milk from Highlawn Farm, made in the Berkshires from Jersey cows–they produce a higher calcium, higher protein milk than the Holsteins that are typically used.  It’s a bit more expensive than organic milk, (and this variety is not organic, but it is hormone-free), but only marginally.  The actual process of making the yogurt is pretty easy–you have to boil the milk briefly (though I think that’s not necessary if you are content with a softer yogurt), mix in some yogurt as a starter (I used some trader joe’s Greek yogurt), pour into the yogurt maker, and set the timer.  I used whole milk and “cooked” it for 7 hours.  You have to “cook” slightly longer if you use lower-fat milk.

Boiled Milk

I was surprised at how sweet the yogurt was, especially as I had used Greek yogurt as a starter.  It did get more of a tang as the days went by, as I had expected.  My yogurt maker says I can’t use leftovers from the previous batch as a starter more than once, which I find surprising–from everything I’ve read about yogurt making, you only need the starter one time.  Why would it be any different if using a machine?

My favorite way to enjoy.

My favorite way to enjoy.

The one drawback to making the yogurt in the small containers is using bulk amounts for recipes, but as I only do that from time to time I figure I can buy it.  Eventually perhaps I’d like to make my own using the more traditional (i.e. non-electric) method, as Mariannika did (using the same McGee method I read about with great interest in the NYT) or as discussed here.  I’m hardly worried about having an overabundance of yogurt, after all.