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Ellen’s Sweet Recipes

Lavender Meyer Lemon Bars: Recipe

Every year for my birthday, my pal Cayce sends me a box of Meyer lemons, foraged from her Bay Area neighborhood. What a great gift! This year I’ve been using them to perfect a lemon bar recipe. But it’s no ordinary lemon bar. This lemon bar has lavender baked into the shortbread crust. (more…)

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Mugwort Steamed Buns: Recipe

I’m not sure how to categorize this recipe. It’s a little bit sweet, a little bit savory, it’s the size of a muffin and the texture of a sponge cake, it’s moist, it’s herbal, it’s terrific dunked in coffee or tea. Mugwort steamed buns can be served for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, and any snacking opportunity in between. (more…)

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Spruce Tip Shortbread Cookies: Recipe

Spruce tip shortbread cookies make a great holiday treat. There’s no reason not to make these cookies year ’round, but I think there’s something especially wintery about evergreens, don’t you? You’ll be surprised by the bright, almost lemony flavor spruce tips add to this cookie. It’s the perfect counterbalance to the rich, buttery shortbread. Many evergreens have edible parts, including pine, spruce, fir, and hemlock. If spruce doesn’t grow near you, substitute one of these other evergreens. (more…)

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Shagbark Hickory Syrup: Recipe

I’m fascinated with the idea of making tree syrups, but tapping multiple maples, and boiling vast quantities of sap for hours is a little daunting. Plus, I don’t live somewhere I can tap a lot of trees. So I was thrilled to learn I could make a quicker, easier syrup by boiling the bark of the shagbark hickory tree (Carya ovata). It’s easy to harvest bark without damaging the tree, and the syrup is light, sweet, and has a distinctive smoky flavor. You will not be surprised to learn it also makes an excellent cocktail ingredient. (more…)

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Chestnut Mousse Recipe: So Rich, So Good

Chestnuts are wonderful, versatile things, as useful in sweet desserts (like this irresistible chestnut mousse) as they are in savory dishes. Their high starch content makes them softer and creamier than most nuts. (Fun fact: chestnuts contain twice as much starch as potatoes!) In places where chestnuts are a native crop, they’re often used as vegetables rather than nuts. Some of the most delicious chestnuts I’ve eaten were in Greece; they were roasted with onions in a light tomato sauce. Chestnuts are the only nut that contains vitamin C, and unlike most nuts, they contain very little fat, making them a low calorie choice in the foraged nut department. Not that this recipe is low cal. I make no apologies for the cream, egg yolks, rum, and sugar. This is a wonderful dessert for a special occasion, and probably my favorite way to use chestnuts. (more…)

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Silverberry Quick Bread: Recipe

As the weather gets colder and the days get shorter, my thoughts turn to comfort food. I look forward to a hot cup of tea at the end of a long day and when I have a piece of toasted silverberry quick bread to go with that tea, I don’t even mind that it’s dark at 4 pm. Well, I mind less.  (more…)

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Acorn Baklava (with a dash of Spicebush Berry)

When I was in Wisconsin last month, I taught a Forage to Table weekend with Melissa Price. We made a hortopita, and talked about other foraged foods we could make with phyllo dough. We also worked with acorns that weekend, and Sharon Hahn (thank you, Sharon Hahn!) asked if I’d ever made acorn baklava. “Why no, Sharon, I never thought of that. But that’s a helluva good idea!” I promised Sharon credit for inspiring this recipe, and boy does she deserve it. I’m not sure I ever would have thought of it myself. (more…)

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Concord Grape Mousse Recipe

This Concord grape mousse is an excellent late-summer, early-fall dessert, capturing the full, rich flavor of ripe grapes in a light and fluffy mousse. And while it’s made with gelatin, I hesitate to call it jello, because when most of us hear the word jello, we remember bright green, jiggling molds filled with mandarin orange slices. This is definitely not that. This is a creamy, fruity, sophisticated dessert for grape lovers of all ages. (more…)

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Apricot Crumble Squares: Recipe

Apricots are a common street tree in Santa Fe. Many years we don’t get fruit, because a late frost zaps the flowers before they can be pollinated. But this year we’ve had an abundance of apricots, and they’ve been ripening gradually, over a period of six weeks. So much fruit falls to the ground, unappreciated (perhaps even cursed) by the home owners who own the trees. I’m happy to do a little cleanup and glean the best of the bunch. I give you here the first of several summer apricot recipes: apricot crumble squares. This is what August in Santa Fe tastes like. (more…)

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Low Carb Black Raspberry Parfait Recipe

Ok, this recipe is a little unusual for me. First, because it’s based on a store-bought product, second because it’s low carb. But here’s the thing, my husband has just been diagnosed with diabetes, so I’m experimenting with dessert recipes he can enjoy with me. (It doesn’t seem fair to ask him to watch me eat dessert, does it?) So what if it’s based on store-bought jello…the addition of fresh fruit makes this black raspberry parfait special. Easy, low carb, and delicious. What more could you ask of a cool, summer dessert? (more…)

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