Here's the thing. Croissants are a waiting game. They're not hard to bake, they're just time consuming. But the from-scratch version is loads better than the kind you can buy pre-made in a tube and whack on the countertop to open. These croissants are flaky on the outside, and chewy on the inside. While they may not be perfect French pastries, they are certainly good enough for a homemade breakfast on a weekend morning.
Recipe is for 8 butter croissants and 8 chocolate croissants. If you don't need 16 croissants, cut the recipe in half. The proportions still work just fine.
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
320g warm water
440g pastry flour*
220g all purpose flour
400g butter, softened (plant-based or dairy)
Dark chocolate chips (for chocolate croissants)
Plant-Based Egg Wash Ingredients
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1/8 cup coconut or almond milk
Standard Egg Wash Ingredients
1 tablespoon water
1. Combine water and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment. Whisk for a moment. Then sprinkle yeast on top. Whisk to mix slightly. Allow to rest to activate the yeast for five minutes.
2. Add flours to mixing bowl, 1 cup at a time, mixing between. There should be no dry dough. Next add 20g of softened butter. Mix. Cover and let rise 1.5-2 hours.
3. Remove dough and slice into 24 equal pieces. A kitchen scale is helpful here. Melt the butter in a microwave or over the stove top in a bowl and set aside. I use a pasta machine lasagna noodle attachment for the next step. You may also use a rolling pin on a lightly floured work surface.
4. Roll one piece of dough very thinly into a 10x20" (approximate) rectangle. Carefully move to a piece of parchment paper. This is the base layer. Brush the dough from edge to edge with the melted butter. Repeat this step, rolling out each slice of dough and applying butter between until you have stacked 12 sheets. Do not brush butter on the top of the last sheet.
5. Repeat step four with the remaining 12 pieces of dough. This will create our second stack of croissants. Cover with a dish towel and allow all croissants to rise for 2 hours.
6. Roll each stack of dough into 12x24" rectangle. We are working to remove some of the air. Next make three horizontal cuts along the shorter width of the rectangle. We should have four sections in each stack.
7. Slice each of the four rectangle sections once in a horizontal line across the middle. We now have 8 triangles per stack.
8. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
FOR BUTTER CROISSANTS: To roll the croissants start by taking one triangle. Start at the wide end and tightly roll towards the slender point. Tuck the point underneath the croissant and set croissant, point side down, on the baking sheet. Repeat for all triangles.
FOR CHOCOLATE CROISSANTS: To roll the croissants start by taking one triangle. Place chocolate chips along the body of the triangle. I use about 10-12 chips per croissant. You can also melt the chocolate chips and brush onto the triangles before rolling. Start at the wide end and tightly roll towards the slender point. Tuck the point underneath the croissant and set croissant, point side down, on the baking sheet. Repeat for all triangles.
9. Cover the freshly rolled croissants with a towel and allow to rise 1.5 hours. You may also pause here and place the croissants in the refrigerator, allowing them to slow their rise and chill overnight. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for up to 12 hours if desired.
10. Heat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Create the egg wash by combining the plant-based ingredients in a small bowl (or the standard egg wash ingredients in a small bowl). Whisk to combine the wash ingredients. Gently brush the egg wash on top of each of the croissants. Bake for ten minutes. Lower the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Cook for 8 minutes more.
11. Remove the croissants when they are golden brown. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving. To store the croissants, wrap in an airtight container and keep in the refrigerator. Stores for 24 hours. If you wish to store the croissants longer, freezing is recommended.
*If pastry flour isn't available, you may substitute all purpose flour for this amount. Note that the texture of the pastry will be less flaky, and more dense... but still delicious.
Black Wound Salve for Backyard Poultry
Ducks, like any other living creature on the homestead, get hurt. I've built up quite the arsenal of first aid supplies over the years after dealing with all kinds of gnarly situations. Right alongside conventional medicinals, I also keep homemade balms and salves.
This is a topical recipe I created as an all purpose wound application. I use it on poultry (both chickens and geese) and even on myself at times. And it smells like lavender! It is safe for horses also.
Black Wound Salve for Backyard Poultry
1/2 cup unrefined coconut oil, melted
1 tablespoon beeswax pellets, melted
2 teaspoons raw honey
2 tablespoons activated charcoal
2 tablespoons bentonite clay
20 drops lavender essential oil
Combine all ingredients in a heat-safe bowl. Stir until fully combined. Pour the mixture into salve containers such as a mason jar with a wide mouth. The salve will solidify as it cools. Allow to cool fully before securing the lid.
To use, simply scoop a small amount of the salve onto your fingers. Gently rub the salve onto the wound of the bird. Covering with a clean bandage is best to avoid melting salve during the warmer months. Repeat as needed. Discontinue use if irritation or reaction occurs.
Why these ingredients?
Moisturizes skin, creates a protective barrier against bacteria, reduces inflammation
Reduces inflammation, fights infection, heals wounds (anti-bacterial and -viral)
Contains antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiviral and antifungal
Draws out bacteria and impurities
Contains antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties while absorbing dirt and oil
Lavender Essential Oil
Calming aromatherapy in addition to anti-inflammatory abilities
Quick Refrigerator Carrot Pickles
We're a pickle family. We're always trying local deli pickles, homemade pickle recipes and sharing fermented pickle tips with friends. Then I heard about Carrot Pickles and was so excited to give them a try; we had just harvested a large bushel of carrots from the garden. These are so tasty even my kids love them.
1 tsp. black peppercorns
1 tsp. whole mustard seeds
1/2 tsp. dried allspice berries
1 c. rice vinegar
1 c. water
1/4 c. granulated sugar
1 tbsp. kosher salt
1 lb. baby carrots, peeled
2 whole cloves garlic, peeled
In a small sauce pot over medium heat, combine the peppercorns, mustard seeds, and allspice berries and toast until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Next add vinegar, water, sugar, and salt and raise heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Once sugar is dissolved, remove from heat.
Tightly pack the baby carrots and garlic into two sterilized pint-sized glass jars and pour in brine while hot. Add the lid to the jar, refrigerate, and let sit at least 12 hours before serving.
This is not a shelf stable recipe for canning in a water bath or with a pressure cooker. This is a refrigerator pickle recipe only.
One of my favorite morning rituals is to bake breakfast for my family well before they are awake. I like it even more when most of the work has already been done the night before! These cinnamon rolls are super simple to make and the flavor is amazing with just a hint of lemon. When available, I love to use fresh lemon from our greenhouse lemon trees.
For the Dough
1 cup fed sourdough starter
3/4 coconut milk (dairy works too)
1 large egg (or flax egg for vegan)
4 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled (we use vegan butter)
3.25 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
For the Filling
3/4 cup brown sugar
1.5 tablespoons cinnamon
2 tablespoons butter, softened (we use vegan butter)
1/8 cup flour
For the Icing
1.5 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1-2 tablespoons coconut milk (dairy is fine too)
Mix all of the dough ingredients together in a large bowl and combine until a sticky dough forms. If using an electric mixer, stir ingredients on medium for about 2 minutes or until well mixed using a dough hook attachment.
Let the dough rest for 20 minutes, covered. While dough is resting, make the filling.
Roll the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface into a rectangle measuring about 20" long and 12" tall. Spread the filling over the dough in an even layer from edge to edge with the exception of one short side. Leave about 1/2" of space on one short end. Starting with the short end covered with filling, roll the dough jelly-roll style until you have reached the opposite side. Pinch the end to close along the body of the dough.
Using a very sharp knife or baker's twine, slice the cinnamon rolls into 10-12 even slices. Place in a greased baking sheet or a greased/well-seasoned cast iron skillet. Cover and allow to rise in the refrigerator over night.
In the morning, remove the cinnamon rolls and uncover. Allow to rest while oven heats to 400°F. Bake for 20-25 minutes until edges just begin to turn a dark golden color. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
While the cinnamon rolls are cooling, combine the ingredients for the icing. Start with one tablespoon of milk and add more to thin the icing if needed. Drizzle over cooled cinnamon rolls and serve immediately. Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator in an air-tight container for one or two days.
Farmhouse Sourdough Strawberry Shortcake
Fresh strawberries don't last very long around here. In my family strawberries are pretty much only fresh eaten; they never make it in the door! But if I can save a few to spare my go-to is this Sourdough Strawberry Shortcake. It's relatively healthy-ish and isn't loaded with processed sugar. Plus it's so refreshing for a summer evening.
Ingredients for the Biscuits
2.5 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 tsp pink Himalayan salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
6 tablespoons softened butter (we use vegan butter)
1 cup sourdough discard (unfed)
1/4 cup raw honey
1/4 cup milk (we use coconut milk)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Ingredients for the Berries
1 tablespoon lemon juice
4 cups raw strawberries, ends cut and sliced
1/4 cup raw honey
Directions for the Biscuits
Combine all of the biscuit ingredients into the mixing bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Mix on medium for two to three minutes, until a smooth dough forms. Roll out on a lightly floured surface to 1/4 to 1/2" thick. Using pastry cutters, cut out 2 or 3" circles. Set aside on a parchment lined baking sheet. There should be roughly 12 biscuits. Cover the biscuits with a cloth and allow to rise for two hours. After two hours heat the oven to 425F. Bake for 8-10 minutes just until edges are slightly browned. Remove and allow to cool.
Directions for Berries
While the biscuits are rising combine the lemon juice, strawberries and honey in a bowl. Toss to coat evenly and allow flavors to meld in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
To plate the shortcake start with one biscuit. Spoon on top a generous layer of strawberries. Repeat with another biscuit and another spoonful of berries. Serve as is or garnish with whipped cream or vanilla bean ice cream.
Spicy pea pasta
I grew up in an Italian family, practically raised on pasta. My mom cooked different types of spaghetti recipes from different family members plus favorites from family-owned restaurants. I learned, especially after visiting Italy, that the secret to perfect pasta is simple flavors without a lot of fuss. Dishes don't need to take hours; a beautiful pasta meal can be made in 20 minutes or less. This is a spin I created off the classic Aglio e Olio (Garlic and Oil) and is one of our go-to dinners in our household.
1-2 Tablespoons olive oil
6 large cloves of garlic, sliced
1 teaspoon or more of crushed red pepper
2/3 cup fresh or thawed frozen peas
1 pound thin spaghetti or angel hair pasta
Boil the pasta according to package directions. Reserve one cup of pasta water and set aside. Drain pasta.
In a large skillet, drizzle the pan with olive oil and heat to medium high heat. Once the oil is hot add the garlic cloves and crushed red pepper. Do not allow to brown; only cook for about one minute.
Add the peas and cook one minute more. Next add the pasta water to the pan and simmer for 4-5 minutes. Lastly, add the drained pasta and toss to coat. Allow to meld in the pan for one or two more minutes. Then remove from heat and serve.
Optional Toppings or Garnishes: Bacon (we use veggie bacon), additional crushed red pepper, a slice of lemon or a small sprinkle of Parmesan
These sourdough biscuits are flavorful, buttery, vegan and perfect for dipping in pot pie or your favorite local honey. They come together easy so long as you have freshly fed sourdough starter on hand.
1 cup flour, sifted
1/3 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
6 Tbsp cold vegan butter (regular if you prefer), cubed
1 cup fed sourdough starter
Preheat the oven to 425°F. In a mixing bowl combine flour, salt, and baking powder. Stir to combine. Next add cold cubed butter and mix with your fingers to form crumbs. Once a flaky, crumbly consistency is reached add sourdough starter. Mix lightly to incorporate and then turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until all ingredients are well mixed. Roll out to about 3/4” thick and cut into biscuits. Place on parchment lined baking sheet. Reroll scraps and cut again until all of the dough is used. Place baking sheet in heated oven and bake for 12-15 minutes until golden brown.
5-Minute power breakfast bowl
I’m not a big breakfast person. But I have noticed that if/when I don’t eat in the morning, I am much more likely to snack throughout the day, most likely on junk that’s quick and accessible. This breakfast bowl is quick and easy to make, is full of protein to keep me feeling full and loaded with nutrients.
1/2 cup buckwheat cereal groats
1 cup of coconut or nut milk + a splash for later
1 sliced banana
1 Tablespoon cacao nibs
1 Tablespoon goji berries
1 teaspoon of chia seeds
1 teaspoon hemp seeds
A drizzle of maple syrup
Mix buckwheat groats and milk in a cereal bowl. Microwave for 2.5-3 minutes. Stir and add a splash of coconut or nut milk to thin. Top with remaining ingredients and drizzle with maple syrup.
OXalic Acid honeybee dribble
Oxalic acid is a naturally occurring acid within the hive. We can use this acid from common wood bleach, sold at most hardware stores, to create a last varroa mite treatment for the fall before we seal the hives for winter. Keeping our bees varroa free greatly increases their chances of winter survival. When the bees are clustered in their hive in late fall, find a day where the temperatures reach 50ºF or greater. Here in Central New Jersey, we perform our Oxalic Acid Dribble treatment around Thanksgiving.
600mL warm water
35g wood bleach
600g white table sugar (roughly 3 cups)
Mix the warm water and wood bleach until the bleach crystals are dissolved. Next add the table sugar and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Test the temperature to ensure it will not scald the bees.
To apply to the bees, dribble with a syringe at the rate of 5mL per seam. A seam is the gap or space between the frames within the hive. Do not exceed more than 50mL per colony. Again, ensure the temperature outdoors is around 50ºF.
White rustic pizza with lemon & rosemary
We Italians take our pizza extremely seriously. Homemade pie is served up in our household at least once per week and while the kids have their usual favorite, I prefer to vary it up and try new combinations. This recent recipe, inspired by my first lemon harvest from my own tree, is a definite keeper. And note that the term “white pizza” doesn’t imply white sauce. A white pizza means there simply is no sauce so we rely on the flavors of rosemary and fresh lemon in this recipe to give our tastebuds the burst of flavor.
For the cracker crust (makes two crusts)
1 cup all purpose flour plus more for dusting
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
6 Tablespoons water
2 Tablespoons olive oil
For the toppings
3 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1 shallot, thinly sliced
One container of mozzarella cheese balls (small size)
1 Meyer lemon, thinly sliced
1 Tablespoon dried rosemary
1/2 Tablespoon dried parsley
olive oil for drizzling
salt and pepper
A handful of arugula for sprinkling on top (about 1/2 cup) - optional
Start by preparing the crust. Add all crust ingredients to the bowl of an electric mixer equipped with a dough hook. Mix until all ingredients are well combined. While mixing place a baking stone inside the oven if desired and preheat the oven to 500°F.
Divide the dough into two equal parts. On a sheet of parchment paper dusted with flour, roll out one of the two balls of dough into a circular shape until it is thin. The crust will measure about 1/8” thick and the pizza crust size should form roughly a 10” circle. Poke holes throughout the center of the pizza with a fork to prevent air bubbles. With a pizza peel or a cookie sheet, slide the crust into the fully heated oven (onto the baking stone if using, or place the parchment paper directly on the oven rack). Close the door and bake for 2 minutes. This allows for a crispier crust.
Remove the crust and parchment paper and leave on pizza peel or cookie sheet while assembling toppings. Add garlic and shallots. Top with cheese. Next add thinly sliced lemon and seasonings. Slide the pizza back into the oven and cook for about 5 minutes or until the pizza has browned to your liking. Pull from the oven and immediately drizzle with olive oil, and a bit of salt and pepper to taste. Let rest for about 2 minutes. When ready to serve, cut into slices. Eat as is or top with fresh arugula.
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