7 British Pantry Staples to Stock Up on For Your Next Bake

Golden syrup and clotted cream are everyday ingredients in the U.K., yet many Americans have never even heard of them. These British staples are crucial for classic desserts like treacle tarts and roly-poly pudding—you may only have seen while watching…

Golden syrup and clotted cream are everyday ingredients in the U.K., yet many Americans have never even heard of them. These British staples are crucial for classic desserts like treacle tarts and roly-poly pudding—you may only have seen while watching The Great British Baking Show.

Compared to American doughnuts and cream pies, “English desserts are often a bit more low-key, simple, classic,” says Martha de Lacey, host of the cult London supper club, Muffdining.

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Apple Cider Moscow Mules

The original Apple Cider Moscow Mule recipe! This cocktail is a fall twist on a classic Moscow Mule. It’s a lightly spiced mule and is easy to make, and best served in a copper mug to keep it icy cold. It’s one of our favorite apple cider c…

The original Apple Cider Moscow Mule recipe! This cocktail is a fall twist on a classic Moscow Mule. It’s a lightly spiced mule and is easy to make, and best served in a copper mug to keep it icy cold. It’s one of our favorite apple cider cocktails to make! We had to put the […]

The post Apple Cider Moscow Mules appeared first on Sugar and Charm.

Do I Really Need to Bake With Cake Flour?

There’s something soothing about following directions for baked goods, knowing that the final product will turn out just right if you abide by the precise measurements. I love to bake everything from elaborate birthday cakes to buttery biscuits to fudg…

There’s something soothing about following directions for baked goods, knowing that the final product will turn out just right if you abide by the precise measurements. I love to bake everything from elaborate birthday cakes to buttery biscuits to fudgy brownies, but sometimes I get a little lazy when it comes to using the appropriate ingredients (who doesn’t?). For example, when I see that a recipe calls for cake flour instead of all-purpose flour, I tend to turn my cheek and proceed with all-purpose, not wanting to make a last-minute run to the store. While the swap turns out okay, the final product is never quite as fluffy and light as it should be.

I did some digging to find out: is it really worth buying cake flour in addition to AP flour? What makes cake flour necessary for certain baked goods? And what’s the difference between all-purpose flour and cake flour, anyway?

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What’s the Deal With Finger Limes?

Australian finger limes (aka citrus australasica) are one of the silliest types of citrus fruit—and we mean that in the best way possible. They resemble short, stubby fingers and bear the nickname “caviar limes.” Finger limes are a ty…

Australian finger limes (aka citrus australasica) are one of the silliest types of citrus fruit—and we mean that in the best way possible. They resemble short, stubby fingers and bear the nickname “caviar limes.” Finger limes are a type of tiny citrus fruit—a microcitrus actually—that are native to Australia (specifically the coastal region of Queensland and New South Wales). Their name comes from the fact that they are about the size and shape of a finger (they max out at around 3 inches in length), and both the peel and the pulp come in a rainbow of colors. The pulp (more properly called juice vesicles) of most citrus fruit looks like elongated teardrops, but finger lime’s vesicles are tiny little balls—a tart, fruit “caviar” that holds its shape until the beads burst in your mouth (in case their diminutive size and wide range of colors weren't enough fun for you).

Look for finger limes at specialty grocery stores—in some parts of California, you might be able to find finger limes at your farmers’ market. So how do you go about choosing the brightest, juiciest ones? Select finger limes with brightly-colored skin. Small brown patches won’t affect the flavor, but steer clear of specimens with dull, dry, shriveled skin (they’re past their prime). Like any other citrus fruit, store finger limes in the refrigerator, wrapped in plastic for a couple of weeks. If you don’t have any luck finding them locally, you can always order them online. Better yet, grow your own with the Via Citrus Finger Lime Tree from our shop. Each tree ships directly from Florida and includes clear care instructions so even novice gardeners can grow beautiful finger limes (assuming that you have a bright, sunny spot where the plant can thrive).

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Fennel Is, Without a Doubt, Our Favorite Spring Herb

Every week we get Down & Dirty, in which we break down our favorite unique seasonal fruits, vegetables, and more.
 

This week we’ve got fronds on the brain—fennel fronds, that is. You can find fresh fennel year round, but it reall…

Every week we get Down & Dirty, in which we break down our favorite unique seasonal fruits, vegetables, and more.
 
This week we’ve got fronds on the brain—fennel fronds, that is. You can find fresh fennel year round, but it really peaks during spring. Once you get your hands on fennel, you’ll probably be taken by the pleasant, anise-like aroma and then immediately think to yourself: “Okay…but what do I do with this?” Because as cool as fennel is to look at, and as lovely as it smells, it’s not the most common herb to cook with. Adding crushed fennel seeds to meatballs? Duh! But roasted fresh fennel wedges as part of a weeknight meal? Can’t say that’s exactly in my repertoire. 
 
So if you want to start cooking with fennel, we’ll go over what to look for when selecting fennel, how to store it, and how to use every part of the plant from bulb to stalk to fronds—and more! Licorice haters fear not, there might be hope for you and fennel after all.
 

What to Look For

First things first: select small to medium-sized white fennel bulbs that are heavy and firm with bright green feathery fronds. Avoid bulbs that are really large, have moist spots, or appear shriveled and dried out. If there are brown spots, leave the fennel on the shelf. Bulbs and stalks should be free of cracks, splits, and any discoloration or bruising.
 
The fennel you buy at the market is also known as bulb fennel, Florence fennel, or finocchio, though due to its similar flavor, it sometimes gets confused with anise. Fact: anise is an entirely different plant, but the two do come together to flavor absinthe. (Think about that the next time you sip one of these.) 
 
As for fennel seeds, you’ll find those with other dried spices. For reference, they’re a little bit bigger than chia seeds but smaller than cardamom pods. You can use them whole or crush them in a mortar and pestle so they’re more powder-like, removing some of the texture while highlighting their pungent earthy flavor.
 

How to Store Fennel

Similar to carrots, if you’re storing fennel in the fridge, you’ll want to separate the stalks from the bulb and store the two parts separately in plastic bags. Because of the delicate nature of the fronds, they tend to go bad more quickly than the bulbs. For a non-plastic-encased option, try storing fennel upright in a cup of water on the counter like a bouquet of flowers. Either way, try to use your fennel within a few days—any more than that, and it starts to lose flavor.
 

Root-to-Stem Dining

Like celery, the entire fennel plant can be consumed—there’s a ton of flavor in every part of it. Here's how to make the most of every last bit.
 

Bulb 

If you’re still craving comfort foods, try roasted fennel on a flatbread, paired with celery in a gratin, or with braised potatoes. To roast fennel, cut the bulbs lengthwise, cut out the core, and slice it as thin or thick as you like. Toss the fennel with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and roast in a 425℉ over for 25 to 30 minutes. Spring can’t come fast enough? Then use your fennel bulb in a Greek salad or a shaved salad with celery. If you're not a fan of licorice, ease yourself into fennel's charms by roasting it. Pair it with couscous, or blend it into this white bean dip; roasting fennel will bring out its sweetness and soften its flavor.

Stalks

According to The Barbeque! Bible, you can dry fennel stalks in the oven to preserve them. Just remove all fronds, and arrange the stalks in one layer on a baking sheet. Bake them at 200°F for 3 hours, then turn off the heat and let them hang out in the oven overnight to finish drying. Mark Bittman suggests grilling fish on the stalks (keep the fronds attached for this one, or use your just-dried stalks), and they can also be used to make broths, infused oils, or in place of celery in dishes.
 

Fronds

Chop up the fronds and use them like you would other fresh herbs. They're lovely in a pesto, an egg or potato salad, or as a garnish, like on this soup.
 

Seeds

You’re probably familiar with seeing fennel seeds in sausages and stews (those “seeds” are actually fruits, but everyone refers to them as seeds). Aside from using them in crackers or a genius cabbage recipe, their subtle licorice flavor and nuttiness can even serve as a zippy breath freshener!
 

Pollen

It may be a little more elusive, but fennel pollen has some diehard fans. It's been said that “If angels sprinkled a spice from their wings, this would be it.” Sold yet? The pollen can be sprinkled on meat and fish, paired with mushrooms, or even with ice cream. Look for it in specialty stores or online, or if you have fennel in your garden, you can let it go to seed and collect your own: be patient, forgo harvesting the bulbs, and you'll be rewarded with sunny yellow pollen-filled flowers. If you want to be truly wild, go foraging.

There are so many more ways you can use fennel and all of its parts. What's your favorite way to eat it?

This article was updated in April 2022 by our editors, who wanted to show off their love for fennel again.

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9 Essential Tools for Cooking All the Vegetables

As with any other kitchen, what is considered essential in a vegetable-forward kitchen depends on what you like to cook. If you like stir-fries, then you might want to grab a wok. If you have a fondness for braising, as I do, then you might rely heavil…

As with any other kitchen, what is considered essential in a vegetable-forward kitchen depends on what you like to cook. If you like stir-fries, then you might want to grab a wok. If you have a fondness for braising, as I do, then you might rely heavily on a shallow Le Creuset braising pan

While I've listed some of my favorite, most essential tools, I didn't mention my food mill, which I use only for two purposes (tomato sauce and applesauce) yet wouldn't be without, or my salad spinner. Nor did I mention hands, which are the best tools for feeling the food you're cooking; or noses, for smelling; or ears, for hearing when a process subtly changes on the stove; or eyes for discerning the beauty or flaw contained in a vegetable. You don't have to buy these; you're equipped with your senses already.

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Easy Goat Cheese Appetizer

This warm goat cheese appetizer is perfect for entertaining! Just 4 ingredients make this tasty dip for crostini or crackers.…

A Couple Cooks – Recipes worth repeating.

This warm goat cheese appetizer is perfect for entertaining! Just 4 ingredients make this tasty dip for crostini or crackers.

Goat Cheese Appetizer

Our favorite recipes for easy entertaining? Those that have minimal ingredients and prep time, but achieve maximum flavor. There’s no better example of that than this warm goat cheese appetizer! It’s got just 4 ingredients, takes just 10 minutes to bake, and tastes like an absolute dream. The tangy, gooey goat cheese against the citrusy marmalade and herbaceous thyme is pure bliss. It’s become a total go-to in our house: and we know it will be for years to come.

Ingredients in this goat cheese appetizer

Guests are coming? Quick, grab these four ingredients for a crowd-pleaser that will have everyone parked around the dish. The simplicity here is magic: the creaminess of the cheese with the sweet tart marmalade is the perfect combination. Here are the only ingredients you’ll need for this goat cheese appetizer:

  • Goat cheese log (aka chevre)
  • Marmalade or jam or any kind
  • Pistachios
  • Fresh thyme

Throw the goat cheese into the oven with the marmalade and bake 10 minutes, then top with chopped nuts and fresh thyme sprigs. The oven warms it so it’s spreadable on crackers or crostini. It’s so simple and perfect for any occasion: dinner parties, Easter, Christmas, Thanksgiving, and everything in between.

Goat Cheese Appetizer

Variation ideas

There are endless variations on this goat cheese appetizer idea! I sent this to my mother and she made it the same day using blueberry preserves! Here are some ideas:

  • Preserves and jam: Use orange apricot marmalade like we do, or any type of preserves. Good flavor pairings with goat cheese are blueberry, blackberry, fig, and tomato jam.
  • Nuts: Use any type of chopped nuts! Instead of pistachios, use almonds, pecans, walnuts or hazelnuts.
  • Herbs: The fresh thyme has a distinct flavor here that we highly recommend! You can substitute dried thyme if desired. Chopped chives, rosemary or sage would also work.

Serving this goat cheese appetizer

Pull this goat cheese appetizer out of the oven, and you can serve it immediately! Baking the cheese is key, because it makes it warm enough to be spreadable. Here are a few ideas to use for dipping in:

Goat Cheese Appetizer

Tip for making in advance and taking to a party

Taking this goat cheese appetizer to a party? Here’s what to do:

  • Bake first. Bake it your house, then cover the dish in foil and warp it a towel to keep it warm. It should stay warm for about 20 minutes this way.
  • Bake at the party. Or, have the host preheat the oven for you in advance! Pop it in right when you get to the party.
Goat Cheese Appetizer

More goat cheese recipes

This goat cheese appetizer is one in a long list of favorite recipes starring this ingredient! (We’re goat cheese fanatics, in case you couldn’t tell.) Here are some great goat cheese recipes to try:

This goat cheese appetizer recipe is…

Vegetarian and gluten-free (using gluten-free crackers).

Print
Goat Cheese Appetizer

Easy Goat Cheese Appetizer


  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 8

Description

This warm goat cheese appetizer is perfect for entertaining! Just 4 ingredients make this tasty dip for crostini or crackers.


Ingredients

  • 10 ounces goat cheese log
  • ½ cup orange apricot marmalade, or preserves or jam of any flavor*
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped pistachios
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme (or 1 teaspoon dried thyme)
  • Crostini, bread or crackers, for serving

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Spread ⅓ cup of the preserves in a small baking dish. Add the goat cheese log. Top with 2 tablespoons of the preserves. Bake for 10 minutes.
  3. Remove the dish from the oven and top with pistachios and fresh thyme. Use as a dip for crostini, bread, or crackers.

Notes

*Other great options are blueberry, blackberry, fig, tomato jam, and more.

  • Category: Appetizer
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: Appetizer
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Keywords: Goat cheese appetizer

A Couple Cooks - Recipes worth repeating.

What Exactly Is Tahini?

You know tahini as the lead actor in hummus, tahini dressing, and our favorite dairy-free chocolate chip cookies. But with its nutty flavor, smooth and creamy texture, and vegan-friendly ingredients list, you might wonder, “what exactly is tahini anywa…

You know tahini as the lead actor in hummus, tahini dressing, and our favorite dairy-free chocolate chip cookies. But with its nutty flavor, smooth and creamy texture, and vegan-friendly ingredients list, you might wonder, “what exactly is tahini anyway?” Well, it’s made from sesame seeds…and more sesame seeds…and more sesame seeds…and that’s really it! The seeds are ground until they form a thin paste-like sauce—it’s the same process for making any type of nut butter, except that instead of cashews or almonds, you’re using sesame seeds! Tahini is vegan, gluten-free, and nut-free; unless you have a sesame allergy, it’s totally safe to eat.

How to Store Tahini

Tahini lasts forever. Okay…not quite, but close! According to Seed & Mill, a jar of unopened tahini will last for up to 18 months if stored in a cool, dry place. Once opened, tahini will last for 12 months. “We recommend storing your tahini in the fridge to slow the natural separation of oil, which may start to occur after a few months,” says the brand. But just like natural nut butters, oil separation is pretty standard and not a sign that your product is spoiled; it just means that you need to give it a good stir to reincorporate the oil and ground sesame seeds.

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The Definitive Guide to Making Pulled Pork

Each week this summer, Cara Nicoletti of The Meat Hook is helping us get to know our favorite cuts a little bit better – and introducing you to a few new ones, too. Read on, study up, then hightail it to your nearest butcher.
Today: We’re showing…

Each week this summer, Cara Nicoletti of The Meat Hook is helping us get to know our favorite cuts a little bit better – and introducing you to a few new ones, too. Read on, study up, then hightail it to your nearest butcher.

Today: We're showing you how to make classic homemade pulled pork, no Southern smokepit required.   

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Homemade Powdered Sugar? It’s Way Easier Than You Think

As a professional baker, I always have powdered sugar on hand. In my line of work, it’s safe to assume that at a moment’s notice, I’ll need to dust a torte, whip meringue, toss puppy chow together, or make chocolate fudge. It’s not that I regularly mak…

As a professional baker, I always have powdered sugar on hand. In my line of work, it’s safe to assume that at a moment's notice, I’ll need to dust a torte, whip meringue, toss puppy chow together, or make chocolate fudge. It’s not that I regularly make my own powdered sugar (I promise I’m not THAT person)—or that buying some is particularly strenuous or expensive—but it’s handy to know how to make homemade powdered sugar for two big reasons.

Sometimes you find yourself without confectioners’ sugar and the thought of running to the grocery store doesn’t appeal in the slightest. Maybe it’s a snow day and you need some to make homemade marshmallows for a cup of hot cocoa, or it’s hours away from your little one’s birthday and you're frantically trying to whip buttercream frosting for a birthday cake. Maybe you thought you had enough and then the little bag of sugar had half a cup shy of what you were expecting. Or you want the results of powdered sugar with something other than granulated white sugar (I’ve made it with raw cane sugar and coconut sugar, but you can turn nearly any type of granulated sugar into powdered in minutes). This may be because you’d rather use natural sweeteners or to satisfy a dietary concern or that’s what you have to use up. Either way, the flavor won’t be affected. You can use brown sugar for a richer molasses flavor, but know that you won’t achieve a pure white fluffy frosting; instead, it will have a light brown undertone.

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