Honey: A Connoisseur’s Guide with Recipes

September 17, 2008 at 9:57 am

This was written by one of my fellow bloggers at Paper Palate, Sandy Smith.  Honey i sthe only sweetner that is actually good for you.  The taste, the medical benefits combine to make it a true miracle of Mother Nature.  It is truly a gift from God.  Partake:

As a single-subject cookbook, Gene Opton’s Honey: A Connoisseur’s Guide with Recipes is all about one thing. Each of the eighty-plus recipes featured in the book incorporates honey. But you’ll find a lot more than recipes in this slender volume. You learn how to taste a spoonful of honey to tease out the subtle nuances of flavor that distinguish varietals produced from different flower origins. Further, you’ll read tasting notes on over fifty honey varietals, from the prosaic varieties like clover and alfalfa to the exotics such as acacia and macadamia.

Opton includes interesting information on honey production and history, whetting the appetite for the featured ingredient, which is explored in recipes that fill the bulk of the book. A Sources section is provided to help readers find honey and honey-related products.

The recipes themselves are not difficult. There are recipes for breads and other baked goods, main dishes, vegetable dishes, desserts, and syrups and toppings. I was immediately attracted to the recipe for Aunt Van’s Oatmeal Bread, which proved to be wonderfully straightforward and simple to prepare. This bread is sliceable, keeps well, freezes excellently, and it’s even better toasted.

Aunt Van’s Oatmeal Bread*

*Recipe from Gene Opton’s Honey (p. 43)

  • 1 cup rolled oatswith-peanut-butter.jpg
  • 11/3 cups boiling water
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground dried ginger
  • 51/2 cups unbleached white flour, divided
  • 2 tablespoons raw sunflower seeds (my addition)
  • 2 tablespoons millet, dehulled (my addition)
    Place the oats in a medium-size heat-resistant mixing bowl and pour the boiling water over them. Stir in the salt, butter, and honey; cover with a tea towel; and let sit for 1 hour.     When the hour is almost up, stir the yeast into the warm water in a small mixing bowl, add the sugar and ginger, and set in a warm, draft-free place until the yeast begins to froth.

    Once the yeast has bubbled, combine it in a large mixing bowl with 5 cups of the flour. Add the oatmeal mixture, the millet, and the sunflower seeds, and stir well to incorporate.

    Turn dough out onto a board and dust it with the remaining 1/2 cup flour. Knead well, until the dough is smooth and elastic.

    Form the dough into a ball and place it in a greased bowl. Turn the dough once to grease the top. Cover with a cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.

    Spray two 8 by 4-inch loaf pans with nonstick cooking spray or brush with melted butter. Punch down the dough and knead for a couple of turns. Divide the dough in half and form into two loaves. Place the loaves in the pans and let rise until double in size. [Recipe notes: I like to use one 8 x 4-inch pan and one 9 x 5-inch pan. We eat the big loaf fresh, and cool and freeze the smaller one.]

    Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Bake loaves for 40 minutes, until the crust is golden brown and the loaf sounds hollow when thumped. Turn loaves out of pans onto a wire rack.

Makes 2 loaves.

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Stuart Reb Donald

Stuart is a celebrity chef and award winning food writer. Donald performs live cooking demonstrations and penned the cookbook Amigeauxs - Mexican/Creole Fusion Cuisine. He hosts two Internet cooking shows "Everyday Gourmet" and "Little Grill Big Flavor."

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