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Archive for the ‘Cooking’


Zucchini-Cheddar Muffins 0

Posted on August 22, 2011 by crankycheryl

What kills me is that when I consult this blog as a record of my days, it’s going to look like I did practically nothing this summer.

Friends, I did everything this summer.  The boys and I have been out and about, camping and playing and exploring. We’ve read a ton and seen movies and visited family and friends.  I’ve been cooking up a storm.  Canning, freezing, snacking, everything.

I’ve been working, and even (sound the trumpet) am preparing to start a brand new full time job with the University of Vermont’s Center for Sustainable Agriculture.  (Which, let’s face it, I wouldn’t jinx by advertising in advance, except the director has called and gotten my social security number and birthdate to get my paperwork started, so I’m pretty sure it’s true.)

I’ve written articles and emails and lots and lots of copy for a variety of projects.  Just not here, somehow.

Ah well.  We’re here now.

Among all of these other things, I had the good fortune to be able to provide the food for a friend’s brunch on the day after his summer wedding.  They had friends and family coming from all over the country, and they wanted to show off Vermont’s great food with a big Green Mountain brunch feast.

We got planning, and I scored some help from a friend who’s a NECI grad, and we spent a couple of days making all manner of piecrust and waffles and slicing fruit and making currant lemonade and steeping fresh mint for iced tea.  And maybe the most humble-appearing item of our line-up were these muffins, more like scones because they were so rich.  And containing zucchini because Pike said, “Well, it’s summer in Vermont.  We’ve got to have zucchini there.”  Which is totally true.

These muffins are so buttery, cheesy and good that they would have deserved to be on the menu anyway.  Just today, weeks later,  Z. helped himself to one right out the freezer from the few leftovers we’ve still got.  He would have eaten it that way, but Greg took pity and got him to thaw it in the toaster oven first.  Good.   Good either way.

Zucchini-Cheddar Muffins
Makes about 12
Adapted from Joy of Cooking

  1. Preheat an oven to 350.
  2. Grease a 12-cup muffin tin and set aside.
  3. Whisk together in a bowl:
  • 3 c. all-purpose flour
  • 4 t. baking powder
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1/2 t. baking soda
       4.   Add and toss to separate and coat with the flour mixture:
  • 1 c. shredded zucchini
  • 1 c. shredded cheddar
  • 1/4 c. chopped scallions
  • 3 T. chopped fresh basil (we had purple, so that’s what I used)
      5.   Whisk together in another bowl:
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 c. buttermilk or yogurt
  • 4 T. melted unsalted butter or vegetable oil
       6.  Add to the flour mixture and mix with a few firm but gentle strokes, just until the dry ingredients are moistened.       (Let the batter stay lumpy.)   Scoop into cups of pan, then bake for about 30-35 minutes, or until a skewer comes out     clean.  Let cool in pan for a few minutes, then enjoy while a little warm, or else cool on rack.

 

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Yellow Jacket Cake 0

Posted on June 11, 2011 by crankycheryl

Considering how he’s not really a foodie, E. invents an awful lot of new recipes.  There have been cheese soup suggestions, a lobster and strawberry thing, a hotdog and watermelon soup, and there are always ideas for cakes.  I slightly wish I was one of the moms who let their kids make whatever they dream up, could indulge all of his imaginings, but I can’t afford fantasy groceries.  And I hate wasted food.

Z. is different, a guy who likes to access information he knows is good.  When he asked for oatmeal the other morning, he was excited to run to our Fairy Tale Feasts book and find the recipe associated with it before running off for his little step-stool so he could watch it bubble away on the stove.  He nodded in satisfaction when it tasted right.

Every now and then we all agree on something that E. has dreamed up, and that’s how we came to make the Yellow Jacket Cake he’s been suggesting for some months now.    He kept telling me about the yellow lemon cake that had “sugar … milk … and eggs.  And flour, mommy.  And it looks like a yellow jacket.”  We needed a cake for our big school spring event, something that would have great kid appeal, but not send me into a state of cringe with its ingredients.  The usual thing is to make one from a box, cover it with frosting from a can, and then dump leftover candy all over the top.  (The tip from other moms is that it’s your ticket to moving out all the leftover Easter candy you still have around.)  But cake is easy, and I don’t like to bake from a mix unless I’m cooking for a highly allergic type person and I need to make sure that there’s been absolutely no contamination from offending ingredients.

Buzz buzz.  This recipe made one single-layer lemon-marshmallow cake and a half-dozen cupcakes for home.  E took a look at the cake  and said, “It’s okay, but I was expecting it to be a lot taller.  Next time: five layers, Mommy.”  I nodded.  Maybe.  But I noted that our cake was among the first ones chosen at the big school shindig, so I’m declaring it officially good enough.

Yellow Jacket Cake
Serves 8-plus
I made mine as one single-layer cake and six cupcakes, but for simplicity’s sake am writing this as if for a double layer cake.

Lemon Cake:

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 2 T. lemon juice
  • 1 t. fresh lemon zest or 1/2 t. dried lemon peel
  • 1 t. vanilla extract
  • 6 tbsp. milk
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 pinch salt
  1. Preheat oven to 325° F. Grease and flour 2 8-inch layer pans with removable bottoms.
  2. Cream butter and sugar until fluffy.  Beat in egg yolks, then lemon juice and zest.
  3. Mix together flour and baking powder. Add to butter mixture. Add milk and vanilla and mix well.
  4. Spread batter into pans, then bake 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.
  5. (While cake is baking, make the ridiculously easy and vaguely naughty frosting below.)
  6. Remove cake from pans and cool on racks.

Lemon-Marshmallow Frosting

  • 3 c. Fluff (or Ricemellow, if you’d like to be reasonably pure)
  • 1 1/2 c. organic non-hydrogenated palm frosting
  • 1 T. lemon juice
  • pinch of lemon zest or dried lemon peel
  • Optional: tiny dash of yellow food coloring
  • Optional: black and yellow colored sugars and yellow and black candy
  1. Beat all ingredients together until fluffy and thoroughly combined.  Taste and adjust flavor to your palate, with more fluff or lemon juice as necessary.
  2. Frost the cooled cakes:  place one upside down on a large plate, and spread a layer of frosting over the top of it.  Place the other layer, upside down, on top.  Spread a thin layer of frosting on the top and sides of the cake – this is your crumb coat, so don’t worry if it does in fact have crumbs and bits of cake in it.  Then cover that first coat with the remaining frosting, making it as swirly and fluffy as you like.
  3. To make it yellow jacket-ish, sprinkle black and yellow sugars in stripes across the top, then toss on any appropriately colored leftover stale crappy candy you can’t even believe you bought in the first place.   Voila.

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Dandelion Fritters 0

Posted on May 10, 2011 by crankycheryl

It’s May in Vermont so I’m looking at leaves.  With the rain, all the rain, and the sun the world just seemed to bounce into technicolor overnight.  Now the trees are all blossoming in that golden green of spring, vibrant everywhere.  Chartreuse fuzzy leaves, new red maple buds, dogwood and flowers suddenly there.

I’m a little embarrassed to admit how amazing I find plants.  Really – a tomato plant in fruit can leave me speechless.  How do these simple life forms know to do what they do – a petal here, a bud there, a leaf that curls just so.   How does a bud know when to open?  How does it turn that tightly curled bead into an unfurled leaf overnight?

But this year I’ve been teaching in our school’s environmental education program and I’ve learned that I had that point wrong.  The bud forms slowly in the year before it blossoms.  It spends the good growing days using the plant’s resources to build the leaves that will appear next year.  It’s not a miracle, or maybe not a sudden miracle:  it’s slow growth under the surface.  The plant doesn’t have to spring into action when the weather is most in doubt and turn itself beautiful.  It just had to do a little bit at a time when light and food and water were plentiful, and then sit tight and wait through the hard times.

And when the sun is good and strong get out there and stretch and reach and grow.  And, if you’re in my family, get out there and forage for what you can freely find – like the dandelions just after they burst bright and yellow into the spring.

Dandelion Fritters
Serves 2

  • 2 cups of dandelion flowers, rinsed gently but thoroughly (make sure to pick them where the dogs haven’t been and nothing has been sprayed on them)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup flour (I used chick pea flour, but just about anything would be fine)
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1/4 t. black pepper

Whisk together eggs, flour, salt and pepper until smooth and free of lumps, then beat in the dandelions.

Heat up 2 T. butter in a medium skillet until bubbling and fragrant, then pour in dandelion-egg mixture.  Cook for 3-4 minutes or until firmly set on bottom, then flip and cook 2-3 minutes more.  Serve immediately.  It’s nice with a salad, and a little hot sauce won’t hurt a thing.

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Adorable Empanadas, or How I Scored a Princess Bat 3

Posted on February 19, 2011 by crankycheryl

Z.’s kindergarten teacher saw that I was making empanadas on a Facebook post, and asked if I might come in and do them with the class.  They were wrapping up their five-senses unit, and a hands-on cooking activity seemed a fun way to use those senses.

If you’re not familiar with them, empanadas are little turnovers popular in South America and parts of the Caribbean.  The crust is flaky like a pie crust, though just a bit more doughy.  Often filled with spiced ground meat, they can also contain vegetables, beans, even sweet fruit fillings (think portable pie).  I let Z. pick the flavor (potato and cheese) and started the planning.

The constraints were time and food safety, and the desire to give them a good product that they could succeed at while feeling proud of.   (If you’ve ever cooked with a group of kids you know that they can feel cheated if they don’t have something substantial to do in the creation of the food.)

The solution was to prepare the filling and crust ahead of time, and to leave out the raw eggs or anything that could be dangerous if a kid found himself sampling the ingredients raw.   Easy.  So, with my bag full of dough and filling, I arrived for the activity, we talked about how we use our senses to see the food we’re making, and listen to its crunch or sizzle, and smell its delicious smells.  Then we washed hands thoroughly (I’ve seen what these people do with those hands) and off we went.

Potato & Cheese Empanadas
About 20 turnovers

The Filling

Mix together thoroughly:

  • 4 c. leftover mashed potatoes
  • 1 c. shredded cheddar
  • 1/2 c. butternut squash puree (totally optional, but I have a reputation to maintain)
  • 3/4 t. salt

Set aside.

The crust

1.  Place in a large bowl or food processor:

  • 6 c. all purpose flour
  • 1 T. baking powder
  • 2 t. salt

Stir or pulse until combined, then add:

Pulse or mix until mixture looks like coarse crumbs.  Drizzle over the top:

  • about 1 1/4 c. water

Pulse just a few times or mix gently with fork until dough is just dampened enough to gather into a ball.

2.  Divide into ~20 flat disks, each with a piece of parchment or wax paper between them.  Refrigerate for an hour, or until you’re ready to proceed.  N.B. – If you do make this ahead of time, make sure you give the dough an hour at room temperature to get it to a workable consistency before proceeding.

Construction

1.  Preheat oven to 400.

2.  Take each disk one at a time, and roll it or press it into a circle.  In our class we distributed a piece of parchment to each kid, which is worth bringing in if your fabulous teacher doesn’t have it right at hand.

Press the dough (or help the kids press the dough) into a circle.  The shape doesn’t matter terribly, but it should at least have even edges and be symmetrical so it will fold over and seal neatly in an upcoming step.

3.  Take a rounded tablespoon of the filling, and put it just below the center of the circle.  Kids will need help with this as they’ll be likely to put too much filling on for it to close up properly.  How you deal with that is up to you – it’s not a bad idea to let kids learn some food science by seeing what happens when they make different cooking choices.  On the other hand, it’s nice to let everyone succeed in a class setting.

4.  Fold over the dough from top to bottom and seal by pressing.  If your dough is at all crumbly, dipping your finger in water and running it along the edge can help the edges sort of glue together.  Use a fork to crimp the edges, and then place each on an ungreased baking sheet until they’re all completed.

5.  Poke each with a fork two or three times.  Then give them an egg wash by beating

  • an egg or two with a little milk or water and then brushing on the top.

Then we had to run, run, run our empanadas to the kitchen to have them baked before pizzas went in the oven for Pizza Day.  You don’t mess with Pizza Day.

5.  Bake for about 15 minutes, until nicely browned.  Let cool for a few minutes (or the amount of time it takes to run back up the hall to your classroom) and then cut in half and eat.

What we found was that about half the kids were willing to try them, and most of those loved them.  Z. was too conflicted by the warring emotions associated with having me in the classroom and just couldn’t manage eating a new food too.  But one of his friends especially loved them, and that’s how I got my very own Princess Bat.

Swoon.

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Pink Potato, Chicken & Vegetable Pie 3

Posted on February 15, 2011 by crankycheryl

Dairy free, gluten free, nut free, bovine free, soy free, low salt.  Plus Vermont localvore, and bright pink.   It was a potato-crusted chicken (or chick pea)  and winter vegetable pie for 40 for Burlington CoHousing’s Valentine’s Day dinner.

This recipe definitely exemplifies my “smoke ’em if you got ’em” theory of cooking.  In the cohousing kitchen we nearly always have leftover unused ingredients from previous meals:  my scavenging yielded peas and frozen brussels sprouts for the pie, plus some bonus greens for the slaw we served on the side.  I had wheedled vendors at this weekend’s farmer’s market for their less-than-perfect roots, and combined with what we had around.  The quantities and specific vegetables below are just a guide to get started – use what you’ve got, or can get cheaply.

Advance notes:

  • If you’re doing a meat version, make sure you’ve got the meat itself cooked and ready ahead of time.  Because we were cooking for 40, I used two large chickens; for 8 people about a half chicken should be enough.
  • Will your children eat pink mashed potatoes?   Do tell.   Z. kept both objecting to the food on his plate and eating the food on his plate, spearing Brussels sprouts and squealing “cabbage ball!” while giggling and eating away.

Chicken & Winter Vegetable Pot Pie with Pink Potato Crust
Reprinted from February 2011 Vermont Woman
Serves 8
1.  Starting your engines:
Turn on oven to 400.  Generously oil two rimmed baking sheets and set aside.

Put large pot of salted water on to boil.

Butter the bottom and sides of a nice deep lasagna pan, or other fairly large baking dish.  Set aside.

Cooked vegetables all heaped up in a gorgeous Vermont winter type of pile.

2.  Get those vegetables ready:

Chop into 1” pieces and place in large bowl:

  • ½ butternut squash (peel if you like)
  • 2 peeled beets
  • 3 medium-large peeled parsnips
  • 3 carrots

Clean outer leaves, and cut in half if very large:

  • 1 lb. brussels sprouts

Add sprouts to bowl along with:

  • ½ t. salt
  • few grinds fresh pepper
  • 3 T. olive oil
  • 1 T. balsamic or apple cider vinegar

Toss well (it’s easiest if you use your hands)  Spread onto prepared baking sheets into single layer, and place in oven.  Bake for about 30 minutes, or until sizzling and very tender when poked with a fork.  Leave oven on.

 

They're so beautiful. Let's look at another shot of those veggies.

4. Next stages of construction:   Take 3 or 4 pieces of beet, puree in a blender or with a hand-held immersion blender, and put puree in a medium-large bowl and set aside.  Place other vegetables in your prepared baking dish and toss with:

  • 3 c. cooked chicken (or turkey, or chick peas, or cubed firm tofu – Vermont Soy’s Maple-Ginger is perfect in this)
  • ½ t. ground thyme or 1 t. dried thyme leaves or whatever herb you feel like.
  • 1 T. flour (or rice flour, if you want to keep this gluten free)
  • ½ t. salt
  • ¼ c. broth or water

4.  And the potatoes:
While pot of water is heating, peel (if you like, or if your potatoes aren’t organic) and quarter:

  • 3 lbs. potatoes

Once water is boiling, add potatoes to water and cook at a gentle boil until tender, about 20 minutes.  Remove potatoes to bowl with beet puree.

5.  The mash:
Add to bowl:

  • ¼ c. butter
  • ½ c. buttermilk
  • ½ t. salt (or to taste)
  • beet puree

Then mash or whip until very smooth and creamy.  I like to use a hand-held electric mixer and beat them until they’re smooth and kind of gooey, but you should use whatever method gives you the potatoes that feel right to you.  (Vegan/dairy free version:  1/4 c. olive oil, 2 T. tahini, salt, reserved beet puree, which is what we made and it was deeeeeeeeeee-licious.  Look how adorable those pink potatoes, not to mention the fabulous Ming and Melinda with whom I was cooking!)

 

6.  Putting it all together:  Here’s where you can be fussy or not fussy.  There’s nothing wrong with taking a big spoon and dropping spoonfuls of the potato mix in a rustic fashion over the top of the vegetable and chicken mix.  Or you can use a pastry bag and pipe it on.  They’ll both taste great.

We used chick peas to indicate the vegetarian version.

7.  Cooking it up:  Bake for about 25 minutes at 400, until edges are starting to get golden and the filling is bubbling.  Let cool for a couple of minutes and then serve.

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Guilty Tamale Pie 1

Posted on December 03, 2010 by crankycheryl

So I really meant to tell you about my Thanksgiving prep, CrankyReaders.

There were the turkeys that the fabulous Paula slaughtered (humanely) on the Sunday before, and there was my quest to find someone who would rotisserie a turkey for us.   But there were articles and deadlines and work and I had to go teach 6th graders about death at church and 2nd graders about seeds at the boys’ school.  And then I was tired.

Plus I got a cold.

But what kind of food blogger doesn’t write about food at Thanksgiving?  Like the brine I was planning.  The pies.  How it was a mixed sort of bag that the boys would be with their dad.

So then there was guilt, and then it was Thanksgiving itself.  Sara had wanted to roast a turkey so she’d have the house smelling like it should, and I was still stuck with the rotisserie obsession.  We had a very pleasant stand-off that resulted in two birds – 43 pounds – for eight of us.

There were more leftovers than usual, which around here wasn’t a problem.   And though I don’t feel like it’s necessary to transform leftovers into something unrecognizable, I liked the sound of a Thanksgiving tamale I had heard about on the radio the day before, involving sage in the dough and a turkey filling.  But I just didn’t feel like rolling all those tamales, and so I turned it into a couple of tamale casseroles that were so very delicious.  I doubled it and made one vegetarian with sweet potato in the dough and a filling of shredded cheese, and one with plain masa and sweet potato and turkey filling.   But you should – as always – use what you’ve got.

Tamale Pie

1.  Combine in a large bowl and beat with a handheld mixer until very light and fluffy:

  • 2 cups masa harina
  • 2 cups lukewarm broth (or salted water if you’re caught without)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup non-hydrogenated shortening, or lard if you like
  • (I added 1 c. mashed sweet potatoes to the vegetarian ones)

Combine masa, broth, baking powder, salt, and oil in a large bowl, Mix together until dough has the consistency of soft paste. Cover & let rest for at least 15 minutes at room temperature so the dough can thoroughly absorb the moist ingredients.

2.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Press half of the tamale dough into the bottom of an 8 x 8 casserole dish. Press the mixture evenly on the bottom and up the sides.

3.  Spread your choice of fillings evenly across.

  • 1 1/2 c. – 2 c. finely chopped turkey, chicken or other meat
  • 1 1/2 c. cooked and drained vegetables
  • 2 c. shredded cheese
  • 1 c. chopped green chiles

The top layer of masa is hard to get on too neatly.  The best method was to use both hands to create sort of patties to place side by side on the top.

4.   Put an inch or so of hot water in a baking pan that will accommodate the casserole,  Place, covered, in the oven and bake for 45 minutes to an hour, until the masa is soft but set.  Remove from oven, let sit for five minutes and serve.

And now: back to work.

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The Tagine Less Traveled 1

Posted on November 10, 2010 by crankycheryl

I’m so excited that tomorrow is ECHO’s Food Less Traveled event.  And in celebration of this contest that will be judged not only on taste, presentation and overall experience but also the “food miles” that ingredients have traveled, I offer this fabulous recipe for the aromatic Moroccan stew.  The starring ingredients were from my BFF-ish food sources: beef from Applecheek Farm, a stubbornly alive cardoon plant from Red Wagon Plants, and garlic, onions, tomatoes, cilantro and potatoes from the Intervale.  The lemons, olives, olive oil, ginger and spices made this a lovely celebration of sultry Mediterranean flavors to spice up that good and local stuff.

Of course this would never be able to win a localvore contest, with so much food from afar on the ingredient list.  But it was a pretty darned delightful dinner for these delightful friends:

Plus it was a chance to get to the bottom of the age-old question, “What the heck is a cardoon?,” which is a question you yourself might want to answer if you like that anise-y flavor that artichokes have, or are interested in good, new easy-to-grow things.

Tagine with Beef, Potato & Cardoons
6 servings

1.  Clean 1 or 2 large bunches of cardoon, using these instructions.  Keep in lemon juice until ready to use, marveling at how the enormous pile of leaves resulted in this tiny bit of stems.

2.  Prepare these quick prepared lemons and keep aside.

3.  Heat in a Dutch oven until rippling:

  • 3 T. olive oil

Then add and brown well:

  • 1 lb. grass-fed beef, cut into 3- or 4-inch pieces

4. Add:

  • reserved cardoons
  • 1 onion, chopped medium
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped or pressed
  • 2 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 4 c. chopped potatoes, peels removed or left on, as you prefer.
  • 1/2 c. water
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Stir very well, bring to a slow boil, then cover and cook over low heat for 1 1/2 hours.  Check once or twice to make sure it’s not completely dry.

5.  Towards the end of the tagine’s cooking time, chop and combine:

  • 1 preserved lemon, cut into quarters
  • 1/2 c. pitted kalamata or other pungent dark olives
  • 2 T. cilantro leaves
  • 1 T. flat leaf parsley

6.  Remove stew from heat, then stir in lemon mixture.  Let cool for a few minutes, then serve with couscous or crunchy bread.  Good!

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Smoky Oven-Fried Green Tomatoes 1

Posted on October 22, 2010 by crankycheryl

Insert something here about the beautiful fall day.

Something here about the alchemy of a blue sky, brilliant yellow leaves, the first snowflakes to fall on upturned faces.

Something here about the sadness of a bright sun in October.

Something about the funny/sad persistence of children acting like children, like fast-flying meteors, like light.

And still there are the green tomatoes plucked before the first frost threatened, still green and hard and needing to be cooked.

Something about how nothing can be wasted.

Oven-Fried Smoky Green Tomatoes
Serves: maybe 4 as a side dish?

1.  Preheat oven to 400.  Coat a baking sheet with cooking oil.

2.  Slice thickly:

  • 6 green tomatoes

3.  Place in a wide, flat bowl:

  • 1/2 cup soy milk, rice milk, or cow milk

4.  Place in a second wide, flat bowl:

  • 1 cup cornmeal (organic, unless you like your food to be genetically modified)
  • 1 t. smoked paprika
  • 1/2 t. ground thyme
  • 1/2 t. kosher salt
  • few grinds fresh peppercorn

5.  Dip both sides of each tomato slice in the milk, then in the cornmeal mixture.  Place on the baking sheet, then bake for 15 minutes.  Flip the slices over, spray with cooking spray or brush lightly with oil and bake 15 minutes more or until golden brown.  Serve immediately or at room temperature.

They can also be frozen by cooling completely on a rack, then placing on the largest plate or baking sheet you can fit in your freezer.  Place them in the freezer for 2-3 hours or overnight, then put in a freezer bag or other freezer-safe container.  They can then be heated up to eat as-is, or layered with cheese and tomato sauce for green tomato parmigiana.

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Pumpkin-Cinnamon Swirl Bread 1

Posted on October 14, 2010 by crankycheryl

We’re blessed with a whole flock of new babies in our lives, and that means baking for the new parents. There’s a simple rule I follow in providing food for new parents of second and third children:

Give them delicious and healthy food their older children will eat without whining.

This way, the parents can feed their firstborn, and snitch a bite or two and receive just enough nutrients to survive another round of round-the-clock babycare.

E.  & Z. & I had a lovely version of this when we popped in at Great Harvest recently.  It’s near where we’ve started martial arts classes, and it takes all the bribery and threats I can muster to get my #1 son there.  I definitely credit Great Harvest’s sugary offerings and riding toy collection with my being able to bamboozle him to the dojo last week.   And the bread was so good that even in my traumatized state I was inspired to go home and make some of our own, which we then gifted to some of the new parents in our lives.  It’s like a cinnamon roll in loaf form, and reasonably healthy-ish as far as these things go.

Pumpkin-Cinnamon Swirl Bread
Bread adapted from Joy of Cooking
Filling adapted from The Weekend Baker
Makes one loaf

1.  Stir together in a large bowl:

  • 1 c. bread flour
  • 1 c. whole wheat flour
  • 1 package (2 1/4 t.) active dry yeast
  • 1 1/4 t. salt

Add and stir very well:

  • 1 c. very warm water
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 1/2 c. pureed pumpkin, acorn, or butternut squash

2.  Add 1/4 c. at a time, mixing by hand, or a hand-held blender:

  • 3/4 – 1 c. bread flour

Add flour until the dough is moist but not sticky.

3.  Turn your oven to 350 degrees for exactly one minute and then turn it off.

4.  Knead for 10 minutes, either by hand or in some fancy machine with a dough hook, until the dough is smooth and elastic.  But set the timer and don’t cheat your dough, even if it seems nice and elastic before you’ve kneaded for the whole time.  Then coat a large bowl with oil, place the dough in it, turn it over once to coat it, then cover with a damp tea towel.  Let rise in the oven (make sure you’ve turned it off!) for about 45 minutes, or until doubled in volume.

5.  While the dough is rising, prepare the cinnamon filling.  Beat together in a large bowl with a handheld mixer on medium speed until very thoroughly combined into a thick paste:

  • 1/2 c. packed brown sugar*
  • 1/2 c. granulated sugar*
  • 1/3 c. unbleached flour
  • 2 1/2 t. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 c. (4 T.) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 c. applesauce or apple butter

6. Preheat oven to 450.   Grease a standard (6-cup) loaf pan.  Punch down the dough, then stretch it out into an oblong about the width of the loaf pan and about 12″ long.  Leave a 1″ border on one short end, then spread the cinnamon filling to about 2″ from the other end, going to about 1″ from the sides of the dough.  (You can freeze any leftover filling or put it on your oatmeal or mix it into cookies.)

7.  Roll up the dough as tightly as you can, beginning on the short end with the filling that comes closest to the edge.  Tuck and push as you roll to get the neatest loaf possible.  Place in the loaf pan and bake for 10 minutes, then turn oven down to 350 and bake for 30 more, or until loaf sounds hollow when tapped.  Remove loaf to a rack and let cool completely.  Eat within three days, or freeze for up to two months.

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Chickpea, Corn & Smoked Cheddar Wraps 0

Posted on September 23, 2010 by crankycheryl

There’s a part of me that loves this time of year as the height of the harvest draws to a close.  The wild ride of summer is a fun romp, sure, but I like the slowdown, how there’s time to stop and appreciate the things that are coming ripe more slowly.  The apples, now.  The tomatoes that have stopped stampeding in from the garden or farmer’s market.  I feel a little less desperate to ENJOY EVERYTHING AT ITS PEAK RIGHT NOW WITH AS LITTLE ADORNMENT AS POSSIBLE!

Phew.

In this very seemly spirit, here’s a yummy vegetarian dinner that makes use of what’s in season in a completely reasonable way.  And you can make it the rest of the year too, with frozen corn and the best tomatoes you can get your hands on.

Around these parts, wraps are one of the few foods that I can make that E. and Z. will both eat in one form or another, and that the grown-ups can actually enjoy.  These were especially successful for Z., who shredded his wrap and made careful little petit fours with avocado slices, caramelized onion, avocado and cheese.

Chickpea, Corn & Smoked Cheddar Wraps
Makes 8 wraps

1.  Have 8 wraps or tortillas warmed and ready, wrapped in a tea towel that’s very slightly damp and in a very low oven.

2.  In a large skillet, heat until rippling:

  • 2 T. olive oil

3.  Add:

  • 1 c. chopped onion (I cut mine fairly fine, you can do yours as you like)
  • 1 c. chopped red pepper
  • 4 purple tomatillos, cut into quarters (optional)

Cook until very soft.

4.  While onion mix is cooking, prepare other ingredients for wraps.  I like to put them all on one large plate for the middle of the table where everyone can help themselves to what they like.

  • 4 oz. smoked cheddar, sliced thinly
  • 1 juicy tomato, cut in half and sliced thinly
  • 2 cups of lettuce, cleaned and torn into small pieces if large
  • 1/2 c. cilantro, cleaned and coarsely chopped

5.  When onion mix is well-cooked, stir in:

  • 2 cups drained cooked or canned chick peas
  • kernels from 4 ears fresh corn

Cook until heated through, then place mix in serving bowl.

6.  Put together wraps with a couple tablespoons of the chickpea mix, and whatever other ingredients you like.

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