Sunday, November 27, 2005

IMBB/SHF: Biscuits de potiron et de farine d'avoine

Thanksgiving's over and in order to celebrate the upcoming holiday season, Jennifer from The Domestic Goddess (also the founder of Sugar High Fridays) and Alberto of Il Forno (the founder of Is My Blog Burning?) have joined forces to create a Cookie Swap. They're asking food bloggers to post their favorite holiday cookie recipes so the rest of us can try them out once the Holidays roll in--kind of like a virtual cookie exchange.

The main point of this event, was that people shouldn't have to go crazy looking through cookbooks, but instead should pick their real tried-and-true recipes. Unfortunately, I don't have any. I'm not a baker and I have no idea what recipe I used the last time I made holiday cookies. When we celebrate the holidays in my house, we make potato latkes and roast a goose, stopping off at Ecce Panis to buy sweets. That's the way we've done it for years and I haven't heard complaints yet.

But I haven't made cookies in years and drop cookies are supposed to be easiest, so I made these Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies, using a recipe from The Classic Zucchini Cookbook for some basic inspiration. The result? They're not pretty (my uncle said they looked more like meatballs than cookies) but they are good. Not too sweet, but with a nice hint of exotic from the Cardamom I threw into the batter on a whim. Also, because Mom doesn't eat chocolate, I made half without the chocolate chips.

Biscuits de potiron et de farine d'avoine

1 cup All-Purpose Flour
1 1/2 teaspoons Ground Cinnamon
Seeds from 7 pods of Cardamom (a little over 1 teaspoon)
1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 cup (1 stick) Unsalted Butter
1/2 cup Granulated Sugar
1/2 cup Light Brown Sugar
1 large Egg
2 cups Pumpkin Puree
1 1/3 cups Rolled Oats
1/2 cup Chocolate Chips (optional)
1/2 cup Dried Cranberries
1 cup chopped Walnuts

Pre-heat oven to 375 F.

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together Flour, Cinnamon, Cardamom Seeds, Baking Powder and Baking Soda until well-combined.

In a large bowl, beat Butter, Granulated Sugar, Brown Sugar, Egg and Vanilla until creamy. Continuing mixing on low speed, add the Flour mixture a little at a time until all incorporated. Mix in Pumpkin Puree, Oats, Chocolate Chips (if using), Cranberries and Walnuts.

Take heaping tablespoons of the dough and form it into balls. Drop onto ungreased Baking Sheets, keeping Balls about 2 inches apart from each other (they do expand in the oven).

Bake for 12-14 minutes, until a toothpick comes out dry (or virtually dry if you like your cookies soft).

Allow cookies to cool slightly before removing them from baking sheet.

Makes about 30 cookies.

and and and and and and and and

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Imagine: Creamy Butternut Squash Soup

Usually, if I'm going to have a meal worth blogging about, I make it from scratch, especially if it's something cooked. But every so often, I'm lazy. I want a warming and filling bowl of soup, but without going through the trouble of making a whole pot of it, especially if I'm the only one eating it. Often I ignore such feelings and just make a soup, freezing leftovers or convincing some innocent soul to eat with me. But other times the microwave calls and I just nuke a bowl of packaged, prepared soup.

Most of the time, this soup is unflavorful and generally forgettable. However, I've finally found a brand I like--Imagine, a natural, organic brand that makes many wheat, gluten and dairy-free foods, made with real ingredients. Specifically, I had their Creamy Butternut Squash Soup, which I bought at Trader Joe's. While the soup itself had a very pleasant flavor, I found it was even better with a dollop of Greek Yogurt and some Cinnamon stirred in. Also, because I had a Spinach Salad on the side, I threw in a few spinach leaves to make it more interesting.

The result? Heavenly. And, perusing the Imagine website, I see they even have a recipe for Shells with Creamy Butternut Squash Sauce. That'll have to be for a day I do feel like cooking.

and and and and and and and and and

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Sunday Breakfast: Egg & Onion Matzo with Cream Cheese

Andrew has come up with a breakfast meme. He wants to know what everyone had for their Sunday breakfast today!

I like lazy Sundays--waking up late, sitting with a big cup of coffee and catching up on my news (serious, frivolous and blogs). When my stomach starts to growl, I like a nice big breakfast, usually with eggs and sometimes some kind of breakfast meat as well.

Some Sunday mornings, however, I have no time to be lazy. This morning, for instance, I had a rehearsal at 9 AM. I work as a stage manager, which means that if a rehearsal starts at 9, I have to be there at 8:40 at the earliest to unlock and set up the space so that we can start at 9. Of course, all of this means that I spent my Sunday morning waking up at 7:15 AM.

While reading my e-mail and glancing at headlines, I needed something quick to eat that would still give me a boost of energy. Normally I have a yogurt, but I had bought some Egg & Onion Matzos in the Kosher section of Ralph's a few weeks ago and I wanted to try them out. I thickly smeared the Matzo (which invariably crumbled into several pieces) with Cream Cheese. It was delicious! The Egg & Onion Matzos are a little salty (with just a hint of spice from the Onion Flakes), so the Cream Cheese mellows them out nicely.

Even though I prefer to wake up at a normal hour on Sundays, this was quite tasty.

and and and and and and

Update: Andrew has posted a round-up of everyone's Sunday morning breakfasts!

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Donna Hay: Cashew Butter Cupcakes

Picture taken by J. Dell'Era and cupcakes decorated by Miss Dell'Era and J. Vinogradsky

According to Nic, Donna Hay is the Australian Martha Stewart. This was my first encounter with her, but regardless, she knows how to make some damn-good cupckaes. Barbara, from winosandfoodies, has started a meme for Donna Hay's self-frosting cupcakes. The original recipe calls for peanut butter frosting , but various people have been playing around and Nutella seems to be the frosting of choice.

I decided, since Miss Julie, one of my lovely ladies, is on a nut binge lately, to play with a more exotic nut butter than peanut butter, but still stay in the chocolateless family. Of course, dark chocolate pastilles were added to beautify the cupcakes, but the taste still stayed quite nutty. What was my "exotic nut," you may ask? Why, cashews!

To make Cashew Butter, simply blend 2 cups of Roasted Cashews with 1-2 tablespoons of Oil. This is easy and delicious! I now have a little tub of Cashew Butter to spread on Toast in the mornings or for a midnight snack.

And, perhaps more importantly, the cupcakes? They were delicious, especially with a tall glass of Milk!

Cashew Butter Cupcakes

10 tablespoons Butter
3/4 cups Brown Sugar
3 Eggs
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 3/4 cups All-Purpose Flour
1/4 teaspoon Salt
Pinch Cinnamon
2 teaspoons Baking Powder
Cashew Butter

Preheat oven to 325 F. Line a 12-muffin tin with paper cups.

Cream Butter and Sugar. Add Eggs, one at a time, and mix until well-incorporated. Add Vanilla. Stir in Flour, Salt, Cinnamon and Baking Powder. Mix until fully combined and no specks of Flour remain. Fill each Muffin cup about 3/4 full of batter. Mix in a spoonful of Cashew Butter, swirling it into the Batter.

Bake 20 minutes. Let cool completely before eating.

Optional: Smear a little more Cashew Butter on top of Cupcakes and stick a Cashew and/or a Chocolate Pastille into the Cashew Butter topping.

Update: Check out Barbara's round-up! And congratulations to Glutton Rabbit for the prettiest picture.

and and and and and

Monday, November 14, 2005

Edible Birthday Goodies

Last Wednesday was my birthday. And, wouldn't you know it, the wonderful ladies with whom I live decorated our hallway with streamers! Actually, I wasn't allowed out of my room while the streamers were being put up. But I suppose that's a sign of love. At least, that's what they told me.

Also not surprisingly, I received food-related gifts, about which I just had to brag.

One of my ladies gave me this fabulous Creme Brulee Set, complete with Ramekins and a Blow Torch. She said they also had one with a pre-made Creme Brulee mix, but she decided her "foodie friend would want to come up with her own mix." Good thinking! Doesn't she know me so well? I promise to experiment with it soon and I'll be sure to post about the results.

My other "foodie" gift was from my other lady's boyfriend, who spends a fair amount of time with us, not surpisingly. From him, I received a bottle of Moet & Chandon Champagne, "Nectar Imperial," according to the side of the box. We're discussing when to crack open this beauty and with what to enjoy it. Again, tasting notes will follow.

and and and and

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Prosciutto and Tomato Open-Faced Sandwich

Some days, the best meal is a simple one.

This open-faced sandwich consists of a thick slice of Trader Joe's Rosemary Batard, spread generously with their Crushed Garlic and two slices of Prosciutto. Because my Cherry Tomatoes were so juicy, I preferred to eat them on the side, but they could easily be sliced in half and placed on top of the meat.


and and and and and

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

The Great Pumpkin Carve-Off: Pumpkin Pie with Pumpkin Seed Crust

I know. After announcing I'm not a baker, I bake. Again. But this time I have an excuse! Elise, of Simply Recipes, is (was) holding a contest for creative and delicious uses of the left-overs from carving a pumpkin. I haven't carved a pumpkin in years, so this seemed like as good an excuse as any. Also, I was back in New York for the weekend, which meant the Boy joined me in pumpkin carving. And since pie is one of his absolute favorite foods, I decided it was only fair to make him one.

To make this pie, I got my idea from another recipe in Canyon Ranch Cooks. Their recipe was for a Pumpkin Pie with a Pecan Crust. Looking at my ever-growing pile of Pumpkin Seeds, I decided to make the crust with a combination of ground Pumpkin Seeds and Graham Crackers instead. Not very sweet, it came out with a "homey" taste, something you'd expect a grandmother to serve. I think it would be best with whipped cream, though we loved it straight. You can substitute canned pumpkin puree for the fresh puree I made by steaming peeled pieces left over from our Jack O'Lanterns.

Pumpkin Pie with Pumpkin Seed Crust

10 Graham Crackers
2 tablespoons Pumpkin Seeds, toasted in 250 F oven.
1 tablespoon + 1 cup Pumpkin Puree
Oil to coat pie plate
2 Eggs
3/4 cup Evaporated Fat-Free Milk
1/4 cup Apple Juice Concentrate
1/4 cup Brown Sugar
1/2 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon Ground Ginger
3 Cloves, ground
Pinch Salt

Preheat oven to 350 F.

In a food processor, combine Graham Crackers and Pumpkin Seeds until all crumbs are more or less of the same texture. Move to a medium bowl and add 1 tablespoon Pumpkin Puree. Mix well. Grease 9" pie plate (I used Peanut Oil), then press Graham Cracker and Pumpkin Seed mixture into bottom and up sides.

In a large bowl, combine remaining ingredients, including 1 cup Pumpkin Puree. Blend well.

Pour Pumpkin mixture into pie crust.

Bake for 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Once cooled to room temperature, refrigerate pie.

Serve chilled.

Update: The results are in! Check them out and congrats to the winners.

and and and and and