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Friday, October 29, 2010

Luke's Pumpkin Pancakes with Cinnamon Butter

We're all friends here, right? Since we are, you will know how very much I love the Gilmore Girls. And I watch the episodes over and over. And it never gets old.
In Season 4 of the Gilmore Girls, Luke shocks Lorelei and Rory with Pumpkin Pancakes with Cinnamon Butter. Well folks, here they are. And if you are obsessive like me, you can watch the episode while enjoying these pancakes. And you have my permission to daydream about Luke eating them with you.

Pumpkin Pancakes with Cinnamon Butter
Adapted from Annie's Eats

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tbsp. brown sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
¾ tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
Pinch of ground ginger
Pinch of ground cloves
1 cup milk
½ cup pumpkin puree
1 large egg
2 tbsp. vegetable oil

Combine the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, salt and spices in the bowl of a stand mixer. Combine the milk, pumpkin, egg and oil. Using the paddle attachment, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. Let the batter sit for about ten minutes.

Heat a skillet to make the pancakes. We like our pancakes a bit larger- but make them the size you prefer. Serve with maple syrup and cinnamon butter.

Cinnamon Butter
1 Stick of Butter
1 tbsp. brown sugar
1 tbsp. cinnamon

In a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, whip the butter, brown sugar and cinnamon. I put the finished butter in parchment paper and roll it up, to create a roll of butter. Place the roll in the fridge or freezer for easy slicing.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Roasted Pears with Chai Spiced Creme Anglaise

Fancy dinner party? Meet fancy dessert.

This dessert screams holidays: cozy pears wrapped in a luscious, creamy sauce. The pears are a cinch- and the Creme Anglaise takes mere minutes to make. I've hacked Dorie Greenspan's version of Creme Anglaise by adding Chai tea, spices, and cinnamon. I love the idea of Earl Grey Creme Anglaise, too. The next time I make this there will be Early Grey.

Roasted Pears with Chai Spiced Creme Anglaise
Inspired by Sally Schneider and Dorie Greenspan
Roasted Pears:

4 Large Pears (I've used bosc and comice, both worked great)
Juice of Half a Lemon
1 Vanilla Bean
1 cup Pear Nectar
1 tablespoon Butter, diced.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Using a vegetable peeler, remove the skin from the pears. Hold the stem, and then peel downward for the best results. Halve the pears and remove the seeds with a melon baller. Use a paring knife to remove the woody remnants leading to the stem. Arrange pears with the scooped side up in a large roasting dish.
Squeeze lemon juice over pears. Place the lemon half in the roasting dish and pour the pear nectar on top. Top each pear with a piece of butter.
Slice the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and place it on top of the pears.
Roast the pears for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, flip the pears over and baste them with the juices. Roast for another 10-15 minutes, until the pears are soft, but still hold their shape. Baste pears with the pan juices before serving.

Chai Spiced Creme Anglaise:

1 cup milk (2% or higher)
1 cup Heavy Cream
1/2 cup sugar
6 egg yolks
1 teaspoon Chai Tea
5 Black Peppercorns
2 Cinnamon Sticks
Fill a large glass bowl with ice cubes. Place a smaller bowl on top for the finished creme. Place the tea and peppercorns in a cheese cloth. Combine the milk and cream in a small saucepan. Place the cheesecloth and cinnamon sticks in the milk mixture. Bring mixture to a full boil.
In a medium size saucepan, combine the egg yolks and sugar. Whisk until the sugar is evenly distributed.
Once the milk boils, turn the heat off and remove the cheesecloth and cinnamon sticks. Slowly add about 1/4 a cup of the milk to the egg yolks to temper the yolks. Whisk vigorously!
Slowly pour the rest of the milk into the yolks while whisking. Turn the heat back on to medium-low. Never stop whisking or the mixture will stick to the bottom of the pan. The mixture will start to thicken after about 2 minutes. Test the creme on the back of a wooden spoon with a finger. If the mixture is ready, it will cling to the spoon and won't run into the track.
Pour the mixture into the bowl. Refrigerate overnight in an airtight container. It will thicken and the flavors will blossom if you are patient enough to wait (I rarely am).
When ready to serve, spoon about 1/4 cup of the sauce onto a dessert plate or shallow bowl. Place one or two pear halves on top. Drizzle with the pear pan juices. Enjoy!

Read more at Food52

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Older and Nuttier

Last week Mr. Radar threw me a birthday party. It was wonderful, full of family and friends and delicious food. My three favorite things.

My parents sent flowers, and Mama Bee raided HilaryBee's wishlist!. I got a new tart pan, a new pie dish and **drum roll please!!** Dorie Greenspan! Okay, Dorie didn't show up at my door, but I did get her book, Baking from My Home to Your's Wow, right? I know, I'm super lucky. I've already made and hacked a number of Dorie's recipes, more on that next post!

We took lots of food to the party, but in particular I wanted to share this recipe for homemade nut mix. I know that premixed nuts can be found in any grocery store. But this is better. Much, much better. It's spicy, sweet, savory, and a little herby. I think you'll like it!

Go to a store where you can buy bags of raw or unsalted nuts cheaply. I went to Trader Joe's and bought almonds, cashews, and peanuts. I like almonized peanuts, but roasted will do. (Almonized peanuts are first boiled then roasted in oil. I recommend them because they are crispier and have a deep flavor). Use any combination of nuts you like- I think pecans would be lovely, but since I'm allergic they weren't included in my mix.

Sweet and Spicy Party Nuts
Adapted from Shutterbean

1 1/2 cups Raw Almonds
1 1/2 cups Raw Cashews
4 1/2 cups Almonized Peanuts
1 Tablespoon Cayenne Pepper
1 Tablespoon Kosher Salt (Diamond Brand preferred)
1 Tablespoon fresh Thyme (about 3-4 sprigs stripped)
1 Tablespoon of Rosemary (fresh or dried)
1 teaspoon Black Pepper
2 Tablespoons Light Corn Syrup
2 Tablespoon Dark Brown Sugar

Preheat oven to 350. Line two flat baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
Combine the corn syrup, cayenne, salt, and black pepper in a large bowl. Chop the herbs finely and add to the spice mixture. Mix thoroughly to combine. Add the nuts to the bowl and stir to combine. Use a wooden spoon to ensure the nuts are evenly coated.

Spread the nuts onto the baking sheets in a thin layer. Then sprinkle the brown sugar on top. Do not mix- just dust the brown sugar over the nuts.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the nuts are fragrant and the corn syrup is no longer sticky.

Store for up to two weeks in an airtight container.

(Little) New Hope

Lately, I've been feeling pretty emotional. Maybe it's because my birthday was Saturday (more on my Bday and all the food next post!), and I feel as though I've reached a point of no return. Adulthood has sunk in, and there is no turning back. It feels a little like drowning or falling down a black tunnel. And I don't want to fall, powerless. I want to thrive.

My job search drags on, and I have felt lost, with little hope on the horizon. Then, Sunday, Mr. Radar found a half-dead kitten. And suddenly, I'm filled with a little extra hope. It's funny how something so small, a former street urchin, can restore some of my faith in life.

She was really sick. She had nasty burrs all over her body, and was covered from head to toe in muck and grime. She weighs just over a pound at 8 weeks-severely malnourished. But, she rises from the ashes.

Mr. Radar calls her New Hope.

We took her to the vet yesterday, and she has nearly every illness a little kitten could have (except Feline Lukemia, thank god!).
But look at her. If she can fight back, so can I.
And I'm going to keep her. Yes, I already have quite the menagerie. But I don't care. She gives me hope.

Besides, she looks a bit like fluffy chocolate. And who wouldn't want a chocolate covered kitten?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Cool Blog: They Draw & Cook

I really love the website They Draw & Cook.

Artists submit illustrated recipes to be featured on the blog. There is usually a chosen dish or ingredient like pumpkin or tiramisu. You can also search by category- in case you are looking for an illustrated recipe. I haven't actually tried to make a recipe from this blog, but I find the pictures pretty. Visual learners might like this approach to cooking. I can also see children engaging with the illustrations.

I like this Halloween themed illustration:They Draw and Cook: Monster's Favourite Pumpkin Soup by Maria Bogade

And this one:They Draw and Cook: Gnocchi by Emilia Szewczyk

Would you use an illustrated recipe for cooking?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Dear Mr. Radar: Volume 1

Dear Mr. Radar:

You are traveling again, which means I miss you. I know that you are out, working hard and being the perfect nerd that you are. I am so proud that you are now the scientist and professional that you dreamed of becoming. You have-and continue- to work so hard. Soon you will be Dr. Radar, and I couldn't be more proud.

You refuse to give up on me, supporting me no matter what. I change my mind often, and am frequently difficult. You are steady and patient in spite of it all. I appreciate your love and support more than you could possibly know. 2010 has been a difficult, unkind year. Even though there are quite a few months to go- I couldn't have made it through the last ten months without you.

Fall is your favorite time of year. It's a beautiful, reflective time of year. Fall is the time to give thanks. And I am so thankful for you.

The first two photos are were taken by the lovely and talented Faye Sommer.

Friday, October 8, 2010

SK's Acorn Squash Quesadillas

Mr. Radar and I loved this recipe. Except for one tiny problem. This is HOT!!! Mr. Radar loved it- and he loves spicy food- but even he was grabbing a glass of milk to put out the fire in his mouth.

So, I've reduced the pepper content in here. I think spice level depends on the freshness and quality of the hot peppers you use. We procured our peppers from our friend, George. I also added some black beans for some protein. Forget the salsa. Serve this with a heaping spoonful of sour cream.

Acorn Squash Quesadillas
Adapted from SmittenKitchen

1 small/medium acorn squash
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 tablespoons diced white onion
1 tablespoon minced jalapeno
1 clove garlic, minced
2 poblano peppers, roasted, peeled and cut into strips
Salt and pepper to taste
10-inch flour tortillas
1 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese
1/2 cooked black beans (unflavored and rinsed if from a can)
Butter for frying quesadillas

First, roast the acorn squash. Preheat the oven to 400. Halve the squash, scoop out the seeds, and cut each half into half-inch slices. Rub the slices with olive oil and roast for about 20-25 minutes, until soft.

If you are more patient than I am, wait for the squash to cool. (I, of course, would rather burn my fingers than I have something wrong with me?!) Cut the skin off of each slice carefully, trying to preserve as much flesh as possible. Dice the squash.

Saute the onions, garlic, jalepeno and poblano peppers in a large skillet. Add the squash and cook for another 5 or 10 minutes, until the squash is very tender. Add the black beans.

Spread a few tablespoons of the cooked squash mixture onto one half of a 10-inch flour tortilla. Generously sprinkle with cheese. Fold over and place in a hot pan with melted butter, and fry until crispy. Cut into wedges and serve hot!