Category Archives: Recipe Swaps

Sticky Sentimentality

I wrote this last week before leaving on a limited-internet-access vacation. By the time this post is published, our trip will be almost over and we might be cursing the snow but I bet we’ll be fantasizing about moving back to the mountains.

A taste of what’s to come.

Tomorrow Lee and I are boarding a plane for Denver, the city where we met. I anticipate heavy sentimentality saturating this vacation. We’ll be spending time in the mountains where so many of our early dates (and by dates I mean expeditions) took place. Maybe we’ll drive past places we used to live, restaurants where we ate together, sights we knew.

Unfortunately, this kind of thing makes me very sad. I inherited this morose nostalgia from my father. Even looking back to see happy memories makes me sad that those experiences are over. I suppose this has something to do with my inability to live in and enjoy the present…gonna have to work on that.

In an effort to rescue myself and this vacation from despondency, I thought I’d share a little bit of my happy memories from the Colorado era of my life. I moved to Denver for graduate school in 2007, landed a career-changing internship with the National Park Service in the summer of 2008, and met my future husband in the same month.

I look back on that time as the happiest of my life. Lee and I went on adventures in the mountains together. We had season ski passes and spent almost every weekend doing something active outdoors. We spent time at my family’s cabin and dragged my dog up a few 14ers. I had good friends in my graduate program and landed a series of jobs in my field.

I wouldn’t say that I’ve been unhappy since I left Colorado, life has just been more complicated. I left the hardest part of graduate school (writing my thesis) for after we moved back east. Once that was behind me, the years Lee and I spent travelling on our boat were simultaneously wonderful and excruciatingly difficult. We got married (yay!) but we also put our relationship and our individual strengths to the test.

Fruit cake, this month’s recipe swap dish, is sticky sentimentality manifested in food. I think of it as being saturated with buttery, sweet, dense, richness – everything that a holiday treat should be. I also associate fruit cake with vintage cookbooks, something I’ve been up to my ears in lately. We found two more boxes of my grandmother’s cookbooks and I’ve been drooling over the little time capsules of culinary history.

A James Beard cookbook that my great aunt gave my grandmother on her 39th birthday caught my eye first but it was The Southern Hospitality Cookbook that ended up on my lap one evening. I paged through recipes for Southern classics and wondered which of them Helen had made. Moussaka, of all things, was bookmarked but I found my way to a simple recipe for cranberry bread. I had fresh cranberries (from the CSA, of course) in my fridge. I had almost all the ingredients. As Lee would say, done and done.

This is not a fruit cake. It bears no resemblance to the classic fruit cake recipe Christianna sent us for this month’s recipe swap. True, it is festive, but it lacks the sticky-sweet sentimentality of fruit cake. Maybe that’s for the best. Clearly I don’t need any more nostalgia in my life.

I know my fellow recipe swappers will give you a dose of the traditional and untraditional fruit cake you crave!



Cranberry Bread

Ingredients

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup melted coconut oil or softened butter
  • 3/4 cup pineapple or orange juice
  • 1 large egg
  • Seeds scraped from one vanilla bean or 1 tablespoon grated orange rind are nice additions.
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 2 cups chopped fresh cranberries (a food processor is great for this!)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. If melting coconut oil, place in oven in an oven safe dish.
  3. Oil one 9X5 loaf pan or several smaller pans.
  4. In a large bowl, stir dry ingredients (first 6) together with a whisk or fork.
  5. Cut in coconut oil or butter with a whisk, two knives, or a pastry blender.
  6. Beat egg, juice, and vanilla bean, if using, together in a separate bowl.
  7. Add liquid ingredients to dry, stirring until just moistened.
  8. Fold in pecans and cranberries
  9. Pour mixture into prepared loaf pan(s). The batter is rather thick so you might need to spread it around a little bit.
  10. Bake for 30-35 minutes for mini loaves and 45 minutes to 1 hour for a large loaf, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the bread comes out clean and the top is slightly brown.
  11. Cool on a rack before slicing.

Notes

Adapted from The Southern Hospitality Cookbook

Schema/Recipe SEO Data Markup by ZipList Recipe Plugin
http://blog.muffinegg.com/2012/12/10/sticky-sentimentality/

5 Comments

Filed under Bread, Breakfast, desserts, Recipe Swaps, snacks

Carrot…pie? A Recipe Swap and a giveaway!

Perhaps I reacted to this month’s Burwell General Store Recipe Swap recipe a little differently than most people. I was ready to cook up some carrots and bake a pie! Carrot pie sounded like another delicious variation of some of my favorite pies: pumpkin and sweet potato. Could carrot pie be even better because of what it has in common with carrot cake (my absolute favorite)?

I wanted to find out whether another orange vegetable would make a lovely, fall-flavored pie so I decided to stick closely to the original recipe. That turned out to be pretty easy, since the recipe was so vague that I didn’t have a rigid ingredient list to follow. It reads something like an oral history gathered by some culinary folklorist. Can I have that job, please?

I steamed “the carrots”, added them to milk and eggs, sweetened them with sugar, and added cinnamon for spice. That wasn’t all, of course. The full recipe is at the bottom of this post. My take on carrot pie includes ricotta cheese and allspice but no crust. I gave up baking custard pies in crust long ago. All I want is the filling so baking that in little ramekins or muffin cups makes dessert much more enjoyable to me.

Individual custard cups may not be quite as pretty as a whole pie and sometimes it’s nice to have some crunch with your silky-smooth filling. That’s where this bag of granola comes in!

I happened to have a bag of Cherry Berry Granola in my pantry from the NatureBox each blogger received as part of the Foodbuzz Festival gift bag. NatureBox delivers a monthly package of healthy snacks anywhere you need them (in the U.S.). They come in neat little resealable pouches and have already saved me from a snack black hole at least once. I love the dried fruit, nut mix, and Blueberry Almond Bites but I’m especially excited about the granola, since it’s on the light side – just how I like granola – with a good ratio of oats to whole almonds and dried berries.

The crunchy granola was a perfect topping for my carrot custard, which was still warm and gooey when I snacked on it yesterday afternoon. It was reminiscent of pumpkin or sweet potato pie but with more substance, thanks to the ricotta cheese, and plenty of flavor from the vanilla bean and spices. Lee and I did a bike/run brick workout that morning so I snacked for the rest of the day. The rest of my little carrot pies went in the fridge for weeknight desserts.

 

If you’d like to try some healthy, convenient snacks for yourself, NatureBox has generously offered one of their future month’s boxes to one of my lucky readers! All you have to do is comment on this post telling my where and when you most need a snack during the day. The winner will be chosen at random from those comments. One entry per person, please. I will announce the winner in 1 week. At this time, NatureBox can only deliver to U.S. addresses and cannot customize box contents. Be sure to check out the NatureBox Blog for delicious recipes and snack ideas!

You’ll also find inventive recipes inspired by carrot pie from my fellow recipe swappers below.



Little Crustless Carrot Pies

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 6 half-cup ramekins

Ingredients

  • 3 medium-sized carrots
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese*
  • 1/4 cup milk (dairy or non-dairy)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup coconut sugar, brown sugar, or other sweetener of choice
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Seeds scraped from 1 vanilla bean or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Cut carrots into 1 inch chunks and steam until tender.
  3. Puree carrots in a food processor or using a hand blender.
  4. In a large bowl, beat the eggs.
  5. Add ricotta cheese, milk, sugar, spices, salt, and vanilla, stirring with a whisk until well blended.
  6. Add carrots and stir until combined.
  7. Pour batter into ramekins coated with a little oil or silicone muffin liners. Place these on a baking sheet.
  8. Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes or until the center of each pie is solid and the edges begin to pull away from the dish.
  9. Cool on a wire rack until ready to eat.
  10. Pies may be served warm or chilled, topped with granola, cookie crumbs, or even whipped cream. If using muffin cups, you may remove pies form the cups before serving as long as they are significantly cooled.

Notes

* Yogurt or pureed tofu may be substituted for ricotta.

Schema/Recipe SEO Data Markup by ZipList Recipe Plugin
http://blog.muffinegg.com/2012/11/05/carrot-pie-a-recipe-swap-and-a-giveaway/

27 Comments

Filed under desserts, Recipe Swaps, snacks

A plate full of good food

Seeing as my last post was September’s Recipe Swap, my blogging frequency is clearly suffering. I’ve been busy blah blah blah…I’ve still been cooking blah blah blah…I’m done making excuses. More on that later.

Apples: One of the many ingredients in Russian Salad.

 Christianna dished out a doozy of a recipe for everyone, as usual. On my first read, I didn’t catch the veal or herring part of the Russian Salad. Potatoes, apples, beets, eggs, good vinegar – everything sounded good to me! I’ve never made a raw egg dressing before but considered giving it a try. According to Wikipedia, the dressing recipe for the original Russian Salad was closely guarded by its creator, chef Lucien Olivier, back in 1860′s Moscow.

Lee, Doc (the dog), and I have been on vacation for the past week. We drove the 15 or so hours (I’m a Californian, I measure distance in hours, not miles) to Jackson Hole, Wyoming over the course of a day and a half. Then we spent one glorious week alternately relaxing, and, as Lee says, “power hiking” the trails of Teton National Park. To say it was beautiful would be an understatement. Between the fall-colored Aspens and Cottonwoods and the spectacular peaks I was barely paying enough attention to see all the wildlife. There were bears, moose, elk, deer, and bison. Until last week, I’d never seen a moose or a bear in the wild! Now I can say that my 15 pound dog has chased a bear (Don’t worry, the bear was oblivious and Doc just wanted to play!). The only downside to all this wildlife was watching people do stupid things to get a closer look. People disappoint me.

Do you see the moose?

I missed good food on our trip. We had some nice meals in Jackson and I got to cook with my mom in the condo, so that was nice. Driving through northern Nevada and Idaho, though, was rather trying for a non meat-eater. There were lots of potatoes, mostly in french-fried or mashed with butter in a 1-1 ratio. We ate breakfast at a roadside restaurant whose special was the “Giant Chicken Fried Steak Breakfast”. It was large enough to startle the (relative) locals next to us even when split between two plates.

As you might guess, I was in serious need of some vegetables by the time we got home on Saturday. Thankfully there was a bag of Red Norland Potatoes left in the fridge from our last CSA box. A thawed block of tofu and bag of Brussels sprouts later, I had exactly what I needed: a plate full of good food. That’s how I imagine the original Russian Salad: a heap of good food that works well together, especially in this transition to comforting Fall dishes full of root vegetables and apples. I may just start calling all my potato-based, weirdly delicious, concoctions Russian Salads.

 A Simple Plate of Good Food

10-12 small red potatoes, halved or quartered

1 block extra firm tofu, frozen and thawed if you like it extra crispy

Lots of Brussels sprouts

olive oil, S&P, dill

hot sauce/ketchup

Roast the potatoes and tofu with olive oil and seasonings for 20-25 minutes at 375 F, stirring half way through. With 15 minutes left, add the Brussels sprouts to the oven, halved with cut side down on a separate baking sheet. Once everything is done, toss a little of everything on your plate. Don’t forget the hot sauce and ketchup, if you’re into that kind of thing.

I apologize for this sad excuse for a recipe. I’m sure my fellow Recipe Swappers have much, much more polished interpretations of Russian Salad for you.



4 Comments

Filed under CSA, Recipe Swaps

Oddities in Context

What fruit cake?! Pork…in a fruit cake. Okay, people, here’s the thing. I don’t do pork. Sure, I loved a crisp slice of bacon or a juicy BBQ tenderloin back in the day but the thought of “one pound of pork” in a cake – baked slowly and then kept around for a while to make it even tastier – that’s nasty.

Christianna sure dished out a doosey for this month’s Recipe Swap. She even dug up a new (to us) vintage cookbook, the Nebraska Pioneer Cookbook. You gotta love the wood stove and the plaid table-cloth on the cover.

I have to admit, as a pioneer braving the wild Nebraskan plains, a pork fruit cake would probably be the most delicious thing I could ever dream of eating. Think of it as the wild west version of the energy bar: you’d get your protein, carbohydrates, and fat all in one stick-to-your-ribs hunk of food! Just slather on some butter and you’d be ready to ride all day!

Hand a Nebraskan cowboy a Powerbar and he’d probably spit it right back at you. Now, hand that same cowboy one of these muffins and I doubt you’d get so much as a questioning glance. Just don’t say anything about the tofu.

My thought process leading to these muffins went something like this:

Yuck! Pork Fruit Cake! -> What odd ingredient would a vegetarian put in fruit cake -> Tofu! -> I’ve got all these tomatoes and I really want to bake with them -> There’s that classic spice cake recipe with a can of tomato soup -> I’ll use tomatoes and tofu!

Slow-roasted tomatoes were the perfect sweet, smokey (dare I say meaty) addition to a block of silken tofu. Blended smooth, the tofu-tomato mixture was delicious on its own (thinned-out it would make an awesome tomato soup) and an adequately odd ingredient for muffins. Here’s where I screwed up: I decided to throw in the last tablespoon of blackstrap molasses at the bottom of the jar. Have you ever taken a recipe experiment just one ingredient too far and blacked-out other flavors in the process? Well, I lost all trace of the tomato-tofu puree when I added that little bit of molasses. I’m sure it still added moisture and protein of course but the muffins I ended up with were very good…molasses muffins! Argh!

Some day soon I’ll make these muffins again without the molasses. Until then. I’m going to enjoy my apple-studded pork-free snacks. The spices remind me that Fall is almost here and these are sweet enough to keep me away from the ice cream carton after dinner.



Molasses Tomato Muffins

Cook Time: PT25-30M

Yield: 16-18 muffins

If you're in the mood for a traditional Mystery Cake (aka. Tomato Soup Cake) this recipe from King Arthur Flour is the one on which I based my muffins.

Ingredients

  • 1/3 palm sugar (or whatever sweetener you like to use)
  • 1 large egg, well beaten
  • 12oz silken tofu (plain yogurt, sour cream, or pumpkin puree would be good too)
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup slow roasted tomatoes. I used this recipe minus the spices.
  • 1 tablespoon blackstrap molasses diluted with 1/4 cup warm coffee to get it out of the jar
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour (or your preferred flour)
  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • About two cups chopped apple

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Prepare a muffin tin with some kind of liner or oil.
  3. In a food processor or in a large bowl, using a hand blender, thoroughly blend tofu and tomatoes. The mixture should be smooth with no lumps.
  4. If using a food processor, transfer the mixture to a large bowl at this point.
  5. Add remaining wet ingredients plus sugar to tofu, mixing completely.
  6. In a separate bowl, whisk together dry ingredients.
  7. Stir dry ingredients into wet and fold in apples, avoiding over-stirring.
  8. Spoon batter into muffin cups. These don't rise excessively high so you can fill the cups to the top.
  9. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes.
  10. Cool on a wire rack and store in the fridge for longer shelf-life.

Notes

I used leftover coffee to get the last bit of molasses out of the jar on a whim. It worked great but feel free to substitute water, juice, or milk.

If you don't have roasted tomatoes leave them out. It'll work without them. You could also get crazy and add some sun dried tomatoes (packed in oil or re-hydrated).

Schema/Recipe SEO Data Markup by ZipList Recipe Plugin
http://blog.muffinegg.com/2012/09/11/oddities-in-context/

5 Comments

Filed under muffins, Recipe Swaps