Thursday, December 5, 2013
I've never really liked "grape flavored" foods, but I've always loved eating fresh grapes. As I've gotten older, I've started to really enjoy foods made from real grapes like jelly or juice (or wine), but I still can't stand anything grape flavored (e.g., fake grape flavors in candy). For the past couple of years I have been wanting to make a concord grape pie. We live in an area surrounded by grape growing and wine making, and I guess grape pie is pretty common (although I had not seen or tasted it in real life before I made this tart). But, I was intrigued by the idea of it and during the peak of concord grape season, I prepared the filling and froze it to make a different pie for Thanksgiving this year. It ended up being a tart because I had less grapes than I needed to make a pie -- but it worked out well because the grapes are so sweet, that the layer was thick enough for me! Everyone enjoyed this tart and the grape flavor was so bright and pronounced. I highly recommend saving this recipe for next fall and giving it a try! If you want to have it at your next Thanksgiving dinner, you can freeze the grapes after they cool and then just stir in the remaining ingredients after they thaw. This recipe will make one 9-inch tart.
Concord grape tart with cinnamon crumble
for the filling:
1-3/4 lbs. concord grapes
scant 1/2 cup sugar, preferably unbleached cane sugar
4 tablespoons cornstarch (I used organic)
for the crumble:
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
pinch of sea salt
3 packed tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small cubes
one recipe for your favorite pie crust (or this one with olive oil)
First prepare the grape filling. Slip each grape out of its skin and put the pulp in a medium saucepan and the skin in a large bowl. Heat the pulp over medium heat, stirring often, until soft, about 10 minutes. Then place a fine mesh sieve over the bowl of skins and place the pulp into the sieve. Use a wooden spoon or rubber spatula the press the pulp through the sieve until the majority of the pulp is in the bowl and the seeds remain in the sieve. Stir the grape mixture and let cool. Then stir in the sugar and cornstarch (making sure there are no lumps).
While the filling cools, prepare the crumble. Whisk together the flour, salt, brown sugar, and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Then cut in the cold butter using your fingers until it is distributed and small clumps form. Place in the refrigerator.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Fit the crust into a 9-inch tart pan on a baking sheet. Pour in the filling. Bake for 10 minutes and then scatter the cold crumble on top. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees and continue to bake until the crust and crumble are golden and the filling is set and bubbly, about 25-30 minutes.
Remove from the oven and let cool completely before serving.
What was I cooking one year ago?: clementine and anise seed cookies
Two years ago?: roasted butternut squash with baby spinach and pomegranate
Three?: turkey and cranberry paninis
Monday, December 2, 2013
Delicious, creamy steel-cut oats are even better when they are cooked with pumpkin puree, maple syrup, and spices. It makes for a hearty and hot breakfast that is perfect for a cold morning. I make these oats quite frequently during the cold months - basically whenever I have leftover winter squash puree. This time I used pumpkin, but you could use butternut, buttercup, hubbard, kabocha, etc. I had some leftover fresh pumpkin puree from making my pumpkin pie, so it was a perfect time to share this recipe with the 12 Weeks of Winter Squash. This is week 5 and you can join anytime just by linking up your winter squash recipes using the linky at the bottom of this post.
This recipe will make two large servings of oats. If you haven't started using steel cut oats versus rolled or instant yet, I highly recommend giving them a try. They take a bit longer to make, but have a great texture and heartiness that the others don't have.
Pumpkin spice steel cut oats
1/2 cup steel cut oats
1 cup water
1/3 cup pumpkin puree
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
pinch of sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
good pinch of ground cloves
for serving (optional):
pecans or walnuts, lightly toasted
milk or cream
extra maple syrup
In a medium pot, whisk together all of the ingredients (oats through cloves) and cook over medium heat, whisking occasionally. When the mixture comes to a boil, whisk well, reduce to a simmer, and cover. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the oats are thick, creamy, and soft, about 20 minutes. Taste for seasoning.
Serve hot and top with nuts, milk, and/or extra maple syrup, as desired.
What was I cooking one year ago?: West African chicken and peanut stew
Two years ago?: apricot glazed chicken with almonds
Three?: molten chocolate lava cake
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
It seems like almost every year I come up with a new way to make cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving. Whether it's using clementines and ginger or oranges, the cranberries that come to our table are different almost each year. This year I decided to incorporate persimmon, specifically the fuyu persimmon. Persimmons are an underutilized fruit, in my opinion. They are in season this time of year and can be found in many grocery stores. There are some varieties that are native to North America and they grown here as well. Persimmons are a lovely burnt orange color when ripe and are very sweet and delicious. Since they are so sweet, they provide a nice counter-balance in flavor to the tart cranberries.
This recipe is a cinch to throw together, as are most fresh cranberry sauces. I hope that you will consider making a fresh cranberry sauce this year if you don't already. This would also make a great addition to upcoming holiday dinners and would pair nicely with many roasted meats.
Persimmon cranberry sauce
1 bag (12 oz.) fresh cranberries, rinsed
1/3 cup water
4-5 tablespoons honey
1 cinnamon stick, broken in half
1 star anise
1 ripe fuyu persimmon, peeled and diced
In a medium saucepan, combine the cranberries, water, honey (start with 4 tablespoons), cinnamon, and star anise. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until most of the cranberries pop, about 15 minutes. Taste and add more honey (or a bit of granulated sugar), if needed. Remove from the heat, take out the spices, and stir in the persimmon.
Let cool and serve at room temperature or cold. Store in the refrigerator.
What was I cooking one year ago?: old-fashioned pumpkin pie
Two years ago?: slow cooker chili macaroni
Three?: creamy cauliflower soup
Monday, November 25, 2013
Welcome to Week 4 of 12 Weeks of Winter Squash! If you have a winter squash recipe on your blog this week, feel free to post it using the linky below. I love to see all the new and creative winter squash recipes each week.
This week I created a recipe that combines spaghetti squash and chicken with a creamy and spicy jalapeno sauce. Now that the snow has arrived, I've been craving casseroles, soups, stews, and all those stick-to-your-ribs type of meals. Plus, I have been looking for ways to make more frugal dishes, and that includes finding ways to stretch meat in our meals. It also helps that the spaghetti squash and peppers I used in this recipe were from my father-in-law's garden. I have been making a big effort lately to create meals around what we have at home. While there are still some things that I want to make that involve a big shopping trip, I'm trying to limit those and be creative with what we have on hand. This dish allowed me to stretch one large organic free-range chicken breast into four servings. We ate this along with a green salad tossed with oil and vinegar for a full meal. Don't be afraid of using the jalapenos (even some seeds), pepper jack, and potentially some cayenne - the spaghetti squash, chicken, and milk are bland on their own and need these bold flavors!
Creamy jalapeno spaghetti squash and chicken bake
1 medium spaghetti squash
2 scallions, thinly sliced, greens and whites separated
2 jalapenos, minced (remove seeds for less heat)
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, preferably unbleached
1-1/2 cups whole milk
1 cooked chicken breast cubed (about 1 cup total)
sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
3/4 cup shredded pepper jack cheese
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cut the spaghetti squash in half lengthwise. Scrape out the seeds and place on a lightly oiled baking sheet cut side down. Bake until you can pierce the skin with a fork, about 20-25 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool while you make the sauce.
In a large skillet, heat one tablespoon of olive oil. Add the scallion whites, jalapeno, and garlic. Cook, stirring often, until softened, about 3-4 minutes. Add another drizzle of olive oil and then stir in the flour. Cook, stirring often, for about one minute and then whisk in the milk. Continue to whisk and cook until the milk begins to thicken. Remove from heat. Then stir in the chicken and season with salt and pepper. At this time, you may add the cayenne pepper, if using (to your taste).
Scrape the spaghetti squash out of the skin using a fork and pulling it into strands. Stir into the sauce along with the chopped cilantro and half of the scallion greens.
Lightly grease an 8x8 inch baking dish. Pour the mixture into the baking dish and spread evenly. Top with the pepper jack cheese. Bake until hot and bubbly, about 15-20 minutes. Top with remaining scallion greens and serve hot.
What was I cooking one year ago?: shredded brussel sprouts with chestnuts and pomegranate
Two years ago?: cranberry sauce quickbread
Three?: chocolate chip pumpkin bread
Thursday, November 21, 2013
I spent some time recently with my nine year old cousin. While I was watching her, I thought she might enjoy helping make some cookies. I was partially right... she wasn't very excited about the idea at first, but once she got on an apron and starting helping me measure and stir, she become more excited. The cookies turned out pretty good, though were larger than I had planned -- it's okay though - it worked and they were delicious. These cookies have a hint of pumpkin flavor in them along with the flavors and cakey texture of a good gingerbread. So once the cookies were finished, we both enjoyed a warm one from the oven. After they cooled, I packed up some of them for her to take home and share. I always hope that cooking with kids inspires them to want to cook throughout their lives and help bring them a little bit closer connection to their food.
This recipe ended up making about 2 dozen cookies. You can make them smaller and probably get about 3 dozen out of them (decrease the cooking time). These cookies are a nice transition from fall to winter in their flavors.
Pumpkin gingerbread cookies
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar, preferably unbleached cane sugar, plus more for sprinkling
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1 large egg
1/4 cup blackstrap molasses
1 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2-1/3 cups all-purpose flour, preferably unbleached
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
In a large bowl, or in the bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar until light and creamy. Beat in the pumpkin, egg, molasses, and vanilla until combined.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, and spices. Then gently stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until combined. Wrap the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for one hour.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees with a rack at the upper half of the oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Take about 1-1/2 tablespoons of the dough at a time and roll it into a ball and place on the cookie sheets. Repeat, placing about 1-1/2 inches apart. Gently press down each cookie and sprinkle with a bit of sugar. Place in the oven (upper half) and bake until the edges and bottoms turn golden, about 11-13 minutes. Remove from the oven and let sit on the baking sheet for a couple minutes and then transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool.
What was I cooking one year ago?: maple pecan pie
Two years ago?: ginger-clementine cranberry sauce
Three?: sour cream and onion dip