Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Spaghetti Squash Gratin With Basil

Every day is a new adventure and this one is blogging mid flight en route to Michigan!  That's right folks, I am now somewhere in the sky above the Cascades!  I don't think this technology is that new, but it's still boggling my mind.  My not so inner food is silently screaming at my flight neighbor, so far she has downed not one, but two Big Macs.  Two!  I've never had one in my entire life (I fear I am the worldly exception) and somehow some of their not-so-special sauce ended up on my jacket. 

In the spirit of the holidays, I think I'll keep chanting my mantra "tis the season to be jolly, tis the season to eat whatever the hell thy wants."  I mean, I didn't eat a handful or five of puppy chow last night because I ran out of food… who would do such a thing?  I really can't complain, with my wifi, a free copy of Bon Appetit and Sufjan Stevens Christmas music I should be able to enjoy the friendly skies (even though there is a fair amount of turbulence right now).

I have a large number of photos of cookies to edit, but I have been meaning to post this recipe for a while now.  The main reason I haven't?  The photo is horrible and doesn't do this dish justice.  Every. Single. Time. I make this, it is after 8 o'clock and I am eating by the light of florescent light bulbs.  It's quite romantic, trust me, especially the loving glow it casts on my food in photographs.  I found this recipe in the New York Times "Dining for Health" section sometime in October and it has been an inexpensive and healthy staple ever since.  I even taught Gabe, a guy who can't even boil water, how to make this. No matter how much the succulent squash weighs, Trader Joe's will only charge me $3 per gourd!  I almost feel like I'm robbing them when I scurry out the front doors cradling spaghetti squash in grocery bag shrouds.  Any squash leftover from roasting can be frozen in one cup increments for a (seemingly) indefinite amount of time.

**The only part of this dish that isn't so cheap is the Gruyère cheese, but if you don't feel like dropping $15 on a chunk of cheese, any slightly salty but essentially earthy cheese can be substituted in a snap.

I think I need a nap.  I've been up since 4 am Seattle-time… at least I won't have any troubles falling asleep when I'm back in Michigan.

If I don't have a chance to blog again before Christmas, Happy Christmahanakwanzika!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Cranberry Marzipan BonBon's

I think a better name for these would be "Most Addictive German Candies EVER" (it's what I have so eloquently called them for the past year).  I realize that this is not the most politically correct way to describe a dessert, but oh boy oh boy, I can't stop eating these once I've started.  A few nights ago, I gave a plant of cookies away and the guy said "these are so flavorful, you almost need a tall glass of milk to go with them!"  In my little world, that's a pretty good compliment!

I going to make a wild assumption and guess that you don't know Bjoern.  Well, other than my parents and friends from Michigan, most of you don't know of his glory.  Bjoern and I met within the first few weeks of my senior year at U of M; he was a Fulbright scholar trucked over from Germany to study naval architecture and marine engineering.  Needless to say we hit it off very quickly and he instantly became one of my dearest friends (well, at least my dearest German friend, and this is a larger category than one might think!)  For Christmas last year, he gave me a tin full of these bonbons and I have been addicted ever since.  This was a decently sized tin, capable of holding at least 20 or so treats and I actually had to hide them from myself.  I put them atop my armoire, made them extremely difficult to get to and they still disappeared in less than 5 days.  The ghost of Christmas weight gain was once again rearing her ugly head.

As you can imagine, I have been begging Bjoern for this recipe ever since then.  He just sent it to me.  JUST.  His excuse was that the recipe was in German (he translated it for me) and all the measurements were metric.  I could have worked with that; I would have MADE it work.  Last week he sent me a translated copy of the recipe, still in metric but I weigh everything anyways, and I got to baking that night.  Even now I have to to tell myself "No, these cookies are for other people.  Not for you to eat.  Think of all the joy you'll bring people!"  Then I promptly eat one more.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Brown Butter Pumpkin Layer Cake

Yes, that IS snow on the table outside!
Did this recipe deserve the cover of Fine Cooking magazine?  Yeah, I'm pretty sure it did.  Once again, I am behind on posting and I even pushed this one up in the cue because I really liked the picture and I feel like I need to redeem myself from the previous two posts.  I know I've whined about this before, but really Seattle?  You really have to make the sun start setting at 3pm?  When I was sick this last weekend, I didn't even get UP until 3 pm (I was sick!)… let alone try and take pictures of food.

I made this cake for Thanksgiving this year, my first one away from Michigan.  I could tell you a sob story about it (there really wasn't one…), but instead I baked my feelings away during the Snowpocalypse that happened just a few days before T-Day.  To all my Michiganders out there, please feel free to be disgusted, but the whole city of Seattle shutdown for almost two days before of 3 (THREE!) inches of snow.  I couldn't get to work on Monday or Tuesday and to get ingredients for this cake, I had to walk over a mile, half of it up and down a huge ice covered hill, to the Interbay QFC.  I then found out that one of the Thanksgivings I was going to didn't have power (they eventually got it back on in time) over on the Olympic Peninsula.  Say it with me now, SERIOUSLY Seattle?

I brought this over to my first Thanksgiving of the evening, hosted by my neighbors Doug & Elspeth!  I know they read my blog, so I'll only say nice thing about them, but honestly, there are only nice things to say about them!  Soon after moving in they greeted me and invited Rachel and I over for some wine.  We regularly go over to their place and I feel comforted knowing they're my neighbor!  Thanks guys!

Anyways… this cake is delicious!  I mean, actually plate licking delicious.  The cake portion is so moist and soft, but still has a tight enough crumb that frosting it isn't difficult at all.  Topping wise, I couldn't have thought up of a more perfect combination.  The toasted nuts contrast perfectly with the heat of the ginger while the pepitas provide an unexpected but welcome crunch.  To finish it off, the frosting is wonderful but I think the recipe developers were a little skimpy with the ingredients - I barely had just enough frosting.  Next time I'll make a little more.  However, it was nice that there wasn't much sugar in the frosting.

I know the pumpkin season is ending as we move into the non-stop feast on holiday cookies, but I swear this will be worth your while.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Pumpkin Fudge

Oh pumpkin, how you infiltrate my life for a few months every year.  Your warming goodness is just too enticing - I cannot resist!  Regretfully, the pumpkin season is slowing coming to a close for most people, but at least I have enough frozen pumpkin puree in my freezer to last me through a nuclear war.  So sit tight with me while I continue to publish posts that pertain to pumpkin for a few more months.  It'll be worth it… I think.

I assume you've already heard enough about my Friendsgiving feast I had a few weeks back so I'll spare you and just get onto what this fudge tastes like.  I did bring it to the party for the dessert portion of the meal, so you could ask everyone in attendance, but you'll most likely have to trust my word.  However, I think you do need some photographic evidence to prove that this blessed meal actually happened.  This would be our "awkward family photo."  I also have one of everyone recreating the Last Supper, but everyone is just so much prettier in this one:

Fudge.  Right, the main course of this post.  Obviously it's delicious, and that's saying a lot coming from me!  I was spoiled with the World Famous Mackinaw Island Fudge growing up and little can live up to it for me.  The original recipe called for chopped walnuts and white chocolate (so I guess you can add those in if you want) but I'm a purist and like my chocolate dark... just like!  If anything, I can make the logical excuse that dark chocolate is actually healthy for you!  Don't mind the fact that the recipe also has butter, marshmallow and evaporated milk… just think of that as "extra warmth for the winter."  Right?  The initial flavor note in the fudge is pumpkin, but is soon diluted by the soft flavor of chocolate.  Texture wise, it almost melts in your mouth, which if you're like me, leads to eating a lot of little squares of fudge.

Pumpkin Fudge

Adapted from: Sweet Pea's Kitchen
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 2/3 cup evaporated milk
  • 2/3 cup pureed pumpkin
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon allspice
  • 2 cups dark chocolate chips
  • 1 jar (7 oz.) marshmallow crème (I couldn't find any, so I chopped up large marshmallows)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  1. Line a 13 x 9-inch baking pan with foil letting the foil extend up the two short sides of the pan and overhang slightly on both ends.
  2. In a heavy saucepan, combine sugar, brown sugar, evaporated milk, pumpkin, butter and spice. Bring to a full rolling boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Boil, stirring constantly, for 10 to 12 minutes or until candy thermometer reaches 234° to 240º F (soft-ball stage).
  3. Quickly stir in dark chocolate chips, marshmallow crème (or mini marshmallows), and vanilla extract. Stir vigorously for 1 minute or until morsels are melted. Immediately pour into prepared pan and top with remaining 1/4 cup walnuts. Let stand on wire rack for 2 hours or until completely cooled. Refrigerate tightly covered. To cut, lift from pan; remove foil. Cut into 1-inch pieces.


Blog Widget by LinkWithin