Saturday, October 26, 2013

Pumpkin Bread

If you haven't read this piece from McSweeny's, you are missing out. The first time I read it, I laughed so hard I cried.

At this point, I try to keep canned pumpkin in the house at all times in case the urge to bake strikes. I was planning to make some more muffins, but Scott requested bread. Pumpkin bread, you say? Happy to oblige!

Notes: I adapted this recipe only slightly. If you're not a big fan of cloves, I'd knock it back to a 1/4 teaspoon. You can really taste them. I don't mind, so I left it as is. If you wanted a more pumpkin pie flavor, add in some ground ginger.

Make this when you're planning to have company over. Your house will smell amazing.

This bread is chewy and delicious and everything fall should be.

1 2/3 cup flour
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/3 cup butter, melted

Directions: Heat the oven 325.

Grease a loaf pan.

In a large bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients. Make a well in the center and add in the butter and pumpkin. Mix with a spoon until just combined.

Pour the ingredients in the prepared loaf pan and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean. Let cool for 10 minutes, remove from loaf pan and transfer to a rack. Serve and enjoy!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Fall Lasagna

I usually refer to the season between summer and winter as "fall," but the word "autumn" has a nice sound. I particularly like it because when you make it an adjective, it becomes "autumnal." I thought about calling this dish "autumnal lasagna" but I thought it was too much of a mouthful. Luckily, the dish itself isn't!

Notes: There are two important tips to remember. First, slice thinly. The sprouts and squash have to cook through in the lasagna. Second, pull everything out of the fridge with enough time for it to come to room temperature. Room temperature = more even baking.

I'm not a huge fan of the combination of tomatoes and squash, so I decided to make a bechamel sauce to combine with my marinara. If you're pressed for time or don't are for bechamel, you can skip that step.

1 butternut squash
1 small bunch brussel sprouts
1 box no-boil lasagna noodles
26 oz. marinara sauce
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1/3 cup milk
2 teaspoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic
2 small  or 1 large fresh mozzarella balls
15 oz. ricotta cheese
1 bunch fresh sage

Directions: Heat oven to 375.

In a large skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add flour and whisk until it forms a smooth paste. While whisking, pour in milk. Whisk until thickened. Add in the marinara and stir together. Remove from heat and set aside.

Peel the squash. Slice it in half and scoop out the seeds. Thinly slice it. Mince the garlic and sage. Use a mandolin or sharp knife and slice the brussel sprouts as thinly as possible. In a large bowl, combine the slices sprouts with oil, half the sage, and syrup. Season with salt and pepper.

In another bowl, combine the ricotta cheese with minced garlic and other half of the sage.

In a 9x13 baking dish, add 1 cup of marinara sauce. Layer 4 noodles, 1/3 of the ricotta mixture, one layer of sliced squash, and 1/3 of brussel sprouts. Top with another cup of sauce and repeat the layers two more times. Add the last layer of noodles and top with the remaining sauce. Slice the mozzarella and lay it on top.

Cover with foil and bake 35 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for 10 more minutes. Serve and enjoy!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Pear Gingerbread

I am still on my baking kick, but as predicted, it has tapered off a bit since school started. I recently found this recipe for pear gingerbread and I knew I had to give it a try.

Notes: I tweaked the recipe a bit. I was thinking I'd like to grate the pears, but my pears were definitely too soft for that. So I just diced them.

1 cup of flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Dash of cloves
1 teaspoon of grated ginger
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup molasses
1 large, 2 medium, or 3 small pears
Powdered sugar for serving

Directions: Heat oven to 350.

Peel and cut the pears into a small dice.

In a large bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, spices, salt, baking soda and powder). In another bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients (olive oil, molasses, milk, grated ginger, vanilla).

Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir until just combined. Fold in the pears.

Butter an 8x8 baking dish and pour the batter in. Bake 30-40 minutes. Cool 10 minutes, dust with powdered sugar, and enjoy!

Roasted Kale and Mushroom Risotto

The weather has not been cooperating with my desire for it to be fall. So, I thought I would make some warm and cozy risotto to just pretend. It made me hot while I was cooking, but it was worth it.

Notes: This turned out great. I wanted a deeper flavor so I decided to roast the kale and mushrooms first. I should have cooked the kale a little longer because I like it on the crispy side, but it was still delicious.

You may need to add some water to your stock if it gets too low and your rice isn't finished. Just keep a measuring cup next to your stove while you're cooking for easy access.

If you want to time the mushrooms and kale together, wait to put them until you're halfway through the risotto cooking time.

Wondering if your rice is done? Taste a grain or two! If it's still crunchy, you need more time.

1 1/2 cups uncooked arborio rice
1 pint of mushrooms (baby portobellos, shitakes, or oysters)
1 bunch kale leaves, cleaned and stemmed
4-5 garlic cloves
1 small bunch sage leaves
2 tablespoons butter
1 teapsoon olive oil
4 cups stock or water

Directions: Heat the oven to 400.

Heat the stock or water on medium-low. Mince the garlic and chop the sage. Melt the butter in a large skillet and add in the garlic and sage. Cook for just a minute and then pour in the rice. Toss the rice to coat it with the butter and then add 4 ladles of stock. Season with salt and pepper. Stir occasionally. Continue adding ladles of stock (2 at a time) until the amount of rice doubles in size and it starts to absorb the stock more slowly. It takes about 30-40 minutes.

While the risotto is cooking, thinly slice the mushrooms and kale. Put them on separate baking sheets. Toss the mushrooms with salt, pepper, and olive oil. Season the kale with salt and pepper. Put them in the oven for about 10-15 minutes each until the mushrooms start to brown and the kale starts to get crisp. When they're done, add them to the risotto and let everything finish cooking together.