Posts Tagged ‘Autumn’
I tend to go through phases with things. Oftentimes, these phases are decided by the seasons. I’m not talking about seasonal phases like I only get strawberries in the peak of July or grapefruits in January, as much as I wish that were true. No, I’m referring to general-outlook-on-the-world-and-everything-around-me seasonal phases. My “winter” phase has kicked in late this year, but it’s the same as always: I get a bit anti-social, a little intense, and I get really into abstract things like ideas/music/art/books, etc. I’m not sure how I got in the mindset that the farther away I stay from real humans, the closer I can get to “real” humanity…but no matter! I do not question these phases, silly though they may be, because I honestly really enjoy them.
In the phase I’m in right now, the only things I’ve felt like doing are a.) go for really long walks while listening to music (this song + 90′s seattle grunge + the velvet underground), b.) go to my classes (not kidding), or c.) cook and/or bake. Nice combination of activities, eh? But they all seem to go together, and they all have a kind of serene pensiveness to them.
I made these muffins sometime last week after spending the day walking in the cold with the clear sun (and finding two bags of raw hazelnuts in my freezer). I wasn’t planning to blog about them, but I think they turned out too good not to share. They’re from Kim Boyce’s Good to the Grain, though I originally saw them in an Elle à Table my brother got me around Christmastime (where, curiously, they refer to Kim Boyce’s book as Les Deuze Farines. Language-y things are always so peculiar). I of course could barely a read a thing the recipe was asking for, so I followed the recipe on Lottie and Doof instead. I think you’ll forgive me—the muffins would have hardly turned out so nicely.
In Kim Boyce’s classic style, she uses a combination of whole-grain flours in order to add a bit of nutrition and some very cool flavors without compromising any of the texture or taste. In these hazelnut muffins, she uses all-purpose, whole-wheat, and teff flours. If I were to be completely honest with you, which I’m afraid I must be, I substituted the teff flour for oat flour. I know, I know! But I was at the store and the only teff flour available was in a large $15 bag and I just couldn’t do it! I will say, though, that the muffins were awesome the way I made them, and I can only imagine what they’d be like if I had used teff flour, as Boyce originally calls for.
Anyway, I was compelled to share these with you, in case you hadn’t made them or seen them before on another site, because they are pretty impressive. I really, really liked the hazelnuts in these—Boyce adds roughly chopped ones in the batter but also calls for them sprinkled in with cinnamon-nutmeg sugar to top the muffins with (my absolute favorite part of these muffins). Plus! You don’t have to toast and peel the nuts, which I find very clever and convenient seeing as peeling hazelnuts always sounds much cooler and easier than it actually is. And the crumb, made with butter but also a fair amount of yogurt and buttermilk, is tender, moist, but with structure. They’re a classic muffin to have, in my opinion.
You can find the recipe here (I didn’t make any changes besides the aforementioned shameful flour substitution). Make sure you follow Kim’s tip, mentioned by Tim in his post, of spacing out the batter into every other cup so that there’s plenty room between them. It really does make a difference in how high the domes rise.
One Year Ago: Crunchy, Chewy Oatmeal Cookies with Coconut and Nuts
I know there’s been a lot of chatter about Jerusalem. (And yes, I know I’m late to the game on it (typical)). But as Tim commented in his earlier post today, all the chatter is for good reason: it’s an incredible cookbook. I wouldn’t be exaggerating when I say it’s the most beautiful cookbook I’ve ever owned—or seen, for that matter—and I don’t think it’d be too early for me to say that it’s also already become my favorite. It’s the type of cookbook that you keep very close with you in the kitchen because of the type of flavors and cooking it inspires, but it also is the type that you read every night before you go to sleep, glazing over the beautiful photography and all the little snippets and stories. I think those little stories are my favorite—I love how before each recipe there are notes not only about the technicalities of the flavors and ingredients, but also some really eloquent anecdotes and observations on food and life in Jerusalem and its surrounding areas. Under the heading of a humble recipe of fried cauliflower with tahini, for example, is this little note:
“For Jerusalemites, Arabs and Jews alike, the idea of dining alone is abhorrent. Eating is a celebration, a feast, it is about breaking bread and about conviviality, it is about abundance and sharing. As no one is particularly fussy about decorum and good table manners, the meal is always destined to turn into a lively gorge, with everybody sharing everything, happy to dig into one another’s plates, to grab and move plates around until truly satisfied. It is not a particularly orderly or calm way to eat, but it is certainly a very happy one.”
Oh! Doesn’t that comment just make you feel so good and happy with the world? It’s these little comments, I think, that make this book so special to me. Seriously, my twin sister Lindsey is considering buying it as a coffee table book for its commentary and photographs. I hate to over-do the shower of praise on this book, but I guess my main intention here is to make you feel guilty if you haven’t bought or looked it at yet. So get it.
Anyway, of all the recipes to choose from, I picked the one that is cheap to make, simple, and of which I had most of the ingredients on hand. In this case, I had a bunch of sweet potatoes to use up, so I substituted them for the butternut squash that was originally called for. Besides, a few days earlier I had made baked sweet potato fries for dinner and a tahini-honey dipping sauce to go with them and that combination was good, so I knew the substitution wouldn’t be too out of line here. But if I were to be honest with you, I’m guessing the butternut squash would be better in this (and really, who was I to question Ottolenghi and Tamimi in the first place?). I still really, really liked all of these flavors together. Imagine sweet-savory caramely-roasted sweet potatoes and red onions, with the creamy but bitter tahini and za’atar, and just a sprinkling of oily pine nuts and parsley. It’s quite the dish.
A word about the ingredients: as I’m sure most of you are aware, za’atar is a Middle Eastern spice blend that combines dried thyme, sumac, and roasted sesame seeds. There are some different (really delicious) variations of this, but the classic one looks like a strikingly deep-green powder. I bought mine at a Lebanese grocery store in my city that imports it in from Jordan, but Heidi just did a post on making homemade za’atar. It’s an awesome spice mix to have around though; I personally just like it by itself with some olive oil and warmed pita.
One Year Ago: Quiona, Arugula and Roasted Broccoli Salad with Feta
Roasted Sweet Potatoes & Red Onions with Tahini & Za’atar
Adapted slightly from Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi’s Jerusalem
Serves 4, more or less (I made two main-course meals out of it)
The original recipe calls for butternut squash, which I think would be ideal in this, but sweet potatoes are what I had on hand so that’s what I used. I peeled my potatoes, but I think next time I’d leave the skins on–that goes for the butternut squash, too. Also, as you’ll notice in the photos, I used two different pans to roast the potatoes and onions in. My baking pan wasn’t big enough to include them both and I thought it’d be easier to have them separated in case the onions cooked faster (in my case, they didn’t). Something to keep in mind, though, if you don’t have a pan large enough to accommodate all the vegetables.
2 pounds sweet potatoes (about 2-3), cut into 3/4 by 2 1/2 inch wedges
2 red onions, halved through the root and cut into 1 1/4 inch wedges
3 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, separated
3 1/2 tablespoons light tahini paste
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice (about 1/2 a juicy lemon)
2-4 tablespoons water
1 small clove garlic, crushed and minced
3-4 tablespoons pine nuts
1 tablespoon za’atar
small handful coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
Preheat oven to 475 degrees F. Place the squash and onion on a large baking sheet, or two–you should have enough space to be able to spread out all the vegetables evenly. Drizzle 3 tablespoons of the olive oil evenly over the vegetables, and season liberally with about 1 teaspoon kosher slat and some black pepper. Toss everything together to coat. Roast in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes, until the vegetables are cooked through and edges begin to darkly brown. Take care to check the onions and potatoes separately, as they might be done at different times. Remove from oven and let cool slightly.
Meanwhile, prepare the tahini sauce. Whisk together the tahini, lemon juice, 2 tablespoons of the water, and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt in a small bowl. The consistency should be that of honey–you may have to add a tablespoon or two of water more to dilute it, or even a tablespoon or so of tahini to thicken it. Set aside until ready to use.
To prepare the garnish, heat the remaining 1-2 teaspoons of olive oil in a small skillet over medium-low heat. Add the pine nuts and a good few pinches of kosher salt and cook, stirring often, for about 2 minutes or until the nuts are golden brown. Remove from heat immediately.
To assemble everything, spread the roasted vegetables onto a serving platter. Drizzle the tahini over it, followed by the pine nuts (and any oil left over), the za’atar, and the parsley.
I realize this simple, beautiful tart is a little démodé at the moment, seeing as Thanksgiving has now passed and humble tarts made from fruit (or vegetables for that matter) are easily given up for the charms and glitter of Christmas treats.
–Before I move on, I have to say a note about my use of the word “démodé”–it’s french for out-of-date, or out-of-style. Could I have just written that instead of using some pretentious-sounding french word, and thereby avoid this whole messy business? Why yes, I could have, but I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it before but my francophile tendencies have taken on a new level and I’ve been enrolled in a French 101 course at my university since September. It’s lovely. And I just learned the word démodé today, and I am pleased that I found a way to put it into a post here. So no bringing me down, you (probably nonexistent) critics!–
Where was I? Oh, yeah, the transition from idyllic tarts and pies made from the fruits of the Earth to Christmas-craze candies and treats. Now, I understand the only currency accepted at the moment comes in the form of chocolate, butter cookies, and royal icing, but this tart is something so very classic and simple that I feel like it’s important to share even if it’s a little out of place. I first found it on the Smitten Kitchen website (please head over there if you want to see some beautiful photos of a beautiful tart), and then was reminded of it in Luisa’s My Berlin Kitchen. I loved it for the same reason they did, and you don’t have to look beyond the ingredient list to see just what that reason is: this tart is made simple of a pastry, apples, some butter, and sugar. It tastes of apples–made more appely-tasting by the glaze made from the apple peels and cores that are reduced down with a simple syrup–wrapped up in some flaky, buttery pastry. It’s wonderful and I don’t know if there’s any part about it that I would want to change.
I absolutely do not judge you one bit if you see this tart, accept it for its simplicity and charm, and move on to get to more important things, like what type of roast you’re going to plan for Christmas, or what homemade treats you’re going to hand out in the next couple weeks. (Speaking of homemade treats, I recently made these snickerdoodles, which were awesome, as well as these chocolate crinkle cookies. Both are very fitting if cookies are what you’re in the mood for.) But once the buzz of the Christmas season passes (whine), please don’t shrug this recipe away, mostly because it’s hardly a recipe at all. This is a straightforward and intuitive dessert that is both elegant and humble, which is honestly sometimes hard to come by. So when you are lucky enough to come by it, keep it and remember it for the future.
One Year Ago: Dorie Greenspan’s Rustic French Apple Custard Cake
1 single-crust pie dough round, chilled
2 pounds Golden Delicious apples
2 tablespoons butter, melted
3/4 cup sugar, divided
Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease a 9-inch tart pan with butter; set aside. Peel, halve, and core the apples, then slice them into about 1/8-inch slices. It helps to keep the slices all together, in order (as in don’t just slice them and throw them in a bowl). While you do this, make sure to reserve the peels, cores, and any excess apple parts. They will be reduced with a syrup to glaze the tart later.
Roll out the chilled disk of dough on a lightly floured surface into a 14-inch circle, about 1/8 of an inch thick. Carefully place and fit dough in the greased tart pan, letting the excess dough hang off the sides. Overlap the sliced apples in the pan, starting at the edges of the pan. Keep fanning out the slices and continue inward until all areas are filled. It’s important to note that the apples will soften and shrink a bit while baking, so don’t hesitate to pack them in pretty tightly. Fold any overhanging excess dough over the pan back on to itself and the apples. Brush the melted butter over the apples and the edges of the pastry. Sprinkle about 2 tablespoons of the sugar over the edges of the dough and 2 tablespoons over the apples.
Bake in the preheated oven until the apples are soft, browning at the edges, and the crust is a deep golden brown, about 45 minutes.
While the tart is baking, put the reserved peels and cores in a saucepan, along with the remaining 1/2 cup sugar. Pour in enough water to just cover the apple parts, about 1/2 cup. Heat over medium heat until it comes to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low and continue simmer for about 25 minutes until it’s a smooth glaze. Strain syrup to remove the apple parts.
Once the tart is removed from the oven, slide onto a cooling rack and let cool for at least 15 minutes. Then, using a pastry brush, brush the glaze over the apples. Serve warm or at room temperature.
I know the actual dates of when a new season begins hardly reflects the actual mood or feeling of the weather outside (last Saturday, otherwise known as Autumnal Equinox, I’m looking at you). But, the leaves on the trees are changing outside, I’ve actually had to wear a light cotton coat on my walk to school each morning and, most importantly, I have a nasty little cold. At least in my world, Fall has arrived.
Now, I’m no hypochondriac and I hate going to the doctor. Yet any time there is any sort of auto-immune attack in my body, I wither and whine like there’s no tomorrow. Yes, I’m on one of those types of people, the kind that where you only see their real, true colors when they have a moment of weakness, no matter how arbitrary or small that weakness may be. All of a sudden, I’ve been drinking komucha—a drink I otherwise consider a “hippie drink” under any other circumstances—and I’ve been popping those little, tasty orange vitamin C pills as if they alone contain the key to my salvation. Also, in case you haven’t noticed already, I may have become somewhat melodramatic.
But, the combination of this slight sickness and the start of Fall has its perks. Such as the excuse to make and eat lovely spiced baked goods that come warm from the oven like this pumpkin bread. Truth be told, I actually made this pumpkin bread the night before I woke up with a sore throat and a runny nose—I know, I know, it’s as if this pumpkin loaf knew what was in store for me and planned its timing around that!
No matter the fact that I’m the one that made it. If you’re a baker, you know that these baked things have a mind of their own. There’s a reason this one came out so moist, so pumpkin-y—it knew it had its duties laid out for it. Especially considering the fact that only one week before I made my first attempt at conquering pumpkin bread, and the results fell short. This loaf you see here is the “just right” version of balancing pumpkin flavor, spice level, and overall size.
It is worth noting that this loaf should have risen more—the baking powder I used is old and as a result it rose barely at all. The proportions in this recipe are all right though, for a tall, spiced and damp (in the best way) loaf. Also, due to the fact that I ran out of all-purpose flour, I used almost half-and-half of all-purpose to whole wheat flour. I didn’t notice anything negative as a result, and it made me feel so virtuous that I decided it deserved a lovely little glaze to accent the top of the loaf. It’s a really simple glaze of powdered sugar and a tablespoon or two of water, and it adds a small detail that I think make both the aesthetics and tastes of the cake just that much better.
Spiced Pumpkin Bread
Adapted loosely from Martha Stewart
Makes one 9-inch loaf
As noted above, your loaf will come out taller than mine did in the picture– just make sure you use active, non-expired baking powder! Also, I really, really recommend eating slices of this loaf cold from the fridge. Even if it’s cold out. The dense and moist texture of the bread is enhanced by the coldness. Try it!
butter, for greasing the pan
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, or a combination of all-purpose and whole-wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup regular sugar
1 1/4 cup (about 330 grams or 11.5 ounces) pumpkin puree
1/2 cup oil
1 cup powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Butter and flour a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, ginger, cinnamon and salt. In a large bowl, whisk together sugars, pumpkin, oil, and eggs. Sprinkle the flour mixture over the wet mixture, and stir with a wooden spoon until just combined. Don’t overmix.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of loaf comes out clean with just a crumb or two attached, about 1 hour, plus or minus 5 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes; invert pan and transfer the loaf to a wire rack to cool completely.
To make the glaze, if desired, combine the 1 cup powdered sugar with 1-2 tablespoons of water in a small bowl. Mix until combined. The mixture should be smooth, but thick. Add more powdered sugar or water to reach the consistency you like. Pour over the top of the cooled loaf and allow 15 minutes for the glaze to set.