I know without question I cannot bake and cook at the same time. Disaster awaits. Or at the very least, serious unhappiness. There must be either a baking morning and a cooking afternoon or some variation thereof. This doesn’t mean I won’t stir up a pan of cornbread while my beans finish cooking at 5:30 or that I’d refuse to bake cookies if the slow cooker was on. No, no, no–not at all. But it does mean I shouldn’t be chopping and adding ingredients to a soup and think I can also whip up a loaf or two of quick bread in the the short minutes between soup chores. Because if I do, the bread will be missing its cinnamon, for instance, or in this case, its very necessary salt. And I might serve the soup without making sure all of its ingredients were just as tender as they should be. Which I did — and sent it to ill neighbors like that. (I hope the carrots weren’t crunchy. God, Alyce.)Continue reading
|New USDA regs say it’s ok if it’s a bit pink.|
As a recipe tester for Cooks Illustrated, I get to make all kinds of things. I mostly like them, but sometimes I don’t. The note that arrives with each recipe always says something to the effect of:
If you don’t care for one or more of the ingredients in the dish or wouldn’t ordinarily eat it, please do not test this recipe…
So, for instance, if you hate hot stuff, don’t test the On-Fire Texas Chili. I love to see the magazine months and months later to see recipes on which I’ve worked; I’m interested to see the final result-which may not be the recipe I saw originally. I test recipes far out of season sometimes (I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before–) and adore that out of time and place experience that has us eating turkey in March. That was one of the best turkeys I’ve ever eaten, by the way, but felt like it took all day to make. If you didn’t buy the magazine last January or February, the recipe is online, but you must subscribe.
Testing recipes is much like my life as a church choir director that often has me reviewing Christmas cantatas over the summer when I’m less busy. Even now, while I’m somewhat late getting started as I didn’t begin my new job until September, I’m singing daily about the baby Jesus while folks are buying Halloween candy and setting out their pumpkins. Of course, I, too, am setting out my pumpkins despite adoring canned pumpkin.
Worth mentioning again: buy canned pumpkin now if you need it for Thanksgiving pies or pumpkin bread. There is, for another year, a shortage.
A bigger meal: Add the pumpkin soup from the last post for a first course. For starters, serve something quite light like warmed olives and a few crispy chips; this is a big meal.
Want to bake a sweet something? Make my pear or apple crostata for this fall dinner.
Not baking? Purchased ginger cookies and a scoop of rum raisin ice cream. Perfect.
Wine: This is a meal for a splurge if you’re up for it: buy an Oregon Pinot Noir. Or try an entry-level bottle, which are now at entry-level prices. For instance: Ken Wright’s under $30 beginner Pinot, which is not “beginner” at all. Another option is a (French) Côtes du Rhone– many of which are so tasty, truly fallish, and under $15. Ask your wine shop for a recommendation about which one. Or just pick one to try. You’ll probably be quite satisfied. The 1/2 cup of wine you need in the cranberry sauce will be perfect out of any of these bottles.
A note about cooking pork loin: Unless done correctly (I don’t want to say “well” as we don’t have to cook it done anymore–145 degrees F is the USDA number today), pork can be dry and tasteless. This particular recipe, however, which I often pair with roasted vegetables, is juicy and incredibly flavorful even leftover and/or warmed up. Great for pork tacos the next day or chopped up in a frittata, it also makes lovely sandwiches. We like it with my hot and spicy cranberry sauce.
|Drizzle cut up root vegetables with olive oil, dust well with salt, pepper, and rosemary and roast at 425 F for 35-40 minutes or at 350 for closer to an hour.|
|This is easy, lush, and spicy–if you want it to be. (Recipe below) Good hot or cold.|
So, just for a fun change from my own kitchen’s recipes, here’s one I’ve adapted from CI, and hope you enjoy. A 3 or 3.5 pork pork loin feeds 6 generously and a 5 # roast feeds 8. I like to carve the loin, place it at the center of a large serving platter, and surround it with roasted vegetables. It can be placed at the center of the table or passed and everyone can help themselves.
Roasted Pork Loin and Hot Cranberry Sauce
- 3-5# pork loin
- 3 Tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 Tablespoons coarsely-ground black peppper
- 2 Tablespoons finely minced fresh or dried rosemary
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- Unwrap pork loin and set in roasting pan on a cooking sprayed or lightly oiled “V” Rack if you have one.
- In a small bowl, mix together sugar, pepper, rosemary, and salt. Rub spice mixture over the pork and let sit an hour. You can do this the night before and leave it covered in the frig, too. Let the meat come to room temperature before roasting.
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. (Make sure your oven is clean.) Place roasting pan with pork on a rack situated at the middle of the oven and roast 30 minutes.
- Lower emperature to 375 degrees F and continue to roast another 30-40 minutes. Check temperature at this point and remove from oven to rest or continue roasting until thermometer reads 145 -150 before resting. Let sit 15-20 minutes (tented with foil) before carving. It’s fine if it’s a bit pink and it should be juicy.
- Serve with a side of my Hot! Cranberry Sauce (recipe below.)
Hot! Cranberry Sauce
- 1 pound fresh cranberries
- 1/2 lemon
- 1/2 apple, peeled, and chopped
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (leave out if you don’t like spicy food)
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- Water to cover
- 1/2 cup dry red wine
In a 3 qt heavy sauce pan, place 1 pound fresh cranberries, 1/2 lemon quartered, 1/2 large apple peeled and chopped, 2 cinnamon sticks, 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, and 1/2 cup (or more to taste) brown sugar. Add water to cover fruit, the pour in 1/2 cup red wine. Bring to a boil, and lower heat. Simmer for about 15 minutes until cranberries pop, fruit is softened, and mixture is thick. Stir frequently and add water if it becomes too dry.
Remove lemon to serve or let your sour puss friend eat it. (Oranges can be used in place of lemons or in addition.) Serve hot or cold. Keeps well in refrigerator for several days. If you do not like spicy food, leave out the crushed red pepper.
Two-Dog Kitchen and Around the ‘Hood
Busy around our house as fall takes hold. Temperatures are dipping down toward the 40’s at night and it’s pretty dark at 7:30 am this far north. Fall gardening chores are in swing (trimming back and covering rose bushes and cutting back hydrangeas, etc) and the leaves are still falling. My lilac trees continue to hold green leaves, but the oak leaves from the neighbor’s yard are all over. Along the Mississippi River, the maples are shedding leaves rapidly. Last week, I drove to work through nearly a maelstrom of leaves flying all over the car. When the dogs and I walk, Gabby is loving playing through the carpet of brown.
Below: I couldn’t have done this if I tried. Setting down my music bag on a dining room chair the other day, the bag caught the edge of the fall-decorated table/cloth and pulled everything off without damaging a thing.
|Et voila: set for Sunday night supper for World Food Day.|
|Pumpkin bread time. Set out early to defrost in its wrapping.|
I had Sue for dinner Monday night to celebrate the end of Opus and Olives, Book Club for wine and cheese and apple crostata on Tuesday night, Choir on Wednesday, church music friends on Friday, and 6 for dinner Sunday night for World Food Day…. It was a cooking week, but mostly did things I’ve done before and didn’t take many pictures??? Too busy, I guess. The beautiful thing was sharing so many moments with so many people I love.
The house will be in an uproar as the kitchen floor is taken up next week and the new wooden floor installed the following week. In between, I get a new refrigerator to replace the nearly- new refrigerator that won’t open it’s freezer side because it’s too big for the space! So silly and wasteful. I bought a German refrigerator, a Fisher and Paykel. It arrives Friday to go into the dining room until the kitchen is done!
|$1159 is the 2-drawer dishwasher price!|
I continue to do lectionary study at St. Frances Cabrini in Prospect Park on Thursday mornings with an ever-growing group of worship planners. While I sometimes miss my old Bible study at Faith awfully (Love you all so!), I’m so thrilled to be part of a new group. We’re also planning an ecumenical Thanksgiving service for Monday, November 21 at Cabrini. Time tba.
Note re salmon: Read yesterday’s NYT article about purchasing Pacific wild salmon.
They appear to be infected by a virus that started in the commercial fish farms.
COOK THIS NOW : 120 Easy and Delectable Dishes You Can’t Wait to Make by NYT columnist and long-time cookbook author, Melissa Clark. is the newest cookbook on my shelf. Studded with sumptuous photos, this seasonal charmer will tell you with a delightful “voice” exactly what to cook exactly now. Get yours soon (or today as an e-book) by clicking on the title!
Meantime, we’re about to commence a bit of travel east and west while the dust flies in the house. Might be a hiatus in the blog, but know I’m cooking another “The Big Night” feast with the gang in Colorado. Keep watch for pics.
Saddest week for organist and friend, Roberta Kagin, who lost her dear husband Craig Alexander last week. The stories told about this man (one goal, nearly achieved, was to race past the police dept in Woodbury 100 times going over 100mph) were so many and indicated a love for life I couldn’t help but admire to the nth degree. At age 84, he was still in-line skating to his volunteer job comforting families at the hospital surgery waiting room. Go, Craig, go! The rest of us: Live, People, Live!!
Do it all with joy and sing a new song,
I adore pumpkin in nearly any form. I think I love pumpkins because they appear during my birthday month. Maybe not, though. Because, truly: I love to eat them. Almost any way. While I’m sure pumpkin soup has been around a long time (A quick peek at my historical cookbooks, however makes no mention of it. American Cookery 1796 has a recipe for Pumpkin Pudding. Fanny Farmer, 1896, lists only pumpkin pie. The Household Searchlight Recipe Book, 1931, has listings for canning pumpkin, making pumpkin custard, jam, and pie with cheese crust–but no soup,) I had never tasted it until 1985 when we went to live in Spokane, Washington, and my God’s gift of a neighbor, Joyce Smith, made pumpkin soup in the pumpkins for a holiday meal. Ten years later, I traveled right here to St. Paul, and good cook Lani Jordan whipped up a pumpkin-peanut butter soup for Sue’s birthday lunch.
My own soup was years later coming. Late 90’s maybe. By now, it comes in several guises. I sometimes blend cooked, ripe pears and apples into the mix.. or other batches contain a touch of vanilla and a sprinkle of pumpkin seeds on top. One memorable pot was ladled into bowls with my sweet-crunch “Go Nuts” as garnish. I’ve also been known to use a mix of squashes and vegetables (also cooked dried beans) with the soup and up the heat factor, as well.
While, according to an old Craig Claiborne book, you can steam unpeeled pieces of pumpkin and later peel and mash them, I’m by now definitely attached to opening a can. As are many women. And…
Pumpkin anything is pretty simple if you’re willing to used canned pumpkin. I also adore butternut squash soup, but if you want to make butternut squash anything, you have to peel and cook the rock-hard thing. Which takes a lot of effort. I buy a new peeler every year because the winter squash wreaks havoc with them. Even Paula Deen gets one of her boys to peel her squash. (My children don’t seem to be waiting in the wings to peel my squash. Where are you?) Your other option is to pay through the nose for already cut-up butternut squash. I’m not doing that. But pumpkin! Well, that’s why God made Libby’s, right? (Or go ahead and roast or microwave a whole one if you have to, but after trying it once, you’ll head to the grocery store canned aisle.) I seem to be on a pumpkin jag lately–both in this blog and in Dinner Place. So! Go ahead and make pumpkin soup. Did I say it’s quick? (Doubles or triples easily for a larger group.)
CURRIED PUMPKIN SOUP
serves 4 (or 6 small first course servings)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup each chopped onion and celery
- 3 medium carrots, cut into 1-2 inch pieces (don’t peel)
- 1/2 cup chopped parsley, plus 2 tablespoons for garnish
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper (more if your curry powder is mild)
- 1 quart (4 cups, 32 ounces) low sodium chicken broth or stock
- 15-ounce can pumpkin
- 1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce
- 1 teaspoon curry powder, or more to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger, or more to taste
- 3 tablespoons heavy cream for garnish
- Heat olive oil in a 4-6 quart small stockpot over medium heat and add onions, celery, and carrots. Season with a bit of salt and pepper and cook five minutes or so until somewhat softened. Add parsley and garlic during last minute of cooking.
- Pour in chicken stock and stir in pumpkin and applesauce. Add curry and ginger. Stir well. Taste and adjust seasonings. Stir again.
- Bring to a boil and reduce heat. Simmer until the vegetables are quite tender.
- Puree using immersion blender in pot or pour soup into food processor or blender and puree in small batches. Whichever method you choose, be quite careful; the soup is hot. If using blender, hold down a doubled up dish towel over the lid to keep it tightly in place.
- Ladle soup into bowls, top with a sprig or two of parsley and drizzle with a bit of heavy cream to create an attractive pattern.
*I keep a variety of small jars of curry powder, but like Penzey’s Maharajah curry powder as the spices are the ones I enjoy and the heat is moderate. If you use a hotter powder, use a bit less. If you use a milder one, you might want to add a few drops of hot sauce. You can also make your own curry powder from ground tumeric, coriander, cumin, cardomom, fenugreek, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, cayenne, etc. Or you can read The Surly Vegetarian and get a great recipe for curry.
Two-Dog Kitchen and Life in the ‘Hood
|Cooks just want to have fun: Making pie crust cookies.|
|The last of Wendy’s heirloom tomatoes that ripened on the windowsill in my dining room for two weeks.|
|Under 5 minutes in the microwave: great acorn squash.|
|Rustica Bakery, Minneapolis: on BA’s list of ten best bakeries in the U.S. Yep.|
|Rustica Bakery’s almond croissant.|
|Rustica Bakery: a bit more elegant garnish, eh? This is their latte.|
|58 years in the neighborhood, Troos comes to check Dave’s work on the vegetable garden.|
|Under the bushes he dug out, an old glass jar appears.|
|Appears to have been buried by Julie in 1965. Troos doesn’t remember Julie.|
|One of the thousands of crazy, crazy squirrels in Tangletown this year.|
|This is a tiny bush with precious blooms in my south garden.|
|This chickadee cracks her seeds between her toes.|
|All cleaned up for Opus and Olives Sunday night downtown with 850 other Friends of the St. Paul Library supporters.|
|Lani and Jeanne after dinner having fun.|
It’s been a warm week. Two days we even had the AC on to cook and sleep. Weird October.
We have guests for dinner two nights coming up,a trip south with a friend to pick up a new puppy, Book Club here Tuesday, rehearsal on Wednesday and also Taize service in conjuction with Cabrini Catholic Church in Minneapolis. Come worship@ 6:30 (Wed, 10/14) at Prospect Park United Methodist. Take an hour bite out of your life to unplug, sit quietly, and reflect. It’d do ya good. Sounds like we’ll need it too.
Sing a new song of fall…leaves and pumpkins and wind and cooler temperatures,
One or two things I make during the holiday season go from September-January. Pumpkin bread is one of them. If you know me well, you’ve eaten my pumpkin bread. I have several versions and every one is different and unique and yummy and… special. I kind of work of it from year to year. My choirs eat it; my husband lathers cream cheese on it. I make it into muffins; my friends husbands say to their wives, “Why don’t you make anything like this?” (Mostly because they’re eating cake at dinner.)
This year, I had sweet ideas. Whoa: Candied ginger. Black pepper. Cayenne. Pumpkin seeds. I tried it out. Twice. Increased the ginger the second time. Passed it around at home and elsewhere. I took some to St. Paul, where we visited for Thanksgiving, froze our butts off, made it through a job interview (me-whewgladitzovah), 13 houses, and came home drop-in-bed sick from. We ate it there for breakfast. Every day. Ah. Thanksgiving time! So I’m keeping this version. It seemed to go over well, even with Sue’s friend Gladys, a top-notch cook and baker at 91. She did say, however,
“WHAT is in this? I don’t like eating stuff when I don’t know what’s in it.”
I think it was the candied ginger and the cranberries. Of course the black pepper might have done it, too. Or the cayenne. Well. I like pepper in bread; sue me. And I’m gonna go right on making it. Like that. It does make super gifts and can be made as tiny loaves, muffins or big loaves. Maybe even T-tiny muffins for a buffet. Try it; you’ll like it. Everyone else did. Better make a bunch. (Provenance: I think the original recipe for this came from THE FANNY FARMER BAKING BOOK.) Freezes well. (No longer than 2-3 weeks, though)
|Pumpkin seeds. Use some in the bread. Eat the rest. Good for you. Great in bread!|
Alyce’s Newest Pumpkin Bread Featuring Candied Ginger and Black Pepper. OH, and Cayenne, too.
- 1/2 c dried cranberries
- 1 c boiling water
- 2/3 c butter, soft (to cut fat, use half apple-sauce–no more than that)
- 2 c pumpkin ( a can is 15 oz now; add applesauce to complete the 2 c)
- 4 eggs
- 2 1/4 c sugar
- 1/3 c candied ginger, minced
- 2/3 c evaporated milk, low-fat or fat-free (can use regular milk instead)
- 3 1/3 c unbleached white flour
- 2 t baking soda
- 1/2 t baking powder
- 1 1/2 t salt (sorry, left out of original post–corrected 11/18/11)
- 2t Chinese or Vietnamese cinnamon
- 1/2 t freshly-ground nutmeg
- 1 t ground cloves
- 1/2 t black pepper, freshly ground
- 1/4 t ground cayenne pepper
- 1/4-1/3 c salted or unsalted pumpkin seeds (I like salted)
- Preheat oven to 350 F for bread or 400 for muffins. Grease and flour pans. For muffins pans, grease only.
- In a small bowl, stir together cranberries and boiling water. Set aside.
- With hand-held electric or standing electric mixer, beat together in a large bowl butter, pumpkin, applesauce, eggs, sugar and candied ginger until light and fluffy. Beat in milk until well-mixed.
- On top of the wet ingredients, measure dry ingredients: flour, soda, baking powder, spices. Carefully mix just the dry ingredients with a spoon or rubber spatula, trying to avoid mixing the dry ingredients into the wet. Using electric mixer, beat wet and dry ingredients together until just incorporated. Don’t over beat. Drain cranberries well and stir into batter gently.
- If desired, sprinkle pumpkin seeds into bottom of prepared pans (9×5) or baby loaf pans (3×5 or similar) or muffin tins. Use ice cream scoop for muffins.
- For loaves or baby loaf pans, bake at 350 for about an hour or half-hour, respectively. Test for doneness with a toothpick or skewer; it will come out almost clean when the bread is done. Leave in pans 5 minutes. Bang bottoms of pans on board, floor or counter before turning out on to racks carefully to cool completely. If sticking, use thin, sharp knife to go around edges. When absolutely cool, wrap well in foil. Store on counter 1-2 days, in frig for 2-3 days, and in freezer up to 2-3 weeks.
- If in muffin tins, bake at 400 F for maybe 15 minutes or until nicely browned and firm to the touch. Turn out immediately onto metal cooling racks. Follow storage instructions above, though muffins store well in large plastic containers that are freezer safe.
|This is a great pumpkin bread pan loaf. Pan available at Williams-Sonoma. (Design changes year to year.)|
Just thought you’d like to see the options….
Bake now while it’s quiet one night. Wrap up your treasures carefully in shiny foil. You can even put ribbons on them before you put them in the freezer. Be ready as you move through Advent into Christmas. Or as you hit the second day of Hanukkah. Breathe and study. Live and love. Don’t get crazy over what you’re supposed to do. Or as you live through another day…
Don’t let the light go out (see and hear song, LIGHT ONE CANDLE) and, while you’re at it, pray that I see the the path where God is undoubtedly shining it if I just could only be aware enough…