Oct. 12th, 2012 11:55 am
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Now that it's getting cold, I've been cooking and baking more. This morning, I made muffins for breakfast using my favorite muffin recipe -- from a cookbook my mom got from opening a bank account some time in the 70s. It's the McCall's Cook Book from 1963 (but ours is the 13th edition).

- 1 c milk (any kind; dairy, soy, almond, etc., are all fine)
- 1 egg, beaten (any kind of egg replacer is also fine -- applesauce, banana, flax, etc.)
- 1/3 c oil (I don't recommend subbing in melted butter here)
- 2 c flour
- 1/4 c sugar
- 3 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt

Preheat your oven to 400F. Grease or line your muffin tin. Mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. (The original recipe calls for sifting; I dump it all in a bowl and whisk! I hate sifting and love whisking.)

Mix the milk, egg, and oil in a separate bowl (or measuring cup), and then pour the mixture into the dry ingredients.

Stir together (don't beat or whisk, just stir with a fork) until the wet and dry are mixed. The batter will be lump and weird looking -- don't worry about that.

Dish into a muffin tin -- this makes 12. I usually use a 1/4-cup measure, just slightly less than full.

I also like to add stuff to the muffins, like strawberry jam or frozen blueberries. (My mom likes to sprinkle cinnamon and sugar on top.)

Bake for 20 - 25 minutes. When they're done, take them out of the pan immediately, and eat them! They are very sweet and moist, even when they don't have strawberry jam inside.
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Well, I have finally perfected a recipe for pizza that my entire family and the kids next door will all eat. It doubles and triples wonderfully, and bakes just as nicely on a half-sheet pan as it does in a cast iron skillet. Now you too can make my pizza! If you just want to look at the pictures, they are at this tag on my Flickr. Otherwise, let us continue...

Pizza! )

Not illustrated recipe:

1 tsp honey or other sweetener (do not use Splenda or Equal, though)
1 tsp yeast
1 cup warm water
1 heaping tsp kosher salt (or 1 scant tsp table salt)
1-3/4 - 2 cups flour
1 tablespoon olive oil
about 1/2 cup marinara sauce
9 oz shredded cheese, any blend (I use 8 oz mozzarella & 1 oz romano; people swap out the romano for things like pepperjack, cheddar, or ricotta)
some kind of filling (optional)

Mix the honey, yeast, and water. Add salt and flour. While stirring the flour into the mixture, stream in the olive oil. Knead for about a minute to bring the dough together. Oil the bowl and roll the dough in the oil. Cover with a damp towel (or some cling film) and set in a warm place to rise for about 90 minutes. It won't double in size or anything -- it will just swell slightly.

Knead the air out of the dough, then set it aside to rest for 20 minutes. Oil your pan (even if it is a cast iron skillet). Roll out the dough (or press it out with your knuckles). Dock the dough with a fork. If you're baking in a dish with sides and you've pressed the dough up the sides, be sure to dock the sides!

Spread out the first layer of cheese. It should only be about an ounce. Sauce goes over that. You can use more than 1/2 cup sauce, but be careful -- there's not really a place for the water in the sauce to go, so it will make your pizza soggy. If you like a lot of sauce, I suggest cooking it down first, to make it thick and evaporate a lot of the liquid. Add your fillings (I usually use veggie sausage, or whatever leftover vegetables are in the fridge, like sauteed spinach or fried mushrooms or caramelized onions or roasted peppers). The rest of the cheese goes on top.

Bake at 450F for 20 minutes. If the cheese isn't browned sufficiently to your liking after that, you can leave it in for another 5 or 10 minutes without burning the crust, but it's deliciously golden after 20 minutes, so I usually just put it under the broiler for a minute or two to finish browning the cheese.

Make sure you let it rest for 3 - 5 minutes. Then mangia!
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The day before yesterday, I made what were supposed to be "pumpkin pie pop tarts" (here's the recipe) -- but I only made a few that were pop tart sized. I cut down the dough and turned it into pumpkin pie pop tart ravioli. They were delicious, but I had 1/2 cup of pumpkin filling mixture left over! And you know I never throw anything away. So I tucked it into the fridge, and started thinking about what to do with it. Sure, I could make more ravioli -- but they're full of butter, and I try to only make one thing that will jump my family's cholesterol each week.

pumpkin bread

My almost-immediate thought was banana bread, but with pumpkin. And hopefully more of a molasses/caramel flavor, to match the pumpkin and really bring out its flavor and spices. But I didn't want to add molasses, and I didn't want to use plain brown sugar either -- so I went with demerara sugar, which is what I stir into my coffee. It's granulated like white sugar, but a little more unrefined like muscovado sugar. (Brown sugar is just as refined as white sugar, but it has molasses/moisture added back into it. I really didn't want that extra moisture, or such a heavy molasses flavor.) If you have it to hand, you can use that "Sugar in the Raw" stuff instead. Or, of course, just a whole cup of white sugar. Whatever works for you.

(If you only have white sugar, but you still want that molasses-y flavor, add up to two tablespoons of molasses to the pumpkin while it's over the heat. If you don't plan to heat the pumpkin, add the molasses to the butter and sugar while you're creaming it.)

Here's my recipe:

1-1/3 c pumpkin puree
2 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp ground clove
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon

2 oz unsalted butter (1/4 cup, 1/2 stick) - room temp/soft
1 egg
1/2 c demerara sugar
1/2 c white sugar
1/4 - 1/3 c milk (what you add depends on your climate; start with 1/4 c and go up from there if the mixture is too dry)

1/2 tsp salt
2-1/2 c AP flour
1 tbsp baking powder

Preheat your oven to 350F.

Mix the pumpkin with the spices. You can heat this up for a few minutes, until the air smells strongly of the spices. If you don't heat it up, that's okay, too.

Cream the butter with the sugar. Add the egg and mix well. Add the pumpkin-spice mixture and the milk, and stir it all together. A whisk is fun here, but a wooden spoon works okay too. If your pumpkin mixture is super hot, add it a little at a time so that you don't accidentally cook the egg.

Now add the flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir it all together. It should be a thick batter, like muffins or pancakes. Put into a greased loaf pan. I would never discourage you from using butter for this, but I used spray oil in my Pyrex loaf pan and it worked like a charm.

Bake for about an hour on a rack in the middle of the oven. A knife stuck into the center should come out clean. (Use a cake tester if you want, but I never have any to hand, whereas I always have a butter knife!)

Honestly, I had thought about eating this bread with a maple glaze, just like the "pop tarts" I made the other day -- 1 cup of powdered sugar mixed with 2 tablespoons of maple syrup, 2 tablespoons of cream, and enough milk to thin it out to a spreadable consistency. For me that was another 2 tablespoons, but it might be more or less for you.

my slice of pumpkin pie bread

The thing is, though... One slice of this bread without the maple glaze completely changed my mind. Wowzers. It's light, moist, with a subtle spicy pumpkin pie flavor that is exactly what I wanted. It doesn't need anything, except maybe a strong cup of black coffee (or a few handfuls of pumpkin seeds stirred in before baking!).

Om nom nom nom.

i will eat you, pumpkin pie bread
alg: (Default)
Missing Castle, I started watching the first season of Fringe last night. I'm up to the third episode, and remembering why I stopped watching when it first premiered. First of all, the junk science. Now, I am the first person on board with crappy science in novels and on tv. Give me spaceships or give me muppets that fart helium!

Yet the junk science in Fringe is so ridiculous and hard to follow that I am often flabbergasted. The big problem is not that it's stupid (even though it is). The big problem is that it isn't convincing. I'll believe a lot of stupid things in fiction -- if you can convince me that it makes sense in the world you're building. Fringe doesn't kick off with enough convincing world building!

Oooh, that's right, I said it. Fringe has crappy world building!

I'm still watching, though, because I am really bored with tv right now, and because I still have a crush on Charlie from The Mighty Ducks. (And, wow, helloooooo, Jasika Nicole!!! And Lance Reddick!! Yes, I am shallow.)

I find that Charlie-from-The Mighty Ducks and I often have the same reaction to things that happen on the show: Are you effing kidding? That's not how $THING works!

Normally I am okay with having someone in the thick of things telling the audience that they understand that the audience is annoyed by the weirdness and factual inaccuracies -- but in this show, I wish they'd've just tried a little harder to write a show that is either much much weirder, so that we can easily assume it is an alternate version of our reality, or a show that is slightly less weird, so that we can easily accept that it's just that weird things happen in our reality.

I'm sticking with Fringe this time, though, because so many people I know really enjoy how ridiculous it is, and I'm hoping that eventually I will too. I just hope (perhaps in vain) it kicks its world building up a notch or two.

(Second, I also hope that Charlie-from-The Mighty Ducks quits the way he talks to his father like his father is making a choice to be mentally damaged. Ugh. It really irks me.)

...Two of my favorite things are world building and cooking, and this blog entry will be about them both. Here is my recipe for making a delicious frittata, complete with pictures. Check out this picture: that is my new knife, a gift from [ profile] perfectbound, which I am using for pretty much everything I possibly can. Need to cut up some pieces of celery? Whip out that knife! Need to slice eggs for egg salad? Where's that knife? The only thing I haven't been able to use it for so far is slicing bread.

It cuts the thinnest slices of tomato imaginable. Oohh, knife, be mine! Oh wait! You are!

How to make a delicious frittata, with bonus instructions for roasted cauliflower, caramelized onions, and roasted baby red potatoes. )
alg: (Default)
I make a lot of apple pies. This is funny because I really do not like apple pie, or fruit pies in general. What I like is pie crust. For some reason, most people do not want to eat pie crust without filling. I don't get it! I even tried, at one point, to use pie crust to make jam tarts in a muffin tin, with just the tiniest spoonful of homemade jam. No dice. (I found them delicious.)

Today is my mom's birthday. Some of you know that she is a reading teacher (now all of you know it!). She is usually up by five and out of the house by six and at work by seven, which makes eating breakfast together as a family somewhat challenging for those of us who don't wake up before she leaves. So her birthday breakfast is actually going to be tomorrow -- when she'll be able to enjoy it, and my sister and brother-in-law will be able to join us -- and it is going to be pie.

I am a big supporter of pie for breakfast, to be honest. There's something really delightful about it. And it's pretty healthy. I mean, it's fruit, right? ;)

My pie recipe is seemingly impossible to screw up. Sometimes it is more delicious than other times, but that is mostly about external factors, like the weather and temperamental ovens. Adjusting for those external factors can be really difficult. Okay, once it was my fault: I forgot to add butter to the inside!

I usually make my pie crust by hand -- the extra time it takes is made up for by not having to wash the food processor. But I am including directions for the food processor, too.

The sweet apple pie. )

The more savory apple pie. )

Both of these pies need to rest -- the sweet pie needs to rest until it's cool because otherwise the "juices" will all run out; the savory pie needs to rest because otherwise it tastes weird. I usually make pie in the morning -- then it can sit out all afternoon and cool off on the kitchen table. I do not like to put pie in the fridge when it's cooling, because it makes the crust soggy. Maybe you like soggy crust, though -- I'm not judging! You should always make the kind of crust you like to eat!!

The sweet crust can be used for any kind of fruit pie (my favorite: a combination of peach, blueberry, and cherry!). If you blind bake it, you can use it for a custard or pudding pie/tart thing. Or ice cream. Mmmmmm.

The savory crust can be used for any kind of savory dish. I've made it (with and without the cheese*) to be the crust of pot pies, quiches, savory tarts...

* To make it without the cheese, just drop the cheese and add another 1/2 stick of butter, for a total of 1 cup.

And then enjoy delicious pie... I don't know how we're going to hold off until tomorrow morning!

ahh pie, you are so delicious-looking
click to embiggen


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anna genoese

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