The world’s slowest quickbread

October 25, 2009

Today at the co-op a tiny little pumpkin caught my eye and I was so enchanted by its cuteness that I guess I picked it up and carried it around the store and eventually bought it.

So then I got home and had a pumpkin to deal with.

My new issue of Vegetarian Times came on Friday, and one of the features is on baking with natural sweeteners. I went right to it and saw a recipe for a maple pumpkin bread that sounded pretty awesome, and I thought of that today when I came home with my wee little pie pumpkin.

The pumpkin was probably 2 or 3 pounds, and I wish I had taken some “in-process” pictures because I actually split a pumpkin in two for the first time in my life. There’s so little flesh, it’s kind of ridiculous, and the pulp was so opposed to being scraped that it probably took me a good 15 minutes to clean it out.

I baked the two halves for about an hour at 350*, until the skin was brown and easily pierced. Once the halves cooled, I scooped out the flesh and pureed it in the food processor. All that effort, and the entire yield was only a little over a cup. Luckily, that’s all I needed, but next time I’ll know that cuter isn’t always better when it comes to pumpkins for roasting and pureeing. Live and learn.

At least I have a bag of roasted pumpkin seeds now.

Oh, and this killer loaf of bread.

its awesomeness could not be fully captured

its awesomeness could not be fully captured

So, let’s total up the time this (admittedly delicious) baking project took:

Cutting and cleaning: 20 minutes
Baking the pumpkin: 60 minutes
Cooling, scooping, pureeing: 20 minutes
Recipe prep: 15 minutes
Baking the bread: 55 minutes
Grand total = 170 minutes

Yes, that’s right. Almost 3 hours of my Sunday.

But, it was actually pretty fun. And it gave me a chance to cook some black beans. And a great excuse to skip out on cooking dinner.


Roasted squash soup

October 25, 2009

There’s something about store-bought butternut squash soup that just doesn’t sit right with me. It’s always too sugary sweet and creepily smooth for my tastes. But there’s something about the sound of it, “butternut squash soup” that always makes me want to try it, even though I never like it. So last night, after an unintended week-long hiatus from home-cooking, I decided to attack the butternut squash I bought a few weeks ago and try to make my own.

roasted butternut squash soup

roasted butternut squash soup

Total success. This was a mostly savory soup with just a hint of sweetness, and I didn’t bother pureeing it, which meant it wasn’t so super smooth. I treated it like baked potato soup, really, but with a 3 pound squash instead of potatoes

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup (serves 3-4)

You need:

  • A butternut squash (or other winter squash), unpeeled, halved, seeds and pulp removed
  • Salt, pepper, and olive oil for roasting
  • 1T unsalted butter (or olive oil)
  • Savory vegetable broth, about 1 cup per pound of squash
  • Salt and pepper

To do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400*. Line a cookie sheet with foil.
  2. Put the halved, seeded squash on the cookie sheet. Rub flesh with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Roast the squash face up for about 10 minutes, then flip over for and roast for another 30. Times will vary depending on the size of your squash.
  4. Remove baking sheet and allow squash to cool, about 5-10 minutes.
  5. Heat butter (or olive oil) over medium heat in a dutch oven or large pot. Begin to scoop the flesh of the squash out with a large spoon, transferring directly to the pot. Then, peel the remaining flesh and add, stirring as you do. The peel should come off easily.
  6. Add vegetable broth and stir frequently until soup is fairly uniform in texture. Heat over medium or a little higher for about 10 minutes, until broth is heated through.
  7. Add salt and pepper, stir, and serve.

So easy, and mostly hands-off prep. And pretty, cheap, too. Next time, I’ll roast the squash seeds and use them as a garnish to give this a little extra staying power. I’d also love to try this with acorn squash or delicata or even a pumpkin.

Legume therapy.

October 16, 2009

Whatever vague borderline sickness I’ve been fighting off for the last week or so hit me in the face yesterday morning, and I was in bed all day, with a really limited appetite. It was unnatural, basically.

By the time dinner rolled around, I felt like I really needed to eat something, so I went for the simplest thing I could think of: rice and beans. I tried to spice them up a little bit with what we had around.

rice and beans with cheese and guacamole

rice and beans with cheese and guacamole

I used some leftover brown rice with red beans and red peppers, punched up with some chipotle puree. The guacamole is kind of an accident – I wanted to slice some avocados on top, but the ones we had were overripe so I just mashed them up with some lemon juice.

Tonight I was still feeling kind of rough, so I needed something warm and comforting.

split pea dal

split pea dal

Dal is always comforting, but especially when it’s accompanied by little chickpea pancakes and yogurt to balance out the accidental overdose of cumin seeds and red pepper flakes.

From the amount of coughing and sneezing I did after eating it, I think it might have been just the remedy I needed.

More eggplant

October 12, 2009

Saturday at the farmer’s market, I was half-frozen, browsing through the produce, when these two women walked by and I overheard one of them say “Oh, eggplant. I’m so over eggplant.” And I wanted to yell, “I’ll take your share! I’ve only just begun to love it!”

Last week, I went out on a limb an had some in a stir fry, but what I’ve really been wanting to do is recreate some of the delicious eggplant dishes I’ve had at Indian restaurants.

Enter Mollie Katzen.

eggplant curry

eggplant curry

Let me tell you about this recipe. Not only is it delicious, but it’s from a cookbook that we’ve had around the house for the last 6 years but that I’ve never actually used – The New Moosewood Cookbook. Matt introduced me to it a few years ago, and I’m prone to flipping through it and saying “oh! that sounds good!” and then never following through. Until now!

I served it with peas, per her instructions, even though I’m not a huge fan. And, I have to admit, they do add a pop of freshness to this curry. The curry itself is probably the most authentic-tasting that I’ve ever made – maybe the base of mustard/cumin/sesame seeds did the trick. Just when you think it’s under spiced, the heat of the cayenne hits and BAM! All in all, delightful.

I really wanted to go out to eat tonight, as I haven’t been feeling 100% for the past few days, but I’m glad I fought it, because this was well worth the effort.

Winter weather = winter squash.

October 11, 2009

We had another cold day, so I cranked up the oven and stovetop again to heat things up in here. The heat has come on about 3 times since yesterday, and we woke up to an even colder room this morning than we did yesterday. Awesome!

This dinner kept things toasty for a little while at least.

barley risotto-stuffed winter squash

barley risotto-stuffed winter squash

I made the barley risotto the same way I usually do, though this time I had no broth so I made a quick Parmesan broth by boiling some water with a Parmesan rind I threw in the freezer a few weeks ago. I let them simmer together for about 10 minutes, took out the rind, and got started.

While the risotto was cooking, I roasted a (halved, with seeds and pulp removed) acorn squash that I picked up for 50 cents at the farmer’s market yesterday. This guy was pretty little, so I just rubbed it with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper, and roasted at 375* for about 50 minutes, until the skin pierced easily with a knife and both halves looked dangerously close to collapsing. I did the first 20 minutes face up and the last 30 face down.

I always like roasted acorn squash but this was especially good, I think because I roasted it longer than I have in the past, and because the olive oil helped it brown up nicely. Also, I didn’t have to bother adding vegetables to the risotto, since I was serving it in a vegetable. So clever.

Plus, the window in the kitchen actually fogged up while I was cooking. I think it’s going to be a long winter.

It’s getting cold in here.

October 10, 2009

You know what’s awesome? Waking up in a 50 degree room on a 30 degree morning with a 20-something degree wind chill.

In early October.

I’ve got major respect for the farmers who were still out there in the freezing cold at 8am to sell their produce. And I’m not even going to think about what two hard freezes in a row might mean for the rest of the farmer’s market season. But, once again, the weather didn’t ask me for permission to get ridiculous.

Anyway, there were some heat issues in our apartment. Namely, that the heat wasn’t on. We don’t control our own heat, so there are always a lot of really good times when it gets cold. While that was being dealt with, I took my mom’s advice and made a lot of use of the oven.

Tonight’s dinner was pretty awesome, and, as a bonus, heated up the kitchen pretty nicely.

lentil burgers with roasted purple fingerling potatoes and green beans

lentil burgers with roasted purple fingerling potatoes and green beans

I made these burgers with some leftover lentils and brown rice from earlier this week, along with some cumin, salt, pepper, and an egg. I based it on Bittman’s recipe (bean burgers are at the bottom), but with no oats because I had plenty of rice. I’ll definitely use some dry oats next time, though, for body and to absorb some of the moisture. Still, solid and super easy bean burger recipe. Crazy cheap, too. I’m intrigued by the nut-based burger recipe in that post, too.

I really love homemade veggie burgers, and these turned out way better than last time I tried a similar Bittman recipe. I’m still trying to replicate the elusive and delicious veggie burger at Local Burger in Lawrence.

On the side, I roasted purple fingerling potatoes and green beans at 400* for about 20 minutes. Before roasting (I let the oven preheat for a good long time), I tossed them with a few good swigs of olive oil, 3 cloves worth of minced garlic, salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper. This was my first experience with fingerling potatoes and I pretty much want to go out and buy some more right now. For one thing, they were bright purple. For another, they had the perfect skin to meat ratio.

To heat the kitchen up earlier today, I made some cookies from Eat, Drink, and Be Vegan.

fig jam-print cookies

fig jam-print cookies

These have barley flour, oat flour, other good stuff, and the jam of your choice. I went for fig jam for that homemade fig newton effect.

I never thought I’d say this, but I think I’m going to go clean up the kitchen. For warmth.

Killer tofu

October 7, 2009

Miss me?

Rhetorical question!

Did you ever watch Doug? It reminds me of sleepovers at my friend Cassie’s apartment in elementary school. Her apartment had Zax lightswitch plates and her dad made breakfast on Saturday mornings. It was awesome and made me really want to live in the apartment. On an unrelated note, I also aspired to be a cashier at that point in my life. Having now lived both of those dreams, I know they both suck. But I still had a lot of fun walking up and down the cash register aisles at Office Depot.

Anyway, one of those Saturday mornings I spent at Cassie’s, we watched an episode of Doug featuring awesome mythical band The Beets’ seminal hit, “Killer Tofu,” which I loved, even though I probably didn’t eat tofu until maybe a dozen years later.

Take note of awesome lines like “I can eat my sugar cereal, but it makes my teeth bacterial.”

There’s a point to this, beyond random childhood memories.

Tonight’s dinner had some killer tofu in it.

sweet and spicy stirfry

sweet and spicy stir fry

This was an eggplant, red pepper, and tofu stirfry with a generous helping of crushed red pepper and garlic, balanced out with a little rice wine vinegar and ground ginger. I was pretty nervous about the eggplant, but since I’ve been enjoying it so much roasted and baked, I had to give it a shot. Success! I’m looking forward to having it again for lunch tomorrow.

It more than made up for yesterday’s disappointingly bland chili, and left me with enough room for a slice of this awesome apple cake I made last night. I’d share a picture, but they’re fairly awful. I need more light bulbs, stat. But, seriously, I’m two for two with cakes from The Food Librarian, and I keep finding more recipes I want to try. Food + librarians = obviously a good match.