Monday, October 31, 2011

Pumpkin-Apple Butter

It was a pretty good year for sugar pumpkins in my neck of the woods, so I got 3. They've been hanging around the house for a while, and although I know that these beauties do hold well in a cool spot, I wanted to work on getting some of them processed and frozen, so yesterday I grabbed two of them and set to work.

How adorable, right? They have no idea what's in store for them.

Using your largest, sharpest knife, I used an 8 in. chef's knife, just cut them in half:

And then scrape out all the seeds and the fibers - save the seeds for roasting, though!

See? They should be fairly clean. I used a toothed scraper, which is why you see marks. A large spoon works well, too.

Now, set them cut-side up in a large roasting pan, add about an inch of water to the bottom of the pan and roast them in a preheated, 400°F oven for 45 minutes.

Scrape out chunks of the flesh once it's cooled a bit and not too hot to handle, and you're ready to puree it. I find that it purees better when it is warm than when it has cooled off, so I  try to puree it all as soon as I can handle it without giving myself 3rd-degree burns, then I use it or pack it away in 2-cup portions in freezer bags and freeze or refrigerate it.

Ready to go!

I packed away 4 cups of the puree in the freezer, set aside another 2 cups in the fridge for this week, and used 2 cups for this delectable pumpkin-apple butter, which makes a nice spread on buttered toast. I am also thinking of possibly making baked stuffed French toast and mixing some of this with softened cream cheese as the filling.

Just a thought.

This is also incredible eaten right off a spoon.

Pumpkin-Apple Butter

Makes approximately 3 cups

  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 1/2 - 3/4 cup apple cider, enough to almost cover the raisins. I used 1/2 cup, but had the remaining 1/4 cup ready to dilute the butter if needed.
  • 2 cups pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 2 allspice berries

  1. Soak 1/2 cup golden raisins in 1/2 cup - 3/4 cup cider for an hour.
  2. Blend together 2 cups fresh pumpkin with the raisins and cider and 1/2 cup applesauce in a food processor until nicely pureed.
  3. Place the puree in a sauce pan and add 1/4 cup maple syrup, 1/4 cup packed brown sugar and your favorite pie spices - I crushed up 3 cloves and 2 allspice berries, shaved in about 1/4 t of nutmeg, 1/2 t ground ginger and 2 t cinnamon - and heat over low heat for about 30 minutes, stirring to make sure it doesn't stick and burn.
  4. Serve :)
  • This has the consistency of a thick applesauce; if you like your apple butter thicker, I'd say cook it down for another hour, but take care to stir it so that it doesn't burn on the bottom.

Sunday, October 30, 2011


Rösti is basically a large skillet potato pancake, kind of like a huge latke. I've mentioned my potato pancake preferences before, but this morning I wanted something potatoey and hashbrown-like. Last night I made some rough applesauce* and I had a smidge of crème fraîche left that needed using up, and really, what better vehicle to showcase both delicious sweet-tart applesauce and smooth, creamy crème fraîche than a gigantic potato pancake?

It is also the perfect autumnal pairing, and quite easy to make. I had fun working my Benriner Japanese mandoline, though for the life of me, I can not figure out how to use the finger guard while slicing, so I am just super-duper careful not to add shreds of finger to the fingerling potatoes.

Rösti with Chunky Applesauce and Crème Fraîche

Serves 1 generously or 2 judiciously

  • 2 tiny fingerling potatoes, I used a Peruvian purple and red creamer
  • 1/4 of a medium-sized onion
  • 1 royal trumpet mushroom
  • 1 egg
  • fresh thyme
  • 1 - 2 t flour
  • salt
  • pepper
  • applesauce
  • crème fraîche or sour cream


  1. Grate the potato on a box grater or a mandoline that has serrated razor settings. I used the medium blade on mine which produces 1/4 inch shreds. Grate about 1/2 cup of potato. Soak the shredded potato in a bowl of cold water and set aside.
  2. Grate an equal amount of the onion and as much as the mushroom as possible - I probably only got about 3 T of shredded mushroom.
  3. Put the onion and mushroom into another bowl along with some fresh thyme leaves, salt and pepper and mix well. 
  4. Drain the potato shreds and squeeze out as much of the water as you can, then add to the onion and mushroom mixture and mix well.
  5. Crack in the egg and stir to combine, then toss in 1 t of flour and mix well. You can add a bit more flour if the mixture seems too runny.
  6. Heat up a large skillet and melt some butter over medium-high heat
  7. Spread the mixture out as thinly as possible, lower the heat to medium and then cover the skillet and let cook until the edges of the pancake are golden-brown and then carefully flip over and let cook on the other side until it, too, is golden-brown and delicious.
  8. Remove from heat, top with applesauce and crème fraîche or sour cream and eat.


  • Rough applesauce - I simmered 2 Ginger Gold apples, peeled, cored and cut into quarters in 2 cups apple cider with about 8 inches of stick-cinnamon, 4 whole cloves and 4 allspice berries until the apples were soft and falling to pieces and the liquid had reduced. I pulled out the spices and let the sauce cool and then refrigerated it.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Kaiser Rolls

Not too long ago, I made another batch of pulled pork, bascially the same as this recipe, but with a few tweaks in the spice rub to go along with the very different apple-maple-bourbon-chipotle barbecue sauce** I dreamed up. The sauce worked, let me tell you, and the kids devoured the pulled pork sandwiches. It had been such a beastly sized pork butt - 6 pounds, if you can believe it - that I set some of the pork aside and froze it for a future meal.

Well the kids didn't want to wait long, so I defrosted the pork the other day and planned on making sandwiches as usual. There was only one problem: I had no kaiser rolls and I was in no mood to get dressed and drag myself out to the store for just one item, so I went to the King Arthur flour site and looked up kaiser rolls.

Sure enough, they had what looked like a simple but killer recipe. They were such a success that I had to make them again yesterday. I did have to make a change or two to the procedure, and without thinking, when I made them the second time, made a substitution to the list of ingredients, but this recipe really works either way. The kids were very impressed with the rolls and thought that they looked like something you might be able to buy in the store's bakery.

Yes, that is high praise. :)

Kaiser Rolls

Makes 6 rolls

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons yeast
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1-1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3/4 cup milk or water*


Manual method:
  1. In a large bowl, mix together all of the ingredients, stirring until the dough forms a rough mass and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. 
  2. Knead the dough for 5 minutes, then let it rest for 10 minutes, then knead the dough for another 5 minutes. The dough should be smooth and silky, but stiff to work. If it is too sticky, knead in a bit more flour until it is nicely smooth.
  3. Put the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a kitchen towel and let rise  in a warm spot in your kitchen for an hour. I usually preheat the oven to 425°F at this point to get it good and hot and help warm up my drafty kitchen. 
  4. Once it has risen for an hour, place the dough on a lightly floured surface, and divide it into six pieces. Roll the pieces into balls, dusting them slightly with the flour and place them on a cookie sheet lined with a Silpat baking mat or parchment paper. Alternately, you can grease the cookie sheet. 
  5. With a large chef's knife, cut 3 slashes down into the top, making a star pattern. You'll want to press down and in one motion, slice down almost all the way through to the bottom. Don't saw through the bread. You want nice, clean cuts.
  6. Cover the rolls and set them in a warm part of the kitchen and let rise for 1 more hour, or until they've just about doubled in size. 
  7. Bake the rolls in a preheated 425°F oven for 15 to 17 minutes until golden brown. 
  8. Remove the rolls from the oven, brush the tops with cold butter, and cool on a wire rack until ready to use.
Bread machine method:

  1. Place the ingredients into the bowl of your bread machine in the order recommended by the manufacturer, set on the dough cycle and walk away. 
  2. Then follow steps 4 - 8 above. 

  • The original recipe from King Arthur Flour calls for 3/4 cup of water instead of milk, and when I made them the first time the other day, I did indeed follow the recipe exactly as it was written, but when I made these again yesterday, I inadvertently used milk, probably because my favorite multi-grain bread recipe uses milk and I had just made 2 loaves of it this week and had that on the brain. Whatever the reason, I liked the resulting texture of the milk rolls better.
  • I also changed the shaping procedure somewhat, since I do not have a kaiser stamp. I had to use my chef's knife to slash the tops. 
  • The first time I made these, I flipped them over after they were cut to let them rise cut-side down, but I thought that they turned out a little too flat for my taste, so the second time I made them, I let them rise cut-side up.
  • Apple-maple-bourbon-chipotle barbecue sauce recipe to come soon.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Yellow Split Pea and Sweet Potato Soup with Bacon

I've mentioned before my love of soup. I especially love soup on blustery fall days. I have a new 5-quart soup and chili pot which is just perfect for making a good-sized amount of soup to carry me through a good portion of the week. I'm trying to be good about freezing meals for my brown-bag lunches and quick, no-time-to-cook dinners. Soup works for me.

Although I like all varieties of soup, from the brothy kind to thick chowders, I have a special fondness for bean and legume soups. I could happily eat lentil soup every week, and same goes for Split Pea with Some Sort of Pork soups.

This is a good one.

Yellow Split Pea and Sweet Potato Soup with Bacon


  • 4 slices thick-cut slab bacon ( I used peppered bacon), cut into 1-1/2 inch pieces
  • 2 cloves, garlic
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup carrots and/or parsnip, diced
  • 1/2 cup celery root, diced
  • 1 cup sweet potato, diced
  • 1-1/2 cup yellow split peas
  • 1-1/2 t cumin
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/2 t smoked paprika
  • 6 - 8 cups chicken stock or vegetable stock (In this case, I used Better Than Bouillon's No-Chicken Base)


  1. Cook down the bacon until nicely crisp. Remove the bacon pieces and drain on a plate lined with paper towels
  2. Saute the onion, parsnips, carrots and celery root in the bacon fat until softened, then add the diced sweet potato and cook for another 5 minutes.
  3. Add the cumin and split peas and stir to coat. 
  4. Add the broth, reserved bacon pieces and salt, bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 1-1/2 - 2 hours. Add smoked paprika and taste to adjust seasoning and serve of follow the next step for a pureed soup.
  5. (Optional) When the split peas are soft enough to your liking, fish out all of the bacon pieces, puree the soup with a stick blender or in small batches in a blender, then toss the bacon back in and let simmer for 5 more minutes and then serve.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Cranberry-Almond Scones

The other day, someone asked me for a scone recipe that didn't require cream. Oddly enough, I had one, so I sent it along to her and that was that.

Or so I thought.

Ever since the word "scone" had popped in my head, I couldn't stop thinking about how wonderful they are straight from the oven, about that delectable texture, and in the case of this particular recipe, the lovely combination of almond and cranberry.

So I caved, and this morning I baked a batch. True to form though, I finagled with the usual recipe which calls for a standard 2 cups of flour and made some crazy substitutions. The oringal recipe also calls for you to grate a stick of frozen butter into the dry ingredients with a box grater, but I had discovered mid-recipe that my box grater was in the dishwasher, in the middle of a cleaning cycle.

Time to improvise!

I tried tossing the dry ingredients and the frozen butter chunks (butter is very hard to cut when rock-solid, let me tell you) into my food processor, but that frozen butter did little more than whirl around and make disturbing "I am so going to break your food processor" noises, so I quickly put an end to that.

I ended up dumping the flour mixture and butter back into the bowl they'd originally been in and just walked away for about 15 minutes to let the butter soften. Then I worked it in by hand.

Moral of the story: Always make sure that absolutely everything you need is on hand BEFORE you start cooking, but be ready to improvise if you have to. :)

All's well that ends well though, these scones are almost perfumed with the scent of almond and have a delectable texture, not hard at all. I had a funny thought while I was making them. I've had some rather hard, rock-like scones in the past, and I got to giggling when I remembered an English professor of mine telling us about the Stone of Scone - and I swear he pronounced it like "Stane of Skoon," - and I got to laughing thinking that if these turned out rock-hard, I could call them the Skoons of Stane.

Click for crickets

Ok, ok, I might be the only person to find that amusing, but I liked the pun. The stone of scone (stone of destiny/coronation rock) versus the scone of stone (inedible baked good).

These scones were neither rock-hard nor inedible, and they are very, very easy to make, even with a mad dash around the kitchen looking for the box grater.

Cranberry-Almond Scones

  • 1 cup All-Purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup almond meal
  • 1/2 cup oat flour
  • 1 tablespoon flax seed meal
  • 1/4 cup chopped almonds
  • 1/3 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 8 T butter, cold and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 egg
  • Turbinado sugar

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat baking mat.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the All-Purpose flour, almond meal, oat flour, flax seed meal, chopped almonds, baking powder and salt until well-combined. 
  3. Work the butter into the flour mixture with your fingers or a pastry cutter until the mixture resembles coarse bread crumbs.
  4. Stir in the dried cranberries and give a quick mix.
  5. Whisk together the egg, almond extract and sour cream until smooth, then pour it into the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly. Work it together into a rough ball and then turn out onto a long piece of waxed paper coated with flour. This dough is going to feel like a sticky mess - don't worry, it will come out right.
  6. Flour the top of the the dough and fold over the wax paper onto the top of it and gently smoosh the dough down until you've shaped it into a 1-inch high rectangle. 
  7. Peel the waxed paper back off the dough and with a biscuit cutter, cut out rounds or cut the dough into triangles with a knife. 
  8. Place the scones on the baking sheet, sprinkle lightly with turbinado sugar and bake for 15-17 minutes or until they start to turn golden-brown. 
  9. Let cool 5 minutes, and then serve warm.

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