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Wednesday
Oct122011

This month, I’m sweet on yams

In this month’s column, I’m spicing things up Autumn-style with one of my favorite vegetables. We see a lot of orange-hued foods this time of year, from pumpkin to butternut squash and persimmons. But if you ask me, one particularly underutilized root is the sweet potato (or yam, depending on who you ask).

Rich in vitamin C, B6, potassium, and vitamin A (beta carotene), yams provide ample fiber and have reportedly been used in Chinese medicine. They are rather starchy and filling, which I find excellent for times when I’m craving an inappropriate amount of bread. Whether or not this happens to you too, I’m confident that a good chunk of sweet potato will satisfy even the neediest sweet tooth. I can’t offer you a money-back guarantee, but try it on for size and let me know.

Head on over to the Town Crier to read all about my recent baking adventure with yams, where you’ll find this scrumptious coffee cake recipe to boot!

Sunday
Oct092011

I made bread.

 

It was Saturday morning, and I wanted bread. I rose from the comforts of my tangled blankets, stumbled into the kitchen, did some stirring and a bit of kneading, and an hour later pulled a steaming, dense and chewy loaf from the oven.

This is an Irish brown bread recipe, so there’s no yeast. In other words, making bread won’t take you hours upon days, and you’ll probably be successful on the first go-around. Not to completely denounce authentic, yeasted bread – I’m just the kind of person who gets discouraged when she can’t do something perfectly right the first time she tries. Can you tell?

 

So until I can finally make a really good baguette (no, I’m not giving up just yet), this brown bread recipe will have to do. Which is completely fine by me – as I’m sure you’ll see, it has the perfect balance of sourdough-like tang, crunchy crust, chewy interior, and sturdy heft to sustain the weight of whatever you feel like adorning it with. It’d make a great tartine.

 

IRISH BROWN BREAD :: Makes 1 loaf

The original recipe calls for buttermilk. I was without buttermilk AND milk, so I substituted yogurt. Feel free to use whatever you have on hand. Also, G. uses ground oatmeal, but I opted for milled flaxseed. Again, be creative and see what’s in your pantry. Wheat germ might be nice.  Adapted from Kiss My Spatula.

3 1/2 cups whole wheat flour 2 tsp. sea salt 1 tsp. baking powder 1 tsp. baking soda 4 Tbsp. cold butter, cut into cubes 1/2 cup milled flaxseed 1 2/3 cup whole milk yogurt

  • Preheat oven to 350’. Butter a baking sheet, or line with parchment paper.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter or two knives, until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in the flaxseed.
  • Add yogurt and stir to combine. Dough will be sticky. Remove to a lightly floured surface and knead a few times to form a smooth ball, adding a bit more flour if you need to. Gently pat dough into a round dome, about 6-7 inches in diameter. Transfer to prepared baking sheet.
  • Lightly sprinkle the top of the dough with flour. With a sharp knife, cut an X into the top of the dough, about 3/4 inch deep. 
  • Bake for about an hour, until nicely browned and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool on a wire rack, and serve within 30 minutes. Will keep for a day or two in a sealed container or in the fridge.
Friday
Sep302011

Friday Night Panini

Grilled sandwiches make the easiest meals. Crispy bread, melty cheese, flavorful spreads, and a whole host of roasted veggies make for a wonderful dinner. I love my panini press, and I use it for everything– not just sandwiches. I grill chicken and portobellos, make toast, melts… the possibilities are endless.

That’s all I have for now. It is Friday night, after all. There’s no recipe, but I’ll tell you what I used to make it happen.

ROASTED VEGGIE PANINI :: Serves 2

4 slices of your favorite rustic bread

Sundried tomato pesto

Olive tapenade

Goat cheese

Roasted red peppers

Carmelized onions

Grilled, dijon-balsamic marinated portobello mushrooms

To accompny: Spinach salad with grilled chicken

 

Sunday
Sep252011

Banana Yogurt Pancakes

Banana pancakes aren’t anything new or innovative. I imagine them to be in the same camp as your go-to chocolate chip cookie recipe or the stir fry you make once a week. They are a classic and accepted addition to any breakfast menu. But, like with any template-type recipe, there are numerous ways to spice them up.

These pancakes use whole grain spelt flour, an old favorite of mine. I like it because it’s much more easily adaptable to recipes that use all-purpose or whole wheat flour (as opposed to other alternative flours), and it’s lower in gluten than regular wheat. My belly is happy to receive it. I also think it has a sweeter side than whole wheat; it isn’t as grainy and heavy, rather much lighter and more accommodating to assertive flavors. Any kind of fruit works well with spelt. 

I added some yogurt to the batter as well, in place of milk and other liquid ingredients. It makes them especially puffy and filling, and kind of gives you the feeling that you’ve shoved a complete breakfast into a pancake. Which is great, if you make these on a lazy Sunday morning as I did.

 

BANANA YOGURT PANCAKES :: Serves 4-5

3 ripe bananas 2 eggs 2 T. maple syrup (if you like the batter sweeter, feel free to add more) 1/2 cup whole milk yogurt (or more, if the batter is too thick) 2 cups whole spelt flour 1/4 cup milled golden flaxseed 1 tsp. baking soda pinch of salt butter for the griddle sliced bananas, almonds, and cinnamon, for garnish

– In a blender, puree bananas, eggs, maple syrup and yogurt.

– In a large bowl, combine flour, flax, baking soda and salt.

– Preheat a large griddle or pan over medium flame. Rub with butter.

– Pour liquid ingredients into dry ingredients and gently fold together, just until combined. Don’t overwork the batter, as spelt is delicate.

– Cook pancakes by 1/4 cup on preheated griddle, flipping when bubbles form on the surface and the edges are lightly golden. Cook for about 2 minutes on the other side.

– Top with sliced bananas, almonds, cinnamon and more maple syrup.

 

: :  H A P P Y   S U N D A Y  : :

Thursday
Sep222011

Butternut Squash, Sage & Goat Cheese Omelet

On Sunday, I had some butternut squash leftover from a batch of muffins the week before, so I thought I’d toss it into my breakfast before it went bad. Butternut squash, like pumpkin, is one of my favorite Fall vegetables. I find it especially irresistible when paired with nutmeg and sage– it takes on both a sweet and savory, rich and smooth flavor that is comforting in the best way. Pureed, it is wonderful in breads, pancakes, soups, ravioli and muffins. Cubed and roasted, it can be tossed into pasta, any seasonal stir-fry, and omelets! 

I happened to have some fresh goat cheese on hand, as well as a new jar of ground sage, so those were the flavors of my Sunday morning egg feast. Omelets are pretty easy to make, and you don’t really need a recipe, but I’ve included one below so you can see what proportions I used. I left the eggs whole and cooked them just until the whites were set, because I like my yolks a little runny.

BUTTERNUT SQUASH, SAGE & GOAT CHEESE OMELET :: SERVES 1

1/4 cup pureed butternut squash, or 1/2 cup cubed squash 1/4 tsp. ground sage freshly ground black pepper a bit of ground nutmeg 2 eggs goat cheese, to taste

– In a small skillet, cook butternut squash, sage, black pepper and nutmeg until tender. If using pureed squash, cook just until hot and the spices are fragrant.

– Crack eggs into a bowl, then gently pour into the skillet over the squash, being careful not to break the yolks. Sprinkle with more black pepper and top with chunks of goat cheese.

– Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook until egg whites are almost set. Remove cover and broil on high for a few minutes, until top is cooked and cheese is starting to brown. Loosen omelet with a spatula, then slide onto a plate and enjoy!