Wednesday, December 30, 2009

squash bread

I worked on Christmas, so had to bring something for our potluck. As I planned to spend most of Xmas eve day at Annie's, I needed to bring a dish that didn't take much time or advance preparation. I actually ended up taking two things--a pie made of leftover applesauce and cranberries from the previous week's latkes, and this very successful bread.

pumpkin bread

Squash Bread à la New York Times

makes one big loaf

800g all-purpose flour
300g pumpkin purée (I had it frozen, but canned would also be good)
400ml water
1t instant yeast (2g)
2t salt (15g)
200g raisins
150g chopped pecans
2t cumin seed
wheat bran

On the morning of the day before you plan to bake, mix everything but the bran together till there are no visible streaks of flour or squash remaining. Do a couple of stretch and folds over the next hour, then let it rise in a not-too-warm place till just before bedtime.

That night, scrape the dough onto a lightly floured counter and roughly shape it into either a round or oblong loaf, depending on what pan you plan to use to bake it. Generously cloak with bran, and set into an appropriately shaped dish (round bowl or oblong pan) sufficient to contain it when it's risen one and a half times and lined with a well-floured linen cloth. Rye flour, if you have some, has better non-stick properties than wheat. Put everything into a big plastic bag to prevent a skin forming prematurely on the loaf. If your house is warm at night, put in the refrigerator; otherwise, leave out on the counter.

When you get up preheat the oven to 425° with a 7 liter heavy, lidded casserole in it (I use this). If the dough's in the fridge, get it out and let it warm up. After an hour, carefully turn the loaf out into the hot pan, put the lid on, and bake for 25 minutes. Take the lid off and bake for another 25 minutes, or until its internal temperature is over 200° or it sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.

pumpkin bread ii

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Xmas cookies

cookies i

This year I again made only seven kinds of cookies. I didn't get started on them till about a week before Christmas, so I couldn't make Aachener Printen or my favorite kind of Lebkuchen as they both require at least two weeks of aging to get non-leathery. From the top and working around clockwise, there are windmills, sugar cookies, Annie's favorite Lebkuchen (from Betty Crocker), Afghans, Linzer cookies (my fancy Linzer cookie cutter didn't work very well, and kept falling apart as I tried to cut the too-soft dough), lemon-pistachio wedding cookies (made from this recipe but with twice the sugar and a little lemon juice added), and in the center, Pfeffernüsse (with icing adapted from this icing recipe).

Saturday, December 19, 2009

five-can dinner

tamale pie

I used to make tamale pie for Rachael and Annie all the time--it was an easy dinner, and very quick to make if you discount its time in the oven. It was always kind of a thrill, too, to make something involving so many cans. Rachael tired of it, though, and I forgot about it. I hadn't made it for years till last week when I was working on my Christmas baking and needed to fix something for dinner which would make nice leftovers for work lunches. I had my Betty Crocker cookbook out for its lebkuchen recipe and it reminded me of my old standby, which is heavily adapted from Betty's version. I rushed to the store to buy some cans, and soon I was eating this nostalgic dinner.

If you wanted to make it without mussing up your cutting board, you could even use pre-cut onions (I've seen them at Trader Joe's!) and squash your garlic through a press. For variety, I bet this would be good if you added some Soyrizo, fried along with the onions.

five can dinner ii

Fiesta Tamale Pie

serves 4, or 1 with lots of leftovers

1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1T oil
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can beans (pinto or black), drained
1 can corn, drained
i can diced green chiles
2t chili powder
1 cup corn meal
2T garbanzo bean flour
2T nutritional yeast
1 can black olives, drained
10oz unsweetened soy milk

serve with vegan sour cream and a lettucey salad

Fry the onions and garlic in an 3-4 quart ovenproof pan till the onions are yellowing. Add the tomatoes, beans, corn, chiles and chili powder, and bring to the boil. Meanwhile, whisk together the corn meal, garbanzo bean flour, nutritional yeast, and milk. Carefully pour over your hot mixture, then strew the olives over the top. You probably won't be able to fit all of the olives on, so the extras can tide you ever while you bake your pie for 40 minutes at 350°F.

plated tamale pie

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

It's really cold!

It was 18°F when I got up this morning, and 28° when I got home from my day's outing (I hear it got up to 31° somewhere in there, but I never noticed). I'm not in charge of the heat in my apartment--my downstairs neighbors have custody of the thermostat and make sure it's nice and warm when they're home, but we seem to have very different schedules--and it wasn't hot enough when I got home to drive the chill completely out of me. I decided to make my first hot whiskey of the winter to fortify myself for cooking dinner.

I've hated whiskey ever since I drank a big swig of it as a tiny child. My daddy always let me have drinks of his beer, so one time when he was drinking whiskey with his friends I couldn't understand why he wouldn't let me try some of it. I nagged and nagged until he gave in. It was the worst thing I'd ever tasted! Worse than marmalade! Worse than beets! I've been opposed to whiskey ever since, until Rachael nagged and nagged me to make her a hot toddy when she had a terrible cold. She didn't like it, so I finished it so as not to be wasteful. The water and sugar and everything made it much more palatable than Jack Daniels straight from the bottle.

I've since switched to hot whiskeys: they're made with Irish whiskey instead of Scotch whisky or brandy, and have cloves instead of nutmeg (I think Joy of Cooking, which taught me how to make a hot toddy, calls for nutmeg), but are otherwise the same.

hot whiskey i

Hot Whiskey

a shot of Irish whiskey
a lemon slice with 3 cloves stuck in it
1t sugar or honey
boiling water

Before you put anything else in it, rinse your heatproof glass with hot water so your whiskey will stay hot longer. Put in the lemon and sugar slice, and then the whiskey, and finally add hot water to taste. Stir around to dissolve to sugar and squash the lemon a little.