Pumpkin Walnut Cranberry Quickbread

Recipe here.

This was a fantastic recipe.  It makes two loaves, so we nibbled on one for a couple of days and then sliced and froze the other, so that we could pull it out, as needed.  I wrapped the frozen slices individually, so that they kids could pull them out and take them to school (they thaw by snacktime.)

I used pecans, instead, because we prefer them to walnuts.

I’ll definitely be making this again.

Nigerian Kidney Bean Stew with Peanut Sauce and cornbread

from Madhur Jaffrey’s fantastic book, World Vegetarian

Recipe here, but if you have any interest in vegetarian cooking at all, you should just go ahead and buy this book.  It’s outstanding.

I topped the stew with a little bit of chopped peanuts, since I had some on hand, leftover from our last spring roll night.  The cornbread is a basic Southern cornbread recipe, but with some grated carrot added in and sesame seeds sprinkled over the top before baking.  Tasty.

Rava Dosas with Potato Chickpea Masala

Recipe here.*

Yum, yum, yummity yum yum yum.

This is the first thing that I’ve made in a while (other than spring rolls) that the whole family has agreed upon.  Usually, I’ll make a vegetarian dish that Boy won’t enjoy because it isn’t satisfying enough for him, or I’ll make a meat dish and two hearty side dishes, hoping that Girl can make a meal out of just the sides, and then she won’t feel like she’s really eaten a “meal,” but rather just snacked on sides.

This is spicy and warm and filling enough to be satisfying for all but the most stalwart carnivores and is definitely healthy and wholesome enough to satisfy any vegetarian.  This definitely “feels” like a main course.

I, of course, made a few VERY slight modifications to the original recipe:

I used russet potatoes because I couldn’t find organic Yukon Golds and didn’t want to use “pesticide” potatoes, but I discovered that russets take a bit more time and liquid to cook than gold potatoes, so be aware of that if you decide to change up your potatoes, too.

I added another cup of chickpeas that I had leftover, just to bulk up the protein quotient for Vegetarian Girl.

I added just a bit of garam masala when I added the curry-ginger-garlic mixture, just to add a bit more flavor and some brightness (a few of the epicurious reviewers mentioned that the masala was a little bland.)

I also sauteed the onions in the pan BEFORE adding the curry-ginger-garlic mixture because I am personally not wild about onions that are not thoroughly cooked.  The only raw onions that I can tolerate are red onions or green ones; white or yellow ones must be thoroughly cooked and softened for me.

I also added a bit more water to the dosa batter, because several epicurious reviewers had mentioned that the batter, as specified, was a bit too thick.  I agree and think the extra water is crucial.  Getting the hang of making the dosas is a little bit tricky (I had to throw the first one away,) but keep experimenting (make another batch of batter, if you need to,) and you’ll get it.  I think if I hadn’t needed to throw the first one away, and if I hadn’t added extra water, then the batter probably would have made four dosas, but I ended up with 5 (made 6 and threw one away.

* This recipe is originally from November 2009 Gourmet magazine.  There is a new issue out called Gourmet Quick Kitchen that has recently reprinted it.

Almond Croissants

Like my Wizard of Oz coffee mug?  Yeah, we got a little obsessed around here for a while, but it has, blessedly, passed…

OK, so if you dig the flavor of almonds, you really owe it to yourself to make these right away.  I’ve made them a couple of times over the past few weeks and they are really something special, especially when they’re hot out of the oven.

Almond Croissant Turnovers

(recipe adapted from this one)

1/2 package frozen puff pastry

1/4 cup canned almond paste

1 egg, beaten

1/4 cup sliced almonds

Thaw the puff pastry (you’ll use only one of the sheets in the package…wrap the other one tightly in plastic wrap and keep it in the freezer) at room temperature, wrapped in waxed paper or plastic wrap, for about 45 minutes, until it’s soft enough to handle without it breaking.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Carefully unfold the sheet and lay it out flat on a lightly floured work surface.  Using a pastry cutter or pizza cutter, cut the sheet into four equal-sized squares.  Gently spread one tablespoonful of almond paste onto each square, stopping about a half-inch away from the edges of each square.

Starting at one corner, gently fold each pastry square over, diagonally, to form a triangle over the filling.  Beginning on the folded side, gently press any excess air out of the dough and then press the edges of the triangle to seal it, using a minimal amount of the egg (applied with a pastry brush) as glue, if necessary.  Repeat with each pastry square and then place all of the filled and sealed croissants on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

Brush each croissant with a thin but thorough (cover the whole surface, but don’t douse it and try not to apply so much that it bleeds over onto the parchment paper) coat of the beaten egg.  Sprinkle each croissant with a coating of the sliced almonds (as many or as few as you’d like…a small clump or coat the whole thing…your choice) and bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes or until the croissants are golden brown and the almonds on top are toasted.

Let cool for about 1 minute while you brew your coffee,  and then enjoy.

Nota Bene:  I only use half the package of puff pastry, because there are four of us in my family, but you could obviously very easily double this recipe, by using the whole package, to make 8 croissants…or as many as you might need, if you’re serving a crowd.  I haven’t tried it yet, but I also think it would be fun to cut each sheet into 16 tiny squares and make mini croissants…stay tuned!

Dorie Greenspan’s Lemony Sour Cream Muffins

Recipe here.

These muffins were absolutely fantastic.  The melted butter gives a rich flavor and helps develop a delicious, crusty muffin top.  These will be a definite repeat.  Yum.

The recipe doesn’t specify, but this makes 12 muffins.

We served the muffins with a strawberry-banana-black grape fruit salad and some scrambled (mostly) egg whites.  When I make a recipe (such as custard or spinach-ricotta tortelli) that uses a lot of egg yolks, I’ll save the whites and either make meringues or macarons or just use them for scrambled eggs the next morning, for a slightly lower-cholesterol option.   I’ll usually add one or two whole eggs, also, for better flavor.   A good blend, to ensure palatability, is about 5 egg whites and 2 whole eggs (with some McCormick low sodium Montreal Steak seasoning – YUM!) to serve my family of 4.

Homemade Cheddar Crackers

Recipe here.

These were really tasty, but a bit of trouble to roll out and don’t predictably bake to anything resembling a uniform size.  They puff and wobble as they bake, so some turn out thicker or smaller.  They taste good, but they’re just difficult to work with.  If I make these again, I will probably roll the dough into a log, freeze it, then slice into coins for baking.  The one thing that I really DO like about this form factor is that they are a perfect Goldfish-like “pop into your mouth” size.  Perfect in a little bowl to accompany a cocktail or, with some juice, for an after-school snack.  I would probably add a bit of cayenne and or paprika or pimenton the next time that I make these, just for a bit more kick.

Pioneer Woman’s Apple Fritters

Recipe here.

These were so yummy and tasty-crusty-crunchy.  Great for a lazy weekend breakfast, even though you house will smell like boiling oil for the rest of the day.  I used a small (2 oz) cookie dough scoop with a little release lever on the side to drop the fritters in the oil, to keep them a consistent size and give them a pretty shape.  The kids helped with these and we all liked them quite a bit.

Barefoot Contessa’s Maple-Oatmeal Scones

Recipe here.

Delicious and easy.  Makes a TON of scones.  Fabulous maple flavor. Great for feeding a crowd without a lot of effort.  Like Barefoot Contessa’s Orange-Cranberry Scones, they are best eaten the same day, or possibly the next day, but suffer in texture if kept longer than that, so I’d plan to share or freeze any leftovers or consider making a half-batch.