Saturday, December 22

Kitchen Sink Banana Bread

My Holiday Baking this year has been pretty lack luster. It consisted of baking a couple loaves of orange cranberry bread, though I didn't have cranberries so I substituted mixed berries, and a single loaf of my Kitchen Sink Bread (so named because I put everything in it but the kitchen sink). It's a big favorite in my family, especially by Jeff who I once watched eat almost an entire load in the span of about 30 minutes.

Here's the recipe which I adapted from Mark Bittman's "How to Cook Everything" and from which I got the adding coconut to keep it moist.

Kitchen Sink Banana Bread

1 stick butter (plus more to grease pan)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
3 ripe bananas, mashed
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cupped chopped pecans
1/2 grated shredded coconut
1 cup chopped fruit (apples and pears work well)

Preheat oven to 350, grease 9x5 loaf pan.

Mix together dry ingredients. Cream butter and mix in eggs, bananas and vanilla. Stir into dry mixture but do not overmix. Gently stir in remaining ingredients.

Pour batter into loaf pan and bake for 45 to 60 min until center is pretty set. Cool for 15 min, then remove from pan. Store by wrapping in wax paper. The bread will be moist and delicious!

Enjoy! Merry Christmas. We're heading to the in-laws for a few days where I imagine I won't be getting much posting or cooking done, but tune back in because in January we're going VEGAN for one month. Hooray!

Wednesday, December 12

Should I Be Concerned?

Tonight, Bryan and I went over to have dinner at Mae Ploy. This was in his fortune cookie:

In case it's a little hard to read, it says "you are going to have a new love affair". I don't know, I think it's a little awkward to put that in a cookie.

Sunday, December 9

It's all about the Crumble Topping

I had to make sure it wasn't poisonous.

About a week or two ago I made what a cookbook described as a tamale pie. Essentially it was a casserole of all things mexican: black beans, red peppers, tomatoes, etc., covered in a layer of what was supposed to be tamale but which ended up being more like cornbread. (that's the last time that I listen to a cookbook and buy corn meal when I know it should be masa) Nonetheless, it was tasty, but it left me with a pint of buttermilk. Yesterday was officially the expiration date of said buttermilk, and not wanting to waste it, I headed to my Williams Sonoma Muffin cookbook. Initially I thought I'd make some Vanilla Pear muffins, but soon realized I was out of the requisite pecans. I did have a pint of fresh raspberries that were about to die in the fridge if I didn't eat them soon. I tracked down a blackberry recipe that called for 2 cups of berries (I only had one) so I hit the freezer and pulled out a bag of TJ's frozen mixed berries.

The result? Bryan swears they must be really bad for you, given how good they taste. I claim that while technically probably not GOOD for you, I'm not sure I believe they're BAD for you either. You decide.


1/3 cup sugar
3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
grated zest of 1/2 lemon
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted

2 Cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinammon
grated zest of 1/2 lemon
1/4 tsp salt
1 large egg, beaten
5 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup fresh berries + 1 cup frozen mixed berries

Preheat oven to 375. Grease a 12-cup muffin tin with butter.

Make topping by combining sugar, flour and zest. Then mix in melted butter and stir until crumbly.

Just-Barely-Mixed Batter
In a large bowl, mix together dry ingredients for muffins. Make a well in the center and add wet ingredients (but not berries). Mix together with a scraper. Make sure you just barely mix it all together, do NOT over-stir. Batter should be clumpy.

Add berries and barely combine.

Scoop into muffin tin.

Add crumble topping evenly amongst muffin tins. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until muffins are slightly golden on top and springy. If your oven is as prone to hot spots as mine is, make sure to rotate the muffins halfway through the baking process.

Let cool 15 minutes on a rack. Unmold the muffins and dive in.

After I mixed in the berries the batter turned an intense purple color. I was surprised that the muffins, once finished baking, weren't the same purple color. Somehow they had returned to their dough-color in the oven. Magic. Or chemistry. Or both.

Tuesday, December 4

Gratinéed Mustard Creamed Onions

It's not Thanksgiving if there aren't boiled onions. For years my mom has been making them, and I have to admit, I'm only a recent believer. I didn't really get the point of onions and bechamel sauce until my taste buds and I grew up. This year, I thought I'd try a new recipe to put a spin on the classic. The result: one of my favorite dishes from the entire experience.

Gratinéed Mustard Creamed Onions

2 lb white pearl onions
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
2 cup whole milk
3 Tbsp Sherry
1 Tbsp grainy mustard
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Equipment: 2 Qt shallow gratin (2 inches deep)

Cook onions in a large heavy pot of boiling salted water, until just tender. 25 min. REserve 1 cup of cooking water, then drain and when cooled, peel. DON'T be like me and always forget and peel the onions before you cook them. Their centers will pop out and you'll feel silly.

Melt butter in dry pot over medium heat. Add flour and stir 2 min. Whisk in reserved cooking water, milk, sherry and cook until thickened, whisking. 8min. Whisk in nutmeg, mustards and 1/2 tsp salt and pepper. Add onions to sauce and simmer 5 min.

Preheat broiler.

Transfer creamed onions to baking dish and sprinkle with cheese. Broil 4 to 5 inches away from heat until top is golden and bubbly. 3 min. ENJOY!!!

Monday, December 3

Cranberry Sauce with Port and Tangerine

I am normally not a huge fan of cranberry sauce, again because it tends to be overly sweet. I'll add a tiny dollop to my Thanksgiving plate, but it's not really something I go out of my way for. This recipe, however, may make me change that.

The port gives the sauce depth and the tangerines give it a kick. It's not too sweet but it still complements Turkey (at least that's what they told me) and other savories nicely.

Cranberry Sauce with Port and Tangerine

1 bag fresh cranberries
3/4 cup sugar (scant)
1/2 cup Ruby Port
3 strips tangerine zest
1/3 cup freshly squeezed tangerine juice

Bring cranberries, sugar, port and zest to a simmer in a heave saucepan over medium heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until cranberries burst (12 min). Remove from heat and stir in juice. Cool completely.

This recipe came from the November 07 issue of Gourmet in the section called 'Bringing Fancy Back', which I'm all about.

Sunday, December 2

Bourbon-Walnut Sweet Potato Mash

I have this thing that happens when people say they don't like a particular kind of food. I take it as a challenge. I'm convinced that it's not the ingredient's fault so much as it is the preparations the person has had, that have made him decide he doesn't like a certain food. For once, I'm not talking about my better half. In fact, this time I'm talking about another member of my family, who claims that she's not a big fan of sweet potatoes. Now, she started to become a convert a couple of years ago when Alison first made her sweet potato cheesecake, but still, I wanted to convert her to a side dish she'd like. Her biggest complaint? Too cloying. How to fix this? Less sugar, more flavor.

So it was with some excitement that I stumbled across the following recipe in the pages of Bon Appétit's Thanksgiving issue.

Bourbon-Walnut Sweet Potato Mash

4 lbs red-skinned sweet potatoes (yams)
1/2 cup whipping cream
6 Tbsp butter
1/4 cup (scant) maple syrup
3 Tbsp bourbon
1 1/2 tsp ground cinammon
1 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped

Preheat oven to 350. Roast potatoes on rimmed baking sheet until tender, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Cool slightly. Scoop flesh into large bowl; discard skins. Mash hot potatoes until course puree forms.
Heat cream and butter in a small pan over low heat until butter melts. Gradually stir hot mixture into hot potatoes. Stir in syrup, bourbon and spices. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle nuts over top and serve.

The result? Sweet Potato convert. This recipe is fabulous because it has kick and flavor without being overly sweet. Also, it smells like pumpkin pie and the walnuts set off the bourbon and maple syrup perfectly. I made these a day ahead without adding the walnuts, then reheated and added the nuts at the last minute.

Saturday, December 1

Pumpkin Stuffed with Vegetable Stew

The Pumpkin Stuffed with Vegetable Stew was the centerpiece of the Vegetarian portion of our Thanksgiving, which comprises about half of our family. The recipe came from Gourmet Magazine, but I made a couple of adjustments to get to the final product. I was a little nervous that this was going to be all flair and not very tasty, but actually it was really quite delicious and satisfying. I would make this again for any kind of Fall dinner party. Serve with a rice pilaf to soak up the sauce.

The original recipe called for one large baking pumpkin, but of course, none of the four stores we visited had any and the best I could find were actually in the floral department. Using three smaller pumpkins worked out well though because I was able to make one stew without mushrooms for those who don't dig the fungus.

Pumpkin Stuffed with Vegetable Stew

1 fennel bulb with fronds
2 medium parsnips (1/2 pound total), peeled, quartered, cored, and cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 pound celery root (sometimes called celeriac; 1/2 of 1 medium), peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
3 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
14 small shallots (about 1 pound), peeled and left whole, plus 1/2 cup chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided 2 red bell peppers
1 (8- to 9-lb) pumpkin (preferably cheese, pie, or Sweet Meat variety)
Roasted-vegetable and wine sauce, heated
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 pound fresh cremini mushrooms, trimmed and halved
1 package dried chanterelle mushrooms, resuscitated
1/2 pound seitan (seasoned wheat gluten), cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 teaspoon chopped thyme, divided
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest

Roast root vegetables (day before):
Preheat oven to 450°F with rack in middle. Chop enough fennel fronds to measure 1 tablespoon and reserve, then discard stalks and remaining fronds. Halve bulb lengthwise, then core and cut lengthwise into 1-inch wedges.

Toss fennel wedges, parsnips, celery root, carrots, and whole shallots with 2 tablespoons oil, teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a 17- by 12-inch shallow baking pan until coated, then roast, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned and almost tender, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove vegetables from oven. Leave oven on.

Prepare peppers and pumpkins while vegetables roast:
Roast peppers on racks of gas burners over high heat, turning with tongs, until skins are blistered, 5 to 8 minutes.

Transfer peppers to a bowl and let stand, covered, until cool enough to handle. Peel peppers and discard stems and seeds. Cut peppers lengthwise into 1-inch strips.

Remove top of pumpkins by cutting a circle (6 inches in diameter) around stem with a small sharp knife. Scrape out and discard seeds and any loose fibers from inside pumpkin with a spoon (including top of pumpkin; do not discard top), then sprinkle flesh with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Put pumpkins in a large roasting pan.

Stuff and roast pumpkins:
Pour 1/2 cup sauce into each pumpkin and cover with top, then brush all over with remaining tablespoon oil. Roast 1/2 hour.

While pumpkins roast, heat butter in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium-high heat until foam subsides, then sauté chopped shallots until softened. Add mushrooms and sauté until they are browned and begin to give off liquid, about 8 minutes. Add wheat gluten and 1/2 teaspoon thyme, then stir in 1 1/2 cups more sauce and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat and fold in roasted root vegetables and peppers, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper.

After pumpkins have roasted 1/2 hour, spoon vegetable filling into it, then cover with top. Roast until pumpkin is tender when pierced with a fork, vegetables are tender, and filling is hot, about 30 minutes more. Transfer pumpkin to a platter using 2 sturdy metal spatulas.

Stir together fennel fronds, parsley, zest, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon thyme and sprinkle half of it over filling. Stir remainder into remaining sauce and serve sauce on the side. Serve with Rice Pilaf to soak up sauce.

Roasted-Vegetable and Wine Sauce

1 large leek (white and pale green parts only), halved lengthwise
5 carrots, quartered
1 head garlic, separated into cloves and peeled
2 red bell peppers, quartered
1 pound plum tomatoes, halved
1 fennel bulb, stalks discarded and bulb quartered
2 large onions, quartered
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup boiling water
1/2 ounce dried porcini mushrooms (1 cup)
1 (4-inch) piece celery
4 parsley stems
1 large thyme sprig
8 black peppercorns
2 Turkish bay leaves or 1 California
1 cup dry red wine
4 quart water
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes (not packed in oil; 1 1/2 ounces)
1/2 stick unsalted butter
1/3 cup all-purpose flour

Roast vegetables:
Preheat oven to 450°F with rack in middle.

Wash leek halves and pat dry.

Toss leek, carrots, garlic, bell peppers, plum tomatoes, fennel, and onions with oil, then spread in a 17- by 14-inch roasting pan and roast, stirring occasionally, until well browned and tender, 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours.

Soak porcini and make bouquet garni while vegetables roast:
Pour boiling water over porcini in a bowl and soak until softened, 10 to 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, wrap celery, parsley stems, thyme sprig, peppercorns, and bay leaves in a piece of cheesecloth and tie with string.

Lift out porcini, squeezing excess liquid back into bowl, and rinse to remove any grit. Pour soaking liquid through a sieve lined with a dampened paper towel into another bowl.

Make stock:
Transfer roasted vegetables to a 6- to 8-quart pot and add wine to roasting pan, then deglaze pan by boiling, scraping up brown bits, 1 to 2 minutes. Add wine to vegetables in pot along with water (4 quarts), porcini and soaking liquid, bouquet garni, sun-dried tomatoes, and 2 teaspoons salt. Bring to a boil, then simmer, uncovered, until stock is reduced to about 6 cups, about 2 hours. Pour through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl, pressing firmly on and then discarding solids.

Make sauce:
Melt butter in a 3-quart heavy saucepan over medium heat and whisk in flour, then cook roux, whisking, 3 minutes. Add stock in a stream, whisking constantly to prevent lumps, then bring to a boil, whisking. Reduce heat and simmer, whisking occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Thanksgiving Roundup

I officially have the entire weekend off. No SAT lessons or driving to San Diego to film for Stonefield. Just me and a keyboard all weekend. Needless to say, I'm pretty excited by the prospect. I've walked Mel (which was lame because the Rangers were out handing out tickets for dogs off leash so Mel didn't get to do any of the running around she desperately needed after being cooped up in the house yesterday on account of the rain), made my pot of coffee and I'm chomping at the bit.

So to begin...a bit of Thanksgiving roundup. This year was a Moser Thanksgiving year - it'll be a Kramer Christmas - so I headed down to SD Tuesday night bearing far more recipes than were really necessary. It's all Alison's fault. I had emailed her a list of dishes that we could make, expecting her to cull it down to a reasonable number for 10 people, but instead she responded with something along the lines of: that all sounds great! Seriously people, I need saving from myself, otherwise when it comes to the Holidays I will cook until I drop. It's like a sickness. But a rather delicious one.

Brussels Sprouts, Onions, Peas and Sweet Potatoes....Heaven? I think so


Goat Cheese Crostini w/Grapefruit and Black Pepper Marmalade
Crudite with Mom's dill dip

Main Course
Turkey Breast (prepared by the CBTS Mosers - a funny story in an of itself, but one I won't get into)
Cashew Nut Loaf (a Moser vegetarian classic)
Pumpkin Stuffed with Vegetable Stew

Sides and Sauces
Hazelnut, Sage and Mushroom Stuffing
Plain Jane Mashed Potatoes
Bourbon-Walnut Sweet Potato Mash
Gratinéed Mustard Creamed Onions
Brussels Sprouts Hash w/Caramelized Shallots
Green Peas
Rice Pilaf
Cranberry Sauce with Port and Tangerines
Roasted Vegetable Wine Sauce
Portobello Mushroom Gravy

Butter Lettuce and Arugula with Gorgonzola, Pears and Candied Pecans

Roasted Sweet Potato Cheesecake with Maple Cream
Apple Pie

For the record - that's 18 dishes for 10 people. Overkill? Perhaps. But look at how happy those people are:


Thanks to Alison and her quick thinking with the camera, I actually have pictures of the event. I'm going to post some of my favorite recipes in separate posts today and tomorrow. They're all worth hanging on to for future Holiday events.