Category Archives: Brunch

Second Chances/Pumpkin Cranberry Bread

So it’s that time of year again, the time of year when the weeks suddenly start flying by, the thoughts of papers and exams are constantly whirling around my head and before I know it, I haven’t cooked anything in almost a week because I have actually forgotten what day it is. I usually like forgetting what day it is, because it is so often a sign of being on vacation, of relaxation and fun. Then there is the other type of forgetting what day it is which means that I start counting days based on how far away I am from a due date, and find myself having tunnel vision up until that day. It is at times like these that I accidentally make 6 pumpkin cranberry loaves and believe it to be the funniest and most exciting thing that has happened in weeks (sadly, it probably is).

Let’s back track. Yesterday, I finally had the time to procrastinate, which, from the looks of my agenda, won’t really be happening in the next few weeks and so, I decided to bake. It seems like every single food blog has been flooded with pumpkin dishes; chilies, soup, cake, pudding, you name it and a there is a food blogger out there using pumpkin to make it. Oddly enough, I have always disliked pumpkin, especially pumpkin pie. I know that is a cultural crime of sorts as an American, but in my opinion pumpkin pie is always over-spiced and soapy tasting. At first, when I was seeing all these pumpkin recipes I was quite disappointed, until I realized that it was time to give pumpkin a second chance. I told myself that if I took matters in my own hands, maybe I could adjust the recipe to suit my liking and I hoped that maybe I would be more excited to see a pumpkin recipe from there on out.

Well, like I said, I ended up with 6 loaves of this Pumpkin Cranberry Bread, so it was lucky that after the first bite I changed my mind about pumpkin desserts. By the time the batter was overflowing from the biggest bowl in our house, it was too late to backtrack, so a few hours later I was handing out cakes left and right. Luckily for me, not one person seemed mad about it. Everyone has been raving about the crispy top of this cake which is sprinkled with turbinado sugar and tastes a whole lot like gingerbread for such a mildly spiced cake. The incredibly moist inside is studded with tart cranberries and toasted pecans which counteract the richness of the spices and pumpkin and provide exciting textural variations. Overall, I am pretty glad that I followed the food blog madness and made my own pumpkin treat, it turns out second chances can be a good thing and I have a feeling this will not be the last pumpkin dish we’ll be seeing around here.

Pumpkin Cranberry Bread
(adapted from Serious Eats, who got it from The Sweeter Side of Amy’s Bread)

Ingredients:
1 1/4 c. unsalted butter, melted
4 large eggs
2 2/3 c. pumpkin puree
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup plain yogurt
4 1/8 c. AP flour
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. ground ginger
2 3/4 tsp. baking soda
1 tbsp. kosher salt
3 c. fresh (or frozen) cranberries
1 1/3 c. toasted pecans
5 tbsp. turbinado sugar

Directions:
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease 3, 8 x 4″ loaf pans.
2) Combine butter (cooled), eggs, pumpkin, sugar, and yogurt in a large bowl.
3) In another bowl whisk together the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, baking soda, and salt. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet until barely combined. Fold in the cranberries and the toasted nuts, do no overmix.
4) Divide evenly among greased loaf pans. Spinkle the turbinado sugar over the tops of the loaves. Bake for 55-65 minutes, until a knife comes out clean.

Notes:
• I used 5, 6 x 3.5″ loaf pans AND 1, 8 x 4″ which is why I had so many. If you have even bigger loaf pans I would make it in those.
• It is also easy to half this recipe, which I suggest, unless you need to give out gifts.

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Filed under Autumn, Bread, Breakfast, Brunch, Cake, Dessert, Snack

Sanity/Cinnamon Chocolate-Chip Sour Cream Cake

Sometimes I am compelled to question my sanity. I mean, I woke up at an ungodly hour yesterday morning and moseyed to the supermarket just so I could buy the ingredients to make this cake. You see the thing is, its not that I was craving sweets or chocolate or anything, but I had decided that I was going to bake a cake for my blog. So, despite papers and midterms, at 8 am I was lurking outside the supermarket waiting for the doors to open. By 10:30 piping hot deliciousness was sneaking out of my oven. I wish I could have been in my roommate’s head when she walked out of her room and there was already a cake baking. I wouldn’t blame her for worrying, normal people don’t make cakes the second they roll out of bed. Except for me that is, I swear I am totally normal.

It all started on Monday, when I decided that things have been looking a little salty around here recently, so I knew it was time to bake something up. I have more or less a million recipes bookmarked on my computer, but I didn’t feel like making anything fancy or difficult. To quote my oh-so-eloquent self, “I just want to make a cake where I just throw everything into a bowl and ta-dah!” Even though this cake had a few more steps than that, each and every one was entirely worth it. I have been eyeing this cinnamon chocolate-chip sour cream cake from Smitten Kitchen for a few months now, hoping I would find the right moment to make it. This is Deb’s mom’s recipe and Deb claims that it’s the reason her husband married her, if that’s true I wouldn’t blame him. This cake really is that good, ridiculously moist, just chocolatey enough with crackling cinnamon sugar on top. Let’s just say, that once I ate it I stopped questioning my sanity, and my “logic” finally made sense.

This cake is really good stuff, so good that I was worried I would try to test my theory that I could easily plow through a whole 9” x 13” cake in one day. As a preventative measure, I cut up some cubes of cake and took them with me to campus, I figured there were other people in need of comforting during hectic midterm season. Walking around with a zip-loc full of yummy cake squares, it looked like I was fishing for friends. Trust me, if anyone who tasted this cake didn’t already know me, I could have easily made a lot of new friends today. The mission to get this delicious cake out of sight (it will never be out of mind) as fast as possible was pretty successful. I might love cake, but so do my hips, so much so that they seem to hold on to it forever, how sweet. So, there’s only one thing left to say about this cake, make it. Sharing it is up to you, if today is your day to test the 9″ x 13″ cake theory, let me know how that works out.

Cinnamon Chocolate-Chip Sour Cream Cake
(from Smitten Kitchen)
Makes a 9 x 13 inch cake

Ingredients:
1 stick unsalted butter (4 ounces or 8 tablespoons) at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs, separated
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
16 ounces sour cream
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

12 ounces chocolate chips
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Directions:
1) Preheat oven to 350°F.
2) In a large bowl, cream butter and 1 1/2 cups sugar, then mix in the egg yolks and vanilla. Sift flour, baking soda and baking powder together into a separate bowl. Alternately add sour cream and then dry ingredients into butter mixture. Beat eggs whites until stiff, then fold into batter. Mix last 1/2 cup sugar and cinnamon together in a separate, small dish.
3) In a greased 9″x13″ pan, pour in half of the cake batter. Sprinkle the top with half of the cinnamon-sugar mixture and half of the chocolate chips. Pour remaining batter on top, sprinkling the top with the remaining cinnamon-sugar and chocolate chips.
4) Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean.

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Filed under Breakfast, Brunch, Cake, Chocolate, Dessert, Snack

Golden Tickets/100-mile Brunch

*UPDATE* did a little write up about me, click on the picture to check it out!

I have never won a thing in my life. When I played softball in 8th grade, I managed to hit the ball once all season, and somehow the ball boomeranged back, hit me on the shoulder and I literally tagged myself out. This past week my luck turned, I was the winner of Edible Manhattan‘s raffle for two tickets to the NYC Wine and Food Festival’s Great Performances Farm to Table Table 100-mile Brunch. Did you know that 100 years ago people used to eat more oyster meat than beef? Yesterday’s brunch was filled with all kinds of fun facts like this, but the best part of all was the food. Every dish tasted fresh and flavorful, and everything from the bread to the vegetables to the cheeses came from within a 100-mile radius of New York.

My sister and I walked into to the sunny room at the top of the New York Fire museum and went straight for the Widow’s Hole Oysters from the North Fork. They were briny and sweet, and washed down with the unusual Un-Bloody Mary (vodka flavored with tomato consommé rather than juice) they were the perfect first taste of the meal to come. At our table bowls of Katchkie Farm pickled vegetables were calling our name, but the tangy mounds of carrots, beet and peppers didn’t distract us for long. We picked up some refreshing basil infused iced tea at the juice bar and then headed over to the main buffet.

As we stood in line we sipped on sweet butternut squash soup that was so creamy and thick it was almost a puree. Although I was disappointed that it didn’t come with the homemade spiced marshmallows the menu promised, the rich, nutty flavor of the squash was delightful on its own. To my surprise the beautiful Katchkie Farm lettuces were not a centerpiece, they were actually meant to be eaten and salad mix-ins like marinated zucchini, fuchsia radishes and lentils were beautifully presented in glass cubes. This was the salad bar of champions, what most of us dream of finding at the all-too-standard New York salad bars. I am still trying to figure out how the poached eggs in the Eggs Benedict were so perfectly runny and how the Flying Pigs farm bacon stayed so crispy, despite the fact that they were at a buffet. The hollandaise was luscious without overpowering the eggs and the fluffy English muffin’s was the perfect vehicle for the leftover yolk and sauce. The fresh parsley and lemon sauce added a wonderful brightness to the flaky and tender pan seared hake and the fried cauliflower florets were amped up with the surprisingly piquant and sweet Katchkie Farm tomato jam.

And then there was the 100-mile lasagna, ah, the lasagna. It was hearty and comforting, slices of tomato, squash and eggplant, layered with just enough cheese and noodles to make it decadent but not overly rich. My sister and I spent at least twenty minutes discussing what kind of noodles were in there, but I am pretty sure we just wanted an excuse to get seconds. It all felt like a dream, a dream of creamy cheeses and fresh bread, of cracked wheat pancakes with New York maple syrup, and of zucchini bread with apple peach chutney. Like all good dreams, it eventually ended, but not before dessert. There were spiced financiers studded with poached pears, and mini peach and honey panna cottas. Big bowls of popsicles resting on bed of ice were passed around. By far my favorite dessert, the popsicles showcased the goodness of local fruits, they were sweet and juicy, with just enough texture to make me feel like I was actually eating pieces of fruit. Although we are ringing in the autumn harvest, these popsicles tasted just like summer, sweet and refreshing.

Yesterday I realized how many unique and varied ingredients are available from so nearby and now all I want to do is explore the options and create my own 100-mile menus. The truth is, food isn’t and never has been a one-person experience, food brings people together, it unites families, friends and strangers alike. But eating is not what it once was; we now have a greater responsibility than we ever have, to make smarter more sustainable choices. So, I won something for the first time and all I can think about is how it is time to give something back. I know I want to do what I can to make the best choices for the environment and myself. So I encourage anyone and everyone to embark on this journey with me, like I said food brings people together. Let’s come together to bring about positive change.

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Filed under Brunch, Local, New York

Welcoming the Fall/Apple Buttermilk Bread Pudding

For better or for worse, it seems that fall is officially here. Fall, that bittersweet time of year when courageous souls are still wearing shorts and flip flops, holding on to the fading thoughts of summer and pushing out the thoughts of impending midterms and another winter to come. Luckily, it is during this uncertain time of year that apples come back in season, timed perfectly with the need for ultimate comfort foods.

I am not sure I will ever understand why apples make the most comforting of foods, instead I just embrace the rich smell of cinnamon that swirls around my apartment when I cook them, their crisp sweet-tartness and the buttery sweet goodness that usually encases them. My love for this fruit is endless and I always have some on hand either as a snack or as an ingredient for both sweet and savory dishes. Over time, I have tried to find alternatives to standard crumbles and cobblers, trying to vary them with equally easy and tasty options. Although, there have been some flops along the way, fall makes me a little too “apple happy,” a few winners have come out of the trial and error process.

This apple buttermilk bread pudding is great because it’s easy, it uses up leftovers and its very versatile. Kind of like a baked French toast, this can be served as a dessert, but is also great (if not better) warmed up for breakfast the next day. Scoop a heaping spoonful into a bowl, drizzle it with some maple syrup and warm it up in the microwave. There is no better way to start your day, and no matter how cold it may get in the next few weeks, this comforting dish is sure to keep you feeling cozy and warm.

Apple Buttermilk Bread Pudding
Serves 9

Ingredients:

For Pudding:
1/2 loaf stale bread (I used half of a 12″ challah), cut into 1” cubes, or 1” pieces
4 eggs
2 3/4 c. buttermilk (or whole milk)
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. vanilla
3 tbsp. light brown sugar

For Apple mixture:
4 large apples (peeled, cored and cut into ½“ cubes)
2 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. light brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon

For Topping:
3 tbsp. light brown sugar
1/4 c. chopped pecans.

Directions:
1) Whisk eggs, buttermilk, vanilla, cinnamon, and sugar together in a large bowl. Add the bread, mixing, well to ensure proper absorption. Cover and let it sit in the fridge while you do the rest. 2) Preheat oven to 350 degrees and butter a 9 x 9” metal or glass, baking dish.
3) In a pan over medium heat melt the butter and sugar. Then add the apples and cinnamon and cook, stirring occasionally until soft. Set aside to cool.
4) Take your bread mixture out of the fridge and add half of the cooled apples to it. Pour this mixture into your baking dish.Top the mixture with the remaining apples and cover with foil. Place in the oven for 40 minutes.
5) Take off the foil and bake for another 30 minutes, until it is puffy and golden.
6) Take the pudding out of the oven and sprinkle the pecans and brown sugar on top. Turn on the broiler. Put the pudding back in the oven for 2-4 minutes, until the pecans are toasty and the sugar has caramelized.

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Filed under Apple, Brunch, Dessert