Monday, November 26, 2012

thanksgiving recap

::gobble gobble:: another thanksgiving meal under my belt! it always feels so good to be able to prepare something nice for my family. <3 LOVE <3

this year i was fairly relaxed in terms of planning and prepping. i guess after a couple of years i've finally figured out a solid menu and learned to keep things simple. everything came together really well ::pat on the back:: 

sunday i made the gravy and cranberry sauce. wednesday was for baking the pumpkin breads and cheesecakes, blanching the green beans, peeling/cutting/soaking the potatoes, and air-drying the turkey.

thanksgiving day was everything else~

thanksgiving 2012 menu:
- "use a spoon" chopped salad
- roasted (kosher) turkey (13.88lbs lucky~)
- dead simple turkey gravy
- basic cranberry sauce
- mom's sticky rice
- ultra-fluffy mashed potatoes
- green beans with crisp shallots
- butter sauteed corn
- roasted brussels sprouts and cauliflower
- mini pumpkin goat cheese cheesecakes with pecan crust (gluten free)
- mini vegan walnut pumpkin breads (to take home)

Monday, November 19, 2012

pumpkin cupcakes with brown butter icing and candied walnuts

this past weekend was the fourth meeting of our girls book club. carly hosted an amazing brunch at her place; there were breakfast quesadillas, almond flour waffles with cinnamon apple slices, bacon and egg bundles, LOTS of cheese, bread, and crackers (courtesy of jade and steph), and a super boozy apple cider. 

to round out the menu, i decided to bring some speculoos macarons and seasonal cupcakes :) pumpkin, brown butter, walnuts. mmm mmm, hello, fall!

:: pumpkin cupcakes with brown butter icing and candied walnuts ::
(recipe from shutterbean)

for the cake:
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice (i used cardamom instead)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup warm milk

1. heat the oven to 350F. butter a 9 x 2 inch round cake pan. line pan with parchment, and butter the parchment. coat pan with flour, and tap out any excess. (i used a muffin pan to make one dozen cupcakes and lined them with cupcake liners, no butter or flour. also had enough batter for a mini 6-inch cake but ran out of icing :P)
2. in a large bowl, sift flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, salt, baking powder, and baking soda; set aside.
3. in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat sugar and butter together until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. add eggs, and beat until combined. add pumpkin puree and milk; beat until combined. add reserved flour mixture; beat on low until just combined.
4. pour batter into prepared pan, and bake until a cake tester inserted into the middle comes out clean, about 55 minutes (20 minutes for cupcakes). transfer the cake to a wire rack to cool. let cake rest 20 minutes.
5. unmold cake. using an offset spatula, spread icing over top of cake, and decorate with caramelized walnut halves.

for the icing:
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup sifted confectioners' sugar

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 to 2 tablespoons milk

1. in a small saucepan, melt butter over medium-high heat until nut-brown in color, about 10 minutes. remove pan from heat, and pour butter into a bowl, leaving any burned sediment behind.
2. add sugar, vanilla, and 1 tablespoon milk; stir until smooth. if the icing is too thick, add the remaining tablespoon milk, a little at a time, until consistency is spreadable. let cool 5 minutes. use immediately.

for the walnuts:
1/2 cup sugar
10 well-shaped, large walnut halves

1. in a small skillet, melt sugar over medium-high heat until medium golden, about 3 minutes. remove skillet from heat. working quickly, drop walnut halves, one at a time, into the melted sugar. if the sugar hardens, return skillet to low heat, and stir several minutes. using a fork, turn walnuts until they are evenly coated. (work FAST; the sugar hardens and gets really tricky to work with.) transfer walnuts to a wire rack to cool completely. use to decorate cake.

Monday, November 5, 2012

roasting veggies

ROASTING: my new favorite way to prepare vegetables right now.

broccoli and brussels sprouts are a constant on my grocery list. i usually just steam the broccoli (boring, i know) and eat it plain (double boring) or with some peruvian green sauce (if i have any). for the brussels sprouts, i've played with a few recipes and different preparations, but most of the time i'll end up sauteing them with garlic.

so i was pretty excited when i saw a recipe from sprouted kitchen that combines all my veggie stand-bys. it is super versatile; the first time i made it, i only had broccoli, sprouts, and spinach, and it turned out great.

cauliflower has also made it into my veggie rotation, and i've learned that roasting it brings out a nice nutty flavor. again, super simple and tasty.

so many veggies--doesn't it make you feel extra healthy? (and totally justifies that extra cup of hot chocolate...)

:: emerald salad :: 
(recipe from sprouted kitchen)
serves 4.

1 lb broccolini*
1 lb broccoli
1 lemon, zest and juice
1 large leek*
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons black pepper
3 garlic cloves
6 oz (about 3 cups) spinach, roughly chopped
3/4 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped*
3/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted
1/2 cup feta cheese

oven set to 475 degrees.

1. cut the broccoli and broccolini into roughly two-inch chunks, on a bias. using the white and light green parts of the leek, slice lengthwise and rinse out the dirt. slice thin. toss the veggies with the olive oil, pepper, and lemon zest.
2. slice the garlic cloves as thin as possible, no mincing. add the broccoli mix to a large roasting pan. you don't want to cram them in a dish as they will end up steaming in their own moisture. give them space. sprinkle the garlic slices on top so they feel the direct heat in the oven.
3. at this point, you could cover and wait until you're getting ready to eat. or, pop that pan on the top rack of the oven for 12 minutes.
4. pull out the baking pan, and toss in the spinach, almonds, parsley, and lemon juice. toss in the pan so the heat wilts the spinach and the dressing it's created, distributes. put in your serving dish and crumble the feta cheese on top.
* i left these out the first time i made the dish.

:: roasted cauliflower ::
(adapted from jonathan waxman's italian, my way)
serves 4.

1 large cauliflower (about 2 lbs)
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
2 garlic cloves, sliced

1. preheat oven to 450 degrees.
2. wash the cauliflower and separate into florets.
3. lightly coat roasting pan with 1 teaspoon of the olive oil.
4. in a bowl, toss the cauliflower with the salt, pepper, and remaining olive oil. place the cauliflower in the pan and roast for 20 minutes. you'll need to stir it once or twice. you want it to turn a nice golden brown.