Saturday, October 31, 2009

Hallowe'en Moon

After spending last weekend at one of my favorite Hallowe'en activities, Hallowe'en Nights at the Henry Ford, I think we need to go back to how Hallowe'en used to be spelled.   After all, Hallowe'en is short for "All Hallows Even", because tonight is the night before All Saints Day.  Every year at Hallowe'en Nights, they give out a vintage postcard from their vast collection of historic art, and this one is one of my favorites.   It is a postcard from 1908.   

If you scroll way down on this blog, you will see the current moon phase gadget.  I know that no one ever scrolls down that far to see it, so I am hoping you do right now and check it out.  (or, you could just click the link).  Tonight, I note that we have a waxing gibbous, 94% of full, which means we are almost to the full moon we will have on Monday.   Plus, the forecast calls for high winds all day today, dying down around 4 pm.  Sure sounds like we will have clear skies for our almost full moon on Hallowe'en night tonight.

I had a half can of pumpkin left over from Alex's fabulous pumpkin cornmeal pancakes, so I looked around for a good recipe.   I turned to one of my favorite vintage cookbooks, Farm Journal's Best Ever Recipes and found one for pumpkin cake with harvest moon frosting.   The farm ladies of yore had this to say about the recipe...."I like to freeze some ahead for the football season.  Our guests look forward to a big slice of this cake with hot cider after the game" (Kansas) ...."No one can guess there's pumpkin in this cake - it has a unique flavor" (Missouri)...."I like to make this nutritious cake for my youngsters as it uses eggs and pumpkin" (Wisconsin).    Why not give it a shot?  The recipe had some issues for me, however....

I had to make some changes because harvest moon frosting is essentially a traditional seven minute frosting made with brown sugar.    Every recipe I could find required using a handheld mixer during the double boiling stage, and I don't have one.  So I adapted the recipe for use with a stick blender and my kitchen aid.   It worked out great.   A seven minute frosting is a lot like making home made marshmallows, and the result is a frosting that's a lot like marshmallow fluff.   Very glossy and pretty - and this one is a lovely tawny brown color because of the brown sugar.   The original recipe for the cake called for maple flavoring, which I don't have, so I replaced it with maple syrup and some cinnamon.   It also called for walnuts - I substituted some macadamia nuts because that's what I had on hand.   It was supposed to be a 3 layer cake, I made it into a 13x9 snack cake.  It came out great!

Pumpkin Cake

1/2 c. shortening
1 c. sugar
1 c. firnly packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 c. canned pumpkin
3 c. all purpose flour
4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp.  baking soda
1/2 c. milk
1 c. chopped nuts
1 tblsp.  maple syrup
1 tsp. cinnamon

Cream together shortening and sugars in mixing bowl until light and fluffy.   Add eggs and pumpkin and beat well.   In another bowl, mix flour, baking poweder and baking soda and add alternatively with the milk to the creamed mixture, beating well after each addtion.   Stir in bnuts, maple syrup and cinnaomon and bake in a greased 13X9 pan for 35 minutes at 350F or until center is done.  When cool, frost with Harvest Moon Frosting.

Harvest Moon Frosting

3 egg whites
1 1/2 c. brown sugar, firmly packed
6 tblsp. water
1 tsp. vanilla

Combine egg whites, brown sugar and water in the bowl of your stand mixer, and put that on top of a pot of boiling water.  Beat well with a stick blender for 7 minutes or until soft peaks form.  Remove from heat, add vanilla and beat with the whisk attachment of the stand mixer until thick enough to spread.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Puffy Apple Pancake - cure for cold rainy weekend mornings

It's that time in Michigan - the cold, rainy time.  Don't let it wreck the weekend!  It will be raining again tomorrow,  but celebrate the season with this wonderful apple recipe.   I love Northern Spys....they are great for this recipe but any tart apple will work. 

Puffy Apple Pancake

1 c milk

4 eggs
3 T sugar
1t vanilla extract
1/2 t salt
1/2 t ground cinnamon
dash or two of powdered ginger
2/3 c all purpose flour
2 T butter
2 tart apples, cored, thinly sliced (peel if you like)
3 T brown sugar
Powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 425°F.  Whisk milk, eggs, sugar, vanilla, salt, and spices in large bowl until well blended. Add flour and whisk until batter is smooth.   Place butter in 13x9-inch glass baking dish. Place dish in oven until butter melts, about 5 minutes. Remove dish from oven. Place apple slices in a single layer in melted butter in baking dish. Return to oven and bake until apples begin to soften slightly and butter is bubbling and beginning to brown around edges of dish, about 10 minutes.

Pour batter over apples in dish and sprinkle with brown sugar. Bake pancake until puffed and brown, about 20 minutes. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Serve warm.  It will deflate when you cut into it, but it will still taste great!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

MLFB Oktoberfest and Soup Exchange

Last night a group of food bloggers I am happy to be a part of got together for one of our regular potlucks.   Besides sampling all sorts of beers, we made and exchanged soups.  I had a ham bone in my freezer that needed to be used, so I made split pea soup in the crock pot.   That's such a simple recipe I feel a little silly sharing it here, but this is what I did:

Split Pea Soup
1 ham bone with some meat still on it
1 lb. bag dried split peas, rinsed and sorted
2 onions, peeled and left whole
4 cloves garlic, peeled and left whole
1 T. whole peppercorns
4 carrots,  peeled, quartered and cut in 2 inch long pieces
1 t. kosher salt, or more to taste

Combine all ingredients in a crock pot.   Add enough water to cover everything, cook on low for 8 hours.    Remove bone and onions, adjust salt if needed.

I also made an old favorite soup of mine - curried cauliflower soup.   It's wonderful for fall/winter when the cauliflower is in season.  Be sure to use a white cauliflower for this soup - I tried it once with a purple one and it came out a very unappetizing sludge color.  Made with a white cauliflower, the soup will take on a lovely chartreuese color that looks great with the cilantro garnish.   If you are a cilantro hater, use parsley instead.  If you like spicy foods,  use Penzey's hot curry powder.  (if not, try their sweet curry powder). I love Penzey's spices and buy all of my spices from their store in Wisconsin online.   Their catalog always has yummy looking recipes and has a real homespun feel about it.   I am always happy when one shows up in the mailbox.  They do have a store in Birmingham, but I am never up that way to check it out.   Their spices are an excellent value and always fresh, and when the box comes from Penzeys, they always have tucked in some free samples tucked in to try.   Not sure if you get that at the store!

Curried Cauliflower Soup

1 head cauliflower cut into florets
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Kosher salt
1 tablespoon butter
3 onions, sliced 1 inch thick
1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
4 cups water
I can reduced-sodium canned chicken or vegetable broth
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro (or parsley) for garnish

1. Preheat oven to 450°. On a baking sheet, toss cauliflower with vegetable oil and 1 teaspoon salt. Spread out, and roast until the florets turn brown, about 25 minutes.

2. In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add onions, and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in curry powder, cauliflower, water, and broth; cover, and bring to a boil. Uncover, lower heat, and simmer 5 minutes.

3. Using a slotted spoon, transfer a few cups cauliflower to a bowl, and set aside. Using a stick blender, puree the cauliflower in the soup, and then add the reserved florets.  Ladle soup into bowls, and top with cilantro or parsley.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Your questions, answered....

Buttercup asked: "A great hint about the KitchenAid vegetable puree attachment. Did you purchase this separately and does it come with the food and meat grinder?"

Actually, I bought it as part of KitchenAid Stand Mixer Attachment Pack. It's a great deal that way - you get lots of gadgetty goodness in that pack.

Jen asked: "How long will the kraut keep in the fridge? "

I think it will last there a long time. In the olden days, kraut was just kept in a cool root cellar.  I read somewhere that some folks say kraut takes 6 month to reach prime taste.

Lookinout said "I'd love to hear more about cellaring potatoes and pears. I doubt it is possible in my garage as it gets very cold, 20 - 30 degrees below freezing, however..."

Yikes!  That is cold.   Where do you live?  Even in Michigan, it doesn't get that cold in winter.  Yes, that would be too cold for potatoes and pears. My attached garage (up against the house wall) stays much warmer.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Killing Frost and Crabapple Butter

Last night, I am sure we got a killing frost. We had a light frost a couple weeks ago, and the remains of my garden were still hanging on, but when I looked out the kitchen sink window at my thermometer was reading 29F. At first light, I'll take a look and see what's going on. It's still dark right now. In my small herb garden I still had some greens growing that I sowed in August, as well as some oregano and some mint and sage. I had potted up some of my herbs to try to keep them going over the winter inside. I left the sage out there, though. I had a sage plant in years past that was almost like an evergreen - it stayed green all winter and I used to pick leaves from it when snow was on the ground. It was like a bush and I used to brag that I couldn't kill it when I finally ended up doing just that by moving it once too many times. I grew sage from seed via winter sowing and I got one plant out of it (although oregano, basil and some of the flowers turned out really well and I will definitely try some more again this year). I am hoping this sage plant will soldier on through the cold months like my old one did. My neighbor is getting new windows, so I am going to try to fashion a cold frame out of his old ones with some bales of hay. That will be next weekend's project!

This weekend, I am making crab apple butter. This is the first time I've tried it, and I've gotta say I love it! . There's nothing like free food, and my neighbor has a crab apple tree. She gave me a couple bags full and I threw them in the crock pot on low with a little water last night before I went to bed. They are small, so I just removed the stem ends. When I woke up this morning, they were ready to be pureed. I continue to adore my KitchenAid fruit and vegetable strainer attachment which made making the crab apple puree a snap. It's a much better purchase than a food mill, which takes forever to do and is a pain to store. Somehow, I ended up with two food mills in my house (one I bought new when I first started canning, the other I got at a garage sale) and if you ask me, it's 2 too many! If you've already got a Kitchen Aid stand mixer, just buy the fruit and vegetable strainer attachment. You'll love it!

This morning, I pureed my crab apples and added the remaining ingredients and put everything back in the crock pot on high for a few hours with the lid off to see how that would work for reducing the sauce to butter. Not sure how this will work, but I'll let you know in a later post. But if it doesn't, I can always cook it down on the stove top. Here's the recipe I used for the crab apple butter - my husband said last night that the crab apples get sweeter after the frost, so maybe I will pick some more today and make more. Right now, the puree is a beautiful color pink and smells great. There's nothing like canning something for darn near next to free! My cost will only be the sugar, spices and lids. This probably will work out to 25 cents a jar!

Crab Apple Butter
4 lbs crab apples, stems removed and halved. If they are small, they can be left whole
1 cup water
2 cup sugar
1 t. dried grated orange feel
1 1/2 t. ground cinnamon
1/2 t. ground cloves
1/2 t. ground ginger

Put apples and water in a large crock put and cover, cook until apples are soft, about 8 hours on LOW. Strain apples using a food mill or fruit strainer until a uniform texture is reached. You should have 6 cups puree. Return to crock pot (or saucepan for stove top cooking) and add spices and stir frequently. Cook down until the fruit butter can hold it's shape on a spoon, to check it put a small amount on a chilled plate. When the liquid doesn't separate and create a rim around the edge, and it holds a buttery, spreadable shape when you pass your finger through it, it's ready to can. Ladle into jars leaving a 1/4 inch head space, and adjust caps. Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Yields about 6 half pints...