Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Small Batch Pickled Jalapenos

There's an abundance of gorgeous purple jalapenos up at the farm this time of year, so I figured I would pickle some. Pickling is generally my solution to any overabundance of vegetables :)
This recipe is a modified one from Yumsugar.


10 whole jalapeƱos, stabbed 2-3 times with sharp paring knife
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup water
1/2 teaspoon whole peppercorn
1/2 teaspoon whole caraway seeds
1 bay leaf
1 clove of garlic, pounded once
1 tablespoon canning salt
1 teaspoon agave nectar

Boil everything except for the jalapenos on the stove for a couple minutes. Meanwhile, pack a pint mason jar with the jalapenos that have been stabbed (so the pickling liquid can seep in). Pour the hot liquid and spices into the jar and screw on the lid. Done! So easy.

Keep in mind these are refrigerator pickles, so keep them in the fridge (obviously). They stay good for a couple of months in the fridge. Give them a shake once in awhile. They will be ready to eat within a week.

The Great Pumpkin Breakfast

It's Halloween weekend, so after going to Amazing Yoga with Nick, I decided to make us a seasonal breakfast. After all, I had to find something to do with all that pumpkin puree that I made earlier.

I was inspired to make pumpkin pancakes by the Pittsburgh Post Gazette's article on all things pumpkin, but I definitely changed it up a little. My version follows.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Two Fall Soups: Black Bean Pumpkin & Butternut Squash

Roasted butternut squash pieces for soup #2

I found the first of these fall soup recipes while looking at other MUCH more established Pittsburgh food blogs as we started to set up this one. I saw that Burghilicious had posted a black bean pumpkin soup and decided to make it asap - I love pumpkin and I love black beans, especially black bean soup. 

Back in 2007 I spent a month in Costa Rica living with a host family, and my host mom made me something with black beans every single day, usually for more than one meal. Her black bean soup was the very thin brothy kind, with just a few beans, and often with a hard boiled egg, which was good because she normally served with something like three ham sandwiches, a pound of rice and an avocado. 

This soup by Burghilicious is totally different and features pumpkin puree, which you can use a can for or roast a pumpkin like in the last post. It's pretty thick and can hold up to a lot of good toppings, like tortilla chips, cilantro, sour cream or yogurt, chicken, cheese, etc.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Roasted Pumpkin Soup

Today is the Halloween parade in Bloomfield! So in honor of halloween, I'm going to be making pumpkin soup for all the girls who are coming over to see the parade. We're also going to be having greens and beets seasoned with caraway seeds and sesame oil, fresh radishes, and to finish- lavender pound cake : )

Roasted Pumpkin Soup

1 large white onion, diced
4 carrots unpeeled, diced
3 cloves of garlic, diced
1 inch section of ginger peeled and diced
3 medium sized red potatoes unpeeled, diced
3 cups of pureed pumpkin (see directions below)
2-3 cups homemade vegetable stock depending on how thick you like soup
1 tablespoon of pumpkin pie spice
2 teaspoons of dried herbes de provence
1 tablespoon of fresh sage, chopped
2 teaspoons of dried rosemary

Saute the onions and the carrots over medium heat until translucent and almost golden brown. Then toss in the chopped garlic and ginger and let cook for about 1 minute. Add the vegetable stock, herbs, pumpkin, and the potatoes and bring to a boil. Bring down to a simmer and cook the potatoes until fork tender, about 20 minutes. Let it cool a little and then put it in a blender to get a smooth, creamy soup. Reheat on the stove. Serve with a sage leaf garnish and a drizzle of rosemary infused olive oil.
This version is vegan, but if you want a creamier version just add 1/2 cup of heavy cream after blending.

To roast the pumpkin:

Note: I used a pie pumpkin because there is more meat and it is sweeter and more flavorful than conventional pumpkins. However, conventional pumpkins are definitely edible and I'm sure would work just fine.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Braised Acorn Squash, Apple & Chicken

This week my mom wanted to bring dinner over to the grandparents' house, and I wanted to use up some acorn squash and try braising something in beer. 

To get these ideas together I used a Better Homes & Gardens recipe for "Brown Ale-Braised Chicken" and combined it with an Emeril Lagasse recipe for "Braised Apple, Roasted Acorn Squash, and Fresh Thyme." Both of those recipes sound great; what I made doesn't resemble either one. But it was really good, just a little sweet and lots of good texture, and I'm looking forward to making different variations of it for fall and winter dinners.

Pretty much everything in our fridge found its way into this dish, and somehow it worked out. We've got apples, acorn squash (which got a little pre-roasting before going in the mix), red peppers, onion, celery, carrots, garlic, chicken and broth. And pumpkin beer. 

The grandparents liked it.

They weren't told about the beer since according to them "alcohol is not necessary for success," potentially even in braised chicken dishes. They are entitled to their opinion since they are 86 and 87 years old.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Rosemary Orange Scones

When my family goes to the Strip on Saturdays our first stop is usually Cafe Raymond, a little place between the chocolate store and I think a floral shop. Their breakfast has gradually managed to replace Pamela's on our regular Saturday morning at the Strip schedule - while they are both wonderful, I can't go to Pamela's without getting banana chocolate chip hotcakes. At Cafe Raymond I want to try everything on the menu (which is on a cute chalkboard above the counter, more points in its favor). Also, there is hardly ever much of a line, even on a Saturday - I think people stick to the next few blocks of Penn Ave (Penn Mac, Reyna's, Wholey's, Lotus, etc.) and don't realize the cafe is over there just a few steps away from the main drag.

My mom's go-to pastry at Cafe Raymond's is the rosemary walnut scone, which is nothing like the scones I made this morning except they both have rosemary in the ingredient list. I'd recommend going to the cafe to see what I mean. These scones, made from a recipe in Emeril Lagasse's Farm to Fork cookbook, are very light and flaky and flavorful.

Scones before going in the oven
"Stop it and take me to the dog park."
Out of the oven
This one split in half perfectly. I ate it out on the deck with butter and honey. VERY tasty... and not the only one I ate this morning.
Usually I change a recipe a lot when I use cookbooks, but I stuck pretty close to this one. My only changes were using powdered buttermilk because that's what was in the fridge and adding about a tablespoon more orange zest. And I didn't bother with a rolling pin; I just pressed the dough into a larger rectangle with my own floured fingers. Next time I think I would add a little more pepper. My sense of smell is kind of weak so normally I don't notice these things, but baking these scones made the kitchen smell amazing. 

from Farm to Fork: Cooking Local, Cooking Fresh by Emeril Lagasse (2010)
Yields 12 scones

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons well-shaken buttermilk

1. Preheat the oven to 425o F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and set it aside.

2. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and black pepper. Add the orange zest and rosemary, and combine with a fork. Add the butter and work it into the the flour with your fingers, a pastry blender, or a fork until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. (A few large flat pieces of flour-coated butter in the mixture are okay - they'll contribute to the flakiness.)

3. Add the 1 cup buttermilk and stir with a fork until the ingredients are just moistened. Gather the dough together and press it gently into a rough ball. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and pat together (with floured hands, if necessary). The dough may still be a crumbly mass. Knead the dough gently six to seven times; then use your hands to shape it into a rectangle measuring about 7 by 4 inches. With a lightly floured rolling pin, roll the dough into 10 1/2 x 7-inch rectangle, 3/4 inch this. Use a knife to divide the dough into three sections by cutting it at roughly 3 1/4-inch intervals along the length. Cut each rectangle in half. You will have 6 squares. Cut each square into 2 triangles. 

4. Set the triangles on the prepared baking sheet, and brush them with the remaining 2 tablespoons buttermilk. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes, until golden brown and puffed. Serve warm.


The verdict from my mom is not enough rosemary and therefore cannot compare to Cafe Raymond's rosemary walnut scones! I still really like them and plan to serve them at the bed and breakfast I will open in Newfoundland when I turn 60.


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