I am snobby about quite a few things, any of my friends will tell you that. And I am going to add one more to the list: pumpkin puree. I think it was about 4 years ago (yes, I was the 14 year-old that stayed home to puree a pumpkin) I pureed a pumpkin for a pie and there was no turning back. Yeah, it’s work, but worth it. For the past few falls I have been pureeing about a dozen pumpkins, and then freezing the puree in 1 cup zip lock bags.
I feel like a mom writing this post, but seriously, making your own puree at home is worth it. Take it from a single 18 year old.
Cut a sugar pumpkin in half, remove the stem, and scoop out all of the seeds and “guts”. Cut each half of the pumpkin into quarters. Using a sharp veggie peeler, peel each piece of pumpkin (or you can steam the pumpkin with the skin on, and take it off after it’s steamed). In a large pot add about 2 inches of water, toss in your peeled pumpkin and turn on your stove to low to medium low. Cover and cook until the pumpkin is fork tender.
Process your steamed pumpkin in a food processor until completely smooth.
It will keep in the fridge for a little over a week, or you can freeze it.
To perk up your Monday: pain au chocolat
Not nearly as difficult as you would think.
Adapted from this recipe.
Surprisingly different from this a classic croissant recipe.
- 4 teaspoons yeast
- 1/2 cup lukewarm water
- 3 1/2 cups bread flour
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 3 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 9 ounces dark chocolate
- 1 egg
- 2 tablespoons milk
Dissolve the yeast in the warm water for 5 minutes. Add the bread flour, milk, sugar, melted butter, and salt to the dissolved yeast and water and mix the dough on medium speed for about 2 minutes. If the dough is too sticky, add 1 tablespoon of extra flour at a time, until the dough is just firm enough to fold a shape.
Shape dough into a ball and loosely cover it with plastic wrap. Allow it to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes. Roll the dough into a 10-inch by 15-inch rectangle, and then cover it loosely and allow it to rise for 40 minutes.
Brush the rectangle with the softened butter and then fold the dough into thirds, like a letter. Roll the long, thin rectangle back into the original 10-inch by 15 shape. Fold the dough into thirds, again, and then cover the dough with plastic wrap and allow it to rest in the refrigerator for 1 hour. Repeat this process one more time, chilling for 30 minutes.
Roll out the dough into 12×21 inch rectangle. Using a sharp knife, cut the dough crosswise into 8 rectangles. Arrange 2 teaspoons of chopped chocolate across one of the short ends of the rectangle and fold that third of the dough over the chocolate, toward the center. Repeat the process on the opposite side of the dough, folding it over and tucking the end under to create a cylindrical shape. Flip the shape, so that the the two stuffed ends are on the bottom, and the top is smooth fold of dough.
Arrange each finished pain au chocolate on a lightly greased baking sheet with at least 1 1/2 inches between each pastry. Cover them loosely with plastic wrap and allow them to rise for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until they are nearly doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 400F. Whisk the egg and 2 tablespoons milk together to make an egg wash. Brush the egg wash across the surface of each pastry. Bake the pan au chocolate for 12 to 14 minutes, until they are puffed and golden brown.
Our trip to Omaha Beach is a part of the trip that will forever live in my memory. We took the train from Paris to a little town called Baux (top 4 photos) where we purchased a picknick lunch, then took a taxi from Beaux to Omaha. Once we arrived at Omaha, we walked around the American cemetery (the 4 photos after Beaux), the sight was sobering for lack of a better word. After the cemetery we walked to the beach (the rest of the photos), where we ate our packed lunches, collected remembering stones to bring back to the states, and journaled out our aching hearts.
I am on this kick of going into the bulk section of the grocery store and buying alternative grains. I guess I am feeling left out since I don’t have a gluten allergy. It seems like I am the only one on the planet that still eats gluten, and that can start to go to your head, you know? But I feel justified when I can still go to a bakery a order a pain au chocolat.
I picked up some bulgur the other day, as well as some red lentils. Mostly I bought the lentils because they are pink, and you can’t buy very many things that are naturally pink. And the bulgur? Well the name, you really should try things like a name like bulgur.
From Herbed Bulgur-Lentil Pilaf
- 1/2 cup red lentils
- 1 cup bulgur
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 1 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 sweet onion, chopped
- 1 small zucchini, chopped
- 2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
- 2 tablespoons fresh chives, chopped
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 2 tablespoons butter
Place lentils and 2 cups broth in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Boil 5 minutes, then reduce to a simmer and cook until lentils are tender and most liquid is dissolved, about 30 minutes. Drain any remaining liquid. While lentils are cooking, place bulgur and remaining 2 cups chicken broth in another small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until most liquid is dissolved and bulgur is tender, about 13 to15 minutes. Remove from heat and fluff with a fork. Add the bulgur to the lentils.
Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add onions and cook until they start to sweat. Add zucchini and cook until tender, about 8 minutes. Add the onion mixture to bulgur-lentil mixture. Stir in basil, chives, lemon zest, butter, salt and pepper to taste and toss to incorporate.
Look at that. Do you see that beauty of a book cover? Isn’t it positively beautiful?
It’s been a year now that I have been working on this cookbook, what started out as a “maybe in the future” idea turned into a hear and now idea, and it’s something that’s nearly finished. I can’t give you a release date, yet, but soon, very soon you will know when you can order your own copy of Three O’Clock Coffee. Ah, doesn’t that sounds nice? Your very own copy of my book. I will tell you that things are coming along nicely, and I am exceedingly happy about how things are looking, I CANNOT WAIT to show you more of the book!
Cheers for now, my dears.
A few days of recovery time after my baguette fail, I was ready to try a crusty loaf again. My Uncle posted this recipe for a Dutch Oven style bread on my Facebook wall.
I was just reading about this method of bread making in my new obsession, Ruhlaman’s Twenty. The theory is sound, bake the loaf in a clay pot, the steam trapped inside creates the crispy crust, finish the baking time with the pot uncovered; and you have a crispy artisan loaf on your hands.
I was a little skeptical of the recipe. It looked way too simple, bread can’t just sit over night be baked and turnout like that?! I stand corrected.
My bread turned out a bit salty, that was probably my fault, I never measure salt (one of those, put it in the palm of your hand things), and I must not have been paying close attention; just be warned.
But as you can see, it turned out quite beautifully. I want to try a whole wheat, and a kalamata olive loaf. Also, the recipe originally used a cast iron pot, I used clay with great success.
Dutch Oven Bread:
Makes 2 loaves
3 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 3/4 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon yeast
1 1/2 cups water
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, salt and yeast. Add water and mix until a shaggy mixture forms. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and set aside for 12 – 18 hours. Overnight works great. Heat oven to 450 degrees. When the oven has reached 450 degrees place a clay pot with a lid in the oven and heat the pot for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, pour dough onto a heavily floured surface and shape into a ball. Cover with plastic wrap and let set while the pot is heating. Remove hot pot from the oven and drop in the dough. Cover and return to oven for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes remove the lid and bake an additional 15 minutes. Remove bread from oven and place on a cooling rack to cool.