Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul alike. -John Muir

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Molasses Cookies

It seems like I always intend to bake something and then I buy all of the ingredients and somehow I get distracted and nothing gets made.  Maybe this is how I ended up with three jars of molasses in my fridge.  In any event, I took it as an excuse to make a personal favorite, molasses cookies.  These cookies are sweet and spicy and very moist.  Although they are mainly enjoyed around the holiday season, they are simply delicious year round.

Molasses Cookies (adapted from King Arthur)

In a medium sized bowl wisk together:
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
.5 tsp baking soda
.25 tsp cloves
.25 tsp nutmeg

Even this little flour mixture smells heavenly.  

Preheat the over to 375.  In a large bowl cream together:
5 tbsp room temperature butter 
.5 cup sugar. 
Add 1/2 cup molasses and mix on low speed.  
Don't forget to spray your measuring cup with Pam before you pour in the molasses so that it will all come out of the measuring up and end up in your cookies and not down the sink.

At this point you can alternate adding by parts the flour mixture and 1/3 cup of rum.  
Note: I substituted the rum with vanilla extract that I make out of dark rum ( I promise I will post that to the blog soon).  The result is a lovely smelling pale brown batter.

 Pour about 1/3 cup of sugar into a small dish.  Scoop ping-pong sized balls of dough and roll them in the sugar so they are well coated.  This will make a nice crisp sugary top.  Bake the cookies for about 10 minutes.  Store in an air tight container and they should stay moist because of the addition of rum.

Hope you enjoy these as much as I do.  I know I will be needing to make another batch soon as I have already eaten more than my fair share.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Black Bean and Butternut Squash Soup

I thought I would give Eric a chance to post next, but I ended up deciding to make soup for lunches this week.  And it turned out so well I couldn't help but post the recipe.

Also let me say that I made enough soup to feel a small village.  

Before starting this recipe I said a quick prayer to the god of sharp objects so that I may keep all 10 digits on my hands.  Butternut squash is notoriously hard to chop up.  I usually use the sharpest knife I own to peel off the outside and then the biggest knife I own to get enough leverage to cube the flesh.

Black Bean Butternut Squash Soup 

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.  Cube one large butternut squash and one large russet potato.  Toss these in 2 tbsp olive oil, one tsp of salt and a few grinds of black pepper.  Roast for 30 minutes or until tender.

After 30 minutes take the butternut squash out of the oven and let it sit.  In a large pot saute one large yellow onion and one tbsp garlic until translucent.  At this point you can add one can diced tomatoes, half the butternut squash, one bouillon cube, 2 cans (drained) black beans.  Cover this with water and simmer.

At this point I used my immersion blender to combine the soup base.  But you can also make it nice and creamy and lovely by ladling it into a regular blender.

After the based is the consistency you like, add one more can of black beans and the rest of the butternut squash.  Salt, pepper and spices to taste.

It looks like autumn in a bowl :)  And so tasty too...

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Pumpkin Biscotti

I suppose that I should preface this entry with a story about this blog came to be:

Eric and I met in highschool about 8 or 9 years ago.  Eric graduated the year before me and moved to Montana for college and the next year I moved to Ohio.   We kept in touch loosely over the past few years.  But last year we decided to get together.  We spent a few days camping and hiking in beautiful western New York, and we discovered that we both have a passion for food.  Not just any food though, the kind that comes with patience and hard work.  The kind that takes a bit more time, but is well worth it in the end.  What has recently become referred to as 'slow food'.
The past year, we have been sending recipes back and forth across states.  And although Eric is in New York and I am now in Texas, we have decided to begin this blog as a project to share our passion for everything homemade with each other and also to post it to share with you.

I understand that it would be appropriate to have the first entry of this blog be a bread recipe, but it is autumn, the best time of the year, and I am feeling homesick for autumn in New York.  So in the spirit of seasonal food, I decided to make some pumpkin biscotti.  Maybe I can convince Eric to write his first entry about bread.

Enough said, now onto the lovely flavors of the fall!

Pumpkin Biscotti (adapted from the way the cookie crumbles)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Lightly grease a baking sheet.

In a large bowl sift together:
5 cups  all-purpose flour
2 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon pumpkin spice
1 pinch cloves
1 pinch allspice
½ teaspoon salt

In another bowl combine the wet ingredients:
4 eggs
1½  sticks butter, melted

1 16 oz can pumpkin (not pie filling)
2 teaspoon vanilla extract

I should note at this point that making vanilla extract its surprisingly simple and quite impressive.  It's  a nice weekend project so maybe I will save it for another entry.

Pour the pumpkin mixture into the flour and stir to combine.  At this point I divided the batch into 2 parts, the 1st part I rolled out onto a baking sheet and cooked as is.  The second part, I added white chocolate chips and craisins.  Don't ask me how much because I failed to measure and just went on aesthetics alone.   Fold the lovely goodies into the mix.

Form the dough into a rectangle ( I made 2) about 1 inch high and roughly 6 inches wide.  Bake for about 30 minutes until firm.  Take out of the oven and let sit for 15 minutes.  Reduce temperature to 325.

Use a serrated knife to cut in the loaf into about one half inch slices.  Lay these slices out onto the baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes.

Try not to eat them right out of the oven... but I just had to sneak one or two before they were completely cooled.  Enjoy!