The Sensitive Kitchen

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Curried Pumpkin Bisque

"Meat masala" is nothing more than a blend of spices traditionally used in India for meat curries. Its intensity also blends well with some vegetable and bean dishes; I find it particularly well suited to the flavor of pumpkin.

1 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 1/2 c chopped yellow onion
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 c celery, chopped
2 tsp meat masala
1 15-oz can solid-pack pumpkin
3 c broth of your choice
1/3 c evaporated skimmed milk or fat-free half-and-half
2 Tbsp sour cream or mascarpone cheese, optional
1 1/2 Tbsp Sucanat or dark brown sugar
3/4 tsp RealSalt or other good salt

Saute onion, garlic and celery in butter in a saucepan over medium heat. When vegetables have softened, stir in meat masala. When spices are fragrant, stir in pumpkin and broth. Simmer several minutes, then add milk and sour cream. Taste and correct seasonings with salt and sugar. Puree until velvety-smooth in batches in a blender. Serves 6.


Saturday, October 23, 2010

Pumpkin-Crystallized Ginger Drop Scones

I intended to make pumpkin muffins this morning, but decided scones sounded better. Of course these had to have chocolate chips in them too since I'm making them for kids (as well as chocoholics). I used mini chips and chopped my ginger into bits roughly the same size. The subtle heat of the ginger bits complemented the smooth creaminess of the chocolate beautifully - so much so, in fact, that we ended up in the Land of No Leftover Scones. Recipe adapted from the King Arthur Flour blog.

2 3/4 c white whole wheat flour
1/3 c Sucanat
1 Tbsp aluminum-free baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/2 stick cold butter, cut into smallish cubes
1/2 c finely chopped crystallized ginger
1/2 c miniature chocolate chips
1 15-oz can pumpkin
2 eggs
coarse sugar or cinnamon-sugar blend

Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl. Work in butter with a pastry cutter (or in a food processor) just until mixture is unevenly crumbly (some larger chunks of butter may remain unincorporated). Stir in ginger and chocolate.

In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs and pumpkin. Pour atop dry ingredients; stir to combine.

Scoop in 1/4-cup dollops onto a Silpat-lined baking sheet, leaving plenty of room between scoops to allow for rise. Sprinkle tops with coarse sugar. If time allows, place baking sheet in the freezer for 20 to 30 minutes to firm butter and create a higher rise. Bake at 425 for 18-20 minutes or until puffed and golden.

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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Baked Brie With Peach-Ginger Relish

1 c peaches, diced
3 to 4 Tbsp Sucanat or dark brown sugar
1/4 c diced seeded Anaheim chiles
2 Tbsp diced red onion
2 Tbsp white balsamic vinegar
2 tsp grated fresh ginger
1/8 tsp salt
1 8-ounce Brie round
Pita Bite or other sturdy crackers

Combine first 7 ingredients (peaches through salt) in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat; cook 5 minutes or until vegetables are soft. Set aside.

Place Brie round on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 350° for 8 to 10 minutes or until cheese is soft. Transfer to a serving plate; pour peach relish atop cheese. Serve with crackers.


Thursday, October 14, 2010

Pumpkin Muffins

I heard the weather is supposed to drop out of the high 90s this weekend (finally). Perhaps it's pumpkin time...

1 1/2 c white whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp baking powder
6 Tbsp butter, at room temperature
1 c dark brown sugar
2 eggs
1 c pumpkin puree
1/3 c water or milk
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips (optional)

Combine dry ingredients; whisk thoroughly. Beat butter until creamy, about 30 seconds. Beat in sugar gradually until lightened in color and texture, 3 to 4 minutes. Beat eggs in 1 at a time. Add pumpkin; beat on low speed just until blended. Add flour mixture in 3 parts, alternating with milk/vanilla mixture in 2 parts, scraping sides of bowl as necessary. Stir in chocolate chips if using. Bake in muffin pans at 350 for 25 minutes or until muffins test done.

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Thursday, October 07, 2010

Peppered Crusts for a Savory Quiche

This recipe makes 2 pat-in-pan quiche crusts. Other flavorings can also be added according to your filling recipe; for example, I like cumin and oregano in the crust for a Mexican-style filling.

2 c white whole wheat flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp white pepper
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
6 Tbsp chilled butter, cut into small pieces
9 Tbsp ice water

lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Place dry ingredients in the work bowl of a food processor; pulse to combine. Add chilled butter; pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal. Sprinkle surface with ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, pulsing between sprinkles. Continue until mixture is moist and crumbly (do not form a ball). Turn mixture out, dividing between two 10" tart pans with removable bottoms. Press mixture evenly across bottoms and up sides of tart pans. Place tart pans in freezer; chill 15 minutes.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Buttermilk Marble Cake with Two-Toned Frosting

Adrashanti requested a marble cake for her 7th birthday. This recipe, adapted from Christopher Kimball's cookbook "Dessert Bible," did not disappoint. My efforts were rewarded with a tangy-sweet flavor, a tender crumb and a relatively level rise. The frosting, my go-to recipe, should be kept cold for best flavor and texture.

2 c unbleached flour
1/2 c cornstarch
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened but still firm
1 1/2 c granulated sugar
5 large eggs, at room temperature
1 c buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla paste
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 oz bittersweet chocolate (I used 65%)
1 Tbsp cocoa powder
1/8 tsp baking soda

Set oven rack in middle position; preheat to 350. Butter two 9" cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment.

Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; set aside.

Beat butter at medium speed in a stand mixer for 30 seconds. Continue beating, gradually adding sugar, until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Scrape down sides of bowl frequently. Beat in vanilla extract and paste.

Add half of flour mixture, beating to incorporate, then add half of buttermilk. When incorporated, repeat with remaining flour mixture and buttermilk. Scrape down sides of bowl and beat to fully blend.

Remove 1/3 of batter to a bowl. Stir in melted chocolate. Sift cocoa powder and baking soda together atop batter; stir in.

Divide white batter equally between prepared pans. Spread to cover bottoms. Dollop chocolate batter equally onto white batter in three large dollops per pan. With a cheese spreader or butter knife, swirl to marble, first in one direction and then at a 90-degree angle, marbling as minimally as possible to create the desired effect.

Place pans in oven; bake 25 minutes, or until top of cake springs back when lightly pressed in center. Remove to cooling rack; let rest 5 minutes. Run a butter knife around sides of pans; invert to remove, then set right sides up on a cooling rack. Let cool at least 1 1/2 hours.

2 c whipping cream
2 c good-quality white chocolate chips (containing cocoa butter and no hydrogenated oils)
3/4 c bittersweet chocolate chips
12 ozs mascarpone cheese

Place white chocolate chips and bittersweet chocolate chips in 2 separate heatproof bowls. Pour 1 1/2 cups cream atop white chocolate and 1/2 cup cream atop bittersweet chocolate. Place each atop a bowl of simmering water, whisking until chocolate is melted. Place bowls of ganache in freezer to chill.

When chilled, beat white chocolate ganache with chilled beaters until light and fluffy. Beat in 8 ozs mascarpone cheese. Take care not to overbeat. Repeat process with bittersweet chocolate ganache, beating until fluffy, then beat in remaining mascarpone.

Brush crumbs off cake layers. Trim dome off one layer if necessary. Place cake, cut or top side down, onto a cake pedestal. Top with bittersweet chocolate ganache, spreading to within 1/2" of edges. Place other cake layer atop ganache, top side up. Frost top and sides of cake with white chocolate ganache.

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Friday, October 01, 2010

Myrna's 67th Birthday Cake

My mother requested "Grandma Forbes' sponge cake" for her birthday today. The cake recipe was her grandmother's; apparently Grandma Forbes baked it every year and mailed it to her daughter, my mother's Aunt Pearl (quite an ordeal in those days). Grandma Forbes died in 1958, and Mother has fond memories of eating this cake in her childhood. She made hers in a 9x13 sheet pan, but I gussied this one up with layers of limoncello pastry cream filling and a whipped cream frosting. The gelatin in the cream stabilizes the frosting and filling so that you can enjoy the cake the following day.

2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup boiling water
1 tsp vanilla extract
7 egg whites

Stir together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

Whip egg whites to stiff but not dry peaks. Whisk boiling water and vanilla extract into dry ingredients. Fold into egg whites. Divide between three 8" round pans with parchment-lined bottoms. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until cake springs back when pressed in center. Cool on racks.

Filling and Frosting:
4 egg yolks
2 Tbsp flour
2 Tbsp cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/3 cups milk
3 Tbsp limoncello liqueur
2 tsp lemon extract
1 Tbsp cold water
1/2 tsp unflavored gelatin
2 c heavy whipping cream
3 Tbsp confectioners' sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Beat egg yolks, sugar, flour and cornstarch on high speed until thick and pale yellow, about 2 minutes. Set aside.

Heat milk to a simmer, then whisk milk slowly into egg mixture until about one-third is incorporated. Scrape egg mixture back into pan with milk. Cook over medium-low heat, whisking constantly and scraping the bottom and corners of the pan until thickened and beginning to bubble. Cook a minute longer, then scrape into a clean bowl with a clean spatula. Press a piece of parchment paper onto the surface of the custard to prevent a skin from forming. Cool completely.

Put cold water in a heatproof cup. Sprinkle gelatin atop, then let stand 5 minutes without stirring. Place the cup in a saucepan of simmering water until gelatin melts clear. Let cool to room temperature.

Whip cream to soft peaks, drizzling gelatin mixture in as cream begins to thicken, then adding sugar and vanilla. Stir about 3/4 cup of whipped cream into limoncello custard until incorporated, reserving remainder of whipped cream for frosting.

To assemble, spoon limoncello custard evenly between layers of cake, spreading to within 1/2" of edge. Top liberally with whipped cream, swirling with an offset spatula. Makes approximately 12 servings.