Archive | September, 2014

Pull-Apart Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Bread

28 Sep
I have wanted to make this bread for an entire year.  No really, see this post from one year ago.  I told you I’d get to it!  One, year, later.  But it was SO worth the wait and effort.  While it wasn’t a difficult bread to make, there were definitely more steps involved than your average baked treat.  However, the “pull-apart” nature of the bread means it doesn’t have to look perfect.  I had a hard time rolling out my dough into a rectangular shape but I stopped stressing about it, figuring that once it baked everything would mesh together nicely… and it did!  Instead of a buttery rum glaze, I used vanilla paste.  I’m sure rum would be delicious, but I didn’t want the flavor to freak out my kids.  Everyone in the house love it – MAJOR hit!  And after the bread and these cookies, I still have more pumpkin puree left in the can, hmm… ideas??  Have super DUPER weekends!
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Asparagus Pesto with Pasta

20 Sep

Asparagus Pesto with Pasta (photo)

A while ago I got together with Heidi Swanson of 101 Cookbooks to try out one of the recipes from her cookbook, Super Natural Cooking. The recipe we selected is perfect for spring, a pesto made with blanched asparagus, baby spinach, pine nuts, Parmesan, garlic and olive oil, tossed with a mix of egg and green spinach noodles. Heidi calls this recipe “Straw and Hay Fettuccini Tangle, with Spring Asparagus Purée” in her book, a nod to the mixing up of different colors of noodles. The asparagus pesto would work with any pasta or even as a sauce for pizza or potatoes.

Asparagus Pesto with Pasta Recipe

  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Cook time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4 to 6.

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch asparagus spears (about 1 lb), trimmed of tough ends and halved crosswise
  • 3 handfuls baby spinach leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for topping
  • 1 cup pine nuts
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for topping
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
  • 8 ounces of dried pasta or 12 ounces fresh -linguini, fettuccini, spaghetti Mix spinach pasta with regular wheat pasta for a medley of colors.

Method

1 Bring 2 pots of water to a rolling boil, one large for the pasta and one medium sized for the asparagus.

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2 While the water is heating, put the pine nuts in a single layer in a large skillet. Heat on medium heat, stirring occasionally, until fragrant and lightly browned. Remove pine nuts from pan and set aside. You will use 3/4 cup of the pine nuts for the pesto paste and 1/4 cup to mix in whole.

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3 Salt the asparagus water and drop the spears into the pan. Cook for only 2 or 3 minutes, until the spears are bright green and barely tender. Drain under cool water to stop the cooking. Cut the tips off, and set aside, several of the asparagus (diagonal cut about an inch from the end) to use for garnish.

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4 Add the asparagus, spinach, garlic, Parmesan, and 3/4 cup of the pine nuts to a food processor. Purée and, with the motor running, drizzle in the 1/4 cup of olive oil until a paste forms. If too thick, thin it with a bit of the pasta water. Add the lemon juice and salt, taste and adjust seasoning.

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Here’s a trick that Heidi taught me. When emptying the food processor bowl of its contents, hold the bottom of the bowl with one hand with a finger in the center hole, holding the blade in place and keeping it from falling out.

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This fresh pasta cooked up in no time at all.

5 Salt the pasta water well and cook the pasta until just tender. Check the directions on the pasta package. You’ll need more time for dried pasta and less for fresh. Drain and toss immediately with 1 cup of the asparagus pesto.

Serve sprinkled with the remaining 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts, a dusting of Parmesan, and a light drizzle of olive oil.

Sweet Potato Soup with African Spices, Sweet Potato Leaves & Chickpeas (Vegan)

1 Sep
 
Inspired by the rare find of sweet potato leaves at our local farmer’s market, this warmly spiced, slightly nutty vegan soup combines African spices with potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, zucchini, sweet potato leaves, red peppers and chickpeas. Both hearty and light, a little peanut butter highlights the nuttiness of the chickpeas and greens and adds a touch of creaminess to a warm tomato broth spiced with harissa, sumac, cumin, and chili. 
 
Sweet potato leaves look like this:

 

 
 
 
They have a faintly nutty taste and are best used in soups or stews.  They aren’t easy to find, however, so feel free to substitute spinach or your favorite greens in this soup recipe.  (If you use spinach, you’ll want to adjust the cooking time and add it right at the end of the cooking.)
 
Sweet Potato Soup with African Spices, Sweet Potatoes Leaves & Chickpeas:
 
1 TBS olive oil
1/2 large onion, diced small
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp harissa 
1 tsp sumac
1 TBS ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander

 

1 large potato, peeled and diced
1 carrot, diced
1 sweet potato, diced
1/4 red pepper, diced
1 zucchini, diced
32 fl oz vegetable broth
2 TBS peanut butter
1 TBS tomato paste
7 oz tomatoes, petite diced
1 cup sweet potato leaves, chopped (or spinach or other greens)
7 oz chickpeas, drained and rinsed
10 olives, chopped
1 tsp chili-garlic paste
1 tsp lemon juice
salt and pepper
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
 
In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat and add the diced onions.  Cook for 3 minutes, stir well and add the minced garlic.  Cook for 1 minute and add the harissa, sumac, cumin, and coriander. Stir well and cook for 30 seconds. Add the diced carrot and potato, stir, and cover.  Cook for 3 minutes.  Add the sweet potato and red pepper. Cover and cook 2 minutes. Add the zucchini, cover, and cook 2 more minutes.  Uncover and add the vegetable broth. Raise the heat to high and bring to a boil. Turn down to a simmer and add the peanut butter. Stir until the peanut butter is dissolved. Add the tomato paste, diced tomatoes, chickpeas, olives, and sweet potato leaves (or other greens – if using spinach, don’t add it until the last 2 minutes of cooking) and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the chili paste, lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for 5 minutes.  Taste and adjust seasoning.Turn off the heat and finish with the chopped cilantro.