Sunday, October 31, 2010

Pumpkin Pancakes

Last weekend my house hosted a pumpkin beer festival. We had all of our friends bring pumpkin beer or a pumpkin food item. The turn out was phenomenal. We had pumpkin tortilla soup, baked pumpkins, pumpkin French toast, curried lentils with pumpkin, homemade pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin pie ice cream, pumpkin seeds, pumpkin bread, pumpkin curry, pumpkin pudding and at least nine kinds of pumpkin beer. I utterly failed in capturing the beauty of this event on film, so I made up for it this weekend by making pumpkin pancakes for breakfast. Even the pumpkin adverse loved this recipe. We topped ours with apples, honey and more cinnamon.

Pumpkin Pancakes adapted from Epicurious

Yield: Makes about 12

1 1/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice (or a generous pinch of both cinnamon and nutmeg)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cups whole milk
3/4 cup canned pumpkin
4 large eggs, separated
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Whisk first 5 ingredients in large bowl to blend.

2. Whisk milk, pumpkin, egg yolks, melted butter and vanilla in medium bowl to blend well.

3. Add pumpkin mixture to dry ingredients; whisk just until smooth (batter will be thick).

4. Using electric mixer, beat egg whites in another medium bowl until stiff but not dry. Fold whites into batter.

5. Brush large nonstick skillet with butter; heat over medium heat. Working in batches, pour batter by 1/3 cupfuls into skillet.

6. Cook until bubbles form on surface of pancakes and bottoms are brown, about 1 1/2 minutes per side.

7. Repeat with remaining batter, brushing skillet with oil between batches.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Monday, October 18, 2010

Dorie Greenspan

I went to see Dorie Greenspan speak tonight, with the direct intention of not buying another large cookbook, but I was so smitten with the event there was no way I could leave without it. I am now the proud owner of a signed copy of Around My French Table. Dorie Greenspan reminded of my grandmother and she reminded me of me, and of who I want to be. There was something euphoric about the atmosphere in that room tonight. My favorite food writer/idol Molly Wizenberg, who taught me about French food first, was in the audience. I got to talk with her about the Ballard Farmers market and tell her how fabulous I think she is. Tonight more than ever I know I must get to France. I want to exude the joy I feel from these people when they talk about Paris. I want to have my own stories about learning how to navigate the cheese plate, and making friends with shopkeepers. I want to know for myself that French butter really is the best butter. Like Dorie Greenspan said tonight, "a French life to me was a food life." For now I will settle for cooking my way through this book, but soon enough I will acquire some stories of my own.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Upside-Down Caramel-Apple Muffins

One of the great joys of fall is renewing my student rate New York Times subscription. I have become positively addicted to the paper. Usually, I make sure I get out of bed early enough to read at least the front page with breakfast. However on Wednesdays I really try to get up early because I always read the entire dining section. Being informed about global politics and making to the first few minutes of class, never seem quite as important as discovering what new and amazing things Mark Bittman and Mellisa Clark have shared. These muffins were published last week and they were fabulous. Like an apple pie all rolled up in a bite-size package. They made a great thank-you-for-the-ride-to-work-present, but they also make a lovely breakfast or beautiful dessert.

Upside-Down Caramel-Apple Muffins adapted from The New York Times

For the Topping

3 apples (peeled, quartered and sliced about ¼ inch thick)

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter

Pinch kosher salt

1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted (optional)

For the Muffins

2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup dark brown sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

3/4 cup sour cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract.

1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Generously grease a 12-cup muffin tin.

2. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, stir together the apples, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 4 tablespoons butter and pinch salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the apples are tender, about 15 minutes. Distribute the apple slices among the muffin cups. Add walnuts, if using, on top of the apple slices.

3. To make the muffins, in a large bowl, whisk together flour, 3/4 cup brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon salt.

4. In a separate bowl, whisk together 8 tablespoons butter, eggs, sour cream and vanilla. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and fold together until smooth. Distribute the batter on top of the apples. Bake until the muffins are slightly puffed, about 20 to 22 minutes.

5. Allow the muffins to cool partly in the pan; turn onto a platter and serve warm or at room temperature.

Yield: 12 muffins.

Cafe Besalu

I cannot praise enough the merits of having conversations with strangers because, you never know what you might learn. Last spring, I attended a way to crowded, red cup filled, college party and I walked away from a random-conversation-with-a-stranger full of new advice. Advice about a French bakery in Ballard that I had not heard of yet.
Cafe Besalu is conveniently located in one of my favorite parts of Seattle, and just a fabulous but always more exhausting than I remember bike ride away from my house. By biking there is the perfect excuse to eat all of the charming, flaky, buttery pastries you want. The onion and Gruyère was divine, the quiche was rich, the fruit was phenomenal, the pastry was unbelievably flaky.
I would like to thank my random party going friend for the recommendation and I would like to pass it on to you. The next time you need a place for conversation over coffee or a little extra special touch of love to your morning, get to Cafe Besalu, and let me know what you try.
Cafe Besalu on Urbanspoon

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Comfort Me With Apples

I am going to keep this short. Ruth Reichl is absolutely captivating. Her stories about the emotional roller coaster otherwise known as life, are punctuated with the most romantic and glamorous stories about food imaginable. If you need some comfort, read this one.