Posts Tagged ‘Tinky’

Maple-Oatmeal Bread

Monday, March 30th, 2009

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I have one final entry for Massachusetts Maple Month. This is one of my favorite breads in the world—slightly sweet and filling. I always make a mess when I knead bread. How flour ends up on my face, I really don’t know! Luckily, the end product is worth the clean-up work. 
 

 

Ingredients:

 

1 cup old-fashioned oats (do not use quick or steel cut)

2 cups boiling water

1 tablespoon butter

1 packet (about 2-1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast (not instant)

1/4 cup lukewarm water

1/2 cup maple syrup

2 teaspoons salt

5-1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour (more or less)

 

Instructions:

 

Place the oats in a large mixing bowl. Pour the boiling water over them, add the butter, and let the oatmeal stand for about 15 minutes, until it is lukewarm. After the first 10 minutes, place the yeast in a small bowl. Cover it with the lukewarm water. Allow it to bubble up for a few minutes.

 

When the oatmeal is lukewarm, stir in the maple syrup, the salt, the yeast with its water, and 2 cups of the flour. Stir vigorously; then add 2 cups more flour. Stir again vigorously for a minute or two; get as close to beating as you can with a mixture this heavy. Scoop up the dough (add a bit of flour if it won’t hold together to scoop), and place it on a kneading surface—a floured board or a silicone mat.

 

Knead the dough for 2 minutes, adding a little more flour to keep it from sticking to the surface and your hands. After those first 2 minutes, let the dough rest for up to 10 minutes; then resume kneading, adding more flour as needed. Knead for 5 to 10 minutes, until the dough feels smooth.

 

Place the dough in a large, greased bowl. Cover the bowl with a warm, damp dish towel. Let the dough rise until it doubles in bulk; this should take about 2 hours, depending on how warm the room is. If your towel dries out during the rising, be sure to dampen it again.

 

Remove the covering from the bowl, and punch down on the dough once with your fist. This lets out a lot of the air. (It’s also fun.) Cut the dough in half, and shape each half into a ball. Butter 2 bread pans, and shape each ball into an oval about the same size as your pans. Smooth the balls as well as you can with your hands.

 

Place the bread loaves in the buttered pans, and turn them over so that both the tops and the bottoms have touched the butter. Cover the pans with a damp towel as you did the rising bowl, and allow the loaves to rise again until they double in bulk. This should take a little less time than the first rising, perhaps an hour or so.

 

After 45 minutes, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. When the loaves have finished rising, uncover them, and bake them for about 40 to 45 minutes, until they are a warm brown color and sound hollow when you tap on them. Remove the hot loaves from the pans, and let them cool on racks.

 

Makes 2 loaves.

 

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Soup Days: Chipotle Corn Chowder

Tuesday, January 27th, 2009

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BABY, IT’S COLD OUTSIDE!
 
Frank Loesser’s playful lyric is appropriate to this time of year.  It is indeed chilly—and snowy—and icy—outside. The cold gives us an excuse to linger indoors and enjoy ourselves, however. 

And of course we can cook………

January is National Soup Month for a reason. We have entered the season of simmering pots and warming lunches. I have lots of favorite soups for cold weather. I can eat split pea soup for days on end (a good thing since it’s hard to make only a small pot of it). I save my chicken bones religiously for stock. I turn the dregs of pot roast into vegetable-beef soup. And I’m a sucker for the potential in a can of tomatoes.
 
We can light fires, which always cheer. We can read the occasional novel. We can think about going for long walks in the snow. We can catch up on housework. (We CAN—but I’m not sure I will.)
 

Here is a soup I’ve just started making, and I love it. It was inspired by the Happy Valley Locavore, a blog maintained by Meggin Thwing Eastman of Greenfield, Massachusetts. Meggin writes about her quest to cook with and eat as much locally produced food as she can.

 

The soup on which this one was based (which of course used fresh corn!) solved a long-time dilemma for me. I love to make corn chowder, but I have lots of friends who avoid pork and thus can’t eat the bacon that gives my favorite corn chowder its smoky taste. Meggin’s answer is to use canned chipotles (smoked jalapeño peppers). These give the soup not only smoke but a touch of heat as well.

 

Stay warm and eat hearty!

 

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Chipotle Corn Chowder

 

Ingredients:

 

peanut oil as needed for sautéing

1 onion,  finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 pound new potatoes, cut in small cubes (leave the skins on!)

1 quart vegetable or  chicken stock, plus more stock if needed

2 pounds frozen corn (or the corn from 8 to 10 ears), preferably slightly thawed

2 chipotles in adobo sauce, seeded and finely minced

1 teaspoon salt

freshly ground pepper to taste

cream and milk to taste

chopped cilantro for garnish (optional)

 

Instructions:

 

In a large Dutch oven, heat the oil. Add the onion and garlic, and sauté them until they begin to brown. Stir in the potatoes, and cook for a couple of minutes, adding more oil if needed to keep them from sticking to the pot. Pour in 1 quart of stock, and bring the mixture to a boil.

 

Add the corn and chipotles to the pot, return the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer the mixture covered until the corn and tomatoes are soft and the soup tastes good. This takes about half an hour on my stove. Add a bit more stock if the soup looks as though it is drying out.

Let the soup cool for a few minutes; then carefully blend it using a blender, immersion blender, or food processor. Return the soup to the pot, and add a little cream. Stir in milk until the chowder looks and tastes right to you. Heat the milky mixture just to the boiling point, and serve. Garnish with chopped cilantro if desired. Serves 8 to 10.

Lorelei Lee likes to nap on soup days (and on non-soup days, too!).

Lorelei Lee likes to nap on soup days (and on non-soup days, too!).

Maple-Pecan Granola

Wednesday, January 21st, 2009

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Ben and Jerry aren’t the only Americans shouting “Yes, Pecan!” this January in honor of the inauguration. In keeping with my current oatmeal theme I’m making a special Obamalicious batch of oaty, nutty granola.


 

If I had to pick only one food in the world to eat every day, this granola might just be it. It offers a pleasing mixture of tastes and textures. Luckily, I don’t eat it every day. It’s expensive to make and rather fattening. Nevertheless, a little bit is heavenly with ice cream or yogurt or just by itself as a snack. It also makes a welcome gift. If I thought it would get past security, I would send some to the Obamas. Instead, I’m sharing it with my neighbors.

 

It’s easy to make this mixture gluten free. Just cut out the Grape Nuts and add a few more nuts. (I can ALWAYS add a few more nuts!)


 

Maple-Pecan Granola

 

Ingredients:

 

3-1/2 cups uncooked old-fashioned oats (do not use instant or steel-cut oatmeal)

1/2 cup flaked coconut
1/2 cup nutlike cereal nuggets such as Grape-Nuts
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1 cup pecan halves
1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/4 cup canola oil, plus oil for greasing the pan
3/4 cup maple syrup

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 cup raisins (plus as many extra as you like!)

1 cup dried cranberries (more of these are nice, too)


 

Directions:

 

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. In a large bowl, stir together the oats, coconut, cereal, almonds, pecans, and sunflower seeds. Make sure they are well jumbled up. In a separate, smaller bowl or a 2-cup measuring cup, carefully whisk together the oil, salt, syrup, and vanilla. Pour the liquid over the dry ingredients and mix the whole mess together thoroughly with a big spoon.


 

Generously oil a large jelly roll pan with canola oil. (Pour a little oil in the pan, and smooth it around with a paper towel.) Place the granola on the pan, and bake it until it is golden brown, about 1-1/2 to 2 hours, stirring well every 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven, and cool the granola to room temperature. At that point, transfer the granola back into the large bowl, and stir in the dried fruits. Store the granola in an air-tight container (or several).


Makes about 8 cups of granola—more or less, depending on how much stuff you add.


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The Golden Spurtle


 

Before I leave the topic of National Oatmeal Month, I’d like to point readers to the website for the Golden Spurtle World Porridge Making Championship, http://www.goldenspurtle.com/. Thanks to Peter Beck and to Apartment Therapy’s Kitchen section, http://www.thekitchn.com/, for finding this for me!

A yearly cooking contest set in Carrbridge in Inverness-shire, Scotland (of course!), this contest looks ALMOST as much fun as my annual Pudding Hollow Pudding Contest. Avid food enthusiasts will be happy to hear that they can attend both. The Golden Spurtle is scheduled for October 11, 2009, while the Pudding Contest will take place on October 31.


The Golden Spurtle web site includes rules, an entry form, and a wonderful page devoted to porridge, including something you won’t find anywhere else–a Porridge and Oatmeal Thesaurus.


 

Eat it up!


2008 Golden Spurtle Winners Andy Daggert & Ian Bishop (Courtesy of the Golden Spurtle)

2008 Golden Spurtle Winners Andy Daggert & Ian Bishop (Courtesy of the Golden Spurtle)

A Cake Called Hope

Sunday, January 18th, 2009

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I’m not traveling to Washington for the Inauguration this week. My mother, the animals, and I will be huddled next to the electronic hearth for the next couple of days, however, absorbing as much televised inaugural coverage as we can.

It’s an exciting event. Even people who aren’t Obama girls and boys can’t help hopping on the hope bandwagon. We all want to do our part to put the country on a new path.

My brother is going to an inaugural ball. Not to be outdone, I have prepared an inaugural cake. I wrote to the folks at Wilton to ask for some red, white, and blue sprinkles. They generously threw in some writing gel, star-shaped icing decorations, and a star-shaped pan. (They offered me a flag pan, but I was afraid that it would present too much of a challenge to my limited decorating skills.)

The resulting confection is not only delicious but beautiful as well. I started out trying to outline the star with the gel. When that didn’t work (did I mention my limited decorating skills?), I decided to revert to my usual free-form style. I ended up with a cake that is cheerful and-yes-hopeful.

In tribute to our incoming president’s message, HOPE is in fact the name of this cake, which includes honey, orange, pineapple, and eggs, among other delicious ingredients. It’s easy to make and even easier to eat.

“Hope is a recipe …. For a country that is looking for a brighter future, hope is the main ingredient.”

                                                    —  Donna Brazile

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HOPE Cake

Ingredients:

for the orange-pineapple pound cake:
1 cup (2 sticks) sweet butter at room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 eggs at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups flour
1 8-ounce can crushed pineapple (including its juice)
the grated zest and finely chopped pulp of 1 orange (everything in fact but the seeds and the bitter white part)

for the honey-cream cheese frosting:
1 8-ounce block cream cheese at room temperature
1/2 cup (1 stick) sweet butter at room temperature
2 generous tablespoons honey
confectioner’s sugar as needed
1 teaspoon vanilla

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour a 10-inch bundt pan (or a star pan from Wilton).

Cream together the butter and sugar. Beat in the eggs, 1 at a time, followed by the vanilla, baking powder, and salt.

Gently stir in the flour until it is incorporated, and fold in the fruit and zest. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. The timing will depend on your pan. With my star pan and my gas oven, it took 45 to 50 minutes.

Let the cake cool in its pan for 10 minutes. Gently loosen the sides and turn the cake out of the pan onto the rack and allow it to cool completely.

When the cake is cool, beat together the cream cheese, butter, and honey. Beat in confectioner’s sugar until you have a soft, spreadable, delicious icing. Beat in the vanilla, and spread the frosting over your cake. Decorate with abandon. Serves 10 to 12 inaugural guests.

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Red Beans & Rice

Wednesday, January 14th, 2009

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I have a bean.

Martin Luther King Jr. would have turned 80 this January 15. In his honor I’m preparing Red Beans and Rice.

Making food to pay tribute to a civil-rights icon may seem frivolous. The choice of Red Beans and Rice for Dr. King is not entirely inappropriate, however. It was one of his favorite dishes.

 

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Moreover, in an odd way, red beans are suited to the civil-rights movement.

Like that movement, they take long preparation and patience. Like many of the ordinary heroes of civil rights, these commonplace beans get together and over time manage to accomplish something quite wonderful.

The combination of the beans and rice, like the combination of races in our nation’s history, is complementary. When they finally join forces at the end of the cooking process, neither loses its identity. Together, however, they form a complete protein, just as the diverse races in the United States form a whole culture.

This particular Red Beans and Rice recipe is adapted from the formula used by my graduate-school friend Mike Mashon, now a Super Curator of Moving Images at the Library of Congress. In school we called him “Mike the Pirate” as a tribute to his extensive collection of videos of old movies, which came in handy as we studied film history. (Since the Library of Congress is one of our nation’s temples to copyright I should probably add that his videos were all legally duplicated for private use.)

Mike is from Louisiana, where I understand children learn about cooking Red Beans and Rice along with their times tables. I fondly recall his pots of this warm, hearty dish as ideal student fare–cheap, yummy, and nourishing.

Mike prefers Camellia brand beans and Rotel tomatoes with chiles. I was unable to find either here in Yankeeland so I used Goya beans and Whole Foods 365-brand canned tomatoes with chiles. Many of the flavorings are optional; I added the onion, garlic, and Creole seasoning myself. If you are a vegetarian, you may want to try the alternative suggested at a web site called www.gumbopages.com.  Instead of using meat, add a little vegetable oil to the mixture to replicate the fat in the meat, plus 1 teaspoon liquid smoke.

Mike cooks his beans in a large Dutch oven. He says they can take from 4 to 8 hours to cook that way. I used my slow cooker because it makes this easy dish even easier-no stirring involved!

 

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Red Beans and Rice

 

Ingredients:

 

1 pound red beans

1 can (14.5 ounces) tomatoes with green chiles

1 onion, chopped

2 stalks celery, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

extra-virgin olive oil as needed to sweat the vegetables

salt to taste (I used a generous teaspoon)

1 pound spicy sausage, cut into small pieces and quickly sautéed to release flavors

(Mike’s mother likes to use half sausage and half cubed ham)

Creole seasoning or hot sauce to taste

 

Instructions:


Thoroughly wash the red beans. Drain them; then soak them overnight in at least 4 cups of water.

 

Pour the beans and their soaking water into a slow cooker. Add the tomatoes and chiles, plus enough fresh water to cover the beans if needed. Quickly sauté the onion, celery, and garlic in a little olive oil until they are translucent. Add them and the salt to the pot. Cover and cook on high for 3 hours.

 

At the end of the 3 hours, add the sautéed sausage pieces and a little Creole seasoning or hot sauce. If you’re not sure how spicy you’ll want your beans (remember, the chiles and sausage both add some kick), save the extra heat for the end product.

 

Continue cooking on high heat until the beans are soft (Mike likes to mash them almost to a paste), another 3 to 5 hours. Serve over rice. This dish is even better the next day.  Serves at least 8.

 

Mike the Pirate (left) with another darling from grad school, Dan Streible (Courtesy of NYU)

Mike the Pirate (left) with another darling from grad school, Dan Streible (Courtesy of NYU)