Archive for October, 2009

Cyndie’s Cheesy Corn Pudding

Monday, October 19th, 2009
Cheesy Corn Puddingweb2 
With LESS THAN TWO WEEKS to go before the Pudding Hollow Pudding Festival, I thought I’d post another pudding recipe. I hope it inspires readers to enter the festival’s gala pudding contest.
This year’s festival falls on October 31 so I’m offering a recipe from the Queen of Halloween in my hometown of Hawley, Massachusetts, town clerk Cyndie Stetson.
Each autumn the spooky display outside Cyndie’s home on West Hawley Road dazzles those of us who drive by. It offers a number of vignettes—a pumpkin crossing, a mad scientist’s lab, a witch’s lair, and a pirate ship—plus assorted spider webs, severed limbs, tombstones, and ghosts.
Indoors, Cyndie celebrates with Halloween jewelry, lights, dolls, and crawling creatures, plus (my personal favorite) an orange cocktail shaker and matching martini glasses.
Cyndie assures me she is entering this year’s contest. Two years ago her Autumn Comfort Pudding won the top award, and she has placed as a finalist several times.
The hearty pudding recipe below made it to the finals a few years back. It’s perfect comfort food for our current chilly, drippy weather.
I plan to adapt it soon. I’d like to substitute standard ingredients for the muffin mix. I’d also like to experiment with a Southwestern version and add a little chipotle and/or cumin. Meanwhile, below lies the easy version from the Queen of Halloween herself.
Before I give you the recipe, I want to let readers know about my new book giveaway. In keeping with the season, I am holding a drawing for a copy of The Perfect Pumpkin by Gail Damerow. The book offers a little history, a little advice on cultivation, and a number of tasty-looking recipes.
Anyone who takes out an email subscription to this blog will be eligible for the drawing, which will take place at approximately midnight EDT next Monday, October 26. This includes current subscribers, of course (I hope you’ll spread the word to your friends)! If you’re not a subscriber and would like to sign up, please click on the link below.
Good luck! And now, here’s Cyndie’s recipe…….
1 8-1/2-ounce box corn muffin mix
1/2 cup (1 stick) sweet butter, melted
1 egg, beaten
1 cup sour cream
1 14-3/4 ounce can cream-style corn, with liquid
1 15-1/4 ounce can whole-kernel corn, with liquid
1 medium onion, diced and sautéed in olive oil
1 medium green or red bell pepper, diced and sautéed in olive oil
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (use a little more for ultimate cheesy-ness)
1 dash each salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, blend all the ingredients well. Place them in a well greased 11-by-7 inch baking pan or round 2-quart casserole dish.
Bake the pudding until it is lightly browned on top and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. This will take about an hour, but start checking after about 45 minutes. Serves 6 as a main dish or 8 to 10 as a side dish.
Cyndie (right) was surprised at her pudding-contest victory in 2007.

Cyndie (right) was surprised at her pudding-contest victory in 2007.

Salsa Verde Pie

Friday, October 16th, 2009

tomatillos web

Happy World Food Day!  This is also known as World Bread Day. I’m not actually posting a bread recipe today (my new apple bread recipe is still locked in the sick laptop). If readers want to join bakers all over the world in making bread, I recommend the warm, moist pumpkin bread recipe I posted last year at about this time.
Meanwhile, this slightly spicy pie should help you celebrate the larger holiday in appropriately green fashion. I don’t want to seem frivolous; I know WFD is actually about hunger awareness. YOU won’t be hungry after eating your pie, but please take some time this week and every week to contribute to a food bank or a cause that feeds the hungry.
When life gives you tomatillos, make salsa……….
My neighbors Sally and David Rich were clearing out their garden recently and shared part of their tomatillo harvest with me. One doesn’t think of tomatillos as growing in New England, but Sally produced a bumper crop!
I started out to make salsa verde, but when the weather took a cold turn I decided to throw my green sauce into a quiche. Luckily, I was invited to a dinner party at my friend Chas’s house so my mother and I didn’t have to absorb all the calories in this tasty, cheesy pie.
for the green sauce:
2 cups halved tomatillos (remove and discard the husks first and rinse the tomatillos to remove stickiness!)
1 jalpeño pepper, chopped (more if desired; my pie wasn’t very spicy)
1 large or 2 small cloves garlic, finely minced
several sprigs of cilantro
the juice of 1/2 lime
1/2 teaspoon salt (or a little more to taste)
for the quiche:
1 9-inch single pie crust
1 medium bell pepper, cut into thin slices
a small amount of butter for sautéing
1-1/ 2 cups grated store cheese (plus a little more if you just adore cheese)
the green sauce
4 eggs
1-1/2 cups cream
First, make the salsa verde. Roast the tomatillo halves under the broiler until they begin to brown, 5 to 7 minutes, stirring once or twice. (Watch them!)
Remove them from the oven and let them cool.
In a blender or food processor, combine the roasted tomatillos with all the other ingredients, and puree. If you want to keep the salsa as plain salsa, you’ll have just under 1 cup.
If you prefer to make the pie, preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Set aside a few pepper slices for garnish. Sauté the remaining pieces in the butter until they just begin to soften. Place them on the pie crust. Cover them with the cheese.
In a bowl, whisk together the green sauce and eggs. Whisk in the cream, and quickly pour the mixture onto the pie shell. Bake the quiche for 15 minutes.
Decorate the top of the pie with the remaining pepper slices and reduce the heat to 350 degrees. Bake the pie until the custard begins to set, 30 to 40 minutes more. Serves 6.
salsapie web


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An Apple Pie Made with Love

Tuesday, October 13th, 2009
Jaimye's Pie

Jaimye's Pie

Apple pie means many things to many people–patriotism, home, grandmother, fall, Thanksgiving……..
To tell you the truth, I’ve never been a pie enthusiast, but I respect the reverence many of my fellow New Englanders and Americans have for apple pie.
So when I was asked to help judge an Apple Pie Contest last week I took the job seriously. The contest, sponsored by Pierce Bros Coffee, was one of the highlights of the Fall Festival at the First Congregational Church of Shelburne, Massachusetts.
Luckily, my two fellow judges were veterans of the contest. Jay Fidanza of WHAI Radio and Beth Lorenz of Lorenz Honda showed me the ropes. They were both serious and speedy.
Jay told me he knew a winner when he tasted it. Beth said she liked to look for contrasting flavors and textures in a pie.
When asked what I thought defined the best apple pie, I declared that the best pies were “made with love.”
Several of the eight pies assembled took a little ranking. But we had no trouble identifying the best pie right off the bat. Number eight was both tart and sweet, and its crust was not only gorgeous but mouth-meltingly buttery.
When the prizes were awarded, we discovered that it had indeed been made with love, by fifteen-year-old Jaimye Larsen of Shelburne, with some help from her mother Anne.
Here’s their recipe. Throw in some of your own love and serve it to guests.  They will swoon!
for the crust
2/3 cup salted butter
1 cup flour
1/3 cup ice water
for the filling:
5 cups apples (half Macs, half Cortlands)
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 generous teaspoon cinnamon
lots of pats of butter
for finishing:
about 1 tablespoon cream
cinnamon sugar to taste
Preheat the oven to 470 degrees.
Prepare the crust. Combine the butter and flour and dump in the ice water. Don’t overmix the pastry. Roll  it out into two crusts.
Place the bottom crust in your pie pan. Combine the apples, sugar, cornstarch, and cinnamon. Place this filling over the crust. Dot pats of butter on top.
Gently lay the top crust on top of the filling. Cut little holes or slits in the top to allow the crust to breathe, and drizzle cream over the top. Sprinkle cinnamon sugar overall.
Pop the pie into the oven, and immediately reduce the heat to 450 degrees. Bake for 1/2 hour. Jaimye and Anne say it will be slightly undercooked–which is the effect they want.
Serves 6 to 8.
Baker Jaimye Larsen (left) and Judge Beth Lorenz share a piece of pie.

Baker Jaimye Larsen (left) and Judge Beth Lorenz share a piece of pie.

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Tinky’s Cider Butternut Soup

Friday, October 9th, 2009


My laptop is still suffering–but I am attempting a post because I have NEWS!
I, Tinky Weisblat, will be one of the featured Western Massachusetts artisans on Monday’s episode of the television program Making It Here.
The segment will focus on my work as a food writer and will depict the creation of my soon-to-be-world-famous Cider Butternut Soup.
Local viewers take note: The episode will air this coming Monday, October 12, at 7:30 pm on Channel 57 (WGBY-TV) in Springfield, Massachusetts. Those of you who watch, please be kind. I know I need a face lift! Look at the soup instead of at me.
Of course, all of you may try the soup!
NOTE FROM TINKY LATER: Here’s the link so people can view the show online!
2 to 3 tablespoons butter
1-1/2 large onions, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
2 medium apples (fairly solid ones for cooking; I used Ginger Gold), cored and chopped but not necessarily peeled
3 cups roasted butternut squash puree (for roasting instructions, see my post about the Blue Heron Restaurant, which has another great butternut recipe!)
1-1/2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon (at least) freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3/4 teaspoon salt
lots of freshly ground pepper
6 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 cups hard cider (I used West County Cider McIntosh, a sweet and fruity cider)
2 cups heavy cream (I used Mapleline)
toasted pecans or croutons for garnish (optional)
In a 4-quart Dutch oven melt the butter. When it begins to talk to you, sauté the onions and garlic until they are soft (about 5 minutes).
Add the apple pieces, and sauté until they are moistened, about 2 minutes.
Stir in the squash, followed by the honey, nutmeg, cayenne, salt, and pepper.  Stir for a minute or two (taking care to keep the mixture from burning); then stir in the stock.
Bring the soup to a boil. Cover it about 7/8 of the way, and turn it down. Simmer for 30 to 40 minutes, until it tastes souplike.
Remove the soup from the heat, and puree it. I used my immersion blender for this (which worked as long as I kept it immersed; when I accidentally lifted it I think I got a little soup on the TV camera!). You may also use a blender or food processor, but be very careful to process this hot soup in batches.
In a nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat reduce the cider in half. (This takes only a few minutes.) Add the cream and reduce in half again, whisking (again quite a short process).
You then have a choice. You may either stir the cider/cream reduction into the soup and serve it  or put the reduction into a pitcher and let your guests drizzle it into the soup at the table.
Garnish with toasted nuts or croutons. Serves 6.
Two quick notes: First, thanks to those who emailed me or commented to note that I FORGOT TO PUT THE BUTTERNUT SQUASH IN THE LIST OF INGREDIENTS!  A girl with a sick laptop is a girl on the edge, and I appreciated the reminders.
Second, those of you who live in the Pioneer Valley and aren’t quite ready to make the transition to fall vegetables will be happy to read the comment below from Nikki Ciesluk, who reports that her family’s lovely farmstand in Deerfield still has corn!
Happy Columbus Day weekend, all………
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Please Stand By

Tuesday, October 6th, 2009

apron web

Dear Readers (and Haphazard Visitors):
I have a wonderful recipe to share with you. It is stored in my laptop. Unfortunately, the Tinky laptop is under the weather.
The manufacturer is allegedly sending me disks that will (again allegedly) take care of the problem.
Until then, “In Our Grandmothers’ Kitchens” will be dark.
I promise new recipes and a book giveaway will be wending their way through the ethernet soon.
In the meanwhile, enjoy the lovely fall weather…………