Wednesday, November 24, 2010

THE Pumpkin Muffin Recipe

For years this has been passed around my circle of friends.  I thought it might be easier to just post it on here, so you guys can have access to it any time.  

I strongly recommend spraying the paper muffin liners or using Wilton's silver liners.  Things won't stick to those.  I buy them for $1.99 at Michael's.  

3 C sugar
1 C oil (I often use applesauce or chunky applesauce)
4 eggs (also have used egg beaters with good results)
2 tsp vanilla

Mix together until combined

3 1/2 C Pamela's Gluten Free Bread Mix
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
2 tsp baking soda

sift dry ingredients, then add wet to dry

2/3 cup milk (soy works great, skim works great)

1 3/4 cups pumpkin (canned - just a regular size can)

add half the milk, mix, half the pumpkin, mix again, the rest of the milk, mix, the rest of the pumpkin, mix

optional: 1 cup chopped nuts, 1 cup chocolate chips 

(just fold these in)

Bake at 350 for 20 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean

(and really, let's be honest, if you just dump it all into the kitchenaid, they taste just fine!)

Top with cream cheese frosting for cupcakes.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Flaky, Rollable, Tender, Delicious Gluten Free Pie Crust

Yep.  You read that right.  I've conquered it!

My grandma made dessert every day.  Every.  Day.  From scratch.  I lived with her for years and can remember perching myself at the end of her huge chrome-trimmed table as she slid the fabric sheath on her rolling pin and dusted flour on the canvas.  She'd give my aunt Vicki and me the scraps, which we promptly destroyed by overworking and smashing into pot pie sized tins.  Her cookies are legendary, but where her real pastry talent lies is within the layers of her pie crust.

Never tough.  The right blend of flaky and tender.  The perfectly rolled, never over-worked edge adding a hint of salty, savory crisp to a sea of pie fillings: coconut custard, lemon meringue (my favorite!), lemon chiffon (a close second), pumpkin chiffon (family favorite), cooked strawberry, strawberry gelatin, banana cream, peach... where was I?

Right.  The crust.

When I first began cooking on my own, I called my grandma often.  She graciously read recipe after recipe to me over the phone and explained techniques.  I still have a handwritten cookbook from 1996, filled with her recipes scrawled with in my nineteen year old handwriting.

Thanks, Grandma.

This recipe will make enough for two pies if you're a really super efficient housewife from the fifties.  If you are likely to crack the edges and have trouble rolling out pastry, it'll make one plus scraps.

Gluten Free Pie Crust

2/3 C. Shortening*
1 tsp salt
6-7 TBSP ICE water**

*note: yes, shortening.  Grandma used Crisco, of course.  
I used Spectrum non-hydrogenated.  It's about $5 for a tub at Whole Foods.

**ICE water.  Ice a cup of it, set it aside while you work.  You'll add it bit by bit but it MUST be cold.

You can absolutely do this with the tines of a fork the way my Grandma does.  
(But I do it in my Cuisinart.)

In the bowl of your food processor mix the flour, salt, and add the shortening.  Close it up.  Pulse - I counted just for you - around 25 times.  You want that fat to get distributed through to every grain of flour, or at least as many as you can.  It should not really look like flour anymore once this happens - more like wet sand.  If you smoosh it together in the palm of your hand and squeeze, it will stick.

Now, stop.  Get that cup of ice water.  You don't need the ice - just the really, really cold water.

Using a tablespoon (actual tablespoon measuring spoon) begin adding water to the chute on the food processor.  I dump one tablespoon in, then as it drizzles down I pulse.  Continue until it comes together - mine took about 7 TBSPs of water.  It will begin looking like sugar cookie dough.  It should never ever be *wet* - just - combined.  

At this point, I take it out of the bowl and pat it together in a disk.  This helps get the air out and creates the general shape for a pie crust.  Now, let it rest.  Do you HAVE to do that?  No.  But I do think it helps things chill out a bit.  You can even pop it in a ziplock or wrap it in saran at this point, if you're not ready to bake the pie yet.  When you are ready to roll, dust the counter with flour (or use one of those awesome vintage rolling pin things like my grandma had)  WOW!  This is it!

Someone snatch that up!

Okay - so roll it out - you want it even, sometimes I roll in a few directions to get it nice and round.  Then I usually use a pizza cutter to trim off the edges.

Transfer to your pie plate and fill.  You're done!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Gelled Cranberry Sauce and Cranberry Chutney

It's that time of year - cranberries are everywhere you look.  And, don't get me wrong, it's just not Thanksgiving without those little can ridges and perfect circles of gel on a plate.  (Heck, I bought a six pack).  But this year I decided to play with some fresh cranberries and see if we liked them.  Sam's had huge bags, so I picked one up and set out to test some recipes.  These are the winners.

Apple-Cranberry Chutney

If you haven't tried Trader Joe's Cranberry Apple Chutney, you're seriously missing out.  It's a sweet, tart, spice-laden condiment that will kick your Thanksgiving taste buds into gear.

Here's how this worked...

3 cups of fresh cranberries
3 cups of peeled, diced apples (I used honeycrisps and granny smith that were too bruised for my kids to possibly eat)
1 cups of sugar
1 1/3 cups of apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp good cinnamon (I like Penzey's vietnamese)
1/2 tsp ground ginger (dried stuff, not fresh this time, though I'll have to try fresh and see if it is noticeably different)
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp fresh grated nutmeg (okay, powdered is sufficient but really - you should be grating whole nutmeg because the flavor changes after it's grated for a while) A pack of whole nutmegs will last you a couple of years and they don't lose their potency when whole.  I have a nice little nutmeg house with a microplane attached inside like this.

Dump it all in a heavy bottomed stainless steel pot.  (The BEST stock pot ever - not too big, not too small, steams veggies, drains pasta, all in all great pot.  I've had it for years and we use it 3-5 times a week.)

This isn't a baking recipe, order doesn't really matter.

Stir occasionally to make sure the sugar is getting mixed in and not burning on the bottom of your pan.  Also, I realized that cranberries are loaded with pectin, the stuff that makes jelly and jam stick together.  As they burst, they will sort of fall to the bottom and can get goopy down there.  Don't worry if that happens, it mixes right back in.  (not that I know from experience or anything)

This needs to simmer for about 25 minutes.  It will thicken, reduce, and all the cranberries will pop.  You can encourage them by smooshing them against the side of the pot.  Your house will smell like heavenly fall goodness at this point (and yes, the vinegar smells STRONG in the beginning, but trust me. It's right.  And it mellows out.)

When it's done, it will be thick, almost the consistency of applesauce.  I canned mine.  You could make it as a side for Thanksgiving, but you may want to also offer regular cranberry sauce in case people are not into the intensity of a chutney.


Gelled Cranberry Sauce

I used straight-mouthed canning jars in the hopes that I can just pour it onto a plate and slice it into familiar rounds.  I'll let you know how that works out.

3 cups of fresh cranberries
2 cups of sugar
1 cup of orange juice (mine came from a jug - yep - I'm owning it!)
1 cup of water.

Dump into that pot I mentioned above and Boil.  Boil.  Boil.  Okay, you might actually want to simmer. And remember, scrape the bottom once in a while because it does get goopy down there from all that pectin.

It took about 15 minutes to get all the cranberries to pop and for the liquid to cook down.

Pour into a mesh strainer inserted in a glass bowl.  I used a spoonula to mash the cranberries through the sieve.  This takes a while and is an excellent upper arm workout.  Just keep smashing them with the back of a spatula/scraper/spoon until you have a mushy pile of skins left on top and gorgeous, bright red cranberry sauce on bottom.

This yielded about one good-sized jar.  I doubled it for my family's cranberry needs and I plan to make more this weekend.  It's that good.  The flavor is vibrant and the color is so bright, it looks artificially colored.  Truly delicious.

Hope you enjoy these recipes as much as we do!