Friday, November 27, 2009

All In One Holiday Bundt (TWD)

So, we had to cope with our derailed Thanksgiving travel plans. The hubs and I went through a momentary (okay, it was a bit more like a few hours) whiny, pity party phase, and now we've moved on. We decided to make the proverbial lemons into lemonade, and are making good use of our new found time.

The hubs has been a whirling dervish as he's already cleaned the garage, dug out the Christmas boxes, and hung the holiday lights. WooHoo hubs!!! I've been organizing paperwork for next year's tax returns, decking the house with holiday stuff, scouring cookbooks for this year's holiday treat boxes, and taking inventory of the gifts that we've been stockpiling throughout the year. I hope I'm not jinxing ourselves by saying this, but I think we're actually ready for the holidays!

BTW, Siena is doing much better. The first 24 hours was tough on the little girl, but she pulled through just fine (and the vet confirmed that she didn't ingest anything poisonous). She's back to her old exuberant self!
With this gift of time, I took the opportunity to catch up on some baking that I've been postponing. This is a late TWD post for All-In-One Holiday Bundt. I almost skipped this recipe due to lack of time, and I am so glad that I didn't pass this recipe.

The list of ingredients is definitely representative of the holidays: pumpkin, apple, cranberry, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg.
I halved the recipe, which yielded the perfect amount for a six cup bundt pan. The original recipe calls for a cup of chopped pecans, which I decided to omit. Instead, I substituted the nuts with an additional 1/4 cup each of cranberries and apple (I used granny smith). I was too lazy to dice, so I shredded the apple instead (just watch your fingers!).
The baking time for this smaller bundt was approximately 40-45 minutes. The smell of this cake baking in the oven was heavenly!
Once out of the oven and cooled, I opted to drizzle maple icing to finish the cake.
When I first read through the recipe, I thought this could be a case of "too much of a good thing" with all of these ingredients competing with each other. Instead, I was really pleased by the flavors: the tartness of the cranberry and apple was nicely balanced by the sweetness of the pumpkin and maple icing. The spices are definitely present, but doesn't overwhelm the fruit flavors in the cake.
Aside from the delicious flavor, this cake is super moist and will keep for a few days (if it isn't gobbled up before then).
Thank you Britin of The Nitty Britty for this delicious Tuesdays With Dorie selection. For the complete recipe, you can find it either at Dorie Greenspan's column at Serious Eats or at Britin's blog.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Sweet Potato Pie

HAPPY THANKSGIVING! When I originally wrote this post, it started something like this: "I'm taking a quick break as it's time for our yearly Thanksgiving sojurn to Vegas". For the past 10+ years, the hubs and I have spent the Thanksgiving holiday week in Vegas with single-minded goal of indulging ourselves silly.

Well, this post has been revised...we've crapped out and our Vegas streak is over.

We were frantically packing and printing our boarding passes for our morning flight when we discovered our dog getting sick in the backyard...then on her bed...then in the hallway (sorry for the gross details)! After a trip to our vet, a viral infection diagnosis, and a $350 vet bill, we saw our Vegas trip circling the proverbial drain.

It would have sucked for Siena to sit at the boarding facility in isolation, and quite frankly we didn't have the heart to leave her alone to recuperate. After swallowing a very big bitter pill, the hubs looked at me and asked "so what are we cooking for Thanksgiving?"

I haven't cooked Thanksgiving dinner in over a decade, so this would be an interesting challenge. Where do I about dessert?
A Thanksgiving feast isn't complete without a slice of delicious pie to end the meal with a sweet note and send dinner guests into food comas. Apple, pecan, pumpkin...everyone has a favorite pie for the holiday weekend.

At the Tender Crumb house, we're partial to pumpkin and sweet potato pies. I know a lot of people tell me that they can't tell the difference between the two. The hubs and I can definitely tell the difference between the two pies.

From my personal experience, the primary difference between the two fillings is flavor. Sweet potato has a natural sweetness and earthiness, and it doesn't need a lot of sugar and spice to enhance its flavor. People also talk about a difference in texture, with pumpkin having a more custardy texture, but that isn't as noticeable to me.

Tell me, do you think there is a difference between the two pies?

This Thanksgiving, I want to share my recipe for sweet potato pie. A post for pumpkin pie will follow in the next day or two --- we're drowning our sorrows in two pies. I love this recipe because it is simple to prepare and oh so tasty and satisfying to eat.

Note: What you're seeing in these pictures is a 4 inch baby pie. If you halve the recipe below, it will make enough for two of these mini-pies and a little extra filling (which you can bake separately in a ramekin and enjoy separately).
Sweet Potato Pie
makes one 9 inch pie

Dorie Greenspan's Good For Almost Everything Pie Dough, partially baked - you can find the recipe here

2 large red-skinned sweet potatoes
3/4 cup (packed) golden brown sugar (if you like a sweeter filling, increase to 1 cup)
1 cup whipping cream
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg white, beaten to blend

For filling:
Pierce potatoes with fork. Bake in a 375F degrees oven until cooked through (45-60 minutes). Once throughly cooked, cool completely.

Press the cooled sweet potato through a potato ricer (this step is KEY for a smooth filling). Measure enough potato puree to equal 1 1/2 cups.

Position rack in bottom third of oven; preheat to 400F degrees.

Place pureed sweet potato in large bowl. Whisk in brown sugar and next 7 ingredients.

Brush partially baked crust with beaten egg white. Transfer filling to the crust.

Bake pie until filling is puffed around edges and set in center, about 45 minutes. Transfer to rack and cool.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Roasted Veggies with Pomegranate Vinaigrette

Cauliflower, brussels sprouts, sweet potato --- the mere mention of these vegetables had my brothers and I groaning with disgust at the dinner table. I'm a big girl now, and my palate has evolved to appreciate and enjoy the flavor of these veggies. Aside from taste, these veggies are packed with nutrition and high in fiber, so you can totally load your plate guilt-free with these gems.

This recipe is a fantastic way to highlight these underappreciated vegetables, and it is super easy to prepare. This is a delicious and nutritious side dish for the Thanksgiving table.

The most time consuming part is cleaning and cutting the veggies:
Roast the prepared veggies until they are cooked through and golden brown:
While the veggies are roasting, you can whip up the vinaigrette. A few months back, the nice people from POM Wonderful sent me a box of their fantastic pomegranate juice, which I put into good use in this recipe. Along with the pomegranate juice, I added just a smidge of pomegranate molasses, which delivers an essential pungent and tart flavor to the vinaigrette. After tossing the still warm veggies with the vinaigrette, top the dish with a generous handful of pomegranate seeds, and...
...enjoy! Easy, isn't it?

Roasted Vegetables with Pomegranate Vinaigrette
adapted from Martha Stewart Living - November 2009

For the Roasted Vegetables
1/2 head cauliflower, cut into small florets
1 sweet potato, peeled and cut
1/2 lb brussels sprouts, halved
2 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper

For the Vinaigrette
1/3 cup pomegranate juice
1 tsp pomegranate molasses (if you can't find this ingredient, you can omit)
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and pepper
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
Preheat the oven to 425F degrees.

Toss the vegetables and oil in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper. (To avoid washing another dish, I toss and season directly on the baking sheet) Roast for 20-30 minutes, until golden brown. Transfer veggies to a serving platter.

Make the vinaigrette. In a bowl mix the pomegranate juice and molasses. Pour in oil in a slow steady stream, whisking until emulsified. Season with salt and pepper.

Just before serving, drizzle vinaigrette over warm vegetables, and top with pomegranate seeds.

Serves 6

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Cran-Apple Crisps (TWD)

As a thin-blooded native Californian, I was reaching for my fuzzy slippers and huddling under a flannel blanket last night as the temperature dipped into the 40's. can stop laughing at my weather wimpiness, as I get enough mocking at home courtesy of my hubs. As a New Jersey native, he thought last night's temperature was "refreshingly crisp" and sat next to his shivering wife wearing a t-shirt and shorts.

The hubs and I will forever disagree about how we define cold weather, but we both agreed that this warm Cran-Apple Crisp was the perfect sweet ending to our evening meal. With a short and sweet ingredient list, this recipe can be assembled in a flash. I used a combination of winesap and orin apples that came from Ha's Apple Farm.

For those of you who are SoCal based, I highly recommend that you visit Mr. Ha's stand at your local farmers market (I've seen his stands in Hollywood and Santa Monica). He offers a fantastic variety of apples and they are all super delicious - his fujis are da bomb!Don't be shy about piling a generous amount of the cinnamon ginger crisp topping into the ramekins. Once they are baked, the ingredients settle into a sweet mass of warm and spice-scented deliciousness...
A scoop of vanilla ice cream is an absolute must for this dessert...
Overall, I thought this crisp was yummy! As the crisp topping is sweet, I didn't think the fruit base needed too much additional sugar, so will make a note to dial down the sugar quantity in the fruit mixture. As the apples I used were not overly juicy, I halved the amount of flour called for in the recipe, and the crisp didn't get soggy... it was perfect!

I had quite a bit of crisp topping leftover, and used it the next day as a delicious and not-so-heathly mix-in for my morning oatmeal.

Thanks Em of The Repressed Pastry Chef for this delicious TWD selection. Please visit Em's blog for the complete recipe.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Sugar-Topped Molasses Spice Cookies (TWD)

These Sugar-Topped Molasses Spice Cookies are a must-bake during this time of year. When these cookies are baking in the oven, the delicious smells of molasses and spices will permeate the house and remind you that the holidays are here.
The spicy kick in these beauties come from ginger, cinnamon, allspice, --- and black pepper. Do not shy away from the black pepper, as they add a really nice heat to these cookies.
These cookies are definitely going to be incorporated into my holiday cookie baskets this year!

Thanks Pamela of Cookies With Boys for this delicious selection! Make sure to visit Pamela's blog for the complete recipe.

This month, the Tuesdays With Dorie bakers have been given license to bake the November line-up out of order, so make sure to peruse the TWD Blogroll to see some fantastic fall baking.
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