Friday, November 21, 2014

Cranberry-Orange Muffins

Most mornings Dylan builds an elaborate structure of some kind before pre-school. Sometimes it's out of magna-tiles, other times out of legos or blocks. The moment he walks out the door I quickly take pictures of it from all angles so I can try and fix it, to my best ability, after his little brother inevitably knocks it down. Some days I pass the test and he doesn't catch my mistakes in a wall or tower but other times he knows right away that something is different and starts to inquire about every detail of my day - did anyone come over, what did Gray do, did I touch anything?

It's this balance of a spastic one year old and thoughtful four year old that is challenging. Baking together as a threesome is not that fun these days. The little guy wants to splash in the flour while the big guy wants to crack the eggs all by himself. Lately, when Gray is napping Dylan and I get to work in the kitchen together where used the rest of our locally harvested cranberries to make muffins. Baby brother was quite happy when he woke up.

PS. The cheetah is basically part of the family.

Cranberry-Orange Muffins
From Flour

3 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 eggs
1 egg yolk
1 1/3 cups pure cane sugar
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup whole milk, at room temperature
1 cup creme fraiche, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons finely grated orange zest
2 cups chopped cranberries

(The zoo before being demolished.)

1. Position a rack in the center of the oven, and heat the oven to 350 F. Butter a standard 12-cup muffin tin, coat with nonstick cooking spray, or line with paper liners.

2. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and egg yolk until thoroughly mixed. Slowly whisk in the sugar, butter, milk, creme fraiche, and vanilla until well combined. Pour the butter-sugar mixture into the flour mixture and, using a rubber spatula, fold gently just until the ingredients are combined. Gently fold in the cranberries and orange zest until evenly distributed. The batter may seem lumpy, but don't try to smooth it out.

3. Spoon the batter in to the prepared cups, dividing it evenly and filling the cups to the rim (almost overflowing).

4. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the muffins are golden brown on top and spring back when pressed in the middle with a fingertip. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes, then remove the muffins from the pan.

5. The muffins taste best on the day they are baked, but they can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. If you keep them for longer than 1 day, refresh them in a 300 F oven for 4 to 5 minutes. Or, you can freeze them, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, for up to 1 week; reheat, directly from the freezer, in a 300 F oven for 8 to 10 minutes.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Whole Roasted Carrots with Dill

Now that we have two children it is divide and conquer at bedtime. The boys have a bath together and I nurse and snuggle Gray while Nick reads to Dylan (and his stuffed animals). They have been getting into short chapter books this year. Stewart Little, My Fathers Dragon, Dr. Doolittle, and Charlotte's Web are a handful of favorites. But at the top of the list (I think they've read them a few times each now) is Pooh's Library: Winnie-The-Pooh, The House at Pooh Corner, When We Were Very Young, and Now We Are Six.

Because of this beloved relationship with the friends of the 100 Acre Wood, we have adapted a few Pooh-isms. So like Pooh Bear, when Dylan is feeling hungry, he says he's feeling "a little eleven o'clockish". I laugh every time because it perfectly describes how most people are feeling that time of day. Although not an obvious snack choice these roasted carrots tossed with fresh dill hit the spot around eleven the other morning (which is essentially lunch time when you wake up at 5 am right!?) and would make a great holiday side dish.

You can adjust the number of carrots any way you'd like and if you love dill then just toss more on. I like to roast them in our cast iron skillet to create a nice crust but a baking sheet would be fine too. 

Whole Roasted Carrots with Dill
1 bunch whole carrots, peeled
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt and black pepper
2-3 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped

PS. I had to stop and snap these driving to preschool. Seriously fall, you rule.

1. Preheat the oven to 425 F. Toss whole carrots with olive oil, salt, and pepper and arrange in a single layer in a large cast iron skillet.

2. Roast for 30 minutes or until they are deeply caramelized. Remove from the oven and toss fresh dill into the pan, shake everything around and serve.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Popovers with Cranberry Butter

Most of the time I forget we live on an island but sometimes it hits me like a ton of bricks. Yesterday, Dylan and I were talking about all the kids in his class. I mentioned one little boy and he said "Oh no, he's not in my class anymore because he moved to (long pause) AMERICA!" America being off-island. Should I worry about this perception or appreciate its humor?

Maybe it's the holidays creeping up on us but I'm also dying to go to Trader Joe's (mainly for dried blueberries because our baby is obsessed) and Target (mainly for nothing I really need). Alas, those places are an ocean away but guess what, we have a cranberry bog! Recently, I took the boys to Cranberry Acres to harvest organic island grown cranberries. I wish I had my good camera but a bog + 2 boys + harvesting + expensive camera = disaster.

When we got home Dylan suggested making cranberry butter after having some at school (a friend brought in berries from Cranberry Day and their Island Grown Schools teacher made the butter.) We gave it a shot and he approved. And to me, any good butter deserves a warm popover. 

makes 6

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup whole milk, at room temperature
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt

1. Preheat the oven to 400 F for 20 minutes. Evenly divide the butter between a six cup popover pan or six 1/2 cup ramekins, dropping a small piece into each cup.

2. In a small bowl, lightly whisk the eggs then whisk in the milk.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and salt until well blended. Gently whisk the egg mixture into the flour mixture until small lumps are left, and set aside.

4. Place the popover tin on  baking sheet and into the oven for 4 minutes. At 3 minutes, give the batter a light whisk. Remove the hot tin from the oven and immediately divide the batter among the prepared cups (I like to first pour the batter into a large liquid measuring cup with a spout for easy pouring).

5. Bake for 25 minutes without opening the oven door. The popovers will be puffy, with crisp brown crusts and hollow, moist interiors. Serve immediately with cranberry butter.

Cranberry Butter:
makes 2 cups

1 cup (2 sticks) softened butter
1 cup fresh cranberries
1 tablespoon honey 
1 tablespoon orange or lemon zest
1. Simply whiz everything together in a food processor, pausing to scrape down the sides, until the cranberries are fully incorporated. Transfer to a bowl and enjoy.
Extra cranberry butter is great on toast, spread under the skin of poultry before roasting, atop roasted root vegetables, sauteed green beans, or boiled potatoes, and spread onto muffins.  

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Spinach Pie

I feel like everywhere I go these days I'm telling somebody about a book they have to pick up right now. I finally bullied Nick into starting The Goldfinch, which I read this summer, so every morning I ask "Soooo what part are you at now?!". I'm sure he loves that. Heritage came in the mail yesterday and the book's size alone (it's probably a foot tall) is impressive and the cover's colors are crazy in person. It's so vivid. And finally, the book I'm pushing on every friend at grocery store run ins is Martha Stewart's One Pot. One Pot is divided into dutch oven, skillet, slow cooker, roasting pan, and stockpot sections - I'm obsessed. This Spinach Pie was the first recipe I tried from the book but I have a dozen corners marked.

PS. Two afternoons a week Gray and I drive to preschool pick-up. School is about 20 minutes from our house and many people wonder why we choose the make the long (in Martha's Vineyard terms) trek when there are other options closer to home. Despite the fact that we are in love with the school, the drive itself is lovely (I think I blocked out the trips last winter with a newborn). The roads are empty, I usually bring along a coffee, listen to NPR, and gaze out the window. I had to stop last week and snap a few pictures of the goats grazing along the road. I can't believe fall really looks like this. 

Spinach Pie
From Martha Stewart Living's One Pot

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 small yellow onion, chopped
20 ounces frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese (8 ounces)
3 large eggs
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
4 sheets frozen phyllo dough, thawed

1. Preheat oven to 375 F. In a 10-inch nonstick ovenproof skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Transfer 2 tablespoons to a bowl. Add onion to skillet; cook, stirring, until softened, 5 minutes. Remove from heat, and let cool slightly. Stir in spinach, ricotta, eggs, feta, dill, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

2. Lay 1 sheet phyllo on a work surface, and lightly brush with reserved melted butter. Lay over spinach mixture, folding edges under to fit inside skillet. (Keep extra phyllo covered while you work.) One at a time, brush remaining 3 sheets and add to skillet, rotating and scrunching each sheet slightly so edges are offset and top is ruffled. Transfer skillet to oven, and bake until golden brown and heated through, about 30 minutes.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Warm Spiced Chickpea Salad with Caper Vinaigrette

Every morning for the past month or so Dylan has woken up and asked if it was Halloween. He looks forward to this holiday more then any other. The costume planning, house decorating, and pre-school conversations around trick-or-treating have filled our month of October. So, drum roll....we wake up Halloween morning and he asks if today is Halloween!?! Nick and I are so excited to finally say YES! Then he responds, "Mama, I wish tomorrow was Halloween - not today so it would always be Halloween tomorrow." My heart melted.

Dylan is into big cats so naturally he requested a cheetah costume.  My mom made the suit, I did the face paint, and Nick painted the spots with glow in the dark paint (I wish I had a picture after dark). Dylan has taught me a lot about cheetahs recently. For example, the black fur around their eyes is to attract sunlight so they can see in the bright sun (like football players) and they have an extra long tail to help them steer when running at top speed - so cool. Gray worn the cozy sock monkey costume my mom made for Dylan when he was 1. It is one of my all time favorites!

A look back at our Halloweens:  
Last Year.
Two Years Ago.
Three Years Ago.
Four Years Ago.

But back to the food. This salad is a new favorite of mine. The vinaigrette is delicious and everything is warm, salty, and flavorful (love me some capers and lemon). I hope you give it a try.

Warm Spiced Chickpea Salad with Caper Vinaigrette

1 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt and black pepper
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
1 small bunch kale or mustard greens, ribs and stems removed, leaves coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon honey
1/4 cup water

1/2 small shallot, very finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon honey
Kosher salt and black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and patted dry

1. Pre-heat oven to 350F. Combine the chickpeas, cumin, and 1 tablespoon of oil in a medium bowl. Mash about half of the chickpeas with a fork; season with salt and pepper. Transfer chickpeas to a shallow baking dish.

2. Heat remaining tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook garlic, stirring until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add greens and cook, tossing, until slightly wilted, about 1 minute. Add honey and 1/4 cup water; season with salt and pepper. Cook, tossing, until greens are completely wilted, about 2 minutes. Transfer to dish with chickpea mixture and toss to combine. Bake in a 350F oven for 30-35 minutes. 

3. While the salad toasts up, make the vinaigrette. Whisk shallot, lemon juice, mustard, and honey in a small bowl; season with salt and pepper. Gradually whisk in olive oil. Heat vegetable oil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook caper until opened and crisp, about 30 seconds. Using a slotted spoon, transfer popped capers to vinaigrette. When ready to serve, drizzle warm salad with vinaigrette.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Spiced Black Lentils with Yogurt & Mint

I'm not sure if our neighbors appreciate our homemade Halloween decorations or if they think we are going a little crazy. Dylan is really into a spooky holiday so we have that awful fake spiderweb batting all over our front steps, old t-shirt ghosts floating from the porch, and construction paper skulls, bats, and spiders taped randomly (with bright blue painters tape!) all over the walls. It's a look. Nick grew up in Sleepy Hollow so we are reading, on repeat, the tale of the headless horseman. To say we are excited for Friday is an understatement.

We tried this simple lentil dinner last week and really enjoyed it. It's easy to individually tailor for each family member. You can toss on an egg, leftover roasted vegetables, or shredded chicken on top.

Spiced Black Lentils with Yogurt & Mint
slightly adapted from Bon Appetit

½ teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon mustard seeds 
2 tablespoons olive oil plus more 
1 small onion, finely chopped 
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped 
1 cup black beluga lentils 
3 cups (or more) low-sodium vegetable broth or chicken broth 
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
 Kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper 
1 cup plain Greek yogurt 
¼ cup fresh mint leaves, thinly sliced

1. First, stir coriander, cumin, mustard seeds, and two tablespoons of oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat until sizzling, about 1 minute. Add the onion and garlic; cook, stirring often, until just softened, about 5 minutes. 

2. Next, add the lentils and 3 cups broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, adding broth as needed to keep lentils covered, until lentils are soft, 30–40 minutes. Stir in vinegar; season with salt and pepper.

3. To serve, transfer the lentils to a large bowl and top with yogurt. Season with salt and pepper, drizzle with oil, and top with mint. 

Do Ahead: Lentils can be cooked 2 days ahead. Let cool; cover and chill.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Lemon Buttermilk Pie

I made this pie Sunday afternoon to celebrate the recognition of Nick's hard work in designing and building our kitchen addition. Vineyard Style Magazine is running a story on his ideas behind and execution of our small addition - read it here and see it here. He is a pretty crafty guy and we are so lucky to call him ours.

A few friends have mentioned how nice it is to see a small scale, thoughtful, self built project published in an Island magazine. I couldn't agree more. Typically, the pages are filled with sprawling, impersonal homes that are empty most of the year. Yes, most year-round residents depend on the owners of those sprawling homes for many things but still...does anyone need 23,000 square feet?! Martha's Vineyard is a funny place sometimes but I love it anyways.

Lemon Buttermilk Pie
Slightly adapted from Bon Appetit

Buttermilk Pie Dough
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/4 cup buttermilk

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
6 large egg yolks
3 large eggs
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, cooled slightly
Whipped cream (for serving)

Buttermilk Pie Dough:

1. Pulse flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor to combine. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal with a few pea-size pieces of butter remaining. Transfer to a large bowl and add buttermilk. Mix with a fork, adding more buttermilk by the tablespoon if needed, just until a shaggy dough comes together.

2. Knead very lightly until no dry spots remain. Pat into a disk and wrap in plastic. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or in the freezer for 1 hour.

Filling and Assembly:

1. Preheat oven to 325 F. Roll out pie dough on a lightly floured surface to 14" round. Transfer to a 9" pie dish, allowing dough to slump down into dish. Trim dough, leaving about 1" overhang. Fold overhang under and crimp edge. Prick bottom all over with a fork.

2. Line crust with parchment paper and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake until crust is dry around the edge, 20-25 minutes. Remove parchment and weights; bake until surface looks dry, 10-12 minutes longer.

3. Meanwhile, blend egg yolks, eggs, buttermilk, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and salt in a blender until smooth. With motor running, add flour then butter. Fill into warm crust.

4. Bake pie, rotating halfway through, until filling is set around edge but center jiggles slightly, 55-65 minutes. Transfer pie dish to a wire rack and let pie cool. Serve with whipped cream.

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