26 February 2011

Savory Butternut Squash Pie

Heather is definitely the queen of pie! She alerted me to the National Pie Day which was on January 23. I know, I know, you've missed it for this year, BUT March 14 (aka 3.14 aka the REAL Pi day) is coming up soon, so all these pie recipes are going to come in handy!

This is one of my favorite savory pie recipes. I love squash. I love cheese. Perfect!

single crust pie dough (I like the vodka pie crust recipe that Heather previously wrote about)
2 lb butternut squash (I usually opt to buy two 1lb squashes because I think the smaller ones taste better!)
2 eggs
generous 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 tsp salt
1 tsp nutmeg
pinch cayenne pepper
2 tbsp butter, softened (optional, this makes a rich pie even richer, but it's so good!)

1. Preheat your oven to 400. Roll out your pie crust into a 9 inch pie pan.
2. Cook the squash. I prefer to cut it in half, put the cut half down on a large plate and microwave it for 20 minutes. You can also roast the squash in the oven for a richer flavor, but this takes longer! Once the squash is cooked, allow it to cool (if you're using the microwave, it's going to be HOT. You may want to put the plate in the fridge or freezer to speed up the cooling process. Once it's cool, scoop out the flesh into a large bowl and mash it with a fork, this should be easy and you don't want large clumps.
2. Add the eggs and mix well.
3. Add the cheese, salt, nutmeg, cayenne and butter and mix until the filling is homogenous. You don't want to blend this, it should still have a little texture!
4. Bake at 400 for 25-30 minutes or until the squash juuuust starts to brown a little.
5. Allow the pie to cool for at least an hour before serving, though you may rewarm slices in the oven or microwave before serving.

Beer Bread (aka, how to get rid of old cheap beer in your fridge)

Let me tell you about something called Blanco Basura. Blanco Basura is a special product that my friends discovered that proudly claims how its name is Bad Spanish for "White Trash." So yeah, if you actually speak Spanish, it's not my fault. Anyway, Blanco Basura is a special party pack that comes with five beers, a pint of tequila and a shot glass.

(if you're wondering, yes that's an image of a dog peeing)

What a great idea! We knew it wasn't going to taste good, but $10 for a party? Awesome. But the tequila. is. awful. And I really like tequila. So we do the shots of tequila and chase it with a Blanco Basura beer. Hey! After that urine cleverly disguised as tequila, this beer is pretty good! We should totally buy this again! And again! And again! But really, Blanco Basura beer is not that good. So it sits and sits in my fridge for weeks... months even!

Until I decide enough is enough, I gotta get rid of this beer.

Beer bread is so good and so easy! It's hearty and a little sweet and gets rid of that crappy beer no one wants to drink. I've made beer bread with different kinds of beer, but I think lagers work the best. They give the least flavor. Bread is ok if it's a little yeasty, but you don't want it to be too strong. And you really don't want to waste good beer on bread! So use the cheap stuff leftover from that last party.

This recipe is easy and very basic. You can play around with sweetener, use some wheat flour, add butter, spices, cheese, whatever!

3 cups white flour
1.5 Tbsp baking soda
1.5 tsp salt
3 Tbsp sugar (if you want to substitute alternative sugars like honey, agave or molasses, I recommend using at least 1 Tbsp dry sugar)
12oz. beer

1. Preheat your oven to 350 and grease and flour a 5x9 inch loaf pan.
2. Whisk together all the dry ingredients.
3. Add the beer slowly while stirring with a wooden spoon. If you're adding a liquid sweetener, add half of the beer, then add the sweetener, then the rest of the beer. Stir the dough for about 2-3 minutes. The dough should be sticky.
4. Pour the dough into the prepared pan and bake for 45-55 minutes or until the top of the loaf begins to brown. The bread will rise quite a bit.
5. Remove from pan immediately and allow it to cool on a rack for at least 10 minutes (better if you can wait 30!) until cutting.
6. Enjoy alone or with butter and honey!

21 February 2011

Devil's Food Bat Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

It may seem like it's all pie, all the time in my kitchen, but that's not the case. Sometimes there's cake!

My birthday was earlier this month, and this clearly called for cake. I wanted to use my Christmas gift, the King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking book. Yes, you read that right: whole grain cake. This book has an entire chapter devoted to whole grain cakes (and other chapters for cookies, and pies, and oh my!), and I was dying to find out how delicious they could be. Don't worry, this cake is not health food!

What you need:
3/4 cup unsalted butter
1 cup packed light or dark brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp backing soda
4 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup plain low-fat or whole-milk yogurt
3/4 cup water

What you do:
Preheat the oven to 350. Grease and flour your pans (2 9-inch rounds, 3 8-inch rounds, or one 9x13).

Cream together the butter, sugars and salt in a large mixing bowl till fluffy and light, at least 5 minutes. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flours, cocoa and baking soda. Make sure there are no lumps.

Add the eggs to the butter mixture one at a time, beating well (at least a full minute) after each addition. Mix in the vanilla. Add half the flour mixture and mix until evenly combined. Add the yogurt and water, and mix again. Add the remaining flour, mix, and stop to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl once more, to make sure the batter is evenly moistened. Pour the batter into the prepared pans.

Bake the cakes for 30-35 minutes if making a layer cake, or 35-40 minutes if making sheet cake. Remove from the oven and cool for 15 minutes before removing from the pan. Place on a rack to cool completely before frosting.

For the frosting!
I used the frosting from the carrot cake recipe in the same cook book. To make it, let 1 8-oz package of cream cheese and 6 tbs of butter get to room temperature, then cream them together with 1 tsp of vanilla until light and fluffy. Then add (gradually!) 4 cups of confectioner's sugar. To get the intense blue color seen in the picture, add an entire bottle of blue food coloring. Noel (my partner in cake crime!) was not the biggest fan of this frosting, but I thought it was great. More cakes with different frosting are in the future!

The usual response when I mentioned that this cake is whole wheat: "Sweet, I can have another piece!" I can not recommend the KAF cookbooks enough for baking; they are reliable, and prioritize making delicious baked goods above all other considerations. I can't wait to try more whole wheat cakes!

20 February 2011

Orange Ginger Muffins

Makes 12 muffins.

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup canola oil
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup orange juice (about 2 oranges if using freshly squeezed)
1 tablespoon navel orange zest (about 1 orange)
2 teaspoons fresh minced ginger
3 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup coarsely chopped toasted pecans

Place rack in center of oven and preheat to 375 degrees F. Spray a 12 mold regular size muffin pan with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In a separate bowl, whisk together oil, egg, and juice. Add the orange zest, ginger, honey, and vanilla, and whisk until just combined. Add to the flour mixture and stir quickly until well combined. Fold in the pecans. Spoon the batter evenly into the 12 molds.

Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until the tops are golden and a cake tester inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack to cool for 5 minutes before removing each muffin and placing on a wire rack to cool.

02 February 2011

Butternut Squash, Spinach and Bread Salad


1 butternut squash

1 small onion or ½ large onion

½ to 1 bunch spinach

about ¼ a loaf of preferably rustic bread

Asiago cheese



Peel and chop the butternut squash into one-inch cubes. Toss with salt and olive oil and roast at 450 F until tender when pierced by a fork, about 30 to 40 minutes.

Chop onion and sauté on medium for 10 minutes. Add garlic and cook another 5 minutes until onions are tender. You can also cook until onions are caramelized.

Chop day-old (or older, as long as it isn’t moldy) bread into cubes. Toast in a skillet with a bit of olive oil until a bit brown.

Chop spinach into ribbons. Toss all the cooked ingredients and spinach together in a bowl. The heat of the squash will slightly cook the spinach. Add cheese, salt and pepper to your taste.