Archives for posts with tag: olive oil

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I could not get through the fall without posting about something or other involving pumpkin now could I?

I remember when, for about a month one fall during college, it was de rigueur in the shared house I lived in to make various versions of milkshakes with pumpkin pie. That’s right. Just toss a slice of pumpkin pie into the blender with your milk, ice cream, and whatever else you wanted whirling around in there. I was not a participant in this particular culinary extracurricular (I may have missed out), but I do like a) eating lots of pumpkin in things this time of year and b) a sense of adventure when it comes to new food combinations.

The following is a simple and not overly sweet recipe for loaf bread (or muffins if you’d prefer) that my mom shared with me earlier this month when I was visiting her in North Carolina. It does not involve pie or ice cream or a blender, but is super easy to make, can employ many substitutions to suit what you have on hand, and makes for a great breakfast spread with a thin layer of peanut butter (but that’s just me).

Instead of olive oil, which my mom’s recipe called for, I made it with coconut oil this time and it turned out great. For the 1/2 cup sugar (the original recipe called for 1 cup, I’ve reduced by half and it’s just right in my opinion), you could use honey, maple syrup, white sugar, brown sugar. This version I made with brown sugar. And as for the spices, up to you. This time I used pumpkin pie spice because it contains ginger and lemon peel in addition to nutmeg, cinnamon, and allspice. If you’re gluten free I imagine you could use a gf flour here. And next time I’d like to try chopped walnuts or dark chocolate chips. I can’t decide. (Maybe I should just throw it all in a blender.)

I brought the cake into work this morning and it got gobbled up pretty quickly. I managed to snap this pic of it before it was all gone.

[An aside: I’d love to try this recipe from Minimalist Baker for vegan pumpkin bread, with a pumpkin cashew frosting.]

Pumpkin Spice Bread

1 1/2 c flour
1/2 c sugar (could be brown sugar, maple syrup, etc.)
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (or 1/2 tsp each allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon)
1/2 tsp salt
1 c pumpkin puree
1/2 olive oil (or coconut oil)
1/4 c water
2 large eggs, beaten
1/2 c chopped walnuts, optional (or chocolate chips, pecans, cranberries, etc.)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Grease and flour a loaf pan or muffin tins. Set aside.

Sift together the dry ingredients in a medium bowl. In a separate, large bowl, mix all the wet ingredients together. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and gently combine. (Add the nuts, chocolate chips, etc. at this point if you’re using.) Be careful not to over mix. Transfer to the loaf pan or muffin tins and bake for 45–50 minutes if using a loaf pan; less if muffins (my guess would be 20–25 minutes, just keep your eye on them). They’re done when a thin skewer or toothpick comes out clean. Rest in the pan for 10 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool.

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Fall and baking go together like birthdays and cupcakes; Brooklyn and BAM; your right and left shoe. Or, turns out, pears and polenta.

As soon as the weather turns crisp I want to be in my kitchen on a Saturday with the oven on, music playing (well, really, NPR Saturday programming), and time on my hands to knead, stir, blend, bake. There’s something comforting and satisfying about making pies, cakes, and muffins using the last of the year’s good local produce.

A few weeks ago I was at a dinner party and my lovely friend served this easy-to-make polenta-pear-olive oil cake. She couldn’t have known, but those are three of my favorite ingredients and the combination was a revelation. I’ve had olive oil cake before, and maybe even cornmeal olive oil cake, but never with the addition of pear. The olive oil produces a crispy crust-like top that provides a satisfying crunch.

The recipe is from Lucy Waverman—”the Melissa Clark of Canada” is how my friends, the dinner party hosts who are from Montreal, described her. She writes a regular column for The Globe and Mail newspaper and I’m happy to have discovered her simple and seasonal recipes!

This is a snap to make and you’re sure to love it. It’s not too sweet to begin with but you could even reduce the sugar a little bit like I did. Would also make great muffins, just reduce the cooking time. Oh and if you don’t want to poach your own pears you can use canned pears and just reduce the canned pear syrup.

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Polenta, Pear & Olive Oil Cake
From Lucy Waverman, The Globe & Mail

For the poached pears

1 cup water
½ cup sugar
¼ cup honey
1 star anise, broken up, optional
1 1-inch piece cinnamon stick
2 pears, peeled, quartered and cored

For the cake

1¼ cup polenta or cornmeal
¾ cup all-purpose flour [I used half whole-wheat flour and half white]
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup butter, softened
¼ cup honey
1/3 cup sugar [I used 1/4 cup sugar]
½ teaspoon vanilla
2 whole eggs plus 1 egg yolk
3 tablespoons olive oil

For the poached pears:

Combine water, sugar, honey, star anise and cinnamon stick in a small pot and bring to boil. Add pears. Simmer gently for 15 to 20 minutes or until tender and a knife slides in easily. Remove from heat and let cool in poaching liquid. Remove from pot, reserving ½ cup poaching liquid. Chop pears and pat dry with a paper towel.

Preheat oven to 325 F.

For the cake:

Butter and flour a loaf pan and line the base with parchment paper.

Combine polenta, flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Reserve.

Cream together butter, honey and sugar until light and fluffy. Add vanilla. Add eggs and yolk one at a time, beating well between each addition. Add reserved flour mixture and mix together until just combined. Stir in olive oil and fold in chopped poached pears.

Pour batter into prepared loaf pan and bake for 50 to 55 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes and remove from pan.

While cake is cooling, reduce reserved pear poaching liquid over medium heat for 5 minutes or until thick and syrupy.

Prick holes in warm cake and brush liberally with syrup.

This time last year I made these: Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls and Rustic Harvest Tart.

Did you hear that winter’s over…Last year’s miracles will soon be forgotten. New creatures whirl in from non-existence, galaxies scattered around their feet. Have you met them? -Rumi

One day this week—I think it was Thursday—I stepped outside of my apartment and noticed that each and every tree on my block had blossomed overnight. I was in Manhattan later that same day and sure enough, the trees there too were exploding with color, especially the pink magnolia blossoms, and white Callery pear flowers. There’s something about spring that takes the edge off of New York. Everything softens: the light, the colors, the clothing, the people. Suddenly there’s pink on the concrete, bare feet in sandals, and rainbow sprinkles dripping down ice cream cones.

Once again I was in the mood for the kind of spring dish that strikes the right balance for March: in like a lion, out like a lamb. Nothing too heavy, but nothing too summery crisp either. Something with color, but also a little bit of warmth. Warm salads tend to do the trick. I was flipping through my cookbooks for inspiration and this here is a riff on another Ottolenghi dish. A combination of chickpeas, sautéed carrots, caraway seeds, chard, mint, and cilantro, served with greek yogurt, olive oil, and pickled shallots.

And because tonight’s the season 5 Mad Men premiere, I leave you with one of my favorite Joan quotes: “But that’s life. One minute you’re on top of the world, the next minute some secretary’s running you over with a lawnmower.”

Chickpea Sauté with greek yogurt and pickled shallots
Serves 4

1 shallot, cut in slivers
4 tbsp rice wine vinegar
2 tbsp water
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 bunch of Swiss chard (300 g), stems and leaves separated
1 tbsp olive oil, plus more for serving
4 carrots, peeled and diced
1 tsp caraway seeds
1 c (250 g) cooked chickpeas
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tbsp chopped fresh herbs: mint and cilantro work well, or chervil, chives, flat-leaf parsley
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
salt and black pepper

6 oz (100 g) greek yogurt
1 tbsp olive oil

You want to do a quick pickle of your shallot: place the shallot slivers in a small jar and cover with the vinegar and water, and add the salt and sugar. (I also threw in some fresh thyme I had lying around.) Let sit at least 30 minutes.

Bring a big pot of salted water to boil and add the chard stems, cook for 2 minutes, then add the leaves, cooking everything for an additional 3 minutes. Drain the water and rinse the chard (stems and leaves) in very cold water. Squeeze dry and do a rough chop.

Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy saucepan. Add the carrots and caraway seeds and sauté for 5 minutes, then add the chard and chickpeas and continue cooking for an additional 6 minutes. Then add the garlic, herbs, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Remove from heat, adjust the seasoning.

To serve, combine the greek yogurt and olive oil with a bit of salt and pepper. Pile the vegetables onto serving dishes and spoon the yogurt mixture on top, drizzling with additional olive oil and scattering some pickled shallots on top.

Here are some photos of spring, from my neck of the woods…including: Long Island beach; Occupy Wall Street @ Union Square; @ Jay St.-MetroTech subway station; a friend’s little one, born on my birthday; more beauty on my block.

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