Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Pumpkin Muffins!

I thought a little bit of sweetness was needed in my office today, so I decided to bring in pumpkin muffins for our legal department meeting. Last weekend we went to the Harvest Festival in Red Hook, run by Added Value community farm, which works with at-risk youth to teach them urban farming and business skills. Very cool. So we picked Sophie out of the pumpkin patch and brought her home to roast. I have a feeling that one of the secrets to this recipe adaptation is that I used freshly roasted pumpkin puree that had been seasoned with salt AND pepper. Sophie was intended for a soup, not muffins, but I had so much puree left (and still do!) that I just used the soup puree. I think they turned out really well--moist & sweet. All reports confirm my assessment so far (except that D, the real judge, hasn't tried his yet!).

Pumpkin Oat Bran Muffins

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup oats
1/4 cup bran flakes
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tsp each of cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and ginger
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
2 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
15 oz pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 12-cup muffin tin, or line with paper baking liners. In a medium bowl, combine flour, oats, bran, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and spices. Set aside. In a large bowl, mix butter, eggs, sugars, pumpkin, and vanilla until combined. Gradually add dry ingredients to pumpkin mixture, and mix gently until smooth. Spoon batter into prepared muffin pan, filling three-fourths full. You can press a pecan into the top, or you can add 1/2 cup of chopped pecan. I kept a bunch nut-free for a colleague at work I knew would like them, but is allergic to nuts. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Cool in pan for 2 minutes. Remove to wire rack. Makes about 18 nice-sized muffins. I drizzled mine with a cinnamon-sugar glaze made with confectioner's sugar mixed with a little bit of milk and cinnamon, and then tossed some chopped pecans on top.

Harvest Festival Dinner

Last weekend, despite a nagging cold, I bundled up and went with D to the Added Value Harvest Festival in Red Hook, Brooklyn. I try to go every year, even though I've been disappointed for the past three because they never brought back the petting goats and shaggy sheep. (They did have petting chickens, but petting chickens is very hard. This I know.) Added Value is this awesome repurposed lot in Red Hook that's now a community garden run by folks who work with at-risk kids teaching them both urban farming skills and business stuff. Check out more info on Added Value here. Because we're away for Hallowe'en this year, the pumpkin chose from the pumpkin patch (affectionately named "Sophie" by some kid who wrote her name on the pumpkin with magic marker) was destined for the oven. I scooped out Sophie's insides, roasted the pumpkin, and then roasted the seeds. I made pumpkin soup, and this recipe for pork tenderloin that I found online. We served this with some sauteed carrots D made seasoned just with salt and pepper. It was delicious. Now onto those pumpkin-pecan muffins....

Pork Tenderloin with Pumpkin-Seed Sauce

4 canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, chopped, plus 2 tbsp. sauce
1/4 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
2 lbs. pork tenderloin
3/4 cup hulled pumpkin seeds
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon pumpkin-seed oil

In a small bowl, combine chiles, sauce, orange juice, and sugar. Put pork in a baking dish and add marinade, turning pork to coat. Cover and refrigerate for up to three days, or just overnight. Preheat oven to 375°. Toast pumpkin seeds on a baking sheet until they have popped and are just starting to brown, 7 to 11 minutes. Let cool. In a food processor, whirl 1/2 cup of seeds into a paste. Heat grill to medium-high. Grill pork, turning once, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into center reads 160°, about 10 minutes per side. Or you can cook in a cast-iron pan and pop in the oven at 500 degrees until done as well as you'd like it. Let rest 10 to 15 minutes. Reserve juices. Meanwhile, in a medium pan over medium heat, combine pumpkin seed paste, cream, garlic, chile powder, and salt. Cook, whisking until thickened, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in reserved pork marinade juices. Slice pork into 1/2-in. medallions. Drizzle with sauce and pumpkin-seed oil and garnish with remaining 1/4 cup toasted pumpkin seeds.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Excess Phyllo Dough

Cleaning out the freezer, I realized we have two packages of frozen phyllo dough just hanging out in there. I decided to make one of our favorite dishes: Green Lentil Kulbyaka. It's D's birthday this week, so I decided to spruce it up a bit and make the lentils a little spicer, and add spinach to the mix. Unfortunately, I forgot to defrost the phyllo in time, so I had to buy yet a third package. I'll have to make this dish again soon.

Lentil-Spinach-Mushroom Kulbyaka

1 cup lentils
2 bay leaves
2 onions, sliced
5 cups chicken stock
3/4 cup butter
1 1/4 cup long grain rice
salt and black pepper
dash of cayenne pepper
4 tbsp parsley
4 tbsp dill
1 beaten egg
8 oz sliced mushrooms
4 hardboiled eggs
1 cup cooked spinach
8 sheets of phyllo
4 cloves of garlic

Soak the lentils for about 30 minutes; drain and simmer with bay leaves, one chopped onion, and half the stock for 25 minutes or until cooked and thick. Season well, and set aside.

Sautee the remaining chopped onion in another saucepan with some butter for about 5 minutes. Stir in the rice and the rest of the stock. Season, bring to a boil, and then cover and cook gently until it's no longer crunchy. Leave stand uncovered once cooked for about 5 minutes before stirring in the fresh herbs. Cool, then beat in the raw egg.

Sautee the mushrooms in butter until they are just soft. Set aside to cool.

Sautee spinach with chopped garlic until just soft. Set aside to cool.

Chop the four hardboiled eggs and set aside.

Brush the inside of a large round ovenproof dish with more butter. Lay the sheets of phyllo in it, covering the base and making sure that enough of the pastry overhangs the sides so that you can fold it over the center. Brush well with butter in between overlapping the pastry. Use no less than 8 sheets of phyllo.

Into the pastry lining, layer rice, lentil, egg, spinach, and mushrooms at least twice.

Bring sheets of pastry over the filling, scrunching the top into attractive folds. Brush all over with the rest of the butter and set aside to chill and firm up.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. When ready, bake kulbyaka for about 45 minuts until golden and crisp. Allow to stand for 10 minutes before you cut and serve it.

We serve ours with a yogurt sauce seasoned with salt, pepper, cumin and chopped herbs.