Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Apples, apples everywhere.

I have been a bit of a nomad this summer, with no kitchen to call my own.  I am quite looking forward to cooking and baking again when I finally settle in Boston this weekend.  So, the recipe I'm posting today is an oldie but a goodie.

Last autumn I lived in Sacramento near my friend Samantha, who had an apple tree in her back yard.  She and her mother and I tried to think of as many ways as possible to make use of the apples - apple spice cakes, apple butter, apple crisps.  This was my favorite variation: apple cinnamon cupcakes with homemade vanilla frosting.  Because one of my co-workers was lactose intolerant, I made them vegan as well - don't worry, they tasted so delicious that no one even knew the difference.  Except for my co-worker's intestines, of course.

Without further ado, the recipe:

~ Grate two cups of apples (keep the skins for texture).  
~ Put them in a big pot and begin heating it on the stove.  Then, as it heats, add two cups of sugar, two cups of water, one cup of butter/butter substitute, and around two teaspoons of cinnamon and nutmeg, depending on how much you like cinnamon and nutmeg.  Put in some ground cloves if you have them. 
~ Heat it all until it boils, then take it off the stove to cool. 
~ Add three cups of flour and two teaspoons of baking soda slowly, mixing well.  
~ Put in the oven at 350 degrees for ten-fifteen minutes.  Check if they're done by pressing on the tops.  If they bounce back, they are!

The frosting is just three cups powdered sugar, a quarter teaspoon vanilla, one third cup butter/butter substitute, and two tablespoons milk/milk substitute.  Mix until it's nice and smooth and then spread as much as you want on the top of your cupcakes.  You can sprinkle a bit of cinnamon or cinnamon-sugar on top for show.

Makes 24.  Enjoy!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

2 1/2 Things to Do with Summer Squash: An inaugural post from the Brooklyn Kitchen.

So, I have been left all by my lonesome this week in our lovely new apartment with its lovely (newish) not-quite-lived-in kitchen, and thus have had to entertain myself. I'd throw a hand across my forehead and cry out 'woe is me!' but for the fact that said entertainment has generally meant cooking nice healthy things and watching movies afterward.

So, after a while I got bored and went off to Manhattan to poke around bookstores, and wandered over to the Union Square farmer's market to buy myself summer squash and 'taters, because I had been dying to try smitten kitchen's Summer Squash and Potato Torte. And not just because it gave me an excuse to use my new mandoline, but that was a nice bonus. Halved the recipe which nicely filled a round baking dish, and popped it in the oven.

Delicious. And really wonderful the next day, too. (Just the thing to eat while making fun of America's Next Top Model. Take that, matchstick girls, I am eating food that is delicious!) My one note would be to let it go a little longer uncovered, til everything is nice and crisp. And maybe a little garlic, but really? Utterly worth it, and on my list of favorite things forever. COOK THIS.

Here is a picture before it went in the oven. How pretty! There are no afterward pictures, because I was hungry.

summer squash and potato torte

A couple days later, I had an Adventure. Or maybe more of a mad scientist moment. This is the 1/2 thing to do with squash. I took it into my head, after much reading of blogs and thought about what to do with the limited resources in our pantry, that Summer Squash Fritters were a good idea. And I hold by this. Just not quite the way I made see, we had no binding agents in the place to make the batter hold, and so after throwing some flour and herbs and spices together, I just dipped the slices of squash in butter and smished 'em in the flour. Figured, get the oil hot enough, it'll totally work!

Did I not get the oil hot enough? Or was it the butter and squash juices releasing that caused a gross squishy brown substance to form on the bottom of the pan? Whatever it was, it a) didn't quite work out as planned and b) set off the smoke detector. What a fun way to meet one's neighbors! It turns out the trick with our smoke detector (as I found out, our vent fan is not, in fact, ventilated...) is to stick a fan underneath it, or move the damn thing to another room.

So I let the Horrible Ugly Mess sit there and think over it's crimes, and switched over to a clean pan with less oil, to finish off the squash-thingies which, despite the horror of the pan they came from , were quite salvageable. I figure I'll try again later, probably with panko and an actual binder, and all will be well. Still, they were nice tasting and went decently well with greens and pasta at the end of the chaos. (Stir fried the kale and chard til the kale was crispy, a la Cora, and then with some sesame oil and garlic & herb mix) I made a gin and lemonade to soothe my ruffled feathers, and all was well. As my mom would say, I get an A+ for color, at least.


Yesterday's experiment was surpassingly sucessful, however! Little bit of butter, some garlic, some House Spice Mix (that garlic & herb stuff we all know and love...) and some sliced squash and string beans. The string beans and summer squash play very well together, balancing out with different kinds of savory-sweetness and texture-- soft squash, crisp-tender beans. These over penne pasta with some olive oil and fresh grated parmesan. Needed salt, and a little garlic powder I added later, but a lovely light delicious dinner. Quick, too!


We went to the farmer's market last week, and came home with acres of kale and chard and assorted other yummy things, but wouldn't you know it, Letty went off to NH, leaving me to consume VAST AMOUNTS OF GREENS before they went squishy. Lots of stir fry later, it is all eaten. I kind of feel accomplished for that alone. And for finally starting this blog.

So, what have you guys been cooking recently?


Also note: Don't blog about food on a bus when you didn't have time to buy lunch before getting on said 4 hour long bus ride to Boston. I am a fool.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Tasting, tasting, 123

Space pantries!