Saturday, July 6, 2013

Pumpkin Brownies

Recently we had a whole lot of extended family visit and decided to hold something of a country potluck to give them a taste, literally, of how we live. These brownies have sold out in countless bake sales and are almost always a favorite. I was shocked that I hadn't already logged them here. Due to some of my family's lactose intolerance I omitted any cream cheese, but a cream cheese glaze or icing pairs wonderfully with this. Instead, I topped it with a sprinkle of confectioner's sugar and chopped pecans.

You will need:

3 eggs
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
3 tbsp butter, melted
1 tbsp baking powder
1 cup flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice, or a mix of cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and clove

Set the oven to bake at 350. Combine your moist ingredients together first, then sift the dry ones into the mix. Finish by beating the spices in well. Grease a "9x"9 baking pan and put it in the oven for 25-30 minutes. Take it out to cool and then decorate. Simple!

Penne No. 4

I picked this recipe up from one of my Italian colleagues when he was feeling homesick during a teaching session. We had a hell of at time finding the ingredients, but I got to perfect the recipe when I got home. This pairs especially well with baked salmon or grilled chicken on top.

You will need:

About a cup and a half of dry penne pasta
Salted water

1 lemon
1/4 tsp red chili flakes
2-4 tablespoons melted butter or olive oil
3 small or 2 large garlic cloves, chopped finely
1/3 cup sun dried tomatoes, ideally preserved in oil and chopped
1/2 cup chopped salted pistachio nuts
salt to taste
1/3 cup white cooking wine
Fresh grated parmesan cheese

Boil the pasta until it's fully done and strain, then set aside.

Take the butter or oil and put it into a large skillet over medium heat and add the garlic. Stir it around for a few minutes until it just starts to brown, then add the pasta, pepper and the juice from 1/2 to the whole lemon, depending on how tart you like it and how much you're making. I usually stick with a half. Turn the heat down just a tad, to medium-low.

Add the pistachios, tomatoes and salt after allowing the pasta to cook for about 7-10 minutes, or until sides of it are just starting to turn golden, pour in the wine. Let that cook off for about three minutes, then turn the heat off completely, stir the pasta one last time, and put a lid on the skillet. Allow the pasta to finish cooking itself for at least ten minutes.

Serve hot with parmesan cheese on top, or chicken, or fish, whatever strikes your fancy. In the summer months, fresh basil is a marvelous addition to this dish, and if you want to change it up you can substitute dried red peppers for sun dried tomatoes.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Spicy Vegetarian Sriracha Rolls

I made these when a craving for spring rolls just wouldn't quit and I wanted to add some punch to my regular egg roll recipe. My fiance also enjoys spicy food so I decided to utilize my big bottle of sriracha. This one is time and cleaning intensive but worth it, especially for a large group of people. This recipe serves 6-8 people.

You will need: 3 cups finely shredded cabbage
1 cup grated carrot
1 cup cooked mung bean threads or cellophane vermicelli
1 egg
1/2 lb tofu, chopped into small pieces
2 tbsp tamari or soy sauce
1/8 cup chopped scallions
1 1/2 tbsp sugar or 2 tbsp duck sauce
1-2 tbsp Sriracha, depending on how spicy you like it
1 pack egg roll wrappers vegetable oil for frying
small bowl of water for wrapping egg rolls
a greased cookie sheet or other flat nonstick surface

 Start by boiling the mung bean threads until they're clear and flexible, anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes. Remove them from the water with a strainer and chop into short pieces with a knife. Set them aside.

 Using salted water, boil the cabbage and carrots together for about 5 minutes. Strain and allow them to dry for a few minutes. Mix them with the chopped mung bean threads and set the mixture aside to cool for a few minutes.

 Take the tamari, duck sauce, sriracha, scallions, tofu, egg and put them into the cabbage mixture. Mix until they're even and make sure the noodles don't stick together. Set the bowl near your wrapping station. Start heating the oil to medium.

Put a small amount -- a mound about the size of a golf ball -- in the center of the wrap. With one corner pointing at you and the other pointing away like a diamond, take the bottom corner and tuck it up and around the filling. Securely fold the two side corners in, making sure to seal the filling inside well. Apply a little water with your finger to the top corner of the roll and continue rolling up, using water to seal any openings. Set onto a greased surface. Rinse your hands and repeat until they're all rolled. You can find videos online of how to roll spring or egg rolls which may be more helpful than my description. Practice also makes perfect.

 Fry them each until golden brown, setting them onto paper towels immediately after taking them out of the oil. Make sure to drain them well and get rid of any pockets of oil. Each roll should take about 3-5 minutes, and you can cook up to 3 at a time depending on the size of your pan. Serve with tamari, duck sauce or plum sauce. These are pretty versatile, and the egg can be omitted in vegan circumstances. Enjoy!