Cranberry Crumb Muffins


So, these were supposed to be those blueberry muffins that came in out in the NYTimes last week – that new recipe with the smashed blueberries in it. Only when I went to the freezer to get the blueberries, I forgot himself had been making smoothies and….yeah, you see where this is going. But, because my poor long-suffering husband is awesome, he said, “what about cranberries? You have those.” Indeed. And they’re nice and tangy, to boot!

So a little tweak here and there, add some crumb topping and serve with some marmelade! Yum!!

That is kumquat marmelade, from my friend K’s tree, btw. Never made it before – turned out a bit thin, but yummy! (The interwebs tell me I overcooked it a bit and so killed some the pectin from the seeds. Sigh.) I’d never seen kumquats like those, turns out they are a hybrid with a mandarin orange and are called Fukushu. Those little fruits were so pretty, too. The peel itself was sweet. Amazeballs.

Well – lets bake! These cook under half an hour, and are gorgeous and slightly sweet. If you have some marmelade, it takes it to a whole new level.

Cranberry Crumb Muffins (yield 12-ish)

Preheat oven to 375. Line twelve muffin cups.

For the crumb topping:

1 stick unsalted butter
¾ c. sugar
¼ tsp salt
1 ½ c. AP flour
1 Tbsp corn starch
Melt the butter in a microwave-safe bowl. Stir in the rest of the ingredients until it’s crumbly. Set aside.

For the muffins:
In the mixer on low until it looks like fine crumbs.
1 stick unsalted butter
2 tsp. lemon zest
1 ¼ c. sugar
2 c. AP flour
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp salt

Add in, and then mix on medium high for a minute or two until thick and fluffy.
2 eggs
½ c. buttermilk or plain yogurt
1 tsp. vanilla

Stir in:
2 c. fresh cranberries (not sweetened dried!).

Spoon in to lined muffin cups, top with the crumb mix and bake for 20-25 minutes until golden and a tester comes out clean.

These are so yummy – lots of good feedback (nyuk!) from the neighbors.

Pecan Bars – Nutty Salty Caramel Goodness

Here’s some really good advice. Do not make a batch of your favorite cookie if you are home alone on a rainy day. Do. Not. Holy shit, y’all. Seriously. I’ve eaten three of these and had to force myself to stop. Three doesn’t sound like much, does it? But these are buttery rich little tiles of heaven and one would be perfect for a normal person.

I’ve never made these before – so why now? We had a cookie potluck at work the week before Christmas; one of my co-workers brought in some of his girlfriend’s pecan bars. Oh, lawdee lawd. They were so good. Crunchy base, caramely salty pecan topping. I have not been able to get them out of my mind for three weeks. That, plus the fact that my mom gave me three pounds of pecans, and you can see why I had to make these.

The interwebs garnered many a recipe, and pecan PIE bars appears to be the preferred nomenclature. But I don’t want a gooey top, I don’t want a pecan pie. I want that toasty nutty chewy sticky caramel taste. I found an awesome recipe at Shockingly Delicious – which of course I had to tweak.

My one take away from this, though? Grease that pan. Then, when you think you are done, grease it some more. This is serious sugary sticky shit.

Pecan Bars

Preheat the oven to 350*. Heavily grease a rectangular cake pan – 9”x13”x2”. Line it with parchment or foil, à la Alton Brown brownie hammock. You’ll need those edges as handles to lift them out after baking.
In the mixer with the paddle attachment, mix:
2 c AP flour
2/3 c powdered sugar
1 ½ sticks butter
½ tsp salt
When it looks like crumbs, it’s done. Dump the mix in the bottom of the pan. Smooth it out. Then, cover it with a sheet of plastic wrap or wax paper and use the bottom of a jar or glass to smoosh it down. Be sure to put a little lip up all the sides and especially the corners. Remove the wrap, and bake it about 20m until it’s set, but not brown. (This would also be a fun kid part – smooshing it down with their hands.)

While it is baking, combine in a heavy 2 quart sauce pan on medium heat:
½ c. plus 2 Tbsp brown sugar
1/3 c. honey
¼ c. corn syrup
14 Tbsp butter (two sticks minus two Tbsp)
½ tsp salt.
3 Tbsp. heavy cream (I used coconut/almond coffee creamer)
Stirring frequently, bring the mix to a low boil – it will get all foamy and lighten a bit in color.
Remove from the heat til the crust is done.

When the crust comes out of the oven, spread out on top:
3 1/2 cups pecan halves or pieces
Even pour the caramel mixture over them. Make sure everything is well-distributed, then all back in the oven for another 25-ish minutes. It will be bubbly and a little darker when it’s done.

Cool completely, lift it out of the pan and slice in small squares. Sprinkle with some good flaked salt, like a kosher salt or fleur de sel.

These will keep in an air-tight tin for quite a while. If they last that long.

Meyer Lemon Cake

Himself came home from work one day a week ago. Said his co-worker brought some lemons from his tree, because at this time of year in the desert, citrus is the currency that zucchini enjoys in the summer. As in, here’s-a-bag-of-it-dear-god-please-take-some-now-I-can’t-fit-any-more-in-my-fridge. When I got near the bag, I could smell them. No, it couldn’t be. I opened the bag, and yup. Sure as shit, there in their incredibly fragrant, golden finery – a bag of Meyer lemons.

What treasure! “Those are Meyer lemons!” I exclaimed, disbelieving my good fortune. “What?” He responded. “What, is that special or something?” Sigh. But I do love him, Pa. And they are so very special. Super fragrant, thin-skinned, super juicy. YUM!

Then that begs the question, how to use them best? I scoured the interwebs, asked my friends. And finally decided on a lemon cake. This is a meyer lemon adaptation of Ina’s lemon cake.

At the first bite, you will not believe this is made with AP and not cake flour. It has a lovely, fine crumb. You really must make this. It is amazeballs.

Meyer Lemon Cake
Cake:
2 sticks butter
2 c. sugar
zest and juice of 4 Meyer lemons
2 c. AP flour
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp. salt
4 eggs
¾ c. buttermilk or plain yogurt
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Glaze:
½ c. lemon juice
½ c. sugar

Garnish:
Pearl sugar

Preheat oven to 350*, grease and flour two 8” loaf pans, then line them with parchment.
Whip the butter with the paddle attachment on your mixture until it is smooth. Add in the dry (sugar, flour, leavening, salt, zest). Mix on medium until it looks like damp sand. Add the eggs, vanilla, buttermilk, and ¼ c. of the lemon juice. Mix again on medium, then high for about a minute or two until it lightens in color and looks almost fluffy. Divvy it up between the pans, then give each a good whack to get rid of any big bubbles before baking.
Bake 50-ish minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.Once the cakes come out of the oven, make the glaze (either stove top, or in the microwave.) I zap the lemon juice and sugar 30 seconds at a time, stirring in between, until clear. While the cakes are still warmish, take them out of the pan and set them on a cooling rack with a cookie tray underneath. Brush the warm glaze on the cake in several passes, waiting for it to absorb one pass before doing the next. After the last pass, sprinkle with the pearl sugar. Let cool, then slice and consume.

Roast Butternut Soup

I know, I know. ANOTHER butternut squash recipe? I should be getting some kind of commission from the Butternut Council of America. I am so googling to see if that exists after I finish this post.

So, you know what they say. Soup: it’s what’s for dinner. Or at least, that’s what my poor, long-suffering husband says every time there’s a grey sky. Besides – Costco had two packs of these bad boys. On a cold day, this is a win/win, people.


Roasting concentrates the flavor and brings out the sweetness of the veg. Add some earthiness with the celery and the thyme, and the tartness from the apple, and this is simple goodness all around. Shall we?

Roast Butternut Squash Soup
1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed
½ large (or one small) white onion, large dice
1 small green apple, peeled and diced
1 stalk celery, diced
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tsp. dried thyme
S&P
1 ½ to 2 quarts chicken (or veg) stock.

Toss together everything but the stock on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Roast 375* for about an hour
The last twenty minutes, bring one quart of the stock to boil, then reduce to simmer to keep it hot. When the squash et al are done (fork tender, nicely caramelized), toss it all in the pot. The stock should just cover everything (add more if needed). Take a stick blender to it, puree, consume. Add more stock if you’d like a thinner soup.

Or – keep the squash in the fridge, and bring to boil and puree later when you’re ready to eat. It’ll keep in the fridge for several days (as will the soup once it’s done.) If you freeze this one, expect some water separation at the thaw. You can do it, I just wouldn’t recommend it.


I garnished mine with a little greek yogurt and some toasted walnut – butter would also be delish.

P. S. That Butternut Council of America does not exist. I must confess to being disappointed, although another smartass food blogger had the same idea back in 2013. So there’s that.

The Yum’s Top Posts 2016


2016. It’s been a slog of year, honestly.
I removed my self-imposed deadline of a post a week, so this year saw only 20 or so recipes and about 5,000 views, which brings the historical total to 15,000. Inspiration has been elusive, and it is, alas, the impetus for a new recipe worthy to shoot and write about.
I still have the goal of self-publishing a cook book. I still have the goal of increasing readership without resorting to all those awful, grasping ads so many foodbloggers whore themselves out for. We’ll see, I guess. If I could find a way to unobtrusively and tastefully do them, I may be forced to eat some crow. Himself would love to see my hobby offset some of its own costs.

But the food! Far and away, my favorite recipe this year was the tacos de camotes. The interwebs had a different take, though. The lemon pistachio scones were finally edged out of the top three. (Two years running ain’t bad, gals. Good job!) This year’s top are:

Mini Oven Omelettes
Sweet Potato and Kale Skillet
Cucumber Watermelon Salad

The omelettes, of course, have five times the number of hits as each of the others (since they were picked up in an article at Daily Burn about a year and a half ago.) But hell, who knows why one thing hits more than others. Maybe it’s just the red plates.

Let us see where 2017 takes us. I wish us all health, happiness, prosperity and balance. And thanks, you guys. It is just lovely to share with others who also love to eat good stuff.
Brightest blessings for the coming year,
KPM

Corn Green Chile Sablés

Out provisioning on the weekend, I saw some P.A.N. flour – I’ve never cooked with it, but my friend L. has talked about using it for arepas. When I looked at the sandy texture of it, I immediately thought of sables. And you know how in those biscotti with the black pepper, or with pfefferneuse, or even a really strong ginger cookie there is that little surprise of heat that is just lovely with the sweet cookie crunch? I wondered how that corn flour would taste with a little pop of hot green chili. I wanted it with orange zest, but there was lime in the fridge…..
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These came together easily – the dough is crumbly but sticks together with a little squeeze. At slicing time (three hours later – might improve overnight?), they were still crumbly but smooshed back together. Baked like a dream.
Had himself taste them, after rolling his eyes at seeing the chile. “That’s weird. But good. But weird.” as he reached for a second and then a third cookie.
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This was a trial for the annual Christmas cookie run – not sure they’ll make the cut for that, but I do think I’ll make these again. They are much, much lighter than I thought they’d be, and that spicy-sweet action keeps us both reaching for the cookie plate.
If you make them, post how it goes!!
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Corn Green Chile Sablés
Yield: 2 ½ dozen spicy-sweet goodies
In your mixer, combine:
2/3 c. sugar
2 c. P.A.N. white corn flour
¼ tsp. salt
zest of half a lime
Cube ¾ c. cold unsalted butter, and mix it in until the mixture ressembles fine moist crumbs.
Add ½ tsp. vanilla extract
2 egg yolks
Beat until combined.
Stir in 1/3 c. chopped roasted hot green chile.

Roll up like a log 2” in diameter, and refrigerate the dough a couple hours or overnight.
Preheat the oven to 375*, and line cookie sheets with parchment. Slice in to ½” rounds (you may need to smoosh them back in to shape), sprinkle with some (sparkle) sugar, smoosh it gently in to the top of the cookie with your palm or a the bottom of a glass.
Bake 10-13 minutes, until set and just barely golden around the edges.

Chopped Satay Salad

Chopped Satay Salad
Salad with Satay Sauce
If you are like me, and when you go out for a specific kind of food – you order the same baseline item to gauge if you’ll like the rest: Chips and salsa, eggs benedict, fried rice, fish taco. When we go out for Vietnamese or Thai food, we always get the rice paper rolls and peanut sauce. Oh, that sauce. When it is good, I just want ask for a bowl of it and a spoon.
chopped salad with satay

It dawned on me this weekend that (duh!), there is probably a good recipe for it online. And there is – I made this recipe from SheSimmers.com, and it is AMAZEBALLS. Instead of just eating it with a spoon (and believe me, I can neither confirm nor deny that happened), I thought I’d get out the rice paper and make some spring rolls with tofu. Then as I was slicing the jalapeno and the cilantro, I got lazy and said ah, hell. I’m just going to make a chopped salad and dress it in the satay.
So tasty
Holy Peanut Sauce, y’all. This is yum. Just so much yum.
Make the sauce – it takes all of five minutes and you will be SO HAPPY.

Mix together:
1 c. chopped green cabbage
1 c. diced extra firm sprouted tofu
½ c. chopped broccoli
½ c. celery
½ c. diced jicama
½ c. diced cucumber
¼ c. diced red pepper
¼ c. chopped cilantro
2 radishes, sliced thin
¼ jalapeno, sliced thin
1/8 sweet onion, sliced thin
½ c. satay sauce
Toss it, serve with lime wedges and the sauce and some sesame seeds if you feel fancy.

If you don’t like tofu, do chicken. Or grilled fish or shrimp. Or,a add some cold rice vermicelli as a base. That would be delicious, too.

Tacos de Camotes (Sweet Potato Tacos)

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I toyed with some pretentious hipster title for this puppy – caramelized sweet potato tacos in a chipotle garlic emulsion. But, nah. This are simple and good – so tacos de camotes is much better. I want to try it with pumpkin, too. One day….. Anyway, if you get tired of turkey day leftovers in a couple of weeks, or want to use up that leftover sweet potato on the counter, or hell! Make an awesome first course to Thanksgiving dinner, these are ready to roll. Fast, easy and yummy. I can’t really say ‘no pica’, but the heat isn’t bad.
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These are crunchy and soft, tangy, sweet and spicy. Truly lovely.
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This is enough for two people as a main dish, or four for a side.

For the Taco filling:
2 large sweet potatoes, diced*
1/2 white onion, diced
1 Tbps. olive oil
garlic salt
For the chipotle emulsion:
2 large cloves garlic
1 tsp. Mexican oregano
2 whole chipotle peppers en adobo
2 Tbsp wine/cider/sherry vinegar
2 Tbsp olive olive
(A little water mixed with some adobo if needed)
And…..
Soft corn tortillas

*(diced means 1/2” cubes, people)
Preheat oven to 375*. Line a cookie sheet with parchment. spread out evenly the sweet potato and onion, drizzle with the olive oil. Sprinkle with the garlic salt.
Roast about 20-30 minutes, until really nicely caramelized.
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While that’s roasting, put the dressing ingredients in the blender and puree. You may need to add a little water/adobo sauce mix to get enough liquid to blend. Transfer to a bowl large enough to hold all the potato/onion mix when it comes out of the oven.
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When the potato/onion mix is done, remove from the oven and set aside just for a few minutes. (This lets the outside crust on the sweet potato cubes develop just a tidge more). Heat your tortillas and get your serving plate. Toss the hot sweet potato/onion mix in the chipotle emulsion, fill the tortillas and consume immediately.

These would be awesome with a smoked fontina cheese. Or avocado slices. Or even with some scrambled egg for an amazeballs breakfast taco. Or hell, underneath some poached eggs for that matter.

** This would also work with kabucha squash.
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Bon apétit

Butternut Coconut Curry Soup

November will be here in a few days. It is still ninety forking degrees here (You guys are all watching ‘The Happy Place’, right?) I am thoroughly disgusted. As Himself enjoys saying, “Love that global warming!” Oy. But still, that autumnal food urge is upon me. The markets are filled with winter squashes – butternut, acorn, turban, delicata, sweet dumpling, kabucha. Makes my head swim with happiness. I’ve got a cashew cream kabucha gratin idea floating in my mind, but it hasn’t fully formed yet. Maybe in a few weeks.
In the meantime, this behemoth of a butternut keeps winking at me every time I walk past it on the kitchen counter. It’s a four-pound giant. Gonna get two meals outta that mofo.
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I think the hard squashes scare off a lot of people. Did you know you can peel him with a vegetable peeler? (Mainly because it isn’t lumpy like an acorn.) Goes quickly, and you can peel and cube him in a few minutes – toss half in a ziplock in the fridge to make a couple days later. Here, check it out.
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This and a big salad, and dinner is done. Or, if you’re really hungry, a grilled cheese and fresh jalapeno sandwich would be awesome with this: melty crunchy spicy contrasting with slightly sweet and creamy. Such happiness!
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Butternut Coconut Curry Soup
3 stalks celery
½ white onion
2# (about six cups) butternut, peeled & in 1” cubes
2 Tbsp. oil or butter
3 Tbsp curry powder
1 (-ish) quart chicken (or veg) stock
Coconut milk, the full-fat kind.
Fried onions for garnish

Over medium heat, stir together the curry powder and oil. Let it get a little toasty (when you really smell the spices, time for the next step.) Ad the celery and onion, cook over medium until the onion is translucent around the edges. Add the squash and just barely cover with the chicken stock. (It if boils down, you can always add a little more. Harder to take it away if you do too much, though.) butternuecoco2med
Simmer on medium for about half an hour, until the squash is tender.
When it’s done, purée. (With a stick blender, in an actual blender (remember to allow for steam escape!), or in the food processor. It should be like loose mashed potatoes, almost thick enough to hold up a spoon. Return it to the pot, stir in about ¾ can of coconut milk just to heat it back up. Ladle in to bowls, garnish with a swirl of the remaining coconut milk and or fried onions.
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Bon apétit!

Cranberry Walnut Spice Scones

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Oh, it’s been a while my lovelies. I don’t think I’ve made scones in a year.
Mainly it’s Himself’s sugar restrictions, that plus reining myself in. But Fall is coming. Pumpkin spice lattes are saturating the atmosphere. Made some pumpkin bread last week for our respective offices, but then my contrary nature just refused to make a pumpkin scone.
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But, honestly, what is it about pumpkin pie, or pumpkin bread, or lattes – that orange bit itself is pretty tasteless. But the spice? Oh, yes. The spice. That’s where the magic is.
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These scones are light and just barely sweet. Perfect for slathering in butter and honey or orange marmelade. Makes 16 minis or 8 standard.
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Ingredients
1 ¾ c. AP flour
¼ c. sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
½ c. cold butter, cubed
¾ c. buttermilk
1 egg, separated –white lightly whisked.
½ tsp. vanilla extract
Sparkle sugar (or granulated sugar)

Preheat oven to 425*.
1. Line a standard size cookie sheet with parchment paper.
2. In a large bowl, mix the dry. Cube the cold butter and drop it in the dry mix. Cut it in until it is after pea-sized but not yet coarse crumb.
3. Stir in the nuts and cranberries.
4. Whisk together the egg yolk, vanilla and buttermilk.
5. Flour your counter, barely stir the liquid in to the dry, then put it on your floured counter to barely, gently work the dough to a cohesive ball. With plenty of flour on your hands, gently, gently flatten the ball in to a disc about 8″ across and 1″ high. (or, divide the ball in two and flatten both those in to discs about 1″ high). Heavily flouring your board knife or a large chef’s knife, cut the circle in to 8 triangles. (Or you can make two 6” discs for 16 minis.)
**A Karen lazy step here is, I actually put my parchment on the counter and use it to help form the dough, then cut the scones directly on it, and slide it on to the cookie sheet.
6. Brush the tops and backs (not the sides) with the egg white, sprinkle with sparkle sugar.
7. Bake 425* 15-18 mins until golden brown.
8. Cool slightly, slather in butter and munch.
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