Pumpkin Cranberry Orange Pistachio Muffins, or P-COP’s for short

 PCOP Muffin

Tender crumb, full of chewy cranberry, tender pistachios and orange-y goodness. Made with the usual suspects (except the white chocolate – it didn’t make it in.)

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Preheat oven to 350°F. Line your muffin tins. Get out your ½ cup scoop and set it in a large glass of hot water. If you don’t have a scoop, a pair of soup spoons will do just dandy. Sift your dry ingredients on to a parchment sheet or flexible cutting board (to be able to easily add it to the wet later.)

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Beat the butter and sugar on medium-high until light and fluffy.

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 Add the eggs.COMegg

Then the vanilla, zest, pumpkin, and buttermilk.

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Next the cranberries and pistachios.

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Finally, stir in the flour mixture to just barely mix. Scoop the batter into the muffin liners, being sure to swirl the scoop (or spoons, use one to scoop the other to scrape the batter into the liner) in the hot water before each scoop.

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 Bake 25-30 minutes, until it passes the toothpick test.

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Cool, dust with powdered sugar before serving.

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Recipe here by Karen Maginnis, adapted from: http://whiteonricecouple.com/recipes/pumpkin-coffeecake-recipe/

Roasted Beet, Chèvre & Escarole Salad with Garlic Balsamic Vinaigrette

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Creamy goat cheese, earthy sweet beets and crunchy bitter escarole topped with a strong vinaigrette is one of my favorite salads.

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First up – the beets.  Peeled, cut into 8ths. Mixed with some olive oil, balsamic, salt, pepper and herbes de Provence.

BEbake3I roasted them for 45-60 minutes at 375, with a parchment hat. That probably has a technical chef name for it, but I don’t know what that is.  I still had to check halfway through and add some water. (When are they done? They’re like potatoes – test ’em with a fork.)  When they’re done, they’re hard to resist – little earthy bites of candy.

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While they cooled, I made the dressing:  Mix a teaspoon of good dijon mustard, a pressed garlic clove, salt, pepper and a 1/2tsp of sugar with 1/4 c. good balsamic vinegar. Then, slowly drizzle in about 1/2c. good olive oil until you get a nice thick emulsion.

Vinaigrette

Alrighty, salad time!  I chopped up the escarole and sliced some medallions of chèvre.  Next come those cooled beets and a drizzle of dressing and it’s time to eat! This is also really good with some added hard boiled eggs, or chicken. We’ve even skipped the goat cheese and used cubes of the apricot stilton from Trader Joe’s. Deelish!

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The Great Pasty Experiment

Rich meat pocket pie with peppery onion gravy.
Rich meat pocket pie with peppery onion gravy.

So, please forgive me but this is more a story of what I tried than an actual recipe.  It must be the cooling weather but I am obsessing on shepherd’s pie and pot pie and pasties.  So I was browsing the interwebs and its plethora of awesome food blogs and came away with general idea: a pasty is pie crust filled with meat onion and potato, or more. So after a grocery store run, I set off.

First up? The crust.  Just a double batch of Martha’s pâte brisée, only going with half lard/half butter for the fat.

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Only thing is, the lard is WAY softer than the butter, so with the second round in the cuisinart I whirred the butter several times before adding the lard.

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I added the cold water by hand, and then divided the dough in to 9 balls, wrapped ’em in wax paper, flattened them and put them in the fridge for a couple hours.

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Next up, the filling.  Not even remotely traditional. I diced one celery stalk, half an onion, one large russet potatoe, two medium carrots and sliced 4 oz of button mushrooms.  Then, browned the lean (10%) ground beef and added the veg until they were halfway cooked.

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I let that cool in ice box, and took a little nap.  A couple hours later, it was assembly time. I heated the oven to convection 400*. And rolled out, then filled the dough. 

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Sealed those mofo’s up.

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Brushed them with an egg wash.

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And baked them for forty minutes. At the halfway point, I flipped the trays. Meanwhile, I started the gravy.  I had put aside about half a cup of the filling, and put that in a saute pan with the other half of the onion, sliced in to thin half-moons.  I cooked them with about a teaspoon of butter on low for about thirty minutes, until they were browned and tender and almost falling apart.  Here I debated – just use a flour slurry, or go for the Bisto?  I went with the bisto. Stirred that in and cooked until thickened.  Then, after I tasted it, I realized it needed some more flavor, so I added some beef broth base.  Then we were done.

These are tasty. But very, very rich. As in, now I want to go take another nap rich.

Try some – they’re good!

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Cranberry Orange Scones

COscone1Fresh cranberries. I LOVE this time of year, in part because of the fresh cranberries.   And cranberry and orange? Heaven in my book, absolute heaven!

I thought I’d try a scone with fresh cranberry instead of the treacly sweet dried kind, and some orange.  Google led me to our Lady of Excellence and Butter, Ina Garten.  These are delicious, and on the cakey side more than the biscuity side.  I’m too lazy for a round cutter, so wedged discs it was for me – and I like to brush on my glaze while the scones are still hot – it dries as a pretty shine, and keeps them from drying out if you’re planning to take your sconage to your co-workers the next day.
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Torta di Pastore…ok, fine. Shepherd’s pie.

 

 

Ready for the oven….

Potato-y goodness ready for the oven.

SPshepherdPie2So, planning the menu this week I intended to make Budget Bytes’ super amazing  lentil and sausage stew. Only it was a hellacious day. And when I got home, these bewitching comfort-in-starchy-skins were staring at me from their basket above the counter. I answered their Siren’s song, dammit. The base of this perverted autumn classic is the sausage and mire poix with a veg stock/maizena sauce, a layer of frozen chopped spinach, and then the topping with those luscious spud sirens smooshed to submission with butter, olive oil, parsley, garlic salt and chopped kalamata olives.  Screw you, Tuesday. This is delicious.

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Blondies

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Blondies. Bill has this memory of earth-shatteringly good blondies from the Just Desserts bakery in San Francisco from [cough cough] years ago.

I can’t tell you how many recipes I’ve tried over the years, hoping to give him that little slice of bakery happiness…. but have yet to find THE ONE. 

Blondie  mis en place
Blondie mis en place

These are not them, but they are damn tasty.  They’re from Smitten Kitchen, with walnuts and (in honor of The City) Ghiradelli white and dark chocolate chips, some walnuts, and crystal sugar on top.

Alright – now that the photo’s up, it’s time to go make a pot of coffee to do these bad boys justice.

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