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.

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.

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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Herbed White Bean Tomato Stew

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It finally happened. Stepping outside in the morning one day last week, I could feel it. The air was cool(er?). Summer is leaving. Then, we had a rainy day. And as Himself will tell you, I’ll use that as an excuse to make soup every time. Even if it’s 85*. But, c’mon – after 104*, the eighties are practically cold. It’s all relative, man.
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Every time I start to make soup, two thoughts come to me. The first is Joan Cusak’s character Marcella in Grosse Pointe Blank, trying to explain a recipe to a friend on the phone, “No, I, it’s not going to be a boring soup! It just, that’s just the base! Carrots and celery are just a base of a soup!”
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The other is that genius Beth over at Budget Bytes, who taught me whenever I’m making a mirepoix for a soup to double it and freeze half so the next time it’s like a little time-saving gift waiting for you in the freezer.

This was quick and yummy. Drizzle it with a little balsamic vinegar before serving.
Bon apétit.

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Herbed White Bean Tomato Stew
Ingredients
5 celery stalks, chopped
2 large carrots, sliced for soup
½ white onion, diced
A fingerwidth of fresh thyme with a couple sprigs of parsley tied in a bouquet garni
1 28oz can diced San Marzano tomatoes
2 cans drained low-sodium cannelini beans
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 quart chicken broth (or veg if you don’t do the meat stuff)
¼ c good olive oil
1 cup dry red wine

In a large soup pot, sweat the celery, onion, and carrots in the olive oil. Add the rest of the ingredients, plus half a tomato can of water. Raise heat to medium and simmer for half an hour. (Remove the garni before consuming.)

And, btw, the fresh thyme and the San Marzano’s are really essential. Spring for the toms, for this and your pasta sauce. You will be glad. Safeway has them under their house label, so they’re not insanely expensive. They really do make a difference.

Focaccia (Using a Poolish)

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I used to just love that Tyler Florence focaccia recipe – it was easy and fast. But the last time I made it, I realized it was just…..white bread. Focaccia is chewy, and pillowy, and crisp from the olive oil, with big air holes.

I started to wonder if that poolish thing that works for baquettes would work for focaccia, and the interwebs said yes!!
focaccia1How the poolish looks the next morning.

Our Google overlords took me back to the absolute number one bread blog in the world (and one I thought had been taken down), Artisan Bread Baking. This recipe is a mix of that, and what I remember from a Cook’s Illustrated recipe from long ago.

I wanted to give some to the neighbors, and remembered the CI one used cake pans – so there we go.
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This turned out fairly well. Light. Beautiful olive oil crust. The only thing I’d do differently next time is split the dough between four pans – in three, it was just a smidge too thick for our tastes.
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I hope you try this – this is a very kid-friendly recipe. You get to smoosh the dough out in the pan using your hands, place toppings on it, and poke it with your fingers before baking. Tactile play that is deliciously edible! Good times!!
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Make this next weekend. For reals – you’re home on a Saturday morning anyway, right? Give it a try.

Focaccia

The night before, make the poolish and some rosemary water:
9oz water
9oz AP flour
2 tsp yeast
Stir it up (it will be a thick sticky batter). Cover it with wax paper or saran and leave it on the counter overnight.
Boil 6 oz water. Put it in a heat-safe cup or bowl, drop in a 3″ sprig or rosemary or a tablespoon of dried, cover it with saran and leave it on the counter next to the poolish overnight.

The next morning, in your KitchenAide bowl or a big mixing bowl, add:
14 oz AP or bread flour
6 oz rosemary water
6 oz extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp dried Italian Herb mix
and the poolish.
Mix it up (with a dough hook or a wooden spoon) til it comes together, cover and let it rest 20 minutes.
Add the salt, knead it for six minutes. This dough is sticky. Cover and rest 30 minutes.
*Gently* fold the dough(Good Dave Johnson vid after the jump). Cover and rest 30 minutes.
Again, *gently* fold the dough. Cover and rest 30 minutes.
Finally, *gently* fold the dough. Cover and rest 20 minutes.

Line a sheet pan (or 3-4 8″ round cake pans) with parchment, generously grease the bottom and sides with olive oil. (For the smaller pans, cut the dough into thirds or fourths with your bench scraper.) Put the dough in the pan, and *gently* push it out to the edges of the pan using your fingers. Place your toppings (onion, olive, tomato – anything thick and moist – the light herby-type stuff comes later). Drizzle with olive oil. Loosely top with waxed paper and a tea towel and let it rise for at least an hour.

Heat the oven to 500*. If you have a baking stone, get that mofo in there. While it is pre-heating, poke the risen dough with your finger to make those focaccia indentations. Drizzle with more olive oil, and sprinkle with the herbs of your choice. (I like fresh rosemary.) Let this sit for 15 minutes, then pop in the hot oven. Reduce the temp to 450* and bake about 25 minutes or so until golden. Interior temp s/b at least 200*. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with some flaked kosher salt and coarse black pepper.

Cool, and eat. This makes amazing sammiches with some pesto. If you don’t eat it the same day, warm it a little in the oven to bring the crust back before serving.

Crunchy Green Bean Salad

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Originally I was calling this post: Blanched Green Bean Salad; or, that didn’t exactly turn out….

We went to Willcox yesterday, in our annual pilgrimage to farm country. Loaded up on fresh peaches, squash, eggplant, roasted green chile and of course the green beans. I was blanching them this morning, munching on one and thought – hey, this would be yummy in a salad besides salade niçoise.
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I was extremely disappointed when I first put it together – even himself was not enthused. It just tasted like raw green beans and dijon mustard. Yuck. I was so sad – I mean, come on! Green beans, bacon, onion, almonds – what could possibly go wrong??

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But the next day? It was pretty yummy. Only thing is, leave green beans in a acidic solution like that vinaigrette and they lose that pretty green in the pictures and become a more olive green, less fresh, appetizing color so I feel as if my pictures are false advertising now.

So…..make this the day before you intend to eat it; perhaps if your garden is drowning you in green beans.
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Whisk together:
1 tsp. bacon fat
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp canola oil
½ tsp celery seed
2 Tbsp. sugar
¼ c. rice vinegar
Stir in:
2 c. freshly blanched green beans, cut in bite-sized pieces
1 celery stalk, thinly chopped
2 Tbps. thin sliced white or red onion
1/4 c. almond slivers
1/4 c. minced parsley
1 slice cooked bacon, chopped

Make the day before. Serves 2-4.
Bon apétit!