Tuesday, September 20, 2011

September Soup

Along with the carrots (and many other yummy vegetables), this week I received an acorn squash in my farm share.  I had never cooked with acorn squash, so I decided I definitely wanted to soup.  I actually ended up buying another acorn squash at the farmer's market, since I needed at least two for the soup.  I adapted a couple recipes and ended up just making my own semi-original to match the ingredients I had.

The soup was especially good with some kale (also from the farm share!) baked into kale chips.  They were actually really delicious, and made a great substitute for potato chips.


Acorn Squash Soup
Serves 4-6

2 acorn squash, halved, seeds removed
1 apple, cored and chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 tsp cinnamon
2 3/4 cups chicken stock 
3 tablespoons olive oil

On a baking sheet, roast the acorn squash, cut side down, until soft- about 45 minutes at 400°.  Scoop out the flesh and set aside.

In a soup pot, heat olive oil over medium high heat.  Sauté carrot, apple, and onion until soft.  Season with cinnamon, salt, and pepper, and add squash.  Add chicken stock, stir, and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes (or longer).

Kale Chips

Remove stems from kale and cut into desired sizes.  Toss with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Arrange in one flat layer on a baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes at 250°.

Let cool and store in an airtight container (if desired) at room temperature for 2-3 days.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Fall Carrot Cupcake

Today was the first day it has felt like fall; colder weather and a crisp breeze called for a few layers.  So naturally, I decided to bake a cupcake suited to the changing seasons.  Since I had received carrots in my farm share this week, I decided to go with carrot cupcakes.

I used a recipe that called for some cinnamon and nutmeg, but since I didn't have nutmeg I just added a bit extra cinnamon, and it worked perfectly.  These are probably my new favorite fall cupcake, the carrots are wonderfully framed with some walnuts and spices, and the cream cheese icing is just perfect on top.

Happy (almost) Fall!

Carrot Cupcakes
Adapted from Gourmet March 1995
Makes 14-16 Cupcakes

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup firmly backed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 3/4 cup carrots (about 4), peeled and shredded
1/3 cup walnuts, chopped fine, toasted lightly, and cooled

Pretheat oven to 350°.

In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.  Set aside.  In another bowl mix oil, sugar, eggs, and vanilla.  Stir in walnuts and carrots.  Add flour mixture and stir until just combined.  Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full with batter, and bake for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Cream Cheese Icing

6 tablespoons butter, softened
8 oz cream cheese
1 1/2 - 2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Cream butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.  Add powdered sugar 1/2 cup at  a time until desired sweetness.  Add vanilla and mix well.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Spicy Scones

This has been a rather momentous week for me- I have successfully maneuvered my way through my first week of classes while simultaneously playing suite mother and chef.  It is quite a balancing act, between cooking and studying, but one that I am happy to take on.  For the fall, I have signed up for a farmer's vegetable share system, where I pick up a bunch of farm-fresh veggies each week.  The veggies are whatever the farm has produced that week, so they are always fresh, and it is always a surprise.

This week, among many other things, I received a bag of eight jalapeño peppers.  I have actually never cooked with jalapeños before, so it was quite an adventure.  First, my roommate and I attempted salsa.  We followed the recipe, we though, but the salsa was incredibly spicy!  We added some roasted tomatoes to try to reduce the spice, which actually made it pretty tasty, but it was still very hot.  One of my friends pointed out that since the jalapeños are fresh, they have a bit more spice to them.

So this afternoon, between studying, I decided to give the jalapeños another chance, but this time I made scones.  I have made countless sweet scones, but this was my first batch of savory.  I found a wonderful recipe from Smitten Kitten, and went with it.  I made sure to remove most of the seeds from my extra spicy peppers, and counted on the cheese to counteract some of the spice.

And I have to say, they turned out magnificently!  They do have a bit of a kick to them, but nothing like the mouth-on-fire salsa.  The scone is a rich, buttery, cheesy, deliciously savory bite with a bit of spice from the jalapeños.  They were a perfect afternoon snack today, and luckily there are a few left to snack on tomorrow!

Bon Appétit,

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Inaugural Cupcakes

This past Saturday was a very momentous day, a day I have been looking forward to since last April.  Last Saturday was the day that I moved into the Cupcake Suite.  I am now living in my adorable suite with my wonderful friends, and I have loved every minute of it.

Our kitchen is small, but overall it is actually quite useable, even for multiple people.  On Monday afternoon we got right to work baking our first batch of inaugural cupcakes for the suite.  Everyone pitched in a little bit, and we made a big batch.  I decided to go with one of my staple cupcake recipes- the black magic cupcake with brown sugar cream cheese frosting.  Enjoy, and welcome to the cupcake suite!


Black Magic Chocolate Cupcakes
(Makes 18-24 cupcakes)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

1 3/4 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
1/2 cup canola oil
1 cup strong coffee
1 cup buttermilk

Stir together flour, sugars, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt with a whisk.
Stir in the vanilla, eggs, oil, coffee, and buttermilk until blended and then beat with an electric mixer on medium for 2 minutes. Batter will be soupy. Pour into cupcake cups.
Bake 20-24 minutes at 350 degrees- or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Creamy Brown Sugar Frosting
Bon Appétit October 1999

Makes about 3 1/2 cups

12 oz cream cheese
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
pinch of salt
2 1/4 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese and butter in a large bowl until fluffy. Add brown sugar; beat until well blended. Add powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time, beating well between each addition. Beat in vanilla. Chill until firm enough to spread, about 30 minutes.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Afternoon Tea

Today I spent the afternoon in Georgetown, one of my favorite places in DC, with one of my favorite people.  We had lunch at an adorable crepe cafe, and although we were eaten alive my mosquitos, we enjoyed our crepes.  Then we spent the rest of the afternoon wandering the streets of Georgetown looking for cute shops.  We ended up visiting several tea shops, and I ended up buying a bit of tea, so when I got home I, of course, had to brew some.

We stopped at a couple different tea shops, but our favorites by far were Capital Teas and The Spice & Tea Exchange.  In these shops there were little jars of each tea that you could open up and smell.  It was quite an aromatic experience, and when we walked out of the shops the smell of Georgetown, although not unpleasant, seemed a let down after the wonderful aromas of the tea shops.  I ended up buying a small bag of looseleaf 'Mountain Jasmine Tea' from The Spice & Tea Exchange and a tin of looseleaf 'Roasted Almond' tea from Capital Teas.

I was excited to try both of the teas, but the smell of the Roasted Almond was simply too intoxicating to pass up.  The description of the tea reads "A box of cookies in one cup; roasted nuts, caramelized almonds and baked apple pieces; our #1 best-selling infusion!" and it certainly lives up to the hype.  It is probably the most unique tea I have tried.  The smell is absolutely heavenly, and that smell translates very well to the taste, unlike some teas.  Also, it made a beautiful bright pink cup of tea- a wonderful and unexpected surprise!