Monthly Archives: September 2011

Best You’ve Ever Had: Carrot Muffins

It is admittedly cliché to write about the season’s changing. But since Fall is officially here, and I am officially procrastinating writing the copy for my company’s new corporate brochure, I thought I’d give in to the temptation and embrace it.

After a Summer in Seattle that was slow to start and ended beautifully but fleetingly, it seems that Fall has arrived. The mornings are cool and crisp, back to school aspirations abound anew, and I find myself doing something I haven’t done in months.

Baking.

Perhaps it’s an indication of lack of vision or creativity or something, but come Summer, all I want is grilled deliciousness, and tapas boards, and salads.  Come Fall and Winter, it’s back to slow-braised meats with hearty red-wine sauces and pasta dishes that I pretend I have less often than I do. I also find myself baking this time of year, and making profound resolutions about all the exercise I’ll do to offset it.

Part and parcel with our Fall traditions is our annual CiderFest where we invite friends and family over for a day of delicious food, good laughs, and more cider than you know what to do with. All told we had 30 people join us this year, ranging in age from 3 to well….older than 3. The kids did manual labor, the adults enjoyed cider and whiskey, and I enjoyed an excuse to spend a day cooking for those I love.

Maggie working it.

Thanks to CJ and Matt we had a plethora of apples from neighbors and parks.

These carrot muffins are surprisingly delicious (little Wesley, age 3, ate one for each his year and was pushing for a fourth) and are a great way to use up all those extra carrots you’ve got in your garden. Moist and mildly spicy, they keep well and wrapped in foil will stay yummy for a few days.

Carrot Muffins

 

Makes 12

Position a rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 4oo degrees. Grease a standard 12-muffin pan or line with paper cups.

Whisk together thoroughly:

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 tsp baking power

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp ground cinnamon

3/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1/4 tsp ground ginger

In a separate large bowl, which together:

2 large eggs

1/2 cup white sugar

1/4 cup brown sugar

Stir in and let stand for 10 minutes:

1 1/2 cups packed finely shredded carrots (the food processor makes this a breeze if you have the right attachment)

Stir in:

1/8 cup molasses

1/8 cup water

5 TB vegetable oil

1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans

1/2 cup raisins

Add the flour mixture and fold just until the dry ingredients are moistened. Do not overmix; the batter should not be smooth. Divide the batter among the muffin cups. Bake until a toothpick inserted comes out clean, 15-18 minutes. Let cool 2-3 before removing from the pan. Allow to cool fully on a rack and store in an airtight container…or better yet…enjoy right away with a delicious cup of cider or tea!

3 Comments

Filed under Breakfasts, Health Conscious, Lactose Free, Make ahead, Seasonal Cooking, Uncategorized, Vegetarian

Will Trade Pearls for Cowboy Boots: Summer Simplicity

This is my heaven. (Compliments of Covered Wagon Ranch)

I am generally a very positive and content person. In fact, I believe I have been told on occasion (Angela) to “stop being so f*cking cheerful.”

And yet as I sat on the plane, flying home from an absolutely magical week at The Covered Wagon Ranch, I found my wanderlust not satiated, but sparked.

Imagine the most beautiful mountains, patient and lovely horses, night skies bigger than your eyes can absorb, and an impromptu family du jour, made up of wonderful folks from all walks of life who, most importantly, are on an adventure. Such was our experience at CWR, where we rode each day, laughed each night, and all found ourselves imagining “what if” our lives were different and we were wranglers on a dude ranch.

Me and Little Miss Bayou...just kicking it.

As I return to reality I find myself making a game plan (really, are you surprised?) for how I can recreate a bit of that magic until the day when dreams come true. Strategy is as follows:

  • Stop being tethered to my iPhone. Nothing that interesting or important is happening.
  • Sing more. Out on the trail we belted it for all we were worth. I miss that.
  • Make time to disappear. We’re lucky living in Seattle to have such natural beauty in our backyard. I need to get there.
  • Keep it simple. I am the master of unnecessarily complicating things.

And I’m no different in the kitchen. So this weeknight when two of my very favorite cousins were coming over for dinner, I decided to do a Summer Simplicity Dinner, all with goodies from our CSA and all requiring three ingredients or less.

The result was a delicious dinner that took no time to make, and left more time for enjoying what really matters. Perhaps my favorite item was the Soft-Boiled Eggs with Anchovy Mayo from Ethan Stowell’s latest cookbook. These are so freaking good I could eat just them for dinner. A lovely twist on the old and tired Deviled Egg.

Soft-Boiled Eggs with Anchovy Mayonnaise (from Ethan Stowell’s New Italian Kitchen)
Serves 4

So. Damn. Good.

6 large fresh eggs (find them truly fresh if you can from your local farmers market or a neighbor with chickens…store bought just won’t do)

Salt and Pepper

Juice of 1/2 lemon

Anchovy Mayonnaise (recipe follows)

2 TB chives (his recipe call for parsley…but I hate parsley…do whatever you like)

Put the eggs in a pot and cover them with at least 1/2 inch water. Remove the eggs and bring the water to a soft boil. Prepare an ice-water bath. When the water reaches a boil, gently lower the eggs into the water with a strainer or slotted spoon and cook for exactly 7 minutes. Immediately transfer the eggs to the ice bath. When cool, shell the eggs. Halve the eggs (wiping the knife in between each so it’s a clean-cut) and place on a platter.

Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Squeeze a few drops of lemon juice over each half. Place a dollop of the mayo on each one, about 1 teaspoon. Sprinkle parsley (or chives) over the eggs and serve.

Anchovy Mayonnaise

1 fresh egg yolk

2 TB water

1 tsp Dijon mustard

Juice of 1/2 lemon

5 anchovy fillets

1 1/2 cups canola oil

kosher salt

Place the egg yolk, water, mustard, lemon juice, and anchovy fillets in a food processor. Pulse a few times to combine. With the motor running, add the oil in a slow, steady stream. Season to taste with salt.

Note: This makes a bunch..enjoy it the next day as an aoili for deep-fried zucchini or the like.

8 Comments

Filed under Entertaining, Health Conscious, Lactose Free, Uncategorized, Vegetarian

Crying 101: Fried-Zucchini Spaghetti

A dear friend who is in quite a life transition recently confessed to me, “I’ve been crying a lot lately.”

When I didn’t respond (I was too busy thinking my own self-absorbed thoughts about my lack of crying and what that must mean about me as a person (more on that later)), she continued, “As in every day. But I think that must be good because it means I’m really feeling my feelings.”

As a general rule, I’m not a crier. Some women are delicate and endearing when they cry. I am not. Snot drips, eyes become bloodshot, and my chronic hiccup syndrome kicks in with full force. As such, I’ve employed a categorical strategy of not crying. Preferably ever. But when I got off the phone…driving home from the barn…I found myself thinking panicked thoughts: “What if I’m not really feeling my feelings! What if I just think I am! What if I’m so busy going this way, and coordinating that, strategizing this, and tasking that I’m missing something important or keeping important emotions at bay?!?”

So I did what any overbearing, type-A, hideous overachiever would do. I put on some sappy Pandora station, rolled down my windows, and waited for the tidal wave to come.

I got nothing. Maybe a little bubble or welling perhaps? But if I’m being honest….Nothing. Nada. Zip.

So I did the next best thing I could think of. I came home, hosed myself off (Matt has assured me that while I enjoy the smell of horses, and barn, and sweat, and manure, he does not), and got cooking. While I never got to the cathartic cry I was perhaps seeking, I did find myself taking the first deep breath of the day, and really being.

These pictures are garbage and don’t do this dish justice, but trust me…it is freaking DELICIOUS. And an excellent way to use up all that zucchini that all your friends keep trying to offload on you because their garden is going crazy.

This is undeniably a Food & Wine recipe, and I wouldn’t change a thing.

Fried-Zucchini Spaghetti

Serves 4

1 pound small zucchini, very thinly sliced crosswise
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
Salt
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 pound spaghetti
1 cup shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for serving
1/2 cup torn basil leaves
Freshly ground pepper
Lemon wedges, for serving
  1. In a medium bowl, toss the zucchini with the flour and a pinch of salt. In a very large skillet, heat half of the oil until shimmering. Add half of the zucchini and fry over high heat, turning once or twice, until browned and crisp, 3 to 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the zucchini to a paper towel–lined wire rack and season with salt. Repeat with the remaining oil and zucchini.
  2. Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking liquid. Return the pasta to the pot and toss with the 1 cup of cheese, the basil and a generous pinch of pepper. Add the reserved pasta water a little at a time, tossing well to coat. Transfer the pasta to a bowl and top with the crispy zucchini. Serve right away with lemon wedges and additional cheese.

5 Comments

Filed under Cheap Eats, Pasta, Uncategorized, Vegetarian