Month: October 2015

Cinnamon & Honey Roasted Pepitas

Got a great deal on my Halloween pumpkins this year at Aldi- $2.99 each. Don’t even get me started on Aldi. We have a special love.

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Once we got them hollowed out & carved, it’s time for some roasted pumpkin seeds. Inspired by the chestnuts I recently roasted, I decided to give my pepitas a little twist. Here’s how:

Cinnamon & Honey Roasted Pepitas

Ingredients:

  • pumpkin seeds
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • Kosher salt

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F
  2. Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  3. Put all your pumpkin seeds in a colander and rinse with cool water, making sure any pumpkin guts are removed. Let them dry as you prepare the butter mixture.
  4. In the microwave, heat about 4 tbsp of unsalted butter until melted.
  5. Add the cinnamon & 1 tbsp of the honey. Stir to create a syrupy consistency.
  6. Spread the seeds on the baking sheet in a single layer.
  7. Drizzle the butter mixture over the seeds as evenly as possible.
  8. Sprinkle with Kosher salt to taste.
  9. Bake 30-40 mins or until golden, moving the seeds around 2-3 times during baking for even cooking.
  10. Enjoy while warm, and put any cooled leftovers into airtight containers for later noshing.

A Morbid Cake

While recently perusing Pinterest for recipes involving chestnuts, I ran across a few recipes for Torta Morbida al Cioccolato e Castagne. Too perfect! I thought. Halloween is right around the corner! I can make this dark, morbid cake AND use a bunch of the chestnuts in my freezer! Imagine my surprise & disappointment when I found out that a Torta Morbida is a “soft cake”.

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via Google Translate

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via Google Translate

Alas, it was a still a delicious cake. Nearly flourless, very rich, and SO SOFT! Molto morbida indeed!

Torta Morbida al Cioccolato e Castagne

(soft cake of chocolate and chestnuts)

makes a 9 inch round cake

Ingredients:

  • 1 C roasted, shelled and skinned chestnuts
  • 1 1/2 C granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch of Kosher salt
  • 11 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 12 oz semisweet chocolate
  • 5 large eggs, separated
  • 2 tbsp all-purpose flour (GF flour of your choice could be easily used here, if desired.)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9-1/2-inch deep fluted tart pan with a removable bottom or a springform pan. **Hint: I highly recommend the use of a springform pan here if at all possible. This is a very soft cake that will not withstand being turned out from a non-springform pan very well.
  2. Place chestnuts, 3/4 C of the sugar, vanilla, and salt in a large saucepan and cover with about 2 inches of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer covered for about 45 mins. Remove from heat and let chestnuts cool in syrup, then drain. **HINT: Do not stir chestnuts while they are in the hot syrup, as they will break. Still delicious, but much less attractive in your cake.
  3. Melt the chocolate in a metal bowl set on top of a pot of simmering water. For ease, I recommend that you use chips or morsels if possible.
  4. Add remaining 3/4 cup sugar and butter, stirring until smooth. Remove bowl from heat and whisk mixture until cooled to lukewarm. This will take about 5-8mins. Whisk in egg yolks and flour.
  5. Beat egg whites until stiff. Gently fold whites into batter half at a time. **Hint: My preferred method for beating egg whites most effectively is my hand blender fitted with a whip attachment.  

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    “Whip it! Whip it good!”

  6. Pour batter into greased pan. Gently lay chestnuts on top of batter and poke them in gently.
  7. Bake for about 40 mins or until the edges of the cake have formed a crust. Cool cake in pan on rack for 5 mins, then release from pan and let it cool completely.

What the heck am I going to do with all these CHESTNUTS?!

I recently acquired a large quantity of chestnuts. Don’t ask, I know people.

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Like anyone in my position would do, I immediately took to Pinterest to figure out what the heck to do with them. When I want to know how to properly do prettymuch anything, I always ask Aunt Martha. Not kidding. There’s a homemade plaque in my dining room that reads “WWMD” (What Would Martha Do). Just yesterday I asked Martha how to properly launder a cashmere sweater. Martha knows everything.

So it turns out doing anything with chestnuts is a bit of a process…

Getting your chestnuts ready for roasting…

  1. Using a sharp knife, carefully cut an “X” in the shell of the chestnut, anywhere but on the flat part. This will make it easier for you to peel the chestnuts after they’re roasted, and keep them from exploding during the roasting process. So this is a pretty important step. Put all the cut chestnuts into a large bowl.
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PLEASE be super-careful! It is a soft shell, you don’t have to press very hard.

2. Heat enough water to cover the chestnuts in the bowl. I like to use my electric kettle for this step. When the water has boiled, pour it over the nuts & let them stand in the hot water for about 2 minutes. This will make the nuts more tender when they are roasted.

3. After 2 minutes, drain the chestnuts using a colander over the sink.

Roasting the chestnuts…

1. Preheat oven to 425F

2. Line a large baking sheet with foil. Spread the drained chestnuts evenly across the baking sheet, in a single layer.

3. In a small bowl, combine:

  • 8 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 tsp grated nutmeg

4. Pour spiced-butter mixture evenly over the chestnuts.

5. Sprinkle with:

  • 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt

6. Roast chestnuts for about 30 minutes, shaking the pan about halfway through to ensure even cooking. When the nuts are cooked, the shells will curve back exposing the meaty flesh. Your house will smell AMAZING!

*HINT* For easiest peeling, peel the chestnuts while they are still warm. Nosh on a few. They are super-filling! Any leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the freezer.

My Favorite Apple Cake

This recipe is apparently quite old, appearing in both my 1943 & 2006 editions of The Joy of Cooking. My late Aunt Doris used to make this cake for family gatherings, and to date, I don’t believe that anyone in the family has been able to make it taste quite the same as she did.

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Note: this is a dense cake, not a fluffy one, and when you make the batter you will wonder if you have enough to spread across the pan. Trust me, you will. Also, trust that you will want to make two of these cakes, because they will disappear quickly!

Aunt Doris’ Apple Cake

Ingredients:

  • 1 C all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 4 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter (1 1/2 tbsp cold, for the batter, 3 tbsp melted, for the topping)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • about 2 tbsp milk
  • 4 C sliced peeled apples (I prefer to use a slightly sweeter Jonathan rather than a Granny Smith.)
  • 1 C packed brown sugar
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425F. Grease 8″ or 9″ round pan and set aside.
  2. Sift together flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt into a medium bowl. (You will want some room in the bowl for when you work in the butter.)
  3. Using a pastry blender, 2 forks, or best of all your hands, add 1 1/2 tbsp of the butter to the dry ingredients a little at a time. When combined, the mixture should resemble coarse cornmeal.
  4. In a glass measuring cup, combine egg and vanilla. Add milk until mixture is measures 1/2 C.
  5. Stir the egg mixture into the flour/butter mixture to form a stiff dough.
  6. Spread dough into prepared pan evenly using a rubber spatula or your hands. (This is a very hands-on recipe. See what I did there?)
  7. Arrange apples atop the dough in a decorative manner, overlapping them slightly.
  8. Combine brown sugar, cinnamon, and remaining 3 tbsp butter (melted). Sprinkle over fruit and the top of the cake.
  9. Bake for about 25 mins, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  10. Serve warm, with vanilla ice cream, if desired.

#vikinggrub Fish Cakes

This recipe is adapted from a recipe I found on an Estonian blog. You can find the original on my Viking Grub board. I translated it from Estonian, changed the units from Metric to US Customary (Thanks internet!), and ended up tweaking the amounts of ingredients to my taste.

I have found that there is some adaptation of a fishcake in many of the Nordic cuisines. The original recipe was more in the Finnish syle. In fact, there was a very interesting bit about the food pyramid in Finland that accompanied the original recipe. Another of the recipes I consulted while I was working on this adaptation was Danish, and called Fiskefrikadeller. The recipe contained many of the same elements: types of fish, lemon, capers etc. Anyone who knows Nordic/Scandinavian cuisine well, feel free to comment & school me on the subtle differences between a Finnish fishcake & a Danish fishcake.

The process of making the fishcakes was not dissimilar to making potato latkes. The key to success is getting the batter to the proper consistency, and having your oil at just the right temperature.

Fiskefrikadeller (Danish Fishcakes)

makes 18 mini-cakes

Ingredients:

  • 1 (14oz) can salmon, drain & reserve liquid, pick out any skin/bones
  • 4 tilapia filets, cooked (I bought mine frozen & poached them for around 8 mins.)
  • 1 large egg
  • the juice of half a lemon (around 2 tbsp)
  • 1/2 tbsp dried dill OR
  • 3 tbsp chopped, fresh dill
  • 2 tbsp capers, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 C panko bread crumbs
  • canola or peanut oil, for frying

Instructions:

  1. In a food processor or blender, blitz the fish until they form a thick paste. Add 1-3 tbsp of the reserved salmon liquid, if needed, to facilitate the blending.
  2. Dump fish mixture into a medium-sized bowl. Add egg, lemon juice, dill, and capers. Stir until combined.
  3. Refrigerate mixture for about 10 mins. Meanwhile, heat oil in shallow pan over medium/medium high heat.
  4. When the mixture is chilled, add in the panko, and stir to combine.
  5. When the oil is hot (around 350F), you can begin dropping scoops of the batter into the hot oil. I used my medium sized Pampered Chef scoop, which is around 2 tbsp, & spread the mixture a bit with the back of the scoop until the cake got to the desired size.
  6. Fry cakes about 5 minutes on each side, or until golden brown.

Serving Suggestions:

  • serve with oven roasted, skin-on, red potatoes
  • serve with fries
  • enjoy with remoulade or tartar sauce
  • make a Fiskefrikadellar slider
  • make a Fiskefrikadellar Eggs Benedict #putaneggonit