Sunday, October 25, 2009

Pumpkin, Ginger French Toast

Some recipes are born of inspiration. Others are born of necessity. Necessities like, "Oh boy, I have to make brunch for my sisters in 10 minutes. Shoot. What do I have?" Turns out a leftover loaf of french bread, a can of pumpkin puree in the pantry, and some real life maple syrup can make a convincing brunch entree. I thought the pumpkin and ginger had a nice presence without being overpowering. As my sister put it, "You know, I don't really like French toast. Who really likes soggy bread? Well let me tell you, this soggy bread I like!"

Pumpkin, Ginger French Toast
  • 2 loaves day-old french bread
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • pinch salt
  • Maple syrup, for serving
Cut the loaves of bread on the diagonal into approximately 1.5-inch slices (about 15-20 slices, total).

Whisk together the remaining ingredients, except for the syrup, until smooth and homogeneous. Heat a large, flat-bottomed skillet or griddle on the stove over medium-high heat. Use some butter or non-stick spray to grease the pan.

Quickly dip both sides of the bread into the egg and pumpkin mixture until both sides are coated, but not soggy (you only want the mixture on the exterior). Place on the heated griddle, and cook until golden, about 3-4 minutes a side. Serve quickly, while still warm, with the maple syrup.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Pears with Asiago, Cashews, and Balsamic Vinaigrette

This recipe was an accident.  I was trying to make just a quick salad to go with some pizza, but I completely forgot to buy any lettuce.  In our American, "iceberg lettuce + ranch = salad" minds, this may have been seen as a terribly tragedy.  However, will just a little mind-freeing, creativity, and reassurance that these flavors actually do work together surprisingly well, the salad was prepared and presented sans lettuce.  The show must go on.  It actually worked really well.  The sweet pears and salty cheese work together really well, and the vinaigrette and cashews are a great accompaniment.

So forgot the lettuce.  You don't need it.  Take all of the good tasting things in the salad (which typically isn't the lettuce), and serve that with just a little dressing.  All of the goodness without the fluff.  Go on--live dangerously.  You can do it.

Pears with Asiago, Cashews, and Balsamic Vinaigrette

  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • pinch salt
  • 3 large d'Anjou, Bartlett, or comice pears, cut lengthwise into slices
  • Asiago cheese,  made into curls with a vegetable peeler
  • roasted cashew halves
Whisk together the oil, vinegar, honey, and salt.  Toss gently with the pear slices. Layer the pears slices on a serving planner or individual dishes.  Top with the cheese curls and cahsews, and serve immediately.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Fancy cheese = party, with a recipe for Goat Cheese with Pepper Jelly thrown in there

This is one of those "not really a recipe but just kind of a cool thing you do" posts, and a commandment to you to go throw a cheese party. Really, go do it right now. I was invited by a few friends to a fancy cheese party, and let me tell you, cheese brings people together. Surprisingly, everyone has an opinion about cheese, and more people than you would think have a particular type of cheese they're really particular about. You'll probably get a great combination of hard and soft, foreign and domestic, subtle and sharp, etc. Great times will be had by all.

Just tell everyone to bring their favorite cheese, you provide some bread, crackers, and fruit, and you've got a party. I decided to bring a log of goat cheese with red pepper jelly. I love the combination of the tangy cheese with the sweet, slightly spicy jelly. It also works really well with jalapeno jelly, or if you are lucky enough to live close to a Foster's Market, a bottle of their amazing Seven-pepper jelly.

There really isn't much to this. Just get some fresh goat cheese and serve it with the jelly. There. That was the recipe. Awesome. Just little tricks, though. You can slice the cheese with some unflavored, unwaxed dental floss (I keep a spool in my kitchen). I think it is best served with a fresh, crusty baguette, but you go do whatever you want. Just have your party now. Your life will be better.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Creamed Peas on Toast

This recipe is retro. I have no idea if they ate this in the 50's, but to me it kind of seems like something a suburban housewife in a high-waisted plaid skirt would make for her accountant, skinny-tie and chunky glasses-wearing husband to eat watching TV and a mustard sofa. But in all honesty, I can just barely remember the mid-80's, so I really don't know. Most of that mental image is probably based on my last watching of "Edward Scissorhands," which is an amazing movie (although it scared me to death until I was probably 21 years old).

My mom used to make a recipe similar to this quite often, and there is a sentimental place in my heart for it. So maybe it's more retro to the early 90's than the mid 50's, but in any case, it's good and filling.

The other day I realized it had been quite some time since eating a vegetable (these things happen in a bachelor grad student's home occasionally), and looking around the fridge and freezer, this was the solution. If I wanted a healthy, and nutritious dinner, obviously the solution was to cover vegetables with cream, butter, and cheese sauce. Healthy and happy. Mmmm good.

Creamed Peas on Toast

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 clove, minced garlic
  • 2 heaping tablespoons flour
  • about 1 cup milk (I used about 1/2 milk and 1/2 half-and-half, which I had in the fridge)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 pound frozen peas
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped chives
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • Toasted bread slices
Heat the butter and olive oil in a flat-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Saute the garlic until slightly browned. Add the flour, and stir until it becomes a smooth paste. Add about 3/4 cup of the milk and stir or whisk well until smooth. Add additional milk or cream until the desired thickness (you want it thick, but not soupy). Add the lemon juice.

Add the peas and stir until heated through, but not mushy. Add the cheese and chives, and stir until the cheese is melted and incorporated. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve on toast, or as a side dish.