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Thursday, November 29, 2007

Holiday Cake

Granted this isn't the best photograph, but it was taken in the rush to make it to our wonderful Thanksgiving dinner before the cocktail hour was over! Long story involving families and bikes and rain! But we made it in time for the gracious hosts of Drake and Sailor of Cafe Drake to warm us with a hot rum cider and proceed to wow us with a succulent and moist turkey, A Cafe Drake classic of raisin chutney and fresh cranberry sauce and two, TWO, delicious stuffings. There were many dishes brought by guests including Octavio's roasted Brussels Sprouts and my holiday Spiced Pumpkin Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting. A rich holiday treat.

Spiced Pumpkin Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

2 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 cup dried currants or raisins
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups (packed) light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup whole milk
1 cup canned solid pack pumpkin

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Generously butter and flour two 9in cake pans. In a large bowl sift together all of the dry ingredients. Then sift again to ensure that the spices are even distributed. Toss a tablespoon of the flour/spice mixture with the currant and walnuts.

Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until fluffy. Gradually add in sugar. Beat in eggs 1 at a time. Add the flour mixture in 3 pours alternating with milk in 2 pours. Add in the pumpkin. Finally fold in currant-walnut mixture. Pour the batter equally into the pans (it should be about 3/4 deep).

Bake the cakes for about 25minute until they pass the Toothpick Test. Cool on a rack for about 10 minutes then turn out of the pans. Cool the layers completely before frosting.

Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
1/4 cup Grade A Maple Syrup
2 8-ounce packages chilled cream cheese
1/2 cup powdered sugar

Beat butter, brown sugar and maple syrup until fluffy. Add in the cream cheese. Sift in the powdered sugar and beat to blend it.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Parmesan and Basil Scones

A quick and easy bread side dish perfect to accompany all of those soups that I am sure to be serving as the winter blows in. I added seasoning to a simple scone recipe from my handy American Woman's Cookbook, an antique cookbook published sometime in the 1940's. This book is a trove of recipes that are great with minor adaptations, like substituting butter or oil for lard or whole wheat flour for the white flour. The cake recipes alone are marvelous.

Parmesan and Basil Scones

1 cup white flour
1 cup cake or pastry flour (or just 2 cups white flour if thats all you have)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 plus teaspoon salt (I like them saltier so add a bit more if you like)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese plus extra for topping
2 teaspoons basil dried or 2 tablespoons fresh chopped finely
1/4 cup cubed butter
2 eggs (one separated)
1/2 cup butter milk or plain yogurt

Pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees.
Mix together all dry ingredients, cheese and basil. Cut in the butter with 2 knives or a pastry cutter until it forms a uniform crumb texture. In a separate bowl beat together the one whole egg, the egg yolk (reserve the white to brush the tops of the scones), the buttermilk or yogurt. Stir into the dry ingredients until you get a nice sticky batter.

Turn out on to a well floured surface. Shape into a rectangle. With a well flour knife or pizza cutter, cut the rectangle into smalled rectangles and then in the triangle shapes.

Beat the egg white until it forms an opaque liquid.

Place on a greased or lined with parchment paper baking sheet. Brush the tops with the egg white and top with more grated cheese.

Bake for about 10 minutes until the tops are a golden brown.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Autumn Curry

The weather is finally becoming seasonally appropriate and honestly, I couldn't be happier about it. I love the fall in New York. The kind of changes and New Yorks look their absolute best in smart coats and jackets. And you can warm up with spicy food, slow cooked, roasted and baked. Methods of preparation that are not at all appealing in a small downtown apartment at any point past June. Though exceptions are made for birthday cakes and summer pies. But now that the thermostat is set at an amenable 65 degrees, I will be back into making more slow food dishes.

Sort of Punjab Eggplant

This is my take on a Northern Indian Curry. All spice amounts are totally estimated, as I just sprinkle the spices in.

1 large eggplant
2 tomatoes
1 onion
2 cloves of garlic
1 carrot
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon celery seed
1 teaspoon tumeric
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon yellow curry powder
1/2 or less to taste red pepper powder
2 tablespoons of tomato paste
plenty of salt
1/2-2/3 cup water

Chop up all the vegetables. Over medium heat, heat the oil in a large saute pan and add the garlic and onion. Cook until soft. Add the eggplant and plenty of salt. Cook until the eggplant until it just starts to discolor, then add the carrots, tomatoes with their water and add the seasonings. Cover and simmer for about 20-30 minutes checking on it and adding the water as needed. Once all the eggplant is very soft, add the tomato paste, combine well and cook for about 5 minutes longer. Serve with parathas.


1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
generous 3/4 cup water
2/3 cup vegetable oil or ghee (I am not a big fan of ghee so I use oil and butter near the end for flavor)

Combine flour and salt in a bowl. Slowly add the water until you have a sticky dough. On a generous floured surface, kneed the dough for 10 minutes until you have a smooth and elastic dough. Shape into a ball and place in a bowl and cover with a damp towel for 20 minutes.

Divide the dough into 8 balls and shape into triangles. On the floured surface, roll out into a half moon shape, brush with oil, fold over, roll out again and brush over, fold over one last time and roll into a triangle shape. Do this for each paratha.

Brush one side of the paratha with oil and place in a hot skillet. Cook for 3-4 minutes, it will puff up. Brush the other side and flip using tongs. Cook for 3 minutes.

Keep warm in foil for up to 20 minutes, but the fresher these are, the better.