Archive for November, 2011

An Update from the Field

I got this e-mail from my dad and think it is probably relevant to you all as well.  Can you see where I get my food obsession?



So . . . Central and SoCal will have fresh crab next week.  Portland will have fresh crab December 15.

My favorite time of year; paired with Fettucine Alfredo and a dry champagne (Korbel Natural is a favorite).If I was blogging, this would be excitement!

Also, remember that the Beaujolais Nouveau is released November 17.  Serve slightly cool and its fruitiness is wonderful with poultry or pork and brie is the classic cheese pairing.





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Pumpkin Pie Cupcakes

Pumpkin cupcakes with a pumpkin spice filling and a ginger buttercream.  I like these because the cake is dense and moist with a pumpkin spice filling that is a fun surprise.  I’m not sure if these cupcakes will replace the traditional pumpkin pie at my family’s Thanksgiving but they are darn tasty.

I used a yellow cupcake and a buttercream recipe as the base from The Bakers Field Guide to Cupcakes.  I really like this cookbook because Dede Wilson leaves very precise instructions at each step to ensure success.  I have not included her level of detail here.  However, I added pumpkin puree and dropped the amount of milk to make a pumpkin cake base.  I also cut the butter in the butter cream by half  because the texture was perfect and three sticks of butter seemed a bit much.

12 paper liners

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature

3/4 cup sugar

2 large eggs

1/2 cup pumpkin puree

1/4 cup milk

1.  Preheat oven to 350.  Prepare cupcake tin with paper liners.

2.  Beat butter until creamy with an electric mixer.

3.  With the mixer still running, gradually add the sugar.  Then gradually add the eggs.  Wait for each addition to fully absorb before continuing.

4.  Mix flour, baking powder, and salt.  In a separate bowl, mix pumpkin puree and milk.

5.  Add one quarter of the  flour mixture to the butter mixture, then one quarter of the puree mixture.  Beat briefly until smooth on low-medium speed and repeat until all of the flour mixture and puree mixture is incorporated.

6.  Divide the batter into the 12 liners and bake for 15 minutes.

While the cupcakes are baking:

1/2 cup pumpkin puree

Brown sugar, cinnamon, and powdered ginger to taste.

1 egg

1.  Mix pumpking puree with brown sugar, cinnamon, and powdered ginger.  Add ingredients slowly and taste frequently.

2.  Add egg.

3.  Fill pastry pipe with pumpkin spice mix.  Choose a thin tip.

Pull out the cupcakes.

1.  Insert the tip of the pastry pipe 1/2 way into the cupcake.

2.  Fill until cracks start to form along the top of the cupcake.  The goal is to get about 1 tablespoon of pumpkin spice mix into the cupcake.

3.  Repeat for all 12 cupcakes.  Bake for 3 more minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cupcakes comes out clean.

Italian Meringue Buttercream Frosting

2/3 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar

1/4 cup water

4 large egg whites

1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

3/4 cup (1 1/2 stick) unsalted butter

1.  Place 2/3 cup sugar, water, and candy thermometer in a small pot.  Stir.  Bring to boil over medium high heat.  Dip pastry brush in cold water and wash down sugar crystals from the sides of the pan.

2. Place the egg whites in a standing mixer and whip on low speed until frothy.  When soft peaks form, add 3 tablespoons sugar.  Continue whipping until peaks are stiff and glossy.

3.  Bring sugar-water to a rapid boil until it reaches 248 – 250 degrees.

4  Continue whipping egg whites on low.  Pour a thin steady steam of the sugar-water over the meringue without pouring any on the whisk attachment or the sides of the bowl.

5.  Whip at high-speed untill cool.  When the merengue is cool, add the room temperature butter a couple of tablespoons at a time.

6.  Keep beating until the butter cream is smooth.  If it liquefies, don’t get discouraged.  Keep whipping at high-speed, it will firm up.

7.  Add ginger to taste.

8. Insert butter cream into pastry pipe.  Pipe onto the now cool cupcakes.

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Coconut Curry Squash Soup

Coconut Curry SquashWhile in college, I waited tables at the best restaurant in Salem, The Wild Pear.  Flavorful takes on classic sandwiches, amazing desserts, and truffle sweet potato french fries that still haunt my dreams.  Lucky me, I live in Portland.  I can drive down to Salem whenever I get a Wild Pear craving.  unfortunately, the amazing soups rotate daily so there are no guarantees that I will win the soup lottery and arrive on a day featuring one of my favorites.


The Coconut Curry Squash soup is so good because it is creamy without needing dairy and the heat from the curry warms you up to your toes.   Even if you happen to be a wimpy Californian trying to make it through your first Oregonian winter.


Recipe Notes: 1) In my almost two years as a server there, I never once knew the owners to give out a recipe so this is by no means the original.  It is my best attempt at a recreation and my get you through untill your next Wild Pear hit. 2) When I make soup, I make soup for an army.  This makes a lot of soup.

Coconut Curry Butternut Squash

1/2 onion

Enough oil to coat the bottom of a roasting pan and soup pot

5 cloves garlic

5 acorn squash (or if you are smarter than me and don’t want to fight to peel the squash use the same amount of butternut squash)

2 cans (30 oz each) chicken stock

1 can (20 oz) coconut milk

Curry to taste

Just after final modifications1.  Preheat oven to 350

2.  Cut the squash in half and remove all the seeds

3.  Drizzle oil along the bottom of the roasting pan, add the squash and roast until soft 20-40 min depending on the size of the pieces.

4.   Dice 1/2 onion and add to soup pot with enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan.

5.  Cook onion at low heat untill soft.

6. Smash and mince garlic.

7.  Add the squash to the soup pan and add enough chicken stock to cover the squash.

8.  Include garlic and a conservative estimate of how much curry you might want.

9.  Cook for one hour at a low simmer.  Add more chicken stock as necessary to cover the squash

10.  Transfer the lot to the blender and blend untill smooth.  Mine required two batches.  Return the soup to the soup pot.

11.  Add the coconut milk.

12.  Taste.  Check the curry and spice level remembering that it will get spicier as it sits in your fridge.  Also check the thickness.  I like a thick soup but if  it is too thick for your tastes, add more chicken stock.

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