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Pumpkin Doughnuts

Oh dear. Oh dearie me. I’m having a love affair with hot lard this month. Apple fritters twice, potato chips several times, and now these bad boys.

Someone send help.

I know some say it’s a bit early to bring on the fall goods but I’m ready. Been ready. Always ready, actually! It’s my favorite. Slather pumpkin and apples on everything and I’m happy.

These doughnuts are wunnerful. Pumpkin with spices and a maple glaze. I made them for friends last night and we all died. Came back to earth, ate some more, and died again. Try them!

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Pumpkin Doughnuts

Very adapted from here

1 1/8 cups milk
2 T active dry yeast
2 cups butternut squash purée
1/4 cup honey
1/4 sugar
2 eggs
2 T neutral oil
1 T salt
1 1/2 t cinnamon
1/2 t ginger
1/4 t nutmeg
1 1/2 cups whole wheat bread flour
At least 4 1/2 cups white bread flour plus more for kneading and rolling

About 8 cups of lard/vegetable oil/peanut oil for frying

Scald the milk in a saucepan until little bubbles appear at edges.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, mix the squash, honey, sugar, oil, eggs, salt and spices. When milk is hot, add it to the bowl. Make sure the temp of the ingredients is warm but not too hot (about 125 degrees) and then stir in the yeast. Add the whole wheat flour and enough white flour to make a sticky dough.

Flour the counter and dump out the dough. Using more flour as needed, knead just enough to bring the dough together into a smooth ball. No need to overdo it. And you want the dough to remain sticky…we don’t want dry doughnuts!

Place back into bowl and cover with damp towel. Let rise til double (about an hour).

Flour your counter well and gently dump the dough out. No need to punch it. Flour the top and roll it out to about 3/4 inch thick. Cut with doughnut cutter/cup/cookie cutters to get the desired size. Don’t forget to cut the holes! The scraps that you reroll produce slightly tougher doughnuts so try not to work too much flour into them.

Place doughnuts on parchment lined baking sheets, cover with the damp towel, and let rise until nearly doubled.

While they are rising, heat your fat and make your glaze. You want the fat between 350 and 375 degrees. A thermometer helps a lot.

When fat is ready, drop in a couple of doughnuts. Do not overcrowd the pot as they expand and need space to move. Fry until golden brown on first side, flip and fry until cooked through. This might take 2 minutes, total, not sure.

Remove from fat and drain on newspaper/old T-shirts/whatever. While still warm dunk into glaze and then drain them. You can do this on a wire rack or do as I do…put them on dowel rods suspended between canning jars over a cookie sheet to catch drips. Works beautifully.

Finish frying doughnuts, working quickly so that the last ones don’t rise TOO much and keeping an eye on your oil temperature so it doesn’t smoke out your neighbors.

Devour within a few hours. These aren’t near as good the next day, though a zap in the microwave does help.

Yield: about 3 1/2 dozen 3-inch doughnuts and their holes

Glaze
1 pound confectioners sugar
1 T very soft butter
1 t vanilla extract
1/2 t maple flavoring
Pinch of ground mace
Milk

Mix sugar, butter, flavorings and mace with enough milk to make a glaze. You don’t want it extremely thin or it will all run off your doughnuts; too thick and it will be gloppy. I just go by feel. You may need to adjust it after a few doughnuts by adding more milk or sugar.

Near the end of cucumber season, I like to make a certain refrigerator cucumber salad that stores well for weeks on end. I like to enjoy those fresh cukes for as long as possible.

Well it got pretty chilly the other night and while my cucumber plants long ago bit the dust, my peppers are going strong. I decided I needed to make a sort of pepper salad to keep for a while in the fridge for after those beauties no longer produce.

Several rounds of Pinterest searching later, this is what I came up with.

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It’s pickle-y, that’s for sure. Sweet, too. The carrots help with that. I love the fresh crunch. We had some for supper and while not everyone was wild about it, a couple of us were. I will now shove the jars to the back of the fridge and wait to eat this salad when the pepper plants have withered under the heavy frosts.

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Pickled Carrot and Red Pepper Salad
Adapted from several recipes.

5 cups shredded carrots
4 cups thinly sliced red bell pepper
1/2 of a small purple onion, thinly sliced
2 T mustard seeds
1/4 cup sugar
1 T salt
1 cup white vinegar
1 cup water

Heat the mustard seeds, sugar, salt, and vinegar just until the salt and sugar dissolve. Add the water.

Mix the veggies together. Pack lightly into jars and pour the brine over top. Place lids on jars and refrigerate for at least a day before serving.

While I have not actually had this salad around for more than a few days, my guess is that it will keep for weeks, maybe even over a month.

Yield: about 6 cups

This is a childhood favorite of mine. I was never one of those children who hated zucchini. Serve it to me fried, boiled, or stewed and I would gobble it up. Mmm.

I know it’s hot out. I know you don’t feel like turning the stove on for two hours. But I think you won’t be disappointed if you just dive in and do it.

The zucchini are somehow transformed in those juicy tomatoes. Even though they are cooked for a while, they don’t turn to mush. They are just soft and silky smooth. And the fresh herbs elevate this dish to delectable heights.

Please use fresh herbs.

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Stewed Zucchini and Tomatoes
Recipe from my mom

1 onion, chopped
2 zucchini or other summer squash, about 8 inches long each, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 T olive oil
1/2 t salt (1 t if using fresh tomatoes)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups diced tomatoes, canned or fresh (peel if using fresh)
6 large basil leaves, chopped
1 sprig oregano, leaves removed and chopped

In a covered pot, sweat the zucchini and onions in the oil with the salt over very low heat for about 45 minutes or until fairly soft. Add the garlic and cook another few minutes. Add the tomatoes and bring to a boil. Summer until thick, another hour or so. Stir in the herbs just before serving.

Serve piping hot with sweet corn on the cob or let it cool to room temp and eat it like a summer stew. Yum.

Yield: about 4 cups.

Croutons

During the height of salad season a few weeks back, I baked a batch of bread and it failed. It just got rather heavy and holey, not exactly lovely sandwich material.

So I did the best thing I could think of: made croutons. I didn’t regret it. These things are like potato chips. Once you start, you can’t stop munching!

Seems to me that eating all of the croutons is also like getting pregnant. It happens fast!

(Yes. We are expecting #4 around the beginning of February.) (!!!)

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Croutons

Stale or flopped bread, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
Butter, melted
Olive oil
Italian herbs (parsley, basil, thyme, oregano, garlic, etc)
Salt/pepper
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Drizzle the butter and oil over the bread cubes and stir well. You want the bread to be fairly moist but not drenched.

Stir on the herbs, salt, pepper, and cheese. Place in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake at 350 until golden and almost crispy. They will crisp up more as they cool. This takes about 45 minutes in my oven but it’s slow. Probably won’t take that long for you. Just check them every 5 or 10 minutes and give them a stir.

Store in an airtight container or jar. Yum.

Parmesan Rice Pilaf

Well, if you want your house to smell amazing, start a pot of this rice. I can’t think of a better dinner time scent than rice simmering in chicken stock. Add some cheese and herbs and, well, I think that’s what my heaven will smell like. That or freshly baked bread. It would be a toss up.

It is crucial to use fresh Parmesan here. The powder in that plastic can just won’t cut it. While I love that stuff on my spaghetti, it would get lost in this dish.

The original recipe called for toasted almond slices but I had just used up the last of mine in a batch of granola so I didn’t use them. I will next time.

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Parmesan Rice Pilaf
Adapted from here

2 T butter
2 cups brown rice
3 T freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 t Italian herbs
1 t parsley flakes (fresh would be better)
1 t garlic salt
3 cups chicken stock
1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted

In a large sauce pan, melt the butter. Add the rice and toast for a few minutes. Add the cheese, herbs, and garlic salt. Give it a good stir. Pour in the chicken stock, cover the pot, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to very low and simmer for 45 to 60 minutes or until the rice is soft and the liquid is absorbed.

Turn off heat and let sit for a few more minutes. Top with extra Parmesan cheese and toasted almonds, if using. Serve immediately.

Serves 8

I know this looks like a winter dish and that’s probably what it was meant to be but have no fear…when served at room temperature it’s actually quite delicious on a scorching hot day!

Also, I felt I redeemed myself by adding fresh greens from the garden. That makes it spring-like, right?

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Creamy Sausage and Potatoes

Adapted from The Best of Mennonite Fellowship Meals

1 lb link pork sausage, cut in 1/2 inch chunks
1 onions, sliced
4 potatoes, diced
Water
1 leaf Swiss chard, chopped
Big pile spinach, chopped
1 cup milk
3 T flour
Salt, pepper
In a large pot, sauté sausage and onions until browned. Add the potatoes and water to almost cover. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, cover pot, and cook until potatoes are soft. Add the greens and cook a bit.
Make a slurry out of the milk and flour. Pour into the pot and cook until thickened. Taste and adjust seasonings as you like. Serve hot in the winter or allow to cool a while and serve on a warm summer day.

Serves: 4-6

Strawberry Vinaigrette

A friend of mine recently instagrammed a photo of a lovely looking dressing and kindly attached the recipe. I know I have three other salad dressings in the fridge right now but I made it anyway. ‘Tis the season!

This is a lovely and light dressing. The strawberry flavor is faint but it’s there. Delish!

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Strawberry Vinaigrette

Adapted from Christie’s recipe

1 cup sliced strawberries
3 T honey
1 T cider vinegar
1 T lemon juice
1/4 t salt
1/8 t pepper
1/8 t garlic powder
1/8 t dried basil
1/8 t dried parsley
1/4 cup olive oil

Purée strawberries. Add everything except the oil and whirl again. With blender running, slowly drizzle in the oil. Blend til smooth. Refrigerate in a jar.

Yield: 1 cup

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