Sunday, October 31, 2010

Little Pumpkin Pie Sundaes

Happy Halloween!
As soon as I finish writing this post I intend to wiki "trick or treating" to figure out how this bizarre  tradition began.  Over the years, my affection for the Halloween holiday has ebbed and flowed.  In the early early years there was the enormous candy stash, the miserable attempt at getting costumes on our dog Impie (…named after the African warrior tribe...see the About tab), and the exhausting night of marathon trick-or-treating laps around the neighborhood.  And once the hurdle of adolescence was cleared and my true obsession with cooking and all things sweet began, Halloween became the best kind of holiday there is.  No awkward family dinners, no religious significance (apologies for the oversight on my Pagan readers) and lots of delicious fun to be had.  This week, although I will be participating in the usual hooplah (costume hint: Chilean Miner) I still wanted to make something with a touch more “young professional food blogger” and a hint less of “hungover Halloween hooker”. So this recipe is not just a celebration of the holiday and one of my most favorite traditions (pumpkin carving!) but also a warm welcome to the fall season and an affectionate nod to the winter treats to come.

I love pie.  But I’ve learnt in the worst of ways that no one likes bad pie, and when you accidently swap the sugar for the salt in a crust recipe you’re headed down a windy and dangerous road to bad pie.  The problem with pie baking is that you cant quite tell how its going to taste until it’s all finished and baked and you might (I speak from experience) be left with something used to melt the snow outside rather than warm your friends indoors.  Admittedly I tried to salvage this disaster by dusting the pieces with sugar before serving, to no avail.  So this recipe solves just that predicament.  You can taste the crust before serving anything and you can make the quantities much smaller so as not to be left with a half a leftover pie sitting in your fridge for days on end, past its prime and hiding the vegetables.

These are perfect for a cozy afternoon, a pumpkin carving party or a sweet dessert anytime in autumn.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Raisin Rye Round Bread

I love plump little raisins in my baking, so I love this recipe.  The bread is earthy, warm and inviting.  Making fresh bread has some magical ability to inspire piles of self confidence, because bread baking is such a hallmark of cooking talent. And even though this recipe is so quick and so easy, the feeling lasts just the same.  My friend Alix first introduced this recipe to me when she found it in a magazine when we were seniors at UCLA.  This was a time full of late night cooking sprees after coming home from late nights out in the Westwood “scene”.  Freshman year was about take out cheese-fries, but by the time graduation rolled around we were stumbling back at 2am to Alix’s off-campus apartment to bake raisin and Irish soda breads.  I hope the maturity of this progression is applauded.  Which proves (many things) but most relevant here, that the recipe is quite simple and produces outstanding results (comparable to 2am cheese-fries).

About My Blog

My mother has a passionate fear of any modern technology created to simplify life.  She prefers written checks to ATM cards, never shops online and is personally offended by the concept of call waiting.  She’s also from South Africa, so perhaps it’s to be expected that in 1973 when she moved here she carried with her to the New World both the British notion of formalities and niceties along with the African ideal of honoring our past.  So as is the logical progression, the whole concept of restaurant food, well established as it may seem to you and me, still innately bothers her.  Even if you’re eating at LeCirque it’s still an admonition that you are failing to prepare food for your own family.  And while I hardly subscribe to this life philosophy I can’t help but admit I think it has influenced my warm hearted and nostalgic indulgence for cooking.  But though the Barefoot Contessa and my Mom are my cooking inspirations, this blog is about the food I actually cook.  I don’t have a Cuisinart or a set of All-Clad pots and pans; my mom has instilled a mortal superstition in me that those are for girls that are married, and buying them prior to matrimony is tantamount to wearing a ring you bought yourself on your left hand.  So I persevere onwards, with my little recipes I make for lunches for one, dinners for two and desserts for my friends.  I don’t have too much money to spend on fancy ingredients and I don’t have too much time to spend baking.  Mostly because I get bored, cook only during commercial breaks of such classics as Jersey Shore and Gossip Girl, and often can’t decide what I’m going to make until I’ve just gotten home from work.  But once in a while, for something special, I’ll take the time to use an extra sprinkling of sugar.

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