Recent local blog posts

Pumpkin Roasting 101 & Gut Bread

Pure Hunger - Sun, 11/04/2012 - 1:00am

This is the first in a series on using a whole pumpkin. I mean the whole darn thing, well maybe except the skin. This is for all those who still have their little pumpkins lingering on their front door step long after the last fall leaf has turned yellow, orange, red and fallen to the ground. Am I the only one in this category? That’s embarrassing. To be honest, I didn’t even get a pumpkin for Halloween. We went to the pumpkin patch with my son the weekend before Halloween day and left with our hands empty. Out stomaches, however, were full of apple fritters and caramel apples. It was the real reason we went to the pumpkin patch. There may have been some motivation to take adorable photos, but the fritters were really our focus.

My mother was on her way to visit my sister the weekend after Halloween and noticed the farm stand she stopped at was giving away their pumpkins for free. She knows how much I love things that are free, especially food, and picked up a few for me. I had grand plans to use them right away but one weekend turned into the next and those orange globes were still staring me down. I had to admit, I was fairly intimidated. A whole pumpkin? What do you do with a whole pumpkin?

I took a deep breath and started doing what I always do when overwhelmed. I googled that shit. Turns out you can do a lot with a whole pumpkin. After poking around for a bit I got fairly excited. Then I stumbled on a recipe for bread you can make out of the guts of the pumpkin. I am the type of person to cut the mold off cheese or bread just so I don’t waste food. So the thought that I could make something edible out of a part of the pumpkin most people just toss out, was way too tempting to pass up.

With a focus, I found my drive and dove in knife first. The original recipe for the guts bread had way more sugar, eggs and white flour than I prefer, so I fiddled with it until I found my ideal recipe. Let me tell you, it’s incredible.

Before we jump ahead of ourselves, lets talk about what to do with the roasted flesh of the pumpkin. You can make a puree and freeze it or make pumpkin curry or pumpkin soup. I will have recipes for the last two in the next few posts. You can also just freeze the flesh as soon as it cools and let it thaw before using whole in recipes.

To roast pumpkin: preheat oven to 400. Cut whole pumpkin in half and then each half into several pieces.  Scrape out the insides, saving the seeds for roasting and the guts for bread. Place pumpkin on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive or canola oil, season with salt and pepper.  Roast in oven until tender but not falling apart, about 30 to 40 minutes. Let cool, peel skin off, and dice.

While the pumpkin is roasting, make bread. Preheat oven to 350 F or just turn it down once you remove the roasted pumpkin from the oven. Use your fingers and a pair of scissors to separate the pumpkin guts, making sure they’ll be able to mix well into the batter. Mix flax and chia with maple syrup and let sit for 15 minutes.

Combine flours, baking soda, salt, pumpkin pie spice, and sugar in large mixing bowl. Add flax/chia mixture, applesauce and pumpkin guts. Stir until blended. Pour into two 9×5″ loaf pans. Bake 50-60 minutes. Cool slightly and take out of pans to let cool on a rack. I made this bread last night and one loaf is already demolished. So unbelievably good. As a bonus? The guts have the same nutritional value as the pumpkin flesh itself!

Makes 2 loaves:
2 cups whole wheat flour
1.5 cups white flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. salt
4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup maple syrup
2 Tbsp ground flax seed
2 Tbsp Chia seeds
1 cup applesauce or 2 ripe bananas
2 cups pumpkin guts, seeds removed

Categories: Local Food Blogs

Squash Bean Burritos

Pure Hunger - Sun, 11/04/2012 - 1:00am

There is this story about the creation of play-doh. When coal was the original heat source for homes, it often left black soot on wall paper. Play-doh was originally created to clean wall paper of the soot. When the industrial revolution, occurred, and people began relying on other forms of energy to heat their homes, the creator of play-doh thought his product was obsolete. His sister, a teacher, brought some of the play-doh to school to try with her children, as modeling clay was very firm and somewhat toxic for kids. Turns out, as you know, they loved it. So why the hell am I talking about play-doh on a cooking blog? When we think we may be headed for failure, often we just need a way to get new perspective to find success.

This happened the other night, when I was making dinner. I had found the recipe on her blog and was excited about the flavor combinations. It was Halloween, I knew we would be out late so I prepared many of the ingredients ahead of time. My son was dressed as Steve Jobs and we stayed downtown for the afternoon because he is so little and it was fun. We got home right around dinner time and as I began assembling the ingredients I realized, to my dismay, I had completely forgotten to make the rice. Key ingredient in my opinion.

My excitement quickly turned to self abuse and words like “stupid” and “idiot” flew out of my mouth. I was just a click away from dialing for sushi when I told myself to just stop, breathe, and think. Within a few moments, I realized I could make quinoa in just 15 minutes and it would have a much greater health profile than brown rice. As the recipe does not have much in the way of protein, it would also boost that number considerably. Success. Oh and it tasted damn good.

Preheat oven to 425F and line a large glass dish with tinfoil. Drizzle olive oil on squash and give a shake of salt and pepper. Coat with hands. Roast chopped butternut squash for 45 mins. or until tender. You can also buy frozen bags of cubed squash.

Heat burrito shell in microwave for 15 seconds. Top with beans, spices, squash, cheese, quinoa and other additional toppings of your choice. I added avocado and spinach. Wrap. The original recipe has you sauté it all with garlic and onions. I think this would also be a great idea. In the interest of time, I skipped this step.

Just in case you were curious. This is my son, as Steve Jobs.

1 medium butternut squash, peeled, cubed, & roasted
1/2 cup cooked quinoa
1 tsp kosher salt, or to taste
2 tsp ground cumin, or to taste
2 tsp curry powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp smoked paprika or to taste (optional)
One 15-oz can black beans (about 1.5-2 cups cooked), drained and rinsed
3/4 cup cheese
4 tortilla wraps (large or x-large)
Toppings of choice: (avocado, sour cream, spinach/lettuce, cilantro, etc)

Categories: Local Food Blogs

Curry Carrot Coconut Soup

Pure Hunger - Sun, 11/04/2012 - 1:00am

I’m torn. I am mourning the loss of daylight in the evening hours for a multitude of reasons. Cold season, long walks after dinner, playing with my son just before we do our bath time routine in the warmth of the sunlight, trips to the park to get out that last burst of energy and the natural light that makes my photos for this blog look decent. I am celebrating the coming of fall in just as many ways. The leaves changing color and falling to the ground; making the world burst with life, soups, cider and comfort food. While these photos are in no way my best work, the recipe is. I am ordering you to forget whatever ideas you had for dinner tonight and make this, now.

If you are plagued with a cold, even more reason. It is seriously quick, easy and just brimming with incredible flavors. The curry and cayenne will knock the snot right out of our sinuses. I was very pessimistic about this recipe but needed something warm, bright and easy to make this last week. I also happened to have all the ingredients on hand. I had canned soup as a back up but it was completely unnecessary. I’m actually fairly devastated I ate the last of it two days ago and already planning in making more this weekend.

Melt oil/butter in large saucepan over high heat. Cook onion, garlic, curry paste, cayenne, and salt until fragrant, stirring often, about 2 minutes. Add carrots and broth, coconut milk and cook, covered, until carrots are very tender. Puree soup with immersion blender or regular blender until smooth. I left some carrot chunks as I like that in a soup. You can add yogurt, cilantro or nothing at all to finish it off.

Adapted from Sunset Magazine March 2011
1 Tbsp coconut oil/butter
1/2 small onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tsp curry paste (or 1 tsp for more mild flavor)
1/4 tsp cayenne (or less for less heat)
1/2 tsp salt
1 lb carrots, chopped
2 cups chicken broth
1 (15oz) can coconut milk

Categories: Local Food Blogs

Pecan Crusted Fish with Apple Salsa

Pure Hunger - Sat, 09/29/2012 - 1:00am

I have long had an aversion to making fish. There has never, however, been an aversion to eating it. As a good friend would say, I can pound that stuff. Unfortunately, my consumption of said scaly friend has been limited to restaurants or trips to Mexico. It wasn’t until recently that I really started to feel like I was mastering this skill with enough precision that I could make it a regular spot on our weekly menu. While feeling particularly uninspired in the cooking arena last week, I took it up on myself to peruse my pile of recipes I have torn out of magazines. These recipes are torn with the intention that I will cook them for dinner that week, then inevitably, I wind up making this or this and the recipe goes into “the pile”.

I sorted through that pile with a mission and found several recipes that made me curious and salivate. Necessary requirements when in a cooking slump. This took very very little time or planning but did require a few ingredients you may not have on hand at home. I tell you it’s worth whatever extra trip you need to make to the store to make this happen in your house this week. The original recipe is a meal on its own but I also made coconut greens to add additional vegetables and taste.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Make crust: Whirl ingredients in food processor or blender until nuts are finely chopped.

Make fish: Brush fish with 3 Tbsp butter/coconut oil, pat nut mixture all over fish, and set on a greased baking sheet. Cook just until fish is opaque in center, 10-15 minutes. The thicker the fish, the longer it will cook. When it flakes easily when prodded a bit with a fork it is done.

Make salsa: Heat 3 Tbsp butter/oil in medium frying pan over medium-low heat, add shallots/onions and apple, and cook until slightly softened, about 2 minutes; remove from heat. In a small bowl, whisk together lemon juice and remaining ingredients; stir into apple mixture.

Serve halibut with apple salsa and sprinkle with a little more thyme.

Adapted from Sunset Magazine September 2011

Hazelnut crust
3/4 cup toasted hazelnuts
1/8 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cayenne
1 Tbsp lemon zest
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves or 1/2 tsp dried

Fish and Salsa
4 white fish fillets
6 Tbsp melted unsalted butter/coconut oil
2 tbsp minced shallots/onions
1 3/4 cups chopped apple
2 Tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp mustard (Dijon, Honey, Yellow)
1/2 tsp chopped fresh thyme leaves or 1/4 tsp dried
1/4 tsp salt and pepper
pinch of cayenne

Coconut greens

Categories: Local Food Blogs
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