Category Archives: In Our Kitchen

In our Kitchen: Slow-Cooked Pumpkin Oatmeal

This warm recipe is easy to make with leftover pumpkin or sweet potatoes from dinner, and makes a healthy breakfast that sticks with you for hours.  Steel-cut oats have a robust texture that holds up against the slow cooker, so this is truly a one-pot deal where you toss everything into the crockpot and leave it stewing overnight—and wake up to a delicious and good-smelling meal piping hot in the morning.

Ingredients:
5 cups water
3 cups baked (pie or sugar) pumpkin or sweet potato, lightly mashed
1 1/2 cups steel-cut oats
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup real maple syrup
1/3  cup plain soy milk
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves
Small handful pecans, roughly chopped
1 fresh Braeburn, Pink Lady, or Fuji apple, chopped into large chunks

Directions:
Place everything into a 4-6 quart slow cooker or crackpot; stir well.  Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours.  Serve piping hot with a drizzle of cold soy milk on top of each serving. Warm up leftovers with a little extra water.  Easy to freeze and reheat in portion-sized batches.

-Kristin

Photo by Kristin Carlson

In our Kitchen: Torta Pasqualina

This delicious savory pie was originally inspired by—and massively altered from—an Annette Joseph tidbit on DesignSponge.

Here’s my take on the recipe, which has turned out to be not only beautiful but also a sure-thing crowd pleaser.  With a whole wheat crust and fresh spinach and mushrooms easy to find in either winter or spring, this rustic tart is delicious and hearty across seasons.  You can also use herbs from your winter window box or early summer garden. We like it with a chardonnay in March or a rosé in May:

Crust:
2 C unbleached all-purpose flour
2 C whole wheat flour
1 T salt
1/2 C olive oil
1/2 C butter, cold, sliced into thin chunks
3/4 C ice water

Filling:
1/2 red onion, sliced
2 T olive oil
6 C fresh spinach, washed and roughly chopped, stems removed
2 C fresh crimini mushrooms, chopped, stems removed
6 grape or plum tomatoes, halved
1 C fresh parmesan cheese, grated
1 C ricotta cheese
1 T fresh marjoram or thyme
4 eggs for filling
1 egg for wash, beaten
Salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste

Sauté onion, spinach, and mushrooms with a bit of water, olive oil, and spices in a medium sauce pan till onion is translucent, mushrooms are tender, and spinach has cooked down.  Continue to cook until water from the spinach has evaporated; set aside to cool.

Mix crust ingredients in a large mixing bowl with a pastry cutter until dough comes together in small crumbs.  Form together with your hands until dough forms into a ball, pat into a disk, seal in large plastic bag or plastic wrap and chill 10-15 minutes while you complete the filling.

Mix cheeses and herbs in a separate bowl.  Combine with spinach mixture once the spinach has cooled; taste for salt and pepper.

Divide the dough in half, roll two crusts to fit a 10-inch pie plate.  Place one crust into ungreased pie plate, add completed vegetable and cheese filling mixture.

Using a soup spoon, make four indentations in the top of the filling and crack one of  your four eggs carefully into each indentation (yolks should remain whole).  Lay the tomato halves sliced side up on top of the filling, distributing evenly between the eggs.

Fold second crust into quarters and gently unfold it over the filling, being careful to keep the egg yolks whole.   Cut the extra edges of the crust from the edges of the pie plate, leaving about an inch on either half to fold and pinch the crusts.

Beat the last egg and brush over the top of the crust as a glaze.  Bake at 375 degrees on the middle rack of your oven for 60 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick tester comes out dry.

Bon appétit!
-Kristin

Photos by Kristin Carlson.

In Our Kitchen: French Bread with Winter Herbs

A great way to bring a fresh taste to baking in winter (when most fresh fruits are out of season) is using favorites from your herb barrel or window planter.  Our herb barrel moves from the porch to the kitchen in the colder months, bringing the smells of the garden and wonderful flavors indoors.  And, the warm scent of baking bread is nice at any time of year.  It’s fun to get creative with the toppings on these baguettes; here are a few of my favorites.

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IMG_2043 Baguettes with sage and rosemary, red onion and parmesan, and dill

French Bread with Winter Herbs


High-altitude adjustments based on Susan G. Purdy’s
basic baguette recipe in her awesome book, ‘Pie in the Sky

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Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (reduce to 2 1/8 tsp at high altitude)
1/4 cup warm water
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour (omit at high altitude)
3 to 3 1/2 cups unbleached bread flour (increase to 4 to 4 1/2 cups at high altitude)

Glaze:
1 large egg white
1 teaspoon water

Toppings:
Fresh dill flowers
Fresh sage leaves
Fresh rosemary sprigs
Sliced red onion and minced red onion
A shave of fresh Parmesan cheese

Instructions:
Combine the 1 1/2 cups water, olive oil, and salt in a small saucepan.  Warm until barely hot to the touch, remove from heat. In a small bowl, combine yeast, your 1/4 cup plain warm water, and sugar.  Stir and set aside till bubbling.  In a separate larger bowl, measure about half the flour and depress a well in the center.  Pour the warmed water/olive oil/salt mixture into the flour and add the yeast/warm water/sugar mixture.  Mix well for 3-4 minutes until dough starts to become elastic.  Continue stirring as you slowly add the rest of the flour, till the dough begins to come together in a slightly gooey, stretchy ball.  Better to add less flour than too much at this stage.

Kneading and rising:
Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface. Flour your hands, fold the dough toward you, give a quarter turn, and repeat.  Add more flour to your work surface as needed. Knead for about 10 minutes, until dough looks smooth on the surface but still feels soft to sticky on the inside.  Work in a little more flour as needed, but be careful not to make the dough too dry.

Form the dough into a ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl with oiled plastic wrap and a tea towel on top of it, in a warm place, for about an hour’s first rise until doubled in size. A cold oven with the heat off is a good place to let dough rise, with a baking pan of very hot water beneath it on the lowest rack. When the rise is completed, you should be able to poke two fingers into the top of the dough and have the indentations remain.

Once the dough has risen, punch it down to remove the air bubbles.  Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead once or twice.  Return to the oiled bowl for the second rise of about 45 minutes. Punch it down to flatten; knead a few times; form into a ball. Divide the ball into thirds with a knife. If you wish to add chopped herbs or minced onions to the interior of your loaves, now is the time (I add a tablespoon of minced onion for one; minced dill for another; and leave the third one plain).

Shaping and topping:
Shape the baguette into loaves by patting each ball of dough into a rough rectangle about 4-5 inches wide and 10 inches long. Working from the short end of the rectangle, rolling each loaf into a log.  Lengthen into a baguette shape by placing your palms flat, next to one another, in the center on top of each roll. Rock your hands gently back and forth, outward toward the ends of the loaves. The shaped baguettes should be about 15 inches long and 1 1/2 inches in diameter.

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Preheat the oven, place the shaped loaves onto greased baking sheets, and cover lightly with oiled plastic wrap. Place loaves in a warm rising location (not the oven, which is now preheating!) for the third and final rise of 20-30 minutes. They will rise about 1/3 to 1/2 their size again; they will not double during this rise.

Use a very sharp knife to make 4 diagonal slashes about 1/8 inch deep in the top of each loaf. Whisk the egg and water together for the glaze. Use a pastry brush to coat the loaves with the glaze, and attach your toppings to each (I use red onion slices and a sprinkle of freshly shaved parmesan on one; dill flowers on the second; and sage leaves and rosemary sprigs on the third).

Baking:
Sea level: preheat to 425, then bake at 400 for 15 minutes, and 350 for 15-20 minutes.  High altitude: preheat to 425, then bake at 400 for 20-22 minutes, and 350 for 20 minutes.

Position a baking pan of very hot water on the bottom rack of the oven while preheating.  Reduce heat as indicated, then bake the bread on the center rack. Also toss ice cubes onto the bottom of the oven 3 or 4 times during baking to create the traditional chewy texture (this does not make the crust crunchier).

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About 10 minutes before the end of baking time, remove the pan of water. If your baguettes seem crisp outside but look too pale, remove from the baking sheets and bake directly on the oven rack about 5 minutes more, watching them carefully to avoid over-baking. Bake until loaves are golden brown, and hollow-sounding when rapped on top.

Remove the loaves from the baking sheet and cool on wire racks.

Eat with a spread of butter, jam, or camembert.

-Kristin

Photos by Kristin Carlson

In Our Kitchen: Wintry Peppermint Cocktails

Something red, white, and chocolatey to sip this Valentine’s Day.

Peppermint Cocktails

Ingredients:
1 part vanilla vodka
1 part Irish cream
1 part peppermint schnapps

Garnish:
Crushed peppermint sticks

Dampen rims of martini glasses with a clean paper towel or cloth, turn upside down, and press onto a saucer of crushed peppermint sticks to coat the rim of each glass.  Combine vodka, Irish cream, and schnapps in a shaker with ice; mix well.  Strain into the garnished martini glasses and serve.

Cheers!  A frosty seasonal drink for Valentine’s Day or any winter holiday.

-Kristin

Photos by Kristin Carlson

Rosemary Lavender Biscotti

In Our Kitchen: Lavender Rosemary Biscotti with Honey

If you’re yearning for a little summer this winter, or looking for some special Valentine’s Day treats to bake, a pot of herbal tea and this easy homemade biscotti with a touch of dried lavender saved from the garden might do the trick. For me, flavors have the ability to bring back memories more vividly than almost anything else―even pictures.  Below please find my first ever attempt at French pastry making (which was deemed quite lovely by my happy taste-testers), and a few photos from that warmer season which inspired me to bake it.  Biting into them was almost like sitting on the porch in August, smelling daisies and lavender growing in the fields and watching the late summer sunset. Delicious.

Lavender Rosemary Biscotti with Honey

This recipe is inspired by the amazing book ‘Pie in the Sky‘ by Susan G. Purdy, with my own alterations to the basic recipe.

Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups flour (1/2 cup more as needed at high altitude)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder (reduce by 1/2 teaspoon at high altitude)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup pecans, toasted and finely chopped
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup honey
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (2 teaspoons at high altitude)
1 tablespoon crumbled lavender
2 teaspoons crumbled rosemary
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Directions:
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and nuts. In another bowl, cream together butter and sugar, beat in honey and the eggs. Add vanilla extract, lavender, rosemary, and lemon juice. Add the flour mixture, beat well, and mix in a little more flour as needed during shaping.

Gather the dough into a ball and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. If the dough feels sticky, work in more flour one tablespoon at a time up to 4 more tablespoons. You may need to chill the dough until firm. Divide the dough in half and shape gently into a log 13 inches long, 1 inch high, and 1 1/2 inches wide.  Place about 2 inches apart on a lightly greased cookie sheet.

Biscotti

The first bake, as loaves

Biscotti Slices

And the second bake, as slices

Baking:
Sea level, bake at 325 for 30 minutes and 275 for 15-20 minutes.  High altitude, bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes and 325 for 15-18 minutes.

Bake the loaves until dry and firm, for the first time and temperature indicated, until a toothpick tester comes out clean. Turn down the oven temperature as indicated.  Transfer each loaf to a cutting board and allow to cool for about 5 minutes.

With a serrated knife, slice the still-warm loaves into diagonal 1/2 inch pieces. Place the slices cut side down on the same cookie sheet (don’t re-grease). Bake at the second time and temperature indicated, until the slices feel crisp and dry to the touch.  The longer they slices bake this round the harder they will be, so check often to avoid making jawbreakers!

Cool on a rack and store the cooled biscotti in an airtight container.

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New Mexico in lavender harvest season

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Our porch in late summer, where we watch the sunset and smell the lavender

. . .

I recommend enjoying with some hot chamomile or peppermint tea, or berry or coconut sorbet!

-Kristin

Photos by Kristin Carlson