Pumpkin Muffins with Pepita Streusel Topping

Pumpkin Muffins

It’s almost Halloween, therefore it’s time to make Pumpkin muffins! I just served these to my adult ed computer class for our graduation party and they gave me their enthusiastic approval. The muffins are filled with nuts and chocolate chips for an extra treat. The first time I made these I put the pepitas (green pumpkin seeds) in the dough, but they came out a bit dry. I got the idea for the streusel from Aida Mollenkamp‘s recipe at http://saltandwind.com/recipes/407-apple-cinnamon-pumpkin-muffins-pepita-streusel-recipe although I added pumpkin pie spice to mine. Thanks Aida! The streusel made a good muffin great! These muffins are low in fat, using just 1 TB olive oil in the dough, and also fairly low in sugar. There is a nice taste of honey in it. I used the same method as my banana nut muffins recipe.

Ingredients

¼ cup 1% milk

1 tsp apple cider vinegar

1 cup unbleached white flour

½ teaspoon baking soda

2 tsp baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

1 cup finely ground whole wheat flour

¼ cup ground flax seed

2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (I use Trader Joe’s brand)

2 eggs

1/3 cup sugar

1 Tb olive oil

¼ cup honey

14 ounce can pumpkin puree

1 tsp vanilla extract

¼ cup unsweetened applesauce (I use the little packets that come in a package of 4)

1/3 semi-sweet chocolate chips (optional)

½ cup walnut and/or pecan pieces

For the streusel: 

3 TB  brown sugar

2 TB white flour

1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

a couple shakes sea salt

1/3 cup pepitas

2 TB  softened butter

Directions

Preheat oven to 350º F

Add vinegar to milk in a small cup. Let it sit while you are mixing the other ingredients. The milk should curdle.

Make the streusel:

Sift together the dry ingredients and whisk well in a small bowl. Mix in pepitas. Add softened butter and mix with your fingers until it comes together when squeezed. Cover it and freeze until ready to use.

Make the dough:

Sift both flours, baking soda, salt, baking powder, and pumpkin pie spice into a medium bowl. Add flax seed and whisk ingredients well.

Whip eggs in mixer until well combined. Add sugar and whip on high speed for 2-3 minutes until creamy. This is called making a ribbon. Pour 1 TB oil into a ¼ cup measure and coat it well, then add the oil to the egg mixture. Now pour the honey into the same measuring cup and it will slide right out into the mixer! Add the vanilla, applesauce and  pumpkin puree and mix well.

With the mixer on low, add 1/3 the milk and 1/3 the flour mixture, and then repeat twice. Mix only until ingredients are almost combined. Fold in nuts and chocolate chips until they are just combined.

Line muffin tins with paper muffin cups. Because of the low fat content of the ingredients, you should spray them with non-stick spray so they won’t stick to the muffins. Otherwise, spray the muffin tins directly. If you choose to make a pumpkin bread loaf, line it with parchment paper and spray it with non-stick spray.

Putting the streusel on:

Remove the streusel mix from the freezer. crumble it up with your fingers. Sprinkle a little bit on each muffin top so it comes out evenly. Press it down just a tap onto the muffin.

Place on the middle shelf of preheated oven. Bake loaf 45 minutes, muffins for 35 minutes, just until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out dry. Let cool on a rack a few minutes.

 

 

 

 

 

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Peachy Challah Bread Pudding

 

bread pudding serving1I made this with Challah left over from our Rosh Hashanah dinner. I stirred together the custard and bread the night before and let soak overnight in the fridge. The second time I made itn for the Yom Kippur break the fast dessert, I only had 15 minutes to soak the bread, and it was fine.  Either way, it made a yummy breakfast and dessert. If your challah is fresh, toast it lightly so it can absorb the custard. I put in seasonal fruit – in this case fresh peaches. You can also add blueberries or other soft fruit. The chocolate chips add a gooey richness.

challah braided in circleIngredients:

Canola nonstick spray

4 eggs, whisked well

2 cups warm milk (I used 1%) I drink lactose free milk, so that’s what I used.

1 tsp vanilla

3 Tb sugar

a few shakes salt

1 tsp cinnamon

A few shakes each nutmeg and pumpkin pie spice

1 Tb bourbon whiskey

About 1 1/2 cups leftover challah, torn into 1 inch pieces

2 Tb semi-sweet chocolate chips

3/4 cup pecans

2 large peaches, sliced

1/2 cup fresh blueberries

1 tsp butter for topping

1 tsp coarse sugar such as Demera

Directions:

Whip eggs well in a mixmaster or large bowl. Warm the milk in microwave, then stir in sugar, salt, vanilla, bourbon, and spices. Whisk into eggs. Stir in challah pieces. Cover bowl and refrigerate for a few hours, or overnight. If you don’t have time, it will still work to soak the bread about 15 minutes.

In the morning, preheat the oven to 350′ Set a large roasting pan in the oven with about 2 inches of warm water on the middle rack.

peaches n pecansSpray a flat casserole dish with nonstick canola oil spray. Cut up peaches and stir with blueberries, chocolate chips, and pecans. Spread in the bottom of the casserole dish.

bread pudding before bakingPour soaked bread and custard into the dish. Cut 1 tsp of butter into tiny pieces and scatter across the top. Sprinkle 1 tsp of Demera sugar over the top.

Carefully place the casserole dish into the the water bath in the roasting pan. Bake for 45 minutes. Serve warm (but it’s also good cold).

bread pudding serving

Grilled Eggplant Salad

eggplant salad

Perfect for a summer day when you don’t want to heat up the kitchen. Barbecue the eggplant and chop up the tomato and basil. Let the flavors meld awhile and serve room temperature.

Ingredients:

1 globe eggplant

3 Tb EVOO

1 Tb garlic infused olive oil

1 medium tomato, chopped

about 8 pitted Kalamata olives

8 basil leaves, julienned

2 mint leaves, julienned

1/2 tsp dried oregano

Juice of half a small lemon – about 1 Tb

1/4 tsp balsamic vinegar

salt to taste

a few shakes pepper

Directions:

Heat a grill to medium-low

Cut eggplant crosswise in 3/4 inch slices.  Combine oils and brush both sides of eggplant, then salt and pepper it. Grill until both sides are lightly browned with grill marks and are very soft. When eggplant cools, cut into small pieces. Mix with chopped tomato, olives, julienned basil and mint, and oregano. Whisk lemon juice and balsamic vinegar into the leftover olive oil and stir into the eggplant salad. Refrigerate several hours or overnight. Salt to taste. Serve at room temperature for best flavor.

 

Barbecued Salmon with Sumac

barbecued salmon with sumac

Marinate a salmon filet in olive oil, lemon juice, dried dill, salt and a sprinkle of the lemony Middle Eastern herb Sumac. Throw it on the grill for an easy and delicious summer meal. The salmon is moist and lemony.

marinade with sumac and dill lemon juice and olive oilMake the marinade with the juice of half a medium lemon and a couple of tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil (EVOO as the hipsters call it). Add a dash each of dried dill, salt and sumac. I buy the sumac in Arab markets in Berkeley. You can buy it online if you don’t have such markets where you live.

marinating salmonI marinated a 3/4 pound tail piece (tails don’t have bones) skin-side up, for about 15 minutes. Heat the grill to high and place the salmon skin-side down on it, basting the  salmon with a few tablespoons of marinade. Cover the grill and cook for about 5 minutes, until the top is pale in color and the skin is beginning to cook. Flip the salmon over and peel off the skin with a spatula. Baste the salmon with more marinade. Cook another 3-5 minutes until it is just done.

 

 

Strawberry Shortcake

strawberry shortcake on plateSpringtime brings juicy sweet strawberries that are wonderful just on their own. But sometimes an occasion begs for something fancier – in this case dinner with an old friend. I sweetened my recipe for Light as a Feather Cream Biscuits and added vanilla and a squeeze of lemon juice, spread them with freshly whipped cream and sliced ripe strawberries.

Makes 6 strawberry shortcakes

Ingredients:

1 cup flour

1/2  Tb baking powder

1/8 tsp salt (I use sea salt)

2 Tb sugar

3/4 cups cold cream. I put it in the freezer for 10-15 minutes before mixing it in the dough.

1 tsp lemon juice

1 tsp vanilla

1 1/2 tsp melted butter, cooled

For cream:

1/2 cup whipping cream

1 tsp vanilla

2 Tb sugar

1 pint strawberries (Organic is best. Farmer’s market organic is even better!)

Preheat oven to 450′

Melt butter and let it cool. Sift dry ingredients into a large bowl. Add cream, vanilla and lemon juice and slowly stir until the dough is shaggy.

Oil a cookie sheet. I use the insulated kind. Grab a piece of dough the size of the biscuit you wish to make. Dip each biscuit into the melted butter and place on the cookie sheet.

Bake for 10 – 12 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool until you can handle them, then split horizontally.

open biscuit

Add vanilla and sugar to 1/2 cup cream.  Whip until thick. Spread on biscuits. Slice strawberries and put atop the cream.

open strawberry shortcake

Cover and enjoy!

strawberry shortcake on plate

Spicy Salsa Verde

salsa-in-chili-serving-dish

This is an excellent spicy salsa to dip your chips in. You can mix it into a couple of smashed avocados for an tasty guacamole.

I doubled this salsa and added broth to it to make enchiladas verdes

Ingredients: Makes about a pint of salsa

ingredients

5 large tomatillos (about ½ pound), husks removed

½  small white onion, peeled

2 large garlic cloves, peeled

1 poblano chili

1 jalapeño pepper and 2 Serrano chili peppers (This will make a spicy sauce. Use less chilies if you want a milder sauce)

3/4 tea. salt (to taste)

juice of one lime

1/2 cup cilantro leaves, plus a few for garnish.

3 Tb pepitas (green pumpkin seeds)

1/4 tea. dried oregano

Preheat oven to 425’ Spray a baking pan with non-stick olive oil spray. Place tomatillos, chilies, garlic, and onion on baking pan.

Bake for 10 minutes, remove garlic and tomatillos, and flip other vegetables. Bake 10 minutes more, until chilies are charred and soft and onions begin to brown. Remove from oven and let cool in a bowl or container. You can do this part a day ahead and pop the container in the fridge.

https://rozmena.files.wordpress.com/2010/08/roasted-vegetables.jpg?w=530

Toast pepitas on a comal or heavy frying pan over medium heat until they begin to pop. Let them cool, then grind them in a clean coffee grinder or spice grinder. If you don’t have a grinder, you can run them in a food processor.

Remove stems and seed pod from chilies. Keep some seeds for extra spiciness

Remove stems from tomatillos over storage container or blender container since they will make a mess. Add roasted vegetables and liquid from them, ground pepitas, lime juice, oregano, cilantro, and salt. Blend until smooth.

 

Lemon Fruit Tart

lemon-tartI just made this lemon fruit tart for my daughter’s 24th birthday. She declared it the best birthday dessert she’s had. Which of course raises the bar for next year!

Although I didn’t have any rosemary blossoms on hand, I used lemon-rosemary tart pastry
(It still works without them.)

I filled it with lemon curd. I used the recipe from epicurious http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/lemon-tart-231349 which they call Lemon Sabayon:  I used a tad less sugar (2/3 cup instead of 3/4 cup) than their recipe called for. Here’s their recipe with the reduced sugar:

  • 2 large eggs, cold
  • 2 large egg yolks, cold
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 6 tablespoons (3 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces

    1. Bring about 1 1/2 inches of water to a boil in a pot that is slightly smaller than the diameter of the bowl you will be using for the sabayon. Meanwhile, in a large metal bowl, whisk the eggs, yolks, and sugar for about 1 minute, or until the mixture is smooth.
    2. Set the bowl over the pot and, using a large whisk, whip the mixture while you turn the bowl (for even heating). After about 2 minutes, when the eggs are foamy and have thickened, add one-third of the lemon juice. Continue to whisk vigorously and, when the mixture thickens again, add another one-third of the lemon juice. Whisk until the mixture thickens again, then add the remaining lemon juice. Continue whisking vigorously, still turning the bowl, until the mixture is thickened and light in color and the whisk leaves a trail in the bottom of the bowl. The total cooking time should be 8 to 10 minutes.
    3. Turn off the heat and leave the bowl over the water. Whisk in the butter a piece at a time. The sabayon may loosen slightly, but it will thicken and set as it cools. Pour the warm sabayon into the tart crust and place the pan on a baking sheet.
    4. Preheat the broiler. While the sabayon is still warm, place the tart under the broiler. Leaving the door open, brown the top of the sabayon, rotating the tart if necessary for even color; this will take only a few seconds, so do not leave the oven. Remove the tart from the broiler and let it sit for at least 1 hour before serving. Serve at room temperature or cold.

I topped the tart with raspberries, strawberries and pomegranate seeds. I put a slice of orange in the center, sprinkled with a bit of orange zest, and cut out the middle white part to place a candle inside.

candle-tart