What I’m Loving

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I periodically don’t cook or photograph for whatever reason – I’m lazy, the food isn’t attractive, the recipe is just not INTERESTING enough. The usual. This is good though, it makes me think outside of the box in terms of content. This lack of food to post is a great opportunity to tell you about the things I’ loving or obsessed with right now.

Millet: A couple of weeks ago I found a bag of millet my mom gave me and threw it in the rice cooker while I prepped a bunch of other stuff and threw together a quick grain salad. I adored it – the texture was wonderful. It was a really nutty, wonderful change to the brown rice BF and I have been eating recently. I have really been obsessed with my rice cooker recently – it cooks grains perfectly and it is so remarkably simple to use. As an added bonus it doesn’t heat up the house either so I don’t have to stand over a burner in warm weather. This summer expect a few rice and grain recipes to pop up here.

My Melitta Pour-Over Coffee Maker: This little piece of plastic is a dream come true. I’ve been at home in the mornings and for a long time just did tea instead of coffee, but I LOVE coffee. The taste, the texture, the caffeine, so I finally caved a couple weeks ago and grabbed a pour over coffee maker. I am so thankful I did. The brew is delicious and it’s so simple to make coffee in it that I’m back to a cup a day and relishing it.

My Porch: Is there anything as great as sitting on your back porch early in the morning and drinking coffee while you check in on your social media? I thought not. The birds are all loudly awake and kittenish goes absolutely bonkers. I’ve taken to bringing my cat to the porch with me so she gets a little outside time and I don’t have to worry about her taking off. She gets a bit fearless, jumping up onto our porch railing two stories above the ground, but she loves to chase the squirrels out there.

Polar Seltzer: Everyone is talking about Polar’s Summer flavors right now, and they’re amazing. I’ve been drinking them pretty much non-stop since I found them on sale at my local star market. The cucumber-melon made a SUBLIME mojito (with Privateer Rum, no less) and I can’t wait to try more flavors. I also love that Polar beverages are all made locally (the Polar company is over near Worcester). Not a fan of the odd summer flavors? Go for the Ruby Red Grapefruit – it’s fantastic with a bit of gin.

Homemade Iced Tea: Ever since that first warm day in mid April BF and I have had a pitcher of Iced Tea in our fridge. I’ve been using mostly Celestial Seasonings “Zinger” teas for it, they have such a nice full body and no caffeine. All of the zingers mix well too so you can swap out and exchange flavors, this week we have Raspberry-Lemon.

This Swimsuit: My sister got me this for my birthday in April. I’m SO EXCITED to go to the beach in it this summer, and in general, for beach days this summer. I want to go to the beach, play in the sand, read books, and most importantly, play a bit of skeeball.

The Boys Club: This is a great blog that my friend Brian and a few other cocktail obsessed bloggers put together – go here for all of your cocktail needs this summer. With a new post every day they cover everything from glassware to delicious drinks to breaking down what you’re drinking. WONDERFUL.

CTC International: I recently went to a great presentation by the founders of this company and learned a lot. They built s special needs school in Kenya! They donate money to rhino and elephant preservation! They are a non-profit donating to other non-profits. Also, they have butts on their bags. I love that.

Summer Beer: In the summer I pretty much only want to drink light beer or saisons. With their fun fruity flavors saisons are such lovely drinks for this season and I can drink them all day. Currently I’m plotting the takedown of Ommegang’s Hennepin Saison tonight. Saisons also pair well with my porch. Trying to stay local with summer beer is a cinch too – anything out of Jack’s Abbey is worth the time and a nicely chilled Bantam goes a long way towards cooling anyone down on those warm summer eves. For the more creative flavors head to the crew over at Night Shift – from a Habenero to a white stout they’re doing really cool things in beer. And Chris over at Notch makes low ABV beer (around 4%) that is always a light summer refreshment and keeps you upright.

Apple-Pear Snacking Cake

I pretty much always have apples or pears in my kitchen, they come in my Boston Organics box almost weekly so there tend to be three or four kicking around at all times. But here’s the slightly annoying thing – I don’t eat much fruit, I’ll grab a piece occasionally, I even went through a fit of eating oranges for days this summer, but in general if I want a snack I will reach for a slice of cheese or a yogurt before i grab fresh fruit. I think part of it is that I just don’t like that first bite. I find it terribly unpleasant to bite into an apple or pear if it is the least bit chilled – I know this makes me an anomaly in the world of fresh fruit eating, but I’m an odd duck that way. So eating fresh apples or pears means a cutting board or at least a bowl and a paring knife. Because, in case you didn’t know, fruit is MESSY guys, juicy and sticky it gets everywhere unless you have a bowl to catch the juice in. But I digress.

So really, you must be wondering why I spend my hard earned money on fresh fruit if I’m not even eating it – I love to bake with it. I love the way really ripe fruit will soften and pool in a jammy bite in a cake or muffin. I am entranced by any apple-spice cake combination. And a baked good with apples or pears in it is ALWAYS a crowd pleaser, for whatever reason. SO I finally figured I would share this recipe with you all. This is a recipe I’ve been using since I first picked up Flour over a year ago – I make it once a month or so (seriously, I’m obsessed with this cake) sometimes I add berries or whatever fruit I have lying around. I tweak it, I mostly follow the recipe, I coddle it. It makes my apartment smell like heaven. And, mostly, it makes a great accompaniment to coffee at breakfast or for that mid-afternoon pick-me-up.

If you like my facebook page you will see this cake as my header there. That picture has been there for a while and I’ve had at least three readers ask for that recipe, this is it. The difference between this cake and that one – I overcooked this one a smidge, but it’s still delicious. I also think this cake would be improved by a little drizzle of your favorite caramel sauce, because, decadent. I really do love the pear here though, it’s sweeter and cooks down a little softer than the apples so you get a little internal texture variation, which I love. If I were making this for only myself I would kick up the ginger a bit more as well, give it a little more zip, but BF isn’t the biggest ginger fan so I try not to overpower all my baking with it.

Apple-Pear Snacking Cake

This recipe is adapted from Joanne Chang’s Flour Cookbook. I’ve had this cake in the bakery and homemade – and it’s perfect in both places. I am looking forward to Flour, Too so much I may offer to beta test a few recipes for Ms. Chang, that way I don’t have to wait! Ha!

  • 1 3/4 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger (I think some finely minced crystallized ginger would be good here too)
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/8 tsp fresh ground nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 large eggs
  • 4 cups of fruit (at least 3 cups should be apples/pears the other cup can be berries or whatever you’ve got on hand)- peeled, seeded and chopped
  • Butter and flour a 10″ round or square cake pan, I use an 8″x11″ rectangle and it works perfectly. Preheat the oven to 350.
  • Sift the flour, soda, salt, and spices into the bowl of stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add the sugar and butter. Combine at low-medium speed until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  • Add the eggs one at a time and mix until fully incorporated. Turn the mixer on high and beat the batter until it is light and fluffy, about a minute. I find the batter a bit thick here, but don’t worry too much about it.
  • Using a rubber spatula, fold the fruit into the batter gently, making sure there is a bit of batter on all the fruit. The batter will be quite stiff and look like it’s mostly fruit – it should, that’s a good thing. Add the batter to the prepared pan and even it out gently.
  • Bake for about 1 hour in the 10″ pan and check it at 45 mins in the 8″x11″ one. When it is done the cake with be a nice golden brown and will fell firm when pressed.
  • Cool the cake completely in the pan on a wire rack (or somewhere that air can get around the WHOLE thing).
  • Serve the cake with a dusting of powdered sugar or a drizzle of caramel sauce.
  • I find this is a cake best eaten slightly warmed, the fruit gets all jammy and fragrant and it’s much more like a warm hug.
  • Serve with coffee. As breakfast, to your favorite people.

Dairy Free Pumpkin-Pecan Scones


Hello! I’m back and this time WITH SCONES. I’m sorry I know I’ve been absentee for two months (Ah!). I’ve been busy – I got a new job (two actually) that I think about a lot and my summer has been, well, a bit lazy. I haven’t been cooking so much. But, today marks the beginning of fall. So a new season means a fresh slate, and pumpkin, and apples, and nutmeg, and all the lovely flavors of fall. I can’t WAIT to get into the kitchen and start cooking, so here’s hoping I can come back here rejuvenated and full of new recipes for everyone. So, here you go, starting NOW: Pumpkin scones – WITHOUT DAIRY.
I am as accepting of a challenge as the next person (unless it’s squishy, or slimy, or in general unpleasant – then no, just no). So when BF’s family was visiting recently and his father requested scones made without dairy my mind started whirring, in that way it does.  I started thinking about butter alternatives (which seems like some sort of blasphemy coming from me) for BF’s dad, of course.  I pulled down books I loved, I searched blogs, and I checked my shelves for a semi-solid fat alternative, preferably with a good flavor. And then, I found it.  A can of coconut milk that had been sitting unshaken in my pantry.

I grabbed it almost immediately and started modifying the recipe I was thinking on.  Pumpkin (ok, I used Squash), cinnamon, coconut cream, flour, leavener, sugar – I was good to go.  I’ve been making these scones for about two months now.  They’re a little sweet and with a nice tartness from the berries. I love them.  BF loves them.  BF’s dad loves them.  They are universally loved.  These are best enjoyed with a debaucherous amount of butter, or jam, if butter’s not your thing.

Dairy-Free Pumpkin Raspberry Scones
Note: I love these scones and I will continue to make more of them without butter in the future. This recipe is adapted from one in The Best Quick Breads by Beth Hensberger, which is a book I can’t recommend highly enough. Especially if you like sweet breads. It’s perfect.

  • 2 cups flour
  • 3 Tbs dark brown sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp pie spice (or make your own with what you’ve got on hand)
  • 6 Tbs Coconut cream the fatty heavy stuff on the top on a can of unshaken coconut milk)
  • 1/3-1/2 cup fresh or frozen berries, I use raspberries or dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk (use the water from th can after you’ve gotten the cream from on top)
  • 1 tsp apple-cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree (I use One-Pie Squash, because it’s my favorite and canned in Maine from Maine pumpkins)
  • Cinnamon-Sugar
  • 1 egg gently beaten (for brushing the scones with)
  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and line a cookie sheet with parchment.
  • In a medium bowl combine the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spice. Mix until evenly combined.
  • Cut in the coconut cream – the mixture will look a little loose, it’s ok go with it. The nice thing about using coconut cream here instead of butter is that it doesnt require the labor that butter will to cut in. you should just be able to stir it with a fork and get nice little bits of fat.
  • Mix in the pecans.
  • In a small bowl (I usually just use a two cup measure) combine the pumpkin, coconut water, cider vinegar, and 1 egg. beat this with a fork until it comes together.
  • Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir to combine. Mix until everything just comes together.
  • Fold the raspberries in, gently.
  • Using a large cookie scoop, spoons work too, measure out the scones (I use a 2 oz cookie scoop, it makes my life easier). Place the scones on a cookie sheet 1 to 1 1/2 inches apart.
  • Brush the tops of the scones with the beaten egg and sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar.
  • Bake the scones for 20-25 minutes, until the tops are slightly golden and a toothpick comes out clean.
  • Serve these warm. With a smear of butter and coffee. They make a great afternoon snack later, too!
  • Enjoy!

What I’m Loving Right Now

I’ve been having a lot of remarkable experiences recently – and not cooking much, so my blog fodder has been light (sorry about that!). But in the meantime let me share some stuff I’ve been loving recently:

Boston Organics – I started getting a Boston Organics box every other week back at the beginning or April, I love it the way no ordinary person should. They have the BEST customer service I’ve ever experienced and the magic of opening my box is like a present. Boston Organics also lets me create a “no-list” so I can opt out of the bitter greens and things I just don’t want in my box (like avoiding yet another pound of carrots). They also have really neat Add-Ons program – this week I have “added-on” 1 pound of strawberries, half a pound of garlic scapes, and 3 lbs of rolled oats from Maine (look for a granola recipe soon). It’s grocery love.

Fat Toad Farm Goat’s Milk Caramel – A friend recently found a Woot deal for Fat Toad Farm caramel and sent me the caramel as a gift (becasue I am super spoiled, thanks Seth!). It is some of the best caramel I’ve eaten in a long time, I want to put it on a wedge of brie with some pears. Decadence.

Hyper Local Brew Fest – This is an amazing event I’ve helped to organize and put together to benefit Sustainable Business Networks of Boston. It’s going to be on Saturday June 16th and I am so looking forward to it. I’ve met and experienced some amazing craft brewers because of it and can’t wait to meet more! Want to come? Grab a ticket here: http://tinyurl.com/hlbrew

The Bloggess – I had barely heard of her before Friday, now I can’t stop. I added her to my Google Reader, have been reading her back posts, and broke down and bought myself a BRAND NEW hardcover copy of her book, something I never do, She is witty, wonderful, and writes about Nathan Fillion (and calls him Nater-Tater, WIN). Go check her out.

Boston Area Beer Enthusiasts Society (BABES) – My friend Kristen runs this great beer group, they meet once a month at Meadhall in Kendall Sq and pair delicious brews and snacks. This month the pairings are a comparison of west coast and east coast beers paired with east/west coast cheeses. It will be FAN-FREAKIN-TASTIC.
Garden Strawberries – There has been a strawberry takeover of my backyard. I love it. A quarter of the yard is covered in strawberries. I will cut them back after the fruit is gone but until then there are perfect strawberries for munching.

Craft Beer Cellar – I went in here Saturday and it is a magical wonderful space full of well curated craft brews. I wonder if they would mind if I just moved in and hunkered down?

Warm Weather and Sun Dresses – I live in sundresses in the summer, it’s how I roll. I don’t like shorts so an arsenal of good comfortable dresses is key. I’ve been loving the Lace Affair for inspiration and fun sales. I totally got a fun pin-up dress from them which I am going to wear to this little event!

So those are a few things I’m totally in love with. Hope everyone’s beginning of summer is going well and I will be back soon with a recipe, I promise!

Update: I’ve also been watching this video on repeat. It makes me ridiculously happy.

Yeast Risen Pumpkin Bread

Photo taken by Rachel Leah Blumenthal of Fork it Over, Boston and Boston Food Bloggers

There are some days that are just plain nasty.  It’s cold outside, or rainy, and all you really want to do is stay in, huddle up to a toasty oven and bake while reading a good book.  As fall sets in I am encountering more and more of those days.  Days where the rain outside makes everything gray and the world seems like it would be much more appealing in my warm and cozy, down comforter covered bed with a good book.  As I am home more on rainy days trying to come up with creative ways to spend my time that don’t involve replaying Diablo 2 (which is AMAZING) I head for the oven and my baking bibles - Flour, Boston Cooking School, the internet – whatever strikes my fancy and I bake a lot, usually more baking than BF and I can eat on our own, happens in the colder weather.  It’s an obsession, also – I tend to bake so I don’t have to turn up the heat!

This pumpkin bread was baked on one of those gross, rainy autumn days that kept me tied to my apartment and fidgety.  BF had been asking me to make monkey bread so I went to the pantry hunting for a recipe (really the only recipe I use, the one from Smitten Kitchen) but it was a white monkey bread, I wanted mine to be pumpkin – so I did what I always do when I don’t have a recipe for something, I called my mom.  After a discussion on the rain, yes it was raining in Maine and Boston (such craziness!) I got around to my question; can I sub in pumpkin for a liquid in bread or did she have a yeast bread recipe with pumpkin?  She paused, reprimanded my little brother and then proceeded to consult her wall of cookbooks.  As Mom searched her cookbooks I searched the net – to no joy, seriously the internet makes me a sad panda sometimes.  Mom however, was victorious – nestled in the pages of the King Arthur Flour 200th Anniversary Cookbook was a recipe for yeast risen pumpkin bread, what joy!  I flipped over the monkey bread recipe and wrote down ingredients and steps.  I was ready.

So I measured, mixed, kneaded, waited, shaped, waited, baked and ate.  Making yeast risen bread is one of my favorite activities and on a rainy day it was perfect.  And this bread?  I made it three ways – as a cinnamon roll (which I sent to work with BF), a plain loaf of pumpkin bread, and monkey bread (of course).  I think the cinnamon raisin bread was the best usage of the dough and next time I will not try to make it stretch so far.  The monkey bread was dense and over cooked :( and  the plain loaf lacked the oomph I was looking for.  But the cinnamon-raisin bread?  it was bread gold; rich and sweet without being cloying.  It was decadent and totally fantastic.

Yeast Risen Pumpkin Bread
Adapted via Mommy from the King Arthur Flour 200th Anniversary Cookbook
Note: This makes two full loaves, don’t try to stretch it into three unless you’re making mini loaves anyway.  I adapted this recipe a little bit out of necessity because I realized I only had one egg, so this is mine after the one egg change.

For the Bread Dough
1 1/2 cup milk, at 110 degrees (should be just warm to the touch)
1 Tbs sugar
2 Tbs yeast
1 Egg
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/4 cup pumpkin puree (I always use One Pie, made in Maine of Maine pumpkins :)
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
2 cups all purpose (AP) flour
1 Tbs salt
3 1/2 – 4 1/2 cups AP flour

For the Cinnamon raisin swirl
1/4 cup butter melted
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2-1 cup raisins

In a large bowl combine the milk, yeast, and sugar and allow it to get bubbly (2-3 mins).  Add the egg, butter, brown sugar, pumpkin, cinnamon, and nutmeg and mix until everything is fully incorporated and smooth.  Add the 2 cups of flour and salt to the liquid mixture.  It should look like a thick brownie batter at this point (but orangey as opposed to dark chocolatey).  Add the additional flour 1/4 cup at a time until the dough is no longer sticky and is in a nice dough ball.  Knead this dough ball for 3-4 minutes – until it is smooth and elastic. Allow the dough to rest for 3-4 minutes then briefly knead it again.  Put the fully kneaded dough into a large, clean, oiled bowl, cover it with either plastic wrap or a bread towel (one with no terry on it), and let it rise until doubled in volume.  This takes about two hours.  Maybe you should go watch a movie?  And since it’s October I will suggest Zombieland, because it’s fun.

After your dough has risen go ahead and punch it down, you know you want to.  Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured countertop and split it into two halves with a sharp knife (or counter scraper if yours is sharp like mine).  Move one half of the dough over to the side.  Roll the second half of the dough out until it’s about 9″ wide (this should be the height of your bread pan) and 15″ long.  Using a pastry brush, spread half of the melted butter onto the rolled out dough.  Sprinkle the melted butter with half of the brown sugar, cinnamon, and raisins.  Starting on the 9″ edge roll the dough up.  Tuck in the ends and place the loaf in a well greased pan with the seam side down.  Repeat with the second loaf of bread.  Cover the shaped loaves and let them rise a second time, this time for just half an hour or so to let the gluten calm down.

Place the bread loaves in a cold oven preheating to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, cook for 15 mins.  Turn down the temp to 375 and leave the loaves for 20 mins.  The loaves will be a nice golden brown when done.  When the bread is still hot rub butter over the top, this will keep the bread from getting too hard and dry and it will also infuse it with butter, which is AWESOME.  Eat this bread as breakfast or a late night snack, maybe with some Doves and Figs jam?