Spiced Pumpkin Squares

Moist and chewy, these brownies are a lovely autumn dessert, either served plain or adorned with your favorite topping. The recipe is perfect for making with children — easy to prepare, easy to eat, and yummy, too.

These just might be T’s favorite baked good, and if not then darned close. Tops nicely with powdered sugar or whipped cream.

Pumpkin Mixture:

1/2 C butter
1 C packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
3/4 C cooked pumpkin purée

Dry Ingredients:

1 C unbleached white flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/2 C chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter the baking pan and dust it with flour.

With an electric mixer, cream together the butter and brown sugar until light and well blended. Beat in the egg. Add the vanilla and the pumpkin purée and continue to beat until thoroughly mixed. Sift together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, ginger, and allspice and stir them into the pumpkin mixture to form a smooth batter. Fold in the chopped walnuts by hand.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Cool for about 15 minutes before cutting into squares.

Prep: 20 minutes
Baking time: 40 minutes
Cooling time: 15 minutes
Equipment: 8-inch square baking pan, electric mixer
Yields: 9

[ From “Moosewood Restaurant Book of Desserts” by The Moosewood Collective ]

Carrot Cake

from seriouseats; everybody really liked it when Mom made it for Peter’s birthday. The pineapple gives a wonderful extra moistness…
Serious Eats: Recipes
Carrot Sheet Cake

Posted by Carrie Vasios, April 14, 2011
serves 15, active time 35 minutes, total time 1 hour, 20 minutes


For Cake:
* 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
* 2 teaspoons baking soda
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 2 teaspoons cinnamon
* 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
* 1 cup sugar
* 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
* 3 eggs
* 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
* 3 cups freshly grated carrots
* 1/2 cup crushed pineapple
* 1 cup raisins

For Cream Cheese Frosting:
* 8 ounces cream cheese
* 1 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
* 1/4 cup butter, at room temperature
* 1 teaspoon vanilla
* 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice


1. To Make Cake: Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9 by 13 inch baking pan.
2. In a large bowl, mix flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, brown sugar, and white sugar.
3. Beat butter into flour mixture until well combined and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Beat in eggs one at a time. Beat in vanilla. Stir in crushed pineapple, carrots, and raisins until evenly distributed in batter.
4. Pour batter into greased baking pan (it is a bit of a thick batter). Bake for 40 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. Let cool.
5. To Make Frosting: Put all ingredients for frosting in the bowl of a food processor. Blend until smooth. Spread frosting over top of cake.

Russian Apple Cake (Sharlotka)

From Francis Lam, at salon.com. This was really, really good. Fast to make, and quite tasty, and it went *fast* when we took it to a party. Yum!

Russian apple cake (Sharlotka)
Makes a 10-inch round cake, serves 8

3 large Granny Smith or other sweet-tart baking apples
Juice from ½ lemon
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
Pinch baking soda
Butter for pan

1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Peel, core, and cut apples into ½-inch dice, and toss with enough lemon juice so that the tartness hits you first, and then fades to the apples’ sweetness, probably about ½ a lemon’s worth.
3. Whisk eggs to combine them, and whisk in sugar until you can’t feel it crunching anymore. Add flour and a full, finger-and-thumb pinch of baking soda, and whisk to combine into a thick batter.
4. Heavily butter a 10-inch round pan; a frying pan works beautifully. “I never saw a cake pan in Russia,” Kevin says. “And I feel like using a frying pan kind of fits — quick and improvisational, you know?” Add the apples and spread them out, then pour the batter on top. Shake the pan a little to even it all out.
5. Bake it until you get a puffed, light sandy brown with a craggy surface, and a toothpick comes out clean, except for bits of apple. Check the cake after 30 minutes, but depending on your pan, the baking may take up to 45.
6. When it’s ready, set a large plate upside down over the pan, and with towels or oven mitts, hold the plate and pan together, flip, and give it a good shake so the cake falls onto the plate. If it’s stuck in the pan, use a thin spatula or knife to loosen the edges of the cake. The bottom-now-top of the cake should be a deep, caramelized brown.

Let cool slightly and serve with tea.”You have to have tea after a Russian meal,” Kevin said. “They drink black tea. They don’t drink mint tea. They think mint tea makes a man impotent,” he continued, as he poured hot water over my bag of mint leaves.

Bangladeshi White Chicken Korma

This was freaking fantastic. However, having somebody else cut up the chicken (or just using quarters/breasts) would probably help. If you have a whole chicken to work with though, cut it up! Note, you probably want to have as wide of a pan/pot to cook this in, so you’re not trying to cycle the chicken pieces around to cook in the sauce. Or, don’t use a 4.5 pound chicken :)

4 Tbsp olive or canola oil or ghee
Three 3-inch cinnamon sticks
3 bay leaves
10 cardamom pods
1 medium onion, sliced into fine half rings
One 3 3/4-pound chicken, skinned and cut into small serving pieces (breast into 6 pieces, each leg into 2 pieces, wings into 3 pieces, back into 3 pieces, neck into 2 pieces)
1/2 medium onion, chopped very finely
3 Tbsp finely grated peeled fresh ginger (use a fine microplane)
6 cloves garlic, crushed to a pulp with a garlic press
1/2 cup acidophilus yogurt, or plain yogurt plus 1 Tbsp lemon juice, beaten until smooth
1 1/4 tsp salt
1-2 tsp finely chopped fresh hot green chilies

Put the oil into a large sauté pan or a large, deep frying pan and set over medium-high heat. When the oil is really hot, put in the cinnamon, bay leaves, and cardamom. Stir for 10 seconds as the spices sizzle. Add the sliced onions. Stir and fry for about 3 minutes or until the onions brown a bit. Add the chicken pieces. Stir and cook 5-6 minutes or until the chicken pieces brown lightly. Add the chopped onions, the ginger, and the garlic. Stir and fry for 2 minutes. Add the yogurt and salt. Stir and cook for 10 minutes. Add the chilies and 3 Tbsp water. Bring to a simmer. Cover, turn heat to low, and simmer very gently for another 10-15 minutes or until the chicken is tender.

[ From “At Home with Madhur Jaffrey” ]

Sayaingen no gomayogoshi (String bean salad with sesame seed dressing)

From a much-mimeographed (yes, really!) set of recipes my mom got in a how-to-make-sushi class she took many, many years ago. These beans are to die for, they are that good. Truly. AT LEAST double the recipe, but I recommend quadrupling it.

1/2 lb string beans, boiled and then cut diagonally (cutting them after boiling keeps them from getting soggy, or so say the hand-written notes)
6 Tbs. sesame seeds, ground (Can use a mortar and pestle, if you’re crazy, or a blender or food processor if you enjoy modern conveniences and want to eat sometime this year. <- my notes) 3 Tbs sugar 3 Tbs shoyu (soy sauce. tamari will work too, of course) 1. Boil string beans in water with a pinch of salt for 3-5 minutes. 2. Drain the beans and rinse in cold running water, drain well. (Handwritten: important, to keep the color.) 3. In a bowl, combine sesame, sugar, and shoyu. Add beans. Mix well.

Roasted Japanese Sweet Potatoes With Scallion Butter

from Gourmet… These are really splendid; they’re easy to make but add the perfect touch to holiday meals — and, really, any time. Of course, I love Japanese Sweet Potatoes anyway, which probably helps. :)


* Active time:10 min
* Start to finish:1 1/4 hr

November 2007
If you’ve never had pale-fleshed Japanese sweet potatoes before, you’ll be surprised by their subtler, drier flesh, which tastes unmistakably of chestnut. A bit of miso mixed into the scallion butter stealthily rounds out the interplay of sweet and umami that will have you eating all the way through to the last flaky remnants of skin.

* 8 small slender Japanese or Garnet sweet potatoes (4 to 5 lb total)
* 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, well softened
* 1 1/2 tablespoons miso paste (preferably white)
* 3 tablespoons finely chopped scallion

* Preheat oven to 450°F with rack in upper third.
* Prick potatoes all over with a fork and put on a foil-lined large baking sheet. Bake until very soft when squeezed, 45 minutes to 1 hour.
* While potatoes bake, stir together butter, miso, and scallion until combined.
* Slit hot potatoes lengthwise and, using oven mitts, push in sides to puff up potato. Serve with some scallion butter in center of each and with additional scallion butter on the side.

Cooks’ notes:

* Scallion butter can be made 4 days ahead and chilled, covered. Bring to warm room temperature and stir before using.
* Sweet potatoes can be roasted (but not cut) 4 hours ahead and kept at room temperature, covered with foil. Reheat potatoes on a baking sheet on middle rack of a 350°F oven until heated through, about 20 minutes.

Recipe by Lillian Chou

Pecan Pie

Because organic corn syrup is FINALLY available, woohoo. :) It’s so much easier than I thought, especially if you use a “boughten” crust. Big hit at Thanksgiving.

From AllRecipes.
“The proportions of sugar, corn syrup, eggs, vanilla, and pecans are perfectly balanced. This is the quintessential pecan pie, made even more wonderful with a dollop of whipped cream.”
1 (9 inch) pie shell
3/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup light corn syrup
3 eggs, beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 pinch salt
1 cup chopped pecans
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
2. Prick pastry shell in several places with a fork and bake in preheated oven for 5 minutes. Remove and allow to cool.
3. In a large bowl, combine sugar, corn syrup, eggs, vanilla, salt, and pecans. Mix well, then pour into pie shell.
4. Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes. Check after 30 minutes; if crust is getting too brown, cover edges with aluminum foil. When done, pie will be a little loose in center, but will set as it cools; do not overbake.

Comments recommend adding 1/4 cup of butter and 1 T of flour.

A Big Tomato Sandwich

From Local Flavors, which is one of my favorite cookbooks. I haven’t made anything bad from it yet, and I’ve been using it for years now. Seriously, I recommend this cookbook to everybody who tries to live eating somewhat seasonally and locally.

From the cookbook:

Taking the feast or famine approach, we live on tomato sandwiches from the moment tomatoes appear in the market to the first killing frost. Then none until next year. Crusty, strong-textured ciabatta is the ideal bread. The holes drink in the juice, but the bread is strong enough that it won’t fall apart. Tomatoes of choice are brandywines, striped germans, carmelo, and costoluto genovese.

1 large (1-lb) loaf ciabatta
Herb vinaigrette, below
2 or more big, ripe, juicy tomatoes
1 large red or yellow bell pepper, roasted, peeled, and quartered
4 oz fresh mozzarella, goat, or other favorite cheese, sliced
sea salt and freshly ground pepper

1. Slice the top third off the loaf of bread and set it aside. Pull out the inside. (You can use it to make bread crumbs.)
2. Paint the inside of the bread with some of the dressing, then make layers of sliced tomatoes, pepper, and cheese. Bathe each layer with the dressing and season with salt and pepper.
3. Add the top, press down, then cut into quarters or sixths. This packs well if wrapped tightly.

Herb Vinaigrette
1/4 c basil leaves
1 T chopped marjoram
1 T chopped parsley
1 small garlic clove, minced
1/3 C EVOO
4 t aged red wine vinegar
sea salt & freshly ground pepper

Finely chop the herbs with the garlic, then add the olive oil. Add the vinegar and 1/4 t salt and season with pepper. Taste and adjust the seasonings if needed.

My comments: This is very forgiving of improvization. I use different herbs all the time, depending on what I can find, and usually use less EVOO and more vinegar (and sometimes balsalmic instead of “aged red wine”). Sometimes I use a freshly-roasted pepper, sometimes jarred roasted peppers, sometimes no peppers at all. I often chop the peppers just to make biting easier. Oh, and I tend to use a bigger bread, more tomatoes of different varieties, etc, to make it really big because everybody likes it AND wants leftovers. It is SO pretty and SO tasty.

Lamb Kabob Marinade

Our kabobs.
From our friends at Shepherd’s Lamb.

1/4 c olive oil
1/4 c lime juice
1/4 to 1/2 c grated onion
2-3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1 T dried Italian Seasonings, OR 1 t thyme, 1 t marjoram
1 T plain yogurt (optional)
salt & pepper to taste

This is enough for 1-2 lbs lamb kabob meat.

My notes: The first time we made this, I think we used more lime juice than it called for, and we let it marinade for two days. It was so amazingly tasty. I could have eaten only lamb kabobs forever. (We made them with squash and eggplant, because that’s what’s in season now.) SO GOOD.

Sloppy Joes

From allrecipes.com

1 pound lean ground beef
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped green bell pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon prepared yellow mustard
3/4 cup ketchup
3 teaspoons brown sugar
salt to taste
ground black pepper to taste
1. In a medium skillet over medium heat, brown the ground beef, onion, and green pepper; drain off liquids.
2. Stir in the garlic powder, mustard, ketchup, and brown sugar; mix thoroughly. Reduce heat, and simmer for 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

My notes:
Even the kids liked this. That’s impressive, because Mr T won’t eat anything with green in it, but I guess I cut it finely enough that he didn’t notice. Yay.