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 ]


Homemade mascarpone, from The Crunchy Chicken. I can’t wait to try this!

16 ounces (not ultra-pasteurized) organic whipping cream
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice

Bring 1 inch of water to a boil in a wide skillet. Reduce the heat to medium-low so the water is barely simmering. Pour the cream into a medium heat-resistant bowl, then place the bowl into the water in the skillet.

Heat the cream, stirring often, to 190 F. It will take about 15 minutes of gentle heating. Add the lemon juice and continue heating the mixture, stirring gently, until the cream curdles. The whipping cream will become thicker and will cover the back of your spoon thickly.

When the cream reaches temperature, keep it at temperature for 5 minutes, then remove the bowl from the water and let the mixture cool for about 20 minutes. In the meantime, line a sieve with four layers of dampened cheesecloth and set it over a bowl. Pour the mixture into the lined sieve. Once it is cooled completely, cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate in the sieve overnight or up to 24 hours. Transfer to a sealable storage container. Or your mouth, whichever comes first.

Yield: about 12 oz

Easy refrigerator pickled beets

From my mom, who can’t remember where she got it

2 lbs beets
1.5 c cider vinegar
1.5 T dry mustard
1/2 t salt
1.25 c sugar
2 medium onions, sliced thinly
2 t celery seeds

cook beets until tender, & drain, reserving 1 c cooking liquid; slip off skins & slice
heat vinegar & reserved water to a boil
mix mustard, salt, sugar; add to vinegar & let boil again
arrange beets & onions in layers in canning jar; add celery seeds & cover w/vinegar mixture
cool, refrigerate, use w/in 2 days

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” ]

Bangladeshi Red Lentils

This didn’t work so well the first time, but maybe with red lentils it would.

1 cup red lentils (skinless masoor dal), washed and drained
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
1 medium onion, half finely shopped and half cut into fine half rings
3/4-1 tsp salt
3 Tbsp olive or canola oil
2 cloves garlic, cut into thin slices
2-3 dried hot red chilies, each broken in half

Put the red lentils, 3 1/2 cups water, turmeric, and the chopped onions into a medium pan. Bring to a boil. Cover partially, turn heat to low, and cook 45 minutes or until the lentils are very tender. Add the salt and mix in.

Pour the oil into a small frying pan set over medium heat. When hot, put in the sliced onions and stri a few times. Add the garlic and chilies. Stir and fry until the onions and garlic have turned a rich golden-red color. Pour the contents of the frying pan into the pot with the dal. Stir to mix.

[ From “At Home with Madhur Jaffrey” ]

Red Lentils with Ginger

Tara really liked this, and the boys did too.

3 cloves garlic, crushed in a garlic press
1 tsp finely grated peeled fresh ginger
1 Tbsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
3 Tbsp olive or canola oil
4 Tbsp chopped onions
1 cup (5 ounces) finely chopped tomatoes
1 cup red lentils (skinless masoor dal), washed and drained
3/4-1 tsp salt
3 Tbsp chopped cilantro
1 Tbsp unsalted butter (optional)

Put the garlic, ginger, coriander, cumin, cayenne, and turmeric into a cup and mix.

Pour the oil into a wide, medium pan and set over medium heat. When hot, put in the onions. Stir and fry until they turn golden at the edges. Add the spice mixture from the ucp. Stir for a minute. Add the tomatoes. Stir and cook, scraping the bottom, until the tomatoes have softened. Now put in the red lentils, 3 1/2 cups water, and the salt. Bring to a boil. Cover partially, turn heat to low, and cook 45 minutes. Stir well and cook, uncovered, another 5 minutes. Stir in the cilantro and butter just before serving.

[ From “At Home with Madhur Jaffrey” ]

Yellow Basmati Rice with Sesame Seeds

A good, basic, rice. The split-peas don’t really work, so I may leave them out next time. Only down-side is the 30 minute prep on the rice, but you can do that while making other dishes.

2 cups basmati rice
2 tbsp olive or canola oil
1 dried hot red chili
1 tsp urad dal or yellow split peas
1 tsp whole brown or yellow mustard seeds
1 tbsp sesame seeds
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp salt, if desired

Put the rice in a bowl. Wash in several changes of water. Drain. Let the rice soak in water that covers it generously for 30 minutes. Drain through a sieve and leave in the sieve suspended over a bowl to drip.

Pour the oil into a heavy, medium pan (that has a tight-fitting lid) and set over medium-high heat. When hot, put in the red chili, urad dal, mustard seeds, and sesame seeds. As soon as the dal turns reddish an the mustard seeds begin to pop, add the drained rice, turmeric, and salt. Turn the heat down to medium. Stir very gently and sauté for a minute. Add 2 /3 cups water and bring to a boil. Cover tightly, turn heat to very, very low, and simmer gently for 25 minutes.

[ From “At Home with Madhur Jaffrey” ]

Baked Mexican Black Beans

Slightly adapted from How To Boil Water. Serves 4-6; prep time 2.5 hours.

1 pound black beans, soaked
3 slices bacon
1 large onion, roughly chopped
5 cloves garlic, chopped
2 t cumin
1 bay leaf
6 cups water or broth
1 jalapeno
2 t salt
1-2 cups chopped tomatoes
1 T cider vinegar

Cut bacon into thin strips, and cook in a dutch oven until almost crisp. Add onion, garlic, cumin, and bay leaf; cook until onion is tender.

Add beans, water, whole jalapeno, salt, some pepper. Scrape up any browned bits in pan. Bring to a boil, cover, and cook for ~1 hour. Add tomatoes, recover, and bake until beans are tender and soupy. Stir in vinegar.

Serve with accouterments — feta, cilantro, diced bell peppers, etc. Good over rice.