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Friday, November 21, 2014

Caramel Pumpkin Pie


From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...Some foods are so closely associated with the holidays that it seems crass to overlook them. Every time I try to retire one of our holiday pies, the ghosts of Thanksgiving past come back to haunt me. Mincemeat gained a permanent place at our table because it was Grandpa Andy's favorite, and despite the fact that no one eats it, everyone insists we have one for the holiday. I go through the same dance with pumpkin pie. It has never been anyone's favorite, but it's so much a part of Thanksgiving tradition that it, too, always appears on our table. I do have a confession to make. I play with pumpkin pie, as a matter of fact I shamelessly play with pumpkin pie, and every year I give a new recipe a try. This year I came across a version that uses hot caramel syrup to sweeten the pumpkin custard. Given my track record and the fact the recipe came from Food and Wine magazine, there was no question as to what this year's version of the pie would be. I must admit I was pleasantly surprised with the results. This pie is less spicy than most, but what could be bland pumpkin comes alive with notes of butterscotch flavoring the custard. I think you'll like this and those of you who enjoy butterscotch might even love it. Be sure to use a large saucepan when making the syrup. It will foam and bubble furiously when cream is added to it and you are going to want a pan large enough to contain it and prevent burns. This pie is a bit more involved to make than most, but if you are looking for a modern take on an old favorite, you might want to give this one a try. Here is how the pie is made.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Cranberry, Orange and Cornmeal Cake


From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...While everyone is familiar with the ingredients used in tonight's feature, the use of cranberries and orange in conjunction with cornmeal is not something we see every day. I honed in on this recipe, which comes from the LA Times, because I was looking for something unusual for a holiday brunch and I thought the combination of the three ingredients was different enough to be interesting. As I suspected, the cornmeal added great texture to the cake, while the mingling of vanilla and maple syrup wonderfully highlighted the flavors of the tart cranberries and orange zest. This cake is quite moist for one that is made with cornmeal. The moisture comes from the use of ricotta cheese which in this recipe serves as a liquid ingredient. The cake has a rustic appearance and the cranberries add a pop of color that make it perfect for a holiday table. The cake is not hard to make, but I do have one caution to share with you. Make sure the center of the cake is done before you remove it from the oven. The very center of mine fell, ever so slightly, as the cake cooled. The next time I make this, I plan to use a tube pan to assure that this doesn't happen again. I really liked the richness and texture of this cake. I do hope you'll give the recipe a try. Here is how the cake is made.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Brown Sugar and Sweet Potato Bundt Cake


From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...I would so love to tell you that I'm set for the upcoming holiday, but that would be a stretch of such magnitude that even Old Nick would blush. Truth is, I still have no idea how many people will be seated at my table, much less what I'm going to feed them, and until that gets sorted out my motto is going to be "Let them eat cake." Fortunately, I've been experimenting with a handful of cakes that are so good you could make a meal out of them. This one would actually contribute to the vegetable component of the meal. The recipe comes from The Washington Post and those of you who give it a try will really be delighted. I happen to love this cake and it will be making repeated appearances on my fall and winter table. It is a well-spiced cake that gets its moisture from pureed sweet potatoes or pumpkin. While I have never seen pureed sweet potatoes in markets around here, I wanted to follow the recipe as it was written, so I boiled and pureed the potatoes needed to make the cake rather than use canned pumpkin puree. The cake has a moist crumb and a slightly crisped crust that gives it fabulous texture. It is a good keeper, and while it might be too heavy to serve at the end of a big meal, it would make a perfect company or snack cake for the remainder of the holiday weekend. I really hope you'll try this one. While I can't tell you the cake is good for you, I can tell you that sweet potatoes were once the main source of nourishment for homesteaders and soldiers during the Revolutionary War. That has to count for something. Here is how the cake is made.

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