Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Gingerbread Pear Cupcakes

These cupcakes are extra moist because of the fresh pear. Feel free to substitute white flour; I used a white/whole wheat mix, and my cupcakes were a little dense. The ginger flavor is fairly mild; add more ground ginger if you would like more intensity. I have not tried this recipe with fresh grated ginger, but that might be a good experiment.

You can also add a dash of ground nutmeg to the batter, and serve with ice cream instead of icing (or no topping at all).
This recipe makes 6 cupcakes.
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup light molasses
  • 3/4 cup self-rising flour
  • 3/8 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 small ripe pear, peeled, cored and chopped
  • 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 6-cup muffin pan with paper liners.
Over low heat, melt half of the butter with all but 1/2 teaspoon of molasses. Stir until they are combined, and then set aside. In a mixing bowl, combine the two flours, 3/4 tablespoon of ginger and the baking soda. Add the brown sugar. In a separate bowl, combine the egg, milk and cooled butter and molasses. Add the flour mixture all at once, along with the pear. Stir until the batter is moistened, and divide among the paper liners. Bake the cupcakes for about 20-25 minutes and cool before icing.

For the icing, melt the remaining butter and molasses over low heat. Add the confectioner's sugar and remaining ginger, and stir (or beat) until the mixture is smooth. I also tried a variation with the icing: mix cream cheese, butter, sugar, and a small amount of vanilla extract together.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Apple Salad

Apples are in season! This salad is a refreshing side dish or lunch, and is a great way to use apples other than in baking recipes. If you would like to make the walnuts less bitter, blanch them for a minute and then remove their skins. Then toast them at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes. This recipe is from one of my favorite cookbooks, The Tassajara Recipe Book.
  • 3 Gala or Fugi apples
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 3 celery stalks, thinly cut
  • 1 cup of pistachios or walnuts, chopped
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar (use a little less if you're not fond of the vinegar flavor)
  • pinch of salt
  • fresh mint to garnish

Slice apples into half-inch pieces, and toss with the lemon juice. Combine the honey, vinegar and salt in a separate bowl and set aside. Add the celery, nuts and raisins to the apples. Pour the honey mixture over top. Feel free to add sugar or vinegar, depending on your taste buds! Garnish with fresh mint leaves and serve with fresh bread.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

Hummus is a good source of protein, iron and vitamin C, and is a healthier alternative to most dips that are usually served with bread and vegetables. It is very easy to make; in fact, the only annoying thing about this recipe is having to clean the blender. This is a simple recipe, and can be modified in various ways. This time I added roasted red pepper, which gives the hummus a bright orange color. You can use canned chick peas, as well as prepared roasted peppers. If you have a gas stove or a grill, you can roast the peppers over an open flame.
  • 4 cups cooked chickpeas
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup tahini
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 gloves of garlic
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • add in: roasted peppers (sweet or hot), fresh basil, soy sauce, more garlic or cumin
Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Puree until the mixture is smooth. Serve with pita, chips, or vegetables.