Sunday, November 28, 2010

Post Thanksgiving-Thanksgiving Meal

As the Baking Midwife was busy this year helping babies into the world, we celebrated a day late.  We had a quiet Thanksgiving sans turkey as opposed to last year when I hosted a large meal for 9. 

Big meals are great for the festivity and conversation, but quiet is nice too.  More time for dwelling on food, drink and each other.

Here is our meal in photos.
Cranberry Chutney cooking

Cranberry Chutney finished
Mashed Potatoes - a little lumpy unfortunately
Rustic Herb Stuffing
Goat Cheese Souffle
Yeah that was my plate - Yum!

Some of our favorite Belgian Beer to wash it all down

Mashed Sweet Potatoes for the Dessert

Coconut-Sweet Potato Pie

The recipe for Cranberry Chutney comes from All Recipes.  This is the second year I've used it and it's great for those guests who don't like the typical taste of cranberry sauce.

Both the recipe for the Mashed Potatoes and the Rustic Herb Stuffing came from the November issue of Bon Appetit.  I left out the celery and Swiss chard from the Stuffing because Partner in Crime wanted a standard no frills stuffing and I'm not a fan of celery. 

The Coconut Sweet Potato Pie recipe came from the Minimalist on the NY Times.  It was good, better cold in my opinion although it says to serve it at room temperature.

For our main dish I served a Goat Cheese Souffle.  Souffles are a great entree for a special occasion at a vegetarian's table.  Every time I make one I marvel at how simple it is to make and how delicious it is.  The I wonder why don't I make these more often.  I got my recipe from a vegetarian cookbook that I've been using for years, really since early college.  It's one of those cookbooks that I'm pretty sure are sold off the bargain rack at Barnes and Noble.  But it has done me well time and time again.

Here is the recipe.

Goat Cheese Souffle
Adapted slightly from Vegetarian:  The Best-Ever Recipe Collection by Linda Fraser

3 Tbsp butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 c milk
grated Parmesan cheese, for sprinkling
1 1/2 oz herb and garlic soft cheese, like Boursin
5 oz firm goat cheese, diced
6 egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
salt and black pepper

*Serves 4

Melt 2 Tbsp butter in a medium sized saucepan over medium heat.  Add the flour, stir to mix well, and the cook until sandy brown, stirring occasionally.  Then pour in half of the milk, stirring vigorously until mostly smooth.  Add the remaining milk, a pinch of salt and a few dashes each of nutmeg and black pepper.  Reduce heat and simmer gently for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Preheat oven to 375 F.  Butter a 1 1/2 quart souffle dish and sprinkle with Parmesan.

Remove the sauce from the heat and stir in both the goat and soft cheeses.

Separate eggs and place egg whites into a medium sized bowl.  Beat or whisk until frothy.  Then add cream of tartar.  Continue to beat, increasing the speed.  Soft peaks will form, beat just a little longer until stiffer peaks form that flop over a bit. 

Take a large spoonful of the egg whites and mix in with cheese sauce.  Then pour cheese sauce into bowl with remaining egg whites and mix with a spoon until just combined.

Pout mixture into prepared souffle dish and bake for 25-30 minutes until puffed on top and golden brown.  Serve immediately.

Saturday, November 13, 2010


There are days when I am so busy at work that I can't remember what month it is.  Days where I spend 24 complete hours awake on Labor and Delivery and I never make it off the locked unit.  Not even to go down to the cafeteria.

There have been too many days like that recently, which is why I'm only just getting around to telling you about this Chili that I made on Halloween.

It's a black bean chili that I've been making since college, great for the crisp autumn weather or a one of those freezing cold February days in New England.  I prefer black beans to kidney beans for the taste.   This particular chili has a tangy flavor, it melds together sweet and just a tad spicy.

The day before Halloween, J and I had one of those incredible meandering days.  Our plan was to go and visit some good friends who just had a new baby.  I happened to know of a great place to eat breakfast, a picturesque farm near where they lived so we started the day off there.  Mmmm...sweet potato pancakes and veggie sausage with, of course, maple syrup from the farm.  We still hadn't heard from the new parents so went off to explore a town nearby that at first seemed a little underwhelming.  Clearly an old mill town, it was beautiful but seemed to lack any points of interest.  That is until we came across the old York Theatre, which has been converted into a bowling alley.  It still has much of the original architecture and is apparently haunted. 

I promise there's a point to this story.  A few games later, we heard from our friends and went for some cuddle time with Julia.  Afterwards, we decided to head up to Brattleboro, VT for the remainder of the afternoon, since we were so close.  We ate dinner at Firework's Restaurant and I enjoyed an arugula salad with roasted butternut squash, lentils, and goat cheese. 

The roasted butternut squash was perfect and got me thinking about using it with my Black Bean Chili.  Apparently this is not too novel of an idea, but it was for me.  Delicious too.

Of course, you have to add the cheese and sour cream!

Black Bean Chili with Butternut Squash
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup yellow onion, chopped
1/2 lb frozen bell peppers, stir fry mix or about 2-3 red, yellow and green peppers, chopped
1 cup cubed fresh butternut squash
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp oregano
2 15-oz cans black, beans, drained
2 14.5 oz cans diced tomatoes and green chiles
2 Tbsp tomato paste
Cayenne pepper optional

Using a large stock pot, heat oil over medium heat for approximately one minute.  Add onion, bell peppers, butternut squash, garlic, cumin and oregano and mix together well.  Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until onions are translucent, peppers are limp and squash is just beginning to soften.  

Add 1 1/2cans of black beans, both cans of tomatoes, tomato paste and and 2-3 dashes of cayenne pepper.  Stir well.  Bring to a boil, then adjust temperature so that mixture is bubbling slightly.

Simmer for about 10 minutes.  With the leftover black beans, mash them up well, and after 10 minutes, mix in and cover.  Simmer for an additional 15 minutes or until squash has softened.  Add salt, pepper, and more cayenne pepper to taste.

Serve over rice or alone, with a dab of sour cream and some shredded cheese.  
Optional side dish - a warm fire and cozy slippers.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

No Baking for this Midwife

I discovered my oven (which has been giving me some issues recently) was no longer lighting and heating (it's gas) this past Tuesday in the throes of a baking session.   Luckily only the dry ingredients of the pumpkin muffins had been mixed when I checked the oven and realized it was not preheated or heating at all.  This is the story of that day and what I made instead.

So I tried to light the pilot, which I assumed had gone out, only to discover that this gas oven has an electronic ignition for the oven and cannot be lit manually.  This is a rental house, and the oven much predates us, so I had to discover all this info laying on my stomach looking into the broiler with a headlamp strapped to my head and then rushing up to google gas stoves pilot light systems.

Even though we are mere tenants in this humble abode, we entered into a strange arrangement where we are in charge of all the appliances.  Yes you read that right.  This included the washer and dryer which were broken right away when we moved in.  Unbeknownst to us the washer had a massive leak!  J attempted a load of laundry only to find all the water that emptied into the washer, empty onto the floor.  So we purchased a new washer and dryer.  These things were on there last legs.  Oh and I almost forgot about the ghettofication of the dryer!  It had a latch on it to keep it shut because it wouldn't stay shut on it's own anymore.  These were just a few of the nightmares we faced moving into our house.

For the first few weeks, we felt like Tom Hanks and Shelley Long in The Money Pit.  So when something like this happens and the landlord is unwilling to even give a recommendation of someone to call, it's not surprising.

As great as it would be to have a brand new oven, that is not the plan.  Sears is coming out on Wednesday and I'm hoping for a simple fix.

So back to Tuesday when I first discovered my predicament.  Halfway into whole wheat pumpkin muffins with plans for Tarte aux Oignons for dinner, I had to come up with a new plan.  Luckily it did not affect the stovetop so we made bean and cheese quesadillas for dinner.

I also quickly came up for an oven less dessert.  Chocolate Covered Banana Bites with Crystallized Ginger - Yum.  Easy and delicious.

Chocolate Covered Banana Bites with Crystallized Ginger
3 medium to large ripe bananas
6 oz dark chocolate (I used Ghiradelli 60% dark chocolate chips)
2-3 pieces of crystallized ginger, thinly chopped

Serves 4

Cut banana into 3-4 chunks.  Line a platter or a baking sheet with wax paper.

Boil about a cup of water in a medium sized pot.  Once water is boiling place heat proof bowl or double boiler over boiling water with chocolate chips in it.  Stir chocolate chips constantly until they are completely melted and smooth.  Add crystallized ginger and mix in.

Using a fork or toothpick, take each banana chunk and one by one, coat in melted chocolate and place on wax paper.  When all pieces of banana have been coated, place platter of chocolate covered bananas in the fridge for the chocolate to set.