Baking

Lipstick On, Knockers Up: Pumpkin Chess Tart in a Fancy Pan

Lipstick On, Knockers Up: Pumpkin Chess Tart in a Fancy Pan

  Sometimes it’s how you present that makes the difference, and that’s what this recipe is about.  This pumpkin chess tart combines an old Southern favorite with pumpkin for a holiday dessert that’s a blessing for people (me!) who don’t like the eggy, condensed milk texture of the traditional pumpkin pie.  The recipe was developed by the stonkingly talented Mindy Merrell, whose blog, Cheater Chef, is a goldmine of simple brilliance in the kitchen. Mindy developed recipes for Martha White for ages, and it’s not an exaggeration to call her gifted in the kitchen. In fact, she’s a Chopped champ! (Go see her Pinterest board if you’re looking for inspiration.) Honestly, I could go on.  But back to the lipstick and knockers. This pie is so good, but the pan takes it to greatness. The shape looks so professional, and the removable bottom means no soggy slices and no broken-off wedges. You cut it into squares or slices, and they lift off the bottom easily, so you never end up with crustless servings or crust left behind in the pan.    Brown Butter Pumpkin Chess Tart 2015-08-07 12:32:10 Serves 8 "Some people just don't like pumpkin pie," says Mindy Merrell, "but they love this." Write a review Save Recipe Print Ingredients 1 (9-inch) pie crust, storebought or homemade (I use Dufour brand pastry--pricey but worth it) 2 tablespoons butter 1 1/4 cups sugar 2 tablespoons cornmeal or cornmeal mix 3 large eggs 1/4 cup sour cream or buttermilk 1 cup pumpkin puree 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg Whipped cream for serving Instructions Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Roll out the pie dough and press into the pan, over the bottom and up the side. Trim any dough that hangs over the side. Melt the butter in a skillet or small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, watching closely, until the butter has browned. Let cool. Pour the butter into a medium bowl and add the sugar, cornmeal, eggs, sour cream, pumpkin, vanilla, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and nutmeg and mix well. Pour the filling into the pie crust Bake for 45 minutes or until set. Let cool on a wire rack. Remove the pan rim and transfer the tart to a serving platter. Slice and serve with whipped cream. Notes You can use pumpkin pie spice in place of the cinnamon, ginger, cloves and nutmeg. By Mindy Merrell Adapted from Cheaterchef.com Adapted from Cheaterchef.com The Project Kitchen...

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Sorghum-Pecan Banana Muffins from Deep in the Heart of Texas

Sorghum-Pecan Banana Muffins from Deep in the Heart of Texas

  This week’s post is from Randle Browning, a Texan whose inventive yet thoroughly Southern recipes I am fortunate to have found. Three are included in Southern Cooking for Company, and I tell ya, they’ll make you want to go in the kitchen and cook. “Hey!” I jumped out of my chair and banged on the window, “Those are our pecans!” I shouted at my dozing husband, banging my palm against the pane and flailing my arms, “Honey! That guy is back! He’s taking our pecans!!” Standing there in a fluffy pink bathrobe at 6:00 in the morning, I was helpless to stop him—one of many foragers who cycled down our street last autumn, a plastic grocery sack bursting with pecans swinging off each handlebar. I looked on in panic as he walked in a leisurely circle around our pecan tree, scooping up the fresh-fallen nuts and adding them to his collection before moving on to the next house. Waco is known for a lot of unsavory things (like this), and a few good ones (like this and this), but for me, the best thing about living in Waco is the pecans—The old pecan tree that drops thousands of oblong, thin-shelled nuts on the roof of our restaurant, where my husband uses a deck brush to push them off into the truck bed. The hundreds of trees at Pecan Bottom along the Brazos River that put off tiny, sweet pecans with thick shells. The mature trees that rain pecans all over Baylor campus, and my favorite, the plump, oily, pecans that fall from the tree in our front yard. Not everyone shares my devotion to the walnut’s juicier, oilier, more flavorful cousin. Maybe it’s because I grew up in pecan country. I grew up rolling pecans under my shoes in the fall, and in spring when I ran barefoot, I tried my luck at the pecans leftover from the last season by cracking them between 2 rocks. Some Texans need brisket; I need pecans. Last year, when my husband and I moved into our first house together, I almost felt like I was purchasing a pecan tree that came with a house, rather than the other way around. That’s probably why I felt the need to guard it so fiercely, even before dawn. That was before I realized 2 things: There are plenty of pecans for everyone. (Seriously, there are.) Shelling pecans sucks. Let me rephrase—it takes for.ev.er. And it’s really hard not to eat them as you’re cracking them. They’re just so good! You just have to keep telling yourself that if you eat all the pecans as you shell them, beautiful, special things like pecan pie and these...

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Bread Monday: Rye Yogurt Starter

Bread Monday: Rye Yogurt Starter

  I love the everyday miracle of yeast bread. Sometimes I bake just because I could use a miracle. Even more, I love the miracle of bread from a starter. I haven’t ever bonded with the flavor of  Herman starter bread. There I said it. Something about the strong, sweet fermented flavor. Although it makes good French toast and PBJ, it’s not great with, say, herbed turkey. Flipping through a cookbook, I found yogurt rye starter. Sour yogurt and tangy rye–a pretty sure bet not to be sweet. Mine was slow to take off in my chilly kitchen, so I sprinkled in the last couple grains of yeast from the bottom of the Red Star bag. That worked and the starter took off. The first couple of loaves tasted similar to regular yeast bread. Then the starter smell changed to “overripe fruit.”  Two weeks and 4 loaves into the experiment, the yeast has changed again and is turning out the sourest sourdough I’ve ever baked. I don’t know what happened, but everyone who really likes sourdough is happy with these loaves. For the rye loaf baked with this starter, go here Yogurt Rye Starter 2015-03-18 00:01:27 A starter mixture that makes lush, close-textured bread that doesn't make a lot of crumbs. Write a review Save Recipe Print Ingredients 1 cup plain yogurt 1 cup rye flour Instructions Spoon the yogurt into a smallish bowl. Set the bowl into a larger bowl filled with a few inches of hot tap water. Stir the yogurt until it's no longer chilly. Stir in the flour and let stand for 2 to 3 days until the mixture is bubbly and has a pleasantly sour smell. (I covered mine with a loose-weave dish towel.) At this point use it, or cover and refrigerate. To use, take out a cup of the mixture. Replenish with equal parts skim milk and flour. Let stand at room temperature until bubbly. Refrigerate. You should take out a cup of the mixture every 10 days. Use it, throw it out, or give it away. You'll eventually discover why it's sometimes called "friendship." In my experience, most starters can be frozen. When they thaw, they revive, more or less. By Beatrice Ojakangas Adapted from Great Whole Grain Breads Adapted from Great Whole Grain Breads The Project Kitchen...

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Bread Friday: Starting Again with Starter

Bread Friday: Starting Again with Starter

 I know my biga is a wodge of fungus, but look what pretty bread it makes! Breads from starter are fascinating, and I missed them after 10 years away. Last time I used some “Herman” from a friend. Herman made good bread with a fermented flavor and an open, spongy texture. The idea of wild yeast was so intriguing, and I got really wrapped up in cultivating wild yeast starters, to the point that I bored people with it. Friend: I haven’t seen you in ages! What have you been doing? Me: Today I have to transfer an Italian sourdough culture that’s not doing well in the fridge. It’s kind of languishing I think because it doesn’t like the plastic container it’s in. Friend (edging away): Oh. That sounds…interesting. The bread above is based on a yogurt-rye culture that’s slightly sour. I adapted the Heidelberg Rye recipe Beatrice Ojakangas’ Great Whole Grain Breads, a masterpiece of baking wonders. It’s been in and out of print three times since 1984–it keeps being revived. Buy it if you can find it. Heidelberg Rye 2015-03-13 09:57:53 Yields 2 A lush-textured rye bread with lots of caraway flavor. Write a review Save Recipe Print Prep Time 10 hr 40 min Prep Time 10 hr 40 min Ingredients 1 cup sourdough or other starter 3 cups bread flour 1 3/4 cups water 1 teaspoon instant coffee powder or unsweetened cocoa 1 tablespoon caraway seeds 1/3 cup molasses 2 tablespoons butter 1 teaspoon sugar 2 teaspoons salt 3 cups rye flour (more as needed) Instructions Put the starter and bread flour into a large bowl. Heat the water, coffee, caraway seeds, molasses, butter, sugar and salt to warm, about 90 to 100 degrees. Add to the flour. Beat for 3 minutes, scraping the bowl. Add enough rye flour to make a stiff dough. Knead for 5 minutes until smooth. Transfer the bread to a greased bowl and turn the bread to coat it with oil. (This bread takes a long time to rise, and if the skin isn't oiled, it becomes tough.) Go shopping or take a nap or both for 5 hours while the rises until it looks puffy (this dough doesn't double in volume, unlike dough made with commercial yeast). Form into round loaves on baking sheets, or use greased loaf pans. Brush the loaves with water. Cut a lengthwise slash in the bread. Go to bed, or take a walk, or both for 5 to 8 hours until the bread is puffy. Bake for about 35 minutes until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. Notes This bread keeps well for several days. By Beatrice Ojakangas Adapted from Great Whole...

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Anadama Bread

Anadama Bread

My house isn’t warm enough when it’s really cold outside. So I bake a lot of bread in the winter, because that gives me an excuse to stand near the stove for a couple of hours. If we’re not eating carbs, I give the bread to neighbors, friends, whoever. Even, and especially, people I’ve just met. Anadama is sweet and light and easy to love. You can make a no-knead version or use the bread machine. You’ll be warm, and everyone who eats this bread will say nice things to you. That’s how you win winter.   Anadama Bread 2015-02-15 14:47:16 I always thought Anadama was Southern, but several sources seem to say it originated in New England. Write a review Save Recipe Print Ingredients 1/4 cup yellow cornmeal 1/2 cup boiling water 2 teaspoons (1 package) yeast 1/2 cup warm water (about 100-115 degrees) 1/4 cup molasses 2 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened 1 teaspoon salt 2 1/2 to 3 cups bread flour or all-purpose flour Butter or margarine for the top of the loaf Instructions Combine the cornmeal and boiling water. Let cool. In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in the water water and let stand about 5 minutes until foamy. Add the molasses, butter, salt and cornmeal mixture. Stir in the bread flour until a stiff dough forms. Knead for about 5 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. Lightly butter or oil the outside of the dough and let it rise for 45 minutes to 1 hour until roughly doubled in size. Shape the dough into a ball. Set it in a greased pie dish. Let it rise until doubled. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes until golden. The loaf should sound hollow when tapped. A thermometer should read 195 degrees. By Beatrice Ojakangas Adapted from Great Whole Grain Breads Adapted from Great Whole Grain Breads The Project Kitchen http://theprojectkitchen.com/  ...

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Hello, I’m Nicki

I've written about food for a living since The Silver Palate was new. Discovering a new cookbook or technique is my idea of fun. And kitchen gear--I'm helpless to resist. Like kitchen projects, the posts here are occasional and open-ended, so please subscribe. You can read more about my work at the "About Nicki" page.

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