Aside

Thanksgiving in Scotland

3 Dec

A week ago, 9 Scots and 1 American gathered for Thanksgiving dinner. 8 of the Scots discovered that pumpkin pie is tasty!

The menu reflected the culturally-blended assembly. There were:

  • Turkey
  • Turducken
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Stuffing balls, a lá Heather’s Gram (see recipe below)
  • Candied yams, with Golden Syrup instead of maple
  • Haggis
  • Peas
  • Sausage rolls
  • Crabbie’s Alcoholic Ginger Beer
  • Various red and white wines
  • Belhaven (Scottish cream ale)
  • Various other beers, which I can’t remember brands of
  • Pumpkin pie
  • Profiteroles
  • Dunkin’ Donuts Pumpkin Spice Coffee

There were surprisingly few leftovers, and a few especially great comments. In general, the Scots all seemed to enjoy their first Thanksgiving, and the American was overjoyed to be surrounded by such good friends since she couldn’t be home for the holiday.

Interestingly, one guest said that she had expected the pumpkin pie to be more like an apple pie, with slices of pumpkin, but was really happy that she was wrong. Another guest was shocked and horrified that he’d gone the first 30-odd years of his life without having it, and would be spending the next 30 making up for it.

Another guest, who is a chef by trade, said upon arrival that another American friend of his had described candied yams to him, and he thought it was the most ridiculous thing he’d ever heard. After having a couple of helpings, he texted an apology to his friend, very glad to have been proven wrong. He wanted the recipe, and the one for the pumpkin pie.

The stuffing recipe was also requested by yet another guest.

With all the smiling faces and full tummies, the verdict on this social experiment must be: Success!

Recipe for candied yams:

You need:

  • 1/2 as many sweet potatoes as you want servings
  • Boiling water
  • Butter
  • Brown sugar
  • Syrup (Heather’s mom uses maple or King Syup. The yams served at our party used Lyle’s Golden Syrup. Use whatever kind you like. Alternatively, use miniature marshmallows.)

Steps:

  1. Slice the sweet potatoes in half, lengthwise. This is a pain in the hoo-hah, but that’s how it’s done. They won’t cut willingly, so put some muscle in it.
  2. Par-boil them until they’re fairly soft, but not quite soft enough to mash.
  3. Place them cut-side up in a baking dish.
  4. Drop pats of butter, sprinkle brown sugar, and drizzle syrup. There’s no exact science to this. It just depends on how sweet you want them.
  5. Bake at 350 F/175 C for 30-45 minutes, until they’re tender and bubbly. Place them high up in the oven to keep the bottoms from scorching.

Recipe for Stuffing Balls:

We always had these instead of bread rolls. They’re shaped into balls partly because they make great grab & go leftovers, but mostly because that’s how Gram always did it. This recipe is designed to make a lot, so there will be leftovers. A lot of the ingredients can’t have precise measurements, because they’re either to taste or as-needed.

You Need:

  • 2 loaves of bread (get day-old or short-dated. It’s cheaper & will do just fine since you’re using it immediately), shredded and left out overnight to get stale
  • A stick or 2 of butter
  • Vegetable or poultry stock
  • 1-2 onions
  • Celery seed
  • Poultry seasoning (optional)
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 2-3 eggs

Steps:

  1. Chop the onion and sauté it in some of the butter until soft.
  2. Melt the rest of the butter in the microwave.
  3. Mix the onion, celery seed & spices (to taste) in with the bread.
  4. Add enough melted butter, stock, and eggs to let the mixture keep its shape when you form it into a ball, a little smaller than your fist (actually, make them as big or small as you want to suit your needs).
  5. Place the balls in a baking dish (or dishes) and bake at 350 F/175 C for 30-45 minutes, or until they’re firm and golden. Check them periodically and baste with more broth if they seem dried-out.
Advertisements
Aside

Candied Yams Cupcakes (incl. recipe)

22 Oct

Canned pumpkin is nigh-impossible to get in Scotland, and I really don’t want to attempt to roast and puree a whole pumpkin. As an alternative, I thought the very plentiful, easy to prepare, and autumnally-yummy sweet potato would be just as good. After all, when mashed, it’s about the same consistency and color as pumpkin, with a similar quality of taste.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of mashed sweet potato (from 2-3 medium-sized)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup regular sugar
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves

Steps:

Peel the sweet potatoes, cut them into smallish pieces, and toss them in a pot of boiling, slightly salted water until they’re soft and easy to mash (about 20 minutes).

Drain the water out and mash. If you have a potato masher, that’s ideal, but a big fork will work just as well. (no food processors here, folks.)

Let it cool and measure out 1 cup of mash. Store the rest or mix it with a little butter and milk for a snack.

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Hand-mix (don’t use an electric handheld or stand mixer for this one) the mash, oil, sugars, milk, and vanilla until well-combined.

Gently mix in the dry ingredients (use a fork or wooden spoon. I almost broke my whisk trying to use that). The batter will be pretty thick.

Spoon the batter into 12 muffin cups with paper liners (silicon cups would probably work just as well).

Bake for 22-24 minutes.

Cool completely on a wire rack before frosting.

I made the frosting by stirring together 2 tbsp butter, 2 tbsp Lyle’s Golden Syrup, 1 1/2 to 2 cups of powdered sugar, and a splash of milk. I was going to use maple syrup, because when my mom makes sweet potatoes at Thanksgiving, she uses maple. However, I didn’t have any on hand, and the Golden Syrup has this amazing, toffee kind of flavor. You can find it in the states at better-stocked grocery stores or places that carry imported groceries.

The frosting is pretty sweet, but is a nice balance to the not-too-sweet cake, and the toffee flavor goes really well with the sweet potato. I think a coffee icing would be really good on these too, but Fraser doesn’t like coffee, so I’ll save that idea for another time. I’m pretty happy with the way they turned out. They’re definitely a little more dense than the average cupcake, but still definitely cupcakes and not muffins.

***

Just to be fair, I used a recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World as the basis for this, but I think enough is different that I’m not plagiarizing their good work here. Their recipe for Pumpkin Chocolate Chip cupcakes gave me an idea of what proportions of what types of ingredients I would need. I won’t write out their original recipe (get the cookbook if you want that. It’s well worth it), but felt I needed to give credit where it was due.

Link

Kitchen Window — Why The Priest Fainted: An Ode To Eggplant : NPR

11 Oct

Link: Kitchen Window — Why The Priest Fainted: An Ode To Eggplant : NPR

Link

Have Your (Less Sinful) Cupcake And Enjoy It, Too : NPR

11 Oct

Link: Have Your (Less Sinful) Cupcake And Enjoy It, Too : NPR

Some great-looking recipes – including some gluten-free & easily veganized ones!

Aside

Breadmaking, take 1

30 Sep

After getting used to things fresh from the oven, like the pizza dough earlier this week or the drop biscuits that have gone with various things, we’ve decided to extend this to bread for sandwiches.

I found this recipe and followed some advice from previous bakers to adapt it for sandwich rolls. The original recipe even states that it’s versatile, and can be made to work with dinner rolls, cinnamon rolls, or whatever.

I reduced the sugar, since these are intended for sandwiches, and replaced 1 3/4 cups of A.P. flour with strong brown bread flour.

Not having a breadmaker, I stuck mostly to the steps described by summer_lover in the reviews (2nd from top as of this posting).

I also shaped them into 8 round balls instead of the crescents described in the original recipe, as other bakers had done this without damaging the finished product.

As it turns out, one additional step is needed that isn’t mentioned by anyone – re-shape the dough after the $%^&* cat walks across the pan. Luckily, I’d already covered it, so I didn’t have to waste any of the dough.

The bread is on its second rise right now, the cat has been banished outside until they’re finished, and with luck, Fraser will be taking a sandwich on homemade bread for lunch tomorrow.

I hope they’re good, since this was an easy recipe, and could potentially save us a little money, since the recipe probably cost a third, if not less, than the cost of a loaf of the bread we usually get.

– Heather

Link

Tomato Galette

29 Sep

Link: Tomato Galette

We cut this recipe out of the newspaper a few weeks ago (click the title above to get the recipe from the Guardian website), and it’s one of the few times we’ve had to buy special things that we wouldn’t ordinarily include in our shopping. It was worth it, though! We did end up using the entire jar of sundried tomatoes, because as written, the recipe didn’t make nearly enough of the paste (at least, to our thinking). I think the only other modification we made was in using a lower fat puff pastry, instead of an all-butter one. It went together really quickly and easily, and we’ll probably make it again, but on a pizza crust next time, since we’ve recently discovered a really good, quick, and easy dough recipe (see previous post).

Fraser adding the last ingredients

Aside

Homemade Pizza x2

28 Sep

We made pizza last night, and it was so good, we made it again tonight. Okay, in reality, today was supposed to be grocery shopping day, but we didn’t feel like going out. Luckily, Annika’s pizza sauce recipe made enough for 2 pies and we’d frozen half of it, and the crust could not be easier. When making the sauce, we just used a potato masher to crush the tomatoes, since we totally do not have a food processor. Note for fellow Americans, since the recipe only has metric measurements, that’s 3 cups of flour for the crust.

Yesterday, we added some oregano, thyme, and basil to the crust and substituted 1 cup of the all purpose flour for wholemeal flour. We topped it with mozzarella, sliced tomatoes, and onions. As you can see in the comments of the crust recipe, it’s fine if you go ahead and use it without letting it rise, but better if you do. We let it rise while the sauce cooked (about 45 minutes), punched it down, then let it rise again and kneaded it while the oven preheated.

Today, we were nearly out of all purpose flour, so we substituted 2 cups of wholemeal flour. We left out the herbs, but added some chili powder to the sauce, mixed in some caramelized onions left over from yesterday, and topped with cheddar cheese. We didn’t bother with letting the dough rise this time, and the recipe was right – it was still really good.

Both times, the pizza baked perfectly in 20 minutes at 375F/190C. We used a shallow 9 x 13 inch pan (because that’s what we have), and got a more Chicago-style pizza with a nice, thick crust. Someday, we’ll try it on a baking stone.

We’ve had the thought that this dough would also be good for making sandwich rolls, so we may try that after more grocery shopping.

Link

The Witchy Kitchen: Gluten Free

28 Sep

Link: The Witchy Kitchen: Gluten Free

Sharing for the GF friends. Lots of these look awesome, and most (if not all) are also vegetarian.

Link

Chocolate Chip Yogurt Muffins

28 Sep

Link: Chocolate Chip Yogurt Muffins

While my friends in So Cal are melting under record-breaking heat, it’s really strange to me to be shivering and searching for something to bake so I can use the oven to heat up the flat a little (According to the Star Wars weather report, Glasgow is currently a lot like Endor – low 50’s, temperate, but gray & cloudy, with a chance we’ll get our own cartoon series). Also, I found our lack of baked goods disturbing.

I made the recipe almost as written (click on the title above), but with these changes:

I substituted 1/2 cup of the all purpose flour with wholemeal flour.

I accidentally used the 1/3 cup measure for the sugar, oil, and yogurt, and therefore added 2 TBSP more all purpose flour at the last minute.

I used plain white vinegar instead of the apple cider vinegar just because it’s what I had on hand.

I added about a tsp of cinnamon because we like cinnamon in everything, especially this time of year.

As far as I can tell, they didn’t suffer at all for any of this. They do tend to stick to the muffin papers, but as long as you don’t mind looking a little silly when you eat them, that’s not a major problem.

– Heather

Update: For some reason, the next day, they’re not sticking to the paper at all, as long as you peel it off carefully!

Aside

The Meaning of All This

28 Sep

In the past month or so, we’ve discovered that we really like cooking and have been collecting various recipes and learning methods and figuring out what we like (see Heather’s blog post on this here). It seems there are lots of you out there who like it when we share the recipes we find or tell stories about our culinary adventures, so it seemed like a good idea to collect them all in one place, where both of us can post and leave it up to you whether you want to follow or not.