Sunday, September 30, 2012

Wines of the Giro 2013: The 2013 Giro Route

As one cycling season ends, details about the next emerge. 
Also, an early look at what I'll be drinking in May. If not exactly which wines, at least now I know where they will be from. 
By the way, if you have not seen their preview video, it is worth a look. 
And, look, there is now a route video. 

The details: Length of the course: 3.524,5 kms, average: 167.8 kms 
Stage types: 1 team time trial, 1 uphill time trial, 1 individual time trial, 7 stages per sprinters, 1 stage with dirt roads, 4 medium mountain stages (with 1 summit finish), 6 mountain stages (with 6 summit finish)

Wines of the Giro 2013, coming in May:

1 Sat 04/05/2013 156 KM  Napoli - Napoli
2 Sun 05/05/2013 17,4 KM  Ischia - Forio
3 Mon 06/05/2013 212 KM  Sorrento - Marina di Ascea
4 Tue 07/05/2013 244 KM  Policastro Bussentino - Serra San Bruno
5 Wed 08/05/2013 199 KM  Cosenza - Matera
6 Thu 09/05/2013 154 KM  Mola di Bari - Margherita di Savoia
7 Fri 10/05/2013 162 KM  San Salvo - Pescara
8 Sat 11/05/2013 55,5 KM Gabicce Mare - Saltara
9 Sun 12/05/2013 181 KM  San Sepolcro - Firenze
10 Tue 14/05/2013 167 KM  Cordenons - Altopiano del Montasio
11 Wed 15/05/2013 184 KM  Tarvisio (Cave del Predil) - Vajont (Erto e Casso)
12 Thu 16/05/2013 127 KM  Longarone - Treviso
13 Fri 17/05/2013 242 KM  Busseto - Cherasco
14 Sat 18/05/2013 156 KM  Cervere - Bardonecchia
15 Sun 19/05/2013 150 KM  Cesana Torinese - Col du Galibier (Valloire)
16 Tue 21/05/2013 237 KM  Valloire - Ivrea
17 Wed 22/05/2013 203 KM Caravaggio - Vicenza
18 Thu 23/05/2013 19,4 KM  Mori - Polsa
19 Fri 24/05/2013 138 KM Ponte di Legno - Val Martello/Martelltal
20 Sat 25/05/2013 202 KM  Silandro/Schlanders - Tre Cime di Lavaredo
21 Sun 26/05/2013 199 KM Riese Pio X-Brescia

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Sam's Pumpkin Chcocolate Chip Muffins

I love almost all things pumpkin. In fact, I regularly complain about the fact that pumpkin is considered a seasonal flavor. Each year I am very excited to see pumpkin items return. So much so that I interrupt this blog post to note that: Pumpkin ice cream is back at Mitchell's.  

That said, the pumpkin item that K asks for the most is a recipe from our former neighbor Sam, of The Second Lunch. In an urban way of counting neighbors, that means that she lived a few blocks over and worked at the very wonderful and also several blocks away Omnivore Books. I think that K and I first heard about her Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bundt Cake when we stopped in the store one afternoon, but it is also possible I may have first stumbled upon it on her blog. Either way, it has become a regular item on K's "Can we bake this now" list. 

As always, we've made a few alterations to the recipe, the main one being that for convenience sake, we make it in muffin form. We've also cut the sugar in an attempt to  pretend that the result is muffins and not cake, which is useful when you really like to eat them for breakfast. We started adding wheat flour to the mix one day when we ran short on white and have continued to do that as well. K also doesn't sift and instead rather aggressively blends everything in our mixer. Because, well, she likes it that way and this recipe is very forgiving. If you have excess pumpkins or other squash in the house as we seem to every fall, I suggest roasting and freezing them as purees as we do to make batches of this recipe year-round.

The original recipe can be found here.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins
The Harrowsmith Cookbook v. 3
The recipe comes from Gladys Sykes, of Regina, Saskatchewan via Sam at The Second Lunch.

Makes 17-18 muffins

3 cups flour (We use 2 cups white and 1 cup wheat)
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
3 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
4 eggs

1 cup sugar
1.25 cups canola oil
2 cups cooked, mashed pumpkin or one 15 oz can (We've also used assorted other winter squashes, with much success)
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Find your muffin pans, which are probably being used to hold beads or pennies, clean, dry and make a pattern with muffin wrappers. K opted for white and silver this time.
In a bowl, combine the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt).
Beat the eggs and sugar together in the bowl of your stand mixer. Add the oil and the pumpkin, mixing well, and blend in the flour mixture. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Fill your muffin wrappers almost full and bake for 25 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. 

These muffins freeze beautifully. 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

K's Apple Tree

If you read back a few years, you can learn that K wanted an apple tree. The tree we ended up with was espaliered, with branches of 6 different varieties: Gala, Fuji, Gravenstein, Jonathan, Braeburn and one tagged as Red M that I think is McIntosh.  The tree continues to thrive in its wine barrel planter, despite my somewhat embarrassing fear of pruning. This year all of the branches produced fruit except the Gravenstein and we had our largest harvest ever--22 apples! That may not seem like many to those with large trees, but to us it was a bumper crop. 

To celebrate, K decided she wanted to bake something with the apples. The question of course, was what. Her first thought was "Anakin's Apple Crisp" from The Star Wars Cookbook II -Darth Malt and More Galactic Recipes, but as we make crisp rather frequently due to an excess of backyard blackberries, she wanted something a bit more special. But, have no fear Star Wars fans, a recipe from that book will be coming to this galaxy quite soon.

At K's request, I asked Twitter and ended up with suggestions ranging from apple dumplings to apple galette and a really appealing sounding apple pie cake. After considering the recipes, K decided to go back to a favorite we had not made in a while: Marie-Helene's Apple Cake from Around My French Table. In the past our experiments with this recipe have included a bourboned cranberry version and one with Spirited Apricots. This time, K stayed closer to the original recipe, with a few changes. She reduced the sugar, opted for almond extract over vanilla (from K: "I like the way it smells") and rather than dark rum I opted for some cranberry infused bourbon that I had all but forgotten in the back of the fridge.

Apple Cake Fall 2012

3/4 cup flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2/3 cup sugar (The original recipe calls for 3/4 cup)
1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature 

2 Tablespoons cranberry infused bourbon (The original recipe calls for dark rum)
1/2 teaspoon almond extract (The original recipe calls for vanilla)
4 cups backyard apples, cored and cut into approx 1 inch pieces

Preheat the oven to 350ºF and adjust the oven rack to the center of the oven.

Heavily butter a 8-inch springform pan and place it on a baking sheet.
Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl.
In a medium bowl, beat the eggs with a whisk until foamy. Pour in the sugar and whisk until blended. Whisk in the bourbon and almond extract. (Note: K insisted that I be the one to add the bourbon. She also insisted that I include this note.)
Whisk in half the flour mixture, followed by half the butter, followed by the remaining flour and butter. Continue whisking until well combined.
Add the apples and stir gently with a rubber spatula until fully combined.
Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and use a rubber spatula to even it somewhat.
Bake for one hour or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool, then run a knife around the edge to loosen it from the pan and carefully remove the sides of the cake pan.
Dust with powdered sugar or top with whipped cream and serve. 

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Zydeco Pickled Green Beans

After a morning judging jam for the Eat Real Festival, it was time to pickle green beans. In this case, haricot verts from Dirty Girl Farm. One batch was a very traditional Dilly Bean and batch two was a new recipe for us to try from Linda Ziedrich's The Joy of Pickling: Zydeco Beans. Unlike our usual experimentation, we stayed pretty close to her recipe, though changed the packing technique, processing time and omitted her optional dill as we had Dilly Beans already.

6 garlic cloves, sliced
6 teaspoons whole yellow mustard seeds
3 pounds haricot verts (Ziedrich suggests trimming to 4 inches, we did not trim)
6 small dried hot peppers
3 cups white wine vinegar
3 cups water
2 tablespoons pickling salt

Into each pint jar, put 1 sliced garlic clove and 1 teaspoon mustard seed. Pack the beans vertically in the jar.  
Note: At a class long ago, we were taught to twist the beans to help with the fill and also to make things a bit prettier. We also add smaller beans around the top to help keep the beans from floating above the fill line. (See picture)

Beans anchoring on the top

The twist

In a pan, bring to a boil the vinegar, water and salt. Pour the liquid over the beans and screw on the lids finger tip tight. Process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes.

I recommend storing for a few weeks to allow the flavors to combine before eating.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

K's Grape Jam

Friday morning on our walk to school, K asked if we could make grape jam over the weekend. When I asked why jam and not jelly, she replied that you always make jam and never jelly. Which, lime aside, is true. Since we had some Bronx grapes in the house and I assumed there would be more at the market on Saturday morning, we decided to give it a try.

Grapes in the pan

A little further along, with water and sugar added

Bronx grapes, if you have not had them, are part of the Slow Food Ark of Taste program. From the Slow Food website:
"The Ark is an international catalog of foods that are threatened by industrial standardization, the regulations of large-scale distribution and environmental damage. In an effort to cultivate consumer demand—key to agricultural conservation—only the best tasting endangered foods make it onto the Ark.
Since 1996, more than 800 products from over 50 countries have been added to the international Ark of Taste. The US Ark of Taste profiles over 200 rare regional foods, and is a tool that helps farmers, ranchers, fishers, chefs, retail grocers, educators and consumers celebrate our country's diverse biological, cultural and culinary heritage."

And on the Bronx grape:  "In 1933 at the Cornell Biological Field Station in Geneva, New York, the Concord crape and the Thompson grape where mixed to for the Bronx Grape.  The Bronx has the robust flavor of the Concord grape and the texture of the Thompson grape.
As the Bronx ripen, they change from slightly tart, firm, pale green grapes to a grape with a honey-like taste, delicate skin and a rosy pink color.  A ripe Bronx Grape has a light, musty and floral perfume.  The grapes are highly vulnerable to splitting while is transit, as their thin skins fracture with even the slightest piercing making the Bronx Grape very limited in production.
Currently only two mother vines exist.  John Lagier, of Lagier Ranches, is the only producer in California to have obtained cuttings of the original Bronx grapevines. Lagier grows organic Bronx grapes on his vineyard in Northern California and sells the grapes at San Francisco Bay Area farmers’ markets."

In K's words, Bronx grapes are: "Pale green to light pink and a normal grape size. They are my favorite grapes and are sweeter and have more flavor than most of the others at the market. I like them frozen because then they taste like sorbet."

And the jam? "I love it. It tastes just like grape jelly, but even better."

Bronx Grape Jam 
Note: This is based on the Easy Grape Jam Recipe in the Ball Home Preserving Book. To my taste, it is rather sweet and if making it for myself, I might add some citrus. But K wanted that classic grape flavor and this is it. It helps a lot to have another child over for a play date to help with removing the grapes from their stems. 

3 1/2 pounds of Bronx grapes, removed from their stems but otherwise whole
1/2 cup water
7 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 pouch ( 3 oz) liquid pectin

In a large pan, heat grapes and water, bringing to a boil. Lower the heat to maintain a gentle boil and stir frequently for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and measure out 4 1/2 cups grapes and liquid. Reserve excess, perhaps to make jello? 
Return the 4 1/2 cups of grapes and water to your pan and add 7 1/2 cups of granulated sugar, a task that never ceases to delight K. Turn the heat to high and bring to a full rolling boil. Stir in the pectin and continue boiling, stirring constantly, for about 5 minutes. 
Ladle the hot jam into pint size jars and finger seal the lids. Process in a hot water bath canner for 10 minutes.

We also made Cinnamon-Raisin Bread to eat this with. Here's K kneading: