Thursday, October 22, 2009

Monkey Bread

My Mom made money bread when I was in high school on Sunday mornings. My sister and I had never heard of it until one evening when we were making dinner. My Dad started to go on and on about "monkey bread" and how Mom used to make it all the time when they started dating. He told us about how she would roll it in butter and parmesan cheese, and when it was done it was the best thing he'd ever eaten. [Keep in mind that this was before we had eaten dinner, so it was killing us.] Well, he talked about it enough that Mom broke down and made this version - not with parmesan cheese - with cinnamon sugar. I haven't had it in years, and I've certainly never made it before. This is definitely a method, not a recipe, but it couldn't be easier. I am pleased to report that my monkey bread, while not as perfect as Mom's, was SO good.

I used a frozen loaf of bread dough - it's in the freezer section - and followed the directions on the bag to proof it. For the brand I used (which I don't remember off hand), I took the frozen loaf out on Saturday night, right before i went to bed. I put it on a greased cookie sheet and put it in the oven. On Sunday morning, I had a perfectly risen loaf of bread [that I was about to tear apart and add a ton of calories to]. I took the loaf out, and preheated the oven to 350 degrees.

I melted 1/2 of a sick of butter, put about 2 cups of cinnamon-sugar on a plate, and buttered a bread pan. In the bottom of the pan put a nice drizzle of butter and cinnamon sugar, and mix it up. (If I had to guess, I'd say it was one tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon cinnamon sugar).

Line the items up and do the following, in order:
1) Tear off a golf ball sized chunk of bread;
2) Dunk it in the melted butter (yes, I said "dunk" - this isn't health food people);
3) Roll the butter coated ball of dough in the cinnamon sugar;
4) Place in loaf pan.
5) Repeat until dough is gone.

Once you're done with that, put the rest of your cinnamon sugar on top of the loaf pan [or in the rest of your coffee], and bake it at 350 degrees, checking it after 30 minutes. I think this one baked for about 45 minutes.

When the loaf is done, place a serving plate on top of the loaf pan. Carefully, but quickly, flip it over and remove the pan. All of that caramel at the bottom will drip everywhere and be delicious. (Don't feel bad if you [or your husband] sticks a finger in those puddles to take a taste; just be warned that it is super hot.)

This is so good because the top is wonderfully crunchy from the cinnamon sugar, and the bottom is all gooey and . . . yum.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Moroccan Winter Squash and Carrot Stew

Sometimes things go as planned, and sometimes they don't. For example, the weather on Sunday was beautiful - mid-50s and sunny. That didn't stop me from sticking to my plan: staying inside cooking and reading all weekend.

I decided to make this dish for a few reasons - it sounded delicious, and we bought a lot of spices at the spice market in Istanbul that I haven't used yet. Plus, I am always looking for new recipes to use quinoa in; it is a complete protein and a grain!

The flavors in this dish are very comforting and hearty, with a slight suggestion of heat as you finish your bite. If you're leery of the cayenne, start with a 1/4 teaspoon and see what you think. You can always add more, but you can't take it out.

Moroccan Winter Squash and Carrot Stew


2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 teaspoons Hungarian sweet paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Pinch of saffron
1 cup chicken/vegetable stock
1 14 1/2-ounce can diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 cups 1-inch cubes peeled butternut squash (from 1 1/2-pound squash)
2 cups 3/4-inch cubes peeled carrots
1 can Chickpeas
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro, divided
2 teaspoons chopped fresh mint, divided

2 cup quinoa* (Pronounced keen-wa)
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 cup finely chopped peeled carrot
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
4 cups chicken/vegetable stock


For stew: 
Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion; sauté until soft, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Add garlic; stir 1 minute. Mix in paprika and next 8 ingredients. Add 1 cup stock, tomatoes, and lemon juice. Bring to boil. Add squash and carrots. Cover and simmer over medium-low heat until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes; add the can of chickpeas after the first 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.)

For quinoa: 
Melt butter with oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and carrot. Cover; cook until vegetables begin to brown, stirring often, about 10 minutes. Add garlic, salt, and turmeric; sauté 1 minute. Add quinoa; stir 1 minute. Add 2 cups stock. Bring to boil; reduce heat to medium-low. Cover; simmer until liquid is absorbed and quinoa is tender, about 15 minutes.
NOTE: Sometimes I find a lot of liquid in my quinoa after 15 minutes and it tends to be too firm yet. So, I turn up the heat to medium, remove the lid, and check it after about 5 minutes. Use you best judgment - if it seems undercooked, it probably is. Don't be scared of this grain; it's pretty hard to screw it up.

Rewarm stew. Stir in the cilantro and mint, reserving about 1 tablespoon of the cilantro for garnish. Spoon quinoa onto platter, forming well in center. Spoon stew into well. Sprinkle remaining herbs over.

* You can find quinoa in the natural section of the grocery store, or at a specialty market. It's a grain that has lots of protein, and it tastes great. If you're still not impressed or persuaded, go ahead and use rice.

Adapted from Bon Appétit | January 2006

Made on 10/18/09.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Looking forward to bad weather . . .

Since the weather here in Milwaukee is terrible - we're talking 44 degrees, wind, and rain - I intend to stay inside all weekend cooking and reading; I hope to have a new batch of recipes ready for posting. We're not that far into fall, and I have already exhausted my favorites, including Roasted Squash and Sage Risotto.

(I am really looking forward to this weekend because Todd and I haven't spent a weekend at home without plans since we got married - it's liberating being free of plans.)