Monday, November 21, 2011

Baking Up a Storm

Food, food, food - baking food to be exact. That's clearly all I have on the brain lately. It helps that I am finding tons of excuses to do so. Exhibit A: I have been up to my elbows in leeks from the last few weeks of the CSA. Lucky for me, they keep in the fridge for quite some time, enough time for me to find a recipe that requires more than just half of one. Quiche to the rescue! Eight cups of chopped leeks should do the trick, plus a sprinkle of bacon of course. I've made this recipe (technically a tart) several times but this go-around I swapped out yellow onions for their stocky green cousins. It made for a more delicate flavor that was oh-so-sublime. I may or may not have eaten this for several meals in a row. Hard to resist something that is delicious any time of day!

And Exhibit B: cupcakes! A potluck yesterday at work yesterday (yes, I have now managed to have 3 Thanksgivings this year) was a good reason to try something new. While searching for something else to do with squash, I came across this recipe. It had me at cream cheese frosting. For someone known to eat frosting by the spoonful, I usually end up frustrated any time I try to apply it to my baked creations. It's a craft to be mastered for sure but using a pastry bag really helps. The golden batter is so pretty on its own, I left the edges bare to show it off. Plus, these resemble the ones sold at Sportello bakery- the magical land of salty chocolate cake and banana Nutella cupcakes. Lastly, I added a few dashes of Cointreau to the frosting - just to ensure these treats gave everything that holiday feeling!

Leek and Bacon Tart 
adapted from Moosewood Restaurant's New Classics, best cookbook ever
dough for one pie crust
8 cups sliced leeks
1/2 cup chopped, cooked bacon
1 tsp salt
6 eggs
1/4 cup flour
1 tbs dijon mustard
dash of nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups of milk or cream
1 cup grated parmesan or cheddar cheese

1) Roll out dough into a 13-inch circle and place in a 10-inch pie plate or round casserole dish. Chill in the refrigerator.
2) Saute leeks with salt until caramelized and golden brown, about 15 minutes.
3) Set pan aside and mix in bacon.
4) Puree the rest of the ingredients except the cheese in a blender.
5) Spread the leek mixture evenly in the pie shell, cover with the cheese, and pour over the egg/milk mixture.
6) Bake at 400 degrees for 50-60 minutes until golden brown.

*For the squash cupcakes, see here (any winter squash will do). Also, I opted for orange flavored frosting instead of sage.*

Cream Cheese Frosting
from The Joy of Cooking
3 cups confectioners sugar
8oz cream cheese
6 tbs butter
1 tbs orange liqueur, such as Cointreau 

1) Pulse all ingredients in a food processor just until mixed. Make sure not to over blend or frosting will get gluey.
2) Scoop all frosting into a pastry bag with desired tip and frost each cupcake.
3) Chill cupcakes in the refrigerator until ready to eat.

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