Pumpkin-Date Bread, or It’s Finally Fall

It’s fall, so that means it’s finally socially acceptable to commence drooling over all things pumpkin, including pumpkin spice lattes and pumpkin beer. This bread is adapted from a recipe my friend Kelly gave me; I’ve cut back on the sugar, added wheat germ and flax and upped the spice amounts; I also added ginger. I know I’ve made this for her in a gluten free version (without the wheat germ of course) with a mix of flours and maybe 1/2 tsp of xanthan gum; I honestly can’t remember the specifics, though.

The way I’ve made it, it’s fairly healthy as far as quick breads go. I think I might make it with one cup of sugar the next time, just to see what happens. The flax and wheat germ up the nutritional profile here. Pumpkin contains some serious Vitamin A, some fiber, Vitamin C and iron; dates have some fiber, magnesium and B-6, which helps keep the bread moist. You could even add some chopped toasted walnuts, almonds or hazelnuts. This bread keeps well for a few days and it happens to be very good toasted and slathered with cream cheese.

Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 T. wheat germ
  • 1 T. ground flax
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. cloves
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup neutral oil (sunflower, grapeseed, canola; I used organic expeller pressed canola)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 cup chopped dates
  • Demarara or turbinado sugar for sprinkling

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and grease and flour a 5 x 9 loaf pan.
  2. Whisk together all the dry ingredients (flour through cloves) in a medium bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the sugars, making sure no clumps of brown sugar remain (I like to break up brown sugar clumps with my fingers). Add the eggs, oil, pumpkin and vanilla, and whisk until all parts are combined completely. Gently fold in the flour and then the dates. Do not overmix. Sprinkle the top with the turbinado or demarara sugar.
  4. Bake for 55-60 minutes until a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the middle comes out mostly clean; a couple of crumbs are okay. Let it cool on a wire rack for about 10 minutes and then remove from the pan to cool completely before cutting.

22

09 2014

First Soup of the Season: Potato, Leeks and Carrots

A quick dinner photo posted to Instagram resulted in a recipe request, so I apologize for the utilitarian nature of the image here. I am at a place with soup where I don’t typically work from recipes. Soup is a great confidence builder when it comes to experimenting with cooking. It’s also a perennial fridge-cleaning out meal, which I also dig.

However, I know the quantities I used because I chopped all the ingredients at lunch time and stored them in containers whose sizes I know by heart, so bingo, a recipe was born. I used organic ingredients from the farmers’ markets and quality is super important when you have a soup with so few ingredients. They all have to sing their song, ya know?

Herewith, the first soup of the season.

Ingredients

  • 1-2 T. unsalted butter or grapeseed oil
  • 2 leeks, cleaned and thinly sliced
  • 2 cups sliced carrots (I used orange and white ones because that’s what I had)
  • 4 cups sliced potatoes (I used fingerlings, but Yukon golds are my potato of choice for soup)
  • 4 cups water (or stock; I haven’t made stock yet this season so I used water)
  • 3-4 chives, snipped small but somewhat irregularly, right into the pot

Directions

1. Melt your fat of choice over medium heat in a large saucepan. Add the leeks, stirring occasionally and cook 3-4 minutes until they soften. Add the carrots, and let them cook for another 2. Add the potatoes and the water. Bring the whole thing to a boil, and then simmer, covered, for 15-20 minutes until the potatoes are fork tender.

2. You can serve this as is, but I love a good pureed soup. Transfer 3/4 of the soup to a blender (I used my Vitamix which makes things creamier without adding dairy), making sure there’s enough water in there to puree, and then puree it. Transfer it back to the saucepan. I do this because I like a little bit of texture here and there with pureed soups. Snip the chives over the pot, give it another couple of pinches of freshly cracked black pepper and kosher salt, and you’re good to go.

Serves: 4 moderately hungry people, including 2 almost 6-year-old boys

18

09 2014