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Awake at the Whisk: October 2009

Saturday, October 31, 2009


No Impact Man: A Film Review

Check out my latest film review on of the new documentary No Impact Man, which hit theaters yesterday. It's a heartwarming story about a family attempting to drastically reduce their environmental footprint for one year. I gave it four stars.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


Pumpkin Cornbread Muffins

Open up and say, “Ahhhh!” It’s pumpkin season, and that means bliss upon your palette. I never met a pumpkin recipe I didn’t like, and I have never failed in my attempts to incorporate pumpkin into everything from my morning chai to my chili. My latest experiment brings pumpkin to can’t-go-wrong corn muffins. The crunch of cornmeal, the earthy density of chopped walnuts, and the caramel notes of brown sugar come together to form the perfect fall treat. Dip them in spicy chili, drench them in gooey honey, or pop them straight from oven to mouth. However you enjoy them, you’re guaranteed a mouthy good time!

½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. ground ginger
½ tsp. ground cloves
¼ tsp. ground cardamom
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
¾ cup cornmeal
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup pumpkin puree
½ cup brown sugar, packed
¼ cup canola oil
1 cup chopped walnuts
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
In a medium bowl, sift together the flours, spices, baking powder and soda, as well as the salt. Whisk in the cornmeal to incorporate. Form a well in the center.

In a separate bowl, combine the eggs, pumpkin, sugar, and oil. Add this mixture to the flour mixture and stir just until combined (it’s okay if some of the flour still shows through—it will be combined when you add the walnuts). Next, gently fold in the walnuts.
Fill 12 greased muffin cups to about ¾ full. Allow them to sit for about 10 minutes (this will allow a lovely crown to form) before baking in the oven for 15-18 minutes.

I lift my muffins from the tin as soon as they come out of the oven. (My fingers have built up a tolerance.) But you can let them rest for about 5 minutes before you remove them and allow them to cool on a wire rack.

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Tuesday, October 13, 2009


Farmers’ Market Supper: Veggie-Smothered Cheese Enchiladas

Fast suppers don’t have to skimp on freshness. This meal was prepared almost entirely with farmers’ market ingredients. The extra groceries came directly from those I usually keep on stock in my pantry: tomato sauce, spices, and black olives.

I love enchiladas, but I don’t love the extra steps some recipes require. I used to reserve this meal for eating out… until I invented this recipe. Now, the only thing keeping me back is my method of preparation: I bake them in a single-serving cast iron skillet. Since I can’t pop that in the dishwasher, the task of hand washing prevents me from making these every night. You may need to find a similar deterrent, because this restaurant-quality dish is sure to be a new favorite. (Of course, I say that about everything, but I really mean it!)

Veggie Smothered Cheese Enchiladas

Fast Enchilada Sauce
· 15-oz can tomato sauce
· 1 Tablespoon onion powder
· 1 teaspoon garlic powder
· 1 teaspoon chili powder
· 1 teaspoon cumin powder
· ¼ or ½ teaspoon super hot chili powder (cayenne or your favorite)—use less if you don’t like it hot, because it will be hot!

Pour the tomato sauce into a bowl and add all spices. Blend well and set aside while you prepare your meal.

· Non-stick spray
· 6 corn tortillas
· 2 cups shredded Monterey jack cheese, divided
· 1 cup Fast Enchilada Sauce (above)
· 1 medium onion, diced
· 1 small red bell pepper, diced
· 1 cactus paddle, diced
· 1 red jalapeno, diced
· 1 green jalapeno, diced
· ½-cup chopped black olives

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray two individual serving-size cast iron skillets with cooking spray. Lay one corn tortilla flat on each skillet and top each with ½-cup cheese. Place a second tortilla on top of the cheese, and then top it with ½-cup cheese. Place a final, third tortilla on top of the stack. Spread about ½-cup Fast Enchilada Sauce (depending on how much you like) on the topmost tortilla of each stack.

Now, sprinkle all veggies on top of the enchilada sauce. By placing them on top of the tortilla stacks (instead of inside), your veggies will roast in the oven, giving them a delicious, Southwest flavor, and will also leave them crisp.

Place skillets in oven and bake for 10-12 minutes, or until cheese begins to bubble at the edges of the tortillas and the veggies are just beginning to wrinkle. Allow to cool for about 5 minutes. Serve on a hot pad. Enjoy!

Serves two.

Note: If you’ve got a hungry crowd, you can also add a scoop of refried beans and/or pre-cooked rice to half the skillet, placed beside the enchiladas. I sprinkle a pinch of shredded cheese and a few olives on top of the beans as they bake with the enchiladas. When served in the cast iron skillet, this is truly a restaurant-style meal worthy of company.

Tip 2: If you’ve got garden-ripe tomatoes, you can dice them and add them atop your enchiladas when they come out of the oven. You can also replace any of the veggies with something seasonal: zucchini, eggplant, whatever your heart desires.

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