Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Pumpkin-Chocolate Swirl Cake (with turkey eggs!)

An unexpected benefit to having animal-behaviorist biologist friends is that you meet their super-interesting animal-behaviorist biologist friends, who may or may not study captive flocks of wild turkeys in Mississippi, and who may or may not show up at parties with, like, a gross of said turkeys' eggs and, well, behold:

You might just go home with some turkey eggs of your very own.

They are about the size of chicken eggs, shown for comparison. But having cooked with duck eggs previously, I knew these would have incredibly thick and rich yolks. Obviously, these eggs were destined to go into a baking project.

The challenge I set for myself was that I had to make something I had never made before (turkey egg chocolate cake being out) and could only use ingredients I had on hand.

My mother has this charmingly random habit of sending me care packages that are two-thirds sensical (my mail that has been sent to my parents' address; vehicle documents; holiday goodies) and one-third nonsensical (foam boomerangs; flamingo stickie things; cans of pumpkin). Needless to say, I love getting a package from home. But those cans of pumpkin had been sitting in my pantry for a while...

Pumpkin! I said. And cocoa powder. Seasons be damned. Turkey eggs, pumpkin, chocolate. Okay. Now, where can I find a recipe that uses these things?

Weirdly, Martha Stewart had one. The recipe was for Pumpkin Swirl Brownies, but mine turned out more cake-like, probably due to the deep dish and the fact that I only used 3 eggs instead of her 4.

Pumpkin-Chocolate Swirl Cake
Adapted from a recipe on

8 tablespoons (1 stick) of butter
6-7 tablespoons of Special Dark cocoa powder, mixed with a couple teaspoons of sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups sugar
4 large eggs (I used 3 turkey eggs because they are richer)
1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups solid-pack pumpkin
1/4 cup melted butter
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cloves

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch pan. Melt butter in a metal bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water; stir in cocoa powder until smooth. Remove from heat.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl; set aside. In a large mixing bowl, combine sugar, eggs, and vanilla, beating 3 to 5 minutes until fluffy and well-combined. Beat in flour mixture.

Divide batter between two bowls, about two cups per bowl. Into one bowl, stir the chocolate mixture. Into the other, stir the melted butter, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and pumpkin.

I somehow ended up with more pumpkin than chocolate batter, so instead of Martha's four layers, I did three: a layer of pumpkin on the bottom, a middle layer of chocolate, and a top layer of pumpkin. Drag a knife through to make pretty designs and what-have-you.

Bake until set, 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack. Cut into squares.

Comments from the peanut gallery:

"Is good with coffee" - taste-tester number 1

"Can you make this again... at Halloween?" - taste-tester number 2

Monday, July 19, 2010

Summer, y'all

Too hot to cook. But here's a pretty picture of grilled U of M garden eggplant with U of M purple ruffle basil pesto, Mama L's tomatoes with some sea salt, and... the ever-present summer beer.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Joan Dye Gussow's Eggplant Bhurta

Like I don't already have enough recipes for eggplant on this blog -- it started out at a challenge vegetable for me, but I've grown to like it so much that it's not hard to work it in at all anymore. This recipe, which I cut in half for a filling lunch, is another good, quick way to enjoy it. I'd never heard of bhurta before, but apparently it's an Indian dish of lightly fried or sauteed mashed vegetables. Here, the roasted eggplant gets a nice boost from the spicy peppers.

Eggplant Bhurta
From This Organic Life by Joan Dye Gussow

2 medium eggplants (from Mama L's garden)
2 tablespoons butter
1 onion, chopped (used a couple small ones from Richardson Farms)
1 peeled green Anaheim pepper (I used some roasted jalepenos)
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons yogurt

Score and roast the eggplant in the oven -- about an hour at 450 degrees. Peel and mash it, or use your food processor to chop it.

Saute the onion and pepper in the butter, then add the eggplant.

Add the salt and the yogurt and serve over rice (basmati would have been awesome, had I had some). Simple for summer. That's about all I can do in this heat.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Farmers' Market Etiquette re-post

Ooh, it's thundery out there. I'm about to go skin another eggplant. Feels appropriately quasi-horror-movie-esque for an ominous night.

On a cheerier note, here's a good post from The Kitchn on farmers' market etiquette. The MFM totally welcomes babies and strollers and what have you, but please check your dogs in at the pet-sitting tent! The health department won't allow them inside the market.

I have to say, though, that the biggest news among the corps of volunteers last summer was the mom who decided to breast-feed her infant in the middle of the market. Our market manager politely asked her to cover up. (Have avoided all bad puns about melons, raw milk, etc. Or is it too late now?) Central Station on a Saturday morning might be one of the most crunchy places in Memphis, but it seems we have not gone that far yet.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Eggplant and Yogurt Spread with Red Onions & Olives

The first half of this summer was all about eating from the U of M edible garden (working for judges=awesome work, not so much with the getting paid), and I am truly thankful to the department that maintains it. This dish used eggplant and basil from the garden and went over well at a friend's Fourth of July party. Pics are from a pre-party test run.

Eggplant and Yogurt Spread with Red Onions & Olives
from a borrowed Greek cookbook whose name escapes me...

1 small eggplant
1 cup plain yogurt or thickened yogurt (you could use Greek yogurt or make your own, see below)
1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil leaves
6 tablespoons chopped Kalamata olives (rinsed of their brine)
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
whole fresh basil leaves
crackers/pita chips for serving

Line a strainer with a piece of cheesecloth or coffee filter and place over a bowl. Place the yogurt in the cheesecloth/filter and let it drain for about an hour or so. The longer it sits, the thicker and more cheese-like it will get. $4 for Fage what??

Score the eggplant and roast it at 450 degrees for about 1 hour. It'll be finished when it's all soft and wrinkly. Peel back the skin and let the steam escape to cool. Scrape the pulp from the eggplant, transfer it to a large bowl, and mix with a fork until creamy.

Stir in the yogurt, chopped basil, olives, onion, garlic, and salt, blending well. Cover and refrigerate for several hours, until thoroughly chilled.

To serve, garnish with basil leaves. Having tried this with Ritz crackers, Carr's water crackers, Triscuits, and pita chips, my vote is for serving it with the pita chips.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Oh, I am back...

Dear Bob, yall. Not having internet for like a month sucked. A big shout-out to Otherlands is due, as are high praises for their $2.29 medium cup of coffee (with a free refill) and unlimited patience for one's camping-out self.

More recipes soon; in the meantime, feast on this: