WHAT WE’RE COOKING: CRANBERRY CRUMB BAR…

by Mary Frances Giles

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If you are still searching for new dessert recipes this holiday season, then look no further! These cranberry crumb bars – along with their fraternal twin, the blueberry crumb bar* – are in heavy rotation at my L’Abri table, and are always, ALWAYS met with delight. If you want to win over your friends and relations, then this easy bar recipe is for you!

Cranberry Crumb Bars (from smittenkitchen.com)

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup cold unsalted butter (2 sticks or 8 ounces)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Zest and juice of one orange
  • 4 cups fresh cranberries (one 12oz bag)
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 4 teaspoons cornstarch

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease a 9×13 inch pan.

In a medium bowl, stir together 1 cup sugar, 3 cups flour, and baking powder. Mix in salt and orange zest. Use a fork or pastry cutter to blend in the butter and egg. Dough will be crumbly. Pat half of dough into the prepared pan.

In another bowl, stir together the sugar, cornstarch and orange juice. Gently mix in the cranberries. Sprinkle the cranberry mixture evenly over the crust. Crumble remaining dough over the berry layer.

Bake in preheated oven for about 45 minutes, or until top is slightly brown. Cool completely before cutting into squares. Makes about 32 smallish bars. Enjoy!

*For a summer (and sweeter!) version of this bar, substitute blueberries for the cranberries, and lemon zest/juice for the orange.

Pumpkin Apple Autumn Gold, and Understanding Soup

By Sarah Crowley Chestnut

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Soup and I go way back. On fall nights during high school, when I returned home at dinner time after volleyball practice, the welcoming aroma of my mother’s chicken noodle or her beef stew met me on the short, brick walk way to our front steps. And there were biscuits on the table, too, nestled in a basket, tucked in with a cloth napkin to keep them warm.

In my second year of college I had mono for a month, and my mother brought me her chicken noodle in a quart-sized mason jar when she and my father were in town on business. I knew that I was loved.

In the years after college when I lived in Prague, teaching English to students bright as a lit wick, I taught myself how to make a creamy potato soup, studded with the bright half-circles of carrots I bought at the vegetable market in the small plaza at the mouth of the metro. There was celery, too, and white wine. I learned how to make a roux.

One afternoon a Czech co-worker took me on a walk through the heart of the old town, and we stopped “for refreshment” in a small tavern, tucked (like those warm biscuits), in a thick medieval wall. We sat at a table that was small and round. The waiter brought us a rendition of borscht that seared itself into my memory. It was chunky: beets, carrots, potatoes, tomatoes. There was sausage that made it smokey. And the pigment of the broth!

During my years at Regent College I ate soup every Tuesday, with the rest of the school, from a white bowl balanced on my knees, and a Portuguese bun spread with peanut butter and raspberry jam leaving a dusting of flour over everything. In time, I was the one who made that Tuesday soup with the help of many hands. I learned to extract garlic from its skin properly: trim the root end, set it on your board, lay the flat of your knife on the cloves and let the heel of our hand fall hard on the smooth steel. Pluck the crushed clove from its husk. Repeat. There was roasted butternut squash. There was vegetable barley. During Lent, even nettle and potato to remind us of the sting of thorns.

It is fall—deep fall—in New England; the air snaps hungry jaws and what it wants is soup. At L’Abri we make soup by the gallons: Ben’s Corn Chowder, Mary Frances’s Tortellini Spinach, Liz’s Potato Leek. Or this past Monday, because it was Halloween, my Pumpkin Apple Autumn Gold. I am told there was always soup at the Schaeffer’s table. And when I was a Helper here in Southborough, trying to recreate that Prague borscht from my tastebud’s memory, word got back to me that Joe Morrell had told Joshua, “Your wife understands soup.” I really can’t think of a better compliment one could pay me. It amounts to this: soup is as simple as sunbeams, and as complex as the light they make.

So join us at the table. Pumpkin Apple Autumn Gold is hot, and warm biscuits are tucked and waiting.

Recommended Reading and Cooking:

The Supper of the Lamb, Robert Farrar Capon (especially the chapter, “Living Water”)

Twelve Months of Monastery Soup, Brother Victor-Antoine d’Avila Latourrette

The Moosewood Cookbooks—any of them—for great vegetarian soup recipes.

 

Pumpkin Apple Autumn Gold (adapted from Moosewood Cooks for a Crowd)

This recipe makes 25 12-oz. Servings. Invite your neighbors over and plan to freeze some, too. Or halve the recipe.

Ingredients

16 cups / 7 lbs Cooked pulp of pumpkin or other winter squash (I used a mixture of sugar pie pumpkin, kabocha and butternut squash)

10 cups / 2 lbs.8oz. Onions, chopped

½ cup Olive oil

1 tsp Dried thyme

3 TBS Fresh sage, chopped (optional)

1tsp Ground nutmeg

1-2 tsp Ground cinnamon

1 thumb-size piece Fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped (optional)

8 Bay leaves

2 generous pinches Kosher salt

Several cranks Fresh ground pepper

4 cups / 1 lb. 4 oz. Carrots, chopped

6-8 cups / 2 lbs. Celery, chopped

1 cup White wine (optional)

3 qts. Chicken or vegetable stock

1 qt. Apple juice

1 qt. Orange juice

more salt and pepper to taste

Plain yogurt and toasted pumpkin seeds to garnish

  1. Halve and seed the pumpkin/squash, rub lightly with olive oil and bake, covered with foil, at 400F for about an hour, or until very soft. Set aside and then scrape out the pulp when it is cool enough to handle. Meanwhile…
  2. Heat oil in a large pot, add onions, herbs, spices, salt, pepper and bay leaves and saute until onions begin to soften.
  3. Add the carrots, celery and white wine, stir and cover, cooking on medium heat for 10-15 minutes. Stir occasionally.
  4. Add the stock and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook, covered, until the vegetables are very soft. Remove the bay leaves as best as you can.
  5. In a blender, puree the squash, juices and rest of the soup in batches until smooth. Taste for salt and pepper and season to taste. Reheat gently.
  6. Garnish with a swirl of yogurt and a sprinkle of pumpkin seeds.

WHAT WE’RE COOKING: THE CHESTNUT’S QUINOA CANNELLINI BURGERS

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Our six year old is a self-proclaimed vegetarian, and has more or less been since birth.  As omnivores who love a good burger we both vividly recall cooking him his first burger when he was around 18 months old.  We were excited to share some more ‘grown up’ food with him – something we could all eat together – and knowing the type of genes he came from we were confident he’d love it.  Well, long story short – he devoured the bun, loved the ketchup and ate the whole pickle but spit out the only bite of meat that made it past his lips.

From that heartbreaking day till now we have been on the hunt for good veggie-burger recipes and we recently came across one that we all liked and also received good reviews from a table of students who were mostly meat-eaters.

 

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 2 Cups cooked quinoa (make sure you rinse the quinoa well before you cook it)
  • 1 cup cannellini beans, mashed
  • 1/2 cup plain bread crumbs
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten (or you can use a flax seed substitute)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 3/4 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • chopped parsley
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

Pre-heat your oven to 425 F.  Mash your beans with a fork separately and then combine everything in a bowl.  Mix it all together and then form into patties.  We cook them on an oiled cask-iron skillet but a baking sheet would also work well.  We cook them for about 25 minutes flipping them part way through.

Cook them until they are as crispy as you like them and serve with regular burger stuff or on top of salad.

 

WHAT WE’RE COOKING: MARY FRANCES GILES’ BAKED OATMEAL FOR A CROWD

When I tell people about my work at L’Abri, one of the questions I am asked most often is, “What do you feed all of those people?” Cooking for a crowd can be intimidating, but with a little bit of patience and planning (and some help from the internet!), it’s possible to make tasty, healthy dishes that make (most) everyone happy.

Recently I was tasked with serving Saturday breakfast to 20+ people. I used the recipe below to make individual baked oatmeal “muffins”, and they were a total hit! These little wonders can be eaten as muffins (and on-the-go!), or crumbled into a bowl with milk or yogurt. I added blueberries to each muffin, but the sky is the limit as far as toppings go. Add eggs (scrambled or hard-boiled) and coffee, and you have a breakfast of champions! These freeze beautifully as well.

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Individual Baked Oatmeal (recipe taken from thewholesomedish.com)

Serves 16

Ingredients:

2 eggs1/4 cup canola oil

1 cup packed brown sugar

½ cup applesauce

1 ½ cups milk

2 tsp. vanilla extract

½ tsp. salt

1 tbsp. ground cinnamon

3 cups old fashioned rolled oats

2 tsp. baking powder

optional: toppings (nuts, fresh or dried fruit, chocolate chips, etc.)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (C). Line muffin tin(s) with muffin liners (a must!).
  2. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, oil, and brown sugar until sugar is dissolved. Add the applesauce, milk, vanilla, salt, and cinnamon. Whisk until well combined. Stir in the oats and baking powder.
  3. Fill each muffin cup with ¼ cup of the oat mixture. Add any toppings (about 2 tsp. per muffin) and press the toppings into the oat mixture with a spoon.
  4. Bake for 30 minutes, let cool for 5 minutes before eating/serving.

Enjoy!

WHAT WE’RE COOKING: THE CHESTNUT’S “GAME-CHANGER” BEET BURGERS

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On the occasions that we’ve served this meal we’ve been met with a few looks of incredulity and dismissal as these beet burgers have been passed around the table.  To some the words “beet” and “burger” should never be in the same sentence let alone the center of their dinner plate.  That said, we’ve seen those looks of suspicion transformed into smiles of surprise delight as they take their first few bites, and we hear things like, “I wasn’t a fan of beets before this, but now I don’t know – these are pretty good.”

Maybe you love beets.  Maybe you hate them, but are open to giving them another chance.  Wherever you stand in relation to beets, this is a tasty, fun and colorful meal.

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Beet Burgers:

3 cups shredded beet

2 cups shredded carrot

1 cup shredded cheese (cheddar is nice)

1 small onion, minced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 cup sunflower seeds

1/4 cup sesame seeds

3 eggs

1 TBS soy sauce

1/4 cup olive oil

3/4 cup bread crumbs

1 cup whole wheat flour

1/4 tsp cayenne

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup chopped parsley (optional)

Mix thoroughly, and allow the mixture to rest for 10 minutes or so (this gets the bread crumbs and flour working with the moisture to bind the mixture together).  If it is still impossible to shape patties that hold together, add a little more flour.  The burgers will bind and set up in the cooking, so don’t worry too much if they seem a little fragile.  I like to make them on the thick side.

The best way I’ve found to cook the patties is to preheat my cast iron griddle in the oven at 425F, then fill up the griddle with burgers.  Bake for 10 minutes, or until the burger is nicely browned on the griddle side, then flip and bake for another 10-15 minutes.  Alternatively, place the patties on a baking sheet and bake at 400F for 25 minutes, flipping halfway through the baking once the sheet side of the burger has browned nicely.

Serve with whatever you like to top a burger with, on whatever bun you fancy.