Monday, November 25, 2013

Pumpkin Rugelach

Happy Thanksgivukkah! I couldn't resist making at least one merged Thanksgiving & Hanukkah treat this year. After all, they say these two holidays won't intermingle again for another 79,000 years, so it's now or never (at least for me). I like to think that in 79,000 years people will no longer eat because they'll have evolved to be more like plants and simply photosynthesize. It just seems so much more elegant. So enjoy some rugelach while you still have a mouth.

Yield: 2 dozen

4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour

Pumpkin Filling:
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup fine maple sugar or dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon milk (egg wash)
2 tablespoons raw sugar

1.      Dough: Combine cream cheese and butter in a bowl until well blended. Stir in vanilla, sugar and salt. Stir in flour to create a soft dough. Remove dough from bowl, form into a disk and wrap with plastic wrap. Refrigerate until ready to use, at least 1 hour.
2.      Pumpkin Filling: In a saucepan over medium heat, combine pumpkin, butter, maple sugar, pumpkin pie spice and cinnamon; stir occasionally until mixture begins to bubble. Reduce heat to low and cook for about 10 minutes, or until mixture thickens and water has evaporated. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla and allow to cool completely before using.
3.      Place half the dough on a floured surface and roll out into a 9-inch round. Spoon half of pumpkin mixture onto center of dough. Use an offset spatula or back of a spoon to spread mixture out evenly toward edge. Sprinkle with half the chopped walnuts and about 2 tablespoons maple sugar or brown sugar. Use a sharp knife or pizza cutter to cut the round into 4 wedges, then cut each wedge into 3 wedges to create a total of 12 wedges.
4.      Preheat oven to 350º F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silplat mats.
5.      Starting from wide end, roll each wedge into a crescent. Place "point down" on lined baking sheet. Repeat process with remaining dough and filling. Refrigerate rugelach for 30 minutes.
6.      Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with raw sugar, if desired.
7.      Bake for 20-22 minutes or until lightly browned, turning halfway though. Cool for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

slightly adapted from

pumpkin, butter, sugar and spices
pumpkin mixture thickened
pumpkin mixture spread on dough circle
and sprinkled with walnuts and sugar

I forgot to take photos of making the dough, but clearly I did.
dough cut into triangles
rolled into crescents

I didn't do the egg wash or sprinkle with
raw sugar. It looks pretty, but isn't necessary
if you don't have time (which I didn't).

I've been so ridiculously busy lately that I only managed to take one photo of the baked final product (at the top of the page). I made these last week and froze them, so I could go to the basement, get them out of the freezer and do a rugelach photo shoot, but that's just not going to happen.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Mushroom and Celery Stuffing

I know that technically when you don't cook your stuffing inside your turkey, it's called dressing. But I can't quite bring myself to do that because in my mind, dressing will always be something I drizzle on my salad. So I'm sticking with stuffing. I think we all know what I'm talking about. I've tried a lot of stuffing recipes over the years and maybe I should be ashamed to admit this, but I've never found a homemade one I liked as much as plain old Pepperidge Farm in the bag. I guess it's because that's what I grew up eating (and no, they're not paying me to say this). But I always wanted to find a homemade version I like just as much and this is the one. It's very unassuming - no chunks of sausage, apple or chestnuts (although I do love chestnuts). Just the basics. Sometimes that's all you need.

Serves 12

1 large loaf challah bread or decent quality white bread (such as Arnold brand)
2 cups diced celery
2 cups diced onion
2 cups diced cremini mushrooms
8-10 sprigs thyme, chopped
3 sprigs rosemary, chopped
1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
3 cups chicken stock (or vegetable stock for vegetarian), preferably homemade
6 tablespoons butter + 1 stick butter, melted
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground

1.      Heat oven to 275° F. Cut the bread into cubes, about ¾-inch each. Place cubes on a parchment lined sheet pan toast in the oven for about 45 minutes, stirring every 10-15 minutes. Set aside until completely cooled.
2.      Melt 6 tablespoons of the butter in a large heavy saute pan. Saute the onions until wilted, add the herbs, celery and mushrooms and cook until just slightly cooked through.
3.      In a large bowl, combine bread cubes, vegetables, melted butter and vegetable stock, and salt and pepper. Test for seasoning and adjust.
4.      Press stuffing into a large buttered baking dish. Cover with buttered parchment, and then foil. At this point, the stuffing can be held for several hours, but should be at room temperature before baking.
5.      Bake at 350º F. for 35-40 minutes. Remove the parchment/foil and bake for another 10-15 minutes, to crisp the surface.

adapted from (submitted by MrsWheelbarrow)
thyme and rosemary
vegetables and herbs in the pot
adding butter, stock, salt and pepper
adding toasted bread cubes
in the pan
mushroom and celery stuffing

I love that the inside is moist, while the top is a little crunchy.