An Open Cookbook

An Open Cookbook


Pumpkin Biscuits

The eve of 2013 has arrived. It is a passageway from one year of experiences to a road of possibility. A clean slate to start eating better, being nicer, or taking a new vacation. Every year around Christmas when I am home in Ohio, my family and I fill our wine glasses, pull out our pens, and gather around the dining room table to write our resolutions for the upcoming year. Since 1999, we have carefully placed our resolutions into individual envelopes that are collected into one large envelope, that is ceremoniously tucked into a hidden venue until the next year. Then after Christmas, we contribute new plans and goals to the growing stack of papers. It is always interesting to review goals of years past. There are always a few that get rewritten and added to the next year. And there are ones that get crossed off...those are the most satisfying.

One of my resolutions this year is to be open to seeing life with a new perspective. You never know who you may meet that will change your life or what corner you may turn that will lead to a new path. This pumpkin for example was left over from Thanksgiving and needed to be either be roasted or composted. I chose the former, which turned out to be a pleasant surprise. It was brimming with seeds that got tossed into oil and roasted, and meat that was cooked, pureed, and refrigerated until inspiration hit. I was at the gym and as usual, day dreaming of what to have for breakfast the next day. There is a bakery near my house that serves sweet potato biscuits with egg and cheese. These breakfast sandwiches have been creeping into my mind for weeks. But when I have a day off, I often like staying home to drink coffee and make a fancy meal. So why not use the pureed pumpkin to create a similar meal?

So let's allow the pumpkin biscuits to symbolize change: transforming an ordinary pumpkin into a colorful breakfast biscuit. Go the extra step to make a small difference. Eggs and Cheddar cheese have never looked so cheery.

Pumpkin Biscuits
Makes 10 to 12 small biscuits
Inspired by an recipe

This was originally a sweet potato biscuit recipe that pumpkin was swapped into. Feel free to use sweet potato instead. I simply had a spare pumpkin that needed to be roasted and found its way into the biscuit dough.

1 cup + 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
3 tbsp butter, cut into small pieces
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
1 to 2 tbsp milk
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Mix flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt together in a bowl. Using your hands, mix butter into dry ingredients until butter is fully incorporated. Stir in milk until dough is sticky and well mixed. Refrigerate dough for 15 minutes.
Transfer dough onto a well-floured surface and knead until dough is smooth, about 1 minute. Roll dough using a floured rolling pin into a 1/2-inch rectangle; cut into about 2-inch squares. Place biscuits onto a parchment or Silpat-lined baking sheet. Place baking sheet and biscuits in the freezer for 10 minutes.
Remove from freezer and bake until biscuits have risen and are lightly browned, 15 to 18 minutes.


Spicy Date Compote

It is recipe swap time of month again and Christianna of Burwell General Store has given us a festive recipe this month: fruit cake. It is the long-standing traditional gift we have been joking about as the unfriendliest item on the holiday table. I never really understood why fruit cake has gotten such a bad rap over the years. In theory, it isn't so bad. A cake made with dried fruit and nuts could be good if it didn't involve those creepy, artificially-colored candied fruit pieces that dot the dry cake.

Thanks to my coworker and friend A, inspiration hit. She had been raving about a fig compote she had in New York about a month ago. We were simply standing on both sides of our cubicles one day last week when she announced she would be featuring the compote at Friday happy hour. A light bulb suddenly appeared above my head. I could evolve her recipe for the recipe swap and bring it to H and J's latke party on Sunday.

So yesterday morning my house was filled with aromas of simmering red wine. The compote is a perfect blend of sweet and spicy, especially when served atop a cracker with cheese, and even better, thinly sliced coppa. So this holiday season, as your are slaving over the Christmas cookie baking, pop these ingredients on the stove, for a quick and easy appetizer for your holiday parties, or just an everyday snack spread.

Spicy Date Compote
Makes about 3/4 cup

Any variety of dried fruit can but used in this recipe. A's orginal recipe used dried figs. Serve alongside crackers and cheese for a nice appetizer.

1 cup red wine
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or more to taste
1/4 cup dried cranberries
3/4 cup freshly chopped dates
Salt to taste

Mix wine, honey, sugar, and red pepper flakes in a saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until honey and sugar have dissolved, 5 minutes. Add cranberries and simmer for 10 more minutes. Add dates and salt; simmer until mixture is thickened and dates are just starting to dissolve, 5 to 10 more minutes. Remove from heat and cool in the refrigerator until serving time.