Monday, November 30, 2009

Once upon a time there was... Pumpkin Bread

While we were making our Thanksgiving Mashed Potatoes, we had some extra time on our hands, since the potatoes like to take their time to boil. We also had some extra pumpkin on our hands after making Penelope's favorite pumpkin pie. So we decided to take all these things we had in our hands and turn them into pumpkin bread! We found a wonderful recipe for Pumpkin Gingerbread on

3 c. sugar
1 c. vegetable oil
4 eggs
2/3 c water
1 (15 oz) can pumpkin puree
2 tsp ginger
1 tsp allspice
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
3 1/2 c flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder


1. prep: preheat oven to 350. grease two 9x5 loaf pans.
Cal's tip: Count your eggs, sugar and pigs to make sure you have enough before starting.

2. combine sugar, oil, and eggs. beat until smooth.

Cal's tip: This will not look appetizing. Just trust us.

3. add water and beat until well blended

4. stir in pumpkin, ginger, allspice, cinnamon and cloves. The spices are the most important part of this recipe, and should be treated with respect.

5. in a seperate bowl, combine flour, baking powder and soda, and salt. Add dry ingredients to pumpkin mixture and blend until just combined. Divide batter between pans.

Cal's tip: At this point, it will be extremely difficult to resist the smell of this batter. Make sure to restrain your pigs.

7. Bake until a toothpick comes out clean, about an hour.
Cal's tip: Once your loaves are secured in the oven, you can release your pigs and enjoy licking the bowl together.

ta-da! its pumpkin bread!

And it tastes even yummier once its cooked!
We have been eating this loaf for our breakfast for 3 days now and it is still just as delicious as the first day. We highly recommend using your extra time and pumpkins to make this bread.


Sunday, November 29, 2009

Once upon a time there was... Black Forest Cupcakes

Cornelius and I have a friend who really likes Germany - the place, the culture, the food, etc. So for her birthday last year we baked her a very impressive black forest cake, or as she and the Germans would say schwarzwalderkirschtorte. Right, so black forest cake. For her birthday this year, we decided to turn this classic recipe into a cupcake recipe. Well, as it turned out, someone else had already thought of that idea and put it into a book. So, we mostly followed that recipe, but we made a few changes of our own too. Here is our recipe for black forest cupcakes.

1 2/3 c flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2/3 c (preferably Scharffen Berger) cocoa powder
1/2 c unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 c sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 c whole milk
2 tsp + 1 tsp vanilla
1/2 c + 1 Tbsp kirsch
1 c heavy whipping cream
1 c powdered sugar
1 can pitted or maraschino cherries
grated dark chocolate

1. drain cherries (reserve juice for another purpose, Shirley Temples perhaps?). Add 1/2 c. kirsch to cherries jar. Soak at least 1/2 hour to overnight.
Cal's tip: we soaked these overnight. Eating a cherry was like taking a shot of alcohol. So, your choice as to how long you soak them...

2. preheat oven to 350.

3. mix flour, baking powder, salt, and cocoa together.

4. cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each. alternate adding milk and flour mixture. Add vanilla. beat well.

5. fill cupcake papers about 2/3.

6. bake until done, about 25 minutes. cool completely on wire rack.
Cal's tip: it is important that the cupcakes are completely cooled. We made the cakes the night before and came back and did the remaining steps the following day.

7. remove the cupcakes from the wrappers. Cut each one in 1/2 horizontally.
Cal's tip: we recommend using a pairing knife that you let sit in a cup of hot water between uses.

8. Use a pastry brush to brush both sides of the cake lightly with the kirsch from your cherry jar.

9. make the frosting. Whip cream until it forms soft peaks. Add powdered sugar, vanilla, and kirsch. Whip until stiff.

10. Spread some whipped cream on top of the bottom 1/2 of the cupcakes.
Cal's tip: we found it helpful to put our whipped cream in a pastry bag.

11. Cut a cherry in 1/2 and press both halves into the cream.
Cal's tip: be sure to properly ration your cherries!

12. Top with the top 1/2 of the cupcakes.

13. Frost with whipped cream and a cherry. Sprinkle with grated chocolate.

14. Observe the glory of the giant towering cupcake! eat!

Yes, this was truly a fantastic cupcake.


Once upon a time there was... Pasta with Vodka Sauce

Cornelius and I have been very busy this month. We've cooked, we've baked, we've eaten, and we've done it all over again! Now it is time for one of our easy specialties - pasta with vodka sauce. (It should be no surprise that a recipe with vodka is one of our favorites.) We originally found this recipe at and we really like to make it on the weekend because it is great for weekday lunches.

1 lb. penne pasta
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 c. heavy whipping cream
1/4 c. vodka
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
salt and pepper to taste
parmesan cheese


1. Melt butter with oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.

2. Add onions and saute until translucent, about 8 minutes.

3. Add tomatoes and simmer until almost no liquid remains in the pan, about 25 minutes.

4. While the sauce is simmering, cook pasta according to package instructions.

5. Add cream, vodka, and red pepper and boil until thickened, about 2 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

6. Combine with cooked pasta, sprinkle with parmesan cheese, and serve.

And so it is that simple - you just follow the six steps above and you will have yummy hot lunches all week!


Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving! Penelope's Favorite Pumpkin Pie

Happy Thanksgiving Castle Farm Cookbook blog readers!  We have made a delicious pumpkin pie for you.  Well, technically you can't eat this one, but you could make one of your own and eat it, but if we could make this pie for you, we would - and that should count for something.  This is called Penelope's favorite pumpkin pie because it is not Cornelius' favorite pumpkin pie (that is a different recipe, which everyone other than Cornelius thought was inferior to this pie). Cornelius does think it was a close call though, and that this pie is very good too.  This recipe is originally from Martha Stewart, and can be found here.  Our version is better though because we have more pictures and expert notes! For planning purposes, you should know this pie is like a 3 hours process and it also tastes best if you allow it to refrigerate over night to let the flavors sink in.

Tools needed: 9-10 in pie pan, pie weights, parchment paper, cookie cutters, food processor, rolling pin, pigs and cows to help with the tricky parts and with the eating

pie ingredient list
3 eggs + 1 egg yolk
3/4 c + 1 Tbsp heavy cream
1/2 c packed dark brown sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp flour
1 tsp coarse salt
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 15 oz can pumpkin puree
1/2 c pure maple syrup
2 tsp vanilla

crust ingredients 
2 3/4 c regular flour
1 1/2 tsp coarse salt
1 Tbsp sugar
2 1/4 sticks (18 Tbsp) cold unsalted butter, cut into peices
7-10 Tbsp cold water

1. Make the pie crust dough.

a. Pulse flour, salt, and sugar in a food processor.

b. Add butter peices and pulse into coarse crumbs form, about 10 seconds.

b. Put your 10 Tbsp water in a small cup.  With the machine running, add water slowly until dough just holds together and is not wet or sticky, no longer than 30 seconds.
Cornelius' tip: it took closer to the 7 Tbsp for us.  Once we put that much in we let it run another couple seconds and the dough was then formed so that it would go around and around the machine as one chunk.  That means its done.

c. Divide dough into 2 equal parts, shape into a disk, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate 1 hour.   (You can also refrigerate overnight, or even freeze it for a month!)

2. Take measurements.  In this recipe, you will be fitting a beautiful top crust to your pie.  You do not want this crust to be too big or small.  So before you have filled your pan with anything, invert it and trace the circle onto parchment.  Cut it out, pretend it is a lattice pie crust top you have spent lots of time on and adjust to how you would like it to fit.  If you have a lid that fits your pie pan, keep that in mind and make sure it will fit.  Save this parchment piece for later.

3. Prepare pie shell. On a lightly floured surface, roll 1 disk of dough to 1/8 inch thick.  Fit it into your pie pan.  Trim or shape edges to be flush with the rim.  Refrigerate 1 hour.

4. Preheat oven to 375.  Cut a 13-15 inch round of parchment and place on top of the chilled crust.  Fill the crust with pie weights (or dried beans).  Freeze for 10 min.
Cornelius' tip: It is very important that the parchment round be significantly bigger than the bottom of your pie pan.  We found out why:  if you cut it to be the same size it makes removing the pie weights and the parchment very difficult, especially because the pie weights become very hot.  So trust us on this one and cut a big circle.

5. Bake piecrust for 10 min.

Remove weights and parchment and bake another 5 min, until the crust is light brown.  Then, cool on a wire rack.
Cornelius' tip: the pie crust will not be fully cooked at this point.  it is going to get another 45 min + to bake.  It's going to look something like this when it comes out:

6. Meanwhile, start to prepare the lattice top.

a.  Roll out the other disk of dough to 1/8 inch on a lightly floured piece of parchment.  Now remember that carefully measured disk from step 2?  Use that to cut out a circle on the dough with a paring knife.

b. Transfer the parchment and dough circle to an inverted cookie sheet.

c. Use your cookie cutters to cut out desired shapes.  Transfer the cut-outs to another piece of parchment.
Cornelius' tip: We used pie cutters like these ones from Williams-Sonoma.  That way we didnt have to etch the shapes, it does it all at once.

Cornelius' Tip: make sure to space your cut-outs 1 inch apart, and also stay 1/2 inch away from the edge of the circle.  Otherwise the crust will be too fragile and might break.

d. make an eggwash by whisking together 1 egg yolk and 1 Tbsp cream.  Brush the lattice top with the wash.

e.  arrange your cut-out shapes around the edge of the lattice top, but do not let them hang over the edge or they will burn.  Brush these with egg wash as well.

f. refrigerate lattice top for 20 minutes.

7. Bake lattice top until golden, 20-25 minutes.  Tent with foil if the thin parts start to brown too quickly. Cool on wire rack.

8. Reduce heat to 350.

9. Make pie filling.  Combine sugar, flour, salt, and spices in a bowl.  In a different and bigger bowl, whisk together pumpkin, maple syrup, vanilla, eggs, and 3/4 c cream.  Whisk in flour mixture.

us with our maple syrup penguin friend

Cornelius' tip: It looks best to mix pumpkin pie in an orange bowl.

10.  Put the pie crust on a cookie sheet.  Fill with pumpkin mixture.  Bake 40 min (it will be jiggly still) and then remove from oven.

11.  Carefully place lattice top on the pie.  You won't be able to adjust this, so get it right the first time and hope that you measured well!  Bake until all but the center of the pie is set, about 10 minutes.

12.  Cool completely.  Refrigerate.  Wait a day.

13.  Eat with family and friends!

Once again, this is a delicious pie.  We hope you enjoy it and hope that you had a happy thanksgiving!

pig, out.

Monday, November 16, 2009

once upon a time there was... Rice Pilaf

As Cal and I were making this pilaf, we were wondering what a pilaf is... it's kind of a funny word and we're really not sure.  But this rice pilaf was delicious.  We semi-followed a recipe from a cookbook, but as mentioned in the previous post, we were not in a recipe following kind of mood this day.  so we added some of this and that.  And by this and that i think we mostly just mean cinnamon and mint.  oh and coriander. (so this and that and coriander.)   The source is this book we found for $4.99 at TJMaxx.

3 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 cup long grain white rice
14oz can diced tomatoes
pinch of sugar
2.5 c chicken broth
2 Tbsp pine nuts
1 tsp mint
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp coriander
salt and pepper

1. rinse your rice.  you dont want it to get all starchy in this.  also rinse your cows (if applicable).

2. heat oil.  add onion and garlic and cook until softened.

3.  Add the rice and cook for 2-3 min. stir, stir, stir.

4.  Add the tomato (and juices), sugar, broth, and spices. Bring to a boil and then cover and let simmer for 15 min (until the rice is tender and the liquid is gone). Do not stir during the cooking.

5. After this is done, remove from heat and stir in pine nuts.  Then place a kitchen towel over the pan, and the lid back on top. Let it sit there about 10 min to dry out.
Cornelius' note: this was interesting...

ok now its done! you can eat it along with you delicious feta stuffed chicken.

pig, out.