Sunday, October 20, 2013

Crazy Ingredients Challenge October: Pumpkin Tortillas & Pumpkin Salad Dressing

I know that pumpkin signals fall and cool weather for Americans. For me, however, pumpkin reminds me of the pot of soup that was always cooking on a Saturday in my mother's kitchen in Jamaica. I think it's safe to say that a large percentage of Jamaicans drink (drank?) soup on Saturdays - all year round. Most of those soups also had pumpkin. If I was helping my mother in the kitchen, it would be my job to dice the pumpkin for the soup.

On Sundays, it was my job to make the coleslaw. Each time I go home, I slip seamlessly back into my role as coleslaw maker. Except for the last time. You see, for most persons, carrots, if used, are just an accent in coleslaw. I LOVE carrots so I made them more than just a background player. My mother and brother did not share my view. It's not like I served them a carrot slaw and they had to hunt for the cabbage. It's not like it didn't taste good either. They just preferred their coleslaw with a different cabbage to carrot ratio.

For this month's Crazy Ingredients Challenge, I resisted the urge to make dessert and decided to satisfy an odd vegetable craving with a simple salad topped with  spicy pumpkin dressing served on pumpkin tortillas. You will notice that in the ingredients, I list each item without measurements. This is because I believe that the proportions in a salad should really be a personal choice.  Maybe you are like my mother and brother and don't love carrots as much as I do. Maybe you want the red cabbage to shine. Or perhaps, you are partial to broccoli. Toss your favourites in your preferred proportions together. But do not, I repeat, do not skip the dressing. In fact, be prepared to eat it with a spoon.

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SPICY PUMPKIN DRESSING                                               
Recipe by:    Kelster
Yield: ~ 1 cup
½ cup pureed pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling/mix)
2 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon minced garlic
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon sugar
Blend all ingredients together. Refrigerate.
This tastes better if it’s allowed to sit for at least an hour before using.

PUMPKIN TORTILLAS                                                      
Recipe by:    Kelster
Yield:  8
2 cups flour (all purpose, whole wheat, or a mix)
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
½ cup pureed pumpkin
¼ cup to ½ cup warm water
Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Drizzle in vegetable oil.  Blend pumpkin with  ¼ cup of warm water. Add to flour mixture. Knead for two minutes to form a soft dough drizzling additional water by the teaspoon as needed.
Cove dough and allow to rest for 20 minutes. After dough has rested, divide into 8 equal pieces and roll each piece into a ball. Let these balls rest for 10 minutes.
Heat a skillet on medium-high.
Roll each ball out into a thin 8 inch circle.  Cook each tortilla for about thirty seconds on each side.

JUST THE WAY YOU LIKE IT SALAD                                   
Recipe by:    Kelster
Red cabbage
Chopped chicken
Shred broccoli, carrots and cabbage and toss together in a bowl. Top with chicken and raisins. Spoon dressing over salad just before serving.  
If you really want some guidelines on how much to use,  just let me know.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

World Bread Day 2013 - Jamaican Coco Bread

World Bread Day 2013 - 8th edition! Bake loaf of bread on October 16 and blog about it! I've been thinking about home (Jamaica) a lot lately. Now more than ever, my actions, my cooking, my everything have included more than a touch of home. When I saw that World Bread Day was coming up, I knew that I had to make either Jamaican Hard Dough Bread or Coco Bread. I went with Coco Bread this time because it evokes the most pleasant memories. Quick trips to one of the bakeries down the road from my house. Biting into the freshly baked coco bread and savouring that melted butter that seemed to ooze out of the bread.

Every bakery in Jamaica makes Coco Bread a little different. Most use MUCH less butter than the bakeries near my house. In fact, I knew persons who would make special trips to my little town just for that extremely buttery Coco bread. My version here isn't quite as buttery but it's still delicious. I'll keep working at this recipe and I think that one day, I will make coco bread worthy of my hometown.

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Jamaican Coco Bread
Recipe by:    Kelster
Yield: 8 - 10
2 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast*
½ cup warm water*
2 tablespoons sugar
4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons oil
¾ cup warm milk (or additional water)
¾ cup butter, softened

*Follow manufacturer’s directions for proofing yeast using some of the water at the specified temperature. (For example, my yeast (Red Star) allows you to add the yeast to the ingredients and warm liquids to 120 F. Other brands state that you add the yeast and sugar to water that’s heated to 110 F.)

Combine yeast, sugar, flour, salt and oil in a large bowl.  Add all of the warm milk and mix. Slowly add the remaining warm water. You want a dough that is tacky but not sticky.  Add more water 1 teaspoon at a time, if necessary.

Knead for 4 minutes. Form dough into a ball and place in an oiled bowl. Cover and allow to bulk ferment for 1 hour or until dough has doubled.

Divide dough into 8 – 10 pieces. Working quickly, roll each piece out into an approximately 6” x 6” square.  Spread approximately 1 tablespoon of butter over the dough avoiding the edges. Fold in half. Place on ungreased sheet pans.

Allow to proof, covered for 30 minutes.

After you have finished rolling and buttering the dough, preheat the oven to 350 F. Once the dough is puffy, bake for 18 minutes.

Melt the remaining butter and brush over coco bread as soon as it is out of the oven.

Serve warm.

Notes Coco Bread is often served with a Jamaican patty. The bread is opened at the split and the patty placed in the middle. Patty recipe soon!