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pumpkin chocolate chip muffins by Nate Everett

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Autumn would be incomplete without feasting on my favorite baked good of the season: pumpkin chocolate chip muffins. Warm dollops of sugary goodness.

A note, when the muffins have finished baking, check for doneness by plunging a toothpick into one of the muffins. There is a very good chance that your toothpick will pierce a melty chocolate chip instead of the batter, thus you will likely need to test several areas of a muffin to check if the batter has baked completely. If the toothpick comes out clean, then they are done baking; if the toothpick is coated with batter, then bake the muffins for a few minutes more.

Yields two dozen muffins. Feeds four.

recipe

  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

  • 2 cups sugar

  • 1 tbsp ground ginger

  • 1 tbsp cinnamon

  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg

  • 1/4 tsp allspice

  • 2 tsp baking soda

  • 1/2 tsp baking powder

  • 1/2 tsp salt

  • 4 large eggs

  • 1 pound plain pumpkin puree

  • 2 sticks butter, melted & cooled to room temperature

  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

  1. Place an oven rack in the middle part of the oven and preheat to 375°F. Line two muffin pans with baking cups.

  2. Measure out the dry ingredients and put them in a large mixing bowl. Whisk together until combined.

  3. Melt the butter in a saucepan or the microwave. Allow to cool to room temperature before proceeding.

  4. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs until homogenized.

  5. Add the butter, eggs, and pumpkin puree to the dry ingredients. Stir together thoroughly until the ingredients are well-combined, then fold in the chocolate chips.

  6. Scoop the batter into the baking cups. Fill each cup to the brim. 

  7. Put the muffin pans in the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes at 375°F. See note above about checking for doneness. When the muffins have finished baking, allow them to cool for 15 minutes before unmolding onto a baking rack.

If you make this recipe, hashtag a pic to #spiceandhutch and post to Instagram, Facebook and/or Twitter. I'd love to see your culinary creations!

jalapeno, chorizo & gruyere quiche by Nate Everett

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Quiche is a beast. Mastering the quiche conundrum takes practice: collapsing tart shells, overcooked yolks, and gummy pastry dough are among the obstacles that you may encounter along the way. But, in my mind, a cooking or baking debacle is an exciting opportunity to draw on lessons learned to create a beautiful final product. After a few practice runs, I pulled a flaky, slightly golden tart shell out of the oven, filled it with a Spanish-inspired jalapeno and chorizo and gruyere mixture, and popped it back in the oven for a final round of heat. The results were scrumptious! 

Julia Child mastered the art of pastry dough a long time ago, and the tart shell recipe in this post comes from Julia's legendary The Way to Cook. Note that she recommends rolling out the dough onto a chilled French marble pastry slab. I couldn't agree more. The marble slab (a worthy investment - and it doubles as cheese board!) keeps the butter from warming which gives you more a malleable pastry dough. 

recipe

for the tart shell:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup bleached cake flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 6 ounces chilled unsalted butter, diced
  • 1/4 cup chilled vegetable shortening
  • 1/2 cup ice water

for the filling:

  • 2 chorizo sausage links, casings removed
  • 1/2 cup minced white onion
  • 2 tsp finely-chopped sage leaves 
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 3 large brown eggs
  • 1 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup freshly-grated gruyere cheese
  • 1 jalapeno, sliced into thin rounds
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. Combine the flour and salt and diced butter in a food processor. Pulse about 5-7 times.
  2. Add the vegetable shortening. Turn on the food processor and with the motor running, add the 1/2 cup of water right away, then turn it off. The butter and shortening should look like small peas by now. Pulse 2-3 more times if necessary to break up the butter into pea-sized clumps. Be sure you don't overmix!
  3. Transfer the pastry dough to a lightly floured work surface. Working quickly, form the dough into a rough ball and then slice it in half with a butter knife. Form each portion of dough into a flat disk. Wrap each disk tightly in plastic wrap and put them in a Ziplock bag. Refrigerate for a minimum of two hours.
  4. To form the tart shell, quickly roll out one of the chilled disks on a lightly floured pastry marble or work surface. The dough should about about two inches larger than the diameter of your quiche pan.
  5. Use a pastry cutter to loosen the dough from your work surface, then drape it over the quiche pan. Gently press the dough onto the bottom and sides of the quiche pan, ensuring it has a solid rim standing half an inch higher than the top of the pan.
  6. Trim any excess dough that may be hanging over the sides of the pan. Use it to patch up the tart shell, if needed. Then, using a fork, prick the bottom of the tart shell until it is speckled with small holes.
  7. Now, to make sure the tart shell maintains its structural integrity during the prebake, you'll need to weigh it down. Tear off a sheet of aluminum foil and fold it into a square (it should be a few inches larger than the circumference of the quiche pan). Butter one side of the foil and place it in the tart shell, butter-side down, then fill it with dried kidney beans (this is called a foil pouch).
  8. Adjust oven rack to middle part of oven and preheat to 450°. Bake the tart shell for 15 minutes, then remove the pouch and bake for several minutes longer until the shell has achieved a pale golden hue. Transfer to a wire rack to allow the shell to cool for 15 minutes before adding the filling.
  9. Preheat the oven to 375°.
  10. To make the quiche filling, melt the butter in a nonstick skillet over medium heat and add the onions. Cook until the onions are fragrant and translucent, about 3 minutes, then add the chorizo. Break it up into small chunks with a wood spoon and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Stirring frequently, cook the meat until it has lost its pink hue and remove from heat. Add the sage and mix together.
  11. Blend together the eggs and heavy cream and season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Sprinkle the pre-baked tart shell with the cheese; pour in the egg mixture; and then sprinkle with the chorizo bits and add the sliced jalapeno.
  12. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the crust has browned and the filling wobbles slightly when you shake the quiche pan. Baking time will vary depending on factors like altitude and the temperature of your kitchen, so start checking after 20 minutes. If the crust hasn't browned at the 30-minute mark, then continue baking in 5-minute intervals until you've achieved that result. 

If you make this recipe, hashtag a pic to #spiceandhutch and post to Instagram, Facebook and/or Twitter. I'd love to see your culinary creations!