The older I get (and by the way, I’m still young) the more I gravitate towards easier recipes that are full of flavor. When I first graduated from culinary school, the more complicated the better. If there was a fancy 7-layer meringue cake elegantly interleaved with thick buttercream topped with candied orange slices dipped in chocolate and covered with toasted coconut, deal me in. Mine never quite looked like the photo on the cover of Bon Appetit, but I was always game.
My new-found confidence partly stemmed from a better understanding of WHY a dish worked out the way it did, and equally important, why it DIDN’T. And partly, frankly, I was so relieved to have survived culinary school with girls much younger than I, run by-let’s just say-a very exacting chef-owner, that I wanted to strut my stuff. But mostly I felt everyone’s expectations had suddenly been raised. No longer could I just bring cheese and crackers to a potluck. No, now it better be cheese and crackers I had made from scratch, along with a loaf of freshly baked bread using the leftover whey from the cheese making.
But recently, I’ve relaxed. I want something I can pull together in 30 minutes or less with the minimum of fuss. Which brings me to the wonderful blog I had fun living with this month, Chocolate and Chillies. And yes, it’s Secret Recipe Club time again. For the uninitiated, we’re a group of around 100 food bloggers, separated into four smaller blogging groups. Every month, we’re each assigned a blog in our group to look through. We try a few recipes and chose one to post about. But all month long, we keep our assignment a secret until ‘reveal day’. It’s been a lot of fun – and I’ve found some great new blogs to follow and new recipes to add to my rotation.
From the photography to the dishes, there’s so much to love on Asiya’s beautiful blog, and I found lots of recipes I plan to try over the next few seasons. As soon as zucchini are back in season, her Sautéed Shredded Zucchini are at the top of my must-make list. It’s such a simple recipe and I can tell already it’s going to be a favorite. Asiya even makes focaccia look easy to make, and I’m looking forward to making her Focaccia with Onion over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. But the next recipe I’m making from her blog is Masoor Ki Daal. I love anything lentil anything, and it’s right up my alley.
But first I had to make this wonderful little quick bread. Asiya has it as a Cranberry Loaf, and that’s how I meant to make it. But at the last minute, as I pulled ingredients out of the refrigerator to make it, I spied the remains of a can of pumpkin I really needed to use up. So this became a Pumpkin Cranberry Loaf, but I’m sure it’s wonderful without the pumpkin too. Oh, and I threw up a bunch of chocolate chips just because. All I can say is my husband couldn’t believe it when it was all gone, and looked everywhere in the refrigerator for a last piece as a snack. Truthfully, it disappeared in 3 days, and only the two of us were eating it.
I’m making it again over Thanksgiving, but I think I’ll double it next time around and freeze one to have on hand for emergencies.
- Adapted from Chocolate and Chilies and Dairy Goodness
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- ½ cup packed brown sugar (or make your own)
- ¼ cup coconut sugar
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp Kosher salt
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1½ cups buttermilk
- 1 cup canned pumpkin
- ½ cup coconut oil
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- ½ cup dried cranberries
- ½ cup chocolate chips
- Preheat over to 350˚ F.
- Butter a 9" X 5" inch loaf pan, line with parchment paper, and butter the parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugars, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, pumpkin, coconut oil, and vanilla extract. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the eggs and buttermilk liquid. Using a rubber spatula, stir the wet and dry ingredients together until the flour mixture is completely incorporated into the liquid.
- Gently fold in the the dried cranberries and chocolate chips. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 65-75 minutes or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, and remove to continue cooling on a wire rack.