Anatomy of a Dinner Party: a day in the life of a hospitalityaholic

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Carrot Curd and Pumpkin Bread

Tuesday, October 6th, 2009

Ahhh, the chill in the air, the leaves falling, unpacking the sweaters and the Uggs.  I love Autumn.  The turn of the season from the hot days of Summer bring the cool, orange and brown days of Fall.  This means heartier cooking, substantial dishes from your kitchen that will stick to your ribs. Yesterday was like that.

I was craving the first loaf of pumpkin bread this season so I went to the cupboard and wrangled all the ingredients for one perfect loaf.  It was silky, lush and dense.  Sound good? Here’s the recipe, Darlings:

Perfect Pumpkin Bread


1.5 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 can pumpkin puree
1/2 cup of olive oil
2 eggs
1/2 tsp each of nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger (or more if you like it really spicy, like me)

Preheat oven to 350F

  1. Mix wet ingredients and spices
  2. Mix dry ingredients in separate bowl
  3. Combine wet and dry ingredients
  4. Pour into greased loaf pan
  5. Bake for 60 minutes

Voila! You’ve got a snack the entire family will love!

I’ll take a few better pictures of that today.  I get so excited by the finished product that sometimes I forget to take the photos. Color me chagrinned, but happy.

I had another treat yesterday in the form of friend and neighbor Curtis asking to stop by for some culinary advice. But of course!  Curtis is a great cook and had challenged a co-worker to a cake-off. The contest – Curtis bet he could beat her best cake recipe.  Her best cake recipe – Carrot Cake. Curtis has been searching online for recipes and every one he read said he needed to put in crushed pineapple, which, when discussing said contest at a recently attended dinner party,  Curtis was asked by a food writer if he was going to use crushed pineapple, which she found to be abhorrent.  Luckily, none of my cookbooks referred to using any pineapple, which was a relief.  But just baking a plain old carrot cake isn’t enough for Curtis. He’s a pioneer, a risk taker.  He wanted to stretch the boundaries of the imagination.  We started brainstorming and came up with the idea of making carrot curd. Now, I have never even heard of carrot curd, but we googled it and Curtis found a recipe that seemed more savory than sweet. So we decided to riff on my lemon curd recipe and see what happened.  Here’s how it went down:

First, the proper ingredients.  I try to keep my kitchen well stocked so I can bake or cook something at a moment’s notice.

Lemon curd uses zest and lemon juice for its zing. How to do that with the carrots? Curtis thought it would be good to shred the carrot, squeeze the juice and then toast the shredded carrot for extra flavor. Great idea.  I thought it would be cool to use dark brown sugar instead of white for added depth. Another great idea. This afternoon was the kitchen equivalent of musicians jamming together – it was a creative meeting of culinary minds and it was coming together like smooth jazz.

Here’s Curtis toasting the carrot:

The recipe for all you seekers of the unsual:

Carrot Curd

7 large eggs yolks, plus 2 large eggs
1 cup, plus 2 TBSP dark brown sugar
2/3 cup carrot juice (or 1/3 cup carrot juice, 1/3 cup orange juice)
1 large grated carrot
1/2 stick butter, cut into 4 pieces
3 tablespoons heavy cream
Pinch of salt

In a medium non-reactive bowl, whish together the yolks and whole eggs until until combined
Add sugar and whisk until combined
Add juices, carrot and a pinch of salt, whisk until combined
Transfer mixture to a medium non-reactive saucepan, add the butter pieces and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the curd thickens to a thin sauce-like consistency
Immediately pour through a sieve, that is place over a large bowl. Stir in heavy cream.  Jar and refrigerate immediately.

How was it? Luscious, delectible, crazy tasty.  Like Autumn on a spoon.  We spooned some over slices of pumpkin bread and all you could hear was silence. Our mouths were full.  My mama raised me not to talk with a mouth full of pumpkin bread spread with carrot curd….some might fall out!

Some more pics for you:

Thanks, Curtis, for coming up with this fabulous idea. You are welcome in my kitchen anytime.

The rest of you – step out of the box and try something that seems undoable. I know you can do it!

xoxo, Patti

Odds and Ends

Thursday, October 1st, 2009

This weather makes me want to cook and blog. Yesterday was particularly busy. Two requests to meet for lunch next week. One lunch date will be with Tami at Running With Tweezers and the other will be with Denise Jackson, a totally fab art dealer. The week’s lunches will start Monday with my dear friend Holly and her sister, Aimee, who is in town for the U2 concert. Busy calendar! I also received a request to borrow my crockpot by a friend who is feeding a crowd that will be helping to clean up our neighborhood on Saturday. The other request came from my friend Dawn, who was looking for a recipe she and her sweet daughter could make for the bake sale at school. I suggested Pumpkin Bread. Dawn agreed that would fit the bill.

Also, I picked up a boodle of apples on our way out of Sky Valley last week and you have got to see the size of these babies – they are gigantic! Look at this one next to a regular apple.

They will be featured in tonight’s dessert – blueberry (also from our trip) and apple crisp. Don’t you love a fruit crisp? All fruity and streusely, hot from the oven, topped with vanilla ice cream? I swear, my tummy just rumbled as I was typing.

And you, dear reader, will have all the deets by tomorrow.

Happy Thursday!

xoxo, Patti