Sophie Minkoff’s Spiced Pumpkin Bread

In Florida we don’t have much of a Fall – the leaves don’t change color and the weather is still pretty warm; the only thing that feels different to us Floridians during the Autumn season is the presence of harvest time flavors.  Be it a pumpkin spice latte or a butternut squash soup, these seasonal eats are what make this time of year special.

While thumbing through the pages of the New York Cookbook, I landed on Sophie Minkoff’s Spiced Pumpkin Bread, which Nana wrote to be “Incredible!”

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I gathered all of my ingredients together. . .

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Boiled the raisins.

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Whisked together my wet ingredients.

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Combined my flour, baking soda, and spices.

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Then I mixed the pumpkin mixture into the flour, which created a very thick batter!

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Once the flour and pumpkin mixtures were well incorporated, I stirred in the boiled raisins.

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Warning, this batter smells absolutely delightful!  I could not wait to get this into a loaf pan and baked!

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Friends, if you like pumpkin – this is an absolute winner.  Not only do I agree with Nana’s incredible rating, but I can also understand why the original author of the recipe won first place at the Harvest Fair in NY.  This bread, especially warm out of the oven, is moist, flavorful, and comforting.

Here’s the recipe if you’re looking to recreate this at home:

1 cup raisins

2 large eggs

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 cup unsweetened pumpkin puree

2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cups of sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup coarsely chipped walnuts * (I omitted these as I did not have any on hand)

1.) Preheat the oven to 350 F.  Grease a 9 X 5 X 3 1/2 inch loaf pan

2.) Combine the raisins and 1/3 cup water in a saucepan.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Removed from the heat, and set aside to cool.

3.) Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, oil, and 1/4 cup water.  Add the pumpkin puree and stir to combine.

4.) In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, an salt.  Stir the pumpkin mixture into the dry ingredients.  Stir in the undrained raisins and walnuts.

5.) Transfer the batter to the prepared loaf pan.  Bake until a wooden skewer or toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 1 to 1 1/4 hours (mine took about 67 minutes).  Cool on a wire rack.

Did you make this recipe at home?  Tell me how it came out in the comments below!

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Tommaso’s Penne With Zucchini

It was tough to choose which cookbook I should start with, but I ended up picking Molly O’Neil’s New York Cookbook. Heavily creased and overflowing with post-it note bookmarks, I had a good vibe about this publication.

I was a little strapped for time today, as I worked till five – and Peter (my husband) had to leave for a rehearsal by 7:30, so I opted for a simple pasta dish.

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According to Nana, this dish was so delicious – so I couldn’t wait to try it! I stopped at the grocery store on my way home from work, and then it was time to get cooking!

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(Sorry about the sticker on the tomato, I don’t know why I didn’t notice it before – but I was a little pressed for time!)

The first thing I did was to peel a clove of garlic, smash it, and then sauté it in some olive oil until golden.

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While the oil was infusing, I started boiling my pasts, minced my onion, julienned the zucchini, chopped the tomatoes, and prepped the prosciutto. Everything was coming along nicely, and the aroma in the kitchen was intoxicating.

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Once the sauce was complete and the pasta was boiled, I tossed them together and topped with cheese.

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All in all, this was a really great dish; delicious, just like Nana said. A flavorful sauce that came together in a matter of minutes using fresh produce, and with a hefty serving of vegetables. The red pepper flakes added a subtle zing and the prosciutto gave it a nice dimension of flavor (though next time I think i will add a bit more than what the recipe called for). The only other addition I would make is adding some minced garlic into the equation (the recipe has you discarding the smashed clove)

Peter gave this recipe a solid B+, and agreed that this can definitely be a repeat item in our household (providing I add more garlic!)

If you’re looking to try this at home, here’s the original recipe as published:

1 clove garlic, peeled and smashed
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, minced
1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
1/4 cup minced thinly sliced prosciutto
3 zucchini, scrubbed and cut into julienne
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 pound penne
1/4 cup minced fresh Italian (flat-leaf parsley)
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves, torn
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup freshly grated pecorino cheese

1. Warm the garlic in the oil in a nonreactive large sauté pan over medium heat until the garlic is golden, 5 minutes. Remove and discard. Add the onion and pepper flakes and cook until the onion is soft, 7 minutes. Add the prosciutto and zucchini, partly cover the pan, and cook until barely soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and cover the pan. Reduce the heat to very low.
2. Boil the penne in plenty of well salted water until tender; drain.
3. Meanwhile, add the butter, parsley, basil, salt, and pepper to the sauce and stir well.
4. Place the sauce in a large pasta bowl. Add the penne and toss. Add the pecorino cheese and additional salt-and-pepper to taste and serve.

Serves 4.

If you made this recipe, leave a comment and tell me what you thought!