Growing up, grilled cheese sandwiches meant orange-rimmed, melted slices of Muenster cheese hugged tightly between two slices of buttered white bread. This comfort food classic is a childhood favorite and cemented Muenster as my cheese of choice.
Unfortunately, I have yet to find Muenster cheese at a local farmer’s market or though the Philadelphia Winter Harvest buying club. What I have found is celeriac, or celery root, a funky root vegetable with little physical resemblance to the familiar and graceful celery stalk. But beauty is only skin-deep, and like the creepy kohlrabi that I experimented with last winter, it’s uses are plentiful and its flavor mild, warm, comforting – perfect for cold, snowy weather, no stranger to the Philadelphia region this month.
This past weekend, J and I celebrated our one year anniversary. Boy, how time flies.
We made it a point to go back to the place where we married, an old golf resort in the Pocono Mountains — a Dirty Dancing meets The Shining ambiance, perfect for a weekend getaway with 130 of our closest friends and family. We also made it a point (okay, maybe my insatiable sweet tooth made it a point) to go back to the bakery that created our delicious red velvet and chocolate-chip layered wedding cake; we left the morning after our wedding without the customary top to freeze. Our valiant effort to salvage good luck bestowed 6 vanilla cupcakes. Sweet nostalgia.
The Sunday we returned home was a day spent cheering for our fantasy football players and toying in the kitchen. While it was a relatively warm day in Philadelphia, I couldn’t help but turn on the oven to bake something wholesome for the upcoming work week. To be fair, the “Pumpkin” in the title of this recipe is somewhat deceptive; I used the sweet kabocha squash, also known as the Japanese pumpkin, to create this simple and healthy muffin. When I uncovered the squash from my Landisdale Farm CSA share, I refrained myself from carving a frightening face into its flesh and sitting it out on our front door step. Doesn’t it look like the perfect pumpkin?
Don’t play with your food. While this may be a common directive for many families at the dinner table, it doesn’t always apply to kitchen creatives determined to make baked goods both healthy and satisfying. Myself, included.
Earlier this year, Serious Eats posted an article comparing applesauce and non-fat yogurt in place of oil in boxed brownie mixes. In this head-to-head competition, yogurt created a “rich and velvety” taste and texture that rendered it the winner. The lactic acid in yogurt tenderizes the flour and helps keep baked goods moist and light, while cutting fat and calories. Continue reading