The Mailbox: Teri Watson

Published: Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 7D

Flat-out seeking recipes

I'm looking for different recipes for halibut.

I love this fish, but would like new ideas to prepare it besides grilling.

Thanks for any help.

– Gina Yancey, Sacramento


Mmm, sweet potato pie

Years ago, my husband and I had dinner at a friend's home and the wife made the best sweet potato pie. It was similar to pumpkin but had a slightly different taste. It was not dense, but more on the light side.

I still think about this pie. Does anyone have a recipe for sweet potato pie?

– Connie Padula, Rialto


Pumpkin ale cupcakes with cream cheese frosting and streusel

Prep time: 35 minutes

Cook time: 30 minutes

Makes 24 cupcakes

Maude Hodo of Natomas saw a recipe in The Bee recently which called for pumpkin ale. Hodo wanted to know what it was and where she could find it.

There are many varieties of pumpkin ale, or beer. Most brewers use real pumpkin, chunked or puréed, for best results. Some just use pumpkin flavoring.

Roasting the pumpkin first converts some of the pumpkin's starch so sugars can be extracted, enhancing the flavor of the ale. Pumpkin ales are usually mild, not bitter, and spiced with cinnamon, cloves, ginger and nutmeg.

Many breweries make pumpkin beer or ale. Some include Buffalo Bill's, Kennebunkport Brewing Co., Blue Moon Brewing Co., Shipyard Brewing Co., Sam Adams and Weyerbacher Brewing.

Several markets carry pumpkin ale, including Raley's and Bel Air, Cost Plus World Market, Whole Foods and Trader Joe's.

It is best to call your market before you shop to make sure it is in stock. This is a seasonal item and most markets get one shipment; once they run out they won't be getting more.

Today's Mailbox features two recipes that call for pumpkin ale.

This recipe comes from Snappy Gourmet, at snappygourmet.com.

Note: The cook time for cupcakes overlaps the cook time for streusel.

INGREDIENTS

Cake:

One 18.25-ounce box yellow cake mix

1 cup canned pumpkin

3/4 cup pumpkin ale

2 eggs

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Streusel:

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

1/4 cup brown sugar or granulated sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

Frosting:

Two 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

4 cups powdered sugar

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 muffin pans with paper liners. Add cake mix to large mixing bowl. Add pumpkin, beer, eggs and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. Stir until just combined. Spoon batter evenly into prepared pans.

Bake cupcakes for 19 to 23 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into middle comes out clean. Cool completely.

Meanwhile, prepare streusel by mixing together flour, nuts, brown sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon in small bowl. Cut in 6 tablespoons butter with pastry blender or knives until mixture is crumbly. Spread out on a large baking sheet that has been lined with parchment paper or aluminum foil.

Bake the streusel at 350 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so, or until it reaches desired crunchiness. Cool completely.

For frosting, beat together cream cheese and 1/2 cup butter with electric mixer on medium speed until well- combined. Beat in vanilla. Slowly beat in powdered sugar until desired sweetness and consistency.

To assemble, frost cooled cupcakes and top with streusel crumbles. Store cupcakes in refrigerator but let sit at room temperature a few minutes before serving for best results.

Per cupcake: 354 cal.; 4 g pro.; 46 g carb.; 17 g fat (9 sat., 5 monounsat., 8 polyunsat.); 55 mg chol.; 213 mg sod.; 1 g fiber; 44 percent calories from fat.


Pumpkin ale bread

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 55 minutes

Serves 10

Here is another recipe using pumpkin ale. Even though it calls for brown sugar, this bread is not sweet. This is a great autumn bread to serve with stew, chili and hearty soups.

INGREDIENTS:

3 cups self-rising flour

3 tablespoons brown sugar

12 ounces pumpkin ale, room temperature

INSTRUCTIONS:

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients with a wooden spoon. Spray a metal pie pan with nonstick spray and place batter in pie pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 55 minutes. While bread is still warm, spread top of loaf with butter, if desired.

Per serving: 171 cal.; 4 g pro.; 35 g carb.; trace fat; 0 mg chol.; 3 mg sod.; 1 g fiber; 2 percent calories from fat.


HOW TO CONTACT THE MAILBOX

If you have recipes in reply to Mailbox reader requests, or questions or comments, write to: Mailbox, c/o Taste, The Sacramento Bee, P.O. Box 15779, Sacramento, CA 95852. You also can email twatson@sacbee.com or fax (916) 556-5625. Please include your full name, your city and phone number.

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