Cook’s Corner

Yeast-based pumpkin bread makes pretty wreaths


Sleuth’s Corner

Q. My grandmother, who was from Pennsylvania Dutch country, made a bread pudding with vegetables. Sometimes she’d serve it as a main course and sometimes as a side. Usually it had squash and then whatever she had on hand. I’ve tried making this from memory but something is missing, and there is no recipe like that in the Pennsylvania Dutch cookbooks I’ve checked.

Rosie S. , Hazleton, Pa.


Old-Fashioned Caramel Corn

6 cups popped popcorn (from 1 cup unpopped)

1 cup butter

2 cups packed brown sugar

1 cup water

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons vanilla

Heat oven to 250 degrees. Grease a large baking sheet with a lip.

Pour popped popcorn onto sheet.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Add brown sugar, water and salt. When the mixture begins to bubble, set a timer and boil for 5 minutes without stirring. Remove from heat, add the baking soda and vanilla, and stir until the mixture foams. Pour the mixture over the popcorn in a thin stream, stirring with a wooden spoon to coat.

Bake 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Store up to a month in an airtight container. Makes 20 servings.

Per serving: 156 calories (60 percent from fat), 10.6 g fat (6.1 g saturated, 2.7 g monounsaturated), 24 mg cholesterol, 0.3 g protein, 15.7 g carbohydrate, 0.3 g fiber, 300 mg sodium.


Pumpkin Cider Wreaths

The dough may also be shaped into 2 loaves and baked, after rising, in greased bread pans for about 1 hour at 350 degrees.

2 cups apple cider

1/4 cup butter

1/4 cup real maple syrup

1/2 cup pumpkin puree

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 envelope dry yeast

1 cup whole wheat flour

5 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra as needed

Heat cider, butter, syrup, pumpkin and salt in a saucepan, stirring until butter melts. Allow liquid to cool to about 100 degrees, and sprinkle with yeast. When it has dissolved, gently stir mixture with a wooden spoon.

Transfer mixture to a large mixing bowl. Stir in both flours, a cup at a time. The dough will be thick and sticky.

Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and work in extra flour as needed, until it begins to feel firm and no longer sticks to the board. In all, knead for about 10 minutes. The dough should be elastic, springing back when you apply pressure with your fingers. Place in a greased bowl, turn to coat, cover and let rise for 1 hour.

Divide dough in half, and form 3 pieces from each half (6 total). Roll each piece into a 24-inch rope. On a greased cookie sheet, braid 3 ropes loosely, pinching ends together to make a circle. Repeat with remaining dough. Cover and let rise in warm place until almost doubled, about 40 minutes.

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Bake wreaths 25 to 35 minutes, until golden brown. Cool on racks. Makes 2 wreaths, 12 slices each.

Per slice: 150 calories (14 percent from fat), 2.3 g fat (1.3 g saturated, 0.5 g monounsaturated), 5 mg cholesterol, 3.5 g protein, 29 g carbohydrate, 1.4 g fiber, 69 mg sodium.

Main Dish

Baked Empanadas

Goya and other companies make frozen dough rounds specifically for empanadas, which may be substituted.

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves

3.5 ounces Spanish-style chorizo, finely chopped

1/2 onion, finely chopped

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/4 cup pimiento-stuffed manzanilla olives, chopped

1/4 cup raisins

1 cup chicken broth

11.6-ounce package frozen puff pastry dough for turnovers, thawed

All-purpose flour, for rolling out dough

1 egg, lightly beaten with 1 teaspoon water

Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken; cook until golden brown on both sides, about 8 minutes; transfer to plate.

Add chorizo, onions, garlic and paprika to skillet. Cook, stirring, until chorizo is warmed through and onions are soft, about 4 minutes. Add olives, raisins and broth; bring to boil. Add chicken, cover skillet, and reduce heat to low. Simmer, covered, until chicken is cooked through, about 20 minutes; remove from heat.

When cool enough to handle, transfer chicken to cutting board and shred; return to skillet. Cook over medium heat until sauce coats chicken, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate, covered, until cold.

Heat oven to 425 degrees. On a lightly floured surface, roll out pastry round until about 1/2 larger in diameter. Spoon heaping tablespoons of cooled chicken mixture onto middle of dough. Moisten edges with beaten egg and fold to form half-moon. Press edges and twist to seal; transfer to greased baking sheet. Repeat to make 12 empanadas. Brush tops with beaten egg.

Bake until empanadas are golden brown and filling is hot, about 20 minutes, rotating pan after 10 minutes. Makes 12 empanadas.

Per empanada: 246 calories (54 percent from fat), 14.7 g fat (3.5 g saturated, 7.5 g monounsaturated), 48 mg cholesterol, 12.7 g protein, 15.7 g carbohydrate, 0.8 g fiber, 282 mg sodium.

Elizabetta Garcia asked for a pumpkin bread recipe with yeast that she remembers shaping into a wreath.

“I’ve never shaped this (other than to make a loaf), but it’s delicious,” wrote Arlene Goldberg of Miami. “I think it came from an ad in a magazine.”

I loved the simple goodness of this bread, which makes a good dinner or sandwich bread. For a holiday morning treat I’d add cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice along with chopped apples or raisins or walnuts.

Thanks also to Beverly Ellis of Athens., Ga., who recommends the pumpkin yeast bread in The New York Times Heritage Cookbook by Jean Hewitt (1972) and B.B. of Wilmington, N.C., who provided the wreath-shaping instructions with a recipe she brought home from a church potluck.

Q. Can you get me a recipe for caramel corn without peanuts? I’d like to make this and send it as a Halloween treat for my grandson, who is allergic to nuts.

Jane K. , Surfside

The recipe here is from Classic Candy by Abigail Gehring (Skyhorse, $14.95), a fun book of intriguing recipes for treats that are rarely made from scratch anymore, such as taffy, gumdrops, candy corn and rock candy. Another plus: many recipes don’t require special equipment or expertise.

To make the caramel corn recipe, for example, you don’t need a candy thermometer or a working knowledge of sugar-syrup cooking stages. The caramel corn is great to mail away as it stays fresh in an airtight container — and is so light it requires less postage than cookies!

‘Mi Plato’

Goya has joined the My Plate initiative — the USDA’s tool to help Americans make healthier food choices — by expanding its low-sodium, fat-free and sugar-free products and reworking traditional recipes on its website,, where you will also find a downloadable cookbook.

In the empanada recipe here, the dough has no trans fats, the empanadas are baked rather than fried, and chicken is substituted for beef or pork. These make a nice alternative to the usual sandwich in school lunches.

Morrison’s Eggplant

Olie Goad asked if anyone knew how Morrison’s made its fried eggplant. James H. Lee of St. Augustine, who retired after 29 years at Morrison’s, says it was coated with a batter using self-rising flour and a hefty dose of paprika — 2 tablespoons paprika to 2 cups flour — and was deep-fried till golden.

Send questions and responses to or Food, The Miami Herald, 3511 NW 91st Ave., Doral, FL 33172. Replies cannot be guaranteed.

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