October, 2010 Archive

Saturday, October 30, 2010

buckeyes

half-dipped

Once upon a time, when I was probably no older than in grade school and sadly, not a whole lot shorter than I am today, a friend of a friend of my mother’s presented her with a bag of peanut butter and chocolate candies that my mother and I, chocolate and peanut butter fiends, went ballistic over. Here in this plastic bag (that we kept in the freezer, a history of hiding foods I have no self-control around in the freezer long predates this site) were all of the awesomeness of Reese’s peanut butter cups but, a) larger and b) homemade. We had to have the recipe.

the goods
butter, peanut butter, cream cheese

No, we really had to have the recipe. We asked. We might have begged a little. But we were shut down, because this friend of a friend was writing a cookbook, and needed to save the recipe for future publication. Now, I don’t think my mother is especially one to hold grudges, but I tell you, it’s probably been more than 20 years since then and I mentioned chocolate peanut butter balls to my mother this week and she said, flatly, “I am still waiting for that cookbook.” You could say it’s kind of a running joke.

i want (peanut butter) candy

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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

spicy squash salad with lentils and goat cheese

squash salad with lentils and goat cheese

Odds are, this week is full of sugar for you. Chewy sugar, hard shiny sugar, sugar molded into candy corn, fluffed into marshmallows, coating adorable little popsicles of cake, wound with brown butter around grains of puffed rice and that doesn’t even include the peanut butter cups you’ll pilfer from your kid’s trick-or-treat bucket this weekend followed by the sweet slide from Thanksgiving’s marshmallow-topped sweet potatoes and December’s minty candy canes.

black lentils, soaking
bucheron

I, for one, could really go for a salad right now. I’ve been roasting a lot of squash and sweet potatoes lately, usually for the half-toothed member of our family and one day, I was looking to turn it into more of a fall salad and I stumbled upon a recipe from Bon Appetit. I nixed the arugula because the stuff I found at the market was spotty, and anyway, (gripe alert!) I like challenging myself to make salads that don’t hinge on leaves that are only in season a very small fraction of the times of the year people insist you should eat them. (End gripe.) I used a butternut squash instead of a pumpkin because they seem to roast up in cubes better, and also because they’re a much easier shape for my little sherpa to hold in his lap (and only occasionally gnaw on) as we head home from the market. I added toasted butternut squash seeds because I love some crunch with my salads and do hope you know they toast up almost as delightfully as pumpkin seeds. Finally, I used black lentils because that’s what I had in my pantry and what’s prettier in the last week of October than a black and orange medley?

butternut peelings

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Monday, October 25, 2010

spiced applesauce cake

to share with the baby

If there is anything as magnificent as October in New York City, well, I don’t believe you. The trees I didn’t know we had deposit rust-colored leaves all over the sidewalks, the sky is impossibly blue, the air drinkably crisp and suddenly, you can walk for miles and never feel overheated or spent. It leads to a lot of trips to the market. Even when we don’t need anything, we just make up excuses to go, like just to get a tiny apple for our 13 month-old anti-New Yorker who smiles at and chats (“Ga-ga! Gaga!”*) willingly with strangers who pass him on the sidewalk and if that hasn’t charmed you yet, imagine this same child clutching a handful of flowers the eggplant lady at the market gave him to give to his mama. Seriously, guys, New York City is sweet in the fall.

batter
cake belly

And without fail, this is my favorite month to cook, the one in which every recipe that crosses my path delights me more than the one before. Remember last week, when I was all “these scones are October on a parchment-lined baking sheet”? I was lying. Turns out, this is. Well, in a buttered square cake pan. It’s one of these cakes you should make just because you can. Just because there’s nothing not to love about a kitchen filled with the scent of freshly baked spiced cake. Or because you’re probably drowning in apples and applesauce from your apple-picking excursions and are out of ideas for them. Or because you’ve never met an application for cream cheese frosting that you couldn’t love.

beaters

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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

cauliflower and parmesan cake

cauliflower cake

I used to make a lot of quiches and savory tarts. I still think they’re one of the food Greats; a delicious, buttery crust and almost any filling you can think of. With a salad of mixed greens and some crisp-tender green beans with flaky salt, I’m not sure I’ve ever needed anything else to fill out a meal. Oh wait, a glass of wine. Now that there is some Deb Meal Bliss.

cauliflower head
boiling

But as you know, things shift. They change. Suddenly, I’m feeding three mouths instead of two and I’m kind of hoping for leftovers and those delicate little tarts don’t stretch as far as I want them to. I want heft. I’m pretty at peace with not rolling out a pastry crust on a harried Monday afternoon.

cooking the red onion and rosemary

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Friday, October 15, 2010

apple and cheddar scones

apple and cheddar scones

This is pretty much October on a parchment-lined baking sheet. They want to be packed in a basket so they can go apple picking with you and to sneak in the car to join you for a leaf-peeping drive. They want to come to brunch with you and deserve to be served with warm apple cider, whether getting lost in a corn maze or searching for the best pumpkin to carve.

countertop
peeled
partially roasted apples

Have we spoken this week? If we have, I’ve probably gone on and on about them, about how I never really was into that whole apple-cheddar thing but these, these changed things. They’re absolutely fantastic. They’re from The Perfect Finish, which is a dessert cookbook by Bill Yosses, who is now the executive pastry chef at The White House (but not when he wrote this) and Melissa Clark, who I suspect you’re already quite fond of. When I first saw the recipe, I rejected it as fussy for making you roast apples (in one-sixteenths!) just to let a stand mixer bang them up. I snorted over how chefs always like to boast that their recipes are “fairly simple” for home cooks but then use weights measured to the one hundredth of a gram, fooling nobody.

sifted

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