Fall Archive

Monday, November 24, 2014

cranberry pie with thick pecan crumble

cranberry pie with thick pecan crumble

Cranberries are, for me, one of the best things about late fall and they show up right in time, just as all of the other colors disappear. The ginkgo trees, always one of the last November holdouts, simultaneously ejected their green/yellow leaves last week and ever since, pretty much everything outside is looking rather… greige, but not like the charming shade of the boots I want. And then, out of nowhere, perfect red berries appear and things look up.

basically the prettiest november thing
cranberries, sugar and orange zest

I love cranberries the way I do sour cherries in June, except cranberries are easier to come by (here, at least), keep longer, cost less, have less of a blink-and-you-missed-them season and freeze seemingly indefinitely perfectly. I think it would be chromatically impossible to find a more stunning shade of red than the one they collapse into when cooked. Yet taste-wise, I know they scare people because they’re aggressively tart and sour — they could make your average Eureka lemon seem like a wimp.

single-crust pie

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Thursday, November 20, 2014

crispy sweet potato roast

crispy sweet potato roast

I have a complicated relationship with sweet potatoes. I think they’re one of these wonder vegetables — impossible to mess up cooking, pretty consistently delicious whether you buy them freshly-dug from the farmers market or from a grocery chain, aglow with vitamins A and C and chock full of fiber. [Which I mostly think about because I’m the mother of a sweet potato junkie.] I like them in cake, sweet biscuits and pie. I like them with goat cheese and a light vinaigrette, gratin-ed with a tangle of chard, with a strange-but-addictive mix of spices and roasted in wedges, and one-bowl-meal-ed with roasted broccoli, black rice and miso sauce. But I also have all sorts of quibbles with them. They’re never crispy enough. They’re rarely savory enough — basically, if you get within 10 feet of my savory sweet potato dish with cinnamon, I go into hiding. For me, the louder the contrast between their sweet, soft nature, the happier I am eating them.

sweet potatoes everywhere
peeling

Which means that it was only a matter of time before I took this pretty-pretty crispy potato roast from the archives and tried to put a Thanksgiving spin on it. The ta-da factor is strong here and the workload manageable. You thinly slice a whole lot of sweet potatoes and arrange them in a butter and olive oil-brushed dish, and brush them with even more. You can slide slivers of shallots between the sweet potato pages. You’ll want to shower the whole thing with salt and black pepper or red pepper flakes. You bake it with foil on long enough that the insides get tender and without foil long enough to get the tops brown and crispy. This is not your standard holiday sweet potato mash.

you'll have a lot

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Monday, November 17, 2014

classic pumpkin pie with pecan praline sauce

classic pumpkin pie with pecan praline sauce

Given that finishing off the month November without a single slice of pumpkin pie is, for me, practically a crime against the season, it’s rather sad that this 8-plus year old site has only a single iteration of it, that it’s from 6 years ago, and not even the one I make on an annual basis. The 2008 recipe hailed from Cook’s Illustrated, those clever chefs that always push the envelope, this time in the name of the silkiest pumpkin pie they could come up with. It involved canned yams. It required a fine-mesh strainer. Three whole eggs and two yolks. It was lovely, but if you’re someone who actually adores the classic taste of pumpkin pie above all else, it probably didn’t fill the pumpkin pie void in your life.

one-bowl pie crust: go! cut the butter into the flour, sugar and salt
bring the dough together with your hands always make 2 doughs, even if you just need one

This, I hope, will. I’m not terribly revolutionary in my go-to pumpkin pie but I also don’t think the Thanksgiving demands it. I’ve said this before, but I don’t think we travel by buses, trains, cars and planes, often during inclement weather and even more brutal traffic because we’re secretly hoping our family ditched the known-and-loved standards — yes, even the green bean casserole with crispy onions — for an edgy new recipe someone found in a fancy food magazine this year.

spices, old and new

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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

squash toasts with ricotta and cider vinegar

squash toasts with ricotta and cider vinegar

Lest you operate under the idea that when I go in the kitchen to work on a new recipe, adorable forest creatures gather around, bringing me my whisks and measuring cups, tiny birds whisper in my ear all the right seasoning notes and then, when I snap my last photo, my team of minions file silently in to wash the dishes while I go out on the deck to ponder my next free-form food essay, the single, completely unexciting reason I am late to share a new recipe this week is because I was chasing an exasperating salted peanut butter caramel-flavored ghost. Five rounds in, I have concluded that while there are no bad salted peanut butter caramels, the one I want isn’t yet within my grasp and it was time to take a break. One cannot live on peanut butter, cream, butter and brown sugar alone, after all, fun as it was for a few days there.

what you'll need + a new non-crooked label for me
peeling the squash

And so I shifted focus to the kind of simple dinner I’d love to eat before or after Friday’s candy deluge, a seasonal, cozy and hearty entry in one of my favorite food categories: meals masquerading as toasts. But don’t be deceived by the name; these are no simple, wan crostini. A winter squash of your choice is roasted in the oven while on the stove, you cook an onion with cider vinegar and maple syrup until it’s soft and jammy. You use a fork to half-mash this tangy confit together with the roasted squash, a pile it on bread you’ve toasted in olive oil and spread with ricotta or soft goat cheese. Don’t forget the mint on top; it makes something already good unquestionably perfect.

sliced squash

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Monday, October 13, 2014

fall-toush salad

fall-toush salad with delicata and brussels

This probably makes no sense. The classic Levantine fattoush salad that I’ve mercilessly punned upon is the epitome of summer: tomatoes, cucumbers, scallions, mint, parsley, garlic and lemon with pita chips that both do and do not soak up the dressing, in the best of ways. It’s bright, crunchy and the absolutely ideal thing to eat on a hot day. But at least on this coast, we’re done with beach days for a while. We’re done (or were supposed to be before today’s confusion) with open-toed shoes, permanently open windows, and going out without a jacket and not regretting it. The tomatoes are waning, the heavy orange vegetables and dark leafy greens are creeping in.

what you'll need + a bunch of things I forgot to take out
trimmed and halved brussels

A fall-toush salad is like your summer fattoush put on a thick sweater over a plaid shirt and went on a hay ride drinking hot apple cider and came back mooning over how the forest floor is like a giant mural. A fall-toush salad keeps the brighter parts of the summer version — the lemon, the scallions (well, I forgot them, but you shouldn’t), parsley, mint, garlic and pita chips — but stirs them over warm roasted squash and brussels sprouts. A fall-toush salad accepts that it’s going to be cold out for the foreseeable future and that your salads must adjust accordingly, even yours truly cannot.

pretty easy to remove delicata seeds

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