Fall Archive

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

butternut squash salad with farro and pepitas

butternut salad with farro and pepitas

This was my lunch last week. I know that it may look less like lunch and more like penance, some apology for eating too many squares of salted-caramel-glazed fanned-apples-atop-1000-layers-of-buttery-pastry. I realize that most people think that when you start serving them bowls hearty grains and roasted squash that you might have an ulterior motive, like their thighs. I understand that most people don’t believe me when I say this, but it doesn’t make it any less true: I don’t eat food because it’s good for me; I eat it because I like it. And this was one of the most delicious lunch salads I’ve ever made.

long cooked farro
peeling the squash, which looks like a peanut

Herein lies my approach to grain salads: I like whatever vegetables I’m using in the salad to be the bulk of it, and the grains to be the accent, like a crouton. When you make grain salad this way, you get to appreciate the its texture, and not just lament that it’s not plush as a mound of fine couscous, something you’d hardly notice eating. This, however, does not mean that they’re to be crouton-free; all salads need punch and crunch, and here, it comes from toasted, salted pepitas (though any nut will do), crumbled ricotta salata (though any salty, crumbly cheese will do) and minced red onion that I pickled at the last minute in sherry vinegar.

cubing up the butternut squash

Continued after the jump »

Friday, October 19, 2012

apple mosaic tart with salted caramel

apple mosaic tart with salted caramel

My husband likes to joke that every other comment on this site in the month of October is, “Help! I went apple picking and I brought home 20 pounds of apples and I don’t know how to use them up!” It’s not true, of course; it’s every five or six comments. We mostly have a giggle about it because we didn’t know how one could go to an apple grove and not realize that 20 pounds of apples is an impossible amount to munch your way through, no matter how enthusiastic of an apple-eater you might be. Furthermore, seeing as quite often, only one apple type is ripe at a time, you’re not likely even bringing a mix home that might sustain your interest from apple to apple, ad inifinitum. So, you know where this is going. Guys, we went apple picking last weekend and I brought home almost 15 pounds of apples! What do I do with them?

we went apple picking. send help.
peeled, cored, plus one for a toddler

I am kidding, mostly. I have a few ideas for them. The first 6 pounds went to the largest batch of applesauce, ever, half of which is in the freezer for my resident Applesauce Junkie. The next few pounds were munched on, happily. A few pounds are on the table in a bowl, though I think Ramona Quimby must have snuck in because I keep noticing single, tiny bites taken out of each (because the first bite is the tastiest). Next, well, this happened. And once this happens, I think you’re going to be glad you have a bunch of pounds of apples left, because this is the kind of stuff that calls for a repeat performance.

slicing the apples real thin

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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

pancetta, white bean and chard pot pies

pancetta, white bean and chard pot pies

For the last month or so, my cookbook had been on a boat, an image which delighted me to no end. I pictured it heading to a dock at the edge of a continent, like Arya at the end of Book 3 of Game of Thrones, and hoping that someone would give it passage. I imagined it splashing through waters rough and calm on a long journey, like the one depicted in Lost and Found. And then I imagined it arriving at the shipping docks, unloaded by the likes of handsome Nick Sobotka in Season 2 of The Wire (er, hopefully under happier circumstances), its container being fitted to trucks or rail cars and heading to a warehouse where it would tap its feet impatiently until October 30th arrived and it could finally come out and see you.

And now you know the truth: the inside of my head mostly looks like pages from picture books and scenes from HBO. I don’t know how I hid it so long.

pretty, pretty rainbow chard
pancetta, chard and bean pot pie prep

The first printing did indeed arrive at a warehouse in Maryland last week, but lest you think authorship has any privileges, I have seen but three copies of the book, one that I was allowed to hold briefly on QVC, one that was quickly snatched up by my parents, and a third one disappeared at my husband’s office for a while. The good news is, nobody hates it. The bad news is, people are kind of mad at me. “When did you make this and why didn’t we get any?” they ask and oh man, scrambling for answers is getting uncomfortable. My husband asked me this about a vegetarian taco dish that the babysitter and I completely inhaled the second I got the photo I needed, and decided to keep this information to ourselves. (Soo busted.) There’s a potato salad I didn’t share at all, just tucked away in the fridge and had for lunch for a perfect few days. (I’m not sorry.) And the giant pancake? Well, it’s not my fault that the toddler was too smart to share it all eight times I made it for him for breakfast.

under the pot pie lid, a hearty fall stew

Continued after the jump »

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

chicken noodle soup

baby, (all of the sudden) it's cold outside

There are about as many recipes for chicken noodle soup as there are people who enjoy it, which is everyone. Well, everyone but me. I understand that announcing that one does not like chicken noodle soup is tantamount to saying that one dislikes comfort, thick sweaters on brisk fall days, well-padded shoes for long walks and sips of tea from a steamy mug. I get this. But in my defense, I am not the one who broke it.

getting started
browning the onions, wisp of steam

I cannot take responsibility for delis that keep a batch of soup at a low simmer 24/7, until the noodles are gummy and the bits of chicken taste like death itself. I find it depressing that few recipes on the first three pages of Google results for chicken noodle soup image that one might want to make it from scratch, that an “old fashioned chicken noodle soup” recipe on one of the largest food websites out there has you begin with eight cans of low-sodium chicken stock. I am equally suspicious of chicken soups that have you cook the chicken to a point beyond repair and then discard the meat, because my inner Depression-era granny (frankly, outer, too, on days where I don my aforementioned thick cardigan and padded shoes) would fall over at the thought that people cook a chicken only not eat it, and therefore, maybe so should we. I am uninspired by soups that have you cook the chicken so briskly in the name of saving it for later leaving just a pale, weak broth behind. And with this, what happened is what always happens when I attempt to explain in great detail why I have no love for a certain dish: I ended up making it anyway.

not bad for a 40 minute chicken broth

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Friday, October 5, 2012

pumpkin cinnamon rolls

pumpkin cinnamon rolls

Something kind of terrifying is going on around here, and it started in the back of the closet. I found shoes there, old shoes, shoes that did not fit. They had to go. Thus far, this is the snoring-est horror story yet, but wait, the discontent simmers: Half the closet followed, all of the plastic hangers that drove me batty were replaced with nonslip ones, sweaters were color-sorted, dresses were arranged by season and my husband’s closet is on notice too.

pumpkin rolls, let's do this
it's the most wonderful time of the year

It gets worse: What began as a vague declaration that “this coffee table needs to be replaced” turned into an entire living room overhaul, from a fresh paint job to a new sofa, chairs, and yes, tables too. The throw pillows are looking nervous, as well they should. The kitchen cabinets got purged and everything that remained went into airtight glass jars. With labels. It’s like Aunt Pinterest came to town in there. Lest you think my three year-old has escaped my high straightenance bender, I bought every single pair of his pants in two sizes this fall, in case he goes on another wild growth spurt right around the time the universe runs out of pants; I picked up his Halloween costume on Labor Day weekend, and then, the shelves in his room just didn’t feel right to me and it turned out they were missing colorful baskets to hold his toys.

mixing and mixing in new glass bowl

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