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I am most certainly not taking any credit for this laughingly simple technique that impresses both in flavor, texture, and looks. My version coats a whole head of cauliflower in canola oil, and seasons it with smoked salt and freshly ground black pepper. Roast until crispy and dark brown on the outside, and tender inside. Serve a wedge over a smooth squash puree* (in this instance, kabocha) and garnish with a bright, fresh gremolata.

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*I went all indulgent with butter and cream, but feel free to omit for a vegan version.

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After making burrata with corn and tomatoes, I just couldn’t throw away the corn cobs without squeezing every sweet drop of summer from them. Since I only had a few, I couldn’t make enough corn stock to be worthwhile for soup. Using the same technique, however, I was able to produce enough sweet corny liquid to create a simple syrup for cocktails.

Place corn cobs in a pot and add enough water to cover. Bring to boil, reduce to simmer, and cook to extract flavor, about 30-45 minutes. Strain, and combine however much corn stock you have with equal parts sugar (ex.: 1 cup stock requires 1 cup sugar).

Use anywhere you would use standard simple syrup. For me, whisky was a natural partner, so I combined 3 parts of the spirit with 1 part corn simple syrup and topped it with club soda. A great cocktail to help transition into fall.

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In order for a salad to achieve entree status, it must be exciting, varied in texture, and include higher calorie ingredients to keep me sated (think meat, cheese, nuts, avocado…). This salad is colorful, crunchy, and doesn’t skimp on flavor.

2 hearts of romaine, torn into bite-size pieces
1 head radicchio, thin slice
1 15-oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 roasted red peppers, thin slice
4 oz salami, medium dice
10 oz croutons (homemade from stale bread will make this dish extra-special, but store-bought is just fine in a pinch. I used whole wheat focaccia to make homemade croutons)
2 oz pecorino, shaved
Vinaigrette of your choice (lemon or red wine vinaigrette is particularly well suited for this salad)

1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and toss to coat.

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This past weekend was the first of football season, and–I can’t believe I’m about to type this–I am so excited for its arrival. In the past few years, I have increasingly looked forward to doing just about nothing on Sundays. These days give me an opportunity to cook (and usually drink) all day; it is on this day I experiment with new dishes, or test popular ones I’ve made in seasons past.

One of these recipes is Rice Krispies Treats. I usually keep them traditional, but top them with a spiced chocolate ganache for something a bit more refined. To kickoff the season, this time I stirred in speculoos spread–a flavor that hints at the impending end of summer and transition to the cooler months. So as I prepare to say goodbye to tomatoes, mai tais, and the faint tan I actually achieved this year, I seek solace in Football Sundays.

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Makes 12-15 pieces

4 Tbsp butter
1 10-oz bag mini marshmallows
2/3 speculoos spread
pinch kosher salt
6 cups Rice Krispies or puffed rice cereal
3 Tbsp millet, toasted

1. In a large pot, melt butter and add marshmallows.
2. Once marshmallows are melted, stir in speculoos spread and salt.
3. Add cereal and millet and stir until evenly coated with speculoos mixture.
4. Pour into a 13 x 9 x 2-inch greased pan and press down evenly.
5. Let sit for at least 2 hours before cutting.

Notes: Of course this is delicious–they’re Rice Krispies Treats, for crying out loud. Speculoos was subtle but prominent enough to make them special. Next time: more millet!

For some reason–perhaps it’s the pronounciation–I’ve always shied away from making clafoutis. A recent trip to my local farmers’ market compelled me to purchase cape gooseberries, and figured they would be a great stand-in for traditional cherries in this French dessert. The berries are sweet and tart, with a lingering, almost nagging, tomato flavor.

I used this recipe from John Besh via Epicurious. The only thing I did differently was add a pint of cape gooseberries.

Straight from the oven, the clafoutis is beautiful: puffed like a souffle and a gentle golden brown. In the time it took me to swiftly bring it to the front door for a close-up, it was dead-on-arrival. How did it taste? Kind of like a big, thick crepe, or a sweet, dense pancake. Not bad, but I feel this could use some tweaking in the future, especially since it lends itself to fruits of all seasons. Either way, it was a nice little project that came together quickly and satisfied our inevitable nighttime dessert binge. Next time, this will serve as breakfast in lieu of French toast.

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Bold without being “in your face”, this winter salad takes advantage of raw shaved Brussels sprouts, which gives crunch and a mild cabbage flavor. Crispy potatoes add another layer of texture, and cheddar cheese lends a pleasant tang. The whole thing is drizzled with a bright honey mustard dressing, bringing all the flavors together.

1 pound fingerling potatoes, halved
1/4 cup plus 1 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
1 apple
Juice of 1 lemon
6 oz pecans, roughly chopped
5 oz extra-sharp cheddar cheese, small dice
1 Tbsp whole-grain mustard
1 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp honey
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

1. Preheat oven to 425 F.
2. Toss potatoes with 1 Tbsp. olive oil, salt, and black pepper. Spread out on a sheet pan and roast for 30 minutes, or until dark golden brown and crisp. Transfer to a large bowl.
3. Thinly slice the brussels sprouts and add to the bowl.
4. Thinly slice the apple and then cut into matchsticks. Toss with lemon juice and add to the bowl.
5. Add pecans and cheese to the bowl.
6. Whisk together the mustards, honey, and vinegar. Slowly whisk in 1/4 cup olive oil until emulsified.
7. Drizzle honey mustard vinaigrette over the salad and toss to combine.

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1 medium butternut squash, peeled, deseeded, and thinly sliced into 1/4-inch slices
1 Tbsp olive oil
Kosher salt and black pepper
4 sprigs fresh sage
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 quart whole milk
1 clove garlic, crushed
Pinch nutmeg
Pinch cayenne
1 15-oz container part-skim ricotta
5 oz frozen spinach, thawed and drained
1 box no-boil lasagna noodles
1 lb part-skim mozzarella cheese, grated

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
2. To make the squash: Gently toss the butternut squash slices with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Scatter 3 sprigs of sage on top of the squash and roast for 15-20 minutes, or until caramelized.
3. To make the roux: In a saucepan over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Add the flour to the pan and stir constantly for about 1 minute. Slowly add the milk to the roux, whisking constantly to avoid lumps. Add the garlic and remaining sprig of sage and cook over low heat, whisking often to prevent scorching. After 15 minutes, remove from the heat and discard garlic and sage. Season the bechamel with salt, pepper, nutmeg, and cayenne.
4. To make the ricotta: Combine ricotta with spinach. Season with salt and pepper.
5. Pour 1/4 of the bechamel into the bottom of a greased pan and spread to cover the bottom (I used an 8″ x 10″ aluminum pan, but whatever you make lasagna or baked ziti in will work).
6. Place noodles over the bechamel, breaking them apart as needed to fill in all gaps.
7. Top noodles evenly with the ricotta mixture.
8. Scatter 1/4 of the mozzarella on top of the ricotta.
9. Repeat the layers: bechamel, noodles, ricotta, and mozzarella. Mozzarella should be the final layer.
10. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes-1 hour. Remove foil and bake for another 15-20 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.

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Note: needs more bechamel. Adjust quantity for this recipe in the future.