fall

Sexy little dish…

I recently started following a page on Facebook called Cheese Sex Death. It’s basically cheese porn. All manner of cheeses: soft, hard, smelly, earthy are introduced and pairings suggested. It’s pretty brilliant actually, and makes me want to become a certified fromagier and play with cheese all day. (Adding that to the bucket list.) In any event, on CSD, I came across an interesting recipe for a goat cheese dill pasta with acorn squash. These are all things that I enjoy, particularly in the fall, so I picked up a few items & planned to give the recipe a spin when I got home. 

“The best laid plans of mice & men often go awry.” – Robert Burns 

These were not particularly well-laid plans, as I was missing a few of the things I needed for the dish. I did, however, have some butter, wine, and black garlic & was able to whip up a different but equally sexy dish. 

Sexy Little Dish 

(Orecchiette with a Black Garlic Brown Butter White Wine sauce and Roasted Acorn Squash)

Ingredients:

  • 16 oz orecchetiette pasta 
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 4-6 cloves Black Garlic
  • Dry white wine (I used the end of a Sauv Blanc from my fridge.)
  • 4 oz goat cheese (cut into small pieces & softened)
  • 1 acorn squash, peeled & diced 
  • EVOO
  • dill
  • Kosher salt

Instructions: 

Roast the squash: 

  1. Preheat the oven to 400F. 
  2. Peel the acorn squash. Cut it in half & remove the seeds. Cut into evenly- sized cubes. 
  3. Drizzle with EVOO and toss to coat. Sprinkle with a little dill and Kosher salt. 
  4. Roast for about 30 mins until softened & browned. 

While you are making the sauce, cook the pasta according to package directions. I like  orecchetiette for this recipe; the tiny ear-shaped shells are a great vehicle for the creamy sauce. 

Make the sauce:

  1. In a sauté pan, melt the butter over medium heat. 
  2. When butter has melted, add the black garlic. Mash the garlic as it cooks & cook the butter and garlic slowly until it is browned & fragrant, 5-10 mins ​
  3. Pour in the wine (enough to cover the bottom of the pan) and cook on medium high until reduced, 5-10 mins. ​
  4. Whisk in the goat cheese over medium-low heat. Keep whisking until all the goat cheese is worked in and smooth. ​
  5. Combine pasta & sauce & toss with the squash. 
  6. Enjoy a hearty, earthy sexy little dish! 🙂

My Culinary Debut

While I was poking around looking for Turkey Day recipes, specifically bread pudding recipes, I ran across a tasty-looking corn pudding recipe from Ina Garten. This got my wheels turning, and I was reminded of a recipe for Indian pudding that I made many, many moons ago. 

My memories are vague, but I’m sure my mom will fill in some of the details I’m missing once this posts to Facebook. It was a school project, I believe in middle school, possibly with a paper that accompanied it. I remember making the Indian pudding for my class, then getting invited to “present my project” to the school board. I imagine it may have had something to do with the fact that there was food involved with the project. Kind of like when it’s someone’s birthday at the office and you get free cake.  I do remember getting a thank-you note from the superintendent, mentioning that they were surprised that the pudding didn’t contain any pumpkin, since it had that pumpkin-spice flavor. What do you know? I was doing pumpkin-spice before it was cool! #hipster

Indian pudding is a New England recipe, sort of an Americanized version of the British hasty pudding. This version is from The Heritage Cookbook by Better Homes and Gardens. I actually remembered that when I text my mom to ask her about the recipe. I can remember that, but I can’t remember why I walked into my living room. Father Time is a cruel SOB.

Sweet Indian Pudding

serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 3 C milk
  • 1/3 C molasses
  • 1/3 C yellow cornmeal
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1/4 C granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter 
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp Kosher salt

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 300F. 
  2. In a medium saucepan, combine milk and molasses, stir in cornmeal. Cook and stir for about 10 mins, until thickened. Remove from heat.
  3. In a small bowl, combine egg, sugar, butter, ginger, cinnamon and salt.
  4. Gradually stir in hot cornmeal mixture. 
  5. Bake uncovered in a 1 qt casserole at 300 degrees about 1 1/2 hours until pudding is set. 
  6. I find it tastiest when eaten warm, but you can also chill it & top it with some whipped cream. 

Apple Cake Update!!

I stand corrected. The apple cake recipe I published a few weeks ago is similar to, but not the same as my late Aunt Doris’ recipe. It is a dense cake with a sweet apple topping, but this cake is much bigger and will definitely feed a crowd. There’s less oooey-gooey, cinnamony goodness in the topping; although you could make that topping and put it on this cake…

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Without further ado, here’s Aunt Doris’ cake, recipe via my Aunt Helen, Doris’ daughter.

Aunt Doris’ Legendary Apple Cake (the real one)

Ingredients:

For the cake:

  • 3 pounds (about 4) apples, peeled & cut into wedges (I used Fujis since they were on sale.)
  • 1C shortening
  • 1C granulated sugar
  • 1 1/3 C milk
  • 3 C all-purpose flour
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

For the topping:

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • a few sprinkles of cinnamon

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Peel & cut apples into wedges.
  3. Cream shortening & sugar until well combined.
  4. Add milk, egg, & vanilla.
  5. Folk in flour, baking soda, and salt.
  6. Spread in an 11″X17″ pan.
  7. Put apples in the dough, overlapping slightly, and pressing down gently.
  8. Make the topping. Sprinkle the top of the cake with 1 tbsp of granulated sugar, put pats of butter across the top of the cake, then sprinkle with 1 tbsp of sugar & a sprinkle of cinnamon.
  9. Bake at 350F for 30-40 mins or until edges turn golden brown.
  10. Best when served hot!

Cinnamon & Honey Roasted Pepitas

Got a great deal on my Halloween pumpkins this year at Aldi- $2.99 each. Don’t even get me started on Aldi. We have a special love.

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Once we got them hollowed out & carved, it’s time for some roasted pumpkin seeds. Inspired by the chestnuts I recently roasted, I decided to give my pepitas a little twist. Here’s how:

Cinnamon & Honey Roasted Pepitas

Ingredients:

  • pumpkin seeds
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • Kosher salt

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F
  2. Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  3. Put all your pumpkin seeds in a colander and rinse with cool water, making sure any pumpkin guts are removed. Let them dry as you prepare the butter mixture.
  4. In the microwave, heat about 4 tbsp of unsalted butter until melted.
  5. Add the cinnamon & 1 tbsp of the honey. Stir to create a syrupy consistency.
  6. Spread the seeds on the baking sheet in a single layer.
  7. Drizzle the butter mixture over the seeds as evenly as possible.
  8. Sprinkle with Kosher salt to taste.
  9. Bake 30-40 mins or until golden, moving the seeds around 2-3 times during baking for even cooking.
  10. Enjoy while warm, and put any cooled leftovers into airtight containers for later noshing.

What the heck am I going to do with all these CHESTNUTS?!

I recently acquired a large quantity of chestnuts. Don’t ask, I know people.

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Like anyone in my position would do, I immediately took to Pinterest to figure out what the heck to do with them. When I want to know how to properly do prettymuch anything, I always ask Aunt Martha. Not kidding. There’s a homemade plaque in my dining room that reads “WWMD” (What Would Martha Do). Just yesterday I asked Martha how to properly launder a cashmere sweater. Martha knows everything.

So it turns out doing anything with chestnuts is a bit of a process…

Getting your chestnuts ready for roasting…

  1. Using a sharp knife, carefully cut an “X” in the shell of the chestnut, anywhere but on the flat part. This will make it easier for you to peel the chestnuts after they’re roasted, and keep them from exploding during the roasting process. So this is a pretty important step. Put all the cut chestnuts into a large bowl.
safety

PLEASE be super-careful! It is a soft shell, you don’t have to press very hard.

2. Heat enough water to cover the chestnuts in the bowl. I like to use my electric kettle for this step. When the water has boiled, pour it over the nuts & let them stand in the hot water for about 2 minutes. This will make the nuts more tender when they are roasted.

3. After 2 minutes, drain the chestnuts using a colander over the sink.

Roasting the chestnuts…

1. Preheat oven to 425F

2. Line a large baking sheet with foil. Spread the drained chestnuts evenly across the baking sheet, in a single layer.

3. In a small bowl, combine:

  • 8 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 tsp grated nutmeg

4. Pour spiced-butter mixture evenly over the chestnuts.

5. Sprinkle with:

  • 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt

6. Roast chestnuts for about 30 minutes, shaking the pan about halfway through to ensure even cooking. When the nuts are cooked, the shells will curve back exposing the meaty flesh. Your house will smell AMAZING!

*HINT* For easiest peeling, peel the chestnuts while they are still warm. Nosh on a few. They are super-filling! Any leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the freezer.

My Favorite Apple Cake

This recipe is apparently quite old, appearing in both my 1943 & 2006 editions of The Joy of Cooking. My late Aunt Doris used to make this cake for family gatherings, and to date, I don’t believe that anyone in the family has been able to make it taste quite the same as she did.

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Note: this is a dense cake, not a fluffy one, and when you make the batter you will wonder if you have enough to spread across the pan. Trust me, you will. Also, trust that you will want to make two of these cakes, because they will disappear quickly!

Aunt Doris’ Apple Cake

Ingredients:

  • 1 C all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 4 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter (1 1/2 tbsp cold, for the batter, 3 tbsp melted, for the topping)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • about 2 tbsp milk
  • 4 C sliced peeled apples (I prefer to use a slightly sweeter Jonathan rather than a Granny Smith.)
  • 1 C packed brown sugar
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425F. Grease 8″ or 9″ round pan and set aside.
  2. Sift together flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt into a medium bowl. (You will want some room in the bowl for when you work in the butter.)
  3. Using a pastry blender, 2 forks, or best of all your hands, add 1 1/2 tbsp of the butter to the dry ingredients a little at a time. When combined, the mixture should resemble coarse cornmeal.
  4. In a glass measuring cup, combine egg and vanilla. Add milk until mixture is measures 1/2 C.
  5. Stir the egg mixture into the flour/butter mixture to form a stiff dough.
  6. Spread dough into prepared pan evenly using a rubber spatula or your hands. (This is a very hands-on recipe. See what I did there?)
  7. Arrange apples atop the dough in a decorative manner, overlapping them slightly.
  8. Combine brown sugar, cinnamon, and remaining 3 tbsp butter (melted). Sprinkle over fruit and the top of the cake.
  9. Bake for about 25 mins, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  10. Serve warm, with vanilla ice cream, if desired.