Fall

Getting Carried Away with Butternut Squash Muffins

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by Susan Russo

squashmuffinsThe other day at the market, a woman approached me and said, "Excuse me, but may I ask you a question?"

"Sure."

"What do you do with that?" she asked, and pointed to the huge pile of squash in my carriage.

"The acorn squash?"

"No. That one."

"Oh, you mean the spaghetti squash." (No one ever knows what to do with spaghetti squash.)

"No, no. I know how to cook spaghetti squash. I meant that one," she said, and pointed to the only other squash in my carriage.

"You mean the butternut squash?" I asked, incredulous.

"Yeah. I never know what to do with them," she said.

I was shocked. To me, butternut squash is like your best friend. It's always there when you need it; it's dependable and rarely disappoints; it gets along well with others and is happy to try new things.

Grab-and-Go Sweet Pumpkin Turnovers

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by Sue Doeden

PumpkinPastiesMove over apple turnovers. Here comes pumpkin.

Begin with a can of pure pumpkin puree, and it’s amazing how some sugar and spice can make everything nice. Pie crust helps out, too.

Grab-and-Go Sweet Pumpkin Turnovers are a little bit cookie and little bit pie. When refrigerated pie crust is sprinkled with chopped walnuts and cut into rounds, then mounded with a filling that will remind you of pumpkin pie, it’s hard to know what it should be called. Most certainly, it is a turnover.

The use of refrigerated pie crust speeds up the process of creating these turnovers. Pressing chopped walnuts into the dough adds crunchy texture and gives the pastry a homemade flair.

When the turnovers are eaten on the day they are baked, your teeth will crack through a crunchy topping of cinnamon and sugar. Once the turnovers have been stored in an airtight container, that crunchy shell will become melt-in-the-mouth soft. Either way, they are delicious.

Apple Tarte Tatin

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by Joseph Erdos

appletarteThere are plenty of reasons to enjoy apples this season. For me it's because they make the best desserts. With apples so plentiful at farmers' markets and supermarkets this time of year, I love to make tarts. There's just something special about an apple tart particularly apple tarte Tatin, one of the most classic of the French tarts. It's a dessert that can be called both comforting and elegant. Supposedly, as the story goes, the Tatin sisters invented the dessert by accident while attempting to make an apple tart to serve their hotel guests. The dish became so popular that its fame spread throughout the Sologne region. It's now known throughout the world. It seems that the best things are almost always invented accidentally.

Traditionally tarte Tatin starts out by melting butter in a skillet and adding sugar to make a caramel. Then apple quarters are added and cooked until tender. A round of pastry dough tops the apples and the whole skillet is placed in the oven. In my adaptation, I use brown sugar for its fullness of flavor, and add a pinch of cinnamon and a dash of brandy for that extra bit of goodness. Instead of cooking the apples in the caramel, which either tends to overcook them or burn the caramel, I just place the apples in the pan, cover with pastry, and bake. Serve a slice warm with a dollop of crème fraîche or a scoop of vanilla ice cream and it's the perfect dessert after a cozy dinner or any time when the caving hits.

Sweet Potato and SweeTango Apple Soup

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by Cathy Pollak

Sweet-Potato-and-SweeTango-Apple-Soup-cupsLet me start by saying, my family is kind of into apples. There is rarely a time I go to the grocery store and don't have to replenish our stash of this amazing superfruit. It's so nice to have a snack everyone loves, is low in calories and full of vitamin C. A perfect in-between meals nibble as far as I'm concerned.

Because of this "apple love" we have going on, I was excited when SweeTango contacted me and asked if I would be interested in trying their apples. Honestly I had never heard of the SweeTango variety and was curious to taste it. That same day I was at the market and what did you know, SweeTango apples were available in my grocery store. How could I have missed these large and beautifully colored apples. Needless to say, I grabbed a bunch and went home to enjoy them.

SweeTango apples are a cross between the Honeycrisp and Zestar! varieties. It is a crisp, juicy, vibrant apple with a taste all its own. For me, it has the perfect snap when bitten and my whole family loved them. They even abandoned their old-standbys to enjoy this new-to-them apple.

Despite its looks, don't chintz on the quince

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by Russ Parsons

quinceAt first glance — and even, quite frankly, after extended contemplation — there is little to hint that the quince is one of the most delicious of fall's fruits. It is rough-hewn and blocky in appearance, like someone's first woodworking project gone horribly wrong. And should you make the mistake of taking a bite of it raw, that's kind of how it tastes too.

But you know about judging things on first impressions. Take that same quince, give it a little careful tending and you'll find a fruit that is utterly transformed. Cook quince — slowly and gently, bathed in just a little bit of sugar syrup — and the flesh that was once wooden and tannic turns a lovely rose hue, with a silky texture and a subtly sweet, spicy flavor that recalls apples and pears baked with cinnamon and clove.

The traditional way to cook a quince is by poaching it in spiced simple syrup. That's easy enough, but I've come to favor a slightly different technique from my old friend Deborah Madison's cookbook "Seasonal Fruit Desserts." She bakes them in a syrup made partly with white wine and spiced with cinnamon, clove and cardamom along with tangerine or orange zest.

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An Easy 30 Minute Meal

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by David Latt

ArugulasaladavocadoWhen you're pressed for time, the last thing most people want to do is cook. Coming home after a hard day at the office or dealing with kids and errands, the kitchen can seem unwelcoming.

You're hungry. It's dark outside. The house is cold. You open the freezer and stare at the frozen dinner you bought two months ago but never nuked. A can of chicken noodle soup in the pantry holds the promise of a warm meal but a quick read of the label tells you that the salt content is high enough to brine a Thanksgiving turkey.

Your mind tries to convince you that you aren't all that hungry. Maybe all you really want is a glass of wine and a bowl of dry cereal.

But you are hungry and you'd feel a lot better if you had a home cooked meal.

The truth is all it takes is a little planning and a couple of easy-to-make recipes and you'll actually look forward to coming home and cooking dinner. Ok, maybe that's a little Pollyannaish, but you get the idea.

Carrot Spiked Mashed Potatoes

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by James Moore

carrotmashedpotatoesAlthough they’re often a favorite side dish staple, sometimes mashed potatoes need a little inspiration.

Root vegetables make a perfect addition to potatoes, and I particularly like the sweet flavor of carrots in this recipe, but parsnips, rutabagas, turnips, and celery root will work just as well.

Yukon Gold potatoes are a great choice because of their rich, creamy flavor. It’s important to rinse the potatoes well to remove excess starch, which can make the mixture gluey.

Squash Soup

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by Megan Martin

squashsoupThere is magic in these fields we have - the kind of magic that store bought soil or fertilizer cannot bring about. It's a magic that I can only be a part of in the smallest of ways and then the rest is up to the sun, moon and stars. When we moved here, there were scrubby weeds that had grown taller than my husbands face and not an ounce of decent soil existed beneath them, but as the rains have given us grass, the cows have provided rich manure and so the circle of restoring our land began.

During the process of turning weeds and waste into true fertile soil, we've had the suprise of volunteer squash vines growing in great numbers. I'm completely humbled by the massive plant with it's very own intentions and whether or not I am there to trellis the tendrils or support it's fruit, the squash lives on through sun and storms.

Tip toeing amongst the mound of vigorous vines, I fall so in love with the eagerness of life that surrounds us. Everywhere I turn, life is happening in a way that is supported by a chain of different species. We all depend so greatly on eachother to grow.

All About Winter Squash

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by Russ Parsons

roastedsquashNever mind the name, these sweet, nutty squash are harvested in the fall. They are called "winter" because their hard shells allow them to be stored for extended periods, and in the days before refrigeration, that was a quality more worth honoring than mere harvest seasonality. The earliest winter squash are just beginning to trickle into the market -- kabocha, butternut and acorn, mostly.

When they’re first picked, they can be a little short on flavor. But after a week or two that changes, particularly for squash such as butternut and kabocha. These benefit from a couple of weeks of "curing" after being harvested, which allows time for enzymes to convert some of their starch into sugar.  Acorns are from another family and do not require curing. They're better bets this early in the season.

How to choose: Look for squash with deep, saturated colors and no soft spots or cracks. The stem should be hard and corky too.

How to store: Keep winter squash in a cool, dark place. You don't need to refrigerate them.

How to prepare: Here's a recipe for happiness during the coming rainy season: Hack off a chunk of winter squash and remove the seeds; place it cut-side down in a pan with just a little water, and roast it at 400 degrees until the whole thing collapses into a sweet, fragrant, slightly caramelized puree.

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Chunky Apple Snack Cake

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by Cathy Pollak

chunky-apple-snack-cakeThis cake. It was my Dad's favorite. He had a Fall birthday and this is the dessert my Mom made him every year for his office celebration. It was also the batter my Mom could barely keep us kids away from....it was so good, even before it was baked. This was back in the day when no one cared about eating raw cake batter.

This is one of those delicious, moist cakes I crave and love eating every, single time. It has such great memories for me. I can still see my Dad getting down the special crystal tray my Mom used to send with the cake. It was on a high shelf above the stove she could not reach. The platter wasn't anything expensive, just the best one she had. A bowl of real whipped cream was also packed up and served with each slice, trust me you don't want to forget the whipped cream.

My Mom acquired this recipe from a woman she used to work with over fifty years ago in downtown Los Angeles. Beyond that we have no idea where it originated from. I just know I love it. Just like my Dad.

 

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