Fall

Apple Crisp Bars

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by Susan Salzman

applecrispI had a vegetable drawer filled with fuji apples that had seen better days.  They were not fit to eat for my mid morning snack.  It’s rare that I clean out my vegetable bin and throw things away.  I always try and “re purpose” neglected veggies and fruit and turn them into something delicious.

These apples were no different.  I need to turn them into something yummy and a crostata wasn’t going to cut it (my usual go to dessert when I have too much of one thing on hand).  A few weeks back I had given away a copy of The Fearless Baker on this blog post and I really wanted to bake a few more things from the book. I remembered reading about her Apple Crisp Bars and earmarked the page.  I grabbed the book and started collecting ingredients.  I already have a favorite crust for fruit type bars as well as a streusel topping.  I did, however, make her apple filling and it was good enough to eat with a spoon, all on it’s own.

I brought these to a casual lunch and both men and women devoured them.  The kids topped the ends and the leftovers with vanilla bean ice cream and said it was hands down better than any apple dessert they had ever tasted.  This gets my vote as well!

Apple Kuchen In Disguise

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by Sue Doeden

apple-kuchen-1024x682German grandmothers mixing up sweet yeast dough to form coffee cakes filled with fresh fruit of the season and rich, creamy custard made with real cream have been passing along the kuchen tradition for generations.

If authentic kuchen, which is a German word for “cake,” has been a common thread weaving through your family for decades, you probably won’t appreciate this recipe. The only kuchen my family eats comes to our table as a gift from an expert peach kuchen-maker who works with my husband.

The simplicity of this Quick Apple Kuchen recipe caught my attention as I browsed through an old cookbook I inherited from my mom’s extensive library. The book is so old, it refers to margarine as oleo. Up until 1952, U.S. law required margarine producers to label their product “oleomargarine.” But, the book is not so old that bakers couldn’t find cake mix in their grocery store.

Roast Pork Tenderloin with Apples and Fennel

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by Joseph Erdos

porkapplefennelApples are officially in season and I'm excited to get cooking and baking with them. Fall is one of the best seasons for food, just because there's finally an opportunity to make hearty meals that all appeal to our comfort zone. Apples, more than any other fruit, best represent the season. They're combination of sweet and tart flavors, contradictory as well as complementary traits, seem to fit the unpredictability of autumn just perfectly.

Apples also have the trait of being able to go well in sweet and savory recipes. The pairing of apples and pork were almost made to go together. (Just think of how many times as a kid you've had pork chops with apple sauce.) So for a recipe that's perfect for fall, here's a dish of roasted pork tenderloin with sweet apples and aromatic fennel. This recipe is quick for dinner any night and it's even elegant enough for a dinner party.

The secret to a good roast loin is getting it seared as brown as you can get it—the darker, the better it looks and tastes. So to help that along, I spread the loin with an herb butter, which serves two purposes: First, it helps brown the meat and second, it imparts wonderful flavor. Just make sure not to overcook the pork—a bit of blushing pink while cutting in is just what you're looking for.

Apple Puff Pastry Tart

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by Joseph Erdos

appletartjeApple pie, apple crisp, apple turnovers, apple tart, apple sauce, apple cider—it's the season for apples. I can't think of a better way of enjoying it other than by baking with apples. Who doesn't love a classic apple pie this time of year?

They're worth making from scratch—the dough, the subtly spiced apple filling, warm out of the oven. But when you want to quickly put together an apple dessert, a pie just takes too much attention. That's when this simple tart comes in to play.

Based on a French apple tart, which is made with a pastry dough bottom, this recipe uses store-bought puff pastry instead. It's a shortcut that's worth making. The crisp puff pastry, soft apples, and sweet almond filling all come together to make one amazing dessert that's impressive enough to fool anyone into thinking it took all of your time.

Typically the classic recipe would use applesauce as a base under the apple slices, but that would make this puff pastry tart incredibly soggy. So, instead this recipe uses almonds, sort of like a frangipane tart.

Pumpkin Spice Cookies with Cranberries, Raisins, and Pecans

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by Susan Russo

pumpkincookiesWhen you grow up in Rhode Island, you just can't comprehend 90 degree temperatures in October. While San Diego enjoys nearly perfect 70 degree weather year round, its hottest days are often in October, when dry desert air blows westward and bakes us like cookies in a convection oven.

No, no, no. October should be pumpkins, apples, and 60 degree days with a crisp breeze and clear blue skies set against brilliant orange, yellow, and red trees.

I decided to take the weather into my own hands. I cranked up the AC to 61 degrees, turned on the oven, and made Pumpkin Spice Cookies. Once the smell of pumpkins hit my frigidly cold condo, it was instant New England here in SoCal.

That is, until I went to shoot the pics on my deck and searing hot, dry air hit me in the face (thankfully I was wearing a tank top under my fleece). When I finished, I came back inside my frosty air-conditioned room, lit a Macintosh Apple scented Yankee Candle, and enjoyed a cookie with a cup of Chai tea.

No matter what your weather is, I'd suggest baking a batch of these big, soft, cakey cookies. Each bite is laced with ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg and studded with cranberries, raisins, and pecans, which is exactly what October should taste like.

Streusel-Topped Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

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by Cathy Pollak

pumpkinccmuffinsI love this time of year.  Temperatures are falling and the leaves are turning golden and orange.  It had been a tough year agriculture wise.  As harvest approaches next week, we are looking forward to making wine and enjoying the bounty of the season with so many of you who continue to make it all possible.

And who doesn't love the pumpkin recipes this time of year.  I know I do.  They are comforting to eat on these very cold days.

This one is particularly yummy and simple to make.  My husband and oldest son loved these.  Loved them.  Pumpkin and chocolate go remarkably well together.

Make these for your October and November get-togethers. They are a sure hit.

I love these baking cups, they are so much nicer and fancier looking than regular cupcake holders.  They are in the baking aisle at Walmart.

Berger Queen’s Bang for the Buck: Artichoke Hold

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by Ilene Amy Berg

Thank you, California, this has been an incredible year for artichokes.  I had the biggest, meatiest, tastiest one of my life last spring, and the new autumn crop is beautiful too.  But the range in pricing is stunning.  All pictures were taken in Los Angeles during the weekend of September 28:

gelsons 

$4.99 each at Gelson’s.  No way.

Early Fall Bouquets

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by James Farmer III

fallflowers2With autumn beginning to wax, the garden is coming into its own, offering the bounty and plethora of blooms only an early fall garden can provide. Salvias, pentas, lantanas, Artemisia, and pomegranates are looking quite lovely this time of year for they have appreciated and endured the heat and now bestow their blossoms as trophies of survival from the heat of summer.

One other great garden tiding that comes into play at the end of summer and into early fall is the flower spike of Liriope muscarri ‘Variegata’ or variegated monkey grass for the lay people. My Auburn professors knew I was from Middle Georgia because of my pronunciation of “liriope.” I pronounce it like leer-o-pee. While I’ve heard a myriad of other pronunciations, that is the way this Farmer says it. I digress.

The soft purple spikes of tiny florets make for a punch of color in small bouquets and even dry well…somewhat like lavender the herb. Other varieties of the Liriope genus such as ‘Big Blue’ also make for beautiful cut stem specimens and the berries, with their deepest amethyst to eggplant blackness.

They are lovely in holiday décor. Just imagine those dark berries with fir, pine, and magnolia in some blue and white cache pots or jardinières…quite lovely indeed. As September rolls into October, the Southern landscape yields these spikes along the aforementioned perennials and annuals for arrangements a plenty.

Got Vegetables? Make Soup

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by Sue Doeden

caraway-vegetable-soup-028It can be a challenge cooking for two. When I made a big batch of Baked Garden Vegetable Stack the other day, I had a lot of tender vegetables left over. I turned them into creamy soup in 30 minutes.

The thin slices of potatoes and tender ribbons of cabbage seemed to demand caraway, that distinctly flavored seed typically found in rye bread. I used to love ladling my mom’s sauerkraut dotted with caraway seeds over creamy chunks of boiled potatoes.

I started the soup by sauteing chopped onions and caraway seeds in hot oil. I tried a bit of the Butter Olive Oil I bought at Oh! Olive, a cute little shop in the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago. The oil is organic with natural butter flavor, but is dairy-free and contains no animal products. I’ve discovered it’s perfect for popping corn, or drizzling over a bowl of hot popped corn. Anyway, when the onions began to turn golden brown, I dumped in all my leftover vegetables (I had quite a bit — only two of us ate a meal from that big pan of veggies), poured in a few cups of vegetable broth and let it all simmer together for about 20 minutes.

Squish-Squash: A So-So Day in the Test Kitchen

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by Susie Middleton

squashNot every day is a winner in a food writer’s test kitchen. In fact, yesterday was kind of a stinker, if I’m really to be honest. I made some stuffed winter squash which was just—not good. I’ll spare you the details about the stuffing, but I have to tell you, the most frustrating thing was this: The squash were under-ripe. And so, as beautiful as they were raw, the squash were fibrous and bland when cooked. I know—I’m really making you salivate, now, huh?

I more or less suspected this was the case when I picked the squash before  I had solved this dilemma of “how do you tell when winter squash is ripe?” I know, I am supposed to be a vegetable expert. So I should definitely be hanged (or maybe something less dramatic) for continuing to cook the squash once I cut it open and started digging the seeds out of the hard, pale flesh.

I knew for sure then that the squash (especially the Delicatas) were under-ripe. (You’ve probably had this experience with a slightly green butternut squash you’ve bought at the market.) The thing is, in the gardening department, I’m still a neophyte, and try as I might, I haven’t been able to get a straight answer from other gardeners on how to tell when my stripey Carnival and Delicata squash are ripe.

I’ve been told to wait for the stems to wither and dry up on the vine (uh-oh, I am not that patient),  and I’ve been told to look for a good spot of orange color on the underside. But I am beginning to suspect that it is, in fact, a color issue.

 

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