Fall

Creamy-Red-Pepper-Coconut-soup-serve-with-crunchy-breadIt was one of those days, dreary and cold, and it was my turn to make lunch (I’ve told y’all how much I dislike making lunch). Mostly I was dreading it because I knew the fridge was devoid of leftovers I could just heat up and call good. 

I strolled into the kitchen and opened the vegetable drawer. There it was, two red bell peppers, celery that needed a purpose and half an onion from the last soup I had thrown together. Luckily, inspiration hit and within 30 minutes, this soup and lunch was served. It was delicious and is now in the fall/winter soup rotation over here.

The coconut adds the Asian flare I was looking for and the Thai-style sweet chili sauce balances it all out. This soup is so easy to make and the flavor is bold. You will love it.

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winepears.jpgPears have a special place in my childhood. When I was a kid, my family would pick pears from the trees in my aunt and uncle's backyard. They always had more pears than they knew what to do with. My aunt made pear sauce, much like apple sauce, and my mom would can the pears to be eaten as compote. We would also eat them raw, when their so sweet, juicy, and buttery. I love them that way, but often enough the ones you buy in the market are not the best to eat out of hand. That's when I like to poach pears to create a unique dessert.

Poaching pears in red wine turns them into glowing red jewels with tender and succulent flesh, flavored by the spiced poaching liquid. Spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, cardamom, or star anise can be added for exotic flavor. Citrus rind or tea leaves, like Earl Grey, also add flavor. The composition is up to you but the cooking method is simple. Once the pears are cooked, the poaching liquid can be reduced to create a syrup. Serve the pears with the reduction sauce and a dollop of crème fraîche for a very elegant dessert that would make a lovely ending to any dinner party.

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pumpkinsoup.jpgPumpkins are as much a part of fall as apples, cider, turning leaves, and chilly weather. The months of October and November call out for pumpkins—just think Jack-o'-lanterns and pumpkin pie! Like their brethren squash, pumpkins work well in countless recipes—and not just sweet desserts but savory dishes too.

Soup is one of my favorite ways to enjoy pumpkin. I make it every October. When I cook pumpkin soup, it officially feels like fall. Flavored with a little nutmeg for warmth and then garnished with pumpkin seeds, it's perfectly comforting. (Don't throw away the pumpkin's seeds, use them in this soup.) A hot bowl of soup always warms me right up.

I start this recipe by roasting the pumpkin. But with the shortage in pumpkins, you could also substitute butternut squash or acorn squash. The base of the soup is a vegetable stock, making it vegetarian-friendly. I like to use my own homemade stock because I can flavor it the way I want. 

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beet-horizontal-1-300x225I work at home. Translation: I love a distraction. The kitchen? Definitely the number one destination for diversion.  Even on days when recipe developing is not on my to-do list, I like to wander in to my favorite room and concoct a little something every few hours. Something quick, something that might work for our dinner later.  Even better, something that might last for a few days.

Roasted baby beets (so ruby-red pretty) are the ultimate in quick-to-make,  slow-to-cook vegetable condiments.  By vegetable condiments (no, I haven’t lost my mind) I mean stuff like caramelized onions and roasted tomatoes—things that are so great to have in the fridge for tossing in salads, onto pizzas, into tacos—that sort of thing. Okay, so maybe roasted beet wedges are not quite as versatile as roasted tomatoes, but they do juicy-up a salad and give you a great excuse to warm up goat cheese or to toast pecans (just add arugula and lemon vinaigrette). Plus, maybe you’ve got excess CSA-beet syndrome like me. Remarkably, mine (wrapped in a damp cloth and stored in a zip-top bag) have kept for months in the veg drawer of my fridge.

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Image You really don’t need to be German to have fun celebrating Oktoberfest. And, you don’t need to travel to Munich to enjoy the food we associate with Germany and its festival that lasts several days, providing a gateway for summer to turn to fall. This year, the celebrating began September 18 and will run through October 4th.

My dad was German, so I’ve eaten plenty of roast pork, sauerkraut and huge boiled dumplings that my Hungarian mom became proficient at creating. But when Oktoberfest rolls around, I start thinking about sausage. And sauerkraut. With boiled potatoes. Thick slices of red potatoes blanketed with a smooth, creamy beer-spiked sauce, tender bits of onion swimming through it. I’ve served these potatoes with grilled bratwurst and sauerkraut that’s simmered in beer. It’s delicious.

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