Fall Farmers’ Market Minestrone

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by Susie Middleton

All I can think about today is soup. This may be because I have too many vegetables crowding up the fridge. After another round of recipe development and a pre-hurricane sweep of the garden, I am left with the clear makings of minestrone—everything from a five-pound bag of carrots to three awkwardly space-hogging baby fennel bulbs. I have a big basket of winter squash I keep stumbling over in the pantry, and I have a little handful of green beans I just plucked off the dying vines this morning. I even have a few cranberry beans that are finally ready to harvest, from plants that miraculously show very little storm damage.

Our storm damage, in fact, was minimal. Had circumstances been different—if Sandy hadn’t taken a left turn when she did—we would likely be facing a very different winter here on the farm. Instead the hoop house is still standing, the animals are all fine, and in fact, we have another flock of laying hens due to arrive here this week (more on that soon). So thankfully, Roy is building—rather than rebuilding. Now, of course, I hear that a big Nor ‘Easter is coming up the coast this week. So maybe we are not out of the woods yet. But still. I can’t stop thinking about Staten Island and the Rockaways and Seaside Heights. All those folks still without power and nights getting really chilly. And lots of friends on the coast of Connecticut with serious flood damage. We did have plenty of coastal erosion up here on the Island and flooding in the lowest harbor areas in the towns, but most homes were safe and dry (and warm).

Wild Rice and Quinoa Pilaf with Pecans and Pomegranate

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by Joseph Erdos

wildriceStuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole. Most people will say that Thanksgiving isn't a holiday without these traditional dishes, but that doesn't have to be the case. Although they are classics, it doesn't mean they can't be reinterpreted, reimagined, or replaced with an equally interesting seasonal side dish. When vegetarians are around, it's also courteous to keep them in mind when planning the menu.

Rice rarely gets attention on Thanksgiving. Some people make it just in case it's requested, but most often it's ignored altogether. Rice pilaf is actually a very appropriate dish to serve at Thanksgiving. This recipe, made with wild rice and quinoa, is perfect for the holiday. It's altogether symbolic of the season and is studded with toasted pecans and pomegranate seeds. It's a good side kick or even alternative to classic dishes, such as stuffing.

Wild rice is very American. It was and still is cultivated by Native Americans. But it's actually not a rice but a seed of a grass that grows in marshy areas and it can only be collected by boat. Pecans are a specialty of the South, where pecan trees are everywhere. So what could be more American than this dish? The addition of quinoa, a South American grain, adds protein and texture to the dish. Gladly serve it to the vegetarians in your family.

Individual SweeTango Apple Crisp

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by Amy Sherman

applecrispLast week I got a shipment of SweeTango apples to try. New varieties of apples appear up now and again and the SweeTango is a relatively new one that's harvested the end of August and beginning of September. It's a very pretty apple with a bright mix of golden green and bright red.

The SweeTango is a cross between a Honeycrisp and a Zestar apple. Honeycrisp is sweet and crisp and Zestar is juicy and zesty. The cross is a very good eating apple but you can use it for cooking too. It's a juicy apple so it doesn't need additional liquid and is best for recipes that are fairly quick cooking because it gets very soft when cooked.

The SweeTango is perfect for apple crisp, which is super easy to make, easier than pie or even a cobbler. It's the kind of thing that takes only minutes to prepare, then you can pop it in the oven after or even during dinner. The smell of apples, butter and cinnamon might be the best thing about autumn.

Curious about Mom's Epicurious recipe

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by Russ Parsons

From the LA Times

cranberrysauceMy mom has a recipe on Epicurious. At first I found that amusing. Epicurious, after all, is the holy grail of recipe websites, the collected works of some of the best food writers in the country. And, to put it most kindly, my mom was not a gifted cook. At least not by the definition we most usually apply today.

Oh, it's a good recipe. Maybe a great recipe. We printed it in the Los Angeles Times for the first time in 1992 and most recently in 2000, and I still get calls and emails every Thanksgiving asking for Mom Parsons' Cranberries.

It has just the right balance of sweet and tart, with the spice of cloves, cinnamon and allspice coming up from the background. I can — and sometimes do — drink the syrup straight. The texture is like a loose jelly, but the cranberries are cooked briefly, so they still have pop. It's so good that I know my mom couldn't have thought it up herself.

When I say something like that, people sometimes gasp. It sounds cruel, particularly these days when culinary ability is regarded as being next to godliness.

But even if my mom had had the inclination to be a good creative cook, she probably wouldn't have had either the time or the resources. She was too busy raising four kids on my dad's Air Force salary — for most of his career a modest paycheck that still required us to pack up and move almost every year.

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Boozy Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream

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by Susan Salzman

icecream pumpkinPumpkins are EVERYWHERE! It is just starting to cool down in L.A. and the flavors of fall are creeping into my home. Meals like Shepherds Pie, Claire’s Brisket, Butternut Squash Soup, Lasagna, and Chili are cooking in my kitchen. Making pumpkin soup is a weekly request. With left over pumpkin puree I am always finding ways of using up the left over puree.

The usual suspects; pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin doughnuts, and now pumpkin ice cream. Having a few egg yolks in the fridge always ingnites my desire to make ice cream. I have to admit, I have become a little bored with our old favorites (butterscotch pecan, coffee cookie dough, sweet cream). Don’t get me wrong, they are good, better than good. But I wanted a new flavor and with this being fall, all I can think about is pumpkin. So glad I did. While the custard was cooking on the stove, it smelled just like fall. The smells of cinnamon and nutmeg infused my house.

It was so overwhelming that I couldnt help myself, I did stick my finger in the warm custard, before putting it into the ice cream machine. I was tempted to drink it. Really tempted. But didn’t.

Pumpkin Cake

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by James Moore

pumpkincakePumpkin is one of my favorite ingredients, especially during the fall months. This is a great cake for friends with October/November birthdays (like me!)

It’s also a nice alternative to pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving.

Feel free to substitute whole wheat or white wheat flour for the all-purpose.

Pumpkin Cake:

3/4 cup (6 oz.) unsalted butter; more for the pans
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 cups (9 oz.) unbleached all-purpose flour; more for the pans
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon table salt
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
2 large eggs
1/3 cup buttermilk

Cream Cheese Frosting:

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
4 cups confectioners' sugar
16 ounces cream cheese, cut into 8 pieces, softened
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Pinch salt

Lentil Bolognese

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by Susan Salzman

pasta lentilbologneseFall has finally arrived in sunny Los Angeles and it’s that slight chill in the air that makes me yearn for warm soups, one pot stews, and hearty pasta dishes. One night a week pasta is on the menu and it was this dish that my eldest son chose for his week night pick. All three of my boys are “required” to pick a meal each week and it is their job to help me prep and cook the entire thing(those that don’t cook are on clean up duty). Eli, being 15, is pretty darn good with the knife and watching him dice the vegetables was a proud moment.

What I love most about this dish is that it has all the elements of a traditional bolognese without the addition of any form of meat. The lentils become the heart of the dish, coupled with spinach for your greens, and Parmesan for your milk, it’s one of those one pot dishes that’s covered all of our four basic food groups. Served with a crusty baguette, a glass of wine (for the adults) and a little something special for dessert, no one walks away from the table hungry or complaining.

Rethinking Fall Cocktails

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by Tom Macy

From the Huffington Post

maplecoctailWhile summer cocktails conjure up a specific image -- usually of tiny umbrellas and slices of watermelon -- autumn brings about libations that are, shall we say, less photogenic. The dearth of the fresh ingredients that make summer drinks such colorful beachside accompaniments force harvest season cocktails into a comparatively substandard role. But this seems wrong considering the other pleasures we gleefully anticipate with first nip in the air. People salivate on line at Starbucks eagerly awaiting their pumpkin spice lattes and delight in slipping on lightweight jackets to compliment the blushing foliage. Why too shouldn't lifting the year's first glass of Apple Brandy be part of the tradition?

The beauty of it is, cocktails that evoke the changing of the seasons don't have to be entirely new drinks. They can follow the same basic template classics cocktails do, just with seasonal substitutions. Here are a few suggestions.

The best place to start is swapping out the sweetener in a drink, it's the simplest and most effective way alter a cocktail. Take for instance a whiskey sour which we know is generally two parts whiskey -- bourbon, rye, Tennessee, your choice -- one part simple syrup, and one part fresh lemon juice depending on taste. Instead of simple syrup make it with maple syrup and bam(!), the autumn whiskey sour.


Pumpkin Cranberry Bread

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by Susan Salzman

bread-pumpkin-cranberryPumpkin is still going to be with us for the next month and I want to capitalize on all that it has to offer.  As I start to plan my Thanksgiving feast, in my head, I take into consideration all the wonderful flavors of the season; pumpkin, chestnuts, sweet potatoes, corn, cranberries, brussel sprouts, citrus, apples, pears, pecans, baby squash, beets, and so much more.

Right after Halloween (like now), I start to mull through magazines (new and old), cook books, the Internet, and my friend’s blogs. Each year, I like to try new potato dishes, vegetables, biscuits, savory puddings, breads, and quick breads.  I came across this recipe on Molly’s blog,  Orangette, and ironically I had this recipe earmarked in one of my books, The New Joy of Cooking.  It was a sign.  I had to try it.

I had a bit of left over pumpkin puree in the fridge and this was a great way for it to not go to waste.  I love making quick breads and muffins.  Generally, when making both of these, one could easily use things found in your very own pantry.  It is a great way to whip up an after school snack, a quick early morning breakfast for the kids and both really take no time at all.

I love this bread.  The original recipe called for golden raisins, but I immediately knew I wanted to replace the raisins with cranberries. The pumpkin flavor is not overwhelming, the cranberries add just the right tartness and the hazelnuts add the perfect crunch.  This is not only going to be a staple in our home this holiday season, but I already see it wrapped and packaged as gifts for friends and neighbors.


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