Persimmon Mojitos

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by Susan Salzman

persimmons.jpgPersimmon’s are finally in season and they are all around us. At the market, on my friends tree, and at the local farmers markets. I am a late bloomer when it comes to this overly delicious fruit and it wasn’t until last year that I was introduced to them.

I purchased a few persimmons not really knowing what I was going to do with them. At the beginning of this year I had bookmarked a post from White on Rice couple for Grandma’s Persimmon Cookies but never got around to making them.  I had also bookmarked Chocolate Persimmon Muffins from one of David Lebovitz’s blog posts, but yet again, failed to follow through. Well, here I am with some very ripe persimmons and a few recipes that have been put at the top of my “to-do” list.

This past weekend was crazy busy.  Lots and lots of sports, thus lots of time spent at the park, a Bat Mitzvah and our school’s big Halloween carnival and fund raiser. Yesterday was spent at the carnival which meant not much good eating and exhausting every ounce of energy left in my body. Prior to heading over to school that morning, I made a big batch of Beef Goulash, washed my lettuce, roasted the veggies for carrot soup, and pureed some persimmons.

Reduced Calorie Pumpkin Bread

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by Cathy Pollak

pumpkinbread.jpgWho thought reduced calorie pumpkin bread could be so good? Well, I'm hear to tell you it is. Aren't you lucky? Anyway, my bestie's mama, Sharon (Hi Sharon!) tweaked up a recipe and came up with this little gem (I tweaked it a tad bit more as well). Anyway, it's moist, it's pumpkin-ee and a perfect fix with coffee.

So here's the thing, I was looking at nutritional information for regular, full-calorie pumpkin bread and it averages about 179 calories per slice. Now, they consider one slice to be 1 ounce in terms of weight. I can tell you right now that no one ever cuts a 1 ounce slice of pumpkin bread and considers that a serving. It's minuscule and definitely wouldn't hold a slab of butter. This means that a regular slice, one that you would just normally cut and looks like "normal size" weighs about 2.4 ounces (based on a 12 serving loaf made in an 8 x 4 pan). So one slice of regular pumpkin bread is about 429 calories. OUCH!

So this lovely recipe will cut your calories in half, coming in at only 228 calories per 2.4 ounce slice.  That's a huge savings.  Now, since you are saving so many calories, you can slather on the butter..he-he. Or cream cheese, or...or...

Pasta with Creamy Pumpkin Sauce

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by Sue Doeden

pumpkinpasta.jpgPasta seems to be my go-to when I’m short on meal-preparation time. Not only does it cook in just minutes, but it pairs nicely with a variety of vegetables and sauces. Last week I made a sauce of penne, pumpkin and Parmesan.

When I came upon a recipe for pasta with a creamy pumpkin sauce in "The Ski House Cookbook,” by Tina Anderson and Sarah Pinneo, I was reminded of the delicately flavored butternut squash-filled ravioli with a sage-brown butter sauce that I had several years ago at I Nonni, an Italian restaurant in the Twin Cities.

That recipe in "The Ski House Cookbook: Warm Winter Dishes for Cold Weather Fun" inspired Penne with Creamy Pumpkin Sauce with flavors reminiscent of the butternut-squash-filled ravioli I swooned over years ago. I’m not a huge fan of sage, but when the flavor is infused into the dish as whole fresh leaves of the herb saute with some onion and then simmer in white wine, it becomes a whisper that is just loud enough to detect, but not overbearing. For me, the slight essence of sage in the sauce is just right.

Red Wine Poached Seckel Pears

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by Joseph Erdos

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.

Apple and Banana Oatmeal Cake

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by Sue Doeden

apple-banana-oatmeal-cake.jpgYears ago I made an oatmeal cake that was moist, dense and delicious with a thick layer of cream cheese frosting slathered over the top. When we had out-of-town friends staying with us last week, I thought of that cake that I haven’t made in years when I served baked oatmeal for breakfast one morning.

I flipped through my recipe file and found the cake recipe that I’d clipped from a newspaper many years ago. I added a seasonal touch to the cake with the addition of chopped, locally grown apples. Since I had a ripe banana in the freezer, I stirred that into the batter, too. A bit of cinnamon added to the cream cheese frosting turned the cake into an autumn treat.

Oatmeal, tart apples, cinnamon and banana paired with cream cheese — can’t get much better — unless you add some toasted chopped pecans. I shared the cake with others and discovered that a short length of cinnamon stick poked into each piece of cake worked well as a support for plastic wrap, preventing the plastic from sticking to the frosting and ruining its attractiveness. Once you taste this cake, you may choose not to share.

An Apple Taste-Test and A Butternut Squash Soup for All

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by Susie Middleton

appletest.jpgLibby loves apples. Roy does not. Nevertheless, I subjected them both to an apple taste-test last Saturday. They were good sports, even when I suggested they use words like “tangy” and “tart” to describe an apple’s flavor rather than “sour” and “yucky.” Actually, Libby was right there with me through the whole thing, but we noticed Roy was standing next to the compost bucket for most of the time, and I’m not entirely sure he really ate all of his apple portions. (Libby, on the other hand, called for a time-out half way through; I’d forgotten to tell her just to take a bite, not eat the whole wedge.) It didn’t matter that we all gradually lost steam, because the last apple was so crisp and juicy and flavorful and WOW! that it woke us all up and easily claimed it’s spot as number one. It was a Honey Crisp, which probably won’t surprise many of you. This one happened to be Island grown, too, and it was a doozy.

We picked up all the apples at Morning Glory Farm’s farm stand that afternoon, where we’d gone to get a big pumpkin for Libby and some vegetable treats for me. One thing I couldn’t resist tucking into my shopping bag was the biggest leek I’d ever seen—so big that I had to measure it when I got home! So much nicer than the average stubby leek you get at the grocery store…Anyway, while we were browsing, I noticed all the apples and remembered that I wanted to do a taste test again this year. There are so many different varieties of apples that you could never stop discovering delicious new ones.

When Life Hands You Dented Apples, Make Apple Sauce

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by Susan Russo

applesauce.jpgMy local market recently had a sale on apples. I spent 10 minutes carefully selecting the most perfectly shaped, shiny Macs, Rome Beauties, and Pink Ladies I could find.

I gently placed my bags of apples on the conveyor belt at the checkout. As I continued to unload my remaining groceries, from the corner of my eye I saw my apples disappear from the belt: blam! onto the scale, then blam! into the grocery bag. Before I could utter a word, it was too late. My previously pristine apples were irrevocably spotted with unsightly blemishes.

Rather than trying to eat around the bruises, I did what any resourceful cook would do: I made apple sauce.

Apple Slab Pie

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by Susan Salzman

slabpie-apple-slice_sm1.jpgRaise your hand if you have an over abundance of apples right now. I thought so! There are many things I want to do with my apples; make apple challah, apple sauce, apple cake, and an apple slab pie. Well, 1 out of 4 isn’t so bad now, is it?

This past summer I made a cherry slab pie and it was so good. I shared it with my friends and, without tooting my own horn, we are still talking about it. So, why not an apple slab pie? The pastry from the cherry slab pie was near perfect. I made another batch of the dough and then simply switched out the fruit. Apples cook differently than cherries, so I adapted the filling from a recipe from The Cook’s Country Cookbook.

Slab pies are great for a crowd. And this pie fed a huge crowd. It was demolished in about 15 minutes. I had one teeny tiny bite. That teeny tiny bite was really good. ;I am going to make this many times over throughout out the next few months. Next time I will pair my apples with some fresh pomegranate seeds!

Pork Cutlets with Sweet and Sour Apples

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by Cathy Pollak

porkapples.jpgThis is the time of year when pork and apples are synonymous with the cooler weather. What is it that makes us crave a dish like this in the Fall? It must be apple season, my favorite time of year. I am so glad to have the Honeycrisp apples back in the stores, they are truly my favorite.

Pork cutlets are also perfect for family dinners. Kids seem to love them because they are mild and can be flavored mildly to their liking. They also take a very short time to cook, which means they will not turn into rubber. I like to keep pork cutlets in the freezer, they thaw quickly and meld easily with any sauces or gravies you might have on hand. Its perfect for those nights when time is of the essence.

This recipe makes enough for leftovers the next day.Take it to work with you in microwavable tupperware or slip the pork between two slices of bread for an awesome sandwich. The pork and the apples reheated well the next day.

Pear and Almond Cream Tart

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by Joseph Erdos

peartart.jpgAutumn begins this week, a season that is celebrated for the bounties of late summer and of the harvest. And for many the season is best represented by baking. Bread, pies, and tarts have become synonymous with the season of change. Baking with fall fruit such as apples, pears, plums, and quinces are a perfect way to celebrate. For me the fruit that best represents fall is the pear. Even though most pear varieties are picked unripe during the summer, the fruit can last in cold storage all throughout autumn and winter. If picked ripe, the pear is mushy, but when allowed to ripen on the counter or in a paper bag, a pear can be the most flavorful fruit. Some criticize it for its grainy texture, but I appreciate it for that uniqueness. The perfume of a ripening pear is like no other fruit. With pears in mind, I decided to put together one of my favorite tarts.

A French confection with the utmost elegance, this pear and almond cream tart is great for entertaining this season. Pears and almonds are a true match for one another. Their flavors and textures work harmoniously in this recipe. The almond cream base is traditionally called a frangipane and can be used as a base in a variety of desserts, but its most common companion is the pear.


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