Fall

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.

Read more ...

raddichiorisotto.jpgWhen Brian and I took the boys to Italy, we wanted to eat lunch at a place near the Vatican that a lot of these Italian travelers recommended. It was a lunch we never forgot. We still talk about it and laugh. The place is Dino and Tony's and it is run by two brothers – Dino out front and Tony in the kitchen, neither of whom speak English.

When we arrived for lunch, we were not offered menus at all. Dino told us he was going to bring out special antipasti for us and then asked if we like pasta. Well, sure, we said. Before we knew what was happening, he disappeared into the kitchen and then brought out two pizzas, a platter of prosciutto and salami, a platter of grilled vegetables, a platter of potato croquettes, fried olives stuffed with meat and a bottle of Chianti. This was just the antipasti!

Then he delivered large bowls of radicchio risotto. "Where is the pasta?" I asked him. "After the risotto," he said. I knew we were in trouble. The risotto was so good, I couldn't believe it. Then the pasta came - Rigatoni Amatraciana. Delicious and perfectly cooked.

Read more ...

roastpearsI am an impatient person. I hate to wait. While some of the pears my mother gave me from her trees are ripe, others are not. Is there something you can do with not quite ripe pears? Yes! I discovered you can roast them.

Pears are sometimes added to savory dishes to add juice and moisture, or to make a sauce. My idea with this recipe was to make a side dish, something that could be served with pork chops, roast chicken, pork tenderloin, sausages, tossed with salad greens, on top of a pizza or maybe even used in a sandwich. Most recipes for roast pears call for pear halves or quarters, but dicing them just means they cook faster. You could also include pears with potatoes, parsnips, onions, beets or other similar vegetables that are good for roasting.

I really love the silky texture of cooked pears. The flavor intensifies too, which is why pears are so good in cakes and tarts. But you can get the same texture and flavor by roasting pears without baking them in a batter or crust. Necessity is the mother of invention and my mother's prolific pear trees accounts for the plethora of pear recipes I've created. Currently I'm really enjoying maple roasted pears with oatmeal or yogurt, but as the season progresses I'm sure I'll find even more ways to use them.

Read more ...

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.

Read more ...

kohlrabisoupKohlrabi, a vegetable that sounds just as foreign as it is alien to most people, is a subtle-flavored vegetable in the cabbage family. In fact it's German name translates to cabbage (kohl) turnip (rabi). Varieties include purple and pale green. It often gets confused with rutabagas or turnips, but it's actually much more attractive than both. Kohlrabi can be eaten raw (its taste resembles that of radishes) or cooked (where its taste is similar to boiled broccoli stems). This creamy soup is the perfect recipe for kohlrabi, because the vegetable turns sweet and tender.

This recipe is based on my mother's version. Her soup is a Hungarian specialty. It's wonderful for a first course before an elegant dinner. When you match it with a big chunk of bread or crackers, it's even great as an entire meal. Its creaminess and sweetness always hits my comfort spot. And even though, as a kid, I never thought of kohlrabi as much of a vegetable, I still always asked my mom to make this soup in the fall and winter.

Read more ...