Fall

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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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!

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brusselspearsEat your vegetables! Mom's famous words. Just like everyone else, I too hated many vegetables when I was a kid. Brussels sprouts were at the top of my list with peas not far behind. It was many years later that I realized I couldn't figure out why I hated sprouts. I had never even tasted them, but I was told by other kids that the taste and smell was revolting. But what's the point of hating a food if you haven't even tried it? When I finally did try Brussels sprouts for the first time, I was completely taken aback at how good they were. I was converted and from that point on I think I became the adventurous eater I am today. That's what a little sprout can do to a person.

Roasted or sautéed, Brussels sprouts can be simply amazing. The key to cooking them is to not overcook them. That's when they develop a sulfuric smell and taste. Boiling them does no good either because the good flavors are cooked right out and all that remains is bitterness. Sautéing is the easiest and most rewarding method for cooking sprouts. A little oil, bacon fat, or duck fat is all that's needed to make them taste exceptional. In this recipe, warm sautéed sprouts are brought together with complementary flavors and textures. The crispy Asian pear adds sweetness, the savory bacon crunchiness, and the dressing is a decadent finishing touch. It's the perfect salad for an appetizer or side dish. And leftovers are even better for tomorrow's lunch.

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brusselssproutslaw.jpgThis brussels sprout salad recipe is perfect for lovers and haters of the little cabbage-looking sprout. The flavor is so mild, that it barely has any cabbage flavor. Because the brussels sprouts are shredded, guests might not even know they are the basis for the dish. Sweet apples and toasted nuts add complexity and crunch. It's a nice balance of sweet, salty, crunchy, tangy with just a touch of richness from the walnuts and the oil.

Brussels sprout slaw is yet another recipe that was created out of "whatever was in the house." I will admit, laziness that keeps me from going to the store in turn inspires new recipes on a regular basis. In this case I had one apple and a bag of brussels sprouts. Back from a weekend out of town, I had no desire to go shopping.

My original plan was to roast or saute them, but raw was a refreshing change from the expected. You could probably slice the brussels sprouts very thinly with a knife, but it's much easier to do in a food processor or with a mandolin. You do have a mandolin, right? Cheap Japanese ones are fine, just watch your fingers!

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perfectapplepieFall is here and what better way to celebrate it than by baking an apple pie from scratch. Making your own crust is so much more rewarding than using frozen pie shells from the grocery store.

This recipe for hearty apple pie can be put together in minutes once the dough is prepared ahead of time.

And to make the process even easier, roll out the dough between two layers of plastic wrap or parchment paper.

By not using bench flour you will have an even flakier, more delicate crust, plus cleanup is as easy as throwing away the wrap.

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