For someone who likes cooking (and eating) as much as I do, I don't have a lot of super specific childhood food memories. However one of my sharpest ones involves the winter: every time my siblings and I spent the day pretending to shovel (i.e. actually just messing around) after a snowstorm, we always came in from the cold to steaming mugs of hot chocolate (with marshmallows, mini chocolate chips, and whipped cream, of course) prepared by our mother. Sure there are lots of homemade recipes out there–some involving cream or spices or melted chocolate–but this one replicates the simple, uncomplicated goodness of the packets of hot cocoa from my childhood.
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup sugar
4 cups milk
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
marshmallows, for serving
1. Stir together cocoa and sugar in a small bowl.
2. In a medium saucepan, heat milk to scalding, stirring constantly to prevent burning.
3. Whisk about 1/3 cup of the hot milk into the cocoa-sugar mixture, then pour mixture back into the saucepan. Stir until well-blended. Add vanilla. Serve hot with marshmallows.
Normally I don't like fruit that is seed-filled–that popping in your teeth just gets to me–but I'll make an exception for figs. This is the first time I've tried a recipe that uses fresh figs and actually loved it. Mixed with the apples and walnuts and wrapped in a whole-wheat crust, it's a perfectly seasonal way to use the sweet ingredient. I've always loved making galettes, even back when the dough I used was of the store-bought variety. Despite the fact that they're free-form and slightly unfinished, I find them so presentable in a gorgeously rustic way.
2 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup oil
3/4 cup milk
2 cups apples, cored and sliced
1/2 pound figs,quartered
1 cup walnut pieces, broken
1/2 cup honey
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons cinnamon
pinch of salt
1. Mix together flour and salt into a large bowl. Measure milk and oil into the same cup and add to flour mixture. Knead well by hand until dough is firm.
2. Divide dough in half, placing one half on parchment paper. Flatten slightly, and then place another sheet of parchment paper on top. Roll with a rolling pin until dough is about 1/4 inch thick. Remove the top sheet of parchment, and roll out any wrinkles left in the dough. Transfer to a cookie sheet. Repeat with second half of dough.
3. In a bowl, combine all other ingredients and stir well to combine. Pour filling into the middle of crust and fold the edges over leaving the center open. Sprinkle with coarse sugar if desired.
4. Bake at 350 F. for about 35-40 minutes, or until the filling's juices bubble. Cool and serve.
I've never had a real–-and by real I mean a freshly deep-fried, sugar-glazed dollop of fruit and batter–apple fritter. While I'm sure a good one is delicious, I'm of the opinion that lighter desserts are always the way to go (especially since completely passing on desserts is out of the question for me). These bite-sized rounds of dough with a moist, spiced apple filing are perfect for the season–and have none of the grease associated with their full-on counterparts.
2 1/4 tsp yeast
1 cup of warm milk
4 tbsp oil
3 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
4 tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
6 apples, peeled and diced
2 tbsp oil
6 tbsp brown sugar
3 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
pinch of salt
1. Warm the oil with the milk on a stovetop. Remove from heat. Sprinkle the yeast over the milk and allow to sit for a few minutes. Mix in the sugar. Add in the egg, milk, and flour.
2. Knead dough until combined (dough will be sticky). Cover and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
3. Place all filling ingredients in a pot. Cook until the apples are soft, about 15 minutes.
4. Once dough has risen, roll and cut into circles. Place 1 tbsp filling in the center of each and fold dough over the filling. Pinching seams together, place seam-side down on lined baking sheet. Cover and let rise for 40 minutes
5. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, or until browned. Once cool, brush with milk and sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon.
Lately, I'm obsessed with loaded salads–the more layers of flavor from mix-ins, the better. Normally such lighter fare is best suited for summer, but this recipe is perfect for fall in looks, ingredients, and taste. Butternut squash is amazing (seriously, if you haven't ever tried it, buy one, roast it, and enjoy), and when its sweetness is paired with the sharpness of the raw red onion and the unique umami flavor from the tahini-based dressing, the result is out-of-this world good.
2 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1 teaspoons ground allspice
4 tablespoons olive oil
Salt, to taste
2 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed (3 cups)
1/2 of a medium red onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
For tahini dressing:
2 medium garlic cloves
1/2 cup lemon juice
6 tablespoons well-stirred tahini
6-8 tablespoons water (or more as needed)
4 tablespoons olive oil, plus more to taste
1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Combine the butternut squash, garlic, allspice, olive oil, and salt. Toss until evenly coated. Roast on a baking sheet 30-40 minutes, or until soft and slightly caramelized. Remove from the oven and cool.
2. Meanwhile, in the bowl of a food processor, chop the garlic. Add the tahini and lemon juice, and blend. Add the water and olive oil and taste for seasoning. Add more water to thin as needed.
3. To assemble the salad, combine the squash, chickpeas, onion, and pine nuts in a mixing bowl. Add the dressing to taste and toss carefully. Serve immediately over your choice of leafy greens.
It seems as though just as soon as we pick pumpkins, it's time to start chopping them up for roasting. Since I didn't want to make a whole pumpkin pie with the results, my sister suggested pumpkin-flavored brownies. I was hesitant, totally (and incorrectly) thinking that pumpkin along with all the spices that go with it and chocolate had no place mixing together in the same dessert. The results were far from off-putting: the combination of the creamy, cheese-cake like filling with the richness of bittersweet chocolate was absolutely incredible.
1/3 cup oil
4 oz chocolate, chips or roughly chopped bar
1/2 cup brown sugar
Pinch of salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup flour
1 cup chocolate chips
4 oz strained plain Greek yogurt or cream cheese, at room temperature
3 tbsp sugar
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
2 tbsp flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8-inch square pan with parchment paper.
2. In a small saucepan, heat the oil and chocolate together, stirring constantly until smooth. Remove from heat and stir in the sugar, vanilla and salt, then beat in the eggs one at a time. Stir in the flour and mix until just combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.
3. In a second mixing bowl, mix together yogurt or cream cheese and sugar until combined. Stir in the pumpkin, egg and vanilla, and mix until smooth. Stir in the remaining ingredients, and set aside.
4. Spread half of the brownie batter into the prepared pan. Drop alternating spoonfuls of the pumpkin mixture and the remaining brownie batter onto the brownie layer. Run a knife through the batter in a zig-zag motion to swirl the brownie batter and pumpkin filling together.
5. Bake until the edges are set and the middle is barely wobbly, about 30-40 minutes. Let cool in the pan about 15 minutes, then use the edges of the parchment to lift out the brownies and transfer to a wire rack to cool. Cut the cooled brownies into squares and serve.
I've never had a Bloody Mary–as brunch cocktails go, I've been a pretty dedicated fan of the Bellini ever since my boyfriend mixed me one himself to celebrate my 21st birthday–so I was excited to give this variation on the tomato juice-based drink a try. Apparently swapping out the traditional vodka for gin yields something called a Red Snapper or, as it's also known as, a Bloody Scream. For Halloween that seemed perfectly appropriate (hence the carved mushroom skull garnish). I'm used to sweet mixed-drinks so this super savory–and a little spicy–one was a nice surprise. Special thanks to Boodles for providing me with the gin-spiration–if you're ever looking for a good imported brand, their gin (and bottle, don't you love the design?) is top-notch.
DON'T FORGET to check out my latest giveaway here!
2 ounces gin, Boodles British Gin recommended
2/3 cup low-sodium tomato juice
half a lemon, juiced
2 dashes Worcestershire sauce
2 dashes hot pepper sauce
2 ounces red wine
Black pepper and celery salt, to taste
1. Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker, mix by shaking vigorously, and pour into an ice-filled Collins glass.
2. Garnish with a celery stalk and serve immediately.
I've never liked broccoli rabe–in my mind it was always too bitter and tough to be enjoyable. Knowing full well that this is not a good enough excuse to avoid eating a veritable super-food (seriously–read here), I decided to give the veggie another try. This recipe is about as old-school Italian as they come, with deceptively simple instructions that rely on good-quality ingredients for a stellar finished product. The good news is a tasty dish is perfectly attainable by doing just as it says: shop well, boil pasta, do some minimal sautéing, and watch as a final toss of grated cheese miraculously pulls everything together.
2 pounds orecchiette
1/4 cup olive oil
6 large garlic cloves, crushed
1.5 pounds broccoli rabe, florets and tender stems only
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup reserved pasta water
1 pound cooked sweet Italian sausage, crumbled
1 cup freshly grated Grana Padano or Parmigiano Reggiano
1 pound of pork loin
1. Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling water until al dente. Drain well reserving one cup of water.
2. In a large deep skillet heat the oil. Add the garlic and cook until golden. Add the broccoli rabe, crushed red pepper and salt; cover and steam for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the water and cooked sausage meat and cook over high heat until the sauce reduces slightly, about 3 minutes.
3. Add the pasta to the skillet and toss gently. Sprinkle half of the cheese on top and toss again. Serve immediately, sprinkled with the remaining cheese.