MVK’s Recipes for Autumn

sabattical
After much thought in the past few months about where my food writing is going and what I would like to do with it in the future, I’ve decided to take a pause from writing for a few months. At first I thought I only had an either/or, just two decisions, either keep writing or stop completely. But on a long walk last week I realized I can make my own rules and stop writing temporarily. Five years are a very long time to keep my creative juices flowing week after week and I’ve started to feel like I’ve been uncreative in both my cooking and writing. I know whenever I start to feel this way about anything, I know I need to take a step back and reassess.  

That said, I’ll miss writing about my favorite season and holiday, but I have collected some of my favorite autumn recipes to get you through the next few months, plus tips for Thanksgiving Day! And on Sunday, I will be toasting my favorite city in the world with a Perfect Manhattan.

May your autumn be happy, peaceful, and full of the bounty of this glorious season!

Love,
Chris

unnamed
Soups and Stews
Check out the farmer’s market and pick up some vegetables for my Late Summer Vegetable Soup.
Whenever I need some comfort, I make a pot of my Hungarian Mushroom Soup.
A delicious vegan meal, Autumn Red Curry Stew.

Main Dishes
This is one of my favorite chicken recipes, Chicken Stew with Old South Buttermilk Biscuits.
And another favorite chicken recipe, Braised Chicken with White Beans and Olives.
This recipe for macaroni and cheese is healthy and one pan!

Side Dishes
Although I love summer cooking, I admit I’m excited about root vegetables. Here are some of my favorite roasted roots recipes.
Fall means apples. Make some homemade applesauce!
I make this recipe for Roasted Delicata Squash all winter long!
Instead of the usual lettuce for salads, try my recipe for Autumn Kale Salad instead.

Sweets
My mom’s recipe for pumpkin bread.
Make these popular miniature Halloween cookies!
My go-to gingerbread recipe, courtesy of Lynne Rossetto Kasper of NPR’s “The Splendid Table.”

Since I’ve cooked Thanksgiving dinner for years, I’ve collected several tips each year to make the day a bit easier. And here are two recipes for the best rolls in the world that I’ve made for the holiday!
Astor House Rolls
Flaky Dinner Rolls

Advertisements

Valentine’s Day Chocolate Pudding Plus MVK’s *Like* of the Week

When I was growing up, my parents never went out to celebrate Valentine’s Day on their own, we always celebrated together as a family. And one of our special desserts was homemade chocolate pudding. I grew up never knowing what it was like to eat pudding from a box, so I didn’t know how spoiled I was by eating this dark, rich dessert topped with just a little bit of cream until I became an adult and had to make my own–from a box!

When I began thinking of this year’s Valentine’s Day, I decided I should bring back that tradition and make chocolate pudding for my Valentine. I found this recipe from Cooking Light, but knew my first switch was going to use whole milk instead of skim. Skim milk contains lots of natural sugar, so I didn’t want this dessert any sweeter than it needed to be. I bought a 4 ounce bar of Ghirardelli semi-sweet chocolate, but then noticed I needed one additional ounce; luckily I had a square of Baker’s in the cupboard. I topped it with a few frozen raspberries, since I love that combination. You could take the remaining egg whites and whip them into meringue or top with whipped cream. The end result will be an incredibly rich, smooth, dark chocolate pudding.

While adding milk to a mix is simple, taking a little bit of effort to make something homemade is so much better! Plus, you know what the ingredients are and that they’re healthy and good for you. I’m a sucker for any kind of pudding, but this is extra special, especially if you’re sharing it with the one you love!

Happy Valentine’s Day and Happy Cooking!

pudding3Chocolate Pudding

This recipe first appeared in the August 2006 issue of Cooking Light magazine

2 ½ cups fat-free (or whole) milk, divided
1/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
¼ teaspoon salt
2 large egg yolks
2 teaspoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped

Place 2 cups milk in a medium, heavy saucepan; bring to a boil. Combine sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a large bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Combine remaining ½ cup milk and egg yolks, stirring well with a whisk. Add egg yolk mixture to sugar mixture, stirring well. Gradually add half of hot milk to egg yolk mixture, stirring constantly with a whisk. Return milk mixture to pan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 1 minute or until thick, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Add butter, vanilla, and chocolate, stirring until melted.

Spoon pudding into a bowl. Place bowl in a large ice-filled bowl for 15 minutes or until pudding is cool, stirring occasionally. Cover surface of pudding with plastic wrap; chill.

vday2MVK’s *Like* of the Week: Valentine’s Day Menus

With Valentine’s Day on a Sunday this year, that gives you a little extra time if you were planning on making a meal at home as opposed to eating out. Two years ago I combed the MVK archives to find some special recipes for the day. You can see that post here.

Looking for more chocolate inspiration instead? Check out these double chocolate cookies from last year!

Tis the Season: Mexican Chocolate Cookies Plus MVK’s *Like* of the Week

Look at this sunset!

Look at this sunset!

Since we are in the thick of the holiday season, I’ve been craving a really good homemade cookie. But just one! If I’m going to make anything this time of year, it will be my family’s butterball cookies, but I certainly don’t want them in the house because they are the perfect accompaniment to a cup of tea. The Eater of the House doesn’t really eat sweets, so I know I’ll start looking like a butterball myself eating the entire batch! But I recently had the opportunity to try something new and these cookies were it! The melding of chocolate, cinnamon, and pepper is a classic Mexican mixture and it all came together in this cookie. A soft cookie with a deep chocolate peppery flavor, this made the perfect sized batch to accompany the casserole I took to a recent dinner party. And it made just 24 cookies for me, so it was a sized offering of cookies.

If you don’t have a microwave like me, you can easily melt the chocolate in a water bath. Just take a saucepan filled with water and set a glass bowl over. Bring the water to a boil and stir occasionally, the chocolate will start to melt gently.

I realized as I started this that I was out of cayenne pepper. To be honest, when I see “red pepper” in recipes I don’t exactly know what that means; I always take it to be a spicy red pepper. So without cayenne, I added a dash of spicy Hungarian paprika since that’s what I had on hand. Success!

Happy Cooking!

cookies
Mexican Chocolate Cookies

This recipe first appeared in the December 2007 issue of Cooking Light.

5 ounces bittersweet (60 to 70 percent) chocolate, coarsely chopped
3/4 cup all-purpose flour (about 3 1/3 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
Dash of black pepper
Dash of ground red pepper
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Cooking spray

1. Preheat oven to 350°.

2. Place chocolate in a small glass bowl; microwave at HIGH 1 minute or until almost melted, stirring until smooth. Cool to room temperature.

3. Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 5 ingredients (through red pepper); stir with a whisk.

4. Combine sugar and butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended (about 5 minutes). Add egg; beat well. Add cooled chocolate and vanilla; beat just until blended. Add flour mixture; beat just until blended. Drop dough by level tablespoons 2 inches apart on baking sheets coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 10 minutes or until almost set. Remove from oven. Cool on pans 2 minutes or until set. Remove from pans; cool completely on a wire rack.

MVK’s *Like* of the Week: Ben’s Kosher Deli and Restaurant
matzoIn the last *like* of my trip to New York City (see Like 1 and Like 2 here!), lunch on Monday was at Ben’s Kosher Deli and Restaurant. This restaurant right off Broadway didn’t seem to cater to tourists, or at least it didn’t seem so when I was there; at the height of lunchtime, it seemed to be more business and family lunches. Our meal began with a platter full of pickles and some coleslaw, which were both delicious. I ordered a bowl of matzo ball soup and half of a corned beef sandwich for my lunch. The matzo ball were the size of a tennis ball, yet light and fluffy, nothing like the ones I make at home. It was a good thing I ordered half a sandwich, it was layer upon layer of corned beef on a really nice rye bread. These were both delicious and gave me sustenance for an afternoon of walking around the city. This restaurant is definitely worth seeking out!

Ben’s Kosher Deli and Restaurant
209 West 38th Street
New York, New York
www.bensdeli.net

Recipe Redux: Naked Apple Pie Plus MVK’s *Like* of the Week

I’m in the Big Apple for a few days, so I thought I’d bring you a repeat apple recipe from my family’s recipe box, Naked Apple Pie! No fall is complete without making one of these pies. Try it out the next time you have to take a dish to a dinner party, it’s easy and delicious and I promise it will be a hit!

NAP USE2
Naked Apple Pie
I like to use Cortland apples for my pies; if you use a sweeter apple, you can, of course, cut down on the sugar.

½ c. white sugar
½ c. brown sugar
½ c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
6-7 peeled, pared, diced apples
½ c. nuts, optional (if using, I use walnuts)
Cinnamon and nutmeg

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Mix together the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
3. Add the egg and vanilla and stir.
4. Add the apples and nuts, if using.
5. Top with cinnamon and nutmeg.

Bake in a greased pie pan or small cake pan for roughly 30 minutes, or until apples are soft.

DishwashingMVK’s *Like* of the Week: The Real Reason I Don’t Want Help With the Dishes
I know there has been lots of talk of introverts vs. extroverts in the past few years; Susan Cain’s book Quiet which examined this topic may have something to do with it. But when I read this article from www.thekitchn.com, I found myself nodding in agreement and realizing I could easily have written it! My kitchen seems to be a natural gathering place when we have guests over, but it’s the place I also like to retreat to for a few alone minutes. Do you like to do the same?

Full Circle: Homemade Pumpkin Bread Plus MVK’s *Like* of the Week

 

I just had to pull over when I saw this sky when I was driving home.

I just had to pull over when I saw this sky!

It’s finally fall! The season of crisp weather, crisp local apples, squashes, and pumpkins. The leaves have been slow at changing this year, but on a long weekend drive, I spotted some reds and golds in the hills.

Growing up, every fall my mom would make several batches of pumpkin squares, which was homemade pumpkin bread baked in a 13 x 9 pan and cut into squares like cake. This was an easy snack to take to school and I loved when I found it in my lunchbox; the bread is super moist and I loved the walnuts (not so much the raisins). With all the talk of “pumpkin spice” which is in everything from coffee to vodka, I wanted to make something in my kitchen with real pumpkin spice, not something that is manufactured in a factory. I decided to pull out my family recipe for pumpkin bread one night when I wanted to warm the kitchen. But it wasn’t in my recipe box. I then went to my grandmother’s recipe box. Of all the things I inherited from her, this is the most special; a schoolteacher all her life, many recipe cards have her familiar handwriting that is so clear and recognizable.

So I went through and found a recipe for pumpkin bread, my mom’s, but in my handwriting! I couldn’t believe I was the one to give her this recipe; it must have been after college, so more than 25 years ago. And I could tell I had carefully written it so it was legible. Mom’s recipe makes a batch for a family, but Grandma did the math for me, so I was able to use her measurements for one loaf. (If you have a big family or big eaters, it’s easy to double.) Mom’s recipe to me to Grandma and back again. Full circle indeed.

Using fresh ginger, because that’s what I had on hand, with no clove or raisins, this was delicious. Half a cup of chopped walnuts, it made the kitchen warm and spicy. And it’s what I call a quick bread, just one bowl, add everything, mix and pour into a loaf pan. It takes maybe ten minutes to mix all together, so you can make it on a lazy Sunday morning to serve to guests (or yourself!) if you want. The piece I had with my morning tea was nice and homey and was a pleasant and delicious way to welcome the new season. I hope if you make this, you find it that way, too.

Happy Cooking!

pumpkin brad
Homemade Pumpkin Bread

This recipe is from the files of Nancy B. Koliander.

Since you’ll have about a cup of pumpkin leftover, you can either freeze it or hold tight; I’m working on a future recipe to use it up. Stay tuned!

In a mixing bowl, whisk together:

2 medium eggs
1 cup sugar (scant)
1 cup pumpkin
2/3 cup of oil (the original recipe calls for ¾ cup, but I cut it down a little bit and it was fine)

Add:

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp. each of salt, baking soda, baking powder, nutmeg
1 tsp. each of cinnamon, ginger
¼ tsp. ground cloves
½ walnuts and/or a handful of raisins (optional)

Bake 50-55 minutes at 325 degrees in a greased bread pan.

MVK’s *Like* of the Week: Speaking of Pumpkin…
Right after I made my pumpkin bread, I came across this article from The Kitchn website, “What’s Actually in Your Canned Pumpkin Puree.” I was going to bypass it because I know my can of One-Pie pumpkin is just that, pumpkin. Well, I’m wrong and I’m glad I read it because I learned something: under USDA rules, since pumpkin and certain squashes are in the same genus they can be categorized as just pumpkin. So unless your can says 100 percent pumpkin (like Libby’s), you are getting a pumpkin/squash combination. I’m miffed and surprised about this piece of information. I think it is a bit of false advertising. Don’t you?

Old-Fashioned Blueberry-Maple Pie Plus MVK’s *Like* of the Week

Don't the clouds look like cotton candy?

Don’t the clouds look like cotton candy?

A funny thing happened to me in March. I received an email from a local filmmaker, Josh Hummel, who stumbled across my blog and my recipe for blueberry pie from 2012  and wanted to meet to discuss a film he was planning on making that featured—ta da! A blueberry pie!

The film, titled “The Kitchen of Ambrosia,” is brilliant; six athletes come together with ingredients to make a pie that is then shared. A runner gathers the berries, a kayaker takes the berries into the lake to wash them, a hiker goes into the woods for the maple syrup, a cyclist goes to a farm to gather wheat berries and cream, a rock climber grinds the wheat into flour, and a mountain biker goes over bumps and hills to make the butter. I spent a few hours filming this over the past few weekends and had great fun. And as you can surmise, I was the cook so I had to make two delicious tasting—and more importantly good looking–pies!

The Eater of the House took this photo of everyone being filmed eating the pie!

The Eater of the House took this photo of everyone being filmed eating the pie!

My blueberry pie is normally made with sugar, but I wanted this to be authentic to the film, so I found this pie recipe published in Bon Appétit magazine that uses maple syrup. I had wanted to practice making a lattice crust this summer, but time escaped me, so I had to do it on the fly! And it was super easy! I used these instructions, and had my phone in front of me as I followed the instructions on crisscrossing the crust. Since I was making two pies in the morning of the film shoot, I made the crust ahead of time to save on time and popped it in the fridge. You can do this too, just make sure the crust is room temperature before you start to roll it out. And of course, you don’t have to do a lattice, a “regular” crust will taste just as good!

The pie filling was delicious; I was disappointed in my crust and that the filling bubbled over a little bit, but all the athletes declared it delicious! I haven’t seen the final movie but saw a sneak peek of the rough cut and I can’t wait to be able to share this little bit of Vermont with you in the near future!

bluepieOld-Fashioned Blueberry-Maple Pie
This recipe first appeared in the August 1999 issue of Bon Appétit magazine. Pie crust is from The Joy of Cooking.

Pie crust
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon or so of salt
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter
Ice water

Filling
4 cups fresh blueberries (about 23 ounces)
1 cup pure maple syrup
¼ cup unbleached all purposed flour
¼ cup quick-cooking tapioca
4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

For the crust: In a bowl, sift the flour and salt together. Add the butter, cut into chunks, and with a pastry blender or two forks, work the butter into the flour until it resembles cornmeal. One tablespoon at a time, add the ice water and mix until the crust melds together, and divide in half. On a floured surface, take your rolling pin, add a little bit of flour to the pin and the crust, and work it in a circle until it is about 9 inches for your pie pan. Carefully set it into a greased glass pie plate.

Combine blueberries, syrup, flour, tapioca, and juice in a bowl; toss to blend. Let stand for 15 minutes. Add the filling and repeat rolling out the crust for the top or cut for lattice. Bake pie until juice bubble thickly and crust is golden, about 1 hour. Cool pie on rack. Serve at room temperature.

MVK’s Like of the Week: Tonight’s Dinner

I read about food every single day. Whether it’s newspapers, magazines, websites, emails, cookbooks, I am always getting new ideas and inspirations. A few months back, I told you about the email the New York Time’s Food team sends several times a week. It’s great and I get lots of creative suggestions for meals that don’t take a lot of time or money to put on the table. I just loved this message last week from writer Sam Sifton. I’m going to look for some local tomatoes tonight!

fresh-tomato-exporterSummer cooking is different from the cooking we do other times of the year. Here are some beautiful tomatoes. With a drizzle of olive oil, a spray of salt and a garnish of capers, that’s dinner, and if someone happens to have a beautiful ball of fresh mozzarella to tear apart on top of it all, so much the better. Honey, could you grab me some basil? Dinner is served. (Try doing that in February.)

 

Brownies

Simple as that.

I try not to repeat recipes too much, but when something I wrote about three years ago is so delicious, I only thought it was fitting to bring it forward so new readers can take advantage! (Plus, I made these twice last week, so they are the forefront of my mind)

Baking is definitely not a specialty of mine; give me a piece of meat or a pile of vegetables and I can create something delicious, but baking is more specific and goes against my devil-may-care attitude I have in the kitchen. Unless it is super easy. Which this recipe is and trust me, you’ll be the bell of the ball if you share these with friends or foes. (Or the bell in your own home. Either way, you’ll be a star!)

Originally printed in the New York Times in 1943, it was noted these treats traveled well in a soldier’s care package. Trust me, those soldiers were lucky! The recipe I grew up making were mediocre; they were nice and soft right out of the oven, but were rock hard the next day. When I found this recipe, they turned into my go-to brownies. Deep, dark, and soft, even the next day, they are delicious enough that I even broke my “no sweets during Lent” vow and had two small ones. And it’s simple, it comes together in about ten minutes! You know how the Betty Crocker box mix gets “glossy” on top when it’s done cooking? This does, too, and it’s homemade, so you know what is going into it!

Note Amanda Hesser’s tip at the end (which I will say, dividing the pan into 16 is hardly a small bite, it’s a normal size brownie in my opinion), and I’ll add to that; make these and take a nice long walk in the March light and don’t worry about the stick of butter and cup of sugar!

brownies

Brownies
From The Essential New York Times Cook Book, Classic Recipes for a New Century, by Amanda Hesser, 2010. Makes 16 brownies.

¼ pound semisweet or bittersweet chocolate (Cook’s note: I use a bar of Ghirardelli semisweet chocolate)
8 Tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
2 large eggs
1 cup sugar
½ cup sifted all-purpose flour
½ cup chopped nuts
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon salt

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan and line the base with parchment.

2. Melt the chocolate and butter in a saucepan over low heat. Remove from the heat.

3. Beat the eggs with the sugar until the sugar is mostly dissolved, and add to the chocolate mixture. Add the other ingredients and mix well. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.

4. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out almost, but not quite, clean, about 25 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes, then invert the brownie onto a rack, remove the parchment, and turn it right side up. When cool cut into 16 squares.

Hesser’s Cooking Note: You might laugh at the size of these brownies, which are 2-in squares–brownie “bites” by today’s standard. Cut them larger at your (waistline’s) peril.

serious eaMVK’s Endorsement of the Week: A New (to me) Food Website
I can never have too many food websites to wander and dream. Friend and reader, Carol, sent me an email the other day, asking if I knew about the website Serious Eats. I didn’t, and of course immediately visited. Funnily enough, what caught my eye were a lot of articles focusing on Asian dumplings, like I wrote about last week! This website has the potential for losing lots of hours online, looking at recipes, checking out recommendations. You should check it out, too! www.seriouseats.com.