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

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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

Grilled Corn Salad Plus MVK’s *Like* of the Week

sunrise
This is one of my most favorite times of the year. I come home from the farmer’s market with my bags overflowing with greens, squashes, cucumbers, herbs, and onions. Fresh peaches and berries are finally available, too. Dinners are made up of lots of vegetable dishes, trying different recipes and ways to bring new life to an old favorite. Soon it will be corn season and this year I have a delicious recipe for you to try.

A couple of years back, I saw a recipe that called for adding a spritz of fresh lime juice and some chopped cilantro along with the usual butter to an ear of corn. I love fresh corn, but to be honest, it’s not the easiest thing in the world to eat, and plus it gets caught in my teeth. But I love it and will never stop eating it. When I picked up a couple of ears at the store, I recently thought about taking that recipe, changing it up a little bit, and turning it into a salad! And instead of boiling the corn, roasting it on the grill.

This is another one of my recipes that has no measurements, just fix it to your own palate. I like this dish when it is barely warm; the butter and lime juice melded with the cilantro gives a little sweet sour flavor. If you don’t have fresh corn, you can skip the grilling step and warm the corn on the stove and make the salad that way, but roasting the corn gives it an earthy taste that is to die for.

And you can get in the driver’s seat and use this as a base for a grain or bean salad, or add some grilled diced zucchini or summer squash. Peas? Yup, those would be good too. Meat lovers, this goes great with steak, pork, and chicken. if you are a cilantro hater, you could substitute fresh basil. While this has a couple more steps than just boiling some corn, I think it is worth the extra effort!

corn sal2Grilled Corn Salad

Corn, shucked and all silk removed
Butter (vegans, this can be omitted)
Fresh lime juice
Chopped cilantro, a couple of tablespoons
Chopped fresh scallions, if desired
Salt and pepper

1. Heat a large pot of water on the stove and bring to a boil. Add the ears of corn and boil for just three minutes. Remove and set aside.

2. While the water is getting ready to boil, prepare the grill. When the corn is finished bar boiling, put the corn on a oiled grill and continue to turn the corn cobs over until slightly charred (about ten minutes or so).

3. When the corn is cool to the touch, take a large mixing bowl, stand the corn cob up vertical with the flat side on the bottom. With a sharp knife, cut the corn from the cob. In the bowl, add the butter, lime juice, cilantro, and scallions, if using, salt and pepper. Serve just slightly warm.

 

corn cobsMVK’s *Like* of the Week: Don’t Throw Away the Corn Cobs! Funnily enough, as I’m working on this recipe, I spotted this story on what to do with used corn cobs! Mine ended up in the compost pile to be a meal for a lucky raccoon or deer, but these are great suggestions for future recipes!

Summertime Holiday Dishes Plus MVK’s Food News of the Week

Note, apologies for the advance unedited piece you may have received on Monday; I’ve been having some troubles with my host and it sent instead of saved!  

I wish every morning this could be my view at breakfast.

I wish this could be my view at breakfast every morning! My view from the top of Mount Abraham.

“In the summertime when the weather is hot
You can stretch right up and touch the sky.”

“In the Summertime,” by Jerry Mungo

The first two lines of this old chestnut have been an earworm for the past two weeks or so. Long sunny days with the light going well past nine, and starting around 4:30 a.m., have me out and about well before my usual early rising time and sometimes well past my bedtime. No matter, this time is fleeting and I know in just a few short weeks I’ll start to notice the time change and that it’s no longer a bright light that wakens me.

That said, it’s almost Fourth of July weekend, which for some marks the start of summer. This is one of those golden years where the holiday is bumped with a weekend, so we don’t have the odd middle-of-the-week day off. I always find this time of year as one with family and friend gatherings, summer guests, picnics, and lots of opportunity to feed a crowd. So this week I’m recycling a favorite idea and bringing you some past suggestions for summer eating and hosting!

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Miscellaneous and Appetizers

Jordan Marsh’s Blueberry Muffins
If you have some fresh blueberries, these are delicious and easy.

Meditteranean Kebobs
My go-to dish for potlucks.

Black Bean Hummus with Queso Fresco
I took this once to a dinner party and I ended up eating most of it! It’s SO good!

Kale Chips
Healthier than potato chips!

Soups and Main Dishes

Julia Child’s Vichyssoise
I’m not one for summer soups, but I do love this one.

Summer Minestrone Soup
A great soup with summertime vegetables.

Zucchini and Red Pepper Frittata
Eggs are a real lifesaver for dinner on summer evenings.

Marinated Grilled Chicken Legs
These are great hot off the grill or cold.

Marinated London Broil
Mmm…

Salads

Israeli Couscous “Tabbouleh”
A fun spin on an old favorite.

MVK’s Nicoise Salad
My take on this classic French summer meal.

Szechuan Cucumbers
No guilt if you eat the whole bowl!

Red White and Blue Salad
A fun salad for the holiday!

Asian Green Bean Salad 
A great vegetarian dish with an Asian twist.

Cavatappi Salad with Tuna and Olives
A delicious heart-healthy pasta salad.

Desserts

Strawberry Shortcake
It’s not summer without having this for dinner one night.

Old Fashioned Blueberry-Maple Pie
A Vermont spin on an old fashioned favorite.

pepsiMVK’s Food News of the Week: This is How Much Celebrities are Paid to Endorse Unhealthy Foods
I recently read this article about how much celebrities are paid to endorse certain foods, mainly soda and fast food. I was surprised and also saddened. If you can believe it (I can’t), Beyoncé was paid $50 million (yes, you read correctly) to promote Pepsi products! You can read the article by clicking here.

Zucchini-Ricotta Pizza Plus MVK’s *Like* of the Week

The peonies in the garden are in bloom!

The peonies in the garden are in bloom!

I caught the sky looking like this on my way home before the storm.

I had to stop to take a picture of the sky before the storm.

Happy summer! It is finally the glorious season of local vegetables and the big strawberry sign is up in town, signally the berries are ripe! It will be strawberry shortcake for dinner very soon!

This recipe, which I found in the June issue of Cooking Light is a combination of foods I normally wouldn’t put together (mint on pizza?), but it is SO good! With a creamy ricotta base with a hint of garlic, then fresh ribbons of zucchini, it was a perfect meal for the end of the day, especially in the summertime. And is a different way to use up your CSA vegetables and herbs if you have one.

This recipe is actually one of three; the pizza dough makes a large batch, and divided into three portions, you can make Shrimp Panzanella or Broccoli, Cheddar and Ranch Chicken Calzones. Me? I prefer to have two extra batches of pizza dough in the freezer for a quick summer dinner. Just wrap the portions in plastic wrap and place in a freezer bag. Take out in the morning and defrost on a plate and you’re ready to go when it’s time to make dinner! And a time-saver tip is to make the dough over the weekend so you don’t have to make it on a weeknight!

pizza

Zucchini-Ricotta Pizza

This recipe first appeared in the June 2016 issue of Cooking Light magazine.

2 cups warm water (100 to 110 degrees Fahrenheit)
3 1/2 teaspoons dry yeast
2 teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
23.75 ounces white whole-wheat flour (about 5 cups)
Cooking spray
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 tablespoon canola oil, divided
3/4 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint
2 tablespoons 1% low-fat milk
1 garlic clove, grated
2 medium zucchini, shaved (about 2 cups)
2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (1/2 cup)

1. Place first 3 ingredients in a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, and let stand 5 minutes. Stir in olive oil, 1 1/4 teaspoons salt, and black pepper. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Add flour to bowl; beat at low speed just until combined. Cover; let stand 20 minutes. Uncover; beat at medium-low speed 8 minutes. Turn dough out onto a work surface. Knead 1 minute; form into a ball. Place in a bowl coated with cooking spray; turn to coat. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°) about 1 hour. Punch dough down. Divide into 3 portions. Wrap 2 portions in plastic wrap; reserve for Shrimp Panzanella and Broccoli, Cheddar, and Ranch Chicken Calzones. Cover remaining dough portion; let rise 30 minutes.

2. Place a pizza stone or baking sheet in oven. Preheat oven to 500°.

3. Combine tomatoes and 1 1/2 teaspoons canola oil on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake at 500° for 7 minutes.

4. Roll dough portion into a 13-inch circle on a large piece of parchment paper; pierce well with a fork. Place on preheated stone; bake at 500° for 4 minutes. Combine remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, ricotta, basil, mint, milk, and garlic; spread over dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Combine zucchini with remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons canola oil; arrange on pizza. Top pizza with feta. Bake at 500° for 10 minutes. Top with tomatoes; bake at 500° for 4 minutes. Cut into 8 wedges.

The-Changing-American-DietMVK’s *Like* of the Week: The Changing American Diet
I found this interactive article online last week and just knew it would be my like of the week. Want to know what people ate more of in the 1970s? Beef, potatoes, and whole milk. Know what it was in 2013? Chicken, potatoes, and American cheese. And apples have been the most popular fruit every year! Really interesting trends here.  You can see the map and read the article here.  

Spicy Black Bean and Corn Salad Plus MVK’s *Like* of the Week

It was a picture perfect morning for an early kayak ride!

It was a beautiful morning for an early kayak ride!

‘Tis the season of temperatures in the 80s and the sunset being around 8:30 p.m. Which means I want to take advantage of every second I can when I get out of work to be outdoors. And which also means dinners are late. Very late. While exercising, I create recipes in my head with items I have in the fridge and the cupboards so I can make a quick meal because I’ll be famished when I walk in the door. (This is how I get through a hike–thinking of food!) This salad is one such creation; I wanted something healthy, of course tasty, but one that I call a “dump it” salad, throw everything in a big bowl, toss and serve.

I’m a big advocate for canned beans, especially this time of year. Even though I prefer to cook my own dried beans, it’s definitely less expensive but more time-consuming, I find I don’t spend as much time in the kitchen as I do in the winter; having a few cans on hand for quick meals like this are a life saver. I measured out two cups of frozen corn to defrost for a couple of hours. When I got home, I took my big mixing bowl and started to add what I had in the fridge and cupboard. I didn’t have enough lime for a quarter cup, so I added some lemon juice. If you don’t have both herbs, you can use just one. And of course, there are substitutes galore: red pepper in place of the tomatoes, scallions in place of the red onion, cucumber in place of zucchini. Or add some protein; I was thinking cooked chicken or grilled shrimp would be good, or even some quinoa or another grain. I served it with grilled chicken sausages and it was fantastic. And of course, if your palate isn’t one for spicy foods, omit the cayenne entirely; just a tiny bit goes a really long way!

This dish makes close to four cups, which I thought was plenty enough for dinner for two and at least lunch the next day. Until I heard the Eater of the House, who went for seconds (or was it thirds?) ask if he could have the rest of the salad! “I wouldn’t eat so much if your food wasn’t so good!” I guess that’s a rousing endorsement for this recipe!

black bean sal 

Spicy Black Bean and Corn Salad
This recipe can easily be doubled for a summertime potluck!

2 cups, defrosted corn
1 can black beans, rinsed
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
2 Tablespoon diced red onion or shallots
1 small zucchini, diced
Chopped fresh basil and cilantro (2 Tablespoons each)
½ avocado, diced
¼ cup fresh lime juice or lime and lemon juice
A dash of cayenne or a bit of chopped jalapeno (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

In advance of cooking, defrost the corn until thawed (at least two hours). Add to large mixing bowl, and add the remaining ingredients (through lime juice). Add cayenne, if using, and salt and pepper.

coloring bookkMVK’s *Like* of the Week: A Coloring Book for People Who Like Food
The biggest things these days in bookshops aren’t the books themselves, it is coloring books for adults! While I myself haven’t gotten into this craze (I like to read too much to spend time coloring), this one did spark my interest, a book for people who like food! Edible Paradise is just that, pictures of lots of fruits and vegetables that you color! I don’t know if this will make me put my book down and pick up a coloring pencil or pen, but it might! You can read more about it here.

BBQ Pork Tenderloin with Bell Pepper Relish Plus MVK’s *Like* of the Week

 

I've been hiking this same path for the past few months and love looking at the changes in the scenery. Each time it's different and it's getting greener and greener!

I’ve been hiking this same path for the past few months and love seeing the changes in the scenery. Each time it’s different and it’s getting greener and greener!

And just like that, it was summer.

After a warmer than normal winter and what I thought to be a colder and wetter than normal spring, it seems like overnight we are in summer and the thick of heat and humidity. Which means I close my kitchen and meals are salads, grilled, anything that doesn’t require turning on the oven and stove. And this recipe is perfect for that!

I made this recipe piecemeal. When it was cool in the morning, I made the barbecue sauce. As I was moving about in the house in the afternoon, I made the bell pepper relish, so everything was ready when it came time to grill. I decided to go with the less expensive center-cut pork chops, mostly because I wanted leftovers for my lunch. And I didn’t use the pre-chopped veggies, as I had the peppers and onion in the fridge.

This recipe was exactly what I wanted in a summer dinner. The spiciness of the sauce and the crisp, fresh flavor of the bell peppers was delicious and complemented each other with the pork. The bell pepper relish was SO good, I’m going to make it again to serve over other cuts of meat.

I made this on a weekend night, but time-wise it definitely could be made during the work week. And using the pork chops, I was able to have leftovers for a couple of lunches, too! Served with coleslaw, this was a delicious way to welcome in the new season!

pork and relishBBQ Pork Tenderloin with Bell Pepper Relish

This recipe first appeared in the June 2016 issue of Cooking Light magazine.

1/2 cup prechopped onion
1 (8-ounce) package prechopped red, yellow, and green bell pepper ( I diced up one yellow and one red pepper)
3/4 cup cider vinegar, divided
3/4 cup water, divided
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon plus 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1/2 cup unsalted ketchup
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon dry mustard
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
Cooking spray
1 (1-pound) pork tenderloin, trimmed
1. Preheat grill to medium-high heat.

2. Combine onion and bell pepper in a bowl. Bring 1/2 cup vinegar, 1/2 cup water, sugar, and 1 tablespoon salt to a boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Pour vinegar mixture over bell pepper mixture; let stand 15 minutes. Drain.

3. Bring remaining 1/4 cup vinegar, remaining 1/4 cup water, 1/4 teaspoon salt, ketchup, and next 6 ingredients (through red pepper) to a boil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook 4 minutes or until slightly thickened, stirring occasionally. Place 1/2 cup sauce in a small bowl; reserve.

4. Coat grill rack with cooking spray. Sprinkle pork with remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt. Add pork to grill; grill 10 minutes, turning occasionally. Brush pork with remaining sauce; grill 5 minutes or until a thermometer inserted in the center registers 140°. Place pork on a cutting board; let stand 5 minutes. Cut into 12 slices. Serve with bell pepper mixture and reserved 1/2 cup barbecue sauce.

MVK’s *Like* of the Week: Speaking of Grilling…

I’ll admit, I’m not the best griller in the world. But these tips, sent to me by a local business, are really helpful! I’m going to use these to make myself a better griller for the summer of 2016!

grilling

 

Ramps Two Ways Plus MVK’s *Like* of the Week

Speaking of a fleeting season, I wait all year for my lilac bushes to bloom! The peonys will be next!

Speaking of a fleeting season, I wait all year for my lilac bushes to bloom! The peonies will be next!

We are now looking at Memorial Day weekend in a couple of days and are in the thick of the springtime harvest season. The farmer’s market is now open outdoors, with the locals selling their delicate greens and late winter root vegetables. I think spring is the most fleeting of the seasons; I feel like I blink and I’m then looking at young squashes. Which means when it’s spring I take full advantage of what the season has to offer and for me that means ramps. The season lasts maybe three weeks, so when I see them I grab them, so I hope this post isn’t too late! If so, tuck this recipe away until next spring. You will thank me. 🙂

Ramps are also called wild leeks and can be found in wet, woody areas, but I, of course, find them nice and clean at the coop. They have a lighter, more delicate flavor than say garlic or even cultivated leeks. You can use both the greens and the stems for different recipes or all at once. I love to sauté the stems in a little bit of butter and then add them to scrambled eggs (the addition of some fresh dill and cheese only makes it even better). And you can add some to pesto and also pickle them, too. (See below.)

To clean ramps, I fill the sink with cold water and swish them to make sure all the dirt is removed. For the greens, I cut just where the greens stop and the stem starts.

One of my favorite food writers is Melissa Clark of the New York Times. She frequently appears on WNYC’s The Leonard Lopate Show, which I listen to as a podcast. Recently she was on talking about springtime vegetables: ramps, asparagus, rhubarb, and gave a “recipe” for ramps that sounded delicious. (You can listen to the show here.) I decided to try my own version. I grabbed a handful of ramps at the coop and created these two recipes, greens for one and the stems for another.

This recipe is forgiving. As I was making it, I didn’t keep track of the specifics, so you can make this for one, two, or more eaters depending on how many ramps you have! Hopefully ramp season hasn’t passed by and you to try this! It was sooo good!

ramps
Sautéed Ramps with Ricotta
Inspired by Melissa Clark.

These would be delicious as an appetizer or accompanying a nice dinner salad or soup. Or you could make it your whole dinner (that’s what I wanted to do!).

Olive oil
Ramp greens
Crushed red pepper (if desired)
A good baguette (gluten-free if needed)
Ricotta cheese
Fresh lemon
Kosher salt (or another larger-grained salt)

1. In a medium saucepan, heat about 2 teaspoons of olive oil. Add your ramp greens and sauté until just softened. If you want a little bit of heat, add just a shake of some crushed red pepper.

2. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Slice the baguette and put on a cookie sheet. Bake until the bread is nice and golden.

3. Add a smear of ricotta cheese on each piece of bread. Add some greens and just a tiny squirt of fresh lemon juice and salt. Then eat warm!

ramps2Pickled Ramps
The way I like to eat these is in a quesadilla or tostada. They are great with melted cheese!

½ cup apple cider vinegar
1 Tablespoon sugar
2 Tablespoons water

Mix the vinegar, sugar, and water together in a small bowl to make sure the sugar is dissolved. Add ramp stems (cut into half-inch pieces), and add to vinegar mixture. Cover. You can eat them in about two days and the bowl can be left on the kitchen counter covered for seven to ten days.

 

garlicMVK’s *Like* of the Week: Peel an Entire Head of Garlic in 10 Seconds!
Ok, I’ll admit I haven’t tried this technique from Saveur magazine yet, but since peeling garlic is my least favorite thing I do in the kitchen (even above doing dishes!), it is on my radar when I need a whole head of garlic!

Check it out here!