Posts Tagged ‘Fall’

I really like gnocchi.  I usually cheat when I eat it, and use a package from Trader Joe’s.  I made ricotta gnocchi once, and while it was good, it was too rich for me to want to eat regularly.

This gnocchi recipe, however, is awesome.  I want to make it all the time.    It’s labor intensive, but totally worth it because it is truly delicious.   I’ll try to go through it step by step.   

There’s a lot of different sweet potato gnocchi recipes out there.  I chose the one on Martha Stewart’s site because it makes a ton and just looked right to me.   I loosely adapted a sauce from Food and Wine using some good apple cider from the farmers’ market.

I bought my sweet potatoes at the farmers market and they weren’t orange, so my finished product wasn’t a pretty orange shade, but still very yummy.


Sweet Potato Gnocchi
From marthastewart.com and “Pasta Sfoglia,” by Colleen and Ron Suhanosk

Makes 2 1/2 pounds

1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes
1 1/2 pounds russet potatoes
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 large egg
1/4 cup pure maple syrup (optional – I skipped it because I was making such a sweet sauce.  I reduced the flour by a 1/4 cup or so just to make sure they wouldn’t be too dry)
1 teaspoon coarse salt
Extra flour for dusting (The recipe calls for rice flour.  I used all purpose without a problem.)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.   The recipe says to wrap the sweet potatoes in parchment paper-lined aluminum foil.   I skipped the parchment paper because I didn’t see the point, and I didn’t have a problem.  Bake until easily pierced in the center with a fork, about 1 hour.  Let cool.

Place russet potatoes in a large pot; add enough water to cover.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook until easily pierced in the center with a fork.  Drain and cool.

Peel all of the potatoes.   Pass potatoes through a ricer or food mill fitted with a medium-hole dish.

Spread all-purpose flour on a clean, dry work surface.  Place potatoes on top of flour.   Add egg, maple syrup if you are using, and salt. 


Using your hands, mix together ingredients on work surface until well combined to form a dough.  Gently knead dough into a 10-by-8-inch rectangle.  Let rest for 2 minutes.

Lightly dust a clean, dry work surface with flour.  Cut the rectangle into 4 equal pieces.  Roll each piece into a 1-inch-thick rope.  Cut each rope into 1/2 inch gnocchi.  If you are super ambitous, lightly press a fork into each one to create ridges.  The ridges will help the sauce stick  a little better, but they definitely are not necessary.


Store gnocchi on a rice flour-covered baking sheet until ready to use and dust with more flour. 


To cook the gnocci, gently place into a boiling pot of salted water.  When they float to the top, cook for approximately one more minute, then drain.  Some will float to the top much faster than others, so I usually start my minute countdown when it looks like more than half of them are floating.

Gnocchi can also be frozen up to 2 weeks. To freeze, place them, dusted with rice flour, in a single layer on a baking sheet and freeze. Once frozen, place them one on top of the other in an airtight container. To thaw for cooking, place gnocchi in a single layer on a baking sheet in the refrigerator for not more than 1 hour before cooking.

Apple Cider Sauce
Loosely adapted from Food and Wine

The original recipe can be found here.  I liked the idea, but I thought it looked too sweet, so I doctored it up a little.  While really good, I do think it was still a bit sweet, so next time I’ll reduce the cider by a 1/2 cup and replace with chicken or vegetable stock instead.

2 cups apple cider (or a mix of cider and broth)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 tablespoon of coarsely chopped sage leaves
Salt, pepper, and parmesan cheese to taste

In a heavy pot over medium heat, bring the cider (and broth) to a boil.  Reduce it to about a 1/2 cup of liquid, approximately 20 minutes.

In a large skillet over medium heat, warm the olive oil and butter.  Add the shallots and saute until slightly golden, approximately 3 minutes.  Add the garlic and sage and saute for another minute or two. 

Add about a pound of gnocchi, or one half of the recipe printed above.  Add the reduced cider and stir to coat.  Serve with parmesan cheese.


I served the gnocchi with a side of broccoli rabe that I tossed in garlic, olive oil, and red pepper.  And because I had labored all day over this dish, I decided that it deserved to be served with something good.  I opted for a bottle of pinot from one of my favorite Sonoma wineries, Stephen & Walker.  Their Sonoma Coast pinot noir is much fruiter than your typical pinot and went perfectly with this meal.


Read Full Post »


Last night, I got all Top Chef on this soup recipe.

I made it a bunch of times last year, and it is so delicious.  However, in a stunning act of stupidity, I somehow managed to break my hand blender and I haven’t replaced it.  So, no soup for me!

Instead, I deconstructed it and baked it.  All the ingredients, just wrapped up in a pie crust (the crouton!).  Delicious.

Butternut Squash and Apple Galette

Approximately 5 cups cubed butternut squash
2 apples, peeled and diced into 1/2 inch cubes
2 shallots (I’m sure some onion would work too)
4 ounces shredded smoked cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
Olive oil, salt & pepper
1 pie crust (I use Martha Stewart’s pate brisee – you just need half this recipe)

Preheat the oven to 400.  Place the butternut squash in a baking dish and toss with olive oil and salt and pepper.  Bake for approximately 20-25 minutes, until it just starts to soften and brown.  When it’s done, take it out and turn the heat down to 350.

Meanwhile, saute the shallots or onion in a tablespoon or so of olive oil on medium heat for 3-4 minutes until soft.  Add the apples and saute for another 5 minutes or so.  Add a pat of butter and some salt and pepper and remove from the heat.

Roll out the pie shell to about a 12 inch circle or so, and sprinkle the center with half of the grated cheese, leaving a 2-3 inch or so border all the way around it.  The nice thing about galettes is that no precision is required…think rustic-chic. 

Spread the apple-shallot mixture on top of the cheese.

Toss the butternut squash with a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar.  Then spread the squash down on the gallete.  Finish with the rest of the cheese.

Wrap up the sides and seal everything in.  Gently beat an egg and brush it over the pastry dough.  Bake for 20-25 minutes at 350.



My experiment paid off.  It really did taste like the soup.  It might be a little neater to eat if the squash was mashed up and spread out, but it was good with the chunks.  I think a bit of sage tossed in during the roasting stage would have also been nice, as would replacing some of the squash with parsnip.  In any event, a delicious dinner and would make a lovely vegetarian main course.


Read Full Post »

Amazing Fall Gnocchi

I randomly stumbled upon Liz’s Cooking Blog, where she had a divine looking recipe consisting of gnocchi, butternut squash, sage, and pine nuts. I had all these ingredients on hand the other night, plus I had bacon that I needed to use up. I decided to toss that in too. The result was to die for. Really. I want to make this weekly, it was that good.


1 medium butternut squash
4 cloves garlic, minced
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
Fresh sage leaves
1 package gnocchi
3/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
Grated Parmesan

The original recipe called for an onion, which I didn’t bother with, but I did up the garlic a bit. I probably used fewer pine nuts too.


Heat the oven to 375°. Cut the butternut squash in half and scoop out the strings and seeds the middle cavity. Flip the squash halves upside down and peel them. Cut the squash into 1-inch cubes. Toss with the garlic, a drizzle of olive oil, and salt and pepper. Mince about half of the fresh sage leaves and also toss with the squash.

Spread the squash mixture in a thin layer on a large baking sheet and roast for about 40 minutes or until the squash is soft.

As the squash finishes roasting, chop the bacon into one inch strips and fry in a deep skillet. Once the bacon starts getting crispy, push it to one side of the pan and toss whole sage leaves into the oil. Fry for about a minute, then turn the heat down to low and mix into the bacon. If there is too much oil in the pan at this point, drain off a couple tablespoons.

Remove the butternut squash from the oven and add to the bacon and sage mixture.

Heat salted pasta water to boiling and cook the gnocchi. Before draining the gnocchi, spoon a couple tablespoons of the water into the bacon and squash mixture and stir it, deglazing the pan.
Drain the gnocchi and set aside.
With the heat still on low, add the gnocchi to the bacon and squash mixture. Mix together and add the pine nuts. Serve with grated parmesan cheese.

Read Full Post »


These cupcakes were so good. They are pure Martha Magic. They are not too sweet and incredibly moist. They taste like apple cider. The buttercream works perfectly with them, though they would probably be good on their own with just a dusting of powdered sugar.
To Make the Cupcakes

Makes 2 Dozen
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 cups coarsely shredded apples, such as Macintosh (about 1 3/4 pounds)
I highly recommend shredding the apples first, then cleaning up before you do anything else. I shredded them while the butter and sugar were mixing and my kitchen looked like an orchard threw up on it. Even though I shredded the apples in my Cuisinart, the sticky juice and stray apple shreds got everywhere. While it won’t affect the cupcakes, its better for your sanity.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 standard muffin tins with paper liners; set aside.

Whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in a medium bowl; set aside.

Put butter and sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; mix on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Mix in eggs and vanilla. Reduce speed to low; mix in apples.

Add flour mixture; mix, scraping down sides of bowl as needed, until just combined.

Divide batter among lined cups, filling halfway; bake until tops are springy to the touch, 18 to 20 minutes. Actually, I filled mine more than halfway, but they still came out normal height. Maybe my muffin pans are smaller than Martha’s. I’m not really sure.
Remove cupcakes from tins; transfer to a wire rack; let cool completely.

To Make the Buttercream
Makes about 4 cups
4 large egg whites
1 cup packed light-brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into tablespoons

In a heatproof bowl set over (not in) a pan of simmering water, whisk together egg whites, sugar, and salt. Cook, whisking constantly, until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is warm to the touch.

Transfer to the clean bowl of an electric mixer. Beat on medium speed until fluffy and cooled, about 15 minutes. Raise speed to high; beat until stiff peaks form.

Reduce speed to medium-low; add butter, 2 to 3 tablespoons at a time, until fully incorporated.
This is where I started having problems. I’ve never made buttercream before, so I didn’t realize how tempermental it could be. I learned after the fact that you can overwhip it, causing it to overheat and separate. Apparently if this happens, you can chill it and try rewhipping it. I didn’t do this, because it tasted fine. It just was slightly lumpy and not as smooth and pretty as Martha’s.

If you see lumps, it is not butter that hasn’t been fully incorporated. So stop whipping.
In any event, it still tasted fine, so I frosted the cupcakes. And to try to disguise the lumpy frosting, I sprinkled some pretty fall colored sugar on them. I definitely recommend storing these in the fridge because the frosting won’t really hold up otherwise. You can let them come to room temperature before eating them though.

Read Full Post »

As you know by now, I’m obsessed with putting herbs in desserts. And who doesn’t love lemon tarts? Sage makes it seasonal. Though I’m sure this recipe would be equally good with rosemary or thyme.

The recipe comes from Martha Stewart. It’s somewhat involved, so if you want to make it, plan ahead. I’ll definitely make it again, but with two changes. First, I would not use coarse ground cornmeal, but something more finely ground. The crust had a nice flavor, but it was too grainy with the larger cornmeal flecks in it. Second, I would add a bit more sage. The flavor was there, but it wasn’t very pronounced. Another teaspoon or two would do the trick.

Sage Cornmeal Crust

Makes enough for two 9-inch tarts

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
3/4 cup coarse yellow cornmeal (Don’t do it! Use medium or finely ground.)
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh sage (more if you’d like a stronger sage taste)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
3 large egg yolks
5 tablespoons ice water


Pulse flour, cornmeal, sugar, sage, salt, and lemon zest in a food processor until combined. Add butter; pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal.

Whisk egg yolks and ice water in a small bowl. With machine running, add to flour mixture through feed tube; process until dough just holds together.

Turn out dough onto a work surface. Divide in half, and shape each portion into a disk. Wrap in plastic, and refrigerate 30 minutes (or up to 2 days).
On a lightly floured work surface, roll out 1 disk to a 10-inch round.

Fit into a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom; trim edges flush with rim. Refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour (or up to 1 day). Reserve remaining dough for another use (it can be frozen up to 3 months).

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Prick bottom of tart shell with a fork. Bake until golden brown, about 25 minutes. Let cool.

Lemon Curd

1/4 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
1 tablespoon cold water
6 large egg yolks
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons


Sprinkle gelatin over cold water in a small bowl, and let stand until softened, about 5 minutes.

Whisk together egg yolks, sugar, and salt in a large heatproof bowl. Gradually whisk in lemon juice. Place bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, and whisk constantly until mixture has thickened and registers 160 degrees on an instant-read thermometer. Whisk in gelatin mixture.

Remove from heat, and whisk in butter, a few pieces at a time, until smooth. Let cool, stirring occasionally. Prepare an ice-water bath. Place bowl of yolk mixture over bath, and stir until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes.

Assembling the Tart

Spread curd into crust; smooth top.

Dollop 3 tablespoons of creme fraiche in small drops on top. Using a wooden skewer or the tip of a knife, swirl creme fraiche into curd to create a marbleized effect. Refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours (or up to overnight).

Read Full Post »

Cranberry Sorbet

This sorbet is wonderful, though it didn’t taste how I expected. The recipe on Epicurious said it was “Cranberry and Orange Thyme Sorbet.” You know how obsessed I am with putting herbs in my desserts, so I was really excited to try this. Unfortunately, it has no thyme flavor whatsoever. I used lemon thyme, which may have been the problem. I’ll definitely make it again, but next time I’ll either omit the thyme completely, or use a woodier, stronger tasting thyme. It still tastes delicious and would probably be a nice alternative to heavy Thanksgiving desserts.


12 ounces fresh cranberries
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups water
Thinly sliced zest of 2 oranges (removed with a zester)
8 to 12 3-inch springs fresh thyme, such as orange balsam, lemon, or English thyme(1/2 ounce)
1 1/2 cups freshly squeezed orange juice

I wasn’t paying attention to the recipe closely enough and didn’t have thin orange zests, but rather just removed the peel in a large chunk. So, my sorbet wasn’t really orange-y tasting, but I liked it that way anyway. And, as I said above, I recommend using English thyme if you want the ice cream to pick up the herbal flavor, since the lemon thyme just isn’t flavorful enough.


Bring the cranberries, sugar, water, and orange zest to a boil in a medium (3-quart) saucepan.
Partially cover the pan and boil until most of the cranberries pop, about 5 minutes. Stir in the thyme sprigs, remove from the heat, cover tightly, and steep for 30 minutes.
Pour the fruit mixture into a fine sieve set on top of a deep bowl. Stir and press down on the fruit with the back of a large spoon to extract as much juice and pulp as you can, leaving the skins and thyme behind in the sieve.
Refrigerate the strained mixture until thoroughly chilled. I actually just put the bowl in the fridge with the sieve right over it to let it chill, then pressed again. A fair amount more liquid came out after just letting it sit for a while.
Stir in the orange juice and then pour into an ice cream maker for 30-40 minutes. Freeze for a few more hours and there you have it. Cranberry (and orange and thyme) sorbet.

Read Full Post »

I made this last week for my elections party, and named it “October Surprise.” While the official recipe name is a salsa, it really is more like a bean dip, and it was so delicious that I would probably just eat a bowl of it, like chili.

The recipe comes from the Washington Post. (No, I won’t give up east coast newspapers ever. The San Francisco Chronicle sucks.)

1 1/2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch chunks (may substitute 3/4 pound prepped butternut squash cubes)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
1 medium onion, cut into small dice
1 medium red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 medium cloves garlic, minced
1 small jalapeño pepper, stemmed, seeded and minced
14 to 15 ounces canned, diced no-sodium tomatoes, drained
15 to 19 ounces canned pinto beans, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro leaves
1/4 cup shelled pumpkin seeds, toasted

The recipe also called for a zucchini, diced up, but that sounded disgusting to me, so I left it out. Who wants slimy, watered down zucchini in their salsa/chili? Not me.

The recipe is a labor intensive one, as it involves a lot of chopping, so I highly recommend buying the pre-diced squash, as it will really cut down on prep time. You’ll still have to chop it even smaller, but it does save time.

Position a rack in the middle of the oven; preheat to 400 degrees. Lightly grease a rimmed baking sheet with nonstick cooking oil spray.
Spread the squash cubes in a single layer on the baking sheet. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the oil and toss to coat evenly. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Roast for about 25 minutes, until slightly browned and fork-tender.
When the squash has about 15 minutes of roasting time to go, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion, bell pepper, garlic and jalapeño; cook for about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion is golden.

Add the tomatoes, beans, and cilantro (plus the zucchini if you are using it); cook for about 5 minutes, stirring once or twice.

Add the roasted squash and stir to incorporate; cook for 5 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.

At this point, the salsa can be transferred to a slow cooker to keep warm, or it can be cooled completely, covered and refrigerated for up to 3 days. Just before serving, sprinkle the pumpkin seeds on top of the salsa.

Read Full Post »

The one produce item that seems in short supply here on the west coast is cranberries. Being a Massachusetts native, I love me some cranberry sauce, so this has been distressing. I’ve been searching for these things for a month now, since they are widely available on the east coast in late September. They finally appeared in my neighborhood grocery store this morning, much to my relief. They were a little banged up from their cross country journey, but they worked. I’m amazed that cranberries don’t seem to be grown out here. Don’t they have bogs in California?

Pomegranates, however, do seem to be particularly plentiful around here. Two were included in our farm share box last week, so I set out looking for fun ways to use them. I think that I once saw pomegranate cranberry sauce in a magazine – probably Food and Wine or maybe Martha – but I can’t remember where, and pretty much just made this one up. It turned out delicious, and, like all cranberry sauce recipes, it is incredibly easy to make.

Pomegranate Cranberry Sauce

1 bag of cranberries (about a pound)
Seeds from 1/2 of a pomegranate
Juice from 1 orange + enough water to make 1 cup of liquid
2/3 cup of sugar
1 tablespoon of pomegranate molasses

I found the molasses at a speciality Spanish and mediterrean grocery store. If you can’t track any down, I’d substitute pomegranate juice for the water, and possibly reduce the sugar to a half cup or so. Honestly, it’s kind of hard to screw up cranberry sauce, once you know the basic recipe is 1 bag of cranberries, 1 cup of water, and 1 cup of sugar, so just work with what you’ve got and just adjust the amount of sugar based on what liquid you use and your own personal preference.


Put the cranberries, juice, water, sugar, and pomegranate molasses in a pot and bring to a boil.

Simmer for 8 minutes or so, then add the pomegranate seeds.

Simmer for an additional 2 minutes, then let the sauce completely cool to thicken.

That’s it. That is how easy it is to make homemade cranberry sauce. Yum.

Read Full Post »

We had a few friends over last week and I prepared a few quick little munchies for the event. These two dishes were quick and elegant and incredibly tasty. Both come from old issues of Food and Wine.

2 garlic cloves, sliced
Olive oil
12 sage leaves plus 1 tablespoon chopped sage
2 cups raw cashews


In a medium skillet, fry sliced garlic cloves in olive oil until lightly golden. Add sage leaves and chopped sage to the skillet and cook until crisp; drain on paper towels. Add raw cashews to the skillet and cook, stirring, until golden; drain on paper towels. Toss with the garlic, sage and salt. Let cool, then serve.

The best part about this was the little crispy whole sage leaves. When I do this again, I will definitely be increasing the amount of sage – doubling or tripling it. The sage shrinks up during the frying process and the intense flavor really mellows, so I think you can get away with as much sage as you’d like.


1 cup crème fraîche
3 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
3 tablespoons snipped chives
2 tablespoons finely chopped tarragon
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Kosher salt

In a bowl, whisk the crème fraîche with the parsley, chives and tarragon. Whisk in the lemon juice and season well with salt.

The recipe recommends serving it with radishes and blanched asparagus, though I subbed raw baby carrots for the asparagus. The carrots were fine, though the dip was perfect with the radishes. It’s a very cool, creamy dip and it is a perfect compliment to the peppery radishes.

Read Full Post »

Tis the season for yummy soups.

This week’s box had apples in it, and Trader Joes had butternut squash on sale, so I took that as an omen that I needed to make a nice fall soup. This recipe from Food and Wine is amazing.

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, halved and thinly sliced
3/4 cup apple cider
One 1 3/4-pound butternut squash—peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch dice (5 1/4 cups)
4 1/2 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth
1/2 cup heavy cream
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 McIntosh apple, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1/3 cup coarsely shredded smoked cheddar cheese (2 ounces)
One-inch pieces of chives or thinly sliced sage leaves, for garnish

My grocery store didn’t have any decent cider, so I just used high quality, fresh apple juice instead. As for the apples, I think next time, I will peel them first because the skin just created texture issues that I didn’t really like. And, even if you don’t like smoked cheeses, I really recommend trying this with the smoked cheddar and not swapping it out for something more mild. It has a very pungent smell and taste on its own, but it mellows out in the soup and compliments the sweetness of the apples and squash beautifully.


In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil. Add the onion and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 8 minutes. Add the apple cider and cook until syrupy, about 3 minutes. Add the butternut squash and chicken stock and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer until the squash is very tender, about 40 minutes.

In a blender, puree the soup in batches. Return the soup to the saucepan and stir in the cream. Season with salt and pepper and keep warm.
Heat a medium skillet. Add the butter and diced apple and cook over high heat until the apple is tender and golden around the edges, about 2 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat. Season lightly with salt and pepper.
Ladle the soup into warmed bowls and garnish with the smoked cheddar and sautéed apples. The recipe suggests garnishing with fresh thyme or sage. Instead, I made homemade croutons by roughly chopping some crusty bread, tossing with a bit of olive oil, sea salt, and pepper, and baking at 350 for 20 minutes.

Yum. This really is the perfect fall soup.

Read Full Post »