Archives for category: Fall

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This soup really hits the spot on a crisp fall day. I’m glad I overstuffed my bike bag at the coop to get in that head of cauliflower. The lemon zest adds just the right contrast to this smooth and creamy (but vegan) dish. Pair with a chunk of sourdough bread or salad to round out the meal.

(If I make this again I’d like to add some finely grated fresh ginger, at the same point as when you add the lemon zest and juice.)

Lemony Carrot and Cauliflower Soup
adapted from Melissa Clark

1 tablespoon coriander seeds
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, more for serving
1 large white onion, peeled and diced (2 cups)
2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
5 medium carrots (1 pound), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (2 cups)
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, more as needed
6 c low-sodium vegetable stock or water (I used water + a vegetable bouillon cube)
3 tablespoons white miso
1 small (or half of a large) head cauliflower, trimmed and cut into florets
Zest from 1 lemon
2 tablespoons lemon juice, more to taste
Smoky chile powder, for serving
Coarse sea salt, for serving
Cilantro leaves, for serving

In a large, dry pot over medium heat, toast coriander seeds until fragrant and dark golden-brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a mortar and pestle and coarsely crush.

Return the pot to medium heat. Add the oil and heat until warm. Stir in onion; cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and lightly colored, 7 to 10 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook 1 minute.

Add carrots, crushed coriander, salt and 6 cups water (or stock) to the pot. Stir in the miso until it dissolves. Bring mixture to a simmer and cook, uncovered, 5 minutes. Stir in cauliflower and cook, covered, over medium-low heat until the vegetables are very tender, about 10 minutes.

Remove the soup from the heat. Using an immersion blender, purée the soup until smooth. (You can also use a regular blender, just let the soup cool.) If necessary, return the puréed soup to the heat to warm through. Stir in the lemon zest and juice just before serving. Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with chile, sea salt and cilantro leaves.

Serves 6.

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Below are some pics from the past week. A butterfly outside my local coffee shop this weekend; below that one of Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Rooms at David Zwirner; and below that, two photos from Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. I’m working with them on a book so got to spend the day and night in the new wing of their museum, designed by Renzo Piano. Check out those orchids in their greenhouse!

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I could not get through the fall without posting about something or other involving pumpkin now could I?

I remember when, for about a month one fall during college, it was de rigueur in the shared house I lived in to make various versions of milkshakes with pumpkin pie. That’s right. Just toss a slice of pumpkin pie into the blender with your milk, ice cream, and whatever else you wanted whirling around in there. I was not a participant in this particular culinary extracurricular (I may have missed out), but I do like a) eating lots of pumpkin in things this time of year and b) a sense of adventure when it comes to new food combinations.

The following is a simple and not overly sweet recipe for loaf bread (or muffins if you’d prefer) that my mom shared with me earlier this month when I was visiting her in North Carolina. It does not involve pie or ice cream or a blender, but is super easy to make, can employ many substitutions to suit what you have on hand, and makes for a great breakfast spread with a thin layer of peanut butter (but that’s just me).

Instead of olive oil, which my mom’s recipe called for, I made it with coconut oil this time and it turned out great. For the 1/2 cup sugar (the original recipe called for 1 cup, I’ve reduced by half and it’s just right in my opinion), you could use honey, maple syrup, white sugar, brown sugar. This version I made with brown sugar. And as for the spices, up to you. This time I used pumpkin pie spice because it contains ginger and lemon peel in addition to nutmeg, cinnamon, and allspice. If you’re gluten free I imagine you could use a gf flour here. And next time I’d like to try chopped walnuts or dark chocolate chips. I can’t decide. (Maybe I should just throw it all in a blender.)

I brought the cake into work this morning and it got gobbled up pretty quickly. I managed to snap this pic of it before it was all gone.

[An aside: I'd love to try this recipe from Minimalist Baker for vegan pumpkin bread, with a pumpkin cashew frosting.]

Pumpkin Spice Bread

1 1/2 c flour
1/2 c sugar (could be brown sugar, maple syrup, etc.)
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (or 1/2 tsp each allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon)
1/2 tsp salt
1 c pumpkin puree
1/2 olive oil (or coconut oil)
1/4 c water
2 large eggs, beaten
1/2 c chopped walnuts, optional (or chocolate chips, pecans, cranberries, etc.)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Grease and flour a loaf pan or muffin tins. Set aside.

Sift together the dry ingredients in a medium bowl. In a separate, large bowl, mix all the wet ingredients together. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and gently combine. (Add the nuts, chocolate chips, etc. at this point if you’re using.) Be careful not to over mix. Transfer to the loaf pan or muffin tins and bake for 45–50 minutes if using a loaf pan; less if muffins (my guess would be 20–25 minutes, just keep your eye on them). They’re done when a thin skewer or toothpick comes out clean. Rest in the pan for 10 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool.

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Fall and baking go together like birthdays and cupcakes; Brooklyn and BAM; your right and left shoe. Or, turns out, pears and polenta.

As soon as the weather turns crisp I want to be in my kitchen on a Saturday with the oven on, music playing (well, really, NPR Saturday programming), and time on my hands to knead, stir, blend, bake. There’s something comforting and satisfying about making pies, cakes, and muffins using the last of the year’s good local produce.

A few weeks ago I was at a dinner party and my lovely friend served this easy-to-make polenta-pear-olive oil cake. She couldn’t have known, but those are three of my favorite ingredients and the combination was a revelation. I’ve had olive oil cake before, and maybe even cornmeal olive oil cake, but never with the addition of pear. The olive oil produces a crispy crust-like top that provides a satisfying crunch.

The recipe is from Lucy Waverman—”the Melissa Clark of Canada” is how my friends, the dinner party hosts who are from Montreal, described her. She writes a regular column for The Globe and Mail newspaper and I’m happy to have discovered her simple and seasonal recipes!

This is a snap to make and you’re sure to love it. It’s not too sweet to begin with but you could even reduce the sugar a little bit like I did. Would also make great muffins, just reduce the cooking time. Oh and if you don’t want to poach your own pears you can use canned pears and just reduce the canned pear syrup.

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Polenta, Pear & Olive Oil Cake
From Lucy Waverman, The Globe & Mail

For the poached pears

1 cup water
½ cup sugar
¼ cup honey
1 star anise, broken up, optional
1 1-inch piece cinnamon stick
2 pears, peeled, quartered and cored

For the cake

1¼ cup polenta or cornmeal
¾ cup all-purpose flour [I used half whole-wheat flour and half white]
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup butter, softened
¼ cup honey
1/3 cup sugar [I used 1/4 cup sugar]
½ teaspoon vanilla
2 whole eggs plus 1 egg yolk
3 tablespoons olive oil

For the poached pears:

Combine water, sugar, honey, star anise and cinnamon stick in a small pot and bring to boil. Add pears. Simmer gently for 15 to 20 minutes or until tender and a knife slides in easily. Remove from heat and let cool in poaching liquid. Remove from pot, reserving ½ cup poaching liquid. Chop pears and pat dry with a paper towel.

Preheat oven to 325 F.

For the cake:

Butter and flour a loaf pan and line the base with parchment paper.

Combine polenta, flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Reserve.

Cream together butter, honey and sugar until light and fluffy. Add vanilla. Add eggs and yolk one at a time, beating well between each addition. Add reserved flour mixture and mix together until just combined. Stir in olive oil and fold in chopped poached pears.

Pour batter into prepared loaf pan and bake for 50 to 55 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes and remove from pan.

While cake is cooling, reduce reserved pear poaching liquid over medium heat for 5 minutes or until thick and syrupy.

Prick holes in warm cake and brush liberally with syrup.

This time last year I made these: Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls and Rustic Harvest Tart.

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