Tag Archives: Fall

Classic Gingerbread

Classic Gingerbread

Yesterday I shared a once-a-year show-stopper of a holiday cake, and no lie – it takes some time and effort. Also, it kind of makes a mess. All worth it for an appropriate occasion, yes, but a mess nonetheless. Today’s cake is the complete opposite. This cake gets made in no time, uses a minimal amount of utensils and dishes, doesn’t need any frosting, and yet may be one of my favorite cakes I’ve eaten in a long time.

Classic Gingerbread

This is real gingerbread, yo. Old-school, classic, old-fashioned, straight-up gingerbread that offers no apologies for being what it is. Gingerbread is a very assertive cake with strong, in-your-face flavors and not a ton of sweetness. A lot of times, it gets watered down and all but changed in favor of a sweeter, lightly spiced cake calling itself gingerbread.

Classic Gingerbread

Not this version here. The spices are rightly heavy-handed, the molasses flavor is thick and musky as it should be, and the sweetness merely waves from the back row. I found it completely delicious and utterly satisfying. Perfect for a last-minute Christmas dessert. Enjoy!

Classic Gingerbread

Source: The Homesick Texan’s Family Table by Lisa Fain

Ingredients:
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, beaten
1 cup molasses
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
½ tsp kosher salt
½ cup warm water
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting the cake
Orange zest, for garnish

Directions:
Preheat your oven to 350 F. Lightly grease a 9-inch square baking dish.
Cream together the butter and sugar. Add the egg and molasses and beat until smooth and well combined. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cloves, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and beat until just combined. Stir in the warm water until smooth. Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish.
Bake, uncovered, for 25 to 30 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Be sure not to overcook it, as it will harden a bit as it cools.
While the cake is still warm, sift confectioners’ sugar over the top, as much or as little as you desire, then sprinkle evenly with the orange zest. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Pecan Pie Cake

Pecan Pie Cake

While I’m all about pies for Thanksgiving, the Christmas season always screams “CAKE!!!” to me. Not sure why, probably some unexplored childhood thing lying deep in my subconscious; whatever it is, it bothers no one, myself included, so I’ll likely keep baking cakes every December.

Much of the time the month of December is harried and I want simple cakes that can be thrown together quickly and still taste amazing (such a cake coming to you tomorrow!). But the holiday season does deserve at least one real show-stopper of a cake, doesn’t it? Obviously I think so.

Pecan Pie Cake

Here we have pecan pie being transformed into a very tall, generously frosted layer cake here. Let me warn/tell you, this baby is RICH! Like, I only ate three bites at a time, rich. Like, make sure there are at least twenty teeth brushings between your last bite of this cake and your next dentist’s appointment. This is most definitely a once-a-year-only cake, but for that one time a year, it is so worth it.

Pecan Pie Cake

It tastes just as advertised – all the flavors and textures of pecan pie, but it’s clearly cake! Extremely delicious and festive, and totally worth the effort. Your family and guests will think so anyways. Enjoy!

Pecan Pie Cake

Source: Taste of the South Special Collector’s Issue: Southern Christmas, December 2015

Ingredients:

CAKE:
1 ½ cups toasted pecans, finely chopped
1 ½ cups unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
2 ½ cup firmly packed brown sugar
4 large eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 ¼ cups whole milk
1 tbs vanilla extract
Coarsely chopped pecans for garnish

PECAN PIE FILLING:
1 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup dark corn syrup (you can substitute 1/3 cup light corn syrup and 1/3 cup sorghum syrup)
5 tbs unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 large eggs
1 ½ cups chopped pecans
1 tsp vanilla extract

BROWN SUGAR FROSTING:
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/3 cup water
½ tsp salt
2 cups unsalted butter, softened and divided
7 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar
1 to 3 tbs whole milk, as needed

Directions:
First make the CAKE: preheat your oven to 350 F. Grease 3 (9-inch) round cake pans with cooking spray. Line the bottoms of the pans with parchment paper, then spray the parchment with cooking spray. Sprinkle ½ cup chopped pecans in each prepared pan.
In a large bowl, beat butter and brown sugar at medium speed with a mixer until fluffy, 3-4 minutes. Scrape the side of the bowl as needed. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add flour mixture to butter mixture in thirds, alternating with milk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture, beating until just combined after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Divided batter evenly among the prepared cake pans, smoothing the tops.
Bake until a cake tester or wooden skewer inserted into the center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool in the pans completely.
Meanwhile, make the PECAN PIE FILLING: in a medium saucepan, stir together the sugar, corn syrup, melted butter, eggs, pecans, and vanilla. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer, stirring constantly, until thickened, 6 to 8 minutes. Let cool to room temperature before using.
Now make the BROWN SUGAR FROSTING: in a small saucepan, bring brown sugar, 1/3 cup water, and salt to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until sugar dissolves, approximately 2 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in ½ cup butter until it melts. Let cool completely.
In a large bowl, beat cooled brown sugar mixture and remaining 1 ½ cups softened butter at medium speed with a mixer until creamy. With mixer on low speed, gradually add the confectioners’ sugar, beating until combined. If needed, add milk, 1 tbs at a time, until the frosting is spreadable consistency. I didn’t need any milk.
Assemble the cake: place one cake on a cake plate and spread half the Pecan Pie Filling on top. Top with a second layer of cake, then spread the remaining half of the Pecan Pie Filling on top. Place the third cake on top, and then frost the entire top and sides of the cake with the Brown Sugar Frosting. Sprinkle the top of the frosted cake with the chopped pecans for garnish, if desired.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Maple and Pecan

Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Maple and Pecan

With less than two weeks to go until December 25th, I’m guessing that most of us are starting to think about menu planning – I know I definitely am. Here I’m offering up a side dish we should all consider serving for our holiday meal. It’s easy, it’s unexpected, and of course, it’s delicious.

This is one of those side dishes you sit down to eat and don’t think much of, until you realize you have been ignoring those around you and absolutely scarfing it for the past five minutes. And then you wonder how uncouth it would be to take seconds of it even though you’ve touched nothing else on your plate. I really can’t say enough good things about it.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Maple and Pecan

I absolutely loved the mixture of the savory, grassy herbs with the sweetness of the potatoes and the maple syrup. The crunch of the pecans lends a needed contrast with the softness of the sweet potatoes, and truth be told, I wasn’t sure how to feel about leaving the skin on the potatoes until I tasted it; rest assured, it’s wonderful. Interesting, unexpected, and balances out the sweet notes with a little bit of “roughness”.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Maple and Pecan

Highly, highly recommend this one. Enjoy!

Source: Ottolenghi: The Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi

Ingredients:
2 medium to large sweet potatoes
3 tbs olive oil
4 tbs pecans
4 scallions, thinly sliced
4 tbs fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
2 tbs fresh cilantro, chopped
¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
4 tbs dried cranberries
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste

DRESSING:
4 tbs olive oil
2 tbs maple syrup
1 tbs sherry vinegar
1 tbs lemon juice
2 tbs orange juice
1 scant tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground cinnamon
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste

Directions:
Preheat your oven to 375 F. Do not peel the sweet potatoes! Wash them, dry them, then cut them into ¾-inch cubes. Spread them out on a baking sheet and drizzle with the olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste and mix well with your hands. Roast in the oven for 30 minutes, shaking the pan well about halfway through.
On a separate baking sheet, toast the pecans for 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and chop coarsely.
Make the DRESSING: whisk together the dressing ingredients in a small bowl, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.
When the potatoes are done, transfer them to a large bowl while still hot. Add the scallions, parsley, cilantro, pepper flakes, pecans, and cranberries. Pour the dressing over and toss gently to coat (you may not need all the dressing!). Season to taste, then serve at once or at room temperature. It’s even pretty good leftover and cold.

Chocolate Cupcakes with Pumpkin Buttercream Frosting

Chocolate Cupcakes with Pumpkin Buttercream Frosting

Yeah, so last week. I mean, doesn’t the presence of Thanksgiving alone provide enough craziness? But oh no, the universe apparently decided that I needed so much more. The week began with a water main break in my city, and our water was off for two days. When it (weakly!) returned, it came with a boil notice that city officials probably lifted a tad too soon, because I got very sick on Thursday!

Chocolate Cupcakes with Pumpkin Buttercream Frosting

So in all the mayhem, I ended up neglecting the blog. I totally meant to share this superlative little dessert last week – pre-Thanksgiving, when it’s still socially acceptable to blog pumpkin desserts, but this recipe is so spectacular that it simply can’t wait another year. A small food blogging faux pas will likely be forgiven once you taste these.

I actually made these cupcakes mostly on a whim. A couple years ago I made and blogged a pumpkin cupcake with chocolate cream cheese frosting, which were quite lovely; so this year I impulsively decided to reverse the cupcakes and see if a chocolate cupcake with pumpkin buttercream worked just as well.

Chocolate Cupcakes with Pumpkin Buttercream Frosting

Possibly even better, I must say! I’ve made this three times in the past week, to overwhelming raves each time. The cupcakes are chocolate-y and tender and soft, with a not-too-sweet and earthy frosting capping them off. So delicious, and I personally think it’s still an acceptable time of year to enjoy these.

A note about the frosting. The first time I made them, I piped on the frosting with a plain pastry bag tip (not the star tip), and two problems emerged. One, they were over-frosted in the sense that I ran out on cupcake #19 (of 24), and two, the frosting looked like the poop emoji. So I used a small spatula to smooth it out and it looked much nicer. When I made it again, I skipped the pastry bag and had plenty of frosting for all 24 cupcakes. If you want the frosting piled high on all 24 cupcakes, I’d increase the recipe by 1 ½.

Chocolate Cupcakes with Pumpkin Buttercream Frosting

Source: cupcakes from Homemade with Love by Jennifer Perillo; frosting from In Jennie’s Kitchen

Ingredients:

CUPCAKES:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
½ cup cocoa powder
2 large eggs
2/3 cup canola oil
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup whole milk

FROSTING:
2 sticks butter, softened
1/2 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
½ tsp ground cinnamon, plus a little extra for garnish, if desired
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 ½ cups confectioner’s sugar

Directions:
First make the CUPCAKES: preheat your oven to 350 F. Line 2 (12 cup) muffin tins with liners and set aside.
Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cocoa in a medium bowl. Add the egg, oil, and sugar to a large bowl and whisk briskly until thick and creamy, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Stir in the vanilla and milk. Add the dry ingredients, and whisk until just combined.
Evenly spoon the batter into the prepared tins. Bake until a metal skewer or cake tester comes out clean, 15 to 17 minutes. Let the cupcakes cool in the pan for 2 minutes, then transfer them to a cooling rack and cool completely before frosting them.
When the cupcakes have cooled, make the FROSTING: place the butter in a large mixing bowl. Using a hand or stand mixer, beat until airy and creamy, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the pumpkin, cinnamon, and vanilla extract; beat until well combined.
With the mixer on low speed, slowly sprinkle in one third of the sugar. Beat until well combined. Stop the mixer, and scrape down the sides. Repeat with the remaining sugar. Once all of the sugar has been added, beat the frosting on high speed for 2 minutes.
Frost the cooled cupcakes, and if desired, sprinkle each cupcake with a tad bit of ground cinnamon.

Turducken Lasagna

Turducken Lasagna

Every year, I love roasting a turkey for the blog sometime in early November. And this year was no exception. Unfortunately, this year, the turkey did not love me back! First of all, I tried a newfangled type of stuffing-something-flavorful-under-the-skin technique featuring sausage and polenta. Don’t do this. The polenta is not firm enough to stay there.

Turducken Lasagna

Secondly, spatchcocking turkey, also known as butterflying, seems to be all the rage this year, so I thought I’d give it a go. Just, no. If you go this direction, please have your butcher do it. I nearly ruined my kitchen shears and no matter what I did I couldn’t properly break the breast bone. A completely useless waste of time.

Turducken Lasagna

So the bad news is that I have no turkey to share with you this year. The good news is that I’m offering you a main dish alternative for your Thanksgiving Day dinner for those of you who have tired of roasting birds and want a new spin on things.

Turducken Lasagna

This is a play on that freakish concoction otherwise known as Turducken, a scary monstrosity created by wrapping a chicken inside of a duck inside of a turkey. Honestly, it’s never appealed to me in the least. I just can’t. But lasagna – lasagna I can! This is one of the better-tasting and more special lasagnas I’ve made. It begins with equal parts of ground turkey, ground duck, and ground chicken that makes a flavorful, interesting and pleasantly gamey meat sauce that becomes part of a pretty traditional Italian style lasagna. We were so in love. Seriously, no one would miss a turkey if you served this on Thanksgiving.

Turducken Lasagna

A few recipe notes: it doesn’t matter what cut of duck you grind. Just grind the fat and skin along with the meat (or have your butcher do it). Use all dark turkey and chicken meat, or at least a combination of dark and white. All-white meat grinds will be too dry. I hope you enjoy it!

Source: slightly adapted from Harold Dieterle’s Kitchen Notebook by Harold Dieterle

Ingredients:
2 tbs olive oil
8 oz. ground turkey
8 oz. ground duck (any parts)
8 oz. ground chicken
Kosher salt and black pepper
1 large Spanish onion, minced
10 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbs fennel seeds
1 tbs crushed red pepper flakes
28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
15 oz. can crushed tomatoes
28 oz. can tomato puree
15 oz. can tomato puree
Leaves from 1 bunch of basil, loosely torn
1 lb. mozzarella cheese, grated
1 lb. provolone cheese, grated
1 cup grated pecorino romano cheese
1 to 1 1/2 lbs. no-boil lasagna noodles
3 lbs. ricotta cheese

Directions:
First, make the sauce. Heat the oil in a large, high-sided skillet or saucepan over high heat. When the oil is shimmering, add the ground turkey, duck, and chicken and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring and breaking up the meat, until the meat is lightly browned and no traces of pink remain, about 6 minutes. Transfer the meat to a plate.
Add the onion, garlic, fennel, and red pepper flakes to the pan and cook, stirring, until the onion is softened but not browned, about 2 minutes. Return the meat to the pan and stir in all the crushed tomatoes and all the tomato puree. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Bring the sauce to a simmer, then continue to simmer for 40 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the basil.
Now assemble the lasagna: preheat your oven to 350 F. Place the mozzarella, provolone, and pecorino in a bowl and fold them together. Ladle one-quarter of the sauce into the bottom of a very large lasagna pan, spreading it to all the corners.
Top with a layer of noodles, breaking to fit if necessary. Spread about one-quarter of the ricotta over the noodles, then about one-quarter of the mozzarella cheese mixture. Repeat, starting with the sauce, three more times, and finishing with the mozzarella mixture. Grind black pepper over the top of the lasagna. Cover with aluminum foil, then bake until the cheese is melted and bubbly and you can pierce the center of the lasagna easily with a paring knife, about 45 minutes. Remove the foil and return to the oven to bake until the cheese starts to brown, about 5 more minutes. Remove the lasagna from the oven and set aside to rest for 20 minutes. Slice and serve.

Bourbon Mint Cranberry Sauce

Bourbon Mint Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry sauce. That classic Thanksgiving staple that I just couldn’t abide as a child. Cranberries were WAY too tart for my little unsophisticated palate back then. But even as I began coming around on cranberries in general (which, to be perfectly candid, began rather unglamorously by drinking Cape Cods in my early twenties), I still eschewed the traditional cranberry sauce because I just didn’t see the point.

Bourbon Mint Cranberry Sauce

bourbon mint cranberry sauce

I mean, you have gravy for the turkey – what’s the purpose behind the cranberry sauce?? A few years ago, I gave in. Now I alternate bites of turkey with gravy and cranberry sauce, because let’s face it – cranberry sauce is just really, really delicious.

Bourbon Mint Cranberry Sauce

While I will never turn down good ol’ regular cranberry sauce, if you add bourbon, I’ll love you even more. This stuff was outstanding. Less sweet than usual (though of course feel free to add as much sugar as you like), with a wonderful stiff alcohol-y bite, tempered by the mint flavor. Possibly my favorite cranberry sauce to date, and in another week I will have a VERY special post for you using up the leftovers. I’m so excited to share that one with you!! In the meantime, give this one a go next Thursday. I promise it will be a big hit. Enjoy!

Bourbon Mint Cranberry Sauce

Source: Fine Cooking Magazine, Oct/Nov 2015

Ingredients:
1 ½ lbs. fresh cranberries
1 ¼ cups granulated sugar, plus more to taste if desired
1/3 cup bourbon
5 big sprigs of fresh mint
Pinch of kosher salt

Directions:
Put the cranberries, sugar, bourbon, mint, salt, and ½ cup water in a 4-quart saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves and many of the cranberries pop, about 20 minutes. Taste and add more sugar if you want and cook until dissolved. Cool to room temperature and remove the mint sprigs.
Refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 2 days. Return to room temperature before serving.

Jamaican Spiced Pumpkin Pie

Jamaican Spiced Pumpkin Pie

It’s come to my attention that there are people out there who find pumpkin pie boring. Um… what?? This just doesn’t compute in my brain. I’m too big of a lover, and obsessor, and outright fiend for the Thanksgiving staple to truly comprehend this notion. Since I graduated college, not a November has gone by that I didn’t bake one.

Jamaican Spiced Pumpkin Pie

Nowadays I try out different types of pumpkin pie recipes – flirting with different toppings and flavors in the batter. This year, we’re dreaming of the Caribbean. This is a usual pumpkin pie batter, with a few little twists: the sweetened condensed milk is replaced with coconut milk; spiced rum is added in; and there is more ground ginger than ground cinnamon.

Jamaican Spiced Pumpkin Pie

The result is one of deliciousness. This particular pumpkin pie was a touch spicy from the ginger, and had a hint of coconut flavor from the milk. Yet it had all the familiar qualities I love about pumpkin pie – the comforting, warm flavors, the deep cinnamon, the flaky crust.

If you are one of those who have gotten a bit tired of regular pumpkin pie, give this lovely version a try. It might surprise you!

Jamaican Spiced Pumpkin Pie

You might also like: Pumpkin Pie, Completely From Scratch; and Pecan Praline Topped Pumpkin Pie

Source: Fine Cooking Magazine, October/November 2009

Ingredients:
1 unbaked pie crust, fitted into a 9” pie plate, edges fluted or crimped, chilled
1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
1 ¼ cups unsweetened coconut milk, full fat only, stirred or shaken well before using
¾ cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp ground ginger
¾ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp kosher salt
1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
4 large eggs, at room temperature
2 tbs spiced rum (I used Captain Morgan’s)

Directions:
Position a rack in the center of your oven and preheat to 425 F. Line the chilled pie crust with parchment paper and fill it with pie weights or dried beans. Bake 15 minutes. Remove the parchment and pie weights. Reduce the oven temperature to 375 F. Bake the pie until the bottom looks dry but isn’t quite done and the edges are light golden, 5 to 7 minutes. Let cool on a rack while you prepare the filling.
Raise the oven temperature back to 425 F. Set a heavy-duty rimmed baking sheet on the center rack and leave it there while you make the filling.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk the pumpkin, coconut milk, sugar, ginger, cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg until smooth. Whisk in the eggs and then the rum, until the mixture is smooth. Pour the filling into the pie crust.
Put the pie on the heated baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes and then reduce the oven temperature to 350 F. Bake until the center of the pie no longer wobbles when the pie is nudged – the center should be jiggly but not liquidy, an additional 45 to 55 minutes.
Transfer the pie to a rack and cool completely before serving.

Apple Walnut Slab Pie

Apple Walnut Slab Pie

Did you know that a half-sheet pan and a jelly roll pan are NOT the same thing? They’re not. Definitely not. I learned this the hard way when I tried my first slab pie a couple weeks ago.

Apple Walnut Slab Pie

Since tis the season, I went with apples for the filling. I made the biggest hunk of pie crust I think ever in my life, chilled it, then proceeded to roll it out. I rolled, and I rolled, and then rolled some more, but I knew even before I transferred it to the half-sheet pan that it wasn’t going to fit. I tried stretching it to fit, but no matter what I did, I couldn’t get it to hang over the sides of the pan without ripping it.

Apple Walnut Slab Pie

And then I rolled out the second, smaller piece of dough, and no matter what I did, I couldn’t get it to meet the bottom crust. So the filling stuck out from the crusts about a quarter of an inch all around. Not great.

Apple Walnut Slab Pie

Thanks to Google, that all-knowing internet being I should have consulted in the first place, I learned that a jelly roll pan is a little smaller, and that’s what you’re supposed to use for slab pies. Amazon Prime got some prompt business from me, and we tried this again. And isn’t it so interesting, that when you use the right pan, slab pie is not difficult at all! So many facepalms…

Apple Walnut Slab Pie

Yes, please don’t repeat my dumb mistakes: make sure you are using the correct pan. You need a jelly roll pan, which will be labeled as such. They are 15×10 inches. If you don’t have one, they aren’t expensive and are totally worth it just to make this pie. It was hideously, fiendishly, unfairly delicious. Enjoy!

Apple Walnut Slab Pie

Source: this is an apple version of Martha Stewart’s Slab Pie, found via Food52

Ingredients:

CRUST:
5 cups all purpose flour
1 tbs kosher salt
2 tsp granulated sugar
1 pound (4 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
4 tsp cider vinegar
12 to 16 tbs ice water

FILLING:
7 medium to large Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, sliced
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground allspice
Juice of 1/2 a lemon (about 1 tablespoon)
1/4 tsp kosher salt
5 oz. toasted walnuts, rough chopped

1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup turbinado or other raw sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Directions:
First, make the CRUST: in a very large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and sugar. Add in the cubed butter and use a pastry cutter or 2 knives to cut the fat into the flour until the mixture is sandy and the butter is the size of small peas. Add the vinegar, then drizzle in the water. Use a rubber spatula to stir the dough together, using as few strokes as possible. When the dough has mostly come together, use your hands to knead the last straggly bits into the mound of dough. Divide the dough into two pieces with one slightly larger than the other. Think of a 60-40 split. Wrap both pieces of dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least one hour.
For the FILLING: preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the larger piece of dough to an 18-by-13-inch rectangle. Fit into a 15-by-10-inch rimmed jelly roll baking sheet, pressing into corners (pastry will hang over sides). Chill while assembling filling.
In a large bowl, stir together the apples, granulated sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, allspice, lemon juice, salt, and walnuts. Spread this mixture over the chilled pie shell. Chill again while you roll out the top crust.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out remaining piece of dough to a 16-by-11-inch rectangle; drape over the filling. Fold the edge of bottom dough over top dough. Crimp if desired. Prick the top dough all over with a fork. Brush entire surface of pie with the beaten egg (thinned with a little water if necessary). Mix the turbinado and cinnamon together and sprinkle evenly over the top crust.
Bake until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbling, 40 to 55 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack, and let pie cool until it is just warm to the touch, about 45 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature, cut into 12 pieces. Slab pie is best eaten the same day it is baked, but it can be kept at room temperature, loosely covered with plastic wrap, for up to 2 days.

Amaretto Butternut Squash Soup with Cinnamon-Toast Croutons

Amaretto Butternut Squash Soup with Cinnamon-Toast Croutons

When it comes to soups, I highly prefer chunky soups over the pureed variety. I need something to chew with each spoonful. Pureed soups often don’t do it for me, with one major exception: butternut squash soup. It’s one of my fall season favorites, and I try out a different recipe every year.

I have one hard-and-fast, persnickety rule: it can’t be too sweet. Butternut squash is inherently sweet, so I firmly believe it doesn’t need any help in that department, and in fact could use a little bit of “hindrance” from decidedly savory ingredients. My favorite things to put into butternut squash soup are ingredients like bacon, parmesan, bitter greens, smoked cheese and the like. Cubes of bread roasted with a liberal amount of cinnamon sugar has never topped the list. Until now, that is.

Amaretto Butternut Squash Soup with Cinnamon-Toast Croutons

I know I’ll fail at adequately explaining to you how delicious this soup combination is, but suffice it to say, outstanding is a mild understatement. The soup itself was incredibly tasty and well-rounded and really let the squash’s flavor shine. The cinnamon-sugar croutons were something I’d happily make just to snack on by themselves. Using earthy multi-grain bread ensures the sweetness is somewhat tempered; and yet it fondly reminded me of the cinnamon toast my mom would make us for breakfast when I was little.

But I think the best part of this meal comes when you top your soup with an embarrassing amount of croutons: some of the cinnamon sugar migrates from the croutons to float around in and richly flavor your soup, and it just tastes so amazing! So perfect. Enjoy!

Amaretto Butternut Squash Soup with Cinnamon-Toast Croutons

Source: Seriously Delish by Jessica Merchant

Ingredients:

CROUTONS:
2 cups multigrain bread cubes, preferably a bit stale
1-2 tbs olive oil
4 tsp granulated sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon

SOUP:
2 tbs olive oil
2 tbs unsalted butter
1 medium yellow onion, diced
Kosher salt, to taste
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 tbs amaretto
4 cups peeled and cubed butternut squash
4 cups low-sodium vegetable stock
½ cup heavy cream or half-and-half
Black pepper, to taste
2 scallions, thinly sliced, for garnish
Chopped toasted pecans, for garnish (optional)

Directions:
First make the CROUTONS: preheat your oven to 400 F. Place the bread cubes in a large bowl and toss with olive oil, sugar, and cinnamon. Spread the cubes on a rimmed baking sheet and bake in the oven until golden and crunchy, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and let the croutons cool on the sheet. Try not to eat too many while you’re making the soup.
Now make the SOUP: heat a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the olive oil and butter. Now add the onions with a pinch of salt and stir. Cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook another minute, then pour in the amaretto. Cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the squash cubes and stock to the pot. Cover, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer until the squash is soft, about 20 minutes. Once the squash is soft, remove the pot from the heat and either carefully pour the soup into your blender and puree until smooth, or hit it with an immersion blender. Either way, make sure you turn the heat off the pot. Once the soup is pureed and creamy, transfer it back to the soup pot (if necessary) and heat over low heat. Pour in the cream and stir to combine. Add salt and black pepper to taste.
To serve, ladle soup into bowls and top with so many croutons and garnish with a sprinkling of scallions, and pecans, if desired.

White Cheddar Apple Crisp

White Cheddar Apple Crisp

Apple season is upon us!! Matt and I had originally planned to go apple picking this fall, like we sometimes do, but both the local grocery stores in our new ‘hood sell tons of local apples, something I was very excited to discover. We’ve found that this year at least, it’s been preferable to walk three blocks and replenish apples as desired instead of driving for two hours, picking two bushels and then frantically putting apples in absolutely everything to make sure they’re all used up before they go bad.

white cheddar apple crisp

White Cheddar Apple Crisp

Either way, I promised Matt I’d make his favorite fall dessert, which is, as you might have surmised by now, an apple crisp. I needed a new twist though, and while combining apples with cheddar in desserts is probably older than time itself, it’s a combination I’ve rarely baked in my own kitchen. So it’s a new twist to me, if you will.

white cheddar apple crisp

This one is rather interesting (I thought so, at least) – instead of incorporating the cheddar into the crust, chunks of super-sharp white cheddar are tossed with the apples before they go into the pan and get topped with the crisp. The result? Lovely! The crisp is definitely sweet, but contrasts so beautifully with the salty, sharp cheese in each bite. Of course the cheese gets melty and gooey in the oven, so there’s another contrast with the soft texture of the cheese complementing the crunch of the topping and the bite of the apples.

White Cheddar Apple Crisp

Matt was extremely happy with it! I bet you and yours will be too.

Source: Seriously Delish by Jessica Merchant

Ingredients:
4 medium Gala apples, cored and cut into 1-inch chunks
2 tbs brown sugar
1 ½ tsp whole wheat pastry flour (can sub in all-purpose flour)
½ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp kosher salt
6 oz. sharp white cheddar cheese, cut into ½-inch cubes

TOPPING:
2/3 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
½ cup loosely packed brown sugar
¼ cup whole wheat pastry flour (can sub in all-purpose flour)
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
4 tbs unsalted butter, at room temperature
Pinch of kosher salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
Vanilla ice cream, for serving (optional but highly recommended)

Directions:
Preheat your oven to 375 F.
In a large bowl, toss the apples with the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, and salt. Add in the white cheddar cubes and toss again to combine. Set aside while you make the topping.
For the TOPPING, combine the oats, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon and salt in a bowl and mix well. Add the butter and vanilla extract and use your fingers to disperse the butter throughout the dry ingredients.
Pour the apple mixture into a greased 8×8” square baker. Sprinkle the crumble topping evenly over the apples. Bake until the crisp is golden and the apples are softened, 25 to 30 minutes. Serve warm, with vanilla ice cream, if desired.