Category Archives: Recipes

turkey and stuffing roulades with squash mash

thanksgiving is absolutely, positively my favorite holiday of the year. it brings together my love of cooking, spending time with my family, and eating ridiculously delicious foods. over the years, my family and i have created what we think is the perfect thanksgiving spread (i know many people think the same about theirs!). we have a secret binder with reams of recipes, and we start planning weeks in advance for our huge array of dishes–from stuffing to sprouts to our spectacular pumpkin pie. not to mention the turkey, of course.

last year, during the intense run-up to this headiest of holidays, i couldn’t bear the anticipation any longer. i needed some turkey, stat! i thought carefully about how to make a small thanksgiving dinner for my husband and me, one that wouldn’t take a whole day (or more) of cooking but would provide the deep, satisfying flavors everyone craves. i settled on turkey cutlets since they’re convenient and quick to cook. (i enjoyed them so much this year, in fact, that i decided to make more, in a spicy southern style, later in the week. stay tuned this weekend for the recipe!). i also had to include stuffing and gravy, because otherwise it’s just not thanksgiving, and i decided to throw some squash into the oven for a sweet and savory side (check out the recipe below).

putting all this together, i decided to make roulades–stuffed cutlets rolled and tied into perfect little packages. a classic technique suitable for any thin cut of meat, roulades make an elegant way to wrap up all your favorite flavors, including, of course, my family’s fantastic cornbread stuffing. they may take a little practice, but they come out delicious even when rough around the edges. the pan drippings also make a rich gravy in no time. altogether, these express roulades deliver the gratifying goodness of thanksgiving anytime the irresistible urge strikes!

express turkey and stuffing roulades

serves 4

2 tsp + 2 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp butter, melted + 1 tbsp butter, cold

10 pieces turkey bacon (or pork or duck if you prefer)

1/2 medium onion, cut into small dice

1 tbsp thinly sliced fresh sage

1 tbsp minced fresh thyme, rosemary, and savory (or any combination thereof)

1/3 cup minced curly parsley

3/4 cup roughly chopped roasted chestnuts (minerve chestnuts are delicious and hassle-free)

1/2 cup dried cranberries

2 cups cubed cornbread

1/4 cup + 1/2 cup chicken or turkey stock, preferably homemade

4 large turkey cutlets, pounded thin

1 cup verjus or apple cider

1 tbsp flour

1. heat 2 tsp olive oil in a small sauté pan over medium-low heat. once it ripples, add the diced onion and sauté until just beginning to soften, about 6 minutes. remove to a large bowl.

2. while the onion is cooking, cook 2 pieces of the bacon in a large dutch oven until crispy. turn off the heat and slice the bacon into thin strips, then place in the bowl with the onion.

3. add to the bowl the sage, mixed herbs, parsley, cranberries, chestnuts, and cornbread. add the melted butter and the 1/4 cup of stock and stir gently to combine all the ingredients.

4. to assemble the roulades, first cut four 18″ lengths of kitchen twine. lay each turkey cutlet flat on a board and top with about 1/2-3/4 cup of the stuffing. gently press the stuffing with your hand to spread it evenly over the cutlet, and be careful not to overstuff. roll the cutlet the long way, taking care not to lose too much stuffing out the sides (just stuff it back in if any falls out). place two pieces of raw bacon on the board so they overlap like a plus sign, then place the rolled-up cutlet in the middle. bring the four sides of the bacon over the top of the roulade. finally, place one length of twine on the board and place the roulade on top, so the twine goes along the long side of the roulade. wrap the two ends of the twine over the top of the roulade, then twist them 90° and wrap them down the short way (think of this as practice for future present wrapping). flip the roulade, cinch the twine tightly, and tie a double knot against the bottom of the roulade. cut the excess twine. then assemble the rest of the roulades.

5. heat the remaining 2 tbsp olive oil in the dutch oven over medium-low heat. once it ripples, add the roulades and cook until well-browned on the bottom, about 10 minutes. flip and repeat on the top. then flip the roulades onto their sides and cook until each is well-browned, about 5 minutes per side.

6. while the roulades are cooking, make a buerre manié by combining the flour and 1 tbsp butter with a fork in a small bowl. set aside.

7. once all sides are brown, return the roulades to their original position, add the verjus and the 1/2 cup of stock, cover, and let simmer on medium heat for 10 minutes. remove the roulades to a platter and let rest.

8. in the dutch oven, still over medium heat, add the buerre manié to the pan juices while whisking constantly to avoid lumps. continue whisking while simmering the gravy until it thickens enough to coat a spoon.

9. place each roulade on a plate, top with a generous pour of the gravy, and enjoy your express thanksgiving!

for a delicious, healthy, and easy to make side dish, winter squash is the way to go. there are so many varieties and each offers a slightly different flavor, so you won’t get bored. also, while they are excellent in soups, sautés, and other preparations, they are equally tasty simply roasted in their skins, then mashed with a little butter or olive oil and some salt and pepper. with this method the sweet and intricate flavors of the squash are really allowed to shine.

buttercup squash mash

1 small buttercup squash (my other favorite varieties are butternut, orange hokkaido, kabocha, and delicata)

1 tablespoon butter or olive oil

salt and white pepper to taste

1. preheat the oven to 350°f.

2. wash the outside of the squash so it is free of dirt or debris. cut the squash in half from top to bottom and scoop out the seeds* with a spoon.

3. place the two halves open side down on lightly oiled aluminum foil on a baking sheet. roast for about 1 hour, or until the flesh is soft all the way through (test with a fork).

4. allow the squash to cool for about 10 minutes, then scoop the flesh into a metal bowl. stir in the butter or olive oil and salt and pepper until the mixture is mostly smooth. then serve!

*some squash seeds can be cooked like pumpkin seeds, and they make a delicious snack. just do a little “googling” to find out which squash seeds work the best.

and as you know, every family has their own cherished thanksgiving traditions. for more ideas to add to your holiday feast, check out the following blogs:

Cocktails, Appetizers, Soups and Salads:

Sweet Life Bake: Pumpkin Margarita

Easy Peasy Organic: Thanksgiving Ginger Cocktail

Dishin and Dishes: Butternut Squash Bruschetta With Sage Pesto

Mooshu Jenne: Green Salad

Two Peas and Their Pod: Maple-Roasted Butternut Squash Apple Salad

Jones is Hungry: Roasted Vegetable Salad

Purple Cook: Pasta and Bean Stew With Tomatoes and Broccoli Rabe

From My Corner of Saratoga: Curried Pumpkin Soup

Mains:

FN Dish: Alton Brown’s Good Eats Roast Turkey

My Angel’s Allergies: Cranberry-Glazed Cornish Hens

Sides:

Cafe Terra Blog: Cranberry Pumpkin Stuffing

Virtually Homemade: Twice-Baked Cheddar and Chive Potatoes

Easy Eats Magazine: Sausage and Dried Cranberry-Walnut Stuffing

The Sensitive Epicure: Oyster Dressing and Gravy

Daily*Dishin: Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes Supreme

What’s Gaby Cooking: Rustic Herb Skillet Stuffing

Family Fresh Cooking: Coconut Brown-Butter Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Silvana’s Kitchen: Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Mushroom-Rye Stuffing

The Cultural Dish: Cranberry Sauce

Desserts:

I Am Baker: Pumpkin Cake

Heather Christo: Pumpkin Vanilla Ice Cream Pie

And Love It Too: Pumpkin Custard (Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free)

Haute Apple Pie Girls: Double Pumpkin Mini Pies With Candied Pecans

Ladles and Jelly Spoons: Not Your Same Old Pumpkin Pie

Daydreamer Desserts: Cuban Diplomatic Pudding

Thursday Night Dinner: Red Wine Chocolate Cake

Napa Farmhouse 1885: Caramel Apple Pie

cauliflower-squash soup with crème fraîche

the cold weather that blew in over the weekend had me looking for every possible way to keep warm. and what better way than soup? with a hearty soup you can get all your vegetables in one bowl and keep yourself warm and satisfied. plus, soups are excellent for experimenting. once you have the general technique down for various styles of soup, you can mix and match ingredients to your taste buds’ content.

take cauliflower, for example, which is the fn dish ingredient of the week. disguised in its seemingly bland appearance is a deep flavor and some wonderful health benefits. in fact, 1 cup of cauliflower contains about 90% of your recommended daily value of vitamin c. think about all that cold-fighting power!

but flavor is the thing that really gets me excited when i sit down to a steaming bowl of soup. the delicious taste of cauliflower mixes well with many other ingredients, from aged cheddar to currants and capers. this time i picked a partner that would complement the caulfilower’s smooth flavor and spice up the color palette – orange hokkaido squash. this gourd has a rich, bold flavor and it’s not very stringy, which makes it great for pureeing. the structure of the soup, with sauteed aromatics, vegetables, and broth, makes it easy to substitute your favorite winter vegetables. but i highly recommend giving this version a try. with the accompanying garnishes – bacon, crème fraîche, and parsley – this cauliflower concoction is not to be missed!

cauliflower-squash soup

3 lb cauliflower, stemmed and cut into large sections

3 lb winter squash, peeled and cut into 1” cubes

1 large onion, cut into medium dice

3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

6 slices turkey or pork bacon, cooked until crisp and diced (optional)

6 cups vegetable or chicken stock

8 tbsp. crème fraîche

1 cup minced parsley

1 tbsp. olive oil

salt and freshly ground white pepper

1. in a soup pot, sauté the onion and garlic in olive oil over medium heat until soft and translucent, 8-10 minutes.

2. add the squash and stock and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 5 minutes.

3. add the cauliflower and return to a boil. then reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes, or until the squash and cauliflower are cooked through.

4. remove from heat and allow to cool for 15 minutes.

5. in a food processor or blender, purée all the solids in batches until very smooth, using just as much of the liquid as needed. then strain the remaining liquid to remove any sediment and add the puréed soup.

6. to serve, return the soup to medium heat until warmed through and season with salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste. garnish bowls with 1 tablespoon each of crème fraîche, bacon, and parsley.

take a look at the following blogs for more delicious cauliflower recipes:

The Sensitive Epicure: Cauliflower Souffle

Haute Apple Pie: Cauliflower and Chicken Gratin

CIA Dropout: Cauliflower Squash Soup With Creme Fraiche

Daily*Dishin: Tender Roasted Cauliflower

Virtually Homemade: Cumin Crusted Beef Tenderloin With Cauliflower Puree

What’s Gaby Cooking: Cumin Roasted Cauliflower

Thursday Night Dinner: Roasted Garlic and Parmesan Mashed Cauliflower

Cooking Channel: 4 Ways to Cook Cauliflower

Napa Farmhouse 1885: Painted Cauliflower

FN Dish: Roasted Cauliflower 5 Ways

Big Girls Small Kitchen: Cauliflower Soup With Sharp Cheddar and Thyme

Dishin & Dishes: Cauliflower Gratin

pumpkin panna cotta with gingerbread

in a post this summer, when sweet juicy peaches were abundant, i offered a recipe for peach panna cotta. it proved to be my most popular post so far. apparently i am not the only person who loves panna cotta! i discovered this dessert several years ago in a restaurant whose name i unfortunately can’t remember. but i can assure you that i haven’t stopped experimenting with panna cotta recipes since then. and my family hasn’t complained yet.

it so happens that this week the food network’s fn dish is featuring another ingredient just begging to be made into a panna cotta – pumpkin! pumpkin is a fantastic item. first of all, it’s a beautiful vegetable that embodies the essence of fall – the bright colors, the rich flavors, and the fun of halloween. secondly, its depth of flavor makes it delicious in soup, roasted with root vegetables, or baked into pie. even the salted and toasted seeds (often called pepitas) make an excellent snack.

but i wanted to make something a little more adventurous and refined this week. so i turned to my old favorite, panna cotta. i added pumpkin puree and a hint of additional spice, borrowed from my usual pumpkin pie recipe. and since cooking with pumpkins put me in a holiday sort of mood, i decided that gingerbread would be the perfect accompaniment. the end result was a creamy, pumpkin-y, sweet, and spiced dessert. it can be beautifully perched on a gingerbread cookie or just eaten with a spoon in one hand and a cookie in the other. either way, you will be happy with these creamy flavors of the fall!

pumpkin panna cotta

serves 8

1 cup whole milk

2 1/3 tsp powdered gelatin

3 cups heavy cream

2 tsp vanilla extract

6 tbsp granulated sugar

2 tsp coarse mulling spice mix (cloves, cinnamon, allspice, cardamom, mace, nutmeg, or any combination thereof)

1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

1 cup pumpkin purée (if using homemade, be sure to simmer the roasted purée until most of the moisture has been cooked out)

1. place the milk in a medium saucepan and sprinkle the gelatin over the surface. set aside for about 10 minutes.

2. in a small bowl, combine the heavy cream, 1 tsp vanilla extract, and the mulling spices. set aside.

3. in another small bowl, combine the pumpkin purée, 2 tbsp sugar, 1 tsp vanilla extract, and the cinnamon. set aside.

4. over medium heat, warm the milk, stirring constantly, until it reaches 135° f on a candy thermometer. remove from the heat and stir in the remaining 4 tbsp sugar until dissolved. then slowly pour in the cream mixture, using a strainer to remove the mulling spices.

5. place the pot in an ice bath and stir constantly until the mixture cools to 50° f and becomes a bit thicker than heavy cream. stir in the pumpkin mixture.

6. using a ladle, distribute the mixture into 8 ramekins (you may have some left over for a 9th!). place the ramekins on a baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap, making sure the plastic wrap does not touch the surface of the mixture. refrigerate for at least 4 hours until fully set.

7. to serve, hold each ramekin in a small bowl of hot water for about 10 seconds, then invert onto a plate or a gingerbread cookie (see below).

gingerbread cookies

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup dark molasses

1/4 cup water

2 3/4 cups flour

3/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

1/8 tsp ground cloves

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/8 tsp ground allspice

1. cream the butter and sugar in an electric mixer on medium speed for about 5 minutes, or until pale and fluffy. add the molasses, water, flour, salt, baking soda, and spices and mix on medium-low until combined. gather into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap, then refrigerate for 2-3 hours.

2. heat the oven to 375° f.

3. roll the dough to 1/4 inch think on a lightly floured surface. using a round cookie cutter than matches the size of your ramekins, cut cookies and place on un-greased baking sheets.

4. bake for 10 minutes, then remove from the oven and cool on a rack.

for more pumpkin fun, check out these blogs:

What’s Gaby Cooking: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bars

The Cultural Dish: Pumpkin Waffles

Cooking With Elise: Pumpkin Chip Scones

And Love It Too: Creamy Pumpkin Fruit Dip

Haute Apple Pie Girls: Pumpkin Bread Parfait

I Am Mommy: Pumpkin Pancakes

Dishin and Dishes: Maple Pumpkin Creme Brulee

Virtually Homemade: Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins With Pumpkin Seed Streusel

Napa Farmhouse 1885: Pumpkin Pizza

Daydreamer Desserts: Pumpkin Fattigman

From My Corner of Saratoga: Baking Pie In The Pumpkin

FN Dish: The Ultimate Pumpkin Soup

Cooking Channel: Pumpkin Risotto

The Sensitive Epicure: Pumpkin Whoopie Pies With Molasses Marshmallows

Daily*Dishin: Pumpkin Praline Cheesecake

ZaikaZabardast: Pumpkin Jalebi

Mooshu Jenne: Pumpkin Nutella Bread

Big Girls Small Kitchen: Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Loaf

potato and leek soup

despite some clear, sunny days this past week, i have noticed the chill that sneaks into the air in the mornings. and i definitely couldn’t ignore the wind that has once again started blowing off the hudson river and right up our street. for the moment i find these crisp breezes invigorating. after all, they bring fresh air with notes of wet leaves, rather than the hot breezes of summer that smell of subways and trash. but i know that soon i will be cursing the cold and running for the door to our building every time i get to our block. so i’ve been brushing up on my soup recipes in an attempt to keep myself warm this fall and winter.

of course, the soup you crave in the fall is going to be different than what you crave come the depths of winter. fall soups are about light flavors and broths, as opposed to the hearty stew-like soups of winter. and what better ingredients for a fall soup than the beautiful potatoes and the flavorful leeks that are being harvested and sold in abundance? my favorite potato and leek soup recipe is so easy to make, it’s ready in less than an hour, and the combination of simple but rich flavors stays delicious for a few days, if you happen to have any left over.

potato and leek soup

serves 4

4-5 lbs leeks, cut in half vertically, then cut into 1″ pieces (use all the white part and about 3″ of the light green, and be sure to wash leeks thoroughly; the dirt likes to hide between the layers)

6 tbsp butter

1.5 lbs waxy potatoes (red or yellow), cut into 1/2″ dice (i like to leave the skins on for the extra nutrients)

5 1/2 cups broth (i like better than bouillon’s organic vegetable base, but your favorite chicken or vegetable broth will work just fine)

1 tbsp flour

1 bay leaf

salt and fresh ground white pepper

1. heat the butter in a large soup pot, over medium heat, until foaming. add the leeks, and cook covered, stirring occasionally, until they begin to soften, about 15 minutes.

2. sprinkle the flour over the leeks to form a roux, and stir to distribute evenly for about 2 minutes.

3. slowly pour in the broth while stirring to keep the roux from creating lumps.

4. add the potatoes and the bay leaf. turn heat to high, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, for about 5-7 minutes, or until potatoes are just barely tender all the way through. turn off the heat and leave covered for another 15 minutes. add salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste, then serve!

roux: a thickening agent created by cooking flour with a fat, such as butter or oil.

bought an extra sack of potatoes at the market?                                                              use them in these delicious recipes:

Taste With The Eyes: Poached Salmon, Lobster Mash, Lentil Gumbo “Gravy”

And Love It Too: Twice Baked Potato – Paleo Style

What’s Gaby Cooking: Smashed Potatoes

From My Corner of Saratoga: Potato Canapes

Napa Farmhouse 1885: Chorizo and Potato Tacos

Cooking Channel: Cozy Up With In Season Potatoes

FN Dish: Best Potato Casserole Recipes

Cooking With Elise: The Irish Boxty

CIA Dropout: Potato and Leek Soup

The Sensitive Epicure: Potatoes Anna With Fresh Thyme and Truffle Salt

Glory Foods: Chicken Smashed Potatoes

Daily*Dishin: Creamy Loaded Potato Casserole

Virtually Vegan Mama: Baked Cinnamon Spiced Sweet Potato Fries

rustic kale salad

everyone knows that dark leafy greens–kale, spinach, chard, and the like–pack a potent nutritional punch. but for many people, these valuable veggies conjure up images of boring salads or dreary piles of watery steamed leaves. there are, however, endless ways to prepare tasty dishes that deliver all the nutrition of leafy greens with great texture and flavor, too.

following my spinach and cheddar frittata recipe for last week’s fn dish, i decided to focus on another leaf this weekend: kale. i’ve always enjoyed kale sautéed with garlic or other aromatics, but a visit to mario batali’s esca a few years ago taught me that it’s also delicious raw. with this as inspiration, i’ve developed a kale salad that has become a staple of my repertoire. it’s delicious as a side dish for everything from roast chicken to pasta, and it’s also a healthy and filling snack or light meal on its own. a poached or fried egg on top turns leftover salad into a delicious dinner. the only tricks are to be patient with the onions so they get nice and soft, and to clean the kale thoroughly and remove the central stem, which is unappealingly fibrous.

rustic kale salad

serves 6 as a side dish

1 large bunch kale, stemmed and sliced into thin ribbons

3 medium red onions, sliced into thin half-moons (yellow onions are also fine)

1/2 cup pine nuts

1/2 cup thickly grated parmesan cheese

1/8 cup plus 2 tbsp olive oil

juice of 1/2 lemon

1. heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. once glistening, add the sliced onions and cook, stirring very infrequently, until soft and thoroughly caramelized, approximately 30-40 minutes.

2. meanwhile, place the sliced kale, pine nuts, and grated cheese in a large bowl.

3. when the onions are ready, allow them to cool for a few minutes in the pan. then pour them, along with any pan juices, over the salad. add the 1/8 cup olive oil and lemon juice, toss thoroughly, and serve. the salad keeps well in the fridge for a few days and can be eaten room temperature or chilled.

spinach and cheddar frittata

as the green summer leaves fall from the trees, greens such as kale, chard, and spinach begin to catch my attention. a trip to the farmer’s market this weekend uncovered vibrant greens tantalizing enough to make anyone eat their vegetables. my mother introduced my sisters and me to greens early, so growing up i was always a fan of any leafy green sautéed with a little olive oil, some garlic, and a good dose of salt and pepper. however, in my dining adventures i have also come across many other ways to serve these healthy and flavorful vegetables. i’ll start with spinach this week, but check back this weekend for a delicious and easy recipe with kale.

so, spinach: FN Dish’s ingredient of the week and the ultimate green that is so nutritionally rich but so widely disliked. and it’s not always easy to prepare. i had a run-in with poorly washed spinach in a lasagna made by a friend several years ago. it left my mouth feeling gritty for a year! however, spinach is a vegetable that is worth making and eating — not only for its healthy properties but also for its earthy, refreshing taste.

in my opinion there is no better way to enjoy lots of healthy vegetables than to bake them up with some eggs and cheese for a satisfying, warm, and nutritious meal. which brings us to the world of frittatas. there are many techniques for cooking frittatas, and twice as many variations on the ingredients. they are fairly easy to cook (after a little practice), filling enough for a dinner or an excellent brunch, and a great way to use any number of vegetables, cheeses, and aromatics that you may have in your fridge. the only real trick to the technique is to make sure none of the vegetables are sticking to the pan before you pour in the eggs. this will ensure easy removal of the frittata after it’s cooked.

once you get hooked on frittatas there is no end to the combinations of ingredients you can create! to accompany the spinach this time i chose the last cherry tomatoes clinging to the vines in our garden, shallots, garlic, and a nice sharp cheddar cheese. with dishes like this, “eat your spinach” should become a tempting invitation.

spinach and cheddar frittata

(serves 4)

8 eggs

4 oz sharp cheddar cheese, grated

4 large handfuls fresh spinach

1 cup cherry tomatoes,  halved

3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

6 shallots, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons olive oil

salt and white pepper to taste

1. preheat the oven to 400°f.

2. in a large bowl, beat the eggs thoroughly with a pinch of salt and white pepper to taste, add the grated cheddar cheese, and set aside.

3. heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a 10-inch oven-proof saute pan over medium heat. once the oil is glistening, add the shallots and cook for about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden brown. add the garlic and cook until soft, about another 2 minutes.

4. add the spinach and allow to wilt, stirring occasionally, for about 3 minutes. add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and stir to distribute. sprinkle the cherry tomatoes into the pan, make sure nothing is sticking, and then pour in the egg and cheese mixture.

5. cook for about 3 minutes, or until the sides of the frittata begin to set. move the pan to the oven and cook for about 12 minutes, or until the center is just set and doesn’t jiggle.

6. to serve, loosen the sides and bottom of the frittata carefully with a flexible spatula. the frittata can then either be sliced and served directly from the pan, or inverted onto a plate, then inverted again onto a serving platter.

still craving more greens? check out these blogs:

What’s Gaby Cooking: Spinach-Artichoke Cups

From My Corner of Saratoga: Cannelloni Stuffed With Ricotta Spinach

And Love It Too: Bacon Infused Wilted Spinach

Napa Farmhouse 1885: Spinach-Pesto Tacos With Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

Virtually Homemade: Spinach Pepita (Pumpkin Seed) Pesto

Cooking With Elise: Spinach and Artichoke Fondue

Glory Foods: Creamed Spinach

The Sensitive Epicure: Catalan Spinach With Raisins, Pine Nuts and Bacon

FN Dish: Stuffed Spinach Recipes

apple roasted duck

apples, like much produce, are available in grocery stores year round. however, they are never as good as when they are actually in season. currently you can find so many varieties of local apples that you might run out of ideas of what to do with them all. they range from sweet galas to sour granny smiths, and from crunchy honeycrisps to soft macintoshes–something for everyone! aside from simply eating them as snacks, i love using apples in both sweet preparations, such as apples pies, and savory dishes, such as my apple roasted duck.

this dish is easy to make and virtually bursts with meatiness and the flavors of the fall. ducks are well-endowed with fat, which drips onto the apples, onions, and garlic to make a delicious and fragrant jus. slow roasting the duck, a method i adapted from the joy of cooking, also produces irresistible crispy skin. i served my apple roasted duck with roasted sweet potatoes, but wild rice would be another good choice. with a salad and a glass of wine, it’s a fantastic apple-infused feast!

before...

and after!

apple roasted duck

1 4-5 lb duck, rinsed and dried, with giblets removed and neck put aside (if present, sometimes the neck and giblet are not sold with the duck)

4 medium apples, cored and cut into 8 pieces each

1 large onion, cut into 8 pieces

6 cloves of garlic, peeled

3 tbps finely chopped mixed fresh herbs (such as rosemary, sage, thyme, and oregano)

1 large sprig each fresh rosemary, sage, thyme, and oregano

1 tsp olive oil

1 1/2 cups verjus

1. preheat the oven to 250°f.

2. scatter the apples, onions, and garlic in the olive oil around the bottom of the roasting pan. then pour the olive oil over them and toss to coat. place a roasting rack over the apples, onions, and garlic.

3. pierce the skin and fat layer of the duck with a skewer or small paring knife, about 20-30 times, taking care not to pierce the meat. coat the duck thoroughly with the chopped herbs, season with salt and pepper, and put the sprigs of herbs inside the cavity. place the duck breast-side-down on the rack.

4. roast for 3 hours, re-piercing the skin and fat layer every hour.

5. after 3 hours, turn the duck breast-side-up and add the verjus to the roasting pan. increase the oven temperature to 350°f and cook for another 45 minutes.

6. remove the duck from the roasting pan and set aside on a cutting board to rest. return the roasting pan to the oven, increase the oven temperature to 400°f and cook for another 10 minutes.

7. remove the apples, onions, and garlic from the roasting pan with a slotted spoon and put them aside in a bowl. pour the remaining jus into a large pyrex measuring cup or other tall, heat-proof container. allow the fat to settle at the top, about 5 minutes, and then carefully remove the fat with a spoon. when most of the fat has been removed, pour the jus over the apple mixture.

8. to serve, carve the duck and serve with a large spoonful of the apple mixture and jus.

jus: the natural juices given off from cooking meat. an easy way to achieve a flavorful sauce without any thickeners.

verjus: a mildly acidic juice made from pressing unripe grapes. can be used in recipes as a substitute for wine or vinegar.

for more tantalizing apple recipes take a peek at these great blogs:

Cooking Channel: Add Apples to Your Salad

The Cultural Dish: Apple Cider Martini

And Love It Too: Fried Apples (Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Soy-Free and Vegan)

From My Corner of Saratoga: Easy Skillet Apple Pie (A Southern Living Recipe Reviewed)

Haute Apple Pie: Baked Apple Pancake

Virtually Vegan Mama: Slow Cooker Apple Date Butter

Big Girls Small Kitchen: Apple Pancakes

What’s Gaby Cooking: Apple Cake

FN Dish: Savory Apple Recipes

Napa Farmhouse 1885: Roasted Apple and Caramelized Onion Soup

The Sensitive Epicure: Pan Fried Apple Rings (Gluten-Free)

Glory Foods: Caramel Apple Upside Down Cupcakes

Daily*Dishin: Apple, Bacon, Feta Salad With Maple Vinaigrette

Dishin & Dishes: Old Fashioned Apple Crisp

Cooking With Elise: Wholegrain Apple Oat Pancakes

young ginger sauté

last week i managed to squeeze in a quick trip to the brattleboro farmers’ market in vermont on the morning of my sister’s wedding. i couldn’t resist the chance to take advantage of the new fall produce. i was sad to learn that a surprise frost in the area meant that the crisp heads of lettuce and juicy tomatoes were likely to be the last i would get for the winter. the plump blueberries were also gone. but there was a fine fall selection of potatoes, onions, vibrant green and orange winter squashes, and young ginger to cheer me up.

ginger is delicious in everything from asian stir fries and dumplings to soothing after-dinner tea, and it’s a great aromatic that’s available in the grocery store year round. what isn’t always available is young ginger, which is tenderer, sweeter, and milder. it’s often sold with the stalks attached, and you can use the whole plant. the leaves and stalks can be used to flavor broths, tea, and steamed fish or meats, but the root is the real prize. since i was lucky enough to find young ginger, i decided immediately to make it the base of a tasty dish.

now, asian food happens to be one of the cuisines i find most challenging to cook. we’ve never had the cabinet space for a wok, so making stir fries is hard, and it’s not always easy to find the right balance of flavors with all the delicious sauces, oils, and vinegars available. but this time, i kept the flavors simple and did what i could to let the ginger shine through. the result was a delicious and healthy meal. you can of course make this dish with mature ginger. but if you can get your hands on some young ginger i highly suggest using it. you will get to experience a whole other side of this zingy root.

young ginger sauté with braised tofu and bok choy

serves 4

3/4 cup soy sauce

3/8 cup rice vinegar

5 tsp mirin

1/4 cup + 5 tsp sesame oil (i prefer toasted sesame oil, but regular sesame oil is great too)

2 tsp hot sesame oil, or to taste

1 14-oz package of firm tofu, cut into 8 slices

4 large heads of bok choy, leaves separated

1 4-inch piece young ginger, peeled and julienned

1 1-inch piece young ginger, peeled and cut into medium dice

1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced

2 medium carrots, julienned

1 unripe mango, peeled and julienned

1/2 head of napa cabbage, thinly sliced

12 oz vietnamese rice noodles

1/4 cup roasted peanuts, lightly crushed

1. preheat the oven to 350°f. then combine the soy sauce, rice vinegar, mirin, 5 tsp sesame oil, and hot sesame oil in a bowl to prepare the sauce.

3. pour half the sauce and the diced ginger into a 9 x 13 inch baking dish. add the tofu slices in a single layer and arrange the bok choy leaves evenly on top of the tofu. roast in the oven for 30 minutes, basting every 10 minutes. after 30 minutes, remove and set aside.

4. while the tofu and bok choy are cooking, heat a large sauté pan over medium-low heat until warm.

5. add 1/4 cup sesame oil to the pan and increase the heat to medium-high. add the scallions and ginger and sauté, stirring to prevent browning, for 2 minutes. then add the carrots and cook for another 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. add the cabbage and mango and cook for 5 minutes. add half the remaining sauce to the pan, stir, and cook for another 5 minutes. set aside.

6. while the vegetables are cooking, bring a large pot of water to a boil. cook the rice noodles according to the package instructions, usually around 1-3 minutes. strain noodles when cooked, and toss with the remaining sauce.

7. serve the sauteed vegetables over the noodles, with the tofu and bok choy on the side. garnish with the diced ginger and crushed peanuts. and don’t forget to pour yourself a cold glass of sake!

anniversary linzertorte

recently my husband and i celebrated our 4th anniversary. the event was caught up in the usual chaos of life, work, a trip to wisconsin, and my sister’s wedding. however, i still found the time to make our evening a little extraordinary. and now that the manic schedule of summer has given way to a strangely hot and humid calm of fall, i wanted to share this recipe with you.

i knew i wanted to make something with cherries, because that is one of my husband’s favorite fruits. but sour cherries had disappeared months ago, and while fresh cherries can still be found, there’s still the problem of pitting a bag of cherries on a work night. so i started to think about cherry preserves. and when i think about jam in desserts i tend to think about linzertorte. linzertorte is a magical tart with a crust made from roasted nuts, butter, and spices, and a filling usually made with raspberry jam. the rich, crumbly nut crust enlivened with the tart sweetness of jam makes it hugely popular with my family. it has become a thanksgiving staple for the past few years. so i decided to take a little liberty with the standard ingredients in order to simplify our evening and make use of the ingredients we had on hand. i added walnuts to the usual mix of hazelnuts and almonds, and i substituted cherry preserves for raspberry jam. i also added some slices of fresh peach because we had some ripening on the counter and i did not want them to go to waste. since the tart cooks for 50 minutes, there was plenty of time for the fresh peaches to simmer in the cherry preserves and achieve a delicious, melting texture by the time the tart was ready.

before you scroll down any further and see the daunting 10 steps of instructions, i want to offer some words of encouragement. this recipe is time-intensive, and the instructions are long mostly because of the steps required to assemble the tart crust. but if you follow the recipes step-by-step you will see that no individual step is technically difficult, and you will end up with a delicious, impressive-looking tart. also, keep in mind that any tears in the lattice strips can be easily patched with some extra dough, and by the time the tart is done baking you won’t see any difference.

feel free to use your favorite nuts in the crust and try different jams for filling. i’m sure there are many different combinations of nuts and jams that would make for a wide range of delicious and beautiful tarts. in fact, i may just have to try a whole line of linzertortes to find out for myself…

cherry-peach linzertorte (inspired by Cook’s Illustrated)

serves 8

crust

1/2 cup hazelnuts

1/2 cup walnuts

1/2 cup blanched almonds

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1 tbsp grated zest from 1 lemon

1 1/2 cups flour

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground allspice

12 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes and chilled

1 large egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

filling

1 1/4 cups cherry preserves

1 tbsp lemon juice

2 peaches, blanched (see recipe), peeled, and sliced into thin crescents

glaze

1 tbsp heavy cream

1 1/2 tsp turbinado or demerara sugar

1. heat oven to 350 degrees. toast the nuts on a baking sheet until very lightly browned, about 8 minutes, stirring once in the middle. remove and cool the nuts to room temperature. leave the oven on.

2. grind the nuts, sugar, and salt in a food processor until finely chopped and mixed. add the lemon zest and pulse to combine. add the flour, cinnamon, and allspice and pulse again. scatter in the chopped butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal, with small bits of butter.

3. beat the egg and vanilla together in a small bowl, then add to the food processor while the machine is running. continue processing until the dough forms a large ball.

4. turn the dough ball onto a cutting board and press it together into a mound. then divide it into 2 pieces, one slightly larger than the other. flatten each into a 5-inch disk and put the larger disk in the refrigerator. cut a piece of parchment paper to fit an 11-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. spray the bottom and sides of the pan with nonstick spray, or grease with butter. then separate the bottom from the sides, cover the bottom with the parchment paper, and grease the paper. place the smaller disk of dough in the center, cover with plastic wrap, and roll out the dough until it almost covers the whole bottom. then drop the bottom into the ring of the pan and press the dough evenly until it’s flush with the sides. poke holes all around the dough with a fork. then set the pan on a baking sheet and bake until the dough just starts to brown, 15-18 minutes. remove the pan from the oven and let it cool to room temperature.

5. take a piece of dough about 1 1/2 inches in diameter from the larger disk and roll it into a long rope of about 3/8 inch diameter with your hands. place the rope against the side of the pre-baked tart bottom. repeat with additional pieces of dough until the entire wall of the tart pan has been lined. the use your thumb to gently press the dough against the side of the pan to about 5/8 inch height.

6. gather the remaining dough into a disk and roll out between 2 sheets of lightly-greased parchment paper until it is about 12 inches diameter and 1/8 inch thick. if the dough becomes too sticky to work with, place it in the refrigerator or freezer for 1-3 minutes until firm again. when it’s rolled out, remove the top layer of parchment paper and, with a ruler and sharp knife, cut the dough into 3/4-inch-wide strips (you need 10 strips, but make extras just in case). leave all the strips in place on the parchment paper. when all sliced, transfer the parchment paper to a baking sheet and freeze for 10 minutes or refrigerate for 20 until firm but not fully stiff.

7. meanwhile, stir the cherry preserves and lemon juice together in a small bowl. then spread most of the mixture evenly in the tart shell, leaving a small amount of spread in the bowl. add the peach slices to the bowl and toss to coat. then place the peach slices evenly around the tart and add the remaining spread.

8. remove the dough strips from the refrigerator or freezer. [note: when starting the lattice-top it helps to think of the pie as a clock and to use the numbers on a clock face to correctly position the strips of dough.] using a thin spatula or icing spatula, remove the longest strip and lay it across the center of the tart at 12 o’clock/6 o’clock position. using the second longest strip, place it at 2 o’clock and 8 o’clock. using two shorter strips, lay one at the left edge of the tart parallel to the first strip and one at the top edge of the tart parallel to the second strip. with two more short strips do the same at the right and bottom edges of the tart. now, simply place one more strip between each of the existing center and edge strips (four more strips in total). press lightly on any excess dough hanging over the edge of the tart pan to trim.

9. gently brush the strips with cream and sprinkle with the turbinado sugar. bake the tart on a baking sheet until deep golden brown, about 50 minutes. cool on the baking sheet on a wire rack, up to 2 hours.

10. to serve, remove the outer tart pan ring. slide a thin spatula between the parchment paper and the crust to loosen the tart before sliding it onto a serving platter.

p.s. there will usually be some unused dough after you complete your tart’s lattice-top. feel free to drop these on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for about 12 minutes, or until lightly golden. they make for an excellent snack while you are waiting for your tart to cool!

a ride on the marrakech express

in 2006 i had the pleasure of visiting morocco with my family. it was one of the most exciting and exotic trips i’ve ever taken, filled with an incredible range of sights, sounds, and smells. we visited one of the world’s largest mosques in casablanca, the intense and exhilarating souks of fez and marrakech, and a beautiful guest house in the atlas mountains, where you can find fresh, cool air only an hour from the desert-like landscape below.

of course the food was a highlight of the trip. delicious vegetable salads, citrus juices, flaky pies filled with poultry and eggs, and an endless range of tagines — the savory stews stuffed with meats, veggies, dried fruits, spices, or any and all of the above. we ate all of these dishes and more for a week, often accompanied by some impressive belly dancing. but no trip to morocco would be complete without towering plates of couscous, the delicate grains enhanced by veggies, meats, legumes, and a rich and savory broth.

with summer turning quickly into fall here in the u.s., i decided that a moroccan-inspired couscous would be the perfect way to use summer’s vibrant harvest in a warm and satisfying way. in vermont during the first half of the labor day weekend, i picked up some beautiful zucchini, a bright red pepper, and a handful of soft and sugary plum tomatoes. back in new york, i flipped through some of my kitchen standbys and found a recipe in the joy of cooking for couscous with zucchini and cherry tomatoes. it calls for quick-cooking couscous, which comes out fluffy and hearty with an absolute minimum of effort. with this as a base, i tossed in some homemade veggie stock i had saved and a can of chickpeas from the pantry. i also swirled in some spices along the lines of ras el hanout, the standard and spectacular moroccan mix. the result was a comforting and healthy dish that will put you in the mood for a ride on the marrakech express!

vegetable and chickpea couscous with moroccan spices

serves 4-6

3 tbsp olive oil

1 medium onion, cut into small dice

3 cloves garlic, minced

3 cups vegetable stock (or stock of your choice), warmed

3 small zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch thick half-moons

1 red/orange/yellow pepper, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch squares

2 tsp dried herbes de provence

1 1/2 cups quick-cooking couscous (i prefer whole grain)

1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

3 large plum tomatoes, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch squares

salt and pepper

for ras el hanout

1 1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp each: ground black pepper, ground allspice, ground nutmeg, ground cardamom, ground cinnamon, ground turmeric, ground coriander, ground cloves, and ground red pepper flakes (if you don’t have all the spices, just add whatever you have!)

1. for the ras el hanout, mix all ingredients in a small bowl.

2. heat 2 tbsp of the olive oil in a large dutch oven or pot over medium heat. saute the onions, stirring occasionally, until lightly golden, 6-8 minutes. add garlic and cook, stirring, another 2 minutes.

3. add the warm stock, stir in the ras el hanout, then add the zucchini. bring to a brisk simmer and cook, partially covered, for 3 minutes. add the peppers and simmer for another 4 minutes. do not let the vegetables get fully tender.

4. turn off the heat. stir in the couscous, chickpeas, herbes de provence, and 1 tbsp olive oil. mix all ingredients well in the pot. cover and let stand 8-10 minutes, until the stock is absorbed (or a bit sooner if you like a brothier dish). everything will be perfectly tender.

5. stir in the tomatoes and serve immediately, with a drizzle of olive oil if you like. add salt and pepper to taste.