It’s October and it’s raining. I’ve been craving things like apple tarts and hot soups and thick stews. The heat in our building has been turned on. I’ve been wearing scarves and wool socks. I don’t think there is any going back now. It is solidly fall, which makes me happy…in an October kind of way
I spent a lazy Saturday curled up on the couch, fighting a cold, and catching up on old episodes of Grey's Anatomy. But I didn’t mind, really. I got to roast my first pumpkin of the season and when the apartment is warm and dry and filled with home-cooked awesomeness, that great big world out there doesn’t even compare.
roasted pumpkin salad
for the salad:
3 cups pumpkin (or winter squash of choice), peeled and cut into cubes
5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
3 small red onions, peeled and quartered (or 12 tiny red onions)
2 cups wild rice, fully cooked according to packaged instructions
for the dressing and garnish:
juice of 1 large lemon 1/3 cup olive oil
salt and pepper 1/2 cup cilantro, finely chopped
1/3 cup sunflower seed
Preheat the oven to 375. Toss pumpkin with 3 tablespoons olive oil and a pinch of salt and place on a baking sheet. Next, toss the onions with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and a pinch of salt and spread across a second baking sheet. Place both baking sheets in pre-heated oven and roast for 30-45 minutes, turning once, until the squash and onions are both brown and caramelized.
Whisk together the olive oil and lemon juice. Season with a pinch of salt and a pinch of pepper and set aside.
To prepare the salad, place the cooked rice in a serving dish. Gently toss in the onions. Top with roasted squash and very gently toss to combine. Dress with the olive oil/lemon juice mixture to taste and garnish with cilantro and sunflower seeds.
I woke up this morning and I really needed a cookie. Like bad. Luckily these only require three ingredients, and you can make and bake them in less than 30 minutes, which makes them a good option for when life demands cookies. Which is, you know, often.
Cinnamon Swirl Puff Pastry Cookies
1 package puff pastry (2 sheets), thawed
1 and 1/4 cup granulated sugar, divided
2 tablespoons cinnamon, divided
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Wisk together 1 cup of the sugar and 2 tablespoons of cinnamon until well combined. Pour remaining ¼ cup of sugar on a plate and set aside.
Place one sheet of puff pastry on a lightly floured surface and carefully roll it out so that it is about an inch longer on each side. Sprinkle half of the cinnamon sugar mixture on the rolled out sheet of puff pastry making sure to cover it well. Starting at one end, roll the pastry inward so that it forms a log.
Slice pastry “log” into ¼ inch cookies. Lightly drop each cookie on prepared sugar plate so that the sugar sticks to one side. Place cookies, sugar-side up on prepared baking sheet. If you run out of space, store what remains of the log in the fridge until the first batch is done. Bake for 10 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Repeat with second puff pastry sheet.
In the days since we last spoke, I’ve flown to Austin and back. I’ve packed and I have unpacked. I’ve sipped afternoon cocktails. I’ve visited with friends.
I’ve eaten at some of my favorite restaurants. I’ve tasted food off the grill and I’ve sat outside at night drinking fizzy drinks and big glasses of rose.
It’s strange how these places we visit each year mark time and illuminate change but I have to say, it was good to go back. It’s also good to be back. While we were gone Fall seemed to snuggle right on in. The long days of sun have turned to short days of grey. The leaves are changing. The air is chilly.
Summer was nice but I’m happy to see Fall again. Happy for the return of plain, normal, everyday life. I love plain, normal, everyday life. The morning coffee, the occasional laundry, the errands, the slow bakes and languid braises, the evenings at home with the husband asleep on the couch. The tomato tarts.
We had sort of a rough return from vacation but just thinking about this tart added an iota of peace and tranquility to those hellish days. Well, that and the jelly glasses filled with red wine.
tomato and goat cheese tart
Inadvertently Ina has become my girl these past weeks as I’ve searched around trying to figure out what to do with all the produce I can't help but buy. This tart is awesome. Awe-some. And then some. Plus it uses puff pastry and it takes to all sorts of cheeses and veggies which makes it an easy at home standby for any season. Confused about the store-bought vs. homemade puff pastry debate? You're not alone. I’ve said it before but my rule of thumb is to go for the all butter varieties.
1 sheet puff pastry, defrosted
2 large yellow onions, thinly sliced
salt and pepper
3 Tablespoons dry white wine
2 Teaspoons fresh thyme, minced
¾ cup freshly grated parmesan
¼ cup freshly shaved parmesan
4 ounces garlic and herb goat cheese
1 large tomato, cut into thin slices
handful of basil, julienned
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Unfold puff pastry sheet onto a lightly floured surface and gently roll it out so that it is just a touch thinner and looks closer to a square. Place the pastry on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and refrigerate until ready to use.
Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat and add the onions. Saute for 15-20 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onions are limp and there is little to no moisture left in the skillet. Add a pinch of salt and a pinch of pepper, the wine, and the the thyme and continue to cook for another 10 minutes until the onions are lightly browned. Remove from heat and set aside.
Using a paring knife, score a ¼ inch wide border around the pastry square. Prick the pastry inside the score lines with the tines of a fork and sprinkle ¾ cup of parmesan on the pastry square, staying inside the scored border. Cover parmesan with onions, again staying within the scored edge. Crumble goat cheese on top of the onions and spread sliced tomatoes on top of the goat cheese. Sprinkle with basil and add remaining ¼ cup of Parmesan.
Bake for 20-25 minutes until the pastry is golden brown. Serve hot.
I’m writing this from Arizona, from the back porch at my parents house where I grew up. The same porch where I used to listen to The Cure on my walkman and daydream about Patrick Swayze.
Anyways, it’s nice to be home for a few days- to hear the crickets and cicadas, to feel the warmth of the desert, and to soak in those last bits of summer.
On Saturday my mom made her famous paella and we filled my parents backyard with food and friends and family. Two of the party guests, er, lets just call them Timmy and Tarah, managed to shatter a large table prior to everyone arriving- but even that couldn't mar the evening.
I made a peach crisp and we drank large glasses of prosecco and we sat and talked for hours.
Tomorrow we head to Austin and I am looking forward to that very much. But today it's good to be home.
late summer peach crisp
I made this crisp with peaches but this recipe does well with any number of seasonal fruits and berries. Seeing as it is fall in many places, I'll imagine it would work swimmingly with apples. This recipe makes a pretty big batch which works well for parties but it can be easily halved for a quieter evening.
16 Tablespoons cold butter (2 sticks), cut into large chunks
1 1/2 cups brown sugar 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
Generous pinch of cinnamon
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups rolled old fashioned oats (not quick-cook)
1 cup chopped pecans (I like to blitz them in the food processor first)
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Grease an 12 inch square baking dish with butter and set aside.
First, prepare the fruit. Cut the peaches into bite-sized pieces and place in a large bowl. Add the cornstarch and cinnamon and toss gently (but well). Transfer the fruit to the prepared baking dish.
To make the crisp, combine the butter, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, and salt in a food processor and pulse for about 30 seconds until dough begins to come together and resembles small peas. Add the oats and pecans and pulse a few more times until combined.
Crumble the crisp topping over the fruit and bake in the oven until the top just begins to turn golden brown and the fruit is bubbling. Remember that individual oven times will vary, mine took around 40 minutes, but I would check frequently as crisp is baking so that it doesn’t burn.
Serve warm, on it’s own, or with whipped cream and/or ice cream.
A year ago today Jimmy and I flew to Arizona. I put on a white dress, he put on a suit, and we got married in the backyard of the house I grew up in.
We danced and talked and ate bar-b-que and I didn’t even spill on my dress.
There were, of course, a few requisite catastrophes: thunderstorms rolling through, vases breaking on the dance floor, twinkly lights going out, my head almost exploding… but looking back, I wouldn’t have changed a thing.It was a lovely evening and it was spent with the loveliest of people.
It seems like we’ve been through a lot since our wedding last year, but we like it, and we still like each other, and that feels reassuring.
I wonder what the future will bring. I hope it involves a dog, and a house with a backyard, and Jimmy makingthis face ,because I’m really quite fond of it.