Apple season + recipe round-up

It is apple season in the Northeast and it is such a beautiful time.

The leaves are just beginning to turn, the air smells slightly like smoke and wood-burning ovens, and the apples are ripe for picking.

Here are some of my most favorite recipes for the season, both savory and sweet.

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Baked apples with cheese & honey

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Red Hawk and Apple Crisp grilled cheese

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Pink apple and yellow carrot slaw

IMG_0577Apple, apricot, and almond bread

Bon appetit xx

ham & cheese + late {late} summer picnics

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One of my favorite things to have in France is also one of the simplest: a crusty baguette with salted butter, ham and cheese.

No frills, just quality ingredients, each of which you can really taste individually.

I guess it also reminds me of the brown bag lunches my mom used to send me to school with- these triple-decker sandwiches filled to the brim with cheese, ham or turkey, and a bit of mustard.

The only difference being that now, as an adult, I like a lot of mustard.

This teasing mild late summer weather will be gone before we know it, so enjoy the sun, a sandwich, and a picnic, even if it just means taking your lunch outside.

Ham and cheese sandwiches

You’ll need:

  • French baguette or another crusty white bread
  • Gruyere cheese
  • Bayonne ham
  • wholegrain mustard
  • salted butter (Vermont Creamery makes a wonderful variety in the US)

1. Even a simple thing like a sandwich can be improved upon.

Use a crusty bread that gives you a nice bite and a good base for your sandwich.

2. Cut lengthwise and top with butter. Slice the cheese and ham as thinly as you can (or get that done at the cheese and meat counters).

3. Layer cheese, mustard and ham between slices of buttered bread.

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Tuck in!

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{welcome, fall} + your new favorite tomato-carrot soup

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I have this strange aversion to the color orange.

I enjoy naturally orange foods (carrots, persimmons, oranges etc.) but I dislike the color in most other instances. File this under random facts, as this is probably an exception to the rule since the color seems to be consistently popular as a warm, welcoming hue.

I do like burnt ochre as an autumnal shade. There is something more unpredictable about it.

Speaking of unpredictability, fall has blown into town and soup weather has firmly established itself somehow, already. And I made this ‘orange’ soup and truly loved it.

Tomato-carrot soup

  • 1 bunch thin carrots
  • 6 medium-sized tomatoes
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 1 t cumin seeds
  • 2 T mild curry powder
  • salt, pepper
  • olive oil

1. Slow roast lightly salted tomatoes in a 325F degree oven for about an hour. Add carrots tossed in olive oil and cumin seeds and roast for another 30-35 minutes until tender.

2. Saute the onions with a little bit of olive oil. Add roasted veggies to the pan.

3. In a large pot, combine the onions, tomatoes, carrots and stock. Bring to boil and simmer for 10 minutes.

Taste and season with salt and pepper.IMG_1636

4. Blend soup in batches (or use an immersion blender), adding in the curry powder.

Serve warm with crusty bread.

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our-growing-edge-badgeThis post is part of the monthly link up party Our Growing Edge. This event aims to connect food bloggers and inspire us to try new things. This month is hosted by Corina from Searching for Spice.

You can find out more about Our Growing Edge by clicking here.

Zucchini, lemon and feta

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While I rarely keep it simple in other aspects of life, I like my cooking to remain largely uncomplicated.

Seasons and ingredients offer a natural inspiration and when an herb garden and a grill are involved, less is most definitely more.

Join me in enjoying these last few days of al fresco dining by making this simply delicious and – dare I say it – piquant zucchini dish.

Tips: Treat the zucchini like eggplant in this recipe and salt, ‘sweat’ and then dry them before grilling.

Zucchini, lemon and feta 

(adapted from Nigel Slater’s Tender)

  • 3 zucchini
  • 1 block of Greek feta
  • zest of one lemon
  • juice of half a lemon
  • olive oil
  • salt, pepper
  • fresh basil

1. Slice the zucchini lengthwise into relatively thin strips. Salt them and set aside for 20-25 minutes as they ‘sweat.’ Dry with paper towels before grilling.

2. In the meantime, make the dressing by mixing the zest of a lemon with lemon juice and olive oil. Add salt and pepper and a handful of torn basil leaves.

3. Grill the zucchini, turning a few times. Grill the block of feta lightly, as well.

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4. Toss the zucchini in the dressing and let stand for 10-15 minutes before serving with feta and more fresh basil, and, perhaps, another drizzle of good olive oil.

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Pink peppercorn, heirloom tomato and basil quiche

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A quiche is a good thing to have around, it’s a crowd-pleaser and a great pinch-hitter for any meal.

I love the zip and zing of the bejeweled pink peppercorns sprinkled throughout the quiche and pressed into the crust. I kind of put them in//on everything.

Extra bonus: it all makes me think of the approaching fall colors and the bright ruby maple leaves coming our way.

Tips: Some prefer it hot, but I tend to like quiche cold, with a side of crunchy frisee salad topped with a hearty vinaigrette. Of course, serve it however you prefer.

{more seasonal quiche ideas here, with chanterelles & thyme..}

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Pink peppercorn, heirloom tomato and basil quiche

You’ll need:

  • a handful of pink peppercorns, lightly crushed
  • for pastry: 2 cups AP flour+ 1 1/3 sticks of butter (about 150g)+1 egg+2 T cold milk+pinch of salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup grated cheese (I used a mozzarella and parmesan mix)
  • about 6-8 small heirloom tomatoes, halved
  • salt, pepper
  • 1/3 cup basil leaves, torn

1. In a food processor, pulse together flour, butter, and salt until the mixture resembles cornmeal. Add egg and milk and process just until dough forms. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead lightly to form a ball.

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30-40 minutes.

2. Preheat oven to 350F. Roll out the dough to about 1/4 of an inch thickness and place in a tart pan. Crimp the edges and prick the crust with a fork. Refrigerate for another 30 minutes before blind baking, using baking weights or beans, for 20 minutes.

3. In the meantime, whisk together eggs, heavy cream, milk, and cheese. Season with salt and pepper.

4. Take quiche shell out of the oven and lower the temperature to 325F. Pour filling into the shell. Place tomatoes and half of the torn basil leaves on top.

5. Bake for another 30-35 minutes until filling is set in the middle.

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Top with more basil leaves and a little more cheese, if desired.

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Quick treats: almond butter oatmeal cookies

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These will become your new “after-school special” or, alternatively, will make you feel like a kid all over again.

Quick and easy cookies, chockfull of nutty flavor and the smoothness of almond butter.

And, yes, you read that correctly – these bake in just 10 minutes!

I’ll confess… I ate three of these myself almost right out of the oven. But the almond butter keeps them soft and chewy for a few days, if they last that long in your house.

Almond butter oatmeal cookies

(makes about a dozen)

  • 1/2 cup roasted, unsalted almond butter, softened to a stir-able consistency
  • 1/2 cup (heaping!) quick oats
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 cup raw sugar
  • 1 egg
  • pinch of salt
  • a handful of slivered almonds (for topping)

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Combine all the dry ingredients in a medium sized bowl. Add egg and almond butter and stir together until smooth.

3. Use a tablespoon or an ice cream scoop to form cookies. Place them on the baking sheet and flatten lightly with a fork. Top with almond slivers.

4. Bake for 10 minutes.

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Cool on a rack or lift the parchment  off the baking sheet – the cookies will set as they cool.

Smoky corn soup

IMG_1613Saying a reluctant goodbye to summer months with this smooth, smoky corn soup.

Maybe it’s just me, but that wistful September feeling always feels just like going back to school, even when it’s been years and years since you’ve last gathered your textbooks and boarded that yellow bus.

The local corn this season has been fantastic – buttery, sweet and plentiful.

After all the barbecuing this weekend, we had some leftover corn. Grilling it and using the husks for the stock, infused this soup with rich corn flavor.

And if you eat it with your eyes closed, you can probably pretend that it’s still summer for a little while longer.

Smoky corn soup

(adapted from David Lebovitz)

You’ll need:

  • 3 ears fresh corn
  • 1 poblano pepper
  • 3 1/2 cups water
  • small red onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, diced
  • 1/4 t smoked paprika
  • 1/5 t red chili flakes
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • 1/2 t pink peppercorns (optional)
  • fresh parsley (garnish)

1. Grill the corn (pre-soaking it for 10 minutes, first) and the pepper. Take corn off of the cob (keep the cobs!), dice the pepper and set aside.

2. Cut the cobs into thirds, place into a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a simmer then, lower hear, cover and let simmer for about 30 minutes.

3. In the meantime, sauté the onions and garlic with a little bit of olive oil.

4. Take the cobs out of the water (squeeze them out well, if you can). Add corn, pepper, onion, and garlic to the soup pot. Add in paprika and chili flakes and bring to a boil.

5. Taste for salt. Add salt and peppercorns. Add in heavy cream and heat through. Serve topped with fresh parsley.IMG_1611

This soup is even better on the second day, as the flavors infuse.

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Summer squash caprese

imageA mix of ingredients fresh from the garden and the market, what can be better than that?

Sunday mornings, as the city just starts dragging itself out of slumber – and I, myself, probably need a large iced almond latte to get going – is the best time to have your pick of the fruit and vegetable stand offerings.

Pattypan squash are a rare late summer-early fall luxury, and they remind me of my childhood back when they were abundant and we would pickle them for winter (try it, they make for a delicious, crunchy pickle!).

And, really, the light, lingering spice of the squash ribbons and the colorful plate simply make me happy.

Summer squash caprese

You’ll need:

  • 1 small pattypan squash
  • 1 lb small, colorful tomatoes (preferably, the heirloom variety)
  • fresh mozzarella
  • fresh basil (I used Thai basil from my herb garden)
  • olive oil
  • 1/3 t chili flakes
  • fleur de sel

1. Peel and core the squash and use a peeler to cut it into long ribbons. In a small bowl, toss the ribbons with chili flakes and olive oil. Set aside.

2. Cut the tomatoes and mozzarella into rounds, arrange on your serving plates, and season with a little bit of salt.

3. Place little ‘nests’ of the squash ribbons on top of –  or next to – the cheese

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4. Top with torn fresh basil leaves and drizzle with a little more olive oil.

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And enjoying further farm stand bounty… there was a little plum pie for dessert.
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End of summer watermelon, raspberry and feta salad

IMG_1589Why mess with a classic? Especially in the last few weeks of true summer when all the fruit tastes just as beautiful as it looks.

The saltiness of creamy Greek feta (get the best kind that you can find) paired with the fresh crunch of watermelon and the sweetness of raspberries, with a minty zing thrown in… in my book, there is nothing better to eat in August.

Well… besides peaches and tomatoes, with more cheese and more mint. That’s right.

Watermelon, raspberry and feta salad

You’ll need:

{Note: exact amounts depend on how much you’re making, but keep the proportion to watermelon:raspberry:feta about 3:2:1}

  • watermelon, cubed
  • fresh raspberries
  • creamy & smooth lightly salted Greek feta
  • fresh mint, picked
  • a tiny bit of salt
  • a tiny bit of honey

1. Cube the watermelon into slightly larger than bite size pieces. Crumble the feta, using your hands.

2. Chiffonade the mint leaves and toss with watermelon and feta. Dress lightly with salt and honey.

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3. Add the raspberries.

Toss gently to combine and let stand, refrigerated, for about half an hour.

Serve chilled.

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Postcard from Texas

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{hello from Marfa, TX!} a really unique town with a modern art legacy and a vibrant young community.

It’s been fascinating to visit and engage with the blurring yet very much existent lines between the “old guard” and the newcomers – the artists, filmmakers, and food entrepreneurs – coming to town.

I’ve always wanted to visit the Chinati Foundation and see the significant works of some of my favorites like Donald Judd and Dan Flavin that are housed there. Housed is, perhaps, not quite the right word, as they are purposefully placed among the natural habitat and the once abandoned army barracks in Marfa.

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As the hipsters move in, so does the excellent, strong (and almost NY-priced) coffee at Do Your Thing Coffee and the veggie garden salads and homemade desserts of Cochineal, which I could have every day (and that may very well be the case as it can be the only restaurant open on, say, a Monday). I swooned oven the ginger-lemon pot de creme and the date pudding and the blueberry pie (and you know I love pie).

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