Sunday, October 31, 2010

All Hallows Eve

"But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping, and so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door..."

Nothing disturbs a quiet Sunday evening like the incessant knocking of trick or treaters. Thankfully, I had a lovely bottle of red on hand. Once the chaos of candy and costumes subsided, I decided to pair my large glass of wine with a slice of warm apple tart. The tangy green apples were dressed in brown sugar, freckled with golden raisins, and layered with finely shredded Gruyere. It was a treat, indeed.... so good it was scary. Will there be anything better than this sweet and salty score? Tell me, tell me - I implore! Quoth the raven, "Nevermore".

Happy Halloween!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Expecting Flavor

Well, there is a new baby on the way in my family and I couldn't be happier to once again be an aunt. The first time I became an aunt, I was away at school and the only thing I knew how to cook was ramen noodles. Now, immersed in a world of all things culinary, I am excited for an opportunity to focus my attention on homemade baby food. I started with the classic applesauce but moved quickly to something a little more unexpected... mango puree. After all, babies need flavor variety too. Packed full of vitamins and naturally soft, mango makes a great puree to introduce to a new eater and just might be the ace in the hole that gets a picky diner to fold. Congrats to the Lauers and thanks for giving me a new source of inspiration in the kitchen. I can't wait to see what unfolds.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Drinking Makes Me Hungry

Today was a quintessential autumn day. The air was chilly, the sun was shining, and the trees were dappled in copper and gold. This was a day for wine tasting, so I called a friend and we headed out to the vineyard. Beautiful scenery and free wine... not a bad way to spend a Sunday afternoon. As we bellied up to the bar, we were greeted with a selection sheet and told to choose seven varieties to sample. Sweet, dry and fruity were all in attendance. The dark horse of the day was the black currant dessert wine which had a perfect balance of sweet and tart. As it was floating across my tongue, all I could think about was chocolate - deep, dark chocolate - and what a perfect match it would be to this wine. I knew right then that a dense, decadent, flourless chocolate cake was on the horizon. Yep, today was pretty much a perfect day.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Indulging Inspiration

There are some days when I forgo the oatmeal with bananas and order the corned beef hash and eggs. Today was one of those days. I think I may have even giggled a little as the plate arrived in front of me... in all it's greasy, glowing splendor. Gluttonous as my breakfast was, it put my taste buds on high alert and inspired me to create a hash of my own. I started by sauteing potatoes, onions, and garlic in olive oil. Once that mixture was softened and roughly mashed, I added chopped chard. Everything was coated and simmered in a dressing made of stone ground mustard, brown sugar, and a splash of cider vinegar. Sweet, tangy and topped with crumbles of queso fresco, this hash was far from ordinary. Who knew that a little indulgence would lead to a day of inspiration?

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Autumn and an Acorn Squash

Three days deep in October and I have already started thinking about Thanksgiving. Granted, it's over a month away but there is something about chilly autumn air and the sight of falling leaves that transports me immediately to turkey time. Ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and clove have all been given a front row seat in the spice rack. The bold flavors of the season infiltrate my mind as I create, test and hone my holiday recipes. First up in the testing queue: acorn squash with cinnamon grits. Sweet and nutty on it's own, I decided to keep the squash relatively simple. Halved and deseeded, it received a healthy coating of butter and brown sugar. Twenty minutes in a 400° oven and the gorgeous edible shell was ready to be filled with grits. Brown sugar, cinnamon, fresh ginger, and cream cheese transformed the classic southern side dish into a sweet, spicy delight that paired perfectly with the roasted squash. Finished with salty fried onion strings, each bite was a slice of autumnal perfection. Test number one: approved and filed. Now, what to do with those squash seeds?...