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I promise that I have been doing much more in the kitchen than baking up butter and sugar-laced treats. It just seems that the only time I think to snap a picture is when I have a baking project going on. Truthfully though, I haven’t been spending as much time in the kitchen as I would like to. We just moved and are still getting settled in. I was out of town for a week visiting family and friends across Connecticut and New York. And next week I am starting grad school so I am busy preparing for that, too.

Our CSA is going strong. This year we opted with Lancaster Farm Fresh Co-Op. Everything is from Lancaster County, just an hour away. They deliver to our favorite coffee shop in our neighborhood (which also sells take-out beer), so it makes our weekly trip totally worth it. It’s also walking distance, so we don’t have to drive to pick it up! We are pretty inundated with greens right now, but we scored a pound of sweet cherries a few weeks back. I had a potluck for work and Father’s Day was coming up, so I put them to use immediately. Of course, I left some for snacking, too.

Brown Butter Cherry Bars
from Smitten Kitchen

For the crust:
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
Pinch of salt

For the filling:
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, diced
1 pound sweet cherries (you will not use all of them, so there should be plenty left for a treat later on!)

To make the crust: Preheat over to 375°F. Cut two 12-inch lengths of parchment paper and trim each to fit the 8-inch width of an 8×8-inch square baking pan. Press it into the bottom and sides of your pan in one direction, then use the second sheet to line the rest of the pan, perpendicular to the first sheet. (It should look like this.)

Using rubber spatula or fork, mix melted butter, sugar, and vanilla in medium bowl. Add flour and salt and stir until incorporated. Transfer dough to your prepared pan, and press the dough evenly across the bottom of the pan. Bake the crust until golden, about 18 minutes (it will puff slightly while baking). Transfer crust to rack and cool in pan. Maintain oven temperature.

To make the filling: Cook butter in heavy small saucepan (a lighter-colored one will make it easier to see the color changing, which happens quickly) over medium heat until deep nutty brown (do not burn), stirring often and watching carefully, about six minutes. Immediately pour browned butter into glass measuring cup to cool slightly.

Whisk sugar, eggs, and salt in medium bowl to blend. Add flour and vanilla and whisk until smooth. Gradually whisk browned butter into sugar-egg mixture; whisk until well blended.

Arrange pitted cherries in bottom of cooled crust. Carefully pour browned butter mixture evenly over the fruit. Bake bars until filling is puffed and golden and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 40 minutes (though, of course, this took less time in my hyperactive oven so please watch your baking times carefully). Cool bars completely in pan on rack.

Use the parchment paper overhang to carefully remove cooled bars from pan and place them on a cutting board and cut them into squares with a very sharp knife. The cherries, if they fall over your slicing lines, will want to give you trouble but if you saw a sharp knife into them slowly before pressing down, they’ll cut neatly and with minimum carnage.

 

I did not snap a photo of the finished product. They were so delicious I ate them almost immediately. I made a second batch and they came out even better than the first. Having fresh cherries definitely made the difference, but you can use frozen, or any berry of your choice. It would probably be a lot of fun to stud this cake with lots of blueberries or rasberries in the upcoming weeks while they are in season. I don’t know if I’ll make them again- they have a LOT of butter- but I would definitely recommend that you make them. And maybe share them with your friends.

 

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There is nothing as simple as chocolate and strawberries to make an impressive and delicious dessert. Usually this involves dipping the strawberries in melted chocolate, which is easy and always a crowd pleaser. For Mother’s Day this year, I wanted to make something that was delicious, yet easy, but would still impress the heck out of my ma-in-law. I’ve had some failures before involving last-minute Mother’s/Father’s day treats, so I was determined to find something utterly simple that I knew would work in a short period of time. I skimmed through my saved recipes and found something that caught my eye on The Kitchn a few weeks ago. A tart, with strawberries and marscapone cream, dotted with bits of dark chocolate chunks. Hello! I was sold.

The original recipe was from an on-line newspaper article from The Oregonian, discussing the simplicity of strawberries and the many different ways to use them. It combined a few different recipes, and The Kitchn basically tied them together and added a layer of rich chocolate ganache. The ingredients were easy to find and inexpensive. The recipe as a whole didn’t take long to make at all. I think I made it that Sunday morning, and brought the strawberries along with me to add once we arrived at dinner.

Strawberry Tart with Rich Marscapone Cream and Chocolate Ganache
Adapted from The Kitchn and The Oregonian

For the crust:

1/2 cup old-fashioned oatmeal, uncooked
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces (1 stick)

For the cream filling:

1/2 cup whipping cream
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup mascarpone cheese (cream cheese is fine, too)
1/3 cup finely chopped dark chocolate
1 pint strawberries, sliced
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar

For the ganache:

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup dark chocolate

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread the oatmeal on a rimmed baking sheet and toast in the oven until lightly golden and fragrant, about 5 minutes.

In a food processor, add the oatmeal, flour, sugar and salt. Pulse until combined and the oatmeal is chopped. Add the butter and continue to pulse until the mixture looks crumbly.

Pat the dough into a 9- or 10-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Use the back of a measuring cup to help spread it evenly. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until golden brown.

For the ganache, melt 1/2 cup whipping cream and 1/2 dark chocolate in a pan over medium heat. Stir constantly until melted. Pour ganache over baked oatmeal crust and chill in the fridge until firm and cool.

 

To make the marscapone cream, place the cream and vanilla in a mixing bowl and beat at high speed until cream begins to thicken. Sprinkle in the sugar, and continue beating until stiff peaks form. Fold in the mascarpone cheese. Stir in the chocolate. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

In a large bowl, mix the sliced strawberries, balsamic, and sugar until macerated. Refrigerate until ready to serve.  Immediately before serving, spread the marscapone cream in a thick and creamy layer over the ganache. Top with strawberries and serve cool. Eat. And eat and eat and eat. And enjoy!

What a hit! And honestly, so simple. I ate much more than I should have, and everyone else went back for seconds, too.  The rest of the tart was destroyed by Stu’s dad and brother. By the end of the night, we all had very full and happy bellies.  I guarantee that you will, too!

I know I am probably more than a month behind in this post, but I have been so excited to share this with you all. This year was the first time I spent Easter without my own family. I spent the holiday with Stu’s relatives and I was determined to bring something from my own family’s tradition. Although we are not super traditional-Italian, we always have an Easter pie. I don’t know my grandmother’s exact recipe, so I spent quite a while doing some research. I checked Food Network and found recipes from Emeril and Giada, but they just didn’t seem authentic. It was after a few different searches that I found a great article by Susan Russo from Food Blogga that totally defined my upbringing of Italian Easter dishes. I originally wanted to make a Ricotta Pie, but wasn’t keen on the addition of pineapple. I love the idea of Pizza Chena (or as we say, Pizza Gain),  but wasn’t into the addition of meat, and was a little intimidated by the whole concept. So I settled on the simple, yet delicious Italian Rice Pie, similar to my own family’s recipe.

Italian Rice Pie
adapted from Susan Russo

For the crust:
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 stick unsalted butter (chilled)
1 extra large egg or 2 small eggs
1 to 2 tablespoons ice water, or as much as needed

For the filling:

1/2 cup uncooked Arborio rice
4 cups of water or whole milk
7 large eggs
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons lemon extract (or the zest and juice of 1 Meyer lemon)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 pound ricotta cheese, drained

For the crust, combine flour, sugar, salt and baking powder in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Pulse several times to combine. Add the butter and pulse about 10 times until the dough becomes pebbly in texture. Add the eggs and pulse repeatedly until the dough begins to stick together. Slowly add the ice water by the tablespoonful, while using a few long pulses. Add more drops of ice water as necessary, until the dough holds together well. Invert the dough onto a floured work surface. Form the dough into a ball, flatten into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate while preparing the filling. (Dough can be refrigerated for up to 2 days before continuing.)

If you don’t have a processor, then combine the dry ingredients in a bowl. Add chunks of chilled butter, and using a pastry blender or two forks, chop the butter until it resembles little pebbles. At this point, add the eggs and ice water, and stir with a spoon until the dough begins to form. Using your hands and working the dough as little as possible, transfer it to a lightly floured surface. Knead until the dough holds together. Form the dough into a ball, flatten into a disc, wrap in plastic and refrigerate while preparing the filling. (Dough can be refrigerated for up to 2 days before continuing.)

To make the filling, place the rice and water or whole milk in medium heavy-bottom saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and cook the rice, uncovered, stirring occasionally for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until the water is absorbed and the rice is sticky. The rice should still be firm as it will finish cooking in the oven. Remove from heat and set aside.

Add the eggs and sugar to a large bowl. Using a hand-mixer, beat until well combined. Add the lemon extract (or zest and juice) and vanilla, and beat on low for about 10 seconds. Add the drained ricotta, and beat on low for a few seconds until just combined. Stir in the cooked rice. Mix with a rubber spatula until well combined, making sure there are no clumps of rice. Place in the refrigerator.

Place a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees. Coat a 10 1/2-inch pie plate with cooking spray. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and roll into an 11 1/2-inch circle. Transfer the dough to the prepared pie plate, gently pressing it into the bottom and sides. No fluted crust is necessary. At this point, set the crust in the freezer for about 10 to 15 minutes to get it really chilled, which will make for a flakier crust.

Remove the chilled crust from the freezer and pour the filling to about 1/4 of an inch below the top of the crust, as it will puff up slightly when baking.

Bake for 1 hour or until the filling puffs up, turns golden, and is “set,” meaning it should be firm, not jiggly when you gently move the pie plate. Remove from the oven and let cool on a rack. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

Note: If you have some extra filling left over, you can pour it into a small baking dish or ramekins for a crustless version, and follow the same baking instructions. Leftover rice pie can be stored in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days.

This came out almost exactly as how I remembered it. I would have loved to use fresh lemon, but was skeptical of using regular grocery-store lemons as opposed to the Meyer variety. I settled on lemon extract, begrudgingly. The pie was delicious though. The cheese and rice was a perfect combination, and it looked absolutely lovely in my Le Crueset pie plate that I got for Christmas. It was a huge hit at dinner. I left some of the leftovers and took some home to have for breakfast later in the week. I can’t wait to make it again next year. I may even try some Pizza Chena! I recommend this dish even if it’s not the Easter holiday. It’s delicious and refreshing.

My last post was about two months ago. In that post, I made a big deal about how I’ve been super busy, but that I promised to get back into the swing of things. I also made a big stink about giving up meat for Lent. I can’t promise that I’ll be back in the swing of things, but I can tell you that a lot has happened since my last post. For one thing, I got accepted into graduate school for Elementary Education and certification. Hurrah! I’m going to be a teacher. I also successfully gave up meat. I lost 6 lbs. doing it. Then I gained 3 (or more) back when I went on vacation to Boston and New Hampshire and drank lots of different beers. Then I ran a 10 mile race. And now I probably want to run a lot more. That being said, I have a lot more free time now that graduate school applications are out of the way (for good) and I’m no longer training for my run (for now.)

I can go on and on for hours about all of the terrific, and not so terrific meals that I cooked while I was without meat. I can also tell you about the terrible cheeseburger that I had after my race on Sunday. But instead, I’ll leave you with a post about one of my favorite meals that I made while I was without meat. I loved it so much, I’ll make it again and again. It’s called Pad Thai. And it’s awesome.

Vegetarian Pad Thai
Adapted from Mark Bittman 

12 ounces dried flat rice noodles, 1/4inch thick
5 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 eggs, lightly beaten
4 garlic cloves, minced
8 ounces pressed tofu, or extra-firm tofu, blotted dry and sliced
2 scallions, cut into 1-inch lengths
1 cup bean sprouts, rinsed and trimmed
2 tablespoons nam pla (Thai fish sauce)
2 teaspoons tamarind paste or ketchup
2 teaspoons sugar
1 /4 cup chopped peanuts
1 /4cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
2 small fresh jalapeno peppers
1 lime, cut into wedges

Put the noodles in a bowl and pour boiling water over them to cover. Soak until softened, at least 15 minutes; if you want to hold them a little longer, drain them, fill the bowl with cold water, and return the noodles to the bowl.

Put 2 tablespoons of the oil in large skillet over medium heat. When hot, add the eggs and scramble quickly for the first minute or so with a fork almost flat against the bottom of the pan; you’re aiming for a thin egg crêpe of sorts, one with the smallest curd you can achieve. Cook just until set and transfer the crêpe to a cutting board. Cut into 1/4-inch strips and set aside.

Raise the heat to high and add the remaining oil. When hot, add the garlic, tofu, scallions, and half the bean sprouts to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to a plate.

Put the drained noodles, eggs, nam pla, tamarind, and sugar in the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until the noodles are heated through, then add the stir-fried tofu mixture. Toss once or twice and transfer the contents of the pan to a serving platter. Top with the peanuts, cilantro, chiles, and remaining bean sprouts. Serve with the lime wedges.

This dish is particularly special because Stu and I have been trying to recreate it for years. My dad actually makes a killer Pad Thai, with chicken and sometimes shrimp, and he made it for us one of the first times Stu came to my house for dinner. We’ve been trying to make our own ever since, and have been continuously unsuccessful. Mostly because we can’t get the noodles to the right consistency, but also because we wait until the verrrry last minute to prep everything. Something clicked with this recipe though, probably because we didn’t use meat so we weren’t juggling as many steps as normal. This dish was divine! I loved every bite of it, and the leftovers the next day. A co-worker who used to work at a Thai restaurant even commented on how delicious it looked. I was super pleased. This is certainly one dish that made giving up meat a breeze!

I am backed up on posts, so this meal is from a few weeks ago, but I don’t think it’s too late to enjoy it, even though pumpkins have given way for candy canes, chocolates, and tons of delicious cookies. I made this right after Thanksgiving with a pumpkin that I’d had in my apartment as a decoration for the Fall. I felt bad throwing it out, and decided to honor it properly by cooking it up!

I had been saving a recipe that was sent to us by our CSA from way back in October. I was waiting specifically until I didn’t have need for a pumpkin anymore. So after Thanksgiving came to an end, I got right to work.

Roasted Pumpkin Curry
from Nibbledish.com

1/2 of  1 small pumpkin seeded, peeled, and cubed
1 can of coconut milk
1/2 cup vegetable stock
2 or 3 tablespoons of red curry paste
2 or 3 tablespoons of fish sauce
4 or 5 tablespoons sugar
1 red bell pepper, julienned
8 oz. firm tofu, diced into small cubes
1 cup of green peas (fresh or frozen)
1/2 cup of chopped carrots
1 cup of steamed jasmine rice

Preheat oven to 400F.

Cut pumpkin into two halves and roast, cut side down, for at least 1 hour.

Meanwhile, bring coconut milk, fish sauce, sugar, and curry paste to a boil. Reduce heat and add bell pepper, carrots, tofu, green peas, and roasted pumpkin. Simmer until bell pepper and carrots are soft. Serve with steamed jasmine rice.

This dish was so delish! I was really surprised how well the pumpkin worked with the curry. It was very spicy- great for a chili night. The chili paste and the coconut milk made it silky, spicy and sweet. The vegetables complimented it well and the rice made it thick enough to fill you up. I highly recommend this for veggie lovers and my vegan friends. If you don’t have access to a pumpkin (by now it is past Christmas and finding one is probably quite a challenge), you can probably use any type of winter squash. I’ll probably make this meal again before Winter comes to an end. I am pretty obsessed and have been singing it’s praises for over a month now!

I’ve never been a huge fan of Brussels sprouts. This is just purely based on the idea of BrusselsSprouts, not even the taste. I hadn’t event tried them until a few years ago when I spent my first Thanksgiving away from home, when a friend brought a side dish of sprouts to our  potluck. I didn’t fancy them back then, and I was still skeptical of them until recently. We received some in our CSA share in the month of November. I was a little reluctant, but Stuart was ecstatic. I took a measly bundle from the bottom of the bin, and searched far and wide for a good recipe. I ended up cooking them in a Frittata with bacon, and it was absolutely horrendous. I swore off the sprouts again.

Not too long after, as Thanksgiving was approaching, we received some more from our CSA. Stu encouraged me to give them another go around, so I told him I would. I also was lucky enough to stumble upon an episode of Alton Brown’s Good Eats that was specifically centered around the beauty of the Brussels sprout. I thought I was ready to give them a try.

Oddly enough, I found my recipe in the October issue of Real Simple. This was after searching culinary magazines, websites, and blogs. It was a simple recipe for ravioli with Brussels Sprouts and bacon. Alton Brown had mentioned that bacon is the perfect counterpart to sprouts, and I love a good ravioli dish. I decided to give it a go.

Stu took the reigns on this one, as I was busy tying up loose ends (i.e. a pumpkin pie) for Thanksgiving

Ravioli with Brussels Sprouts and Bacon
from Real Simple Magazine, October 2010

1 pound cheese ravioli (fresh or frozen)
6 slices of bacon
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup pecan halves, roughly chopped
1/2 pound Brussels sprouts, thinly sliced
kosher salt and black pepper
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
grated Parmesan, for serving

Cook the ravioli according to the package directions.

Meanwhile, cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium-high heat until crisp, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer the bacon to a paper towel–lined plate. Break into pieces when cool.

Wipe out the skillet. Heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium heat. Add the pecans and cook, stirring frequently, until lightly toasted, 2 to 4 minutes.

Add the Brussels sprouts, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Cook, tossing occasionally, until just tender, 3 to 4 minutes.

Stir in the vinegar. Add the bacon and toss to combine. Serve over the ravioli. Drizzle with the remaining tablespoon of oil and top with the Parmesan, if desired.

Yeahhh! This was so good. I think the bacon did the trick, but also the fact that the sprouts were sliced so thinly. It was just the right combination of bitter green vegetable, savory meat, and soft cheese. Not only would I eat this dish again, but I look forward to the next time I can cook up some sprouts- even beyond the holiday season. Not too shabby!

 

A few weeks ago, around Halloween, I was making baked goods galore. Most of them were sweets, and some of them were for other people. but I admit that I did quite a bit of snacking myself. After eating Apple Harvest Muffins, Pumpkin Muffins, Pumpkin Scones, and Cinnamon Rolls for weeks, I decided to limit myself on the sweets. But, I still wanted something to bake and something to snack on during my morning prep period at school. I’d recently made a bunch of different jams, and we received some peanut butter from our CSA, so I decided that it was time for me to make some bread. For the first time ever. Uh oh!

There’s a recipe in my Barefoot Contessa At Home cookbook that makes a honey white bread. I’m not really partial to white bread, but I thought that it would be a simple enough recipe to start out with, plus it didn’t require a ton of research, because I already had it in my cookbook collection. I had all of the ingredients on hand, so I took a few hours on a Saturday afternoon and got to work. This recipe made two loaves of bread, so I froze one and will use it some time over the next few weeks.

Honey White Bread
from Ina Garten’s The Barefoot Contessa At Home

1/2 cup warm water (110 degrees)
2 packages dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1-1/2 cups warm whole milk
6 tablespoons melted butter, cooled
1-1/2 tablespoons honey
2 large egg yolks
5 to 6 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 egg white, lightly beaten

Place warm water in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment. Add yeast and sugar; stir and allow them to dissolve for 5 minutes.

Add the milk, butter, and honey. Mix on medium speed until blended. Add the egg yolks, 3 cups of flour and the salt. Mix on low speed for about 5 minutes. With the mixer still on low speed, add 2 more cups of flour. Raise the speed to medium and slowly add just enough of the remaining flour so the dough doesn’t stick to the bowl. Knead on medium speed for about 8 minutes, adding flour as necessary.

Dump dough onto a floured surface and knead by hand for a minute, until the dough is smooth and elastic. Grease a bowl with butter, put the dough in the bowl, then turn it over so the top is lightly buttered. Cover the bowl with a damp towel and allow to rise for 1 hour, until doubled in volume.

Grease two 9×5 inch loaf pans with butter. Divide the dough in half, roll each half into a loaf shape and place each in a prepared pan. Cover again with the damp towel and allow to rise again for an hour, until doubled in volume.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees. When the dough is ready, brush the tops with egg white and bake for 40-45 minutes, until they sound hollow when tapped. Turn them out of the pans and cool completely on a wire rack before slicing.

The concept of bread-baking is incredibly easy. I’m not at all afraid to try my hand at it again. With this particular recipe, I spread it out over an extended period of time, and I think that prevented my bread from turning out as spectacularly as it could have. We had a dinner party to attend, and I made the dough ahead of time, let it rise, and the refridgerated it, anticipating that I would be able to bake it once we returned home. Unfortunately, we were out pretty late, and I didn’t have enough time to bake the dough that night. I waited until the next day, but had to let the dough rise again, as it had collapsed a little after being in the fridge for so long. It turned out just fine, but I’m sure it would have been a bit lighter and more moist, had I baked it when the dough was fresh and not out of the fridge.
My next attempt will most likely involve some whole-wheat flour, but may still contain the honey. I have a lot of cooking and baking to do over the next few weeks for the holidays, so maybe after all of my seasonal stuff dies down, I’ll give another loaf a try. The moral of this post is, not to be afraid to bake bread! It’s incredibly easy, as long as you have some time and some patience.

This fall I’ve found myself pretty obsessed with butternut squash. I don’t think I’m the only one who has this sentiment, but I can’t stop myself from picking one up every time we go to our CSA or I hit up a farmer’s market or farm stand. My goal this year though, is to find new and unique ways to cook with the squash, instead of just roasting it or putting it in soups. I’ve had some success with this so far, although I did use some squash in a delicious butternut squash and pear soup. My favorite recipe so far though, has been a butternut squash sauce recipe that I’ve been using on pasta for the past few weeks.

Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce
from Martha Stewart

1 medium butternut squash (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon dried rubbed sage
Coarse salt and ground pepper
5 cloves garlic, peel on
1 cup half-and-half
Pasta (such as cheese ravioli or any short pasta), for serving
Toppings, such as grated parmesan cheese, chopped toasted walnuts, finely chopped fresh sage

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Using a large, sharp knife, trim ends; halve squash crosswise to separate bulb from neck. Peel with a vegetable peeler. Cut both pieces in half lengthwise. With a spoon, scoop out seeds; discard.

Cut squash into 2-inch chunks; transfer to a small rimmed baking sheet. Toss with oil and sage; season generously with salt and pepper. Scatter garlic around squash. Roast until squash is very tender, about 40 minutes, tossing once halfway through. Remove and discard skin from garlic.

Transfer squash and garlic to a food processor; puree. With motor running, add half-and-half through the feed tube; process until smooth. Add 1 to 2 cups water; continue to process until smooth, adding water to thin if necessary. Season again generously with salt. (To freeze, see below.)

Cook pasta according to package instructions. Reserve 1 cup pasta water; drain pasta and return to pot. Pour sauce over pasta; toss to coat. Add some pasta water to thin sauce if necessary. Serve with desired toppings.

I made this recipe with ravioli the first time. I loved it because it was almost the same as making butternut squash ravioli with a squash filling, but it was much easier and less time-consuming. I don’t have a pasta maker, so making my own ravioli is out of the question at this point, but the sauce gave a taste that was just as good. It was fairly easy to make and there was a ton leftover. We had the sauce with another pasta dish the following week, and there is still some leftover. There is now some in the freezer for later on in the winter when I can’t access the squash as easily as I can now. I’m curious to try the sauce with something other than pasta, but I’m not sure how that would work. Post in the comments if you have any suggestions.

As harvest season is coming to  a close, it is refreshing to still see lots of leafy greens available. I was pretty excited last week when we received a beautiful bunch of swiss chard in our CSA share. I’ve cooked with chard throughout our CSA season, but I was interested in looking for a more autumn-themed dish. I can always count on my Eating Well: In Season cookbook to provide me with a seasonal meal.

The recipe that I found was pretty similar to some of the frittatas that I’ve made throughout the summer except that this recipe called for a tart crust made from scratch. I was pretty excited to give it a try.

Chard and Feta Tart
Adapted from Eating Well In Season

Crust

3/4 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 and 1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano, or 1/2 teaspoon dried
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
5 tablespoons cold water

Filling

2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
6 cups chopped chard (about 1 bunch), leaves and stems separated.
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons water
2 large eggs
1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup chopped pitted Kalamata olives
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese

To prepare crust:

Combine whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, oregano, salt and 3/4 teaspoon pepper in a bowl. Make a well in the center and add 1/3 cup oil and 5 tablespoons water. Gradually stir the wet ingredients into the dry to form a soft dough. Knead on a lightly floured surface until the dough comes together. Wrap in plastic and chill for 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400F. Coat a 9-inch tart pan with removable bottom with cooking spray.

Roll the dough into a 12-inch circle on a lightly floured surface. Transfer to the prepared pan and press into the bottom and up the sides. Trim an overhanging dough and use it to patch any spots that don’t come all the way up the sides. Prick the bottom and sides with a fork in a few places. Bake the crush until firm and lightly brown, 20 to 22 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes.


To prepare filling:

Meanwhile, heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add chard stems and cook, stirring until just tender, about 2 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Add chard leaves and 2 tablespoons water and cook, stirring, until the leaves are just tender and the water has evaporated, about 2-5 minutes. Transfer the greens to a sieve over a bowl and let drain and cool for 5 minutes. Whisk eggs, ricotta, lemon zest and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper in a large bowl. Fold in the greens olives, and feta. Spread the filling into the crust. Bake the tart until the top is lightly browned and knife inserted in the corner comes out clean, 30 5o 35 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes before cutting into wedges.

 

This was an awesome meal. The home-made crust was so savory from the black pepper and oregano. The filling was delightful. I didn’t have lemons on hand, so I added some lemon-pepper seasoning and it worked just fine. It probably wasn’t as strong as it would have been with the addition of grated lemon peel, but it worked. I loved the combo of the olives and feta with the chard.

This was a great recipe because it involved plenty of baking, but served as a dinner. Although I thought that making the crust would be an extra step and inconvenient, it was one of the best parts. I didn’t have a tart dish, so I used a regular pie dish which worked fine, but didn’t have the same aesthetic. If you are planning to serve this to guests or has hor d’eourves, I would recommend using the actual tart dish. I’ve stumbled upon a few recipes since that require them, and I’ll probably purchasing one in the near future, if I can find one at an affordable price. In the meantime, it’s not really about what this tart looked like, but how good it tasted while I was chowing it down!

If there’s one thing I’ve been obsessed with this Fall it’s apples. In the same way I fell in love with peaches this summer, for the first time in my life, I’ve seemed to really develop a liking for apples. Probably because most of the times I’ve been sinking my teeth into them, they’ve been right off the tree, as opposed to the grocery store display. I can’t get enough of Galas, MacIntosh, Honeycrips, and Jonagolds. I’ve been trying all different recipes, but was really excited to put these blushing red beauties into donut form. A few problems arose. One: I had no desire to fry up donuts, and preferred to bake them instead. Two: If I did find a recipe for baked donuts, it involved a donut pan, which I did not have.

After a while of searching, I was pretty excited to find a baked donut recipe that involved baking the donuts in a mini-muffin pan to make donut holes. I ended up having to purchase a pan, but I’ll definitely put it to use more often than I will a donut mold pan.

Oven Baked Apple Donuts
from Jennifer Bartoli, contributor to The Kitchn

1/4 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 1/2 cups bite-sized chunks of apple, peeled and cored
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/3 cup cold butter, cut into small pieces
1 egg
1/4 cup milk

To Coat:
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon powder

Preheat your oven to 350F. Whisk the flour, baking powder, sugars salt and and nutmeg in a bowl. Add the cold chopped butter. Rub the pieces of butter with the flour mixture until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

In a separate bowl, beat the egg. Mix in the milk and fold in the chopped apples. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture. Stir using a spatula or spoon making sure not to overmix. Place a spoonful of batter into each mold of a buttered mini muffin pan.

Bake for 15-18 minutes or until the donuts are just golden. Remove from the oven, unmold and lightly brush each donut with the melted butter. Dunk in a bowl with the sugar and cinnamon mixed in. Shake off excess sugar and serve immediately.

 


These donuts were everything that I hoped they’d be. Filled with soft chunks of apples, dipped in butter, and coated with cinnamon and sugar. The mini muffin tin made them just the right size to pop in one or two for an afternoon snack or a quick dessert after dinner. I’ve found myself snacking on them after a long day at work, with a mug of hot apple cider. It was delightful! These also make a really great gift for friends, or would be great to bring along to a party of brunch. They’re fairly easy to make, so this won’t be the last time I’ll enjoy them.