Several years ago, I lived in the middle of a very small town. On Halloween, all the families that lived miles and miles from town brought their kids to trick or treat - in the center of town. I have never seen so many children in all my Halloween days. I learned to prepare for 120 children, though I often ran out even then. I gave out wrapped popcorn balls from Act II that I bought by the case from Walmart in September, because they were so perfectly Halloweeny without being a candy overload. The rest? I made a LOT of homemade goodies, which you can still get away with in a small town - and guess what? The kids loved them! I was so amazed that I didn't even mind making an extra fifty or so and buying another carton of plastic wrap. And while I still live in the same town, I'm a mile from all the action, so I've been able to enjoy walking out with my daughter and granddaughter on Halloween for the last two years without being glued to the front door. Hope your Halloween is awesome!
The marsh on Link Road is quiet : the blue heron I saw just a few months ago has left for warmer places, and the birdsong is silent. The sheep in the fields on Peterborough Road will be trucked to their winter barn in the next few weeks, but the grass is still green in their pastures. One can hope, but a killing frost can't be too far away. Temperatures have hovered between 40 and 50 degrees - not bad for late October!
October has been beautiful so far, with only one light frost. The Post Office has redecorated their window boxes with some pretty plumes of grasses and little pumpkins, and we are midway through leaf season. Mornings are cool enough to start making chunky oatmeal with fresh apples, and to once again reach for my stash of One Pie pumpkin puree for pumpkin muffins.
I usually make the dense, moist, and rich ( melted butter, lots of spices, and diced crystallized ginger) pumpkin muffins from Open House Cookbook, but yesterday I wanted something a little lighter. It took me two minutes to find a pumpkin muffin recipe from Two Peas and Their Pod that came out perfectly: a tender crumb, but lots of pumpkin and cinnamon flavor. And I didn't change a single thing in the recipe, except for leaving out the cinnamon chips, which I didn't have on hand. You'll love them! Many thanks, Maria!
To make 6 Texas size muffins or 12 regular size muffins:
Preheat oven to 350F.
Grease the muffin tin.
1 cup pumpkin puree ( NOT 1 can!)
1/2 cup canola oil
2 large eggs
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 rounded t. cinnamon
1/2 t. nutmeg
1/2 t. allspice or cloves
1 1/2 cup King Arthur flour
1/2 t. kosher salt
1 t. baking soda
1 cup cinnamon chips ( optional) You can order them from King Arthur Flour.
In mixer bowl, mix the pumpkin puree, canola, eggs, and buttermilk. Add in the sugars and stir, then add the spices and stir again.
Add the flour and baking soda, then the cinnamon chips, if using, and mix well.
Using an ice cream scoop, place two scoops of batter into the Texas -size pan per muffin, or for regular sized muffins, use one scoop per muffin.
Bake for around 34 minutes, or until tops of muffins are firm when gently touched. Remove to a cooling rack for ten minutes or more before removing from pan. Let cool completely on another cooling rack.
Blessed evening, friends! The leaves have changed so quickly I am astonished. It's a bittersweet time ( see above), not only to see the trees shed their leaves, but to say goodbye to our local farmstand greenhouse, now empty and silent. I hope you've gotten out for some lovely walks before winter arrives.....
It's amazing how quickly our food tastes change with the weather. A few cold nights and I'm making quiches and soups and browsing through bread recipes . I love the scents of Autumn, including this fragrant crustless quiche loaded with my favorite vegetable ( spinach), a handful of parsley, and all my favorite cheeses, including a few tablespoons of an herby goat cheese I found recently. It's remarkable that that little bit of goat cheese can boost the flavor so much! Of course, if you can skip it if you don't care for goat cheese, maybe adding a little swiss or gruyere to the cheddar, parmesan, and mozzarella mix I use. I don't make a traditional quiche with a piecrust, mainly because I realized I never ate the crust, and neither did anyone else.
5 extra large eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
a few scrapings of nutmeg, or a hefty pinch
lots of freshly ground black pepper
kosher salt to taste
3 white mushrooms, wiped and sliced
2 cups packed sliced spinach, with a little parsley tossed in
about 2 cups of shredded cheese:
I use half cheddar and a mix of grated parmesan, mozzarella, and the goat cheese.
Preheat oven to 325F. Butter a 9" glass pie plate.
Beat the eggs briefly with the nutmeg and pepper and salt, then add the cream and milk and mix well.
Add in the spinach and parsley and the raw mushrooms, then the shredded cheeses.
Scrape into a buttered glass pie pan and cook for 50 minutes. The quiche should be firm in the middle - not watery. Remember it will keep cooking after you remove it from the oven.
Let the quiche set and cool before slicing - about 20 minutes.
Happy Saturday! My server is being difficult, so I'll make this short. I had hoped to have a glorious recipe for ginger scones, but they were dense and too heavy for me, even though I'd made my own homemade crystallized ginger chunks (yes!) and my mouth was watering at the thought of those scones. So be it, there are duds, sometimes, in this universe, and you learn to just look at the dud and carry on.
So I went for a walk instead. The day was beautiful and a very unlike-October warm. I visited these enormous cliffs of granite, which must be two or three stories tall, and a glorious place to walk. Our dog Lulu used to whizz off to snuffle around these boulders, once, coming back with a nose full of porcupine quills. Of course, she never learned to avoid those porcupine dens; the thrill of the hunt was just too much for her. And the vet bills? Astonishing.
Hope your weekend is beautiful, and sorry I couldn't fit in some more lovely woodland pictures - the uploading is now taking more than a half hour per photo . Enjoy your weekend!
It's raining buckets here, and it's a chilly, soggy day. Thanks to a late night biscotti baking session, I happily had the first cup of coffee with a dunkable, almond & orange scented biscuit ( actually, three). It puts a little sunshine into this gloomy morning.
Unlike some of the biscotti I make, this one has no butter, which is one reason it doesn't fall apart in a cup of espresso, but it's also a little plain. I added some fresh orange zest, and would've added anise seed, which is STILL missing. I've also made this with milk chocolate or chunks of crystallized ginger, but plain is just fine. I sprinkled a few slivered almonds on top of one of the logs and liked its spiky look, so I'll do that again next time.
It's important to toast the almonds, whether you use slivered, whole ( cut into pieces), or sliced, just until they're barely golden - it intensifies the delicious almond flavor.
Biscotti di Prato: biscotti dunking cookie
Prepare a cookie sheet by lining it with foil or parchment.
1 cup sliced, cut, or slivered almonds, toasted in a toaster oven until golden, and cooled.
2 extra large eggs
1 t. vanilla
1/2 t. almond extract
1 T. orange zest, or finely diced orange peel
2 to 2 1/2 cups flour ( I find it depends on the eggs and the weather)
1 cup sugar
1 t. baking soda
pinch of kosher salt
Preheat oven to 300F.
In mixer bowl, mix the eggs, vanilla, and almond extracts, then add the orange zest.
Slowly add the flour, salt, and baking soda and sugar, then add the cooled almonds.
Mix gently until the batter is combined and fairly stiff.
Using 2 spoons, scoop the dough onto the cookie sheet, making two "logs" of dough, side by side. To smooth the logs, just flour or dampen your hands and smooth out, leaving at least 2 1/2 inches between the logs.
Place on the top shelf of the oven for about 45 minutes, or until slightly golden brown and firm. Turn off the heat in the oven, but keep the door closed.
Remove to cool, then use a sharp knife to cut the foil or paper down the middle, between the two logs. Gently lift each log onto a cutting board, tip over, and peel off the foil or parchment.
Tip rightside up and, using a serrated knife, cut into biscotti, transferring them to another cookie sheet as you go. I arrange them tops up, not on their sides, so one cookie sheet is enough to fit all the biscotti.
Return biscotti to the warm oven for about 20 minutes or so, then remove to cool.
Let cool completely before packaging or placing in an air-tight tin. Once cool, you can also drizzle with a little melted chocolate, or dip them halfway, if you like.
This makes a lot of biscotti, depending on how thickly you slice the biscotti.