Light and airy pumpkin mousse, with a good splash of bourbon, in a rich chocolate cookie shell topped with whipped cream swirls and crunchy candied pecans. Yeah, you need to make this.
Wotcha! Very occasionally we at Nerd HQ rifle back through the posts of this blog and try to find ingredients which haven’t been well-represented. It being autumn, and almost Thanksgiving and all that, we thought – heck it, let’s do pumpkin. It’s been a while, right? And then we looked back through the archives and realized we’d actually never done anything bloggable with pumpkin. (I don’t mean “unbloggable” like we’d done weird, private things with pumpkins, you nutter. I just mean we hadn’t cooked anything and photographed it.)
These crisp and tasty apple tarts are a great way to use up your fall bounty; using frozen puff pastry makes the whole process a lot easier, and they’re finished with rosemary-lime sugar.
It happens every year in the Hudson Valley, where we live. As soon as the leaves on the maple trees turn a ridiculous shade of red, we, residents and tourists alike, don our coziest sweaters and follow the scent of hot cider doughnuts to the nearest orchard. Once there we wander the grounds, hopped up on cinnamon sugar and crisp autumn air, filling baskets and gunny sacks with more Empires, Cortlands and Jonagold apples than anyone who doesn’t work in a pie factory would ever need.
Only once when we’re home and realize we need to put an addition on the house in order to store our haul, do we admit that maybe we’ve bought just a few too many. And just when I thought we’d succeeded in using our bounty, one of Matt’s local clients sent him home with a massive box of Golden Delicious apples from the tree in her yard. Oh well, we’ll just have to start working on that Salted Caramel Apple Pie idea I’ve been thinking about. #HudsonValleyProblems #AppleHumbleBrag
I might have mentioned that we’ve had a lot of company this summer. Like, a lot. And while we both love entertaining and cooking for a crowd (seriously, we’re so, so nerdy about it), it can be quite draining. So now that summer’s over and we’re back on our own, all we seem to be craving are the simplest, easiest, quickest things we can come up with. I mean quick like a sliced tomato sprinkled with Maldon salt and topped with a basil leaf. Or a slice of bread topped with mango chutney and melted cheddar. That kind of quick.
Though for some unfathomable reason, Matt frowns on my I’m-too-tired-to-even-care dinner, which is frozen peas eaten directly out of the bag. See, it’s genius because they defrost as you chew them. Oddly enough, Matt made that same exact face when he caught me in the… act.
Anyway, for those of you who I haven’t traumatized, I’m going to tell you something shocking. Are you ready? If you have some cold, leftover rice in your fridge, you are seconds away from a delicious, healthy dinner. That’s right. Seconds. Okay, minutes, but making fried rice is still crazy quick.
And once you know the method, this homemade version will be so much better than the greasy, soggy kind that you get free with your Chinese take-out.
An easy and elegant appetizer of roasted figs stuffed with blue cheese, wrapped in Serrano ham. Finished with fresh thyme, a drizzle of honey, and a few toasted almonds.
I know, I know, you’re thinking,”Emily, when did you become a member of the Royal Family cos, gurl, you fancy!” (I apologize for making you sound like a 1970’s sit-com character, but it was required for comedy purposes. You should see the wig I’m imagining on you).
Yes, it’s true that these beauties would be perfect alongside a glass of Champagne at an elegant cocktail party. But, truth be told, they’d be equally delightful with a (not terribly expensive) glass of rosé while sitting on the back deck. Guess which way we had them? (If you guessed “directly off the baking tray, standing in the kitchen with a dog and two cats staring at us”, you would be correct).
As fancy as they look, these are incredibly easy to make. On the preparing-for-a-party difficulty scale, they fall slightly above “pour potato chips into bowl” and well below “make homemade dip”. The hardest part is finding fresh figs, which isn’t very hard when they’re in season. If your figs are very ripe, you don’t even really need to roast them (but I find the combination of a warm, jammy fig, oozy sharp cheese, and salty ham to be irresistible).
If you’re making them for a party. you could prep them up to a day ahead and just roast them a few minutes before you want to serve them.
Ramps, a seasonal treat in the Northeast US, are in danger of being over-harvested. Since they are very slow to cultivate and difficult to farm, foraging is still the main way to find them. A wild ramp patch can be quickly overrun and destroyed. The most sustainable way to harvest ramps, if you find them yourself, is to cut only one leaf of each plant, leaving the bulb and second leaf to continue growing. This is least impactful on the soil, the plant, and the colony as a whole. You’ll find ramps in this form from sustainable vendors. If you have your own private ramp patch with bounty to spare, feel free to use the bulbs, as we did in this recipe.
Yeah, yeah. I know ramp season is over but I made these a while ago and they were so good I decided to blog them anyway. When it comes to ramps, it’s really the green leaves that are incredibly perishable so every once in a while, you can find just the bulbs for sale long after you stop finding the leaves. But what to do with them?
You may have guessed that I’m fond of making pickles. What’s that? Oh, that’s just Matt running in to the room holding a jar of brined pencils, screaming “Obsessed! You’re obsessed”. Fine. Yes. I’ll admit it. I love pickled red onions, radishes, cucumbers, even grapes.
So it should come as no surprise that when I found the last batch of ramp bulbs hidden away in a overlooked corner of our local market, I immediately decided to preserve them in a delicious, sweet/tart brine.
I like to think of myself as an organized person. I mean, I’m a film editor, for chrissakes. I basically organize millions of digital moments into a cohesive story for a living. So why is it that I cannot, for the life of me, plan ahead and shop for a week’s worth of recipes?
Is it because I was raised in New York City, where 24-hour bodegas and Korean markets permit, nay, encourage a person to decide at 11pm that they’re going to make a Chard Onion and Goat Cheese Tart even though there is neither chard, onion or goat cheese in the house? Why are you looking at me like I’m attempting to deflect blame for my questionable decisions? Ahem. Anyway, now I live in the boonies and that means I either have to:
A. Get organized and make a menu plan and corresponding shopping list at the beginning of each week.
B. Hit the lottery so I can hire a personal chef (one who allows me to post their recipes all over the internet and hover over their shoulder taking pictures as they cook).
C. Create delicious things that use pantry staples almost exclusively so I can continue my reckless and dangerously chaotic lifestyle.
Guess which one I chose?
I almost always have everything on hand for this recipe and, luckily, it also happens to be incredibly good. Obviously if you eat chicken and enjoy crispy things, nothing’s going to beat real fried chicken but I think we can all agree that deep-frying is not really an option for an easy, healthy, weeknight dinner. This chicken though, is all those things and more. It gets great flavor from the tangy mustard, garlic and thyme and develops a crunchy, golden brown crust.
I also make a simple yogurt sauce to go with it (if I remember to make or buy yogurt), but it’s equally good with just a squeeze of lemon and a sprinkle of Maldon salt over the top.