Fall Falls Short

October 10, 2009 at 8:24 pm Leave a comment


Well, perhaps this is a bit of an exaggeration...

Well, perhaps this is a bit of an exaggeration...

I lied.  But another brief whine is surely to be excused when an October 10th sunrise brings snow cover and the thumping of still-green leaves to the pavement in frosty clumps.  Ah; and just last week I noted here a hint of color, still hopeful that it would blossom into a the full-blown palette of golds and oranges and burgundies that we gratefully accept as our annual compensation for what lies ahead. 

The experts explain that erratic temperatures and not enough rain perplexes indigenous foliage – and indigenous folks as well, I would add.  But we bounce back by diving into the glories of cold weather cooking.  Tonight, let’s start with Squash Soup followed by a small Roasted Turkey, Roasted Potatoes and Root Vegetables, a little sunshine in the form of  Mango Avocado Salsa, a little color in the form of Raw Broccoli Flowerets, and a big loaf of Pumpkin Seed Bread with Spiced Orange Butter. 

For those indulging in dessert, I recommend a visit to http://www.taste.com.au for their lovely Banana and Date Custard recipe.  Otherwise, a cup of guilt-free Choco-Coffee of my own devising makes for a tummy-warming treat when there’s a winter bite to the air.  

For the soup: 

2 tsp butter                           2 tsp olive oil                       1/3 C chopped onion

2/3 C chopped celery           3 C chicken broth        3 cups cooked, mashed squash

1 C evaporated skim milk   white pepper to taste          nutmeg for garnish 

Heat the butter and olive oil in a medium-size soup kettle over medium low.  Add onion, and celery, reduce heat to low, and cook ten minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add chicken broth and stir squash.  Acorn works well; buttercup will yield a slightly sweeter soup.  Also, I used leftover, but frozen and thawed works just fine.  Bring to a simmer and cook 30 minutes, then cool to room temperature.  Puree the squash mixture in a blender until smooth, add back to pot, stir in the milk and white pepper to taste.  Reheat over low.  Serve with a sprinkling of nutmeg. 

I  roasted my favorite Butterball turkey according to package directions, meanwhile preparing the potatoes and root vegetables: 

6 small potatoes                       cooking oil spray                       5 small parsnips

6 med turnips                            2 med onions                          3 small beets

1 tsp dried dill                           salt                                           pepper 

Scrub, dry, and cut potatoes into halves (I like Yukon Rose or Klondike Gold), then cut each half into quarters and halve each of the quarters.  Cover two cookie sheets with foil and spread potatoes evenly onto one pan.  Spray generously with canola or olive oil cooking spray.  Trim, peel, and cut into bite-size pieces parsnips, turnips, onions, and beets.  Distribute cut vegetables over the surface of the second foil-lined baking sheet and spray generously with olive oil spray.  Sprinkle with 1 tsp dried dill, and salt and pepper to taste.  Roast vegetables at 350 for the last hour of turkey roasting time.  

And for a simple, crisp salsa side: 

1 med yellow sweet pepper             1/2 C diced fresh mango        1 large avocado, diced

1 fresh lime                               2 tsp minced jalapeno (optional)   salt to taste 

Chop yellow pepper into 1/2” dice and place in serving bowl.  Add mango and avocado, squeeze over all the juice from the lime, and toss to coat well.  Add jalapeno, if desired, and salt.  Toss again.  Chill.  

Earlier in the day, I made my pumpkin seed bread: 

3 C unbleached flour                 1 C whole wheat flour     1-1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp raw sugar             2 tsp cream of tartar              1 tsp baking soda

2 TB melted butter              7/8 C evaporated milk      7/8 C sour cream

1/2 C toasted pumpkin seeds   1/2 C toasted pine nuts            seeds/nuts for garnish 

Whisk together the bleached flour, stone ground whole wheat flour, salt, raw sugar, cream of tartar, and baking soda in a large bowl.  In a small bowl, whisk together melted butter, evaporated milk (whole works, too), and sour cream until well blended.  Stir the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients along with pumpkin seeds and pine nuts.  

Using your hands, blend this rough, dry combination into a cohesive ball, then place it on yet another foil-lined cookie sheet, forming it into a 9-10” circle with a slightly domed center.  Baking parchment, if you have some on hand, would of course do well in this application in place of the foil.  Press 1/8 C pumpkin seeds or a combination of pumpkin seeds and pine nuts firmly into the surface of the dough before baking, if you like.  Bake at 350 for 40 minutes, or until hollow-sounding when tapped.  Cool on wire racks before slicing. 

For the orange butter: 

1 stick of butter, softened             1/4 tsp each:  cinnamon, cardamom, ground cloves

1 TB orange juice concentrate            2 tsp brandy (optional) 

Place butter in a small bowl; stir in spices, juice concentrate, and brandy.  Mix well. 


The choco coffee can be made for low-carb types (like my husband) or for low-fat types (like me): 

Heat water to a rolling boil, and for each cup of water poured, stir in 1 tsp instant coffee granules – regular or decaf.  Add to each cup 2 tsp DaVinci™ Sugar Free Hazelnut Flavoring Syrup, 1 TB cocoa powder, and (for the low-carb version) 1 TB heavy cream or (for the low-fat version) 1 TB powdered milk.  Stir the coffee well before drinking, but prepare for your body not to stir for a good half-hour after drinking. 

So, the early arrival of bone-chilling weather doesn’t have to be such a disappointment after all, when you have just the right antidotes available in your own cozy kitchen.

Entry filed under: Musings of a Midwestern Foodie. Tags: , , , , , , , , , .

Attitude and Perspective – III Ah, The Smell of Cinnamon in the Air

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