Now that the weather has shifted to cooler mornings I have begun to crave a hot breakfast. This all-purpose waffle and pancake batter is one my mother used when we were growing up. She had a heavy, well-seasoned cast iron griddle for pancakes and French toast. It cooked everything very evenly. Feel free to adapt the recipe by adding a bit of whole wheat flour, cornmeal, or buckwheat. I sometimes use almond milk in place of whole milk for a dairy-free alternative. You can also use a bit of eggnog in the batter at Christmastime.
Belgian Waffles or Pancakes
1-1/2 cups flour, sifted
1 tablespoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
4 tablespoons sugar
2 large eggs, separated
1-1/2 cups whole milk or milk substitute
3 tablespoons canola oil or melted butter
Preheat waffle iron or pan and spray with cooking spray. In a large bowl combine flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Mix well. Add egg yolks, milk, and oil. Whisk until wet ingredients are fully incorporated. Beat egg whites until stiff. Stir a little of the whites mixture into the batter to lighten it, then fold in the remaining beaten egg whites. Use about 1/3 cup of batter per waffle or 1/4 cup for pancakes. Yields 8-10 waffles or pancakes.
When I first began blogging I posted a recipe for pasta with a roasted mushroom cream sauce. This year I’ve modified the recipe and it is a delicious and comforting autumn pasta dish. I use three kinds of mushrooms to make a stronger mushroom-flavored sauce: cremini or baby portobellos, chanterelles, and dried porcini. It will appear that there is too much sauce to cover the pasta, but use it all as it absorbs as it sits. This is the first year we have grown shallots, and find that they are sweeter than store-bought and add a nice oniony sweetness to the sauce.
Pasta with Mushroom and Shallot Cream Sauce
1/4 cup unsalted butter
2 tablespoons minced shallots
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 (24 oz.) pkg. cremini mushrooms, rinsed & rough chopped
1 (1 lb.) pkg. chanterelle mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1/4 cup dried porcini mushrooms
1/2 cup boiling water
1/4 cup white wine
1/2 Knorr porcini mushroom or chicken bouillon cube
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1-3/4 cups heavy cream
1 lb. celantani shaped pasta
1 tablespoon chopped flat leaf parsley
Melt the butter in a 4-quart pot on medium heat. Add shallots and garlic. Sauté 5 minutes to soften. Add cremini and chanterelles, a little salt, and cook 10 minutes to soften mushrooms. While the mushrooms are cooking place dried porcini in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Let hydrate for 5 minutes. Spoon out mushrooms, save soaking liquid, and strain it. Chop up hydrated porcini. Boil pasta water and cook pasta until al dente. Add porcini and drained soaking liquid to the mushroom and shallot mixture. Cook 3 minutes. Stir in wine and bouillon cube. Cook 3 minutes. Add thyme and cream. Mix, then taste and adjust salt and pepper to your liking. Cook to heat cream, about 5 minutes. Pour sauce over cooked pasta. Garnish with parsley. Serves 6.
Despite it being early October, our garden is still going strong. We have had lots of eggplant, tomatoes, and peppers come on all at once. This is a delicious spread that tastes best using garden-ripe produce. I like to make this in two steps so it doesn’t take up as much time as it would in one sitting. Roast the eggplant whole the night before you plan to make the spread. Chill it overnight. The next day scoop out the flesh into a food processor and add the rest of the ingredients raw. Purée and you are done. Serve with fresh warm pita bread.
Eggplant, Tomato, and Sweet Pepper Spread
6 medium Ichiban eggplant, stemmed and left whole
3/4 cup chopped fresh tomatoes
2/3 cup seeded and chopped sweet red bell peppers
4 green onions, sliced (use all but the top two inches)
1 clove garlic, sliced
juice of half a lemon, seeds removed
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt or more as needed
3-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wash and stem eggplant. Place on a baking sheet and roast for 40 minutes or until soft but not blackened. Let cool. Scoop eggplant flesh out into a food processor bowl. Add remaining ingredients and purée until smooth. If it seems too thick, add a bit more oil. Taste and adjust salt as necessary. Makes 2 cups.
Last year we started growing Jimmy Nardello Italian frying peppers. They are long, red, and thin skinned, and have no heat so they are sweet and delicious. You can eat them raw, pan fried or grilled. For the photo below I pan fried them in a cast iron skillet with nice results. They don’t take long to cook so they are a great, easy side dish. They may be my new favorite peppers to grow and eat!
Jimmy Nardello Italian Frying Peppers with Capers and Parsley
6 Jimmy Nardello peppers
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
2 teaspoons capers, rinsed and drained
1 tablespoon chopped Italian flat leaf parsley
Slice peppers lengthwise to split them in half. Remove the seeds. In a heavy frying pan heat olive oil on medium heat. Place peppers in the pan and season with salt and pepper. Cover and let cook 3-5 minutes until peppers have some blackened patches. Turn over, cover, and cook about 3 more minutes until peppers are fork tender. Remove peppers to a serving dish. Check to see if you need to add more salt. Top with capers and parsley. Serves 2-3 as a side dish.
I needed to use up a bag of okra from the garden and decided to try an Indian-inspired version. This is a nice way to dress up the okra. I love the flavor of toasted black mustard seeds and whole coriander seeds and they marry beautifully in this dish.
Indian-Style Roasted Okra
1 lb. fresh okra, trim the stems but leave whole
1/4 cup canola oil
2 teaspoons whole coriander seeds
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
salt and pepper
Light sprinkling of ground coriander, sweet paprika, and cayenne pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Pour oil into a baking sheet. Spoon coriander and mustard seeds into the oil. Place baking sheet in the oven and let the seeds toast in the oil until fragrant and mustard seeds begin to pop. This will take 5-7 minutes. Remove pan from the oven and add the okra to the pan. Toss okra into the oil, coating it well. Sprinkle the okra lightly with salt, pepper, ground coriander, paprika, and cayenne pepper. Toss well. Roast for 20-25 minutes until the okra is browned and fork tender. Stir occasionally while roasting. Serves 4.
Cubanelle peppers are thriving in our garden this year. Also known as Italian frying peppers, these thin skinned peppers are sweet and great for stuffing, baking, grilling or eating raw in salads. They range in color from green to red and are tender and delicious. We make the stuffing with homemade sweet Italian sausage and cremini mushrooms. Cut the tops off the peppers and use the pepper flesh around the stem for the stuffing. Discard the stem. Slit the peppers 1/2-3/4th of the way to the bottom so there is room to hold the stuffing mixture. It does take a little time to make this dish. I find the easiest way to manage the task is to cut and stuff the peppers early in the day (you can make the stuffing mixture the day before), then cover and refrigerate until you are ready to put the peppers in the oven to bake.
The stuffing is versatile. It not only works for peppers but as a filling for stuffed cabbage or escarole. It is also good for layering in lasagna or large shell-shaped pasta. Add homemade croutons and a bit of stock for a very good Thanksgiving dressing. Any leftover stuffing can be fried into a delicious sausage burger.
Italian Sausage and Mushroom Stuffed Cubanelle Peppers
12 Cubanelle peppers
extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
1 lb. loose sweet Italian sausage with fennel
2 cups chopped cremini mushrooms or 1 (24 oz.) package
1/4 cup finely chopped Cubanelle peppers (use flesh around stem)
1/4 cup finely chopped red or yellow onions
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3/4 cup grated whole milk mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup Italian-style breadcrumbs
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon finely chopped Italian flat leaf parsley
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil. Slice the tops off the peppers, reserving the flesh around the stem to finely chop for the filling. Slice peppers lengthwise 1/2-3/4 of the way down the pepper and remove the seeds and rib. Place prepared peppers on the foil-lined baking sheet. In a large bowl combine all the stuffing ingredients and mix by hand until everything is evenly distributed. Stuff each pepper, but do not pack too tightly. Sprinkle the peppers with a bit of salt. Drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil. Cover tightly with foil and bake 45-50 minutes until the peppers are fork tender and the filling is browned and cooked through. Remove top foil cover and brown lightly under the broiler just before you are ready to serve. Serves 6-8 as a side dish.
Stuffed Peppers Before Baking
Baked Stuffed Cubanelle Peppers
During the months of September and October our yard is loaded with ripe raspberries, and this year we also have an abundance of figs from our almost 20-year old tree. Raspberries and figs are a delicious dessert combination. This cake may appear rather plain on the surface, but the flavors blend beautifully (and you can always dress it up with a little whipped cream or creme fraiche). You can’t go wrong with browned butter, almonds, and raspberries along with jammy figs. If you don’t have access to figs, just add more raspberries to the batter. The recipe is a variation on an earlier post for Italian Plum Almond Cake.
Raspberry Fig Almond Cake
1/2 cup butter
1 cup flour
1/2 cup almond flour
1/4 cup sliced almonds, finely chopped
1-3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
zest of half a medium lemon
3/4 cup milk
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup fresh raspberries, rinsed
4 medium fresh figs, stemmed and sliced into rounds
2 tablespoons Demerara sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-inch springform pan or line a greased 12×6 pan with parchment. Begin by browning the butter. Place butter in a shallow pan and cook on medium low heat until it melts and becomes foamy. The foam will subside and eventually the butter will cook until it develops flecks of brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Be sure not to burn it. It will take 7-10 minutes. Remove from heat once the browned flecks have formed. Set aside to cool. In a medium size bowl combine flours, almonds, baking powder, salt, spices, and lemon zest. Mix well. In a separate bowl whisk together browned butter, milk, sugar, and egg. Mix well. Add extracts. Whisk in dry ingredients 1 cup at a time, then fold in raspberries. Pour batter into prepared pan. Place sliced figs on top, then sprinkle Demerara sugar over the figs and batter. Bake 45-50 minutes, rotating the pan half way through baking. Remove from oven when an inserted toothpick comes clean. Cool on rack. Serves 8.
We have been buying Indian snack mix (also called “hot mix”) for years, but I recently learned how to make a homemade version from my friend and cooking teacher Farida. This is my variation on her recipe. I love adding whole coriander seeds because they provide a subtle citrus note to the mix.
Indian Snack Mix
6 cups Rice Krispies cereal
4 cups shoestring potatoes
1-1/2 cups roasted and salted peanuts
2/3 cup golden raisins
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon fine salt
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoons cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon paprika (optional)
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
pinch of citric acid
2-1/2 tablespoons canola oil
3 tablespoons whole coriander seeds
2 teaspoons black mustard seeds
In a large bowl combine Rice Krispies, shoestring potatoes, peanuts, and raisins. Toss, then set aside. In a small bowl combine sugar, salt, turmeric, cayenne, paprika, ground coriander, garlic and onion powder, and a pinch of citric acid. Mix and set aside. In an 8-quart heavy bottom pot, heat oil on medium high heat. Once it is warm add whole coriander seeds and mustard seeds. Stir for about 2 minutes and when the mustard seeds begin to pop and coriander becomes fragrant add the cereal mixture. Stir to mix the mustard and coriander seeds into the cereal. Cook for 2 minutes or so until the cereal mixture begins to get a bit of golden color. Remove from heat and sprinkle in spice mixture. Stir well to combine. Pour onto a baking sheet. Spread and let cool completely. Store in an airtight container. Makes 10-12 cups.
Last weekend I hosted a dinner party for which I cooked Indian food and wanted something fruity to accompany it. Peaches are still in season here and they marry well with the flavor of mangos, so I made this uncooked compote. I also added cubes of coconut gel for a nice textural contrast. It is available in Southeast Asian grocery stores under the name nata de coco. It was delicious and refreshing, also very versatile. It also makes a nice dessert sauce for cheesecake or ice cream.
Peach Mango Fruit Compote
15 medium-size ripe peaches, peeled and sliced
1/4 cup sugar or more to taste
juice of half a lemon
1/2 (30 oz.) can Kesar Mango pulp
1 (17 oz.) jar coconut gel in syrup (nata de coco), drained
In a large bowl mix sliced peaches with sugar and lemon juice. Stir to dissolve sugar. Add 1/2 can mango pulp. Save the rest of the mango pulp for another use (it freezes well). Add drained coconut gel cubes and mix well. Taste and add sugar if needed. Cover with plastic wrap and chill until ready to serve. Serves 8-10. Double recipe if feeding a crowd.
This is a great way to use up leftover corn on the cob. It is not a low-fat recipe, but it is a nice change once or twice during corn season. I like to use a cast iron skillet to make this dish because it distributes the heat evenly.
Creamed Corn with Pink Peppercorns and Thyme
8 ears corn on the cob, cooked
1/4 cup unsalted butter
2 cups heavy cream
salt to taste
1-1/2 teaspoons pink peppercorns
1-1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
Remove the corn kernels from the cob. You want 5-6 cups of corn. Heat a cast iron skillet on medium heat. Add butter and let melt. Add corn with salt to taste. Let cook, stirring often until corn just begins to get a bit of golden color on it and there are brown bits in the bottom of the pan. It should take 7-8 minutes. Add cream, a little salt, pink peppercorns and thyme. Bring to a boil. Turn heat to low and let cook uncovered 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste and adjust salt. It should be ready when the cream has reduced and is thickened. Serves 4-6.