Nothing quite says fall like butternut squash. This butternut squash cream sauce recipe is great over pasta and makes a delicious change from the usual heavy cream or tomato sauces. It’s got sweet butternut squash, savory/sweet roasted garlic, and creamy parmesan added just at the end.
First, roast the squash, and the garlic, then pop it in a saucepan with chopped onions and puree the whole thing. A bit of cream and parmesan gives it a creamy, rich flavor.
I sometimes like to add a bit of bacon or pancetta crumbled on top for an extra bit of salty/savory deliciousness (and besides, bacon!).
I did try to make this as cleanup friendly as possible, but it’s a bit hopeless. There are a lot of pans involved! Luckily, since we’re only making enough for one person, they’re fairly small pans.
There are several pieces of kitchen equipment that are essential for this recipe. The first is good sharp sturdy knife. It’s got to cut through that peel. Next is a good peeler. Butternut squash can be hard to peel without one (although you can cheat if you want and get the pre-peeled, cut up cubes in a bag). And, finally a stick blender (or a regular one, but the stick is easier) to puree the sauce.
I tend to cut off a chunk, peel it, and then cut that up into cubes. It’s easier that way.
Now that fall has finally arrived, it’s time to start switching light meals and salads for something more substantial. This cider braised pork chop with sauerkraut is full of classic fall flavors, from rich pork, crisp apples and sweet cider. That sweetness is balanced by savory onions, piquant sauerkraut, and just a touch of brown sugar.
It’s great simple comfort food. This is a good dish for a weeknight dinner or even for company. You only need to use one pan, so there’s not a lot of clean up involved. And, after a bit of chopping and slicing it’s ready in about half an hour. Just be careful not to overcook the pork. Put everything together, deglaze the pan, and then cook it gently for 15 or 20 minutes.
There are lots of variations on this idea. Some add bacon. Others roast the pork. I added carrots, but you can also skip the carrots in the main dish and make my honey mustard glazed carrots as a side dish. The sweet honey and the savory mustard complement the pork nicely.
Fall has finally shown up (at least briefly), so it’s time for hearty comfort food. This Polish sausage and cabbage with potatoes recipe is both easy to make and filling. It’s a great meal for a chilly autumn day. There are only a few basic, everyday ingredients, but it still manages to be packed with flavor from rich sausage, braised cabbage, buttery Yukon Gold potato, and sweet carrot.
And, as a bonus, you get your entire dinner cooked while only using a single pot. As far as I’m concerned, less cleaning and washing up is always a good thing.
The technique is really simple, and there’s not a lot of fiddling. Basically, all you have to do to get a delicious dinner is to slice up and brown the sausage, add the veggies and broth, and then let the whole thing simmer slowly in the pot.
It takes less than an hour to make and you don’t have to stand over a hot stove while your dinner cooks. You can go do something else instead. For instance, you can pour yourself a glass of red wine and unwind from a long day or make a mug of hot, spiced apple cider.
It’s not fancy, or fussy, just good plain hearty food.
I used a Yukon gold potato, because they have a richer, more buttery flavor. However, an Eastern potato (or white potato) will work too. Avoid Russet (Idaho) potatoes, as they are best for baking (OK, I avoid them anyway because I don’t like them; they’re too floury).
Hot. Cold. Then hot again. Anyone else getting whiplash from this weather? The calendar says fall, but the thermometer reads summer. To beat the heat, try a leftover roast lamb eggplant spinach salad. You can use leftover lamb from my Greek lamb breast recipe, or just broil a lamb chop.
This salad is a festival of tastes, textures, and colors. You get luscious lamb topped with tender golden-brown eggplant over earthy spinach, refreshing crisp cucumbers, and sweet tomatoes. Then the whole thing is finished with a rich garlicky lemon mayonnaise.
I’ve sauteed the eggplant in a skillet (because I didn’t want to heat up the oven), but you can grill it if you prefer, or bake it in the oven (400 degrees for about 20 minutes). Then just add spinach and your favorite salad ingredients.
I have adapted this from a Silver Palate cookbook recipe which called for pignoli nuts and olives. I had neither, so I filled in with cucumber and tomato. You could also put in mushrooms, sprouts, experiment with different kinds of olives, or top it with toasted nuts. See the “substitutions” section below for more ideas.
You can either make the mayonnaise from scratch (homemade mayonnaise is divine, just remember to use it up quickly), or just dress up some store-bought mayonnaise with a bit of garlic and lemon juice. I like to “freshen” up commercially made mayo with lemon and olive oil whenever I use it. It tastes more like homemade that way.
Have this for a quick dinner, or make it for lunch. I think of it as an entree salad; it works for any time you want something filling without a lot of fussing (or waiting).
A great way to use up leftover lamb or get a hearty meal without a lot of cooking. This works for dinner or for lunch.
1/4 lb. or so leftover roast lamb (or one lamb chop, broiled), cut into cubes
5-6 slices eggplant, cut into 1/4 inch strips
1T olive oil
1 1/2 to 2 cups spinach, washed
1/2 beefsteak tomato, cut in wedges (or 4-6 cherry tomatoes)
sliced cucumber (about 1/4 cup)
Lemon Garlic Mayonnaise Dressing
1 small clove garlic, mashed
pinch kosher salt
2 T mayonnaise
1 1/2 tsp olive oil
3/4 tsp lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
If using pre-cooked lamb, take it out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature. If you are cooking a lamb chop, broil it for 7-8 minutes (turning once) and let cool while you prepare the eggplant.
Spread the eggplant out on a colander or a cutting board and sprinkle with salt. Let stand for 15 minutes and then rinse.
Dry off the eggplant with a paper towel.
Heat the oil in a small skillet and add the eggplant slices. Saute until the eggplant turns golden brown.
Add the spinach, eggplant, and lamb to a medium-size bowl.
Add the cucumber and tomatoes.
Combine the dressing ingredients in a small bowl and mix to combine. Taste and correct seasoning and/or add more lemon juice if necessary.
Pour dressing over the salad.
Leftover Roast Lamb Eggplant Spinach Salad Substitutions and Variations
Top with pignoli nuts, chopped almonds, or chopped walnuts
Add 1/4 C feta cheese and some mint
Add some sliced apples
Make some orzo and add that to the salad
Try different veggies like zucchini, bell pepper or squash
I know, broccoli is controversial (though not quite as much as brussels sprouts). Some love it, some hate it. If you’re not a broccoli fan, this recipe for oven roasted lemon garlic broccoli might change your mind. Roasting helps reduce the bitterness and gives the broccoli a nutty flavor (from the caramelization). It also makes the broccoli crispy outside, tender and sweet inside.
I have used frozen broccoli florets, because they cook more quickly (and I had a big bag of them). This is also more practical, since it’s tough for one person to eat an entire head of broccoli all at once! This way I can take out just what I need and the rest can stay frozen until I want it for something else.
Plus, frozen vegetables often have more vitamins and better nutrition than fresh vegetables do. That’s because the frozen version has been picked and then preserved (by freezing) immediately, while fresh produce may have traveled for days from some other state (or even country) before it gets to your supermarket.
If you have fresh broccoli (or a farmer’s market nearby), you can use that too. Don’t toss out the stems, they are just as good as the florets. They do cook faster (and better) if you remove the tough outer layer from the stems first. A vegetable peeler will work just fine for this.
You’ll also need to cook fresh broccoli a bit longer (since the frozen broccoli has been blanched first). Roast the fresh broccoli for about 25 minutes. If you like it super-crispy, roast it for half an hour (turning it once).
Coq au vin (or rooster in wine) is a classic French dish. It’s flavorful, it’s rich, and it takes a lot of time and effort to prepare. First, you season the chicken, let it sit overnight, then brown it, add vegetables, and braise it slowly. Authentic coq au vin also requires lots of pots, lardons, which are thick matchstick strips of bacon, glazed pearl onions, croutons, and finally toast points! It takes hours to prepare it properly. It’s wonderful, but it’s also a major undertaking, and highly impractical for a weekday dinner. In contrast, this stovetop coq au vin takes about half an hour to make. Much better!
I have adapted this recipe from Pierre Franey’s 60 Minute Gourmet Cookbook. Being French he called it “Poulet Sauté au Brouilly” (or chicken sautéed in Brouilly wine). I say stovetop coq au vin or chicken with red wine sauce and mushrooms works just fine.
And, once you finish a bit of chopping and browning, stovetop coq au vin mostly cooks itself. You don’t have to fuss with it, you don’t need to use half the pots in your kitchen, and you don’t have to clean them up either. This version only requires a single skillet.
When choosing the red wine, look for one that’s fruity and flavorful, but not too tannic. Wines such as Zinfandel, Brouilly, Beaujolais, or Merlot are fine (I used Merlot). On the other hand, a Cabernet Sauvignon would be overpowering.
It’s officially fall, so that means it’s also officially apple season! This easy one serving apple crisp recipe really satisfies that apple craving, while indulging your sweet tooth at the same time. I had a serious hankering for something sweet, but not too gooey, and this hits the spot.
Try to use apples that are large, crisp, and juicy, but not too sweet. I am lucky enough to have access to a greenmarket with a farmer who grows 75 kinds of apples. So, I used Esopus Spitzenberg (supposedly Thomas Jefferson’s favorite apple). If you don’t have 75 kinds of apples, Granny Smith or Mutsu or similar will do just fine.
The original recipe called for 2 cups of sugar (for 12 servings), which was waaay too much. Every other recipe I saw used half that. So, I followed suit and cut it in half. It’s still sweet and delicious, without endangering your teeth.
A mini chopper is essentially a food processor’s little cousin. This is perfect for grinding up the oatmeal in this recipe. And, it takes up a lot less space than a food processor. It’s great for chopping nuts, dicing onions, making pesto, or even grinding a small batch of meat for meatballs.
This dish is ideal for baking smaller casseroles, cakes, crisps, and crumbles. Use it for brownies, peach crumble or a mini-meatloaf. It’s perfectly content in the oven, the dishwasher, and the microwave. And, it also takes up very little space in your cupboard.
Most recipes for challah make two loaves, which is way too many for one person. This one is different. It’s a single loaf challah recipe, made in the Kitchenaid.
If you’re not familiar with challah (pronounced like the “ch” in “loch”), it is a sweetened bread that is somewhat similar to a French brioche. The difference is that challah is usually made with vegetable oil instead of butter (so that those keeping kosher can have it with a meat meal). Incidentally, the leftovers make fantastic French toast.
Challah is traditionally served every Friday night as part of the Jewish Sabbath observance. The bread is usually braided, into three, six, or even twelve strands. I read recently that it might be to emphasize unity; another post suggested that three strand represent truth, peace, and justice. Poppy or sesame seeds are manna falling from heaven.
Usually, the loaves are braided and end up long and narrow. However, on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur the loaves are round, to symbolize unity (no beginning and no end), unending blessings, and maybe even “the circle of life.”
This particular recipe was originally by Joan Nathan, which made two loaves. That recipe was then adapted by Deb Perlman (of Smitten Kitchen). Deb’s version was then revised to a single loaf by Jenny at Cuban Reuben and slightly adapted again by me. It’s almost biblical, isn’t it: Joan’s recipe begat Deb’s, Deb’s begat Jenny’s, and Jenny’s begat mine!
I did make a few changes. First, I used instant yeast instead of active dry yeast. And second, I found that I didn’t need four eggs, plus a yolk. Three plus the yolk were plenty.
1.5 tsp instant yeast (or one packet active dry yeast, which is 2¼ tsp)
1½ tsp plus ¼ cup sugar
¾-1 cup warm water
¼ cup vegetable oil
3 eggs, divided
1 egg yolk
1½ tsp table salt
4 cups flour
Remove the bowl from your stand mixer (preferably a KitchenAid). Pour the yeast, 1½ tsp sugar, and the water into the bowl and stir it all together with a long spoon. Use more water if the weather is dry, and less if it's humid. If you use the instant yeast, you can go to the next step. If you use active dry yeast, let it sit for 10 minutes until the yeast is bubbly and foaming.
Attach the paddle to your mixer. Now add the vegetable oil, two of the eggs (one at a time), the egg yolk, the rest of the sugar, and the salt, and mix that on Speed 2 (KitchenAid) to combine everything together.
Gradually mix in the flour, adding about ½ a cup at a time.
Once the dough forms a solid ball, swap the paddle for the bread hook. Knead about 5-8 minutes. f you don't have a KitchenAid, you can do it by hand, but it will take longer (10-12 minutes).
The dough is kneaded enough when it looks smooth and elastic, and you can pull it without tearing. If it looks shaggy and bristly, add more flour. If it's dry, add more water.
Coat a clean bowl with about a capful of vegetable oil. Add the ball of dough and cover it with plastic. I generally use a plastic bag from the supermarket. A shower cap will work too. Don't wrap it too tightly, you want to leave room for the dough to expand.
Let the dough rise in a warm place for about an hour. Then punch it down with your fist, cover it again, and let it rise for another two hours.
You're now ready to braid the challah. Sprinkle some flour on a counter or board, and sprinkle a bit more on your hands (to keep it from sticking).
Cut the dough into three pieces with a sharp knife. Take each piece and roll it out with your hands into a strand that is about 12 inches long. Pinch the strands together at one end. Then braid the strands together. Once that's done, wrap them all around in a circle. Tuck the ends in underneath the loaf. Transfer the challah to a nonstick cookie sheet.
Crack the last egg and beat it lightly. Brush about half the egg over the bread. Let it sit again, covered, for another hour.
Then brush it again with the rest of the egg.
While the bread is on its final rise, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Once the last rise is finished, and the oven is hot, bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown. If you want, open the oven halfway through the cooking process, and brush the challah again with any remaining egg (this fills in any bare spots as the bread expands).
Single Loaf Challah Recipe Substitutions and Variations
For an extra-sweet new year, mix 1 cup of raisins into the dough before you braid it.
Or, add 1/4 honey to the recipe
Top the challah with sesame seeds, poppy seeds, or salt
I’ve been fighting the creeping crud and nothing helps fight germs better than a big bowl of soup, preferably spicy soup. This Chinese chicken noodle cabbage soup is perfect. The spicy broth clears the sinuses, the garlic, ginger and chili sauce have antibiotic qualities, and it tastes good too.
I adapted the recipe from a recipe I found on Epicurious. It’s not just smaller quantities though. My version has less sugar, and is a bit spicier (I wanted the heat more than sweetness). Gotta fight those germs! Also, since I didn’t have tahini handy (and wouldn’t want to buy it just for this), I ditched that and used peanut butter instead. I didn’t have seasoned rice vinegar either, so I substituted the regular kind. Their recipe cooked the chicken by boiling it in the soup. I decided I wanted more complex, caramelized flavor, so I cooked it with the cabbage. And, since I didn’t have sherry I reasoned that since sherry was essentially fortified wine, that some red wine and a drizzle of honey would work just fine. It did!
This is enough for one generous serving, or two smaller ones, depending on how hungry you are.
This is great for lots of recipes: put it in Chinese eggplant with garlic sauce, chili citrus chicken thighs, sesame noodles, or add a kick to scrambled eggs or meatloaf. Or, mix it into mayonnaise for chili aioli.
This is just about essential for Asian cooking. Use it in this recipe, or for an Asian cole slaw. Baste meat with it, or combine it with some soy sauce, garlic, ginger, sesame oil, and scallions for a quick dipping sauce.
It’s suddenly fall-like here in NY, with cooler weather and even a few leaves starting to turn. So, time to start thinking about comfort food. And what better comfort food than skin on garlic mashed potatoes.
I’m posting this partly in honor of my sister-in-law, who loves mashed potatoes. She practically thinks they are a food group. When she married my brother, I included a larger version of this recipe in a mini-cookbook we made for her. Now, many years later, I make them slightly differently: not just mashed potatoes, but skin on garlic mashed potatoes. It’s less work, less cleanup and more nutrition. Win win win!
The original recipe calls for milk, but I was feeling decadent, so I went with half and half here. Use milk if you prefer. Or, even a bit of cream.
Make sure to use thin skinned potatoes that are suitable for boiling and mashing. I like to use either white potatoes, (sometimes called Eastern potatoes), or Yukon gold. The skins on the white potatoes are thinner than Russets, which makes them better for a recipe that calls for leaving the skin on the potato. Yukon gold are naturally more creamy and buttery tasting. Also, I’ve never particularly liked Russets, they seem floury to me. They’re higher in starch, and don’t reheat well. They also don’t hold their shape (not an issue for mashing, but a problem for potato salad or soup).