Saturday, October 16, 2010

an october dinner

We were six for dinner last evening. The table was festive with flowers and candlelight, and the mood was convivial and sometimes hilarious. We started out with a black bean,walnut and basil pate on toasted slices of a slender ciabatta and a choice of red or white wine - or vodka. Then, at table, a salad of homegrown bibb lettucer,belgian endive, pear slices and goat cheese dressed with one of my favorite vinaigrettes, enriched with fig preserves. Our main course was roasted chicken thighs on a bed of slightly stale peasant bread slices painted with mustard and then drizzled generously with olive oil. Fresh lemon thyme from the garden, a couple of bay leaves and a head of garlic separated into cloves were strewn over the chicken. The scents wafting through the first floor were too wonderful. A pan of roasted cauliflower and broccoli and another of baby new potatoes baked with rosemary completed the main course. The appropriately autumnal dessert was a four-layer pumpkin cake with a cream cheese frosting embellished with a croquant of caramelized pecan,pumpkin seeds and candied ginger.Divine. We ate, we talked and laughed -great friend were the true icing on the cake.

Monday, October 11, 2010

An Indulgence of Apples

Fall sets my heart aflutter - a frisson of anticipation for the scents of the season, the brilliant foliage and, not least, the foods of autumn. No surprise then that I found the array of apples at the farmers market irresistibly seductive, arriving home with bags of Northern Spy, Macoun, Pink Lady, Pippin, Golden Delicious and more. The applesauce I produced was worth all the peeling. The pure flavor of the Macintosh fruit was perfection and the next morning I had a bowl of it topped with the sensational granola from Melissa Clark's new book. The unusual ingredient? Olive Oil - and salt. It's hard to pass the canister I keep on the island without reaching in for a handful.
Next, two apple pies utilizing a mixture of thefruitsand topped with a streusel. Then, for dinner with friends, a salad of belgian endive,raw kohlrabi,red pear and an apple, tossed with a lemony mustard vinaigrette. Yesterday I used all the Golden Delicious for two big coffee cakes, lightly spiced with cinnamon and with a pecan, cinnamon and brown sugar crumb mixture in the middle, between two layers of the dough - the cakes are gorgeous, reaching to the very top of the bundt pans.What do I have planned next? Chicken Normandy, browning the bird and baking it with sauteed onions and apples, adding at the end some creme fraiche and applejack. I love this served with egg noodles - autumnal comfort food.