“Magnificent Autumn! He comes not like a pilgrim, clad in russet weeds. He comes not like a hermit, clad in gray. But he comes like a warrior, with the stain of blood upon his brazen mail. His crimson scarf is rent…. The wind…. wafts to us the odor of forest leaves, that hang wilted on the dripping branches, or drop into the stream. Their gorgeous tints are gone, as if the autumnal rains had washed them out. Orange, yellow, and scarlet, all are changed to one melancholy russet hue…. There is a melancholy and continual roar in the tops of the tall pines…. It is the funeral anthem of the dying year. “~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Fall is my favorite season for decorating and entertaining. Gourds, mums, bittersweet, pumpkins and the rich jewel tones of the season bring their exhuberance to warm the cooling days. It is an enchanting time of the year, full of vibrancy, texture and color, nature’s punctuating mark of the year. I was recently invited to speak to a local garden club and have their members tour my gardens. Today I invite you to visit as well.
“And when you crush an apple with your teeth, say to it in your heart:
Your seeds shall live in my body,
And the buds of your tomorrow shall blossom in my heart,
And your fragrance shall be my breath,
And together we shall rejoice through all the seasons.”
― Kahlil Gibran
A rustic free form apple tart is a fabulous fall dessert. Called galette or crostata, it is simply an unfussy tart. I love to serve it on a pizza peel to emphasize the casual beauty of this dessert. Adding a medley of spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom along with a splash of rum and some bourbon vanilla brings out fall flavors and makes for a very fragrant kitchen as the tart bakes. Everyone’s mouth will be watering by the time dessert is served. Add ice cream if desired.
With fall around the corner, thoughts turn to comfort dishes. Nothing like mac ‘n cheese for the quintessential comfort dish. With the addition of roasted poblano peppers, bacon and a crumb topping this dish will appeal to adults and kids alike. The poblanos add very mild heat to the dish. To kick it up a notch, use hotter peppers such as Italian or Hatch peppers. The mac’ n cheese is rich and creamy with layers of smokey flavors. Easy to make, it is a perfect marriage of creaminess and depth of flavor imparted from the smokey bacon and peppers. Using a larger corkscrew pasta rather than traditional macaroni really increases the ratio of creamy cheese sauce to pasta. In mac’n cheese, that is a very good thing! This mac’n cheese is fancy enough to serve to company, if you’re willing to share!
Golden beets beckoned me at the farmer’s market this week and star in this flavorful fall salad. Oven-roasted beets are paired with an interesting blueberry encrusted chèvre(Trader Joe’s) that I knew would look great with the beets. The salad was simply topped with thin slivers of red onion, crunchy caramelized maple hazelnuts, long slivers of lemon peel, a handful of pomegranate seeds and some fresh basil leaves. A drizzle of each, blood orange infused olive oil and orange muscat champagne vinegar made this salad and my heart, sing!
“Autumn seemed to arrive suddenly that year. The morning of the first September was crisp and golden as an apple.”
JK Rowling, Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallow
As the weather cools, this turkey cutlet dish is a lovely warming dish that comes together quickly in a skillet yet satisfies with its layers of flavors and comforting wine shallot cream sauce. Easy enough for a weeknight family dinner yet elegant enough for company.
“When you take a flower in your hand and really look at it, it’s your world for the moment. I want to give that world to someone else. Most people in the city rush around so, they have no time to look at a flower. I want them to see it whether they want to or not.”
– Georgia O’Keeffe
Are you ready for some serious eye candy? If you didn’t already love dahlias, I am sure you will become smitten after reading this post. Before we get to the gorgeous flowers, a bit of background information on these outstanding plants.
Dahlias are native to Mexico and were discovered by the Spanish Conquistadors. They are members of the same family as daisies, asters and sunflowers and are the national flower of Mexico. With more than 20,000 species in 12 categories which include the pompom, cactus, single anemone or peony forms, there are dahlias for every taste. Dahlias come in a multitude of colors: from white and pale yellows to oranges, reds and deep magentas and burgundies. They are exhuberant flowers from a few inches in size to the famous dinner-plate sized beauties. Dahlias are popular for flower arranging and for wedding bouquets. Some varieites have streaks, spots, stripes, variegation or frosted tips on the flower form keeping the flowers interesting with equally amusing names such as Wildman. In fact dahlias are the most popular flower for competitive growers. For the best growing success, The American Dahlia Society recommends buying tubers that have been tested and grown for your climate and soil type.
This summer I had the pleasure of returning to the Endless Summer Flower Farm in Camden Maine.
Owners Karen and Phil Clark graciously gave my husband and me a tour of the farm and shared their infectious enthusiasm for these flowers. In spite of the rain and the delayed growing season, the dahlias were dazzling. Continue reading
“On a hot day in Virginia, I know nothing more comforting than a fine spiced pickle, brought up trout-like from the sparkling depths of the aromatic jar below the stairs of Aunt Sally’s cellar.”
True confession: I have never made my own pickles. The whole process scares me. When my husband was served pickled green beans like a jewel alongside a sandwich on vacation, he raved about how good they were. The restaurant would not part with the owner’s recipe. So I thought I would try my hand at making some for him. Because how often do you come across pickled green beans anyways? Not like I could buy him some at the supermarket.
” There is no technique, there is just the way to do it. Now, are we going to measure or are we going to cook?”
Frances Mayes, Under the Tuscan Sun
I traveled to Tuscany today and did not leave my kitchen. Cherry tomatoes still on the vine and a big bunch of fresh basil all harvested from a generous friend’s garden held the promise of a simple Italian lunch.
Some like it hot is an understament in this household. We like to tease one of my sons as liking food with his hot sauce! On a recent vacation in Lewes, DE, we had to stop at Peppers, a specialized store offering the world’s largest collection of hot sauce. With names like Spontaneous Combustion, Satan’s Rage and Black Mamba Six Gets Bitten, this is not a store for sissies! We walked out with a huge bag of very different sauces. This got me intrigued as to what made the difference in the sauces and I started reading labels. The ingredients seemed pretty simple: essentially peppers, onions, garlic, vinegar and seasonings. We thought it would be fun to try making our own at home. I made two batches, one green and one red and recipes for both follow.
“Homegrown tomatoes, homegrown tomatoes
What would life be without homegrown tomatoes
Only two things that money can’t buy
That’s true love and homegrown tomatoes”
John Denver(Lyrics by Guy Clark)
I have been thinking about this tart for over 10 years since it was first served at a brunch. It was that good! Taking advantage of fresh tomatoes and fresh basil abundantly available right now, it is bursting with the taste of summer in every bite. It is basically a cooked pie crust on which fresh mozzarella is sprinkled while it is still hot, then wedges of fresh tomatoes piled in. These are then dotted with a purée of fresh basil and garlic. The whole thing is then finished with a topping of mozzarella-parmesan-mayonnaise which bakes into a gratin-like top. Serve like you would a quiche but this is no quiche: this tart is all about the tomatoes without eggs. Very different, fragrant while it bakes and soooo delicious! I just hope it won’t take you 10 years before you make it!