I know I’ve been away from you, but I’ve had good reason. First of all, my older son came home from college for a few days, so there was extensive cooking of Jake-centric food- roast ducks, apple pie, zucchini tart, tomato tart, and eggplant parmigiana, pancakes… I think that you’ve got the idea. And then just when things were getting back to normal, real work got really busy, and then Halloween!
Halloween holds a special place around here for a few reasons. First of all, it’s so much fun. I love watching the little kids in their costumes. And it’s so much fun! I love watching the BIG kids in their costumes! We live in the West Village of New York City, so Halloween is a week-long holiday down here. Walking around that afternoon we saw busloads of tourists being disgorged for the parade. I read that they expected over 2 million attendees! Needless to say, we stayed home in the evening. However, we did have great pumpkin cheesecake!
1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup finely ground pecans
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 8-ounce packages of cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups of sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 egg yolks (put the whites in a container in the freezer)
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 14 ounce can of pumpkin pulp
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
1. Do the crust: Mix the graham cracker crumbs, pecans, and cinnamon in a bowl. Stir in the butter. Press the mixture into the bottom and 2 inches up the sides of a 9-inch spring form pan.
2. The filling:
Put the cream cheese, sugar, cornstarch, and vanilla in a bowl. Beat it until it’s fluffy. Add the eggs and yolks until combined. Fold in the cream and pumpkin. Don’t worry if it looks broken. It really will work! Pour the pumpkin mixture into the pan. Put it on a shallow baking pan in the oven.
3. The end:
Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the center appears nearly set when shaken. Cool for 15 minutes. Loosen the sides of the pan (just flip the metal latch) and cool for 30 minutes. Chill for at least 4 hours before serving, or even better, the day before.
So we celebrated MY BIRTHDAY (don’t ask, I won’t tell) with Shepherd’s Pie and Pumpkin Cheesecake. For my special dinner I got to make whatever I wanted! And there were presents- two new cookbooks and a gorgeous new knife (5 ½” serrated chef’s knife from New West Knifeworks. It really is a work of art, although to paraphrase Jacques Pepin, “the best knife is a sharp knife”.
Next, we have a little business to attend to. If you’re planning to make Bourbon (or rum, scotch, rye) Balls for the holiday, it’s time to start soaking the raisins in your poison of choice. Remember, a more expensive liquor doesn’t make them better. It’s all in the aging!
Bourbon or Rum Balls
½ cup chopped raisins
¼ cup bourbon or rum
2 cups of chocolate wafer crumbs
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup finely chopped pecans
¼ cup molasses
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon ginger
¼ teaspoon cloves
½ cup additional pecans- finely chopped
Combine everything in a bowl, except the last ½ cup of pecans, mixing well. Form the mixture into 1 inch balls and roll in the remaining pecans. Store in an airtight container for at least 1 week before serving.
Makes about 36 balls
And last but not least, this is am amazing recipe for Thanksgiving, or anytime during the colder weather; and we’ve certainly had plenty of that! Try it out and think about adding it to the Thanksgiving menu- I’m drooling just thinking about it-
Autumn Potato Salad Recipe
1 1/2 pounds small, waxy potatoes, well scrubbed and halved or quartered
1/2 pound baby carrots, well scrubbed and halved or quartered
1/2 pound parsnips, well scrubbed, and halved
6 medium shallots, peeled
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 big pinches of sea salt
2 bunches of scallions (green onions), greens topped off, and halved lengthwise
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 small shallot, minced
2 teaspoons whole grain mustard
1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1/3 cup of olive oil
1 tablespoon heavy cream or crème fraiche (optional)
2 cups cooked wild rice (opt)
Preheat oven to 375F degrees.
In a large bowl toss the potatoes, carrots, parsnips, and shallots with 1/4 cup of olive oil and 2 big pinches of salt. When the ingredients are well coated, turn them out onto a large baking sheet in a single layer. There will be a bit of residual oil in the bottom of the bowl, gently add the green onions to the mixing bowl and push them around a bit until they are coated as well. If there is room on your baking sheet add the onions in their own corner (they take less time to roast and you will need to remove them), or place them on their own baking sheet. Place in the oven.
The scallions will likely finishes baking first; remove them when they are well-browned, roughly 20 minutes. The rest of the vegetables usually take somewhere between 40 and 60 minutes. Let them go until they are deeply golden and tender throughout. Check them regularly, flip them with a metal spatula once or twice along the way, and if any of the smaller pieces are getting too dark pull them off the pan.
While the vegetables are roasting, start the dressing by pouring the red wine vinegar into a small bowl along with the chopped shallot. If you have the time, let it sit there for twenty minutes or so. Then whisk in the mustard and salt, before slowly drizzling in the olive oil, whisking all the while. Whisk in the cream, taste and adjust with more mustard, vinegar, salt, etc to taste.
When they are done roasting, remove the vegetables from the oven. In a large bowl toss the wild rice (if you’re going that route) with a splash of the vinaigrette. You can now either transfer the rice to a serving platter, as a bed for the vegetables, or you can add the roasted vegetables to the bowl and toss them with the rice, the rest of the dressing, and half of the scallions. Turn everything out onto the platter and serve topped with the remaining roasted scallions.
Now back to the kitchen for Chicken soup with Matzoh balls- I have a sick young man with a nasty stomach bug. We’ll start with the soup and see if the matzoh balls work later on…
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