It’s October here in New England, so every day we are seeing less light and feeling the temperature dropping into cooler ranges. Our sweaters, warming vests, scarves, and gloves are at the ready in our back hallway, and logs for fires are nearby in the garage This change of season is certainly reflected in what I am cooking. We’ve been craving warm, comforting food—spicy chilis, hearty soups, Southern-style smothered pork chops, old fashioned pot roasts with braised vegetables– to name a few. One dish, in particular, a fall chicken and apple curry, has become a favorite.
This simple main course was inspired by a recipe I spotted in a French community cookbook, given to me by a Parisian friend. You’ll need only a single large skillet to prepare it plus a saucepan for cooking the rice to accompany it. Cubes of boneless chicken breast are sautéed along with diced Golden Delicious apples and onions, and then everything is simmered in coconut milk scented with curry and fresh ginger. This golden mélange, served atop mounds of rice, is garnished with toasted almonds, chopped cilantro, and sliced green onions.
Count on 25 to 30 minutes to prep the ingredients and several minutes more to sauté them. Then you simmer this mixture, unattended, about 20 minutes. Like me, I hope you’ll welcome fall by trying this special dish!
Quite a few years ago when I lived in Columbus, Ohio, several other food professionals in town, along with me, were asked to judge an apple pie contest. We all took our judicial roles seriously, and tasted and re-tasted an array of pie entries. The scrumptious dessert that follows is based on my recollection of the one that won first place.
I remembered that the crust had been particularly flaky, and that the filling was perfectly balanced with sweet and tart flavors. However, it was the crunchy, streusel-like topping covering the apples that had made the pie so distinctive and had helped it garner the blue ribbon. The following recipe bears a close likeness to the original. The flaky crust is achieved by using shortening along with butter, and the filling works best with Golden Delicious apples scented with cinnamon and lemon. Both brown and white sugars blended with butter, flour, and pecans (my addition for this recipe) are the secret to the golden topping.
I like this quintessential American dessert served slightly warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or dollops of whipped cream, but it’s just as tempting unadorned. It’s best served the day it’s baked, but you can prepare the pie dough a day ahead, and have the ingredients for the topping measured and ready to assemble.
A few days ago my husband and I ventured outside our home to eat on the patio of a favorite restaurant. It was the first time we had dined out in six months, so we splurged and chose the lobster rolls with house made potato chips and coleslaw as our main course. My spouse ordered fried oysters for his opener, while I picked fried corn on the cob with beurre blanc and crumbled feta. The corn turned out to be my favorite dish of the evening.
We still have bins of corn in our local markets here in Amherst, so I decided to create a simpler version of the dish I enjoyed so much. For the original served at The Blue Heron in Sunderland, Massachusetts, a single ear of fried corn was cut into three equal portions, then set upright atop a pool of lime- Continue reading
I’m happy to let you know that I’ll be giving cooking classes this fall at The Baker’s Pin Cooking School and Store located in Northampton, Ma. We launched our first series of classes this summer and were thrilled that we had people join us from Maine to California!
I’ll be giving four new classes this autumn! In September I hope you can join me for a Fall Backyard Supper (featuring a delicious make ahead paella salad with grilled shimp and lobster tails). In October, I’ll be giving a Paris Fall Cooking course with a menu of seasonal French dishes, and in November, I’ve planned a Small and Delicious Thanksgiving Dinner with a stellar menu including a boned and rolled turkey bread with a mushroom and pancetta stuffing. Finally, as December arrives, I am teaming up with my colleague, Barbara Morse, to do a Holiday Gifts from the Kitchen class. Click here to see my classes on this blog and for information about how to sign up.
May all of you stay safe and well during these challenging times! Betty
My son, Mike, a talented and creative cook, called recently to tell me about a new burger he had fashioned from his weekly seafood share. “Mom, there were some nice halibut fillets in my haul, and I turned them into burgers!” He went on to explain how he prepared them, and by the end of the conversation my mouth was watering!
Over the past few weeks, I’ve made these “halibut” burgers often, fine-tuning the cooking times and adjusting the ingredients. I used halibut first, but also tried them with cod fillets. The halibut is marinated in lime Continue reading
It’s definitely the peak of the melon season here in New England where watermelons and cantaloupes are on full display at our local farmers markets and roadside stands. They are so tempting that some days at our house we start and end our day with slices of these juicy fruits. I love to use them in salads too, and this week included diced cantaloupe in a beautiful, yet simple summer salad.
I whisked together a honey vinaigrette, then tossed baby arugula leaves with some dressing before mounding them on salad plates. Next I drizzled diced cantaloupe and small fresh mozzarella balls with more vinaigrette and arranged them on top of and around the salad greens. Finally, I sautéed Continue reading
For the past few weeks our weather here in western New England has been unseasonably hot and humid with temperatures often reaching into the 90s. During this heat wave I invited two good friends, who work with me testing recipes and prepping for cooking classes, to come for an afternoon visit. Since we were following our state’s guidelines and planning an outdoor get-together, the weather was a problem. I carefully moved our new Adirondack chairs to the shadiest part of our lawn, and decided to make a pitcher of julep iced tea to counter the warmth,
This tea, prepared with a generous amount of fresh mint leaves that are steeped with julienned lemon rind and mild tea (English or Irish Breakfast varieties, for example) is sweetened with sugar and scented with lemon juice. The recipe, created by Lynn Wilkins, a talented cook from Oxford, Continue reading
In late May, after months of lockdown, our health experts in Massachusetts announced their guidelines for opening up, including the recommendation that people visit with family and friends outdoors, rather than inside. Because we have an enclosed porch, we have never taken advantage of our large yard, though we had envisioned Adirondack chairs under the canopied shade of old trees on our lawn. That all changed this summer when we ordered six of these iconic chairs. It took over a month and countless phone calls to locate a set, but finally they arrived.
Now we have moved our social distancing al fresco, and love the simple menus we are sharing with cautious friends. This week a neighbor and I are cooking an array of comfort foods– grilled burgers, grilled corn of the cob with seasoned butter, sesame and ginger coleslaw, and baked beans. For dessert, we’ll end with a warm plum and almond crisp served with scoops Continue reading
For many years my husband and I traveled to Provence during the summer to spend several weeks in the south of France. We were enchanted by the landscapes– fields of purple lavender, groves of old, snarled olive trees, and exquisite beaches bordering the Mediterranean. It was, however, the simple, yet vibrant food that inspired us to return.
Although we ate in a handful of Michelin starred restaurants, I liked the unpretentious, out-of- the-way bistros and cafés best. One of our favorites was La Merenda, a tiny place in the center of Nice, where there was no phone, and you could only reserve in person. Their signature dish was “pâtes au pistou,” prepared with house made spinach fettuccine tossed with pistou, Provence’s version of pesto. Over the years, I have tried to recreate the dish, but without much success.
Recently, I found several on-line articles in which the current owner, Continue reading
With the long July 4th weekend almost here, I’m certain many cooks are finalizing their menus for outdoor meals. Grilling, naturally, will take center stage, whether juicy burgers, marinated chicken, spice-rubbed steaks, barbecued ribs, or fresh fish fillets. Favorite potato or pasta salads and summer vegetables will be set on the table too. And then there is dessert. For this mid-summer holiday, I believe that there are two requirements. The chosen confection should be special, and it should feed a family generously with seconds. Blueberry Cake with Lemon Crème Fraîche meets both these Continue reading