Thursday, October 21, 2010

"Skinny" apple pie

By now you all know I'm not a dessert kind of person. I don't like to eat dessert, which of course means that I'm not overly good at preparing it. The thing is, I love all things savory and harbor a strong indifference towards sweets. There are of course exceptions. Not many. But there are some. This apple pie is one of them. My mom invented the recipe to get rid of some apples that were lingering on the kitchen counter a little too long for their good and decided to try and make pie with one of those ready-to-bake pie crusts. She just rolled out the crust, cut the apples real thin, so they would cook evenly, placed them on the crust, sprinkled them with brown sugar and cinnamon and cooked the whole thing in a preheated oven (350F) until the pie was ready —which wasn't very long since the pie is so "skinny". That's it.
Easy right? Makes me wish other things in life were this easy. But they aren't. And today I'm so grumpy I didn't even feel like posting a recipe, which is why I reverted to this almost non-recipe.
Oh well. I guess I'll get over it. In the mean time I'll have a slice of apple pie. And a glass of wine.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Best pumpkin recipes

I have a confession to make. It's almost the end of October and I haven't cooked one single pumpkin recipe yet. You might wonder what is wrong with me. The answer is nothing. It's really not my fault. The problem is you cannot find canned pumpkin in Italy nor in Switzerland, a fact that makes cooking with pumpkin suddenly a lot more time-consuming. Because let's face it: dealing with a whole pumpkin is a giant pain in the ass. I'm not saying I'm not going to do it all —pumpkin is one of my favorite ingredients after all— but surely I won't be cooking as many pumpkin recipes as I used to when I lived in the United States. That said, here are five great pumpkin recipes that I absolutely love. In fact, I love them so much I'm going to go through the pain of cutting up a whole pumpkin.

PUMPKIN BREAD I'm not a morning person, which also makes me a generally anti-breakfast person. There are, of course, exceptions and this bread is one of them. Spiced pumpkin bread and a cup of coffee turn me into one of those annoying persons that smile and talk at 8 a.m.

PUMPKIN AND SMOKED PAPRIKA SOUP It's no secret that I'm a soup freak, especially when the weather turns a little cool. This one is made with pumpkin, yellow peppers and smoked paprika... sweet and smoky and thick. What else couold you ask for?

PASTA WITH PUMPKIN AND SAUSAGE Who knew that spicy sausage, sharp cheese and sweet pumpkin were a match made in heaven? Well, they are. This pasta dish explodes with flavor and if that isn't enough to convince you, it's also very easy and quick to make, perfect for weeknights.
ITALIAN STYLE PUMPKIN "PIE" This isn't your mother's pumpkin pie. First of all it's savory —which makes it a better pie in my book. Second, it's best enjoyed with slices of prosciutto and Italian salami, and any excuse to gorge on prosciutto is a welcome one. 

FALL VEGETABLES STRUDEL This recipe is awesome. A play on the classic apple strudel, it's the perfect way to get rid of whatever leftover vegetables you have in the fridge. Plus it looks really sharp, so you can serve it as a vegetarian dish if you have people over for dinner.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Pickled peppers

October is here. Cooler weather. Morning breezes. Cloudy skies and all that. I've been so busy partying like a rock star to celebrate my 30th birthday and having fun with Tommy and my good friends Dayna and Zac visiting from Colorado that I have completely ignored my poor blog —mostly because between all the traveling and drinking we very seldom cooked or ate at home.

But now everyone's gone, so here I am, feeling a little (ok, a lot) melancholic and having plenty of time on my hands to finally update the blog, post some pictures and even some recipes. The shorter days and chillier temperatures inspired me to try canning —something I never thought of when I used to have a full time job or in the summer. I have to say that, for some strange reason, I find canning sort of a soothing activity, as much as some crazy people enjoy ironing or doing the dishes. I hate both. But canning? It's fun. And it ends up tasting a lot better. Since I am no canning expert I had to do some research to find out exactly how to can food and not kill people. Here's a link to the website I've used. I tried bell peppers first because I had bought way too many, but used a recipe by David Lebovitz that originally called for jalapenos, which also sounded great, but hey, I had to work with what I had, right?

(adapted from David Lebovitz)

1 pound fresh bell peppers, washed and cut into strips
2 1/2 cups water
2 1/2 cups vinegar
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons coarse salt
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons whole coriander seeds
3 cloves garlic, peeled
2 tablespoons black peppercorns

Place peppers in a large glass preserving jar.

In a non-reactive saucepan, bring the other ingredients to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for five minutes.

Remove from heat and pour the brine over the peppers. Place the lid on the jar and let cool. Once cool, refrigerate for at least a week before using, if possible.If you want to preserve them for longer, follow canning instructions above.


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