BOO! I’m Back - Dinner and Halloween Dessert

It’s been way too long, I know.  

I’ve heard from many of you, “How’s your blog?”  ”Are you eating anymore?”

Well, since it is fall, I’m making my first squash soup.  The recipe is from our friend SD.  I know I posted this before, but you might be inclined to give it a try now.

Butternut Squash Soup

Cut in half and clean out the seeds.  Season generously with salt and pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg and top with a pat of butter or so.  Roast in a 400 degree oven, till tender.  Anywhere from 45-60 minutes.  This will depend on the size of the squash.

While that’s roasting, dice half an onion, and a whole Granny Smith apple.  I used a Jonathan tonight, that’s what I had. Sautee with a little butter or olive oil.  

After squash is done and cool enough to handle, cut it into chunks and put into a blender.  Add the sauteed onion and apple, and a cup or more of vegetable or chicken stock.  Blend till smooth.  Return to the pot, add more stock, heat and eat.

Candy Corn Sugar Cookies

Last Friday, my dear friend SRO and I made these Candy Corn Cookies to send to the daughters at college.

 

They are really easy.  They may look complicated, but you don’t need lots of baking expertise.

Make sugar cookie dough.  I like Alton Brown’s. http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/sugar-cookies-recipe/index.html

Divide the dough into thirds.

I use paste food coloring. Dye 1/3 orange, and 1/3 yellow.  Keep the last third just as it is.

Use a loaf pan to layer the dough and let it chill in the refrigerator, or fast track in the freezer.

Line the empty loaf pan with plastic wrap, wax paper, parchment, whatever you like. This will help you lift the dough out after it has chilled.  

Start with the plain white dough, press it into the bottom of the pan.  Next do the same with the orange, and finish with the yellow.

We did a version substituting the yellow with brown.

Chill the dough till it’s firm enough to cut into ¼ inch slices.

Take a slice and cut it into triangles – candy corn pieces!

Here’s the link to the Land O Lakes recipe and video where you can see exactly how to layer and cut the dough. http://www.landolakes.com/recipe/1542/sparkling-candy-corn-cookies

After they’re baked and still warm, roll in sugar.  They really look nicer with the sugar. 

Waiting to hear how the girls like them!

Thanksgiving 2011

We’re had dinner at our dear friends, SRO & RO with their family.  Lots of people around a big table — wonderful.

I brought mashed potatoes and a dessert. 

 For the potatoes I used Melissa Clark’s  recipe from the November 16th New York Times. Mashed Potato Casserole

Mash Yukon Gold potatoes with sour cream and butter.  Add chopped chives and put into a casserole dish.  I made it on Tuesday.

Ready for the oven Thanksgiving day.  Just before serving time, I topped it with bread crumbs, butter and parmesan (all mixed together when the butter was soft) and then put it into a 400 degree oven for about 30 minutes.

 

Next on my list — pumpkin tarts.

I used the pie filling recipe from Rose Levy Beranbaum’s book, The Pie and Pastry Bible.  The basics of canned pumpkin, spices, brown sugar are first cooked on the stove.  This step changes the flavors and texture of the pumpkin. 

 

Put that mixture into the food processor and add milk and heavy cream, eggs and vanilla. 

Ready the tart shells. For the tart dough, I used a pastry dough that has 1 egg and 1 egg yolk.  This makes it tougher, but in good way.  The recipe is from an older issue of Fine Cooking.

I shaped the dough into a 6x6” square.  Then I scored it at every inch to later cut into 36 pieces of dough.  After  the dough rests in the refrigerator,  I cut each cube, and rolled each into a ball.

 

A dough ball goes into one muffin spot in a tin.  Then I used a salt shaker (round and smaller that the muffin) to push the dough into a tart shape with sides.  Easier than rolling each one!  

Baked and cooling but still waiting for the final touch.

For fun, I got small fall cookie cutters to cutout pastry dough to bake and then top each baked tart.

 

 So, one idea led to another.  The little cutters inspired me to make sugar cookies – tiny bites — several leaves, an acorn, apple and a pumpkin.

I don’t have a great sugar cookie recipe.  At Foodnetwork.com I found Alton Brown’s sugar cookie recipe.   One thing he does that is interesting is rolling the dough in confectioner’s sugar rather than flour. 

 

Yikes!  There’re too cute.  And too small for some of my cooling racks, some fell through. They taste good – light sugar flavor and crisp. 

Rolling the dough in the confectioner’s sugar really helps with the flavor and tenderness I think.  I’m not sure of all the chemistry, but the sugar-cornstarch mix of confectioner’s sugar may reduce the tendency of a flour-rolled dough to become tough.

I melted chocolate with heavy cream, a ganche, and grated orange rind into it. Then I drizzled it over the cookies from a plastic baggie with a corner snipped off.   I tossed on color appropriate decorations and am done.  I just need to let the chocolate set.

 

 So, these were my Thanksgiving dinner contributions.

The potatoes were a hit.  I highly recommend them not just because they taste so good, but because they can easily be made so far ahead.

Pumpkin tarts were a nice size for just a taste.

 And tiny cookies.

Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving.