Classic Pumpkin Pie

1Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

I stepped out of the house this morning and thought: aaaaah. This autumn morning crisp is here to stay. You know what that means. It’s pie season! Where to even begin with such a staple: good ole pumpkin pie. My mom has been making this pie on Thanksgiving Day for as long as I can remember. Subtle pumpkin flavor, not too sweet and even better when topped with a dollop of whipped cream. That slice you see in the photo above was my breakfast yesterday morning. It was perfect! If the thought of making a pie from scratch has you nervous, don’t sweat it. I can honestly say that pumpkin pie is the easiest pie you can make. The filling takes less than 5 minutes and there is only a single crust to make. Leave it to King Arthur Flour to make one of the best crusts I’ve ever tasted. It’s part shortening, part butter, and 100% flaky and delicious! I’ve got some extra tips and tricks below. Happy baking!


Yield: 1 pie, single crust

Crust Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 Tbsp shortening
  • 5 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 3 to 5 Tbsp ice water

Pie Filling Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon + 1/2 tsp ground cloves (or, use 1 and 1/2 tsp Pumpkin Spice Mix)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 (15 oz) can Organic pumpkin
  • 1 can (12 oz) evaporated milk
  1. For the crust, whisk together the flour and salt. Add the shortening, working it in until the mixture is evenly crumbly.* Add the butter to the flour mixture, and work it in roughly with your fingers, a pastry cutter, or a mixer. Don’t be too thorough; the mixture should be very uneven, with big chunks of butter in among the smaller ones. Add 2 tablespoons of water (must be ice cold!), and toss to combine.
  2. Toss with enough additional water to make a chunky mixture. It should barely hold together when you squeeze a handful, though the remainder may look quite dry. Scoop the mixture out onto a piece of parchment or waxed paper, and flatten it out a bit. Take a spray bottle of water, and spritz the dry parts with the water.**
  3. Using the parchment or waxed paper, fold the dough over on itself — first from one side, then from the other. You’ll find that the dry crumbs are becoming incorporated with the cohesive dough. If there are still dry areas, spritz them with additional water, and fold the dough in on itself again. Keep folding and gathering until just a few dry crumbs remain unincorporated; this should only take a few folds.
  4. Shape the dough into a disk about 1″ thick, and refrigerate it for 30 minutes or longer; this resting period allows the flour to absorb the water, making the dough easier to roll out. When you’re “ready to roll,” remove the dough from the fridge. If the dough has been refrigerated longer than 30 minutes, let it rest at room temperature for 10 to 15 minutes before rolling, to allow the butter to soften up a bit.***
  5. Roll the dough to the size needed (about 12″ for a 9″ pie). Place it in a pie pan, and refrigerate it while you prepare your filling.
  6. To make the pie filling, mix sugar, salt, cinnamon, cloves (or spice mix) in a small bowl. Beat eggs in a large bowl. Stir in pumpkin and sugar-spice mixture. Gradually stir in evaporated milk. Pour mixture into pie shell.
  7. Bake at 425 degrees F for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350 degrees F and bake 40-50 minutes more or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack for 2 hours before serving. Serve or refrigerate. Enjoy!

Crust recipe courtesy of King Arthur Flour, www.kingarthurflour.com

Notes:

*Add the shortening 1 Tbsp at a time and mix with pastry blender between additions. The goal is to coat the shortening crumbs with the flour. You’re just trying to cut the shortening into the flour, which is why a pastry cutter is best for this! Do the same with the butter, adding and mixing 1 Tbsp at a time. A little trick for the butter: freeze the 5 Tbsp of butter for 5-10 minutes and then grate with a cheese grater. This cuts the butter into smaller pieces, making it much easier to incorporate into the flour.

**My grandmother taught me to roll out dough between 2 layers of plastic wrap. I have had best success with this method. Also, be cautious of adding too much water. You only need enough to get dough to stick together. If you add more than necessary it will be too sticky to roll out. You can always add a tiny bit more flour to combat that, but be careful! It’s a balance between not too dry and not too wet. Stick to the recipe measurements for best results. This is something that will get easier to eye and feel with practice.

***You don’t have to refrigerate. Feel free to roll out the dough immediately.

2Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Double Chocolate Mocha Cookies

7Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Think of these as tiny bursts of chocolate-y heaven with just a hint of espresso. These are sure to satisfy any chocolate-lover, coffee-addict’s sweet tooth! The addition of the cinnamon and espresso powder adds a complexity in flavor that you’ll taste. Layers of sweet chocolate, semi-sweet, and cocoa powder pretty much make this a triple-whammy. I imagine these being great for after dinner dessert with coffee or as a sweet surprise for a friend. I’m sending my little brother away at college a batch of these in the mail. The best part: these are super quick to make. You’re done in a half hour!

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) butter
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon espresso powder, optional, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, optional*
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup Double-Dutch Dark Cocoa or King Arthur All-Purpose Cocoa
  • 1 1/4 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 2 cups chips: cappuccino, cinnamon, chocolate, or a mixture
  • *Use ground cinnamon if you like the cinnamon/chocolate combination, but aren’t using cinnamon chips.
  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly grease two baking sheets, or line with parchment. Combine the butter, sugars, baking soda, salt, espresso powder, and cinnamon in a mixing bowl. Beat until the mixture is smooth. Add the egg and vanilla, and again beat until thoroughly combined. The mixture will look a bit grainy; that’s OK. 
  2. Beat in the cocoa. Add the flour, beating slowly to combine. Add the chips, mixing until they’re well-distributed.
  3. Drop the dough by teaspoonfuls onto the prepared baking sheets. A teaspoon scoop works very well here. If the dough begins to stick, simply dip the scoop in cold water. Space the cookies at least 1″ apart.
  4. Bake the cookies for 7 to 8 minutes; the cookies should seem barely done. If you attempt to pick an oven-hot cookie off the baking sheet, it’ll fall apart. Allow the cookies to cool right on the baking sheet. Enjoy!

Recipe courtesy of King Arthur Flour, www.kingarthurflour.com

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Country Style Apple Galette

1Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

I have always loved how pretty a galette looks. To me, it’s like half a pie. Or maybe its an open-face pie. However you see it, its a fun alternative to a traditional apple pie. And don’t feel limited to just apples, either. Think about trying this with peaches when in season, figs, a mix of berries or even vegetables for a savory version. Any way you slice it, this pastry is versatile enough to be either a starter or a dessert. My favorite part about this style is that it is great looking in freeform. No need for perfection here. I want to see those organic shapes! Rectangular, circular or something in between. There’s nothing interesting about perfection, right? I mentioned last week when I made apple butter (recipe below) that I was given an obscene amount of apples and thought: how in the world am I going to use all of these? Well, this galette took the last of them. There are about 5 small/medium sized apples layered in here. Apple season is at is peak in New York right now. Take a weekend trip to your local farm and bag up some apples! Don’t forget about the pumpkins… they’re on my farm stand shopping list next week. Get ready, October is just around the corner!


Yield: 8 servings — Total Time: 1 hr 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) plus 2 Tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1/3 cup ice water (must be very cold!)
  • 4-5 Golden delicious or other sweet apple (Gala, Macintosh)
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp honey (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  1. In a food processor, combine the flour with the sugar, salt and butter and process for about 5 seconds. I like to add the butter in a little at a time and process after each time. You just want to coat the butter in the flour, not mix it in. Sprinkle the ice water a little at a time over the flour mixture and process until the pastry just begins to come together, about 10 seconds; you should still be able to see small pieces of butter in it. Transfer the pastry to a work surface, gather it together and pat into a disk. Wrap the pastry in plastic or wax paper and refrigerate until chilled. (You can also roll out the pastry and use it right away.)
  2. Peel, halve and core the apples and slice them crosswise 1/4 inch thick. Set aside the larger center slices and coarsely chop the end slices and any broken ones; about half of the slices should be chopped. Mix in the cinnamon and sugar.
  3. Preheat the oven to 400°. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the pastry to a 12-by-14-inch rectangle or circle and transfer to a large rimmed baking sheet. Spread the chopped apples over the pastry to within 1 inch of the edge. Drizzle the honey over the chopped apples. Decoratively arrange the apple slices on top in concentric circles or in slightly overlapping rows. Dot the top of the apples with the pieces of butter. Fold the pastry edge up and over the apples to create a 1-inch border. Spray the crust with coconut oil or brush with egg wash so it gets nice and golden brown.
  4. Bake the galette for about 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the pastry is nicely browned and crisp and all of the apples are tender. Transfer the pan to a rack and let the galette cool. Serve warm or at room temperature. Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Food & Wine, www.foodandwine.com, Recipes from Essential Pépin by Jacques Pépin.

2Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Apple Butter

1Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

I was given 3 (that’s right, 3) HUGE bags of apples last week. All I can think about is how many different ways I can use them up. Pies, pastries, sliced over salads… but then I found this recipe for apple butter. What is it, you ask? No butter involved. Just a rendered down, made purely with apples, sweet spread. Use atop muffins, a slice of bread, croissants, you name it! I’m going to have to keep trying this out. This batch seemed to resemble the consistency of apple sauce rather than butter. But, foolishly I burned the first batch I made so I was extra careful about keeping the heat low (see notes below). But consistency and taste are totally up to you. I pureed it for a smoother butter. But apple chunks are also welcome. I also felt it was sweet enough without much added sugar, so I only used a little. These were homegrown Macintosh apples from the north shore, Long Island. Cooking these apples on your stovetop is going to bring the sweetest smell to your entire kitchen. It was heavenly! I wafted my nose over it several times. Just like sniffing the filling of a gorgeous apple pie. Go to your nearest farm, shop local and get picking!


Yield: About 1 full mason jars worth — Hands-on time: 55 mins — Total Time: 1 hour, 50 mins

Ingredients:

  • 3 lbs crisp and sweet apples, such as Gala, Honeycrisp, or Macintosh, peeled
  • 1 cup apple cidar
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar, divided*
  • 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  1. Cut apples in to 1 inch pieces. Bring apples, cider, and 1/2 cup sugar to a rolling boil in a Dutch oven over high heat. Once it begins to bubble, reduce heat to medium low. Cover, leaving lid slightly ajar. Cook for 20 minutes, or until apples are tender and most of the liquid has evaporated; stir every 5 minutes.
  2. Process cooked apple mixture in a blender or food processer until smooth. Return mixture to Dutch oven and stir in cinnamon, cloves and remaining 1 cup sugar*. Bring to a boil over high heat. Be very careful not to burn, watch and stir frequently. Reduce heat to low, and simmer, uncovered and stirring often, 15 minutes or until thickened. Cool about 45 minutes. Spoon into airtight containers such as mason jars. Refrigerate up to 2 months ore freeze up to 6 months. Enjoy!

*Instead of 1 cup, I only added 1/4 cup. Why add more than you need to, right? The apples are naturally sweet.

Recipe adapted from Southern Living, www.southernliving.com

2Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

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Pear Upside-Down Cake

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It’s the first day of Autumn! I am overjoyed!!! I’m ready for all things apple, pear and pumpkin. This upside-down pear cake looked so pretty in Bon Appetit Magazine. It has a caramelized top (or bottom, depending on how you look at it) with pear slices on top, and a very light, not too sweet cake beneath. It was perfectly breakfast appropriate on this Autumn Equinox. Get out there and enjoy the cool fall breeze!

Ingredients:

  • 9 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, divided, plus more
  • 3/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons coarse yellow cornmeal or polenta
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup sugar, divided
  • 2 medium pears (about 1 pound) (I used Bartlett pears.)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, separated
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Butter pan; line bottom with a parchment-paper round. Whisk four, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl. Stir 1/4 cup sugar and 2 tablespoons water in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to medium-high. Boil syrup without stirring, occasionally swirling pan and brushing down sides with a wet pastry brush, until sugar turns dark amber, 8–10 minutes. Remove pan from heat; add 1 tablespoon butter (caramel will bubble vigorously) and whisk until smooth. Pour caramel into prepared cake pan and swirl to coat bottom.
  2. Peel, halve, and core the pears. Place flat on a work surface and cut lengthwise into 1/8″-thick slices. Layer slices over caramel, flat side down, overlapping as needed.
  3. Mix remaining 3/4 cup sugar, 8 tablespoon butter, and vanilla in a large bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add yolks one at a time, beating to blend between additions and occasionally scraping bowl. Beat in flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with milk in 2 additions, beginning and ending with flour mixture.
  4. Using clean, dry beaters, beat egg whites on low speed in a medium bowl until frothy. Increase the speed to medium and continue to beat until whites form soft peaks. Fold about 1/4 of the whites into cake batter. Add in remaining whites; gently fold just to blend. Pour batter over pears in pan; smooth top.
  5. Bake cake, rotating pan halfway through, until top is golden brown and a tester inserted into the center comes out with a few small moist crumbs attached, about 1 hour. Let cool in pan on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Run a thin knife around the inside of pan to release cake. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.
  6. Invert cake onto a plate; remove parchment paper. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Recipe courtesy of Karen DeMasco on www.bonappetit.com

2Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Café Style Raspberry Muffins

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

I cannot say enough about these raspberry muffins. The best part is: my picky husband LOVES them. I mean loves them. To the point where I am not allowed to share them with family or friends. When I make a batch, they stay in the kitchen for him. He’ll get 7 days worth of breakfast out of it! This recipe is my favorite muffin recipe because of the baking instructions. Starting out at a higher temp gets them to rise quickly, for high-top bakery style– then the temperature is lowered to finish baking. And I absolutely love the idea of lining the tin in parchment paper squares. Beautiful presentation and no mess. These pop right out with ease. Say good morning to one of these beauties with a little butter or cream cheese!!


Yield: 6-12 large muffins depending on size

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup light brown sugar
  • 1 cup buttermilk (or regular whole milk)
  • ½ cup melted coconut oil (or vegetable/canola oil)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 and ¼ cup fresh raspberries
  • coarse sugar (or cane sugar)
  1. Preheat oven to 425F degrees. Spray jumbo muffin pan with non-stick spray or prepare 6″x6″ square sheets of parchment paper liners. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, gently toss together flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Mix until all dry ingredients are just combined. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, granulated sugar, and brown sugar until combined. Mix in milk, oil, and vanilla extract. Fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients and mix everything together by hand until just combined. Do not over mix! Over mixing leads to tough, dry muffins. Gently mix until all the flour is off the bottom of the bowl and no big pockets of flour remain. The batter will be thick and a little lumpy. Very gently fold in raspberries to avoid them from leaking their color. GENTLE!
  4. Spoon batter into prepared muffin tins (or liners) filling all the way to the top. To avoid crushing the raspberries, I filled the cups with my hands gently. Sprinkle with coarse sugar. This touch adds that bakery feel! Bake at 425F degrees for 5 minutes. After the 5 minutes, keep the muffins in the oven and reduce temperature to 375F and continue to bake for 20-25 minutes until tops are lightly golden. I have had best luck baking 6 muffins at a time for 20 minutes. I have a gas oven. Use a toothpick to test– they are done when it comes out clean. Allow to cool for 10 minutes. Eat immediately! Store muffins at room temperature in an airtight container for about 5-7 days. Enjoy!

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Breakfast Power Bowl

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I have to admit…sometimes it is hard for me to drag myself out of bed in the morning. I am a fan of the snooze button. But this morning I woke up with excitement to try out this breakfast power bowl! Half of the excitement was to fill up this gorgeous copper vessel and mug I found recently. The other half was thinking about what to fill it with: a of wholesome goodness. Greek yogurt, fruit, grains, nuts and berries. This is a breakfast to really get you going. Your body will thank you! The best part? What you top your yogurt with is totally up to you! Rise and shine. Here’s what I filled mine with:

Servings: 1


Ingredients:

  • 1 medium size container of Fage Greek Yogurt 0% (2 cups)
  • 1/2 cup of hazelnut milk, almond milk or kefir (I love hazelnut!)
  • 1 Tbsp. honey
  • 1/8 cup flax seeds
  • Toppings: sliced figs, baked granola (I used some with oats + pumpkin seeds), fresh blackberries, cacao crunch and sliced banana
  1. In a large bowl, mix together Greek yogurt, hazelnut milk, honey, and flax seeds. Adding whatever toppings your heart desires! DIG IN! Store in an air-tight container in your refrigerator.

2Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Avocado and Sesame on Sourdough

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I ask you: who doesn’t love avocado toast?! It’s become one of my favorite breakfasts. Put an egg on top and now you’re talking!!! Healthy and a huge kick of flavor from the chili flakes and lemon. That creamy avocado gets me every time.

Serves: 4


Ingredients:

  • 4 large slices of sourdough bread
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • olive oil, for drizzling
  • 2-4 pinches of chili flakes, or to taste
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds (black seeds would be beautiful!)
  • 2 ripe avocados

Directions:

  1. Season the bread with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Toast the bread until golden brown
  2. Mix together the lemon zest, chili flakes and sesame seeds with a pinch of salt and pepper
  3. Quarter the avocados, removing the stone and peeling off the skin. Slice each quarter lengthways, leaving the slices joined at the top. Fan out each quarter and place 2 on each piece of toast, pushing down to make them stick.
  4. Squeeze a little lemon juice over the avocado, then sprinkle with the sesame seed mixture. Eat immediately while still warm.

HOW TO STONE AN AVOCADO:
Cut the avocado in half lengthways and then place the half with the stone still attached on a work surface. Chop into the stone with a sharp knife and you should be able to ease it out.

Enjoy!!2

Recipe adapted from Chef Gordon Ramsay via DailyMail.Co.Uk