Nutty spiced caramel corn

Caramel corn. This may be an unpopular opinion, but I’ve never liked it. It is usually tooth-achingly sweet: the caramel doesn’t taste like caramel as much as it does plain sugar. And it is so, so sticky: you can’t eat it without it getting stuck in and between your teeth. Plus, it always seems to come in a ball the size of my fist. Do you take a bite straight off the side and risk getting all of your teeth stuck to the whole thing? Try to break it apart, making your hands sticky through multiple hand washings?

So, I’ve always taken a pass.

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But then I found myself home alone with a sweet tooth and no chocolate in the house (the horror!). I did, however, have plenty of popcorn kernels. Then I remembered a caramel corn recipe I’d seen in one of my favorite cookbooks. Skeptical but desperate (again: no chocolate), I set to work. Continue reading “Nutty spiced caramel corn”

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Ricotta and beet grilled cheese with fennel persimmon salad

So often, winter comfort food is heavy. And look–I am passionate about ragù. But if you’re looking for comfort food that doesn’t weigh you down, try this.

This grilled cheese makes the best use of winter produce–beets, fennel, and persimmons burst with bright flavor that is uncharacteristic at this time of year. Yet, as a grilled cheese, it also ticks the comfort food box.

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Hearty kale salad with apples, cheddar, and almonds

This salad is perfect fall weeknight food. It is autumnal: dark green kale, crisp apples, brown almonds, and sharp, aged cheddar mingle prettily in a big bowl. Yet it is also quick, requiring no heat whatsoever and only a few bits of chopping.

It works well in a nice deep plate as a meal by itself or with bread. In a season where we usually turn to braises and roasts to fill us up, this somehow doesn’t feel like a deprivation. (Perhaps it’s the richness of the cheese and the almonds?) Yet it also shines as a side salad at a big fall dinner. (In fact, I’m not allowed to bring anything else to our Thanksgiving potluck.) Continue reading “Hearty kale salad with apples, cheddar, and almonds”

Apple crisp

It happens to the best of us. It’s fall, and you go apple picking. The air is crisp. The leaves are starting to change. It would seem criminal to be inside. So you wander the orchard, chatting with your friends or partner, picking apples for a couple of hours.

And then you got home. You realize: what in the world did you think you were going to do with ten pounds of apples?

Continue reading “Apple crisp”

Brussels sprouts with bacon and figs

Like most children in America, my brother and I hated Brussels sprouts when we were growing up. My dad didn’t care for them either. For years after my mom stopped cooking them, “Brussels sprouts” were synonymous with “disgusting” in our house.

Then along came this recipe, and we all had to eat our words. Instead of halving the sprouts, you slice them. Then you sauté the sprouts with a generous portion of bacon and figs. The whole thing is finished by deglazing the pan with a bit of balsamic vinegar. The result is the perfect gateway recipe: each bite of sprouts is balanced by salty bacon and sweet figs. Continue reading “Brussels sprouts with bacon and figs”

Artichoke tapenade with rosemary oil

Have you been asked to bring appetizers to Thanksgiving? Want to move beyond a pre-made vegetable-and-dip plate from the grocery store? Feel that hummus, however delicious, isn’t quite special enough? Worried that bringing good cheese for 15 will break the bank?

Here’s the plan: run to the store for canned artichokes, olives, capers, and lemon. Heat some oil and infuse with rosemary. Then whirl everything together in the food processor to make this glorious, earthy, herby artichoke dip. Put in a couple of pretty bowls, bring a few baguettes, and your job is done. Everyone will love you for it.

Continue reading “Artichoke tapenade with rosemary oil”

Butternut squash lasagna with sage, caramelized onions, and tofu ricotta

Hosting a Thanksgiving dinner, but for whatever reason—you’re a vegetarian, your guests are vegetarians, you don’t like turkey, or you don’t like weeks of turkey-themed leftovers—want to skip the bird?


Look no further. This lasagna capitalizes on big fall flavors: butternut squash, caramelized onions, and sage. It’s hearty: noodles and squash means enough starch that nobody walks away hungry. It’s beautiful: that burnt orange dotted with green baked sage leaves looks impressive and celebratory. Continue reading “Butternut squash lasagna with sage, caramelized onions, and tofu ricotta”

Farro salad with radicchio, root vegetables, and pomegranate

When I talk to friends (and let’s be honest, acquaintances and strangers) about home cooking, the most common complaint I hear is that it is too time consuming. People get off work already hungry. Unsure of what’s for dinner, they head to the grocery store. They try to rustle up a meal plan in the produce aisle. The lines are long. Once home, they cook, but the recipe is time consuming and creates many dirty dishes, which then need to be washed. Ultimately, they spend more time stressing than they do enjoying cooking and eating. Continue reading “Farro salad with radicchio, root vegetables, and pomegranate”

Fig and mascarpone tart with pistachio crust

Fall doesn’t mean fruit desserts have to come to an end. In fact, this fig and mascarpone tart is one of my favorites. Its appeal is its simplicity: a nutty, pistachio crust; a lightly sweet, creamy mascarpone filling, brightened up with a touch of lemon zest; and the freshest, one-day-from-being-overripe figs you can find.

Continue reading “Fig and mascarpone tart with pistachio crust”