Harvest + Honey

An open-ended love letter, culinarily inspired.


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Classic Coconut Macaroons

Classic Coconut MacaroonsClassic Coconut MacaroonsClassic Coconut MacaroonsClassic Coconut MacaroonsClassic Coconut Macaroons

RECIPE

14 ounces of shredded sweetened coconut

14-ounce can of sweetened condensed milk

1 tablespoon vanilla extract (you could add a little almond extract, orange zest or lemon zest to bump up the flavor even more)

 

Heat your oven to 325° F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper sprayed with non-stick spray. Or you can use Silpats, either way works!

Combine the three ingredients in a bowl, stirring to blend well. Drop by scant tablespoonfuls onto the prepared baking sheets. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until the macaroons are lightly browned around the edges. Transfer them to a rack or separate container to cool before storing, and enjoy.


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Butternut Squash Risotto with Crispy Prosciutto, Sage + Saffron

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There are some nights when the thought of getting in the kitchen and cooking a meal isn’t such a pleasant one. I’m busy! You’re busy! We’re ALL busy, aren’t we? So, perhaps babysitting a big steaming pot of risotto for the better part of an hour isn’t in the cards for everyone, every night of the week. However, when I do have nights that lend themselves to more leisurely meal prep, I often head down the risotto path. I’ve found that risotto gets a bad rap in that it is a little “labor intensive,” requiring frequent stirring and ladling of stock. But really, what is so terrible about stirring and ladling? One man’s “labor intensive” is another man’s luxurious and therapeutic … and by “another man,” I mean me. I am the other man. Am I making sense?

Anyway, I have always loved the pseudo hypnotic aspect of risotto cookery; the trance-like state that comes from the delightfully repetitive nature of the dish’s preparation. You see, I actually look forward to that half-hour of all-in risotto cooking BECAUSE of the fact that it takes me away from other responsibilities and distractions, not in spite of it. There is a beauty in that. Getting lost in the art of the cooking process and savoring the rich aromas that intensify as the dish nears its completion – sweet wine, onions, roasting squash, butter – this, to me, is the kitchen equivalent of a nice hot bath. This might qualify me as a weirdo, but it’s the truth. If you’re going to get in the kitchen and cook a meal, why not fully engage in the experience and enjoy the process? I’d rather spend 30 minutes tending to a scratch-made risotto than 15 minutes heating up a boxed/canned/frozen conglomeration of ingredients. That little bit of extra time is so worth it in the end. You’ll get a better meal and a better sense of pride from having done it. Of that I am quite sure.

So, in other news, are you over butternut squash yet? No? Me neither. The incredible versatility of this vegetable makes it a tough one to tire of, if you ask me. You didn’t ask? Sorry.

There certainly is no shortage of recipes that utilize this autumnally ubiquitous food, and whether you prefer it in a savory application, such as a soup, pasta, my autumn squash chili, or in a casserole, or in a sweeter dish, like a squash pie or cake, the possibilities for creativity and unique flavor pairings are seemingly endless. I’m not sure you could say that about every vegetable. Take potatoes for example, or the ever popular kale (the reigning homecoming queen of vegetables), or onions. These things are all delicious in their own right but do not possess the range and sweet/savory versatility of the butternut squash. I mean, onion cake? Thanks but no thanks.

This risotto recipe is one of my very favorite meals to both prepare and to enjoy and admittedly, I make it year-round. However, it does seem to shine most brightly during these brisk Fall months, when both the squash and sage are in season and the innately comforting quality of a creamy, steamy bowl of intensely flavored rice just hits the spot. I use a sweeter wine in this recipe, as opposed to drier wines that are typically seen in risottos. Reason being, I think the sweeter notes play really well with the sweetness of the squash and the sweeter onions that stand as the base for the dish. I also tested cinnamon in the recipe for the same reason. It bridges that gap between sweet and savory and hums a quietly complementary note alongside some of the dish’s louder elements. I’m not a huge fan of prosciutto in its original cured state. However, if you crisp it up in a pan, it becomes something else entirely and I have a hard time not eating all of it before the meal is actually served.

That salty prosciutto, the earthy freshness of the sage, the sweet notes of the squash, and the unmistakeable tang of goat cheese make for such an elegant and interesting dish that is easy and fun to prepare. It might look like a big undertaking, but it is simple and straightforward to make – really it is. I urge you to try this and let me know how you fare! If you play around with the ingredients, please feel free to share your tweaks with me. I view even my very favorite recipes as works in progress, and I’m always excited to take them down new twists and turns. Enjoy.

RECIPE

1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded and chopped into 1/2-inch cubes

8 tablespoons (give or take) extra virgin olive oil, divided

Salt and freshly cracked black pepper

6 cups chicken stock

1.5 teaspoons saffron threads (you can leave this out if you prefer)

6 slices of prosciutto

12 sage leaves

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided

1/2 small sweet onion (such as Vidalia or Walla Walla), diced

1.5 cups Arborio rice

4 oz. sweet white wine (such as Riesling)

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese (optional)

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Toss the cubed squash in two tablespoons of olive oil and season well with salt and pepper. Roast for about 25 – 30 minutes, turning once, or until softened and lightly golden brown. Set aside when done.

Add the chicken stock and saffron to a medium saucepan over medium heat and keep warm until use (using warm stock when making risotto optimizes the texture and consistency of the rice and cooks it more evenly).

Add the prosciutto, in batches, to a medium pan over medium-high heat and cook on each side until lightly browned and crisped (this happens fast, about 2 – 3 minutes per side should do it). Break up into pieces or shards for topping the risotto and set aside.

In the same pan in which you cooked the prosciutto, maintain the heat on medium-high and add four tablespoons of olive oil. When the oil is hot, fry the sage leaves for about 20 – 30 seconds per side, or until lightly browned (they will pop and frizzle violently when you do this – that’s a good thing). Set aside on a paper towel-lined plate to drain.

In a large pan over medium-high heat, melt 3 tablespoons of butter along with the remaining two tablespoons of olive oil and saute’ the diced onions until tender, about 5 minutes.

Add the Arborio rice to the pan with the onions and stir to coat in the oil and butter. Cook for about 3 – 5 minutes, to toast the grains slightly (stirring, stirring).

Deglaze the pan with the wine, and cook until it is almost completely reduced (about 2 – 3 minutes). Add two ladles full of the warm stock to the pan plus about a teaspoon of salt and a teaspoon of pepper as well as the cinnamon. Cook until the stock is almost completely evaporated (about 6 – 8 minutes). Make sure to stir while this is happening, as the stirring will develop the starches and contribute to a proper creamy risotto.

Keep adding the stock, 2 ladles full at a time, stirring frequently (every couple of minutes is fine). Each time, cook until the mixture is almost totally dry, and then add more stock. When you’ve used up about 2/3 of the stock, add the squash cubes into the pot. Add stock until the rice is cooked through, but still al dente (should take about 30 minutes). Turn off the heat and add the Parmesan cheese and another two tablespoons of butter. Mix well.

To serve, pour the risotto into serving bowls or into one big serving platter and top with some of the crispy prosciutto, frizzled sage and crumbled goat cheese, if desired. 


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Red Grape + Cacao Nib Corn Muffins

Red Grape and Cacao Nib Corn MuffinsRed Grape and Cacao Nib Corn MuffinsRed Grape and Cacao Nib Corn MuffinsRed Grape and Cacao Nib Corn MuffinsRed Grape and Cacao Nib Corn MuffinsRed Grape and Cacao Nib Corn MuffinsRed Grape and Cacao Nib Corn Muffins

 

RECIPE

Makes about 12 muffins

1 cup yellow corn meal

1 cup all purpose flour

1/2 cup sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup whole milk

2 eggs, beaten

3/4 stick unsalted butter, melted

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/3 cup honey

25 red grapes (give or take), halved

2/3 cup cacao nibs, plus a couple extra tablespoons for topping

 

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Grease or paper line your muffin tins.

In a medium-sized bowl, combine the corn meal, flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. In a separate small bowl, whisk the milk, eggs, butter, vanilla, and honey until well combined. Combine the wet and dry ingredients together in the medium bowl and fold in 2/3 of the halved grapes and the cacao nibs. Stir just until everything is combined.

Fill your muffin tins 2/3 full with the batter and top each muffin with a couple extra grape halves and some extra cacao nibs. Bake for 12 – 15 minutes or until a tester comes out clean.

 


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Black Velvet Cake with Blackberry Buttercream

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I’ve got a recipe for Black Velvet Cake with a fluffy and fresh Blackberry Buttercream Frosting up on Bastion & Co. right now, and it not only makes for a refreshing twist on the classic Red Velvet Cake, it is also a cake that works for any occasion, any time of year. In fact, I made it for my daughter’s birthday and also found that it worked as a great Halloween cake, given its deeply dark and rich color. If you can’t find fresh Blackberries that suit, simply swap in frozen, thawed berries and continue on – no harm, no foul.

 

“Cake is happiness! If you know the way of the cake, you know the way of happiness!

If you have a cake in front of you, you should not look any further for joy!”  – C. JoyBell C.


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Green Chile + Pork Tenderloin Posole and The Fun in Feeling Stupid

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As the first birthday of this blog speedily approaches, I’ve found myself skimming back through some of my earliest posts, recipes and ramblings. It’s hard not to get a little nostalgic and sentimental when you do this, I’ve discovered. When I set out to do this blog, I really just wanted a new creative outlet and an ever-accessible place to house the various dishes and recipes that I enjoy and think others might as well. But I’m not sure I could have imagined just how much more I would get out of doing this. In addition to it just being a fun thing to do, food blogging has connected me to so many others who are equally as passionate about food and cooking but who possess their own unique perspectives, ideas and voices. The feeling of being constantly inspired by these people, as I have been over the past year, feels like a luxury of sorts. Almost intoxicating in its effect, deep-seated inspiration can both keep you up at night and get you up in the morning – and I mean this in the best of ways.

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There has been many a late-night and early-morning occasion on which I have found myself doodling away in my little notebook, trying to capture ideas and thoughts, recipe concepts and flavor combinations that I can’t wait to test. Not everything I come up with makes it past the pages of this notebook; in fact, most things don’t. But the recipes you don’t see and the ideas that never really amount to much still carry a great deal of weight. It is those half-baked thoughts that help to get you where you’re going and ultimately lend shape to your final destination. The process of brainstorming and sorting out what will and won’t make it off the pages and onto the blog is half the fun. Green Chili PosolePosolePosole

This green chili posole recipe was one of the first things I posted on the blog and I didn’t even have any supporting photos to accompany it. I was wading my way through the blogging process and just beginning to establish what I wanted, or thought I wanted, it to be. Almost a year later, I’m still doing that – or at least a version of that. This “figuring it out” process is something that will most likely never stop, and I wouldn’t want it to if it could. The more I learn about food and cooking, and the more trends, traditions, tricks, and techniques to which I am exposed, the more I realize I don’t know. Like life, really. That’s part of the beauty of doing a blog though. You are always hovering somewhere between feeling like you know something and like you know nothing, and when you’re stuck in the latter, some source of inspiration inevitably kicks in … and away you go.

In honor of a very fun year spent feeling both smart and dumb, lost and inspired, I’m going to revisit one of my first recipes and shine a light on it once more. This Green Chili and Pork Tenderloin posole’ (a Mexican stew) is just plain wonderful, and in a life where I am increasingly drawn to more streamlined, efficient (i.e. one-pot, chop and drop) recipes, this one reigns supreme. It’s spicy, comforting, different, and unlike many other stews and soups, it’s actually kind of beautiful. Thanks green chilies! Topped simply with sour cream and avocado to cool it down, cilantro, pistachios or toasted pepitas, and torn soft or crushed hard tortillas for sopping, this is one dish that will have you coming back for more. It’s the kind of recipe that will make you pat yourself on the back and revel in just how much you DO know …

RECIPE

2 cubanelle peppers

3 poblano peppers

4 tablespoons olive oil

2 lbs. of pork tenderloin, cut into chunks (no more than ½ – ¾ inch)

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

2 celery stalks, finely chopped

1 large onion, chopped

4 garlic cloves, minced

5 tomatillos, peeled, rinsed and chopped

2 teaspoons ground cumin

2 teaspoons ground coriander

2 teaspoons dried Mexican oregano

5 cups chicken stock

1 cup whole milk

2 cans of yellow hominy, drained (white works too)

1.5 tablespoon honey

1/2 cup yellow corn meal

 

Place all of the chilies on a baking sheet and broil them in the oven until the skins have blackened and blistered. This takes about 3 – 5 minutes per side (flip them once). When the skins are nice and black all over, remove the baking sheet from the oven/broiler and cover with a clean kitchen towel. The steam that this creates will help lift the skins off easily for you. When they’re cool enough to handle, peel, seed and chop the chiles and set aside.

Heal the oil in a large Dutch oven or heavy bottomed pot. Add your pork and season with salt and pepper to taste (don’t actually taste it, just use however much you like). Cook the pork until the pieces are brown and the edges are crispy and then transfer to a plate for a bit. Set aside.

Add the celery, onion, and garlic and cook for just a few minutes, or until they’ve softened, about 5 minutes.

Add the tomatillos and next three ingredients (your spices) and test for seasoning. Make any adjustments you see fit. After this lovely concoction has cooked for a few more minutes, add the stock, milk, hominy, honey, and the roasted chiles. Transfer half of the soup to a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. Return to the pot along with the pork and corn meal and simmer until the pork is tender, about  35 – 45 minutes.

Garnish as desired (I like sour cream, tortilla chips, lime wedges, avocado, pepitas, pistachios, pickled jalapenos, etc.), and enjoy.

 

 


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Autumn Squash Chili

Autumnal Squash ChiliAutumnal Squash Chili
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“Next to jazz music, there is nothing that lifts the spirit and strengthens the soul more than a good bowl of chili.” – Harry James

 

RECIPE

1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2 inch cubes (1/2 of a large one should be enough for this recipe, if that’s all you can find)
5 tablespoons canola oil, divided
1.5 lbs ground beef
1 small onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced or grated
2 teaspoons cumin
1.5 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/4 cup chili powder
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 cup beer
1/2 cup brewed coffee
28 ounce can diced tomatoes
1 can of black beans, rinsed and drained (optional)
2 – 4 cups beef stock.
Toppings of your choice (tortilla chips, sour cream, cheese, avocado, cilantro, scallions, etc.)

 

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Toss the squash with a couple tablespoons of oil and spread out evenly on a baking sheet coated with nonstick spray. Roast for 25 minutes, or until softened and slightly golden brown, turning halfway through. Set aside.

Meanwhile, add two tablespoons of oil to a large pot over medium-high heat. Brown the ground beef. Once it’s nice and brown, drain the fat off and transfer the ground beef to a separate container/plate while you cook the aromatics and toast the spices.

Reduce the heat under the pot to medium. Add another tablespoon of oil to the pot followed by the diced onion, garlic, and the next 7 ingredients. (Note: you don’t have to stick to the amounts I have listed for the spices. If you like, feel free to add more or less of each one to suit your preferences). Cook, stirring frequently, for 6 – 8 minutes or until the onion is soft and translucent.

Add the tomato paste and pumpkin and stir to combine. Cook for an additional 2 – 3 minutes.

Add the beer to the pot to deglaze, stirring to loosen any bits on the bottom. Add the coffee and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Add the beef back into the pan, followed by the tomatoes, beans (if you like beans in your chili), and roasted squash.

Stir the contents of the pot to combine everything and add the stock, starting with two cups and adding more if the chili appears too thick (this step can be done to your preference. If you like very thick chili, you can skip the stock altogether).

Cover and reduce the heat to low. Simmer the chili for at least an hour before serving to allow the flavors to develop. The longer it sits the better!

Ladle into bowls and top as desired.

 


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Chocolate + Apple Fritters

Chocolate and Apple FrittersChocolate and Apple FrittersChocolate and Apple FrittersChocolate and Apple FrittersChocolate and Apple Fritters

Cocoa and apples

Have come together as one

What took them so long?

 

What’s that, you ask? Oh you know, just a little original Haiku. (You’re welcome!) I’m confident that this little number might win me acceptance into some secretive and highly coveted poetry society.  If the haiku doesn’t do it, then at LEAST the fritters will.

 

They

are

 

SO

Good.

 

 

RECIPE

2 cups all-purpose flour

¼ cup cocoa powder

1/2 cup sugar

3 tablespoons brown sugar

2-1/4 teaspoons baking powder

1-1/4 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons cinnamon

½ teaspoon allspice

2 eggs

3/4 cups milk

2 tablespoons melted butter

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 apples, peeled/diced

Powdered sugar (optional, for dusting)

 

In a mixing bowl, combine flour, sugars, baking powder, cinnamon, allspice, and salt. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs, then add the milk, butter, and vanilla.

Fold the dry and wet ingredients together until just combined. Fold in the apples. Add enough apples to make a very chunky batter.

Heat a couple of inches of canola or vegetable oil to 360 degrees F.

Drop teaspoons of batter into the hot oil, six or eight at a time. Keep an eye on them to ensure they don’t get too brown and flip them once during cooking. Cook them long enough to make sure they are done in the centers (about 2 to 2 1/2 minutes).

Remove and drain on a paper towel. Dust liberally with powdered sugar,

(These are great heated up the next day or two in a 350 degree oven for 5 – 6 minutes. Crisps ‘em right back up)

 

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