Law, Leaves and Baklava

Every semester I promise myself that this is the semester I’m going to take it easy and every semester I don’t do that even a little. This semester, for example, I was supposed to accomodate 35 work hours a week by taking easy classes, but that was before I showed up to day 1 of the most amazing and demanding classes I’ve ever taken in my life. The unexpected final addition to the schedule was a positively life changing class on Shari’a, Islamic law. I decided to indulge my inner nerd, and last night I ended up making baklava at 1:30 in the morning.

 

 

Walnut-Honey Baklava | The Road Home

 

 

While it might be ever so totally true that this wasn’t even kind of a class assignment, we WERE assigned a mock divorce court last week (complete with costumes and props) as an in-class exercise and – what do you know? –the mock plaintiff just so happened to own a baklava company! Unfortunately we were representing her mock husband and bringing in baklava for the other side was too time consuming to be justified. But I didn’t have homework last night and so for class tomorrow I will be setting the mood in style.

 

 

Walnut-Honey Baklava | The Road Home

 

 

Besides, baklava is secretly a perfect fall food. With walnuts, honey, cinnamon and thin sheets of phyllo that could easily represent falling leaves, you could not possibly get more seasonally appropriate. I can’t lie, phyllo is a pain in everyone’s butt to work with, but I can promise the results will be well worth it. I may or may have nibbled on a store bought substitute while I waited for this to be ready and I can assure you, there’s truly nothing like homemade.

 

 

Walnut-Honey Baklava | The Road Home

 

 

Do you have any unexpected fall recipes? Or stories of classwork-turned-recipe? Let me know in the comments below!

The Better Way to Eat French Toast

Francesca just had surgery yesterday and while it was a pretty low-key procedure, she was supposed to be out of commission for about a week. We had grand plans to lift her spirits and nurse her back to health, so it was a bit unsettling to find her running around the house this morning and having her drag *me* out of bed this morning. She appears to be the healthiest person in the house right now. That said, we had already promised her a special breakfast this morning so even though she’s doing a terrible job proving she deserves it, we’re committed to french toast and bacon, at least for brunch (oh how we suffer).

 

Look at her... so sick...

 

Right before my birthday this past spring, I spent a beautiful weekend in Dingle, Ireland also pretending I needed to get well. I was thoroughly fake-stressed, and wanted a weekend of complete relaxation to welcome my 22nd year in style so, when the impending time came, I’d be ready to face the real world head-on. I spent the weekend biking, listening to traditional Irish music, and chatting with strangers in cozy pubs, but a large portion of the credit for the weekend’s “healing” powers goes to the Goat Street Café’s French Toast with Brie and Maple syrup. I swear that no combination of flavors has ever sung so beautifully and harmoniously together – they resonate through your heart like music from a particularly good traditional music session, and with similarly strong healing powers (as long as you don’t have an actual illness). You would never think to put these musicians together, but boy can they play. So to celebrate the art of pretending to get well, we’re putting an East Coast spin with Challah French Toast with Brie and Maple Syrup – and we’re adding a trad playlist to play while you eat. Whether you’re recovering from the Tired Tuesdays or post-sleep hunger, I assure you this is just the cure you need.

 

French Toast with Brie and Maple Syrup – The best french toast I've ever had (on The Road Home)

 

And we want to know – what makes you feel better when you’re pretending to be sick? Or do you have any fun spins on traditional breakfast foods? We want to hear all about it!

 

Cookies on the Fly

Last night, my Sharia class had the most depressing movie party a class could ever have. I had briefly mentioned I might make Baklava, to lift the mood but (spoiler alert) Baklava takes like a year make, and I had literally no time. Cookies, on the other hand, take 10 minutes and de-stress like none other. I can’t write a real post because I still have no time. So, Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies, speak for yourselves.

 

 

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies via The Road Home

 

 

Do you have no time? Do you make cookies? Tell me all about it in the briefest comments you possibly can 😉

 

(Recipe Below)

 

 

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies via The Road Home

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Prep Time: 10 Mins Cooking Time: 10 Mins

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • Hefty pinch of salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2-3/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 cup butter @ room temperature
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract (optional because I forgot to buy it and it turned out fine) (not really optional though) (also, I suspect Jack Daniels or Jameson would make a great substitute – somebody should try it out)
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 2 cups dark chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. In a medium-large bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking powder and soda and spices.
  3. In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, mix butter and sugar on high, until fluffy, about 3-4 minutes.
  4. Mix in egg, vanilla and pumpkin also for about 3-4 minutes, until blended. Don’t freak out if it looks curdled, it will do that, and it will be ok.
  5. Slowly add the dry ingredients until just mixed. Then slowly mix in chocolate chips.
  6. Drop cookie dough by rounded tablespoons onto cookie sheet.
  7. Bake until edges are golden brown. The recipe I was working off said 10 minutes, mine took like 25. Start checking at 10 – you’ll know.
  8. Cool on sheet for 2 minutes, then transfer to baking rack and eat them all!

Roasted Pears in Cider and Port Wine

 

There is nothing like finding a dessert that’s beautiful, easy and unbelievably delicious. We all know that it isn’t always so easy. There are a lot of desserts that fit only one or two of those stipulations.  A genoise cake, for example is beautiful and delicious but certainly NOT simple.

 

 

Roasted Pears In Cider and Port Wine | The Road Home - SO delicious and ridiculously easy.

 

 

That’s why this dessert is so special.  Did I mention that it’s fairly low-calorie as well? I used to make roasted pears with pomegranate juice and red wine, which was very good but it just didn’t quite have the depth a great autumn dessert should have. I tinkered with apple cider and port wine instead and added ginger, cinnamon and cardamom to create this gem of a fall treat. I honestly haven’t met anyone in any of my classes who hasn’t gone crazy over this one. You may also want to prepare this if you are having an open house as well. The combination of pears, port, cider and spices says cozy autumn like nothing else. I bet it will sell your house in a flash!

 

 

Roasted Pears In Cider and Port Wine | The Road Home - SO delicious and ridiculously easy.

 

 

 

The best thing about it is that your friends and family will not only love it but they will be so honored you spent so much time making them a special dessert. The truth (note, I am whispering) is that it will take you about 15 minutes to get in oven. Don’t worry. Your secret will be safe. Who am I going to tell?

 

 

Roasted Pears In Cider and Port Wine | The Road Home - SO delicious and ridiculously easy.

 

Roasted Pears In Cider and Port Wine | The Road Home - SO delicious and ridiculously easy.

 

 

Oh, and be sure to save any extra sauce to pour over French toast, pancakes or waffles over the weekend. The recipe purposefully makes more sauce than you will need for the pears alone so you can have leftovers. Who could ask for more?

 

 

Roasted Pears In Cider and Port Wine | The Road Home - SO delicious and ridiculously easy.

 

 

Do you have any easy winner dessert recipes like this one? Let us know in the comments, below!

 

 

Roasted Pears In Cider and Port Wine | The Road Home - SO delicious and ridiculously easy.

 

 

 

 

 

Pears in a Port Wine Cider Glaze

From: Heide Lang

Ingredients:

  • 1/1/4 cups Ruby Port
  • 1 1/4 cups Apple Cider
  • ½ cup Sugar
  • 1 ½ Cinnamon Sticks
  • 2 teaspoons Grated Orange Peel
  • ¾ teaspoon Ground Cardamom
  • ¾ teaspoon Ginger Powder (or one teaspoon fresh finely chopped ginger)
  • 6 Ripe Bosc or Red Star Crimson Pears, with stems, peeled
  • Vanilla Ice Cream

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. Stir port, apple cider, sugar, cinnamon sticks, orange peel, cardamom and ginger powder in medium saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves, about 3 minutes.
  3. Using a small melon baller, core pears from bottom of wide end.
  4. Trim bottoms flat and stand upright in 8 x 8 x 2 inch baking dish.
  5. Pour all but a ½ cup of the sauce over pears. Set aside the remaining ½ cup for later.
  6. Roast pears until tender when pierced with a knife or skewer, basting pears with sauce every 20 minutes, for about 1 hour.
  7. Using spatula, transfer roasted pears to serving platter.
  8. Return the pan juices to the saucepan.
  9. Simmer until reduced to 2/3 cup, about 5 minutes.
  10. Strain through a fine sieve into a small bowl, discarding all solids. (This is optional. The sauce will simply be smoother if you filter out the orange zest before serving.)
  11. Spoon glaze over pears.
  12. Serve warm or at room temperature with vanilla ice cream.

In The Fridge: Cooking Corn at Midnight

If ever there was a day to write an “in the fridge” post, it was last week. We came home a day early from New Orleans in the wake of  “Hurricane/Tropical Storm/Turned-out-to be-Barely-Cloudy-in-New Orleans Karen (it was petering out to sea as we were boarding the plane, only we were delayed because of ‘high winds’ at Newark international. Do I need to point out the irony? Oy).

 

CornCastIronSkillet

 

I’m always fearful when I open the door to our house after a trip. Something a little scary always happens when we’re gone, only this time I was hardly worried since my parents were house sitting for all but the last day. I walked in and there was this vague scent of musty vegetables. I put a deliriously tired Francesca to bed and then went to investigate. It took me a good long while to realize the freezer wasn’t completely closed from ice build-up, which happens from time to time. Everything was still vaguely cool, but definitely not frozen.  Most things had to be thrown away, but there was a lot of corn that was still cold. Fortunately, I remembered a recipe I taught once for a farmers market class – Lime Ancho Corn Soup  – which I once modified during a class for a student who didn’t eat any dairy.

 

limezestancho2

 

I took out my cast iron skillet, turned up the flame, and voila re-created this great, fast, and easy side dish that combines blackened corn with lime and ancho chile powder. This dish can also be converted into a salad by chilling the corn and adding red onions, tomatoes and avocadoes as well.

 

 

corncastiron

 

 

I was feeling very jet lagged and very bummed to be cooking at midnight, but of course very happy the next day to have the corn with roasted capon. Fortunately, you don’t have to wait for a refrigerator mishap to make this dish. Enjoy!

 

 

cornsaladplate2

 

 

Question of the Day: Have you ever turned around a refrigerator disaster like this? What did you do? We want to know!

 

 

Burnt Corn with Lime and Ancho Chile Spice

From: Heide Lang

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 pounds (about 4 ½ cups,) frozen or fresh organic corn*
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 limes
  • ¾ teaspoon pepper
  • 1-1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons ancho or chipotle chili powder divided
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/8-1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 medium red onion coarsely chopped
  • 2 avocados diced (optional)
  • 2 tomatoes coarsely chopped (optional)

Directions:

  1. Heat canola oil in a non-stick pan, preferably cast iron.
  2. Add corn. Mix well to assure all the kernels are coated with oil.
  3. Add the salt, stir and cook on medium high for 10 minutes, or until the kernels start to brown and even burn in some places. (It will smell vaguely of popcorn and may even pop a kernel or two, so be careful!)
  4. Zest both limes (you should have 2 teaspoons of zest)
  5. Add the zest and the juice of one lime to the skillet. Mix well and then add the ancho powder, black pepper, and cayenne pepper. Stir well and serve. You may also serve the corn as a light and healthy salad by letting the corn cool for at least an hour in the refrigerator and adding red onions, avocado and tomatoes. Sprinkle the juice of the second lime over the salad, mix well and serve.

Caramelized Shallots

I was a bit of a rebel at cooking school, which was kind of surprising considering I was pretty much a nerd in high school. I was always asking a lot of questions, especially ones that began with “Why do we have to….?” One of the hallmarks of great French cooking, I learned very quickly, was that shortcuts were pretty much a no-no. We learned, for example, how to prepare mayonnaise and whip egg whites stiff by hand instead of using mixers or hand blenders just so we would know how if we needed to in the future.

 

Easy Caramelized Shallots – the latest, greatest kitchen cheat | The Road Home

 

For chefs in a commercial kitchen this may come in handy on occasion, but I think every minute home cooks spend in the kitchen should be enjoyable. This means you should take shortcuts and even cheat a little sometimes. Otherwise, I know for a fact you will avoid certain ingredients, like shallots, which are tedious to peel since you need so many more them than onions, and slicing or dicing may them burn your eyes. You should never avoid such a wonderful ingredient such as shallots since they add so much flavor, being a little less bitter than onions and really sweet when caramelized.

 

Easy Caramelized Shallots – the latest, greatest kitchen cheat | The Road Home

 

So I’ve come up with a an easy way to caramelize massive amounts of shallots with very little labor after being inspired by a  12-Hour Rabbit Bolognese recipe in Jamie Oliver’s Jamie’s Great Britain (a book by the way everyone should own). He just puts all the ingredients whole into this rabbit stew and the onions just fall apart and assimilate during braising. So smart. I thought that perhaps I could achieve the same results with shallots if I just peel large shallots, quarter them and slowly cook them in a bit of oil. It works!

 

Easy Caramelized Shallots – the latest, greatest kitchen cheat | The Road Home

 

So what, you say?  Shallots cooked this way are a great replacement for onions in stews, or in pureed soups, mixed in with vegetables or mashed potatoes (see Stoemp). You could also add these to a pot pie, fill puff pastry cups with shallots and add a bit of goat cheese for a easy elegant appetizer, or again really use them anywhere you use cooked onions. Today, for example, I used them for a meatloaf. First I added a bit of cognac to the shallots, and let the alcohol burn off. Then I pureed them before adding them to the ground beef and other ingredients (you can also just chop them – fine or coarse – or leave them just the way they are).  There’s really no end on how you can use them.

 

Easy Caramelized Shallots – the latest, greatest kitchen cheat | The Road Home

 

Do you have any go-to ingredient or spice that adds pizzazz to everyday meals? Let us know in the comments, below!

 

 

 

 

Caramelized Shallots 1-2-3

From: Heide Lang

Ingredients:

  • 8 large shallots, or 12 smaller ones peeled.
  • 4-5 tablespoons canola or sunflower oil (or another oil with a high smoke point)

Directions:

  1. Cut off the root of the shallots and quarter them
  2. Heat a medium size sauté pan and add 4 tablespoons of oil.
  3. Add the shallots and coat them with the hot oil. Break up the shallots with a firm spatula as they cook until all they have all fallen apart.
  4. Cook over a low-medium heat until the shallots start to brown, about 25 minutes. Add the last tablespoon or more of canola oil if the shallots stick to the pan
  5. Remove the shallots from pan and add to your favorite vegetable, stew, soup, or any place else you would use cooked onions. (You may chop or puree them as well.)

This Cocktail Will Make Your Fall

When most households say they have a secret ingredient, they generally mean something normal like love, mayonnaise or grandma’s special seasoning mix. But in my house, where we are not normal, I learned from a very young age that everything (every single thing) tastes better with whiskey. All of my favorite family standbys – Irish Whiskey Potato Soup, Jack Daniels Fudge Pie or Bourbon Sweet Potatoes – owed their indescribable special to what can only be considered the world’s greatest spirit. Some of these I grew up with, some of them were added over the years, but there’s a rich, nutty, I-don’t-even-know (is amber a flavor?) that has defined almost every food I’ve ever been obsessed with. And now that I’m 21, I’ll happily drink a well margarita, and only believe in cheap vodka, but even in my young age, I take my whiskey very, very seriously.

Hot Cider with Irish Whiskey | The Road Home

 

I could wax poetic for hours about cooking with whiskey – fun for all ages, and I have yet to find a food it doesn’t improve. But in my nearly 6 months of being 21 I have never yet written about a cocktail, so I’m going to celebrate my impending half birthday with a simple fall cocktail my friends and I dreamed up. I’ve actually wanted to make this for weeks but I decided to wait until it was seasonally appropriate. All it takes to make it is to heat up a cup of apple cider and add 1/8-1/4 cup of whiskey (afterwards, of course, so it doesn’t evaporate). And it tastes like a fall serenade swirled up your mind and heart and dropped them in… I don’t know, a fiery maple tree or something. Ireland wins my love all day every day so I used Bushmills but I bet this would taste amazing with Scotch too. Extra points if you mull the cider but I’m lazy so I won’t fault you if you are too.

 

Hot Cider with Irish Whiskey | The Road Home

 

Do you have a fall drink you make? Whether it’s spiked or child appropriate, we want to hear about it! Let us know in the comments below!

Pasta with Pumpkin Cream

Most normal people recognize that Saturday morning is the best day of the week to sleep in, but I’m a little dumb about these things. After a week of sleepless nights, I still have a tendency to get up at 6am to make it to my dance class at 10… in Connecticut. It is, in fact, insane. But my dance school is one of my favorite places in the whole world and the concrete towers and grand avenues that are my New York day-to-day are no substitute for the fiery autumn country roads that lead me home.

 

Pasta with Pumpkin-Sherry Cream | The Road Home

 

Usually I go home on friday nights so I can get up for dance at a normal time, but by a beautiful stroke of luck I took the train last week. And when I got off the train in South Norwalk to transfer to Bethel (which is so great, you’ve never even heard of it) I had what can only be described as “a moment.” All at once, the friendlier people, bright colors and most importantly the crispness of the air whacked me in the face and though the equinox was still a week away, my fall had arrived. Ever since then, I can’t get enough of apples, pumpkins, squash and cinnamon… but I decided I’d better hold off to share my insanity until it was really really fall, and also until I had a recipe worthy of my sentiments to share with you – something truly special. Which luckily, I found today on the first full day of fall! This recipe is inspired by Martha Stewart’s recipe, but with added sherry, more rosemary, cream, garlic and cheese. It tastes vaguely Northern Italian, but distinctly American and very very fall. And the best part is it only takes 1/2 an hour max from start to finish, even for a slow cooker like me!

 

Pasta with Pumpkin-Sherry Cream | The Road Home

 

How about you – do you have a savory way to welcome in the season? We’d love to hear about it!

 

Pasta with Pumpkin-Sherry Cream | The Road Home

Penne with Pumpkin Cream Sauce

From: Gabrielle Siegel, inspired by Martha Stewart

Ingredients:

  • 12 oz penne pasta
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 2 tsp dried rosemary
  • 2.5-3 tbsp sherry
  • 1 (15 oz) can pure pumpkin
  • 3/4 cup half-and-half
  • 1/2-3/4 cup grated parmesan
  • 1 tbsp sugar

Directions:

  1. Cook pasta, according to package directions, in salted water until al-dente. Drain, and reserve 2 cups water.
  2. Heat oil over medium-high heat in a large saucepan, and sauté garlic and rosemary for 2-3 minutes, until fragrant and slightly toasted
  3. Carefully add the sherry, pumpkin, half-and-half, parmesan and sugar, and stir to combine. Add reserved water in 1/2 cup increments until desired texture is reached.
  4. Add pasta to pan, and stir to coat. 
  5. Eat, sprinkled with parmesan and a little rosemary.

Baked Potato Nachos

I should note before I go on, that this is recipe is not just for lazy students – it’s a festive and delicious grownup lunch, too. I just feel like I have to explain where this recipe comes from, and the truth is that it comes from necessity. As every student knows, Sunday is perhaps the furthest thing possible from a day of rest. It’s actually the day you recover from the fact that you put off your homework all week and have to get it all done before class begins tomorrow. And of course when you’re doing all that cramming, you just get hungrier and hungrier and so you’re put in a difficult position: extreme hunger, and no time to cook.

 

 

Baked Potato Nachos quick/easy/addictive lunch or study snack! | The Road Home

 

 

I’ve weighed the benefits of many snacks, but few things cut it just right. Ice cream is cold, creamy and delicious but takes too much self control not eat the whole pint. Seaweed has almost no calories, but there’s only so much seaweed a person can eat. Ramen is quick and filling but… ew. I needed to find something delicious, something quick, something filling and most importantly something that would wake me up. And I found that in the Baked Potato Nacho. It takes no more than 30 seconds to melt Cheddar on a half a spud, top it with Crema Mexicana (I know, classy, right?) and sliced Jalapeños, which are spicy enough to remind you not to fall asleep.* Best of all there is no whole pack to eat, because you’d have to consciously go make another one, and you’d be too smart to go do that! And the sky is the limit in terms of what you can put on them – tomatoes, olives, salsa, tabasco sauce, chipotle mayo or ground beef if you have time on your hands. Next time you’re desperate for a quick lunch check these out – they’re ever so… wait for it… appeeling! (Sorry).

 

*30 seconds if you already have a baked potato. If you don’t, you will have to wait for one.

 

 

How about you – what are (or were) your favorite study snacks? Let me know in the comments below!

Baked Potato Nachos

Ingredients:

  • 1 baked potato*/**
  • 2-3 oz Cheddar cheese, grated or broken into small pieces
  • 2 dollops of crema Mexicana*** or sour cream
  • 8-10 slices hot pickled jalapeños

Directions:

  1. Cut your potato in half, and sprinkle cheddar evenly over the top.
  2. Microwave for about 30 seconds.
  3. Top with crema/sour cream, and evenly distribute the jalapeños
  4. You’re done. If that felt too easy, that’s because it was.

The 30 Second Side Dish

*Disclaimer: there is no such thing as a 30 second side dish, but this does come as close as you can possibly get.

 

As any friend, acquaintance or probably even stranger could tell you, I have a slight tendency to overprogram. I can’t stand the idea of letting a single moment of any day go by without it being used in the most efficient way (and yes, that includes efficiently watching How I Met Your Mother). This should be a relief for you, because if I’m making anything on a weeknight, you better believe you have time to make it too. But it did lead to a slight panic moment this past Thursday when I left babysitting, had to be at a Rosh Hashanah potluck more or less immediately, and it was too late to make even the simple string beans with crispy shallots I had intended to bring. With no idea what I was wearing, let along making, I called my mom in a tizzy from the supermarket.

 

Cauliflower

 

Granted, I could have probably been late to the party and the hidden truth here was that I really hate chopping shallots, but thank goodness I’m a lazy bum! Because rumor has it involved side dishes among friends are a waste of everybody’s time. My mom let me in on the best secret I’ve heard in a long time – if you set an oven to 350°F, and chop up some broccoli and cauliflower, all you have to do is toss it with a little canola oil, a lot of salt, and whatever herb or spice you like, bake it for 45 minutes and call it a recipe. And you can brag about it too because it’s freaking awesome! I claim no credit for this one, but I thought  you should be in the know. I’m planning to make this on a weekly basis probably for the rest of my life, and it’s vegan and gluten free and kosher and EVERYTHING so you should bring it to every party. Try this – you won’t be disappointed.

 

How about you? If you had to be at dinner in, say, 1/2 an hour what would you bring? Bonus points for shorter prep time!

 

And Update – Apparently this isn’t a secret at all, because the 13-year-old I babysit made this for me last night. Granted, Zoe is kind of a superstar of everything, but even so, I guess the cat has been out of the bag for a while.