Spiced Pumpkin Bread with Cream Cheese Filling

Spiced Pumpkin Bread with Cream Cheese Icing

I went to a friend’s housewarming party this evening, a modified potluck. The host, a chef, provided the bulk with the guests, all foodies (some professionals, some hobbyists), bringing the rest. My contribution: Pumpkin Spice Bread with Cream Cheese Filling.

I was having a bout of indecisiveness so it took me a long time to decide what to bring. I first decided it had to be seasonal, although I missed the farmer’s market yesterday so it was more for timing than ingredients. Second, I wanted a dessert – not sure what, but leaning towards something with apple or pumpkin. I could go on this with for a while but it’s late so I’ll get to the point. I chose a spiced pumpkin bread adapted from Bon Appetit. Read more of this >>

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Affy Tapple Bliss

It all started innocently enough. I ran out of allergy medicine and, after a day spent with a very cloudy head, I stopped at Walgreen’s to pick up my refill. And there they were. The surest sign of fall if there ever was one. More significant than the weather getting cooler, than winter squashes for sale, or even MLB playoffs.

It was the ubiquitous Affy Tapple. In its apple-shaped packaging with yellow label sitting on a display shelf in the entryway, the caramel apple with chopped nuts called my name. I couldn’t resist the pull and next thing you know, I’m purchasing the Affy Tapple with my allergy medicine and Q-tips, in theory for dessert much later this evening. Lets just say it was gone within minutes of entering the apartment. Read more of this >>

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Family Kugeloff ’08

Good kugel is really good – really, really good! Bad kugel is just disappointment. And trust me, not all kugels are created equal. Luckily, my mom makes a kick-ass kugel that is more savory than sweet. Yeah, I know, your mom also makes the best kugel, or your grandmother does, or heck, maybe yours is the best.

This is why I’m proposing a Kugeloff at my family’s Yom Kippur break-the-fast in a few weeks. True, this isn’t exactly my call as I’m not the host, but it seems like good clean fun, not to mention (hopefully) good food so why not?

The only problem: if my mom’s going to make her kick-ass kugel, then what will I make? While I take the next two weeks to create the perfect kugel, I’m hoping you readers will send me your favorite recipes to add to the mix.

Kugel,  a traditional Jewish baked pudding, is complicated with many aspects to consider. First of all, how is it pronounced? Some say KOO-guhl, I say KUH-guhl. Are we talking noodle or potato? Will it serve as a side dish/savory or dessert/sweet? Which leads to the final consideration: raisins or no raisins?

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Breakfast for dinner never tasted so good with the “It’s Still Summer Frittata”

It\'s Still Summer Frittata

For those of you who regularly read this blog, you’re probably getting sick of hearing me lament about the end of summer. However, the truth is that I love fall. I find it completely invigorating and refreshing, every part of it from watching the leaves change colors to eating my favorite hearty winter squashes to cheering on the Chicago Bears. I just don’t like what comes after fall – winter. Blah. Just the thought is making me shiver.

So please forgive me for desperately grasping at the last few signs of summer, even avoiding just-in-season apples at the market in favor of last-harvest blueberries. All this leads me to tonight’s dinner: an amazingly simple and fresh vegetable frittata. The ingredients are straightforward and there’s minimal prep and cooking times, a must have for end-of-summer appreciation. The recipe below serves two but could easily be doubled or even quadrupled for a larger party. Read more of this >>

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What the heck is this and what do you do with it?

Chinese Bitter Melon

I love discovering and experimenting with new ingredients, but the one I stumbled upon at the farmer’s market today really created a challenge. The vegetable: Chinese Bitter Melon. For just fifty cents, I decided to give this warty, pickle-looking thing a try and see what could be done.

Bitter melon seeds

Being that this bitter melon, also known as balsam pear, couldn’t be found in any of my cookbooks I turned to Google and discovered that the National Bitter Melon Council which provided me with much needed guidance. First of all, and this shouldn’t be a surprise, but the bitter melon is indeed bitter. The council advised either blanching it in boiling water for two minutes then shocking it, or treating it as I would eggplant and soaking it in salt for 10 minutes. Secondly, the bright red seeds are edible but can be difficult to digest. Finally, the site recommends pairing it with strong flavors such as garlic and coconut milk, and explained how it can be a coolant and palate cleanser to rich sauces.
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