Pumpkin Spice Soul Cakes

Pumpkin Spice Soul Cakes

Trick or Treat! Soul Cakes have an interesting Halloween related history dating back hundreds of years ago – watch my video on Curiosity Stream’s Instagram to find out more. (While you’re at it – sign up for 30 days FREE ALL ACCESS to Curiosity Stream with promo code Nathan!)

Yield: 17 cookies

1 cup (140 grams) black currants

2 tablespoons Grand Marnier

14 tablespoons (197 grams) (cold) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon sized pieces

1 packed cup (200 grams) light brown sugar

3¼ cups (450 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice

1 teaspoon kosher salt

3 large egg yolks

2 tablespoons whole milk

 

Place an oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Line two sheet trays with parchment paper.

Add currants and Grand Mariner together in a small bowl. Stir well. Set aside.

Add butter and sugar to a stand mixer and mix on medium using the paddle attachment for approximately 10 minutes, until light (in color) and fluffy, scraping the sides down of the inside of the bowl using a rubber spatula halfway through the process.

Add the flour, pumpkin pie spice and salt to a small bowl. Whisk to combine. Set aside.

After mixing the butter and sugar, add 1 egg yolk. Mix on medium-low until the egg fully incorporates into the mixture, approximately 20 seconds. Turn off the mixer and scrape the sides down. Add the second egg yolk and mix until it fully incorporates. Scrape the sides again and then add the third egg yolk. Scrape the sides down once more.

Add the Grand Marnier soaked currants (and any liquid left in the bowl) and mix on medium until it’s incorporated, approximately 10 seconds.

Turn off mixer and add the flour mixture. Mix on low until the dough begins to resemble clumpy sand, approximately 30 seconds. Sprinkle the milk evenly over the dough. Mix on low until the dough comes together and pulls away from the sides of the bowl, approximately 15 seconds. The finished dough will have a play dough consistency.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough to ½-inch thickness.

Using a 2¾ inch biscuit cutter, punch out as many circles as you can. Reroll dough and continue punching out soul cakes until no more dough remains. Using a kitchen knife or a bench scraper, impress an X shape atop each soul cake.

Evenly space 8 soul cakes on a parchment-lined sheet tray. Place the additional 9 on the second parchment-lined sheet tray.

Bake, one sheet tray at a time, for approximately 7 minutes. Rotate tray and continue baking another 8 minutes, until bottom edges are slightly browned.

Remove from oven and transfer to a cooling rack.

Soul cakes are best served day of, but may be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 days.

 

 

 

Double Chocolate Rye Brownies with Sea Salt

ryebrownie

—> Watch me make these on my YouTube channel! <—

Double Chocolate Rye Brownies with Sea Salt

Yields: 1 (9×13-inch) pan of brownies

 

Nonstick spray, for greasing the pan

12-ounces good quality dark chocolate, 70% cocoa solids

1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), cut into 1 tablespoon pieces

5 large whole eggs

1½ cups granulated sugar

½ cup dark brown sugar

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1½ cups dark rye flour

½ cup cocoa powder (Dutched or natural)

¼ teaspoon Maldon sea salt, for sprinkling over top

 

Set an oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Create a foil sling (for easy removal of the brownies) to fit into a 9x13x2-inch pan. Lightly spray the foil with nonstick spray.

Melt the chocolate and butter in a heatproof glass or metal bowl, set over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring slowly to combine. The simmering water should not touch the bottom of the bowl. Once melted, remove from the heat to cool.

Add the eggs, sugars, vanilla extract and salt to the bowl of a stand mixer (you can also use an electric mixer and a medium bowl) and whisk on medium-high until light and fluffy, approximately 7 minutes.

Add the flour and cocoa powder to a medium bowl. Whisk to combine. Set aside.

Slowly stream in the cooled chocolate to the whisked eggs and sugar, while whisking on low, until combined, approximately 1 to 2 minutes.

Add the dry ingredients, one spoonful at a time, to chocolatey bowl, whisking on low until combined.

Pour the brownie batter into the prepared pan. Smooth the top with a spatula. Sprinkle Maldon sea salt over top.

Bake for 22-24 minutes, until the brownies are mostly firm. (Note that a toothpick inserted in the brownies will not come out clean.)

Let brownies cool to room temperature before cutting.

Store any excess brownies in the refrigerator or freezer.

Asparagus Frittata with Preserved Lemon, Mint and Feta

Asparagus Fritatta

Asparagus Frittata with Preserved Lemon, Mint and Feta

Yield: 6 servings

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon finely chopped preserved lemon*, peel only (rinse lemon before chopping)
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and diced small
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 pound asparagus, bottom of stems trimmed, stalks cut on the bias into 1/2 -inch slices, tips kept whole
7 large eggs, whisked with a fork
¾ cup crumbled feta cheese
1 packed tablespoon chiffonade (sliced very thinly) fresh mint leaves

1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position, then preheat the oven to 325ºF.

2. Set a large, oven-safe, nonstick sauté pan over medium heat and add the butter, preserved lemon, chopped onion, salt and some pepper.

3. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions become soft and transparent, about 8 minutes.

4. Add the asparagus stems, stir and let cook for 2 minutes.  Add tips, stir and cook for 1 more minute.

5. Add eggs and sprinkle over feta and the mint evenly. (Shake the pan to distribute the ingredients if needed.) Cook for 30 seconds, then transfer the sauté pan into the oven.

6. Bake, uncovered, for 11 to 13 minutes or until the eggs are just set.

7. Remove the frittata from the oven, slide out onto a cutting board, slice into 6 pieces, and serve.

*You can find preserved lemon at some local grocery stores and at Whole Foods and/or Amazon.

Baby Yellow Potatoes with a Lemony Herb Citronette

German Butterball Potatoes

Yields: 2 servings

 

1 pound small yellow potatoes (preferably German Butterball or Baby Yukon Gold), cut into eighths

2 tablespoons kosher salt

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

1 small shallot, peeled and diced finely

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon roughly chopped fresh oregano

1 tablespoon roughly chopped fresh chives

¼ cup crumbled fresh sheep’s milk feta

 

Place potatoes in a medium saucepan. Cover potatoes with cold water, just enough to cover by ½-inch. Add the salt and vinegar. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer until potatoes are cooked through (easily pierced with a fork), but not falling apart approximately 10 to 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, add shallot, lemon juice, olive oil and pepper to a medium mixing bowl. Whisk to combine.

Drain potatoes and add to the mixing bowl along with the oregano and chives. Mix to combine.

Serve potatoes topped with crumbled feta.

Tray Baked Chicken Thighs with Roasted Grapes and Arugula

Chicken and Roasted Grapes

 

Yields: 4 servings

 

Zest of 1 lemon (grated on a Microplane)

10 (3-inch) sprigs fresh thyme

1¾ boneless skinless chicken thighs (approximately 6 chicken thighs)

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

¾ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 pound seedless red grapes

4 packed cups arugula (5 ounces)

2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

 

Adjust an oven rack 5 inches from the broiler and set the oven to broil.

Add the lemon zest, thyme, chicken thighs, olive oil, salt and pepper to a large mixing bowl. Mix to combine.

Place chicken thighs on an aluminum foil lined sheet tray.

Add grapes to the same large mixing bowl and mix so that you coat the grapes with the excess olive oil and seasoning left in the bowl.

Distribute grapes on the sheet tray, but do not cover the chicken. (You may need to do some rearranging on the sheet tray so nothing is overlapping.)

Place sheet tray in oven and set a timer for 7 minutes. After 7 minutes, flip the chicken. Continue cooking for another 7 to 10 minutes or until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165 degrees with a digital thermometer.

Remove sheet tray from the oven and transfer chicken and grapes to a plate (don’t pour out the jus!).

Add arugula to a large mixing bowl. Pour ¼ cup of the warm chicken/grape jus from the sheet tray over the arugula. Add the balsamic vinegar and gently fold to combine. Season with salt.

Serve by dividing the arugula onto plates. Top each salad with chicken and some roasted grapes. Got any leftover jus? Drizzle it over each plate for extra flavor.

 

Summer Heirloom Tomato Tart with Fresh Herbs

tomato tart

Yields: 1 (15- by 10-inch tart), 12 pieces

 

1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed

All-purpose flour (for dusting)

½ tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling

¾ cup freshly grated Emmental or Gruyere cheese

freshly ground black pepper

1 whole egg

1 tablespoon water

1 pound ripe heirloom tomatoes, preferably assorted colors (about 4 small), sliced ¼-inch thick

2 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh herbs, such as oregano, thyme and marjoram

zest of one small lemon (zested on a Microplane)

salt flakes, preferably Maldon or Jacobsen sea salt, to taste

2 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh basil leaves

 

Arrange an oven rack in the upper middle position. Place an inverted sheet tray on the rack. Preheat oven (and sheet tray) to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Roll out puff pastry on a sheet of lightly floured parchment paper in the shape of a large rectangle measuring about 15- by 10-inches. Prick pastry with a fork in a few places, leaving a 1-inch border around the edges, then slide parchment paper onto a second inverted sheet tray.

Brush the ½ tablespoon of olive oil on the pastry dough, staying within the 1-inch border and sprinkle over the cheese and some freshly ground black pepper.

Whisk together egg and water to make an egg wash. Brush egg wash on the edges of the pastry (the 1-inch border).

Arrange tomatoes on top of the oiled portion, overlapping a little if necessary.

Season the tomatoes with the 2 tablespoons of fresh herbs and the lemon zest.

Carefully slide parchment off of the sheet tray and onto the hot sheet tray in the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Rotate the inverted sheet tray 180 degrees. Bake for an additional 15 to 20 minutes until the edges of the pastry are golden brown and puffed up.

Let tart cool for 10 minutes before cutting into 12 pieces.

Before serving, sprinkle over a generous bit of salt, top with chopped basil and drizzle over some extra-virgin olive oil.

Watermelon and Feta Salad with Fresh Mint

Watermelon and Feta Salad

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

 

6 cups (1-inch) diced seedless watermelon (approximately a 3 pound watermelon)

3 small Persian cucumbers, quartered lengthwise and diced medium (1¾ cups)

2 teaspoons roughly chopped lemon zest (zested on a microplane and chopped)

1 pint (25-30) cherry tomatoes, halved (preferably assorted colors)

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

¼ cup packed fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped

¼ cup packed fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped

¾ cups crumbled sheep’s milk feta cheese

Extra virgin olive oil, to taste

Flaky sea salt, to taste (preferably Maldon or Jacobsen sea salt)

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

 

Place watermelon, cucumbers, tomatoes, lemon zest and juice, basil and mint in a large mixing bowl. Very gently fold to combine (you don’t want the tomatoes to leach their juice) with a large spoon.

 

Arrange on plates. Sprinkle feta, flaky sea salt and freshly ground black pepper over each plate. Finish with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.