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.

Plum Muffins with Cinnamon, Cardamom and Orange Zest

Plum Muffins

Yield: 12 Muffins

½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup dark brown sugar
1/3 cup whole roasted and salted almonds
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon orange zest (zested on a Microplane)
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 whole eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 (medium-sized) ripe plums, quartered, pits discarded

Set an oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a muffin tin with paper muffin cups.

Place the sugars and almond in a food processor with the blade attachment. Run for 1 minute until it begins to clump. Add the flour, zest, baking powder, spices and salt. Pulse a few times to combine. Add the butter. Pulse 5 to 7 times, until it starts to resemble wet sand. Add eggs and vanilla extract. Pulse until the texture turns into a uniform, thick batter.

Fill each muffin tin equally, with 2½ tablespoons of batter. Gently press a quarter plum into each muffin, skin side up or skin side down – both ways are equally delicious!

Transfer to the oven and bake for 25 minutes. Test readiness by poking a toothpick or knife in the middle of a muffin; if it comes out clean, it’s ready.

Remove from oven. Place tin on a cookie rack and let the muffins cool in the tin for 15 minutes before removing the muffins from the tin.

Spicy Smashed Cucumber Salad

Spicy Smashed Cuc salad

For those of you who like spice – this recipe is for you! The play of the heat from the red pepper flakes and numbing effect of Sichuan peppercorns (commonly used in Sichuan cuisine) makes this dish have an addictive quality. That, plus it’s easy to whip up AND when you have a glut of summer cucumbers on hand, it’s nice to try something new!

Yield: 2 to 4 servings

Smashed Cucumbers:
1 pound small cucumbers, Persian or Japanese, ends trimmed and halved lengthwise, seeds scooped out
1 tablespoon natural (unseasoned) rice wine vinegar
¾ teaspoon dark brown sugar
¾ teaspoon toasted sesame oil
¼ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
2 tablespoons roughly chopped dry roasted peanuts
1 scallion, ends trimmed, sliced thinly (white and light green part), optional

Place cucumbers flesh side down on a cutting board. Gently smash with the side of a large knife. Tear into bite sized pieces.

Place vinegar, sugar, oil and salt in a medium bowl. Stir to dissolve sugar and salt. Add cucumbers, peanuts and scallion (if using) and stir to combine.
Spiced Oil:
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
1/8 teaspoon crushed red chili pepper (chili flakes)
2 teaspoons minced garlic
½ teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns

Place all ingredients in a small saucepan. Turn heat to medium low. Let cook, stirring occasionally, until garlic turns light brown, approximately 3 minutes. Remove from heat.

Pour spicy oil over cucumbers. Fold to combine. Adjust seasoning with salt and serve.

Sweet Cherry Shrub with Fresh Mint (Bevvy)

Sweet Cherry Shrub with Mint

Yield: approximately 2½ cups shrub concentrate

 

1 pound organic sweet cherries, pitted

2/3 cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons lemon zest (zested with a microplane)

¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

30 medium mint leaves, plus more for garnish

6 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

 

Add all ingredients to a blender. Blend on medium-low for 1 minute.

Place a fine mesh strainer over a large bowl and strain the mixture, pressing on the solids with a spatula to extract as much liquid as possible.

Transfer shrub mix into a bottle or jar, close to seal, and store in the refrigerator until ready to enjoy.

Serve one part shrub mixture for every four parts sparkling water (or to taste). When serving, add water and ice (if using) first (to a glass). Then slowly stir in the shrub. This helps to reduce any foaminess.

Add a shot of gin or mezcal for a delicious adult beverage.

Garnish with fresh mint.

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.