October is my favorite month–the leaves! Halloween! Autumn produce! Unfortunately, it’s also a high-travel month for both me and my partner, and we often have work trips back-to-back and independently of each other, which means I am behind on updating and cooking projects (and rewatching Hannibal, garden pruning, and so on).
Here’s a pizza we made back in September when we were getting figs at the store–which have now been replaced with Oregon cranberries.
This recipe is based on one of my favorite combinations of late-summer/early-fall produce: figs, basil, and arugula with goat cheese, prosciutto, and balsamic reduction.* Balsamic reduction is fancy as heck and requires very little effort and no other ingredients but balsamic vinegar and heat.
Cream scones are simple to mix, and these are tender and a little flakey. Unless your pears are very dry, you’ll cook these longer than my other cream scones to account for the fresh roasted pears. Serve with apple butter, pear compote, or whipped cream.
Fava beans, or broad beans, are in season again. I used to make this dish in Kanazawa when the fava beans (soramame, 空豆) came to market.
Buying enough fresh fava beans in the pod to make a dish can be a challenge if you don’t have a baseline for measurements–and that’s assuming that all the beans are fully formed! A pound of pods ought to yield about 1 US cup, 10 oz., 280 g. The original recipe calls for canned beans, if that’s easier to measure. I also tend to serve this with one egg person for protein.
Oh, and I suppose you could serve this with a nice Chianti, but only if you pronounce it correctly.
This “cake” occupies a nebulous area somewhere between dessert and cornbread. Almond meal, whole-wheat pastry flour, and cornmeal add a toothsome bite to the soft, sweet pears. I brought this to a potluck as dessert, but I liked it even better when I served it for brunch alongside a frittata and baked oatmeal.
My favorite weekends now include what I call Hannibrunch, which is my old Saturday-Morning-Fannibal routine kicked up a notch into Brunch with Friends. Not only do I get to relive the psychological thrills of season 2, I get to bake breakfast foods for a group instead of just for myself.
For our last session, I got a request for scones, so used pumpkin puree I had leftover from making pumpkin chili. I’ve made the chocolate-chip version of this recipe before, but I liked the second batch I made with crystallized ginger even better. The orange really makes the ginger pop without overpowering the pumpkin, and the scones are tender on the inside. They’re best fresh out of the oven –no need for jam, although clotted cream might be nice.
These last weeks have not been good for breakfast. Life has been rather rough, and it’s brought on a depression that leaves me weak-armed and unwilling to consume anything but smoothies and soup. But it’s autumn, and we should have nice things to eat. Scones are easy, and sage doesn’t have to be just for stuffing turkeys or making pumpkin turnovers. Try it with dried apricots and apricot jam in these simple cream scones.
It’s only now, right at the end of berry season here in the Pacific Northwest, that I’ve gotten this recipe to where I want it. For some reason, The Joy of Cooking‘s whole-wheat-muffin base recipe only called for 2 tablespoons of butter when the non-whole-wheat recipe calls for 4-8. Trust me, you need that “extra” butter.
Japan notes: Muffins are lovely to make in a moven/oven range. Blueberries tend to be in season in June-July, and culinary lavender can be purchased in Japan, though where you get it may depend on where you live. I found some at Ikeda Herb Center in Nagano and Nunobiki Herb Garden (English, 日本語) in Kobe, and a friend gave me some from Meidi-ya in Kyoto. If you don’t live near a place that grows lavender, you might try a gourmet grocery or import store, or online. Lavender meant for cooking may be referred to as dried lavender (kansô rabendâ, 乾燥ラベンダー ) or culinary lavender (ryôriyô no rabendâ, 料理用のラベンダー ).