Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting



Or more accurately for my purposes, Cream Cheese Frosting with some Pumpkin Cake. I hate to say this, but even I, professed pumpkin fanatic, am getting some pumpkin fatigue. I am however still interested in the tangy sugar bomb of cream cheese frosting, but as it’s unacceptable to just eat cream cheese frosting out of a bowl for some reason, I thought I’d make some cake to go with it. I saw a photo of this cake in my Instagram feed and it looked just lovely, and professed to be more light and cakey than quickbread-like (although I like those too). I made it for a another October staple, the block party, with friends last this weekend.

The original recipe calls for caramelized pumpkin seeds on top, which I will definitely try at some point, but I had it in my head to top something with chopped pistachios, so that’s what we’ve got.

Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

From Sarah Jampel on Food52, original recipe from Tartine

For the cake

  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (9 ounces) pumpkin purée
  • 1 cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Heat oven to 325° and prepare a 9 inch round cake pan.

Whisk together pumpkin, oil, sugar, and salt. Whisk in egg yolks. In another bowl, Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. With a spatula, stir into wet ingredients until just combined.

In another bowl, whisk egg whites until they are white and frothy, and fold into the batter. Pour into the pan and bake 40-45 minutes. Cool and invert onto a plate.

For the frosting/garnish

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temp
  • 8 tbsp butter, room temp
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • 2 – 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cups or so chopped pistachios

Beat together cream cheese, butter and cinnamon, then add sugar a little at a time, beating until combined. (I used 2 cups).

Spread over cake (you may have some leftover) and sprinkled with pistachios.

Dulce de Leche Apple Muffins



A couple weeks ago, my friends made caramel apples (salted caramel apples to be exact). Melty caramels + tart Granny Smiths = me almost losing a bracket but it was worth it! #bracelife

Ever since I’ve been dreaming of them, so these are caramel apples in muffin form. I used the apple muffin recipe for King Arthur Flour with a dollop of dulce de leche in the middle – and another one on top. I put a little sprinkle of sea salt too just for good measure.

Side note, if you are wont to Google things like “dulce de leche vs. caramel,” these is a nice succinct (and yet questionable? Carmel?) answer by “therealchiffonade” on this Serious Eats thread:

Dulce De Leche = milk + sugar cooked till lightly brown.
Caramel = Water + Sugar cooked to a specific stage.
Carmel = Cream + the water and sugar you cooked to reach the caramel stage, above.

So there you go. (Edit: Woah, cajeta is made from goat’s milk!)

Dulce de Leche Apple Muffins

Adapted from King Arthur Flour

For the dulce de leche

  • 1 14oz can sweetened condensed milk

I used to make this in the oven, but now use the ingenious method of cooking this in your crockpot for 8-10 hours – which doesn’t seem like it should work but it does. (I know this is not news to anyone, but I am still fascinated). I did it on high for an hour, then on low 8 hours or so overnight, then 1 more hour on high in the morning.

For the muffins

  • 8 tbsp (1 stick) butter, room temp
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and smallish diced

Heat oven to 375° and prepare a muffin tin. I used liners because I had some cute one but usually would just do this in the pan.

Beat butter, sugar and brown sugar until fluffy. Mix in egg, then gently mix in yogurt.

Whisk together whole wheat flour, all purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon, then stir into the wet ingredients until just combined. Fold in apples.

Spoon into the muffin cups until half full, then spoon about a tablespoon of dulce de leche into each one, then spoon more batter until they are full. Bake 25 minutes, then add a spoon of dulce de leche on top of each one then bake two minutes more. Finish with a sprinkle of sea salt. Cool for 5 minutes in the pan, then remove to a rack to cool the rest of the way.

Roasted Grape and Sweet Potato Salad


After the Renaissance Festival (shamelessly love it, go every year), my friend Gloria invited us back to her house for pumpking carving, also our yearly tradition, and fed us a delicious dinner including a salad with roasted grapes. I was fascinated by these grapes, as I often am with food I’ve eaten since childhood treated a different way, and wanted to try them myself (I roast everything else in the world, might as well try this). So here’s my version of Gloria’s yummy salad, which has a decidedly fall feel.

Roasted Grape and Sweet Potato Salad

For the vinaigrette
The “Original” red wine vinaigrette:

  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 tsp dry English mustard
  • 1 small clove garlic, grated
  • 1 cup olive oil

Shake everything together in a Mason jar.

For the salad

  • 1 lb grapes
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed
  • 3 slices dark pumpernickel bread, cubed
  • olive oil
  • sea salt & pepper
  • 10 oz or so baby spinach
  • 5 oz queso fresco, crumbled
  • 1 shallot, sliced, and soaked in red wine vinegar, pinch of sugar and salt for 30 minutes
  • couple handful pumpkin seeds

Heat oven to 400°. On three separate baking dishes, toss grapes, sweet potatoes, and pumpernickel cubes with a little olive oil, then sprinkle with salt and pepper, then spread in a single layer. Roast, turning occasionally. Bread croutons will only take 10 minutes or so until crispy, grapes and sweet potatoes will take 25-35 minutes. Remove and cool.

Toss together spinach, grapes, sweet potato, and pumpernickel croutons with just enough vinaigrette to coat, then sprinkle with cheese, pickled shallot and pumpkin seeds. Serve with optional extra vinaigrette on the side.

I’m trying to put some pictures of my stinky cute kids at the Ren Fest but will figure that out later…

Acorn Squash and Burrata Toasts



When looking for Halloween appetizers that were not revolting, I came across these Italian recipes (although I was not prepared for the zombie I scrolled down to, that was a little revolting – made me jump!).

I made my version of the pumpkin and mozzarella bruschetta using burrata instead (which I guess is a little trendy right now but I just tried it and turns out it’s awesome, I also used it for my Vampire Slayer Pizza) and adding a dollop of harissa which adds a pretty pop of color as well as a little spice! They are simple and elegant and so easy to make that I’ll probably make it again when we have people over on Halloween.

Acorn Squash and Burrata Toasts

  • One acorn squash, halved and seeded
  • Olive oil
  • Sea salt & pepper
  • One whole wheat half baguette
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 4-6 oz burrata, sliced
  • few tablespoons harissa
  • Sliced green onions for garnish

Heat oven to 400°. Coat squash with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and roast until very fork tender but not falling apart (20-30 minutes or so? I timed about as well as I measured). Cool squash enough to handle, then slice and scoop out (they will be mushy slices but still keep a little shape).

Heat broiler. Slice baguette and place on a baking sheet. Rub with garlic and brush with olive oil. Broil until toasty. Put a slice of burrata and a slice of squash on top of each one, then return under broiler for just a minute or two until the cheese just starts to melt.

Remove, put a dollop of harissa on each one, and a sprinkle of salt, pepper, and green onions. Serve warmish but would be find room temp.

Maple Aleppo Corn on the Cob



We grill corn a lot in the summer, usually Pakistani style (plain, charred, then rubbed with lime and red chili), but I was looking for another way to fix the last corn of the season. I had seen a bunch of recipes for maple chipotle corn on the cob – which sounds awesome, I love chipotles in adobo – but I’ve had these aleppo pepper flakes sitting around and I’ve been looking for new ways to use them. This turned out fantastic, spicy salty sweet, even though I had to cut mine off the cob. Brace life.

Maple Aleppo Corn on the Cob

Adapted from Epicurious

  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated
  • 1 tbsp aleppo pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 ears corn, husked

In a small saucepan, simmer (low) maple syrup, butter, garlic and aleppo pepper until it makes a thick glaze (be careful not to burn, mine got a little too done).

Ideally you can grill these, but I roasted these in a 500° oven – lay on a wax-paper lined baking sheet and brush with glaze. Roast for 10 minutes, turn, brush again with glaze and roast 10 minutes more and brush with remaining glaze.

Sugared Grapes



Pan’s Labyrinth is another fantastic movie for this time of year – it’s not particularly Halloweeny, but it’s dark and whimsical and beautiful and surprisingly violent.

I saw it around the time it came out, and remembered liking it but not a lot of the details; I watched it again last weekend, and was not prepared for how much more it would affect me this time. I saw so much of my daughter in the main character, Ofelia (I read Guillermo del Toro’s wife cried when they screened the actress) – the way she’s lost in her fantasy world, how her eyes light up when she sees the fairy, how she fiercely protects her baby brother, how she doesn’t care if her dress gets dirty.

Sigh. I love it. Anyway, food stuff. One of the most memorable scenes is when Ofelia is sent to retrieve a dagger, and sees an opulent feast spread before the creepy Pale Man. These sugared grapes seem like they could have been sparkling there on the table.

Ofelia is warned not to eat a bite. But Ofelia (like my Zoeya) does what she wants.

Sugared Grapes

Adapted just slightly from Movies You Can Eat

  • 1 egg white
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 lb grapes (left in a bunch)

Dip grapes in egg white to coat. Shake off excess white and roll in sugar, sprinkling on top where it’s hard to roll it. Shake off excess sugar and put on wax paper for two hours to harden. Doesn’t save well so serve that day.

Midnight Margaritas


Eye of newt, toe of frog, wing of bat, tongue of dog,
Adder’s fork and blind worm’s sting,
Barbados lime is just the thing,
Fragias salt, like a sailors stubble,
Flip the switch, and let the cauldron bubble!

One of the best witchy movies to watch this time of year, I think we can all agree, is Practical Magic. It’s funny, it’s sweet, it’s WAY scarier than I had remembered (we tried to watch it for Friday movie night last week and had to turn it off half way and watch Jake and the Neverland Pirates instead – oops).

My favorite characters are the aunts; that’s exactly how I want to be when I get old – batty, beshawled, and meddlin’ – and hopefully I can inherit an awesome house like that to do it in.

Of course these ladies are mixing up margaritas at midnight, that’s what old bats do! This is really less a recipe (it’s your basic 3-2-1 margarita) and more of an excuse to drink margaritas and watch this adorable scene again.

Midnight Margaritas

  • 3 parts tequila (that someone left on the porch)
  • 2 parts good triple sec
  • 1 part lime juice

Mix and serve over ice – salted rim optional but recommended! If you want a frozen version, let the caldron (that’s your blender) bubble!

Vampire Slayer Pizza



Everyone knows vampires hate garlic, but there’s also this other little piece of mythology that I feel like I’ve heard a couple of times and keep forgetting, which is that if you scatter seeds in front of a vampire’s grave he will be compelled to count them before returning. The Sesame Street Count is based on this myth – ah, ah, ah!

For this reason, I made a super garlicky white pizza, but I also threw nigella seeds in the dough (if the garlic doesn’t keep vampires away from my pizza, they’ll at least have to count for awhile before they get a slice).

Great for date night (um, if your typical date night is making food and watching movies on the couch after the kids go to bed – woo!), just make sure you both eat some!!

Vampire Slayer Pizza

For the dough
Slightly adapted from Vegan with a Vengeance

  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 packet (.32 oz) rapid rise yeast
  • 1 1/2 tbsp sugar
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder (NOT garlic salt)
  • 1 tbsp nigella seeds (optional)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

In a small bowl, combine the water, yeast, and sugar. Wait for ten minutes until is foamy (if it’s not foamy, yeast dead, use new yeast).

Meanwhile, combine 2 cups of the flour, salt, garlic powder, nigella seeds and olive oil. Add the water and mix until it forms a very sticky dough – dump out onto a well-floured board (or well-floured counter in my case) and knead, adding flour little by little until it comes together, and afterwards a sprinkle here and there if it gets too sticky to handle. Add just enough to keep from going crazy, otherwise the dough will be heavy and dense. Knead for 10 minutes, then roll into a ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with a tea towel and leave it somewhere like the microwave for an hour.

For the pizza

  • 2 heads garlic, outer paper removed and the top 1/4 inch cut off
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • 8 oz burrata (2 4 oz balls) or 4 oz each mozzarella and ricotta
  • parsley and red pepper flakes for garnish

While dough is rising, heat oven to 375° Drizzle each head of garlic with about a teaspoon of olive oil, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Wrap in foil and roast for 45 minutes to an hour, until very soft and golden.

At this point, retrieve the dough and knead again for a couple minutes and spread onto prepared baking sheet(s) or stone(s) – you can use one large square baking sheet or two smaller circle ones. Let sit 10 minutes or so while you prepare the rest.

Heat oven to 500°

Squeeze garlic cloves from their paper, leaving some mashed and some still with some shape. Strew around the dough. Tear burrata into small pieces (or tear mozzarella and use spoonfuls of ricotta) and strew evenly around dough.

Bake for 12-15 minutes (mine usually takes around 13) until crust is golden and cheese is bubbly. Let cool and serve, sprinkled with parsley and red pepper flakes.

Season of the Witch Vol 3


Taking a quick break from recipes this month to deliver my Halloween mix tape! (And I refuse to rename it – why should I rename it, he’s the one that sucks!) It’s been a couple of years since I’ve made one, so already I’m excited, and whereas the other ones are less literal, mostly just songs that feel like the season, this one is like an audio monster movie. It’s creepy, it’s campy, I love it!

Perfect to play while you’re cooking, decorating, costume making, pumpkin carving, apple bobbing, monster mashing, tractor riding, driving at night, moon howling, graveyard dirt collecting, scrying, flying, or summoning. Happy Halloween!

Season of the Witch Vol 3

Listen on tape.ly

  1. Superstition The Kills
  2. Pinky’s Dream David Lynch feat. Karen O
  3. Hell’s Bells Cary Ann Hearst
  4. Burn the Witch Queens of the Stone Age
  5. A Wolf at the Door (It Girl) Radiohead
  6. Lullaby The Cure
  7. Loba Shakira
  8. Ghosts n Stuff Deadmau5 feat. Rob Swire
  9. Paradise Circus Massive Attack
  10. Night Boat Deftones
  11. Strange Love Depeche Mode
  12. Pretty Girls Make Graves The Smiths
  13. The Ghost Who Walks Karen Elson
  14. The Lords of Salem Rob Zombie
  15. Don’t Fear the Reaper Pierce the Veil
  16. This is Halloween Marilyn Manson

Season of the Witch Vol 1
Season of the Witch Vol 2

Pomegranate Brussel Sprouts



First, a word on the humble brussel sprout. People used to give them such a hard time. As a child, even though I had never even eaten one, I osmosed the attitude that they were gross and to be avoided. But even the first time I had them (defrosted and steamed), they weren’t nearly as bad as people claimed.

Nowadays I feel like they are universally more appreciated. When shredded they make a substantial salad that won’t immediately wilt when dressed, and when roasted (as they are here) they take on a pleasant nutty flavor. Plus they are so cute! When I made them a few months ago, my mother-in-law called them bund gobi ke bacche – baby cabbages! Adorable!

Of course, as nice as brussel sprouts are, let’s be honest, what takes this from mundane to magical is the gorgeous, jeweled and otherworldly pomegranate.

Pomegranate Brussel Sprouts

Slightly adapted from The New York Times

  • 1 lb brussel sprouts, washed, trimmed and halved
  • 2 tbsp olive oi
  • sea salt
  • 1 cup pomegranate juice
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp pomegranate seeds

Toss the brussel sprouts with olive oil and sea salt, and roast at 425° for 30-35 minutes, turning once or twice, until lightly browned and crispy.

Meanwhile, in a small sauce pan over medium head, combine pomegranate juice and sugar, and reduce to a medium-thick syrup.

When brussel sprouts are done, serve drizzled with several tbsp’s of the pomegranate reduction (save the rest for salad dressings), and sprinkled with pomegranate seeds.

Happy Belated Thanksgiving, Canada! I should have posted this yesterday. Oh well, still plenty of time for American Thanksgiving, for which this would also be perfect!