I am really excited, okay almost delirious, about fall. Here are just some of the things I love about fall: cozy sweaters, the fact my Starbucks order turns from boring iced coffee to pumpkin lattes, crispy days, burning candles and finally getting back into the kitchen!
I started cooking again a couple of weeks ago. Usually during the summer, I avoid my kitchen because it is too hot. Instead, I turn to gallons of ice cream and seasonal fruits and vegetables for my sustenance.
This fall will be even better since I now have a Le Creuset French Oven. As I pondered over what to make on a crispy day last week, I decided to give some sausage soup a shot AND make the sausage from scratch. My mom used to make this for me a lot as a kid, however, her idea of making sausage was rolling ground hamburger into round balls and adding Quaker oats. It was gross, but bless her for trying. So, I decided to jazz up her recipe a bit and came up with my take on it.
A couple things to remember about making sausage: you will need some fat. In this case, I used pork fat and ground it up with my Kitchenaid meat attachment. Mix about ½ cup of pork fat to 2 cups ground pork and add spices. I use salt, pepper, cinnamon, coriander and cumin. Then bake off, and voila! The soup is really easy to make and is pretty healthy, too.
- 5 cups water
- 3 large white potatoes, (about 2 1/2 pounds), cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 3 stalks celery, sliced
- 1 small zucchini, sliced
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes, chopped, juice reserved
- 1 15-ounce can kidney beans, undrained
- 3/4 cup sliced olives
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon aniseed
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 2 lbs sausage
- Cook hot and sweet sausages in a Dutch oven over medium heat, breaking them up into small pieces with a wooden spoon, until browned and cooked through, about 6 minutes. Drain fat.
- Stir in water, potatoes, celery, zucchini, onion, tomatoes with their juices, beans, olives, garlic, aniseed and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes.
Now, for dessert. I am inspired, no obsessed is more like it, with all things pumpkin. I love this time of year because it is perfectly acceptable to put pumpkin flavoring in just about anything from coffee to cake! So, I was inspired to try some Pumpkin Pie Panna Cotta. I love this dessert: it is easy, cheap, and so yummy. I was the kind of kid that used to eat the entire 6 pack of Jell-O pudding packs my mom used to get, so my love of custards began as a young child. If you want a new twist on something pumpkin-licous, I encourage you to try this recipe.
Pumpkin Pie Panna Cotta
- 1/4 cup cold water
- 2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
- 3 cups heavy whipping cream
- 1/2 cup sugar, or more to taste
- Pinch of salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated fresh ginger
- 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup (an 8-ounce container) sour cream
- 1 cup pureed pumpkin (could be roasted sweet squash, like Kabocha, or butternut, or canned pumpkin)
1. Put the cold water in a small cup, and sprinkle the gelatin over it. Let it stand 5 minutes. Meanwhile, in a 3-quart saucepan, warm the cream with the sugar, salt, allspice, nutmeg, ginger, and vanilla over medium-high heat. Do not let it boil. Whisk in the gelatin until thoroughly dissolved. Take the cream off the heat and cool about 5 minutes.
2. Put the sour cream and pumpkin puree in a medium bowl. Gently whisk in the warm cream, a little at a time, until it is smooth. Taste the mixture for sweetness; it may need another teaspoon of sugar. Turn the panna cotta into a serving bowl, or 8 2/3-cup ramekins, custard cups, or coffee cups. Fill each one about three-quarters full with the cream. Chill 4-8 hours.
Now that the seasons are changing and the sweaters and scarves will soon come out, I encourage you to get in the kitchen and start experimenting. What are some of your favorite fall recipes?