Falling into Fall with Pumpkin

I love squash, name one and I’ve probably eaten it or at least heard of it. I try incorporating squash into just about everything. It’s a truly versatile food and it can be used in so many ways. With October just a few days away I thought I should post something using pumpkin. Most people either love or hate scones. These pumpkin scones drizzled with maple icing are usually a hit even with scone haters. The scones I make are tender and huge. I can’t stand those dry little disks of cardboard. Give me some flavor; especially if I’m going to be consuming that many calories, it should really be worth it! Just remember when you are making scones, don’t overwork the dough or you will get hockey pucks!

These scream Fall!
These scream Fall!

Pumpkin Scones
Ingredients
2 cups flour
7 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp ginger
6 tbsp cold butter
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
3 tbsp half and half
1 large egg

Maple Glaze
2 tbsp butter, melted
1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 tsp maple extract (opt)

Directions
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Lightly oil baking pan or line with parchment.
Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and spices in a large bowl. Mix gently. Using a pastry knife or fork, cut butter into dry ingredients until mixture is crumbly and no large chunks of butter are obvious. Set aside.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, half and half, and egg. Fold wet ingredients into dry. Form the dough into a ball and knead just a few times.
Pat out dough into a 1 inch thick circle or triangle and cut into desired shapes. A scone pan can also be used. Place scones onto prepared baking sheet.
Bake for 14 -15 minutes. Scones should be light brown/golden. Place onto wire racks to cool. Remove from scone pan when almost cool. Top with maple glaze when completely cooled.

Maple Glaze Directions
Combine all ingredients in a measuring cup, whisking well. Pour or pipe glaze over cooled scones.

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Falling Slowly Into Fall with Butternut Squash Soup

I’ve posted this soup in the past but I didn’t include the recipe. This time the recipe is below but first let me talk about soups. Soups are the best thing for a chilly fall day or a rainy dreary day. Add a crusty slice of Irish Soda Bread and you have a meal. We may not get many of those perfect fall days here in Okinawa and you may have to wait until mid-December to finally get a day like that but honestly this soup is so good that I make it just about anytime of the year. The best part is, the soup is creamy and comforting but doesn’t have all that heavy cream like so many thicker soups have. So whether you make my soup or cook up your favorite, enjoy the fall days, slowly.

Creamy and comforting.
Creamy and comforting.

Butternut Squash Soup

Ingredients
1/2 onion, diced
3 – 4 garlic cloves, crushed
4 cups water
2 bouillon cubes (veggie or chicken)
2 -3 tsp cumin
1 tbsp curry powder
1 large butternut squash (or any type), cooked
3 mini potatoes, peeled and quartered
Salt/pepper, to taste
*herbal soup, replace cumin and curry with sage and parsley

Directions
Sauté onion and garlic until tender and fragrant. Add water, bouillon, cumin and curry powder (or herbs). Simmer for several minutes.
Mash the cooked squash and then add to pot. Add the potatoes, salt, pepper, and simmer for 15 -20 minutes or until potatoes are soft. Remove from heat and let cool.
Puree soup with an immersion blender. Serve warm with a garnish of fresh parsley or your favorite herbs.

*I prefer butternut squash when making this soup but your favorite or local squash will be just as wonderful.

Falling Slowly Into Fall

So, are you feeling fallish yet? Kind of hard living in on a sub-topical island. Although I would love to toss a ton of Autumn feeling dishes but since it is almost 90 degrees here and for most people doesn’t feel like fall, I think we need to move into it slowly. So every week until the last week of October I will debut a fall/Autumn sweet or savory dish. Please feel free to comment on your own favorites. I will post recipes for some of the dishes. So let’s get ready for FALL…slowly.
Week 1 is: Japanese caramel apple tart and almond tart

Slightly sweet with a whole lot of fall added in
Slightly sweet with a whole lot of fall added in

Dressings and Sauces For All

I posted a photo of five dressings on Facebook I made that will be featured in my cookbook. They all have their own unique flavor, easy to make, and please everyone’s palate. My favorite is the Balsamic Tomato. It has just a bit of tartness but the bit of brown sugar smooths it. My next favorite is the Sesame Dressing. Living in Japan, it is an extremely popular dressing and most Americans enjoy it and use it for more than just salad. I also made a Olive Oil and Lemon, Balsamic Mustard and Spring Strawberry dressing. All of them are very good. I’ve included the same photo but you will also find a recipe for the Sesame dressing.
I also made three sauces: Pineapple Rum, Raspberry Puree, and Cranberry Chutney. Use these on top of cakes, cheesecakes, ice cream, meats, fish, etc. They are all awesome and once again very easy to make. I eat the Pineapple Rum and Cranberry Chutney just by themselves.

So dress up your food and get saucy! Enjoy the photos and enjoy the recipe.

Choose one or all to compliment your salad
Choose one or all to compliment your salad

Slice your cake, cheesecake or whatever you choose and pour over your favorite sauce!

Sauce Trio
Sauce Trio

Sesame (GOMA) Dressing

3 tbsp white sesame seeds
2 tbsp Japanese mayonnaise
2 tbsp rice vinegar (reduce the amount if you prefer the dressing less sour)
1 1/2 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp mirin
1/2 tsp sesame oil
pinch of salt

Toast the sesame seeds in dry sauté pan on low heat until a few of the seeds begin to pop. Remove from heat immediately and then grind them with a mortar and pestle or automatic grinder.

In a small bowl, add the sesame seeds and all other ingredients. Mix well; adjust ingredients to your liking until desired taste has been reached.

Chill well and serve over a salad or use as a dip.

Makes: approximately 1/4 cup

That’s Greek?!?!?

No, I’m not Greek but believe it or not the rather small town I grew up in had a tiny Greek Synagogue and every year they put on a huge Greek Festival. Of course the most memorable event was the food! I’m sure most of you are familiar with Baklava; crispy layers of phyllo, drenched with honey and filled with nuts, cinnamon, cardamom, etc. Those tiny bite size triangles were and still are heavenly. But did you know there is more to Greek food than Baklava? One of the most popular sweets that the line snaked beyond the eye could see was what we non-Greeks called “honey puffs”. Until last year, I longed for them and then while doing a search for Greek food, I found a TV show in Australia showing how to make “honey puffs”. Greeks know them as Loukoumades and they are luscious bites of gold. These airy deep fried bites of dough are drenched in honey, walnuts and sprinkled with cinnamon. I’ll be honest, the first time I made them my official taste tester #1 and I ate the entire batch!
Of course there are tons of savory Greek foods as well. I’ve included photos of Spanakopita, which is layers of phyllo with a filling of spinach, feta and a few other seasonings. I also have a photo of Soutzoukakia. Basically these are meat on a stick but the ingredients will surprise you. There is a bit of twist but everyone who has eaten them as truly enjoyed them. Also, don’t forget the dipping sauce. You will regret it if you do.
I’ve included the recipe for the Soutzoukakia. Enjoy!

Please share with me your favorite Greek dishses.

Enjoy the photos of the Baklava, Loukoumades, Spanakopita, and the Soutzoukakia.

Triangles of heaven!
Triangles of heaven!

Nuggets of Gold!
Nuggets of Gold!

Crispy layers of phyllo filled with spinach
Crispy layers of phyllo filled with spinach

Grills in minutes and kid friendly
Grills in minutes and kid friendly

Soutzoukakia Recipe
Ingredients
1 1/2 lbs ground beef 1/2 tsp coriander
1 onion, chopped 1 pinch nutmeg
3/8 cup raisins, chopped 1/2 tsp white sugar
1 1/2 tsp chopped flat leaf parsley salt and pepper to taste
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper skewers
1/2 tsp cinnamon 1 tbsp vegetable oil

Directions
If using a grill; preheat; otherwise prep skillet or electric fry pan.

In a large bowl, mix together ground beef, onion, raisins, and parsley. Add in the cayenne, cinnamon, coriander, nutmeg, sugar, salt and pepper, and mix well. Form into 6 flat sausages, wrapping around skewers. Lightly brush sausages with oil; this will prevent sticking if using a grill.

Arrange skewers on the grill or skillet. Cook approximately 15 minutes, turning occasionally to brown evenly. Remove from heat; serve on small plates with dipping sauce.

Herb sauce:
3/4cp mayonnaise (part yogurt) 2 tbsp thyme
½ lemon, juiced 2 tbsp parsley
Few drops of hot sauce 2 tbsp chives, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed

Place all ingredients in a processor and pulse to combine. I use half mayonnaise and half yogurt. The sauce is a bit tangier and cuts out some fat. Serve each person a small dish of sauce.