Creamy Chanterelle Soup

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'Tis the season for wild mushrooms, and I will happily shell out $10/lb for Chanterelles at the PSU Farmer's Market while they are in such abundance. When trying to decide what I wanted to do with Saturday's chanterelle stockpile so I could buy more at the Wednesday market, I searched the internets for ideas thinking, “I should do something other than a soup. Evvvvvveryone makes a soup out of chanterelles.” However, when I clicked on a link for (surprise!) chanterelle soup, the blogger concluded this soup was no less than sex-in-a-bowl, in fact, orgasmic. I quickly retorted to the blogger (who I’m sure heard me talking out loud to myself in my kitchen, right?) “Well, guess I might as well take it however I can get it, even in soup form, since I doubt I’ll be having that for a while.” -See previous post about divorce.- After I made myself laugh and figured my mother would be properly scandalized at calling anything sex-in-a-bowl, I decided I was going to make not-just-any-old-chanterelle-soup, but sex-in-a-bowl-soup.  I followed the instructions for making the veloute but skipped the step for creating an egg yolk liaison because I thought it was plenty creamy enough once I sent it through the blender, even before I added some actual cream.  Did it live up to it’s name? Or would it have lived up to it’s name if I’d only thrown in the 3 egg yolks alongside the cream? Well, honestly, I think pureed mushrooms are still a poor substitute for the real thing, but as far as soups go, it was quite smooth and delicious. I certainly recommend eating it, just don’t get your hopes up that high.

Also, since there’s only so many ways one can photograph a bowl of cream soup, the kitty thought it needed more whiskers and fur to liven it up a bit.

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  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 pound fresh chanterelles, quickly rinsed but not submerged in cold running water, then wipe off any pine needles or other debris with a paper towel, plus extra handful of cleaned chanterelles to thinly slice and saute and serve on top as a garnish
  • 2 medium-sized shallots
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 1/2 cup Madeira (or Brandy, though you probably would use less. I used Madeira because it’s what I had available, and I also didn’t exactly measure the amount…mwhahahaha)
  • 1/4 teaspoon saffron
  • sprinkle of chopped fresh parsley
  • Salt to taste

In a medium-sized pot, heat the butter until melted and whisk in the flour. Keep whisking for a few minutes but do not brown. This step of equal parts flour and butter used to thicken sauces or soups is called a roux. You cook the flour so it won’t have a raw-flour taste, but combining it with the butter also makes it easier to incorporate a liquid without ending up with a sad, lumpy sauce or soup.

Whisk the broth sloooowlllllly into the roux. Start off with just a little bit, whisk whisk whisk, then keep adding the broth a little at a time until it starts to look more like a liquid and less like flour and butter. Then you can add the rest of the broth a lot faster now. Let this simmer over medium-low heat for 20 minutes, stirring often. You want it to slowly cook down by at least 1/3 and be silky looking. Congratulations, you made veloute, one of the French Mother Sauces! (Thank you, thank you, Cooking 2: Sauces, Soups and Stocks class at Midwest Culinary Institute).

While the veloute is simmering, dice the mushrooms and shallots. You don’t need to be too picky about the size of the mushrooms and shallots, as you will puree the soup later. In a large-sized pot, heat the remaining 2 Tbsp of butter. Add the mushrooms and shallots and cook, stirring often, on medium heat until the shallots are translucent and the mushrooms have released all their liquid and it has evaporated.

Crumble the saffron into the Madeira and add it to the mushroom mixture. Turn the heat up to medium-high and cook until the Madeira has mostly evaporated.

Pour in the hot, thickened stock (the veloute) and let the soup simmer for 10-15 minutes, until the mushrooms are tender. At this step, I then refrigerated the soup overnight and pureed it the next morning while it was cold, though it’s okay to puree it while hot, just be very careful to not splash hot soup on yourself, and hold onto the lid for dear life (remove the little center doodad and cover the hole with a kitchen towel as a precaution against exploding hot soup), or puree the soup with an immersion blender, though I found it to not be as smooth as using a regular blender.

Pour the mushroom puree back into the soup pot, and add the cream (you could probably use whole milk to save a few creamy calories, though I decided not to….)

If you want a mushroom garnish, which I highly recommend for the textural contrast, thinly slice a few chanterelles lengthwise and saute them over medium-high heat with a little extra butter until they are lightly browned and tender. Sprinkle the sauteed mushrooms and the fresh chopped parsley on top of each bowl of soup.

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

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Living in Portland in the winter, chances are fairly high every day that it is going to be gray, rainy, gray, cold, gray, and did I mention gray? We had about a week of glorious sunshine, albeit with temperatures hovering around 30, but we’re back to the rain and gloom. Rain and gloom produces a deep longing for a piping hot bowl of soup, and since chances are fairly high you may also be suffering from a cold or ÜBERFLU this time of year, what better way to comfort yourself than by making a pot of homemade chicken noodle soup?

You can go all sorts of fancy with this and make your own stock and your own egg noodles like I did, or for a quicker version, use store-bought chicken broth and noodles.  I just happened to have 2 chicken backbones in the freezer asking to be made into stock, and a bag full of dried homemade egg noodles (leftover from making pappardelle with beef short rib ragu last week) sitting on the counter, but I’ve made the quicker version many times and it’s still tasty.

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For a ‘cheater’ quick chicken stock:

1 Tbsp olive oil

chicken backbones or other pieces

1 large, unpeeled carrot, roughly chopped

1 large onion, roughly chopped

2 stalks celery, roughly chopped

1 tsp whole peppercorns

1 tsp dried thyme, or several fresh sprigs thyme if you have it

several sprigs fresh parsley

2 bay leaves

Heat 1 Tablespoon olive oil over medium heat in a large pot.  Add an assortment of chopped bone-in chicken pieces or as I did, 2 backbones previously cut from a whole chicken carcass and frozen.  Cook over medium heat until deeply browned, then flip and brown on the other side as well. Add in roughly chopped large onion, roughly chopped  carrot, and 2 roughly chopped stalks of celery (these vegetables will be strained out after the stock is finished, so there’s no need to peel or chop them finely) and cook until they start to turn brown around the edges. Add in 1 quart (4 cups) water and the peppercorns, thyme, parsley, and bay leaves (I put the herbs/peppercorns inside a little disposable spice bag so they would be easy to remove from the stock). Be sure to scrape any browned tasty bits off the bottom of the pot (brown bits= tasty, rich flavor).  Bring the water to a boil and then turn down the heat to medium-low and let the stock simmer for about 45-60 minutes, or until the stock is a nice golden brown and the chicken-y aroma is making your mouth water.  Strain the stock to remove all of the vegetables, herbs, and the chicken.  If there are little bits of chicken on the backbones, make sure to get those off (use a fork if it’s too hot to touch) and add to your soup. This should make about a quart of chicken stock, which isn’t a ton, but to make a good bit of stock you would want to simmer it for at least 4 hours and I was doing a short-cut version where I combined it with some store-bought chicken broth.

To finish your soup:

2 small-medium onions, small dice

2 medium peeled carrots, small dice

3 medium stalks of celery, small dice

3-6 cloves garlic (I used 6 because they shoot a lot of vampire shows in Portland so you never know who’s going to show up here…)

4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (they have a lot more flavor and will not dry out like chicken breasts do if overcooked), chopped into bite-sized pieces

1 quart homemade chicken stock + 1 quart store-bought chicken stock (or all store-bought), fat skimmed off the homemade stock as much as possible

8 oz dried egg noodles, homemade or storebought

freshly ground black pepper to taste

kosher salt to taste (the amount you’ll need depends upon how salty your broth is, so taste the finished soup before adding more salt)

optional lemon juice to squeeze over finished soup

optional chopped cilantro or parsley

(also tasty with a fresh grating of parmigiano reggiano on top of the soup)

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If you’re making your own chicken stock, while it is cooking, heat another 1 Tbsp of olive oil over medium heat in a second saucepan or skillet. Add the chopped boneless, skinless chicken thighs and sauté until golden brown. Add in the diced onion, celery, and carrots and sauté until they start to soften, about 5 minutes. Add in garlic and sauté for another minute or two. Pour in the 2 quarts of stock plus 1 quart of water and bring to a boil. Add in the 8 oz of egg noodles and cook according to package directions (or for homemade, mine took about 4-5 minutes) until al dente.  Serve with a sprinkle of fresh chopped cilantro or parsley and/or a squeeze of lemon juice and grating of parmigiano reggiano.

Shepherd's Pie by way of the Middle East

If you asked me if I have a favorite cookbook, I wouldn’t be able to choose just one. The New Book of Middle Eastern Food by Claudia Roden is in my top 10 though! If you’re tired of eating Thanksgiving leftovers by now, but can’t bring yourself to waste that large bowl of leftover mashed potatoes, try Roden’s recipe for

Meat Pie with Mashed Potatoes

. The meat is cooked with cinnamon and allspice and pine nuts, so it was enough of a change from turkey and stuffing that I was quite happy to eat it for dinner today.

The original recipe includes instructions for making mashed potatoes, but I left that out since I had about a pound of leftover mashed potatoes to use up, and instead of cooking in a 10x14 pan (does anybody even have that size?!), I made this a one-pan meal in my trusty oven-safe stainless steel pan. Word of caution: Maybe I’m just scatterbrained, but on more than one occasion I have grabbed onto the very hot handle, so now I place an oven mitt on the handle immediately after I remove the pan from the oven. All of my fingers are rather appreciative of this new precaution.

Serves 4-6

1-2 lbs leftover mashed potatoes, depending on how thick you want your mashed potato layer

2 medium onions, small dice (I used 1 1/2 because my onions were bigger

2 cloves of garlic, minced

2 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil

2 lbs ground lamb or beef

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

3/4 tsp allspice

1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted in a dry skillet until golden brown

1 teaspoon kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

3 tablespoons raisins (optional; I left them out because I wasn’t sure about raisins+potatoes, but then sprinkled a few dried currants on my plate and I liked the little sweetness they added.)

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Heat a 12-inch deep sauté pan over medium heat. Add the vegetable oil and sauté the onions and garlic until softened and starting to brown, about 5-10 minutes. Add the ground meat, cinnamon, allspice, salt and pepper and break up the meat into small pieces with a wooden spoon. Cook until the meat is no longer pink,about 10 minutes. Drain off most of the fat from the pan, and then evenly spread the mashed potatoes on top.

Bake the meat pie for 30 minutes, or until the top starts to brown. I turned on my broiler after 30 minutes so I could get a nice golden crust, just keep an eye on it so you don’t burn the potatoes!

Pumpkin Cheesecake with Salted Caramel Swirl

This was faaaaaantastic! Pumpkin pie has never really been my favorite dessert, so I thought this year I would try something different and I’m pretty sure nobody missed the pie.  I started with this recipe and then added extra spices and some flour to make sure it wasn’t too soft, and then I pre-baked the crust because it looked awfully wet and in danger of being a soggy mess if I didn’t.  I also thought it would be a shame to top such a beautiful cheesecake with a store-bought caramel sauce, so I made this salted caramel sauce instead.  I won’t show step-by-step photos on the caramel because I didn’t change a thing from her recipe (besides adding a little water to the sugar to dissolve it easier, which only adds a few extra minutes for the water to evaporate) and her pictures are better than mine, and also because it was Thanksgiving Day and I had just a few more things to roast, bake, saute, gravy-ify, etc etc etc instead of taking 87 pictures of caramel.  Make the cheesecake the day before you plan to eat it, and then top with the caramel and cream cheese the day of, and then prepare to make even your guests who are in a food-induced-coma long for a piece.

Crust

1 1/2 cups ground gingersnap cookies (if you have Trader Joe’s nearby, go with the triple ginger ones)

1 1/2 cups toasted pecans (about 6 ounces)

1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted

Filling

4 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature

1 2/3 cups sugar

1 ½ cups canned solid pack pumpkin (I had 3 roasted pie pumpkins so I made my own puree this time, but it’s totally not necessary)

4 tablespoons whipping cream

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 ½ teaspoons ground allspice

½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

4 large eggs

Topping

Reserved 3/4 cup creamcheese/granulated sugar mixture

4 tablespoons whipping cream

1-4-ish tablespoons salted caramel sauce

For Crust:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Finely grind ground cookies, pecans and brown sugar in processor. Add melted butter and blend until combined. Press crust mixture onto bottom and partially up the sides of a 9-inch springform pan. Bake the crust for 12-14 minutes, until starting to brown, then let cool before filling.

Set a baking pan that is larger than the springform pan and deep enough to hold an inch or so of water inside the preheated oven and bring a kettle of water to a boil. Wrap the outside of the springform pan tightly in aluminum foil- go over it several times until you are sure no water can get through, because you will be sad if you end up with a water-logged cheesecake. 

For Filling:

Beat cream cheese and granulated sugar in the bowl of a standing mixer, until light and fluffy. Reserve 3/4 cup of this mixture in a small bowl to use for topping, and refrigerate until you are ready for some cream-cheese-on-salted-caramel-swirl-action.

To the mixing bowl of remaining cream cheese mixture, add the pumpkin puree, 4 tablespoons whipping cream and ground spices and beat until well combined. Add eggs 1 at a time, and then the all-purpose flour, beating just until combined. 

Pour filling into crust, then set the springform pan inside the larger pan and carefully pour in the kettle of water around the pan, until the water comes up 1/3 of the way. This is called a water bath (bain marie).

Bake the cheesecake until the top is slightly browned and puffy and the center jiggles only slightly when you move the pan, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Carefully lift the cheesecake out of the water bath and remove the aluminum foil and then cool the cheesecake on a wire rack before covering and refrigerating it overnight. If your cheesecake cracked on top, never fear! No one will even know because you’re going to cover it with caramel and cream cheese.  Mine doesn’t look perfect, and according to Josh, I should have only used 1 tablespoon of caramel on top so it was a prettier swirl and then I could have decorated the plates with caramel squiggles before plating the cheesecake, like they do in restaurants, but whatevs. It’s delicious either way. :-P 

The next day before serving, bring remaining 3/4 cup cream cheese mixture to room temperature. Add remaining 4 tablespoons whipping cream to cream cheese mixture and stir to combine. Pour cream cheese mixture over cheesecake, spreading evenly. Spoon caramel sauce in lines over cream cheese mixture. Using tip of knife, swirl caramel sauce into cream cheese mixture. Cover and refrigerate. 

Note: If you do make the salted caramel sauce, you’re going to have a lot leftover, but is that really a terrible problem to have? No….no it’s not. Spoon it on ice cream, spoon it into your mouth, fill macarons or other sandwich cookies with it, stir it into your coffee….you get the point.

Apple Pomegranate Turnovers- part 2

Rather than show you how to seed a pomegranate, POMWonderful has a video that demonstrates it well. Once I heard someone on a cooking show say you could just cut the pomegranate in half and then smack the back of it until the seeds came out. I’m not sure what world they live in, but let’s just say it ended with Dean spanking the pomegranate with the back of a wooden spoon as he cried, “Bad pomegranate, bad pomegranate!” and then I was laughing so hard I nearly cried and then there was a lot of juice splattered everywhere, but not so many seeds. So, definitely go with the bowl of water….

Filling

2 Granny Smith apples, or other favorite tart apple, peeled and diced

½ cup pomegranate seeds

¼ cup granulated sugar

1 Tbsp cornstarch

In a large bowl, mix together apples, pomegranate seeds, sugar, and cornstarch until well combined. Taste for sweetness level; add more sugar if you like.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

On a lightly floured work surface, roll out one piece of the dough to a 16-by-11-inch rectangle (yes, I used a ruler). Trim to 15-by-10 inches. Cut into six 5-inch squares.

Working with one square at a time, place 2 tablespoons of the filling slightly off-center. Brush all of the edges with the egg wash and fold on the diagonal over the filling, pressing to seal completely. I like to trim the edges with the fluted dough cutter so they’re all neat and pretty. Repeat the process with remaining squares.

If at any time the dough starts to get too warm and difficult to work with, stop and pop it in the refrigerator for 20-30 minutes. Then when all 6 of the turnovers are assembled, place them on one of the baking sheets and refrigerate them while you work on the second piece of dough. Brush the turnovers with remaining egg wash and sprinkle with sanding sugar.

Stab a small hole into the top of each turnover to allow steam to escape while baking. It doesn’t hurt to put both of the baking sheets back into the refrigerator for another 30 minutes before you bake them (or you could potentially cover them with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to a day before baking, or you can freeze the unbaked turnovers individually to bake within the next month or two).

Put both baking sheets in the pre-heated oven and bake until crusts are golden brown and delicious, 25 to 30 minutes. I use the convection setting on my oven, but if you don’t have that option, rotate the baking sheets halfway through to ensure even browning. Cool the turnovers slightly on a wire rack and serve warm.

Sausage, Kale and Potato Soup

Did I mention it’s soup weather here in Portland? Not to mention that I am fighting a cold, so that’s like double bonus points for soup.  I picked up a large bunch of curly kale and some hot Italian sausage at the farmer’s market yesterday, which then made me think of the 6 little orphan potatoes kicking around on my countertop, which then made me buy a baguette at the Pearl Bakery stand as I began to formulate a kale, sausage, and potato soup. Again, soup is very versatile, so don’t be afraid to change up ingredients. Sometimes if I don’t have potatoes, I’ll drain and rinse 2 cans of cannellini or northern beans and add them to the kale and sausage. Also tasty.

1 1/4 lbs Italian sausage (I used pork, but turkey is good too), removed from the casings

1 large onion, small dice

3 garlic cloves, minced

6 small potatoes, peeled and sliced into rounds

4 cups chicken broth

1 large bunch of curly kale, leaves stripped from the stalks and torn into bite-size pieces

I included the kale stalks in the picture so you could see what I meant about stripping off all the leaves. I don’t use them in the soup, but if you absolutely must, they will take more time to cook than the leaves so add them with the potatoes.

Heat a 6 quart pot over medium heat. If you use turkey Italian sausage, you might want to add a Tbsp of olive oil, but I didn’t add any because I used pork sausage and it had plenty of it’s own fat.  Add the sausage to the pot and break it up into small pieces. Cook until it starts to brown, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to further break up the meat and brown all the pieces evenly. Add the diced onion and minced garlic and cook for 5-10 minutes, or until the onion is soft.  Add the chicken broth and potatoes and bring the liquid to a boil before turning down to medium-low and simmering until the potatoes start to soften, about 10 minutes.  

Add the kale- it will seem like a ton of greens and you’ll be wondering why I told you to add so much, but greens always cook down so add them all anyways and put the lid on the pot just for a minute or two until the kale has started to wilt down and now you can stir it without pieces of kale flying everywhere.  Cook until the kale is tender, about 7-10 minutes.  I did not add any extra salt to this soup because the sausage and broth were already salty. So taste your soup before you add salt. Serve with a lovely baguette and perhaps a sprinkling of grated Parmigiano Reggiano.

Potato Leek Soup

When the days are rainy and gloomy, there are a few choices to be made. You could huddle over your blue light box and sob uncontrollably until the sun comes out again in July, oooooor you could try to make the best of it by making warm, comforting soups that always taste even better after you’ve come inside and shed the wet rain coat and boots and maybe had a mug of coffee or hot tea. This potato leek soup is one I’ve been making for awhile, but I usually never measure my ingredients. This means that once you’ve got down the basics, a pot of soup is normally pretty forgiving so you can add or subtract things as you desire. Love garlic? Add more.  Don’t have any vampires to ward off? Add less.  Hate leeks? Use yellow onion….etc etc. 

Ingredients:

4 Tbsp butter

2 medium-size leeks, white and light green part only

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 lbs yellow potatoes, peeled and cut into roughly 1 ½ in pieces

2 cups less-sodium chicken broth or water

2 cups whole milk

salt and pepper to taste

garnishes: crumbled crispy bacon, shredded sharp cheddar cheese, chopped chives

This is what happens when you photograph on the floor.

A word about leeks: Cut off the root end of the leek and then cut again between the light green portion and the dark green stalk. Discard the dark green stalk, and peel off the outer layer of the remaining white/light green portion of the leek (The outer layer can get tough). Slice the leek into quarters lengthwise and then dice them. Also, they are diiiirty. They can have sand & grit trapped inside the little rings, which is not the flavor of soup we’re shooting for here, so I always swish the chopped leeks around in a bowl full of water to loosen any dirt before I lift out the leeks, leaving the dirt behind in the bottom of the bowl.

In a large pot (6 qt is the size I used), melt the butter over medium heat, then add the leeks. The goal is to soften them, not brown them, so turn the heat to medium-low. Add the minced garlic and stirring occasionally, continue to cook the leeks until soft, about 10-15 minutes.

Add the potatoes and the chicken broth or water and some salt (I added 1 tsp kosher salt at this stage), and turn up the heat again to medium so the liquid starts to come to a boil before you turn it back down to medium-low so the soup will simmer rather than boil. Simmer for 20-25 minutes, or until the potatoes are soft. I like to have soups with at least some texture to them, so I don’t puree this soup; rather, I use my potato masher to mash it up until it reaches a thicker consistency with small pieces of potato still visible.

Heat up the milk (either in a small saucepan or in a measuring cup in the microwave) until almost boiling. The reason for this is if you add cold milk to a very hot liquid, chances are high the milk will curdle. It won’t ruin the taste of your soup, but it will look a little funny. Add the milk to the pot, then add more salt to taste (I added about ½ tsp more) and a pinch or two of freshly ground black pepper.

Sprinkle the chopped chives on top.  Either eat it this way and be perfectly happy with it, or if you’re concerned it doesn’t have enough calories, top it with crumbled cooked bacon and/or shredded sharp cheddar. It’s ok, I won’t judge.

Warm Chickpea and Winter Squash Salad

I normally make this salad with butternut squash, but this time I made it with delicata squash. Why, you ask? Well, if you live in Portland long enough, chances are pretty good that you will know at least one person who quit whatever they were doing in Portland to try their hand at organic farming in rural Oregon. And when those said friends come to visit you, they try to make up for the distance with 10 pints of raspberries in the summer, or a large box full of delicata squash and pie pumpkins in the fall. So since I have a surplus of delicata squash hanging out in the guest bedroom, I decided to try putting them in this salad. Happily, delicata squash are much easier to cut than butternut squash, and because the peel is very thin and tender and it’s perfectly fine to eat it, you don’t even have to peel them!

Salad

2 medium delicata squash (about 2 ½ lbs), seeded, and cut into 1 ½-inch pieces

1 large garlic clove, pressed

½ tsp. ground allspice

2 Tbsp. olive oil

Salt to taste

2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1/2 small red onion, finely chopped

¼ cup coarsely chopped cilantro leaves

Lemon-Tahini sauce

1 medium garlic clove, minced

1/4 cup lemon juice- I used 2 medium-sized lemons

1/3 cup well-stirred tahini

2 Tbsp water

3 Tbsp olive oil

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a large bowl, combine the delicata squash, garlic, allspice, olive oil, and a pinch of salt. Mix together to evenly coat the squash pieces. Turn them out onto a baking sheet, and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until tender (but not smushy). Remove from the oven and cool.

Meanwhile, make the tahini-lemon sauce. In a small bowl, whisk together the garlic and lemon juice. Add the tahini, and whisk to blend. Add the water and olive oil, whisk well, and taste for seasoning. Since taste can be so subjective, don’t be afraid to add more tahini or lemon or oil and salt, to get it to your liking.

To assemble the salad, combine the squash, chickpeas, onion, and cilantro in a mixing bowl. Add tahini sauce and mix, careful not to break up the squash pieces. Taste again and adjust salt, and lemon or olive oil if needed.

Lovejoy Baker's Pumpkin Spice Cookies with Brown Butter Icing

Portland has its fair share of bakeries turning out tasty treats, and one of those is a bakery that I go to so often they probably recognize me by now as I order my large latte and Lovejoy Deluxe breakfast sandwich (if you’re not a vegetarian/vegan/gluten-free-whatever-person and you haven’t tried this sandwich, go.eat it.now.) Lovejoy Bakers opened about three years ago, around the same time that we moved to Portland (coincidence, I think not!), and they always have these pumpkin spice cookies with brown butter icing in the fall.

Now I don’t know why we’re only supposed to eat pumpkin-y desserts in the fall, when a can of pumpkin puree will last several years if stored properly, so what if I want one (or five) of these cookies in February? Or June? Or if my friends think mine taste better than the bakery’s, even though I’ve only slightly changed their recipe? So if you don’t happen to be in the mood to roast a few pie pumpkins to make your own puree (and I don’t blame you; I insist on making many recipes from scratch, but canned pumpkin is one area I skimp on because I think the quality is just fine), stockpile a bunch of cans of pumpkin puree so you can enjoy these cookies anytime of year.

Pumpkin Spice Cookie:

1 stick unsalted butter

1 cup packed brown sugar (I used dark, but light is fine too)

1 egg

1 teaspoon Vanilla extract

1 cup Pumpkin puree

2 cups all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon table salt

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

3/4 cup toasted walnut pieces

1 cup Currants

Brown Butter Icing:

1 stick unsalted butter

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup powdered sugar

1/4 cup heavy cream

1/4 tsp kosher salt

Cookie instructions:

In the bowl of a stand mixer (or in a bowl using a hand-held mixer), cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.

Add the egg, vanilla extract, and pumpkin puree.

In a second bowl, combine the dry ingredients: all-purpose flour (pllllleeeease lightly spoon your flour into your measuring cup and then level it off so you don’t end up with too much flour and dry cookies and blame it all on me), baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves and sift them into the wet ingredients.

Stir in the toasted walnuts and the currants.

Use an ice cream/cookie scoop that is about 2 inches in diameter. Level off each scoop so that your cookies are all the same size, and then bake 15-20 minutes at 350F, until the edges and bottoms are brown and the middles are cooked through.

Icinginstructions:

In a medium-sized stainless steel saucepan, melt the butter until the milk solids start to turn brown- there should be little flecks of brown at the bottom of the pan when you swirl the butter around the pan. I recommend not using a saucepan with a dark Teflon-coated bottom, otherwise it will be very difficult to tell when the butter has transformed into brown butter or if it has turned into burnt, gross butter.

(brown butter is in the white ramekin)

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk the powered sugar to remove any lumps, then slowly whisk in the heavy cream until it is a thick icing, and then whisk in the kosher salt, vanilla extract and brown butter a little at a time until thoroughly combined. Trust me, if you just dump everything all together, you’ll probably end up with brown-butter-with-powdered-sugar-lump-icing, which is not so pretty, though still tasty.

Dip the tops of the cooled cookies into the icing while it is still warm, and cool on a rack until the icing has firmed up. I store the finished cookies in the refrigerator, just because I get paranoid about cream icings sitting around at room temperature and possibly not being safe to eat.  This recipe makes 2 dozen cookies.