I am still enjoying this beautiful fall weather. I don’t know if it’s just me, but I feel more revitalized in the fall. I feel like the crisp air makes things taste better. Maybe it’s just that I like the flavors associated with fall. Maybe it’s that I go into hibernation mode and crave delicious comfort foods. Maybe it’s that, being a night owl, I feel like I have more time to cook. Whatever it is, I plan to enjoy it, and I want to share some flavorful dishes with you, so you can enjoy it as well.
Let’s start with a flavorful breakfast dish that would make a great brunch on a lazy Saturday. This dish does need to set for at least 2 hours. Personally, I’d rather just prep it the night before and only have to bake it off (and make the syrup) on that morning. This lovely French toast has a light orange flavor and a great crunch from the pecans.
Baked Orange Pecan French Toast (from Florida’s Natural)
For the toast:
2/3 c. orange juice
1/3 c. milk
1/4 c. sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
8 slices (1/2 in. thick) French bread (I used regular bread, and it was still delicious.)
1/4 c. butter
1/2 c. chopped pecans
For the syrup:
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. butter
1 c. orange juice
1. In a medium bowl, beat together the eggs, orange juice (2/3 c.), milk, sugar (1/4 c.), vanilla, and nutmeg. Arrange the bread in a single layer and top it with the egg mix. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Melt the butter (1/4 c.) in a 10x15x2 inch pan and arrange the bread on top. Bake for 20 minutes, sprinkle with the pecans, and bake 10 more minutes.
Note: I didn’t see the point of dirtying 2 pans. I melted the butter, poured it in my pan, topped it with the bread, and topped that with the egg mix. When I was ready to cook it, I just let brought the pan out of the fridge about 30 minutes, then stuck it in the oven while it preheated. Then I followed the baking directions above.
3. For the syrup, combine the sugar (1/2 c.), butter (1/2 c.), and orange juice (1 c.) in a small pan and cook over low heat for 10 minutes. Do not boil. Serve over the warm French toast.
This next dish displays one of my favorite food genres: Thai food!! I’m a huge fan of satay, spring rolls, pad thai, and so many other delicious treats. This one is a little time-consuming, but the flavor is worth it. If you like this dish, you should definitely find a copy of the cookbook to look through. It’s got lots of delicious and easy introductions into the world of Thai cuisine.
Chicken Hidden in Curried Rice (from Quick and Easy Thai by Nancie McDermott)
3 tbsp. veggie oil
1 tbsp. coarsely chopped garlic
1/3 c. coarsely chopped onion
1 tbsp. curry powder
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 1/2 lb. cubed, boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 c. long-grain rice
3 1/2 c. chicken broth
3 tbsp. coarsely chopped cilantro
1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and onion and toss well. Sprinkle in the curry powder, salt, and pepper. Cook 1 minute, stir well, and add the chicken. Cook 2-3 minutes, turning a few times, til coated with the spices and beginning to brown. Transfer the chicken to a bowl and add the rice to the skillet. Cook the rice 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally, til evenly colored and seasoned.
2. Transfer the rice to a large saucepan or Dutch oven and add the broth. Bring the broth to a boil over medium heat, stir well, and cook, stirring often, til the rice swells and looks rather dry, 10-15 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Add the chicken (with any juices) to the pan, and use a spoon to bury the chicken under the rice. Smooth out the top of the rice so that the chicken’s completely hidden. Cover the pot and cook til the rice is tender and the chicken’s cooked through, 45-50 minutes, stirring gently once or twice. (I prefer not to stir since I LOVE the crispy bits that form on the bottom if you don’t.)
3. When the dish is done cooking, let it stand, covered, for 10 minutes. Fluff the rice and transfer it to your serving dish.
And, of course, I couldn’t leave you without giving you the recipe for a flavorful, delicious dessert. I know that I might be a little partial to all things lemon poppyseed, but these cookies are just amazing. They had a crisp exterior, but the insides were moist and chewy. They also have a bright lemon flavor. The recipe made about 2 dozen, but I wish it made twice as many. I just couldn’t stop eating them!
Lemon Poppy-Seed Cookies (from Martha Stewart)
1/4 c. lemon juice
3 1/2 tsp. lemon zest
8 oz. butter
2 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 c. sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
1 tbsp. poppy seeds
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a small saucepan, bring the juice to a simmer over medium heat and cook til reduced by 1/2. Add 1/2 the butter and stir til melted.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. In another bowl, cream together the other half of the butter and 1 c. sugar on medium. Mix in the egg and lemon butter. Mix til pale, about 3 minutes. Mix in the vanilla and 2 tsp. of the lemon zest. Mix in the flour mix and poppy seeds.
3. In a shallow bowl, stir together the remaining sugar (1/2 c.) and zest (1 1/2 tsp.). Roll spoonfuls of the dough into 1 1/4 inch balls and roll the balls in the sugar mix. Place the cookies 2 inches apart on a baking sheet and press each one flat (with the bottom of a glass that’s been dipped in sugar) to about 1/4 inch thick. Sprinkle with more poppy seeds. (I didn’t bother.)
4. Bake til the cookies are just browned around the bottom edges, 10-11 minutes.
These are just a few of my favorite flavors. What are some of yours?