Dessert for a Small Crowd:: Pumpkin Bundt Cake

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Since we will be entertaining for smaller crowds this season, your family. I suggest everyone get dressed up in their costumes and your family can celebrate safely at home. Originally I made this dessert for a photo shoot, about a fall party. It ran in Atlanta Magazine’s Home a couple years ago and it was a lovely family fall spread. The whole party may be worth recreating instead of trick or treating this year. Please be creative and stay home, enjoy your family and stay safe.

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This layered pumpkin bundt cake is one of my favorite fall recipes. Add it to your menu for this weekend. You won’t be disappointed you did!

Layered Pumpkin Bundt Cake
Serves 12

For the cake, you will need: 

– 3 cups all-purpose flour
– 2 teaspoons baking powder
– 1 teaspoon baking soda
– 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
– 2 teaspoons ground ginger
– 1 3/4 teaspoons ground allspice
– 1 teaspoon salt
– 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
– 1 1/2 cups sugar
– 1 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
– 1 cup canola oil
– 4 large eggs
– 1 15-ounce can pure pumpkin
– 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
– 1 tablespoon grated orange peel

Note: 2 fluted bundt pans.

To prepare the cake:

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Butter two 9-inch-diameter bundt pans; Butter and dust pans with flour. Sift 3 cups flour and next 7 ingredients into medium bowl. In the bowl of a standing mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, beat both sugars and oil until combined (mixture will look grainy). Add eggs 1 at a time, beating until well blended after each addition. Add pumpkin, vanilla, and orange peel; beat until well blended. Add flour mixture; beat just until incorporatedDivide batter between prepared pans. Smooth tops.

Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 hour. Cool cakes completely in pans on rack. Run knife around cakes to loosen. Invert cakes onto racks, then turn cakes over on to a platter.

For the frosting, you will need:

– 1 8-ounce package cream cheese, room temperature
– 10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
– 1 tablespoon dark rum
– 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla paste
– 4 1/2 cups powdered sugar

To prepare the frosting: 

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat cream cheese and butter in large bowl until smooth. Beat in dark rum and vanilla. Add powdered sugar in 3 additions, beating just until frosting is smooth after each addition (do not overbeat or frosting may become too soft to spread).

For the chocolate icing, you will need:

– 12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
– ½ cup cream

To prepare the chocolate icing:

In a small sauce pan heat chips and cream whisk until smooth.

To assemble the cake: 

Place 1 pumpkin cake layer, rounded side down, on platter. Spread the of cream cheese frosting over top of cake to edges. Top with second pumpkin half. Drizzle with Chocolate icing using a fork in a zig zag splatter pattern.

Note – Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover with cake dome and refrigerate. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour before serving.

Photo credit: The Raftermen

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Pumpkin Soup with Fried Sage Leaves

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Ciao from Italy everyone. I wanted to share a delicious autumn recipe with you today. I will be here until the end of October, and then I’ll head back to the US to vote in person. I have had a great time here, and I was able to shoot two chapters of my new cookbook La Fortezza Cookbook. See the recap of the summer shoot here and the autumn shoot here.

We bought all sorts of lovely fall props including a selection of amazing pumpkins. Italians love pumpkins. Who knew? I love pumpkins, too. I have an amazing pumpkin recipe coming in the new book.

But until then, I wanted to share my Italian pumpkin soup recipe. I have tons of sage in the garden, so whenever I can use it in a recipe, I do. I happen to love the taste of sage, it just says autumn to me.

It’s an easy recipe, and perfect as a Thanksgiving starter. Plus you can make it a couple of days in advance which lightens the workload on the day. Enjoy and let me know how it goes.

Pumpkin Soup with Fried Sage Leaves
Serves 4-6

You will need:
– 4-5 cups pumpkin cut into wedges, skin on (I use a small, 2-3 lb. Cinderella pumpkin or baking pumpkin)
– 3 carrots sliced
– 1 cup celery
– 1 cup chopped onion (*Note all the vegetables can be rough chunks as you will be blending them)
– 1 smashed garlic clove
– 3 tablespoons olive oil + 2 tablespoons for the pumpkin
– 1 teaspoon salt + 1 teaspoon salt for the pumpkin
– 2 sage leaves
– 3 cups water, or Vegetable stock
– 1/4 cup heavy cream
– 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
– 1 lemon

To prepare:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F

Cut the pumpkin into wedges, roughly 3-4 inch pieces. Place on a baking sheet, drizzle with oil and sprinkle with salt. Place in the oven for 30 minutes, until pumpkin is soft with pierced. While the pumpkin is roasting, Place olive oil and carrots, celery, onion and garlic, sage, and salt into a Dutch oven. Over medium heat saute the vegetables until soft, add the water or stock. simmer about 20 minutes. Once the pumpkin is roasted, scrap the soft pumpkin flesh from the skin. Place the roasted pumpkin into the pot and remove from heat. Using an immersion blender, roughly blend the vegetables, add the nutmeg and the cream and juice of 1 lemon, blend until smooth. Place over heat for another 10 minutes on low heat. This can be made 2 days in advance and stored in the refrigerator.

Fried Sage Leaves

You will need:

– 1 cup fresh sage leaves, washed and dried
– 1 cup of olive oil

Preparation:

In a heavy bottom pot, bring the oil to 325 degrees F, drop the dry leaves into the pot, fry for 2 minutes, place on a paper towel. These should be made as you warm the soup. Place the soup into bowls and garnish warm soup with 3-4 leaves.

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Fancy Grilled Cheese

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Earlier this week, I shared my white bean chili recipe, so it’s only fair that I share a recipe for the most incredible grilled cheese: my fancy grilled cheese. This is another recipe from my first book, Picture Perfect Parties, and it’s one I bring back year after year because it’s just that good. Enjoy!

Fancy Grilled Cheese
serves 6

You will need:
– 1 loaf challah bread
– 6 pieces bacon cooked and crumbled
– 1 12 oz. wheel brie cheese
– 6 tablespoons apricot jam, 1 tablespoon per sandwich
– 6 tablespoons butter softened 1 tablespoon per sandwich

To prepare:

Cook bacon until crisp in the oven at 400 degrees F, drain set aside.

Slice challah into 12 slices. Assemble the sandwiches. Place crumbled bacon , thin slice of brie, and apricot jam on the bread, place another slice of bread on top forming a sandwich. Butter the top and repeat until you have made 6 sandwiches.

In a heated sauté pan place sandwiches butter side down, butter the top half. Cook until golden brown, flip and cook the other side. Continue until all the sandwiches are done. Let set for 1 minute and cut sandwiches into quarters.

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It’s Chili Season!

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As the temperature starts to dip in the mornings, and there is a slight chill in the air in the evenings, I start dreaming about chili.

There’s something about the fall that is so comforting. I love the leaves changing, and the hues of green that slowly morph into browns, yellows, oranges, and reds. I love the cozy scarves, ponchos, and knee-high boots that become a part of our daily wardrobe. And the food? I love that too.

One of my favorite things about the fall is preparing a meal that makes the house smell good all day. Those fall food aromas are heavenly and comforting, and I love being able to walk in from a long day, toss everything in a pot, and enjoy a delicious meal. My White Bean Chili from my cookbook Picture Perfect Parties Rizzoli NY is perfect for this. The flavor combinations are delicious, and there are a few surprise ingredients (like cinnamon) that really make the chili delicious. Prepare a big pot, serve heaping helpings, and let your family or guests top it with just about anything they want, but I prefer a great cheddar cheese and a little sour cream. Enjoy!

This is always the go-to for Halloween, too. Everybody can enjoy before or after trick or treating (or this year, cozying up with a family movie!). 

White Bean Chili
Serves 8

You will need:
– 1 lb ground sirloin
– 1 lb ground turkey
– 3 tablespoons olive oil
– 1 small onion chopped
– 3 cloves chopped garlic
– 4 tablespoons chili powder
– 1 teaspoon salt
– 1 teaspoon white pepper
– 1 teaspoon cinnamon
– 8 cups chicken stock
– 2 cups canned cannellini white beans
– 2 cups canned pinto beans
– 2 tablespoons dried coriander

On the side:
– Tortilla chips
– Avocado
– Chopped fresh cilantro
– Sour cream

To prepare:

In a stockpot, sauté sirloin and turkey, with a slotted spoon remove cooked meat and set aside. Pour out any excess oil. Place olive oil and onions, garlic into the stockpot, heat on medium and cook until translucent. Add cooked meat, chili powder, salt, pepper and cinnamon and stock, simmer for 1 hour, add beans and coriander Cook for 3 hours.

Serve with shredded cheese, sour cream and sliced avocado and chopped fresh cilantro tortilla chips.

xx, Annette

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Autumn + Apples:: Apple Cheddar Souffle

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Autumn is officially here, and it is full-fledged apple season. Apple picking is a common fall activity that lends itself especially well to socially-distant fall activities. I can imagine many of you are going apple picking and are finding yourself with an abundance of fruit, so today I’m sharing the first of many recipes that will help you put it to delicious use. Up first is my apple cheddar souffle.

I like to call this recipe fool-proof because it truly is. It’s from my first book, Picture Perfect Parties. (Can you believe I’m onto book four now?!). Let me know if you give it a try! It’s perfect for fall.

Apple Cheddar Soufflés
Makes 24
You will need:
– 1/4 cup butter
– 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
– 1 1/4 cups milk
– 2 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary
– 1/2 teaspoon salt
– 1/4 tsp. pepper
– 1 1/2 cups shredded sharp white cheddar
– 1 peeled and grated honey crisp apple
– 6 large eggs, separated
– 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

To prepare:

Preheat oven to 375. Generously butter 24 oven-safe espresso cups. Arrange them 2-inches apart on baking pans. In a 2 to 3 quart pan over medium heat, melt 1/4 cup butter. Add flour and stir until mixture is smooth and bubbling. Stir in milk and next rosemary, salt and pepper and continue stirring until sauce boils and thickens, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat. Add cheese and stir until melted. Add apples and egg yolks and stir until the mixture is blended and smooth. In a bowl with a mixer on high speed, beat egg whites with cream of tartar until medium peaks form. With a flexible spatula, fold a third of the cheese sauce into whites until well blended. Add remaining sauce and gently fold in until just blended. Divide batter into the prepared cups filling about ¾ full.

*Cups can be frozen up to 3 days ahead at this point. If frozen do not thaw, bake immediately in preheated oven as directed.

Bake for 12 minutes or until puffed and top is golden brown. Serve.

xx Annette

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