This weekend has brought a string of perfectly cozy autumnal cinnamon spiced moments that are exactly what I live for. The sun has put his fluffy cloudy sweater on and the light is the most beautifully diffused grey, this is hands down the best time of year. Until the snowstorms roll in, then that’s the best time of year.
We sipped pumpkin spice oat milk lattes and ate sourdough apple pancakes and gooey cinnamon rolls for brunch while Sufjan Stevens emerged from the radio (but this had to be changed to Iron and Wine radio because Sufjan Stevens radio always ends up playing Christmas music and nighttime space sounds, does anyone else have this problem?).
We achieved my ideal date. I didn’t know it was my ideal date until happened, but I wore grey sweatpants and we drove through the dark (it gets dark before 9pm now!) rainy night to the new Pho restaurant in town and ate gigantic steamy bowls of soup. They were never ending bowls of soup and we closed down the place. It was so delicious, I can’t wait to go back.
Watched Bojack season 5!!! It’s as outrageous as ever and continues to exhibit one of the best qualities in a show which is that if you’ve just spent the whole afternoon watching it and then your husband comes home from harvesting beets and wants to watch all of the episodes that you just watched, you can watch them with him and be equally as amused as the first time you watched them because the jokes are all equally as funny the second and third times around and there are endless amounts of references and details to find that you couldn’t possibly catch all in just one viewing. Or maybe you could if you’re hip to that type of thing which I’m not.
I roasted a chicken! I’ve never really been the chicken roasting type but on Rosh Hashanah I chose to forego the brisket and make Melissa Clark’s salt and pepper chicken and it was sooooo juicy and crispy and salty and perfect and easy and it made the house smell so cozy that I did it all again last night. And even though I had filled up on bagels and didn’t have enough room to eat that much of it, it was worth it. We’re going to have chicken tacos with tahini dressing tonight.
Honorable mention! This isn’t a fall-specific moment, but I made a nice discovery on Friday night which is that cauliflower pizza crust is not awful!! After a week of challah grilled cheeses and matzo ball soup leftovers, we were in the mood to not feel like death after Friday pizza night so I took a chance on a frozen cauliflower pizza crust and while it was totally flavorless, the texture was correctly crispy on the edges and chewy in the innards and it was a genuinely solid vehicle for sauce and mozzarella. We will do this again sometime but not this week because I’m about to make a big batch of bagels for Yom Kippur and hopefully there will be some leftover for Friday pizza bagels.
Ok, here is another recipe that I developed for summer camp! It’s a savory cheesy bread pudding that is a cinch to make and infinitely improvise-able. At camp, we added a pound of bacon and cooked the onion in the bacon fat before folding everything together. Breakfast sausage would also be great. But without meat, and a great gruyère and enough greens (it always seems like you’re trying to fold in too many greens but they really cook down in the oven), it is totally delicious and you can prep it all ahead, so yes there’s a reason I’m posting it just in time for Yom Kippur.
A bowl of cheesy, eggy bread that’s mostly very soft, save for a few strategically placed crispy the edges, and yes you should have seconds because there are greens for ~balance~. Does it get much better?? Only if there’s a thunderstorm outside.
sourdough strata with gruyère and kale
2 tb unsalted butter
1 yellow onion, diced
16 oz crusty sourdough, cut into cubes
1 c (4 oz) shredded mozzarella
1 c (4 oz) shredded gruyère or swiss, plus more for topping
6 oz kale, chopped (chard or spinach would always work!)
8 large eggs
3 1/2 c (840 ml) whole milk
1/2 c (120 ml) heavy cream
2 tsp dijon mustard
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg
Leaves from 4 sprigs fresh thyme
If you’re planning to bake this immediately, preheat the oven to 350ºF. If you’re prepping this the day before, no need to preheat now.
In a skillet (or 4 qt braiser that you can put in the oven), heat the butter over medium heat and add the onion. Cook until soft, 5-7 minutes. Or if you’re feeling wild and have the time, caramelize the suckers. Remove from heat. Combine the sourdough, mozzarella, gruyère, and greens with the buttery onion mixture, either in a 9” x 13” casserole dish or in the braiser if you used that to cook the onions.
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, cream, mustard, salt, nutmeg, thyme, a bunch of turns of pepper, and hot sauce to taste. Pour into the pan with the sourdough. Top with another little sprinkle of gruyère. Cover with foil and bake immediately or refrigerate overnight or up to 24 hours.
Bake (at 350fº) covered for 30 minutes, and then uncovered for about another 30 minutes, until browned on top and set throughout.
photos by chantell and brett quernemoen