we’ve had a few pumpkins sitting in the window for a while and i wanted to use them up this week!

we were planning a FIESTA menu for dinner on friday night- thought it might be a nice change from thanksgiving leftovers…  so i looked up a flan recipe and found one using pumpkin.  perfect!

this was my first attempt at flan-ning.  it was pretty easy and turned out REALLY GREAT.  nothing to be scared of!

i roasted one large and one smaller pumpkin- but i probably just needed to do the big one.  ran the pumpkin meat through the processor.  scooped 3 1/2 c. of pumpkin puree (and saved the rest for this sunday’s yogurt!).  added 3 teas. cinnamon, 1/2 teas. nutmeg, 1/2 teas. salt, a sprinkle of clove and a good bit of fresh grated ginger.

made a caramel using 2 c. sugar in a dry, heavy bottomed pan.  let the sugar burn over low heat until it was dark and caramelized.  then poured that into the bottom of a warm casserole dish (the flan pan!)

for the custard: warmed 3 c. heavy cream with 2 c. milk and a good bit of vanilla bean paste.  whisked the warm milk mix into 10 eggs and 2 yolks.  added the spiced puree to the custard mix and poured the whole business over the caramel.

baked the whole thing, covered, for over an hour, in a water bath…  once the center of the custard had just a slight jiggle, we called it done and stuck her into the fridge overnight.

the next morning, ran a knife around the edge of the casserole and flipped it quick onto a tray.  the custard popped right out, covered in caramel!

i prefer it to pumpkin pie!  the custard is rich in flavor, and light and creamy like a mousse!  YUM!

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we got a few mentions in this month’s CINCINNATI MAGAZINE!

i haven’t held the actual magazine (it’s only just been mailed to subscribers, and isn’t on magazine racks, yet) or seen any of the layout- but my sweet sister got a copy at work and took some photos so that i could see a preview!

and i’ll give you a peek!

there is a section about what’s hopping on main street–

and a little blurb to go along with that:

and then the biggest surprise (and what we’ve been spending lots of time processing these past few weeks!), BEST OF WEEKEND BREAKFAST!  as if there wasn’t enough of a wait on sundays already– but here it goes!

i can’t speak for leah, but i know that this feels so wild to me.  (i’m sure it also feels wild for her, too!)  i have spent lots of time as a younger cook, pouring over cincinnati magazines, reading about restaurants, cooks and chefs.  and now we are in there?  it feels surreal, and i can’t quite wrap my head around it.  i constantly worry about the level of expectation that folks are bringing to our place, after all these great, positive mentions in so many of cincinnati’s food guides…  we are just cooking!  most of the time not doing anything that someone, somewhere hasn’t already done before…  but we are doing it with love and usually with a smile and the intention of nurturing people, having fun and making a bit of a living!  i hope that we are able to keep doing what we are doing, growing and changing as we need to- to have this continue to bring so much into our lives!

there is so much to be thankful for!  i’m thankful for the chance to express myself on this blog, through food, photos and writing.  i’m so thankful to have found such a positive way to live my life without jenna.  and i am so thankful to have such a great, loving, creative partnership with leah.  thanks!

i like soup.  so much.  this one has onions, garlic, celery, carrots, tomatoes, white beans, butternut squash, red potatoes, and kale.

this week has been kind of on the harder side.  not much because of work, but because i am feeling a lot and am having emotional reactions before i quite know why or how or who…

we put jenna into her spot at spring grove cemetary on monday.  a day i knew was coming, but one that i didn’t realize would hold so much weight for me.  you know, since the restaurant is so fun and good…  since i am happy, mostly and in love, a lot.  and feeling for the most part like i am keeping the spirit alive and living in a way that does jenna and myself a good deal of justice.  spoiling the crap out of marlow.  you get the picture.  doing the best i can.  (i hope.)

well, sunday night and into monday morning i was sending facebook messages back and forth with a wonderful woman that i have gotten to know better through FHK.  i have known for a while that she has cancer and has had it for a while, but she always seems so light and happy and good, that i took for granted that she could be having to deal with the shittier parts of cancer and treatment and that whole mess.  last week found her in the hospital with a gnarly infection and of course i was sending food and right back at thinking about this time last year…  (also started the waterworks, which continued for most of the day..)

there is something to be said for creating a meal for someone who will appreciate it far more than the restaurant diner.  it is so much more satisfying for me, during the whole cooking process to know that i will be sending something nourishing and colorful off to someone whose day is full of the florescent lights of a hospital, whose social interactions are limited to visiting family and nurses.  to imagine their delight at the appearance of a meal that is different than what is offered in the cafeteria…  i find that my energy and my SELF go into this kind of cooking…  doing this act of giving gives me a sense of closeness to jenna and i guess that is all i am looking for these days…

there is nothing that comes close to this sense of purpose with the meals that we serve at FHK.  those meals are special, don’t get me wrong-  i look forward to them and i love the interactions that are a part of them.  we have created a place that feels full of community and sharing over food and comfort and nourishment…  folks are loving the connection and the food and that makes me so happy!  but it doesn’t compare for me.  there has been lots of talk over the “kitchen” table this week of morphing this into a non-money trading business that would do this kind of cooking for those who could use it….

sometimes i wonder what all i should post on this blog, knowing that we use it to give folks an idea of our food and our place.  this might be pushing the limit- but i think it is good to get this down, to keep track of where i am going, etc.

let’s hope this soup is a cure-all for cancer!

and maybe some day i’ll be rich enough to get into some sort of ‘non-money trading food business’.  HA!

 

 

 

 

 

amazing salad!  just in time for thanksgiving!  inspiration found here…  we twisted it, of course!

made croutons out of that APRICOT/WALNUT/CRANBERRY loaf from blue oven.  heated a bit of oil and frangrantized some thyme and sage.  tossed the bread cubes in the oil, with salt and pepper.  toasted.  quick boiled the brussels then tossed them in oil and toasted.  gah.  nothing better than browning brussels.  the little skins that fall off and get crispy on their own…

had gotten some radicchio, per the recipe, but it was right on the edge of firm and limp, so we chopped it up and braised it in shallot residue with some chopped kale.  the nice side effect being some moisture and less bitterness!

dressing was a couple of apples sauteed til soft, and pureed with raw shallots, cider vinegar, a touch of sugar and oil.

the only thing that could make this salad better would be to add bacon and stuff it in a turkey for about three hours…  hmmmm.  happy turkey cooking!

let’s start with this: anyone who knows me, knows that i am a horrible secret keeper.

now, the juicy part: our new friend, chris smith, came and did a photo shoot a while ago.  he sent me the link to his site with all of the photos from a friday night of business and a saturday of cooking- about a month ago- asking me not to share until the end of november.

THIS HAS BEEN HARD FOR ME!

finally, he came in last night for dinner and gave me the green light on sharing: check em out!

there is more to this GI-NORMOUS secret i am keeping, baby steps….

having way too much fun with yogurt!

this week we had a sort of mediterranean, mid east, menu.  falafel, moroccan stew, dates, baba ghanouj, etc.  while planning that menu, we came across an interesting dessert recipe for a sweet couscous pudding.  which we made and served and called COCO LOCO.  it was delish: whipped sweet cream with a touch of vanilla.  folded in some cooked couscous, caramelized bananas, crystalized ginger, candied pineapple and this really silly, sticky, cream of coconut stuff (“for the authentic pina colada!).  the result was a sort of tropical ambrosia salad with the texture of a small gauge tapioca.  yum yum for winter.

this whole thing got my wheels spinning for brunch yogurt–  so i caramelized some more bananas and folded the mash into the greek yogurt with lots of vanilla bean paste, lots of honey, fresh squeezed OJ and pineapple juice.  we ran out of the coco cream business, so i used real, fine shredded coconut in the yogurt.  topped with fresh pineapple and nut mix.  yaaya!

yup.  hard to make it look like something.

brown onions and sausage together.  melt butter and whisk flour- in equal parts.  cook for a bit, then add milk, stirring until smooth and gravy-like.  add some stock and some salt and some pepper and whatever else!

cafeteria scoop the mess onto a buttermilk biscuit.