napa fall harvest

napa fall harvest | A Brown Table

This year for Thanksgiving, I opted for several changes to our menu. I cooked a turkey breast and skipped the whole turkey (for 2 to 4 people this is the perfect option), I forgot to add cranberries to my cornbread stuffing (but added a tablespoon of sambal olek, which made it even better), I made my sweet potato pie (and sprinkled it with Persian saffron sugar crystals) and my beer and honey flavored pumpkin pie. And, before I forget, a green bean casserole with lots of crunchy fried onions and cashews. I've learned that if I can't find everything at the store, forget to add something to my list or run out of it at home, it's possible to make it through without panicking by either substituting or "faking it till I make it". 

Last weekend, amidst moving and a few last minute painting mishaps, we decided to drop it all and drive up to Napa for a fall harvest festival hosted by Tillamook Cheeese at the Charles Krug winery. I've been to Napa and Sonoma counties in almost every season of the year but autumn and if you're a fall person, it's probably one of the prettiest time to visit. The vines are changing color and the larger walnut and oak trees are all sorts of shades yellow, orange and red.

We learned how to taste cheese like the pros do at Tillamook (and M took active part in his cheese training, I think this is as fascinating as people who get to taste chocolate for a living). To start you take whiff of the cheese and then you use a cheese-borer to drill a hole deep into a humongous disc of cheese and then you get to characterize the flavor in terms of different features that you notice such as lactic acid, sweetness, umami etc. Cheese was included in every portion of our lunch menu (pumpkin mac and cheese, grilled cheese and pear sandwiches, etc.) and ice cream made from Tillamook's milk. M got the vanilla bean with caramel sauce while I got the marionberry. That meal made the thought of going back home to pack and move now seemed much more bearable.

Now obviously, if you're going to pass through Yountville, you have to make the mandatory stop by Bouchon Bakery. You need something sweet to get absorb all that cheese and wine! (Pictured are the sticky buns, hazelnut eclair, TKO cookie and pumpkin spice macroon.


napa fall harvest | A Brown Table
napa fall harvest | A Brown Table
napa fall harvest | A Brown Table
napa fall harvest | A Brown Table
napa fall harvest | A Brown Table
napa fall harvest | A Brown Table
napa fall harvest | A Brown Table
napa fall harvest | A Brown Table
napa fall harvest | A Brown Table
napa fall harvest | A Brown Table
napa fall harvest | A Brown Table
napa fall harvest | A Brown Table
napa fall harvest | A Brown Table
napa fall harvest | A Brown Table
napa fall harvest | A Brown Table
napa fall harvest | A Brown Table
napa fall harvest | A Brown Table
Bouchon Baker, Yountville CA | A Brown Table
Bouchon Baker, Yountville CA | A Brown Table

pumpkin honey beer pie

pumpkin honey beer pie | A Brown Table

There are many things I love about the Thanksgiving dinner menu and, to be honest, because of the nature of my pastry loving heart, a huge portion of my affection is dessert-oriented. Yup, I’m referring to pies because those are the first things that cross my mind when I hear the words “Thanksgiving food”. Why do I love pies so much? It’s comfort food at its best. Simple and unapologetic yet still sophisticated enough to balance tradition with change.

A few months ago we thought about spending our Thanksgiving weekend in Portland but the house happened and the more I thought about it, it would be silly for me to not celebrate the holiday in our new home. So while I plan my menu, there is one addition this year that I’m confident will make it to my dinner feast. It’s going to be a sweet beer pumpkin honey pie that’s infused with a deep caramel malt lager from Negra Modelo.

This medium-bodied lager made by Negra Modelo is absolutely perfect, it’s got a delicious caramel flavor that’s built into the beer by subjecting the malt through a slow roasting process. Once you fold these caramel notes into the pumpkin purée and bake it, you will end up with a delicious smooth pumpkin pie that bursting with deep sweet malt flavors. 

A big slice of pumpkin pie and a chilled glass of Negra Modelo’s lager after Thanksgiving dinner or for that matter at any dinner sounds simply perfect! 

pumpkin honey beer pie | A Brown Table
pumpkin honey beer pie | A Brown Table
pumpkin honey beer pie | A Brown Table
pumpkin honey beer pie | A Brown Table
pumpkin honey beer pie | A Brown Table

Some kitchen tips that you might find useful when you prepare this pumpkin pie;

  • When reducing the beer, stir it constantly as the heat will cause the foam in the liquid to rise and it could spill out of the pan. 
  • Always use unsweetened pumpkin purée for this recipe as I’ve standardized the amounts of honey and sweetener accordingly.
  • Ginger is an optional spice in this recipe but do use turmeric, it will bump up the brightness of the pumpkin in the pie.
  • Use whatever pie crust you love the most!
pumpkin honey beer pie | A Brown Table

pumpkin honey beer pie

yields: serves 8

ingredients

1 bottle (335mL) Negra Modelo beer

15 ounces can unsweetened pumpkin purée

3 large eggs + 3 yolks

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon ginger powder (optional)

1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder

1/2 cup honey

3/4 cup (150gm) packed brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt

1/2 cup whole milk

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 1/2 tablespoons water

1 pre-made pie crust shell of your choice

  1. Pour the Negra Modelo into a medium-sized thick-bottomed saucepan. Heat on medium-high heat with constant stirring to bring the beer to a boil and then immediately reduce to medium-low heat. Reduce the volume of the beer to about 1/4 cup which should take about 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from stove and allow to cool to room temperature before using.
  2. Place a wire rack at midlevel in the oven and preheat to 350F. 
  3. Place the reduced beer and all the ingredients from the pumpkin purée to the heavy cream in a large mixing bowl and whisk by hand until completely combined. Then prepare a slurry of the cornstarch with the water and whisk this into the liquid in the large mixing bowl. Transfer the pumpkin filling to a large thick bottomed saucepan and heat on medium-low heat, gently whisking it to prevent the formation of any lumps. Cook the liquid until it acquires the consistency of a thick custard and coats the back of a wooden spoon. The liquid should thicken after about 12 to 15 minutes. 
  4. Place a pie dish containing the pie crust on a baking sheet and pour the pie filling. Bake the pie in the preheated oven for at least 55 to 60 minutes, rotating it halfway through the baking process. The pie is done when the center of the filling barley jiggles. Remove the pie from the oven and allow to cool completely (about 4 hours) before serving. Serve with a little sweetened whipped cream and a bottle of chilled Negra Modelo.

 

This is a sponsored post, developed in partnership with Negra Modelo.  All thoughts, opinions and recipes are my own.

cinnamon spiced chocolate bark

Cinnamon Spiced Chocolate Bark | A Brown Table

November has been a month of change. For one, we had some big weather changes, it finally cooled down and we had a nice big shower of rain (a much needed one at that and I hope we get several more). Second, I learned that I can spend a lot of time at hardware stores as much as I do at kitchen stores and at the cookbook aisles in bookstores. And I dread the thought of packing and unpacking when it's a move that's only a few miles away. But as time proceeds and I see my ideas actually materialize, I find the stress of renovating worth it and exciting. The kitchen is painted and the garden fence is finally up and the move date moves closer and closer.

By the way, I feel that the holidays are making their appearances even faster than usual, I was hoping to catch a few horror flicks last weekend during Halloween but I found myself flipping through four or five different tv channels that were filled Christmas movies! Way too soon...

Chocolate bark is one of my favorite sweets to look forward to during the holidays. It's perhaps one of the easiest things to make and to be honest, it's versatility is understated, you can adapt it to whatever season or festivity that you want to and this time, I'm making a holiday version. This bark is scented and spiced with a little cinnamon with a few dried cranberries, pistachios and maldon salt flakes embedded to add sweet, tangy, nutty and salty flavors to each and every bite of chocolate you eat.

To get the recipe and learn how to make this chocolate bark, headover to West Elm's blog,Front + Main!

Kitchen #abrownhome | A Brown Table
Kitchen #abrownhome | A Brown Table
Cinnamon Spiced Chocolate Bark | A Brown Table

herbed goat cheese ball

Herbed Goat Cheese Ball | A Brown Table

After I painted the rooms in the last house in DC, I swore I'd never paint walls again but here I am now, knee deep in paint and stained. Not to say that it isn't fun and a good arm workout but a couple of hours through and I keep considering my sanity and life choices when it comes to painting. The prospect of cooking in the new kitchen has me very, very excited. It was one of the things that immediately blew me away when we looked at the house and I feel fortunate that we were able to get it. Snoopy on the other hand has found it to be an exhausting experience, he spends most of his time running around the house while we work but he makes sure he gets his nap time, in and out of the sun.

Between wall painting and backyard cleaning, there was a mini blogger reunion last weekend and I got to spend some time with the lovely Molly and Lindsey who were visiting the San Francisco Bay on a quick trip for work. Oddly enough, it was also a reunion of sorts for those of us that live in the Bay but don't get a chance to meet each other as often as we'd like to. Our little party also included my local fellow bloggers and pals, Michelle, Phyllis, Todd and Phi, we met up for drinks at Prizefighter

Speaking of bars and drinks, I'm a huge fan of serving drinks with a few small bites. Cheese is usually a good accompaniment to most drinks and with so many varieties to choose from it makes it an ideal pairing option. There are cheese slices and cheese balls, and cheese balls are an amazing invention. The first time I tasted a cheese ball, was several years ago during an Easter dinner in Virginia. We were visiting M's family and his mother made two large cheese balls coated with all sorts of delicious things. She prepares them in the afternoon, the first one disappears by the time its made, the second one disappears by dinner. Taking some inspiration from her, I've made a fall themed, herbed coated cheeseball that has sweet cranberries and pumpkin seeds and a dash of hot sriracha sauce for a kick. http://blog.westelm.com/2015/10/30/herbed-goat-cheese-balls/

To get the recipe and learn how to make this cheeseball, headover to West Elm's blog,Front + Main!

herbed goat cheese ball | A Brown Table
Herbed Goat Cheese Ball | A Brown Table

Disclaimer: Thank you to West Elm for sponsoring this post. All opinions expressed are purely my own.

sweet potato panini with sriracha mayo

sweet potato panini with sriracha mayo | A Brown Table

This week has been busy, we've been trying to get contractors lined up for all the different projects for our new house. Apparently, all contractors in the Bay are busy until next year so there's that but we finally managed to rope a few people in after a lot of googling, yelp research and asking people. With all the chaos that is to ensue, I'm super excited about the prospect of all the fun aspects of working on a home and making it my own. 

My first cover in print just came out last week. Every issue of the Edible Silicon Valley magazine features the work of one local artist (from the food industry) and this time the lovely folks at Edible SV did a little feature on my work and also asked me to share some of my favorite Thanksgiving recipes. You can find this issue at most stores in the San Francisco Bay Area and also online at their website

Edible Silicon Valley Fall 2015| Cover by Nik Sharma Photography

A lot can be said about a sandwich, in many ways I think of it as a gateway to my heart because a good sandwich can take me to my happy place. I like mine toasted and grilled, stuffed pretty full, yet pressed down and to compact and hold everything inside together. Most of the time, my sandwiches have cheese and if there's cheese, there'd better be some amount of heat involved to melt it.

These sandwiches have two stages of grilling. The first is when big, fat thick slices of garam masala seasoned sweet potatoes go on the grates and the second time it's the panini stuffed with kale leaves,cheese and crispy bacon. And along with this panini there's a hot and spicy Sriracha flavored mayo to dip and enjoy every bite! I also like to top each sandwich off with a fresh fried egg which also works perfect for a weekend brunch item.

To get the recipe and learn how to make this panini, headover to West Elm's blog,Front + Main!


sweet potato panini with sriracha mayo | A Brown Table
sweet potato panini with sriracha mayo | A Brown Table

Disclaimer: Thank you to West Elm for sponsoring this post. All opinions expressed are purely my own.

sweet potato soup with cauliflower croutons

Sweet Potato Soup with Cauliflower Croutons | A Brown Table @abrowntable

With Thanksgiving around the corner, things start to get busy. It's the same theme every year, there's the excitement of the holiday and the food but the anxiousness of the impending crazy that might rear its ugly head. A good example of this is shopping during the holidays, it's drives me absolutely nuts, it tests my patience and I hope makes me a better person for weathering through it. Don't get me wrong, I love going to stores at this time of the year, they're all gorgeously decorated for Christmas (those ornaments keep popping up earlier and earlier, each year!) and there are a lot of fun things to try (new holiday flavored teas at one of my favorite tea stores) and the strollers, yes the strollers! Strollers make nervous, they keep getting wider and larger with time, they can even take up entire sidewalks but in a mall that's already packed they can become a tool of danger. While trying on a couple of pairs of sneakers, I had two encounters within a short span of time, the first involved a bump to the head and the second, my toes. I'm going to go with the notion that these could be considered "war wounds" of the holiday season and a reason why I prefer to shop online during the holidays! What do you prefer, online or in-store? 

Sweet Potato Soup with Cauliflower Croutons | A Brown Table @abrowntableSweet Potato Soup with Cauliflower Croutons | A Brown Table @abrowntable

Let's talk about holiday meals and ingredients, though I love both of them, I love sweet potatoes a little more than pumpkins. They are simply perfect, I always get a slice of sweet potato pie at Thanksgiving and if I can manage, there'll even be a pie after the holiday. But sweet potatoes also make wonderful savory dishes and I can never have enough!  So when the folks at The Society asked me to share a Thanksgiving recipe at their site, I knew I'd be giving a shoutout to my favorite tuber with this simple and easy soup that's served with some Indian-inspired cauliflower croutons. The sweet potato soup is lightly flavored with coriander with a smooth and velvety texture. It helps take the craziness away and comforts and calms. So go ahead and make yourself some soup,  the recipe is available here!

Sweet Potato Soup with Cauliflower Croutons | A Brown Table @abrowntableSweet Potato Soup with Cauliflower Croutons | A Brown Table @abrowntable
Sweet Potato Soup with Cauliflower Croutons | A Brown Table @abrowntable