A couple weekends ago I visited Gordon Skagit Farm in Mt. Vernon, WA. And apparently I left my self control at home that day. Because I had the overwhelming urge to buy EVERYTHING while I was there. I wanted as many apples, pumpkins, squash, cider and pies as I could carry.
So now I’m sitting in my tiny floating home surrounded by bushels of fall goodies. Let’s just say it’s a very good thing that squash and pumpkins can do double duty as decorations, because currently there isn’t any more room left in my pantry. I’ve got these things scattered all around my house. I’m just so Martha Stewart these days…
But having an excess of anything in the kitchen is great for fueling the fires of recipe development. Because who wants to eat the same old squash soup for the next 3 months. Not me. That’s for sure. So that’s how I landed on my new current obsession: Open-Faced Butternut Squash and Apple Sandwiches with Fried Sage Leaves.
There isn’t a single thing about this sandwich that I don’t just completely love. You really can’t go wrong with bread, cheese, apples and roasted butternut squash. And to make them just a little more over the top, I finished them off with some fried sage leaves and a drizzle of honey. It’s a whole lot of autumn all in one place.
Serve these with a side salad for a satisfying lunch or a vegetarian dinner. Or easily turn them into appetizers for your next party by assembling all of the ingredients on smaller baguette slices for a fall-theme crostini.
This month I participated in the October Kitchen Challenge hosted by Lindsay over at Love and Olive Oil. The challenge this month: Saltwater Taffy. I was excited to try this challenge because I had never made Saltwater Taffy before (although I’ve eaten plenty of it in my day!) and because October is the month of all things sticky and sweet.
Making your own taffy isn’t particularly complicated. There are very few ingredients and only a handful of steps. But the part that makes this challenging is cooking the sugar. If you have ever made your own confections at home, then you know that you can quickly go from making a delicious sugary syrup to something burnt, hard and unappetizing. An accurate thermometer is a must here. I cooked my sugar to the “hard-ball stage” and it was plenty firm and chewy. But some recipes I found cooked theirs to the “soft-crack stage”, which will result in a harder piece of taffy. I didn’t cook a batch of taffy to the soft-crack stage so I can’t say this definitively, but I suspect the resulting candy would have way been too hard for me, so I’m glad I stopped at the hard-ball stage.
The fun part about making your own taffy is getting to pull it. Pulling the taffy aerates it, making it lighter and chewier. Although I have to admit it was tough work! My arms were pretty sore by the end. But I just kept telling myself all that “exercise” was going to help off-set the taffy I would eventually be eating. To be able to pull and stretch the taffy you have to GENEROUSLY butter your hands. And that right there was one thing that I knew would be particularly challenging for me. I know that must sound strange and silly. But I really dislike being messy and dirty. When I’m working in the kitchen I always keep everything (including myself) neat and clean. In the end, the whole hand buttering experience wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be. But I didn’t get any process photos of the pulling to show you guys (butter + camera don’t mix well) – sorry!
I flavored my taffy with butterscotch (holy cow – delicious!). But you can use whatever flavored extract you want – peppermint, vanilla, maple, orange, etc. And you can add a few drops of food coloring too. It’s all about having fun and being creative!
Recipe slightly adapted from The Science of Cooking