Here are a few things I’ve made recently that would be good additions to any holiday meal: an extra spicy, whole wheat gingerbread, a delicate and moist persimmon cake recipe that doubled as  persimmon chocolate chip muffins, lots of kabocha pumpkin simply roasted in olive oil and salt until super tender and caramelized, and an autumn salad with spinach, red quinoa, pumpkin seeds, apple, and feta.

spicy gingerbread

ingredients

1 1/2 c. whole wheat pastry flour

1 1/4 ts. baking soda

1 1/2 tablespoons ground ginger

1 tablespoon fresh ginger

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon fennel seeds, ground if desired

1 tablespoon orange rind

3/4 ts. salt

1 egg beaten (or 1 tablespoon ground flax seed mixed in 1/4 cup warm water)*

1/2 c. turbinado sugar + extra for topping

1/2 c. molasses (use a fuller flavored  “robust,” un-sulfered or unfiltered molasses if you can)

1/2 c. boiling water

1/2 c. olive oil

directions

preheat 350 degrees

combine dry ingredients into one bowl. in a separate bowl, mix wet in ingredients. combine, then add boiling water last, stirring until smooth.

cook in a loaf pan, cake pan, or whatever you prefer. Bake until golden, coming away slightly from the sides of a pan, and when a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Serve alone, or with lemon curd, lemon or vanilla ice cream, or fresh whipped cream. Also wonderful lightly toasted with coffee or tea and sliced oranges for breakfast.

*note: substituting flax seed for egg will make this recipe vegan. the result is just as delicious, but does not hold together as well

persimmon cake/ persimmon chocolate-chip muffins

adapted from bon apetit

note: this recipe results in a lightly sweet cake or muffin. If you would like a sweeter result, use 1 cup of sugar and/or top with a delicately flavored icing, glaze, or sweetened whipped cream (vanilla, orange zest, and/or nutmeg would be wonderful additions)

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg (freshly ground is best)
  • 4 large, very ripe Hachiya persimmons
  • 1/3 cup yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest
  • 3/4 cup raw sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • chocolate chips (optional)
  • chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

directions

  • Preheat oven to 350°. Grease and flour muffin tin or loaf pan. Tap out excess flour.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together dry ingredients. Set aside.
  • Scoop persimmon flesh from skins into a blender. Purée until smooth. Mix with wet ingredients. Add chocolate chips or nuts if using
  • Pour batter into prepared loaf pan, cake pan, or muffin tins.  Bake until a tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 hour.
  • Let bread cool in pan for 20 minutes. Unmold and let cool completely on a wire rack.

caramelized kabocha pumpkin

ingredients

  • kabocha pumpkin
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt

directions

preheat oven to 400 degrees

cut pumpkin in half, scoop out seeds and cut in thin slices or small chunks (more cuts means more caramelized edges!) drizzle generously with olive oil (about 1/4 cup for an entire small pumpkin) and salt. toss to coat.

roast until very tender and edges are lightly browned and caramelized, about 20 minutes

optional additions: sliced onions, fresh black pepper, hot chile flakes, a couple teaspoons of maple syrup and/or french mustard drizzled over squash for the last 5 minutes

Autumn Salad

makes one large salad

ingredients:

6 cups baby spinach, or mixed greens

one firm, sweet/tart apple, like a Pink Lady or Gala, cored and sliced thinly

pumpkin or squash seeds, roasted with olive oil and salt at 400 degrees until golden brown

1/2 cup crumbled feta (or ricotta salata, or fresh goat cheese)

1 cup leftover quinoa (any variety, I like red the best for salads)

your favorite vinaigrette or mix together 1 tablespoon french mustard, 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, 3 tablespoons of your favorite vinegar, black pepper, and a tiny pinch of sugar until emulsified

Toss greens with most of the dressing, leaving a couple tablespoons to drizzle on top. Arrange quinoa, apple slices, seeds, and cheese on top on dressed greens. Drizzle with remaining  dressing and serve.

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