November: Blackberry and hazelnut cakes, or “as fall befell me”

November: Blackberry and hazelnut cakes, or “as fall befell me”

Forgive the radio silence. I’ve been out in the world where the trees are gold and jokes about pumpkin spice lattes abound.

October brought us to bid an inevitable seasonal “see you later” to the local farm, Brooklyn Grange. One of the last weekends was rained out, but we picked up our veggies downstairs in Coffeed. I snagged the most breathtakingly fragrant bunch of basil and made Crystal a dinner of spaghetti with sweet corn, roasted butternut squash, zucchini, purple caulifower, and goat cheese. A couple of days later, I toasted the squash seeds in vegan butter and garlic and sprinkled them on an arugula salad and some toast with the last of the goat cheese and basil.

On our last visit to the the farm, we lucked out and got a carton of fresh eggs that just about made my whole week. Fate also pointed me to fairytale eggplants. Small, sweet, and pretty to boot. We’ve very enthusiastically signed up for next year’s Brooklyn Grange CSA.

In other news, finally getting around to a silly idea we’d been tossing around all year, Malvina and I celebrated our 25th anniversary as best friends and soul mates. We roped our parents into the ridiculous notion of marking this occasion with a fancy dinner out, and they indulged us. On the 25th of October (the date being pure coincidence), we toasted to our twenty-five years together and as many more as our lives will allow. We’ve been partners since before we had coherent thoughts, and we wouldn’t know how to live any other way. And so we got all dolled up and our moms and dads treated us to dinner at Parkside in Corona. I ate my first oyster and Malvina drank her first Margarita; she couldn’t decide between salt or no salt so I convinced the waiter to go half and half. (For those keeping score, the salted half of the rim won her affections.)

Where was mizuna all my life?

On the kitchen front, I’ve mostly just grown obsessed with making salads. I found my new favorite easy-to-make lemon-mustard vinaigrette and with all the heaps of greens at the market, I’ve been in salad heaven.

Speaking of new favorites, Jon stumbled upon a new Sanrio cartoon character that makes my heart flutter. Do yourself a favor and search Gudetama on Youtube. He’s an adorable lazy little egg that I adore. He inspired me to dress up as an egg for Halloween. (Jon was the Devil; work the pun out for yourself.) Halloween festivities went down at my cousin Tommy’s. He and his girlfriend Emily had decked out the place in exceptionally spooky style, right down to a delicious prosciutto-wrapped skull. The morning after, I turned my croissant into two little conical hats for a couple of bewitching breakfast tortillas.

October was a month to remember. We’re not quite halfway through November but it’s kept up the pace so far. We started out the month driving up to Big Indian for my friend Kelly’s wedding. It was the perfect Halloween weekend wedding and the perfect celebration of their love, from the Nightmare Before Christmas décor to the first dance to Metallica’s “Nothing Else Matters.” I may have been shivering on the outside, but my heart was warm. (Side note: On the drive back, we refueled with our only rest stop option, McDonald’s fries and soda. They were disgusting. After reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma for the past month, I can confidently say “never again.”)

And finally, last weekend, we had my family over for dinner for Dad’s birthday. The fact that Dad had a sudden tooth infection that day put a bit of a damper on things, but I’ll consider it a sign of overall success that it didn’t stop him from asking for seconds. His one explicit request had been pizza, and we delivered. (No pun intended.) We took this as an opportunity to introduce the family to our local Astoria wonder, Milkflower. We picked up five pies, a couple of orders of meatballs, and an order of their amazing blistered shishito peppers. Mom brought over a delicious Thanksgiving recipe test-run, Giada De Laurentiis’ turkey and cranberry ravioli. And to round things out, I made a huge salad of mixed chicory greens, watercress, and tangy sorrel from the market.

For dessert, I hopped back into Notes from the Larder, which yes, I am fully aware I skipped last month. As you can see, I’ve been distracted lately by that thing we call “every day.” This month’s recipe was blackberry and hazelnut cakes. Tasty little guys (I had the last one for breakfast this morning), but I don’t think I’ll be breaking out this recipe often. My heart nearly stopped when I portioned out the butter. But it gave me a chance to use the adorable mini-bundt pan Grandma gave me. These cakes came out super cute, and Jon and I were giddy to find that I’d saved just enough garnish blackberries completely by accident.

The last berry went on and the doorbell rang. I love family dinners.