Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Falling Gently In Love

Summer may be a time for passion and exuberance and general shameless raunchiness (oh yeah), but in my opinion, the fall is a time to gently drift into love. Although my hormones may not be the same as they were when I was a horny teenager (thank goodness for that), DH still makes me melt in so many delicious ways. And while my feelings for him are in constant bloom throughout the seasons (that's almost poetic - oh drat, now I've embarrassed him), there's something rather special about standing with your loved one and being enveloped by the beauty of a clear fall day. I know this sounds cliche, but it is incredibly romantic! I never realized what autumn/fall was really all about while I was growing up in the Middle East - where the temperature typically ranges from scorching hot to mildly comfortable. Sure, you know the theory behind the four seasons, because that's what you learn in geography class, and you see the pretty pictures and watch movies. But it never really hits home until you're actually confronted with it. After living in this part of the world for so many years, you do get a little cynical and start thinking of fall in terms of flu vaccines, the back-breaking work of raking leaves, and ridiculously chilly weather when you're still not ready to pack away your sandals. Dear readers, let's all be optimists this time around. Let's stop and stare in amazement at that tree in front of your house that's turned a bright shade of yellow/orange/red seemingly overnight. Let's enjoy the simultaneous cold breezes and warm sun. Best of all, let's embrace the flavors and smells of fall - especially with that special someone who still makes your toes curl (here's lookin' at you, DH).
Mother Nature sprinkles her magic dust all over Connecticut, as bright splashes of yellow, orange and red take over the landscape.

Along Kennedy Drive in the Northeast corner of CT.

Zipping along the famous Route 169 in CT - which claims to be "the last green valley".

This isn't my house, but man o man, you know I wish it was!

Red leaves do more for me than red roses.

Puts me in the mood for something rich and flavorful - and carby of course!

Mushroom Bourguignon With Egg Noodles (this budget-friendly recipe is from Two Spoons, who adapted it from one of my foodie blogger crushes, Deb from The Smitten Kitchen)
Serves 2-4

Click here for printable recipe

2 tbsp olive oil
2-3 tbsp butter
1 lb portobello mushrooms, sliced about 1/4 of an inch thick
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1.5 - 2 cups beef stock
1 tbsp tomato paste
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 tsp of salt (or more, depending on the salt level in your broth)
Freshly ground black pepper
Egg noodles for serving
Sour cream and chopped parsley or chives for garnish

1. Heat half the oil and butter in a large, deep saucepan on medium high heat. Throw in the sliced mushrooms and stir till they are darkened, but do not give off any liquid (about 2 mins). Remove from the pan and set aside.

2. Lower the heat to medium and add the rest of the oil. Saute the carrots and onions with thyme, salt and pepper, until the onions are golden. Add in the garlic and cook for another minute.
3. Add a 1/2 cup of beef stock to the pan, scraping any stuck bits off the bottom. Turn the heat up and let the mixture reduce for 2 mins. Mix in the tomato paste, the rest of the broth and the browned mushrooms. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium low and let the whole thing simmer for 10 mins.

4. Add remaining butter to the pan and sprinkle flour over the top, quickly stirring in. Simmer for another 3-4 mins. Taste, and season further with salt & pepper if needed. To serve, get yourself a bowl of warm, buttery egg noodles, spoon the mushroom bourguignon over the top, and garnish with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkling of chives or parsley.
Verdict: I like how the portobello mushrooms give this vegetarian bourguignon such a meaty feeling. Although, to be honest, I think I prefer the old-fashioned bourguignon, with lots of tender beef! I didn't use any red wine, which is probably why mine doesn't have the same dark, rich color as Deb's. Maybe next time I'll add a little red wine vinegar instead, and punch it up with some cippollini onions - oh yum! But don't knock this mushroom bourguignon till you've tried it. It's light, yet warm and filling, and just perfect for this in-between, crazy, schizophrenic season we love - fall.
It's been a while, but I'm submitting this recipe to Presto Pasta Nights, hosted by the effervescent Girlichef this week.