It’s time again for color dinners, and what better color to celebrate October with than…orange! The color of pumpkins! And squash – acorn, banana, butternut, carnival, delicata, kabocha, spaghetti, turban. And, too, apricots and carrots, melon, sweet potatoes, oranges and persimmons and honey. Gorgeous autumn orange.
October 21st happened to also be Ms. Erin’s birthday, so to celebrate we made carrot cake and, on a cheesy-birthday-tip, homemade cheezits! (Yes, we know orange cheddar is dyed, but we decided that just this once, as we weren’t the ones wielding the dye, it was not in violation of Rule Number One: No Artificial Dyes.) We also couldn’t resist the tiny neon orange peppers at the McCarren greenmarket, so we added those at the last minute, too. Orange deliciousness.
And so, to feast!
color dinner no. 4: orange
Cheezits! They look like the real thing, no? We borrowed Smitten Kitchen’s recipe for cheese straws, adding a bit more cream for a more pliable dough. We cut the squares using a fluted pastry cutter and poked the requite holes with a chop stick. Voila!
For the neon orange peppers, we made stuffing from couscous (cooked in a broth for some extra flavor), chopped almonds, sliced dried apricots and crumbly feta. We sliced off the top of the peppers and hollowed out the seeds and membranes, and cooked the peppers in an oven at 400F for about 15 minutes before stuffing them and returning them to the oven for another 20 minutes. They lost a bit of their brightness in cooking, but we delicious nonetheless.
Continuing in the tradition of colored pasta (albeit a one-dinner-old tradition, begun in August with red…), we made some orange pasta sheets with Gabbi in advance of the dinner. We may have gotten a little carried away, thinking about orange and about Halloween, and ended up with…doodle noodles!
In both cases we started with a basic egg pasta, with one egg to each cup of flour. To orange we added blended roasted red peppers and water until we achieved the color and consistency we wanted, and to black, we added squid ink (and water.) After letting the doughs relax for a half hour, we rolled out a small piece of the orange into lasagna-width strips, cut a small piece of the black into spaghetti strips, “drizzled” black onto orange, pressed them together with our hands, and then ran the combo through our pasta machine two more times to seal them well. A word of wisdom: work quickly and in small batches, if not the colors dry and don’t stick well together.
The doodle noodles ended up in a delicious butternut squash lasagna, stuffed with ricotta and fragrant with sage. (Borrowed from Diane Morgan’s The New Thanksgiving Table). Spooky/autumnal awesomeness.
And look! Orange cauliflower!
For our cake, we borrowed a lovely recipe from Smitten Kitchen, frosting it with the classic – beloved – cream cheese frosting (no maple syrup, as SK suggests.)
So much orange!
We considered dying the frosting orange with reduced carrot juice, but were concerned about texture and taste and unfortunately didn’t have much time to experiment. So instead, we made candied carrot ribbons from the brain of Ms. Martha Stewart. Only problem is when we pulled said ribbons out to use them, they’d crystallized into a candied mess. So we improvised.
Also for dessert, candied orange peels dipped in dark chocolate:
Other amazing dishes included shredded carrot fitters with a dollop of sour cream, honest-to-goodness Korean fried chicken with a super spicy dipping sauce, a spicy Moroccan carrot dip, a salad of chickpeas, butternut squash and harrisa, a spicy apple & squash soup and to drink, pumpkin beer, a honey whiskey sour and a desserty mango lassi. Too much eating, not enough photographing. Sorry, folks.