Sunday, September 27, 2015

On the Homefront: Autumn Leaves Table

An oak leaf wreath and hurricane candle holder with a cutout leaf
design (both from Crate and Barrel a few years ago) create a focal
point at the head of the table.

Fall is officially here, and I wasted no time setting a table with my new Mikasa Autumn Nights dinnerware!  It is even more lovely than I expected, and it will stay out on my dining room table for the season, only to be moved when I set a new table for the blog or the next holiday.

Dark brown wooden bead place mat; bronze leaf cutout place mat (from Bed, Bath & Beyond several years ago); Mikasa Autumn Nights dinner plate, dessert plate, soup bowl, and mug; autumn leaves napkin (from HomeGoods this year); leopard spots flatware (from a catalog so long ago I don't remember which one); autumn leaves water glass and goblet (from Kroger a couple of years ago).

Glass leaf candle plate and leaf-shaped candle from HomeGoods this year.

The yellow leaf platter (from HomeGoods this year) will hold the
bundt cake, while the two small leaf plates (which I have had for so long
I don't remember where I got them) will hold tea bags and turbinado sugar
cubes for tea or coffee.  The moose is actually a cream pitcher!

The menu for this table will feature autumn harvest produce, including pumpkin, butternut squash, and apple cider.  Since there is a chill in the air now, warm and comforting foods are in order, so hot cider, soup, warm sandwiches, and coffee or tea with dessert will be served.  My bruschetta is based on two different recipes, Fall Bruschetta and Roast Autumn Veg Bruschetta (I just took the parts I liked best from each one).  I drink tea, not coffee, and my tea of choice for this meal will be one of my very favorites, Bigelow's Cinnamon Stick Black Tea.

Autumn Harvest Menu:

Hot Apple Cider
Pumpkin Bean Soup*
Roasted Autumn Vegetables Bruschetta**
Coffee or Tea

1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin purée
1 can (14 oz.) unsweetened coconut milk
1 can (15 oz.)  cannellini beans, rinsed and drained (I used low-sodium)
1 can (14 oz.) vegetable or chicken broth (I used unsalted)
1 tsp. dried sage
2 T. maple vinegar
1 T. sauce from canned chipotles in adobo sauce
1 T. honey mustard
salt and pepper to taste (I used 1/2 tsp. salt)
pumpkin seeds for garnish (optional)

Combine the first five ingredients in a medium saucepan and heat through.  Stir in the vinegar, adobo sauce, and mustard.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Ladle into bowls and garnish with pumpkin seeds if desired.  Serves 4.

Notes: Use sherry or balsamic vinegar if you do not have maple vinegar.  Because I keep salt to a minimum in my dishes, I added the adobo sauce and honey mustard for more flavor, but these are optional if you use more salt than I do.

**Roasted Autumn Vegetables Bruschetta

2 bell peppers, any color, deseeded and sliced
1 onion, sliced
1 small eggplant, cut into small chunks
2 C. diced butternut squash
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1/2 tsp. salt
pepper to taste
3 T. olive oil
1 ciabatta loaf, cut in half lengthwise
1 clove garlic, peeled
1 C. ricotta cheese
basil leaves, torn or roughly chopped (optional)
balsamic vinegar

Combine the vegetables with the cumin seeds, salt and pepper, and 2 T. olive oil in a shallow roasting pan, lined with heavy duty foil if desired for easier cleanup.  Toss to coat the vegetables with the oil.  Roast at 425 degrees for 20-25 minutes, tossing once halfway through the cooking time, until the squash is just tender.  Remove from the oven and set aside.

Cut each ciabatta loaf half into quarters.  Sprinkle with the remaining oil and place on a baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for 8-10 minutes until golden.  Rub each piece with the garlic clove.

Toss the torn basil leaves with the roasted vegetables.  Spread the toasted ciabatta pieces with about 1 tsp. of ricotta cheese and top with 1-2 tsp. of the vegetables.  Sprinkle with a little balsamic vinegar.  Serves 4.

Notes: Instead of rubbing the bread with garlic, I used garlic-infused olive oil instead of plain olive oil before baking.  I had Black Maple Magic Balsamic Vinegar and drizzled on a generous amount of that.  Yum!  If you can find it, get yourself a bottle.  If not, sherry vinegar would also be a good choice.  If you can find ciabatta rolls, they are even more convenient than the loaf form -- less slicing for this lazy cook, and just the right serving size!

The candy on the table today is a big earthenware bowl full of miniature Twix candies, because "Twix" sounds like "twigs", and leaves are found on twigs!  Besides, who doesn't love a cookie, caramel, and chocolate combination?

Even the dining room credenza gets a touch of fall décor:

Sweet Dalmatian Maple is so excited that her favorite season
has finally arrived!

I'm looking forward to the cooler temperatures, the colorful leaves, and the fun holidays of autumn!

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