Simple Croissants

Croissants may well be the most recognizable French pastry. I definitely couldn’t write a book on French baking and not include them. I did, however, want to see if it is possible to bake a croissant at home that is both delicious, and yet uses an easier, quicker method than the traditional one. What I have come up with is like a rough puff pastry with added yeast, which results in a wonderful homemade croissant. It is also a very useful dough to have in your repertoire—it can be used to make all kinds of Danish pastries as well as the wonderful Kouign Amann.

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Gateau Au Chocolat

This cake has a simple decoration, but hiding underneath its coat of chocolate are multiple layers of chocolate sponge cake, sandwiched together with a rich dark chocolate mousse. It is a cake with plenty of elegance and the strength of flavor to back it up. You need to freeze it before glazing, so it’s great if you need something that can be mostly prepared ahead of time.

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I love this soup. Its funny, for the Food Network cooking show we'd bought tons of squash to decorate the set and I thought, 'What feels like winter?' Winter vegetables, and of course, tons of pumpkins. We had just gone to the store and we cleaned them out, we got every pumpkin they had. We put them all over the house and put bows on them. When the show was over, I had all this squash, and of course I had to cook it. After a couple weeks of squash this and squash that, my husband and my son were like, 'Please, no more!' But there was more. I hate wasting food. We're a member of a vegetable collective that delivers locally grown produce once a week. During the fall and winter months, every single week, there's another butternut squash in our package. This butternut squash soup was one of the last squash things I made before the season for them was over, and it was such a victory. Even though they were sick of squash, my husband and son both ate it: it was that good. I add cream to the soup but it's also delicious without it. MAKES ABOUT 4 QUARTS OR ENOUGH FOR 8 SERVINGS

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