Some of our (many!) favourite things about Sarah Addison Allen’s delicious new novel First Frost are the magical dishes cooked up by Claire Waverley. Since Sarah has handily included the step-by-step recipes in the book, we thought we’d share these winter warmers with you here. Do show us pictures of the finished product if you give any of these a go!
Fig and Pepper Bread
2 cups wholegrain spelt flour
2 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
2 tsp sea salt
2 tsp coarse black pepper
1 dry yeast packet
2 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 cups of warm water
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped figs
1. Whisk flour, salt, pepper, and yeast until blended (by hand or with mixer’s whisk attachment).
2. Add olive oil and warm water. Knead for 10 minutes or use hook attachment of mixer for 5 minutes, until dough is smooth and springy.
3. Oil a large bowl, place dough inside, and cover bowl with a damp hand towel. Let sit in a warm place for approximately 1 hour, or until dough has doubled in size.
4. Softly knead in the chopped figs and evenly distribute throughout the dough (lightly flouring your hands can make handling the dough easier), shape into an oval, then place on a baking sheet.
5. Snip three shallow lines into top of the dough with scissors, then lightly dust the dough with flour.
6. Let rise, uncovered, until dough swells a little more, 10–15 minutes, or longer if the kitchen isn’t warm.
7. Place tray in 350 °F oven for 40–45 minutes until crust is slightly brown and the loaf sounds hollow when tapped on the underside.
8. Cool on a wire rack.
Roasted Red Pepper Soup
1 large sweet onion, chopped
2 tsp butter
1 tsp minced garlic
2 jars (15 1/2 oz.) roasted sweet red peppers, drained
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup half-and-half
1. In a large saucepan, sauté onion in butter for 2–3 minutes until tender. Add garlic and mix well. Stir in red peppers, broth, basil, and salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Cool slightly.
2. In a blender, cover and process soup in batches until smooth. Remove 1 cup to a small bowl; stir in half-and-half. Return remaining purée to pan. Stir in the half-and-half mixture; heat thoroughly (do not boil).
Pumpkin Seed Brittle
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup water
1/8 tsp fine sea salt
3/4 cup raw green (shelled) pumpkin seeds (not toasted; 4 oz.)
1. Bring sugar, water, and salt to a boil in a heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Let boil until soft-ball stage (238°F on a candy thermometer), approximately 10 minutes.
2. Remove from heat and stir in seeds with a wooden spoon, then continue stirring until syrup crystallizes, 3–4 minutes.
3. Return pan to medium heat, this time stirring constantly until sugar melts completely and turns a deep caramel color, 4–5 minutes more (seeds will be toasted).
4. Carefully pour hot caramel mixture onto a large sheet of parchment paper and cover with another sheet. Immediately roll out (between sheets of parchment) as thinly as possible with a rolling pin, pressing firmly.
5. Remove top sheet of parchment and immediately cut brittle into pieces with a heavy knife or pizza wheel. Cool brittle completely, then peel paper from bottom. (Alternately, break brittle into pieces once cool.)