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A Fall Worth Falling For

Posted: by in Culinary Delights, Culinary Trends

Have you noticed that fall seems to be the season when cooks turn back towards the tried and true recipes that are all about tradition, warmth and comfort? Then comes winter and there’s more of grandma’s meatloaf, mom’s pot pie, dad’s stew then there’s the Hanukah and/or Christmas feasts and, dare I say it–it’s just so much of the same ol’ stuff! But why oh why should being innovative in the kitchen, proudly forging new culinary paths be reserved for the spring and summer months? This time around, I say forget that!

Let’s make this fall interesting and leave tradition off until Thanksgiving, shall we? Up until then, it’s all about experiencing fall flavors in different ways. Are you with me?

To get the creative juices flowing, I looked at all the great produce the season has to offer, then I went through previous blog posts and combed through all the new and interesting recipes and ideas I’ve picked up or dreamed up. Call if a work in progress since I’m sure there will be more ideas for fall coming your way shortly.

Figs

I’m absolutely hooked on figs right now.

If you’ve got fresh figs then you absolutely must try topping your burger with roasted fig. As far as I know, chef and owner of the Father’s Office gastro-pub, Sang Yoon was the first to do it. Slice figs in half and roast on wax paper lined baking sheet at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. If you like juicier figs, then oven-roast them in a glass pan. Toss with a little honey, brown sugar and thyme or sage and a dab of olive oil. Stir well and cover with foil. Place in oven at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.

Fig ice cream is another fine way to go! I recently went to a much raved about Michelin starred restaurant and everything was great except for the homemade fig ice cream which sounded oh-so-great but it just didn’t have enough of that figgy-flavor. If you’re going to do it, do it right by golly or by gosh. Chances are this means upping the ratio of figs to cream or milk and also making a syrup. More on making your own ice cream here. Also consider layering the fig with others that are along the same flavor profile like dates, tamarind, dried plums and other earthy fall flavors. 

I recently saw something about sea salt ricotta ice cream with salted caramel on twitter. Made me think of fig and ricotta ice cream which I haven’t gotten around to making just yet, anyone? Why not swirl some honey into it too?

Just want something quick and delicious? Try this!

Quince

quince
Quince is one of those late summer, early fall fruits that almost no one knows what to do with! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen them proudly displayed in wreaths or decorative bowls of fruit! Let’s start eating them, shall we? Take that nice apple galette you’re making and top it with mandolin-sliced quince. Just a little bit goes a long way. Or, you can quarter these adorable little fruits and cook them in a saucepan with some sugar and then serve atop vanilla or caramel ice cream. You’ll find the quince flavor is very distinctive and festive. I think it would also make a great cordial which you can make simply by reducing it down and adding to liquor later. It’s also noteworthy for chutney and is said to have been the original fruit for marmalade. How about zucchini quince bread or plum quince preserves? Then there’s this amazing Greek quince beef stew you can make.

pumpkin

Pumpkin

Did you know pumpkin makes a great accompaniment to beef? That’s right, you can go savory with it and make a quick, very easy stir fry that’s full of carotenes, vitamin A, fiber and even vitamin C!

Whether you want to whip it up into a nice turmeric and pumpkin soup or to a stir-fry or maybe mash it up with potatoes, you’ll probably want to roast it first. Select a smaller pumpkin, since those tend to be more flavorful. Slice it in half, vertically i.e. from top to bottom. Use a melon baller or any spoon with a hard edge to scoop out the seeds and pith. Place the pumpkin halves in a glass pan with the open halves facing down. Add one inch of water to the pan to prevent scorching. Roast at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes. Pumpkin is ready when a fork slides through easily. Let cool for ten minutes. You can scoop out large portions of the pumpkin and slice as you like, in long strips or cubes. For stir-fry, season pumpkin with a little salt and olive oil. Sesame seed oil is nice too. Marinade beef in vinegar, soy sauce and a touch of sugar. Add to hot wok. Cook for three minutes, then add pumpkin and sliced green onions. Green beans and bamboo shoots are other nice additions.

More pumpkin recipes:

Pumpkin Mac and Cheese
Pumpkin Cheesecake Cupcakes
Pumpkin Pie and Bread (When you must)

Brussels Sprouts

How do you maximize on the Brussels Sprouts’ great flavor without having to deal with the dense texture that often makes them hard to cook? Answer: shave the suckers! Yup! If you’re so lucky Trader Joe’s just might have them pre-shredded. If not, put on a slicing glove and slice them on a mandolin slicer. Vertical slices will give you the nicest shreds. From there you can make a great Brussels Sprouts slaw or fry them with some bacon and balsamic and season with red pepper. If you’re feeling really frisky, top with a poached or fried eggs and heck, throw it on top of some polenta. Sunday morning brunch anyone?

Multicolored cauliflower in green, purple and white.

Cauliflower

Probably the best and weirdest cauliflower dish I had this past year was the vegan cauliflower raisin dip. Sounds not-good, right? True enough but it was terrific! Alas, I haven’t been able to find the recipe but the raisins were definitely blended right in with the cauliflower, giving it a nice balance and tinge of sweetness. I’m pretty sure the cauliflower was roasted too.
Here’s another recipe that makes use of the same ingredient, albeit in a different way.

Also, here’s an earlier blog post full of lots and lots of stuff you can do with cauliflower. It’s a really versatile, interesting and healthy vegetable, so see what you can do!
ensaymada

Sweet Potatoes

I love sweet potatoes and yams and all that! I’m a sucker for sweet potato pie and that yam and marshmallow thing too but this year, I’m opting for sweet potato cookies, cakes and breads! The earthy flavor works well with allspice, nutmeg and cinnamon and so anything that’s good with carrots or pumpkin will work with sweet potato. My force de triumph will be giant Cinnabon-looking rolls called Ensaymada (Ensaïmada) which originated in Majorca, Spain. Typically these are filled with either sweet bean paste or sharp cheddar cheese. Both are heavenly. For my rendition, I’m going to sweeten up the sweet potatoes and I’ll add some sharp cheddar to for a nice pop of sharp and sweet. Raisins and sweet potato with lots of cinnamon are another way to go. 

Or you can always make fries!

Happy Eating for fall everyone!

Until next time!



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