Fall

Image No, this is not a picture of a sea anemone. It's spaghetti squash. And though my mom doesn't like it, she makes it all the time for my dad since it's his favorite type of squash. Her favorite, by the way, is buttercup. I know this because the three of us have the same conversation every year as if it's a revelation:

Dad: "What did you buy at the farmers' market this week?"

Me: "Some butternut squash."

Mom: "Ooh, yeah? I love butternut squash. But you know what's even better? Buttercup. You should try it."

Me: "Yeah, Mom, I have tried it, but I don't like it as much as butternut."

Mom: "How could you not like buttercup squash?!"

Dad: "You know what the best squash is? Spaghetti squash. Your mother makes it with tomato sauce and cheese. Oh, I love it like that. You should try it."

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applecrispLast week I got a shipment of SweeTango apples to try. New varieties of apples appear up now and again and the SweeTango is a relatively new one that's harvested the end of August and beginning of September. It's a very pretty apple with a bright mix of golden green and bright red.

The SweeTango is a cross between a Honeycrisp and a Zestar apple. Honeycrisp is sweet and crisp and Zestar is juicy and zesty. The cross is a very good eating apple but you can use it for cooking too. It's a juicy apple so it doesn't need additional liquid and is best for recipes that are fairly quick cooking because it gets very soft when cooked.

The SweeTango is perfect for apple crisp, which is super easy to make, easier than pie or even a cobbler. It's the kind of thing that takes only minutes to prepare, then you can pop it in the oven after or even during dinner. The smell of apples, butter and cinnamon might be the best thing about autumn.

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shavedpearsaladPears ... the other fall fruit. Pears just don't seem to get their due respect, taking a back seat to apples, which are the symbolic fall fruit. But pears are exceptional in their own right. And even though they do get compared to apples, pears deserve single attention. If you love pears like I do, you know what I mean. Biting into a ripe, juicy pear is a moment to savor.

Pears are great eaten right out of hand, but they're also great in recipes—in sweet ones, like pies and crisps, but also in savory ones. I particularly like pears in salads, cut into slivers, paper-thin slices, or even roasted. Pear salads make an elegant appetizer for any dinner party, especially if you're celebrating the season like I'm doing. Pears are worth celebrating this season.

In this salad, pears join in with celery, endive, walnuts, bleu cheese, and pomegranate seeds. It's a flavorful combination all tied together by a honey and Dijon mustard vinaigrette. To get the pears so thin, start with very form but ripe pears. Use a mandoline to create the paper-thin slices. You can also cut the pears by hand into thin wedges. Enjoy the season!

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italiansoup.jpgI love making big batches of soup on the weekend. I store some of it in the refrigerator, and the rest I freeze in quart containers for when I need a quick lunch or dinner. I also prefer using homemade chicken stock, which I also keep in the freezer.

Whenever I have a rotisserie chicken from the market, I throw whatever is left in a pot with an onion, celery, some peppercorns and cover with 3 or 4 quarts of water and boil for an hour or two to create a rich and flavorful stock. 

This traditional Italian soup is one of my favorites – it uses mostly basic ingredients, but is so delicious. The flavors intensify as it sits, so it’s even better the next day.

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pomarugulasalad.jpgSometimes lettuce is just not good enough. With its peppery spiciness, arugula has a refreshing bite. In Southern California, even though it gets cold in the Winter, arugula thrives in the year-round sunshine, so we're able to buy fat bunches any time of the year for $1.00/bunch.

Persimmons and pomegranates are more seasonal. When they're all available, our favorite salad is a simple combination of all three. <Suzanne Goin created a complex salad with all these ingredients.  I used her recipe as a starting point, choosing to simplify the ingredients and directions.

The combination of tastes is near perfect: peppery arugula, sweet persimmon, tart pomegranate seeds, and crunchy hazelnuts, all held together by the emulsion of olive oil and reduced balsamic vinegar.

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