Fall

autumnsoupRoast em and stew em - that's all there is too em!

I don't know about y'all, but I roast just about everything I can. Veggies, fruit and meats all get nice and toasty and caramelized from high heat and a little salt to draw out the moisture. Roasting veggies has become my MO for getting picky eaters (y'all know who you are) to eat all kinds of veggies. Broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, okra, zucchini, squashes of all sorts and onions too all find their way into the oven and onto plates. Roasted sweet potatoes with rosemary and onion... Oh my my!

I love, love, love vegetable soup. But I have a few stipulations to this stew of sorts. I don't care for potatoes in my veggie soup - can't say why exactly but I don't. Potato soup though is perfectly fine!

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falldinnerI’m not a big hunter. My brother-in-law, cousins, uncle and friends make up for my lack of time spent in a deer stand or duck blind… But, I do love camo – it is surprisingly chic mixed with denim and I’ve seen it sported fashionably (albeit unknowingly) by many a gentleman in The South… and even a lady or two.

As hunting season waxes down here, I couldn’t help but be reminded of a favorite fall dish – my Camo Pasta. This pasta, mixed with Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale and mushrooms is about as fatigue-fashioned as they come. Even the whole wheat noodles join in the camo color scheme.

All melded together, this combo makes for a delicious fall supper and I even love it better the next day – which so many things find themselves better. It is better the next day in my leather chair and Netflix binge-watching… which is where you’ll find me enjoying this dish over the deer stand I’m afraid - ha! 

Here’s to autumn, its colors and hues and flavors – all mixed together in a pasta dish ready for the hunt. Add wild game or chicken or shrimp to your liking. Enjoy y’all!

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pumpkinsoup.jpgPumpkins are as much a part of fall as apples, cider, turning leaves, and chilly weather. The months of October and November call out for pumpkins—just think Jack-o'-lanterns and pumpkin pie! Like their brethren squash, pumpkins work well in countless recipes—and not just sweet desserts but savory dishes too.

Soup is one of my favorite ways to enjoy pumpkin. I make it every October. When I cook pumpkin soup, it officially feels like fall. Flavored with a little nutmeg for warmth and then garnished with pumpkin seeds, it's perfectly comforting. (Don't throw away the pumpkin's seeds, use them in this soup.) A hot bowl of soup always warms me right up.

I start this recipe by roasting the pumpkin. But with the shortage in pumpkins, you could also substitute butternut squash or acorn squash. The base of the soup is a vegetable stock, making it vegetarian-friendly. I like to use my own homemade stock because I can flavor it the way I want. 

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quinceAt first glance — and even, quite frankly, after extended contemplation — there is little to hint that the quince is one of the most delicious of fall's fruits. It is rough-hewn and blocky in appearance, like someone's first woodworking project gone horribly wrong. And should you make the mistake of taking a bite of it raw, that's kind of how it tastes too.

But you know about judging things on first impressions. Take that same quince, give it a little careful tending and you'll find a fruit that is utterly transformed. Cook quince — slowly and gently, bathed in just a little bit of sugar syrup — and the flesh that was once wooden and tannic turns a lovely rose hue, with a silky texture and a subtly sweet, spicy flavor that recalls apples and pears baked with cinnamon and clove.

The traditional way to cook a quince is by poaching it in spiced simple syrup. That's easy enough, but I've come to favor a slightly different technique from my old friend Deborah Madison's cookbook "Seasonal Fruit Desserts." She bakes them in a syrup made partly with white wine and spiced with cinnamon, clove and cardamom along with tangerine or orange zest.

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winepears.jpgPears have a special place in my childhood. When I was a kid, my family would pick pears from the trees in my aunt and uncle's backyard. They always had more pears than they knew what to do with. My aunt made pear sauce, much like apple sauce, and my mom would can the pears to be eaten as compote. We would also eat them raw, when their so sweet, juicy, and buttery. I love them that way, but often enough the ones you buy in the market are not the best to eat out of hand. That's when I like to poach pears to create a unique dessert.

Poaching pears in red wine turns them into glowing red jewels with tender and succulent flesh, flavored by the spiced poaching liquid. Spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, cardamom, or star anise can be added for exotic flavor. Citrus rind or tea leaves, like Earl Grey, also add flavor. The composition is up to you but the cooking method is simple. Once the pears are cooked, the poaching liquid can be reduced to create a syrup. Serve the pears with the reduction sauce and a dollop of crème fraîche for a very elegant dessert that would make a lovely ending to any dinner party.

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