Fall

brusselspearsEat your vegetables! Mom's famous words. Just like everyone else, I too hated many vegetables when I was a kid. Brussels sprouts were at the top of my list with peas not far behind. It was many years later that I realized I couldn't figure out why I hated sprouts. I had never even tasted them, but I was told by other kids that the taste and smell was revolting. But what's the point of hating a food if you haven't even tried it? When I finally did try Brussels sprouts for the first time, I was completely taken aback at how good they were. I was converted and from that point on I think I became the adventurous eater I am today. That's what a little sprout can do to a person.

Roasted or sautéed, Brussels sprouts can be simply amazing. The key to cooking them is to not overcook them. That's when they develop a sulfuric smell and taste. Boiling them does no good either because the good flavors are cooked right out and all that remains is bitterness. Sautéing is the easiest and most rewarding method for cooking sprouts. A little oil, bacon fat, or duck fat is all that's needed to make them taste exceptional. In this recipe, warm sautéed sprouts are brought together with complementary flavors and textures. The crispy Asian pear adds sweetness, the savory bacon crunchiness, and the dressing is a decadent finishing touch. It's the perfect salad for an appetizer or side dish. And leftovers are even better for tomorrow's lunch.

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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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porkpearsPork, pears and cider are a very natural combination, one I love.  This recipe uses "hard" cider (with alcohol) because of its crispness and acidity.  Never had hard cider?  Look for it wherever beer is sold, it might be your new favorite adult beverage. 

It's very, very good and can be purchased year round.  Non-alcoholic apple cider works great too (not the Treetop or Mott's brand...real, fresh apple cider, which is easily found this time of year).

Anyway, this meal is pretty tasty.  The pork tenderloin stays juicy and the pears are pretty incredible too.  Paired with the easy to make wild rice, this meal is always well received at my home with thumbs up from the husband and my oldest son.  My youngest had spaghetti, he will come around one day.

This meal is also company worthy, it's very satisfying and looks and smells incredible while cooking.

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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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pumpkingnocchiIn our house, "Gnocchi" means "I love you".

The time invovled in making the pillowy mixture is minimal, but it is the act of cutting each strip to just the right width...chopping bite sized dumplings and then rolling each one delicately across the ridges of a fork - those repetative moves of delicious intent translates so purely to my husband as he savours one gnocchi at a time.

I have made several verisons of Gnocchi, using potatoes and even squash. Though in keeping with the season of pumpkins and fall delight, I am pleased with this version. The sage and shallots carry a certain melody throughout the dish that can only be thought of as fall.

For a vegetarian, this is the perfect Thanksgiving meal.

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