Fall

figtomatosaladIt's September. Summer's over.

I'm probably the only person in San Diego who isn't sad that September has arrived. Why? Because September is the start of fresh fig season, and you simply can't be sad when you see fresh figs.

Figs are a sensual fruit. Their velvety soft skin emits a sweet, floral fragrance and often splits with juicy ripeness. They are the prized jewels of farmers' markets, and nowadays most major supermarkets sell them as well.

Figs are highly perishable, so buy them when you know you'll eat them in a couple of days. Otherwise, it's best to store them in an air-tight container lined with paper towel in the refrigerator for up to three days. Don't worry though. They'll never last that long. I don't care what the weather is like this September. As long as I have my fresh California figs, I'm good.

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porkapples.jpgThis is the time of year when pork and apples are synonymous with the cooler weather. What is it that makes us crave a dish like this in the Fall? It must be apple season, my favorite time of year. I am so glad to have the Honeycrisp apples back in the stores, they are truly my favorite.

Pork cutlets are also perfect for family dinners. Kids seem to love them because they are mild and can be flavored mildly to their liking. They also take a very short time to cook, which means they will not turn into rubber. I like to keep pork cutlets in the freezer, they thaw quickly and meld easily with any sauces or gravies you might have on hand. Its perfect for those nights when time is of the essence.

This recipe makes enough for leftovers the next day.Take it to work with you in microwavable tupperware or slip the pork between two slices of bread for an awesome sandwich. The pork and the apples reheated well the next day.

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Image What cooking method can be more primal than roasting? When humans discovered fire, it was by roasting over an open pit. Today we simulate this method of indirect cooking in the oven, achieving the best taste by concentrating flavors, retaining interior moisture, and creating a beautiful brown exterior. In gastronomy-speak, this caramelization is known as the Maillard reaction, which is the basic chemical reaction all food undergoes when cooked. But the cavepeople didn't care how sugars reacted with amino acids, all they knew was that fire made things taste good.

I often roast almost anything during the autumn months. Once October comes, roasting is my favorite activity. Meats are of course among the favorite items to roast. Just think of a luscious roast chicken or roast beef. But many seem to forget that pork and vegetables also make wonderful roasts.

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appletartjeApple pie, apple crisp, apple turnovers, apple tart, apple sauce, apple cider—it's the season for apples. I can't think of a better way of enjoying it other than by baking with apples. Who doesn't love a classic apple pie this time of year?

They're worth making from scratch—the dough, the subtly spiced apple filling, warm out of the oven. But when you want to quickly put together an apple dessert, a pie just takes too much attention. That's when this simple tart comes in to play.

Based on a French apple tart, which is made with a pastry dough bottom, this recipe uses store-bought puff pastry instead. It's a shortcut that's worth making. The crisp puff pastry, soft apples, and sweet almond filling all come together to make one amazing dessert that's impressive enough to fool anyone into thinking it took all of your time.

Typically the classic recipe would use applesauce as a base under the apple slices, but that would make this puff pastry tart incredibly soggy. So, instead this recipe uses almonds, sort of like a frangipane tart.

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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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