Photo by Dilyara Garifullina

I’m kicking off fall with ingredients that are the ultimate in cooking comforting, tempting foods that can make for the best autumn ever!

I can’t wait to bake up winter squash. Before baking, the acorn is perfect for cutting in half, scoop, stuff with bread, mushrooms, and herbs; then drizzle with maple syrup and melted butter and add a sprinkle of cinnamon and nutmeg. I use “5 spice powder,” which is a combination of star anise, cloves, Chinese cinnamon (cassia), ground fennel seeds, and ground peppercorns. Use it sparingly. You want to enhance and build flavors, not steal the whole show. No one likes a showoff!

If you’re into pumpkin anything, pumpkin soup, cookies, pies (of course!), sweetbreads, lattes, and beers are options. I think pumpkin is a flavor that requires company, although it’s not particularly fussy about the company that it keeps so jazz it up with spices and other ingredients that make your senses go wild. Pumpkin ales are not my thing, but pumpkin cocktails that include brandy and vodka are. I prefer not to use flavored vodkas. Instead, I add unmodified liquors and play with spices and sweeteners to achieve a designer’s signature.

One more thing about pumpkin. Don’t throw out the “pumpkin guts.” Scoop them into a stockpot along with other remnants of vegetables and cover with water. Boil gently for about 30 minutes. Strain. Use in any manner that you would use vegetable stock. Freeze for future use.

Carrots! I can’t add anything new about carrots. They are the best friend that everyone likes to invite to dinner. Carrots can be boiled, steamed, roasted, pureed, or eaten raw, and people will welcome them. Well, most people. I don’t like carrots, so there’s that. That doesn’t mean we can’t still be friends and add them to my fall menus for other people to enjoy!

In the fall, apples are in abundance. There are many varieties, depending on what you want to make or if you’re going to eat them raw. Like carrots, they are friendly fare and blend well with nearly any recipe or menu. Eating them natural may mean dipping them in caramel sauce or peanut butter. Or pair on a platter with thinly sliced cheese, accompanied with a glass of apple-pear wine. They make great pies and other desserts, but they also complement roast pork, enhance salads, and love to be wrapped in bacon!

Comments are not available on this story.

filed under: