Fall Food

As the fall weather really sets in, there is a real comfort in cooking. The pace of life seems to naturally slow down as the weather changes. My family’s eating habits shift as well to very savory, slow-cooked meals.

This year has been a great growing year for my family and our CSA relationship. Although I am still learning to use everything each week, we have added many new recipes to our family’s meal lineup. A change is happening in my son’s eating habits as well, as when the CSA season started, I believe he survived on air. But now he tries most of the food that we give him. He has helped prepare many dishes in the kitchen, and he eats a wide variety of vegetables (lately he’s developed a vendetta against peas though).

Pumpkin is a vegetable that we dove into last year. Up until that point neither my husband nor I had ever actually cooked a pumpkin. Sure, we carved many, but they were decorative, not edible (except of course, the seeds, which I will touch on later). `

Check out this link if you have questions about turning a whole pumpkin into a much better version than the canned stuff: http://chefinyou.com/2009/10/pumpkin-puree-recipe/

Harvest Pumpkin Soup

original source: http://sweetpeaskitchen.com/2011/09/harvest-pumpkin-soup/

Rich and creamy Harvest Pumpkin Soup is sure to warm you up when the air turns crisp.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium onion, minced
2 medium garlic cloves, minced (about 2 tsp)
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth, plus extra as needed
2 cups water
1 (15-oz) can pure pumpkin purée
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup half-and-half
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
Blue cheese crumbles
Toasted walnuts
Pumpkin seeds

Directions:

In a large Dutch oven over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onion and cook until softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the garlic, cumin, coriander and nutmeg and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
Stir in the broth, water, pumpkin and maple syrup and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes, or until the flavors have melded.
Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly before working in batches to purée the soup in a blender until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Return the soup to a clean pot. Stir in the half-and-half. (additional broth may be added as necessary to adjust the soup’s consistency) Heat the soup gently over low heat until hot (do not boil). Season with salt and pepper to taste. Ladle soup into serving bowls and sprinkle with blue cheese crumbles, toasted walnuts and pumpkin seeds.

Nutritional Information per serving (1 cup): 140 calories; 7 grams of fat; 4 grams of saturated fat; 3 grams of protein; 18 grams of carbohydrates; 4 grams of fiber;15 milligrams of cholesterol; 300 milligrams of sodium.

Source: adapted from USA Today originally from Soups, Stews & Chilis

Pumpkin can be turned into ravioli as well (and pasta for that matter)…

Easy Pumpkin Ravioli

Take a small pumpkin and made a puree out of it. On the stovetop add heavy whipping cream to taste (1/2 package or so) and whatever spices you prefer (we like curried spices in this dish, but sweet spices like nutmeg and maple syrup would be tasty too). Make the ravioli out of wonton wrappers, flash boil and saute. The result is delicious!

My husband brews beer for a living, and recently, he brewed a beer in collaboration with other local brewers centered around the theme of pumpkin. Besides using the pumpkin itself, my husband engineered this pumpkin seed recipe to put into the brew. He was hard pressed to get the seeds to the brewery before Gus and I ate them all. They are deliciously sweet and a bit savory! (The seeds that escaped our mandibles ended up ground and put into beer, which I am anxious to try!)

Pumpkin Seeds

Seeds
Coat with 2tbsp maple syrup
Smoke
Remove from smoker
Coat with 2tbsp maple plus a pinch of salt
Spread on greased cookie sheet
Bake at 350* till golden and caramelly, stirring occasionally

We have had so much eggplant this year, and using it has been a great adventure in our house. It  has been the vegetable that we have had the most surprising luck with (neither my husband or I were big eggplant fans to begin with). We found this crockpot recipe that turned out a nice little dish to eat with Naan bread. Albeit, I would recommend this as a side rather than a main course.

Punjambi Eggplant and Potatoes

Original source: http://www.theperfectpantry.com/2011/07/recipe-for-slow-cooker-punjabi-eggplant-with-potatoes.html

Slightly adapted from The Indian Slow Cooker, this recipe serves 8 (can be halved).

Ingredients

2 medium eggplants, stem end removed, cut into 1/2-inch dice (approx. 10-12 cups)
1 large Idaho or Yukon Gold potato, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 medium yellow or red onion, peeled and chopped
1 tsp ginger paste (or grated fresh ginger root)
6 cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
2 jalapeño chiles, seeded and minced
1 Tbsp ground cumin
1 Tbsp ground red chile pepper
1 Tbsp garam masala
1 tsp turmeric
1/4 cup canola oil
1 Tbsp kosher salt, or to taste
1-2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro, to taste

Directions

Combine eggplant, potato, onion, ginger, garlic, jalapeño peppers, cumin, ground chile pepper, garam masala, turmeric and oil in a 4- or 5-quart slow cooker. Stir as best you can to distribute the spices and oil. (The smaller cooker will be frighteningly full, but don’t worry; the eggplant will cook down.) Cook on HIGH for 2 hours, stirring after 1 hour.

After the first two hours of cooking, stir well. There should be a nice amount of moisture in the cooker, and the eggplant should have collapsed a bit. If there is plenty of liquid in the pot, continue cooking on LOW for 30 minutes, uncovered. If there’s not much liquid, cook on LOW for 30 minutes with the cover on.

Add the salt and cilantro, to taste. (Salt added during the cooking will draw more moisture out of the eggplant, so it’s best added at the end.)

Finally we come to a dish that my husband “invented” last year that has been a great way of using up vegetables in a delectably different way. The idea stemmed from my husband’s interest in learning how to make a decent risotto (a dish which takes a bit of care and patience to execute well). Rather than using rice to make a risotto, we decided to go a different route.

Root-sotto

Cube any root vegetables that you have on hand (sweet potatoes, celeriac, carrots, beets, turnips, parsnips, potatoes, even squash works). We also add dried mushrooms (fancy varieties) to the mix.

Place all the vegetables in a saute pan on the stove and cook it while adding chicken (or vegetable, both are tasty) stock to the vegetables. We tend to use between one and 2 quarts depending on the amount of vegetables that we begin with. The idea is to keep adding stock until the vegetables are all cooked to tender. But the result is a sort of “hash”.

Once you are nearly done cooking the dish, stir in a cheese (we prefer aged white cheddar or bleu). Serve.

Thanks for reading this season! Cheers!

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