Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Celebrating Fall...with Dinner.

I love fall. It is my favorite season. Having lived my entire life in New England or central New York state I am mesmerized each and ever year when the trees slowly transform from fields of green to rich pools of reds, yellows, oranges, and browns, while temperatures slowly drop and the air develops a crisp cool bite.
This year is a different story though, it's really come upon me unexpectedly. For me it's been a combination of the weather playing tricks on us and an extremely busy September & October. I managed to carve out enough time to harvest the last of it all and began putting things to bed for the winter. Some leaves and straw here, a nice weeding and digging there.
With garden work winding down and temperatures I turn from growing and eating fresh to savoring the abundance of the fall harvest and enjoying our supply of preserved goods that help us eat real local foods throughout the winter.
This past weekend Gail and I had some friends of ours for a fall (and slightly Jewish) inspired dinner that featured a combination of ingredients harvested from the garden, the Brookline Farmers Market, our stock of frozen and canned goods, and even a little bit from the grocery store (ha!).
It was a wonderful catching up with friends we hadn't seen, and enjoying a delicious meal full of fall flavors.
Fred & Gail's Fall Celebration Dinner:
Snack Plate
  • crackers & herb garlic capri from Westfield Farm.
  • carrots from the garden, fall cucumbers and radish from farms at the brookline farmers market.
  • plain hummus from Samira's Homemade of belmont, ma 
  • green bean & zucchini relish, our first taste of the batch we made back in august.
  • fresh baked rosemary & sage bread with rosemary & sage from the garden.
Dinner
  • Stillman's Farm butternut squash puree 
  • Kimball Farm roasted carrots with thyme and garlic
  • noodle kugel (super market)
  • brisket Au jus and fresh made horseradish. The two (yes there were 2) briskets I made were from River Rock Farm purveyors of fine farm raised natural beef, and home to my absolute favorite burger patties. The fresh horseradish sauce came from the roots I harvested on Friday as part of Monday's final harvest (click the link for a good picture of a big part of the horseradish harvest).

Dessert 
Quite an ambitions meal for a kitchen barely able to fit 2 of us and all our kitchen clutter. I found myself up early for a Saturday morning baking bread and cake in what would prove to be a full day of oven use. The final product was well worth it. Here is a look at the snack plate & main event, followed by recipe info and a few more pics.
No Brisket recipe. I am keeping it a secret because it was passed down to me by Gail's 90-year old grandmother who makes the most incredible brisket I have ever had the pleasure to eat. If I were on death row her brisket would be my final meal. A secret like that is worth keeping.

hummus, cukes/radish/carrot, bread, green bean & zucchini relish, herb garlic goat cheese
kugel, carrots, butternut squash puree, brisket with jus & fresh made horseradish
Recipe Info
Snack Plate
     Green Bean & Zucchini Relish canned in August. Our first taste! It had a really nice subtle flavor. I loved it! (click link for recipe)
     Rosemary & Sage Bread
This bread doesn't require a lot of effort, but it takes some time so save it for the weekend.
3 cups flour
1 packet (1/4 oz) or equivalent instant yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
at least 1 tbsp rosemary
at least 1 tbsp sage
olive oil for brushing
Combine flour, yeast, salt and chopped herbs in a large bowl. Add 1 1/2 cups water and stir until blended; dough will be a little sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest For 4 hours at warm room temperature (I had it on the counter near the oven which was warming up)
Lightly oil a work surface and place dough on it; folding it over onto itself twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest for 30 more minutes.
While resting, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a heavy covered pot ( a 3 1/2 or 4 qt le cruset dutch oven is perfect for this) in oven as it heats.
When the dough is read, carefully remove the hot pot from the oven, drop the dough in, and shake a few times to allow the dough to settle.
Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake an additional 25or 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Brush with olive oil and a gentle sprinkle of salt. 
Let Cool.
Here's a look at the bread fresh out of the oven, brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with a pinch of salt:

Dinner
     Butternut Squash Puree follow the link for the recipe I used. I made this ahead and let it sit in the ceramic casserole dish it was served in. I added a spoonful of maple syrup while it rested, and then set it in the oven while the brisket finished off for about 30 minutes until it was warm.
     Roasted Carrots with Thyme & Garlic from Gourmet Today edited by Ruth Reichl
     Noodle Kugel from the Kosher Gourmet Cookbook
     Horseradish made with roots harvested less then 24 hours earlier from my garden. Standard recipe of grated  horseradish root and a bit of vinegar. I will be posting more about horseradish later.
      Brisket made with care following Charlotte Michaelson Frank's original recipe, which was really great for my first attempt and something I'm really excited to perfect in the future.
Below is a photo of the butternut squash puree & the smaller brisket:

Dessert
   Apple & Honey Cake from Fresh Flavors From Israel
   for a 10 in/26 cm spring-form pan
For the topping:
2 tablespoons oil
1/3 cup brown sugar
3 tart baking apples, peeled, cored, and sliced into 1/4 in slices.
Cake:
3 eggs
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup oil
3/4 cup honey
3/4 cup warm apple juice (I used warm cider)
2 1/3 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
Preparation:
1) Preheat oven to 350 F
2) Prepare the topping:  cover the bottom and walls of the pan with oil. Sprinkle on a uniform coating of the brown sugar. Arrange apples in one dense layer at the bottom of the spring-form pan.
3) Prepare the cake: beat the eggs with the brown sugar for 5 minutes until light and fluffy. Add oil and honey and beat until smooth. Add the warm apple juice (cider) and mix well.
4) In a separate bowl whisk the flour with the baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon , and cloves. Add to the eggs and honey batter and mix until just combined. Once mixed pour batter over pan.
5) Bake for 50-55 minutes until a toothpick comes out dry with a few crumbs sticking. Cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Invert the pan over a large flat serving plate, release the spring and gently lift off the ring. Serve at room temperature.

This time when I made the cake I remembered to adjust the time and temperature for a thicker cake, after I tried this recipe last fall and produced a cake with a very gooey center. This time it was baked to perfection, if anything it was a tad dry. Regardless of that, it certainly looked great:

It was an abundance of delicious food that highlighted many fall flavors. All of us ended the evening with full stomachs and big smiles!
What are you cooking that highlights the flavors and feel of fall??

1 comment:

GrafixMuse said...

Fall seemed to sneak up on me as well this year. One day I was noticing the leaves were beginning to color up and the next I noticed the lawn needed raking. Funny how life zips by sometimes.

Good food and great friends is something to celebrate. Everything sounds so good. Thanks for sharing some great recipes too.