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Spruce Up Your Table With Fall Flavors

butternut squash soup food for all fall

Beautifully dressed butternut squash soup at Castle Hill Inn.

(Photo: Castle Hill Inn)

Ah, autumn – the season of pumpkin spice everything. But along with the fall gourd, apples and squash are also in season.

There are so many possibilities when it comes to cooking with fall’s bounty. Since you might soon be apple picking at the orchard or pumpkin picking at the farm, fresh ingredients won’t be far from your reach.

Here are some ideas for using them from chefs at AAA Diamond Rated restaurants.

A Hearty Squash Dish

Pierogies are usually filled with potatoes or ground meat. Fill yours with squash instead. Executive chef Bill Telepan from Oceana, a AAA Four Diamond restaurant in New York City, mixes squash with onion, garlic and creme fraiche or sour cream to make a filling. Once the pierogies are filled, sealed and cooked, he tops them with a sauce made of butter, parsley and toasted walnuts. Then he drizzles them with a balsamic reduction and red wine vinegar.

Ingredients

For the dough:
6 eggs
3 tablespoons water
5 cups flour
1½ teaspoons salt

  1. Mix wet ingredients.
  2. Mix dry ingredients.
  3. Mix the wet and dry ingredients together on a mixer on low speed.
  4. When ball of dough is loosely formed, use your hands to complete forming the ball.
  5. Return the dough to the mixer and knead on low speed for 5 minutes.
  6. Let the dough rest for at least 30 minutes.

For the filling:
½ stick (2 ounces) butter
¼ onion, minced
1 small clove garlic, minced
3 cups cooked squash, squeezed dry
1/3 cup creme fraiche or sour cream
Salt and pepper, to taste

  1. Melt butter in a pot over a medium flame.
  2. Add onion and garlic and cook until tender (about 5-7 minutes).
  3. Add squash and stir continuously until dry.
  4. Cool completely.
  5. When cool, mix in the creme fraiche and season with salt and pepper.
  6. Roll out the dough into very thin sheets (less than 1/8 inch).
  7. Using 4-inch cutter, cut out 48 circles.
  8. Spoon about 1 tablespoon of filling onto half of the circle.
  9. Brush the edges of the circle with a little bit of water.
  10. Fold the dough over the filling to form a crescent.
  11. Seal the edges by pressing them down with small fork.
  12. Refrigerate.

To finish the pierogies:
2 ounces balsamic vinegar
2 ounces red wine vinegar
6 ounces butter
1 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
4 tablespoons chopped parsley

  1. Place vinegars in a pot and reduce by half over medium heat. Set aside.
  2. Cook pierogies in lightly salted, boiling water. Once they float to the top, continue to boil for about 2 minutes.
  3. Drain and set aside.
  4. In 4 batches, melt ¼ of the butter, add the pierogi top-side down and lightly brown to crisp. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Flip over and brown the other side quickly.
  6. Take out the pierogies with a slotted spoon and let drain on a paper towel.
  7. Add ¼ of the walnuts and parsley to the butter. Toss and remove them to a small pot.
  8. Repeat 3 times.
  9. When finished, plate pierogies onto a warm platter, spoon the warm walnut-parsley butter mixture over them, then drizzle with the vinegar reduction.

An Apple a Day

Executive chef Lou Rossi, of the AAA Four Diamond restaurant at Castle Hill Inn in Newport, R.I., uses fresh apple juice in his butternut squash soup. Squash, onion, carrot, celery and potatoes form the base, while sage, nutmeg, cinnamon and cardamom give it that distinct fall flavor. He adds freshly squeezed Granny Smith apple juice, salt and pepper when the soup is cooked, then blends the soup until smooth, strains it and finishes it with apple cider vinegar.

Ingredients

4 pounds roasted butternut squash
8 ounces unsalted butter
2 tablespoons fall spice mix, divided
1 yellow onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 stalk of celery, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 quarts chicken or vegetable stock
2 Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced
½ cup fresh Granny smith apple juice
Salt and pepper, to taste
Apple cider vinegar, to taste

For fall spice mix:
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons dried sage
2 tablespoons ground cloves
2 tablespoons dark chili powder
2 tablespoons ground coriander
2 tablespoons ground allspice
1 tablespoon ground cardamom
1 tablespoon ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Peel the butternut squash and cut lengthwise.
  3. Clean out the pulp and seeds, and then dice the squash into 1-inch pieces. Melt 2 ounces of butter and add to a mixing bowl with the diced squash, 1 tablespoon of fall spice mix and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.
  4. Roast on a baking sheet pan for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
  5. In a large stockpot or saucepan, melt the remaining butter until it begins to foam. Add the diced onions, carrots, celery and garlic and cook on medium heat for 8 minutes, stirring frequently.
  6. Season with 1 tablespoon of fall spice and cook for additional 5 minutes.
  7. Add the chicken or vegetable stock and diced potatoes. Bring to a simmer, then add roasted squash.
  8. Continue to cook for 20 minutes, reducing the heat to a gentle simmer. Add the apple juice, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  9. To finish, puree the soup in a blender until smooth, being sure to strain the soup through a fine mesh sieve. Carefully add the apple cider vinegar to taste; you may not need a lot.

Pump up a Bisque

Inspired by pumpkin spice? Try pumpkin bisque. Chef Chris Coombs from Deuxave, a AAA Four Diamond restaurant in Boston, sprinkles brown sugar, salt, pepper, nutmeg, cinnamon and allspice on a pumpkin before roasting it. He blends the cooked flesh with heavy cream to make the bisque. For an extra dollop of fun, he whisks together whipping cream, vanilla extract, sugar, cinnamon, allspice and salt for a spiced whipped cream that makes a sweet topping.

Ingredients
(serves 4-6)

1 3-pound pumpkin (or 32 ounces of canned pumpkin)
2 tablespoons canola oil
3 tablespoons brown sugar (loose or packed depending on desired sweetness)
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon freshly grated or ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground allspice
1 Spanish onion, sliced thinly
2 small garlic cloves, peeled
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, divided
1 cup heavy cream

For spiced whipped cream:
½ cup whipping cream
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon sugar
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon allspice
Pinch of salt

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Split pumpkin in half with a large chef’s knife. Scrape out all seeds using a sturdy spoon and discard seeds and pulp.
  3. Rub pumpkin inside and out with canola oil, then lightly sprinkle the inside with brown sugar, salt, pepper, nutmeg, cinnamon and allspice.
  4. Place pumpkin halves on a cookie sheet with the skin side down. Fill cavities with sliced onion, garlic and butter. Cover with foil.
  5. Roast for 45 minutes, or until fork runs easily through flesh.
  6. Remove from oven and cool for 5 minutes.
  7. With a rigid spoon, scrape the pumpkin flesh, onion, garlic and natural juices into a bowl. Discard the skin.
  8. Blend cooked pumpkin mixture in blender for 2 minutes on high, or until smooth. Add 1 cup of heavy cream and blend just until mixed. Serve immediately. (Optionally, top with spiced whipped cream).

To make spiced whipped cream:

  1. Whisk together whipping cream, vanilla extract, sugar, cinnamon, allspice and salt in a mixing bowl until soft peaks form.

What are your favorite fall-inspired recipes? Tell us in the comments below!

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