As the weather begins to change, it’s amazing how much our desire for heartier, more rustic and comforting food grows. Now is an opportune time to take advantage of the end-of-summer harvest, as well as the ever-growing and diverse array of fall produce from our local farmers.
Chicken & Harvest Vegetable Soup
Soup – the ultimate comfort food – is easy to reheat, gets better with time and can be quite nourishing and satisfying as a complete meal. This soup begins with whole, all-natural chickens, which are simmered in water with a few vegetables, creating a flavorful broth that can’t be bought. The meat gets picked off the bone and added to a heap of chunky, seasonal vegetables such as acorn squash, carrots, onions, celery, parsnips, turnips and whatever your heart desires. The ingredients are then combined with the flavorful broth. Last, but not least, is some pumpkin puree for that fall-inspired spin. Lots of fresh black pepper and herbs provide the finishing touches for a dish that is hearty, colorful and highly nutritious.
Smoked Pork Kabobs
For some reason, I don’t eat much pork during the summer, but locally raised pork always seems to be on my mind once fall arrives. Salted, spiced and smoked pork kabobs, made from chunks of pork butt, are amazing over bacon-and-onion baked beans. Instead of adding the typical ketchup-type sauce component to the beans, Carolina-style mustard BBQ sauce is used to create a different taste sensation. The sauce gets painted onto the smoked kabobs as well, once tender. This pork-and-bean combo truly lives up to its “made in heaven” status.
Crispy Potato and Goat Cheese Terrine
Is it an appetizer? Is it a salad? You decide. As temperatures dip, potatoes seem to take on a bigger role in our daily meals. Cheese also creeps its way back in. They work their magic when crispy, pan-fried planks of Russet potatoes get layered with pepper-and-chive-whipped goat cheese for a loose terrine of sorts that comes together lickity split. Smoked mushrooms and vinaigrette-dressed baby arugula seal the deal, creating a bona fide fall-inspired dish. This appetizer is more of a knife-and-fork-type salad, but when a little of each of the components makes it onto that fork, you won’t care what it’s called.
Apple Pie Wontons
For dessert, cliché or not, apple pie is hard to beat during the thick of apple season. However, if you don’t have the time or desire to whip up an old-fashioned pie, have no fear, apple wontons can save the day. Sautéed apples with brown sugar, butter and apple pie-type spices are stuffed into store-bought wonton wrappers and deep fried. One could definitely argue the deep-fried health concern over a regular pie, but considering how much butter, lard or shortening goes into a traditional pie crust, I think we can call it a draw.
The process is easy as pie. The wonton wrappers are moistened around the edges with a dab of water, stuffed with the apple mixture, folded over and fried until golden brown (a matter of minutes). Once they’re drained of any excess oil, you can sprinkle powdered sugar over them for a light, crisp and petite dessert. Feel free to break out the dulce de leche!