As you earn a culinary arts diploma online, you’ll learn to prepare a huge variety of dishes using seasonal ingredients. Finding fun, exciting ways to adapt your menu is an increasingly important part of finding success in professional kitchens. This time of year is a fantastic time to highlight those fall flavors you forgot about while you were enjoying your summertime produce. With a few ideas, you can prepare dishes perfectly suited to autumn’s time of dropping temperatures and colorful leaves.
Warm foods for cool weather
With cool winds starting to pick up, fall is the perfect time to enjoy hot, satisfying comfort foods. Students should seize this opportunity to explore seasonal flavors. Roast chicken is one classic choice, and it’s especially great when paired with seasonal produce. Butternut squash, which figures prominently in many fall recipes with its orange pulp and sweet taste, makes an excellent addition to your poultry dinner. Here are a few recipe ideas sure to bring people together on a cool evening:
Serious Eats provided a recipe that calls for roasting the squash along with the chicken at 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Toss the squash with the Sardinian pasta fregola or some Israeli couscous, plus extra-virgin olive oil, sliced scallions, parsley, mint, lemon zest, salt and black pepper. Prepare a jus for the chicken by deglazing the pan with vermouth or sherry and mixing the liquid with soy sauce, lemon juice and butter.
Pasta perfectly suits the autumn, and butternut squash makes a great addition to these dishes as well. Bon Appetit suggested using shredded pieces of the gourd to prepare a sauce for fiorentini. While boiling the pasta to al dente, brown the squash in a pot with olive oil, butter and sage. Combine the squash mixture with cooking liquid to complete the sauce, and top the dish with grated Parmesan cheese.
Classic Tomato Soup
Sometimes you just want to enjoy an old favorite. There are plenty of great autumnal tastes that are pleasantly familiar and warming. A traditional combination of tomato soup and grilled cheese can fill diners with nostalgia as it satisfies their hunger.
A recipe from Fine Cooking will ensure your old-school creation doesn’t disappoint. Begin by peeling and pureeing plum tomatoes. Meanwhile, in a Dutch oven, heat garlic and onion in butter and extra-virgin olive oil.
Mix in flour before adding the tomatoes and chicken broth, plus thyme, sugar, salt and pepper. Over medium-high heat, bring the combination to a simmer. Lower the heat and cook, covered, for about 40 minutes. Then, take out the thyme and allow the soup to rest before pureeing.
Squash the cold
A soup featuring squash is a delicious way to celebrate the season, and there are plenty of ways to add fun twists to these classic tastes. The Kitchn suggested a take on butternut squash soup featuring Southwestern flair. Consider peeling the squash, removing the seeds and cutting it into cubes in advance to save yourself some prep time.
Saute onions, jalapenos, bell peppers and garlic in a Dutch oven, adding salt, cumin, coriander, smoked paprika, oregano, cayenne pepper and cinnamon. Pour in chicken or vegetable stock with the squash and heat to a boil.
Lower the heat and cover the pot to simmer for 20 to 25 minutes. When the squash grows tender, take the pot off the burner and puree. Then place the soup back over a low heat before mixing in orange and lemon juices.
Look for leeks
Leeks are another kind of produce commonly available during the fall months that can make the basis of a fantastic soup. Bon Appetit suggested cooking the vegetables in butter with onion and garlic. After the mixture becomes soft, combine with milk, cream and yogurt and blend.
Slowly add water to the soup as you cook it over medium heat until it reaches the desired thickness. Cut russet potatoes into matchstick-shaped pieces and fry them. Pair the potatoes with fried rosemary and parsley to top off the soup.
Think fall fruits
In addition to squash and pumpkin, fall is closely associated with apples and pears, two fruits that are fantastic in desserts. For a fun turn on an autumnal tradition, try the pear and blackberry crumbles recommended by Good Food. They also include pistachios and demerara sugar and go great with ice cream.
Of course, seasonal fruit can also be a delicious addition to entrees or side dishes. Here are some fun ways to incorporate autumnal fruits and vegetables into your dishes this season:
Caramelized Apple Pork
Southern Living offered directions that pair pork with roasted vegetables and deliciously caramelized apples. Saute carrots, onions and parsnips to form a bed for the pork loin. Add flavor to the meat with salt, pepper, Dijon mustard, garlic, rosemary and olive oil, and cook at 425 degrees for about 70 minutes. Prepare the apples by quartering them, adding a covering of brown sugar, sprinkling on salt and pepper, and cooking them in a skillet for eight minutes.
Cranberry-Apple Sweet Potatoes
Midwest Living’s cranberry-apple sweet potatoes also make inventive use of the season’s flavors. The recipe requires a combining the potatoes with apple pie filling, cranberry sauce, apricot preserves and orange marmalade in a baking dish. After about half an hour in an oven set to 350 degrees, you’ll have a unique side that that captures the fall.
Tofu with sweet potato and kale
Sweet potato, known for its bright orange flesh and rich flavor, is a fall favorite that’s not to be reserved just for Thanksgiving dinner. Dr. Oz The Good Life explains how to pair it with tofu and kale – another vegetable that flourishes in the colder months – for a wonderfully colorful and healthy meal.
Begin by tossing cubed sweet potato and tofu with oil, smoked paprika and salt. Heat some oil in a nonstick pan to cook the tofu and sweet potato together. When the sweet potato is cooked thoroughly, remove the mixture and set aside. Cooking should take about four minutes.
Next, add your kale to the now-empty pan. Sprinkle on some salt and cook, stirring constantly, for about 30 seconds. When the kale is just wilted, toss with some apple cider vinegar and smoked paprika.
In a bowl, layer the kale, sweet potato mixture and top with pepitas.
Fall fruit juices
Ever since Starbucks initially released the pumpkin spice latte to the masses in 2003, it seems that everyone has been jumping on the bandwagon. If you’re looking for a healthy way to get your pumpkin spice fix this fall, look no further than this harvest-inspired pumpkin apple pie juice from Organic Authority.
First, blend pumpkin flesh and apple, cored and peeled. For some sweetness, add honey or a pitted date. Next, mix in vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger. If the juice thicker than you like (which is more likely to happen if you opt for date over honey), thin it out with water.
Beets are surprisingly versatile root vegetables. Combine them with carrots and apples, fresh ginger and lemon to make a nutrient-packed and brightly colored juice.
Clementine-fig spice cake
With all the delicious fruits and vegetables coming into season, eating healthy isn’t a challenge. But that doesn’t mean you have to miss out on sweets during the fall. Those rich flavors make for some very decadent desserts.
Try out this clementine-fig spice cake from Better Homes & Gardens while the figs are still seasonal:
Begin by thinly slicing your clementines. Don’t peel them – the candied rinds add a unique sweetness to the cake.
Next, make a rich simple syrup in a medium sauce pan. When just boiling, add the clementine thins. Simmer for a half hour before removing the clementines and letting them cool on a plate. Keep the syrup. When cool, arrange the candied slices in the bottom of six 10-ounce custard cups.
Now you’ll begin working with the dates. Microwave them for three minutes with a half-cup of water to keep them from drying out. Keep the water.
In a separate bowl, combine flour, sugar, salt, baking soda and spices: cinnamon, nutmeg, ground ginger, allspice and cardamom. Whisk in melted butter, milk, eggs and vanilla. Stir in the fig mixture (including excess water).
Pour the batter into the cups over the candied clementines. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. They’re done when the cakes spring back when lightly touched. Let them cool on wire racks for about 10 minutes, and then spoon the reserved syrup over the cakes.
Culinary academy graduates find versatile ways to employ local and seasonal ingredients. With a little experimentation, you can find numerous uses for the fruits and vegetables that characterize autumn and leave diners happy to see the seasons change.
“At August Escoffier School of Culinary Arts, seasonal food preparation is most emphasized in the curriculum. Attending Escoffier has taught me the techniques in order to enjoy using and cooking with seasonal items, and also to appreciate all the ingredients that each season has to offer.”
– Stacy Hoelting, Culinary Arts Student