November 8, 2013

Fall Inspiration

By Stacy Hoelting, Culinary Arts Student photo (1)

The month of October is the kickoff for the fall season, which is a magical time in the culinary arts. Apples are ready for picking and pie making, squash is ripe, and pumpkins are making their debut for the season. At August Escoffier School of Culinary Arts, seasonal food preparation is most emphasized in the curriculum. Not only is there an abundance of squash being prepared in culinary classes, but also apple and pumpkin pies are being baked in plenty.

One of the hints that I found most helpful with baking apple streusel or crumb pies, is to pre-bake the crumb topping before applying to the pie. This allows for the crumb topping to be fully cooked and stay crispy, instead of becoming somewhat mushy and/or not fully cooked in fear of over-baking the pie itself. This hint has saved me time and again, and I can’t stress how helpful it is in creating the perfect, crispy crumb pie topping.

Also, I know eating squash has most likely become monotonous at this point considering there has been a plethora of squash throughout the summer season. However, fall and winter squash are so delicious and different from the flavors of summer squash. Personally, I love to use butternut or acorn squash in a pureed curry soup, or even make stuffed squash. Often, during the Thanksgiving season, I like to use the tried and true stuffing or dressing from Thanksgiving dinner, and instead, stuff a squash with the same delicious ingredients. The squash provides a slightly sweet flavor that can be balanced with a spicy sausage. Fall and winter seasons always inspire me to use the freshest ingredients of the time of year to alter and evolve my favorite warm dishes. 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.