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Fall, Glorious Fall

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If the overnight appearance of dipping temperatures and everything Halloween wasn’t telltale enough, the flashes of red, yellow and orange starting to peek out from tree branches should be all the reminder you need that fall is finally here. Gone are the sticky, hot, hazy and humid summer days when it’s too hot to cook and almost too hot to eat.

Welcome, my favorite time of year and all the glorious comfort fare that comes with it. So long, grill (well, not exactly; I have one on my cook-top), and hello to my Le Creuset Dutch oven, ceramic bakers, fondue set, soup tureen, stein and … sweatpants.

Hip, hip, hooray to October! Boo to the economic crisis! (Although if you ever needed motivation to get creative in the kitchen, the time is now.)

To get us in the spirit, Jim Coleman has offered up a handful of terrific recipes for you—and me—to try. He’s the author of three cookbooks, the host of two nationally syndicated cooking shows—A Chef’s Table on WHYY 91FM at noon Saturdays, and Flavors of America on Channel 12 at 1 p.m. Saturdays and CN8 Monday thru Friday at 4:30 p.m.—corporate chef at Normandy Farm and sister facility Blue Bell Country Club, and a Daily News contributor (“The Chef’s Table”) along with his wife, writer Candace Hagan.

I would love to hear how the recipes turn out, so please feel free to e-mail me at dwarden@mainlinetoday.com. You can also go straight to the source: chefcoleman@aol.com.
 

Pumpkin Soup with Cran-Apple Relish

1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, 1 turn of the pan
2 tbsp. butter
1 fresh bay leaf
2 ribs celery, finely chopped
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
Salt and pepper
3 tbsp. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. poultry seasoning
2 tsp. cayenne pepper
6 cups chicken stock
1 pumpkin puree
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg

Relish:
1 crisp apple, such as McIntosh or Granny Smith, finely chopped
1/4 red onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1/2 cup dried sweetened cranberries, chopped
1 tsp. chili powder
2 tsp. honey
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

• Heat a medium soup pot over medium to medium-high heat.
• Add the oil and melt the butter. Add bay, celery and onion.
• Season the veggies with salt and pepper. Cook 6 or 7 minutes, until tender. Add flour, poultry seasoning and hot sauce, to taste, then cook flour 1 minute.
• Whisk in chicken stock and bring liquid to a bubble.
• Whisk in pumpkin in large spoonfuls to incorporate it into the broth.
• Simmer soup 10 minutes to thicken a bit, then add in cream and nutmeg.
• Reduce heat to low and keep warm until ready to serve.
• While soup cooks, assemble the relish: Combine apple, onion, lemon juice, cranberries, chili powder, honey and cinnamon.
• Adjust seasonings in soup and relish, and serve soup in shallow bowls with a few spoonfuls of relish.
 

Butternut Squash Ravioli with Crispy Sage Brown Butter

2 whole butternut squash
1 oz. mascarpone cheese
Salt and freshly ground white pepper
2 sheets fresh egg pasta, each sheet cut into 6 rectangles
1 oz. roasted pecans, chopped
12 tbsp. butter
12 to 16 fresh sage leaves
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

• Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
• Cut squash in half and remove seeds. Place on a sheet tray, and season with salt and pepper. Place 2 tablespoons of butter in each half and roast uncovered until soft, about a half-hour.
• Remove from oven and cool to room temperature. Scope out squash and puree in a food processor until smooth (do not over-puree; the mixture should not be runny).
• Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. In a mixing bowl, combine the butternut puree with the mascarpone cheese and season, to taste, with salt and white pepper.
• In the center of 6 pasta rectangles, place 2 tablespoons of the butternut puree mixture. Sprinkle with the chopped pecans.
• Slightly wet the edges of the pasta with a little cool water. Lay the other 6 pasta rectangles over the filled pasta rectangles.
• Gently seal each ravioli by pressing around all edges with the tines of a fork. Place the ravioli in the boiling water and cook for 3-5 minutes, or until the pasta is cooked al dente. Remove from the water and drain.
• Heat a sauté pan over medium-high heat and, when hot, add the butter and let it melt in one spot (do not move the pan).
• When the butter has begun to brown around the edges, pick up the sauté pan and swirl to keep the melted butter from burning and to melt the remaining butter.
• Add the sage leaves and reduce the heat to medium. Continue to cook until the leaves are crispy, 1-2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
• To serve, place the ravioli in a shallow bowl and spoon the brown butter over the top. Garnish with the crispy sage leaves. Sprinkle with Parmigiano-Reggiano.
 

Pumpkin Gnocchi with a Brown Butter Sauce, Crispy Sage and Shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano

1 1/2 lb. Idaho potatoes (about 3 large), scrubbed and boiled in skins until tender
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 egg
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
Pinch allspice
1 tsp. salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 1/2 to 2 cups flour
Salted water, for cooking gnocchi
1/2 lb. unsalted butter
2 tbsp. fresh sage leaves, minced
1/2 cup shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano

• Allow the cooked potatoes to cool slightly, then carefully peel each one while holding it with a kitchen mitt.
• While still hot, puree potatoes through a ricer or food mill into a large mixing bowl and allow to cool completely before proceeding.
• Add the pumpkin puree, finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, egg, cinnamon, allspice, salt and pepper, and mix well.
• Gradually, add in enough flour to form a smooth, slightly sticky dough. Briefly knead the dough to incorporate the flour, being careful not to overwork.
• Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil.
• Cut the dough into 6 equal pieces and place 1 piece on a lightly floured work surface.
• Roll each piece into a long rope, about a 1/2-inch in diameter, flouring lightly, if needed.
• Slice the rope into 1/2-inch-wide pieces. Holding one piece at a time, roll the tines of a fork against the dough until slight indentations are formed.
• Repeat with each piece of dough, setting formed gnocchi on a floured kitchen towel or baking sheet.
• Immediately, add the gnocchi to the boiling water and continue cooking for 2-3 minutes once they have risen to the top. Remove the cooked gnocchi with a slotted spoon or skimmer, and set aside briefly while making the sauce.
• In a skillet over high heat, add the butter when the pan is very hot. Let the butter sit undisturbed until almost all is melted and the outside edges have begun to caramelize.
• Quickly swirl the skillet and add minced sage.
• Let cook for 30 seconds longer, season with salt and pepper to taste, and add gnocchi to skillet to toss with sauce and re-warm, if necessary.
• Serve immediately with shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano.
 

Pumpkin Cornmeal Pancakes

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup confectioners’ sugar, plus extra sugar for topping
1/2 tsp. dried ground ginger
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup pumpkin puree
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 1/2 to 3 cups milk (more for thinner pancakes)
Butter, as needed

• Combine dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
• Combine pumpkin and eggs, then beat into dry ingredients.
• Add milk slowly to make a smooth batter.
• Heat some butter in a frying pan and pour 4 ounces of the batter in.
• Swirl the batter around to make an evenly thick pancake.
• Cook on both sides until nicely browned. Serve hot, heavily dusted with confectioners’ sugar.
 

Pumpkin Crème Brulée

2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar, plus 4 tsp.
8 large egg yolks
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. grated nutmeg
1 cup mashed cooked pumpkin

• Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
• Arrange 8 half-cup ramekins or custard cups in a large, metal baking pan.
• In a medium saucepan, combine the cream, brown sugar and 1/4 cup granulated sugar.
• Bring to a bare simmer over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat.
• In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks until frothy and lemon-colored. Slowly, add 3/4 cup of the hot cream mixture, whisking constantly.
• Add the egg mixture to the remaining hot cream and whisk. Add the vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and pumpkin, and whisk until smooth.
• Strain through a fine mesh strainer into a large bowl. Divide among the prepared custard cups.
• Add enough hot water to come halfway up the sides of the cups. Bake until the custards are just set in the center but not stiff, 45-55 minutes.
• Remove from the oven and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 3 hours or overnight.
• Sprinkle each custard with a 1/2 teaspoon of the remaining sugar.
• Using a kitchen torch, caramelize the sugar. (Alternately, preheat the broiler, and broil until the sugar melts and caramelizes, watching closely to avoid burning and rotating the cups, about 1-2 minutes.)
• Place on small dessert plates and serve.
 

Spicy Pumpkin Seed Brittle

1 1/2 cups shelled pumpkin seeds
Butter, for greasing pan, or nonstick cooking spray
2 cups sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup water
2 tsp. chili powder
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Special equipment: Candy thermometer

• Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
• Put the pumpkin seeds onto a baking sheet and place it in the top half of the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until the seeds start to brown slightly. Remove and set aside.
• Grease a second baking sheet with a small amount of butter, or spray with nonstick spray, and set aside.
• Combine the sugar, corn syrup and water in a large saucepan, and place over medium-high heat.
• Bring to a boil and stir with a wooden spoon until the sugar dissolves. Clip the candy thermometer to the side of the saucepan, and let the mixture boil until the thermometer reads 260 degrees (the hard-ball stage), about 10 minutes.
• Add the roasted pumpkin seeds, chili powder and cayenne, and stir well. Let the thermometer come up to 300 degrees (the hard-crack stage), and then remove the pan from the heat, stir in the vanilla, and pour the brittle onto the greased baking sheet.
• Spread out with the wooden spoon and set aside to cool. When completely cool, break the brittle into small pieces.
• Store in an airtight container with waxed paper between the layers.
 

Butternut Squash, Apple and Onion Galette with Stilton Cheese

Dough:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
8 tbsp. cold unsalted butter (1 stick), diced
1 large egg, lightly beaten

Filling:
1 large baking apple, such as Rome Beauty or Cortland
1 small or 1/2 medium butternut squash (about 3/4 lb.), halved, seeded and skin on
1 small yellow onion, peeled and root end trimmed but intact
3 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
2 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary
2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp. whole-grain mustard
1/3 cup crumbled Stilton or other blue cheese (about 1 1/2 oz.)

• For the dough: Pulse the flour and salt together in a food processor. Add the butter and pulse about 10 times until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal with a few bean-size bits of butter in it.
• Add the egg and pulse 1-2 times more (don’t let the dough form a mass around the blade). If the dough seems very dry, add up to 1 tablespoon of cold water, 1 teaspoon at a time, pulsing briefly.
• Remove the blade and bring the dough together by hand. Shape the dough into a disk, wrap it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least 1 hour.

• For the filling: Halve and core the apple. Cut each half into 8 wedges and put them in a large bowl.
• Slice the squash and cut the onion into wedges so that both are as thick as the apple wedges, and add them to the apples.
• Add the butter, rosemary and thyme, and toss gently to combine. Season with salt and pepper, and toss again.

• Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
• Roll the dough on a lightly floured surface into a 12-inch disk.
• Transfer the dough to a baking sheet and brush with mustard.
• Starting 2 inches from the edge, casually alternate pieces of apple, squash and onion in overlapping circles.
• Fold and pleat the dough over the edge of the filling. Bake until the crust is brown and the apple, squash and onions are tender and caramelized, about 55 minutes.
• Scatter the cheese over the filling and bake until melted, about 5 minutes more. Cool the galette briefly on a wire rack. Cut into wedges and serve.
 

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