The Flavor of Fall

Summer hasn’t officially ended, but with Labor Day behind us and the weather already showing signs of cooling, I think we are well on our way to Autumn. The change in season ushers in much to delight in; fruits and vegetables in vibrant display, rows of apple trees ripe for the picking, hayrides through pumpkin patches, and the most fragrant of culinary herbs.

One of the things that bring me great appreciation this time of year is the peppy
glow of fall. To behold the leaves on the trees as they change color beneath the sun’s rays. The breathtaking view driving up the New York State Thruway – as I did in college – and seeing the warm hues of red, orange, yellow and brown as the trees slowly shed their summer green. The earthy fragrance of allspice mixed with cloves that awakes you each morning and lets you know, yes, it’s fall. For me fall just has a special way of coming to life. That’s the flavor of fall.
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More than the vivid nature of the season is the food. Although you can find just about every eat year round in today’s global marketplace, nothing is as satisfying as enjoying it in season, at its due. Everything is better when it’s at its best. Pomegranate and cranberries are redder in color and richer in taste. Apples and pears are just peachy. Brussels sprouts and bok choy are crisper, and giant pumpkins serve up big, bold taste.

Oh, the dishes you can dig into this time of year. Soups, stews, compotes and cobblers rooted in home-cooked goodness. If there’s ever a season readymade for a hearty meal it’s fall. Chunky, chicken vegetable soup made with butternut squash, potatoes, carrots, turnip, and celery, and flavored with fresh parsley and thyme. And after dinner, a generous slice of Cranberry-Apple Pie or a heap of warm fruit compote to top two scoops of your favorite ice cream.

If home is where the heart is and there’s no place like home, fall is the season you get to come home. Welcome home.

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Grilled Baby Bella Mushrooms

Looking for a succulent side dish to serve on that summer plate? These Grilled Baby Bella Mushrooms in Garlic Butter make the perfect addition. They’re earthy, flavorful, from the grill and pairs nicely with that fillet of fresh fish!

1-10oz. pkg. baby bella mushrooms

4 cloves garlic

3 Tbsp unsalted butter

½ tsp vegetable oil

½ tsp sea salt

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  1. Shave (cut thin) garlic.
  2. On the stovetop, heat 10” skillet at medium temperature.
  3. Add butter, shaved garlic and sauté for about 4 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, wipe mushrooms with slightly damp paper towel, snip stems and cut into ¼ inch slices.
  5. Heat grill at high temperature.
  6. Brush grates with vegetable oil.
  7. Grill mushroom s for about 90 seconds on each side.
  8. Remove sautéed garlic from stovetop.
  9. Add sea salt and grilled mushrooms and toss.
  10. Serve as a flavorful side dish.

Servings:  4

Mushroom Facts

Baby Bella mushrooms are a type of brown mushroom. They are young, not fully matured Portobello mushrooms. Also known as Cremini mushrooms they are low in calories and a good source of antioxidants and other nutrients.

Note: Tableware provided by Libbey Foodservice.

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The 123’s of Barbecue Bites

It’s official. Summer is here!

One of the staples of summer is a good old-fashioned barbecue. But, if you’re counting calories you’re probably wondering just how much heat these backyard classics are packing? Before taking a bite out of the savory side of grilling season here’s the skinny on how the numbers add up.

BBQ Calorie CountUntitled presentation (1)

Data Guidelines

  1. Hot dog and hamburger depict one each and includes bun.
  2. Wings are three whole.
  3. Ribs are three pieces.
  4. Additional items are the equivalent of one serving size.
  5. Items do not account for condiments or extra toppings.
  6. Caloric information may vary based on individual style of preparation.

 

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Citrus Dressing

I’ve been mixing things up at Williams-Sonoma stores in New York and New Jersey with this zesty Citrus Dressing. It’s fresh, fruity and savory using a few staple ingredients. Just another way to dress up a summer salad, grilled veggies, seafood and chicken!

Citrus_Dressing

1/4 cup orange juice, fresh squeezed

2 Tbsp. lime juice, fresh squeezed

3 Tbsp. honey mustard

1/4 cup vegetable oil­­

1/2 tsp. sea salt

1 pinch ground black pepper

  1. In a small mixing bowl, combine ingredients and whisk vigorously until blended.

Preparation Time: 10 minutes

Servings: 4-6

Note: Tableware provided by Libbey Foodservice.

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Go from Garnish to Gourmet

It’s that time of year when the weather begins to warm, local farmers’ market are getting ready for their season opening, and the seeds you started indoors weeks ago have sprouted. Today, however, I’m dishing out more than just your garden variety veggies. We’re going gourmet with edible botanicals – leaves, flowers, herbs, plants, and plant mixes that do more than just pretty up the plate.

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Since we eat with our eyes long before we take a bite, we appreciate the role garnish plays on a plate. Think color, freshness and overall presentation. But, why pick useless shrub when the right trim can work wonders?

Edible botanicals – leaves, flowers, greens, herbs, and plants add vibrancy, flare, flavor and function. Dressing up a dish with an orchid – neutral in taste and lavender or purple in color, adds snap without sacrificing flavor. A begonia mix boasts a zesty, crisp, tart finish – the perfect blend for a delightful citrus salad. Or spread it around a savory seafood platter in place of lime or lemon. The pretty pink petals of begonias (comes in white too) with bright yellow centers adds just the right amount of radiance for spring and summer entertaining.

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The appropriate finish can also take fare from palatable to perfection. For example, a mint mix will enhance the flavor of lamb, while it’s small, delicate, bright green leaves create a stark contrast to the seared, crusted exterior of the meat.

Island Inspired

I’m an island girl so whenever possible or as appropriate I mix in as much of the Caribbean into my culinary creations as I can get away with. And with edible botanicals I get away with quite a bit! Shoot, it’s literally a field of dreams. And the spring and summer seasons my playground – with plenty of plants to play with on my plate. The bounty of veggies and flowers found in the Caribbean are endless. Hibiscus, sorrel, cilantro, onion, turnip, thyme, mint, rosemary, orchid… Did you know Jamaica has over 200 species of orchid? Not to mention herbs. You know Jamaica has herb!

Taking Care

Now that you’re familiar with what’s on the market, here’s how to ensure you get the most use of your petite produce. Keep fresh by refrigerating immediately. Suppliers generally guarantee freshness for up to a week. However, I find that by keeping them in their original packaging, sealing in an airtight zipper bag then storing in the refrigerator you can squeeze out an extra 2 or more days.

Whatever your taste, go for plating that’s more than pretty. Elevate the experience by choosing the right green and go from garnish to gourmet!

Note: Samples for the attached photo provided by Gourmet Sweet Botanicals.

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