Fall is truly a cook’s season. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t trade any of the seasons for their individual culinary gifts, but fall really invites creativity in the kitchen.
Produce in the spring is so delicate. It’s hard to really use boldly-spiced flavours for fear you’ll overpower the sweet little pea tendrils or the tender asparagus. Summer’s produce is so perfectly ripe, it requires very little manipulation. How can you mess with the perfect tomato? How can you improve on an ear of corn on the cob? And winter, let’s be honest, pickings are slim. The farmer’s markets have much less to offer and the grocery stores are full of out-of-season imported produce.
But fall! This season brings bounty, a full harvest of hearty fruits and vegetables waiting to be stewed, roasted and braised. The flavour combinations and cooking methods you can experiment with are endless. I’m sharing two of my favourite sweet autumn recipes with you below. They are the perfect way to transition the seasons from the garden to your kitchen, then to your family’s table. Happy cooking!
Phyllo baked apples
These baked apples are so impressive, yet incredibly easy. Cinnamon and apples pair so nicely together. These are like little dessert presents waiting to be opened at the end of a meal.
Combine 1/3 C chopped pistachio nuts, 1/3 C dried cranberries, 2 T raw brown sugar, ¼ t ground cinnamon.
Combine ¼ C sugar and ¼ t cinnamon. Peel and remove the cores of 4 apples. Drizzle them with lemon juice to keep them from turning brown. Roll them in the cinnamon sugar mixture.
Combine ¼ C unseasoned breadcrumbs, ¼ C sugar, and ¼ t ground cinnamon. Lay out a sheet of phyllo dough, brush it with melted butter and dust it with the breadcrumb mixture. Add 2 more layers of phyllo, melted butter and breadcrumb dusting.
Cut the stack in half and place one apple in the middle of each. Fill the center of the apple with as much of the cranberry mixture as you can, with some overflowing at the top. Gather the corners of the phyllo dough to form a purse, completely enclosing the apple. Brush with more melted butter and dust with any remaining cinnamon sugar.
Repeat for the other apples. Bake at 180 degrees Celsius until golden. Remove from the oven, let cool. Drizzle with honey and sprinkle confectioners’ sugar on top to serve.
Chai spiced pear hand pies
As a child growing up in America, a special treat was a store-bought Pop Tart – a breakfast toaster pie. Here is a homemade version made with warm chai spices.
1 ½ C all-purpose flour
½ t sugar
¼ t salt
½ C (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces
Pulse flour, sugar and salt in a food processor. Add butter; pulse until the texture is a very coarse meal. Add ¼ C ice water; pulse, adding more water if dry, until dough comes together in clumps. Form into a square, wrap in plastic and chill until firm (about 2 hours). Let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes before rolling out to form pies.
Chai pear filling
Melt 3 T butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add 2 large ‘Bosc’ pears, peeled and finely chopped. Add 1 t ground ginger, ½ t ground cardamom, ¼ t salt, ¼ t ground black pepper, ½ t ground cinnamon and 1 t honey.
Reduce heat and cook for 5 minutes to take the raw, dusty quality off of the dried spices.
Add ½ C water to the pan, stirring to form a syrup around the fruit.
Remove from heat and allow to cool.
Constructing the pies
Preheat oven to 190 degrees Celsius. Roll out dough on a floured surface to a 38x30cm rectangle. Cut into 6 rectangles. Brush edges of rectangles with water; mound some pear mixture in the center of each. Fold dough over and press edges to seal. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet, brush with egg wash and sprinkle with raw sugar.
Bake hand pies, rotating sheet halfway through, until pastry is golden brown, about 25-30 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Images: Cheryl Stockton/Stockshot Studio
About the Author – Lisa Adams
Lisa is originally from Joplin, Missouri, in the Midwestern United States, but New York has been her home for the past 19 years. She works as a personal chef and a voice over actress and is inspired by the balance of creativity and service.
For more culinary inspiration from New York, follow Lisa on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest and visit her website AllGoodThings.nyc.