Extemporizing Fall Foods

I’ve really been enjoying harvest-time foods, and playing around with ways of cooking them.  Unfortunately, no photos, so you’ll just have to take my word.

Roasting vegetables has been pretty popular.  Not only does it intensify flavors and add some interesting caramelized tastes, it also warms up the house (which has actually been a pretty good deal now that the weather has turned rather chilly).  I’ve done some sheet pans of sweet potatoes, kale, and onion.  Beet and fennel roasted together are also really good.  Broccoli really is best as a roasted vegetable, if you ask me.  As much as I would like to get away with just oiling a pan and putting the veggies on, you do have to toss them with some oil to get even cooking.  Sure, it’s an extra dish, but it pays off.

Even though we usually bake sweet potatoes or roast them, this Thanksgiving I braised.  I cubed about seven pounds of sweet potato (leaving the skin on), then marinated the cubes with almost a half cup of orange juice and a little oil (just enough liquid to wet everything, but not much left in the bottom of the bowl).  I then sprinkled on salt, cayenne, and cinnamon (not much more than an eighth teaspoon of each), and put the bowl in the fridge for about an hour–basically until I had a burner free.  I threw the potatoes and the extra liquid into a pot, put the lid on, and simmered/braised for about 15 minutes, until the potato cubes were soft and most of the liquid had reduced.  We couldn’t get enough of it.

Finally, today, I made an odds and ends cranberry pie.  I had an extra blind-baked pie crust left from Thanksgiving (I had the kids help make an apple pie, and I had hoped to make either a pumpkin, sweet potato, or chocolate silk pie, but we ran out of time), so I made up some cranberry sauce with the remains of a bag of cranberries (maybe 3/4 full), orange juice, and honey.  I threw some tapioca flour in to make sure it would thicken and hold its shape when cut.  I also whipped some cream cheese (maybe a half of a block) with milk, honey, and a little of the cranberry sauce (turning it a nice rose color that I might have to repeat for the third Sunday of Advent).  The cream cheese when in the pie crust with the sauce on top.  It all set up quite nicely.  While I could probably have put some more honey in it to offset the tartness, I think it was a definite winner, and an interesting riff on a fresh fruit no-bake pie.

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