Friday, October 3, 2008

A New Approach: Fall Food & Wine

The first cool nights of Fall have rolled over into the morning recently—even though we have enjoyed the most wonderful 80-degree weekend weather here in Princeton over the past few weeks!

Believe it or not, it will soon be time to drag out the holiday decoration, and get ready to turn up the heat in your kitchen. Foods like hearty stews, turkey and stuffing, pumpkin pie and cranberries are what will soon start appearing on magazine covers and tables, reminding us that we must either repeat those heirloom recipes, or recreate these comfort foods of past.

Most foods you see in cookbooks, magazines, or on restaurant menus can be turned into smaller and wildly inventive versions of what we are accustomed to being served. Root vegetables (like potatoes or parsnips); bold spices; thick, heavy thick cut meats; and featherless fowl await us. A simplistic approach to what we have made in the past can make holiday meals less boring unless you prefer bland. Just to name a few try Risotto infused with winter squash, and roasted turkey with five types of mushrooms. You don’t have to have meat to make a rich, thick stew—make just a vegetable stew, with a mixture of Indian Dal (lentils), Chinese eggplant, and a variety of other vegetables. Apple cider or orange juices blended with herbs are yummy when poaching fish. Make au gratin potatoes with blue cheese, instead of traditional cheddar for a delicious, new flavor. Try drizzling honey infused with cardamom around your plate of pecan pie. These are just some examples of the bold flavors that have emerged from commercial kitchens in the past few years. Subtle accents can revive old recipes, and aren’t too time consuming for the novice chef.

Dare to pair a bold, hearty wine that you have never tried with a good dish you love. Step over old boundaries and surprise your loved ones with new flavors and ingredients!

Eat, drink, and live hearty as you search bountiful food aisles this season!

~ Elizabeth Stelling