Fall flavors that won’t quit

Ok…I can’t stop.  I just love the flavors of fall.  They inspire me.  So after I recently tackled trio of fun fall recipes for She in CLE, I still have more to give, and cook, and eat.

How about Pumpkin and Sausage Soup?  Or a Caramel Apple Martini?  And, since nobody can get enough pumpkin this time of year…Pumpkin Sage Risotto.

pumpkin-sausage-soup

Pumpkin and Sausage Soup

2 links Italian sausage

1 T. extra virgin olive oil

1 small onion, finely copped

1 large garlic clove, finely chopped

2 T. butter

1 sprig rosemary, finely chopped

2-3 fresh sage leaves, julienned

2-3 c. chicken stock

4 T. pumpkin puree

pinch of nutmeg and cinnamon

1 T. heavy cream

Salt and pepper to taste

Remove the sausage from its casing and brown in a hot pan, breaking up with a wooden spoon.  Set aside.  In the same pan, lower the heat to medium/high and add the onion, garlic, and 1 T. of butter, then season with salt and pepper to taste.  Cook until the onion softens, then add the sage, rosemary and pumpkin.  When the pumpkin and herbs become fragrant (3 min or so) add the stock and whisk until combined.  Season again. Bring to a boil then lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.  Add the heavy cream, cooked sausage, nutmeg and cinnamon, and last 1 T. of butter.  Cook another 5 minutes.  You can thin it out by adding stock, if desired.  Or make it more creamy, by adding more heavy cream.

pumpkin-risotto

Pumpkin Sage Risotto

3 T. butter

1 T. olive oil

1 T. garlic, minced

1/3 c. onion finely chopped, or a whole shallot, minced

1  c. Arborio rice

1/4 white wine

4 c. chicken stock

1/4 c. Parmesan cheese

3 T. pumpkin puree

handful of sage leaves, chopped

1 T. chives, chopped optional)

Pour the stock in a large sauce pan and keep warm.  Heat 2 T. of the butter and the olive oil in a large frying pan.  Add the onion/shallots and the garlic and saute at medium high until vegetables are softened, season with salt and pepper.  Add the rice and cook until the grains are toasted.  Pour in the white wine and let the alcohol burn off.  Add a couple ladles full of stock and stir frequently, until the rice absorbs it.  Repeat several times, continuing to stir frequently until the rice is fully cooked.  Lower the heat and add the last tablespoon of butter, cheese, pumpkin puree and one or two chopped sage leaves.  Garnish with chives. Serve.

For a variation, heat a small saute pan on high, and pour in about a 1/2 inch of canola or vegetable oil.  Fry the sage leaves whole and garnish your risotto.  Or, top with grilled sausage, sliced into discs.

caramel-apple-martini

Caramel AppleMartini

1 part/2 oz. caramel vodka (salted caramel if possible

2 parts/4 oz. regular vodka

2 oz. of apple cider

pinch of salt

handful of salter, roasted peanuts

1 T. caramel sauce

Pulse the peanuts in a food processor until fine.  Pour the caramel topping on to a small, shallow plate.  Pour the peanuts on to a similar plate.  Coat the rim of a martini glass in the caramel, then in the peanuts.  Leave the glass upside down on the plate while you shake the drink.  Combine both vodkas, the cider, salt and about 6 ice cubes in a martini shaker.  Shake about 20 times.  Pour, enjoy, repeat.

I’m in the business of collecting great recipes that incorporate these ingredients.  So, please send, or share some that are working for you!

Fun Fall Recipes

The switch has officially flipped in my home.  It feels, looks and smells like fall around here.  Fall flavors are about as distinct as any.  Warm, earthy, and of course…pumpkin spicy.  I’ve been invited by my friends at She in the CLE to create some fun fall recipes.  To me, a collection like that wouldn’t be complete without incorporating apples, pumpkin and a clam bake!

For those of you who have a countdown programmed in your phone for when the Starbucks PSL is finally available…this breakfast is for you.  Pumpkin.  Spice.  Pancakes.  Now, I could have developed my own pancake mix recipe, but I’m a realist.  And I think most of you are too.  So the base of this recipe is Krusteaz buttermilk pancake mix.  Then I put my own #Cheftovers twist on it.  Creative pancakes, like characters, or animals, have become a weekend tradition in my household (check out my Instagram account, @jenpicciano. My pancakes are usually my most popular posts). Just like jack-o-laterns, make these your own.  Use what you’ve got in the house to decorate these fun fall flap jacks. Or don’t.  And just enjoy fall’s favorite spice blend in a new way.

pumpkin-spice-pancake

Pumpkin Spice Pancakes

1 c. Krusteaz buttermilk pancake mix

2/3 c. water

2 T. pumpkin puree

1/2 t. cinnamon

one pinch each of ground ginger, nutmeg and ground cloves

Combine all ingredients and mix well.  Add a pad of butter on to a hot frying pan or griddle and spoon in a ladle full of the batter. Cook until you see bubbles.  Flip and cook the other side until golden brown.  Decorate like a jack-o-latern with candies, or just top with powdered sugar or syrup.

I’ve also taken some filling from leftover pumpkin pie (I know, who has that?? ) and added it to pancake batter, with similarly tasty results. 

Apples are abundant, cheap and versatile.  But why do something complicated…or expected with them? That’s not what you’re here for, right?!  Every time I walk past the caramel apple stands at late-summer county fairs, or fall festivals, I’m tempted by the combinations of sweet, tart flavors.  But I’m turned off by the task of tackling the whole apple and thick layers of caramel, chocolate etc. when I bite into them.  So why not break it down and still get all you’re after?

apple-nachos

Caramel Apple “Nachos”

1 Granny Smith apple, thinly sliced

1 T. chopped peanuts

1/4 c. Smucker’s salted caramel, warmed

1/4 c. chocolate chips, melted

1 T. Nestle Toll House Pumpkin Spice or Halloween morsels

Arrange the apple slices in a pile on a plate. Drizzle with melted chocolate and caramel.  Sprinkle with chopped peanuts and pumpkin spice morsels.

Clam bakes are one of my favorite fall traditions.  I love the steamy, savory smells, and appreciate the process of cooking clams, potatoes, corn and chicken in one giant pot of heavenly fall goodness.  But it can be intimidating and time-consuming.  So I took the elements of the fall party favorite and made it into a pizza!

fall-clam-bake-pizza

Clam Bake Pizza

1/2 russet potato

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 doz. middle neck clams

4 T. butter

1 T. shallots

1 bay leaf

1 cup chicken stock

1 cup cooked chicken (can be grilled, roasted, or leftover)

1 ear corn, kernels removed

2 slices bacon, cooked and finely chopped

1 T. chives (optional)

Pizza dough/crust

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Peel and chop the potato, add to a pot of salted boiling water and cook until fork tender, then drain.  Mince the garlic.  Steam the clams with half the butter, stock, shallots, 1/2 of the garlic, bay leaf, salt and pepper, and stock. Once they all open, remove them from the shells and reserve the liquid.

In a food processor, blend the cooked potatoes, the other half of the butter, the other half of the garlic, and several tablespoons of the liquid from the clams, until you get a consistency like Alfredo sauce.

Spread the potato mix on the pizza dough/crust like you would pizza sauce.

Top with chopped chicken, bacon, corn kernels, clams and cheese.  Bake until the cheese is bubbly and the crust is golden brown, (about 10-12 minutes).

No season can compete with fall when it comes to flavors.  I hope you enjoy my favorites as much as I do!

Forage with Strangers

I had the distinct honor of attending (in all honesty, crashing) a truly spectacular event, the inaugural “Forage with Strangers.”  It brought together influencers, connectors and innovators in Cleveland.  And we strangers bonded over a universal language: GOOD FOOD.

Let’s start with a little “behind the scenes” insight to how I came to be a part of this experience.  Over the course of the last year, I have been trying to immerse myself in the local culinary scene.  I’ve come to know some incredible people and eaten some spectacular food.  Social networking, no doubt, is a huge component of this.  So on Monday night, I started to see posts on Facebook and Twitter about this “Forage with Strangers” concept.  I was intrigued.  Being the intrepid reporter that I am, I started making some inquires.  And by mid afternoon, I was invited to join in.

I love people in the food world.  They just want everyone to have a good time and be well fed. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to have a microphone, or a a blog.  But I sincerely appreciated the willingness to include me in such a cool and intimate experience.

Here’s what the day was all about:  A creative thinker from The Adcom Group teamed up with Kalman & Pabst Photo Group to orchestrate a networking event connecting local food brand reps, with local farmers and producers.  The idea was to drum up business for everyone involved.  But for as long as I was around, no one mentioned dollars and cents.  Everyone was just talking about food and ideas.  So refreshing and so delicious.  Yet still so productive…and in the end, probably profitable.

The group started the event with a five course “pre-foraging” meal dreamed up by Dante Bocuzzi.  In my year as my station’s designated “food reporter” his name has come up more than anyone’s in the city as the guy you’ve got to work with, and whose food you have to eat.

forage with strangers van

The next morning, the group ventured out in a van to half a dozen locations to “forage” for ingredients that would be used for a catered feast that night.

forage with strangers bounty

Photos Courtesy Cristina Carosielli, Orlando Baking Co.

The 150 mile trek included Yellow House CheeseRittman OrchardsSpice AcresTrapp Family FarmOhio City Farm and Heinen’s.  The group gathered gorgeous fruits and vegetables picked at their peak, artisan cheeses and savory proteins.  In all, 40 bags were hauled back to the host site of the “Forage with Strangers” dinner.

forage with strangers happy hour

When I joined the party it was already time for happy hour.  Chef Bocuzzi and Chef Douglas Katz of Fire Food & Drink worked feverishly with a team of helpers to turn the day’s haul into tonight’s feast.

forage with strangers chefs working

Beer Master Sam McNulty of Bier MarktBar CentoMarket Garden Brewery and Nano Brew among the participants…as was Chef Adam Lambert, of The Black Pig and the upcoming Ohio City Provisions (a partnership with Fresh Fork Market).

forage with strangers table

The space was fantastic…full of natural light, props, and working kitchens for the commercial photographers at Kalman & Pabst to work their magic.

Forage with strangers cheese tray

We started with an impressive array of cheeses from Yellow House and Mackenzie Creamery and a charcuterie display to die for, courtesy of Chef Lambert.  I couldn’t stop myself from seconds and thirds of his chicken liver parfait, topped with Guernsey butter (from his own cows, and flavored with thyme and orange zest)

forage with strangers charcuterie

Wine was poured and conversation flowed among movers and shakers in the food world. I was eager to devour the details, and jealous that I missed all the foraging.

 forage with strangers diners

The inviting communal table set for 30 was soon filled with an incredible bounty.  Everything brought out family style, as you might imagine large farmers’ families do.  Even though the table stretched the length of the large space, there was barely enough room to set all the large platters full of farm fresh food.

tempura fried heirloom tomatoesforage with strangers walleye

Tempura fried heirloom tomatoes and Lake Erie Walleye with miso and radishes.

roaste beet-plum-goat cheese-salad  corn tomoato and cucumber salad

Plum and roasted beet salad with goat cheese.  Corn, cucumber and tomato salad.

Chef Doug Katzforage with strangers roasted chicken

Buttermilk fried chicken livers and Harissa roasted chickens by Chef Katz.  Plus hand made gnocchi ratatouille from the pasta master himself, Chef Dante.

Photo Courtesy Cristina Carosielli, Orlando Baking Co.

Photo Courtesy Cristina Carosielli, Orlando Baking Co.

We ate and talked and shared ideas, and ate and listened and shared seconds, and ate and laughed and shared inspirations.  The meal ended with everyone reflecting on their favorite part of the day.

forage with strangers dessert

There was dessert…oh yes, there was dessert.  Dante made an apple tarte tatin, and Doug crafted a couple of spectacular ice creams with fresh fruit toppings.

I left the dinner table buzzing with ideas and tingling with inspiration.  There are immensely talented people in my city who believe they can change their world and yours with food and shared experiences.  I want in.  How about you?