On a recent trip to Europe, I was reminded of so many wonderful fruits and vegetables that have remained a staple in European cultures and oddly many of these rich and classic ingredients have been forgotten by Americans in the switch away from family farms – but these treasures are still available – if you look…A perfect example of a classic is Quince.
Where I now live quince are just left to ripen and fall to ground. People call them “horse apples” because only horses eat them now. We are missing a genuine treat. Quince has a long and storied history, in fact Quince cultivation preceded the Apple. Quince are delicious and still cultivated widely in Europe – Greek myths and historical references are filled with praise of Quince. Once commonly used here as a key ingredient in mince pies – quince has mostly been replaced by the apple because they are easy to peel. I have very fond memories of receiving a jar of my grandmother’s homemade quince jelly–a prized gift when I was young, receiving a jar of grandmother’s quince jelly meant I was in good favor.
Europeans have generally kept tradition with a variety of Autumn’s rich harvest. Vegetables and fruits that are truly treasures are still widely used as key and flavorful ingredients. Great fall classics are Chestnuts… Roasted they’re a delightful treat. They also grow wild where I live and are also sold canned. One of my favorite turkey dressing recipes is sausage and chestnuts and I’m going to explore the idea of using dressing as a side dish–not necessarily with poultry.
There are more autumn harvest treasures: pomegranate, tangerine, broccoli, pumpkin, butternut and other hard squash. And, at this time of year the last of the ripe tomatoes are being picked, the green ones get picked before the first frost. I like to turn the green tomatoes into Verde sauce or cook fried green tomatoes dusted in corn meal mixed with salt, pepper and cumin–this is classic Americana and a delicious treat.
I’ve also used crushed canned tomatoes in some preparations. If you still have garden fresh tomatoes by-all-means, use them. Fresh is always better… when they are ripe. Tomatoes that are tasteless in the dead of winter are of no use, so I recommend canned which has more flavor and color and is a good substitute for fresh until next season’s harvest.
Some of my recipes use fruit with salt and pepper. If you’ve been reluctant to use these flavor enhancers with fruit, I encourage you to try it – salt and pepper are great for bringing out the full flavor of sweet items as well as savory.
And, finally you will also see I use chicken broth instead of clam juice in some of my “fish” recipes. Its something most people have on hand in their pantry and chicken broth is more mild than the traditional and bolder clam juice – but certainly either is fine. If you’re unfamiliar with some of the classic autumn ingredients I’ve listed above I think you will be pleasantly surprised to discover the variety of autumn’s fresh flavors and how they add so much to even a simple recipe – your family will thank you. I hope I’ve piqued your interest to explore and discover these autumn treasures to add to your ingredient list – Enjoy!
Autumn Seafood and Rediscovered Ingredients
- Cod Fillets with Chestnuts and Dressing
- Cod Fillets with Ginger and Broccoli
- Halibut Steaks with Cardamom and Carrot Sauce
- Halibut Steak with Peanut Sauce
- Mahi-Mahi with Quince
- Mahi-Mahi with Roasted Pumpkin and Brown Butter
- Mussels on the Half Shell Cioppino-style
- Mussels on the Half Shell with Butter and Caviar
- Salmon Fillet with Tangerine and Pomegranate
- Salmon Steak with Spicy Eggplant
- Slipper Lobster Tail Club Sandwich
- Slipper Lobster Tail with Roasted Butternut Squash