Each summer I dutifully consume every tomato, peach, and ear of corn that finds itself within arms’ reach of me. While there are few greater pleasures than standing over your kitchen sink eating a perfect peach, as the shorter days give way to cooler nights I start daydreaming about slow braises, mountains of roasted vegetables, warm spices and long, cozy dinners with friends over big red wines. Fresh vegetables are nice, but have you tried butter?
The fall dinner party recipes below have been developed to capitalize on the changing of the seasons, leveraging the last bit of summer’s bounty to deepen the flavors of the fall produce as it hits the markets. Pair the last of the figs with winter squashes that are just starting to appear at the market, make the most of the fresh herb’s in your window box before the first frost takes them away till next year. We’ve structured these recipes so that they can easily be prepped all together – a seasonal feast without breaking your back so you can focus on the important stuff, like celebrating the crispness in the air, the brilliant fall light, and the snuggliness of your favorite sweater. So light some candles, fill your house with heavenly smells, and settle in around the table with good company – it’ll be time to hibernate soon enough.
Jennifer Schmidt / Unsplash
6 ounces aged rum
6 ounces apple cider
6 ounces chilled ginger beer
1 lemon, juiced
6 slices of apple
6 sprigs of rosemary
Combine all ingredients except garnishes in carafe.
Serve with more ice, a sprig of rosemary, and a slice of apple.
Porchetta Spiced Pork Shoulder
Gallo Images / Stock Food
Traditional porchetta is a Roman dish comprised of a roast suckling pig seasoned herbs, spices, and lots of garlic. Instead, we use a more widely-available and much less expensive pork shoulder, which can be found at almost any grocery store. Pork shoulder is great for a crowd – inexpensive, impressive, and hard to mess up. You’ll need to start this dish the day before, as it needs to marinate overnight.
7 to 10-pound bone-in or boneless pork shoulder (fresh picnic), tied
¼ c fresh rosemary leaves
1 tablespoons whole black peppercorns
2 tablespoons fennel seeds
2 tablespoons coriander seeds
2 teaspoons fresh sage leaves
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Zest of 1 lemon (save zested lemon for brussel sprouts below)
5 garlic cloves, grated or mashed to a paste
2 tablespoons salt
Water, as needed
Combine rosemary, black pepper, fennel seed, coriander, sage, red pepper flakes, lemon zest, garlic, and salt in food processor. Slowly pour in oil with processor running until it forms a paste. Score skin and rub spice paste all over pork, pushing into slits. If using a boneless shoulder, tie with kitchen string at 2-inch intervals. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap and place on large place in refrigerator for at least 6 hours (preferably overnight).
Two hours before you want to cook the shoulder (and at least 4 hours before you want to serve) take the shoulder out of the fridge and set on the counter to warm up. One hour before cooking, pre-heat oven to 425º and unwrap shoulder. Once heated, place shoulder on roasting pan or glass baking dish (fat side up) and roast for 30 minutes. Reduce heat to 325º and cook for 2-3 hours more, or until internal temperature reaches 160º on meat thermometer. Add water to bottom of pan as needed to keep drippings from burning up. Cut in to check doneness (nothing worse then a raw pork surprise) and then let meat rest for at least 30 minutes draped in foil before slicing to serve. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Green Salad with Kabocha Squash, Pomegranate, Figs, and Chevre
1 winter squash, preferably kabocha (delicata, acorn, and butternut all work too)
¼ cup olive oil
½ tsp red pepper flake
1 tbs maple syrup or honey
½ tsp salt
1 pomegratate, deseeded (
3 oz chevre, room temperature
4 oz (or 1 pint) of fresh figs, halved
4 cups baby arugula
While the pork shoulder is in the oven, take the chevre out of the fridge to allow it to come to room temperature, this will make it easier to handle.
Cut in halves and deseed the squash. If you’re using kabocha or delicate squash, the skin is thin enough that it will be edible after cooking. If using acorn or butternut, peel first. Then, cut the squash into wedges and place into a large bowl. Sprinkle with salt and red pepper, tossing to coat, then drizzle with olive oil and maple syrup, tossing again.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (you’ll thank yourself later when you’re doing dished) and spread the seasoned wedges out on a baking sheet so that they aren’t touching. Bake in oven with pork shoulder (on a separate rack) for 30-40 minutes, flipping pieces halfway through. Remove from oven and let cool.
When it comes time to put together your salad, toss the arugula with the salad dressing first. Lay the squash wedges of greens. The room temperature chevre should be relatively easy to handle, dollop it over wedges. Place fig halves all over next, finally showering the whole thing in pomegranate seeds.
Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Dates, Pistachio, and Lemon
1 lb of brussel sprouts, bottoms cut off and halved.
¼ c of toasted salted pistachios
½ c of pitted dates, halved
¼ c olive oil
Salt and pepper
Another dish that can piggyback on the long roast of the pork shoulder. Clean and prep the brussel sprouts, placing halves in a large bowl. (Using the same one you used for squash is fine.) Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
Arrange on a baking sheet cut-side down (again, save yourself some dishes – use the same one!) and roast in oven for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.
Half an hour before dinner, add dates to sheet pan and put back in 300º oven for 15-30 minutes, or as long as it takes you to hang out with your just-arrived guests for a bit. To serve, place warm brussels and dates on a serving platter, sprinkle with pistachios, and squeeze lemon half over the entire thing.
Almond-Cardamom Apple Cake
½ cup canola oil, plus additional for pan
6 large eggs, separated
1 cup sugar
2 Granny smith apples,
1 tablespoon almond extract
4 ½ cups plus 1 tablespoon (420 grams) almond
2 teaspoons ground cardamom
1 to 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
Make the day before or, if you’re particularly efficient, with the roast pork.
Preheat oven to 350º. Oil a 9-inch round pan or cast iron skillet.
Using a electric or stand mixer, whisk egg whites until stiff (but not dry) and set aside.
In another bowl, combine egg yolks and sugar, and whisk to blend. Whisk in almond extract and oil. Add almond flour and cardamom. Gently stir a third of the whites into the batter, then gently fold in the rest until just incorporated.
Core and halve apples. Slice into ¼ inch slices while keeping them side by side.
Pour batter into prepared pan. Push apple slices in one-by-one next to one another so that there is a bit of batter between each. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 50 minutes. Allow to cool. To serve, dust with confectioners’.
Make cake and season pork
7 hours before:
Take meat out of fridge
Set table (I promise, this is the best time to do it!)
6 hours before:
Start prepping vegetables
5 hours before:
Start roasting pork shoulder
Then bake cake if you didn’t the day prior
1 hour before:
Lay out serving platters and utensils.
Let meat rest
Preheat oven to warm things up
30 minutes before:
Warm up brussels
Warm up pork
Plate and serve!