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October 24, 2011

Hungry for Autumn's Harvest

By: Morgan Davis

            On Wednesday morning, I woke up in Williamsburg, VA and spent half of my day in a conference, which was fine because not only was the topic interesting, but also it was wet outside.  The rainy, dreary weather of course meant slow-moving traffic, but I made it back to Food & Friends just in time for our third Cooking Matters class- and what a class it was!  This week’s menu depicted the lovely bounty of fall -- seasonal fruits and vegetables were our inspiration.

            After I failed to include a dessert on the menu last week, the class demanded to be taught how to bake a “light” dessert.  So, with the oven preheating, I taught the class why dry and wet ingredients are mixed separately when making a cake.  This wasn’t just any cake, though.  To once again show off the able knife skills of my class, I had Bridgette, Doug and Renee finely dice some seasonal apples which Mervin then folded into the creamy batter.  And of course, what goes with apples better than cinnamon?  Soon, our delightfully spiced Cinnamon Apple cake was placed in the oven while we moved on to the next culinary feat.
            Most of the class had never purchased brussels sprouts on the stalk before.  Leona quite enjoyed the process of removing the buds from the stalk and trimming them of the outer leaves.  To keep things simple and preserve the robust flavor, the sprouts were lightly tossed in olive oil, pepper, parmesan and just a sprinkle of salt, then roasted to develop the natural sweetness.  Delish!  

            And since one vegetable dish is just never enough, Michelle and Ann started off our lip-smacking broccoli soup with some uniformly diced onions, celery and garlic bubbling in a bit of oil.  Broccoli, broth and earthy, sweet thyme were added to simmer.  The soup was pureed and finished off with a bit of milk for a velvety, belly-warming meal-starter. 

            The star of the meal was the hearty squash and sausage pasta.  The roasted butternut squash had to cool enough to handle and then was blended into a mashed potato consistency.  Sara and Tom sliced up some smoky turkey sausage; the savory flavor was developed further as the sausage was sautéed with onions and garlic.  Shariff added our pureed squash and soon a smooth, hearty sauce was ready to top our nutritious whole wheat penne.  Now, this is where comfort food meets healthy eats!  So, while the rain continued outside the windows, we were all quite comfortable inside enjoying the satisfying fruits of our labor and the beautiful bounty of fall!

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