The Farmplate Blog

An Autumn Harvest Meal

Sean Buchanan Oct 11, 2011 Real Food 0 comments

You can tell the harvest season is upon us by the sudden appearance of scarves, the endless supply of Halloween candy in stores, and the return of college football. Now is the time to indulge in the last bounty of the growing season and feast like royalty. It's also the time for those blessed root vegetables, potatoes, squashes, onions, pumpkins, lamb, grass-fed beef, sheep's milk cheese and apples.

For some, the highlight of fall harvest time is the fresh pressed cider and the smell of sugared doughnuts in the morning, or the excitement generated as each apple varietal reaches the peak of flavor. There's nothing like the pleasure of snapping into an crisp, fresh apple bursting with flavor. 

This season, our favorite culinary staples, fresh from the farm, can awaken the chef in all of us. There's nothing wild and crazy about a carrot, beet or pumpkin, but I've been happily eating roasted beets for lunch the last three weeks. A carrot ginger purée, hearty borscht or a five-spice grilled pumpkin can take your breath away.

Even though meat is produced year-round, late summer and fall are when genetics and diet show their true importance. The crisp, cool air signals it's time to pack on more pounds for winter.

"I love the foods of the fall. When the air gets cold, all I can think about is braising hearty meats and feasting on endless squashes," admits chef Brian Tomlinson of Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe, Vermont.

Try out these recipes and make use of the bountiful autumn harvest from your favorite local farms, including those hearty meats and endless squash:

from the FarmPlate Kitchen

2     small skirt steaks (such as those from Boyden Farm*)
2     tablespoon olive oil
clove of fresh garlic, minced
1     sprig of fresh thyme
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1     cup crème fraiche (such as Vermont Butter & Cheese Creamery)
½    shallot, minced
2     tablespoons freshly grated or prepared horseradish (try Whalen's Horseradish or Saw Mill Site Farm Horseradish)
Juice of half a lemon
1     tablespoon whole grain mustard (learn more about this condiment from the National Mustard Museum)
Pinch of kosher salt

Before you winterize that grill, give it one light and let it rip. In a mixing bowl, add the cleaned skirt steaks. Trim off the excess fat and place in the mixing bowl. Add the other ingredients and massage them into the meat. Let the meat sit in the refrigerator for at least two hours, up to 24 hours.

In a medium mixing bowl, add the crème fraiche, shallot, horseradish, lemon juice, mustard and salt. Stir slowly and chill in the refrigerator for at least one hour.

Turn your grill on high and grill the steaks evenly and uncovered for about 2 to 3 minutes on each side at medium heat. Remove from the grill and let them rest for 5 minutes. Slice the steaks against the grain and serve with a dollop of horseradish-mustard crème fraiche.

Serves 4. 

*Boyden Farm ribeye steak is pictured to the right

from the FarmPlate Kitchen

1     medium butternut squash, peeled and cut into cubes
2     tablespoons olive oil
¼    cup rough-chopped fresh Italian parsley
1     tablespoon white truffle oil or truffle-flavored oil 
Flaked sea salt (such as Maldon brand or Mendocino Sea Salt and Seasoning Company), for dusting 

Turn your oven to 450 degrees and get out a nonstick cookie sheet. If you don't have one, simply spray a sheet pan well with cooking spray. 

In a mixing bowl, toss the cubed butternut squash with the olive oil and a little sea salt. Mix thoroughly and place evenly on the cookie sheet. Place in the oven and bake for 30 to 40 minutes until the squash begins to brown. 

Remove from the oven and toss back in a mixing bowl. Add parsley, season with salt, and drizzle on the truffle oil. Mix and serve. 

Serves 6.

from the FarmPlate Kitchen

2     medium to large potatoes, scrubbed well
1     apple, washed
½    tablespoon fresh rosemary, minced
½    cup cheddar, shredded
1    egg
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1   tablespoon olive oil 

Using a box grater or food processor, grate the potatoes and apples together. Pour into a mixing bowl and add the rest of the ingredients. Mix thoroughly and let rest for about 10 minutes. Strain out the excess liquid.

Place a skillet on the stove at medium heat. Add small hand-formed flattened cakes into the pan -- about ¼-cup each. Cook on each side for about 4 to 5 minutes, then remove from the pan and season with salt and pepper. Serve as a starch, or with chutney or apple butter. 

Serves 4 to 6. 

from the FarmPlate Kitchen

1     cup all-purpose flour
¼    teaspoon ground cinnamon
⅛   teaspoon ground ginger
1     pinch ground allspice
½    tablespoon kosher salt
1     tablespoon baking powder
½    tablespoon cornstarch
1     cup shredded apple (we love Champlain Orchards)
½    cup maple syrup
1     egg
¼    cup apple cider
Vegetable oil
Maple sugar, for dusting

Maple Sweet Cream
1     cup sour cream
½    cup maple syrup
1     pinch cayenne pepper
1     pinch salt

In a small bowl, mix the sour cream, maple syrup, cayenne pepper and salt to create the maple sweet cream. Set aside. 

In a separate bowl, add all of the dry ingredients for the fritters and mix evenly. Add the shredded apple, maple syrup, and egg. Mix until lumpy. Slowly drizzle in apple cider until a dough the consistency of drop biscuits begins to form. 

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, place enough oil to make a 1-inch layer. When the oil reaches 350 degrees, use a mini ice cream scoop or spoon to place 2 tablespoons of batter in the oil. Fry evenly until golden brown and flip carefully. When the batter is cooked all of the way through, place the fritters on a paper towel to remove excess grease. 

To serve, lay a base of the maple sweet cream and place fritters on top. Dust with maple sugar. 

Serves 4 to 6. 

Photo credits: Sean Buchanan

Sean Buchanan is a FarmPlate staffer and an advocate for local growers, producers and small businesses that focus on building Vermont's agricultural community through its local food system.