Culinary Chronicles by Chef Vincent Fazi
While the Pumpkin Spice Lattes have been running rampant, I’ve composed a list of some trending fall ingredients and flavors that should give pumpkin spice a run for its money.
1. Chestnuts - Sure pecan and walnuts are great but chestnuts are fantastic if you’re up to the task. Their hard outside shell has to be scored and removed (possibly roasted on an open fire?) but what you’re left with is this tender, sweet nut flavor great with coarse salt or tossed into a brussel sprout salad.
2. Brown Butter – if you can melt butter you can make brown butter. It’s the product of purposely cooking those milk solids in butter until golden brown. The end product is this toasty, nutty butter that pairs perfect with acorn squash ravioli, vinaigrettes and even made into ice cream.
3. Acorn Squash – speaking of root veggies, acorn squash is a fun alternative to butternut. The slightly sweet squash is great for halving then stuffing or even cut into half-moons, roast and eat like it’s the fall watermelon.
4. Sorghum Syrup – Brown sugar and molasses while great and have a place in my pantry, my obsession lately has been with sorghum syrup. Think of it as the sweeter, slightly thinner version of molasses. Try using it instead of maple syrup on pancakes or whipping into butter for biscuits.
5. Dates – This fruit from the Middle East offers a range of uses and flavors. Most commonly found in its dehydrated state, dates can be stuffed, wrapped, sliced and pureed into a range of dishes from savory to sweet. The flavor of dates is like a caramel/molasses raisin.
6. Leeks – The dirtier brother to onions, scallions and garlic, leeks offer a mild, subtle onion flavor. Classic use for leeks is in vichyssoise, a chilled potato soup where the leeks don’t offend anyone. Try charring them on the grill with olive oil or slicing then braising in butter for a tender, rich side/meat topping.
7. Calvados – Fall isn’t complete without apples in some form. Enter Calvados, a type of brandy made from apples and/or pears. Calvados is fermented apple cider that is aged on oak barrels for a minimum of 2 years. Young Calvados has fresher apple and pear flavor while more aged Calvados tastes of dried fruit and aroma of nuts. Try as an aperitif, digestif or in a spritzer.
8. Manzanilla Sherry – Translated as chamomile in Spanish and is similar in flavor and aroma. This type of Sherry, Manzanilla is great as an aperitif or spritzer and pairs well with seafood, cured meats like Jamon Serrano and olives.