With the fall harvests all collected and a chill in the air, here are a few of my autumn recipes with an Italian flair. They all fit the season so use the most popular winter squash and pumpkin for something other than a Jack o’ Lantern.
Wilted greens, crunchy apples and pears help savor this wonderful season for cooking. Whether you are looking for a new dish to add to your fall line-up or just in the mood for a seasonable switch, my Pumpkin Risotto (creamy) with Italian bacon (Pancetta) and Parmigiano is the perfect accent to a rich fall flavor with a tinge of Italian.
Fall is also a time for game. Very popular are game dinners at restaurants and special club events. They serve pheasant, quail, goat, deer and whatever else is caught during hunting season. So below is my pheasant recipe; very simple and not gamey at all.
A funny story for me is as a young bride of five months, I invited both our families to dinner at Easter. My husband said let’s have pheasant as the entrée. I went into instant panic…Pheasant!! I don’t know how to cook that – are you kidding? was my response. So he went to the Bronx in New York to the famed butcher shop, Vincent’s on Arthur Avenue and bought 14 individual pheasants. I stared down at these babies and started to cry. I wound up stuffing each one of them; cooked and broiled them with a glaze. My neighbor was Don Di Donna who owned Vesuvius restaurant and he popped over and coached me through it. Easter came and I presented my cooking skills and everyone just stared down at it and didn’t know what to say. They all wound up loving it!
In another issue I will tell you how a butcher in Montclair killed a baby goat, cured it and I had to cook it!!!
I love the fall, not just for cooking, but for cozy sweaters, that special aroma in the air, for sleeping under my comforter and for football games.Autumn is in full swing so why not embrace the cooler weather with the rest of my fall entrees and desserts.
Creamy Pumpkin Risotto with Pancetta and Parmigiano
Topped with crispy Pancetta and freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano, this creamy spiced pumpkin risotto will melt in your mouth and surprise you with its ease. It is absolutely scrumptious, whether as a full meal, side dish, dinner or lunch, you’ll be delighted with this recipe.
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 tsp minced garlic
1 cup Arborio rice
2-1/2 cups chicken broth
1/4 tsp sea salt salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/4 cup Parmigiano, freshly grated, plus more for serving
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 strips thick-cut Pancetta, chopped
Melt butter in a large saucepan over a medium flame. Add the onion and cook until tender. Add the garlic and rice and sauté for about 1 minute. Add 2 cups of the chicken broth, salt, pepper and nutmeg; cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the remaining 1/2 cup broth and the pumpkin and cook for another 5 minutes. The rice will be tender and slightly moist. Remove from the heat and stir in the Parmigiano and cream. Cover while you prepare the Pancetta.
In a small pan, sauté chopped Pancetta on medium-high heat until crispy, 6-7 minutes. Place on a plate lined with paper towels to drain excess oil. Serve risotto, topped with crispy Pancetta and freshly grated Parmigiano.
Roasted Pumpkin, Arugula and Dried Cherry Salad
Roasted pumpkin turns an ordinary salad into a very special fall treat. This time of the year offers so many different varieties of seasonal produce including winter greens, cabbage, brussel sprouts and of course, winter squash. Pumpkin is one of the favorite varieties of winter squash and roasted cubes of pumpkin are perfect for this salad, mixed with peppery arugula greens and dressed with a light maple syrup vinaigrette.
1 small pumpkin (about 3-4 pounds) peeled, seeded and cut into 1 ½ inch chunks
2 tbsp olive oil olive oil
salt and pepper
1 1/2 pounds fresh arugula
1/4 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup dried cherries or cranberries
For the dressing
3 tbsp white balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp maple syrup
1/4 cup olive oil
Preheat oven to 450°F. Toss the pumpkin pieces with the two tablespoons olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Spread the pumpkin across a foil lined baking sheet and bake for about 35 minutes or until the pumpkin is tender when pierced with a fork and is beginning to brown. Cool to room temperature.
In a small bowl, whisk together the ingredients for the dressing. Place the arugula, pumpkin pieces, pumpkin seeds and dried cherries in a bowl. Drizzle with the dressing. Toss gently to mix and serve.
To ensure that lean pheasants remain perfectly plump and moist, cook them slowly and coat with butter or olive oil. In a large skillet, sauté the pheasants in butter for 10 minutes over a medium-low flame. Remove the pheasants from the skillet and sauté the mushrooms in the butter remaining in the skillet for 8-10 minutes. Return the pheasants to the pan and add the lemon juice, wine, onions, plus salt and pepper to taste. Cover and simmer over a low flame for 1 hour, until the pheasants are tender. Baste with the cooking liquid every 15-20 minutes.
Nothing says autumn like a pumpkin cake. The variations for this cake are numerous. This is the basic cake; feel free to augment by adding nuts, candied fruit, raisins and or cranberries. This recipe has no frosting but you can ice it with your favorite mascarpone frosting recipe.
2/3 cup of sugar
3/4 cup mashed pumpkin
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup of flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp ground anise
1/4 tsp salt
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Beat the eggs using a mixer at high speed until they are foamy. Add the sugar a little bit at a time beating in between sugar additions and continue until the mixture is thick and pale. Combine the flour and the remaining ingredients. Add the pumpkin mixture and combine well. Pour into a cake pan and bake for 20 minutes. Once the cake has cooled, sprinkle with powdered sugar.
Blackberry and Pear Crisp
2 cups fresh blackberries
2 cups diced, ripe pear
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 tbsp lemon juice
3 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
6 shortbread cookies, coarsely crumbled
¼ cup rolled oats
2 tbsp flour
½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup heavy cream
¼ cup powdered sugar
½ tsp ground cinnamon
Preparation Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. and lightly butter 4 (3 ½ inch) ramekins. In a bowl, toss together fruit, flour, lemon juice and sugar. Divide fruit equally between four ramekins. In another bowl, place the topping ingredients, and use your fingertips to rub the butter in until crumbly. Sprinkle the topping over the fruit and bake the ramekins for 20 to 25 min until golden brown. While the crumbles are baking, beat the whipped cream until stiff, then add the powdered sugar and cinnamon. Serve the crumbles warm, with a dollop of whipped cream on top.