Originally an aromatic blend meant for pumpkin pie, pumpkin spice quite simply overtakes all in fall, becoming the ubiquitous star of just about every food I hold near and dear: lattes and kombucha; butter, chocolate and cream cheese; breakfast cereal, bagels and protein powder; snacky-time nuts, chips and pretzels; savoury sausages, meat loaf and salsa; liqueurs, ales and my beloved please-don’t-mess-with-it vodka.
Not to be out-spiced by the food industry, various other companies have jumped onto the pumpkin spice bandwagon with deodorants, essential oils, fire logs, incense, room sprays, candles, colognes and soaps.
I am certain some day in the very near future my local petrol station will offer a choice of regular, premium and pumpkin spice gasoline.
Since it is impossible to avoid, I’m getting into the spirit of the season by making my own pumpkin spice mélange, which, I have to admit, is pretty darn good. And since I’m stocking up on cozy autumn spices, I’ll make the following recipes to deplete my stock before spring.
It all begins with the king of autumn madness, sweet and savoury punkin’ spice.
3 tbsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp ground cloves
In a small bowl, mix spices.
Store in a jar in the cupboard.
Add to pumpkin pie, pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin spice latte and more, much, much and infinitely much more.
Cinnamon and Sugar Glazed Pecans
These sweet pecans make a great snack or a lovely hostess gift when packed in a pretty tin. Scatter them over a salad of mixed greens, dried cranberries and blue cheese or use as a topping for mashed sweet potatoes or roasted butternut squash.
1 egg white
1 tbsp water
450 g pecan halves
1 cup white sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp salt
Preheat oven to 250˚F.
Using an electric mixer, in a large mixing bowl, beat egg white and water until foamy. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, stir together sugar, salt and cinnamon.
Add pecans to egg white mixture, gently mixing with a rubber spatula to coat. Transfer pecans to sugar mixture and, using the spatula, gently mix to coat.
Spread pecans in a single layer on 2 baking sheets that have been covered with parchment paper or foil. Bake at 250˚F for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Cool.
Match: Serve with Champagne.
Turkey à la King
Use leftover Thanksgiving turkey to make this dish, which includes directions for making a roux, a classic thickening agent for sauces and soups. Nutmeg is a great flavour booster for cream or cheese sauces. I always add a pinch or two to my Mornay sauce mac and cheese.
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp olive oil
2 cups chopped mushrooms
2 shallots, peeled and minced
1 sweet red pepper, seeded and minced
1/3 cup flour
3 1/2 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup dry sherry
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp dried thyme leaves
1/2 cup heavy cream
4 cups cooked turkey or chicken, cut into bite-sized cubes
1 cup frozen peas
Salt and pepper, to taste
In a large skillet, melt butter with olive oil over medium heat. Add mushrooms and sauté until softened and golden brown. Add shallots and peppers. Cook, stirring, until shallots and peppers soften.
Make roux: Stir in flour to coat mushroom mixture. Cook, stirring, until bubbly and flour has lost its raw aroma, about 5 minutes.
Add broth and sherry. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and cook, uncovered, until thickened, about 10 minutes. Add nutmeg, thyme, heavy cream, turkey and peas.
Simmer until turkey is heated through, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Great over toasted, buttered French bread or freshly baked buttermilk biscuits.
Match: Uncork a Chardonnay and celebrate good friends and good food.
Roasted Jerk Chicken
Allspice is the berry of an evergreen tree, native to South America and the West Indies. An essential ingredient in Caribbean cuisine, ground allspice is popular as a sweet baking ingredient in North America. It also lends a unique flavour to savoury Cincinnati Chili. You can purchase allspice whole or ground. If you prefer jerk chicken uber-hot, add a few spoonfuls of minced fresh scotch bonnet pepper to the rub instead of the cayenne pepper, which I have added here very weakly because I’m a chicken when it comes to hot flavours.
1 tbsp dark brown sugar
1 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
Pinch cayenne pepper
1/4 cup soy sauce
1.75 kg bone-in chicken thighs
1 fresh pineapple, peeled, cored and cut into cubes
In a large bowl, mix brown sugar, allspice, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Add chicken, tossing to coat. Transfer chicken to roasting pan and refrigerate 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 350˚F.
Pour lime juice and soy sauce over chicken. Roast chicken, uncovered, about 40 minutes or until chicken reaches an internal temperature of 170˚F.
Match: Serve with fresh pineapple and an IPA or pale ale.
I like this Milanese specialty because it includes a bouquet garni, which is the name of this column. A bouquet garni is simply a bunch of fresh and dried herbs, bundled into cheesecloth which is then secured with kitchen string. Some Osso Bucco recipes call for a gremolata garnish — a fresh mix of lemon zest, garlic and parsley — and you may certainly use it here. However, orange zest is a surprising and refreshing alternative. This recipe calls for two whole cloves. The buds of an evergreen tree, whole cloves add an exotic and welcome dash of umami to this dish. To use the remaining cloves, stud a ham with whole cloves before baking or add whole cloves to rice while it cooks. Whole cloves also add a mysterious note to mulled cider, hot chocolate and chai tea.
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
2 whole cloves
4 whole veal shanks
Salt and pepper, to taste
3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 cup dry white wine
3 1/2 cups chicken broth, or as needed
1 tbsp orange zest
Make a bouquet garni: Place rosemary, thyme, bay leaf and cloves in cheesecloth and tie with kitchen string.
Pat veal shanks dry with paper towels. Wrap kitchen string around each shank to keep them intact while cooking. Season with salt and pepper. Dredge in flour.
In a large Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add veal shanks to pan and brown on all sides. Remove and set aside.
In the same Dutch oven, add onion, carrot, celery and garlic. Sauté until vegetables are softened. Add tomato paste, stirring to coat vegetables.
Return veal to Dutch oven. Add wine and cook until wine is reduced by half. Add bouquet garni and 3 cups chicken broth. Reduce heat to low, cover pan and simmer 1 1/2 hours or until meat is tender. Turn veal every 30 minutes, adding broth as needed.
To serve, remove and discard bouquet garni. Transfer veal to a platter, remove string and pour juices over all. Garnish with orange zest.
Match: This is a dish where Barolo works well. You may also try my favourite wine — Châteauneuf-du-Pape.