When autumn and winter hits, we seem to lose the desire to cook with farm fresh ingredients. One of my dreams as a young chef, was to be able to host dinner parties with friends with the most elegant food to join us. With these three starter recipes, I wanted showcase all that autumn has to offer in its harvest in that dinner party setting. The three recipes make enough for 20 guests. This menu consists of several ingredients that we associate with the seasonal change and some that may surprise you.
First, I created the One Bite Caramelized Peaches with a Phyllo Chip topped with Lemon Zest & Chopped Almonds. Peaches are a wonderful late summer fruit because they can be bought and last for a good month into fall. I wanted the peaches to take on a less traditional, but still autumnal flavor profile. That can be created by cooking the peaches in a quick caramel and topping off with nutty almonds and bright lemon zest.
Next on the list, Maple Meringues with Butternut Squash Puree and Coffee Roasted Seeds sprinkled on top. This one just screams fall to me. From the New Hampshire maple syrup to the cinnamon and apple juice in the puree. This one will kick off fall in a modern fashion.
The more simple recipe is the Jam & Cream Cheese Baguette Points with Honeycomb. These crostinis take advantage of all the beautiful, brightly colored jams from the summer. It is a great bridge for some of your guests who are hesitant to more gourmet hors d'oeuvres. Last week, my mother drove me deeper into the country and we found this single stand with home harvested honey. The honey had this gorgeous honeycomb inside and when I tried it, I was shocked at how delightful it was in texture and flavor.
These hors d'oeuvres are going to throw your fall party guests for a loop. Their flavors take full advantage of the season in such a modern way and that is the beauty of cooking. I love being able to transfer simple ingredients into fantastical, aweing food.
One Bite Caramelized Peaches with Phyllo Chip topped with Lemon Zest & Chopped Almonds
- Thaw the phyllo dough to room temperature and carefully unroll the dough. Preheat the oven to 350'F. Paint a sheet tray with one layer of melted butter.
- Lay one sheet of phyllo on top of the butter. Brush more butter on and place another sheet on top. Paint the top with butter and place in the oven for 6 to 7 minutes.
- Pour the sugar into a small saute pan and stir continuously over medium heat until all the sugar is dissolved.
- Add in the butter and stir until golden brown. Gently plant the peach slices into the caramel and cook for 3 minutes until they soften.
- To construct the starter, layer two slices of peach in a small bowl or the one bite spoons. Cut the cooked phyllo into small strips and set on top. Garnish with fresh lemon zest and the chopped almonds.
// Peaches //
- 1 peach sliced into thin half moons
- 3 ounces of granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon of butter
- pinch of salt
// Phyllo Chip //
- 2 sheets of phyllo dough
- 1 tablespoon of melted butter
// Garnish //
- 1 lemon zested
- 3 almonds finely chopped
Maple Meringues with Butternut Squash Puree & Coffee Roasted Seeds
- Preheat the oven to 250'F. Whip the egg whites together in a cold metal bowl until small peaks form. Gradually add the sugar as you continue whisking.
- Once stiff peaks begin to form, add in the maple syrup. The mixture should be thick enough to pipe. Using a star tip, pipe a thin closed circle on a sheet tray with a piece of parchment and bring the egg whites up to form a wall.
- Place the meringues in the oven for 1 1/2 hours. Turn the oven off and allow them to set up in the oven for another 30 minutes. Pull them out and cool.
- Raise the oven temperature to 400'F. Cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Wash the seeds off. Place the squash on a sheet tray and bake for 1 hour.
- Put the clean seeds on a separate sheet tray and pour the coffee over top. Roast the seeds for 7 minutes.
- Puree the squash with all of the ingredients in a food processor until pleasantly smooth. Spoon the puree into the meringue cups and top off with the roasted seeds.
// Meringues //
- 4 egg whites
- 1 cup of granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons of maple syrup
// Puree //
- 1 small butternut squash
- 1/8 + 1 tablespoon of apple juice
- 3 tablespoons of brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon of raw, organic honey
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt
- 1/4 teaspoon of pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
// Seeds //
- 1/4 cup of seeds (squash or pumpkin)
- 2 tablespoons of coffee
Jam & Cream Cheese Baguette Points with Honeycomb
- Toast the baguettes in a toaster or 350'F oven until golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes.
- Smooth the cream cheese on to the toasted point and stick a mint leave to the end of it.
- Layer the jam over the cream cheese and drizzle honey on top.
- Place a 1/2 teaspoon amount of honeycomb over the jam for the perfect finishing touch.
// Crostini //
- 20 french bread points cut on a diagonal
- 1/2 cup of various jam (raspberry pictured)
- 1/4 cup of cream cheese
- 20 mint leaves
- 1/8 cup of raw, organic honey