I love autumn. It’s one of the reasons that (along with my mortgage) it would be a big thing for me to leave Ohio. I love the colors, the weather and the food of autumn. And, just as Memorial Day brings about permission to wear white shoes, the beginning of autumn is the time when mass amounts of butter, once again, are socially acceptable.
To celebrate this change in season, I threw a small dinner party. And I got all Martha Stewart-ey.
Three of the five things I made contained butter, and the fourth, the appetizers above, had butter in the name of one of the ingredients. (You’re looking at a CSA apple on a Carr’s cracker with either Ohio apple butter or Ohio goat cheese.) Fun fact #1: Until Sunday, I had no idea how to slice an apple so that it looked visually appealing.
Having the dinner on a Sunday allowed me to clean house and make the dinner special. I pulled out the big table for the first time since November of last year, when I hosted a dinner party with food based in Kenya, Hawaii and Indonesia. (You can connect the dots.) I created a small centerpiece out of mums from the front yard and paired a few candles with some beans I found in the pantry. Instant decor.
My menu was simple. My oft repeated Carrot Soup (with butter, of course), Onion and Leek Chutney (above), Apple and Ginger Roasted Chicken and, to give the arteries a break, steamed French beans with Lemon Juice. For dessert, I’d purchased a gorgeous (and unfortunately, unphotographed) apple tart from Pistacia Vera. Aside from the soup, nothing required a real recipe. The chutney was a combination of red onions, yellow onions and leeks from my CSA. I thinly sliced them, slowly sautéed them in butter and added raisins, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper when they were soft.
Because I was serving seven people, I roasted two chickens*. I grabbed handfuls of my favorite flavors to shove under the skin. These little guys were seasoned with apple butter, fresh ginger, sage from the yard, ground cloves, shallots from the CSA and, of course, butter. Fun fact #2: I have no idea if I roast chickens upside down or not. Either way, it doesn’t seem to affect the flavor. Of all the things I shoved into the chickens, the ginger and the cloves came through. The rest melted to the bottom of the pan, and will make a wonderful chicken stock.
My dishes were joined by a Squash & Sage Orzo and Pumpkin Cookies with Browned Butter Icing, generously provided by one of the couples, Terra and Joe. Those two items quickly became my favorite parts of the dinner, and luckily for me, lunch the next day.
Good food, good conversations and good friends. Welcome autumn. I’m glad you’re here.
Butternut Sage Orzo
from Simply in Season
1 cup onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
4 cups butternut squash (peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces)
1/2 cup veg or chicken broth
1/2 cup white wine or additional broth
1 cup orzo
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons fresh sage, chopped (or 1 1/2 tsp dried)
*When roasting chickens, I cook them at 350 or 375 for 20 minutes per pound, plus another 20 minutes.