Harvesting Autumn’s Bounty
At Epicurean Group, we celebrate the harvest season with our partners – the organic and sustainable farms and ranches situated across the beautiful, Northern California countryside.
Autumn is a favorite time of year for me – my menu choices are endless. Here, I’ve crafted recipes using ingredients from Capay and Lundberg Family Farms, Stemple Creek Ranch and the artisan cheese makers at Cowgirl Creamery. Prepare this delicious and easy menu and enjoy nature’s fall bounty with family and friends.
—Chef Rey Hernandez,
Co-Founder and VP, Epicurean Group
Lundberg Family Farms Wild Rice and Mushroom Soup
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
2 teaspoons garlic, chopped
1 cup wild rice
4 cups vegetable stock
4 tablespoons butter
1 lb. Crimini mushrooms, sliced
1/2 lb. Shitake mushrooms, diced
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 teaspoon tomato paste
5 ounces dry sherry
7 cups chicken stock
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup whipping cream
Add rice, thyme, bay leaf and 1/4 teaspoon garlic and vegetable stock to small saucepot. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook until rice pops open and is tender, about 45 – 50 minutes.
In a separate stockpot, melt butter over high heat. Add mushrooms, onions, remaining garlic and tomato paste. Cook until vegetables are browned and fragrant. Add 3 ounces of sherry then reduce until almost dry. Add chicken stock and bring to just boiling. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
In a small bowl, mix together cornstarch and rest of sherry. Whip until smooth and creamy. Add to soup and raise heat until just boiling. Stir and cook until thickened.
Remove from heat and add rice and cream. Add kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste. Let soup rest for 20 minutes and then keep warm until ready to serve.
Ladle soup into 8 soup bowls and serve immediately.
Link to recipe: Lundberg Family Farms Wild Rice and Mushroom Soup
Capay Farms Organic Arugula and Radicchio with Warm Pacheco Dairy Goat Cheese and Warm Citrus Vinaigrette
2 heads radicchio, washed, dried and torn into bite-sized pieces
4 large bunches arugula, washed, dried and stems trimmed
4 ounces goat cheese, sliced into 8 equal rounds
6 ounces extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 small shallot, finely chopped
1/4 cup fresh-squeezed orange juice
Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Place greens in a salad bowl and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
The cheese and dressing should both be prepared just before serving.
Place cheese in a non-reactive pan and place in oven until just warm, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, heat oil in a saucepan until just rippling. Add garlic and shallot and cook until just browned, Turn off heat and stir in juice. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pour over greens and toss to coat. Divide salad onto 8 plates and top with warm goat cheese. Serve immediately.
Stemple Creek Ranch Lamb on Rosemary Skewers with Salsa Verde, Creamy Polenta with Feta and Organic Butternut Squash Roasted with Red Onions and Sage
For the Lamb
6 cloves garlic, peeled and mashed finely
2 sprigs fresh thyme
16 branches rosemary leaves; reserve branches
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 lbs. lamb sirloin cut into 2-ounce cubes
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
Combine all garlic, thyme, rosemary and oil in a stainless steel bowl. Season lamb with salt and pepper and add to oil mixture. Cover and refrigerate overnight, turning once. Soak rosemary branches in water and refrigerate.
The next day, preheat grill or, if using charcoal, wait until coals are white. Use a metal skewer to poke a hole in each piece of lamb, then insert the rosemary branch. Skewer all lamb. Season with salt and pepper and allow to drain over cooling rack. Reserve drained marinade for basting while grilling.
Place skewers on grill and cook to desired doneness. (3 – 5 minutes on each side for rare.) Keep warm until serving.
For the Salsa Verde
3 cloves garlic, peeled
2 medium whole anchovies, rinsed under warm water
2 tablespoons capers, drained
2 teaspoons, fresh marjoram leaves
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
1 cup Italian parsley leaves
1 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Fresh ground pepper
Note: A food processor may be used in place of a mortar and pestle to prepare the salsa.
Pound garlic and anchovy to a paste in a mortar and transfer to a small bowl. Pound capers to a paste in the mortar and add to the small bowl. Pound marjoram, mint and parsley until almost a paste and add to the small bowl. Add oil to the bowl in a slow stream, beating with a fork until all is incorporated. Add lemon juice and pepper to taste. Set aside.
For the Polenta
6 cups vegetable stock
1 1/2 cups stone-ground polenta
3 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
Fresh ground pepper
4 ounces of feta, drained and crumbled
2 ears of fresh corn, kernels removed and milk* reserved
1/2 cup dry apricots, chopped coarsely
Heat stock in a thick-bottom saucepan to a rolling boil. Reduce heat to low and slowly pour polenta into stock while whipping until all is incorporated. Add the dry apricots.
Cover the pot and cook, stirring the polenta with a wooden spatula* every 5 minutes until smooth. Scrape bottom and sides of pot. Cook until polenta is soft and smooth, about 25 – 30 minutes. Add the butter and season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in corn kernels and corn milk until smooth. Remove from heat and keep warm.
For the Butternut Squash
4 lbs. butternut squash*, peeled, seeded* and cut in 1-inch cubes
2 medium red onions, peeled and diced
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 bunches sage, finely chopped
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place squash, and onions in a large bowl and toss with oil. Add salt, pepper and sage until evenly coated. Spread out evenly on a sheet pan. Place in oven and roast, stirring every 10 – 15 minutes until they are tender and evenly browned, about 30 – 40 minutes. Remove from oven and serve immediately.
Spoon salsa verde onto 8 dinner plates. Spoon polenta onto plates and top with feta cheese. Place lamb skewers on salsa, add butternut squash and serve immediately.
*Epicurean TipCorn “Milk” – Don’t Throw Away Flavor!
After removing the kernels from the cob, scrape the cob with the back of your knife to remove the corn’s “milk” and add it to the kernels for extra flavor.
*Epicurean TipUse a Wooden Paddle for Easy Stirring
When preparing polenta, we recommend using a wooden spatula or paddle for ease in scraping the sides and bottom of the pot.
*Epicurean TipPreparing Butternut Squash
Cutting and peeling raw butternut squash can be difficult. Be sure to start with a sharp French (chef’s) knife. Cut off the ends and then cut the squash half where the thin end meets with the bulb of the squash. If you meet with resistance, use a thick towel folded over the back of the knife to apply slow, even pressure with the palm of your hand. Peel with a knife or sharp peeler, in downward strokes, then cut the pieces in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Dice the flesh into 1-inch cubes for roasting.
*Epicurean TipToasted Squash Seeds
For a tasty snack, toast the seeds from butternut squash. Heat oven to 275°. Wash the seeds in a bowl of water to remove seed fiber. Drain the seeds and remove any remaining bits of flesh or fiber. Spread on a cotton dishtowel and allow to dry. Place seeds in a bowl, add olive oil to lightly coat, and salt. Place seeds in one layer on a cookie sheet and toast in warmed oven until seeds brown, about 10 minutes, checking doneness by taste.
Ginger Pear Crisp with Lemon-Scented Cowgirl Creamery Crème Fraîche
1 cup whole almonds
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup packed, light brown sugar
6 tablespoons evaporated cane juice
1 teaspoon ground ginger
3 tablespoons crystallized ginger, chopped coarsely
1/8 teaspoon, plus a pinch, kosher salt
8 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh ginger, grated
1 1/2 teaspoons Meyer lemon juice
4 lbs. ripe but firm Bartlett pears
2 cups crème fraîche
Zest* from 1 Meyer lemon
Preheat oven to 425 degrees
Process almonds, flour, brown sugar, 3 tablespoons cane juice, and 1/8 teaspoon salt in food processor until finely chopped. Drizzle butter over flour mixture and pulse in processor until it resembles wet sand. Set aside.
Mix remaining cane juice, cornstarch, fresh ginger, lemon juice and a pinch of salt in a large non-reactive bowl. Peel pears, cut in half and remove cores. Cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces. Add to lemon sugar mixture and toss to coat. Place the pears into 8 individual tart pans. Sprinkle almond flour mix over pears.
Mix lemon zest with crème fraîche and set aside. Bake tarts until fruit is bubbling and the topping is golden brown, about 25 – 30 minutes. Remove from oven and rest on a wire rack for 15 minutes.
Serve warm with a dollop of crème fraîche on each.
*Epicurean TipZesting Citrus
We recommend a microplane zester for zesting lemon and other citrus fruits. If you do not have this handy kitchen tool, use a grater or peeler, but take care not to remove the bitter pith – the white part of the peel with the skin.