Cozy and comforting: Hearty fall recipes from Harford County chefs

With the air chilling and harvest season upon us, local farmers markets are filling up with hearty produce like squash, carrots and apples.

Here, three Harford County chefs share some of their favorite ways to cook with autumnal ingredients. From warm, savory soups that temper the natural sweetness of fall vegetables with bits of heat, to a French-inspired, caramel-flecked tarte tatin made with Pink Lady apples, these recipes will pair perfectly with a cozy afternoon and a roaring fire.

Roasted Carrot and Ginger Soup

A knob of ginger adds heat and interested to roasted carrot soup created by Mike White, chef/owner of Fox & Fern Cafe. White replaces the carrots in traditional mirepoix — onion, carrot and celery — with grated ginger, adding the carrots later, after roasting. The result is sweet, hot and savory all at once.

Yields 6-8 servings

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds carrots, peeled and cut in half
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • ½ white onion, diced
  • 2 stalks tender celery, diced
  • 1 knob fresh ginger (each about the size of a golf ball), grated
  • 7 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 4 tablespoons fresh chives, sliced
  • Kosher salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Toss the carrots and one tablespoon of olive oil and spread them on a sheet tray. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast for about 20 minutes, until the exterior of the carrots are well-browned.
  3. In a stock pot over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons olive oil, onions, celery and ginger. Sweat the mixture over medium heat until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes
  4. Add the vegetable stock, roasted carrots and honey to the pot and turn the heat down to low. Simmer for 20 minutes.
  5. Allow the soup to cool. Then, working in batches, use a blender to puree until smooth. If necessary, add additional stock to thin the soup.
  6. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
  7. Garnish with chives and a drizzle of honey and serve.

Acorn Squash Soup with Spiced Pecans, Cilantro and Chili Oil

Alchemy Elements chef de cuisine Jeremy Wright garnishes his simple soup of roasted acorn squash with a drizzle of chili oil and sweet-and-spicy pecans, both of which pack a punch. The pecans, infused with multiple types of chili powder, honey and sugar before roasting, add flavor and a bit of crunch to the creamy, savory soup.

Yields 4 servings

For the chili oil:

  • 5 Cascabe chilies
  • 1 cup neutral oil

Directions

  1. Place chilies and oil in a blender and puree until blended.
  2. Strain the mixture into a container and allow the sediment to separate from the liquid.
  3. Save the liquid and discard the sediment.

For the spiced pecans:

  • 1 quart pecans
  • 1 ½ cups corn syrup
  • ¼ cup honey
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 3 teaspoons light chili powder
  • 3 teaspoons chipotle powder
  • 2 teaspoons Pasilla powder (a chili powder available at specialty stores and from Amazon.com)
  • 3 teaspoons dried chili de Arbol flakes

Directions

  1. Place all ingredients except pecans in a large pot over high heat and bring to a boil.
  2. Add the pecans and remove from heat. Let the pecans sit in the mixture to infuse for 30 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  4. Pour the mixture through a strainer, keeping the pecans.
  5. Place the pecans in one layer on a baking sheet. Dry them in the oven, at 1-minute intervals, until fragrant and toasted.
  6. Let cool and store covered, at room temperature.

For the soup:

  • 2 acorn squash
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 large shallot, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup white wine
  • 3 quarts heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon cold water
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Chili oil, for garnish
  • Crushed pecans
  • 1 handful golden raisins
  • 1 bunch micro cilantro

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cut acorn squash in half. Rub each half with about one tablespoon olive oil, until completely covered. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Place on a baking sheet, face-up and roast until soft, about 25 minutes.
  4. While the squash is roasting, cover the bottom of a large pot with olive oil (about 2 tablespoons) and place over medium heat.
  5. Add the shallots and garlic, sweating them out until fragrant, about 2-4 minutes.
  6. Add the wine and bring to a boil, deglazing the pan. Let the wine reduce for about 2 minutes.
  7. When squash is soft, scoop out its flesh; discard the remainder..
  8. Add the cream and the squash flesh to the pot, bring the mixture to a boil, then turn down to a simmer for 5 minutes.
  9. Working in batches if necessary, puree the mixture until smooth and run it through a fine mesh strainer before returning it to the pan.
  10. Whisk together the cornstarch and water to make a slurry. Add the slurry to the soup mixture, stirring to thicken.
  11. Season the soup with salt and pepper.
  12. Divide the soup into bowls and garnish with a drizzle of chili oil, a few golden raisins, a sprinkle of crushed pecans and a few pieces of micro cilantro.

Pink Lady Tarte Tatin

One Eleven Main pastry chef Tristan Bravard’s take on the classic French tarte tatin is a beautiful creation featuring sweet, fragrant Pink Lady apples and a dusting of homemade caramel powder. Bravard sometimes makes the tarte rectangular, though it can also be created using a round pie pan.

Yields 5 servings

Ingredients

  • 5 pink lady apples, cored and peeled
  • 1 sheet puff pastry, defrosted
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 1 1/3 cups corn syrup
  • 1 stick butter
  • Vanilla ice cream (for serving)

Special equipment: 10-inch pie pan (optional), candy thermometer (optional), food processor

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Roll out the puff pastry until it is about 1/8-inch thick. Dock the pastry with a dough docker or a fork.
  3. If using a pie tin, cut the pastry to the appropriate size. If using a rectangular pan, leave as a rectangle.
  4. Place the dough on a sheet tray lined with parchment paper. Cover the dough with another piece of parchment, then place a sheet tray and a heavy pan on top, to keep the dough in place.
  5. Bake the dough for 15 minutes, then remove and score into portion sizes (if rectangular) or rotate (if using a pie tin). Bake an additional 15 minutes.
  6. After removing the dough from the oven, lower the temperature to 375 degrees..
  7. While the dough is cooking, line another sheet tray with parchment paper.
  8. In a saucepan over high heat, combine sugar and corn syrup. Cook, constantly stirring, until a dark caramel forms (about 390-395 degrees on a candy thermometer).
  9. Slowly add the butter while stirring, until the caramel becomes thick and beautiful.
  10. Strain the caramel mixture onto the parchment-lined sheet tray and let it sit, allowing it to crystallize.
  11. Once the caramel is hard, smash it into pieces and use a food processor to turn it to a powder. (It’s OK if some chunks are left, as they will melt later.)
  12. Cut the apples into quarters and slice into 1/8-inch slices, preferably using a mandolin. (Optional: place the apples in lemon juice while slicing, to prevent browning.)
  13. Dust the bottom of the pie pan (either round or rectangular) with a heavy layer of the caramel powder. Layer the apples on top, keeping them as flat as possible. Dust a layer of caramel powder on top of the apples and continue to layer and dust until no dust or apples are left.
  14. Place the apples in the oven and bake for 40 minutes. Remove and place parchment on top of the apples, then cover with a pan of the same size and squeeze the juice from the apples; save this juice for later.
  15. Return the apples to the oven and bake for an additional 15 minutes or until the apples are cooked through.
  16. Place the reserved juice in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil and reduce by half for a glaze.
  17. Using a plate or a sheet tray, flip the tatin out of the pan and onto the baked puff pastry, then glaze with the reserved juice.
  18. Serve with vanilla ice cream.
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