Autumn might be the best time of year for cooking, especially this year. An uncharacterically cool summer slowed the harvest of many crops by as much as a month. As a result, there will be plenty of produce available until the first frost visits. Add this bounty to the urge to cook that stirs in many as the weather cools, and meals show great promise.
The main course skillet stew is easy and quick. Pork tenderloin, an especially lean and tender cut of meat, allows the whole recipe to be cooked in less than 20 minutes.
For dessert, slices of tart apples are caramelized and laced with bourbon, readying them for scoops of coffee ice cream and a decadently rich topping of apple cider whipped cream.
Skillet pork stew with cabbage and peppers Makes 4 to 6 servings
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon each: thyme, paprika, pepper
1 1/4 pounds pork tenderloin, cubed
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar or white wine vinegar
1/4 head green cabbage, cut in 1-inch cubes
1 medium leek, rinsed, diced
1 each: small red and green bell pepper, diced
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1/4 - 1/3 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
brown rice for serving
Combine the flour, 1 teaspoon salt, the thyme, paprika and pepper in a large plastic food bag. Add the meat and shake so it is evenly coated. Heat the oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add the meat, shaking off any extra flour. Brown well on all sides; set aside as it is cooked.
With the pan over high heat, add
1 tablespoon of the vinegar. Scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the vegetables and ginger; cook, stirring often, until they begin to soften, 4 to 5 minutes.
Add the meat and 1/4 cup chicken broth; cover and simmer until the meat is cooked through but still tender, 5 to 8 minutes. If mixture is too dry, add additional chicken broth.
Add remaining tablespoon vinegar, salt and pepper to taste and the cilantro. Serve over brown rice.
Cider apple sundaes Makes 4 servings
1 cup unfiltered apple cider
1 stick cinnamon
1 cup whipping cream
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, cut in 1/2 -inch wedges
1/4 cup apple cider
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon rind
1 tablespoon bourbon or dark rum
coffee or vanilla ice cream for serving
1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans
For the topping, boil the apple cider with the cinnamon stick in a small non-aluminum saucepan until cider is reduced to 1/4 cup, about 10 minutes. Remove and reserve cinnamon stick. Chill cider.
Combine chilled cider with whipping cream. Beat with an electric mixer until it holds soft peaks. Add brown sugar and vanilla and mix well.
Can be made several hours in advance, covered and refrigerated.
For apple compote, melt butter in a large skillet. Add apples and reserved cinnamon stick; cook over high heat until apples begin to soften, 2 to 3 minutes. Add cider and cook until apples are tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in granulated sugar, lemon rind and bourbon and remove from heat.
To serve, spoon warm apples into serving bowls and top with ice cream. Top with whipped cream and pecans.