As much as I'd like to play along with October's "31 Days..." blogging meme, I'm not organized nor thoughtful enough to think of an over-arching theme. How about I try to post every day, or nearly every day, and stick to one subject in each post? That alone should be challenging enough for me.
Today is all about the food. It's October 1st, time to pull out all the fall food recipes. I just submitted a grocery order that spills over with squash, late season tomatoes, several types of apples and sweet potatoes. The pantry already has plenty of maple syrup, brown sugar, pie spices and other goodies to transform the raw ingredients into autumn-flavored goodness.
In November, I'll be hosting another Dinner for Twelve Strangers. There are three, maybe four new dishes vying for a place on the menu.
The first is a maple-pecan sweet potato made hasselback style. Partially bake the potatoes, then slice hasselback style. The "stuffing" for the slices is a mix of maple syrup, pecans, butter, vanilla and cinnamon. Put them back in the oven to finish cooking. I'm planning to try it out as a side dish for dinner one night this week. The only possible drawback to these is having to make individual potatoes for each diner; generally, with a crowd, it's easier to do a casserole-type side dish.
Which leads us to the second contender: honey glazed apple and sweet potato casserole. Par bake the potatoes. Skin them and slice into 1/2" slices. Core some apples and slice crosswise into 1/2" slices. Shingle them alternately in a pretty baking dish. Melt butter and honey, add cinnamon and vanilla. Pour over the potatoes and apples. Bake. Much the same basic flavor as the first dish, but easier preparation.
Third up is a squash dish, a spaghetti and mushroom tetrazzini. Think of a basic like turkey tetrazinni, but substitute spaghetti squash for the noodles, and mushrooms for the turkey. There's a bit of apple juice in the sauce, giving a little more fall flavor. Lots of mozzarella and parmesan, with tomatoes layered over the top to finish.
The protein, I think, will be maple-brined pork tenderloin. The brine is the same as at the link, you simply substitute tenderloin for chops and let them marinate longer. This is a personal favorite of mine, juicy and flavorful, without being overwhelmingly maple-ish. Whether or not I can do pork will depend on which students are assigned to me; many international students participate in these dinners, and there is a chance one may have a cultural bias against pork. If so, I may drop a chuck roast in the crock pot.
So that is day one - Food. Now you will have to excuse me; I've been up for several hours and have yet to have breakfast.