Recipe Test Nest » Feature » Apple, Squash, Caramel – Oh My
Apple, Squash, Caramel – Oh My

With fall in full swing I had to do a dinner full of favorites – apple, butternut, pear, turnips… It was a beautiful fall day and a perfect fall flavor profile dinner. My testers were Suzi Yebio, Daniel Evans, Steph Zundel, Andrea Metz, Amber Robinson, Russ Hill and Joon Shin (my favorite photographer).

Mulled Cider Sparkle (3 Stars)

I love mulled cider and I was thinking that it would make for a great chilled drink with a little seltzer sparkle. Dan and Suzi wanted theirs warm and they loved it. Everyone else thought that it was a good idea but not a stand out. I think doing a mulled cranberry sparkle might resonate more.

Bacon Wrapped Almond Stuffed Dates (4.5 Stars)

Months back I had the most amazing appetizer ever at Amada Tapas Restaurant in Philadelphia (Daniel Evans was with me that day so optimal that he attended this dinner). I had to recreate it – it was AMAZING. Dates, stuffed with Marcona Almonds, wrapped in bacon and then a blue cheese truffle sauce over the warm dates right out of the oven. I almost got it right but still need to do some tweeks to get this just like the restaurant. My sauce was too thick; too much blue cheese in proportion to the truffle oil (used 2-3 T.), and the truffle flavor didn’t come through as strong to other testers. A few testers said they’d never had anything like it – which is how I felt when I had it at Amada. The link here is for a similar recipe for guidance.

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup (3.5 Stars)

The texture of this pureed soup was right on, but it was a little too bland. I served it with chive oil and when I ate leftovers and added a larger amount of the oil (1 T.) it increased the flavor. Most testers wanted more salt. It could probably use more thyme and garlic. The recipe also suggested garnishing with Crème fraiche and that would also help add some flavor. I did like the roasted aspect of this recipe, which gave it a little more caramelized flavor.

Pork Loin with Walnut and Herbed Cheese Stuffing (4 Stars)

The pork was juicy, tender and delicious. The bread crust topping was unique and flavorfull – Suzi loved it. The walnut and cheese stuffing was also great and could have used even more of it. I’m not sure what would make this a 5 star, it has great flavor but might not be incredibly memorable. I think I’m going to try a pairing of sweet potato and parsnip or a roasted root vegetable recipe with the leftovers in my freezer early November. With the perfect pairing I think this dish could be a 5 star all the way, especially since it is so different.

Pear-Parsnip Puree (throw)

There was one or two testers that liked this but most of the table did not. The pairing of the parsnip with the pork is a good idea but the pear really threw everyone off. The texture of the puree was also nice with the pork but as Joon said, it wasn’t a trifecta. There was something missing in the flavor profile, but none of us could really come up with good suggestions for what to improve.

Apple Caramel Cheesecake (4.5 Stars)

Using the yummy apples that I picked at the orchard early October, this cheesecake was a successful mix of sweet and tart. I liked many things about this cheesecake recipe – the apple mixture was on top of the classic cheesecake rather than mixed in with it so it helped differentiate the flavors. It needed more crust and a little more practice and perfection on the crust. It is Junior’s classic sponge cake crust. The crust was a little undercooked which I didn’t know until I poured the cheesecake onto it, so I’ll have to practice so that I know if its done, it probably need an additional 5 minutes, but I didn’t just get a new oven so that might have contributed as well.

2 Comments (Leave a Reply)

  1. Suzi Yebio (November 9, 2011)

    I liked the bread crust, but it was the puree that I really, really liked. That is a meal itself. Looking at the pictures makes me really regret being too full for seconds of dessert!! Great job Amber and thanks for the parting gift I got that night!

  2. Daniel (November 10, 2011)

    The highlights for me were definitely the stuffed dates (amazing, and with tweaking definitely groan worthy) and the cheesecake. I’ve never had one with a sponge cake crust and it was excellent. On the pear-parsnip puree, I think I was one of the people who liked it, especially the texture, but even I found the pear flavor a little offsetting. I would love to have that same puree made with apples and parsnips instead, as I think the apple-pork pairing is classic for a reason.

    All in all, a delightful evening. Good company, good food, good conversation – the trifecta as Joon would say.

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