Celebrate Autumn with Kindness

In the past, sometime around mid-September, I’ve shared a Harvest Supper to celebrate the transition from Summer Entertaining to Autumn Suppers. It dawned on me that the whole craziness of 2020 put a kink in things. Maybe it’s been all the rules and regulations surrounding family time and socialization, or maybe it was because this year was unseasonably warm in September. Autumn just wasn’t in the air.

What better day to make up for the oversight on my part that World Kindness Day. After all, what better way to share kindness than by breaking bread with others? Do you have neighbors who don’t get out much? Why not share a meal, if socialization is allowed where you are. There’s something about sitting down to a meal together that brings even the most casual of friendships closer.

Before we get to the joys of cooking, I want to take a moment to talk about World Kindness Day. Kindness, like love is free. All it requires is a little observation of those around us. And it spreads so easily. A smile, a kind word or simple act of compassion is infectious. We have lived for too long in an existence of fear – that human contact will lead to the spread of a virus that could kill. Fear, for some, has resulted in a paralyzation, so afraid of what might be that they are willing to trade living for merely existing. Existing might be safe, but at what cost?

I’ll be honest, while we’ve done our part when required, we’ve also managed to live our lives. We’ve celebrated new beginnings with two weddings and gathered as a family to eulogize our daughter’s passing from this life to the next. No masks, no social distancing and no fears. Life’s joys and sorrows are meant to be experienced together.

What’s that saying? No man is an island. Spread kindness whenever you can, however you can. Let the person behind you in line at the grocery store go first. Pay for the coffee of the next person in line. Hold the door for someone struggling. Smile at strangers while stopped at a light. While acts of random kindness might not change everyone’s outlook on life, it will change yours. And if your kindness makes a difference in just a single life, then you have fulfilled your purpose. Why are we here if not to connect with one another in a positive and giving way?

Kindness make the world go round and love makes life worth living. Even in the most trying of times. We’re in this together has been the catch phrase of 2020. What are we in? An Ark kept afloat with Acts of Random Kindness.

Three Course Six Dish Autumn Supper
Roasted Butternut Squash-Bacon Soup

Skillet Pork Chops with Apples and Onions
Roasted Rosemary Rainbow Carrots
Goat Cheese Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Warm Dinner Rolls

Salted Caramel Drip Cake

Roasted Butternut Squash-Bacon Soup
Roasted Squash
3 lb Butternut Squash
1 White Onion
1 Red Bell Pepper
2 Garlic Cloves
4 slices Bacon
2 tablespoons Olive Oil
Pinch Kosher Salt
Fresh Ground Black Pepper to taste

Prick the skin of the squash all over with a fork. Slice off both ends of the squash, then cut in half. Remove seeds.. Microwave the squash cut-side down for about 3-1/2 minutes to softened the skin. If necessary, microwave half of the squash at a time Let the squash cool enough to handle, then peel away the skin. Cut squash into 1-inch chunks and set aside.

Peel and dice the onion. Set aside. Stem, seed and chop the bell pepper. Set aside. Peel and mince the garlic, set aside.

Stack strips of bacon, chop and set aside.

Het oven to 400 degrees. Lightly spray a rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray.

Place butternut squash, onion, bell pepper and bacon in a single layer onto the prepared baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with garlic. Season vegetables with salt and pepper. Gently toss to combine.

Place into oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until butternut squash is tender, stirring halfway through.

Finished Soup
4 slices Bacon, garnish
1/2 teaspoon dried Thyme
2-1/2 cups Chicken Stock, or more as needed
1/4 cup crumbled Goat Cheese, garnish
Snipped Chives, garnish

Heat a skillet over medium high heat. Dice raw bacon, scatter over the skillet and cook until brown and crispy, about 6 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.

Heat a large stockpot over medium heat. Add butternut squash mixture and thyme.Cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Stir in chicken stock then puree with an immersion blender.

Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until slightly thickened, about 8 minutes. If soup becomes too thick, add chicken stock and continue to heat until desired consistency and taste is reached.

Ladle soup into bowls. Garnish as desired with bacon, goat cheese and snipped chives. Serve and enjoy.

Skillet Pork Chops with Apples and Onions
1 tablespoon fresh Sage
1-1/2 teaspoon fresh Rosemary
1/2 teaspoon fresh Thyme
2 tablespoons Olive Oil, divided
4 bone-in Pork Chops
Pinch Kosher Salt
Fresh Black Pepper to taste
3/4 cup Chicken Stock
1 teaspoon Dijon Mustard
1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1/4 teaspoon Black Pepper
1 small Red Onion
2 medium Gala Apples

Chop sage leaves and rosemary needles. Strip thyme from the stems. Set aside.

Season both sides of pork chops with kosher salt and black pepper. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to large heavy bottomed skillet. Heat over medium-high heat. Add pork chops to pan, leaving at least an inch between the chops to ensure even cooking and browning. Sear 3-5 minutes per side, or until pork chops are mostly done. Chops will continue cooking in the sauce later.

Remove pork chops to a plate. Tent or cover with an inverted metal bowl to retain heat.

In a small mixing bowl, whisk together chicken stock and mustard, set aside.

Peel and thinly slice onion, break apart. Clean and thinly slice apples.

Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the skillet. Add apples and onions. Cook 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt, pepper, sage, rosemary, and thyme. Stir to combine.

Pour stock mixture into the skillet, using a wooden spoon to gently scrape the bottom of the pan to release any brown bits.

Return pork chops back into the skillet, nestling down between the apples and onions.

Cook 4 minutes longer, until pork chops are cooked through and liquid has reduced by half.

Transfer pork chops to a warm serving platter. Spoon apples and onions over and around chops.

If desired, garnish platter with fresh herb sprigs and serve.

Roasted Rosemary Rainbow Carrots
12 medium Rainbow Carrots
2 sprigs Rosemary
Kosher Salt to taste
Fresh Black Pepper to taste
1/2 cup Parsley, snipped
2 tablespoons Butter

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Clean carrots, trim ends and split some of the larger carrots lengthwise. Toss carrots with vegetable oil.

Strip rosemary from stem, roughly chop needles. Sprinkle rosemary over the carrots. Season with salt and fresh pepper.

Spread carrots out evenly on a baking sheet. Drizzle with a little more oil. Roast carrots in the heated oven for 45 minutes, turning over once halfway

While the carrots roast, snip parsley for a garnish. Melt butter and set aside..

Transfer carrots to a serving dish. Drizzle with butter, garnish with parsley and serve.

Goat Cheese Garlic Mashed Potatoes
4 lbs Yukon Gold Potatoes, chopped
5 Garlic Cloves
4 oz Goat Cheese, softened
1/4 cup Butter, softened
1 cup Chicken Stock
Pinch Salt
Fresh Black Pepper to taste
1/4 cup Chives

Peel potatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes and place in a Dutch Oven or large, heavy pan.

Peel garlic, place whole cloves into the pan with the potatoes.

Fill pot with enough cold water to just cover the potatoes. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender.

While the potatoes cook, let goat cheese and butter soften on the counter. Place in a mixing bowl and cream together. Set aside.

Drain potatoes. Return to pot and let dry over low heat for a few minutes.

Note: if chicken stock is cold, warm in the microwave for about 1 or 2 minutes so stock does not cool the potatoes.

Add cheese-butter mixture to potatoes. Mash well.

Add chicken stock a little at a time, stirring between additions, until potatoes reach desired creamy consistency. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Snip chives, garnish potatoes and serve.

Quick Dinner Rolls
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons Warm Water
2 tablespoons Active Dry Yeast
2 teaspoons Sugar
1/3 cup Vegetable Oil
1/4 cup Honey
1-1/2 teaspoons Kosher Salt
1 Egg
3-1/2 cups Bread Flour

Measure 1 cup water in a glass measuring cup. Add 2 additional tablespoons of water to the glass. Heat in the microwave to 110 degrees, about 30 seconds depending upon microwave.

In the bowl of a stand-up mixer, combine the water, yeast, sugar and oil. Mix with a paddle attachment, then allow it to rest for 15 minutes.

While the yeast mixture rests, spray a 9-inch by 13-inch rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray. Line with parchment paper, then lightly spray the paper and set aside.

Once the yeast has proofed, switch to the dough hook to mix in the honey, salt, egg and flour.

Knead with hook until well incorporated and dough is soft and smooth. This will only take a few minutes.

Form dough into 12 balls and place on the prepared baking sheet. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and allow to rest for 15 minutes.

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Uncover the rolls, bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown.

Serve and enjoy.

Salted Caramel Drip Cake
Vanilla Cake
1 cup Buttermilk
2/3 cup unsalted Butter
5 Egg Whites
2 cups Flour
2 tablespoons additional Flour
2 cups Sugar
1-1/2 teaspoonS Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 tablespoon Vegetable Oil

Let buttermilk sit on the counter to reach room temperature. Remove butter from the refrigerator, cut into pieces and let soften at room temperature. Separate egg whites from yolks. Reserve yolks in the refrigerator for another use such as a Hollandaise sauce. Set whites aside.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line three 6-inch pans with parchment rounds, and grease with non-stick baking spray.

Mix together flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt in a stand mixer with a paddle attachment until fully combined.

At low speed, slowly add pieces of butter to the dry mix. Continue to mix the mixture becomes crumbly.

Pour in egg whites, and continue mix on low speed until just incorporated.

With mixer running on low speed, add the buttermilk in two additions. Add in vanilla extract and oil. Continue to mix at a low speed until fully incorporated.

Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula, then beat on medium speed for about 30 seconds. 

Evenly divide the cake batter between the prepared cake pans. Bake for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Allow the pans to cool for 10 minutes, then run a small offset spatula around perimeter of the pan to separate the cake from the pan. DO NOT remove cakes from the pans yet. Place cake into the freezer for 30 minutes, to accelerate the cooling process. Once the layers are fully cooled, carefully flip the pans and remove the layers.

While the cake bakes and cools, make the Caramel Sauce and Buttercream Frosting.

Caramel Sauce
6 tablespoons unsalted Butter
1/3 cup Heavy Cream
1 cup Sugar
1/4 teaspoon Salt

Let butter and cream come to room temperature on the counter.

Place a pot over medium heat. Gradually pour sugar into the pot, adding 1/4 cup at a time. Wait until the sugar is mostly liquified, before adding the next increment of sugar. As the sugar melts, it will gradually deepen in color. Stir occasionally until the sugar is fully dissolved, and is an amber color.

Remove the caramelized sugar from heat. Add butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring to blend.

Add the cream and salt, stir until smooth and fulling incorporated. The mixture will be very thin, but will thicken as it cools.

Pour into a separate container, then place in fridge to cool for 20 minutes.

Salted Caramel Buttercream Frosting
2 cups unsalted Butter
7 cups Powdered Sugar
1 teaspoon Salt
1 tablespoon Heavy Cream
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1/3 cup of Caramel Sauce (above)

Let butter come to room temperature on the counter.

Sift powdered sugar into a large bowl, set aside.

Cream the butter on a medium speed for 30 seconds with a paddle attachment. Mix in the vanilla and salt on a low speed.

Slowly add the powdered sugar. Alternate additions with the cream and caramel sauce.

Beat on low until frosting is fully incorporated, and the desired consistency is reached.

Finishing Touches
Caramel Sauce (above)
12 soft Caramel Candy Squares
Coarse Sea Salt as desired

Use a serrated knife to level the tops of the cake layers. Use a dab of frosting on the center of a greaseproof round cake board, secure first layer of cake on the board.

Spread an even layer of salted caramel buttercream over the top. Finish with a swirl of caramel sauce. Place the next layer on top. Repeat with frosting and caramel sauce. Place the final layer of cake on top.

Spread a thin coat of frosting around the the cake to fully cover the cake layers.

Smooth using a bench scraper, then chill the cake in the refrigerator for 10 minutes or the freezer for 5 minutes until the frosting is firm to the touch.

Add a second, thicker layer of frosting to the cake, and smooth using a bench scraper.

Chill the cake for an additional 10 minutes in the freezer. Once the frosting is firm to the touch, use the caramel sauce to add drips around the cake.

Cover the top of the cake with caramel sauce. Unwrap caramel squares and arrange as desired around the top of the cake. Finish with a sprinkle of course sea salt over the top.

Keep refrigerated until 20 minutes before serving. Let cake warm slightly on the counter, the slice and serve.

Note: Any leftover caramel sauce can be placed in the refrigerator in a covered container or squirt bottle for up to 3 weeks. Perfect for apple pie al la mode.

Still looking for Autumn Supper Ideas? Try an Elegant Six-Course Harvest Moon Supper or Celebrate the Harvest of Land and Sea.

Author: Rosemarie's Kitchen

I'm a wife, mother, grandmother and avid home cook.I believe in eating healthy whenever possible, while still managing to indulge in life's pleasures.

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