Thursday, September 16, 2010

Now, what should I do with pumpkin pappardelle?

Fall is my favourite season. At very least, it is in the top five. And I love fall food. It really is the best of all possible culinary worlds. You have tons of great local produce still available, but the weather has cooled down so you feel like cooking again. In summer, cooking is about using the kitchen as little as possible; quick salads and a piece of meat grilled on the BBQ. But in the fall, the crock pot comes out, the big dutch oven is dusted off and the roasting pan comes off the top shelf. In fall, you feel like cooking again. Slow braises, stews, big hunks of meat slowly roasted for hours, this is what fall cooking is all about. You have market gardeners practically giving away their squash, root vegetables and hearty fall greens. Fall is the time to gather your friends and family back around the hearth and cook and eat until there is nothing left to do but sleep.

I love Fall at the bistro. This is the season when I get to bring back all my favourite cool weather dishes. Cassoulet reappears on the menu, probably braised lamb shank and of course pumpkin ravioli.

But wait, there's the problem. We have too many favourite fall dishes. There is no room for anything new. My god it's killing me! I am stagnating! I am sick and tired of the stoopid pumpkin ravioli!

There is always the tension for me between giving the customers their best loved dishes and being able to create new food experiences. I need to keep myself interested in order to cook well, but everyone has been asking about the pumpkin ravioli since the day we took it off the menu. What am I to do? The longer we are open, the more difficult this problem becomes. We will put a new dish on the menu, but then this becomes a favourite that we can't get rid of.

When I have time, and am feeling creative, I will sit down and write a new menu as if I was opening a brand new restaurant. I will think about the flavours of the season, I'll flip through my cooking magazines and cook books. I'll visit the local markets, grocery stores, even wander through the aisles of the local safeway looking for inspiration. I'll call my purveyors and find out what they have this time of year. "Herman," I ask, "What do you have going on this season?". He answers, "pumpkin pappardelle". Now, what should I do with pumpkin pappardelle?

Once I have my brand new menu written, I look at my most recent menu and the menu from last year, and figure out what I want to keep from these menues. Then I combine the old and the new. Wrestle with finding room for all the things I want. Decide that some of my dishes will be saved for dinner specials, argue with my wife, staff and customers about what everyones favourites are, and finally, usually 1/2 an hour before we launch the menu, we have a menu on paper ready to go.

Nature's Farms Pumpkin Pappardelle with Ground Turkey and Sage Meatballs

1 lb ground turkey
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 tbsps minced parsley
1 tbsp minced fresh sage
2 (vita egg) eggs,
1/2 cup sour cream or yogurt
1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
pinch of cayenne
salt and pepper to taste

1. combine all meat ball ingredients.
2. form into small meat balls.
3. bake meatballs in a 350F oven for 15 mins until cooked through


1 lb Nature's Farms pumpkin pappardelle
3 or 4 sage leaves
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsps butter
1 clove garlic, minced
pinch of chilies
2 cups, arugula
1/2 cup almonds, toasted
turkey meat balls

1. saute sage, chilies and garlic with olive oil and butter. Add meat balls.
2. cook pappardelle according to pkg directions.
3. toss pasta with meatballs, arugula and almomds. Check seasoning.
4. serve, top with parmesan if desired.

1 comment:

  1. So, I decided to bring back the pumpkin ravioli.
    The pappardelle, didn't work out.