There were so many good fall recipes in the Junior League of Rochester‘s Applehood and Motherpie, that I had no choice but to make two dinners to accommodate all of them.
The first meal began with an impossibly decadent, brilliant twist on that old standby, beef stew.
Batter-Up Beef Pie
The batter bakes up to a golden, cheesy circle around the pie.
2 cups cooked beef, cut in 1/2 to 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup cooked onions
1 cup cooked carrots, cut in chunks
1 cup cooked potatoes, cut in chunks
1 cup beef gravy
1/4 cup butter
1 1/2 cups flour
2 t. baking powder
1 t. salt
1 1/2 cups milk
1 cup (4-ounce package) grated Cheddar cheese
1 T. dried minced onion
1 T. sugar
1. Combine beef, onions, carrots, potatoes, and gravy. Set aside.
2. Melt butter in bottom of 8-inch square baking dish in oven.
3. Combine remaining ingredients in mixing bowl. Stir until blended and pour into baking dish.
4. Pour beef mixture over batter. Do not stir.
5. Bake and serve.
Temperature: 350 degrees
Time: 60 minutes
Yield: 6 servings
Hint: Leftover beef stew can be substituted for first five ingredients.
— Priscilla L. Minster
Surprisingly, this dish is a lot more wholesome, and a lot less heavy than you might expect. The cheesy crust is like two treats in one: the parts on the bottom soak up the beef gravy and juices like dumplings, and the parts around the edges of the pan are crisp on the outside and tender and light inside, like good cheese biscuits.
For a side dish, I made this squash and apple casserole, which could easily pull double duty as dessert.
Baked Squash and Apple Casserole
Easy, different, with good blend of spices.
1 small butternut squash (2 pounds or less)
2 apples (cored, peeled, and sliced)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup cold margarine
1 T. flour
1 t. salt
1/4 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. nutmeg
1. Pare, seed, and cut squash into small slices.
2. Place squash and apple slices in oblong baking dish (7 x 11-inch).
3. Blend rest of ingredients with fork, fingers, or pastry cutter until crumbly.
4. Distribute over squash and apple. Prepare to here until ready to bake.
5. Cover and bake.
Temperature: 350 degrees
Time: 45 to 50 minutes
Yield: 6 to 8 servings
— Phyllis Connelly
I didn’t realize my camera lens had fogged up when I took this picture, so unfortunately, the photo doesn’t do justice to how pretty this dish is when it comes out of the oven. But here’s what it looked like before I sprinkled the brown sugar crumblies over top.
And, of course, with that combination of butternut squash, apples, brown sugar and spices, it smells amazing. With this and the beef pie in the oven at the same time, I would not have been the least bit surprised if a gang of trick-or-treaters had materialized on my door, and taken me on a hayride to a corn maze.
And if they had, I would have had treats ready for them.
Til McCutcheon’s Ginger Cookies
My mother’s aunt Til had a bake shop in Valois, New York in the mid-1800s. This is the ginger cookie recipe from her shop.
8 cups sifted flour
3 t. ginger
1 heaping teaspoon cinnamon
1 t. salt
1 cup sugar
2 cups molasses
1 cup shortening
3 t. baking soda
2/3 cup hot water
1. Combine flour, ginger, cinnamon, and salt. Make a well in center.
2. Stir in sugar and molasses.
3. Add shortening. Pour in hot water that has been combined with soda, and mix.
4. Add egg. Stir until completely blended. Dough will be soft and sticky.
5. Chill thoroughly.
6. Roll out on floured pastry cloth or board until 1/4-inch thick. Cut with large round cookie cutter.
7. Sprinkle with sugar. For an added touch, place a dab of jam in center of each cookie. Bake on greased cookie sheet.
Temperature: 400 degrees
Time: 10 minutes
Yield: 5 dozen
Hint: These keep a long time in airtight containers.
— Bernice Bridges
My absolute favorite Junior League recipes are ones that have an interesting family history to go along with them. If they’re over 150 years old, and delicious, too, well, that’s just icing on top.
Fittingly, it was a ginger cookie that got me into old cookbooks in the first place. When I was 11, my parents took my sister and I on a family vacation to Colonial Williamsburg, where we learned how wheels and barrels were made in olden times (and lest you think my parents are the kind of people who substitute chocolate with carob, give oranges as Christmas presents, and force their kids to go on educational vacations, there was a trip to Virginia Beach and Busch Gardens in there, too). I was fascinated by all of it, but my eyes really lit up when we got to the bakery, learned about Colonial kitchens, and bought ginger cookies.
When I saw that there was a Colonial cookbook for sale, AND it included the recipe for the ginger cookies I’d just eaten, I was shelling out my hard-earned lawn-mowing, house-cleaning, babysitting cash before my parents could raise an eyebrow over the fact that their preteen daughter was buying a cookbook written in whirly-scripted King’s English (e.g. “Fift the flour”), and would probably force them to choke down many an ill-fated Sally Lunn before the summer was out.
I am pleased to see that they still sell it in the Williamsburg souvenir shops.
For our second meal from Applehood and Motherpie, I made another fall recipe featuring one of my favorite flavor combinations in the universe. If ever I were taken with the notion to open a restaurant with an overly precious name, I would call it Apple & Onion, and I would serve Batter-Up Beef Pie, Baked Squash and Apple Casserole, and this.
Apple Sausage Jumble
A piquant palate pleaser.
2 pounds Kielbasa (sausage)
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 35-ounce jar chunky applesauce
1/4 cup finely chopped onion (or 1 tablespoon dried onion flakes)
1. Cut sausage into 1/2-inch pieces.
2. Combine sugar, applesauce, and onion in an oven-proof casserole.
3. Mix in sausage pieces; bake.
4. Transfer to a chafing dish or fondue pot at serving time.
Temperature: 325 degrees
Time: 1 1/2 to 2 hours
Yield: 8 to 10 servings
— Ginny Y. Gray
Though the recipe calls for jarred applesauce, my feelings on applesauce are similar to my feelings on pie crust: just man up and make it yourself.
There’s nothing to it – just peel, core, and dice up about 8-10 apples (Macintosh and Northern Spy are my favorite cooking apples, but Fuji or Granny Smith will do in a pinch), and cook them in a Dutch oven with a little brown sugar and cinnamon for 40 minutes. Mash them with a potato masher, or puree in a food processor, and you’re all set. It will make enough for this recipe, and if you’re halving it like I did, you’ll have a little applesauce leftover for lunch.
The last recipe from the Junior League of Rochester that I made this week is not technically a fall recipe, but as, technically, it’s barely fall, I figured it could slide. Besides, I like asparagus, I like tomatoes, and I like bacon, so what’s not to like?
Refreshing and light.
3 slices bacon
1/4 cup sliced green onions
3 T. vinegar
1 T. water
2 t. sugar
1/4 t. salt
1 1/2 pounds fresh asparagus
2 medium tomatoes
1. Cook bacon until crisp. Remove and crumble.
2. Saute onion in drippings until tender.
3. Add bacon, vinegar, water, sugar, and salt. Bring to a boil.
4. Add asparagus. Cover and cook five minutes.
5. Cut tomatoes in eighths. Add to skillet and cook, covered, for 3 minutes.
6. Serve immediately.
Yield: 6 servings
— Alice K. Smith
On Top Chef, I’ve noticed that at Judges’ Table, one of the judges (usually Gail) will sometimes remark that a dish is “really within his/her comfort zone,” and say it like that’s a bad thing. After nearly six months of cooking things that are, for the most part, not within my comfort zone, can I just say how pleasant and refreshingly easy it was to spend this week cooking food that I knew would be delicious the second I read the recipe?
Though I grew up about three hours away from you, people of Rochester, I say to you now: You are my kind of people. And I like the way you cook.