Think back to a time not so long ago, to a specific Thursday when, if you’re like most Americans, you were eating a fantastic fall feast in celebration of the harvest and the Pilgrims not having died over the summer. Or something like that. Whatever you may have been commemorating, you were eating well. Now, snap back to Yale. If you’re anything like us, you’ve been eating whatever didn’t go bad over the break and postponing going to the grocery store until your papers are written (or at least researched).
Well, now you’ve read some books and earned a night off; how better to celebrate than by doing something nice for your friends and yourself: cooking a fall harvest meal. Buy two pre-roasted chickens from Shaw’s (they’re actually as good as, if not better than, they would be if you made them yourself, and they’re reasonably priced), and follow the directions below to cook up an excellent fall cocktail, fruit salad and mushroom risotto, closing out with a new take on pumpkin pie. Guaranteed to impress.
Ginger-Cider Martini (recipe for one)
To begin, a fall cocktail (side benefit: it gives you time to put the finishing touches on the meal while everyone else is drinking):
1 thin slice of fresh ginger
2 oz. apple cider
1.5 oz. spiced rum
.5 oz. Frangelico
Shake (in a martini shaker) with ice. Strain into glass and serve.
Lemony Green Beans (serves 6-8)
1.5 pounds fresh green beans
1 tsp lemon juice
Trim green beans (cut both ends off). Put into saucepan, with about an inch of water. Add lemon juice. Put on lid. Place on stovetop, heat on highest burner setting for 5 minutes until beans are right level of crispness. Remove from heat, drain and serve.
Autumn Fruit Salad (serves 6-8)
Not so many fruits in season in the fall. Lucky for you, we know which ones are:
4 pears, cored and sliced (how to pick a good pear: feel the bottom. If it’s just slightly firm — not hard as a rock — it should be good.)
Seeds from half a pomegranate
3 kiwi, skinned and sliced
Toss it all together and you’re done.
Mushroom Risotto (serves 6-8)
This one’s a bit time-consuming. If you want to cheat, cook some white rice to the slightly mushy point, then add the same ingredients as the regular risotto:
1 box risotto rice
2 cubes vegetable bullion
3 tablespoons pre-minced garlic (it’s in the same area of the store as the vegetables)
1 box pre-sliced mushrooms
1/2 onion, diced (a.k.a. cut into little squares)
White wine (just a dash)
1 tsp chili pepper
2 tsp oregano
2 tsp savory
Salt and black pepper to taste
1 bag grated Parmesan cheese
Boil 6 cups water with bouillon cubes. While cubes are heating, sauté (heat in skillet coated with olive oil over medium-high heat, stirring often) onion with garlic until onion turns light brown. Should take 10 minutes. Add in mushrooms. Sauté until mushrooms also turn light brown. Stir in risotto rice, and heat additional 2 minutes. Switch mix into pot and add enough bouillon to barely cover mixture. Stir and heat uncovered over medium-high heat until bouillon water boils off. Continue until all bouillon is added, then add plain water. Continue until risotto is cooked (taste test; risotto should be completely soft, with no hard core). Stir in wine, spices and cheese. Serve hot.
Ginger-Pumpkin Mousse Pie
Make this one in advance:
1 pre-baked graham cracker crust
1 can pure pumpkin
.5 c. packed dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tablespoon water
2 tsp unflavored gelatin
2 cups heavy whipping cream
Stir pumpkin, sugar and spices in large bowl until sugar is dissolved. In small heat-proof (i.e. not plastic) bowl, stir together water and gelatin. Let gelatin mix sit for 3 minutes, then put in small saucepan with simmering (i.e. bubbling, but not boiling) water and stir until gelatin dissolves. Add to pumpkin mixture. In separate bowl, beat cream until peaks start to form (you just made sugarless whipped cream). Gently stir into pumpkin mix. Pour into crust, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving..