If you’re not a cheerleader for that seasonal cinnamon-y substitute that seems to infect everything with orange this time of year, life can be a little rough. Social media is plastered with sepia-tinged re-grams of the first Starbucks of the year, and snarky comments of “The spice must flow.”
Listen, we get it. People like it and it’s a thing and that is totally great, but sometimes we just want to not feel like a vegan in a steakhouse when we try to order literally anything that isn’t pumpkin spice. In that spirit, we present to you — the quiet, long-suffering minority — Westchester Magazine’s seven favorite autumnal recipes that have nothing at all to do with the seasoning which shall not be named.
To sate that same sweet, squashy craving with something that doesn’t taste like powdered Yankee Candle, we always head for the Harvest Celebration Soup from Ladle of Love owner Leslie Lampert. A family tradition that outgrew hers and became one of ours, this soup is rich and thoroughly autumnal, with chunks of apple and hints of maple and cayenne for a little kick. Though we were sad to see Lampert’s Mount Kisco locations shutter, with this recipe and the remaining Bronxville location we should be able to make it through the season.
Considering how much Westchester loves apple cider and its donuts, all love for this versatile fall harvest seems to go out the window once our coffee cups get little orange leaves on them. This recipe reminds us of everything we love about apples: sweet, tart, warm, and goey, it’s the perfect balance between a classic pie and apple crisp with that scrumptious streusel topping!
Perhaps no food is more versatile that the unassuming potato. Boiled, broiled, mashed, baked, roasted, and fried, you can’t really cook them wrong. That’s why with a little egg and onion and some common spices, you can transform them into a delicious casserole called kugel that’s been warming bellies in Jewish households for centuries. This cast-iron recipe is one of our favorites, and can be served with a little sour cream or applesauce for a feel-good dinner.
We souped up this classic pasta dish last winter with common bacon and some sharp pecorino Romano. It’s got a rich, robust sauce and is stick-to-your-ribs filling Italian that would make your nana proud.
We got this recipe a few years back from the Ritz-Carlton, Westchester’s pastry chef, Jacqueline Veliz. It’s a fantastic individual dessert to serve at parties, but we’re not above making a batch and hording them to ourselves. It’s all the orange and sweet earthiness of pumpkin, plus cinnamon and spice and the addition of pecan nuttiness with a tinge of maple. Basically, it’s everything that other seasonal flavor wishes it was.
Custard pie in a graham cracker crust with cornmeal top, this Southern staple comes in variations like lemon, chocolate, and bourbon (or, hey, why not chocolate-bourbon?) and is delicious pretty much every way you slice it. It’s also deceptively easy to make if you’re cool with store-bought whipped topping, so it’s a perfect and uncommon addition to any dinner or potluck this side of the Mason-Dixon.
We tend to gorge ourselves during barbecue season, but we’ll never forget that corn has been a Thanksgiving tradition from the get-go, and cornbread will forever be vastly superior to the pedestrian dinner roll. They’re also crazy-simple: cornmeal, buttermilk, butter, an egg, and a little vegetable oil are really all you need. Butter a hot skillet and pour in the other mixed ingredients and wait until you and the cornbread are golden. AllRecipes has a fine example to work from, just adjust the proportions as needed. (Gram-Gram never needs to know how you got her secret recipe.)