Ask Chef Hosch and Ann

By DANIELLE HUNTER

Special to the Sun-Gazette

Q: I love eating fresh and local as much as possible and have such a wonderful time doing so during the summer months then fall and winter come to town and I lose it.

All of those fresh goodies are harder to find and I’m unsure what is in season or if it’s even a possibility that we can grow these items in our area during this season.

Help, I need some fall and winter ideas for tasty, nutritious and in season meals for my family.

A: Well first off, you are not the only one with this seasonal dilemma. The fall and winter months have a lot going for them but fresh local fruits and vegetables are not on that list. In colder climates, eating locally through these months can be challenging.

But there is good news every cool weather meal does not have to revolve around potatoes and onions. There is a wide variety just waiting for you to enjoy. So many, in fact, that I don’t have enough space here today to list them all.

There are several great websites that list every seasonal fruit and veggie and also where and when they will be near you.

Cooking during fall and winter is my favorite time to get creative. You just need to reach outside that summer melon and berry patch and once you know all about this other season for eating, you will be happily surprised.

Some favorites for me are the obvious apples, squashes, carrots, beets, Brussels spouts, cabbage and oranges … to list only a few. If you are a salad nut like me, it’s a great time to still enjoy those greens.

Raddichio, kale and escarole all are winter greens whether grown locally in green houses or in warmer climates. Oranges and pomegranates both are great winter fruits and very high in all the nutritious goodies your body craves.

Here is a delicious favorite of mine that uses plenty of winter ingredients but is still light and refreshing.

Beet salad with blood

orange vinaigrette

For the salad

Beets

Select as many beets as you want, lots or just a little and roast them skin on until they are tender but not mushy.

Remove them from the oven but leave them covered, as soon as they are cool enough to handle simply rub the skin off of them using your hands. Once all of the skin is removed them under cool water and refrigerate.

For the vinaigrette

1 tablespoon grated blood orange zest

1 1/2 cups fresh blood orange juice (6-8 large oranges)

3 tablespoons lemon juice

4 tablespoons shallots, finely chopped

1 tablespoons thyme, shopped

1 1/2 cups olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Place all of the ingredients in a large mixing bowl, except the oil, and mix to combine. While whisking continuously add the olive oil in a slow steady stream until it’s fully incorporated.

Take your cooled beats and cut them into quarters or bite-sized pieces and coat with the dressing. You can double or triple the dressing recipe as desired. You also can add a little shaved fennel (also a winter vegetable) to the top of this salad and enjoy.

I also love topping a nice green salad with these marinated beets and maybe even sprinkle with some pomegranate seeds to add just a little more flavor and nutrition.

Brussels sprouts is another great fall or winter vegetable that tends to be overlooked. I know they get a pretty bad rap and it’s really hard to change people’s minds about them, but if made correctly they are amazing.

First tip is to never buy them frozen – always buy fresh and you won’t be disappointed. Here is one of my favorite no-fail recipe for them.

Brusselss sprouts

Brussels sprouts, cut in half

1 medium onion, sliced

Butter

1/2 pound bacon, cut in 1-inch pieces

1/4-1/2 cup apple cider

Get whatever amount of Brussels sprouts you need to feed your family or guests. Slice a whole onion and add to a hot saute pan with a decent amount of butter and continue to cook until they are caramelized.

I like to add bacon before they are completely done. Add the bacon to the pan with the onions. Cook on medium heat until almost crisp. Add the Brusselss sprouts and turn the heat to high.

Cook for about 2-4 minutes and adjust the heat so you don’t burn the bacon or onions.

Add apple cider to the pan and continue to cook until the sprouts are tender but not mushy.

I like them to still have a bite or crispness to them. You also can make the onion, bacon and cider glaze separate and roast the Brussels sprouts at 400 degrees until they are still firm but cooked through and just add the glaze before serving.

Hunter is Chef Hosch and Ann’s sous chef. She received a degree in culinary arts from Pennsylvania Culinary Institute in 2002. After working in the field for several years, she went back to school at The Culinary Institute of America, graduating in 2005 with a degree in baking and pastry arts. She has worked in several different kitchens on both sides of culinary and baking.

Chef Hosch and Ann are a husband and wife team devoted to healthy and gourmet cooking and catering. Chef Hosch is a graduate of The Culinary Institute of America, Hyde Park, New York, and brings more than 25 years of experience and passion to his culinary arts. Ann is an occupational therapist and has worked as a cook and baker in the past. Chef Hosch and Ann opened the Tower Cafe, 1000 Commerce Park Drive, in December 2013. They serve lunch Monday through Friday. Chef Hosch and Ann specialize in creating food for all tastes and diets. Their column is published on the first Wednesday of each month in the Food section. Submit cooking questions for Chef Hosch and Ann to finefood@chefhosch.com and “Like” them on Facebook to ask questions and get tips and recipes.