COOKING 101: ’Tis the season for tasty tailgating

Fall. Time for those terrific three “F’s” – Foliage. Football. Food.

Is there a better time to be in Maine? The summer tourists have left, leaving our favorite haunts blissfully our own again. The days are warm and sunny and bug-free, perfect for hikes, bike rides, lake paddles. The nights are crisp, ideal for sound sleeps on cool sheets. The landscape morphs into an art museum. Gardens are groaning, fruit trees are shedding. It’s even safe to turn the oven on again.

Football – high school, pro, on the field, in front of the tube – reigns. And even if you are not a fan, tailgate parties provide a welcome rescue.

Actually, any outdoor sporting event will do. A nice field is preferable to a parking lot, maybe one with some nice bright leaves to provide distraction. A chair in a bag, a good book for the timeouts.

And food: Hot soups for chilly days, paired with mini wraps and seasonal sides for half time. Some substantial dips for kickoff. Some sweets for the energy boost needed to cheer your team to the goal post.

Start with a raid on the local farm stands, set aside some kitchen time to prepare and pack your feast – and start practicing your cheers. Go team!


KICKOFF

A sweet and savory dip provides variety. Spread out on the tailgate if you have one or a small folding table. Small plates, cocktail napkins, fingers and beverages of choice are all that’s needed.

SMOKED SALMON DIP

2 8-ounce tubs cream cheese with chives

2 tablespoons capers

2 tablespoons diced red onion

1 tablespoon grated lemon zest

4 ounces smoke salmon, chopped

Fresh grated black pepper to taste

Bagel chips and pumpernickel pretzels

Stir the cream cheese with fork until creamy. Add capers, onion, lemon, salmon and pepper. Pack in Tupperware. Serve with bagel chips and pretzels.


APPLE DIPS

2 8-ounce tubs brown sugar and cinnamon cream cheese

1 cup peeled, diced apple

1?2 cup chopped pecans

1?2 tablespoon diced candied ginger

Cinammon pita chips and honey mustard pretzels

Stir the cream cheese with fork until creamy. Add apple, pecans and ginger. Pack in Tupperware. Serve with pita chips and pretzels


TOUCHDOWN!

FALL FRUIT CRISP

8 crisp apples and pears, peeled and diced

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon candied ginger, diced

1 tablespoon cinammon

1?4 cup brownulated or demerra sugar

Toss fruit with juice, spices and sugar and spoon into greased pan.

Topping

1 cup oats

1?2 cup sweeteed coconut flakes

1?2 cup diced walnuts

4-6 tablespoons butter

Mix oats, coconut and walnuts in bowl. Mix in butter with fingers until mix is moist and crumbly. Sprinkle over fruit.

Bake in 350 degree oven 30 minutes until fruit softens and topping browns.

Serve in paper bowls with whipped cream.


HALF TIME

A hot soup crammed with seasonal veggies.

MINESTRONE SOUP

1 roasting chicken

1 whole garlic head

2 onions, peeled and diced, peels and end pieces set aside

1 red pepper, diced

2 stalks of celery, diced, end pieces and leaves set aside

1 zucchini, diced

1 yellow squash, diced

1 can white beans, rinsed

1 cup bow tie pasta, cooked al dente

1 can tomato paste

1 can diced tomatoes

1?4 cup pesto

Olive oil

Shredded parmesan cheese

Roast chicken until done, adding garlic glove to oven the last 20-30 minutes. When cool, pull off all the meal. Put the carcass, bones, neck, onion skins and celery ends in a large pot with water to cover. Bring to boil, then cover and simmer for 2-3 hours. Strain, reserving stock.

In same kettle, warm oil and stir fry onion, pepper and squashes. Add stock, beans, cooked pasta, tomatoes and paste. Stir well. Can be refrigerated at this point. On game day, bring soup to boil. Squeeze roasted garlic into kettle, add pesto and fresh herbs. Pack into thermoses. Serve in coffee cups, topped with cheese.


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