Fall Infusion

Backyard cooking doesn't have to mean burgers, hot dogs, and potato salad. Add pared down elegance to your traditional 'cue with these simple twists on fall-infused recipes

Photographs by Chris Edwards

Recipes by Andrew King, High Cotton Catering

Play With Flavor

Fall-inspired food often translates into comfort food. But overdoing your menu with everything pumpkin and cinnamon can be autumn overload. Instead, infuse traditional items with a touch of fall flavors, like with the butternut squash pizza. By using traditional pizza dough and a “sauce" of butternut squash dolloped with bleu cheese and red onions, an ordinary pizza is transformed into a substantial appetizer with a dash of fall. Above all, keep it simple. If you’re strapped for time, skip the candied pears, for example, and purchase caramel-covered apples at confectioners like Kilwin’s in Ballantyne Village.

Pork BBQ
Serves 10-12

6 to 10 pounds pork shoulder roast

"The Eastern-NC-Style Sauce"
1 cup white vinegar
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1/4  teaspoon black pepper
3 drops of lemon juice


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Using a fork, poke holes through the meat using a rough 1-inch to 2-inch grid pattern as a guide. Roast for six to eight hours, until the meat falls to pieces when pulled lightly. Using two forks or your fingers, pull the pork into pieces. Drizzle sauce over meat, being careful not to soak the meat. Finish cooking by warming chopped meat in a cast-iron skillet on low heat for ten to fifteen minutes.

Candied Pears
Serves 12

12 medium pears such as Green Anjou
2 cups sugar
1 cup water
1/4  teaspooon cream of tartar
Red food coloring
Candy thermometer
Skewers or popsicle sticks

Mix sugar, water, and cream of tartar in saucepan. Put on high heat with candy thermometer positioned in center of fluid level. While it is boiling, wash and dry your pears and spear tops with the sticks. Boil mixture until it reaches hard crack (about 300 degrees), then immediately add red food coloring and stir, then immediately dip the pears and set on a greased cookie sheet.

Cole Slaw
Serves 8-10

1 large head green cabbage, chopped finely in a food processor
1 large red onion, minced
2 stalks celery, minced
1 cup shredded carrot
¼ cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons celery seed
1½ cup (or more to taste) Duke’s mayonnaise
½ cup prepared yellow mustard
Black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons salt

Mix all ingredients well and let sit for four to twenty-four hours before eating.

TIP: Do not substitute Duke’s mayonnaise. It’s the only commercially produced mayonnaise without sugar.

Rosedale Plantation Baked Squash with Grape/Onion salad
Serves 8

2 butternut squash cut in half and seeded
5 tablespoons olive oil
1½ tablespoons black pepper
1½ tablespoons salt
¼ cup white sugar
3 large yellow onions, sliced thinly
½ cup white vinegar
1 cup brown sugar
1 stick unsalted butter
2 cups red grapes cut in half
2 tablespoons minced garlic

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut squash in half, seed, and brush with one tablespoon of oil. Sprinkle with one tablespoon each of salt and pepper, then bake until tender. In a skillet, mix butter, onions, sugars, and vinegar and cook on low heat until onions are caramelized. Add garlic and cook for two minutes, stirring often. Add grapes and use to fill the cavity in warm squash.

Granny Lucy’s Pecan Pie
Serves 8

One 9-inch pie crust
2 cups pecan halves
½ cup dark Karo syrup
½ cup light Karo syrup
2 tablespoons melted butter
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 large eggs, beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup light brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Crimp edges of raw crust after placing in pie plate, prick dough with a fork. Pour pecans into shell. With a fork, mix in flour and brown sugar until pecans are coated. In a medium bowl, mix remaining ingredients until well combined, then pour over pecans. Place in oven and bake for thirty-five to forty minutes; cook until firm.

Sweet Potato Cake with Orange Glaze
Serves 14-16

1 ½  cups salad oil
2 cups sugar
4 eggs, separated
4 tablespoons hot water
2 ½  cups sifted cake flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/4  teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 ½  cups grated raw sweet potato
1 cup chopped pecans
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Coconut filling
1 (13 ounce) can
evaporated milk
1 cup sugar
½  cup butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 (3 ½  ounce) can or 1 1/3  cup flaked coconut

Orange glaze
3 cups powdered sugar
½ cup milk
1 teaspoon orange flavoring

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine oil and sugar in a large mixing bowl; beat until smooth. Add egg yolks; beat well. Stir in hot water. Combine dry ingredients then blend into sugar mixture. Stir in potato, pecans, and vanilla, blending thoroughly. Beat egg whites until stiff; fold into batter.


Spoon half the batter into a bundt pan, add the filling, making sure that only batter is touching the sides of the pan, then add the remaining batter to the pan.

Bake for forty-five to sixty minutes. Cool on wire racks. Once cool, pour glaze over top of cake.

Butternut Squash Pizza
Serves 6-8

2 frozen balls of pizza dough from grocer’s freezer
1 butternut squash
1 teaspoon each salt and pepper
¾ cup cream (half-and-half, light, or heavy cream)
1 cup crumbled bleu cheese
One red onion, cut into rings
¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven and thaw balls of dough per package’s instructions. Cut squash in half lengthwise and remove seeds. Sprinkle squash with salt and pepper and bake for fifty to seventy-five minutes, until a fork will easily insert into the squash’s flesh. Remove from oven and carefully scoop the flesh from the squash. Mix in Parmesan, cream, and salt and pepper to taste. Spread over pizza dough and top with crumbled blue cheese and red onion rings. Bake according to the instructions on the dough’s package.

Serves 8-10

2 cups cornmeal
2 cups all-purpose flour
½  teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons baking powder

2 eggs
1 cup margarine, melted
4 cups buttermilk
3 tablespoons corn oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl mix together the corn meal, flour, salt, and baking powder. In a separate bowl mix together the eggs, butter, and buttermilk. Add egg mixture to the dry ingredients and stir until well blended. Heat a dry 12-inch cast iron skillet over high heat for two minutes. Add corn oil to skillet, swirl oil around to coat bottom and sides. Leave remaining oil in pan. Return to high heat for one minute. Pour the cornbread batter into the skillet and cook on high heat until bubbles start to form in the center. Remove from stove. Bake for forty to fifty minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Serve warm.

Categories: Food & Entertaining, Home & GardenFeature