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Cooking

Recipes for fall from ‘The New England Kitchen’

An excerpt from Jeremy Sewall’s cookbook — a meal timed for fall’s finest.

Spiced skate wing and toasted orzo with spinach and chorizo. Photograph by Jim Scherer / Styling by Catrine Kelty/Jim Scherer

My heart belongs to the Northeast. It’s the region that has defined my cooking since I first learned to crack a lobster. My parents were born and raised in southern Maine, which means I spent almost every summer and holiday I can remember along the coastline there — it’s the first place I go when I have any free time. Some of my favorite memories take me back to family cookouts at my aunt and uncle’s house on the York River on the southern coast of Maine. The roots of my love for simple, fresh food can be traced to those picnics. Those fundamentals will stay with me forever.

SPICED SKATE WING

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Serves 4

Skate might seem like an unusual choice for the home cook, but it has a nice firm texture and a really sweet flavor. Here, I toss it with a seasoned flour and quickly saute it for an easy weeknight dish.

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 garlic clove, crushed

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon dry mustard

1 tablespoon ground turmeric

1 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon curry powder

4 tablespoons canola oil

4 (6-ounce) skate wing fillets, trimmed, skin removed

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

TIP: Buy skate from a trusted fishmonger and give it a sniff before bringing it home (it takes on an ammonia smell when beginning to go bad). If you can’t find skate, freshwater trout is a great substitute, but it might require a minute or two longer to cook, depending on the thickness.Photograph by Jim Scherer / Styling by Catrine Kelty

In a small saute pan, heat the olive oil and garlic over medium heat until the garlic starts to brown just a little, about 3 minutes. Transfer the garlic and oil to a small bowl. Set aside and let cool for 1 hour.

In a large bowl, combine the flour with the cumin, mustard, turmeric, white pepper, coriander, and curry powder. In a cast-iron skillet or large saute pan, heat 2 tablespoons of the canola oil over medium-high heat. Dredge the skate in the flour mixture and shake off any excess. Season with salt and black pepper. Place 2 fillets in the pan and cook until they begin to brown lightly, 1 to 2 minutes. Turn the skate over and immediately remove the pan from the heat; let the skate rest in the pan for 30 seconds before removing it. Repeat with the remaining oil and skate. Place the fillets on 4 plates. Whisk lemon juice into reserved garlic oil and drizzle oil over fillets.

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TOASTED ORZO WITH SPINACH AND CHORIZO

Serves 4

I often pair this pasta dish with Spiced Skate Wing, but you can try it with other fish, chicken, or on its own. Chorizo is a spicy sausage that comes fresh or dry. For this recipe, I use dry chorizo and cook it lightly. The heat mellows when tossed with the spinach and pasta.

1 cup orzo pasta

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

¼ cup canola oil

6 ounces dry chorizo sausage, cut into thin rounds

1 red onion, cut in half lengthwise and then into ¼-inch-wide strips

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

3 tablespoons vegetable stock

2 cups lightly packed baby spinach

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Toss the orzo with the olive oil in a baking pan and toast in the oven for 7 minutes, stirring halfway through. The pasta should be lightly toasted and have a nutty smell. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil and add the toasted orzo, lower the heat, and simmer until tender, about 12 minutes. Drain and spread on a baking sheet to cool.

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© Michael Harlan Turkell

In a large saute pan, heat the canola oil over medium-high heat and add the chorizo and onion. Saute until the chorizo starts to render some of its fat and the sausage begins to lightly crisp around the edges, about 6 minutes. Remove from the heat and drain off any excess fat. Add the orzo, lemon zest, and stock to the pan and warm through over medium heat. Add the spinach and immediately remove the pan from the heat; the spinach should be slightly wilted. Toss together, then season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

CAULIFLOWER WITH BROWN BUTTER AND THYME

Serves 4

Cauliflower is very versatile — it can be easily made into a soup or a puree or just roasted, as it is in this simple dish. Let the florets really brown with the butter to enhance the amazing nutty flavor. The lemon zest helps cut through some of the richness.

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter

1 head cauliflower, cored and cut into florets

2 teaspoons fresh thyme

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

½ teaspoon grated lemon zest

In a large saute pan, melt the butter over medium heat until it just begins to bubble. Add the cauliflower florets and cook until they begin to brown, about 8 minutes, stirring frequently so they cook evenly. Drain off any excess butter. Add the thyme, then season with salt, pepper, and lemon zest. Serve immediately.

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Excerpted from “The New England Kitchen: Fresh Takes on Seasonal Recipes” by Jeremy Sewall, copyright © Jeremy Sewall, Rizzoli New York, 2014. Reprinted with permission.