Comfort & Style
A bountiful harvest means many wonderful ingredients. Colder weather has customers craving heartier dishes. Then here come the holidays!
Crisp air, tumbling leaves and a sense that it’s time to hunker down...and eat!
Maple. Sage. Pumpkin. Nutmeg. Apples and cinnamon. So many seasonal taste sensations are associated with autumn. And it’s
easy to adapt menu staples for the season. Think maple-sage glaze on pork chops. Pumpkin-frosted sugar cookies. Buckwheat pancakes with apple-cinnamon compote. Look for opportunities to bring your regular offerings into a profitable new space.
Ripe fruits and vegetables are pouring in from orchards and fields, and there are so many ways to bring them to the table. Stew apples with whiskey and raisins. Stuff pears with blue cheese and bake. Pop cauliflower into the oven, drenched in a savory tomato sauce. Toss your potato salad with bacon, pickles and mustard dressing, like acclaimed Toronto restaurant Ruby Watchco does in its popular version. Braise cabbage with apples and honey, or cook it with cider vinegar followed by milk plus a bit of mustard.
Dishes that look appetizing and substantial make the grade on the autumn menu. Potatoes are a great go-to. Split baked spuds in two before crushing to make them appear larger. Hash browns and mashed potatoes fill the plate inexpensively. So do flatbreads, pitas and rolls. Place separate containers of sauces and dips right on the plate to say “value for the money”—and to hand customers control of the flavor.
Dining well—and warm—is even more of a pleasure this time of year.
Fill Those Ladles
Today’s most inviting soups and stews offer a little something extra. Like a swirl of flavored oil or hot sauce, or a sprinkle of fresh herbs. Consider housemade croutons: using leftover cornbread, rolls, bagels, pita, what have you. Swapping is also good, as in a root vegetable or two, replacing a more mainstream veg or a portion of the meat. (Slice super-thin if you want to be a little sneaky.)
Spices are another great strategy. Add heat with cayenne, for example—either in soup or stew itself, or as a dusting on those croutons. Indian and Asian spices, African too, bring new excitement to chicken-based bowls and so much more. Think coriander, curry, saffron, lemongrass … With beef or lamb, include cinnamon, star anise or ginger.
There’s so much variety in soups, stews and other exciting entrées. Permission granted to use leftovers! Riff off Winnipeg-based Bonfire Bistro’s paella, loaded with chicken, chorizo, clams, prawns, mussels, sea scallops, green onions, tomatoes and peas, baked with saffron rice. Be inspired by France and its slow-cooked cassoulet—with its savory beans, pork and duck (chunks, sausage and/or skins)—and make it your own.
Who doesn’t indulge this time of year? Look for ways to pump up dessert profits. One way to offer new or more ideas for “afters” is to purchase pies, cakes, cookies, etc. and dress them up. Drizzle pumpkin pie with a burnt-butter caramel sauce, or spoon on some maple-cinnamon whipped cream. Sandwich premade chocolate or chocolate-chip cookies with peppermint ice cream. Top cheesecake with spiced cranberries and toasted walnuts. Sampler platters and bite-sized offerings could also help boost catering and takeaway numbers. Purchase quality sheet cakes, brownies and cookie bars, and cut your own mini versions.