FoodBuzz 24x24: Fall Comforts with a Tropical Flair

A few weeks back, Foodbuzz asked their featured publishers to send in a proposal for their October 24x24 event. I was thrilled to find out that I chosen to participate! October is one of my top five favorite months.When October comes, fall is officially amongst us. One of the things I love most about Seattle is that it has seasons – four, very distinct, seasons. Fall in Seattle brings along beautiful, vibrant colors and crisp, cool surroundings. There is nothing better than some homemade, comfort food with the family on a fall evening, which is what I want to share with you all today.

Although I do love fall, this year I feel a little gypped. Seattle decided to skip a season this year and that season happened to be summer. We got about five whole days of true 80+ degrees weather. And, it so happens that the hottest couple of days fell on the week my family and I took a vacation to California. So, when planning this fall comfort food menu, I wanted to bring a little bit of the much missed summery, tropical vibes to it.

Have you ever tried Kabocha squash? If you haven’t, you are truly missing out. It will make you leave all other squash and pumpkin behind and never look back. Kabocha is a Japanese winter squash and if you live in Seattle, Uwijimaya is a guaranteed place to get it. It’s not the prettiest squash on the outside, but its true beauty lies within its intense orange, meaty, sweet inside. I knew that when I chose to make a squash bisque, Kabocha squash would be headlining the show. I also added a hint of coconut milk, for that tropical, sitting-on-the-beach sensation and creamy, velvety texture. And, to tie everything in together, I served a crostini rubbed with ginger-butter. When dipped into the sweet, silky soup, it left a spicy hint of ginger. 

For the main entrée, I chose to do my tropical version of pot roast, mashed potato and gravy. Nothing is more comforting that steak and potatoes, right? Wrong! Mashed plantains are the new “black”, so toss out those boring ol’ taters and indulge yourself in a sweet, fruity version of the conventional mashed potatoes.

You want to make sure that you buy the ripened plantains. The one that is soft with a dark brown, almost black peel. They are sweeter and tenderer, which makes for perfect mashed plantains. The green ones are starchier and not as sweet. They hold their shape better, so they are great for frying up. I thinly sliced the green ones and fried them up for decoration and to add a little bit of texture to the dish.

I seasoned my pot roast with salt, black pepper and ground cumin and braised it in a typical Brazilian refolgado: onion, garlic, curly parsley tomato paste and stock. Added a couple of bay leaves for good luck, and depth and richness, of course, and let simmer away for about three hours. The results were a flavorful,tender, moist piece of meat.

Being that we had the sweet and savory side covered, I thought a little spiciness could only add to the party. So, I added some Serrano peppers to the juicy sauce from my roast, thickned it with little corn starch and cream for a kicked-up gravy.  The trio of flavors was unbelieveable and certainly not overpowering. Each flavor and component was brought out by the other.

For dessert, I experimented making papaya crisp. I had never made this before. In fact, I had never even made the traditional apple crisp before. After googling around for a basic starting point, I decided that it was a relatively easy dessert to make. I peeled, deseeded and cut my papaya into small cubes. Then, seasoned it with an itty-bitty, hint of cinnamon and sugar – I wanted the papaya flavor to be very distinct and dominant. The top crust was your typical crisp topping containing: brown sugar, butter, flour and oats. I baked the papaya crisp in individual ramekins (remember, I don’t like sharing when it comes to desserts) and topped them off with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Pure goodness! If you want to impress your family and friends this holiday season with a unique version of a dessert they love, this is it!


Sopa de Abobora Kabocha com Leite de Coco e Torrada de Gengibre
Kabocha squash and coconut milk bisque with a ginger-butter crostini

Lombo com Banana da Terra MachucadaPimenta Serrano
Braised pot roast with mashed plantain and Serrano pepper gravy
Tortinhas de Aveia e Mamão
Papaya crisp

Papaya Crisp

1 ripe papaya, peeled, deseeded and cubed smallTopping 
¼ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp sugar

½ cup all-purpose flour

¼ cup brown sugar
Pinch of salt
3 tbsp unsalted butter
¼ cup regular oats

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Combine all filling ingredients and distribute into 4 8oz ramekins.
In a bowl, mix flour, brown sugar and salt.
Blend butter in until it forms little pea-sized lumps.
Add oats.
Sprinkle topping over filling.
Bake for 25-30 minutes, until topping is golden brown.
Served a la mode with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.