Island cuisine: a sample of autumn flavors

Photo by Lynne Foster

I have a confession.

While I celebrate and promote Southern foods, I do so with a bias.

I am a girl from the North, fond of all that this means, who has studiously adapted to this environment.

As I revel in the glory of an October on Hatteras Island, I miss the colors, scents and chills of a northern autumn.

The memories of gathering for the Thanksgiving table, the beauty of a bouquet of fall leaves, the comfort of the sweaters, all leave me sentimental. Looking forward to the ice on the creek meant skating. The snow was synonymous with calm and beauty which prompted us to take night walks with a sense of security that really existed in the country at the time, and probably still exists.

We enjoyed the dogs, horses, gardens, and beautiful country antiques, many of which adorn my home to this day.

So as I prepare to return to my roots, I can’t wait to bring back the feelings of my childhood. I plan to find time to visit an apple orchard or two, maybe a farmers market in Lancaster County, and – for Ernie – a visit to Hershey’s Chocolate World!

When I return, I’ll be preparing a storm based on Sheri Castle’s new series on UNC-TV, “The Key Ingredient”. UNC -TV Executive Producer Heather Burgiss is a dear friend who has also made wonderful productions on The Albatross Fleet.

In the meantime, let me tease you with some fall flavors …

What follows is perhaps the most perfect fall dinner – flavorful and easy! (But it’s not for vegetarians!)

From Sheri Castle’s “The Key Ingredient”:

Pan-roasted sausages with Muscadines and Shallots

  • 1 pound of fresh sausage links
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups muscadine or scuppernong grapes
  • 2 large or 4 small shallots, peeled and halved lengthwise
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 2 to 3 small sprigs of rosemary, plus a few leaves for decoration.
  • 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar, to taste (preferably aged, condiment quality).
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Heat a large ovenproof skillet (preferably cast iron) over medium-high heat.
  2. Add sausage and cook until golden brown on both sides, flipping with tongs, 2 to 3 minutes per side.
  3. Toss the grapes and shallots with the oil and big pinches. Salt and pepper. Push the sausage over the edges of the pan and add the grape mixture. Flip the shallots cut side down so they can brown. Tuck the rosemary into the grapes. Place in the oven until the sausages are cooked through, about 20 minutes. (An instant-read thermometer inserted in the center of the sausage should read 160F and the juices should show no pink. Don’t overcook the sausages so that they don’t dry out.
  4. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and sprinkle with chopped rosemary. Serve warm or at room temperature with the accompaniments

My notes:

  • Use fresh rosemary. It is worth buying a plant.
  • Use a good mustard.
  • I made Camembert to have a warm side but not necessary. It tastes good at room temperature, just like brie.
  • Use good bread!

Enjoy this wonderful series on UNC-TV, locally on Channel 2.

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