Each season has its own flavors. Fall and winter are filled with the warming flavors of cardamom, allspice, ginger and nutmeg. Each of these spices has a distinct and hard-to-describe taste.
Cardamom pods, used in Indian and Middle Eastern cooking, are fragrant and spicy without heat. They are available whole or ground in most supermarkets. Allspice, also called pimento, is available in whole berries or ground. It is a warming ingredient used in many Caribbean dishes.
In fact, the trees that bear allspice are used to create the fires that cook traditional jerk dishes and their smoke fill the air throughout Jamaica. Allspice is often a cooking companion to cinnamon and nutmeg.
Nutmeg is usually found ground, but if you ever get the opportunity to purchase a whole nutmeg pod and grate it into a recipe calling for this spice, don’t hesitate. It’s incredibly aromatic and flavorful.
Used in eggnog, rice pudding, pumpkin pie and many other desserts, the taste of nutmeg screams holiday season.
Of course, grated ginger root is used in many Asian and Indian dishes, but is also popular throughout the Caribbean. Many of these ingredients are considered to have medicinal properties.
For a tasty fall dish, simply top a butternut squash, acorn squash or sweet potato with some melted butter, then sprinkle with cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg along with some brown sugar or a drizzle of maple syrup. Then roast.
Or, try adding these spices to simmering fresh apple or cranberry sauce, to rice or tapioca pudding, or to apple or pumpkin pie filling.
Butternut Squash and Apple Bread is a wonderful quick bread that allows you to enjoy the fragrance of autumn spices.
Moist and tender, this breakfast bread is incredible spread with cream cheese or preserves. You can make muffins out of the mix by dividing the batter into a muffin tin, if you wish.
Butternut Squash and Apple Bread
1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
1/3 cup sun-dried cranberries
1 (1-pound) package frozen butternut squash, thawed
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup applesauce
1/3 cup apple juice or skim milk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Lightly grease a 9-by-5-by-3-inch loaf pan.
Combine all flour, sugar, spices, baking powder, nuts and cranberries in a large mixing bowl.
Combine eggs, applesauce and apple juice or milk in another bowl.
Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in wet ingredients. Fold in until just combined.
Pour into prepared pan and bake in the center of the oven
1 1/4 hours until baked through or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. If baked as muffins cooking time will be approximately 30 minutes. Makes 8 slices.