Summer's Dramatic Exit

It's late September and it's officially autumn. It's also a steamy 85 degrees in my house at 6pm right now. It does not feel like fall. I'm conflicted. It's the time of year where I usually start pulling out my sweaters and start cooking the comfort food - meatloaf, chili, and mac-n-cheese. But the weather is talking me right out of that. In an effort to merge both the summer-like weather and the fact that it's actually fall and I'm watching football right now, I present to you a couple of recipes that straddle the seasons. One highlighting summer's last haul of tomatoes paired with meaty sausage and hearty herbs like rosemary, thyme, and bay leaf. Second, a burger (so summery right?) but with mushrooms, smoky aioli, and gooey raclette. Summtumn. No? Autumner? Well, no matter how you merge them, summer has not fully left us but it's real close.

Sausage Tomato Bake
Serves 6
*My very favorite Jamie Oliver recipe highlights Summer’s best tomatoes and high quality sausages. It’s painfully easy and so satisfying. Excellent with pasta, over polenta, or with some crusty baguette.

4 1/4 pounds lovely ripe cherry tomatoes, mixed colors if you can find them
2 sprigs fresh thyme
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon dried oregano
3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
12 good-quality coarse Italian pork sausages
Extra-virgin olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Get yourself an appropriately sized roasting pan, large enough to take the tomatoes in 1 snug-fitting layer. Put in all your tomatoes, the herb sprigs, oregano, garlic and sausages. Drizzle well with extra-virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Toss together, then make sure the sausages are on top and pop the pan into the oven for half an hour. After this time, give it a shake and turn the sausages over. Put back into the oven for 15 to 30 minutes, depending on how golden and sticky you like your sausages.
  2. Once cooked, you'll have an intense, tomatoey sauce. If it's a little too thin, lift out the sausages and place the pan on the stove to cook it down to the consistency you like - I tend to make mine quite thick - then put the sausages back in. Check the seasoning and serve.

Burgers with Wild Mushrooms and Smoked Paprika Aioli
Serves 4
*These burgers are good just as they are but the addition of crispy fried shallots and a slice of juicy tomato are highly recommended.

1 lb meatloaf mix (blend of ground beef, veal, and pork)
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
Smoked sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
2 cups wild mushrooms
2 teaspoons olive oil
4 oz Reading or Raclette cheese, sliced
4 English Muffins toasted (or grilled!)

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 large clove garlic, grated
1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp. smoked paprika
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Heat grill to medium-high.
  2. Make aioli by mixing all ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
  3. Mix ground meat with Worcestershire and form into four patties. Sprinkle each patty fairly generously with smoked salt and pepper to form a nice crust on the outside.
  4. Make a tin foil packet for the mushrooms, drizzle with oil and seal.
  5. Put patties on grill and cook 6 minutes, about 3 minutes per side. Put foil packet with mushrooms on the grill and cook about the same time, until mushrooms have released their liquid and become brown.
  6. Remove burgers and mushrooms from grill to assemble. Distribute mushrooms amongst the burgers, top each with about an ounce of cheese per patty. Turn grill down to medium-low, put burgers back on, close lid and let cheese melt. Spread aioli on each side of each English Muffin, lay burgers on one side, top with the other. Serve immediately.


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