Autumn is without a doubt the perfect season for sharing the bounty of the harvest with those nearest and dearest, especially in conjunction with a fall festival. From fall inspired table settings to a full course of hearty harvest delights, there’s plenty of ways to spice up an ordinary dinner party into a cozy feast that celebrates all the joys of autumn.
Planning your harvest feast ahead of time will eliminate any stress surrounding the event. Seek out recipes that strike a balance between adventurous and foolproof to curate a streamlined menu consisting of a soup or salad, main dish, and of course desserts and drinks. List out everything you will need for preparation, from ingredients to the proper serving accessories.
Your tablescape is the perfect medium for evoking the ambiance of harvest season. Sketch out some inspirations for fall decor to implement on the dinner table, making note of which materials you’ll need to craft your enchanting centerpiece. You can even match the chosen decor to the festive fall graphics found on your custom tarps.
Chairman of the Board
Having a few hors d’oeuvres on hand before dinner is served is the sign of a successful host. Prepare some small bites for your guests to enjoy accompanied by a selection of autumn wines. There’s no need, however, to go digging through your cookbook for the perfect harvest inspired bites. Charcuterie boards are the perfect vessel for serving up a variety of hearty hors d’oeuvres.
Start by selecting cheeses that best encompass the tastes of the season. Thinly sliced aged cheddar, a blue stilton, some firm asiago, and a soft goat cheese are ideal for building an exceptional appetizer.
As far as meats go, the traditional selections of salami, pate, prosciutto, and soppressata will work nicely on your board. Consider sweetening the pot with the addition of maple syrup glazed bacon that will give the whole platter a whole new dimension of flavour.
Pull it all together with some rosemary rubbed, oven baked pumpernickel toast crisps and a plethora of succulent apples, pears, and fig jam. Utililzing hearty yet diverse flavours will guarantee you a delicious appetizer your guests will not soon forget.
Everyone can agree that there’s always time for a cocktail. Serving a signature beverage can turn any party up to eleven. Having the staples of red and white wine for your guests is smart, but why not get adventurous and play mixologist with cocktails that capture the essence of autumn?
A recipe as simple as a spiked apple cider can spice up any harvest feast. You will need:
- 250 ml apple cider
- 60 ml apple brandy
- Julienned apple slices
Place glasses in the freezer for approximately five minutes before serving. Fill your cocktail shaker halfway with ice before adding your liquids. Shake vigorously for about 1 minute before straining into your chilled glasses and garnishing with the apple slices.
Fall in Fours
The key to crafting a successful harvest menu is balance. Divide and conquer your menu into four sections: a dish from the oven, a dish from the stovetop, something from the fridge, and something from the market. Adhering to these four principles will help streamline your meals and save you any last minute stress.
A slow-roasted, candied pork shoulder offers delicious texture and all of the spiced flavours of fall, making it an ideal main course offering at your harvest feast.
- Preheat your oven to 230 celsius.
- Place your roast in a dutch oven, uncovered, and bake for 20 minutes.
- Turn heat down to 120 celsius and cover your Dutch oven. Cook for 3-4 hours.
- While the roast cooks, combine 315 grams brown sugar and 65g of bourbon in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat until reduced by ¼.
- Test for an internal temperature of 82 celsius. If not done re-cover and cook until temperature is reached.
- Glaze the pork shoulder with the bourbon mixture, and cook uncovered, for 20 more minutes, glazing the shoulder every 7 minutes.
- After roasting in a dutch oven, pair the pork with buttered leeks and honey glazed carrots.
Moving along to the stovetop, a Tuscan white bean soup makes for the perfect first course thanks to the deliciously hearty combination of ground turkey (or any poultry you prefer) and the fiber rich nutrition of white beans.
- Saute 2 chopped garlic cloves and 1 minced shallot in 30g butter until translucent.
- Add 125g of mirepoix and saute for 5-7 minutes (until veggies are tender)
- Remove vegetables from the pan.
- Brown 225g ground turkey, chicken, pork, or Italian sausage in the same pan with 30g butter (meat is optional; if you want vegetarian, skip this step)
- Add 1 can of cannellini beans with juice (navy beans are fine too), 2-3 sprigs of rosemary, salt & pepper to taste.
- Bring to a boil, then let simmer for 30 minutes.
- Strain and separate 2-3 ladles of the beans and vegetables from the meat and puree, then add back into the soup.
- Add 60g of finely sliced kale and add to the soup.
- Let simmer 15 minutes (or until kale is wilted)
- Serve with sliced baguette or Italian bread
With the help of your fridge, you can prepare all the necessary ingredients for an arugula walnut salad ahead of time. Be sure to add a honey dijon dressing garnished with nibbles of gorgonzola for a first course salad that fits all the traditions of autumn.
And you can’t forget about dessert. Why spend more time slaving away in the kitchen when you can pick up a delicious treat at your local bakery? In-season apple strudels make for perfect party indulgences while individual cheese danishes make for the perfect pairing with a cup of after dinner coffee.
Set a Scene
From sofa covers to personalized patio heater covers, a happy harvest feast is only as exciting as the atmosphere you create for the occasion. Autumn is all about embracing the warmth of community that’s embodied by communal dining and bonding over meals.
Invite guests to a warm, cozy space featuring a cornucopia of fall colours, accentuated by the rustic undertones of your flatware. The kitsch of an outdoor banquet can be accentuated by replacing your typical glassware with appropriately sized mason jars.
A traditional creme tableware set can be paired with wicker placemats for a varied texture on your tabletop. Decorate the table with pinecones, miniature pumpkins, and gourds of all shapes and sizes for even more fall flavour.
If you’re looking to foster a more elegant atmosphere, you can implement a more modern fall aesthetic in your decor. Choose a colour scheme that feels chic and glamorous with neutral tones that encourage a lively and engaging dinner soiree, with accessories like custom tarps in rich taupe hues.
Set up the spread under the light of overhead paper lanterns and tabletop candelabras. Keep unused furniture out of sight with the help of sofa covers and cushion covers for a night of elegance under the harvest moon.