I know that right now it’s unseasonably warm in the north state, and it feels more like early summer, but trust me, it’s fall.
I know it because my giant oak has started its annual leaf dump onto my roof and into my yard. And I can smell something that reminds me of skunk, but I know it’s not.
But even on these warm (80s!) days, as the sun goes down, so do the temperatures. And with fall weather comes fall foods like soups and stews and crock-pot cooking. And because next week is Halloween, you’ll want to stock up on apple cider and all things Halloweeny. For inspiration, Tops Market butchers got into the spirit of things with these locally produced, grass-fed Turri Family Farms hamburger patties topped with ghost and pumpkin cheese shapes.
Fresh & creamy avocados @ 5/$4.00. This is the time of year when I liberally use avocados, especially in salads, so it’s perfect timing to take advantage of this great price. (See below for one of my favorite recipes: ‘A’ salad: Avocado, Apple, Arugula and Almond.)
Juicy & crisp honey crisp apples @ $1.69 lb. Last week at Tops I bought Cadia’s Honey Crisp organic apple juice, a good reminder that Honey Crisp is an apple variety, not just a description. These are delicious to eat as a snack, or slice and serve with cheese. Something I like to do is make a cheese quesadilla, cut it in triangles and top each slice with a thin apple wedge. I’ll also use these apples in my salad.
Crisp & tangy cranberries 12oz. pkg. @ 2/$3.00. I’m not suggesting we hoard cranberries, but I will remind you that if you buy cranberries now, you can freeze them so you are guaranteed to have them at Thanksgiving or Christmas. Don’t make me recall the distressing Thanksgiving when I couldn’t find cranberries, and drove from store to store Thanksgiving Eve, in my quest for cranberries. (Of course, as we get closer to Thanksgiving you know I’ll share my delicious Spiked Cranberries recipe.)
Superior Farms Lamb Shoulder Chops @ $5.99 lb. I was especially excited to see this featured because lamb is my favorite meat, Also, because lamb shoulders are finally catching on as a delicious lamb option, better than the more expensive lamb chops (IMHO), because they have more meat, and not as much bone to navigate. (It’s sort of how I prefer the unsung chicken thighs to the more spendy chicken breastst.)
My favorite way to prepare lamb shoulder is to heat a little olive oil in a pan, saute some garlic and fresh rosemary sprigs and add the lamb. Cook on both sides over a heat high enough to give the meat a nice sear, but leave it nicely pink in the center. Serve on a warm plate with a side of mint jelly (can’t help it; I’m conditioned to eat mint with lamb). Do as the Italians do and serve the lamb with a lemon wedge and rosemary sprig.
Sushi is back. Also, Tops is pleased to announce that its fresh sushi is back. Sometimes, I like to pick up one of the small trays of California Rolls for a healthy lunch, but it’s great for a ready-made dinner, too. It’s made fresh daily with the finest ingredients. As the Tops people like to say, it’s quality you can taste. Oh, speaking of quick meals, as always, Tops Deli makes custom sandwiches just the way you like them. You can order your sandwich online or by phone ( ).
Remember last week I introduced you to the full line of Cadia organic products found at Tops Market? Many of those are on special this week. (Scroll about half way down the page and you’ll see what I’m talking about.)
Something I recently realized, is that Tops Market offers something many stores don’t: Overlapping ad specials. At Tops, it’s double ad Wednesdays, because its previous and new ads overlap every Wednesday. So each Wednesday, you can take advantage of the last day of the previous week’s ad, as well as that day’s new ad.
In the meantime, enjoy this salad that features this week’s specially priced avocados and Honey Crisp apples. This salad serves four to six.
Reminder: On Fri., Oct. 25 from 5 to 7 p.m. Tops in Redding will host its Rogue Beer Tasting. On the same day and time the Weaverville Tops will feature its Gnarly Head Wine Tasting. There is a $3 tasting fee. Adults only.
Doni’s A+ Salad: Avocado, Apple, Arugula and Almond2 avocados, sliced, rinsed with cold water 2 Honey Crisp apples, sliced 6 cups arugula (approximate) 1/2 cup sliced, toasted almonds Apple Cider Vinaigrette 1/4 cup apple cider 2 tablespoons lemon juice 4 tablespoons sugar (or honey) 1 shallot, finely diced 3/4 cup best olive oil Salt and pepper, to taste
In a blender, whirl together the apple cider, lemon juice, sugar and shallot, until smooth. With blender running at the lowest speed, slowly drizzle in the olive oil, allowing the vinaigrette to thicken. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Set vinaigrette aside.
Place the arugula in the bottom of a wide, shallow bowl (like you’d use for pasta). Pour the vinaigrette over the arugula, in a quantity to suit your taste. Toss well. Cover the arugula with the avocados and apples. Sprinkle with almonds. (Maybe make individual salads, if you prefer.) Serve with a crusty bread.
Serves 4 to 6.
This recipe sponsored by Tops Market in Weaverville and Redding.
Click here to order a sandwich online from the Weaverville Tops Market.
Independent online journalist Doni Chamberlain founded what’s now known as anewscafe.com in 2007 with her son, Joe Domke of the Czech Republic. Prior to 2007 Chamberlain was an award-winning newspaper opinion columnist, feature and food writer recognized by the Associated Press, the California Newspaper Publishers Association and E.W. Scripps. She lives in Redding, CA.