Fall recipes bring homemade comfort

Los Angeles might be a seasonless urban wasteland, but that doesn’t mean you have to abandon the traditions that make the autumnal season so eagerly anticipated.

Autumn in other cities might mean time to bundle up in scarves and sweaters, but here, you can keep your Rainbows and your bro tank on year-round while also partaking in some of the season’s best eats. The staff of the Daily Trojan assembled a collection of recipes to get you in the spirit of fall.


Rosemary Lemon Roasted Pork Belly


Nothing says comfort food like pork belly — the flavorful, fatty cut of pig is the same used to make bacon — but the uncured version has become a mainstay in some of the city’s finest restaurants. Pork belly is also cheaper than most other cuts of meat, so you won’t have to break the piggy bank to whip up this comfort classic.



1 1/2 – 2 pounds pork belly, trimmed and cut into a square shape (about one quarter of a belly)

5-6 sprigs of fresh rosemary

1/2 brown onion, cut into four wedges

1/2 lemon, cut into four wedges

Olive oil

Salt, fresh ground pepper

1/4 cup chicken stock

1/4 cup white wine, for deglazing

Boiling water


First, score the pork across the top (the skin) diagonally with one inch between each cut. Then start from the other side of the belly so that the diagonal cuts intersect and create a diamond shape. Next, pour boiling water over the surface of the pork. This creates the crispy crackling that separates from the rest of the meat when the belly is done cooking.

Season the skin and the underside with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Heat olive oil in a stainless steel pan (or any other oven-safe pan) over medium-high heat, and preheat the oven to 350 degrees with the rack placed on the bottom.

Sear the pork belly, skin side up, on the pan for three to four minutes or until the bottom is slightly browned. Remember to lay the pork belly in the pan starting with the side closest to you and ending away from you so that the hot oil doesn’t burn you. Turn the pork belly over and sear skin-side down for another 3 minutes. Place lemon wedges and onions around the belly of pork and top with rosemary (careful!) and then cover with an oven-safe lid or aluminum foil. Put the pan in the oven and cook for 25 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven and transfer pork, onions, lemon and four sprigs of rosemary from the pan to a serving dish — again, the pan will be very hot, so be careful — and let it rest.

In the meantime, put the pan back on the stove at medium heat. Pour in half a cup of white wine and deglaze the pan — scrape up the caramelized pork with a wooden spoon, and stir quickly.  Add chicken stock and reduce. Remove the rosemary sprig and transfer the gravy to a serving bowl or gravy boat. Slice pork, garnish with onions, lemon and rosemary and serve with gravy.

Baked Sweet Potato Fries


If you’re craving something salty and sweet this season, give this simple but tasty recipe for sweet potato fries a try. This particular recipe balances the heft of baked sweet potatoes by cutting through the denseness of the dish with a fresh citrus bite from the lime.  These sweet potato fries would be delicious paired with a poultry dish or by themselves as a healthy snack.



2 medium sweet potatoes

Extra-virgin olive oil

Coarse salt

1 lime wedge



First, place oven racks in the center of the oven and preheat it to 400 degrees. Clean and cut the sweet potatoes into 1/4 inch batons. Place in a bowl. Drizzle the potatoes with olive oil and toss them gently until evenly coated, then spread them out on two rimmed baking sheets. Bake the potatoes, flipping once, until the centers are soft and edges are crisp — about 22 to 25 minutes. Move the potatoes to a serving dish, sprinkle with salt and serve with lime wedges.

Almond Pumpkin Cheesecake


An alternative to the overdone pumpkin pie present at most autumn gatherings, a modified cheesecake is more satisfying — and, let’s face it — more impressive than most basic fall dessert staples. For something sweet to cap off a big meal, try this classic with a fall twist. The creaminess of the pumpkin-flavored cream cheese filling combined with the crunch of the sweet almond topping and graham cracker crust brings two desserts together for one decadent cheesecake.




For the cheesecake:

1 2/3 cups of graham cracker crumbs

1 cup of sugar, divided

1/4 cup of sliced almonds, chopped

5 tablespoons of margarine or butter, melted

3 packages (8 oz. each) of cream cheese, softened

1 cup of solid, packed canned pumpkin

1/2 cup of sour cream

2 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice

4 eggs

For the almond crunch topping:

1/4 cup of firmly packed brown sugar

3 tablespoons of butter

1/2 cup of shredded coconut

1/2 cup of sliced almonds


Preparation for the cheesecake:

If you will be using a silver nine-inch springform pan, preheat the oven to 350 degrees (or to 325 degrees if using a dark nonstick springform pan). Combine 1 cup of graham cracker crumbs, sugar, almonds and margarine until well mixed. Press firmly onto bottom and two inches up the sides of the pan; set aside. Beat cream cheese and remaining 2/3 cup sugar with an electric mixer on medium speed until well-blended. Add pumpkin, sour cream and spice; mix well. Add eggs one at a time while beating on low speed. Pour the mixture into the crust and bake for one hour. Then, turn off the oven and let the cheesecake stand in oven for 30 minutes.


Preparation for the almond crunch topping:

Cook the sugar and butter in small saucepan on medium heat until the sugar is dissolved. Add the coconut and almonds. Spread the topping over the cheesecake while it is still warm. Broil the entire cheesecake for 2 minutes or until golden brown. Let the cheesecake cool before removing the rim of the pan. Refrigerate for at least four hours before serving.

Pumpkin Spice Latte


You’ve spent all year waiting for its return to Starbucks, but why not whip up a homemade version of your favorite sweet and spicy beverage year-round? This warm, frothy treat is perfect for chilly mornings before class or cozy evenings by the fire, and you can even save the syrup for use throughout the season.



For the pumpkin spice syrup:

1 1/2 cups water

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1/3 cup canned pumpkin

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon ground all spice


For the latte:

3/4 cup milk, steamed or foamed

2 tablespoons pumpkin spice syrup, or to taste

2 shots espresso

Whipped cream, for topping (optional)

Cinnamon, for topping (optional)


For the syrup:

Combine water and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat and stir often until sugar dissolves completely into water. Add pumpkin and spices, and whisk until smooth. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for another 10 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent boiling. Remove from heat and allow the liquid to cool for about 30 minutes. Strain if desired. Transfer to a container and store in the refrigerator. Shake well before use.


Preparation for the latte:

Place desired amount of pumpkin syrup in cup. Add espresso or coffee and stir to combine. Pour frothed or steamed milk on top and stir lightly. Top with whipped cream and a dash cinnamon for extra spice.


Autumn is a time for gathering with friends and family — and enjoying rich comfort food. These four recipes are sure to help you “fall” into a food coma.


Sara Clayton, a junior majoring in public relations, also contributed to this article.

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