Pear tarts, squash gratin, duck tagliatelle and Georgian eggplant stew? Don’t mind if we do.

Ajapsandali, a Georgian eggplant stew, is a hearty and brightly colored vegetable soup. (Photo courtesy Pavel Sirotin/Bevri)

It’s fall, and that means it’s time to luxuriate with warm, comforting and richly indulgent dishes. We asked Peninsula chefs to share some of their favorite fall recipes, and they responded with guides on how to create a variety of elegant dishes sure to please the pickiest of household members, roommates or dinner party guests. From ajapsandali, a Georgian eggplant stew, to winter squash gratin, to pear tarts and an involved recipe for duck tagliatelle with wagyu beef and chanterelle mushroom sauce, try out these recipes to push your culinary techniques to new levels and explore a wide palette of autumnal flavors. 

Ajapsandali (Georgian eggplant stew)

Recipe from Pavel Sirotin, Bevri

Serves 2 to 4


  • 2 large eggplant
  • 1 large tomato
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • ½ yellow onion 
  • Garlic
  • Cilantro
  • Spices (utskho suneli, khmeli suneli, ground black pepper and salt) to your preference


Ajapsandali is a flavorful vegetable stew. With only a handful of ingredients, you can make a gorgeous dish. 

Using a heavy saucepan over medium-low heat, cook the diced onion, stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes until it turns translucent with spots turning brown.

Peel the skin from the tomato, dice the tomato and add to the onion. Keep cooking for another 1-2 minutes. Add the diced eggplant with a good amount of salt on top to both season them and make them release water. This gives the ajapsandali the proper stew texture. Then stir them to mix with everything else in the pot. Close the lid for about 10 minutes.

Next, add sliced bell peppers and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic, spices and half of the cilantro. Stir everything and close the lid for another 5 minutes.

Turn off the heat and add the other half of the cilantro. Stir and make sure to taste for seasoning and adjust. Allow the dish to cool and then refrigerate for a few hours to allow the flavors to blend well. 

If you’re excited and/or hungry, you can certainly eat it right away. Enjoy with a glass of amber Georgian wine, like Artevani Kisi

Bevri, 530 Bryant St., Palo Alto, and 325 Main St., Los Altos. Instagram: @bevrifood.

Winter squash gratin

Recipe from Guillaume Bienaime, Zola

Inspired by Anne Willan’s “From My Château Kitchen,” this is a great dish to serve alongside roast pork or prime rib. Make sure you source good Comté cheese to make the dish shine. 

Serves 6


  • 750 grams of squash puree, cooked. (Any type of squash is OK, make sure the puree isn’t too wet and don’t use a can)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup cream
  • 50 grams Parmesan cheese
  • 125 grams high-quality Comté cheese
  • 2 cups raw leeks, melted
  • Espelette, to taste
  • Nutmeg, to taste
  • Salt, to taste


Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix until smooth. Divide into roughly 6 6-ounce ramekins and bake at 350 F until golden brown and puffy, about 20 minutes. 

Zola and BarZola, 565 Bryant St., Palo Alto. Instagram: @zola.barzola.

Duck tagliatelle with wagyu beef belly and chanterelle mushroom sauce

Duck tagliatelle with wagyu beef belly and a chanterelle mushroom sauce is a complex recipe but yields a beautiful dish. (Photo courtesy Andrea Giuliani/Pausa)

Recipe from Andrea Giuliani, Pausa

This recipe from San Mateo’s Pausa restaurant is a challenge that requires at least a day of advance preparation. It serves six and involves making tagliatelle noodles with duck eggs, sous-vide techniques, and a blended chanterelle mushroom sauce. You’ll need a KitchenAid with a pasta roller attachment, vacuum-sealing bags for sous-vide cooking and a blender like a Vitamix, along with specialty ingredients like duck eggs, juniper, wagyu beef and chanterelle mushrooms.

Serves 6

Duck tagliatelle dough


  • 4 cups of flour
  • 4 duck eggs


Using a KitchenAid stand mixer, use the dough attachment to mix flour and eggs on a slow speed for a few minutes until smooth and well combined. Transfer the dough from the bowl to the table. Using your palm, knead the dough for 5 minutes. Form a ball and cover it with plastic wrap. Let the dough rest for 20-30 minutes. 

Divide the dough into 3 parts. Using the pasta roller attachment on the KitchenAid, start to roll out the dough until you reach the desired thickness. Each sheet should be 10-12 inches long. Using the tagliatelle attachment, cut the tagliatelle and set it aside on a sheet pan until ready to cook.

Wagyu beef belly


  • Approximately 2 ⅕ pounds wagyu beef
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • 2 sprigs rosemary
  • 2 sprigs sage
  • 4 ounces red wine
  • 4 pieces allspice
  • 4 pieces juniper
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Season beef with salt and pepper. Place beef in a vacuum pouch with thyme, rosemary and sage sprigs. Add the red wine, allspice and juniper. Seal the bag and cook in sous vide @156 F for 24 hours.

Once cooked, open the vacuum pouch, strain, and save the liquid to be used in the mushroom sauce. Cut beef into ⅜” by ⅜” cubes and set aside until ready to saute with the pasta and mushroom sauce.

Chanterelle mushroom sauce


  • 2 ⅕ lbs chanterelle mushrooms (cleaned and sliced)
  • ¼ cup butter
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped shallots
  • 6 ounces white wine
  • 1 pint of the previously cooked beef belly liquid (if not enough, add beef stock)
  • Salt and white pepper to taste
  • 1/2 ounce chopped thyme


Begin by adding butter and extra virgin olive oil to a pot on medium heat. Add the shallots and cook for a few minutes. Add in the mushrooms and stir occasionally. Once combined, add the white wine and cook until the alcohol evaporates. Pour in the beef stock and cook for 5 minutes. Remove 1/4 of the mushrooms and some liquid and blend with the Vitamix. Add the blended mushrooms back to the cooking mushrooms and continue to cook for an additional 5 minutes. Add chopped thyme and salt and white pepper to taste.


Ingredients (for garnish)

  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Parmesan cheese (grated)


Cook the tagliatelle in salted boiling water for 4-5 minutes. In the meantime, in a saute pan, add the chanterelle sauce with the beef belly and gently warm. Add the cooked pasta to a serving bowl and pour the warm chanterelle sauce over it. Mix the pasta while adding chopped parsley, lemon zest and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Top with grated Parmesan cheese. Serve and enjoy. Buon appetito!

Pausa, 223 E 4th Ave., San Mateo, 650-375-0818, Instagram: @pausasanmateo.

Baked pear tart

A pear tart baked on a rough puff pastry, glazed with apricot jam. (Photo courtesy Ursula Schnyder/SWEET55)

Recipe from Ursula Schnyder, SWEET55

Rough puff pastry


  • 200 grams all purpose flour, ice cold (we use King Arthur all purpose flour) 
  • 200 grams of very cold butter, cut into cubes of approximately 1 inch (we use Plugra butter) 
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon salt 
  • 100 grams ice-cold water (more or less, see below) 


Heap the cold flour in a mound on the counter. Toss the cubed butter into the flour to coat each piece. After it’s well-coated, begin to rub in the flour until the butter is the size of large hazelnuts or grapes. Continue to toss the butter in with the flour as you press and smush it, recoating the pieces as you mix. When the cubes of butter have become the size of hazelnuts/grapes, gradually add the iced water and mix until all is incorporated. Don’t add too little or too much water – the shaggy dough should be moist, but not wet or dry – and don’t overwork the dough. Roll into a rectangle, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20 minutes. 

Flour the counter and roll out the dough into an approximately 16 x 8 inch (40 x 20 centimeter) rectangle. Fold it into 3 and give it a quarter-turn. Roll the block of dough into a 16 x 8 inch rectangle as before, and fold it into 3 again. These are the first 2 turns. Wrap the block in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Give the chilled dough another 2 turns rolling and folding as before. Don’t forget to give it a quarter turn before each fold. This makes a total of 4 turns, and the dough is now almost ready. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before using.

On a lightly floured counter, roll out the dough to a 2 millimeter (1/16 inch) thickness. Place on a baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before next steps. Tightly wrapped in plastic wrap, this quick puff pastry will keep for three days in the refrigerator, and for at least six weeks in the freezer. Yields 500 grams rough puff pastry (makes one 12-inch fruit tart). 

Keep in mind: Cold flour, cold butter, cold water, cold hands and enough resting time between folds make the best puff pastry! 

Baked fruit tart with quick puff pastry 

This elegant tart is baked in a stainless steel ring. Any ring diameter works. At SWEET55, we bake tarts with pears (Bartlett), apricots (Blenheim), plums (Santa Rosa), prunes (Italian or French) and apples (Granny Smith). Nectarines are delicious too, but may release excess juices. These fruits don’t have to be cooked before they are used in the tart. 

Note: It is important to purchase high quality, perfectly ripe fruit. Overripe or underripe fruit may negatively impact the flavor or mouthfeel of your baked tart. Peeled pears and apples may be marinated in lemon juice prior to baking. Our baked fruit tarts are made with quick puff pastry, almond cream, fresh fruit cut into thin slices, sugar, lemon juice (pear and apple tarts only) and thinned apricot jam for the glaze. 


  • 11-inch 400 grams puff pastry 
  • 500 grams ripe fruit (more or less) 
  • 100-150 grams almond cream (recipe below) and/or crushed Amaretti cookies
  • Juice of 1 lemon (apples and pear tarts only) 
  • 2-3 tablespoons sugar 
  • 2-3 tablespoons apricot jam (thinned with water) for glazing 

Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicon mat and an 11-inch (28 centimeter) tart ring. On a lightly floured counter, roll out the puff pastry to an approximately 2-3 mm (1/16 inch) thick circle. The diameter of the circle should be about 5 centimeters (2 inches) larger than the tart ring. Roll the cold pastry onto the rolling pin and unroll it onto the prepared tart ring. Make sure you have enough pastry all around. Gently press the pastry onto the sides of the ring and make sure the dough forms a distinct 90 degree angle at the inside of the ring. Chill again for approximately 10 minutes or until dough is firm, then roll the rolling pin over the ring to cut the excess pastry off the sides. With a fork, prick holes in the pastry at the bottom. Chill for 30-40 minutes. 

Preheat oven to 360 to 380 F. Peel apples and pears, then cut into very thin slices and marinate in lemon juice for about 15 minutes. Apricots, plums and prunes don’t have to be peeled or marinated. With an offset spatula, spread a thin layer of almond cream (frangipane) evenly onto the entire bottom of the tart. Arrange fruit slices on top of the almond cream in concentric circles so they overlap slightly. Chill for 30 minutes. 

Preheat oven to 360 F. Bake for about 20 minutes. Make sure the edge of the tart has started to form a golden crust and carefully remove the stainless steel ring. Because no sugar has been added yet, this should work without the use of a knife. 

Sprinkle one to two tablespoons of sugar over the fruit before continuing the bake. Reduce the oven temperature to 325-340 F if the tart gets too dark too quickly. Remove from the oven after a total baking time of 45-55 minutes (smaller tarts 30-35 minutes), then sprinkle a bit more sugar over the fruit and add the hot, thinned apricot glaze with a pastry brush. 

If the bottom is soggy after the bake, put the tart back in the oven and bake a little longer. Transfer to a wire rack. Check the bottom for crispness and let it cool for at least 20 minutes before serving. Serve tarts the same day they have been made, cold or slightly warm with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream or plain. Enjoy with a glass of wine, a cup of coffee or tea. 

Keep in mind: Bake the tart long enough so the bottom is not soggy. Make sure your dough stays cool and gets enough resting time between each step of the recipe. Never bake a tart with a soft dough! 

Almond cream (frangipane) 


  • 250 grams confectioners’ sugar (powdered sugar)
  • 250 grams ground almonds 
  • 125 grams soft butter (room temperature) 
  • 25 grams flour
  • 2 large eggs, sifted 
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract (optional) 


Sift the confectioners’ sugar and ground almonds together and set aside. In a large bowl, work the soft butter with a whisk until creamy. Still whisking, add the confectioners’ sugar and almond mixture, then the flour. When the mixture is evenly combined, incorporate the eggs one by one, whisking between each addition. You should now have a smooth, light cream. Stir in the almond extract if you wish. This cream will keep in an airtight container or a bowl covered with plastic wrap in the refrigerator for up to a week, in the freezer for 3 months. Leave it at room temperature for 30 minutes before using.

SWEET55, 855 El Camino Real Suite 123, Palo Alto and 225 CA-1 Suite 104C, Half Moon Bay, Instagram: @sweet55swiss.

Kate Bradshaw

Kate Bradshaw

Kate Bradshaw reports food news and feature stories all over the Peninsula, from south of San Francisco to north of San José. Since she began working with Embarcadero Media in 2015, she's reported on everything from Menlo Park's City Hall politics to Mountain View's education system. She has won awards from the California News Publishers Association for her coverage of local government, elections and land use reporting.

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