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Archive for October, 2010

I saw this vegetable at the farmers’ market and thought it was a pumpkin.  Turns out, it’s not a pumpkin.  It’s a red kobacha squash, also known as a sunshine squash.  The guy at the stand assured me it was delicious though, so I figured it would sub just fine in this recipe.  It’s also the closest thing to a Halloween recipe I’ve got.

If you buy one, a word of warning.  Sharpen your knives, clear your countertop, and summon  your inner Freddie Krueger.  This is quite a bit more difficult than cutting a sandwich in half.  By the grace of God, goddesses, Xenu, and the Flying Spagetti Monster, I got this thing cut open without stabbing myself or breaking everything in my kitchen.  I had a few near misses, but chopped it all up without incident

 This is the first Rick Bayless recipe I’ve ever made, and I’m definitely interested in trying more now.  This recipe was unusual.  I don’t usually cook vegan meals, so it was a nice change.  I served it over rice, making it also a gluten free meal, so this dish would be a great contribution to a potluck or buffet, if you have a lot of friends with various dietary restrictions.   The recipe took a while to prepare, so it’s not really a good weeknight meal, but it makes a ton of food, so your labors will be worth it.  The recipe says it serves four as a main course, but my husband and I ate it for dinner, then for lunch, and still had leftovers.  To mix things up a bit, we  the last of it as a taco filling, piling it on corn tortillas and topping them with cotija cheese – really, really good. 

Smoky Braised Mexican Pumpkin (or Squash)
Recipe by Rick Bayless, via Martha Stewart

Ingredients

Three to six 1/4-to-1/2- ounce stemmed, dried chipotle chiles, or canned chipotle chiles en adobo
3 large cloves garlic
5 medium (about 8 ounces) tomatillos, husked, rinsed, and halved
2 medium round, or 4 to 5 plum, ripe tomatoes, or one 15-ounce can fire-roasted tomatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium white onion, thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups sliced Swiss chard
1 teaspoon coarse salt
4 cups peeled, seeded, and cut into 3/4-inch cubes fresh pumpkin, preferably from a 1 1/2-pound wedge cut from a tan or green Mexican pumpkin or a 2-pound pie pumpkin 
2 poblano peppers, cut into 1 inch chunks (not in the original recipe, but I had some and figured I’d use them)

Directions 

Make the salsa: If using dried chiles, preheat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat.  Add chiles and toast, turning frequently and pressing down with a flat spatula, until very aromatic, about 30 seconds.  Transfer chiles to a small bowl and cover with hot water. Let sit until chiles are rehydrated, for 30 minutes, stirring frequently to ensure even soaking.

Place garlic and tomatillos in the skillet. Toast, turning occasionally, until soft and blackened in some spots, 3 to 4 minutes for the tomatillos and about 5 minutes for the garlic. Transfer garlic, tomatillos, and their juices to the bowl of a food processor or jar of a blender.

Drain chiles, either from the soaking water or their canning liquid, and discard liquid. Add chiles to the tomatillos and process to a fine-textured puree. Set aside.

If you are using fresh tomatoes, the original recipe recommends cutting them up and roasting them in the oven for a few minutes.  I didn’t see the point, and just skipped that step.  I don’t think it makes a difference, and the recipe is complicated enough as is.

In a large heavy skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat.  Saute onions until soft and translucent.  Add the stems of the chard and the diced poblanos, if you are using them.  Saute for about 5 minutes or so, until they start to soften.  Add the chard and a few tablespoons of water. (I used the water leftover from soaking my chipotles.)  Add the salsa and tomatoes and stir to combine.

To make this dish ahead of time, cover and refrigerate sauce for up to 2 days, then continue cooking as follows.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place the diced pumpkin and squash evenly in a glass baking dish (the recipe said 9×9, but I had enough food for a 8×13).  Pour the chard mixture over the squash.   Cover baking dish with foil and bake until pumpkin is tender, 40 to 45 minutes. Dish can be cooled and refrigerated at this point, if desired, then continue cooking as followed when ready to serve.

To continue cooking, uncover dish and raise the oven temperature to 400 degrees. Continue baking until sauce has reduced slightly and top becomes crusty, about 15 minutes. Serve immediately, with rice, corn tortillas, or whatever you’d like.

 


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In the November 2010 Food & Wine, the magazine claims that vegetables are the next big thing.  Now, I love my Food & Wine, but seriously, how desperate were they when they came up with that line?  In any event, in promoting vegetables as the next big thing, they had a recipe for parsnip bacon.  I guess since bacon was the last big thing, they figured they had to work it in to help us ease the transition from one big thing to the next.  The recipe sounded good, so I thought I’d give it a try.

In a weird twist, the finished product looked nothing like the picture, but did look a lot like bacon.  However, it tasted nothing like bacon.  But it did taste like Terra Chips, which are pretty awesome, if not as awesome as bacon.  But since bacon is out, and vegetables are in, then that’s probably just as well.

Parsnip Chips

Preheat the oven to 300.  Using a vegetable peeler, peel a parsnip into thin strips.  Toss in vegetable oil (like the recipe) or olive oil (like me).  Spread out on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and sprinkle with smoked sea salt.

Bake at 300 for an hour and 15 minutes (like the recipe) or until they start to burn after about 35 minutes (like me).

Despite my issues with them, they were really good.  Crunchy and salty, they’d make for a nice party snack.  The long strips look really nice standing up in a glass, a lot nicer than a bowl of Terra Chips which just look like potpouri.


 

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It’s a cold and rainy weekend here, so I wanted to make something comforting and satisfying.  In preparing the sausuages, I loosely followed this recipe from Food & Wine.  For the mash, I was inspired by this Martha Stewart recipe for mashed parnsip and apple, and this Ina Garten recipe for pureed celery root and apple.  Since there seems to be a bunch of recipes floating around online for mashed parnsip and celery root as well, I saw no good reason not to just throw them all together.

This is a pretty forgiving, easy meal, so I’m not going to bother with precise measurements or instructions.  Just throw things into a pan, and you’ll probably be fine.

Braised Sausages and Grapes

Add a few Italian sausages to a skillet and add water.  Simmer for about 6 or 7 minutes, longer if they are really big, turning a few times.  Drain. 

 Turn the heat down to medium and put the sausages back in the pan.   Add a splash of olive oil and some minced shallot to the pan.  Saute for a few minutes, turning the sausages, and allowing the sausages to brown. 

Add about 1/4 cup of wine (I used red).  I’m sure vinegar or broth would be fine too.  Scrape up the sticky bits from the bottom of the pan.  Pour the grapes into the pan and season with salt and pepper.  Allow the dish to simmer for a couple minutes, adding another splash of wine to help it all come together.  Remove from heat and serve.

Apple-Root Vegetable Mash

Peel a large apple, a 1 pound celery root, and a couple parnsips.  Chop into 1-2 inch chunks.  Put into a pan with about a cup of water and a good pinch of salt.  Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to a simmer.  Let the vegetables cook for 20-30 minutes, until soft.  Drain and add everything back to the pan.  Add a splash of cream or milk and a good pat of butter.  Mash with a potato masher until it reaches desired texture.  Add extra butter or salt if needed.

I served everything with some braised broccoli rabe, which I made by sauteing it in some olive oil, a few cloved of minced garlic, and a pinch of red pepper flakes. 

To drink, some lovely Syrah from the fabulous Bonny Doon vineyards, a favorite of my husband’s.

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I know a lot of people rave about their KitchenAid mixers.  I like mine.  It’s useful.  But I don’t want to marry it.  My kitchen isn’t that big so it can’t just sit on the counter, and sometimes it feels like pulling it down from the top of the fridge is more work than just stirring the batter by hand.

So, here is a super delicious dessert that requires no mixer.  It’s good.  Really good.  The recipe itself is really basic and perfect as is, but would probably also be lovely with some cinnamon added, or maybe even some minced fresh rosemary.

Buttery Apple Cake
Recipe by Martha Stewart

Ingredients
Vegetable-oil cooking spray
3/4 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 pound Granny Smith apples, peeled and shredded on the large holes of a box grater (about 2 cups)
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons whole milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Heavy cream, for serving (optional, I skipped it and instead went for a dusting of confectioners’ sugar)

Directions
Make the cake: Preheat oven to 325. Coat an 8-inch springform pan with cooking spray; dust with flour, tapping out excess. Place on a rimmed baking sheet. Spread apples in pan; set aside.

Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, milk, oil, and eggs in a medium bowl until smooth. Pour over apples. Bake until set and pale golden brown, about 40 minutes.

Make the topping: Stir together butter, sugar, egg, and vanilla in a small bowl. Remove cake from oven, and pour topping over cake.

Bake another 25 minutes until golden brown.  Let cool completely in pan on a wire rack.  Remove sides of pan, and transfer cake to a serving plate.

Serve slices drizzled with cream or a dusting of confectioners’ sugar.

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I had never heard of champvallon before but if Martha Stewart says it’s a real dish, I believe her.  Apparently, it’s a French dish of stewed lamb and potatoes that may have been invented by a wife of Louis XIV.  It seems to me more like peasant food than a dish of kings, but wherever it came from, it’s delicious.  And, for a dish that’s just a pile of meat and potatoes, surprisingly light, though that could be my super delicious Marin Sun Farms lamb talking.

Champvallon
Recipe by Martha Stewart

Ingredients
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 pounds boneless lamb shoulder, cut into 1-inch pieces
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
4 cups homemade or store-bought low-sodium chicken stock
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary, plus more for sprinkling
5 to 6 russet potatoes, peeled

Directions
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Season lamb generously with salt and pepper.  Cook a third of the lamb, until golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes per side.  Transfer to a bowl.  Stir in cup stock, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom.  Pour liquid over browned lamb.  Repeat with oil, lamb, and stock.  After the last batch, do not pour out stock.

Add onions, garlic, and rosemary to pot, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.  Return browned lamb and juices from bowl to pot.  Add remaining stock and  bring to a boil, reduce heat, and cover. Simmer until meat is tender, about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Slice potatoes as thin as possible.  If you have a mandoline, even better.  I don’t, but managed to get about 1/8 inch slices with a good knife and some patience.  Rinse, then pat dry.  Toss with remaining 2 tablespoons oil.

Cover bottom of a 12-inch dish with half the potato slices.  The recipe recommends a gratin dish, I found a good wide pie plate worked fine.  With the potatoes, start at outer edge, overlap each potato by half, working in concentric circles toward center.  Spoon lamb and broth over top, then repeat arrangement with remaining potato slices on top of lamb. Sprinkle with rosemary, and season with salt and pepper.  Bake until top is gold, edges are crisp, and juices are bubbling, about 1 hour.  Let cool slightly before serving.

The resulting dish was delicious. The potatoes on top get crispy and brown and the ones on that bottom soak up all the juices from the lamb and the rosemary infused broth.

Because this is a French dish, I thought French wine would be fitting.  But, with all my jaunts to Napa and Sonoma, there’s just no French wine anywhere in my house.  Fortunately, we had on hand some lovely French style pinot noir from Freeman Winery in Sonoma.  Ken Freeman and his wife Akiko have built this beautiful little winery in Sebastopol, complete with a spectacular wine cave.  They make lovely French style wines, and some of the best Chardonnay I’ve ever had.  I highly recommend a visit if you are in the area.  And, if you are not in the area, I recommend seeking out some of this Sonoma Coast pinot to drink with your champvallon.  It was a perfect combo.

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Just like last year, I’ve been buying up my beloved dry farmed early girl tomatoes like crazy.  They are the best tomato ever, and if you are lucky enough to find them at your farmers market, buy them.  You won’t regret it.

With those tomatoes on my mind, I was quite excited to stumble across this recipe in this month’s Food and Wine.  The tomatoes don’t get cooked, so it’s really a perfect recipe to savor the last of the amazing summer tomatoes.

Pasta with Tomatoes, Anchovies, and Almonds
Recipe by Food and Wine

Ingredients
1 1/2 pounds  tomatoes, cored and finely diced.  I used dry farmed early girls, but the recipe recommends beefsteak.  I think any meaty tomato that doesn’t have a lot of water in it would work.
1/4 cup finely shredded basil leaves
2 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Pinch of crushed red pepper
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup salted roasted almonds
3 large oil-packed anchovies
1 large garlic clove, smashed
1/2 cup grated fresh pecorino cheese.  I used parmesan, but the recipe recommends Fiore di Sardo.
2 tablespoons capers, drained
1 pound pasta.  I used fetticine, but the recipe recomments spaghettini

Directions

In a large bowl, combine the diced tomatoes with the shredded basil, scallions, olive oil and crushed red pepper.  Season lightly with salt and black pepper and let the tomatoes stand for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a mini food processor, pulse the almonds with the anchovies and garlic until finely chopped. Add the 1/2 cup of cheese and the capers and pulse to combine.

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta until al dente. Drain the pasta, shaking off the excess water. Add the pasta to the tomatoes along with the chopped almond mixture and toss well. Serve the pasta, passing extra cheese at the table.

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