Posts Tagged ‘Original Recipes’

This weird looking thing is romanesco and it’s awesome.  I’m not a huge broccoli or cauliflower fan, but this is their more delicious sibling.  Plus, it’s probably the only nuclear green food without artificial ingredients.  I’ve only recently started cooking with it, and now can’t stop.  Mostly I’ve been roasting it, but it was fabulous in some roasted garlic aioli during the Super Bowl, and it’s really good on this pizza.

Romanesco Pizza a la Arugulove

1 pizza dough (this is my latest favorite recipe)
a couple heads of romanesco, broken up into florets
1 lemon, zested and juiced
a couple leeks, washed and thinly sliced
A bunch of kalamata olives, pitted and diced (I probably used about 1/3 of a cup before chopping)
A tablespoon or two of capers, chopped up a bit, if you can
A handful of fresh parsley, minced
4 ounces of goat cheese
Olive oil, salt & pepper

Preheat the oven to 450.  Toss the romanesco in olive oil and salt and pepper and roast for about 10-15 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat up some olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Add the leeks, and saute until soft, about 7-10 minutes.  Towards the end, add the lemon juice, and simmer until cooked off.  Place the olives, capers, and parsley in a bowl.  When the leeks are done, add those and mix together.  Spread out on the pizza dough.

At this point, I was tempted to bake and eat just like this.  I may do it too, for my next party.

But, this time, I persevered.  I pulled the romanesco out and spread it on the pizza.  Add the crumbled goat cheese and the lemon zest.  Stick it back in the oven and bake for another 12 minutes or so.  Pull out and enjoy with a glass of crisp rose or sauvignon blanc.

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I really love my meat CSA, but one challenge it presents is finding new things to do with all the ground meat.  We get five pounds a month, usually 3 pounds of beef and 2 of something else.  There are only so many burgers and chili that I can possibly eat.  When I picked up my December shipment last week and tried to cram it all in my freezer full of meat, frozen cooking projects, and limoncello, I realized I was really far behind.  So I did an inventory and discovered I had about twelve pounds of ground meat in there, including seven of beef.  Oof.  Time to start using it.

Back in April, I made a Shepherd’s Pie with Spring Vegetables.  It was really good, and I made it a lot over the summer, often adding sweet summer corn into the vegetable mix.  I figured just because peas and carrots were no longer in season, there had to be a way to still make this.  So, I ventured off to the farmers’ market last weekend and basically bought one of everything, chopped it up, and threw it in my Shepherd’s Pie with Winter Vegetables.  And it was to die for.  It might even be better than the spring one, because while fresh peas are pretty delicious, nothing beats mashed sweet potato.

This is a pretty flexible recipe.  Nothing technical about it.  Everything in this is local – the meat is from Marin Sun Farms, the produce from the farmers market, dairy from Clover Stornetta, and the dollop of honey is from some dude in Oakland, who apparently sells his honey at my grocery store.  Who knew?

Shepherd’s Pie with Winter Vegetables

2 pounds ground meat (I used beef)
2 onions, thinly sliced
6 cups diced root vegetables (I used a mix of carrots, parsnip, celery root, and turnip)
lots of mashed sweet potato (I baked about 5 big ones)
2 cups of diced Brussel sprouts
a few tablespoons minced woody herbs, like rosemary, thyme, and sage.

Bake the sweet potatoes until they are soft.  Mash them up with a good pat of butter, salt and pepper, a splash of cream, and a good dollop of honey.  The honey really made these things, especially since the vegetables had some bitterness in them.

Preheat the oven to 400.

In a big saute pan, heat up some butter or oil over medium heat.  Add the onions and a pinch of salt and pepper.  Slowly saute until they turn golden brown, about 12-15 minutes.  Add the root vegetables and saute those.  You may need to add a splash of water to deglaze the pan if it starts to look like it’s going to burn.  When the vegetables start to soften up a bit, you add the meat.  If your pan is not big enough (mine wasn’t), just dump them out and add the meat.  Brown it, add the herbs, then add the Brussel sprouts.  Stir together and add to the root vegetables.

In a deep baking dish, add the meat and vegetables and spread it out.  Then start adding the mashed sweet potatoes on top and spread those out.

Stick it in the oven and bake for about 20-30 minutes.  If you want your potatoes brown and carmelized on top (who doesn’t?), finish it off in the broiler for a few minutes.  Cut up and serve.

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I had an insane week, running around to meetings all over the place.  When Friday came, I just wanted some good food and a giant glass of wine.  There wasn’t much in the house, but I had a head of escarole crammed in the back of the fridge that I had forgotten I bought last weekend at the farmers market.   Still good!  My lucky day.  With a bit of pancetta and a couple of leeks on hand, I figured I could toss a quick pasta dish together.

I really think you can’t go wrong by just tossing a bunch of spring produce into a pot, and this dish proved to be no exception.  Yum.  Best of all, I could prep and cook the vegetables in the same amount of time it took to boil the water and cook the pasta.  After just 20 minutes, I was eating my yummy spring dinner and drinking my wine.  The bonus was lots of leftovers for easy weekend lunches. 

Pasta with Pancetta, Escarole, and Leeks

1 pound pasta (I used linguine)
1-2 heads of escarole (1 was fine, but next time I’ll do two because I like lots of greens in my pasta)
4 ounces finely diced pancetta
2 leeks, white and light green parts, thinly sliced
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 cup of dry white wine
olive oil
salt, pepper, and grated parmesan to serve

Bring a pot of salted water to boil.  Meanwhile, wash the escarole and chop into thin ribbons, and prepare the leeks and garlic.

In a large skillet over medium high heat, add a tablespoon or so of olive oil and the pancetta.  Saute for a couple minutes and add the leeks, sauting for another 5 minutes or so until they start to get soft.  Add the garlic and saute for another minute or so.

Around this point, the water should be boiling, so add your pasta.

Add the wine to the leeks, scraping up any brown bits from the pancetta from the bottom of the pan.  Add the escarole, cover, and reduce heat to low.  Stir every three or four minutes or so. 

Just before you drain the pasta, take the lid off, add a half cup or so of the pasta water to the escarole, and continue to simmer.  Drain the pasta and add it to the escarole mixture, mixing well.  Remove from the heat, season with salt and pepper, and serve with grated parmesan.  A glass of wine too – I went for St. Supery’s sauvignon blanc, perfect with the dish.


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I don’t really have that much to say about this dish, except that:

1. It’s really good, really easy, and you should make it.  And quickly, because spring is almost here (exhibit A – asparagus at the farmer’s market last week). 

2. It makes a ton and reheats relatively well.

3. Between this and the sweet potato gnocchi with arugula I made a few months back, I’m now convinced that arugula and orange vegetables go together like ramma lamma lamma ka dinga de dinga a dong.

4.  Leave out the cheese and it’s great for the vegans.  Or, go the other direction and add bacon. Which, since I’m not a vegan, would be the way I’d go. 

Penne with Butternut Squash, Walnuts, and Bitter Greens
Recipe by me

1 pound of penne
1 1/2-2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, and cut into a 1 inch dice
1/2 cup of walnuts, lightly toasted and chopped
A few large handfuls of greens.  I used arugula and radicchio, probably about 5 or 6 cups.
Olive oil, salt, and pepper
Grated parmesan to serve

Preheat oven to 425.  Toss the squash cubes with olive oil, salt, and pepper and toss in a roasting pan.  Roast for about 30 minutes, turning once or twice, until squash is soft and lightly carmelized around the edges.

Meanwhile, bring water to a boil and cook the pasta.  Return the pasta to the pot.  Slowly mix in the squash, along with any juices from the pan.  Add the greens in bunches, stirring until just wilted.  Add the toasted walnuts and stir to combine.

Serve with grated cheese.

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I recently attempted an olive oil polenta cake that was a major fail.  I don’t know if the recipe was bad, if I missed a step, or if it was supposed to taste dry and bland.  So, I won’t be making that again.  What I will be making again is the syrup I drizzled on top.  I wanted to eat this stuff with a spoon.  It’s sweet and thick, and the bay leaf adds an herbal note that rounds it out and makes it interesting.  Drizzle it on cakes, pancakes and waffles, ice cream, or anything you can think of.   I bet it would be fantastic over some goat cheese too. 

Bay Infused Blood Orange Syrup
Recipe by me

5 Blood oranges
1 large bay leaf or 2 small ones
1/2 cup of sugar
1/4 cup of honey

Segment the oranges, collecting as much of the juice as possible.  Squeeze out the membranes to gather up more juice.

Bring 1 cup of water to a boil and dissolve the sugar in it.  Add the honey, the orange segments and juice, and the bay leaf.  Bring to a boil and simmer for about 5 minutes.  Remove the bay leaf, and continue to simmer another 5-10 minutes, until it reaches desired consistency.  Drizzle over anything you like.  It will gel up a bit if it sits for too long, so to thin it out, just reheat with a couple drops of water.

Makes about 1 cup.

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The other night, I had big plans to make my Winter Pizza again.  While the dough was rising, I carmelized the shallots, prepped the squash, and grated the cheese.

Then I looked at the dough.

It was a hot mess.  It was hard as a rock and hadn’t really risen.  It seems there was a problem with the yeast.  I had no idea how to salvage it and I was starving.  So, I threw out the dough and did some quick thinking. 

Arborio rice in the pantry, vegetable stock in the freezer, and an open bottle of white wine in the fridge meant my new risotto recipe was born.

I made a butternut squash risotto last year.  This one is much more complex, so I recommend ignoring that one and opting for this.  While it wasn’t pizza, it was still pretty damn good.

Butternut Squash and Carmelized Shallot Risotto

2 tablespoons of olive oil
2-3 cups of  butternut squash, peeled and diced into 1/2-inch chunks
3-4 shallots, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon finely diced sage leaves
1 cup Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
4-5 cups of vegetable or chicken stock, or a mix of stock and water
a couple tablespoons of grated parmesan cheese and grated fontina cheese


Bring the stock to a simmer.

In a separate, heavy pot over medium high heat, add tablespoon of olive oil.  Add the shallots and saute for about 8 minutes or so, until they become golden brown and carmelized. 

Add the rest of the olive oil, and the diced butternut squash and the sage.  Start cooking the squash, and after 3 or 4 minutes, add the arborio rice.  Stir to coat the rice.

Add the wine, stirring and cook until almost all liquid has been absorbed, about 1 to 2 minutes.

Ladle about 1/2 cup of broth into the rice and stir, until almost all liquid is absorbed.  In 1-2 ladle increments, slowly add the rest of the broth, stirring and letting it absorb until adding more.  This should take about 20-30 minutes.

Stir in the fontina and the parmesan.  Salt and pepper to taste.

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Last week, it was freakishly cold, wet, and rainy here for a few days.  These ingredients made it all better. 

I piled them on pizza dough topped with fontal cheese and the result was amazing.   Fontal cheese is a type of Fontina, only nuttier and earthier.  If you can’t find it, I’d go for regular Fontina if you prefer mild cheeses or Taleggio, if you like more pungent cheeses.

Winter Pizza

Butternut squash – peeled and diced into 3/4 inch chunks, about 2 1/2 cups
4 ounces of an earthy, nutty cheese like Fontal or Taleggio, grated (if it is soft, it helps to stick it in the freezer for 10 minutes before grating)
1 cup of walnuts, roughly chopped
15 or so sage leaves, more if you’d like
3-4 shallots
Pizza dough (I use this one)
Olive oil, salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 425. 

In a large skillet over medium high heat, add tablespoon of olive oil.  Add the shallots and saute for about 8 minutes or so, until they become golden brown and carmelized.  Remove and set aside.

In the same skillet, heat another tablespoon of oil.  Add the butternut squash, and saute that for 5 minutes or so.  This is really just to make sure it gets fully cooked when it goes into the oven.  You don’t need to make it soft, just brown it for a few minutes to start the cooking process.

Roll out the pizza dough and brush the carmelized shallots over the base, making sure they are evenly distributed.  It won’t be totally covered, just more of a flavoring.  (If you want it totally covered, I would double the shallots.) 

Sprinkle the cheese on top, followed by the squash and walnuts.

Bake in the oven for 8 minutes.  While it is baking, toss the sage leaves in a drop of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.  You just want to coat them so they don’t burn in the oven and get a little fried.  Take the pizza out and sprinkle the sage over the pizza.  Put the pizza back in the oven for another 8 minutes or so, until the cheese starts to brown.  Then serve.

The end result really was incredible.  I want to make this all the time.  The walnuts get really sweet in the oven and complement the cheese really well.  The salty sage leaves are a nice bite too.  With a glass of pinot noir, this really did make life a lot better.  I would definitely consider cutting this up in small pieces and serving this as a party appetizer.  So good.

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One of the biggest perks about moving to the west coast is the good Mexican food.  I actually don’t understand how Chipotle is even profitable in this state, when the local taco trucks and burrito joints are so vastly superior. 

As part of my evolution into a taco snob, I have sworn off those yellow boxed taco kits, with the stale corn shells, baggies of sauce, and that weird spice packet.  My taco kit looks like this:

On the left, handmade soft corn tortillas, from Primavera, in Sonoma.  On the right, chorizo from Fatted Calf, located in Napa and made from happy, organic, local pigs.   Both were purchased at the Berkeley Farmers’ Market.

So my local meal as part of the Dark Days challenge this week was tacos.  Because the chorizo was quite pricey, I mixed it with some sweet potatoes to stretch it a little farther.  The sweetness of the potatoes complimented the spice and the starchiness worked really well with the fat.  On the side, a quick citrus and radish salad made from local Persian limes, satsuma mandarins, radishes, and pomegranate seeds.  I mixed them together and sprinkled them all with a bit of salt and a bit of sugar.

Chorizo and Sweet Potato Tacos

8 oz Mexican chorizo (the raw, loose kind, not the Spanish, smoked and cured kind)
2-3 sweet potatoes, diced into small chunks, about 3/4 of an inch
Peppers – I used a couple small sweet chiles, almost like baby gypsy peppers, finely minced.  If you want something spicier, toss in a jalapeno or serrano.
2-3 cloves of garlic, finely minced
Half of a medium onion, chopped
A bunch of cilantro
A lemon or a lime
Corn tortillas (recipe should make about 8-10 tacos)

Combine the onion and cilantro with a generous sprinkling of salt.   I used a mortar and pestle to pound them together.  If you don’t have one, you can whiz them in the food processor, or just chop them together, and maybe press on them a bit with a fork to release some of their oils.  Add to a bowl and hit off with a squirt of lime juice and a bit of zest.  Set aside.

In a large skillet, warm a bit of olive oil – a tablespoon or so.  Add the sweet potatoes and saute for 5-10 minutes until soft.  If they start to stick, don’t add more oil.  Just add a quarter cup of water or so, as needed.  Basically, you want them cooked before you add the chorizo, since that will cook quickly.  But you don’t want to use a lot of oil because the chorizo is fatty.

Once the sweet potatoes are cooked, add the garlic and peppers.  Saute for about a minute.

Add the chorizo to the sweet potato mixture, breaking it up with your wooden spoon.  Cook for a few minutes until the chorizo is thoroughly cooked.  If it starts to dry out or stick, add a splash or two of water.

To serve, warm up the tortillas and fill with a couple spoonfuls of the chorizo-potato mixture.   Top with the onion-cilantro mixture and serve.

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As I said last week, I’m participating in the Dark Days challenge, committing to cook and blog about one meal each week that is sourced locally through March 31. 

Since I really enjoyed the Moroccan spiced stuffed acorn squash I made a month ago, I wanted to try doing a different take on stuffed squash.  This time, I went with delicata squash, which I have never had before.  It was really good.  It wasn’t as sweet as butternut or acorn, but it didn’t have that vegetal taste that I don’t like about other squashes, like spagetti squash.   The flesh was creamy and rich, plus the shape made it perfect for stuffing with goodies.  I made up a stuffing based on what local ingredients I had on hand, and it all turned out great.  On the side, I served broccoli rabe, which I just sauted in olive oil, garlic, and a minced mildly spicy chile.

Everything in this dish is local except for the olive oil, and the flour used to make the bread.  After some conversations with others doing the challenge, many agreed that that was OK, so long as the bread came from a local bakery, particularly one that met the other criteria of the challenge (sustainable, organic, and ethical).  Thus, my breadcrumbs came from bread I had purchased at the fabulous, local Acme bakery.  The cheese was Laura Chenel goat cheese in Sonoma, which is also where the egg came from.  All the produce came from various vendors at my local farmer’s market. 

Stuffed Delicata Squash with Leeks and Goat Cheese

2 delicata squash, sliced lengthwise
2 cups bread crumbs
2 leeks, thinly sliced
1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 egg
olive oil
a couple tablespoons of chopped parsley
crumbled goat cheese (as much or as little as you’d like)

Preheat the oven to 400.  Lay the squash flesh side down in a baking dish and roast for 30 minutes or until soft.  Remove from the oven and set aside.

Heat a frying pan on medium high heat and add a tablespoon or two of olive oil.  Add the leeks and saute for 5 minutes or so, until they become soft.  Add the garlic and cook for another minute.  Remove from heat and pour into a heat proof bowl.

Add the bread crumbs to the leek mixture.  Add the egg, and stir to combine.  If it still looks a little dry, add another splash of olive oil.  Add salt and pepper to season, some chopped parsely, and the crumbled goat cheese.  Mix well so everything is evenly distributed.

Lightly salt and pepper the insides of the squash and stuff them with the mixture.  Put them back in the baking dish and bake at 400 for 15-20 minutes, until the cheese starts to brown and the stuffing is cooked.

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I adore cranberry sauce.  It is so simple to make that I don’t understand why people eat that weird stuff in a can.  1 bag of cranberries, 1 cup of water, 1 cup of sugar, boil, and done.  You can add spices and fruit to that, substitute juice or wine for the water, and reduce or increase any ingredient to get to the desired consistency.  And it’s pretty much fool-proof.

Last year, I made a pomegranate cranberry sauce.  This year, I decided to use satsuma mandarins.  They really are a perfect citrus for cranberry sauce – very few seeds, and a rind that’s not too thick, but has a lot of flavor.  If you can’t find satsumas, look for another tangerine with a medium-thick rind.  Something thicker than a clementine, but thinner than a regular orange.  I’d err on the side of thick and just add a bit more sugar, rather than use a clementine or something with a papery thin rind.  Whatever you use, expect to need more than the standard 1 cup of sugar – the rinds are bitter and you need a little more to cut through that.

Cranberry Sauce with Satsuma Mandarins

1 12 ounce bag of cranberries
2 satsuma mandarins
1 1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup water

Carefully cut up the satsumas.  You want some strips of rind with the fruit still attached, but try to remove any big hunks of white membrane.  I basically cut it in quarters, then ran my knife down the tip of each quarter to pull off what I could.  Then sliced each quater into little 1/4 inch strips.  It doesn’t have to be perfect and if you can’t get all the stringy white bits out, don’t worry too much. 

Heat a heavy skillet on medium.  Add the satsumas and 1/2 cup of sugar.  Simmer for about 10 minutes, until the satsumas have released their juices and the rinds are soft. 

Add the cranberries and the sugar and stir to coat.

Add the water and give it a gentle stir.  Simmer for a few minutes, giving it a gentle stir every now and then.  You want to stir it gently to keep the cranberries as whole as possible.  After about 3 or 4 minutes, taste test a berry.  If it’s too bitter, add a bit more sugar, and stir for another minute or so.  Otherwise remove from the heat and let it cool.

It should keep in the refrigerator for up to a week if you don’t eat it all before then.  To serve, let it come to room temp and enjoy.

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