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Posts Tagged ‘Winter’

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

Ingredients
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

Directions

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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Happy new year!  I’ve been travelling around visiting family for the holidays and very behind on my blog posting.  Hopefully, you all were busy with your own holiday plans to miss me too much. 

I made this soup right before Christmas, and since it used all local ingredients, it’s my submission for the Week 7 Dark Days Challenge (sadly, I missed week 6 because of travels).  I got the idea from fellow Dark Days Challenge participant, Married With Dinner, who made Emeril Lagasse’s Potato Leek Soup a few weeks back.  I’ve never made potato leek soup before, but this version looked so good that I had to try it out.  It was absolutely delicious.  Next time, I am going to make a double batch and freeze half of it.

Everything I used here except the salt and pepper are local.  All the produce comes from the farmer’s market.   For stock, I used homemade vegetable broth that I had made and froze a while ago, using an onion, carrot, leek trimmings, herbs, and whatever other things happened to be in my produce drawer that afternoon.  The bacon comes from Fatted Calf, the dairy from Clover Stornetta Farms in Sonoma, and the wine is a sauvignon blanc that my husband picked up at St. Supery in Napa on a recent trip. 

Potato Leek Soup
Recipe by Emeril Lagasse

Ingredients
1 large or 2 small leeks, about 1 pound, cleaned and thinly sliced
2 bay leaves
20 black peppercorns (I just ground up a bunch)
4 sprigs fresh thyme
2 tablespoons butter
2 strips bacon, chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine
5 cups chicken stock  (I used vegetable)
1 to 1 1/4 pounds russet potatoes, diced  (I used Yukon gold)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon white pepper (I skipped)
1/2 to 3/4 cup creme fraiche or heavy cream (I used half and half)
2 tablespoons snipped chives

Directions

The original recipe calls for creating a bouquet garni using some leek trimmings to make a packet that you fill with the peppercorns, bay leaves, and thyme.  That is way too much work for a Tuesday night, so I just skipped that step.  I just tossed the bay leaves and thyme right into the broth and fished them out before blending, then just ground in lots of fresh pepper.  So much easier for essentially the same thing.   Just be sure to count the bay leaves as you put them in and take them out because you don’t want to grind one of those up.

In a large pot over medium heat, melt the butter and add the chopped up pieces of bacon.  Stir occassionally, cooking for about 5 to 6 minutes, until the bacon is very soft and has rendered most of its fat. 

Add the leeks and stir gently until wilted, about 5 minutes.  Add the wine and bring to a boil.  Add the bay and thyme, or the bouquet garni if you are using, the stock, potatoes, and salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender and falling apart.

Remove the bouquet garni or fish out the herbs.  Working in batches, puree the soup, using a a food processor, blender, or immersion blender.   Stir in the cream or creme fraiche and adjust the seasoning, if necessary.  Sprinkle some of the snipped chives on top to serve. 

Particularly delicious on a cold night with a glass of the wine you poured in (can’t let it go bad!) and a hunk of bread from a local bakery.

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I have been wanting to try farro for a while now. I see it occassionally in magazines or on cooking shows, so last week, I finally just decided to buy a bag and see what all the fuss is about.
Oh my god, it is so good. It tastes like a cross between bulgar and arborio (risotto) rice. It’s nutty, and both chewy and creamy tasting. It’s really good. It’s expensive, but a little goes a long way. It’s also incredibly good for you, with lots of fiber and protein. Definitely check it out.
I stumbled upon this recipe by googling “farro recipes” and going for the first thing that involved items from my Friday CSA delivery. I made a couple changes because I wanted to serve the dish warm, though I think it would work cold too.
This recipe is pretty flexible, so feel free to adjust it based on what you’ve got at home. It makes a ton. I served it as a side dish for dinner, but reheated leftovers the next day for lunch without anything thing else. I’ve still got some leftover, so next time, I’ll probably just halve the recipe.
Finally, the original recipe notes that it is great with a Neanderthal diet, so serve this to your cavemen friends.
Warm Winter Greens and Farro Salad
Ingredients
6 Handfuls mixed salad greens, washed and dried (I used spinach and arugula)
2 Cups farro, rinsed and drained
5 Cups water (or stock)
2 Teaspoons fine-grain sea salt
1 orange, zest and juice
1 shallot, chopped
1/3 Cup Parmesan, freshly shredded
1 Tablespoon white wine vinegar
1/2 Cup good quality olive oil
2 Pinchs salt
1/2 Cup Spanish almonds, or toasted regular almonds (I used walnuts)
1/2 cup goat cheese, crumbled
Directions
Combine the farro, salt, and water in a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the farro is tender, 45 minutes to an hour, or about half the time if you are using semi-pearled farro. Taste often as it is cooking, you want it to be toothsome and retain structure.
While the grains are simmering make the dressing. Whisk together the orange juice, orange zest, shallot, Parmesan cheese, white wine vinegar, and olive oil. Salt to taste and set aside.
Just before serving, in a large bowl, toss the salad greens with a bit of the dressing. Add the goat cheese and nuts.
Remove the farro from the stove and drain any excess water. While it is still very warm, add it to the greens mixture, and add another splash of the dressing. Toss again, and add more dressing or salt if needed.
That’s it. The final dish was delicious. If you wanted to serve it cold, I’d recommend holding off on adding the goat cheese until after everything was mixed up. I just put it in before adding the warm farro because I knew it would melt anyway.
I wish I had a better picture of this, but this is what I’ve got. It’s really, really good. I may become a farro addict now.

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I first found this recipe on the food blog Smitten Kitten and was so intrigued, I had to try it. It uses the entire clementine – rind, pith, and flesh – and it uses no butter or flour. So, you can make this for your gluten-free friends.

The original recipe is by Nigella Lawson of the Food Network, and is supposed to be a cake, but I thought cupcakes would be fun for my book club meeting. The comments on the Food Network site were a little all over the map on this one, but I managed to get some good advice from them.

First, keep in mind that this is not a particularly sweet cake. The rind makes it somewhat bitter, so it doesn’t taste like a typical dessert. A five year old is not going to want this for their birthday. Second, the fruit you choose is very important. If the rind or pith are too thick, it will be too bitter. Clementines are really the ideal fruit to use, since the rind is so thin. Nigella suggests doing this with regular oranges and lemons, but increasing the sugar. You can always taste the batter before you pop it in to the oven to add a little more sugar if you need to. Finally, while the original recipe does not call for vanilla, I think it adds a nice flavor to the cupcakes, and I’d recommend using it.

I also made a little orange-vanilla glaze for them, though the recipe says you can eat the cake without it (and would be delicious plain, particuarly as a nice cake for a brunch).

This recipe makes 1 8 inch cake or about 20 cupcakes.

Ingredients

For the cupcakes
4 to 5 clementines (about 1 pound total weight)
6 eggs
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2 1/3 cups ground almonds
1 heaping teaspoon baking powder
1/2 vanilla bean or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)

For the glaze
One orange, zested and juiced
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 pod from the vanilla bean (optional)

Directions

Put the clementines in a pot with cold water to cover, bring to the boil, and cook for 2 hours. I had to add extra water at about the one hour mark, since a lot had boiled off.

If you are using a vanilla bean, scrape the seeds from the pod, and pulse in a food processor with the sugar.


If you are planning on making a glaze, put the pod in with a cup of confectioner’s sugar, and let sit until you are ready to make the glaze.

Drain and cool the clementines. Cut each clementine in half and remove the seeds.


Puree the skins, pith, and fruit in the processor until very smooth.


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Line the cupcake tins with cupcake wrappers, or butter and line an 8-inch springform pan with parchment paper.

Mix the sugar, ground almonds, and baking powder.

Beat the eggs. Stir in the pureed clementines. If you are using vanilla extract instead of a bean, I would add it here.

Slowly pour the dry mix into the wet mix and stir well.


Pour the mixture into the prepared pan or tin. I baked the cupcakes for 20 minutes. If you are making a cake, Nigella says to bake for 1 hour, covering with foil after about 40 minutes.

Let the finished cupcakes or cake cool on a rack. The cakes will keep for at least several days, and in fact, the flavor will improve over a day or two, so feel free to make in advance.


To make the glaze

Take the powdered sugar and slowly add in the orange juice, a teaspoon or so at a time. Add a pinch or two of finely zested peel. Whisk until incorporated, and add more juice as necessary. You want the glaze to be thick, about the consistency of glue. If you put a drop on the cake and it runs too much, just add a bit more sugar to thicken it up and try again.

Do not add the glaze until you are ready to eat the cake. After it’s been on the cake for 12 hours or so, it will start to absorb into the cake. While it’ll still taste good, it will look weird.

To frost, just take a small spoonful and drop it on each cupcake. It should spread out a little without too much running or dripping.

And that’s it.

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This delicious little cake from Gourmet, via Epicurious, has been all the rage on the food blogs lately, it seems. It sounded so good, and I thought it would be a wonderful Christmas morning breakfast. Unfortunately, as I discovered earlier this fall, cranberries are in short supply out on the west coast. After checking at several stores, all of whom said that they stop carrying cranberries in November, I found a small, overpriced pint of them at the fabulous Ferry Building on Christmas Eve. They were $6, but I didn’t care. Cranberry vanilla coffee cake would be mine.

The recipe is easy and absolutely delicious. It’s not too sweet and it smells heavenly.
Ingredients
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 cups fresh or thawed frozen cranberries (6 ounces)
2 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, divided
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened, divided
2 large eggs
1/2 cup whole milk
Note: I actually used an addition splash of milk…probably about 2 tablespoons worth. The batter seemed incredibly sticky and it just wasnt’ absorbing all the dry mixture. You may find you need to do the same. Also, while the recipe calls for a 9 by 2 cake pan, I think I will do this in a spring form pan the next time I make it. It would probably make the cake easier to remove.
Directions
Preheat oven to 375°F with rack in middle. Generously butter a 9- by 2-inch round cake pan. Line bottom with a round of parchment paper and butter parchment.
Scrape seeds from vanilla bean into a food processor with tip of a paring knife (reserve pod for another use if desired). Add sugar and pulse to combine. Transfer to a bowl.
Pulse cranberries with 1/2 cup vanilla sugar in processor until finely chopped (do not purée).
Whisk together 2 cups flour, baking powder, and salt.
Beat together 1 stick butter and 1 cup vanilla sugar in a bowl with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape down side and bottom of bowl. Reduce speed to low and mix in flour mixture and milk alternately in batches, beginning and ending with flour, until just combined.
Spread half of batter in pan, then spoon cranberries over it, leaving a 1/2-inch border around edge. Top with remaining batter and smooth top. This was the trickiest part because the batter is thick and hard to spread. I just dollopped it on in small spoonfuls all over the cranberries and gently spread the dollops together with a spoon.
Blend remaining 1/4 cup vanilla sugar with remaining tablespoon each of butter and flour using your fingertips. Crumble over top of cake.
Bake until a wooden pick inserted into cake (not into cranberry filling) comes out clean and side begins to pull away from pan, 45 to 50 minutes. Cool in pan 30 minutes, then remove from pan and cool completely, crumb side up.

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Cranberry Sorbet

This sorbet is wonderful, though it didn’t taste how I expected. The recipe on Epicurious said it was “Cranberry and Orange Thyme Sorbet.” You know how obsessed I am with putting herbs in my desserts, so I was really excited to try this. Unfortunately, it has no thyme flavor whatsoever. I used lemon thyme, which may have been the problem. I’ll definitely make it again, but next time I’ll either omit the thyme completely, or use a woodier, stronger tasting thyme. It still tastes delicious and would probably be a nice alternative to heavy Thanksgiving desserts.

Ingredients

12 ounces fresh cranberries
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups water
Thinly sliced zest of 2 oranges (removed with a zester)
8 to 12 3-inch springs fresh thyme, such as orange balsam, lemon, or English thyme(1/2 ounce)
1 1/2 cups freshly squeezed orange juice

I wasn’t paying attention to the recipe closely enough and didn’t have thin orange zests, but rather just removed the peel in a large chunk. So, my sorbet wasn’t really orange-y tasting, but I liked it that way anyway. And, as I said above, I recommend using English thyme if you want the ice cream to pick up the herbal flavor, since the lemon thyme just isn’t flavorful enough.

Directions

Bring the cranberries, sugar, water, and orange zest to a boil in a medium (3-quart) saucepan.
Partially cover the pan and boil until most of the cranberries pop, about 5 minutes. Stir in the thyme sprigs, remove from the heat, cover tightly, and steep for 30 minutes.
Pour the fruit mixture into a fine sieve set on top of a deep bowl. Stir and press down on the fruit with the back of a large spoon to extract as much juice and pulp as you can, leaving the skins and thyme behind in the sieve.
Refrigerate the strained mixture until thoroughly chilled. I actually just put the bowl in the fridge with the sieve right over it to let it chill, then pressed again. A fair amount more liquid came out after just letting it sit for a while.
Stir in the orange juice and then pour into an ice cream maker for 30-40 minutes. Freeze for a few more hours and there you have it. Cranberry (and orange and thyme) sorbet.

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I made this last week for my elections party, and named it “October Surprise.” While the official recipe name is a salsa, it really is more like a bean dip, and it was so delicious that I would probably just eat a bowl of it, like chili.

The recipe comes from the Washington Post. (No, I won’t give up east coast newspapers ever. The San Francisco Chronicle sucks.)

Ingredients
1 1/2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch chunks (may substitute 3/4 pound prepped butternut squash cubes)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 medium onion, cut into small dice
1 medium red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 medium cloves garlic, minced
1 small jalapeño pepper, stemmed, seeded and minced
14 to 15 ounces canned, diced no-sodium tomatoes, drained
15 to 19 ounces canned pinto beans, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro leaves
1/4 cup shelled pumpkin seeds, toasted

The recipe also called for a zucchini, diced up, but that sounded disgusting to me, so I left it out. Who wants slimy, watered down zucchini in their salsa/chili? Not me.

The recipe is a labor intensive one, as it involves a lot of chopping, so I highly recommend buying the pre-diced squash, as it will really cut down on prep time. You’ll still have to chop it even smaller, but it does save time.

Directions
Position a rack in the middle of the oven; preheat to 400 degrees. Lightly grease a rimmed baking sheet with nonstick cooking oil spray.
Spread the squash cubes in a single layer on the baking sheet. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the oil and toss to coat evenly. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Roast for about 25 minutes, until slightly browned and fork-tender.
When the squash has about 15 minutes of roasting time to go, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion, bell pepper, garlic and jalapeño; cook for about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion is golden.

Add the tomatoes, beans, and cilantro (plus the zucchini if you are using it); cook for about 5 minutes, stirring once or twice.

Add the roasted squash and stir to incorporate; cook for 5 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.

At this point, the salsa can be transferred to a slow cooker to keep warm, or it can be cooled completely, covered and refrigerated for up to 3 days. Just before serving, sprinkle the pumpkin seeds on top of the salsa.

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