Sunday, October 30, 2011

Roasted brussels sprouts with capers, walnuts, and anchovies

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Friends, I was so glad to see all the brassica love on my last post! As I have said before, I get a little depressed when summer produce is gone, but you all have reminded me that fall is pretty great too. And it's a good thing you all seem to love brussels sprouts, because I can't get enough of them right now and I'm posting about them again today. This is another recipe from Food & Wine - roasted brussels sprouts are tossed with a super flavorful dressing that includes anchovies, capers, vinegar, mustard, honey, and more. It's a great mix of sweet, savory, sour, and acidic, and the toasted walnuts add a nice textural contrast to the sprouts. Definitely not a boring side dish! I think this would be a great addition to a Thanksgiving table if your guests are ready for something a little different.

What is your favorite Thanksgiving side dish?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Pasta with cauliflower and brussels sprouts

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I am loving the latest issue of Food + Wine! It got me really excited about brassicas, of all things. In case you don't know, brassicas are a group of vegetables that include cauliflower, cabbage, and brussels sprouts, among others - they are in full force at the markets right now. These are really not the most exciting vegetables and I usually struggle to find anything even halfway interesting to make with them. But after reading through Food + Wine, I actually went to the market last weekend hoping to get cabbage, and worrying that the brussels sprouts would be gone before I got there. (Side note: I actually had two anxiety dreams last week that involved not being able to get to the farmers' market. How weird am I?...Don't answer that). Anyway, this pasta dish was the first one I made out of all the recipes I tagged in the magazine. It's got nicely browned cauliflower and brussels sprouts, with tons of flavor from garlic, anchovies, rosemary, thyme, and cheese, all topped off with toasted bread crumbs. It was awesome! Hope you're ready for more brassica recipes in the next week or two...

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What vegetables do you struggle the most to get excited about? 

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Sunday, October 23, 2011

Apple pie

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Yesterday I made apple pie for the first time. I don't know why I never made it before. I've made other pies, and I'm comfortable working with pastry dough - in fact, I really enjoy it. And I have always loved apple pie...I just never tried making it. Anyway, I put apple pie on the list of things that I wanted to make for my second year of blogging, and I knew if I didn't do it this fall I'd miss the chance to use awesome local apples. So when we got invited to a birthday potluck, I decided it was the perfect time to finally make an apple pie. I decided to use the recipe from The New Best Recipe from Cook's Illustrated - really can't go wrong with that book! The pie came out very pretty, with a gorgeous golden brown crust. The crust was flaky and tender and buttery, and the filling was delicious. The apples had good texture and the amount of spices was just enough to enhance the flavor of the filling without covering up the character of the apples. (Sorry I don't have a picture of a slice of pie for you - the pie went pretty fast at the party and we didn't want to interrupt things by taking pictures). I'm really glad I finally made this! I just wish we had some leftovers...

Have you ever made apple pie?

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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Macaroni and cheese with butternut squash

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Wow, it has been a very busy few days! Can't complain though - I went to a really amazing conference and got to play with my baby nephew, among other things. The only downside was that I was away from my kitchen for the weekend and haven't had much of a chance to cook in the last week. Needless to say, I was pretty happy to get back into the kitchen today! I had a butternut squash sitting on the counter that was starting to look a bit suspect, so I decided to use it to make this mac 'n cheese recipe that I tagged in Cooking Light recently. I was intrigued by the healthier take on mac 'n cheese that uses butternut squash to add color, flavor, and creaminess. 

I'm so glad I tried this recipe! This twist on mac 'n cheese is really great - the sauce is creamy and cheesy but not too heavy and makes for a very satisfying meal. I'm definitely keeping this one in mind if my future children are picky eaters and I need to sneak vegetables into dinner ;).

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Macaroni and cheese with butternut squash
Adapted from Cooking Light
Serves 8

I made a few changes to the recipe - I increased the amount of squash a bit and added more broth to keep the sauce from getting too thick. I used whole wheat pasta to increase the nutritional value a bit, and also decided to use whole milk instead of skim. We already had whole milk in the fridge and it adds less than 15 calories per serving, so why not?

4 cups peeled cubed butternut squash
2 cups fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
1 1/2 cups whole milk
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tbs fat-free Greek yogurt
5 oz. Gruyere cheese, shredded
4 oz. pecorino Romano cheese, shredded
1 oz. Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, finely grated, divided
1 pound uncooked pasta (use a ridged pasta shape like shells or cavatappi, whole wheat if you want)
1 tsp olive oil
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
Cooking spray
2 tbs chopped parsley

Preheat oven to 375 deg F.

Combine squash, broth, milk, and garlic in a medium pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce to a simmer and cook until squash is tender, about 20 minutes, then remove from heat. Add salt, pepper, and Greek yogurt and puree mixture using an immersion blender until smooth (or use a regular blender). Stir in Gruyere, pecorino Romano, and 2 tbs Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

While squash is cooking, bring a pot of water to a boil and cook pasta, then drain. Stir together pasta and sauce and spread mixture into a 9 x 13-inch baking dish.

In a small skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add bread crumbs and cook, stirring frequently, until crumbs are golden brown, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in remaining Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Sprinkle bread crumbs over pasta and lightly top with cooking spray.

Bake pasta in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, until sauce is bubbly. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Stir fried brussels sprouts and tofu

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Brussels sprouts are a polarizing vegetable - some people love them, some people hate them. I love them, but tend to get stuck in a rut of roasting them and serving them as a side dish. So when I bought a bag of brussels sprouts last week, I excitedly turned to Plenty, figuring that Ottolenghi would have some genius recipe idea that would reinvent this veggie for me. But sadly, there was nothing in the index, and I resigned myself to the idea that maybe this cookbook isn't perfect after all.Then a few days later, I was looking up another vegetable, and spotted this recipe, apparently indexed incorrectly. So yeah, there's a flaw in my beloved cookbook, but luckily it has to do with the indexing and not with the recipes. And indeed, Ottolenghi has given me a new perspective on brussels sprouts - stir frying! Why hadn't I thought of that before? This recipe combines brussels sprouts, mushrooms, and tofu with a sweet and spicy sauce. You still get the delicious browned bits that come with roasting, but this stir fry turns brussels sprouts into a quick and flavorful main course.

Are you a fan of brussels sprouts?

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Delicata squash stuffed with wild rice

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This freakishly warm weather is awesome, but confusing. I mean, yesterday I was wearing my winter peacoat, and today I wore a tank top. It feels like summer, but the leaves are turning colors. And I'm posting about winter squash when it feels like we should be eating corn and tomatoes. But I guess even if the temperature says otherwise, it's still fall.

This is the first winter squash dish I've cooked this season. I'd been seeing recipes for stuffed squash pop up on some other blogs, and was inspired to create my own take on it. I love the combination of wild rice and mushrooms in a vegetable stuffing, so I went with that and flavored it with the "Scarborough Fair" herbs: parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme. This recipe takes a while to make, as both the squash and rice take some time to get fully tender, but it is worth it. It's flavorful and satisfying, with a nice mix of textures. I think it would make a great vegetarian addition to a Thanksgiving table.

How have you been enjoying these unexpectedly warm days?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Pear galette with dried fruit and nuts

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Remember when I made this quiche? Well, I ended up with quite a bit of leftover dough, and it seemed like a shame to throw it away, considering all the butter effort and more butter time that went into it - Julia Child's pastry dough should not go wasted! So I rolled the scraps into a ball and stuck it in the freezer, figuring I could use it for something else later. A few days later, I found myself with an excess of fresh pears, and decided to use the pastry dough to make some small pear tarts. I didn't want any fussy shaping or blind baking, so I decided to go with rustic free-form galettes, which don't require a special pan and could easily be made into a customized size based on how much dough I had. I also decided to add honey, dried fruit (cranberries and raisins), and nuts to the pear filling, inspired by a baked apple recipe from Around My French Table that I recently tried. I wasn't thrilled with how the baked apples came out, but I loved the combination of flavors and textures that came from the dried fruit and nuts, and thought they would add a nice dimension to the galettes.

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These galettes came out so, so good! The pastry was flaky and crisp, even on the bottom of the galettes, and the fruit/nut filling had a fantastic blend of flavors and textures. I especially liked the way the tart dried cranberries worked with the sweet fruit and honey. I am never going to throw out pastry dough scraps again - in fact, I might make dough just to keep in the freezer for impromptu desserts like these!

How have you been using fall fruit?

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Sunday, October 2, 2011

Cottage pie

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I don't usually post meat-based dishes on this blog, but now that fall has arrived and temperatures are starting to drop, a hearty, comforting meat-and-potatoes recipe seemed appropriate. Our freezer is stuffed with meat from our CSA and I've really enjoyed trying out new recipes for the various cuts of meat that we receive. We recently got some lamb sausage, which I decided to use for this cottage pie, adapted from Dorie Greenspan's Hachis Parmentier recipe in Around My French Table. While the original recipe uses beef stew meat and pork sausage, I used ground beef and lamb sausage. This is comfort food at its best - warm, tasty, and filling. I especially enjoyed the thin layer of cheese that topped the mashed potatoes, which formed a nice crust as the pie baked. Cooking and eating this cottage pie today has made me finally accept that fall is here for real, and I'm ready to enjoy the beauty of the season and the foods that go with it!

What is your favorite comfort food for when the weather turns cold?

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