Monday, December 27, 2010

Butternut Squash Recipes

Recipe 1: Warm Butternut Squash Salad

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Recipe 2: Butternut Squash Risotto

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Autumn and Winter are perfect times of year for squash recipes.  They’re in season and easy to get at the market – and also just have a nice cozy home feeling to them.

I recently saw a recipe for warm butternut squash salad.  It called for roasted squash over arugula topped with a warm apple vinaigrette. I didn’t have arugula or apple cider, so I decided to make my own version of a warm butternut squash salad.

Ingredients:

  • 1 butternut squash
  • olive oil
  • maple syrup
  • figs
  • honey
  • sugar
  • cherry tomatoes
  • sesame balsamic vinaigrette (optional)

Directions:

  •   Peel and chop butternut squash into bite size pieces.
  • On sheet pan, toss squash with 1-2 tablespoons olive oil, 1-2 tablespoons maple syrup, salt and pepper. Roast in oven @ 425 degree for 15 mins. Turning 1/2 way thru roasting.
  • While squash is roasting, cut figs in half (remove top) and sauté with 1/2 teaspoon sugar, 1 teaspoon honey, and a splash of water until tender.
  • Mix cherry tomatoes, figs, and squash together.  Plate. 
  • Optional topping (I would recommend!) – heat sesame balsamic vinaigrette and drizzle over fruit and veggies.

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For the butternut squash risotto, I went straight from the book (The America’s Test Kitchen book!).

Full Recipe Here

It was SO good!  The really unique part of this recipe for me was the homemade butternut squash broth that was added to cook the rice.

It did take me a little longer than the recipe suggested to cook the rice thoroughly, but other than that it was SPOT ON!  Rich but somehow still delicate in taste.  The risotto flavor was beautifully enriched with the butternut squash, and still very authentic to original risotto texture and flavor.

I also love the saltiness that the parmesan added and the hint of the sage and nutmeg. This will definitely be a new regular in my kitchen.

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Monday, December 20, 2010

Ploughman’s Lunch

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Per Wikipedia…

“A ploughman's lunch (often just called a ploughman's) is a cold snack or meal originating in the United Kingdom, composed of cheese (usually a thick piece of Cheddar, Stilton or other local cheese); pickle (called "relish" outside the UK), bread (especially crusty bread, which may be a chunk from a loaf or a bap); and butter. It is often accompanied by a green salad; other common additions are half an apple, celery, pickled onions, pâté, crisps, diced hard boiled egg or beetroot.

The origins of the ploughman's lunch remain unclear. It appears to date back at least to the 1960s, when the Milk Marketing Board promoted the meal nationally to boost sales of cheese, and some investigations have concluded that the meal is nothing more than marketing. However, other sources suggest that a comparable meal has been called a ploughman's lunch since at least 1957, and the meal itself may have been popular as far back as before World War II under the related name ploughboy's lunch.”

I must have been a ploughman in a past life because 75% of the time I’d rather not have a heavy meal, but prefer a little of this, a little of that – and most often those little bits consist of an assortment of cheeses, breads, veggies, and fruits with a possible few deli meat slices and pickles or olives on the side.  I never knew this meal style was anything special until I watched “Barefoot Contessa’s” special “Barefoot in London” and learned of the ploughman’s lunch.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Eat me! Fabulous Stuffed Cupcakes

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I watched Cooking Channel’s Unique Eats: Cupcakes and got totally enamored with the delight of baking, stuffing, and devouring everything cupcake.

My first attempt was the “twinkie cupcake”.  I made a homemade yellow cake batter (box would also work – just add some vanilla and sour cream to the batter to make it special), baked up the cupcakes as normal and then piped in a mixture of marshmallow cream and cream cheese into the center before topping with vanilla buttercream frosting and caramel drizzle. 

Next on my list - Butternut Squash Cupcake Stuffed with Maple Cream Cheese

I’m also considering making some for Christmas and I’m toying with ideas of red velvet w/ chocolate gauche filling and vanilla frosting topped with coconut.  Too much?  Or just enough…?!?!

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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Starbucks Indulgence

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Has anyone tried the Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate @ Starbucks?  Seriously the most fabulous thing ever.  There are a few requirements however - you’ve got to get it either whole milk or 2%, and you’ve got to drink it with the lid off (so you can actually taste the caramel, salt, and whip cream mixture.  It’s heavenly… and totally worth the indulgent 450 calories.  Go ahead – indulge!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Salty Caramel Banana Pie

If you’re a fan of bananas (and even if you’re not!), you seriously need to try Ann Thornon’s Banana Pudding Pie.  It takes a bit of up front work, but the homemade elements are to die for.  Definitely worth the work.  I’d suggest making the night before you plan to serve so you have time for the rest of your dinner prep the day of.

Reminders: start w/ good ingredients (ripe bananas, good quality vanilla bean, real extracts, etc…)

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Take you’re time.  The pudding and caramel take lots of patience.  Remember – it will be worth it!!

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Give it love and make it look pretty… then dig in and ENJOY  Smile

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Ingredients

  • 1 box vanilla wafers (65 cookies)
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 3 large ripe bananas
  • 1 cup salted caramel, plus more for garnish (1 cup caramel, plus 1 teaspoon fleur de sel) – recipe follows
  • Vanilla Pudding - recipe follows
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Put 45 vanilla wafers in a food processor and pulse until the cookies are finely crushed. Reserve 1/2 cup to top the pie. Stir together crushed vanilla wafers and butter in a small bowl until blended. Firmly press it into the bottom, up the sides, and onto the lip of a greased 9-inch pie plate. Bake until lightly browned, about 10 to 12 minutes. Remove to a wire rack, and let cool until completely cool, about 30 minutes.

Coat the banana slices with salted caramel. Arrange some banana slices evenly over the bottom of the crust. Spread half of the hot, prepared Vanilla Pudding over the bananas, top with vanilla wafers, and more caramel-coated bananas. Spread the remaining filling over the vanilla wafers, and caramel-coated bananas.

In a large bowl, whip the cream until stiff peaks are just about to form. Add the almond extract, and sugar and beat until peaks form. Make sure not to overbeat, or the cream will become lumpy, and butter-like. Spread the cream over the pies. At service, garnish with a caramel swirl, and the reserved vanilla wafer crumbs.

Vanilla Pudding:

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 large eggs
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract or 1 vanilla bean

In a bowl whisk together the sugar and flour until all of the lumps are gone. Once it is a fine powder, whisk in the eggs, and egg yolks, and continue whisking until a smooth paste is formed. Slowly whisk in 1 cup of milk, and once this is incorporated add the remaining cup of milk. Transfer the mixture to a saucepan, and cook over medium heat whisking constantly, until it reaches the thickness of chilled pudding, about 10 to 15 minutes. (Mixture will just begin to bubble and will be thick enough to hold soft peaks when the whisk is lifted.) Remove from the heat, and stir in vanilla.

Salty Caramel:

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 1/4 cups heavy cream

Directions

Over low heat, mix the water, and sugar in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan. Cook until the sugar dissolves, about 5 to 10 minutes. Do not stir. Increase the heat to medium and boil uncovered until the sugar turns a warm chestnut brown (about 350 degrees F on a candy thermometer), about 5 to 7 minutes, gently swirling the pan to stir the mixture. Be careful - the mixture is extremely hot!

Watch the mixture very carefully at the end, as it will go from caramel to burnt very quickly. Turn off the heat, and stand back to avoid splattering. Slowly add the cream. Don't panic - the cream will bubble violently, and the caramel will solidify.

Simmer over low heat, stirring constantly, until the caramel dissolves and the sauce is smooth, about 2 minutes. Allow the sauce to cool to room temperature, at least 4 hours. It will thicken as it sits.