Archive for ‘Sage’

November 8, 2010

Sunday Dinner, Porch to Table | Roasted Pumpkin with Italian Sausage

If you have friends or family coming over for an unexpected Sunday dinner at your house, don’t be alarmed.  You may already have what you need and have to look no further than your front porch

I couldn’t bear to just let the beautiful green Hokkaido pumpkin go to waste that we brought home from Rennick’s Family Farm a few weekends ago.  I came up with a dinner that requires almost no clean up aside from a pasta pot, but is still kind of a showstopper.  You’ll be surprised how easy this recipe is, requiring only about 15 minutes of hands-on time.  Italian sausage, mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes and lots of fresh sage and thyme roasted in the pumpkin for about an hour turns these ingredients into a melange of marvelous Fall flavors for a bed of pasta.  Serve with a nice wine, some crusty ciabatta and a good olive oil, you’ll have a table full of happy company amazed at your skill in the kitchen.

Roasted Hokkaido Pumpkin Stuffed with Italian Sausage and Mushrooms

1 large, about 4 pounds, or 2 medium about 2 or 2 1/2 pounds heirloom pumpkins (Long Island Cheese or Green Hokkaido are good choices)

1 pound Italian sausage, a combination of sweet and hot, if you like, sliced in 1-inch pieces

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October 28, 2010

Butternut Squash “Pasta” and Stuffed Squab

There’s been something appealing about trying difficult recipes lately.  Some days – well let’s be honest, a lot of days – all I want to cook is something familiar and easy (i.e., Japanese noodles and salmon).  And tonight’s recipe seemed, at first, to fit into the difficult category.  Although, as it turned out, it wasn’t hard, just slightly exotic.  And exotic can seem hard at first blush. 

The squab were beautiful and from the food heroes at d’Artagnan, so I had extra incentive to do my very best cooking to pay proper homage.  I had been kicking around the idea of making “pasta” from a butternut squash (remember it’s Week of Gourd) so I figured it’d be a good time to give that a shot, too.  This wasn’t pasta at all, just thin ribbons of butternut squash cooked for 30 seconds in boiling water, then finished in a saute pan with butter, a little grated nutmeg and some parmesan.  The result was a remarkably fast dinner (it did require some afternoon prep time) that wasn’t too low on the sophistication scale. 

Chestnut-Stuffed Squab with Butternut Squash “Pasta”

2  squab, each about a pound, necks and wings removed

Zest of 1 orange

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October 25, 2010

Party Snack: Posh Squash

Sunday I (well, mostly Cherub) gathered some locally-grown pumpkins and squashes at a nearby u-pick farm.  Since nearly everyone has a gourd or two lying around this time of year, I thought I’d give you some ideas about how you might use them.  One minute they’re seasonal decorations on your front porch and the next you’re serving them to party guests.  Result!

Today, I used one of those squashes, the demure Carnival, for a posh little party snack.  Tonight’s do was hosted by my friend Elpis, and as I’m sure you’re aware, party season is upon us.  These nibbles are easy and sure to please, so add this recipe to your arsenal.

The basics are roasted squash, pancetta, parmesan and buttery toast.  You can go two ways with this one: quick and dirty or overacheiver.  I opted for the overacheiver version for your viewing pleasure, and to encourage you to do the same. 

Roasted Carnival Squash Nibbles with Pancetta and Parmesan

1 Carnival squash, peeled, deseeded and cut into large-ish cubes

Olive oil, salt, pepper

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October 6, 2010

Simple Supper

Because we had a lovely filling lunch at Skillet, I couldn’t exactly bring myself to make a full on dinner.  Which was fine by everyone.

So for a quick, satisfying meal, I made the old fall standby, butternut squash soup.  It doesn’t have to be filled to the brim with cream, it can be rich and silky with just the squash and some good stock.  Garnish with bacon or don’t; it’s flexible for vegetarians and meat eaters alike.

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Sage Whipped Cream

1 medium to large butternut squash

3 oz bacon ends, chopped 

4 green onions (or a small chopped onion)

2 cloves of garlic

1 T bacon fat, butter or olive oil

3 to 5 cups of good quality (i.e., homemade) chicken or vegetable stock; if you don’t have it, please don’t use boxed stock, just use water

4 or 5 fresh sage leaves, julienned

1/4 c heavy cream

Olive oil, salt, pepper

Begin by peeling your butternut squash.  PK tip: peel it twice.  If you do it once, it will still be somewhat pale and starchy looking.  You want to peel to the nice orange part.  Cut the ends off, cut it in half, remove the seeds and cut into 1 to 2 inch cubes.  Space cubes evenly on a roasting pan with a drizzle of olive oil and some salt and pepper, mix with clean hands to coat evenly.  Slide into a 400˚ oven for about 30 minutes.

While the squash is roasting, in a large sauce pot render some bacon (if using).  When crispy, remove to a paper towel and save about a tablespoon of the fat to soften the onion and garlic over low heat.  When the squash is soft (a fork pierces it easily) either add to the pot with the softened onion and garlic along with 3 cups (to start) of stock and use an immersion blender to puree.  If you don’t have one, combine all in a food processor or a blender.  Return the puree to a sauce pan to heat through, adding more stock to thin to the consistency you like.

For a garnish, whip the cream until it’s stiff (but not butter!) and add in the sage and a pinch of salt.  Another – even quicker – method is to use a small food processor or an immersion blender with a whisk attachment.  Super fast whipped cream.  I like that.

To serve, ladle the soup into warmed bowls, garnish with a generous sprinkling of bacon and a nice spoonful or a quenelle (if you can do that – I still kind of stink at making them) of whipped cream.  Serve immediately as the whipped cream begins to melt quickly.

The only ingredients that weren’t local were the olive oil, salt and pepper.  For complete sourcing, see the Farms and Producers page.

Playlist included Carry Me Ohio, by Sun Kil Moon.  Sounds like falling leaves.

September 23, 2010

Thursday Night Turkey, via Slovenia

Poseidon is somewhat of a world traveler.  After spending some time in Slovenia, he brought back with him a delightful way to incorporate turkey into a weekly menu.  He first came across this dish at the restaurant Julija on Ljublijana’s Main Square.  It’s a very typical and traditional Slovene dish, but with Italian notes (after all, Venice is just a stone’s throw).  Turkey and game are more popular there than chicken.  Why not consider a turkey breast for your weeknight meal?  It’s not a lot of work (season the ingredients and toss them in the oven, make a quick sauce), but it’s a lot of flavor.

Julija’s Fennel Turkey with Gorgonzola Bechamel, Roasted Brussels and Potatoes

For the Turkey:

1.5 lb. boneless (skin on!) turkey breast

1 T fennel seeds

2 cloves garlic, minced

8 to 10 fresh sage leaves, chopped

Olive oil, salt, pepper

Combine the fennel, garlic and sage then stuff under the loosened skin on the turkey breast.  Drizzle breast with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Place in a roasting pan and put in a 400˚ oven for approximately 50 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer reads 165˚.

For the vegetables:

8 to 10 brussel sprouts, trimmed

2 medium red skinned potatoes, cubed

Salt and pepper

In a bowl, combine the Brussels and potatoes and season with salt and pepper.  Arrange on an oiled baking sheet, place in a 400˚ oven (along with the turkey) for approximately 30 minutes, or until vegetables are browned.  Shake the pan once or twice during roasting to evenly brown.

For the Gorgonzola sauce:

2 T butter

2 T flour

¼ c heavy cream

¾ c milk

 2 oz gorgonzola or blue cheese

In a small sauce pan, melt the butter over low heat, then add in the flour, stirring to eliminate any lumps.  Cook for one or two minutes.  Whisk in the cream and milk.  Add the cheese and stir to melt.  If the sauce is too thick, add in a bit more milk.  This should only take 3-4 minutes.  Set aside, keeping warm until you are ready to serve.  (Or should you just pour the whole thing over some macaroni?  Perhaps another time…)

To finish the veg:

2 slices bacon, chopped

Apple cider vinegar

To finish the vegetables, cook the bacon in a large pan over low heat until crisp.  Add in the roasted brussels and potatoes, along with a splash of apple cider vinegar.  Stir to incorporate, cook over low heat for a minute or two.

Serve with Hedges C.M.S. White, from Washington State.  It is a shockingly good pairing.

PK tip: be careful, if you have leftover bread in your pantry, you may be tempted to eat the rest of the Gorgonzola sauce out of the pan as you’re cleaning up.  Well, that’s not really a tip.  It’s something to do.  And come to think of it, I recommend it.

Tonight we listened to Hang with Me, by Robyn, amongst other things.

September 2, 2010

Autumn Prelude – Steak and Potatoes

It was Beethoven who said that “when the ideas are good, the elaboration is not of such great importance.”  I think this attitude is equally important in the kitchen.  Take last night’s dinner, for example steak and potatoes.

As I said in my first post, you won’t find earth shatteringly new ways to cook here, just tasty ones.  The skirt steak was marinated very simply in olive oil and salt.  Why?  We were out of pepper and I was too lazy to shop for some.  (But I will shop for some tomorrow at the new North Market Spices.)

The idea for the potatoes originated from the Kitchen of Light: New Scandinavian Cookbook by Andreas Viestad.  The original recipe called for dill.  My neighbors with gardens and I will tell you sadly that the dill this year was terrible.  So what to do?  Being the first of September, the sage was growing gloriously, waving at me through the kitchen window, begging to be picked.  And tucked close by were some ridiculously long chives.  Add in a couple of cloves of garlic, some mushrooms and it was a beautiful dinner on the table in 20 minutes.

Whenever you are approaching a recipe, think about it like a musician thinks about a musical score.  Or a method actor thinks about building a character.  Ground your decisions in your experience. When you taste something fantastic, think about why it tastes fantastic.   What’s in it that’s makes it taste good?  The more often you do this, the more comfortable you’ll become in the kitchen, cooking with a recipe or (gasp!) cooking without.

Potatoes with Shitake Mushrooms

4 or 5 red skinned potatoes

1 or 2 handfuls of shitake mushrooms

1T. butter

1 or two cloves of garlic, minced

5 or 6 stalks of chives chopped

5 sage leaves, chopped

Salt, olive oil, Tabasco (optional)

Cube and rinse the potatoes, cover them with water and a copious amount of salt and boil for 8 to 10 minutes, or just until tender.  While the potatoes are cooking, melt the butter in a small sauté pan, and add the mushrooms and a bit of salt.  Just before the potatoes are done, add in the garlic to the mushrooms.  When the potatoes are tender, drain and mix in the mushrooms, the chopped herbs, drizzle with olive oil and taste for seasoning.  Add additional salt and/or a few dashes of Tabasco (or pepper, if you weren’t out like we were).

This serves nicely with a piece of flank steak that has marinated in olive oil and then been grilled.  Heat up a grill pan when the potatoes go in, sear the meat well (4 to 6 minutes per side) then let it rest while you assemble the potatoes.

Playlist included Beethoven’s Piano Sonata Op. 57 “Appassionata.”

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