Archive for November, 2010

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An Ode to Fall & Squash

November 20, 2010

Okay so I have a confession:

Fall is the best time of the year. Not only are the warm hued colors splashed across the foliage but they also make their way to our plates. One of these ways is in the form of a personal favorite vegetable. I have to say that I ❤ squash. There are just so many options! Butternut squash has a very special place in my heart, but in close second comes Acorn squash. Here’s some of the reasoning: Butternut squash is a vegetable I’ve come to love over the past few years while cooking for myself. It’s a beautiful orange color that just warms your spirit and oh yes it is so sweet, delicious, and versatile. Seriously I could go on for days writing love songs and painting praise to the strangely phallic squash. However this day I want to explain why I love acorn squash.

Acorn squash is something that reminds me of my childhood. My dad’s father, whom all the grandchildren affectionately referred to as Papa taught me so much when I was little that it still keeps resurfacing to this day: little tidbits like how to pick the perfect apple, to the greater topics of savoring every moment of life. In the kitchen as a kid I was always fascinated watching the artist at work. If I had to classify his technique, I would say he was into a refined minimalism. Let the freshest ingredients tantalize the taste buds. An interesting rule of his was no salt or pepper at the dinner table, for he had seasoned everything accordingly for maximum enjoyment. He was a serious foodie. He played for keeps.

As a kid my tastes were constantly broadened. I was the goose among the ducks when my friends would play a round of “what did you have for dinner last night.”

“I had meat loaf and potatoes.”

“My mom made chicken with peas and carrots.”

“My papa served us braised pork chops with apples and brown sugar roasted acorn squash.”

What the what!? I know right. I was a freak with an affinity for acorn squash and other exotic fare such as the glorious Brussels sprouts. Well at least it’s cool now, right? <(-_-)>

Anyway, the answer to why I love acorn squash is because it reminds that my journey down the culinary path of nom started with my grandfather. His passion, his excitement, and his love of natural ingredients.

Here is a recipe that I recently made because I had some acorn squash on the counter begging me to eat them with their wicked siren call. Out of laziness and hunger I was very resourceful with ingredients I had lying around. The results were amazing and I may have eaten ½ of these over the course of the day. Bonne Noms! <(^_^)>

Thoughts:

-Next time I would make a larger batch, these didn’t last long and I’m sure they would have been delicious the next day as well.

-Shiitake mushrooms would add a wonderful earthier element to this dish. If using chop finely so it isn’t tough.

-Nothing compares to the taste of fresh nutmeg, I am a recent convert and now go around trying to save others culinary souls. Yes it is that good.

-I’m pro savory cinnamon dishes. Join me in the battle vs. cinnamon sweet treats.

-If you want a meatastic version, use sage sausage in place of my soysage.

-If you love cheese, add a quarter cup of grated cheese into the mixture in addition to sprinkling it on top.

Acorn Squash

Om Nom Nom

Acorn Squash

Erik’s Mushroom Walnut Stuffed Acorn Squash

  • 3 Acorn Squash, halved and seeded
  • Olive Oil
  • 10 White Button Mushrooms (or Baby Bella)
  • ½ of a Gimme Lean Soysage
  • ¼ c of chopped Walnuts
  • ¼ tsp Ground Nutmeg (or fresh ground)
  • ¼ Chopped Sweet Onion
  • 1 Egg
  • 3-4 Tablespoons of Plain Breadcrumbs
  • Sprinkle of Cinnamon (Fine! 1/8 tsp if you really need a measurement)
  • ¼ tsp Ground Ginger
  • Sprinkle of salt and pepper
  • Parmesan or other hard cheese

Preheat Oven to 400.

Halve the Acorn Squash and seed them as well. Brush generously with olive oil and season with a little bit of salt. Bake for 25 minutes until slightly tender (flesh will be pierced with a fork/knife fairly easily).

While baking prepare the filling. Put half of the Gimme Lean Soysage in a bowl and mix in the egg to make it moist and sticky. Clean and chop up the mushrooms in small pieces, also chop up the walnuts and add with chopped onions to the soysage mixture. Add the nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, salt and pepper. Mix well and divide among the squash.

Reduce temperature to 375.

Bake for another 20-25 minutes or until the squash is very tender and the soysage mixture is browned. Sprinkle with cheese during last 5 minutes to get nice and melty. Let sit a few minutes before enjoying.

~Erik <(^_^)>

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Prelude to a Feast

November 15, 2010

Call me traditional, but I love Thanksgiving dinner.  I’m even willing to assert that if I were on death row and offered a last meal, I would request a full traditional Thanksgiving without giving it a second thought.

So, it may seem redundant to say that I am positively ecstatic that Turkey day is upon us once again!  I’ve been planning out my menu for weeks, and since this has been a year of vegetarianism for me, I’ll be doing so without a gorgeous, crispy-on-the-outside, juicy-on-the-inside, golden brown turkey centerpiece.  Naturally, this will mean an added strain on the supporting cast, but lucky for me I like the side dishes as much as (if not more than) the bird anyway.

I will begin with a homemade stuffing (I’m thinking sourdough bread cubes, toasted pecans, dried cranberries, and fresh herbs), then mashed potatoes (probably done my usual way, with a hint of horseradish and lots of sour cream and butter), sweet potato casserole, corn pudding, brown sugar glazed carrots, Brussels sprouts (roasted with halved red grapes and toasted pecans), fresh cranberry sauce (as well as the jellied canned stuff I secretly love) and warm yeast rolls dripping with butter.

So, if your mouth is watering now, just wait.  Pictures and recipes will be coming after we’ve had a chance to indulge next week.  The anticipation is killer…

 

~ Josie

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Summer Nom Leftovers Pt. 1

November 14, 2010

I do have some more current things I’d like to share but I felt that I needed to bring to light some of the noms that were created this summer.  The summer time was glorious in all the deliciousness that came out of “The Bakery” as Josie’s apartment was affectionately called. Here is one of those recipes. I’m sure there will be quite a few posts like this. It was rather simple, yet extremely nomalicious.

Thoughts:

The original recipe called for other mushrooms, but we used what we could find.

Great flavors all together, also with all the mushrooms it was very “meaty” and quite filling.

Thai Three Mushroom Tart

Adapted from The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook by Bay Books

 

It was delicious warm, but as with all "pizzas" even better as a chilly midnight snack.

  • 12 oz. puff pastry
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ pound shiitake mushrooms
  • ½ pound button mushrooms
  • ½ pound oyster mushrooms
  • ½ cup coconut milk
  • 1 stalk lemon grass, chopped
  • 1 ½ teaspoon grated ginger
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 2 tbsp chopped cilantro
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp plain flour
  • 1 spring onion

Preheat the oven to 415 and grease a shallow tart pan. Roll out the pastry to line the base and sides of the pan. Trim off any excess. Stab it all around with a fork and stick in the oven for 20 minutes, or until crisp and cool. While cooling gently press down the pastry in the center to prepare for the filling. Reduce the oven heat to 400.

Heat the oils in a pan, add the shiitake and button mushrooms and stir until lightly browned. Add the oyster mushrooms and sprinkle a little salt and pepper to taste. Let cool and pour away any liquid.

Process the coconut milk, lemon grass, ginger, garlic, and cilantro until smooth. Add the egg and flour and blend in short bursts until combined. Season with a touch of salt and pepper.

Pour the mixture into the pastry and top with the mushrooms and the spring onions. Bake 30 minutes, or until the filling has set. Let sit for a few and serve with an extra sprinkle of cilantro. Indulge!

~Erik <(^_^)>

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A is for Annatto

November 6, 2010

Josie and I have been doing a recipe correspondence a la alphabet exchange style. We thought it would be an interesting way to explore more in the culinary world especially in terms of exotic ingredients. Also, just in case we can’t find an ingredient that works for a letter, it could also be a recipe. I’m just glad I don’t have letters “X” and “Z”, good luck with those Josie.

Obviously, since I am writing this, I decided to pick the first ingredient. For the amazing letter “A” I decided to pick Annatto. It was really intriguing to me as it is more of a coloring than a flavoring. I’m a sucker for natural colors when it comes to art or food. Anyways, getting back to annatto…

They kinda look like triangular pieces of dehydrated strawberries that come from this crazy spikey venus fly-trap looking plant. Browsing around trying to find ways of using this amazing red seed. I found an amazing recipe on Epicurious for Andean Potato Stew.

I ended up tweaking it a bit though. Here were my additions:

-I traded out the whole milk for soy milk

-I also topped my stew with fresh tortilla strips

-I love love love queso fresco and may have been a little more generous with it <(>.>)>

I need a real camera...this was taken with my iPhone

Andean Potato Stew

  • 2 teaspoons annatto seeds
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 1/2 lb russet potatoes
  • 1 cup chopped white onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 7 cups water
  • 1 cup soy milk
  • 5 1/2 oz queso fresco, plus extra to top
  • 2 medium firm-ripe avocados
  • Crispy tortilla strips

Heat annatto seeds and oil in a very small saucepan over low heat, swirling pan frequently, until oil is bright red-orange and starts to simmer, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, peel potatoes and cut into 3/4-inch pieces.

Pour annatto oil through a fine-mesh sieve into a wide 7- to 8-quart heavy pot, discarding solids. Cook onion and half of potatoes (reserve remaining potatoes in a bowl of cold water) in annatto oil over moderately high heat, stirring, until onion is softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Add cumin, salt, and pepper and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add water (7 cups) and bring to a boil, scraping up any brown bits. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, until potatoes are very tender, 25 to 30 minutes, then mash into broth. Drain remaining potatoes and add to stew, then simmer, partially covered, until tender, about 20 minutes. Stir in milk and cheese and increase heat to high, then bring to a simmer, stirring. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, quarter avocados lengthwise, then pit, peel, and cut into 1/2-inch cubes.

Serve stew in large soup bowls, topped with avocado, queso fresco, and tortilla strips.

Enjoy the creamy rich golden goodness. NOM!

~Erik <(^_^)>

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The Time is Now

November 5, 2010

I figured that after having the site lying dormant for the past oh… six months it was finally the time to start writing.

So here goes /cheer!