December 21, 2010 § Leave a comment
One: the ingredient list is minimal.
Two: the recipe is (almost) idiot proof.
Three: the flavor does not reveal statement one or two.
I like to make this soup with a wide range of flavors. Sometimes it is gingerly sweet, sometimes it is savory and herbed. This last batch revealed warm curry notes in the silky coconut broth. But what ever flavor the bubbling pot may unveil, the backbone of the soup is, for the most part, unwavering.
One squash will generally make four servings, so increase the number of squashes and other ingredients accordingly. Many times I use two varieties of winter squash for a more interesting flavor.
1 kabocha squash split in half length wise
1 apple chopped
2 onions chopped (or 4 shallots)
1 cup coconut milk (or vegetable broth)
3 tablespoons red curry paste (or seasonings of your choice)
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Rub down the orange flesh of the squash halves with olive oil and sea salt and place on a baking sheet. Roast until the skin feels like butter upon being pierced, usually 30 minutes. This is just enough time to caramelize the apple and onions. In a medium/large pot heat a tablespoon or so of olive oil on medium low heat, you don’t want the oil to smoke. Now add the chopped apple and onion and some salt. If you are making a herby soup add some of the herbs. Cover the pot. Check on the onions periodically and give them a stir. After about 20 minutes remove the lid and let the steam escape for the last 10 minutes. At this point everything in the pot should be a lovely golden color and have a silken glow, the squash should be emitting a deeply honeyed aroma and may even be sitting in a puddle of juice. When the above criteria have been satisfied, remove the squash from the oven and let it cool for a moment. (I would now remove some of the caramelized mix and reserve as a topping). Then remove the skin by either peeling it off or scooping out the flesh and adding it to the pot of apple and onion with a pinch of salt. Give everything a stir and add the coconut milk/broth and curry/herbs. Add more water or broth to bring the consistency to your liking. Top with caramelized onions or toasted nuts or maybe croutons for some texture.
December 16, 2010 § Leave a comment
Kids may have a simple and refined (think sugar not sophistication) palette but there is something to be said about a basic colorful mass of sugar and butter which even the most pretentious of eaters could not turn their fork away from. Take the rice crispy treat for example. The fundamental concept is hardly any different from a cake , with a few substitutions: crackling cereal for white flour, pillows of sugar rather than granulated, and browned butter in place of the standard unsalted. The last switcheroo is really the kicker. Upon first nibble of this cake you will know that something is wonderfully different about it, and yet I dare you to pin the gorgeous nutty notes on the extra 3 minutes the butter needs to transform from simply melted to luxuriously brown.
Browning butter is my favorite thing right now. After eating browned butter that is. Once I learned how simple it is to melt butter past the point of liquidation but before the point of charring I began to make pie crusts and cookies with this liquid gold and have even spread it straight on my toast after letting it solidify and come to room temperature. I am still working out how to bake with it as the fabulous flavor can sometimes be masked by spices or sugars. Any excuse to bake more, I suppose.
Fortunately this crispy cake lets the nutty tang shine right through and tastes much more appetizing than it looks (unless you are four years old or the idea of eating florescent colors seems appealing). I made it in the shape of a cake because we were celebrating a birthday for a wheat sensitive friend, but I think that I have found my new go to goodie for all kinds of eaters.
Brown Butter Rice Crispy Cake
Deb from Smitten Kitchen inspired rice crispy recipe. She has a thing for brown butter too. Or just follow the instructions on the box of Rice Crispy Cereal (but dont forget to brown the butter, seriously).
1 stick ( 1/4 pound) unsalted butter
6 cups rice crispy cereal plus 1 cup sprinkles for effect
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
10 oz bag marshmallows
sprinkles and icing
How to brown butter
Melt the butter in a lage pot on medium heat. Once the butter melts continue cooking it until it foams and the settles and then foams again, do not walk away, stir frequently to see when dark solids begin to form beneath the foamy butter. When the butter begins to emit a lovely nutty aroma and you can see brown particles forming, get ready to remove the butter from the heat.
Rice Crispy Cake
Once the butter has browned stir in the bag of marshmallows. If the pot has cooled down and the marshmallow is slow to melt move the pot back to the warm burner or a low flame. Once everything has melded into a glorious puddle of butter and sugar add the cereal speckled with sprinkles and stir until each grain of puffed rice has been equally coated in a healthy amount the melted marshmallow/butter mix. Be quick. Now pour half of the warm mixture into a cake pan and the other half into another cake pan and allow them to cool for about 45 minutes. Remove the cooled treats and spread a nice layer of icing upon the uneven (top) side of one of the cakes. For aesthetic purposes place the other half of the cooled treat uneven side down atop the iced layer. Now be creative and decorate this scrumptious mass in any manor you feel suitable.
November 30, 2010 § Leave a comment
This past Wednesday night began with roasting a perfectly sweet, tart, and herby cranberry and hazelnut sauce for Thanksgiving. I got the inspiration here, and modified it until the recipe turned into my own.
Coat one pound of fresh cranberries in:
1 cup turbinado sugar
3 tablespoons walnut oil
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon fresh sage
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
Roast the cranberries on a rimmed baking sheet in a hot oven (425 degrees) for about 7 minutes until the berries around the edge begin to split. While the cranberries are in the oven heat 1/4 cup red wine with 2 tablespoons of water in a little sauce pan until it boils. When the berries begin to split take the pan out of the oven and mix in the hot wine then return everything to the hot oven for another 10 or 15 minutes. Stir the mixture a couple of times checking to see when the berries turn into a beautiful syrupy sauce. Leave the oven on to toast the hazelnuts. The method for the hazelnuts is essentially the same as the cranberries.
Mix 1 cup of hazelnuts with 1 teaspoon each fresh rosemary, thyme, and sage in a rimmed baking sheet. Then heat 3 tablespoons of red wine and 3 tablespoons of turbinado sugar until the sugar melts and mix with the herbed nuts. Now heat the coated nut for just under 10 minutes in the hot oven. Keep the saucy cranberries and the toasted nuts separate until just before devouring the mixture.
November 29, 2010 § Leave a comment
Wednesday Night, I planned ahead and made the turkey stock required for the indecently rich giblet gravy and earthy mushroom stuffing. I had never made my own stock before, and as it turns out, the whole process is quite simple and requires nothing but heaps of chopped veggies, pounds of turkey innards, plenty of chicken broth, and one steamy kitchen. I used this recipe, and followed closer than usual.
I picked up 5 1/2 pounds of giblets from the Country Butcher in Kennett Square when I bought my very first Thanksgiving turkey and simmered the innards in a large pot with:
3 chopped carrots
4 small chopped celery stalks with the leaves attached
2 medium quartered onions
2 medium chopped leeks including the usually discarded green tops
2 bunches of parsley stems only
6 sprigs of fresh thyme
3 turkish bay leaves
12 cups low sodium chicken broth
Bring the pot of vegetables and broth to a boil and then simmer the brew for about 2 hours until the giblets are cooked. Remove the turkey parts and save them to add extra flavor to the gravy then strain the stock into a bowl. I let the stock cool so that the fat rises to the top and solidifies and can easily be removed before being added to stuffings, gravies, and roasting pans.
November 24, 2010 § 2 Comments
As I walked through my kitchen door this evening I felt like a shop-a-holic. The weight of my items were almost unbearable, and yet I found myself chuckling at the though of my spending habits. My products were not boots, jewelry, body products, or any sort of typical merchandise. The goods in my hands were mushrooms from the Mushroom Cap in Kennett Square; a fresh turkey with extra giblets and bacon on the side from the Country Butcher in Kennett Square; hazelnuts from Spring Run in Kennett; leeks, onions, sage, shallots, cider, and honey from Barnard’s. Nothing could have made me happier than hauling my shopping bags into the kitchen and unloading my purchases. I can completely understand how people become addicted to the feeling of new things. Luckily for me my valuables tend to edible, so I always need more.
My Thanksgiving menu has blossomed into something I feel quite proud of. Every flavor, from the woodsy mushrooms to the warm hazelnuts to the complexity of herbs, has meandered from one dish to the other. And most dishes will be a compilation of recipes taken from articles in various magazines and basic knowledge. I am a bit hesitant to be trying out new techniques and flavors with my usually quite traditionally palated family. Although when it comes down to it, who could oppose bread pudding baked inside a pumpkin and drizzled with whiskey sauce, or wild mushroom, hazelnut, and olive bread stuffing? And roasting cranberries in red wine has got to outshine canned cranberry sauce, especially when they are mixed with spiced hazelnuts. These are the dishes which I am fairly confident will be delicious; the bird is another story. I hardly cook meat and a 14 pound turkey commands some loving care. From all I have gathered, brining the gobbler will ensure a crackling layer atop a succulent frame, and just to go the extra mile I picked up some extra thick bacon to drape over the bird as he roasts provide some extra flavor and tenderness. I mean, if I am going to eat meat it better be tender, juicy, and rich.
So tonight I brine and give the salt time to suck the juice fromt the body out to the skin. The turkey will sit in a bath of citrusy salt for almost 36 hours and will be roasted Thursday morning.
Tomorrow I will roast the cranberries and toast the hazelnuts for the cranberry sauce as well as prepare the stock for the stuffing, basting, and gravy.
Thursday will be full of roasting, rotating, reducing. The turkey will cook in my oven while I prepare the mushroom stuffing and pumpkin stuffed bread pudding. Then everything will be transfered to my Grandmothers where the gravy will be made from the drippings from the turkey plus lots of extra innards, the stuffing will be baked, and the desert will be cooking while we indulge.
Recipes, regrets, and photos to come. Please help me with any suggestions or comments!