Sunday, November 30, 2014

Delicata Squash with Carmelized Shallots & Sherry

(recipe from Fine Cooking magazine)

1 1/4 lbs. delicata squash
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/4 cup dry sherry
Kosher salt and feshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 cup thinly sliced shallots (2 to 3 large)
4 tsp. finely chopped fresh sage

Heat the oven to 350F.  Peel the squash, leaving the skin in the crevices (it's tender enough to eat).  Trim the ends.  Cut the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds.  Slice the halves crosswise 1/2-inch thick.

Heat 1 Tbsp. of the oil in a 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat.  Add half of the squash in a single layer and cook without moving until the slices begin to brown, about 2 minutes.  Flip and cook until the second side begins to brown, 1 to 2 minutes.  Transfer to a 9x13-inch baking dish.  Repeat with the remaining squash.  Arrange the squash in a single layer in the dish.  Sprinkle with 2 Tbsp. of the sherry, 1/2 tsp. salt, and a few grinds of pepper.

Heat the remaining 1 Tbsp. olive oil and the butter in the skillet over medium heat.  Add the shallots and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring frequently, until the shallots turn deep golden brown on the edges, 3 to 5 minutes.  Take the pan off the heat and immediately add the sage and the remaining 2 Tbsp. sherry, scraping up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan.  Scatter the shallots over the squash.

Cover the pan with foil and bake until the squash is tender when pierced with a fork, 25 to 30 minutes.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

(I do not peel delicata squash - the skin is tender and edible when cooked.  Also, I skipped the step with browning the squash - I just sliced and layered in the pan raw.  You may want to check on the squash after 20 minutes in the oven, as my squash were very tender after 25 minutes.  The sherry and the sage make this an incredibly tasty dish!  I had some butter to use up in the fridge, but you could use all olive oil and make it vegan.)

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Winter Fruit Salsa

(recipe from Food 52)

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (2 large limes)
1/8 tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. minced shallot (2 medium-large cloves)
2 persimmons, peeled and diced
1 1/3 cup pomegranate arils (1 large pomegranate)
1 large Hass avocado, flesh diced
1 serrano chile, seeds and veins removed, flesh minced
2 Tbsp. chiffonade mint
2 tsp. minced sage
1/8 tsp. cinnamon

Combine lime juice, salt, and minced shallot in a medium non-reactive bowl while prepping the rest of the ingredients.

Dice the persimmon and avocado so the pieces are about the same size as a pomegranate aril.  As ingredients are prepped, add them to the bowl, gently tossing to incorporate.  When everything has been added, toss to blend.

Allow flavors to meld 20 to 60 minutes before serving.  This holds up for several hours, so is best made the same day.  It tastes fine later, but the avocado gets a little ugly.

(I made this to use up a persimmon, but was delighted with it!  Such an unusual salsa.  Very tasty, a surprising combination of flavors.  I actually just tossed some with greens and ate as a salad, but will try it next time with chips or crackers.  Would be good to bring to a party - unique!)

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Anna Thomas' Green Soup

(recipe from Food 52)

1 bunch chard or spinach
1 bunch kale
4 to 5 green onions, sliced, white and green parts
1/2 cup loosely packed cilantro
1 tsp. sea salt, plus more to taste
1 medium Yukon Gold potato
1 medium yellow onion
1 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil
Marsala or dry sherry (optional)
1 to 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 1/2 to 3 cups vegetable broth
Freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice, plus more to taste

Wash the greeens thoroughly, trim off their stems, and slice the leaves.  Combine the chard or spinach, kale, green onion, and cilantro in a large soup pot with 3 cups water and a teaspoon of salt.  Peel the potato, or just scrub it well if you prefer, cut it into small pieces, and add it to the pot.  Bring the water to a boil, turn down the flame to low, cover the pot, and let the soup simmer for about half an hour.

Meanwhile, chop the onion, heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet, and cook the onion with a small sprinkle of salt over medium flame until it is golden brown and soft.  This will take up to half an hour.  Don't hurry; give it a stir once in a while, and let the slow cooking develop the onion's sweetness.  If you like, you can deglaze the pan at the end with a bit of Marsala or sherry - not required, but a nice touch.

Add the caramelized onion to the soup.  Put the remaining 1/2 tablespoon oil in the pan and stir the chopped garlic in it for just a couple of minutes, until it sizzles and smells great.  Add the garlic to the pot and simmer the soup for 10 minutes more.

Add enough of the broth to make the soup a soup - it should pour easily from the ladle - and puree it in the blender, in batches if necessary, or use an immersion blender.  Don't overprocess, potatoes can turn gummy if you work them too much.

Return the soup to the pot, bring it back to a simmer, and taste.  Add a pinch more salt if needed, grind in a little black pepper, and add a pinch of cayenne and a tablespoon of lemon juice.  Stir well and taste again.  Now use your taste buds - correct the seasoning to your taste with a drop more lemon juice or another pinch of salt, and then serve.  Garnish with a thin drizzle of fruity olive oil.

(This soup is light and flavorful and packed with greens!  If you wanted it a bit heavier, I suppose you could add another potato.  The website also mentions that you could use any greens, any herbs; or bolster the soup with arborio rice, yams, sauteed mushrooms, or squash instead of the potato; shallots or leeks instead of the onion - use the recipe as a template.)

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Pumpkin Seed Dried-Cherry Trail Mix

(recipe from the cookbook 5 Ingredient Fix by Claire Robinson)

2 cups baby pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
1 cup slivered almonds
3/4 cup raw sunflower seeds
6 Tbsp. pure Grade B maple syrup
Coarse salt, to taste
1 cup dried cherries or cranberries

Preheat oven to 300F.

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.

In a large bowl, toss the pumpkin seeds, almonds, and sunflower seeds with the syrup until evenly coated.  Spread the nuts and seeds out in an even, single layer on the lined baking sheets and season with salt.  Bake them, stirring several times with a spatula or wooden spoon, until just golden, about 20 minutes.  Cool the nuts and seeds completely on the sheet tray, then add the cherries and toss to combine.

Store the cooled trail mix in an airtight container at room temperature for up to two weeks.

(Tasty, grain-free version of granola.  I used apple juice-sweetened cranberries, which were a nice alternative to the super sugary versions of most dried fruits.  I ate this alone, and as a topping to various chia pudding breakfast concoctions.  It has a perfect sweet/salty flavor mix.)

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Eggplant Spread

(recipe from Whole Foods Market)

2 large eggplant
1/2 sliced green onion (I used three scallions)
1 cup peeled diced Roma or other meaty tomato (I used canned diced tomatoes)
3 Tbsp. chopped parsley
3/4 cup olive oil (optional - I did not oil the eggplant before baking)
3 Tbsp. wine vinegar
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper

Oil the skins of the eggplant and bake them on a baking sheet at 375F until tender, about 50 minutes.  Cut off the stems and discard the skin.

Chop the eggplant, onion, tomato, and parsley in a food processor or on a cutting board with a large knife.  Pulse or chop until the mixture is fine but not pureed; it should have some texture.  Stir in the vinegar, salt and pepper.  Chill until serving time and serve with crackers or crusty bread.

(I made this for the neighborhood get-together at Penny and Dick's next door, and everyone loved it.  Different than a typical babaganoush-type creamy dip: this one is lively and tangy and fresh due to the tomatoes and vinegar.)