Braised Butternut Squash

Tue, Dec 1 • 0

This is an afghan recipe called bouranee kadu or borani kadoo. Traditionally, it’s made with pumpkin, but it’s easier to find and buy butternut squash, already peeled and cut, though you’ll probably need to cut some of the pieces into smaller chunks. It’s sometimes served as a whole meal, with a layer of spicy ground meat, but I think it’s best as a side dish, especially with roasted poultry. It’s perfect in the autumn.

borani1 pound butternut squash
1 medium yellow onion
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
½ tablespoon minced garlic
½ tablespoon minced ginger
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon coriander powder
½ teaspoon chili powder or according to taste
½ tablespoon tomato paste or ½ cup tomato puree
1 cup water or stock (chicken or vegetable)
3 tablespoons sugar
salt
Dried or fresh mint for garnish

If you’re using a whole butternut squash, peel it, and using a spoon, scoop out the inner membrane and seeds. Cut the flesh into 1 inch cubes and set aside.

Peel and place the onion in a food processor and puree.

Heat oil in a medium heavy bottom pan or wok. Carefully add the onion puree and cook on medium-low heat untill it is golden, about 10 minutes. Then add ginger, garlic, turmeric, coriander powder, and chili powder and stir for 1 minute or until fragrant.

Now add tomato paste or puree, water, sugar and salt, bring to a boil, while stirring.

Add the chopped butternut squash or pumpkin pieces. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the squash is cooked and slightly translucent, but still holding its shape, about 30 minutes. Add more water while cooking, if needed.

Garnish with mint and serve with garlic yogurt and naan.

Garlic Yogurt

1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 clove garlic minced
Salt

Whisk everything together.


Wild Rice Stuffing

Sun, Nov 7 • 0

Tried this in a chicken last week. I’m usually against putting stuffing inside a chicken or a turkey, since it means longer cooking time, and increases the chances of bacteria, but I figured if I didn’t make the stuffing too tightly packed, and if I put it in the bird hot, just before roasting it, I could get away with it. The cooking time did end up being longer than I expected, but that may have been due to the chicken being larger than I usually go with (4½ pounds as opposed to 3). In the end, I think I liked it more than my wife did.

The following quantities are for a 3-5 pound chicken, but you could increase it for a larger bird, like a turkey. The recipe still needs fine tuning, and you could easily swap out or omit some of the items. For example, replacing the onion with shallots or leeks. You could replace or augment the chestnuts with the chicken or turkey’s giblets. (Note: I was enticed into making up this recipe by an article and recipes in the Washington Post food section. In it, they talk about the best place to buy prepared, steamed chestnuts, and that’s apparently Trader Joes. They sell them in skinny maroon-colored boxes, nearish the flour and other baking supplies in my local store.)

1 cup prepared basmati and wild rice mix (fully cooked)
¼ yellow onion, diced
1 tablespoon butter or olive oil
2 cloves garlic, pressed
¼ cup chopped celery (ideally, the light yellow stalks and leave tops from the heart)
¼ cup chopped steamed chestnuts
liquid: vegetable or chicken broth, white wine, vermoth, or water
herbs: sage leaves, fresh thyme, to taste, finely chopped
salt and pepper

Prepare the rice ahead of time, and allow to cool. Avoid adding salt at this stage.

In a frying pan, soften onion and celery in butter or olive oil. Add the garlic and stir until fragrant (30 seconds). Add rice and chestnuts, and enough liquid to moisten, and allow it to  all get quite hot. Remove from heat, and taste for salt and pepper. You want it to be saltier than normal, since it’s going to flavor the whole bird from the inside. Add the herbs at this point, too.

Spoon the hot stuffing into the cavity, being careful not to pack it too tightly. Tie the opening closed with kitchen string. Roast in a hot oven (425°) until the juices run clear when you pierce the flesh near the thigh. Allow the chicken to rest, then cut the string and spoon out the stuffing before carving.


Coca Cola Barbeque Sauce

Fri, Aug 20 • 1


12 oz / 355 mL Coca Cola
1½ c / 355 mL Heinz ketchup
1 medium onion, chopped fine
¼ c / 60mL cider vinegar
¼ c / 60 mL Worcestershire sauce
1 t chili powder
1 t salt
hot sauce (Tabasco, Texas Pete) to taste

Bring all of the ingredients just to boil, then reduce to simmer for 30 to 45 minutes as sauce thickens, stirring occasionally. Use immediately or jar it up, and keep it in the fridge for a month or so.

Optional: Replace the Coke with your favorite root beer.

 


Refrigerator Pickles

Sun, Jul 11 • 0

5-6 lbs pickling cucumbers
1 c pickling or kosher salt
3 quarts (12 c) water
1 quart (4 c) white vinegar
crushed garlic
fresh dill
black peppercorns

Cover the cucumbers in a large non-reactive bowl with water, and add ¼c salt, and let them soak for 8 to 12 hours. Sterilize 4 or more jars in the dishwasher. In a pot, bring 3 quarts of water and the 1 quart of vinegar and ¾ cups of salt to a rapid boil. While you’re waiting for that, crush 1-3 cloves of garlic in each jar, along with a couple of fronds of dill and 5 or 6 peppercorns. Rinse the cucumbers, and slice each in half or quarters, or slice into rounds, and fill each jar with as many as you can. Ladle the hot liquid into each jar to cover, and apply the lids. Allow the jars to cool a bit, and then let cool in the fridge.

Technically, the recipe says that you let the pickles cure for 2 weeks, but I can never wait that long, and they taste great immediately. The recipe also claims that they’ll last for a month or two, but I’ve never had them last that long. A variation on the recipe has you add a hot pepper to each jar for a little spice.


Broccoli Supreme

Wed, Mar 3 • 0

This is my sister Lyn’s recipe, and I traditionally ask her for it every year at  Thanksgiving, because everyone loves it. I think I must’ve done it for at least 15 years — probably more. You’d think I’d remember it by now. I recently came across a booklet of family recipes where it was included, and thought I’d share it here. (I think I may keep asking Lyn for the recipe, though!)

1 slightly beaten egg
1 10 oz. package of frozen chopped broccoli, partially thawed
1 8½ oz can creamed style corn
1 cup herb-seasoned stuffing mix
1 tablespoon grated onion
¼ teaspoon salt
dash of pepper
3 tablespoons butter

In a greased 2-quart casserole dish, combine egg, broccoli, cream corn, onion, salt and pepper. In a small sauce pan (or in a bowl in the microwave), melt the butter; add the stuffing mix, and toss to coat. Stir three-quarters of the stuffing mixture in with the vegetables, and then top with the remaining quarter cup. Bake uncovered, 35-40 minutes in a 350° oven.


Boston Baked Beans, take 2

Sun, Dec 13 • 0

Bean_Pot_Large_4_5_Qt_You might find, in the Cooking Monster archives, an entry I wrote about my attempt to make a batch of homemade baked beans, and how I lamented that the results really weren’t worth the effort. Well, urged on my my brother, I have since purchased an authentic bean pot in Zanesville, Ohio, and decided to try my hand at it again, having rehydrated a batch of beans and then changing my mind about what I’d do with them. The results were much better this time, though not without some pitfalls. Be sure to boil the beans after you soak them until they are tender. I scrimped on this step, and my beans, though edible, were a little tough. Also, watch the vinegar content in your bbq sauce — too much, and the acid might do nasty things to your beans.

2 cups dried beans (navy, great northern, or flageolet)
12 oz. salt pork
1 onion, finely chopped
3 tablespoons molasses
2 teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon dry mustard
½ cup bbq sauce (or ketchup)
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 bay leaves
¼ cup brown sugar

Soak the beans for about 8 hours, or overnight. In the same liquid, simmer the beans until they’re tender — about 2 hours. Drain and reserve the liquid.

Preheat the oven to 325°F (165°C).

Combine the beans with the rest of the ingredients in a bean pot or covered casserole dish, stirring to combine, then add some of the reserved bean liquid (or fresh water) to the top of the bean mixture.

Bake with lid on for 2 hours, then check the beans for moisture, and add more water if necessary. Remove the lid, and stir. Cook for an additional 2 hours — or more, provided you add more water if the beans are getting too dry.


Southern Roll-ups

Sun, Apr 26 • 0

I based this recipe on something I read in a vegetarian cookbook. It sounded good, but I thought it might be even better with the addition of some country ham, but you can certainly omit it. I made the mistake, though, of using a bottled bbq sauce I’d never tried before, nor even sampled. Red pepper was the fourth item on the ingredient list. It ended up being very nearly inedible because of it. So choose the sauce you start with wisely. Better yet, make your own.

1 bunch of collard greens
½ cup onion, diced
¼ cup bell pepper, diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 oz. country ham, diced
1 can black eyed peas, drained
½ cup bbq sauce

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Pick out 6 or 8 of the biggest, best leaves of the collard greens, and boil for 6 minutes, then remove them to a cold water bath. Heat the oil in a saucepan, and cook the onions and peppers until soft. Add the ham, and cook for a few minutes, then add the peas and the bbq sauce. Take some of the uncooked greens and roll them up like a cigar, and slice them and add them to the pot. Simmer for 20-30 minutes until the sauce is reduced, stirring frequently.

Using a sharp knife, carefully slice the thick stem vein off the front and back of the boiled greens, to facilitate rolling. Once the beans and sauce are reduced, remove from the heat and allow it to cool a little, then put 2 or 3 tablespoons into the middle of each of the boiled leaves, and roll them up like a burrito. Serve hot.


Braised Spinach with Minced Meat

Tue, Apr 14 • 0

I made some braised spinach last night that didn’t go well with my wife. She prefers fresh spinach salad to anything that’s been cooked, even if I’m careful to wilt the greens only slightly. So I had some more greens left over, and tossed this together. The freshly ground nutmeg really makes it, giving an almost citrusy flavor. And I used bison for the minced meat, but you could use anything you had on hand, or omit it entirely for a vegetarian meal or a side dish.

¼ lb minced bison
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons chopped onion
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 good handfuls fresh spinach leaves

freshly ground nutmeg
salt, pepper to taste

Over medium high heat, melt butter in a tall saucepan. Add ground meat and brown. Toss in the onion, and soften a bit, and then the garlic. Put in the spinach, and toss until the spinach is coated, and begins to wilt, but not to the point where it’s a green mush. Add the salt and pepper and nutmeg.


Lentils with Balsamic Vinegar

Fri, Feb 27 • 4
Photo by WordRidden, on Flickr.

Photo by WordRidden, on Flickr.

This is a great side dish, or with rice, and maybe a sliced sausage or two, a main dish. You can make it completely vegetarian starting off with olive oil, and simmering with vegetable stock or water, or, if you don’t mind a little meat, start off with a few slices of bacon and simmer in chicken stock. Add more stock or water if you want it more soupy, or hold back and monitor it while it simmers if you want it dryer. It’s based on a recipe I half-remember from Cooks Illustrated. It uses french lentils, which are the little dark green ones, sometimes called “puy lentils,” since they hold their shape better. You can either buy them prepackaged, or head over to the bulk aisle, and buy it by them by the pound.

2 T olive oil, or the drippings from 3 slices of bacon, fried
1 small onion, diced (about ½ cup)
2 cloves of garlic, chopped or sliced
2 carrots, diced (about ½ cup)
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 cup french green lentils
1 16 oz can of tomatoes, whole or diced
1-2 cups chicken stock, vegetable stock, or water
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper

Resist the urge to add salt in the beginning, which tends to make the lentils tough.

If you’re starting with the bacon, chop into ¼ inch slices, and render the drippings in a medium sized saucepan (one that you have a tight lid). Remove the bacon once it’s browned and reserve for later – OR – heat the olive oil and add the onions and carrots, allowing the onions to become translucent, and the carrots to soften a little.  Add the garlic, the spices, the lentils, and the tomatoes, along with a little of the juice. Clamp on the lid and lower the heat, and let the mixture steam, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes. Add the stock or water, and let simmer for 20 or 30 more minutes, until the lentils are tender. Just before serving, add the balsamic and the salt and pepper (and top with the reserved bacon if you haven’t already eaten it all while you were cooking.)


Potato, Leek and Asparagus Tart

Mon, Oct 13 • 0

Completely decadent, serve this with a salad, as a side, or as a first course. It’ll definitely wow them at the pot-luck dinner.

You could really go over the top with this recipe, adding cream to the potatoes, and using a ton of butter, but I tried to keep it a little less than sinful — but go ahead and use the cream, especially if you’re going vegetarian. You can use any single cheese you want. I think the smokiness of the chedder added a lot to it, though. Smoked gouda might work well, too. If you’ve never worked with phillo dough, be sure to read the hints on the box, about working quickly, and keeping the unused layers with a moistened towel — if the dough gets dried out (which doesn’t take much), you might as well be working with newspaper. You can omit the eggs — which I did, by mistake — to save even more calories, but they help firm up the potatoes, and make it much easier to cut. Either way, it’s delicious.

1 bunch asparagus, trimmed
4 fist-sized yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced
1 leek, cleaned and chopped
3 ounces smoked chedder cheese
3 ounces fontina
4 tablespoons butter
½ cup chicken broth
3 eggs
1 package phillo pastry
salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 350°. Bring two pots of water to boil, one for the potatoes (boil for about 10 minutes or until soft), one for the asparagus (parboil for 4 minutes). Saute the chopped leek in one tablespoon of the butter until softened, and melt the rest (either in a small pan, or in the microwave). Mash the potatoes, adding in the chicken stock, and the shredded cheeses, as if you’re making mashed potatoes.  Add the leeks, and the eggs, and mix until smooth.

Start lining a baking pan, or, ideally, a rectangular tart pan with a removable bottom, with the layers of phillo, spreading a little of the melted butter between layers, overlapping the edge of the pan. Keep layering until you have 6-10 layers. Spread the mashed potatoes into the middle, and smooth. Press a single layer of asparagus into the potatoes, and moisten with any of the butter left over. Fold over the hanging bits of the phillo to form a flakey crust.

Put the pan in the bottom of the oven, and cook for 20-30 minutes, then let it cool for at least 10 minutes.


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