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.


Whole Foods-like Tomato Bisque

Sat, Jan 17 • 0

Gourmet-Garden-Dill-TubeWhen I make this, I go to the trouble of peeling fresh tomatoes for this recipe, because I think the flavor benefits, but I know that’s more of a hassle than probably most people would go to. I usually start with two or three of the containers of fresh tomatoes that the sell at Costco. I’ll also shred the carrot using a food processor, but if you’d rather not dirty up your processor bowl, you can probably get away with finely dicing it. The vermouth is crucial for the flavor, so don’t skip it. And fresh dill can sometimes be really hard to find in the grocery store, but I’ve found a product that is a god-send … it’s fresh dill in a tube, like toothpaste, sold under the name “Gourmet Garden,” and I use it quite generously. You will find it in the produce department, and it works perfectly for this recipe. I’m told that this soup freezes well, but it’s never stayed around long enough for me to find out.

3-4 (or more) lbs fresh tomatoes, peeled and cored, or 3 large cans of organic tomatoes
1 large onion, chopped
3 or 4 large carrots, shredded
2 or 3 cloves of garlic
olive oil
½ c dry vermouth
fresh dill
salt and pepper to taste

If you’re starting with fresh tomatoes, boil a pot of water, and fill another bowl with cold water. Cut an X, or just slit the skin on the bottoms of the tomatoes. Dunk the tomatoes, 6-8 at a time, in the boiling water until the skin starts to loosen. (It’ll wrinkle and start to peel.) Remove them with a spider and cool them off in the bowl of cold water until you can handle them. Remove the peel, and the stem/core, and cut the tomatoes into quarters, reserving as much as the liquid as you can.

Saute onions until translucent, add carrots and saute a few more minutes. Add garlic, and stir until fragrant. Deglaze with vermouth. Add tomatoes, salt and pepper to taste, add a generous amount (1 T, at least) of fresh dill, chopped. Simmer for 30-45 minutes. Taste, adjust seasoning. Puree with a stick blender, or in blender in batches.


Cauliflower Soup

Tue, Oct 15 • 0

1 medium onion, chopped
1 leek, cleaned and chopped (white and light green parts only)
1 t salt
1½ T butter
1 cauliflower (about 2 lbs. trimmed, cut in half, and sliced into ½ inch pieces)
4½ c water

cauliflowerIn a large pot, sweat the onions and leeks with the butter for about 5 minutes with the salt. Add half of the cauliflower, along with the stem which you’ve peeled and sliced, and the water. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 15 or 20 minutes. Add the rest of the cauliflower, and simmer for another 15 minutes. Blend the soup with an immersion blender until smooth.

When thinking like a weight-watcher, the only thing that you have to calculate, points-wise is the butter. Since this recipe makes about 6 servings, that works out to about 2 points a serving. Note: Don’t be tempted to replace the butter with bacon drippings, or the water with chicken stock — the soup is pretty delicate, and the strong flavors of these two items will overwhelm the subtle flavors of the cauliflower.

This recipe is based on an article in the September, 2013 issue of Cooks Illustrated. The reason why this recipe works, apparently, is the two stage cooking method. Cooking cauliflower for 15 minutes brings out the bright, pungent, cabbage-like flavors, while cooking it for 30 minutes brings out its nutty side. By splitting it up, you get the best of both worlds, but since neither flavor is going to knock you out, you can’t use other overpowering flavors, like garlic, bacon drippings, or chicken stock. And the beauty of the cauliflower is that when blended, you get all the satisfying feeling of a creamy soup without adding any cream.

The Cook’s Illustrated recipe goes on to have you add another 5 or so tablespoons of browned butter, plus some little bits of cauliflower sauteed in it, with a touch of sherry vinegar, but since I’m watching my weight, I eschewed the extra butter for a lower calorie soup.

 


Roasted Summer Bounty Sauce

Sat, Jul 14 • 0

When the production of your garden really starts to kick in during the summer, it’s hard not to get overwhelmed with the bounty. This recipe helps, because by roasting down all of the vegetables, you intensify their flavor. And you’ll love the aroma of the roasting vegetables.

Aside from the tomatoes and the garlic, you can add or subtract any vegetable, depending on what you have too much of. Swap eggplant and/or zucchini in place of the carrots. Add some bell peppers if you have them.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. In a large roasting pan, combine:

6 pounds tomatoes (plums are best, but some additional cherry tomatos will sweeten the sauce), cored and quartered
1½ c. coarsely chopped carrots (optional)
1½ c. coarsely chopped celery (optional)
1½ c. coarsely chopped onions
9 cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped
6 T. balsamic vinegar
1 bay leaf
1½ t. each fresh thyme, oregano, basil, and parsley
1½ t. salt
1 T. freshly ground pepper

Roast all of these for 45 minutes or until everything is soft (I’ve left it going for almost 2 hours with no ill-effects). Remove the bay leaf and whatever herb stems you can find, and pulse in a food processor or blender or even a hand whizzer, but leave it slightly chunky. Freeze in 2 cup portions. Makes 2 quarts.


Frenchman’s Franks & Beans

Tue, Mar 29 • 0

1 T olive oil
1 large leek

1 stalk of celery, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 or 3 sprigs of thyme
1 sprig of rosemary
1 bay leaf
1 small to medium russet potato, peeled and quartered
stock
or water
1 cup puy lentils
bunch of fresh spinach, chopped fine

salt & pepper

3 T balsamic or other vinegar
1 lb. (4) sausages (optional for vegetarians)

Trim and clean the leek, concentrating on the white and pale part, and cutting it into a small dice. (Reserve some of the dark green part for later.) Put in a heavy bottomed sauce pan with olive oil and the celery and carrot, and cook until the leeks have gone soft, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, make a bundle of the herbs and tie it inside the reserved dark green leek with some kitchen string, add it and the potato, and the lentils to the pot, and cover with water or stock (or both). Simmer uncovered for about 30 minutes, monitoring to make sure the water doesn’t completely boil away before the lentils are tender but chewy.

Pierce the sausages with a fork, and cook them in a little simmering water, covered, for 5 or 10 minutes. Remove the lid, and let the water evaporate. If the sausages don’t shed enough grease while they are simmering, add a little butter or olive oil, and, turning frequently, brown over medium low heat.

When the lentils are tender, remove the herb bundle, and mash the potato (now softened) on the side of the pan to thicken the sauce. Add the chopped spinach and let it all cook down for another 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, taste for seasoning, and add the vinegar. Slice the sausages, and serve on top of the lentils.

One serving of the lentils is ½ cup, and is 3 points. One Whole Foods chicken sausage with basil and sun dried tomatoes is 4 points.


Roasted Delicata

Thu, Oct 21 • 0

In one way, I think my wife usually dreads the autumn, because that’s when I start doing things with winter squash. For the most part, she’s not into them. I think it has something to do with the way they sort of stick to your teeth, and their tendency to be sweet like sweet potatoes (also not on her list of favorites). So I was pretty surprised by her reaction to roasted and sliced delicata squash.

The delicata squash is ovoid in shape, with slight ribs running along its length. Their default color seems to be a light, creamy yellow, but that’s streaked with orange and green most times. They’re relatively easy to peel compared to most other winter squash, as the skin is smooth and mostly unblemished. I use a Y-peeler for the main body, pulling it towards me as I go, and a normal peeler for the rounded ends, which I trim off mostly anyway. I cut it in half, and core out the seeds and guts with a spoon. Then I slice the meat in quarter inch slices, toss them in olive oil and salt, and spread them on a foil lined baking sheet. I cook them in a hot oven, 425, for about an hour, tossing them halfway through.

The result is almost like french-fries, but with more fiber. She especially likes the dark and crispy caramelized parts. I bet if your kids don’t like to eat vegetables, they’ll dig these, too.


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.


Strawberry Jam

Wed, Mar 3 • 1

This jam in midwinter tastes as fresh as the berries tasted the previous summer. The secret is to make small batches and to not overcook. The jam tends to be thinner (excellent for pancakes or ice-cream topping!) and less gummy than store-bought, but the fresh flavor cannot be beat. If you prefer thicker jam, you might experiment with adding some pectin.

1 lb. fresh strawberries, blueberries, raspberries or other berries
2 cups sugar

Wash and clean berries, and place whole (do not crush!) into medium sized saucepan with 1 cup of sugar. Warm over low heat while stirring gently and occasionally until the sugar melts and forms a syrup. Turn heat up to medium high and bring to a boil until foam appears on the top. Skim the foam, add the second cup of sugar, and boil just until jam forms a sheet on the end of your spoon. (Do not overcook — if you do, the jam will slowly transform itself into something that tastes no different from store-bought!) Pour into sterilized jars (leave enough headroom for ice expansion), seal jars with sterilized jar lids, cool, and store in the freezer.


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.


Tom’s “da bomb” Alfredo

Sun, May 31 • 0

“Hey why don’t you put MY recipe on your site instead of just listing me as ‘my “other” brother?’  The homemade pasta thing is da bomb and this sauce makes it that much better..it’s basically your sauce with a few changes.  It’s turned out very well the last few times I tried it.  It is a Jeff smith recipe you showed us but with small, but important changes. I know You know how to do this recipe, but I was shocked at how much sweeter it was with the shallot not garlic.  Even when I watch it carefully, garlic seems to give some bitterness to it as the shallots and butter sweeten the alfredo really well.  When reduced, it makes a great sauce over the homemade pasta.  We added lobster that was already boiled earlier in the day.  (2 of them) and then added some sherry to make it more like a St Jaque recipe…mahvellous!”

3 or 4 tablespoons olive oil
2 SHALLOTS (not garlic)
1 small red onion finely chopped
3/4 cups whole milk (light cream)
3 tablespoons butter
finish with Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (handful)


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