Friday, October 31, 2008

Roast Kabocha Squash with Cheese & Sausage

This one makes a great presentation for Halloween. Hope you all have a spooky one!

In our last CSA box we received a beautiful Kabocha squash (which I'll admit I originally thought was a pumpkin). Matt immediately knew that he wanted to prepare it similar to the Roast Pumpkin with Cheese "Fondue" that he found on Gourmet. 
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Basically, you clean out a pumpkin (or squash), fill it with bread, cheese, cream & chicken stock & then let the whole thing cook in the oven until the filling is melted & creamy & the squash is soft. We decided to add an extra component & put some cooked Italian sausage to the filling (because we love our pork!). Everything is scooped out & served together.
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This was one fantastic dish! Perfect for a cold winter's coming kind of night. We love, love, loved the Kabocha squash, it has a sweet yet nutty flavor that worked well with the cheeses. The addition of the sausage really added great flavor to the dish & I think helped elevate it from a side dish to a entrée.

The Gourmet recipe had you cook this in the lower third of the oven but we found that just made the bottom of our squash cook faster than the top so I would do it in the center of the oven next time.

Roast Kabocha Squash with Cheese & Sausage
(All the quantities of the filling ingredients are approximate, the amount you use will be based on the size of your squash.)

4.5 lb Kabocha squash (or pumpkin)
1/2 c chicken or vegetable broth
3/4 c heavy cream
pinch of nutmeg
6 oz of grated cheese (we used a mixture of gruyere & swiss)
7 - 10 1/2-inch slices of baguette, toasted until just crisp
4 oz bulk Italian sausage, cooked
olive oil

Preheat the oven to 450 F. Oil a roasting pan or baking sheet with sides.

Cut open your squash at the top with about a 3-inch circle. Clean out the pulp & seeds from the inside & & top.

Whisk the broth, cream & nutmeg together.

Place a layer of bread slices inside the squash. Top with some of the cheese & sausage then pour a some of the cream mixture over to soften the bread. Continue these layers until you have filled the squash about 1/2-inch from the top. Place the top bake on the squash.
IMG_8365Put the squash on your prepared pan & rub olive oil all over the skin. Bake for 1 - 1 1/2 hours of until the squash is tender. The filling will puff up & spill over the side while cooking.
IMG_8372Scoop the filling into bowls & top with squash.

Serves 2 - 4

Our squash was quite thick so there wasn't a huge inside to fill. We had enough filling with squash for the two of us but also had about 2 cups of roast squash left over to use in other things.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Sweet Potato Baklava

One of the reasons I've been playing around so much with sweet potatoes lately is because Saturday night we are going to the Cookin' Minnesota "No Flu For You" Dinner. We were given a list of ingredients that are said to have properties that help you stay healthy during the flu season & were asked to make something using one or more of the ingredients. I am doing a dessert & thought sweet potato seemed like the perfect ingredient (leafy greens not so much). I'm not exactly sure where I got the idea to layer my Sweet Potato Butter in baklava but I thought it would pair really well with nuts & honey (& bonus points, honey is another No Flu ingredient!). 
Sweet Potato Baklava
I've never made baklava before so I looked around on the web & found this recipe on Allrecipes which seemed like a good starting point. I still ran into some questions about the actual layering which Joy of Cooking was able to answer (seriously I think I rarely run into a cooking question that Joy can't answer).
Sweet Potato Baklava
This baklava turned out really well & I think looks fabulous. I was right about how the sweet potato would taste with the other ingredients. I actually liked this version better than most I've ever had in restaurants, that added component just seems so right. Making baklava was easier than I thought too with the most tedious part being shelling the pistachios. This seems to be the winning choice to take on Saturday.

Sweet Potato Baklava

Phyllo dough (I used 11 sheets, cut in half to make 22)
2 oz chopped nuts (I used pistachios but you can use whatever you like)
1/4 c butter melted
1/8 t cinnamon
1/2 c Sweet Potato Butter (get the recipe here)
1/4 c water
1/4 c sugar
2 T honey
1/8 t vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Butter the bottom & sides of a 8" x 6" glass baking pan.

Mix the chopped nuts & cinnamon together.

Cut the phyllo sheets to fit your baking pan. Keep them covered with a damp cloth while you are working so they don't dry out. Lay two sheets on the bottom of your pan & brush them generously with butter. Repeat this 3 more times (you will have used 8 sheets of phyllo). Spread the Sweet Potato Butter over the phyllo creating a thin even coat. Lay two more sheets of phyllo on top of the sweet potato & butter them. Sprinkle about 2 tablespoons of the nuts on top. Repeat the phyllo, butter & nut layer two more times (you will have used 14 sheets of phyllo). Place two more sheets of phyllo on top of the last layer of nuts & generously brush with butter, repeat this layer 3 more times (you will have used all 22 sheets of phyllo).

Use a sharp knife to cut the baklava into squares, make sure to cut through to the bottom. Bake for 45 - 50 minutes or until crispy & golden.

When baking the baklava, bring the water & sugar to boil in a small pan. Boil & stir until the sugar is melted. Reduce the heat to low & add the honey & vanilla. Allow to simmer for 20 minutes until it is thickened. Remove from heat. Spoon this sauce over the baklava right after you take it from the oven.

Allow the baklava to cool completely before serving.

Makes 8 1"x 2" pieces

More ways to use Sweet Potato Butter

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Making Pizza with the Daring Bakers

Matt & I love to make homemade pizza. We have a crust recipe we love & enjoy experimenting with toppings. So, when we saw this month's Daring Bakers challenge (hosted by Rosa's Yummy Yums) was pizza we felt a little, well, unchallenged. Then I took a look at the crust recipe from The Bread Baker's Apprentice & saw it was quite a bit more challenging than our usual crust with its kneading & overnight in the fridge plus we were supposed to try throwing it for a more authentic crust.
Daring Bakers Pizza
Ok, so making the dough went pretty easy especially using my Kitchen Aid to do the kneading. We made half a batch putting one ball in the fridge to use the next day & freezing the other two for later use. Day 2, we rested the dough another 2 hours, heated our pizza stone & got ready to throw. This is were things went wrong. We just could not throw this dough, it basically just kept sticking to it self & then got a hole. At that point the dough had been worked so much we had to let it rest again before we could roll it out (we were starving at this point). In the end we just stretched it our on our pizza paddle by hand.
Daring Bakers PizzaDaring Bakers Pizza
We topped the pizza with my Roasted Pepper & Tomato Sauce, some homemade Italian sausage, basil & mozzarella to get the flavor of our favorite pizza at Punch, a wonderful Neapolitan pizzeria in the Twin Cities. The dough slid off the pizza paddle & on to the pizza stone easily thanks to a lot of cornmeal (I was a little worried about this) & 5 minutes later we finally got to eat.

The pizza was good, mainly thanks to the toppings but we felt the crust was just too thin & really didn't taste that special at all. I think we'll stick to the crust we usually make since we love it & can have pizza in two hours instead of two days.

BASIC PIZZA DOUGH
Original recipe taken from “The Bread Baker’s Apprentice” by Peter Reinhart.

Makes 6 pizza crusts (about 9-12 inches/23-30 cm in diameter).



Ingredients

4 1/2 Cups (20 1/4 ounces/607.5 g) Unbleached high-gluten (%14) bread flour or all purpose flour, chilled
1 3/4 Tsp Salt

1 Tsp Instant yeast
1/ 4 Cup Olive oil or vegetable oil (both optional, but it’s better with)

1 3/4 Cups (14 ounces/420g or 420ml) Water, ice cold (40° F/4.5° C
1 Tb sugar
Semolina/durum flour or cornmeal for dusting



DAY ONE
Method
1. Mix together the flour, salt and instant yeast in a big bowl (or in the bowl of your stand mixer).


2. Add the oil, sugar and cold water and mix well (with the help of a large wooden spoon or with the paddle attachment, on low speed) in order to form a sticky ball of dough. On a clean surface, knead for about 5-7 minutes, until the dough is smooth and the ingredients are homogeneously distributed. If it is too wet, add a little flour (not too much, though) and if it is too dry add 1 or 2 teaspoons extra water.

NOTE: If you are using an electric mixer, switch to the dough hook and mix on medium speed for the same amount of time.The dough should clear the sides of the bowl but stick to the bottom of the bowl. If the dough is too wet, sprinkle in a little more flour, so that it clears the sides. If, on the contrary, it clears the bottom of the bowl, dribble in a teaspoon or two of cold water.
The finished dough should be springy, elastic, and sticky, not just tacky, and register 50°-55° F/10°-13° C.
3. Flour a work surface or counter.  Line a jelly pan with baking paper/parchment. Lightly oil the paper.


4. With the help of a metal or plastic dough scraper, cut the dough into 6 equal pieces (or larger if you want to make larger pizzas).

NOTE: To avoid the dough from sticking to the scraper, dip the scraper into water between cuts.


5. Sprinkle some flour over the dough. Make sure your hands are dry and then flour them.  Gently round each piece into a ball.

NOTE: If the dough sticks to your hands, then dip your hands into the flour again.


6. Transfer the dough balls to the lined jelly pan and mist them generously with spray oil. Slip the pan into plastic bag or enclose in plastic food wrap.


7. Put the pan into the refrigerator and let the dough rest overnight or for up to thee days.

NOTE: You can store the dough balls in a zippered freezer bag if you want to save some of the dough for any future baking. In that case, pour some oil(a few tablespooons only) in a medium bowl and dip each dough ball into the oil, so that it is completely covered in oil. Then put each ball into a separate bag. Store the bags in the freezer for no longer than 3 months. The day before you plan to make pizza, remember to transfer the dough balls from the freezer to the refrigerator.


DAY TWO
8. On the day you plan to eat pizza, exactly 2 hours before you make it, remove the desired number of dough balls from the refrigerator. Dust the counter with flour and spray lightly with oil. Place the dough balls on a floured surface and sprinkle them with flour. Dust your hands with flour and delicately press the dough into disks about 1/2 inch/1.3 cm thick and 5 inches/12.7 cm in diameter. Sprinkle with flour and mist with oil. Loosely cover the dough rounds with plastic wrap and then allow to rest for 2 hours.


9. At least 45 minutes before making the pizza, place a baking stone on the lower third of the oven.  Preheat the oven as hot as possible (500° F/260° C). 

NOTE: If you do not have a baking stone, then use the back of a jelly pan. Do not preheat the pan.


10. Generously sprinkle the back of a jelly pan with semolina/durum flour or cornmeal. Flour your hands (palms, backs and knuckles). Take 1 piece of dough by lifting it with a pastry scraper. Lay the dough across your fists in a very delicate way and carefully stretch it by bouncing it in a circular motion on your hands, and by giving it a little stretch with each bounce. Once the dough has expanded outward, move to a full toss.

 NOTE: Make only one pizza at a time.
During the tossing process, if the dough tends to stick to your hands, lay it down on the floured counter and reflour your hands, then continue the tossing and shaping. 
In case you would be having trouble tossing the dough or if the dough never wants to expand and always springs back, let it rest for approximately 5-20 minutes in order for the gluten to relax fully,then try again.
You can also resort to using a rolling pin, although it isn’t as effective as the toss method.


11. When the dough has the shape you want (about 9-12 inches/23-30 cm in diameter - for a 6 ounces/180g piece of dough), place it on the back of the jelly pan, making sure there is enough semolina/durum flour or cornmeal to allow it to slide and not stick to the pan.


12. Lightly top it with sweet or savory toppings of your choice.


13. Slide the garnished pizza onto the stone in the oven or bake directly on the jelly pan. Close the door and bake for abour 5-8 minutes.

NOTE: After 2 minutes baking, take a peek. For an even baking, rotate 180°.

If the top gets done before the bottom, you will need to move the stone or jelly pane to a lower shelf before the next round. On the contrary, if the bottom crisps before the cheese caramelizes, then you will need to raise the stone or jelly.


14. Take the pizza out of the oven and transfer it to a cutting board or your plate. In order to allow the cheese to set a little, wait 3-5 minutes before slicing or serving.

Other pizzas we've made...

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Orange-Glazed Autumn Pork Loin

I wish I had a way to send everyone who reads this blog a little taste of this dish, we enjoyed it that much. When acorn squash, sage & orange were chosen as this month's Royal Foodie Joust ingredients I wasn't quite sure how to bring them all together. But Matt on the other hand, came up with the idea for this squash stuffed pork loin right away.
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He's stuffed pork with dried fruit in the past & thought why not do it with the squash. It certainly creates a beautiful presentation when the pork is sliced & the flavor of the squash goes so well with the pork. But the real star of this dish is the Orange Glaze, its sweet & tangy and goes perfectly with both the pork & the squash.
IMG_8403
Orange-Glazed Autumn Pork Loin

1 1/4lb center cut pork loin
2/3 c roasted acorn squash, puréed (any other squash would work as well)
1/4 c + 1 T freshly squeezed orange juice
1 T vegetable oil
salt 
pepper
10 fresh sage leaves
1/4 c unsalted butter
1/2 c brown sugar
pinch ground ginger

Preheat the oven to 375 F. 

Use a small sharp knife to cut a pocket into the middle of the pork loin, do not cut all the way through the other end, this will help hold the filling in. Use you fingers to make the pocket wider on the inside while still leaving the opening rather small.
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Mix the puréed squash with the 1 tablespoon orange juice. Put the squash into a piping bag (or a plastic bag with the corner cut out). Fill the pocket in the pork with the squash. 
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Put the oil in a small baking pan & place the pork in it. Salt & pepper the pork then lay the sage leaves across the top. Brush a little of the oil from the pan all over the pork. Place into the oven & bake for 40 minutes.
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While the pork is cooking make the glaze. Put the 1/4 c orange juice, butter, brown sugar & ginger into a small sauce pan. Bring to a boil & stir until the sugar dissolves. Turn the heat to low & allow to simmer for about 20 minutes. Remove from heat & set aside.

When the pork has cooked for 40 minutes spoon some glaze over the top & return it to the oven for another 20 minutes or until a thermometer reads 160 F.

Allow the pork to rest for 5 minutes. Carefully cut into slices without pushing down & squeezing out the squash. Serve with remaining glaze & a few sage leaves as garnish.

Serves 2 - 4

Thanks to The Leftover Queen & everyone on the Foodie Blogroll for another tasty joust.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Sweet Potato Pancakes

Yesterday I made Matt a Sunday morning breakfast of Sweet Potato Pancakes using our Sweet Potato Butter. The pancakes came out light & fluffy with a wonderful sweet potato flavor. I found them to be a little richer than our banana pancakes. Matt really liked them with cinnamon infused maple syrup.
Sweet Potato Pancakes

Sweet Potato Pancakes

1 1/2 c Bisquick
1/2 t cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
1 c Sweet Potato Butter (get the recipe here)
1 egg
3/4 - 1 c buttermilk
1/4 t vanilla

In a medium bowl whisk the Bisquick, cinnamon & nutmeg together.

In another bowl mix together the sweet potato butter, egg, 3/4 c buttermilk & vanilla. Stir this wet mixture into the dry mixture until just blended. If the batter seems to thick add more buttermilk 1 T at a time until you reach the desired consistency.

Makes 12 pancakes

More ways to use Sweet Potato Butter

Weekly Menu 10/27 - 10/31

We got our first taste of winter here this weekend.
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Look at those snow flurries from Sunday! For us that just means time for lots of good soups, stews & root vegetables in front of the fire.

On to Menu Planning Monday...

Roast Kabocha Squash with Cheese & Sausage - based on this recipe from Gourmet magazine

Sweet Potato & Chicken Curry - A Rachael Ray recipe that we love

Cream of Tomato Soup with Puff Pastry - From Soup's On!: 75 Soul-Satisfying Recipes from Your Favorite Chefs

Honey Sesame Chicken -A recipe I found on Equal Opportunity Kitchen.

We'll also be having this month's Recipes to Rival Challenge but I can't tell you what it is yet.

We are continuing our series on how to use Sweet Potato Butter with Sweet Potato Pancakes, Sweet Potato Baklava & whatever else we can dream up.

I haven't figured out what this week's cupcake will be yet so it'll be as much a surprise to you as to me ;)

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Sweet Potato, Oatmeal & Chocolate Muffins

It seems Matt got inspired to use the Sweet Potato Butter in baking too since he disappeared into the kitchen last night & suddenly there were these amazing smells wafting out. What finally appeared from the oven were these golden brown muffins.
Sweet Potato, Oatmeal & Chocolate Muffins
He remembered a Banana, Oatmeal & Chocolate Muffin that his mom used to make & thought the Sweet Potato Butter would make a good substitute for the banana. He couldn't find a recipe that was exactly what he was looking for so he adapted this one from Cookbook Junkie.

The sweet potato was a good substitute for the banana though the flavor is much more subtle (it may have been a little overpowered by the chocolate but the chocolate is oh so good). The batter was quite heavy & Matt expected a much denser muffin but these actually came out relatively light & fluffy. These muffins were super yummy & its such treat for me to have Matt cook up a sweet.

Sweet Potato, Oatmeal & Chocolate Muffins

1/2 c all-purpose flour
2/3 c oats
2 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
1/8 t cinnamon
1/2 c semisweet chocolate chips
2 1/2 T vegetable oil
1/4 c sugar
1/4 c brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 c sweet potato butter (get the recipe here)

Preheat oven to 400 F. Prepare 6 muffin tins with either cupcake papers or by greasing them.

In a medium bowl mix the flour, oats, baking soda, salt, cinnamon & chocolate chips.

In another bowl whisk together the oil, sugar, brown sugar, egg & sweet potato butter.

Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture & stir until just combined. Divide between 6 muffin tins. Bake for 20 minutes or until the muffins are golden brown & a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow to cool on a rack.

Makes 6 muffins

I think we may have a Sweet Potato Butter series starting here...
Sweet Potato Butter
Sweet Potato Cupcakes with Goat Cheese & Honey Frosting

Friday, October 24, 2008

Sweet Potato Cupcake with Goat Cheese & Honey Frosting

The idea for this cupcake came from my wanting to bake using the sweet potato butter I made earlier this week. Then I was chatting with Kris at To Be Mrs Marv & she mentioned a pumpkin cookie with a goat cheese & honey filling. That got me thinking that goat cheese & honey would make a fantastic frosting for the sweet potato cupcakes . I had hoped to make this my Iron Cupcake - Cheese entry but got a little behind this month & missed the entry date by 2 hours.
Sweet Potato Cupcake with Goat Cheese & Honey Frosting
We are torn on the finished cupcake here at Chez Good Appetite. Matt & I agree the cupcake is fabulous! The flavor of the sweet potato butter with just that little bit of cinnamon & allspice in it really comes through, especially since I used a little as filling too. The cake is nice & fluffy like a cupcake not heavy like a muffin.
Sweet Potato Cupcake with Goat Cheese & Honey Frosting
Where we are torn is the frosting. Matt thinks it tastes too strongly of goat cheese & doesn't like it. I really like it & think the tartness of the goat cheese perfect with the sweet cupcake. I think the honey gives the frosting a subtle sweetness that sugar wouldn't.

I would definitely make these cupcakes again but would probably make a cream cheese frosting for them so that everyone in the house will be happy.

Sweet Potato Cupcakes
(adapted from Small Batch Baking)

1/4 c + 2 t sweet potato butter (get the recipe here
1/8 t baking soda
1/8 t baking powder
1/4 t vanilla
1 egg yolk
1/2 c flour
6 T sugar
1/8 t salt
2 T unsalted butter, at room temp

Preheat oven to 350 F. Prepare 4 muffin tins.

In a small bowl mix the 1/4 c sweet potato butter, baking soda & baking powder together. Mix in vanilla & egg yolk & set aside.

In another bowl whisk the flour, sugar & salt together. Add the butter & 1/2 the sweet potato mixture & beat until light & fluffy. Add the remaining sweet potato mixture & beat a few more seconds.

Put about 1 heaping tablespoon of the batter in each muffin tin, smooth out to flatten. Spoon 1/2 t of sweet potato butter on top of the batter in each tin. Top with remaining batter.

Bake for 23 minutes or until golden brown & a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow to cool on a rack completely before frosting.

Makes 4 cupcakes

Goat Cheese & Honey Frosting

3 oz goat cheese, at room temp
1 T unsalted butter, at room temp
1 1/2 T honey

Put everything in a bowl & beat with a mixer until smooth & creamy.

Frosts 4 cupcakes.
Sweet Potato Cupcake with Goat Cheese & Honey Frosting

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Peppery Rump Roast with Cider Jus

While looking for some Italian sausage in the freezer I realized I had two rump roasts in there that probably needed to be used soon. I decided I wanted to cook it low & slow in the crock pot. I found this recipe on All Recipes & thought the mixture of spices would give the beef a nice kick. I felt the recipe didn't have enough liquid in it & was afraid the meat would dry out so I added quite a bit more. I also used apple cider as my cooking liquid to give the juices a little sweetness to play against the peppery spices.
Peppery Rump Roast with Cider Jus
The meat got nice & tender with just the right amount of spice. It did need the jus to add a little more juiciness. Matt would have liked the juice to actually be more of a gravy so next time we may cook it down a bit after removing the meat & add a thickner.

We served the beef with steamed Delicata Squash which we'd never had before (it so fits its name with its delicate sweet taste) & some greens sautéed with garlic chips. It was such a warming meal to have after standing outside on a cold evening watching the Coen brothers film their new movie "A Serious Man" in our neighborhood.
On the set

Peppery Rump Roast with Cider Jus

1/2 T ground black pepper
1/2 T paprika
1 t chili powder
1/4 t celery salt
1/4 t ground cayenne
1/4 t garlic powder
1/8 t mustard powder
1 lb rump roast
1 c apple cider
1 c water

Mix the pepper, paprika, chili powder, celery salt, cayenne, garlic powder & mustard powder. Rub all over the outside of the roast. Place the roast in the crock pot. Add water & cider. Cover & cook on low for 5 - 6 hours. When meat is tender remove from the pot. Serve with juices.

Serves 2 - 3

What we did with CSA box #12 & what's in box #13

Because we were traveling we still have some of this box left, carrots, onions & such. I did freeze the spinach & also half of the butternut squash.
What we did with CSA box #12
1. The Box 2. Panini with Proscuitto, Figs, Cream Cheese & Red Onions 3. Roasted Pepper & Tomato Sauce 4. Honey Soy Stir-Fry 5. Butternut Squash Risotto 6. Curried Cauliflower with Chickpeas & Tomatoes 7. Creamy Chicken Wild Rice Soup 8. Pasta with Sausage & Butternut Squash

On to box # 13....
What's in CSA Box #13
Spinach - Once again I'll probably blanch & freeze this to use later especially since this is the last spinach of the year.
Sauté Mix - We just love this sautéed up as a side, tonight I did it with fired garlic chips, yum.
Carrots - I have a lot of carrots in the fridge so it might be time for some cake.
Romanesco - This stuff is just so cool.
Romanesco
Apparently its best just steamed so most likely that is how we'll eat it.
Rainbow Kale - I've been waiting for more kale to make this Potato Soup with Kale & Chorizo.
Leeks - Not sure on exact dish for these yet, I love leeks in so many things.
Delicata Squash - We just ate the ones we got in our last box tonight & this is one tasty squash just roasted in a little water.
Red Potatoes - Some might be roasted & perhaps the rest will be in soup.
Fennel - I'm thinking a potato & fennel gratin might be called for.
Kabocha Squash - Matt would like to fill this with cheese & bread & bake it.
Peppers - I'm thinking about filling some of these with cheese & roasting them in the oven
Garlic - Used in everything
Broccoli - Probably this will just be a side for us steamed.

Sweet Potato Butter

While we were in Texas we stopped in one of those shops that has all sorts of things out for you to taste; hot sauce, salsa, prickly pear jam, etc... One of the things they had was sweet potato butter & Matt loved it. We decided instead of buying a jar that we'd try to make our own when we got back. Well, I didn't wait & picked up some sweet potatoes yesterday to whipped up a batch.
Sweet Potato Butter
Making this butter is just as easy as making applesauce. You only have one extra step in that you have to roast the sweet potatoes first. It came out wonderfully, to me it tastes like fall, if that makes any sense. The smell that fills your house while making it is amazing with the cinnamon & allspice. I was a little worried while it was cooking that it tasted too much like apples from the apple cider but as it cooks down the flavor of the sweet potatoes takes center stage.

Sweet Potato Butter

3 large sweet potatoes, about 3 cups mashed (We used Jersey Sweets because they are our favorite but use what you like. An oranger potato will give you an oranger butter than ours.)
2 c apple cider (not sweetened)
1 c sugar
1 heaping t ground cinnamon
1/4 t ground allspice

Preheat oven to 400 F. Poke a few holes in the sweet potatoes & bake for about 1 hour or until soft.

Peel the roasted potatoes, put them in a large pot & mash them with a potato masher or fork. Add the cider & sugar & bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Add the cinnamon & allspice. Reduce the heat to low & allow to simmer for about 2 hours stirring from time to time. The mixture should thicken to a thick mashed potato-like texture as the liquid cooks out. Use an immersion blender (or stand blender) to get all the lumps out & get a perfectly smooth texture.

Makes about 3 cups

Sweet Potato Butter should be stored in the refrigerator.

Matt wants to eat this just spread on toast or in his oatmeal (when his isn't just eating it by the spoonful). I plan on using it to making cupcakes & perhaps some cookies.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Bring on another pound of brisket....

We are back from our long weekend down in Austin, TX. Now if you had asked us we would
have told you we were going there for Maker Faire but you know the real reason was the barbecue. Oh, we did eat our share...
First stop was Cooper's in Llano, TX which is out in Hill Country. People line up here to get their pick of whatever is on the pits that day.
Choose your meat
We chose pork ribs, pork loin, brisket & sausage though we also could have had beef ribs, steaks, prime rib,  pork chops, goat, chicken & ham. Then you can have them dip them in thin sauce if you want. Bring your tray of meat inside where they cut it up as needed & charge you by the pound. Sides are the classic potato salad & cole slaw with all the beans & white bread you want for free. You sit down at a communal picnic table & eat right off your paper placemat.
Barbecue
Our meal cost about $28 & I thought we had a lot of meat until the couple next to us sat down with $60 worth! This was probably the best meat we had on the trip especially the brisket which was fall apart tender. I have to say the sausage was a real surprise to us & super tasty. We heard from some people around us that the goat was great so we wished we'd tried it too.

The next day it was off to the Salt Lick in Driftwood, TX. Here you sit down & chose your meat & sides from a menu though it is by no means anything but casual. You can order your food family-style all-you-can-eat or just get a plate which includes meal, bread, coleslaw, potato salad & beans.
Salt Lick
We went for the combination plates with sausage, pork ribs & brisket. We figured 3/4 pound of meat each was enough & we didn't need all-you-can eat. The sauce here was nice & tangy (which is apparently usual for Texas) & we really liked their potato salad. I liked their pork ribs though Matt thought they could be more tender. The brisket was what we were more traditionally used to though I thought mine was a bit dry. All-you-can-eat here costs $18.95 person while a plate was $11.95. 

Monday night we went to Lambert's in downtown Austin for some "fancy barbecue." Lambert's is a nice sit-down restaurant in an old restored building yet still features wonderful barbecued meat. Here we could chose our meat either smoked or grilled & then choose family style sides. Really it was the salads & sides that made this places food a little fancier. None of the other barbecue places are offering beet & goat cheese salads or green beans in brown butter.
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They give you really generous portions of the meat & then your choice of sauces to dress it up if you wish. This was the only place we went to that offered pulled pork (which I had & it was so good). You pay a little more for the ambience & fancier food here, meat choices started at $12 & I think went up to $40 & that does not include your sides which are family-style & cost $6 each. It was kind of funny to come back from a nice dinner out & smell you've been sitting right next to the smoker.

I'm afraid we may need to go on a meat free diet for a few days after this trip....

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Honey Soy Stir-Fry

We got home late the other night after spending the day driving around looking at the fall colors & getting more apples. I had planned to make a dish for dinner with chickpeas only to discover that I didn't have any chickpeas (so much for my good shopping list). Since we had lots of nice fresh veggies in the fridge from the latest CSA box we decided to whip up a quick stir-fry. Matt is the maker of stir-fry sauce in our house. I told him I wanted something salty & sweet & he came up with this super simple sauce. It was exactly what I asked for yet not so strong that it overpowers the flavor of the vegetables.
Honey Soy Stir-Fry

Honey Soy Stir-Fry

3 - 4 cup vegetables of your choice, sliced (we used bok choy, carrots, broccoli, multicolored sweet peppers & scallions)
2 T olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
2 T low-sodium soy sauce
3 T honey
1 T cornstarch

Heat the olive oil in a wok over high heat. Add the garlic & cook until fragrant. Add the vegetables & cook until crisp tender. Stir in the soy sauce & honey. Dissolve the cornstarch in a little cold water & stir in to the wok. Cook until the sauce thickens.
Serve over rice.

Serves 2

Monday, October 20, 2008

Weekly Menu 10/20 - 10/25/08 & Paninis

Now that it is chillier I'm on a panini kick, I just love a warm sandwich for lunch. We don't have a special panini grill but we do have an iron panini press that we use will our grill pan.
Apple & Cheddar Panini
We just heat the pan & the press on the stove top & we are ready to go. You could even just heat two heavy pans & get the same result.
Apple & Cheddar Panini
As part of our apple craze this panini is made with cheddar, sliced apples & Dijon mustard.
fig, prosciutto & cream cheese panini
This one was exceptionally yummy. It had cream cheese, fig spread, prosciutto and red onions. It was the perfect mix of sweet & salty plus creamy & crunchy.

On to Menu Planning Monday....

We're still down in Austin, TX this Monday & Tuesday eating some good BBQ & Tex-Mex but Wednesday its back to our own kitchen.

Crock Pot Rump Roast in Au Jus - I just realized there are two rump roasts in the freezer I need to make.

Chicken Fingers & Roasted Vegetables with Indian BBQ Sauce

Creamy Chicken Wild Rice Soup - Making a pot of this is a true sign that cold weather is upon us.

Pork Tenderloin Stuffed with Acorn Squash - This will hopefully be our entry for the Royal Foodie Joust

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Bacon & Egg Bread Pudding

Yes, its another take on bread pudding, this time for breakfast. This actually started out as a joke from Matt saying that I'd made a dinner version & a dessert version now I just needed breakfast. Well. I started thinking about it & realized that the breakfast casserole that my family has every Christmas morning is basically a bread pudding so why not create my own breakfast version.
Bacon & Egg Bread Pudding
This bread pudding gives you your eggs, toast & bacon all in one dish plus everything is coated in gooey melted cheddar cheese. Whipped up the night before & refrigerated, it made for a weekend breakfast treat.

Bacon & Egg Bread Pudding


3 slices of bacon, chopped
2 c bread cut into 1/2-inch cubes
4 eggs
1/2 c milk
1.5 oz grated cheddar
salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Cook the bacon in a skillet until it is crispy. Drain on a paper towel & set aside until cool.

In a bowl mix together the cooled bacon, bread & 1 oz of the cheese. Divide between to 1 1/2 c ramekins. Whisk the eggs & milk together, salt & pepper. Pour over the bread in the ramekins. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top. Let sit for at least 30 minutes for the bread to soak in the milk & egg. You can also make these the night before, cover with plastic wrap & refrigerate.

Bake for  35 - 45 minutes until the pudding is puffed up & golden brown.

serves 2

Friday, October 17, 2008

Pomegranate Applesauce

We've finished our first batch of applesauce already so it was time to head to the orchard to get more apples & make another batch.
#287 - pomegranate applesauce
This time I decided to flavor it with pomegranate juice since I had 1/2 a bottle of it in the fridge. Plus isn't pomegranate really good for you? Since the juice already has quite a bit of sugars in it we added less than we did in the Ginger Peach Applesauce. The juice really makes this sauce a pretty pink color & gives the applesauce I nice little tang.
Applesauce
(look at the difference in color from the Ginger Peach version)

Pomegranate Apple Sauce

3 lbs apples (we used Haralson), peeled, cored & sliced
1 c pomegranate juice
1/4 c sugar

In a large soup pot or dutch oven melt the sugar in the pomegranate juice over medium-low heat. Add the apples & cover. Allow to cook at a low temperature until the apples break down, 20 - 40 minutes. Using a fork or potato masher, mash the apples from time to time throughout the cooking. Cooking time will vary based on how smooth you want your applesauce.
IMG_7931
Matt likes it on oatmeal for breakfast.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Roasted Pepper & Tomato Sauce

Since we've been getting these beautiful peppers from our CSA lately I've been wanting to make a roasted pepper & tomato sauce. Matt & I used to buy one that we used for a pizza sauce that we really liked but I hadn't seen it in the stores here. This sauce is quite chunky with the pieces of roasted pepper. I had all the herbs I need in the garden but if you don't use dried but only 1/2 the called for amount. It would be very good on pizza or pasta & Matt thinks it would be especially good with sausage. I got enough from this batch for 3 pizzas so I'll use some right away & froze the rest for later.
roasted pepper & tomato sauce

Roasted Pepper & Tomato Sauce

3 peppers (I used one medium red pepper, 1 Italia & 1 sweet yellow & ended up with about 1 1/2 c pepper after roasting)
1 T olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 large tomatoes, peeled, seeded & roughly chopped
2 T tomato paste
1 T red wine vinegar
1/4 t red pepper flakes
2 T fresh basil, minced
1 T fresh oregano, minced
2 T fresh flat leaf parsley, minced
salt & pepper

Roast the peppers over the flame of your gas range or on the grill or in the broiler until black. Put in a covered bowl or brown paper bag to steam for about 15 minutes. Under running water rub off the blackened skin. Seed the peppers & chop them. Set aside.
roasted pepper & tomato sauce
(I used a basket made for the grill to roast my peppers on the stove.)

In a soup pot heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions & garlic and cook until the onions are soft & translucent. Add the tomatoes, peppers, tomato paste & herbs. Simmer until the tomatoes break down, you can use your spoon to help this along. Let simmer while stirring from time to time until the sauce reaches your desired consistency. Salt & pepper to taste.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Pumpkin Brown Butter Cupcakes with Dulce de Leche Frosting

Last week I had plans to make a cupcake that looked like a candy corn but after two failed attempts I gave up. What I did find was this great recipe for pumpkin cupcakes. When I made this batch I decided to brown the butter to add a richer, nuttier flavor plus, I love browned butter with squash. I like this pumpkin cupcake because it comes out light & fluffy not heavier like a pumpkin bread of muffin.
Pumpkin Brown Butter Cupcakes with Dulce de Leche Frosting
Matt inspired the idea for the dulce de leche frosting by printing out a couple different recipes for dessert featuring it. I planned to go the simple route & just buy a can of it but the grocery store I was at didn't have any & I didn't feel like running from store to store looking. So, I ended up buying a can of sweetened condensed milk to make my own.
Making Dulce de Leche
This was our first time making dulce de leche & it was actually quite easy. You just take the label off a small can of condensed milk & poke two venting holes in the top. Place the can in a pot with the holes facing up. Put water in the pan up to 1/4 -inch from the top of the can. Bring the water to an easy simmer. Allow the can to simmer in the water for about 4 hours, adding more water as needed. The condensed milk will thicken & change to a dark golden brown.
Homemade Dulce de Leche
(I had a spoon of this in my coffee this morning, what a treat!)

Pumpkin Brown Butter Cupcakes
(adapted from Martha Stewart's Pumpkin Cupcakes)

1/4 c unsalted butter
1/2 c all-purpose flour
1/4 t baking soda
1/4 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
1/2 t cinnamon
1/4 t ground ginger
pinch of nutmeg
1 large egg
1/4 c brown sugar
1/4 c white sugar
3.5 oz pumpkin purée

Preheat oven to 350 F. Prepare 6 muffin tins.

In a small skillet melt the butter over medium-low heat. Cook the butter over low heat stirring from time to time until it is a golden brown & smells nutty. Keep an eye on it so it doesn't burn. Remove from the heat & allow it to cool.

In a small bowl whisk the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger & nutmeg together & set aside.

In another bowl lightly beat the egg. Whisk in the sugars & cooled butter. Add the dry ingredients & whisk until smooth. Finally whisk in the pumpkin & maple syrup.
1/4 T maple syrup

Divide the batter between the 6 prepared muffin tins. Bake for 20 -22 minutes, a toothpick inserted into the center should come out clean. Allow to cool completely on a rack before frosting.

Makes 6 cupcakes

Dulce de Leche Frosting

1/4 c unsalted butter, at room temp
2 T dulce de leche
1/2 t vanilla
1 c powdered sugar, plus more if needed

Beat everything together with an electric mixer on medium until smooth, about 3 minutes. If the frosting is not stiff enough add more powdered sugar 1 T at a time, beating for about a minute with each addition.

Makes enough to frost 6 cupcakes

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Curried Cauliflower with Chickpeas & Tomato

Matt is getting more & more in the habit of printing out recipe he finds online for us to try. It seems like almost everyday I walk into the kitchen & find a new one sitting on the counter. He found this wonderful curry recipe from Tyler Florence on Serious Eats' Dinner Tonight Section.
Curried Cauliflower with Chickpeas & Tomato
As far as curries go this one incredibly easy to make & really cooks up quickly (especially if like me you decide not to make ghee like the original recipe called for). We really liked the texture of the cauliflower against the soft chickpeas in the final dish. The flavors really mellow with cooking making this a really comforting dish. The cilantro added at the end added a bright flavor. I added some greens to the dish for color & the added healthiness.

Curried Cauliflower with Chickpeas & Tomato
(adapted from Tyler Florence)

2 T unsalted butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 T curry powder
1/2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled & minced
1 large tomato, seeded & chopped
1/2 c chicken broth (use water or vegetable broth to keep this dish vegetarian)
1 T tomato paste
1 15-oz can chickpeas
1/2 lb head of cauliflower, stem removed & chopped into florets
salt
2 c greens, such as spinach
fresh chopped cilantro for garnish

Meal the butter over medium heat in a soup pot. Add the onion, curry powder & ginger. Cook until the onion is soft.

Add the tomato & cook for 6 minutes.

Add the broth & tomato paste & stir. Add the chickpeas & cauliflower. Cover the pot & let simmer for 15 - 20 minutes, you want the cauliflower to be crisp tender. Uncover & allow to cook until the sauce is the desired thickness. Add salt as needed.

Serve over rice if desired. Sprinkle each serving with cilantro.

Makes 3 servings when served with rice

Monday, October 13, 2008

Weekly Menu 10/12 - 10/17/08 & Apple Galettes

Ok, I know my week of apple recipes is over but I couldn't resist sharing one more with you (I still have a peck of apples to play with). This Apple Galette was our Sunday night dessert. Warm cinnamony apples & a flaky crust...yum!
Apple Galette
Apple Galette

Crust

2/3 c all-purpose flour
pinch of salt
1 t sugar
1/4 c cold butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3 - 4 t cold water

Filling

1 large apple, peeled, cored & sliced into 1/4-inch sliced
6 t sugar
3 t flour
1/2 t lemon juice
1/8 t cinnamon
pinch of salt

1 T butter, melted

In a small bowl mix the flour, salt & sugar together. Add the butter & use your fingers to rub it into the flour until a coarse meal is formed. Add the cold water 1 teaspoon at a time until the dough forms into clumps. 

Make the dough into two balls & then flatten them into discs. Wrap in plastic wrap & let sit in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to 2 days. (If you let it chill longer than 30 minutes let it sit at room temp for about 15 minutes before rolling out.)

In another small bowl mix the apple slices, sugar, flour, lemon juice, cinnamon & salt. Let sit for about 15 minutes so the apples can soften a bit.

Preheat oven to 425 F. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone pad.

In a lightly floured surface roll the dough out to two 6-inch circles, about 1/8-inch thick (I roll it right out on my silicone pad so I don't have to move the finished galettes.) Divide the apples between the two dough circles leaving about 1-inch around the edges. Fold the edges up over the apples pleating as you go.  Brush the dough with the melted butter. Then pour the remaining butter over the apple filling.

Bake for 15 minutes until crusts are just beginning to color. Turn the oven down to 375 F & bake another 25 minutes, until apples are soft & crust is golden brown. Allow to cool a bit before eating.

Makes 2 individual galettes.

On to Menu Planning Monday...

A busy week for us...Wednesday night we're going out to The Corner Table to celebrate our two year wedding anniversary. Thursday we have a happy hour with Cookin' Minnesota at Bulldog N.E., now that place has some awesome burgers. Friday night we head off to Austin, TX for Maker Faire & some good BBQ!

Curried Cauliflower with Chickpeas & Tomato - from Tyler Florence

Autumn Pasta with Sausage & Butternut Squash - from Stacey Snacks

Roasted Pepper & Tomato Sauce - I'll probably use this on a pizza

Butternut Squash Risotto - After seeing all the Barefoot Bloggers post about this I need to make some

Honey Soy Stir-Fry - A really simple stir fry but so tasty

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Apples Foster

Day 7 in my week of apple recipes...

This simple dessert is a take on the classic Bananas Foster. I figured the flavors of brown sugar, cinnamon & rum would go together with apples just as well as bananas. And really isn't it fun to play with fire...
IMG_7822

Apples Foster

1 apple, peeled, cored & sliced thin
1 T salted butter
1/8 t cinnamon
1 1/2 t brown sugar
pinch of nutmeg
2 T rum

Melt the butter over medium low heat in a skillet. Add the apple slices & cook on low for about 10 minutes, stirring from time to time, until the apples are soft & just starting to color. Sprinkle the cinnamon, sugar & nutmeg over the apples & stir. Carefully pour in the rum (be especially carefully pouring liquor in a pan on a gas stove). Once the rum is hot set it one fire, use a lighter or torch with a long handle to keep from burning yourself. Turn off the stove & allow the rum to burn itself out. Pour over vanilla ice cream.

Serves 2
IMG_7825
(excuse the messy bowl but this dish melts fast so you have to be quick with the photo!)

We hope you enjoyed our week of apple recipes as much as we liked making them. We actually ended up heading back to the an orchard yesterday to pick up another peck!

Day 1 - Apple Waffles
Day 2 - Ginger Peach Applesauce
Day 3 - Baked Apples
Day 4 - Apple Turnovers
Day 5 - Apple Bread Pudding
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t = teaspoon
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