Thursday, May 31, 2007

Cooking for a Crowd

Earlier this month friends of our got married in Sonoma. As a wedding gift to them we offered to cater the rehearsal dinner picnic/bbq. Whew, cooking food for 60 people in a small apartment kitchen & then transporting it an hour away was quite the task. I have to say that all & all though we were happy with the results and everyone there seemed to enjoy the food.
The two things that went over best were the the New Potato salad with Shallots and Basil and the Wheat Berry Salad. Matt found the recipe for the potato salad on Apartment Therapy - The Kitchen. I have to say this is probably one of the best potato salads I've ever had, the dressing is amazing with the tartness of the sour cream & the sweetness of the honey, the basil really adds a favor that surprises people too. The recipe also increased well for a crowd, we made 30 pounds of it. I'll be making this one again. If you never visited Apartment Therapy - The Kitchen, you should, its got some great recipes.

The wheat berry salad was based on one I had at the De Young Museum in San Francisco. It also worked well for a crowd since nothing had to be chopped too small and the only thing that had to be cooked was the wheat berries.

Wheat Berry Salad

Serves 4

1 Cup Uncooked Wheat Berries
1 English cucumber
2 Cups Cherry Tomatoes
1 Medium Red Onion
1 Cup Crumbled Feta
Arugala or Spinach
Your Favorite Vinegarette

Soak the wheat berries overnight. The next day simmer them for about 1.5 hours or until they are el dente. Allow to cool.

Slice the cucumber into 1/4 rounds. Cut the onion into thin slices. Mix the onion cucumber and tomatoes with the wheat berries. Dress with the vinegarette. Serve on a bed of greens and sprinkle the feta on top.

At the De Young this also had beets in it which I thought was fantastic & will add for when we make it just for us but felt for the party not everyone might like beets.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

In praise of the Brussel Sprout*

* or Brussels Sprout whichever you prefer.

#128 - Brussel sprouts

I remember when I was younger my mother making Brussel Sprouts for herself & how awful we thought they were. Now quite a few years later I love them. I think the turn around came one year at the Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival. They grow a lot of Brussel Sprouts out there. A booth there was serving them sauted with garlic & they were so good. I guess just right then & there I decided to try making them myself. My favorite way of serving them in roasted in just olive oil and salt or with a little balsamic vinegar added. The flavor from the slow roasting is wonderful & they make a great addition to a roasted vegetable salad. I've also had them as part of an amazing chestnut stuffing for Trout at Maverick in San Fransisco. To top it off the are so good for you. If you always turned your nose up at this much hated vegetable, give it another chance you might be surprised. Now I just have to get Matt to appreciate them as much as I do.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Pasta with Butternut Squash & Brown Butter Sauce

With the pre-peeled and dice butternut squash available in the grocery store this recipe comes together really quickly. To me it tastes a lot like one of my favorite things to eat out, butternut squash ravioli in brown butter sauce. I think this recipe would be good even without the goat cheese.

pasta with butternut squash & brown butter sauce

Pasta with Butternut Squash and Brown Butter Sauce

serves 2

1 1/2 - 2 cups peeled & diced butternut squash
1 Tbls olive oil
2 cups uncooked penne
1/4 cup unsalted butter
10 fresh sage leaves torn into pieces
2 or so ounces goat cheese

Preheat oven to 400.
Put squash in a small baking dish. Coat with olive oil and sprinkle with a little salt. Roast for about 30 minutes stirring occasionally until the squash is soft and starting to brown.

When the squash has 11 minutes left put the penne into boil.

Meanwhile, melt the butter over medium heat until it becomes a golden color about 4 minutes careful not to let it burn. Add the sage and let it fry in the butter for 2 minutes. Add a pinch of nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste, cook 2 more minutes. The butter should be a light golden brown.

When the penne is al dente drain it & return it to the pot. Add the squash and butter sauce. Serve into bowls and crumble about an ounce of goat cheese over each serving. The heat from the pasta will melt the cheese.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Grown Up Mac & Cheese

I told Matt I'd cook him anything he wanted for dinner on his birthday & he said the first thing that came to mind was homemade Mac & Cheese. The addition of gryere or blue cheese, carmelized onions and cherry tomatoes makes this a grown up version of the classic.

My Mac & Cheese

Grown Up Mac & Cheese

Serves 4

3/4 lb spiral macaroni
1 medium onion
1 Tbs butter
1/8 C flour
1 C milk
1/2 C heavy cream
1 1/2 C grated cheddar cheese
3/4 C grated gryere (if you are a fan of blue cheese this recipe is also fabulous with a good blue cheese like Maytag)
dry mustard
1 C sweet grape tomatoes

Cook pasta according to directions drain and set aside.

Heat a small skillet over low heat. Slice onion very thin. Add onion to skillet and saute slowly until brown and carmelized. Mix into pasta.

In a small saucepan melt butter over med-low heat. Add flour an stir constantly for 1 minute. Do not allow to brown. Slowly whisk in milk and cream. Stir until hot and smooth and slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Turn heat to low and add cheese. Whisk until melted. Add a pinch of dry mustard and salt and pepper to taste.

Butter a glass casserole dish. Add pasta, onions, cherry tomatoes and cheese sauce. Mix well until cheese sauce covers everything. Sprinkle panko over the top.

Cook in a 350 oven for 25 minutes.
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t = teaspoon
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