Saturday, October 31, 2015

Squash with Browned Butter and Sage


Squash. That is what this post is about. I'm not trying to squash Halloween or its importance, but after all a pumpkin is a squash. But then squash is also a game and a drink and squashing can put down a rebellion. But I don't see any rebellions right now. So it is that it seems a good day to celebrate the squash. Be it acorn, spaghetti or kabocha; butternut, hubbard, delicata or turban. And I could go on because there are a lot of squashes to regale you about.

Let's just say that eating a squash is a good thing. I've always loved squash even when it came in little white boxes that were kept hidden in the freezer. These were then, without ceremony, dumped into a pot where they thawed and then were seasoned with margarine, dried chives and salt. Well, at least they were at 1054 S. Wildwood. I loved that dish that my mother "made" every fall. She then moved on to buying real acorn squash, which she cut into little rings and served  roasted with butter and brown sugar.

It doesn't take a lot to make squash taste good. Really, it doesn't. Squash is good without a lot of extras and for that I applaud the squash; bearer of goodness and simplicity. We all need more of that in our life! Squash is moving into the markets and from what I've seen it has been a banner year. I love looking at the different colors and shapes and always go way overboard to find the right one. Which of course I then cut up and eat! I really know how to squash the squash!


Whole Foods has a ton of them and lots of other great fall produce. It is time to celebrate fall and start thinking Thanksgiving. After all it wouldn't be a holiday without squash on my table. Yes, usually it is in the form of pie, but that is only because the sweet potato is so ugly that I felt sorry for it! Truthfully I love a change from potatoes-and I love potatoes-but squash gives me a reason to get some extra health into my diet. It is full of Vitamin C and A and tons of fiber. If you really want the skinny read more here.

Squash can be doctored up in so many ways, but I'm giving you the simple version. Much like what my mom used to do; only better. Sorry, Mom! I like to steam my squash in the oven which makes it much easier to mash. Just cut that bad boy straight down vertically, through the center. (Be careful and don't cut yourself!) Scoop out the seeds. If you want roast the seeds, because all squash seeds can be roasted just like pumpkin seeds. In a large shallow pan, with not even a 1/2 inch of water, turn those halves over with the cut side down. Now stick in the oven at 350 and bake until the squash is of desired doneness. How to tell? Just stick a fork in it! If it is soft, then your squash is done. I did this with a kabocha squash and it took about 45 minutes.

Now on to the recipe, if I can even call it that! And if you need a few more and want to see some examples of different squashes, check out the Whole Foods site.  Now go get squashin'!


Squash with Browned Butter and Sage
Serves 4-8
Time to Make: About 20 minutes prep and time to cook the squash
Ingredients:
4 c of your favorite squash, steamed and baked as above
1/3 c of fresh sage leaves
4 T of butter
2-4 T of chives
3/4 to 1 c chicken broth or heavy cream or a mixture (I used the broth. :()
1 t salt or to taste
some fresh grindings of nutmeg - optional
Various garnishes that appeal to you: Crisp bacon, chives, sage, pomegranate seeds, maple syrup, pumpkin seeds, green onions. toasted walnuts or pecans, or even peanuts, fried onion strings, chipotle chilies, etc.)

Directions:
Steam and bake squash as above. I ended up with 4 cups, so adjust accordingly. It is very hard to make this "wrong." Melt butter in skillet over medium high heat. Add sage leaves and try to keep them flat. You may have to flip them, but they will turn brown and crispy as the butter turns brown. Butter will start to sizzle. When it is brown, it will stop. Do not let it burn!Take sage leaves from skillet as they brown. (I could eat these all, sprinkled with a touch of salt.) Turn heat down to medium low. Scoop squash from skin, place in skillet and mash gently. Now using an immersion blender, puree the squash and browned butter together. Slowly mix in the broth or cream or both. Add salt, sage leaves and chives or whatever flavors you prefer. Mix together until warm. Garnish with your favorites! 
P.S. This is great made ahead and warmed in the microwave. It saves on oven space for Thanksgiving!

More to Try:
Simple Pumpkin Baked Oatmeal
Smoky Pumpkin Hummus
Pumpkin Chipotle Soup

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Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Easy Green Chile, Tomatillo and Chicken Stew


Friday night found me with Manservant arriving home late. Well, that is nothing new especially when he is dependent on an airplane. He flew in from Plano, (how exciting!) and barely made it out before the rains came forth. Anticipating this and his need for a real meal, I decided to make this stew, that was actually called a mole, but I think stew is more appropriate. It worked out perfectly, because it reheats perfectly in the microwave. Understand this kitchen closes by 8, and I prefer all dishes stashed by then. He made it by 8:45, and his plate was waiting.

It was a quick weekend of packing and repacking, and now he should be in Korea, though I haven't received the phone call. He will be there this week, then he will fly to China and see Alex OdieSan. I am not happy that I am not on this trip! Manservant has explicit instructions to take pictures of Number 1 son's apartment and to take his roommates out for dinner. He best comply or else! Said trip also includes a visit to an old friend of his in Shenzhen, where he tells me he will take Alex for the best spa treatment ever. I feel I deserve the same, only mine will probably cost a lot more than both of theirs!


Halloween will find me at a friend's house, which is good. I always get a bit forlorn when I remember the special 'Ween's of the past. We live in a small neighborhood, but we always got together on Halloween. The older kids would take the younger ones around treating, as the adults ate and talked and maybe drank. We would then always get first dibs on the best candy they brought home, if we were lucky. Of course we never got lucky!  Usually that meant getting a teensy Mound's bar, but no Hershey's or Reese's!

There is one other reason that it may not be best to be here for Halloween. It seems my pumpkin is quickly disappearing.


My remarkable and quickly growing puppy, has taken up residence on the table behind the couch, and getting quite agitated every time Mr. Squirrel comes in for a bite. Of course I am getting quite agitated, keeping him off the couch! And P.S. I just learned there are more Siberian tigers in the world than Skye terriers!


But back to this chicken. I decided spur of the moment to make it and it required tomatillos. Not being near the grocery that had them and being too lazy to go and get them, I kind of punted. It was a good punt and I scored. Instead of tomatillos I used two jars of salsa. One was a green chile and the other a tomatillo. What a simple way to do business! The chicken could also be substituted with turkey. Yes, that season will soon be upon us!

This would be a perfect meal  for Halloween. It reheats very well, keeps a long time on the stove top or even in the oven, and isn't too spicy for the little ones. This is great as tacos, but we enjoyed it as is, with beans and rice. A squeeze of fresh lime gives this an extra punch. I've been munching on it all week and it even gets better as the flavors have a chance to meld together. Buying a rotisserie chicken will save you several steps and a lot of time. I did brown and stew my own chicken, but no worries. Buy the chicken if you want and just remove the skin and bones and add the meat to the stew.

Have a great holiday and don't let the squirrels get your pumpkin! Those little goblins have big teeth!


Green Chile, Tomatillo and Chicken Stew
Time to Make: About 30 minutes to prep and 2.5 hours to cook
Serves 6
Ingredients:
1  whole chicken, cut up into pieces
1 jar of green chile salsa
1 jar of tomatillo salsa or salsa verde
1 T olive oil
1 large thinly sliced onion
6 cloves of garlic roughly chopped
1 12 oz can of beer
2 c chicken stock (I like Better than Bouillon)
1 bunch cilantro, stems and leaves separated
2 limes, juiced
Salt and Pepper

Directions:
Preheat oven to 300. In a large Dutch oven, heat oil over medium high heat. Season chicken on all sides with salt and pepper. Sear, without crowding pot, until golden brown on all sides. Reserve on a platter.

Reduce heat to medium and add the onion, and garlic to the pot and cook until brown, about 7 minutes. Deglaze Dutch oven with the beer and bring to a simmer. Then add salsas and chicken stock. Return to a simmer and add the chicken and cilantro stems. Cover and place on the middle rack in oven. Cook until the meat is tender and falling off the bone, about 2 hours.

Remove chicken from the sauce and let cool until you can handle it. Remove the cilantro stems and discard. Place Dutch oven over medium heat and simmer uncovered until the liquid is reduced by almost half. This should take about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the cilantro leaves and lime juice. Adjust seasoning as necessary. Once the chicken is cool enough remove the skin and meat from the bone. Shred and place back in the sauce. Rewarm chicken in the sauce and serve.

Other great stews:
Portuguese Chicken Stew
Carne Asada
Brazilian Coconut Lime Shrimp Stew


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Saturday, October 24, 2015

Grilled Icelandic Lamb Chops with Honey Herb Chimichurri


"Thank you to Whole Foods for sponsoring this post. Product was provided, but no compensation was given and all opinions are my own."
Manservant was astounded when I agreed to writing a Whole Foods post on Icelandic lamb. After all, I stopped eating red meat 8 years ago. Why did I stop? The short answer is that after viewing a movie about large scale production "factory farms", I decided that as a child I had eaten enough meat to last a life time. And so I just stopped. I am not usually so decisive about such important matters, but for some reason that movie resonated with me. And I don't even remember the name of it!

The rest of my family continued to eat their beef and their lamb, but I never really missed it. Well, I did miss eating burgers but even that desire has been erased, as there are so many other choices one has when it comes to burgers. And really; aren't burgers all about the fries and ketchup? I continued to cook with beef, but over the years it has become less and less. I do grill the occasional steak when they come home, and if I am eating a chicken burger, I'll buy them beef, but that's about it!

When I made my decision there weren't a lot of choices when it came to eating beef. Or lamb. Now there are smaller ranches and grass fed, hormone free cows and frankly, if I had had those choices then I may have never given up eating the meat. But I did and I see no reason to turn back as I've come to live with it. However I must admit that my family hopes I never see a movie about chickens or pigs because when I really think about it, I could probably take those off my list, too.


So why then did I decide to write about lamb? Well, I knew Manservant would be very happy to eat some and this kitchen aims to please. It wasn't that long ago that I used to make lamb for dinner parties. It is a great dish for entertaining because many folks just don't know how to cook it and many aren't familiar with it. That is a shame, because lamb used to be one of my favorites.

There are two things that I can tell you now. Colorado has great lamb and Iceland has outstanding lamb. Unless they were sampled side by side, I don't know if one could tell the difference, but from what I remember lamb always had a somewhat mild, but gamey taste that was always enhanced by the addition of a sauce or a marinade. I did sample a bite of the Icelandic lamb, but even if I had wanted more, I don't think Manservant would have allowed me one more morsel. It was that good. (This is from a man who eats around the world at 5 star restaurants and 5 star holes in the wall, while I sit home with eggs and toast!)

These chops were easily grilled, about 5-6 minutes per side. Lamb should be served pink, for the best flavor. I served these with a simple chimichurri type sauce composed of cilantro, red onion and mint with a touch of honey. The honey really made this! I drizzled it over the chops while they were warm. Nothing else was needed because this lamb is glorious on its own. However I did drizzle the sauce on my chicken which made for a very happy chicken breast!

Icelandic lamb is special. The sheep are allowed to graze freely for 5 months, eating herbs and berries through the mountains, with 24 hours of sunshine to keep them happy. Think no pesticides there! They are then rounded up each fall in true Viking tradition. The lamb is sent fresh to Whole Foods and is only sold in the fall. It is mild and delicate and requires very little seasoning or preparation. It is tender, with  such a delicate taste; I almost didn't know I was eating meat. Lamb makes a perfectly elegant meal for a party or yourself. It isn't available at all Whole Foods stores, so get it while you can.


Grilled Icelandic Lamb Chops with Honey Herb Chimichurri
Figure 2-3 per person (My Whole Foods only sold the loin chops.)
Time to make: About 5 minutes and 4-6 minutes per side
Ingredients:
2-3 Lamb loin chops per serving
Salt
Pepper
Honey Herb Chimichurri
2 1/2 T chopped cilantro
2 1/2 T c chopped mint
2 T finely diced red onion
Pinch of salt
Pinch of chile flakes
1/2 to 3/4 t of honey
3 T olive oil
1 t red wine vinegar

Directions:
Bring lamb chops to room temperature, about 20 minutes before placing on grill. Season with coarse salt and freshly ground pepper on each side. Preheat grill to high.

While grill is heating, combine ingredients for the honey herb chimichurri. Make sure grill is oiled and place lamb chops on grate for about 4-6 minutes per side.I lost my meat thermometer but lamb should be cooked from 145 to 160 degrees. Let rest, lightly tented with foil for about 5 minutes before serving which means one should take it off the grill about 10 degrees before desired doneness. Drizzle with chimichurri before serving.

More to Try:
Other Chimichurri Sauce
Truffled Scalloped Potatoes
Cauliflower Salad with Hummus and Tahini Dressing
Maple Pecan Cream Cheese Poundcake




Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Easy Chocolate Peanut Layer Bars and Performance Indicators


These decadent, simple to make chocolate, peanutty bars are supposed to be travelling around the world in a suitcase to Korea. From Korea they are supposed to meet my son from China, where they are to be travelling back to Shanghai to be devoured by number one son and his roommates. Instead they are sitting in my freezer, each individually wrapped in a giant zip lock bag. Not just one pan, but two. So yes, I now have approximately 48 totally enticing, calorie laden, magic chocolate peanut bars in my freezer. And I just started Weight Watchers...

Blame it on Manservant. Within a matter of hours he canceled his trip to Korea because the person he was supposed to meet wasn't available. Of course he already had had Alex book a flight to Korea so they could meet and hug and eat said layer bars. I spent the weekend buying gifts since this happened so last minute, and then woke up at 5 AM to tell Manservant good bye only to find out his trip was postponed. So Odie San traveled to Korea anyway, where he met friends and ended up having a good time. But I felt bad!!!


Supposedly Manservant will be flying next week, but this time number one son will know not to book a flight to Korea; instead he will make Manservant meet him in Shanghai. At least that is the plan. It isn't like Manservant doesn't have vacation days to spare. I don't believe he has taken one all year. I don't even think he has taken a holiday all year. Is that despair in my voice? Or anger? He tells me his goal by the end of the year is to achieve balance. He tells me he has KPI's to meet in order to keep himself happy and ultimately me! I don't care what he calls it, but key performance indicators in my life are pretty sad right now. It seems all I do is bounce around between his schedule and that is getting old. It means me not having a schedule, because I never know what to expect from his.

Well. This has got to stop! I just did Pilates for the last month and should have signed up for some art classes. I even started Weight Watchers last week, so at least I have a social outing. Hah! Don't expect any great changes on this blog though. One must learn to work around challenges; kind of like working around Manservant...

These Easy Chocolate Peanut Layer Bars are a riff on my 7 Layer Magic Bars. They aren't quite as sweet, because of the peanut butter, but just as delicious. Manservant preferred these to my regular ones, but he is a peanut lover. My daughter prefers this pumpkin layered version!


Easy Chocolate Peanut Layer Bars
Makes 1 13 x 9 pan or 24 squares
Time to Make: About 15 minutes to prepare and to 25 minutes to bake
Ingredients:
1 1/2 c graham cracker crumbs or peanut butter cookie crumbs
1 stick butter
1 can condensed milk
1/2 c peanut butter
9 oz chocolate chips
9 oz peanut butter chips
1 to 1 and 1/2 cups salted peanuts, coarsely chopped

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350. Place a 13 x 9 pan in oven with the stick of butter. Let butter melt. This takes about 5 minutes. Take out of oven and tilt pan until butter covers pan evenly. Top with graham cracker crumbs and  press down to create a crust.  Heat peanut butter in microwave for about 30 seconds or until softened. Whisk into condensed milk. Pour condensed milk evenly across crumbs. With a spatula, lightly spread condensed milk evenly over crumbs. Sprinkle with chocolate chips, then peanut butter chips and then the salted peanuts. Bake for about 25 minutes or until golden around the edges. Chill and then cut into squares.

More to try:
Tin Roof Bars with Caramel
Magic Cookie Bars
Magic Pumpkin Butter Bars
Chocolate Peanut Butter Bites

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Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Sweet and Sour Cabbage with Meatballs


There is something funny about this dish. I'm not quite sure what  it is but many call this unstuffed cabbage. I'm presuming it is because they know what stuffed cabbage is and this isn't stuffed cabbage. But I have a hard time thinking of this as unstuffed cabbage, when it is really just cabbage and meatballs. Let's call this what it is!  This sweet and sour cabbage can be made soupier if you want to slurp with a spoon or it can be cooked down and eaten as a main course. Of course it can also be a side dish, if you don't want meatballs in it. I vote for meatballs.

My mother first made this dish and served it to my kids, when they were wee little tykes. I do not remember this dish from my childhood. But even if she had made it, I doubt I would have eaten it. Except maybe the meatballs. Who doesn't eat meatballs? I don't know about you but I don't know too many tykes that have a thing for cabbage. However I do know many that have a thing for meatballs. I was never one to like cabbage rolls or stuffed cabbage, (whatever you prefer to call it) and I don't like stuffed grape leaves either. But I am a lover of cabbage. I love various cabbage salads and I love cabbage in Japanese stir fry.


This dish popped into my head as something to bring to a friend of mine's mother. My friend was out of town and I felt like her mom could use some company. Being me, meant that I couldn't go empty handed, so I brought this cabbage and a giant loaf of artisan bread from one of my favorite bread bakeries. Holishkes or stuffed cabbage is a popular Polish dish and my friend's mom is Polish. Manservant was out of town and I knew this dish wasn't something he would relish, so it was my time to make it and enjoy it without him picking around the cabbage for the meatballs!

This recipe makes a lot, but it can also be frozen. The  sweet comes from brown sugar and honey and the sour from lemon juice, though I have seen vinegar used in this. Feel free to adjust the sweet and sour to your liking. This is a hearty dish and one to be enjoyed at the kitchen table. Now that I'm stuck in the midst of  a cold, I am glad I saved some to enjoy also. It is quite comforting in between blowing my nose!


Sweet and Sour Cabbage with Meatballs
Serves: 8
Time to Make: About 20 minutes active and 2.5 hours to simmer
Ingredients:
1 large diced onion
2 lbs green cabbage, chopped
1 15 oz can tomato sauce
1 28 oz can tomatoes with juice
1 c water or more depending on how soupy you want this
1/4 c honey
1/4 c lemon juice
1/3 c brown sugar
1 t Hungarian paprika
1/4 c raisins optional and added after 2 hours of cooking

Meatballs
1 lb ground beef or turkey
2 t Worcestershire sauce
1/2 t salt or to taste
1 egg
1/2 c grated onion
1/2 c uncooked white rice

Directions:
Combine all soup ingredients, except raisins in a large stock pot. Bring to a boil. While mixture is coming to a boil, mix the meatball ingredients together. Shape into walnut sized balls and drop into boiling soup. Reduce heat, cover ad simmer for two hours. Remove cover and add raisins if desired. Continue cooking for 30 more minutes. This is where you may want to add more water if you like this the consistency of soup. I serve this dish with lots of freshly ground black pepper.

More Cabbage Recipes:
Okonomiyaki (Japanese Egg Foo Yung)
Kohlrabi Cabbage Fennel Salad
Vietnamese Style Cole Slaw
My Mom's Secret Cole Slaw

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Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Pumpkin Puff Pastry Kringle with Streusel


I'm not really sure what happened to last week. I can tell you that I cleaned the house, put out pumpkins and even planted orange and black pansies. They are so cute! I bought a cover for our couch that needs recovering badly-so this at least gives it a new look! Geordie and I went to the park a few times and I gave him a bath. I also went out with a friend for lunch to a new Mexican restaurant that I thought was very good. And I delivered myself and some food goodies to my friend's mother, who needed a little company. No I was not a slouch last week, but I did not blog. And now it is this week and I feel like I need to catch up!

I'm not sure if anyone has ever noticed, but at the bottom of my blog is a banner for The Daily Meal. They have a fun food site that has everything under the sun on it. Sometimes they post some of my recipes and photos on it in recipe collections, and that is kind of fun-especially when I get a lot of traffic from it. My blog is a small blog and I am always looking for new readership because even though I write this blog primarily for my kids, it is always nice to feel some love. Some blog people say it helps to have a niche for what one blogs about; whether it is Asian recipes or baking recipes or even quick family meals. Sometimes I feel like I have no niche and that that is what is slowing me down as to gaining new readers.

I have always posted here what I cook. My kids were always stymied when I'd ask them what they wanted for dinner because I was never one of those moms that cooked the same things over and over again. I always kept staples in the house, but I was not known for repeating the same things often. That is the way I cook. If I feel like Asian I make it. Mexican, the same thing. When I need pasta I don't hesitate and you know me when it comes to baking. Well, I love that. Traditional Jewish recipes are faves around the holidays. And well, I love stories around food so I never mince my words! But maybe I should? Maybe people just want the recipe and not the mouthful that comes with it! I'd sure be happy if you wanted to comment and tell me if you think I have a niche-or if I need a niche! I do love blogging and cooking and writing, but I never feel like I'm getting it right!


So back to The Daily Meal. They are promoting an old Vincent Price cookbook originally written in 1965. The funny thing is that I own two of them. One had been my mother's and the other my grandmother's. They are a lot of fun to look through because they contain many old restaurant menus including prices! However the book also contains many great recipes. In celebration of the book's 50th anniversary  re-release; they asked us to cook a choice of recipes from it. Well, not having anything better to do, I thought that might be fun. Their choices were a bit strange given that I'm not sure how pasta bolognese, guacamole and Danish Kringle go together, but given that I have no cooking niche, well, maybe Vincent didn't either.

I hope you have all heard of Vincent Price. If you haven't, I know you've heard his voice. I'm not one for horror films but that voice is everywhere. It is not one easily forgotten. In addition, Vincent also was a graduate of Yale and an art collector. I must say that Vincent had many niches! He must have been a fascinating guy! After all, he was even a foodie before foodies existed. I would have loved to hear that voice ordering in a restaurant.

So I posted a pasta bolognese a long time ago and I've even done a guacamole but I've never done a kringle. Kringles are  popular in Denmark and I'm partial to Denmark since I spent 6 weeks there as a high school student. Just to be clear, kringles refer to the pretzel shape of the pastry and not the type of pastry. Of course, I did not do a traditional shape, so don't use mine to define kringle! Often kringles are filled with almond filling, but well I marched to a different drummer. Mine is filled with a pumpkin cream cheese filling and it is good. Manservant came home from Sweden and devoured it. Kringle is not overly sweet, well at least mine isn't. It is crispy when taken from the oven, but I store it in a giant zip lock, where it does lose a bit of the crisp. I prefer it that way because then you can taste more of the filling. I can't explain it, but it is true! This would be great for eating with tea or coffee and perfect for a light breakfast or snack.

I know you'll enjoy this pumpkin kringle and if you have any clues to what my niche is, I'd love to hear them. I've been searching my whole life for where I fit in!


Pumpkin Puff Pastry Kringle
Makes 8-10 slices
Time to Make: About 20 minutes Inactive time: About 30 minutes

Ingredients:
1/2 of a package of frozen puff pastry (I used Trader Joe's)
8 oz cream cheese at room temperature
1/3 c powdered sugar
2/3 c pumpkin cookie butter filling or canned pumpkin combined with  1 Tpumpkin spice
2 T pumpkin butter
Streusel:
1/4 c flour
1 1/2 T sugar
1/2 t pumpkin spice
1 1/2 T butter

1 beaten egg yolk

Directions:
Thaw puff pastry according to directions. Roll out into a thin rectangle. I roll mine on the paper it came on and bake on that, too! Combine cream cheese, powdered sugar and pumpkin cookie butter or canned pumpkin. I use my immersion blender for this. Now spread the pumpkin butter down the center of the pastry. Then the cream cheese filling. You can roll this up and shape it in a pretzel or do like I do. With the pastry's shortest end to you, slice two inch strips on both sides. Now fold alternating side strips diagonally over pastry filling.

Combine streusel ingredients with a fork. When combined. I use my hands to make small "butter clumps" with the streusel. Brush the kringle with egg yolk and sprinkle streusel down the middle of the kringle. Freeze for about 15-20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 450. Bake about 15-20 minutes or until golden. Remove from oven. Let cool. I garnished my kringle with a sprinkle of powdered sugar and pumpkin seeds!

Click here to enter the Whole Foods giveaway!

More to Try:
Browned Butter Cream Cheese Apricot Rugelach
Mandel Bread or Jewish Biscotti
Brown Sugar Spice Cake with Caramel Glaze