This could go either way…

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Jamie Oliver, once known in his infancy as the Naked Chef, continues to contribute to the culinary scene both in the US and the UK where his home base is. I love to watch him in his garden kitchen, hard by his wood burning oven. It’s a perfect setting in that you can sweep scraps on the floor and not worry about making a mess.

Anyway, he had this recipe on YouTube that I watched a while ago and thought it would be a good meal for this past weekend when the temps on Saturday night were ridiculously low and the wind was howling.

Start by chunking up a butternut squash and (gasp) leave the peel on the squash. One inch chunks will do. Roughly chop a red onion and a long chili pepper of your choice. Put in a dry roasting pan on medium heat and move stuff around adding about 2 tsp of smoked paprika. Once the ingredients are hot, add 2 cloves of sliced garlic and about 2 tbsp of oil. Keep stirring….Then place in a 350° oven for about 45 minutes, until the squash is pretty soft. Leave the oven on.

Add one can each of cannelloni beans and garbanzo beans and 28 oz can of tomatoes. IF you are vegetarian you can stop here. Just stir everything up and put back in oven for about 45 minutes. Season to taste. Serve over sautéed greens like kale, mustard greens etc. Something hearty. Full Stop. BUT….

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But, if you are a carnivore, get your self some really good sausage with two different flavor profiles ( I used fresh kielbasa, and hot Italian turkey sausage). Form them into a rack by curling or laying them next to each other and then skewering them with wooden skewers soaked in water. You can also use long spears of rosemary with the leaves stripped as Jamie suggests.

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Sprinkle the top with some fresh nutmeg and tuck in some sage, rosemary and any other herbs you like and place on a bacon/baking rack that fits over your roasting pan. Don’t cover the pan, place the rack instead. Put back in the 350 ° oven. What will happen is that as the sausage cooks, the drippings will flavor the ragu in the pan. Forty five minutes should be plenty of time. The sausage will get nice and roasty looking.

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Meanwhile, back at the stove top, you can chop, rinse and saute some hearty greens like kale or swiss chard ( shown) as a base for the ragu.

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And yes, that was a lot of sausage for 2 peeps, but once cooked it can be frozen and used in a variety of ways. A perfect dinner for a cold winter nite! In retrospect, the Hubs is not a fan of Swiss chard, so next time it will be spinach, and the squash not being peeled ensures that the squash will hold together, but it adds nothing to the taste of the dish. Your fiber requirement for the day however will be fine…

And now for something completely different…

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A million years ago, when I was running my chubby little legs off as a catering director at a Boston area university, there was a defacto group of businessmen with ties to Armenia, who used the university facilities once a month. The president of the university at the time, who I adored, was a member, so they got first cabin treatment including being able to bring in their own food. So on the last Thursday of the month, a courier from a local Armenian caterer would arrive with a tray of steak tartare sans egg, a huge pan of addictive Armenian string cheese with nigella seeds, bags of choereg, the soft bread usually available at Easter and a giant, and I mean giant, jar of this perfumey giardinera type relish of carrots, celery and cauliflower. They would order up Mateus rose wine and go through the food like butter through a hot knife. Then they would eat dinner….

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Any way, I was thinking about this the other day because I found a different recipe for brussel sprouts. Not the usual roasted, glazed or steamed brussel sprouts that are found this time of year, but a giardinera with a suggested use on cold cut sandwiches or maybe on top of sliced and grilled chicken breast. Or you could add in a pita with falafel and hummus.

The recipe starts out with about a pound of shredded sprouts, a cup of thinly sliced carrots and thinly sliced shallots. I used the cuisinart for the sprouts and carrots and the mandoline for the shallots. There is also a serrano chile pepper sliced on the long side, in the mix.

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The recipe calls for sliced fennel, but I had none hanging around, but I did have this nifty tin of fennel pollen which gives you the same flavor. So I mixed in about a tablespoon. Then I added Kosher salt, mixed everything in the bowl and stuck it in the fridge to get the water out.

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Next morning, I mixed vinegar and oil, red pepper flakes and oregano and mixed together. I put the mix into a 1/2 quart jar and then poured the mix over and as you read this , the product is sitting in the back of my fridge, marinating …IMG_3528

The recipe says to let it “cook” for 3 days, so watch this space for an update!

Breakfast ….

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Today’s public service announcement…Breakfast is the most important meal of the day!

Multi grain toast with avocado, sliced tomato, egg with a teensy bit of shredded cheese and top with pico de gallo…Will keep you going all day!

Hot Soup, Cold Night

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By the end of this week, the nighttime temps here in the higher elevations will be down in the 20’s and I’ll be happy to be making this soup again. Butternut squash and apple soup, topped with a little creme fraiche is an easy and satisfying winter supper when paired with some toasted bread like cranberry walnut and a little green salad, simply dressed.

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Roast off some cubed butternut squash and a little yellow onion or shallot ( milder in taste). Peel and cut 2 small apples and add to the squash after roasting. Put it all in a saucepan with some bay, some fresh thyme, cinnamon and nutmeg, salt and pepper. Cover the veggies and apples with veggie or chicken broth ( richer tasting) and boil till very soft.

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Use a stick blender or regular blender to smooth it out. You can add a little cream if you want. Remember if using a regular bar blender , add the hot liquid in very small amounts to blend. Maybe about 12 oz at most, then repeat as necessary. The risk of burns is high!

Garnish and serve!

I’ll have the chowder, hold the milk…

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Sheet pan suppers are all the rage these days. You know, all the ingredients go on one pan in the oven and in 30 or 40 minutes, voila!, dinner is ready to go. I found this recipe for a fish chowder, sans the dairy, in Women’s Day this month.

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Dead simple assembly starting with 3/4 cup of panko bread crumbs and 2 tbsp of olive oil mixed together.

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Next, mix mayo, dijon mustard and lemon zest in a bowl and set aside.

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Wash and slice yellow fingerling potatoes or yukon gold potatoes not the long side and place on a sheet pan, all in the middle of pan. Don’t spread around.

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Add a whole read onion, roughly chopped into chunks and a piece of bacon for each serving laid out on top of the pile of potatoes and onions. Bake as directed.

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Coat your haddock or cod filets with the mustard/mayo mixture and then top with the panko. Bake as directed on top of the cooked bacon, potato, onion mix. Serve and enjoy!

 

Mark Your Calendars!

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I found out a little too late about this endeavor on the part of Cherry Bombe Magazine. In celebration of their new cookbook, the women at Cherry Bombe wanted to have a virtual worldwide event last Saturday nite. I was scheduled to have dinner with some peeps anyway on Friday nite, so I just hosted mine a day early!

What’s a Cherry Bombe?

A fabulous, feel good, fun and fulfilling magazine about and by women and food. Women who cook it, grow it, market it and more. Along with Where Women Cook and Where Women Create I read it religiously for ideas, commentary, editorials and just a great story about great women who love food.

I’m hoping it’s a yearly event, because next year I will definitely plan further ahead. I mean how much fun is this? Get a group of your best gal pals together, cook up some recipes that Cherry Bombe gives you (or your own), show up with a bottle in one hand and a covered dish in the other, listen to some tune via the Spotify playlist curated just for the event, swill some wine or cocktails, eat great food and then sit around and gab! Heaven!

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I mixed up a pitcher of sparkly blood orange and sparkling wine punch, thinned out with a little club soda. Refreshing, not sweet and relish…

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Added a teeny tiny cheese tray with some great Spanish tapas type cheese, a killah Double Gloucester cheddar with chives from Trader Joes and fresh dates and some raisin chutney.

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Honestly, I think the salad I made was the bombe ( get it?) with mixed baby romaines, pear slices, blackberries and teaspoon of spiced beets. A little squirt of balsamic syrup, topped with fried goat cheese and some creamed honey ( just a little).

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I followed it with my almost famous, “Salmon from a cold oven” and lemon caper potatoes.

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My friend P brought a deconstructed apple pie that she was testing for an event. Macon apples in a phyllo crust with some raisins, cinnamon and other pie type spices. I’ll post the recipe as soon as I know it’s final!

So get out your cookbooks, and mark your calendars for the first Saturday nite in November next year. Peeps, watch your mailboxes!

Open the door to your Mystery Bake

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Remember the magic baking cart that lives in my pantry? It’s a little like the Tardis…

Here’s what I pulled off the cart over the weekend. The end of a bag of graham flour, 1/2 a jar of dark molasses, some autumnal sprinkles and 1/2 a container of lemon peel. I looked up a recipe for hermits, because I have been craving gingerbread recently.

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Here’s the recipe from my favorite TV cook Ina Garten. Cream brown sugar and and butter together.

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Add the molasses and an egg and mix thoroughly. Then add the dry ingredients of flour, salt, raisins, cinnamon, ground cloves, ground ginger and because I love lemon and ginger, I added a good handful of lemon peel. The mix will just hold together and be very shaggy.

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Turn it out onto a floured board and form into a disk and refrigerate for half and hour or so.

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Cut the disk in half and form into 2 long logs that are about 12″ x 3″. You can use your hands or a rolling pin with different results. I used my rolling pin to make them more even. Follow the baking instructions, about 20/25 minutes in a medium oven. Let them cool.

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While baking and cooling you can make a glaze of confectioner sugar and lemon juice and a little lemon zest.

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Once cool, the logs should be fairly soft. Drizzle with the glaze and add sugar topping or sprinkles if you would like. I cut the ends off to make slicing easier and then cut the logs into fingers by slicing in half, then each half in half, and again. Perfect with tea!

Bubble, bubble, no toil, no trouble….

Seriously, it is this good….

Slivers of salami, sauteed for oh so short  a time in some butter, a handful of frozen peas and a couple of tablespoons of tomato paste. Add cooked rigatoni and a few spoonfuls of pasta water and heat until water is dissolved. Add some cream ( about a half cup) dand some shredded parmesan ( about 1/4 cup) and heat through. Serve piping hot!

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Gateway Pie

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Who only has one pie crust in their fridge or freezer right now? Go on…raise your hand! No shame in using one for a quiche or something and having one left over. But I’m here to show you what to do with it!

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Peel, cut and slice some apples….

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Toss with 1/3 of a cup of sugar and your own blend of apple pie spice. Leave in a bowl and let the slices sit for about 45 minutes. Spoon them into the open pie crust and trim the edge of the crust. I rolled the excess back out and made some polka dots with the extra for decoration. Bake as you normally would.

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Take the excess juice that drains from the apples and sugar and add to a saucepan with 1/2 stick of butter.

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Add a teaspoon of this magic ingredient and stir to dissolve.

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Add heavy cream and bring to a boil to reduce until caramel will coat the back of a spoon.

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Pour the caramel over the baked pie and wait for it to set up. Trust me it’s a gateway pie.

I recommend serving with ice cream, salted caramel of course….