Friday, October 30, 2009

Happy Birthday to Me!

29 years ago today a special girl was brought into the world to bring pies and pasta and pizza and PUMPKINS to all!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Fall Flavors

My friend Lizzy said to me the other day, "remember when you used to blog?" was that blog all about, anyway? Unfortunately I have just been way too busy lately between work and planning to run away to New Zealand to get married in LESS THAN 3 WEEKS! I've barely had time to eat, let alone cook, photograph, and write about my food. But, I have managed to do some fun things with butternut squash.  

Last week I made this wonderful butternut squash, kale, and cheddar bread pudding.  It was Molly Wizenberg's recipe in Bon Appetit that was presented as a vegetarian main course option for Thanksgiving.  Since we are missing Thanksgiving this year (our wedding in New Zealand is the day before!) I decided to celebrate a little early. In the past, I've suffered through a Tofurkey on this holiday, with the rest of this family making horrified faces at it. If I made this dish I think I would be fighting everyone off with my fork.

It was delicious, savory, and a complete meal all in one dish. I roasted a huge butternut squash to go in this, and had plenty of leftovers. With these leftovers I made one of my favorite Fall dishes - butternut squash ravioli. I cheat a bit with my ravioli and use wonton wrappers instead of making my own pasta. It makes the process so easy and wontons make a wonderfully light pasta. I think the perfect pairing with butternut squash is sage.

For a simple sauce I quickly cooked the sage in brown butter. Its great with some chopped hazelnuts in it, too. But I was out of them on this round! The filling was butternut squash mixed with rich marscapone cheese and chopped shallots.

Sealed up in a wonton with an egg wash, these cook in seconds and are light and delicious.

This recipe will make lots of leftover ravioli, but the recipe for the sauce is for 1 serving. The ravioli freeze well and can go straight from freezer to boiling water.

Butternut Squash Ravioli
1 lb butternut squash, peeled, seeded and roasted until soft
1/2 cup marscapone cheese
1 large shallot, finely chopped
1 package wonton wrappers (about 20 - 20)
1 egg, lightly beaten
4 Tbls unsalted butter
2 Tbls thinly sliced sage
2 Tbls chopped hazelnuts

Mash squash with a potato masher or puree in a food processor. Add marscapone and mix until well combined. Stir in shallots. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Lay 1 wonton open and fill with about 1 tsp squash filling. Brush egg wash around edges of wonton. Fold wonton over and press out any air to seal. Lay on baking sheet lined with parchment.

Heat a large dutch oven or skillet over medium heat. Add butter and cook until starts to brown. Add sage and hazelnuts and cook 1 - 2 more minutes until fragrant.

Meanwhile, boil a large pot of water. Add ravioli and cook 1 - 2 minutes until they float to the top. Add to butter sauce and cook 1 - 2 more minutes until ravioli crisp slightly. Scoop onto plates and love!

I will try to say hello again before we leave on our trip.  I still have to recap my wonderful bridal tea and will soon have a wild Halloween NYC Bachelorette party to tell you about!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Summer is Gone

Summer is officially over. The leaves are turning golden colors, our CSA pick-ups have finished for the season, and tonight we ate our last 2 ears of corn. The corn had actually been sitting in our fridge for over a week, so I decided to cook it up in a pudding instead of eating it straight off the cob. I also have a drawer full of chili peppers from the CSA that I have not used at all.

I incorporated the peppers by roasting them first to bring out the smoky flavor.  

I tasted little bits of each after roasting them and they were HOT. I only ended up using about half a chili because I'm a wimp when it comes to spicy food. I also added some sharp cheddar cheese to the pudding, to give it a Southwestern flavor.

I complemented these end of summer flavors with some very fall ones, and served the corn pudding with a salad of roasted butternut squash, walnuts, and blue cheese in a pomegranate vinaigrette.

Chili Corn Pudding
2 ears of corn, kernels cut from cob
1 - 2 chili peppers
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup grated cheddar cheese
salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 450º

Roast chili peppers in oven until soft and lightly charred, about 15 minutes. Remove stems and seeds and finely chop chilis.

Reduce oven to 350º

In a medium bowl, mix corn kernels with chopped chilis to taste, 1 - 1 1/2 chilis depending on heat. Add egg, cream, cheddar cheese and salt and pepper to taste.

Butter 2 small ramekins and pour in corn mixture until it just reaches the top. Place ramekins in a small baking dish and fill dish with water, until it comes about half way up the ramekins.

Bake in oven about 40 - 45 minutes, until pudding is just set and lightly browned on top.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

We Are All Carnies

This weekend our good friend Lisa celebrated a big birthday, so we had a weekend full of festivities. We started with a girl's night on Friday, where we also celebrated De's birthday at Cuchi Cuchi. And then Saturday Colucci put on quite an event - he threw Lisa a surprise carnival! It was absolutely perfect and Lisa loved it. He rented a huge moon bounce, a basketball game, and skee ball. I warmed up on the basketball.

And after I tried out the moon bounce, it was hard to do anything else. This was so fun! You just can't help but laugh hysterically while you're jumping around in there.

General Reuter arrived to give us motorcycle rides.

Not really. None of us are crazy enough to get on a bike with him.

The whole theme of the event was to remind Lisa that she is still a kid at heart - so many of her presents were based around that theme. She just loved her Easy Bake Oven.

Adam and Cappy tried out the basketball.

And then we moved on to the carnival food. Lisa loves fried dough, so I took on the challenge of figuring out how to make it. I made a big batch of yeast dough from a donut recipe, and fried pieces of it in a big pot of peanut oil.

Covered in powdered sugar, these were amazing. They were actually quite light and soft on the inside with a thin, crisp outside.

And Colucci rented a cotton candy machine, which everyone loved!

And of course after all this junk food we went back in the bouncy house and made ourselves sick.

Isn't that what carnivals are all about? The fun continued into the wee hours of morning and involved much debauchery which, luckily, I did not document. But a very fun time was had by all and it was a perfect celebration for our lovely Lisa.

Sunday, October 4, 2009


A couple weeks ago, Lindsay at POM Wonderful sent me a special present in the mail - a box of 8 bottles of POM 100% Pomegranate juice! This stuff is so good for you - full of antioxidants - and has a unique tart flavor. Derek immediately broke into the bottles for cocktails. He mixes Pom with orange juice, lime juice, and tequila. I wanted to see what I could do cooking with the juice in more savory meals.

My first inspiration was half a butternut squash that was in my fridge. I cut it into chunks and roasted it with olive oil, salt and pepper.

After roasting, I cooled these a bit and then tossed the chunks with arugula. For the dressing, I mixed Pom juice with minced shallots, dijon mustard, rice wine vinegar and olive oil.

The salad was served in this beautiful sliver salad bowl that my Aunt Sue brought me from Mexico as a shower gift.

For the main course, I seared scallops and topped them a Pomegranate White Wine Sauce.

Pomegranate White Wine Sauce
1 cup pomegranate juice
2 Tbs minced shallots
juice of half a lemon
1/4 white wine
1 Tbs unsalted butter, cut into small bits

Simmer pomegranate juice in small saucepan until reduced to 1/2 cup. Add shallots, lemon juice, and white wine and simmer a couple more minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in butter, 1 or 2 bits at a time.

Excellent of over seared scallops or any delicate white fish.

I had a very crazy week at work, and somehow the only thing that was going to help me decompress on Saturday was chocolate mousse. I had a small round of Taza Vanilla that I thought would be just perfect for mousse for 2.

I chopped it all up and then melted it with butter and good rum over a double boiler.

I added to this mixture an egg that had just been laid that morning - there was even still a feather on it!

I separated the egg and cooked the yolk over the double boiler with a little sugar and water, whisking it into a marshmallowy froth.

The yolks were whisked into the chocolate mixture and the whites were whipped to soft peaks then lightly whisked in to lighten the mixture.

Then I whipped up some cream and folded that in.

I meant for this to be a dessert for 2, but it was so rich Derek and I could only finish half of our dishes!

Taza Chocolate Mousse
1 2.7 oz package Taza Vanilla (any Taza flavor would be good)
1 Tbl unsalted butter
1 Tbl good rum (or organge or coffee flavored liqueur)
1 large egg, separated
3 Tbls sugar, separated
1 Tbls cold water
1 cup heavy cream

Finely chop chocolate and place in a medium heatproof bowl with butter and rum. Place bowl over a saucepan with about 1 inch of gently simmering water. Stir until melted and combined - careful not to let it get too hot. Remove from saucepan and set aside to cool slightly.

In another heatproof bowl, whisk together egg yolk, water, and 1 Tbl sugar. Place over saucepan with simmering water and cook for about 3 minutes, whisking constantly, until mixture is soft and marshmallowy. Set pan aside to cool slightly.

Add yolk mixture to chocolate mixture and whisk to combine.

Place egg white in the bowl of a large stand mixture and beat at high speed until starts to froth. Add 1 Tbl sugar and beat until white is glossy and soft peaks form.

Add 1/3 of egg white to chocolate mixture and whisk until just combined. Continue to add remaining white and whisking until just combined.

Clean bowl of stand mixer and add 1 cup heavy cream and remaining Tbs sugar. Beat until soft peaks form. Very gently fold half of whipped cream into chocolate mixture, 1 scoop at a time. Scoop mousse into dessert cups or ramekins and chill for 2 - 4 hours. Serve with remaining whipped cream.