Finally got to use up our last Butternut Squash! This recipe is from Cooking with Michele, but I have to say it wasn't clear enough and I had to use my knowledge of roux-making to make it work out! So below you can find my version of the recipe, and if you're interested in seeing the original, you can find it here.
 
 
Picture
Here they are! The new and beautifully improved photos by myself and my new camera! And they are accompanying a delectable recipe for a deeply rich and decadent chocolate mousse. What could be better than a dark chocolatey mousse? A dark chocolatey mousse that is waltzing with the flavor of Bailey's Irish Cream, of course. Why didn't it dawn on me before?!

 
 
Picture
The perfect topper for your perfect burger.  I took a recipe that was originally Caramelized Chipotle Onions and tweaked it to fit the ingredients at hand (and that I knew would be delicious together...)

Ingredients
1 large onion, halved and thinly slice
1 tbsp salsa picante
2 tsp soy sauce
1 tbsp beef broth
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp oil
1 tbsp minced fresh garlic
1 tbsp dark brown sugar

Directions
  • Heat the oil in a medium saute pan until almost smoking.
  • Throw the onions and garlic into the oil until they start to tenderize.
  • Add remaining ingredients and cook covered.
  • Cook 15 - 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are caramelized and most of the liquid is evaporated.
  • Use to glorify your juice burger or veggie burger!

 
 
Picture
EDIT 1/25/2010: Here are the beautiful purple potatoes.


Going back in time a bit...(I haven't been cooking much since Conor's home and the boys have been experimenting in the kitchen!): I made a Potato Leek Soup in December for a few reasons..
1. It reminds me of my momma
2. It's a Julia Child recipe
3. It's cold and soup is the best remedy
4. I had beautiful potatoes and leeks to use from our Thanksgiving share!

I found the recipe here, on AverageBetty.com, but I found that I made some changes to it. The first and most important being that my potatoes turned out to be purple!! I wish I had a picture of the lovely lilac color the whole soup turned. It was surprisingly appetizing = )


 
 
Picture
Finally! Using up one of the three (3!!) Butternut Squash that came in our enormous Thanksgiving Farm Share. (This year Bard had a connection with one of the local farms, called Hearty Roots, and we were able to get a HUGE, and I mean HUUUUUGE, amount of vegetables for $45. They have lasted for ages, obviously, but it was a struggle and a challenge to figure out to do with some of the things, i.e. celeriac, daikon, etc...). I've been meaning to make Butternut Squash Risotto for quite some time and was finalyl able to last night. I used a recipe I found through Tastespotting (shocking, I know). This recipe was posted by Pink Parsley, and the photo credit goes to them as well.

Butternut Squash Risotto
(To see the original recipe, click here. This one includes my changes and comments!)
Serves 6 as a main course (trust me, we had 2 main course servings and there's a LOT left!), 8 - 10 as a side
 
 
I sometimes take care of my voice teacher's husband who is in his very late 80s and is rather picky about his food. He normally mutters something about dinner being "OK" or "good" but I just whipped something up that was nice and simple but delicious this past weekend and i got an "MMMMM!" and a "Delicious!" to start and finish the meal! Improvements if I'd been at home: I probably would have made a light, lemony risotto instead of just cooking rice.

(Excuse the lack of photos recently. I'm working on my food photography skills and trying to get the lighting a bit better in our kitchen!)
 
 
Picture
So this is more John's combination of recipes and techniques but it takes a little from Allrecipe's Slow Cooker Chili II and a little from Q's Eats' Chili (another Tastespotting find!). It is delicious, with just enough spice, and of course combines perfectly with sour cream and shredded cheddar. SO GOOD for a chili (haha) night in winter.

 
 
Thank you to Big Girls, Small Kitchen: A Guide to Quarter-life Cookingfor this recipe! Felt like trying out something light, healthy, vegetarian, and spicy and this was exactly what the doctor ordered.
I didn't have all the exact ingredients so here's their original recipe with my changes:
(Photo credit goes to the Big Girls as well!)

Picture
Chana Bateta(Click for complete original recipe) Serves 2, literally
NOTE: This tastes best made ahead, so if you have time, cool it, then transfer to the fridge until ready to eat. Then reheat until piping hot, add the vinegar, stir to distribute, and serve, garnished with fresh cilantro.

 
 
John and I were originally going to go out for a fancy dinner on New Year's Eve until we found out he had to close at work...and thus the delicious, but homemade feast of my last post. We decided we still wanted to go out to Twist, which is John's favorite restaurant in Hyde Park, so we simply moved our reservation to New Year's Day.
We were not disappointed! What a way to start out the new year...John ordered the Filet Mignon with peppercorn sauce, sauteed spinach, and a to-die-for cauliflower and aged goat cheese risotto (you'll probably notice that I'm a nut for risotto...). They seem to have forgotten to put his filet on the grill, so we were surprised with a free duck confit salad with pear and vinaigrette that was a great accompaniment to the snow falling outside and the Montepulciano d'Abruzzo we were drinking.
Picture
I ordered the Lamb Chop special which was accompanied with bacon and shallot brussel sprouts, garlic white beans, and finished with a light and subtle Pomegranate Jus (a fabulous idea this time of year, with pomegranate's being in season!). The lamp lollipops were cooked to perfection and John's filet was beautiful...We soon realized we would have to try out dessert, just to see what original combinations the young chefs had come up with.

Picture
And we certainly weren't disappointed. We originally were going to split something (that whole "healthy" thing), but then the Eggnog Pannacotta was brought up and John just had to have it (I'm admittedly not a huge fan of eggnog...sorry happy, holiday Eggnogers). I went for the Pear Crisp with (in house made, of course) Rosemary Ice Cream. The Pear Crisp was warming and crumbly and the Rosemary Ice Cream a lot more subtle than I'd imagined; a good thing! John was in absolute ecstasy with the PannaCotta, which came with Ginger Snaps, and I even had to admit it was amazing. Yum!
If you're ever up in the Hyde Park area, I highly recommend this place. It's a contemporary atmosphere, but quiet enough that you can hear the person across the table. The owner is a C.I.A. graduate (that's "Culinary Institute of America" not the badass governmental spy branch) and has designated two very young men (who actually have had no culinary training other than what they've learned and taught themselves in Twist's own kitchen!) as the head chefs. Awesome!

 
 

Picture
New Year's Eve Dinner 2009-2010
We decided to have a quiet dinner in on New Year's Eve this year since my boyfriend had to work late. This of course gave me lots of playing room, so I decided to make Red Wine Braised Beef Short Ribs a la Hubert Keller (with some adjustments) and Caramelized Shallot and Crispy Sage Mac & Cheese. We accompanied all of this heavenly food with some simple green beans, just to give the impression of a healthy, balanced meal ; ).

Picture
Red Wine Braised Beef Short Ribs a la Hubert Keller
One of the many gems I found on Tastespotting! (I did a half recipe, which was more than enough for 2 meals!)
Ingredients:
4 lbs bone-in short ribs
Salt & Pepper
Cayenne and Chili Peppers
4 tbsp olive oil
2 small onions, peeled and sliced
2 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 2" piece fresh ginger, peeled and sliced thinly
2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
M. Keller's recipe suggests 1 stalk of lemongrass. I didn't have this on hand but I substituted 1/2 tsp of lemon juice for the half recipe
1 1/2 cups red wine, pinot noir. We used a 2006 Bourgogne.
1 cup strong coffee (not in the original recipe)
1 14-oz can diced tomatoes with juice
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp parsley, chopped
3 tbsp tomato paste
3 cups beef stock
1 sprig fresh sage
Picture
Directions:
  • Preheat the oven to 350F.
  • Heat olive oil in a 5-qt saute or casserole pan over high heat.
  • Lay short ribs on a clean working surface and season all sides with sale, pepper, cayenne, and chili peppers.
  • When the oil is almost smoking, add ribs and let sear on high heat, 5 minutes per side or until well browned. Tongs are the best way to rotate the ribs.
  • Once browned on all sides, remove ribs with tongs and place on a baking tray.

Picture
  • Add onions, carrots, celery, ginger, lemon juice, and garlic to the same pan.
  • (Here's where you would use the lemongrass: Smash the lemongrass stalk with the back of a knife, slice, and add to pan.) Saute vegetables for 2 minutes, or until softened.
  • Over high heat, add red wine and scrape bottom of pan with wooden spoon as wine comes to a boil.
  • Add tomato paste, diced tomatoes, brown sugar, parsley, beef stock, coffee, and sage leaves to pan and bring to a simmer. Add ribs back into pan and cover with a tight fitting lid.

Picture
  • Place casserole in pre-heated oven for 1.5 hours. Remove cover and continue cooking for an additional 1 hour. (Total time in oven, 2.5 hours)
  • When rib meat is very tender, remove ribs from oven, using tongs to place on baking tray. Cover with aluminum foil to keep warm.
  • Pour the sauce through a fine-mesh strainer into a saucepan, removing all of the vegetables. (We kept the vegetables to eat as a side...Just watch out for the slices of ginger!) Over medium low heat, simmer the sauce for 5 minutes until darker in color and thicker. Add ribs to reheat.
  • M. Keller suggests serving the ribs with the sauce over polenta and bok choy. We at ours with the sauce and the vegetables along with the Mac & Cheese. It was a perfect trio!


Picture
Caramelized Shallot and Crispy Sage Mac & Cheese
A favorite on Tastespotting and I can absolutely see why! You won't need extra salt and pepper for this dish...the warm flavor of the shallots, garlic, and sage do everything to make this a perfectly seasoned plate. Be careful though, this recipe is enough to feed at least 10 when used as a side!
Ingredients:
1 lb orecchiete pasta (we used medium shells as our local store didn't have orecchiete...the horror!)
2 tbsp olive oil
2 large shallots, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
5 tbsp butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 cup heavy cream (we actually substituted Half-and-Half...that whole faking healthy thing)
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese (we used XXX Sharp Cheddar. It's amazing! Almost as good as British cheddar...almost)
2 cups Gruyere cheese
1 tsp kosher salt (seriously, don't add more!)
1/4 cup chopped fresh sage

Directions:
  • Cook the pasta according to package directions.
  • Heat olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook 15 - 17 minutes, stirring frequently until deep, golden brown. Add the garlic and cook 1 additional minute. Set aside.
  • For the roux, melt 4 tbsp of butter in a saucepan over medium heat.  Whisk in the flour until smooth and until the mixture starts to brown, ~1 minute. Whisk in the buttermilk and cream, then bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and mix in cheeses and salt. Cook 5 minutes or until cheese is melted and mixture is smooth. (I found it actually took less than 5 minutes.)
  • Melt the remaining 1 tbsp of butter in a small saute pan over medium heat. Add the sage, saute 1 minute and turn off heat.
  • Mix pasta, shallots, cheese sauce and sage in a large bowl and enjoy!!


Picture
Picture
No New Year's Eve is Complete without a Yule Log!
I decided to try my hand at a Yule Log this year, but I've always found them rather bland, so when I found this recipe for a Mocha Yule Log, I was raring to go! In all honesty, I think this recipe could use more cocoa in the cake part..but overall very taste and fun and easy to work with.

Ingredients:
For Cake~
6 eggs, separated (make sure no yolk gets into the whites or they won't whip the way you want!)
3.5oz (just under 1/2 cup) + 1.7oz (just under 1/4 cup) caster sugar
1.7oz (just under 1/4 cup) cocoa (I used Ghirardelli cocoa powder...You could probably go up to as much as 1/2 cup of cocoa)
2 heaped tsp of instant coffee powder (crystals work fine, too)
3 tbsp icing sugar (or confectioner's sugar) to sieve over the log as decoration

Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 350F. Line a swiss roll tin with baking parchment (a deep baking sheet works just as well!), leaving a little overhang as it rises in the oven. (You don't need to leave as much excess parchment as I did! It started to singe during the baking process.)
  • In a clean, large bowl (preferably metal if you have one...but glass works well, too) whisk the egg whites until starting to hold a peak and then whisk in the ~1/4 cup of caster sugar by the spoonful until soft, firm peaks form.
  • In another bowl, whip egg yolks and ~1/2 cup of caster sugar until pale and mousse-like. Sift cocoa over the egg yolk mixture and fold to combine (I like using a rubber spatula for folding). Add coffee powder and stir.
  • Add 2 tbsp of the fluffy egg white mixture to the yolk and sugar mixture. Fold gently to combine. Then add the rest of the egg whites in 3 even lots.
  • Pour into swiss roll tin and bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and start to gently pry back paper on the sides.
  • Have another sheet of parchment paper sprinkled with icing sugar ready. Turn cake onto this gently and peel back the rest of the paper (don't worry if little bits come off, the icing will cover any imperfections. The corner of my cake came off and I just stuck it back on...You couldn't tell when you saw the final product, could you?)

Picture
Ingredients:
For Icing~
6 oz dark chocolate (I used 3 oz Semi-Sweet baking chocolate, 3 oz Ghirardelli 100% Cocoa baking chocolate)
1 tsp instant coffee powder
8.8oz (just over 1 cup) icing sugar (confectioner's sugar)
8oz (2 sticks) butter, softened

Directions:
  • Melt chocolate in a small saucepan or double boiler (or microwave, if you're impatient).
  • Whisk the icing sugar in with the butter. Add the coffee powder and mix well.
  • Mix in the chocolate and beat by hand using a large whisk or an electric beater. Even if the chocolate is just off the stove, the icing sugar and butter are enough to solidify it to a safe icing texture.
Assembly:
Spread the icing across the cake going up to the edges.

Picture
  • Roll up the cake from one end (one of the shorter sides). Try to make it a tight roll at the beginning, start by pushing with the parchment. Once again, don't worry if the parchment steals some bits of cake. Icing hides all!
  • Spread the rest of the icing over the outer log. I used my icing knife to make long strokes that looked like bark and then added a little knot in the middle of the branch by doing circular patterns in a big gob of icing.
  • Sprinkle with sifted icing sugar.
  • NOTE: This cake can be made ahead of time. You can either store it for a week in an airtight container in a very cool area, or you can freeze it and store it for up to 3 months in a rigid container. If you freeze it, you will need to thaw it overnight and store it in an airtight container until serving it to happy, champagne-filled friends and family.