January 14, 2010

A new favorite butternut squash recipe

cgbookcat1, 29 Dec 2009, Recipe Thread

I discovered a new favorite butternut squash recipe tonight.

1 medium-sized butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1 inch chunks
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp fresh or 2/3 Tbsp dried sage leaves, chopped/crushed
1 1/2 Tbsp fennel seeds, crushed
1 tsp ground cinnamon
salt and black pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. (~200 C) Mix all spices with the olive oil in a small bowl. Place squash in a large bowl, add the spice mix, and stir so that the squash is entirely covered. Roast the squash until it is very soft and starting to brown (25-40 min), stirring once or twice during the roasting process.

Salt-free pickles

Melissa Mead, Recipe Thread, 10 Jan 2010

One of the things I’ve really missed since I put myself on a reduced-sodium diet is pickles. (My mom makes the best sweet-and-sour pickles ever.) The salt-free pickles in stores contain potassium chloride, which isn’t safe for some people. And it has a nasty aftertaste, at least to me.

For Christmas, my husband and parents gave me a cornucopia of salt-free seasonings. One was Sauerbraten spice. I sniffed it and thought “This smells like pickles!” ( http://www.thespicehouse.com/spices/sauerbraten-spice-blend- I see they have “real” pickling spices too.)

Yesterday I tried the following experiment:

1 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
1 tblsp Sauerbraten spice
1 tsp dill weed
1 tsp garlic powder

Mix ingredients together, heat, and stir until the sugar is dissolved. (Don’t inhale the steam!)

Slice approx 2 cups of cucumbers into a glass bowl. (Our store’s pickling cukes didn’t look so great, so I used a bag of “snacking cucumbers” that looked like baby European ones. A bit pricey, but they had a nice crunch.) Pour the liquid over the cucumbers (is it called a brine if there’s no salt in it?) and refrigerate overnight.

Given my track record with cooking, I expected that today I’d find that I’d ruined some beautiful cukes. Nope. They were tangy, sweet, sour, crunchy… they weren’t as good as my mom’s, and they still had a note of raw cucumber, but they tasted like Real Pickles. And they have no salt at all. Wink

Halloumi Salad

Lissy, 8 June 09, ‘Summer Foods’ thread

I love to eat halloumi salads in summer – grilled halloumi cheese with veges, also grilled – most importantly capsicum, I prefer this with yellow and red capsicum.

I mix up a dressing of olive oil, basil pesto, garlic and lemon juice (if no pesto available, processing fresh basil with the other ingredients works fine). Some of the dressing goes on the cheese and veges, the rest is reserved for post-cooking drizzling. Meanwhile, toast some almonds and (if you can) pick crisp lettuce leaves and rocket. To make a full meal I’ll also cook cous cous, then toss the lot together. Yum.

Long summer evenings with this for supper with a chilled Marlborough Sauvignon blanc – I look forward to that! The only trouble is that it’s very difficult to get decent halloumi in nz – it all melts far too fast compared to the Cypriot version.

Tomato Salad

Susan from Athens, 7 June 09, ‘Summer Foods’ thread

In my book the ultimate summer food is tomato salad: wonderful fresh tomatoes are a wonderful seasonal vegetable and at their very best now. Currently I am enjoying a salsa I made in the evenings and served over rusks, although it is just as good over rustic brown bread.

I chop up three to four spring onions and marinate them in a bit of olive oil and vinegar. “A bit” is colloquial for enough for them to be sitting in the oil but not actually swimming in it, which is as accurate as I am willing to get (I always do things like this by eye, hand and mouth to the frustration of my mother who wants a precise recipe). I use red wine or balsamic, depending on my mood, sometimes a combination of both, but never too much: the vinegar is there to add a bit of zing not to drown the taste of the tomatoes. I add a pinch of salt and some oregano, sometimes some freshly chopped chives as well and let the onions marinate while I chop up sufficient quantities of three different kinds of tomato. Using more than one kind gives differences in texture and a deeper taste to the salad. I mix all this together add a pinch of sugar (only because the tomatoes are super-tart at the moment and I mean a pinch) and serve away.

Sometimes I have this with anthotyri cheese, at others with whatever else I’m in the mood for (it goes really well with pate, cutting through the fattiness).

Red Courgettes

AJLR, 17 July 09, Recipe Thread

2 lbs of courgettes (zucchini)
1 clove garlic
2 rounded T condensed tomato paste
1 T vegetable oil
Seasoning to taste
a few basil leaves (optional)

Skin and chop the garlic and add to the (hot) oil in a large frying or saute pan. Quickly cut each (already washed and trimmed) courgette right down the centre and then chop across on a slight diagonal at approx half inch intervals. Add to the pan with the garlic and fry until lightly browned on both side. Turn the heat down a bit and add the tomato paste and 2 T water, also the seasoning. I add a scant half tsp of sugar at this stage also, as it brings out the tomato flavour beautifully. Stir and fry for a couple more minutes, until the courgette pieces are well coated in tomato. Serve with a scattering of basil leaves if you have them to hand.

This goes with almost anything as a side dish. It’s also good as an omelette filling, or with cooked pasta stirred in and then parmesan grated on top.

A slight variation on this is to add a finely chopped onion once the courgettes are starting to brown, letting them cook together for a few minutes, then adding a can of chopped tomatoes instead of the condensed paste and allowing it to cook down a bit. Also very good.

Shrimp and Asparagus Improv Salad

Black Bear, Recipe thread, 3 January 09

Get a small bunch of thin asparagus spears, and cut ’em up in half inch pieces.

Heat up a pan with a little olive oil.

Take a shallot and mince it up as fine as you can; set aside about a tablespoon of it, and then put the rest of the shallot, the asparagus, and a pinch of salt in the pan and saute them til the shallot’s looking translucent and soft, and the asparagus pieces are tender. Should take about 5-6 minutes.

In the meantime–oh, wait, maybe you shoulda done this first–cut up some cooked shrimp into chunks. If you hate shrimp, no reason you couldn’t do this with some bits of stir-fried chicken, or anything else that’s bitesized (and already cooked.) Toss the meat into the pan and saute for just enough time to warm it up–if you’re using cooked shrimp, they’ll get tough if you cook them too much longer, plus they release a lot of liquid. So just another minute or two really ought to do it.

For the salad dressing, put 3 tbl of olive oil, 2 tsp of your favorite vinegar (i’ve got some with garlic in it, which is nice) and the shallot, plus a little salt and a tablespoon of grainy mustard in a jar, and shake it up til the mustard dissolves.

Get a bowl of your favorite salad greens–I used Boston lettuce last time–and put the shrimp/asparagus shallot mixture over it, then drizzle the dressing over the whole mess. There you go.

Sweet Potato Biscuits

Robin: December 11, 2008: And we have to get on with the food

This was also from Cold Weather Cooking by Sarah Leah Chase to begin with, before I took it apart and put it back together again.  Mind you, her original is fine.  I just like mine better.

Sweet Potato Biscuits

2 large sweet potatoes

½ c slightly salted butter, melted

1 c all-purpose unbleached white flour

½ to 1 c wholemeal or (preferably) wholemeal spelt flour

¼ c malt syrup, for choice.  I didn’t discover this stuff till I moved over here, so it may not be available in the States.  Otherwise ¼ c honey is good, or 2T molasses, or 2T molasses and 2T granulated sugar.  All of these will be much sweeter than the malt, which is fairly subtle

2 tsp baking powder

Stab two large sweet potatoes several times with a knife and put them in a moderate oven (in a pan. They will leak) for 30-45 minutes, till they are very soft.  Let cool enough so you can handle them.  Then cut (lengthwise) in half and scrape out the contents into a bowl.  Add the melted butter and any runny sweetener and beat till smooth.  An electric mixer is a boon here.  When you’re done if the mixture is any warmer than tepid, let it cool some more.

Now beat in the first cup of flour and if you’re using any granulated sugar, the sugar.  I do this with a spoon although I suppose you could go on with a mixer.  Then start adding the wholemeal flour roughly by handfuls.  Shortly before you think you’ve added enough flour–you’re going to have to roll or pat this out, so it can’t be too sticky–add the baking powder.

You can then do it right, and roll it out (flour both your counter and the rolling pin), cut with a biscuit cutter, gather your scraps together and reroll and recut.  This does make very stylish proper biscuits.  Or you can cheat, line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, and pat or roll (depending on how clever you are about using a rolling pin over a cookie sheet, ie with a brim, it does take a little practise) the dough out–don’t try to fill it up to the edges:  the dough will be fairly elastic, and you can tell when it’s stretched as far as it wants to–and then cut it up into about twenty rectangles, or whatever shape and number look good to you as you stare down at that cookie sheet whilst thoughtfully waving a knife, which will grow back together again when they bake, but not too badly.

Bake at 425° (or possibly 450 if you trust your oven) 15-20 minutes.  Eat them as soon as you won’t burn your mouth.  Gloriously unspeakable vice includes splitting them, running them briefly under the grill to get faintly brown and crusty, and then loading ‘em with butter and maple syrup.

Gingered Sauce Asparagus

LibraryKat: Thanksgiving Eve: December 1, 2008

Very simple recipe, really. 1 tablespoon each of rice vinegar, soy sauce, peanut oil, water, tahini (sesame paste), and sugar; 1 teaspoon of chopped ginger, 1/2 teaspoon of chopped garlic, and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Combine everything in a food processor or blender (I have a “baby” processor that’s perfect for this small amount). Take 48 medium asparagus spears, cleaned and trimmed, and cut them on the diagonal into 2-inch pieces and put into a pot. Boil water, pour over the asparagus and let it sit for about 2-3 minutes, depending on how crunchy you want the asparagus to be. Drain, put into a bowl, and pour the sauce over the warm asparagus and toss. Serve it warm or at room temperature.

People who normally don’t like to eat asparagus will eat this. My younger son doesn’t like asparagus, but he decided the sauce improves the taste “about 95%.”

Favourite Carrots

Mori-neko, 19 October, Recipe Thread

First you take some carrots (peeled or not as you prefer, but washed at least), and cut them into coins as thin as you can (1/8th to 1/4 inch is about right).

In a pan over medium-low heat, melt some butter (how much depends on how many carrots. For 5, we generally use about a tablespoon), then toss in a handful of brown sugar and a pinch of salt. Basically, you’re making a caramel. Add in a bunch of black pepper (sometimes we add some cayenne too).

When it’s all melted together add in the carrots and a bit of water (to loosen the sauce so that it’ll cover the carrots). Cook until the carrots are done.

Jewels and small coins

Susan from Athens, 19 October, Recipe Thread

A stir fry for two people as an accompaniment to grilled chicken or salmon. I christened it because the vegetables are jewel bright and the multitude of seeds look like small coins.

1 long seedless cucumber, peeled and cut into 3cm segments, each of these quartered
1 red pepper, de-seeded, cut into thickish short strips
2 tbs vegetable oil for stir frying (I use olive, but peanut is better)
2 cloves garlic crushed
2 tbs grated ginger
1 tbs sesame seeds
1 tbs flax seed
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 tbs soy sauce
a few drops sesame oil

Mix the wine with the soy sauce and half the ginger in a small bowl and set aside.
Heat a wok (or a cast iron frying pan), and once hot, add the oil, swirl around and stir fry the cucumber and pepper until the cucumber just begins to change colour, but no more. Add the garlic and the other half of the ginger and stir to distribute evenly, until the scent rises aromatically, then the seeds and stir until they start to pop. Pour the wine mixture over, cook for another two minutes. Remove from heat, dot with drops of sesame oil and serve with grilled chicken or salmon.

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