Monday, January 23, 2012

Maple-Braised Carnival Squash

This Boistfort recipe is incredible. I can barely stand to look at the picture without eating what's in it.

6 T. butter
One 3-to-3 1/2-lb. carnival squash, butternut squash, or other winter squash (halved lengthwise, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch chunks)
1 1/4 c. chicken broth (I made some with Better than Bouillon)
1/3 c. maple syrup (none of that Aunt Jemima fake crap)
1 T. minced fresh thyme leaves (or some dried thyme, which is what I used, because we didn't have any fresh)
Freshly ground black pepper
Coarse salt, to taste

Melt the butter in a very large, heavy-bottomed skillet over high heat. Add the chunks of squash, and sauté for 1 minute. Add the broth, syrup, and thyme. Bring to a boil. Then cover the skillet and reduce the heat to medium. Continue to cook until the squash is tender--8 minutes or so. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the cooked squash to a bowl. Boil the liquid in the skillet, uncovered, until thickened--4 minutes or so. Return the squash to the skillet, and toss to coat it with the reduced sauce. Add some pepper, then taste and add salt if desired.

Oh my. This is amazing and decadent.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Simple Radish Salad

This is my own creation. It's quick, easy, and tasty.

Radishes, sliced into thin rounds
Red wine vinegar, to taste
Coarse salt, to taste
Fresh or dried herbs, to taste (this time, I used dried oregano)

Drizzle the radish rounds with vinegar, then sprinkle with salt and herbs. Toss to coat.

Liam, Annika, and I all gobbled this up at lunchtime a couple weeks ago.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Roasted Pork with Carrots and Onions

Yet another recipe from Penzeys. Their version is waaaaaaay more photogenic than ours.

4-5 lb. pork shoulder roast (we used bone-in, but boneless would work too)
Vegetable oil (a tablespoon or so)
2 T. (or so) pork seasoning (we used Penzeys' 33rd & Galena)
2 onions, sliced into thin rounds
1 lb. carrots, cut into large chunks
1/2 c. (or more) apple juice
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Rinse and pat dry the roast. Rub it with a little vegetable oil, then coat it with the pork seasoning. Place the onions in the middle of a roasting pan, drizzle them with a little oil, and toss to coat. Put the seasoned roast down on top of the onions. Arrange the carrots around the roast, and drizzle them with a little more oil. Roast at 375 degrees F for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 325 degrees F. The roast will need about 2 hours total cooking time if it's bone-in, slightly less if it's boneless. Stir the carrots and any exposed onions every 20 minutes or so during the 2 hours of cooking. After the first hour, sprinkle them with the apple juice. Add more apple juice if everything seems to be drying out too much during roasting.

We could not figure out how to cut this roast, so we ended up hacking it to pieces. It tasted pretty good, but I'm not sure it meets our criteria for a repeatable meal.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Baked Beets and Shallots

This is another Penzeys recipe. Don't let the small ingredient list fool you--it's excellent.

4-6 beets, cut into large chunks
4-6 shallots, sliced
Olive oil (a tablespoon or so)
Coarse salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Freshly pressed garlic (a couple cloves)
1 t. crumbled rosemary

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Put the beets and shallots in a cast-iron skillet, other type of oven-safe & heavy-bottomed skillet, or a heavy metal baking dish. Add the other ingredients, and toss to coat. Cover the skillet with foil, and bake for about 60 minutes. The beets are done when a sharp knife can pierce them fairly easily. Add more salt and pepper to taste, if desired.

This is such a simple recipe, but it's really quite incredible. We cooked it for a dinner with some dear friends, and everybody raved about it.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Shredded Balsamic Brussels Sprouts and Shallots

Another Boistfort Valley Farm recipe.

Olive oil (a tablespoon or so)
2 shallots, thinly sliced
3/4 lb. Brussels sprouts, trimmed, cored, and shredded
1/2 c. water
Balsamic vinegar, to taste
Coarse salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shallots, and sauté until softened--about 3 minutes. Stir in the Brussels sprouts and water. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sprouts are tender--about 8 minutes. Add the balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper.

This tasted fine, but it was so not worth the tremendous effort of coring and shredding all those darned Brussels sprouts.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Chicken Pot Pie

Okay, I know it's been a long time since I last posted, but hopefully this amazing recipe will make up for my long absence. As a bonus, there'll be a whole lot of recipes to follow in the days to come. (Even though I've been blog-silent, we have indeed been cooking, complete with photo documentation.)

This is another recipe from a Penzeys catalog. We've made it two different ways--with puff pastry and with biscuit topping. I know puff pastry might scare some of you away from a calorie standpoint, but calorie-wise, these two come out about even, assuming you only do a top crust with each. However, they do have different features, which I'll point out in the comments.

with puff pastry

with biscuit topping

2 c. cooked, diced chicken
1/4 t. (or so) dried rosemary*
1/4 t. (or so) dried thyme*
1/4 t. (or so) poultry seasoning*
1/4 t. (or so) rubbed sage*
1/4 t. (or so) celery seed*
1/4 t. (or so) herbes de provence*
1/4 t. (or so) curry powder
Ground cayenne pepper, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Puff pastry (1 sheet) or biscuit topping (see recipe below)
Olive oil (a tablespoon or so)
2 stalks celery, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 onion, diced
1 c. potatoes, somewhat finely diced
One 13-oz. can coconut milk
2 t. chicken base (I use Better than Bouillon)
2 T. flour (to thicken)
1-2 c. frozen mixed vegetables, or a mixture of fresh veggies if it's summertime
1/2 to 1 c. water

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. If you don't have 2 c. cooked and diced chicken, cook and dice some before proceeding. Mix together all the herbs/spices and set aside. If using puff pastry, take it out of the freezer to thaw. Lightly grease a 2-quart baking dish and set aside. Heat the olive oil in a stock pot over medium heat. Add the celery, carrot, onion, and potatoes. Cook until softened, 4-5 min. Stir in the coconut milk and the chicken base, and cook until heated through--about 2 min. Add the flour. Cook, stirring, until the gravy is fairly thick. Add the pre-mixed herbs/spices, along with the cooked chicken and the frozen veggies. Stir until heated through. Add water to thin the gravy to the desired consistency. Then pour the mixture into the greased baking dish. If using biscuit topping, proceed to the recipe below. If using puff pastry, press/roll it out until it's big enough to cover the baking dish. Drape it over the dish, then pinch it around the edges of the dish to seal in the filling. Cut a few slits in the top of the puff pastry, and bake at 375 degrees F for 50-60 minutes, until the top is nicely browned.

*You don't absolutely have to use all of these if you don't have them on hand. (Case-in-point: I didn't have any celery seed, and the pie still turned out great.) Just use this list as a general guideline.

Biscuit-Topping Ingredients (if not using puff pastry):
1 3/4 c. flour (plus some extra for rolling out the topping)
1 t. salt
1 T. baking powder
4 T. butter, softened
1/2 t. freshly ground black pepper
1/4 t. granulated garlic powder
1 t. crumbled dried rosemary (optional)
3/4 c. milk
1 egg yolk mixed with 1 T. water (optional)

Sift flour, salt, and baking powder into a large bowl. Add the butter, spices, and milk. Stir well. Dust your rolling surface and a rolling pin with flour, then roll out the topping gently and evenly, turning twice. Make sure it's big enough to cover the baking dish. Drape it over the dish and seal the edges with a fork. Cut a few slits in the crust. Brush with the egg-yolk mixture if you want a deep golden crust. Bake at 375 degrees F for 50-60 minutes, until the top is nicely browned.

This is delicious. I never would have thought to use coconut milk in a pot pie, but it's an amazing touch, as is the spice mixture. My mouth is watering just thinking about this meal. The puff-pastry version was wonderfully buttery and flaky. The biscuit-topping version had a pleasant crunchiness, with a nice rosemary flavor boost. Either way you make it, you're in for a treat.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Barley Soup

This recipe from Penzeys is a cheap, easy, and tasty cold-weather classic. It's also great if you're recovering from illness, as I found out recently when I made it for some friends recovering from The Stomach Plague of 2011 . . . which we passed along to them. Sorry, Goffs! I imagine you enjoyed the gift of soup more than the gift of nausea that preceded it.

The soup's ingredient list is quite flexible. For example, you can add more carrots or leave out celery, depending on what you have on hand.

6 c. beef, chicken, or vegetable broth (or 6 c. water and 6 t. Better Than Bouillon, which is what I used)
1/2 c. pearled barley
2 carrots, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
2 small potatoes, finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 c. (or so) fresh parsley, chopped
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Add everything to a stock pot. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 50-60 minutes, until the barley is soft.

I'm making it again this week!