Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Nothing smells more like autumn than the smell of roasting squash in the oven, especially when it’s basted in olive oil, pressed garlic and herbs. I picked up a beautiful organic 2-pound butternut squash at the market, peeled and de-seeded it, and diced it into 3/4 inch cubes.  Then I tossed in in a mix of olive oil, fresh marjoram, garlic, corriander, cinnamon, cumin, black pepper and salt before roasting for an hour at 350 degrees.

The scent alone is to die for, but the flavors are aromatic and complex, amplified by a half-a-lemon’s worth of juice a little extra olive oil and toasted pecans.  Then toss with some fresh arugula, drizzle with a little aged balsamic and top off with some shavings of peppery pecorino cheese.  Amazing. … Or, just eat the roasted squash alone!

Portuguese Kale Soup

Back to this space after a couple months of forced hiatus, thanks to a hectic work schedule that sucked the creativity out of my kitchen time.  And to kick off fall, wanted to share this amazing soup that packs a spicy punch with hearty, autumnal ingredients.  Italian sausage, red new potatoes, kale, and kidney beans dance together in this pot-o-goodness.

Portuguese Kale Soup

4 ounces spicy turkey or Italian sausage

1 medium yellow onion, diced

2 stalks celery, coarsely chopped (3/4 cup)

4 cups chicken stock + 4 cups water

8 ounces kale, thick stems removed and leaves sliced (8 cups)

1 clove garlic, minced

12 ounces red potatoes, halved and sliced (2 cups)

1/2 teaspoon hot red pepper sauce

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 can cooked red kidney beans, drained

(1) Remove casing from sausage, crumble and brown in a 5-quart stock pot. Drain on paper towel when cooked through, leaving 1 tablespoon of oil in the pot.

(2) Cook onion, celery and garlic over medium-low heat in the oil til softened. Return sausage to pot, and add stock and kale.  Bring to a simmer, cover and cook 10 minutes.

(3) Stir in potatoes, red pepper sauce, salt and simmer covered, 20 minutes or until potatoes and kale are tender. Then add the beans and cook until heated through.

Not quite sure what makes it ‘Portuguese,’ to be honest. (I take my Aunt Karron for her word that it’s inspired by the folks from Lisbon.)  All that matters is that it’s unique, addictively delicious and pretty healthy too.

I haven’t been able to hit the park for a picnic with friends this summer because of the non-stop, scorching heat. But these two jazzed up picnic sides have made great lunch items, evoking the essence of dining al fresco without stepping foot outside.

I tossed local baby potatoes I fetched at the farmers market with olive oil, white wine vinegar, Dijon mustard and freshly cracked pepper and sea salt to taste.  Tossed in a bundle of chopped Italian parsley for color and bright flavor — three crisped, diced  three strips of smoked bacon. Awesome.

These baked beans are to die for:  not sweet and tangy like their classic barbeque counterparts, but light and smoky and incredibly flavorful.  The salty diced ham stews with the onion, celery, carrot and garlic — simmers with diced tomatoes and wilted chard.  The blend of white navy beans and tan pinto is delicious.  (h/t Food Network Mag)

When I think of lemon bars, I think of my Grandma Betty, and her puckered lips and beaming smile after taking a bite of one of these tangy-sweet treats.  She loved to make a batch, usually with lemon jello or pudding mix, and then refrigerate them so they were cool.


Inspired by Betty, I made these bars for a recent picnic and barbecue. (h/t Bon Appetit 2004)  They’re a wonderful eggy-custardy texture on top, and the coconut in the crust makes adds a chewy, tropical dimension on the bottom.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar and garnish with some red raspberries on a platter — turned out great.

Two of my favorite candy bars growing up were Mounds — dark chocolate covered chewy coconut — and it’s sweeter, milk chocolate sister Bounty. Since the latter isn’t marketed in the U.S., I remember hoarding pocketfuls of the bars on summer trips to Canada and carefully rationing them when I got home.  They are worth it!

This is a baked take on those treats, turned inside out:  Moist, rich dark chocolate cake filled and topped with creamy coconut-vanilla frosting and sprinkled with coconut flakes.

I love this chocolate cake recipe from scratch, using Ghirardelli cocoa powder, courtesy Gourmet Magazine from 2004. My coconut-vanilla frosting recipe follows below.

Coconut Vanilla Frosting

2 sticks unsalted butter, room temp

1 can coconut milk, reduced until thickened (use 1/3 cup)

2 1/2 cups powdered sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla

pinch of salt

1 3/4 cups sweetened coconut flakes

(1) Blend butter, sugar, coconut milk, vanilla and salt with an electric mixer until smooth.  Add more milk if too thick to taste.

(2) Frost bottom layer of cake, adding 1/2 cup of coconut flakes spread evenly on top.  Then add top layer.

(3) Frost top layer and sides of cake.  Sprinkle remaining coconut flakes on top and along sides.

There’s something consistently comforting about homemade meatballs and tomato sauce for Sunday supper.  Maybe it’s the act of mixing and rolling the meat with your bare hands; an organic and ritualistic labor of love. Or, perhaps it’s just the sweet warm aroma of onion, garlic, fresh basil and tomatoes wafting off the stove.  Whatever it is, we couldn’t get enough of it this week when we tried Lidia Bastianich’s “polpette” with our spicy tomato-basil sauce. Instead of serving the dish over spaghetti, we baked a pan of polenta and then fried the squares in olive oil.  Light crunch on the outside with a soft, warm, heartiness on the inside — perfect with a dollop of tangy sauce.

Turkish Fish Stew

I’ll admit the thought of a fish stew didn’t immediately grab me for a fun weeknight in the kitchen. But upon closer inspection of this recipe, the layers of Mediterranean flavors were very intriguing: garlic, artichoke hearts, capers, green olives, white wine and tomatoes. Wow.

Served over couscous, it didn’t disappoint.  Fresh lemon juice and chopped ginger, cumin and basil, crushed red pepper. So many flavors that intertwine to create a zesty, light — and healthy! — dish.  Tilapia was on sale at the market and it worked out perfectly here.  Give this one a try.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.