Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Sweet and Savory Butternut Squash Linguine

I had never had butternut squash in pasta before, but I was browsing the great internet after I bought some butternut squash that was on sale and found a recipe on the New York Times website for a butternut squash pasta that inspired me to create my own.  

I love to pair spicy with sweet, as you may have noticed, and this pasta is no exception. I baked the squash with cayenne, cinnamon, and brown sugar for a little bit of a flavor twist and I have to say the results were outstanding. Also the tangy asiago cheese offsets the sweetness of the butternut squash just right. 

On a practical note if you roast the squash in advance this could be a pretty simple and quick meal to throw together. 


Sweet and Savory Butternut Squash Linguine
1 Butternut Squash
½ lb. Whole Wheat Linguine (Ronzoni’s brand is the best I have tried so far)
2-3 tablespoons Brown Sugar divided
3/4 teas. Cayenne divided
1 teas. Cinnamon divided
½ teas. Nutmeg
1-2 tablespoons Butter
1 cup (approx) Chicken Broth (could easily use vegetable broth or white wine)
Asiago Cheese grated
Slice butternut squash in half and scoop out seeds. Brush is melted butter and sprinkle 1 tablespoon brown sugar, ¼ teaspoon cayenne, ½ teaspoon cinnamon, and nutmeg onto the butternut squash and bake at 350 for about an hour or until the squash is soft enough to mash up. Once the squash is done cooking scoop it out and mash it into a paste (this should be easily done with a spoon since it is already so soft) in a bowl then heat a 12 inch skillet on medium and add a tablespoon or so of butter to the skillet. Put the squash into the pan with the rest of the spices and sugar and add in chicken broth slowly to make a very thick sauce for the pasta (it should not be soupy at all, just loose enough to coat the pasta easily). Meanwhile cook pasta according to package directions and toss into the skillet with the butternut squash mixture. Grate asiago cheese over it and serve. 

Monday, November 22, 2010

Savory Meat Galette

I have wanted to make a meat pie for years but for some reason never got around to doing it. Well a few weeks ago I finally did make one and it was just as awesome as I thought it would be. I've always seen meat pies made with steak but I opted for ground turkey because that is what I had in the freezer; I also decided to add a few more veggies into the mix, including green peas, which are pretty much my favorite go to vegetable. 

All of the recipes I looked at for inspiration showed this glorious food being baked in a pie plate but I thought it would look cool as a free form pie, a.k.a. galette - also, I didn't think the thing would fit into a standard 9" pie plate. I was a little nervous about making a galette because I wasn't sure if it would stick together or if the filling would spread out while cooking; happily the galette stayed exactly as I shaped it an looked really nifty, kind of rustic and homey. 

Galette before it is baked - isn't it cool!
Anyway, below is the recipe for the filling along with my standard pie crust that I have been making for years. This crust has never disappointed me. Although I have heard many people talk about how difficult it is to make pie crust, this recipe has always been kind to me and all the pies I have made with this crust have turned out perfectly, nice and tender and flaky - just the way I like it. 

Savory Meat Galette
6 oz Frozen Green Peas
16 oz Ground Turkey
5 Red Potatoes diced
1-2 Onions diced
4-5 Carrots chopped
1 ½ cups (approx) Chicken Broth
2 tablespoons Flour
Olive Oil
Fresh ground Pepper
Pie Crust (Recipe below)
Roast Potatoes, carrots, and onions in a 400° oven drizzled with olive oil, salt, and pepper for 20 minutes. Cook turkey in a frying pan until browned. Coat peas with flour and put into frying pan with the cooked turkey, continue to cook while adding in broth on low heat to make a gravy. The gravy should just coat everything in the pan with enough to still coat the roasted vegetables. Roll out pie crust until it is slightly thicker than it would normally be for a fruit pie. Put crust onto a large cookie sheet and pour meat and vegetable mixture in the middle, then shape the pie dough around the mixture to form a galette (a fancy name for a pie that is shaped free form). Bake at 375° for about 50 minutes or until crust is browned on the top and sides. Let cool for a few minutes before slicing open and enjoying.

Flaky Pie Crust Recipe (Taken from “The American’s Woman Cook Book” circa 1938)
1 ½ cups Flour
½ teaspoons Salt
½ cup Cold Butter (can use shortening or for extra flavor cold bacon grease)
4-5 tablespoons Ice Cold Water (can sometimes take more – add more as needed)
Put flour and salt into a bowl and cut in the butter with a pie cutter until the butter is in roughly pea sized shapes. Slowly add in water (you don’t want to add to much water or over mix the dough) mixing quickly with a fork until you can shape the dough with your hands and it mostly stays together. The dough will seem a little dry but if you shape it into a ball with your hands and it sticks than it is wet enough to roll out. Roll the dough out until it is less than a ¼ inch thick (the dough should be thick enough to handle whatever you put into it without tearing or breaking). Plain crust should be baked at 400°, but if it has a filling follow the temperature directions for that.

Note on the pie crust: Not mixing the dough too much is very important to a flaky pie crust because the little pellets of butter that aren’t completely mixed into the flour are what make the crust “flake” while baking – making it tender and yummy. 

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Beans are Awesome

So, I would just like to write a quick interlude about beans. I make them all the time but I never seem to get a picture of them or the random recipes I make using them, hence putting off a post on beans, but I figure "what the hell," I will write about them anyway. I pretty much stick to making black beans because they go in almost anything (I think). I soak them all night because in my experience they still take a good 6 or more hours to cook completely, which means I have to be home or make them in a crock pot and I don't currently have a crock pot. Buying and cooking dried beans make sense to me because it is a lot cheaper and more efficient than canned beans. Anyway, while I am simmering the beans (never boil them too harshly because you end up having to add too much water, for no real reason) I usually add in a generous amount of chopped garlic as well as cumin, coriander, chili powder, salt, and pepper - also, sometimes a splash of olive oil. The last batch of bean I made I used coriander for the first time because I read this article in the Washington Post about how well coriander and cumin go together - the author was correct, together they add a wonderful savory flavor to foods.

Black Bean Soup
Once the black beans are done (they should be soft and the bean broth should be viscus), I usually made an assortment of casseroles and nacho like dishes with them. The casseroles are usually layers of beans and sautéed onions/peppers/garlic and sometimes tomatoes and/or corn layered with cheese and corn tortillas or chips, depending on what I have on hand. This time around I made a bean soup with carrots and turkey sausage that came out quite good and I served it with corn bread and sour cream. Here is a picture of it on the right.

Also, here is a basic recipe for the casserole I was talking about along with more info on how I make the beans.

Southwestern Black Bean and Rice Casserole
3 cups (approx) Seasoned Black Beans*
1-2 cups cooked rice (I used leftover rice from another meal)
1 Onion diced
½ lb. Turkey Sausage (optional)
1-2 teas. Coriander
Salt to taste
4 oz Habanera Cheddar Cheese grated
4 oz Pepper Jack Cheese grated
10-12 Corn Tortillas
Sauté diced onion and sausage in a frying pan on medium high until onion is browned and sausage is cooked through. Then add in the rice and coriander and sauté until rice has absorbed some flavor and has softened up (about 5 minutes). Mix rice mixture and beans together. Lay about 4 corn tortillas down into a lightly greased 13x9 inch pan and spoon on a layer of the bean and rice mixture and top with cheese. Repeat twice. Bake for about 20 minutes at 350°. Serve with salsa and sour cream if desired.

*I made a pot of seasoned black beans the day before to use for this. I soaked the beans overnight and then the next afternoon (when I got home from work) I drained them and started them cooking on medium heat. I put about 2 tablespoons of chopped garlic in them and about 2-3 teaspoons of cumin, a little cayenne pepper and salt and cooked them for about 4-8 hours until the beans were soft and there was a thick sauce from the beans cooking down. 

Monday, November 8, 2010

Linguine with Roasted Asparagus in a Tomato Lemon Sauce

I've been getting over a cold for the past few days and haven't felt like doing much, but I am finally starting to feel better so I will be cooking yummy things again! I made this dish last week though, the idea of roasting asparagus and then adding it to pasta popped into my head at work and I decided I had to try it since asparagus was conveniently on sale at Publix (also, I love asparagus and will use any excuse to eat more of it). Lemon sets off the flavor of the asparagus nicely, so I decided to use some fresh lemons in the sauce. This came out really excellent, but it is quite sour so if you don't enjoy sour food that much use less lemon. I forgot to take a picture of this before I ate all of it but it is really pretty and colorful.


Linguine with Roasted Asparagus in a Tomato Lemon Sauce
½ lb. Whole Wheat Linguine (Ronzoni’s brand is the best I have tried so far)
2 lb. Asparagus
4 Fresh Tomatoes
1-2 Lemons zested and juiced (depends on how sour you like your food)
1 tablespoon Sugar
1 tablespoon Flour
1-2 teas. Lemon Pepper seasoning
Salt to taste
Fresh Ground Pepper to taste
Olive Oil
Asiago Cheese grated
Snap the base of the asparagus off and discard it (so that you only use the tender part), then snap again in half so that the pieces aren’t too big when in the pasta. Place the asparagus onto a large cookie sheet and toss with lemon pepper seasoning, pepper, salt, and olive oil. Roast at 425 for about 20 minutes or until tender (make sure it doesn’t get too soft, the asparagus should still hold its shape). Then roast the whole tomatoes with a little olive oil and salt and pepper for about 25 minutes at the same temperature until the skin of the tomatoes starts to crack and turn brown. Cool tomatoes slightly then remove skin and place the skinned tomatoes in a bowl and mash up slightly (so you don’t end up with huge tomato pieces in the pasta). Mix flour in with the lemon juice to form a paste and heat a large skillet to medium or medium low heat and place some of the tomato juice (from the bowl of roasted tomatoes) into the skillet with the lemon paste. (Meanwhile cook pasta according to package directions.) Cook until the flour begins to thicken the sauce then add in the rest of the tomatoes and cook until slightly thickened. Add in asparagus as well as the lemon peel and sugar and cook some more until the sauce is thick enough to coat pasta and then toss in the pasta. Serve with grated asiago cheese on top.