Saturday, March 22, 2014

Farfalle with Butternut Squash, Sage & Sausage

Although butternut, onions and sage are more autumnally associated than most flavor combinations, this is one of my favorite pasta dishes to make whenever there's a chill on the breeze, and this Smarch weather still certainly allows for plenty of roasted butternut squash.  I love farfalle for this dish, as each piece makes a solid and sturdy shelf on which the squash and other goodies naturally collect. Plus, seeing all those the bow-tie shapes fanned out on the plate is pleasing to the eye, or at least my eye! No matter what pasta shape you use though, it'll be an incredibly tasty and filling dinner.

Farfalle with Butternut Squash, Sage & Sausage
Makes 4-6 servings

*1 medium butternut squash
*1 lb farfalle pasta (preferably De Cecco)
*2-3 links hot Italian sausage, casings removed
*1 small onion, diced 
*4 cloves garlic
*12-15 fresh sage leaves
*3 tablespoons toasted pepitas
*1/4 cup freshly grated Parm-Reg plus extra for dusting
*1 tablespoon butter

Preheat the oven to 400 and cut the squash in half. Scoop out the guts and brush the flesh with olive oil and season with S&P. Place the squash flesh-side down on a baking sheet and pop in the oven to roast for about 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, towards the end of the roasting time, put on a large pot of water to boil and salt it well. Saute the sausage, breaking it up with a wooden spoon. Set aside when cooked. Add a tablespoon of butter drizzled with some evoo and saute the onion until nice and soft, seasoning as you go. Add the garlic in and continue to cook for a couple more minutes, then set the onion and garlic mixture aside with the sausage. Turn up the heat and add a little more evoo if necessary to fry the sage leaves. Once they are crisp, set aside on a paper towel to drain.

Boil the farafelle until al dente. While the pasta is cooking take the squash out and scoop the soft innards into a bowl and mash with the Parm-Reg. Drain the pasta, reserving a little of the pasta water, and then after quickly wiping out the pasta pot, throw in the pasta, squash mash and sausage/onion/garlic mix and combine everything well, seasoning to taste. If it seems a little dry, wet it with some of the reserved pasta water. Crumble the sage, reserving a leaf or two for final garnish, and mix it in along with the toasted pepitas. Serve with an extra dusting of Parm and some more sage crumbles. 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Brussels Sprout Hash

I was ambivalent towards Brussels sprouts for a long time, thanks to that certain sulfurous smell of boiled sprouts that issued forth from the kitchen whenever my old roomie would cook them (sorry Meg!!). I recently had an amazing dish of a roasted sprout salad, and decided it was high time to try to experiment with them. This recipe was adapted from a couple found on Epicurious and has worked itself into my regular rotation. It's tasty, pleasingly crunchy, and makes for an excellent side for just about anything. Nix the bacon, and it's a great vegetarian dish too.

Brussels Sprouts Hash
Makes 4 servings

*1 tablespoon butter
*4 shallots, thinly sliced
*Pinch sugar
*2 scant teaspoons apple cider vinegar
*10 oz Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
*Small palmful of toasted pecans or almonds, slivered
*1/2 small Granny Smith apple, cut into matchsticks
*2 slices bacon, chopped into small pieces (optional)

Melt a tablespoon of butter with a drizzle of evoo in a skillet over medium-low. Add shallots, sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper and a pinch of sugar, and caramelize for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Scoop out the shallots and set aside.

Then, fry the bacon and mince; set aside. Cut the halved sprouts into very thin ribbons and add to the skillet, turning the heat up to medium. Saute about two minutes and then splash in the vinegar. Continue cooking for a minute or so then add the shallots, apples, nuts and the bacon. Toss well and season to taste.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Cream Scones

In an effort to have some palm-able breakfast options around the house, I started looking at scone recipes and was intrigued by a couple that were made with only cream, no butter. The recipe in this post on Chowhound was my eventual inspiration, as it looked like an incredibly simple and fantastic base recipe to incorporate into the rotation. I decided to doctor up the scones with orange zest and dried cherries, but customize yours in any way you'd like! I think next time I'll be trying caramelized onions, sharp cheddar and bits of bacon for a super-savory version.

Cream Scones (with Dried Cherries & Orange Zest)
Makes 8 servings

*2 cups flour
*1/4 cup sugar
*1 tablespoon baking powder
*1/2 teaspoon salt
*Pinch cinnamon
*2/3 cup dried cherries
*1 tablespoon orange zest
*1 1/4 cups heavy cream
*1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
*Raw sugar (optional)

Preheat the oven to 425. Sift the dry ingredients together in a bowl and add the dried cherries and zest. Stir together the cream and vanilla extract and then combine with the dry ingredients, using a fork. Still using the fork, mix to a rough mass, then turn out onto a lightly floured board and knead briefly (only a couple times) just until the dough holds together. Pat into a 7 inch circle, or thereabouts. Brush the top with the drips and drabs of cream left in your measuring cup, then sprinkle with the raw sugar, if you'd like (I opted not to). Cut into 8 wedges. Separate the wedges and place on a parchment-coated baking sheet. Bake approximately 15-17 minutes until golden brown. Best eaten while still warm!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Winter Citrus Salad

Currently burdened by a nasty headcold in the midst of an unending winter, I yearned for a big bright hit of vit-C today. Luckily, my fruit bin just happened to be bursting with citrus. Halfway through absentmindedly peeling an orange, I was suddenly moved to cut and pare and arrange ALL my fruit into something pretty and sunny and worthy of a wee blog post. It's barely a recipe, but don't discount the mood-lifting power of a plate of glistening, jewel-like cuts of orange and vermillion and pink!

I whipped up a couple tablespoons of plain yogurt, minced mint, squeezes of citrus and a little honey and drizzled the dressing over the salad as you can see in the bottom picture, but feel free to use some mint infused simple syrup or a mere squeeze of lime to add a little extra zing to your salad.

Winter Citrus Salad
Makes 2 servings

*1 grapefruit
*1 blood orange
*1 orange (or clementine)
*Sea salt
*Palmful of shelled unsalted pistachios or pepitas
*Mint leaves

Cut the fruits into slices and then using a paring knife, remove the pith and rind from the rounds. Arrange the pieces on a platter and dust with a teensy pinch of your best sea salt and scatter some pepitas around on top. Tuck some mint leaves in for garnish.

Pro-tip: zest your oranges before cutting and paring and then either use the zest immediately or freeze for another use later.