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Sunday, February 27, 2022

Roasted Winter Squash with Browned Butter

This is a rich and filling treatment for a vegetable; but yummy.


Roasted Winter Squash with Browned Butter

Source: NYTimes Cooking
Serves 4-6

1  butternut squash, 3-4 pd
3 T extra-virgin olive oil
salt and black pepper
3 T unsalted butter
1 teas apple cider vinegar, plus more, if needed
1/4 teas red-pepper flakes, more or less
1/2 c fresh min leaves, optional
or 1/4-1/3 c pine nuts
flaky salt, optional

Place a rack at the bottom of the oven and heat to 425F. You may want to put a pizza stone on the rack, if you own one. This will help brown the squash.

Cut the squash in half and remove the seeds. Peeling is optional (keeping the peel on keeps the squash from falling apart). Cut crosswise into 3/4 inch thick slices.

Place the squash on a rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with the oil. Spread and toss to distribute evenly and then sprinkle salt and pepper over all. Ensure the squash is in an even layer and place in the oven on the low rack. Cook until browned 20-25 minutes, depending on your oven. Flip and roast for another 5-10 minutes until browned on both sides and tender.

While the squash is cooking, make the brown butter by melting the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Swirl the pan occasionally until the foam subsides and the milk solids turn golden brown. It will smell nutty and delicious. Remove from heat and add the vinegar and red-pepper flakes. Add a pinch of salt and pepper. If you are roasting your squash in a range oven, you can keep this from hardening by setting it on the stovetop. If you've got a wall oven, make the sauce later in the roasting procedure. 

Cut a little squash off and dip into the butter mixture. You can adjust the vinegar (I added more), the salt and both peppers if needed. If it tastes good to you, spoon the sauce over the squash and top with mint leaves.

If you use pine nuts, as I did, let them brown in the browning butter.

Friday, February 25, 2022

Braised Zucchini with Cherry Tomatoes

This quick recipe may not be truly seasonal at the moment but we can almost always find zucchini and cherry tomatoes in the supermarket. Of course, in few months, it will be seasonal.


Braised Zucchini with Cherry Tomatoes

Serves 4

4 zucchini (8 oz each), scrubbed,  quartered lengthwise and cut crosswise into 2-inch pieces
1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
1/4 c water
2 springs fresh basil or substitute 1/2 teas dried oregano
2 garlic cloves, sliced thin
1/2-1 teas salt 
1/4 teas freshly ground black pepper pepper
1/4 teas red pepper flakes
3 oz (1/2 c) cherry tomatoes, halved (if you use grape tomatoes, you may leave them whole)
lemon wedges to serve

It's recommended you don't use zucchini larger than 8 ounces because they can be overly seedy, more watery and less flavorful. If you grow your own and have just picked them from the garden you may find them to be just fine in spite of their size. 

Place the zucchini, oil, water, basil sprigs, garlic, salt, black pepper, and pepper flakes to boil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Turn the heat to medium and cover. Simmer. Use a rubber spatula to stir the mixture every 3 minutes or so (the rubber spatula will be more gentle with the zucchini which tends to break apart). When the zucchini is fork tender (approximately 8-10 minutes) add the tomatoes and cook, uncovered for a couple of minutes until they have softened. Remove the basil sprigs and serve, passing lemon wedges. You can drizzle the finished dish with lemon juice if you prefer. 

Saturday, February 19, 2022

Farmhouse Chicken Chowder

Michael recently traveled to Idaho for steelhead fishing. When he's away, the kids know to expect lots of pasta and other high carb dishes. We discovered this soup last year during one of his trips, and it has become a staple of the "when Daddy is away" menu. 

The silky mouthfeel of this creamy soup is a main selling point for me, and the bacon and onion garnishes are a tasty addition. 


Farmhouse Chicken Chowder

Adapted slightly from Cook's Country:

6 slices bacon, chopped
6 scallions, white parts chopped fine and green parts sliced thin
2 carrots, peeled and sliced thin
1 celery rib, sliced thin
Salt and pepper
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
5 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 pound red potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
~3 c rotisserie chicken, cut or shredded into bite-size pieces 
1 cup half-and-half (or 1/2 c cream and 1/2 c milk)
3/4 c frozen corn

Cook the bacon in a dutch oven until crisp. Remove the bacon and put on a plate lined with paper towels. Spoon out all but 1 T bacon fat. Add the scallion whites, carrots, celery, and 1/2 teas salt and cook until softened, 5-7 minutes. Add the flour and stir frequently for a minute or two, until the flour is golden. 

Add broth and potatoes, then bring to a boil. Simmer on medium-low under vegetables are tender, 10-15 minutes. Add chicken, half-and-half, and corn and cook for a couple of minutes until the chicken and corn is heated. Season with salt and pepper, then garnish with scallion greens and bacon at the table. 

Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Roasted Chicken with Peaches, Basil, and Ginger

I'm always too busy cooking during peach season to post recipes so here's one to help me remember bright summer meals as I wait for the end of winter. 

Use crusty bread to soak up the delicious juice. 


Chicken with Peaches, Basil, and Ginger


This is about what I make for my family of 6, though the amounts are flexible. 

1 1/2 lbs peaches (firmer fruit is easier to cut but softer peaches will taste just as good)
3 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs
6 T extra virgin olive oil
6 T dry sherry or dry vermouth
6 T chopped basil
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 3-inch piece ginger root, peeled and grated
1 1/2 teas salt
1 1/2 teas pepper

Preheat oven to 400F. Halve the peaches and cut them into 1/2 inch slices. 

Toss together all ingredients except for half of the basil on a sheet pan. Roast for 20-25 minutes, until the meat is cooked completely. Sprinkle with the remaining basil. 

Quick Butternut Squash Soup with Apples and Bacon

Michael makes fun of me for eating soups primarily during cool weather and salads in the summer, but I stand by my seasonal eating habits. There's nothing quite like warming up from the inside out. Though this weekend will feel like spring, it's still winter for a couple of months, and this recipe is a quick option for butternut squash soup. 

I love that the technique in this recipe does not require cubing the squash, which takes forever. And, though you might not think bacon goes with allspice, the soup's flavors are delicious. I will sometimes garnish my bowl with toasted walnuts and chives, in addition to the bacon. This is lovely in a bread bowl!


Quick Butternut Squash Soup with Apples and Bacon

Source: How to Cook Everything Fast by Mark Bittman

8 slices bacon
1 medium butternut squash (1 1/2 pounds)
2 large apples
1 small onion
1 teas allspice
1/4 teas cayenne (1/16 teas for Betsy)
salt and pepper
5 c chicken stock
1 c cream

Prepare the squash: peel it, scoop out and discard the seeds, and cut into pieces that will fit well in a food processor. Bittman's instructions for peeling work well: "Cut the squash in half around the equator, stabilize the flat side on a cutting board, and work downward with a chef's or paring knife to slice the skin from the flesh, turning the piece as you work, then trim off the ends."

Cut the bacon into 1-inch pieces and begin cooking it in a large pot over medium heat. When the bacon is done to your desired crispiness, remove it from the pot and place it on a plate lined with paper towels, leaving the rendered fat in the pot.

While the bacon is cooking, peel, quarter, and core the apples. Then trim, peel, and quarter the onion. Shred the squash, apples, and onion in a food processor using a grating disk.

After the bacon is removed, add the shredded vegetables to the pot and turn the heat up to medium-high. Add the allspice and cayenne, along with a sprinkle of both salt and pepper. Stir and cook for about minute, until the spices are fragrant.

Add the stock and cream. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat so the soup simmers. Cook for 10-15 minutes, until the squash is tender. Turn the heat off and use an immersion blender to puree the soup.

Adjust the seasoning, if necessary, and then serve, garnishing with bacon.