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Wednesday
Feb062013

MAPLE SPICE DELICATA, FENNEL + KALE BOWL

My oven was down for a few days. Actually closer to a week... even longer if you consider it was only heating up to 300' - max. Something about the gas valve. I cook often, but it'd be dramatic and exaggerated to say I use my oven every day. I go on cooking binges but I can certainly get by without it for a week, no huge deal. From the moment the maintenance guy said he needed to order a part and to not use it in the meantime, all I could think about was what I NEEDED my oven for. We need another lemon loaf. I was out of granola. I've seen all these wonderful photos of homemade bread and while I've tried and failed before, I must try again, immediately. But since he said not to use it and I didn't want to risk the kitchen filling up with gas and blowing up, we kept meals simple and stovetop. I was dreaming up recipes yesterday and Hugh mentioned a theory about creativity actually thriving in confined parameters. Infinite freedom is too chaotic, there needs to be parameters whether it be money, time, space, a theme, lyrics etc. - constraint based creativity. With a bit of googling, turns out a number of people have written on creativity blooming within restriction versus a vast blank canvas. Twitter for example, the 140 character confinement that revolutionized social media.

Fast forward to today, and it seems that the oven hiatus pushed me to try new things. I didn't need to make granola or another lemon loaf. I actually needed to not make those things to get out of a rut. I finally bought a waffle iron after talking about it for two years and made my new favorite chocolate treat that I'll post next week. This all sounds like a complete "first world problem" but you catch my drift. I needed my oven to break down is what I'm trying to say. 

I've had a few delicata squash appetizers in the past few months that I can't get out of my head. One was back in Portland at Clyde Common, an understated pile of roasted delicata with a handful of greens, shaved parmesan and hazelnuts and another was generously bathed in brown butter and topped with crumbled amareti at Mozza. The squash pairs so perfectly with warm and sweet spices and the fact that you can eat the skin makes them that much more attractive. It's honestly past delicata squash time around here, they were gone in a blink. Just as I'd given up, promising to pay closer attention when fall rolls around again, I found a few lonesome ones at a market I don't often frequent. I hope you can find some near you, but some chunks of butternut or kabocha can work here just fine. A warm salad, a side dish, a whole meal if you'd like with the addition of some lentils or a poached egg. I will add some toasted hazelnuts next time, or maybe a sharp, dry cheese. Let me know if you add anything you like. Call it what you wish, but I've been dreaming of this warm, spiced bowl of my favorite squash. 

Speaking of bowls, I wrote a recipe for Wisconsin Cheese showcasing their gorgonzola and they created a video of our process. Have a look if you're interested. 

MAPLE SPICE DELICATA, FENNEL + KALE BOWL // Serves 4

A note on texture. As written, the kale ends up somewhere between a kale chip and sauteed kale - crisp edges and a tender center. If you want it more crisp, make sure your kale is completely dry and add 5 minutes to the baking time. If you prefer it less crisp, take 5 minutes off the baking time, giving it just enough time to wilt. The squash and fennel have some kick, if you don't like too much spice, eliminate the red pepper flakes. 

  • 3 small delicata squash (about 1 - 1.5 lb. total) skin on, halved and seeded
  • 1 large fennel bulb, reserving fronds for garnish
  • 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 Tbsp. Grade B Maple Syrup
  • 1 tsp. whole grain mustard
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. fresh grated nutmeg
  • salt (smoked or sea salt) + pepper
  • 1 bunch purple kale, stems removed
  • 3 Tbsp. minced red onion

Preheat the oven to 400'. Arrange one oven rack in the upper third and one on the bottom third. 

Slice the squash into 1'' half moons. Slice the fennel down the center, cut out the tough core, slice into 1/2'' wedges. Spread everything on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with 1 Tbsp. of the olive oil, maple, mustard, cayenne, red pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg and a few generous pinches of smoked salt and pepper. Toss gently to coat everything, adding another drizzle of oil or maple if it seems too dry. Roast in the upper third of the oven for 35-40 minutes or until the squash is tender and caramelized, tossing the vegetables half way through. 

Rip the kale into large chunks, drizzle it with remaining olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Spread it on another baking sheet. At the 30 minute mark, move the squash tray to the lower rack and put the kale on the top rack. Bake for 10 minutes until the edges are crisp. Add your minced onion and gently toss everything together. Enjoy warm. 

Monday
Jan282013

MEYER LEMON LOAF

The weekends have been full recently. I have taken on a couple catering jobs, there have been house guests, birthdays, baby showers and such. All good things, but full. No glorification of busy here, believe me, I like the fullness, makes the quiet and stillness sweeter. No matter the pace, a little breakfast and coffee is my favorite - it gets my buns out of a warm bed. Usually eggs when I can sit and enjoy, granola when I need to be quick, and now, this lemon loaf keeps reappearing in the rotation.

I am not exactly fulfilled by the tinkering of a recipe, maybe a little bit, but it's either good or it's not - I log it away or forget it. This is the fourth time I've made this lemon loaf. The tinkering part is out of character, the lemon obsession is part of my consitution. Meyer lemons are sweeter and less puckering than a standard, likely Eureka, lemon. I made the original (Deb is known for dependable recipes), then I have been adapting it, to be both dairy and gluten free in the following renditions. Each of them have looked different. Each of them have been tender and moist, an understated sweetness and perfectly lemony. It's just the brightness you need with coffee on a chilly morning.

MEYER LEMON LOAF // Makes one 9'' loaf

Adapted from the Grapefruit Pound Cake in The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook

The original recipe calls for 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour. I wanted to play around with some gluten free flours and came out with the amounts below. I realize it may be a high maintenance combination for some of you, and a GF All Purpose blend of your choice would be fine as well. If there is no need for you to make it gluten free, use the unbleached all purpose, but I wanted to give the option for those that prefer or need it this way. The original will pop up in the center, the GF version stays slightly flat on top. My oven is being moody and the temperature has been inconsistent, so mine fell. Tastes fabulous regardless of appearance.

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup whole milk yogurt, buttermilk or coconut milk
  • 2 heaping Tbsp. meyer lemon zest
  • 2 Tbsp. meyer lemon juice
  • 2 tsp. lemon extract
  • 1/3 cup turbinado sugar
  • 1/2 cup natural cane sugar
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 1/2 cup rice flour
  • 1/3 cup oat flour
  • 1 Tbsp. flaxseed meal
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • lemon glaze
  • 1/3 cup meyer lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp. natural cane sugar

Preheat the oven to 350'. Grease a 9'' loaf pan.

Whisk the eggs, olive oil, yogurt (or alternative), zest and juice of the lemon and lemon extract together well.

In another mixing bowl, combine both sugars, almond flour, rice flour, oat flour, flaxmeal, salt, baking soda and baking powder and mix together. Add half of the dry mix to the wet, stir to combine, add the rest or the dry and stir everything together. Pour the mixture into a prepared 9'' loaf pan.

Bake for 40-50 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. While the cake bakes, make the glaze. Combine the lemon juice and sugar in a small saucepan over low heat and cook until the sugar dissolves. When the cake is finished, let it cool for 10 minutes before inverting (if you choose). Prick holes in the top and pour the glaze over the warm cake. Let the cake cool completely while it absorbs the syrup. I enjoy mine with pom seeds because I honestly can't get enough of them.

Thursday
Jan242013

WINTER GREENS + CRISPY QUINOA SALAD

sprouted kitchen

We had an impromptu dinner at a friends house on Monday. There was a group text started in the late morning to have dinner that evening on a friends patio. They have a gorgeous view and the weather had warmed up a bit. Nothing fussy or elaborate, just grilling up a big piece of salmon, rice and I planned to bring a salad to share. There were chips and salsa. There are always chips and salsa at a backyard dinner now that I think of it. I crave this kind of thing - the patio dinners with friends. Going out to eat is pleasant, but it's meals with people I love that I soak right up - in a home, dirty dishes and all, mine or theirs, all of it. We drank wine, lingered around the table and laughed. I haven't practiced much of my mantra about the communal aspect of food, which is why I'm recently making more of an effort to have people over for dinner, or to gather some way, in any sense of the word. You see, when your identity is defined by cooking and blogging and writing books and recipes, people assume you make really good food all the time. But the thing is, a lot of the time I mess up, and it's not always good, and I've tried my hand at short ribs for Hugh or guests FOUR times and I can't get them right. So passively, I've let my errors every now and then back me into a corner of not having people over as often as I'd like. Some nights we have breakfast tacos for dinner, and you can't have people over for dinner and feed them breakfast tacos... except you CAN! I just learned that this week, inspired by a dinner with people whose company I truly enjoy. I am going to have people over and it doesn't have to be expensive or a grand effort, just an act of generousity with the intention of spending time together over a meal. It's an uncomplicated plan, really.

If you come to my house for dinner, there will be vegetables. I cook them much better than I do short ribs. I know I'm a little spotty when it comes to cooking meat, but I can make salad. I made a big batch of this dressing to have on hand, and then kept everything pretty and simple to go along with a protein of choice. Maybe some grilled shrimp or get a fresh fish filet at the market. The salad is just right - the easy, likeable sort. The perfect salad to share.

sprouted kitchen

WINTER GREENS + CRISPY QUINOA SALAD // Serves 6

When cooking quinoa for this salad, especially to help it crisp up here, you want to use a 1/1.5 ratio of quinoa to liquid when cooking. For example, I cooked 1/2 cup rinsed quinoa in 3/4 cup vegetable broth. You want a drier, slightly undercooked quinoa before you fry it up so it gets crispy. 

  • 1 Tbsp. coconut oil
  • 3/4 cup cooked and completely cooled quinoa
  • 1 head butter lettuce
  • 2 cups arugula
  • 3/4 cup toasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup pomegranate seeds
  •  
  • // meyer lemon yogurt dressing //
  • 1/4 cup meyer lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced or grated
  • 2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. honey
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 tsp. dried italian herbs (mine is a mix of oregano, parsley + basil)
  • pinch of pepper
  • 1/3 cup whole milk greek yogurt or sour cream
  • 3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

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Heat the coconut oil over high heat in a frying pan. Once it's hot, add the cooked quinoa and saute for about 2-3 minutes until dry and crisp. You want the steam to release and hear the crackling, add a bit more oil if needed. Set aside to cool completely. 

Prepare the dressing. Whisk the lemon juice, garlic, vinegar, honey, salt, herbs, pepper and yogurt in a bowl. Whisk in the oil, taste for seasoning and alter as you wish. This can be made up to a week in advance. 

Toss both greens in the dressing to coat, top with the crispy quinoa, hazelnuts and pom seeds and serve immediately. 

sprouted kitchen

Wednesday
Jan162013

PEANUT BUTTER BITES

I remember being anxious to be out in the "real world," but I really liked school. Not because I was a particular genius but I like assignments and tasks, and with school comes homework - something you start and complete. I loved binders and new folders and mechanical pencils and fine ballpoint pens. I made sure the dividers were labeled by subject so I didn't loose track of anything. I did my state report on Colorado with a more than adequate amount of decoupaging of magazine pages for visual effect and my mom and I built a California mission out of clay complete with plastic Indian men glued down in the courtyards for scale. Even when school was more about writing papers than crafts, I read and took notes the best I could. Diligently, if not the most comprehensive or pertinent come essay time. I've been out of school for years now and a similar pleasure comes from making lists of things to do for the week or what I want to cook, necessitating another list of what I need at the store, organized by section, mind you. I know, I roll my eyes at me too.

Hugh and I booked our big trip for the year. I mentioned it was in the cards but now we actually have tickets! I have already reverted into school mode with lists and researching hotels and figuring out the best neighborhoods to stay in and compiling must-visit bakeries, coffee shops and restaurants. I LOVE it. I adore travel, but the anticipation of it and having something to look forward to makes it twice as wonderful. I keep squeezing Hugh in gratitude for hoarding airline miles for years because I am giddy-happy. The rough plan is to do France, Belgium and The Netherlands. Not too much moving around because I like to just be in cities, not always hustling in and out of them. Each of us have visited Paris, but I'm over the moon to be there together. We'll train up to Antwerp and Amsterdam and be open ended enough to see and do what we want in between.

I've got a few months before I start packing the ziplocks, but these date sweetened peanut butter bites would make a fabulous travel snack. The texture and taste remind me of a slightly less sweet Lara bar. These "cookies" are made with ingredients you likely have in your pantry, take all of about 10 minutes from start to finish and can calm a sweet tooth without sitting too heavy. A few have asked about go-to snacks, or food for trips so I'm happy to hand this idea over. 

PEANUT BUTTER BITES // Makes about 16 small cookies

Recipe adapted from La Mesa

Because I know someone will be curious, I have not tried these with any other nut butter, but I suppose they're pretty versatile. If I had cocoa nibs on hand they would be incredible here. I wouldn't turn them down, but a peanut butter cookie is not my first choice. Peanut butter and chocolate however, makes more sense to my mouth. The sharp chocolate cuts through that unmistakable peanut richness and all is right. If you have cocoa nibs or want to add some finely chopped chocolate, I would guess a 1/4 cup will do and pulse it in with everything else.

1 cup almonds

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1 cup pitted dates

heaping 1/2 cup peanut butter

two pinches of salt (if your pb isn't salted)

In a food processor, pulse the almonds until a coarse meal forms. Add the vanilla, cinnamon, dates, peanut butter, and salt if using. Pulse everything together until they are generally uniform in color and texture. The mixture should stick together when pressed between your fingers. If it seems dry, add another Tbsp. of peanut butter. 

Roll dough into scant tablespoon size balls. Press them down with a fork to make a cross hatch. Repeat with remaining dough. Cover and keep chilled in the fridge. 

Thursday
Jan102013

SQUASH + GOAT CHEESE EMPANADAS

sprouted kitchen

My overarching theme for this year is about being brave. I realized at the end of last year, that fear motivates a lot of things I do or decisions I make. The fear of failing, of people not liking me, a fear of being misunderstood or undervalued, fear of pain or conflict or not having enough money. It's wasted time really, and I recognize that. There is a Donald Miller quote, "fear is a manipulative emotion that can trick us into living a boring life," and I sure don't want that. The most rewarding moments I can remember have been those when I pushed myself a little. I don't have much to say on the topic besides that it's on my mind. To take risks, to make decisions prior to over thinking them, to stop worrying so much. No tiny violins at all, I just hope that in my writing, my food and my time here, I can trust myself a bit more. 

I haven't had the greatest luck with pastry dough but Hugh has an affinity for empanadas so they've been on my "to make" list for quite some time. Americans call them hand-pies, Italians call them calzones, the Argentinians call them empanadas and they're each some version of a stuffed dough. I love the spiced squash and goat pairing here, but you could play around and fill them with whatever you like. The small ones would make cute appetizers or the larger ones would be easy to pack for a picnic or a road trip. I will make these again, hopefully with a bit more patience on the dough side of things.

Hope you enjoy them. Happy weekend.

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SQUASH + GOAT CHEESE EMPANADAS // Makes about 20 minis or 10 larger

Recipe adapated from Give Me Flour

I suppose you could use any winter squash you'd like here. I tried to give options for spice and herbs, so you can alter the filling to your preference. I used chipotle powder for a bit of heat, but smoked paprika will work well too.

// dough //

 

  • to spare repeating, see here
  • (the only change I made was sub in 3/4 cup whole wheat flour for some of the unbleached flour)

 

// filling //

 

  • 1 small butternut squash
  • 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 shallot, finely minced
  • 1 tsp. smoked paprika or chipotle powder
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped green herbs (some combination of sage, parsley, cilantro, thyme)
  • 5 oz. goat cheese (her choice) or jack cheese (his choice)
  • egg wash (1 egg and a splash of water, well whisked)
  • sesame seeds

 

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Preheat the oven to 425'.

Follow the dough recipe according the link provided. Wrap it up and keep chilled in the fridge. This cane be done a day in advance.

Cut the squash in half lengthwise. Drizzle it with the olive oil and rub it into the flesh and a bit on the skin. Sprinkle it with salt and cinnamon and roast for about 45-50 minutes, or until the flesh is very soft. Remove and let it cool completely.

While the squash is cooking, saute the garlic and shallot in a bit of olive oil until just browned. About 8-10 minutes.

Once the squash is cool to the touch, scoop the flesh into a bowl. Add another pinch of salt, the paprika or chipotle powder, nutmeg, the sauteed garlic and shallots and the green herbs. Use the back of a fork and mash everything together well. Taste the mix and add as you wish, maybe a bit more salt, heat, etc.

Turn the oven down the 350'. Prepare a parchment lined baking sheet. Roll out the dough to about 1/8'' thickness on a floured work surface and press out the circles for your empanadas. You can use 4'' cutters for small ones, or 6-8'' for a larger size. Leaving plenty of space around the edge, put a dollop of the squash in the center, followed by a dollop of cheese, and fold the circle over. Press the edge with your finger to seal and then press along the edge with the tins of a fork. This got a bit messy for me, stay calm. Lay the empanadas on the baking sheet and brush the tops with the egg wash. Sprinkle the sesame seeds and some thyme leaves and bake on the middle rack for 30 minutes or until just golden. Enjoy warm.

sprouted kitchen