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Thursday
Nov152012

ROASTED ACORN SQUASH + HARVEST SALAD

sprouted kitchen

About a month ago now, I was invited to Wisconsin to get a better look into their thriving cheese community. I was aware prior to my visit that Wisconsin is big into cheese, but I had no idea how much people live for it over there. I had seen those cheese-head hats, which yes, they do sell at the airport, but that is no joke. These people are serious about cheese. A small group of us were able to tour the grounds of some great cheese makers, both small and large scale, and I was so impressed by how passionate these people are about their craft. What a pleasure it was to learn from people who know their subject so well. I am not a cheese afficiando, I have my favorites but I eat it pretty sparingly. That said, I hadn't seen the process run its course from the start of seperating the curds and whey, adding the cultures, shaping, caring, and the details of aging the cheese. What an art. I am so attracted to people who love what they do, and do it exceptionally. Not to mention that the landscape was gorgeous and it was refreshingly chilly while we were having a 90° October at home.

I've been brainstorming what to bring for my Thanksgiving side dish and fiddled around with a cheese I had tried at Uplands Cheese. It's similar to a gruyere - creamy, nutty and bold. If you're looking for something with vibrant color and a bit of richness, squash and greens with a hint of cheese is my favorite combination. This salad is still a favorite. Not that it will only do for the holiday, but I figure that's the topic of the week, so I wanted to participate. Happy meal planning. I've got my stretchy pants ready. 

sproutedkitchen

ROASTED ACORN SQUASH + HARVEST SALAD // Serves 4

The dressing included is from the House Salad in my cookbook. It's pretty mild and the perfect amount of creamy. I also think Aida's tahini dressing would be interesting here if you aren't planning on using the cheese. Or hey, maybe if you are. If you need a quicker fix, a 2:1 ratio of a great quality extra virgin olive oil, white balsamic and pinch of salt + pepper will do. In any case, go easy on the dressing or the salad portion of the dish gets too heavy. 

sprouted kitchen

  • 1 acorn squash
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil or melted coconut oil
  • 1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • few pinches of salt
  • 4 cups arugula
  • 1/2 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1 cup halved, red grapes
  • 1 rib of celery, sliced thin
  • 1/3 cup toasted pecan pieces
  • a hearty handful shaved, Gruyere-type cheese (I used Pleasant Ridge Reserve)
  • // dressing //
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp. crème fraiche
  • 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp. honey 
  • 1 scallion, white part only, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • ½ tsp. sea salt
  • ½ tsp. fresh ground pepper

sprouted kitchen

Preheat the oven to 400'.

Cut the acorn squash into quarters, scoop out seeds and prick the flesh a few times with a fork. Drizzle the squash with the oil and vinegar and rub it around to coat, being sure the flesh is coated. Lay them cut side up on a baking tray, sprinkle with salt and bake for about 35 minutes or until the outer edges are crisp and you can easily pierce through the flesh. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

In a mini blender or food processor, blend all dressing ingredients until smooth and combined. The dressing can be prepared up to three days in advance. Combine all the salad ingredients, besides the cheese, in a large bowl and toss with a few Tbsp. of the dressing (or desired amount). Arrange the squash on a plate and stuff the centers with the green salad. Top with desired amount of the shaved cheese and fresh ground pepper to finish. 

I was invited to Wisconsin by the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

sprouted kitchen

Tuesday
Nov132012

11.13.12

You dislike this picture. It was taken from an awkward angle. I was holding the phone at a diagonal above our heads. The sun was bright and in our faces from the wrong direction...whatever that means in photo lingo. I love it for so many reasons beyond the composition of the photograph. I love that you are making me laugh, as you often do. I get your sense of humor and you exercise it constantly with me. You calm me when I need to be calmed, you give me pep talks when I need to be pepped, you're quiet when I need silence, but at any given time, you can make me laugh. I LOVE that. This picture is from last week when we were picnicking on the Salt Creek Hill - a place you and I both feel at peace. You for the ocean and how alive it makes you feel, and I for the overall expansiveness of the view. That view makes me feel small in a big world. This picture was from last Tuesday, we were both able to take a break in the middle of the day to picnic. I never take the flexibility of our work schedules for granted. The flexibility that allows us the freedom for the occasional mid-day picnic and that somehow we pay our bills and eat well. Sometimes I stress at you "we aren't working hard enough." Panic! This stress is not because I don't trust you. It is merely because sometimes, when we're eating a La Sirena picnic on the hill, this life feels too good to be true. Thank you for convincing me to do the work I enjoy. Please know I always want that for you too... even when I panic. Back to the picture. You're kissing me, and affection is second nature to you. For me, physical touch is something that is intentional. But for you, it is part of your communication. The bun squeezes while I'm cooking, the hand on my waist when you first wake up, the open armed late night greetings at the door when I get home from work. I hear you. I see you. I'm so lucky to be yours.

Today, November 13th, we have been married for two years. Remember the crazy fun, perfect party we had? Perfect... if you don't count the music going out when I was at the top of the aisle with my Dad. But all things considered, it was damn perfect. I think we would both agree that year one and year two of being married have been different. The floundering that happened in year one felt more steady as time passed. We dedicated year two to knowing each other better, to loving the other how they most feel loved instead of how we most easily give love. We don't get it right all the time, but this year, you have filled me up more than ever, and as I most needed you to. I feel known by you. That sounds so hippy-dippy, but I think that's what we all want in this life, to be understood, and you are the person who understands me. This year we chose to seek counsel, to get advice from the older and the wiser about marriage and communication. We learned to apologize quicker and more willingly than before. This past year is the one I most frequently stormed up to the couch late at night. One time I took all the bedding with me, practically guaranteeing you'd come after me. I love the (charming, in retrospect) visual of me wrapped in a giant comforter at the top of the stairs, upset about who knows what, while you're truly trying to talk me down (maybe arguing back?) and just as the crazy had run its course, you swooped in to make me laugh. Which is why we have a photo of this moment. One day when we get the hang of doing this well and become the older and the wiser, I will show young couples this photo. Let's keep it real, for everyones sake, you can love each other deeply and still get unbelievably pissed.

I love our real life - the laughing, the picnics, the affection, the learning, the fighting and desire to be a better version of ourselves out of the love for the other... and if any of it does turn out to be too good to be true, I will be right next to you the entire time.

Happy Anniversary, Hugh Forte. I love you SO much.

Thursday
Nov082012

WHOLE WHEAT PERSIMMON RICOTTA SCONES

sprouted kitchen scones

"If you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely."

- Roald Dahl

Loving that quote. Today I am happy about vibrant green vegetables, impromptu dancing with my babe of a husband, your emails and comments, my health, dreaming up a big trip for next year, new favorite nail polish and so many new cookbooks (I've had enough of the social networking crankiness from this election week, bring on the good thoughts!).

To read through Deb Perelman of The Smitten Kitchen's book felt sentimental for me. The photos and writing are so quintessentially Deb. When I was trapped in a cubicle, I poured over her and Heidi Swanson's work. Printing out all the recipes I wanted to try (in color, of course), put them in plastic sleeves, and in a three ring binder because those things are at your disposal working in an office. I still have the binder, originally inspired by these two ladies, and now bursting open, far from organized with everything I've ripped out from magazines in the past few years. I'll stretch that baby pretty far before I buy a new binder. I emailed Deb when I first started this site, the kind of question I am sure she gets multiple times daily. I can't remember verbatim, but it was something to the effect of, "So, I started a blog. What do I do now?" Her response was short but perfect. She poignantly suggested that I cook and write authentically. That I stay true to myself and the way I want to cook - the process should be fufilling for me first, people will follow that authenticity, and I won't be dissapointed trying to create something that is chasing popularity alone. And maybe that isn't verbatim either, but it was certainly the jist, and it has always been in the back of my head as the best advice I received when making a blog, this journal, my own. I'm sure most of you are familiar with her site. She is witty, to the point, detailed and opinionated. Those same qualities come through in all the recipe headnotes of her new cookbook. She tells you the what, why and how, making the process easy to understand and foolproof. From someone who is not a perfectionist about the cooking process, I greatly respect people like Deb who test and fiddle until they've got the texture, taste and directions just right. I won't say it's necessarily health-focused, for those who are looking for books with gluten and dairy alternatives, but a number of the recipes are adaptable for preferences and allergies. She leaves no stone unturned, some of the most well written recipes I've seen, and you can see her hard work and quest for accurate recipes so clearly in her first book. Congratulations, Deb. 

sprouted kitchen scones

WHOLE WHEAT PERSIMMON RICOTTA SCONES // Makes 8-9 scones

Recipe lightly adapted from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman

Deb calls for raspberries in her recipe, which look beautiful and I'm sure taste even better. My pastry eater around here isn't big on raspberries, so I tried a version with the persimmons I've been getting in my CSA basket and added a hint of fall-ish spices. If you want to stick with the original, substitute raspberries for the persimmons and eliminate the spices. 

The lesson I've learned the hard way, a few times, is to not over handle the dough. It's fine if there are chunks and bumps in it, the less futzing around with the dough, the better. Deb makes a note that this dough is damp because of the ricotta, which is what makes them so tender, so keep your hands and counter well floured. Regarding do-ahead tips, "Scones are best the day they are made. However, you can make and divide the dough, arrange on a baking sheet and freeze them until firm, then tranfer them to a freezer bag. If you're prepping just one day in advance, cover the tray with plastic wrap and bake them the day you need them. No need to defrost them, just add another 2-3 minutes to you baking time."

  • 1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 Tbsp. aluminum free baking powder
  • 1/4 cup natural cane sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp. each of cinnamon, cardamom and ground ginger
  • 6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, chilled
  • 1 cup finely chopped Fuyu persimmons
  • 3/4 cup whole milk ricotta
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream

sprouted kitchen scones

Preheat the oven to 425' and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 

Mix the dry ingredients together, the flour through the spices. Add the butter with a pastry blender, and cut the butter into the flour mixture until the pieces are the size of small peas (this can also be done with your fingers, just be quick to not warm the butter, or a knife). Toss in the persimmons and break them up a bit with the pastry blender.

Using a flexible spatula, add the ricotta and heavy cream to the butter mixture and stir them in to form a dough. Working quickly, use your hands to knead the dough gently into an even mass.

Transfer the dough to a well floured surface, flour the top of dough, and pat into a 7 inch square, 1 inch high. With a large, sharp knife, divide the dough into nine scones. Transfer the scones to the prepared baking sheet with the spatula. Bake the scones for about 15-18 minutes until they are lightly golden at the edges. Cool them on the pan for a minute then transfer to a cooling rack. 

sprouted kitchen scones

Thursday
Nov012012

ROASTED BUTTERNUT PENNE WITH PISTACHIO PESTO

Any other subject matter at this time, seems commonplace next to what is happening on the East Coast. My thoughts and prayers are with the families and business' who are hurting right now. I am inspired by the sense of community that comes from disasters like Hurricane Sandy and how we are capable of rallying around each other to make the best of things that are beyond our control. We need people.

-- 

Earlier this year, I contributed to six different publications about vegetarian Thanksgiving dishes. Six! That's a lot! I realize that turkey is a big deal, but is it often people's favorite part of the Thanksgiving meal? Don't answer that. It's too late. My favorite part has always been the fresh vegetable side dishes, as they always seem the canvas for creative flavors and trying new things. I made this salad last year and my sister in law is bringing these green beans to the big dinner this year. Thanksgiving is typically a spread of heavy foods, lots of cream, gravy, butter and while I get that this is tradition, I self impose the responsibility to bring a contast to that. I'm testing out a few recipes in search of a new dish to bring to my family's table this year, and this one is certainly in the running. Maybe not the lightest of the options per se, but I try to contribute something that can act as a main dish for the vegetarians and a tasty side for everyone else. I wrote the vegetarian menu for a great spread in this months Everyday with Rachael Ray magazine, and while flipping through it to find my recipes, I earmarked this great looking pasta dish. I don't often make pasta, I can probably count the times on one hand, but this recipe had the potential to be more vegetable than starch focused. I like my pasta heavy on the vegetables, light on the pasta, so that is where you'd notice the biggest change in the original recipe. I added more squash, lots of greens and scaled back the amount of pasta. They also call for pepitas. I used toasted pistachios because I love them and already had some in my pantry. If you're bulking it up for an omnivorous family, some sausage could nudge itself in here, though I'd argue the dish lacks nothing on its own. 

This has been a pretty crazy season for us. Lots of travel, work, special occasions, book promoting and what not. All great things, but not exactly in moderation as of late. I'm really excited for life to slow up a bit in the next few months so I can process it all and soak this past year in. I need some stillness, quiet, time of staring into the vast ocean, long dinners with good friends, and an overall refresh. All of that is totally reasonable as we're heading into the holidays, right?! Until then, there will be some tasty squash penne.

ROASTED BUTTERNUT PENNE WITH PISTACHIO PESTO // Serves 4

Adapted from Everyday with Rachael Ray Magazine, November 2010

I used a brown rice penne from Jovial pasta (a new favorite, the texture is wonderful for a GF pasta). I am not particularly fond of penne, for no good reason, and think small shells or some tagliatelle would work great too. The pesto can be made a few days in advance and kept in a covered container in the fridge. Any extra can be mixed with a splash of water and more lemon juice for a fabulous salad dressing. I would double it for that specific reason but I'll leave that up to you.

 

  • 2 lbs. (one large) butternut squash, peeled seeded and cut into 1'' pieces
  • 2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil or melted coconut oil
  • 2 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • bit of fresh grated nutmeg
  • 8 oz. brown rice, quinoa or whole grain penne pasta
  • 2 huge handfuls (about 3 cups) well chopped baby spinach or swiss chard

 

 

  • // pistachio pesto //
  • 1 large/ 2 small cloves garlic
  • zest and juice of one meyer lemon or lime
  • 1/3 cup toasted, unsalted pistachio nuts
  • 1 jalepeno or serrano, seeded (I leave a few seeds for spice)
  • 1 cup packed herbs, such as cilantro, parsley, chives, basil
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan or pecorino, plus more for garnish
  • 1/4-1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • few pinches of salt and pepper

 

Preheat the oven to 450' and set a large pot of salted water to boil. 

On a large rimmed baking sheet, toss the butternut cubes with the olive oil (enough to coat), smoked paprika, salt, a grate of nutmeg and toss to coat. Bake for about 20 minutes or until edges are charred. 

Cook the pasta according to instructions, reserving a cup of the cooking water. 

For the pesto, add the garlic, lemon zest and juice to the processor and pulse a few times to break down. Add the jalepeno, pistachios, herbs and parmesan and run the processor to mix, about 30 seconds. Drizzle in the olive oil and a few pinches of salt and pepper until combined. Taste and alter as desired. If you want it thinner, add a splash of water or oil. 

In a large mixing bowl, combine the pesto, greens, drained pasta and half of the pasta water and toss gently. The warm pasta and water will wilt the greens perfectly. Add water if needed. 

Garnish with a fresh grate of cheese, pepper and any leftover herbs. 

Monday
Oct222012

EVERYTHING COOKIES

What I love most about her is her creative thoughtfulness. My Aunt Suzy sent care packages to my dorm room in college themed around the given holiday or "brain food" when it was time for finals. She makes these really delicious cookie-brownie bars that I hesitated to share and always included a homemade card. I could spot her hand writing anywhere, small and long, just a bit loopy. Aunt Suzy never forgets a birthday, is the first to organize family dinners or the Christmas gift exchange. When Hugh and I got married, the venue had lounge couches that were a bit worn, to say the least, and my aunt sewed new slipcovers for them. I mean, seriously. I wouldn't have even done that for my own wedding. I can't paint a colorful enough picture of this exceptional woman. She is a leader, organized, a problem solver, assertive and goofy enough to soften those qualities out. Always the generous type, she piped in during my book writing process to be a recipe tester when I mentioned I needed more feedback. As I could have assumed, her emails to me were full of detail, responses from her family and how she visited multiple markets in search of mushroom broth. She has always made me feel loved through quality time - be it an intentionally themed care package, planning a coffee date when we haven't chatted in a while, or the support and effort she showed me when the process of writing a book overwhelmed every part of me.

Now, as an aunt of two girls myself, I see more clearly every way she has cared for me and how that love has matured as I've grown up. Surely you can read through the lines how much I admire her, and how strong she is. The type who trained to climb Half Dome, in Yosemite, CA right after her second year of chemotherapy. Her cancer is back for a third time, a battle I know many others are watching a loved one fight, and I am motionless on how I can give love back to her. Every letter I start seems underwhelming, as I cannot relate to what she is going through or how defeated this must make her feel. How do I tell her I am angry and completely scared while being a voice of hope, encouragement and support? I want to be her most enthusiastic cheerleader, while still needing to kick my feet that this is not fair. I brought over soup a few weeks ago, which felt so lackluster compared to how my heart feels - a feeling I can't put my finger on let alone communicate to her. So I baked. Not to give these cookies away, but to be in a familiar process, to slow down, and let myself feel sad so I can be a niece who sits right next to her, as I'm confident to say we're both scared.

I bookmarked this recipe in the newly released Small Plates and Sweet Treats: My Family's Journey to Gluten Free Cooking by Aran Goyoaga of Cannelle et Vanille. It's truly a stunning book, beautiful and romantic in the same way that Aran's blog is. Her book takes you through the seasons featuring gluten free desserts and small meals that are full of color, creativity and fresh produce. I am excited to try her bread recipe and a few of the soups as the weather around here is getting a bit of a chill. I had the ingredients for these cookies, always a reinforcement to make something immediately, and they are just as delicious as I assumed they'd be. The book is beautifully designed and photographed, like a fairytale of gluten free foods. Congratulations to you Aran, I'm glad to have your fabulous cookie recipe in rotation around here. The book is a treasure to be proud of. 

EVERYTHING COOKIES // Makes 24

Recipe from Small Plates and Sweet Treats by Aran Goyoaga

I only tweaked one thing in Aran's recipe to avoid a trip to the market. She calls for 1/2 cup superfine brown rice flour and 1/4 cup tapioca starch and I substituted 3/4 cup gluten free all purpose flour (I use King Arthur, which has rice flour and tapioca starch in it). I found this substitution to work fine, though maybe a tad more delicate, but want you know what the original states. 

 

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup natural cane sugar
  • 1/2 cup dark muscavado or dark brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup gluten free all purpose flour (see note)
  • 1/3 cup buckwheat flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup mini chocolate chips or chopped chocolate
  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans (or hazelnuts)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes, roughly chopped

 

Combine the butter and both sugars in a stand mixer and mix for three minutes. 

Add the vanilla and egg and mix to combine, scraping the sides. 

Add the gluten free flour (or rice flour if using), buckwheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Mix until dough just comes together. 

Add the chocolate, oats, pecans and coconut. Mix until ingredients come together, dough will be sticky. Transfer the dough to a piece of parchment and roll into a tight log 16'' long and about 2'' in diameter. Refrigerate for one hour. 

Preheat the oven to 350'. Cut the cookie dough log into 1/2'' thick disks. Place the cookies on a parchment lined cookie sheet, spaced 2'' apart. Bake the cookies for 8-10 minutes, you want them to look slightly underbaked. They get very crispy if overcooked, air on the side of undercooking. 

The raw dough or baked cookies keep for 5 days.