Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Sauteed figs

Such pretty sauteed figs. Such a nice camera that I got to borrow to take photos of Thanksgiving food.
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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Roasted autumn vegetables

Ok, this dish doesn't really have a name yet, though I would make it again, so maybe I should come up with something. This is the product of liking that galette I wrote about a few weeks back so much that I decided to make the filling as a stand-alone Thanksgiving vegetable dish. In fact, the promise of this dish inspired me to forgo my usual desserts and breads post for the big meal and head into the uncharted territory of vegetables, usually the domain of my mom, who last year rocked a root vegetable roast which I'd like to make sometime soon, if she still has the recipe.

To make it, I tossed the butternut squash cubes in a bit of olive oil, salt, and pepper, then roasted at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes, until it was soft and golden. Meanwhile, I caramelized the onions and, at the end, added a dash of cayenne to keep things interesting. As per the brainstorm after the original galette, I went to Monterey Market and went crazy in its impressive mushroom section. I ended up roasting a mixture of chanterelles, baby shitake, oyster, and crimini mushrooms.

I combined those three ingredients, added some salt, pepper, and fresh chopped sage, and sampled. And loved. It didn't need anything else, though tasting it after it had been cooling for an hour made it clear that I would have to reheat it before serving it. And I did, and it was a favorite. Success!

That's the pain about making vegetables for Thanksgiving though, that to find the oven and stove-top time to make sure it ends up hot on the plate is a real trick. I had to compete with two turkeys, stuffing, gravy, and bread for space. But it worked out, and I think it was one of the most delicious Thanksgivings to date. I can't wait until next year!
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Monday, November 26, 2007

Cranberry sauces

The two dishes in the foreground are Joel's great-grandma's (Mamo's) raw cranberry sauce (on the left), and my family's traditional cranberry salsa (on the right). I love both of these for different reasons. The Mamo cranberry sauce is made from apples, cranberries, a whole orange, and some sugar. You just blend it up and voila, cranberry sauce. And the cranberry salsa provides just the piquant kick that the Thanksgiving plate needs, that palate cleansing wake-up when things get a little slow.
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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Cookies as a meal

On Sunday, I made chocolate chip/oatmeal/pecan cookies using Joel's great-grandmother's recipe. Since then, I've been trying to exercise restraint, and as a result, there are still probably a dozen left.

Growing up, we had no cookie jar in the house because cookies never, ever made it that far.

Cookies are one of the only things I can think of that bait the angel and devil to take a shoulder perch. But they reason through everything, so maybe they're not so much angel and devil as little lawyers. In tiny blue suits.

Angel/blue suit #1 argues that cookies are dessert and meant to be eaten in moderation, as dessert, after a meal. It also points out that breakfast dessert and lunch dessert are not actual things.

Devil/blue suit #2 states that it knows the ingredients in the cookies, and that really, these cookies are not so different than breakfast. In fact, forget breakfast dessert, these cookies border on being proper breakfast food. There are two cups of oats, nuts and eggs for protein, and yes, there's butter and sugar, but what do you put on your toast, and have you looked at how much sugar is in even regular breakfast cereals lately?

This battle goes on a few times a day for as long as there are cookies in the house. Or at least until a couple of days have passed and another, distinct, tiny lawyer/devil/angel pops up to say, "Oh my god, those things are full of eggs and they've been sitting out on the counter for how many days? Forget worrying about whether or not they're breakfast or dessert, you're totally going to get food poisoning from those things." I get kind of an ambulance-chaser vibe from this last guy.

Butternut squash galette

Butternut squash is a contentious gourd around here. Joel isn't a huge fan but I am, so I'm always looking for ways to make it irresistible. Two surefire ways? Add a fantastic pastry or crust, and incorporate cheese. So I was intrigued when I found this butternut squash and caramelized onion galette on the SmittenKitchen blog.

Oh yes, it was good, and oh yes, Joel liked it. So much, in fact, that after dinner we started talking about making the filling as a vegetable dish. The gist of it is this: cut squash up into tiny cubes and roast until they're tender and brown. Caramelize onions and then add a bit of salt, sugar, and cayenne. Mix squash, onions, fresh sage, and fontina cheese together. Then, if you were to follow the recipe, you'd pile it all into the waiting crust, fold it over, and bake.

What I'd like to try, for Thanksgiving I think, is to add some sauteed or roasted mushrooms (Monterey Market has an extra-amazing mushroom selection right now. The other night I made spoonbread (to be detailed soon) with chanterelles and baby shitake). I'm not sure if I should keep the cheese or not. It might be a little heavy with the rest of the Thanksgiving meal, and it also might mask the flavors of the vegetables.
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