Tuesday, October 15, 2013

roasted herb and cheese spaghetti squash

this was my first time making or eating spaghetti squash, and i must say i feel that i have been missing out! if you've never tried this fun food before, i highly recommend it! for a simple preparation that lets the flavor of the squash show through, try this recipe for roasted spaghetti squash.



start off with a small spaghetti squash - about 2.5 lbs. if yours is a little larger, you may need to increase the cooking time.


first, you want to cut the squash in half using a large, sharp knife on a stable surface. i put the point in the middle of the squash, then push down to slice it in half.


once your squash is in half, scrape out the seeds like you would a pumpkin. 


there will be a lot of guts scraped out as well. but don't just discard them - you can make a delicious quickbread with them! recipe coming next week. (or if you can't wait, you can use this one)



place the squash halves, cut side up, in a baking pan. brush with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. you'll bake them at 375 degrees F until the strands separate pretty easily when you scrape the sides with a fork.

you want the squash to still be a bit crunchy. if you bake it too long, it will become mushy.


now the fun part! use your fork to scrape from the sides into the middle, and across the sides horizontally to loosen all the strands. i was amazed how noodle-like the squash really is!


empty out the skins of the squash and discard. at this point, you can refrigerate the prepared squash, or you can proceed through the rest of the recipe.


chop up the herbs, garlic and shallot. i used fresh parsley, but any fresh italian herb would be good here.


saute the shallot until it starts to soften. throw in the garlic, give it a stir and cook for one more minute. add the squash to this mixture, and cook for about 3 minutes.

turn off the heat, mix in the herbs and top with the parmesan cheese.


this herb-y squash makes a nice side dish to a meal, or you can add in some cannellini beans for a light lunch!

roasted spaghetti squash

ingredients:

1 small spaghetti squash ( about 2.5 lb)
~2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

directions:

1.   preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. 

2.   cut the spaghetti squash in half, scoop out the seeds (save the guts!), and lay in a baking dish cut side up.

3.   brush the squash with the olive oil, and season with plenty of salt and pepper.

3.   roast the squash for 45 min-60 minutes depending on the size of your squash. you'll know its done when you can easily separate the strands of the squash flesh by scraping it with a fork.

4.   let the squash cool slightly, and then loosen the strands from the skin by scraping with a fork. discard the skin.



herb and cheese spaghetti squash
based on Martha Stewart's recipe

ingredients:

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 shallots, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups roasted spaghetti squash (recipe above)
3 tbsp fresh parsley, or other fresh green herb
1/2 cup freshly-grated parmesan cheese*

directions:

1.   heat the olive oil in a large skillet.

2.   add the shallots to the pan and cook until they start to soften, about 2 minutes. add the garlic and cook for one more minute.

3.   add the squash to the skillet, and mix with the shallots and garlic. let it cook for about 3 minutes.

4.   turn of the heat, and mix in the parsley (or herb of choice). sprinkle the parmesan evenly over the top and serve warm.


tips:

-   use any any freshly-grated, hard italian cheese. a mix is tasty as well.

-   you can roast the spaghetti squash in advance. just store it in the fridge for up to 3 days.

-   if you have tomatoes, throw them in with the shallots for extra color and taste.

-   add in 2 cups of cooked cannellini beans to make the dish a little more substantial, and you have a light meal instead of a side.

Monday, September 23, 2013

heirloom tomato toast

fall is definitely in the air, and the transition of seasons is becoming apparent at the farmer's market. amidst the fall vegetables, there is still summer produce yet. these beautiful heirloom tomatoes won't be around much longer. a perfect way to let their flavor stand out is with a simple preparation of heirloom tomato toast.


start out with a great crusty bread. my favorite loaf for this is a traditional San Francisco sourdough. slice it up, with approximately 1/2" thickness.


pick your favorite color heirloom tomatoes. red, yellow, green, and even purplish brown hues will all stand out at the table. gently cut the tomatoes into roughly 1/4" slices.


basil is up next. if your leaves are really small, you can leave them whole. for larger leaves, roughly rip them into smaller pieces.


toast your bread slices until they start to brown at the edges. take a raw garlic clove and rub it across one side of the toast. the garlic clove will start to diminish, almost like you are grating it along the toast's coarse surface. this step infuses the toast with a strong garlic flavor.


give the toasts a good drizzle of a quality extra virgin olive oil.


top with tomato slices and basil. for a seasoned touch, grind some fresh pepper and sea salt on top of the tomatoes.

 
there you have it. almost a non-recipe in its simplicity, but it is nonetheless a delicious and simple appetizer. should you be in the mood for something a bit fancier,  you can jazz up with say,  a scoop of fresh ricotta, some fresh shavings of parmesan cheese, or some capers.



an extra drizzle of olive oil on top is delicious, and feel free to switch the herb. as summer comes to an end, basil will not be as abundant. stock up now and then use a drizzle of pesto later.



heirloom tomato toast with garlic and basil

makes 4 appetizer servings

ingredients:

4 slices crusty, sourdough bread
1 large heirloom tomato, sliced in 1/4" slices
2 garlic cloves
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 large basil leaves, chopped
salt and pepper, to taste

recipe:

1.   toast sourdough bread slices until the surface is no longer soft, and the edges are just beginning to brown.

2.   take the garlic and rub the cloves along the top of the bread. it will almost be like you are grating the garlic onto the bread, as you will see the clove diminish. use about 1/2 clove per slice - more or less to your tastes.

3.   drizzle the toast with the olive oil, and top with the sliced tomatoes.

4.   garnish with the chopped basil, and salt and pepper to your tastes.


tips:

- to take it up a notch, try spooning fresh ricotta, parmesan, or capers over the toast.

- no fresh basil, but have some pesto stashed in the freezer? a drizzle of pesto would be a great stand in.

Monday, September 9, 2013

concord grape and melon pops

this was my first time splurging on concord grapes at the greenmarket. i wish i had not waited so long to try them! their concentrated and juicy flavor is a real summertime treat. they are delicious eaten fresh, frozen, or blended up with a sweet melon in my recipe for concord grape and melon ice pops!



i bought an adorable small melon called a sprite melon. it is very similar in flavor to honeydew, only a bit crunchier and without the green coloring.  if you don't have sprite melons in your area, a honeydew melon would work perfectly-it will just have a brighter green hue.



once i tried the concord grapes, i knew their flavor would be a sweet pairing for the melon.



start off by seeding the melon, and chopping the flesh into pieces. you'll be blending it up, so the uniformity of the pieces doesn't matter.




rinse the grapes and separate them from the stem. you'll need roughly 2 cups of melon and 1/2 cup of grapes for the recipe.




combine the melon with the juice of one lime, or about 2 tbsp. add 1 tbsp sugar (this will help the ice pops release from their molds) and blend well in a blender (i used an immersion blender).



once the melon mixture is smooth, reserve half to the side. 



add the concord grapes to the remaining half, and blend until the mixture is smooth except for some grape skin 'confetti' pieces.



if you are using the zoku pop maker, pour in the grape and melon mixture to fill the molds about halfway. let it freeze a bit, and then you can pour the plain melon mixture up to the fill line.

if you are using traditional pop molds, you can either keep the plain mixture refrigerated while the grape section is freezing, or you can just combine the two and make the pops in one color.



once the pops are done freezing, you can remove them from the molds. either enjoy immediately, or store them in a container in the freezer. depending on how much of each mixture you add and how firm the first grape mixture is, you can achieve a perfectly divided ice pop, or a more free form line.




melon recipe base inspired by zoku quick pops book
concord grape and melon ice pops
makes 6 zoku ice pops (about 1 1/2 cups liquid)

ingredients:

9 oz chopped sprite or honeydew melon (about 2 cups)
2 tbsp fresh lime juice (from one large lime)
1 tbsp granulated sugar
3 oz concord grapes (a generous 1/2 cup)

directions:

1.   combine the chopped melon, lime juice and sugar in a blender.

2.   blend until the mixture is smooth. reserve one half of the mixture and place it to the side.

3.   add the concord grapes to the remaining melon mixture in the blender, and blend until there are no more chunks of grape (pieces of skin are ok).

4.   fill the ice pop molds (either zoku or traditional freezer molds) halfway with the grape/melon mixture. let freeze completely.

5.   once the grape/melon mixture is frozen in the mold, pour the plain melon mixture into the molds, up to the fill line. let freeze completely.


6.   once the pops are completely frozen, remove from the molds and enjoy!



tips:


- if you refrigerate the blended mixtures before making the popsicles, they will freeze faster.
- if you don't want to wait for the mixtures to freeze separately, just combine them for a bright purple colored pop


Monday, September 2, 2013

squash blossom pizza

its been awhile since my last post, but i am bringing the blog back with this beautiful recipe for squash blossom pizza. the blossoms from zucchini are so vibrant and fiery in color, and they will make your pizza look like a masterpiece.



ive always wanted to buy squash blossoms, but the only way i had heard of them being cooked was stuffed with ricotta and fried. last summer i had the opportunity to try them baked on a pizza, and i couldn't wait to try it myself!



i am trying to find my perfect whole wheat pizza dough. for this recipe i used smitten's overnight recipe - white whole wheat flour was swapped for all of the all purpose, which needed some extra liquid to make for a springy dough.


squash blossoms are very delicate, but easy to prepare for this pizza. rinse them gently under cool water, and then look to the inside of the flower.



depending on the type of blossom you buy, it will have either a pistil or stamens to remove from inside. simply pinch them off with your fingers.

cut the blossoms in half lengthwise, and they are ready for pizza making.




slice your zucchini and tomatoes into thin pieces. a mandolin works nicely here if you have one, but otherwise a chefs knife will do the job as well.
roll or press out the dough with your fingers on a parchment-lined, olive oil-ed pan. layer the toppings on: zucchini, tomatoes, then blossoms on top. if you like, a sprinkling of coarsely grated parmesan cheese on top is a nice salty accompaniment.

ricotta is a common filling for these delicate flowers, making them the perfect choice for this pizza. just drop spoonfuls of strained ricotta all over the pizza where dough is exposed.  
bake the pizza until the bottom crust is browned and the cheese melts.
let cool slightly, cover with the chopped basil and slice into pieces.

squash blossom pizza with zucchini, tomatoes, and ricotta
makes 1 - 9" x 13" pizza

ingredients:

1 recipe overnight pizza dough, at room temp (see recipe below or sub your favorite crust)

1 medium zucchini, sliced thinly
1 medium tomato, sliced thinly
5-6 squash blossoms, rinsed and halved
1 cup ricotta cheese, strained
1/2 cup grated parmesan or romano, optional
6 large basil leaves, chopped - for garnish
salt and pepper, to taste

directions:

1.   preheat oven to 450 degrees F. grease a large baking sheet -about 9"x13"- with olive oil.

2.   spread out pizza dough evenly on the baking sheet. layer on zucchini and tomato slices, followed by the squash blossoms on top.

3.   place spoonfuls of ricotta cheese all over pizza, where the dough is exposed. take care to not cover all of the blossoms. if using, sprinkle grated parmesan on top of pizza.

4.   bake for about 10-15 minutes until crust is lightly browned on the bottom, and the cheese has melted.

5.   sprinkle chopped basil over the whole pizza, slice and serve!


pizza dough based on smitten kitchen's overnight recipe:
makes dough for 1 - 9"x13" pizza

ingredients:

3/4 cup warm water, divided
1/4 plus 1/8 tsp active dry yeast
1 pinch of sugar
1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
1 tsp salt
~1 tsp olive oil, to coat bowl

directions:

1.   start off by pouring a half cup of the warm water into a large mixing bowl. (use a stand mixer if you have one)

2.   sprinkle the yeast and a pinch of sugar over the warm water and let sit for 10-15 minutes. the yeast should look foamy with plenty of bubbles.

3.   add in the flour and salt and mix with a spoon until a dough starts to form. add the remaining 1/4 cup water slowly, stopping when the dough is soft, but not super sticky.

4.   knead the dough for 5 minutes on low speed in a mixer, or for 8 minutes by hand. once the dough is smooth, transfer to a bowl that has been lightly coated with olive oil.

5.   cover the bowl of dough, and let rise in the refrigerator overnight. it should rise for at least 8 hours.

6.   when you are ready to make the pizza, take the dough out about 30 minutes early to let it come to room temperature.
tips:
-   for fresh tomato slices on pizza: blot the slices with a paper towel to absorb any excess liquid that could make your pizza soggy. 
 
-   if using fresh ricotta, strain it in a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth. straining the ricotta will get rid of any excess liquid that might seep onto the pizza.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

onion apple focaccia

onions and apples may not sound like the most obvious combination, but they make a perfect topping for this whole wheat bread recipe. they go together nicely as the onions caramelize and the apples sweeten as they bake. both sweet and savory, the toppings give this onion apple focaccia recipe a rich flavor.


start off with a full tablespoon of active dry yeast. because this recipe is no-knead and has a quick rise, the extra yeast will help give it more volume. proof the yeast in 1/4 cup of the warm water and a pinch of sugar for 10 minutes.


while the yeast proofs, add 2 tbsp of olive oil into the bottom of a 9 x 13" pan. make sure to grease the sides well and let the rest evenly pool at the bottom of the pan. it may seem like a lot, but you will be grateful later when your bread releases from the pan and has a golden crust.


measure out your flours. i used a mix of both traditional red whole wheat and white whole wheat flours to avoid a heavy bread. i weighed them out for the most accurate measurement.


once the yeast is foamy, add the rest of the ingredients to the bowl. mix on medium speed for 1 minute.


the dough will be very sticky at this point, resist the urge to add extra flour because this could make the bread dense. add the dough to the oiled pan, and spread it out to the corners, oiling your hands if the dough is too sticky.


once the dough is in the pan, you will let it rise and puff up for about 45 minutes - 1 hour.

next up, prep the toppings. cut the onions into even sized strips by cutting off the top and bottom of the onion, cutting it in half, and then into strips.


heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a pan, then add your onion strips.



cook the onions on medium low heat until they start to turn golden brown, about 12 minutes. a minute before you take them off the heat, add in 1/2 tbsp apple cider vinegar.


while the onions cool, slice the apple as thinly as you can, about 1/8" is ideal.


once the dough has puffed up in the pan, use your fingers to make indentations all over the bread.


drizzle olive oil over the top and spread it as evenly as you can.


layer the apples first, then the onions on the top.


bake for 35-45 minutes. the apples will be cooked and the bread will have a golden brown crust.


to prevent the bread from becoming soggy, remove it from the baking pan and let it cool on a rack.


keep any extra wrapped in plastic or tupperware for 2 days.


makes 12 - 3"x3" pieces of focaccia
based on : no-fuss focaccia and onion focaccia

no-knead whole wheat focaccia with yellow onions and apples


dough ingredients:
1 tbsp active dry yeast
1 pinch sugar
6 oz whole wheat flour (1.5 cups)
8.75 oz white whole wheat or all-purpose flour (2 cups)
1.25 tsp salt
1.5 cups warm water, divided (about 110 degrees F)
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 tbsp olive oil for pan

topping ingredients:
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 small yellow onions, sliced
1/2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
salt and pepper, to taste
1 small sweet apple (like golden delicious), sliced thinly (1/8 inch)
extra olive oil for drizzling

directions:

1.   combine 1 tbsp active dry yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer with 1/4 cup of the warm water and 1 pinch of sugar. let proof for about 10 minutes.

2.   once the yeast looks foamy, add the remaining ingredients and water to the bowl. mix with an electric mixer for 1 minute until it forms a sticky dough.

3.   pour 2 tbsp olive oil into a 9x13" pan. coat the sides and bottom of the pan. press the dough evenly into the pan and press it all the way to the corners. let sit, covered, in a warm place for 45 minutes-1 hour.

4.   while the bread rises, heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a skillet. add the onion to the pan and saute until it starts to turn golden brown, about 12 minutes. during the last minute of cooking, add 1/2 tbsp apple cider vinegar and stir.

5.   when the bread is puffy, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. use fingertips to create indentations across the bread. drizzle olive oil evenly over the top surface.

6.   layer the sliced apple and caramelized onions over the bread and bake for 35-45 minutes. the bottom should be golden brown, and the apples will be cooked.

7.   let cool on a wire rack, and cut once bread is cool.


tips:

- you should be able to sub instant yeast for the active dry yeast in the recipe. just skip the proofing step.

- if you are unsure of the temperature of the water, you can use an instant read thermometer to make sure the water is around 110 degrees F.

- i used a round cookie cutter to cut the core out of my apple slices