Sunday, April 11, 2010
Butternut Squash Polenta is a better fall or winter dish, but Scott had a taste for it the other night and we had a butternut squash that needed to be eaten. Great peasant food, this easy and satisfying vegetarian dish that can be made in under 45 minutes. You can also make it ahead and bake it in a casserole topped with cheese and walnuts, it's great for a potluck. The hardest part of this recipe is peeling and chopping the squash.
Butternut Squash Polenta
1 medium size butternut squash, peeled and chopped into 1/2 inch dice (about 4 cups)
1 yellow onion, chopped
8 fresh sage leaves or 1 tsp. dried sage
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves or 1 tsp dried thyme
salt and pepper to taste
4 tbsp. butter or olive oil
1 tbsp GOOD quality balsamic vinegar (or to taste)
1 cup dry polenta
4 cups water or broth (chicken or vegetable
1 tsp salt
1 cup grated Asiago, Parmesan or blue cheese
1/2 - 1 cup toasted walnuts
chopped parsley for garnish
Toast walnuts in the oven for about ten minutes while you are chopping your squash. Be careful not to burn them like I always do.
Saute chopped onion, butternut squash, herbs, salt and pepper in melted butter or oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat until tender and caramelized, about 20 - 30 minutes. When tender and slightly brown add a splash of balsamic vinegar and taste for seasoning.
While your squash is sauteing, bring 4 cups of broth or salted water to a boil in a heavy sauce pan. When it's boiling, slowly whisk in 1 cup of polenta. Go slow and keep whisking or you will get lumps. Now turn the heat very low and keep stirring. Cook and stir frequently for about 20 minutes or until think and smooth. (The cooking time will depend on the type of polenta you use. I use an organic, bulk yellow polenta from our store. You can also purchase "instant polenta" in the grocery store that cook in five minutes. If you can't find "polenta" look for yellow corn grits, they are basically the same thing.)
Once your polenta is cooked and your squash is tender, combine the two in a serving dish and add about 1/2 of the grated cheese of your choice (see note below). Garnish with rest of the cheese, toasted walnuts and chopped parsley if desired. Serve hot.
About your cheese choices, I used Parmesan this time because it was all I had in the frig. My favorite with this dish is Asiago cheese, the nuttiness really combines well with the flavors. You can also use crumbled blue cheese, however, in my house my son won't eat it that way.
To turn into a casserole, just dump your squash, polenta and cheese creation (it's good to add a little more liquid if you are going to bake it to prevent the polenta from getting to firm, a splash cream or 1/2 & 1/2 is nice.) into a greased casserole dish and top with more grated cheese and walnuts. Bake @ 350 for 30 - 40 minutes or until cheese is melted and dish is heated through.
Monday, March 29, 2010
On Saturday, our dear friend Danielle, turned 50, impossible to believe! We celebrated at our house with a raucous group of old friends joining us for a champagne and pancake brunch. I have to admit that I had an ulterior motive for hosting the party and serving pancakes. For the last few months, I have been developing three pancake mixes: Blue Corn Pancake Mix, Oatmeal Cookie Pancake Mix and Plenty of Grains Pancake Mix. I hope to begin test marketing them in May at our store under the brand name Wholly Whole Grains. My family is thoroughly sick of testing pancakes, so Danielle's birthday offered me an opportunity to try out our new mixes on a crowd. I am happy to report that the feedback was good!
In light of these mixes being proprietary formulas, I won't be posting the recipes, but I wanted to share the egg dish we made to round out our menu. It really turned out great and is an easy way to serve eggs for a crowd. You can make them ahead and bake them when your guests arrive. Try these for Easter brunch.
All in One Eggs:
1/2# wilted fresh spinach, seasoned with a little nutmeg, salt and pepper
(to wilt spinach, just put in a skillet over medium high heat with a few Tbsp. of water and cook until just barely limp, cool, drain and season)
2 oz grated Parmesan Cheese
2 tbsp butter
3 tbsp whipping cream
salt & pepper to taste
paprika to sprinkle
Preheat oven to 350. Spray 12 muffin cups with non-stick spray. Put a TINY pat of butter in each cup. Line the cups with the wilted spinach leaves, don't be to fussy here, just put some spinach on the bottom of each cup. Crack an egg in each spinach lined muffin cup. drizzle a tiny bit of cream over each one, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper and paprika. Bake about 15 minutes or until egg is set. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Makes 12 egg cups.
Instead of spinach, line the muffin cups with partially cooked bacon or ham.
For a Mexican flair use tortilla strips to line your cups and substitute salsa and jack cheese for the Parmesan and cream.
The possibilities are endless.
All photos taken by our staff photographer, Theo Wecker.
Sunday, February 21, 2010
Last Monday I had a sudden, overwhelming desire for a Navajo Taco. For those of you that haven't lived or traveled in the Southwest, a Navajo taco is an amazing delight that starts with Indian Fry Bread and is topped with meat, beans, lettuce, cheese, etc.. The key to the whole dish is the Indian Fry Bread. I haven't made them in years, so I started with a fry bread recipe from "The Feast of Santa Fe" by Huntley Dent. In his book, Mr. Dent states that he feels Indian Fry bread is inferior to sopapillas, but I have to disagree. I will say they are more difficult to make, the dough is soft and hard to form, but in the end, it was totally worth the effort.
Here's how I proceeded:
You can use any ground meat, beef, buffalo, turkey, etc.. All I had on hand was ground chicken and some frozen pureed red chilis made by Bueno, I figured that would work and make a nice saucy filling, but you can use your favorite taco filling recipe.
2 # ground chicken
1 onion, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 container Bueno red chili (green would be good too!)
salt, oregano, cumin, black pepper to taste
Saute chicken, onions and garlic together until chicken is cooked. Dump the thawed container of red chili puree into pan. Season to taste with salt, cumin, oregano. I also added a pinch of sugar to take the edge off of the chilis. cook until reduced and saucy.
I used Anazasi beans, cooked until tender with a little salt and cumin. Anazasi's are my favorite bean for any mexican / southwest dish. If you haven't tried them, they are worth searching out. They are generally available in the Southwest at any natural foods store. If you can't find them use pinto beans or god forbid, even canned beans. You can also just leave them out.
Indian Fry Bread recipe:
2 cups unbleached flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons powdered milk
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup water
Vegetable oil for frying
Sift together the flour, salt, powdered milk, and baking powder into a large bowl. Pour the water over the flour mixture all at once and stir the dough with a fork until it starts to form one big clump.
Flour your hands. Using your hands, begin to mix the dough, trying to get all the flour into the mixture to form a ball. NOTE: You want to mix this well, but you do NOT want to knead it. Kneading it will make for a heavy Fry Bread when cooked. The inside of the dough ball should still be sticky after it is formed, while the outside will be well floured.
Cut the dough into eight pieces. Using your floured hands, shape, stretch, pat, and form a disk of about 5 to 7 inches in diameter. This is the hard part, the dough is fussy and I found I needed to use a lot of flour on my hands. Don’t worry too much about the shape, just get them vaguely round and they’ll taste delicious.
Heat the vegetable oil to about 350 degrees F. NOTE: You can check by either dropping a small piece of dough in the hot oil and seeing if it begins to fry, or by dipping the end of a wooden spoon in and seeing if that bubbles. Your oil should be about 1-inch deep in a large cast-iron skillet or other large fryer.
Take the formed dough and gently place it into the oil, being careful not to splatter the hot oil. Press down on the dough as it fries so the top is submersed into the hot oil. Fry until brown, and then flip to fry the other side. Each side will take about 3 to 4 minutes.
Keep warm in a 200 degree oven until you’re done frying the rest of them and call your family and guests to build their Navajo tacos immediately.
Chopped romaine lettuce
Place Indian Fry bread on your plate. Top with meat filling, beans and toppings. Eat immediately!
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
This is a quick dinner that can be prepared in less than 15 minutes and is still healthy and light. It's one of my kids favorites, but good enough to serve last minute guests. Try it when you are crunched for time.
Serve with our Liliputian Winery 2008 Colorado Chardonnay, of course!
Quick Pasta With Beans and Greens:
1-2 bunches of chard, kale or other greens, cleaned and chopped into bite size pieces
1 15 oz can of canellini beans or navy beans, drained well
1 onion, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic chopped
a splash of olive oil
1/2 cup dry white wine or chicken broth
red chili flakes, salt and pepper to taste
1# pasta (I prefer whole wheat penne)
grated parmesan for serving
Put your pasta water onto boil (don't forget to salt it!) while you clean the greens and chop the onions and garlic. Saute the onion and garlic in a little olive oil until mostly translucent. Add greens, beans, chili flakes and wine or chicken broth. Cover your greens mixture, turn the heat to medium low and start cooking your pasta. Your pasta and your greens should be done at the same time (in about 10 minutes). Drain the pasta and toss with greens mixture in a pretty bowl. Sprinkle with grated parmesan and serve hot. We served our dinner with a nice local salad and day old bread toasted in the oven with olive oil and parmesan cheese.
Monday, February 8, 2010
In 2001, I left the
My husband, Scott, hails from upstate
Upon our return to our lovely, pizza challenged valley we embarked on a mission (from God) to develop a recipe for a pizza that mimicked Giordano’s stuffed pizza as closely as possible. I absolutely love their crust, its flakiness is amazing and I have tried for years to duplicate that style. After nine years, thanks to much delicious trial and error and Buzz, a moderator from www.pizzamaking.com, I present to you what I believe to be the best stuffed pizza recipe west of Chicagoland. Another note, don’t be intimidated by the length or scope of this recipe. It is worth every second of time you will spend making it. Just pick a snowy / rainy day and have fun in the kitchen together.
makes 2 - 12 inch pizzas
6 cups all purpose unbleached flour (King Arthur preferred)
1 heaping TBSP yeast
1 TBSP sea salt
2 TBSP sugar
½ cup olive oil
1 ½ cups warm water ( you might need more)
Proof the yeast with an additional teaspoon of sugar in your nice 100 – 110 degree water (I use filtered water, I swear it makes a difference). Mix the flour, salt and sugar. Add yeast mixture. Use your hands to start to form the dough into a rough ball, then add the oil a little a time until it comes together into cohesive ball (it will still be a bit scrappy). Add more water if necessary.
Knead only two minutes, no kidding! This is the key to the flakiness of Giordano style pizza crust. The more you knead, the more bread like it becomes. So a short knead is the real secret!
Let the dough rise—because of the short kneading time, it will not rise very much. I let it rise for anywhere from 2 – 8 hours. The longer the better! You can also put it in the fridge overnight if you'd like, and use it the next day. Be sure that the dough is at room temperature before attempting to roll it out. Make your sauce and fillings now, so they are ready but not to hot when your crust is ready.
Once it has risen, divide the dough into 4 equal pieces, and repeat the following process for each crust. Roll each one thin with a rolling pin. If it wants to bounce back, let it rest 10 minutes or so. Then fold the dough in quarters, let it rest a little and roll it out flat and thin again (it should be at least 12" in diameter). You can repeat the rolling a third time, I encourage you to try it. Think puff pastry! This creates that flakiness I love in Giordano’s crust.
Once it's rolled flat and thin for the final time, immediately put one crust in a greased 12" deep dish pan (I use olive oil). (I have several preferred pans; my current favorites are a Le Creuset paella pan and a dark metal, heavy duty, deep dish pizza pan. We’ve also used a great old cast iron skillet) The size of the dough should be larger than the pan, so drape it over, press it down, and cut off the edges. Now get right to work stuff your pizza. Don't let the dough rise in the pan.
Fill your crust with your fillings in the following order:
Cheese (grated or sliced) about 8 – 12 oz for the bottom
Spinach or Sausage filling (see following recipes)
Cheese again (grated or sliced) another 8 – 12 oz. here
Now drape another crust over your filling, seal the edges well and fold over for a pretty edge. (See picture.)
With a sharp knife, cut several air vents in the top of your creation.
Put in a HOT oven. I recommend 450 degrees, but experiment with any temp from 425 – 500, depending on your pan.
Check after 10 – 15 minutes. When it’s starting to brown slightly, pull your pizza out and put your tomato sauce on top. I prefer a thin layer of sauce. (My favorite sauce recipe follows, but you can use any good tomato sauce.) Then top your pizza with fresh grated parmesan cheese and put back in the oven for another 10 – 20 minutes. Watch the bottom crust, especially in a dark pan. It will burn quickly. When the sauce / parmesan combo is bubbly and the bottom is not burned, your pizza is ready. Pull it out of the oven and let sit for a few minutes (take pictures of your creation1). Enjoy.
Tomato Sauce Recipe:
2 large cans whole Italian Plum tomatoes, well drained (I like Muir Glen)
4-5 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper ( I also like to add 1 tsp of crushed red chili flakes)
2 – 3 tsp. oregano
1 teaspoon salt
1 tbsp sugar
2 bay leaves
1 cup chopped onions
Heat large skillet over medium heat until nice and warm. Coat the bottom of the hot pan with a small puddle of olive oil. Add onions and sauté until translucent, adding garlic about halfway through cooking so it doesn’t burn. Add drained tomatoes. Stir. Add in salt, sugar, pepper, bay leaves, chili flakes and oregano. Cook for about five to ten minutes on medium heat. I break up the tomatoes slightly with a potato masher or an immersion blender (don’t forget to take out the bay leaves). The sauce should still be a little chunky. Taste and add salt, pepper, oregano or more sugar as needed. Let sauce sit until you’re ready.
2 pounds fresh spinach (or 3 packages frozen spinach, thawed and drained)
1 yellow onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
a little olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
½ tsp red chili pepper flakes
a little nutmeg (freshly ground, about ¼ tsp or so)
Lots of fresh basil leaves (about ½ cup) (if you’re in pinch, use about 1 tsp of dried basil and add it to your spinach mixture)
1 – 1 ½ pounds mozzarella (grated or thinly sliced) - I use 1 ½ pounds evenly divided between the top and the bottom of your filling, like a cheese sandwich.
fresh Parmesan cheese for top of pizza
Sauté onions and garlic in olive oil with chili flakes until mostly cooked, add fresh (or frozen) spinach, cover and cook over lowish heat until wilted. The idea here is that the filling be very dry. If it’s not, drain any water out as best you can. Add salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste. Next, tear up a bunch of basil leaves into small pieces and add to filling once it’s off the heat. I’ve heard that cutting basil with a knife changes the taste, so I don’t take any chances, I tear it by hand. You can also try laying the basil leaves over your spinach filling before you put on the final layer of cheese. That’s how Edwardo’s on
Sausage and Pepper Filling:
2 pounds bulk Italian sausage (hot is good!)
2 red, green or yellow peppers, thinly sliced
2 large yellow onions, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, chopped
Salt & pepper to taste
1 – 1 ½ pounds mozzarella cheese, grated or thinly sliced - I use 1 ½ pounds evenly divided between the top and the bottom of your filling, like a cheese sandwich.
fresh Parmesan cheese for top of pizza
Brown Italian sausage in a little olive oil, if needed, over medium heat. Add onions, peppers and garlic. Cook over medium heat until all the ingredients are tender. Drain any excess fat. Season to taste (how much seasoning you need depends on how your sausage is seasoned), don’t be afraid to add salt, pepper, oregano, basil or chili flakes. Cool filling before stuffing your pizza crust.
Sunday, February 7, 2010
If we lived in an area with more than one decent restaurant, it would have been a take out night, we were tired and hungry after a long day and no one had a plan for dinner. All that was in the vegetable drawer was a few limp odds and ends of root veggies, not very appealing! My son, Theo, suggested making my vegetable pancake recipe and in twenty minutes we were eating a delicious and satisfying meal. This recipe is adapted from the Tassajara Bread Book. I remember my mom making them in the 70’s.
• 1/2 cabbage: nappa or regular cabbage- I prefer plain, old green cabbage - grated
• 1 large carrot - grated
• 1 small-medium onion – finely chopped
• 1-2 celery stalks - finely chopped
• Optional veggies: grated zucchini, winter squash, sweet potato or fresh corn
• 3 cups whole wheat flour
• 2 eggs, beaten
• 1 tsp salt
• 3 TBSP brown sugar
• 1 tsp baking powder
• 1 ½ cups milk
• enough water to make a batter
• optional--1/2 cup leftover meat or fish can be added
1. Chop, shred, dice, or thinly slice vegetables and meat. I prefer to grate almost everything.
2. Mix together remaining ingredients to form a batter.
3. Fold vegetables into the batter and cook in a lightly oiled skillet or griddle.
4. Serve with butter and/or soy sauce. We use tamari or ponzu sauce.
Sunday, January 31, 2010
Tonight we created a German extravaganza, featuring pork schnitzel, spaetzle and apple cake. We opened a bottle of Schloss Vollrads Spatlese that a friend brought us from Germany. Wish you had been here, it was outrageous! See my son Theo's blog for pictures @ http://365photosdaily.blogspot.com/