Tuesday, October 21, 2014

kabocha squash toasts with miso jam.

In my humble opinion, the best way to get food into one’s mouth is not via a fork but via a slice of bread. 

I am very adept at using bread as a utensil and doing so allows you to explore so many toppings.  Avocado and feta! Peanut butter, apple butter, and chia seeds (a personal favorite at the moment)! Roasted tomatoes and burrata!  Do you see how many possibilities exist? SO MANY.  It’s kind of exhausting but it also ensures you will never ever be bored.  Toasted bread and toppings is the answer to all of the “I’m hungry what should I eat?” questions. 

When I stumble across a recipe that encourages one to use toast as a base for all of my favorite things (miso! cheese! squash!) you can pretty much guarantee I will be making it.  

These toasts are kind of incredible. Sweet and salty miso jam is the perfect base for tender squash (roasted with just a hint of smoked parika) and then layered with creamy goat cheese and crunchy salty pumpkin seeds. These are infinitely pop-able and absurdly addicting.  They also further validate my thought that everything is best when served on a slice of bread.  

Kabocha Squash Toasts with Miso Jam
Recipe adapted from Tasting Table

Yield: 4 servings

For the Miso Jam

¼ cup red or white miso paste
¼ cup honey
2½ tablespoons water

For the Kabocha Squash Toasts

¼ medium kabocha squash (12 ounces), sliced ⅛-inch thick
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
1 tablespoon olive oil
12 ½-inch thick baguette slices, sliced on a bias, toasted
Miso jam
¼ cup goat cheese, softened
3 tablespoons pumpkin seeds, toasted
Pinch of flaky sea salt
Olive oil for drizzling

Make the miso jam: Whisk the red miso paste, honey and water in a small saucepan over medium heat until the mixture comes to jam consistency, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat, transfer to an airtight container and let the jam cool to room temperature. Store in the refrigerator and use within 2 months. Makes about ⅓ cup.

Make the pumpkin toasts: Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  On a parchment lined baking sheet, places your pieces of squash and sprinkle them with the olive oil and smoked paprika.  Roast for about 10 minutes or until the squash is tender and just beginning to brown.  Remove from the oven and let cool to room temperature. 

To assemble, spoon about 1 – 2 teaspoons of the miso jam over each toast (depending on the size of your bread). Place a few pieces of squash on each toast. Crumble the goat cheese on top and sprinkle each toast with pumpkin seeds. Sprinkle with salt and drizzle with some olive oil. 




Monday, October 20, 2014

t-minus.



I've reached the less then one month until the big day point and the question on everyone's lips seems to be "how do you feel?".
ruffle and flower backdropSo to answer that question, I feel great. Actually, I feel more then great, I feel awesome.  All the stress from the very beginning has dissipated and you want to know why?  It's because I can't change anything. I can't change my mind, I can't alter my decisions. This is my bed and now I have to lie in it and lie in it I will.  Sure, I can imagine myself having made different decisions, I can ponder the what-if's all day long, but what good does that actually do?  I'm marrying the guy who can still manages to make my heart skip a beat AND I AM SO EXCITED.  So that's how I feel.  I feel excited and happy and better then ever.
So - let's do this thing.  T-minus 26 days.

Image via Pinterest. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

chocolate ginger molasses cookies.

Look, I understand that most people in this world aren't going to gravitate towards ginger molasses cookies. They aren't particularly special and they aren't chock full of chocolate.  They are a spice cookie, something that most people scoff at.

But I love them.

Let me rephrase that.  I love a very particular type of ginger molasses cookie.  One that is soft with crispy edges and a barely set center, flavorful but not overwhelmingly so.  The perfect one lives at the Bent Spoon in Princeton, NJ and I am still holding out hope that someday they will make a cookbook so I can get my hands on that recipe. Until then, I will continue to tinker in my kitchen.

And tinker I did which is how I ended up with this.  The most perfect ginger molasses cookie I have ever made. And yes, there is chocolate involved as well.

Two types of ginger, a whole lot of molasses, some cinnamon, and a generous helping of chocolate chips is what makes this cookie so excellent.  It's soft but not too soft with a deep and pronounced flavor.  It's all gorgeous and sparkly which makes it all the better.  I love consuming them now while it's fall and spiced flavors are a welcome change of pace but I am looking forward to making them again in December for my yearly holiday cookie boxes.  


Chocolate Ginger Molasses Cookies
Recipe adapted from Une Gamine Dans la Cusine

Makes about 20-22 cookies

1 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup spelt flour (or an additional ½ cup all-purpose)
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1/2 cup (that's one stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup tightly packed, dark brown sugar
1/2 cup unsulfured molasses 
3 teaspoons freshly grated ginger

6 ounces (about 1 cup) bittersweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup super-fine sugar (regular granulated sugar will work too)

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, ground ginger, cinnamon, cloves, salt and cocoa powder.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with paddle attachment, beat the butter and brown sugar together until creamy (about 3-5 minutes on medium speed). Add molasses and fresh ginger - continue beating till well combined. 

Add the flour/spice mixture and beat on low speed until just combined (don't overmix). If the mixer is straining on low speed, use a large rubber spatula to stir in the dry ingredients - the dough will be very heavy and sticky. Stir in the chocolate chips. Pat the dough into a large ball, place the ball onto a sheet of plastic wrap and flatten it into a 1-inch thick disc. Wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and chill for at least 4 hours, or overnight.

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Place the 1/4 cup of super fine sugar (or granulated) into a large flat bowl or plate. 

Remove the chilled cookie dough from fridge and divide it into 20-22 equal chunks (use a scale to ensure they're the same size). Roll the chunks into tight balls and roll each ball through the sugar until completely coated. {Note: The dough is extremely sticky so you may have to wash your hands from time to time so it won't stick to your palms instead of itself.} Place the sugar-coated cookies onto prepared sheet and refrigerate while the oven preheats. 

Preheat the oven to 325F. Line a separate baking sheet with parchment paper.

Place the chilled balls of dough onto the sheet, allowing for at least 2-inches of spreading room.  

Bake 10-12 minutes or until cracks begin to develop. {Note: My cookies were spot-on chewy after 10 minutes. If you prefer crispier cookies, bake for the full 12 minutes.} Remove the sheet from the oven and allow cookies to rest for 5 minutes before carefully (mine were still tender) transferring to a cooling rack.






Tuesday, October 14, 2014

greige.

Give me.

(Green and grey aka greige is kind of everything.)

Dark industrial kitchen with leather stools and plants.



Image via Pinterest

Sunday, October 12, 2014

rigatoni and cauliflower al forno.

Last night, Tyler complained that I don't blog about his favorite things that I cook.  It should be known, that Tyler loves the hodge-podge meals that I put together with the random assortment of things we have leftover in the fridge at any given time.  These meals get cobbled together and they are generally speaking pretty awesome.  How they end up so awesome I do not know (the mysteries of cooking). It's not that I don't want to talk about these meals, it's just that on a nightly basis after working all day, going to the gym, and trying to have some semblance of a relaxing evening, I don't have the energy to religiously document how I made a dish.  Cooking is a lot of trial and error.  It's about tasting and then adding flavors and ingredients.  A lot of these evening meals are made that way and I think the freedom to not follow a recipe is what makes them so wonderful.

On occasion, following a recipe is good thing and that is how this dish came about (one that Tyler declared his new favorite).  Baked pastas are a glorious fall meal, but often times they are heavy, cheese and sauce laden behemoths that leave you requiring a nap.  This baked pasta is the furthest thing from that.  Sauteed cauliflower is tossed with olives, lemon juice, and red pepper flakes to provide a nice bright punch of flavor.  The seasoned cauliflower is tossed with pasta and cubes of fontina  to provide the perfect amount of cheesey-gooeyness.  The whole thing is topped with bread crumbs and baked until crispy, crunchy, and golden brown.  It's irresistible and the perfect dish for a brisk Sunday evening.

Rigatoni and Cauliflower al Forno
Recipe adapted from the NYTimes 

The thing I love about this dish is the fact that you can add so many other things to it (of course I had to alter it).  I mixed in 1/2 cup of chopped red peppers I had in the fridge and that was a superb add-in.  I think some sauteed mushrooms could be wonderful as well as some chopped sun-dried tomatoes.  Feel free to use this pasta as an opportunity to "clean out your fridge".


¾ pound rigatoni or other large pasta shape
1 medium cauliflower, about 1 1/2 pounds
 Extra-virgin olive oil
 Salt and pepper
1/4 cup green olives, roughly chopped 
3 garlic cloves, minced
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or more to taste
3 tablespoons roughly chopped sage, plus a few sage leaves left whole
½ teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 - 1 cup additional add in's (optional, see note above)
6 ounces coarsely grated fontina 
2 ounces finely grated Romano cheese or other hard pecorino
½ cup coarse dry bread crumbs
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley, for garnish

Cook the rigatoni in well-salted water according to package directions, but drain while still quite al dente. (If directions call for 12 minutes cooking, cook for 10 instead.) Rinse pasta with cool water, then drain again and set aside.

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Cut cauliflower in half from top to bottom. Cut out tough core and stem any extraneous leaves. Lay cauliflower flat side down and cut crosswise into rough 1/4-inch slices. Break into smaller pieces.

Put 3 tablespoons olive oil in a wide skillet over high heat. Add cauliflower slices, along with any crumbly pieces, in one layer. (Work in batches if necessary.) Let cauliflower brown and caramelize for about 2 minutes, then turn pieces over to brown the other side. Cook for another 2 minutes, or until the cauliflower is easily pierced with a fork. It’s fine if some pieces don’t brown evenly. Season generously with salt and pepper. Add capers, garlic, red pepper flakes, chopped sage, sage leaves and lemon zest and stir to coat.

Put cooked cauliflower mixture in a large mixing bowl. Add cooked rigatoni, additional add-in's if using, and fontina and toss. Transfer mixture to a lightly oiled baking dish. Top with Romano cheese, then with bread crumbs and drizzle with about 1 tablespoon olive oil. (Dish may be completed to this point up to several hours in advance and kept at room temperature, covered.)

Bake, uncovered, for 20 to 30 minutes, until top is crisp and golden. Sprinkle with freshly chopped parsley before serving.
























Tuesday, October 7, 2014

gold and grey.

Gold bar stools are everything.  Especially when paired with gold pendant lights.  

Also, charcoal grey is the new black. 

(I am currently obsessing over all things grey which may explain my love of grey jeans and the never ending search for the perfect soft light grey sweater.)

bar stools.



Image via Pinterest