Sunday, January 22, 2012

Butternut Squash-Prosciutto Salad

Happy New Year (two weeks later)!  How are everyone's New Years Resolutions going?  Tired of salads yet?  Thinking of giving up on that diet?  DON'T! You can do it.   This salad keeps it healthy, but packs a big flavor punch.  If you want to be even healthier, leave out the prosciutto and goat cheese, it is still really good!

Butternut Squash- Prosciutto Salad
recipe from Orange and Cardamom
raw butternut squash, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
dark salad greens: mesclun mix, spinach, or arugula are good choices
goat cheese
salt, pepper, olive oil
red wine vinaigrette*

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Toss each half pound of butternut squash with salt, pepper, and 1-2 teaspoons of olive oil.  Place butternut squash onto a baking sheet and bake in oven for 20-25 minutes until browned and crisp on the edges.

Remove squash from oven and arrange on bed of greens with goat cheese and prosciutto. Dress to your liking.


*I intentionally did not post proportions because everyone likes their salad just a little different.  You can substitute different cheeses or cured meats.  To spice it up you could toss a little curry powder with the butternut squash.  Sauteed mushrooms would also be a lovely addition.  THE BEAUTY OF SALAD IS YOU DON'T HAVE TO MEASURE!!!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Orange and Cardamom Sugar Cookies

Happy Christmas Eve Eve!!!  I hope everyone is enjoying time with their family and friends and taking a nice long break from work to celebrate the holidays.  Whatever your holiday traditions are they are special to you because they are yours.  I have this huge, amazing extended family that I am lucky to be super close to.   Every year some combination of the nearly 45 of us spend Christmas together.  Last year on Christmas we got thirteen inches of snow, at the beach.  There were 26 of us crammed into my aunt and uncle's house  and we spent three days having snow ball fights, sledding, playing board games and charades, and eating...lots of good food.  For a bunch of random reasons this year's Christmas is a much smaller crowd.  But spending time with my parents, siblings, grandmother, and uncle are just as crazy.  So far, we have made a huge pot of shrimp and calm chowder (omg it was good), blue cheese crackers, molasses ginger cookies, homemade sea salt caramels, fantasy fudge (classic yet delicious), and my signature orange and cardamom sugar cookie.   Yum Yum Yum!!!!!!

Orange and Cardamom Sugar Cookies*
recipe slightly adapted from Bon Appetit December 2009

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3 teaspoons ground cardamom**
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temp
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
3 teaspoons orange zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg, room temperature
Raw sugar, or holiday sprinkles

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cardamom, 1/2 teaspoon salt until blended.  Using an electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until creamy, about 3 min.  Slowly add 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar; beat until light and fluffy, another 3 minutes.  Reduce speed to low, beat in orange peel, vanilla, and egg, beat until blended.  Add flour mix, 1/3 at a time, mixing on low until just blended.  Refrigerate until firm enough to shape, about an 1 hours.

Divide dough in half.  Form each half into ball, flatten into disks, wrap in plastic.  Chill until firm enough to roll out, about 45 minutes.  Take out when ready to roll and let sit at room temperature for 10 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.  Roll out 1 dough disk on light floured surface to 1/8 thickness.  Cut out cookies in holiday shape.  Transfer cookies to baking sheets, leaving 1 inch between each.  Sprinkle with raw sugar.  Gather dough scraps into ball.  Flatten, cover and freeze until firm enough to roll out agains, 10 minutes.

Bake cookies for 14 minutes or until slightly golden on the edges, depending on the size and oven temperament.  Remove from oven and let cool for 3-5 minutes on baking tray, before transferring to wire cooling rack.  Store in airtight containers.

Cook's Notes: *Normally I make these cookies as directed by the recipe above, but today I actually used a sugar cookie mix, followed the directions on the back of the package, added the orange, cardamom, and vanilla extract into the mix in the measurements below, and then dropped them with a cookie scope on the baking tray.  Easy and just as delicious.
**My orange, cardamom, and vanilla extract quantities are significantly increased from original recipe.  Having made these several times now, I find they are better with a little more sugar and spice :)  Plus, the cardamom cooks off quite a bit.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Butternut Squash Risotto

My favorite way to celebrate anything is by cooking a big meal and having friends and family sit around my dining room table (or on the sofa) drink wine, enjoy the food, and laugh.  As much as love going out to eat or celebrating with drinks at a bar I find dinner parties, especially with the people you care most about, are always more fun.  Recently two of my good friends got engaged.  This special couple has been together for quite sometime now and they always add humor to scrabble and trivia night and use their incredible minds to come up with crazy (not legal scrabble) words or draw facts that no else seems to know the answer to.  So, when they announced their engagement I decided to invite our friends over to celebrate this happy occasion with a fall meal.  I made Buttersquash Risotto, a big fall salad, an apple tart and homemade cinnamon ice cream.  These dishes were accompanied by my friend Monica's delicious Spinach Artichoke dip and a caramelized onion tart and cupcakes made by Baked Perfection's Risa.  Everything was wonderful!!!  This is my recipe for Butternut Squash Risotto.

Butternut Squash Risotto
recipe from Orange and Cardamom

4 cups of vegetable stock*
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup chopped shallots
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine (i normally use Sauvignon Blanc)
1 lb of butternut squash, cut into 1/2" cubes
2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
salt, pepper, olive oil

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  In a large bowl mix the butternut squash, 2 teaspoons of olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper and toss until well combined.  Add more olive oil, salt and pepper if needed.  Once oven is preheated, bake squash for 20-25 minutes until slightly caramelized.  See picture above.

Heat the vegetable broth in a small saucepan.  Once it simmers, turn off heat and set aside.

Melt butter and oil in a large heavy duty saucepan or dutch oven over medium heat.  Add shallots, salt and pepper them and cook until soft and slightly brown.  Add one tablespoon of the chopped sage cooking until just wilted. Add the Arborio rice and stir to coat the grains with butter and oil and shallots.  Add the wine and simmer over low heat, stirring constantly until much of the wine has been absorbed.  One cup at a time, add the vegetable stock, stirring constantly until all the liquid is absorbed before adding more.  This may take 20-25 minutes.  Once all the liquid is absorbed, reduce heat to low add parmesan cheese, heavy cream, remaining sage, and salt and pepper to taste.

Before serving mix in the butternut squash. ENJOY!!

Cook's Notes: *Traditionally risotto is made with chicken stock.  This recipe was created for my friend who is a vegetarian, but chicken stock especially homemade would boost the flavor of the risotto even more.  Don't forget to adjust your salt- you probably need less if you use chicken stock.  

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Cream Parisian Wafers

These might be my favorite holiday cookie.  Well, these and two or three others.  Cream Parisian Wafers are part of my family's traditional holiday cookie spread.  My Grandmother, who by the way is a fantastic cook, has been making these every year for as long as I can remember.   Normally about half the batch make it onto a plate for the Christmas Eve guests; the other half my parents and I sneakily stash away in the fridge for a little closet Christmas eating.  Sometimes my siblings get to them first.  Anyway, needless to say, I have only ever met one person who didn't like these wafers.  They are little different from the peppermint and fudge that rule the holiday season and they look like you spent hours to make them.  (You might spend a couple).  The cookie is flakey and buttery like a very light, airy shortbread and the icing is your classic buttercream, but richer.  I would suggest a double batch: one for the guests and one for the family.  Keep em' cold and enjoy with eggnog.

Cream Parisian Wafers
recipe inherited from Joanie*
1 cup butter at room temperature
2 cups shifted all purpose flour
1/3 cups heavy cream

Mix butter at moderately high speed until smooth.  Reduce to low speed and add flour gradually.  Stir in cream.  Cover with wax/parchment paper and chill for 1 1/2 hours.  Heat oven for 375 degrees.  Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Using pastry cloth or parchment paper roll out dough 1/3 at a time, keeping the rest cold.  Roll to 1/8" thickness.  Using a floured 1 1/2" diameter round cutter (or a shot glass), cut the dough and then press rounds in granulated sugar.  Place sugar side-up on baking sheets  and prick with a fork two or three times.  (This will help keep them from puffing up.)  Bake about 10 minutes.  Let cool on baking sheet for 5-10 minutes.  Move to wire rack, cool completely. **

Butter Filling:
1/4 cup butter at room temp
3/4 sifted confectioners sugar
1 egg yolk***
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
red & green food coloring

Cream butter on high until smooth.  Add sugar and mix well.  If using egg yolk, turn mixer to low blend in egg and vanilla.  Divide in half and add food coloring if desired.

Cook's Notes: 
*I actually don't know where this recipe originally came from.  I have seen a couple similar ones online, but no link to the original recipe.  
**The cookies are really delicate, especially when warm.  
***I have made the butter filling with and without the egg yolk.  I normally forego the egg yolk, since they have to be refrigerated, but I actually think it tastes better when you use it.  If you do not use it add  1-2 teaspoons of milk.  

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Cinnamon, Cardamom, and Clementine Blondies

Anyone wondering when I was actually going to get around to using my favorite flavor combination?  I was.  I usually associate orange and cardamom with the fall/winter holiday season and I started this blog shortly after the New Year.  Last season I made orange and cardamom sugar cookies (they will be back), created chocolate orange brownies, and splashed cardamom in all my spiced breads, cakes, fruit pies and crumbles.  Hence, the flavors were on my mind.  It helps that I kind of think they are perfect together.  Anyway, these blondies are my first foray of the year into the holiday flavor realm and they are awesome!   I know I have been a little MIA lately- that would be due to my rather hectic work and school schedule.  I have had very little time to cook, let alone anything worth remembering or posting.  But, with the holidays upon us I am not going to have any excuses, even if it means late nights and early mornings to frost the cupcakes or salt the caramels :)
This recipe was perfect to get me back in the baking spirit and it was super super easy.  (I used a pre-mixed mix).  I was actually craving blondies yesterday.  Interesting craving, I know.  I am more of a vanilla than a chocolate person and I needed a quick pick me up.  Then I remembered I had a gluten free blondie mix in my baking cabinet and immediately preheated the oven!!  As the oven was preheating, I was unpacking clementines from the grocery store and next thing I knew I was getting the cinnamon and cardamom out of the spice cabinet.  Natural progression-hehe.  Hope you enjoy my experiment, my friend and I did with coffee this morning.

Cinnamon, Cardamom, and Clementine
idea by Orange and Cardamom

Your favorite Blondie Mix from the Store (enough to make an 8" x 8")*
2 teaspoons cardamom
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons clementine zest

Preheat oven according to package directions.  Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, according to the package.  Add the spices and clementine zest.  Bake as instructed.  Enjoy!!!

Cook's Note: I used Namaste's Gluten Free Blondie Mix.
If your mix makes a 9" X 13" double the spice and zest measurements.
Cardamom has a very strong smell before baked, but to taste it after it is baked I always add more than I think it needs.