Monday, September 29, 2014

10 fresh ways to use butternut squash

Everyone  loves butternut  squash  ... well most everyone . Here's an article that was  recently published  in my local  newspaper (Shreveport Times)  I  want to share with you .  I  will try  them all  with my own twist  and share  with you . I do so  hope  you find   some that you will like  .

Like zucchini , pumpkin , cucumber  and melon , butternut is a member of the  gourd family . You may not think of  butternut as a fruit , but if it  has seeds  ... guess what ?  It's  a fruit !
By  Alison Ladman
Now that summer's abundance of zucchini is over, autumn's overabundance of butternut squash is here. Time for some fresh ideas.

But before you  get cooking, let's talk prep. Butternut's thick skin and rock-hard flesh can make the peeling, seeding and chopping part of the meal a challenge. No wonder those bags of prepped squash chunks at the grocer are so popular. But they also are pricy, so let's talk tips for making the work a little easier.

Start by setting your squash on its side on the cutting board. Use a heavy chef's knife to slice off the top (stem end) and bottom (wider end). Slicing off the bottom reveals the seedy-stringy interior. It also gives you a flat base so you can stand your squash upright without it wobbling. Now use a vegetable peeler to remove the skin.

Once the squash is peeled, grab your melon baller. You don't have one? Get one. It doesn't need to be fancy, just sturdy. A melon baller with its sharp edges designed for scooping and scraping is the best tool for quickly and cleanly removing the seeds and strings.

Once the interior is scraped clean, return the squash to the cutting board on its side. Cut the squash in two crosswise, cutting just above the bulbous bottom. At this point, you have manageable chunks of squash with flat edges. And that means those chunks can be easily cut or chopped without wobbling.

10 fresh ways with butternut squash:
For simplicity, every recipe idea assumes you've peeled and seeded the squash.

1 .  Patties: Cut a squash into 2-inch pieces. Microwave until just tender. Allow to cool slightly, then arrange small mounds of cubes on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Use the bottom of a bowl or mug to gently smash each mound into a patty about ½ inch thick. Brush the top of each patty with olive oil, then season with salt, pepper and smoked paprika. Bake at 450 degrees until browned and crispy, flipping the patties after about 10 minutes.

2 .  Hummus: Boil 2 cups squash cubes in water until tender. Drain well, then combine in a food processor with ¼cup tahini, 2 cloves garlic, the zest and juice of 1 lemon, 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil, and salt and pepper, to taste. Process until smooth, then spoon into a bowl. Top with a drizzle of olive oil and chopped Peppadew peppers. Serve with pita chips.

3 .  Salad: Boil 2 cups squash cubes in water until just tender. Drain thoroughly and set aside to cool. Toss the cooled squash with ½ cup chopped cilantro, 1 cup cooked shelled edamame, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar and 1 cup chopped roasted red peppers. Season with salt and pepper, then top with shredded manchego cheese and toasted pine nuts.

4 .  Hash: Cut the squash into 2-inch chunks, then add to the food processor. Pulse until well chopped, but not pureed. Heat a splash of canola oil in a large skillet, then add the squash and an equal amount of chopped corned beef. Saute until the squash is browned and tender. Serve topped with poached or fried eggs.

5 .  Grilled: Slice the squash into ½-inch-thick slabs. Drizzle each slab with olive oil, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill over medium heat until tender when pierced with a fork. If the squash browns too quickly, turn one side of the grill off and leave the other side on medium-high. Move the squash slices to the cooler side and continue cooking, with the grill covered, until tender.

6 .  Soup: Bring to a simmer 2 cups chicken broth, a 13½-ounce can of coconut milk, 3 cloves garlic and 3 cups cubed squash. Cook until very tender. Working in batches, transfer the mixture to a blender and puree until smooth. Season with salt, a squeeze of lemon juice and a splash of hot sauce. Stir in cooked shredded chicken or cooked shrimp, if desired. Top with shredded fresh basil.

7.  Ganache: Boil 1 cup squash cubes in water until tender. Drain, then add to the food processor and puree until very smooth. Set aside. In a small saucepan, heat 1 cup heavy cream with 1 teaspoon cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon nutmeg and ½ teaspoon ground dry ginger. When just hot, remove from the heat and stir in 12-ounce bag semisweet chocolate bits. Stir in the squash puree until completely smooth. Serve warm over ice cream or toasted pound cake or gingerbread.

8.  Biscuits: Boil 1 cup squash cubes in water until tender. Drain and mash with a fork; you should have ½ cup of mashed squash. Cool and stir together with 2/3 cup buttermilk . Freeze 6 tablespoons butter until it's  very  cold  but not  rock  solid . Grate the  butter  with a cheese  grater into a bowl  with 2 cups self-rising  flour . Stir together with  folk . Add the squash  and stir  just until it  comes together . Scoop 1/4  cup at a time  onto an oiled  baking sheet  and bake at 425 degrees  for 19 to 12 minutes . 

9.  Roasted: Toss squash cubes in a bowl with melted butter, salt, pepper, and Italian or Cajun seasoning. Spread on a rimmed baking sheet and roast at 425 degrees until tender and browned, stirring occasionally.

 10 .  Crab cakes: Drain a 16-ounce can lump crabmeat. Stir in 1 cup finely grated butternut squash, ¼ cup chopped fresh chives, 2 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning, 1 egg and ½ cup panko breadcrumbs. Form into 8 patties and cook in a skillet with vegetable oil until browned and cooked through, about 4 to 5 minutes per side at medium-high.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Turkey Cacciatore

Fresh herbs and mushrooms make this easy turkey dish a family favorite. Italian for hunter, cacciatore is an American-Italian term referring to food prepared "hunter-style".


1/2 turkey         about 3-½ pounds of turkey, cut into pieces
¾                       cup flour
Salt and freshly ground pepper
3                       tablespoons unsalted butter
4                       tablespoons olive oil

Cacciatore :

1                       medium yellow onion, finely chopped
2                       stalks celery, finely chopped
1                       carrot, peeled and finely chopped
4                       cloves garlic, finely chopped
3                       tablespoons  fresh parsley, finely chopped
2                       tablespoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped
2                       tablespoons  fresh sage, finely chopped
1                       tablespoons  fresh thyme, finely chopped
¼                      cup cognac
1                       pound mixed mushrooms domestic, chanterelles oysters (optional)
½                     cup white wine
2                       cups chicken broth
½                      cup tomato puree
1                       bay leaf


1 .    Put turkey in a plastic bag with flour, salt and pepper. Shake and coat chicken evenly.
2 .    In a heavy skillet, heat butter and olive oil, then add turkey and brown evenly on all sides. Remove and set aside.


1 .    Add onion and celery to the same pan, and sauté until onions become transparent. Add carrot, garlic and herbs, and continue to sauté until vegetables begin to caramelize.

2 .    Add cognac, scraping the bottom of the pan to release brown particles. Add mushrooms and continue to sauté. Add white wine, reduce. Add the chicken broth, tomato puree, and then add the turkey pieces. Add the bay leaf.
3 .    Transfer to a covered casserole dish in a 350-degree oven and continue to cook until chicken is done and sauce is reduced. Adjust seasonings if necessary. Remove turkey to a heated platter, and pour the sauce over top of turkey , put the turkey over spaghetti or rice . Garnish with more parsley.

Pairing :
Fumé Blanc

Light-bodied, dry white wine, with hints of citrus, melon and herbal/grassy notes, slight oak character giving the wine richness with a delicate creaminess.

Flavor Profile:

Chicken, turkey, white-fleshed fish, scallops, oysters, mussels, vegetable-based appetizers, goat cheese, feta cheese, light salads, soups or pasta, Asian food, slightly piquant sauces, asparagus, peas, bell peppers, fresh tomatoes, lemon and orange zest, chives, cilantro, chervil, dill, ginger, parsley. 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Beef Provencal

Prep / Total time : 2 hours  30 minutes       Serves  6 to  8

Seasoning :
3                pounds  boneless beef chuck, cut into 1 - 1/2 inch pieces
All purpose flour, for coating beef
1-1/2         teaspoon  kosher salt
1/2            teaspoon fresh ground pepper

Saute :
3              tablespoons olive oil
1              large white onions, coarsely chopped
4              garlic cloves, minced
1/2           cup red  wine

6              new red potatoes, peeled and half
1/2           pound  white mushrooms, quartered
4              large carrots, peeled and sliced in 1/4 inch-thick pieces
1              cup fresh peas, or 6 oz. frozen, thawed
1              cup Kalamata olives
4              sprigs parsley, minced

Seasoning :
Preheat over to 325 degrees. Place flour, salt and pepper in zip-lock plastic bag. Add beef chunks and coat evenly, shaking off excess.

Saute :
Heat olive oil in heavy large Dutch oven over high heat. Add half of the beef and brown well on all sides. Transfer beef to plate and continue to sear remaining half and transfer beef to plate. Add onions to the Dutch oven, sauté until soften.

1 .  Add garlic, continue to sauté. Add wine scraping pot. Add chicken broth, orange strips, bay leaves, herbs and chopped tomatoes. Bring to a simmer. Add meat. Return to a simmer and cover Dutch oven and place in preheated oven for 1 hour.
3 .   After an hour, add potatoes, carrots and mushrooms. Simmer until meat is tender, 1 -2 hours. Remove and add peas and olives Stir together
4 .   Serve in soup bowls, sprinkle with minced parsley.

An herbal, spicy Cabernet Franc , Sauvignon Blanc or a juicy, bright Italian red.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Corn Bread with Corn Relish and Jalapeno

PREP / TOTAL TIME: 45 MINUTES Makes one 10-inch round corn bread

1              stick unsalted butter
1-1/2       cups all-purpose flour
3/4          cup stone-ground yellow or white cornmeal
1             tablespoon baking powder
1             tablespoon sugar
2             teaspoons kosher salt
2             large eggs, lightly beaten
1-1/4      cups milk
1-1/2      cups well-drained Corn Redish with Roasted Peppers ( recipe below)

1 .   Preheat the oven to 425°. Heat a 10-inch cast-iron skillet over low heat and add 2 tablespoons of the butter.
2 .   In a large bowl, whisk the flour with the cornmeal, baking powder, sugar and salt. In a large glass measuring cup, melt the remaining 6 tablespoons of butter in a microwave oven. Whisk in the eggs and milk until blended. Add the liquid ingredients and the Corn Relish to the cornmeal mixture and stir with a spatula just until the batter is evenly moistened.
3 .   Scrape the batter into the hot skillet and spread it evenly. Bake in the center of the oven for about 35 minutes, until the corn bread is golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer the skillet to a rack and let the corn bread cool for about 20 minutes. Cut into squares and serve.

Make ahead:
The corn bread can be wrapped in foil and refrigerated for 3 days. Rewarm the corn bread before serving.

**********Corn Relish with Roasted Peppers ********* 

TOTAL TIME: 1 -30 HOUR Makes 4 pints

12 ears of corn, shucked
1 red bell pepper
1 green bell pepper
4 jalapeños
1-1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
1-1/2 cups sugar
1 Spanish onion, finely diced
2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard

1 .   Fill a large bowl with ice water. In a large pot of boiling water, cook the corn until the kernels become slightly translucent, about 3 minutes. Transfer the corn to the ice water; let cool. Drain the corn and pat dry. Cut off the kernels. 2.   Roast the bell peppers and jalapeños over a gas flame, turning, until charred all over, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl, cover and let cool slightly. Peel, stem and seed the peppers and jalapeños. Cut the bell peppers into 1/2-inch dice and the jalapeños into 1/4-inch dice.
3 .  In an enameled cast-iron casserole, combine the vinegar and sugar and bring to a boil, stirring. Add the corn, peppers, jalapeños, onion and mustard and bring to a boil. Simmer for 15 minutes. Season with salt and let cool.
4 .   Ladle the corn relish into four 1-pint canning jars and refrigerate for up to 3 months.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Italian Sausage & Ground Turkey - Stuffed Cabbage


1                pound ground turkey
1/2             pound sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
1-1/2         cups fresh white bread crumbs
4               medium shallots, minced
2               garlic cloves, minced
2               large eggs, lightly beaten
1/4            cup chopped parsley
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2            teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1               1-1/2-pound head of cabbage, cored
2               tablespoons unsalted butter
1               large onion, finely diced
1               medium carrot, thinly sliced
1/2            cup dry white wine
2                cups chicken stock

1 .   In a bowl, combine the turkey, sausage, bread crumbs, shallots, garlic, eggs, 2 tablespoons of the parsley, 1-1/2 teaspoons of salt, 1/2 teaspoon of pepper and the nutmeg.
2 .   In a saucepan of boiling water, submerge the cabbage, cored side up. Simmer until the leaves are softened, about 1 minute. Using tongs, transfer the 16 largest intact leaves to paper towels and pat dry. Cut out the ribs; reserve the other leaves for another use.
3 .    Line a small bowl or coffee cup with a 8-by-10-inch piece of plastic wrap. Overlap 2 cabbage leaves in the bowl. Spoon 1/2 cup of the stuffing in the center of the leaves and fold the leaves over to enclose the stuffing. Cover with the overhanging plastic wrap and twist to form a compact, round cake. Unwrap the cake. Repeat with the remaining cabbage leaves and stuffing.
4 .     Preheat the oven to 350°. In an enameled cast-iron casserole, melt the butter. Add the onion and carrot and cook over moderately low heat until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the wine and bring to a boil. Add the stock and season with salt and pepper. Add the cabbage cakes, seam sides down. Cover and bake for about 35 minutes, until the filling is cooked through.
5 .     Transfer the cakes to shallow bowls and ladle in the broth. Sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons of parsley and serve.

Suggested Pairing
Bright, red-berried Russian River Pinot Noir. 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Redeye Gravy with a touch of 'Curry' & Chicken Fried Steak

PREP / TIME: 45 MINUTES              Makes 4 SERVINGS

1                    large egg, lightly beaten
1/2                 cup milk
1-1/2              cups all-purpose flour
Freshly ground pepper
12               1/4-inch-thick slices of top-round beef (about 18 ounces)
Vegetable oil
1                small onion, thinly sliced
2                garlic cloves, minced
1                tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1                tablespoon mild Madras  curry powder 
1-1/2          tablespoons Sriracha
1/2             cup strong-brewed coffee
1               13-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk
2                tablespoons lime juice
Lime wedges for serving
1-1/2         teaspoons sugar

1 .       In a pie plate, whisk the egg with the milk. In another pie plate, generously season the flour with salt and pepper. Dredge the beef in the flour, tapping off the excess. Dip the coated slices in the beaten egg mixture and dredge again in the flour, lightly patting the coating to help it adhere.
2 .      In a large cast-iron skillet, heat 1/2 inch of vegetable oil until shimmering. Working in 2 batches, fry the steak over moderate heat, turning once, until golden and crispy, about 5 minutes. Drain on paper towels and season lightly with salt.
3 .      Pour the cooking oil into a heatproof cup and wipe out the skillet. Return 2 tablespoons of the oil to the skillet and add the onion, garlic and ginger. Cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened and browned, about 5 minutes. Add the curry powder and Sriracha and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the coffee and boil until reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Add the coconut milk, lime juice and sugar, season the gravy with salt and pepper and simmer until thickened, about 5 minutes.
4 .      Put the chicken-fried steaks in shallow bowls. Top with the curry gravy and serve with lime wedges.
                Serve With Egg noodles.

Suggested Pairing :
Spicy, coffee-scented Argentinean Syrah.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Clone Crispy Crunchy KFC Chicken

Watch out, Colonel, because this KFC Inspired Fried Chicken is just is good as your crispy chicken recipe (at least, I think so). Made with not-so-secret herbs and seasonings, this fried chicken recipe will leave you coming back for more...and enjoying bite after bite. It may not be the original KFC fried chicken, but it sure is tasty. And it's something you can make on your own. If you want to have some more fun, buy a bucket of KFC chicken and have your family do a taste test.

1           teaspoon salt
1/2        teaspoon black pepper
2           pounds of chicken (legs, thighs, breast - whatever preferred)
1/2        teaspoon garlic salt
1/2        teaspoon chili powder, or to taste
1/2        teaspoon ground sage
1/2        tablespoon onion salt
1/2        tablespoon onion powder
1/2        teaspoon dry mustard
1/2        teaspoon basil, oregano, thyme, each
1/2        teaspoon all spice
2           cups flour
3           eggs
1           cup or 2 cups of buttermilk 
3/4        cup cornstarch
1/2        teaspoon marjoram
1/2        tablespoon paprika

1 .    Mix all spice ingredients together with the flour and cornstarch, set aside in large bowl. Beat eggs into buttermilk in separate bowl.
2 .     Place chicken pieces in an egg mixture just long enough to get saturated (add more water if necessary). Drain, then coat each piece in the flour mixture.
3 .    Deep fry in hot oil until golden brown. Finish off the chicken by baking it for about 1 hour, or until juices run clear.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Pie la` Tamale

PREP / TOTAL TIME: 6 HRS SERVINGS: Makes one 10-inch Pie la`Tamal

Filling :

10             guajillo chiles, stemmed and seeded
8               cups hot water
10             garlic cloves
2               canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
1               teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2            teaspoon cinnamon
1/2            teaspoon dried oregano
3               pounds whole boneless pork shoulder (see Tip)
                            **Kosher salt **

Masa :

2-1/2        cups masa harina for tamales (see Note)
1-1/2        cups hot water
1              cup cold lard
2              teaspoons baking powder
1-1/2        teaspoons kosher salt
1              cup cold chicken stock or low-sodium broth

1 .      Using tongs, briefly toast the guajillo chiles over an open flame or in a cast-iron skillet until fragrant, about 5 seconds per side. Transfer the chiles to a blender. Add 2 cups of the hot water and let stand for 15 minutes.
2 .     Add the garlic, chipotles, black pepper, cinnamon and oregano to the blender and puree until smooth. Strain the sauce into a large enameled cast-iron casserole, pressing hard on the solids. Add the pork to the casserole along with the remaining 6 cups of water and bring to a boil. Cover partially and simmer over low heat until the pork is tender, about 2 hours.
3 .      Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pork to a bowl and let cool slightly. Boil the sauce until it is reduced to 4 cups, about 20 minutes.
4 .      Shred the pork with 2 forks and return it to the sauce. Simmer uncovered until the sauce is reduced and just coats the pork, about 20 minutes. Season the pork with salt and let cool slightly.
5 .      In a large bowl, stir the masa harina with the water until evenly moistened; let the masa cool. In the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the paddle, beat the lard with the baking powder and salt at medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. With the machine on, add the masa in golf-ball-size lumps, then drizzle in the chicken stock and beat until completely smooth. Increase the speed to high and beat the masa until fluffy, about 3 minutes; the texture should resemble soft hummus.
6 .       Preheat the oven to 300° and grease a 10-inch cast iron skillet with lard. Spoon two-thirds of the masa into the skillet, mounding it slightly up the side. Spread 2 1/2 cups of the pork filling evenly over the masa and top with the remaining masa.
7 .       Bake for 30 minutes, until nearly set. Increase the temperature to 375° and bake until firm and lightly browned, about 35 minutes longer. Let stand for 30 minutes, then cut into wedges and serve.

The braised shredded pork can be refrigerated in its sauce for up to 3 days.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Happy Labor Day from My Family to Yours ... 'The Caranos'

                                "Labor Day"
Throw up our feet,
start up the grill,
toss on the 'burgers
and we'll all eat our fill.

Put up the tools,
watch the grass grow,
forget the leak
and the commode overflow.

The dishes can wait;
go out and play.
There's good reason to be lazy...
it's called Labor Day!

Author: Nancy Hughes

A word to the wise :  Don't  drink and drive .

Happy Labor Day everyone  ....~~Nee~~