Monday, October 24, 2016

Squash mac and cheese

This is one that's worth making again! Mac and cheese is delicious, and now you can make it nutritious AND orange at the same time... that was your goal, right? right? Crap, I guess not. Well, regardless, this was good, and even got a good Ed-rating. You could skip the oven part, and just call this a pasta sauce. It works all ways.

Start with an onion. Everything starts with an onion. Chop it up, and fry in some oil until it's caramelized. At which point, add some garlic and a handful of fresh sage.

The squash: Peel and cube a butternut squash, saving the seeds because roasted butternut squash seeds are delish. Delicata seeds are the best, but butternut seeds are a close second. 

Add some butter to your pan, and fry up those squash cubes, leaving them in place long enough to get some browning. Browning = flavor. If you're a big fan of squash chunks, leave some aside to stir into the pasta as chunks instead of sauce.

Then food process everything in that pan until it makes a beautiful orange sauce. It might be chunky, but don't worry, you'll be adding the cheese sauce shortly, and that'll thin it out and help with the processing.

As the water boils for the pasta, start the sauce. 

Make a roux - ~2tbs butter, whisk in 2tbs flour, cook while whisking for 5 minutes, and add some milk. Probably about a cup? Keep adding and whisking until it's the thickness you like. Add some to the food processor to help puree the squash. Dump the pureed squash back into the pan with the roux, and taste and adjust seasoning. Salt, pepper, a hint of nutmeg. Dump in ~1-2 cups of grated cheese. Stir until that is melted. Set it aside.

Drain the pasta when it is still very al dente. Stir in the squash-cheese sauce, and load it into a casserole dish. Sprinkle a little more cheese on top, and bake another 15-20 minutes, until everything is bubbling and delicious. Or you can totally skip that step and just eat pasta with the cheesy squash sauce. It's all good!

1 onion
2 cloves garlic
a handful of fresh sage
1 butternut squash
1 lb pasta (small shapes, of any variety)
1-2C grated cheddar
2 tbs butter
2 tbs flour
1-2C milk
parmesan cheese, for serving

I like my pasta smothered in parmesan cheese.

We added green things.

Friday, October 21, 2016


Pizza needs anchovies, right? Anchovies, bay scallops, pesto, sauteed leek, and cheddar (I think?). 

Delicious. But maybe a *few* too many anchovies. 

I use a basic bread recipe with maybe four glugs of olive oil into the dough while mixing to make a pizza dough. I only rise it for 15-20 minutes, then get on with rolling it out. It'll still taste delicious (if not quite as full a flavor), and we're hungry NOW. 

Pesto - 
Grind a hunk of parmesan with a clove of garlic in a food processor
Add as much basil as you can fit, a few shakes of almond meal, and a few pinches of salt
A glug or three of olive oil
Process until green and smooth
Add more oil if it won't grind
Taste, and adjust

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Pumpkin cinnamon rolls

It's autumn, which means all things pumpkin. I usually don't go too crazy for this stuff, but a few weeks ago we had two guys staying with us, one our American friend living in Madrid, and one his Spanish friend. Greg has been missing all things American, like maple syrup, cheddar cheese, and all things pumpkin spice. Juanma had no idea what he was in for, when they went to the grocery store and came back with EVERYTHING pumpkin spice. To be fair, I think the pumpkin spice thing is overdone, but it is good in small doses, and I do love me my squashes.

So Greg and Juanma got me thinking about pumpkin spice, and I had a box of pearl sugar that I'd picked up in Sweden (the best souvenirs are the edible sort), and I don't really like the glaze part of cinnamon rolls anyway, so it was time to make pumpkin cinnamon rolls, with pearl sugar instead of a glaze. I found the pumpkin in the dough makes for a very flavorful and fluffy roll, not at all bready, and the pumpkin in the filling makes it even more moist. I highly recommend taking the five minutes to brown the butter rather than just melting in the microwave - deepens the flavor. I'm thinking that these rolls don't need to be an autumn-only sort of thing... I'll be making them all year!

2.5 tsp yeast
1/2C warm milk
3/4C pumpkin puree
1 egg
5 tbs butter, melted and divided
2 tbs sugar

3.5C flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/4C pumpkin puree
The other half of the butter you melted earlier
2 tbs white sugar
1/4C brown sugar
1/4tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon

Pearl sugar

Melt the butter in a saucepan. Take it a little beyond melted stage, and brown it. It'll sizzle and spit for a while, and then it'll stop sizzling and turn brown. This makes it taste so nutty and delicious, you don't want to skip this step.

Warm the milk, and stir in the yeast and proof it. Then add about half the melted butter, the pumpkin, the egg, and the sugar. Stir that around, and then in with the dry goods! Start with about a cup of flour and all the spices, and then keep adding flour until you get a dough you can knead. Turn it out to a floured surface and knead, maybe 8 minutes.

Return the dough to a greased bowl, and let it rise 1 hour, until just about doubled in bulk. It becomes this beautiful orange color; I love it.

Once the dough has risen, generously flour a surface, turn out the dough, flour the top, and roll it out. It'll be loose, soft and pillowy - I think because of the pumpkin. You want a sheet about 11x17".

Mix the pumpkin puree with the remaining melted butter, and brush that onto the dough. Sprinkle the sugar on top, and the cinnamon on top of that. Roll up the sheet of dough starting with the end nearest to you, until it makes a neat little log. Then cut the log into ~1" slices. If you use a serrated knife, you won't squish the spiral. Try to cut without applying any downward pressure.

Arrange the rolls flat-side-up in a greased pan (two 9" round pans, in my case), and let them rise another 45 minutes.

Once they've risen, sprinkle the tops with pearl sugar, and bake at 350F for 25 minutes. You could brush the top with melted butter before adding the sugar, but you can also skip that step.


Saturday, August 27, 2016


Sam is an excellent baker, and we were lucky enough to have her hone her skill on the rest day during the world champs this week. Wahoo! She made us kannebullar, which is basically just cinnamon buns, but with that awesome Swedish pearl sugar on top. Naturally, I made her get two boxes of pearl sugar, so I can bring one home. This is a very tasty recipe, and definitely worth making again. For fika, perhaps... 

150g smör = 10.5tbs butter
50g jäst = 5 tsp active dry yeast
5dl mjölk = 2.1C milk
1.5dl strösocker = 0.63C sugar
1/2tsp salt = 1/2 tsp salt
1.5 tsp nystötta kardemummakärnor) = 1.5 tsp ground cardamom
11-12dl vetemjöl = 4.6-5C flour

150g butter (smör) = 10.5tbs butter
1 tbs kanel = 1 tbs cinnamon
1.5 dl strösocker = 0.63C sugar

1 egg
pearl sugar

I think the original recipe is calling for fresh yeast (I think that might be the wrong word for it, but not the dry stuff we usually see at home), but Sam used a packet of dry yeast (14g), which says it is equivalent to 50g of fresh yeast. According to some online calculator, that is ~5tsp of active dry yeast. Go with it!

Heat the milk (to 37 degrees C, but I assume that's warm but not hot, same as you would for bread), and dissolve the yeast into it.

Add the sugar, salt, butter, cardamom, and part of the flour. Mix and keep adding flour until you have a smooth dough, that is not too dry. Let this rise for 45 minutes.

Turn out the dough onto a floured surface. Divide in half. Roll out each half into a rectangle.

Melt the filling butter, and mix with the rest of the filling ingredients. Spread on the dough. Roll up and cut into 2-3cm thick slices. Put them onto a baking sheet to rise again. Optionally, you can place them into little muffin wrappers first, for maximal prettiness at the end. Let the rolls rise another 40 minutes.

Heat the oven to 250 degrees C. Brush the buns with beaten egg and top with pearl sugar. Bake for 8-10 minutes (that didn't quite work for us - we had them in there at least 15).

Try not to eat ALL of them at once.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Pizza and summer drinks

It's not the artsiest of photos, and I left the salad dressing in the middle of it, but hey - you gotta see the pinkness of that pink drink!

Ed has been really into making cocktails lately, mostly thanks to Grand Ten's awesome liqueurs and good spirits. This one was absolutely perfect for a hot summer night, just the right balance of sweet and tart and only mildly alcoholic. Not sure what to call it... how about just Pink Drink.

Equal parts (~3/4 oz)
- Craneberry (Grand Ten product)
- Angelica (Grand Ten product)
- Campari
A dash of grenadine
Several ice cubes
Fill the glass with cold Rose wine


The pizza was also worth mentioning. The crust was the NYT no-knead bread recipe, with one of the three cups of flour a white whole wheat. We determined that this recipe functions just fine as pizza dough, but is not perfect. It's loose and gloopy, rather than stretchy and handle-able, and serves better as actual bread. But, it was perfectly functional for our pizza last night!

The toppings were where it's at, though. We parboiled a potato, and slowly caramelized a leek in butter, and soaked some old mushrooms in white wine and then cooked for a while in more butter. Then we drizzled olive oil all over the crust, sprinkled on a whole bunch of fresh sage, and added those toppings, plus a whole bunch of very delicious ricotta cheese (from Purity Cheese, found at Russos, not that water mass-produced crap). Overall, delicious combination of flavors. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Lamb shanks

We bought a lamb this spring, from Woodcock Farm. Part of it was for Steve and Jess as a wedding present, but the other half was for us. Before you start thinking that we bought some cute little fluffy thing, it came to us in packaged frozen chunks, nicely labeled. We also bought a ton of cheese, and had some friends over to each cheese and lamb, and it was everything we'd hoped. Anyway, the fun part about buying an entire animal is that you end up with cuts of meat you're not used to cooking. We all love lamb chops, but we don't love the $25/lb price tag, amiright? I think this may have been the first time I cooked a lamb shank, and holy moly, this will not be the last time. That was a DELICIOUS piece of meat after a few hours of braising. And braising is like the easiest cooking method out there, since you just get it simmering and then leave it for 2-3 hours. 

There are a lot of recipes out there for lamb shanks. It's pretty free-form, since you don't have to measure anything. I'll list out some bullets of the things I did that are either important or maybe different than the rest of the internet. Also, I don't really remember exactly what we did here, because this was like a month ago, and my memory doesn't stretch that far back.

Things to do when cooking a lamb shank: 

  • Trim off the icky skin stuff beforehand, but don't be OCD about it
  • Sear the heck out of the meat before starting the braise!
  • I put in about a cup of beans (post-soaking). Beans love fatty stews.
  • Sweat an onion and some garlic and add that
  • Don't be afraid of heavy flavors
  • Alcohol makes things delicious. I think I used some whiskey, since we didn't have any red wine
  • Braise (slow bubbles) for 2-3 hours, minimum. The meat should fall off the bones


Wednesday, February 24, 2016


Or, how Alex eats when Ed is not home. I know I should eat things like vegetables and some source of protein, so I try not to just have a bowl of cheerios for dinner. Though in summer, corn on the cob and a few peaches seems like an acceptable dinner. Anyway, usually those quick meals with no thought come from eggs. Either an omelet or a "scromelet", which is just when your omelet gets a bit more scrambled than you like. It's a pretty straightforward meal, but does require that you have gone grocery shopping at some point in the last week, if you want fresh veggies.

Chop the things you can find in your fridge. In this case, carrots, peppers, asparagus, tomatoes, sausage, cheddar. Other options for when you haven't been shopping in a while include onions, canned beans, random jars of pickled veggies, and mysterious frozen things from the back of your freezer.

Saute the various vegetal things until they're cooked. They usually require different amounts of time, so I tend to start with the meat, add in the heftier veggies, and finish with anything leafy. It appears that I added a handful of spinach to this mix. Then mix together your eggs (depending on the level of hungry, its 2-3 for me), with a dash of milk or water (because I usually don't have milk on hand), get that pan hot and dump it all in. Wait a few seconds until it just starts to set, give it a twirl to give it some volume, then let it set another 45-60 seconds. Now's a good time to add some salt, pepper, maybe some oregano. Now dump your stuff in the middle, fold it over, and have a tasty meal!

(it didn't all fit)