Roasted Autumn Vegetables

We roast vegetables all year-round; however, I’ll be honest that I always look forward to fall when the squashes come into season. This is our first time for this year to use an autumn/winter squash and we’re using a Delicata squash this time. These squash are creamy and the skin is so soft that you don’t have to peel the skin off before you bake them.

Roasted autumn vegetables

Roasted autumn vegetables

Ingredients

  • 1 Delicata squash – seeded and cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 to 3 carrots – peeled and cut into 1/2 inch slices on a bias
  • 2 Russet potatoes – you could also use red or gold. Cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 Fennel root – cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 Sweet Onion – cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup Olive Oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
  • 1 pinch to a teaspoon of red pepper flakes for a light kick!

Instructions

Heat your oven 400 degrees F.

Cut all the vegetables into one inch pieces. The delicata can be cut in half lengthwise, then in half crosswise. Scoop out the seeds, then cut slices about 1/2 inch. Then, cut these slices into about 1 inch pieces. The main thing is to keep the size of all the vegetables approximately the same so they cook consistently.

A trick to the potatoes is to rinse them in cool water to help them brown easier in the oven.

Mix all the vegetables into a large bowl then add the olive oil, salt, black pepper and pepper flake. Mix well.

Put the vegetable mixture into a large oven roasting pan. If you want to cut down on the amount of ingredients, you can probably fit them all onto a baking sheet. We line the bottom of our roasting pan with foil to make it easier to cleanup when we’re done.

Bake the vegetables for 30 to 35 minutes until all the vegetables are tender but not mushy.

I’ll note that we intentionally under salted so that the vegetables don’t sweat too much. You can sprinkle a little extra salt over the cooked vegetables if you want or add it to your taste at the table.

This should make enough for 4 large servings or 6 side dish servings.

Variations: Depending on what fresh herbs you have on hand and what you’ll be serving this with, you can add some herbs to this. We like to add parsley, sage, rosemary, and/or thyme. Yes, I couldn’t resist the music reference but it’s true. They all work really well with these vegetables.

Advertisements

Smoked Jalapeño Sauce

This sauce came about because we wanted to find a way to use some fajita ingredients with pasta. A really good friend gave us a huge basket of jalapeño peppers from her garden and we used these in the smoker. We’ve been making a Doña sauce for years and this is a variation of the Smoked Doña Sauce. The primary difference is the sauce we made tonight wasn’t intended to be used like a salsa, it’s more a base for something else. It’s definitely much spicier and intense than the doña sauces.

Smoked Jalapeno Sauce being mixed in the blender.

Smoked Jalapeno Sauce being mixed in the blender.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb of fresh red ripened jalapeños,
  • 6 cloves of garlic,
  • 1/4 cup evoo.
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

Instructions

  1. Smoke the jalapeño peppers (See smoking instructions here)
  2. Blanch the peppers and garlic in 2 cups of water for 20 mins
  3. Put everything in a blender and process until smooth, adding a teaspoon of kosher salt.

Makes a spectacular dipping sauce and base for a pasta dish! We mixed it tomato sauce then added it to pasta, fajita beef and grilled vegetables – it’s definitely worth a try!

Here are some pictures of the process:

Jalapenos being put into the smoker.

Jalapenos being put into the smoker.

Jalapenos after they have been smoked.

Jalapenos after they have been smoked.

 

Fajita pasta with smoked jalapeno sauce.

Fajita pasta with smoked jalapeno sauce.

Smoked Jalapeno Sauce being mixed in the blender.

Smoked Jalapeno Sauce being mixed in the blender.

Homemade Pasta with Goose Eggs

Here is our story about our experience comparing semolina flour versus all-purpose flour when making homemade pasta using goose eggs.

It all started a couple weeks ago when we went to dinner with some friends and one of them had just bought some goose eggs from a local farmer. We all decided it would be fun to have a dinner party and everyone pitch in to make pasta. We had this dinner last Sunday and it was a fun evening of wine, pasta, and good company.

Last Sunday, Steve used a recipe he found online that used a combination of goose eggs and chicken eggs. His recipe also called for a mixture of semolina flour and all-purpose flour. I can’t find the recipe he used but it had all the elements of a standard pasta recipe: eggs, flour, salt, olive oil and water. When the dinner was over, Steve sent us home with some goose eggs so we could try them out ourselves.

Since we had never used semolina before, we picked some up at the grocery store so we could try using it in our own pasta. Yesterday we decided to make two batches of pasta to compare using the different flours in our pasta. The first batch is using a goose egg with semolina flour and the second batch is using one goose egg with all-purpose flour. We really are just doing this so we can do a side-by-side comparison of the two flours.

Something to know about goose eggs is that they are very large and have large, bright yellow yokes. The ones we got seem to be about the size or 2 or 3 chicken eggs. We had to compensate a little with the flour quantity to get the right texture for the dough but we’ve made enough dough to be able to do so without much trouble.

Pasta from Semolina Flour and Goose egg:

For the first batch of pasta, we used Bob’s Red Mill Semolina Pasta Flour that we bought at our local grocery store. If you can’t find it in your store, you can buy some online. Since we hadn’t made any pasta like this before, we used the recipe on the package.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cup of semolina flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs (we substituted 1 goose egg)
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Pasta from All-Purpose Flour and Goose Egg:

For this batch, we used regular all-purpose flour but we didn’t have a recipe to use for comparison. I went with a recipe from one of my favorite TV Chefs,  Lidia Bastianich. The proportions are slightly different, but basically the same recipe.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 2 large eggs (we substituted one goose egg)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons of cold water

Instructions for both pasta recipes

Since we wanted to compare the two flours, we used the same mixing process.

Combine the flour and salt in a large bowl. In a second bowl, add the egg and beat it to mix it up then add the water and olive oil. Next, add the egg, water, and olive oil mixture to the semolina flour and salt. Mix in the bowl until you have a stiff dough. Then move it onto a floured counter top and knead the dough for 10 minutes. Then, put the dough into a zip-lock bag and allow it to rest for at least 20 minutes.

After resting the past, we used our pasta roller to get down to the 2nd thinnest setting and then used the linguine cutter on the pasta roller to cut the pasta in a consistent manner.

Summary of our comparison:

We really wanted to taste a difference in the two pastas, however, we really didn’t taste a difference. There was a slight textural difference but I don’t think it was enough that I would have noticed it.

  • When we were mixing the pasta and kneading it, the semolina mixture was grittier and stickier so I was a little concerned. The all-purpose flour mixture was very silky and smooth and seemed like it was exactly what you wanted.
  • However, after resting, the texture was reversed and the semolina was not near as sticky and it went through the pasta roller without any trouble. The all-purpose flour had become stickier and we to add some flour to keep it from sticking to the pasta roller as it went through.
  • Cooking the pasta seemed to be identical in time needed to cook them. We cooked it in small batches for about 3 minutes per batch.
  • The taste of the final pasta really was indistinguishable. I couldn’t tell a difference when it came to taste.
  • The final texture is where we saw the biggest difference. Even though we rolled both pasta mixtures the same way and to the same setting, however, the semolina flour seemed thicker, even though it should have been exactly the same thickness. Once cooked, it held onto the seemingly thicker status and seemed more substantial and toothsome. The semolina pasta also seemed more structurally stable. However, I don’t think it was enough to have noticed if you weren’t intentionally doing a side-by-side comparison.
  • I would like to try this comparison again using regular store bought chicken eggs just to see if it was goose eggs that made the difference.

Here is Ryder checking out the pasta as it was resting.

Ryder checking out our rolled pasta

Ryder checking out our rolled pasta

Just for fun, here are some pictures from our first experiment using the goose eggs last weekend. This first picture is one goose egg in a bowl. You can see the two chicken eggs in the background for a comparison of the size.

Goose egg in a bowl

Goose egg in a bowl

Here is a picture of the bowl with 2 goose eggs (on the left side) and 2 chicken eggs (on the right side).

Mixing bowl with 2 goose eggs and 2 chicken eggs

Mixing bowl with 2 goose eggs and 2 chicken eggs

Here is one of us using the chitarra to cut the past.

Here we are using the chitarra to cut the pasta.

Here we are using the chitarra to cut the pasta.

This is Curt breaking open the first goose egg. You can tell by his voice that he was surprised at the size of this egg.

Finally, here is a clip of Steve using the chitarra for the first time.

Piselli e Guanciale – Peas and Bacon

Piselli e guanciale, otherwise known as peas and bacon.

Piselli e guanciale, otherwise known as peas and bacon.

This is another gem of a recipe that comes from my favorite cookbook, Breaking Bread in L’Aquila. We modified this one to substitute bacon and changed the cooking order so that the bacon and tomatoes stay firm.

One of the best parts of this recipe is that it is so simple. We can’t find fresh peas here in Austin, TX, so we always go with the frozen peas. As for the protein, we go with bacon. I mean, who doesn’t like bacon. I know guanciale isn’t the same as bacon but it’s the closest you can find here in Austin. We also found that adding the bacon at the end gives a crispier bacon which gives a nice texture since the rest of the dish is so soft.

We made this batch for a Sunday dinner with friends where we made pasta and mixed the piselli e guanciale with the pasta.

This should serve 6 – 8 people.

Ingredients

  • 2 to 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 ounces of bacon (or guanciale), chopped
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 1 pound of peas, frozen or fresh
  • 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • Salt & fresh ground pepper, to taste

Instructions

Start by cooking the chopped bacon in a frying pan. Once it is fully cooked, remove the bacon but leave the oil in the pan. Add your chopped onion to the frying pan with the bacon grease. If you need extra liquid, add the olive oil. You only need the olive oil if you don’t have enough bacon grease to use for your sauted onions. Heat the frying pan with the bacon grease and olive oil over medium-high heat. Once it’s heated, add the onion and saute until the onion starts to turn translucent. This should take about 5 minutes.

Stir the peas into the sauted onions. Continue cooking for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the peas are warmed and still plump. Now, add the cooked chopped bacon and the tomatoes and mix together. Taste the dish and then season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Serve warm as a side dish. Alternatively, you can use this mixture as a topping for pasta as a main course.

 

Easy Pizza Sauce

OK, I know its easy to pick up a jar of pizza sauce at the grocery but what do you do if you find yourself ready to make a pizza but don’t have any pre-made pizza sauce? Um, you make it yourself and after the first time you make, you might never buy pizza sauce again. We’ve been making our own pizzas for a few years now have settled on a couple techniques. One is to use the pizza dough from Trader Joe’s because it’s so convenient and it taste good. The other method is to use Trader Joe’s Lavash Bread. We’ve used a lot of different sauces for the pizza but we’d never set out to make a traditional pizza sauce because we always have a jar or can of a store bought sauce. One day we realized we didn’t have any pizza sauce so we looked online for directions. There are a lot of them but we didn’t want to spend hours simmering a sauce and we didn’t want to use a lot of ingredients. When we found a selection with simple ingredients and simple cooking methods, we took the flavor profile we were looking for and came up with this easy pizza sauce recipe. We’ve used it a number of times now and it always turns out great.

Some comments on the ingredients – this is supposed to be easy and from items already in your pantry.  If you don’t have the separate containers of oregano, basil and rosemary, you can substitute with 1 1/2 tablespoons of Italian Seasoning mix. If you don’t have garlic cloves you can substitute with other forms of garlic. Check out this conversion for using garlic powder, garlic salt, etc.

Ingredients

  • 6 oz can tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • salt to taste
  • black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 tablespoon dried basil
  • 1/2 tablespoon dried rosemary, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

Instructions

Combine all ingredients into a saucepan. Cook over medium heat until mixture boils.

Reduce heat to low and simmer 10 minutes, or until it has the thick consistency of pizza sauce.

Allow sauce to cool and spread on pizza dough and add the toppings of your choice.

 

Bacon Jam

Finished bacon jam

Finished bacon jam

This post is long over due. I thought I had shared one earlier this summer but it appears it was left in draft limbo land. The idea for this post came from a pizza we had at Cane Rosso here in Austin, TX. You might have seen this restaurant on the TV show “Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives” or written up in Austin or Dallas food blogs. It’s a great restaurant with fun pizzas. One of the ones we tried when we visited their Austin, TX, location was a bacon jam pizza. We had never heard of anything like this and immediately fell in love with the flavors. A quick Google search resulted in a lot more recipes than I expected.

We took a few of them and came up with a version that we really like. We use the jam to put on pizza but it’s got so much more potential that you can do anything you want with it.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb bacon, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 4 cups of yellow onion, diced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon of chopped hot pepper (we used a red jalapeno in the pictures)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

Direction

chopped bacon ready to be cooked

chopped bacon ready to be cooked

Place the bacon in a large pot and cook over medium until the bacon is crispy and rendered fat is foaming and white. It should take about 10 minutes. Pour bacon and rendered fat into a strainer placed over a bowl to collect the fat. Save the fat for the next step.

cooking bacon

cooking bacon

Return the pot to medium-low heat and add 2 tables spoons of bacon fat and 2 tablespoons of butter in the pot. Add the chopped onions and 1 teaspoon of salt and saute until the onions are soft and translucent. It should take about 10 minutes.

picture of ingredients

picture of ingredients

Onions sauteing

Onions sauteing

Add the garlic, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, black pepper and cayenne to the onion mixture. Once mixed, add the cooked bacon and stir in the water. Cook until the jam is a reddish-brown brick color and has a jam consistency. This will take about 10 to 15 minutes.

Bacon mixed into onion mixture

Bacon mixed into onion mixture

Once you get the jam consistency, remove from heat and stir in the balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Stir the mixture until shiny and thoroughly mixed.

Final consistency of the jam

Final consistency of the jam

Finished bacon jam

Finished bacon jam

Salmon en Croute with Asparagus & Dill

Salmon en croute with asparagus and asparagus cream sauce.

Salmon en croute with asparagus and asparagus cream sauce.

We first tried to make Salmon en Croute a few years ago and used a recipe that was mushroom based. We actually only made that version one time and then we switched over to a method with asparagus and dill. We like this new version because it is brighter and lighter. For those of you who aren’t familiar with a Salmon en Croute, it is similar to a Beef Wellington except it is salmon wrapped in a puff pastry. I realized I haven’t written up this recipe so here is our contribution to the Salmon en Croute recipes.

For this time, we made our own crust using a pate brisee recipe that I wrote up for our chicken pot pie in a pumpkin. For the pate brisee, we substituted dill instead of the thyme for that recipe. We also used butter for our cream in this recipe but you can easily substitute cream cheese, creme fraiche or Neufchâtel.

This recipe is for 2 people but you can easily adjust it for more. Wih the holidays coming up, it would be a nice treat that you could serve for your guests. It’s really not that hard and the presentation of it on the plate is pretty impressive.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound of asparagus
  • 1 teaspoon of dill
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon of lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 2 salmon fillets (boneless and skinless)
  • 1 sheet of puff pastry (or similar sized sheet of pate brisee)
  • 1 egg

Instructions

First, trim the asparagus to the length of the salmon fillets. Don’t throw away the cut off pieces. Put the cut end pieces into a pot of water and bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 30 minutes, until the tips are fork tender.

Salmon and trimmed asparagus

This is the asparagus trimmed to the length of the salmon.

While the asparagus ends are simmering, poach the long asparagus spears.  To do this, bring salted water to a boil and then add the asparagus spears. Reduce heat and simmer the spears for 5 minutes then move them into an ice bath. Once cooled, put them on a paper towel to dry.

Asparagus ends simmering

Here are the cut asparagus ends simmering in salted water.

Once the cut ends of the asparagus are tender, put them into a food processor with the dill, lemon zest, pinch of salt and butter. Mix this in the food processor until it is a smooth cream.

Making the asparagus sauce

Making the asparagus sauce

Here is the final asparagus cream sauce.

Here is the final asparagus cream sauce.

Heat your oven to 450 degree Fahrenheit.

OK, now you’ve got everything prepared and you’re ready to start assembling the final product while your oven heats up.

Place a piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet. Next, put your pastry on the parchment paper and roll out your puff pastry or pate brisee into a square, about as wide as a baking sheet. You want it fairly thin and large enough to completely wrap around the salmon. Once it is rolled out, place your first piece of salmon on the center of the pastry and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.

Rolled out pate brisee

Rolled out pate brisee

Salmon on pate brisee

Salmon on pate brisee

Next, you’re going to put a layer of the asparagus cream sauce on top of the salmon filet. After that, place a layer of asparagus spears length-wise. This is why you want to trim the to the length of the salmon filets. You’ll notice we timmed our a little too much so we cut a couple spears down to help give us complete coverage.

Asparagus cream sauce on the salmon filet.

Asparagus cream sauce on the salmon filet.

Asparagus spears on top of the cream sauce.

Asparagus spears on top of the cream sauce.

Now, lightly salt and pepper this layer to taste, then repeat with the other salmon filet, then cream sauce and then asparagus layers.

When you’ve finished assembling the layers, you are going to wrap it up with the pasty. We pulled up long side, then the two small sides, and finally the final long side. Be careful folding it over so you don’t get holes in the pastry. If you do, just pinch it back together. As hard as we try to be gentle, we typically get a couple of tears in the pastry.

Pate brisee pastry wrapped around the salmon and asparagus.

Pate brisee pastry wrapped around the salmon and asparagus.

Once it is assemble, cut small slits in the top of the pastry so it can vent while it is cooking (see picture below). You are going to cook the assembled salmon en croute for a total of 30 minutes and put on an egg wash at the 10 and 20 minute intervals. So, to start, put a light egg wash on the salmon en croute before you put it in the oven. Next, cook for 10 minutes, then take out the salmon en croute and apply a second egg wash. Put the salmon en croute back into the oven and cook for 10 minutes, then take it out and apply the final egg wash. Put the salmon en croute back in the oven and cook for the final 10 minutes.

Egg wash on the salmon en croute before we put in the oven.

Egg wash on the salmon en croute before we put in the oven.

Egg wash on the salmon en croute after 10 minutes in the oven.

Egg wash on the salmon en croute after 10 minutes in the oven.

The finished salmon en croute.

The finished salmon en croute.

Salmon en croute with asparagus and asparagus cream sauce.

Salmon en croute with asparagus and asparagus cream sauce.