Thursday, December 27, 2012

Caramelized Roasted Butternut Cubes

Thanks to my sister for this recipe.  The squash come out sweetly browned with the help of just a little bit of brown sugar, with a wonderful texture.  Slightly addictive.  Best made with butternut because its smooth skin makes for easy peeling compared with many squashes.

1 large butternut squash (about 2 lbs)
Walnut oil (or substitute canola)
1-2 Tbsp brown sugar
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Cut the squash in half the long way and scoop out the seeds.  Peel the skin with a vegetable peeler, making sure to get down to where the flesh starts to be more orange.  Cut the squash into 1/2-inch cubes.

Place the cubed  squash in a large bowl.  Drizzle with walnut oil and sprinkle with brown sugar, salt, and pepper.  Toss well to mix and coat thoroughly.

Spread the squash in a single layer in a baking pan or two.  Roast for 30-45 minutes, turning the cubes over once or twice.  Take them out when they are nicely caramelized in places but before they cement themselves to the pan.

Serve hot or room temperature.

Serves about 8.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Maple Mustard Glaze for Ham

We had our usual holiday ham for Christmas, from Hager's this year.  My sister and I put together this glaze, which was delicious.  Sweet but not too sweet, tempered by tangy vinegar and mustard.  This would also work well to toss with cubed squash or sweet potatoes for roasting.

1/3 cup maple syrup, preferably grade B (dark)
2 Tbsp cider vinegar
1-2 Tbsp spicy brown mustard
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat, whisking until smooth.  Simmer until somewhat reduced, then refrigerate until ready to use.

Makes enough for one 10+ pound ham.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Cranberry-Lime Braised Pork Chops

This came of an inspiration to use up the last of the cranberry sauce left in the fridge from Thanksgiving.  But since you probably don't have the same thing in your fridge, it's still easy to make from scratch.

3 good sized pork chops
1 1/2 tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Olive oil
1/2 - 3/4 cup Cranberry Sauce with Lime
1 1/4 - 1 1/2 cups chicken broth, warm

Get out the chops an hour or so before you plan to start cooking them, if you can manage it. Combine the salt and black pepper and mix well. Sprinkle this all over the chops and let sit for a while.

Preheat a braising pan or large skillet over medium heat for a few minutes to get it nice and evenly hot. Add just a little olive oil and turn to the heat to medium-high. Place the chops in the pan, close together but not overlapping. Cook without touching for 2-3 minutes, until nicely browned on one side. Turn over and cook on the other side for another 2-3 minutes. Remove the chops to a plate. 

Stir together the cranberry sauce and chicken broth, then add to the hot pan and deglaze it, scraping up all the browned bits stuck to the bottom, which will be full of flavor. Simmer the sauce over medium heat until reduced somewhat, then add the chops back in. They should be no more than about halfway covered with liquid. Turn to the heat to low and simmer for 10-12 minutes, turning the chops once halfway through. Remove from liquid and let rest for a few minutes, then serve.

The braising liquid is delicious. Spoon a little over each chop when serving, and if desired, also over mashed potatoes, polenta, or whatever other accompaniment you have.

Serves 3.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Simple Bi Bim Bap (Korean Rice Bowl with Veggies and Egg)

Bi Bim Bap is Korean comfort food: a bowl of white rice topped with simply cooked veggies, meat if you want, and an egg or two, plus chili sauce and a bit of soy sauce.  There are many variations on it and you can use virtually whatever vegetables or meat you like, depending on what's in season and available.  Right now, for instance, you could substitute other greens for the napa cabbage or add some shredded carrot cooked in a similar manner.  This is a simple version with no meat.  Kim chi is great as a condiment or on the side.

1 1/2 cups uncooked short grain white rice
2 Tbsp sesame oil
8-10 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium head napa cabbage, sliced into ribbons
1 tsp rice vinegar
1-2 eggs per diner
Asian chili sauce
Soy sauce

Cook the rice however you normally do (I use a steamer).  While it is cooking, assemble the rest of the dish.

Heat the sesame oil in a large skillet.  Add the garlic and saute for 1-2 minutes.  Add the napa cabbage and stir fry until tender but not too soft.  Remove from heat and set aside.

Bring a large, shallow-ish pot of water to a simmer.  Crack each egg into a small cup and gently slide it into the water.  Cook over low heat for 3-4 minutes, then remove each egg with a slotted spoon.

When the rice is cooked, assemble each bowl: a good quantity of rice on the bottom, then add the cabbage and an egg or two.  Drizzle with chili sauce and soy sauce at the table.

Serves 4-6.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Sausage Stew with Roasted Garlic and Kale

Roasted garlic adds a nice depth of flavor to this hearty stew, but if you don't have any on hand feel free to just saute some garlic along with the onion.  Lacinato (or "dinosaur") kale is nice here, but use whatever you have.  Serve this with cornbread on the side or, if you like, serve it over polenta or even pasta.

1 lb hot Italian sausage (substitute sweet if you like), casings removed
1 large onion, diced
3 cups chopped or crushed tomatoes (canned, or thawed if frozen)
3-4 cups cooked kidney beans
Cloves from 2 heads of roasted garlic
6-8 cups kale, center ribs cut out and leaves cut into thin ribbons
1 tsp whole fennel seeds
Salt and pepper to taste

Brown the sausage in a Dutch oven or other large pot.  Pour off excess fat, then add the onion and saute for 2-3 minutes over medium-high heat.  Add all other remaining ingredients and cook over medium heat, stirring  frequently, until the kale is tender.  Taste and adjust seasonings.

Serves 4-6.