Herbed summer squash pasta bake

IMG_2707Adapted from smitten kitchen

Ingredients:
250 g De Cecco pasta
olive oil
3 summer squash, halved lengthwise and sliced thin
Juice of half a lemon
45 g (3 tbsp) unsalted butter
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 large or 5 skinny scallions, sliced thin, white and green parts separate
Pinches of red pepper flakes, to taste
25 g (3 tbsp) all-purpose flour
350 mL (1 1/2 cups) broth
thyme, oregano, salt and more pepper to taste
finely grated parmesan cheese
smoked Gouda, cubed small
chopped basil

Directions:
Cook the pasta to al dente in salted water. Drain and set aside. Heat oil in a pan on medium-high, season with salt and pepper, and fry the zucchini for 10 minutes without burning, browning both sides. Remove, and sprinkle the squash with some lemon juice. Melt butter in the pan on medium heat and fry the scallion whites and garlic for a couple of minutes. Add the flour until absorbed by the butter. Slowly add the (milk) broth, incorporating each time you mix it together. Season with lemon, salt, and pepper. Simmer for two minutes. Remove from heat and mix in all herbs. Season to taste. Add the gravy sauce to your baking dish. Add the pasta, squash, and cheeses. Stir to combine. Bake for 25-30 minutes until edges are golden brown. Serve hot, topped with chopped basil.

I subbed broth for the whole milk and smoked Gouda for the mozzarella. It made the sauce a quite nice gravy, surprisingly. I also had two tomatoes and some reserved puree that needed to go somewhere so… Mystery pasta bake. Yum! In hindsight, however, this would have been super delicious without the addition of tomatoes, although Amber really didn’t mind them.

~Jessica

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Strawberry chia jam

IMG_2693.JPG

Fresh  out of the pot

Adapted from Nadia Lim

Ingredients:
2 cups strawberries, frozen
3 tbsp honey
2 tbsp chia seeds
splash of vanilla extract (optional)
splash of water
splash of lemon juice

Directions:
Mix all ingredients except chia seeds. Cook in a small pot over medium heat for 5-10 minutes. Stir until thickened, breaking up the fruit. Sweeten to taste. Add the chia seeds and stir for a minute. Let jam cool slightly, then transfer to heatproof, sterilized jars (I adore Bonne Maman preserves, so I always save up their jars). Cover and let cool completely. Chill in the fridge until ready to use.

IMAG1293After looking up all of those interesting ways to use chia seeds, I became fascinated with this simple recipes. Only berries and sugar and chia seeds are essential, but I had the rest in the pantry, so hey, why not? All the little chia seeds look like strawberry seeds in the photo! I thought the vanilla flavouring unnecessary, so I wouldn’t add it next time. And it wasn’t overly sweet, as most jams are — a nice change!

~Jessica

Chole

aka Chana masala. Adapted from Padma Lakshmi, a repeat from an earlier recipe.

2 onions, quartered
1 bell pepper, cored, seeded, and chopped (I used red)
6 large firm, ripe tomatoes
2 tablespoons chopped ginger
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon Garam Masala
1/2 teaspoon red chili powder, or to taste
Salt, to taste
2 (15-ounce) cans chick peas or garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
2 to 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, or to taste
1 to 2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro, or to taste

Chop finely the onions, bell pepper, tomatoes and ginger root. In a pot set over medium heat, warm the (I used coconut) oil until hot. Add the onions and ginger and cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant. Add the tomatoes and peppers and cook for 20 minutes. Add the Garam Masala and chili powder and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 more minutes. Add the salt and chick peas and cook, stirring, until heated through. Stir in the lemon juice and cilantro. Serve the curry over rice.

~Jessica

P.S. I also threw in some green and yellow squash for extra vegetables, and we threw in a dollop of peanut butter for added creaminess!

Pumpkin pie

img_0342Adapted from Simply Recipes

1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
pinch of salt
pinch of cinnamon
pinch of ginger
pinch of nutmeg
pinch of ground cloves (we ground with mortar & pestle)
pinch of ground cardamon (we didn’t have)
lemon zest from 1/2 a lemon
2 eggs plus the yolk of a third egg
2 cups of canned pumpkin purée
1 can of evaporated milk
1 good pie crust

Preheat your oven to 425°F. Mix dry ingredients (sugar & spice) and zest. Beat eggs. Mix wet ingredients (pumpkin and dairy). Pour filling into pie shell. Bake at 425°F for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, lower the temperature to 350°F. Bake for 45-55 minutes more, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for two hours. Serve.

~Jessica

Brussels sprouts in brown butter sauce

img_0345Adapted from smitten kitchen

Salt
200 g brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
50 g unsalted butter
3 shallots, very thinly sliced
3 spoonfuls of flour
500 mL hot chicken stock
2 spoonfuls of lemon juice
Ground black pepper
pinch of nutmeg
10 roasted, peeled chestnuts, halved if large (we didn’t have this time)

Boil sprouts in salted water for 10 minutes. Drain and rinse cold. Saute shallots in butter in saucepan until fragrant, over medium heat. Set aside strained shallots and brown the butter. Whisk in flour. Whisk in stock. Cook until sauce is thickened. Add lemon juice, salt, black pepper, nutmeg. Add chestnuts and brussels sprouts. Scatter shallots on top and bake at 225 deg C for 15 minutes. Serve.

(Optional: we fried up a little bacon, minced into the dish.)

~Jessica

Roast chicken & giblet gravy

img_0343Adapted from Ina Garten

7 lb. roasting chicken
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 large bunch fresh thyme, plus 20 sprigs
1 lemon, halved
1 head garlic, cut in half crosswise
1/4 stick butter, melted
1 large yellow onion, thickly sliced
4 carrots cut into 2-inch chunks
1 bulb of fennel, tops removed, and cut into wedges
Olive oil

For the chicken: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Set aside the chicken giblets. Rinse the chicken inside and out. Remove any excess fat and leftover pinfeathers and pat the outside dry. Liberally season the inside of the chicken with salt, pepper, and herbs. Stuff the cavity with the bunch of thyme/rosemary, both halves of lemon/orange, and all the garlic. Stuff butter under the skin of the chicken. Cover the wing tips with foil. Place the onions, carrots, and fennel in a roasting pan (we didn’t have fennel, but added celery and potatoes). Toss with salt, pepper, 20 sprigs of thyme, and olive oil. Spread around the bottom of the roasting pan and place the chicken on top. Roast the chicken for 1 1/2 hours, or until the juices run clear when you cut between a leg and thigh. Remove chicken from oven, cover with aluminum foil and let rest for 20 minutes. Serve.

img_0346Adapted from Alton Brown

chicken giblets, etc.
onions, carrots, celery, rosemary, thyme, bay leaf } for giblet stock
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon potato starch (I’d use cornstarch)
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1 teaspoon fresh sage, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme, finely chopped
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the giblet stock: Heat the oil in a pot over medium heat until it shimmers. Add the neck and backbone and saute 5-6 minutes or until browned. Add the giblets, onion, carrot, celery and kosher salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened, 4-5 minutes. Pour in 2 cups of water and add the thyme, rosemary, bay leaf and black peppercorns. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Uncover, reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 1/2 hours or until the stock reduces by half. Strain the stock. Discard all but giblets (chop and set aside). Combine some of the cooled stock with flour and starch, and add this back to the stock, whisking constantly, raising the heat and boiling for 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat, and whisk until desired consistency achieved. Salt and pepper to taste. Add the chopped giblets and stir to combine.

~Jessica

Mixed berry cheesecake galette

I’ve previously tried smitten kitchen’s recipe but wanted to attempt it a second time, with actual cream cheese. I forgot the sugar and pistachios to finish, again, but this one tasted like real cheesecake! I used the berry instructions from her other recipe. Sugar-nut topping for sure next time 😉

Pâte Brisée (pastry dough)
400 g mixed berries, frozen
100 g honey
1/2 lemon, juice
1 spoon cornstarch

150 g cream cheese + 250 g mascarpone, softened
4 spoonfuls of sugar
3 eggs plus 1 egg white (save the yolk)
lemon zest (I forgot this)
vanilla extract (didn’t have this time)
pinch of salt

1 egg yolk, beaten
1/2 teaspoon water
turbinado or coarse sugar for sprinkling
1 spoon chopped pistachios

Add honey, lemon, corn starch to berries in a medium bowl. Beat cream cheese, mascarpone, eggs, lemon, vanilla, sugar, salt in a larger bowl. Butter baking dish. Lay out dough. Pour in cream mixture. Pour in berry mixture. Bake in oven at 175 deg C for 35 minutes. Cool. Refrigerate. Serve.

Next time, I’ll make the other Berry galette, but as a handpie with ricotta!

imag0206

~Jessica