November 20, 2012

Fall Panzanella

I'll be honest with you, I was in the grocery store with a big loaf of crusty bread in my hand thinking "What's the big deal...  I'll just buy it instead of making it", but I JUST. COULDN'T. DO. IT.  
So, I put that gorgeous loaf of bread back amongst it's friends and headed home to start the focaccia. 

I pulled out the stand mixer, made my dough, let it rise...  Placed it ever so lovingly on my sheet pan to puff up again before sliding it in the oven...  And yet, something was amiss.  It just didn't look quite right, but I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best.  Once it was time for the bread to come out of the sauna, I realized I had a bit of a problem.

Not really sure how I screwed it up, but it was more of a focaccia pancake.  It didn't rise properly and looked rather pathetic.  So I salvaged what I could, not wanting to waste everything and started over.  
Truth be told, the Ohio State game was on and I was a tad distracted...  There, I've said it.  I wasn't paying attention to my work,  I was watching football. 
That's what happened.

You know as I was remaking the focaccia, I was thinking "Why didn't I just buy the bread?!"...
In the end, I'm glad I didn't.  Sometimes taking the long road has it troubles but at the end of the day the effort is usually worth it.

So when all is said and done and you are staring at a fridge full of Thanksgiving leftovers, give new life to the roasted veggies hanging around.  It's a great way to use up the ones that always get passed over for everyone's favorite, the mashed potatoes.

Fall Panzanella
1 red onion, diced
1 gala apple, cored and diced
1 granny smith apple, cored and diced
3 cups diced butternut squash, roasted
2 cups red or rainbow swiss chard, finely sliced
5 - 6 cups focaccia or day old crusty bread, cut into 1" cubes
1/2 cup dried cranberries
2 1/2 cups Brussels sprouts, roasted
a few tablespoons olive oil for tossing with veggies/bread

2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp sherry vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp honey
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp fresh thyme, leaves only

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  If using store bought crusty bread, toss in a little olive oil before toasting bread.  Bake until golden brown and crunchy, about 12 - 15 minutes.

Toss apples and onion in a few tbsp oil, season with salt and pepper and roast for approximately 20 minutes until soft and caramelized.

While bread, onions and apples are in the oven, make vinaigrette in a large bowl and set aside. 
When focaccia is toasted, let it cool slightly then toss in vinaigrette.  Add roasted vegetables, cranberries, apples and swiss chard.  Toss to combine and coat in vinaigrette.
Serve immediately.

November 17, 2012


Well friends, just because Halloween is behind us don't think you have no use for pumpkin patches until next year.  Many of them, like this one, grow amazing varieties of squash. 
Everyone knows how I feel about supporting local farmers and buying food that was locally grown whenever possible, so I will refrain from going on and on about it today... but, just in case you don't:
Please support local farms!

Scout out something you've never had before and try it, although I wouldn't necessarily suggest doing so on a day when you are cooking for a house full of people...  
There are a few days left until Thanksgiving and now would be the perfect time to pick up a few of your favorites.  Pumpkin for pies, squash for dinner, gourds for decoration...

This lovely place is in Ohio, so all my friends in the NW corner of the Buckeye state should check it out!  They also make fresh doughnuts on site, served to you warm and sprinkled with cinnamon sugar...

Wandering around a place like this is a great way to spend a few hours, especially if all things food related enthrall you like they do me.  They have pristine pumpkins and superb squash.  The little hubbard I roasted last week came from this farm as did a few other varieties.  Every single one was fantastic.

Get out there and enjoy the crisp fall air, warm apple cider in hand.  Have a doughnut while you're there, they are worth every calorie...

(I was not compensated in any way by Fleitz, just a fan of the farm...)

November 10, 2012

(Old Mother) Hubbard Squash

The past two weeks have been a weather nightmare here and we are all in need of a little comfort.  For me, that usually comes in the form of something warm from the oven.   This particular time, the oven also served as  heat for my apartment.  I had purchased a perfect little Hubbard squash and since I had lost my heat it seemed an opportune time to do something with it.

If you have never had Hubbard squash before, you are in for a treat. The flesh is slightly drier than acorn or butternut and it is a bit earthier in flavor. The bluish-gray color and deep orange flesh is beautiful and makes for a striking contrast.

Any kind of roasted squash is, for me, the perfect fall food and if you are the type that likes to change up for your holiday menu this would be a great addition to the meal.  As I have professed before on this very blog, I am NOT the type to change my menu, but adding to it is absolutely permissible. 

So while we are all getting back on track here in NYC and for my friends just getting back into their homes,  we should offer a bit of comfort to those who need it.  Whether it be as simple as a hug, a warm bed or a hot meal and perhaps it may come in the form of a little Hubbard squash.

Stuffed Hubbard Squash
  • 1 Hubbard Squash, halved and cleaned
  • 1 cup wild & long grain rice blend
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 onion, small dice
  • 2 handfuls baby kale
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Cut off a small piece from the outside of the squash so you will have a flat surface to prevent it from rolling over once you stuff it with the filling.   Lightly oil inside of squash and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Place squash on lightly oiled sheet pan, cut side down (inside), and roast in oven for 30 - 40 minutes.
While squash is in oven, make the filling...

Heat olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat, add onion and cook until translucent.  Add kale and saute for 2 minutes then add rice and stir to coat.  Let rice toast for a few minutes, add golden raisins, give it a quick stir and add chicken stock, salt & pepper, stir again and cover.

Let the filling simmer for about 20 minutes or until rice is cooked then remove from heat.
Remove squash from oven and carefully turn over. Turn oven down to 325 degrees. Fill each half, dot each with a little butter and put back in the oven for another 20 minutes.

Share the other half with a friend.


November 02, 2012

Salty, Crunchy... Healthy?!

As we are all abundantly aware, the Northeast suffered a major storm this week.  I am one of the lucky ones that was relatively unaffected in comparison to so many others.   While things are still getting settled, I humbly offer a quick snack today.

It's what I had on hand and  about making the most of what I have until the pantry is fully stocked again.  These chips are incredibly fast, require minimal effort and you don't have to feel the least bit guilty if you finish the entire plate by yourself.


Kale Chips
  • 5 oz baby kale
  • 2 tbsp oil  (I used lemon-infused olive oil)
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt

Preheat oven to 275 degrees.
Toss baby kale with oil and salt.  Lay on parchment lined baking sheet and spread out evenly.
Bake for 20 minutes or until crispy, giving it a good shake halfway through.