Roasted Delicata Squashes and Apples

DInner, Fall, Gluten free, Sides, Thanksgiving

delicata squash 2

Last year, I hosted my first Thanksgiving at our house.  It was a blast.  My grandparents were in England, and my parents stayed in Omaha.  So it was a young crowd.  My two sisters and their husbands, my nephew, and my mother-in-law, who still acts like a 20 year old (in a good way).  There was much drinking and merriment involved.  By the time the meal was over and the dishes were cleaned, I was passed out on the couch.  This is probably what I looked like-

 

Dog_Passed_Out

I believe everyone else continued into the night around a bonfire.

Of course, the merriment was fun, duh!  But what really made it memorable for me was cooking with my foodie family.  Together, we raised the bar for Thanksgiving meals.  And although I have a fondness for the traditional Thanksgiving feast, we did a little twist on tradition. There wasn’t a green bean casserole in sight.  Don’t even ask about sweet potato casserole- she wasn’t invited.

This recipe is one of those twists, and it was one of the most popular dishes of the day.  Not only is this insanely delicious, it’s perty to look at.  The delicata squash look like flowers on your plate.  So, if you’re looking for an alternative to the sweet potato casserole, look no further.  Bonus: it’s a make ahead too. Directions follow at the end of the recipe.

If you haven’t eaten delicata squash before, it’s dreamy.  You don’t have to peel it (bonus for us lazy peeps) because the skin is yummy.  It has such a gentle, delicate flavor, and I think it’s just about the perfect fall veggie.

Roasted Delicata Squash and Apples

Adapted from Martha Stewart Living

Serves 8-10

Ingredients:

  • 2 delicata squashes, around 1 1/2 pounds
  • 10 baby apples
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 6 oz. pancetta, diced (can also use bacon if you prefer)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • pepper
  • fresh thyme or rosemary

Directions:

  1. Slice the delicata squash, crosswise, into 1/2 inch wide circles.  Remove the seeds using a sharp paring knife.
  2. Slice each apple in half, removing the core with a melon baller.  (If you can’t find little baby apples, just use larger, but quarter them instead.  And you’ll probably only need 6-7 apples in that case.)
  3. Put the squash, apples, pancetta, maple syrup, olive oil, salt, and pepper onto a parchment-lined baking sheet.  Bake for 50 minutes.
  4.  Turn the squash and apples. Bake for another 15 minutes.
See how small these apples are?  So petite.

See how small these apples are? In a three-year olds hands.

 

To make this dish one-day ahead, follow directions 1-3.  Remove from the oven and let cool.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.  The next day, once the turkey is done and is resting, pop the baking sheet back in the oven and bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.

xox

delicata squash 3

Mocha Pecan Cake with Coffee Whipped Cream

Dessert, Gluten free

chocolate pecan cake sideview

I have a new crush on pecans.  Almonds, you’re like, so yesterday.  Pecans, you have stolen my heart and I will be eating you with everything, on everything, and in everything within the foreseeable future.  How have I rejected this nut for so many years?  Minus the once a year pecan pie, pecans were off my radar.  Not anymore.  Let’s have food affair together, okay pecans?pecans

 

So, you can just imagine my excitement when I came across a recipe for a flour-less chocolate pecan cake the other day.  Awww yeah!  It was destiny, and I had to make it mine, all mine.

This is a special occasion cake.  It’s not a bake-sale cake or a one-bowl cake.  It requires some luxury time in your kitchen.  Just you, some pecans, chocolate, butter, and some sultry music.  You’re going to be melting, whipping, folding, and licking (the spatula people!).  And it’s worth it.  May I suggest listening to Zou Bisou Bisou while making your cake?  Eating this cake in bed is also highly recommended. Bon appetit!

Mocha Pecan Cake with Coffee Whipped Cream

Inspired from the Chocolate and Pecan Cake from Donna Hay Magazine

Serves 10-12

Ingredients:

          The Cake

  • 12 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips or dark chocolate, chopped
  • 10 tbsp butter, chopped
  • 6 eggs, at room temperature and separated
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped, or 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup brown sugar, dark or light
  • 2 tbsp hot tap water
  • 1 heaping tsp instant espresso
  • 1 2/3 cups toasted, ground pecans*
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Coffee Whipped Cream

  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2-3 tbsp confectioners sugar, based on how sweet you want your whipped cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp instant espresso

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.  Grease a 9 inch springform pan, and line the bottom with a circle of parchment paper, traced from the bottom of the pan.
  2. Melt the chocolate and butter in a heat-proof bowl over a pot of simmering water.  When everything is melted and silky smooth, set aside and let cool slightly.
  3. In a small bowl, dissolve the instant espresso in the 2 tbsp water.
  4. In a large bowl (I mean large- I had to move everything to a larger bowl while making this cake), combine the egg yolks, vanilla seeds or vanilla extract, 1/2 cup of brown sugar, the espresso, the melted chocolate, the pecans, and the salt.
  5. In a stand mixer, or using handheld beaters, whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form.  Gradually add 1/2 cup brown sugar, and continue to beat until the egg whites are glossy and stiff (hehe).
  6. Fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture in two batches.  Use a plastic spatula to do this.  Be gentle and loving so you don’t deflate your egg whites.
  7. Pour the batter into your pan and bake for one hour.  This is where the licking (spatula) comes into play.  The top of the cake will be crispy and crackled, and the inside will be almost truffle-like. Oh yes.  Cool the cake completely while still in the pan.
  8. To make the coffee whipped cream, beat the cream, vanilla, and instant espresso.  Slowly add the confectioners sugar.  Beat until you have soft peaks.  Taste for sweetness.  Remember, the cake is going to be sweet, so you don’t necessarily want the whipped cream too sugary.

* To toast the pecans, heat your oven to 350 degrees and bake for 7 minutes.  Let the pecans cool completely before grinding.

Serve the cake with a dollop of whipped cream and a strong espresso.  Dim the lights, send the kids to bed, close your eyes, and enjoy.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA chocolate pecan cake wedge

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

xox

Pork Tenderloin with Caramelized Onions and Zingy Rice

DInner, Gluten free

Pig pig pig!  I love pig.  Fat pigs. Delicious pigs.  Mmmm.  Pig.  I must confess though, tenderloin is not my favorite part of a lovely pig.  Think about all your options- bacon, pork belly, baby back ribs, country style ribs, ham, pork chops.  And then there’s the tenderloin.  It’s temperamental. It’s begging for some added flavor because of it’s lack of yummy fat.  Overcook it and you may as well feed it to the family dog.  Pork tenderloin, you are a moody, skinny, bitch.  I usually don’t have time for it, unless it’s on sale for 50% off at the butcher shop.  Then, you’re all mine!

So, what to do with this pork tenderloin.  Flavor that sucka up!  I’m thinking Chinese five spice, oranges, soy sauce, rice vinegar, and caramelized onions.  RIght- all intense pow flavors.  And then that tenderloin is singing in your mouth instead of curses flowing out of your mouth from another tasteless, dry tenderloin.

Another fabulous thing about this recipe?  It’s a make-ahead meal and perfect for entertaining.  Just begin marinating the meat in the morning and make your caramelized onions ahead too.  Then, when it comes to party time, reheat your onions, cook your rice, and throw your tenderloin in the oven.  Serve with a nice, green side like sugar snap peas or broccoli. Impressed guests.

pork tenderloin 2

Pork Tenderloin with Caramelized Onions and Zingy Rice

Serves 4, plus some nice leftovers for lunch the next day

Ingredients:

  • 2 pork tenderloins, usually sold as one package
  • 3 oranges
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 3 1/2 tsp Chinese five spice
  • 3 onions, finely chopped
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • salt
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • 1 cup rice
  • 1/4 cilantro, finely chopped
  • zest of 1 orange

Directions:

  • In a gallon size zip-lock bag, add the juice of oranges, the soy sauce, the rice vinegar, and 2 tsp of the Chinese five spice.  Slosh together.  Add the tenderloins to the marinade and refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours, and up to 8. *
  • After the meat had marinated, preheat your oven to 500 degrees.  Remove the tenderloins from the marinade, and place on a foil-lined baking sheet.  Bake 15 minutes and then flip over and bake for another 10 minutes.  The internal temp should be around 140 degrees.  Remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes.
  • Pour your leftover marinade into a small sauce pan, and bring to a boil.  Continue to simmer until thickened, about 5 minutes. Brush onto the nicely rested tenderloins.
  • Meanwhile, in a large saute pan over medium heat, melt 3 tbsp butter.  Add the onions and a pinch of salt, and cook for 15 minutes.  If the onions begin to brown too much, turn the heat down.
  • Add 1 1/2 tsp Chinese five spice, the juice of 1/2 an orange, and the honey.  Continue to cook on low heat for 10 minutes, until everything is a lovely caramel color.

caramelized onions

  • To make the rice, bring 1 3/4 cups of water, 1 tbsp butter, and a pinch of salt to a boil.  Add the rice, reduce heat to low, cover, and cook for 15 minutes.  Remove from the heat and let rest for 5-10 minutes.  Then add the orange zest and cilantro. RIce is done.
  • To serve, put some rice on your plate.  Top with some pretty slices of tenderloin, and spoon some caramelized onions over.  Say a little thank you for delicious piggies, and enjoy.

(*Oops, did you forget to marinade the pork early?  Yeah, I do that all the time.  No worries.  Just rub your meat down (hehehe) with a tbsp olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Cook as instructed above.  Put your marinade ingredients into a saucepan and bring to a boil for 5 minutes.  Then, brush the marinade onto the tenderloins once cooked.  Problem solved.)

pork tenderloin 5

xox