Month: August 2010

Butternut Squash Agnolotti with Pancetta, Toasted Breadcrumbs, Parmesan, and Beurre Monte, Part Three: Sauce and Serving

Ahh… the finish line.  The first bite.  Experiencing the combination of textures and tastes: smooth & crunchy; sweet & salty.  Everything in one bite.  Total bliss.  Total joy in knowing that it all turned out–rejoice in your accomplishment!  Now, the final step in making butternut squash agnolotti. After making the fresh pasta, the filling, and composing the finished agnolotti, it’s time to bring it all together by making the sauce and plating.  This part probably takes only 20 minutes–so make sure you save this to just before serving.  Fill a pot with well salted water; cover and bring to a boil.  Meanwhile, start dicing the pancetta, thinly slicing scallions or chives, and chopping garlic into big chunks. Add the pancetta and garlic chunks to a COLD large pan.  Place over medium-low heat.  Once the pancetta and garlic are browned, discard the garlic.  Add the pancetta and pancetta fat to a ramekin and set aside.  Lower the pan heat to low. When the water comes to a boil, drop the fresh (or frozen) agnolotti into the …

Butternut Squash Agnolotti with Pancetta, Toasted Breadcrumbs, Parmesan, and Beurre Monte, Part Two: Filling & Stuffing

This post serves as part two of three posts on how to make Butternut Squash Agnolotti with Pancetta, Toasted Breadcrumbs, Parmesan, and Beurre Monte.  To make the filling for the agnolotti, start by baking one butternut squash.  If you find one already cubed, awesome–that will work just fine.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt and white pepper.  Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of light brown sugar.  Bake until the squash is tender and you can easily pierce with a fork.  Cool at room temperature. Once cooled, add the butternut squash flesh (no skin!) to a food processor.  Blend until smooth.  Add the ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese, and maple syrup (the real stuff, please.)  The result with be super smooth and creamy with a bright orange color. To fill the agnolotti, fill a pastry bag with the butternut squash/cheese mixture.  Or you can fill a large (gallon-size) Ziploc bag.  Roll down the sides to ease the process.  Twist the bag above the filling to fill the bottom of the bag–snip off the corner of …

Butternut Squash Agnolotti with Pancetta, Toasted Breadcrumbs, Parmesan, and Beurre Monte, Part One: Fresh Pasta Dough

This post serves as part one of three posts on how to make Butternut Squash Agnolotti with Pancetta, Toasted Breadcrumbs, Parmesan, and Beurre Monte.  I am a pasta junkie, especially fresh pasta.  Whenever I go to an Italian restaurant, I always ask the waitress which pastas are fresh on the menu.  Maybe it’s a pappardelle bolognese that will get my eye… or black pepper fettucini with truffles… or even a luxurious spaghetti carbonara.  What’s even more special to me is filled fresh pastas–pastas filled with rich meats or seasonal produce and almost always with cheese.  Yum yum yum.  This dish incorporates all of that and more: gorgeous butternut squash from the farmer’s market, salty and rich pancetta and parmesan, creamy ricotta, sweet and crunchy breadcrumbs, and ribbon-like silky butter sauce. Despite what cooking shows may try to make you believe, making fresh pasta does take time.  I’ve probably made it a dozen times, and while I’ve gotten faster (and less messy), it’s still a multi-hour process–and thus requires multiple posts from me to teach you …

Carrot Ginger Dressing

Ever heard of GOOP?  That’s Gwyneth Paltrow’s newsletter dedicated to food, travel, health, and more.  A few months ago, after hearing about all types of cleanses (from bottled stuff at $300 and up to multi-cleanse pills for a lot less) from friends and various magazine articles, I decided to try one myself–but I wanted something that wouldn’t make me feel completely deprived.  Clean should feel good… not like suffering.  So I fell upon the GOOP cleanse.  Paltrow had approached her doctor about a healthy cleanse, and he created this week-long menu.  I followed this cleanse for about 4 days and substituted where I needed to.  I loved the results.  The best part of the GOOP cleanse was this awesome salad dressing, which I now make frequently and use on top of salads or as a dip for crudites.  One word of warning here: the shallot and ginger in the recipe can, um, add some yuckiness to your breath–so you may want to make sure you eat it alone or that your partner enjoys it too. …

Ranch Oyster Crackers

Sure, I could buy a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos and love every chip (and crumb.)  But instead, sometimes I like to make these.  There’s no one I’ve served them to that hasn’t loved them.  With football season about to kick off and Summer starting to wind down, it’s time to start on the snack foods: the dips, the wings, the munchies–the stuff of food and TV and entertaining indoors. Feel free to mix up the seasonings here… but make sure you include the Hidden Valley ranch seasoning mix–I can’t be held accountable for the result if you don’t.  😉 Preheat oven to 200 degrees.  Start with 2 boxes of oyster crackers, vegetable oil, spices, and 1 1/2 packets of Hidden Valley ranch seasoning mix.  Here, I’ve used one packet of original and 1/2 of a packet of spicy ranch.  Mix the oil, spices, and ranch packets first.  Once well blended, add the oyster crackers. Spread the oyster crackers on a cookie sheet–you’ll probably need 2.  Bake until slightly browned and the spices and oil …

Braised Chicken with Mushrooms, Pancetta, and Almonds with Haricots Verts

I love Anne Burrell.  If I had to pick one Food Network chef I’d like to meet it would be her.  I’ve learned the most from watching her.  Some tips I’ve picked up: 1.  How to use salt during the cooking process and not as an afterthought. 2.  That black pepper’s taste doesn’t go with everything as salt does.  Think about substituting white pepper or red pepper flakes. 3.  That brown(ed) food tastes good. This recipe makes use of all of these tips.  The result is something so rich, so tender, so perfectly-seasoned.  I found myself grabbing a spoon just to take full advantage of the sauce that still lingered on my plate after devouring every bit. To get started, I added 8 skin-on chicken thighs (seasoned with salt and black pepper) to a hot dutch oven, bottom coated with a pre-heated layer of olive oil, over medium-high heat.  Anne gives a another great tip here… The thighs become easier to flip over after they’ve browned adequately–the pan “releases” them from the bottom.  If you …

Tomato Bruschetta

With all of the gorgeous tomatoes in season right now, my head has been overflowing with recipe ideas.  I could make a tomato/watermelon/feta/mint salad… I could make fresh tomato sauce… I could make juicy smoky BLTs.  The options are endless.  This time around, I chose to go quick and fast with Tomato Bruschetta.  With the ripest tomatoes, I find that this recipe requires no oil–just go by taste.  You want the seasonal tomatoes to shine–and this dish gives them center stage. Start with 2 really ripe but still firm tomatoes.  Any red kind will do: beefsteaks, heirlooms, even cherry tomatoes.  I like to buy tomatoes a little under-ripe, so that they have time to ripen on a windowsill, bruise-free.  Chop the tomatoes in 1/4-inch size cubes, but don’t worry about being exact.  Discard any mushy parts. Next, dice 1/4 of a large red onion (or half of a small-medium red onion).  You can also substitute in 2 diced shallots or even a 1/4 of a large yellow onion.  I prefer the red onion because it …