Thursday, November 14, 2019

Butternut Squash Creme Brûlée

It is that time of year again when I re-visit one of my all-time favorite fall recipes, and possibly the sweetest way to cook with butternut squash: my Butternut Squash Creme Brûlée. We all know that creme brûlées are rich deserts but this version is a low calorie recipe as it uses half and half instead of the traditional heavy cream. This does not mean that it is lacking in richness; butternut squash puree adds a velvety texture and the perfect fall flavor - I think this would become one of your favorites as well. My update this year is a little bit of coconut whipped cream and some pomegranate seeds when serving. 

Click here for the recipe. 

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Butternut Squash and Pomegranate Pilaf

Butternut Squash and Pomegranate Pilaf 
Serves about 5

3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 shallot, diced 
2 sprigs of thyme
4 leaves of sage
3 cups cubed butternut squash
2 cups basmati rice
1/2 tsp salt
3 cups water 
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds 
1/4 cup chopped parsley

1. In a large saucepan over medium high heat, cook the shallots, thyme, and sage in the oil for about three to four minutes until the shallots have softened and begin to brown. 
2. Add the butternut squash and cook until the edges have browned. Add the rice and salt, and cover with about 3 cups of water. Bring up to a simmer then cover the pot and reduce the heat. Continue to cook until all the water has been absorbed and the rice is cooked. Remove and discard the thyme and sage leaves. Fluff with a fork before serving. Serve topped with pomegranate seeds and chopped parsley. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Chetna Makan's Lemon and Turmeric Cake

Chetna Makan was a finalist on the 2014 season of the Great British Bake Off and I enjoy following her cooking on Instagram. Recently, she posted a video of this cake and, based on the combination of flavors, I had to try it. Lemon together with turmeric is not a common cake flavor but, not surprisingly, this turned out to be the  most delicious lemon cake I have ever tasted. (I'm not ashamed to say, between my husband and I, it was devoured in about 48 hours.) Having watched season 14 of the GGBO, I'm not surprised that  these flavors work - Ms Makan is the unofficial authority, in my opinion, of combining the exotic with the traditional in ways that produce delicious results. Another great aspect of this cake is it's ease of preparation: combine all ingredients, pour into a prepared pan and bake. An easy, delicious cake. You can't beat that. 

Lemon and Turmeric Cake
Adapted from Chetna Makan
Makes one 9" x 3" loaf 

3/4 cup butter, room temperature 
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
3/4 cup self rising flour 
1 tsp baking powder 
1 tsp turmeric 
zest and juice of one lemon

1. Set the oven to 350 degree F. Grease and line a 9" x 3" loaf pan. 
2. Mix all the ingredients until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Pour into the prepared loaf pan and bake for about 45 to 50 minutes until a toothpick test comes out clean. 
3. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes before inverted and glazing. Pour into the glaze while the cake is still warm. 

For the glaze:
1/2 cup icing sugar
2 tbsp lemon juice 
2 -3 drops of yellow food coloring 

Combine all ingredients until smooth. 

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Stuffed Pumpkin with Shrimp and Cheesy Grits

This month, it is all about pumpkins at our house. My boys are spending many an evening and the past couple weekends helping me carve or create decorative, painted pumpkins for our fall-themed front porch. We may have gone overboard with the number of pumpkins out there already - they just love this part of fall. And I love watching them embrace the change of the seasons, and everything that it entails. The slighty cooler temperatures, the beautiful colors of the craning leaves, and of course, all the flavors and ingredients of the season.

This time of year, I love to incorporate pumpkin in our dinner plans. Stuffed pumpkins, admittedly, require a little bit of preparation but are a show stopper at the dinner table.  For this recipe, I used  pie pumpkin but acorn squash and kabocha squash can be substituted here. To serve, simple cut in half from the top down. Expect a little spillage, the filling is grits after all.

Stuffed Pumpkin with Shrimp and Grits
Serves two

For the pumpkin:
1 small pie pumpkin
1 tbsp vegetable oil
salt and pepper

For the Shrimp and Grits:
2 cups of water
1/2 cup stone ground polenta grits
salt and pepper
2 tbsp butter
1 cup grated cheese (cheddar, gruyere or smoked gouda re all good choices here)
1/2 lb peeled and deveined shrimp
1 garlic clove, finely minced
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp cumin
salt and pepper
2 tbsp vegetable oil

To prepare the pumpkin: 
Using a damp paper towel, wipe the pumpkin clean. Cut the top off in about two inch around  the stalk. Discard the top. Then scoop out the guts (seeds and stringy bits.)  Once all of the guts have been removed, brush the interior with the vegetable oil and season with salt and pepper. Place upside down on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees F for 30 to 40 minutes until fork tender. Remove from the oven, and allow to cool slightly before filling. 

To Prepare the Shrimp and Grits: 
Bring the water to a boil and add the grits, salt and pepper. Cook for about 15 to 20 minutes until all of the liquid has been absorbed. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter and cheese. Set aside while you prepare the shrimp. 

Combine the shrimp, garlic, lemon juice, paprika, cumin, salt and pepper.  Heat the vegetable oil over medium heat and cook the shrimp for about two to three minutes on each side. Try not to over cook as the shrimp will continue to cook in the oven. 

To assemble:
Gently flip the pumpkin right side up. Spoon the prepared grits into the pumpkin, stopping about an inch or two below the top, then layer the cooked shrimp on top. Return to the 350 degree F oven and bake for an other 15 minutes. Serve warm. 

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

This cake has two cups of zucchini nicely hidden in its chocolatey interior. But, please, do not tell that to my four year old. He has devoured may a slice without the slightest idea that his mummy is deceiving him. Obviously, this deception is for his own good - like many four year olds, it is a herculean task to get any sort of vegetables in his diet. Therefore, his mummy will continue to make zucchini chocolate cakes, I mean plain old chocolate cakes, as long as necessary. Not that I mind because this is an absolute cinch to make; simply a matter of adding a mixture of wet ingredients to a mixture of dry ingredients and popping it in the oven. Possibly the hardest part is the one hour it takes to bake plus the few minutes of cooling.

Chocolate Zucchini Cake 
Makes  one 9" x 3" cake

1 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup white whole wheat flour*
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 salt
2 eggs
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups grated zucchini **

For the glaze
1/2 cup whipping cream
4 oz  semi-sweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat over to 350 degrees F, and spray a 9 x 3 inch loaf pan with cooking spray.
2. Combine the flours, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Set aside.
3. In another bowl, combine the eggs, vegetable oil, sugar, and vanilla. Mix in the zucchini followed by the dry ingredients.
4. Pour into the prepared loaf pan and bake for about 50 to 60, until a cake tester comes out clean.  Cool thoroughly before glazing.

For the glaze:
Add the cream and chocolate chips to a double boiler. Stir until the chocolate chips have melted and a smooth glaze has formed.

* You can, by all means, use all purpose flour here. I like to substitute a little bit of whole wheat ever I can simply to bump up the fiber content of many of my baked treats, another little trick my four year old know soothing about.
**When measuring out the zucchini, it is important not to tightly pack the measuring cup, as this can result in too much moisture and ultimately your cake batter might over flow in the oven.  I would recommend placing your loaf pan unto a baking sheet to avoid having to do unnecessary clean up.