Archive for November 2014


Fig Cranberry Sauce & Cranberry Sauce with Port and Dried Figs

November 26th, 2014 — 6:25am

DSC05259I’m on cranberry sauce duty for Thanksgiving. I’ve never actually made cranberry sauce before, so it was an all-new experience. I chose a recipe for cranberry sauce with port and dried figs, which I meant to double, but then realized I didn’t have enough ruby Port for two batches. So then I chose a different, but similar, recipe for the second batch—fig cranberry sauce. Options are good. Both have very interesting flavor profiles—the first from Port, balsamic vinegar, rosemary and black pepper, and the second from bourbon whiskey, apple cider vinegar, cinnamon sticks, star anise and ginger. What I like about cranberry sauce is that you can make it in advance (most recipes say up to a week), and that the flavors actually improve with time. I made one of my sauces on Monday and the other yesterday. Both have thickened up since, and I’ve enjoyed sampling each to see how the flavors meld and change with each passing day. Someday, I’d love to host Thanksgiving. But in the meantime, experimenting with one particular dish is fun, too.

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Iron Chef Pistachio Dinner

November 24th, 2014 — 9:32am

From left to right, top to bottom: Swiss chard tart with pistachios; sauteed Brussels sprouts with lemon and pistachios; roasted carrots and purple potatoes with arugula pistachio pesto; yogurt parfait with granola and pistachios; pistachio ice cream; chocolate chip pistachio cookies; pistachio pudding cake (for Matt’s 35th birthday!), chocolate chip pistachio cookies; slice of pistachio pudding cake

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Delicata Squash & Black Bean Enchiladas

November 20th, 2014 — 5:15am

DSC05182Enchiladas always seems like a good dish to make this time of year. I had an extra delicata squash on hand that I wanted to use, so when I came across this recipe, it seemed like a great option. I wasn’t fully prepared to make the dish and didn’t have Ancho chile powder or creme fraiche on hand, but I substituted with chili powder and sour cream, and I think the enchiladas still turned out great. It’s a relatively quick and easy meal, great for a weeknight dinner.

Delicata Squash and Black Bean Enchiladas (slightly adapted from A Cozy Kitchen; makes 3-4 servings)

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large shallot, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons Ancho chile powder (I used chili powder)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 delicata squash, seeds discarded and diced
Juice from 1 lime
2 tablespoons water
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
3/4 cup canned black beans
6 to 8 corn or flour tortillas
1 cup red enchilada sauce
1 cup shredded cheese
1/4 cup creme fraiche (I used sour cream)
Juice from 1/2 lime
1/2 avocado, cut into a small dice for garnish
Handful of chopped cilantro leaves, for garnish

Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the shallot and cook for about two minutes. Add the diced garlic, Ancho chile pepper, salt, ground cumin, diced delicata squash, juice from one lime and water. Stir. Cover the skillet and cook for about 10-15 minutes, or until the squash can be easily pierced with a knife, adding additional water when needed. Once the squash is cooked through, stir in the diced bell pepper and black beans.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. If your tortillas don’t roll up easily, you can wrap them in a damp paper towel and microwave for about 30 seconds. Add a few tablespoons of enchilada sauce to the bottom of a 13 x 9-inch baking dish. Add 2-3 tablespoons of the squash mixture to each tortilla, roll up, and place seam side down in the pan. Add as many rolled up tortillas that will fit in the dish, about 8. Pour the remaining enchilada sauce over the tortillas and top with cheese. Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the sauce is bubbly.

While the enchiladas are baking, make the lime creme craiche sauce. In a small bowl, mix together the creme fraiche, lime juice and a few pinches of salt. Once the enchiladas are finished cooking, top with the lime creme fraiche, diced avocado and chopped cilantro leaves.

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Slow Food UW Cafe Lunch – 11/19

November 19th, 2014 — 12:27pm

DSC05232Today’s Slow Food UW Cafe Lunch focused on kimchi, miso and pho. I love kimchi, so I was especially excited for this week’s meal. The menu included a kimchi grilled cheese sandwich, as well as a pulled pork and kimchi sandwich, both served on homemade wheat sourdough. The sides were broccoli-mushroom stir fry and a shaved vegetables salad with ginger miso dressing. Vegetarian pho was also on the menu. I chose the grilled cheese, the broccoli-mushroom stir fry and the vegetarian pho. The sandwich was good—the bread was the standout. The kimchi tasted more like coleslaw, and the sandwich could have used a bit more cheese—the flavor and texture were barely detectable under the thick slices of bread and generous portion of kimchi. The soup was good—I liked all of the chopped veggies, but the broth was light on flavor. Surprisingly, my favorite part of the meal was the broccoli-mushroom stir fry. I don’t much like broccoli, but it’s one of those foods I know is good for me, so I try to eat it occasionally. I especially liked the dressing and the mushrooms—which made the broccoli taste great, too.

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Pumpkin Spice Biscotti

November 14th, 2014 — 11:50am

DSC05178It’s been a while since I’ve made biscotti, but a few years ago I was on quite the kick, trying my hand at pumpkin and hazelnut biscotti, oatmeal raisin biscotti, pistachio cherry biscotti, and hazelnut cinnamon chip biscotti. I really like biscotti because they’re subtly sweet, and great dunkers for coffee. And clearly the flavor possibilities are endless. This time I tried pumpkin spice biscotti, using a recipe I found on PBS’s Fresh Tastes blog. I loved the addition of pumpkin seeds, and it was a great way to use my last half cup of homemade pumpkin puree. These are a wonderful fall treat, especially with your morning cup of coffee.

Pumpkin Spice Biscotti (from Fresh Tastes; makes 13 biscotti cookies)

2 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
1/2 cup white granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1/2 cup of pumpkin puree
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon Demerara sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, white sugar, brown sugar, pumpkin seeds, baking powder, pumpkin spice and salt.

In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, pumpkin puree and vanilla extract. Add the pumpkin mixture to the dry ingredients and stir to incorporate. Flour your hands and knead the dough into a ball. Transfer the dough to the baking sheet and shape into a rectangle that measures 12 1/2-inches long by 4 1/2 inches wide. Brush the top of the biscotti with melted butter and sprinkle the Demerara sugar on top.

Bake for 24 minutes until the center is firm and the edges are golden brown. Cool for 10 minutes. Set the oven to 300 degrees. Using a serrated knife, cut the rectangle into one-inch biscotti slices. Set the biscotti on their side and bake for 10 minutes, then flip onto the other side and cook for 10 additional minutes.

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Slow Food UW Cafe Lunch – 11/12

November 12th, 2014 — 11:48am

DSC05199Today’s Slow Food UW Cafe lunch menu focused on comfort foods. I can think of no better menu theme during a week that has seen temperatures in Madison plummet from 50 to the mid-20’s (not to mention this afternoon’s snow flurries). We all need as much comfort as we can get right now. Thankfully, there was plenty of it on the menu—sloppy joe’s, mac-n-cheese, homefries, soup and cake.

I chose the lentil sloppy joe with cabbage slaw on light wheat sourdough, the mac and cheese, and the sweet potato cake with maple frosting ($8.50). I had an especially hard time choosing between the sides—which were mac and cheese, and salt and vinegar homefries. In the end, I’m glad I opted for the mac and cheese. It was made with RP’s pasta, had wonderful flavor and bread crumb topping, and included small pieces of roasted squash (and maybe parsnips?). I tried my friend’s salt and vinegar homefries—and we agreed that they just seemed to be missing the mark on the “vinegar” side of things. I thought the sandwich was okay—the bread was fresh and airy, but the rest of it wasn’t doing much for me—though admittedly, I’m not a big sloppy joe fan. It almost tasted a little too vinegar-y—perhaps from the slaw. The cake was good, but not great. The ends were a little stale or overcooked—otherwise, the cake had nice flavor and just the right amount of maple frosting.

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Roasted Butternut Squash and Caramelized Onion Tart

November 10th, 2014 — 12:09pm

DSC05089I was inspired to make this tart when I read about all of the amazing pies, tarts and quiches that were featured at this year’s Pie Palooza, a fundraiser for REAP Food Group, a local organization that “connects producers, consumers, businesses, and organizations to grow a healthful, just, and sustainable local food system in Southern Wisconsin.” There was everything from roasted butternut squash, wild rice, swiss chard, and Gruyére quiche to hickory nut bourbon caramel pie. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to attend the event, but it still inspired me to want to bake a pie and experiment with fall flavors.

First, I made Deb Perelman’s Deepest Dish Apple Pie from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook. It was amazing—enough pie to feed an army, or in our case, pie every day for a week for two. Next, I tried my hand at creating my own version of a butternut squash, wild rice, swiss chard and Gruyére quiche. It was okay, but nothing to write home about. For my final attempt, I decided to stick with a solid recipe that was featured in Gourmet magazine in the fall of 1998. I figured when 97% of reviewers indicated that they would make the tart again, that had to be a good sign. Turns out that was my experience as well. I loved this roasted butternut and caramelized onion tart—the flavors from the butternut squash, onion, grated cheeses and fresh herbs are wonderful together. The fine fresh bread crumbs on top are a fantastic addition. Paired with sides of sautéed Swiss chard and wild rice, it made for a delicious fall dinner. And with that, I think I’ve taken care of my urge to make tarts, pies and quiches—at least until Thanksgiving.

Roasted Butternut Squash and Caramelized Onion Tart (from Gourmet, November 1998; serves 6-8)

pastry dough
pie weights or raw rice for weighting shell
1 small butternut squash (about 1 pound)
1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil plus about 2 teaspoons for brushing squash
1 small onion
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 whole large egg
1/2 large egg yolk (1/2 tablespoon)
1/3 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup grated Italian Fontina cheese (about 2 1/2 ounces)
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan (about 1 ounce)
1/4 cup crumbled mild soft goat cheese (about 1 ounce)
1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh herbs such as rosemary, thyme, and marjoram leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup fine fresh bread crumbs

On a lightly floured surface roll out dough into a 12-inch round (about 1/8 inch thick). Fit dough into an 11-inch tart pan with a removable fluted rim. Freeze shell 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Line shell with foil and fill with pie weights or raw rice. Bake shell in middle of oven until edge is pale golden, about 20 minutes. Carefully remove foil and weights or rice and bake shell 10 minutes more, or until bottom is golden. Leave oven on. Cool shell in pan on a rack.

Halve squash and scoop out seeds. Lightly brush each cut side with about 1 teaspoon oil and on a baking sheet roast squash, cut sides down, in middle of oven 40 minutes, or until soft.

While squash is roasting, thinly slice onion and in a heavy skillet cook in 1/2 tablespoon butter and remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons oil over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden brown, about 20 minutes.

Cool squash and scoop out flesh. In a food processor purée squash. Add whole egg, egg yolk, and cream and blend well. Transfer mixture to a large bowl and stir in cheeses, herbs, onion, salt, and pepper to taste. Pour filling into shell, smoothing top.

In a small skillet melt remaining tablespoon butter and stir in bread crumbs until combined well. Sprinkle bread crumb mixture evenly over filling. Bake tart in middle of oven 40 minutes, or until filling is set. Cool tart in pan on rack 10 minutes and carefully remove rim.

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Slow Food UW Chilly Chili 5k

November 7th, 2014 — 7:50am

DSC05160Last night I participated in Slow Food UW’s Chilly Chili Run. It was a fundraising event for Slow Food UW—an organization I’m always more than happy to support. I was excited to be part of the inaugural event, especially because it combined two of my favorite things—running and chili.

My friend Claire also signed up, and together we toed the start line for the 5k. There were probably less than 30 participants, so it was easily one of the smallest races I’ve ever done. Claire and I both liked the laid back vibe of the race—the planning team didn’t over-think things or make it too serious. Just the lakeshore path, a stop watch, a fun t-shirt and a great post-race meal. The route followed the lakeshore path from North Charter to the start of picnic point and back. It was dark by the time the race started shortly after 5 p.m. I chuckled when one of the race organizers admitted that they hadn’t factored in daylight saving time back in the initial planning stages of the event. Most of the racers didn’t have lights, but Claire and I were prepared—Claire, with her heavy duty blinking/glowing vest and me, with my trusty head lamp. I’m sure we could be seen a mile away! Claire set a great pace—we were working hard, but still able to carry on a conversation. About 27 minutes later, we crossed the finish line.

Shortly after our finish, we met up with our friends Aronne and Kate, who walked the route, and together, we all headed to the Crossing, where dinner was eventually served. The chili had great flavor (though the beans were slightly undercooked), but the best part of the meal was the cornbread, which was wonderfully moist and delicious. The organizers invited everyone back for seconds, and we happily obliged.

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Pumpkin Spice Smoothie

November 6th, 2014 — 9:27am

DSC05144I was trying to determine what to do with the leftover fresh pumpkin puree I had on hand from over the weekend, when I came across this recipe. I’d never tried a pumpkin spice smoothie before, and this one sounded heavenly—a mix of pumpkin puree, a banana, a bit of maple syrup, almond milk, and a mix of fall spices. The resulting smoothie was creamy with warm, fall flavors. I could have easily enjoyed the whole batch myself, but I shared. Next time, maybe not. This smoothie is perfect for breakfast, a snack, dessert, really anytime of the day. And it’s so easy.

Pumpkin Spice Smoothie (from Skinny Ms; serves 2)

½ cup pumpkin puree, recipe for fresh Pumpkin Puree
1 frozen banana
1 cup almond milk, optional soy, lite coconut or skim milk
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup, more or less to taste
¼ tsp vanilla
¼ tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp allspice
½ cup ice

Puree all ingredients in a blender until smooth.

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Slow Food UW Cafe Lunch – 11/5

November 5th, 2014 — 12:10pm

DSC05142This week’s Slow Food UW Cafe lunch menu focused on beets, and was introduced online with a variety of beet puns—which definitely brought me back to our Iron Chef Beets Dinner.

From the menu options, I chose the roasted beet sandwich with chevre and spinach on sprouted rye sourdough; the maple-roasted carrots; and for dessert, the baked apples with salted caramel sauce.

This was one of my favorite cafe meals so far this semester. The sandwich was excellent—from the fresh, spongy homemade sourdough to the flavor pop of chevre under layers of sliced roasted beets. The best part of the meal, though, was the maple-roasted carrots served with a great tasting tangy sauce that remained a mystery to everyone at my table. None of us could figure out the ingredients. The baked apples with salted caramel sauce and nuts were a great end to the meal—and a perfect way to celebrate fall flavors.

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