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Photo Credit: Scott Figatner 

Originally published in The GW Hatchet

A fall-themed potluck is always fulfilling. Perhaps, it’s the anticipation of brisk air, amber leaves, cups of tea and pajama pants. Most of all, it’s the beauty of preparing a meal with your friends, eating and drinking until you wonder why your jeans always shrink so erratically. I made pappardelle, thick pasta ribbons, with a rich sauce of butternut squash and sage, topped with dollops of ricotta cheese and candied pecans. Warm and hearty, it’s the perfect dish to fuel yourself during the fall… or at the very least until dessert.

 

Ingredients: 

  • 1 medium-size butternut squash
  • Olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 3-4 tablespoons butter
  • Sage leaves, chopped
  • Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
  • Apple juice or water
  • Honey
  • Pappardelle pasta
  • Pecans
  • Sugar
  • Ricotta cheese

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 400°

2. Peel the squash, cut it in half and remove the pulp and seeds with a spoon. Wash and dry the seeds and reserve. Chop the squash into 1-inch pieces. Coat lightly in olive oil, sprinkle with salt and spread evenly on a foil-lined baking sheet. Cook for 20-30 minutes, turning once, or until fork tender.

3. In a blender or food processor, purée the squash with a drizzle of olive oil until smooth. In a pan, sauté the garlic and shallots in butter and add the purée. Add the sage, the parmesan cheese and salt, thinning it out to the desired consistency with either apple juice or water. Add a drizzle of honey until it’s just a tad sweet.

4. Put a liberally-salted pot of water up to boil. Lightly coat the seeds with olive oil and sprinkle generously with salt. Roast until browned and audibly crunchy (cooks excuse to taste one).

5. When the water is boiling, add the pasta and cook for 6-8 minutes or until al dente. Strain and add to the sauce, readjusting sauce consistency.

6. For the candied pecans, simply pan cook them with butter, salt and loads of sugar. They do burn easily. Cool and reserve outside the pan.

7. Top the pasta with the candied pecans, toasted squash seeds, clumps of ricotta cheese and more sage.

 

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Stop mashing, baking and frying your potatoes and experiment with a classic Spanish tapa, patatas alioli. Spaniards drool over these tender potatoes covered in a smooth and rich mayo-like sauce made by emulsifying garlic and olive oil. Eggs give it extra body and a richness which, when cut by a bit of acid, is delicious. Olive oil, garlic and potatoes just might be Spain’s culinary holy trinity. Make them once and you’ll be eating them religiously.

Ingredients:

  •  6-7 small Potatoes
  • 2 eggs
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, minced (how much do you like garlic)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of vinegar or lemon
  • Olive oil
  • Fresh parsley, chopped

1. Fill a large pot with cold water and bring it to a boil with the skin-on potatoes. Lower the heat enough to stop the boiling and cook until fork tender, approximately 20 minutes.

2. While they cook, prepare the sauce. In a bowl using a whisk, electric hand mixer or immersion blender, mix the eggs, garlic, salt and the vinegar or lemon. The acid serves to stabilize the emulsified sauce’s texture by preventing protein coagulation and, therefore, separation. It also cuts through the richness of the olive oil from a flavor standpoint.

3. Keep the mixer on and add a steady stream of olive oil, slowly at first, until you reach a consistency that is thinner than a store-bought mayonnaise, yet still has body.

4. Peel the potatoes with the back of a pairing knife and cut into bite-size pieces. Cool to room temperature. If you do not cool them, the potatoes will soak up too much sauce and become overly soft. If you cool them too much, they will not soak up any flavor. Mix with the alioli and garnish with the parsley.

Note: While Salmonella does not grow in acidic environments, the egg yolks in this recipe are raw, so use proper caution if it is of concern in your area.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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This is my version of a Navratan Korma, which is an Indian curry dish. Navratan means nine gems and this usually refers to the vegetables, fruits, or nuts in the curry. I cut down on the fat—which is why the color is a pale orange instead of a bright yellow—, but not the the flavor and depth of this vegetarian dish.

 

Ingredients:

  • very fresh tomatoes (enough to fill a whole sheet pan when cut)
  • olive oil or wegmans basting oil
  • 1/2 a head of cauliflower, cut into small florets
  • 3/4 of a 16  oz. can 0f coconut milk
  • 4-5 tablespoons plain, greek yogurt
  • 1 zucchini, cut into cubes
  • 1 squash, cut into cubes
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • salt, pepper, turmeric
  • a handful carrots, chopped
  • broccoli (similar amount)
  • ground coriander (few pinches)
  • garam masala (few pinches)
  • red curry powder (few pinches) It’s spicy
  • a handful of whole, unsalted cashews
  • 3 small waxy potatoes
  • 1/2 cup cream or milk (whatever fat content you like)
  • 1 cup of peas
1. Cut the tomatoes (large-bite size) and scatter, filling an entire foiled sheet pan. Roast them on 400º for about 30 minutes with olive oil and seasonings (I used a Wegmans basting oil blend). In a blender or food processor, purée.
2. Roast the cauliflower in the same manner, but only for about 15 minutes.
3. Cook the tomato sauce in a pot with the coconut milk. Add the greek yogurt and stir until homogenous.
4. Sauté the zucchini and squash in olive oil with salt, pepper, minced garlic, and two pinches of turmeric and par-cook the broccoli  and carrots however you choose. I parboiled the carrots until just cooked through and used frozen broccoli. Add all these vegetables to the pot.
5. Add the spices to the curry: turmeric, ground coriander, garam masala, and red curry powder. Salt and continue to season to taste. Add the cashews. Microwave the potatoes until fork tender and cut into bite-size pieces, adding them to the curry.
6. Add the cream or milk . You can adjust richness by adding more coconut milk, cream, or yogurt. Although I didn’t, butter would be a good addition since most recipes call for ghee. When the consistency is perfect, cover the pot, If it reduces too much, add a bit of water.
7. Add half of the peas. Serve over basmati rice (add the remaining peas to this). Garnish with fresh cilantro.

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Turtle Soup with a bit of Sherry. Tastes like beef.

Salmon with shrimp, spinach & crabmeat over risotto with dill cream sauce. Not my mamas salmon.

Crepes with a cream cheese, brandy pecan stuffing with strawberry sauce...if you like that sorta thing

Everything is set up for an Indian wedding

I forgot what this is called, but it looks pretty cool

Brie wrapped in puff pastry with a fleur-de-lis

I co-worked the shrimp and grits station at the wedding. It's no wonder why it was the favorite dish of the night.

sesame-crusted tuna hors d'oeuvre

The Court Of The Two Sisters. Boy, was this outdoor seating a find!

chicken breast served over potato mash and steamed asparagus, topped with lump crabmeat and tasso hollandaise. French has never tasted so light!

I got down with my soul at Lil' Dizzy's. I guess that's what was making those strange sounds from my stomach later. Just kidding. Sorry about the bad picture, I didn't like the meal enough to spend the time editing.

Muffalleta featured on Throwdown! with Bobby Flay. This was the half size. Half a boat! It's basically an italian sub with some olives.

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The first three wines are whites and the last five are reds. I did a little research and summarized my findings. Instead of just drinking the same wine with dinner, try to pair you wine to your food. Next time you eat, think about drinking a Sauvignon Blanc with spice-rubbed ribs as crazy as drinking orange juice with your mint ice-cream.

Sauvignon Blanc- Has an eclectic flavor profile. Flavors range from herbal to grassy to citrus. Pair with similar tasting foods. Although you may not think of food as tasting “grassy”, veggies fit this description.

Chardonnay- This wine is highly variable in flavor. It has a light, smooth, and buttery taste, so pungent things like tomatoes or steaks can overwhelm the flavor. Think buttery cheeses, tropical fruits, and cream sauces.

Riesling- This wine can hold its own with highly sweet or spiced dishes. Trout is a perfect fish pairing, but riesling is not a picky wine. From research, it seems as if very aromatic dishes will pair well with Riesling.

Pinot Noir- Try it with earthy spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove. It pairs with any red fruit and lighter red sauces.Give orang roughy tuna a try.

Syrah- Great with anything black: black currants, licorice, black pepper, black berry. Possible flavors include truffles and leather. Spend your money wisely!

Merlot- Similar to Cabernet Sauvignon. Good sauces are creamy or buttery. It is a versatile wine. Preparation include sauteed, baked, or roasted. These are heavier than poaching or steaming, but lighter than grilling and braising.

Cabernet Sauvignon- Like Merlot, but able to be paired with deeper  flavors. Wine sauces are more complex and the addition of espresso to chocolate or lavender adds complexity. try with beef stew or grilled tuna.

Zinfandel- Paired with all fruits that are “jammy”. Pair it with the strongest flavors. Anything from blackened fish to cajun salsa will work with the wine. Also, intense and aged flavors are good compliments. Try spiced or ginger desserts.

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