Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Roast Squash

Roast squash is one of my favorite fall items, I love the sweet yummy flavor that it has. I like how versatile it is because you can use it as a side dish, a snack or like I have done here, added to a salad. Taking the skin off the squash is the hardest part of the process, make sure you have a very sharp knife or heavy duty vegetable peeler!

Roast Squash

1 Squash (Acorn or Butternut are my favorites)
Olive Oil
Brown Sugar

Cut squash in half, remove seeds and skin. Cut into 3/4 inch cubes and place on a non-stick baking pan. Drizzle with a little olive oil and then lightly sprinkle with salt and brown sugar. Bake at 400 degrees until sugar starts to caramelize and squash is just tender, about 20-30 minutes. Serve hot or let cool and use on salads or enjoy as a snack.

I made a simple salad using some mixed greens, a seared steak and a pungent blue cheese...the sweet squash and blue cheese together were to die for!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Beef Ragu with Pappardelle

I was looking through my new Sur la Table catalog a couple weeks ago and stumbled upon the "Wild Boar Ragu Kit" which would set you back $80, yikes!!! This immediately made me curious about a two things...Can I make this with beef instead (yes), and can I make this dinner more amazing for less than $80 (yes)...which led me to this recipe. Then I realized that the "kit" didn't include the fresh veggies, wine, or stock you would actually need to make this amazing dish, adding another $20+ to your meal. Normally I don't squawk at the prices of good ingredients, but I was a little shocked that the kit had so little, at such a large price (and working for Williams Sonoma Inc...I'm used to expensive foods and such).
Ok, I'll get off my soap box now and talk about the important things, like this outstanding recipe! In my attempt at serching the interweb I found many recipes that peaked my interest, but ultimately ended up doing a little of this, and a little of that to create my own "Beef Ragu with Pappardelle." I must admit that it's a time consuming recipe, but if you enjoy puttering in the kitchen on a day off; this is the perfect Fall meal. I almost fainted mid-cooking because the aroma of the dish wafting throughout the house was completely intoxicating! I hope you enjoy this as much as I did!

Beef Ragu with Pappardelle

3 Pound Beef Chuck Roast, cut into 1-inch cubes
3 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
2 Basil Leaves
2 Sprigs Fresh Rosemary
5 Sprigs Fresh Thyme
2 Sprigs Fresh Flat Leaf Parsley
2 Large Carrots, peeled & diced
2 Stalks Celery, diced
1 Onion, diced
2 Shallots, diced
1 Pound Mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1 Tablespoon Flour
4 Tablespoons Tomato Paste
1 16 Ounce Can Crushed Tomatoes
1 Bottle Cabernet Wine
1/2 Head Garlic, cloves peeled and separated
4 Cups Beef Stock
1 Pound Fresh Pappardelle, or other fresh pasta
Chopped Parsley
8 Ounces Grated Pecorino Romano Cheese
8 Ounces Pecorino Romano Cheese Curls

Heat oven to 325 degrees.

Place a large 6-8 Quart Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add oil and heat until it is almost smoking. Season beef generously with salt and pepper. Working in 2 separate batches, add beef to the hot oil cook until browned on all sides. Remove from Dutch oven and transfer to a plate and set aside, continue with next batch, remove from pan.

Place rosemary, thyme, and parsley together and tie with kitchen string, set aside. Add carrots, celery, onion, shallots, and mushrooms to Dutch oven and cook over medium high heat, stirring occasioinally, until vegetables are softened and golden, about 10 minutes. Add flour and tomato paste, and stir to combine. Add wine; stir with wooden spoon until all browned bits have been scraped from the pan. Add tomatoes, garlic, beef stock, herbs, bay leaves, and galic cloves. Return meat to the Dutch oven and bring to a simer over medium-high heat. Cover the dish and place in the oven. Cook until beef is tender, about 3 hours.

Place the Dutch oven on the stove top over medium heat and simmer until reduced by half and thickened. Using a wooden spoon press the meat against the side of the pot to break up into shredded pieces. Remove the herbs and bay leaves and turn to low.

Fill a large pot with water and cook pasta until just al-dente, add to ragu and stir with shredded romano cheese to combine. Serve in large bowls with chopped parsley and shaved romano cheese as a garnish.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Pork Loin

I personally think pork should be illegal because it is so delicious! I think I could eat it every day, especially if it came in bacon form. I decided to do a more healthy pork lunch last Sunday that was really quick and easy to make. I simply roasted a pork loin with some herbs and it was amazing. The key to really good pork loin is to not over-cook it, as it dries out very quickly once it gets overdone. Also, giving it a good rest after cooking helps drive the juices back into the meat as well. Since I was making this for lunch I wanted an easy side dish to go along side, so I made my yummy Oven Fries and an arugula salad with my House Dressing. Enjoy!

Pork Loin

3 Pound Pork Loin
Olive Oil
Herbs de Provence

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Generously salt pork loin and then cover with herbs de provence. In a large oven-proof skillet over medium high heat add enough olive oil to just coat bottom of pan. Add pork loin and sear on all sides until golden brown. Transfer the pork loin to the oven and bake for about 30-40 minutes or until internal temperature reads 145 degrees on an instant read thermometer. Remove, cover tightly with foil and let rest 10 minutes before serving (meat will continue to cook while resting).

Thursday, October 1, 2009


I love guacamole and could just sit in front of a large bowl of it and eat myself like it's Thanksgiving. Luckily I don't make it that often, so I'm not that out of control! This is a very simple recipe and you need to make this with my favorite Salsa recipe which was just recently posted. I like my guacamole a little chunky, but feel free to process the avocados as much or as little as you like. You will also notice that I left the avocado seed in my guacamole...did you know this helps it from turning brown?


4 Ripe Avocados
Roma Tomato
Juice from 1/2 fresh Lime
1/4 Cup Salsa
1/2 Teaspoon Garlic Salt
1/2 Teaspoon Cumin

Cut avocados in half and remove the seed. Next cut avocado into cubes while still in the skin, then scoop into bowl with a large spoon. Using a fork smash the avocados to desired consistency. Cut tomato in half, remove stem and seeds, then cut into a fine dice, add to bowl. Add the lime juice, salsa, garlic salt, and cumin and mix thoroughly. Adjust seasoning with salt. Let sit for a few minutes before serving so flavors all meld together.