Friday, October 30, 2009

Roasted Delicata Squash and a Fall Dinner

I was so happy to see delicata squash at my local farm market . It is so delicious and so easy to prepare, unlike some other squash (sorry butternut, I'm talking about you!) I nearly lost a finger or two lately preparing various butternut squash dishes! Delicata is very versatile but I think simply roasted is the best - why mask the delicious, and I mean ultra-delicious, natural flavor of the squash?

I cut the delicata in half lengthwise, scooped out the seeds, cut each in half again to make quarters, seasoned with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper. I placed it in a baking dish cut side up and roasted at 400 degrees for approx. 40 minutes.

It's funny because I actually planned my whole dinner around the delicata squash. What would be good with the delicata squash...? Well, I thought that a roasted chicken with a pan sauce seasoned with fresh thyme would be great, an autumn salad, and cranberry chutney. Well the cranberry chutney didn't happen - no fresh cranberries - I meant to pick some up... Oh, yes that is the Ocean Spray jiggly canned variety of cranberry sauce on my plate! I grew up with it and I admittedly do actually really like it :) Perfect fall dinner.

Interesting information about delicata squash from

Delicata Squash - Also called Peanut squash and Bohemian squash. This is one of the tastier winter squashes, with creamy pulp that tastes a bit like corn and sweet potatoes. Size may range from 5 to 10 inches in length. The squash can be baked or steamed The thin skin is also edible.

The delicata squash is actually an heirloom variety, a fairly recent reentry into the culinary world. It was originally introduced by the Peter Henderson Company of New York City in 1894, and was popular through the 1920s. Then it fell into obscurity for about seventy-five years, possibly because of its thinner, more tender skin, which isn't suited to transportation over thousands of miles and storage over months.

Available year-round - is best late summer through early fall.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

10 Minute Shrimp Dinner

I worked late and needed something quick for dinner. Thank goodness for frozen peeled and deveined shrimp. Quick sides were couscous, which cooks in five minutes, zucchini, steamed in the microwave, and a tossed salad, made with Earthbound Farms mesclun mix. Ready, set, go - defrost shrimp in colander, make sauce for the shrimp, toss a salad, steam zucchini in the microwave, and make couscous.

I also made a delicious appetizer which took less than five minutes. I am a huge fan of feta cheese! What do I like even better than feta? Well, fried feta of course! I sliced one inch slices from the block of feta, dipped in beaten egg, coated in panko crumbs and pan fried in olive oil until golden brown. Served with a wedge of lemon. Mediterranean in minutes!

Spicy Garlic Rosemary Shrimp
Recipe courtesy of Sara Moulton

1 pound medium shrimp, deveined, peeled, tail end left on
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary leaves
1 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Lemon juice
To a large skillet, add olive oil and garlic slices and cook over moderate heat until golden. Remove garlic chips.

To the skillet, add rosemary, pepper flakes, and shrimp, and cook, stirring, until just cooked through, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and transfer to serving dish. Squeeze some lemon juice over shrimp.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

German Jaeger Schnitzel

There is something about this time of year that makes me appreciate my German heritage (Dad's side of the family). When I think October, I think Octoberfest. In the US, Octoberfest activities are featured throughout the month of October. In Germany, Oktoberfest is a sixteen day festival, held in Munich, commencing on the third Saturday in September. It is a huge folk festival, with lots of great food, and of course beer. Although Oktoberfest has officially ended (September 19th - October 4th this year) the cool fall weather is perfect for hearty German food. I was in the mood for a creamy mushroom sauce ever since I saw this amazing dish on Ciao Chow Linda. I need to make that pasta dish! Well, back to the jaegerschnitzel... lightly breaded, pan fried pork cutlets topped with a creamy mushroom wine sauce - lecker!

Jaegerschnitzel with Mushroom Sauce
By Jennifer McGavin,

•1 small shallot or onion, 1/2 c. chopped
•1 T. butter
•8 oz. mushrooms, sliced
•1/2 c. broth
•1/2 c. white wine
•1/2 c. + 2 T. half and half or cream, divided
•2 T. flour or brown rice flour
•1/4 tsp. salt
•Freshly ground pepper
•3 T. fresh parsley, chopped
•1 lb. (400 grams) pork cutlets from roast cut 1/4 - 1/2 inch thick
•3 T. flour or brown rice flour
•1/4 tsp. salt
•Freshly ground pepper
•1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper, or to taste
•2 T. butter

Note: I used onion, not shallot, and heavy cream.

Jaegersauce Preparation
Sauté onion until translucent, add sliced mushrooms, brown for 5 minutes. Add broth and wine, cook 3 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of half and half or cream, bring to a boil and simmer for several minutes. Mix remaining 2 tablespoons of cream with 2 tablespoons of flour. Add flour slurry to mushroom mixture and bring to a boil, stirring to avoid clumps. Add parsley, salt and pepper to taste. Keep warm while cutlets are cooked.

Schnitzel Preparation
Melt 2 tablespoons butter in skillet. Lay out cutlets on cutting board, cover with plastic wrap and pound until thin (1/4 inch thick or less). Dip in flour mixed with pepper, salt and cayenne pepper, shake off extra flour and sauté in 2 tablespoons butter for 3 minutes on each side.

Serve with sauce and potatoes.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Eggplant and Goat Cheese - Perfect!

There is something so good about the combination of eggplant and goat cheese. The tangy, melty cheese is perfect with the lightly fried, creamy eggplant. This is my husband's favorite preparation of eggplant. This dish was inspired by Lasagnette of Eggplant and Goat Cheese on I used my own homemade marinara and assembled without measuring ingredients. Delicious!

Peel the eggplant and slice it lengthwise into 1/2 inch slices. Salt the eggplant and leave in a colander for 30 minutes. Next, rinse the eggplant and pat dry. Dredge the eggplant slices in flour seasoned with fresh black pepper.

Heat olive oil (about an inch) in a large saute pan. Fry the slices, turning once, until nicely browned. Drain on paper towels.

Layer in a baking dish, marinara sauce, followed by a layer of eggplant, another thin layer of marinara, sprinkle with freshly grated parm. reggiano and chopped parsley. Dot with goat cheese. Repeat layering. End with a eggplant, topped with marinara and sprinkled with extra parm., parsley, and fine dried bread crumbs. Bake at 375 until bubbly and browned.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Brazilian Shrimp Soup

I loved, loved, loved this soup. Tasty, one pot, simple, hearty, yet healthy. I love the balance of the sweetness from the coconut milk with the spice of the crushed red pepper and the saltiness of the shrimp - *drool*.

Brazilian Shrimp Soup
Recipe by Quick From Scratch Soups & Salads

I saw this recipe posted a while back on Savory Spicy Sweet and it looked so good! I've had it on my mind ever since! I added extra crushed red pepper flakes as Liz suggested.

2 tablespoons cooking oil
1 onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup long-grain rice
1/4 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
1 3/4 teaspoons salt
1 3/4 cups canned crushed tomatoes in thick puree (from one 15-ounce can)
5 cups water
1 cup canned unsweetened coconut milk
1 1/2 pounds medium shrimp, shelled and cut in half horizontally
1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley or cilantro

1.In a large pot, heat the oil over moderately low heat. Add the onion, bell pepper, and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables start to soften, about 10 minutes.
2.Add the rice, red-pepper flakes, salt, tomatoes, and water to the pot. Bring to a boil and cook until the rice is almost tender, about 10 minutes.
3.Stir the coconut milk into the soup. Bring back to a simmer and then stir in the shrimp. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the shrimp are just done, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in the black pepper, lemon juice, and parsley.

Variation: Instead of the shrimp, use one pound of boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about three), cut crosswise into quarter-inch strips. Cook for the same amount of time.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Baked Apple Pancake

Apples and cinnamon, what a perfect combination. Sort of a cross between a crepe and a pancake, this baked apple dish is delicious!
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup milk
2 extra large eggs
2 tablespoons butter
1 large apple sliced thinly
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix sugar and cinnamon. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, milk and eggs. Melt butter in an oven-proof nonstick skillet. Remove from heat. Add batter and arrange sliced apples on top. Sprinkle evenly with the cinnamon sugar mixture. Bake for 20 minutes.

Source: Bickford's Restaurant Braintree, MA

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Nostalgic Sandwich

When is the last time that you had a turkey club sandwich? I couldn't tell you the last time that I had one. This was one of my favorites as a child. Something was just so festive about the toothpicks with colored cellophane frill! The giant sandwich, served with a tiny paper cup of coleslaw and fries cooked in a terrible for you cooking oil, was so good.

Well, I have pretty much sworn off cold cuts, except for a very rare sub sandwich splurge. I never eat turkey from the supermarket deli - yuck!

I was so in the mood for a turkey club sandwich - I had beautiful lettuce from the farm market, as well as a Jersey tomato, and bacon from the Amish market. So, I headed over to the local turkey farm store (Hinck's free range turkeys since 1938) and picked up real sliced turkey breast. 3 slices of white toast, turkey, bacon, lettuce, tomato slices, and a smear of mayo -delicious!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Brussels Sprouts with Pecans

If you love brussels sprouts or even if you think that you hate them, try this great recipe from Cooking Light. Even proclaimed brussels sprouts haters love this recipe! Light, sweet, savory with a nice crunch - perfect! Great autumn side dish.

Brussels Sprouts with Pecans
Recipe Courtesy of Cooking Light
8 servings (serving size: about 2/3 cup)

2 teaspoons butter
1 cup chopped onion
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
8 cups halved and thinly sliced Brussels sprouts (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1/2 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 teaspoons coarsely chopped pecans, toasted
Melt butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic; sauté 4 minutes or until lightly browned. Stir in Brussels sprouts; sauté 2 minutes. Add broth and sugar; cook 5 minutes or until liquid almost evaporates, stirring frequently. Stir in salt. Sprinkle with pecans.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Honeycrisp Apples

Thank you Andrew for spreading the word on Honeycrisp apples! Who knew the best apples, which originated at the University of Minnesota, would be grown at local NJ orchards (Terhune Orchards in Princeton and Peaceful Valley Orchards in *oh my* Pittstown, NJ)? I grew up in Hunterdon County and often rode my bike to Pittstown. My love of vegetables, farm markets, etc. all began there. Ah... Pittstown, home of Dalrymple's Market (later Kuch's), Bodine Lumber and the Pittstown Inn... None of which probably exist today! Wow - probably just totally dated myself! Well anyway, these "best apples" are Honeycrisp (hybrid -cross between Macoun and Honeygold) and if you haven't tried them yet - please do! They are very crisp, sweet, but also a little tart - perfect! They are expensive but worth it. I actually picked mine up at Costco but would love to get them at one of the NJ orchards.
Apples are perfect in a fall salad!

Fall Salad

mesclun mix
apple slices (preferably Honeycrisp)
crumbled feta (or goat cheese)
toasted pecans (or walnuts)
red onion slices (I did not add this time)
balsamic vinaigrette - Epicurious March 2003

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Fall Break - Welcome Home!

My daughter is home for a week on fall break. I am so happy to have a full house! Her first night home dinner request was homemade pizza. We do a lot of Friday pizza nights so it was perfect. I served the pizza with a big antipasto platter. She is feeling deprived of fresh veggies. I will really enjoy cooking this week!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Pork Chops Milanese

Have you ever gone out to eat, loved a dish so much, that you couldn't wait to try to replicate it at home? Well, that's exactly what happened to me when I had the most delicious pork chop dish at Osteria in Philadelphia. The tenderest, juiciest pork chop with crisp parmesan breading, topped with an arugula salad - outstanding! Well, I have not been able to replicate their dish, but I have come up with my own version which is quite delicious!

For the pork chops:

4 boneless center cut pork chops (pounded thinly with a meat mallet)
Seasoned flour for dusting
2 eggs beaten
1/2 cup grated parmigiano-reggiano
1 cup panko bread crumbs
olive oil for pan frying

Dust the pork chops with the seasoned (salt and pepper) flour, coating lighly, and tap off any excess. Next, dip the pork chops into the egg, and finally into the panko crumbs mixed with the grated cheese. Press the bread crumb and cheese mixture onto the pork chops to get a nice even coating. Heat, over medium-high, enough olive oil to cover the bottom of a large saute pan. Add the pork chops and cook until golden brown (approx. 3-4 minutes per side). Drain on a paper towel lined plate.

For the arugula salad:

1 bunch of arugula or baby arugula (rocket) washed and spun in a salad spinner
1/2 lemon juiced
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt and fresh ground pepper

Juice the lemon into a small mixing bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Slowly whisk in the olive oil.

Serve the pork chop topped with the arugula, drizzled with the dressing. Shave fresh parmigiano-reggiano over top using a vegetable peeler. Serve immediately! Pour a glass of wine and play Andrea Bocelli - buon appetito!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Shrimp Fra Diavolo in a Flash

For busy weeknights, pasta and shrimp dishes are great! They come together fast, are satisfying, and delicious.

Shrimp Fra Diavolo
Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a saute pan over medium low heat. Add 6 cloves of minced garlic (I use my Cuisinart mini chopper). Stir often and be sure not to burn the garlic. Once the garlic softens, add a 28 oz. can of whole tomatoes in puree. Season with 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt and 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes - yes a whole teaspoon! We like it a little hot. :) Break up the tomatoes with the back of a wooden spoon. Bring to a quick boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Add 1lb. of shelled, deveined shrimp into the tomatoes, and cook until the shrimp are pink and cooked through. Top with fresh chopped parsley. Serve over top of cooked pasta.

This is a great basic recipe. You could always add a little red wine, some capers, scallops, basil, etc. I served the pasta with roasted asparagus and toasted Italian bread, rubbed with a garlic clove, and drizzled with olive oil. Perfect!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

In Search of the Perfect College and Perfect Tomato Pie!

Back on the college hunt! We are actively searching for the perfect college for my younger daughter. We have a short list - well actually a long list! A Boston area college, that's on the list, was holding an information session, not too far away. So my daughter and I decided to go, and while in the area, why not go to one of our very favorite pizza places? Food somehow makes its way into most of my plans :). Wait, did I say pizza? Pardon me, it's tomato pie. So what's the difference? Supposedly, the order of toppings - cheese, other toppings, followed by canned tomatoes. No pizza sauce or grated cheese are served. The crust is cooked until just shy of being burned. The pie is then unevenly sliced - no perfect triangles here! May sound a little strange but it's so good!

DeLorenzo's Tomato Pies is a NJ institution! Established in 1947 in Trenton, NJ. We visited the relatively new 2nd location in Robbinsville, which is really nice but I still have fond memories of the Trenton location. I haven't been back to the Trenton location since the owner "Chick" DeLorenzo passed away a couple of years ago. He was very proud of his tomato pies! The Trenton location is definitely a throw back - old manual cash register, rotary phone, no bathroom, celebrity photos, and a line out the door... oh and delicious tomato pies! The Robbinsville location is so nice - open kitchen, nice decor, friendly staff, bathrooms, and still delicious tomato pies. It's definitely my location of choice from now on.

I wanted to share some photos of this legendary NJ tomato pie but we forgot the camera. So sad, all I have are pictures of cold leftover slices in a non-environmentally friendly take away box and a a half wilted salad :(. If you are a pizza aficionado, such as myself, DeLorenzo's should be on your must try list. I found a great review and pictures of DeLorenzo's on