Monday, October 31, 2011

Pumpkin Banana Bread

You can freeze one or both of these loaves after they are baked. Just wrap tightly in plastic wrap and then in aluminum foil. Thaw in the refrigerator or on the counter and reheat gently in the oven, or slice and warm in a toaster oven.

Total Time: about 1 hour, 15 minutes
Makes two 9x5 loaves


  • 4 medium very ripe bananas, mashed
  • 2 C pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 C extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3/4 C lightly packed brown sugar
  • 2 C all-purpose flour
  • 2 C whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 C rolled oats, plus 1/2 C more for topping
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
  • 3 Tbsp melted butter

Preheat the oven to 350F with a rack in the middle position. Grease two 9x5 loaf pans with butter or non-stick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, combine the mashed bananas, pumpkin puree, olive oil, brown sugar, and eggs. In a separate bowl, combine the flours, 1 cup oats, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Fold the dry ingredients into the pumpkin-banana mixture until just combined.

Divide the dough between the two prepared loaf pans. In a small bowl combine the remaining 1/2 cup oats with the melted butter and sprinkle on top of each loaf. Bake for 55 minutes to 1 hour and 5 minutes, or until golden brown on top and a toothpick inserted into the center of each loaf comes out clean. Let the loaves cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then remove from the pan and let cool completely on the rack.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Gemelli with Sausage, Pumpkin, Spinach, and Caramelized Onions

Total Time: about 40 minutes
Makes 6-8 servings

1 lb good quality, mild sausage
1 lb dried gemelli
2 large yellow onions, thinly sliced
1/4 C plus 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
pinch sugar
10 oz spinach, washed, tough stems removed
4 tsp minced garlic
1/2 C dry sherry or white wine
1 C pumpkin puree
3/4 C light chicken or vegetable broth
2 Tbsp butter
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper

In a large skillet heat 1/4 cup olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions, season with a teaspoon of salt and the pinch of sugar. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are caramelized, about 35 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.

While the onions are cooking, boil a large pot of water for the the pasta. Season the boiling water generously with salt, add the gemelli, and cook until just al dente. Drain the pasta and keep warm while you make the sauce.

In the now-empty pot, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and brown, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, until no pink remains. Transfer the sausage to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. You need about 2 tablespoons of fat left in the pot; drain off any excess or add more olive oil if you need it.

Reduce the heat to medium and add the garlic. Cook, stirring, until the garlic is fragrant, about 45 seconds. Add the sherry, turn up the heat and reduce by half. Add the chicken broth and pumpkin puree and stir to combine. Reduce the sauce until thickened, then add the spinach and cook until wilted. Throw in your butter, cooked sausage, caramelized onions, and pasta, and toss to combine. Taste for seasonings and add black pepper if you'd like. Serve with a crusty garlic bread!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Pasta with Fennel, Bacon, Roasted Peppers in Pesto

Makes 4 servings
Total Time: about 45 minutes

2 bell peppers (whatever colors you'd like)
1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
1 shallot, roughly chopped
about a cup parsley leaves
about a 1/2 C basil leaves
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4-1/3 C extra virgin olive oil
9 oz dried rotini or penne
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
6 oz bacon, chopped into pieces
1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced
1/2 C sherry or white wine
1/2 C grated Parmesan

Char the peppers over a flame or broil until charred on all sides. Place the peppers in a paper or plastic bag, close, and let steam for a few minutes while you make the pesto.

In a food processor, add the garlic, shallot, parsley, basil and salt. Pulse until combined and the herbs and aromatics are finely chopped. With the processor running, add enough olive oil to make a thick paste (or whatever consistency you desire. Taste for seasonings and add more salt if you need to.

Take the peppers out of the bag and removed the charred skins, stem and seeds. Slice the peppers thinly.

In a large pot, boil water for the pasta and salt generously. Cook the pasta until it's almost done, then drain (you're going to add it back to the pot later).

In the same pot heat tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook until browned. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Keep two tablespoons of fat in the pan and pour off any excess. Add the fennel and cook until softened. Add the sherry, turn up the heat, and reduce slightly. Return the pasta to the pot, as well as the roasted peppers and about 3 tablespoons of the pesto, or more if desired (reserve the rest for spreading on bread or adding to soup, or whatever you'd like). Lower the heat and cook until everything is warmed. Serve in bowls, topped with the bacon crumbles and grated Parmesan.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Roasted Acorn Squash Stuffed with Mushroom Risotto

This dish has Fall written all over it: creamy risotto with earthy mushrooms, crispy and salty toasted squash seeds, and an edible bowl of sweet, roasted vegetable goodness.

Total time: about an hour
Makes 4 servings

2 acorn squashes, 2 lbs each
6 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
8 oz mushrooms of choice, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 C Arborio rice
1/2 C dry white wine or sherry
4 C light chicken or vegetable stock, kept warm on the stove
3 tsp kosher salt, divided
freshly ground black pepper
2 oz ricotta salata, crumbled

Preheat the oven to 425F with a rack in the middle position. Cut the acorn squashes in half lengthwise (you might have to microwave them for a minute to soften them up enough to get your knife through). Scoop out the squash guts and seeds and remove as much of the fibrous innards as you can. Rinse the seeds under water to help remove the rest of the pulp and dry the seeds on some layers of paper towels.

On a sheet pan, drizzle a tablespoon of olive oil. Brush another two tablespoons of olive oil all over the insides and outsides of the of the squash. Sprinkle the squash with 2 tsp of kosher salt and place cut-side down on the baking sheet. Bake for 35-45 minutes, or until it is tender when pierced with a fork. Because these are going to be bowls for the risotto, you might have to cut a small piece from the curved peel-side so that they can stand on their own when you fill them. (Be careful not to cut too much into the flesh or the squash.)

While the squash is roasting, toast the seeds and make your risotto. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the squash seeds, season with 1/2 tsp kosher salt, and toast, stirring frequently, until the seeds are puffed and browned, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.

In a large skillet, heat the remaining two tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms, season with the remaining salt, and saute until softened. Add the minced garlic and saute until the mushrooms are garlic are beginning to brown. Transfer the mushrooms and garlic, leaving any fat remaining in the pan and set the plate aside. (If you don't have any fat left in the pan, add another tablespoon of olive oil in the next step.)

Return the skillet to medium-high heat and add the rice. Toast for a minute or two, then add the wine. Let the rice absorb the sherry, stirring frequently. When almost all of the liquid has been absorbed, ladle  in a 1/2 cup of the stock, stirring again until the rice has absorbed almost all of the liquid. Continue adding a 1/2 cup at a time, stirring frequently as the rice absorbs each ladle-full of liquid, until the rice is tender and quite creamy (about 35-40 minutes total). Remove from the heat, and stir in freshly ground black pepper as desired, and the cheese. The cheese will melt as you stir. To serve, scoop about a cup of the risotto in each squash cavity, and top with squash seeds. Enjoy!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Poached Egg on Creamy Grits with Mushroom, Red Onion, and Sherry Sauce

Total Time: about 45 minutes
Serves 2

  • 1/2 C corn grits
  • 1 C milk
  • 1 C water
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 C thinly sliced mushrooms
  • 1/2 C thinly sliced red onion
  • 1 (6-inch) sprig rosemary, leaves chopped
  • 1/4 C sherry
  • 3 Tbsp butter, divided
  • 2 tsp salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

In a medium pot, bring one quart of water to a simmer. Crack one egg into a small prep bowl and gently slide it into the simmering water. Cook the egg up the white is firm. Remove from the water with a slotted spoon and transfer to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. Repeat with the remaining egg.

In a medium saucepan, bring to a boil the milk and water. Slowly add the grits and season with 1  1/2 teaspoon of salt and freshly ground black pepper. Reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook the grits, stirring, until they are thick and creamy, about 30-35 minutes. Remove from the heat and add a tablespoon on butter, stirring to combine as the butter melts. Keep warm while you cook the vegetables.

In a large skillet, melt the remaining two tablespoons of butter over medium-high heat. Add the red onions, season with the remaining salt, and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until they begin to soften. Add the mushrooms and cook until browned. Toss in the rosemary. Add the sherry and increase the heat to bring the sauce to a simmer. Reduce the sauce slightly and remove from the heat.

Now for plating: spoon the grits between two bowls, and top with the red onions, mushrooms, and sherry sauce. Place the skillet back on low heat and add a tablespoon or two of water. Add the poached eggs to warm, then place them on top of each bowl of grits and goodness. Season with extra salt and pepper, if desired.