Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

I have a "thing" for roasted vegetable soup. I realized roasting veggies brings out the caramelized goodness in them. To make roasted vegetables into a soup is pretty simple. Just add liquid, such as chicken stock, heavy cream, coconut milk, etc., puree your roasted veggies and voila! you have a soup. 

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup:

1 butternut squash peeled and diced
I onion, peeled and sliced into long strips
2 carrots
3-4 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup heavy cream
salt & pepper to taste
sage leaves for garnish
 *chili oil for garnish

Place butternut squash, onion and carrots on a baking sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 30-40 minutes. Put roasted veggies into a stock pot, add broth and heavy cream and puree until smooth.

*Chili Oil: 2 Tablespoons olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon ancho chili powder, salt and cayenne pepper. Mix well and drizzle on top of soup when you are ready to serve. 


Friday, November 18, 2011

Baked Apple Chips

I have a fondness for apples. I think it is part of the reason I look forward to fall. I can't wait for apple season to begin. I usually eat them for breakfast or for a snack. When I was craving my mid afternoon snack the other day, I thought why not do something different. That is when it occurred to me to sprinkle them with apple pie spices and bake them. The first batch did not turn out. In fact, thanks to the oven being set too high, they were slightly burnt. I also realized it helps to cut the apples on a mandoline. I just tried to slice mine really thin. The thinner you can get them the crispier they will be. I also realized that you want to cook them on a low temperature. I set the oven at 200 degrees, however, when I make them again, I would set it at 250. The slow and low method is the best. I didn't even bother to core them. I think next time I'm going to experiment with a variety of different apples. Here is my recipe:

Baked Apple Chips
1-2 Apples (I used jonagold)
Spices - Vanilla sugar, ground cloves and cinnamon

Slice apples very thin. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and arrange apple slices. Bake at 250 degrees for 30 minutes. Flip apples over and cook for another 30 minutes.

I'm thinking that these would go well with some pumpkin butter. What do you think?

Monday, November 14, 2011

Panna Cotta

Ever since traveling to Italy, I've been obsessed by this dessert. It is one of those dishes that just melts in your mouth, literally!! My husband and I decided to try to recreate this creamy, decadent dessert. Panna Cotta is typically served with fresh fruit. We decided to serve ours with macerated blueberries and candid lemon peels.The panna cotta recipe that comes the closest to bringing me back to that wonderful food memory in Tuscany is this Gourmet recipe:


1 envelope unflavored gelatin (about 1 tablespoon)
2 tablespoons cold water
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup half and half
1/3 cup sugar, Plus 1 Tbs.
1 whole vanilla bean, (1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract)


1. In a very small saucepan sprinkle gelatin over water and let stand about 10 minute to soften.

2. In a large saucepan bring cream, half and half, and sugar just to a boil over moderately high heat, stirring. Remove pan from heat and stir in gelatin mixture and vanilla seeds. Divide cream mixture among eight 1/2-cup ramekins and cool to room temperature. Chill ramekins, covered, at least 4 hours or overnight.

3. Dip ramekins, 1 at a time, into a bowl of hot water 3 seconds. Run a thin knife around edge of each ramekin and invert ramekin onto center of a small plate.

Yield: Serves 8


Monday, November 7, 2011

Technique @ Le Cordon Bleu: Review

I recently discovered Le Cordon Bleu has a signature restaurant in Austin,TX. Technique, as its called, is located inside the cooking school, near the Domain mall. The meal is prepared by Le Cordon Bleu students and is overseen by a chef instructor. For lunch, the menu contains a variety of starters, main plates and desserts. You have your choice of three courses for $10.00. No, I did not leave out a zero. Your choice of a starter, main plate and dessert, and I'll repeat, for only $10.00. I was hoping there was not some sort of catch to this, like you have to leave 80% gratuity or dance on the table after your meal, but there were no hidden fees. The dining area is small and contemporary in decor. In fact, there is limited seating, so making a reservation on their website would be my suggestion, instead on just walking in and hoping to get a table.

I started with the Watermelon Arugula Salad, while the hubby had the Caprese Salad. 

For the main plate, I opted for the Halibut, while the hubby had the Veal Shank. 

 For dessert, I had the Salted Carmel Pot de Creme and the hubby had the Chocolate Mousse. I'm going to be honest here, I liked his choice better. 

Overall, It was a lovely lunch for an affordable price. To get more information on  Technique in Austin, TX, please click here. 
You don't have to dance on the table here to get the $10.00 "special". You can do that on your own time.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Rustic Pizza Night

There is nothing better than a homemade pizza. The crispy crust, the sauce from scratch and hand picked toppings, will make you want to stay in, rather than go out, for a slice of pie. Until I get my wood burning stove from Italy, (ha, ha, dream on) this homemade dough recipe is the next best thing. It's actually Wolfgang Puck's pizza dough recipe 
We cook the pizza on a pizza stone to make the crust nice and crispy.
For the sauce I use a 
  Classic Marinara (recipe to follow).
Add your on toppings and cheese and you are ready for some fantastic pizza. 

Classic Marinara:
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3-4 large garlic cloves
1 Tbs tomato paste
1 can (35oz) whole italian tomatoes with juice (San Marzano) crushed with your hands
1 pinch sugar
2 sprigs fresh basil
salt and pepper to taste
In a saucepan, heat oil. Add garlic and cook over medium heat, until garlic is golden. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring for 1 minute. Add canned tomatoes, stir in sugar, basil and salt/pepper. Bring to a boil. Simmer sauce over low heat for 30 minutes.