Wednesday, October 24, 2007

That Autumn Flava

Butternut Squash Puree

squash and sage puree
Butternut squash has rapidly become one of my favorite ingredients. It’s sweet, nutty, autumnal flavor is crowd pleasing and seasonal during these fall months. My version of a simple butternut squash puree is the perfect way to liven up a tired menu.

2 Cups diced butternut squash (about half a squash)
1 finely diced shallot
2 cloves of garlic—minced
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1 cup chicken stock
½ teaspoon of salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon fresh sage

butternut squash

Peel and dice the butternut squash into ½ inch cubes. Add the two tablespoons of olive oil to a large sauté pan over medium high heat. Add the squash, shallot and garlic to the pan and sauté over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until the squash has caramelized on the edges. Season the squash with the salt and pepper during this period.

sautee squash food processor squash

Add the chicken stock and reduce the heat to below medium and allow the ingredients to simmer for 15-20 minutes until the squash is tender.

While the squash is simmering, finely chop the sage and set aside. When the squash has reached the desired tenderness, transfer the contents of the sauté pan to a food processor or blender, add the sage and blend to a puree. Add additional salt and pepper to taste, and enjoy!

This versatile puree has a variety of uses can be a filling for ravioli or lasagna, a topping for spaghetti/linguini/fettucini and makes a fantastic pizza sauce with grilled chicken breast and Munster cheese!

butternut squash pizza

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Pasta Roller Saga: Part Two

raviolis homemade

After much contemplation, vacant staring and a few calls to my parents for their expert opinions on the subject, I finally decided to transform my dough into bite-sized pockets of savory squash filled magic! I initially considered spaghetti, which is easy but seemed too pedestrian for my triumphant introduction to pasta fresca (I have since learned that homemade, fresh spaghetti—noodles in any form—are anything but pedestrian! They’re always transcendent and I can’t go back to dried.). Lasagna, on the other hand, would be distinguished but too much work. Butternut squash raviolis seemed to be the perfect way to properly utilize my noodles.

ravioli assembly
And they were, too! Slightly sweet, creamy, and pumkinny, butternut squash epitomizes the taste of autumn for me.

I made a puree of squash, caramelized onions, and fresh sage that was seasonal and delicious. Unfortunately, my raviolis were slighty doughy and I need to work on my assembly method. However, for a first try, they were still pretty darn good.

dough raviolis

Recipes are pending further experimentation for now but you can expect big things soon. For now, I will leave you with a final picture, employing the “dooce” vignette effect and a request for the perfect noodle dough recipe. I’ve tried using all-purpose flour, semolina flour, and a mix of the two but am still working out the kinks.

homemade raviolis with browned sage butter

Monday, October 1, 2007

Of Mysterious Packages and Pasta Fresca

I was greeted to a delightful surprise when I returned home from work last Wednesday.
mysterious package
Ooh, a mysterious package. What could it be?

revealed package

Hot damn! My blog has finally paid off. Two of my loyal readers took it upon themselves to help further my culinary education and sent me a very much-appreciated gift of a pasta roller! So much for Google AdWords, I’m just going to post my address and ask for presents!
pasta roller

I wasted no time in unwrapping, assembling and testing my newest gadget. I had been reading of this “pasta fresca” and was dying to make my own attempt. I found a traditional egg noodle recipe from the enclosed manual and began to work.
pasta dough well

mixing pasta dough well
Old school. For real

pasta dough ball

pasta fresca

I couldn’t believe it. Before me lay actual homemade pasta! It was not perfect by any means, but for a first attempt, it ranked fair. And at the time, to me, it was glorious. Unfortunately, upon completing my task I was left with one fateful question… What next?

To be continued.