I have been making squash fries at least once a week for over two years now. It recently occured to me that that I have not shared the recipe with you yet. My bad! Sorry about that. Once you try them, you too will be serving them often. I started making them around the same time that I discovered smoked paprika. Squash and smoked paprika are just made for each other. I usually roast vegetables at a high heat (450°F), which gives then that gorgeous char. However, I have been reading that roasting veggies at a low temp (250°F) deeply concentrates the flavours and gives you a velvety-custardy texture. They turn out more evenly cooked and less shriveled than their high-heat friends. I will admit that the roasting time balloons from 45 minutes to over 2 hours, but it’s unattended roasting time. If you can plan ahead, your patience will be rewarded.
First we need to tackle peeling and cutting the squash. This can be scary if you don’t know what you’re doing. Here’s my method.
Make sure you spread them out in a single layer on the baking sheet.I love dipping them in chipotle mayo. I just mix low fat mayo (please do not use that fat-free stuff) with canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce. It is commonly found in the Mexican section of the supermarket. One can will give you way more than you need for this recipe. Here’s what I do to deal with leftovers. Remove all the seeds from the chiles, and process into a smooth paste in the food processor. Transfer paste to a parchment lined baking sheet and freeze. Once the paste is frozen solid, transfer to a zip-loc bag and store in freezer. Then you can simply break off pieces as you need them. Here are some great ideas on what to do with leftover chipotles.
Some people consider green beans boring. I prefer to think of them as a blank canvas. Their neutral flavour is a perfect backdrop for all kinds of culinary profiles. These blistered green beans are ideal for when you just want to crunch your way through something green.
This recipe was featured in the 2015 Thanksgiving (November) issue of Bon Appétit. I wanted to cook and bake almost every recipe in that magazine. While I still mourn the loss of Gourmet, I think that editor-in-chief Adam Rapoport is doing a stellar job at the helm of Bon Appétit. The magazine feels fresh and modern to me and the photography always leaves me feeling inspired.The pesto sauce for these beans is a riff on a traditional Catalan sauce made with roasted red peppers and almonds. Roasted tomatoes stand in for the traditional peppers. While winter tomatoes are often insipid, roasting infuses them with tons of flavour. The green beans spend about 10 minutes in a blisteringly hot pan, until they become lightly charred but still have some crunch. Crunchy, fresh, and tangy-sweet, these green beans hit all the right notes. They are sure to become a regular in your weekday rotation.
The concept of “nose to tail eating” has been gathering quite a bit of momentum over the past several years. It stems from a desire to be more responsible and waste as little as possible of the animals being killed for our food.
I try to be a more responsible carnivore. I buy whole chickens and cut them up myself, using the bones and neck to make stock. However, I just can’t seem to jump aboard the whole animal movement when it comes to using up veal tongue, beef cheeks or pigs ears. I’m just not that adventurous an eater.
Happily, for me, the nose to tail movement has recently made it’s way over from animals to vegetables. There’s a movement afoot by chefs, to use up every part of each vegetable we pull from the garden. Here’s a crusade I can get behind. I’m already great at using up broccoli stems and corn cobs.When I stumbled across a recipe for using up the green carrot tops on epicurious.com, it kind of blew my mind. Who knew that carrot tops were edible and that you could create a pesto from them? I was very excited to try it. Carrots get oiled and seasoned and then blasted in a hot oven to roast for about 30 minutes. I left a tiny bit of the stems on because it looks so pretty. Using up the tender green carrot tops in a pesto is a very clever way to use them up. They taste fresh and clean with a mild carrot flavour. Fresh basil, parmesan, garlic, macadamia nuts and some extra virgin olive oil get blitzed in the food processor with the carrot tops to make a smooth pesto.
Salty, crunchy, tangy and just perfect for mindless snacking, these roasted chickpeas are addictive. I was introduced to these a few months ago by my friend Marla. She made them to serve with drinks at my house. They were quickly gobbled up by everyone.
While roasting chickpeas may seem like a new idea, they’re actually quite a retro snack, dating back to 1000 CE. Known as Leblebi, they are a very common snack food in Turkey, Iran and Algeria. Often seasoned with salt and hot spices, once in a while you come across candy coated ones. I’m thinking of trying a salt, cumin and smoked paprika variation next.
I used canned chickpeas to keep things fast and easy. Rinse and drain a couple of cans.Tip them into a pot and cover with 2 cups of plain white distilled vinegar. You could be fancy and try apple cider or champagne vinegar if you wanted. Bring to a boil. Cover pot, remove from heat and let sit for 30 minutes. The key to getting the chick peas super crispy is to dry them very well. After draining them from their vinegar bath, I spread them out on a few layers of paper towels and let them air dry for about 30 minutes before coating with oil, salt and pepper. 45 minutes in a hot oven and they are golden brown and perfectly crispy.Inspired by street food snacks in the Middle-East, I decided to serve them in paper cones. I fashioned them out of parchment paper and then dressed them up with a band of pretty wrapping paper.I first learned how to fashion a cone out of parchment paper when I was in culinary school. We had to make them to use as a piping bag for decorative icing in our baking class. My fine motor skills are not the sharpest, so I had difficulty making them. I got the brilliant idea to bring in plastic disposable piping bags, but was promptly scolded by my teacher. He said that the plastic piping bags were for “housewives” and we were professionals! I practiced over and over again and can now make them in my sleep. Here is a great video tutorial.
Happy New Year! Have you made any resolutions? Let me know what you’re determined to change or accomplish this year. Personally, I’m not big on goal setting. It makes me very uncomfortable. I fear the inevitable disappointment if I fall short of my target.
A good friend of mine resolved to express more gratitude this year. She wrote me a beautiful note, letting me know how grateful she is for our friendship. I was so touched. Yet, a small part of me felt like crap! Maybe I should be resolving to be a better person too. Or maybe I’ll just bake a cake, a vegetable cake. That counts as virtuous, doesn’t it?
This lovely cauliflower cake is very slightly adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi’s book Plenty More.Roasted, mashed, or thinly sliced in a slaw, cauliflower is such a versatile vegetable. In this rendition, cauliflower gets boiled until soft and tender. Then it gets folded into a gossamer light cake batter, made with eggs, flour and baking powder. Basil and rosemary add a herbal freshness. Parmesan and Gruyere cheese add some gooey, nutty saltiness and the addition of turmeric makes this cake positively sunny. Topped with thinly sliced tomatoes and shallots, this is a very pretty golden cake indeed.