Tuesday, October 26, 2010

You can't beet that!

I don't exactly know where beets ended up getting a bad name. They are one of the tastiest little things in the world, especially when they are fresh. I am guessing that the little purple circles that make their way into the lineup at the Sizzler salad bar are what have turned most people off. Yeah, those are not that good....but they come from a can! Get a hold of some fresh beets, and you have a double delicious treat. The bulbs are great when you steam them (about 25-40 minutes depending on the size) and you get the greens! A bunch of beets, complete with the greens only cost about $2 right now at Henry's Market and they are ORGANIC. Here, I used them two ways. Steamed golden beets are peeled and sliced, and drizzled with just a little bit of butter and salt. They have a wonderful flavor that is all their own. The chopped greens were sauteed with onions, olive oil, sea salt, and red pepper flakes. This was all laid upon a bed of quinoa (a grain that is actually related to the beet and spinach family) and served with a nice garnish of New York steak.

Oh, the joys of fall.

One of the wonderful things that start to make an appearance in the fall are "winter squashes". These wonderful things are known by this somewhat misleading name because they are built to last through the winter, not because they grow during the cold months. In fact, these rather hardy squashes take a rather long time to grow during the summer months. What sets them apart from the summer squashes (like zucchini and yellow crookneck squash) is that they have a very hard, thick skin. This skin is cured a bit by letting the squash sit out in the sun once it is ripe. What you are left with is a fabulous vegetable that you can store at room temperature for months at a time....virtually all winter! So, if you have the storage space, buy them up as they reach rock bottom prices during the fall. They have diverse names, like Acorn, Delicata, Spaghetti, Butternut, Table Queen, Banana, and many many others. Cooking these basically involves the same process, no matter what you choose for your table. You cut the squash in half, remove the seeds and pulp, and then put them in a pan with 1/4 inch of water, flesh side down. Bake them at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes. Then, you can scoop out the flesh, or leave it in the shell to serve. An easy way to season them is to turn them flesh side up, sprinkle some brown sugar, salt, pepper and cinnamon in the hollow and put them back into the oven for 5 minutes. A little bit of butter can add to the richness.

Tonight, I filled a Delicata with a wonderful mixture of fresh sauteed collard greens, onions, garlic, Hot Silva Linguica, and cooked winter wheat berries. A bit of grated Swiss cheese topped it off. This was a wonderful way to represent the bounty of the fall harvest season

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Some Recent Meals

Oh, I know. What is the point of having a blog if you never bother to update it? Well, post-graduation, life took some getting used to. In addition to the new jobs, new apartment, and new car, there comes a new attitude. I think that I have now settled down a bit, and will be able to get back to cooking like I mean it. One interesting change is that I am not on a college budget anymore, so I am looking forward to creating a few dishes that really use some quality ingredients! Also, my job at The Cosmopolitan Hotel has brought cuisine back into my life, and working with fantastic people like Chef Amy DiBiase has given me new perspectives and ideas. Here are some pictures of a few dishes that I worked up during the summer: