Gluttonous and Good For You!

Gluttonous and Good For You!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Trick or Treat, Spaghetti or Squash? Both!

Happy Halloween!  Trick or treating is really the best part of Halloween.  However, as adults we find other means besides candy to indulge.  Well, at least we have the best intentions.  Looking at the seasonal produce, I saw so much squash.  And spaghetti squash has a special quality about it.  Once it's cooked, it breaks down into a spaghetti-like texture.  I know it's an old trick, but it doesn't get old.  It's easy, nutritious, takes on whatever flavor you give it, and everyone can enjoy it.  I am partial to spaghetti, with lots of oregano.  And spaghetti squash goes even better than pasta with oregano.  Please take a look at an old blog post of mine about the chemistry of oregano and another great recipe: Spaghetti. With Lots of Oregano.  Use a strong oregano that you can smell - the stronger, the better.  I kept it really simple: roasted the spaghetti squash for best flavor and to ensure even cooking; tossed it with really good extra virgin olive oil, salt, white pepper, and  strong oregano.  To add a little Halloween flavor to it, sprinkle some black salt on top.  Yes, this is a luxurious option.  But why not?

Halloween Spaghetti Squash
  • spaghetti squash, 1 large
  • olive oil, 1/4 cup total at most
  • salt, garlic salt or powder, and white pepper to taste
  • oregano to taste, about 1 teaspoon
  • black salt for garnish
  1. Preheat oven to 425F.
  2. Cut squash in half length-wise (the most difficult - be careful!) and scoop out the seeds and center goop with a large metal spoon.  Drizzle olive oil and generously salt the cut side/inside part of the squash.  Place face side down onto a foil-lined jelly roll pan.  Cook at 425F for about 45 minutes.  Remove from oven and allow to cool enough to handle. 
  3. Now the fun part: using a fork, grate and fluff up the spaghetti squash.  Place the grated squash into a large mixing bowl.  Toss it with salt, garlic (salt, powder, or granulated), and white pepper to taste.  Add in the oregano and toss until uniformly mixed.  Split into 4 servings and sprinkle black salt on top.
Enjoy and may your Halloween weekend be not too frightening.

-Erin Swing
Swing Eats

This is part of Food Network's Fall Fest. Check out The FN Dish.  The season them is anything Halloween related.  On twitter, we're tagging #FallFest. Here are other Halloween inspired recipes to try out:   

The Hungry Traveler: Halloween Spiderweb Brownies
6 Halloween Movie and Food Pairings for a Spooktacular Party
Creative Culinary: 
The Black Goblin – Tequila, Coffee Liqueur and Cream
Pan de Muertos (Day of the Dead Bread)
Domesticate Me: 
Pumpkin Spice Rice Krispie Treat Bites
Elephants and the Coconut Trees:
 Pumpkin Brain Pasta Halloween Special
Napa Farmhouse 1885: 
Curried Pumpkin & Apple Chowder
Red or Green: 
Pasta with Cilantro, Jalapeno & Pinenuts
Swing Eats: 
Trick or Treat, Spaghetti or Squash? Both!
Feed Me Phoebe: 
Blood Orange White Sangria with Pomegranate
Taste with the Eyes: 
Pumpkin Risotto Stuffed with Burrata, Fried Sage
Healthy Eats: 
5 Ways to Host a Healthier Halloween Party
Deviled Egg Spiders

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

So continues Food Network's Fall Fest with squash. The first thing to come to my mind, as I sure most people's minds, is butternut squash soup. With good reason. It's comforting, warm, hearty, rich, and not that difficult to make. Most soups start with a mirepoix (onions, carrots, and celery), which creates the aromatic foundation. Then add in cooked tender squash, stock, seasonings, and puree. That simple. Well, I find the most difficult aspect is the handling of the butternut squash. Every time I break one down, I curse at myself for not buying a cheap work horse cleaver from the Asian market. Hence I prefer to roast the butternut squash split in the oven. Then it works it easy to scoop out and add into the stock pan. Roasting adds a great depth of flavor from the Maillard reaction: the browning reaction (think meats, caramel, etc) that breaks down proteins and carbohydrates into small tasty flavor molecules. I add the mirepoix on the baking sheet to roast with the squash, too. That tends to get more browning, which means more flavor. Make up a big batch. It keeps well in the fridge and reheats well. Add a little flair by garnishing using your creativity. I prefer sour cream and chives. Other garnish ideas: roasted pumpkin seeds, celery leaves, thyme leaves, a sprinkle of chipotle or ancho chili powder....

1 medium butternut squash (or 1 package of cubed butternut squash)
1 medium onion, chopped medium
3 stalks celery, chopped medium
3 carrots, peeled, cut medium dice
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
dash nutmeg
salt and (white) pepper, to taste
1 quart chicken broth, not all will be used (or vegetable) 
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (optional)
1/4 cup half and half 

Preheat oven to 350F. Cut the butternut squash lengthwise, remove the seeds with a spoon, coat with oil and salt, place cut side down on a jelly roll pan. Add the mirepoix (onions, celery, carrots) on the jelly roll pan with remaining oil, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Roast in oven for about 30 minutes. Stirring the mirepoix a couple of times. Done when the squash is fork tender and some of the mirepoix is lightly browned.

In a large sauce pan or small stock pot, add about 1 cup of stock and heat on medium. Add in the roasted mirepoix to the stock while the squash cools off enough to handle. With a spoon, remove the skin from the squash, cut up in smaller chunks, and add into the stock. Top off with more stock until the level of stock is about 1/2 inch above the vegetables. Allow to simmer for a few minutes, add in thyme or seasonings of your choice. Remove from heat and puree with an immersion/stick blender. If you do not have one, blend in a blender or food processor in batches as needed. During this, add in the half and half. Taste and adjust seasonings per your palette.

This makes up to 2 quarts of soup. Adjust this recipe for your preference. I view a recipe like this as a guideline. Freezes well, too.

-Erin Swing
The Sensitive Epicure

This is part of Food Network's Fall Fest, highlighting the produce that is in season. Check out The FN Dish. The seasonal produce we are focusing on this week is squash. Come over to Twitter where we are discussing it on #FallFest. Here are other delicious features on squash:

The Lemon Bowl: Slow Cooker Beef Curry
Creative Culinary: 
Slow Cooker Butternut Squash, Potato and Roasted Pepper Soup
The Wimpy Vegetarian: 
Butternut-Apple-Kale Panzanella Salad
Swing Eats: 
Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
Taste with the Eyes: 
Acorn Squash and Korean Pear Salad, Pomegranate Vinaigrette
Napa Farmhouse 1885: 
Butternut Squash & Eggplant Ratatouille
Red or Green: 
Butternut Squash & Chipotle Frittata
The Mom 100: 
Butternut Squash, Black Bean and Chicken Enchilada Cups
Healthy Eats: 
From Soup to Stir-Fry: 6 Healthy Uses for In-Season Squash
FN Dish: 
7 Days of In-Season Squash

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Pumpkin Panna Cotta with Pumpkin Seed Brittle

Pumpkin is such a quintessential autumn ingredient and has become ubiquitous.  "Panna cotta" is Italian for cooked cream and it is generally a simmered cream, sugar, and gelatin mixture that is eaten after chilling in the fridge and set up.  It is one of my favorite desserts - so luxurious.  I took the standard recipe and replaced half the cream with pumpkin pulp, used brown sugar instead of white sugar, and added in traditional autumn spices.  I thought a brittle would compliment the texture well, and using raw pumpkin seeds/pepitas works perfectly.  Yes, the brittle is a "technical" component, meaning that for best results, use precision: weighing the ingredients, monitoring temperature, and working fast.  Just read through the ingredients and instructions twice before trying it.  You can do it, I have confidence in you.  Notes: glucose can be found at any baking/candy supply store and most craft stores; allow 4 hours to set; makes 6 servings.


Pumpkin Panna Cotta
  • gelatin: 2 teaspoons (6.5g)
  • cold water: 2 tablespoons (30g)
  • heavy cream: 1 1/2 cups (345g)
  • pumpkin, canned: 1 1/2 cups (370g)
  • brown sugar: 3/4 cup (150g)
  • vanilla extract: 1 teaspoon (7g)
  • cinnamon: 1 teaspoon (3g)
  • salt: 3/4 teaspoon (3g)
  • nutmeg, ginger, allspice: 1/4 teaspoon (0.5g) each
  • sour cream: 8 ounces (220g)

Pepitas (Pumpkin Seed) Brittle

  • sugar: 90g
  • glucose/corn syrup: 60g
  • water: 38g
  • pepitas, raw: 70g
  • butter: 6g
  • vanilla: 3g
  • salt: 0.6g
  • baking soda: 1.0g


Pumpkin Panna Cotta
  1. In a small bowl, put in the gelatin and add the cold water on top of it, covering it completely.  Allow to bloom for 10-15 minutes.
  2. In a medium saucepan, combine the heavy cream, pumpkin, sugar, salt, and spices (but not the vanilla yet since it's more heat sensitive).  Whisk over medium-low heat with constant stirring.  Once warm, add in the hydrated gelatin and whisk with constant stirring until dissolved.  Heat until not even simmering, about 10-15 minutes total time, 2-3 minutes once the gelatin has been added.  Remove from heat and whisk in the vanilla extract.
  3. In a large bowl, add in the sour cream at once.  To that, slowly whisk in the pumpkin/cream mixture.  Constantly whisk until completely mixed.  Evenly divide into 6 ramekins/custard cups.  Cover with plastic wrap and allow to set up in fridge for at least 4 hours.
Pepitas (Pumpkin Seed) Brittle
  1. Lightly oil a marble slab or silpat or parchment on a cookie sheet.
  2. Combine the sugar, glucose, and water in a small, heavy saucepan.  Bring to a boil to dissolve the sugar and make a syrup.  Boil the syrup until the temperature reaches 250F.
  3. Add in the raw pepitas and butter.  Continue to boil until the mixture reaches 312F.  Stir constantly and gently to prevent burning on the bottom.
  4. Remove the pan from the heat.  Stir in the vanilla, salt, and baking soda.  Use cation, as the hot syrup will foam up for a moment.
  5. Pour the mixture onto the slab you prepared.  Using an oiled spatula, gently and very quickly spread out the mixture as evenly as possible.  Immediately, lightly salt the top. 
  6. Using a large, strong knife or cleaver, carefully cut the brittle into strips, squares, whatever shape you would like.
  7. Cool completely and store in airtight containers.
-Erin Swing
Swing Eats

This is part of Food Network's Fall Fest. Check out The FN Dish.  The summer produce we're focusing on here are pumpkins.  On twitter, we're tagging #FallFest. Here are other delicious pumpkin recipes to try out:  

The Hungry Traveler: Pumpkin Brown Butter Madeleines
Bacon and Souffle: 
Pumpkin Lasagna with Sausage, Kale and Parmesan
Homemade Delish: 
Warm Pumpkin Salad
Creative Culinary: 
Pumpkin Butter
The Lemon Bowl: 
20 Healthy Pumpkin Recipes
Baked Pumpkin Doughnuts
Virtually Homemade: 
Pumpkin Snickerdoodles
Creamy Pumpkin Mac and Cheese
Dishin & Dishes: 
Homemade Pumpkin Chai Tea Latte Concentrate
Napa Farmhouse 1885: 
Spiced Pumpkin Pancakes
Red or Green: 
Spiced Pumpkin-Chocolate Chip Bars
The Heritage Cook: 
Roasted Pumpkin, Potato, and Sage (Gluten-Free)
Swing Eats: 
Pumpkin Panna Cotta with Pumpkin Seed Brittle
Taste with the Eyes: 
Sultry Pumpkin Soup - Southwest Flavors, Dressed To Kill
FN Dish: 
8 Ways to Eat Pumpkin All Day Long