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Sunday, December 30, 2007

Christmas Eve in Recovery

Octavio and I had grand plans to host an Orphans Christmas eve feast for our friends who were staying in the city, but unfortunately we fell ill with a serious bout of the flu. We were bed bound and forced to make good on that age old parental threat to cancel Christmas.

By the time the eve rolled around I had enough energy to scrape together what I had in the house, I certainly didn't have the energy to shop for anything. So we had a delicious dinner of Rosemary Roasted Potatoes, Soy Maple Glazed Acorn Squash and Pan Seared Scallops. Dessert was our favorite after dinner liqueur Frangelico and some holiday chocolates.

Soy Maple Glaze

This would also be great on pork, butternut or acorn squashes.

2 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons of Grade A Maple Syrup
2 tablespoons soy sauce

Heat the butter over medium low heat until melted. Combine soy sauce and maple and simmer until thickened. Glazed periodically over the squash as you roast it for 45 min at 350 or until soft. Pour the remaining glaze over the final product before serving.

Monday, December 17, 2007

December Dinner

A blustery Saturday night in December is the perfect night to stay in with new and old friends. Octavio, Chelsea and David all came over to 312 Square Feet for a seasonal feast and heady conversation.

A visit to farmers market this week yielded lean results. The blessedly long growing season has finally reached it's denouement with winter squashes and hearty greens. Using a my favorite of these, the butternut squash, I made a saffron risotto and pan seared scallops in parsley herbed oil. The appetizer was an experimental treat courtesy of the cans of snails that Octavios mother shipped to us.

Escargots en Croute or Snail Pot Pies

serves 4
1 can cooked snails drained and rinsed
1 can of Pillsbury Cresent Rolls
1 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons butter
2 cloves of garlic
1 shallot minced
1 spring of thyme
2 tablespoons of flour
2-3 tablespoons fresh parsley chopped
1 egg beaten
sea salt and pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 375.

In a large saute pan, melt the butter. Add the shallots and cook until soft, add the garlic and cook a few minutes. Add the wine, thyme and salt and pepper. Cook about 5-6 minutes. Mix the flour with some water to form a thickener. Slowly add to the sauce and cook until it becomes white and creamy. Add the snails and cook until the snails are heated through.

Distribute the snail filling equally in four small ramekins.(I didn't feel like making my own puff pastry because of the labor intensity of the main course Cresents are an easy and tasty way to go around!) Use 1/2 of the Cresent dough divide into four parts to cover the tops of the ramekins. Brush with the egg and bake until the tops are golden about 15-20 minutes.

Butternut Squash Risotto

serves 8

1 large butternut squash (at least 2lbs.)
6 cups vegetable stock
6 table spoons butter
2 shallots minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon of saffron
1 1/2 cup Arborio Rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup Parmesan cheese grated
sea salt and pepper

Mix the saffron with 1 1/2 teaspoons water. Make sure all of the threads are wet. In a jar, add another teaspoon of water and then add the soaked threads and water. Let this sit for at least 20 min if you can 2hrs would be ideal to get the most out of your saffron. NEVER use wood utensils when cooking with saffron. They will absorb all of the flavor.

Pre-heat the oven to 375.

Chop the squash into manageable hunks and toss with the olive oil, some salt and pepper. Spread on a baking pan and roast for about 40-50 min until soft. Toss once. I hate peeling this squash when it isn't cooked. So I suggest roasting it first, then removing the skin an chopping it into pieces that are about 3/4". Once roasted and chopped set a side.

In a sauce pan, bring the vegetable stock to a simmer and keep covered.

In a large saute pan, over medium-low heat melt the butter. Add the shallots and cook until they are soft. Add the rice, stir until it's coated with the mixture. Add in the first few ladle fulls of stock as well as the saffron mixture and some salt to taste.

Stir constantly, adding the stock a few ladles at a time as the rice gets dry. You should use almost all of the stock but not all. Cooking time will be about 30 minutes tasting the last few minutes. You want the rice to be al dente.

Add the grated cheese and squash. Heat until the squash is warmed up and serve immediately.