stuffed delicata squash: two ways

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Stuffed delicata squash is a fantasic fall dish. Creamy sweet inside like a sweet potato, one of the benefits of this winter squash is that the rind can be roasted and eaten, another is that it’s easy to slice into. Squash boats can accomodate a wide range of stuffing variations which overall are easy to prepare. It’s a meal that can satisfy meat lovers to vegivores alike. It also makes for an impressive side dish. Recipe and directions below.

Roasted Squash
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Slice two prewashed squash lengthwise. Using a spoon, scoop out the seeds. Drizzle or rub a 1/4 teaspoon of olive oil on all sides, and set the squash face down in a baking plan. Place in the oven for roughly 15-20 minutes. The squash should be soft yet firm.

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Mushroom Stuffed Delicata Squash
1 cup chopped mushrooms such as cremini, button, shiitake or a mix
1 medium diced shallot
1 tablespoon vegetable broth
1 1/2 tablespoons seasoned breadcrumbs
2-3 teaspoons Parmesean cheese
1 1/2 tablespoons sunflower or canola oil
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
Kosher salt to taste
ground black pepper to taste
* 1 delicata squash

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While the squash is roasting in the oven, begin preparing the stuffing. Heat the oil in a pan and add the shallots followed by the chopped mushrooms. Add a dash of salt and cook on medium heat for several minutes until the mushrooms reduce. Then add the liquid to the pan and continue cooking. Add a bit of the breadcrumbs and mix thoroughly. The mixture should be moist, not too dry. The cheese can be added at this stage, leaving a bit to top the squash. If aiming for a vegan dish, omit the cheese altogether. Add the seasoning, taste and adjust as needed. When the squash is out of the oven, gently scoop out the center and add it to the pan. Be sure to leave the rind intact. Mix the squash with the mushroom mixture. When combined, spoon the stuffing into both sides of the squash. Sprinkle with the remaining breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese. Place the stuffed squash back into a baking dish and into the oven for 20 minutes. Remove when the top is slighghtly brown. Garnish before serving.

Sausage Stuffed Delicata Squash
1 sausage link, decased
1 medium diced shallot
1 1/2 tablespoons seasoned breadcrumbs
2-3 teaspoons Parmesean cheese
1 1/2 tablespoons sunflower or canola oil
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme or oregano
Kosher salt to taste
ground black pepper to taste
* 1 delicata squash

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Similar to the mushroom-stuffed preparation above, while the squash is roasting in the oven, begin preparing the stuffing. Heat the oil in a pan and add the shallots followed by the sausage. Add a bit of the breadcrumbs and cheese, leaving a bit to top the squash later, mix thoroughly. Add the seasoning, taste and adjust as needed. When the squash is out of the oven, gently scoop out the center and add it to the pan. Be sure to leave the rind intact. Mix the squash with the sausage mixture. When the sausage is browned and combined with the squash, spoon the stuffing into both sides of the squash boat. Sprinkle with the remaining breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese. Place the stuffed squash back into a baking dish and into the oven for 20 minutes. Garnish with chopped scallions or parsely before serving.

Stuffed delicious delicata squash. Enjoy!

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thanksgivukkah: the latke turkey sandwich

yumivore thanksgivukkah latkes

Dominique Ansel, a now famous pastry chef in New York, burst onto the scene this year with his creative invention, the half-croissant half-doughnut, the Cronut. This year also brought us the Ramen Burger, a juicy burger wedged in between crispy-fried ramen patties. Hybrid foods are nothing new though. Take the Iraqi-style sabich sandwich in Israel. Sabich is an acronym in Hebrew for salat salad, baytzim eggs, and chatizilim eggplant. A twist on falafel, pickles included, the sabich proves that food just fits well in pita. But back to 2013, perhaps this year will be best remembered for the holiday mashup of Thanksgiviukkah and the creative dishes that’s to be dished up with it. That’s right, the convergence of two holidays on one table. The last time Thanksgiving and Hanukkah fell on the same date? Only once before in 1888 and won’t happen again for another 78,000 years.

So how does one celebrate Thanksgivukkah? Latkes alone feels like an entire Thanksgiving feast after you’ve eaten a few. Surprisingly, there are quite a few dishes that can capture the flavor of both holidays in one bite. Behold one such solution: The Latke Turkey Sandwich. Assembly required, recipe below.

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For this dish, you’ll need slightly larger than usual latkes that are also a bit firmer to hold the weight of the turkey meat. I modified my mother’s potato pancake recipe adding more egg and matzo meal to the latke batter. I also formed the potato pancakes into patties before dropping them into the frying pan.

Large Potato Latkes
1-1/4 pounds large potatoes, peeled (the russet potato works best for frying)
1 medium onion
1 + 1/2 an egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper, to taste
1/4 teaspoon black pepper, to taste
3-4 tablespoons matzo meal
1/2 cup or more of vegetable oil (or canola oil)

Follow directions found here: My Mother’s Potato Pancake (Latke) Recipe via Faye Levy’s International Jewish Cookbook. When you’re ready to place the latkes (levivot in Hebrew) into the pan, first form them into patties. The extra matzo meal and egg will bind the batter together and allow you to do so.

The sauce for this sandwich is simple. Combine your favorite apple sauce with a chunky cranberry one. Homemade or from your favorite market, mixing cranberries and apples makes a delicious concoction, the fruit based sauces blend beautifully well together. Of course a lakte turkey sandwich needs turkey. Select your favorite cut (and tofurkey or other vegetarian protein works well too) to add to the mix. When you’re ready to serve, spread the sauce onto two latkes, place the turkey in between and serve warm.

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Hot, crispy savory potato latkes straight out of the pan, with slightly tart and a hint sweet cranberry applesauce with juicy turkey wedged in between – it’s the best of both holidays all in one bite. Serve it up on Thanksgiving, the first night of Hanukkah for dinner, it’s fancy enough to be a main meal. Or make it for lunch, it’s a great sandwich solution for turkey leftovers. I can assure you, it’s so scrumptious, you don’t need to be Jewish to enjoy this.

For more Thanksgiving + Hanukkah = Thanksgivukkah ideas, see How To Celebrate Thanksgivukkah, The Best Holiday Of All Time. There’s also Carve the Turkey and Pass the Latkes, as Holidays Converge. I think even Seinfeld fans who celebrate Festivus would agree, Thanksgivukkah is going to be something.

Happy Hannukah, Thanksgiving, Thanksgivukkah, and may it be a delicious holiday.

For past Hannukah related posts see:
potato pancakes
sweet sufganiyot and the foods of hannukah

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drakes bay oyster farm

“He was a bold man that first ate an oyster.” -Jonathan Swift

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When you drive up to Marin County, there’s a good chance you’ll spot signs for Save Our Drakes Bay Oyster Farm. The signs are visible throughout Napa and Sonoma as well. And they become even more visible as you get closer to Point Reyes. Hand-painted with a simple message, they reflect a community that cares. A historic farm, owned by a third-generation ranching family, Drakes “provides local jobs and a sustainable food product that supports local businesses.”

Fog-filled skies, cold weather along the marsh and bay, an afternoon in pictures.

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“As I ate the oysters with their strong taste of the sea and their faint metallic taste that the cold white wine washed away, leaving only the sea taste and the succulent texture, and as I drank their cold liquid from each shell and washed it down with the crisp taste of the wine, I lost the empty feeling and began to be happy and to make plans.” -Ernest Hemingway

Drakes Bay is a great spot for a picnic with friends to enjoy delectable fresh oysters. The Oyster Shack will shuck the oysters for you, or give you a quick tutorial so you can give it a try on your own. For more about the plight of Drakes Bay, visit:

Alliance for Local Sustainable Agriculture
Appeals court deals blow to Drakes Bay Oyster Co.
Drakes Bay Oyster Company Will Be Forced To Close [Update: Maybe Not]

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grapes and hops: harvest at hawley vineyards

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Midafternoon, temperatures in the mid-eighties in October and blazing sun above, it wasn’t an ideal time of day for a photo a shoot. From my lens, everything outside was drenched in yellow sunlight. But learning that crush was underway at Hawley Winery and Vineyards, it was a story I didn’t want my camera to miss, regardless if the light was cooperating or not. Meandering through Dry Creek Valley, my visit to the winery was somewhat impromptu. Though they have a tasting room located in downtown Healdsburg, my heart loves being around vines.

Traveling with a friend and enjoying the backroads, we found ourselves heading up Bradford Mountain and couldn’t have ventured over to the vineyard at a better time. We were warmly greeted by Paul Hawley, General Manager, assistant winemaker, grape wrangler and hop grower. A family affair producing small-batch wines, everyone at Hawley wears many hats, and at harvest time, all hands are on deck. While waiting for a truckload of Zinfandel grapes to arrive from Ponzo Vineyards for crush, Paul treated us to a taste.

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Popping a cork, we poured Sauvignon Blanc first. Cool, crisp and clean, it was a refreshing splash in the hot weather. Paul shared how he was inspired to make this varietal after working harvest in New Zealand. Known for their Viognier, and what prompted my visit, the 2012 proved to be “a vintage to celebrate”. I first tasted Hawley at Locals Tasting Room in Geyserville a few years back. Discovering that I love Côtes du Rhône style wines, their Viognier made a lasting impression. Viognier is one of the approved white wine grapes that’s permitted to grow in the Rhone Valley in France. In California, American Rhone varietal wines have surged, and thus too the Viognier has grown in popularity. The challenge is finding Hawley Viognier though as they produce their wines in small quantities and have limited distribution.

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With the truck delayed, we ventured over to see the hops growing across from the vineyard. Paul filled us in about his new project, Fogbelt Brewing Company. Using both locally and estate-grown hops, with the intent to plant more in the coming spring, Fogbelt is brewing up Red Ale, Blond Ale, Stout, IPA and Witbier. Witbier, a Belgian style ale that’s “pale and cloudy in appearance” is traditionally made and lightly spiced with coriander and orange peel. A play on that theme, Fogbelt has a fresh twist in store using cilantro and Kaffir lime leaves.

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The fruit finally arrived and a flurry of activity got underway. I had gotten my hands dirty earlier in the season by taking part in harvest, crush and punchdown in the Santa Cruz mountains. I was excited to finally capture a few stages of the wine-making process with my camera. The typical winery equipment was set in motion. A forklift hauled the Zinfandel-filled bins from the truck and arranged each closer to the hopper, a destemming machine.

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Paul had a chance to share some interesting insight about Zinfandel grapes while his brother Austin was working the forklift. Paul noted that “often people think it’s Pinot that’s hard to work with, but Zin, it’s hard to predict the perfect time to pick.” “You can’t pick Zin from the [Brix] numbers alone. It’s not just about sugar numbers. It’s important to be out in the vineyard tasting the fruit, evaluating the look of the clusters. He emphasized it’s “really important to taste the berries.” In an article, wine journalist Talia Baiocchi shed some light on the grape: “Zinfandel is uniquely prone to uneven ripening, where both raisins and green berries exist on the same grape cluster at the same time.” This is exactly what Paul pointed out as he reached into the bins. The uneven ripening poses a challenge as fermentation gets underway.

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Heading inside, Paul poured a range of more wine and pulled a sample of the 2013 Oehlman Vineyard Pinot, which he shared is aged in 50% new French oak, iridescent, and is partially through malolactic fermentation.

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We chatted more about production and the wine-making process. Garland Wine Merchants has an extensive profile on Hawley Wines and thoughts from winemaker John Hawley, who notes that following in the French tradition, Hawley Viognier is fermented in “5 to 8 year old French oak barrels by choice to produce a wine with a silky texture, complex flavors and delicate balance that help make [the] wine more versatile with food, more age worthy, and more harmonious as a whole“.

I may have initially gone to Hawley to simply pick-up a bottle of Viognier. I didn’t anticipate leaving with several bottles (including one gift) of wine, a host of pictures, deeper knowledge about Zinfandel grapes, and a new friend.

Hawley’s Tasting Room and Gallery is located in downtown Healdsburg, California. Or call ahead to schedule time at the winery in Dry Creek, you’ll enjoy the visit.

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dutch puff pancake

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A simple-to-make pancake with several names, I first tasted this along the Turquoise Trail in New Mexico. My host called it a Dutch Puff, though it also goes by the name Dutch Baby or German Pancake. Fluffy-light but filling, the soufflé-crêpe-popover-esque pancake whips up in no time and makes for an impressive plate. The batter can be blended together the night prior and then heated in the oven to serve on the spot. It’s a perfect dish to serve for breakfast or brunch, and it can be topped with a range of jams, jellies or marmalade, fresh fruit or dusted with seasoned sugar. Serve it for dinner or dessert, it won’t disappoint, it’s delicious.

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Dutch Puff Pancake
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 eggs
3/4 cup whole milk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup sugar

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. In a medium cast-iron pan, melt 2 tablespoons of butter (ensure that it doesn’t brown) and set aside. In a blender, combine the eggs, milk, flour, salt, vanilla, and 1/4 cup sugar. Blend until smooth and foamy, about 1 minute. Pour the batter into your skillet; bake until the pancake is fluffy like a soufflé and lightly brown,roughly 20 minutes. Serve immediately while hot. Don’t expect any leftovers.

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along the turquoise trail

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Flying in to Albuquerque, New Mexico from there I took the Turquoise Trail to reach Santa Fe and spent a night at a Bed and Breakfast on a ranch along the way. A National Scenic Byway, Highway 14 starts to get interesting once you reach Madrid. A small old mining town that’s full of character, it’s a quaint stop. It’s also full of dust, but bright colors splashed everywhere from stores to mailboxes makes up for it. The Mine Shaft Tavern is a must-stop to enjoy a local beer and catch Harley riders. It also happens to be a historic saloon, and a gem of a spot. The locals quickly pointed out it’s pronounced Maad-rid unlike the city in Spain. There’s plenty of art studios, galleries, vintage shops and cowboy boots to find along the main street. Venturing on to Cerrillos, you’ll feel as though you ventured back in time. It’s a quintessential old American Western town. A number of films have been made in the area, it captures the heart of the West. Though you won’t find turquoise along the way, one of the best things about sleeping in one of the resorts or ranches along the trail is that you will find a multitude of stars at night. Serene and peaceful is the best way to describe my overnight stay. A short trip, with still more to explore, I hope to venture back.

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For more posts on New Mexico, have a taste of Chimayó Chiles.

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chimayó chiles

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San Francisco Chronicle’s Michael Bauer spent time in Santa Fe earlier this month and shared a taste of his visit to the city’s farmer’s market for a green chile cheeseburger smackdown. With harvest behind, bushels of peppers to buy and festivals to look forward to, it’s prime chile season in New Mexico this time of year. Reading about it reminded me of my own trip to the Land of Enchantment a couple of years back, and it served as an incentive to revisit and dish up my own memories.

With the exception of staying a few nights along The Turquoise Trail, Santa Fe served as my home base for the duration of my visit to New Mexico allowing me to take leisurely day trips to nearby places of interest. With the hopes of capturing postcard views, I set my sites on a northeastern town that promised adobes and an opportunity to experience local culture.

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Destination: Chimayó
Roughly 28 miles heading northeast from Santa Fe along what’s dubbed as the high-desert corridor, I set out to see El Santuario de Chimayóm, an old adobe church that’s visited by thousands of pilgrims each year. Food is always on my mind, but traveling a bit on a whim I hadn’t realized at the time that Chimayó is not only a draw for its church, but it’s also famous for its chiles. I learned this along the way when I stopped at a roadside stand selling green and red heirloom peppers along with locally grown squash.

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Harvested in late summer, Chimayó chiles are picked when green, or left longer to ripen on the vine and then picked later in the fall when a lush red. The red dried peppers are strung into chains or wreaths that are called ristras or dried and ground into a chile molido or powder. Though both are from the same plant, the green chiles tend to be fleshier than their red counterparts. The red peppers tend to exhibit a deeper, richer flavor. The founders of the Chimayo Chile Project describe the flavor of these peppers as “chocolaty with more flavor than heat” and “if sunbaked they get an added tang”. Red or green, chiles are synonymous with New Mexico’s cuisine and are incorporated into almost all traditional dishes.

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The Chimayó Chile Project grows its chiles using “natural cultivation methods” and is intent on preserving the seeds to pass on to future generations. These heirlooms have a long history, arriving with the Spanish to the New World more than 300 years ago. Similar to wine, “terroir” and uniqueness of place is important to this industry as well as the state goes to great lengths to protect its name affiliated with these premium homegrown peppers.

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If you’re curious for more about Chimayó chiles and for a taste, here are a few reads and recipes:
Chimayó’s Chile Culture Saveur
Mrs. Sanchez’s Red Chile Sauce Saveur
Huntley Dent’s Red Chile Sauce Serious Eats
Chimayó-Chile Risotto with Shiitake Mushrooms Food & Wine

While you have chiles on your mind, be sure to checkout East of Eden’s Chili Corn Bread made with Hatch chiles, a variety also grown in New Meixco.

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wise sons deli

photos du jour: a taste of Wise Sons Deli

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Wise Sons Jewish Delicatessen on 24th Street in the Mission, San Francisco
Wise Sons Deli
Getting Wise: How a community helped build a deli

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