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stuffed delicata squash: two ways

yumivore delicata squash (11)

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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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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accordion fingerling potatoes

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Every once in a while a side dish will steal the show. I first had these fingerling potatoes at a friend’s pool-side picnic and all of the guests found the dish to be a fun way to serve up spuds. Easy to prepare, these accordion-cut potatoes are a conversation-starter and remain memorable even while you’re clearing plates from the table. Adapted from Food & Wine magazine, here’s the recipe:

accordion fingerling potatoes
1 pound washed fingerling potatoes
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
Kosher salt or rock salt to taste
Fresh ground black pepper to taste
1-2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley for garnish

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Note: Try different seasoning options such as adding smoked paprika to the mix. Another option, in place of the parsley, add fresh chopped dill or rosemary to the olive oil and garlic mixture before tossing with the potatoes and placing in the oven.

Preheat the oven to 400°. In a small bowl, whisk the olive oil with the minced garlic and add seasoning. Wash the fingerling potatoes (keeping the skins on) then pat dry. Using a sharp paring knife, cut slits into each potato at intervals but be sure not to slice all the way through to the bottom. Toss the pototoes in the olive oil seasoning before placing on a baking sheet. Season with additional salt and pepper. Roast the potatoes with the cut sides up for roughly 35-40 minutes until golden and crisp. Transfer the potatoes to a platter, garnish before serving.

If you’ve ever wondered why potatoes are called spuds, a quick read shares some insight. And Bon Appétit shares the etymology of the word “potato” in their Eat Your Words section.

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watermelon radish and arugula salad

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Pale green or creamy white on the exterior, when sliced open watermelon radishes display an intense magenta rose color inside. The striations found along the outer rim give it a psychedelic tie-dye appeal, perfect for decorating any plate. Though visually striking, these radishes are mild in taste, just a hint peppery with a crisp flesh. This heirloom Chinese Daikon radish variety can be sliced thin with a mandoline to be used in salads, or be braised in a pot or roasted in the oven, prepared and served as you would other root vegetables. Relatively easy to source, the watermelon radish can be found at the market year-round.

This recipe is adapted from Michael Natkin’s herbivoracious cookbook and blog. Using seasonal ingredients, I omitted pomegranate seeds, swapped watercress for arugula and mixed greens, and opted for a creamy sheep’s feta cheese from Israel in place of the Parmigiano-Reggiano noted in the original mix. Easy to prepare, it’s a mild but beautiful salad that will perk up the table.

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watermelon radish and arugula salad
1 large watermelon radish, thinly sliced
4 ounces arugula (with optional mixed greens)
4 ripe figs, halved
1/2 cup toasted walnut halves
1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled or cubed
1 lemon
Extra-virgin olive oil
Flaky sea salt
Fresh ground black pepper

Serves four

Toss the watermelon radish in a bit of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon. I recommend using California Olive Ranch Miller’s Blend which is slightly peppery in taste and will enhance the dish. Arrange the radish slices on each individual plate, or use a large tray and serve family-style. Next, toss the arugula with olive oil and the remaining lemon juice, then place a handful of the seasoned greens on top of the radish slices. Add the figs, toasted walnut halves and feta cheese to the plate. Sprinkle with coarse sea salt and a bit of fresh ground black pepper, then serve immediately. Grab a fork and enjoy!

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petals for breakfast

“The earth laughs in flowers.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson
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A beautiful way to turn simple toast into something special- top it with petals. Edible flowers are a common ingredient or addition to dishes in Northern California, but the idea to add flowers to my toast stems from a whimsical meal made by fellow food-blogging friend Sarah Melamed of Food Bridge who is across the globe in Israel. No doubt, a bouquet of petals scattered on the plate will turn any bite it into edible art.

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Flowers on Toast
To impress a guest or even for your own repose:
Start with hearty bread. Here, Tartine Bakery’s walnut loaf sliced relatively thin for toast.
Select your favorite cheese. I used labneh, but a cream cheese, creamy goat cheese, triple-cream – any spreadable soft white cheese will do.
Add seasoning. To the labneh I mixed in a bit of finely chopped parsley and garlic along with a spritz of lemon and salt before slathering it on my toast.
Top your bread with edible petals. Pansies added color to my plate. Mustard flowers, white wild radish flowers, roses, yellow arugula flowers – check your market for local flowers that are in season.

Flowers have been part of our meals since antiquity. For a detailed list of edible flowers and its culinary history see:
Edible Flowers
Harvesting Edible Wildflowers
The History of Edible Flowers
A Feast of Flowers – An Epicure’s Guide to Edible Flowers
Recipes and tips for growing, cooking, and eating flowers

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mint and berry ice cubes

yumivore berry ice cubes

A great way to add a little pizzaz to a club soda or even a cocktail, freeze berries into ice cubes for a pop of color. Select fruit that’s in season such as raspberries, blueberries or strawberries, or try mint leaves or even lemon wedges – the possibilities are endless on what to add to ice to perk up your drink. Unless the fruit is puréed before freezing, don’t expect a lot of flavor in your glass, just a hint when the ice cubes melt, but the additional berries or mint does add a bit of flair. And certainly your eyes deserve something cool as well!

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roasted eggplant with moroccan charmoula

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Charmoula is a robust Moroccan marinade that is bursting with flavor. It’s most often used as a marinade or dry rub with fish, but the sauce lends itself to vegetables as well and is an exciting blend to try with eggplants. Charmoula, also spelled chermoula, is a mix of herbs, spices, crushed garlic, olive oil and lemon juice. It’s simple to make, and simply adds a world of flavor to a dish.

Recipes for charmoula are easy to find and popular throughout Northern Africa and the Middle East. This recipe comes from one of the most prolific writers and cookbook authors on Moroccan cuisine, Paula Wolfert. Her book ‘The Food of Morocco’ (which hit shelves in 2011) is an exquisite and colorful journey through Morocco for the eyes and palate. Pick up a few eggplants at the market, also known as aubergines, along with a few basic ingredients and you’re on your way to taste of the Marrakesh.

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Charmoula
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon Moroccan paprika
pinch of cayenne
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt to taste

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Place all of the ingredients in a bowl. Whisk together, then set aside for at least a half an hour to give the sauce some time for the flavors to mellow and meld together. Mix again just before adding it to the eggplant.

Cilantro is a popular herb used in Moroccan cuisine. For some though the flavor of it can pose a challenge, thus simply substitute the cilantro with more parsley. Fresh squeezed lemon is ideal in this sauce, but if not accessible, vinegar can be used in its place. Moroccan paprika is a more vibrant red compared with its Hungarian counterpart, and it’s also moistened with a hint of olive oil that’s blended in. Here I use a Moroccan paprika ground by hand that I acquired in Israel. Penzeys Spices or Whole Spice Market in California may carry Moroccan paprika, and Moroccan cumin as well, if you’re curious to give both spices a try. Good quality ingredients, as with any dish, makes a difference, as does the flavor of the olive oil you choose. Olive oils have different flavor profiles; here I used a versatile extra virgin olive oil that has a bit of a buttery and fruity aroma from California Olive Ranch.

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For the eggplants, slice two medium eggplants, spread out each slice separately on a cutting board, then sprinkle a bit of kosher salt on top of each and set aside for about 10 minutes. This method enables the eggplants to sweat and helps remove some of the bitter juices. Dry each slice with a paper towel before turning and applying the same technique to the other side.

Wolfert calls for a two-step process in her book to prevent the eggplants from acting as a sponge and absorbing an excess amount of olive oil. There are several options to preparing the eggplants for you to consider. The first is frying, which as noted, will drench the eggplants in oil. Another is to lightly coat or brush them with olive oil to crisp up in a hot 425 degree oven, then finish frying them on the stovetop; the baking-then-frying method enables you to use a lot less oil. Another option is to simply heat the eggplants (that were first roasted in the oven) in a dry frying pan (just before serving) no additional olive oil required. Yet another method is to heat the eggplants in a GreenPan roasting dish; vegetables don’t usually stick to this material and can be roasted dry. Lastly, there’s always the option to prepare the eggplants on the grill.

Frying or roasting with the added olive will result in a crispier dish, but I found that I don’t miss the extra oil once the eggplants are smothered with the sauce. It’s a matter of preference. Whichever route you choose, place your roasted eggplants on a serving dish, then smother them with the charmoula marinade. The dish can be served warm or room temperature; garnish with extra herbs once plated and enjoy!

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Notes:
For more details on why some find cilantro to be offensive, read more on cilantro and soap in the New York Times. Miller’s Blend by California Olive Ranch is an olive oil I use regularly, and they were kind to provide me with Everyday California Extra Virgin Olive Oil as a sample to taste. For friends who are part of the Tasting Jerusalem community, and all are welcome to join the group, there’s a Chermoula Aubergine and Bulgar recipe to try. And I highly recommend Wolfert’s book for even more dishes with charmoula and as an incredible source for Moroccan cuisine.

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