Pumpkin “Carbonara”

There is a little cheese on this

There is a little cheese on this

This pasta sauce is really creamy and thick and although it has no eggs it does taste like carbonara.

Pumpkin Carbonara

  • 2 1/2 lbs fresh pumpkin diced into 1/2″ cubes
  • 1/2 cup red onion diced fine
  • 3 tbsp garlic minced
  • 3 tbsp oregano chopped fine
  • 4-5 strips pancetta cut into 1″ rashers
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 cup romano grated fine
  • 1 lb fettucini

In a large saute pan cook pancetta over medium low heat until fat is rendered and strips are crisp. Remove to a towel lined plate. Add onion and saute until golden, then add pumpkin and garlic. Continue to saute until pumpkin begins to brown. Add wine, turn heat to medium high and deglaze pan. Add oregano, cayenne pepper and broth and bring to a boil. Turn heat down and simmer pumpkin until soft and liquid has reduced by half. Meanwhile cook pasta in boiling salted water and reserve 1-2 cups pasta water when done. Blend pumpkin to a puree. Add pasta and puree back to the pan with enough pasta water to thin it so it can mix with the fettucini. Cook sauce until thick and evenly coating all pasta, then add cheese and let stand 5 minutes. Serve with cooked pancetta and more cheese.

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Sesame Crusted Tofu

Tofu can be a little unhealthy

Tofu can be a little unhealthy

This is a great appetizer or small plate. The dipping sauce can be hotter if desired just add more dried pepper.

Sesame Crusted Tofu

  • 1 lb firm tofu pressed for at least 8 hours
  • 1tbsp ginger minced
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/3 cup lime juice
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2-3 dried chili de arbols diced fine
  • 3 tbsp bread crumbs
  • 4 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 1 egg beaten with 2 tsp rice wine vinegar

Mix ginger, garlic, lime juice, fish sauce, sugar and chilis in a bowl and let sit for 3-4 hours. Taste and adjust for seasoning. Slice tofu in half and then slice the halves into 3 long thin slabs. Mix breadcrumbs and seeds together in a bowl. Dredge slices in egg wash then coat in seeds. When all are done heat enough oil in a large frying pan over medium high heat and pan fry slices until golden on both sides. Serve hot with dipping sauce.

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Vegetarian Stuffed Acorn Squash

These squash were about 5" long

These squash were about 5″ long

Use smaller acorn squash to turn this into a first course. The amount of feta is a suggestion, more is always allowed.

Vegetarian Stuffed Acorn Squash

  • 1 1/2 lbs acorn squash sliced in half seeds and pulp scooped out
  • 1 leek quartered and sliced fine
  • 1 cup sun dried tomatoes
  • 3-4 chili de arbols
  • 3/4 cup artichoke hearts chopped roughly
  • 1 cup chanterelle mushrooms sliced small
  • 2 cups cooked brown rice
  • 3 tbsp carrot tops chopped fine, or parsley
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • Vegetable broth
  • 6 ounces feta cheese
  • Salt/pepper

Soak tomatoes and chilis in 1 cup boiling water until cool. Remove, saving liquid, and chop roughly. Place squash halves flesh down in a baking dish with some water in it. Steam in oven at 375 degrees until a knife can pass through the thickest part fairly easy. Remove from water pan and let cool then place on a baking sheet and season inside cavity with olive oil, salt and pepper. In a large saute pan heat 2 tbsp olive oil over medium heat and add chilis and mustard seed. Coat in oil and fry for a minute then add leeks. Saute until softened, then add mushrooms. Cook until mushrooms begin to brown then add tomatoes and artichoke hearts. Saute for 2 minutes then add enough vegetable broth to deglaze pan. Add rice and mix well then add soaking liquid and a little more vegetable broth to turn mixture into a thick stew. Cook down until rice reabsorbs liquid and mixture is the consistency of thick oatmeal. Remove from heat and add cheese and carrot tops. Mix well and pack into squash cavities. Bake squash at 375 degrees until stuffing begins to brown on top, about 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand 10 minutes before serving.

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Salmon Cakes with Tahini Sauce

They are almost as good as crab

They are almost as good as crab

This is a great way to use up leftover grilled salmon. The finished cakes can just be baked if you want a healthier option. Just place on a parchment lined baking sheet.

Salmon Cakes with Tahini Cream Sauce

  • 1 lb grilled salmon crumbled
  • 1/2 cup red onion diced fine
  • 1 cup red bell pepper diced fine
  • 3 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup mayo
  • 1 tbsp fennel fronds chopped fine
  • 1 cup bread crumbs

Mix everything but breadcrumbs and form into patties. Coat the outside of the patties in breadcrumbs and refrigerate for 1 hour. Heat some vegetable oil over medium high and pan fry cakes until browned flipping once. Place on a baking dish lined with parchment paper and continue until all are done. Bake a 365 degrees until heated through, about 15 minutes. serve drizzled with sauce over a bed of shredded kale or cabbage.

To make sauce mix 3/4 cup greek yogurt, 1 tbsp tahini paste, 1 tbsp lemon juice, 1/4 cup white wine and1/2 tsp paprika together until creamy.

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Maple Grilled Salmon Steaks

They look like goldfish crackers

They look like goldfish crackers

This is a simple marinade for any strong flavored fish. Grill over direct heat to caramelize the syrup.

Maple Cider Marinade

  • 3-4 1 1/2″ salmon steaks
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup hard apple cider
  • 4 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp cardamon
  • Salt/pepper

Season salmon with cardamon, salt and pepper. Mix everything else together and marinade for 2 hours flipping once. Grill until cooked through.

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Ground Cherry Sauce

They taste like a mix between grapes and tomatoes

They taste like a mix between grapes and tomatoes

This sauce is excellent over multiple types of meat. Here it is on some roast chicken breast but really the sky is the limit.

Ground cherries are very interesting. They behave much like unripe cherry tomatoes and it is no surprise that they are used in salads, compotes and salsas much the same way. They are also excellent added to fruit fillings for desserts or as a jam. Having just discovered them I hope to find a large supply to experiment with. They keep for a week refrigerated in the paper skins and look like this.

The husks make them look like tomatillos

The husks make them look like tomatillos

Ground Cherry Sauce

  • 1 cup ground cherries husks removed and quartered
  • 1/2 cup finely diced red onion
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 tbsp butter

Melt butter over medium heat and saute onion until golden. Add cherries and thyme and cook until fruit can be mashed with the back of a spoon. Add wine, bring to a simmer and add thyme and sugar. Cook down until slightly thickened mashing about 1/2 the cherries. Serve hot.

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Pumpkin Farro Risotto

Edible decorative bowl optional

Edible decorative bowl optional

There are a number of smaller pumpkin varieties in the pacific northwest, the type pictured is roughly 3-5 lbs and about the size of a cannon ball. Any type of pumpkin will work for this, just harvest enough flesh for about 2 cups of puree. Remember to toast the seeds for a tasty snack or excellent addition to the top.

The flavor of the pumpkin is perfect with the nutty flavor of the farro but normal arborio rice can be used instead.

Pumpkin Farro Risotto

  • 1 3-4 lb whole pumpkin
  • 2 cups farro
  • 1 red onion diced fine
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/4 cup grated romano
  • 4-5 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 3 star anise
  • Salt/pepper

The night, or at least 8 hours, before cooking rinse farro and soak in cold water. Cut pumpkin in half and scoop out seeds and pulp. Toast seeds. Place pumpkin flesh side down on a baking sheet with 1 cup of water and roast at 365 degrees until cooked through, about 45 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.  scoop out flesh and mash into a rough puree, pouring off any excess water. If using the pumpkin halves as bowls then leave enough flesh to hold sides up. Heat chicken broth to a low simmer with star anise. Drain farro. In a large saute pan melt 2 tbsp butter and saute onion over medium low until golden. Add farro, stir to coat and cook until it begins to crisp slightly. Add wine and cook down over medium heat until absorbed. Begin adding broth 1 cup at a time the same way when cooking standard risotto. When farro begins to soften add pumpkin and thyme stir in very well. season with salt and pepper and continue adding broth 1 cup at a time until creamy. Remove from heat stir in cheese and let set 10 minutes. Serve in the pumpkin halves or not with toasted seeds on top.

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