Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Recipe for Butternut Squash Gratin

This is one of my all-time favorite recipes for winter squash, and I think of it every year at the first hint of fall's chill in the air. Yesterday I made it for a wonderful woman who was craving butternut squash while she is recovering from surgery and trying to juggle a busy household. She definitely needs comforting!

The ingredients given here are approximate, as this is really a dish that you can adjust easily to the amount of squash you have. I love the Parmesan topping so tend to really pile that on.

Serve this with roasted turkey breast and the Warm Salad of Caramelized Brussels Sprouts with Maple-Balsamic Vinaigrette for a perfectly healthy and delicious fall meal.

Butternut Squash Gratin
Serves 4-6 as a side dish

8 c. butternut squash, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 large red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
Drizzle of olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary leaves
Coarse salt freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan, or more to your preference

Preheat oven to 400°F.
In a large bowl stir together squash, bell pepper, oil, garlic, herbs, black pepper, and salt to taste. Transfer mixture to a shallow baking dish and sprinkle evenly with Parmesan.
Bake casserole in middle of oven until squash is tender and top is golden, about 1 hour.

Bon Appétit!
Chef Debbie

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Important Correction to Maple-Balsamic Vinaigrette Recipe!

Thanks so much to my colleague, Lisa Brisch of Dinner Thyme Personal Chef Services in Wilmington, Delaware, for catching my mistake! Here is the correct, and very simple, recipe!

Maple-Balsamic Vinaigrette

1/4 c. good Vermont amber maple syrup
1/4 c. balsamic vinegar (not vinaigrette)
1/4 c. neutral vegetable oil, such as Canola or light olive oil

Whisk or blend all ingredients together until emulsified.

Bon Appétit!
Chef Debbie

Friday, September 12, 2008

A Warm Salad of Caramelized Brussels Sprouts with Maple-Balsamic Vinaigrette

We love love love Brussels sprouts, but I've discovered from my client food questionnaires that these little "Barbie cabbages" are one of the least popular of vegetables. I imagine that is because they are often overcooked and end up pale gray-green and mushy.

Brussels sprouts are available year-round in the frozen vegetable section of your local supermarket, and practically year-round in the fresh produce aisle.

I love it when I find them still on the stalk, as if they were just cut fresh from the garden. If you are lucky enough to find them this way in the late fall or early winter (when they are in season) just slice each sprout from the stalk, peel away any loose leaves, rinse well and steam in a bit of salted water in a saucepan or in the microwave until just barely tender when you pierce the stem end. They will continue cooking a bit after removing from the heat so don't cook them too long or they will end up that mushy texture that none of us likes. Then proceed with the following recipe. You can start with frozen sprouts, too...just cook them on high power in the microwave for 4 minutes and then continue with this recipe.

A Warm Salad of Caramelized Brussels Sprouts with Maple-Balsamic Vinaigrette

For Maple-Balsamic Vinaigrette*:
1/4 c. Vermont amber maple syrup
1/4 c. good quality balsamic vinegar
1/4 c. Canola or other neutral vegetable oil

Combine all ingredients in mini-blender or small bowl and whisk until emulsified. Reserve.

For Brussels Sprouts:
1 lb. steamed Brussels sprouts, cooked till barely tender
3 slices bacon, cooked until crisp
3 T. Vermont amber maple syrup
Salt and pepper to taste

Cut each sprout in half and place on layered paper towels, cut side down, to drain. Meanwhile, in a large non-stick skillet, cook bacon till crisp. Remove to paper towels and drain. Strain bacon fat to remove solids and return 2 T. of the fat to the skillet. Heat over medium-high heat and add sprouts, cut side down. Cook till golden brown and then add maple syrup. Stir to coat and cook a bit longer until glazed. Remove from heat. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Arrange on individual salad plates, garnish with crumbled bacon and drizzle with vinaigrette. Serve immediately.

*This recipe for Maple-Balsamic vinaigrette was shared with me by my friend and colleague Kim Onstott, of Your Place Gourmet personal chef service in Estrella Mountain Ranch, Arizona.

Bon Appétit!
Chef Debbie