Key Lime & Coconut

My adventures in the world of food & wine

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

What To Do With Your Jack-O-Lantern's Guts

After you've gutted your pumpkin to make a Halloween jack-o-lantern (such as my McDreamy masterpiece), what to do with all the goop you've scooped out? Easy -- wash the seeds and roast them with some spices. This recipe doesn't require a rocket scientist's intellect (or even, say, a Harvard Law student's). To be honest, it's pretty hard to mess up. Just coat your cleaned-up pumpkin seeds with some oil, toss in salt and whatever spices you like (my suggestion follows), and roast. Enjoy as a salty complement to all those sugary candies and sweets you've indulged in today.

Spiced Pumpkin Seeds (borrowed from my new How to Cook Everything cookbook)
  • Fresh pumpkin seeds, washed and patted dry with paper towels
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (or less if you're a wimp like me)
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
Combine oil, salt, cayenne pepper, and cumin in a bowl. Add pumpkin seeds and toss until coated. Spread out on a baking sheet and roast at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until golden brown.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Autumnal Treat

I have a big fat bag full of apples in my fridge. I bought it at the farmer's market 2 weeks ago and I'm still trying to figure out ways to use these apples (besides eating them out of hand - they are delicious!). Last night I had a fancy for apple bread, and I sensed an opportunity to test out a recipe from my newest cookbook - Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything.

This cookbook is really fantastic. It teaches you how to cook just about, yes, everything. Not only that, but it has tons of instruction on basic techniques and preparations, and lots of handy diagrams. (Thanks to Kalyn for the recommendation in her blog!) The recipe I picked out is for Apple Quickbread, but I'll call it Apple-Cranberry Quickbread because I threw in some fresh cranberries. I also substituted rolled oats for the 1/2 cup of cornmeal that the book recommended. This bread is so good! I had a nice thick slice of it before bed last night, still warm out of the oven, smeared with a bit of Neufchatel cheese.

Apple-Cranberry Quickbread
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup whole wheat flour
  • ½ cup rolled oats
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 1 egg
  • ½ stick melted butter
  • 1 ¼ cups milk
  • 1 peeled and grated apple
  • 3/4 cup fresh or frozen cranberries (not thawed)

Preheat the oven to 350. Butter a 9x5 ich loaf pan. Combine all the dry ingredients. Beat the egg with the butter and milk. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour the wet ingredients into it, along with the apple and cranberries. Using a large spoon or rubber spatula, combine the ingredients swiftly, stirring and folding rather than beating, and stopping as soon as all the dry ingredients are moistened. The batter should be lumpy, not smooth. Pour into the prepared loaf pan and bake about an hour, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out dry. Cool on a rack for at least 10 minutes before removing from pan.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

A Tale of Two Brunches

This weekend I had two very different brunches. Yesterday afternoon, the HLS gang went to the Langham Hotel in Boston for their chocolate brunch. We kind of thought that it would be a normal brunch with extra chocolate desserts, but no... it was just chocolate. Imagine a huge room filled with about 10 tables of elaborate chocolate desserts. Chocolate creme brulee, chocolate crepes, chocolate fondue, a billion kinds of chocolate brownies, cookies, cakes, pastries... it was pretty nauseating. There was an astonishing number of people walking around mumbling about how badly they wanted to vomit. We didn't eat for too long before we too were stumbling around clutching our tummies, eyes glazed over, half-comatose. I took a couple of pictures before my brain stopped functioning entirely. First, my own plate; second, Kate's amazing chocolate crepe.

Today we had a much more normal brunch. I invited everybody over for some home-cooked yumminess. I did a lot of prep last night so this morning all I really had to do was stick stuff into the oven. I made a really good casserole that I somehow came up with - I basically cooked up some frozen hashbrowns, chopped-up bell peppers and onions, and crumbled breakfast sausage in a skillet, then poured them into a baking dish. Then I beat 10 eggs, stirred them into the mixture, topped the whole thing with lots of cheddar cheese, and baked it at 375 degrees for about 40 minutes.

I also made my mom's famous pinch-me-cake (recipe follows). My mom makes this stuff every Christmas morning, and I thought it would be fun to share with my friends for brunch. It was the first time I tried to make it myself, and it turned out great!

Big Eth's Famous Pinch-Me-Cake
  • Bridgeford (or similar) frozen, unrisen bread dough - rolls or loaf
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1/4 c. brown sugar
  • 2 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
Let the frozen dough thaw out (about 4 hours at room temperature or overnight in the fridge) until the dough is still cold but has not yet begun to rise. Melt the butter and pour into a bowl. In another bowl, mix the sugar, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Pinch off pieces of the bread dough and roll it in the butter and then sugar-cinnamon mixture. Line up the dough pieces in whatever pan you want to bake the cake in (loaf pans, 8x12, etc. - doesn't matter). You can do this the night before or make in the morning, but either way, you have to leave the pans out at room temperature for about an hour to let the dough rise. When they're risen, bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

P.S. just for fun - the pumpkin I carved a few days ago. Can you guess which TV character it is?

Thursday, October 26, 2006

One of My Favorite SB Meals

Good news - the South Beach week is going well so far. Three days and I've lost 3 pounds, though of course I'm sure all of it is water weight. It's still nice to look at the scale and see the numbers going down. This is all preventative so that I can go back to my preferred gluttonous lifestyle, but I have to admit, even when I'm on SB I don't really feel like I'm depriving myself at all. That's because I can eat so many things that I love while I'm on this "diet."

One of those things that I love, and can eat on this diet, is Indian food. Tonight I made one of my favorite SB recipes, the Indian Chicken from the South Beach Quick & Easy Cookbook. I have made this dish three or four times now, and I still have not gotten tired of it. I made a big batch and plan on eating the leftovers tomorrow for lunch.

This dish is also a crowd-pleaser even for those not on South Beach. I'd serve those lucky folks a side of brown or basmati rice to soak up the delicious coconutty and flavorful juices.

I didn't drink any wine with dinner tonight (very sadly) because I'm trying to stay away from it while I'm doing my week o' detox, but I would recommend an off-dry riesling (I had a very great and inexpensive bottle the other week that seems to be widely available). Red wine would also pair great with this dish because it's not spicy - maybe something like a young, fruity grenache.

Indian Chicken
(serves 4)
  • 1 1/2 lbs chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 1 can light coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
Season chicken well with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add onion, garlic, curry powder, and ginger to the same skillet. Cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add cauliflower, coconut milk, and broth; cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Add chicken back to the pan and cook until sauce is thickened and reduced, about 5 minutes. Serve hot.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Snappy South Beach Dinner

I'm back on South Beach for the week - I need to detox after about a month of eating and drinking with utter abandon. It's going well so far. I made myself a yummy dinner so that I wouldn't be too sad about making myself eat healthily for the next few days. It was super quick, too, which is good because I was starving after the gym!

I had some leftover fresh rosemary from the cauliflower pasta, so I took a pork chop, seasoned it with salt, pepper, and the rosemary, and pan-fried it for 3 minutes on each side and then broiled it for 2 minutes on each side. I also steamed some fresh green beans for 2 minutes so they were nice and crisp, and I had some leftover black beans so I spooned them on top of the green beans and sprinkled them with a little pepper and cumin. P.S. I fudged the whole diet thing with a half-glass of a Syrah that Steve brought over last week.

And just for fun, here's the pie that Tina made for Ryan's, Dan's, and Tina's gathering on Saturday night:

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Kitchen Successes and Disasters

Thursday night I made a great dinner. I can't really take any credit for it because I stole the recipe, but whatever, it was fast and easy and delicious and Steve and I both enjoyed it greatly. It was Whole Wheat Penne with Cauliflower Sauce. I'm not going to post the recipe because I didn't modify it at all, but you can find it online here.

Steve and I both agreed that the texture combination of the pasta with the mashed-up cauliflower was great and much more interesting than just putting pasta sauce on penne. Steve said he might have liked it better if I had added chicken, so that's something to try if you're interested in making the recipe. I personally thought it was great even
sans protein.

For dessert I threw together, last-minute, a yummy plate of fresh Black Mission figs with Herrell's vanilla bean ice cream and honey. Steve's not crazy about figs (I am), but even he licked the plate clean because I managed to disguise them under the sweet goodness of the ice cream and honey.

This morning, however, my brunch was not so successful. I tried to make whole grain waffles according to a South Beach recipe, and my first batch was an unmitigated disaster. I think it was because I substituted buttermilk mix for fresh buttermilk, and the recipe ended up
way too watery. Here's what my waffle iron looked like after that first "test batch" (Steve picked at, and ate, the messy pieces anyway):

However, I managed to save the day by adding more flour and another egg to the batter. Steve and I greatly enjoyed the waffles topped with syrup and whipped cream while lounging around in bed.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Procrastination Cooking

This week I've been swamped with reading for classes. Instead of buckling down and just doing it, I've been procrastinating by cooking. Last night I baked the cookies; tonight I made myself an unnecessarily elaborate dinner just because I didn't want to work. Clearly I may have a problem.

However, my dinner did not have a problem. It was delicious. I made seared pork chops with an acorn squash and apple mash. I'm really embarrassed to say this after my rant a few days ago about a certain you-know-who, but I stole the pork chop idea from part of a Rachael Ray recipe. I know, it hurts. But they really did turn out great. The squash was a recipe from an old Thanksgiving issue of Food & Wine. I used recipes for both of these dishes because I was really in the mood to try something I wouldn't necessarily have thought of on my own.

The pork chops were perfect, especially basted with the tangy dressing. The best part of the meal was the squash, though. It was sweet and a bit salty and came out exactly as I imagined. Sadly, I did not enjoy this meal with wine, because I have more reading to do tonight... but this dish could pair with a number of wines. I would probably recommend a light red like a pinot noir, or a versatile white like a sauvignon blanc, or even a hard cider (for something different).

I forgot to take a picture of the pork chops before eating (sorry, I was hungry) -- but here's some of the squash & apple mash:

Seared Pork Chops with Acorn Squash and Apple Mash
(serves 2)

Pork chops:
  • 2 1-inch-thick pork chops
  • 1 1/2 tbsp red or white wine vinegar
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tbsp raspberry jam (or other similar fruit jam)
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 3 tbsp + 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
In a large bowl, dissolve 2 tablespoons salt in 2 cups cold water. Add the pork chops to the brine and soak in the refrigerator for 20 minutes. In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, garlic, jam and mustard. Whisk in 3 tbsp olive oil until smooth. Preheat the broiler and place a large, heavy ovenproof skillet over high heat. Remove the chops from the brine, pat dry and brush with the remaining 1 tbsp olive oil. Sear the chops for 3 minutes on each side, then baste with 1/4 of the dressing. Broil, basting once, for 2 minutes each side.

Acorn squash and apple mash:
  • 2 acorn squash, halved lengthwise, seeds removed
  • 2 apples (Golden Delicious or whatever you have)
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
Preheat oven to 450. Coat a nonstick baking sheet with vegetable oil spray. Season the cut sides of the squash with salt and pepper and set them, cut side down, on baking sheet. Bake for about 1 hour, or until the flesh is tender and caramelized on the bottom. Meanwhile, peel and core the apples and cut them into small pieces. Toss in a bowl with the sugar and cinnamon. Coat another large nonstick baking sheet with cooking spray and spread the apples on it. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until tender and brown. Peel the squash and transfer it to a bowl along with any caramelized bits from the pan. Mash coarsely. Add the apple pieces. In a large saucepan, bring the honey and butter just to a boil. Add the squash, stir well and season with salt and pepper.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Experimenting with Whole Wheat Cookies

Tonight I had a craving for something warm and sweet, so I decided to make cookies with ingredients that I had on hand in my apartment (I was in my pajamas and didn't want to go out to the store). I was also feeling slightly guilty for my indulgences this weekend and desired a cookie that was not completely devoid of nutritional value. Thus I decided to experiment with baking a batch of sugar cookies made with whole wheat flour instead of white flour. I also decided to substitute some of the sugar in the recipe with Splenda to cut down on calories as well.

The cookies are delicious, but they don't seem to be holding together very well. They are quite crumbly; I think they could have benefited from the addition of some shortening (which I didn't have on hand). If you try this recipe, I might throw in 1/2 cup of shortening, though I'm not going to include it in the recipe below because I didn't use any. The whole wheat flour gives the cookies a crunchier texture than white flour would have, which is different but kind of nice, and the nutmeg and cinnamon make them taste really Christmas-y to me for some reason.

I enjoyed these cookies with a nice hot cup of chai tea.

Whole Wheat Sugar-Spice Cookies
(makes about 36 cookies)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup Splenda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 3 tbsp milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • cinnamon
In a mixing bowl, combine all ingredients up through the egg (everything except the flour and the cinnamon). Mix well with a blender. Stir in the flour. The dough will be crumbly and kind of grainy (though perhaps not so much if you've used shortening). Cover and chill for 30 minutes. Use your hands to squeeze the dough into 1-inch balls. Place the dough-balls about 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Sprinkle a dash of cinnamon on each one and press down on it with the flat side of a fork. Bake cookies at 375 degrees for 8 minutes. Let stand for a couple minutes before removing from cookie sheets.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Mama Becky's Famous 3-Bean Chicken Chili

Chili is really one of my favorite things in the world to make. It's ridiculously easy (just throw everything into a pot), it tastes great, and it warms you up on a cold night. On Thursday I made another batch of my three-bean chicken chili, and it promises to last me for another few days still. That's the great thing about mass quantities, isn't it?

My recipe is kind of an amalgamation of a bunch of different recipes I've tried over the years. I like this chili more than any other because (1) it's healthy (South Beach phase 1!), (2) it's stupendously easy, (3) I always have the ingredients on hand, and (4) it tastes great. It's got a great blend of spices, and you can kick it up a notch with as much cayenne pepper as you can stand, or even some hot jalapeno or chile peppers if you dare. (I personally prefer to stick to a bit of cayenne, but hey, I'm a wimp.) Make a big pot so you can enjoy it for more than one meal!

As far as wine, I would recommend a Malbec or Red Zin. If you're making the chili really spicy, though, you might want to go with a red with more acidity... maybe an Italian red like Sangiovese or Barbera. I've been drinking a Cotes du Rhone with the chili this week because that's what I had on hand, and it's served me just fine.

Mama Becky's Famous 3-Bean Chicken Chili
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper (more to taste)
  • 2 (14.5 ounce) cans chicken broth
  • 2 cups chopped cooked chicken breast (or one package pre-cooked chicken breast strips)
  • 1 (15 ounce) can cannellini beans
  • 1 (15 ounce) can black beans
  • 1 (15 ounce) can kidney beans
  • 1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Slowly cook and stir the onion until slightly tender. Mix in the garlic, cumin, oregano, and cayenne. Continue to cook and stir the mixture until onions are fully cooked, about 3 minutes. Mix in the chicken broth, chicken and all three kinds of beans. Simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the mixture from heat. Slowly stir in the cheese until melted. Serve warm!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

My Love/Hate (But Mostly Hate) Relationship with Rachael Ray

I was just doing some web browsing, clearly procrastinating despite the fact that I have a memo due tomorrow which I have not started, and I learned that some marketing firm has declared Rachael Ray the most popular of all "hosts, moderators, announcers, radio and television commentators, and other media commentators." Wow. Supposedly she beat out Oprah. I mean, come on now. Oprah?

Nobody who knows me will be shocked to learn that Rachael Ray (or, as I like to call her, Raytard) drives me completely insane. She makes me want to shoot somebody in the face. I know that may seem extreme, but please allow me to list a few of her most annoying qualities and habits. I just might convince you.
  • First of all, she comes up with these cutesy expressions that are actually just retarded. Easy isn't just "easy," it's "easy-peasy." She's constantly going, "Let's run a knife through it!" I once actually heard her say, "I wasn't fallen off the turnip truck yesterday, don'tcha know."
  • On top of this, she unnecessarily abbreviates things. The most egregious of all her abbreviations has to be EVOO. "Let's drizzle on some EVOO, extra virgin olive oil!" Like, she doesn't just say the abbreviation, she then says the entire phrase afterwards, rendering the abbreviation useless. She does this every time.
  • The woman is also constantly complimenting her own cooking. She'll run spastically around the kitchen yelling "Gee, this smells AWESOME already!" and telling the audience how "totally psyched" she is to eat whatever extraordinarily random thing she's in the midst of preparing.
  • And, for longtime viewers, you will note that she used to be kind of fuglier than she is now, but all at once she got some highlights and then got engaged and started waving her left hand all over the place like she was swatting flies.
  • Here are some more, according to the "Rachael Ray Sux" community blog: "Rachael Ray is annoying for many reasons but here are a few: she is repetitive, she talks with her hands way too much, she giggles incessantly, she puts olive oil and chicken stock in everything, she wears really ugly clothing, she talks out of one side of her mouth like she's had a stroke, she looks like "The Joker" when she smiles, and she can't stop talking about her family."
  • Last but not least, she posed for FHM, and it was really just disgusting how ridiculous she is. Pictorial evidence:
No, in case you were wondering, I don't feel bad about bashing her mercilessly... because I also find myself strangely drawn to her shows. I couldn't really care less about "Rachael Ray's Tasty Travels" (barf), but "30-Minute Meals" is oddly fascinating. I've wound up glued to the TV, wondering if she was going to finish on time (I once saw an episode where she didn't), hoping she would be embarrassed in front of the American viewing public. Watching her scramble to beat the clock is actually really mesmerizing. And really, her recipes are kind of interesting in a "wow, I could make that recipe from ingredients I bought at 7-11" kind of way. Like the Boston Globe food blog notes, Julia Child this woman is not. But you have to admit that she's doing a good thing for middle-class working adults who don't have time to whip up something out of Gourmet magazine that takes three hours start-to-finish.

Now, I've never seen her talk show. It may be better than her Food Network shows; it may be worse. (Yahoo! News calls it "potentially annoying.") But I think I'm going to steer clear of it for now. No matter how entertained (genuinely or sadistically) I might be, watching her on TV raises my blood pressure even more than eating one of her cholesterol-infused culinary concoctions.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Mountain Fare

This weekend Steve and I had a great time meeting my parents and dogs for a weekend in the mountains of North Carolina. My family has a vacation home in the small town of Cashiers, in southwest NC in the Blue Ridge Mountains. It's a gorgeous area, right where the mountains slope down to meet the Piedmont (creating lots of steep drops and waterfalls), so it's drawn a pretty large population of wealthy out-of-towners who mingle incongruously with the local hillbillies. Because of the influx of money from residents of my home state (or the "Floridiots" as the locals call us), the last decade has seen the growth of several wonderful restaurants in the Cashiers area.

So, this weekend, in addition to hiking Whiteside Mountain and visiting Whitewater Falls, we did some good down-home country eatin'. For lunch on Saturday, I satisfied my craving for real southern food. I'm talki
ng about a BBQ pork sandwich, cole slaw, and a giant jug of sweet tea. And the best part: chocolate buttermilk pie for dessert. Buttermilk pie is a southern delicacy that northerners can't appreciate till they've tried it. I've been talking up the buttermilk pie at Cornucopia for weeks, and fortunately I think Steve agreed that it lived up to the hype.

Saturday night we went to a fancy restaurant in town called the Orchard - my favorite restaurant in the area. I had the most delicious dinner: chicken breast rolled around a golden delicious apple and walnut, sage, and provolone stuffing, all of it lightly fried and covered with a sweet apricot glaze. Absolutely amazing. We drank a nice bottle of cabernet sauvignon with the meal (I was convinced I could smell a hint of cheese in the wine's aroma, even though everyone else thought I was crazy).

On Sunday we went out to get sandwiches for lunch and ac
cidently wound up in an expensive brunch buffet. The food was good, though - also very southern. Fresh biscuits and gravy, egg casserole, blueberry French toast, roast beef. As we were leaving, a crotchety old guy outside (who thought we were just arriving) tried to warn us not to go in because it was "the worst meal [he] ever had in [his] life." What a crazy.

Lastly, on Sunday night we had our first dinner at the Library, a private club in Sapphire Valley (a neighboring town) that my parents recently decided to join. This place is great because they actually serve wine and liquor - even though the rest of the county is dry, they're allowed because they're a private club. Sweet! I had a local specialty: North Carolina rainbow trout crusted with pecans and drizzled with maple butter. Delish!

For dessert, Steve insisted on fried cheesecake. That's so South: take something unhealthy and then deep-fry it. No wonder we have an obesity problem.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Best Curried Chicken Salad on Earth

I was just reminiscing about a curried chicken salad that I made for lunch the other day. It was truly the best curried chicken salad I've ever had (not that my experiences with curried chicken salad are hugely extensive). I made up the recipe myself, which is one reason I was so delighted by the way it turned out. It took a grand total of, oh, about 30 seconds, too - super quick and easy. I don't have a picture, unfortunately, but here's the recipe:

Best Curried Chicken Salad on Earth

1 package pre-cooked chicken breast pieces (e.g. Perdue Short Cuts)
1/2 green bell pepper, diced into bite-sized pieces
2 big spoonfuls lite mayonnaise
1 heaping tsp curry powder
1 tsp minced fresh ginger
Generous squeeze lime juice (from 1/2 fresh lime)
Cayenne pepper to taste

Just throw everything in a bowl and combine. Serve on a bed of salad greens. Yum!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

First "Dinner Party" at My Apartment!

Tonight was the first time that I invited a large-ish group of people (Katy, Kate, Tai, and Laura, plus Steve) over to my new place for dinner. Of course I've cooked dinner for Steve and myself many times, but this required a larger effort. In order to accommodate the larger number of people, I decided to cook something I could make in bulk. On the menu: butternut squash pizza on a homemade whole wheat crust. On the side: a simple green salad with olive oil, lemon juice, and feta, accompanied by fresh rustic Italian bread from the local bakery, with oil and cracked pepper for dipping.

The pizza turned out delicious! And I even have leftovers :) The crust was both perfectly crunchy and just chewy enough. The mix of cheeses on the pizza (romano and fontina) was perfect with the caramelized onions, and the nutmeg in the butternut squash gave it just the right amount of home-y spice flavor that I've been craving ever since autumn started to roll around.

To drink, we had a Sicilian table red: a 2005 Talia Sicilia Rosso. It was very ripe-fruity and mellow, a perfect complement to the pizza.

Butternut Squash Pizza
(makes 2 medium-size pizzas)

1 batch whole-wheat dough (see below)
1 butternut squash
1 1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 small yellow onions, thinly sliced
3/4 c. grated Romano
1 1/2 c. grated fontina

Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees. Cut squash in half lengthwise and remove seeds. Prick rind with a fork. Place cut-side down in a baking dish and add 1/4 inch water. Microwave on high 10 minutes, longer if not yet soft enough to scoop flesh out easily. Remove and cool. Scoop out flesh and mix in a bowl with salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Heat oil over medium heat and saute onions until soft. Remove from heat and cool, season with salt. In a separate bowl, mix cheeses. Roll out each ball of pizza dough (see below) into a 10-inch round crust. On top of crusts, layer cheese, onions, and dollops of squash. Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes, or until crust reaches the desired level of crispiness.

Whole-Wheat Pizza Dough (can be made in advance and refrigerated)
1 tsp white sugar
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 Tbsp active dry yeast
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

In a large bowl, dissolve sugar in warm water. Sprinkle yeast over top, let stand for 10 minutes, until foamy. Stir olive oil and salt into the mixture, then mix in the whole wheat flour and 1 cup of the all-purpose flour until dough comes together. Knead until the ball of dough becomes smooth, about 5 minutes. Cover bowl loosely with a towel and let stand in a warm place until dough is doubled in size, about 1 hour. Tip the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and divide into 2 pieces. Form each piece into a tight ball. Let rise another 45 minutes, until doubled. If refrigerating for later use, wrap each ball in plastic wrap.

First Post!

Welcome to my blog! This may seem a bit odd to those of you who know me, especially since my last blog was, shall we say, a bit more risque. But I kind of outgrew that, and anyway, recently I've been obsessed with reading other people's food blogs and decided it was time to make my own. Purely for my own entertainment, of course -- I can't imagine this is terribly interesting to anyone else. But I anticipate that it will be great fun. I'll be documenting memorable dishes that I make, meals that I eat elsewhere, wines that I sample, and pretty much whatever else I feel like musing about. So sit back, relax, and bon appetit!