Wednesday, November 23, 2022

ChezCindy: Brown Butter Pumpkin Spice Cookies


I love this season of holiday baking.  These past few weeks I have been working through my favorite pumpkin recipes and exploring a few new ones too.  Earlier this month I made my favorite pumpkin scones with brown butter glaze.  Which then reminded me of a cookie recipe in Rececca Firth's cookbook, The Cookie Book, for Brown Butter Pumpkin Cookies.   

As we lead up to Thanksgiving, making the traditional Libby's pumpkin role is a must-do.  And yes, I use their standard recipe, with maybe just a tweak to the cream cheese filling, adding a bit of ginger spice to the mix.  The Brown Butter Pumpkin Cookies from Ms. Firth's book, remind me of the pumpkin roll with similar flavor profile and texture.  Maybe a cross between the pumpkin roll and pumpkin whoopie pies.   

The cookie recipe takes a bit of planning ahead as the cookie dough requires chilling for 30-60 minutes to firm up before baking.  The cookies are worth the wait.  They are soft and pillowy, topped with a creamy spiced frosting.  Below is my take on Ms. Firth's recipe with a few changes.  Her cookbook is wonderful filled with many bake-worthy recipes.  

Brown Butter Pumpkin Spice Cookies
8 tablespoons unsalted butter 
1/2 cup canola oil
1/3 cup pumpkin puree
3/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cloves

chopped toasted pecans, optional for topping

Working over medium-high heat, place the butter into a heavy-bottomed saucepan to melt.  Continue heating the butter, stirring occasionally until the butter begins to brown.  This should take about 4-5 minutes.  Once browning begins, remove the pan from the heat, continue stirring as the butter will continue to brown even after off the heat.  It will smell wonderful.  Set aside to cool. 

Transfer the cooled brown butter to the bowl of a stand mixer, adding the oil, pumpkin, both sugars, vanilla and eggs.  Mix until thoroughly blended.   

In a separate medium size mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices.  Whisk together to combine.  Add the dry flour mixture to the butter/sugar mixture, using a rubber spatula fold together until just combined.  Cover the mixing bowl with plastic wrap, placing it in the refrigerator until the dough is firm, 30-60 minutes.  

 Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper.  

Once the dough is chilled, using a 2-tablespoon spring-loaded scooper, scoop out the cookie dough, forming it into balls.  Place each cookie ball onto the parchment lined baking sheets, spacing about 2 inches apart.  Bake one sheet at a time in the center of the oven for 10-11 minutes.  Remove the baking sheet from the oven, allowing the cookies to cool for 10 minutes before transferring each cookie to a cooling rack.  Continue baking the remaining cookies.


While the cookies cool, make the Cream Cheese Frosting:  

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
3 ounces Philadelphia cream cheese, room temperature
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2-3 tablespoons milk

Add the butter, cream cheese, powdered sugar, and spices to a mixing bowl.  Using a mixer, mix together until smooth.  Add in 1 tablespoon of milk to thin, adding in more until creamy and spreadable.  

Once the cookies are cool, spread a generous portion of the frosting on top of each cookie.  Top with chopped toasted pecans if desired.  

Sunday, November 20, 2022

ChezCindy: Roasted Acorn Squash filled with Caramelized Vegetables and Rice


I created this dish in late summer for a cooking class featuring end of the season harvest.  Working with the farmers market and my go-to farmer, she had what seemed like endless poblano peppers, and zucchini.  Turns out I really like poblano peppers.  My expectation was that they would carry some heat but are a mild flavorful pepper.  So much better than the standard green bell pepper.  

Now that we are in Fall with Thanksgiving looming ahead, I swapped out the zucchini and poblanos for Brussels sprouts and mushrooms.  Think of this recipe as a base to use seasonal vegetables or just what you prefer.  Each stuffed acorn squash is perfect as a side dish or serving two halves as a main course.  For a hardier dish, stir in a half-pound of fresh ground sausage meat, cooking it along with the vegetables before filling the squash halves.  

Roasted Acorn Squash with Caramelized Vegetables & Rice
2 cups brown rice, uncooked
3 small acorn squash or 2 large
3 tablespoons oil, divided
1 ½ teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1 medium onion, diced to equal 1 cup
baby bella brown or white button mushrooms, sliced to equal 1 cup
Brussel sprouts, sliced to equal 1 cup
1 large clove garlic, minced   
1/2 cup dried cranberries
3 tablespoons vegetable stock
1/2 cup grated white cheddar cheese
black pepper to taste

chopped fresh parsley for garnish

Cook the brown rice according to package directions.  Set aside to cool.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Line a sheet pan with foil.  Cut each squash in half horizontally.  Using a large spoon, scoop out and discard the seeds.  Using 1 tablespoon of oil, evenly rub over the cavity and outside of each half squash.  Sprinkle the cavities using ½ teaspoon of salt.  Place cut-side down onto the prepared baking sheet.  Roast in the preheated oven for 25 minutes.  Remove the sheet pan from the oven, flip each squash over with cut-side up.  Continue roasting for about 5-10 additional minutes.  The squash should be fork tender but still holding their shape.  Remove from the oven and set aside. 

Working with a large skillet over medium-high heat, add in the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil.  Add in the chopped onion and sliced mushrooms, along with ½ teaspoon of salt.  Stir, cooking until the vegetables begin to soften.  Add in the sliced Brussel sprouts and the garlic, continue cooking and stirring until the vegetables are soft and begin to brown.  

Measure out 3 cups of cooked rice.  Add to the skillet with the vegetables along with the remaining ½ teaspoon of salt.  Stir and cook together for 1 minute.  Add in the dried cranberries and vegetable stock stirring to combine.  Remove from the heat.  Stir in the cheddar cheese and black pepper.  

Divide the rice mixture evenly among the squash halves.  Return the sheet tray to the oven, heating for about 10-12 minutes until warmed through and lightly browned.  Transfer to a serving plate, garnish with chopped fresh parsley. 

Sunday, October 23, 2022

ChezCindy: Delicata Squash Rings with Parmesan Cheese


Each fall season I gather up the different squash available at the market, always on the look-out for delicata squash among the more standard acorn and butternut.  Delicata squash is a winter squash meaning that it has a hard interior flesh.  But it crosses over to summer squash like zucchini in that the thin skin can be eaten.  A real bonus when it comes to winter squash as most have inedible skin and it can be difficult to peel away the skin.  

The delicata squash are the two sitting on top of the pile with a long shape and stripes.  The other squash are spaghetti, acorn and kaleidoscope which is similar to acorn.

The delicata squash rings were put together on a whim one morning.  The thought came to me that Parmesan cheese might pair really well with the squash.  I've made them numerous times now for breakfast as the flavor and texture remind me of potatoes, so think hashbrowns.  The squash rings would make a nice appetizer with a glass of crisp white Italian wine, or as a side dish to Chicken Parmesan. 

Delicata Squash Rings with Parmesan Cheese
1 medium or 2 small delicata squash
1 tablespoon oil
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons butter
2 tablespoons fresh grated Parmesan cheese

Making the rings is more of a process than a recipe.  Simply slice across the squash cutting the squash into 1/4-inch rounds.  Lay each round piece on the flat side, using a spoon scrape out the seeds. 

 Working with a large non-stick pan over medium-high heat, drizzle in a tablespoon of oil placing the squash rings in a single layer in the pan, sprinkle the salt over the rings.  Allow the rings to cook without moving them for 1-2 minutes, then add in the butter in small pieces to evenly distribute among the squash rings.  The butter will sizzle and bubble.  Keep the squash rings on side one for several minutes until this first side is golden brown.  The butter will help the squash to brown and add great flavor.  Once side one is brown and the squash is now mostly cooked through, flip over each ring to cook on side two for just a brief minute.  Sprinkle on the Parmesan cheese, then immediately turn off the heat.  Transfer the squash rings and Parmesan to a plate.  

Saturday, October 15, 2022

ChezCindy: Apple Cheddar Drop Biscuits


Fall is the perfect time of year to make these Apple Cheddar Drop Biscuits.  A visit to the apple orchard or just a variety of crisp apples from the market are great to have on hand for so many wonderful recipes, or just to eat out of hand.  Here are just few recipes from my blog site such as Apple Pumpkin Muffins combining the best of both fall ingredients.  And this surprisingly refreshing Apple Cucumber Salad.  When you are looking to impress make this French Apple Tart.

This biscuit recipe is an easy one to begin with if making biscuits is new to you.  It is a drop biscuit, so there is no rolling out the dough, no cutting and shaping the biscuits.  Just scoop it out and drop the biscuit dough onto the baking sheet.  Serve warm from the oven with some soft salted butter.  

The key to successful biscuit making is to have all of your ingredients ready before you start mixing by hand.  Once you start mixing, your fingers are covered in biscuit dough.  Stopping to measure out the cream or to line the pan with parchment paper is a bit of a problem with doughy fingers.  Read the recipe, have the ingredients measured, the baking tray in place, and the oven pre-heated.  Relax and enjoy the process.  

Apple Cheddar Drop Biscuits
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
4 tablespoons finely diced apples
4 tablespoons grated white cheddar cheese
5 tablespoons heavy cream
1/4 cup cold water

extra cream for brushing on the biscuits
turbinado sugar to top the sweet biscuits

Makes 6 large biscuits

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.  

Key to successful biscuit making is to have all of your ingredients ready before you start mixing.  Because once you start, your fingers are covered in biscuit dough.  Read the recipe, have the ingredients measured, the baking tray in place, and the oven pre-heated.  

Cut the cold butter into small pieces.  I like to start with a stick of butter, cutting out 6 tablespoons, (setting the remaining 2 tablespoons aside for serving).  Then cut each of the 6 tablespoons into 9 tiny pieces. 

Cut the apple into small pieces, roughly 1/4-inch dice, set aside.  Grate the cheddar cheese, set aside.  

Measure out the cream, and the cold water.
Working with a large mixing bowl, add in the flour, sugar and baking powder.  Using your fingers, mix the ingredients to combine.  Add in the tiny cut pieces of butter, tossing them to coat with the flour mixture.  Begin working in the butter by using your fingertips to "snap" or rub the butter to combine it with the flour.  This will take 5-8 minutes.  The butter will no longer look like tiny cubes of butter but will be mostly combined with the flour.  It should look somewhat crumbly.  Add in the diced berries, tossing them gently to coat with the flour/butter mixture.  

Make a well in the center of the mixture.  Pour in 4 tablespoons of the cream, reserving 1 for additional use if needed.  This is where it gets really messy.  With your fingers, mix the flour with the cream to create a shaggy dough.  Add in the 1/4 cup of cold water, mixing to gently combine.  The dough should be wet but not gloppy.  Add in the additional tablespoon of cream if the dough is still a bit dry.  This is the judgement part of making biscuits.  The dough should be held together with no dryness of the flour bits.  Stop mixing.  

Using a 1/3 cup measure, spray the cup with oil.  This will help the biscuit dough to slip out of the measuring cup.  Scoop the dough into the measuring cup, drop the biscuit onto the lined sheet pan.  Repeat with the remaining dough to form 6 large biscuits.  Using a pastry brush, gently brush the tops with additional cream.  Sprinkle a bit of sugar (turbinado raw sugar if you have it) onto the tops of each biscuit.  

Bake in the preheated oven for 15-16 minutes until deep golden brown.  Remove from the oven, cool on the sheet tray for about 5 minutes so the biscuits are fully set.  Serve warm with butter and honey if desired. 

Friday, September 23, 2022

ChezCindy: Pasta Risotto with Chicken and Mushrooms


Making pasta in the style of risotto is not a new thing.  I simply had not tried this process before now.  It is good!  The pasta takes in flavor, absorbing the stock, garlic and vegetables as it hydrates and cooks.  It becomes full of flavor with great texture.  The tradeoff is the amount of time and attention it takes to make the pasta risotto.  You will need to tend to the pasta adding stock stirring for roughly 20 minutes.  I found it be a relaxing transition from a full day while I enjoyed a glass of wine.  

Pasta Risotto with Chicken and Mushrooms
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, finely diced
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 cups brown or white button mushrooms, sliced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 cups dry gemelli or penne pasta
1/2 cup dry white wine
3-4 cups chicken stock
3 boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into 2-inch pieces
2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
black pepper
fresh parsley, chopped
fresh grated Parmesan cheese

Working with a large Dutch oven pan over medium-high heat, add in the olive oil.  When the oil is hot, add in the onion, garlic and mushrooms, stirring to coat in oil.  Cook while stirring occasionally for 6-7 minutes, then add in 1 teaspoon of kosher salt and a few grinds of black pepper.  Add in the tomato paste, stirring to incorporate with the mushrooms.  Add the dry pasta to the pan with the mushrooms, stirring together, then add in the wine, stirring for 2-3 minutes.  The wine will bubble and absorb into the mix.  Lower the heat to medium.  

Meanwhile, have the stock on the stove in a pan over a low temperature to stay warm.  Once the wine has absorbed into the mix, begin ladling 1/2 cup of stock into the pasta mix, stirring to combine.  After the ladle of stock has absorbed into the pasta, continue adding 1/2 cup at a time until you have added 2 cups.  At this point taste a piece of pasta to determine the tenderness.  It will mostly likely be too firm.  

Add in the chicken thighs and 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt, stirring with the pasta.  Cook the chicken while continuing to add more stock and stirring.  Check the chicken for doneness of internal temperature of 165 degrees.  When the chicken has reached correct temperature, taste the pasta for texture.  You will want a tender pasta but not soft.  You may not use all of the stock.  

Remove from the heat, adjust for seasoning, garnishing with fresh parsley and grated Parmesan cheese.  

Friday, September 9, 2022

ChezCindy: Cauliflower Goat Cheese Gratin


When has cauliflower looked better?  This recipe is a simple 5-ingredent, minimal time and cleanup dream.  A dream only if you like cauliflower.  In my house, that is just me and the dogs!

My recipe is adapted from Bobby Flay, downloaded from the Food Network years ago.  It is super healthy by way of the cauliflower but watch out for the calories coming from heavy cream and three types of cheese.  Serve it with a green salad or a simple piece of grilled fish or chicken.  

Cauliflower Goat Cheese Gratin
1 medium head of cauliflower, cut into florets
1 cup heavy cream
6-ounces goat cheese
2 ounces grated fontina cheese
2 ounces grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Place the cauliflower florets into a medium size casserole dish, spreading out into an even layer.  Pour in the cream.  Crumble and scatter the goat cheese over the florets, along with the fontina and Parmesan cheese.  Sprinkle on the kosher salt.   

Place the casserole dish into the hot oven, roasting for 30 minutes until the cauliflower is tender and the sauce has slightly thickened.  Remove from the oven, resting for 10 minutes before serving.

Note:  Other cheeses can be substituted such as gruyere and Pecorino, and herbed goat cheese work well together.  

Thursday, September 1, 2022

ChezCindy: Summer Corn Cauliflower & Chickpea Salad


Inspiration for this salad came from thoughts of Mexican Street Corn.  Which would have been fabulous as a salad, but I took this salad in a different direction to the Mediterranean.  I used Greek yogurt in the salad dressing, chickpeas, feta cheese with fresh mint and parsley, which all compliment the sweet summer corn and cauliflower.   

The salad is wonderful for sharing and can be made ahead of time as it holds up well fully tossed with the salad dressing.  It may even get better after sitting for 20-30 minutes as the ingredients marinate in the dressing bringing out the best of each. 

Summer Corn Cauliflower Salad with Fresh Herbs
1/2 of a large cauliflower head
1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained
3 large ears corn, cut from the cobs
1/2 red bell pepper, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese
1 head bibb lettuce

Creamy Yogurt Salad Dressing (recipe follows)

Cut the cauliflower into large pieces, placing each into the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade.  Pulse until chopped into small bits.  You should have about 4 cups for the recipe.  Transfer the chopped cauliflower into a large bowl.

Add the drained chickpeas to the bowl with the cauliflower.  Add in the fresh cut corn as cut from the cobs, chopped red bell pepper, chopped parsley and mint.  Sprinkle on the salt and pepper.  Using a large spoon, gently stir to combine.  

Pour 6-8 tablespoons of the Creamy Yogurt Dressing over the salad, tossing to combine.  To serve, place individual leaves of the bibb lettuce onto a platter, spooning the dressed salad into each lettuce leaf, piling the remaining salad into the center.  Crumble the feta cheese over the salad.  Garnish with additional herbs, and a drizzle of additional salad dressing.  

Creamy Yogurt Dressing
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon kosher salt
pinch of fresh ground pepper
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
6 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons plain full fat Greek yogurt

In a small bowl, add the Dijon mustard, honey, salt and pepper; whisk to combine.  Add the vinegar; whisk to combine.  Slowly drizzle in the oil, whisking vigorously while doing so.  Whisk in the yogurt.