Buttered Sage Butternut Squash Mash

How’s that for a mouthful?

How about this, then?

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1 large butternut squash
2 Tbsp butter
1 clove garlic, chopped
handful fresh sage
~1 Tbsp heavy cream
salt, to taste

1. Preheat oven to 400° F. Wash the squash well and place it on a cookie sheet or baking tray in the oven. Bake for about 45 minutes. No need to poke with a fork.

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2. Remove squash from oven. Let cool for about 10-15 minutes, then slice with a large knife. I quarter mine for easy scooping. Spoon out the seeds and guts and toss. Peel away skin (it should be bubbled and loose) and toss.

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3. In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add garlic and sage and fry for about 3 minutes, until the garlic is golden and fragrant, but not burned, and the sage is just crispy. Reduce heat to low; add squash. Continue to cook until squash is warm throughout, just a couple of minutes. Add cream and stir.

4. Scrape the entire contents of the pan into a food processor, being careful to get any and all bits of garlic and sage. Purée. Return to pan and stir gently over low heat for another couple of minutes, then serve immediately.

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SO easy, rich, and delicious! You get all the flavor of butternut squash without the hassle; I enjoy this with simple, pan-fried pork sausage, sautéed in a splash of red wine.

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Serves 2.

Just scale up for more servings. I suggest making two at a time.

Eric’s Curry Hummus Devilled Eggs

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12 hard boiled eggs, peeled and cooled
1 cup Baby Zach’s Smoked Thai Curry Hummus*
2 Tbsp Old Bay Seasoning
2 Tbsp paprika, halved
1 tsp salt
1 tsp white pepper
a few dashes of Cholula sauce, to taste

1. On a clean surface, cut the eggs in half lengthwise.

2.Gently scoop out the yolks with a spoon and place in a medium sized mixing bowl.

3. Add all of the dry ingredients and the Cholula, reserving 1 tablespoon of paprika. Mix thoroughly but gently with a fork.

4. Refill the sliced eggs with the mixture and dust with paprika to garnish.

5. Refrigerate for at least half an hour, then serve.

As you can see, Eric likes to over-stuff his eggs. And they’re delicious. Try it!

*We pick ours up on Sunday mornings at the Mueller Farmers Market.

Guest Post: E’s Rock Candy Bulleit Julep

Bulleit

Guest post from Eric!  With bonus Civil War trivia.

While I wouldn’t normally advise adulterating Bulleit with mint, making mint juleps with Jack Daniels results in a product that is only so-so, although the Jack Daniels honey version is passable. Bulleit is a prudent choice for this kind of thing because it’s a quality Mintbourbon at a reasonable price, so you don’t sacrifice taste and can still feel good about committing the deadliest of all sins (not simply enjoying bourbon for what it is).

This drink is great to make on a summer day in February (can you tell we live in Austin?). The actual work is only about 10 minutes, as most of the process is just letting the syrup cool and congeal in the fridge. If you have to walk to the liquor store, as I did today, that’ll add 20 minutes to the process, but again, it’s Austin so that’s just a bonus.

If you have a non-ironic portrait of Robert E. Lee handy, it’s best to toast it before your first sip. If not, just toast any nearby old people with beards, or walk to the statue on campus and toast the grackles. If you live in Baltimore, walk to the statue of Lee and Jackson on the eve of Chancellorsville and toast the horses. Okay, I’m done.

Ingredients:

3 or 4 sprigs of fresh mint
1 small piece of rock candy, left over from Christmas
2 tbsp local honey
1 bottle of delicious Bulleit bourbon

Steps:

1. In a small tea pot, combine ripped up mint leaves and honey.

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2. Throw in the rock candy.

3. Add boiling water.

4. Let steep for at least 20 minutes, to make a mint/sugar tea.

5. Pour out mint tea into separate container, and throw in any additional mint that’s handy.

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6. Close container, put in fridge, let cool for at least an hour.

7. Take out container, strain contents (if loose mint is in there)now you have a simple mint syrup.

8. Combine mint syrup and delicious Bulleit1 part mint syrup to 2-3 parts bourbon, to tasteand one or two ice cubes.

9. Consume gleefully.

10. Discuss to anyone present how the South shall rise again.

11. Tip hat.

Bulleit


/INSUFFERABLE HIPSTER IRONY

Southwestern Chicken Salad with Homemade Mayo

Southwestern Chicken Salad

I’ve been thinking about making homemade mayonnaise for a long time.  But I hadn’t gotten past thinking about it until I used my Barnes and Noble Christmas giftcard to buy Jamie Oliver’s Great Britain.  Not only do I highly recommend the latest cookery book (as they say in the UK) from the good-natured Essex maverick, but I also insist that you make this mayo immediately!

Other food-obsessed friends had been telling me for years.  But I don’t eat that much mayo, and figured it wasn’t worth the trouble.

I was wrong.

Not only was it quick and easy, the result was so rich that Eric and I were desperately trying to think of things to use mayo on or in!  We ended up making a huge bowl of chicken salad, and it was so good, I had to share the recipe (see below).

I also used Eric as a food taster, making him do a blind test.  It was quite simple to tell the difference between the mass produced, processed mayo in our fridge and this stuff.  I was afraid the olive oil would be too overpowering (you can cut it with half rapeseed oil for a less robust flavor), but we really liked it.  I’m going to make some of Jamie’s variations soon: basil, garlic, and curry!  Mmm, curry.

Somehow, I didn’t take any pictures of the process; but it’s so straightforward (really, stop worrying and just whisk!).  Here it is.

Stella’s Homemade Mayonnaise
adapted from Jamie Oliver
3 egg yolks
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1.5 cups extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
juice of one lemon
salt, to taste

1. In a medium mixing bowl, lightly whisk egg yolks and Dijon mustard. Slowly drizzle in olive oil, only a little bit at a time, while continuing to stir. It’s best if you take up to ten minutes to do this, so the ingredients won’t separate.

2. As the mayo begins to thicken, add the vinegar and lemon juice while continuing to whisk. Continue until it is well mixed and smoothly textured.

3. Add salt to taste; scoop mayo out into a Mason jar or other sealable, refrigerator-safe container.

Yields approximately two cups of mayonnaise. Will keep for two weeks in the fridge.
 

Southwestern Chicken Salad
4 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup homemade mayo (see above)
1/4 white onion, finely diced
handful cilantro, roughly chopped
2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 Tbsp Cholula hot sauce
dash of balsamic vinegar
2 tsp chili powder, plus more to garnish
4 Tbsp crushed pecans
salt and pepper, to taste

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Meanwhile, prep other ingredients.

2. Bake chicken on a foil-lined baking sheet for approximately 30 minutes, or until fully cooked through. Remove from oven and allow to cool for about five minutes.

Southwestern Chicken Salad3. Chop or shred chicken to desired consistency. Sometimes, I pull it by hand; for this dish, I cubed it on a cutting board with a knife. Place cubed chicken in large mixing bowl.

4. Add mayo, onion, cilantro, and lemon juice, and mix thoroughly. Then add hot sauce, vinegar, and paprika, and stir again. Taste, then add salt and pepper as desired.

5. Spoon out chicken salad onto serving plates and garnish with a dusting of chili powder, crushed pecans, and additional cilantro sprigs. Serve immediately.

Serves 4-6. Refrigerates well; eat within a couple of days.

Southwestern Chicken Salad

Pan-Fried Chicken Thighs with Garlic-Sour Cream Sauce

Pan-fried chicken thighs

This is another fairly straightforward recipe that created with some of my usual, simple ingredients (grits, butter, Brussels sprouts, fresh spinach), this time with chicken!

I’m posting it in honor of my Twitter friend and fellow medievalist David Works, by special request. Enjoy!

4 boneless and skinless chicken thighs*
2 Tbsp butter
~1/2 tsp salt
~1/2 tsp black pepper
4 cloves garlic, smashed and roughly chopped
~1 cup Brussels sprouts, washed and roughly shredded
~1 cup fresh spinach, washed and roughly shredded
1/2 cup sour cream
1 portion of my Horseradish Cheese Grits, precooked

1. In a large, cast iron skillet, melt butter over medium high heat. Add chicken thighs and sauté for about three minutes. Turn over carefully with a non-scratch spatula. Sauté each piece on the other side for an additional three minutes or so, so that both sides are nicely browned.

2. Using the spatula, gently butterfly each thigh in the pan. At this point in the cooking, this should be easy to achieve. The pieces may break in half; this is fine. Reduce heat to medium and continue to cook for an additional ten minutes or so, or until each piece is thoroughly cooked through (grey, not pink).

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3. Remove chicken with a slotted spatula or spoon, draining off as much of the pan juices a possible, and place in a large piece of aluminum foil. Close the foil around the chicken to retain its heat, and set aside (I put mine on an adjacent, cool burner).

4. Drain all but about one tablespoon of the chicken fat juices from the pan and discard (or save for later use). Add garlic and Brussels sprouts and continue to cook for about five minutes, until garlic is fragrant and sprouts have brightened.

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5. Add spinach and stir thoroughly. Cook for an additional couple of minutes.

6. Reduce heat to a simmer. Spoon in the sour cream, stir thoroughly, and allow the mixture to cook for another couple of minutes. A nice, savory-smelling and creamy sauce will arise. Sample the sauce, adding more salt or pepper as desired.

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7. Uncover and plate the chicken on a bed of my warm Horseradish Cheese Grits, spooning out generous amounts of sauce to drizzle over the whole dish. Serve immediately.

Pan-Fried Chicken Thighs with Garlic-Sour Cream Sauce

Serves 2-4.

*You could of course use thighs with skin, if you like them (and I do!), as the pan-frying process will result in some nice, fatty, crispy pieces. You could also use bone-in chicken; just skip the butterflying step and cook a bit longer, until they’re grey all the way through (and/or use a meat thermometer). I used these pieces because I already had them on hand. And they were excellent.