A Peace Offering (Otherwise known as Winter Squash Flatbreads)

Since starting a new job in August, I have had to take a hiatus from blogging because I’ve also had to take a break from sewing. It would be an understatement to say that adjusting to my new job responsibilities has kept me busy. It is likely to keep me equally busy after the new year too, but I hope that I will be able to return to keeping up the space a little more regularly. I still feel like there are many things I’d like to share with you in regards to my creative doings. Please be patient and stick around as I try to figure out how to balance the new with the slightly old.

As a peace offering/bribe, here is a wonderful recipe that was inspired by a dish I once ordered in a restaurant. It’s perfect for the days between Thanksgiving and Christmas when you want something that tastes hearty, without being too filling. It makes great party fare too. Just make all the parts a few hours or days ahead and keep in the refrigerator. Assemble and finish baking right before the party.

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Winter Squash Topped Flatbreads

This recipe basically consists of three layers—an easy to make flatbread, a creamy herb-seasoned ricotta and toasty bits of pancetta and winter squash. They make a delicious light meal or can be cut into bite-sized pieces to serve as appetizers.

Make Flatbread:

1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup water

1/3 cup olive oil plus more for brushing

Preheat oven to 450°F with a heavy baking sheet on rack in middle.

Stir together flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Make a well in center, then add water and oil and gradually stir into flour with a wooden spoon until a dough forms. Knead dough gently on a work surface 4 or 5 times.

Divide dough into 2 or 3 pieces and roll out each piece on a sheet of parchment paper or silicone mat until it is less than ¼ inch thick. Transfer dough with parchment/mat onto a baking sheet.

Partially bake the flatbreads for about 5 minutes. Remove from the oven to be topped.

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Make Herb Seasoned Ricotta:

1 cup ricotta

2 tablespoons fresh thyme, rosemary or sage, finely chopped (all three taste great, so choose your favorite or a combination)

1 clove of garlic, finely minced

salt & pepper to taste

Mix all the ingredients above.

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Make Pancetta and Winter Squash:

¼ lb. pancetta (find in the deli; bacon is a great substitute if you can’t find it)

1 small acorn squash, half of a butternut squash or other winter squash, peeled diced into ¼ inch cubes (approximately 2 cups of diced squash)

Put pancetta into a hot frying pan and cook until crisp. Remove pancetta from the pan and let drain on paper towels. When slightly cooled, break or cut pancetta into little bits. (If there is an excessive amount of fat in the pan, drain some off before continuing.) In the same pan, add diced winter squash. Cook until tender, 7-10 minutes.

Assemble the Flatbreads:

Divide the seasoned ricotta between the flatbreads and spread it out evenly. Sprinkle pancetta and squash over the top.

Put topped flatbreads back into the oven to crisp up, about 5 more minutes at 450 degrees.

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Recipe: Creamless Creamy Broccoli Soup

We are on the verge of winter here in Chicago. I saw the first snowflakes of the season today. The best part of cold weather, in my opinion, is getting to make lots of yummy soups. This week I made a very delicious broccoli soup that was so creamy and rich that I thought someone had snuck some cream into it while I wasn’t looking. Even though I don’t usually post recipes, I thought this was just too good not to share.

Ingredients:

1-2 tablespoons butter or oil
1 head of broccoli (approx. 1 lb), diced, stems separated from florets
1/2 onion, diced
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 rib of celery, diced
1 russet potato, peeled and diced
2-3 cloves of garlic, with the peels
1 quart of vegetable or chicken stock
salt
pepper
cheddar cheese (optional, as a garnish)

Directions:

1.  Heat butter or oil in a soup pot. Add the diced broccoli stems, onion, celery, carrot and potato. Saute for 5-7 minutes or until the onions are translucent and the other vegetables have softened.

2. In the meantime, in a separate saute pan, heat a little more oil. Add the broccoli florets and the garlic cloves, in their peels. Saute garlic until the skins are brown and the broccoli until it is cooked, but still a little crisp.

3. Add the stock to the vegetables in the soup pot. Bring to a boil and simmer until vegetables are soft all the way through. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove the garlic from the saute pan, remove the skins and add garlic to the soup pot. (The easiest way is to use a knife to squeeze the garlic out like you’re squeezing toothpaste out of the tube.) Blend the soup to create a creamy base, work in batches if necessary. Add more stock or water or reduce soup until it reaches your desired consistency.

4. Add the broccoli florets and bring soup back up to a boil. Serve and garnish with cheddar cheese, if desired.

(Sorry there isn’t a picture. I wasn’t planning to post the recipe until it turned out so great. And by then it was gone.)

 

 

Simple Mint Gelato

My creativity isn’t limited to sewing this week. I made my own fresh mint gelato. It was so simple and has such a refreshing flavor. It’s been very hot, so mint was the perfect flavor to cool my palate and satiate my sweet tooth. I don’t have a picture for you because we ate it right out of the ice cream machine. I highly recommend you trust me and try this!

Ingredients:
3 cups milk (I used 1%)
3 teaspoons peppermint loose leaf tea
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Process:
1. Heat 2 1/4 cups of the milk in a medium sized sauce pan over medium heat. As it’s heating, place tea leaves in a tea steeping ball and put the ball in the milk to infuse it with mint flavor. When the milk has just reached a boil, remove the tea ball.

2. While the milk & peppermint tea leaves are heating, mix the sugar, cornstarch and salt in a separate bowl. Add the remaining 3/4 cup milk and whisk until smooth.

3. Add the sugar, cornstarch, milk mixture to the peppermint infused milk. Bring back up to a boil and whisk frequently for 3 minutes to thicken the mixture.

4. Cool the mixture in the fridge or by placing the mixture in a  bowl over an ice bath. Freeze in an ice cream maker according to the package directions.