Butternut Squash Gumbo

Creole cooking is a wonderful thing–you’ve got traditional Mediterranean influences (e.g. French, Spanish, Italian) strong, zesty southern elements (e.g. Carribean, American), and even African flavors. Its one of those styles of cooking that brings a whole lot of great stuff together to make something truly amazing. I wanted to take a classic Creole dish (gumbo) and see if I could spin it in a way that would fit my Thanksgiving menu by adding a bit of autumn to the mix (via butternut squash) as I thought it would be fun change from butternut squash soup.

Now for those of you haven’t had gumbo before, the first thing you need to do is correct this immediately. Seriously! Gumbo is almost stew like–thick, hearty, smoky, spicy, and full of a wide variety of things that’ll warm your bones. Some like to load their gumbo up… click to read more…

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Chili Molé

I absolutely love chili. Honestly though, who doesn’t? A meaty meal with lively south-western/Mexican inspired flavors are sure to please anyone. Winter brings out the chili cravings in me, but I’ve already shown you a fiery chili once before, so I thought I’d try to mix things up a bit and bring you a new twist on this favorite meal of mine. Rather than the usual approach to chili where the focus is on a variety of dried peppers, I opted to work with a large variety of fresh peppers (so be calm Texans, I know this isn’t an authentic chili!), and to make things a bit more interesting, I also chose to steer this to have decidedly Mexican flavors by working in the major components for a strong set of molé flavors. And so Chili Molé was born.

Now like I’ve said,… click to read more…

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Ragù alla Bolognese (Bolognese Sauce)

When I was young, pasta came with one of two sauces: tomato or meat. Now, I can appreciate that there’s a lot more to “meat sauce” than I used to think there was, and anybody who has ever tried to pursue that perfect Bolognese sauce knows just what I mean. For instance, despite its appearance, tomato should not be a huge part of the sauce–a variety of meats, slowly braised and simmered, is the true star, giving this sauce a full body and an incredible complexity. Of course, no matter how you make it, it won’t be hard to find somebody else who does it completely differently. Ragù alla Bolognese is one of those personal, family tradition kind of sauces that has as many recipes as there are people on the planet at any given moment.

I was inspired by the insightsclick to read more…

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Pork Chops with Honey Chipotle Cranberry Sauce

I’ve wanted to experiment a bit more with cranberries since these tart little fruits are too good to relegate solely to Thanksgiving dinner, never to be seen again until next year. I’ve gotten a lot of suspicious reactions to all of my cranberry endeavors thus far (since its not traditional cranberry sauce), but the versatility of these berries continues to impress me. So today, I wanted to see how they’d fare with a bit of a stronger, South-western style kick to them by making a honey chipotle cranberry sauce to go with some pork chops.

The sauce itself was surprisingly potent: tart, dark, acidic, spicy (in both heat and flavor), sweet, and smoky. Simply put, the sauce was tasty, a fun change, and a very… click to read more…

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Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with White Beans and Sausage

Aside from cinnamony apple desserts, I think there’s another dish just about everybody seems to enjoy and crave come autumn: butternut squash soup. It seems like even the most fervent anti-squash types warm up to a bowl of the stuff (and how could they not?). Even though I’m in season-deprived state of sunny Florida, my craving kicked in like clockwork and I had to have a bowl. I wanted to make a meal of this soup, so in the name of adding more substance to it, I added cannellini beans and sausage.

Of the many inspirations I had for this soup, this is what really caught my eye. Some roasted butternut squash soups can be a bit more liquidy (generally not my preference), but… click to read more…

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Pasta with Sage Pumpkin Cream Sauce

Pumpkins generally mean dessert in my mind. Its not like I’ve never made savory dishes that highlight pumpkin before, but still, that association is a stubborn one in my head. So I thought I’d try once again to shake it off by making a pumpkin sauce. In this case, a sage pumpkin cream sauce to go with pasta, sausage, and bacon.

This seemed like a good idea, but I had no idea how good it was going to be. For how simple this seemed, the flavor really blew me away–this was awesome. The sauce was incredibly thick–bordering on macaroni & cheese style thick (granted, I did enrich it with a healthy portion of Parmigiano Reggiano)–and the flavor was surprisingly rich. If I had to describe it in just one word, I would say “autumn” (which means a lot in hot Florida at this time… click to read more…

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