Monday, October 31, 2011

Spicy, Scary Squash

Want to freak out your kids, neighbors, puppies this Halloween? Forget about the witches, ghouls and zombies... be a squash. Geez. Not much must be going on in my life that I am wrote the last sentence.

I did use to be scared of eating squash. No more - it's actually quite delicious. Still scared of beets and rutabagas, however. Another thing to conquer I guess.

Last night I made a spicy squash bruschetta. This recipe has a little bit of everything - sour, sweet, spicy and crunch. I would be perfect to service with a ghoulish cocktail or even as a turkey-day appetizer.

Spicy Squash Bruschetta 

* Ingredients * 

1 acorn squash
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup fresh cranberries
1 tablespoon honey
3 tablespoons walnut oil
2 tablespoons salt
Asiago cheese, shredded

* Instructions * 

1. Halve and seed squash. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place squash in roasting pan. Fill pan with water - 1 inch deep. Sprinkle squash with olive oil and nutmeg. Roast for 90 minutes.
2. Let squash cool. Cut into bite size pieces.
3. Toss with other ingredients and heat on cookie sheet for 10 minutes.
4. Serve on baguette slices with Asiago cheese.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

A Mistake and a Cake

I've started taking professional cooking classes on Monday nights. I asked the chef leading the class if she'd ever have a student that was so bad of a cook that she wanted to kick them out of her kitchen. I think I was looking for story Gordon Ramsay style, but instead she said no. She continued, "The great thing about cooking is there is no mistake you can't fix. Worse comes to worse, you just start over." Such as great metaphor for life. 

Now, as most T+P fans know (i.e, those of you have already liked me on "the book"), I make a mean birthday cake and love the opportunity to do a little catering to make someone's BIG day special. 

Recently, I was asked to make a cheesecake birthday. In all my baking, I have never made a cheesecake. They scare me a little bit... So, since this was a completely new to me, I start with a recipe from the masters - Bon App├ętit. 

My creation was a Toffee Crunch Carmel Cheesecake with a Gingersnap Crust. The cake is still getting rave reviews, but like most of the successes in my life, I had to make a couple of "mistakes" to get it right. The first one got thrown out, much to the delight of Zeuggie, who licked up the remnants in the sink. 

Don't do this.
The secret to baking a great cheesecake is this: after baking the crust, wrap the pan in heavy duty foil. Place the cake with the batter in a roasting pan and fill the roasting pan until it is 2-3 inches deep with water. This keeps the temperature even and the oven moist. If you fail to do this, the cheesecake cracks and looks like it was baked by someone who was afraid of baking cheesecakes.