Pizzelles Bakery

 

Recipe: Butternut Squash Lasagna

January 11th, 2013 · Recipes

This recipe was first introduced to me by my friend, Kirty Labra, who runs baking classes in new delhi.

A few short hours after I landed in San Francisco, the friends I was staying with whisked me away to a holiday party their friend was throwing. I never quite know how I’ll do around new groups of people: sometimes, I click with people immediately and other times, I play the wall flower for a bit. I’ve grown out of being the shy girl in middle school whose parents put her in acting lessons, hoping she’d find her voice. I did find my voice, and apparently, it loves to talk about food.

This, I’ve discovered, works fantastically at most parties where food is involved. It’s an instant conversation start — just ask the other person what they think of their dish. What you usually discover is not a simple opinion; a story comes with it. You hear about the first time they had garlic and hated it, or how impossible and awkward their first experience with butternut squash was. You learn about them: their likes, their favorite places, their politics, their philosophy on life. I’ve never met a person who didn’t like some sort of food, because when you’re eating good food, you know it. Eating a delicious meal is one of the most intoxicatingly vibrant things you can do. You savor the moment. You savor the company and conversation. You drink in each glorious peal of laughter or hushed nod in agreement.

So, on that rainy December night in San Francisco, that’s where I found myself: in a friend of a friend’s apartment, at a party, eating delicious food. It was all amazing, but I fell in love with the butternut squash lasagna and began to dream of making it myself.

For the next few weeks, I bugged my friend to get the recipe. I needed it like I needed to breathe. I was willing to fly — nay, drive! to San Francisco if necessary to get my hands on this recipe. Luckily, it arrived in my inbox and all I had to do was plot a dinner party myself.

And so, this past Friday, I had a small little dinner gathering. There were only four of us, but none of us minded — we all went back for seconds and some even thirds. We ate and we laughed, and I remembered that my favorite thing about cooking and baking are moments like these.

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Butternut Squash Lasagna
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 pounds of butternut squash (peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch cubes, or bought like that)
salt
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup water
3 amaretti cookies, crumbled (optional)
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 1/2 cups whole milk
Pinch of nutmeg
3/4 cup fresh basil leaves, lightly packed
12-15 no-boil lasagna noodles
2 1/2 to 3 cups shredded whole-milk mozzarella cheese
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Position the rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees F.

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat the oil. Add the squash to the skilled and toss to coat. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper. Pour the water into the skillet then cover. Simmer over medium heat until the squash is tender, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. Cool slightly (at least 5 minutes) and then transfer the squash to a food processor. Work in two batches as squash may still be quite hot). Add the amaretti cookies (optional — I decided to leave them out) and blend until smooth. Season the squash puree to taste with more salt and pepper.

In a medium-sized saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk for 1 minute. Gradually whisk in the milk. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, whisking regularly, about 4 minutes (I never got mine to boil). Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the sauce thickens slightly, whisking often, about 5 minutes. Add in the nutmeg. Cool slightly, about 5 minutes. Transfer half of the sauce to a blender. Add the basil and blend until smooth. Return the basil sauce to the sauce in the pan and stir to blend. Season the sauce with salt and pepper, to taste (I added none).

Lightly butter a 13 by 9-inch glass baking dish. Spread 3/4 cup of the sauce over the prepared baking dish. Arrange 3-4 lasagna noodles (depends on their size) on the bottom of the pan. Spread 1/3 of the squash puree over the noodles. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese. Drizzle 1/2 cup of sauce over the noodles. Repeat layering 3 more times. (You can also layer only 3 times rather than 4.)

Tightly cover the baking dish with foil and place in oven. Bake the lasagna for 40 minutes. Remove foil and sprinkle the remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses over the lasagna. Continue baking uncovered until the sauce bubbles and the top is golden, 15 minutes longer. Let the lasagna stand for 15 minutes before serving.

Can you say “mmmm”?

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Easy Eats: Grilled Cheese

October 20th, 2012 · Recipes

I became a grilled cheese addict this summer. Actually, I should probably say I relapsed as this has happened to me before. It was the spring after I graduated New York University (I finished a semester early) and I was living in Brooklyn with two friends. The thing I loved about our area of Brooklyn is that it felt like a community more than other parts of the city did: the people in the general store knew customers’ names, people almost said hello on the streets (I was in New York). There was one small grocery store, one Chinese restaurant — one really of everything, including a bakery that baked fresh bread every morning. I only lived a block away so as soon as I left the apartment, I could smell it, inviting me in for a loaf. My problems were only compounded by working a block from Little Italy. It was just too easy to stop in and buy fresh mozzarella. And so I started making a lot of grilled cheese sandwiches that spring.  When I got home, I had high cholestrol levels. At twenty-one.

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So grilled cheese and I parted ways, until rediscovering each other this summer. It was just too easy: bread, cheese, butter. A little patience and I had an amazing and simple meal on my hands, perfect for those summer days where all I really wanted to do was get back outside or return to my many little projects.  The mozzarella became American cheese, because when it came down to it, my mother made me grilled cheese sandwiches when I was a kid with American cheese. The summer — at least at its beginning — seemed to stretch like those summers when I was little. The grilled cheeses only added to that feeling.

The directions are simple: Select your cheese and bread, and create the sandwich. Butter the sides of the bread that will hit the pan, and let some butter melt in the pan too. I do everything over medium heat (a 6 on a scale of 1 to 10) and sometimes cover my frying pan with a lid so the cheese melts faster and my bread doesn’t burn. Just the way I like it.

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The Making: Zucchini Spinach White Bean Casserole

June 27th, 2012 · Recipes

Recipe and Post originally featured on Minted Magazine blog

With so many fresh vegetables coming into season and gracing the booths at farmer’s markets, it’s hard to ignore all the wonderful ways you can eat them. I’ve decided to call this a “casserole” for lack of a better term, and because it just takes too long to say “vegetable dinner of awesomeness” every time. It also can be easily adapted to whatever vegetables and cheese you might have around — I’d suggest adding asparagus, tomatoes, or kale (you might want to sauté the kale just a bit beforehand), and in my mind, nearly any type of cheese would be brilliant.

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Zucchini Spinach White Bean Casserole
Yellow Eye or White Beans (2 cans or 16 oz. dried)
3 zucchini, sliced or chopped into small pieces
3 cups fresh spinach
3/4 cup grated Parmesan or other cheese (feel free to mix)
olive oil
salt and pepper

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Move oven rack to middle. Prepare 9×13 baking pan by lightly coating with olive oil.

2. If working with dried beans, allow them to soak in a pot of water overnight, then cook until soft and tender.  If using pre-cooked canned beans, open and drain excess liquid. Add beans to pan.

3. Add beans, zucchini, spinach, and half of the cheese to pan. Drizzle generously with olive oil, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Mix until well incorporated.

4. Bake for 30 minutes, adding more cheese to the top after 20 minutes of baking. Baking times may vary depending on thickness of vegetables used, which is why it’s always good to test.

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The Making: Blueberry Earl Grey Tea Scones

June 27th, 2012 · Recipes

Blueberry season is reaching its peak in the next few weeks. Eastern Market in Washington, DC already has some incredible ones from local farms in the region. It’s been easy to discover that I’ve gone through an entire pint in a day. I’m not really sure how I managed to save any to make these scones. Sheer willpower? I simply knew nothing would be more delicious on a Sunday morning in June than scones with fresh blueberries and a hint of earl grey tea.

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Blueberry Earl Grey Tea Scones
1 or 1 1/2 cups blueberries
1 1/2 teaspoon earl grey tea (or tea bag)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
5 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1 cup heavy cream

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
2. Freeze blueberries, if fresh. This will help keep them in tact when you add them to the mix later.
3. Warm the heavy cream over medium heat or in the microwave. Add earl grey tea bag, or loose earl grey tea in a tea ball, and remove from heat. Allow to steep for at least 5 minutes.
4. With food processor: In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade, combine flour, baking powder, sugar, and kosher salt. Pulse five times to combine. Then add the cubed cold butter, and pulse for one second, 12 times. Move mix to large bowl.
Without food processor: In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt, and mix briefly until incorporated. Add butter. Using two forks, cut butter into the flour mixture, until mixture is coarse like sand.
5. Add the Earl grey-heavy cream mixture to the flour mixture, stirring with a rubber spatula until well combined. Add blueberries and mix until incorporated. The blueberries, especially fresh ones, don’t hold well, so use a minimal amount of strokes.
6. Turn the dough onto the parchment paper-lined cookie sheet, and knead briefly. Shape into a circle, then use a knife or pizza cutter to cut into wedges. Separate the wedges and bake 12 to 15 minutes, or until golden brown.

A little extra note to my gluten-free friends: It’s easy to alter this recipe and make them gluten-free. I just exchanged the regular flour for King Arthur’s gluten-free all-purpose flour. The texture won’t quite be the same, but you’ll still be able to indulge without the repercussions of eating wheat.

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The Making: Chocolate Hazelnut Whiskey Cookies

June 21st, 2012 · Recipes

Recipe and post originally featured on The Post Social

I’m not sure what it is with me and whiskey. Maybe it’s the best way to reminisce about my time in Ireland, the late nights at the pub when impromptu music sessions would start and the air was filled with stories and laughter. There were drinks too, obviously, but the real intoxication was with life.

In the last year, I’ve gone from having one drink per year to possessing a steady supply of alcohol in my house for baking. Typically, I toss some in with fruit for crumbles, but once I realized cookies could be spiced up with a bit of alcohol too, I set myself to the task of creating a recipe. These chocolate hazelnut whiskey cookies were the first of my experiments to be perfected. The whiskey burns off as the cookies bake but leaves its subtle flavor behind, and the end result is a cookie that isn’t too sweet at all, but indulgent in its own way.

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Chocolate Hazelnut Whiskey Cookies
1 1/2 cups roasted hazelnuts
1/4 cup powdered sugar
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 3/4 cups unbleached flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
12 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cubed
1/3 cup Irish whiskey
1 large egg yolk

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

2. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the hazelnuts and sugars, pulsing 10 times at one-second pulses, until hazelnuts have been finely ground.

3. Add flour, salt and cocoa powder. Pulse three times until combined.

4. Add in butter, whiskey, and egg yolk. Pulse until dough forms into a ball.

5. Either roll cookie dough out and cut with cookie cutters, or (for quick and simple cookies), roll 1 teaspoon of dough into a ball and flatten into disc shapes.

6. Bake for approximately 25 minutes. Cookies will be soft coming out of the oven, but will harden after they cool.

Chunks of chocolate could be added to make these cookies even more amazing, and the whiskey flavor is revealed even further when paired with a glass of the same whiskey.

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The Making: Quinoa Arepas

June 10th, 2012 · Recipes

Recipe and Post originally featured on The Post Social

A trip to New York City always results in new culinary inspirations for me. My recent one was no different, except that the trip to Smorgasburg meant that my list of things-to-try was longer than usual. The outdoor food market on the waters of the Hudson is a delight for any foodie – there are always new cuisines and sweets and specialties to try. This time, a friend and I indulged in Columbian arepas, and I knew I needed to make them for myself.

The arepa itself is simple, a mix of corn meal, though I decided to make quinoa arepas to add a bit of a challenge. Traditionally they’re topped (if flat) or stuffed (if made into a little patty) with meat, but vegetarians like me can enjoy these as well. Since they’re fried in oil, I decided to keep my toppings light and mostly raw: fresh tomatoes, arugula, mozzarella, and avocado. But they’d also be delicious with sautéed mushrooms or greens, slices of chicken or other meat, or anything else you could imagine. They’re also usually topped with a red and a green hot sauce, though you could leave those out if you’re sensitive to spicy foods.

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Quinoa Arepas
Makes 6-8 arepas.

1 cup cooked light quinoa
1 cup masarepa (corn meal – white or yellow or a mixture of both)
3 tablespoons melted butter
1 1/2 teaspoons honey
3/4 – 1 cup whole milk or buttermilk
vegetable oil for frying

1. In a mixing bowl, combine cooked quinoa, masarepa, butter, and honey. Slowly mix in the milk with a fork until dough comes together. The dough will be wet but not crumbly. Add more milk if necessary, in small amounts. Knead dough briefly.

2. In a frying pan over medium high heat, add vegetable oil and allow oil to heat. Break off piece of dough, about what would be a 1/3 cup of it, and shape with hands, either into a 1/2-inch thick patty, as you would do for a burger, or ball then flatten, like a thick tortilla. Place your arepa in the frying pan and allow each side to cook until lightly brown and crispy on each side. Be careful when flipping them, so oil does not splatter. Transfer finished arepas to a paper towel to drain excess oil. Serve warm, top with delicious ingredients of your choice and enjoy!

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Recipe: Citrus Madeleines

April 11th, 2012 · Recipes

Afternoon tea has become a staple part of my diet recently. Usually I don’t do anything fancy: I’ll warm up a cup of water and make some toast and jam. But on occasion, I’ll spice things up a bit with something simple like madeleines. I’ve tried several variations so far, including chocolate ones, but my favorites are the ones I’ve tossed orange zest into. Somehow they compliment my tea (usually a rooibos) wonderfully.

I’m a huge fan of my five-meal day. There’s breakfast, brunch, lunch, tea, and supper. The meals are small ones, ideal for punctuating long days working on campus or at home. They’re the moments that I can put everything else aside and think. I can dream. I can close my eyes and indulge in all my senses.

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That’s precisely the way things are supposed to be, right?

Citrus Madeleines
(adapted from Cook’s Illustrated)
1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cake flour
pinch of kosher salt
2 large egg yolks
1 large egg
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons orange zest (you could also use lemon)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For pan:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1. Move oven rack to low center position. Heat to 375 deg F. For the pan, melt the butter and mix in the flour, then coat the pan well, without allowing the mixture to pool in the molds.
2. In a small bowl, sift together the flours and salt.
3. Using an electric mixer, beat the yolks and the whole egg together for about 3-5 minutes on high speed so mixture becomes light and fluffy. Add sugar, orange zest, and vanilla. Beat 3-5 minutes, so that a ribbon drops from the beaters.
4. Fold in flour mixture to wet mixture, then spoon the batter into the molds.
5. Bake for about 10 minutes. The tops with be golden and the cake will spring back if touched. Allow the madeleines proper time to cool. Store in an airtight container for three days or freeze for a month.

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The Making: Lentil Vegetable Soup

February 5th, 2012 · Recipes

I mentioned to a few friends that I’d fallen head over heels for the lentil vegetable soup I recently made. I was eating it greedily at work, in amazement that something so incredibly simple could be so delicious. In the spirit of a good soup, I had no recipe, just a hodgepodge of ingredients around the kitchen. But since then, people have been asking me for this recipe. Happily — but feel free to toss in whatever else you’d like.

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I should also warn readers that I attribute the quality of my meals to the quality of the ingredients. Fresh, organic is best, ideally bought at a farmer’s market. Extra points of things are heirloom. Once you go heirloom, you’ll never go back. Trust me.

Lentil Vegetable Soup
1 bunch carrots
1 sweet potato
1 Japanese yam (purple skin, white inside)
lots of water
2 The Organic Gourmet vegetable bouillon cubes
2 cups or so lentils

1. Slice and dice those carrots and potatoes.
2. In a large stock pot over medium-high heat, heat some olive oil. Add carrots and potatoes and allow to simmer for 10 minutes, mixing occasionally.
3. Add water to pot to cover carrots and potatoes, plus some more. Add in bouillon cubes and cover. Bring to a boil. Then add in lentils. Decide if you maybe need to add more water (learn to trust those instincts). Cook uncovered until lentils are done, about 1 hour (this depends on your lentils).
4. Jar with the intention of freezing. Refuse to freeze because it’s too good fresh. Start looking forward to lunch every day.

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The Making: Tuscan White Bean Soup

February 21st, 2011 · Uncategorized

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Tuscan White Bean Soup
1 package Rancho Gordo Yellow Eye Beans
2-3 Roma tomatoes
1 shallot (or small onion)
garlic, chopped
spinach (or kale)
2 vegetable bouillon cubes (The Organic Gourmet is the brand I use)
(other spices you want)

1. Soak beans in water overnight. Drain and rinse. Put in a pot with cold water and bring it to a boil and add bouillon cubes, then turn heat down, allowing beans to cook until tender. This should take about 40 minutes to 1 hour, depends on the beans you use and their age.
2. In a pan over medium-high heat, saute shallot/onion in about 1 1/2 tbsp. olive oil until it softens, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and continue to saute for 2-3 minutes more, until garlic is golden brown at edges. Add tomatoes and cook until tomatoes are soft about 5-7 minutes.
3. Add tomato/shallot mixture to soup. Add spinach and cook until spinach wilts but is still a vibrant green. Serve warm.

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