Thursday, January 31, 2013

Pistachio and Apple Salad with Gingery Lemon Poppy Seed Dressing

As the tot and I ambled to the nearby park for "lets shovel some sand in the castle-shaped bucket" time, I noticed a lemon wedge.  As did Max.  He politely gave me the used lemon wedge, and I threw it back on the ground, distracting his attention by pointing out the helicopter overhead.  I, of course, did not want to appear ungrateful.

When we actually arrived at the park, I noticed a wedge of lime and a slice of orange.  Used.  Luckily, Max did not notice these and happily began shoveling .  It was strange - finding these lonely remains of fruit scattered on the sidewalks and through the park.  What happened to the rest of these fruits?  Is this a sign that I should be making something with citrus today? Why such variety in citrus?  Is there an outbreak of scurvy?

These questions will forever remain unanswered.  And while this story is rather random and rambly, the mix of pistachio and apple should never be viewed as such.  These aren't two strangers passing through the night.  Pistachio and apple are like two people who just meet, but instantly find that comfortable, well-worn rapport of long time best friends.

I wish I had noticed their amiability before.  Though I have an unfortunate habit of not noticing things around me. I sometimes need to be pulled back from walking into oncoming traffic.

This combo occurred to us one morning while eating a "breakfastable," a morning homage to our beloved Lunchables we delighted in finding in our lunchboxes as kids.  When putting together a "breakfastable," we place crackers, fruit, nuts, cheese, and bacon on the table and have at it. It is during one of these that we discovered the phenomenon of pistachios and apples.

And I took the morning citrus wedge sightings as a sign.  I made a lemony poppy seed dressing with a hint of ginger to coat a salad made with pistachios, apple chunks, mustard greens, arugula, and browned chicken.

1/2 pound chicken breast, chopped
kosher salt
freshly ground pepper
ground ginger

2 cups mustard greens
2 cups spinach
2 cups arugula
2 minced celery stalks
1-2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup roasted and salted pistachios
1 Granny Smith apple, chopped
sprinkling of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon poppy seeds
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons honey
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
black pepper, to taste

Sprinkle chicken with salt, pepper and some ground ginger.  Place canola oil in pan over medium high heat and add chicken.  Brown the sides, and take off heat once the chicken has cooked through.

In a big bowl, toss cooked chicken, mustard greens, spinach, arugula, celery, Parmesan, pistachios, and apple.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Whisk together vinegar, lemon juice, olive oil, poppy seeds, salt, mustard, honey, ginger, and black pepper.  Pour desired amount of dressing over the salad and toss to coat.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Buffalo Chicken Dip

This is being posted under duress.

I really don't want to give a false impression of myself.  I love decadence.  I love cheese and pasta and bread and all the things that I'm supposed to say that "I love but I can only eat a teeny tiny bit once in a blue moon."

Except I eat the things that I want when I want.

I am not the one who says "Ohhhh I make this for my husband and friends while they watch the game."  I mean, what am I supposed to be eating instead?  Hurriedly stuffing raw carrots or quinoa with Craisins in my mouth, hoping noone will catch me actually eating something?

I am not one of these women.  You won't find me laughing alone while eating a salad.  I stand firmly against the idea that women are supposed to feel bad about what they eat and should be laughing while chomping down on some mixed greens.

I hate that nonsense, the gender-ization of food. Sometimes I want some chicken wings.  Sometimes I want a salad.  The same goes for Seth.

The problem is the buffalo sauce.  The taste and smell just get to me!  Just like my genetic issue preventing me from enjoying stuffing/dressing,  a similar one prevents me from relishing the phenomenon known as buffalo chicken.  I wish there was something I could do to correct this situation.  Dear Big Pharma - please work on this for me!

Seth, of course, adores buffalo chicken anything.  And after pestering me about a dip for months, I caved.  I can't even remember why that happened.  It just did.  Luck happened to rain down on him in torrents that day, apparently.

And don't worry - raw carrots and quinoa with Craisins did not grace my lips.

1 pound thinly sliced chicken breast strips.
garlic powder
seasoned salt
1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 small bunch scallions, chopped
10 ounces Franks Red Hot Sauce
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
8 ounces cream cheese
1 cup blue cheese dressing
1/2 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
lots of celery

Sprinkle the seasonings on top of the chicken breast (both sides).  Heat (medium-high) the olive oil in a cast iron (preferably) skillet.  Place the seasoned chicken in skillet and brown (about 3 minutes).  Flip and brown the other side.  Take off heat once the chicken has cooked through. Shred or chop the chicken pieces so that chicken can be dispersed throughout the dip.

In a saucepan over low heat, melt cream cheese, butter, and blue cheese dressing together.  Stir in the chicken, scallions, and Franks.  Pour into a greased baking dish and top with the cheeses.  Bake at 350 until nice and bubbly and hot, and the cheese is all melted.  Sprinkle some chopped celery on top.  Serve with chips and celery.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Spicy Nori Popcorn

It is harrowing to watch.  Almost every time a movie or television depicts people watching a movie, a giant bowl of popcorn is placed on the coffee table.

And then it sits there.  And sits.  And no one takes any of the popcorn. Not one hand swoops down to retrieve a handful of this salty snack.  Not one mouth is seen munching.  It is one of the saddest sights to behold.

When this happens, Seth and I experience intense distress on behalf of the popcorn.  Delicious crunchy puffs just being all lonely in their giant bowl.  Unappreciated.  Neglected.

We would never treat popcorn in such a disrespectful manner.

When it it is deemed to be a popcorn making/eating occasion, a festive atmosphere settles into our home.  We sing the popcorn song (consisting solely of the words "popcorn, oh yeah!" repeated over and over and over and over until someone is finally like OKAY, lets stop with that now) whilst making the ASL sign for popcorn.  We might be extremely annoying people to be around.

Some people have fancy salad bowls.  We technically have a fancy salad bowl.  But salad rarely graces its wooden sloped sides.  Our fancy salad bowl is really our fancy popcorn bowl!  A wood bowl properly showcases popped kernels of corn.  Something about the highlights and shadows really makes it pop.  And no, we didn't use it for the photograph.  That bowl is our private bowl.  You get your own.

And then we dig into that glorious bowl of popcorn.  It isn't just an ornament to movie watching.  It is THE reason for movie watching.

So when we saw Cooking Light's prediction of the top food trends of 2013 slideshow, and saw popcorn on the list, we were stoked.  Deliriously delighted.  Popcorn will finally have its moment!  Its days of being passed over, overlooked, and ignored will be over this year!  2013 will totally be popcorn's year.  So here is a popcorn recipe and song to celebrate its moment... Popcorn, Oh Yeah!

3 tablespoons corn oil
1/2 cup corn kernels
2 -3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon ground nori goma furikake (run the nori goma furikake through a spice grinder or food processor)
1/2 teaspoon ichimi togarashi chile powder (or to taste)
1/2 teaspoon ground toasted kosher salt and Szechuan peppercorns (we got this technique from Fiona Smith's book Dim Sum - place 1/4 cup kosher salt and 4 tablespoons Szechuan peppercorns in a skillet and cook over low heat for about 3 minutes, until the mixture has become fragrant. Then run the mixture through a spice grinder).

Heat the corn oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add three kernels of popcorn and cover pot with lid. Once those have popped, add the 1/2 cup of kernels. Shake the pot frequently. In a small bowl, stir the melted butter and the sesame oil together.  Once the popping has stopped, turn off heat, add the butter and oil mixture and stir to coat.  Add the rest of the seasonings.  That's it.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Sweet Potato Fries with Blue Cheese and Chives and a Citrus Blue Cheese Dip

Anxiety permeated the air.  While making these, I kept having visions of grabbing the tray without oven mitts.  I have done this before.  And I really do not want to do it again. It didn't happen this time, thankfully.  But it will.  The visions are most definitely a premonition of an upcoming kitchen accident.

There is an episode of Seinfeld where Elaine is at a job interview and gets into a discussion with the interviewer about whether grace is an all or nothing attribute or whether it is something of which you can have varying amounts   Based purely on my own lived experience, I have to say all or nothing.  I have none.  From where I'm sitting everyone else has "all."  I completely lack it.  I get so caught up in my head that I run into doors, into corners, burn myself, drop things (countless dishes have been broken by me), and I have an absurd amount of bruises dotting my arms and legs.  You can play "what constellation do you think these look like" with my bruises.

And this lack of general grace is, not surprisingly, mirrored in athletics.  I am not an athlete.  I lack all sorts of coordination skills.  Watching me attempt to play a sport is like watching a drunken newborn deer just trying to figure out how to work its legs.

Perhaps because of my lack of athletic grace and ability, I don't really enjoy watching sports.  I never know what is going on with them.  Perhaps it is jealousy masquerading as ennui.  Who knows.

But it is that time of year when a certain football game actually comes into our purview.  Most times we watch, sometimes we don't.  But we usually at least know when the Superbowl is being played, and we generally see it as an excuse to eat some fun food.  Like some roasted sweet potatoes sticks.  Dunked in a lemony blue cheese sauce.  Or topped with it.  Whatever floats your boat.

Sweet Potato Fries:
2 sweet potatoes, cut into sixteenths
1-2 tablespoons canola oil
kosher salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/3 cup chopped chives
1-2 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese

Blue Cheese Dip:
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
2 teaspoons lemon juice
kosher salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
cayenne, to taste

Sweet Potato Fries:
Heat oven to 425. Place potatoes in large bowl, coat with 1-2 tablespoons oil, then sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Place on baking sheet (I line mine with a Silpat) and into the oven.  Get one side crispy, then flip each fry, for roughly 30 minutes total roasting time. Once cooked, sprinkle with chopped chives and blue cheese.

Blue Cheese Dip:
Mix all together, either serve on top of fries or as a dip.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Creative Cooking Crew: Vegan Challenge - Mixed Mushroom Yakitori and Mushroom Scallion Potstickers

This is our inaugural month with the Creative Cooking Crew (hosted by Laz of Lazaro Cooks and Joan of Foodalogue)! Doesn't "inaugural" have a nice ring to it?  Just like the President being sworn in on Sunday, this feels a little bit like a swearing in for us, and we are super pumped.

This month's challenge had a vegan theme  -"Choose one of your favorite rich, heavy, fatty animal-protein based meals and give it a healthy VEGAN spin.”

When we heard "vegan," our minds immediately translated that to "MUSHROOMS!" Lots and lots of mushrooms.  So many mushrooms were purchased that the cashier at the market appeared concerned.  He asked "why would we need so many mushrooms, are you making mushroom stew?" We said no - panfried dumplings and teriyaki mushroom skewers.  He asked us if we were serving that with a side of mushrooms. I was irrationally amused by that image.

In my defense, I wasn't sure how many mushrooms to get (after all, things happen and extras are always good!).  We ended up having so many leftover mushrooms from the challenge that I was able to make both a beef stroganoff and a pesto pasta dish with them.  So I guess the cashier's initial concern at the volume of mushrooms making their way down the conveyor belt was well-founded.

We chose to mushroom-ize two meaty dishes that make us crazy for their umami, savory deliciousness.  Two dishes that when placed in front of us, turn us into uncivilized primates, attacking the pile of food with gusto, and never speaking a word to each other until the task of eating has been completed.  Only then will conversation and civilized behavior resume.  These meaty grilled pops basted in teriyaki sauce are one of those dishes.  Here, we swapped the thinly sliced beef for a mix of mushrooms - King Oyster, shiitake, and cremini, and we added pineapple chunks and slices of jalapeno for additional flavor.   Pork and scallion potstickers are another of these dishes.  Dipping panfried, pork and scallion flavored dumplings into spicy, garlicky, soy-vinegar sauce brings us joy.  Utter joy.  So we turned our meaty friends into vegan versions using mushrooms in the filling.  I would just like to point out that I intended to use oyster sauce in the dumpling filling.  But at that very crucial period of time right before dumping some in, I realized that this was not a vegan sauce.  Which now is obvious.  But then, not so much.  So I threw in some tea instead.  

As it happens, we were almost forced to actually turn the mountain of mushrooms into stew - as rain started tricking ever so lightly on the grill.  But somehow, this rain stayed at a gentle drizzle for just a few minutes then stopped, only to resume again once we were done grilling.  Which was lucky, or we would have missed out on some pretty amazing skewers.  The teriyaki mushrooms made us just as deliriously excited/primal as their beefy counterparts.  The mushroom potstickers are good on their own, but don't really taste anything like the pork-based originals.  All in all, a fun experiment that yielded some yummy dishes we may never have tried out otherwise.  So happy "Inauguration Day!"  To us, and the president...  in three days...  And thanks to Creative Cooking Crew for the opportunity to try something new!

P.S. Check out all the great work done by the Creative Cooking Crew team here.

Mixed Mushroom Yakitori

2/3 cup mirin
1 cup soy sauce
4 teaspoons rice vinegar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
¼ cup brown sugar
7 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1 tablespoon minced jalapeno pepper
1 inch strip of orange peel

king oyster mushrooms (we used about 4 oz of each kind of mushroom)
shiitake mushrooms
cremini mushrooms
pineapple chunks (about 1 cup of fresh pineapple chunks)
jalapeno slices (we used about 1 jalapeno)
1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 tablespoon water
10-15 bamboo or wooden skewers
5 tablespoons canola oil (for grilling)
chopped scallions, for serving
rice, for serving

Place the mirin in a medium pot and boil over high heat. Reduce to medium low and add the soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, brown sugar, garlic, ginger, jalapeno, and orange peel. Simmer for 20 minutes. In a small bowl, whisk the cornstarch with water. Bring the sauce to a boil and thicken with the cornstarch mixture, constantly stirring. Let the sauce cook for 5 more minutes, tasting to make sure the cornstarch has fully dissolved. Once ready, pour into small bowl and set aside.

Take bamboo or wooden skewers and soak in cool water for 30 minutes.

Preheat grill to high (roughly 400°). Just before grilling, take mushrooms, pineapples, and jalapeno slices and thread onto skewers. You want equal parts of each type of mushroom on each one.  Brush canola oil onto both sides of mushrooms, pineapples and jalapenos.  Place canola oil in a small bowl. Using a paper towel or cloth, dip in canola oil and rub over hot grates to prevent sticking. Lay skewers over heat and stay nearby to monitor. Once bottom is a little charred, brush the tops with canola oil, and flip. Brush again with thickened teriyaki sauce. Once the bottoms are slightly charred again, flip and brush with thickened teriyaki sauce, so both sides are sauced. Remove and top with freshly chopped scallions. Serve with rice.

Mushroom and Scallion Potstickers

For the dough:
We made our own dough from Andrea Nguyen's book Asian Dumplings, but you could just use store-bought wrappers

For the filling:
4 cups chopped cremini mushrooms
4 chopped scallions
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground dried mushrooms (run some dried mushrooms through a spice grinder)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/4 cup brewed Darjeeling tea
3/4 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/4 teaspoon truffle oil
dash of liquid smoke
ground cinnamon, for serving

For the dipping sauce:
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
1 1/2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon chile oil
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon water
1 garlic clove, sliced
1 chopped scallion
sesame seeds sprinkled on top

For the potsticker filling:
Mix the mushrooms, scallions, and garlic in large bowl.  In a small bowl, stir dried mushrooms, salt, pepper, soy sauce, tea, vinegar, oils, and liquid smoke.  Pour over the mushroom mixture and stir.  Let the filling sit for 30 minutes to blend the flavors together.  Take a potsticker wrapper and place a tablespoon of the mushroom mixture in the middle.  After sitting, the mixture will be pretty liquidy, so use a slotted spoon to get the mushroom mix out.  Too much liquid in the wrapper will make them difficult to stay shut.  Close the wrapper into a half moon shape, then press a side down on a lined baking sheet, so that it now has three sides and can stay upright.  Repeat, until filling is used up.

To pan fry, place skillet over high heat, and pour a few tablespoons of canola oil in.  Once heated, place potstickers in, flat side down, and let sizzle for a minute or so until you can see the bottoms turning brown.  Reduce heat to low, pour in about 1/4 cup water, and immediately cover with lid.  Once water is almost all cooked off, and sizzling can be heard again, remove lid, and carefully flip dumplings onto one side.  Once that side has browned, flip them onto other side and brown.  Remove, place onto paper towel, and sprinkle cinnamon over top.

For the dipping sauce:
Mix everything together in a small bowl, and serve with the potstickers.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Pretzel Milkshake

So there's this episode of the West Wing, bear with me... Yes we're about ten years late to game on this show. Anyways, Josh and some other White House staffers take the president's under-21 daughter as well as the president's young personal aide out for a drink.  To a bar.  When the president finds out, he tells Josh that when Josh told him he was taking them for a drink, he thought he was taking them out for some malteds.  Josh asks him, what do you think this is, a production of Our Town?

Though I am of the age for which a bar should be seen as a dispenser of sweet nectar, a wonderful adult refuge, I would be more excited to be taken out for a malted.  I've never had one!  But it sounds fabulous!  Though I may not have been shown the wonders of a malted as of yet, I do become deliriously excited about going out for milkshakes.  I've been assuming malteds are a relative of a milkshake, perhaps I am way off base here?

Anyways, a few months ago, we visited the East Coast, and my dad thought he was taking us out for a cheesesteak at this awesome, personality-filled diner near his work, called Bobby-O's.  Now, don't get the wrong idea, the cheesesteaks were great, super delicious!

But it was their extensive milkshake menu that was the total highlight. Column after column of tantalizing combinations - chocolate and caramel, vanilla cherry, etc, etc.  We chose a Milky Way one, because why not?  It was wonderful.  One of the best I have had!

A few days later, we made my dad take us there again.  For milkshakes.  And for cheesesteaks.  But really, for milkshakes.  This time we got a vanilla pretzel one.  It sounds so simple - vanilla and pretzel - but it's one of those combinations...  They come together and are this vanilla-pretzel-filled, sweet and salty, drinkable confection that gets into your head like an earworm.

Like the bars of a song you can't scrub away from your brain, this milkshake will stay there, forever dangling its exquisite ambrosial liquid in front of your face until you can no longer take it any more.  At which point, only two options are available.  Spend about a thousand dollars to fly the family across the country for a milkshake at Bobby O's.  Or make one at home.  One of these is significantly cheaper than the other.  So we went with that.  I think I would have gotten along famously with President Bartlett.  If he wasn't, you know, a fictional character.

As a postscript, I would be remiss if I didn't provide a warning about this milkshake.  It is apparently not only appealing to humans, but to our four legged friends as well.  Our cat Rambo became a bit protective over ours. He attempted to claim them as his.  And  I have a report from my friend Jess that when she made it, one of her pups was smitten as well.  So you may have to share.

2 cups homemade vanilla ice cream
3 tablespoons ground pretzels (toss a few handfuls in a food processor and grind), plus more for serving
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup milk (we used 2% because that is what we had around)

I put all the ingredients in the bowl of a mixer and use the paddle attachment to mix everything together.  Or throw in a blender.  Whatever works for you!  Crumble some pretzel on top as a garnish.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Smoky Deviled Eggs

Deviled eggs sound both epic and silly all at once.  They conjure up the image of a creepy, horned, underworld creature-guy with a pointy tail - holding a pitchfork in one hand an egg in the other.  And a malicious grin on his face. Encased in a cloud of smoke.

And when there is news that deviled eggs are in the same room as you, it comes with just a smidge of disappointment when it is revealed to you that there is no devil.  Just eggs.

They may be eggs, but they are indeed a wonderful, wonderful thing.  Who am I kidding, I love eggs.  How brilliant of an idea was it to take out that creamy yolk, make it even more creamy, season it, then stuff it back into its cooked white shell?  Most definitely brilliant.

So even though deviled eggs will most likely not (I mean, never say never and all that) come with a supernatural evil creature, these particular ones do actually come with a bit of smoke.

I'm not gonna lie - we are kinda obsessed with smokiness.  When smoked paprika, coriander, and cumin come together something magical (perhaps devilish?), happens.  I'm not really sure what that is, but this alchemy makes things very fun and yummy to eat.  This isn't the first time you have seen these flavors here, and I guarantee it won't be the last.  We are much too smitten to turn our backs on these spices. We've recently taken to making these smoky deviled eggs.  We even made them for breakfast, feeling a random desire for stuffed eggs one morning.  And indulging in an unusual breakfast food made me feel a bit devilish, and I happily embraced my pitchfork and horns and pointy tail.

7 hard boiled eggs, peeled
4 tablespoons olive oil mayonnaise
Just a splash of liquid smoke
Just a splash of white wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon cumin
pinch ancho chile powder
1/8 teaspoon dijon mustard
paprika, for garnish
chopped chives, for garnish

Halve the eggs, and remove the yolks, placing into a medium-sized bowl.  Add the mayonnaise, liquid smoke, vinegar, spices, and Dijon mustard.  Mix everything together with a fork, getting everything nice and smooth.  Using a small spoon, stuff the mixture back into the holes of the egg whites.  Sprinkle with paprika and chopped chives for garnish. Refrigerate until serving.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Banana and Almond Smoothies

So it is January, that month on our calendar that feels so shiny and new and full of promise.  A month of fresh starts and new beginnings.  For us, one of these beginnings is becoming part of Cooking Light's Bloggers' Connection!  A couple times of month you will find us sharing recipes, information, etc. from Cooking Light.  Of course, we'll make sure to add our own twists and adaptations to give it that Home Skillet edge.

Another of these beginnings is a parent/toddler art class for Max and me.  I hated art classes passionately growing up.  I continue to have flashbacks of all the awful projects that I created.  I have zero ability to make my hands create what my mind sees.  So this should be an interesting experience.  And if you're think Max will be doing all the work, than you don't know Max.  He has... a way. 

So where was I going with that?  Well, smoothies are my favorite snack when I need something quick and substantial and yummy.  I saw these peanut butter, banana, and flax seed smoothies on Cooking Light and figured it would fit the bill!  I didn't have flax seeds, so I substituted some toasted almond slices and figured I would run with the whole combination of almond, vanilla, and banana flavors. I've been loving the taste and find myself craving it often.  This will be the breakfast that pumps me up to take on that parent/toddler art class, and maybe my art skills will begin to improve.  Okay, that's never going to happen, but maybe Max's will!  A delicious beginning to a new beginning.

1/2 cup vanilla almond milk
1/2 cup honey Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons toasted almond slices
2 tablespoons almond butter
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1 banana
1/8 teaspoon roasted Saigon cinnamon

Place everything in a bowl and blend together with an immersion blender.  Or place in a blender and blend - whatever is easiest for you!  Serve with cinnamon sticks if desired.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Roasted Slices of Carnival Squash Doused in a Gingery Brown Butter

Carnival squash is my very favorite squash.  And this is because of its name.  I have yet to find sources to confirm this, but I am positive that it derives its name from what was found inside by a person long long ago.  They totally found a carnival inside!  Whenever I cut one of these open, I become convinced that I too will experience this - a whole miniature Dr. Seuss-like carnival - exotic and fancily dressed animals, parades, ferris wheels and carousels with horses, game booths, entertainers in glittery sparkly costumes - will be found in my squash. This has yet to actually happen to me, but I will never give up hope that such a thing will come tumbling from the one on my cutting board.  No other squash provides that twinge of excitement when opening it.  Acorn squash? I mean, I guess it would be cool to find an acorn inside if you were a squirrel.  But I am not a squirrel.  Butternut? What is a butternut I would have to ask.  Delicata?  Now this one is kinda neat - there have been reports that a flower and teeny birds have been spotted inside.  But these do not a carnival make. A carnival, now that is indeed exciting. And though I have yet to be the lucky enough to find an actual carnival, drizzling roasted slices of this squash in a gingery, cinnamony, juniper berry brown butter is like a carnival of flavors for my taste buds.

1 carnival squash, halved then sliced
olive oil
1 stick butter
1 tablespoon grated ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground juniper berries
1/2 teaspoon Saigon cinnamon
juice from 1/2 of Meyer lemon
fleur de sel, to taste

To roast the squash:  Heat oven to 400.  Place the slices of squash on a baking sheet (I line mine with a Silpat).  Drizzle with a tablespoon or so of olive oil and sprinkle with a pinch of salt.  Roast for about 10-15 minutes then flip the slices.  Once those have become nice and brown as well, take out of the oven and drizzle with desired amount of the gingery brown butter mixture.

To make the brown butter mixture:  In large saute pan, add butter, ginger, juniper berries, and cinnamon.  Melt then allow the butter brown, about 5-7 minutes total.  You will see brown specks that have formed on the bottom of the pan.  Be careful to not burn the butter. Take off heat and add the lemon juice. Finish with the fleur de sel. Spoon desired amount over the the roasted wedges, making sure to get all those solid bits from the butter.
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