Kabocha Squash, Sausage, & Cornbread Gratin

I am in love with kabocha squash- it is just so creamy and sweet. This dish may be the ultimate autumn casserole. It was a little bit involved to prepare but the results were worth every minute.

This recipe was adapted from Bon Appetit, contributed by Claire Saffitz. I slightly modified the proportions and method. Fabulous!

4 to 6 servings
  • 1 small to medium kabocha squash
  • 7 large garlic cloves
  • 3 6-inch-long rosemary sprigs
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • Kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 bunch Tuscan kale (I used a 10 oz bag), ribs removed and torn into 1-2″ pieces (about 8 cups)
  • 2 medium shallots
  • 1 pound fresh pork sausage, such as sweet Italian (about 4 links)
  • 2 cups crumbled cornbread, from a 6×4 inch piece
  • 2 T unsalted butter
  • 1 T olive oil
  1. Bake cornbread. (I used Trader Joe’s Cornbread Mix.) Set aside to cool.
  2. Position a rack in center of oven; preheat to 400°, preferably on convection.
  3. Cut off stem end of kabocha squash and rest on cut side. Cut squash in half. Scoop out seeds and stringy innards with a spoon; discard. Cut squash into 1″-thick slices. Using your knife, slice off the tough peel and layer of light green flesh beneath.
  4. Smash the garlic cloves with the side of the knife and remove peel.
  5. Combine squash, garlic, rosemary sprigs, heavy cream, and ¼ cup water in a medium saucepan. Season generously with salt and pepper and bring to a gentle simmer over medium heat. Cover pot and reduce heat to low. Simmer until squash is tender and easily mashes when pressed with the back of a spoon, 20-25 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, grasp stem end of each kale leaf. Starting at stem, slide your other hand along length of leaf to strip leaves. Repeat with entire bunch; discard stems. Tear leaves into 1″–2″ pieces (you should have about 8 cups).
  7. Peel 2 shallots and thinly slice crosswise.
  8. Use the tip of your knife to prick the sausages all over in several places.
  9. Crumble cornbread into coarse crumbs (you should have about 2 cups).
  10. When squash is tender, remove saucepan from heat. Uncover and pluck out rosemary sprigs, leaving leaves inside pot. Transfer entire mixture to a medium bowl (reserve saucepan) and mash with the back of a spoon or a potato masher until no distinct pieces of squash remain. Season with salt and pepper.
  11. Wipe out pot with paper towels and heat over medium. Add butter and heat until melted. Add shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 4 minutes.
  12. Add kale to the pot, a couple of handfuls at a time, stirring to wilt between each batch, and cook until leaves are dark green and wilted, about 3 minutes; season with salt and pepper.
  13. Transfer to kale to the bowl with squash, then fold to incorporate.
  14. Heat the olive oil in the same saucepan over medium and add sausage. Cook, turning once, until browned on both sides (they won’t be cooked through), about 6 minutes. Transfer to cutting board and let cool for a few minutes (reserve saucepan again and do not pour out fat from sausages–you’re going to use it one more time).
  15. Meanwhile, using a rubber spatula, scrape squash and kale mixture into a shallow 2-qt. baking dish and smooth top. (I coated the baking dish with cooking oil spray.)
  16. Cut sausages crosswise into 2″ pieces and nestle into top of squash mixture, spacing evenly.
  17. Heat the drippings remaining in the saucepan over medium and add cornbread crumbs. Cook, stirring, just until crumbs are evenly coated in fat. Scatter cornbread crumbs over squash mixture; season with more salt and pepper.
  18. Bake gratin until crumbs are toasty and brown and sausages are cooked through (you can insert an instant-read thermometer into center of sausage to check if registers 140°, or just cut into one with a knife), about 15 minutes.
  19. Let cool 5–10 minutes before serving.
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Strawberry Ice Cream

Speaking of strawberry cocktails… the added bonus of this amazing fresh strawberry ice cream is that the sweetened vodka-based macerating liquid makes a wonderful base for a celebratory summer cocktail. Nice! 🙂

The texture and color of this ice cream was absolutely incredible. It was the perfect use for my precious, freshly-picked strawberries. The ice cream recipe is from Martha Stewart Living; I included a recipe for the bonus cocktail below.

For the Ice Cream:

Yield: 1 1/2 quarts

  • 1 pound strawberries, hulled and halved (about 3 cups), plus 8 ounces more, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup low-fat milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2/3 cup sugar, plus 1/2 cup more for macerating
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/4 cup vodka or silver tequila
  1. In a blender or Vitamix, puree halved strawberries with lemon juice and salt. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve. (You should have 1 1/2 cups of puree; reserve any excess for another use.)
  2. Combine milk, cream, 2/3 cup sugar, and corn syrup in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer 2 minutes.
  3. Strain mixture into a bowl set in an ice bath and let stand, stirring occasionally, until cold, about 5 minutes.
  4. Stir in strawberry puree. Refrigerate, covered, at least 2 hours and up to overnight.
  5. Stir together remaining 1/2 cup sugar and vodka. Add chopped strawberries and macerate at room temperature at least 2 hours, or in the refrigerator, covered, up to 12 hours.
  6. Process puree mixture in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. When it has the texture of soft serve, drain macerated berries (reserving syrup for another use) and fold into ice cream.
  7. Transfer to a loaf pan and freeze, wrapped in plastic, at least 4 hours and up to 1 week.
  8. Let stand at room temperature 10 minutes before serving.

For the Bonus Cocktail:

Yield: 1 cocktail

  • fresh juice from 1/4 large lime
  • 3 oz strawberry-vodka-sugar macerating syrup
  • tonic (for a sweeter cocktail) or seltzer (less sweet), as desired
  1. Combine lime juice and macerated strawberry syrup in a glass.
  2. Fill with ice and top with tonic or seltzer, as desired.

Creamy Tagliatelle with Asparagus & Herbs

I love springtime pasta dishes loaded with vegetables. This version was creamy, rich, and absolutely delicious. Chopping the asparagus so that it could be completely incorporated throughout the pasta was genius.

This recipe was adapted from Ruth Rogers of River Café London: Thirty Years of Recipes and the Story of a Much-Loved Restaurant cookbook, via Food 52. I modified the proportions to use one pound of pasta. I also left the asparagus tips intact. Amazing!

Yield: Serves 6 to 8

  • 2 1/4 pounds thin asparagus spears
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 6 tablespoons chopped mixed fresh herbs (basil, mint, parsley, oregano)
  • 3/4 cup (12 tablespoons) heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 14 to 16 ounces taglierini, tagliatelle, or pappardelle pasta
  • 5 to 6 ounces Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, freshly grated
  1. Trim or snap off the tough ends from the asparagus spears. Cut into 1-inch pieces; reserve tips in a separate bowl.
  2. Finely chop the 1-inch pieces of asparagus all together with 2 of the garlic cloves and the herbs in a food processor. (I chopped the garlic and herbs first and then added the asparagus.)
  3. Bring the cream to a boil in a saucepan with the remaining 4 whole garlic cloves and simmer until the cloves are soft. Remove from the heat; discard the garlic.
  4. Heat the olive oil and butter in a separate large pan and sauté half of the chopped asparagus for 5 minutes, stirring. (I used a 14-inch skillet.)
  5. Add the rest of the chopped asparagus-herb mixture and the reserved asparagus tips, followed by the flavored cream. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until the cream begins to thicken, about 6 minutes. Season to taste. Remove from the heat and keep warm.
  6. Cook the pasta in a generous amount of boiling salted water, then drain thoroughly.
  7. Add to the sauce along with about half of the Parmesan and toss together.
  8. Serve with the remaining Parmesan.

Two Years Ago: Linguine with Asparagus & Egg

Three Years Ago: Rigatoni with Lemon-Chile Pesto & Grated Egg

Four Years Ago: Ricotta Gnocchi with Asparagus, Peas, & Mushrooms

Five Years Ago: Baked Shells with Cauliflower & Taleggio

Lalla Mussa Dal

This dish was so creamy and delicious I could barely stand it. The spicy kick made it absolute perfection.

This recipe was adapted from The Yellow Chilli Cookbook by Indian celebrity chef Sanjeev Kapoor, via The New York Times. This creamy lentil stew is his signature dish. I reduced the butter (by HALF), doubled the recipe, increased the garlic, used jalapeños, and used a pressure cooker to expedite the cooking process.

I served it over brown Basmati rice with sautéed spinach with garlic and cumin on the side. Wonderful!

  • cup whole black gram lentils (sabut urad)
  • 1/4 cup whole green gram lentils (split mung beans or abut moong)
  • 2 green chiles (such as Indian harimirch or serrano), cut into thin strips (I used jalapeños, cut into rounds)
  • 1 2-inch piece ginger, cut into thin strips
  • ½ cup melted unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups tomato purée
  • teaspoons Kashmiri red chili powder, or cayenne
  • teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons crushed dried fenugreek leaves (kasoori methi)
  • 16 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • cup heavy cream
  • coarse salt, to taste
  • 1-inch piece ginger, cut into thin strips, for garnish, as desired
  • brown Basmati rice, for serving
  1. Mix together both types of lentils and rinse thoroughly in salted water. Drain. If using a pressure cooker, cover with 2-inches of water; cook on low for 10 minutes. (Alternatively, add 1 cup water and soak for 1 hour.)
  2. Drain lentils again, add to a small pot with 1 cup water and bring to a boil. Skim the scum and dirt off the top and discard.
  3. Strain the lentils and return them to the pot. Add 1 cup water, the green chiles and ginger and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes.
  4. Add 1/4 cup of the butter and simmer on low heat, uncovered, for 45 minutes, stirring often and mashing with the back of a big spoon as the lentils soften.
  5. After about 35 minutes, melt the remaining 1/4 cup butter in a deep nonstick pan; add the tomato purée and sauté on low heat until fat rises to the surface. (I used a 4-quart enameled cast iron pot.)
  6. Add the red chili powder (or cayenne), ground coriander, fenugreek leaves and garlic to the tomatoes and cook for a couple of minutes, stirring constantly, until the mixture begins to dry out and stick to the pan.
  7. Add the lentils and mix well. Add the cream and mix well. Add 1 to 2 cups water (for desired texture) and salt to taste, and bring to a boil.
  8. Serve hot, over rice and garnished with ginger strips, as desired.

One Year Ago: Shrimp in Green Mole

Two Years Ago: Stuffed Poblano Casserole

Three Years Ago: Sautéed Haricots Verts with Mushrooms & Shallots

Four Years Ago: Chana Dal and Spinach cooked with Onions (Mughlai Saag)

Five Years Ago:  Sri Lankan Coconut Chicken Curry with Cashews

Turkey à la King

Is it okay to make a comfort food dish using leftovers from a comfort food meal? Hope so! 😉

This dish reminds me of a chicken dish that I used to make –long ago– for my husband served over waffles. No wonder he loved this upgraded version! It was a wonderful way to use the rest of our leftover Thanksgiving turkey. It would also be fabulous with rotisserie chicken meat.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Sam Sifton. I doubled the recipe to accommodate all of my leftover turkey. We ate this creamy concoction with my favorite Sweet Potato Biscuits, but it would also be amazing served over waffles, as a crepe filling, or with noodles. My son ate some over toast. Great.

  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter
  • 2-3 T olive oil
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 to 3 1/2 cups turkey or chicken stock, low-sodium if store-bought
  • 1 pound sliced mushrooms, ideally wild (I used cremini mushrooms)
  • 3 cups shredded cooked turkey or rotisserie chicken
  • cup heavy cream or half & half
  • cups frozen peas
  • tablespoons dry sherry
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • finely chopped parsley, for garnish
  1. Make a roux. In a small saucepan set over medium heat, melt 4 tablespoons of the butter. When it begins to foam, sprinkle the flour over it, and whisk to combine, then continue whisking until it begins to turn the color of straw, approximately 7-10 minutes.
  2. Slowly add 1 cup of the stock to this mixture, and stir to combine. Add more stock to thin the sauce. Keep warm.
  3. Set a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, and add the olive oil.
  4. Add the mushrooms, and cook, until the mushrooms have released their moisture and begun to get glossy and soft, approximately 7-10 minutes.
  5. Add the turkey (or chicken), then the warm sauce and cream, and stir to combine.
  6. Add the peas, then cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is hot and has thickened slightly, approximately 7-10 minutes.
  7. Stir in the sherry, adjust seasonings and serve over biscuits or toast, rice or buttered noodles, or as a crepe filling or waffle topping, garnished with the parsley.

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Fresh Ricotta

My husband and I have a favorite local restaurant where we like to go and have a special lunch together. Even though it is quite indulgent, we cannot go without ordering the fresh ricotta cheese appetizer. It is seasoned with lemon and served with warm bread. Irresistible.

I knew that making homemade ricotta was an easy task but had never tried to make it. I’m a little bit worried that now that I’ve finally done it because I’ll be making it all of the time! 🙂 I brought it to serve as an appetizer at a party to spread on slices of sourdough baguette… but- wow- it would also be amazing over pasta with a little drizzle of olive oil.

This recipe was adapted from Bon Appetit, contributed by J.J. Goode. I added lemon zest (like at my restaurant!) and coarse salt, to taste. I found the consistency was perfect after straining for just twenty minutes. It was beyond creamy, rich, and fabulous.

Yield: about 1 cup

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • ½ teaspoon coarse salt, plus more for seasoning, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice or distilled white vinegar
  • zest of 1/2 a lemon, or more, to taste
  1. Bring milk, cream, and 1/2 tsp salt to a boil in a medium saucepan.
  2. Remove from heat. Add lemon juice; stir gently until mixture starts to curdle. Let stand 5 minutes.
  3. Pour mixture into a fine-mesh sieve lined with 2 layers of cheesecloth set over a medium bowl.
  4. Chill until cheese is spreadable, at least 20 minutes and up to 12 hours (the longer it strains, the thicker it will be). (I recommend the consistency after about 20 minutes.)
  5. Cover and chill cheese up to 3 days. (If it lasts that long!)

Note/Update: This ricotta was absolutely delicious in Spinach & Ricotta Pappardelle. Wonderful!!

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Duchess Baked Potatoes

Making a mashed potato dish in advance is beyond fabulous when preparing a holiday meal. This garlicky, fine-textured, “twice baked potato-esque” side dish was wonderful.

This recipe was adapted from Bon Appetit, contributed by Ann Redding and Matt Danzer. I increased the garlic and used a garlic press in lieu of grating the cloves. Great.

Yield: Serves 8

  • 4 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes
  • coarse salt
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely grated
  • 1¼ cups heavy cream
  • ¾ cup sour cream
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon pink or black peppercorns, finely ground
  1. Place potatoes in a large pot and pour in water to cover by 2″; season with salt.
  2. Bring to a boil over medium-high. Reduce heat and simmer until a paring knife very easily slides through potatoes, 25–35 minutes. Drain and let cool slightly.
  3. Preheat oven to 425°, preferably on convection.
  4. Whisk egg yolks, garlic, cream, sour cream, butter, and peppercorns in a large bowl; season generously with salt.
  5. Peel potatoes and pass flesh through a ricer or a food mill (or mash them by hand if you don’t mind a few lumps) directly into bowl with egg mixture.
  6. Fold in gently, being careful not to overmix.
  7. Transfer to a 3-quart baking dish and decoratively shingle or swirl surface.
  8. Bake, rotating once, until golden brown and slightly puffed, 30–40 minutes.

Note: Dish can be assembled 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Increase bake time by 5–10 minutes.

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