Monday, November 08, 2010

Pumpkin Stuffed with Everything Good

This is the first recipe in a long time that has just cried out to me to prepare it upon becoming aware of its existence. The NPR story made it sound tempting and delicious. A pumpkin, slow roasted for two hours and stuffed with a mixture of bread, gruyere, heavy cream, bacon and herbs. It's French, from cookbook author Dorie Greenspan. And you can improvise on this one-- the version below has a few minor adaptations, but she says it's also good stuffed cooked with rice, nuts, etc. I might try adding apples next time. Vegetarians could leave out the bacon.

I made it, with a few adaptations, and it was out-of-this-world. It's a great savory entree, perfect for this time of year when Florida is finally cooling off a little, and for everywhere else in the country. My daughter (2) wasn't crazy about it, but she filled up on the side salad: spring baby greens plus cheddar and apples and a mustard vinaigrette. A nice riesling would have been a good accompaniment. (Not for the baby).

Pumpkin Stuffed With Everything Good (adapted from Dorie Greenspan)
Makes 2 very generous servings

1 pumpkin, about 4 lbs
1/4 pound stale bread, thinly sliced and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
1/4 pound cheese, such as Gruyere, Emmenthal, cheddar, or a combination, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
6 strips turkey bacon, cooked and chopped
Handful of chopped spinach
1 shallot, chopped
2 scallions, sliced
1/4 tsp. dried thyme
Dash nutmeg
A little more than 1/3 cup heavy cream, with a dash of salt and pepper.

Preheat oven to 350. Using a big knife, cut out the top of the pumpkin. Using your hands, pull out the seeds and the stringy parts. Salt and pepper the inside of the pumpkin generously. Place pumpkin on a piece of parchment paper set on a baking sheet.

In a mixing bowl, mix bread, cheese, garlic, bacon, spinach, shallot and scallions. Season with thyme, pepper, a dash of nutmeg. Stuff into the pumpkin, pour heavy cream over top. Put the top on, and cook for 90 minutes. After ninety minutes, remove top and let the top of the stuffing brown for the last 30 minutes or so.

To serve, you could either slice the pumpkin pieces or scoop out pumpkin + stuffing. I did the latter method.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Restaurant-style Chicken with Broccoli

I found this great and inspiring website about putting good meals on the table while trying to balance work and family. The recipe for Restaurant-style Chinese Chicken & Broccoli is one I'll make again, probably doubling the sauce and not making the mistake of buying the package of chopped broccoli (yuck, those little pieces of broccoli disintegrate everywhere rather than providing sturdy little trees to dot your sauce). But oh, it is good. Definitely better than strip-mall Chinese.

Restaurant-style Chinese Chicken, Broccoli and Cashews

Chicken breasts (1-2 lbs)
1 onion, chopped
garlic cloves
2 Tblsp. rice wine vinegar
2 Tblsp. hoisin sauce
1/4 cup water
1 small 10 ounce package broccoli florets, steamed
1/2 cup cashews, roughly chopped

Cut chicken breasts into small pieces and saute in neutral cooking oil. When almost done, add chopped onion and cook until soft. Add about 1/2 to 1 tsp. cornstarch, stir. Add garlic, cook 30 seconds. Add vinegar, turn up heat, add hoisin sauce and water. When finished, toss with broccoli florets and cashews. Serve with rice.