Butternut squash Cannelloni with Walnut-Sage Béchamel Sauce

Butternut-Squash-Cannelloni-with-Walnut-Sage-Sauce_Yes,-more-please!Its warm in the Lone Star State. We’re still waiting in Texas for some cool Autumn weather. We are still in the 80’s around here if you know what I mean. The only indication of Fall, besides the calendar, are the beautiful pumpkins, squashes, sweet potatoes, root vegetables and leafy greens at the markets.

This last Sunday, I found small butternut squash, acorn squash, and some white mini pumpkins. While some people are turning them into candle holders, I think they are the perfect individual size for dinner. They cook fast and leave no left-overs.

Buternut-squash-Cannelloni_the-vegetables

With this in mind, and the romantic idea of having a Fall season, I turned my oven on and thought about the most autumn dish I could bake, and this is what I came up with: Butternut Squash Cannelloni with a Walnut-Sage Bechamel sauce. Dreamy. This recipe has a long name and a short preparation. It is not hard to Imagine pasta sheets filled with delicate butternut squash, baby spinach, onions and goat cheese; rolled and smothered with a light creamy, nutty walnut-sage béchamel sauce, some mozzarella on top and.. Kazam! You have Fall on a plate. Nutty, creamy, warm, cheesy, the kind of dinner you want to snuggle with…In Texas we snuggle in shorts and t-shirts. Or you can fake it and watch a movie with maple trees, and turn your A/C to 64F grab a little blanket and for a few hours pretend is Fall….Not that we have done this…ehem, ehem.

Mean time we will patiently wait in shorts and T-shirts for the winter… maybe I should make Margaritas instead!… Enjoy the recipe.

Buternut-squash-Cannelloni_pasta-and-sauce-ingredients

Butternut squash Cannelloni with Walnut-Sage Bechamel Sauce.

Serves 4

12 cannelloni pasta tubes or 12 lasagna sheets.

For the filling:

1 small butternut squash peeled and cut into small cubes
2 cups baby spinach or baby kale
1/2 medium onion small diced.
1 glug extra virgin olive oil
2 pinches of nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste
4 oz. Chèvre Goat cheese

For the sauce:

1/2 cup blanched and toasted walnuts
2 cups milk
2 tablespoons flour
4 tablespoons butter
Zest 1/2 lemon
1-2 pinches nutmeg (freshly grated preferred )
1/2 teaspoon salt
4-6 cranks of fresh ground black pepper

Fresh mozzarella ( liberal amounts upon your preference)

Preparation:

1. Using a little glug of olive oil Sauté the onions and butternut squash until tender. Finally add spinach salt, pepper and nutmeg; toss well then remove from stove and let it cool down. Add the goat cheese in crumbles once the filling is cool, toss gently.
2. Pre-cook your pasta sheets according the directions on your package. Remember to salt your water to flavor the pasta. Remove the sheets from boiling water 3-4 minutes before, according to directions. Shock them in iced water to stop cooking, and avoid to stick together.

Buternut-squash-Cannelloni_pasta-and-sauce-preparation
3. Make the sauce.  Start by blanching the walnuts in warm water for 5 minutes, this will eliminate any bitterness from the walnut skins. Drain the walnuts and toast them on a large skillet for a few minutes. Blend the walnuts with 1/2 cup of the milk until smooth. Then incorporate with the rest of the milk.

Walnuts
4. In the same large skillet, over medium heat, place the butter until melted and bubbly. Add the flour and whisk well to combine until no lumps and the buttered flour looks light golden-yellow in color. Start adding the walnut-milk in smaller additions and whisk at all times to avoid lumps, until the 2 cups of milk are incorporated. You might need to reduce the heat to medium low while whisking. After all the milk is incorporated season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg and sage leaves. Bring too a slow simmer and remove from heat. The consistency should be of a light creamy thickness, if to thick, add more milk, to lose, place it back to the heat and whisk until desired consistency.
It should cover the back of a spoon see picture below.

Butternut-Squash-Cannelloni_how-to-make-bechamel-walnut-sage-sauce
3. Prepare a baking dish with butter, or a little olive oil, add a bit  of the sauce on the bottom.
4. Start by filling the cannelloni’s pasta tubes or by placing the filling on one end of the precooked pasta sheets and roll them up tightly. Proceed to do the same with each pasta sheet. Place the cannelloni rolls into your baking dish as you go.
5. Cover all the pasta rolls with the walnut-sage sauce, reserve some of the sauce.
6. Cover with mozzarella slices, then pour the remainder of the sauce, top with some sage leaves.

Butternut-Squash-Cannelloniwith-sage-and-walnut-sauce_assambling-the-rolls
7. Bake at 375F for 20-30 minutes until cheese is melted and top is blistered.
8. Let it rest for 10 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

Note: Not too fond of rolling? make it into lasagna layers, you also can add some cooked ground turkey or sausage to the butternut -spinash filling and it will be equally delicious. I just love the way the Cannellonis portions out. Enjoy!

Butternut-squash-Cannelloni-with-Walnut-Sage-Sauce_out-of-the-oven-

Butternut-squash-Cannelloni-with-Walnut-Sage-Sauce_Yes,-more-please!-

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Seared Under Blade Steak Greens and Beets

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I got these fabulous under blade steaks similar to the infamous Denver steak. The Under Blade Steak comes from the same muscle as the Denver steak, however the under blade steak is cut against the grain for better texture. Where did I get these beauties? At one of my favorite butcher shops here in Austin, Salt &Time. These steaks are full of flavor with great texture, and very fairly priced for their amazing punch of flavor they are good for you and your wallet. My friend Kristen (who I met at volunteering at Boggy Creek Farm) currently manages Salt & Time. She has always recommended awesome cuts to try. Besides the under blade we have sampled the Flat iron steak, Hanger steak, and next on my list the Babette…I hope it is as good as the last supper scene in “Babette’s Feast”. By the way if you are a foodie or food movie aficionado this is a good film to watch, just to enjoy seeing the woman cooking the feast of a lifetime.. keep in mind… Also ask for Kristen if you happen to visit the amazing Butcher shop & Salumeria known as Salt & Time, in Austin, Texas.

Any how, with this fabulous under blade steaks in my possession, one quote came to my mind,
“To eat steak rare… represents both a nature and a morality.”
―Roland Barthes

I believe this man knows his semiotics well. I believe that under cooking a steak is an easy repair and forgivable, but over cooking a steak it’s a sin. By the nature laws and morality, I would like to reply to Roland Barthes quote, “ To the cook: when you are cooking a steak, please don’t kill twice” Cooking a steak it’s a serious matter to me. Few foods are so misunderstood like the steak. Forget the marinades, glazes, grilling seasonings and all those powders, and lets concentrate on the matter “maximus meat flavor” that’s how I want to eat my steak.

Under blade steaks taste best if cooked, medium to medium rare, especially if you are pan searing them. I would say that if you like your steak more on the done side, this cut may not be for you since it can get a little tough.( But to tell you the truth I have not meet a well done steak that is not tough, heheh…)

After I cooked the steaks, I could not resist to leave all the good delicious bits of meaty flavor plus butter garlic and rosemary left in the bottom of the pan; so I decided to throw some vegetables I had in hand, yellow onions, beets, beet greens, added a pinch of cinnamon quick sautéed all and add a squeeze of lemon at the end for a punch of acidity. I put back my steaks and served straight out of the pan to the table…. one pan easy dinner, your protein and vegetables all happy together. Seared Under Blade Steak Greens and Beets It was epic!

Music Pairing: Sin, Sing, sing, Benny Goodman

Let’s cook!

Underblade-steak-&-beets_season-under-blade-steak

Seared Under Blade Steak Greens and Beets

Serves 4

4 under blade steaks (also known as Denver steak) room temperature
1 glug extra virgin olive oil
2-4 tablespoons of butter
2 garlic cloves crushed
4-5 sprigs of rosemary
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

For the Onions, Greens and Beets:

5-6 organic baby beets per person combine yellow, chioggia, red, or any kind you have available, Save the leafy greens if your beets are organic, we will sauté them along,

they are delicious and a great source of beta carotene, vitamin C, vitamin K, Calcium, Iron and Magnesium.

2 cups beet greens (spinach, kale, any green of your affection will work too)
1 medium yellow onion sliced in wedges.
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
2-4 good pinches of cinnamon
4-5 cranks of fresh ground black pepper
1 good pinch of sea salt
The zest and juice of ½ lemon

Preparation:

1. Remove your steak from refrigerator and leave it on a fresh area of your counter. Allow them to come to room temperature for 20-30 minutes before cooking.
2. Mean time wash and remove the rough parts of the tops, leave the skin. Steam your beets until al-dente. 20-25 minutes depending on the size. Once cooked, under the water remove the skin very easily with your thumbs or using a paring knife. Cut into quarters.
3. Save and wash the leafy greens of your beets, make a leafy bundle and slice into a wide chiffonade.
4. Slice the onion into wedges.

underblade-steak-and-beets_cinnamon-lemon,-beet-greens,-babybeets
5. Once you have all the prep done on your vegetables start by heating your skillet. Use a heavy bottom stainless steel or a cast iron pan will work best.
6. Pat dry your steaks if needed, Season with a good pinch of sea salt and fresh black pepper on both sides. Be generous, do not be afraid of seasoning well.
7. Once your skillet is screaming hot, add a glug of olive oil. The oil should be rippling hot, then proceed to place the steaks. Remember not to overcrowd your pan. (I used a 12” skillet for 3 small steaks)

Underblade-steak-&-Beets_how-to-cook-a-steak_Yes,-more-please!
8. Give 4-5 minutes on each side, then once you turn on the second side, add the butter, the rosemary, and crushed garlic to the pan. Tip the pan and start basting the steaks with the melted butter. Using some tongs stand up the steaks to cook and caramelized and crustify the edges of the steak.

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Underblade-steak-&-beets_sear-the-sides

 

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9. Check for doneness, medium rare about 4-5 minutes on each side, medium 6-7 turn 4 times for the extra 2 minutes to cook evenly, add the butter and herbs during the last 2 minutes, baste. Use your thermometer to check the temperature. Usually I will remove them a bit early than the maximum read on the desired doneness, the residual heat can keep cooking your steaks about 3-4 more degrees once the meat is resting.
10. Once your steak is cook to your desired doneness, transfer to a platter and let it rest.

Underblade-steak-&-beets_reasting-the-steak

11. Meantime in the same pan, add the onions and sauté for 2-3 minutes, add beets and toss for a quick sauté, season with a pinch of salt, fresh black pepper, and 3-4 good pinches of ground cinnamon, keep tossing until the onions are tender . Then add the greens and toss and shake for 2 more minutes. Place the steak back into the pan over the beets and onions, squeeze some lemon juice all over and grate some lemon zest. Serve immediately. Enjoy! 

Note: Get creative, you can trow any vegetable combinations, sweet potatoes, little new potatoes,spinach, kale, chard,  zucchini, okra, mushrooms, cipollini onions, peppers, shishito peppers, serranos, jalapeños,… just rock it out!)

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Seared-Under-Blade-Steak-greens-and-beets_Yes,-more-please!

 Sing, sing, sing, this  is the new steak of the goddess…

Seared Under Blade Steak Greens and Beets one pan epic dinner!!

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Wednesday Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Wednesday-Grilled-cheese-sandwichWednesday-Grilled-cheese-sandwich_cremini-mushrooms

A grilled cheese sandwich with a side of green salad, this is my love letter to the grilled cheese sandwich.
Sautéed Mushrooms, caramelized onions, and rich fragrant cheese in between two slices of toasted buttery bread; this is my kind of togetherness and solidarity. This is the one that hump day screams for. Let’s stick the whole week together with melted cheese plus mushrooms and onions and make our Wednesday memorable. After all it is certain that the small things in life give happiness and comfort. Wednesday Grilled Cheese Sandwiches like this have one mission , to turn any humpy or lumpy day into a little happy memory. Enjoy.

Wednesday-Grilled-cheese-sandwich--Caramelized-onions-+-cremini-mushrooms

Wednesday Grilled Cheese Sandwich.

Makes 2 sandwiches

4 slices of artisanal, rustic bread
1/4 pound of Challerhocker Swiss cheese. (Gouda, Swiss, Emmental will work fantastic as well)
8-10 Cremini Mushrooms wiped with a damp clean towel and sliced. 
1 small medium yellow onion 1/4 “thick sliced
1 sprig of fresh thyme
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 tablespoons of butter for sauté
1/4 cup or 2 glugs of any leftover white wine. no white wine…chicken stock will work…
2-4 dashes of Sherry Vinegar.
Salt and Black Pepper to taste.

Wednesday-Grilled-cheese-sandwich_Manchego-butter

 

Manchego Butter Spread:

2 tablespoons of 1 year aged Manchego cheese, grated.
4 tablespoons butter softened

1. In a little bowl combine this two ingredients until you have a spreadable consistency.

What I love the most a bout this sandwich? the Manchego Butter Spread, once the sandwich hit the pan, this spread makes the most utterly croquant and buttery grilled cheese, you ever had… I suggest you can make any substitutions on the inside of the sandwich, but this spread is irreplaceable.

Wednesday-Grilled-cheese-sandwich_Butter-and-manchego-spread-for-bread

Preparation:

1. Over medium heat on a sautee pan add olive oil, 2 tablespoons of butter, sliced onions, salt pepper and a pinch of turbinado sugar. sweet the onions until translucent and they start to get some golden edges and color. At this point add the sliced mushrooms and sautee for about 3-4 minutes, until the mushrooms start to get some color too. about 6-7 minutes.
2. By now the bottom of your pan is starting to show some crusty brown bits. The onions and mushrooms are soft and golden brown caramelized color, Away fro the stove add two good splashes of white wine, and 2-4 dashes of the sherry vinegar, and a fresh sprig of thyme. Bring back the pan to the stove and wait until the liquids reduce. Set aside.

Wednesday-Grilled-cheese-sandwich-caramelized-onions-and-cremini-mushrooms 3. Evenly spread one side of each of the bread slices with the Manchego-butter spread.
4. On the no spread side, place a layer of thinly sliced or grated Challerhocker cheese, then a layer of the caramelized onions and mushrooms, and top with more cheese. Cover with the other bread lid, butter spread side up.

Wednesday-Grilled-Cheese-Sandwich_Yes,-more-please! 5. On a medium heat warm up a non-stick pan, cast iron pan or plancha. Once is hot, place both of your sandwiches and grill for about 4 minutes each side, until mahogany golden brown, and the cheese is melted.

Wednesday-Grilled-cheese-sandwich_-on-the-pan 6. Remove from pan into a cutting board and slice in half.
7. Toss some baby spinach and salad greens with a bit of lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper, serve your sandwich on the side.
Enjoy!Wednesday-Grilled-cheese-sandwich_sliced

 

Wednesday-Grilled-cheese-sandwich_don't-forget-your-greens!

Always remember to eat your greens!

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Matcha Streusel Pumpkin Bread

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October is here and I can’t wait for pumpkinized everything. My primary pumpkin craving is pumpkin bread (delicious moist and spiced). So, here is my spin for this season. Its delicious and a new flavor combination for you to try.

The pumpkin flavor with Matcha is like having tea within your slice. The Matcha green tea powder, tames the sweet sweet notes and enhances the pumpkin, and the spices. These are the ingredients that ordinarily don’t meet in a recipe and come from opposite sides of the planet. Sometimes thats the kind of combo that we need. Matcha Streusel Pumpkin Bread will pumpkinize your tea time. Enjoy!

Happy Fall and stay tuned for Octoberfest! Pretzels, sausage, and beer recipes coming up soon!

PUMPKIN-BREAD_INGREDIENTS

 

Matcha Streusel Pumpkin Bread

Makes 1 loaf 9″x5″ or 10″x5″ or  about 24 muffins

Dry ingredients:

1 Unbleached all purpose flour
3/4 whole wheat flour
1-1/2 cups of turbinado sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 -1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground all spice
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Wet ingredients:

1-1/2 cups roasted pumpkin
2 eggs room temperature
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup melted butter
1/3 cup natural Bulgarian yogurt
1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
1 teaspoon vanilla

For the streusel:

1/2 cup Unbleached all purpose flour
1/8 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons turbinado sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons organic Matcha powder
1/4 cup roughly chopped pecans
6 tablespoons butter room temperature.

Directions:

Preheat oven at 375F
1. Prepare the matcha streusel, with a fork, combine all the ingredients with the softened butter until the mixture resembles a coarse lumpy dough. refrigerate while you prepare the rest…

PUMPKIN-BREAD-with-MATCHA-STREUSEL
2. In a large mixing bowl combine all dry ingredients except for the sugar. Whisk.
3. On a medium size bowl combine all wet ingredients, mix well add the sugar whisk until well combined.
4. Combine wet into dry.
5. Butter up a 10″x 5″ loaf pan, lined up with a piece of parchment paper long enough to hang about 4-5 inches on each side. (See picture below)
6. Pour batter into the mold and cover completely with the matcha streusel mixture. Lightly press so the crumbs stay attached to the top.

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7. Bake at 350F for the first 30 min.- Check your bread at 30 minutes mark and tent it with a piece of aluminum foil shiny side up, to prevent he streusel to over-brown . Lower the temperature to 325F and bake for another 25-30 minutes.
8. Passed the 50 minutes mark, check near the center with a toothpick to check for doneness. Toothpick should come out clean with a few moist crumbs attached.
Remove from oven and cool it on a rack for 20 minutes, before slicing.
Once cool, slice it and enjoy!!!

Pumpkin-bread-with-matcha-streusel_unmolding-the-breadPUMPKIN-BREAD-with-MATCHA-Streusel-sliced_green-tea-Yes,-more-please!

 

Notes:

Store the bread in a piece of parchment paper and plastic wrap. It tastes better the next day!!!.. keep it safe and away from temptation… It will last for about a week, no need to refrigerate.
This recipe will work for muffins. Divide the batter into cupcake molds lined with cupcake liners, fill up a bit over 1/2 way and add 1 heaping tablespoon of matcha streusel, you will need to make a double batch of the streusel. Bake at 325F for about 20-25 minutes.PUMPKIN-BREAD-with-MATCHA-STREUSEL_slices

 

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