Sunday, October 10

Sunday: A Day of Cooking

When my boss is in town I get the chance to do tons of cooking. There are certain staples he cannot live without (i.e. BBQ chicken) but he pretty much gives me free reign of the kitchen and lets me do my thang. Today was one of those days. Though the temp outside was a summery 87 degrees, I was hungry for food that warms the belly... starting with homemade Butternut Squash Soup, I also prepared Balsamic Roast Pork Tenderloins, Rosemary-Fleur de Sel Crusted Fingerling Potatoes, Charred Brussel Sprouts with Pancetta and Sage and for dessert, Oatmeal Pumpkin Cookies with Dark Chocolate Chips and Walnuts. All recipes and accompanied photos (with the exception of the soup) are listed below in case your stomach is rumblin'. :)

Butternut Squash Soup
Recipe courtesy Giada de Laurentiis
2 tbsp room temp butter
2 tbsp EVOO
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium carrot, peeled & chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 1/2 pounds butternut squash; peeled, seeded and cut into 3/4" pieces (about 8 cups)
6 cups chicken stock
1/4 cup chopped fresh sage leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

In an 8-quart stockpot, add the butter and oil and melt together over medium-high heat. Add the onion and carrot and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until aromatic, about 30 seconds. Add the squash and the chicken stock. Bring the mixture to a boil and add the sage. Continue to boil until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes. Turn off the heat. Using an immersion blender, blend the mixture until smooth and thick. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Keep the soup warm over low heat until ready to serve.

Balsamic Roast Pork Tenderloins
Recipe courtesy Rachel Ray
4 pork tenderloins (about 4 lbs)
4 tbsp balsamic vinegar
4 tbsp EVOO
8 cloves garlic, cracked
Steak seasoning blend or coarse salt and pepper
4 sprigs fresh rosemary, finely chopped
4 springs fresh thyme, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 500 degrees F. Place tenderloins on nonstick cookie sheet. Coat in balsamic vinegar, rubbing vinegar into meat. Drizzle with EVOO. Cut small slits into meat and disperse chunks of cracked garlic cloves into meat. Combine steak seasoning blend (or S&P) with rosemary and thyme and rub meat with blend. Roast for 20 minutes. Let meat rest, transfer to carving board, slice and serve.

Charred Brussel Sprouts with Pancetta & Sage
1 lb brussel sprouts, bottoms trimmed and cut in half
2 tbsp EVOO, enough to coat sprouts
Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper
1/4 lb pancetta, small dice
2 tbsp chopped fresh sage leaves
2 tbsp butter

Preheat oven to 500 degrees F. Toss brussel sprouts in EVOO and season with S&P. Roast for about 20 minutes, or until charred and tender. Meanwhile, saute pancetta in pan until crispy; remove with slotted spoon and add sage leaves. Fry sage leaves for 1-2 minutes, remove with slotted spoon and set aside. Remove excess fat from pan. When sprouts are well-roasted, remove from oven and combine, in pan, with pancetta, sage leaves and 2 tbsp butter over medium heat until warmed through. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Rosemary-Fleur de Sel Crusted Fingerling Potatoes
Cook's Note: I have a new obsession with Fleur de Sel, a hand-harvested French sea salt cold smoked with Chardonnay oak chips. Admittedly, I love salt in general but give this a try if you could use a different depth of flavor.
2 lbs fingerling potatoes, rinsed thoroughly and patted dry
2 tbsp EVOO
2 tbsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped
2 tbsp Fleur de Sel, divided (substitute with kosher salt if you don't have Fleur de Sel on hand)
Fresh cracked pepper

Preheat oven to 500 degrees F. Toss fingerling potatoes with EVOO, rosemary, 1 tbsp Fleur de Sel and lots of fresh cracked pepper. Roast in oven until tender and crispy, about 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven and toss with remaining tablespoon of Fleur de Sel.

Oatmeal Pumpkin Cookies with Dark Chocolate Chips & Walnuts 
Recipe adapted from
2 cups all purpose flour
1 ½ cups old-fashioned oats
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 ½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup dark chocolate chips
1 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350. Line baking sheets with parchment. Combine flour, oats, baking soda, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice and salt in medium bowl. Beat butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar in large mixer bowl until light and fluffy. Add pumpkin, egg and vanilla; mix well. Add flour mixture; combine until all ingredients are incorporated. Fold in dark chocolate chips and walnuts. Drop by rounded teaspoons onto baking sheets. Bake for 12-14 minutes or until cookies are lightly browned. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks (or wax paper) to cool completely.

(In a voice resembling that of the great Julia Child): Bon Appetit!

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