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Showing posts from September, 2013

Butternut Squash Tart with Sage & Chile Honey

adapted from Bon Appetit ingredients1 sheet of frozen puff pastry, thawed 1 large egg beaten with 1 teaspoon water 1 small long butternut squash, peeled kosher salt 1/4 cup honey 1 habanero, scotch bonnet, or red Thai chile pepper, minced 3 tablespoons olive oil 12 fresh sage leaves 1/4 cup shaved Parmesan black pepper preparation Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Unroll 1 sheet of frozen puff pastry onto prepared sheet.
Cut stem off squash. Using a mandoline, thinly slice squash from stem down through the neck, preserving base of squash for another use. Steam the squash slices until al dente. Brush pastry with 1 large egg beaten with 1 teaspoon water. Arrange as many rounds of the butternut squash over pastry as you prefer, overlapping as needed and leaving a 1/2" border. Brush squash slices with 1 tablespoon olive oil and season with kosher salt. Place tart, uncovered, in oven and bake until pastry is deep golden brown and cooked t…

Butternut Squash, Sage, and Ricotta Ravioli with Hazelnut Brown-Butter & Brussels Sprout Leaves

Butternut squash ravioli has been a trendy item at fine dining establishments the past few years. I’ve wanted to try my hand at it for awhile now so when our friend Michael asked me to teach him how to make ravioli from scratch (we covered how to make fettuccine last month) I thought it was the perfect opportunity to perfect butternut squash ravioli. I started with a recipe I found online for the filling, refined it (changed the cheese it calls for, added roasted Brussels sprout leaves) and used Marcella Hazan’s recipe for the ravioli dough. From start to finish this dinner is a time consuming process (multiple hours) but well worth it. Make it for someone special who will appreciate your hard work. IngredientsFor ravioli2 cups flour 4 large eggsFor filling2 pounds butternut squash* 1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups) 1 1/2 teaspoons ground sage 1 tablespoon unsalted butter 1 garlic clove, minced 3 ounces ricotta cheeseFor sauce1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter 1/3 cup hazelnut…

Gratitude

Today a new acquaintance thanked me for the time and grueling effort I put into working with the mentally ill back in my days as a counselor (my first career before I got into IT). Nobody has ever acknowledged or thanked me for this before and I didn't realize how much I needed to hear that. The world of mental hospitals and physical restraints and Ativan and trying to help people who struggle with helping themselves is a horror story that I'll never forget. When I have bad days at work now (which is rare btw) I think back to what it was like working in those mental health facilities - scraping human feces off the walls, dealing with violent outbursts, or trying to comfort a little boy who was kept in a cage and fed nothing but dog food and table scraps till he was 9 - and I count my blessings. My thoughts and prayers go out to those who are dealing with mental illness as a patient, family member, or health service provider.

Book Review: Diary of a Wildflower

Over my vacation, I read Diary of a Wildflower by Ruth White.

Lorelei is one of many children in the Starr family, growing up in an isolated mountain area in Virginia in the early 1900s. Diary details her childhood - very reminiscent of the Waltons, but a bit darker - and her eventual horizon-broadening introduction to city life and upper class society. Inevitably Lorelei crosses paths with a handsome and kind upper class gentleman and together they bring her Cinderella tale to its happy conclusion. I am a sucker for happy endings and so White has found a fan in me.

White is an accomplished children's book author and this is her first foray into adult literature and the adventure that is Kindle self-publishing. She's done very well here and other than a few typos inherent in self-publishing and an abrupt and stark change in accent & writing style for Lorelei's character (our narrator) late in the novel, I find Diary to be a great read.

Recommended; 3 out of 5 star…

Book Review: The Wicked Girls

Just finished reading The Wicked Girls by Alex Marwood. It bills itself as a psychological thriller and it definitely delivers. Probably one of the most riveting books I've read all year.

At the age of 11, Jade Walker and Annabel Oldacre are convicted as juvenile offenders and co-conspirators in the brutal murder of a 4 year old girl (Chloe) in their community. Because of Walker's dysfunctional upbringing, no one is surprised at her involvement in this kind of trouble but Oldacre comes from a proper well respected family and so she is viewed with more derision as "she should have known better". Likewise, Jade's rehabilitation is more generous and forgiving allowing for her poor upbringing while Annabel is dealt with by the court system more harshly. Annabel has her own family troubles as well - just deeply hidden from the public spotlight- making the way she was singled out for stiffer punishment seem especially cruel. Years later, aged out of the juvenile pri…

Book Review: Lies You Wanted to Hear

Lies You Wanted to Hear is a well paced, well styled, and engaging debut novel by James Whitfield Thomson. A lot of discussion has taken place regarding the author, who at age 67, has made quite an entrance onto the literary scene. In Lies, Thomson showcases the rocky relationship between Matt and Lucy from courtship through its eventual unraveling. Lucy is depicted as wholly selfish and troubled while Matt's character is more nuanced. The decisions that each of them make wound not only each other but their children as well. For a lot of fathers reading this novel, Matt's sentiments on the family court system and his moral dilemmas on how to protect his children will hit a little to close to home. And I don't doubt that for a few mothers who look back on their decision to settle for a 'nice' guy and  wrestle with feelings of wanting more - more excitement, more fun, more passion - that Lies will hit a little close to home as well. This, THIS is the dark version of