Saturday, November 17, 2012

Roasted Delicata Squash with Pancetta and Sage

As shared from the kitchen of Once Upon a Plate

1 large Delicata Squash
2 to 3 teaspoons or so of good Olive Oil
Kosher or Sea Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
3 or 4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
2 ounces very thinly sliced pancetta, cut into strips
6 to 8 fresh sage leaves

Tools you'll need:
Large, sharp knife
shallow rimmed baking pan (lined with parchment for easy clean-up)
spatula to flip the squash

Place rack in center position of oven and preheat oven to 425º(F)

• Wash the squash with water, dry and slice lengthwise from stem to blossom end. Scoop out seeds and membrane.  (Discard the seeds or do as I do and roast them~ they make a tasty snack)
• Slice squash into 1/2-inch slices crosswise (slices should look like half-moons)
• Place slices and smashed garlic on lined baking pan, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper.
• Toss the squash with your hands to distribute the olive oil over the squash and garlic. 
• Arrange squash slices flat on the pan. (You can crowd the slices together
but don't overlap.) You want the squash flesh resting on the pan so each slice roasts evenly. 
• Place pan in oven and bake 6 minutes, flip slices over. Bake additional 6 minutes.
• Sprinkle pancetta and sage leaves over the squash and return to oven and
roast for an additional 6 minutes or so, until the squash is tender when pierced with a knife tip and pancetta has begun to get crispy.
• Remove from oven and allow to cool a minute or two before serving.


Recipe adapted from Siren Sea 

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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Tomato Zucchini Soup ~ 2 ways, and Cheese Toasts

Tomato Zucchini Soup ~ 2 Ways and Cheese Toasts
As shared from the kitchen of Once Upon a Plate by Mari
Recipe provides 8 to 10 servings
1/4 cup good, flavorful olive oil
1 cup diced carrots (about 2 medium size)
4 cups zucchini (about 3-4 medium size)
1 cup diced red onion
1 cup diced yellow or white onion
1 cup diced celery
6 cloves garlic (peeled and smashed)
2 to 3 Tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, stripped from stem
2 bay leaves
pinch red pepper flakes
4 cups crushed Italian peeled tomatoes, (approx. Two 28-ounce cans)
4 cups water or chicken stock/broth
2 teaspoons salt, or more to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or more to taste
2 cups heavy cream or whole milk (optional)
[You can reduce the amount of milk or cream, or omit it entirely for a Dairy-free soup]
For the chunky soup only: a splash of red wine or balsamic vinegar, shaved parmesan for garnish.

1. Choose a large stockpot with a covered lid, warm olive oil over medium-
high heat. Cook the vegetables with garlic, herbs and pepper flakes until
tender (about 10 to 12 minutes), covered with lid. Stir frequently so they do not brown or burn.
2. Reduce heat to medium, remove lid and add tomatoes and 4 cups of water or chicken broth/stock, bring soup to a boil, then simmer for 20
3. Season soup with salt and pepper remove bay leaves and taste for seasonings; adjust if necessary. Remove pot from heat.
4. At this point you may continue with the recipe to blend all of the soup, or half of it to make a smooth soup; or

For chunky soup: Add a splash of the vinegar, sprinkle with with shaved parmesan as garnish (Don't add milk or cream to the chunky version if you add the vinegar as it will curdle.)

For smooth soup: Carefully ladle half of the soup into blender, place lid on blender container, cover with a kitchen towel to avoid hot splatters, and blend for 2 or 3 minutes with the milk or cream (if using.) Serve hot.

Cheese Toasts:
Ingredients for each serving of toast:
2 slices sourdough bread
2 tablespoon creamy goat cheese
1 teaspoon butter

Spread goat cheese on one of the bread slices top with other slice to make a sandwich. Spread thin layer of soft butter on both surfaces of the outside of sandwich. Grill in a warm skillet or on a griddle (over medium heat), butter should gently sizzle as it is placed in the skillet or on the griddle. Cook for about 2 minutes per side until golden brown on both sides.  Remove from pan and allow to cool for a minute or two (for easier slicing), remove crusts from edges and cut each sandwich into 2 or 3 slices. Serve warm.
Enjoy! ~Mari

Recipes adapted from: 

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Saturday, November 10, 2012

Haricot Verts with Dijon Mascarpone

Haricot Verts with Dijon Mascarpone
As shared from the kitchen of Once Upon a Plate by Mari
4 servings

2 1/2 teaspoons Dijon or Whole Grain Mustard
1/2 cup mascapone
1 pound haricot verts (or other green beans), remove stem ends
Lemon zest
Salt and freshly crack black pepper, or tri-color pepper
(Make the Dijon Mascarpone at least 1/2 to 1 hour ahead of serving time and refrigerate:)
Allow mascarpone to come to room temperature. Using a whisk or silicone spatula, mix the mustard into the mascarpone until well combined, season with salt and pepper. Cover with plastic cling film and refrigerate for 30 minutes to 1 hour (until firm.)
Just before serving; cook the beans:
1.) Line a rimmed baking pan with a clean kitchen towel, or double thickness of paper towels. Set aside.
2.) Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add about 2 Tablespoons salt for each quart of water. Add the haricot verts to the boiling water, cook until just tender but still firm (about 3 to 4 minutes.)
Using a slotted or wire spoon remove the haricot verts from the pot and drain in prepared baking sheet. Grate the lemon zest over the top.
3.) Transfer the beans to a warmed serving bowl and top with spoonfuls
of the Dijon mascarpone. Sprinkle with more lemon zest and freshly ground black pepper. The mascarpone will begin to melt over the beans;
serve hot.

Enjoy! ~Mari

Recipe has been adapted from

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Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Best Recipe for Steamer Clams

The Best Recipe for Steamer Clams
1 to 4 servings (depending upon appetites!)
As shared from Once Upon a Plate by Mari

For this dish, I like to find the smallest clams available in the market. These shown are Venus clams, farmed in the cold waters of Baja Mexico ~ they are a sustainable crop and generally available year round where I live.

Here's what you need to make the BEST steamed clams you've ever tasted:

about 40 live, fresh steamer clams
dry white wine
1/2 cup (a stick) butter, more if you are steaming a lot of clams
1/2 cup finely diced onion
1 to 6 cloves fresh, minced garlic (not the stuff from the jar) 
some finely chopped fresh parsley
a couple of sprigs of fresh thyme
a bay leaf or two

To finish:
a generous shower of chopped fresh parsley
lemon wedges
1/4 cup chives, thinly sliced crosswise
freshly cracked black pepper (optional) 

Method: After allowing the clams to purge themselves of any sediment* , rinse them in fresh water, cleaning the shells of any sand, discard any with cracked or broken shells. Put the them in a pot (large enough to allow for some expansion, as the shells pop open they will take up more space), pour the wine over them**, enough to just barely cover them add the butter, onion, garlic, thyme, and parsley. Cover the pot and bring to a boil until the clams pop open (usually about 5 minutes.)

Discard any clams that have not popped open after cooking ~ but check out this
TIP I recently learned from a seafood cook:  When the clams have cooked, you may find a couple that don't pop open; using tongs remove the open clams and shells then cover the pot and boil for another 3 to 5 minutes. Check the remaining clams, and you may be surprised that some stubborn ones have now popped open. But again, discard any that don't open upon the 2nd round of cooking. 

To serve: Sprinkle the remaining finely chopped parsley over the cooked clams.
Ladle cooked clams into bowls with some nectar (broth), and serve with
crusty sourdough or French bread for dipping up the broth.
*To purge the clams of any sand that might be present: soak them overnight, or at least for a few hours in a pot or bucket of cold salted water (1 Tablespoon salt to
2 quarts of water), they will die in fresh water. You may add a tablespoon or two of cornmeal to the water.  (This acts as an irritant & encourages the clams to
expel any grit, along with the cornmeal.) Discard any with cracked or broken shells, as well as those that don't close when rapped gently on a hard surface.

** No need to cover the clams completely with the wine, as those above the liquid level will steam cook, hence the name "steamers".


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