Chef asked me to swing by the Munson Farm Stand for a Cinderella pumpkin he could roast and preserve for the winter. I LOVE pumpkin, so I was really happy he wanted to preserve some this year. I usually buy a few pie pumpkins to make my pumpkin peanut curry soup, and they’re much smaller- maybe smaller than a soccer ball. The selection of Cinderella pumpkins at Munson’s Farm Stand was impressive, and this one was larger than two of my heads put together.
Sean almost effortlessly sliced it in half. I would have needed a saw, I think.
Scooped out the seeds…
Drizzled olive oil on top and then some salt and pepper…
And then they BARELY fit into our miniature oven. We live in 600 sq ft, and our kitchen appliances reflect that. But, we shoved it in there and made it work.
It roasted at 450 for more than an hour and didn’t quite come out as brown as we had hoped, but that’s sometimes what happens with miniature appliances- the end product isn’t as perfect as it could be. It still tasted great, so that’s really all that matters.
We let it cool and then scooped out A LOT of pumpkin.
Sean then pureed it in the Vitamix, poured it into jars, and processed it to save it for a wintery day. It’s truly wonderful to be married to a chef who likes to cook at home.
There’s a technique that creates a perfect potato (in my opinion) which, upon trying it, has changed the way I cook potatoes at home. It doesn’t matter if it’s a red potato, Yukon gold, sweet potato, yam… just start with a potato, follow my steps, and see how it turns out. I’ll replicate this in future posts with different potatoes, but for this posting I had local Colorado red potatoes on hand.
First, par-boil them in salted water until a knife can pierce them without force.
Then, take them out of the water and let them sit until they’re cool enough to touch. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
When a potato is par-boiled, it’s not quite cooked evenly through, and you can see the difference in doneness when it’s sliced in half.
For this particular evening, I sliced the almost fist-sized potatoes in half, sliced the halves, and then cut them again in half to 2-inch long pieces. You could slice them into any length or width you want, but your oven roasting time might then vary.
I tossed the potatoes with garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper, and spread them on a baking sheet.
After 10-15 minutes in the oven they’ll be sizzling, or as I like to say, “talking to you,” at which point it’s OK to check to see how brown they are on the underside. When they’re looking crispy, I flip them, repeat the process, and voila- a perfect potato.
They have the crust of something fried with the creamy interior of a french fry done correctly, yet are tossed in just a few tablespoons of olive oil. They’re not just a guilty pleasure of mine, but something I’m really proud of figuring out while chef’s out working and I’m preparing dinner.
If I’m going to enjoy tofu, it HAS to have been frozen, thawed, and pressed before being seasoned and cooked. Freezing tofu changes the texture into something I almost find enjoyable, so there’s always a block sitting in our freezer. This cold soba noodle salad with tofu, locally grown carrots, peppers, and tomatoes, and fried garlic is well worth repeating.
Here’s how I made it.
First, the thawed tofu needs to be pressed to expel excess liquid. I usually wrap it in a few layers of paper towels and gently squeeze it, being careful not to squeeze too hard and tear the block. Then it’s ready to be cut into bite-sized pieces and marinated. I chose a dry rub since it was going to be fried. Wet marinades make for quite a mess when it hits hot oil. Lesson learned!
The tofu was generously seasoned with Vietnamese Sweet Lemon Curry from Savory Spice Shop and then pan fried in peanut oil until crispy on all sides. The secret to getting a nice crust on each side is having a hot pan, hot oil, and not checking the food to see if it’s cooked, but waiting until it’s fully seared before flipping it. The chef-husband had to lecture me a few times on this before I listened, and what a difference it makes! Gone (hopefully) are the days of tofu sticking to the pan and breaking apart when it’s flipped, leaving smaller pieces to burn and stripping the tofu of it’s coating (read: flavor). After each side gets a crust, just remove them and let them cool.
Next, a chopped carrot and green pepper from the Boulder Farmer’s Market went into the peanut oil pan to heat them ever so slightly. I boiled soba noodles according to the instructions on the package and then rinsed them in cold water to keep them from cooking, fried some garlic until crispy, chopped a jalapeño, and sliced a tomato.
I tossed the cold noodles with sesame seeds and the carrot and pepper pieces, and then drizzled some toasted sesame seed oil, fresh squeezed lemon, soy sauce (I prefer the unpasteurized Nama Shoyu brand), and a little local honey. Finally, I added diced jalapeño and crispy fried garlic for an extra crunch and kick.
Do you LOVE garlic? Are you totally fine with garlic breath lingering after a meal? I am. But my garlic “chips” really aren’t too crazy. They won’t end your date night early. They’ll be a star on your table if garlic goes well with your meal.
This is really easy to make, but you must pay attention or else it will burn.
Peel and slice garlic. I sliced 4 cloves 1/16th inch thick. Heat oil in a pan. I heated 3-4 tablespoons of sunflower oil to medium high. When the oil is hot, add the garlic and stir frequently so each piece cooks evenly.
When golden brown, let cool on a paper towel.
Add as a garnish to soups, salads, grind in a mortar and pestle for garlic powder…
I was invited to visit Hope Foods, maker of the incredibly fresh and delicious Hope Hummus, in Louisville, Colorado. I’ve seen the name around for a few years now, but I can’t recall ever purchasing one of their products before. I knew that they started selling hummus at the Boulder County Farmers Market, and I knew they’d expanded and were on shelves in a number of our local grocers, but that’s the most I could have told you before last week. Now I could talk your ear off about what a great local company they are and how Hope Hummus should be your hummus of choice if you’re not making it from scratch at home. It will certainly be my go-to when I’m not following Chef Mike Solomonov’s recipe, which is a very traditional Israeli hummus. In fact, I was so inspired by my visit to Hope Foods that I’ll likely tweak chef Solomonov’s recipe the next time I make it.
~Inspiration to create new flavors of garbanzo bean spread~ That’s what came to me on our media party at Hope Foods. We were given two bowls of hummus, a “regular” or savory one and a sweet one that was sweetened with agave syrup. There was a table of ingredients full of spices, herbs, jams, nut butters, pumpkin, roasted peppers, lemons, limes, coconut flakes, goji berries…you name it and it was likely on a table for us to mix our own flavored hummus.
I added pumpkin puree, curry powder, cayenne pepper, turmeric powder, lemon juice, fresh thyme and ground black pepper to my savory bowl. Then mixed it all together and scooped it into a Ball jar labeled for A Bolder Table, which was a nice touch
Next up was the sweet hummus, which I wasn’t really sure what I’d enjoy, so I kept it simple: Almond butter and blackberry jam.
This combination would go really well on toast, and I would have NEVER thought of sweetening hummus on my own, so I’m inspired to try a variety of combinations in the future.
After mixing up some unique spreads, we were given a tour of the 15,000 square foot hummus factory, and learned that Hope Foods doesn’t make a ton of hummus and store it until an order comes in. They make hummus to order, so there’s a two day turn-around time from when they make the hummus to when it’s loaded on a truck for delivery. That’s FRESH in my opinion. It’s also Cold Pressure Prepped, which means it needs neither preservatives nor high heat to ensure each batch is safe from pathogens, bacteria, and mold. Another important detail that sets them apart from their competitors is adding olive oil rather than canola oil to their hummus. In short, Hope Foods makes fresh hummus using as few ingredients as they can without skimping on ingredient quality to produce a large quantity of food. I can stand behind that.
An operation that started with a group of friends making hummus in a commissary kitchen and selling it at the farmers market now employs 30+ people and makes more than ten different flavors of hummus. In my opinion, this company is doing everything right, and I am proud to have them as a local producer here in Colorado. I hope they continue to spread good things.