Spaghetti Squash

There are two propositions on local California ballots next week that add a 1 cent per ounce tax to sugary drinks. Some feel that this is an unnecessary tax that disproportionately affects poor people. Others feel that it is a sin tax that both raises revenue and discourages behavior that is bad for the individual as well as the community in the form of long term health costs caused by obesity related diseases. What is fascinating is that both of these measures, one in Richmond and the other in El Monte, are both being fought vigorously and with a great deal of thinly veiled money by the big soda companies. Clearly, the impact of either one of these measures passing is seen by these big manufacturers as a potential threat to their bottom line. Obviously the soda companies are worried that the tax will be successful and diminish the consumption of their products, the goal of these bills in the first place. Keep your eye on these two little California communities because they may set in place the first food based tax that could help save lives.

This is squash season. Pumpkins have already been featured here as well as butternut squash. Here is another wonderful and unexpected squash. Many people don’t know about this little gem and, although simple to prepare, I have found many have no clue as to what to do with it. Let me dispel this once and for all.

Serves 2-4

Ingredients

  • 1 Large Spaghetti Squash
  • Olive Oil
  • 2 Tablespoons Butter
  • 1/2 Cup Parmesan Cheese, grated
  • Salt and Pepper

Tools

  • Ovenproof Dish or Cookie Sheet
  • Chef’s Knife
  • Fork
  • Grater
  • Serving Bowl
  1. Pre heat oven to 350.
  2. Cut squash in half, lengthwise.
  3. Clean out the seeds.
  4. Lightly drizzle with olive oil (rub in with your hands to spread evenly) and salt and pepper.
  5. Place on the dish or cookie sheet, pulp side down. Cook for 30-40 minutes.
  6. Remove from oven and let cool slightly.
  7. With a fork, scrape in strands into serving bowl.
  8. Add butter and cheese and let melt a little. Mix together and adjust seasoning.

 

Ham and Cheese Sandwich

I am concerned about my friends in New York. Many are without power and some have been evacuated. The storms are getting worse. I am positive and optimistic but we are not making it easy on ourselves by causing so much man made damage to the planet. This is just another sign.

I hope that my friends were able to get to the markets and stock up on a few items. Wine is always a good idea and ham and cheese will last a little while. Here is my favorite disaster sandwich.

Ingredients

  • Baguette
  • 3 Slices of Ham or Proscuitto
  • 1 Piece Emmental or Brie Cheese
  • Roma Tomatoes
  • Arugula
  • Grainy Mustard
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper

Tools

  • Chef’s Knife
  1. Slice Baguette lengthwise.
  2. Cover one side with mustard.
  3. Slice tomatoes into thin slices.
  4. Build cheese, ham, tomatoes and arugula.
  5. Drizzle with a little olive oil, salt and pepper.
  6. Cut in half and serve.

 

Spiked Pomegranate Seeds

This is the beginning of the end (of the year, that is). Wednesday marks the first of the year end holidays with Halloween. Kids all know this calendar by heart. When they go to college it seems to become more engrained. Halloween starts the fun and then the countdown to Thanksgiving, and ultimately the Christmas break. No offense to my non-Christian friends. This is the secular calendar in the US and, regardless of faith, the tradition is well established.  What comes with this year end spiral are many traditional and fun dishes of the season. And, since I am now writing number 303 in my year long recipe goal, the holidays are blessed relief.

Brace yourself for a bourbon balled, sugar filled, tryptophan laced ride into the new year.

These little treats are tasty, versatile, and quite potent. Use them in adult company only. You can garnish a salad, spike a champagne flute or serve them as a little side treat on the Thanksgiving table.

Ingredients

  • 1 Pomegranate
  • Juice from Orange (s)
  • Grand Marnier

Tools

  • Bowl with lid
  1. Remove the seeds from the pomegranate and discard any outer skin and bits of pith.
  2. Place in bowl.
  3. Cover with half and half orange juice and Grand Marnier, until more than covered. The amount depends on the size of the bowl and amount of seeds, depending on the size of the pomegranate.
  4. Cover tightly and refrigerate for at least 4 days.

White Trash Crab Dip

Have you ever gone to the movies and wanted your time back? Not your money back, that is really not the point. Who is going to give me my time back? I just spent nearly 3 hours in the worst film that I have seen in a long time. I think that filmmakers should really consider the fact that people, lots of people, are giving up a portion of their valuable time to see their film. The least that they should do is entertain and enlighten. Tonight I was neither. I want my time back.

I often talk about food from my childhood. My mother made a fake crab dip once in a while that I remember liking. It may not have been anything like this one that actually originates with my Kansas raised wife. It reminds me of my childhood and that’s all that counts. Whenever we serve it a parties everyone seems to really like it. Either that or they lick the bottom of the bowl just to be polite.

Ingredients

  • 1 Package Cream Cheese (at room temperature)
  • 1 Package Imitation Crab
  • 1/4 Cup Ketchup
  • 1/2 Mayonaise
  • 3 Green Onions, finely chopped
  • 2 Celery Stalks, finely chopped
  • 1 Shake Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 Shake Tabasco Sauce
  • Salt and Pepper

Tools

  • Mixing Bowl
  • Chef’s Knife
  • Wooden Spoon
  1. In mixing bowl, combine all ingredients.
  2. Salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Refrigerate for at least one hour.
  4. Serve with club or ritz crackers, nothing fancy.

Mascarpone and Parma Ham Sandwich

That’s right, a ham and cheese sandwich. I love simple food with great ingredients. You can spend the entire day in the kitchen and make delicious food and you can buy the perfect ingredients and simply assemble as delicious of a delight. I have fond memories of the old ham and processed cheese on wonderbread. Fortunately, it will remain a memory. This is not your mama’s ham and cheese.

I also have fond memories of this sandwich. There was a little Italian deli (Run by two French brothers, go figure) near Paddington Station in London that made this sandwich and it was so good that, even when I wasn’t in that part of town, I would go out of my way to grab one.

Ingredients

  • 1 Short Baguette
  • 3-4 Slices Prosciutto
  • Mascarpone Cheese

Tools

  • Knife
  1. Slice the baguette in half lengthwise.
  2. Spread a coat of mascarpone (sweet Italian cream cheese) on one side of the bread.
  3. Add the ham.

Hot Mulled Wine

The winter’s night has already reached a few friends and is sure to nip a few others in the nose before you know it. Halloween brings with it a chill in the air, maybe some rain or snow and need for warming insides while a roaring fire takes care of our toes. This mulled wine is perfect for one of those nights. Make a batch for the grown ups passing out candy.

Ingredients

  • 1 Bottle Red Wine (Don’t spend too much)
  • 1/4 Cup Sugar
  • 1/4 Cup Brandy
  • 2-3 Cinnamon Sticks
  • 10-12 Cloves
  • Pinch of allspice
  • 1 Orange, ¬†carefully peeled and sliced

Tools

  • Large Pot
  • Ladle
  • Chef’s Knife
  • Cork Screw
  1. Combine all ingredients in a large pan, reserving the orange peel for garnish.
  2. Warm but do not boil, for about 20 minutes.
  3. Ladle out, straining if needed. Leave on stove to sweeten the air.

 

 

Jennifer’s Coffee Cake

Cutting straight to the chase tonight. It is a very political time and the food politics are so slanted and outrageous that I can’t even bother anymore.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 Cups Flour + 2 Tablespoons
  • 1 Tablespoon Baking Powder
  • 3/4 Cup Sugar
  • 1 Egg
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 1 Stick Butter + 2 Tablespoons
  • 1/2 Cup Milk
  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla
  • 1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon Cinnamon
  • 1/2 Chopped Walnuts
  • 1 Teaspoon Cardamom (fresh)

Tools

  • Mixing Bowls
  • Ovenproof 9 inch Square Pan (Pyrex)
  • Wooden Spoon
  • Fine Stainer
  • Mortar and Pestle
  1. Pre heat oven to 350.
  2. Sift flour, sugar, baking powder and salt through the strainer.
  3. Beat egg in separate bowl.
  4. Melt 1 stick of the butter. Let cool slightly.
  5. Add egg, butter and milk to flour mixture. Mix well.
  6. Melt the other two tablespoons butter.
  7. Crush the cardamom with the mortar and pestle.
  8. In another bowl, combine brown sugar, cardamom, 2 tablespoons flour, cinnamon, nuts and 2 tablespoons melted butter.
  9. Butter the pan well.
  10. Pour Half the batter in the pan.
  11. Add a layer of the brown sugar mixture evenly over the first half of batter.
  12. Cover with the remaining batter.
  13. Bake for 25-30 minutes.