Category Archives: Bakers

GIVING THANKS FOR: PUMPKINS

What isn’t pumpkin flavoring added to these days? I could easily write a Forrest Gump style list of all the squash related dishes that show up on menus and in cookbooks at this time of year but that would be annoying. Not to mention the beverages — alcoholic and caffeinated — supplemented with pumpkin intent. So I won’t.

I won’t even mention that the native to North America squash is quickly becoming a standard in today’s Thanksgiving repertoire. What I will do is give you a few ideas and a recipe for the best dish to sneak the creamy golden ooze into.

But here are a few fun facts that you may not be aware of, and this nugget of information, might have you considering  how to gild some of your meals with squashy golden goodness. One cup of pumpkin contains thirty calories, and is high in vitamins A and C. It is also full of potassium.

Step one is to choose a pumpkin with lots of meaty flesh that is easy to handle. The giant orange Jack-O-Lantern type is NOT what you want for this purpose. A small sugar pumpkin, jarrahdale, or a blue hubbard are all good choices.

Step two is pretty simple. Cut your pumpkin in half and remove the seeds. Set the two halves cut side down on a lightly oiled baking dish or roasting pan and roast in a 350 degree oven until a knife pierces through the skin easily. About forty five minutes to an hour should do it, depending on the size. When the pumpkins are cool, scoop the flesh into a bowl and discard (compost) the shells. Purée the flesh in a blender and voila, you now have fresh home-made pumpkin purée. Of course you can make your life easier and skip this step. Just pick up a can in the supermarket, but where’s the fun in that?

Step three is where you add pumpkin flavor to your favorite recipes. I like to make a creamy soup out of it. I also add it to thick Greek yogurt with a teaspoon or so of honey, topping the bowlful off with some gluten-free granola. But that’s just me. Aside from pumpkin pie, and who doesn’t love pumpkin pie — especially as a wrap up to a Thanksgiving feast — add pumpkin to your favorite macaroni and cheese recipe. Don’t make a face! It’s ooey-gooey decadent and delicious. It also turns the mac casserole a gorgeous shade of make-you-smile sunshine yellow.

My recipe is gluten-free, but it’s just as easy to make this with traditional elbow macaroni.

Pumpkin Macaroni and Cheese Recipe 

Ingredients:

1 12 ounce box/package of elbow macaroni – I used Bionaturae Organic Gluten-Free pasta for mine.

2 tbsps. minced onion

1 tsp butter and 1 tsp vegetable oil

1 cup pumpkin purée

1 cup heavy cream and 1/2 cup milk (I have also made this with a jar of Classico Alfredo sauce – which happens to be gluten-free – instead of the cream and milk)

1 cup sharp cheddar cheese shredded (I use Cabot Private Stock) and separated, reserve 1/4 cup for topping

1/4 cup shredded mozzarella

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp thyme

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

1 tsp salt

1tsp pepper

1/4 cup crumbled potato chips (Wise Potato Chips are gluten-free)

Under-cook the macaroni by at least a full minute leaving it more than a little al dente (it will continue to cook in the oven) Add macaroni to an oven-proof baking dish.

In a medium size saucepan melt butter into oil and sauté onion until just translucent. Add milk, cream and pumpkin purée, heating slowly until just bubbling. Add 3/4 cup cheddar cheese, mozzarella, and stir until smooth. Add spices and stir through. Pour the cheese sauce over macaroni in baking dish.

Now, this is a very important step! Add the reserved cheddar cheese to the top of the casserole and sprinkle the potato chip shards on top of that. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 40 minutes or until casserole is bubbly and lightly brown on top. Let cool for ten minutes before serving.

BEER, BOURBON, BBQ YEAR OF THE CHICKEN: AN EPICUREAN ADVENTURE

Annual events have a tendency to become stale and in time mundane. An exception is the happily titled Beer, Bourbon, BBQ, Year of the Chicken, a suburban, backyard food and drink extravaganza that sprang from the minds of Sissy and Rick Norman. That spark of an idea would become an epic conflagration — with the help of Dave Mayhew and his wife Jen — into the 2017 celebration of professional chefs, bartenders, beer brewers, and entertainers seen in the pictures below.

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A SAINTED SEND-OFF

Sweet and minty, these brownies were made with creme de menthe by Linda Vanderslice, a former neighbor and friend on the street we just moved away from. They represent years of experience in baking and if what they say about food equating to love is true, then the cocoon of a cul de sac that we lived on was a truly blessed place.

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JOE’S LEGACY: EXQUISITE FLAVORS FOR A CAUSE

032817josef1Paté spread courtesy of Sickles Market in Little Silver.

It was a foggy Monday night when guests, chefs, and culinary students converged on the Navesink Country Club for the annual Jocef, Joe Romanowski Culinary Fund Raiser. A veritable who’s who in the local food scene, Flavor Chronicles brings you pictures of some of the most beautiful creations you’ve ever seen.

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LEMONS: TWISTED AND SQUEEZED

lemons

At what point in the English language did lemons become a metaphor for life? Eggs in my opinion make more sense. My life has become scrambled, or things are going over-easy. Maybe life has become deviled or hard boiled? We’ll go with lemons though.

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