Mmmmm… Scones

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This week felt like winter has finally settled in. Weirdly enough, the last two weeks of November felt colder than it is right now, but the gloomy days of December make me want to snuggle up under a blanket and enjoy the couch. Falling a little ill this week didn’t make it any better either. My roommates are also starting and finishing finals this week, so the stress is a tad-bit tangible. All of these lovely ingredients mixed together makes for one of those weeks you wish was just over.
Now, butter, sugar, flour, pears, and chocolate… mix those ingredients together and you get something way better than an unfortunate week. You get scones from Smitten Kitchen, and that is something that everybody wants.

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Scones are quite frankly one of my favorite baked goods. I remember when my mom used to make them. They were simple, yet delicious. They were usually made with a little bit of orange zest, or maybe a little cinnamon sugar dusted on the top, but even just a plain scone fresh out of the oven was enough to make me a happy camper. Mondays have also become my days for baking. The group gets together to play some MTG, I bring some baked goods along, and it is nothing short of a great time. The guys I play with are my co-workers as well, and they are hilarious. Just this last Monday, we were in the middle of an intense game, I made some weird snake noise with my mouth (because, you know, normal people stuff) and it turned into this long tangent of who knows what, and I was laughing so hard I was in tears. I love cooking, that much is obvious, but sharing it with people, that what makes it worth it.

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As mentioned above, this recipe comes from the wonderful Smitten Kitchen, and I’ll leave it here as well.

Roasted Pear and Chocolate Scones
3  firm pears (about a 1lb.) peeled, cored, and cut into 1″ cubes
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar, plus a little extra for sprinkling over the top
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt, and a pinch for the egg wash
6 tablespoons of butter, cut into small cubes (the smaller the better I think)
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup (3 oz.) chopped semisweet chocolate
2 large eggs, 1 for dough, 1 for egg wash

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and place the pears on the baking sheet. Roast for about 20 minutes, or until pears feel dry and are tad brown. Remove the pears from the oven and let cool. You may slide the parchment paper with the pears onto a cooling rack, or if you have room, put the pears on a plate into the fridge/freezer to cool faster. The pears should be lukewarm after cooling.

In an electric mixer or bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, 1/4 cup sugar, and salt. Toss in the lukewarm pear chunks, cubes of butter, egg, and heavy cream. Mix until the dough comes together. Then add the chocolate and mix for a few more seconds.

Note: This is much easier with an electric mixer, but doable by hand. If you use your hands, add a tablespoon extra heavy cream to help bring the dough together, and using your hands, mold the pears into the dough.

On a well floured counter top, pat the dough out into a 6″ round. This will make 6 large scones, or you can cut them a bit smaller if you would like more out of a single recipe (I suggest just doing two recipes though, the large scones are so satisfying). Place the cut out dough back onto the lined baking sheet, about 1-2 inches apart. Whisk the remaining one egg with a teaspoon of water and a pinch of salt. Brush the tops of each scone and sprinkle the tops with sugar.

Bake scones until golden, about 30 minutes.

I made these fresh, but Deb from Smitten Kitchen says you can make this recipe up until just before putting them in the oven, and freeze the dough overnight for later use. She is a pretty smart cookie over at Smitten Kitchen, so I believe her 😉

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A Very “Ramon” Thanksgiving

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One of my favorite aspects of the holidays is that my mom lets me get adventurous with the meal plan. Starting a few years ago, I began cracking open The Flavor Bible by Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg, flipping through, looking at every ingredient and flavor pairing until something struck me. Shortly after discovering The Flavor Bible, my friend brought me a cookbook home from Paris, and you wouldn’t believe who wrote it. It was Culinary Artistry by Page and Dornenburg. With the two books, I took it upon myself to create my own recipes.

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Now comes my issue with turkey. I am not a fan of turkey.. I know, I know.. blasphemy.. but those birds, even if you find a “small” one, are still gigantic. My biggest problem is that instilling flavor throughout the bird is quite difficult, and no matter what, there are always dry spots. I have seen them brined and roasted, only roasted, fried in vats of oil, and I am still looking for that turkey that just blows me away. Actually, writing this post made me think that perhaps next year that should be my project. Anyway, my answer to this problem for now, smaller game birds.

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This year, I decided to go with pheasant. I have never cooked a pheasant before, and the only place I have eaten one is in a pie that I had in London. I must say, the pie was delicious. I even bit into a small piece of buck shot, so it was authentic to say the least. When I envisioned my plate, I wanted the pheasant, frisee, and maitake mushrooms to be centered around something. According to Food52, bone marrow has been on people’s radar, and I LOVE it. So in my head, the marrow bones would be like a branch in the woods, with frisee acting like leaves, the mushrooms acting like, well, mushrooms, and the pheasant would be the bird in the brush. I was pretty close to achieving this vision, however, the marrow bones were not canoed like I imagined. Next time I will definitely specify.
Despite the presentation panning out a little differently, my meal turned out. It was the Thanksgiving first course, and the flavors I paired turned out great.

Apple Cider Glazed Pheasant with Roasted Marrow Bones, Hen of the Woods, and Apple Chestnut Puree:
1 Pheasant
1/2 cup chopped apples ( I used Braeburn apples)
1/2 cup roasted chestnuts
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1 shallot roughly chopped
1 teaspoon of salt
1/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice (a little extra for adjustments)
Kosher salt
Ground black pepper
1/2 cup apple cider (preferably unsweetened)
1/4 stick of unsalted butter
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 marrow bone that has been canoed
1/4 lb. Hen of the Woods (maitake) mushrooms
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 bunch of frisee
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Begin by washing the pheasants. Using kosher salt, scrub the pheasant all over, and then rinse with cold water. Set aside.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Take the chestnuts, and using a small knife, put a small cut into the shells. Place the chestnuts onto a dry sheet pan and roast for 35 minutes. You know they will they be done because they will burst open at the cuts. While the chestnuts are cooking, roughly chop the apples, the shallot, take off the thyme leaves, and place them into a small bowl. Toss with 1 teaspoon of salt. After the chestnuts are done roasting, let them cool until you can handle with your bare hands, they should still be warm to the touch. Begin removing the shells and skins, adding the chestnuts to the bowl with the apples. Toss the chestnuts with the rest of the mixture.

Prepare the glaze by melting the 1/4 stick of butter, add in the brown sugar, apple cider, and 1 tablespoon of salt. Bring to a boil and take off heat.

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees for the pheasants. Stuff the pheasant with as much of the apple mixture as you can. Using cooking twine, tie the legs of the pheasant together. If some of the stuffing falls out, that is fine. Lightly salt and pepper the outside of the pheasant. Place the pheasant on its side into a deep pan, baste with the apple cider glaze, and place in the oven. Cook for 30 minutes, basting with the glaze every ten minutes. After 30 minutes, turn the pheasant onto its other side, and put back into the oven, cooking for another 30 minutes and repeating the glazing process. The pheasant should be nice and golden brown on both sides by the time it is done.

While the pheasant is cooking, place the marrow bones on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper, and roast for 25 minutes at 425 degrees. At the same time, heat a skillet with a 2 tablespoons of butter and sautee the hen of the woods, covered, for 5- 10 minutes on each side. they should be nice and golden brown on each side when they are done.

After the pheasant is finished cooking, pull out the apple mixture with a spoon and place in a blender. Add a 1/4 cup of the orange juice and blend. If you want the puree to be thinner, add a little more orange juice at a time until it is the desired consistency.

Now that everything is finished, mix the olive oil and lemon juice, lightly dress the frisee and plate the food.

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This recipe serves between 2 – 3 people. If you decide on just making the pheasant, they are small, but good for 2 people.
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If you use or share this recipe on the interwebs, I only ask that you link back to my site. Please and thank you!

A Boozy Doughnut Adventure

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For the past couple weeks I have been experimenting with doughnuts. I have tried a few doughnut places around the city, and this time, I decided to try my own. My first attempt happened last Monday. I found a great recipe on The Vanilla Bean Blog, tweaked it a little, and went to town. I had spent all Sunday night preparing the dough and the pastry cream so it could chill overnight and I could fry them in the morning and bring them to the magic group. Well, I got as far as frying the doughnuts and it was a disaster. If you follow me on twitter, you probably saw a few tweets about the catastrophe…  I was pretty salty about the whole experience. Basically, the outsides were beautifully golden and the insides didn’t cook at all. They were lightly fried balls of dough, not quite a doughnut. However,  I was determined to make these work. I went back to my parents on Wednesday, and started the process all over again. This time though, I had delicious doughnuts to enjoy afterwards.

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The recipe I used for the dough came from BreadIn5. This easy-to-make brioche dough is perfect for any number of things. I get the vibe that making dough or bread is a little intimidating for a lot of people, but this could not be made simpler, and the flavor is great. I do recommend that when using this recipe, make sure all of your ingredients are room temperature when mixing them. During the 2 hour rising period after the flour is mixed in, the dough will rise almost twice what it would if your eggs and butter are too cold. It happened to me the first time I tried it out, which I think was part of the problem.

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Now, on Sarah’s blog she says to roll the dough out on a floured surface until it is about 1/4 inch thick, and cut out pieces with a 2 inch cookie cutter. In my effort to save time and prevent a mess in a small apartment, I decided to take pieces of the dough, flatten them with my hands, and then use a cookie cutter. Wrong, bad, no, listen to Sarah, she knows better. Rolling this dough and using the cookie cutter is a must in my experience. This was fault number two that made the first try go awry.

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This is where it gets fun. The original cream recipe came from Zoe Bakes, but I changed it a little to make a boozy, fall custard.

Apple Brandy Pastry Cream:
2 Cups whole milk
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
Pinch of Salt
1/2 of a vanilla bean
2 cinnamon sticks
1/8 teaspoon fresh nutmeg
1/4 cup apple brandy
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 egg and 3 egg yolks

Begin by mixing the milk, 1/4 cup sugar, butter, salt, vanilla bean, cinnamon sticks, nutmeg, and brandy in a medium sauce pan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat.
In another bowl, whisk the cornstarch and 1/4 cup sugar together. Then add the egg and yolks to the bowl and whisk together until it makes a smooth paste. Now, begin adding a little bit of the hot milk to the egg mixture at a time until the eggs are warm to the touch. This is called tempering the eggs and will prevent them from curdling when added to the hot milk.
Pour the eggs into the pan with the milk, and bring to a boil whisking continuously for 2 -3 minutes. This will break up any clumps of cornstarch left in the mixture. Your custard will thicken almost immediately and will be done once it is nice and smooth.
Press the cream through a strainer into a shallow container. Cover with plastic wrap pressed up against the surface of the cream so that a film does not form. Place in the freezer for 15 minutes so that the eggs cool quickly. Remove from freezer and place in refrigerator to cool overnight.

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The glaze is very simple. Follow this recipe from Alton Brown, however, I did not use the corn syrup, and at the end, I splashed in a tablespoon of pistachio liqueur to give it a little boozy kick. Once the dough has been fried and then filled, you can gently dip the tops into the glaze and let rest for 30 minutes.

Well, there you have it, it is definitely an adventure to make these, but I promise they are worth it. Here is a condensed version of everything that I did:

Brioche Doughnuts with Apple Brandy Cream and Pistachio Chocolate Glaze:

1 1/2 pounds brioche dough (Breadin5)
Flour
Canola Oil for frying
Pastry cream (as seen above)
Chocolate glaze (AltonBrown, minus the corn syrup and add a tablespoon of pistachio liqueur at the end)

Roll the dough out into  1/4 inch sheet and cut out pieces with a 2 inch cookie cutter. Place the dough on lined sheet pans and let sit for 15 – 20 minutes while you heat the oil in a heavy sauce pan. Use enough oil to to fill the pan 2 – 3 inches up the sides. Using a cooking thermometer, heat the oil until it is around 360 degrees. Doing between 3 – 5 at a time, place the dough in the oil and fry for 2 – 3 minutes on one side, then flip and fry for another minute. They should be nice and golden brown all over. Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and place on paper towels to drain. Continue this process until all the dough has been fried.

Once cooled, poke holes in the fried dough, and using a pastry bag, fill with 1- 2 tablespoons of pastry cream. Once done, dip in the glaze and let sit for 30 minutes until glaze is dry.

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If you use or share the pastry cream recipe on the interwebs, it is very much appreciated if you link back to my site, please and thank you!

A Summery Fall Salad

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Well, it is officially November. I am not entirely sure where October went. Actually, I am not entirely sure where fall went either, because the heating lamps at the L stations are on  and I’m layering up like crazy. If anyone has ever lived in Chicago or visited during our lovely winter, you know that we have a few extra seasons here in the Windy City. There is fall, which lasts about a month, then about half way through November it might as well be winter, then you get to December and it is “super winter”, and as of last year, January became polar vortex season. Spring is also kind of none existent. After January, you kind of back track through super winter and regular winter, and then you wake up some day in May and its like, “Oh hey, I can wear shorts today!” That reminds me Mr. Landlord, either the radiators are broken, or that switch needs to get switched on and not touched for the next 5 months. Please and thank you!

Right! Now that I have talked about the unending chilliness, lets talk about the good stuff… FOOD! This post today is about a deliciously fall salad that reminds me of the sunshine. It is a recipe I found on a, surprise surprise, amazing food blog. Love & Lemons is a blog that warms me up by just reading it. It is another blog that focuses on healthy recipes, and quinoa being ever present in my apartment, this salad recipe was begging to be made. I will start by saying that this is a nice dense salad. If a salad is going to be all I’m eating before I head out the door or hit the hay, it has to be filling. It may be that I am a 6’3″ guy in his twenties that has the metabolism of a hummingbird.. but green salads by themselves don’t do the job.

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The salad incorporates yummy fall flavors, but it totally reminds me of summer. There are just so many colors! Bright green arugula and cilantro, red quinoa, orange sweet potato, and the scallions just add a nice pop when you look at it.. and eat it!
Also, roasted pepitas, those need to be kept around for nibbling whether you have the salad or not. They are a perfect snack.

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Sweet Potato, Quinoa Salad
1 cup cooked quinoa (1/2 cup uncooked)
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cubed
Olive oil
1 whole poblano pepper
1/4 cup scallions
Handful of arugula or baby greens
Salt
A few sprigs of cilantro
1/4 cup raw pepitas (pumpkin seeds)

Dressing
1/4 olive oil
2 tbsp fresh lime juice, about 1 lime
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon ancho or chipotle chili powder (I used chipotle)
a drizzle of honey or maple syrup
pinch of salt & pepper

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Spread the sweet potatoes on a baking sheet and toss with olive oil and salt. Put the whole poblano pepper in the center of the baking sheet. Roast the potatoes and pepper in the oven until the potatoes are golden brown on the top, or easily punctured with a fork. The pepper should be getting black spots as well. This should take around 20 minutes, but my oven is a little funny and this can take around 30 – 35 minutes, so don’t worry if it takes a little longer.
While those are roasting, combine all the ingredients for the dressing in a mason jar, cover and shake. If you don’t have a mason jar on hand, this  can easily be whisked together in bowl. Set the dressing aside. Place the raw pepitas into a dry skillet over medium heat with a few pinches of salt. Toast for a few minutes and remove from heat.
Once the sweet potato and pepper are done roasting, remove from the oven and let sit until you can touch the pepper with your hands. Remove the ribbing and seeds from the pepper and cut into 1/2 inch pieces.
Toss potatoes, pepper, quinoa and arugula together with half the dressing. Taste and add more dressing if needed.
Garnish with scallions, cilantro, and toasted pepitas.

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A Smorgasbord of Goodies

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The last couple days have been filled with goodies of all kinds and I felt like I needed to blog about it. First of all, I woke up sunday morning, sat my self on the couch with my computer, and started perusing the many food blogs of the internet. I found an “Olive Oil Zucchini Bread” from Not Without Salt. It just so happened that I was only a few ingredients shy of whipping that bad boy together. I walked a block to one of my favorite stores, Newleaf Natural Grocery, picked up a couple of zucchinis and a little nutmeg, walked back to the apartment with a hop in my step, and got to work.
Aside from the fact that I completely and utterly despise having to squeeze the water out of zucchini, it is a necessary evil. When you put the elbow grease necessary to really wring it out, you just know it is going to be that much better. I actually ended up having a funny experience with this bread. I think my pan was just a tad shy of being big enough for the batter, so I ended up with a loaf of zucchini bread , with a muffin top, overflowing while still in the oven. Thank goodness for aluminum foil. However, when it was done, it was fantastic. It was super moist, the flavor of the olive oil came through nicely but wasn’t too strong.  It was even better toasted in a skillet with some apple-fennel butter spread on it. YUM!

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Speaking of apple-fennel butter… this stuff is the bomb. I found it on twitter via the James Beard Foundation. First off, super easy to make. It takes 20 minutes to make this dreamy little jar of flavor. Second of all, just put it on everything. I was putting it on the zucchini bread, muffins, hell, just put that on some plain white toast and you have a quick tasty breakfast. Nom Nom Nom Nom!!!

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My next experiment happened at 9 o’clock at night. For starters, this takes 2 1/2 – 3 hours to do, so don’t start that late! The windows in the whole apartment were all nice and steamy by the time I was done. Anyway, dulce de leche does not need much of an explanation. It is super sweet, but oh so yummy.  I spent 4 months in Argentina where it was served everywhere so it is kind of special to me. Basically, buy a can of condensed milk, remove the wrapper and any of the sticky stuff, place in a pot of boiling water, and let simmer for 2 1/2 – 3 hours. Make sure when it is simmering that the top of the can is always covered by water. I have read that if it is not, you will have a small dulce de leche bomb on your hands.  I have never experienced it, and would prefer not to. After it is finished, remove from the pot and let sit until it reaches room temperature. Then remove the top and BOOM! Sweet, caramel awesomeness.

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We are nearing the end of this, I promise, like I said, goodies of all kinds. This goodie just so happens to be candied ginger. Ginger is already one of my favorite things to cook with. I love the flavor, I love the versatility, it is just the cats pajamas. The reason I made this was because I was planning on making some muffins that required candied ginger. I could have bought it at the store, but I had never really “candied” anything before. I found this nifty recipe on Food52. It is a little tedious, you have to be diligent with your stirring, but the end result is worth it. Waiting for all of the water to evaporate and then all of a sudden the ginger has gone from syrupy and dark, to light little chips with a sweet coat of sugar.. I was a little too excited about it.

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Alrighty! Here it is, the last of the goodies! This recipe is coming to you from a food blog that is going to make me a million pounds heavier cause I could just, sit, read, bake, eat, and repeat all day. Top With Cinnamon  is one of my go to blogs when it concerns baking. The pictures are great and the baked goods that come out of it are always a crowd pleaser. These “Whole Grain Apple Ginger Breakfast Cakes” were made for a group of friends that I play Magic the Gathering with every monday. Don’t judge, because it was “Magical Muffin Monday” and it was awesome. Anyway, these were kind of the culmination of all the goodies. They were made with the candied ginger, and people were putting the apple-fennel butter and dulce de leche on them to make it a delectable treat that would fill and satisfy!
All the recipes for these guys are included in the links. I figured if I wrote out the recipe for each one this post would go on forever. Now go make some goodies and enjoy!!

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Thanksgiving in a Bowl

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This week has been kind of unfortunate. Work is slow, struggling with questions about the future, and at some point during the week I lost twenty dollars. After I had realized I had lost the twenty dollars, I was about ready to put my hands in the air, and scream as loud as I could on a sidewalk in Chicago. Luckily, I was able to contain my overwhelming sense of fury. So it might be a bit of an exaggeration, but hey, I was in one of those moods where little things felt like the end of the world.
So what was I to do to make this week better? Well, delicious food always makes things better. So I set out to make a tasty dinner for my brother, his girlfriend, and my roommates. This post is about the soup that I found on an incredible blog known as Local Milk .

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 The photography is eye capturing, the writing is pristine, and the recipes are wonderful. I couldn’t help myself when I saw the “Roasted Butternut Squash & Apple Brandy Soup”, I needed it. So I looked up the closest Sur la Table, bought myself an immersion blender, and went to town.

Yesterday, the kitchen was filled with aromas of roasting fall produce, shallots and garlic cooking in butter and brandy, and by the end, I wasn’t sure there would be dinner because I could have eaten it right out of the pot.
It ended up being a successful first course. Everyone enjoyed it, and my roommate decided that it tasted like “Thanksgiving in a bowl. ” Personally, I loved the way it looked. It had a nice light golden color, creamy texture, not too thick, and not too soupy. The fennel frond and roasted pumpkin seeds also added a nice touch of color. The bowls were from Sur la Table as well (they made a shiny penny off of me this week) because I was getting a tad bored with my current collection of dinnerware.
So with a bowl of delectable fall flavors, a little retail therapy, and a warm friendly dinner, my week instantly got better!

Roasted Butternut Squash & Apple Brandy Soup
2 lbs. butternut squash – peeled, seeded, and 1″ chopped
1 lb. firm, tart apples (i.e. Honeycrisp) – cored and 1″ chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon smoked salt, and a little extra for seasoning
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large shallot – between 3/4 to 1 cup chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup apple brandy or calvados ( I used Laird’s Applejack)
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
3 cups stock (chicken or veggie, I used low sodium chicken)
1 tablespoon raw honey
1/4 cup cream, a little extra to thin soup afterwards
Tamari roasted pepitas (make your own or certain stores carry them i.e. Whole Foods)
Fennel frond or thyme sprigs for garnish

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.

The best way to make this soup is to be very “mise en place” about it.
That being said, chop and measure out all your ingredients according to the ingredient list.
After doing so, line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Toss the butternut squash and apples with the olive oil and a teaspoon of smoked salt on the baking sheet. Put into the oven and roast until soft in the middle. You should be able to easily poke a hole with a fork. Around 20 minutes. Afterwards, move to the upper rack, and turn on the broiler. Let the squash and apples get nice and brown on the top, but be careful not to burn them.
While the squash and apples are cooking, begin to melt the butter in a  deep pot over medium-low heat. Let the butter get a little brown. Add in the shallots and garlic with a nice three-finger pinch of smoked salt. Stirring occasionally, sweat the shallots and garlic until translucent and fragrant, but do not brown them. Add the brandy and thyme leaves. Cook until the brandy is reduced by half and the alcohol has cooked off. Should take about 5 minutes. By this time the veggies should be ready. If they are not, remove the shallot mixture from heat and set aside.
Once the veggies are done, add them to the shallot mixture. Top with stock, honey, and another three-finger pinch of smoked salt.  Stir and bring to a covered simmer for about ten minutes. Remove the lid and using an immersion blender, blend the soup until nice and smooth. If you do not have an immersion blender, you can put a portion of the soup into a blender and repeat that process until there are no chunks of squash or apple left. Once pureed, add the cream and mix. Taste and adjust seasoning with smoked salt or honey. If you want the soup thinner, you may add more stock or cream. I like a rich soup, so I used the cream.
(Optional) Serve with a garnish of fennel frond or fresh thyme and tamari roasted pepitas for a little crunch. You can always use another seed of your liking, but I thought these tasted pretty spot on.

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Simply Delicious Carnitas

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I adore slow cooked food. Whether it’s 2 hours or 10 hours, the process of slow cooking anything is just the bees knees. First of all, it is pretty easy. You do the prep, you steadily combine ingredients, in some cases you just throw them in all at once, and you let it cook, more or less untouched, for as long as it needs. After it is simmering on the stove or cooking in the oven, you get to smell all the delicious components mingle, become stronger and more complex until everyone in the house is sitting around asking, “Is dinner ready yet!?”. I actually go a little bonkers because I need to occupy myself so that I don’t just sit and stare at the pot waiting for it to be ready.. which,on occasion, has been known to happen.

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The original recipe came from a blog known as the Homesick Texan, but I stumbled upon this recipe on Smitten Kitchen. Well, I stumble upon a lot of things on this blog, its awesome, and it all looks beyond tasty. The carnitas recipe stood out to me though cause it was a slow cooked style recipe and I had been saying for weeks that I wanted to make either carnitas or barbacoa. What a treat it turned out to be! Done very simply, and topped with a little avocado, lime, and cilantro, well, that is all I need to be happy for a night. It also got served to a few of my friends family members, with which one of them responded, “Ramon.. you can get married now.” I think that means they turned out pretty good.

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Carnitas
3 lbs. Boneless pork shoulder or butt, cut into 2 inch cubes
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup lime juice
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp salt

Combine all the ingredients in in a large pot or dutch oven. Cover with enough water to barely cover the top of the meat. Bring to a roiling boil, then turn down the heat and let simmer uncovered for 2 hours. No need to stir during this time. After letting it simmer, bring it back to a boil, stirring occasionally, until all the liquid has evaporated, and there is nothing but rendered fat left. This takes around 45 minutes. The meat at this point is going to be ready to fall apart, so stir gently and you will get a nice mix of shredded pork and little chunks. Once the liquid is all gone, you can go on to brown the meat just a tad. A little browning makes the meat look even better.
Serve the finished product on warmed corn tortillas and any extras that you would like.

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