Tagliatelle with Roasted *Acorn Squash
*This recipe is based on an authentic Italian dish but it should be noted that acorn squash is not indigenous to Italy--that's an American adaptation that gives a lovely nuttiness to the artisan sauce, accented by the nuttiness inherent in the parmagiano-reggiano. Buon Appetito!
What you'll need:
-1 package of fresh lasagna sheets, cut lengthwise into 1/2-inch strips and cooked in boiling, salted water for about 2 minutes. You'll need to have the other ingredients prepared BEFORE cooking the pasta--this should be the LAST thing you do. At room temperature, you can pre-cut the strips by taking the stack of lasagna sheets and cutting the strips all at once instead of cutting strips from each individual sheet--each sheet renders 8-10 strips. When finished cutting, set aside and prepare the other ingredients.
-2 acorn squash, quartered, roasted, then peel the skin and cube. To roast: Halve then quarter the acorn squash. Place on lined baking sheet and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Roast at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes--keeping an eye on the squash the last five minutes. Once roasted, remove pan from oven and let sit for five minutes. Peel the skin off the quartered sections and cube the squash. You will then place in a saute pan with 1/2 cup of vegetable stock, 2 sage leaves (leave whole and remove from squash when done), and 4 tablespoons of butter. Wait until liquid is reduced and roughly mash the cubed squash with your spatula or with the back of a spoon--this will serve as your sauce. If it's too thick, add some of the pasta's cooking water to thin-out.
-extra virgin olive oil
-freshly grated parmagiano-reggiano cheese
-freshly grated pecorini-romano cheese
-chopped Italian parsley
-pan-roasted pine nuts. To pan-roast: Place pine nuts in skillet on medium-high heat; shake pan--you'll want to check the pine nuts frequently. As they begin to brown, quickly remove from pan and set aside. This will only take about 60 or so seconds in pre-heated pan.
Cook pasta as directed above and drain thoroughly. Reserve a 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water. Place pasta directly in saute pan, turning off the heat, and use tongs to toss. If "sauce" needs to be more loose, use some of the reserved cooking water. Plate your pasta and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Sprinkle (to taste) with parmagiano-reggiano and pecorino-romano. Garnish with chopped parsley and pine nuts (to taste). This recipe makes enough to feed a family of 4 or 2 very hungry teenage-boys...if you can get them to eat squash, that is. What I like to do is make the dish and refrigerate the rest. Makes for a fast microwavable lunch or tasty moonlit midnight snack...also great for a romantic stay-in evening while watching your favorite couple's flick...Moonstruck, anyone???
So, now that we've set the table, it's time to pick out the glasses. How about a martini glass? Inside, you'll find a dark, scary brew that rivals even the darkest of nights and can protect you from any witch's spells, hexes, or vexes:
Witch's Brew 2010
-This is an alcoholic drink; non-alcoholic version to follow
What you'll need:
-Patron XO Cafe, chilled (basically, coffee-flavored tequila...trust me, it's better than it sounds)
-your favorite orange liqueur
-one cup of your favorite brewed coffee, completely cooled (you can use espresso, too, of course!)
-orange peel or candied orange peel for garnish (to make an orange peel, take your paring knife and CAREFULLY peel one continuous strip of orange, going from the top of the orange to the bottom as you slowly spin the orange in your hand)
To make one glass, fill shaker with 1/2 cup of brewed, cooled coffee to one part Patron XO Cafe and a half part orange liqueur. Add ice and shake. Strain into glass. Cut middle of candied orange peel and push on side of glass to garnish or hang fresh orange curl on side. Et voila! A scary concoction whose magic is revealed at the bottom of every glass.
Non-alcoholic version: In shaker, use full cup of brewed cooled coffee and add about a tablespoon of orange-flavored coffee syrup. Shake with ice and a teaspoon of "sugar in the raw" and strain into glass, using the same garnishing technique as above. Enjoy!
And hey, if you're not a fan of coffee, you can pair the pasta dish with either your favorite white or red--I'd recommend Layer Cake Malbec for the red or Cake Bread Sauvignon Blanc for the white. Non-alcoholic version:
San Pellegrino in a tall glass with a wedge or two of lime juice...always refreshing!
And since we've got a coffee-cocktail, I'm including a little dessert to go with our mid-fall Pop Culture Cooking: Cupcakes!
("carline" is the Scottish word for hag...)
What you'll need:
-a box of your favorite devil's food cake mix
-1 tablespoons of sour cream
-quarterd dark Reese's peanut putter cups or halved sections of Special Dark Hershey's chocolate bars
-cupcake pan for 12 cupcakes
-paper lining cups (place in cupcake pan before ladling in the batter)
-your favorite canned frosting--you can use any flavor of chocolate or vanilla (add a teaspoon of Grand Marnier to the can and incorporate well for a 21 & over version)
-Mix ingredients listed on box as directed, adding the sour cream and incorporating well. Ladle batter into cups. Fill 2/3 full. Bake as directed. When you take the hot cupcakes out of the oven, make small slits in the top of each cupcake with a knife. Push in either a half of a Hershey's section or a quarter of a Reese's. Don't worry about how it looks--because it will be covered with frosting--a magical surprise for your family, your honey, and/or your guests when they bite into the extra-moist cupcakes (thanks to the sour cream!). When cupcakes are completely cooled, spread a generous layer of frosting in swirling motion on top of cupcake. Garnish with a few candy corn or a single creme pumpkin. Put all twelve cupcakes on a tiered cake-stand to leave your eaters spellbound. And if there's only two of you, don't worry--you can refrigerate the cupcakes for about 5-7 days but I doubt they'll be around long enough to worry about!
That's it for this week's Pop Culture Cooking segment--thanks for joining me! Sadly, I was too busy last week to cook up something new, but I did get some GREAT ideas for future recipes...so stay tuned! Have a very happy, very safe Halloween this weekend--with these recipes, you won't be tempted to OD on the readily available Halloween candy out there (though I recommend you get it out of your system before the big night...my Achille's heel is Butterfingers...oh dear).
Until next time!