A Trip to The Farmers’ Market: Caramelized Butternut Squash and Cranberry Salad

April 24, 2011 § Leave a comment

I went to the Framers’ Market this week to look at the seasonal vegetables and to let them decide what I was going to eat.  Everything looked so great, but I finally decided on butternut squash, beets, and some chard.  When I started putting everything away, my cat, Hank, was very curious of the new smells that I brought home.  It took him a good 20 minutes of exploring, batting, and sniffing to finally lose interest and go back to his cat nap on the sofa.

I decided to use the butternut squash in a salad and it turned out really well.  It was a great fusion of winter vegetables meeting spring greens.  The mustard dressing I made was a great contrast to the sweet butternut squash and cranberries.  I hope you this salad helps you look back on this winter and say hello to spring all in one bite.


  • 2 medium butternut squash (4 to 6 pounds total)
  • 6 tbs. unsalted butter (melted)
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • arugula


1.  Preheat your oven to 400º F.  Cut off and discard both ends of the butternut squash.  Peel the squash and cut them in half, lengthwise. Remove the seeds form the center of the squash (you can either roast these like pumpkin seeds or throw them away).  Dice up both butternut squash into 1 1/2 inch cubes.  Try to make the pieces as uniform as possible, so they all cook at the same rate.

2.  Place the diced butternut squash onto a large a roasting/baking sheet.  Make sure the baking sheet has sides.  Add the melted butter, brown sugar, salt, and pepper to the baking sheet.  Use you hands to toss all of the ingredients on the sheet together.  Make sure you spread the squash into a single layer on the sheet.  Roast the squash for 30 minutes in the oven.

3.  After 30 minutes, toss the squash and add the cranberries to the squash.  Return the pan to the oven for another 20-25 minutes, until the squash has caramelize.  While the butternut squash is finishing off in the oven, toast your walnuts in a pan on low heat.  Keep a careful eye on the nuts, so they don’t burn.

4.  When the squash has cooked, take the baking sheet out of the oven and allow the squash to cool off (but still be warm).  While the squash is cooking, you can make the Dijon vinaigrette dressing or you can use a good quality store bought vinaigrette or honey mustard dressing on your salad.  Plate the arugula first, then the butternut squash and cranberries, and then the roasted walnuts on top.  Drizzle with Dijon vinaigrette.


  • 1/3 cup champagne vinegar or red wine vinegar
  • 4 tsp. whole seed Dijon mustard
  • 1 cup and 3 tbs. olive oil
  • 1 tbs. finely chopped shallot
  • fresh ground pepper and salt to taste

Spiced Cranberry Bundt Cake

April 20, 2011 § Leave a comment

On cold nights, I love eating a dessert that has a little bit of spice in it.  The spice can be cinnamon, nutmeg, or a blend of pumpkin pie spice.  All of these spices go well with a warm cup of coffee or a nice black tea with milk and honey.  I found this recipe in the November 2008 edition of Bon Appetit, when I was going through my old cooking magazines, and adapted it.  It calls for Chinese Five spice and, having never used this spice before, before was intrigued.  I am glad that I took the chance of using this unfamiliar ingredient because this cake is delicious.  It is great late at night or to slice and go for breakfast in the morning.  This recipe makes a large Bundt cake, so it might be a good idea to share some of this moist cakey goodness with co-workers or friends.


  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cups almond flour
  • 2 1/2 tsp. Chinese Five spice
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 cup unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup packed golden brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup reduced fat Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup toasted almonds (chopped)
  • 1 cup halved fresh or frozen cranberries (if frozen, do not thaw)
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries


  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 4 tsp (more or less to get the right consistency) orange juice


1.  Preheat the oven to 350º F.  Butter and flour a 12-cup Bundt pan.  Whisk the first 9 dry ingredients in a medium bowl to blend.

2.  Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and both sugars until pale, light, and fluffy.  Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until fully incorporated.  Beat in the vanilla extract and then the Greek yogurt.  After all of the wet ingredients are blended together, add the dry ingredients until just blended.  Gently fold in the almonds and the cranberries.

3.  Transfer the batter into the prepared cake pan.  Bake the cake until a tester inserted near the center comes out clean (about an hour and 10 minutes).  Cool the cake in the pan for 20 minutes and then turn the cake out onto a rack to cool completely.

4.  To make the icing stir the powdered sugar in a bowl with 1 tsp of orange juice at a time.  You want the icing to reach the consistency of heavy cream.  When the icing is finished, and the cake is cooled, spoon the icing over the cake.  To create a beautiful Bundt cake, make sure you allow the icing to drip down the sides.  Let the icing set, about 30 minutes.

Winter Potato Soup

April 17, 2011 § 1 Comment

Nothing says comfort after a hard day at work than a warm bowl of creamy hot potato soup.  It warms the body from the cold winter days and brightens the mood when the days seem so dark and long because the sun rises later and goes down earlier.  It makes all your worries go away, if only for the short time you are finishing every last drop from the bowl.


  • 4 lbs. of Yukon Gold potatoes (peel on and diced)
  • 2 bulbs of fennel (thinly sliced)
  • 3 leeks (thinly sliced and cleaned well)
  • olive oil
  • 2 boxes of vegetable broth
  • 1/2 pint heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan/Romano grated cheese
  • salt and pepper
1.  Saute fennel and leeks in a dutch oven pot with olive oil, salt, and pepper.
2.  When the leeks and fennel have caramelized, add the diced potatoes and vegetable broth to the pot.  Cover and simmer until potatoes are cooked through.
3.  When the potatoes are cooked through, use a hand-held masher to mash-up the potatoes and thicken the soup.  When all of the potatoes are broken up, add the heavy cream and the Parmesan/Romano cheese.  Finish the soup up with salt and pepper to taste.

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