Saturday, November 21, 2015

Butternut Squash Ravioli

With the year coming to an end, the season for pumpkin and squash is finally here. I have to say I was practically jumping for joy when I saw the first cardboard box filled with butternut squash at Trader Joe's. With Halloween past and Thanksgiving just around the corner, I can't help but think of all the delicious food to be made and eaten during this holiday season. My first stop? Butternut squash ravioli -- creamy yet sweet filling, with a savory and crunchy sauce to accompany. Using fresh pasta sheets is what truly puts this recipe on the map. 

Introduction to Fresh Pasta: a tribute to Philadelphia

Living in Philadelphia for four years brought out the foodie in me. Although many know the city of brotherly love for it's Philly cheese steak, Philly is a true foodie paradise with so much more to offer than a meat hoagie with cheese whiz. It is a compact walkable city with anything and everything you could think of from food carts to hole-in-the-wall restaurants to gastropubs to affordable fine dining. Philadelphia was my introduction to real Italian food, to Di Bruno Bros and Capogiro gelato, to fresh pasta, and not to mention, to the love of my life. But we will save that story for another time. Today we talk of pasta, not those bow-ties that come in a box, but REAL pasta -- fresh handmade pasta. Silky smooth in texture, with a delicate bite, fresh pasta is much lighter than dried box pasta. It is a compilation of different types of flours, egg, and water. I've made different pasta recipes before, but when my friend Brian introduced me to this recipe by Marc Vetri, there was no going back. Vetri is one of the most renowned Italian chefs in Philly and has opened 6 restaurants, of which Vetri is the most well known. Unfortunately I have not had the pleasure of dining at Vetri, but it is most definitely on my must try list. 

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Classic French Onion Soup

Leaving for work at 5AM means getting a nice crisp wake up call by the 40 degree November weather -- cold but much preferred to the 90 F temperatures we had last month. This new chilly Fall weather makes me think of yellow leaves, reading books under a cozy blanket, hot chocolate by the fire place, and endless SOUP. Soup for lunch, soup for dinner, a different soup for every day of the week! My most recent soup craving was french onion soup, something rather hard to come by here in the Inland Empire. So I figured I would just have to make it myself. 

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Sweet Potato Spice Muffin Tops

The Beginning of Fall 

One of the greatest things about living in Southern California is the weather - summed up by sunny warm weather year round. Yet with daily doses of sunshine, it is hard to imagine that Fall is already here with Winter coming up fast. 90 degree weather hardly makes me want to turn on my oven for some Fall baking and I feel rather silly ordering a hot pumpkin spice latte when it is sweltering outside. So you can imagine how excited I was when the temperature dropped from 90s this weekend down to 50s yesterday. Hallelujah it's finally starting to feel like Autumn - the season to pull out the boots and sweaters, and start thinking about the holidays coming up. After 6 years of snowy winters on the east coast, I can hardly call christmas lights strung up around palm trees around here "festive." Yet at the end of the day, even though I am missing the seasons, I am thankful for not having to wake up an extra half hour earlier to defrost my car or shovel my driveway. 

What better way to celebrate the beginning of Fall than to start some Fall baking. My friend recently asked me to make a candied yam cookie that she had tried from a bakery in New York. Having never tried the cookie before, I could only go off of the description she gave me: soft, cake-like, filled with spice. So after some research, I came up with my own rendition of the candied yam cookie: Sweet Potato Spice Muffin Tops. I like to call them muffin tops rather than cookies since the texture is much more cake or muffin like. And in all honesty, it was kind of an excuse to try out my mini blow torch - so fun!