Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Easiest Roasted Acorn Squash

Now that fall is officially here and there is definitely more than just a "nip" in the air, it's the perfect time to break into those sweet and delicious squashes that fill the buckets of farmers' markets.

Here is a very simple roasted acorn squash to warm you up. Perfect for a last minute Thanksgiving side dish too. 

The Easiest Roasted Acorn Squash

Serves one

1 medium acorn squash
2 sprigs of rosemary
olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. While the oven is heating, cut the squash in half lenthwise. Scoop out the pulp and seeds. Drizzle squash with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and nestle the rosemary sprigs inside the hollow part of the squash. Roast for 45-60 minutes.

Let cool. Remove the rosemary sprigs. Enjoy.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Chicken Parmesan

I'm trying to cook in more at The Saffron Kitchen despite the temptation of trying every possible restaurant in downtown Jersey City. I was in the mood for comfort food and decided to take a stab at Chicken Parmesan. Not sure if it's the most authentic approach, but I gave it a shot. The chicken came out tender and crispy. I highly recommend using panko crumbs rather than traditional bread crumbs.  I was also generous with the cheese and tomato sauce (surprise, surprise).

Chicken Parmesan
Serves two

1 lb of thinly sliced chicken breasts
2 eggs
1/2 cup of panko crumbs
1 cup of tomato sauce (I made Marcella's Tomato Sauce III)
1 cup of ricotta
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
parmesan for finishing
Safflower oil

Prepare your tomato sauce. I made Marcella Hazan's Tomato Sauce III: a can of San Marzano tomatoes, one stick of butter, half of a peeled onion, and a pinch of salt and sugar. Simmer for 45 minutes while you prepare the rest of the meal. It's that easy. 

Heat a skillet with two tablespoons of Safflower oil. While the oil heats gather two bowls. Whisk the two eggs in one bowl and place the panko in the other
Salt and pepper the chicken breasts. Dip the breasts into the whisked egg and then into the panko crumbs.

Once the oil is hot, add the chicken breasts to the skillet and cook five minutes on each side. The panko crumbs create a nice crispy crust on the chicken.
While the chicken is sautéing, pre-heat your oven to 450 degrees.
Once the chicken is sauteed, remove from heat. Spoon some tomato sauce into the bottom of a casserole dish. Add the chicken breasts,  ricotta,  the rest of the tomato sauce. Sprinkle with mozzarella and parsley.
Bake for 25 minutes. Add a bit more parsley and sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese. Serve with a Caesar salad (I also made Julia Child's Mushrooms with Butter), and a baguette. Tada!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Restaurant Review: A Return to Thirty Acres

Naturally, I am having a ball trying all sorts of new restaurants in Jersey City. Funny enough, one of my favorites is a spot I reviewed in 2012 called Thirty Acres, run by husband and wife team Kevin and Alex Pemoulie.

On a recent cozy Friday night, Will and I scored a romantic street-side window table.
We started with the broccoli, which was tossed with aged sherry, wakame, golden raisins, and served over a dollop of chicken liver pate. It's really genius. Plus, they're very generous with their bread (bought from their neighbor, Choc O Pain--more on that later).
Our next course was the homemade garganelli; a beef shank ragu, tomato sauce, and stravecchio cheese. This dish is so good; the sauce is sweet, but doesn't over do it. The meat is tender and flavorful, and the stravecchio cheese offers a great tang that balances out the sweetness. 
Our main course was the pork loin served with brussels sprout leaves, apples, and a quince almond sauce. The pork was the perfect shade of pink and was juicy as ever. The almond sauce created a depth of flavor and the apples gave the dish a nice crispness.  It's a fabulous autumn entree.
For dessert we tried the pumpkin cheese cake with homemade nut brittle and marscapone cheese. It was certainly tasty, but didn't blow our minds like the other foods.
The menu is definitely quirky and appears to change daily. I can't wait to try the roasted pears with sea urchin or the whole trout with rye berries. Looking forward to my next visit!

Thirty Acres

500 Jersey Ave, Jersey City, NJ 07302
(201) 435-3100

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Christening The Saffron Kitchen: Butternut Squash Lasagna

So all in all, our move across the Hudson River went fairly smoothly. We moved into a new building called The Saffron, so I'm pleased to present my first home-cooked meal in The Saffron Kitchen. To christen my kitchen, I chose a butternut squash lasagna served with a simple green salad, and a whole wheat baguette from my local bread store.
Butternut Squash Lasagna
Serves four

1 butternut squash
1 cup of ricotta
1/2 cup of shredded mozzarella
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon of ground thyme
1/2 or so package of lasagna noodles (I used six)
olive oil for drizzling
Preheat the oven to 450. Peel the butternut squash, then cut the squash in half.  Scoop out the seeds and slice the squash into half moons. Sprinkle with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast for 10 to 15 minutes on each side.
While the squash is roasting, place a pot of water on the stove top to boil. Once the water is boiling, add in the lasagna noodles. Cook until al dente. 

While you're waiting for the water to bowl, in a medium bowl, mix together the ricotta and eggs to make a filling mixture. Add thyme, salt, and pepper. 
Now you're ready to assemble. Coat a lasagna pan (I used a 9 x 9") with olive oil and add a layer of lasagna noodles. Then add the squash, a layer of the filling, and mozzerella. Create as many layers as desired.

Bake at 450 degrees for 20 minutes. Serve with greens and some toasty bread.