Kabocha Shooters, Candied Pepitas

Kabocha Shooters, Candied Pepitas

Kabocha Shooters
Candied Pepitas, Creme Fraiche, Pink Peppercorns

Is it a drink? Is it a soup? Is it an amuse bouche? Yes. Yes. Yes. Complex in flavor and compact in presentation – these kabocha shooters are excellent for Fall entertaining. Kabocha, a winter squash also known as Japanese pumpkin, has a delectable taste with beautiful flesh the color of turning Autumn leaves.

The soup’s sweet profile includes nutmeg, cardamom, vanilla, and brown sugar while the savory side contains caramelized onion, garlic, ginger, and dry sherry. The roasted squash is blended with the various ingredients and a touch of cream. All this flavor is packed into a little shot glass where a rich cultured cream floats atop and a sticky-candied-crunchy pumpkin seed garnish is perched on the side.

Kabocha Shooters, Candied Pepitas

Kabocha Shooters Recipe

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Octopus Tacos with Bacon

Octopus Tacos with Bacon

Octopus Tacos with Bacon
Tacos de Pulpo con Tocino

Tacos are great. Octopus tacos are amazing. Octopus tacos with bacon are over-the-top!

Braised octopus’ mild flavor is enhanced by bright lime juice and roasted tomato salsa. Its lean, chewy, tender texture is balanced by crispy, salty, smoky bacon. When paired with crunchy purple cabbage, spicy red jalapeño, herbaceous cilantro, and pungent onion all nestled in charred corn tortillas we end up with some extraordinarily tantalizing tacos. Ones that are bursting with a wild range of flavors, colors, and textures.

Octopus Tacos with Bacon Recipe

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How to Cook Tender Octopus

How to Cook Tender Octopus and Octopus PastaHow to Cook Tender Octopus
and
Octopus Pasta

Seriously, there are so many crazy ways to cook tender octopus… from beating it on a rock to slamming it against the side of your sink (ten times no less) to boiling it with wine corks. Or you can massage the cephalopod vigorously with lots of salt until it froths then plunge him into a copper pot full of boiling water. Or you can roast him in a 200°F oven for five (!) hours. Or try my simple fool-proof method below, cooking time five (!) minutes.

How to Cook Tender Octopus

The cooking method actually depends on the type of product with which you start. Here I begin with one pound of Frozen Cooked Spanish Octopus Tentacles (Pulpo Cocido) which is readily available and easy to prepare. This product can be found in the frozen seafood section of Whole Foods Market. Surprisingly, unlike other seafood, octopus’ texture might even benefit from the freezing process so fresh octopus in not considered to be superior.

The octopus is from the Eastern Central Atlantic Ocean, a product of Spain. It has already been cleaned; tentacles have been separated from the head. It was cooked with salt and bay leaves, then frozen. Keep it frozen until the day before use, then thaw overnight in the refrigerator.

Place thawed tentacles in a pot and cover with fresh water. Bring the water to a boil then turn down immediately to a low simmer. Simmer for 5 minutes. Remove the tentacles from the pot and let cool slightly on a platter so they can be sliced.

Octopus Pasta

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Tamal de Cazuela

Tamal de Cazuela

Tamal de Cazuela

Don’t make it because it’s easier, make it because it’s great! Tamal de cazuela is a “tamale casserole” with all the fabulous flavors of our favorite Mexican tamales baked in a cast iron dish.

Labor-intensive traditional tamales are steamed individually in corn husks or banana leaves, resulting in a fluffy masa. Here, the masa is simply spread in a pan, filled with a meaty mixture, capped with more masa, then baked. It has a denser texture more like a sope, the process makes a terrific pie crust.

I often use leftover meat for my tamales. Have you tried my Hanukkah Tamales made from frozen brisket? This pie is made with my leftover braised short ribs (recipe here). For the filling, you can use any shredded meat (beef, pork, chicken) or even vegetables and beans to make a delicioso tamal de cazuela!

Tamal de CazuelaOnce the tamal de cazuela is baked, let it cool slightly then slice into wedges. Serve the pie slices on plates and let guests garnish with lots of toppings of their choice:

  • salsa roja
  • salsa verde
  • shredded cabbage
  • cotija cheese
  • sliced jalapeños
  • lime wedges
  • cilantro
  • crema Mexicana
  • guacamole
Tamal de Cazuela Recipe

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Alaskan Halibut, Japanese Flavors

Alaskan Halibut, Japanese Flavors

Panko Crusted Halibut over Baby Bok Choy in a Miso Broth
Togarashi and Mitsuba Garnish

Summer is the time to enjoy fresh halibut from Alaska. This pristine lean fish with mild, sweet white flesh, large flakes and a firm but tender texture naturally pairs well with Japanese ingredients; miso, tamari, mirin, and toasted sesame. Harmoniously balanced, this dish is a stellar warm weather meal.

Mitsuba, a Japanese herb with a fresh, wild, sweet flavor adds the herbaceous notes. Taberu Togarashi Furikake can be found in Japanese markets. A tasty mixture of black sesame, red pepper, salt, white sesame, dried bonito, kelp, powdered plum, powdered red perilla – it enlivens the whole dish. Serve with fluffy white rice on the side if desired.

Alaskan Halibut, Japanese Flavors Recipe

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How To Make Spaghetti alla Chitarra

How To Make Spaghetti alla Chitarra

How To Make Spaghetti alla Chitarra

The chitarra, pictured above is an implement that has been used for ages to make fresh noodles in the Abruzzo region of Italy. It has a wooden frame that is strung with several taut parallel wires, reminiscent of a guitar, hence the name “chitarra” which is “guitar” in English.

A long rectangle of pasta dough is pushed through the wires with a rolling-pin to make noodles. Although the instrument is old, my method is not. Below I show how to make Spaghetti alla Chitarra with a food processor to form the dough. Old World meets New World and fresh pasta noodles couldn’t be easier, or more fun!

Spaghetti alla Chitarra Recipe

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