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Butternut Squash Risotto


Butternut Squash Risotto - Meatballs&Milkshakes

This was an incredibly easy weeknight dinner after a week of long and involved meals. You can also potentially use up holiday leftovers, since I pre-roasted the squash the day before and added the mashed squash right at the end. It still has all the holiday flavors, but it’s great all winter long.

Butternut Squash Risotto

1/2 butternut squash

2 cups arborio rice

zest and juice of 1 orange

3 tablespoons fresh thyme

1/2 cup white wine

2 cups chicken stock, homemade or store-bought, warmed in the microwave or on the stove (you could substitute vegetable stock to make it vegetarian)

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 garlic clove, minced

1 shallot, minced

1 cup grated parmesan

Roast the squash in the oven at 350 degrees for 45 minutes on a baking sheet with some of the olive oil brushed over it. It will become soft and you can scoop out the flesh. Mash up the squash well.

Meanwhile, saute the shallot and garlic in the remaining olive oil. Once they have softened, add the rice and allow to toast for a minute until they start to look a little translucent. Add the white wine and allow to cook down. Add the thyme and a little chicken stock. Continue to add stock slowly as it cooks away. It should have enough liquid to just cover, about the consistency of oatmeal.

When the rice is almost al dente, add the orange juice and zest along with the mashed squash. Stir to combine and allow to cook together for the last few minutes. Off the heat, stir in the parmesan and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and serve.

Butternut Squash Risotto - Meatballs&Milkshakes

Hazelnut Macarons


Hazelnut Macarons - Meatballs&Milkshakes

Macarons have become so trendy that you see them in every bakery, specialty food store, and blog post. They are the new cupcake, and with good reason. They are a perfect French cookie, light and rich at the same time with so many flavor choices. My only objection is the price per cookie at all these places. You can make them at home so easily, I urge you to try it once. I love the macarons at Miette in San Francisco, and the recipe is in their cookbook.

Macarons

1 cup almonds

1/2 cup hazelnuts

3 egg whites, room temperature

2 1/4 cups powdered sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar

Filling

Grind the nuts by pulsing in a food processor or spice grinder with the powdered sugar until they have reached a fine sand consistency, but not so long that they start getting paste-like. Remove to a bowl.

Whip the egg whites with the cream of tartar until they reach stiff peaks. Fold the dry ingredients in thirds into the egg whites with a spatula.

Pipe onto parchment lined baking sheets in 1 inch circles spaced about 1 1/2 inches apart. Let the sit at room temperature for 2 hours to develop the shell. Bake at 325 degrees for 10 minutes, until set. Allow to cool on the baking sheets completely.

Vanilla Buttercream Filling

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup water

1 3/4 sticks butter, room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla

4 egg yolks

In a saucepan, combine the sugar and water and heat to 238 degrees. Meanwhile, beat the egg yolks until they are light and fluffy. Add the sugar syrup a couple tablespoons at a time until it is all incorporated. Allow to cool while continuing to whip. Once the combination has reached room temperature, add the vanilla and the butter in pieces.

Raspberry Buttercream

Add 1/4 cup raspberry jam to half the recipe of vanilla buttercream above. You can use more and strain out the seeds if you wish. Just add a little water and strain. If it’s too runny, you can cook it down.

Hazelnut Macarons - Meatballs&Milkshakes

To Make Chocolate Macarons

Add 1/2 cup cocoa with the sugar and leave out the cream of tartar. Use chocolate buttercream.

Hazelnut Macarons - Meatballs&Milkshakes

Chocolate Peppermint Cookies


Chocolate Peppermint Cookies - Meatballs&Milkshakes

These crunchy chocolate mint cookies are a riff on Thin Mints, and I suppose if you dipped them in chocolate instead of drizzling, they would be exactly alike. I’ve always been a big fan of Thin Mints, and I will definitely be making these again. They’re a great addition to your holiday cookies, but they’ll be good all year long as well.

Chocolate Peppermint Cookies

1 1/2 cups flour

3/4 cups unsweetened cocoa

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 sticks butter

3/4 teaspoon peppermint extract

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup sugar

1 egg

6 ounces dark chocolate

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon cream

Combine the flour, salt, and cocoa in a bowl. Beat the eggs and sugar together in a mixer until light and fluffy. Add the extracts. Add the egg and beat until combined. Add the dry ingredients in two halves, and beat until just combined.

Remove to two pieces of plastic wrap, and create 2 inch logs out of the two halves of dough. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to a couple days.

Slice the logs into 1/4 inch slices and adjust into rounds. Place and inch apart on parchment or silpats on cookie sheets and bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes. Let cool on the cookie sheets.

Melt the chocolate, butter, and cream together until smooth. Drizzle over the cooled cookies and allow to harden by placing cookie sheets in the refrigerator.

Chocolate Peppermint Cookies - Meatballs&Milkshakes


Baccala alla Vicentina - Meatballs&Milkshakes

This year’s Feast of the Seven Fishes is probably going to be reduced by a couple courses to maybe 5 or even just 3. The important part of the Feast is that it’s an odd number of courses. The most traditional of my courses is the baccala alla vicentina, which is one of my favorites. After a long soak in water, the rock-hard dried cod is magically transformed back into fish and then gets cooked with potatoes and blended into an amazing spread. It’s not pretty while it’s cooking and the whole process is pretty smelly, but it turns into an amazing dish.

Bay Scallop Crudo with Tangerine - Meatballs&Milkshakes

Next up, bay scallop crudo with tangerine and sea salt and a bowl of shrimp bisque. The sweet bay scallops are slurped down with a tangerine juice reduction and some fruity extra virgin olive oil with a sprinkle of sea salt over the top. The bisque gets it’s flavor from sherry or marsala and if possible, homemade shrimp or seafood stock.

Spicy Crab Pasta - Meatballs&Milkshakes

I will most likely round out my Feast of the Seven (or Five) Fishes with some baked clams and a spicy crab pasta that has become a favorite. I’m hoping to get some really delicious dungeness or some other special crab to really take this one over the top for the holidays. Maybe I’ll even experiment with some lobster. Happy holidays!

For more Feast of the Seven Fishes ideas, check out last year’s menu.

And just to let you know, I’ve started a new Facebook page for Meatballs&Milkshakes, so you can follow the blog there! “Like” Meatballs&Milkshakes to keep up to date with recipes in your feed!

Bay Scallop Crudo with Tangerine


Bay Scallop Crudo with Tangerine - Meatballs&Milkshakes

These tiny, sweet bay scallops are perfect as a quick bite to start a special meal. I paired them with a small glass of my shrimp bisque in this duo of seafood appetizers, and they were both among my favorites. The scallops have a tangerine juice reduction drizzled over the top, along with some wonderful extra virgin olive oil and some flakes of sea salt to create a rich, sweet and citrusy bite that still tastes of the sea (in a good way).

When you eat raw shellfish, I recommend only getting it from the most reputable source and checking to make sure they don’t smell overly fishy. They should have a firm texture to the touch, as well.

Bay Scallop Crudo with Tangerine

1/2 pound bay scallops, rinsed (this is roughly enough for 4 people, depending on how many you will serve)

1 cup tangerine juice

3 tablespoons high quality extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon flaked sea salt

pinch of chili flakes (optional)

Reduce the tangerine juice to about half by simmering in a saucepan. It should become slightly thick and viscous. Once it has cooled, pour over the scallops along with the olive oil. Toss gently to coat and serve with a sprinkle of the flaked sea salt (and chili flakes, if using) over the top. I recommend tasting one to make sure you like the balance, as well.

Bay Scallop Crudo with Tangerine - Meatballs&Milkshakes

Chewy Ginger Cookies


Chewy Ginger Cookies - Meatballs&Milkshakes

These chewy ginger cookies are really gingery from three kinds of ginger, and you can make them crispy if you bake them longer. They are also apparently great with peanut butter slathered between to make a cookie sandwich. It’s not the holidays until we have some spice cookies around the house.

Chewy Ginger Cookies

2 1/4 cups flour

1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon cardamom

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 cup dark brown sugar

1/2 cup vegetable shortening

1 stick butter

1 egg

1/2 cup molasses

2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup finely chopped crystalized ginger or chocolate covered crystalized ginger

1/2 cup raw sugar

Whisk together flour, spices, baking soda, and salt. In a bowl of a mixer, whip together the butter, shortening, and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Reduce speed and add egg, molasses, vanilla, and grated ginger. Add flour mixture slowly, and beat until just combined. With the mixer off, stir in the crystalized ginger.

Roll into 1-1 1/2 inch balls and place on parchment covered baking sheets about 1 inch apart. Flatten a little and sprinkle the top with raw sugar. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes until they start to crisp on the edges but are still soft in the center.

Chewy Ginger Cookies - Meatballs&Milkshakes


Crispy Orange- Scented Brussels Sprouts - Meatballs&Milkshakes

I created this recipe one night this week when we had only a few minutes to cook dinner but wanted some green veggies to go with some braised chicken. The lovely crispy leaves add texture and the orange zest gives it a light, citrusy aroma. It’s going to become a holiday favorite, and you can make it tonight in 20 minutes.

Crispy Orange-Scented Brussels Sprouts

1 package brussel sprouts, bottoms sliced off and mangy leaves removed

3 tablespoons olive oil

Zest of 1 orange

Slice the brussels sprouts in 1/4 inch slices, so that you have very thin slices and strips of sprouts. Some will fall apart, and that’s fine. Toss with olive oil and salt and pepper. Roast on a baking sheet at 400 degrees for 15 minutes, or until the edges of some of the leaves start to brown. Sprinkle the zest on top and stir through before serving.

Crispy Orange-Scented Brussels Sprouts - Meatballs&Milkshakes

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