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Squash on Toast

Portland – with its very rainy reputation – surprised me this weekend with lovely, mostly sunny weather which just begged to be take advantage of.  So there were long walks, workouts, dinners out, and brunch at Sweedeedee with some absolutely fabulous salted honey pie (seriously, I’m already researching recipes so I can recreate it in my kitchen).  But with warm sun to soak up, I decided to forgo a big baking project this weekend and instead go for a quick and cozy savory meal.  This recipe comes from Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s ABC Kitchen, via New York Times Cooking, via Smitten Kitchen.  It combines several flavors of fall – sweet squash with hints of maple and apple.  It also comes together in well under an hour.  I was particularly lazy and bought 2 pounds of pre-cut butternut squash chunks – not having to cut up a squash makes preparation a whole lot faster.


I was able to lighten the dish up quite a bit, mainly by cutting back on the olive oil.  I don’t think the oil was missed at all; the onions – caramelized with maple syrup and apple cider vinegar – add heaps of flavor.  Overall, it was a pleasant treat with perfectly melded flavors.  Don’t skip the fresh mint, it provides a refreshing finishing touch that makes this dish extra special.


Squash on Toast

Adapted from Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s ABC Kitchen, via NYTimes Cooking

Makes 4 main servings, or 8 appetizer servings

Total time: 45 minutes


1 2.5 to 3-pound kabocha or other yellow-fleshed squash (such as delicata, acorn or butternut; I used butternut)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon dried chile flakes, more or less to taste
Coarse sea or kosher salt
1 yellow onion, peeled and thinly sliced
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoon maple syrup
4 slices country bread, 1-inch thick
1/2 cup (4 ounces) ricotta, goat cheese, feta or mascarpone (I used part-skim ricotta)
4 tablespoons chopped mint leaves

1.  Preheat oven to 450F.  Line large baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper.  Cut squash into 1/4-inch thick slices.  Toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 to 2 teaspoons salt and chile flakes until evenly coated.  Transfer mixture to prepared sheet and roast until tender and slightly colored, anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes (depending on the density of the squash you use), flipping once about 2/3 of the way through.   With my butternut squash, I roasted for 30 minutes.  Leave the roasted squash on the tray.

2.  While squash is roasting, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the onions and 1 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring frequently, until onions are softened and beginning to brown, about 10 to 15 minutes.  Add vinegar and syrup and reduce heat to medium; cook, stirring frequently, until onions are jammy and broken down, another 10 to 15 minutes.

3.  Pile onions on top of roasted squash, still on their baking sheet. Use a fork to gently half-mash the mixture; it doesn’t have to be uniformly combined. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed.

4.  Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil per slice of bread, and cook bread until just golden brown on both sides. Drain on paper towels.  Tip: I just used a toaster and skipped the oil all together.  Spread cheese on toasts, heap with the squash-onion mixture, sprinkle with coarse salt and garnish with mint.

Blue Cheese and Chive Gougères (or, Pâte à Chew makes Pâte à Choux )

Hello again!  I’d say it’s been far too long since my last post, but that would be an understatement.  Sometimes life gets in the way, but I’m back in the kitchen and excited to be blogging again.

There have been a few big changes in my life since I last posted.  The biggest change?  I left Manhattan after a wild and wonderful 5 year adventure.  And where did I go?  Portland, Oregon!  Portland is a fun and weird (in a good way … mostly) town that’s been slowly growing on me since I got here a year ago.  And above all else, it’s a foodie town.  The restaurant scene is arguably the best in the country.  The produce is both fantastic and local.  It’s a food blogger’s paradise.

And of course, I’m back with a recipe as well.

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Since the name of my blog is a play on pâte à choux, it’s about time I actually made pâte à choux.  Choux is a French pastry dough used as the base for many sweet and savory goodies, like profiteroles, cream puffs, eclairs, etc.  Yet for such a fancy pastry, it is incredibly simple with only four basic ingredients: butter, water, flour, and eggs.  It also is quick to make – the dough came together in about 15 minutes and used nothing more than a pan and wooden spoon.

For this occasion, I decided to go savory rather than sweet, and make some of the best darn cheese puffs you’ll ever encounter.  Gougères (pronounced goo/zheres) are just a really great puffy cheese ball.  It can be made with a variety of different cheeses, but I decided to go with a blue cheese and chive combination from the National Baking Society blog.  Gougères are a lovely snack to serve at a party, and are best eaten within a few hours of making them.


Blue Cheese and Chive Gougères

Adapted from the National Baking Society

Makes approximately 24 puffs

Total time: 45 minutes

1/2 cup water
Splash of Brandy (optional)
1/4 cup (1/2 stick ) unsalted butter, cubed
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup all purpose flour
3 room temperature large eggs (make sure they are room temperature!)
1/2 cup crumbled Danish blue cheese, or other crumbly blue cheese
3 Tablespoons chopped chives

1.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat.  Ready a pastry bag or a ziplock back cut with a fairly large hole at the corner

2.  Combine the first five ingredients in a medium sized saucepan, and bring to a boil over medium heat while stirring.  As soon as it begins to boil, stir in the flour and reduce the heat to medium-low.  Stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until the dough forms into large clumps and pulls away from the sides of the pan, and a film forms along the bottom of the pan (see second picture above).  Remove the pan from the heat and cool for 5 minutes.

3.  Begin by adding one egg to the dough and stir vigorously to incorporate.  Do the same with the next egg.  The dough will be a little more flexible at this point, and you most likely will only need to add half of the final egg to make the dough a little softer.  Ultimately, we don’t want the dough to be too runny.  Lightly beat the third egg in a bowl, and add just a tablespoon worth.  I ended up needing to add a little more than two tablespoons worth.  Once the eggs are incorporate, mix in the cheese and chives.  Transfer the now-sticky dough to the pastry or ziplock bag.  Pipe walnut sized rounds onto the prepared baking sheet pan.  Lightly brush the tops with the reserved beaten egg.

Bake for about 30 minutes or until the gougères are golden brown, dry and puffy.  Test to see if they’re done by poking a hole in one – the inside should be hollow and dry.  This took me exactly 30 minutes.  Enjoy while they are still warm – they are best within a few hours of baking!

Lentil Soup with Sausage, Chard and Pecornio

Pâte à Chew lives!  Sorry, I’ve been terribly busy with life lately, and haven’t been cooking much (or at all).  But I made time this past holiday weekend to make a quick and hearty soup to keep us warm during this cold northeast winter.

I love lentil soup.  It’s healthy, it’s easy to make, it comes together fast.  And it can be changed into a unique soup each time you make it by the addition of a few new ingredients.  For example, I make it a French lentil soup by adding fresh thyme and a drizzle of sweet balsamic vinegar to finish.  This time, the few new ingredients were Italian sausage and some gorgeous rainbow-colored Swiss chard.

Lentil Soup with Sausage, Chard and Pecornio

The addition of meat and Swiss chard make this a heartier, comforting meal.  I personally loved it, and will be making it again soon. And of course, the soup can easily be adjusted to your taste.  Use turkey sausage to lower the fat content.  Leave out the sausage to make this vegetarian.  Leave out the cheese as well to make this vegan.  The possibilities are endless!

Lentil Soup with Sausage, Chard and Pecornio

One year ago: Chicken with Apples, Rosemary, and Blue Cheese, Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili, Hazelnut Linzer Cookies, and Salmon with Lentils
Two years ago: Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup, Pasta e Ceci, Homemade Oreo Cookies, and Lasagna + Garlic Bread

Lentil Soup

Adapted from Secrets of the Best Chefs, where it was provided by Gina DePalma, via smitten kitchen

Serves 6


1/2 cup olive oil, divided
4 large links of sweet Italian sausage, casings removed (use half of this if you prefer that the sausage not dominate the soup’s flavor)
1 medium onion, diced
2 celery stalks, sliced or diced
2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced into half-moons or diced
4 cloves garlic, sliced (reserve half for later in recipe)
Kosher salt
A pinch of crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
1 cup brown lentils, sorted and rinsed
2 bay leaves
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
6 cups water
Freshly ground black pepper
3 to 4 cups shredded or thinly ribboned Swiss chard leaves or kale
Grated Pecorino Romano cheese to finish

1.  Heat 1/4 cup olive oil (or enough to coat bottom of pot) in a large pot on medium heat. When hot, add the sausage, breaking it up with a wooden spoon until it starts to brown, about five minutes.  Next, add the onion, celery, carrots, first two garlic cloves, a pinch of salt, and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Cook with the sausage until the vegetables soften a bit, another 5 minutes. Add the lentils, bay leaves, tomatoes, water (6 cups is 2 empty 28-ounce cans), more salt and black pepper to taste.  Bring to a simmer and allow to cook until the lentils are tender, about 30-40 minutes.  It might be necessary to add more water if the soup gets too thick.

2.  When the lentils are cooked, add the chard and cook until the leaves are tender, just a few minutes more. Discard the bay leaves.

3.  To finish, add the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil and 2 garlic cloves to a small skillet and heat over medium until the garlic softens and hisses. Divide soup into bowls, then drizzle each with a little garlic oil, and top with fresh Pecorino, passing more at the table. Leftovers will keep for several days in the fridge.

Traditional, Darn-Good Carrot Cake

For someone who bakes as much as I do, it is impossible to choose an all-time favorite dessert.  It depends on the season, it depends on my mood, it depends on my stress level, and so on.  But as far as cakes go, I do have an all-time favorite: carrot cake.

I will pick it over all cakes when ordering at a bakery or a restaurant.  If I ever get married, I’ve already decided that my wedding cake will be carrot cake.  If you consider I’ve already make Brown Sugar Carrot Bread and Carrot Fig Muffins, I suppose it’s not a surprise.  But what is surprising is that I have never made my own carrot cake – until now.  Another carrot cake lover at work just had a birthday, and that gave me the perfect excuse to make a carrot cake for the first time.

Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe

Also not surprising is that for my first carrot cake, I used Gesine Bullock Prado’s recipe, which turned out beautifully.  It’s a basic recipe but a truly great one.  Feel free to add chopped walnuts to the batter, or press walnuts to the sides of the cake after icing it with the billowy, rich cream cheese frosting.  Just don’t add raisins; in my opinion, raisins only ruin an otherwise-perfect carrot cake.

I’m sorry – I know it’s only January, and I’m encouraging you to toss out your pesky “this year is the year I’m going to get healthy and lose weight!” resolutions.  But if you limit yourself to one small slice, you’ll be fine.

But good luck with that.

Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe

One year ago: Black Beans and Rice with Chicken and Apple Salsa and Minestrone and Meatball Soup
Two years ago: Hot Chocolate, Cuban Black Beans, and Moussaka

Carrot Cake

Recipe by Gesine Bullock-Prado, recipe can be found on her blog and in her fun, charming book My Life From Scratch: A Sweet Journey of Starting Over, One Cake at a Time

Makes one 8 or 9 inch cake


1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
3 cups finely grated, peeled carrots (about 1 pound)

4 cups (2 boxes) confectioner’s sugar
2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla bean extract

1. Preheat oven to 325º. Lightly grease (or use a baking nonstick spray) 2 8- or 9-inch round cake pans, line the bottoms with parchment, and grease the parchment. Sift together dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg) in a bowl and set aside.

2. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat together oil and sugar until well-combined. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. With the mixer set on low, slowly add the dry ingredients to the sugar, oil and egg mixture, mixing until just combined (do not overmix!). Fold in grated carrots.

3. Pour the batter into prepared pans. Bake until the tops are golden brown and the cake springs back when you poke it, around 45 minutes. Check after 40 minutes.

Cool cakes in their pans for 15 minutes on a cooling rack, then remove cakes and cool on cooling rack until completely cooled.

For the frosting:

In a standing mixer with whisk attachment, beat all the ingredients together until smooth and creamy, for several minutes.  You want to make sure you don’t have any lumps in the frosting from the confectioner’s sugar; if you see lumps, just keep on beating for several minutes, they will break up eventually. Refrigerate the frosting at least 30 minutes to stiffen the frosting a bit.

Once cake has cooled completely (this is important!), frost generously at will, and decorate to your heart’s content.

Grilled Flank Steak with Rosemary and Simple Sautéed Brussels Sprouts

Happy New Year!  We may be 15 days into 2013, but better late than never, right?  I started 2013 off with moving into a new apartment and attempting to settle into a new – and much smaller – kitchen.  A lot of my baking and cooking pans are in piles in my living room or stacked on my book shelves.  I just have so much stuff, and it’s stuff I just can’t bear to part with.  It’s all still a work in progress, but it’s slowly getting better.  If anyone out there wants to help me install a hanging pot rack, please let me know.

The first post of 2013 is dedicated to all the meat-lovers out there.  My last six (!) posts were all baking all, all the time.  I unsurprisingly got no complaints, but I do occasionally like cook.  Lately all I’ve had the patience for while working in a half-unpacked kitchen is simple meals, and this one was a hit.  I like steak.  I like Brussels sprouts.  I put them together with some rosemary and garlic.  Done.

As you can see from the pictures, I overcooked my steak a bit.  It was still delicious, but try not to cook it more than medium!

Grilled Flank Steak with Rosemary and Simple Sauteed Brussels Sprouts

One year ago: White Chocolate and Sour Cherry Scones, Nutella Oatmeal Cream Pies, and Greek New Year’s Cake (Vassilopita)
Two years ago: Banana Espresso Chocolate Chip Muffins, Black-eyed Peas with Garlicky Black Pepper Shrimp, and Six Days in Rome: a Food Retrospective

Grilled Flank Steak with Rosemary and Simple Sautéed Brussels Sprouts

Recipe by Pâte à Chew

Makes 6 servings


1/3 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons honey
6 large garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
1 1/2 tablespoons black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt
1 2-pound flank steak

Brussels Sprouts
1 pound Brussels Sprouts, rinsed and cut in half length-wise
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and pepper to taste

1.  For the steak: mix all ingredients except steak in 13 x 9 x 2-inch glass baking dish, then add steak and turn to coat. Cover and refrigerate 2 hours, turning occasionally.

2.  Prepare grill (medium-high heat) or preheat your broiler. Remove meat from marinade; discard marinade. Grill steak to desired doneness, about 4 minutes per side for medium-rare.

3.  For the Brussels sprouts: While your steak is cooking, heat 1/4 olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet.  Add Brussels sprouts, salt, pepper, and garlic, and sauté until tender, stirring occasionally to ensure the vegetables aren’t charring on the bottom.

Transfer steak to cutting board, and let stand 5 minutes to allow the meat to rest. Slice across grain into thin strips.


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