Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Hearty Butternut Squash & Beef Stew

By: Theresa Greco

We planted a bunch of butternut squash in our summer garden this year. Although I wasn't expected much of a crop, since it was our first time, I was excited at the prospects. Not being a vegetable I routinely cooked at home I was on a mission to find the best recipe. The one below, which was adapted from Closet Cooking, seemed like a good place to start.

The delicate yet earthy flavor of butternut squash is reminiscent of fall as is the hearty, warming feeling of beef stew. It's only logical then to combine the two into a big bowl of fall comfort. This one recipe alone will make me plant butternut squash again next year!

Hearty Butternut Squash & Beef Stew
2 ounces pancetta, small dice
1 pound beef, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, minced
1 cup Italian red wine
3 cups beef bone broth
balsamic vinegar, splash
1 (28 ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, crushed by hand
Parmesan rind
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 pound butternut squash, cut into 1 inch cubes

In a large pan over medium heat, cook the pancetta until browned and crisped about 5 minutes. Add the beef cubes and brown on all sides. Remove the beef & pancetta from the pan and set aside.

Add the onion and saute until translucent, about 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic, red pepper flakes and thyme cooking until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes.

Use the wine to deglaze the pan. Add the beef and pancetta back in, along with the broth, balsamic vinegar, hand crushed tomatoes, Parmesan rind, and oregano. Bring this to a boil.

Reduce the heat, cover and simmer until the beef is fork tender, approximately1-2 hours. Add the butternut squash and simmer until tender, about 15-20 minutes. Season with salt to taste.

Serve in bowls topped with additional Parmesan.

Friday, October 21, 2016

A Farm-To-Table Experience With Life Italian Style Tours

By: The Food Hunter

Week one of our recent Italian cooking trip was spent exploring the quaint hill-towns of Umbria. We traveled from town to town exploring the architecture, history and of course the food.

One of our excursions included an interactive farm-to-table tour with Jennifer McIIvane owner of Life Italian Style Tours. Jennifer, like myself, is a Philadelphia native living in Umbria. She not only hosts a variety of food tours throughout the region, she is also a private chef.

Our farm-to-table tour started at a stone flour mill/wood fired bakery where we learned about the milling process and got to taste plates of freshly baked cookies.

Did you know that Umbria's most popular bread is unsalted? This is due to a tax placed on salt by the Pope back in the 1500's.

Next we headed to Societa Argricola Fratelli Angelucci, a working farm in the town of Cannara, where we learned how to make cheese and fresh pasta with Nonna Rita.

Participation in the process is entirely voluntary, and of course yours truly put herself forward to roll out some fresh pasta dough.

After some time in the kitchen with Nonna Rita our group gathered at a beautifully set table to enjoy a homemade 11 course lunch.

Hours passed as we ate our way through never ending plates of homemade pasta,

and platters of meats, among other things. It was a delicious and enjoyable day.

If you find yourself in the Perugia region and want to immerse yourself in the traditions of Umbrian food and life I would highly recommend Jennifer's farm-to-table tour.

This experience was provided complimentary, all opinions are my own.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

House of Tricks; A Restaurant Gem In Downtown Tempe!

By: The Food Hunter

As a food writer I get to attend a lot of delicious events and meet a lot of interesting people. Last week several media professionals and myself were invited to dinner with long standing Tempe restaurateur Robin Trick & House of Tricks Chef Andrea Bales.

Located in a charming remolded 1920's cottage, within walking distance to downtown Temple, House of Tricks serves a seasonally inspired menu featuring locally sourced items. Guests can enjoy a romantic dinner inside the vintage house or dine alfresco at a candlelit table for two underneath a canopy of trees.

Our evening started with an antipasto board showcasing sausage from Schreiner's, Crows Dairy goat cheese, bread from Noble bakery and olives from Queen Creek Olive Mill.

Robin shared with us stories of the restaurant's beginning, as we dined on contemporary dishes created by Chef Bales. My favorite of the evening was the delicious handmade pasta filled with local goat cheese that was dressed in an arugula pesto and served alongside a Kuri squash puree.

The almond crusted rack of lamb with fava bean cakes and mint cilantro chimichurri was well received by our group.

As was the brick roasted game hen served with wilted Tuscan kale and a wild mushroom pilaf.

We ended our dining experience with a fabulous salted caramel apple bread pudding served with house-made cinnamon whipped cream.

The impeccable quality of the food and the quaint atmosphere of this gem of a restaurant, in my opinion, is what separates House of Tricks from other dining options in the area and keeps locals coming back again and again.

House Of Tricks
114 East 7th Street
Tempe, AZ 85281
480 968-1114 Phone
480 968-0080 Fax

This experience was provided complimentary, all opinions are my own.  

Monday, October 17, 2016

Greek Yogurt & Coconut Sugar Fruit Dip

By: The Food Hunter

When I'm craving something sweet I prefer to eat healthy and homemade, as I'm sure you already know, rather than processed. A fruit dip made of wholesome Greek yogurt and Bob's Red Mill coconut sugar fits the bill.

Coconut sugar is an all-natural alternative to refined sugar that imparts a slight caramel flavor into whatever it is mixed with. Believe it or not it doesn't taste like coconut at all. I've used it in baked goods and no-one was the wiser.

Paired with your favorite fruit this healthy dip is easy to whip up at the spur- of-the-moment and will quickly satisfy your sweet craving.

Greek Yogurt & Coconut Sugar Fruit Dip
8 ounces Stonyfield Greek yogurt
1-2 teaspoons Bob's Red Mill coconut sugar
strawberries, or your favorite fruit
Mix together the yogurt and coconut sugar. Serve with fresh fruit for dipping.

I have an ongoing relationship with Stonyfield as a member of the Clean Plate Club. I receive product, coupons and compensation for posts featuring their products. As always, all opinions are 100% my own

Friday, October 14, 2016

Flourless Chocolate Walnut Rum Cake

By: The Food Hunter

If you love chocolate as much as I do you will want to make this decadent flourless dark chocolate cake. Enhanced with toasted walnuts and a hint of rum this rich cake is guaranteed to satisfy all your chocolate cravings.

Special thanks to Imperial Sugar for sponsoring this post and to The PinterTest Kitchen for all their hard work putting #choctoberfest2016 together. 

Flourless Chocolate Walnut Rum Cake
1 cup walnuts, toasted
2 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-processed cocoa powder
6 ounces dark chocolate
1 ½ sticks unsalted butter
6 large egg yolks
¾ cup packed light brown sugar
1-2 tablespoon dark rum
½ teaspoon salt
3 large egg whites
1 tablespoon plus sugar

Preheat the oven to 350°F and position a rack in the center. Lightly grease a 9-inch springform pan.

Place the walnuts in a food processor with the cocoa powder and pulse until the nuts are finely ground.

Melt the chocolate and butter together in a double broiler until melted. Allow to cool. In an mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the egg yolks with the brown sugar on medium speed until very thick and pale in color, about 3 minutes. Add the rum and the ½ teaspoon salt. Fold the egg mixture into the cooled chocolate mixture. Immediately fold in the walnuts and cocoa.

Place the egg whites and a pinch of salt in a cleaned bowl and, using the whisk attachment of your mixer, beat on medium speed until the whites are thick, about 2 minutes. Continue beating while you gradually add the sugar, then switch to high speed, beating the whites until they form soft peaks, about 1 minute.

Fold the whites into the batter, then pour the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the surface with a spatula. Bake the cake for 40 minutes, rotating halfway through. Allow the cake to cool in the pan for 20 minutes, then remove the sides of the pan and cool the cake completely; the center may sink a bit.

Carefully remove the bottom of the springform pan and transfer the cake to a serving plate. Dust with powdered sugar.