Thursday, November 20, 2014

Light Stunt: Butternut Squash and Apple Soup

Butternut Squash and Apple Soup

Am I being baptized by fire?

As you're well aware, I moved from California over this past summer. I grew up there and didn't realize how spoiled I was as a California resident from the standpoint of weather. Alas, as I sit here looking at my desktop monitor, I'm experiencing my first cold snap as a Washington resident. Overnight lows have dipped into the low 30s (that's one side or another of 0° Celsius) and it only warms to the mid 40s during the day. Consequently, I was in the mood for something warm and comforting.

The Source

Adapted from page 78 of Michael Chiarello's Casual Cooking by Michael Chiarello with Janet Fletcher.


2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups leek, white and pale green parts only, sliced thin
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
6 cups butternut squash, peeled and cut into a coarse 1-inch dice
3 cups apples, peeled and cut into a coarse 1-inch dice
2 teaspoons toasted spice rub*
6 1/2 cups chicken stock\
Kosher salt
1/4 cup candied walnuts


1. In a large pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Once the butter browns, add the leek and sweat, approximately 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until it becomes fragrant.

2. Raise the heat, then add the squash and apples and sauté until caramelized. Stir in the toasted spice rub, then deglaze with chicken stock. Bring to a simmer and maintain until the squash and apples are tender, approximately 40 minutes.

3. Transfer to a blender, in batches if necessary, and pureé until smooth. Adjust seasoning with salt, if necessary, then transfer into warmed bowls garnished with candied walnuts. Serve immediately.

* The recipe for toasted spice rub can be found on page 24. Combine 1/4 cup whole fennel seeds, 1 tablespoon coriander seed and 1 tablespoon in a small dry skillet over medium heat. Toss frequently to ensure the spices toast evenly. Once the fennel is lightly browned, add in 1/2 tablespoon red pepper flakes and continue to toss, then remove to a plate and set aside to cool. Once cooled, grind in a spice grinder, then combine with 2 tablespoons kosher salt and 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon.


Chef Chiarello's toasted spice rub recipe makes significantly more than what is needed for this dish so I played around with the spice amounts to achieve a balance of flavors instead of making the recipe. I was also surprised that Chef Chiarello notes the walnut garnish as optional. In my opinion, they're an integral part of the dish, providing a contrast in both flavor and texture.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Miso Risotto for a #SundaySupper On The Hunt

Miso Risotto for a #SundaySupper On The Hunt

One difference between where I lived in California and where I live in Washington is the number of ethnic grocery stores. They're more common in the San Francisco Bay Area. I can understand that demand drives their numbers so I had to look to find a supermarket that stocks imported Asian ingredients when I needed them for this dish. How does this fit in with this week's #SundaySupper theme of On The Hunt? Well, the ingredients used may either be sourced through traditional hunting methods, foraged (mushrooms, for example), or hunted down online or at far away ethnic supermarkets. For me, I chose option C because I imagine I'd be just as bad shot as Dick Cheney and didn't know where to begin foraging for other items. I went to a local chain called Uwajimaya for my miso paste and mirin.

Let's discuss the dish. Definitely a fusion concept applying Japanese ingredient substitutions to the Italian risotto method, but would it taste good? I've profiled the risotto method here several times in the past so there's nothing new from an execution standpoint however I was intrigued.

The Challenge

Successfully combine a Japanese flavor profile into an Italian dish.

The Source

I adapted the dish from Foodista


5 to 6 cups water
3 tablespoons white miso paste
2 tablespoons peanut oil
1 shallot, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced (approximately 1-inch piece ginger root, peeled)
1 cup Arborio rice
Green leaves from 2 baby bok choy, julienned
1/2 cup mirin
1 tablespoon soy sauce
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons slivered almonds
2 green onions, sliced thin


1. Combine the water and miso in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a light simmer. Stir to dissolve the miso, then reduce the heat to keep warm.

2. Pour the oil in a skillet and place over medium heat. Once hot, sweat the ginger and shallots in the oil then add the rice to toast. Add the bok choy leaves and stir until wilted. Deglaze the skillet with the mirin, stirring until it evaporates. Add in the miso water, 1/2 cup to 1 cup at a time (eyeball it), stirring continually until each addition has been absorbed before adding another. Keep adding miso water and stir until the rice is al dente. (Start tasting the rice after three or four additions.)

3. Once the rice is cooked, stir in the soy and black pepper. Adjust the seasoning, if necessary, with more salt. Serve in warmed bowls garnished with green onions and almonds.


Before I proceed, let me first thank Stacy of Food Lust People Love and Tara of Noshing with the Nolands for hosting this week's event!

I made a few ingredient substitutions of my own. I substituted soy sauce for tamari, which is similar to soy, but milder and gluten-free. I also increased the amount of water because I know that three-and-a-half cups of water is insufficient to fully cook 1 cup of Arborio rice. I also found baby bok choy were a little more forgiving when julienned and did not need to remove the white stems.

From an execution standpoint, I found that, as the water evaporated during the process of stirring, the miso remained and became difficult to stir which prevented the grains of rice from cooking as evenly as I would have liked. I would recommend it only for those who are experienced with preparing more traditional risotto flavors. I recommend this more traditional preparation of risotto if you want to prepare risotto and have never done so. Ultimately Mrs. Stuntman only ate about half and quipped "Next time, just prepare my favorite. You know, the one with bacon and peas." I must admit, the dish was reminiscent of a poorly prepared fried rice.

For the record, Uwajimaya is about 8 miles away from my front door, but it's about a twenty minute drive without taking freeways, whereas the closest Asian supermarket from my previous residence was about half in distance and travel time. So despite my troubles with it, I am thankful for this dish because it presented the opportunity to explore my neighborhood and become more familiar with it.

Before you go, please review the other more successful #SundaySupper dishes that also feature ingredients that have been obtained on the hunt:

Spread it on Thick
Nibbles and Sides
The Main Event
Sweet Treats
Sunday Supper MovementJoin the #SundaySupper conversation on Twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7 p.m. ET.  Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board.

Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Deconstructed Pollo di Parmigiana

Deconstructed Pollo di Parmigiana

Recently, I was made aware of a recipe contest sponsored by Dei Fratelli Tomato Products to celebrate National Tomato Month which was in October. Dei Fratelli called it a Ripened Recipe Contest. In the interest of full disclosure, ingredients were provided for recipe development. No further compensation was given. All opinions, text, and photos are my own.

When I agreed to this, I was hoping I would be sent some canned tomatoes that had not gone through extensive processing. If you have read my website for any length of time, you'll note I prefer to prepare my dishes completely from scratch. Thus, I felt uncomfortable using a jarred marinara sauce but I can't fault an ingredient list of crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, sugar, sea salt, onions, extra-virgin olive oil, oregano, basil, citric acid, spices and garlic.

Let's discuss the dish itself for a moment. I became enamored with chicken parmesan while I was on vacation in the Philippines visiting Mrs. Stuntman's family when I was still courting her. I remember placing my room service order for it on more than one occasion which provided inspiration when I replicated the dish on my first website using Pam's recipe found on For the Love of Cooking. The classic preparation for this dish is to pound a boneless skinless chicken breast to an even thickness, bread it, deep fry it, then top it with Marinara, mozzarella and parmesan in that order before putting it in the oven to melt the cheese.

I decided to divide the parts, leaving the bread whole and separate the Marinara from the chicken. I didn't have to do much with a pre-made Marinara but I did fortify the flavor by sweating an onion before simmering it.

The Challenge

Be declared the grand prize winner of the Ripened Recipe Contest sponsored by Dei Fratelli Tomato Products

The Source

This dish is a Crazy Foodie Stunts original recipe.


4 slices sourdough bread, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices
1 to 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
4 thinly-sliced boneless skinless chicken breasts
Kosher Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 24-ounce jar Dei Fratelli Marinara Sauce
1/4 cup vegetable oil
All-purpose flour
3 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley, chopped (for garnish)


1. Finish the mise en place. Preheat the oven to 350° Fahrenheit. Place the sourdough slices on a aluminum foil lined sheet pan. Spread an even amount of butter on each of the slices, then top with some parmesan and mozzarella before setting aside. Separately, pat the chicken dry with paper towels, then season them with salt and pepper.

2. Prepare the Marinara. Place the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add the onion to sweat, approximately 5 to 7 minutes.

Add in the Marinara sauce and bring to a simmer. Maintain the simmer while the chicken and toast are prepared.

3. Sear the chicken and toast the sourdough. In a separate skillet, heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Once it starts to smoke, quickly dredge the chicken in flour, shaking off any excess, then add it to the pan. Brown the chicken, approximately 3 to 5 minutes per side.

While the chicken cooks, toast the sourdough in the oven until the cheese has melted, approximately 7 minutes. To plate, spoon some Marinara onto a plate and top with a slice of toast then chicken. Garnish with parsley and serve.


Like the filet dish I prepared for Food & Wine Conference several months ago, I'm unsure if I'm successful at the time I have published this. The dish was well seasoned and reminded me of the classic preparation of this dish since the original flavor profile was still present. Wish me luck!