Red Kuri and Chestnut Purée with Browned Butter - The Clean Gourmet

Red Kuri and Chestnut Purée with Browned Butter

Just three harmonious ingredients and a little technique make this deceptively simple side seem extra sophisticated.  Chestnuts enhance the nutty flavor of red kuri squash and toasty browned butter adds notes of burnt marshmallow to the lusciously smooth purée.  A perfect pairing for holiday roasts.

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This was actually my first time cooking with red kuri squash.  I’ve known about it for a few years, but have always gotten distracted by other winter squash varieties to try.  I didn’t know what to do with it until I roasted it and tasted the squash on its own.  Oh my goodness…  Sweet and nutty with a creamy texture, I almost ate it plain for dessert.  That said, if you can’t find red kuri squash, I would use half of a kabocha and half of a butternut to substitute.

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Browned butter sounds fancy, but it’s actually very simple and should be a part of everyone’s culinary repertoire.  Just melt butter (high quality, pastured butter) in a saucepan over a medium/low flame and just keep going until it turns caramel in color and fragrance.  Next, be ready to remove promptly from the heat so it doesn’t burn!

In this recipe, the warm butter poured over the chestnuts will help them to break down for puréeing.  Which, speaking of, I prefer to use a Vitamix for, as nothing compares to the smoothing capabilities of a good high speed blender.  It takes a little coaxing with the tamper and perhaps a hit of water, but I think it’s worth the effort.  Otherwise, a food processor will do just fine.

Red Kuri and Chestnut Purée with Browned Butter

Serves 6-8 as a side dish

Ingredients:

1 medium red kuri squash, halved and deseeded (be sure to get all the stringy bits out)

3 ounces roasted and peeled chestnuts (about 1 cup)

4 tablespoons butter (preferably pastured)

3/4 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste

Procedure:

Preheat oven to 350ºF.  Place squash halves on a parchment lined baking sheet, cut sides down.  Bake until a fork can pierce the skin without much resistance, about 50 minutes.

Once the squash is cool enough to handle, scrape flesh from skin into a bowl (if you get some skin in there, don’t worry too much.  It’s generally edible.)

Place chestnuts in a Vitamix or food processor and set aside.  Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium/low heat and simmer until it begins to brown and release toasty caramel aroma.  Immediately remove from heat and pour into blender or food processor with the chestnuts.   Pulse to break down the chestnuts.  Add cooked red kuri flesh and salt.  Process (be sure to have that tamper handy if using a Vitamix) until very smooth.  Feel free to add a bit of warm water to aid in this process.  Adjust for salt and serve immediately or at room temperature.

 

 


Pumpkin Hazelnut Espresso Muffins - The Clean Gourmet

Pumpkin Hazelnut Espresso Muffins

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Pumpkin is still going strong!

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Kefir is a cultured milk product similar to yogurt, except it has different, more potent strains of bacteria, and is thin enough to drink.  It’s a great alternative to buttermilk in baking and pancake recipes, thanks to its similar consistency and acidity to buttermilk.  Kefir is also a perfect base for smoothies!

Maple Hill Creamery arguably produces the best kefir, because they use the highest quality milk from third party certified 100% grass-fed cows.  Not only is grass-fed dairy better for you, as I discussed here, supporting grazing cattle also promotes the natural ecology of the planet and preserves various perennial grass species, which are at risk of extinction.  Grass farmers (the farmers who raise grass-fed cattle) have a vested interest in using a variety of grasses to support the cows’ health.  These cows then preserve these perennial grasses  by clipping them at the right moments so that the grasses can form deep roots.  The cows are also responsible for aerating the soil with their hooves, which allows water to penetrate the soil more effectively.

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Also, Maple Hills flavors cannot be beat. Maple, Strawberry, and Vanilla, to name a few, are naturally flavored and only gently sweetened.  Of course, Plain is a classic option if you prefer something more neutral.

Now about these muffins.  They’re a sophisticated twist on pumpkin spice with hazelnut and espresso.  However, if you don’t like hazelnuts, almond flour should be a fine substitute and if you don’t want caffeinated muffins, you can easily substitute with decaffeinated espresso or espresso powder.  Just try to look for water processed decaf, rather than chemically processed so that you’re not exposing yourself to unnecessary toxins.

If you prefer a loaf or bundt, go ahead and bake this in a loaf or bundt pan.  Just add extra baking time and check it until a knife or toothpick comes out clean.

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups spelt flour or gluten free flour mix (1/2 cup arrowroot + 3/4 cup brown rice flour is a great ratio.  Cup4Cup and ATK all-purpose mixes are great too.)

3/4 cup hazelnut meal/flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 3/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (DIY: 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg + 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon + 3/4 teaspoon ground cloves)

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

4 teaspoons instant espresso powder or 1 shot of espresso

3/4 cup pumpkin purée, room temperature

1/2 cup Maple Hill Creamery 100% Grass-Fed Plain, Vanilla, or Maple kefir, room temperature

1/3-1/2 cup coconut sugar (more or less depending on preference for sweetness)

1/4 cup coconut oil (liquid) or neutral oil (avocado is best)

1 large egg, room temperature

2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar

Raw pecans, for topping

What to do:

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.  Grease or line a standard muffin pan with 9 muffin liners.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flours, baking soda, baking powder, pumpkin spice, and salt.

In a large bowl, combine pumpkin, kefir, coconut sugar, oil, egg, and espresso powder. Mix until well combined.

Add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture and mix gently until just combined.

Spoon the muffin batter into the prepared muffin cups. Sprinkle pecans over the batter in each muffin cup.

Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean, 20 minutes.

Allow muffins to cool in pan. Remove and store in an airtight container for up to one day, or in refrigerator for up to one week.

Pumpkin Hazelnut Espresso Muffins - The Clean Gourmet


Whole Grain Pumpkin Risotto (Risotto Integrale alla Zucca)

Yes, I am one of those people who get pumpkin fever, without fail, every fall.  If I drank coffee, pumpkin spice latte would be MY JAM.  For me, and I think for many people, pumpkin spice brings back memories of putting on your hat, running outside and jumping into a pile of leaves before they get bagged up.

If you’re overloaded with pumpkin bread and PSL (pumpkin spice lattes), try this savory option for a change.  This recipe is special, as it’s a recipe that I learned while living in Marano sul Panaro, a remote town outside of Modena, Italy eleven(!) years ago.

Since those years, however, I’ve swapped the white Carnaroli rice for brown rice or farro.  Not only do the whole grains heighten the nutrition and reduce the glycemic load, I think they add wonderful flavor and body as well.  (Do not use long grain rice for any risotto, as it’s delicate and fluffy and will turn to mush.  Long grain and jasmine varieties are best suited for pillowy pilafs.)  If you decide to use farro, just note that your risotto will no longer be gluten free.

I like to use fresh creamy almond or cashew milk as a finisher rather than whole milk.  However, in Italy we used extremely fresh milk from grass-fed cows that lived next door- if you’re gonna have dairy, that is definitely the way to go.

Finishing with fresh cilantro sounds incredibly non-Italian, but this is traditional!  Cilantro really brightens up the mellow sweetness of the pumpkin and the earthiness of the nutmeg- don’t skip it.  (If you hate cilantro, fresh parsley or sage will do.)

Happy fall and buon appetito!

Whole Grain Pumpkin Risotto - The Clean Gourmet

Whole Grain Pumpkin Risotto:

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil or grass fed butter

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 onion or 2 shallots, minced

1 cup sweet brown rice, short grain brown rice or farro

1 bay leaf (sage leaf or orange leaf are great alternatives)

2 cups light vegetable broth or chicken stock

1 cup water

2/3 cup pumpkin purée from kabocha, sugar pie, red kuri or blue hubbard pumpkin (instructions below)

1 lemon, zested and juiced

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 cup creamy unsweetened nut milk or organic whole milk from grass-fed cows

1/4 teaspoon ground black or white pepper (about 5 turns on a grinder)

grated parmesan, to serve

cilantro, to serve

What to do:

For the pumpkin purée (can be made up to four days in advance):

First prepare the pumpkin mixture.  Cook pumpkin of choice by cutting in half and placing, cut side down, on an oiled parchment-lined sheet pan and baking at 400  degrees F.  Cook until a fork pierces the skin easily, more or less 40 minutes, depending on the size of your pumpkin.  Remove from oven and let cool.

How to make pumpkin purée - The Clean Gourmet

Scoop flesh from pumpkin and purée in a food processor or push through a ricer or food mill. For this recipe you’ll need about one cup of purée.  Use remaining pumpkin for other purposes (Pinterest “pumpkin recipes” and you’ll see that there is a lifetime of possibilities) or plan on doubling, tripling or quadrupling the recipe to make croquettes out of leftover risotto;).

How to make pumpkin purée - The Clean Gourmet

How to make pumpkin purée - The Clean Gourmet

For the risotto:

Heat oil or butter over medium heat in a medium pot.  Add onion/shallot with the salt and sweat for about 5 minutes, until translucent.  (Reduce heat if you start to see any browning.)

Add rice or farro and bay leaf and toast in pot for a couple of minutes, stirring frequently.  Add 2 cups of broth, cover and simmer 20 minutes.  Remove lid and add the remaining cup of water slowly, while stirring frequently.  When rice is halfway cooked and the liquid absorbed, add pumpkin purée, lemon zest, nutmeg and water.  Continue stirring another few minutes.  The grains at this point should be tender, but chewy (a.ka.a. “al dente”).  Turn off the heat and stir in the milk and a touch of lemon juice to finish.

Serve immediately and top with cilantro (and parmesan, if using).  A glass of dry white wine will go very nicely…just saying :).