Roasted Squash and Fontina Sandwiches

A hearty and warming sandwich that captures the best of winter.

Comfort food style without the gut bomb results.

Winter. It’s still here and all the comfort food you’ve been indulging in probably isn’t doing much for your waistline (we’re wearing this season’s finest mesh shorts at this point). Enter the roasted squash sandwich: well portioned, extremely flavorful, filling, and somewhat healthy as long as you use the meat and cheese more as garnish than a centerpiece. It’s a hearty and handheld meal that may even have you wishing for the groundhog to see his shadow.

Equipment Needed: 2 Large Baking Sheets or Baking Dishes, Chef’s Knife, Cutting Board, Serving Spoon, Vegetable Peeler, Tongs or Spatula

Serving Suggestion: Individual Plating

Servings: 4

Suggested Wine Pairing: Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, lighter Chiantis

Suggested Beer Pairing: Brown Ale, Pale Ale, Oktoberfest or Autumn Ales, Winter Ales

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium butternut squash (about $1.49/lb)
  • 1 large onion ($0.99/lb)
  • 2 garlic cloves ($2.99/lb)
  • 2 apples (about $2.99/lb)
  • 6 oz fontina cheese (about $12.99/lb)
  • 8 slices sourdough bread ($3.99/loaf)
  • 8 slices Prosciutto ($17.99/lb)
  • 3-4 TBSP extra virgin olive oil ($8.99/32 oz)
  • 1 TSP ground allspice ($3.69/2 oz)
  • 1 TSP ground cinnamon ($3.49/2.4 oz)
  • 2-3 TSP brown sugar ($1.59/lb)
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Preparation:

  • Preheat the oven to 425° F.
  • Peel the squash, halve it, and scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Once both sides are clean, slice them cross-wise into 1/2 inch pieces. Spread them evenly across your baking sheet.
Slice the pieces as uniformly as possible so they cook evenly.

Slice the pieces as uniformly as possible so they cook evenly.

  • Peel and halve the onion, then slice it crosswise into 1/4 inch slices and place them on the baking sheet as well. It’ll probably be a little crowded at this point but try not to overlap the veggies too much.
  • Peel and mince the garlic cloves and sprinkle them across all of the veggies. Drizzle your olive oil over the whole lot and give it a dusting of the allspice, cinnamon, brown sugar, salt and pepper. Pop it in the oven for 20 minutes.
Season the veggies more aggressively if you don't plan to use condiments for your sandwich.

Season the veggies more aggressively if you don’t plan to use condiments for your sandwich.

  • While things are roasting you can prepare your other fillings. Cut your apples in half, remove the cores and slice them into thin pieces. Slice the fontina as well and set aside.
  • On a separate baking sheet lay out 4 pieces of your bread to get it ready for the fillings. Once 20 minutes has passed, flip your veggies and pop them back in the oven for another 15 minutes or until they’re nicely browned and fork tender.
  • When the squash and onions are done, layer them on the bread and then place your proscuitto, apples, fontina, and other slice of bread on top. Pop them back in the oven for about 5 minutes or until the cheese has melted nicely and the bread is lightly toasted. Cut them in half and serve with some whole grain or honey mustard if desired.
Try to avoid piling your sandwich fillings too high so everything doesn't squeeze out the sides when you bite it.

Try to avoid piling your sandwich fillings too high so everything doesn’t squeeze out the sides when you bite it.

Leek and Bacon Butter

Welcome to your new obsession: trying to figure out the myriad things you can use to make compound butter

Welcome to your new obsession: trying to figure out the myriad things you can use to make compound butter.

We hope you came off your January detox as quickly as we did because we’ve got one more delicious ditty to add to the seemingly infinite lists of food trends for the year: compound butter. Yes folks, it is possible to actually make butter more delicious and it simply entails mixing things in with it. To absolutely no one’s surprise we chose bacon as our gateway compound. But wait, there’s more! We also caramelized some leeks to give it a sweet and slightly vegetal backbone. You can use this to make any dish more interesting (potatoes, roasted veggies and pasta come to mind) but we’re betting you’ll do what we did and just end up eating most of it on fresh bread. Resolutions be damned.

Equipment Needed: Frying Pan, Spatula, Serving Spoon, Small Mixing Bowl, Medium Mixing Bowl, Chef’s Knife, Cutting Board, Parchment Paper or Wax Paper, Plastic Wrap

Serving Suggestion: Family Style

Servings: 8-10

Suggested Wine Pairing: whatever you’re drinking

Suggested Beer Pairing: whatever you’re drinking

Ingredients:

  • 1 stick and 3 TBSP unsalted butter (divided) ($4.99/lb)
  • 1 small leek (about $2.99/lb)
  • 1 clove garlic ($2.99/lb)
  • 4 slices thick cut bacon ($7.99/lb)

Preparation:

  • Do two things before you start to save yourself a lot of mess 1)Put a stick of butter in your medium mixing bowl. You want it room temperature when you’re ready to make things compound. 2) Lay out a 12 inch piece of parchment paper so you’re literally ready to roll once the leeks have melted down.
  • Cut the green woody end and the root end off of the leek. Halve it lengthwise and then cut each piece into thin half-moon slices. Put them in your small mixing bowl and pour cold water over everything. Swish them around to loosen the dirt and then drain and pat them dry.
Leeks have a knack for getting dirt in them so you may need to rinse twice.

Leeks have a knack for getting dirt in them so you may need to rinse twice.

  • Peel and mince your garlic clove. Set it aside until later in the leek melting process.
  • Slice the bacon strips crosswise into thin pieces, then chop those pieces into super tiny chunks so they incorporate easier. Place them in the frying pan over medium heat and crisp them up for about 5-8 minutes (you want them crunchy; this isn’t for debate). Remove the pieces and set them on a paper towel to drain, but leave the grease in the pan.
Chop the bacon into tiny pieces so it mixes, spreads and is easier to eat.

Chop the bacon into tiny pieces so it mixes, spreads and is easier to eat.

  • Add the sliced leeks to the pan along with 3 tablespoons of butter. Stir everything around so it’s well-coated and let it sit for a couple of minutes. Stir, let sit, and repeat for about 8-10 minutes then turn the heat to low, add the garlic and cook for another 10-12 minutes until the leeks are well caramelized.
  • Remove the frying pan from the heat and let it cool to room temperature. Add the veggies and the bacon to your small mixing bowl with the softened butter. Using a spoon, slowly fold all that deliciousness evenly into the butter and plop it down on the parchment paper you laid out.
  • The next part is more art than science. Think like you’re rolling up a piece of paper or poster and roll the parchment paper around the compound butter.
Hold the ends of the paper and roll down to meld the butter together.

Hold the ends of the paper and roll down to meld the butter together.

  • Once you’re satisfied with the tubeness of your butter, put a piece of plastic wrap around the whole lot and twist the ends to seal everything up. Let it sit in the fridge for at least an hour before you serve. It’ll last in the icebox for up to 5 days but that probably won’t be an issue.

The Dainty Lumberjack

A deceptively smooth cocktail with an ax to grind.

Yes, we’ve been posting a lot of cocktails lately but hey, Jake just set up a sweet-ass bar in his apartment and we’ve gotta practice. This fall-inspired potable derives its name from its ingredients and surprisingly innocuous taste. Burly bourbon gets tempered and sweetly complemented by apple cider and Aperol. Don’t be fooled by the smoothness though, too many of these will have you throwing on plaid and raring to chop down random objects.

Equipment Needed: Rocks Glass, Shot Glass, Spoon

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 shots bourbon (we used Knob Creek) (about $30/750 ml)
  • 1/2 shot Aperol (you can use another aperitif like Campari if you want) (about $25/750 ml)
  • 4 oz apple cider (about $3.50/half-gallon)
  • 1 cinnamon stick ($3.59/2 oz jar)
  • Ground cinnamon ($3.59/3.5 oz jar)
  • Ice (free)
  • Whole cloves (optional) ($3.99/1 oz jar)

Preparation:

  • Pour the bourbon, Aperol and apple cider in your glass and stir everything together.
  • Add a couple of dashes of cinnamon. Cloves add another level of taste complexity so add a couple now if you so desire (though you should keep it at 2-3 so you don’t overpower things).
  • Pop in a couple of ice cubes and give the whole mix one last stir with a cinnamon stick, which you can either toss in the drink or use for garnish.
  • Consume daintily (pinkies out!) and contemplate clearing a forest.

Prosciutto Cups with Ricotta & Balsamic Figs

From here on out you will only want to eat things out of little meat cups.

Fall is awesome. It’s not too cold, not too hot, you have an excuse to start making heartier meals, and watching football all day totally counts as an activity. It’s the total package, just like these little babies. Prosciutto cups always seemed difficult to us until we actually tried them (hint: it’s easy). The salty richness of the pig is balanced nicely by the freshness of the ricotta, and the whole thing is lifted by the sweet and slightly acidic balsamic glazed figs. Better stocked grocery stores will have fresh figs into early November so get on it and up your appetizer/snack game forever.

Equipment Needed: Muffin Tin, Small Cup or Mixing Bowl, Chef’s Knife, Cutting Board, Frying Pan, Spatula, Spoon

Ingredients:

  • 12 slices prosciutto ($14.99/lb)
  • 6 fresh black mission figs ($4.99/pt)
  • 1/3 C balsamic vinegar ($8.99/32 oz)
  • 1 TBSP maple sugar (you can substitute brown sugar if you can’t find maple sugar; we got ours at Kalustyan’s)($3.99/3 oz)
  • Roughly 2 C fresh ricotta ($5.99/lb)
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary ($1.49/sprig)
  • 1/4 C honey ($4.39/12 oz)

Preparation:

  • Preheat the oven to 425° F.
  • Pull the rosemary leaves off the sprigs and mince them up. Sprinkle some salt over the minced leaves and scrape them against the cutting board as you would if you were making a garlic paste.

Crush up the rosemary a bit to make it infuse better with the honey.

  • Dump the rosemary into a small cup or container and pour the honey over it. Let that sit on the back of the stove to draw ambient heat and meld flavors while you cook everything else.
  • To make the cups, take each slice of prosciutto and line each muffin compartment in the tin making sure that the bottom is completely covered. The end result should look like a cupcake wrapper. The prosciutto will inevitably split several times when you first attempt this. Resist the urge to put your fist through a wall and just be gentle and patient when handling each piece. Pop these in the oven for about 8-10 minutes or until they’re crisp.

The first few will frustrate the hell out of you and fall apart. The last few you will be able to do blindfolded.

  • While the cups are cooking place your frying pan over medium heat. Add the balsamic vinegar and maple sugar and stir everything together. Let the vinegar reduce for about 8-10 minutes, stirring regularly so it doesn’t burn on the bottom.
  • Keeping an eye on your vinegar while it reduces, remove the stems from the figs and slice them in half lengthwise. Once the sauce has thickened a bit place the figs in the pan, sliced side down. Let them sit and cook for 5 minutes; resist the urge to move them so they caramelize a bit.

The reduced balsamic will nicely balance the sweetness of the figs.

  • Pull your prosciutto out of the oven when it’s crispy and set them aside to cool.
  • Flip your fruit and cook for another 5 minutes to soften them through. Turn the heat off, pluck the figs out of the vinegar and set them aside to cool slightly.
  • Carefully pull your prosciutto cups out of the tin and fill each one with a spoonful of ricotta. Place a fig on top of the cheese, sliced side up. Drizzle a little balsamic from the pan over top if you wish and then drizzle some of your rosemary honey over the whole lot for a sweet and earthy accent.

And rosemary honey because we said so.

Summer Sunset

A drink that’s refreshing and warming all at once.

This simple drink is perfect for the seasonal limbo that is September. Is it summer? Is it fall? Well, it’s still warm enough to need something refreshing but nice to have something with a little backbone should the wind pick up. The sweet tartness of the blood orange soda is a nice precursor to the rich warmth of the rye. Put on a cardigan, roll the sleeves up, and mix one up.

Equipment Needed: Rocks Glass, Spoon, Shot Glass

Ingredients:

  • 1 shot rye (we used Rittenhouse; about $25/750 ml)
  • 8 oz San Pellegrino Aranciata Rossa soda ($4.99/6 pack)
  • Ice

Preparation:

  • Add 4 ice cubes to your rocks glass and pour in a shot of rye.
  • Top it off with soda and stir.
  • Quaff and start hoarding acorns for the winter.

The Sloppy Swede

Jag! Myket läckra!

Being almost half Swedish we love most things Scandinavian. This drink was inspired by some of the brighter flavors Jake experienced while he was studying in Karlstad. Slightly sweet, slightly acidic, slightly piney, this herbaceous delight is the perfect summer cooler for whatever you’re in for. Also, since the Olympics are on even your drinking should have a little international flair.

Equipment Needed: Paring Knife, Cutting Board, Rocks Glass, Spoon (to stir) or Cocktail Shaker (to shake)

Ingredients:

  • 1 shot gin (we used Bombay Sapphire; about $25/750 ml)
  • 1/2 shot St. Germain (about $30/750 ml)
  • 1/2 shot Lillet (about $15/750 ml)
  • 2-3 TBSP cardamom simple syrup (you can use regular simple syrup or honey if you don’t want to make ours)
  • 7 dashes lemon basil bitters (use a couple dashes of your favorite bitter if you’re not cool enough to infuse your own)
  • 1 lemon ($0.50/each)
  • 1 fresh basil leaf ($2.99/oz)
  • 1 fresh sprig rosemary (about $1.49/sprig)
  • Tonic water ($1.79/L)
  • Ice

Preparation:

  • Using your paring knife cut the lemon into discs and cut the rosemary sprig in half. Place a basil leaf and the rosemary piece in the center of a lemon disc (like a little lilly pad) and set aside for garnish.
  • Put a couple ice cubes in your cocktail shaker and add the gin, St. Germain, Lillet, cardamom syrup and bitters. Pop the top on and shake vigorously.
  • Pour over ice, squeeze in a little extra lemon juice and top the whole thing off with tonic.
  • Garnish with your lemon herb disc and consume. Skål!

Lemon Basil Bitters

Fresh and bitter at the same time. Sip on that why don’t cha.

As you know we love getting freaky with our cocktails. While on a tear making all manner of bitters we wanted to think of something that had a slightly fresher flavor that we could pair with lighter spirits. Enter the lemon basil bitters, which pair well with gin and tequila. Try it in our Sloppy Swede or do whatever feels right (or wrong as the case may be).

Equipment Needed: 2 – 1 PT Mason Jars with Lids, Vegetable Peeler, Coffee Filter, Drip Coffee Filter Basket

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 C 160 proof vodka (we used Devil’s Springs; about $17.99/750 ml)
  • 1 lemon ($0.50/each)
  • 1/3 C basil (we used Gotham Greens for a little locavore flair; $3.99/1 oz)
  • 3 pieces dried lemongrass (about $4.99/oz)
  • 1/2 TSP black peppercorns ($3.69/2.25 oz jar)

Preparation:

  • Break the lemongrass stalks in half and add them to one of the pint jars. Pour in the peppercorns and tear up the basil into smaller pieces and add them as well.

Tear the basil into smaller pieces but don’t shred them too tiny.

  • With your vegetable peeler remove the peel of a lemon being careful to get as little of the pith (white part) as possible. Add this to the jar with the other dry ingredients and pour in the vodka.
  • Seal the jar and give it a good swirl. Place it in the fridge and let it steep for one week, swirling the mixture every other day.
  • After week one remove the basil pieces and place it back in your ice box. Infuse for another week with the same swirling schedule.
  • At the end of the second week, place a coffee filter in the basket of a drip coffee maker and place it over the mouth of the other mason jar.
  • Pour the liquid through the coffee filter to strain out the solids. Mix with  1/4 C of our base bitters recipe and let sit for at least a day for the flavors to meld.