I love a good wine-y cheese fondue. I grew up with a fondue set in the house and we would make fondue several times a year. It was the simplest of fondues. Just cheese, wine, and bread but it was met with such pomp and circumstance. The little forks! The can of sterno with the blue flame! I loved it. As an adult, I still love it though I have it far less frequently—not because I enjoy it any less, but it just doesn’t seem like a balanced meal to me. Now I need more vegetables and less cheese. Enter the Baked Pumpkin with Gruyere Fondue from Melissa Clark’s ‘A Good Appetite‘. Have I mentioned yet how much I am enjoying this book? I love Melissa’s column in the New York Times. I read it religiously every Wednesday. Her book is wonderful too. If you are looking for a book with lots of glossy food pictures, then this cookbook is not for you. I’m warning you it is text only. But, Oh, such wonderful recipes! I have been a fan of Melissa for a long time now—she is the editor of several excellent cookbooks and I always make a point of looking for books that have been edited by her.
Earlier this fall I had an overflow of pumpkins and squash from my CSA box and I was thrilled to find a new, healthier take on an old favorite. I have made this several times now—in Kabocha squash, sugar pie pumpkins and Red Kuri Squash. All were equally delicious. This recipe transports beautifully and reheats extremely well. However it does take a good hour and 15 minutes to an hour and a half to bake.
2-3 pound Sugar Pie Pumpkin, Kabocha Squash or Red Kuri Squash, top inch cut off and reserved for another use, seeds and pulp removed.
(6) 1-inch slices of baguette
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 ¼ cup of heavy cream
1 tsp salt
½ tsp ground black pepper
½ cup white wine (Any dry white will work well here.)
6 oz of Gruyere Cheese, grated (Appenzeller, Jarlsberg and Aged Gouda all work well here.)
- Preheat the oven to 350F
- If the bread that you are using is fresh, toast it until it is a light golden brown. (about 5-7 minutes in the oven.) If it is stale, skip this step.
- Combine the cream, wine, garlic and salt in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer on the stove top. Add the pepper and set aside.
- Season the inside of the pumpkin with salt and pepper.
- Place two of the baguette slices in the bottom of the pumpkin. If they are too big, you may break off the excess to make it fit snugly.
- Sprinkle a third of the cheese over the bread.
- Pour a third of the wine and cream mixture over. Allow the bread to soak up some of the liquid. (just a few minutes). Repeat two more times, ending with the cheese.
- Bake the pumpkin in the oven until tender, about an hour and fifteen minutes to an hour and a half.
- Check on the pumpkin after an hour has passed. If the top is getting too brown, cover it with foil for the remainder of the cooking time.
- After you remover the pumpkin from the oven, let it rest for 20 minutes before serving. To serve, cut into wedges.
San Francisco used to be a beat (nik) town. Now, it is a beet town. What do I mean by this, you ask? Well, I think that a roasted beet and goat cheese salad is served at 7 out of 10 restaurants in the bay area. The beet salad has taken over, and everyone loves roasted beets! Beets come in several different varieties, and you can generally find two or three at the Farmer’s market. The most common beet is the purple or red variety, followed by yellow beets and Chioggia beets—those are the pretty striped ones. When you purchase beets at the market, they may have their greens attached. It’s kind of like a two for one deal. The greens are absolutely edible, and you can use them in soups (Watch out: If you are using the greens from purple beets the color will bleed into the soup.) sauté, or stir fry them. Tender, baby beet leaves are a great addition to salads. If you are not going to use the beets for several days, separate the beets from the greens, leaving a couple inches of stem attached. This will stop the greens from drawing out moisture from the beets. Leaving some of the stem attached to the beet root will keep it from bleeding. The greens will keep about 5 days or so in the fridge and beet root can last up to a couple of weeks in your fridge. Beets are high in sugar, which is why we love them so. Roasting concentrates these natural sugars. However beets are also high in folic acid and are a good source of fiber and potassium. So indulge away!
I picked up some lovely, tiny, baby purple beets at the Stonestown Farmer’s Market on Sunday. They were slightly larger than a marble and perfect for roasting. (Hint: all beets are perfect for roasting!) I wrapped them in foil and popped them into the oven at 400F as soon as I got home. It’s tough to over roast a beet, so don’t worry about overcooking them too much. There is a far greater chance that you will undercook a large beet than over cook it. I frequently roast beets on Sunday afternoons and put them in the fridge to snack on or toss into salads during the week. This week however, I was feeling peckish around 5 o’clock and there they were. Cooked and sitting on my counter, calling my name. I didn’t quite feel like eating them plain so I rummaged through the fridge and came up with some goat cheese. Then I stepped outside to grab some arugula from the planter. I split the beets in half, dabbed them with a smear of goat cheese and garnished them with a sprig of arugula. Drizzled with a little bit of olive oil and garnished with fleur de sel, it was an easy, tasty and sophisticated hors d’ouerves. *These beets were bite size. To make them a little less messy I stabbed them with a toothpick so we didn’t wind up with purple fingers.
Mini Beet, Goat Cheese and Arugula Hors’ d’ouerves
Beets, any color, roasted and peeled
1 or 2 oz fresh goat cheese
A handful of spicy arugula sprigs
Olive Oil, salt and pepper for garnish
- Preheat oven to 400F
- Wrap the beets in foil or alternatively place in a baking dish with a little bit of water and cover.
- Depending on the size of the beets, they will roast anywhere from 45 minutes to 1 ½ hours. The small ones roasted for about 45 minutes.
- Remove the beets from the oven and let cool.
- Once they are cool remove the tough outer skin. I generally peel baby beets using my hands under running water. Split the beets in half and smear a dollop of goat cheese on the cut side. Top with a sprig of spicy arugula, sprinkle with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil.
- Place a toothpick in the beet for easy access with no mess.