Pasta with Cabbage, Winter Squash, and Walnuts

January found our group making two pasta dishes and it has me thinking in our house we just might not be big pasta eaters….at least not the kind that doesn’t have a red sauce. 😳

My husband said he could honestly say he hasn’t ever had anything like this mixture….I haven’t either and I think this was the first time I have had butternut squash…which I know sounds weird to say, especially because I love vegetables, but I don’t think I really liked it.

It is kind of funny as I reflect because it makes us seem like we haven’t experienced interesting dishes or fine dining but we live here in California and have had many types of dining experiences so I don’t know…maybe we are odd or particular haha but this one just didn’t do it for us. I don’t think there is any modifying this one to make us crave it.

As always, great experience and great adventure, just not a winner for us. 😃

Cannelés

This was a great one…fun, interesting, educational, and delicious!

I had never heard of Cannelés…and neither had any of my tasters. We were all new to this centuries old French dessert. We learn the name comes from shape of the molds they are baked in…”channeled”. I did not have a mold so thank goodness for Amazon. I searched and there, just like that, appeared a few options for me. I have had to buy very few tools to bake all these years in this group so I figured it was worth the few dollars to have my Cannelés mold….otherwise I would have to sit this one out. I went with the mini-silicon.

The batter it really quite simple with eggs, milk, sugar, flour, butter and then rum and vanilla for flavor. It is a thin batter that sits for 12+ hours in the fridge before using. The molds also have to sit in the freezer for 30+ min so this isn’t really a dessert you throw together.

The only thing I didn’t like about this dessert is feeling the need to explain to everyone, “they are suppose to look burnt” 😳…I mean to be honest when you get the blackened bottom and mahogany sides with just a peak of the yellow on the top center…it does look overdone…very. We are told though, that the dark and firm exterior gives way to the custardy, chewy interior. So I took my first bite quite apprehensively…but wow, they were amazing and really not like anything I have had before.

So, since I had tried them and found them to be strangely addicting, it was easy to sell them to my family and tasters. Everyone LOVED them and said the same things…how interesting, different, and delicious they were!

These were a perfect example of what I have loved about being a part of this wonderful baking group! Funny side story, I had to go buy the rum for this recipe. I have found it easiest to go to a local wine shop that has mini bottles of alcohol. I bought three for different baking needs. As I checked out, I was asked if I was leaving in a plane soon 😳🤦‍♀️ umm, no, just baking haha.

This one is a keeper!

Pasta with Shrimp, Squash, Lemon, and lots of Herbs

This recipe is described as a quick toss-together kind of dinner with ingredients normally found in the fridge. My kind of week night dinner!

Although there is squash, tomato, shrimp, pasta, and herbs, the lemons are really the star of the show. You use every part of them…the zest, the juice, and the empty halves are even boiled along with the pasta. I have never done that before!

Unfortunately for us, the lemon became the overpowering flavor…the only flavor. We really could only taste lemon and the kick the cayenne pepper gave. I was disappointed as we have loved every recipe from this cookbook so far, and we love everything in this dish. It just didn’t come together as well as we would have liked.

Can’t really complain though when we have been on quite the run of amazing recipes. 😃 I have re-made many of the dishes we have made so far. This just won’t be added to the list…or at least won’t be made with as much lemon next time 😂.

Sweet and Smoky Roasted Carrots

I love roasted vegetables…I roast them all the time.

This recipe got me thinking though, I don’t recall ever roasting carrots 😳. I am not even sure why. I guess I tend to eat them raw or cut up in salads. I think this recipe has altered my way of thinking. Roasted carrots are quite remarkable…and like other roasted vegetables, take on quite a different flavor after roasting.

This recipe is centered mostly on the spicy syrup and yogurt sauce. The carrots are roasted, for about an hour coated in a spicy mixture consisting of smoked paprika, cider vinegar, salt, cumin, cayenne pepper, honey, and olive oil. Part of this is reserved to flavor the yogurt and also drizzle upon finishing. We are encouraged to leave part of the green stems to add a rustic touch, and hope for a bit of charing to take place during roasting. It is an impressive looking dish for a weeknight dinner at home. 😂

My husband and son absolutely loved these. They enjoy spicy food and this reminded us of a chipotle flavor…similar to the sauce we use in the shrimp tacos…which they love. I think I preferred the carrots plain without the yogurt sauce, but enjoyed trying them for sure. It really got me thinking of variations I could make…although I think the boys would love me to make it this way again!

Another winner from this cookbook!

Honey-Nut Nougat

We had quite a discussion in my house about what “nougat” is and what candy bars had it. 😂 We all had different impressions and thoughts which was kind of funny!

Apparently, according to Dorie, the French are very passionate about their nougat..a candy combination of toasted nuts and dried fruit inside a sticky, stretchy honey meringue. Whole societies are dedicated to keeping this sweet alive and appreciated. Who knew?!!

I love how even though this is a baking group, I invariably come away with information I never knew. I also found myself googling what divinity was because I distinctly remember when I was young, my grandma having this white candy called divinity out at Christmas with the fudge. It seemed similar in my memory. I now know it is very close to this nougat, although it has more sugar instead of the honey. It sounded like it might have been a little more marshmallow’y as well. Any thoughts taking me back to my Grandma Rose is a always good thing so I was thankful for that trip down memory lane. ❤️.

I used almonds and cranberries in my nougat. It wasn’t all that hard to make. I used a loaf pan to get the right proportions as directed by Dorie. Also didn’t have any difficulty coating in the powdered sugar mixture so it wouldn’t stick. What I did have trouble with was the cutting. I did cut the few pieces we tried, but hey, this was not a hit in our house. This is very rare. No one liked it..the taste or my additions haha. My husbands comment was, maybe you should have used peanuts and coated it in chocolate. Hmmm maybe we would have enjoyed it better that way but I told them that wasn’t really given as an option in this recipe haha.

Oh well, can’t win them all. This won’t be keeper in our house…onto the next one!!

Gingered-Turkey Meatball Soup

This was unlike anything I have made before. I didn’t know quite what to expect, but what I have come to learn, is that every recipe so far in this cookbook has been outstanding…and this one was no exception! We loved it!

I can’t say I really loved the “making the meatball” part and I was thinking while I was making them maybe I would just substitute frozen meatballs next time…but after eating it, no way! Those meatballs are popping with flavor. My husband said he was surprised at really how many flavors hit you in this soup…it is really delicious.

I used napa cabbage, mushrooms, carrots, and green onions this time…and at the last minute topped it with some avocado. The only change I would make when I make it again, would be to increase the veggie part, and that really is just from a personal preference not because it really needed it. We each personalized our soup with the add-ins…those being soy sauce, sesame oil, and sriracha hot sauce.

All of us said this recipe was a total keeper…and continues the streak! We are excited for the next new dinner recipe! 😍

Touch-of-Crunch Chocolate Cake

This very chocolate cake was quite a winner with my family…and my tasters!

It is not for the faint of heart, you must enjoy chocolate or this is not the dessert for you…but oh if you are a chocolate lover, you hit the jackpot.

This cake is a cross between a flourless cake and a dense, fudge-like brownie. We were given the option of adding black sesame seeds or cocoa nibs for the crunch…I opted for mini chocolate chips, which I am not sure retained much of their crunch, but didn’t matter as this cake was a winner.

After trying a bite, I realized that something that would compliment the chocolate would actually enhance the flavor, tone down the richness of the cake. I always now have whipped cream on hand, for those in my family who love it with these desserts, and I had raspberries. Turned out to be a perfect match. I had my sliver at room temperature but I have to agree with Dorie, that this cake shines brightest out of the fridge. I had a couple “broken pieces” while cutting the pieces for everyone and I think it tasted best cold.

This would be a great dessert option for entertaining…you can make it ahead of time and it would go far, as you don’t need a very big piece! 😃