Hello ladies and gentlegerms. I hope that everyone had a great weekend because mine was pretty epic. I definitely indulged a bit more than I’d usually allow myself, but it’s okay every so often, isn’t it? Don’t answer that. Anyway, we got things going a little early on Thursday night with Mexican food and margaritas, accompanied by plenty of guacamole. I would have been plenty happy with just that, but we were able to score a reservation at The Smile, thanks to our friends Matt and Amanda. I had wanted to check it out for a while, but I had always wandered into Mile End for a smoked meat sandwich before I could sit down at a table with a tablecloth for dinner. The meal was fantastic. We had minted snap peas, marinated goat cheese, beet cured salmon with ricotta, fresh dill and rye, mussels in a lemongrass and coconut milk broth, Moroccan meatballs, and cous-cous with raisins and pistachios. I’m still thinking about that beet cured salmon. Next time I go to The Smile, I am just going to order three of them and stuff myself silly. We had great cocktails, too – they made a mean old fashioned and a lovely mezcal cocktail that was just the right amount of smoke. We finished the meal with coffees (I had some excellent espresso) and rhubarb-strawberry pie with fresh whipped cream. Not too bad for a Friday night dinner, is it? Amanda even got me a copy of Modern Mediterranean, which is the cookbook by The Smile’s chef Melia Marden. I am going to have to borrow their grill later this summer to make the crispy little grilled sardines that are featured in the book, among other things. Getting a new cookbook is always so exciting – there are so many possibilities, I love reading about the inspiration behind various dishes, and, of course, I tend to lose myself in the beautiful photos. I’m getting to the point where I need to figure out where to put the rest of my cookbooks, as my shelves are overflowing at the moment, but that’s not stopping me from acquiring more. My dad’s coworker even sent me three Chinese cookbooks that you can’t get in the United States – I can’t wait to break those in, either.
By the time we got home on Saturday night, we were absolutely exhausted, but in the best way possible. On Sunday, we slept and slept, watched some movies, napped, and ordered in Indian food for dinner because I couldn’t even be bothered to toil away in the kitchen. We’ve all had those days. It was nice to just relax on the couch and do nothing (except, of course, update the blog and prepare for my demo on Wednesday). Last Sunday, though, I cooked a big meal for dinner (the rest of which is to come), which included this sweet soy butternut squash. Whenever I make butternut squash (which is often when it’s in season), I feel like I always do it the same way – olive oil, herbs, maybe a bit of pepper flakes. I figured that squash is on its way out until we find ourselves in September or October again, so I wanted to do something different. Kecap manis is one of my favorite ingredients; it’s a thick, sweet Indonesian soy sauce that tastes good on just about anything. I like to put it on my eggs, but if that’s not your thing, it’s fantastic when paired with tender butternut squash. I used a dash of sesame oil and some hot chili oil for a punch of flavor, all of which is an unexpected take on my favorite kind of squash. You can use sweet potatoes or acorn squash or anything that’s similar to butternut, but we all know that butternut’s the best, isn’t it? Break outside of your roasted veggie shell with a sweet soy sauce mixture that pairs well with whatever you’re having for dinner that night.
Me being super pumped for brunch.
A perfect Saturday ending in dozens of Maryland style crabs.
- 1 2-pound butternut squash, peeled and cubed
- 2 tablespoons kecap manis (sweet soy sauce – if you don’t have it, replace it with regular soy sauce and double your agave or honey)
- 2 tablespoon regular soy sauce
- 1 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon honey or agave
- 2 teaspoons hot chili oil
- ½ teaspoon sesame oil
- red pepper flakes, for garnish
- sliced scallions, for garnish
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment and set aside.
- Peel and cube your squash, scooping out and discarding the seeds. Place the squash on your prepared baking sheet. Whisk together your kecap manis, soy sauce, olive oil, honey, chili oil, and sesame oil and toss the squash in it. Place the squash in the oven and roast for 30-35 minutes, until the squash is tender. Sprinkle with crushed red pepper flakes and sliced scallions, then serve warm.