I’m sure many, if not most, of you have heard of Pinterest. I first heard about this little site where you could “curate” your own visual boards over two years ago when the site was still in Beta testing. I did some quick research on the trusty interwebs and lo and behold, I was able to track down the Pinterest CEO to his person twitter page, where I began a barrage of direct messages begging for a beta tester invite. I got it. His name is Ben, by the way, and he’s super nice. I was one of the first few thousand people to use the site, and use it I did. I currently have over 30 boards, 981 pins and 125 followers. When Pinterest first started it was much more of an art and design crowd. The cool kids who were developing the site had no doubt invited their other cool kid friends who I’m sure were all interior designers, graphic artists, and web developers in San Francisco (that’s where the company is based, not the valley, which is why the site and its people are so cool) to give it a whirl. As Beta opened up to user invites, and the site became a real, live thing, it became much, much, much more crafty, crock potty and crap to do with your kidsy. But you know what? I still love it. Despite the fact that I have to sift through hundreds of pins of maternity photo sessions to get to the thing I’m looking for, despite the fact that when I search the food category I have to ignore a million recipes that suggest throwing four different kinds of canned Campbell’s crap into your slow cooker and feeding it to your family of 10 for less than .30 cents a serving, I still think it is an awesome, amazing thing. And every once in awhile, you run across some real gems.
On Wednesday of this past week, I made THREE recipes for one meal that I found on Pinterest: A Roasted Garlic salad dressing, a rosemary and Parmesan overnight bread, and an Italian style beef and butternut squash stew. They were all the kind of things that keep me obsessed with the site. Diamonds in the rough.
The Roasted Garlic Vinaigrette is a MUST try to anyone who loves garlic on the level that I do. Two heads of garlic go into this dressing. And while you do have to roast the garlic for a good half hour, the dressing itself is really easy to make, and you probably have most of the ingredients on hand. I’m currently obsessed with making my own salad dressings and have tried several I’ve found on Pinterest, but this one is my favorite.
Roasted Garlic Vinaigrette
- 2 heads of garlic, roasted and peeled
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 tbsp honey
- Cut the pointy top off of the garlic. Brush them with olive oil and roast them in a pan in the oven at 400 degrees for about 25 minutes, until it is starting to turn golden brown and soft. Remove from the oven, allow to cool. Once the garlic is cool, peel the skin off. Discard the skins, save the garlic. *Skin peels off really easily after they are roasted.
- Add all the ingredients to the food processor and process until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to serve.*If some of the skin get processed with the rest of the dressing, no big deal, it won’t change the flavor.
The salad dressing can be vegan if you sub the honey for agave. And it is dairy free, with no substitutions!
This dressing is tangy, but has that deep, rich caramelized taste from the roasted garlic. It’s a vinaigrette, but it’s creamy because of the garlic being processed right into it. Keep this for a week or so in your fridge in a covered container.
The bread recipe I comes from Simply So Good. I used her basic bread recipe, and put in my own additions. This bread is baked in your cast-iron enameled Dutch Oven (you have one of those, right??). I have a big, blue Le Creuset that is the Pride and Joy of my kitchen. Jeremy gave it to me for Christmas a few years ago. They are usually in the $300-$400 range, but sometimes you can score them at T.J. Maxx for half the price, which I believe is what he did (smartly). Other cast-iron enameled pots are fine for this recipe also, but when you have a Le Creuset, you tend to brag about it. Here is a view down on mine to give you an idea of the size of the vessel you might want to use:
OK, enough about my awesome piece of iron. Here’s the recipe.
- 3 cups unbleached all purpose flour
- 1 3/4 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoon yeast
- 1 1/2 cups water
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, salt and yeast. Add water and mix until a shaggy mixture forms. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and set aside for 12 – 18 hours. Overnight works great.
- Heat oven to 450 degrees. When the oven has reached 450 degrees place a cast iron pot with a lid in the oven and heat the pot for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, pour dough onto a heavily floured surface and shape into a ball. Cover with plastic wrap and let set while the pot is heating.
- Remove hot pot from the oven and drop in the dough. Cover and return to oven for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes remove the lid and bake an additional 15 minutes. Remove bread from oven and place on a cooling rack to cool.
To this recipe, I added 1/4 cup of fresh grated Parmesan Cheese, 1/8 cup of fresh rosemary (from my garden), and several cloves of smashed and roughly chopped garlic. I added that in to the dough at the very beginning and then proceeded as normal through the recipe.
This thing turned out beautiful. There is nothing quite like making your own bread from scratch and this is really a pretty easy way to do it.
Finally, the main course – Beef and Butternut Squash Stew from Closet Cooking. I’ll be honest and say there are a few things wrong with the way this original recipe is written, so the recipe below has a few very minor changes from myself, just to make things more clear.
Italian Style Beef and Butternut Squash Stew
- 2 ounces pancetta (diced)
- 1 pound beef (cut into 1 inch cubes) (My Note: he doesn’t specify what kind of beef to use here. My suggestion is to get a sirloin roast, if you can find one – that’s what I used. Otherwise a small round roast is fine or chuck if nothing else is available)
- 1 onion (chopped)
- 3 cloves garlic (chopped)
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional, to taste)
- 1 tablespoon rosemary (chopped)
- 1 tablespoon thyme (chopped)
- 1 cup Italian red wine (My Note: I used a Zinfandel. It doesn’t have to be Italian, don’t stress out, just use a decent red wine that’s not sweet)
- 3 cups beef broth
- 1 splash balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 cup sundried tomatoes (chopped)
- 1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes (My Note: He doesn’t specify drained vs. undrained. Because he does not, I put them in without draining them. It gave my stew a more “soupy” consistency, which I was OK with. If you want this to be more like a traditional stew, then drain the tomatoes before adding).
- * parmigiano reggiano rind (optional)
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 pound butternut squash (peeled, seeded and cut into 1 inch cubes)
- parsley (chopped) (My Note: optional for garnish. I used a bit of grated Parmesan instead).
- Cook the pancetta in a large pan on medium heat. (My Note: or Dutch Oven. Again, with my Creuset)
- Add the beef and brown on all sides in the grease from the pancetta and set aside. (My Note: I coated the beef cubes in flour first. I’ve always done this when searing beef that is basically going to be braised later. It also helps to thicken the sauce a bit, but it’s up to you).
- Add the onion and saute in the pancetta grease until tender, about 5-7 minutes.
- Add the garlic, red pepper flakes, rosemary and thyme and saute until fragrant, about a minute.
- Add the wine and deglaze the pan. (My Note: deglazing means you add a liquid to absorb the browned bits from the pancetta, beef and aromatics. When you add the wine to the hot pan, it will steam up. Take a wooden spoon and use that moment to scrape up all the bits in the bottom of the pan, stirring them into the liquid to create a flavorful base).
- Add the beef, broth, balsamic vinegar, sun-dried tomatoes, diced tomatoes, parmigiano reggiano rind, oregano, salt and pepper and bring to a boil.
- Reduce the heat, cover and simmer until the beef is nice and tender, about 1-2 hours.
- Add the squash and simmer until it is tender, about 15-20 minutes. (My Note: more like half an hour, at best).
This stew was filling, hearty and really quite healthy. Serve it with a glass of the same wine you used in the soup – superb! Always cook with wine that is good enough to drink. When you cook with wine, you are cooking off the alcohol, but intensifying the flavor. If you intensify a crappy wine, you will just get really intense crap. No Bueno.
The dressing, served over a bed of Organic romaine lettuce, the garlic, rosemary and Parmesan bread and this stew altogether? Perfection. Pinterest Perfection.