A new banner for 2012!

Well folks, we’re about to say goodbye to another year and I can’t think of a better way to ring it in than with a new banner! You know I like to update things now and then, and just the other day we finished a big citrus story at the studio for ourselves (yes, self-assignments are important!) and as I was looking around at the bowls of lemons and oranges I thought it’d make a bright happy new banner. Full confession: I’ve resorted to bright bowls of lemons before for my header banner. I just can’t help it. Clearly I’m not above repeating myself.

This year I thought of doing something a bit different using some of my favorite ceramics from Mud Australia. Yes, I’ve also been on quite an Australian kick. At any rate, I painted a surface a very light blue and arranged the assorted blue bowls from our collection.

WOULD YOU LOOK AT THOSE BLUES? I’m drooling. After I had them where I wanted them I  placed some happy little lemons, oranges, kumquats and leaves inside them and snapped away.

 

I opened everything in photoshop to make sure it was where I needed it to be. I updated the type for 2012 and voila! done!

From me and Adam to you and your family….we are wishing you a very happy and healthy 2012! What a year it’s been!

Hamilton Island Great Barrier Feast

Will it be ok with you if I claim a compressed holiday schedule blended with a healthy dose of jet lag as to why I am only getting around to writing about my quick trip to Australia two weeks ago today? I came home after a 4-day trip and jumped immediately into 4 photo shoots. FOUR. The dust has settled, I’m reviewing my images and expanding my notes and wanted to share with you what a stellar time I had.

With an sleep mask, a bag full of magazines and two sets of headphones I boarded a V Australia flight from Los Angeles to Sydney (which was fabbbbbbulousss) to attend the Hamilton Island Great Barrier Feast, hosted by qualia resort in what must be one of the most beautiful parts of our planet.  Hamilton Island is a part of the Whitsundays, a collection of islands located off the central coast of Queensland, Australia. Rugged, verdant, with dark green peaks jetting out of teal blue water, it is a tropical paradise not far from the Great Barrier Reef. You might remember that this was the winner’s location for the Best Job In The World contest a few years back.  I see why. I was prepared for beauty, I wasn’t prepared for extreme beauty.

With 60 individually designed pavillions, qualia sprawls out over several hilly acres, making its way to the edge of the island at Pebble Beach. With dozens of awards under its belt, including 2011’s Australian Gourmet Traveller Award for Best Australia Resort as well as Best Spa, there’s a relaxed elegance to this entire place that I find right up my alley. Fusing a very laid back and carefree attitude with service of astronomic levels  provides the best of all worlds.  And driving around your own little golf cart certainly helps.

I began my mornings very early (I’m not one to miss a sunrise, especially when it rises over mountains that I can see from bed), usually with a short walk around the property and along the beach before heading to one of the pavilions for breakfast. The view each morning allowed me to absorb one of Australia’s most unique qualities: her light. Without getting too technical here (and boring you non-photographer, color-temperature measuring types), let me just say that the quality of light in Australia is beyond words. For this boy from The Golden State who has ample daylight most of the year, just seeing how the sun works down under was enough to cause me to snap photos, make notes, and marvel in its glory.

But really, let’s talk about those rooms.

I’m confident I’ve made enemies of friends and relatives after sharing via instagram and facebook my room. It’s been brought to my attention that in order to maintain these life-long valuable relationships I’ll need to bring them back to qualia, specifically this room. I’m a giver, consider it done. But you can easily see what I’m talking about when you see the room.

With apologies to housekeeping, a chair and power strip found their way into the massive tiled bathroom, where a sink counter became my temporary desk, the room doubling as a spontaneous office. It’s not that there wasn’t a proper desk on the other side of the suite, it’s just, well, I’ve always told myself I could live in a well-appointed luxurious bathroom, and I was pretty sure I was out to prove it.

One thing: bathing in not bathing with a view of the Whitsundays from a window like this. Don’t kid yourself. Human necessities become acts of grandeur.

Not that the rest of the room wasn’t worth it. Especially the bottle of Veuve Clicquot waiting for me.

As much as I could have hid in my room all day and night (with its own pool, thankyouverymuch), I loved getting out and meeting the other media attendees for lunch as the kick off for the Great Barrier Feast. If you’ll allow me to generalize here, here’s the thing about Australians: I love them. The whole bunch. Their spirit, their humor, their attitude, it’s all right by me. So I enjoyed a delicious lunch, sat back and listened to the lively conversation from Simon Thomsen, food writer and critic and emcee of the event. Also in attendance were James Halliday, Australia’s leading wine critic, Sally Webb, an editor from Murdoch, and many other journalists and editors, making for such a fantastic time. With all that food talk I was in heaven.

This year’s Great Barrier Feast was a weekend of amazing dinners, two Electrolux Masterclasses with Australian award-winning chef Dan Hunter, and plenty of delicious wines from Robert Oatley Vineyards selected by James Halliday. Not a stranger to the resort + food experience weekend, the Great Barrier Feast stands out above so many events in its ability to provide an experience that straddles education & excellent food with relaxation and pure chillness.  Try beating that.

Like a good American blogger I did my research on Chef Dan Hunter in lieu of making it to his restaurant Royal Mail in Dunkeld, Australia (that’ll be my next trip to Australia!) In a place seemingly near nothing (it’s 3 hours west of Melbourne), Dan creates cutting edge cuisine with a razor-sharp attention to ingredients and preparation. With impressive experience (spending time at Mugaritz in Spain as well as at some of the world’s finest restaurants), life at rural Royal Mail allows him to farm and grow his own produce, not to mention it also affords him the opportunity to walk to work and do his own thing. But what impressed me most was Dan’s singular vision and commitment to local ingredients. After enjoying Saturday night’s dinner prepared by Chef Dan and his team, I was eager to ask him about his vegetable-driven, beautifully plated dishes.

After explaining to him that my day job is as a food photographer, I asked him about aesthetics, something I’m pretty keen on.

Chef’s response: “I think food needs to seem untouched. I live in a very natural environment. I wake up in the morning, I open my bedroom curtains and I see trees and mountains, kangaroos, my dog. I have a shower, I have breakfast, I walk to work, I walk down a hill, across a creek, through a fruit orchard and I see clouds, trees, leaves, my vegetable garden. What I don’t see is structure. I see irregular, naturally occurring things. So when I put food on a plate, I’m putting natural things down and it seems silly to me to try to construct it too much. I say this to my chefs all the time: we want it to look untouched, as if the hand of man hasn’t been there. I mean, think of a forest with leaves on the ground, branches falling…it’s still beautiful. Imperfection in what we do and see are sometimes the most beautiful things.”

Speaking of nature, I may have gone off the food path with my request to tour the property with one of the lead gardeners. After walking around scratching my head with internal questions like “What on earth is this?” and “Oh wow look at that”, I knew I had to spend some time with someone who could answer my questions about the trees, plants and flowers. I said this place was paradise, right?

I must admit it was hard to leave qualia, but I was looking forward to my night in Sydney and checking out the new Darling Hotel.  If you’re thinking of attending the next Great Barrier Feast held again at qualia then lucky you. It’s a fantastic place. If you can break yourself away from that bathtub.

My blogger fine print: many thanks to qualia, V Australia, and everyone at Hamilton Island. Big California West Coast hugs to Michael Shah, Katie Cahill, Jill Colins (omgiloveyou!), Sophie Baker (omgiloveyoutoo!) and Debra Kelman Loew. As per FTC disclosure requirements, transportation and accommodations were provided.  Opinions expressed are authors own. All images © Matt Armendariz except tomato image in Chef Dan Hunter collage used by permission, © Andrea Francolini Photography.

 

Roasted Acorn Squash with Ricotta & Honey

You might remember we were on a slight squash kick recently. It coincided with a visit to one of my favorite restaurants here in Long Beach, Michael’s Pizzeria. I’ve said a million times that I don’t really “do” restaurant coverage because a) it’s overdone and b) it’s not my thing. I think the irony is that I get to eat in some of the most amazing places all over the damn globe and could probably have a blog over just restaurants alone, but again, it’s best left for others. Having said that, when I do write about a restaurant it’s because I find it pretty special and/or I’ve graciously stolen a recipe to inspire me at home. This is one of those cases on both accounts.

A few things you will not engage me on unless we are best friends and in the comfort of my own home: religion, women’s reproductive rights, politics, and who makes the best pizza. I’m no dummy. Each topic is loaded with sensitivity, opinion, and weighs a million tons. I’m better off just smiling and talking about pretty plates and napkins and puppies.

When it comes to pizza, I will not argue with you about what you like or who makes the better pie. Why waste my time? I will, however, tell you that I prefer a thinner crust, only a few high quality toppings, and fired quickly at a high temperature. See? How evasive was that? Truth be told, meet my few easy requirements and chances are I’ll enjoy it. Which is why I prefer pizza napoletana. Keep your deep dish, pal.

Wait. Why on earth am I talking about pizzas and birth control when I meant to discuss acorn squash? Oh yes, Michael’s.

This little pizzeria in Long Beach makes a really delicious Neapolitan pizza just the way I like it. A very nice dough that walks the line between chewy and crunchy, a perfect tomato sauce made in-house and wonderful mozzarella on top. We visit weekly, take friends, parents, and just anyone else we can drag along. It’s casual and right up my alley. And in an effort to break my MPOP Rule (that’s Margherita Pizza Only, Please), I decided to try a few new little appetizers on the menu, one which included this baked acorn squash.

One half of an acorn squash is baked in a small cast iron skillet and then topped with honey, ricotta, and nutmeg. It’s marvelous in its sweet simplicity. I mean, it’s damn near perfect. So perfect that I had to steal it and make it at home while we’re in the middle of winter and hard squash season.  We made one with ricotta, and another with burrata. We both fell in love with the burrata version but you really can’t go wrong with either. This makes a wonderful side dish, I’d pair it with something smokey or salty as it’s definitely on the sweet side.

Roasted Acorn Squash with Ricotta (or Burrata!) and Honey adapted from Michael’s Pizzeria

2 acorn squash,  seeds removed and cut into quarters (leave the skin on!)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon cracked black pepper

10 oz fresh ricotta or 8 oz burrata.
2-4 tablespoons honey
freshly grated nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 400˚ F.

2. Cut squash in half, remove seeds, cut each piece in ½  for a total of 8 wedges.

3. Place squash on baking sheet and coat with olive oil salt and pepper.

4. Roast in oven for 45-50 minutes until soft and toasty.

5. Let cool slightly, spoon on a dollop of ricotta or chunk of buratta, drizzle with honey and grate fresh nutmeg on top. Serve immediately.

Michael’s Pizzeria is located at 5616 East 2nd Street in Long Beach, California, 90803. Their website is here.



Quick! Which foods do you find difficult to photograph?

Hi folks! I’m working on my book on food photography and wanted to ask you, my dear awesome-n-groovy readers, which foods you find difficult to photograph. Now I know you are all a super talented bunch, that’s no question, but what foods pose issues? Is it that casserole causing you catastrophes? The dagwood sandwich creating dilemmas? Stumped by a pile of holiday stuffing? Please tell me!

As an incentive I will pick the top 5 responses here and send you an autographed copy of my first book, On A Stick!And I’ll randomly select one winner to receive not only my book but also a copy of Susan Russo’s Encyclopedia Of Sandwiches, too! We worked with Susan on her project and it’s really a fun book, if I do say so myself!

So let me have it! What do you have problems with and why?

The Fine Print: I will happily pay for postage when sending out the books to the winners. I will ship internationally but please note I cannot guarantee delivery. Leave comments by January 1, 2012. Thank you!

Delicious Conversations: A Little Night Music

This post is part of an ongoing discussion sponsored by San Pellegrino and their “delicious conversations” series as seen through the lens of food. This entry is about two of my favorite things: food and music. Wait, three favorite things if you count Dinner Parties!

Jobim, Getz, Peterson. Those names are equally at home in my kitchen as much as salt, lemons and olive oil. Growing up in a musical household where almost everyone played an instrument meant the sounds and songs from all over the world floated along with the aromas coming from the kitchen. They were symbiotic, forever meant to be enjoyed together in my world.

Fast forward to adulthood. My relationship with food has become my career, but it rarely exists without a soundtrack. If I’m photographing, there’s music. If I’m cooking, there’s music. If I’m writing, there’s music (but very very quietly, I might add). Like so many with a passion for cooking and music, it’s an integral part of my world.

Music playing casually seems to take on a whole new level of importance when we begin to talk about The Dinner Party. The playlist almost becomes a guest, as carefully thought out and planned as the party menu. The right mix can soothe, can excite, and relax and it can certainly annoy (for all the right reasons, but we’ll hear from Marc in a second).  Raucous tunes played over a formal meal might annoy; the same playlist at a David Chang joint might just hit the spot. Context is key.

Realizing I’m not the only one who spends a significant amount of time creating playlists for dinners and parties at home, I turned to the great big world of social media and a few fellow cooks and bloggers to find out what makes their metronome tick when it comes to dinner parties, cooking and music. I just happened to snag a professional music critic and rockabilly musician in the process and their answers illustrate just how thoughtful food and music lovers can be.

My guests included Sarah Kieffer of Threaded Basil and Vanilla Bean Blog, Sabrina Modelle of The Tomato Tart, Marc Schermerhorn of Baketard,  PR Goddess & photographer  Candice Eley and her husband, music critic and writer Jeffrey Terich of Treblezine.com.

I asked Marc  if he has a process for putting together playlists for dinner parties. If you know Marc you know he’s quite “spirited” and his answers didn’t disappoint :) Marc says “For me, it depends on the theme and the guests. At the basic level, if I’m doing some type of regional cuisine, I’ll generally try to play something that goes with it, but without falling into a complete stereotype (like playing mariachi music for a dinner with a mexican menu). iTunes has been great for finding recommendations for pop or jazz singers in different countries or regions with which I have little familiarity. That’s what I do when I’m trying for something elegant. Or on the safe side, I’ll play jazz or blues for a sit down dinner. Other times, I might choose music to torture my guests on purpose; for a friend’s 40th birthday dinner here we played calliope music all night and had a clown theme because she hate clowns. Again, it goes with the audience most of the time.”

See, what did I tell you?

When it comes to putting together playlists, Sabrina not only has a formula but offers a few tips: “ I do marry my music to my dinners and gatherings. I love jazz, and it’s my go-to music. Female vocal jazz like Ella Fitzgerald, Julie London, and Chris Connor makes the perfect backdrop for a fun yet sophisticated evening. I also love the feel of bossa nova for a larger crowd where people might not exactly know each other. A great trick when you want to have music, but not disrupt conversation is to go for something foreign. Bossa nova, vintage and modern French pop, and 60’s Italian tunes all make a great cocktail party.”

I asked her to share a few of her favorite artists as well. “I love Nouvelle Vague when I’m puttering around the kitchen. Melody Gardot is also fabulous for both cooking and entertaining. Julie London, Blossom Dearie, Astrud Gilberto, Stan Getz, Ella Fitzgerald, Eartha Kitt, Chris Connor, June Christy, Dean Martin. My favorite barbeque/outdoor entertaining music comes from a label called Wild Records out of LA- they’re traditional rockabilly with an uninhibited and a sexy edge. I like that in music, in food, and in a party too.”

When it comes to spending time in the kitchen, I asked Candice and Jeffrey how it works out for them. She says that while she doesn’t always listen to music when she cooks, she does love having it on most of the time. “My husband is a really big vinyl buff, and we have a great record player that is just outside of the kitchen entry. I think vinyl is the only way to listen to music while you cook. If I’m baking (it’s my “escape” activity), I’ll put on something kind of lush and thoughtful, like Bat for Lashes or The National. If I’m prepping to have people over, it will probably be something more like Cut Copy to get me psyched and in a good mood. And for whatever reason, old school classics from the late 70s/early 80s like David Bowie or Talking Heads seem to be what I reach for if I’m making dinner for just me and Jeff on a weekend evening.”

And in an answer I can certainly understand, I asked Marc if he listens to music while he cooks. His answer? “Constantly. I get twitchy in a quiet house, much to my partner’s dismay.”

Next I asked my fellow music lovers if they thought food has its own soundtrack. Does jazz equal a free-form recipe, while a well-structured classical tune might represent a difficult pastry? Do they tie certain recipes and certain tunes together?

Sabrina said “Oh definitely.  I am in love with pastry doughs. When I make pie crust, or biscuits, or other things that involve getting all floury, I love to listen to 1950s women rockabilly, country, and blues. I make these things without modern machines, and I always wear an apron. The music completes the 1950s housewife fantasy. I also use music to inspire my cooking. Maria Callas & I hang when I bring home Spanish ingredients. It’s the Bollywood Channel on Pandora when I’m feeling Indian. The relationship is really symbiotic.”

And our resident critic Jeffrey: “ I think food does have its own soundtrack, but it’s open to interpretation depending upon the person listening/dining. I associate punk rock with New York style pizza, for one, but not everyone might see it that way. A steak might go well with standards or jazz. Burgers pretty much go with everything, though I tend to like hip-hop for barbecue fare.

No matter if it’s the Ramones or REO Speedwagon (c’mon you 80s lovers, don’t pretend you don’t sing them at the top of your lungs!), one category reigns supreme when it comes to Dinner Parties: it’s definitely all that jazz. Sarah was speaking my language when she said “I put on a lot of jazz at dinner parties.  Lovely jazz with a little bit of swing like Ella Fitzgerald, Melody Gardot, Miles Davis, Blossom Dearie, Oscar Peterson Trio. This is what I listen to especially when its just me cooking. For dinner parties I like to sneak in some electro jazz and there are some great Brazilian artists that have some good groove like Ceu, Seu Jorge, Bebel Gilberto, and Rosalia de Souza, just to name a few. Other artists with some groove are St. Germain, Koop, Feist, verve remixed series, and Nicola Conte.  And for quieter tunes I have several albums I love like Chet Baker Jazz in Paris, Blossom Dearie Jazz in Paris, Peggy Lee Trav’lin Light,  Nat King Cole The Essentials, and Stacey Kent Raconte-moi. Really quiet is Gonzales Solo Piano.”

Ah, Solo Piano. One of my favorites from Gonzales, Sarah!

And Jeffrey’s thoughts on when things don’t always work?

“Generally speaking, right off the bat, certain genres or styles are probably automatically disqualified just because they don’t lend themselves well to a social gathering. I love ambient/glitch stuff like Fennesz and Tim Hecker, but that’s really something better suited to headphones and solitude. Plus abrasive stuff like Swans that will make your guests uncomfortable, and a lot of metal would be inappropriate. That said, it’s not entirely out of the question… last year we had a housewarming party of sorts and we played some Motorhead, which pleased our guests! Then it comes down to how many guests we’re having over, what kind of meal we’re having, what season it is, etc. A smaller crowd in winter will be more conducive to quieter, low key music, while a summer gathering with more people will be a lot more punk rock. After that I just start dragging in songs to iTunes playlists that I think go well together, that flow and seem to make sense together. It’s really just like making a good mix for someone, and I’ve been doing that since high school, so this just adds an extra element to that.”

I sincerely want to thank my amazing subjects for opening their hearts and heads and answering my questions about music and food. I could talk about this for hours! And thanks to San Pellegrino for inspiring the conversation through their Delicious Moments series! And tell me: what are some of your favorite tunes for dinner parties? I’d love to know!

I’ll take Cookbooks for $200, Alex

It was my sister Angela that texted me first.

“Did you know you were a question on Jeopardy?” she wrote.

Soon after the facebook posts and messages started coming in. Mostly from the other side of the country from friends who were settled in for the night and enjoying some gameshow tv time.

“What the hell!?” I thought. There’s been a mistake. I don’t get it. It must be someone else, it could happen. So I waited for the Jeopardy broadcast here on the west coast and there it was.

Under the cookbook categories in all its glory.

Mr. Trebek pronounced it correctly. Hallelujah.

The answer…

And Drew got it! On A Stick!  That’s why he is this week’s big winner, after all.

Oh life, you are really really funny that way.

Big thanks to my editor Margaret McGuire at Quirk for helping me enter Pop Culture via a giant blue flashcard. You rock. Really you do.

Delicious Conversations: Cooking With Someone You Love

This post is part of an ongoing discussion sponsored by San Pellegrino and their “delicious conversations” series as seen through the lens of food. I chose to participate because the idea of delicious moments with friends and family and food conversations that generate chatter interest me. Plus I was able to pick the topic and interview some of my favorite people. For my first post I’ve decided to write about something I hold close and dear – cooking with someone you love.

 

As a guy who has always known his way around a kitchen and been comfortable cooking at an early age, I’ve always known importance of cooking for myself. Spending my early 20’s in Chicago and then San Francisco, I didn’t always have the means to dine out daily and found the simple act of cooking for myself or roommates necessary. Soon the necessity became a pleasure as my access to stellar ingredients and unique global flavors incorporated themselves into my cooking.  I felt like a whole new world opened up to me, thanks much in part to the abundance of California fruits and vegetables and the numerous farmers’ markets practically in my backyard.

No matter how enjoyable I found cooking for myself, it really wasn’t until I hitched up with my better half and found myself with more space and resources (who says getting old always has to suck?) as well as the ability to step back and take my time with cooking. While this may seem like a luxury (All! That! Time! To! Cook!), it wasn’t necessarily so; it was a mandate, a requirement that bettered my relationship, my palate and my pocketbook – not to mention my soul.

So what is it specifically about cooking with someone you love that I, well, love? For starters, togetherness. In an era where we spend time commuting and computing (neither with much actual face time, I’ll add), being in the kitchen together unites us emotionally and physically. Hey, we have to eat, we have to cook, why not do it together? And as any cook will tell you, there are those moments where you’re so focused on the food that it’s easy to let the stress of the day take a backseat for just a moment. In our case, cooking means music & wine (sometimes more wine than music, if I’m being honest), and the act of putting food on the table isn’t a chore as much as a moment of therapy and reflection.

When we are in the kitchen together it just feels right. We file into our respective roles: me doing prep, clean-up and side dishes, the food stylist doing the main. However, if we’re talking pizza or grilling I usually step up to the plate, leaving more nuanced things like the precise world of baking to someone who actually reads measurements. Don’t look at me.

All in all, we have our routine. It works and usually yields some delicious results. But don’t assume all is glittery and happy in Kitchenville; we still have our disagreements but remarkably they never happen when we’re cooking together. Thank goodness considering there are fires and knives, that’s all I’m sayin’.

I decided to ask my neighbors, the lovely Wade and Brittany (that’s them up above), what it’s like when they cook together. As some of our most dearest friends, we’ve bonded over meals, cooked together, dined out, gabbed over ingredients and forged a wonderful friendship with two super cool peeps. I knew they cooked together several nights a week, but I wanted to find out why.

“Because we have to and our place is really small!” Wade said. “And also because we enjoy spending time together. He loves to cook, I love to eat” added Brittany, zeroing in on exactly what motivates me to cook with my partner. I imagine it’s also what motivates others.

“I cook every day,” he says,  “and because I’m health conscious and it’s hard to eat out everyday. And also I can use fresh ingredients. You can go out and spend lots of money on a meal that can disappoint. I can cook much better than many of the meals I’ll eat in a restaurant. But when we cook together, well, it’s beneficial because we both share a love of healthy eating and spending time together.”

I asked them if there’s a certain flow when they are in the kitchen together, and after a Lucille Ball joke made by Wade and a slap on his arm from his wife, I learned that they have certain tasks but that it all depends on the meal.

While a quick glimpse into their world showed me how similar we are, I decided to call in the big guns – my parents – who are celebrating 50 years of marriage this year. As food lovers, excellent cooks and the people who taught me to cook, I knew they’d be able to provide some insight as to what they get out of cooking together.

“We are together, for one thing. And we work well together and enjoy each other’s company” my dad says while my mom echoes his words.

“Plus I get to kiss your mother whenever I feel like it,” he adds.

I sure hope cooking, living and laughing together is the recipe for a life of happiness. I’m looking forward to 50 years with Adam…and then some!

 Ok folks, so let me ask you: do you cook with your wife/husband/bf or gf/significant other? What do you get out of it? Or must you make them go far away when you’re in the zone? I’d love to know.

Spicy Curry Butternut Squash

I’m not going to do that apology thing that us bloggers usually do. You know what I mean (because I’ve done it a million times before):

 “So sorry I haven’t written/blogged/posted! I’ve been so inundated with work/family/my book/intergalactic atomic particle transportation/etc.” No, I’m not going to say that. I am going to own up to the fact that I haven’t been blogging much and I’m pretty sure this will explain why.

 

Yea, I’ve been on the road. And there aren’t enough hashtags in the world to explain why. I’m looking forward to being in Los Angeles, happy enough to celebrate the holidays at home. Just as long as my Australian jet lag wears off.

Much more on that later!

Australia, I mean. Not my jetlag.

I came home to Adam testing recipes for one of his favorite clients. When recipes are tested at home, Matt Armendariz gets happy. I get to eat all the things Adam makes and honestly they’re always delicious. Sometimes a bit mixmatchy if he’s testing different things altogether but who’s complaining? Not me. As it turns out, he had leftover butternut squash, a bowl of jalapeños and a few onions. Things got chopped up, tossed with some Spice Islands Curry Powder (the folks at SI are my friends so I’m going to plug them as much as possible!) and salt, then roasted.

And it was such a delightful simple side that I forced asked him to write a recipe for me so we could share it. Because honestly, it’s a very easy simple side that I can imagine will be wonderful with roasted chicken, roasted meat, pork chops, some sausages, just about anything full-flavored enough to pair with the curry sweetness. I think the secret ingredient is roasted jalapeños; they become soft and sweet until the heat kicks in. And it’s delightful.

This is now one of my new favorite things to eat!

 Spicy Curry Butternut Squash with Roasted Jalapeños

2 lbs butternut squash cut into 1-inch cubes
4 jalapeños cut in half and seeded
1 large sweet onion cut into 1/8ths
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon Spice Islands Spicy Curry Powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper

1. Pre-heat oven to 425˚.  Place butternut squash, jalapeños and onion in a large mixing bowl and drizzle them with olive oil,  tossing to coat. Sprinkle curry powder and salt and pepper and toss to coat.

2. Place on baking sheet and roast in oven for 30-45 minutes, until soft and caramelized. stirring halfway through.  Remove from oven and serve hot.

P.S. I posted this on Facebook but wanted to share it here. The perils of photographing at home and not the studio! (by the way, Bindi is our 3 lb dog)