Happy Autumn!

A gentle October breeze, a cozy barn in the Santa Barbara foothills... long plank tables, hay bale seating, soft folk melody playing in the background and the smell of sweet and savory spices cooking, was the back drop to our Harvest dinner. Lots of friends all gathered excitedly at the table for a five course meal... me included. We had planned multiple courses infused with chocolate notes. Being a truffle workshop it seemed likely a lovely tie in. However, I had no idea how our chefs Nicole Hernandez and David Eng would pull it together for us! Braised Short Ribs with Chocolate and Rosemary, Sweet Potatoes, Andouille Sausage Soup, Butternut Squash Pasta with Sage over Linguini with Chocolate Dust and a lovely light little Salad with a Chocolate Vinaigrette Dressing. INCREDIBLE... oh and my personal favorite, the Roasted Grape Crostini appetizer! I ate wayyyy too many!

As the evening came to a close our guests asked us to share these delectable recipes with them and as promised dear friends, here are a couple to get you started. We will follow with more recipes next week, along with a few more photos from our dinner. Enjoy and Happy Autumn to one and all!

Roasted Grape Crostini 

2 cups of Seedless Grapes (more depending on how many to serve)
3 - 4 TBSP Olive Oil, plus extra to drizzle on bread
Pyramid Salt
1 - 2 tsp Honey
sprigs of fresh Thyme (or ½ tsp dried Thyme)
2 cups of fresh Ricotta Cheese
French Baguette cut into ½ inch slices

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 450 F. Drizzle 1 tablespoons of Olive Oil on baking sheet.
  2. Remove Grapes from stems and place on prepared baking sheet.
  3. Drizzle remaining Olive Oil over Grapes and sprinkle with a pinch of Salt.
  4. Roast Grapes in the middle of the preheated oven for about 12 - 18 minutes or until soft to touch.
  5. In the meantime, prepare ½ inch bread slices.
  6. Lightly drizzle with Olive Oil on one side.
  7. In a Panini press (or on a grill), toast bread on medium heat until golden marks are formed and it is perfectly toasted to your liking on both sides.
  8. By now the grapes should be ready. Remove from oven to cool for a minute.
  9. Mix a teaspoon of honey into 2 cups of ricotta cheese
  10. Now assemble your Crostini.
  11. With the olive oil side of toast, top with 1 - 2 tablespoons of Ricotta Cheese. Top with a spoonful or two of the Roasted Grapes sprinkle with pyramid salt and fresh thyme leaves.
  12. Serve immediately while warm.

Butternut Squash Pasta with Sage over Linguini with Chocolate Dust

1 large butternut squash, about 1 1/2 pounds
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 shallots, minced
Salt and pepper
1 bay leaf
Pinch ground nutmeg
6 fresh sage leaves, cut in thin strips
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup freshly grated or shaved Pecorino Romano
Chopped walnuts, for garnish
Grated dark chocolate bar for dusting

Directions

  1. Cut the butternut squash in half lengthwise to remove the seeds and strings. Peel the skin using a paring knife and cut the squash into small cubes.
  2. Place the olive oil and shallots in a deep skillet over medium heat. When the shallots begin to color, add the squash and season with salt and pepper. Saute a few minutes to lightly caramelize the surface of the cubes. Add the bay leaf, nutmeg, sage, and chicken broth. Cover the pan and cook until the squash is tender but still holding its shape, about 8 minutes.
  3. Puree the sauce with a standard or immersion blender and serve with potato gnocchi. Top with grated cheese and chopped walnuts and grated dark chocolate dust before serving.