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butternut pastry
Butternut Squash and Mushroom Tart

pasta smoked salmon
Smoked Salmon Pasta

Hot Spinach Salad

Menu Plan for the week of Sept. 20, 2013: Friday's Recipes

Butternut Squash and Mushroom Tart
Smoked Salmon Pasta
Hot Spinach Salad

Cooking time:  45 minutes for menu          Cooking schedule: see below for instructions

     There is a little bit of work for the starter (it's worth it) but the rest of the menu is easy, last minute cooking. Save a bit of the crème fraiche to garnish the soup on Saturday. You should be able to get the circles out of half of the puff pastry sheet. Wrap and refrigerate the other half for next week.

Butternut Squash and Mushroom Tart           Preparation and cooking time:  40 minutes
   I used the 'neck' end of a 2lb (1 kilo) squash for these.  It gave me nice, thin half circles that followed the shape of the pastry perfectly.  The toasted walnuts add crunch and make an elegant finish.

butternut squash, 24 thins half circle slices
1/4 cup (.75oz, 20gr) walnuts, halves or large pieces
5 - 6 medium mushrooms, about 2oz (60gr) forest or wild, if possible
1 medium leek
1/4 cup (2oz, 60gr) ricotta
1/2 tsp rosemary
2 tsp olive oil
2 tsp butter
1/2 sheet puff pastry, wrap and refrigerate the other half - if there is a second sheet, freeze it  Puff pastry can be refrozen twice

Pastry:  Thaw the puff pastry, if needed.  Lay pastry out flat and cut 2 large circles, 5 - 6" in diameter (13 - 15 cm).  Use a soup bowl as a guide.  Lay the circles on a baking sheet.  With a dull knife, lightly score a line about 1/3" (1cm) inside the edge of the pastry.  It helps the edges to raise.
Vegetables:  Clean and thinly slice leek.  Use about 4 inches (10cm) of leek.  Clean and slice mushrooms.  Peel  squash using vegetable peeler or sharp knife.  Cut off the neck end as close to the round end as possible.  Cut the round end in half and clean out seeds.  Wrap in film and refrigerate.  Cut the neck end in half the long way (through stem).  Lay one half flat and cut 24 paper thin slices (half circles).  I used just less than 3" (7.5cm) for all 24 slices. Wrap and refrigerate the rest. 
Heat butter and oil in medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add walnuts and sauté 5 minutes, until toasted.  Remove walnuts to a plate, leaving oil and butter behind.  Add mushroom and leeks to same pan and sauté 5 minutes.  Remove mushroom/leek to a plate.  Add butternut squash slices in a single layer and sauté 1 minute per side.  I did it in two batches.  When done remove and stack up on a plate.
To assemble: Divide ricotta and spread on each puff pastry circle to scored line.  Divide rosemary and sprinkle over ricotta.  Divide mushroom/leek and spread over ricotta. Divide squash slices and lay on mushroom/leek in the following pattern: 1 slice each: top, bottom, left, right with corners overlapping as needed but with small square opening in center.  Do a 'mental' 1/4 turn of the pastry and repeat layers; twice.  Bake in a pre-heated oven at 400F (200C) for 12 - 15 minutes, until sides of pastry have puffed around middle and are golden brown and squash is starting to brown.  Remove.  Divide walnuts and spoon into center of squash.  Serve.

Smoked Salmon Pasta                                        Preparation and cooking time:   30 minutes
    I use crème fraiche for this.  You can substitute sour cream if you like - it will be a bit more tart; or heavy cream  - it will be a bit higher in calories.

1 1/4 cups dried pasta
3 shallots
1 tbs olive oil
4 tbs white wine
3 tbs fresh lemon juice, about 1 small lemon
3/4 cup (6oz, 180gr) crème fraiche or Greek yogurt
2 tsp dill weed 
6oz (180gr) smoked salmon, (the moist kind: Irish or Scottish)

Cook pasta according to package directions.  Drain.
Thinly slice shallots and sauté in oil until tender.  Add wine and simmer until reduced by half.  Stir in crème fraiche and heat through. Squeeze lemon.  Slice salmon into strips.  Add 3/4 of the salmon, dill and lemon juice to the crème fraiche. Heat through but do not let boil. 
Add pasta and toss well to combine. Put it into a serving bowl, garnish with reserved salmon and serve.

Hot Spinach Salad                                                     Preparation and cooking time: 10 minutes
This is a cross between a salad and a vegetable.  I've added a bit of bacon to it but you can leave it out for a vegetarian version.  Be careful to cook the spinach for a just a minute, only to wilt slightly.

6oz (180gr) fresh spinach
2 slices bacon, 1oz (30gr)
1 tsp dried thyme
2 tbs good olive oil
1 tbs Balsamic vinegar
1 tsp sugar
salt - sea salt is nice, and pepper   optional

Cut bacon into matchsticks.  Wash and stem spinach if needed.  Drain in a colander.  If you don't feel you need to wash it - do it anyway.  We want a little bit of water on the leaves - what ever is left on the leaves after draining well.  Cut any really large leaves. 
Heat oil over medium high heat in large nonstick skillet.  Add bacon and sauté until crisp.  Add vinegar, thyme, sugar and heat through.  Add spinach and quickly stir-fry, 1 minute.  The spinach should just start to wilt.  Remove, sprinkle with salt, pepper and serve.

Cooking Schedule: 45 minutes
Assemble all food, utensils and serving dishes
Utensils: measuring cups, spoons, knives,
medium skillet (used 2X), large skillet, pot and
colander for pasta, baking sheet

Turn oven on, 400F (200C)
Thaw puff pastry if needed
Peel, cut and clean butternut squash
Cut 24 thin slices
Wrap and refrigerate the rest of the squash
Clean leek, slice
Clean, mushrooms, slice
Put water on high heat for pasta
Sauté walnuts in medium skillet
Peel shallots, thinly slice
Wash, stem spinach, cut as needed
Remove walnuts, add leeks and mushrooms, sauté
Cut bacon, slice salmon
Cut out puff pastry circles, score
Remove leeks and mushrooms, sauté squash slices
Remove squash slices
Sauté shallots in large skillet

Spread ricotta on pastry; sprinkle with rosemary
Assemble pastries, bake
Cook pasta
Sauté bacon in medium skillet
Add wine to shallots, reduce
Squeeze lemon
     Pause while stuff cooks
Remove bacon from heat
Remove wine / shallots from heat
Remove pastries
Drain pasta, set aside
Put pastries on plates, garnish with walnuts, serve
Reheat skillet with shallots
Reheat skillet with bacon
Stir crème fraiche into shallots, heat through
Add pasta to shallots, heat through
Add vinegar, thyme, sugar to bacon
Add 3/4 salmon, lemon, dill to pasta, stir to combine
Add spinach to bacon, stir-fry, put into bowl
Put pasta into bowl, garnish with remaining salmon

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