Cheesy Baked Spaghetti Squash

baked spaghetti squash 2 Cheesy Baked Spaghetti Squash

I feel like spaghetti squash might be the new kale.

I forgot how cool it is to pull the tightly knit strands apart with a fork into a mess of veggie noodles in a bowl you can compost afterwards. If you're the sort who, like me, loves squash roasted with butter and eaten straight from its shell even when it's not Thanksgiving, let this serve as a reminder that spaghetti squash is easier to eat with one hand than any of its cousins. If I was a real-life Bridget Jones - single, working late and eating on the couch in my PJs, I imagine half a roasted spaghetti squash would be in heavy rotation. When I wasn't eating Nutella straight from the jar.

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But look! Not only is it delicious as a vehicle for butter (and Parmesan cheese! oh yes), it can transport any number of pasta ingredients. Right now, the Pinteresty thing to do is turn it into a lasagna by spreading the bottom with ricotta and layering on a meaty tomato sauce and grated cheese. But you can’t really call it lasagna without the requisite flat noodles, can you? I wanted to do meatballs, but absentmindedly dumped the ground bison into the pan and broke it up with a spoon. And so after roasting the squash halves (scoop out the seeds, rub them with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper, then roast at 375F for about half an hour – or just pop them in the microwave) I filled them with a chunky meat sauce – the type I’d normally pile on pasta.

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Then covered the lot with grated cheese and slid them back into the oven to get all bubbly and melty. That’s it. No need for measurements here, so I won’t burden you with a recipe. Just pretend you have a shallow bowl of pasta and do with it what you will – then smother it with cheese and bake it.

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And the cheese will help hold everything together on your fork while you eat it curled up with pillows on the couch in front of the TV. Even if you’re not Bridget Jones.

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October 21 2014 | one dish | 7 Comments »

Empress Scones

Empress Collage Empress Scones

The Fairmont Empress on the inner harbour in downtown Victoria is always stunningly beautiful – but it’s even more so in the fall, when the ivy-covered walls begin to change colour.

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The Empress hosted the launch of In the Dog Kitchen yesterday with a tea paw-tea for dogs and their owners; it was a blast, albeit a rainy one. We had dog treats (Elvis’ bacon & peanut butter cakes! Turkey dinner doggie biscotti! Grrrranola bars!) made by the chef, and a photo booth with a wee replica of the Empress and little dog-sized fascinators, pearls, mink stoles, bow ties and vests for them to dress up with. So much fun. (My new iPhone won’t let me send photos from my phone to my computer to post here, but you can see all the evidence and hilarity on my twitter feed.)

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I love the big Fraggle Rock-esque trees on the front lawn.

Empress Collage Empress Scones

And what else do you do at the Empress in the afternoon but have high tea?

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Tea with milk, egg salad on tiny croissants, scones with strawberry jam and clotted cream.

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If you can’t find your own clotted cream (it’s difficult to find, and expensive for those tiny jars) you can make your own – but I prefer defaulting to crème fraîche, which is far easier to make.

jam cream Empress Scones

You’ll need a starter – buttermilk or good quality plain yogurt. Stir a heaping tablespoonful of it into 2 cups of heavy (whipping) cream, stir well, pour into a glass jar, cover with a lid and let it sit in a warm spot on the countertop overnight. That’s it. After 12-24 hours, it will have thickened into this wonderful, slightly tangy crème fraîche which you can serve right away or refrigerate until you need it.

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And if you can’t make it to the Empress, here’s the recipe for their famous scones.

Fairmont Empress High Tea Scones

4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 cup butter
3 Tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
3/4 cup raisins
4 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups heavy whipping cream

Preheat the oven to 350F.

In a large bowl, rub together (they say “crumb”) the flour, butter, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add the eggs, raisins and cream, and mix until you have a smooth dough.

Roll out to one-half inch thickness and cut to desired size, brush with an egg wash (an egg beaten with a little water – this is optional – and you could always brush the tops with cream instead) and bake for 25-30 minutes.

Makes lots.

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October 16 2014 | bread and breakfast | 11 Comments »

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