Chef and cookbook author Curtis Stone joined the ladies for The Talk Food Festival. He made a delicious salad and also whipped up some sweet treats from his cookbook, "What's For Dinner?" Here are the recipes.
Fennel-Roasted Chicken and Winter Squash with Endive-Apple Salad
The aromas from this dish—roasting chicken, with sweetness from the squash—evoke autumn. It just smells like a comforting and indulgent family dinner from my childhood. With those memories in mind, I created this main-course salad with its pleasing mix of bitter, crunchy, and sweet by pairing roasted kabocha with endives and apples. Part of eating well is experimenting with new choices to expand your horizons.
Chicken and Squash:
8 chicken thighs (with skin and bones)
2 tablespoons fennel seeds, coarsely crushed (use a mortar and pestle or crush under a heavy skillet)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 small or 1/2 large kabocha or acorn squash (about 2 1/4 pounds), halved if whole, seeded, and cut into 1-inch-wide wedges
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
3 tablespoons minced shallots
2 tablespoons honey (for vegan: substitute with agave nectar or pure maple syrup)
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh tarragon
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 ounces Belgian endive (about 2 heads)
5 ounces baby arugula (about 8 cups not packed)
1 Fuji or Gala apple, cored and very thinly sliced
3/4 cup walnuts, toasted and very coarsely chopped
3/4 cup coarsely crumbled blue cheese
To roast the chicken and squash:
Preheat the oven to 450°F.
On a large heavy baking sheet, toss the chicken with 1 tablespoon of the fennel seeds to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Arrange the chicken pieces well apart on the baking sheet. Roast the chicken on the bottom shelf of the oven for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, on another large heavy baking sheet, toss the squash with the olive oil and the remaining 1 tablespoon fennel seeds to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Arrange the squash in a single layer on the baking sheet.
Move the chicken to the top shelf of the oven and place the squash on the bottom shelf. Roast for about 25 minutes, or until the squash is tender and the undersides are deep golden brown and the chicken shows no sign of pink when pierced at the bone with the tip of a small sharp knife.
Meanwhile, make the vinaigrette:
In a medium bowl, whisk the vinegar, shallots, honey, mustard, and tarragon until blended. Whisk in the olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
To assemble the salad and serve:
Remove hard cores from the endive. Cut the small leaves in half lengthwise, and quarter the large leaves lengthwise. In a large bowl, toss the endive, arugula, and apple slices with about half of the vinaigrette. Divide the salad among four dinner plates. Top each with 2 chicken thighs and some squash, and sprinkle with the walnuts and blue cheese. Drizzle the remaining vinaigrette over and around the salads and serve immediately.
Vegan Serving Variation:
Omit the chicken and increase the squash and walnuts slightly. Add cooked quinoa.
Omit the blue cheese.
Replace the honey with agave nectar or pure maple syrup
1 1/2 cups quinoa
In a large heavy saucepan, bring 3 cups of water, the quinoa, and a 1/2 teaspoon of salt to a boil over medium-high heat. Cover, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer 14 minutes, or until the water is absorbed and the quinoa is tender. Serve warm.
Cinnamon Rice Milk (Horchata)
Horchata is a cool and refreshing Mexican beverage, made easily and economically from pantry ingredients. It's the perfect drink to tame the heat of spicy foods, but I love it with just about anything, anytime. This makes a large amount, but it is a treat to have in the refrigerator. See the variation for a truly amazing coffee-flavored cocktail version.
2 1/2 cups long-grain white rice
1 large cinnamon stick, broken in half
One 12-ounce can evaporated skim milk
One 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
In a medium saucepan, bring 4 cups water to a boil over high heat, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the rice. Set aside for about 30 minutes, or until the rice softens slightly (it will still be crunchy). Drain the rice in a fine-mesh sieve.
In a blender, combine 1 cup of the soaked rice, a cinnamon stick half, and 4 cups cold water and blend until the water becomes milky and the rice has dissolved. Strain the rice mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a large glass or stainless steel bowl. Repeat two times with the remaining rice, using 3 cups water for each batch and adding the remaining cinnamon stick to the second batch. Stir the evaporated milk, condensed milk, and vanilla into the rice mixture. Cover and refrigerate for about 2 hours, or until the mixture is cold and a thick rice sediment has settled on the bottom of the bowl.
Slowly pour the mixture into a pitcher, leaving the rice sediment behind. You should have about 8 cups (discard the rice sediment). To serve, pour into ice-filled tall glasses.
Variation: Horchata and Rum and Coffee Liqueur Cocktails
For each cocktail, fill a cocktail shaker halfway with ice. Add 1/2 cup of the cinnamon rice milk and 2 tablespoons of a rum and coffee liqueur. Shake the mixture vigorously. Strain into an ice-filled old-fashioned glass. Grate a little orange zest on top and serve immediately, while the milk is still frothy.
Chocolate Bread Pudding
Bread may be a humble ingredient, but it doesn't take much to turn it into something special.
Whenever I have extra bread around I know this dessert is in my future. Feel free to use chocolate chips instead of chopped chocolate. This is at its best when warm.
2½ cups heavy cream
1¼ cups whole milk
1¼ cups packed light brown sugar
5 large eggs
1½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 pound day-old French or Italian bread, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 12 cups)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
In a large bowl, whisk the cream, milk, brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla together. Add the bread and gently stir to coat well. Set aside for about 20 minutes to allow the bread to soften and soak up some of the egg mixture.
Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Coat a 13 × 9 × 2-inch oval baking dish with the butter.
Fold the chocolate into the bread mixture. Transfer to the prepared baking dish and sprinkle with the granulated sugar. Bake for about 50 minutes, or until the pudding puffs and is golden brown on top but still moist inside. Cool slightly before serving.