Monthly Archives: January 2014

Banana French Toast With Streusel Topping

DSC_4409It was inevitable.  I finally contracted the winter cold/flu that’s been going around.  I forgot how much an illness can really put you out of commission.  I might actually make it out of my pajamas today, but don’t hold me to it.  Besides the usual muscle aches, chills, and runny nose, I’ve also had a nice low-grade headache for the past few days.  It’s all very manageable as long as I allow myself to lay down every few hours and regroup.  The one plus side to all this is that I’ve noticed my brain has cut me some slack.  Things appear to have slowed down the last few days.  My anxiety has quietly tiptoed out the door for the time being, and I don’t feel nearly as distracted as I usually do.  Have you ever juiced or fasted for several days?  If I remember correctly, the same feeling envelops you when you partake in a multi-day cleanse; it’s almost trance-like.  Of course, I’m also very low energy, so there’s that.  But this illness-induced-Zen-state feels kind of refreshing (if you don’t count the constant nose-blowing).  Being as that January is my least favorite month, this isn’t a bad way to go out.  But let’s not kid ourselves, I eagerly await February’s arrival.
DSC_4390I’m not nearly as obsessed with French toast as I am with pancakes However, I do still enjoy French toast, albeit usually stuffed or topped with something.  In other words, it needs a lot of bells and whistles in order for me to enjoy it.  I once made a cranberry cream cheese-stuffed French toast on Christmas morning.  It was rich and decadent, and received my stamp of approval.  I dug around for a recipe that was similar to the phenomenal banana-stuffed French toast I used to always order at Zoë in SoHo.  The restaurant is long gone, but that French toast would cause me to roll my eyes and moan with every bite.
DSC_4398Of course, you can swap out the bananas for your favorite fruit, but I think bananas pair really well with French toast.  And the caramelization that you get on the bananas is key.  If you’re feeling festive, add a splash of rum to the bananas when you caramelize them.  This will enhance the flavor.  Likewise, if you don’t have almonds on hand, you can always use pecans, hazelnuts, etc.  In fact, I think pecans might be a better pairing with this dish.  Let me know if you try it!
DSC_4400Banana French Toast With Streusel Topping
Adapted from Bon Appétit

Yield:  6 servings

2 tablespoons plus 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
2 tablespoons plus 1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons water
2 large ripe bananas, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch-thick rounds
1 1-pound unsliced loaf egg bread, ends trimmed, bread cut into 6 slices (each about 1-1/2 inches thick)
2 cups milk (do not use low-fat or nonfat)
6 large eggs
2-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1-1/2 cups thinly sliced almonds, toasted
1/4 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1/4 cup quick-cooking oats
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1.  Melt 2 tablespoons butter in heavy large skillet over medium heat.  Add 2 tablespoons sugar and 2 tablespoons water and stir until sugar dissolves.  Continue stirring until mixture is foamy, about 2 minutes.
2.  Add bananas; cook until tender, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes.  Transfer to small bowl; cool.  (Can be prepared 4 hours ahead.  Cover and chill.)
3.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Whisk milk, eggs, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, vanilla and 1/2 cup sugar in large bowl to blend.
4.  Pour into large glass baking dish.  Place bread in egg mixture; let soak 10 minutes, turning occasionally.
5.  Place almonds in shallow bowl.  Carefully remove bread from egg mixture and coat both sides with almonds.  Place bread on heavy large baking sheet.
6.  Place cooled, sliced bananas on top of bread slices.
7.  Mix brown sugar, oats, flour and remaining 2 teaspoons cinnamon in medium bowl.  Add remaining 1/4 cup butter and rub in, using fingertips, until moist clumps form.  Sprinkle topping over bread.
8.  Bake French toast until topping is golden brown and filling is hot, about 25 minutes.  Transfer toast to plates.  Serve hot with maple syrup.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Mushrooms with Sage Polenta

DSC_4356It’s official:  I have been watching too much television lately.  I usually hunker down for the winter, staying indoors even more than usual, and my television viewing increases by default.  However, in the past I would listen to music or a podcast when in the kitchen.  But I have recently taken to watching non-stop episodes of Chopped.  I am obsessed.  And with the fast-forwarding function of our DVR, I’ve discovered that you can watch an episode in all of 40 minutes!  But all of that fast-forwarding has affected my brain:  I woke up this morning with a pounding headache and before I opened my eyes, all I could see were a million images flashing before me like my brain was on automatic fast-forward.  I tried using a meditation technique of calming my mind and focusing on my breathing, hoping that that would make it go away.  It didn’t stop.  The only way I could get the flashing images to stop was to open my eyes.  It was 4:30 a.m.  I was too tired to read so I got out of bed and decided to turn on, you guessed it, another episode of Chopped.  Is this what it feels like to be a drug addict??  And yes, I am comparing heroine to television.

By the time my husband woke up, my headache had receded.  As I robotically made my Dunn Bros. coffee, I told him I needed to try abstaining from technology for a day, or maybe just television.  I need to start meditating again, at the very least to counterbalance all of the constant information being absorbed by my brain via the television, internet, social media, etc.  Well, readers, I will have you know that it is 4:45 p.m. and I have not turned the television on all day!  This feels like such an accomplishment.  (Is this what it feels like to get old?)  Of course, when my husband arrives home tonight we will go through our usual routine of watching an episode of Jeopardy.  He is, after all, practicing to be a contestant (and champion) one day in the near future.  He is going to be the first person to beat Ken Jennings’ record!!  And I’ll be in the audience cheering him on.
DSCF2902 I don’t think polenta gets enough love.  I think of it as a poor man’s risotto, but I love it, nonetheless.  In the past, I’d only eaten it with meat or fish.  But this recipe with roasted Brussels sprouts and mushrooms sounded perfect for a cold winter day.  The polenta itself is combined with parmigiano-reggiano cheese and sage, which gives it a nice earthy flavor.  I actually whipped this dish up for lunch; it came together in no time at all.  You can substitute your favorite vegetables if you aren’t a fan of Brussels sprouts, but try to leave the mushrooms in if you can—they add a nice umami flavor to the dish.

Stay warm out there, East Coasters!
DSC_4338Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Mushrooms with Sage Polenta
Adapted from Oh My Veggies

Yield:  4 servings

1 lb. Brussels sprouts, trimmed and quartered
4 oz. crimini mushrooms
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
4 cups water
1 cup instant polenta
3/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese, divided
1/4 cup chopped fresh sage

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
2.  Toss the Brussels sprouts and mushrooms in a bowl with the olive oil, salt and pepper.
3.  Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet and bake for about 20 minutes.
4.  While the veggies are roasting, bring water to a boil in a large saucepan.  Reduce the heat to low and slowly whisk in the polenta.  Continue to whisk constantly until the polenta is thickened, about 3 minutes.
5.  Remove from heat and stir in 1/2 cup of Parmesan, sage, and salt and pepper to taste.
6.  Divide the polenta into 4 bowls and top each with 1/4 of the roasted vegetables and 1 tablespoon of Parmesan cheese.

Chocolate Cream Pie

DSC_4180Last week, the family I used to nanny for invited Mr. K and I over to dinner.  They have two sweet and bright young boys that I am extremely fond of, and it had been almost a year since I saw them last.  I started as their nanny when the boys were 6 months and 3-1/2 years old, respectively.  I worked for them for almost two years, and over the course of those two years I came to view them as my extended family.  The 6-month old is now almost 6 YEARS old.  He has independent thoughts and asks questions like, “Can you come back over again tomorrow?” and “Do you have a baby yet?”  Of course, with the latter comment, I just smile awkwardly and say, “Let’s draw something together!”  I also have great affection for the boys’ parents.  They both have extremely stressful jobs and yet give themselves tirelessly to their kids whenever they have a free moment.  The mother, in particular, is a woman whom I have much respect for.  I learned a plethora of things from talking to her and observing her as a mother.
DSC_4158I was reluctant to become a nanny, but I had a hard time finding a job after graduate school and so I took the position.  Whenever someone asks me about my experience as a nanny, I always respond that it’s a lot harder than it looks.  I gained much more respect for parents in general as well as for child-care workers.  But another thing happened.  By becoming part of this family and seeing a different style of parenting from the way I was raised, it helped heal the wounds I had leftover from my upbringing.  I had always been fearful that I wouldn’t be a good mother and therefore had no interest in having children.  At the end of the two years, I left the position knowing, feeling, that I was a changed person.  For the first time in my life, I saw that being a parent could be an enriching experience.
DSC_4148I volunteered to bring dessert to dinner last week.  I wanted to make something somewhat whimsical that the boy’s might like as well.  Cupcakes were out of the question (I am about as anti-cupcake as they come, unless they are the heavenly cupcakes from Broadway Baker).  This Chocolate Cream Pie sounded delicious and as my readers know, I am a sucker for all things chocolate.  If you’ve never made a cream pie before, this is a straightforward recipe to start with.  Most cream pies have three separate components and this one is no different:  a crust, filling (or pudding), and whipped topping.  I didn’t have any whole milk on hand, so I substituted 1/2 almond milk and 1/2 heavy cream and it worked just fine.  This recipe will satisfy any chocolate lover.  The coarse sea salt sprinkled on top not only prevents the pie from being too sweet, but deepens the flavor of the overall chocolate.
DSC_4170Chocolate Pudding Pie
Adapted from Gourmet

Yield:  Makes 8 to 10 servings

For crust
1-1/3 cups chocolate wafer crumbs (I scraped out the filling of OREOs and used the wafer cookies)
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup sugar
pinch of salt

For filling
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 large egg yolks
3 cups whole milk
5 oz. bittersweet chocolate, melted
2 oz. unsweetened chocolate, melted
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla

For topping
3/4 cup chilled heavy cream
1 tablespoon sugar

1.  Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.  Stir together crumbs, butter, sugar and salt and press on bottom and up the side of a 9-inch pie pan.  Bake until crisp, about 15 minutes, and cool on a rack.
3.  Whisk together sugar, cornstarch, salt and yolks in a 3-quart heavy saucepan until combined well, then slowly add milk, whisking continuously.  Bring to a boil over moderate heat, continue whisking, then reduce heat and simmer (continuing to whisk) for one minute.  Filling will be thick.
4.  Force filling through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, then whisk in chocolates, butter and vanilla.  Cover surface of filling with a buttered round of wax paper and cool completely, about 2 hours.
5.  Spoon filling into crust and chill pie, loosely covered, at least 6 hours.
6.  Just before serving, beat cream with sugar in a bowl using an electric mixer until it just holds stiff peaks, then spoon on top of pie.
7.  Using a fine-mesh sieve, sift 1 tablespoon of cocoa powder over whipped cream.
8.  Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon of fleur de sel over pie (optional).

Chicken Baked With Lentils

DSC_4134I always kid that I was born with protective chromosomes.  They work hard to prevent me from becoming an alcoholic.  I have Irish ancestry, and while I hate the “drunk Irish” stereotyping, there were a few alcoholics in my extended family growing up.  Surprisingly, or maybe not surprisingly, I avoided alcohol all throughout my high school years.  I drank my first official beer on a class trip to Munich, Germany my senior year of high school.  I can still remember the feeling that coursed through my body as the liquid entered my bloodstream.  How did I hold out for so long?!  All your inhibitions go away and you’re left with unfettered joy??  As enjoyable as that first experience was, I still abstained from alcohol for the most part throughout my college years.  This changed a little bit when I studied abroad in England my junior year.  Still, relatively speaking, I was the uptight girl who never really partied.

One of the defining moments of my life was when I was 11 years old.  I was getting ready for school that morning, and my mom came in and sat me down on my bed.  She said she wanted to tell me something before I went to school.  I was probably going to hear about it from other kids and she wanted me to be prepared.  My uncle had been in a fatal car accident over the weekend.  He left a wedding reception intoxicated and got into his car.  He ended up hitting the bride and groom, who were driving in the opposite direction, and the bride died instantly.  One of the details I remember many people always adding whenever this story was told was that the bride was still in her wedding dress.  It just made the whole situation that much more tragic.

After hearing this horrendous story, I immediately felt scared and anxious.  Did this mean my uncle was a bad person?  Will the kids at school blame me for being related to him?  Indeed, there were kids at school who for the next several weeks let me know that my uncle “killed someone” and tried to make me feel worse than I already did about it.  A couple of days after the accident, my dad’s family gathered at my grandparent’s house.   My sister and I stayed at my grandparent’s house while the adult’s went to the hospital to visit my uncle.  I found the plastic bag that contained my uncle’s clothes from the accident.  They were torn and bloody, and I felt the weight of what had happened.  I’ve always wondered how that accident shaped the trajectory of my uncle’s life.  I know it hasn’t been an easy one.

More than anything, this experience framed my decision to not drink alcohol growing up.  When I did start to drink socially in my 20’s, I discovered that I was a lightweight.  What’s more, I always felt awful the next day.   And this was after consuming one or two glasses of wine!  It’s taken me over 10 years to seriously consider abstaining from alcohol completely.  Mainly because even with the physical repercussions that are inevitable the next day, having a glass of wine really does help to tame my anxiety.  Over the last several months, I have gotten better at being in social situations and not having a drink.  I know I will from time to time, but as I get older, I feel so much more grateful for those physical ailments that have restrained my ability to drink too much.

I was in the mood to make a stew over the weekend and this recipe sounded perfect.  Now that I know how easy it is, I can’t believe I’ve never baked chicken thighs before.  I almost always cook with chicken breasts, and I usually end up sautéing them.  But the dark meat just adds so much more flavor and juiciness that you can never get from white meat.  I hereby vow to start cooking with more dark meat chicken for the remainder of the year.  Although this isn’t technically a stew, it’s stew-like in its consistency after you pull it out of the oven.  It has a great rich, umami flavor that is helped along by the dark meat.  The original recipe did not specify which kind of lentils to use, so I used red since that is what I had on hand.  I thought the radicchio would add too much bitterness to the dish but the bitterness is hardly detectable after an hour in the oven.  My husband declared this to be one of the best dishes I’ve ever made.  And that’s high praise coming from him.
DSC_4128Chicken Baked With Lentils
Adapted from The New York Times

Yield:  6-8 servings

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/4 pound bacon, diced
3 lbs. chicken thighs, 6 to 8 pieces
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups finely chopped onions
1/2 cup finely chopped celery, about 1 rib
4 gloves garlic, sliced
2-1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 cups finely chopped radicchio, about 1/2 head, cored
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons minced fresh sage
2 cups lentils
3 cups chicken stock, more if needed

1.  Heat oil in a 4-quart ovenproof casserole.  Add bacon and cook on medium until golden.  Remove with slotted spoon.
2.  Pat chicken dry, season with salt and pepper and add, skin side down.  Sear until golden on medium-high heat, working in two shifts if necessary.  Remove from pan.
3.  Heat oven to 300 degrees F.  Pour off all but 2 tablespoons fat from pan.
4.  Add onions, celery and garlic, cook on medium until soft and translucent.  Stir in cumin.  Add radicchio, vinegar and sage; saute briefly.
5.  Add lentils, stock, and cooked bacon.
6.  Return chicken to pan, bring to a simmer, cover and place in oven.  Cook about an hour, until lentils are tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed, but not all.
7.  Check seasoning, adding more salt and pepper if needed, then serve.

Pumpkin Cheddar Muffins

DSC_4057Now that we are deep into the throes of winter, I have to force myself out of my apartment in order to stave off depression.  Some weeks are better than others, and when I do force myself out, I am usually glad that I did and try to make a mental note of my high spirits afterwards.  Friday night was one of those nights.  Mr. K and I were invited to dinner and an Off-Off Broadway play by some friends of ours.  It was a rainy night but I was actually excited about leaving the apartment for once.  I figured even if the play was subpar, I could get out of my head and we would enjoy our friend’s company.

We had a fantastic time.  The couple that we went out with just got married a few months ago; it’s great to see people so in love.  The pizza joint (that I chose) was pretty bad but we all had a great time sharing stories.  Mr. K and I are pondering moving to Southern California in the next few years, and since this couple grew up there, we got some good pointers about the best places to live.  The play was excellent.  If any of you have a chance to see it, I highly recommend it.  Grounded is the name of it and it’s playing at the SoHo Rep.  It’s about a female fighter pilot who goes back to work after having a baby only to discover that the rules of war have changed.  Fighter pilots now fly drones remotely from a location in Las Vegas and work 8-hour shifts like most Americans.  The play highlights the complexities of modern warfare and how it affects soldiers.  A remarkable but sad fact I learned was that the rate of PTSD has actually increased with pilots that operate drones.
DSC_4036Walking home Friday night, I took inventory of how I felt mentally.  Although tired (Mr. K and I are not usually out later than 11 pm on any given night), I felt invigorated and joyful.  Someone once told me that they liken the importance of sleep to charging your phone every night.  Your brain needs a break and a recharge at night in order to operate fully during the day.  My brain must operate the same way when it comes to intellectual and emotional stimulation.  Without it, I seem to operate at 50% capacity.

The tricky thing about depression, though, is that even though you may know intellectually that you need stimulation from the outside world, your emotions will try to convince you otherwise.  Vitality and liveliness appear to be unreachable when depression rears its head.  And yet, vigor and energy is exactly what you need.  I remember my therapist once telling me that the secret to managing depression was to simply force yourself out of the house and the happy endorphins would follow.  If you wait for joy and enthusiasm to appear in order to leave your house, you will wait indefinitely.  The cart needs to come before the horse, essentially.
DSC_4043 A friend gave me the Baked cookbook several years ago and I am slowly working my way through it.  Baked is a popular bakery in Brooklyn and they make insanely good desserts.  I thought it was time to try another recipe from their first cookbook, so I chose  Pumpkin Cheddar Muffins.  I haven’t tasted too many savory muffins over the course of my life, but of the ones that I’ve had, I’ve liked.  Liked, I say.  Not loved.  However, I am a sucker for all things pumpkin (except pumpkin pie) and I thought the combination of pumpkin, cheddar and black pepper sounded curious.  After taking my first bite, I was flabbergasted by how delicious these muffins were.  They are definitely on the sweeter side because of the pumpkin, but the cheddar and black pepper are nice foils for the sweetness and add an interesting level of flavor.  I immediately had visions of eating these alongside every future pot of soup I made throughout the winter.  And so far, I have.  Don’t be scared of the black pepper.  It’s not too strong by any means.  The muffins have a very similar texture to biscuits, which made me love them even more.
DSC_4048Pumpkin Cheddar Muffins
Adapted from Baked:  New Frontiers in Baking

Yield:  12 Muffins

1 cup canned solid-pack pumpkin puree
3 tablespoons sour cream or greek yogurt
2 large eggs
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1-1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1-1/4 cups (about 4 oz.) grated sharp cheddar
2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds, optional

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
2.  Spray each cup of a standard 12-cup muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray and use a paper towel to spread the oil evenly along the bottom and up the sides of each cup.
3.  In a large bowl, whisk together the pumpkin and sour cream/yogurt.
4.  Add the eggs and butter and whisk until combined.
5.  In another large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cayenne pepper, salt, black pepper, and brown sugar.
6.  Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients.  Pour the wet ingredients into the well, and fold until just combined.  Fold in three-quarters of the cheese.
7.  Divide the batter among the muffin cups.  Sprinkle the remaining cheddar and the pumpkin seeds on top of the muffins.
8.  Bake them for 20 minutes, or until golden brown.  Let the muffin pan cool on a rack for 10 minutes before turning out the muffins.  Serve them warm.


Scallops with Pumpkin Risotto

DSC_4097I feel embarrassed writing about this.  Maybe it’s the feminist in me that wishes I could overcome this debilitating habit that so many women (people, really) struggle with.  I have food issues.  It feels so narcissistic to dwell on something that makes me so self-conscious.  It’s definitely improved over the last decade but it is a constant struggle.  From what I’ve learned about food issues/disorders, they are an ongoing battle that don’t really ever go away but can be managed with the right tools.  I am prone to negative thoughts naturally, and eating certain foods seems to increase those negative thoughts.
DSC_4068I am never not aware of when and what my next meal will be.  I love food and I also have a sweet tooth, which makes managing my diet exhausting at times.  I used to be unaware of how food affected my mood and my body.  I would overeat, feel lethargic and negative about myself, and never make the connection of how my body felt after consuming certain foods.  I just thought I would be happier if I was thinner.  Just sharing this makes me squirm in my seat.  It’s so cliché.  I guess I’m a cliché.  Over the years I have educated myself on healthy eating habits- how sugar, carbs, gluten, etc. affect the body as well as the mind.  I read somewhere recently that people who struggle with anxiety and depression should avoid sugar as much as possible; sugar causes inflammation and increases anxiety.  I don’t want to cut sugar out of my diet completely, but it’s a slippery slope.   Even eating a small serving of sugar often sets off neurons in my brain begging for more.  I can usually tame the beast if I’m in a good place mentally.  But if I’m already struggling with something when I eat sugar, I tend to eat too much of it.  Then I feel sick and beat myself up mentally for not controlling myself.
DSC_4078I feel like everyone is constantly trying to strike the right balance in their lives.  I guess one’s diet is no exception.  I’ve started making a kale-banana-blackberry smoothie every morning for breakfast.  And I’ve gotten much better about eating a couple of servings of vegetables every day.  But come 3 or 4pm, I am clamoring for a cookie or a muffin.  Something sweet and carb-heavy to comfort my anxious self.  Sometimes an apple will cut it, but I have to really convince myself that it is better for me.  Some days it doesn’t satisfy my sweet tooth, but I eat it anyway.  I’m also improving on balancing those rich, carb-heavy foods that I love with smaller portions.
DSC_4085I love risotto but I hardly ever order it at a restaurant.  Just thinking about the calorie count will make me uneasy.  But I don’t want to avoid certain foods anymore simply because I’m afraid of what the voice inside my head will say.  I have never made homemade risotto for fear that I would eat it all and get fat.  But it’s a new year and I am trying a new approach to foods that scare me.   I can eat them every once in a while in moderation and not degrade myself for doing so.  Right.  I can.  I totally can.
DSC_4081This pumpkin risotto blew.  my.  mind.  It is, dare I say, the ultimate comfort food.  If you’ve never made risotto, or never even tried risotto, this is the recipe to start with.   It’s rich and creamy, and the squash and onions add a nice touch of sweetness.  The parmesan cheese creates depth and a nice saltiness to balance the pumpkin and onions.   The most important part of making risotto is to keep stirring when incorporating the stock into the rice.  Also, be sure to pat the scallops dry.  This will ensure a nice, crisp crust when sauteing them.  Enjoy every bite of it, and if that negative voice pops up, tell it to go to hell.
DSC_4087Scallops with Pumpkin Risotto
Adapted from Gourmet

Yield:  4 servings

For Risotto
1-1/4 cups diced, peeled, and seeded small butternut squash (you will have squash left over)
2 cups chicken stock
2 cups water
1 small onion, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
3/4 cup Arborio rice
1 oz. grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (1/3 cup)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon salt1/4 teaspoon black pepper

For Scallops
20 large sea scallops (1-1/2 lbs.), tough muscle removed from side of each if necessary
1-1/2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh sage
2 tablespoons white truffle oil (optional)
Preheat oven to 400°F.

Make Risotto:
1.  Line baking sheet with parchment paper.  Place diced squash on baking sheet.
2.  Roast squash until tender, 30 to 40 minutes.
3.  Bring stock and water to a simmer in a small saucepan and keep at a light simmer.
4.  Cook onion in a large saucepan over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3-5 minutes.
5.  Add rice and cook, stirring 1 minute.
6.  Add 1 cup simmering stock and cook at a strong simmer, stirring constantly, until stock is absorbed.
7.  Continue simmering, adding stock 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly and letting each addition be absorbed before adding the next, until rice is tender and creamy-looking but still al dente, about 18 minutes total.  (There may be broth left over.)
8.  Remove from heat and stir in diced squash, cheese, and butter, stirring until butter is melted.  Add salt and pepper and cover to keep warm.

Prepare Scallops:
1.  Pat scallops dry and season with salt.
2.  Heat oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then sauté scallops, turning once, until golden brown, 4 to 6 minutes.
3.  Transfer scallops to a bowl with a slotted spoon and discard any oil remaining in skillet (do not clean skillet).
4.  Cook butter in same skillet over moderate heat until it foams and turns light brown.
5.  Add sage and cook, stirring, 1 minute.
6.  Remove from heat and stir in truffle oil.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

To serve:
Put one cup of risotto on a plate, place 5 scallops on top, and drizzle sage-butter sauce on top of scallops.