Last week my neighbor, Courtney, asked me to guest blog on her fabulous site, A Life from Scratch. Of course, I was honored!!! While she was on spring break I decided to think spring. I know Courtney loves salmon and this Thomas Keller recipe may seem steppy and a bit fancy, but it pulls together quickly with amazing results. Perfect recipe for a spring dinner party! The leeks are boiled and then put in an ice bath to stop the cooking and to retain the beautiful green color. Then the delicate soft leeks are reheated in stock which adds a perfect composition of flavor. The salmon is simply cooked skin side down to create a salty, crisp texture. And THAT SAUCE is simple and divine. It’s really just chopped shallots, cooked in white wine and then, when the wine has reduced quite a bit, you whisk is some butter (OK maybe it’s more than some) then add the aromatic herbs. Serve with a mixed green salad and some crusty bread to soak up that sauce!
Crispy Skin Salmon, Leeks, Fines Herbs Beurre Blanc (Adapted from Thomas Keller) Serves 4
For the Leeks/Beurre Blanc
8 large leeks (I used 5)
1/4 cup thinly sliced shallots
1 large thyme sprig
1 large Italian parsley sprig, plus 1 t minced parsley
1 bay leaf
6 black peppercorns
2/3 cup dry white wine
1/3 cup champagne vinegar
1/4 cup heavy cream
8 oz. unsalted butter, cut into small chunks and chilled
2-3 T chicken stock
1 t minced /tarragon/chives/parsley
4 6-oz pieces of center-cut salmon fillet, skin and bones removed
kosher salt and white pepper
1/2 cup chicken stock
**To make this recipe easier to get through I “stepped it out”! Have all your ingredients prepared and this pulls together quickly.
1.Use only the light green sections of the leeks. Cut the light green sections into 1/2-inch-thick rounds.
2. Place the rounds in a large bowl of warm water and swish them gently to remove any dirt, being careful not to separate the rounds. Lift them out of the water.
3. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Prepare an ice bath. Add half the leeks to the boiling water and cook for about 5 minutes, or until tender.
4. Transfer leeks to a colander or strainer and plunge them into the ice bath for no more than 15 seconds.
5. Drain and repeat with the remaining leeks.
6. The leeks can be prepared to this point up to a day ahead, covered, and stored in the refrigerator
1.Put the shallots, thyme, parsley sprig, bay leaf, and peppercorns in a medium saucepan and add the white wine and champagne vinegar.
2. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the liquid is reduced to about 1 Tablespoon. Remove from heat.
3. To finish, add the heavy cream to the reduction, place the pan over medium heat, and simmer to reduce the liquid by half. The sauce should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
4. Begin adding the butter one piece at a time, whisking constantly to keep the sauce emulsified. Add a new piece of butter before the previous one has completely melted.
5. The sauce should remain warm to the touch but not be simmering. When all the butter is incorporated, strain the beurre blanc into a small saucepan.
6. Stir in the stock and keep in a warm place.
1.The thinnest part of the fillet should not measure less than 1/2 inch thick. If the salmon is cold, let it stand at room temperature for about 15 minutes before cooking.
2. Season the skinned side with salt and white pepper. Season the other side with salt only.
3. Heat 1/8 inch of canola oil in a large nonstick skillet.
4. When the oil is hot, place the salmon skinned side down in the hot oil and cook on one side only for about 5-6 minutes. Regulate the temperature, turning it down as necessary to keep the edges from browning too quickly. The fish is done when the bottom is crispy, and the fillet is cooked about halfway up the flesh. The top should still be rare.
***If this is your only take away from this recipe… TAKE-IT! Favorite way to cook skin on salmon.
1.Put the leeks in a medium saucepan, add the 1/2 cup stock, and heat over medium heat until warmed through. Season with salt and pepper.
2. Gently warm the beurre blanc and stir in the minced parsley, tarragon, and chives.
3. Divide the sauce among serving plates, place the leeks in the middle of the plate, and top with a salmon fillet.
This is a Mario Batali classic…fresh seafood accompanied by very soft polenta. Hard to believe that this Italian porridge, staple of Northern Italy, was once thought of as food for peasants. Now this versatile gluten-free ingredient can be found in many healthy dishes. The ragout pulls together quickly and has a rich tomato base with a fresh note of lemon. If you are looking for a comforting meatless meal….you’ve found it!
Soft Polenta with Rock Shrimp Ragout (from Mario Batali)
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup quick-cooking polenta (6 ounces)
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 scallions, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 1/2 pounds shelled rock shrimp
1/4 cup coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
Freshly ground pepper
In a medium saucepan, bring 5 cups of water to a boil with the sugar. Whisk in the polenta in a thin stream. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat. Stir in 3 tablespoons of the olive oil and season with salt. Press a piece of parchment or wax paper directly onto the surface of the polenta and keep warm.
In a large skillet, heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the scallions and crushed red pepper and cook over moderate heat for 1 minute. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, until slightly darkened, about 3 minutes. Add the wine and 1/4 cup of water and simmer over moderately high heat for 1 minute. Add the shrimp and simmer, stirring, until just cooked through, about 2 minutes. Stir in the parsley, lemon juice and lemon zest and season with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat.
Rewarm the polenta over moderately high heat, whisking constantly. Spoon a pool of polenta in the center of 6 shallow bowls. Spoon the shrimp and sauce over and around the polenta and serve right away.
When you think of Irish cooking, a notable classic of corned beef and cabbage may come to mind, accompanied with a pint of Guinness…of course! Celebrating St. Paddy’s Day with a crowd can be festive and simple. While I can appreciate the traditional feast of corned beef, veggies, bread, potatoes and cabbage served on large platters family style …I’m all about the twist. How about taking those unique flavors of briny meat, punchy horseradish cream, and caraway to create a flatbread??!!! Last year this came out of St. Paddy’s Day leftovers and was FANTASTIC!! THIS year I am skipping the family style dinner and going casual with this as my entree. A quick trip to the deli saves you 4-5 hours of cooking and satisfies all your SPD cravings. For additional leftover ideas try corned beef and cabbage egg rolls and breakfast hash.
Corned Beef And Cabbage Flatbread
Store bought pizza dough
2-3 Tablespoons horseradish cream, store-bought or this (look down the sight for the recipe), plus a few more for salad
9 slices of Swiss cheese
2-3 Slices of corned beef, about 1/4″ thick, cubed
1/2 cup (or more) Irish cheddar cheese, shredded
3 slices of cabbage, thinly sliced, plus more for a salad to place on top
2 Tablespoons caraway seeds, plus more for salad
1 carrot, shredded
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Roll out pizza dough. Sprinkle sheet pan with corn meal and place dough on pan. Spread dough with horseradish cream and layer swiss cheese. Sprinkle on beef, then cheese. Lightly arrange cabbage on top and finish with drizzled caraway seeds. Place in oven and cook for approximately 15-20 minutes, until cheese browns and the crust is crisp.
In a small bowl combine sliced cabbage, shredded carrots, caraway seeds, horseradish cream (add a bit at a time, you don’t want it too creamy) and mix until combined. Place on top of flat bread or as a side salad. For dessert serve this!!
I’m not a baker but look what happened!!!! This single layer cake with its frothy crown of frosting is so easy to pull together and the results so delicious…it’s a must try. The signature bitterness of Guinness disappears and leaves a moist dense cake. Guinness works well with desserts due to its distinct chocolate and coffee notes. A perfect ending to your St. Patrick’s Day festivities. Slainte!!
The title of this recipe says it all. Spicy. Asian. White bean. Dip. I saw this on one of my favorite blogs, Whiteonricecouple. The combination of flavors not only intrigued me…I had all the ingredients on hand (and you probably do too). This creamy dip is so simple and fresh and with all the layers of flavor…might just be your go-to appetizer. Serve with toasted baguette slices or a variety of vegetables.
Spicy Asian White Bean Dip
Adapted from WHITEONRICECOUPLE
1 15 oz can of white beans (rinsed)
1 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Teaspoon sesame oil
2 Teaspoons soy sauce ( or to taste)
2 Tablespoons sriracha hot sauce, start with one teaspoon at a time…to taste
1 Large clove of garlic
1/2 Teaspoon curry powder
1/4 Cup of water (additional water for desired consistency)
1 Tablespoon lime juice
Crackers, toasted baguette OR celery, carrots and sliced cucumbers
YEP….still making soup. Yep, it’s still winter. To us the perfect meal…healthy, hearty and easy!! Potato leek soup is naturally creamy with a velvety texture. This humble soup calls for only 4 ingredients plus a bit of half and half ….I opted out of the latter for a lighter version. Last year we made this soup on St. Paddy’s Day and to finish… I drizzled with a bit of Jameson’s and… I must say that was brilliant! White wine or a drizzle of olive oil will do the trick as well. Garnish with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of chives.
Potato Leek Soup
2 leeks, white and light green part chopped
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 medium, Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced
1 garlic clove, smashed
1 quart vegetable broth
3/4 cup 1/2 &1/2 (or more for desired consistency)
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 slices of proscuitto
Chop leaks. In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the leeks and a heavy pinch of salt. Sweat for 5 minutes. Decrease the heat to medium-low and cook until the leeks are tender, approximately 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic the last 2 minutes.
Add the potatoes and vegetable broth, increase the heat to medium-high, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and gently simmer until the potatoes are soft, approximately 45 minutes.
Turn off the heat and puree the mixture with an immersion blender (or blender) until smooth. Stir in the 1/2 & 1/2, and pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning if desired. Garnish sour cream, chives, proscuitto* and drizzle with Jameson’s Whiskey.
* crisp proscuitto in a 350 degrees oven for approximately 10 -15 minutes.
Gnudi (nudi) is nudi to me!! Gnudi refers to pasta like dumplings that are “naked” of their pasta wrappers. My plan was to make gnocchi in the next week or so (with Courtney) and then…..this happened! I was intrigued by the use of ricotta and parmesan to form these delicious clouds of ricotta heaven. While gnocchi is potato based and time-consuming (I heard) gnudi is lighter and easier to prepare. The method is simple. Mix ricotta, flour, cheese, egg and seasonings together, then boil. Success!! I loved the dense somewhat chewy texture of the gnudi smothered by a simple, yet full flavored sauce. Although any shape will work, it was fun to try the “two tablespoon” football shape. This meal has a rustic charm that pairs well with an arugula, lemon/olive oil splashed salad.
Ricotta Gnudi (recipe by Sara Jenkins/Bon Appetit)
Makes approximately 20
16 ounces ricotta (about 2 cups) Set ricotta in a strainer to remove any excess liquid for about 10 minutes
1 large egg, beaten to blend
1 large egg yolk, beaten to blend
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan, plus more
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt plus more
1/2-3/4 cup all-purpose flour, plus more
Garnish: basil and additional parmesan
3 cups Quick Pomodoro Sauce (see below)
Mix ricotta, egg, egg yolk, pepper, 1/2 cup Parmesan, and 1/2 teaspoons salt in a large bowl until well combined. Add 1/2 cup flour; stir just until combined and mixture forms a ball (mixture will be soft and moist with some bits of ricotta remaining; add more flour by the tablespoonful if it feels wet).
Dust a rimmed baking sheet generously with flour. Using 2 large soup spoons, shape heaping tablespoonfuls of dough into football shapes; place on baking sheet and dust with more flour.
Cook gnudi in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until cooked through and tender, 5-6 minutes (gnudi will quickly float to surface; continue cooking or gnudi will be gummy in the center).
Using a slotted spoon, divide gnudi among bowls. Top with Quick Pomodoro Sauce and more Parmesan and ribbons of basil.
1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
1/2 cup olive oil
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 teaspoon sugar
Pulse tomatoes with juices in a blender to form a coarse purée. Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring often, until beginning to brown, about 2 minutes. Add tomato purée and sugar and season with salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer gently until sauce is slightly thickened, 10-15 minutes. DO AHEAD: Sauce can be made 3 days ahead. Cover and chill, or freeze for up to 3 months.
Pretty enough for a dinner party…easy enough for a weeknight dinner. These flavors work sooo well together…..sweet dates, tang from the orange, heat from the pepper, crunch from the walnuts and fresh herbal notes with the cilantro.
Pork Tenderloin with Date and Cilantro Relish
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 pork tenderloin (about 1 1/2 pounds)*
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup Medjool dates, cut into small pieces
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice, and zest of half an orange (save some zest for garnish)
1/2 jalapeno pepper, diced
2 tablespoons walnut, toasted, finely chopped
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro ( OR parsley) plus leaves for garnish
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Season pork with salt and pepper and cook, turning, until browned on all sides, 6–8 minutes. Transfer skillet to oven and cook pork until thermometer inserted in thickest the part registers 140 degrees, 10–15 minutes. Transfer pork to a cutting board and let rest at least 5 minutes before slicing, set aside pan drippings.
Toss dates, orange juice, reserved pan drippings, 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro, orange zest, jalapeno, walnuts and remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a small bowl; season with salt and pepper. Spoon relish over pork and top with cilantro leaves. Pair with mashed potatoes and arugula salad.
Relish (without pan drippings) can be made 4 hours ahead. Cover and chill. Add pan drippings just before serving.
* most single pork tenderloins are just over a pound. Adjust….mine took about 9 minutes in the oven to get to 140 degrees. This size serves 2-3 people depending on amount of side dishes.
By now we all know the incredible health benefits of kale. Why not change up your classic Caesar salad with this super food and partner with a creamy bold dressing that holds up to this hearty green? I pre-tenderize the greens by massaging with a little olive oil, salt, pepper and let sit for 30 minutes. This technique allows the fibrous, chewy green turn to a tender-crisp texture. Add grilled chicken or shrimp for a complete meal. Bonus… the dressed salad stays crisp for up to 3 days!!
Tuscan Kale Caesar Salad
Combine the first 5 ingredients in a blender; purée until smooth. With machine running, slowly add 3/4 cups of oil, to make a creamy dressing. Add 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese and blend. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and chill. Dressing can be made 2 days ahead.
Remove middle stalk of the kale leaves and chop. Toss kale with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper. Massage oil into leaves and let sit for approximately 30 minutes. Arrange kale on your serving platter. drizzle with dressing. Top with remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan, crouton crumbs and radish slices.
Game Day. Fall off the resolutions if just for today and enjoy a twist on a Reuben Sandwich. These sliders offer all the flavors of your deli favorite…savory, spicy and topped with a tangy, sweet dressing. Other game day ideas… Wingless Buffalo Chicken Flatbread, Crab Cakes with Lemon Aioli, Rosemary Parmesan Popcorn, Asian Meatballs with Hoisin Sauce, Fig and Prosciutto Flatbread, OR Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps. Game on!
Reuben Meatball Sliders
Makes 12 sliders
2 pound ground beef, chuck
1 cup shredded Swiss
1/2 cup toasted rye bread, processed into fine breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon caraway seeds
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon crushed black pepper
2 large eggs
1/2 cup parsley leaves, chopped
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 cup 1000 island dressing
2 cups sauerkraut, drained
12 slider buns, buttered and toasted
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Mix the beef, cheese, breadcrumbs, caraway seeds, salt, pepper, eggs and parsley in a bowl until uniform but not overworked. Scoop out a 1/4 cup of the mix and roll into a ball. Repeat to use all of the meat.
Heat a cast-iron skillet over medium heat add the oil. Fry the first side of the meatballs, in batches if necessary, until golden and crusty, 7 to 8 minutes. Flip and place in the oven to finish cooking, until no longer pink in the middle, 10 to 15 more minutes.
Heat the kraut in a small saucepan and mix in the 1000 island dressing. Place a meatball on the bottom slider bun, top with the sauce mixture.
Adapted from, (Food Network, Jeff Mauro)
Baby it’s COLD outside. No… I mean really really cold outside. -4 degrees with a wind chill of -30 to -40!!!!!!! These extreme conditions are perfectly suited for slow braised meats. This peasant-style cooking is sure to create a food flashback from your childhood (mine….dressed like Ralph in Christmas Story). The inexpensive, incredibly delicious beef shank will fill your home with a warm, comforting aroma in no time. Braising is nothing more than cooking the meat over low heat in a small amount of liquid, into which herbs and vegetables have been added. The result is a tender and flavorful fall-off-the-bone bowl of YUM, perfect for a cold winter’s night. Serve with celery root mashed potato puree.
Braised Beef Shank
3 tablespoons olive oil
3-4 pounds beef shank
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 onions, chopped
2-3 medium carrots, finely chopped
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 thyme sprigs
2 rosemary sprigs
3 bay leaves
2 cups red wine
2 cups beef stock
1- 150z can San Marzano whole peeled tomatoes with juices, chopped or blended
Heat the oven to 325 degrees. Put the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add meat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook until the meat is browned on all sides, about 10 minutes. Transfer meat to a plate.
Lower the heat to medium. Add the onions, carrot and celery, sprinkle with a little salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to soften, 5 to 10 minutes. Add garlic, thyme, rosemary and bay leaves. Cook for 2 minutes.
Stir in the wine, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Add stock and tomatoes. The braising liquid should come about halfway up the sides of the meat. Raise the heat and bring to a boil. Cover the pot and transfer to the oven. Cook until the meat begins to get tender approximately 4 hours. The braise is done when the meat is very tender and almost falling apart.
Take the shanks out of the pan and set aside. Discard bays leaves and sprigs. Bring braising liquid to a boil and reduce for approximately 15 minutes. Plate with potato puree, top with shank and sauce. Garnish with chopped parsley.
You should have seen the face my husband made when he heard what’s for dinner. You should have seen the face my husband made when he took his first bite ……….. ! His words… sweet, spicy with great texture. I will add …the bowl has quite a kick from the sriracha but the yogurt cools the palette. Randy then asked if I’ve been hangin’ with Raj again? No, this recipe did not come from Raj… it came from Fauxmartha, a clever informative blog containing creative recipes and helpful hints. She refers to this recipe as a pantry meal….and was correct in this case…..every ingredient was in the house. It’s a quick, flavorful and healthy meal that comes together in *no time.
*thinking of my college age nieces and nephews during finals week…..easy and protien packed!!!
Short of soaking in a warm bubble bath, not many things can warm you to the core like a great bowl of soup. This tortilla soup with its bold southwest flavors and spicy, smokey notes will no doubt do the trick. Make this bowl of comfort your own and garnish with any variety of toppings….avocado, sour cream, tortilla strips, cilantro and/or squeeze of lime. Let’s celebrate “soup month” with this hearty and healthy soup.
Chicken Tortilla Soup (Adapted from Ina Garten)
4 split (2 whole) chicken breasts, bone in, skin on
Kosher salt and pepper
2 cups onion, chopped (2 onions)
1 cup celery, chopped (2 stalks)
2 cups carrots, chopped (4 carrots)
4 large cloves garlic, chopped
2½ quarts chicken stock
1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes in puree, crushed
2 to 4 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander seed
¼ to ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
6 (6-inch) fresh white corn tortillas
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the chicken breasts skin side up on a sheet pan. Rub with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until done. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, using two forks, shred the meat. Cover and set aside. Meanwhile, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add the onions, celery, and carrots and cook over medium-low heat for 10 minutes, or until the onions start to brown. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the chicken stock, tomatoes with their puree, jalapeno, cumin, coriander, 1 tablespoon salt, 1 teaspoon pepper, and the cilantro, if using. Cut the tortillas in half, and then cut them crosswise into ½-inch strips and add to the soup. Bring the soup to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 25 minutes. Add the shredded chicken and season to taste. Serve the soup hot topped with sliced avocado, a dollop of sour cream, grated Cheddar cheese, and broken tortilla chips or (*baked). *Brush tortilla strips with olive oil and sprinkle kosher salt. Bake in a 325 degree oven for approximately 15 minutes, until they start to crisp.
Indian cuisine is new to my repertoire. Indian cooking intimidated me primarily due to the vast array of exotic spices. But fortunately, I have a neighbor who happily opens up his kitchen to teach me some of his authentic dishes. Raj eats a diet filled with veggies and plant-based protein. His pantry, void of any prepackaged food, is quite impressive, loaded with spices, spice blends, grains and lentils. Some of his spice blends are hard to duplicate so I’m going to use spices that are very likely in your pantry. Healthy veggies like this cauliflower dish simmered in coconut milk are packed with loads of nutrients and vitamins. After mastering this dish….I am going back to class at Raj’s soon and will share my next lesson.
Coconut Curry Cauliflower (Adapted from Raj)
2 teaspoons sesame oil
6-8 curry leaves, or 1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
2 tablespoons urad lentils
2 teaspoons black mustard seeds
2 teaspoons whole coriander seeds, slightly crushed
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
4 cups cauliflower florets, frozen (2 bags)
2 cups lite coconut milk
2 tablespoons turmeric powder
2 tablespoon coconut flakes
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
In a large oven proof skillet, saute all spices up to the cauliflower for 2-3 minutes in oil. Add cauliflower. Combine remaining ingredients. Saute on the stove top for about 30-40 minutes. Serve immediately. Garnish with chopped cilantro if desired.
Sprouted Kitchen is one of my favorite blogs. Sara and Hugh won Saveur’s best blog for original recipes 2012. Their recipes are creative and healthy and I’m sure you will agree with me that Hugh’s photography is breathtaking. I knew the site would be a a great source for a nutritious New Year’s breakfast. The bitterness of the kale balances the sweetness of the onions and the goat cheese provides a creamy finish. I love the idea of a VERY thin omelette to wrap up all the ingredients. My first attempt was without a non-stick pan and the result was less than perfect. No worries…it tasted great and I was happy to make this recipe again!!!
SLOW-COOKED KALE OMELETTES (Adapted from Bon Appetit via Sprouted Kitchen)
1 heaping pound kale, ribs remove
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 sprigs rosemary
1/2 teaspoon sea salt, or more to taste
1/2 teaspoon red chile flakes
1 cup sliced yellow onion
2 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 Tbsp. ghee (clarified butter) or more olive oil
Fresh ground pepper
8 extra-large eggs
1/4 cup whole milk
6 ounces soft goat cheese
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Blanch the kale for 1 1/2 minutes, drain, let it cool, and squeeze out excess water. Chop up and set aside.
In a large skillet, warm the ghee or olive oil over medium heat. Add the rosemary sprigs cook for one minute. Reduce the heat to low, add the onion and salt, cook for two minutes, and then add in the garlic. Cook for about 6 minutes until the onions are soft and starting to brown.
Turn the heat to medium-low, add the kale and ghee(claified butter) or oil, stir to coat. Cook for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally until the kale is almost black and charred at the edges. Remove the rosemary sprigs. Sprinkle some fresh ground pepper, taste for salt, and set aside.
Heat a 10” pan over medium-low heat add a small pat of butter or ghee. For each omelette, beat 2 large eggs with a Tbsp. of milk. Add the eggs to the pan and let them cook for about a minute and a half. Use a spatula to lift up one corner of the eggs, tilt the pan, and let the liquid egg on top, run underneath. When the omelette is mostly set, put a few spoonfuls of the kale down the center and a generous sprinkle of goat cheese on top. Gently fold the omelette into thirds and slide it onto a plate. Repeat with remaining omelettes.
Serve with a handful of fresh greens on top and some crusty toast.
Looking for a winning recipe for playoff season? How about wings without the mess!! I like the idea of combining all those yummy flavors onto a flatbread…spicy sauce, chicken, onions all cooled by melted blue cheese. My neighbor, Courtney, highlights this dish on her blog every few months under “our pizza”. Cute. We don’t have a signature dish….hard to narrow one down. However, blue cheese anything is always way up there. If you like wings and you like pizza this may become your new favorite game time meal.
Wing Pizza (adapted from A Life From Scratch)
This savory cookie is just what your red wine (or champagne) ordered. The Gruyère cheese has a nutty rich flavor and the pepper gives this appetizer a nice kick. Make the dough now (you can freeze up to 2 months) and have these ready to go for the holidays.
Gruyere and Black Pepper Cookies (Adapted from Sassy Radish)
2 cups all-purpose flour
8 ounces unsalted butter, softened
8 ounces (2 cups) Gruyere, freshly grated
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper and salt for finishing
Preheat oven to 350. In the large bowl of a stand mixer (set at low-speed), beat the flour, butter, Gruyère, and black pepper until stiff dough forms. For a couple of minutes, the dough will look dry and will not come together; keep mixing and you will see it form into a ball. Divide the dough into 3 pieces, and roll each piece into a 9-inch log, about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Chill the dough, in the refrigerator, for about 1 hour – it will make the slicing easier. OR you can freeze the dough for up to 2 months. Let the dough sit 15 minutes at room temperature before slicing.
Slice the logs into 1/3″ thick cookies and arrange the slices on 2 large baking sheets. Sprinkle a bit of kosher salt on each cracker. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until the turn golden brown around edges, rotate the pans halfway through baking for even browning. Let the cookies cool for 10 minutes, before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely. Makes approximately 60 cookies.
Store the cooking in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
Have you ever had a food flashback??!! Well, here’s mine. I haven’t thought of this story for years until I made liver pate over the holiday. Years ago (o.k …many) I planned a trip to visit my good friend Mark at the Culinary Institute of America. Flying to NYC with a connecting flight to Poughkeepsie (in January!) had a few hiccups. The puddle jumper to the CIA was cancelled leaving me stranded at JFK in a quandary. When the lovely couple in line behind me, also going to the CIA, heard my series of panicked questions they quickly stepped up and asked me to join them in the two-hour drive to our mutual destination. A jolly man with considerable girth, silver hair, a sweeping white handlebar mustache and a foreign accent and his lovely wife with a quiet demeanour… proved (to say the least) an interesting couple. The scenic drive to upstate NY was filled with stories of living in Lincoln Park and our mutual love of food and architecture. Our arrival to the CIA took me by surprise. Pulling up to the school entrance, the red carpeted walkway was lined with chefs all decked out in their whites. The door opened to cheers and applause!! You can only imagine my shock and Mark’s when he saw me get out of that limo!! It was now crystal clear who I was sharing my ride with… Chef Louie Szathmary and his wife Sada who owned and operated The Bakery on Lincoln Avenue in Chicago. The Bakery brought continental flair to the Chicago restaurant scene and Chef Louie was truly one of the first celebrity chefs. From that trip forward when Mark was able to get home, he and I became regulars at the Bakery. Ever hospitable, Chef Louie invited us into his kitchen and home located directly behind his restaurant. This experience was the beginning of my love of the culinary arts. Chef Louie always took excellent care of us….and every dinner started with liver pate.
Chicken Liver Pate (Adapted from Emeril Lagasse)
1 pound fresh chicken livers, cleaned
1 cup milk
1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 cup chopped yellow onions
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons green peppercorns, drained
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup Cognac or brandy
Chopped parsley leaves, for garnish
French bread croutons or toast, accompaniment
French cornichons, optional accompaniment
In a bowl, soak the livers in the milk for 2 hours. Drain well. (I omitted this step)
In a large saute pan or skillet, melt 4 tablespoons of the butter over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring, until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the chicken livers, 1 tablespoon of the peppercorns, the bay leaves, thyme, salt, and pepper and cook, stirring, until the livers are browned on the outside and still slightly pink on the inside, about 5 minutes. Add the Cognac and cook until most of the liquid is evaporated and the livers are cooked through but still tender.
Remove from the heat and let cool slightly. Discard the bay leaves.
In a food processor, puree the liver mixture. Add the remaining butter in pieces and pulse to blend. Fold in the remaining 1 tablespoon peppercorns and adjust the seasoning, to taste.
Pack the pate into 6 individual ramekins or small molds, about 4 ounces each. Cover with plastic and refrigerate until firm, at least 6 hours.
To serve, place the ramekins on individual plates. Garnish the tops with parsley and surround with croutons. Serve with cornichons on the side. I added a few peppercorns on the top.
***In the photo above one of the pates I covered with a shallot jam. The recipe I used did not allow the jam to set up, HOWEVER, the combination of oil, shallots, brown sugar, balsamic vinegar and salt with the chicken liver works well. I am now on a mission to perfect that topping.
Take advantage of the seasonal sprouts and dress them up in a non-traditional fashion. This recipe calls for glazing them with a spicy-sweet combination of soy, rice vinegar, sugar and Siracha. To make this a complete meal I paired the sprouts with Ahi Tuna. The glaze worked beautifully as a marinade and then I lightly seared the tuna. A delicious combo!!!
Brussels Sprouts (Adapted from JeanMarie Brownson)
2 lbs small Brussels sprouts (about 60)
1/4 cup canola or safflower oil
1/2 cup soy sauce (or light)
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
1 or 2 tablespoons of Siracha (or 1 to 2 teaspoons of crushed red pepper flakes)
1 teaspoon dark sesame oil
2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
2 tablespoons green onions, chopped
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Trim ends of the sprouts and cut them in half. Put the halves onto a non-stick baking sheet. (You may need 2 pans) Drizzle with oil, toss well to coat evenly. Roast the Brussels sprouts, stirring them every 10 minutes. Cook until the exteriors are golden about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, put soy sauce, vinegar and sugar into a small saucepan. Heat to a boil under medium heat. Boil gently until the mixture is reduced and slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add Siracha or pepper flakes. Stir in sesame oil. Toss the hot sprouts with enough sauce to coat. Arrange on serving platter and sprinkle with cilantro, green onions and sesame seeds.
I’ve always been a fan of bread pudding…. all varieties! But this Bobby Flay version using pumpkin bread takes the gooey decadent dessert to the next level. Fancy, yes. A bit steppy, yes. Can you do it?? YES! Most of the prep work comes days in advance. I made the bread 3 days before I assembled the pudding. The caramel sauce was made 2 days before and the anglaise sauce I made the day of serving. A quick assembly and you have yourself a very special ending to any meal. I will be replacing my traditional Thanksgiving dessert with this pumpkin bread pudding.
Pumpkin Bread Dessert (Adapted from Bobby Flay)
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
6 large egg yolks
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 cup pure canned pumpkin puree
2 tablespoons bourbon
Pumpkin Bread, toasted and cubed, recipe follows
Vanilla Bean Creme Anglaise, recipe follows
Spicy Caramel Apple Sauce, recipe follows
Freshly whipped cream
Pumpkin seeds, lightly toasted and sprinkled with sugar
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Combine the cream, milk, vanilla bean and seeds in a small saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Whisk together the yolks, sugar, maple syrup, and pumpkin puree in a large bowl. Slowly whisk in the hot cream mixture until combined, remove the vanilla pod, and whisk in the bourbon. Strain the custard into a clean bowl.
Scatter the pumpkin bread cubes in a buttered 9 by 13-inch baking glass baking dish. Pour the custard over the bread, pressing down on the bread to totally submerge it in the custard. Let sit for 15 minutes to allow the bread to soak up some of the custard.
Place the pan in a larger roasting pan and pour hot tap water into the roasting pan until it comes half way up the sides of the glass dish. Bake until the sides are slightly puffed and the center jiggles slightly, about 1 hour.
Remove from the oven and water bath and cool on a baking rack for at least 30 minutes before serving.
Spoon some of the Vanilla Bean Creme Anglaise into a shallow bowl, top with some of the bread pudding and drizzle with the Spicy Caramel Apple Sauce. Top with freshly whipped cream and toasted (dusted with sugar) pumpkin seeds. Serve warm.
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, plus more for greasing
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
8 ounces (about 1 cup) canned unsweetened pumpkin puree
2 large eggs
2/3 cup water
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter or lightly spray the bottom and sides of a 9-inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray. Whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves in a small bowl.
In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the 4 tablespoons of softened butter, sugar, and oil at high-speed until light and fluffy, about 1 minute, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl a few times.
Add the pumpkin puree and mix until combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix until just incorporated. At low-speed, slowly add the flour mixture and water and mix until just combined. Spread the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 60 to 75 minutes. Let cool in the pan on a baking rack for 10 minutes. Remove from the pan and let cool completely.
Once the bread is cool, slice in half lengthwise, and then slice each half into 1/2-inch cubes. Spread the cubes on a large baking sheet and bake in a 325 degree oven until lightly toasted, turning once, about 20 minutes. Let cool.
Vanilla Bean Creme Anglaise
2 cups half-and-half
1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
5 large egg yolks
1/3 cup pure cane sugar
Bring the half-and-half and vanilla bean and seeds to a simmer in a medium saucepan.
Whisk together the yolks and sugar in a medium bowl until at the pale ribbon stage. Slowly whisk in the hot half-and-half, return the mixture to the pot, and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the mixture coats the back of the spoon. Strain into a bowl and set over an ice bath. Stir until chilled. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving. (I was planning on serving the bread pudding with vanilla ice cream so I skipped this sauce…..don’t skip.…delicious!)
Spicy Caramel Apple Sauce
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup apple juice
1 star anise
1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
4 whole cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon apple schnapps
Combine the cream, apple juice, star anise, ginger, cloves, cinnamon sticks, and nutmeg in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat and let steep for at least 20 minutes. Strain the mixture into a clean, small saucepan and place back over low heat while you make the caramel.
Combine the sugar, water and, vinegar in a medium saucepan over high heat and cook without stirring, until it’s a deep amber color, about 8 minutes. Slowly whisk in the warm cream mixture a little at a time, and continue whisking until smooth. Add the apple schnapps ( I didn’t have any schnapps on hand, so omitted it) and cook for 30 seconds longer. Transfer to a bowl and keep warm. The sauce can be made 2 days in advance and refrigerated. Reheat over low heat before serving.
Tis’ the season of pumpkin….a flavorful ingredient to create a fun milkshake!!! This sweet treat will be the addition we need to round out our Thanksgiving festivities. The roaring fire is the perfect setting for our after dinner games where we will be serving up our traditional Brandy Alexander and pumpkin milkshakes for the kids. Let the fun and yum begin!
Pumpkin Milkshake Recipe from FoodiewithFamily
1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
1 1/2 cups vanilla ice cream
1 cup milk, add 1/4 cup at a time for desired consistency
4 ounces Philadelphia Cream Cheese
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 small pinch ground cloves
Add all ingredients to a blender. Mix until well blended. Garnish with whipped cream and a dusting of fresh nutmeg or a crumble of a ginger cookie.
What are you serving for Thanksgiving this year? I know you can’t divert too much from the same ‘ol same ‘ol. Traditions… (when it comes to food) are imperative and everyone’s favorite needs to show up. But what about the salad???? That poor… poor salad. We (a crew of 30 plus) made a group decision two years ago to ditch the salad for another side. A typical green salad just got “no love” and was the only dish standing (and taking up valuable real estate) at the end of the meal. That WAS the story until THIS salad showed up. The components of this dish are all about the seasonal flavors and mix well with what’s happening around it on the buffet table. I felt this was a great opportunity to add the holiday favorite… butternut squash! Pair that with the flavor of maple, the sweetness of cranberries and the crunch of walnuts and I believe you have a new and improved side dish that will be allowed to stay on that revered buffet table for years to come.
Roasted Butternut Squash Salad Adapted from Ina Garden
1 (1 1/2-pound) butternut squash, peeled and cubed
1 tablespoon maple syrup
Salt and pepper
3 tablespoons dried cranberries or more
3/4 cup apple cider or apple juice
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoons shallots, minced
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
4 ounces baby arugula
1/2 cup walnuts halves, toasted
3/4 cup Parmesan, freshly grated (goat cheese or gorgonzola cheese will also work)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place the butternut squash on a sheet pan. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil, maple syrup, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and toss. Roast the squash for 15 to 20 minutes, turning once, until tender. Add the cranberries to the pan for the last 5 minutes.
While the squash is roasting, combine the apple cider, vinegar, and shallots in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook for 6 to 8 minutes, until the cider is reduced to about 1/4 cup. Off the heat, whisk in the mustard, 1/2 cup olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper.
Place the arugula in a large salad bowl and add the roasted squash mixture, walnuts, and Parmesan. Spoon over vinaigrette. Do not overdress. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve immediately.
A Sunday dinner ….an impromptu party….or Tuesday night!! This recipe fits the bill for all. Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc At Home Cookbook is a dream for home-cooks. Less intimidating than his French Laundry Cookbook, Ad Hoc teaches technique and is filled with approachable, beautiful recipes. Over the last few years I’ve warmed up to the chicken thigh!! Keller boasts thighs are the most flavorful cut of the bird. Not only are they flavorful but very affordable. This recipe calls for braising. The principle is simple. Sear, then cook in chicken stock on a bed of fennel, onion, garlic and strips of lemon zest. This technique produces a rich, concentrated stock layered in flavors. Cooking the fennel mellows its flavor to a subtle sweetness and the brine of the olives and the acid from the lemon balances this dish. It’s a “comfortable” one-pot dish with Mediterranean overtones. Serve with Keller’s smashed potatoes or lemon-parsley couscous. (See recipe below)
Crispy Braised Chicken Thighs With Olives, Lemon And Fennel Adapted from “Ad Hoc at Home” by Thomas Keller
3 large fennel bulbs
12 chicken thighs, boneless skin on
1 cup onion, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon garlic, finely chopped
3/4 cup dry white wine, Sauvignon Blanc
1 cup Ascolane or Ceregnola or other large green olives
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
4 fresh or 2 dried bay leaves
4 strips lemon zest, removed with a vegetable peeler
8 thyme sprigs
1 cup chicken broth
Garnish: about 1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves or/and lemon slices
Cut the fennel stalks. Trim the bottom of the bulbs and peel back the layers until you reach the core. Discard any bruised layers, and cut the fennel into 2-by-1/2-inch pieces. You need about 3 cups of fennel for this recipe. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Season chicken with salt on both sides. Heat a thin layer of canola oil in a large ovenproof sauté or roasting pan that will hold all the thighs in one layer over medium-high heat. Add the thighs skin side down and lightly brown. Turn the thighs over and cook for about 1 minute to sear the meat. Transfer chicken to a baking sheet.
Reduce heat to medium-low, add the onion to the pan, and cook for 1 minute. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Cook, stirring often, until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the fennel, turn the heat up to medium and cook, stirring often, until the fennel is crisp-tender, about 10 minutes.
Pour in the wine and simmer for about 2 minutes to burn off the alcohol. Stir in the olives, red pepper flakes, bay leaves, lemon zest and thyme, then pour in the chicken broth. Increase the heat, bring the liquid to a simmer, and cook until the fennel is tender, about 1 minute.
Taste the broth and season with salt as needed. Return the chicken to the pan, skin side up, in a single layer. When the liquid returns to a simmer, transfer to the oven and cook for about 20 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through. (The meat will be firm and the juices will run clear, and a thermometer inserted should read 165 degrees.)
Turn on the broiler and put the pan under the broiler for a minute or two to crisp and brown the chicken skin. Remove from the oven and transfer to a serving platter. Garnish with parsley leaves AND/OR lemon slices and thyme sprigs.
Lots of yummy juice…. soak up with crusty bread, Keller’s mashed potatoes OR this couscous below. Enjoy.
Lemon-Parsley Israeli Couscous
1 cup Israeli couscous
1 clove of garlic, chopped finely
1/2 cup of onion, chopped finely.
1 1/2 cups of chicken broth
4 tablespoons of parsley, chopped
2 teaspoons of lemon zest
Heat the olive oil in a small sauce pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 2 minutes until it starts to become translucent. Add the garlic and cook 1-2 minutes more until the onion is completely translucent. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Add the Israeli couscous and stir to make sure each piece is coated with olive oil. Allow it to toast in the pan for 1 1/2 minutes. Add the chicken broth, stir and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook for about 15 minutes or until all the broth has been absorbed. Remove from heat and add the chopped parsley and lemon zest. Season with more salt and pepper if needed.
A handful of boutique distilleries are up and running in Chicago…. none serving Apple Brandy. Enter Rhine Hall, a hard-working father daughter team, passionate about the old school distilling process. Why apple brandy? It’s a great family story, well documented in the most recent Redeye and Chicagogrid. Randy and I are particularly happy the original apple crushing equipment has been upgraded from the 1970’s Schwinn exercise bike belted to a pulley, attached to a grinder operated in the family garage!! Randy (see below) was personally fueled (bribed!) by one of Charlie’s famous German beers. We are wishing Jenny and Charlie the best as the grand opening is only days away. As neighbors and friends we hope to also be frequent patrons. Jenny has given me the recipe for a brandy drink that will be featured in the Rhine Hall tasting room. It’s a perfect seasonal cocktail that will pair well with this chicken chili.
1.5 oz Rhine Hall apple brandy
1 oz homemade Rhine Hall cider
3 splashes of Angostura bitters
Do you need a quick weeknight dinner idea? This is my new go-to!!! I feel like I’m cheating by using a pre-packaged sauce however, this is Rick Bayless…why mess with perfection? I’m lucky to be in the same city where I can sample the genius of Bayless’ moles and other sauces. Many of his moles take a multitude of ingredients and lots and lots of time to make. SAVE yourself. This key-lime cilantro taco skillet sauce and shrimp will have your meal on the table within 15 minutes.
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 poblano chili, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound medium shrimp, peeled deveined
1 pouch Frontera sauce
Garnish: avocado, sour cream, cilantro, lime zest
Heat 1 tablespoon oil and saute onion and poblano pepper til soft. About 4 minutes. Remove top plate. Add 1 tablespoon oil to skillet and add shrimp. Cook until opaque about 3-4 minutes. Combine onion mixture and sauce to pan. Heat til warm. Heat tortillas, add shrimp mixture. Garnish with avocado, sour cream, cilantro and lime zest.
My veggie lasagna is one of Randy’s favorite recipes. He started asking (begging) for this a couple of weeks ago. Typically this lasagna shows up when the air is a bit crisper and football season is a few weeks further along. It’s about 60 degrees and we have a leisurely Sunday on our hands….perfect for a day of cooking. Just the kind of day I want the house to smell like the perfume of garlic, onions and tomato sauce. In this healthy version of lasagna you will not miss the meat. The mushrooms create a hearty, “meaty” texture while the peppers add a sweet note. I use light ricotta and half skim mozzarella. I’m not normally a fan of skimping on the cheese but you don’t need it….honest. To save time and an additional step try using Barilla NO bake lasagna noodles.
1 medium onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb of baby bella mushroom, sliced (or any combo)
2 green peppers, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 celery, diced
1 28 oz can Italian peeled tomatoes (preferably San Marzano)
10 oz lasagna NO BAKE noodles (Barilla)
2 sprigs thyme
4 basil leaves, torn
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
15 oz ricotta/ part skim
4 cups mozzarella ( or 3/4 pound sliced mozzarella)
1/2 cup grated parmesan
In a large skillet add olive oil, onion. Cook til limp about 2-3 minutes. Add garlic, cook for 1 minute. Add mushrooms, peppers, carrots, and celery. Cook until vegetables are soft, about 20 minutes. Pour in the tomatoes with juices. You can crush the tomatoes with your hands or use a masher to crush them. Season with thyme, basil, cinnamon, salt and pepper. Adjust seasonings to taste. Bring sauce to a gentle boil then turn the heat down and simmer for 40 minutes or until the sauce thickens up a bit.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. To assemble lasagna start with spreading a couple of tablespoons of sauce to a casserole pan. Next lay a layer of noodles. Spread ricotta onto the noodles. Then layer with mozzarella. Finally, spoon about 1/3 of the sauce. REPEAT. Noodles, ricotta, mozzarella and sauce. (YOU could repeat another layer but….) I then finish with noodles, sauce and lots of shaved parmesan. Serve with crusty bread and a crisp green salad. Enjoy…. we will be for days.
Iconic Fall Flavors: apples, squash, pears, pumpkin, and MUSHROOMS! The cool air combined with rain means we are in mushroom season. No, I’m not going foraging in my woods for these tasty morsels…..or am I?? Look what’s growing on our back forty!! Puffer mushrooms. The giant pufferball is a whitish, styrofoam-like globe. Yes, it’s edible (but not by me!!!) However, the kid’s middle school science teacher enjoyed a lovely saute of these mushrooms years ago after it was a “show and tell” item. And… I hear he’s still around! This recipe calls for baby bellas to create an earthy salad that can stand alone or on top of a grilled steak. This warm salad embodies fall with its earthy rich flavor, and has a hint of meaty undertones. Take advantage of this season’s forest fungi as they are high in fiber and vitamins… fat and cholesterol free.
Warm Mushroom Salad (Adapted from Ina Garten)
1 pound cremini mushrooms
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 tablespoons good olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 bunches of fresh arugula, washed and spun dry
8 slices good Italian prosciutto
2 tablespoons sherry wine vinegar
Chunk of Parmesan cheese
8 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained and julienned
Fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
Clean the mushrooms by brushing the tops with a clean sponge. Don’t wash them! Remove and discard the stems and slice the caps 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. In a large saute pan, heat the butter and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil until bubbly. Add the mushrooms, salt, and pepper to the pan, and saute for 3 minutes over medium heat, tossing frequently. Reduce the heat to low and saute for another 2 to 3 minutes, until cooked through. Meanwhile, arrange the arugula on 4 lunch plates and cover each portion with 2 slices of prosciutto. When the mushrooms are cooked, add the sherry vinegar and the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the hot pan. Spoon the mushrooms and sauce on top of the prosciutto. With a vegetable peeler, make large shavings of Parmesan cheese and place on top of the hot mushrooms. Sprinkle with the sun-dried tomatoes, parsley leaves, salt, and pepper. Serve warm. Alternative: Serve over a grilled steak.
I don’t need a sweet ending….so this works for me!!! Cheese course and dessert all in one. Warm pears and ginger snap crumbles drizzled with caramel sauce play well against the creamy, earthy cheese. A hint of thyme is added to the finishing sauce for a woodsy accent. This dessert is a perfect accompaniment to any seasonal entrée.
Caramel Roasted Pears With Cheese (Adapted from the Josh Habiger and Erik Anderson/ WSJ)
1 small (10-12 ounce ) wheel soft cheese like triple cream brie, room temperature
4 ginger snap cookies, crumbled
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 ripe pears (Bartlett or other soft-fleshed variety), cored and halved
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 sprigs thyme
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
Divide cheese and crumbled cookies evenly among four plates. Set a small pan over medium heat. Once hot, add oil. Season pears with salt and pepper. Place pears, skin side up, in pan. Once surfaces of pears are caramelized, about 5 minutes, flip pears and add butter and thyme to pan. Cook pears, constantly basting with butter, until warmed through and just fork tender, about 4 minutes. Place one pear half over cheese on each plate. Add honey and vinegar to pan with thyme and browned butter. Cook over medium heat until sauce begins to bubble aggressively, about 1 minute. Discard thyme and stir sauce until it darkens and thickens, about 2 minutes. Drizzle caramel sauce over pears. Serve.
Yep, I know another side! Hey, very often this course is the star…or can set the tone. These roasted carrots are a nice Fall accompaniment to your roasted chicken or a flavorful marinated flank steak. Use similar flavor profiles to marry the entrée and side together. Serve with roasted potatoes.
1 pound baby carrots
1 tablespoon olive oil
Juice and fresh grated zest of 1 lime
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 green onions, thinly sliced
Small handful fresh mint leaves, chopped
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Trim the tops off the carrots. Toss them on a baking sheet with the olive oil, lime juice and zest, honey, and spices. Roast about 20 minutes, until the carrots are just tender. Transfer to a plate and top with the green onions and mint.
When the air turns crisp and the leaves start to change, I think comfort food. On a chilly Saturday afternoon, I whipped up a flavorful soup pairing it with a dressed up grilled cheese. Take the combination of sweet, creamy brie and pear, savory prosciutto, a bit of honey mustard, finished with a peppery note of arugula and you’ve got yourself a grilled cheese sandwich which screams… FALL!. Add soup …..oh, any will do, but try this easy, delicious butternut squash (recipe here) and welcome this magical season.
Grilled Brie, Pear And Prosciutto Sandwich
1 tablespoon butter, room temperature
2 sage leaves, minced
1 ripe pear, sliced (use about half)
2 slices prosciutto
4 slices of brie
2 pieces of country bread, sliced
Mix sage with butter. Spread half the butter on one side of bread. Take a few tablespoons of grainy mustard and add 1 teaspoon of honey (or to taste). On the non buttered side, spread a bit of honey mustard. Layer with cheese, pear, prosciutto, brie. Butter the other slice of bread. Spread with a bit of honey mustard. Top the sandwich. Heat skillet to med-high. . Put a skillet on the stove-top and turn the heat on medium. When it’s warm, put the sandwich in the skillet, heat til browned. Flip to the other side, let cook for a few minutes til browned.