Friday, December 25, 2009

Easy Eggplant Parmigiana

I had such a craving for this eggplant parmigiana after seeing it on the Food Network. My mom and sister helped me assemble this dish, with our assembly line for the eggplant and putting together the layers in the casserole. After it came out of the oven, the fresh mozzarella was beautifully melted and the fried eggplant remained perfectly crunchy. We all loved it!

Mike's Deli Famous Eggplant Parmigiana, Dave Grecco

2 large eggplants
All-purpose flour
4 eggs
Bread crumbs
1 quart marinara sauce
8 ounces sliced dry mozzarella
4 ounces grated Romano

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and heat oil in a large pan, Dutch oven or deep-fryer.

Peel the eggplant and slice into ¼-inch thick slices. Coat each side of the eggplant with the flour.

In a separate bowl beat 4 eggs and dip the eggplant into the egg to coat both sides. Then take your bread crumbs and do the same to coat each side.

Once the oil is hot, put the eggplant in the hot oil and fry until golden brown. You can also use a deep-fryer and leave in for about 2 to 3 minutes.

Once all of the eggplant has been fried, get a rectangular baking pan and start the layering by adding the marinara sauce to the bottom of the pan, then the eggplant, more sauce, fresh mozzarella, Romano cheese, and continue to layer until you have reached the top of the pan. Top off with sauce, mozzarella, and grated Romano.

Place the baking pan into the oven and cook for 20 to 25 minutes.

Tagliarelle with Truffle Butter

Oh my! This pasta dish was oh so perfectly decadent! I loved the simplicity of this recipe, yet there is no sacrificing any flavor. The tagliarelle pasta was so delicate, and the cream and white truffle butter sauce was a perfect complement to the tender texture of the pasta. I will definitely make this recipe over and over again!

Tagliarelle with Truffle Butter, Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics

Kosher salt
½ cup heavy cream
3 ounces white truffle butter
Freshly ground black pepper
1 (8.82-ounce) package Cipriani tagliarelle dried pasta or other egg fettuccine
3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
3 ounces Parmesan, shaved thin with a vegetable peeler

Add 1 tablespoon salt to a large pot of water and bring to a boil.

Meanwhile, in a large (12-inch) sauté pan, heat the cream over medium heat until it comes to a simmer. Add the truffle butter, 1 teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper, lower the heat to very low, and swirl the butter until it melts. Keep warm over very low heat.

Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook for 3 minutes, exactly. (If you're not using Cipriani pasta, follow the directions on the package.) When the pasta is cooked, reserve ½ cup of the cooking water, then drain the pasta. Add the drained pasta to the sauté pan and toss it with the truffle-cream mixture. As the pasta absorbs the sauce, add as much of the reserved cooking water, as necessary, to keep the pasta very creamy.

Serve the pasta in shallow bowls and garnish each serving with a generous sprinkling of chives and shaved Parmesan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve at once.

Slow-Cooked Scrambled Eggs with Green Herbs

I made these scrambled eggs for Christmas Day breakfast with my family. These eggs were beautifully fluffy with specks of green from the fresh herbs and scallions. Delicious with a side of bacon!

Source: Slow-Cooked Scrambled Eggs with Green Herbs, Ina Garten

10 extra-large eggs
16 tablespoons whole milk or half-and-half
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley leaves
1 tablespoon minced scallions, white and green parts
1 tablespoon minced fresh dill

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, salt, and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon of butter in a large sauté or omelet pan. Add the eggs and cook them over low heat, folding them over almost constantly with a rubber spatula, until the desired doneness. Off the heat, add the remaining tablespoon of butter, the parsley, scallions, and dill. Stir until the butter is melted. Check for seasonings. Serve hot.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Eggnog Crème Brulee

McHubby and I love crème brulee, but I wanted to do something a bit more festive for the holiday. This eggnog crème brulee was wonderful—a decadently delicious dessert! Whenever we serve crème brulee at our dinner parties, each guest gets to torch their own, making it fun and entertaining, as well!

Eggnog Crème Brulee, Brian M. Jones

2 cups eggnog
4 egg yolks
¼ cup white sugar
3 ounces mascarpone cheese, softened
1 dash ground nutmeg (optional)
1 dash ground cinnamon (optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Place 4 ramekins or custard cups into a shallow baking dish, and fill the dish with water to half-way up the sides of the ramekins.

Pour the eggnog into a pan over medium heat. Cook and stir occasionally until the mixture simmers, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, place the egg yolks and sugar into a mixing bowl; beat until light colored and frothy. Stir in the mascarpone until well blended and smooth. Whisk ¼ cup of the heated eggnog mixture into the eggs. Gradually whisk the remaining eggnog into the eggs. Pour the mixture through a fine sieve to remove any egg strands. If desired, stir in the nutmeg, cinnamon, and vanilla. Pour into the prepared ramekins, dividing evenly.

Bake in preheated oven until custard has set, 30 to 45 minutes. Centers should wiggle slightly when shaken, but not be soupy.

Remove from oven and cool 30 minutes; refrigerate at least 3 hours before serving.

Sausage-Stuffed Mushrooms

I love mushrooms, and for the second Barefoot Bloggers selection this month, we are making Sausage-Stuffed Mushrooms. I made these as appetizers for our family’s Christmas Eve dinner. Since my sister is vegetarian, I made some with sausage (pictured below) and some without (pictured at the bottom of this post). Either way, they were savory and delicious, and received rave reviews! A special thanks to Michelle of Welcome to the Club for choosing this recipe, and Merry Christmas and happy eating to all!

Sausage-Stuffed Mushrooms, Ina Garten

16 extra-large white mushrooms
5 tablespoons good olive oil, divided
2 ½ tablespoons Marsala wine or medium sherry
¾ pound sweet Italian sausage, removed from the casings
6 scallions, white and green parts, minced
2 garlic cloves minced
⅔ cup panko crumbs
5 ounces mascarpone cheese, preferably from Italy
⅓ cup freshly grated Parmesan
2 ½ tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Remove the stems from the mushrooms and chop them finely. Set aside. Place the mushroom caps in a shallow bowl and toss with 3 tablespoons of the olive oil and Marsala. Set aside.

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the sausage, crumbling it with the back of a wooden spoon. Cook the sausage for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until it's completely browned. Add the chopped mushroom stems and cook for 3 more minutes. Stir in the scallions and garlic and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the panko crumbs, stirring to combine evenly with all the other ingredients. Finally, swirl in the mascarpone and continue cooking until the mascarpone has melted and made the sausage mixture creamy. Off the heat, stir in the Parmesan, parsley, and season with salt and pepper, to taste, Cool slightly.

Fill each mushroom generously with the sausage mixture. Arrange the mushrooms in a baking dish large enough to hold all the mushrooms in a snug single layer. Bake until the stuffing for 50 minutes, until the stuffing is browned and crusty.

Mediterranean Couscous Salad

I love couscous, especially the Israeli variety. This dish was a great side dish as part of our Christmas dinner. Not only was it beautiful with the various colors from the cranberries, fresh herbs, and almonds, but it was also delicious.

Mediterranean Salad, Giada De Laurentiis

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus ¼ cup
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 (1-pound) box Israeli couscous (or any small pasta)
3 cups chicken stock
2 lemons, juiced
1 lemon, zested
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
½ cup chopped fresh mint leaves
¼ cup dried cranberries
¼ cup slivered almonds, toasted

In a medium saucepan, warm 3 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the couscous and cook until toasted and lightly browned, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Carefully add the stock, and the juice of 1 lemon, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the couscous is tender, but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain the couscous.

In a large bowl, toss the cooked couscous with the remaining olive oil, remaining lemon juice, zest, salt, and pepper and let cool.

Once the couscous is room temperature, add the fresh herbs, dried cranberries, and almonds. Toss to combine and serve.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Holiday Peppermint Bark

This is our friend Amy’s favorite peppermint bark. She asks for it every year for the holidays. I keep telling her that it couldn’t be easier to make! This peppermint bark brings out the sweet taste of the holidays!

24 ounces milk chocolate bark
24 ounces white chocolate bark
12 candy canes, broken into small pieces

Over a double boiler, melt the milk chocolate until smooth. Remove from heat and pour into a sheet pan. Spread the chocolate to the edges of the pan. Bang the pan on a counter several times to even out the chocolate and release any air bubbles. Place the pan in the refrigerator and allow to cool and harden, about 20-30 minutes.

While the milk chocolate is cooling, melt the white chocolate over a double boiler until smooth. Remove from heat and pour over top of the milk chocolate in the sheet pan. Spread the white chocolate to the edges of the pan. Bang the pan on a counter several times to even out the white chocolate and release any air bubbles. Sprinkle the candy cane pieces into the white chocolate. Place the sheet pan back into the refrigerator to cool and harden, about 60 minutes.

Once hardened, use a knife to break apart the bark into pieces.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Spinach and Gruyère Soufflé

This savory soufflé looks much more complicated than it really is. The soufflé bakes beautifully puffed and brown. Serve this dish when you want to impress.

Source: Everyday Food magazine, December 2009

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for baking dish
⅓ cup plain dried breadcrumbs
5 cups (5 ounces) packed spinach, trimmed and washed
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons whole milk
½ cup grated Gruyère cheese
Coarse salt and ground pepper
2 large eggs, separated, plus 2 large egg whites

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Butter a round 1-quart tall-sided baking dish and dust with breadcrumbs; set aside. In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons water over medium-high. Add spinach and cook, stirring constantly, until wilted, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a strainer to cool; press to release liquid.

In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium until bubbling. Add flour and whisk until a paste forms. Continue to cook until pale blond in color, 2 to 3 minutes. Whisking, gradually add milk. Cook, whisking, until lumps are gone and mixture is thickened, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in cheese until melted; season with salt and pepper. Transfer soufflé base to a large bowl.

In a food processor, pulse spinach and egg yolks until coarsely puréed. Add ¼ cup soufflé base; pulse until blended. Stir spinach mixture into remaining soufflé base. (To store, press plastic wrap against surface and keep at room temperature, up to 4 hours.)

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat 4 egg whites and pinch of salt on medium-high until stiff peaks form (do not overbeat), about 3 minutes. In 2 additions, gently fold egg whites into soufflé base. Pour batter into prepared dish and bake until soufflé is tall, browned, and firm to the touch, about 35 minutes. (Avoid opening oven during first 25 minutes of baking.) Serve immediately.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Chocolate Banana Pound Cake

Whenever I have very ripe bananas, I start thinking about banana bread. This time, though, I found this recipe for a chocolate pound cake that uses ripe bananas. It also uses cinnamon chips, which is well worth the effort to find. The cinnamon chips really add to the flavor and melt into the cake as it bakes—it doesn’t stay in chunks the way chocolate does. This cake was nearly effortless to make and oh so moist, delicious, and beautiful!

Source: Chocolate Banana Pound Cake, Chocolate from the Cake Mix Doctor

Vegetable oil spray for misting the pan
Flour for dusting the pan
2 ripe bananas
1 package (18.25 ounces) plain German chocolate cake mix
¾ cup buttermilk
½ cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup cinnamon chips

Chocolate Cinnamon Glaze
½ cup sugar
5 tablespoons butter
¼ cup milk
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
⅔ cup cinnamon chips
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly mist a 12-cup Bundt pan with vegetable oil spray, then dust with flour. Shake out the excess flour. Set the pan aside.

Peel the bananas and place them in a large mixing bowl. With the electric mixer on low speed, blend them until mashed. Add the cake mix, buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla to the bananas. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed for 1 minute. Stop the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat 2 minutes more, scraping the sides down again if needed. The batter should look thick and well combined. Fold in the cinnamon chips, making sure they are well distributed throughout the batter. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing it out with the rubber spatula. Place the pan in the oven.

Bake the cake until it springs back when lightly pressed with your finger and is just starting to pull away from the sides of the pan, 38 to 40 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and place it on a wire rack to cool for 20 minutes. Run a long, sharp knife around the edge of the cake and invert it onto a rack to cool completely, 20 minutes more.

Meanwhile, prepare the Chocolate Cinnamon Glaze. Place the sugar, butter, and milk in a medium-size saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir until the butter melts and the mixture comes to a boil, 3 to 4 minutes. Still stirring, let the mixture boil for 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the cocoa powder, cinnamon chips, and vanilla until the cinnamon chips are melted and the glaze is smooth. Stir, and let the glaze cool for a few minutes, until it thickens slightly.

Spoon the glaze over the cooled cake. Let the cake rest for 10 minutes before slicing. Place the cake on a serving platter, slice, and serve.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Warm Vanilla Cider

I love a warm apple cider on a cold day, especially during the holiday season. This is an easy and tasty recipe for cider that is infused with the flavors of vanilla and nutmeg. Delicious!

Source: Martha Stewart Living magazine, October 2009

6 cups fresh apple cider
2 tablespoons packed dark-brown sugar
2 whole nutmeg seeds
1 vanilla bean (split and scraped)
¾ cup bourbon (optional)
Whipped cream

Combine apple cider, brown sugar, nutmeg seeds, and vanilla bean in a medium saucepan. Gently simmer over medium-low heat for 15 minutes. Remove from heat, and add bourbon if desired. Remove and discard solids. Divide among 6 mugs or heatproof glasses, and top each with a dollop of whipped cream.

Lemon Wreaths

Each year, I host a cookie exchange party, and for this year’s event, I chose to make Lemon Wreaths. These cookies look like little bagels when baked and have a mild flavor, like shortbread. The glaze that coats them imparts more of the lemon flavor. After they are glazed, you can decorate them with your favorite holiday sugars and nonpareils to make them festive for the season.

Source: Martha Stewart Living, December 2009
Makes 6 dozen

3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for surface
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 ¼ teaspoons coarse salt
⅔ cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon plus 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

For the glaze:
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
7 to 8 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from 4 lemons)
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons white nonpareils, for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Make the cookies: Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Pulse sugar and zest in a food processor until combined, about 2 minutes.

Beat sugar-zest mixture and butter in a mixer on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla and lemon juice. Reduce speed to low. Gradually add flour mixture, and beat until combined.

Scoop 1 tablespoon dough (or use a 1 ⅛-inch ice cream scoop), and transfer to a lightly floured surface. Roll dough into a 4-inch rope. Bring ends together, overlapping slightly, and press together to form a ring. Repeat with remaining dough. Transfer rings to parchment-lined baking sheets, about 1 ½ inches apart, as you work. Bake until pale golden on the bottoms and around the edges, about 18 minutes. Transfer to wire racks, and let cool.

Make the glaze: Whisk together confectioners’ sugar and lemon juice in a small bowl until smooth. Dip the top side of each cookie into glaze, letting excess drip off. Return cookies to wire racks, glaze side up, and sprinkle with nonpareils. Let dry completely.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Croissant Bread Pudding

I love love love bread pudding, so I was delighted to see this Barefoot Bloggers selection, chosen by Peggy of Pantry Revisited. This is a tasty recipe that’s so easy to prepare. It starts with making the custard mixture. (Be sure to save those egg whites—they can be frozen and used later!) Then stack the croissant halves and raisins—I substituted dried cranberries—and pour the custard mixture over top and allow to soak. The bread pudding bakes in a bain-marie (or water bath), and it comes out of the oven, puffed golden brown and smelling heavenly. The result is a delicious and decadent dessert!

Croissant Bread Pudding, The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook

3 extra-large whole eggs
8 extra-large egg yolks
5 cups half-and-half
1 ½ cups sugar
1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
6 croissants, preferably stale, sliced horizontally
1 cup raisins

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the whole eggs, egg yolks, half-and-half, sugar, and vanilla. Set the custard mixture aside. Slice the croissants in half horizontally. In a 10 by 15 by 2 ½-inch oval baking dish, distribute the bottoms of the sliced croissants, then add the raisins, then the tops of the croissants (brown side up), being sure the raisins are between the layers of croissants or they will burn while baking. Pour the custard over the croissants and allow to soak for 10 minutes, pressing down gently.

Place the pan in a larger one filled with 1-inch of hot water. Cover the larger pan with aluminum foil, tenting the foil so it doesn't touch the pudding. Cut a few holes in the foil to allow steam to escape. Bake for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake for 40 to 45 more minutes or until the pudding puffs up and the custard is set. Remove from the oven and cool slightly. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Favorite Chicken Pot Pie

Today, we had our first snow of the season. I was craving chicken pot pie, the piping hot comfort food of childhood that everybody loves! I won’t lie—this recipe takes some time to prepare. It was more involved than I usually make, but it’s a snowy Saturday and some meals are just worth the effort and time it takes. However, you can certainly split the work for this recipe and do some of the steps ahead of time (like roasting the chicken breasts or making the pastry).

This is an easy recipe to add your own touches, as well. You can add celery or potatoes, and you can substitute leftover Thanksgiving turkey for the chicken. I added a large clove of minced garlic. Also, instead of making individual servings, I made a large pot pie in an oval casserole.

This dish is absolutely superb! The filling was perfectly flavored and the sauce was nicely thickened and bubbly hot. And the crust was light, flaky, and beautifully browned. Oh, so yummy! This dinner really hit the spot!

Chicken Pot Pie, Barefoot Contessa

3 whole (6 split) chicken breasts, bone-in, skin-on
3 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
5 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
2 chicken bouillon cubes
12 tablespoons (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter
2 cups yellow onions, chopped (2 onions)
¾ cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup heavy cream
2 cups medium-diced carrots, blanched for 2 minutes
1 (10-ounce) package frozen peas (2 cups)
1 ½ cups frozen small whole onions
½ cup minced fresh parsley leaves

For the pastry:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ cup vegetable shortening
¼ pound cold unsalted butter, diced
½ to ⅔ cup ice water
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash
Flaked sea salt and cracked black pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the chicken breasts on a baking sheet and rub them with olive oil. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, or until cooked through. Set aside until cool enough to handle, then remove the meat from the bones and discard the skin. Cut the chicken into large dice. You will have 4 to 6 cups of cubed chicken.

In a small saucepan, heat the chicken stock and dissolve the bouillon cubes in the stock. In a large pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter and sauté the onions over medium-low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, until translucent. Add the flour and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Add the hot chicken stock to the sauce. Simmer over low heat for 1 more minute, stirring, until thick. Add 2 teaspoons salt, ½ teaspoon pepper, and heavy cream. Add the cubed chicken, carrots, peas, onions and parsley. Mix well.

For the pastry, mix the flour, salt, and baking powder in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Add the shortening and butter and mix quickly with your fingers until each piece is coated with flour. Pulse 10 times, or until the fat is the size of peas. With the motor running, add the ice water; process only enough to moisten the dough and have it just come together. Dump the dough out onto a floured board and knead quickly into a ball. Wrap the dough in plastic and allow it to rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Divide the filling equally among 4 ovenproof bowls. Divide the dough into quarters and roll each piece into an 8-inch circle. Brush the outside edges of each bowl with the egg wash, then place the dough on top. Trim the circle to ½-inch larger than the top of the bowl. Crimp the dough to fold over the side, pressing it to make it stick. Brush the dough with egg wash and make 3 slits in the top. Sprinkle with sea salt and cracked pepper. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 1 hour, or until the top is golden brown and the filling is bubbling hot.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Contessa's Company Pot Roast

I love pot roast but I haven’t had it in a long time, so I was looking forward to making the Contessa’s Company Pot Roast, chosen by Lisa of Lime in the Coconut for Barefoot Bloggers. This pot roast is perfectly flavored and fork tender. While it was cooking, the aroma emanating from the oven was so enticing, I couldn’t wait for dinner! I can understand why this pot roast is special enough to serve to company!

Company Pot Roast, Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics

1 (4 to 5-pound) prime boneless beef chuck roast, tied
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
All-purpose flour
Good olive oil
2 cups chopped carrots (4 carrots)
2 cups chopped yellow onions (2 onions)
2 cups chopped celery (4 stalks)
2 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts (2 to 4 leeks)
5 large garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
2 cups good red wine, such as Burgundy
2 tablespoons Cognac or brandy
1 (28-ounce) can whole plum tomatoes in puree
1 cup chicken stock, preferably homemade
1 chicken bouillon cube
3 branches fresh thyme
2 branches fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Pat the beef dry with a paper towel. Season the roast all over with 1 tablespoon salt and 1 ½ teaspoons pepper. Dredge the whole roast in flour, including the ends. In a large Dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add the roast and sear for 4 to 5 minutes, until nicely browned. Turn and sear the other side and then turn and sear the ends. This should take 4 to 5 minutes for each side. Remove the roast to a large plate.

Add 2 tablespoons olive oil to the Dutch oven. Add the carrots, onions, celery, leeks, garlic, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 ½ teaspoons pepper and cook over medium heat for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender but not browned. Add the wine and Cognac and bring to a boil. Add the tomatoes, chicken stock, bouillon cube, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Tie the thyme and rosemary together with kitchen string and add to the pot. Put the roast back into the pot, bring to a boil, and cover. Place in the oven for 2 ½ hours, until the meat is fork tender or about 160 degrees F internally. Turn the heat down to 250 degrees F after about an hour to keep the sauce at a simmer.

Remove the roast to a cutting board. Remove the herb bundle and discard. Skim off as much fat as possible from the sauce. Transfer half the sauce and vegetables to a blender or a food processor fitted with the steel blade and puree until smooth. Pour the puree back into the pot, place on the stovetop over low heat, and return the sauce to a simmer. Place 2 tablespoons flour and the butter in a small bowl and mash them together with a fork. Stir into the sauce and simmer for 2 minutes, stirring until thickened. Taste for seasonings. Remove the strings from the roast, and slice the meat. Serve warm with the sauce spooned over it.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Orzo with Mustard Greens

I admit that I was less than enthused when I received mustard greens in my CSA bag—I’ve never been much of a fan—but I was willing to try them in a new recipe. I added a chopped clove of garlic and the juice of the lemon. This dish was super simple to make, and it was great for a light and tasty lunch.

Orzo with Mustard Greens, Peter Berley

2 tablespoons coarse sea salt or kosher salt, plus more for serving
1 ½ cups orzo
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 pound red mustard greens, chopped (green mustard, baby spinach, or mild arugula may be substituted)
Grated zest of 1 lemon
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup freshly grated Asiago cheese, for garnish

Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add 2 tablespoons salt. When the water returns to a boil, stir in the orzo and cook until al dente, about 6 to 7 minutes. Drain well.

Return the cooked orzo to the pot, stir in the butter, and place over high heat. Add the mustard greens and lemon zest and cook, stirring until the greens wilt, about 3 to 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with the freshly grated cheese on top.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Cauliflower and Celery Root Mash

I’ve made cauliflower mash and celery root mash as separate dishes before, but I thought it would be good to combine the two vegetables. Celery root, or celeriac, is an ugly, lumpy root ball from the celery family (it's not the familiar celery, though). While the outside of this root is unattractive, the unique flavor is fresh and mild with the texture of a potato. This side dish is a wonderful healthy alternative to mashed potatoes, without sacrificing any flavor.

1 large head cauliflower, florets removed
1 celery root, peeled and diced
2 large cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
2 tablespoons butter
½ cup milk
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Place cauliflower, celery root, and garlic in a large stock pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and allow vegetables to cook until soft enough to pierce easily with a knife, about 15 minutes.

When vegetables are done, drain and place in a food processor. Add butter, milk, and thyme. Process until smooth. Salt and pepper to taste.

Sweet Potato Pie

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday—it’s a holiday based completely around a feast of food, family, and friends. McHubby and I are going to our families’ dinner tables for Thanksgiving this year. I must admit that it’s hard to see all the wonderful seasonal produce in the grocery store and great traditional recipes when I’m not going to be cooking Thanksgiving dinner this year. I couldn’t help myself, so I simply had to make a few things.

In my last CSA bag, I received several plump sweet potatoes, which meant that a southern sweet potato pie was in order! This dessert possesses a flavor of fall, with a sweet and fluffy puree filling topped with a cloud of meringue.

Old Fashioned Sweet Potato Pie, Paula Deen

2 cups peeled, cooked sweet potatoes
1 ¼ cups sugar
½ stick melted butter
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or 1 to 2 tablespoons bourbon
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
1 cup milk
9-inch unbaked pie crust
3 egg whites

Preheat oven to 350°F.

For the filling, using an electric hand mixer, combine the potatoes, 1 cup of the sugar, the butter, eggs, vanilla, salt, and spices. Mix thoroughly. Add the milk and continue to mix. Pour the filling into the pie crust and bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Place the pie on a rack and cool to room temperature before covering with meringue.

For the meringue, using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form; beat in the remaining ¼ cup sugar 1 tablespoon at a time. Continue beating until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is glossy and stiff, but not dry. With a rubber spatula, spoon the meringue onto the pie, forming peaks. Make sure the meringue touches the crust all around. Sprinkle with a pinch of granulated sugar. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until delicately browned. Cool and serve.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Crème Brulee

McHubby and I love crème brulee. In fact, it was his dessert of choice throughout our honeymoon in French Polynesia, where the vanilla is abundant and aromatic. This Barefoot Bloggers recipe selection, brought to us by Suzie of Munch + Nibble, is a delicious indulgence. Crème brulee, which translates to “burnt cream,” starts with a custard of egg yolks, heavy cream, and sugar. (I used vanilla sugar in this recipe for a more accentuated vanilla flavoring. Alternatively, you can add a vanilla bean to the cream as it heats; it will add delightful black specks of vanilla throughout the creamy custard.) After dividing the custard among individual ramekins, it is baked in a bain-marie until set, and then cooled until firm. Finally, it is topped with a dusting of sugar that is torched to form a caramelized crust atop the velvety vanilla custard. A luxurious dessert!

Source: Crème Brulee, Barefoot in Paris

1 extra-large egg
4 extra-large egg yolks
½ cup sugar, plus 1 tablespoon for each serving
3 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon orange liqueur (recommended: Grand Marnier)

Preheat oven to 300°F.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the egg, egg yolks, and ½ cup of the sugar together on low speed until just combined. Meanwhile, scald the cream in a small saucepan until it's very hot to the touch but not boiled. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the cream to the eggs. Add the vanilla and orange liqueur and pour into 6 to 8-ounce ramekins until almost full.

Place the ramekins in a baking pan and carefully pour boiling water into the pan to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the custards are set when gently shaken. Remove the custards from the water bath, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate until firm.

To serve, spread 1 tablespoon of sugar evenly on the top of each ramekin and heat with a kitchen blowtorch until the sugar caramelizes evenly. Allow to sit at room temperature for a minute until the caramelized sugar hardens.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Caramelized Butternut Squash

I was so excited to make this Barefoot Bloggers Recipe Challenge with the fresh butternut squash from my CSA bag, and it was so fast and easy to prepare. The butter and brown sugar simply enhanced the natural velvety sweet flavor of the butternut squash. This side dish was so delicious, I kept sampling pieces of butternut squash right from the pan.

Caramelized Butternut Squash, The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook

2 medium butternut squash (4 to 5 pounds total)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
¼ cup light brown sugar, packed
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Cut off and discard the ends of each butternut squash. Peel the squash, cut them in half lengthwise, and remove the seeds. Cut the squash into 1 ¼ to 1 ½-inch cubes and place them on a baking sheet. Add the melted butter, brown sugar, salt, and pepper. With clean hands, toss all the ingredients together and spread in a single layer on the baking sheet. Roast for 45 to 55 minutes, until the squash is tender and the glaze begins to caramelize. While roasting, turn the squash a few times with a spatula, to be sure it browns evenly. Taste for seasonings and serve hot.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Potato, Kale, and Kielbasa Casserole

This dish reminded me of a variation of shepherd’s pie with flavors of German cuisine, which I love. This one-pot meal has everything—mashed potatoes, sausage, greens, and cheese—and the flavors work well together. I was able to use the kale, potatoes, and onions from my CSA bag. It’s easy to assemble and can be made in advance.

Potato, Kale, and Kielbasa Casserole, Gourmet, February 1992

3 pounds russet (baking) potatoes (about 6)
½ stick (¼ cup) unsalted butter
¾ cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 ½ pounds kale, coarse stems discarded and the leaves washed well
½ pound Münster, grated coarse (about 2 cups)
1 pound smoked kielbasa, cut crosswise into ¼-inch-thick pieces
2 large onions, halved lengthwise and sliced thing crosswise

Preheat oven to 400°F.

In a kettle combine the potatoes, peeled and quartered, with enough water to cover them by 2 inches, bring the water to a boil, and boil the potatoes for 15 minutes, or until they are tender. Transfer the potatoes with a slotted spoon to a colander, reserving the cooking liquid, and force them through a ricer into a bowl. Add the butter, ½ cup of the broth, the vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste and combine the mixture well. Bring the reserved cooking liquid to a boil, add the kale, and boil it for 20 minutes, or until it is crisp-tender. Drain the kale in the colander, refresh it under cold water, and press out the excess water. Stir the kale and 1 cup of the Münster into the potato mixture and spread the mixture in a buttered 13- by 9-inch baking dish.

In a large skillet brown the kielbasa over moderate heat and transfer it to a bowl with the slotted spoon. In the fat remaining in the skillet cook the onions over moderate heat, stirring, until they are golden and stir them into the kielbasa. Scatter the kielbasa mixture on top of the potato mixture, sprinkle it with the remaining Münster, and pour the remaining ¼ cup broth on top. The casserole may be prepared up to this point 1 day in advance and kept covered and chilled. Bake the casserole in the middle of the oven for 20 minutes, or until it is heated through.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars

McHubby was as excited as a kid when I told him about this Barefoot Bloggers recipe challenge. These dessert bars are like peanut butter and jelly blondies—so rich and sweet! This recipe will take you back to your childhood!

Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars, Barefoot Contessa

½ pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 ½ cups sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
2 cups (18 ounces) creamy peanut butter (recommended: Skippy)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
1 ½ cups (18 ounces) raspberry jam or other jam
⅔ cups salted peanuts, coarsely chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Grease a 9 by 13 by 2-inch cake pan. Line it with parchment paper, then grease and flour the pan.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until light yellow, about 2 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, add the vanilla, eggs, and peanut butter and mix until all ingredients are combined.

In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the flour mixture to the peanut butter mixture. Mix just until combined.

Spread ⅔ of the dough into the prepared cake pan and spread over the bottom with a knife or offset spatula. Spread the jam evenly over the dough. Drop small globs of the remaining dough evenly over the jam. Don't worry if all the jam isn't covered; it will spread in the oven. Sprinkle with chopped peanuts and bake for 45 minutes, until golden brown. Cool and cut into squares.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Chicken Chili

This dish was selected as part of the Barefoot Bloggers Recipe Challenge. I usually like beefy chili recipes, but I was willing to give this a try. After all, it is one of Ina’s recipes! I roasted the chicken ahead of time, so it came together pretty quickly, other than the simmering time.

The verdict? This lighter, healthier chili was tasty, but it wasn’t my favorite. I didn’t think it was spicy enough—I would probably add a chopped chipotle pepper.

Chicken Chili, Barefoot Contessa Parties!

4 cups chopped yellow onions (3 onions)
⅛ cup good olive oil, plus extra for chicken
⅛ cup minced garlic (2 cloves)
2 red bell peppers, cored, seeded, and large-diced
2 yellow bell peppers, cored, seeded, and large-diced
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon dried red pepper flakes, or to taste
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more for chicken
2 (28-ounce) cans whole peeled plum tomatoes in puree, undrained
¼ cup minced fresh basil leaves
4 split chicken breasts, bone in, skin on
Freshly ground black pepper

For serving:
Chopped onions, corn chips, grated cheddar, sour cream

Cook the onions in the oil over medium-low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the bell peppers, chili powder, cumin, red pepper flakes, cayenne, and salt. Cook for 1 minute. Crush the tomatoes by hand or in batches in a food processor fitted with a steel blade (pulse 6 to 8 times). Add to the pot with the basil. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Rub the chicken breasts with olive oil and place them on a baking sheet. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Roast the chicken for 35 to 40 minutes, until just cooked. Let cool slightly. Separate the meat from the bones and skin and cut it into ¾-inch chunks. Add to the chili and simmer, uncovered, for another 20 minutes. Serve with the toppings, or refrigerate and reheat gently before serving.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Contessa’s Roasted Potato Leek Soup

Soup is comforting and wonderful, particularly when the weather shifts to colder temperatures. This recipe incorporates ingredients I love individually; combined, it creates a smooth, silky puree that is perfectly flavored.

Roasted Potato Leek Soup, Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics

2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into ¾-inch chunks
4 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts, cleaned of all sand (4 leeks)
¼ cup good olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 cups baby arugula, lightly packed
½ cup dry white wine, plus extra for serving
6 to 7 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
¾ cup heavy cream
8 ounces crème fraiche
¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus extra for garnish

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Combine the potatoes and leeks on a sheet pan in a single layer. Add the olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper and toss to coat the vegetables evenly. Roast for 40 to 45 minutes, turning them with a spatula a few times during cooking, until very tender. Add the arugula and toss to combine. Roast for 4 to 5 more minutes, until the arugula is wilted. Remove the pan from the oven and place over 2 burners. Stir in the wine and 1 cup of the chicken stock and cook over low heat, scraping up any crispy roasted bits sticking to the pan.

In batches, transfer the roasted vegetables to a food processor fitted with the steel blade, adding the pan liquid and about 5 cups of the chicken stock to make a puree. Pour the puree into a large pot or Dutch oven. Continue to puree the vegetables in batches until they're all done and combined in the large pot. Add enough of the remaining 1 to 2 cups of stock to make a thick soup. Add the cream, crème fraiche, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper and check the seasonings.

When ready to serve, reheat the soup gently and whisk in 2 tablespoons white wine and ¼ cup of Parmesan. Serve hot with an extra grating of Parmesan.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Swiss Chard and Sweet Pea Manicotti

I had a beautiful bunch of red and yellow Swiss chard from my CSA share. Always looking to try something new, this manicotti recipe looked good enough to try. As I’ve said before, I quickly take note of long lists of ingredients in recipes, but since it was a dreary, rainy Sunday, I had plenty of time to get this dish together.

When I pulled the baking dish out of the oven, the manicotti was perfectly browned and bubbling with a wonderful aroma that filled the house. This recipe was so delicious—well worth the effort (and the mess it made of my kitchen)! The filling was a silky, cheesy veggie puree, and the Fontina Fonduta sauce was sublime. Buon appetito!

Swiss Chard and Sweet Pea Manicotti, Giada De Laurentiis

Butter, for greasing the pan
12 manicotti or cannelloni pasta shells

1 head (about 12 ounces) red or white Swiss chard
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 (15-ounce) container whole milk ricotta cheese
¾ cup frozen petite peas, thawed
1 cup shredded mozzarella (4 ounces)
¾ cup grated Parmesan (2 ounces)
¼ cup chopped fresh basil leaves
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

Fontina Fonduta Sauce:
¾ cup whole milk
½ cup heavy whipping cream
3 cups (6 ounces) Fontina cheese, grated
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
1 ½ cups (6 ounces) mozzarella, shredded

Special Equipment: a pastry bag fitted with a large plain tip (recommended: Ateco #7)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Grease a 13 by 9-inch glass baking dish liberally with butter.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 6 to 8 minutes. Drain the pasta and rinse with cold water. Set aside.

For the Filling:

Using kitchen scissors or a knife, remove the leaves from the stems of the chard. Discard the stems. Chop the leaves into 1-inch pieces. In a large nonstick skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until soft, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute longer. Add the chard and cook, stirring constantly, until wilted, about 2 minutes. Allow the mixture to cool slightly. Place the ricotta cheese, peas, mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese, basil, salt, and pepper in the bowl of a food processor. Add the cooled chard mixture and blend until smooth. Spoon the mixture into the prepared pastry bag and fill each manicotti shell with the filling. Place the stuffed manicotti in the prepared baking dish.

For the Fontina Fonduta Sauce:
In a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, bring milk and cream to a simmer, over medium heat. Reduce heat to low. Add the Fontina cheese and cook, stirring constantly, until the cheese is melted and the mixture is smooth. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the Parmesan cheese and basil.

Pour the sauce over the stuffed manicotti and sprinkle with the mozzarella cheese. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until the top is golden. Cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Chipotle Smashed Sweet Potatoes

This side dish was a different take on mashed sweet potatoes. The flavor is an interesting and complex mix of the creamy sweetness of the sweet potatoes and the smoky spiciness of the chipotle pepper. Tasty!

Chipotle Smashed Sweet Potatoes, Alton Brown

2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 whole canned chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, chopped
1 teaspoon adobo sauce from can of peppers
½ teaspoon salt

Put cubed potatoes into steamer basket and place steamer into a large pot of simmering water that is no closer than 2 inches from the bottom of basket. Allow to steam for 20 minutes or until the potatoes are fork tender. Add butter to potatoes and mash with potato masher. Add peppers, sauce, and salt and continue mashing to combine. Serve immediately.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Blue Cheese Soufflé

For my first soufflé ever, I’m diving in with the latest Barefoot Bloggers selection by Summer of Sexy Apartment. I’ve always found even the thought of making a soufflé pretty intimidating, but having made this recipe, it wasn’t as hard as I had imagined it to be. Any Barefoot Contessa fan knows how Ina loves her Roquefort blue cheese, and this recipe packs a lot of rich flavor. The lovely aroma of cheese emanated from my oven as it baked. And, despite the Contessa’s instructions not to peek, I could not help myself—I was so worried that my soufflé would not rise properly or might deflate, but surprisingly it came out perfectly tall and beautifully browned. Success!!

Blue Cheese Soufflé, Barefoot in Paris

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing the dish
¼ cup finely grated Parmesan, plus extra for sprinkling
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup scalded milk
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Pinch cayenne pepper
Pinch nutmeg
4 extra-large egg yolks, at room temperature
3 ounces good Roquefort cheese, chopped
5 extra-large egg whites, at room temperature
⅛ teaspoon cream of tartar

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Butter the inside of an 8-cup soufflé dish (7 ½ inches in diameter and 3 ¼ inches deep) and sprinkle evenly with Parmesan.

Melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat. With a wooden spoon, stir in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Off the heat, whisk in the hot milk, ½ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon black pepper, the cayenne, and nutmeg. Cook over low heat, whisking constantly, for 1 minute, until smooth and thick.

Off the heat, while still hot, whisk in the egg yolks, one at a time. Stir in the Roquefort and the ¼ cup of Parmesan and transfer to a large mixing bowl.

Put the egg whites, cream of tartar, and a pinch of salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on low speed for 1 minute, on medium speed for 1 minute, then finally on high speed until they form firm, glossy peaks.

Whisk ¼ of the egg whites into the cheese sauce to lighten and then fold in the rest. Pour into the soufflé dish, then smooth the top. Draw a large circle on top with the spatula to help the soufflé rise evenly, and place in the middle of the oven. Turn the temperature down to 375 degrees F. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes (don't peek!) until puffed and brown. Serve immediately.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Winter Squash and Sage Ravioli

We received some beautiful butternut squash and acorn squash in our CSA bag, and I wanted to do something special with them. This recipe offers an easier and faster way to make ravioli by using eggroll wrappers instead of more traditional pasta. I really liked the outcome, though, because it’s thinner and lighter than pasta. The sage-flavored squash puree is a great way to showcase these lovely sweet and savory fall flavors.

Source: Winter Squash and Sage Ravioli, Stonewall Kitchen Harvest

16-ounce package 6-inch-square eggroll wrappers (20 eggroll wrappers)
1 ½ cups Italian-Style Winter Squash Puree (recipe follows)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon fresh sage, chopped, or 1 teaspoon dried
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons crème fraîche
⅛ teaspoon salt, or to taste
Whole sage leaves, for garnish

Place an eggroll wrapper on a clean surface. Using a small, dull kitchen knife, score the dough into 4 equal squares. (The idea is not to cut through the dough, but simply create lines that mark off 4 separate boxes.) Place 1 tablespoon of the squash puree in the center of each of the 4 squares.

Fill a small bowl with water and, using your finger, moisten the outer edge of the wrapper and the scoring lines. Place a second sheet of the dough on top. Using your fingers, pinch the dough together along the outside of the eggroll wrappers to seal them. Then pinch or press down the dough along the outline of each of the 4 boxes and in between them. (This seals together and creates 4 ravioli.) If there appear air pockets in the dough, use your fingers to seal a small circle around the filling so air will not get in. Use a pizza cutter or a knife to cut each of the 4 ravioli out of the dough. Repeat. (Don’t make the ravioli more than 1 hour before cooking, or they will dry out.) Place on paper towels, without stacking them.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, melt the butter. Add the sage and a generous grinding of pepper and cook over low heat for 1 minute.

Boil the ravioli, without crowding the pot, for 4 minutes, stirring to make sure they don’t stick. Carefully drain the ravioli and place on a large serving latter in one layer. (The ravioli are delicate and will stick to one another.) Pour the sage butter over the pasta and place a dollop of the crème fraîche on top. Sprinkle with the salt, season with pepper, and place the sage leaves in the middle as a garnish.

Italian-Style Winter Squash Puree
2 pounds winter squash, such as acorn, peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons crème fraîche, heavy cream, or plain low-fat yogurt
3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage, or 1 teaspoon dried
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Cut the squash in half and place flesh-side down on a baking sheet or pan. Roast for 30-40 minutes, until the peel gives slightly to the touch and the flesh is tender. Scoop the flesh from the peel into a bowl. Mash the squash with a potato masher. Stir in the butter and crème fraîche, and then add the cheese, sage, salt, and pepper.

Kale Gratin with Pancetta

I was excited to see kale in our CSA bag. Last time we got kale, I made Rachael Ray’s Portuguese Chouriço and Kale Soup, which was delicious. But I wanted to do something different this time, and I found another Rachael Ray recipe to try. Once the kale cooks down, it loses much of its volume. This recipe makes a small but scrumptious side dish. The caramelized pancetta and grated cheese round out the flavor of this dish.

Kale Gratin with Pancetta, Rachael Ray

1 ¼ to 1 ⅓ pounds kale, stems stripped and chopped, about 6 cups
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
¼ pound pancetta, chopped into ½-inch pieces
1 cup cream
2 cloves garlic, smashed and chopped
⅛ teaspoon grated nutmeg, eyeball it
Black pepper
½ cup breadcrumbs
½ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino Romano

Preheat the broiler but place the oven rack on the second shelf down from the heat source.
Bring a few inches of water to a boil in a deep skillet or pot, add the kale and salt and cook 5 to 6 minutes; drain and dry the greens.

Return the skillet to the stove over medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil and pancetta. Crisp the pancetta and add the cream and garlic. Season with nutmeg, salt, and pepper then reduce 7 to 8 minutes to about ½ to ⅔ cup. Add cooked greens to cream and stir to coat evenly. Transfer to shallow casserole.

Toss with breadcrumbs with the remaining 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil. Season the crumbs with salt and pepper and combine with cheese. Place the casserole on the second shelf under broiler and brown breadcrumbs and cheese for 5 minutes.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Sautéed Hakurei Turnips and Choi Sum

When I received these new farm fresh vegetables in this week’s CSA bag, I was eager to try them. Sweet flavored hakurei turnips can be enjoyed raw or cooked. Choi sum, related to bok choy and also called Chinese sprouting broccoli, has stems that are tender and succulent with a mild flavor. I wanted to prepare these veggies in a simple side dish recipe to highlight the flavors. I served these alongside a mild flaky white fish for a healthy dinner.

Adapted from:
Speedy Sautéed Hakurei Turnips and Greens, Deborah Geering

1 bunch hakurei turnips with greens
1 bunch choi sum
½ tablespoon olive oil
½ tablespoon butter
Salt and pepper to taste
¼ cup white wine

Rinse the turnips, greens, and choi sum well. Cut the greens from the turnips and chop into 2-inch pieces. Trim any straggly roots from the turnips and discard. Cut the turnips into quarters or eighths, depending on size. Cut the choi sum into 2-inch pieces.

In a sauté pan with a lid, heat the olive oil and butter. Add the turnips, sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper, and sauté until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Remove the turnips from the pan. Add the greens and choi sum to the pan, along with any moisture still clinging to the leaves. Cover the pan and allow the greens to cook, stirring once or twice, until just tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the white wine and cook until almost all the liquid is gone. Return the turnips to the pan; cook 1 to 2 minutes to heat through. Serve immediately.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Beer-Simmered Grilled Brats

These beer-simmered brats are perfect for the tailgate and can be entirely prepared on the grill pretty quickly. We used an aluminum grill pan to poach the sausages in the beer mix and transferred directly to the grill rack to finish cooking. The brats were so tasty!

Source: Beer-Simmered Grilled Sausages,
How to Grill

3 pounds uncooked bratwurst or sweet or hot Italian sausages
1 onion, thinly sliced
3 cups beer
1 cup water
About 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Mustard, for serving

Prick each sausage a half-dozen times with a needle, toothpick, or fork. Arrange the onion slices on the bottom of a sauté pan just large enough to hold all the sausages. Place the sausages on top and add beer and water to cover. Place the pan over medium heat and gradually bring the liquid to a simmer, not a rapid boil. Poach the sausages until half-cooked, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer the sausages to a rack on a baking sheet to drain or drain in a colander.

Set up the grill for direct grilling and preheat to medium-high.

When ready to cook, brush and oil the grill grate. Lightly brush the sausages on all sides with oil and place on the hot grate. Grill until the casings are crisp and nicely browned and the sausages are cooked through, 4 to 6 minutes per side. You may want to rotate the sausages 90 degrees after 2 minutes on each side to create an attractive crosshatch of grill marks. Should flare-ups arise, move the sausages to a different section of the grill. Use a slender metal skewer to test for doneness. Insert it into the center of one of the sausages: It should come out hot to the touch.

Transfer the sausages to plates or a platter and let rest for 3 minutes. Serve with plenty of mustard.

Hot and Smoky Baked Beans

I know this ingredient list is a little long, but this recipe couldn’t be easier. After cooking the bacon, it’s really just a matter of mixing together the remaining ingredients, pouring into a baking dish, and baking until beautifully browned and bubbly!

Source: Hot and Smoky Baked Beans, Bon Appétit, July 1999

6 bacon slices
1 ½ cups chopped onion
1 ¼ cups purchased barbecue sauce
¾ cup dark beer
¼ cup mild-flavored (light) molasses
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons (packed) dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
4 to 6 teaspoons minced canned chipotle chilies
6 15- to 16-ounce cans Great Northern beans, drained
Chopped fresh parsley

Preheat oven to 350°F. Cook bacon in large skillet over medium heat until crisp. Transfer to paper towels and drain. Transfer 2 ½ tablespoons bacon drippings from skillet to large bowl. Finely chop bacon; add to bowl. Add onion and next 7 ingredients to bowl and whisk to blend. Whisk in 4 to 6 teaspoons chipotle chilies, depending on spiciness desired. Stir in beans. Transfer bean mixture to 13 x 9 x 2-inch glass baking dish. Bake uncovered until liquid bubbles and thickens slightly, about 1 hour. Cool 10 minutes.

Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Cheddar Ale Dip

I made this dip as an appetizer for our “beer” themed tailgate. Super easy to prepare and tasty, we served with corn chips. This dip is great for preparing ahead of time and for travel. It should be served at room temperature.

Adapted from: Cheddar Ale Spread,
Culinary Concoctions By Peabody

8 ounce package of cream cheese, softened
2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 ½ cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons heavy cream
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup beer (anything but a light beer)
1 tablespoon fresh flat-leaf parsley, minced

Combine the cream cheese, mustard, cheddar cheese, cream and salt in a food processor. Process for 30 seconds, add the beer, and continue processing until very smooth. Stir in the parsley by hand until just dispersed.

Beer and Cheddar Risotto

I’m always game for risotto, and this one was a great dish for our “beer” themed tailgate. Creamy, cheesy, and rich in flavor—this was wonderful! If you want a vegetarian version, just substitute vegetable stock for the chicken stock.

Source: Beer and Cheddar Risotto, Cooking This and That

½ small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups Arborio rice
12-ounce bottle of beer (preferably not light beer)
6 cups chicken broth
5 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
⅓ cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
⅓ cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Pour chicken broth into medium saucepan. Keep warm over low heat.

Heat a large sauté pan over medium-low heat. Add butter and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Heat just until butter is melted. Add onion and sauté for 3-5 minutes, until soft and translucent. Turn heat to medium-high and add garlic. Cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute, just until fragrant.

Add rice and sauté for 2 minutes, stirring constantly until opaque, adding more olive oil as necessary to coat the rice.

Pour in beer, turn heat up to high until it starts to simmer.

Turn heat back to medium-low and add the chicken broth ½ cup at a time, stirring until liquid dissolves. You may not need to use all of the chicken broth—risotto should be creamy and just slightly al dente. This should take 30 minutes or more.

Remove from heat and stir in the cheeses and cayenne pepper.