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.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Stout Cupcakes

I was excited to make these cupcakes, the first recipe I’m trying from my new cookbook. The cake is a complex layering of flavors from the cinnamon, molasses, brown sugar, orange zest, and stout beer. I like buttercream frostings on my cupcakes, so I didn't use the stout glaze that goes with this recipe; instead, I made honey-cinnamon frosting, which was an excellent complement to the flavor of the cake.

Source: Stout Cupcakes, Honey-Cinnamon Frosting,
Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes

3 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon plus ⅛ teaspoon baking soda
1 ¾ teaspoons baking powder
1 ¼ teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 ¼ teaspoons freshly grated nutmeg
1 ¼ cups vegetable oil
1 ¼ cups unsulfured molasses
½ cup plus 1 tablespoon packed light-brown sugar
2 large whole eggs plus 1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
1 ¼ cups (10 ounces) stout beer, such as Guinness, poured and settled
Honey-Cinnamon Frosting (recipe follows)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

With an electric mixer on medium-low speed, beat oil, molasses, brown sugar, whole eggs, yolk, zest, and stout until combined. Reduce speed to low. Gradually add flour mixture, beating until just combined.

Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Turn out cupcakes onto wire racks to cool completely. Cupcakes can be stored overnight at room temperature, or frozen up to 2 months, in airtight containers.

Honey-Cinnamon Frosting
2 ½ cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 tablespoons honey
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

With an electric mixer on medium speed, beat all ingredients until smooth. Use immediately, or refrigerate up to 5 days in an airtight container; before using, bring to room temperature and beat until smooth.

Cheddar Corn Chowder

How have I never made this recipe before? This Barefoot Bloggers selection is a classic soup, and with the autumn weather turning cooler lately, it is a perfect meal for the season. Bear in mind that with the olive oil, bacon fat, butter, and half-and-half, this is not a diet-friendly chowder, but it is oh so tasty! I cut the recipe in half, which still yielded a generous amount for the two of us. I was also able to use the fresh onions and potatoes from my CSA bag. Thanks to Jill of My Next Life for choosing this recipe.

Cheddar Corn Chowder, The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook

8 ounces bacon, chopped
¼ cup good olive oil
6 cups chopped yellow onions (4 large onions)
4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter
½ cup flour
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
12 cups chicken stock
6 cups medium-diced white boiling potatoes, unpeeled (2 pounds)
10 cups corn kernels, fresh (10 ears) or frozen (3 pounds)
2 cups half-and-half
8 ounces sharp white cheddar cheese, grated

In a large stockpot over medium-high heat, cook the bacon and olive oil until the bacon is crisp, about 5 minutes. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and reserve. Reduce the heat to medium, add the onions and butter to the fat, and cook for 10 minutes, until the onions are translucent.

Stir in the flour, salt, pepper, and turmeric and cook for 3 minutes. Add the chicken stock and potatoes, bring to a boil, and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes, until the potatoes are tender. If using fresh corn, cut the kernels off the cob and blanch them for 3 minutes in boiling salted water. Drain. (If using frozen corn you can skip this step.) Add the corn to the soup, then add the half-and-half and cheddar. Cook for 5 more minutes, until the cheese is melted. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Serve hot with a garnish of bacon.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Baked Angel Hair with Eggplant

I received a couple of Japanese eggplants in my CSA bag this week and wanted to do something new with them. When I found this recipe, I was intrigued with the use of puff pastry as a shell for baking the pasta mixture. I only had two Japanese eggplants, so I added two sweet red peppers to the mix.

I like to think of this dish as a perfect pasta pie! The use of puff pastry ended up being so creative and delicious. I was worried that it might deflate once I removed the springform pan, but it held. (Now I have another use for my springform pan other than cheesecake!)

Baked Angel Hair with Eggplant, Giada De Laurentiis

⅓ cup plus ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 to 6 Japanese eggplants (about 2 pounds total), cut into 1-inch cubes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 pound mild Italian turkey sausage, casings removed
⅓ cup dry red wine
3 cups marinara sauce
1 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper flakes
8 ounces angel hair pasta
1 pound mozzarella, diced
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1 (17 ¼-ounce) package frozen puff pastry (2 sheets), thawed

Heat ⅓ cup of oil in a large nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat. Add half of the eggplant and toss to coat in the oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sauté the eggplant until it is golden and tender, about 10 minutes. Decrease the heat to medium. Add half of the garlic and sauté until it is tender, about 2 minutes longer. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the eggplant mixture to a large bowl. Repeat with the remaining ¼ cup oil and the remaining eggplant and garlic.

Add the sausage and wine to the same frying pan. Cook over medium-high heat until the wine evaporates and the sausage is brown, breaking the sausage into pieces with the back of a spoon, about 8 minutes. Add the sausage, marinara sauce, and crushed red pepper to the eggplant mixture, and toss to combine.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the angel hair and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly, until pasta is still slightly crunchy and undercooked. Drain. Toss the angel hair with the eggplant mixture. Cool completely. Add the mozzarella and Parmesan and toss to combine.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Roll out 1 pastry sheet on a floured surface to a 13 ½-inch square. Transfer to a 9-inch springform pan, allowing the excess pastry to hang over the rim. Spoon the pasta mixture into the pan. Place the second pastry sheet atop the pasta filling. Pinch the edges of the pastry sheets together to seal. Trim the overhanging pastry edges to about 1-inch. Fold the pastry edges in to form a decorative border. Cut a slit in the center of the top pastry to allow the steam to escape.

Bake until the pastry is brown and puffed on top, about 1 hour and 30 minutes. Let stand for 20 minutes. Remove the pan sides and serve.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Swiss Chard Risotto

Risotto is one of my all-time favorite comfort foods. After getting a beautiful bunch of Swiss red chard in my latest CSA bag, I thought this would be such a tasty dish to take for lunch at work. The main thing to remember when making any risotto is to stir frequently to ensure a creamy texture. I added a large clove of minced garlic (about 1 teaspoon) for more flavor in this dish, as well as a drizzle of white truffle oil as a bold finishing touch. So yummy!

Adapted from:
Red Chard Risotto, Bon Appétit

5 cups canned low-salt chicken stock
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 ½ cups Arborio rice or medium-grain white rice
4 cups (packed) coarsely chopped red Swiss chard leaves (about 1 bunch)
½ cup dry white wine
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Additional grated Parmesan cheese
White truffle oil, for drizzling

Bring stock to simmer in medium saucepan. Cover and keep warm.

Heat oil in heavy large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add rice, Swiss chard, and garlic; stir until chard begins to wilt, about 3 minutes. Add wine and simmer until absorbed, stirring occasionally, about 2 minutes. Add 2 ladlefuls of hot stock. Simmer until rice is just tender and risotto is creamy, stirring frequently. Continue adding remaining stock, 1 to 2 ladlefuls at a time while stirring, until stock is absorbed, about 20 minutes. Mix in ½ cup Parmesan cheese; season to taste with salt and pepper.

Transfer risotto to medium bowl. Serve with a drizzle of white truffle oil and an additional sprinkle of Parmesan.