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.