Monday, November 25, 2013

Creamy Cauliflower, Fennel and Rosemary Puree

I've always been more than a little suspicious of the "Low-Carb" recipes that imitate mashed potatoes. Mostly, I've found them lacking in flavor and mouthfeel, watery and just not good. Lets face it, mashed potatoes are good. So, I say - go for the mashers when you are serving your turkey and dressing.

Or not! Once you've tried this recipe, full of flavor and with a substantial texture from the fennel, you may reconsider. Or, add it to the table. Sous Chef Lea and I created this recipe on the fly - wanting to make a side dish that packed lots of flavor, more fiber and fewer calories.

See if you don't agree that this Golden Fennel Puree is Turkey worthy, too!

Golden Fennel Puree with Rosemary

3 Large Fennel Bulbs, cut into ½” pieces
1 Large Yellow Onion, chopped
2 TB Olive Oil
1 Tsp Sea Salt
½ Tsp Freshly Cracked Black Pepper

1 LB Parsnips, Peeled in 1” Chunks
1 Large Head Cauliflower (or 3 bags Florets)
1 Large Clove Garlic, peeled
2 TB Unsalted Butter
¼ Cup Skim Milk
1 TB Freshly Chopped Rosemary
Salt and Pepper to Taste

Step One
Preheat the oven to 400F

Step Two
On a half sheet pan lined with aluminum foil or parchment and sprayed with nonstick spray, toss the Fennel, Onion and Salt and Pepper with the 2 TB Olive Oil. Roast for 45 – 60 minutes or until the fennel and onions are tender.

Step Two
While the fennel is roasting, cook the parsnips, cauliflower florets and garlic in boiling salted water until tender – about 20 minutes. Using the immersion blender, puree. Then add the fennel mixture and puree again

Step Three

Melt the butter with the skim milk and rosemary over medium low heat. Add to the fennel mixture and stir. Taste for salt and pepper.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Creamy Shallot and Manchego Soufflés

Soufflés Out of the Oven and Ready to Serve!
Let's just admit it. We all like to have our own teeny tiny personal servings of food. I'm not sure where this comes from - whether its that we don't like to share:) OR we like to play with our food. What ever the reason, when I start serving my guests in individual ramekins or pots, the oohs and ahhs are especially lasting and loud. And what's not to like about getting your own hot, cheesy and light, full of flavor soufflé? Nada.

You may have heard that soufflés are hard to make. That they are fussy and French and not worth the effort. Au contraire, mon ami! Some may be difficult, but not this recipe. You can watch them puffing up in the oven in just a bit - and even when they deflate as they cool - they are STILL just as yummy, light and savory. What's more, they are layered, so after you slide your spoon into the cheesy warm crust, you'll discover another layer of flavor - packed with the aroma and flavor gorgeous green basil and parsley. If you look closely at the tray coming out of the oven above, you can spy just a hint of color under a couple of the small dishes.

Most of the folks that I know serve a special appetizer or soup before the big Turkey Day dinner. Shake it up this year and WOW them all with these delicious little pots of goodness!

Creamy Shallot and Manchego Souffle

3 Large Shallots, Chopped
1 TB Olive Oil
Sea Salt and Freshly Cracked Black Pepper to taste
1 ½ Cups Basil Leaves, Packed
½ Cup Parsley Leaves
¼ Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
½ Tsp Salt
¼ Tsp Cayenne Pepper
1 Garlic Clove
2 Cups Light Ricotta Cheese, Room Temperature
4 (8 Oz) Pkg Light Cream Cheese, Room Temperature
1 Cup Grated Manchego
3 TB Cornstarch
5 Large Eggs

Step One
Sauté the shallots until wilted.

Step Two
In a food processor, puree the basil, parsley, oil, salt, pepper and garlic until smooth.

Step Three
In a mixer, beat the ricotta, cream cheese, Manchego and cornstarch until smooth and light - about 5 minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl and fold in eggs, one at a time, until well incorporated. Remove one third of the cheese mixture to a bowl.

Step Four
With a spatula, fold the basil mixture from the food processor and the sautéed  shallots into the two-thirds cheese mixture until well blended.

Step Five

Pour the basil cheese filling into the bottom of each ramekin, and spread an even layer of the plain cheese mixture on top. Set the ramekins on a baking sheet and bake for about 30 minutes. Serve warm or room temperature.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Sweet Potatoes with North African Spices

Who doesn't have fond memories of the Thanksgiving table, laden with goodies including the ubiquitous sweet potato casserole. A home run with the kiddos, sometimes most of their plate is taken up with the creamy, sticky, way-way-way too sweet side dish.

Chefs have been trying to reinvent the marshmallow topped accompaniment for years. I've done everything from making my own marshmallows to dousing my potatoes with bourbon. (Not a good ideas for the younger crowd!)

This year, I'm shaking it up. Our holiday favorite will be served toasty warm and sprinkled with Dukkah, a West African spice mix that is easy to make, versatile, and incredibly good. We'll peel and chop the sweet potatoes, toss them in a little salt, pepper and olive oil and place them on a sheet tray. Pop them in at 425F until they are golden around the edges, remove them from the oven and sprinkle them liberally with the savory seasoning. We'll enjoy the sweet taste of the potatoes, the antioxidants from the spices and won't feel cheated at all since they are SO luscious served  up at our Thanksgiving table like this:

African Spice Dip or Mix
(Dukkah – Egypt or Hausa Spice Mix – West Africa)

1/2 Cup Salted Peanuts

1/4 Tsp Ground Ginger

1/4 Tsp Freshly Ground Nutmeg

1/4 Tsp Ground Cloves

1/4 Tsp Ground Cinnamon

1 Tsp Chili Powder

Additional Sea Salt to taste, if necessary

Grind the peanuts to a coarse powder in a mortar, blender or food processor, then add the ground mixed spices, chili powder and a little salt if desired

Serve with Goat Cheese topped Apple Slices. Use for a rub on Chicken or Pork, or top a winter greens fruit salad with it, Use as a dip for fresh fruit like Apples or Pears, or serve it with Crusty Bread and Olive Oil. Or Use it to with roasted sweet potatoes or butternut squash like we have here.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Fall and Mushrooms - Wild Mushroom Pate

I’m in a mushroom "kinda" mood this week. The weather is turning to the best of fall…warm days with lots and lots of bright sunlight glittering off the brightly colored leaves. I’m craving the kind of comfort food that is warm and creamy – but not heavy. This mushroom pate is super as a take-along for a evening with friends, and I always make just a little more for leftovers the next day. If my husband doesn’t get to the fridge first, I love, love, love it for lunch.

Wild Mushroom Paté

2 Unsalted Butter, divided
3 TB Extra Virgin Olive Oil, divided
1 Shallot, minced
½ Tsp Fresh Thyme
16 OZ Combination of Wild Mushrooms
½ Cup Chopped Toasted Walnuts, plus more for garnish
1 TB Sherry Vinegar
4 Oz Goat Cheese
Sea Salt and Freshly Cracked Black pepper
Chopped Parsley

Step One
Heat 1 TB of the butter and 1 TB of the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Sauté the onion with the thyme and season with salt and pepper until it is soft. Remove the onion from the pan and place it in the bowl of a food processor.

Step Two
In the same pan, melt the rest of the butter and oil together and sauté the mushrooms with salt and pepper until they give up all their juice. Add in the sherry vinegar and then add to the food processor.

Step Three
Add the walnuts and cheese to the food processor and puree until nearly smooth, stopping to scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Taste the mixture for salt and pepper and garnish with walnuts and parsley. Serve with whole wheat toasts.