Roast Turkey & Giblet Gravy

My favorite way to prepare a turkey for Thanksgiving is to brine it. Wether you use a free range, heritage, or standard bird, brining imparts yummy flavor and adds moisture. It also pulls out the sweetness without masking the natural turkey flavor. You can be creative with the brine flavorings by adding rosemary, cinnamon stick, bay, oranges or other flavors that you love.                    Photo: Lora Mae Photography

My favorite way to prepare a turkey for Thanksgiving is to brine it. Wether you use a free range, heritage, or standard bird, brining imparts yummy flavor and adds moisture. It also pulls out the sweetness without masking the natural turkey flavor. You can be creative with the brine flavorings by adding rosemary, cinnamon stick, bay, oranges or other flavors that you love.                    Photo: Lora Mae Photography

Ingredients:

  • One turkey, 10 to 13 pounds, *thawed. For a 14 to 15 pound bird, double the brine
  • 3 quarts (12 cups) water
  • 1 1/4 cup kosher salt or sea salt
  • 2 1/4 cups honey or 1 cup honey and 1 1/4 cup organic sugar
  • 4 to 6 lemons
  • 30 garlic cloves, smashed slightly with the side of a knife
  • 30 allspice
  • 30 black peppercorns
  • 2 bunches sage, optional
  • 1 large onion, peeled and halved
  • 1 (7-lb) bag of ice, optional, see below
  • Olive oil for rubbing the bird

To thaw the turkey:

  • Place the turkey in a large pan or bowl to catch the drips and thaw it in the refrigerator allowing 24 hours for every 5 pounds.
  • To thaw quickly, place unopened turkey, breast down, in a clean sink or very large container filled with cold tap water. Allow 30 minutes per pound to thaw. Change the water every 30 minutes to keep surface of turkey cold.
  • When thawed, keep in refrigerator for up to 4 days until ready to cook.

To Brine the Turkey:

  • Brine the bird for 60 minutes per pound, about 12 hours, turning once to make sure you’ve brined both sides of the turkey.
  1. Combine six cups of the water, 1 bunch of sage, and the remaining brine ingredients in a deep sauce pan and bring to a simmer, stirring until the salt and sugar are dissolved and gently for 10 minutes.
  2. Remove from the heat and add the remaining (cold) water. Stir and cool completely.
  3. Remove the giblets and neck and reserve for gravy or another use and rinse the turkey. Pat dry with paper towel.

          Two choices for brining the bird:

  1. Pour the brine into a nonreactive container just large enough to hold the bird and the liquid Making sure it fits in the fridge. The bird should be submerged as much as possible. You can also turn it half way through the brining process.

  2. Use a medium plastic picnic cooler that just fits the turkey. Place the turkey into a good quality plastic garbage bag and then place the bag into a second plastic bag for double protection. Place the bird into the cooler and slowly pour the cold brine into the interior bag. Gather the bags tightly around the bird. Seal the first and then the second bag by tying it into a tight knot. Cover the bag with ice. Check often to make sure the turkey is cold and surrounded with ice. Refresh ice when needed. Turn the bird once throughout the process to brine evenly.

Preparing to Roast the Turkey:

  1. Plan on 10 to 15 minutes per pound roasting time. Calculate using both 10 and 15 minutes multiplied by the weight of your turkey to gage timing and start to check the bird for doneness at the earlier time.
  2. One hour before roasting, remove the turkey from the brine. Rinse, discarding the brine and dry thoroughly with paper towel.
  3. Turn the wing tips back to hold the neck in place, tucking them under the back.
  4. Place the turkey, breast side up, on a rack in a large shallow roasting pan and cover loosely with a paper towel. Set aside to bring to room temperature.
  5. Preheat oven to 350°F
  6. Stuff the cavity with the second bunch of sage, halved lemons and the onion.
  7. Pat the bird to dry completely and massage the bird thoroughly with the olive oil. Do not sprinkle with salt or pepper. The bird has been flavored with the brine and the salt and pepper will blemish the skin.    
  8. Insert an oven safe meat thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh, being sure that the pointed end of the thermometer does not touch the bone.
  9. Add the turkey neck and chicken feet (see turkey stock below) to the pan to brown for the stock.
  10. Put the turkey in the oven and reduce temperature to 325˚F
  11. Roast turkey, basting with the stock every half hour or so. While basting, check the neck and feet. Once golden brown remove them and make the stock below.
  12. Once the breast is browned to your liking, cover loosely with foil to prevent over browning.
  13. Continue to roast until the thermometer registers 175°F in the thigh, or 160°F in the breast.
  14. Remove the turkey to a platter and tent with foil to rest for 20 to 30 minutes. This will help the juices absorb back into the turkey and keep it moist.

To make the turkey stock; this can be done 2 days ahead:

  • 1 turkey neck
  • Giblets, soak the liver in milk while preparing turkey. Rinse and add to stock.
  • 6 chicken feet if you have them
  • 1 onion, chopped coarsely
  • 2 each carrots and celery, chopped coarsely
  • 2 Tbls. olive oil or melted butter
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp. whole peppercorns
  • 6 cups water
  1. In a pot large enough to hold the stock ingredients, melt the butter or oil over medium heat.
  2. Add the vegetables and cook, stirring often until golden brown.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer on low for 15 minutes.
  4. Remove the liver and set aside.
  5. Continue to simmer for a total of one hour. Skim the scum that rises to the surface.
  6. Remove the remaining giblets and set aside.
  7. Strain the stock, pressing the vegetables to extract the juices and toss the vegetables. Measure the stock; you should have four cups of stock. If you have more, simmer to reduce to four cups. Set aside until turkey is done.

To Finish the Turkey and Make the Gravy:

  • Cooked giblets, cleaned of veins, muscle, etc. and minced
  • 4 Tbls. turkey drippings
  • ¼ cup all-purpose or gluten free white flour
  • 4 cups stock
  • 1 Tbls. dried porcini mushroom powder (optional)
  • 1 Tbls. Madeira or dry sherry (optional)
  • Salt & white or black pepper
  1. In the roasting pan, remove all but about four tablespoons of fat and place the roasting pan on the stove over medium heat.
  2. When the drippings are sizzling, add the flour and stir until it is a golden brown.
  3. Add the stock in a steady stream, whisking. Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer.
  4. Scrape up all of the roasting bits that are stuck to the roasting pan.
  5. Add the mushroom powder and Madeira or sherry if using.
  6. Simmer for 5 to 10 minutes, whisking occasionally.
  7. Season with salt and freshly cracked black pepper.

Enjoy the fruits of your labor!

Japanese Inspired Pork Ribs, Fermented Jicama Salad & Miso Corn

This recipe features two of my favorite ingredients, the first, heritage pork from Rockside Ranch that graze pastures and woodlands and are fed an organic and soy-free diet. The second, fermented foods. Here, the menu is Japanese inspired using a simple marinade of Shio Koji, an age-old Japanese fermented mixture of malted rice, salt and water mixed with the culture  Asperiguillus Oryzae. The enzymes in the shio koji break down proteins and pull out the umami flavor as well as tenderize the meat. Shio koji is both salty and sweet. It’s wonderful on meat and with vegetables, so I use it in both places. The depth of flavor in free range pork combined with the umami of fermented shio koji gives an absolutely delicious end result.

The meat is naturally rich. Accompanied with lots of veggies, I would say 3 pounds of meat easily serves 4 to 6.

Notes:

  • Shio Koji is available on Amazon, in Japanese grocery stores or, you can make your own. CultureforHealth.com for example, shows you how.
  • Read through the recipe before you start. The best way to do ribs is to plan ahead. Marinate for 18 to 24 hours. Oven roast for 3 hours. Chill overnight or for several hours. Finish on the grill or under the broiler. The hands-on time is very minimal making your last minute grill time quick.

Japanese Inspired Baby Back Ribs

  • 1 rack pork spare ribs or baby back ribs, about 2.5 to 3.5 pounds
  • 1/3 cup shio koji
  • apple juice or water
  • 2 onions, each peeled and cut into four wedges

To prepare the ribs:

  1. With ribs, it's best to remove the silver skin, a thin layer of connective tissue that is very tough. On the back side of the ribs (the side without the meat) you will see and opaque paper-thin tissue. At the top, corner edge of the bones, use a sharp knife to release a small piece of the silver skin. Using paper towel to help you grip the silver skin, pull/peel it off the bone. (It will be similar to pulling masking tape off a box). Repeat until you’ve gotten all or most of it off. A little bit left on the bone is fine.

  2. In a glass container, massage the ribs with the shio koji. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate, chilled, for 18 to 24 hours.

  3. When ready to bake, wipe the ribs with paper towel to remove as much of the marinade as possible.

  4. In a baking dish large enough for the ribs to lie flat, scatter the onions to act as a rack for the ribs. Place the ribs on the onions and add enough apple juice or water to create a 1/4-inch pool.

  5. Cover and seal edges with foil and bake for about 2 1/2 hours.

  6. Check the ribs. They should be tender when pierced with a fork but not falling off the bone. They may need another 30 minutes for a total of 3 hours.

  7. I like to bake my ribs a day ahead and chill them. This makes it easy to throw them on the grill for a last minute sear and glaze with the BBQ sauce.  

  8. Remove the ribs from the fridge 20 to 30 minutes before cooking.

  9. Wrap the ends of the exposed bones with foil to keep them from burning.

  10. To grill: follow your grill instructions.

  11. To bake: Preheat oven to 350˚F. Brush both sides of the ribs with BBQ sauce. Place ribs meat side down on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake ribs for 15 to 20 minutes or just until the ribs are hot. Turn on your broiler and move the ribs to the top third of the oven but not at the very top. Broil just until the sauce is bubbling and has colored slightly. Flip the ribs and finish the second side.

  12. Serve extra, warmed sauce on the side.

Japanese BBQ Sauce ~ makes about 1 pint

  • 2 Tbls. sesame oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup mirin, sherry or apple juice
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 2 Tbls. miso paste, any flavor will do
  • 2 Tbls. Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp. dry mustard powder
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 Tbls. grated fresh ginger
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

To make the sauce:

  1. Heat the sesame oil in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring garlic in hot oil until fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes.

  2. Stir in all of the remaining ingredients except the lemon juice.

  3. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 20 to 30 minutes or until a thick sauce has formed. Be careful not to burn the bottom.

  4. Add the lemon juice to taste.

  5. Use immediately or store in the fridge until needed.

Jicama Cucumber Slaw with Shiso Leaves

This slaw uses the shio koji used on our ribs to marinade the vegetables creating a wonderful texture and flavor. Shiso leaves add a bright, fragrant touch. Shiso leaves can be found in Japanese grocery stores. Substitute with fresh Thai basil, basil, or cilantro.

  • 1 medium jicama, peeled and cut into thin matchsticks
  • 1 english cucumber or two Persian cucumbers, sliced into thin rounds
  • 2 Tbls. shio koji
  • 1 Tbs. rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp. sesame oil
  • 1 red or jalapeño pepper, seeds removed, sliced thin, to taste (optional)
  • 4 shiso leaves
  1. Place everything but the shiso leaves in a gallon plastic bag. Remove air, seal, and massage gently to cover all of the vegetables with the liquid. Refrigerate for 20 to 40 minutes.
  2. Drain the liquid. Slice the shiso leaves (or herbs) into thin ribbons and toss with the vegetables. Serve immediately or chill until ready to serve.

Miso Corn

Miso butter can be served room temperature or chilled. It can also be rolled into a log in between plastic wrap and chilled or frozen. Thaw and slice into 1/4-inch “coins” to top grilled chicken, fish, and vegetables.

  • 1/2 cup good quality unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup white miso (any miso will do but I like mild white with corn)
  • corn on the cob
  1. In a small bowl, mash the miso and butter with a fork until blended.
  2. Boil or BBQ the corn and serve the miso butter on the side.

Cured Pork Chops with Vanilla & Stone Fruit

Traditional brines are heavy on the salt and used to preserve meat but we are just looking for flavor and texture in this recipe. This brine, delicately sweet and infused with vanilla, is perfect with pork and summer stone fruits. Plan for about four hours brining time. Serves 4 to 8

  • 2 lbs. boneless or bone-in pork chops (I use Rockside Ranch pork chops)

Brine:

  • 1 ½ cups boiling water
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla
  • ¼ cup honey
  • ¼ cup kosher or sea salt (not fine table salt)
  • 2 Tbls. cracked black pepper
  • 2-inch piece of vanilla bean, split down the center (optional but adds flavor)

Honey Vanilla Sauce (optional)

  • 4 peaches or equivalent amount of apricots or cherries
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • ½ cup white wine or stock
  • 1 cup pork or chicken stock
  • 1 Tbls. honey
  • 1 Tbls. peach, apricot, or cherry jam to match your fruit
  • Sea salt and freshly cracked blacked pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. cold unsalted butter (optional)

To make the brine, stir the brine ingredients together until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Add 1 ½ cups cold water and stir. Cool completely.

Trim excess fat from the chops and reserve. Immerse the pork chops in the brine making sure the meat is submerged and chill for four to six hours.

Remove the chops from the fridge about 30 minutes before cooking to bring to room temperature. Heat a cast iron or non-stick skillet to medium high. Melt the reserved pork fat in the pan. Pat the chops dry with a paper towel and place them into the pan. Save the vanilla bean for your sauce and discard the brine.

Tip: to sear any meat, once you’ve placed it in the pan, don’t be tempted to move it. The meat will stick but as the natural sugar in the meat begins to caramelize, it will form a crust. Once a rich brown crust has formed, flip the meat and finish cooking just until 160˚ for medium. Remove, place on plate and tent with foil to rest for ten minutes.

While the meat is cooking, bring a small pot of water to boil and prepare a bowl with ice water. Peel the peaches by carving an X just through the skin. Drop them in the boiling water just until the X starts to curl, about 30 seconds. Drop the peaches in the ice water to stop the cooking. Peal and cut into thick slices and set aside.

Make the sauce: Pour off most of the fat leaving a tablespoon or so. On low heat, sauté the garlic just until tender. Add the wine and reserved vanilla bean and simmer to reduce by half scraping up the bits of meat stuck to the pan. Add the stock, honey, and jam and simmer until the sauce is a syrupy glaze. Add the peaches and cook just until the peaches are warmed through. Turn off the heat and swirl in the cold butter. Season to taste. Serve the sauce over the Pork chops.           

  • If you’ve got leftovers, slice the pork and warm it with the peaches and some BBQ sauce for a great sandwich!

*Recipe adapted from Nancy Oaks

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eggs Benedict Salad with Cottage Bacon, Spring Vegetables & Lemon

Cottage bacon is sweet, full of flavor, and has just enough fat. If you google it or Canadian bacon, the options are always the same, pizza and Eggs Benedict. It can be used in place of bacon in just about any application but it’s so delicious, I prefer to let it stand on it’s own. Here I’ve made a summer “Eggs Benedict Salad” with Spring vegetables, lemon, and croutons.

Serves 4

  • 1 pound Cottage Bacon, I use Rockside Ranch
  • 4 to 8 eggs, boiled for 7 to 8 minutes, drop in ice water to cool then peel and quarter
  • 1 bunch asparagus (or one handful of green beans per person) cut on the diagonal
  • ¾ lbs. baby new potatoes or larger potatoes quartered and dropped in cold water
  • 1 large handful washed and dried lettuce of your choice per person
  • 1 -2 tomatoes, quartered
  • Your favorite olives to garnish
  • Croutons of your choice
  • ½ Tbls. Dijon style mustard
  • 2 shallots, minced (optional)
  • Juice of one lemon, about 4 Tbls.
  • ½ cup good quality olive oil or too taste
  • Fresh cracked pepper, I love pink peppercorns here
  • Pinch sea salt

Bring a medium pot of water to boil. Prepare a large bowl with ice and water. Drop the asparagus, green beans, or both into the boiling water and stir. Cook just until crisp tender, about two minutes. Test one and when cooked to your liking, scoop the vegetables out and drop them into the ice water to cool. Drain as soon as they are cold. Place them back in the bowl.

Salt the boiling water and add the drained potatoes. Cook until the can be pierced with a knife with resistance. They will still cook as they cool.

Make the dressing: Whisk the mustard and shallots together in a small bowl. Whisk in the lemon juice and then the olive oil. Season to taste and adjust lemon or olive oil to your liking. When to potatoes are done, drain and place in a bowl and toss with several tablespoons of the dressing. Set aside.

Now for the bacon: Heat a medium heavy bottomed skillet of any kind. Once the skillet is hot (wave your hand over the surface) add the bacon in a single layer and don’t move it. The bacon will stick until the fat melts and the protein turns to sugar and caramelizes the meat. By being patient, you’ll have a crispy sweet piece of bacon. Once one side is caramelized, turn the pieces over to warm the second side. The longer it cooks, the crispier it gets. That choice is yours. Stack the cooked bacon on a small plate and cook the remaining pieces.

Putting it all together: Add the lettuce to the vegetables and toss with just enough dressing to coat. Pile on a large platter and garnish with the bacon, quartered eggs, tomatoes, olives, and croutons. Drizzle the remaining dressing over the salad or serve on the side.

Blanching tips:

  • Don’t blanch vegetables that are primarily water such as summer squash or eggplant.
  • Mix vegetables that are grown in the same season.
  • Blanch several vegetables at once. You can store them in the fridge and pull them out to toss with salads, pasta , or sauté in fat.

 

 

Keep it Bright: Blanching Vegetables

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The weather's gorgeous and no one wants to be indoors cooking for hours. Hence, blanching is the perfect vegetable technique for Spring. Many vegetables can be blanched in a pot full of boiling water until crisp and slightly under-done. Drain the vegetables and immediately plunge into a bath of ice water to stop the cooking and retain the bright color. You can cook several night’s worth of vegetables this way and store them in the fridge in containers lined with paper towel to capture the moisture. 

To use, sauté vegetables in good oil or butter just until warmed through or toss them into a salad. Mix vegetables that are grown in the same season; they naturally taste delicious together. 

Here’s a list of vegetables to use for blanching and fun combinations for sautéing. The italicised vegetables should not be blanched.

Asparagus, snow peas or sugar snap peas with:

  • Green onion, shaved fennel and slivered ham or prosciutto
  • Salted cashews
  • Sugar snap peas and frozen petite peas, lemon zest
  • Sesame seeds sautéd in sesame oil

Carrots with:

  • Green onion, lime juice, and chopped cashews
  • Ghee or coconut oil with cardamom, cinnamon, black pepper
  • Cauliflower, mint & preserved lemon

Broccolini with:

  • Garlic, olive oil and chili flakes
  • Capers, toasted hazelnuts or pine nuts 

Green beans with:

  • Bacon and toasted walnuts or pecans
  • Diced tomatoes, garlic and nicoise or black olives

Carrots with:

  • Caraway seeds
  • Chick peas, Moroccan spices

Broccoli, cauliflower with:

  • Garlic, crumbled (leftover) Italian sausage
  • Raisins soaked in hot water then sautéed, blue cheese crumbles, pine-nuts
  • Cauliflower with curry and raisins
  • Sautéd mushrooms, shallots, basil, Pecorino 
  • Brown butter, pumpkin seeds, cumin

Blanched Spring Vegetables with Arugula, Olive Oil, Lemon & Cheese

Here's a quick, delicious, and very detoxifying salad that I love to make-

In a bowl, add a large handful of arugula per person along with a handful of blanched vegetables per person.  Note that in the photo, I've used asparagus, snap peas and fava beans. Toss with just enough good quality olive oil to coat the leaves with no oil puddling at the bottom of the bowl. Squeeze fresh lemon juice to taste and toss with a spoonful of capers. Cover with a blanket of freshly grated Parmesan. Enjoy!

 

Perfect Roast Chicken with Salsa Verde

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A perfectly roasted chicken makes a delicious meal and if you're lucky, leftovers plus bones for broth. There's no reason we home cooks shouldn't achieve perfection which is why I've adapted my roasted chicken from one of the best restaurants in America, Thomas Keller's ad hoc.

The chicken

  • One 4- to 4 1/2- pound chicken, more or less (Serves 4-6)
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Fresh thyme or rosemary sprigs, lemon or orange halves, garlic cloves, etc.
  • 4 large carrots, left whole
  • 4 celery stalks, left whole
  • 1 small yellow onion, trimmed, leaving root end intact, and cut into quarters
  • Kitchen twine
  • 1 Tbls. olive oil
  • 1 to 2 cups white wine, chicken or vegetable broth or water

Salsa Verde (below and optional)

Remove the chicken from the refrigerator and let it stand at room temperature for 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until it comes to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 475° F. 

Using a paring knife, cut out the wishbone from the chicken. This can be found by running your finger along the neck cavity. This step is not necessary but will make it easier to carve the chicken. Generously season the cavity of the chicken with salt and pepper. Fill the cavity with the herbs, citrus halves, garlic cloves, etc., and massage the inside of the bird to infuse it with the flavors and plump the bird. Tie the legs together at the ankles with the twine.

Place the whole vegetables in the center of a roasting pan to act as a shelf that will lift the chicken up off the pan. This will help it to evenly brown and crisp. Place the chicken on the “vegetable shelf” and rub the skin with the olive oil. Season it generously with salt. Add 1 cup of water, wine or broth to the roasting pan. Put the chicken in the oven and roast for 25 minutes or until the skin is beautifully browned.

Reduce the heat to 450°F and roast until done.

Chicken is done at 165˚ - 170˚ Roast the chicken for a total of 45 minutes plus 7 minutes per pound [e.g. a 4-pound chicken = 45 + 7 minutes X 4 lbs. = 73 minutes]

The temperature should register 165°F in the meatiest portions of the bird which are the thighs and under the breast where the thighs and breast meet. Check to make sure the juices run clear and are not pink. If necessary, return the bird to the oven and check every 5 minutes or so. Remove the chicken onto a platter or cutting board and tent loosely with foil. Let the chicken rest for 15 to 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, squeeze the vegetables in the pan to remove the juices, then toss. Warm the remaining juices over medium heat. Add the second cup of white wine, chicken or vegetable broth. Bring the mixture to a simmer and scrape all the bits from the pan. Serve with the chicken alone with the juices and lemon wedges or try the salsa verde below.

Adapted from ad hoc at home, Thomas Keller

Salsa Verde The herbs in this sauce add a lovely fresh taste to the bird along with umami from the anchovies.

  • 1/4 cup capers, rinsed
  • 4 anchovy fillets in oil, drained (optional)
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped arugula
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped parsley
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped basil
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped cilantro
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped tarragon
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped chives
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped sage

Note: use the herbs you have and leave out what you don’t. 

Using a mortar and pestle or food processor, blend or mash the capers with the anchovies and garlic until a paste forms. Transfer to a bowl and whisk in the remaining 1 cup of olive oil. Stir in the herbs and season with salt to taste. The salsa verde can be refrigerated overnight and is best served at room temperature.

Aroma Therapy, Coaxing the love out of vegetables & Minestrone

   

 

 

Aroma Therapy

You know that feeling when something in the kitchen smells so good and you just breath it in and you begin to drool? That’s what I call aroma therapy! 

Pulling the natural aroma and flavor out of vegetables takes a bit of coaxing and love. You want to create depth by layering flavors. And as usual, nature tells us how to do it. Have a look at my “vegetable tree”. Seeing vegetables in this way gives a visual of what order vegetables prefer to be added to a dish to bring out their best. 

At the base of the tree are “root vegetables” or vegetables that grow underground and include carrots, onions, parsley, leeks, garlic, celery root (celeriac) and more. They are sweet in nature, caramelize well and are known as “aromatic vegetables” or “aromatics”. Most, if not all, traditional cuisines have a combination of aromatic vegetables that begin every soup, stew or sauce. The French use a “mirepoix”, a mixture of onion, carrot and celery. In Germany a “suppengrün” of celeriac, carrot and leek is used.   Cajun cuisine has the “Holy Trinity” a mixture of onion, celery and green bell pepper. Asian cuisines add turmeric root, ginger and lemongrass. Italian soffritto is often made with bits of leftover prosciutto or pancetta.

Here’s how I do the coaxing~

Following your recipe, start with the aromatics and sauté them gently to allow moisture to evaporate and condense the flavor. Add bay leaves, *hearty herbs and peppercorns here. You can put a lid on the pan for the first 4 or 5 minutes to sweat the vegetables. Remove the lid and continue to cook, stirring until the vegetables are tender.

Next add low-to-the-ground vegetables like celery, hearty cabbage, cauliflower and so on. At this point, I don’t add a lid as it can discolor some vegetables. Cook until the color is vibrant but the vegetables are still crisp tender. Season as you go to layer and bring out flavors using salt and spices. Add broth, sauces, or splash of white wine.

Now, add leafy vegetables: kale, chard, Napa cabbage and bitter greens like radicchio. Once the vegetables are cooked perfectly and the flavoring is perfect too, turn off the heat and add minced *tender herbs for a splash of brightness in the dish.

Voila, you’ve got a lovely meal that is full of depth, flavor and color. Bon Appétit!

  • *Hearty herbs are herbs that need to be cooked: sage, thyme, marjoram, oregano
  • *Tender herbs are herbs that are tasty raw: cilantro, parsley, dill, mint, chives

Minestrone Soup

Using the methods above, apply the techniques to Italian Minestrone, a simple a soup with equal proportions of vegetables and broth. In Italy, Minestrone changes from region to region and season to season. This recipe is a guide. Use what you have and what you like.

Spring & Summer:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 oz. pancetta scraps, minced
  • 4 to 8 cloves garlic, peeled and lightly crushed or chopped
  • 3 medium leeks (white and light green part), sliced thinly
  • 4 large carrots, peeled and sliced or diced
  • 1 cup celery root or celery, diced or sliced
  • 4 medium new potatoes, large dice
  • 1/2 pound green beans in 1-inch pieces
  • 1 piece of parmesan cheese rind
  • 1 - 15 oz. can Italian plum tomatoes and juice, crushed by hand
  • Chicken broth or water
  • 3 cups savoy cabbage or swiss chard, chiffonade (cut like thin ribbons) 
  • 2 small zucchini, large dice
  • 2 cups pre-cooked white beans
  • 1/2 cup dry pasta (use odds and ends of pasta from your pantry)
  • Good olive oil
  • Minced parsley
  • Crostini & grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Heat olive oil in a large heavy-bottomed stock pot or dutch oven over medium heat. Sauté pancetta and garlic until fragrant. Stir in the carrots and celery root and sauté for 5 minutes. Add the leeks and sweat the aromatic vegetables with the lid on until they are translucent. Season lightly.   

Add potatoes, green beans, parmesan rind and tomatoes with their juice. Add chicken stock or water just to cover the vegetables. Simmer 30 minutes or until veggies are tender. Skim any impurities that rise to the surface.

Add the cabbage, zucchini, beans and pasta if using. Simmer for 15 minutes or to taste. Turn off the heat and let rest for 5 minutes. Ladle into bowls and drizzle with olive oil. Top with bread, cheese and minced parsley.

In Winter replace summer vegetables with:

  • 1 lb. winter squash like butternut
  • 2-3 parsnips
  • Use kale instead of swiss chard or cabbage

For a thicker soup, remove two cups of soup with veggies and purée in a blender. Add the mixture back into soup.

Bon Appétit!

Rosemary & Walnut Biscotti

These biscotti are delicious on their own or as an appetizer or dessert served with creamy blue cheese and honey. Makes 24 or more cookies.

  • 1 1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
  • 3 cups white whole wheat flour or all-purpose flour (or a blend of both) plus more for    
  •    rolling
  • 10 Tbls. Butter
  • 1 cup sugar, organic preferred
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder 
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. minced fresh rosemary
  • To serve:
  • 6 ounces good quality creamy blue cheese or gorgonzola
  • 1/4 cup honey 

Preheat a conventional oven to 325˚F

Place the walnuts on a cookie sheet in a single layer. Bake for 4 to 5 minutes or until the nuts are very lightly toasted. Remove from the oven and cool.

Add half of the nuts(3/4 cup) into a food processor and pulse to break them up. Add one cup of the flour to the processor and continue to pulse until a fine dust is formed.  The flour will prevent the nuts from becoming butter-like. It does not need to be “perfectly fine”.

In a mixer with the flat paddle attachment, cream the butter. Add the sugar to the mixer and cream it until slightly fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and beat until incorporated and light, scraping down the bowl as needed. Add the vanilla extract, remaining 3/4 cup of chopped walnuts and the minced rosemary. Stir to blend.
Sift the remaining two cups of flour with the salt and baking powder into a small bowl or onto wax paper. Add the sifted dry ingredients to the butter-sugar mixture one cup at a time mixing just until a ball is formed.

Put the dough on a lightly floured surface and cut in half. Roll each half into a log, each 12-inches long by 1-inch high. Place the logs on a parchment-lined cookie sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes or until the bottoms are lightly brown. Let the logs cool for 5 minutes and then place on a cutting board. Slice each log straight across or on a diagonal into 1/2 to 1-inch thick pieces. Put the cookies back on the cookie sheet, cut side down, and bake 5 minutes. Turn the cookies over and bake the other side for another 5 minutes. Cool completely. Store cookies in an airtight container 

  • To serve with the cheese, spread each cookie with blue cheese and drizzle lightly with honey.
  • Pistachios or slivered almonds can be substituted for walnuts. I like 100% all-purpose white flour with pistachios and almonds but my favorite is the white whole wheat (from King Arthur Flour for example) with the walnuts.

Adapted from a recipe by Monica Pope

 

 

 

 

 

Belgian Endive with Curried Pumpkin Mousse

Walnuts are the perfect garnish but so is roasted delicata squash moons (see Endive with Winter Fruit recipe) or fresh truffles if you have them laying around. Winky face. This "pumpkin mousse" is also delicious served with crackers. Makes about 48

  • ¼ cup minced shallots
  • 2 Tbls. butter
  • 1 Tbls. curry powder
  • 2 cups canned or fresh pumpkin puree
  • 8 oz. cream cheese
  • Sea salt and cayenne to taste
  • 4 to 6 heads Belgian endive, separated into individual leaves
  • ½ cup toasted walnuts

Place several layers of paper towel in a large sieve and add pumpkin to drain for several hours. 

In a small sauté pan, cook the shallots in the butter over medium heat, stirring until soft.  Add the curry powder and cook one minute. Cool. In a food processor, puree the shallots, pumpkin, curry and cream cheese until smooth.  Season to taste with salt and cayenne pepper. Chill. 

Spoon or pipe filling onto endive.  Sprinkle with walnuts.  The endive can be chilled for 2 hours before serving.

  • The filling can be made a day ahead.  It can also be served as a spread for vegetables and crackers (rye crackers are good), or the rye bread sticks from Trader Joes.  

Endive with Winter Fruit, Honeyed Walnuts & Balsamic Glaze

This is a simple but lovely appetizer. The endive can be stuffer ahead and drizzled with the glaze last minute. Fool around with different fruits.

Makes 16

  • 2 to 3 bulbs Belgian endive to make 16 leaves
  • 2 Tbls. honey
  • 3 Tbls. orange juice
  • ¼-cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 ½ oz. (1/3 cup) fresh goat cheese (Chévre)
  • 1/3 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
  • 1 Tbls. minced chives (optional)
  • Fruit, choose one or use a mixture of fruits:
    • Oranges: 16 orange segments, membrane removed (or Mandarin oranges; drain and pat dry) Blood oranges are lovely here.
    • Fuyu Persimmons: halve through core and slice thinly
    • Roasted Grapes: In a 450˚F oven, roast 1 cup grapes on a parchment-lined baking dish just until the pop and release juices, 5-8 minutes. Cool to room temperature.
    • Delicata squash: wash one squash and slice lengthwise. De-seed and slice thinly into half-moons. In a 450˚F oven, toss squash with a teaspoon of olive oil and roast squash on a parchment-lined baking dish just until tender and golden. Cool to room temperature.

Preheat oven to 350F.  Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper.  Toss the nuts and 1 tablespoon honey in a small bowl and spread on the cookie sheet.  Bake 5 to 10 minutes or until golden, stirring once.  Cool.  Combine remaining honey, orange juice, and vinegar in a small saucepan and simmer to reduce to 3 tablespoons watching closely.  Cool.  

Separate and fill each leaf with 1 tsp. of cheese, then the walnuts, and lastly, one piece of fruit. Chill until ready to serve. Drizzle with the glaze using a teaspoon and sprinkle with chives if using.

 

Cranberry Upside Down Cake

This recipe is originally from an ice cream & sandwich shop in Santa Cruz known as The Bank Dick after a 1940’s film starring W.C. Fields. I’ve been making it since I was 15 and I still love it.          

Serves 8-10  

  • 1/2 cup melted butter divided into two 1/4-cup amounts
  • 2 cups fresh cranberries, washed and drained
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans
  • 1/2 cup almond meal/flour, soy flour, corn flour or fine corn meal
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 large or 3 small eggs, room temperature
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • Butter for buttering the pan (optional, read on)

Mix the two flours in a small bowl and set aside. Preheat oven to 350˚F and line the bottom of a 10-inch cake pan or pie dish with parchment paper or, butter the dish well.

In the bowl of a mixer, whip the eggs until frothy. Add the 1 cup of brown sugar slowly and whip until very light and fluffy, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, spread the cranberries and nuts over the parchment-lined pan. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup of the brown sugar. Drizzle 1/4 cup of the butter over the brown sugar and set aside.

Back to the cake: once the eggs are very fluffy and light yellow and using a spatula, gently fold in the flours just until blended. Drizzle in the remaining 1/4 cup of melted butter and fold into the batter, again, just until blended; a few streaks of butter is ok. Pour the batter over the cranberry mixture and spread evenly.                                                                                                             Bake for about 40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. If the cake is browning too much, reduce heat to 325˚F and/or loosely cover with foil.

Once done, remove from the oven and cool for 15 to 20 minutes; it should still be warm. Run a knife around the cake to loosen. Place a plate or serving platter over the cake and flip, holding both plate and cake pan, to un-mold the cake. Gently peel off the parchment paper and replace any cranberries stuck to the paper.

Cool and serve at room temperature with ice cream (salted caramel is delish), crème fraîche, or whipped cream.

P.S. If you're Swedish and have lingonberries, use them instead of or mixed with the cranberries.

Honey Marshmallows

Depending on the honey you use, these marshmallows will have a mild to strong honey flavor which is delicious in a marshmallow. Minced herbs like lemon verbena, nuts, shredded coconut, or cocoa nibs can be beaten in at the end to add a yummy texture and flavor.

  • 2 1/2 Tbls. unflavored gelatin
  • 1 1/2 cup organic cane sugar or regular sugar
  • 1 cup light honey
  • scant 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. neutral oil
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar, more or less
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch, more or less

Lightly coat a rimmed half sheet or jelly-roll pan lightly with oil and set it aside. Measure all of your ingredients.

Pour 1/2 cup cold water in a large metal bowl. It’s best if you use a free-stand mixer. Sprinkle the gelatin over water. Combine granulated sugar, honey, salt, and 1/2 cup water in a small heavy saucepan; place over low heat and stir until sugar has dissolved trying not to splash sugar up the sides of the pan. Wash down the sides of the pan with a clean, wet pastry brush to dissolve sugar crystals.

Clip a candy thermometer onto the pan and raise heat to med-high. Continue to wash the sides of the pan and cook syrup without stirring until it reaches 244˚F (firm-ball stage). 

Immediately remove the pan from heat and with the mixer on low speed, slowly and carefully pour the syrup into the softened gelatin. Increase speed to medium gradually and then to high. Beat until mixture is very thick and white and has almost tripled in volume, about 15 minutes. Slowly add vanilla and almond extract and butter, beat to incorporate.

In a small bowl, mix the the powdered sugar and cornstarch. Lightly oil a sheet pan or 9X13” pan, both bottom and sides. Sprinkle half of the sugar-cornstarch mixture over the pan to completely coat the bottom and sides. 

Pour the marshmallow mixture into the prepared pan and using a lightly oiled spatula, spread it evenly into the pan. Dust the top with the remaining powdered sugar mixture. Allow the marshmallows to sit uncovered for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.

To cut, tap the pan over a cutting board so the powdered sugar mixtures falls onto the cutting board. Spread it onto the board adding more if needed. Turn out the marshmallow, peeling it out of the pan. Cut into squares (large or small) using a pizza wheel very lightly oiled and/or dusted with the powdered sugar mixture. Once cut, toss the marshmallows with the remaining sugar mixture to coat all sides. Store in an airtight container layered with wax paper for up to 3 weeks.

  • Food color (paste is best) can be added in the middle of the beating process once the mixture has cooled down.
  • Try flavorings other than vanilla.
  • Using mixer, stir in fresh herbs, cocoa nibs, shredded coconut, or nuts when the marshmallow is just about done and before putting into the pan to “dry”.

Caramelized Brussels Sprouts, Bacon, Pumpkin Seed Crumble

I love my Brussels sprouts with this crumble. It's a tiny bit sweet and the sugar can be left out if you prefer but I love it with the saltiness of the bacon. - Serves 6

Make the crumble: 

Makes 3/4 cup

  • 6 Tbls. pepitas or squash seeds 
  • 1/4 cup almond flour
  • 2 Tbls. organic brown or coconut sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. grated lemon zest
  • About 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt

Preheat oven to 350˚ Scatter seeds on a dry cookie sheet and bake in the oven for about 8 minutes, or until lightly browned. Keep an eye on them! Set aside. 

Put the almond flour, sugar and lemon zest in a food processor or clean coffee/spice grinder and pulse to combine. Add the seeds and pulse a few times to break them up. With the machine running, slowly pour in enough olive oil so the mixture comes together into a moist crumble. Season to taste with sea salt. 

  • Pepita Crumble is delicious sprinkled over sautéd or roasted vegetables
  • Makes a great coating/breading for chicken or fish
  • Can be made days ahead 

Brussels Sprouts:

  • 1 1/2 pound Brussels sprouts
  • 2 to 3 slices thick cut maplewood bacon cut into 1/4” thick pieces (optional)
  • 2 Tbls. olive oil
  • Pepita (pumpkin seed) Crumble, below
  • salt and pepper to taste

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Clean the sprouts by trimming the bottom and removing any bruised outer leaves. Blanch the sprouts by dropping them into the water until they are crisp-tender and not quite done, 2 to 4 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare an ice bath in a large bowl with cold water and ice cubes. Remove the sprouts from the water with a slotted spoon and drop them into the ice bath to stop the cooking and preserve the color. As soon as they are cool, drain them and dry on paper towel. Halve them lengthwise if they are large or if desired.

  • This can be done one day ahead. Place in a gallon bag or container with paper towel to absorb the moisture. Pat them dry very well.

Before serving, in a large frying pan, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the bacon and render the fat while allowing it to cook through and become crispy, 5 to 10 minutes. Set the bacon aside on paper towel to drain and remove all but 2 tablespoons of the remaining fat in the pan. Heat to medium. (Use olive oil if not using bacon or the bacon fat.)

Add the sprouts to the pan and sauté the sprouts for 5 to 8 minutes or until the brown slightly and become tender. Do not cover with a lid. Check by piercing with a sharp knife. Don’t cook to long, you want to maintain the bright green color.

Add the bacon, toss and season with salt and pepper. Place in a serving dish and top with the crumble.

Ginger, Cardamon & Pear Cake with Roasted Pears & Crème Fraîche

This cake is the perfect Autumn cake. The whole wheat and spices shouldn't be hidden so I skip the overly sugary glaze and leave it as is serving it with lovely roasted pears and Crème Fraîche or whipped cream. A simple slice for breakfast is just fine too. 

  • 1 cup (2 sticks, 8 oz.) unsalted butter, room temp.
  • 2 cups lightly packed brown sugar (or 1 cup brown & 1 cup coconut or date sugar)
  •  1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. fine salt
  • scant 3/4 tsp. cardamon
  • 1/2 tsp. fresh grated nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. ground dry ginger
  • 4 large eggs, room temp.
  • 1/2 cup milk, apple or pear juice, room temp.
  • 1/2 cup minced crystalized ginger
  • 2 1/4 cups (300g or 11 oz.) aerated white whole wheat flour 
  • 1 pear
  • 9- or 10- cup bundt pan, lightly buttered
  • Whipped Crème Fraîche or cream with a touch of sugar or honey

Preheat the oven to 350˚F

In a small bowl, sift the baking powder, salt and spices.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together the butter, sugar(s) and spice-baking powder-salt blend at medium speed until smooth and fluffy. Add the minced ginger and blend.

Crack the eggs into a small bowl and add the eggs, one at a time, beating until smooth after each egg. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl. Once fluffy,  add the flour, one-third at a time, alternating with milk. Scrape the bottom after each addition and blend just until incorporated.

Place just enough batter into the bottom of the pan to cover the bottom; this will keep the pear chunks from sticking to the pan.

Peel (optional), core, and dice pear then stir pieces into the batter and pour into bundt pan. Level the top with the back of a spoon. 

Bake the the cake until a tester or toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 50 minutes to 1 hour and 15 minutes depending on oven and type of pan used. Check often and record how long it takes on your recipe for next time. (wink)

Cool for 10-15 minutes. Gently pull cake away from the sides to loosen the cake. Place a cooling rack over the cake and flip the cake over, gently removing pan. Cool completely.

Roasted Pears

These pears are yummy on their own, see post for Roasted Autumn Pears, Honey, Cardamon & Halvah and they are best served at room temperature baked on the day you plan to serve them. Although, leftovers are always tasty! 

  • 6 firm pears, quartered and seeds removed but stems left on 
  • 1 lemon or orange
  • 2 Tbls. honey  
  • 1/2 tsp. cardamon mixed with 1 Tbls. sugar

Place the fruit on a baking dish that is large enough to give them a little room. Squeeze the lemon or orange juice over fruit and toss to keep the pears from browning. Leave pears cut-side up. They should not be squished together. 

Drizzle with honey and then sprinkle with sugar-cardamon mixture. Let sit on the counter for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 425°.

Roast the fruit for 10 to 15 minutes or until coked through when pierced with a knife. They should be slightly colored and not mushy. 

Remove from the oven and cool. 

 

 

Roasting Vegetables

Roasting vegetables is a great way to prep ahead for busy days. Vegetables can be roasted and stored in the fridge. Then:

  • Rewarm in a 325˚ oven
  • Toss into pasta
  • Toss into salads
  • Stir into risotto
  • Stir into stuffing
  • Stir into soup

Here's how:

Preheat oven to 375˚ - 450˚

Wash and drain veggies well & pat dry. Cut into similar size. Toss lightly in olive oil, coconut oil or melted ghee depending on the flavor profile of your vegetables. Sprinkle lightly with salt and place on parchment-lined sheet pan. Do not crowd. Roast until tender. Check by poking with a sharp knife. Test for seasoning adding s&p and a drizzle of flavored oil such as truffle oil, nut oils, olive oil and a sprinkling of fresh herbs.

Great veggies for roasting:

  • Winter veggie 
  • Asparagus
  • Green beans
  • Summer squash
  • Winter squash
  • Root veggies, carrots, turnips, parsnips...
  • Tomatoes, halved
  • Onions, halved, cut side down
  • Shallots, peeled
  • Sweet potatoes, leaving skin on make “steak fries”
  • Japanese eggplant halved lengthwise
  • Cauliflower and broccoli, cut into florets
  • Not good: leafy vegetables

Flavors: Sprinkle before roasting with~

  • “Hearty” herbs such as thyme, oregano or rosemary
  • Smoked or sweet paprika 
  • Mexican spices: oregano & cumin
  • Indian spices: curry powder, turmeric, pepper
  • Chinese five spice with sweet veggies
  • Moroccan: Cumin, coriander, cinnamon
  • Drizzled honey (go lightly)

Flavors: Sprinkle after roasting~

  • Minced “fresh tender” herbs such as cilantro, parsley, tarragon, chives
  • Add pitted Kalamata or dry cured olives into the oven the last 5 minutes of roasting
  • Pecans, hazelnuts, walnuts added to oven last 4 to 5 minutes to toast
  • Capers
  • Toasted breadcrumbs
  • Citrus zest

My favorite topping for Thanksgiving Vegetables: Pecan Gremolata~

  • 3/4 cup pecans
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup fresh minced parsley
  • 1 Tbls. lemon zest
  • 1 smallclove garlic, minced

Place pecans on a sheet pan and toast lightly while veggies are cooking, 4-6 minutes. Chop pecans until coarsely ground. Transfer to a bowl and add remaining ingredients. Season to taste and drizzle over veggies.

Roasted Autumn Pears, Honey, Cardamon & Halvah

Serves 6

  • 6 pears (firm but not hard), quartered and seeds removed but stems left on
  • 2 Tbls. honey mixed
  • 1/2 tsp. cardamon mixed with 1 Tbls. sugar
  • 1/4 cup shredded halvah (sesame seed “candy” found in Mediterranean markets)
  • 1/4 cup lightly toasted chopped walnuts, sliced or slivered almonds or pistachios
  • 1 Tbls. toasted sesame seeds (black seeds if possible)
  • 1 cup crème fraîche
  • 1 Tbls. powdered sugar

Place the fruit on a baking dish that is large enough to give them a little room. They should not be squished together. Drizzle with honey and let sit on the counter for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 425°.

Sprinkle with cardamon-sugar mixture and roast the fruit for 10 to 15 minutes or until coked through when pierced with a knife. They should be slightly colored and not mushy.

Whip the crème fraîche and powdered sugar just until soft peeks form.

Divide the cooked pears among individual dishes and spoon remaining juices left in the baking dish over pears.

Place a dollop of crème fraîche on each serving.

Garnish with the shredded halvah, nuts and sesame seeds.

Homemade Crème Fraîche:

Combine 1 cup whipping cream and 2 tablespoons buttermilk in a glass container. Cover with a towel or cheese cloth and let stand at room temperature (about 70°F) from 8 to 24 hours, or until very thick. Stir well before covering and refrigerate up to 10 days.

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Roasted Beet & Delicate Salad, Pomegranate Molasses, Blue Cheese and Walnuts

Serves 4-6

Salads shouldn’t be a science project; amounts are flexible. Sometimes recipes are so exacting, they become intimidating. Go will your gut here and taste, taste, taste. This salad is such an explosion of bright Fall colors and flavors with sweet, salty and bitter blended together. You just can’t mess it up!

Serves 4-6

  • Good quality olive oil and balsamic vinegar 
  • 4 small beets, I like yellow and/or striped Chioggia
  • 1 Delicata squash, washed, halved lengthwise, seeded and sliced into half moons
  • 2 bunches or 1 bag arugula, washed and spun dry
  • 2 to 4 ounces good quality creamy blue cheese
  • pomegranate molasses
  • coarsely chopped walnuts, about 1/2 cup

Preheat oven to oven to 425°F or better yet, roast beets while the oven is on for something else. The temperature isn’t crucial, just adjust the cooking time. 

Slice off both ends of the beets, the tip and top just enough to expose the flesh. Scrub to remove dirt and wrap them loosely in foil. Beets of the same size can be wrapped together. If you have one or two larger beets, cut them in half so they are about the same thickness as the smaller beets. Place the foil packages a baking sheet and roast for 30 to 40 minutes for small beets.  

To roast the Delicata squash, place the half moons on a parchment-lined cookie sheet with just enough olive oil to moisten and barely be noticeable. Add to the oven and roast 15-20 minutes or until tender. Remove from the oven and cool.

Check the beets every 20 minutes or so. Beets are done when a sharp knife or skewer slides easily to the middle of the beet. Cool enough to handle and peel the beets with a sharp knife or by rubbing the skin away with a paper towel. Slice beets into wedges, place in a bowl and sprinkle with just enough balsamic vinegar to bathe the beets without a puddle at the bottom of the bowl

When ready to serve, toss the arugula in a bowl with just enough olive oil to lightly coat the leaves. Add a small splash of balsamic (you can always add more) and a sprinkle of salt. Toss and taste. If it’s perfect, add the beats and squash and toss to coat. Place in a serving bowl and drizzle sparingly with the pomegranate molasses. Sprinkle with the nuts and small blobs of cheese and serve.

  • For and entrée salad, add grilled chicken or serve with roast or grilled pork tenderloin brushed with more pomegranate molasses.
  • I like to roast vegetables when the oven is on anyway. Roast whatever you’ve got, onions, winter squash, broccoli, until just tender. Cool and refrigerate. They can then be used to toss with pasta, add to frittata or soups and used in salads as below.
  • Roast beets this way, tossing in balsamic and store them in the fridge to use throughout the week.

Carrots with Sumac & Pomegranate Molasses

Carrots pair perfectly with the tang of sumac and the sweetness of pomegranate syrup. Use rainbow carrots for a psychedelic blast of color.

Serves 2-4

  • 2 bunches carrots, peeled and left whole or cut into thick pieces
  •  2 to 3 tsp. good olive oil
  • 1 tsp. sumac* or to taste
  • 2 tsp. pomegranate molasses
  • sea salt to taste
  • chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
  • Preheat oven to 450˚F

If you are using the oven anyway: 

Line a cooke sheet with parchment paper. Add the carrot and toss with 1 teaspoon olive oil to coat/ Roast until tender, about 30 to 45 minutes depending on the thickness of the carrots.

In a small bowl, blend the molasses, sumac and one teaspoon olive oil. When the carrots are done, drizzle them with half of the syrup mixture and a dash of salt and toss using the parchment as a cradle, rolling the carrots back and forth. Place the carrots on a serving platter and drizzle with the remaining syrup mixture.

If you aren’t using your oven and need a faster option:

Boil the carrots in a pot of salted water until they are crisp tender and not all the way done, about 4 to 8 minutes. Drain and place on the parchment-lined cookie sheet. Pat dry with paper towel and toss with 1 teaspoon olive oil to coat/ Roast until tender, about 5-10 minutes depending on the thickness of the carrots.

In a small bowl, blend the molasses, sumac and one teaspoon olive oil. When the carrots are done, drizzle them with half of the syrup mixture and a dash of salt and toss using the parchment as a cradle, rolling the carrots back and forth. Place the carrots on a serving platter and drizzle with the remaining syrup mixture.

*Sumac is a powdered berry native to the Middle East and found in Mediterranean markets.

 

Fig & Spelt Yogurt Cake

8 servings

  • 1 cup spelt flour or whole wheat, einkorn or all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup ground almonds 
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 to 1 cup organic, raw sugar
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt, Greek style works too, room temp.
  • 3 large eggs, room temp.
  • 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 1 basket fresh green or purple figs, stemmed and halved
  • 1/2 cup lemon marmalade, strained, or lemon glaze made with:
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar mixed with 1 tsp. each lemon juice & orange flower water
  • 1/4 cup chopped, toasted hazelnuts, optional
  • 9-inch cast iron skillet or cake pan with removable bottom

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350˚. degrees. Butter your pan. If using a cake pan, place it on a baking sheet and set aside. 

Whisk together the flour, ground almonds, baking powder and salt. Set aside. 

Put the sugar, cinnamon and lemon zest in a medium bowl and, working with your fingertips, rub the zest into the sugar until the sugar is moist and aromatic. Add the yogurt, eggs and vanilla to the bowl and whisk vigorously until the mixture is very well blended. Still whisking, stir in the dry ingredients, just until blended. Whisk in the butter. Scrape the batter into the pan and smooth the top and place the figs on the batter gently, cut side up.

Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until a tooth pick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Transfer the pan to a rack, cool. If using the cake pan, cool for 10 minutes, run a knife between the cake and the sides of the pan and un-mold to cool right-side up.

To glaze: Put the marmalade in a small pot and stir in a teaspoon of water. Heat just until liquefied. Using a pastry brush, gently brush the cake with the glaze.

Sugar glaze: Whisk glaze ingredients. It should be thick, yet pourable. Once cake is cool, drizzle over cake. Sprinkle with hazelnuts.

  • Served with a little sweetened crème fraîche
  • Replace figs with sliced peaches or plums
  • Bake in a 8 1/2-x-4 1/2-inch loaf pan for 50 to 55 minutes
  • Double the recipe. Bake in two buttered 9-inch round cake pans for 35 to 40 minutes. When cool, use a serrated knife to cut each cake horizontally into two layers. Fill with lemon curd, marmalade, raspberry jam, or whipped crème fraîche. 
  • Riviera Cake: Substitute olive oil for the butter and add 1/2 Tbls. finely minced fresh rosemary to the bowl when you are rubbing the sugar and lemon zest together.

Very adapted from Baking From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

Cherry & Goat Cheese Clafoutis

Is this an appetizer or dessert? I use it for both. Clafoutis is a simple "peasant" dish from the Limousine region of France. Cherries are most traditional in this dish but other stone fruits like pluots, plums, prunes and pears are delicious too. In this updated version by Patricia Wells, goat cheese and ground almonds are added making it equally delicious as an appetizer or lightly sweet dessert. Serves 6-8

  • Unsalted butter for preparing the baking dish
  • 1 1/2 pounds cherries, pitted
  • 1/2 cup (4 oz) very fresh, moist goat cheese, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup finely ground blanched almonds
  • A pinch of fine sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. pure almond extract
  • Confectioners' sugar, for dusting the gratin
  • Equipment: One 10 1/2 inch (27-cm) round porcelain baking dish

Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Butter the baking dish and arrange the cherries in a single layer. 

In a bowl, whisk the remaining ingredients except the confectioners' sugar and whisk to blend. This can be done in a food processor. Pour the mixture over the cherries. 

Place the baking dish in the center of the oven. Bake until the gratin is firm and a deep golden brown, about 30 minutes. Remove to a rack to cool. Dust lightly with confectioners' sugar, and serve in wedges. 

  • Decrease the sugar to 3 Tbls. and serve with bread as a cheese appetizer.
  • Serve for dessert with extra fresh cherries on the side.
  • Substitute halved plums.
  • Leave out the sugar and substitute plum or cherry tomatoes: slice tomatoes in half and lightly salt the cut side. Layer in paper towel to drain for 30 minutes and then proceed with recipe and 1/2 tsp. dried thyme.

At Home in Provence, Patricia Wells