Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Greek Cauliflower Stifado w/ Kale & Olives (Fall Vegetable Stew)

This is a great vegetarian recipe for a cool fall night.

A hearty dish, sans meat, just delicious veggies w/ some Greek oregano (much stronger than regular dried oregano), along with some potatoes and Kalamata olives.

This is my friend Peter's recipe, and I have had the pleasure of eating his delicious Greek food in person.
You can't miss with his recipes.

Cauliflower wins for my favorite vegetable.
Here, I used orange cauliflower because I thought it was pretty!

If you are doing the no carbs thing, then omit the couscous.

This is the perfect vegetarian meal.

Cauliflower Stifado (adapted from Kalofagas):

1 head of cauliflower, cut into florets
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, sliced
3-4 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 bay leaves
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 heaping Tbsp. tomato paste
6 small new potatoes, skin on (skins scrubbed/washed well), cut in half
3-4 cups hot vegetable stock
kosher salt and pepper to taste
3 cups of washed kale (or other leafy greens), stems removed
1 cup of Kalamata olives
3 Tbsp. fresh chopped rosemary
1 tsp. dried Greek oregano
red wine vinegar to finish

You will need a large Dutch oven for this, I used my 7 quart Le Creuset.

Heat the olive oil in the pot and saute the cauliflower a few minutes until getting some golden color on the crowns.

Add in the onions and garlic with the tomato paste and saute until the onion is soft.
Next, add in the potatoes and red peppers and cook this mixture for another minute or two.

Add in the stock, bay leaves, rosemary and olives and simmer the pot for about 25 minutes until your potatoes are tender. Add the kale in last, it only needs 10 minutes in the pot to wilt.

Before serving, add in a pinch of Greek oregano and a splash of red wine vinegar.

I served this on couscous and we loved it.

It's even better the next day for lunch.

Thank you Peter!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

More Apple Desserts: Ozark Pudding Cake

Give me an apple, and I will bake you a cake.

I buy a few apples every week during the fall so when I need a quick apple dessert, I am ready.

This one wins for easiest.

Not sure why they call this Ozark PUDDING? There is nothing pudding about it.
It's a skillet cake in my book.

Some Ozark pudding recipes use butter, but this one does not, and it's still super moist and yummy.
The brown sugar and pecans make this a nice sticky apple dessert.

Vanilla ice-cream optional, but I highly recommend it.

Ozark Pudding Cake (adapted from Southern Food)

1/2 cup sifted all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
1 cup finely chopped peeled apples

Mix the first 3 ingredients in a bowl.

In another bowl, mix the eggs, vanilla and sugar.

Add in the dry ingredients and mix well.
Next goes in the apples and nuts. A nice batter will form.

Spread into a 9" well buttered cast iron skillet and bake for 30 minutes at 350F.

Good right out of the pan, or the next day.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Best Fall Quinoa Salad w/ Apples, Chickpeas & Feta

Here it is.
I know you've been waiting for it.

We have 4 very different seasons in NJ, and each season I post a quinoa salad that you can eat for the next 3 months (2013 autumn version was the Brussels sprouts and butternut squash quinoa salad).

This is a bit late, but it's only just turning cooler, and my tomatoes are done for good.

This is Julie's recipe, and I made it exactly like she does.
It's her favorite, and will soon be yours too.

It's so good.

Fall Quinoa Salad w/ Chickpeas, Apples & Feta (you can also make this in the winter!): serves 4

1 cup quinoa, rinsed in a fine sieve
1/4 cup golden or sultana raisins
1 19 oz. (540 mL) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
a big handful of flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1/2 cup crumbled feta (or as much as you want)
1 tart-ish apple, chopped
1/2 cup toasted walnuts

1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup rice or white wine vinegar (I used white balsamic)
2 tsp honey
1/4 tsp curry powder
sea salt & pepper

Cook 1 cup quinoa according to package directions

Pour into a large salad bowl and set aside to cool. Add the raisins to the hot quinoa, so they plump up.

Add the chickpeas, parsley, feta and apple and drizzle with dressing.
Garnish with the toasted walnuts.


Friday, October 17, 2014

No Bake Cherry Granola Nut Bars

It must be fall if I am making granola bars.

I love Kashi Chocolate Almond & Sea Salt snack bars, and ALWAYS have one in my purse, and never go on a trip without a zip-loc bag full. They are the perfect snack in an emergency, and not too sweet, like so many granola bars.

But even better, is making your own granola bars at home. Kids love them, and so do adults.
Here is my tried and true recipe, that you bake in the oven, always a hit.

However, not in the mood to turn on my oven one night, I made these from reading a random instagram feed inspired by Food52 Bulk Bin Snack Bars.

I always have a surplus of nuts, so made my own combo.
I didn't have almond butter, so used peanut butter instead.

Some people used sunflower or pumpkin seeds; next time I will use dates and figs.
I used dried cherries & golden raisins for my bars.

These were so easy to put together!
and they make nice gifts too.

Here is my rendition:

1 cup of oats
2 cups of mixed nuts & seeds: (almonds, walnuts, pistachios, whatever you like)
1/3 cup of dried cherries
handful of golden raisins
1/2 cup of maple syrup or honey
1/2 cup of almond or peanut butter

Toast the oats, nuts and seeds a few minutes in a dry pan on the stove, just until fragrant.

In a double boiler or microwave, heat the honey with the nut butter and stir. If it is too thick, add in some water (mine was fine).

Pour the liquid into the nuts and oats and add in whatever dried fruit you are using.
Stir together.

Spread evenly in a paper lined 8 x 8 pan or half sheet pan.

Let cool overnight in the fridge to harden.
Cut into squares and enjoy!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Butternut Squash & Caramelized Onion Galette

This rustic galette screams out fall.

I have 3 varieties of beautiful sage still going strong in my garden, I only seem to use it in the cool weather, though it grows in my garden all summer long.

It's the last herb standing.

Sage is the perfect match for squash. The flavors work so well together.

Here, I made Smitten Kitchen's rustic squash galette, and it was so easy.

I think you could use any cheese. The original recipe calls for fontina, which I never seem to have, so I used cubed fresh mozzarella instead, and it worked out perfectly.

This is a wonderful tart. The butternut squash is so sweet and delicious, as are the yummy caramelized onions.

This was love at first bite.

Butternut Squash & Caramelized Onion Tart (adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

1 sheet defrosted frozen puff pastry

For the filling:
1 small butternut squash (about 1 lb.)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 to 2 tablespoons butter (if you have only non-stick, the smaller amount will do)
1 large onion or 2 medium, halved and thinly sliced in half-moons
1 teaspoon kosher salt
pinch of sugar
splash of balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon cayenne, or to taste
3/4 cup fontina, gruyere, or mozzarella cheese (about 2 1/2 ounces), grated or cut into small bits
1 tbsp chopped fresh sage leaves

Cut the butternut squash into cubes. It's easy.
Just cut the squash in half down the middle, and slice off the skins with a sharp knife.

Cut into small cubes and place on a baking sheet and drizzle w/ olive and kosher salt.
Bake in a 375F oven for 25-30 minutes. Remove the squash and place in a bowl.

While the squash is roasting, prepare the onions.
I like a higher ratio of onions to squash, so I use 2 onions.

In a heavy skillet, heat butter and cook the onions on low heat, until translucent. Sprinkle w/ some kosher salt and a pinch of sugar while cooking.
Onions should be done in about 15 minutes.
Towards the end of cooking splash the pan with some balsamic vinegar for extra yumminess, color and taste.

Place onions in the bowl with the chopped sage and the cooked squash. Mix together. Add in the cheese and give another toss.

Roll out puff pastry on a paper lined baking sheet and form a rustic circle.

Once the filling is cooled, spread into the middle of the pastry.

Fold over the edges to seal in the filling.

Bake in preheated 375F oven for 25 minutes, until the edges are nice and golden.

Let rest a few minutes before cutting into wedges.


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Crisp Fall Watermelon Radish & Apple Salad

I'm happy.

We planted watermelon radishes in the late spring, only to realize that they need 55-65 days before ready to harvest.
Well, it got too hot and none of them made it.

We tried it again in the fall, and voila! We have a whole patch of watermelon radishes in the October garden!
(and they took less than 55 days). Radish loves cool weather.

Watermelon Radish is also known as Rooseheart or Chinese Daikon radish.
I always see them in salads at farm to table restaurants, but can never find them at the market.

Well, now I have my own, and in October to boot!
I told you this was the garden that keeps giving.

Here, I made a simple fall salad w/ some local apples and arugula.
Nothing much to it, but very delicious and pretty.

Fall Apple Radish Salad:

1 apple, cut into matchsticks (I leave skin on)
2 watermelon radish, sliced on a mandolin
bunch of arugula
a few scallions, chopped

1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp white balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp olive oil

Mix the apples, radish slices and arugula in a bowl.
Squeeze a bit of lemon juice over the salad.
Then a splash of the vinegar and the oil.

Lightly toss and serve right away.

This is bright and tasty.

Crisp, like October.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Beetroot & Salmon Tartare

This is part 2 of the beetroot cured salmon (I love how the British called beets "beetroot").

How many slices of cured salmon can one girl eat? (Henry won't eat it).

I decided to use my abundance of beets and make a beet tartare and layer it with some of the beetroot cured salmon, along with a layer of my beloved avocado.

3 pretty layers all dressed up and no where to go on a Tuesday, except in my belly. :)

Beetroot & Salmon Tartare: (adapted from The Guardian original recipe from Marion Burros NYT)

4 medium fresh beets (I used all different colors)
1 tbsp chives, finely chopped
1 tsp tarragon, finely chopped
1 tsp Dijon mustard (make life easier and just buy tarragon mustard!)
1 tbsp shallots, finely chopped
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
3 drops tabasco sauce
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
1/2 lb. skinless salmon fillet, bones removed, diced
pea shoots or radish for garnish (optional)
sea salt and black pepper
1 avocado

Roast the beets or boil them, however you like to prepare your beets and peel them. Do this the day before so you have them all ready.
Dice into small pieces.

Transfer the diced beets to a bowl and add half the chives, tarragon, mustard and shallots. Add half the lemon juice, all the tabasco, and 1 tbsp oil. Mix well and season to taste. Cover and refrigerate.

Next bowl: Dice the salmon into pieces the same size as the beets.
Combine the salmon and the remaining chives, tarragon and shallots in a bowl. Add the parsley, and the remaining mustard, lemon juice and olive oil, then season to taste. Mix well, cover and chill.

Next bowl (yes, I used 3 bowls): Dice the avocado into pieces the same size as the salmon and the beets. Season w/ kosher or sea salt and a squeeze of lemon juice.

To serve, take four 8 cm baking rings and place them on your serving plates. Put a quarter of the beetroot tartare in the bottom of each, then a layer of the avocado, then top with an even layer of 1/4 of the salmon tartare.

Pat gently to compress. Remove the rings, and garnish with pea shoots or radish if desired.

I served it with the horseradish creme from the other day.

Delicious and beautiful.

Who says Tuesdays have to be boring!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Farfalle w/ Sausage, Kale & White Beans

If your garden is still producing kale, then here is another easy recipe to use it in.

My fall crop of kale is a curly, lighter variety, not sure of the name.
My May-August crop was Lacinato, or Tuscan kale, which is heartier and blueish in color.

As soon as I pick this stuff, it grows back the next day.
I am thankful.

This is an easy and delicious weeknight dinner, and I make it often.

Farfalle w/ Sausage, Kale & White Beans:

8 oz. of farfalle (bowties)
4 garlic cloves, chopped
big handful of washed kale, stems removed if they are thick
2 good quality Italian sausage links, casings removed
1 can of white beans, drained and rinsed
handful of semi-dried tomatoes (packed in oil), chopped
1/4 cup of chicken broth
hot pepper flakes
sea salt & grated Parmesan

Start the pasta water. Bring to a boil and cook pasta as per directions.

In a large heavy skillet, heat some olive oil and crumble the sausage with the garlic. Cook on medium until sausage is no longer pink.

Add in kale and season w/ kosher or sea salt and red pepper flakes.
Cook the kale until wilted. Add in the stock and beans and simmer 2 more minutes. Keep lid on if pasta is not done.

Save about 1/4 cup of the starchy pasta water and add the cooked pasta to the kale mixture.

Drain the pasta and toss with the other ingredients in the skillet.

Serve in bowls and finish w/ grated Pecorino or Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.


Friday, October 10, 2014

First Apple Cake of the Season

Can it be October already?
Hard to believe I am not posting a tomato (or beet) recipe.

I love this simple apple cake, nothing fancy, I don't even peel the apples anymore.

I use local, Oldwick, NJ apples. Gala, Golden Delicious, Cortland or Granny Smith for my cakes and pies.

*side note: I know everyone loves those Honeycrisp apples (not me...too sweet), however, they are NOT good for baking, just remember that when your cake doesn't turn out right.

All you need here are 2 apples and I know you have the rest of the ingredients in the house.

Make this cake. It's the only apple cake recipe you will ever need.

Best eaten warm, about an hour after baking.

Happy fall.

A Simple Apple Cake (from Canal House Cooking, Vol. 7)

8 tbsp butter, softened
3/4 - 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar for the top
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups flour, plus more for the pan
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 pinch salt
1/2 cup whole milk,
grated zest of 2 small lemons, preferably organic
2 Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored, and thickly sliced (I leave the peels on)

Preheat oven to 350F.

Butter a 9" springform pan.

In a large bowl, cream the butter, sugar, zest, egg and vanilla until light and creamy.

Mix the dry ingredients in another bowl and slowly incorporate them into the wet batter.

Add in the milk and mix another minute.

Spread this batter into your buttered cake tin.

Arrange the apple slices however you like, I do mine in a concentric pattern.

Sprinkle the top with sugar (I used cinnamon-sugar this time).

Bake 45-50 minutes, depending on your oven.

Let cool 10 minutes and then unmold from the pan.

Serve with whipped cream or naked.

I LOVE this cake.

Simple is always best. :)

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Mark Bittman's Fast Baked Eggplant Parm

I still have plenty of eggplants in the October garden.
I'm not complaining.

Eggplant is one of my favorite vegetables, but only if prepared right.

There are very few people who can cook eggplant properly.
My sister-in-law Linda being one of them, and an Italian deli in Maplewood, NJ (DiPietro's) used to, not sure if they still sell it by the pound.

Super thin and crispy is how I love it.
Never mushy or wet.

The seeds burn my husband's tongue and gums, so he is out.
I will have to eat it alone.

I have been known to eat slices of fried eggplant wrapped in wax paper in my car (ask my mother, it's true).

Mark Bittman is so smart.
This recipe is from his new book How to Cook Everything Fast.

Feel free to use any cheese you like, Gruyere would be good.
I used some fresh cubed mozzarella, along with some shredded mozz and cheddar along w/ the Parimigiano.

This took all of 30 minutes from start to finish, and I loved the results.
I almost ate the whole pan for lunch by myself.

Who needs frying and messing up the stove?
Not me.

Bittman's Fast Eggplant Parmesan: (serves 2-4)

1 large purple eggplant, skin on, sliced 1/4" rounds
2 ripe tomatoes (I used my heirlooms, still hanging on), sliced
1/2 cup handful of shredded mozzarella cheese (any cheese is good)
1/2 cup of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
1/2 cup of seasoned dried breadcrumbs
handful of fresh herbs (I used mint and parsley cause I had no basil left in the garden)

Preheat oven to 450F (original recipe has you broil the eggplant, but I would burn it, I need more control, so 450F is better for moi).

Mix the cheeses, herbs and breadcrumbs in a bowl and set aside.

Drizzle olive oil on a sheet pan and heat the pan in the oven.

Carefully remove the pan from the oven and lay the eggplant slices on the pan and sprinkle w/ kosher salt.
Lay the tomato slices on top and sprinkle w/ kosher salt.

Bake for 10 minutes.

Remove from the oven and spoon the cheese/crumb mixture over the eggplant tomato stacks.

Bake for another 10-15 minutes until bubbly and brown.
Let rest a few minutes before removing with a fish spatula and plating.