Wednesday, November 25, 2015

I Need a Salad: Greek Chickpea & a Giveaway

After a week of baking and holiday recipe testing, I can't stand myself.

I need a salad.

50 is not the new 30.
I can't eat like I used to without gaining weight. I've been lucky for way too long.

Though I eat very well, mostly fish and vegetables, I am a carb freak.

I love pasta more than you do, and I love bread too. Cake ain't so bad either.
I eat it at least twice a day and might have to join some kind of exercise class if I keep this up.

Today I am having a salad.
No bread, no cake, no pasta and no wine.
Can I do it?

Yes, I can.

I love salads, and this one was easy to put together, and I love chickpeas (garbanzo beans).
Beans, beans, good for the heart, the more you eat, the more you............

Chickpea Greek Salad:

1 (15 oz) can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
1/2 small red onion, chopped
handful of cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1/3 cup pitted kalamata olives
1 cucumber, sliced and quartered
4 oz feta cheese, crumbled or cut into 1/2 inch cubes
fresh parsley, chopped
big handful of fresh arugula

For the dressing:
2 tbsp olive oil
juice of a lemon
1 teaspoon dried oregano
sea salt & pepper

Add all the ingredients in a big bowl, adding in the arugula just before serving.

Squeeze in the lemon juice and drizzle in some olive oil.
Season w/ the sea salt, pepper and dried oregano.

Mix together and enjoy.

and on another festive, holiday note: just for you NJ readers, MPAC (Mayo Performing Arts Center in Morristown, NJ) is hosting a giveaway on my blog!

They are giving one of my readers 2 VIP tickets to see Robert Irvine from Food Network and Restaurant Impossible, in a one man live cooking show at the Center for Performing Arts in Morristown (it's a gorgeous theater), next Wed. December 2, at 8 pm.

I will choose a random winner and announce it on Friday. Please don't forget to leave your email in the comment (important!).

Have a happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Butternut Squash & Sage Scones

I'm getting this recipe in before the bell.

I made them yesterday and froze them for Thursday's feast.

I had some leftover roasted butternut squash, and sage is still alive in my garden, so this was the perfect idea.

I liked Marie's recipe for kale and squash savory scones, but I since am making Suzanne Goin's kale and date stuffing, I didn't want to overkill on the kale at the CARB FEST.......

This won a Food52's best scone award (they give out a lot of awards).

I didn't use a food processor, as Food52 recommends. I used my hands to mix the cold butter bits in with the flour.

The idea is not mixing with a spoon, but incorporating w/ a dinner fork.
The batter is sticky, but comes together easily. I kept wetting my hands while forming the dough.

I think bacon would be amazing in this time.

Butternut Squash & Sage Scones: (adapted from Food52) makes 8 scones

2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
6 tablespoons granulated sugar, plus more for sprinkling on top of scones
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1/2 cup butternut squash puree
1/3 cup heavy cream, plus more for brushing on top of scones
1 large egg
8 small sage leaves

For the roasted butternut squash: (you will only need 1/2 cup, so will have leftovers for toast or other recipes).

Slice squash in half, scoop out seeds.
Spread some coconut oil and kosher salt on the flesh.

Turn flesh side down on a parchment lined baking sheet.

Roast for 40 minutes in a 400F oven. Let completely cool, and flip over.

Then scoop out 1/2 cup of the squash for this recipe.
(Cooked squash freezes beautifully, btw).

Using your hands. Incorporate the flour with the cold cubes of butter by rubbing the butter in between your fingers to form a dough. You are just spreading the cold butter into the flour mixture.

Add in the spices, sugar, egg, squash and cream (and everything else, in case I am forgetting something).

Using a dinner fork, mix the ingredients together to form a nice dough.

Chill the dough for easier handling, or continue if you have no patience, like me.

Form the dough into a ball and flatten out onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet.

With a wet knife, score into 8 pieces of pie.

Brush with a little bit of heavy cream.

Place a fresh sage leaf into each section, and brush over the leaves w/ more cream.

Sprinkle the entire dough with sugar. Now you are ready to bake, or freeze up to this point.

I decided to bake them.

Bake in a preheated 400F oven for 20-25 minutes.

While still warm, run a knife around the cuts you made to separate into individual scones.

Let cool on a cooling rack a few minutes.

These were light and pillowy, and not too sweet.
Excellent served warm w/ butter! They freeze beautifully, and can be microwaved the next am if they are stale.

So good!

PS NJ readers, stay tuned for a great giveaway on the blog tomorrow. 2 VIP tickets to the Robert Irvine Live show at MPAC in Morristown for next week!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Thanksgiving Leftovers = Pizza

I'm calling this a "Thanksgiving Pizza" because it's a great idea for using up your leftovers after turkey day.

I usually make a turkey pot pie and turkey sandwiches, however, I will have a lot of squash and brussels sprouts leftover, and grapes from the cheese why not use them to make a pizza?

This is SO good.
No rules here. Use whatever vegetables you have leftover.

You can use Naan flatbreads if you don't feel like making pizza dough, or use already made dough from your pizzeria.

Here's how:

Brush the dough all over lightly with olive oil (this will help for a crisp crust).

Stretch out your pizza dough to fit into a 1/4 sheet pan.

Plop some spoonfuls of fresh ricotta intermittently around the dough.

Repeat this method with some pureed butternut squash (or sweet potatoes!). You want an orange and white thing going on.

Dot the pizza w/ some seedless red grapes and leftover cooked Brussels sprouts.

Slice a quarter of a red onion and throw some of the slices on top.

I used one ball of fresh mozzarella packed in water. Tear the cheese with your hands and scatter it around the empty parts of the dough (it's ok to overlap).

Using your fingers, sprinkle a bit of sea salt over everything, and a grind or two of black pepper.

You are almost ready........

Lightly drizzle some olive oil over everything on the pizza.

Place in a preheated 475F oven and cook for 12-15 minutes until the crust is crispy and the cheese is melted and bubbly.

Slice and enjoy!

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!


Thursday, November 19, 2015

Roasted Brussels Sprouts on Smokey Parsnip Puree

Why did it take me so many years to discover my love for parsnips?

They are an ugly looking vegetable, but they taste wonderful! Like a spicy carrot.

Boil or roast them and make this delicious puree, in leu of mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving this year (you might have mutiny at your house if you do that).

The recipe calls for a stick of butter and 2 cups of cream! ouch.
I cut the fat in half and had great results.

Roasted Brussels w/ Parsnip Puree: (adapted from Tyler Florence)

1 lb parsnips, peeled and cut into pieces
salt & pepper
2 cups heavy cream (I only used 1 cup!)
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 tsp of pimenton (smoked Spanish paprika), optional, but gives a nice flavor
1 head garlic, cut in 1/2 horizontally
4 ounces unsalted butter or extra-virgin olive oil (I used half stick of butter, 2 oz.)

Put the parsnips in pot, season with salt and cover with water. Place over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Cook until tender, about 20 minutes. The tip of a paring knife should easily go through without resistance.

In a medium saucepan place the cream, thyme sprigs and garlic cloves over low heat and bring to a simmer.

Drain parsnips and reserve cooking liquid. Place parsnips in a food processor with butter, or extra-virgin olive oil and a couple of tablespoons of reserved cooking liquid.

Begin to process and add strained heavy cream mixture. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and puree until very smooth.

You can make this ahead and keep in the fridge. Reheats beautifully.

To roast Brussels sprouts: Trim and slice sprouts in half and lay on a sheet pan.
Drizzle w/ olive oil & kosher salt.

Roast 375F for 20-25 minutes, shaking the pan once or twice, until nice and crispy.
You can also roast them at higher heat (400F), however, they tend to burn if they are small.

Plate on a schmear of parsnip puree and drizzle w/ olive oil.


Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Nopi Corn Cakes....wowza

So the new Ottolenghi cookbook NOPI is not for the beginner cook, but ok, there are a few recipes that we can make on a regular weeknight without a major production.

This is one of them.

I had all the ingredients in the house.

It's not fresh corn season in NJ, so I used a bag of frozen white corn.

OMG. These are dangerous little things.
They are fantastic.
Nothing like a corn muffin at all....almost like an airy quiche or souffle.

The unusual combination of tarragon, toasted fennel seed, cumin and celery seed make these little cakes crazy good, (and the fennel seed is from my garden last year).

The original recipe wants you to use corn husks to be really authentic......and if you can't use the husks, then fit parchment paper into muffin tins for a nice effect.

Would you believe I had no parchment paper left? So I used these great wax coated paper liners that peel off with ease.

The recipe makes 6 muffins.

I might serve these instead of stuffing at Thanksgiving, but there could be mutiny.
I did a trial turkey day run last week.

Nopi's Corn Cakes (adapted from the book by Yotam Ottlenghi with the same name). makes 6 muffins

5 medium ears of corn, husked and sliced off the cob or a 1 lb. of frozen corn, defrosted
3 small shallots, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp fennel seeds, toasted
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp celery seeds
1 tsp dried tarragon, 1/2 oz. if using fresh
1 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup (5 tbsp) melted butter
2 large eggs, yolks & whites separated
2 tbsp flour
6 chunks of good quality feta cheese
sea salt & pepper

Preheat the oven to 375F and grease or spray 6 muffin liners.

In a food processor, combine the corn, shallots, garlic, fennel seeds, cumin, celery seeds, tarragon and baking powder in 4 whizzes. It should be chunky.

Next add in the melted butter and egg yolks plus 2 tbsp flour, salt & black pepper.

Whiz another few times to combine. Don't overprocess.

Dump everything into a large bowl.

In a clean bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks. Yes, I do this with a whisk and muscles and it is my least favorite chore besides pitting cherries.....I am too lazy to take out my hand mixer.

In 3 additions, fold in the egg whites into the corn batter, gently. Just to combine.

Scoop the batter evenly into the 6 prepared muffin tins and using your hands, push a cube of feta cheese into the center of each little cake/muffin. The batter will bake up around the cheese, I promise.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, until puffed and golden.
Let fully cool.

I think I will make the batter, then bake them up just before serving the bird.


Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Soup's On! Butternut Squash & Black Bean

Here is my first cool weather soup.

This is a simple one.
You don't even need chicken stock as the base, you can use water, it will be flavorful enough.

I think the fresh lemon juice at the end makes this soup come together. Don't skip that.

The only hard part is cutting up the butternut squash, but you can cheat and buy it pre-cut to make life easier.

Butternut Squash & Black Bean Soup:

1 tbsp coconut oil
1 butternut squash, cut into cubes
1 yellow onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
1 tsp cumin
shake of cayenne pepper (depends on how hot you like it)
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
3 cups of broth or water
salt & pepper to taste
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
fresh cilantro and avocado for garnish

Saute the squash, carrots and onion in the coconut oil on medium heat, until the onions are translucent.
Coat w/ the cumin and stir.

Add in the liquid and simmer for 25 minutes, until the carrots are soft.

Remove about 1/3 of the soup to a bowl and using a hand blender, puree the solids.

Add the pureed soup back into the pot with the rest of the soup.

Add in the drained beans and simmer with fresh cilantro for another 2 minutes.
Squeeze in 1 tbsp of fresh lemon juice.

Taste to adjust seasonings.

Serve in bowls and garnish w/ yogurt, cheese or avocado.

Freezes well too!


Monday, November 16, 2015

Thoughts on Paris

When have I ever posted anything other than about food on this blog?

I'm not the best writer, I speak from my heart....and sometimes I just say what's on my mind (more than sometimes!).

I felt like I had to say something about the Paris attacks that happened this weekend, in the city I love and think about everyday.

We have made so many friends over the last 10 years and keep in touch with them on a daily basis, Paris has become our second home.

I feel like it's 9/11 all over again.

We live 18 miles from the World Trade Center, and when it happened, it affected our immediate community in many ways. People lost family members in the Towers, and the local economy was also affected by these heinous acts.
We were crippled for a little while, but we stayed tough and came back fully, if not stronger.

France has always been our friend and supported and stood by us during that time, and we are there for them now.

As you must know by now, Paris is a wonderful city, filled with gorgeous, culture and history, but it's the people that make it special.
They are proud and passionate, like New Yorkers, and come together when the going gets tough.
I would get back on a plane tomorrow, if I could!!!!

I receive at least 2 emails a week asking for Paris recommendations on restaurants, where to stay, day trips, etc. As if I were the food ambassador of France!

My godson is leaving for his honeymoon on Saturday, and they were thinking of canceling their trip.....I said absolutely NOT! GO!
You will be fine, and by not going, the bad people win. They want us to be afraid.
(and I would happily chaperone them!).

Without getting too political, I feel we can never compromise our personal beliefs or freedoms that these people are trying to take away from us.

I had to say something about it today, because my heart is broken for all these families who lost loved ones, how do you come back from such a tragedy? I don't know the answer.

No recipe today. Just food for thought.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Butternut Squash Cake w/ Cinnamon Glaze

I have been so in love with squash this season.
Carnival, Delicata, Butternut, Acorn, you name it, I like it.

Roasting is my favorite method to serve this fall/winter vegetable.

Why not bake it in a cake?
I made a Torta di Zucca a while back, and it was delicious.

This recipe is more of a cake instead of a dense torta.

The original recipe calls for a beurre salé (salted caramel) on top, but I opted for a cinnamon glaze with pecans.
To each his own.

Did you know you can freeze pureed squash? Make it ahead or freeze leftovers from last night.
You only need half a cup for this recipe.

This was delicious. Moist and fragrant. Better even than my beloved carrot cake and as moist as a zucchini bread.

A note from the original recipe: *Don't open the oven before the 30 minute mark or your cake will sink.
OBEY. You have been warned.

My only complaint about this recipes is that it makes one small 8" cake.

This is a great cake for Thanksgiving, and you can make it, frost it and freeze it!

Butternut Squash Cake w/ Cinnamon Glaze: (adapted from Knead for Food)

1 cup + 2 tbsp flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp fresh grated nutmeg

4 tbsp butter (2 oz.), softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg, room temp
1/2 cup cooked, pureed butternut squash
1/4 cup vegetable oil (I used melted coconut oil)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla

Cinnamon Glaze:

1 cup of confectioners (powdered) sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp heavy cream
1/4 cup of chopped pecans

Whisk all ingredients for the icing (including the nuts) with a fork and set aside.

Roast the squash either by seeding and cutting it into cubes and drizzling w/ olive oil and kosher salt (400F for 25 minutes), or cutting a whole squash in half, removing the seeds, and brushing w/ coconut oil and kosher salt (any oil works), flesh side down for 30-40 minutes.

Spoon out the flesh (if roasting whole) and mash the cooked squash. Set aside.

Butter an 8" springform pan and preheat oven to 350F.

Mix the first 5 ingredients in a large bowl.

Cream the butter w/ the sugars, egg, oil, mashed cooked squash, vanilla and cream.
Add to the dry ingredients and mix to make a batter.

Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 35-40 minutes.
*as I mentioned above. Do not open the oven door before the 30 minute mark, or your cake will sink, and there is no turning back.

I checked mine after 35 minutes, and it was nicely done with some cracks on top.

Remove cake ring when cool enough to handle and pour out the glaze into the middle of the cake until it all drips over the sides and the nuts spread over the top of the cake.

Let completely cool so icing hardens.

In fact, I kept this cake covered in the garage, to keep it cool......I almost liked it served "cold".


Gets even better after the second day, if it lasts that long.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Sausage & Pepper Frittata

This is a great idea to use leftover sausage and peppers from last night.....or like me, just make it from scratch, it takes no time to whip up.

This was a great Sunday a.m. breakfast with a side of potatoes, and fantastic cold, the next day w/ a swipe of aioli on bread for Henry's lunch.

I used a small non-stick skillet (8"), however, if you are making this for a crowd, use 8 eggs and a larger skillet, along with more sausage and peppers. It's not brain surgery.

Sausage & Pepper Frittata: 6 small slices

5 eggs
1 good quality Italian sausage link, casing removed
1/2 red bell pepper, sliced thin
1/2 yellow bell pepper sliced thin
1/2 onion, sliced thin
handful of chopped fresh basil
enough olive oil to coat the pan
salt & pepper
1/4 cup of feta cheese

Preheat oven to 350F.

In a non-stick skillet heat some olive oil and crumble the sausage. Cook on medium heat until no longer pink.
Add in the peppers and onion and cook for another few minutes until the onion is getting soft.

Mix up the eggs in a bowl and pour then into the skillet w/ the sausage mixture.
Cook until the edges are set, tilting the pan so the middle of the omelet gets set, about 5 minutes, tops.

While the middle is still wet, crumble the feta cheese on top.

Place the skillet directly into the preheated oven for about 5-7 minutes, just until the top is golden.

Slide the frittata out of the skillet onto a serving plate and cut into wedges.