Saturday, October 30, 2010

Sweet Potato Bread

I have been saving this recipe since last year from TW's blog, and now that it's sweet potato weather, it's time to try it.

This is more like a dense tea cake, and a gorgeous afternoon snack with coffee or tea.

Easy as sweet potato pie to make, the only pain is grating the sweet potatoes, but that's why food processor's were invented.

This would be a lovely addition to your Thanksgiving table.

Sweet Potato Walnut Bread (adapted from Culinary Types)

1 cup unbleached flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch salt
¾ cups vegetable oil
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups grated sweet potato
1 cup chopped walnuts
(I added 1/2 cup golden raisins)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan. Sift flours, sugar, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder and salt together in a mixing bowl. Combine oil, eggs, and vanilla in a separate bowl and mix well.

Stir grated sweet potatoes into wet mixture. Combine wet ingredients with flour mixture.

Stir in walnuts until just combined. Spread batter in loaf pan. Bake until wooden skewer inserted in center comes out dry, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Let stand on a rack for 15 minutes. Use a sharp knife along the edges of the pan to release the bread and continue to cool (I line my loaf pan with parchment paper for easy lift out).

This was wonderful warm out of the oven, as well as for breakfast the next a.m.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Spinach & Sun Dried Tomato Quiche

Quiche, Tart, Pie, call it what you will.

If you have some frozen pie dough in the freezer, you are in business.

I call this a quiche, (so you won't think I am obsessed with tarts), because it is egg and cream based.

You can use fresh or frozen spinach, and any cheese you like. It's that easy.

Recipe makes one 9" quiche, or 4 small individual ones.

Spinach & Sundried Tomato Quiche:

1 recipe for pate brisee

2 cups of fresh washed spinach leaves (not baby spinach), or 10 oz. frozen spinach, defrosted and liquid squeezed out.
1 onion, chopped
3 eggs
1/2 heavy cream
3/4 cup of shredded Swiss or Gruyere cheese
salt & pepper
4 sundried tomatoes, sliced into thin strips

In a heavy skillet, cook the onion until translucent. Add the spinach (I use fresh) to the pan with the onion. Spinach will cook down and decrease in volume by a lot.
Season w/ salt and pepper.

Make the custard: Mix 3 eggs w/ the cream and cheese. Sprinkle a dash of nutmeg in the liquid.

When the onion spinach mixtures has cooled, add to the custard.

Roll out pastry dough to fit a 9" quiche pan (or 4 individual tart pans).
Some pastry dough requires pre-baking the shell for a few minutes with pie weights.
I usually don't bother.

I cook my quiches and tarts on a baking sheet, so none of the liquid seeps thru.

Pour mixture into prepared shell and decorate the tops with the sundried tomato strips.

Bake at 375F for 35 minutes (25 minutes for individual tarts). Let quiche cool a few minutes in the pan before serving or removing. The quiches will puff up while baking, then deflate when cooled.

Enjoy warm or at room temperature!

The Tart Queen (or Quiche Queen)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Roasted Cauliflower w/ Preserved Lemon

If you have never had preserved lemons, I urge you to try them.
You can make your own at home very easily, but I buy a huge jar from a Middle Eastern food store for so cheap, why bother?

They have a unique flavor and are used mostly in Moroccan and Middle Eastern cooking.
They are excellent in tagines and couscous, and one lemon goes a long way.

I roast cauliflower often, sometimes with grapes, sometimes with onions or currants, sometimes with anchovies and breadcrumbs, sometimes just straight up.

Here is yet another way to enjoy my favorite vegetable.

Roasted Cauliflower w/ Preserved Lemon: (inspired by Canal House Cooking)

1 head of cauliflower, cut into small florets
olive oil and kosher salt
2 small preserved lemons, chopped
fresh parsley for sprinkling
sliced regular lemons for garnish

On a large baking sheet, coat the cauliflower w/ olive oil and kosher salt.
Sprinkle the preserved lemon on top of the vegetables.

Roast at 400F for about 20-25 minutes, shaking the pan once or twice in between roasting.

Remove from the pan and sprinkle with fresh parsley.

This was so refreshing!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Rustic Dinner: Sausages, Apples & Onions

If this doesn't say comfort food and cool weather, I don't know what does.

This is a one pan dish made in a cast iron skillet.

Buy the best homemade sausages you can find, preferably from a butcher (I buy mine from Vacchiano Farms in NJ). Choose sweet sausages (I am so bossy), I like fennel in mine, but it's a personal choice.

A couple of fall farm stand apples, and a few onions and dinner is almost ready.

Rustic Dinner: Sausages, Apples & Onions (inspired by Canal House Cooking)

8 small links of sausage, or 4 links, cut in half
2 small onions, peeled and cut in half, lengthwise
2 apples, peeled, cored and quartered
salt and pepper
fresh sage leaves for garnish

You can adjust the amount of onions, sausage or apples for the amount of people you are feeding. No real rules here.

Start by heating a 12" cast iron skillet w/ olive oil and placing the onion halves, cut side down. Cook about 5 minutes on medium heat.
I needed a splatter screen for this, the onions were spitting!


Now add the sausage links and apple quarters to the skillet.
Season with salt and pepper.

With tongs, move the sausage links until brown on all sides and reduce the heat a bit.
When the apples start to brown, turn them over with the tongs, all the while NOT DISTURBING THE ONIONS! I know you're tempted.

After about 15 minutes, everything should be done.
Garnish with fresh sage leaves and serve with crusty bread (which I also cooked in the skillet).

Now the onions are done.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Good Ideas: Brussels Sprouts w/ Smoky Onions on Toast

I can be very creative with leftover vegetables, but am always stumped by leftover Brussels sprouts!
I don't really want to make a frittata or quiche with them, they take on a different texture the next day.

What to do with all these cute little green things?
When I googled leftover b.s., Bubble & Squeak mostly came up. Well I don't always have potatoes leftover, so that's out.

This recipe from Deborah Madison, the vegetarian queen, via Food & Wine came up and it made for an excellent lunch!

This makes 4 open faced toasts.

Make sure you are using sweet smoked paprika (usually Spanish), not the Hungarian sweet variety.

Brussels Sprouts on Toasts w/ Smoky Onions and Cheddar Melts: (adapted from Food & Wine)

1 pound Brussels sprouts, thinly sliced lengthwise (I used leftover roasted B.S.)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, sliced thin
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon sweet smoked Spanish paprika
4 slices of multigrain bread, toasted
4 ounces extra-sharp cheddar cheese, thinly sliced

Preheat the oven to 350°. In a saucepan of boiling salted water, cook the Brussels sprouts until they are just tender, about 5 minutes. Drain and pat dry.
(Skip this step if you are using already cooked leftover sprouts!).

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the onion, season with salt and pepper and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until just softened, about 5 minutes.

Add the paprika, cover and cook over low heat, stirring frequently, until the onion is tender, about 10 minutes; add a little water if the onion dries out.

Add the Brussels sprouts to the skillet and cook until tender throughout, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Arrange the toasts on a baking sheet and top with the cheddar. Bake for 2 minutes, until the cheese is melted; mound the Brussels sprouts and onions on top and serve.

You can also place the sprouts, smoky onions on the toasts and top with the cheddar and broil for a minute until cheese is melted.

Yummy lunch!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Kitchen Cabinet Vegetarian Chili

veg chili3

Isn't chili just a big pot of stuff from cans found in your kitchen cabinet?

You can use any variety of canned beans, kidney, black bean, white, garbanzos.

Any type of canned tomatoes (I recently discovered Ro-Tel w/ the chilis in it!), diced, crushed, or sauce.

Peppers, onions, garlic, and some spices from the cabinet, and you have a wonderful vegetarian dinner served over rice.

Last night's kitchen cabinet produced:

a 16 oz. can of black beans
a 16 oz. can of red kidney beans
a 14 oz. can of diced tomatoes
plus a small can of Ro-Tel tomatoes with the hot chilis already mixed in.
an 8 oz. can of corn (optional)

1 onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 green pepper, diced
4 cloves garlic, chopped

Dried spices from the spice cabinet were:

1 tsp cumin
2 Tbsp chili powder
dash cayenne pepper

In a heavy Dutch oven, cook the onion, peppers, and garlic for a few minutes until onion is translucent.

Add the dried spices while you are stirring the onion mixture around.

Drain and rinse your beans and add them to the pot along with the tomatoes.

Simmer on low for about 15 minutes and you have a really easy vegetarian chili!

I like to garnish with fresh cilantro, but you can do cheddar cheese or sour cream too!

Look in your kitchen cabinet and see what you have. A chili will be born!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Olive Oil Cake w/ Apples & Dates

I finally realized why it is that I don't love to bake.
It's the butter thing.

I hate waiting for the butter to come to room temperature, and I also don't like to have to clean a mixer and all the different bowls, so I always choose cakes that I can make in one bowl with my wooden spoon and a little muscle.

If you have noticed a trend here, using olive oil in cakes instead of butter, you would be correct.
It is a healthier alternative to butter, and much easier to measure out the oil in a measuring cup than to cream butter with a paddle attachment on a mixer!

This olive oil cake is one of the best ones I have made so far. The original recipe comes from Group Recipes and is called "One Bowl Italian Apple Cake".

What's also nice about this recipe is that it uses only one mixing bowl, one wooden spoon and maybe a rubber spatula to spread the batter into the pan.

I have made it 3 times now, perfecting the recipe each time. Adding cloves the second time and vanilla the third, one time I only used one apple (because that is what I had, and it was still great). The last time I made it, I used raisins, because the date supply was depleted (from all the date nut breads I bake!).

My dad and husband said it was the best cake I have ever made.
That's a rave, so don't be afraid to try it.

The texture is very similar to a Jewish apple cake (which uses vegetable oil) and close to a cinnamon coffee cake.

It's best made the day before you are going to serve it (if you can wait that long!).

One Bowl Italian Apple Cake w/ Dates: (adapted from Group Recipes)

3/4 cup olive oil (for baking I use a mild olive oil like Colavita brand)
3 eggs
1 3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
pinch salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp cinnamon
1 cup walnuts, chopped
3 apples, peeled and diced
1 cup of pitted dates, chopped (or raisins if you don't have dates)

Topping: (optional)
1/2 cup of brown sugar mixed with a teaspoon of cinnamon, some chopped nuts and 2 tablespoons of butter, cut up into little pieces.

Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and add in the apples and nuts last.
Sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon topping and dot with the butter pieces.

In a greased 9 x 13 pan, bake for 50 minutes at 325F.

Let completely cool before serving.

Watch it disappear!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Baked Apples w/ Cantal, Hazelnuts & Pancetta

Baked apples are such a fall thing.

I have my usual supply of Empire apples from my friend Martha's fruit orchard, and when life gives you apples, make baked apples (or applesauce, apple fritters, apple pie, cakes........).

I found this unusual recipe in a French magazine Cuisine et Vins de France and adapted the metric measurements to the U.S. conversions, which always confuses me!
But it's a basic stuffing, so you can't go wrong.

If you can't find Cantal, which is a lovely cheese from the Auvergne region, then substitute Comte (or Gruyere).

For 4 apples:

Hollow out the apples. Take as much of the flesh out as you can without going thru to the bottom. I use a paring knife, then a melon baller to get the job done.
Save the tops of the apples for the lids.

For the stuffing:

1/4 cup hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
6 oz. Cantal cheese, cut into small dice
2 tbsp raisins
4 oz. bacon or smoked pancetta, cut into cubes
melted butter for brushing the apples

Fry up the bacon or pancetta, and toss in a bowl with the chopped nuts, raisins and diced cheese. Spoon stuffing into the hollowed out apples and pack tightly.

Brush with melted butter and place tops back on to cover.

Place apples in a baking dish with a little water on the bottom.
Bake 35 minutes at 350F.

These were more savory than sweet baked apples, perfect along side my Friday night roast chicken.


Thursday, October 21, 2010

Roasted Bagna Cauda Broccoli

This is delicious.

I roast everything, so how come I never thought to roast broccoli?
I tried it and now I am hooked.

Roast it the same way that you would roast cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, carrots, etc. 425F for 20 minutes on a baking sheet w/ olive oil and kosher salt. It turned the broccoli into nutty crispy goodness.

Even the broccoli hater in the house LOVED this, yes, loved. Celebration!
I can buy broccoli now!

The bagna cauda sauce on top is genius.

Bagna Cauda translates to Hot Bath in Italian, and is a traditional Piemontese dip for steamed vegetables.

The second time I made this I served it over pasta and it was delicious.
It doesn't need the parmesan cheese as the recipe calls for, it is rich enough, but a nice topping of toasted bread crumbs would convert any broccoli hater into a broccoli lover.

Roasted Bagna Cauda Broccoli (adapted from Food 52):

2 heads of broccoli, cut into florets
2 anchovies
2 garlic cloves, chopped
juice of half a lemon
3 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
splash of white wine or chicken stock
handful of toasted pine nuts or sliced almonds

On a large baking sheet roast the florets with olive oil and kosher salt for 20 minutes, shaking the pan once in between roasting.

While the broccoli is roasting make the sauce.

In a sauce pan, heat the butter, garlic, olive oil and anchovies on medium heat until the anchovies dissolve. Add the lemon juice and a splash of white wine or stock and cook another 3 minutes.

When the broccoli comes out of the oven transfer to a serving bowl and pour anchovy butter sauce over.

You can toast your nuts in the toaster oven or a skillet.
Sprinkle the toasted nuts on top of the broccoli.

It was a great side dish, but I also loved it served over pasta!

Enjoy and eat your broccoli!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Corn Chowder with Shrimp & Bacon: Hold the Cream

I love anything made with corn.
Fritters, salads, soups.........but I was never a chowder fan.

Why? I guess I just don't like to drink all that hot milk mixed in with my soup.
There, I've said it.

I'm not a fan of heavy cream sauces on my pastas (alfredo sauce = gross), and never liked cream of mushroom soup, only because it was always too rich for my blood.

I would rather save all those calories for dessert anyway.

Here is my version of corn chowder. You will never know the dairy is missing.

By blending the corn and rest of ingredients with the immersion blender, it creates a creamy chowder like soup, and the addition of shrimp and bacon make for a nice hearty main course meal.

Corn Chowder w/ Shrimp & Bacon:

~ 1 onion, chopped
~ 1 red bell pepper, diced
~ 2 cloves garlic, chopped
~ 3 slices of bacon, chopped
~ 1 16 oz. bag of frozen corn
~ 1/2 lb. frozen small shrimp
~ 4 cups of chicken stock (Swanson's boxed broth is decent if you don't have homemade broth)
~ dash of cayenne pepper
~ fresh chopped cilantro or chopped basil for garnish

Cook the onion, pepper, garlic, and bacon in a heavy Dutch oven in some olive for a few minutes until onions are translucent.

Add the 4 cups of broth and bring to a boil. Add the frozen corn and reduce the heat and simmer 7 minutes.

Remove some of the solids with some broth to a large bowl and with an immersion blender pulse until combined and creamy.

Add the pureed soup back into the pot and add the shrimp and cook another 2 minutes. You can leave the tails on for a nicer presentation, but it's easier to eat on the spoon without the tails.

Garnish with fresh cilantro or basil leaves and enjoy!

No guilt!