Sunday, January 17, 2010

A Harvest Feast

As promised, I am finally posting the recipes from the most delicious feast I cooked for my friends!
Here is a link to the original posting, with images

1st Course:
Seared Nantucket Bay Scallops
atop a Butternut Squash Puree and an Apple Cider-Maple Reduction (serves 8)

Wine Pairing: Triennes Sainte Fleur Viognier

2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp olive oil
60 Bay Scallops (approx 7 bay scallops per plate)
Salt and pepper
Butternut Squash Puree (below)
Maple – Apple Cider Reduction (below)
Chives for garnish

Heat sauté pan to hot. Reduce heat to medium-high and add butter and oil. Season scallops with salt and pepper. Cook scallops on one end until nicely browned on bottom, approximately a minute or so. Flip on sear on other end. Remove from pan and keep warm.

For plating, place a dollop of warm puree in the center of a plate. Stack scallops, 4 on bottom layer, on puree, and place another scallop atop these. Drizzle reduction on top of scallops and around plate (5 drips). Scatter chives on top and serve.

Apple Cider-Maple Reduction

2 cups apple cider
1/4 c maple syrup

Bring cider and syrup to boil in a small saucepan. Cook until reduced to a syrup. Keep warm for serving.

Butternut Squash Puree

1 large butternut squash (yields approx. 5-6 c puree)
1 1/2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp maple syrup
Salt, to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Slice butternut squash in half vertically and place on foil lined baking sheet, cut side down. Roast in oven until fork tender.

While still warm, scoop out filling into a saucepan. Add butter and maple syrup and stir to combine while heating. Puree with immersion blender and season to taste. Keep warm for serving.

2nd Course:
Creamy Chestnut Soup with Crème Fraiche and Candied Walnuts (serves 8)

4 tbsp butter
3 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp nutmeg
2 14.1 oz cans chestnuts in water
3/4 c carrots, emincer
3/4 c small stalks celery, emincer
3/4 small onion, ciseler
1/4 c port
1 15.3 oz can chestnut puree
32oz plus 2 cups chicken stock
Salt to taste
Crème fraiche
Parsley, hacher
Candied Walnuts (recipe below)

Heat butter in a sauté pan. When melted, add sugar, salt, and nutmeg and stir to combine. Add chestnuts and their liquid. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook until liquid reduced and the chestnuts are beginning to caramelize.

While the chestnuts cook, heat remaining 2 tbsp butter in a stockpot. Add the carrot, celery, and onion and sweat until translucent. Add chestnut mixture to stockpot. Deglaze sauté pan with port and add to stockpot. Add chestnut puree and stock to stockpot. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer on medium-low. Cook for 30 minutes. Puree with an immersion blender until smooth. Test seasoning.

Serve soup in a bowl with a dollop of crème fraiche, topped with a couple of candied walnuts, and a sprinkle of parsley.

Candied Walnuts
from Rachael Ray, Rachael Ray Magazine, December 2009[3]

1 tbsp melted butter
1/4 c sugar
1 egg white
Pinch salt
2 c walnut halves

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Mix melted butter, sugar, egg white, and salt together in bowl. Add walnuts and stir to combine. Pour onto foil lined baking sheet and bake until golden. Let cool part way and crumble. Cool completely

3rd Course:
Roasted Rack of Rhode Island Lamb
with a Fresh Corn Cake and Sautéed Garden Swiss Chard with Cranberries (serves 8)

Wine Pairing - Bordeaux - Chateau Tour Prignac 2005

Rack of Lamb

3 tbsp salt
4 tbsp fresh rosemary leaves
6 cloves garlic
1 c Dijon mustard
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
4 racks of lamb, frenched (2 portions of 3 chops per rack)

In a food processor, process salt, rosemary, and garlic until they are as finely minced as possible. Add the mustard and vinegar and process for a minute.

Place the lamb in a roasting pan or baking sheet with the ribs curving down. Coat the tops of the meat with the mustard. Let stand for 1 hour at room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Roast the lamb for about 20 minutes for rare, 25 minutes for medium rare. Remove from oven and tent with foil while meat rests for approximately 15 minutes (keep in warm area, such as atop the stove). Cut into individual ribs.

Fresh Corn Cake, made with Walker’s Corn and Gray’s Cornmeal

2 1/2 c skim milk
1 1/2 c heavy cream
2 c Gray’s Cornmeal
4 ears of fresh corn, blanched and cut off cobs
4 tbsp butter
Water, if needed
4 oz semi-hard cheese, like Gruyere or Ewephoria
Salt, to taste

Butter a 9x13” baking pan. In a large heavy saucepan, stir together milk, cream, and cornmeal over medium heat. Add fresh corn and butter. Bring to a boil, and reduce to a simmer, cooking for 15-20 minutes, stirring constantly so that it doesn’t stick or burn, until the polenta is thick and the corn and cornmeal are cooked. If the polenta gets too thick, you may add water, a tablespoon at a time. Stir in cheese until incorporated and season to taste. Pour into prepared pan and chill until cold, 2-3 hours.

To serve, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cut 4” rounds of polenta and place on a silpat lined cookie sheet. Bake for 10-15 minutes. Once warmed through, remove from oven and turn on broiler. Broil 4” away from element for 2-3 minutes, or until just golden.

To plate, place corn cake in center of plate. Top with some cranberry chard. Arrange three lamb chops just forward of corn cake, with ribs curving over corn cake and chard.

Sautéed Garden Swiss Chard with Cranberries

3 large bunches Swiss chard, rinsed
3 tbsp olive oil
3/4 c dried cranberries
Salt, to taste.

Roll still-wet rinsed leaves of Swiss chard together and cut into 1/2” ribbons. Heat large sauté pan and add oil. When shimmering, add wet chard. Cook until just wilted. Add dried cranberries and season to taste. Continue cooking until chard is tender and cranberries are warmed through, and water has evaporated.

4th Course:
Soft Gingerbread with a Local Apple Compote and Salted Caramel Sauce (serves 8)

Soft Gingerbread
From Marion Cunningham’s The Breakfast Book

1 c sugar
1 c dark molasses
1 c vegetable oil
3 eggs
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cloves
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
2 c flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 c boiling water
Local Apple Compote (below)
Salted Caramel Sauce (below)
Crème Chantilly (below)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and lightly flour a 8x8” baking pan. Put the sugar, molasses, oil, and eggs in a mixing bowl and cream until smooth. In another bowl, combine the salt, cloves, ginger, cinnamon, flour, and baking soda and stir to combine thoroughly with a fork. Stir dry ingredients into wet ingredients. Add the boiling water and beat well to combine and batter is smooth (it will be thin!). Pour into prepared baking pans and bake for about 40-45 minutes, or until a tester inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Slice slightly warm gingerbread into 2” squares. Serve on a pool of salted caramel sauce with warm apple compote on the side, and a drizzle of caramel and a dollop of crème chantilly on top.

Apple Compote

3 lbs apples, peeled, cored and diced
1/4 c brown sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
1/4 c water

Place cut apples, sugar, lemon juice, and water in a saucepan and cover. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce to low heat and cook covered until apples are tender. Remove top and simmer while stirring until juices evaporate and compote looks like a chunky applesauce. Keep warm for plating dessert.

Salted Caramel Sauce

2 1/4 cups white sugar
1/2 cup water
2/3 cup cream
3 tbsp butter
1/2 c milk
Salt to taste (I used about 3 tsp)

Combine sugar and water in a large (tall sides) saucepan. Do not stir. Cook over medium-high heat to a dark caramel, swirling once the edges begin to brown (this may take 5-10 minutes). Reduce the heat to low when the caramel turns a dark brown shade and you can smell the dark caramel scent. Deglaze with cream (watch out, it will bubble). Add butter and milk. Stir well. Season to taste. Keep warm for serving.

Crème Chantilly

1 c heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp confectioners’ sugar

In a cold bowl, whip together all ingredients to stiff peaks.

A New Twist on a Vegetarian Mainstay

I admit. Not a veggie burger fan at all. I actually cringe when I hear "Boca Burger," or "GardenBurger." Those sad thin patties just look unappetizing. The only time I've remotely expressed interest in a veggie burger is at Houston's (or I guess Hillstone now). It is a grain-based burger with a sweet glaze of sorts. Surprisingly tasty, but I prefer a bit more protein in my burger. Now that I'm playing with focusing more on plants in my diet and less on animal meat, I'm looking for delicious and satiating vegetarian options. This may be my new favorite.

A week ago or so, The New York Times published a series of recipes for vegetarian burgers. One immediately caught my attention: white bean burgers. The creaminess of white beans with some herbs. Between two slices of hearty nutty wheat bread? And hot pepper jelly? Yum! I planned on making this for another vegetarian special at school, only to learn we had no canned white beans and I needed these beans stat...I couldn't wait for the beans to soak and cook overnight. Problem quickly solved: I would swap out white beans for black beans, up the garlic and herbs, and then add a jalapeno-lime-cilantro creme to the mix. Though the recipe makes a very, very moist burger (I used brioche crumbs - fresh - so it didn't soak up much moisture, but the slight sweetness perfectly complimented the herbs and garlic), it can be quickly remedied with panko or normal dry bread crumbs.

Here is my recipe:

2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
salt to taste
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
2/3 c finely grated carrot (or more)
3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 c (or more) finely chopped parsley
2 tsp minced fresh sage or thyme
1/2 c breadcrumbs
1 egg, beaten
salt and pepper to taste
Nutty, hearty whole wheat bread
Hot pepper jelly
Lime-jalapeno-cilantro crema (below)

Heat 1 tsp of olive oil in a medium skillet and add the onion. Cook until translucent. Add a pinch of salt, garlic, and grated carrot. Cook for a minute or two, until fragrant, and the carrot has softened slightly.  Remove from heat.

In a food processor, puree the beans with the lemon juice. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the onion mixture. Add the herbs, bread, and egg. Season to taste. Form into patties, 1/2" to 3/4" in thickness. Set on parchment lined sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Chill for 2 hours.

Heat oil in a large heavy skillet (nonstick is nice). Brown patties, about 4 minutes per side (they should release). Be very careful when you turn them over as they are moist patties. Finish in the oven (350 degrees) for 3-5 minutes. Serve hot on toast with condiments above, or of your choice.

For the lime-jalapeno-cilantro crema, we simply combined jalapenos finely chopped, with chopped cilantro, in a combination of mascarpone and sour cream. I liked the more mascarpone to sour cream ratio (not too sour), and when cut with lime juice and salt and pepper it tasted magical. Smeared on the warm burger, with pepper jelly. Yum.

At a loss for what to make for dinner?

Try this delicious mushroom ragout recipe! It's perfect in a pinch, and even better if you have some delicious fresh wild mushrooms. I used a mixture of cremini, shiitakes, and oyster mushrooms. Pour a glass of a big chardonnay, and curl up by the fire.

I found - and made - this dish as a vegetarian special at school. It was quite easy to make and a treat to eat! It is based on a recipe from Giada deLaurentiis. I tweaked it, making the ragout in advance and cooking it til quite dry. For service, we heated the fettuccine and then separately heated the ragout with some cream. Once both were warm, I added the pasta to the sauce and tossed it with some extra pasta water. I then plated the mixture, and topped it with a hearty amount of fresh parmesan and chopped basil and parsley. Next time I make this, I might even try gruyere and swiss!


1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound mixed mushrooms, chopped
salt and pepper
1/2 marsala
2 c chicken broth
1/3 c heavy cream
5 fresh basil leaves
1/4 c flat leaf parsley, chopped
1/2 to 3/4 c grated parmesan

Heat the oil in a large skillet. When hot, add the onion and garlic. Cook over medium heat until the onions are very translucent (8 min or so). Add the mushrooms and season with salt and pepper. Raise the heat and saute until the mushrooms are tender. Add the marsala to pan with it off the heat. Bring the heat back to the fire and cook til wine has evaporated. Add the chicken stock and simmer for a 1/2 hour until the sauce is reduced by half. Add the heavy cream and mix well. Season to taste and add the fresh parmesan and herbs.

Serve hot with pappardelle, tagliatelle or fettuccine

Sunday, January 3, 2010

A New Year and A Fresh Start!

Happy New Year!

It's been a while since I posted (oops - holiday madness. New Year's resolution to post more regularly? Hmm..), but I've been busy!

Here is a sneak (yummy) peak as to what I've been up to. Stay tuned for more information (and recipes)!

To start: Seared Bay Scallops with Butternut Squash Puree and an Apple Cider-Maple Reduction

And then: A Chestnut Soup with Creme Fraiche, Candied Walnuts, and Parsley

Followed by a Rack of Lamb with a Fresh Corn Cake and Sauteed Swiss Chard with Cranberries

And to finish: Soft Gingerbread with Apple Compote and Salted Caramel Sauce