Fleur de Lis

Fleur de Lis

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Sunday, December 26, 2010

Amuse Bouche - Gruyere Cheese Cube Appetizer

This recipe is from http://www.finedinings.com/

This one was delicious, but a tad difficult to execute.  I would have done much better if I had been preparing more than 4 of these little bites and had lined them all up at one time for a dunk in the deep fat fryer.  But the vinaigrette was delicious and even though this one should have been removed from the hot oil about 5 seconds sooner, it was worth it!

Orange-Herb Vinaigrette

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons orange juice concentrate
1 garlic clove minced
1 1/2 teaspoons dried Rosemary chopped fine
1/4 teaspoon Paprika
pinch of Cayenne pepper
salt to taste

In a small bowl combine ingredients and whisk together.  Strain before using. Make 1 day ahead.
Cheese Cubes
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon flour
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon fine bread crumbs
Gruyere Cheese
2 decorative toothpicks
2 shot glasses

Heat vegetable oil in a small deep saucepan to 380° degrees.

Put flour on a small piece of plastic wrap and bread crumbs on another.  Put egg in a small bowl.  Cut two cubes 1-inch square; completely coat with flour, then egg, then bread crumbs.  Deep fry one minute. Remove from hot oil with a slotted spoon, drain on a paper towel and stick toothpicks in them.

Fill shot glasses with vinaigrette, carefully place cubes over top of shot glass and serve.

Buffalo Chicken Dip and Spinach Artichoke Dip

It's the season for dips, spreads, and munchables!  We had a nice Christmas Eve meal at my parents and then the (adult) kids came back to our house to spend the night.  They love to get together and play cards and games and we had some nice nibbles prepared for them to enjoy.

First up:  Buffalo Chicken Dip.  When you want the flavor of hot wings but the ease of a dip, this is the one.  Adjust the heat accordingly and serve with celery sticks and Chicken Biscuit Crackers.

2 (10 ounce) cans chunk chicken, drained
2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup Ranch dressing
3/4 - 1 cup hot sauce (I use Louisiana brand)
1 1/2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese

1 bunch celery, cleaned and cut into 4 inch pieces
1 (8 ounce) box chicken-flavored crackers

Heat chicken and hot sauce in a skillet over medium heat, until heated through.  Stir in cream cheese and ranch dressing.  Cook, stirring until well blended and warm.  Mix in half of the shredded cheese, and transfer the mixture to a slow cooker. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top, cover, and cook on Low setting until hot and bubbly.  Serve with celery sticks and crackers.   OR you can place into a greased casserole dish and heat at 350 degrees until it's hot and bubbling.

Spinach Artichoke Dip
You've probably enjoyed the cold version of spinach dip made with the soup mix and served in a bread bowl.  This one takes a different route and is made without mayo and is served hot.  I love both versions, but this one is perhaps better during cold weather.
1 (14 ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained
1/2 cup grated Romano cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1 (10 ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup sour cream
1 - 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees  Grease a 9x13 inch baking dish.

In a blender or food processor, place artichoke hearts, Romano cheese, Parmesan cheese and garlic.  Pulse until chopped, but not ground.  Set aside.

In a medium bowl, mix together spinach, heavy cream, sour cream and mozzarella cheese.  Stir in artichoke mixture.  Spoon into prepared baking dish.

Bake in the preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until cheese is melted and bubbly.  Top with chopped tomatoes or additional sour cream if desired.  Serve with tortilla chips.

both of these recipes were adapted from recipes found at www.allrecipes.com 

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Sloppy Joses with Chipotle Cheddar Cheese

I decided it was time to put a little zip into the regular Sloppy Joe routine.  As always, adjust the seasonings to your taste. 

1 rib celery cut into chunks
2 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
4 garlic cloves
2 onions, peeled and cut into chunks
1 jalapeno, top removed
6 slices bacon
2 T. vegetable oil
1 T. dark brown sugar
1 can Rotel tomatoes + 1 can water
1 6 oz. can of tomato paste (with roasted garlic)
3 T. Lea and Perrins
1 T. ground cumin
1 t. ancho chili powder
1 t. chipotle powder
2 T. hot sauce
1 pound ground chuck
S and P
Rolls for serving
Chipotle Cheddar Cheese slices

Put the celery, carrots, garlic, onions, jalapeno and bacon into a food processor and let it convert all these veggies and bacon into a nice orange slush.

Heat the vegetable oil in a deep Dutch oven and add the processed veggies and bacon.  Cook for 15 - 20 minutes until the veggies are softened.

While they're simmering away, mix together the tomatoes, water, tomato paste and Worcestershire sauce.  Set aside.

Add the spices and hot sauce into the veggie mixture and then add the ground chuck, breaking it up with a spoon.  Cook until the meat is no longer pink.  Add the reserved liquid ingredients and bring to a boil.  Reduce to simmer, cover and let cook for 20 - 25 minutes.  Adjust seasonings.

Slice the rolls, spoon on the Sloppy Jose mixture and top with cheese. 

Hasselback Potatoes

Not only are these potatoes delicious, they're just fun to make.  They were first introduced in the 1700's by a restaurant located in Stockholm named Hasselbacken.  They cook up nice and crispy on the outside and tender on the inside.  There are so many variations:  bacon bits, different cheeses, basil, etc. 

Yukon Gold potatoes (however many you want to cook based on how many you'll be feeding.  Trust me on this one:  Cook extra.)
Olive Oil
Garlic Powder
Parmesan Cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Scrub the potatoes. Place two wooden spoons on a cutting surface.  Place one potato at a time between the spoons. Make slits/cuts cut in the potato almost all the way through. The handles of the spoons will assure that each slice is the same depth. Repeat with remaining potatoes.

Brush olive oil and butter over the potatoes. Over each potato, sprinkle with garlic powder, salt and pepper.

Arrange the potatoes on the baking sheet and place in the oven for 40-50 minutes or until the potatoes turn crispy and the inside is soft. Baste the potatoes with olive oil halfway through the bake time to make them extra crispy.

Remove from oven and gently spread the slices apart just a little bit. Add a little more butter if you like and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and a little smoked paprika.

Apple Cinnamon Fritters

These little beauties made for an awesome Saturday morning before Christmas Breakfast. I made a few adjustments to The Pioneer Woman's recipe. I also need to make sure I buy a small scoop before I attempt these again.  The drop them off the teaspoon trick made for some weird shaped fritters!

2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 1/2 t. baking powder
1 t. salt
2 t. ground cinnamon
1/2 t. ground allspice
1/4 t. ground nutmeg
2 large eggs
3/4 cup whole milk
2 t. vanilla extract
2 T. melted butter
2 whole Granny Smith apples, peeled and diced
Powdered Sugar for dusting

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and spices.

In a separate bowl, beat the eggs with a fork, then add the milk, melted butter and vanilla. Gently fold dry and wet ingredients together until just combined. Gently fold in the apples.

Heat a couple of inches of canola oil over medium to medium high heat.  When it gets hot, test a little drop of batter into the oil.  If it sizzles immediately and rises to the top, the oil is ready.  If it burns quickly, lower the heat.

Drop by rounded spoonfuls (small size!) into the hot oil. You don't want them too large or the apples won't have time to cook before the batter is done. The fritters will rise to the top and most (if not all) will turn over themselves. It's kinda cool to watch.

Drain on paper towels while you fry up the next batch.  When complete, give them a dusting of powdered sugar. 

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Croque-Monsieur (Grilled Ham and Cheese)

Impress your family and friends with this Ritzy sounding grilled ham and cheese sandwich.  I used a loaf of French bread instead of the usual white sandwich bread.  These are fun to make and even more fun to devour!
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
4 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened
6 slices white bread
6 slices Swiss cheese
12 slices thinly sliced deli ham
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Use 2 tablespoons of the butter to spread over one side of each slice of bread.  On three of the slices, spread a layer of Dijon mustard over the butter, and top each with 4 slices of ham.  On the other three, spread mayonnaise, and top each one with 2 slices of Swiss cheese.  Press ham and cheese sides of sandwiches together.

In a flat bottomed dish, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, eggs, and water until blended. Set aside.  Heat remaining butter and vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Dip both sides of each sandwich in the egg mixture, and fry in the oil and butter until browned, flipping to brown on each side.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Brunswick Stew

The sleet began today around noon. A perfect day to cook a pot of Brunswick Stew. This recipe is an original Lolly. Feel free to adjust the seasonings according to your taste. I love vinegar based BBQ sauces. I crave mustard. I adore vinegar. This stew incorporates all three.

If you like sweet or smoky BBQ sauces, adjust the mustard/vinegar ratio or omit them completely. The chicken and pork I used was saved from some of the results of Sweet Harold's wonderful smoker from this past summer. He shredded leftover pork and chicken and put it in the freezer for an afternoon exactly like this one. Leftover BBQ from your favorite "joint" will work splendidly.

This stew nourished the soul as well as the body today.

2 quarts whole tomatoes
1 T. Olive oil
1 T. butter
2 medium onions, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
16 oz. BBQ Sauce (Cattleman's Carolina Sauce is what I used)
8 cups shredded smoked pork or chicken or a mixture of both
2 cups lima beans
2 cups corn kernels
3 cups peeled, diced potatoes
1/2 t. liquid smoke
1 t. apple cider vinegar
3 t. yellow mustard

Place tomatoes in a large Dutch oven. Heat over medium high heat, breaking them up with a wooden spoon. In a separate skillet, melt olive oil with butter and saute onions and garlic until softened.

Add them to the tomatoes and add remaining ingredients. Cook for 20 - 30 minutes over medium heat, stirring frequently until potatoes are tender. Adjust seasonings. Serve with cornbread.

Roman Chicken with Roasted Potatoes & Asparagus

Here's a nice chicken dish from Giada De Laurentiis.  Any time a recipe calls for onions, peppers, garlic and tomatoes, it has my attention.  This one smells wonderful while cooking and tastes even better.  Surprise your family during the Holiday Season with this meal.  They'll love you. 

4 skinless chicken breast halves, with ribs
2 skinless chicken thighs, with bones
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus 1 teaspoon
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus 1 teaspoon
1/4 cup olive oil
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 yellow bell pepper, sliced
3 ounces prosciutto, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup white wine
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon fresh oregano leaves
1/2 cup chicken stock
2 tablespoons capers
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves

Season the chicken with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.  In a heavy, large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  When the oil is hot, cook the chicken until browned on both sides.  Remove from the pan and set aside.

Keeping the same pan over medium heat, add the peppers and prosciutto and cook until the peppers have browned and the prosciutto is crisp, about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.  Add the tomatoes, wine, and herbs.  Using a wooden spoon, scrape the browned bits off the bottom of the pan.  Return the chicken to the pan, add the stock, and bring the mixture to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the chicken is cooked through, about 20 to 30 minutes. If serving immediately, add the capers and the parsley.  Stir to combine and serve.  If making ahead of time, transfer the chicken and sauce to a storage container, cool, and refrigerate.  The next day, reheat the chicken to a simmer over medium heat.  Stir in the capers and the parsley and serve.

Roasted Potatoes
2 pounds new potatoes (white, red, or Yukon gold), scrubbed and halved
1 pound cippolini onions, peeled (or use the little pearl onions that you can find sometimes in the freezer section)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons dried rosemary
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  In a large bowl, toss together all of the ingredients. Spread the mixture in a single layer on a baking sheet.  Bake until the potatoes and onions are golden brown and cooked through, about 40 minutes.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Turkey and Wild Rice Soup

The low last night was 14 degrees.  Today's high didn't get much higher than 37.  Tonight called for soup.  Remember the turkey breast that Sweet Harold smoked at Thanksgiving?  Three cups of it have been cubed and sitting in the freezer just waiting to be turned into a comforting pot of soup.

2 T. butter
1 t. salt, divided
1 cup uncooked wild rice
4 bacon slices
1 medium onion, chopped (2 cups)
3 celery ribs, chopped (1 1/2 cups)
2 large garlic cloves, minced
6 cups chicken broth
1/4 t. freshly ground black pepper
3 cups chopped cooked turkey
1 cup heavy cream
2 T. chopped fresh parsley

Bring 4 cups water, water and 1/2 t. salt to a boil in a large saucepan.  Stir in rice.  Return to a boil; reduce heat, cover and cook 55 minutes or until rice is tender.  Drain, if necessary and set aside.

Meanwhile, cook bacon in a large Dutch oven oer medium-high heat 6 to 7 minutes or until crisp; remove bacon, and drain on paper towels, reserving drippings in skillet.  Crumble bacon.

Saute onion, celery and garlic in hot drippings until tender.  Stir in remaining 1/2 t. salt, broth, black pepper and turkey.  Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes or until thoroughly heated.  Stir in rice, bacon and cream.  cook over medium heat 15 minutes or until slightly thickened.  Stir in parsley.

Thanks for 2010 Christmas with Southern Living

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Chipotle Pumpkin Black Bean Turkey Enchiladas

What happens when you have leftover chipotle pumpkin soup, black beans and smoked turkey?  Well, my brain turned those ingredients into enchiladas.  These are amazing.  Please please try the soup recipe which I posted right before this one.  Get a can or two or black beans or cook your own...add a few other tasty ingredients and voila!

Here we go.

Start with the leftover pumpkin soup:

Get your black beans:

In a large skillet, heat these two together along with a can of Rotel tomatoes, and your shredded smoked turkey:

Add whichever variation of shredded cheese you want.  I used 4 blend Mexican:

Heat through and then add a few spoonfuls to a flour tortilla:

Roll them up tightly and place seam side down in a greased 13 x 9 casserole dish:

Ladle a little more of the pumpkin soup and more cheese:

Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.  Remove foil and cook 10 more minutes.

Top with sour cream and a sprinkling of pumpkin seeds.

Chipotle Pumpkin Soup

I seriously should have posted this one before November disappeared, but things have been busy!  Thanks to http://www.simplyrecipes.com/.

2 T. olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1t. ground cumin
1t. chipotle powder
4 cups chicken stock
4 15 oz. cans canned pumpkin
1 t. dried oregano
2 t. salt, more to taste
2 T. lime juice

Mix all ingredients in a large Dutch oven.  Gently heat all ingredients through.  Check seasonings and top with the following garnishes if desired:
toasted, shelled pumpkin seeds
sour cream or creme fresca

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Cranberry Fruit Conserve

Call me crazy, but I'm not a fan of cranberry sauce that's plopped out onto a saucer or plate with the signature lines showing for all the world to see. Take about 30 minutes and have an awesome side dish of cranberries, fruit and nuts. Your guests will thank you.

1 (12 oz.) bag of fresh cranberries, cleaned
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and chopped
grated zest and juice of 1 orange
grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
3/4 cup raisins
3/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Cook the cranberries, sugar and 1 cup of water in a saucepan over low heat for about 5 minutes or until the skins pop open. Add the apple, zest and juices and cook for 15 more minutes. Remove from the heat and add the raisins and nuts.  Let cool and serve chilled.

Pumpkin Pie Dip

This recipe is from http://www.tablespoon.com/.  This was the perfect light snack for the Thanksgiving Crowd while waiting on the turkey and dressing.

1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup sour cream
1 t. ground cinnamon
2 t. pumpkin pie spice
1/2 t. ground ginger
1 cup frozen whipped cream, thawed
gingersnap cookies, apples or cinnamon graham crackers

In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and powdered sugar until smooth.  Add in pumpkin, sour cream and spices.  Mix well.  Fold in the thawed whipped cream. 

Serve with green apples, graham cracker snacks or gingersnaps.  Store in refrigerator.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Post Thanksgiving Turkey & Sausage Gumbo

Okey Dokey...you've spent all afternoon making the turkey stock. Now it's time to get the gumbo going!

1 pound smoked sausage, sliced into 1/4 inch half moons (I used Conecuh)
vegetable oil
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 large onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
3 or 4 cloves garlic, chopped
3 quarts of your homemade turkey stock
1 t. salt
1 t. ground black pepper
1/4 t. Tabasco
1/4 t. dried thyme
1 T. Creole seasoning
1/2 - 3/4 pound leftover turkey (either roasted or smoked)
heaping 1/2 cup chopped green onions
heaping 1/2 cup minced parsley
hot cooked rice
file' powder

Place the sausage and 1 T. oil in  large Dutch oven and brown over high heat. 

When browned, remove the sausage to a paper towel-lined plate. 

Pour the remaining fat into a measuring cup, then add sufficient vegetable oil to make 1/2 cup. Pour the fat and the oil mixture back into the Dutch oven and reduce the heat to low. Reserve the sausage.

Add the flour and stir constantly over low to medium heat to make a dark roux -- preferably a chocolate colored one, which will take about 40 minutes on low heat or 20 minutes over high heat.

Add the onions, bell pepper, celery and garlic to the roux and continue stirring until the onions are translucent and have begun to brown.

Heat the turkey stock to a boil and slowly add the roux/vegetable mixture, whisking to incorporate. Add the salt, pepper, Tabasco, thyme and Creole seasoning.

Return to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.  Simmer for one hour. 

Add the turkey and the sausage.  Simmer for another hour.

Add the green onions and the parsley and heat through about 5 minutes. Serve with hot rice and file' powder.

from Louisiana Cookin' December 2010

Making Turkey Stock

When you have finished the Thanksgiving Turkey, PLEASE don't throw the turkey carcass in the trash can.  You are about to venture on a wonderful adventure if you keep it.  Let's make turkey stock!

You'll need:
8 quarts cold water
1 turkey carcass, meat removed, leaving some crisp skin if possible

Mirepoix is the French name for a combination of onions, carrots, and celery. Mirepoix, either raw, roasted or sautéed with butter, is the flavor base for a wide number of dishes, such as stocks, soups, stews and sauces. The three ingredients are commonly referred to as aromatics.

For the Mirepoix:
8 ounces onions, chopped
4 ounces celery with tops, chopped
4 ounces carrots, chopped
2 small heads garlic, cut in half horizontally

The Sachet d'spices:
1 t. or so black peppercorns, cracked
6 - 8 parsley stems, chopped
1 bay leaf
1/4 t. dried thyme leaves
1/4 t. dried tarragon leaves
1/4 t. dried oregano leaves
1/4 t. dried basil leaves
These ingredients are placed into a 4" square of cheesecloth and tied or use a metal tea ball.

Break up the turkey carcass, and chop some of the larger bones in half.  Put the carcass in the stockpot with the water and bring slowly to simmer.  Periodically skim off any scum that forms, and if you wish use a skimmer to skim off the fat.  Let this simmer for two hours.  You will be delighted at how wonderful your house smells!

Add the mirepox and sachet.  Simmer for one more hour.

Remember that during the simmering process, it's best not to stir the stock.  The end result will be much clearer if it is not agitated while simmering.

Strain thoroughly.  The best way is to ladle the stock out and pour it through a strainer which has been lined with a couple of layers of damp cheesecloth.  If you're using the stock immediately, skim off as much fat as you can with a fat skimmer or a piece of paper towel.  Otherwise, cool the stock right away by placing the container into an ice-water filled sink, stirring to bring the hot liquid from the center to the sides of the container.  Don't just put the hot stock into the refrigerator; it won't cool enough to prevent possible multiplication of harmful bacteria.  To defat the stock easily, refrigerate overnight, until the fat solidifies on the surface, then skim off.

Thanks to http://www.gumbopages.com/

Friday, November 26, 2010

Broccoli-Cauliflower Salad with Dried Cranberries and Pistachios

This was a new item on our traditional Thanksgiving Menu list and I have a feeling that it will be requested in the future. I used pumpkin seeds instead of pistachios, but feel free to choose whichever you want to use. I would think pecans or walnuts would be great as well.

6 bacon slices
1 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sugar
2 T. red wine vinegar
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper
3 cups coarsely chopped broccoli florets
2 cups coarsely chopped cauliflower
1 cup sweetened dried cranberries (I used Craisins)
1/2 cup chopped pistachos (I used 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds)

Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium high heat 6 - 7 minutes or until crisp. Remove bacon and drain on paper towels. Crumble bacon.

Meanwhile, combine mayonnaise and next four ingredients in a large bowl, stirring until well blended. Add bacon, broccoli, and remaining ingredients. Toss until vegetables are coated.

from 2010 Christmas with Southern Living

Spinach Madeline

This traditional Louisiana recipe was first presented in River Road's cookbook from the Junior League of Baton Rouge.  

This version is from http://www.jfolse.com/

2 pkgs. frozen chopped spinach
4 T. butter
2 T. flour
2 T. chopped onion
½ cup evaporated milk
½ cup vegetable liquor
6 ounces Velveeta Mexican Hot Cheese, cubed into small pieces
3/4 t. celery salt
3/4 t. garlic salt
1 t. Worcestershire sauce
¼ t. fresh ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
coarse salt to taste

Cook spinach according to package directions.  Drain and reserve liquor.

In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add flour, stirring until blended and smooth, but not browned.  Add onions and saute' 3-5 minutes or until wilted.  Add evaporated milk, spinach liquor and Worcestershire sauce slowly, stirring constantly to avoid lumps.  Cook mixture until smooth and thick, stirring constantly.  Add seasoning and cubed cheese.  Stir until melted and combine with cooked spinach. 

This may be served immediately or put into a casserole and topped with buttered bread crumbs.  The flavor is improved if the latter is done and kept in refrigerator overnight. 

Thanksgiving Tables

Here's a peek at our Thanksgiving tables.

Butternut Squash Gratin with Onion and Sage

I only recently became a fan of butternut squash. My mother never liked pumpkin, autumn squashes, etc. so therefore, she never cooked them. I love the beautiful orange color and because I'm trying to include more dark green and orange veggies in our meals, this made the short list on the Thanksgiving menu this year.  Compliments of http://www.cooking.com/

1 T butter, more for the gratin dish
1 T olive oil
2 large onions, chopped into 1 inch dice (about 4 cups)
3 T. chopped fresh sage or 1 T. dried
3 pounds butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes (about 8 cups)
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup plus 2 T. heavy cream, heated until warm
1 cup fresh bread crumbs
1 1/2 T melted butter

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly coat a gratin dish with butter. In a large skillet over low heat, melt the butter with the oil. Add the onions and the sage. Cover and cook over low heat while you prepare the squash.

Put the squash in a steaming basket and set over simmering water. Cover and let steam until the squash is tender, about 10 minutes. Put the squash in the prepared dish with the garlic and 3/4 t. salt. Toss gently to combine.

Continue to cook the onions, stirring frequently until they caramelize, about 25 minutes total. Season with salt and pepper and add them to the gratin dish, mixing them with the squash. Pour the warm cream over the vegetables. Toss the breadcrumbs with the melted butter and sprinkle the crumbs evenly over the gratin. Bake until the top is browned and bubbling; about 40 minutes.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Ham & Mozzarella Frittata

I've never had the patience to learn how to make a proper omelet.  Maybe one day.  But I love a frittata.  They are so much fun to make.  You can add whatever you want to the eggs:  mushrooms, onions, peppers, ham, bacon, any variety of cheese.  No stirring once it hits the pan.  You just let the heat do the work.  Top of the stove for half the cooking, then under the broiler to finish the other half.  One of the best things to whip up on a hurried, harried night after work when everybody's hungry.

6 eggs
4 ounces of chopped ham
4 ounces mozzarella cheese
1 T. chopped parsley or basil
1 T. Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste
1 T. butter

Turn on the broiler to heat.  Beat the eggs in a bowl, then add the chopped or diced ham and mozzarella.  Whisk in the parsley or basil.   Then add the Parmesan and salt and pepper.

Heat the butter in a large skillet (make sure it has an oven safe handle!) or a cast iron skillet.  Once the butter foams, add the omelet mixture.

Cook for about 5 minutes over a low to medium heat.  DON'T STIR!  Let the frittata begin to set and start to turn golden around the edges.

Now under the broiler until the top is all browned and bubbly and set on top.  Don't take your eyes off it at this point.  It can go from golden brown and yummy to inedible in a second!  Remove the skillet from the oven.

Let stand for a couple of minutes and then a thin spatula around the edges of the frittata.  Now, slide the frittata out of the skillet, keeping it top side up onto a cutting board or plate.

Slice and serve!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Egg and Bacon Salad

Nigella delivers again big time with this recipe.  It's always amazing to me when you can combine such simple ingredients to have a super fast supper which tastes so good.  If you don't boil eggs the way she suggests, please give her method a try.  No rubbery, green-tinged yolks here, just silky smoothness. 

4 eggs
1 head escarole or frisee or other bitter leaves of choice
1 teaspoon garlic oil
14 slices smoked bacon, cut into chunks
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
4 teaspoons cider vinegar
Dash Worcestershire sauce
Small bunch flat-leaf parsley, leaves chopped

Put the eggs into a saucepan of water, over medium heat. Bring to boil, and cook for 1 minute, then turn off the heat and let the eggs sit in the pan for 10 minutes.

Transfer the eggs to a bowl of cold water and let cool. Peel the eggs once they feel cool to the touch.

Cook's Note: I cook my eggs this way, as I love the yolks to be only just or rather almost hard-boiled, with the memory of oozy goldenness still evident at the centre; it also keeps the white amazingly silky. If, however you prefer a proper, good and bouncy reassuringly hard-boiled egg, cooked until the yolks are powdery and compact, keep the heat on under the pan for 10 minutes. The same applies, if you're making this for anyone with a compromised immune system, such as the old and frail, very young or pregnant women.

Meanwhile, tear the salad leaves into bite-sized pieces and drop them into a serving bowl.

Heat the garlic oil in a small frying pan, over medium heat and fry the bacon until crisp, about 5 minutes or so. Transfer the bacon with a slotted spatula to some paper towels to drain, while you make the dressing.

Add the Dijon mustard to the bacon juices in the pan and whisk to combine, then add the vinegar and a dash of Worcestershire sauce. Whisk again, then pour it over the salad leaves, tossing to mix.

Add the bacon and toss again, then quarter the eggs and add them along with the chopped parsley. Gently mix to combine, trying not to break up the eggs.