Friday, October 17, 2014

FFWD ~ Roasted Jerusalem Artichokes with Garlic

FFWD ~ Roasted Jerusalem Artichokes with Garlic
One thing I’ve learned, from our recent repertoire of recipes for French Fridays, is “don’t judge a book by its cover”!  This week we are seeing yet one more ugly star of a dish! Jerusalem Artichokes, sometimes called Sunchokes, are in no way attractive! They rival the Celery Root for ugliest veggie!

If you have never heard of the Jerusalem artichoke, you are not alone. When I asked my produce man if he had any, or if he could get some for me, he looked puzzled. Then he told me, he had never heard of such a veggie, and had never seen them offered by their suppliers! OK then!! I decided to get a bit creative, and search the Internet. To my surprise they were selling them on E-Bay! Really?? I truly believe that you can find just about anything on E-bay!

They really were quite good
According to Wikipedia, the Jerusalem Artichoke was first cultivated by Native Americans, long before the arrival of the Europeans. The French explorer, Samuel de Champlain, found domestically grown plants at Cape Cod in 1605.  He then brought the plant back with him to France. The Jerusalem artichoke had become a very common vegetable, for human consumption in Europe and the Americas, by the mid 1600s. The French, in particular, were especially taken with this ugly root vegetable. It reached its peak in popularity by the turn of the 19th century.  The 2002 Nice Festival, for the Heritage of the French Cuisine, chose the Jerusalem artichoke as the “Best Soup Vegetable”.  Who knew?

The recipe that Dorie shares is quite simple.  The worst part of the preparation, was the peeling of these very knobby roots.  Honestly, this is pretty much a non-recipe.  Place chunks of peeled sunchokes into a pie plate with a few tablespoons of olive oil, a few sprigs of rosemary, a few sprigs of thyme, salt and pepper. Then slice several cloves of garlic very thin, and add them to the pan. Roast twenty minutes at 400°, turn and roast another twenty minutes. That’s it! I really enjoyed these! They were different, sweeter and softer than a potato, but quite good. The best part was the roasted sliced garlic. Yum! And did Bill like them?  He didn’t appreciate the sweet taste and texture. I'd like to try them in soup some time, and see why the French chose them as “Best Soup Vegetable”.

Although this has been a month of ugly, for French Fridays, I have enjoyed our adventures in trying new things! Things I would have never tried without Dorie! Happy Friday everyone!

                                                              The ugly sunchoke root looks a bit like ginger root                              file photo
Peeled and ready for the oven
Roasted and ready to eat
I actually enjoyed this new adventure in eating
 My morning visitor

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Pumpkin Scones (Starbucks Copycat)

Starbucks Copycat Pumpkin Scones
Fall has arrived in the northeast! The trees are ablaze with vibrant reds, golds, and yellows; especially beautiful when the sun shines down on them! Travel down most of the country roads in my area, and you will find farm stands filled with beautiful crisp apples, pumpkins, winter squash, gourds and apple cider! Apple picking is in full swing! The sight of golden pumpkins is a sure sign that autumn has arrived! Soon they will be carved and decorated to greet the throngs of trick or treaters, who will be descending upon us for Halloween.  Although they make wonderfully spooky Jack-O-Lanterns, they also add some great flavor to the foods we love to eat. Especially baked goods!

I have a whole repertoire of wonderful pumpkin recipes that I have been saving for years. These scones are one of those fabulous recipes. Have you ever enjoyed the pumpkin scones at Starbucks in the fall? They are one of their seasonal treats!  Heavily spiced, and perfect with your cup of coffee or tea! I love them for breakfast, but they’re pretty wonderful for an afternoon snack, too!

Dripping with deliciousness
If you’ve never made scones before, the secret to a great scone is cold butter. It needs to be cold, so those specks of butter can create steam pockets. That’s what helps your scones rise.
Don’t over mix or over work your dough. A light touch will keep your scones tender. Mix just until all ingredients are combined. If you handle the dough too much, the warmth of your hands will affect the texture of your finished scones.

These were so melt in your mouth luscious….perfect for breakfast, brunch or snack
Go ahead and make some…you know you want one!! 


Pumpkin Scones (Starbucks Copycat)

Yield: 8 scones
Prep Time: 30 min
Cook Time: 15 min
adapted from Todd Wilbur

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼  teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½  teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½  teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ½  teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼  teaspoon salt
  • ½  cup (1 stick) unsalted COLD butter, cut into cubes
  • ½  cup pumpkin puree (not pie filling)
  • 3 tablespoons milk or half and half cream
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup 

    For the spiced glaze
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons milk
Instructions:
  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat; set aside.
  • In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, cloves, ginger, nutmeg, baking soda and salt. Add cold butter, and using a pastry blender work the butter into the dry ingredients until it resembles coarse crumbs. You want to see some very small pieces of the butter.
  • In a large glass measuring cup or another bowl, whisk together pumpkin puree, cream, egg and maple syrup. Pour mixture over dry ingredients and stir using a rubber spatula just until a soft dough forms.
  • Working on a lightly floured surface, knead the dough a few times until it comes together.  With lightly floured hands, pat the dough into a rectangle measuring roughly 7x9.  Using a large knife or a pizza cutter, cut the rectangle in half lengthwise, then cut into 2 even pieces crosswise, making four rectangles. Then cut each each rectangle into two triangles, making 8 triangles. 
  • Place scones onto prepared baking sheet. Place into the oven and bake for 15 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. 
  • To make the spiced glaze, combine confectioners’ sugar, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, nutmeg and milk. Whisk until smooth.
  • When the scones are done, cool for 10 minutes, then drizzle the glaze over each scone, and spread with back of spoon.
  • Allow glaze to set before serving.
  • These scones freeze beautifully.  So save some for later!

Friday, October 10, 2014

FFWD ~ Scallops with Double Carrots

FFWD ~ Scallops with Double Carrots

This week our recipe for French Fridays is...Monkfish with Double Carrots. A recipe I seriously thought of skipping. I have never eaten monkfish, but have seen pictures of them (one ugly fish)! I then thought of one of my all time favorite fish recipes from AMFT.  Remember the skate?  Another not so pretty fish, which was a delicious surprise!

Finding Monkfish, in the grocery stores in my area, proved impossible.  I decided to go with Dorie’s Bonne Idee, and use scallops (much better looking, too). The carrot part of this recipe can be prepared several hours in advance, making this mouthwatering dish, dinner party worthy!! 

A really special dish that you would expect to eat in a four-star restaurant
The carrots are cooked in carrot juice, hence the name double carrots! To begin, peel and slice a pound of carrots and place in a saucepan, where the carrot juice, butter, and rosemary have been brought to a boil. Lower the heat, cover and cook until tender. That folks, is the beginning of this wonderful meal! Who would have thought such humble beginnings, would reap such a pleasurable gourmet dinner? 

Finishing this dish takes less than 15 minutes. Brown bacon on both sides, wipe out the pan, then using 2 teaspoons of the bacon grease and a tablespoon of butter, brown the scallops. About 2 minutes on each side should do it. Dorie suggested serving with mashed celery root or mashed potatoes. I opted for the potatoes, a great choice! This dish was amazing! Bill gave it two thumbs up! This excellent meal is something you would expect to be served in a four star restaurant! Thank you Dorie for another wonderful recipe! Happy Friday everyone!

You can find this recipe in Dorie’s cookbook, "Around My French Table”, or here where it has been published. To see what the other Dorista thought of this dish, check it out here.


We loved this one…a keeper for sure
Totally delicious and dinner party worthy!


Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Sea Salt Caramel Biscotti

 Join the salty caramel craze with this delectable biscotti
Has anyone noticed the salty caramel craze? Everywhere you go, you see it! Salted caramel cookies, pudding, fudge, cupcakes, and my indoctrination into the craze…sea salt caramel gelato! Talenti Gelato, to be exact. If you see it, you have to try it. It’s nirvana! In full disclosure, I’m not getting free Talenti from this post. It’s just the best thing I’ve ever eaten. That’s when my obsession with salted caramel anything started!

Sea Salt Caramel Biscotti
A few years ago we were in Florida, and my cousins were visiting. After having a wonderful dinner, we decided to take a walk, and get some gelato. There is the cutest little gelato shop in the town where we stay! But at five dollars for one small scoop, it’s a bit extravagant!  So, one does what one needs to do, to enjoy those important little things in life! Buy it! 
The next day, while we were in the grocery store, we noticed that you could buy two containers of Talenti Gelato for 5 bucks ON SALE!  Each of us picked a flavor, and brought this wonderful stuff home. My husband and cousins picked flavors like chocolate, pistachio, and butter pecan. I chose Sea Salt Caramel! It intrigued me! I love salty sweet! They all laughed at me, and said it sounded terrible! I didn’t waver…Sea Salt Caramel was what I wanted. When we arrived home, we decided to sample each other’s flavors, and they reluctantly tried mine. That’s when the strangest thing happened…they really loved my Sea Salt Caramel! Mine was gone by the end of the evening, and their containers stayed in the freezer. Fast-forward two years, and you can find salted caramel anything, anywhere! 

Recently, while I was browsing Pinterest, I saw salted caramel biscotti. That’s when it happened! Total inspiration!  I decided to take my favorite biscotti recipe, make some changes to it, and experiment, ending in wonderful sea salt caramel biscotti!  The results were absolutely fabulous!

Caramel bits from Nuts.com  I love this place!
My obsession turned into a delicious treat
Lovely with your coffee
They may become an obsession!



Sea Salt Caramel Biscotti
recipe by Bakeawaywithme

3½ cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼  teaspoon salt
1½ sticks softened, unsalted butter 
1 cup sugar
½ cup packed light brown sugar
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1½ cups caramel bits, mine are from Nut.com. (if you can’t find them you could cut up regular Kraft caramels)
½-¾ cup chopped toasted walnuts
1 egg white, slightly beaten ( for egg wash)
12 oz. bag of chocolate chips
coarse sea salt for sprinkling
  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Line two large baking sheets with parchment or Silpat.
  2. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Whisk to blend.
  3. In bowl of mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar until smooth. Add eggs, and  extract. Beat just until smooth and well blended. Add flour mixture, and beat at lowest speed (or stir by hand) just until dry ingredients are moistened and incorporated. Add caramel bits, and chopped walnuts and mix until they are distributed throughout the dough. 
  4. If the dough is too moist you could add a bit more flour a tablespoon at a time to make it easier to handle. On a lightly floured surface, divide dough into quarters. Then form each quarter into a flattened log about 14 inches long and 2 inches wide, and 1 inch thick. Put two on each baking sheet. Brush with beaten egg white.
  5. Bake logs until lightly browned, about 25 minutes. If baking both trays at once, rotate your pans between oven shelves halfway through baking. Logs should be somewhat firm at the sides and center. Cool logs for 30 minutes, then transfer to a cutting board. Cut each log on a slight angle into 3/4 inch pieces. Keep pieces together as logs are sliced, then slide pieces together to reform logs. Transfer logs to baking sheets, and then separate slices, leaving about 1/2 inch space between each slice.
  6. Bake biscotti again until golden brown, about 16 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool.   
  7. Place chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl, and melt...starting with 1 minute at 50% power, stir and return to the microwave for 30 seconds at 50% power intervals until melted.
  8. Dip the cooled biscotti into the chocolate and set on a parchment lined pan to set. Sprinkle with coarse sea salt while still wet. Then place the pan in the fridge to harden.
  9. Transfer to airtight container. Makes about 6 dozen.

Friday, October 3, 2014

FFWD ~ Celery-Celery Soup


FFWD ~ Celery-Celery Soup

Autumn has finally hit the northeast and, with autumn comes cooler weather. The last few days have not only been cooler, but also damp and rainy. What could be more suitable, to welcome the cooler weather, than a big bowl of soup, served with some crusty bread? 
This week our French Friday recipe is for a comforting, earthy Celery-Celery Soup. It is pureed, and served with a dollop of cream or Crème Fraîche on top. Dorie suggested a bonn idee of adding croutons. I chose to serve mine with warmed Italian bread.

This soup is made with celery stalks and celery root (hence the name celery-celery). Finding celery is never a problem. Finding celery root was a bit of a challenge.  I visited my usual store, where I had no luck.  A short ride to another grocery store, across town, and my luck changed. They had a vegetable bin full of celery root. On the way home, I stopped at a local farm stand, for some fresh apples. I love my local farmers! Dorie suggests a sweeter type of apple, such as Fuji. I settled on Honeycrisp, a wonderfully sweet-crisp apple that worked perfectly in this soup.

Earthy and delicious!

This soup was super easy and straightforward! Chop the onions, celery stalks, and apples. Add salt and pepper, and sauté in a few tablespoons of butter. When soft, add the chicken broth and cubed celery root. Simmer for approximately thirty minutes, or until the celery root is soft. Puree!
This soup had a lovely flavor, but was a bit thin. I prefer thicker, heartier soups. I should have remembered this from previous Dorie soups. Next time, I will cut the broth to four cups, instead of six. The apples added a touch of sweetness, enhancing the intended flavor. In the end, you have a tasty pureed soup, that’s both light and earthy with a touch of sweetness.
Bill and I both enjoyed this soup as a light dinner. Easy, comforting and delicious! It will certainly grace my table again. Happy Friday, everyone!

This recipe can be found in Dorie’s cookbook, “Around My French Table” or here, where Dorie has published it. This post participates with French Fridays with Dorie. To see what the other bloggers thought of this double celery soup, check it out here.

I also want to wish each of my Dorista friends a Happy Anniversary! Four years ago we started this journey together. Who knew back then it would have led to so many wonderful friendships, both real and virtual! Looking forward to what lies ahead!



Everything simmering away
A delightful way to welcome the cooler weather!
 Happy Fall from my neck of the woods to yours!

Friday, September 26, 2014

FFWD ~ Vanilla Vegetable Salad

 FFWD ~ Vanilla Vegetable Salad

This week our French Fridays recipe is for a salad, but it’s really the dressing that’s the star.  The salad itself is several handfuls of greens, a few young carrots, and yellow summer squash. The carrots and squash are shaved with a vegetable peeler, or mandoline into ribbons. Dorie suggests mixed salad greens, I used Arugula, because I love the peppery taste. Easy to assemble! 

The dressing is a mixture of olive oil, fresh lemon juice, and a touch of vanilla, whisked together with a bit of sea salt, and freshly ground pepper. Yes, you read it correctly…vanilla! I am a vanilla lover, and was totally intrigued by this dressing. 
Dorie writes that she first had this salad in a charming little wine bar in Paris. Leave it to the French to come up with such a delightful combination. I think this dressing would work on any light salad. The hint of vanilla was quite lovely. 
Truly delightful and totally enjoyed!
Making the vegetable ribbons sounds fussy, but was really quite easy. Because I was only making one serving, I used my vegetable peeler to make the ribbons. I then placed them in a bowl of ice water to crisp them up, and let them curl a bit.  You could slice the ribbons ahead of time, and keep them in a bowl of ice water in the fridge, until you’re ready to make the salad. 

We are having some beautiful warm days here in New Jersey (summers last hurrah) and Bill is taking advantage of the end of golf season. So this salad was my lunch, served with a few slices of cheese. It was lovely!  I forgot to mention; the carrots are from my garden! Happy Friday everyone!

The recipe can be found in Dorie Greenspan’s cookbook, Around My French Table. If you’d like to see what the other “Doristas” thought of this dish, check it out here. 


 Loved the hint of vanilla in this dressing…lovely!


Carrots from my garden!  Not so pretty, but sweet and delicious!


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Italy Part II ~ The Vatican Museum and a Private Tour of the Sistine Chapel~ Tomato-Ricotta Tart with Almond Pepper Crust

 One of the Mosaic floors in the Vatican Museum

Our last excursion in Rome was an after hours tour of the Vatican museum and Sistine Chapel. Disney did it again!  By arranging an after hours tour, we were able to experience these incredible sites with no crowds. Our Rome guide Christina, shared her exceptional expertise and knowledge, leaving me wishing I had taken an art history class long ago, longing to learn more. The Raphael rooms were exquisite. Much more interesting than I could have imagined! Christina managed to bring their history to life, relating stories of how Raphael created his paintings and, his artistic rivalry with Michelangelo. I was left awed and speechless. When we entered the Sistine Chapel, you could hear an audible gasp followed by silence, as everyone absorbed the magnificent sight of Michelangelo’s most significant work of art!


Laocoon in the Octagon Court
River God
One of the magnificent paintings by Raphael 
Ceiling in the Hall of Maps
 This way to the Sistine Chapel….no photos allowed
Following our evening tour, we were free for dinner.  After a full day of site seeing, we decided to eat in the hotel dining room. My friend Anna, who is from Italy, recommended we try "Bucatini all’Amatriciana” while in Rome. Since she said it’s a "must try” several of us ordered it! It did not disappoint! The Bucatini all’Amatriciana appears on many menus throughout Rome.  It gets its name from the town of Amatrice, about an hour east of Rome. Bucatini is fat spaghetti, with a hollow center. However, it’s the sauce that makes this dish special. The classic sauce gets its punch from the red chili pepper flakes, and black pepper. It consists of just a handful of ingredients, and has a wonderfully spicy flavor. In Italy it is made with thinly sliced guanciale (an Italian cured meat prepared from pork jowl). However, pancetta can be substituted. Delicious! If you’d like to give it a try, you can find a recipe for it at Bon Appetit.

Next up Tuscany!

                                                                              Bucatini all’Amatriciana                                photo by Bon Appetit                























I came home to a garden overflowing with tomatoes! I’ve made a few batches of sauce, frozen several bags of pureed tomatoes, and lastly, but not at all least, I made this wonderful Tomato-Ricotta Tart with Almond and Pepper Crust!

Tomato-Ricotta Tart with Almond & Pepper Crust…ready for the oven
Fresh tomatoes and basil makes this tart delectable
A great way to use up some of those tomatoes
Buon Appetito

Tomato-Ricotta Tart with Almond & Pepper Crust
the crust is adapted from Sweet Paul magazine

Makes one 9 inch tart

Almond and Pepper Crust:
1 cup all­purpose flour
1/4 cup almond flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper (I like my coarse)
1 stick cold butter, in pieces
ice cold water

Filling:
1½ cups fresh ricotta
1 egg
¼ cup basil leaves, chopped

1½ teaspoons of chopped fresh rosemary
salt and pepper
sliced tomatoes

olive oil for drizzling over the tomatoes, and extra basil

For the crust, place regular flour, almond flour, salt, pepper and butter in the bowl of the food processor and pulse till mixture is crumbly and grainy, the consistency of cornmeal. It should be crumbly and grainy,
Add ice water, a little at a time and pulse until the dough holds together.
Wrap the dough in plastic and let rest in the fridge for 1 hour. (You can make it a few days ahead of time, if you want)
Roll it out between two sheets of parchment paper and place in a well greased tart pan.
Prick the bottom with a fork and freeze for 15 minutes.
Bake at 400F for about 10 minutes, until firm and slightly browned.
Cool on a wire rack.
For the filling: In a medium bowl, mix the ricotta, egg, and basil. Season with salt and pepper and spread onto the tart crust.
Place tomatoes on the top of the cheese filling, drizzle with a bit of olive oil and sprinkle with some chopped basil leaves. Place into the oven and bake about 15-20 minutes, or until the cheese mixture seems cooked through. Cool and serve at room temperature.


Sunday, September 21, 2014

FFWD ~ Seared Shrimp with Mango and Avocado

My version of Seared Shrimp with Mango and Avocado for French Fridays
This week, because I’m posting late, I will get right to point! The recipe picked for French Fridays is Tuna and Mango Ceviche. The few things I know about Ceviche are, it's a popular seafood dish in the coastal regions of South America, and it’s made with fresh raw seafood, cured in citrus juice.  I planned on skipping it. Anyone who reads my blog knows, I don’t do raw fish! However, Dorie gave me a great alternative with the Bonn Idee! To sear or not to sear, that was the question. For those squeamish fish eaters, who don’t do sushi, this was my compromise. It was actually a perfect dish to enjoy on our back deck; for one of our last warm days of summer.

An utterly delicious seared shrimp salad
This dish can be put together rather quickly! The vinaigrette is delicious, made with fresh lime juice, rum and olive oil. Then season with a touch of Tabasco, salt and pepper.  After searing the shrimp, they are arranged on a plate with slices of mango and avocado. I plated mine a little differently then Dorie suggests. First, I used some salad greens. In the center I placed about a half cup of cooked Israeli Couscous. I then arranged the mango and avocado around the couscous, and topped it with the seared shrimp. Finally, drizzle on the vinaigrette and serve! Bill’s version was minus the avocado, with sliced tomatoes. Both versions made a truly enjoyable lunch! I’m glad Dorie gave me a choice this week! Both Bill and I savored our mouthwatering lunch.  Happy weekend everyone!

We loved this…the flavors were wonderful together 
A deliciously special lunch on the deck for the last day of Summer 
Bill’s version…greens, couscous, mango and sliced tomatoes…topped with seared shrimp!

On another note, last week was our anniversary. Bill and I spent a few lovely days in NYC. New York is enchanting in the fall! The temperatures were cool, and the air was crisp with the smell of roasting pretzels waifting around us (venders are on almost every street corner) making our walks delightful! One of our days was spent walking the High Line. We then detoured into the West Village, where we had a marvelous lunch at the “Spotted Pig”. This restaurant has been on my radar for several years, ever since I wrote a piece on April Bloomfield, for the 50 Most Influential Women in food. It was definitely worth the wait! 
     
    To make the Tuna-Mango Ceviche the recipe can be found in Dorie’s Cookbook "Around My French Table” or here at Food.com. 
Finally eating at the Spotted Pig…it was worth the wait
Ricotta Gnudi with Basil Pesto….delectable!
These were the best French Fries ever…fried with rosemary and slices of garlic…Bill’s Lunch!