Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Root Vegetable, Mushroom and Bread Dressing

I love experimenting with different vegetables in dressings and stuffings...spinach, celery, mushrooms, etc...in this one I add celery root and carrots.

8 Tbl butter ( one stick)
1  1/2 cups diced onion
1 cup peeled grated celery root
1 large carrot grated
2 cups chopped button mushrooms
1/2 tsp ground thyme
1 tsp ground sage
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 cup chopped parsley
6 cups sturdy bread cubes(cut about one inch) which have been set out to dry
1 to 2 cups chicken broth
2 beaten eggs

In a nice size pot, saute the onion, celery root, carrot and mushrooms in the butter until everything softens.  Stir in the thyme, sage salt and pepper.
Add the parsley and then the bread cubes.  Stir.
Start by stirring in one cup of the broth, adding more if the dressing seems dry.
Take off the heat, cool a bit and then stir in the beaten eggs. (the mixture will be a little goopy)
Pour the mixture into a 9 x 11 or 10 inch round buttered baking dish.
Cover and bake for 40 minutes at 350F.  Uncover and bake for 10 to 15 minutes more at 400F.
Note: Can be made ahead but you may need to add a little more broth before covering and reheating. 

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Potato Mash with Leek Confit and Bacon

I love leek, potato and bacon in soups and decided to make a little casserole using those ingredients.  The leek confit is a Molly Wizenburg recipe but with bacon fat substituted for butter.

Makes 4 servings

For the leek confit:
4 leeks, white and pale green parts only, quartered lengthwise and the cut crosswise in quarter inch pieces.
2 Tbl bacon fat
1/4 cup water
1/2 tsp salt
In a medium sauce pan with a lid, melt the bacon fat, add the leeks, water and salt and cook covered on medium low heat for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring frequently.  Remove the lid and cook a few more minutes until most of the liquid has evaporated.  Set aside.

For the casserole:
3 strips bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
5 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes
Chicken broth to cover the potatoes in a medium sauce pan
1/4 cup light cream (or a little more if necessary)
2 Tbl bacon fat
1 Tbl butter
1/4 tsp white pepper
The leek confit

Boil the potatoes in the chicken broth until fork tender.  Drain, reserving about 1/4 cup of the broth.
Mash the potatoes (I put them through a ricer)
W arm the cream, broth, butter, white pepper and bacon fat and mix into the potatoes.  Add more cream if the mixture seems dry.
Stir in 3 Tbl of the leek confit and spread the mixture into a buttered small shallow baking dish. ( about 9 x 11 inches)
Top with the remaining leek confit and bake for about 40 minutes in a 325F pre heated oven,  uncovered.(You can prepare up to this point early in the day and bake later)
Once out of the oven, sprinkle with the crumbled bacon and serve.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Mushroom Onion Burger

Here's another topping for a burger...mushrooms and onions...just add your favorite cheese and condiments....I like provolone and Dijon mustard and you're set to go!

3 Tbl butter
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
8 ounces sliced mushrooms of your choice
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

In a large saute pan, melt the butter , add the onions and saute on medium low heat until the onions just begin to caramelize a bit.  Add the sliced mushrooms, raise the heat and continue to saute until the mushrooms are softened and start to brown a bit.  Stir in the salt and pepper.  Makes enough for 4 to 6 burgers.

Monday, September 19, 2011


Did you buy more parsley than you needed?  Or do you have a lot growing in your garden that you'll never use before the weather destroys it?  Freeze that extra..make sure it's dry and place it in a freezer bag, getting as much air out as possible.  Granted, it won't be something you use as a garnish, but for soups, stews and sauces it's perfect! And if you grew basil, don't forget to make those basil cubes I talked about way back when.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Fresh Pears and Frico

Yep.. it's definitely pear week around here, but they're in season so we must enjoy.  This is a simple 3 ingredient appetizer that's easy to make.

2 cups finely grated Parmesan
1 large Bartlett pear cut into a fine dice
2 tsp honey

On a silicone lined baking sheet or sheets place 2 Tbl cheese about 2 inches apart.  Flatten the cheese a bit to form circles about 3 inches.
Bake at 350F for 4 to 6 minutes until the edges of each round are barely browned.  Remove from the oven and cool slightly.
Using a thin bladed spatula, place each round over the underside of an upside down mini muffin pan (or you can use shot glasses). Press to mold it around and the blot any excess oil that may form with a paper towel.
Let the frico cups cool.  In the meantime, mix the honey with the diced pear.
Divide the pear among the cups and serve immediately.
Makes 10 to 12 frico cups

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Fall Pear and Potato Gratin

This is a nice savory side with a hint of sweetness from the pears...great for a fall evening!

1 large onion, very thinly sliced
2 Tbl butter
4 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, very thinly sliced and simmered in water for 5 minutes, drained and patted dry
2 Bartlett pears, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
1 cup half and half or light cream
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp white pepper
5 or 6 gratings nutmeg
1  1/2 cups finely grated Swiss cheese (I used Gruyere) divided

In a large saute pan, saute the sliced onion in the 2 Tbl butter until lightly caramelized ( about 10 minutes over medium heat ). Set aside
In a small sauce pan, heat the half and half to simmering and reduce by about 1/3.  Add the salt, white pepper and nutmeg.  Off the heat stir in 1/2 cup of the cheese.
In a well buttered baking dish (I used a 9 x 11 x 2 inch oval), layer 1/3 of the potatoes, slightly overlapping.  Layer 1/2 of the pears over the potatoes.
Sprinkle the caramelized onions over the pear layer and then layer the second third of the potatoes followed by the rest of the pears.  Layer the remaining potatoes over the top.
Pour the cream and cheese mixture over the casserole followed by the remaining cup of cheese.
Bake, covered, at 350F for 1  1/2 hours.  Uncover and continue to bake 15 to 20 minutes more.

Makes 4 to 6 servings

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Pear and Bean Bake

These are great with ribs, pork chops, ham or any BBQ food.  Makes about 4 to 6 side servings.

1/2 pound dried northern white beans, soaked overnight in water to cover
3 strips bacon
1 cup diced onion
2 medium Bartlett pears, peeled cored and diced about 3/4 inch
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dry mustard powder
1/2 cup ketchup

Drain the soaked beans and then simmer them in water for about 45 minutes or until tender.  Drain, reserving about one cup of the bean likker.
Cook the bacon strips until crisp.  Reserve 2 Tbl of the rendered fat.  Crumble the bacon.
In a nice size saute pan, cook the onions in the reserved bacon fat until soft.  Add the pears, ginger, salt and mustard and saute another minute.
Stir in the cooked beans, ketchup, brown sugar and 1/2 cup of the reserved bean likker.
Transfer the mixture to a shallow baking dish and cover.
Bake at 325F covered for 1 hour 15 minutes.  Check if the casserole needs a little more liquid.  Uncover and bake 15 to 20 minutes more.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Summertime Chili Spaghetti

We eat a lot of chili in the winter...in a bowl as is, with macaroni added and sometimes served over spaghetti like a 5 way.  For this one I lightened it up by omitting the meat and using roasted cherry tomatoes instead of the winter time canned.

1  1/2 pounds assorted cherry tomatoes
1 medium poblano pepper, seeded and cut into 8 relatively square pieces
1 medium onion, cut into pieces about the same size as the poblano
4 Tbl olive oil, divided ( 1 & 3 )
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely diced
3 cloves minced garlic
1 Tbl ancho chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp salt
2 cups cooked or one 15 ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
10 to 12 ounces dry spaghetti
Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling on the pasta
Shredded jack or cheddar cheese for garnish (or both)
Sliced green onion for garnish
Sour cream for garnish

Roll the cherry tomatoes in 1 Tbl of the olive oil and roast in a pre-heated 400F oven for about 15 minutes.  Set aside to cool.
Broil the onion and poblano (skin side up) for about 5 minutes or until the pepper pieces begin to blister a bit.  Let cool.
Place all but one cup of the smallest tomatoes in the bowl of a food processor along with all of the onion and 2 pieces of the poblano.  Process until not quite smooth but a little rustic.
Finely dice the remaining poblano pieces and in a large saute pan, saute the poblano, jalapeno and minced garlic in the remaining 3 Tbl olive oil until the garlic becomes fragrant
Stir in the chili powder and cumin and add the tomato mixture and salt.  Simmer for about 8 minutes.
Add the beans and the reserved cup of roasted tomatoes.  bring up to the heat after cooking the spaghetti per package directions.  Save a little pasta water if you want to loosen the sauce a bit.
Place 1/4 of the pasta on a plate or in a bowl, drizzle with a little olive oil, ladle some chili over and garnish with the cheese, green onion and sour cream.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Little Spinach Pinwheels

A nice appetizer that is best warm and can be made ahead before baking and frozen until ready to use...just thaw a bit before slicing.

Makes about 20 pinwheels:
9 ounces fresh baby spinach leaves
1/4 cup finely sliced pepperoni from slices
3 Tbl mayo
3 ounces softened cream cheese
1/2 cup grated Asiago cheese
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1 sheet thawed puff pastry from a 17.3 ounce package
1 egg beaten with 3 Tbl water

Steam the spinach with a few Tbl water until wilted.  Cool and squeeze as dry as possible.  Chop finely and place in a mixing bowl.
Incorporate the pepperoni, cream cheese, mayo, Asiago and oregano into the spinach.
Roll the puff pastry sheet just a bit to form a uniform rectangle.  Spread the spinach mixture evenly over the pastry.
Starting at the long end, roll the pastry to form a log and then refrigerate for about 20 minutes for ease in cutting. ( At this point you can wrap the log well and freeze for future use.  Just partially thaw before slicing and baking.
Slice the log into about 20 half inch circles and place on a parchment lined baking sheet.
Brush each pinwheel with a bit of the egg mixture and bake at 425F for 15 to 17 minutes.  Serve warm.