Monday, November 28, 2011

Roast Brussels Sprouts with Red Grapes and Walnuts

                                                                                     Photographs by Rachel Horesovsky

I saw this dish on the cover of a Martha Stewart publication at a hotel we stayed at a few weeks ago when we were moving Emma to Massachusetts.  I didn't read the recipe, but somehow the image from the cover of the magazine was permanently seared into my memory and I couldn't stop thinking about it for weeks .

This is probably because I LOVE Brussels sprouts.  When I was a kid, my mother would boil them until they were mush and I hated them more than anything on earth.  But in college I had a properly cooked sprout, and it was an epiphany.  These little cabbages weren't mushy and bitter like the ones from my childhood.  No, if cooked properly, they were nutty and sweet and earthy and crunchy and buttery.  Mmmmmmmmm.  I was hooked.

Since then I have loved Brussels sprouts.  The trick is to not overcook them.  Doug and I have been making a balsamic roasted brussels sprout dish for thanksgiving for a few years now, and I decided to add some red grapes and walnuts to the mix (thanks for the inspiration Martha!).  These were great!  The red grapes enhanced the sweetness, but were still tangy, the walnuts gave just the right crunch.  Next year I may even throw in a little bacon!

Roast Brussels Sprouts with Red Grapes and Walnuts
(serves 8)

1 lb. brussels sprouts, bottoms trimmed and cut in half.
1 1/2 cup whole red seedless grapes
3/4 cup chopped walnut halves
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar.

Preheat oven to 350F.

In a large bowl combine brussels sprouts, grapes and walnuts.  In a separate bowl, combine remainng ingredients and whisk together like a salad dressing.  Pour dressing over sprouts mixture, toss to coat, and roast on a parchment lined baking sheet for 30 minutes, tossing occasionally.  Serve hot.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Roasted Winter Vegetables with Honey and Thyme

                                                                                                  Photographs by Rachel Horesovsky

This was my favorite dish at this year's Thanksgiving dinner.  It was sweet and earthy and fragrant.  I think I would love this just by itself.  It was also ridiculously easy to make.

Please try to use golden beets in this dish.  They can sometimes be hard to find, but you will be well-rewarded for your efforts.  YUM!

Roasted Winter Vegetables with Honey and Thyme
(makes a 9x13 pan of vegetables)

1 butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 medium rutabaga, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
4 medium parsnips, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
6 golden beets, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
4 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup fresh thyme, leaves plucked

Preheat oven to 350F.  Line 2 9x13 jelly roll pans with parchment.

Peel and dice all the vegetables.

 Golden beets before peeling...

... and their beautiful golden yellow flesh!

In a large bowl, combine all vegetables plus olive oil, salt and dried thyme.  Toss to coat well.

 Simply toss the vegetables with olive oil, sea salt and thyme

Spread vegetables on prepared baking sheets in a single layer.  Roast at 350F for 30 minutes.  Remove from oven, drizzle vegetables with honey and fresh thyme.  Toss to coat, then bake 10 additional minutes.  Serve immediately.
Note* (Vegetables can be roasted ahead of time, refrigerated and reheated.)

Sage and Onion Sourdough Stuffing

                                                                                                 Photographs by Rachel Horesovsky

Over the years I have made a lot of different kinds of stuffing.  Oyster, chorizo and cornbread, apples pecan and sausage, wild rice with nuts and dried fruit, you name I have made it!  I love them all, but sometimes they are too complicated and tend to overshadow the rest of the meal.  This is always one of my favorite stuffings.  It's basic and simple and is packed with subtle herb and onion flavors.  This stuffing is the perfect partner to every flavor, and is just delicious as a leftover on its own with some turkey gravy.

The trick to an exceptional stuffing is to start with the best bread you can find.  For me that meant a trip to our local German bakery, Guglhupf, for a loaf of sourdough bread and a loaf of rosemary olive oil bread.  I will buy the bread a full week before thanksgiving, cut it into 1-inch cubes and place it in the turkey roasting pan and let it slowly dry out in the oven (no heat).  I just toss it once a day to make sure everything dries out equally.  This way the bread is ready to absorb all the flavor you are going to add, without becoming a soggy dense brick.

I also recommend making your own turkey stock for this.  How do you make turkey stock before thanksgiving you ask?  Easy!  Buy two large uncooked turkey wings and about 6 turkey necks, roast them at 350 for three hours, then add them to a pot with one large onion, 3 stalks of celery and a cup of carrots, some rosemary and thyme and slowly cook, covered, overnight on low heat (about 6-8 hours).  Strain through a colander and you are good to go!  The flavor difference in remarkable!

Sage and Onion Sourdough Stuffing
(makes enough to stuff a 21 pound turkey and make a 9x13 pan of dressing)

one loaf sourdough bread, cut into 1-inch cubes and air dried
one loaf rosemary olive oil bread, cut into 1-inch cubes and air dried
2 large onions chopped
2 large shallots diced
5 stalks celery, diced
1 1/2 sticks butter
2 Tbsp minced fresh rosemary
1/4 cup fresh sage minced
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
2 tsp salt
4 cups turkey stock, preferably homemade (or chicken stock)
3 eggs, beaten

In a large deep skillet melt butter.  Add onions, shallots and celery and cook over medium high heat, tossing occasionally until onions are translucent, about 20 minutes.  Add rosemary,sage, thyme, pepper and salt, and cook for 5 minutes longer.  Add turkey stock and stir.  Remove from heat.

In a large bowl, place the dried bread cubes, and pour turkey stock mixture over.  Toss to coat.  Add 3 eggs beaten slightly and toss to combine. 

Stuffing mixed and ready to be baked both in the bird and in a separate baking dish

Stuff Turkey.  Place remainng stuffing in a well-buttered 9x13 pan.  Top with additional pats of butter.  Cover with foil.  Bake stuffing 30 minutes at 350F, covered with foil.  Then remove foil and bake an additional 10 minutes.  Serve immediately.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Panko-Crusted Crab Cakes with Arugula Salad

                                                                                                                                 Photographs by Rachel Horesovsky

I first had these crab cakes at the legendary Fearrington House in Fearrington North Carolina.  I think they are the perfect crabcake.  Very moist and meaty with loads of flavor.  There is just enough binder to hold these delicate patties together.  YUM.

I have made a few modifications to the Fearrington recipe.  I substitute fennel for celery.  I think the anise flavor is a perfect companion to the sweet crab.  I also added a simple panko crust to the outside because I love the crunch of panko.
Scallion, red bell pepper and fennel...

For a perfect first course to a meal, these are best served on a very simple arugula salad with a light champagne vinaigrette.

A large platter of crab cakes and arugula salad...

Panko-Crusted Crab Cakes with Arugula Salad
makes 2 dozen small crab cakes

1 lb lump crabmeat
1/2 cup finely diced fennel
1/2 cup finely diced red bell pepper
3 Tbsp butter
4 scallions, thinly chopped
2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp ground white pepper
1/2 tsp salt
3 Tbsp mayonnaise
1 egg, beaten
2 tsp dijon mustard
1/2 tsp worcestershire sauce
1 cup, plus 2 cups panko bread crumbs
2 egg whites, whisked until just frothy
1 stick butter for frying.

Gently squeeze handfuls of crab to remove excess water.  Place crab in a medium bowl.

In a large skillet melt 3 tbsp butter.  Add fennel and red pepper and scallions and saute for 5 minutes.  Remove from heat. 

In a large bowl combine lemon juice, pepper, salt, mayonnaise, egg, mustard and worcestershire sauce.  Whisk to combine.  Add sauteed vegetables to bowl. and mix gently.  Add crab to bowl and toss gently to combine.  Add one cup of the panko to the crab mix and toss gently until just combined.  Gently press mixture into 24 small patties.

On two small plates, place frothy egg whites, and 2 cups panko crumbs.  Carefully dip crab cakes in egg whites and then roll lightly in panko.  Place on wax paper until ready for frying (These can be made ahead of time and refrigerated until ready to fry).

In a large non-stick skillet melt 1 stick of butter.  When butter is melted add half of the crab cakes and fry over medium heat until cakes are golden brown, flipping once.  Serve immediately with arugula salad.

Arugula Salad with Champagne Vinaigrette
1 lbs baby arugula, rinsed and patted dry
2 Tbsp champagne vinegar
1 Tbsp honey
1 tsp dijon mustard
1/8 tsp salt and pepper
4 Tbsp olive oil.

Combine all dressing ingredients in a small bowl and whisk until combined.  Drizzle dressing over Arugula and toss to coat.

Gougere with Wild Mushroom Duxelles

                                                                                                                                 Photography by Rachel Horesovsky

Doug has been having fun teasing me about the name of this dish.  He has been mincing around saying, "for Thanksgiving we are having faw faw faugh faw faw " in an affected, cartoonish french accent.  What can I say?  I could call these Cheese Puffs with Mushroom Paste, but that really wouldn't do this dish justice. 

These were a huge hit at our Thanksgiving dinner this year.  I like to serve the hot gougere (cheese puffs) on a large platter and put a bowl of the hot duxelles (mushroom paste) next to it.  The Gougere are crispy and light and scream of gruyere cheese, and are wonderful eaten on their own.  Or tear the top of them and fill them with Duxelles for an out of this world flavor explosion of cheese and wild mushrooms.  Faw faw faw indeed! 

Everyone loves crispy cheesey Gougere!

This is one of those dishes that is really pretty simple to make, looks very rustic, but is the essence of autumnal elegance.  The Gougere dough is simply a pate choux with milk and cheese.  As far as the mushrooms go, I think patience is key in slowly sauteing them, and when you are using such amazing mushrooms as Morels and Chanterelles, less is more when it comes to seasonings. While Duxelle is usually made with ground mushrooms, I prefer a more chunky duxelles and just chopped them finely.

Beautiful fresh chanterelles!

Gougere with Wild Mushroom Duxelles
makes 2 dozen bite-size appetizers


1 cup milk
1 stick unsalted butter (4 oz.)
1 tsp salt
1 cup all purpose flour
4 eggs plus one egg, separated
1/2 lb grated gruyere cheese
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350F.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium sized pot, combine milk, butter and salt over high heat.  Cook until butter is melted and milk comes to a boil.  Remove from heat, and add flour.  Stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until mixture pulls together in a ball.  Let dough rest 15 minutes off heat to cool.

Add eggs to dough, one at a time, stirring with a wooden spoon after each adition until egg is completely incorporated.  After all 4 eggs have been added, add reserved egg white to dough and mix in.  Add gruyere cheese and stir into dough.

Drop spoonfulls of dough onto parchment lines baking sheets, about an inch apart.  In a small bowl, mix reserved egg yolk with 1 tsp water, and then brush egg glaze on top of dough.  Sprinkle glazed gougere with grated parmesan cheese.

Cheesey pate choux ready for the oven...

Freshly baked, crispy gougere!

Bake 30 minutes until gougere are puffed and very golden.  Serve hot or at room temperature.

Wild Mushroom Duxelles

1 pound fresh wild mushrooms (I used chanterelles), finely chopped
1/2 oz. dried morel mushrooms
1 cup boiling water
4 tbsp unsalted butter
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 shallot finely minced
1/4 cup tawny port
1 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp fresh rosemary, minced (or 1/2 tsp dried rosemary, crumbled)
1 Tbsp fresh thyme, minced (or 1/2 tsp dried thyme)
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp kosher salt

Combine dried morels and 1 cup boiling water, allow to steep 30 minutes.  Remove morels from liquid and chop finely, reserving mushroom soaking liquid.  Strain grit out of reserved mushroom soaking liquid by pouring liquid through 2 layers of cheesecloth in a sieve.  Reserve liquid.

Strain the steeping liquid through a sieve lined with a double layer of cheesecloth

Have everything ready to go before cooking!

In a large skillet, melt butter over medium high heat.  When butter is melted add garlic and shallot and cook 20 seconds.  Add chopped mushrooms to pan and saute.  Mushrooms will eventually sweat out their liquid, continue to cook until liquid is reduced and mushrooms are slightly caramelized (about 15-20 minutes).

Mushrooms will sweat a lot of liquid, cook until this liquid is 
completely reduced and mushrooms are caramelized.

Deglaze pan with port and cook until liquid is reduced (about 1 minute).  Add honey, rosemary, thyme, pepper and reserved steeping liquid.  Cook until completely reduced and no liquid remains.  Season with 1 tsp kosher salt.

Serve with freshly baked Gougere.

(Duxelles, can be transfered to an airtight container while hot, and refrigerated for several days before using).

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011

Well, it's that time of year again.  Time to begin obsessing about holiday menus... I love it!  After some debate, we have finalized the Thanksgiving menu.  This year we decided to put an emphasis on clean and simple flavors, avoiding heavy sauces or drowning things in cream, and also avoiding overly trendy gimmicky food.

I intend to post most of these recipes on the blog in the next few weeks, some are already here, and some still need to be written.   I hope you will try some of these during the holiday season and let me know what you think!

Thanksgiving Menu 2011
Warm olives with Lemon Thyme

Haricots Vert in Brown Butter
(butternut squash, rutabaga, parsnip, carrots and golden beets)

Pecan Pie
Apple Pie
Pumpkin Cheesecake

Monday, November 7, 2011

Mama Ozzy's Beef Stew with Mushrooms and Red Wine.

There is something about an autumn Sunday afternoon and beef stew.  The two were just made for each other.

Doug and I are working on a fairly involved restoration project in the "World Famous Tiki Lounge" (our garage-cum-cocktail lounge in the backyard).  We discovered some fairly extensive dry rot over the garage door and so we have decided to install some new french doors in place of the old garage door.  It's perfect weather for construction work, cool and sunny.  And while we work, this beef stew is happily simmering away inside, just waiting for us to come in for dinner.
Doug looks a little too happy to be using a buzz saw...

The new french doors!

I started this stew early this morning, and am going to let it just... well, stew all day.  The trick to an excellent beef stew is to get a really good sear on the beef.  And the best way to do that is to cook the beef a few pieces at a time over medium high heat.  Just like Julia Child says, you must not overcrowd the beef!  Caramelizing the beef like this develops a rich brown patina in the pot that gives a really intense beef flavor.

This recipe makes a gracious plenty, which is never a problem around here.  This stew reheats perfectly in the microwave and makes an excellent brown bag lunch!

Mama Ozzy's Beef Stew with Mushrooms and Red Wine
(serves 10)

4 lbs beef, cut into bite-sized cubes
3 Tbsp olive oil
4 Tbsp butter

2 medium onions, diced
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 lb mushrooms, quartered
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1/2 cup flour
2 cups red wine
4 cups beef stock
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 sprigs fresh rosemary
3 bay leaves
2 tsp kosher salt
2 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 tsp worcestershire sauce
4 unpeeled medium russet potatoes, scrubbed and cubed
2 cups mixed frozen vegetables (peas, carrots, green beans and corn)

In a large heavy stock pot, heat oil and butter over medium high heat until butter is melted.  Add  beef cubes 1 lb at a time, do not over crowd, and cook turning frequently until beef is very well seared on all sides.  Transfer browned beef to a large bowl and repeat until all the beef is browned.

Add onions and celery to beef drippings and cook 10 minute over medium high heat until onion wilts.  Add Mushrooms and cook, tossing frequently until mushrooms are very soft.  Add thyme, black pepper, tomato paste and stir well.  Add flour and stir until mixed.  Add wine and stir until a very thick sauce is made.  Add Beef stock and stir.  Add rosemary sprigs, bay leaves, salt, sugar and worcestershire sauce.   Add beef cubes back to pot and bring just to a simmer.  Reduce heat to low, cover pot with a lid and simmer 4 hours.

Add potatoes and continue to cook 1- 2 hours, stirring occasionally until beef and potatoes are very tender.  Remove rosemary sprigs and bay leaves.

Add frozen vegetables, stir and cook 10 minutes.  Serve hot.