Archive for the ‘Fall’ Category

PASTA NICOISE

SALAD NICOISE

Serves 3 – 4.

I don’t know if there is a thing in France called Pasta Nicoise, but this is very similar to Salad Nicoise, so that’s what I’m calling it. Based on this recipe at Bon Appetit plus other reader reviews, I made the recipe below which was very easy and quick and perfect for a weeknight.

1/3 cup sundried tomatoes

1 cup green beans, stemmed and cut into bite sized pieces

8 oz. dried short pasta

3 – 4 garlic cloves, minced

zest of one lemon

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 can tuna in olive oil (wild caught), drained

¼ olive oil

salt

pepper

2 tablespoons capers, drained

2 cups baby greens, chopped

parmesan cheese

 

Put the sundried tomatoes in a heat-proof bowl and cover with hot water. Let sit for 5 – 10 minutes and then drain. Bring a large pot of water to boil for the pasta.

After zesting the lemon into a small bowl, squeeze the lemon juice into a small bowl and put the garlic in the juice to macerate for 10 – 15 minutes.

In a large heat-proof bowl, combine the drained tuna, olive oil, salt pepper, drained capers and tomatoes, lemon zest, greens and salt and pepper to taste. You can place the bowl over the water to heat up the sauce ingredients a bit or just let sit at room temperature as the pasta boils.

Cook pasta according to directions. When 2 minutes are left in cooking time, add the green beans to blanch them. Stir lemon juice and garlic into sauce. Drain pasta and beans and add to sauce bowl and toss. Garnish with grated parmesan and serve.

Here’s a PASTA NICOISE.

PUMPKIN CHEESECAKE BARS

Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars

This takes the gingersnap crust from another pumpkin pie recipe and a couple different pumpkin cheesecake recipes (mostly this one) to make a treat in the shape of a bar. Although I love pie, I am often frustrated that the crust distribution is so unequal across the slice. And while I love this gingersnap crust, it is a bit crumbly at its exposed edges in a pie. The bar solves these two problems. Plus, this swirled filling is nowhere near as rich as many cheesecake recipes, nor is it as cloyingly custardy as many pumpkin pie recipes. The texture is smooth, creamy and spicy. The overall ginger flavor is quite strong, so you might want to cut down the amount if that worries you. Finally, there are lots of steps and planning ahead, including two rounds with your food processor, but the final product is worth the time and effort, and none of the steps are terribly arduous. A perfect way to spend a fall day when you can be in and out of the kitchen.

Crust:

9 oz. gingersnap cookies

1 cup pecan pieces

¼ cup brown sugar

2 tablespoons chopped crystallized ginger (optional)

¼ cup butter, melted

Filling:

1 6 – 7” sugar pumpkin OR 1 15 oz. can pumpkin puree

¾ cup sugar

¼ cup chopped crystallized ginger

8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature

2 large eggs, room temperature

¼ cup heavy cream

1 tablespoon flour

¼ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon allspice

If making your own puree:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil.

Cut the pumpkin in half vertically (through or right next to stem, or remove stem). Scoop out seeds and stringy stuff. Place pumpkin halves cut side down. Cover with more foil, not tightly, more like a tent.

Bake until tender – until you can pierce the skin and flesh all the way through easily with a fork – about 1 ½ hours. Remove from oven and cool until you can handle it. Scoop out the flesh into a medium bowl. Puree using an immersion blender. Pour off any excess liquid.

Baked Sugar Pumpkin

While the pumpkin is baking, make the crust:

Put cookies into food processor, then process into crumbs. Add pecans, brown sugar and ginger and process until nuts are finely ground. Add melted butter and process to blend. Dump into a Buttered 13 x 9” glass dish and press with spatula to cover bottom evenly. Bake at 350 until set and browned, 10 – 15 minutes, then cool completely.

Gingersnap Crust

Make the filling:

Pulse sugar and ginger in (cleaned) food processor until ginger is well chopped. Add cream cheese and process until smooth. Add eggs, cream, flour and salt and process until combined.

Whisk 1 1/3 cups of the cream cheese mixture (reserving the rest) with the pumpkin puree, cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice. Once the crust is cooled, pour the pumpkin filling over it and spread evenly. Pour the reserved cream cheese mixture on top and then swirl with a spatula. Bake at 350 degrees until center is just set, 35 – 45 minutes. Cool on a rack to room temperature (at least an hour), cover loosely with foil and chill for at least 4 hours. Then reward yourself for the delayed gratification with a nice large piece.

Just Baked Bars

CLICK HERE FOR A PRINTABLE VERSION OF PUMPKIN CHEESECAKE BARS

CARROT CAKE MUFFINS with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

Liberally adapted from a Bon Appetit recipe.  I did my usual flour substitutions, reduced the sugar, and completely changed the frosting recipe.  Nicely carroty and satisfied a pack of picky eaters.

1 cup all purpose flour

¾ cup white whole wheat flour

¼ cup almond meal

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

½ teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon salt

¾ cup sugar

¾ cup brown sugar

1 cup canola oil

4 large eggs

4 cups finely grated peeled carrots (about 1 lb. carrots)

1 cup walnuts or pecans, toasted, chopped

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour 24 muffin cups (or use paper liners).

Whisk together the first eight ingredients in a medium bowl.  Beat sugars, oil and eggs in large bowl until well blended. Stir in blended dry ingredients. Stir in carrots and walnuts. Divide batter between muffin cups.  Don’t overfill.

Bake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Cool completely, then frost.  (Or frost only as you use them, which makes for easier storage.  The muffins and frosting store well in the fridge for several days.)

CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

6 oz. cream cheese, room temperature

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup powdered sugar

2 tablespoons pure maple syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

zest of one lemon or orange

Beat cream cheese and butter with electric mixer in a large bowl until smooth. Add powdered sugar, syrup, and vanilla; beat until smooth.  Stir in zest.

Printable version:  CARROT CAKE MUFFINS

HONEY ROASTED CARROT SALAD

From Melissa Clark’s COOK THIS NOW, I didn’t change it much at all (OK, I eliminated a few bowls along the way) and it was a big hit at our latest FCA.  My only suggestion: ours was beautiful with purple and orange carrots.  To keep such carrots’ color, don’t peel them, but scrub very well.  Then, roast them on separate pans so the colors don’t mix.

1 lb. carrots, scrubbed or peeled, and cut into ½ “ rounds

1 ½ tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons EVOO

salt & pepper

2 teaspoons honey

¼ cup sliced almonds

about 8 cups baby arugula, washed and spun dry

1 ½ teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

salt & pepper

more EVOO

Preheat the oven to 400.  Toss together carrots, 1 ½ tablespoons EVOO, ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper on a large rimmed baking sheet, then spread out in one layer.  Roast, stirring occasionally, for 25 minutes.

In a small bowl, whisk together the honey, 2 teaspoons EVOO, 1 teaspoon water and a couple pinches of salt.  In a small baking pan, toss together almonds with 1 ½ teaspoons of the honey mixture and spread out evenly (though they will stick together a bit).

Once carrots have roasted for 25 minutes, pour the remaining honey mixture over them and toss to coat.  Roast carrots and almonds for another 5 – 7 minutes, until almonds are golden and carrots are tender.  Remove and cool completely.  (Can be done several hours ahead and stored at room temperature.)

For the dressing, whisk together the lemon juice and ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper.  Whisk in ¼ cup EVOO until fully incorporated.

In a large bowl, toss together the greens with half of the dressing.  Fold in carrots and almonds, drizzle on more dressing to taste and toss gently.

Printable version here:  HONEY ROASTED CARROT SALAD

COLLARD GREENS MINIERA

This is a bright alternative to the traditional (and often unappealing) slow cooking of greens.  I used a few of the reviewer suggestions to adapt this Gourmet recipe from epicurious.

1 large bunch collard greens, halved lengthwise, stems and ribs removed

2 – 3 slices bacon, chopped

olive oil (optional)

1 shallot, minced

1 – 2 cloves of garlic, minced

juice of 1 large lemon

In manageable groups, stack collard leaf halves and roll crosswise into a tight cigar.  Cut crosswise into thin slices.

Cook bacon in a large non-stick skillet.  When browned and crisp, drain off all but about 3 tablespoons of fat (if necessary).  Or drain all but 1 tablespoon and add 2 tablespoons olive oil.  Cook shallots with bacon, about 2 minutes.  Add garlic and cook another minute, until fragrant.  Add collards all at once with a generous sprinkling of salt and quickly sauté, making sure to coat greens with fat, until bright green, about one minute.

Toss with lemon juice and more salt as desired and serve immediately.

Printable version: COLLARD GREENS MINIERA

FARRO AND ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH

Adapted from 101cookbooks.com.  I made this pretty much as directed, but my vegetables took much longer to roast than she suggested.  This was my first time cooking with farro, and it was easy enough and I love the chewy texture and earthy flavor of it.

2 cups farro, rinsed and drained

2 teaspoons sea salt

5 cups water or stock

3 cups butternut squash, cut into ½” dice

1 large red onion, roughly chopped

1 tablespoon fresh thyme, minced

3 tablespoons EVOO

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 cup walnuts, deeply toasted

3 tablespoons toasted walnut oil or more EVOO

¼ cup goat cheese, crumbled

Preheat oven to 375.

Combine farro, salt and water or stock in a large, heavy saucepan and bring to a boil.  Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until farro is tender, 45 minutes to an hour (or half that amount if you are using a pearled version – check your package directions as well).  Check its doneness often; you want it nicely al dente, to retain its shape.  Remove from heat, drain excess water, and set aside.

Once farro is cooking, toss squash, onion and thyme with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and a couple big pinches of salt on a rimmed baking sheet.  Arrange in a single layer and roast in the oven for about 40 minutes.  Toss every 5 – 7 minutes to get browning on multiple sides.  Once squash is cooked through, remove from the oven.

In a large bowl gently toss farro with vegetables.  This can be made several hours ahead and left at room temperature (or refrigerate and then let come back to room temp before serving).  Just before serving, fold in nuts and goat cheese with walnut oil, or additional olive oil, adding salt and pepper as needed.

PRINTABLE VERSION: FARRO & BUTTERNUT SQUASH

BEAN & VEGETABLE SOUP WITH BACON

I made soup this week and last with fresh legumes from the Farmer’s Market:  one with fresh Pink Eye’d Peas and one with fresh Cannelini beans (both from Weiser Family Farms, grower of perfect potatoes and interesting varieties of other vegetables).  Since they were fresh, the peas/beans didn’t require pre-soaking or much cooking.  I decided to put together a BASIC recipe that you can alter to your taste and to accommodate what’s on hand.  The bacon is optional, but it does add a nice flavor without featuring meat (use non nitrate, of course).  Hopefully, it will inspire!

THE FAT (2 – 3 tablespoons)

3 slices bacon, or 4 oz. pancetta (optional)

1 – 3 tablespoons olive oil

THE MIREPOIX (2 – 3 cups)

onion/leek/shallots, diced

celery, diced

carrots, diced

and/or parsnip/turnip/sweet potato/squash

2 – 4 cloves garlic, minced

FLAVORINGS (choose one or two of these)

Dried Spices:  smoked paprika, cumin, cayenne, dill, etc.

Herb garni bouquet (fresh thyme/rosemary/marjoram/bay leaves/sage/oregano tied with string)

Parmesan Rind

Smoked or dried chili peppers (remove seeds to reduce heat)

THE LIQUID (3 – 6 cups, mix and match)

vegetable or chicken stock

1 can diced tomatoes with juice

water

wine (no more than 1 cup, best added to thin)

BEANS

1 lb. pods of fresh field peas or beans, shelled & rinsed  (about 2 cups)

OR

2 cups cooked beans of choice

OTHER VEGETABLES (2 – 6 cups)

Potatoes, diced

Greens (Kale, chard, spinach), roughly chopped

FINAL FLAVORS

Salt & Pepper

Soy Sauce

Lemon or lime juice

GARNISH (combine below and/or be creative)

Toasted nuts or seeds

Plain yogurt or sour cream

Grated parmesan cheese

Chopped fresh soft herbs (parsley, basil, leaves of thyme)

Lemon zest

Etc.

In a dutch oven or heavy bottomed stock pot, cook the bacon if using.  You can remove the bacon and use as a garnish later, or leave in the pot.  Add olive oil to supplement bacon fat, or if not using bacon, heat oil over medium heat.

Cook Mirepoix until onions are softened, adding any desired dried spices.  Add garlic and cook another minute.  (A splash of wine can be used to deglaze browned bits from bottom of pot.)

Add 3 – 4 cups of desired liquid and beans.  If using fresh beans, can add potatoes at this point as well.  Bring to a boil, then simmer until beans and vegetables are soft but not mushy.  Add greens and cook until wilted.  Remove bouquet garni, parmesan rind and/or dried pepper.  Taste and add salt & pepper, and/or other final flavors and serve topped with garnish, or with bowls of garnish to pass.  Serves 8 – 10.  Freezes well.

Print version of  BEAN & VEG SOUP W_BACON