Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Mushroom and Fontina Quiche

Mushroom and Fontina Quiche

A medley of baby bella, shitake and chanterelle mushrooms make this an earthy quiche.  I usually use Gruyere for the cheese, but Fontina worked very well.  This recipe calls for baking the crust at high temperature for longer than I am accustomed, then filling it, and finishing at low temperature. 

Mushroom and Fontina Quiche
adapted from Bon Appetit, October, 2009

1 pie crust, pre-made refrigerated type, at room temperature
2 T. butter
2/3 cup chopped shallots
5 cups assorted mushrooms
4 large eggs
1 cup half'n'half
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper
1/2 t. nutmeg
1 1/2 cups (packed) or 2 cups loose, grated Fontina cheese (about 7 ounces)

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  Unroll crust and press it firmly into and up the sides of a 9 inch pie plate.  I prefer the kind with the little handles which are slightly taller.  Less potential for overflow. 

Line the pie crust with foil, add dry beans for weights, and bake in the oven for 17 minutes

until light golden brown.  Remove the foil and bean, cool and store beans for future use.

Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees.

Meanwhile, melt butter in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add shallots:  saute for 2 minutes.  Add mushrooms; sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Saute until mushrooms are tender and beginning to brown, between 8 and 12 minutes.  Cool.

Whisk eggs, half'n'half, 1/2 t. salt, 1/2 t. pepper, 1/2 t. nutmeg together.  Stir in 1 cup of the Fontina and blend.
Combine with cooled mushrooms and pour into the crust. Add the rest of the cheese on top.

Using hot pads, move the hot dish into the oven and bake for 45 minutes

or until quiche is puffed, golden brown and just set in the center.  Cool 30 minutes.

Serve wedges with a simple side salad.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Butternut Squash Gnocchi with Sage Brown Butter

Butternut Squash Gnocchi with Sage Brown Butter

I made this beautiful fall dish today from a recipe by Lydia Bastianich.  It was a good project for a chilly Sunday afternoon.

Gnocchi are pillows made of potato and flour mixed with egg and cheese.  Lydia adds roasted butternut squash, a fall favorite, accented with lots of nutmeg, then creates a fragrant sauce using brown butter and fresh sage, and tops them with Parmesan cheese. 

You'll need a potato ricer and plenty of time.

Butternut Squash Gnocchi with Sage Brown Butter
Recipe is by Lydia Bastianich, published in October, 2010, Bon Appetit

Prep 1 hour 45 minutes Total 4 hours (includes chilling time)
Serves 6

1 1 pound butternut squash (I bought two tubs already pre-cut)
1 T. olive oil
1 12 - 14 ounce russet potato, peeled and quartered (I used two)
3/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1 large egg, beaten to blend
1 1/2 t. freshly grated nutmeg
1 t. salt
1 3/4 cups (or more) all purpose flour
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
2 T. chopped fresh sage
Additional grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 

Lydia says to cut squash lengthwise in half; discard seeds.  Place squash halves, cut side up, on baking sheet and brush with oil.  Roast until squash is very tender when pieced with skewer and browned in spots, about 1 1/2 hours.  Cool slightly.  I roasted my pre-cut squash on a baking sheet for about 35 -45 minutes.

Lydia says to scoop flesh from squash into processor; puree until smooth.  Transfer to medium saucepan.  I put my squash directly into the pan, and used a handblender to puree it.  Next, stir it constantly over medium heat until juices evaporate and puree thickens, about 5 minutes.  Cool. 

Measure 1 cup (packed) squash puree (reserve remaining squash for another use).

Meanwhile, cook potatoes, which have been peeled and quartered, in medium saucepan of boiling salted water until very tender, about 20 minutes.  Drain.  While potato is warm, press through potato ricer into medium bowl; cool completely.  Measure 2 cups (loosely packed) riced potato (reserve remaining potato for another use).

Mix squash, potato, 1/2 cup Parmesan, egg nutmeg, and salt in large bowl. 

Gradually add 1 3/4 cups flour, kneading gently into mixture in bowl until dough hold together and is almost smooth.  If dough is very sticky, add more flour by tablespoonfuls. 

Turn dough out onto floured surface; knead gently but briefly until smooth.  Divide dough into 8 equal pieces.
Line 2 large rimmed baking sheets with parchment.  Sprinkle parchment lightly with flour. 

Working with 1 dough piece at a time, roll dough out on floured surface to a bout 1/2 inch thick rope.  Cut rope crosswise into 3/4 inch pieces.  Working with 1 piece at a time, roll gnocchi along back of fork tines dipped in flour making ridges on 1 side. 

Transfer gnocchi to baking sheets.  Repeat with remaining dough.  Cover loosely with plastic wrap and chill at least 1 hour.  Can be made 6 hours ahead.  Keep chilled.

Working in 2 batches, cook gnocchi in large pot of boiling salted water until very tender, 15 to 17 minutes (gnocchi will float to surface but may come to surface before fully cooked).  Using a slotted spoon, transfer gnocchi to same parchment-lined baking sheets. 

Cool.  Can be made 8 hours ahead.  Cover loosely and chill.

Cook butter in heavy large skillet over medium heat just until golden, stirring often, 3 to 4 minutes.  Add sage; stir 1 minute. 

Add gnocchi; cook until heated through and coated with butter, 5 to 7 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. 

Transfer to bowl.  Sprinkle with 1/4 cup Parmesan. 

Serve with additional Parmesan.

Now I have to go and clean up all of the dishes!  What a mess I made, but I had lots of fun. And the gnocchi were pretty good, too.


Saturday, November 20, 2010

Aunt Laddie's Pumpkin Bread by Colleen

This is Laddie's recipe (actually I think it is Ann G.'s) for pumpkin bread that is part of the LMR Thanksgiving.  The bread is fast to make.  I sometimes sprinkle cinnamon sugar in the bottom/sides of the pans before baking which gives the bread a nice little crunch on the crust.

Aunt Laddie's Pumpkin Bread

2 eggs (slightly beaten)
Mix in:
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup pumpkin (I use Libby's)
1/2 cup water
Mix in:
1 2/3 cups flour
3/4 t. salt
1 t. baking soda
1/4 t. baking powder
1/2 t. EACH:  cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg

Stir and blend.  Beat with whisk if there are lumps.  Pour into greased pans (spray with Pam) and bake at 350 degrees.  About 1 hour for a regular size loaf pan, or 25 minutes for smaller loaf pans.  For muffin size pans, I baked for about 20 minutes.  Check with a toothpick in center to make sure the bread is baked through.  Cool 10 minutes in pans and then turn out onto racks and cool completely.  The bread freezes really well.

Note:  I usually use the large size can (29 ounce) of pumpkin and just triple the recipe.  It ends up being about 3 1/2 cups of pumpkin, but it just makes the bread more moist.  Also, to make the bread a little more fun and sweet, you can sprinkle cinnamon sugar into the bread pan after you spray with Pam.  Make sure to cover bottom and sides of the pan.  It gives the bread a nice little crunch on the edges.


Monday, November 15, 2010

Banana Peanut Butter Muffins

Banana Peanut Butter Muffins

I was flipping through the channels when I ran across a British cooking show where a woman was showing how to make breakfast foods.  She must have owned a bed and breakfast because she made a gazillion items in no time at all and never even referred to a recipe or notes. 

She started with granola, then showed how to make scones so they aren't tough, a fresh fruit salad with lime-honey drizzle, smoothies using a handblender (what a great idea!), how to scrambled eggs by starting with a cold pan, puffy pancakes with bacon and maple syrup, and ended by pulling out muffins made with peanut butter and banana.

I have never tried putting peanut butter in muffins, so I thought I'd give it a try.  I like banana on my peanut butter sandwich, so the combination intriqued me. 

 I used the basic muffin recipe from the The Yellow Farmhouse Cookbook as the foundation for the recipe.

Banana Peanut Butter Muffins

1 stick of butter, melted and cooled
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 t. vanilla extract
3 cups of flour
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1 1/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup plus 1 T. sugar
2 - very ripe, mashed bananas
1/2 cup peanut butter

Heat oven to 375 degrees.  Grease a 12-cup muffin tin.  Whisk together melted butter, eggs, and vanilla in a large bowl.  Separately, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. 

Combine the dry ingredients with the eggs and butter until about half mixed.

Mash the bananas and combine with peanut butter. I guessed and combined 2 mashed bananas with about 1/3 to 1/2 cup of peanut butter.

Then add the rest of the ingredients on top ---the buttermilk, the sugar, the mashed bananas mixed with the peanut butter. 

Quickly fold them together without over mixing.  This is the secret for getting good texture for your muffins.

Divide into 12 muffins.  I used a 1/3 measuring cup and had extra batter, so I evened it up among them all.  They are on the large side for muffins.

Bake for 25 - 28 minutes.  Mine took 27 minutes.  Test with a toothpick if you aren't sure.

They should be browned on the tops but moist on the inside.

Let them cool in the pan for 5 minutes then remove.

They are best served hot.  If you want a sweeter muffin, then add raw sugar on top before baking.  Or increase the sugar in the batter.


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Do You Know What This Is? I Didn't.

Do you know what this is?  I didn't.

Ran across this vegetable character in the grocery store over the weekend.  New to me!  Look at the crazy cones in the design of the flower head! 

The sign said it was Romanesco.  $1.99 a head.  That's cheap entertainment for me -- it doesn't take much -- so I bought it to take home.

It's in the cauliflower family; however, it is more tender than common cauliflower. Sometimes it is called Romanesco Broccoli.  It can be cooked and eaten like regular broccoli, as a crudite, or steamed and served with lemon.  Or used in a simple pasta dish of penne, brown butter and good cheese.


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

16 Bean Soup with Smoked Ham

16 Bean Soup Mix

It is always a good idea to buy a bag of bean soup mix to have on hand in the pantry.  This one by Goya caught my eye a while back. 

The variety of beans and colors appealed to me. 

Beans have to be soaked and cleaned.  I find it easiest to soak them overnight.  Put them in your soup pot and cover with lots of fresh cold water -- at least 6 cups for a pound of beans.  Cover and set aside overnight.

In the morning, rinse them well and pick out any debris or stones. 

Then, use your leftovers and your imagination to make a soup.  Or start with the recipe on the back of the bag as I did.  That's how I get myself going sometimes.  But I usually change the recipe---to intensify the flavors, or cut down on the fat or sugar, and adapt it to our personal likes; hence, the smoked ham.

Here's what I did to make a hearty soup:

16 Bean Soup with Smoked Ham

1 1b. beans, soaked overnight, drained and cleaned
1-2 T. olive oil
1.5 onions, chopped
2 stalks celery, cleaned cut in to bite sizes
2 large carrots, cleaned and cut into bite sites pieces
4 -6 cloves of garlic, minced
4 small bay leafs, or 2 large
.5 lb smoked ham, fat removed, and cut up into bite size pieces
4 to 6 cups of chicken broth
salt and pepper to taste
ketchup (optional)

In the soup pot, heat the oil and add the onions.  Chop up the celery and carrots, and add to the pot. Add minced garlic.  Add the beans, bay leaf, and cover with chicken stock.  Chop up the smoked ham and add to the pot.  Add more chicken broth, if needed.  Bring to a slow boil, reduce to a simmer, cover and cook until the beans are done, about 1 to 1.5 hours.  Season at the end, and be sure to taste, and don't over salt the soup, because the ham can be very salty on its own.

Serve with warm cornbread, and ketchup to swirl in the soup.  That was Tom's idea.  He says he always put ketchup in his soup when he was a kid.  And I have to say, the sweetness and vinegary-ness of the ketchup brightened up the soup.

Notes:  I used a Daisy Smoked Ham, which is the type of ham sold to be cut up in baked beans.  You can use smoked ham hocks, which is a more traditional way to add flavor to a bean soup.  Or smoked turkey wings. 

To go with our soup, Tom used the last of his pepper crop to make Jalapeno Cornbread with Monterrey Jack cheese, and honey drizzled on top.  Decadent, but oh so good!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

New York City's Eataly

From the outside, Eataly looks like the entrance to a gelato cafe, at 200 W. 5th in the Flat Iron district.  I didn't even bother to take a photo of the outside, not expecting what we would soon realize was going to be a delightful food adventure.
Once inside, Eataly is a vast food emporium (42,500 square feet) dedicated to all things Italian, and has seven restaurants mingled within.  It is the third Eataly. The other two are in Turin, Italy and Tokyo, Japan. 

It opened in August, and is backed by Mario Batali, restauranteur Joe Bastianich and his mother, TV's Lydia Bastianich, in conjunction with Oscar Farinetti, founder of the original Eataly in Turin.  Other participants are David Pasternack of Esca, Dogfish Head Brewery's Sam Calagione, and Luca Montersino, the Italian pastry chef.

You eat right alongside the food stalls, while shoppers push chic shopping carts and fill baskets with great food to take home.

Yes, I know it sounds like a food court in a mall, but it all works somehow.  We had a delicious meal in the pasta and pizza restaurant.  I zoomed in on our neighbors' antipasto they were sharing.  Mostly because the food is good and the atmosphere is warm and inviting, the smells are wonderful and visually, it is exciting.
There is a big pasta department.  Around the corner there is an olive oil department, too, where we bought some. Lydia's cooking school is beyond that.

 They are making bread on the premises.

We bought some to take back to our room.

And there is lots of produce.

And harder to find ingredients.

Including truffles.


Cheese stacked in a corner.

Fresh pasta.

Fresh seafood.

And beautiful desserts.

We highly recommend you visit when you are in the city.  It is a huge, chaotic place, but it is lot of fun to visit, and the food was good.  We ate in the late afternoon, after our day of sightseeing.  Glad we decided to check it out.