Category Archives: Entree

28 October 2020: Carrot-and-Fennel Soup

The New York Times has an extensive recipe collection that I’ve often used when looking for ideas for cooking. If you have a subscription to the Times, the recipe box feature is worth the price of a NYT subscription, and their newsletter, What to Cook This Week, is an extraordinary resource.

With cooler Fall temperatures setting in, this week I’ve begun to put more soups and stews into our meal-planning rotations. With some beautiful carrots and a fennel bulb in our CSA Share, this recipe for Carrot-and-Fennel Soup from Amanda Hesser was truly serendipitous.

I did make a modification by substituting 0% Greek Yogurt for Sour Cream which didn’t feel as if it impacted the texture or flavor.

Carrot-and-Fennel Soup (Amanda Hesser)

Ingredients

  • 2 TBSP unsalted butter
  • 1 medium fennel bulb, trimmed and thinly sliced, fronds reserved
  • 1 1/2 pounds carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 large garlic clove, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • 1/2 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1/2 cup sour cream (I subbed in 0% Greek Yogurt)
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Method

  1. In a 3 quart heavy saucepan, over medium heat, melt the butter until foamy. Add the fennel slices and cook, stirring, until softened.
  2. Add the carrots and garlic and cook another minute.
  3. Pour in 6 cups of water and season with salt. Simmer, covered, until the carrots are very tender, about 20 minutes.
  4. Remove the soup from the heat and stir in the orange juice, sour cream and reserved fennel fronds. Use the back of a spoon to mash some of the carrots and fennel, but leave the soup chunky.
  5. Season with salt and pepper.

Noomers: full nutritional information on the NYT recipe website. Calories = 120 (for 1/6 of the recipe)


19 October 2020: Romanesco Cauliflower Pasta with Olives, Capers, and Parsley

We’re nearing the end of our 20-week Summer CSA and finding more Fall veggies in our share. This week, we were introduced to a new one: Romanesco. To me, it’s odd shape and more nutty flavor reminded me of cauliflower, but it seemed to hold up better in cooking. Not sure how to deal with prepping this vegetable? A Beautiful Plate, the source for this recipe, has a great how-to.

Romanesco Cauliflower Pasta with Olives, Capers & Parsley, from A Beautiful Plate

Yield 4 servings (428 calories)

Ingredients

  • 1 head of Romanesco (or cauliflower)
  • 2 TBSP extra virgin olive oil (divided)
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 heaping cut pitted kalamata olives, sliced lengthwise
  • 2 TBSP capers, roughly chopped
  • large pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1 heaping cup chopped Italian parsley leaves, lightly packed (more for garnishing)
  • 1 lb dried linguini or fettucine pasta (we ended up needing only half pound)
  • freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese for serving (optional)

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F with rack in center position.
  2. Trim and discard the base of the Romanesco and cut it in half, then quarters. Standing each quarter upright & holding your knife at an angle, trim the florets from the core. Most of the florets will fall off or can easily be separated with your fingers (you want the florets to be no larger than an inch in diameter); cut any larger florets in half with a knife to match the size of the other florets.
  3. Place the florets on a half-sheet pan and toss with 1 TBSP of olive oil, kosher salt & freshly ground pepper. Distribute the florets, cut-side down, into an even layer, making sure the florets aren’t touching each other if possible. Roast at 450 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes, tossing halfway, or until carmelized and tender.
  4. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta. Heat the remaining olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and saute for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring continuously, or until fragrant. Do not allow it to gain color (this can happen quickly!). Add the kalamata olives, capers, and red pepper flakes to the pan and saute for an additional minute or until warm. Taste for salt and pepper. Add half of the parsley to the skillet and keep the mixture warm – off the heat – as you cook the pasta.
  5. Boil the pasta until it is al dente, reserving a cup of cooking water. Return the pasta to the pot and add the kalamata olive and caper mixture and roasted Romanesco. Toss the mixutre together gently, adding the remaining chopped parsley, and a touch of extra virgin olive oil and reserved cooking water if dry. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  6. Serve immediately and garnish with chopped parsley and parmigiana cheese as desired.

More detailed nutrition information can be found on the original recipe’s website.


12 July 2020: Cheddar and Chive Scones

When we owned our Westford house, we always had a vegetable and herb garden. Among the things we grew were chives – and those of course grew prolifically. I love chives and added them to cottage cheese and egg dishes and as a garnish for soups. When we picked up our CSA share this weekend, we received a rather large bunch of beautiful chives, so of course I felt challenged to find a way to use them.

As one who enjoys baking, when I came across this recipe for a savory scone which would also make good use of our chives, it seemed liked this recipe was calling to me.

Whole Foods Cheddar and Chive Scones

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup milk plus 2 TBSP for brushing over scones
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 TBSP finely chopped chives (I used 1/4 cup and liked the density better)
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 TBSP baking powder
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 6 TBSP chilled butter
  • 1 1/2 cups grated sharp or aged cheddar cheese

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. In small bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup milk and the eggs until blended.
  3. Stir in chives and set aside. In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and pepper.
  4. Cut in cold butter with a pastry blender until resembling coarse meal. Stir in cheddar cheese.
  5. Add milk mixture and stir just until moist clumps form (do not overmix or scones will be tough).
  6. Trun out dough onto a lightly floured surface and shape into a ball. Cut dough in half and flatten each half into a 8-inch round 1/2 inch thick.
  7. Cut each round into 6 wedges and place the wedges on a parchment lined sheet.
  8. Brush tops of scones with milk and sprinkle with remaining cheese.
  9. Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown.


05 July 2020: Strawberry Cake

It’s strawberry season in New England! Along with shortcake and whipped cream, the possibilities are endless.

Back when I used to go to strawberry fields and pick outrageously large quantities of strawberries, I would make jar upon jar of strawberry jam. The ruby-red jam bubbling in a pot would emit the most wonderful smell: warm, steamy, and sweet. Pulling this cake out of the oven after an hour brought me right back to those days. Top off the warm cake with a little vanilla ice cream or whipped cream and you will not be disappointed.

Rather than the traditional biscuit, this is more of a buttery pound cake and it is delicious! And come on, you can’t go wrong with Martha Stewart!

Martha Stewart’s Strawberry Cake

Ingredients

  • 6 TBSP unsalted butter, softened; plus additional for the pie plate
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup plus 2 TBSP sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 pound strawberries, hulled and halved

Method

Preheat oven to 305 degrees. Butter a 10-inch pie place. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together into a medium bowl.

Put butter and 1 cup sugar into an electric mixer bowl. Mix on medium-high speed until pales and fluffy – about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to medium-low, mix in egg, milk and vanilla.

Transfer batter to pie place. Arrange strawberries on top of butter, cut sides down and as close together as possible. Sprinkle remaining 2 TBSP sugar over berries.

Bake cake 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees. Bake until cake is golden brown and firm to the touch (about 1 hours). Let cool in pie place on a wire rack. Cut into wedges.


15 June 2020: Broccoli Raab with Garlic, White Beans, Tomatoes and Parmesan

As we went into quarantine at the beginning of March, I began to consider making changes to food-sourcing. We were able to get food using food delivery or food pick-up services, but I wanted to go a step further in support of local food sources by joining a CSA or Community Supported Agriculture distribution. We bought a summer vegetable share at our local farm, Farmer Dave‘s which we just began picking up each Saturday.

One of the challenges I found from our previous CSA membership was finding ways to use the distribution so that none is wasted. This year, I’ve been more able to do that with a published “what’s in the box” list that comes out well before weekly meal planning takes place. This was a suggestion for using the broccoli raab and it is not only delicious, it was quick to pull together – and vegetarian (vegan without the parmesan).

Recipe from Vegetarian Times, linked here.

Ingredients

  • 3 TBSP Olive Oil (I used coconut oil)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 12-oz. bunches Broccoli Raab, trimmed and coarsley chopped (or use Swiss chard)
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes
  • 1 14-oz can white beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese for garnish (or use pine nuts)

Method

  • In wok or skillet over medium high heat, heat 2 TBSP of oil. Add the garlic and saute until it sizzles, then add broccoli raab and red pepper flakes.
  • Season with salt and saute for 5 to 7 minutes until broccoli raab is wilted. Remove to a serving platter.
  • Add remaining 1 TBSP oil to pan. Add tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 7 minutes or until the skins brown and tomatoes begin to split.
  • Stir in the drained white beans and cook 2 to 3 more minutes or until heated through. Spoon the tomato-bean mixture over the broccoli raab.
  • Garnish with Parmesan or pine nuts. Serves 5.


08 June 2020: Red Curry Cauliflower with Tofu

When you hear the name Joanne Chang do you think first of Flour Bakery’s fabulous baking and pastry? I do. But, because we also live near Boston, we have had the pleasure of visiting the restaurant, Myers + Chang and long-admired the wonderful dishes coming from the M+C kitchen.

When we moved from our rental to our condo, Adrien bought the Myers + Chang At Home cookbook for us as a house-warming. I’ve played with trying out a few of the recipes and they are incredible. With more at-home cooking going on these days – and more plant-based eating – I decided to give this recipe, Red Curry Cauliflower With Tofu, a try.

The recipe calls for a Vegetarian Curry Sauce which can be made ahead. In pre-retirement days I would have found some off-the-shelf substitute for the curry sauce, which would have been a huge mistake. Combining the elements (red curry paste, lime, coconut milk, Madras curry powder, oil and brown sugar) was easy and flavorful. The rest of the cooking involved stir-frying tofu, cauliflower florets and a quick simmering in the homemade curry sauce.

Delicious then, and delicious as leftovers the next day!


21 August 2018: Sweet Corn Polenta with Bell Pepper & Tomato Salad

2018-Aug-16_Fournightsaweek_2602The July/August 2018 issue of Eating Well has, as you might expect, some terrific recipes taking advantage of summer harvests. This recipe from Julia Clancy, a recipe developer from EatingWell,  is a perfect example. Is there anything better than a hot-off-the-vine tomato? I don’t think so.  

I’ve been intimidated by making my own polenta for a while. This week, finally, I gave this recipe a try, and I have to admit the difference is amazing! I’ll be hard-pressed to buy the ready-made products from now on. 

The only “downside” to this recipe is that it takes quite a while to complete – the polenta cooking and cooling period is about 3 hours total.  I made the polenta ahead of time, marinated the salad together in the refrigerator and, since we were having one of those unpredictable dinner times, assembled everything in about 20 minutes. This is definitely a great meal to prep ahead of time and put together later.

Served with a crisp, dry rose, this was a terrific mid-summer vegetarian meal.

Sweet Corn Polenta with Bell Pepper & Tomato Salad by Julia Clancy

Ingredients

For the Polenta:

  • 5 cups water
  • 1 cup coarsely ground cornmeal or polenta
  • 1 cup corn, fresh or frozen
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (please, not the canned dust!)
  • 2 TBSP unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp ground pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt

For the Salad

  • 2 medium red and/or yellow bell peppers, halved & seeded
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes halved
  • 3 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 TBSP red-wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 TBSP chopped FRESH herbs (basil, mint and/or tarragon)

Method:

  1. To prepare polenta: Bring water to a boil in a large saucepan. Reduce heat to low and gradually add cornmeal, whisking constantly to prevent clumping. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the polenta is creamy and reduce to about 4 cups (50 or 60 minutes). If the mixture is too stiff, loosen with 2 TBSP water.
  2. Add corn, Parmesan, butter, pepper and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the cheese is melted and the corn is tender – about 5 minutes. Coat a 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray. Pour in the polenta and let cool to room temperature, about 1 hour. Loosely cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm – about 2 hours or up to 1 day.
  3. To prepare the salad: Position a rack in upper third of oven; preheat broiler to high. Place peppers cut-side down on a baking sheet (I lined with foil). Broil, rotating the pan once, until softened and charred – 4 to 6 minutes. Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let steam for 10 minutes. Rub off blistered skin and coarsely chop the peppers. Combine with tomatoes, 2 TBSP oil, vinegar and salt in a medium bowl.
  4. Position a rack in upper third of oven; preheat broiler to high. Cut the polenta into 12 squares and place on baking sheet. Brush both sides of the polenta with the remaining 1 TBSP oil. Broil, turning once until golden brown – 3 to 5 minutes.
  5. To serve: Arrange the polenta and tomato salad on a large serving platter and top with herbs.

To make ahead: Prepare up to Step 4; refrigerate polenta and salad separately for up to 1 day. Serve salad at room temperature.


07 August 2018: Summer Farro Salad

2018-Aug-07_fournightsaweek_2587We are in the middle of a New England heat wave, so I’m making an attempt not to heat up our living space beyond tolerable. So with that goal in mind, I went on an Internet search for summer vegetarian salads and came up with this gem from Food & Wine’s September 2009 issue. Summer Farro Salad originated with Marco Canora and the link to his original article is here.

Previously when I’ve cooked with the Italian grain, farro, If you are unfamiliar with this ancient grain, this article from Spruce Eats has a great overview. I’ve found the preparation (soaking, cooking, cooling) to be a bit off-putting. In reading F&W’s recipe, the Farro is simmered with aromatics for about 20 minutes total – way more approachable for those of us for whom cooking is more spontaneous.

Summer Farro Salad – Serves 8

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cups + 2 TBSP extra virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, quartered
  • 1 small carrot, halved
  • 1 celery rib, halved
  • 12 oz. farro (1 3/4 cups)
  • 5 cups water
  • kosher salt
  • 3 TBSP red wine vinegar
  • Fresh pepper
  • 1/2 small red onion
  • 1 small seedless cucumber, halved lengthwise & thinly sliced crosswise
  • 1 pint grape comatoes halved
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

Method:

  1. In a large saucepan, heat 2 tbsp of the oil. Add the yellow onion, carrot and celery, cover and cook over moderately low heat until barely softened, about 5 minutes. Add the farro and stir to coat with oil. Add the water and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over low heat until the farro is barely tender (about 10 minutes). Season with salt. Cover and simmer until the farro is al dente (about 10 more minutes). Drain the farro and discard the onion, carrot, and celery. Let cool completely.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk the remaining 1/3 cup of olive oil with the vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Fold in the cooked farro, red onion, cucumber, tomatoes and basil. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

18 May 2018: Not a Birthday Cake

2018-May-18_food_2362Today is Adrien’s birthday and, I will be cooking tonight’s celebratory meal. While I am a big fan of birthday cake, he is not. So we are having a very un-birthday like dessert: chocolate mousse.

The absolute best chocolate mousse we have ever eaten was served at a lovely Paris restaurant in the Marais just a few blocks from Places de Vosges, Chez Janou.  There is nothing quite so delightful as ending a wonderful meal with a giant copper bowl of chocolate mousse, trust me. This recipe from Martha Stewart comes pretty close to perfection, however, and it is fairly uncomplicated. Chocolately and light, forget counting calories. This is an indulgently rich dessert worthy of someone’s birthday.

Martha Stewart’s Chocolate Mousse

Ingredients

  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 4 TBSP sugar
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, melted
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (I substituted vanilla paste here)

Method

  1. In a medium saucepan, whisk together egg yolks, 2 TBSP sugar, and 3/4 cup heavy cream. Cover over medium-low heat, stirring until mixture coats back of a spoon (3-4 minutes). Do not allow to boil. Remove from heat, whisk in melted chocolate and vanilla. Strain into a bowl. Chill until cool.
  2. With an electric mixer (I used my trusty stand mixer with the whisk attachment), beat remaining 1 1/4 cups heavy cream with remaining 2 TBSP sugar until stiff peaks form. Stir 1/3 of the whipped cream into the cooled custard mixture, then GENTLY FOLD (!) in the rest of the whipped cream with a spatula.
  3. Spoon into serving dishes, chill covered at least 30 minutes and up to 3 days. Bring to room temperature before serving. Or if you are dreaming of Chez Janou, put the mousse in a big serving bowl and enjoy the memories!

 


13 March 2018: Mall-Style Vegetable Stir Fry

2018-Mar-13_Fournightsaweek_1837When we were both working full-time, Adrien and I would plan a stir-fry meal which used one of those bottled Asian-style sauces as a starting point. Now that was certainly quick and tasty, but I’m not exactly sure how many ingredients in the bottled product would be considered “healthy”. So, when I spotted this recipe in the New York Times Food section, I was intrigued: could a stir-fry sauce be created to satisfy the need for a pick-up home-cooked meal and still be without some of those preservatives and flavor enhancers that end up in prepared foods. I think my answer is a resounding YES! But you don’t have to take my word for it. Try this one for yourself.

Mall-Style Vegetable Stir-Fry

Adapted from Jenne Claiborne By Kim Severson as found in the New York Times Cooking

Ingredients – For the Sauce

  • 1 tsp neutral oil (suggestion was to use grapeseed; I used coconut oil)
  • 1 1/2 TBSP minced ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 3 TBSP rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 6 Medjool or other dried dates, pitted and chopped
  • 1 TBSP arrowroot powder or cornstarch

Ingredients – For the Stir Fry

  • 1 TBSP grapeseed or coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion (or 2 shallots, thinly sliced)
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped or julienned
  • 1 head broccoli, cut into bite-sized florets and pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas (a 15 oz. can drained and rinsed will do it)
  • Freshly cooked rice
  • 1 TBSP sesame seeds (I used toasted)
  • 1-2 fresh limes quartered
  • Garnish: chopped cilantro

Method

  1. Make the sauce: in a saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add ginger and garlic, and cook, stirring just until garlic starts to turn golden (about 1 minute). Stir in soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, and dates. Let simmer 3 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, whisk arrowroot or cornstarch with 1/3 cup water until smooth. Slowly stir the mixture into the simmering sauce. When the sauce begins to thicken (quick!), remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
  3. When the sauce is cool enough to handle, transfer sauce to a blender, and blend until smooth. Set aside.
  4. Make the stir fry: In a wok or skillet with a lid, heat oil over medium heat. When hot, add onions. Stir-fry for about 1 minute until softened. Add red pepper and carrots, cover and cook 5 minutes stirring occasionally. Stir in broccoli, chickpeas, and sauce, and cook, covered stirring occasionally, until vegetables are cooked to your liking (about 10 minutes).
  5. Serve over the cook rice, garnish with sesame seeds, fresh cilantro and lime wedges.

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