Monthly Archives: September 2009
|September 30, 2009||Posted by Lauren Keating under Beef, Lamb, and Pork, Fall, Light, Mexican and Southwestern, Winter|
For the past few years, as soon as the cool weather sets in and apples and squash start appearing in the markets we start talking about having pumpkin polenta for dinner. I love the way the creamy polenta contrasts with the spicy topping. Its also extremely fast and easy to make – about 20 minutes start to finish! The dish also benefits from sitting in the fridge overnight – the polenta ill firm up and the flavors in the topping meld together. I recommend making extra so that you can have leftovers for lunch.
This is actually one of the first recipes I posted on this blog way back when. As you can see, I’m still making it and it’s still one of our favorites. The recipe here is slightly different, and I recommend checking out the older version too. In that version, I use ground chicken and spices instead of chorizo and mix mozzarella into the polenta. Both recipes are delicious, and they each have their own strengths – I mix it up depending on my mood and on what I have in the kitchen. And I’ll be nice an give credit where credit is due – even though its from a very unlikely source for me: this is based on a recipe from Rachel Ray. What can I say? She’s not my favorite, but she does occasionally have a good recipe.
I’ve mentioned this before, but I like to buy big bags of dried black beans (they’re so cheap!) and cook up big batches that I break up and freeze. That means that I almost always have delicious beans on hand, and I can control the sodium level (unlike canned beans). One trick that I’ve learned for cooking dried beans is that if you leave the cover off the pan while they simmer you’ll end up with more “bite” to the bean, and if you cover them while they cook they’ll get very soft and almost mushy. For freezing, I like to cook them with the cover off. That way if I want a softer bean in my final dish I can cover them while I reheat them, but the option still remains for a firmer bean. In this dish, I like to keep the beans on the firmer side, so that there is some textural contrast with the soft polenta.
- 1 Tbsp butter
- 3 cups chicken stock
- 1 cup cornmeal
- 1 cup canned pumpkin
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 1/2 onion, chopped
- 2 links chorizo, casing removed and crumbled*
- 1 Tbs apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 2 cups black beans
- 1/4 cup cotija cheese
Add butter and chicken stock to a medium saucepan set over high heat. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, and add cornmeal and pumpkin. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens and becomes smooth (be very careful during this step! The mixture will bubble and pop and its very hot if it splashes on you!)
Meanwhile, set a sautee pan over medium heat. Add oil. When oil is heated, add the onions and cook until they begin to soften. Add the chorizo, and cook through. Add the vinegar, cumin, cinnamon, and beans. Cover and cook until heated through – about 5 minutes if cooking from frozen.
To serve, divide polenta between dishes. Top with the chorizo and bean mixture. Sprinkle the cheese over it all.
Approx. 288 calories, 12 grams fat, 7.8 grams fiber, 12.6 grams protein
* Use unsmoked Mexican chorizo for this dish. If you have trouble finding this or don’t eat pork, try the ground chicken and spices listed in the older version of this recipe.
|September 29, 2009||Posted by Lauren Keating under Desserts, Fall, Fruit, Vegetarian or Vegan|
I’m really not happy with how the photos of this came out, but I promised you that I would post it today so please believe me when I say that it tasted much better than it looks here.
One of my first ideas when vols-au-vent were announced as this month’s Daring Bakers challenge was to use apples. It’s the perfect time of year for them, and I wanted to highlight their natural sweetness. Instead of using a traditional pastry cream or custard, I used a cream cheese base. The tartness of the cream cheese paired perfectly with the sweet apples and made a delicious dessert that wasn’t too sugary-sweet.
Unless you’re feeling particularly brave or adventurous, I would just just make this with prepared puff pasty. If you do want to take the plunge and make your own though I do have a few tips that I left out of yesterday’s post: The dough is easy t wrk with when its well-chilled, but it becomes a nightmare as it warms up. The refrigerator is your friend! In addition to chilling my dough in between turns, I also found it helpful to chill my rolling pin – I just put it right in the fridge! I also thought it would help to have a cool surface to roll the pastry out on – since I don’t have a marble slab like was recommended, I used two metal cookie sheets. I stuck those right in the fridge too, which kept them cool and prevents the butter from getting too soft while I was working with it.
Apple and Cream Cheese Vols-au-Vent
- 2 apples, peeled, cored, and cut into wedges
- 1 tsp butter
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- pinch sugar
- 2 Tbs water
- 2 ounces cream cheese
- 2 Tbs sour cream
- 2 Tbs sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla
- vols-au-vent shells
Melt butter in a small saucepan. Add apples. Toss with cinnamon and a pinch of sugar. Add water, and allow to cook for about 5 minutes, or until tender-crisp and slightly syrupy. Remove from heat.
Meanwhile, combine cream cheese, sour cream, sugar, and vanilla, blending until smooth. Chill until ready to serve. To serve, spoon cream cheese mixture into pastry shells. Top with apples. This is delicious with the apples served either warm or chilled!
|September 27, 2009||Posted by Lauren Keating under Beef, Lamb, and Pork, Special Occasions, Weekend Meals|
I can’t believe its time for this month’s Daring Bakers post already! I kind of let this month get away from me, and I ended up not completing this month’s challenge until the day that it was due. But better late than never, right? I’ll admit that part of the reason I was so late was that I was really intimidated by this challenge – homemade puff pastry? Are you kidding me? In addition to procrastinating because of that, they also gave us options. I am not good with options! I couldn’t decide what to do – I had so many ideas and couldn’t even decide if I wanted to go sweet or savory. I ultimately ended up doing both, but my sweet version is for another day (tomorrow….)
The September 2009 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Steph of A Whisk and a Spoon. She chose the French treat, Vols-au-Vent based on the Puff Pastry recipe by Michel Richard from the cookbook Baking With Julia by Dorie Greenspan.
Once I got over the initial intimidation of making puff pastry, I realized that it isn’t that different from making croissants. Both of these essentially use the same principle as making a flaky pie crust: butter is incorporated into the dough but is left in little pieces. The butter melts in the oven and creates steam pockets, which end up being your flakes. To shape the pastry into vols-au-vent, you just stack a ring shape on top of a circle. It really wasn’t that difficult, although I think I incorporated my butter a little too well (I halved the recipe, but didn’t take that into account when I was rolling the pastry to do the folds, so it ended up too thin). This meant that it didn’t puff quite as much as I would have liked it to, but it was still delicious.
For my savory version, I decided to use a Cornish pasty inspired filling. The one I at in Bermuda reminded me how much I love them, and the puff pastry seemed like it would be an ok substitute for the traditional pastry. It also seemed like it would be pretty easy to make, and since I was putting so much effort into the vols-au-vent (which honestly weren’t as difficult as they were time consuming) I didn’t want the filling to be complicated. I think this was a great filling choice, and the final dish was delicious.
Cornish Pastry Vols-au-Vent
- 1 recipe vols-au-vent (below)
- 1/2 lb. lean ground beef
- 1 turnip, diced
- 2 carrots, peeled and diced
- 1/2 onion, diced
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 1 Tbs parsley, chopped
- salt and pepper
Fill a saucepan with a steamer insert with water and bring to a boil. Add the carrots and turnips and steam until just tender – about 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat beef and onions in a skillet over medium heat. Season with salt and lots of pepper. When the beef is fully cooked, stir in the carrots, turnips, peas, and parsley. Cook another minutes or until, until peas are brought to temperature. Serve in vols-au-vent shells.
|September 25, 2009||Posted by Lauren Keating under Fruit, Lent, Light, Quick Weeknight Meals, Sides, Vegetarian or Vegan|
Do you ever hear something, and all of a sudden decide that’s what you want to make even if it’s really random? That’s what happened with this couscous – someone on facebook wrote that they were having couscous for dinner, and all of a sudden I couldn’t get it out of my head. I’d also been thinking a lot about the combination of apricots and pistachios since I saw a recipe for chocolate bark that included the two of them. I decided that they would go great in the couscous. And you know what? I was right. This dish was absolutely amazing! AND it cooked up in about 15 minutes.
This isn’t the prettiest dish on earth: I used whole wheat couscous for this, which I found in the bulk bins at the co-op. It tasted great – I actually think I prefer it to regular couscous – but it does make the final dish a little brown. The seasonings also contribute to the brownish color, but the combination of cinnamon and allspice was wonderful and perfect for fall. I also used unsulfered apricots – these don’t have the pretty peachy color of sulfite-treated apricots, but they taste just the same and tey haven’t been treated with chemicals.
All of the flavors in this come together to fill your mouth with a wonderful aroma. I had initially planned for this to be a side dish, but I messed up the lamb that I was planning to serve it with. I was out of the seasonings that I had planned to use, forgot to glaze it with honey like I had planned, and overcooked it until it basically tasted liek shoe leather. What a waste of lamb! But it was ok, because this couscous was fabulous and I was perfectly happy having it on its own (for dinner I had two servings). The leftovers also made a great lunch the next day. I’ll definitely be making this one again!
Moroccan Couscous with Pistachio and Apricot
- 1.5 cups vegetable stock
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 1 ounce dried apricots, diced
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 6 whole allspice
- 1 cup whole wheat couscous
- 1 ounce shelled pistachios, roughly chopped
- 4 green onions, chopped
- 6 basil leaves, chopped
- 1 Tbs fresh lemon juice.
In a medium saucepan combine stock, olive oil, cinnamon, allspice, and apricots. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat and add couscous. Cover and let sit for 5 minutes or until all of th liquid has absorbed. Meanwhile, gently toast your pistachios in a skillet over high heat. Fluff couscous with a fork and stir in pistachios, green onions, and lemon juice.
Approx. 150 calories, 3 grams fat, 2.5 grams fiber, 4.8 grams protein
|September 24, 2009||Posted by Lauren Keating under Beef, Lamb, and Pork, Sandwiches, Weekend Meals|
Pulled pork is a funny thing – it’s one of the first things I look to eat as the weather begins to warm up in the spring, but it’s also perfect for a chilly Fall evening spent at home watching football. Although I usually go for a more traditional barbecue sauce,or a fruiter smokey mango sauce, the mustard glazed ribs I made earlier this summer inspired me to mix things up this time and go with a Carolina-style pulled pork. Cooked all day in the crockpot, it made the house smell wonderful and only required a few minutes on hands-on time. The recipe also made a TON of pork, so that combined with the ease of preparation makes it a great dish for entertaining.
I started with a simple spice rub – it never ceases to amaze me how these relatively boring spices combine to form the unmistakeable flavor of barbecue. As soon as they’re mixed together to form a rub, there’s no question as to what your making. This blend goes equally as well with a mustard based sauce as with a tomato based sauce, which is nice because it gives you options. If you want to have a sandwich the next day but you don’t want to feel like you’re eating leftovers, just change out the sauce! Since the recipes yields so much, you can also freeze some of the pork and pull it out to use with whatever sauce you want later on.
Since pulled pork isn’t the healthiest thing on the planet, I balanced out my plate by eating mine open-faced on just half a roll and serving kale chips on the side. Together, it made a perfect meal!
Also, I also used Reynolds slow cooker liners for the first time when I made this – where have these been all my life?! I bought them forever ago but kept forgetting to use them. They really dead make clean up super easy.
Bourbon-Mustard Pulled Pork
- 1 Tbs smoked paprika
- 1 tsp dry mustard
- 1 tsp sage
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 4.5 pound boneless pork shoulder (sometimes sold as pork butt)
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 1/2 cup bourbon
- 1 Tbs Dijon mustard
- 2 tsp molasses
- 1 onion, thinly sliced
- 1 tsp liquid smoke
- 1 habenero, seeded and chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled
Combine paprika, sage, mustard, salt and pepper in a small dish. Rub over all sides of pork. Set a large, heavy pan over medium heat. Sear pork on all sides until browned. Transfer to crock pot.
Whisk together stock, bourbon, mustard, an molasses. Pour over the pork. Add remaining ingredients to the crock pot. Cover and cook on high for 6 hours. By this time the pork should be extremely tender and should shred easily with a fork. Use a slotted spoon to transfer shredded pork to a serving dish, discarding the cooking liquid.
Serve with mustard sauce (below)
Yields approx. 17 3-ounce servings
Approx. 295 calories, 16 grams fat, 0 grams fiber, 30.5 grams protein
- 1/2 cup dry mustard
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 3 Ts brown sugar
- 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- dash cayenne
Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan. Whisk until smooth. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and let simmer for 20 minutes.
Yields approx. 1 cup sauce
|September 22, 2009||Posted by Lauren Keating under Breads, Cake and Pastry, Fall, Light, Vegetarian or Vegan, Winter|
Happy Fall!! For those of us in the northern hemisphere, fall officially starts tonight at 5:18 – not that I’m counting or anything. As soon as the chilly weather starts, I begin to crave pumpkin but I’ve been resisting the urge for a few weeks now. I’ve had a few pumpkin spice lattes from Starbucks, but I hadn’t actually opened a can of pumpkin at home. Until now. Now that it’s actually fall, I can eat all the pumpkin I want.I already have more planned for later this week.
I don’t usually experiment very much when it comes to baked goods since its so easy to mess them up, but this was a new creation. And it was a success! I wanted to bake something that would make the house smell fabulous, and I couldn’t decide between pumpkin bread or gingerbread. Finally, I decided to combine them since the flavors seemed like they would go well together. The resulting cake is very dense and spicy like gingerbread, but the pumpkin keeps it extremely moist and gives it an extra layer of flavor. And ever better- you only need to dirty one bowl, one measuring cup (1/4 cup) and two spoons!
This is delicious on it’s own but for a special treat, try slathering a piece with some lemon curd or apple butter.Yum!
- 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup whole white wheat flour
- 1/4 cup dark molasses
- 1/4 cup warm water
- 2 Tbs brown sugar
- 3 Tbs pumpkin
- 1 egg white
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp grated ginger
- 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
- dash salt
Heat over to 350. Spray a loaf pan with cooking spray.
Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Mix well until everything is combined and a smooth batter is formed. Pour into pan.
Bake 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Approx 130 calories, 0 grams fat, 1 gram fiber, 2.5 grams protein
Check out my latest recipe over at The Mushroom Channel: Mushroom Risotto with Acorn Squash and Duck Confit