Spoonin' some slurpy stuff about the world's drippiest drool

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Vegetarian Challenge

I am a carnivore.  Scratch that.  I am an omnivore.  Except for liver.  Yuck. However, when two of my favorite people, who happen to be vegetarian, came to dinner last night, the bacon was put away, in favor of greener fare.  Interestingly, with meat off the ingredient list, the focus shifted from protein centric, to colors and textures.

The menu:

Buffalo ChickPea Dip (Thank you Becky Kirsten, I have made this three times since you sent the recipe!)

Butternut Squash Soup with Coconut Milk, Miso, and Lime
From Vegetable Literacy by Deborah Madison

1 butternut squash (about 2 pounds)
2 tablespoons light sesame oil
1 large onion, diced
1 heaping tablespoon peeled and chopped fresh ginger
2 teaspoons crushed Aleppo pepper (FYI, aleppo pepper is milder than crushed red pepper, if you plan to substitute, maybe reduce the quantity to 1 tsp)
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 cup cilantro stems or leaves, chopped, plus cilantro sprigs to finish
Sea salt
1 (15-ounce) can light coconut milk
Juice of 1 lime (since I was not smart enough to reduce the amount of crushed red pepper I used, I used 1 1/2 limes.  I also added some coconut palm sugar at the end)
1/2 cup white or brown basmati rice (next time I will use smoked basmati)
1 to 2 teaspoons coconut butter (I could not find coconut butter, so I processed coconut flakes with unrefined coconut oil, and voila, coconut butter)
2 tablespoons white miso

Smoked Sea Salt to taste

Cut the squash crosswise into 2 pieces just where the rounded (seed) end begins. Cut the rounded end in half lengthwise and start it steaming over simmering water while you go on to deal with the neck of the squash.
Peel the neck, slice it in half crosswise, then slice each half lengthwise into slabs about 3/8 inch thick. Cut the lengths into strips and then into 1/2-inch cubes. Heat the oil in a soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, squash, and ginger, stir to coat, and cook, stirring occasionally, for a few minutes. Add the Aleppo pepper, turmeric, chopped cilantro, and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Cook for another 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, and then add the coconut milk and 3 cups water. Bring to a boil, lower the heat to a simmer, and cook until the squash is tender, about 25 minutes.
Meanwhile, return to the seed end of the squash. As soon as it is tender, lift the pieces onto your counter, scrape out the seeds, and scoop out the flesh. Puree the flesh with 1 cup of the liquid from the soup, plus extra water (or coconut milk, if you have some on hand) if needed to achieve a good consistency. Stir the puree into the soup. Taste for salt and season with the lime juice, to taste.
To cook the rice, bring 1 cup water to a boil. Add the rice and 1/4 teaspoon salt and bring back to a boil. Turn down the heat to low, cover, and cook until done, about 15 minutes.
Toss the rice with the coconut butter to taste.
Just before serving, dilute the miso in little of the soup liquid, mashing it until smooth, then stir it into the soup. Heat the soup, keeping it just below a boil, then ladle it into bowls. Add a little rice to each bowl, and finish with cilantro sprigs and smoked sea salt.

Brussels Sprout Petals with Coriander Vinaigrette and Pickled Cranberries
From Patrick O'Connell's Refined American Cuisine - The Inn at Little Washington

I love everything about Patrick O'Connell - self taught chef, exquisite attention to detail and writes a cookbook that normal humans can use.

  • 12 ounces (1 bag) fresh cranberries, rinsed and picked over (I couldn't find fresh cranberries, so I used dried - truthfully, after a night soaking in brine, no difference.)
    1 1/4 cups sugar
    1 1/4 cups apple cider vinegar
    1/2 cup unsweetened apple cider
    1/2 cup water
    5 whole cloves
    1/4 teaspoon whole allspice
    1/4 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
    One 3-inch cinnamon stick
    1 teaspoon peeled, coarsely chopped ginger root
  • 1/4 cup dry vermouth or white wine
    1/2 medium onion, finely chopped (1/2 cup)
    2 small cloves garlic, minced
    1/2 teaspoon white wine vinegar
    1/4 cup water
    1/2 teaspoon coriander seed (toasted)
    1/4 teaspoon fennel seed (toasted)
    1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
    1/2 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
    1/4 teaspoon chopped thyme leaves
    1/2 bay leaf
    1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper, plus more as needed
  • 2 pounds Brussels sprouts, rinsed
    2 thickly sliced raw bacon, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces (vegetarian option - smoked, salted almonds)

For the cranberries: Combine the cranberries, sugar, vinegar, cider, water, cloves, allspice, peppercorns, cinnamon stick and ginger in a 4-quart saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a rapid boil. Remove the saucepan from the heat and allow the mixture to cool. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the berries to a plastic storage container. Add the cooking liquid to cover, then seal and refrigerate.

For the vinaigrette: Combine the vermouth or wine, the onion, garlic, vinegar and water in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, then remove from the heat.

Grind the coriander and fennel seed in a spice grinder or pepper mill and add to the saucepan along with the oil, lemon juice, thyme, bay leaf, and cracked pepper. Stir to combine, and allow to cool to room temperature. Season with salt and pepper as needed.

Use a paring knife to trim the ends off the Brussels sprouts and peel away the leaves (like removing the petals from a rose - only more annoying and time consuming).

Bring a large pot of salted water to a rapid boil over medium-high heat. Have ready a large bowl of ice water.

Add the Brussels sprout leaves to the water and cook for about 20 seconds. (They will turn bright green.) Pour the leaves into a colander and immediately plunge them into the ice water to stop the cooking. Allow the leaves to chill completely, then drain them and refrigerate until ready to serve. The leaves can be wrapped loosely in a dish towel or several layers of paper towels, placed inside a plastic bag and refrigerated for up to 1 day.

When ready to serve, line a plate with paper towels. Cook the bacon in a small skillet over medium-high heat until it is crisp, then transfer to the paper towels to drain. Allow to cool for a few minutes.

Combine the Brussels sprout leaves in a large salad bowl with the bacon, 1 cup of the pickled cranberries (avoid transferring the whole spices - biting down on a whole clove does not add to the dining experience.) and just enough of the vinaigrette to thinly coat the leaves. (Discard the bay leaf.) You may will have some leftover vinaigrette to keep for another use.

Wild Mushroom Napoleons

Also from The Inn at Little Washington cookbook


¼cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
½teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
½teaspoon chopped fresh parsley
½teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
3sheets phyllo dough
¼cup clarified butter
Mushroom Sauce:
1pound white button mushrooms, cleaned and roughly chopped
6tablespoons cold butter
½cup water
For Sherry Vinaigrette:
2tablespoons Dijon mustard
½tablespoon chopped shallot
½teaspoon minced garlic
tablespoons dry sherry
cup sherry vinegar
1cup salad oil
cup olive oil
¼cup walnut oil
salt and freshly ground pepper
To Serve:
½cup olive oil
pounds assorted wild mushrooms (such as shiitake, chanterelle, morel or oyster), cut into bite-size pieces
2tablespoons chopped shallots
1teaspoon chopped garlic
salt and freshly ground black pepper
¼cup Sherry Vinaigrette (see above)
1head frisee lettuce, leaves separated
6sprigs fresh parsley


Preheat oven to 375°. Line baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside. In small bowl, combine Parmesan and chopped herbs. On cutting board, lay out 1sheet of dough, brush with butter and sprinkle half Parmesan-herb mixture evenly over top. (Keep remaining phyllo covered with damp paper towel.) Place second sheet of phyllo on top, brush with butter and sprinkle with remaining cheese-herb mixture. Place third sheet on top and brush with butter. Chill layered phyllo in refrigerator until butter is firm, about 10 minutes. Using sharp knife, cut phyllo into 3" squares. Place squares on baking sheet and bake until golden brown, about 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from oven and cool. Store in airtight container at room temperature until ready to serve.
Mushroom Sauce: Place mushrooms in food processor and pulse until finely chopped. In large sauce pan over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Add mushrooms and saute 1 minute. Add water and bring to boil. Cover saucepan, remove it from heat and steep 15 minutes. Strain through fine sieve, pressing firmly to extract as much flavor as possible; discard mushrooms. Return liquid to saucepan, reduce heat to simmer and whisk in remaining cold butter, 1 tablespoon at a time. Season with salt. If desired, buzz sauce before serving with hand held blender to create cappuccino-like froth.
To Serve: Place olive oil in large saute pan over high heat. Add mushrooms, lower heat to medium and saute 2 minutes. Add shallots, garlic and season with salt and pepper; cook 3 minutes or until mushrooms are lightly browned and shallots are translucent. Place in mixing bowl and toss with half of vinaigrette. In another bowl, toss frisee with remaining vinaigrette.
Place 1/4 cup mushrooms mixture in center of each of 6 warm serving plates, sprinkle with some dressed frisee and cover with phyllo crisp. Place another 1/4 cup mushroom mixture on top of crisp on each p late. Cover each with second crisp and top with another 1/4 cup mushroom mixture. Spoon Mushroom Sauce around each plate and garnish with remaining frisee and parsley.

Carmelized Banana Tart
Yup, Patrick O'Connell again

Roasted Banana Pastry Cream

1 Tbsn of vegetable oil
2 ripe bananas, unpeeled
2 1/4 C milk
2/3 C sugar
2 eggs
4 egg yolks
1/4 C all purpose flour
4 Tbsn unsalted butter
2 Tbsn banana liqueur (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Lightly oil the bananas in their skins, and place them on a baking sheet. Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until the skins are blackened. Remove the bananas from the oven and peel. Puree in a food processor.

In a medium size saucepan, bring the banana puree, milk and 1/3C of sugar to a boil over medium heat and set aside.

In a stainless steel saucepan, whisk the eggs, egg yolks, flour and remaining sugar together. Slowly whisk in the hot milk and banana mixture. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until the mixture thickens and just comes to a boil. Remove from the heat.

Whisk in the butter and banana liqueur.

Refrigerate until ready to use.


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Everyone has their own pie dough recipe - mine is to go to the store and buy Pillsbury roll out pie crusts. Whatever you use, make it, roll it out on a floured board to about 1/8" thick. At this point, you can do what I did, and make one big tart, or, be industrious, and cut out 5" round individual tarts.

Bake for 10 -12 minutes until crisp and golden brown. Cool.

To Serve

6 ripe bananas
6 Tbsn sugar
1/4 C macadamia nuts, toasted and roughly chopped (I used hazelnuts - Macadamias make my eyes swell shut)
Coconut Ice Cream

Spread about 1 1/2 Tbsn of pastry cream over each round (or evenly over large tart).

Peel and slice bananas at an angle. Arrange them in a single layer of concentric circles on top of pastry cream.

Sprinkle evenly with sugar.

If you have a blowtorch, great. Use it. Otherwise, place under the broiler, 4-6" away from the flame, for about 2 minutes, until the sugar melts and carmelizes. Let cool to allow sugar to harden. Sprinkle with macadamia nuts.

Serve with coconut ice cream.


Wednesday, January 1, 2014

German Pancake

Many years ago I received a one year subscription to Taste of Home magazine. Down home cooking by down home cooks. Lots of butter, meat and casseroles. Not my usual approach to cooking, but lots of comforting, fat filled flavor. One recipe, however, has become a Christmas morning staple; the German pancake.

Not one bit pancakey, this eggy, fluffy delight, dusted with confectioners sugar and doused with a buttermilk syrup that really should be illegal, is how we have celebrated Christmas morning for more than a decade.

This year, breakfast included a tart sautéed apple dish-
(I left out the raisins), fresh squeezed orange juice (by hand, by Jacob) and Canadian bacon. And coffee. Really strong, thick coffee, made by yours truly, because for all the cooking I do, I have yet to perfect the chemical miracle that is coffee.

German Pancake

6 eggs
1 cup 2% milk
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter, melted

1-1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup butter
2 tablespoons corn syrup
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Confectioners' sugar

In a blender, combine the eggs, milk, flour and salt; cover and process until smooth.
Pour the butter into an ungreased 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish; add the batter. Bake, uncovered, at 400° for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine the first five syrup ingredients; bring to a boil. Boil for 7 minutes. Remove from the heat; stir in vanilla. Dust pancake with confectioners' sugar; serve immediately with the syrup. Yield: 8 servings (about 2 cups syrup).

I have no comments, none. This recipe is perfect as is.

Happy New Year!

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Location:S Adams St,Rockville,United States