Quote of the week

If we were not intended to eat extraordinary food, we would not have been given such extraordinary senses of taste and smell.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Holiday Wow In A Puff Pastry Pillow (vegetarian)

Savory butternut Squash Turnovers
Butternut Squash Turnovers courtesy of Jeremy Sommer via Food&Wine

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 large leek, white parts ply, cut into 1 inch dice
1/2 pound shitake mushrooms, stems discarded and caps sliced 1/4 inch think
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh thyme
salt and pepper

2 pounds butternut squash-peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2 inch dice
14ounces puff pastry, thawed, if frozen
3/4 pounds goat cheese
1 large egg, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 375º. In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add diced leeks and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add shitake and cook, stirring often, until the liquid has evaporated, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and thyme and stir, cooking for two minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper, put in bowl and set aside.

Lin large rimmed dish with parchment paper. In a large bowl, toss squash with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Spread out squash and bake for 25 minutes or until softened and starting to brown. Remove from oven and add squash to the leek and mushroom mixture and toss.

Line another large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. On a lightly floured work surface, gently roll out puff pastry into twelve 4-inch squares. Spoon squash mixture (about 2 tbsp) into center or each square and add 2 tbsp of goat cheese. Lightly brush the edges of the squares with the beaten egg. Fold the squares over to form triangles and crimp the edges decoratively with a fork.

Arrange turnovers on parchment lined baking sheet, about an 1/2 inch apart. Brush with egg and bake until golden brown. Approximately 20-22 minutes.

***Note form laf kitchen***
These can easily be made into appetizer size but cutting the squares in half. I find it easier to fill the smaller squares by pureeing the squash mixture, adding 2 tablespoons of cream.
then use a piping bag or Ziploc with a tip cut off to pipe the squash mixture into the squares and then add goat cheese. These are good warm and room temperature.

Bacon, Fennel and Apple Chutney

When you are planning a holiday party, it is important to mix things up and create dishes that can be mixed and matched. This is a recipe for a chutney that can be served alone or served with cheese or with pork.
Another treat from Food&Wine

Bacon, Fennel and Apple Chutney courtesy of Ben Towill

1/2 lb applewood smoked bacon, cut into 1/2 inch dice
1/2 medium onion, cut into 1/2 inch dice
1 medium fennel bulb-halved, cored and cut into 1/2 inch dice-plus 1 tablespoon chopped fennel fronds
2 thyme sprigs
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 granny smith apple-peeled, cored and cut into 1/2 inch dice
1 teaspoon ground fennel seeds
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon sugar (I never add as much sugar, but I prefer tart)
salt and pepper

30 baguette slices, brushed with olive oil and toasted

Heat a large skillet, add bacon and cook over moderate heat until crisp, about for-5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towels to drain. Pour off all but 3 tablespoons of fat from the skillet.

Add onion to skillet and cook over moderate heat until softened, about 3 minutes. Add fennel, thyme, garlic and apple. Cover and cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 8 minutes. Add lemon juice and zest, sugar(if you add it) and fennel fronds. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper. Let cool to room temperature. Discard the thyme sprigs and add bacon. Mix well and serve with baguette rounds.

***Notes from laf kitchen***

This chutney is delightful on it's own, but we happened to have Glouchester Huntsman cheese as well, and may I say YOU MUST TRY THIS COMBINATION!!! This is the picture above.

Impressing the in-laws

So we were set to go and spend Thanksgiving with Carolyn's family this year. After the goodies we put up last year, we were immediately assigned appetizers this year. and yes, assigned. Carolyn has a very organized family. Last year we got a spread sheet to identify everyone's duties. It keeps things entertaining in the large family of seven children.
so, with our assignment, the brain went into overdrive. You know, you can't make the same things as last year. There is an expectation to wow, right? (okay, so it's my expectation, but still...) So I start looking around for fun new festive ideas. I came across the Food & Wine Thanksgiving appetizer page on the internet. SCORE!!!!! So I planned on making a lovely Autumnal spread for the family gathering, then boom! Carolyn is just not feeling well. We stay home. So what to I do with all of my exciting new recipes? Make them all anyway. I had a delightful spread laid out before me, and the sometimes conscious Carolyn for our Thanksgiving nosh. These little babies were so yummy and beautiful, I had to share. So if you are looking for something to impress the in-laws, or any holiday party, here are a couple of appetizers to knock their socks off!!

Warm Camembert with a Wild Mushroom Fricassee

  This recipe is from the amazing Daniel Boulud via Food & Wine

1/2 cups walnut pieces
1 8-ounce wheel of ripe room temperature Camembert in it's wooden box
1 tablespoon of walnut oil
3/4 pound wild mushrooms, trimmed, caps thinly sliced
salt and pepper
1 shallot, minced
2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley
2 large sage leaves minced

sourdough toasts for serving

Preheat oven to 350º. Spread walnut pieces on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for about 7 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove and set aside. Lower the oven temperature to 300º

Remove camembert from box, unwrap and return to the bottom half of box and set on a baking sheet. Place in 300º oven for about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat walnut oil. Add mushrooms and season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Uncover and cook until lightly brown, stirring, for about 3 minutes longer. Add shallot and cook until softened, around 2 minutes. Stir in parsley and sage; season with salt and pepper.

Invert the Camembert onto a platter. Stir the walnuts into the mushroom and spoon over the cheese. Serve with toasts.

***notes from the laf kitchen***
A good quality olive oil can be substituted.
When choosing wild mushrooms, I used portabello, oyster, shitake and wood ear. I will skip the wood ear next time. They were almost too earthy and a bit overpowering, and tend to be best in asian style soups and stews where they can really soak and soften for a long time.