Beet Roasting 101

Beet Roasting 101

Market Vegetables

Market Vegetables

It’s fall and a time when produce looks so appealing to me. While at the market yesterday, I picked some gorgeous vegetables that just begged for me to roast them…well, they may not have been begging, but they looked perfect for a slow stay in my oven.

Raw Beets in Foil

Raw Beets in Foil

Beets roasted at home are nothing like the pickled, over-cooked beets our moms forced us to eat as kids. While nothing could be easier than roasting beets at home, the deep, sweet and earthy flavors that develop are perfect for many cooking applications. My favorite – beet salad with tangy goat cheese. Yum!

Ingredients

  • 4-6 medium beets (golden or red), washed and stems trimmed
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ½ tsp. each thyme, salt and pepper
Peeling Beets with Paper Towels

Peeling Beets with Paper Towels

Roasted Beets

Roasted Beets

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Place the beets on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Bring up the ends of the foil to create a packet for the beets. Drizzle with olive oil, thyme, salt and pepper. Wrap the foil over the beets and roast for 30 – 45 minutes, depending on the size of the beets. When cooked, a knife inserted in the beets should go in with ease.
  3. Let the beets to cool for about 5 minutes, then, using paper towels, rub the skins off the beets. Discard the peels and allow to cool completely.
  4. Beets can be roasted 3 days before using if stored in the refrigerator, wrapped in foil.

4 side servings.

Duck Fat and Bacon Fingerling Potatoes

Duck Fat and Bacon Fingerling Potatoes

Fried Fingerling PotatoesOkay, don’t freak out yet about the title of this recipe. You’re not eating the whole recipe, just one of 6 servings!

These are easy to make, pretty darn tasty and go a long way in satisfying your guests, even with a small portion.

Bacon Frying

 

 

Ingredients

  • 2 quarts water
  • 2 Tbsp. Kosher salt
  • 2 pounds fingerling potatoes, cleaned and halved
  • 6 strips bacon
  • 4 Tbsp. duck fat (could use butter)
  • ½ tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. fresh thyme, chopped
  • Generous pinch of sea salt

Frying Fingerling PotatoesDirections

  1. In a large pot, combine the water, salt and potatoes and bring to a boil over high heat. Cook until the potatoes are barely fork-tender, approximately 15 to 20 minutes.
  2. While the potatoes are boiling, fry the bacon strips in a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat for 5-7 or until browned and crisp. Place the cooked bacon on paper towels, allow to cool for 5 minutes, then chop into bite-size pieces (I use kitchen shears for this task) – reserve for later use. In the skillet, remove all but about 2 tablespoons of bacon drippings. Reserve remaining drippings in the skillet for later use.
  3. Remove the boiled potatoes from the pot to a cooling rack and let stand for 5 to 7 minutes.
  4. While the potatoes are drying and cooling, add the duck fat to the bacon drippings in the skillet over medium-high heat. Add the boiled potatoes, the pepper and the thyme. Fry for 7-10 minutes or until golden brown, turning the potatoes to allow browning on all sides.
  5. Remove the browned potatoes from the skillet to a paper towel-lined bowl using a slotted spoon, letting most of the fat drip off. Let the paper towels absorb some of the fat for 1 minute (no more or it’ll cause the potatoes to turn soggy) then immediately place the potatoes in a serving bowl and toss gently with the chopped bacon and a sprinkling of sea salt.

Makes about 6 servings (side dish).

Grilled Salmon Caprese Salad

Grilled Salmon Caprese Salad

Salmon Caprese SaladThis week, I posted a picture of a light lunch I’d made for myself and I received so many requests for the recipe that I thought I’d do a quick recap.

Seared Salmon

Seared Salmon

First of all, this isn’t really a “recipe”, it’s more of a tasty idea for a quick and easy summer salad. I like to grill a few salmon filets and used them in salads to help me have something of sustenance while on my silly low-carb diet. It’s also a great way to use up all those tomatoes in your gardens come late summer.

Ingredients:

  • 6-ounce salmon filet, skin on one side
  • 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • Big pinch of salt and pepper for the salmon
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 4 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • ½ Tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • ½ tsp. each salt, pepper and Oregano
  • 20 pear or cherry tomatoes, halved or 2 medium-sized tomatoes, cut into bite-size chuncks
  • 10 Bonconcini fresh Mozzarella balls halved or a couple slices of fresh Mozzarella, cubed

 

Grape Tomatoes

Grape Tomatoes

Directions:

  1. Coat the salmon with oil then rub the salt and pepper over it.
  2. Heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat and place the salmon, flesh-side down, in it. Cook without disturbing for 3 minutes. Carefully flip the fish with a thin spatula and cook skin-side down for 4 minutes. Set aside to cool for 15 minutes and refrigerate wrapped in foil for up to a day if not using right away.
  3. In a glass jar with a tight-fitted lid, add the ¼ cup of oil, the vinegar, the mustard and the remaining salt, pepper and the Oregano. Close the lid and shake vigorously. Alternatively, whisk all the ingredients in a small bowl. Refrigerate for up to 3 days if not using right away.
  4. In a serving bowl, add the tomatoes, cheese and the vinaigrette. Combine gently. Using your fingers, break off bite-size pieces of salmon into the bowl. Toss the salmon with the other ingredients gently. Serve at once.

Makes one serving.

Fiori Di Zucchine – Fried Zucchini Blossoms

Fiori Di Zucchine – Fried Zucchini Blossoms

Zucchini blossoms

Fresh Blossoms

Saturday night, I had the pleasure of dining at The Orange Squirrel in Bloomfield, NJ again. It had been several months since I had eaten Chef Francesco Palmieri’s inventive and flavorful creations and once again, it was a great meal.

zucchini blossoms

Blossom Dredging

I absolutely adore zucchini blossoms and was thrilled to also see them served up as an amuse-bouche paired with a roasted plum topped with a hazelnut and Gorgonzola Dolce. It was a simply-presented dish yet it was complex in texture and flavor. When Chef Palmieri came out of the kitchen to present the amuse, I am certain he could see my enthusiasm for the blossoms and gave me a box of fresh blooms to take home when I left. What an amazing treat! The blossoms, much like most of the produce at The Orange Squirrel, are sourced from the Palmieri garden just a few blocks away from the restaurant.

zucchini blossoms

Blossom Frying

I left with my box of blooms like a kid leaving a candy store and I knew I would need to create something special with such a precious present. I opted for Fried Zucchini Blossoms – perhaps the most amazing fried food item ever.

Ingredients:

  • Any neutral-flavor vegetable oil (I use canola)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 12 ounces club soda, chilled
  • 12-24 zucchini blossoms
  • Sea salt
zucchini blossoms

Fried Blossoms

Directions:

  1. In a deep, heavy pot, bring about 2″ of oil to 350 degrees (use a candy/deep fry thermometer).
  2. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour and the salt. Add the club soda to the flour mixture, whisking until just incorporated with a few lumps. Over-whisking is not your friend here.
  3. Remove the stamens from the blossoms then dip each one in the batter, making sure to allow any excess batter to drip off. The goal is a thin coating.
  4. Place a few blossoms in the hot oil, ensuring the pot is not over-crowded causing the temperature to drop. Cool oil = greasy fried foods. Cook the blossoms for 3 minutes, turning them once, then remove them to a paper towel-lined place. Immediately sprinkle sea salt on the blossoms as they come out of the oil.

Batter is enough for up to 24 blossoms.

Cabot Creamery Seriously Sharp Cheddar Mac N Cheese

Cabot Creamery Seriously Sharp Cheddar Mac N Cheese

Mac n CheeseI make macaroni and cheese using various cheeses and featuring other decadent ingredients (see Porcini and Lobster Macaroni and Cheese) but for cook outs and casual get-togethers, I love the flavor of Cabot Creamery’s Seriously Sharp Cheddar. Crusted with a Panko topping, this mac n cheese gets rave reviews every time.

Ingredients:

  • ½ stick (4 Tbsp.) butter
  • 4 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp. each, ground nutmeg, salt and pepper
  • 4 cups whole milk or light cream
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 4 cups freshly grated Cabot Seriously Sharp Cheddar
  • 1 ½ pounds tubular pasta (I use Barilla Cellentani) cooked 2 minutes less than recommended on package directions, drained

Topping Ingredients:

  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 cup Panko bread crumbs
  • ½ tsp. cayenne pepper

Mac n Cheese MakingPasta Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Place butter in a large saucepan and melt over medium heat. Add flour and cook for 2 minutes, whisking constantly. Season with nutmeg, salt and pepper.
  3. Stir the milk (or light cream) and the heavy cream into the butter/flour mixture and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 5 minutes, whisking often.
  4. Slowly add the cheeses, a handful at a time, and stir until fully incorporated.
  5. Add the drained pasta to the cheese sauce and mix well.
  6. Add cheesy pasta to a 13×9 baking dish.

Topping Directions:

  1. Microwave butter in a small dish for 45 seconds. Add Panko and cayenne pepper and stir to incorporate the butter and create a crumbly mixture.
  2. Sprinkle Panko mixture over pasta in an even layer.
  3. Bake pasta for 15 minutes until Panko topping has lightly browned. Serve at once.

Makes 8 servings.

Rosemary and Lemon Compound Butter

Rosemary and Lemon Compound Butter

Compound Butter DisksI just love having compound butter on hand for summer grill outs. Compound butter is made by whipping softened butter with herbs or other condiments to boost flavor in food. I’ve played around with add-ons like minced garlic, chopped anchovies (great on grilled romaine lettuce) and various herbs.

This version of compound butter uses lemon zest and chopped rosemary as the flavor enhancers and it’s delicious over grilled steaks.

Ingredients:

  • 2 sticks of butter, softened
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 1 Tbsp. dried rosemary, chopped
  • ½ tsp. each salt and pepper

Compound ButterDirections:

  1. In a small bowl, whip the butter using a fork. Add the zest and the spices and whip some more to fully incorporate the aromatics into the butter.
  2. Lay two 12-inch sheets of wax paper or plastic wrap on a work surface. Divide the butter mixture between the two sheets and start to wrap the butter to form logs (think sushi roll or jelly roll).
  3. Place the two rolls in the refrigerator for at least four hours (if using within a couple days) or the freezer (if using at a later time).
  4. To use, unwrap the wax paper or plastic wrap and slice the butter in ½” slabs.

Makes about 30 butter slices.

Pork Belly Deviled Eggs

Pork Belly Deviled Eggs

Pork Belly Deviled EggsI love deviled eggs and think they have a place at most parties whether upscale (think caviar-topped eggs) to casual (served plain) to quirky, which I’d consider this pork belly version.

Directions:

  1. Slice the eggs in half horizontally, carefully remove the yolks and place in a small bowl. Add the mustard, Mayonnaise, Paprika, Sriracha, salt and pepper to the yolks. Mash the mixture using a fork until smooth.
  2. Fill the egg white cavities with the egg yolk mixture (can use a pastry bag and tip to make the presentation fancier).
  3. Top each egg half with a piece of pork belly.

Makes 12 deviled egg halves.

Crispy Pork Belly

Crispy Pork Belly

Belly in Water

Belly in Water

This pork belly recipe can be used in many ways, so feel free to experiment. I especially enjoy it in a slider, in a bowl of ramen noodle soup or on deviled eggs.

Simmering Broth

Simmering Broth

Ingredients:

  • 2-pound pork belly
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup dry Sherry
  • 2-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and sliced in in a few pieces
  • ½ tsp. each ground clove and ground cinnamon
  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. Sriracha
  • 1 can of coca cola
  • 4 cups of water
Boiled Belly

Boiled Belly

Directions:

  1. Fill a large pot or Dutch oven to half full with water then bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and place the pork belly in the pot. Cook for 5 minutes then remove to a plate, drain the pot and clean it.
  2. To the same pot, add the brown sugar, Sherry, ginger, spices, soy sauce, Sriracha, cola and water. Bring the broth to a simmer. Cut the par-boiled pork belly in 2-inch pieces and add to the broth. Turn the heat to low, cover the pot and cook for 3 hours, gently stirring occasionally.
  3. Turn the oven to the broil. Line a couple baking sheets with foil.
  4. Using thongs, carefully remove the pork belly pieces letting them drain off the thongs a few seconds. Reserve the broth.
  5. Place the belly on the foil-lined baking sheets and place under the broiler for 5 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and spoon a teaspoon of the broth on each piece.
  6. Use as desired or eat right away.
Ingredient Spotlight – Spaghetti Squash

Ingredient Spotlight – Spaghetti Squash

Spaghetti Squash

Spaghetti Squash

I’ve been on a low carbohydrate diet for a few weeks and one of the things I miss most is a big bowl of spaghetti Bolognese. I’ve been reluctant to try making this dish with spaghetti squash instead, but was pleasantly surprised when I finally caved and did just that over the weekend.

Remove Seeds

Remove Seeds

About Spaghetti Squash (Cucurbita Pepo):

  • Although it’s harvested in the fall, spaghetti squash can keep for up to 6 months in a cool place. That’s how we find it at the market year-around.
  • When cooked, the spaghetti squash’s flesh becomes strand-like much like spaghetti, hence its name.
  • Spaghetti squash seeds can be roasted just like pumpkin seeds.
  • Spaghetti squash is full of folic acid, vitamin A, potassium and beta carotene (especially in orange varieties).
  • It’s low in calories at about 40 calories per cup.
Pull Strings with Fork

Pull Strings with Fork

Here’s a fail-proof way of cooking spaghetti squash:

  1. Pierce through the flesh of the squash in about 10 places with a sharp, thin blade knife.
  2. Place a double layer of paper towel in the microwave and place the squash on them.
  3. Microwave for 12 minutes (for medium-sized squash), rotating every few minutes if your oven doesn’t have a rotating plate. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before attempting to handle.
  4. Cut the squash long ways.
  5. Using a spoon, remove the seeds and save them for roasting.
  6. Using a fork, pull strings of squash flesh away from the outer skin. Place the “spaghetti” in a bowl for intended use.
Spaghetti Squash with Meat Sauce

Spaghetti Squash with Meat Sauce

Since I had a major craving for meat sauce, I topped my squash spaghetti with traditional Quebec Meat Sauce I’d defrosted. YUM!!!!!!!

Have you had this fruit and if so, what’s your favorite way to enjoy it?

Veronique

Family, Friends and Food in Quebec

Family, Friends and Food in Quebec

Beet Salad

Beet Salad

Last weekend, I flew up to Quebec to surprise my dad for his birthday. As always, the weekend was filled with an abundance of food and adult libations.

Lobster Dinner

Lobster Dinner

Friday, the weather was nice and we opted to grill pork tenderloin kebabs that my brother-in-law, Etienne, had marinated in his special concoction a good part of the afternoon. Since it was also my mom’s birthday a couple days prior to my arrival, my nieces and me made my Chocolate Éclair Squares, an easy-to-fix, tasty and light dessert (perfect for Memorial Day celebrations).

Wines for Lobster Dinner

Wines for Lobster Dinner

Saturday, my sister Josée, her daughters and me decorated her home for dad’s party and began cooking for the memorable dinner party. On the menu was a springtime salad of roasted beets, heirloom tomatoes, red onions, Mozzarella and basil. My brother-in-law boiled some lobsters and made his now-famous Lemon Butter Cream for dipping – fantastic. Dessert was a plate of vanilla bean cupcakes and my Zesty Key Lime Tart (minus the meringue and topped with whipped cream instead). The wine lineup wasn’t half bad either.

Poutine

Poutine

Sunday morning, mom fixed us a big breakfast of eggs benedict with homefries and after spending the morning at our horse ranch, I headed back to the airport to catch my flight back to New Jersey. As I’ve grown accustomed to doing when I fly out of Quebec, I had a poutine to mark the end of my wonderful weekend.

Hope your weekend adventures were as delicious as mine were.

Cheers,

Veronique