Monday, November 30, 2009

THESE ARE A FEW OF MY FAVORITE THINGS




I am absolutely smitten with Jerusalem artichokes. I am using them in EVERYTHING. I had toyed with them on menus in my restaurants in the past and have written about them in my latest book, JEWISH SLOW COOKER RECIPES (John Wiley and Sons), but I have really fallen head over heels this season with these ugly ducklings of the vegetable world. I am putting them to use in soups, gratins and purees, and next week for Hanukkah I am putting them in my latkes –STAY TUNED FOR THAT RECIPE NEXT WEEK. Yum!
The name Jerusalem artichoke is actually a misnomer. These bumpy tubers have nothing to do with Jerusalem, nor are they a member of the artichoke family. In fact, they are actually the root of the sunflower plant, which is why they are also known as sunchokes. They have a nutty, earthy flavor similar to an artichoke and when paired with sweet roasted parsnips, it is a match made in soup heaven.

Roasted Parsnip and Jerusalem Artichoke Soup

3 large parsnips (about 1 1/2 pounds), peeled and cut into large pieces
Olive oil
1/2-pound Jerusalem artichokes (about 5)
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 medium shallots, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
[1/2] cup dry white wine such as chardonnay
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
3 cups Chicken Stock
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Suggested Garnishes
1/4 cup chopped toasted hazelnuts or hazelnut oil
1. Preheat the oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Drizzle the parsnip pieces with olive oil. Place the parsnips on the baking sheet. Roast in the oven for 45 minutes, until soft and lightly browned. Transfer the parsnips to a large sauce pan or stock pot.
3. While the parsnips are roasting, peel and dice the Jerusalem artichokes. Place the pieces in a bowl of cold water with the lemon juice to keep them artichokes from turning dark.
4. Place a small sauté pan over medium-high heat. Lightly coat the bottom of the pan with olive oil. Sauté the shallots until they are slightly browned and soft. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes more. Add the wine to the pan and cook the mixture for 3 minutes. Add the wine-shallot mixture to the saucepan with the parsnips. Drain the Jerusalem artichoke pieces and add them to the saucepan. Add the thyme and chicken stock to the insert.
6. Simmer for 1 hour until the Jerusalem artichokes and parsnips are very soft.
7. Puree the soup in batches or with an immersion blender until the soup is very creamy. Season with salt and pepper.
8. Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with chopped toasted hazelnuts and a drizzle of toasted hazelnut oil.

Monday, November 23, 2009

ALL GOBBLED UP


HAPPY THANKSGIVING


I admit to being the first one in line to twist and tangle food in an effort to keep from boring myself and everyone around me. I think food and eating trends should be dynamic and evolutionary. That being said-I am real traditionalist when it comes to Thanksgiving. I like the familiar smells and flavors of my childhood. I know I CAN do other dishes for Thanksgiving-but I won’t. I also insist on keeping the food “real”. I am not doing chemical laden pumpkin pie, mashed potatoes with margarine and faux whipped topping on anything. I think the adage that goes; if your grandmother would not recognize it as food-then don’t use it; explains how I feel about this and every meal. I hope you work some of these recipes and techniques into your own holiday meals and make them part of your children’s memories and your own.


Celery Root, Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes

I love the flavor of celery root (celeriac). The intense celery flavor and “mashed potatoey” consistency pairs well with the potatoes and roasted garlic. I insist that you use homemade aioli to fluff your potatoes. Jarred mayonnaise is not a substitute in this case and will not yield great results. The homemade aioli is fluffier, tastes better and simply makes a better mash. It’s Thanksgiving-you are going to have to work for your dinner!

Prep: 20 min
Cook: 30 – 35 min + 10 minutes
Chill: -
Total: - 1 hour
Yield 6+ servings

1 whole head of garlic, cut horizontally but not peeled
3 large Russet potatoes, peeled and cut into large dice
1 large celeriac bulb-peeled and cubed

preheat oven to 400
For the aioli

Fresh aioli is creamy and rich. A famous chef said that it is “the butter of Provence”! What can I say? Aioli can be stored, covered in the refrigerator for 5 days. I whisk my aioli together by hand just because I enjoy doing it. You can easily use a food processor or blender.

Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: -
Chill: -
Total: - 10 minutes
Yield -1 ½ cups



2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon Dijon style mustard
3 teaspoons of water
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 cup neutral flavored vegetable oil ( I use canola)
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Place egg yolks, mustard, water and lemon juice in a food processor or non-reactive stainless steel mixing bowl or a glass bowl. Pulse or whisk together until smooth. Slowly add oil drop by drop into the bowl while continually whisking or processing. The mixture should resemble mayonnaise. Salt and pepper to taste.

1. Drizzle a teaspoon of olive oil on the cut sides of garlic. Wrap in foil and place in preheated oven for 1 hour until the garlic is brown and very soft. Set aside to cool.
2. Bring a large pot of water to the boil. Add the potatoes and celery root. Cook the vegetables until they are very soft but not breaking apart (about 20 minutes). Drain the potatoes and celery root. Return the vegetables back to the pot over low heat. Allow the vegetables to gently dry out in the warm pot over low heat for 3-5 minutes.
3. Transfer the potatoes and celery root to a large mixing bowl. Squeeze the garlic out of the bulb. Rice the potatoes and celery root and roasted garlic through a potato ricer or use a potato masher. Do not use a mixer as the potatoes will become too starchy.
4. Add ½ cup of aioli to the riced mixture. Stir to combine. Add additional aioli until you have the texture and fluffiness you like. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Garnish with chopped chives, celery leaves and fried sage.




Stuffed Baked Apples

I like the play of savory and sweet together in this dish. I also love the earthy herbs with the dried fruit and fresh apples. Baked apples with stuffing make a pretty presentation and can be made up to two days before serving. The apples can be stored., covered, in the refrigerator.


Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: -30-45
Chill: -
Total: - 50+ minutes
Yield -6 servings


3 shallots, sliced thinly
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
¼ cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
3 fresh sage leaves, chopped
2 tablespoon fresh rosemary-chopped
1 cup fresh whole wheat bread, crust trimmed off and cubed
¼ cup pitted dates
¼ cup dried apricots
1 tablespoon pomegranate paste
¼ cup chicken stock
½ cup white wine
3 tablespoons honey
6 large firm apples, cored


1. Sauté the shallots with a small amount of olive oil until lightly browned and caramelized (about 7 minutes). Add the garlic and fresh herbs and cubed bread. Continue cooking until the bread has toasted slightly and the garlic has softened and is very fragrant about 5 minutes.

2. Preheat oven to 300. Place the dates and apricots in a food processor and pulse 10-12 times until the dates and apricots are chopped and are clumping together.
3. Remove the fruit to medium bowl and add the pomegranate paste, the chicken stock and shallot mixture and stir until well combined.
4. Stuff the mixture into the cored apples. You should have enough stuffing to generously stuff the apples and have some of the stuffing “pop” out of the top of the apples. (I love this part as it gets crispy on top!).
5. Place the apples in a baking dish and pour white wine and honey around the apples. Bake the apples until they are soft and wrinkly (about 30-45 minutes).

Herb Roasted Turkey

I am not a fanatic for the gadgets of turkey roasting. I do not insist on V-shaped racks or other once a year tools. All you need is a pan that can easily accommodate the turkey, some butcher’s twine and a good bird. I think I can taste the difference between an organic bird to one that is not. If you can find an organic turkey-go for it. I think it has a clean, “turkey-ier” flavor. I also know that I feel better knowing that the turkey ate organic food and was raised in an environmentally friendly way. Kosher turkeys do not need to be brined. The kashering process of salting and soaking already brined the bird. Skip that step and move on. Pat yourself on the back for one less step-Go Kosher!

Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: -2.5-3 hours
Rest: -20
Total: - 3 +hours
Serves -10-12



3 large Spanish onions, roughly chopped
4 celery ribs, roughly chopped
1 fennel bulb, roughly chopped
1 whole bulb of garlic, cut in half horizontally
3 sweet variety apples, cored and roughly; chopped


1 14-pound organic turkey, completely thawed
2 oranges
2 bay leaves
1 Large Spanish onion, cut in half
olive oil
¼ cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
3 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
2 tablespoons fresh chopped rosemary
Freshly cracked black pepper and kosher salt

For the gravy
½ cup white wine (if needed)
2 cups chicken stock (if needed)

Preheat oven to 425


1. Scatter the chopped vegetables and apples in the roasting pan along with the neck and giblets from the turkey. All of these vegetables will keep the turkey from sitting in its own drippings and fat. They will also be the base for the most deeply flavored turkey gravy. If you have a very large roasting pan and need more vegetables-add more.
2. Place the turkey on the bed of vegetables in the pan. Pat the skin dry. This will help ensure a crispy skin. Rub the turkey with olive oil inside and out all over. Salt and pepper the turkey inside and out. Place the oranges, bay leaves and onion halves inside the turkey. Position the turkey so the legs are facing you and the breast is facing upward.
3. Cut a 3 foot long piece of butcher’s twine. Loop the twine around the legs. Cross over the ends to form an X. Tie the legs together making sure to press the legs as close to the body as possible. Pull the ends of the string to the front of the turkey. Tie a knot at the front end-cut off the excess twine. Fold the wing tips under the turkey. Position the turkey so that the breast is again facing upward. The whole point of tying the turkey in this manner is to form a tight “bundle”. The turkey will hold it’s shape better and this also keeps the breast from drying out. The legs tied close to the body protect the delicate breast meat and help to expose the slower cooking thighs.
4. Generously cover the turkey with the chopped herbs. I like to rub them all over the turkey, including under the skin.
5. Place the turkey in the oven. Roast at 425 for 30 minutes. Turn down the oven to 325 and continue roasting until a thermometer inserted into the thigh registers 160 or the juices run clear when the thigh is pieced with a paring knife. Remove the turkey from the oven and cover loosely with foil. Allow the turkey to rest for 20-30 minutes. Remove the turkey from the pan.
6. Pour the pan juices, neck and giblets and vegetables through a strainer and SAVE the juices (you should a little over 2 cups). Allow the fat to rise the top and skim off and reserve. Cut the giblets into small dice.
7. If your roasting pan can be put on a burner stove top, do so and if not-place a large saucepan over medium heat. Place ¼ cup of turkey fat from the cooking juices in the pan. Add ¼ cup of flour and whisk together top form a loose paste (roux). Allow the roux to cook for about 2 minutes to remove the starchy flavor. Add 4 cups of pan juice to the pan. If you need extra liquid you can use the white wine and chicken stock. Add the vegetables, neck and giblet pieces to the gravy. Simmer the gravy over low heat. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Before serving-strain out the vegetables. You can pick the meat off of the neck and add it back to the gravy.
8. To carve the turkey like a pro: Place the cooled turkey on a large cutting board with the lags facing you and the breast facing upward. Drink a glass of wine! Remove the twine from the turkey. Cut the legs and thigh off of the turkey. You can probably do this with your hands, as the legs should be pretty loose from the long cooking session.
9. Locate the breast bone. Using a sharp knife. Slice a long cut along the breast bone. Work your knife down one side as close the turkey as possible. You are cutting each breast off of the turkey. Your knife should be touching bone on one side and breast meat on the other. Once you remove the breasts-slice the breast into thin slices and layer on a platter.
10. Save the carcass. There is flavor in them bones. Freeze your carcass for some great turkey chowder later this fall or winter. Recipe coming soon.

Monday, November 16, 2009

ALWAYS ROOM FOR A LITTLE DESSERT




There is always room for dessert if you serve sorbet. The creamy pumpkin sorbet with cinnamon and nutmeg has all the elements of pumpkin pie and is pareve. I love Thanksgiving and like to keep it real with all of my food. No need to make pumpkin pie with non-dairy whipped topping when you can have the bright orange and delicious sorbet.

Pumpkin-Vanilla Bean Sorbet


2 ¼ cups water (bottled water makes a tastier sorbet)
½ cup sugar
¼ cup brown sugar
1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
3 teaspoons cinnamon
½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
½ teaspoon ginger powder
1 vanilla bean, scraped*

1. Place water and sugars in a medium saucepan and cook over low heat until the sugar is dissolved.
2. Remove from heat and add pumpkin puree and spices and vanilla. Mix thoroughly.
3. Cool completely then add to your ice cream machine and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
Store the sorbet covered in the freezer. If the sorbet begins to separate after about 5 days, simply melt it and re-process it in your machine.


*A whole vanilla bean is actually a pod. Inside the pod are thousands of tiny black seeds. Vanilla beans are richly perfumed with the exotic fragrance and flavor of vanilla. For some recipes, I would rather use a vanilla bean as you just get more pure vanilla flavor. I also like the look of the tiny black seeds in ice cream, custards and this sorbet. The pure essence is intoxicating. A bonus tip is that vanilla beans are kosher all year long and during Pesach. No need to use inferior quality extracts during Pesach. Go for the good stuff! I prefer Tahitian vanilla beans as they possess an exotic floral fragrance. Other great vanilla beans would be from Madagascar.
To use a vanilla bean: cut the bean in half lengthwise. Scrape the back of your knife along the cut side of the bean. You will have scraped up the seeds and the reddish gooey essence. Save the scraped bean (you did pay for it!) and bury it in your sugar container so all of your baking sugar will smell of vanilla or put it in a bottle of plain vodka and your vodka will have a vanilla essence for your cocktails.

Monday, November 2, 2009

ULTIMATE PEARNESS



Poached Pears

Pears are absolutely my favorite fruit. They are elegant in shape, perfumey in fragrance and versatile enough that they make a great dessert as well as accompaniment to my favorite cheeses and poultry. The only problem with pears is that they go from too hard to over-ripe in just, what seems to be, minutes! It is hard to get them in that perfect stage of ultimate “pearness”. That is where poached pears come in. If you poach them in red wine they take on this gorgeous garnet color and look incredibly dressy. Poached pears can be stored in their poaching liquid in the refrigerator for up to one week.


1 bottle dry red wine
1 whole cinnamon stick
1 whole star anise
6 black peppercorns
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 bay leaf
8 small firm pears-I like to use Forelle or Bartlett pears


1. Place all of the poaching ingredients into a large stainless steel pan that is at least 4 inches deep. Aluminum will react with the acids in the wine and will cause the poaching liquid to have an “off” taste. Whisk together to help dissolve the sugar.
1. Peel the pears straight down-not crosswise to give a uniform appearance. Place the pears immediately into the poaching liquid. Cut a piece of parchment paper that will fit across the top of the pan and cover the surface of the pears. Weigh down the parchment lightly with an empty pie plate. This keeps the pears down in the poaching liquid as they are quite buoyant. Cover and cook wither stove top at medium low heat or in a low oven at 250 for about 1 ½ hours or until a paring knife will easily pierce the pear.
The pears can be stored in the poaching liquid covered in the refrigerator for up to 5 days before serving. Reserve the poaching liquid to use again or strain and reduce it over high heat until it reduces to a syrup and can be drizzled over the pears.

Serve the pears with the reduced poaching liquid, with pomegranate molasses drizzled over them, balsamic reduction or chocolate sauce. I also to split them vertically, scoop out the core, and fill it with sweetened mascarpone cheese and chopped pistachios for a dairy dessert.