Sunday, January 25, 2015

Pizza with Brussels Sprouts, Salami, and Goat Cheese

Brussels sprouts on pizza? You bet! Just slice them thin (no need to precook) and you get this delicious, nutty, roasted-Brussels-sprouts flavor on your pizza. I made this with some local goat cheese from Hillman farm and the last of the Brussels sprouts from our garden. Substitute bacon or pepperoni for the salami if you like.

1 14-inch pizza crust
Olive oil
3/4 - 1 cup thinly sliced Brussels sprouts
2-3 ounces shredded mozzarella
2 ounces salami, sliced thin or diced
2-3 ounces goat cheese
1/2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Lightly brush the pizza crust with olive oil.

Combine the sliced Brussels sprouts with a little more olive oil in a small bowl and toss to coat.

Spread the mozzarella over the pizza crust. Distribute the sprouts and salami over it, then dot with goat cheese. Sprinkle with the rosemary, salt, and pepper.

Bake for 15-18 minutes, until the crust is done and the cheese begins to brown.

Serves 3-4.

Slow Cooker Bean Soup from the Pantry with Dried Garden Herbs

This is a classic pantry soup, made largely with stuff you probably have sitting around already and little that is fresh. That said, if you do have fresh (or frozen, or canned) veggies on hand, feel free to throw in whatever you like. The part I really liked about this was getting out jars of herbs from the garden that I dried last summer and crumbling them fresh into the soup. My hands smelled like summer when I was done. This makes a big batch, perfect for freezing.

You can use a packaged soup mix of beans here if you like, or mix and match from your pantry (back beans, red beans, navy beans, pinto beans,'s all good). I included some absolutely lovely, creamy local beans from Crabapple Farm - the variety was called Marfax.

3-4 cups mixed dried beans and barley
Vegetable stock
1 medium onion, diced
6-8 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 Parmesan rinds (optional)
1/4 cup dried parsley
1-2 Tbsp dried oregano
1-2 Tbsp dried basil
Salt and pepper to taste
Good quality olive oil for topping (optional)

Place the bean and barley mix in the slow  cooker and add enough vegetable stock to cover by 2 inches (be more generous if you won't be able to check on the soup during the day). Add the onion, garlic, Parmesan rinds (if using), and the herbs.

Cook on high for 7-9 hours (longer is ok), until the beans are all completely tender. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve hot. If desired, drizzle with olive oil at the table.

Serves about 8.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Red Currant Glaze for Ham

You could make this with cranberry sauce, or even a tart raspberry sauce, but I liked it with the Red Currant Syrup I made earlier this year. This was excellent on smoked ham.

1 cup Red Currant Syrup
1 large shallot, peeled
2 tsp Dijon mustard, or to taste
1 Tbsp cider vinegar

Combine all ingredients in a blender and whiz until well blended. Use immediately or store in the refrigerator for  up to several days (it improves after sitting for a day or so, as the flavors more fully blend).

Use to glaze ham as it bakes, and/or as a sauce at the table. Bring to room temperature before serving at the table.

Makes about 1 1/2 cups of glaze.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Sweet Potatoes

These were a huge hit with all of us, making me wish I had made a bigger batch. Savory and nutty, a little bit crispy. This recipe works fine with all sprouts or all sweet potatoes, too.

3-4 cups trimmed Brussels sprouts
3-4 cups peeled and cubed sweet potatoes (1/2-inch cubes)
1 1/2 Tbsp walnut or canola oil
1 1/2 Tbsp cider vinegar
1 tsp dried sage
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Toss all ingredients in a medium bowl until well coated. Spread in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast for about 30 minutes, stirring once or twice to prevent sticking. Veggies are done when tender when pierced with a fork. Serve hot.

Serves about 4.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Ginger Pear Crumble

Candied ginger is a wonderful foil for many fruits, and pear is one of the best. I made this with Asian pears from our tree, but European pears would work just as well. Be sure to serve this with whipped cream or ice cream - perhaps some Snow's Ginger.

6 cups peeled and cubed pears
1/4 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
5 Tbsp butter

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Butter an 8x8-inch baking pan.

Place the cubed pears in the baking pan. Sprinkle the crystallized ginger over the top.

Combine remaining ingredients in a food processor and pulse a few times until nicely crumbly. Carefully spread the topping over the pears.

Bake for 40-50 minutes, until the pears are very soft. Serve warm with whipped cream or ice cream.

Serves about 6.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Brussels Sprouts with Shallot Butter

There aren't too many savory things that can't be made better by the addition of shallot butter, and Brussels sprouts are no exception.

1 quart Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved or quartered if large
2 Tbsp butter
1 medium shallot, minced
Dash of lemon juice (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook the Brussels sprouts in a saucepan of salted boiling water for 5-8 minutes, until tender. Drain.

Melt the butter in a skillet. Add the shallots and saute for 1-2 minutes, then add the Brussels sprouts. Continue to saute over medium heat until they have given up excess moisture from the boiling. If desired, add a small splash of lemon juice to the pan and saute for another moment. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve hot.

Serves about 4.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Broiled Polenta with Balsamic Vegetables and Chicken Tomato Sauce

If you have leftover chicken, especially grilled chicken, this would be a great way to use it. Otherwise, if cooking chicken just for this purpose seems like too much bother, skip it or throw in some chickpeas instead.

To do this properly, prepare the polenta ahead of time so it has time to chill and solidify in the refrigerator. If you don't plan that far ahead, though, you can serve it soft in bowls and spoon the topping over it for an equally delicious result. I usually make polenta in my rice cooker now - no fuss, no stirring, no getting burned by spattering polenta - but I've given stovetop instructions below.

4 1/2 cups water
1 cup coarse cornmeal
1/2 cup quinoa (or another 1/2 cup cornmeal)
1 1/2 tsp salt

Olive oil
1 medium onion, sliced lengthwide
1 medium summer squash, diced
1 cup sliced shiitake mushrooms
3-4 cups diced cooked chicken
3 cups tomato sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
Crumbled feta for topping

Prepare the polenta: Bring the water to a boil. Whisk in the cornmeal, then add the quinoa and salt. Return to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring frequently, until it reaches the desired consistency (it should be quite thick). Oil a 9x13-inch pan and spread the polenta into it in an even layer. Cover with plastic wrap and let cool. Refrigerate when no longer hot.

When you are ready to prepare the meal, slice the polenta into squares. Spread them on a baking sheet and broil for 5-10 minutes, until crispy on the outside and beginning to brown.

Prepare the vegetables: Heat a little olive oil in a large skillet. Add the onion, squash, and shiitakes and saute until tender, about 5 minutes.

Prepare the sauce: Combine the chicken and tomato sauce in a saucepan and heat through.

To serve the dish, place squares of broiled polenta on plates. Top with a spoonful of vegetables followed by a spoonful of sauce (alternatively, stir the vegetables into the sauce). Top with crumbled feta at the table.

Serves 4-6.