Radicchio, Pear and Pecan Salad

saladThis salad pairs well with blue cheese or smoked gouda.

1 small head of radicchio, cored, leaves separated and torn
3 ounces (4 lightly packed cups) frisee (or a mix of other fall baby greens such as baby kale, arugula, spinach)
1 Asian pear, cored and thinly sliced
1 red Bartlett pear, cored and thinly sliced
¾ C pecan pieces
2 t unsalted butter
1 ½ T sherry vinegar, or pear-infused vinegar
¼ t sugar
2 T walnut oil
2 T good olive oil
Salt and pepper

Combine the salad greens and pear slices in a large salad bowl. Put the pecan pieces in small skillet and toast over medium heat until light browned. Shake the skillet often to ensure the nuts are toasting evenly. Remove from heat and transfer right away to a small bowl. Add the butter and ¼ teaspoon of salt and mix well until butter is melted and absorbed by the nuts. In another small mixing bowl, whisk together the vinegar, sugar and ¼ teaspoon of sea salt. Slowly whisk in the oils until well-combined.

Toss the salad with just enough dressing to coat. Add the nuts, toss again and serve. Serves 4.

Revenge of the Pear Crisp

dessert_pear_ginger_finale

 

 

The name of this dish comes from where we found it — on the blog Food52. The old saying goes “Revenge is a dish best served cold,” but this luscious dish is actually best served warm or at room temperature — though it’ll be good cold too. With the crystalized ginger and Meyer lemon — sweeter and calmer than conventional lemons — and a topping that includes almonds and cinnamon, this is like getting two desserts in one. It’s sublime with pears, but probably would work pretty nicely with apples too. Demoed at Brookside in September 2014.

4 pears (Bartletts are ideal)
Zest from 1 Meyer lemon, or any lemon
2 T Meyer lemon juice, or any lemon
1 t vanilla
2 T crystallized ginger, finely chopped
¼ C light brown sugar
1 T unbleached all-purpose flour

Topping:

1/3 C sliced almonds, lightly toasted
1 C unbleached all-purpose flour
½ C (1 stick) unsalted butter
½ C light brown sugar
¼  t cinnamon

Prepare the filling: peel (optional), halve and core the pears. Cut them into desired size pieces (chunks, bite-size) and place in a mixing bowl. Add the lemon zest, lemon juice, vanilla and chopped ginger. Mix gently. Add the sugar and flour, mix again. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350̊ F. Prepare the topping: in a mixing bowl, cream the butter with the sugar and cinnamon. Add the flour and almonds. Fill 4 6-ounce ramekins with equal portions of the prepared pears. Using your hands, divide the topping into 4 portions and pat each ball into a circle of topping to cover each ramekin. Place the ramekins on a sheet pan, bake for 45 minutes or until tops are lightly browned and the fruit is bubbling. Serve warm or at room temperature with a scoop of ice cream. Serves 4.

Butternut Squash, Apple and Leek Gratin

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A boost of beta-carotene and Vitamin C makes this comforting casserole a keeper for cool autumn evenings. Demoed by Danielle at Brookside Gardens and USBG in September 2014.

2 T olive oil
2 medium leeks, white part only, trimmed of roots and outer leaves, thinly sliced crosswise, well washed and dried
½ C dry sherry or vegetable or chicken broth
1 tablespoon fresh sage, chopped
1 small (1 ¼ lb) butternut squash, peeled, seeded and sliced
3 medium apples (Gala, Braeburn), peeled, halved, cored and sliced
½ cup chicken broth or light cream
½ cup Swiss or Fontina cheese, shredded

Preheat the oven to 350̊F. In a medium skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add leeks and cook, stirring occasionally, until they begin to brown, about 8-10 minutes. Add the sherry or broth to deglaze, add the chopped sage and cook until liquid has reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Set aside.

In a 2-quart shallow baking dish, arrange the apples in one layer. Spread the leeks evenly over the apples. Arrange the squash in one layer over the leeks. Evenly pour the remaining broth (or light cream) over the squash, sprinkle with cheese. Cover tightly with foil and bake 45 minutes, but check it after 30 minutes for doneness. When cooked, the tip of a pairing knife should easily pierce the gratin.  Remove foil and bake another 5-10 minutes, until cheese is golden. Let cool 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with additional sage leaves, if desired. Serves 6.

Curried Parsnip and Apple Soup

ParsnipSoup (7)This rich, tasty pureed soup comes from the archives of Fine Cooking, with some of our own adaptations. Adrienne has made this using sweet potatoes instead of Yukons, with splendid results and if you are avoiding carbs on general principle, you can leave out the potato altogether. You may find that you have to add more broth or water at the end, after pureeing, in order to get the consistency just right. That’s because all these vegetables vary widely in how much juice they each contain — the fresher and younger the fruit or veggie, the juicier it will be and vice versa. Regardless, the meld of flavors here is just terrific and this will most certainly become a favorite winter soup. Demoed at Brookside and USBG in September 2014.

3 T olive oil
2 medium leeks (white and light green parts only), chopped and well-rinsed (about 1 ½  cups)
1 C (1 medium) onion, chopped
1 ½ T ginger, minced
1 T tomato paste
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp mild curry powder
1/3 C white vermouth (can substitute dry sherry or white wine)
1 lb (about 3 medium) tart apples that soften easily when cooked, peeled and cut into chunks
½ lb parsnips (2 large), peeled and cut into chunks
¼ lb (1 small-medium) Yukon Gold potato, peeled and cut into chunks
4 C low-sodium chicken broth
2/3 C heavy cream (for dairy-free, use coconut milk)
Sea salt and ground white pepper

Garnish: finely chopped apple and thinly sliced chives

Heat the olive oil in a 4-quart soup pot over medium heat. Add the leeks and onion and cook, covered, stirring occasionally until just tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in the ginger, tomato paste, garlic and curry powder and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the vermouth and cook, uncovered, until the liquid has almost evaporated, 2-3 minutes. Add the apples, parsnips and potato and stir to coat well. Add the chicken broth, bring to a gentle boil, reduce the heat to low. Partially cover with a lid and simmer until the apples and vegetables are very tender, about 30 minutes.

In a blender, food processor or with an emersion blender, puree the soup in batches until completely smooth. Transfer to a  clean soup pot, add the cream and season to taste with salt and white pepper. Serve the soup sprinkled with finely diced apple and chives.

Note: this soup can be make 2-3 days ahead and kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Reheat gently on low heat. It also freezes very well for several weeks. Omit the cream if you are preparing it to freeze and add the cream once the soup has been thawed and reheated. Serves 8.

Simple Poached Pears with Miso Butterscotch

pearsThe pears you can poach in any number of ways – this is perhaps the simplest. I change poaching liquid depending on what pears I use and what I’m in the mood for that day – so red wine, white wine, especially a slightly sweeter one such as a Moscato, vanilla, cinnamon, cloves, orange peel – some combination of these might be incorporated at any given time. Try different pears too, though Bosc is probably the go-to just for superior texture once cooked. What doesn’t change is the incredible Miso Butterscotch sauce, below, which really sets these pears apart. The recipe for that came from Mark Bittman of the New York Times. This recipe was demoed at USBG September 11, 2014.

1 quart water
1 1/3 C sugar
4 Bosc pears; peeled, cored, and quartered

In a large saucepan, heat the water and sugar until warm and the sugar is dissolved. Add any of the additions that you wish, or leave this plain. Slide in the pears and cover loosely. Keep the liquid at a very low boil and simmer the pears until cooked through, 15 to 25 minutes, depending on the pears. Remove from heat and let the pears cool in their liquid. You can drain the pears and reserve the liquid for another batch of pears (it will keep in the refrigerator for about a month). Or you can boil down the liquid to a thick syrup.

Miso Butterscotch

3/4 C cream
6 T (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/4 C white or yellow miso
3/4 C brown sugar.

Combine the cream and butter in a small saucepan, and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the butter melts. Stir in the miso and sugar and cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture is slightly thickened and shiny, 5 to 10 minutes. Taste and add a little more sugar if you think it’s too salty. Use right away or refrigerate, well covered, for up to 1 week and rewarm before using to loosen it up.

Yield: About 2 cups.

Possible additions: Chopped nuts; some sesame oil instead of butter; some honey instead of brown sugar.