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My Tub of Foie Gras

Really — need I say more?? Tell me another restaurant that has a tub of cold, creamy foie gras with crusty bread on the menu and I am there. Stat. It’s like a better version (and guiltier pleasure) than bread and butter…

Available at Bouchon. For sure at the Napa location. Haven’t checked out the others in Las Vegas or the new space in Los Angeles.

These recipes hail from the month Megan hosted cooking club (with a brunch theme). Have house guests? These are perfect  – you can prep the day before and they won’t take much time to put together in the morning. 

The following recipes are also extremely outdated and I apologize for that. In fact, I think she might have hosted spring 2009. So let’s just call this a one-year anniversary of a delicious brunch. Thanks, Megan!

Megan’s Egg Bake

10 to 12 servings.

Ingredients:

1 loaf challah, without crust

8 eggs

1/2 lb grated Cheddar

1/4 lb grated Swiss

8 oz package cream cheese

2 cups low-fat milk

1 stick butter

1/2 tsp dry mustard

1/2 tsp salt

1 tbsp chives

Dash cayenne

Recipe:

Tear bread into chunks. Place evenly in a well greased casserole dish. Sprinkle with cheeses. Beat together eggs, milk, salt, mustard, pepper, and chives. Pour over bread and cheese. Refrigerate, covered, overnight. Bake, covered, in oven preheated to 325 degrees for one hour or until egg mixture is set. Uncover for last 10 minutes.

Farro Salad

This recipe actually comes from Heidi Swanson’s blog, 101 Cookbooks. A wonderful resource for lighter, heart-healthy fare. I’ve adapted it slightly. Many of these components can be made early. Simply toss together prior to serving.

6 cups cooked farro (see below)
1 cup peas

1 cup corn

Splash of Citrus Parmesan Vinaigrette (see below)
4 handfuls of mixed salad greens
1/4 cup goat cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup chopped chives

In a large bowl toss the farro, peas, and corn with the Citrus Parmesan Dressing. Toss until well coated. Add the salad greens and give the salad another toss. Taste and add more salt if needed. Serve in the big bowl or on a large platter topped with the crumbled goat cheese and chives.

To cook farro: Combine farro, salt, and water in a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat (Heidi covers the farro with water by a couple inches and salt generously). Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the farro is tender, 45 minutes to an hour, or about half the time if you are using semi-pearled farro. Taste often as it is cooking, you want it to be toothsome and retain structure. Remove from heat, drain any excess water, and set aside until ready to use.

To make Citrus Parmesan Vinaigrette: whisk together the zest and juice of 1 orange, 1 chopped shallot, 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar, and 1/2 cup good quality olive oil. Salt to taste.

White Pizza with Arugula

White Pizzas with Arugula

It’s so fun to make everything from scratch, and this recipe makes it so easy. This is also from Ina Garten’s Back to Basic cookbook. I’ve clearly been reading this too much and it might borderline on favoritism.

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups warm water

2 packages yeast

1 tblsp honey

Olive oil

4 cups all purpose flour, plus extra for kneading

Salt

4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced, Goodfella’s style

5 sprigs fresh thyme

1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

Pepper

3 cups grated Italian fontina cheese (8 oz)

1 1/2 cups grated mozzarella (7 oz)

11 oz creamy goat cheese, crumbled

1/2 cup olive oil

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

8 oz baby arugula

Recipe:

Combine water, yeast, honey, and 3 tblsp olive oil in electric mixer. Once yeast dissolves, add 3 cups flour, 2 tsp salt, and mix on low-medium speed. While mixing, add last up of flour. Knead dough for 10 minutes, sprinkling with flour to keep from sticking. Turn dough out on floured board and knead it a dozen more times. Place in well oiled bowl, and turn to cover. Cover bowl with towel and let dough rise at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Put 1/2 cup olive oil, garlic, thyme, and red pepper flakes in small saucepan over low heat. Cook for 10 minutes. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 500 degrees. (Note: be sure oven is clean. I’ve smoked our kitchen out before. Not cool.)

Divide dough into 4-6 pieces. Place on baking sheets covered with parchment paper and cover with damp towel. Al to rest for 10 minutes. Use immediately or refrigerate for up to four hours.

Press and stretch each ball of dough into pizza circle and place on parchment lined baking sheet. Brush pizzas with garlic oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, then add each of the three cheeses. Drizzle pizzas with 1 tbslp more of garlic oil. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until cheese begins to turn golden brown.

Whisk 1/2 cup olive oil, lemon juice, 1 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp pepper together. Add to arugula and mix. Once you take pizzas out, add clumps of arugula to each pizza.

White Pizza with Arugula

Simple. Rich. Delicious. Addictive.

I found this in Barefoot Contessa’s Back to Basics cookbook. I really love Ina Garten.

Taglierelle with Truffle Butter and Chives

Ingredients:

Salt

1/2 cup heavy cream

3 oz white truffle butter (I confess, I’ve used black a few times as well)

pepper

1 8 oz package tagliarelle pasta

3 tablespoons fresh chopped chives

3 oz shaved parmesan

Recipe:

Add 1 tblsp salt to pot of water and bring to a boil.

Meanwhile, heat cream over medium heat and bring to simmer. Add truffle butter, t tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper. Lower heat to very low and keep warm over low heat.

Add pasta to boiling water and cook for three minutes. Reserve 1/2 cup cooking water, then drain pasta. Add pasta to pan with cream/truffle sauce and toss to coat. Slowly add in some of the cooking water to keep creamy.

Serve in bowls with chives and parmesan on top. Add pepper if you like. Enjoy!

Kim’s Pumpkin Soup

Pumpkin Soup

Last month’s cooking club was hosted by the lovely Kim, our lone vegetarian. One of my favorite cooking club conversations occurred thanks to her eating habits, (plus a few glasses of wine and some sheer honesty).

Bianca: “Kim. To be honest, I didn’t know if I’d like you after I heard we had a vegetarian in the club. But I really do. You are fantastic.”

Kim: “Thanks, Bianca. I’m happy I changed your mind.”

Appropriately enough, her theme was a vegetarian fall harvest, which was delicious. One of the highlights from the meal was a creamy, slightly spicy pumpkin soup.

This recipe serves eight.

Ingredients:

4 Tbsp unsalted butter

2 medium yellow onions, chopped

2 tsp minced garlic

1/8 to ¼ tsp crushed red pepper

2 tsp curry powder

½ tsp ground coriander

Pinch of ground cayenne pepper (optional)

3 (15 oz) cans of 100% pumpkin (or 6 cups chopped roasted pumpkin*)

5 cups vegetable broth

2 cups milk

½ c brown sugar

½ c heavy cream

1 tsp salt

 Recipe:

Pumpkin SoupMelt butter in saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic and cook, stir often, until softened, about 4 minutes. Add spices and stir for another minute.

Add pumpkin and 5 cups of broth; blend well. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, simmer for 10-15 minutes.

Transfer soup, in batches to blender or food processor. Cover tightly and blend until smooth. Return to saucepan.

With the soup on low heat, add brown sugar and mix. Slowly add milk while stirring. Add cream and salt. Adjust seasonings to taste. (More cream if too spicy). Pumpkin Soup

*To make pumpkin puree, cut a sugar pumpkin in half, scoop out seeds and stringy stuff, lie face down on tin-foil lined baking pan. Bake at 350 until soft (45-60 min). Cool, scoop out flesh.*

After conducting my fowl research I decided to order our Thanksgiving turkey from the Golden Fig on Grand in Saint Paul. What sold me is that it is: a.) local and b.) affordable. Some other specialty food stores are selling turkeys for $8.00+ a pound, and to be honest, as much as I love buying from a local farm I just can’t legitimize dropping more than $100 big ones on a turkey…

Golden Fig’s birds hail from Ottis Family Farm and runs for roughly $3.50 per pound. It sounds like the bird range will be 14-16 pounds this year, perfect size.

Now on to the next big decision; to brine or not to brine? That is the question.

Homemade Apple Cider

Apple Cider

My in-laws invited us up to their house to try our hand at their new apple press. After overhearing them talk about how much they would like to make their own cider last year, my husband decided to gift them with one as an early Christmas gift. He found it at Northern Brewer in Saint Paul (http://www.northernbrewer.com).

They have a beautiful apple tree in their backyard stocked full of Haralsons. I’ve never made my own apple cider before, and am so appreciative of their offer. There really is no better healthy fall treat than a cold glass of freshly squeezed apples.

Cider is different from juice in that it is unfiltered. So you have a cloudy appearance and a richer drink.

Apple Cider

First, you grind whole apples through an apple grinder. The apple mush is then dumped into the apple press.

Apple Press

A circular block is stacked on top of the apples, followed by several rectangular blocks. You grab onto a long ratchet, and twist it back and forth to slowly press the circular wooden block into the apples, straining the juices.

Apple Cider

It was an ideal way to spend a beautiful fall day, and I’ve been enjoying a fresh glass of cider every morning this week.

Apple Press

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