Category: Gluten-Free

Roasted Acorn Squash

Roasted Acorn Squash

Roasted acorn squash makes a delicious side dish. For this recipe I served this with a pan-roasted pork tenderloin, seasoned solely with salt and pepper, seared in a skillet and finished in the oven to 145 degrees F. A slightly pink interior. Try our Rosemary Honey-Mustard sauce over the pork, it’s perfect for this dish.

I chose to leave the skin on for a different presentation. I’ve been told the skin is edible, but I find it to be tough, especially when roasted, it gets a little firmer. But, the skin on add a beautiful presentation to any dish and the sweet pulp is easily scrapped off with a fork.

This recipe is easily adaptable to any number of people. And, the squash can be cut in half or in quarters in lieu of slices. Add a few more minutes of cooking time. The squash is done when fork tender. One-half acorn squash is usually a perfect serving, unless you have many other sides, then figure ¼ squash per person.

chopped thyme

This recipe is a great example of using both dried and fresh herbs. The dried thyme is best when roasting – the flavor permeates the squash but doesn’t burn and there are no fussy twigs to get rid of. The fresh thyme is the perfect garnish; it brings a pure, fresh taste of the thyme to the dish, as well as a lovely contrasting color.

Roasting the Squash

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a Line a 13 by-18-by-1-inch baking sheet with parchment paper or foil.

Scrub the outside of the squash with a vegetable brush and dry.

Roasted Acorn Squash

Cut the squash in half lengthwise.

Roasted Acorn Squash

Scoop out the seeds and discard.

The acorn squash is ready to be seasoned and roasted in this form, or cut in half again for quarters, or cut each quarter into 2 or 3 more slices. The squash is very adaptable to cooking in any format.

Sliced Roasted Acorn Squash

If cooking the squash in half or quarters, trim a small piece off a center rib so the squash sits flat when place skin side down.

Combine the salt, dried thyme and pepper in a small bowl.

Roasted Acorn Squash

Brush the inside and outside of the squash with the oil. Sprinkle the squash with the spice mix.

Place the half or quartered acorn squash skin side down or strew the slices of squash across the baking sheet and roast for 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the squash is very soft when pierced with a fork.

Roasted Acorn Squash

Garnish with the fresh thyme and use the sprigs to garnish the serving platter.

Roasted Acorn Squash

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Roasted Acorn Squash

Roasted Acorn Squash

This recipe is easily adaptable to any number of people. One-half acorn squash is usually a perfect serving for one, unless you have many other sides, then figure ¼ squash per person.

  • Author: Trish Lobenfeld
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 4 - 8 servings
  • Category: Vegan/Vegetarian
  • Method: Roasting

Ingredients

2 acorn squash
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
½ teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil

Garnish
1 tablespoon freshly chopped thyme
Thyme sprigs

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a Line a 13 by-18-by-1-inch baking sheet with parchment paper or foil.

Scrub the outside of the squash with a vegetable brush and dry.

Cut the squash in half lengthwise.

Scoop out the seeds and discard.

The acorn squash is ready to be seasoned and roasted in this form, or cut in half again for quarters, or cut each quarter into 2 or 3 more slices. The squash is very adaptable to cooking in any format.

If cooking the squash in half or quarters, trim a small piece off a center rib so the squash sits flat when place skin side down.

Combine the salt, dried thyme and pepper in a small bowl.

Brush the inside and outside of the squash with the oil. Sprinkle the squash with the spice mix.

Place the half or quartered acorn squash skin side down or strew the slices of squash across the baking sheet and roast for 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the squash is very soft when pierced with a fork.

Garnish with the fresh thyme and use the sprigs to garnish the serving platter.

Keywords: squash, acorn squash, roasted squash, roasted acorn squash

Chicken, Kale and White Bean Stew

Chicken, Kale and White Bean Stew

Looking for a quick and easy dinner? This Chicken, Kale and White Bean Stew is a one-dish recipe and cooks quickly on the stovetop, about 1 ½ hours, or in a slow cooker, about 3 ½ hours. Simply prep the pancetta and aromatics, sauté, add the seasonings, canned tomatoes, stock, and chicken (no browning necessary), cover and cook. Add the kale and beans 10 minutes before finishing up and dinner is ready!

Slow Cookers

A quick note on slow cookers. Not all slow cookers are not the same. I personally think it is a waste of money not to own a programmable version. The ones with high/low settings are usually inaccurate and the low setting cooks at too high a temperature for a succulent braise or stew. The perfect temperature for slow cooking is 180 degrees F. Anything higher than that cooks at temperatures that denature and coagulate proteins quickly and there is a greater loss of natural juices and flavors.

Chicken, Kale and White Bean Stew

I also like the slow cookers that have a removable, oven-proof insert. This allows you to sauté, brown, etc. in one pan and then transition into the slow cooker with no added dishes to wash. Some slow cookers have many programs available and offer a sauté function and the entire recipe can be made start to finish in the vessel.

If you can’t find or are not a fan of kale, substitute other greens, such as chard, mustard greens for a little zing, or spinach, which only needs to be stirred into the hot stew last minute to wilt.

Putting the Stew Together

Pancetta is a great foundation for this delicious stew. It is, of course, optional for those of you who don’t eat red meat. Add another ¼ teaspoon salt to compensate for the salt the pancetta adds to the dish.

sautéing pancetta

Place the pancetta in a cold large Dutch oven, skillet, or slow cooker that has a removable insert over medium heat and cook until crispy, about 3-4 minutes.

sautéing aromatics for Chicken, Kale and White Bean Stew

Stir in the onions, celery, garlic, peppers, Italian seasoning mix, salt, and pepper flakes. Cover and sweat to release the water and soften the vegetables for 5 minutes, stirring once. Lower the heat a bit if the vegetables are browning.

Chicken, Kale and White Bean Stew

Stir in the tomatoes, reconstituted demi-glace.

Add the chicken, stir to separate the cubes and cover with the sauce. Cover and cook on low heat for 1 1/2 hours stovetop (no more that 180 degrees F – a very gentle simmer) or 3 1/2 hours on low in a slow cooker. The chicken is done when fork tender.

Chicken, Kale and White Bean Stew

This may not look like enough liquid, but don’t add more. The vegetables and chicken exude lots of flavorful juices and adding more liquid now only dilutes the flavor.

Here’s the difference in the amount of liquid, above before cooking and below after cooking.

Chicken, Kale and White Bean Stew

Recipe freezes well, cool completely, place in an airtight container and freeze.

 

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Chicken, Kale and White Bean Stew

Chicken, Kale and White Bean Stew

This Chicken, Kale and White Bean Stew is a one-dish recipe that cooks quickly on the stovetop or in a slow cooker. Lots of flavor and vegetables, too!

  • Author: Trish Lobenfeld
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 4 hours
  • Total Time: 4 hours 30 minutes
  • Yield: 8 servings
  • Category: Stew/Braise
  • Method: Slow Cook

Ingredients

4 ounces diced pancetta
1 large onion, thinly sliced
2 celery stalks, thinly sliced
6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
12 baby bell peppers, tops removed, sliced lengthwise, or one bell pepper, 1/2-inch dice
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning mix
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 can (15 ounces) fire-roasted tomatoes
1 cup vegetable demi-glace, such as More Than Gourmet
2 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken (white meat, dark meat, or both), cut into 2-inch cubes

Instructions

Pancetta is a great foundation for this delicious stew. It is, of course, optional for those of you who don’t eat red meat. Add another ¼ teaspoon salt to compensate for the salt the pancetta adds to the dish.

Place the pancetta in a cold large Dutch oven, skillet, or slow cooker that has a removable insert over medium heat and cook until crispy, about 3-4 minutes.

Stir in the onions, celery, garlic, peppers, Italian seasoning mix, salt, and pepper flakes. Cover and sweat to release the water and soften the vegetables for 5 minutes, stirring once. Lower the heat a bit if the vegetables are browning.

Stir in the tomatoes, reconstituted demi-glace.

Add the chicken, stir to separate the cubes and cover with the sauce. Cover and cook on low heat for 1 1/2 hours stovetop (no more that 180 degrees F – a very gentle simmer) or 3 1/2 hours on low in a slow cooker. The chicken is done when fork tender.

Notes

Recipe freezes well, cool completely, place in an airtight container and freeze.

Keywords: slow cook, crockpot, stew, braise, chicken stew, kale, white beans, one-pot dinner

 

Gluten-Free Oatmeal Cookies

Gluten-Free Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

I have a few friends who either suffer from celiac disease or have a low tolerance for gluten, which led me to experiment with gluten-free flour. It was a challenge at first to learn the ins and outs of working without gluten, but I persevered. Here’s one of my recent “success stories,” Gluten-Free Oatmeal Cookies.

I made these especially for my friend Dennis, who is constantly commenting on the inferior quality and high cost of commercially made GF snacks. This is one of his favorite cookies and he requested cashews in lieu of the typical walnuts. These cookies are light, with a buttery, not too sweet flavor, and a hint of cinnamon. He stopped by on Saturday to pick them up and was delighted with the results and his goodie bag to go!

Gluten-Free Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Gluten-Free Flour

There are a wide variety of flours to choose from and most local grocery stores carry one or two brands, usually King Arthur Flour or Bob’s Red Mill. Both have blends that you can substitute all-purpose flour cup for cup for the gluten-free flour. I used King Arthur Flour’s Measure for Measure, which doesn’t require the addition of gums. Read the ingredient label to check if either guar gum and/or zanthan gum are included. My research shows that using half guar gum and half xanthan gum provides the best results. A 1/4 teaspoon each per cup of flour is sufficient. These are readily available from vendors such as Bob’s Red Mill and amazon.com and other vendors.

Gluten-Free Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

The cookies whip up exactly like any other drop cookie. Beat the butter until fluffy in a stand mixer or with a hand beater; scrape the sides and beater. Add the sugar and salt and beat until incorporated; scrape the sides and beater. Add the eggs and beat, scraping the sides and beater as needed until incorporated. Mix in the vanilla extract, raisins, and nuts. Add the flours, oatmeal, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, guar gum, and xanthan gum,* and beat on low, scraping the sides of the bowl and the beater as needed, until the flour is moist. Scrape the sides and beater again and mix on medium-high until the dough is smooth, about 10 seconds.

*Omit if using a gluten-free flour that includes these gums.

Drop the cookies by the spoonful onto the lined cookie sheet, or use a cookie scoop, which makes about a 2-inch cookie, not too big and not too small. I like to use the scoop for the uniformity in size and even cooking.

Gluten-Free Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Pop the cookie sheet into the preheated oven and bake for 15 minutes, or until the bottom of the cookie is golden brown.

Gluten-Free Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Cool the cookies for 5 minutes and then remove to a cooling rack. Store in an airtight container or freeze.

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Gluten-Free Oatmeal Cookies

  • Author: Trish Lobenfeld

Ingredients

2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cups raisins
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts, optional, such as walnuts, pecans, or cashews
1 cup gluten-free flour
3/4 cup oat flour
2 cups old-fashioned oatmeal, such Quaker Oats
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon guar gum*
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum*

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a silpat mat.

Beat the butter until fluffy in a stand mixer or with a hand beater; scrape the sides and beater.

Add the sugar and salt and beat until incorporated; scrape the sides and beater.

Add the eggs and beat, scraping the sides and beater as needed until incorporated.

Mix in the vanilla extract, raisins, and nuts.

Add the flours, oatmeal, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, guar gum, and xanthan gum,* and beat on low, scraping the sides of the bowl and the beater as needed, until the flour is moist. Scrape the sides and beater again and mix on medium-high until the dough is smooth, about 10 seconds.

*Note: Omit if using a gluten-free flour that includes these gums.

Drop the cookies by the spoonful onto the lined cookie sheet, or use a cookie scoop, which makes about a 2-inch cookie, not too big and not too small. I like to use the scoop for the uniformity in size and even cooking.

Pop the cookie sheet into the preheated oven and bake for 15 minutes. The bottom of the cookie should be golden brown. The tops a darker beige.

Cool the cookies for 5 minutes and then remove to a cooling rack. Store in an airtight container or freeze.

Notes

*Note: Omit if using a gluten-free flour that includes these gums.

Escarole and Blue Cheese Salad with Sherry Wine Vinaigrette

Escarole & Blue Cheese Salad

I served this Escarole and Blue Cheese Salad with a Sherry Wine Vinaigrette for dinner the other night and my girlfriend Lynn loved it. She had never had raw escarole before.

Blue cheese goes nicely with the bitterness of escarole, it adds a salty creaminess, the cranberries a little tartness, and the crunchy walnuts add more crunch. The tangy vinaigrette brings it all together. While there’s lots going on in this salad, it’s very simple to make.

Thanksgiving is just around the corner and this salad is an excellent way to start or accompany your menu. The refreshing crispy escarole with a coating of the zesty dressing is a great foil for all those rich and tasty traditional Thanksgiving sides.

Vinaigrette

A simple mix of olive oil, Sherry wine vinegar, Dijon, shallots, salt and pepper.

Escarole & Blue Cheese Salad

Use two tablespoons minced shallot  for this dressing. If the shallot is large, mince only half.

Escarole & Blue Cheese Salad

Place the oil, vinegar, shallot, mustard, salt, and pepper in a jar and shake well. Refrigerate if not using immediately.

Salad

Thoroughly wash the escarole, it grows in a sandy soil.

Escarole & Blue Cheese Salad

Spin dry and stack the greens and slice across the leaves.

Escarole & Blue Cheese Salad

Place the sliced escarole in a salad bowl. Shake the vinaigrette and drizzle the greens with just enough dressing to coat the salad but not pool at the bottom of the bowl.

Escarole & Blue Cheese Salad

Sprinkle the top of the salad with the nuts, cheese, and cranberries. I like to add the toppings last because they always fall to the bottom of the bowl. Sitting on top of the dressed salad makes a lovely presentation.

Escarole & Blue Cheese Salad

 

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Escarole and Blue Cheese Salad with Sherry Wine Vinaigrette

A tangy, crunchy salad that’s quick and easy to make.

  • Author: Trish Lobenfeld
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 8 servings
  • Category: Salad

Ingredients

Vinaigrette
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons sherry wine vinegar
1 small minced shallot, about 2 tablespoons
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Salad
1 head escarole, chopped
1 cup whole toasted walnuts, chopped
¾ cup crumbled blue cheese
1/4 cup dried cranberries

Instructions

Vinaigrette

Two tablespoons minced shallot is enough for this dressing. If the shallot is large, mince only half.

Place the oil, vinegar, shallot, mustard, salt, and pepper in a jar and shake well. Refrigerate if not using immediately.

Salad

Thoroughly wash the escarole, it grows in a sandy soil. Spin dry and stack the greens and slice across the leaves.

Place the sliced escarole in a salad bowl

Shake the vinaigrette and drizzle the greens with just enough dressing to coat the salad but not pool at the bottom of the bowl.

Sprinkle the top of the salad with the nuts, cheese, and cranberries.

I like to add the toppings last because they always fall to the bottom of the bowl. Sitting on top of the dressed salad makes a lovely presentation.

Keywords: salad, vinaigrette, escarole salad, escarole salad with blue cheese, escarole salad with blue cheese and walnuts, dried cranberries, sherry wine vinaigrette

Pumpkin Ricotta Cheesecake

pumpkin ricotta cheesecake

I like to tweak recipes. Sometimes it’s not a very noticeable change and other times I create a new version of something I’ve done in the past. This Pumpkin Ricotta Cheesecake is a remake of a traditional Italian Ricotta Cheese that I did a couple of years ago. I thought a pumpkin version for Thanksgiving was just what we needed this year!

This dessert whips up in a matter of minutes. Make it the day before and let it sit, refrigerated of course, which allows the flavors to meld. It also takes the pressure off on Thanksgiving day to have the dessert already done. Take it out of the refrigerator an hour before serving to warm up, and add a dollop of whipped cream for a delicious garnish.

Making the Pumpkin Ricotta Cheesecake

Preheat the oven to 300ºF and lightly grease a 9-inch springform pan with a little unsalted butter. I use a small piece of wax paper and a dab of butter, about 1 teaspoon, and smear it over the bottom and sides of the pan.

greasing the pan for pumpkin ricotta cheesecake

Sprinkle a tablespoon of sugar over the bottom of the pan and turn on a slant to coat the sides too.

pumpkin ricotta cheesecake

Line a 13 by-18-by-1-inch baking sheet with parchment paper. Sometimes a springform pan leaks and this keeps the bottom of your oven clean.

Place the ricotta cheese, sugar, pumpkin powder, cinnamon, ginger, salt, and cloves in a mixing bowl.

pumpkin ricotta cheesecake

Beat with a whisk attachment until combined, or in a bowl with a hand whisk. Make sure there are no lumps.

If you are mixing by hand, the eggs are best beaten first and then added to the batter. I use the empty ricotta cheese container to avoid using another bowl. Simply crack the eggs into the container, cover, and shake to scramble.

pumpkin ricotta cheesecake

Add the eggs and vanilla to the batter and whisk until smooth.

pumpkin ricotta cheesecake batter

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake on the middle rack of the preheated oven for 1 hour 20 minutes. The cake is done when it’s set in the center and the sides are lightly golden brown.

Remove and cool for 5 minutes. Take a sharp knife and run the blade around the inside of the pan to make sure the cake isn’t sticking; then release the side panel. Once the cake is cool, refrigerate.

pumpkin ricotta cheesecake

 

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Pumpkin Ricotta Cheesecake

pumpkin ricotta cheesecake

A quick and easy dessert that can be made a day in advance. Take the cake out of the refrigerator an hour before serving to warm up. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream!

  • Author: Trish Lobenfeld
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 80 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 40 minutes
  • Yield: 8 servings
  • Category: Dessert

Ingredients

2 pounds whole milk ricotta cheese
2/3 cup granulated sugar, plus 1 tablespoon more for the pan
1/2 cup pumpkin powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
5 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

Garnish
whipped cream

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 300ºF and lightly grease a 9-inch springform pan with a little unsalted butter. I use a small piece of wax paper and a dab of butter, about 1 teaspoon, and smear it over the bottom and sides of the pan. Sprinkle a tablespoon of sugar over the bottom of the pan and turn on a slant to coat the sides too.

Line a 13 by-18-by-1-inch baking sheet with parchment paper. Sometimes a springform pan leaks and this keeps the bottom of your oven clean.

Place the ricotta cheese, sugar, pumpkin powder, cinnamon, ginger, salt, and cloves in a mixing bowl and beat with a whisk attachment until combined, or in a bowl with a hand whisk. Make sure there are no lumps.

If you are mixing by hand, the eggs are best beaten first and then added to the batter. I use the empty ricotta cheese container to avoid using another bowl. Simply crack the eggs into the container, cover, and shake to scramble.

Add the eggs and vanilla to the batter and whisk until smooth.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake on the middle rack of the preheated oven for 1 hour 20 minutes. The cake is done when it’s set in the center and the sides are lightly golden brown.

Remove and cool for 5 minutes. Take a sharp knife and run the blade around the side of the pan; then release the side panel. Once the cake is cool, refrigerate.

Keywords: Ricotta cheesecake, pumpkin cheesecake, cheesecake, Italian cheesecake, pumpkin,

Fresh Herbs versus Dried Herbs

Stew Leonards herb selection

Here’s a little primer on using fresh herbs versus dried herbs.

I prefer fresh herbs for many dishes, especially recipes that call for delicate herbs, such as basil, dill weed, chervil, chives, cilantro, mint, parsley and tarragon, which fade quickly during long cooking times. The best time to use delicate herbs is at the end of cooking or as a garnish. Stir in during the last 5 to 10 minutes, but no longer or the flavor diminishes significantly. Chopping helps releases more flavor components, a rough chop or fine mince, either is fine. These freshly chopped herbs awaken the taste buds and have a pleasing aroma.

Always use fresh herbs in cold preparations, such as salsa and guacamole. Dried herbs won’t reconstitute properly without heat and moisture, and the flavor is muted.

basil

Dried herbs are concentrated in flavor and are best for long, slow cooking times, such as our Mediterranean Lamb Shanks. These hearty herbs include bay leaves, marjoram, oregano, rosemary, sage, savory and thyme. The moisture and heat of the liquid in a slow-cooked, roasted, or baked recipe rehydrates dried herbs and the flavor infuses the liquid, meat and vegetables nicely. A garnish of the matching fresh herb or one of the fresh herbs in a mélange, coarsely chopped or minced, further brightens and enhances any dish.

Mediterranean Lamb Shanks

Rule of Thumb: Dried herbs are more concentrated in flavor, so use 1/3 less than fresh herbs. For example, if a recipe calls for a tablespoon of fresh herbs, use 1 teaspoon of dried herbs.

dried herbs in spice drawer

Shelf Life and Storage

Fresh Herbs

Unfortunately, fresh herbs are highly perishable. Once separated from the root, they begin to wilt and dry out. The method I use for storing most of my fresh herbs is to gently rinse them in cold water, shake the excess water off (or use a lettuce spinner), strew atop a couple of sheets of paper towel, loosely roll it up and store in a sealed plastic baggie. Most herbs will last 3-4 days.

tarragon

Don’t buy fresh herbs without plans to use them immediately; they’re expensive, especially in the winter, when brought in from outside sources. Notice the size of fresh herb bundles as the growing season progresses – they can be huge – especially basil, which is the ideal time to scoop them up and make several batches of pesto for the freezer!

pesto

Dried Herbs

Dried herbs have a longer shelf life, though not indefinite. Store in dry, dark places, such as a spice drawer or cupboard. Countertop spice racks are not ideal because of the exposure to light. If you are uncertain about the freshness of a dried herb, or spice for that matter, open the jar and give a sniff. If the aroma is weak, the herbs are past their prime and need to be replaced. My go to source is Penzey’s, https://www.penzeys.com which has a store a few miles from my home. They are also have a mail-order business. For those herbs (and spices) that I use infrequently or in minute amounts, I buy the 2 ounce jar.

Use Both Fresh and Dried Herbs

Maximize flavor by using a combination of both fresh and dried herbs. Start with dried herbs in slow-cooked recipes like soups, stews, and sauces, while sweating the aromatics. The dried herb infuses the dish with a subtle flavor. Just before serving, stir in a good handful of freshly chopped herb(s) for a bright, fresh flavor.

mint

 

Photos of herbs were taken at Stew Leonard’s in Norwalk CT.

Apple-Pear Sauce

apple and pear varieties

Here’s a little twist on traditional applesauce, Apple-Pear Sauce.

Fall is upon us and apples and pears are in season and in abundance. To create a complex flavor and varying textures I like to use three varieties of pears and apples. I used Bartlett and Starkrimson, which are sweet and juicy pears with a softer pulp, and Bosc, which is less sweet and firm in texture. The apples, which I sourced from The Whittier Fruit Farm during my recent trip to Rochester, included SweeTango, crisp with good acidity, Jonagold with a sweet honey flavor, and a Macoun, with a firmer texture. To highlight the vanilla undertone of the pears, I add a vanilla bean and a little lemon zest for acidity.

The recipe comes together easily and with few ingredients. Simply peel and core 6 pears and 6 apples and cut into about 1-inch cubes, the smaller the size the shorter the cooking time.

To core apples, use a melon baller. The stems of the pear extend down to the core. Quarter the pear and use a paring knife to slice top to bottom to remove inner stem and core.

coring pears

To get to the seeds of the vanilla, make a slit at the end of the bean, but don’t cut through to the bottom. Slide the knife between the pod and run the knife down the bean to split it in half lengthwise.

splitting a vanilla bean

Scrape out the seeds with the edge of a paring knife.

scraped vanilla bean

Add 1/4 cup cold water, the vanilla bean seeds and the lemon zest. Cover and cook over a very low flame. Low and slow is the way to go – high heat only scorches the fruit and that flavor permeates the entire sauce.

chopped pears and apple in saucepan

Stir every 3 minutes or so to move the fruit on top to the bottom. Once the fruit starts to break down, raise the heat a bit, just a little bit, and leave the cover askew. These are juicy fruits and it’s good to let a little of the liquid evaporate. A loose apple-pear sauce isn’t as tasty or pleasing to the palette.

The sauce is usually done in 30 to 40 minutes, again this depends on the size of the fruit. An unripe, extra-firm fruit can also take a little longer to cook. To test, push a few fruit cubes against the side of the pan with a wooden spoon. The sauce is ready when easily smashed.

Mash with a potato masher. I like my apple-pear sauce to have a little texture and leave some small chunky pieces. Don’t use a blender, food processor or immersion blender, however, the harsh processing destroys cell structure and the sauce becomes a soup.

Cool, place in jars, cover and refrigerate or freeze.

apple-pear sauce in jars

Serve warm or at room temperature.

apple-pear sauce in a bowl

Recipe doubles easily and freezes well.

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Apple-Pear Sauce

apple-pear sauce in a bowl

Here’s a little twist on traditional applesauce, Apple-Pear Sauce. Use a variety of pears and apples for complex flavor and texture.

  • Author: Trish Lobenfeld
  • Prep Time: 40 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
  • Yield: 8 cups; 10-12 servings
  • Category: Side Dish

Ingredients

6 assorted pears
6 assorted apples
1 vanilla bean, seeds only
zest of one lemon

Instructions

The recipe comes together easily and with few ingredients. Simply peel and core 6 pears and 6 apples and cut into about 1-inch cubes, the smaller the size the shorter the cooking time.

To core apples, use a melon baller. The stems of the pear extend down to the core. Quarter the pear and use a paring knife to slice top to bottom to remove inner stem and core.

To get to the seeds of the vanilla, split it in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds with the sharp edge of a paring knife.

Add 1/4 cup cold water, the vanilla bean seeds and the lemon zest. Cover and cook over a very low flame. Low and slow is the way to go – high heat only scorches the fruit and that flavor permeates the entire sauce.

Stir every 3 minutes or so to move the fruit on top to the bottom. Once the fruit starts to break down, raise the heat a bit, just a little bit, and leave the cover askew. These are juicy fruits and it’s good to let a little of the liquid evaporate. A loose apple-pear sauce isn’t as tasty or pleasing to the palette.

The sauce is usually done in 30 to 40 minutes, again this depends on the size of the fruit. An unripe, extra-firm fruit can also take a little longer to cook. To test, push a few fruit cubes against the side of the pan with a wooden spoon. The sauce is ready when easily smashed.

Mash with a potato masher. I like my apple-pear sauce to have a little texture and leave some small chunky pieces. Don’t use a blender, food processor or immersion blender, however, the harsh processing destroys cell structure and the sauce becomes a soup.

Cool, place in jars, cover and refrigerate or freeze.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Notes

Recipe doubles easily and freezes well.

Keywords: apple sauce, pear sauce, condiment, Thanksgiving dinner,

Quick and Easy Hollandaise Sauce

quick and easy hollandaise sauce

Hollandaise sauce is a delicious topping for poached eggs, fish, like salmon or arctic char, sautéed chicken, pork tenderloin, or potatoes. This Quick and Easy Hollandaise Sauce is made in the blender and comes together in minutes.

Simply combine the eggs, lemon juice, tarragon, salt, and cayenne in the blender. Then slowly drizzle in the melted butter through the cap opening to emulsify.

To keep warm, place the sauce in a bowl in a tray or pot of very warm water; hot water may break the emulsion.

Poached Eggs

Watch the video here.
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Quick and Easy Hollandaise Sauce

quick and easy hollandaise sauce

Delicious hollandaise sauce in minutes. use with eggs, fish, chicken, pork, or potatoes.

  • Author: Trish Lobenfeld
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 3/4 cup
  • Category: Sauces

Ingredients

3 egg yolks
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon minced fresh tarragon
1 teaspoon coarse salt
pinch cayenne
½ cup unsalted butter, melted

Instructions

Place the eggs, lemon juice, tarragon, salt, and cayenne in the base of blender or a small container for immersion blender and puree.

Slowly drizzle the hot melted butter through opening in top to create an emulsion.

To keep, place the sauce in a warm bowl in a tray of very warm water.

Notes

Holding in hot water may break the emulsion.

Keywords: Easy hollandaise sauce, quick and easy hollandaise sauce, hollandaise sauce

Poached Eggs

Poached Eggs

I know many are intimidated by the thought making Poached Eggs, but it really is quite simple. The key is to poach the egg until the white is set and the egg yolk is runny, which means temperature control and timing. If you prefer a firm yolk, a little more time at the controlled temperature is all that is required.

Farm fresh eggs are the best for poaching. The egg whites are nice and tight so there’s less spread in the pan. For an older egg, a dash of white vinegar in the cooking water helps coagulate the egg white. There are also egg poaching machines and lots of little cups, etc that claim to make pretty poached eggs. I don’t see the point myself and they would only take up more space in my already full kitchen.

Poached Eggs

How to Poach Eggs

To make them the old-fashioned way, fill a low rimmed saucepan or a straight-sided skillet with cold water, high enough to cover the tops of the eggs. Add almost a capful of white vinegar and bring to a full boil.

Place a couple of folded paper towels by the side of the stove to briefly drain the cooked eggs on before plating.

Crack up to 4 eggs in a small bowl, slide the eggs into the hot water and immediately lower the heat to the gentlest of simmers. Cook for 2 minutes 30 seconds for a runny yolk or 3 minutes for a firm yolk. The key to success here is the gentle simmer, a rapid boil is harsh, and the eggs are easily ruined by the turbulent water.

Poached Eggs

Use a mesh skimmer spoon and gently scoop up all the eggs together. Rest the bottom of the skimmer spoon on the paper towels to drain for a couple of seconds and then slide onto your plate.

Sprinkle a wee bit of kosher salt and ground pepper over the eggs and dig in. Hollandaise sauce recipe coming next week.

Watch our video here. Note: Since making the video, I prefer to crack my eggs in a bowl and slide them into the water vs. cracking them individually into the pan. They keep better shape and cooking time is even for all.

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Poached Eggs

Poached Eggs

Farm fresh eggs are the best for poaching. The egg whites are nice and tight so there’s less spread in the pan. For an older egg, a dash of white vinegar in the cooking water helps coagulate the egg white.

The key is to poach the egg until the white is set and the egg yolk is runny, which means temperature control and timing. If you prefer a firm yolk, a little more time at the controlled temperature is all that is required.

  • Author: Trish Lobenfeld
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 3 minutes
  • Total Time: 13 minutes
  • Yield: 2 servings
  • Category: Eggs

Ingredients

1 to 4 large eggs
white vinegar

Instructions

Fill a low rimmed saucepan or a straight-sided skillet with cold water, high enough to cover the tops of the eggs. Add almost a capful of white vinegar and bring to a full boil.

Place a couple of folded paper towels by the side of the stove to briefly drain the cooked eggs on before plating.

Crack up to 4 eggs in a small bowl, slide the eggs into the hot water and immediately lower the heat to the gentlest of simmers. Cook for 2 minutes 30 seconds for a runny yolk or 3 minutes for a firm yolk. The key to success here is the gentle simmer, a rapid boil is harsh, and the eggs are easily ruined by the turbulent water.

Use a mesh skimmer spoon and gently scoop up all the eggs together. Rest the bottom of the skimmer spoon on the paper towels to drain for a couple of seconds and then slide onto your plate.

Sprinkle a wee bit of kosher salt and ground pepper over the eggs and dig in.

Keywords: poached eggs, eggs, poaching

1 to 4 large eggs
white vinegar

Vichyssoise

Vichyssoise in a bowl

Leeks are plentiful at the farmers’ markets these days and I can’t resist them. I haven’t made or had Vichyssoise in years and just seeing those leeks, I couldn’t get the soup off my mind.

Leeks are a member of the allium family – onions, garlic, scallions. It’s long and thin (1 – 2 inches in diameter) and has dark green leaves on top and a light green to white bulb at the bottom. The amount of light green and white depends on how deeply the leek is planted in the soil to avoid direct sunlight.

vichyssoise - leek photo

Leeks grow deeply entrenched in a sandy soil and those outer layers trap the sand and require a thorough cleaning. Chopped leeks are relatively easy to clean. Just trim and discard the dark green tops and the root on the bottom. Cut in half lengthwise, slice into thin pieces, and plop into a big bowl of cold water. Swish the cut leeks around, pick up handfuls and gently rub together between your palms to separate the layers and loosen the dirt. Let sit for several seconds to allow the dirt to fall to the bottom of the bowl. Scoop into colander, rinse the bowl, and repeat. Drain.

Cooking time for root vegetables like potatoes vary according to the size of the chunks. After peeling, I usually cut them in half lengthwise and then into ½-inch slices. Once the liquid comes to a boil, reduce the heat to a gentle and in about 15 minutes the potatoes are tender. To test, gently press a cube against the side of the pan; it should easily break apart.

Bouquet garni is a combination of parsley (stems only are fine), thyme, and bay leaf, which are wrapped in cheesecloth or stuffed into a sachet bag for easy removal at the end of cooking. This method imparts the earthy flavors of the herbs and keeps the soup pristine.

bouquet garni

White peppercorns are commonly used for this dish – the thinking is no one wants to see little specks of black pepper in the beautiful white soup. I, however, am not a fan of white peppercorns – I find them very bitter. I use cayenne, which gives a subtle underlying heat that, in my opinion, neither white nor black peppercorns impart.

There are few ingredients in this soup and it comes together easily. As with so many recipes, the flavor is best after it sits overnight, giving a uniformly delicious mouthful with every spoonful. My husband and I finished this soup in two days. We were scraping the bottom of the bowl. It is very flavorful, and the texture is silky smooth.

Hot vs Cold

Vichyssoise is typically served chilled. Chilling mutes the taste and aroma of food, so it’s important to be aggressive when seasoning food you plan to serve cold. The recipe below gives the amount of salt and cayenne for both a cold soup and a hot soup.

Vichyssoise

Melt the butter in the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.

Stir in the cleaned leeks, garlic, salt, and cayenne and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. This releases excess moisture and intensifies the flavor of the aromatics. Lower the heat a bit if the leeks are starting to brown.

leeks to saute

Add the potatoes, stock, and bouquet garni, bring to a boil, lower heat to a gentle simmer and cook until the potatoes are very tender, about 15 minutes. The time varies depending on the size of the potato pieces. I cut my potato in half lengthwise and then into 1/2-inch slices.

Vichyssoise in saucepan

Remove and discard the bouquet garni and let the soup cool for 20 minutes.

To purée, fill a blender or food processor with both solids and liquid to the halfway point and process until completely smooth. See our post/video on How to Safely Blend Hot Ingredients.

Stir in the half-and-half or cream. If you prefer not to use dairy, use a cup of stock.

Vichyssoise in a bowl

Serve chilled or hot with a generous garnish of chopped chives.

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Vichyssoise

Delicious hot or cold, this soup has a silky texture and earthy flavor. The chopped chives are not only a beautiful visual element, but the flavor complements the soup nicely.

  • Author: Trish Lobenfeld
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Yield: 2 quarts
  • Category: Soup

Ingredients

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 cups leeks, thinly sliced (about 1 ½ pounds whole leeks with generous white portions)
1 clove garlic minced
kosher salt:
Cold: 2 ½ teaspoons
Hot: 1 ½ teaspoons
¼ teaspoon cayenne
4 medium Idaho potatoes, peeled and cubed
4 cups good quality chicken or vegetable stock, such as More Than Gourmet
1 bouquet garni
1 cup cream, half and half, or stock

Garnish
chopped fresh chives

Instructions

Melt the butter in the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.

Stir in the cleaned leeks, garlic, salt, and cayenne and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. This releases excess moisture and intensifies the flavor of the aromatics. Lower the heat a bit if the leeks are starting to brown.

Add the potatoes, stock, and bouquet garni, bring to a boil, lower heat to a gentle simmer and cook until the potatoes are very tender, about 15 minutes. The time varies depending on the size of the potato pieces. I cut my potato in half lengthwise and then into 1/2-inch slices.

Remove and discard the bouquet garni and let the soup cool for 20 minutes.

To purée, fill a blender or food processor with both solids and liquid to the halfway point and process until completely smooth. See our video on How to Safely Blend Hot Ingredients.

Stir in the half-and-half or cream. If you prefer not to use dairy, use a cup of stock.

Serve chilled or hot with a generous garnish of chopped chives.

Notes

Vichyssoise is typically served chilled. Chilling mutes the taste and aroma of food, so it’s important to be aggressive when seasoning food you plan to serve cold. The recipe below gives the amount of salt and cayenne for both a cold soup and a hot soup.

Keywords: cold soup, hot soup, potato leek soup, potatoes, leeks, soup, gluten free, dairy free

Rosemary Honey-Mustard Sauce

Rosemary Honey-Mustard Sauce - in gravy bowl

Before we get into the ABCs of this delicious Rosemary Honey-Mustard Sauce, I want to tell you about a product I use in place of homemade or canned stock, or, heaven forbid, bouillon.

More Than Gourmet

More Than Gourmet display photo

First, I want to assure you that this is not a product-sponsored post – I don’t do them. More Than Gourmet doesn’t advertise or pay anyone to promote their products; they rely on word-of-mouth. My goal is to make you aware of a superior product and I want you to know about it because it’s a key ingredient in my soup, stew, and sauce recipes.

More Than Gourmet french demi-glace

Canned or store-bought stock is thin in flavor and I don’t like the fact that salt has been added, which limits using them in reductions. Back in the day, I used to make homemade stock. It was a 24-hour chore. Starting and skimming the stock, simmering overnight, straining, cooling, and finally putting in jars for freezing. It was worth it in terms of flavor, but very time consuming. It also seemed like I used it up quickly and was back at the chore again and again and again.

More Than Gourmet Sauce packet

I have an entire pantry door devoted to a wide variety of More Than Gourmet concentrated stock and demi-glace packets. These are a life-saver, especially when I make something spur of the moment, I know I’ll always have what I need on hand.

More Than Gourmet - my kitchen cabinet

I bring this to your attention, because it’s all I use in my recipes and I believe that my recipes benefit from the depth of flavor provided by these stocks and demi-glaces, which store-bought products can’t match.

Back to the Rosemary Honey-Mustard Sauce

Here is a quick and easy sauce that goes well with chicken and pork. It only takes about 20 minutes to make and it freezes well.

Heat the oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Slide the shallot, garlic, salt, and pepper into the hot pan, stir and sweat for 2 minutes. If the shallot begins to brown, lower the heat a smidge.

sweating the shallot and garlic in oil

Whisk in the orange zest and honey mustard. Stir in the stock or demi-glace, I used the roasted chicken demi-glace, which is more concentrated in flavor and creates a rich and tasty sauce.

adding the orange zest and honey mustard to shallots

Toss in the rosemary sprig and simmer for 5 minutes.

Discard the rosemary and pour the sauce over chicken or pork or serve in a ladled bowl on the side.

finished sauce Rosemary Honey-Mustard Sauce

Sauce freezes well.

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Rosemary Honey-Mustard Sauce

Make this quick and easy sauce to use over chicken or pork.

  • Author: Trish Lobenfeld
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: generous cup
  • Category: Sauce

Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 shallot, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
zest of one orange
2 teaspoons spicy honey mustard
1 cup chicken stock or demi-glace
1 sprig rosemary

Instructions

Heat the oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Slide the shallot, garlic, salt, and pepper into the hot pan, stir and sweat for 2 minutes. If the shallot begins to brown, lower the heat a smidge.

Stir in the orange zest, honey mustard to combine. Then whisk in the stock or demi-glace. The demi-glace is more concentrated in flavor and creates a very rich sauce.

Toss in the rosemary sprig and simmer for 5 minutes.

Discard the rosemary and pour the sauce over your chicken or pork or serve in a ladled bowl on the side.

Notes

Sauce freezes well.

Keywords: sauce, rosemary, honey mustard, gravy

 

Leek and Zucchini Casserole

Leek and Zucchini Casserole

Summer brings an abundance of zucchini either from your own garden or the farmers’ market. I found piles of leeks at the farmers’ market at the same time the zucchini reached peak season. As I eyed them, it was like they were screaming at me to make a Leek and Zucchini Casserole! I went a little crazy with this recipe in terms of over-the-top richness, — butter, Parmesan and Cheddar cheeses –but once in a while it’s so nice to sit down to an ooey-gooey mound of deliciousness on your plate.

Leek and Zucchini Casserole

How to Clean Leeks

First, let’s address those leeks. They’re sandy and require a thorough cleaning. Remove the dark green tops and the root portion at the bottom of the bulb and discard. Cut the leek in half lengthwise and then into thin slices. Toss into a large bowl of cold water and swish around. Take handfuls of the leeks and gently rub between your palms to separate the layers and loosen the dirt. Let sit for a few seconds so the dirt settles to the bottom of the bowl. Scoop the leeks into a colander. Drain, rinse, and refresh the bowl with cold water, and repeat the cleaning process once more. Drain.

Slicing the Zucchini

I used a mandolin to slice the zucchini into ¼-inch rounds, which is the perfect size for the time and temperature in this recipe. If you cut the zucchini by hand and make thicker slices, or just prefer thicker slices, increase the timing by a few minutes.

Leek and Zucchini Casserole

Herbs

Herbes de Provence is a lovely blend of Provencal herbs, which complements the delicate taste of this leek and zucchini casserole. I like Penzey’s herbes de Provence which contains rosemary, cracked fennel, thyme, savory, basil, tarragon, dill weed, oregano, lavender, chervil, and marjoram. Or, substitute something earthy like thyme or rosemary, either dried (same amount) or fresh (1 tablespoon, plus 1 ½ teaspoons minced).

Key Points for Success

Zucchini has a high-water content which is expelled during cooking. The only place it has to go is into the casserole and eventually over the sides onto the oven floor. I always recommend placing this style of recipe on a lined baking sheet to catch any drippings. But you can also take a couple of steps to prevent too prevent this.

The leeks and cream also contain water, dilute flavor and increase chances of spillage. Don’t skimp on the time suggested in the recipe to saute the leeks, which releases and evaporates the water and intensifies flavor. Same for the cream, cook it down until it’s thick enough to stay in place when stirred. Following these simple instructions yields a delicious, cheesy and less runny leek and zucchini casserole.

Leek and Zucchini Casserole

Let’s get started. Grease a 1-quart casserole dish with a little butter – I use my slightly smaller Le Creuset 24-ounce casserole dish – and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Melt the butter in the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.

Add the leeks, garlic, herbes de Provence, salt, and pepper. Stir to coat with the fat and saute for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. If the leeks begin to brown, reduce the heat a smidge.

Leek and Zucchini Casserole

Add the cream, bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a gentle boil, and cook until the cream is quite thick, about 6 or 7 minutes. When you run a spoon through the cream, it stays in place.

Leek and Zucchini Casserole

Stir in the Parmesan cheese.

Spread ¼ of the cream and leeks on the bottom of the greased casserole dish.

Leek and Zucchini Casserole

Lay ¼ of the zucchini slices on the bottom, overlapping slightly.

Leek and Zucchini Casserole

Repeat layering the cream and leek mixture and the zucchini 3 more times.

Strew the shredded Cheddar cheese over the top and bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes.

Leek and Zucchini Casserole

Let sit for 10 minutes to settle before serving.

Tip: The casserole can be prepared a day before cooking. Cover and refrigerate. Take out of the refrigerator and place in preheated oven; increase cooking time by 10 minutes.

 

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Leek and Zucchini Casserole

  • Author: Trish Lobenfeld
  • Prep Time: 40 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings
  • Category: Side Dish

Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for greasing the casserole dish
4 cups thinly sliced leeks
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons herbes de Provence
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
4 medium zucchini cut into ¼-inch coins
1 ½ cups (6 ounces) grated sharp Cheddar cheese

Instructions

Let’s get started. Grease a 1-quart casserole dish with a little butter – I use my slightly smaller Le Creuset 24-ounce casserole dish – and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Melt the butter in the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.

Add the leeks, garlic, herbes de Provence, salt, and pepper. Stir to coat with the fat and saute for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. If the leeks begin to brown, reduce the heat a smidge.

Add the cream, bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a gentle boil, and cook until the cream is quite thick, about 6 or 7 minutes. When you run a spoon through the cream, it stays in place.

Stir in the Parmesan cheese.

Spread ¼ of the cream and leeks on the bottom of the greased casserole dish.

Lay ¼ of the zucchini slices on the bottom, overlapping slightly.

Repeat layering the cream and leek mixture and the zucchini 3 more times.

Strew the shredded Cheddar cheese over the top and bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes.

Let sit for 10 minutes to settle before serving.

Notes

The casserole can be prepared a day before cooking. Cover and refrigerate. Take out of the refrigerator and place in preheated oven; increase cooking time by 10 minutes.

Keywords: casserole, side dish, leek, zucchini, cheddar cheese, Parmesan cheese, Herbes de Provence, gluten-free