Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Simply Sauteed Beets

Beets, really? Food Network's Fall Fest ends with a beet recipe. More like a challenge to me. As a young teenager, my father would attempt to feed me beets. Those gross canned pickled beets that stunk. I would refuse. My dad would tempt me by saying, "Beets will make your boobs big." Blah. He never convinced me to eat them. And I developed into a well-endowed lady regardless of not eating my beets.

Foodies I trust praise beets. They must know something. Guess it resides in how beets are prepared. While scouting out the best produce at the farmer's market by the municipal airport, I found a small bumper supply of fresh beets. Nothing much to look at from the exterior: brown, shriveled, not uniform, with wiry roots. The farmer was tending to another customer. The conversation extended into small talk. That's when I asked about the beets, seeing that he purchased the giant basket of them. The both raved about how sweet and tasty the fresh beets are, telling me the best way to prepare them is simply - to bring out the natural sweetness. Boil until fork tender, then saute with butter and salt. Then my friend came for a visit who's been living in Budapest, Hungary. She saw the beets and told me I should steam the beets to keep as much color and nutrients as possible. Apparently in Budapest, beets are bountiful. These beets, I have to admit, I liked. They had a balance of delicate sweetness and earthiness. And the color. Just like gems.

1 basket fresh beets, scrubbed
2 tablespoons butter (I used goat butter)
1 teaspoon salt (I used gray salt)

Cut the tops and bottoms off of the beets. Place in a steaming apparatus of what you have. Cover and steam until fork tender, about 30 minutes. Remove and allow to cool enough to handle. Using a spoon, carefully remove the skin. Cut into even wedges.

Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add in the butter, the beets, and the salt. Stir/toss occasionally for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and serve immediately.

-Erin Swing
The Sensitive Epicure

This is part of Food Network's Fall Fest, highlighting the produce that is in season. Check out The FN Dish. The seasonal produce we are focusing on beets. Come over to Twitter where we are discussing it on #cookingwith and #fallfest. Here are other delicious features on beets :

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Maple Bourbon Glazed & Braised Carrots

I love carrots. Especially their bright orange color. Usually, I eat carrots raw as carrot sticks. But I often forget how sweet carrots are when cooked. Another one of my favorites is roasted carrots with potatoes. It is rare to find a dish where the carrots are the star. One of the standard culinary carrot dishes I learned to make in culinary school was glazed carrots. Unfortunately, it rarely lived up to its potential. I believe due to the technical execution which consisted of boiling the carrots in too much water in a narrow sauce pan, resulting in watery and mushy carrots with no color left. Herein lies my redo of this classic. Braising proves perfect for glazing. Braising is when something is cooked in a wide covered dish with no added moisture over medium to high heat. Here my seasonings consist of my seasonal favorites: maple syrup, Kentucky bourbon (yes, it is gluten-free, made from corn: my choice Eagle Rare), nutmeg, and butter. My favorite cut for carrots is oblique which is easy, making all cut about the same size, and very fancy looking. Here's a link of oblique cut demonstration video. Special enough for the holidays. Easy enough for anyone to make. Tasty enough for everyone to enjoy.

1 pound carrots, peeled, cut oblique
1 tablespoon butter (or olive oil)
2 tablespoons (real) maple syrup
3 tablespoons Kentucky bourbon
dash nutmeg
salt, black and white pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon parsley, finely chopped (optional)

In a large skillet (make sure you have a tight-fitting lid for it), heat the butter, maple syrup, and bourbon over medium heat with occasional stirring, simmering for about 5 minutes to cook off alcohol. Add in cut carrots, a dash of nutmeg, pinches of salt and pepper. Stir. Cover with lid. Occasionally stir. After about 10 minutes, the carrots should appear darker and glazed. Check with a fork for tenderness and taste for seasonings. Once tender per your preference, remove from heat and toss in parsley if you would like. Serve immediately.

-Erin Swing
The Sensitive Epicure

This is part of Food Network's Fall Fest, highlighting the produce that is in season. Check out The FN Dish. The seasonal produce we are focusing on the carrot. Come over to Twitter where we are discussing it on #cookingwith and #fallfest. Here are other delicious features on carrots :

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Oyster Dressing & Gravy

To this day, my mother is the best cook I have ever known. She has been gone for over eight years, and I still find myself trying to replicate some of her culinary repertoire. I consider myself fortunate to learn so much from her, growing up in the kitchen, following her around. Mom always made a big to-do for holiday dinners with some of her annual specialties. My favorites were her oyster dressing and basic gravy on Thanksgiving. Yes, also known as stuffing. Both were very simple, but seasoned perfectly allowing the ingredients to speak for themselves.

My mom know that the aroma of sweating onions in butter would get me in the kitchen. Quick. Then our Thanksgiving duty would start. The toasting and crumbling of the bread. My sister and I would set up a toaster in the breakfast room and work at this for what seemed like hours. Now, I cube of the bread and toast all at once in the oven on jelly roll pans. Using the only best gluten-free bread, Udi's, and fresh oysters do cost a pretty penny. However, the results are worth it. It's Thanksgiving! In researching oyster dressing, I found that most of the recipes have bacon and cornbread in it. I find that distracts from the flavor of the oysters. Keep it simple. I rely on the flavors of browned butter, a seared turkey neck (for extra turkey flavor), onions, shallots, garlic, celery, and fresh herbs.

I prefer to bake the dressing separately in a dish rather than inside the turkey. A few reasons: food safety - the inside cavity of the turkey does not get hot fast enough to cook the stuffing; when baked in its on dish, the top gets a nice crust. Inevitably, if one tries to cook dressing inside the bird, the turkey always ends up overcooked and dry, while the stuffing is wet, mushy, and overcooked. That is why I prefer to put only flavoring components in the cavity such as citrus, herbs, seasonings, etc.

My mom always made what is called a pan gravy. That is, taking the pan drippings, broth, etc, heating them on the stove top and adding in a slurry of water and cornstarch to thicken. Since I do not have a turkey, I use chicken broth to make the gravy. Using a turkey neck brings more of a turkey flavor into the broth. The addition of herbs adds more flavor, too.

Oyster Dressing:
1 loaf of Udi's gluten-free white bread
1 stick butter, 4 ounces
1 turkey neck, cracked (by the butcher)
1 large yellow onion, diced small
4 ribs celery, diced small
1 shallot, minced
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon fresh sage, chopped fine
2-3 bay leaves
salt and pepper, to taste
2 cups good quality chicken stock
16 ounces oysters (with the juice)

1/2 stick butter
1 turkey neck, cracked (by the butcher)
1 quart of good quality chicken stock
2-3 stalks of  fresh thyme
small bundle fresh sage leaves
2-3 bay leaves
salt and white pepper to taste
4 tablespoons cornstarch starch

Oyster Dressing:
In a 325F oven, toast up the 1/2-3/4" cubed bread laid out in single layers for about 15 minutes until golden brown. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, melt the butter and sear the turkey neck on all sides. Turn the heat down to medium and add in the onions, celery, garlic, shallots, a pinch of salt, and the herbs. Once the aromatics have sweated, becoming translucent, add in 1 cup of the stock. Remove the turkey neck and bay leaves after about 5 minutes of cooking. Turn off heat. Add in remaining 1 cup of stock. Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed. Put the toasted bread in a large bowl. Pour the skillet of this goodness over the bread and gently mix with a large silicone spoon. Check again for seasoning. Then pour in the oysters and their nectar and stir until evenly distributed. Turn into a sprayed casserole dish and cook at 400F for 30 minutes.

In a large sauce pan, heat the butter over medium-high heat. Sear the turkey neck on all sides. Add in the stock and herbs. Allow to reduce with occasional stirring over 30-45 minutes. Taste for strength of turkey flavor and seasoning. Add salt and white pepper as needed. Stain using a fine mesh strainer. Return to heat, and put about 1/2 cup strained broth into a cup. Stir in the cornstarch starch into that cup, making a thick slurry. Add to the heating broth, stirring constantly over medium heat. Allow to simmer for about 5 minutes to cook out any of the uncooked starch flavor. Once it is slightly boiling for 1 minute, the starch has been cooked out and has thickened completely.

-Erin Swing
The Sensitive Epicure

This is part of Food Network's Fall Fest, highlighting the produce that is in season. Check out The FN Dish. In honor of Thanksgiving, Food Network is getting the entire food community together to celebrate a Virtual Thanksgiving, called The Communal Table. On twitter, join us by #pullupachair. Here are other delicious recipes that others are bringing to the table:

Cocktails, Appetizers, Soups and Salads:
Sweet Life Bake: Pumpkin Margarita
Easy Peasy Organic: Thanksgiving Ginger Cocktail
Dishin and Dishes: Butternut Squash Bruschetta With Sage Pesto
Mooshu Jenne: Green Salad
Two Peas and Their Pod: Maple-Roasted Butternut Squash Apple Salad
Jones is Hungry: Roasted Vegetable Salad
Purple Cook: Pasta and Bean Stew With Tomatoes and Broccoli Rabe
From My Corner of Saratoga: Curried Pumpkin Soup
CIA Dropout: Turkey and Stuffles Roulades With Squash Mash
FN Dish: Alton Brown's Good Eats Roast Turkey
My Angel's Allergies: Cranberry-Glazed Cornish Hens
Cafe Terra Blog: Cranberry Pumpkin Stuffing
Virtually Homemade: Twice-Baked Cheddar and Chive Potatoes
Easy Eats Magazine: Sausage and Dried Cranberry-Walnut Stuffing
The Sensitive Epicure: Oyster Dressing and Gravy
Daily*Dishin: Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes Supreme
What's Gaby Cooking: Rustic Herb Skillet Stuffing
Family Fresh Cooking: Coconut Brown-Butter Mashed Sweet Potatoes
Silvana's Kitchen: Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Mushroom-Rye Stuffing
The Cultural Dish: Cranberry Sauce
I Am Baker: Pumpkin Cake
Heather Christo: Pumpkin Vanilla Ice Cream Pie
And Love It Too: Pumpkin Custard (Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free)
Haute Apple Pie Girls: Double Pumpkin Mini Pies With Candied Pecans
Ladles and Jelly Spoons: Not Your Same Old Pumpkin Pie
Daydreamer Desserts: Cuban Diplomatic Pudding
Thursday Night Dinner: Red Wine Chocolate Cake
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Caramel Apple Pie

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Roasted Turnips with Olive Oil and Rosemary

Looking for a way to spice up your dinner? How about turnips? Turnip greens are notorious for their pepperiness and bitterness. I tend to think about the bulbous root when I think of turnips. Turnips contain bitter cyanoglucosides (and lots of vitamin C.) Some people who are genetic "supertasters" and tend to be more sensitive to more bitter compounds in food and could find turnips too peppery and bitter for their delicate palettes. Turnips can serve as an opportunity to add a pungent peppery punch to cut through a rich meal such as a pot roast or anything with a fatty cream sauce. Adding balance. While in culinary school, I was introduced to the turnip and the parsnip in the root vegetable cooking lab. We simply roasted a mixture of root vegetables for something complex and extraordinary. I decided to roast plain turnips in olive oil and rosemary with some salt and pepper. Simple as that. Very easy to prepare, and turnips peel much easier than most root vegetables. The smaller the turnip, the more tender. I add the rosemary in stages throughout the roasting process to layer the flavors.

1 pound turnips, peeled, medium dice cut
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to bake at 375F. In a roasting pan, combine the diced turnips, olive oil, salt, pepper, and a pinch of rosemary. Mix until evenly coated. Make sure the turnips are in an even single layer. Total roasting time is typically 45 minutes. Every 15 minutes, remove, add another pinch of rosemary until 1 pinch is left, and stir up and redistribute turnips before placing back in oven. Turnips are done roasting once the edges have browned. Taste for salt and pepper; add more if needed. Add final pinch of rosemary and toss again. Serve immediately.

-Erin Swing
The Sensitive Epicure

This is part of Food Network's Fall Fest, highlighting the produce that is in season. Check out The FN Dish. The seasonal produce we are focusing on the turnip! Come over to Twitter where we are discussing it on #cookingwith and #fallfest. Here are other delicious recipes featuring turnips:

Virtually Homemade: Turnip Gratin With Parmesan and Nutmeg
And Love It Too: Turnip Pancakes
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Turnips, Really?
Purple Cook: Vegetable Biryani With Turnips
Glory Foods: Turnip Greens With Potatoes and Mushrooms
Big Girls Small Kitchen: Creamed Turnips With Their Greens
FN Dish: Simply Roasted Turnips

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Cauliflower Souffle

Cauliflower proves to be polarizing. My husband does not like it, mostly due to its thio, sulfury, stinky compounds. I like it. Maybe if I made it baked with eggs, cheese, and other aromatic ingredients, he would like it better. I remembered my food-writer inspiration and friend had a recipe for souffleed cauliflower I wanted to try. Colman Andrews has a simple, beautiful recipe in his Country Cooking of Ireland. (This cookbook is so great, it won best cookbook of the year by the James Beard Foundation, beating out Thomas Keller last year.) This souffle turned out lovely: lightly, fluffy, tender cauliflower, slightly cheesy. It really highlights the cauliflower instead of covering it up. Nope, I could not get my husband to try it. More for me!

Cauliflower Souffle (Adapted from The Country Cooking of Ireland by Colman Andrews)
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons arrowroot starch
salt, white pepper, and nutmeg to taste
1/2 teaspoon powdered mustard
1 1/2 cups milk (hot)
1 large cauliflower, trimmed and divided into florets
2 large eggs, room temp, separated
1/2 cup (60 grams) grated Irish cheddar chesse

Put the cauliflower into a large bowl of cold salted water for 30 minutes. Drain out water. Cover and microwave for about 2 - 3 minutes until tender. Otherwise, boil the cauliflower for 10 minutes. Microwaving will retain the nutritional content of the cauliflower. Allow to cool.

In a medium sauce pan over medium heat, add in the butter and arrowroot. Whisk frequently until lightly bubbling. Add in a pinch of salt, white pepper, and nutmeg plus the mustard powder. Turn off heat. Slowly pour in the hot milk while whisking all at once. Turn heat back on to low/medium and continue to whisk until smooth and almost boiling. Taste for seasoning and add more per your taste. The bechamel (white sauce) should be thickened at this point. If not, continue to heat until slightly thick. Remove from heat. Add in the grated cheese with whisking until smooth. Add the egg yolk one at a time, whiking theim in until well combined.

Whip the egg whites until stiff and fold them into the souffle mixture in 1/3 increments.

Place the drained cauliflower florets into the bottom of the souffle pan(s) evenly. Spoon the souffle mixture over the cauliflower. Bake for 20 - 30 minutes, or until the souffle has risen and just stars to brown. Serves 4-6.

-Erin Swing
The Sensitive Epicure

This is part of Food Network's Fall Fest, highlighting the produce that is in season. Check out The FN Dish. The seasonal produce we are focusing on the chouxfleurs cauliflower! Come over to Twitter where we are discussing it on #cookingwith and #fallfest. Here are other delicious features on cauliflower:

Big Girls Small Kitchen: Cauliflower Soup With Sharp Cheddar and Thyme
Dishin & Dishes: Cauliflower Gratin

James Beard Chess Pie

Pie crust was this month's Gluten-Free Ratio Rally Challenge, hosted by Lisa of Gluten Free Canteen. Keep up the our activities on Twitter #gfreerally and join in! I decided to make chess pie, because I really had no clue what exactly it was. In my research, chess pie is a Southern Pie that has custard filling thickened with cornmeal: butter, brown sugar, eggs, vanilla, and the cornmeal. Then I pulled out my tried and true culinary reference book, James Beard American Cookery to find a different story and ingredients. According to James Beard, chess pie was brought over from England and now (1972) found prevalently in New England and the Virginias. Beard's recipe does not contain cornmeal, but contains walnuts and raisins or dates in addition to a little bit of acid to coagulate the egg proteins. I choose to make the Beard version of chess pie. As culinarians, we are trained to understand the fundamental basics before tinkering. As far as the crust goes, I wanted to keep it basic. Trying to follow Michael Ruhlman's pie crust/pate brisee recipe as close as possible for the ratios used.

The Gluten-Free Ratio Rally is a group of GF bloggers, rallied by Shauna of, where we put our on spin a a culinary standard. These culinary standards are known formulas, ratios, that professionals use. The caveat is that everything is done by weight, since weight is more standardized and much more accurate than measuring by volume. Which is foundation of the GFreeRally as started and explained by Gluten-Free Girl here. The book that we base our ratios is Michael Ruhlman's Ratio. Ruhlman's pie dough is a 3:2:1/flour:fat:water recipe. Keep in mind that butter contains about 50% water/50% fat, whereas shortening, lard, etc is 100% fat and 0% water. My final ratio was 340g:113g:57g/flour:butter:water, which really equals 3:1:2/flour:fat:water. My ratio differs because of a couple of different factors: gluten-free matrices leech out a lot more fat than the standard gluten-filled doughs; and changing the order of addition, utilizing the adding water as boiling to gelatinize the starches requires more water for the same consistency of dough. Gelatinzing the flours gives a great elastic quality to gluten-free doughs as well as giving it strength so it does not break quite as badly, without having to use additional rheology modifiers, i.e., xanthan or guar gums.

I found the James Beard version of chess pie to be perfect for fall and winter. It is sweet and rich, having a thin almost burnt caramel crust on top with a messy and gooey filling, reminscensent of a light and fluffy pecan pie filling. The chopped walnuts, raisins, and dates add texture and more depth to this pie filling. I think this pie would be perfect for any fall or winter holiday. Especially a la mode, with some great quality vanilla ice cream or gelato on top. Someday, I will have to try what is modern chess pie. Until then, I will enjoy the "original chess pie." Wow, it really is addictive. Maybe a small slice with a cup of tea on this brisk morning...

James Beard Chess Pie:
Pie Crust:
120 grams sweet rice flour
110 grams blanched almond flour
110 grams cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
113 grams boiling water
113 grams (1 stick) cold, unsalted butter

Chess Pie Filling:
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup raisins, currants, or chopped dates (I used raisins + dates due to pantry availability)
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, room temp
1 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs, room temp
1/4 cup half & half, room temp
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup orange, lemon, grape juice or sherry (I used sherry)

Pie Crust:
Preheat oven to 325F. Combine the flours and salt in a food processor fitted with a blade. With the processor running, add in the boiling water. Mix for 2 minutes, stopping and scrapping the walls. Evenly distribute with spatula in work bowl, cover, and allow to cool to room temperature or a little cooler. Putting it in the fridge helps expedite this process. Return to processor, turn on, and slowly add in the cold butter cut into small pieces. Use a spatula to help work this dough, it can be unruly. Do not use your hands. The heat from your hands will melt the butter. The cold butter will remain in small chunks, giving a flakiness to the crust. Once all worked in, turn out onto a sheet of parchment paper or plastic wrap. Put another piece on top. Roll out until about 1/3 inch thickness, or large enough to fill a 9 inch diameter pie pan generously. Transfer to sheet pan and chill slightly until firm, yet pliable. Remove top sheet from dough, put that side down into the pie pan. Carefully work from the center out, forming the dough to fit the pan. Remove the other sheet. Using a butter knife, remove excess pie dough. To give a fancy scalloped edge, pinch the edge using forefinger between forefinger and thumb of other hand. Dock the pie crust by poking with a fork. Bake for about 20-25 minutes until just barely golden brown. Allow to cool before adding in pie filling.

Chess Pie Filling:
Have oven ready at 425F. In a large (dry) skillet, heated over medium heat, toast up the walnuts and dried fruits. This a a great way to add a toasty flavor to the walnuts, removing any bitterness, as well as rehydrating and plumping up the dried fruits. (Oh, I bet dried cranberries could be a great seasonal variation. I must try!) Stir/toss occasionally, do not let get too brown. Takes about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
Cream the butter with the sugar and beat in the eggs. Stir in the remaining ingredients. Yes, it will look curdled and like a mess. It will all bake out. Pour into the baked pie shell/crust. Bake the pie (on a jelly roll pan for boil over) 15 minutes at 425F. Reduce the heat to 325F and bake for another 20 minutes longer. Cool on a rack, allow to set before serving.

Don't forget to head on over to Lisa's host post to see her amazing tart/pies and all the other fantastic recipes brought to you by rally participants this month! Thanks again Lisa! Also, if you're on Twitter, search #GFreeRally

-Erin Swing
The Sensitive Epicure

TR from No One Likes Crumbley Cookies Chocolate Mousse Pie
Jean Layton from Gluten-Free Doctor Cheese Crusted Apple Pie
Irvin from Eat the Love Double Butterscotch Apple Pie
Kate from katealicecookbook Kale & Zucchini Tart
Jenn from Jenn Cuisine Sweet Potato and Duck Pot Pie
Caleigh from Gluten Free[k] Leek and Potato Pie
Karen from Cooking Gluten Free Pie
Rachel from The Crispy Cook Maple Walnut Pie
Claire from Gluten Freedom Autumn Pumpkin Spice Pie
Silvana Nardone from Silvana’s Kitchen Chicken Potpie
Caneel from Mama Me Gluten Free Green Tomato Pie
Meredith from Gluten Free Betty Blueberry Pie
Shauna from Gluten-free Girl and the Chef Fresh Pumpkin Pie
Brooke from B & the boy! Pot Pie
Lisa from Gluten Free Canteen Frangipane Apple Tart
 ~Mrs. R from Honey From Flinty Rocks Mock Apple Pie