Truffled Delicata & Wheatberry Salad

Quick! Better go stock up on canned food and water before “Frankenstorm 2012″!

But first, I’d like to share a little gem of a grain salad I whipped up earlier this week. I’d been working on the recipe for a while, then the day I went to make it, Deb posted almost the SAME salad at Smitten Kitchen. Yes, she used butternut squash instead of delicata, farro and not wheat berries, and pepitas for the almonds. But dang – it’s pretty darn close. I’m sure hers is rather impressive, but I decided to go forth and cook mine anyways. I’ll let you be the judge.

The dressing in this salad calls for some slightly special ingredients. If you can’t find (or don’t want to purchase) golden balsamic vinegar, I think you could use regular balsamic, apple cider vinegar, or even sherry or champagne vinegars, if you have those hanging around. The almond oil flavor is subtle, so you could get away with just using olive there, but the truffle oil is what makes the salad. That being said, if you don’t have the $10 to shell out for the tiny bottle (it lasts forever, and a little goes a long way) but you can use another oil in it’s place. Just be aware that you may have to do a little tweaking to other ingredients to make the flavors pop without it. And of course any squash will work here. I like delicata because it doesn’t need peeling, and makes pretty flower shapes when sliced.

Truffled Delicata & Wheatberry Salad

1 large delicata squash, about 1-1 1/2 lbs.
olive oil
sea salt
1 c. hard winter wheat berries
1/4 c. slivered almonds
1 very small garlic clove, minced
2 tsp. golden balsamic vinegar (or other vinegar)
2 tsp. almond oil (or more olive oil)
2 tsp. black truffle oil
1/4 c. oregano, chopped
2 oz. crumbled goat cheese

Preheat the oven to 425. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Slice both ends off the squash, then slice into 1/2 or so slices. Using a spoon (I used a small, pointy tipped dessert spoon) scoop the seeds and membrane out of the middle of each slice. Pour a tablespoon or two of oil onto the baking sheet and dredge the slices through it, coating on both sides. Sprinkle generously with salt. Slide into the oven and roast for 25-30 minutes, flipping once halfway. Once they are soft all the way through, you can put them under the broiler for a few minutes to get the outside nice and brown. Set aside.

While the squash are roasting, combine the wheat berries and a scant 2 cups of water in a heavy-bottomed pot. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 45 minutes or more, until they are tender, but still pop. Drain the excess water if you need to, then set aside.

Place almonds in a small, dry skillet over medium heat and toast until browned and fragrant, just a few minutes.

Finally, make the dressing by squishing the garlic and some salt together to make a paste. You can use a mortar and pestle, or the side of a chefs knife. To the garlic paste, add the vinegar, then the oils, and whisk to combine.

To assemble the salad, toss the wheat berries with most of the almonds, oregano and all the goat cheese. Pour the dressing on top and stir to coat. Carefully stir in the squash slices (or just lay them on top) and finish with the remaining almonds and oregano.

serves 3 as a main, 6 as a side.

Summer Squash Mini Flatbread

My plans for Labor Day involved a frittata, some “Mars” grapes, a big loaf of fresh baked bread, and a picnic near the water. Unfortunately my picnic companion didn’t get home until after sunset, and I wasted 5 cups of beautiful local spelt flour trying to rescue a wad of dough and make it into bread. We ended up with a late, intimate dinner of room temperature eggs and some biscuits, at the dining table. Still good, but not quite what we had in mind.

After that bread fiasco I decided that the “pizza crust” for this recipe had to be easy, no rise, and flatbread-y. I used a recipe Jeanine posted a while back  to make some yogurt flatbread. Of course, I had no more spelt flour, so I had to use the whole grain pastry flour I had on hand. Between that and the 110% humidity we’ve got right now, I ended up using almost double the amount of flour called for. Still, it ended up turning out ok {phew!} so I’m thinking it might be time to go back to the drawing board on that bread loaf. Be on the lookout for the recipe. Eventually.

This recipe may look a bit time consuming, but a lot of the time is waiting around, checking email (or taking pictures) and it’s not too difficult. Plus, you end up with a no-fail, mini pizza kind of deal, with homemade crust. I used the pesto I had leftover from this, but you can use your favorite pesto here.

Summer Squash Mini Flatbread

Dough:
1/2 – 1 c. flour (spelt or whole wheat would be best, but I used whold wheat pastry)
1/2 c. yogurt
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. sea salt

Toppings:
1/2 c. pesto
1 T. olive oil
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1 small summer squash or zucchini, sliced paper thin
a few oz. goat cheese (optional)
chopped fresh basil, for garnish

Combine all the dough ingredients in a bowl and mix until combined. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for a minute or so until smooth. Start with 1/2 of flour, then add more as needed to get rid of any stickiness. Wrap in plastic wrap and slip into the fridge for at least 30 minutes, preferably an hour.

While you’re waiting, slice those onions. Heat the oil in a skillet over low heat and cook the onions until brown and sweet, this could take up to 30 minutes, but don’t skimp, you’ll love that caramelized flavor. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 450. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

Once the dough is ready, unwrap it and place it on that floured surface again. Divide in half, then in half again to form 4 hunks of dough. Roll each piece out with a floured rolling pin and place them on the baking sheet. Spread some pesto on each piece, then top with the caramelized onions, squash and goat cheese. Slide into the oven for about 15 minutes, until the crust gets the faintest hint of brown.

Sprinkle each piece with some of the basil, slice and serve.

serves 2 as a main, 4 as an appetizer

Pink Potato Pizza

Every year around this time, my mom, sister and I have our annual “Manhattan Vacation”. We rent a little hotel suite in Murray Hill for a long weekend and spend our time doing things I could never afford on my own (broadway shows, fancy restaurants, taking cabs), and tourist-y things I don’t usually do the rest of the year (museums, walk the Brooklyn Bridge). Once we did the Sex in the City bus tour (not my finest moment…but there were some good Cosmopolitan’s involved).

One thing that happens every year without fail is the gourmet pizza shop. Mom’s a thin crust pizza fiend (who isn’t, really?) and Ohio doesn’t have many fancy pizza joints, so she always goes for the most unusual ingredients. This potato pizza is inspired by her. There is a flavorful basil drizzle with olive oil and garlic, thin slices of pink potatoes (you can use any waxy potato here – yukon gold is good and easy to find), and goat cheese. I found some beautiful microgreens that I piled on top after it came out of the oven.

The crust is a spelt sourdough, I used this recipe, which I highly recommend if you have a sourdough starter. If not, there are lots of good recipes on the world wide web for  pizza dough, ranging from easy as pie 1 hour rise, to no knead, makes a ton so you can freeze the rest and have pizza whenever you want. Another option is to stop by the deli counter at your grocers, or a pizza shop, and just ask for some dough.

Pink Potato Pizza

enough pizza dough for one pizza
2 c. tightly packed basil
1/2 tsp. sea salt
2-3 T. olive oil
1 small garlic clove
2-3 small waxy potatoes, sliced so thin you can see through them
2 oz. goat cheese
a few handfuls of microgreens (or baby greens of some sort)
1 tsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp lemon juice or vinegar

Preheat oven to 500 for at least 20 minutes. Place a baking stone or baking sheet in the oven to preheat.

Combine basil, salt and garlic in a food processor. Turn on to puree. With the machine running, drizzle in the olive oil. You may need to stop and scrape the sides of the workbowl a few times. Set aside.

Lay out a sheet of parchment paper on your work space. Using floured hands, pull and press the pizza dough into your desired shape on the parchment.

Spread the basil mixture over the dough. Top with potato slices, mostly in a single layer, but some can overlap. Layer dollops of goat cheese on top.

Take the baking stone out of the oven. Transfer the pizza, parchment and all, to the stone, and place back in the oven. Cook for 10-15 minutes. The dough should be starting to brown, and potatoes should be cooked through.

While the pizza is cooking, combine 1 tsp. of olive oil with 1/2 tsp. of lemon juice or vinegar. Add a pinch of salt and pepper. Whisk (I use a fork) to combine, then toss in the greens.

To serve, lay the greens atop the pizza and cut into wedges.

serves 2-3

 

Breakfast Salad: A Guest Post

My sister and I are pretty close. Always have been. While other sisters fought over toys, clothes and boys, my sis and I were busy playing dress up and taking pictures (yes, even in high school…). Which is why I am thankful that we still live so close (seeing that we are from western Ohio, and we now both live in the same Brooklyn Neighborhood, that’s pretty rare). We still play dress up sometimes, but other times we like to eat and cook – and drink – together.

You might not know it to look at her, but my sis is quite the cook. At our 4th of July b-b-q, she brought the house down with her salad. Mixed greens, dried cherries, diced apples, candied pecans and a citrus dressing. So I asked her to do a guest post, and luckily she agreed. We were going to have dinner, and she’d make the salad. But, dinner didn’t happen. Instead, a brunch was planned. Lots of brunchy ideas were thrown around (I’d love to tell you what they were, but they are top secret, maybe a future guest post…) and finally she landed on a Breakfast salad. A delicious experiment with peaches, goat cheese, those famous candied pecans, and french toast croutons, all drizzled with a maple-based dressing.

There are a few things that make my sis the best salad-maker around. She is meticulous with the details. And she does her research. When prepping the lettuce, she pulls out all of the big veins, leaving just the soft lettuce leaves.

And the batter for her french toast uses only egg yolks for richness. Her tips for separating yolk from white are: 1. always use a separate bowl, and 2. If the egg white is thick, you can use the shell to cut through it.

 

 

Breakfast Salad

French Toast Croutons:
4 cups of cubed bread (I used focaccia, you can use any crusty bread you’d like)
4 egg yolks
3 tablespoons half & half
Zest of 1 lemon
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1-2 T. butter

Candied pecans:
1 cup pecans
1 T. butter
2-3 T. brown sugar

Maple lemon dressing:
3 T. maple syrup (the real stuff)
3 T. fresh lemon juice
2 T. olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

big batch of leafy greens
2 peaches, sliced
2 oz. goat cheese

First make the croutons. Combine egg yolks, half and half, zest,cinnamon, vanilla and salt in a bowl and stir until smooth. Add bread, toss to coat thoroughly, then let sit about 10-15 min. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt butter until bubbly and just brown. Add croutons and let brown on 1 side for about 5 min, then flip and do the same for another 5 min. Cook and flip until they are all golden brown and tasty.

Meanwhile, candy the pecans. In a skillet over medium heat, melt butter and sugar together.  Add pecans and toss to coat. Cook for about 5-10 min, stirring often. Keep your eye on them, as they can burn before you know it.  When they’re done, transfer to a plate to cool. If you’d like, crush them a little after they are done to make them more bite size. This recipe makes more than you’ll use for the salad, but you can save the leftovers in the fridge to add to salad and other things throughout the week.

Combine all dressing ingredients in a jar and shake.

To assemble salad, toss greens, peaches, cheese, and pecans together in a large bowl. Drizzle in about half the dressing. Top with the croutons, then with a bit more dressing.

serves 2

Creamy Green Onion Pasta

This has been the week of de-cluttering. So far we have taken stacks of clothes and books to Goodwill, sold 2 celli and a bass amp (and are still waiting for takers on the drum kit), donated a futon to the skateboard shop downstairs, bought a bookshelf to organize the stuff we’re still keeping, and rearranged the entire apartment. Sometimes it feels nice to get rid of what is no longer serving you –  purging your life of what you used to be to make way for what you will become. This summer is the beginning of some big changes in my life, as well as my boy’s life. I’ll be sharing some of those changes with you later, but in the meantime let’s just make some room for some good things to happen.

So, somehow I ended up with a HUGE bunch of green onions, and little else, and had to make some room in the fridge.

So I cut them all up, sauteed with some oil and salt, and at the last minute they got blended with a bit of goat cheese for a creamy sauce for pasta. I think Heidi made a similar sauce in Super Natural Cooking.

For a garnish, some toasted pine nuts, oregano (though you could use basil or another herb) and more goat cheese.

Creamy Green Onion Pasta

12 oz. whole what pasta (I used a gobbetti shape)
1 big bunch of green onions (at least 12) roughly chopped
2 T. olive oil, divided
1/2 to 3/4 tsp. sea salt (depending on how salty your goat cheese is)
4 oz. goat cheese, divided
1/4 c. pine nuts
2-3 T. fresh oregano, or another herb

Cook pasta according to package directions. Mine said to boil for 10-12 minutes. Make sure to taste for doneness. Reserve 1/4 cup of the pasta water and drain the pasta. Set aside.

Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a skillet over medium low heat. Add green onions and cook for 5-6 minutes, until they turn bright green, but make sure not to let them brown. Transfer to a food processor, or use an immersion blender. Combine the onions with the remaining oil, salt, and the reserved pasta water. Process until fairly creamy, but still has a few chunks. Stir in half of the goat cheese until melted.

Heat a dry skillet over medium heat. Toast the pine nuts until just starting to turn brown. Keep a close eye out, they go from raw to burnt in an instant.

Combine the pasta and sauce in a serving bowl. Top with the pine nuts, oregano, and the rest of the goat cheese, crumbled.

serves 3-4

 

Sweet & Savory Bruschetta + The Food Matters Project

This is my first week participating in the Food Matters Project. It is a group of food bloggers all cooking from Mark Bittman’s Food Matters Cookbook. Someone picks a recipe each week, and everyone posts their own take on it. I’ve been following for a few weeks, and I love seeing the endless variations other cooks are putting together. This week is “Bruschetta…Rethought”. The idea is that you thickly slice and toast some good bread, and add whatever you can throw together from your fridge on top. You can check out the original post here.

For my bruschetta, I used some homemade sourdough bread (you’re jealous already, I know), made with half white bread flour, locally grown and ground. Eventually, when I perfect the recipe, I will post it here, but for those who want to try now, here is the recipe I’ve been using. On one half I piled what I’m calling “Truffled Cremini with Shaved Parmesan”, the other half of the bread was treated with “Raspberry-Lemon Drizzle and Goat Cheese”. Jealous and drooling? You’ll have to make it for yourself. Good thing it’s super quick and easy. Especially if you just buy a nice whole grain baguette.

This is not so much of a recipe (though you will find the recipes below), as it is an idea. Don’t like mushrooms? Swap in some sauteed greens. Vegan? Use some toasted walnuts instead of the cheese. Click the Food Matters link above for tons more ideas. These are of course great as appetizers, but I had them as a light lunch (dessert built in!). I’m also picturing a “bruschetta bar” with a few different toppings made up, a big salad and some wine out on the “deck” (or in my case, fire escape).

Sweet & Savory Bruschetta

1 baguette, thickly sliced

Truffled Cremini with Shaved Parmesan
1 T. butter
8 oz. cremini mushrooms, 1/2″ to 1″ dice
1 plump garlic clove, finely minced
a few pinches of sea salt
1/2 tsp. black truffle oil
a small hunk of Parmigiano-Reggiano

Raspberry-Lemon Drizzle and Goat Cheese
1 pint raspberries (fresh or frozen)
juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 small pinch of sea salt
1 T. raw honey (or to taste)
a few oz. of goat cheese

Preheat the oven to 425. Toast the bread slices on a baking sheet until very warm and slightly crisp on the outside.

Meanwhile, make the toppings. For the mushrooms, melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the mushrooms, stir to coat in the butter, and cook until they start to release liquid, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and salt. Saute for another minute or so to evaporate the liquid. Transfer to a bowl and drizzle on the truffle oil. Using a vegetable peeler, shave some pieces of cheese off the hunk and add to the mushrooms, or serve on the side.

For the raspberry topping, heat the raspberries in a skillet over medium heat until they break down, 10 minutes for fresh, less for frozen. When they have lost all shape, remove from heat and stir in the lemon, salt and honey. Serve with the goat cheese, preferably room temperature.