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Pear-Custard Pie

By Barbara Beltrami

When in doubt about what to say about something, I always go to good old Ralph Waldo Emerson, my favorite quotable person (except for my grandmother). And, sure enough, he has come through for me again. He writes, “There are only ten minutes in the life of a pear when it is perfect to eat.” And that’s the truth. 

Not ripe and it is flavorless and resistant to the bite. Overripe and it’s a sloppy, juicy mess. And how quickly it morphs from one to the other. That’s if you’re going to eat a pear au naturel. But suppose you miss that 10-minute window, then what? Here are some recipes to save the day and the pear.

Pear and Arugula Salad with Prosciutto and Goat Cheese

YIELD: Makes 4 servings

INGREDIENTS:

4 generous handfuls fresh arugula

4 firm ripe pears, pared, cored, halved and cut into ¼-inch slices

8 slices prosciutto

Four 1-inch-thick slices herbed goat cheese

4 to 6 ounces raspberry vinaigrette

DIRECTIONS:

Place one handful arugula on each of four salad plates. Arrange pear slices in a petal formation over arugula; lay prosciutto slices attractively over pears; top with goat cheese. Drizzle with raspberry vinaigrette and serve at room temperature with toasted baguette slices and dry white wine.

Pear-Custard Pie

Pear-Custard Pie

YIELD: Makes 8 servings

INGREDIENTS:

1 prebaked 8- or 9-inch pie crust

3 not quite or just ripe pears, pared, cored, halved and sliced thin

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup flour

¾ cup milk

3 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon salt

Confectioners’ sugar

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line pie crust with pear slices in a slightly overlapping pattern. In a blender or food processor combine the sugar, flour, milk, eggs, vanilla and salt. Pour mixture over pears. Bake 40 to 50 minutes until knife inserted in center comes out clean, top is golden and custard is firm to touch. Let sit 30 minutes before sprinkling with confectioners’ sugar. Serve warm or at room temperature with coffee, tea, a dessert wine or milk.

Pears Poached in Red Wine

YIELD: Makes 4 servings

INGREDIENTS:

½ 750-ml bottle of dry red wine

2 to 2½ cups water

11/3 cups sugar

2 cinnamon sticks

4 to 6 cloves

3 orange slices with rind

4 slightly underripe pears, pared, cored and stem left on

DIRECTIONS:

Combine wine with all ingredients except pears in 3-quart or similar size saucepan. Place pears in liquid. Cover and simmer over low flame, turning frequently and basting so fruit becomes evenly stained by wine, until it is tender but firm, about 45 minutes depending on size of fruit. Remove pears and set aside; continue cooking poaching liquid over medium heat until it is thickened and syrupy, about 10-15 minutes. Return pears to hot liquid and turn to coat evenly. Remove pan from heat. Serve warm drizzled with thickened liquid and accompanied by Gorgonzola cheese and biscotti.

Sausage, Peppers, Onion and Tomato Hero

By Barbara Beltrami

Ever since one of my favorite readers suggested I do recipes on sausages, I’ve been combing my files for my favorite and most successful ones. Surely pasta with broccoli rabe and sausage is a staple in my repertoire of easy hearty meals, and kielbasa with potatoes, sauerkraut and apples is another. And for an ever popular sandwich, especially when I’ve got the grill going, there’s the sausage, pepper, onion and tomato hero. None of these recipes is particularly exotic, delicate or light, but each one is a delicious interruption to a string of ho-hum meals.

Orecchiette with Sausage and Broccoli Rabe

YIELD: Makes 6 to 8 servings

INGREDIENTS:

1 pound orecchiette pasta

1 pound sweet Italian sausage

2 bunches broccoli rabe, washed and stems removed

¼ cup olive oil

½ teaspoon or more, or more, if desired, crushed red pepper flakes

6 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced thin

Coarse salt to taste

2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

DIRECTIONS:

Cook pasta according to package directions; reserve cooking water in pot. Set pasta aside to keep warm. In a large heavy skillet over medium heat, cook sausages until brown on all sides; remove from skillet and when cool enough to handle cut into half-inch slices. Set aside to keep warm. Drain all but one tablespoon sausage fat.  In reserved pasta water cook broccoli rabe until bright green and tender, 5 to 10 minutes. Drain and transfer to skillet, add olive oil, red pepper flakes, garlic, salt and sliced sausage; stir and cook over medium heat 5 minutes until garlic is cooked through but not brown. Place pasta in a large bowl, add sausage and broccoli rabe mixture, toss, then sprinkle with grated cheese. Serve with a tomato and mozzarella salad and warm, crusty bread and extra virgin olive oil for dipping.

Kielbasa with Sauerkraut, Potatoes and Apples

YIELD: Makes 6 servings

INGREDIENTS:

1 pound sauerkraut, drained

3 medium potatoes, peeled, cut into 1-inch chunks and boiled in salted water 5 minutes

2 medium apples, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks

½ cup flat beer

¼ teaspoon caraway seeds

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 pound kielbasa, cut into 1-inch slices

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 375 F. Grease a two-quart casserole. In a large bowl, toss together the sauerkraut, potatoes, apples, beer, caraway seeds and black pepper. Top with kielbasa slices; cover and bake for 10 minutes; uncover and bake for another 20-30 minutes, until kielbasa is brown and other ingredients are heated through and tender. Serve hot with pumpernickel bread and butter, pickled beets and beer.

Sausage, Peppers, Onion and Tomato Hero

Sausage, Peppers, Onion and Tomato Hero

YIELD: Makes 6 to 8 servings

INGREDIENTS:

8 sweet or hot Italian sausages, cut into 4 pieces each 

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

3 garlic cloves, peeled, mashed and minced

5 red or yellow bell peppers, washed, cleaned and seeded, and cut into 1-inch-wide strips

3 green bell peppers, washed, cleaned and seeded, and cut into 1-inch-wide strips

1 pound fresh tomatoes, coarsely chopped

2 large onions, peeled and sliced

1 handful parsley, washed and chopped

Salt to taste

DIRECTIONS:

In a large skillet over medium heat, brown the sausage pieces on all sides; leave in pan. In same skillet heat the oil and garlic; remove garlic as soon as it starts to brown. Add peppers, cover pan and cook over low heat until they are slightly limp, about 8 minutes. Add tomatoes, onions, parsley and salt. Toss all ingredients together. Return cover to pan, but leave it slightly askew. Cook 30 minutes, until all veggies are soft. Serve hot on crusty Italian bread accompanied by marinated artichokes, olives, eggplant caponata and provolone cheese.

Pumpkin-Butterscotch Muffins

By Barbara Beltrami

When the kids were little, we used to carve pumpkins and then use the insides to make all kinds of pumpkin goodies: pumpkin bread, which we froze for Thanksgiving; pumpkin soup and pie and pudding; and cookies and cakes. Each year we would try a new recipe for the jack-o’-lantern’s innards; sometimes it was great like the pumpkin-butterscotch muffins and sometimes it was awful like the pumpkin tapioca. But we always had fun looking up recipes and concocting something new. Here are two of our success stories.

Pumpkin-Butterscotch Muffins

Pumpkin-Butterscotch Muffins

YIELD: Makes 10 to 12 muffins

INGREDIENTS:

½ cup sugar

¼ cup brown sugar

¼ cup vegetable oil

2 eggs

¾ cup pureed cooked fresh pumpkin, drained

¼ cup water

1¼ cups flour

¼ cup whole wheat flour

¾ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

2/3 cup butterscotch morsels

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 400 F. Grease a muffin pan or insert paper liners. In a medium bowl, combine sugars, oil and eggs. Stir in pumpkin and water. In a large bowl, sift together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg. Add the pumpkin mixture and butterscotch morsels; stir until just combined. Do not overmix. Fill muffin cups two-thirds full and bake 20 to 25 minutes, until crusty on top and a cake tester inserted in center comes out clean. Serve with cream cheese, butter or apple butter and hot coffee, tea or chocolate.

Pumpkin Crumble

Pumpkin Crumble

YIELD: Makes 10 to 12 servings

INGREDIENTS:

1 stick unsalted butter

4 cups pureed cooked fresh pumpkin, drained 

2 cups light cream or half and half

1½ cups sugar

3 large eggs

1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup rolled oats (not quick cook or instant)

1 cup brown sugar, packed

¾ cup flour

½ cup finely chopped pecans

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350 F. With one tablespoon of the butter, grease the bottom and sides of a 13×9×5-inch baking dish. In a medium-large bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, cream, sugar, eggs, pumpkin pie spice and half the salt until well blended. In a large bowl, combine the oats, brown sugar, flour, pecans and remaining half teaspoon salt. Melt remaining butter, add to oat mixture and toss well. Spread pumpkin mixture evenly over bottom of prepared dish; sprinkle oat mixture on top. Bake 45 to 50 minutes until pumpkin mixture is set but a little wobbly in the middle if dish is moved back and forth and oat mixture is golden and crisp. Serve warm or at room temperature with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream and hot apple cider.

Pasta with Walnut Sauce

By Barbara Beltrami

Come October it was always there. The peaches and plums and cherries in the big yellow bowl on the kitchen table gave way to apples and pears and walnuts accompanied by an ancient slightly rusty nutcracker and mother of pearl-handled fruit knives thrust among them. When we came home from school, we would grab a piece of fruit and a handful of nuts on our way upstairs to do our homework. Inevitably we would be chastened later for having left a trail of nutshell shards behind us and not putting the nutcracker back in the bowl. If you like walnuts as much as I did and still do, here are some recipes you’ll love.

Pasta with Creamy Walnut Sauce

Pasta with Walnut Sauce

YIELD: Makes 1½ to 2 cups sauce

INGREDIENTS:

1 pound pasta

1¼ cups chopped shelled walnuts

1 garlic clove

¹/3 cup light cream

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/2 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped

Salt and ground black pepper, to taste

1/2 cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese

DIRECTIONS:

Cook pasta in salted water according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a food processor combine walnuts and garlic; pulse a few times until coarsely chopped. Add cream, oil, thyme, salt and pepper and process to a coarse paste with pieces still remaining. Add 4 tablespoons pasta water and Parmesan cheese and pulse a few more times (sauce should be chunky, not smooth). If desired, place sauce in a small skillet over medium heat to warm. Transfer pasta to a large serving bowl and pour sauce over it. Serve with a light salad or green vegetable on the side.

Candied Walnuts

Candied Walnuts

YIELD: Makes 3 cups

INGREDIENTS:

1/3 cup sugar

3 tablespoons brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Dash of freshly ground black pepper

1 large egg white at room temperature

1/2 pound shelled walnuts

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 300 F. In a small bowl, combine the sugars, salt, cinnamon and pepper. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg white till frothy; add one tablespoon room temperature water and whisk in. Add walnuts and stir to coat; add sugar mixture and stir again. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment and spread nuts on it. Bake 15 minutes, stir the nuts, then bake another 15 minutes until nuts are toasted and sugar coating is caramelized. Serve alone as a snack or with salad or cheese.

Walnut–Arugula Pesto

Walnut Arugula Pesto

 

YIELD: Makes 1 cup

INGREDIENTS:

1/3 cup chopped walnuts

1 garlic clove

2 cups tightly packed arugula

1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

2/3 to 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Salt and ground black pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS:

Place all ingredients in an electric food processor and, stopping to scrape sides of bowl frequently, process until smooth and light green. Serve with pasta, crostini, crackers, chips, chicken or fish, as a sandwich spread or dip.

Spaghetti Squash with Tomatoes, Shallots and Mushrooms

By Barbara Beltrami

A recent trip to a farm stand out east provided more than I had bargained for. I had stopped to pick up winter squash as an accompaniment to a flavorful main dish. But when I beheld the cornucopia of varieties gorgeous and green and gold, earthy and tawny, tumbling from crates and mounded in baskets, I felt like a kid in a candy shop. I wanted to buy them all. However, I showed remarkable restraint and took home just a couple of spaghetti and acorn squashes. Then I couldn’t decide between the following two recipes so I made them both! 

Stuffed Winter Squash

YIELD: Makes 4 to 8 servings.

INGREDIENTS:

1 large, 2 medium or 4 small winter squash, any variety

3/4 cup unseasoned breadcrumbs

¹/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Chopped leaves from one handful Italian flat-leaf parsley

2/3 cup pignoli nuts

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil or 2 teaspoons minced fresh oregano, thyme or sage

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 400 F. Wash, halve and seed the squash. With a sharp spoon scrape out flesh until only half an inch is left inside the shell. Place flesh in a food processor and puree until as smooth as possible. Transfer to a medium bowl; add breadcrumbs, cheese, parsley, nuts, pepper and herbs; and mix thoroughly. Scoop mixture into hollowed-out shells; dot with butter. Fill a shallow baking pan with one to two inches of water; then place the filled shells in the pan. Cover with aluminum foil and bake 20 minutes. Uncover and bake 15 minutes more, until tops begin to turn golden brown. Serve immediately with Italian sausages, pork or poultry and couscous or wild rice.

Spaghetti Squash with Tomatoes, Shallots and Mushrooms

Spaghetti Squash with Tomatoes, Shallots and Mushrooms

YIELD: Makes 4 to 8 servings.

INGREDIENTS:

2 small spaghetti squashes

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 small shallots, minced

1 tablespoon fresh oregano, basil or thyme leaves, minced

5 to 6 large fresh Roma tomatoes, finely chopped

4 to 6 ounces fresh white mushrooms, diced

DIRECTIONS:

Wash and quarter the squash. With a spoon, scoop out seeds. Place wedges skin side down in a large skillet and fill it with two inches of water or just enough to touch bottoms of wedges. Cover and cook over low-medium heat 20 minutes or until very tender. Check occasionally to be sure water hasn’t boiled away. Remove squash from heat and when it is cool enough to handle, scrape flesh into a medium bowl. Add two tablespoons butter, salt and pepper; mash and mix thoroughly. Set aside to keep warm.  

In a medium skillet melt two tablespoons butter; add shallots and herbs. Sauté until barely tender; add tomatoes; sauté five minutes more until they are barely cooked. Add mushrooms and sauté another 5 minutes. Place squash mixture in a large serving bowl and top with shallot-tomato mixture and serve immediately as a main or side dish with poultry, beef, lamb or pork.

Chicken Salad with Chopped Gherkins and Walnuts on a Croissant

By Barbara Beltrami

When John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich, purportedly commanded that a servant bring him some slabs of roast meat between two slices of bread during a gambling session, he unwittingly changed the lunch habits of the English people. 

While the story’s veracity lies on shaky foundations, its subject, the sandwich, lies on foundations that are unquestionably the staff of life. Although this versatile commodity undoubtedly takes its name from England, it had been the custom in France long before that to give field workers or travelers a meal of stewed or roasted meat between slices of bread. 

In fact, fish, sliced fowl and egg sandwiches were a recognized preparation in French cuisine long before the British invented, or at least, discovered them. Whether a wrap, petit pain, panino or pita pocket, the sandwich is certainly the greatest invention since sliced bread. On a baguette, bagel bialy, bun or brioche, on rye, pumpernickel, whole wheat, white or multigrain, the sandwich filled with just about anything is the staple and star of any self-respecting lunch box or lunch menu. 

And in case I’ve left any out, here are a few of my favorites that make ham and cheese ho-hum and peanut butter and jelly pedestrian. Each recipe is for one sandwich but can easily be doubled, tripled, etc.

Curried Egg Salad with Sliced Heirloom Tomato and Green Bell Pepper on Multigrain English Muffin

Combine 1½ tablespoons mayonnaise with ½ teaspoon of curry powder. Mix with one chopped hard-boiled egg. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Spread on a toasted multigrain English muffin; top with sliced tomato and thinly sliced pepper rings. Season again with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Chicken Salad with Chopped Gherkins and Walnuts on a Croissant

Poach or broil half a chicken breast.  When cool, cut into ½-inch cubes, then mix with 2 tablespoons diced celery, 1 tablespoon chopped gherkin, 1 tablespoon finely chopped walnuts, 2 tablespoons mayonnaise and salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Pile mixture onto croissant halves.

Italian Tuna with Cannellini Beans, Red Onion, Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Wine Vinegar on Sliced Tuscan Bread

Cut bread into two slices; toast lightly. Drain a 3-ounce can of Italian oil-packed tuna, flake it with a fork and then set it aside. Rinse and drain ⅓ to ½ cup cannellini beans. In a small bowl, mash slightly. Stir in 1 to 2 teaspoons wine vinegar, then season lightly with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Drizzle each bread slice with 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, top with bean mixture, tuna and 1 tablespoon chopped red onion.

Smoked Nova Scotia Salmon with Sliced Radish and Scallion Cream Cheese on an Everything Bagel

Mix ¼ to ⅓ cup whipped cream cheese with two sliced radishes and one sliced scallion. Spread evenly on two bagel halves. Season with freshly ground black pepper. Place a slice or two of smoked salmon on each half.

Shrimp and Avocado Salad with Raspberry Vinaigrette

By Barbara Beltrami

Dressing a salad is a lot like dressing oneself. Just as clothes should compliment the body, so should dressing enhance the salad type. If one sticks to the basic elements of oil, vinegar or lemon juice, salt and pepper and maybe some herbs or garlic or a dab of mustard in good proportion, it is hard to go wrong. 

Keeping in mind the kind of salad being dressed and other ingredients impinging on the flavor, a basic ratio of three to four parts oil to one part vinegar or lemon juice usually is fail-safe. With so many varieties of salad greens available these days, it is particularly important to dress them appropriately. 

From gorgeous leafy lettuces like Boston and bibb and romaine to escarole, green leaf, red leaf and frisee to mesclun and baby leafy greens, choices abound. Then there are radicchio, Belgian endive and arugula with their slightly bitter or sparky flavor. 

If they are genuinely fresh, they all deserve the highest quality ingredients for dressings that enhance their textures and taste. And for that you can’t do any better than vinaigrettes made from extra virgin olive, hazelnut, pumpkin seed, grape seed or walnut oils complimented by fine vinegars like balsamic, wine or raspberry or freshly squeezed lemon juice and fresh herbs and seasonings. 

Forget about packaged, processed or powdered ingredients and save those heavy ranch and Roquefort dressings for otherwise tasteless iceberg wedges. Go with a nicely balanced vinaigrette and let the salad itself be the center of attraction.

Raspberry Vinaigrette

Shrimp and Avocado Salad with Raspberry Vinaigrette

YIELD: Makes about ⅔ to ¾ cup.

INGREDIENTS:

1/3 cup fresh raspberries

2 tablespoons raspberry vinegar

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

½ teaspoon sugar or honey

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS:

Crush raspberries and push through a small wire strainer. In a small or medium bowl, whisk together two tablespoons of the raspberry puree, raspberry vinegar, lemon juice and sugar. Continuously and vigorously whisking, add oil, salt and pepper and toss with salad just before serving, no sooner. Serve at room temperature with any delicate salad greens, fresh baby spinach or greens of your choice.

Dijon Vinaigrette

YIELD: Makes about ⅔ cup.

INGREDIENTS:

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

1 teaspoon prepared Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon minced shallot

1 garlic clove, crushed

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS:

In a small bowl, whisk together lemon juice, vinegar, mustard, shallot and garlic. Gradually whisk in the oil, salt and pepper. Serve at room temperature with a salad of mixed greens or any greens of choice.

Balsamic Vinaigrette

YIELD: Makes one cup.

INGREDIENTS:

1/4 cup aged balsamic vinegar

2 teaspoons honey

2 garlic cloves, minced

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

DIRECTIONS:

In a small bowl, vigorously whisk together the vinegar, honey, garlic, salt and pepper. When mixture is thoroughly blended, still vigorously whisking, gradually drizzle in the oil. Serve at room temperature with mixed greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, radishes and red onion or any greens of your choice.

Grilled Fresh Tomato Slices

By Barbara Beltrami

So you stopped at that cute little farm stand and couldn’t resist those beautiful (ugly and misshapen) heirloom tomatoes. Those peppers were just too perfect to pass up, and there it was, the first local cauliflower of the season. Or maybe you’re lucky and this year your vegetable garden actually yielded some tomatoes before the critters got to them, you had a bumper crop of peppers and eked out one perfect cauliflower. So now what? Roll up your sleeves, wash those veggies, and fire up the grill because that’s where they and you are going.

Grilled Fresh Tomato Slices 

Grilled Fresh Tomato Slices

 

YIELD: Makes 4 servings.

INGREDIENTS:

4 large fresh tomatoes, washed and sliced 1-inch thick

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

Coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

¼ cup fresh, chopped basil

DIRECTIONS:

Prepare a hot fire on your grill. Oil a perforated grill rack with a little of the olive oil. Brush the tomato slices on both sides with the remaining oil; season with salt and pepper. Grill the tomatoes on the perforated grill rack 3 to 4 minutes, gently turn and grill on the other side until they begin to sizzle and have grill marks. Remove to a platter. Garnish with basil. Serve hot, warm or at room temperature with toasted garlic bread.

Grilled Stuffed Peppers

Grilled Stuffed Peppers

YIELD: Makes 4 servings

INGREDIENTS:

4 medium bell peppers (any color), inner membrane and small area around stem removed

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 bunch scallions, cleaned and sliced

2 cups cubed coarse white bread such as, but not limited to, ciabatta or sourdough

2 cups chopped tomatoes with their juice

1 cup grated cheddar or manchego cheese

1 cup fresh corn kernels

2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS:

Prepare a hot fire on your grill. Oil a disposable foil baking pan with one tablespoon of the olive oil. Trim a small slice off the bottom of each pepper so it will stand up straight in the baking pan. Meanwhile, in a medium skillet, heat the remaining tablespoon oil and saute the scallions 3 to 4 minutes until softened. Add the bread, tomatoes, cheese, corn, parsley and salt and pepper and stir until well blended and bread is moist. Spoon mixture into peppers and place them in foil pan. Place pan on indirect heat side of grill, close lid and cook until tops of peppers are bubbling and slightly charred, about 30 minutes. Serve hot or warm with a green salad, corn on the cob, and meat, poultry or beans.

Grilled Herbed Cauliflower Steaks

Grilled Herbed Cauliflower Steaks

YIELD: Makes 4 to 6 servings.

INGREDIENTS:

1 large head cauliflower, washed and drained

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 garlic clove, minced

3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves

1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano leaves

½ tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves

Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

DIRECTIONS:

Holding the cauliflower upright and starting at the center, slice it into one-inch slabs. Save any detached florets for another use. Oil grill rack; preheat grill to medium-low. In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, lemon juice, garlic and herbs. Place steaks on a large platter and brush them liberally on both sides with two-thirds of the mixture and season with salt and pepper. Grill them 5 to 10 minutes until brown on bottom; turn them, brush with remaining mixture, season again with salt and pepper and sprinkle with cheese Cook another 5 to 10 minutes, until tender and brown on other side. Serve hot or warm with poultry or meat, potatoes and a salad.

Chicken Tarragon

By Barbara Beltrami

If there is one herb that is closely associated with the delicacy and sophistication of French cuisine, it is tarragon. Despite its exquisite flavor and haunting aromatic essence, it is a hardy little plant that once introduced into your garden will return year after year to give you myriad pleasures in a countless variety of uses. As the growing season wanes, now is a good time to harvest the last of it and freeze it for later use. Or it is usually available in the produce section of the supermarket. 

Tarragon is certainly essential to a bearnaise sauce, which beautifully enhances not only beef but also chicken and fish. It gives a tangy kick to salad dressings and light creamy soups and is one of the essential ingredients in a bouquet of fine herbs. Try making your own tarragon vinegar by sticking a couple of sprigs into a bottle of cider vinegar or white wine vinegar and just leave it there until the vinegar is finished. Blend it with mayonnaise for chicken, shrimp, lobster or crabmeat salads or tartar sauce for fish.

There are various kinds of tarragon; the ones usually available around here are French, Russian and Texan. Go for the French as it has the truest, most pure flavor. And use the herb sparingly as a little goes a long way.

Chicken Tarragon

Chicken Tarragon

YIELD: Makes 4 servings

INGREDIENTS:

1 small roasting chicken (about 2½ to 3 pounds)

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Leaves from 1 or 2 sprigs fresh tarragon

1 small garlic clove, minced

Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

¼ cup olive oil

¼ cup brandy

DIRECTIONS:

Wash chicken and pat dry with paper towels inside and outside. In a small bowl mash together the butter, tarragon leaves, garlic, salt and pepper. Rub inside of bird with mixture, then brush olive oil on outside. Place chicken, breast side up, on a rack in a shallow baking pan and roast one hour at 375 F or until done.  

Remove from oven, pour brandy evenly over chicken; then return to oven for 5 minutes. Remove from oven, place on a platter and stir and scrape drippings in pan. Spoon drippings over carved chicken and serve immediately with choice of potato and vegetable.

Bearnaise Sauce

Bearnaise Sauce

 

YIELD: Makes 4 servings

INGREDIENTS:

¼ cup dry white wine

2 tablespoons tarragon vinegar

1½ tablespoons minced shallots

Freshly ground white pepper, to taste

Leaves from 2 sprigs fresh tarragon, minced

Leaves from 2 sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley, minced

3 egg yolks

2/3 cup melted unsalted butter

Salt, to taste

DIRECTIONS:

In the top of a double boiler combine wine, vinegar, shallots, pepper, tarragon and parsley and cook until mixture is reduced by half. Allow to cool, then, keeping the pot over very hot water, add the egg yolks and butter alternately and gradually while continuously whisking so that they are thoroughly combined. Add salt. 

Serve immediately with beef tenderloin, shell or porterhouse steak and French fries

Apple-Honey Loaf Cake

By Barbara Beltrami

Like so many holidays, Rosh Hashana, which begins the Jewish New Year on the evening of Sept. 9, features an assortment of traditional foods. Among them are carrots, pomegranates, fish and, last but not least, bread, apples and honey. Each of these has a symbolic association with the idea of plenty, prosperity, newness, beauty and sweetness — all very happy and positive bodings for the new year. I would love to go into what each means, but my editor would have a conniption if I wrote all that. Anyway, below are recipes that feature three of those very important elements of the Rosh Hashana table … apples and honey for a sweet and happy new year and challah for a prosperous one.

Apple-Honey Loaf Cake

Apple-Honey Loaf Cake

 

YIELD: Makes two 9×5×3-inch loaves.

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup sugar

1 cup vegetable oil

2 eggs

1 cup honey

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2½ cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

3 apples peeled, cored and shredded 

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 325 F. Grease and flour loaf pans. In a large bowl combine sugar and oil; add eggs and beat until mixture is pale yellow. Stir in ¾ cup of the honey and vanilla. In another large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Stir into egg mixture just until moistened. Fold in apples. Pour batter into loaf pans; bake 45 minutes or until cake tester inserted in middle comes out clean. Heat remaining quarter cup of honey until warm. Let cake cool 15 minutes, then invert onto plate, prick with a fork and drizzle warm honey over top. Serve with dessert wine, coffee or tea.

Holiday Challah

Holiday Challah

YIELD: Makes 2 large loaves.

INGREDIENTS:

Four ¼-ounce packages quick-rise yeast

4 cups warm (105–115 F) water

2 tablespoons salt

¾ cup sugar

1 cup vegetable shortening, melted

4 eggs

10 to 12 cups bread flour (approximate)

1 egg

¼ cup poppy seeds

DIRECTIONS:

In large bowl, sprinkle yeast over water; stir to moisten. Stir in salt, sugar, shortening and the 4 eggs. Gradually mix in flour, one cupful at a time until dough becomes slightly sticky but not wet. (You may not need all the flour.) Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead about 10 minutes, until smooth and elastic. Grease two baking sheets and set aside. Cut dough into two equal pieces, then divide each of those pieces into 3 equal pieces. On a floured surface, roll each of the smaller pieces into a 12-inch rope about the thickness of a thumb, but thicker in the middle and thinner toward each end. For each loaf, braid the 3 ropes, pinch together and tuck under at ends. Gently pat each loaf into a circular shape and lift onto baking sheet. Cover with a damp towel let rise in a warm place until double in size, 60 to 90 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 F. Beat remaining egg with ½ teaspoon water and brush top of each loaf with mixture. Sprinkle with poppy seeds. Bake until tops are shiny and golden, about 30 minutes. Let cool before slicing.

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