Seasonal

Pumpkin Pots de Creme with Chocolate Ganache

Pumpkin Chocolate PDC 2

Happy Halloween my friends!  The bewitching hour is upon us.  Who has plans for tonight?  Party?  Trick or treating?  Stuffing your face with pizza and candy while you watch the scariest movies Netflix Streaming has to offer?  Just me?  Okay.

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If you do find yourself in the mood for a decadent and devilish dessert, I have just the thing for you.  Pumpkin pots de creme with a chocolate ganache cap.  Rich and sweet and perfectly adult.  I have seen so many great kid’s Halloween desserts on the Internets lately (some of them are incredible), but I thought a nice adult Halloween dessert would be in order.  Not to say kid’s won’t like it; but I have a feeling you will be the one licking the bowl clean this year.  😉

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A variation of my Sweet Potato Pots de Creme from two years ago, this one features pumpkin puree, cardamom, and pinch of sea salt for variation.  Plus, that dark chocolate ganache is the perfect compliment; thick and rich and bittersweet to compliment the earthy custard below.  An elegantly ghoulish dessert for this Halloween night.

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I wish you all a safe and happy All Hallow’s Eve!  And, for fun, check out this great article from howstuffworks.com on the history of trick or treating.  Happy Halloween!  THG

Pumpkin Pots de Creme with Chocolate Ganache
Serves 6
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Ingredients
  1. 1 1/2 cups plus 3 Tbsp. heavy cream
  2. 1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
  3. 1 cinnamon stick
  4. 5 egg yolks at room temperature
  5. 1/3 cup sugar
  6. 2/3 cup pumpkin puree
  7. 1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
  8. 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  9. 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  10. 5 oz. dark chocolate, broken into small pieces
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 300 F.
  2. In a small saucepan, heat 1 1/2 cups heavy cream, vanilla pod and beans, and cinnamon stick over medium-high heat until bubbles just begin to form around the edges. Remove from heat and let spices steep for 15 minutes.
  3. In the meantime, whip egg yolks and sugar together until thick and ribboned. Remove cinnamon stick and vanilla pod from the cream mixture. Slowly pour hot cream mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly to prevent cooking the eggs. Once cream is mixed in, add pumpkin puree and mix throughly. Add cardamom, sea salt and nutmeg and mix.
  4. Place 6 small ramekins or teacups in the bottom of a roasting pan. Pour custard mixture into the ramekins, leaving about 1/2 of space. Add hot water to the roasting pan so that the bottom 2/3 of the ramekins are submerged.
  5. Bake ramekins in roasting pan in the middle of the oven for about 30-45 minutes, until sides are set and center is still slightly wobbly. Remove ramekins from water bath and refrigerate until set, about 2 hours.
  6. Heat remaining 3 Tbsp. heavy cream in the microwave, about 30 seconds (mind that it doesn't overflow). Place chocolate pieces in a heatproof bowl. Immediately pour hot cream over chocolate and stir until chocolate is fully melted and glossy. Spoon chocolate over set pots de creme and smooth the tops. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
The Humble Gourmet http://www.thehumblegourmet.com/

 

Apple, Arugula & Goat Cheese Quiche

Apple Arugula Quiche 1
Do you feel it?  The change in weather?  The darker mornings and shorter days?  The crisp, cool smell in the air?

It’s fall.

Oh, how I have waited for fall!  I like mild weather; not too hot, not too cold.  I like sweaters and coats and hot coffee and boots and warm stews.  I like candles lit in the fireplace, snuggly blankets on the couch, the smells of roasting squash and cinnamon and rich, hearty soups.  I like the feeling of looming holidays, the harvest festivals, the general sense of mischief and merriment in the air as Halloween approaches.  I like fall.

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 I did cheat a bit.  I made this quiche in the summer.  It’s light and lovely and worked well for a backyard picnic lunch.  But the flavors work well for the fall too.  Apples and arugula.  The zing of the goat cheese.  A little salad on the side, and you are ready to enjoy the season.

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 Most of my blog cooking gets done on the weekends.  With getting home late, and it getting darker earlier now, it just makes more sense.  So, Shawn and I do our best eating on the weekends (this quiche included).  There’s something really satisfying about spending your Saturday surrounded by food; farmer’s market in the morning, some baking, some eating, dessert, a nice dinner.  Weekends work well for those slowly prepared foods; braising, roasting, stewing.  Your whole house fills with the scents of dinner at home; there is no cozier feeling.

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I mean, just look at that quiche!  You can bet the whole house smelled like apples and cheese, the peppery crust.  We were salivating by the time it was ready to eat, just wanting to dive in headfirst.  Yum, yum, yum.

How will you be welcoming in the fall?  THG

Apple Arugula Quiche 5

 

Apple, Arugula & Goat Cheese Quiche
Serves 4
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For the crust
  1. 1 1/2 cups flour
  2. 3/4 cup unsalted butter, in 1/2" cubes
  3. 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  4. 1 tsp. black pepper
  5. 1/8 to 1/4 cup ice water
For the filling
  1. 2 Granny Smith apples, sliced 1/8" thick with a mandoline, seeds removed
  2. 6 eggs
  3. 1/4 cup heavy cream
  4. 1/2 cup milk
  5. 5 oz. Chevre goat cheese, softened
  6. 2 cups fresh arugula, finely chopped
Instructions
  1. In a large mixing bowl, sift together flour, pepper and sea salt. Add cold butter and work with a pastry cutter until mixture resembles course crumbs. Add ice water 1 Tbsp. at a time and mix until dough just begins to come together. Form into a ball and flatten. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  3. On a floured surface, roll out dough to 6.5 by 16 inch rectangle (12 inch round if you are using a round tart pan). Carefully fit dough into a 4.5 by 14 inch tart pan (or 9 inch round), pressing gently along the sides to fit to pan. Pierce the bottom with a fork and refrigerate 20 minutes to set.
  4. Line tart shell with parchment paper and fill with beans or pie weights. Bake 10 minutes in center of oven; remove parchment paper and weights and bake another 10 minutes until bottom has just cooked through. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
  5. Meanwhile, whisk eggs until thick and ribboned. Whisk in cream and milk. Add goat cheese and arugula and mix well to combine.
  6. In the cooled tart shell, lay apple slices long ways (or in concentric circles), overlapping until pan is filled. Carefully pour egg mixture over the apples up to just under the edge of the crust. Bake 30 minutes at 375 F until egg mixture has set.
  7. Serve warm or at room temperature.
The Humble Gourmet http://www.thehumblegourmet.com/

Spiced Plum Preserves

 

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Now that my energy is starting to come back, I find myself in the kitchen more and more. Baking and cooking, developing new recipes, tweaking and perfecting old ones, trying new techniques and experimenting. I have been so … dormant for the past 4 months, I’m having to rediscover my footing. Aside from weeknight dinners, I hadn’t been cooking at all. I didn’t have the strength to stand in front of the stove, carefully watching a roux, or rolling out and shaping a pie crust, or whisking cream to a perfect peak. Anything that took more than 15 minutes start to finish was more than I could handle. But, with time, I’ve been spending more and more time back in the kitchen. A little here, a little there. I feel like I’m finding my stride again.

And in perfect time too. Our many fruit trees have entered their harvest, and we have more lemons and plums and apples than we know what to do with. Last weekend, Shawn came in from the backyard with about 50 red plums. Sweet and fragrant and perfectly ripe. We gave a few away to friends, ate a few for dessert, and found ourselves with dozens more and no idea of what to do with them. I decided that that was the perfect time to get started on preserves.

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I chose preserves instead of a jam or jelly because I didn’t want to mess pectin. A simple recipe that I could put together in an afternoon. I had bought a set of Ball jars about a month ago, so it was just a matter or prepping them for canning.

This is a great recipe for anyone new to preserves and canning. Deceptively simple. Fresh, ripe plums transform into a sweet, syrupy spread. Cinnamon and allspice add a little spicy zip on the finish. Brown sugar creates more of depth than just white sugar. Summer fruit with an autumn spice.

What have you been doing with your seasonal fruit this summer? THG

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Spiced Plum Preserves
3 lbs. fresh red plums
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
zest and juice of 1 small lemon
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 tsp. whole allspice

Prep and sterilize 4 500ml canning jars according to directions.

Remove stone and slice plums into 1/2 inch thick slices. Place in a large sauce pot. Add sugar, brown sugar, lemon zest and juice and mix well. Place cinnamon stick and allspice in a large piece of cheesecloth and tie the ends, creating a bundle. Add to the plum mixture.
On medium-high heat, bring plum mixture to a rolling boil. Boil for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat and simmer pot until mixture reaches 220-230F and passes setting point test (to test setting point, place a small amount of cooked liquid on a plate and put in freezer for about 3 minutes. If the mixture doesn’t run when removed from freezer, it’s ready. If it still runs, continue to cook for another 5 minutes and test again). When mixture is ready, remove spice bag and spoon into prepared jars, leaving 1/2 inch space between the preserves and the top of the jar. Wipe down the neck and screw on the lid, finger-tight. Submerge in boiling water 15 minutes to process. Let cool to room temperature. Store in a cool, dry space. After opening preserve, store in the refrigerator.

Makes approximately 2 liters of preserves.

Cherry Sharlotka

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Summer, summer, summer! I love summer! Some of the greatest foods come out of those hot mid-year months. Peaches, plums, apricots, watermelons. And cherries. How I love me some sweet, ruby red cherries.

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I mean seriously. Are you not drooling right now? Those are so delectable. And fresh cherries are the best, straight from the farmer’s market, still warm from the sun. During the summer, my favorite dessert is just a bowl of Bing cherries. They really have a taste all their own: sweet, a little tart, deep and rich. They taste like summer, like June, like the sun. Have you picked up yet that I love cherries?

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So now, this is my take on a Russian sharlotka. Traditionally a sponge-like cake stuffed to the brim with apples (see this Smitten Kitchen recipe for a fantastic take on the original recipe). I was intrigued by the recipe, but thought it was a bit out of season, more of an autumn dessert with the apples. I thought of what else I could use to replace the Granny Smiths and decided…cherries. It must be cherries.

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Do you see that cake jam packed with cherries? So fruity and light, without being too sweet. I cut down the sugar content in the cake batter since we were dealing with sweet cherries instead of tart apples. A dash of cardamom for spice, a little bourbon vanilla for fragrance. Dress it with some creme fraiche mixed with honey for a creamy and sharp topping. Too good!

What’s your favorite summer fruit? THG

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Cherry Sharklotka
1 lb. fresh Bing cherries, cut in half and pitted
3 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. bourbon vanilla
3/4 cup flour
1 tsp. ground cardamom
1/2 cup creme fraiche
1 1/2 tsp. honey

Preheat oven to 350F.

Grease and flour two medium (5 inch) ramekins. Split the cherries halves between each ramekin, filling to the top.

In a large bowl, whisk eggs and sugar until thick and ribboned. Add vanilla and whisk in. Add flour and cardamom and whisk to combine. Pour batter over cherries in ramekin, filling to the top. Tap ramekins on the counter to break up air bubbles and allow batter to settle throughout the cherries.

Bake in the middle of the oven for 40-45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out clean. Let cakes cool for 15 minutes and turn out of ramekins onto a cooking rack. In the meantime, whisk together creme fraiche and honey and set aside. Serve at room temperature with creme fraiche topping.

Serves 4

Blood Orange Marmalade & The Best Granola Ever

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So, what are your thoughts on breakfast? I’m actually not a huge fan; I tend to get really nauseous if I eat too much in the morning, so I have to keep the food light. Shawn, on the other hand, is a huge fan of breakfast. So, this post and the recipes are for him.

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This has been one of my first forays into preserves. A few years ago, I made a batch of ginger-pear preserves that were delicious. Unfortunately, I did not can them correctly and they went bad pretty quickly

:-(

After doing some good marmalade researching, I developed a pretty simple and tasty recipe: blood oranges, rosemary and ginger. A little heat, a little herb, a lotta citrus. It’s sort of tangy-sweet, with the ginger and rosemary coming in at the very end. Shawn has been using it on toast this week, but I’m planning on heating some up and pouring it over vanilla panna cotta soon. Yum, yum, yum.

If you too are new to preserves, marmalade is a great way to start. Simple and easy recipe; there’s no pectin in marmalade since the citrus creates enough of it on its own, so just cooking it down sufficiently will result in a thick, jelly-like spread.

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Now THIS, this granola, is not a new recipe. I’ve been making this for a couple of years; it’s the best. A balance of sweet and salty, a nice mix of oats and seeds; pepitas and almonds for crunch, flax seed and coconut for taste. It makes a nice big batch, but it keeps well in an airtight container. A little almond milk, some blueberries; you have yourself a nice, light breakfast. Shawn likes to just grab a handful to snack on throughout the day. It’s pretty hard to stop eating this granola.

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This has been a week of stress and anxiety. My dad (my beloved Papa) has been in the hospital having surgery for diverticulitis. It’s been a stressful and emotional few months leading up to this week, but he’s on the other side of the surgery now and recovering. He’s had to strictly modify his diet to avoid pain and inflammation. I’m hoping that once his recovery is done, he can go back to eating those foods he loves without discomfort. I plan on making some of his favorites once he gets the go ahead from the doctors. Mainly, I just want him home and healthy. My immediate family is pretty healthy, this is really the first major health issue any of us have dealt with, so it has definitely taken its toll on all of us. I just do better when the people I love are living their lives with no issues. Is that too much to ask for? I hope not.

In the meantime, just breathe deep and eat comfort foods. Like granola. And marmalade. And maybe a little (lot) of chocolate. THG

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Blood Orange Rosemary Ginger Marmalade
4 large blood oranges
1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
2 stalks fresh rosemary
4 cups cold water
1/2 cup sugar

Peel the oranges, being careful to keep the white pith on the orange. Cut into 1/4 inch slivers. Remove the white pith from the oranges and slice the fruit, widthwise, into 1/4 inch slices.
Add the orange slices, peel, ginger and rosemary to a medium saucepan. Pour cold water over fruit, cover pot and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Heat pot over medium high to a rolling boil and boil for 5 minutes. Strain liquid and remove rosemary, ginger, and any skin from the oranges (leave the pulp and peel). Return liquid, pulp and peel to the stove and boil. Reduce heat to medium and add sugar. Continue cooking, stirring frequently, until liquid has reduced by half and thickens, about 15-20 minutes.
Can marmalade according to instructions on canning set.

Makes approximately 2 cups

The Best Granola Ever
3 cups rolled oats
1 cup sliced raw almonds
1 cup pepitas
3/4 cup unsweetened shaved coconut
1/2 cup flax seed
1/3 cup molasses
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. ground cardamom
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ground ginger

Preheat oven to 350.
In a large bowl, mix oats, almonds, pepitas, coconut and flax seed. Set aside.
In a small saucepan, heat molasses, honey, brown sugar and vegetable oil over medium high heat to a boil. Whisk in cinnamon, sea salt, cardamom, nutmeg and ginger. Pour half the spice mixture over the dry ingredients and mix until combined. Add the remainder and mix well. Spread mixture over a large cookie sheet and smooth out even. Bake in the center of the oven until golden brown, about 25-30 minutes. Allow to cool, then break up into bite sized pieces. Store in an airtight container.

Makes approximately 6 cups

Friday Instagram Round-Up 5

Hello! So, I missed last week’s round-up. But, I only had a couple of photos (what with a week of late work nights and eating out), so I thought I would roll last week’s into this week’s. So here we go!

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I am currently trying to grow out a pixie cut while trying to avoid that whole Justin Beiber/mullet look. I find dark red lipstick helps.

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Sunday movie night: Bernie with Jack Black and curried kobucha squash and quinoa and kale soup.

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Easy Dinner 1: chicken and sweet pepper stir fry over rice.

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Easy Dinner, The Sequel: penne and pork tenderloin in tomato sauce.

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Saturday night, couple’s dinner with Kat and Kris: veggies with hollandaise.

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Me. Instagramming Kat. Instagramming dinner. Meta.

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Pork and cucumber meatballs with yogurt sauce. The best.

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And, of course, boeuf bourguignon to finish us out.

Have a great weekend friends!

Follow me on Instagram @thehumblegourmet

Persimmon Steamed Pudding

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Awhile back, we had our friend John over for a dinner and a movie night. We made squid ink pasta (my fave) in vodka sauce and watched “Sunset Boulevard”. Have you seen it? Norma Desmond? It’s the best; a little campy, a little noir, and full of Gloria Swanson at her most awesome/insane.

Even if you haven’t seen it, I’m sure you’ve quoted the most famous line at some point: “I’m ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille.” Actually, the real line is slightly different, but funnily enough, that’s what the famous line has been turned into. Just like Mae West’s line “Why don’t you come up and see me sometime?” She never said it like that; she actually said “Why don’t you come up some time…and see me.” But, that’s not how we remember it. Even “Casablanca” has a misspoken line…Bogart never says “Play it again, Sam.” He only says “Play it.” and Bergman says “Play it Sam.” But no one says the line the way it became famous. Isn’t it odd how we remember and change iconic lines?

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ANYWAY, since I’m sure you weren’t looking for a Hollywood movie line lesson, back to food. For dessert that night, I decided to go with a twist on a classic: steamed pudding. I had some fresh persimmons from the farmer’s market, so I steamed them, pureed them, and folded them into the pudding. A little cardamom and we were on our way.

I love cardamom in desserts. It’s such a distinct flavor and can really cut through the sweetness of a dish like this. It’s got that great earthy, spicy quality to it, which pairs so nicely with winter fruits like persimmon and pear.

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Whipped cream and pomegranate seeds. I can get overwhelmed by too sweet a dessert, so the tart pomegranate and the spicy cardamom balance this dish out nicely. The consistency is really great too; similar to a clafoutis, but much more moist. Definitely like a cross between a custard and a cake. Super yummy.

 

What old movies do you like? What movie lines do you find are often misquoted? THG

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Persimmon Steamed Pudding
8 Tbsp. unsalted butter, divided
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1 large egg
2 egg yolks
1 cup persimmon puree
3/4 cup milk

Melt 2 Tbsp. butter. Brush the inside of 4 small ramekins with the butter. Refrigerate until butter sets.
Preheat oven to 350.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, sea salt, cardamom and nutmeg. Set aside.
In a stand mixer, beat remaining 6 Tbsp. butter, sugar and brown sugar until fluffy. Add the egg and egg yolks one at a time, beating between until incorporated. Add vanilla and beat. Add persimmon puree and beat until well combined. Add in the flour mixture in 3 sets, alternating with the milk. Beat well between each addition until all is added and well combined. Scoop mixture into prepared ramekins to just below the lip.
In a lidded casserole dish, add a dish towel to the bottom. Set ramekins on top of towel, being careful to keep about 1 inch space between each dish. Add hot water 2/3 way up the ramekins. Place lid on the casserole dish and carefully transfer to the middle of the oven.
Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the pudding comes out clean, about 40-45 minutes. Remove from water bath. Serve at room temperature with whipped cream and pomegranate seeds.

Serves 4

Golden Beet & Sunchoke Galettes

Sunchokes & Golden Beets

Hi!  How are you?!  I’ve missed you!  How was your Christmas/New Years/Chanakah/Kwanzaa/Winter Solstice?  Are you hungry?

Golden Beet & Sunchoke Galettes
Do you make New Year’s resolutions?  I used to, until I figured out that I feel into a shame spiral the second I broke them.  Which I always did.  Usually around the 6th of January.  I suck at resolutions.

So, instead I make goals.  Goals, as opposed to resolutions, seem a little more flexible.  A little less rigid.  You can break a resolution, but you can’t really break a goal.  You just keep working towards them.  You can stumble, go a little off track, but it’s a constant process, which works better for me personally.  Resolutions are either on or off; goals are a journey.

Golden Beet & Sunchoke Galettes
One of my goals, really a goal I try continue and build on every year, is to maintain healthy eating.  What is my idea of healthy eating?  No processed food, vegetable heavy, lean proteins, not too much sugar, healthy fats.  Basically, more food from the earth than from the factory.  Foods that give me energy instead of zapping it.  I can tell throughout my whole body when I’ve been maintaining a healthy diet; my skin is clearer, my energy is higher and cleaner.  I have a fairly sensitive stomach and have had a lot of issues with digestion, so when my system feels very clean and on track, I know that I’ve been eating healthily.  So, healthy food goals are a constant in my life. 

Golden Beets & Sunchokes
  

These galettes feel good.  Nutty whole-wheat and brown butter crust, golden beets and sunchokes marinated in sherry vinegar and good olive oil, a little thyme and a handful of pea shoots on top.  Very simple preparation, to allow the delicious root veggies to shine. 

I like golden beets best; they don’t have as much of that super-earthy (read: dirt) flavoring that red beets have, which could really over-power the sunchokes in this dish.  The sunchokes (also known as Jerusalem artichokes), like a light buttery cross between an artichoke heart and a potato, are so subtle and lovely.  I made chips from them and soup this week, and have many more plans for this fantastic winter veggie.  This dish is perfectly filling without overwhelming.  A side salad of arugula, watermelon radishes and pomegranate seeds will round out this little dinner perfectly.

Stay tuned for some more healthy eating recipes this month, including my first ever giveaway at the end of the month!  I’m so excited!!!

What are your goals and resolutions for the new year?  THG

Golden Beet & Sunchoke Galettes
Golden Beet & Sunchoke Galettes

Pastry crust:

6 Tbsp.  unsalted butter, divided

1 1/4 cup whole-wheat flour

1/2 tsp. sea salt

1/2 tsp. black pepper

1/8-1/4 cup ice water

Filling:

1 golden beet, sliced 1/16” thick

2 small sunchokes, sliced 1/16” thick

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 Tbsp. sherry vinegar

1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves

1/4 tsp. sea salt

1/2 tsp. black pepper

pea shoots for garnish

In a small saucepan, melt 2 Tbsp. butter over medium-high heat.  Let cook until butter begins to brown.  Remove from heat and let cool.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, sea salt and black pepper.  Add remaining 4 Tbsp. butter, cubed and cold.  Using a pastry cutter or your hands, mix butter into the flour mixture until broken down and resembling coarse crumbs.  Add cooled brown butter and mix to combine.  Add ice water, 1 Tbsp. at a time, until dough begins to come together.  Turn out onto a floured surface and shape into a disk.  Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

While dough is setting, mix golden beet and sunchoke  slices with olive oil, vinegar, thyme, sea salt and pepper in a small bowl until well coated.  Let marinate until ready for use.

Preheat oven to 375 °F.  On a well-floured surface, divide dough in half.  Roll one half into a rough circle, about 1/8” thick.  Place on a ungreased baking sheet.  Repeat with remaining dough.

In the center of each dough circle, place 5 beet slices, overlapping.  Place 5 sunchoke slices on top of the beets.  Fold in the sides of the dough over the veggies to form a crust, leaving a 2” or so opening.  Sprinkle pea shoots on top.  Bake in the center of oven until crust is golden brown, about 20-25 minutes.  Serve warm.

Serves 2

Radish and Goat Cheese Tartines

French Breakfast Radishes

A few musings on this chilly day:

– I could not be more sick of turkey.  Truly.  I feel as if I’ve been eating turkey non-stop for a year.  And still, there is turkey to be eaten.  I feel the massive levels of tryptophan that I have seemly consumed in the past week will launch me into full-on winter hibernation.

– I love the idea of winter hibernation.  Think about it: spending an entire season tucked warmly into bed, no where to go, nothing to do.  Just coziness and deep sleep.  Here’s hoping I get to be a bear in my next life.

– In my quest for any and all things NOT turkey, I have found myself eating much smaller quantities of food.  And that is not a bad thing; I feel like the rich, complex and hearty foods associated with the cooler seasons are better consumed in smaller portions.  It’s leaving me feeling very satisfied and well-fed, without that “stuffed to the gills” feeling.  Which is good, because, as I mentioned, I am sleepy enough this time of year without the added affect of the “food coma”.

Radish and Goat Cheese Tartines

– My new favorite farmer’s market discovery are these French breakfast radishes.  I haven’t been very exposed to radishes, never really ate them growing up, and I’ve generally found regular radishes to be a bit too peppery for my taste.  Not these little beauties.  Mild and crunchy, with just that little spicy zing right at the end.  Shawn’s been having them just lightly dipped in sea salt.  Very tasty.  I prefer them on this goat cheese tartine.

French Breakfast Radishes

There is no real recipe to speak of here: just toasted wheat sourdough bread with soft goat cheese, good olive oil, radishes, pepper and a little fresh mint on top.  Just assemble and eat.  You really don’t need anything more complicated than that with these little jewels.  They hold up wonderfully with the tangy goat cheese and cool mint.  I had this for dinner and then again the next day for lunch.  With the excess and overeating to come with the holidays, these are a great little palate break from all the sugar, starch and salt.  Bon appetite!  THG

Radish and Goat Cheese Tartines

Asian Pear and Pistachio Clafoutis

Asian Pears and Pistachio

It’s getting dark early now.  It’s amazing how setting the clock back just one hour can completely change your day.  Leaving work in the dusk of day when just last week the sun was shining.  It changes everything about your evening.  Getting tired earlier, that feeling of winter hibernation is kicking in.  Food is different too.  Heavier, warmer, heartier dinners.  More baked goods and breads.  Starchy foods.  Everything takes on a slightly savory quality.  I don’t like the same kinds of sweets and desserts in the fall and winter as I do in the spring and summer.  Everything has a little more substance, a little more complexity.  Autumnal food is not to be taken lightly.

Asian Pear and Pistachio Clafoutis

Pear season is upon us.  Such a versatile fruit.  Not too sweet, not too tart, firm enough to hold up to baking and poaching.  Asian pears are particularly special; almost a cross between an apple and a pear, very floral and fragrant and such a distinctive flavor.  Pairing them with the crunchy, earthy pistachios is just heavenly.  A little vanilla for fragrance and cardamom for a bite, baked into this cakey-custardy dessert.  Eat it warm with a dusting of powdered sugar and a cup of chamomile tea.

Asian Pears and Pistachio

Sometimes, when it’s cool and crisp outside and my house is filling with the scent of vanilla and spice, I find myself at peace.  I want to freeze that moment.  Actually, let me be honest: I want to spend everyday in cozy sweaters baking delicious desserts.  I have days where I just wish my life revolved around my kitchen, playing and experimenting and eating.  It has become such a passion of mine, I find myself looking forward to starting dinner on the way home from work.  Planning desserts to make on the weekends for us to enjoy through the week.  Vanilla and cardamom and Asian pears and pistachios.  I can’t stop myself.   THG

Asian Pear and Pistachio Clafoutis

Asian Pear and Pistachio Clafoutis

3 medium Asian pears

1/3 cup sugar

4 eggs

1 cup heavy cream

2 tsp. vanilla extract

1/4 cup flour

1/4 cup pistachio meal

1/4 tsp. sea salt

3/4 tsp. ground cardamom

chopped pistachio

powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350ºF.

Cut Asian pears in half and core.  Butter 6 small ramekins and place a pear half in the center of each, cut side down.  Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk eggs and sugar until light and smooth.  Add cream and vanilla and beat.  Add flour, pistachio meal, sea salt and cardamom and beat until well combined.  Pour into ramekins until almost full (do not completely submerge pear halves).  Bake in the middle of the oven for 30-35 minutes, until puffed up and golden brown.  Let cool slightly.  Dust with powdered sugar and chopped pistachios.  Serve warm.

Serves 6