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Hagarita -  the love of cooking and sharing food

Vegan Gratin, purple potato,

Two years ago I published a recipe for a Jerusalem and chestnut gratin, it is one of my favorite recipes and a go to whenever Jerusalem artichokes are in season. This year I had a new challenge, as my friend became vegan I decided to make a different version of this fabulous gratin.I used purple potatoes, for their beautiful color, Jerusalem artichokes (also known as Sunchokes), shallots and pre cooked and packaged chestnuts. To replace the milk, cream and cream fraiche I used my new favorite creamer: Cashews! For the best cashew cream I soak them over night in water, and then puree to a smooth "milk", but if you are pressed for time place a handful (about 1/2 a cup) of raw cashews in a bowl of hot water, replace the water as they cool down, or keep on a low simmer for an hour - two. The nuts are ready when they are soft and juicy, then you can puree them in a blender. start with a little water and add more if needed, you want it to be thick, not runny.

ingredients:potatoes, Jerusalem artichoke, chestnuts (cooked and peeled), shallots, thyme, cashew cream, paprika, salt, pepper, juice of half a lemon and bread crumbs 

 

pre heat the oven to 375 start by slicing all vegetable as thin as you can, then mix all ingredients but bread crumbs  in a large bowl.adjust seasoning and layer in the dish you intend on using for baking.  if you want to make distinct layers, you can mix the cashew cream in as you layer the vegetable, make sure it gets all the way in between the pieces and layers.sprinkle crumbs on top, cover and bake for 35 min, remove cover and bake about 15 min more or until golden in color.let the gratin cool down a little before digging in. 

enjoy!

 

 

Ramps and kumquats

Its Spring (!!!) and with it comes a lovely selection of fresh fruit, vegetable and herbs. Just like these beautiful ramps. Ramps are wild leeks, they look a lot like a scallion with a strong garlic flavor and have a very short season, about 3-4 weeks a year. I had to get some, not really knowing what to make with it. kumquats are delicious tiny citrus, that has a tangy and sweet flavor. I have just bought both, without a plan on how to use them, along with a beautiful rack of lamb... Perhaps a chimichurri style sauce to accompany the lamb?

I Started by coring the Kumquats and dicing them small, then chopping up the ramps the same way, including the white bottoms.

Add garlic, lemon and orange zest and a little of their juice, salt, pepper, chilli flakes and olive oil.

I then made a critical mistake, trying to get the mixture to be finely chopped, I put it in the blender, that wouldn't be so bad if I was holding back on the olive oil but I didn't, and once I turned on the blender the oil emulsified, resulting in a creamy sauce rather than a chimichurri... it was still delicious, but had a completely different look and texture from what I was going for.

It looked a lot like Guacamole.. but had a wonderful taste of a the green garlicky ramps, with a nice side kick from the kumquats.

Beef and Beans

Last week I was requested to make a Cholent at work, a Cholent (if you are not familiar with the term) is a slowly cooked mixture of beans, potatoes, meat, barley and sometimes whole eggs. The beans need to be soaked in water for a few hours prior to cooking, and so the first thing I did that morning, was to soak 1lb of mixed beans. 6 hours later, just as I was about to start cooking the Cholent, a man walked into the kitchen, carrying two large aluminum pans with, guess what?, Cholent.Now I have a pound of soaked beans, and clearly no need for Cholent...

I called South Africa immediately and I asked my second dad for his famous bean soup recipe, growing up I remember this soup as a special treat, it's perfect for cold weather, to eat while snuggling next to the fire watching the winter out of the window. Funny how subjective life is, today I know that those cold winters back home, weren't really cold, and that 40 degrees is a nice day if you are wintering in NYC...

Back to the soup now: 500 gr of pre soaked beans (preferably over night) 250 gr of beef or lamb meat, cubed 120 gr of tomato paste 350 gr fresh peeled tomatoes, cubed 15 garlic cloves, sliced 2 tbsp sweet paprika 1 tsp hot paprika 1/2 tsp nutmeg 1/2 tsp tumric 8 tbsp olive oil 2 tbsp salt 1.5 liter water

If you have a pressure cooker now will be the time to pull it out and use it, I don't have one, which is why this soup was cooking for about a week (at least that's what it felt like, in real life it was about 8 hours).

Heat the oil in the pot you are intending on using for the soup, add the meat and sear it, add all ingredients BUT the beans along with 2 cups of water and stir well. Add beans and remaining of water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer, if using a pressure cooker you will have your soup ready in an hour. if not... oh well, good things are worth waiting for.

Served best with fresh bread.

meet the delicious monster

I came across this interesting looking fruit at the food co-op a few times before, and every time I picked it up and found myself puzzled from its appearance and the simple fact that it came with an instructions page.Last week I finally decided it was time to give it a try, so I took one home and placed it in a cup, bottom up, allowing it to do its thing.

The monstera deliciosa is native to Mexico and Guatemala, and supposedly tastes like a combination of banana and pineapple. The fruit must ripen and peel itself, as it contain oxalic acid, so you place it in a cup or jar and just wait. A day or two went by and then one morning it happened, the scale looking skin cracked open, exposing a white flash and releasing an addicting tropical scent.

This is the first time I have seen anything like this fruit, and I was fascinated by it. In the course of one day this little tropical monster peeled itself completely, exposing its white moist flesh and shedding, along with its green scales, hundreds of tiny black seeds.

When it was finally done, that evening, it was time to slice it up and see what this fruit is all about. We were all very curious as to how it is going to taste, the internet was telling up it taste a little like banana, pineapple, kiwi, jack fruit and mango... an interesting mix of flavors...

Once slices, it looked a lot like a cross between a corn and a kiwi with a very strong tropical odor. It was delicious, just as the name suggested, very sweet and very tropical, indeed a mix between a few more familiar flavors with a soft flesh. However after eating a few pieces from it, the mouth starts to tingle and you get that funny feeling that tells you not to over indulge. As the name suggested, once again, this is a monster we are talking about after all.

Tahini and Silan cookies

It's been months that I have been planing on making these cookies. It all started after I had Thini cookies at Sugar-Daddy in Tel Aviv earlier this year. I was talking about making these cookies for so long that it seemed like it wasn't going to happen.After looking up recipes online and in my cookbook collection and not coming up with anything that seemed promising, I tried to improvise... The first batch of cookies was too hard, so I added some butter and replaced a 1/3 of the spelt flour with almond meal. And here you go, a winner recipe, the cookies came out tasty and crumbly, perfect served with tea or on their own. So good! Thini is basically ground up sesame seeds and Silan is a date syrup, the combination of these two flavors is unreal. First thing is making sure you are using high quality Thini paste, I prefer Thini that comes from the middle east, it just seems to be better than any local brand I tried. The Silan should be as natural as possible, and without preservatives. 1/2 cup raw Thini paste 1/2 cup date syrup 8 tablespoon of butter (1 stick) 1 1/2 cup flour, I used spelt and almond meal, 1 cup spelt and 1/2 almond. 1/4 cup chopped pistachio cinnamon, cardamon, vanilla and a pinch of salt

Pre-heat the oven to 355 (180 Celsius) Start by placing the thini and butter in a sauce pan over low heat, mix until well combined. In a large bowl mix the thini-butter paste with the silan, chopped pistachios, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, a few drops of vanilla extract, 1/2-1 teaspoon of ground cardamon and the salt. Slowly add the flour and mix by hand until a soft dough is formed. Using your hands, form small balls and place on a baking pan, since the dough is soft the cookies will spread, so make sure they are spread out.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, just until slightly brown and take out. Let cool before trying to move the cookies or they will fall apart. The cookies are extremely soft at first but they will harden as they cool down.

8 balls for our independence

Tuesday was Israel's independence day, a day of joy and celebrations, one that comes immediately after the saddest day of the year, memorial day.
Independence day was always close to my heart, as a child it involved putting flags up on our house and car, performing on the main stage, watching the fireworks, folk dancing and partying into the night. it is also THE day for BBQ, every corner, every tiny piece of grass turns into a spot to place your burning coals and barbecue. it's a huge meat-fest, all over the place. Since I am not much of a steak eater I made a quick stop in Yafo the day before and bought some veggies, walking through the small market I spotted these beauties. Score!!

To fill the need for some meat on this glorious day of beef eating I stuffed them with rice and beef, some pine nuts and parsley, and spices (salt, pepper, paprika, cumin, cinnamon). To avoid undercooked rice make sure you cook it beforehand. the ratio of meat and rice depends on your liking, I used 1lb of ground meat to about 2 cups of cooked rice, 1/2 cup of toasted pine nuts, fried onion and garlic.

Empty the inside of the zucchini with a small sharp knife and a teaspoon, make sure not to cut too deep into the skin, try to leave at least 1/4 - 1/2 an inch of meat on the inside, then stuff them but don't press it in too much, so it remains airy.

Then place them all in a pot with tomato sauce, start with garlic and onions, add tomatoes, a bay leaf or two, salt, pepper, paprika, cumin, spicy paprika, tomato juice and a little parsley. bring to a boil, them simmer for about an hour and a half, I sometimes finish it all in the oven for an hour.

Served with some sour cream, Israeli style, thick and full of flavor, and some tasty bread.

There is nothing I like cooking better than stuffed 8 balls. Nothing. Enjoy.

french cherry clafoutis.

A few days ago as we were eating some cherry pie, Tacuma asked: "when are you gonna make some cherry pie?"when cherries are in season, I said, thinking it won't be before summer, two days later while walking through Chinatown I saw a women selling cherries, and though I usually prefer using produce in its peak season I couldn't resist and bought 2lbs of tart cherries.

Looking for a good cherry pie recipe I learned about Clafoutis. Clafoutis is a custard that is made from cream, flour, eggs, spices and cherries. Being the custard lover that I am and with Nitzan alongside me salivating over the pictures in the book, we decided to go for it. since I had already thawed some crust dough I had saved from my last pie, I decided to add it to the mix. Could have done just fine without it, and most likely will next time, but it was still delicious. You start with pitting the cherries, a task that is a bit tedious, but in my opinion has to be done. According to this french cook book, traditionally you leave the pits in, that's fine as long as you make sure you warn your guests before they start eating. Since we ate many of them in the process of cleaning we ended up with one pound of  pitted cherries. Just enough. place the cherries in a baking dish, including any juice that is left after cleaning them. pre-heat oven to 375°F (180°C) In a bowl whisk together 2 eggs and 2 egg yolks and 1/2 cup sugar until well mixed and slightly stiff. add 3.5 oz (100 gr) of almond meal, 2 tablespoons of AP flour, 2 cups of cream or half and half, cinnamon and vanilla extract to taste and mix well. Pour mixture over the cherries,  and into the oven it goes...

After about 40-45 minutes poke the center and check if the custard is set, continue cooking until nicely golden on top, if the center is still a little soft don't worry, it will set as it cools down.

Dust with some powdered sugar before serving. Enjoy !

Brussels love

Last week while making brussel sprouts I was wondering how come I never tried to recreate my favorite brussel sprouts dish yet, that one I have every time I go to Alta, charred sprouts served with apples, pistachios and creme fraiche.Well, luckily It's still the season for brussel sprouts!

You will need about a pound of brussel sprouts, an apple (I like to use Fuji), 1/4 cup of apple cider, 1-2 tablespoon creme fraiche and a 1/4 cup pistachios, I used almond since I didn't have any pistachios. pre heat oven to 425°F Cleaning them is simple, if you cut the bottom part of the leg and therefor the bottom of the top few leaves they will come off easily. Then, cut them in half, length wise and add to a very hot cast iron with about 1 tablespoon of oil, a little salt and pepper, toss them around and place in the oven. I like to burn them a little, I find that it adds sweetness and a much-needed crispiness to this veggie. In the mean time, over a medium heat in a small sauce pan, reduce 1/4 cup of apple cider to about 2 tablespoon worth, slice half an apple to thin slices and cut to desire size and chop a hand-full of almonds.

Once the brussel sprouts are out of the oven arrange them in a serving dish, sprinkle the almonds/ pistachio over, mix in the apples and drizzle the apple cider reduction. top it off with some creme fraiche and that's it! enjoy this delicious treat.

french lentils soup

I promised Debbie about a month ago that I will make some lentil soup and put the recipe up, but this entire time I just wasn't inspired to cook any lentils, then I saw these green french lentils at the coop and knew that today is the day.

Like other legumes, lentils are low in fat and high in protein and fiber, but they have the added advantage of cooking quickly and they don't require any soaking. Green lentils are usually the ones I go for, the french ones are more delicate and take longer to cook. all lentils should be rinsed and picked through for stones before cooking. Oh, and by the way, they will take longer to cook if they are combined with salt or acidic ingredients, so add these last.

for the soup you will need: 1 medium onion, diced 5-6 cloves of garlic 1 medium carrot, sliced 1 stick of celery 1 small turnip 1 large potato 1 1/2 cup of lentils, picked and rinsed 5-6 cups of chicken stock or water 1 tomato, chopped 2 tablespoon cumin 2 tablespoon paprika 1 bay leaf salt and pepper 1-2 tablespoons of lemon juice chopped parsley for garnish

start by sweating the onion, carrot, celery and turnip in 2 tablespoons of oil, add black pepper and a pinch of salt just to get some liquid out of the veggies, add garlic, potato and lentils. Add liquid, cumin, paprika and a bay leaf. bring to a boil and lower to simmer. cook for 40 minutes to an hour, depending on the lentils you are using. Keep checking that there is enough liquid in the pot,  the lentils soak up a lot of liquid as they cook and the soup will slowly turn thicker, its up to you to decide how thick you want it to be. Taste a few lentils after the first 40 minutes and see if they are completely cooked and soft, make any adjusting to the flavor if needed, if the lentils are ready add the lemon juice, salt and the chopped tomato, cook for 5-10 more minutes discard the bay leaf and serve, garnished with chopped parsley.

eat your sprouts

As a kid, just like many, I didn't eat brussels sprouts, I'm not sure if it was the smell, the look or simply the name that made me abstain from it, either way it wasn't until recent years when I started eating it. One of the first times I truly felt like we might have a future was at Alta restaurant in NYC a few years ago, they were roasted and served with apples, pistachios and creme fraiche, as I'm writing these words I am wondering "how could it be that I have never tried to duplicate that dish?" Brussels sprouts get a delicious sweet flavor when caramelized and even slightly burnt, I like starting them in a hot pan and then finishing it in the oven.

There are many ways to roast these little green beauties, some include the addition of bacon, pancetta, chorizo or other cured pork products, it sure does add some fatty goodness to the dish and if you chooses to use any of the above, start by rendering the meat for a few minutes to get some of the fat melted in the pan, then add to the same pan your cleaned and washed sprouts, cut in halves or quarters. If you chooses a vegetarian dish, heat up some oil and/or butter and throw them in on a medium-high heat, then add salt and pepper and cook for a 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Place pan in a pre-heated over, at 375° F, for about 10-15 minutes, or until brussels sprouts are soft and nicely roasted. you can add some roasted nuts once out of the oven, my favorite are sliced almonds but if I don't have any I'll use pine nuts instead. This simple dish can be easily adjusted to your liking, you can spice it up with some chili or serve with fresh granny-smith apple slices and some lite drizzle of honey or reduced apple cider.

Either way its hard to go wrong.

A two years old cake, goes up in flames.

On Christmas day I was invited to the Pacheco's to take part in their traditional Christmas feast. Soon as I walked in I was handed a glass of bourbon and egg-nog ,I was expecting a delicious meal and so I wasn't surprised to see turkey and ham, brussel sprouts, mashed potato, home baked bread and some stuffing on the table, but nothing would have got me prepared for dessert. A brown, mountain shaped cake was placed in the middle of the table, so far nothing extraordinary,and then our host started pouring whiskey right on top of the cake, now we are talking A LOT of whiskey, so at this point my attention was only on this cake.

As expected, after the liqueur came the match

Now let me tell you a little about this cake; it is at least 2 years old (no joke) and was made by the sister of our host, this cake is made of different fruit, plump up with whiskey and/or rum, steamed and then left to age for a few years, it was sitting in her fridge for at least 2 years and according to her "these will last forever". Oh wow, all I know at this point is that my taste buds are ready!

The cake was delicious! It was moist and fruity with a strong yet not over-powering flavor of the whiskey and was served with a light home-made cream.  I don't have the recipe since it was made in Ireland by a relative of a family I only pretend to be related, but it is might mean I have to join them on their next trip over.

happy holidays, braised fennel

fennel is one of the earliest food i can remember, it seems like it was always on our dinner table, for the most part served chopped, raw in a lemon dressing. i always liked the flavor of fennel and its hairy leafy part as well, it has that anise like flavor, and though i'm not at all into licorice i am very much into fennel.there are many dishes you can make with fennel, i have been dreaming on fennel ice-cream ever since someone at the coop was telling me about her experiments with an ice-cream maker, but on my plate today, something a little less time-consuming: braised fennel. braised fennel is delicious, charring it before you braise it will bring out some hidden sweetness and will take it to a much happier place.

i start by taking the tops off, saving the leafy part for garnish, then slicing it length wise in order to keep the bulb sort of intact, then i gently toss it in olive oil, salt and pepper and place it in a hot cast iron to grill it, flipping about 4 minutes in or when it turned brown, for a total of 8-10 minutes. if you need to work in batches do so, don't over-crowed the pan.

once all pieces are nicely charred place them back in the pan and add about 1/2 cup of white wine, let it boil for a minute or two and add equal amount of chicken or veggie stock, salt, pepper, some chili flakes, a few threads of saffron and the juice of half an orange or 1 meyer lemon. cover and let simmer for about 15 minutes until fennel is soft.

garnish with some beautiful fronds.

mouth watering layers of meat sauce, ricotta and pasta, or as some call it : Lasagna

When it comes to pasta I must admit, I am pretty spoiled. Ever since I got a pasta maker as a birthday gift a few years back I had a really hard time going back to the pre-packaged dry version. Now don't think that every time I want pasta I pull it out and start rolling, but I definitely prefer buying fresh pasta if I'm too lazy to make my own.Lasagna is one of those wonder dishes that allows you to, pretty much, put whatever you want in it, and know that it will come out delicious. Today's Lasagna was constructed from a spicy lamb meat sauce, ricotta bechamel, kale and some Parmesan-Gruyere to top it off.

I use fresh pasta sheets, ground lamb meat, kale and half and half, you can change those basic ingredients and still follow the recipe.

In a sauce pan cook 1 1/2 cups of half and half with 1/2 an onion, 1 bay leaf and 2 cloves, simmer for 15-20 minutes, don't let it boil! While the cream is cooking dice 1 big onion, and 2 chopped cloves of garlic, in a cast iron or your favorite "meat sauce making" pan, sauté the onion and garlic in some oil (I like a combination of high heat oil, like sunflower oil, and some bacon fat) for 2-3 minutes, add 1 T salt, 1/2 T fresh pepper, 2 T paprika, sweet or spicy or both, 2 T dry oregano and a bay leaf or two. Cook for 1-2 minutes then add the meat and break into small chunks with a wooden spoon, cook for a few more minutes. Add 1/3 Cup red wine and cook for 8-10 minutes until the alcohol is cooked off.

Add 1 cup of diced tomatoes, either fresh, blanched and peeled or out of a can, 2 T of tomato paste and a pinch of sugar. Bring to a boil and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Wash the kale and saute it in a wok for a few minutes until soft.

Remove cream from heat, discard the onion, cloves and bay leaf. In a second sauce pan on low heat melt 1 T butter add 1 T flour and whisk together until well blend, slowly add the cream, whisking constantly until all incorporate, remove from heat. Add 1 cup of ricotta, salt, pepper and a few shaving of fresh nutmeg.

Assemble the lasagna (yum): Pre-heat oven to 400°F. Pick a deep, large baking dish, first layer should be meat sauce, not too much, just a thin layer at the bottom, follow by a layer of pasta, then kale, ricotta sauce, another layer of pasta, some meat sauce, etc. The order is completely optional, just make sure to start with a layer of sauce before the pasta, or else you might have a dry bottom. I never boil my pasta before layering it, not the fresh nor the dry. Top the whole thing with some grated cheese, Parmesan and Guryere are my choices. Stick it in the pre-heated over covered with baking paper and topped with foil for 20-25 minutes if using fresh pasta, 10-15 minutes longer if using dry pasta, then remove the foil and baking paper and cook for 10 more minutes or until the cheese is nicely crisped and golden in color.

Let cool for at least 10-15 minutes, its hard, I know, but you can do it. I find that taking it out of the oven before sitting down and then starting with some soup or salad is usually enough time, but it is most delicious the next day (like I can wait...)

Enjoy with some fresh arugula and red onion salad.

Meyer Lemon and Ricotta Pancakes

Sunday, it's noon and we are hungry. Last night we made Lasagna and I have some ricotta left, Tacuma wants pancakes... mmm... let me think..... I love Ricotta pancakes, and I don't need to be asked twice to make them, I also happened to have 3 Meyer lemons that been waiting to get used. perfect.

Now is the time to admit that I cheated when making the pancakes, I did use Pamela's Baking Mix instead of making the batter from scratch, but to my defense, it is so incredibly good that it just doesn't make sense not to use it. Especially on such a lazy Sunday.

for two people I used 1 cup of baking mix, I separated 2 eggs and added the yolks to the dry mix, then a 1/3 cup milk ( I used almond milk but you can use anything from water to cream), 1/2 cup of ricotta cheese, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, pinch of salt and the zest of 1Meyer lemon. mix well until combined with no lumps, if the batter is too thick or too thin adjust with either more liquid or more dry mix. I don't add sugar to the batter, simply so I can later drown it in maple. whisk the egg whites to stiff peaks and fold into batter. turn your oven on and set to 200°F. on a hot cast iron, oiled or buttered, or both, pour the batter using a spoon or a small ladle. once the pancake seem firm and you can see bubbles appearing throughout, gently lift with a spatula and flip. once golden brown on both sides remove from heat and keep warm in the preheated oven until all pancakes are ready to serve. In a bowl combine 1/2 cup or ricotta, juice of 1/2 a meyer lemon, 1/2 tablespoon of maple syrup, zest of 1 lemon and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. mix well and serve with pancakes.

Best served with.... Bacon!

Roasted Chestnuts Cookies

Another pound of Chestnuts miraculously found its way into my kitchen, it seems like that is all I want to eat this days, chestnuts and soups. There is something so comforting about roasting chestnuts in the winter, and the fact that they are so cheap right only makes it easier for me to buy them.I saw this recipe last week, when browsing through the smitten kitchen, and been dreaming of these cookies since.

I always favored food that requires some sort of getting your hands dirty, some peeling action, breaking and cracking, and chestnuts are exactly that. In the last few weeks, while slowly realizing I'm obsessed with chestnuts, I noticed how easy it is to over roast them, at least two batches were dried out because I left them in the oven too long (thankfully they are only $3 a lb these days), but 20-25 minutes, on 450°F is all it takes, you can also shake them once or twice while roasting, to get an even spread of the heat. A shallow X cut on top helps you to later crack and peel the skin off as it will start rolling back during the roast.

Start with a pound of chestnuts and cut an X on top of each one, with a sharp knife or a bread knife, try not to cut too deep into the "meat" but deep enough that the skin will peel back while roasting. Start with a pound, even though you will need less for the recipe, sometimes the chestnuts end up having rotten middles. After roasting, let them cool and then peel them, chop coarsely and measure one cup, place in a food processor and pulse until very fine, add 2 sticks of soft butter and pulse to combine, add 1/2 cup powdered sugar, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/8 teaspoon salt, a few fresh shavings of nutmeg and 2 cups all-purpose flour. pulse until even dough is formed. If you don't have a food processor chop the chestnuts as fine as you can, whip the butter and sugar in a mixer bowl, add vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, chestnuts and flour and beat to form dough.

Divide the dough and wrap each half in plastic, cool in the fridge for about an hour. Preheat the oven to 350°F . Working with each half of the chilled dough at a time start rolling out balls, about two teaspoons in size and place on a baking sheet, they won't spread so you don't have to leave more than 1/2 inch between the cookies. Bake for about 14 minutes, until just lightly golden in color on top. The cookies will very easily go from buttery and creamy to dry, so be careful not to overbake them. I always like testing out 2 or 3 first, every oven is different and many times I find that I need to adjust the baking time or temperature from the original recipe.

Let the baked cookies cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet and then roll them in 1 cup of powdered sugar mixed with a few pinches of cinnamon, and allow to cool completely. Be aware! These cookies are a buttery creamy goodness and they are addictive (I had 5 while writing this, 3 more when taking pictures and 2 just because).

Mushrooms in paper (Mushrooms en Papillote)

Another recipe from the new french cook book I got last week, mushrooms baked in paper. yum.

  • preheat the oven to 375°F ( 190°C)
  • cut  a baking paper to a rectangular 18-by-11-inch ( 45-by-28-cm).  fold the paper in half crosswise, open the paper and coat with butter, place in a baking sheet.
  • cut 1 lb of mixed mushrooms into bite size and place in a bowl, add 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 1/4 teaspoon of pepper, 1 tablespoon of butter cut into pieces, 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice and 2 tablespoons chopped parsley and toss well. spread the mushrooms on half the paper and fold the second half over the mushrooms, fold the edges over twice, working your way to the edges, ending with a twist on both ends.
  • place the package on the baking sheet and bake until the package is puffed and the mushrooms are cooked through 15-20 minutes, carefully open the package and serve at once.

Baked Asparagus and Potato cakes

Last Night we had Aoife and Greg over for dinner, on the menu: some bread, cheese and olives, baked asparagus, chicken in red wine and chestnuts and potato cakes (latkes).Baked asparagus is one of the easiest side dishes to make, and it is always delicious. Aside from the fact you have  to peel the skin of the asparagus, a task that can get a bit tedious at times, it is a quick and easy winner.

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch Asparagus
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 pint heavy cream or half and half
  • 2 tablespoons Paprika
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Gruyere cheese, or a mix of both
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon or chili flakes
  • salt and pepper to taste

Direction:

  1. preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. gently peel off the skin of the Asparagus with a vegetable peeler, making sure you are not taking off to much of the flush
  3. in a bowl mix together cream, garlic, paprika, half of the cheese, chili, salt, pepper and half of the bread crumbs
  4. place Asparagus in a shallow baking dish and pour mixture over it, mix with your hands to insure the mixture is coating the asparagus in all layers
  5. mix the remaining cheese and bread crumbs together and sprinkle on top
  6. cover with baking paper and foil and bake for about 30 minutes
  7. take off foil and bake uncovered 10 more minutes or until the cheese is nice and golden

In the spirit of Channukah we also made some potato cakes, these little fried devils are so tasty its is basically impossible to stop eating them. They are pretty simple to make, the one thing you must pay attention to is squeezing as much of the liquid out as you can, that will assure you will get a nicely crisped potato cake. As far as a recipe goes for these ones, I usually sort of eye-ball everything when I make them, mostly because  you have to adjust the amount of the eggs and flour according to how wet the potatoes are, but here is a basic recipe to give you an idea of what to do.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups peeled and shredded potatoes, stored in cold water until ready to use. I use either white, russet or Yukon gold, you can use any kind of potatoes you like
  • 1 medium onion, shredded
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • black pepper
  • I had some Parmesan and Gruyere , mix left over from the baked asparagus so I added it in as well
  • vegetable oil for frying

Directions:

  1. drain potatoes and squeeze as much of the water as you can
  2. in a bowl, mix all ingredients together
  3. heat oil, about 1/2 inch in depth, in a cast iron or your preferred frying pan
  4. take a spoonful of the mixture in your hand and squeeze it to get as much of the liquid out, then place it in the hot oil and flatten it a little with a spoon or your fingertips
  5. flip the cake over once it start browning
  6. take out of the oil and place on a cloth or paper towels to soak access oil
  7. serve warm with creme fraiche or sour cream

Jerusalem artichoke and chestnuts Gratin

When it comes to grocery shopping I do 99.9% of it at the Park Slope Food Co-op, I say 99.9% because every once in a while I'll get lazy and buy some pasta or chicken at the neighborhood's Italian market. The co-op's selection of fresh produce is so great that often I buy things without having a plan as for what to do with them. That was the case with the Jerusalem Artichokes I pulled out of my fridge today, I bought them last Saturday simply because they looked so fresh and beautiful and because I love Jerusalem artichokes (or Sun chokes as some call them). I looked at the artichokes and then around my kitchen, I spotted some Chestnuts and tried to figure out how to pair the two, a short online search yielded a few recipes but non involved Chestnuts, and then I found it, thank you Martha Stewart.

It is delicious!!

Here is the recipe, slightly modified from Martha's recipe:

Ingredients

Serves 6 to 8

  • 1 pound Jerusalem artichokes, peeled and sliced 1/4-inch-thick and reserved in cold water until ready to use
  • 3 cups milk
  • 8 ounces creme fraiche
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 cup grated Gruyere cheese
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 teaspoon Chili flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 pound Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/4-inch-thick
  • 5 ounces shallots, peeled and sliced thinly
  • 5 ounces peeled chestnuts, halved lengthwise
  • 1 cup bread crumbs

Directions

  1. In a large saucepan, combine Jerusalem artichokes and milk. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook for 10 minutes. Drain, reserving 3/4 cups of the milk.
  2. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk creme fraiche, reserved milk, lemon juice, 1/4 cup Gruyere, thyme, salt, chili and pepper. Add artichokes, potatoes, chestnuts, shallots; gently mix to combine. Transfer to a 6-cup shallow baking dish, and cover tightly with parchment-lined aluminum foil. Place on a rimmed baking sheet, and bake until artichokes are tender, about 1 hour. Remove foil, and sprinkle with breadcrumbs and remaining 3/4 cup cheese. Bake, uncovered, until golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Serve warm.