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Hagarita -  the love of cooking and sharing food

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.

Bourekas

Bourekas are little pockets of goodness, made from puff pastry and filled with mushrooms, potatoes, cheese or really whatever you want to fill them with.For dinner last night we decided to go light, we had a bag of mushrooms that needed attention, left over from NYE when we never got to cook them, and two frozen sheets of puff pastry. Bourekas can be served in different ways, I like serving them with a hard boiled egg, pureed tomato and some Labane with za'atar.

Potato, mushroom and onion Bourekas: makes 18 pieces

you will need 1 potato, 1 onion, about 15 mushrooms of your liking, thyme, parsley, 1,4 cup white wine, 1/8 cup half and half,  butter, oil, salt and pepper and egg wash. I also like to sprinkle some sesame seeds on top.

Start by cooking the potato and then mashing it add some butter (1 tablespoon) and set aside. Take the dough out of the freezer and set your oven to 400. Slice the onion and saute in a pan until starting to color, add slices mushrooms and 1 tablespoon of butter, add thyme, salt and pepper, cook for a few minutes and add wine. cook the alcohol off and add cream, cook together, adjusting taste, for a few minutes until most of the liquid is gone. mix together the potato with the mushrooms and add about 2 tablespoons of chopped parsley, taste and adjust.

If the dough is still frozen let it sit until completely thawed, then sprinkle with some flour, and cut into 9 squares, try to keep the at the same size. Place about 1 tablespoon of filling on one side of the square, away from the edges, brush edge with egg wash, fold over and press sealed, first with your fingertips and then with a fork. once all the bourekas are ready, place on a baking sheet and brush tops with egg wash, sprinkle with sesame seeds and place in the oven for 15-17 minutes. keep an eye on them as baking time may vary, once the are puffed and golden in color take them out and let cool.

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.

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.

Open-Faced Treat

I love open-face paninis, much more than the ones with a second slice of bread on top, mostly because two slices of bread is just too much in my opinion, I'm a lot more excited about what's inside the bread anyway, and that second slice of bread  just takes up unnecessary space in my stomach.For brunch on  Saturday morning: Avocado, red onions, Gruyere, thick cut bacon and a sunny side up egg on a fresh toasted slice of sour dough. Delicious.

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.

Anna's earth apples (Pommes Anna)

For my birthday last week, I got a sweet cook book from my close friends  R and N: "Essentials of French Cooking" that is divided by the regions of France, and has an incredible selection of recipes, with classics like Coq au Vin,  Beef Bourguignon and Tart Tatin, as well as less known dishes like Blue Cheese and Walnut soufflé and Sausage and Choucroute (sauerkraut). Everything in this book looks amazing and everything calls for a lot of butter!! Today I finally decided to stop drooling over the pictures and cook a recipe from it. Looking at the selection of available produce in my kitchen, I decided to use the potatoes, I bought a hand-full of blue potatoes about a week ago and a fresh load of Yukons yesterday, and it was time to make something out of them.Pommes Anna- Anna's potatoes, is a potato gratin named after Anna Deslions by the Cafe des Anglais in Paris, it is tasty and easy and looks beautiful. Bon Apetit!

Ingredients:

  • 5 tablespoons (2 1/2 oz/ 75 g)unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 lb (750g) potatoes
  • salt and fresh black pepper

Directions:

  1. preheat the oven to 375° F (19o° C). Coat a 9" (23-cm) pie pan with 1 tablespoon of butter
  2. peel the potatoes, rinse and dry. Using the thin slicing blade on a mandolin or a sharp knife cut the potatoes into slices 1/8 " (3mm) thick.
  3. in a sauce pan melt the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter until in foams and set aside.
  4. arrange some of the potatoes in a single layer in the prepared pan, overlapping them just slightly. lightly sprinkle with salt and pepper and drizzle with the melted butter. Repeat the layering process with the rest of the potatoes.
  5. bake in the oven until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork and the top is crisp and golden, 45-60 minutes, transfer to a wire rack and let stand for 5 minutes.
  6. run a knife around the edge of the pan, then place a plate over the top and invert the pan and plate together to unmold.

Since I didn't use 1 1/2 lb of potatoes they didn't go all the way to the top of the pan, which made it very hard to invert and unmold, I did, however, use a cake pan that opens with a spring, and simply opened it up and transfer the whole thing to a serving dish.

Eat more pie!

Yesterday Aoife and I decided on a trade, she will make me a very needed cake/pie serving dish and I, in return, will make her pies. Sweet and savory pies. First pie to be exchanged: leek, goat cheese and mushrooms (with a little bit of sun-chokes).I bought a beautiful Leek at the coop a few days ago that has been begging to be cooked, and so as soon as I got up I started working on it. Tart dough is simple to make and it is by far more rewarding then buying a frozen pre-made crust. The fun thing about baking pies is that you don't have to be so accurate, often when baking there is not much room for making up stuff as you go. With pies, however, I find that I have a lot more room to play with quantities and ingredients and that is exactly how I like to cook. I actually had some sun-chokes that needed to be used and so I peeled them, sliced them, cooked them in some milk and stuffed them in the bottom of the tart.

Stay tuned for more pie recipes over the next few weeks, and feel free to suggest ideas for pies I should make for the clay master and her chef lover.

Dough ingredients:

  • 2 cups All purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup cold butter, cut to cubes
  • 6 tablespoons ice cold water

Mix flour and salt in a bowl, add butter and mix until the butter pieces are pea-size. Add the water, one tablespoon at a time and mix with your fingertips. Do not over work the dough or it will become hard. Wrap in plastic and let rest in the fridge for 15 minutes.

Make the filling:

  • 3lbs leek, white part, thinly sliced
  • 15-20 mixed mushrooms, cremini, oyster, shiitake, brushed cleaned and chopped coarsely
  • 3 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoon fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 3 oz goat cheese
  • 3 oz creme fraiche
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock

* if you want to use potatoes or sun-chokes as well, peel and slice them and then cook in milk or cream for about 20 minutes until soft.

In a frying pan melt the butter and add the leek. Cook until leek is translucent, about 5 minutes, add thyme, bay leaf, 1/2 the salt, 1/2 the pepper and the chicken stock. Cover and cook for 15 minutes. Make sure not to brown the leeks. Uncover and cook for about 15 more minutes until all juices are almost gone. In a separate pan melt the remaining butter and add the mushrooms and, salt and pepper. Cook for about 10 minutes until the mushrooms have released their juices. Place the leeks in a bowl, discard the nay leaf and mix in goat cheese and creme fraiche.

On a floured surface roll out the dough. Butter a 9" pie pan and line with rolled dough, fill with the leek mixture and bake for 15-20 minutes until the crust and leeks are starting to turn golden. Place mushrooms on top and bake for 10-15 minutes more. Place on a wire rack and let cool for 10-15 minutes. Serve warm.

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.