Thursday, October 16, 2014

Puff Pastry Pizza with Arugula Pesto

If you have tasted burrata, you know what I’m talking about when I say it is heaven on a plate. I fell in love with burrata when mistakenly purchasing it instead of a fresh mozzarella ball.

Burrata is mozzarella’s sexy sister. The exterior is typical mozz, but with a soft, silky, luscious cream interior that gently oozes out when cutting into it. Think molten lava cake in cheese form.
We enjoyed this Puff Pastry Pizza with Arugula Pesto as a meal with a side salad, but it would also make a terrific appetizer if cut into squares. Burrata and puff pastry are a bit more decadent and indulgent than I typically use when making meals, but the tomatoes and arugula pesto tilt the meter back to the nutritious side. 

To make a healthier version of this pizza, pita bread (especially whole wheat) could be subbed for the puff pastry, and regular mozzarella could replace the burrata. But then there would be no burrata. And life without burrata is…well, boring.
until next time...
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Puff Pastry Pizza with Arugula Pesto (adapted recipe from Rachel Ray Magazine)

Ingredients
  • 3 cups arugula
  • 1/3 cup Parmesan (we used Cave Aged Tomme Cheese, Marcoot Jersey Creamery, Greenville, IL)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. white vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved (ours from Local Chef Heirloom garden at Benne Farm, Weldon Spring, MO)
  • 1 ball burrata, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • salt and pepper to taste
Cooking Directions
  1. To make pesto: in a food processor, combine arugula, Parmesan, oil, vinegar and garlic until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Meanwhile, place puff pastry sheet on parchment lined baking sheet. Pierce with fork. Top with tomatoes and bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes or until puffed and crisp on edges. Top with burrata and pesto to serve.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

4 Bean Salad in a Cumin Oil and Lime Dressing

Well here is an ugly duckling turned swan for ya: purple hull peas. Have you heard of them? Maybe instead you know them as pink-eyed peas, or cowpeas? I had never come across purple hull peas before receiving a bag-full of ‘em in the last couple of Local Chef CSA boxes. 

Straight from nature, the pods are quite lanky and scraggly and not very becoming.  

But once taken from the pod, lovely pink-eyed peas emerge.


Taking the time to pop the peas out of the pods, might be considered a chore for some, but I find it to be almost therapeutic. If you aren’t a pea-popping geek like me, and would rather buy them already shelled, look for them in the frozen section of the grocery market. Another sub: black-eyed-peas would work well too!

I enjoyed the 4 Bean Salad in a Cumin Oil & Lime Dressing with a rustic rice pilaf. For the meat lovers in the house we added a portion of leftover beef brisket on the side.


until next time...
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4 Bean Salad in a Cumin Oil and Lime Dressing
2 Tbsp olive oil
½ cup chopped onion 
2 cloves finely chopped garlic
2 tsp. ground cumin
1 cup fresh green beans, trimmed to 1 inch pieces (we used green & wax beans)
1 cup frozen shelled edamame
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup purple hull peas (or black eyed peas)
3/4 cup thinly sliced celery
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
salt and black pepper to taste

1. Heat oil in small skillet over medium-low heat. Add onion and garlic, cook about 2 minutes until onions are translucent. Add cumin and cook one minute longer, stirring.
2. Meanwhile blanch green beans for 1 minute in boiling water. Drain and rinse with cool water to stop cooking.
3. In a medium sized bowl combine edamame, black beans, purple hull peas (or black-eyed), celery, lime juice. Add cooled green beans and cumin-onion-garlic mixture. Toss together with salt, pepper and cilantro.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Salmon with Wild Mushroom Sauce ~ A Recipe Redux

I cannot wait! I have wanted to attend a Wild Edibles class at Shaw Nature Reserve for years now. Each time I’ve tried to register, the class has been wait-listed (apparently I am not the only wild edibles geek).  Well, this year I got a spot!

I already know a bit about foraging for edibles, trying to learn as I go. Last week, on a walk with a friend in the park we came across a few of these:
Giant Puffball (on left), friends foot (on right)
Which I happily threw into the mix for dinner.

And these:
Chestnuts
…I’m still contemplating what to do with 'em- got any ideas?

Just like other great finds at the market, when picking up more than can be enjoyed fresh, we try to find a way to preserve the goodness. In the case of wild mushrooms, dehydrating is usually the way to go. Most mushrooms have a high water content so when they are dried, they really condense down and concentrate the flavor. A food dehydrator such as this comes in handy:

Then, when its time to make something dandy that calls for mushrooms, simply rehydrate by soaking in hot water for a few minutes. 
And when making a soup or sauce such as Salmon with Wild Mushroom Sauce there’s a bonus: the liquid becomes a rich mushroom broth that can also be used. The rehydrated mushrooms and its broth deepen the flavor of the sauce, adding an extra layer of earthiness, so perfect for fall.

You certainly do not have to forage for mushrooms to make this dish. Dried mushroom medleys can be found in many markets, usually in small cellophane packaging. 
until next time...
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Salmon with Wild Mushroom Sauce (recipe inspiration from Eating Well Magazine, Nov/Dec '10)

Ingredients
  • 1 ounce dried mushroom blend (porcini, shiitake, oyster, chanterelle, morel, or any mixture you can find)
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 2 tsp. cornstarch
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/4 cup onion, minced finely
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • 1 cup beef or vegetable stock
  • 1 tsp. butter
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 pound salmon fillet, in 3-4 portions
Cooking Directions
  1. Pour boiling water over dried mushrooms, allow to soak about 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, add oil to skillet, saute onion for about 3 minutes until translucent. Add in stock and wine, allow sauce to reduce, about 5 minutes.
  3. When mushroom have rehydrated, strain out mushrooms, chop mushrooms into smaller pieces, and add to cooked onion mixture.
  4. Whisk corn starch into reserved mushroom liquid, then slowly add to skillet with onion mushroom mixture. Allow sauce to thicken; add in butter, lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste.
  5. In a separate skillet, heat 1 Tbsp. oil, add salmon and cook until just cooked through, 3-5 minutes per side. Serve with warmed mushroom sauce.

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