Sunday, November 20, 2011

Red Snapper. Butternut Squash. Balsamic Pickled Beets. Sunchokes.

Sunchokes, butternut squash, beets... fall is in full swing.
Sunchokes, also called Jerusalem Artichokes, bear no resemblance to artichokes and they don't come from Jerusalem.  In fact, it's a root vegetable that is part of the sunflower family.  It looks like a ginger root but has a sweet and nutty flavor that actually tastes like sunflower seeds.  Very cool vegetable if you're looking for something new to add to your repertoire this season. It can be roasted, mashed, pureed, and in this case very simply sauteed in olive oil with salt and pepper and finished with a little butter to enhance the natural sweetness.
The pickled beets give a nice brightness that contrasts the creamy sweetness of the butternut squash and the nuttiness of the sunchokes. The crispy fish skin gives a textural contrast to the puree and the pea tendrils add a fresh... "pea" flavor.  That's right, these little green shoots from pea plants actually taste like peas, but they look like a micro green.  They're not always available, so take advantage if you see them in the market.   You can use them in their raw state, like I did here, or they can be sauteed like spinach or myriad of other ways...but that's for another post.

Oh...and Bruce Springsteen announced a new album and world tour today.  Happy days.

Pear & Gorgonzola Pizza

I used frozen pizza dough. Just bring it to room temp and roll it out. 
Lay the thinly sliced pears around. 
Top with gorgonzola fresh mozzarella, salt and pepper. 
Bake in a pre-heated 500 degree oven on a pizza stone for 8-10 min. 
 Drizzle with some nice olive oil. That's it!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Behold, the Cardoon

This was my first time using cardoons.  I stumbled upon the celery stalk impostor while perusing fresh direct and I ordered it without having any idea what I would do with it or even how to cook it. I asked some friends about it and people speak of the mild artichoke flavor with such reverence, that despite it being a bit of a pain to prepare, I couldn't wait to try it.  Mario Batali commented on my twitter post, saying it is his favorite fall vegetable.  I did some research on how to cook the thing and found that most recipes call for either breading & frying it or have a beschamel or cheesey/saucy component.  I asked Iron Chef Marc Forgione on twitter and he suggested a cardoon and celery root gratin; sounds delicious, but wasn't exactly what I was looking for.  After giving it some thought, I came up with this dish as my first experiment: Rib Eye with Cardoon, Fennel & Brussel Sprout Leaves and Cardoon Fries.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

grilled cheese...literally

this is a play on the classic italian caprese salad and is perfect as a first course, salad or snack.  instead of the traditional buffala mozzarella, tomato and basil combo, i gave this version a little bit of a mediteranean/middle eastern twist by using grilled haloumi cheese, tomatoes, mint instead of basil and topped it off with a very simple balsamic glaze.  i'm really psyched about this dish and its a pretty cool way to have grilled haloumi.  if you're not familiar with haloumi, it is a firm greek cheese that is very popular all over the middle east made with either sheeps milk, cows milk or a combination of the two.  haloumi does'nt melt, so you can fry it, pan sear it or in this case, grill it.  the grill gives the haloumi a really nice smokiness that contrasts the freshness of the cold tomatoes and mint; the balsamic provides a welcome sweetness that you will be mopping off the plate.  theres a lot of stuff happening in this very simple dish - hot, cold, sweet, salty, savory, smoky & fresh all in one bite. its pretty impressive considering its simplicity. awesome.