Friday, December 13, 2013

Jerusalem Artichoke Soup with Truffle oil and Hazelnut Gremolata

At this time of year I always think of Jerusalem and when I think of Jerusalem I think of my nephew Martin Dockery.  He is an extraordinary story teller. In his performance of "The Holy Land Experience" he describes his visit to Jerusalem on Christmas Eve. I imagine it to be exotic, beautiful, spiritual and dream like. A Christmas Eve I would love to experience. Since I won't be spending the Holiday in Israel I'll have to make the best of it. I'll serve Roast beef, Yorkshire Pudding and the first course will be this festive soup. It's the next best thing to being to being there. 
Surprisingly Jerusalem artichokes or sunchoke aren't from the Middle East. They were grown here in the North America by Native Americans. The Italian immigrants gave them the name girasole, meaning sunflower because the flower is similar to the garden sunflower. 
Picture curtesy of Wikipedia

The English the changed the name to Jerusalem but no one is sure where the artichoke thing comes from. The point is they are healthy, delicious and make the most incredible soup. The French feel in love with the in the 19th century. When you make this soup you will understand why. 
On Christmas Eve I serve this as a first course. A soupettes (tiny soup bowl)  beside a small jeweled salad of arugula, orange wedges, pomegranate seeds and golden beets. The colors are lovely and the hazelnut gremolata provides crunch in this velvety soup. The Truffle Oil enhances the earthy flavor of the sunchoke making this a lovely beginning to a memorable holiday meal. 

Jerusalem Artichoke Soup with Hazelnut Gremolata and Truffle Oil

1 tablespoon butter
1 pound jerusalem artichokes, washed and sliced
1 medium clove garlic minced
1/4 cup of chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped carrots
1/4 cup chopped celery
4 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup heavy cream
Truffle Oil

Melt butter in a sauce pan. Add garlic and sauté until it's aromatic about 30 seconds.
Add mire poix or onion, carrot and celery and sauté until soft. 
Add chicken broth and cook about 1 hour. Puree with a wand or a food processor. 
Stir in cream and heat. 
To serve place the gremolata in center, pour Truffle oil around the bowl. 

Gremolata

2 Tablespoons hazelnuts, roasted, skin rubbed off and coarsely chopped

2 tablespoons chopped parsley 
1 tablespoons finely grated orange rind
1 tablespoon or so of olive oilStir together in a small bowl and place in center of soup.

All photographs and text are property of The Gypsy Chef

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Autumn Quinoa Salad

We've only just returned from Italy. Our bags are still being unpacked, the laundry sorted and we're rediscovering those wonderful souvenirs that are inviting us to revisit our trip. I haven't had a minute to go to the grocery and I don't want to call out for food delivery. 
The weather has been unseasonably warm and we both need to drop those few extra pounds we put on in Italy. What's a woman to do? Raid her dying garden and put together a healthy salad.

 I thought quinoa would be a good start since 2013 is being recognized by the Food and Agriculture Organization to be The International Year of the Quinoa. 
Quinoa is simple to prepare, versatile and healthy. It's nutty flavor is easy to pair with almost any dish. 
Quinoa is actually a seed, not a grain. But is used as a grain in many dishes. According to  The World's Healthiest Foods website it's a complete protein that's high in fiber,calcium, iron and magnesium. 
To cook the Quinoa follow the instructions on the box. Be sure to rinse the Quinoa under water to remove the bitter outer coating.  Cook it in water or stock and be sure to add salt and fresh herbs for flavor. Once cooked let it stand at least 5 minutes and then fluff with a fork. Once cooked it should have a bit of crunch.
In the garden I had swiss chard, chives and parsley. In my pantry I found walnuts, raisins and dried cranberries. The lone Gala apple on my table provided more color, crunch and flavor. 

I cooked the quinoa, chopped the herbs, cut the rib from the swiss chard leaves and thinly sliced it (I saved the leaves for dinner). I diced the apple and tossed in the dried fruit and walnuts. I prepared a quick vinaigrette out of apple cider vinegar, grape seed oil, shallots and bit of honey. Tossed and served out of doors it was the perfect lunch for a warm, autumn afternoon. 

All text and photographs are sole property of The Gypsy Chef and may not be used without written permission.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Asparagus Lasagna


It's spring! I smell it in the air and feel it all around me. I see snow drops and crocus poking there noses up out of the dirt in my yard. I'm preparing to turn the soil in my garden and sow seeds for lettuce and arugula. 
 Every spring I welcome the season with a fresh Asparagus Lasagna. I find new bunches of tender and slender asparagus, grate fresh lemon zest, and buy logs of goat cheese. Occasionally I make my own  pasta, other times I just buy fresh lasagna sheets and enjoy the ease of preparation. It's best served with an orange salad. And with the blood oranges still available what better accompaniment than a lovely red and green salad?
 Dress your table for spring with a vase opurple hyacinths, a yellow table cloth and prepare for spring. It's arriving and available for the taking!

Asparagus Lasagne
4 pounds of slender asparagus, trimmed
3 Tablespoons olive oil
6 lasagna sheets, or enough to make 3 layers
4 Tablespoons butter
1/4 cup flour
1 1/2 cups of chicken broth
1/2 cup water
7 oz mild goat cheese (montrachet)
1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
1 2/3 cups parmesean cheese, gated
1 cup heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.

Cut off asparagus tips and reserve. Cut the  rest of the asparagus spears into 1/2 inch lengths. place in a bowl with the olive oil and salt and pepper. Toss ensuring all are coated in olive oil. Place in a roasting pan and roast 5-10 minutes shaking occasionally.
Turn the oven down to 400 degrees.
Make a Roux by melting the butter. Add the flour and cook over a medium flame for 3 minutes stirring with a wooden spoon. Turn off the flame and add a 1/4 of the chicken stock beating with a wire whisk until blended. Add the remaining stock and water and whisk over a high flame until almost at a boil. Lower flame and cook over medium heat 5 minutes.
Whisk in goat cheese, lemon zest and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
beat the heavy cream in a boel with salt and pepper until soft peaks form. 
Spread a little sauce over the bottom of the lasagna pan. Place pasta in pan ensuring the edges don't over lap or lay against the sides of the pan. place 1/3 of the sauce onto the pasta and smooth evenly over pasta. Sprinkle  1/2 the asparagus over the sauce and dust with 1/2 cups of Parmesan cheese.
Now make one more layer beginning with pasta, adding the sauce, asparagus and cheese. Add another layer of pasta, the last of the sauce and dollop the beaten cream on top. Sprinkle the asparagus tips over this and dust with the Parmesan cheese.
Bake for 20-30 minutes until the top is beginning to brown and bubbly. Allow the lasagna to rest 10 minutes before cutting and serving.
All photos and text are property of The Gypsy Chef

Friday, May 11, 2012

Watermelon Salad

I saw a picture of a watermelon salad in a travel magazine about a year ago. I ripped out the page, hung it on the fridge and waited for watermelon season. 
Yesterday I pulled the pic off the fridge and realized it was only a pic, no recipe. Now it became a challenge. 
I went into the garden cut a few chive flowers, and pull some radish sprouts. I cut the goat cheese and watermelon into circles, stacked them and sprinkled with flowers and sprouts. I then drizzled a wee bit of thick and sweet balsamic vinegar on the plate. 
Voila!
The perfect first course for dinner.
Easy peasey and tasty too. 
And best of all, every bite was eaten!
All text and Photos are property of The Gypsy Chef

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

St. Martin, une belle île.

I am the luckiest woman in the world. I know that and I give thanks everyday. After studying french I declared I would only vacation where french is spoken. When B came home from flying a turn to SXM (St Martin) he insisted we visit. He said it was the perfect spot for R&R and une petite vacannces. It doesn't take much to convince me so off we went.
We arrived in late afternoon, rented a car and with a map in hand began our journey to Baie Orientale and the Palm Court Hotel. Unbeknownst to us the Mardi Gras celebration in Grandcase had made traffic bumper to bumper from the airport to our destination. Three hours after climbing into our rental car we pulled into the gated community that was know as Baie Orientale. 
 In the darkness it looked tropical and somewhat Disneyesque. We tracked down our hotel, and were fortuitous enough to arrive as guests were leaving. They kindly shared the code and gave us access through the gate. Exotic lanterns led us around to the main entrance. 
 There we found our names on a envelope taped to the front door. Inside there was a warm french welcome, a key to our room, and information about breakfast. We’d arrived!
Our room was enchanting, the balcony had a lounge chair and dinette set over looking the pool and gardens. The kitchenette was hidden behind a colorful striped curtain and was stocked with glasses, cutlery and plates. They’d looked as though they had never been touched.
The bathroom was large, beautifully tiled and contained a multitude of lotions, scents, and other amenities. I found a bowl of sweets and a basket of jasmine incense. It was a lovely, relaxing suit perfect that provided a heaven from a cold stressful New York lifestyle. Heaven, thy name is the Palm Court!
Across the road we found a cluster of restaurants around a gazebo and grassed area. At night while adults dined al fresco children romped around the gazebo dancing and playing until called for their dinner. 
This being a French island ensured the food was delicious, the baguettes were crisp and the croissants were flaky with butter. Everyone spoke french and were more than willing to converse with me kindly correcting my mistakes and encouraging me to speak that most beloved of languages.
Every night we dined in a different restaurant and every night we declared it was our favorite.
The beach was sunny, breezy and lulled us into a trance. It seemed the morning would never end then we would feel our stomach’s growl and would head back to our room for a ploughman’s lunch and a nap. 
 Late afternoon would find us enjoying a coffee and heading back to the beach to sit in our favorite chairs under an palm umbrella and we would read and doze until dinner.
It seemed like our 5 days went by quickly. As we climbed aboard the plane to head back to New York we felt relaxed and sad to leave such a jewel of an island.
I am ready to head back, but B wants to try another island in the French Caribbean. Any suggestions?
All text and photos are property of The Gypsy Chef

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Roasted Cauliflower Pizza on the Grill

Roasted  Cauliflower Pizza on the Grill

Recently I had dinner a friend at Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza in White Plains. We shared a Roasted Cauliflower Pizza fresh from a wood fired oven. It had a fresh smoky flavor you find in Italian pizzas. The cauliflower was creamy and golden atop a silky ricotta that had a touch of garlic.
I wanted to create the same pizza for our dinner party last night. I made a pizza crust from sour dough starter I’ve been nursing since bread class. I thought the tang of the sourdough would compliment the roasted cauliflower and it did. I tooped the pizzas with salted fresh ricotta, oven roasted cherry tomatoes, fresh mozzarella  and organic cauliflower.
Once the dough was ready, I divided it into 3 equal pieces and pressed it into a round flat disk. I then used my knuckles under the edge of the dough moving it around  to stretch it into a circle. It actually forms an unusual free form shape but I prefer that to rolling it out with a pin.  
 I had preheated the gas grill so that it was hot and ready to go. I only use 2 of the 3 burners because I like a cooler side to finish off the pizza with out burning it. This way I can walk away from the grill and not worry.
I placed the dough over the fire, waited about 1 minute and turned it over. I brushed it with olive oil, and topped it with cauliflower florets, roasted tomatoes and bits of ricotta and mozzarella cheeses.  On the second pizza I crumbled a dried hot pepper from last year’s garden which added a bit of pizazz. Once the crust was set I slid the pizza to the cooler side of the grill, lowered the lid and allowed the cheese to melt.
Don’t load up your pizza with a lot of toppings. It will become soggy but more importantly it will have a jumbled flavor with no one ingredient standing out. It’s much better to use your ingredients sparingly.
I served one pizza at a time cut into bite size pieces. It was an intimate dinner eaten slowly and enjoyed with good company and Italian wine.
If your not inclined to make pizza dough, or you don’t have starter hanging around your kitchen you can buy an acceptable one at the super market. If you would like to try a sour dough pizza crust you will find it here at Sourdough Pizza Crust; King Arthur.

Roasted Cauliflower Pizza

1 head of Cauliflower divided into florets
8 ounces oven roasted cherry tomatoes
salted fresh ricotta
salted fresh mozzarella
olive oil
fresh chives
Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees

Toss the cauliflower florets in olive oil, salt and pepper and roast in the oven for 20-25 minutes tossing occasionally.

Toss the cherry tomatoes in olive oil, garlic and salt and pepper and roast for 20-30 minutes depending on their size.

Break the mozzarella into pieces and set aside.

Once the dough has risen, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Cut it into four equal pieces. Press it into a flat round disk and use a rolling pin to roll it out from the center to a thin round pie shape.
Dust a peel or plate with semolina flour  and place the pizza on the peel. Slide it onto the gas grill and turn the fire down. Allow the pizza to sit for one minute or so and then using a tong check the bottom. If it is scored with grill marks give it a turn. brush it with olive oil and add your toppings. Lower the lid and allow the cheese to melt and everything to heat. If it looks as though the fire is too hot move the pizza to the cooler side. 
All text and photos are sole property of The Gypsy Chef

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day

The rose is red, the violet's blue,
The honey's sweet, and so are you.
Thou art my love and I am thine;
I drew thee to my Valentine:
The lot was cast and then I drew,
And Fortune said it shou'd be you.
Gammer Gurton's Garland (1784) Wikipedia

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