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. 


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