Valentine’s Day Roasted Beet Cavatelli with Caramelized Fennel & Beet Sauce AND a Beet & Watercress Salad with Edamame

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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Valentine’s Day.  A perfect excuse for magenta food items.

I love beets and I am always surprised when people say they hate them – mostly because beet salads are such a common thing on menus.  That alone suggests they are popular but whenever I am questioning a person who claims to eat everything about whether they eat the most controversial foods (mushrooms, eggplant, seafood, garlic, peas, Brussel sprouts & beets) – I often get a negative response to all of those – including beets.

Anyway – I think they are wonderful and I love their vibrant color.  One note – if you eat these bright red vegetables – your subsequent visits to the restroom could be alarming.  All that pigment in the beets will go right through you and you might look into the toilet bowl & fear you are bleeding to death.  You are not.  Just FYI.

Another thing – beets WILL dye your clothes & hands – so – wear dark clothing or an apron when working with them.   Also – the cavatelli, the sauce & the salad all call for roasted beets.  So – roast a whole bunch at once – and roast some garlic along with them.  And lastly – cook the cavatelli within a few hours of making them.  I let mine sit out too long & I think they suffered for it.

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First – the salad.

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Beet & Watercress Salad with Edamame

INGREDIENTS

Roasted beets

Watercress

toasted pecans

goat cheese – crumbled

red onion – shaved VERY thin

edamame

1/2 cup olive oil

1 TBS apple cider vinegar

1 tsp honey

1 tsp Dijon

S&P to taste

Blend the last five ingredients for the dressing.

Halve the beets (tossed in olive oil) & roast at 450 for 45 minutes or until done.

Toast the pecans in a dry frying pan until fragrant – being careful not to burn them.

When the beets are done, cool them & slice or cube them up & toss with some dressing.

Arrange the ingredients on plates & add more dressing.

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Valentine’s Day Roasted Beet Cavatelli with Caramelized Fennel & Beet Sauce

INGREDIENTS

For the cavatelli

2 cups flour

3 TBS olive oil

2 eggs

2 TBS water

1 tsp salt

1 large roasted beet

DIRECTIONS

Halve the beet (tossed in olive oil) & roast at 450 for 45 minutes or until done.

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Puree the beet with all the other ingredients – except the flour – until the beet is completely broken up.  At this point – I put the flour & beet puree in my bread machine & let it do the dirty work of kneading the dough.  You could probably pulse the flour into the food processor in increments.  Or – create a flour well on a counter or in a bowl & blend into a dough.  Knead it until it is smooth & pliable.

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In sections, roll the dough into snakes & then cut into 3/4 inch chunks & roll into little hot dog shapes.

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Check out this woman (at about 2:00) and how she rolls out the cavatelli.

I rolled mine on a gnocchi board.

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For the beet & caramelized fennel sauce

INGREDIENTS

1 fennel bulb – shaved or sliced very thin – dilly parts saved for garnish

1 tsp salt

1 tsp fresh rosemary

1 TBS olive oil

3 shallots – chopped

4 roasted beets (tossed in olive oil and roasted at 450 for 45 minutes or til done)

4 roasted garlic cloves (roasted with the beets but removed from the oven after about 30 min)

1 tomato – quartered

4 oz goat cheese

3 oz cream cheese (or more goat cheese)

Fresh parsley – chopped

Fresh grated Parmesan or other hard cheese

S&P to taste

DIRECTIONS

Roast the beets & garlic.

With a mortar & pestle, grind the rosemary into 1 tsp salt.

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Heat 1 TBS olive oil & cook the shallots & fennel for 5-7 minutes – or until browned.  Add the rosemary salt.

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In a food processor – blend the roasted beets, roasted garlic, caramelized fennel & shallots, tomato, goat cheese, cream cheese and S&P to taste.  Add water if it is too thick.

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Cook the cavatelli in boiling water until they all float to the top.  Drain them & toss with the sauce.  Garnish with more crumbled goat cheese and grated Parmesan & chopped parsley and/or the dilly part of the fennel.

Enjoy!  And have a happy Valentine’s Day!

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Cauliflower Mashed “Potatoes” with Caramelized Fennel & Spicy Orange-Glazed Albacore

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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Holy crap!  I could live on this mashed cauliflower dish!  I added 1/2 cup heavy cream to this but I do not think that is necessary.  Butter or a little milk (even plain soy milk) would likely be cool.  And wowza!  Are they easy.  I added caramelized fennel just to get fancy & it added a really nice flavor but caramelized onions or roasted garlic or goat cheese or any number of additions could take this dish in a multitude of directions.

As to the albacore – I buy it like this at Trader Joe’s.

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Two decent sized slabs of tuna for just over $5.  Can’t beat that!  The problem is, I find this to sometimes be a tad fishy so I intentionally cook the bejesus out of it.  I cook it until the fat bubbles out of it.  At that point – it is virtually indistinguishable from some dry chicken breast.  At least – for me – it is because I haven’t eaten actual chicken breast in like 25 years.  Dry chicken might not sound appealing to you but I gave up meat to avoid giving my money to factory farms (and savage, MASS cruelty), not because I don’t like it.  I miss things like the awesome hotdogs at Costco, chicken piccata, rare steak and bacon.  So – I eat veggie dogs and Bacos in a jar & I try to make chicken piccata from this overcooked fish thing.  I used it here to simulate a glazed chicken dish & it works for me.  You might want to use actual chicken or salmon, if this albacore isn’t available to you – or if my description above was a bit on the soft sell side.

These flavors worked really well together & it was a very filling while still pretty healthy dinner.  But, whether you make the funky chicken albacore or not – TRY THE MASHED CAULIFLOWER!

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Cauliflower Mashed “Potatoes” with Caramelized Fennel & Spicy Orange-Glazed Albacore

INGREDIENTS

For the spicy orange-glazed albacore

2 pieces of albacore (or chicken breasts or salmon)

2 TBS butter

juice & zest of 2 oranges

2 TBS honey

2 TBS Dijon

2 tsp (or to taste) crushed red pepper

S&P to taste

For the cauliflower mashed potatoes with caramelized fennel

1 head cauliflower – cut into florets

1 bulb fennel – shaved very thin

2 TBS butter

1/2 cup heavy cream (or milk or soy milk)

1 TBS horseradish (optional)

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DIRECTIONS

For the Cauliflower Mashed “Potatoes” with Caramelized Fennel 

Boil water & add the cauliflower & cook until soft.  Maybe 15 minutes.  Turn off heat & let cauliflower sit in the hot water.

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Slice the fennel very thinly – reserving the dilly tops for garnish.  Melt the butter in a saute pan.  Saute the fennel, stirring constantly over medium heat – just until it begins to brown.  Remove from heat.

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Drain the cauliflower & put it, the heavy cream, horseradish, and 1/2 of the caramelized fennel in a food processor & puree until smooth.  Add a little water to thin them if you desire.  Reserve some caramelized fennel for garnish.

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Taste & add S&P to taste.

For the spicy orange-glazed albacore

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Melt the butter in a saute pan.  Add the orange juice & zest, honey, Dijon & crushed red pepper & saute over medium heat until it thickens enough to coat a wooden spoon.  Add S&P to taste.

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Coat the top of the fish with the glaze – reserving a little extra for garnish.  Bake the fish for about 20 minutes or until done.  I then turned the broiler on & put the fish near the flame for several seconds, watching VERY closely, until the glaze bubbled & boiled.

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To serve – put a generous helping of the cauliflower puree on two plates.  Top with the cooked fish & then garnish with the reserved orange glaze, caramelized fennel and maybe some of the chopped dilly tops of the fennel and lots of freshly cracked pepper.

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Truffled Celery Root Mixed Grain Risotto Tower with Roasted Beets, Pan-fried Cauliflower & Basil Jus

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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This might look intimidating but it is not.  It just requires a few easy steps.  Most of it could be substituted with other ingredients, too.  For example – hate beets?  Use carrots or corn or sweet potato instead.  Trader Joe’s mixed grain thing not available to you?

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Use a regular risotto.  Celery root unavailable or yucky to you?  Make your risotto with whatever ingredients you prefer.  Don’t have fancy food mold ring to create the tower?   Use a bowl or just free form it on the plate for a more rustic presentation.

I loved this dish.  The celery root absolutely held its own despite competing with a lot of other flavors here from white truffle oil to roasted beets & garlic to the fried cauliflower to the basil oil.   This dish was served closer to warm-room temperature than what I would call hot – primarily because there are so many ingredients to time properly – but I liked it just warm.  It might also be served hotter if you don’t spend 15 minutes trying to get the perfect photo of it.

Speaking of which – I am often asked what I use to photograph the food.  The answer?  My iphone 5 and a construction lamp.  See?

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That is all I have going on.  I have limited dishware & napkins etc with which to present my recipes and I am beginning to feel my images are starting to look a lot alike but that is just the reality of doing it all DIY on a shoestring budget.  But THIS dish – this will definitely wow folks on any plate.  I hope you try it.

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Truffled Celery Root Mixed Grain Risotto Tower with Roasted Beets, Pan-fried Cauliflower & Basil Jus

INGREDIENTS

For the risotto

1 lb Mixed grains (or risotto or other rice)

1 large celery root – peeled & diced

2 cups milk

1 cup Parmesan – grated

White truffle oil to drizzle – (VERY optional)

For the roasted beet & garlic puree

6 small beets

4 TBS heavy cream

4 cloves garlic

For the pan-fried cauliflower

1 head cauliflower

1-2 TBS olive oil

For the basil jus (basil oil)

1 cup fresh basil

3/4 cup high quality olive oil

DIRECTIONS

For the beet & garlic puree

Halve your beets (or quarter them if the are large) & drizzle them with olive oil.  Toss them with the garlic cloves & roast them & the garlic (add lots of extra garlic so you can have some extra around for future recipes) in a 400 degree oven for 30-45 minutes or until tender.  Check frequently & remove the garlic if it browns quickly & is done before the beets.  When roasted – cool a bit then puree the beets, 4 roasted garlic cloves & the heavy cream in a food processor.  Set aside.

For the basil jus

Plunge the basil in boiling water for 30 seconds.  Plunge it in cold water, drain & squeeze out the water.  Puree the basil with olive oil in a food processor.  Set aside.

For the pan-fried cauliflower

Slice the cauliflower into 3/4 inch steaks.  Heat the olive oil & fry the cauliflower until browned on both sides.

Alternatively – you could roast the cauliflower (tossed in olive oil) in a 400 degree oven for 30 minutes or until it is soft & beginning to brown.  My photo here is of florets roasted in the oven.  The assembled tower images show cauliflower pan-fried as steaks.

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For the risotto

I cooked the bag of mixed grains as per the directions.

Bring the milk to a boil, add the diced celery root to the milk, reduce heat & simmer for about 20 minutes or until the celery root is soft.

Blend the celery root, the milk it cooked in & the cheese in a food processor until smooth.  Add to the cooked grains & blend completely.  Drizzle with truffle oil (if using) – sparingly, as it can really overpower the other flavors.

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TO ASSEMBLE

I used a food ring like this

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and simply put a layer of risotto then beet puree then cauliflower.  I drizzled it with the basil jus & topped it with watercress.  You could build yours backwards in a greased ramekin & flip it or in a bowl & flip it – or just present it in a more casual, rustic, unformed way.

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Celery Root & Fennel Flat Bread

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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I LOVE CELERY ROOT.  It has a creamy, delicate but fresh flavor I cannot get enough of.  I am not such a huge fan of fennel but, when used correctly, it, too, has a refreshing quality.  I combined the two here on a pizza so thin that it doesn’t really qualify as a pizza – but rather – a flat bread.  It is light & has a nuanced flavor that makes it a perfect little appetizer.

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There is no real recipe for this concoction of mine beyond:

Pizza dough

celery root

fennel

olive oil

Parmesan cheese

celery root & fennel tops – chopped for garnish

You simply roll your dough out very thin, top it with a little Parmesan, very thinly shaved celery root & fennel & a tiny bit more Parmesan.  Drizzle with olive oil and S&P to taste & bake at 450 degrees until your crust is browned & the cheese is turning golden.  Garnish with chopped celery leaves & the dilly little sprigs from the fennel.

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Homemade Pumpkin Gnocchi with Three Sauces: Orange Cream, Pumpkin-Sage & Pistachio Pesto

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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I used a 29 oz can of pumpkin for this recipe & it made a BOATLOAD of gnocchi.  Gnocchi is pronounced “Nyawkki,” for those that are unsure.

At any rate – this recipe will produce three cookie sheets of raw gnocchi – like this:

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I would say each of those sheets represents four very healthy servings.  You might want to cut this recipe in half.  Not wanting to turn orange from pumpkin consumption, I opted to freeze the bulk of these.  To do that, I put the entire cookie sheet in the freezer & when the gnocchi were frozen solid, I chipped them off the cookie sheet & put them in individual zip lock bags – each containing a single serving.  To cook frozen gnocchi – put them in boiling water directly from the freezer & boil until they float to the top.  If you let them thaw first, they will become a gooey mess.

Another note, these gnocchi are vegan.  In the past, I have made potato gnocchi & they required eggs.  These do not & I like any opportunity to skip the use of eggs & dairy (though there is lots of dairy in two of the sauces).  However, the resulting gnocchi were more dense than the potato variety – even though I was careful not to over flour them & even rolled & cut the dough while it was still a bit tacky.  I am not sure if that is true because of the lack of eggs or maybe the wet pumpkin just combines differently than baked potato – but – just know these are pretty substantial – maybe even a tad chewy.  I will make potato ones soon, which come out a bit lighter.

As to the sauces I made – I wanted to avoid the traditional fried sage & brown butter sauce, mainly because it is how pumpkin things are always served.  These sauces might have photographed better with a white gnocchi beneath them (especially the green pistachio pesto which wasn’t pretty on the orange gnocchi) – so do not be thrown by the images here.  I must confess, I underachieved in the photography department here partly because I had color combos that were not ideal and, primarily, because I had three different gnocchi to photograph & I wanted to EAT them before they got cold.  I had my friend Mike taste all three sauces with me.  He liked the lemony pistachio pesto & the orange cream best.  I thought the orange cream was a tad sweet, despite the fact that there is no sugar added.  Maybe the California Cutie I used was too sweet for this recipe – and a regular orange would have been better.

I liked the pumpkin cream sauce but, in the future, will add much more fried sage (which I can eat like chips).  I liked the pistachio pesto – but I think it might be better served with a more neutral flavored gnocchi.  All the sauces are VERY easy to make & all would do well over pasta – so – if they sound good to you but an hour of rolling gnocchi does not – just open a box of penne or something & use the sauces on that.

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Homemade Pumpkin Gnocchi

INGREDIENTS

1 29 oz can pumpkin puree

1/2 tsp nutmeg

5 1/2 – 6 cups flour

1/2 tsp each of S&P

DIRECTIONS

On a floured surface or in a bowl – combine the ingredients, adding flour incrementally just until the dough is no longer sticky.  Knead the dough for several minutes until it is soft & pliable.

OR – stick everything in your bread machine & run it on the pasta dough cycle.  This is what I did.

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Divide the dough onto sections about the size of a child’s fist & roll each out into snakes that are about 3/4 inch thick.  Cut the snakes into pieces (under an inch) and either use them as they are or roll them over fork tines to get a texture or use this awesome tool I got on Amazon for a few bucks.

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Let them rest on a lightly floured surface (or refrigerate) until you are ready to cook them.

To cook – simply boil water, add gnocchi & boil until they float to the surface.  Drain & top with your sauce & devour!

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Orange Cream Sauce

INGREDIENTS

1 orange – zest & juice

2 TBS butter

3/4 cup vegan heavy cream

S&P to taste

DIRECTIONS

Zest the orange – set zest aside.  Juice the orange – set juice aside.

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Heat the butter in a sauce pan & add the zest – reserving some for garnish later.  Let this cook on medium heat until it begins to thicken.  Add the cream & cook until it begins to thicken.  When it reaches a consistency you like – add S&P.

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Pumpkin-Sage Sauce

INGREDIENTS

olive oil

2 TBS butter

20 fresh sage leaves

1 small onion – diced

3 cloves garlic – minced

3/4 cup pumpkin puree

3/4 cup vegetable (or other) stock (I use water & veggie bouillon)

1/2 cup vegan heavy cream

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DIRECTIONS

Heat  butter with a little olive oil in a frying pan.  When hot – add the sage leaves & fry for a minute of two – until they begin to brown.  Drain on paper towels.

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Add onion & garlic to the pan & saute until they soften.  Add the pumpkin, stock & cream & simmer until it thickens.  Reserve the fried sage to top the gnocchi as garnish.

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Pistachio Pesto

INGREDIENTS

2 cups fresh basil

2 garlic cloves

3/4 cup shelled, roasted pistachios

1/3 cup vegan Parmesan cheese

1 TBS lemon juice

1/4 olive oil

1 tsp each S&P (or to taste)

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DIRECTIONS

Blend all ingredients in a food processor to create a paste.  Add water if you feel it is too thick.

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To assemble your gnocchi, just top hot gnocchi with either the orange cream garnished with orange zest or the pumpkin-sage sauce & the crumbled, fried sage or with the pistachio pesto with some crushed pistachios as garnish.  Get likkered up & gorge!

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Orecchiette with Kale & Tomatoes & Manchego Cheese

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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This is simply another easy recipe to top the orecchiette I made the other day.  You could make the orecchiette yourself or buy a dried version.  I used a mix of cherry tomatoes & Roma tomatoes because I had them on hand.  Any tomatoes would work.

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Orecchiette with Kale & Tomatoes & Manchego Cheese

INGREDIENTS

1 lb orecchiette

2 TBS olive oil

3 shallots – diced

2 cups kale – chopped

30-40 cherry tomatoes – halved – (or an equivalent amount of other tomatoes)

3 Roma tomatoes – diced – (or an equivalent amount of other tomatoes)

1 tsp salt

Manchego cheese – grated fine (or Parmesan)

Parsley or basil – chopped as garnish

DIRECTIONS

Heat the olive oil in a saute pan & heat the chopped shallots.  Add the diced tomatoes & chopped kale & salt & saute until the kale wilts.  Add water if this mix gets too thick.

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Cook the orecchiette as per directions & drain.  Add to the saute pan & toss to blend the ingredients.  Serve with grated Manchego & parsley or basil.

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Homemade Pumpkin Dog Treats

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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Hey!  Have you heard?  I wrote a really funny & dirty novel!  www.BathingBook.com.   Check out the reviews on Amazon!  Why not buy a copy?

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I try to feed my dogs the best stuff possible whenever I can afford to.  Dog treats, however, are constantly in the news because of recalls – so the only treat I give my dogs are pieces of these hotdogs that I buy for about $1.19 a pack.

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The phrase “chicken treats” gets a very dramatic response from all my kids.  speaking of – here are my kids:

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That is Memphis, Dexter & Moxie.  They make me very happy.  So – I decided to experiment with making them some treat other than the hotdogs.

I wanted to keep them as grain-free as possible but I did end up using a cup or more of whole wheat flour.  The bulk of the flour I used was besan, or chickpea flour, that I buy cheaply at my local Indian market.  I found this on the internet:

Chickpeas, also called garbanzo beans, are legumes, like lentils and peas. Chickpea flour is high in easily digestible protein, which your dog needs a lot of.

Anyway – I blended the dough in my food processor, rolled it out on the counter & cut it up with a bone-shaped cookie cutter.  I added two chicken hotdogs to the dough because I couldn’t predict how my kids would respond to these treats & I didn’t want them to be a complete bust.  As it turned out – they are CRAZY for these.  Next time – I might omit the hotdogs & maybe add peanut butter.

Also – pure pumpkin puree is really good for dogs and a MIRACLE cure for doggy diarrhea.  Just mix some into a food they love & let the healing begin.

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Homemade Pumpkin Dog Treats

INGREDIENTS

1 cup pure pumpkin puree

2 eggs

3 cups chickpea (or rice or wheat) flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

2 chicken hotdogs – pureed (optional)

1 tsp salt

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DIRECTIONS

Combine ingredients to a dough either by hand or in a food processor or bread machine.  Add more flour if the dough is too sticky.

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Roll it out to about 1/2 inch thick & cut it – either with a cookie cutter or with a knife.  Bake at 350 degrees on a cookie sheet greased with cooking spray (or lined with parchment paper) for 15 minutes & then turn them & cook another ten minutes.  Allow to cool & serve them up to happy pups!

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