Onion Tart

November 19th, 2014

Onion Tart 1

I am still enthralled with Mimi Thorisson’s A Kitchen in France, so bear with me for another recipe from this astounding cookbook.  To quote Mimi, ” I always have a big bowl of onions on my kitchen table in various shades and sizes.  To me they are as beautiful as any vase of flowers and as necessary as running water or a working stove”.  This tart transforms the essential onion into an even more beautiful presentation.  Besides that, it is easy.

Onion Tart 2V

I used a store-bought puff pastry for the crust.  The combination of slow cooked onions, balsamic vinegar, honey and bacon make for a flavorful topping.  I would even consider serving this cut into small pieces as an appetizer for Thanksgiving.

Onion Tart 3

Mimi made her tart in a 10-inch round tart pan.  I have this 7.5″ x 11.5″ rectangular pan that I thought made it very festive.  Although I loved this tart there are a few changes I would make next time.  I thought the amount of oil, butter and bacon grease made it a bit too full of fat.  Also if your tart pan has a removable bottom, I would put it on a cookie sheet because the fat leaked out of the bottom.  But the flavor was sublime.  This is the kind of dish that I would choose for a light supper with a salad and a glass of wine or as the aforementioned appetizer.

ONION TART

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling ( I would suggest 1 tablespoon )
2 tablespoons unsalted butter ( I would suggest 1 tablespoon )
3 1/2 ounces bacon, cut into lardons or diced
1 pound onions, thinly sliced ( I used 3 onions )
Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
A few sprigs of fresh thyme
All-purpose flour for rolling the dough
8 ounces puff pastry, homemade or store-bought

Heat the olive oil and butter in a large saute pan over medium-high heat.  Add the bacon and fry until browned, about 3 minutes.  Lower the heat to medium-low, add the onions, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and golden brown, about 15 minutes.

Add the honey, balsamic vinegar, and thyme, increase the heat to high, and boil to reduce for 2 to 3 minutes.  Take off the heat and set aside to cool.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough 1/8-inch thick.  Line a 10-inch tart pan with the pastry and prick the bottom several times with a fork.  Trim the edges.  Scoop the onion mixture into the tart shell.  ( Place on baking sheet ).  Bake until the pastry is crisp and golden, about 20 minutes.  Let cool for 5 minutes before drizzling with olive oil ( If needed ) and serving.

Printable Recipe

 

Medoc Stuffed Cabbage

November 14th, 2014

Chou Farci 1

In the Medoc region of France stuffed cabbage is called Chou Farci.  But stuffed cabbage is called many names by numerous cultures.  The Polish name for stuffed cabbage is Golabki or Galumpkis.  The Czech name is Holubky.  The Serb and Croatian name is Sarma.  How then did my Mother come up with the name Habacha?  I have no idea where that originated.  But I do remember how wonderful her cabbage rolls tasted.

Chou Farci 2V

So naturally when I received Mimi Thorrison’s new cookbook,  A Kitchen in FranceI was excited to try her version of stuffed cabbage.  Instead of individual cabbage rolls, she makes one large stuffed cabbage with layers of meat and cabbage leaves.  She uses the ruffled Savoy cabbage which, when fresh, has a bright green color.  I had a hard time finding a bright green savoy cabbage, but did finally find one at my local supermarket.  Use the prettiest bright green leaf for the bottom layer as this is what will be seen when it is inverted.

Chou Farci 3Once the cabbage leaves totally enclose the filling, it is ready to go into the oven.  “It’s all wrapped together in a pretty parcel” in Mimi’s words.  I have to say that this pretty parcel was a lot easier than wrapping individual cabbage leaves.

Chou Farci 4Once cooked it is ready to be inverted onto a serving plate.  You can see now why you should use a pretty cabbage leaf for your base.  I also reinforced that leaf with two others underneath it to keep the filling intact.

Chou Farci 5The meat and sausage filling studded with vegetables was delicious and the cabbage leaves held up well.   This was another successful recipe from my new favorite cookbook.

CHOU FARCI

1 head Savoy cabbage
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 carrots, finely diced
2/3 pound ground beef
2/3 pound good quality bulk pork sausage
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 to 3 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon Rabelais spice (see Note) or ground allspice
Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup canned whole tomatoes, crushed, with their juices
1 large egg

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Meanwhile, core the cabbage leaves and separate them, discarding any coarse outer ones.  Cook the leaves in the boiling water for 8 minutes.  Drain and set aside to cool.

Grease the bottom and sides of a 7-inch souffle dish or charlotte mold with butter.  Put a large pretty cabbage leaf, domed side down, in the dish.  Top with another leaf and continue arranging the leaves until the entire base and sides are covered.  You won’t use all of the leaves at this point (reserve enough for 4 to 5 layers).

Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat.  Cook the onion and carrots until softened, 4 minutes.  Add the ground beef, sausage, garlic, thyme, bay leaf, spice and salt and pepper to taste and cook, stirring once or twice, until the meat is browned.

Pour in the crushed tomatoes, with their juices, and simmer until nearly all the liquid has been absorbed, about 5 minutes.  Transfer the mixture to a bowl and let cool.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

When the meat mixture has cooled, discard the thyme and bay leaf.  Add the egg and mix well.

Put a layer about 1/2 inch thick of the meat in the cabbage-lined dish and top with a cabbage leaf.  Repeat until you’ve used all of the meat and filled the dish, about 4 layers.  Finish with a final layer of cabbage, making sure to tuck in the leaves on all sides.

Bake for 40 minutes.  To unmold, invert a plate over the souffle dish, flip the plate and dish, and remove the mold.  Serve immediately, cut into slices.

Note:  Rabelais spice is a mix of allspice, nutmeg, and curry – a traditional spice in France since 1820.

Printable Recipe

Mimi’s Lyonnaise Potatoes

November 8th, 2014

Lyonaisse Potatoes 1

It is official.  The cookbook that I have been patiently awaiting arrived in my mailbox last week.  Mimi Thorisson, of the lovely blog Manger, published her exquisite book A Kitchen in France; A Year of Cooking in My Farmhouse.  I am totally thrilled with it.  It is a large book, worthy of coffee table placement.  The pages are thick and of the finest quality.  It is richly photographed by her talented husband Oddur and Mimi’s prose about their lives in the Medoc region of France is spellbinding.  I will stop gushing now, but I believe that anyone would be happy to own this cookbook. Click on my Favorite reads widget on the right to get the information about the book from Amazon.  You have to be on my home page to see the link.

A Kitchen in France 2

The recipes are unique and are arranged seasonally.  Trying to decide which ones to try first was a pleasant dilemma.  Most of the recipes are easy and familiar. But there are a few that are uniquely French and a little challenging, like squab pie with foie gras and armagnac.  I am starting with recipes that are familiar to me and you can’t get any more basic than the humble potato.  Mimi’s recipe for Lyonnaise potatoes is easy and delicious.

Lyonnaise Potatoes 2V

 

By sauteing the partially cooked sliced potatoes in several batches, you are assured that you will get evenly browned potatoes.  The finished dish with the cooked onions goes into an oven for about 10 minutes at the end.  This makes it possible to make the dish ahead of time before the final finish in the oven.

Lyonaisse Potatoes 3The potatoes are buttery and crispy.  Mimi calls Lyonnaise potatoes “the little black dress of side dishes”.  It goes with everything.

MIMI’S LYONNAISE POTATOES

2 pounds new potatoes, peeled
About 11 tablespoons butter
Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 onions, thinly sliced
A bunch of fresh parsley, leaves removed and finely chopped

Put the potatoes in a large pot, add enough salted cold water to cover, bring to a boil, and cook until parboiled, 10 to 15 minutes.  Drain in a colander and rinse under cool running water.  Let cool for a few minutes, then slice the potatoes into 1/8-inch thick slices.

In a large saute pan, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter.  Add about one-quarter of the potatoes and fry, seasoning them with salt and pepper, until golden, about 6 minutes.  Transfer to a plate.  Continue frying the potatoes, adding more butter each time (you should use about 8 tablespoons in total), until all of them are cooked.

Meanwhile, in another saute pan, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat.  Cook the onions until golden, about 5 minutes.

Return all of the potatoes to the pan, add the onions, and mix gently.  Cook for 5 more minutes for the flavors to combine.

Transfer the potatoes and onions to a large baking dish.  Bake until gently sizzling, about 10 minutes.

Sprinkle the parsley over the potatoes and serve.  Serves 4 to 6.

Printable Recipe

Candied Spiced Almonds

November 4th, 2014

Sugar Spiced Nuts 2

You may remember that in this post I suggested that everyone should have an “in house” recipe for flavored nuts.  I have finally found my favorite nut recipe that will be on my appetizer table all through the holidays.  It will also be in cellophane bags as gifts to friends and neighbors for Christmas.  It doesn’t hurt that the recipe came from David Lebovist via Susan Herrmann Loomis of On Rue Tatin fame.

Sugar Spiced Nuts 3V

This is a recipe that requires your complete attention from the very start.  You cannot leave the almonds alone in the pan until they are done.  Susan has a very complete detailed description of how you should caramelize them, so I will not include the recipe here.  I found that it was very easy to follow her directions with pictures of each step.  You can go to her post here.

Sugar Spiced Nuts 1

These nuts keep in a covered container for up to two weeks and freeze well.  I feel secure that I will have them available for both planned and unplanned get togethers.  You need to make these candied spiced nuts this holiday season.  You will not be disappointed.  The recipe calls for piment d’espelette.  I used crushed red pepper flakes.  Would love to hear from you if you make them.  They are addictive.

Maple Glazed Acorn Squash with Sausage, Apple and Sage

October 31st, 2014

Acorn Squash Stuffed 1

If ever you are looking for a dish that epitomizes Fall, this would be the one.  Acorn squash, apples, parsnips, kale, sage, sausage and pecans are all at their peak in Autumn.  I found this recipe on a lovely website called Feasting at Home.  Sylvia is a caterer and her blog reflects the meals that she cooks at home.  The minute I saw this recipe I pinned it to my “Recipes to Try” file on Pinterest.

Acorn Squash stuffed 2V

It was well worth it.  We enjoyed it immensely.  This past week has been a glorious Fall spectacle.  The leaves are at their peak, the skies have been blue and the temperatures have been warm.  We were able to enjoy our stuffed squash on the porch with a lowering sun shining on the lake.  Nature and food at its finest.  I tried to hold on to the moment because winds of change are closing in on us.  Tonight the rains will come, the temperatures will drop and by morning we may have snow.

Acorn Squash stuffed 3

More changes are in store.  We leave for Florida the first of next week.  Closing the cottage for the winter is always a bittersweet affair.  Putting away the beach towels, emptying the freezer of reminders of a summer well spent, bringing in the deck furniture and saying goodbye to our comfy cottage is never easy.  But our Florida house is ready for us, at least for this season.  One of these years I would like to experience winter in the North Carolina mountains. The changing seasons have their appeal.

Acorn Squash 4

Enjoy this taste of Autumn.

MAPLE GLAZED ACORN SQUASH WITH SAUSAGE, APPLE, AND SAGE ( Recipe from Feasting at Home)

Serves 6
3 small acorn squash
2 Cups peeled and diced parsnip ( two medium sized)
1 Cup Italian sausage, browned
1 Cup diced apple ( fuji or gala)
1/2 onion, diced
1 Cup (packed) chopped kale
2 T  packed, chopped sage
2 T Maple syrup
1/2 Cup maple glazed pecans (recipe below) or toasted pecans
3T Olive oil
Splash white wine, or hard cider
kosher salt
Pepper
fresh nutmeg
Preheat oven to 400F
Cut Acorn Squash lengthwise and scoop out seeds with a spoon. Brush insides with a mix of 1 T olive oil and 1 T maple syrup. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper and lay skin side up on a greased baking sheet, and roast in a hot oven for 30-40 minutes,  until you can pierce through skin and flesh with a fork. Remove from the oven and using a metal spatula, turn over, trying to keep caramelized edges in tact, and let cool. Place in a baking dish.
While squash is roasting in the oven, brown Italian sausage, set aside and wipe out pan. In the same pan, saute parsnips and onions in 2 T olive oil, on medium heat, until tender, about 10 minutes. Add apples and sage, and saute 5 more minutes, until apples are  tender. You may need to add a little more olive oil. Generously Salt and Pepper to taste.  Splash with a little white wine and add kale and pecans. When wine has evaporated, add 1 T maple syrup. Add sausage back in and taste for salt.
Fill the squash with the apple parsnip sausage mixture and place in a 350 F until heated through (about 15 minutes)

MAPLE PECANS

In a small bowl lightly coat pecans with maple syrup. Add a pinch of salt and cracked pepper.
Spread out on a greased baking sheet and bake 15-20 mins in a 400 F oven, mixing once after 10 minutes.
Remove, let cool. While cooling use a metal spatula to unstick them from the sheet pan.

© Penny Klett, Lake Lure Cottage Kitchen. All rights reserved.