Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Gorgonzola-Apple Quesadilla with Walnuts and Caramelized Shallots

Apple season has arrived and I always look forward to all the unique, locally grown varieties. The focus is on crisp, slightly tart apples; if you have a favorite, use it. Leave the skin on since it lends extra nutrition and color.

As with most quesadilla, this comes together quickly and effortlessly; just the thing for a busy weekday supper. If you are not a Gorgonzola fan or if you have children, a mild white cheddar is a pleasant alternative. Have a bit of creative fun as the possibilities and combinations are limitless.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Cooking School: Caramelized Onions and Shallots

Caramelizing onions or shallots significantly reduces the volume by about half, so plan accordingly.

Sweet yellow onions or shallots
white wine

Remove top and bottom off onion or shallot along with the papery skin. Slice into thin half-rounds. Over medium heat, melt butter in a heavy skillet and add onions or shallots; stir to coat well. Cover and cook for 15 minutes until tender. Reduce heat to low and continue to cook uncovered for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally to allow for even browning. Remove from heat and stir in 1-2 tablespoons of water or white wine to deglaze pan.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Tunisian Pumpkin Soup with Spelt Soda Bread

As the days turn blustery and chill, I could not resist adding this warming recipe to the collection. There is something about a spicy, smooth soup with pumpkin that tends to be especially inspiring during the Fall season. The chipotle pepper lends a bit of smokiness. For those of you who need a more mild version, omit the red pepper flakes. 
A recipe for spelt soda bread follows; the perfect compliment to a steaming bowl of soup. Spelt is a wonderful heirloom grain and is usually well tolerated by those who have a sensitivity to standard wheat.

Tunisian Pumpkin Soup
Yield: Four Servings

2 cups chopped onions
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 cup carrots, peeled and sliced 
1/2 cup sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced 
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
4 cups vegetable stock
1 cup Roma tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, rehydrated and chopped
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons paprika
2 cups pureed pumpkin
1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle pepper
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

In a stock pot over medium heat, sauté onions with olive oil until golden, about 10 minutes. Add garlic, carrots, sweet potatoes, both types of tomatoes, and salt. Sauté for five minutes.

Reduce heat to medium-low and add vegetable stock, cumin, nutmeg, cinnamon, paprika, and pumpkin. Cover and simmer for 25 minutes. 

Remove from heat. Using an emersion blender, purée  until smooth. Add chipotle and red pepper flakes. Bon appétit.

Spelt Soda Bread
Yield: One Loaf

1 tablespoon coconut oil
2 cups whole-grain spelt flour + 2 tablespoons for loaf pan
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder (non-aluminum)
1 teaspoon Himalayan or Celtic sea salt
2 teaspoons caraway seeds
1 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 425ºF. Oil and flour an 8 x 4 inch loaf pan. In a medium mixing bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and caraway seeds. Mix in buttermilk until dough pulls together. Transfer to loaf pan and bake for 45 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool in pan for 15 minutes. Once cool, run butter knife around sides of loaf to remove from pan. Slice into hearty pieces and serve warm.