Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Transitioning Into Fall

It’s definitely fall—I know, because everything I touch shocks me, literally.  That dry air makes me an electric current carrier and every time I walk into our kitchen I am afraid to touch anything because ***zap**** ouch!  But, I do love the season change because it gives me an excuse to turn on the oven and make those warm savory dishes that fill the house and warm the air.  It’s also an excuse to eat all those yummy comfort foods…hello sweater season! 

This weekend, the Urban Chef and I went full Americana for meals.  To start off, I made an apple pie with the apples received from our CSA.  The way I do apple pie is one crust, for me, apple pie is all about the filling—why muck it up with all those carbs?  Also, that way I can feel good about eating half a pie (no, seriously, it’s happened).  I like to tell myself its like getting a fruit serving—what? That’s why my dad told me!

Second, I made a fabulous vegetarian pizza with caramelized onions and kale.  It was so delicious, I was truly was surprised by the complexity of the dish and how satisfying it was.  Even though this dish is vegetarian, it is luxurious; it doesn’t feel like you are missing anything.  The savory of the kale and ricotta cheese paired perfectly with the sweetness of the caramelized onions.  This is great for a vegetarian dinner entrée or a quick appetizer (cut into small pieces.)  It also reheats well. 

And finally, Sunday dinner.  The Urban Chef is still working urban hours from hell, so I am still doing a lot of cooking in order to give him a break. Now, most everything the Urban Chef makes, I love, and truly believe he can make better than anyone else I know, except for one thing, meatloaf.  I know, it’s crazy, but the Soule-family meatloaf recipe is the one to beat.  It has three kinds of meat, over ¼ vegetables (so it’s healthy—work with me) and a refined finish, which doesn’t include any type of ketchup or bbq sauce.  It’s light, not greasy, and full of interesting, yet familiar flavors.  It’s a meatloaf kids will eat, yet make adults happy.  Plus, it makes a lot of food, so you have tons of leftovers (meatloaf sandwich, with sautéed onion, melted swiss cheese, hello!)   I also like to finish it with a mushroom gravy, yum yum yum, with this meal, the leftovers go fast!

Apple Pie
(hey, this counts as a fruit serving right? style) This pie works with any kind of apples but I like to use at least two different kinds

Preparation time:  20 minutes.
Total time 80 minutes.

Number of servings:  8 (or 4 if you are part of the Soule family, or two if it’s Sunday afternoon in the middle of a Damages marathon)
1 pie crust
6 large, 8 medium or 10 small applies, pealed and sliced thinly
½ to 1 cup cider
½ cup sugar
2 ½ T corn starch
1 ½ T lemon juice
1 T cinnamon
1 t nutmeg
¼ t vanilla
¼ t salt

Preheat oven 450 and bake empty, docked pie crust (just poke a fork in the bottom of the crust a few times) for 10 – 15 minutes until lightly browned.

Cook all ingredients on the stove over medium heat until apples soften and sauce thickens, about 20min.  Pore apple mixture into prebaked, cooled pie crust and bake at 350 for ½ hour or until the pie bubbles in the center.

Serve with vanilla ice cream.

Onion Pizza with Ricotta & Kale
This recipe was adapted from the NY Times.  If you like, you can substitute another leafy green in for the kale. 

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 1/4 pounds onions, sliced
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 garlic cloves, minced
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 pound kale, stemmed, leaves washed
1 14-inch pizza crust (1/2 batch pizza dough)--  see earlier posts for pizza dough recipe
3/4 cup ricotta (6 ounces)
2 ounces Parmesan, grated (1/2 cup, tightly packed)
1 egg yolk
2 T crushed red pepper

Preheat over to 475.

Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large, heavy skillet. Add the onions. Cook, stirring often, until tender and just beginning to color, about 10 minutes. Add the thyme, garlic and a generous pinch of salt. Turn the heat to low, cover and cook another 10 to 20 minutes, stirring often, until the onions are golden brown and very sweet and soft. Remove from the heat.

While the onions are cooking, stem and wash the kale leaves, and bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Fill a medium bowl with ice water. When the water comes to a boil, salt generously and add the kale. Blanch for one to two minutes, just until the leaves are tender, and transfer to the ice water. Drain and squeeze out excess water. Alternatively, steam the kale for two to three minutes until wilted, and rinse with cold water. Chop the kale medium-fine.

Roll out the dough, oil a 14-inch pizza pan and dust with cornmeal. Place the dough on the pan.

In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta, egg yolk, Parmesan and kale. Spread over the pizza dough in an even layer, leaving a 1-inch border around the rim. Spread the onions over the ricotta mixture.

Place in the hot oven, and bake 10 to 15 minutes until the crust and bits of the onion are nicely browned. Remove from the heat, and serve hot or warm.

Meatloaf- Soule Family Style
Preparation Time: 25min
Cooking Time: 45min
I only have a precooked picture-- that's how fast it went!

1 large onion
2 stalks celery
1 large carrot (shredded)
1 pepper – sweet, green, red or cubanelle or other mildly hot pepper
3 clove garlic
1 T olive oil
2 t thyme

1 lb lean (90/10) ground beef – chuck is best followed by sirloin and then round
1 lb ground turkey or chicken
1 lb ground pork – as lean as possible, may substitute more beef or veal
2 eggs, beaten
1 slice white bread
3 T whole milk
2 T Worchestshire sauce
1 T tamari (soy sauce)
4 T parsley
1 T hot sauce (Tabasco style)

Pre heat oven to 350.

Chop vegetables finely (make sure you shred carrot) and sauté until soft.  Soak bread in milk, mix with beaten egg, Worchestshire sauce, tamari and hot sauce.  Mix well.  Add meat and sautéed vegetables and mix well but gently with your hands.  Form into loaves using non-stick bread pans.  At this point, you may turn the bread pan out onto a cookie sheet for cooking or freeze in pan until ready to bake.

Bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until done.

Mushroom Gravy

1 cup mushrooms
2 medium shallots diced
4 garlic cloves diced
2 T olive oil
1 ½ cups sherry vinegar (white wine will also work)
2 T butter
Drippings from meatloaf pans

While your meatloaf is resting on a plate, take your olive oil, chopped mushrooms, shallots, and garlic and sauté in a frying pan on medium high heat.  Drop in the drippings from the meatloaf.  Deglaze pan with 1 ½ cups of sherry vinegar.  Let vinegar reduce, stirring often.  When it reaches a thick consistency, add 2 tablespoons of butter.  Turn off heat.  Sir until butter is melted.  Serve.

Stay tuned… next week some recipes for your Thanksgiving feast, Urban Style.  Happy eating to all!

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