Tuesday, April 14, 2015

SPRING HIATUS!! Duck with Apple & Mushroom Risotto

Hi all! As you gathered from the title, we are going on a brief hiatus. The reason? First, our house is being re-piped, which has essentially demolished my kitchen. Second, I am busy helping our daughter and future son-in-law plan their wedding (Hurray!!!!). Don't worry....we will be back soon. :-) 
For comments, please post below or email to cookingwithlarue@gmail.com

Duck with Apple & Mushroom Risotto 
Serves 6-8 
Difficulty: Gourmet
Duck with Apple & Mushroom Risotto 
This is an elegant risotto featuring sweet apples, salty bacon, wild mushrooms, duck and creamy Arborio rice.  It is truly a meal in one dish – elegant for guests or for that special night for two. The food blogosphere has been full of spring risotto recipes for weeks now: risotto with ramps, risotto with peas, and risotto with asparagus. And they all sound delicious. However, it appears that spring has not sprung everywhere and much of the country is still under the last vestiges of winter. While spring peas and asparagus may not have shown at your neighborhood market, produce boxes have steadily included apples. Apples that retain a touch of firmness are best here, such as Baldwin, Greening apples, Granny Smith, Pippin and Northern spy. If it is a thick-skinned variety, you might peel it.  You can do this recipe without the mushrooms, the duck or the bacon, and its still very good. However, I love the layered flavorful mix. I think you will too!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Charred Cauliflower Quesadilla with Cumin-Lime Crema

For comments, please post below or email to cookingwithlarue@gmail.com

Charred Cauliflower Quesadilla with Cumin-Lime Crema
Serves: 6
Difficulty: Easy
Charred Cauliflower Quesadilla with Cumin-Lime Crema 
There are many reasons to share this recipe – yes, its fabulous to eat – appetizer, lunch, even dinner with a great side dish or salad. But, it also gives me a chance to rave once again about this great kitchen tool = The Santa Fe Cooking School Grill! Whether your stove is gas or electric, this no-smoke dry roasting is perfect for chilies, sweet peppers, tomatoes, garlic, onions, and other vegetables. It is made of cast iron with stainless steel mesh and wooden handles. Love it!
 
Charred Cauliflower Quesadilla with Cumin-Lime Crema
This veggie recipe is one that even dedicated carnivores can enjoy. The combination of kick from the peppers and plenty of cheese hide the healthy bites! 

Monday, March 30, 2015

Duck Salad with Port-Currant Sauce

For comments, please post below or email to cookingwithlarue@gmail.com

Duck Salad with Port-Currant Sauce
Serves 2 (entrée) – 4 (appetizer)
Difficulty: Moderate
Duck Salad with Port-Currant Sauce 
For unclear reasons, I shied away from cooking duck for many years. Maybe I thought it was difficult to do? It certainly is not – or, at least not duck breasts. This one looks complicated, but it is a can be done for a mid-week or special guest dinner. In addition, duck is an excellent, lean source of protein as well as iron, selenium and niacin. For some reason, duck has gotten a bad “rap” through the years because of the skin. Yet, it is comparable in fat and calories to a skinless chicken or turkey breast.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Cranberry Bean & Mussel Stew with Zucchini


For comments, please post below or email to cookingwithlarue@gmail.com
Cranberry Bean & Mussel Stew with Zucchini
Serves: 4
Difficulty: Moderate
Cranberry Bean & Mussel Stew with Zucchini
This is a hearty and warming winter stew. For such an elegant, comforting meal, this stew is incredibly simple to prepare; it takes less than 30 minutes once the beans are prepared.  Any cranberry bean will do – I chose dried beans from Rancho Gordo. These heirloom beans are a beautiful dense, velvety bean with gorgeous pot liquor.  Originally from Colombia, the beans have been bred around the world. Similar to Borlotti, cranberry beans are very thin-skinned with a velvety texture making them ideal for soups and stews. If short for time, you could substitute canned white beans that have been rinsed and drained.

Cranberry beans

Mussels are one of the most eco-friendly proteins. Most of the mussels we eat these days are cultivated on ropes suspended from floating rafts in clean waters. They plump up naturally on plankton, converting it into nutritious meaty flesh. Farmed mussels are environmentally benign, and some research suggests their cultivation my have an overall beneficial effect on the marine ecosystem.

This dish falls squarely within that category of recipes that are so simple, every ingredient really matters. The mussels, of course, need to be as fresh as can be. The cooking time is so short, you definitely want to have everything prepped and ready before you start. I let the mussels sit in a big bowl of water with a little flour while I prepared all the ingredients.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Pear, Leek & Gruyere Turnovers

For comments, please post below or email to cookingwithlarue@gmail.com
Pear, Leek & Gruyere Turnovers
Makes 8 Turnovers
Difficulty: Moderate
Pear, Leek & Gruyere Turnovers
This appetizer is sure to wow your family and guests. It can also be served as a light lunch with a salad of greens tossed in simple vinaigrette. In either case – it is fabulous and can be made earlier in the day if you like. It can also be frozen after it is baked and reheated for later use. How versatile!
Pears for the turnovers
Leek ready for cleaning and trimming
  • 2 Tb butter
  • 1½ C thoroughly cleaned chopped leeks
  • Two 6 oz. peeled cored and chopped ripe pears of your choice
  • 1½ tsp sugar
  • Salt & pepper
  • ¾ C packed grated Gruyere cheese (about 4 oz.)
  • 1½ Tb chopped fresh chives
  • 2 frozen puff pastry sheets
  • Flour
  • 1 egg
Leeks are a wonderfully delicious vegetable but they’re grown in sandy soil, so they need a good and thorough cleaning before use. Trim the root end and remove the dark tops, which are bitter.  Then make one long slice vertically, hold them together together, and chop horizontally in ¼- ½ inch sections. Put all into a large bowl, fill with cold water and agitate the chopped leeks with your hands, checking layers for any hidden dirt. The leeks will float and the dirt falls to the bottom. Lift cleaned leeks out of water to drain on paper towels. Chop drained cleaned leeks.
The cut leeks

Wash the chopped leek, the dirt will fall to the bottom
Melt 2 Tb butter in a heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add 1½ C cleaned leeks to skillet, stir 1 minute. Reduce heat to low; cover and cook until leeks begin to lightly brown, stirring occasionally, about 7 minutes. Stir in chopped pears and sugar. Increase heat to medium; sauté uncovered until any liquid evaporates, about 2-3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to a bowl; cool. Stir in Gruyere cheese and chives.

Sauté the leek and pears together

....and then add the cheese separately
Thaw 2 puff pastry sheets following package recommendations. Place one sheet on a work surface – sprinkle lightly with flour so it does not stick and roll gently just to take out the fold lines. Using a 4 – 4½ inch diameter ring, bowl or tartlet pan rim, cut out 4 rounds from each pastry sheet. 
Rolled pastry
Then roll out each cut pastry round to a 5” circle. Place about 3 Tb of leek mixture on half of each pastry round, dividing equally. Brush pastry edges as a glaze with 1 beaten egg.  Fold pastry over filling, pressing to adhere. Press edges with fork to seal. Brush turnovers with egg glaze. Pierce pastry in several places with toothpick. Place on baking sheet. Chill 20 minutes in the refrigerator.
Add the stuffing....
Close and then add the glaze
Preheat oven to 400 degree F. Bake turnovers until puffed and golden, about 18 minutes. Serve warm. They can be baked ahead of time and reheated briefly before serving. If you choose to freeze them, bake first, cool and put into a freezer-safe container. It will keep frozen for several weeks. Reheat from the frozen state before serving.
The final product!
I absolutely love these with champagne…of course, EVERYTHING is better with champagne!

Bon Appetit!

Larue