Monday, December 30, 2013

Farro, Sunchoke & Kale Hash

Farro, Sunchoke & Kale Hash
Serves 8-10
Farro, Sunchoke & Kale Hash
Comfort food is rarely healthy or vegetarian.  This is both! It is a soul-satisfying winter hash that combines the crispy crunch of sunchokes, silky oyster mushrooms, meaty cremini mushrooms, tender flavorful kale and chewy nutty farro.  Perfection! It can be served with grilled steak or on its own as the meatless main course.  I have featured several recipes featuring sunchokes, farro and kale individually. This is another but with all of them in the same dish.  How efficient! See links below for my other suggested recipes.



Semi-pearled farro
Mmmm....leafy kale

Sunchokes, also called Jerusalem artichokes, are a knobby tuber that grows underground, much like a potato. The skin is edible, they do not need to be peeled, simply scrub clean under cold running water, with a stiff brush. They can be eaten raw or cook as you would a potato: roast, boil, sauté, bake or steam. Unlike potatoes they contain little starch. They have a nutty, sweet, crunchy flavor that is simply surprising and wonderful. So don't pass these craggy little roots next time you are in the store.

The food world has really been buzzing lately about farro because of its health properties, its wonderful flavor, and its texture. While the pearled farro is easier and quicker to cook, the many nutrients vanish with the husk, along with a good bit of the flavor. Hence, I much prefer the compromising semi-pearled farro. It is not a wheat, but a plant and grain all its own with low gluten content.  The flavor is complex with nutty taste and undertones of oats and barley.  When cooked it remains its tender, distinct bite, even if it sits awhile after cooking unlike Arborio rice (risotto).
  • ¾ C semi-pearled farro
  • Water or chicken stock for cooking farro
  • 2 ½ lbs large sunchokes, scrubbed, and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 lb Kale, green, tough stems discarded
  • 4 Tb extra virgin olive oil blended with 4 Tb vegetable oil
  • 1 small red onion, sliced ¼-inch thick
  • 1 Tb unsalted butter
  • ¼ lb – ½ lb oyster mushrooms, halved if large
  • ¼ lb cremini mushrooms, wiped clean with damp cloth, halved if large (if only ¼ oyster mushrooms are used)
  • Freshly ground pepper 

Soak farro in water to cover for 25 minutes. Drain, place in a medium saucepan and cover with 2 inches of water or chicken stock. Bring to a boil, cover and cook over low heat until farro is tender, about 25 minutes.  Drain the farro.

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, cover the sunchokes with water and add a large pinch of salt. Boil until the sunchokes are tender, about 10 minutes; drain. Slice the sunchokes ¼-inch thick.
Sliced sunchokes
Fill the large saucepan with water and bring to a boil.  Add the kale and cook until just tender, about 3 minutes. Drain the kale and let cool slightly. Squeeze out any excess liquid from the kale leaves and then coarsely chop them.

In a small skillet, heat 2 Tb of the blended oil. Add the red onion and a pinch of salt and cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 12 minutes. The recipe can be made to this point one day in advance.  Refrigerate components separately.

In a nonstick skillet, melt the butter in 2 Tb blended oil. Add the sunchokes in an even layer and cook over high heat until browned on the bottom, about 3 minutes. Turn the sunchokes, reduce the heat to moderately high and continue cooking until starting to brown, about 2 minutes. Push the sunchokes to the side of the skillet.
Browned sunchokes
Add 3 Tb of the oil and the oyster and cremini mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper and cook over moderately high heat until browned, about 3 minutes. Add the final 1 Tb of oil along with the farro, kale and onion and cook, stirring, until hot. Season with salt and pepper and serve to cheers.
Oyster mushrooms
Mushrooms added to the sunchokes

Bon Appetit!

adapted from Food & Wine, Jan. 2010

Monday, December 23, 2013

Spanish Olive & Cream Cheese Canapés

Spanish Olive & Cream Cheese Canapés
Makes approximately 40 appetizers
Spanish Olive & Cream Cheese Canapés

This is a quick, easy and delicious appetizer, or "canapé", which are cutsie French decorative finger foods. You will not be disappointed and it can be pulled together in about 45 minutes – often with ingredients already in your pantry.
The main ingredients
  • 10 slices firm white sandwich bread
  • 1½ Tb unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 oz Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 6 oz cream cheese, softened (3/4 C)
  • 1/3 C pimiento-stuffed Spanish olives (3 oz), rinsed, drained and freshly chopped
  • ¼ C finely chopped scallion
  • ¼ C finely chopped red bell pepper
  • ¼ tsp sweet paprika
  • 2 tsp medium-dry Sherry

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 375 degree F.

Cut 40 rounds from bread slices with cutter, then brush 1 side of each round with butter and bake on a large baking sheet until pale golden about 8 minutes. Leave toasts on baking sheet. Toasts can be made 1 day ahead and cooled completely, then kept in an airtight container at room temperature.
Cut the break into circles
…and then toast
Preheat broiler. Finely grate Parmigiano-Reggiano using rasp. You will have about 1 C. Mash together cream cheese, olives, scallion, bell pepper, paprika and Sherry until combined well. Then top each toast with 1 tsp cream cheese mixture and sprinkle with Parmigiano-Reggiano. 

Layer on the mixture and then broil
Broil canapés about 4-inches from heat until Parmigiano-Reggiano begins to turn golden, about 1 minute. The cream cheese mixture can be made 1 day ahead and chilled, covered. Bring to room temperature before using.



Monday, December 16, 2013

Apple & Stilton Faux Welsh Rarebit Bites

Apple & Stilton Faux Welsh Rarebit Bites
Makes 24 Bites
Apple & Stilton Faux Welsh Rarebit Bites 
This fun bite-sized twist on the classic British Welsh Rarebit is a simple, easy to make real treat. The classic dish features a thick savory sauce of Cheddar cheese, beer, and spices, spread on toast. In this recipe, piquant Stilton replaces the more traditional cheddar with apple adding a sweet crunch.
What you need….
  • ½ thin baguette, cut into ½-inch slices
  • 3 Tb unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 small tart apple, such as Granny Smith, peeled, halved cored & thinly sliced
  • 8 oz. crumbled Stilton or blue cheese, at room temperature
  • 3 Tb crème fraiche
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp honey
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Brush baguette slices with melted butter; working in batches, grill, flipping once, until golden on both sides, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Layer 2 thin apple slices on each toast; set aside.
Toasted baguette slices
Arrange an oven rack 4-inches from broiler and heat broiler to high. Mix cheese, crème fraiche, Worcestershire sauce, Dijon mustard, honey, salt and pepper in a small bowl. 
Cheese mixture for the baguettes
Spread about 1 Tb of the cheese mixture over each toast. Broil until topping is melted and golden brown, about 4 minutes.
With the apple slices and ready to toast
Serve warm or room temperature and enjoy!