. . . And yet another way to cook Brussels sprouts. This recipe combines shaved Brussels sprouts with the mild onion flavor of shallots. These two ingredients are sautéed over medium heat using both olive oil and butter. Butter always adds a great flavor to your dish, but it does have its limitations — it is a highly saturated fat and it has a fairly low “smoke point”. By adding olive oil to the mix you are able to cook at a higher temperature and incorporate the healthy mono-unsaturated and poly-unsaturated fat of the oil. The dish is finished with a good squeeze of lemon juice and toasted pine nuts. A great dish and a nice change of pace. Served here with Puff Pastry Tomato Tart.
SHAVED BRUSSELS SPROUT AND SHALLOT SAUTE (Serves 8)
- 1 3/4 pounds brussels sprouts, outer leaves removed
- 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 12 medium shallots, thinly sliced (about 2 cups)
- 6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 4 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted, divided
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- Working in small batches, place Brussels sprouts in feed tube of processor fitted with thin slicing disk; slice.
- Melt butter with olive oil in large pot over medium heat. Add shallots; sauté until almost translucent, about 3 minutes. Add garlic; stir 1 minute.
- Add Brussels sprouts; increase heat to medium-high and sauté until tender, about 8 minutes.
- Stir in 3 tablespoons pine nuts and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to bowl. Sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon pine nuts and serve.
This is probably one of the most beautiful things that I have made in some time. A light, golden-brown puff pastry filled with mozzarella, pesto, blistered tomatoes and fresh herbs. The recipe looks a bit daunting — home-made pesto and a multi-step process. However, once you get the puff pastry in the oven it moves along quite nicely. This dish makes a striking presentation at a brunch or dinner buffet – the bright red and green colors give a festive, holiday look to the table. Wonderful warm or at room temperature.
PUFF PASTRY TOMATO TART (Serves 6)
For the Puff Pastry Tomato Tart:
- 2 sheets frozen pastry puff sheets (thawed but chilled)
- 8 ozs sliced mozzarella
- 1/2 cup pesto (see below or HERE for traditional basil pesto)
- 6 cups cherry tomatoes
- 3 tbsps extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tbsp fresh oregano (finely chopped)
- 1 tbsp fresh chives (finely chopped)
- 2 tbsps flat leaf parsley (finely chopped)
For the Macadamia Nut Pesto:
- 2 garlic cloves (medium)
- 2 cups fresh basil (about 2 basil plants)
- 1/4 cup macadamia nuts
- 3/4 cup parmigiano reggiano cheese (grated)
- salt (to taste)
- 1 pinch red pepper flakes
- 4 tbsps olive oil
- Heat the oven to 375° F. Line a 15″ x 10″ rimmed baking pan with parchment paper.
- Use a rolling pin to adjust the size of the puff pastry. You want the two sheets of puff pastry to cover the bottom & sides of the baking sheet once they are laid side-by-side. Press the dough into the bottom & sides of the pan.
- Using a paring knife, lightly score a border where the bottom of the dough meets the sides. Trim any pastry dough that is hanging over the edge of the pan.
- To prevent the bottom of the tart from puffing up, use a fork to prick the bottom all over. Since you scored a border, the sides should still puff up. Line the bottom and the sides with parchment paper and place dried beans on top.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until edges are golden. Remove the beans and the parchment paper.
- Add slices of mozzarella cheese and top with pesto. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until the cheese is melted. Remove the tart from the oven and set aside.
- Heat oven to a broil and move the rack so that it is right under the element.
- Place the tomatoes in a big bowl and mix with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Place the tomatoes on a rimmed baking sheet and broil 10-15 minutes or until the tomatoes start to blister.
- Remove the tomatoes from the oven and reduce the heat to 425°.
- Finely chop the oregano, chives and parsley.
- Spread the tomatoes out in an even layer on top of the cheese and pesto. Sprinkle the herb mixture on top.
- Bake for about 10-15 minutes. Allow the tart to cool slightly before serving.
My son loves Ruths’ Chris Sweet Potato Casserole — LOVES it!! I have tried for several years to duplicate this dish, and this recipe is just about as close as I think I’m going to get. The sweet potato mixture is fairly easy to make. Put a few sweet potatoes into a large pot of salted water and bring to a boil. Cook them for 20-25 minutes until tender and then mash until smooth. Combine the sweet potatoes with sugar, vanilla, salt, butter and a beaten egg and mix until smooth and creamy. You can complete this process, put it in a casserole and set it aside until you are ready to heat it in the oven later in the day. It is finished with a sugar, butter and pecan mixture that is crumbled over the top. It is the perfect combination of creamy sweet potato filling and crisp, crunchy pecan topping that is sure to become a family favorite.
RUTHS’ CHRIS SWEET POTATO CASSEROLE (Serves 6)
Crust Topping Mixture:
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup flour
- 3/4 cup chopped nuts (pecans preferred)
- 1/4 cup melted butter
Sweet Potato Mixture:
- 1.5 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled (about 4 medium-sized)
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 1 egg, well beaten
- 1/4 cup butter
- Cut the sweet potatoes half and add them to a pot of salted water. Bring the pot to a boil, and cook for 20 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes are cooked through. They should be easily pierced with a fork. Drain.
- Preheat the oven to 350F. Mash the sweet potatoes with the Sweet Potato Mixture ingredients. Combine thoroughly and pour into a baking dish.
- In a separate bowl, combine Crust Topping Mixture, and sprinkle Crust Mixture evenly onto the surface of the sweet potatoes.
- Bake for 30 minutes at 350°.
This variation of standard lasagna is made up of rolled, stuffed noodles standing on end. The recipe calls for the use of lasagna sheets, but our southern town doesn’t really offer too many options for that. Instead, I used regular lasagna noodles and cut them in half and then into two pieces (1″) instead of three (1-1/2″) once filled. A bit messy to create, but soooo delicious. I also used fresh baby spinach instead of frozen. I tore the leaves into pieces and sautéed them in a combination of Tuscan Herb olive oil and a bit of butter and allowed them to cool before combining with the ricotta mixture. This dish received glowing reviews — “the creamy, sweet ricotta combined with the slightly bitter spinach and a great garlic flavor was extraordinarily good.”
BAKED SPINACH AND RICOTTA ROTOLO (Serves 4-6)
- 8 fresh lasagna sheets (15cm/6″ x 11cm/4.5″)
- ½ cup Mozarella cheese, shredded
- Freshly grated parmesan cheese, for serving (optional)
- 8 oz. frozen spinach (pre chopped)
- 1 lb. ricotta cheese
- 1 egg
- ⅓ cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- ¼ fresh nutmeg, grated (or ⅛ tsp nutmeg powder)
- ½ tsp salt
- Black pepper
Tomato Sauce Ingredients
- 24oz passata (pureed tomatoes)
- 1 brown onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- Handful basil leaves (optional)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp sugar
- ½ tsp salt
- Black pepper
- Preheat oven to 350 F.
- For the sauce:
- Heat oil in a 9″ ovenproof pan over medium high heat.
- Add garlic and sauté for 10 seconds then add onion.
- Cook onion until translucent and starting to turn golden, then add the remaining Tomato Sauce ingredients.
- Simmer for 2 minutes to bring the flavors together, then remove from heat.
- Scoop out 1 cup of the Tomato Sauce which will be used to drizzle over the dish at the end.
- For the filling:
- Defrost the spinach in the microwave on high for 2 minutes.
- Squeeze the excess water out of the spinach using your hands, then place in a large bowl.
- Add remaining Filling ingredients and mix well to combine. I find it easiest (fastest) to do this with my hands.
- out the lasagna sheet with the shorter end in front of you. The reason is that you want to roll these up so they are fatter than cannelloni.
- Place ⅓ cup (packed) of filling onto the lasagna sheet. Dab some water on the end furthest away from you (to seal the roll), then roll up starting from the end closest to you. Finish with the seal down.
- Continue with remaining lasagna sheets.
- Cut rolls into 3 (so each piece is 3.5cm/1.5″ wide).
- Place the rolls into the tomato sauce with the filling facing up.
- Drizzle the reserved Tomato Sauce over the rotolo, then bake for 20 minutes.
- Remove from oven and scatter the mozzarella over. Return to oven for 10 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly and golden.
- Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.
For this traditional Tuscan bread salad I made fresh seasoned croutons using a loaf of French bread from Panera. I combined olive oil, garlic powder, salt and a bit of pepper in a bowl and tossed the 1″ cubes until they were coated. They came out of the oven browned, crisp and quite flavorful. These were combined with tomatoes, cucumber, basil and fresh mozzarella balls to make a salad that is as beautiful as it is delicious. The salad is then dressed with a shallot vinaigrette to finish off this Italian masterpiece. As usual, I did make a few substitutions — red onion for the shallot, and red wine vinegar instead of sherry vinegar. I also tossed in half of red bell pepper that I had in the fridge. This salad is perfect to make ahead, to take along to a pot-luck, as a side or as a meal in itself.
PANZANELLA (Serves 6)
- 1 loaf of French bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 2 T. extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 t. garlic powder
- 1/2 t. salt
- pinch of black pepper
- 3 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 English cucumber, cut into bite-size pieces
- 6 oz. fresh mozzarella balls (ciliegine or perlini)
- 1/2 c. basil leaves, torn
- 1/4 c. sherry vinegar
- 3/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 shallot, finely chopped
- 1-1/2 t. stone-ground mustard
- Pinch of sea salt
- Preheat oven to 400 F.
- Toss bread with oil, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Spread pieces in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake 12 minutes until golden brown, turning them halfway through cooking time.
- For the vinaigrette: Whisk all ingredients in a small bowl until fully incorporated. Season with salt as needed.
- Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and dress with vinaigrette just before serving.
Fresh, tender-crisp green beans are tossed with toasted pecan pieces to create this wonderful dish. I can’t decide if it is a side dish or really more of a warm salad. Regardless, it turned out beautifully without too much time spent in the kitchen. The vinaigrette is nicely balanced using oil, vinegar and both Dijon mustard and maple syrup to create layers of flavor. Served with Grilled Ham Steak With Mustard Sauce.
GREEN BEANS WITH PECANS AND MAPLE VINAIGRETTE (Serves 8)
- 3/4 cup pecans
- kosher salt and black pepper
- 2 pounds green beans, trimmed
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
- Heat oven to 400º F. Spread the pecans on a rimmed baking sheet and bake, tossing once, until toasted, 6 to 8 minutes. Let cool, then roughly chop.
- Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil and add 1 tablespoon salt. Add the green beans and cook until just tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Drain and run under cold water to cool.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, mustard, maple syrup, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Add the green beans and pecans and toss to combine.
Let me paint you a picture . . . The entire family – grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins – pile into several cars and drive up to the Blue Ridge Parkway on a beautiful, crisp fall day. You spend the day playing games and visiting in the fresh, mountain air and finish up the afternoon with a nice, long hike. You all gather back in a picnic area to feast on a delicious beef stew heating in a cast iron pot over hot coals. This is one of my fondest family memories. It probably took place about 20 years ago, but I remember every sight, sound, flavor and scent of that day – not in small part because of this wonderful Cider Stew. The cider tenderizes the meat and onions melt completely away to create a fabulously flavorful gravy that permeates throughout.
CIDER STEW (Serves 6-8)
- 3 large onions, sliced
- 3 T. shortening
- 2 lb. Beef Chuck, boneless
- 3 T. flour
- 2 t. salt
- 1/4 t. pepper
- 1/4 t. dried thyme
- 1 cup apple cider
- 1 T. ketchup
- 3 large potatoes, pared
- 4 large carrots, pared
- Brown onions in hot shortening, push aside and brown meat.
- Combine flour, salt, pepper and thyme. Add gradually to the meat and onions.
- Stir in cider and ketchup.
- Cover and cook slowly until meat is almost tender (about 2 hours)
- Cut potatoes and carrots into pieces, add to meat and simmer 30 minutes.