Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Onion, Fennel, and Orange Upside-Down Shortcake

On a recent trip to the library, I came across the book Savory Baking. I flipped through it, and after seeing the gorgeous pictures and reading some of the recipes, I checked it out.
Last night I made my first recipe from it - a savory upside-down cake, meant to be eaten as a side dish. Since it was more time-consuming than I usually like for a weekday, I just served it with some scrambled eggs, and I thought it was great!
I can't wait to try more recipes from this book!

Onion, Fennel, and Orange Upside-Down Shortcake
Savory Baking, Mary Cech

Onion Filling
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 medium onions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup dry sherry (I used dry white wine)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon fennel seeds, toasted and crushed
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup water
1 small red bell pepper, roasted, peeled, and roughly chopped

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
zest of 1 medium orange
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 cup whole milk

To prepare the onion filling, put the olive oil, onions, sherry, brown sugar, vinegar, fennel seeds, salt, and pepper in a large saute pan or wide-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat. Cover and cook for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent the onions from sticking. Stir in the water. Add the roasted red peppers to the onions. Cover, reduce the heat to medium, and cook for an additional 15 minutes, stirring often. Remove from the heat.

Cut a piece of aluminum foil to fit the bottom of a 9-inch round cake pan. Place it in the bottom of the cake pan and generously oil or spray the foil and the sides of the pan. Spread the onions evenly in the pan, reserving some to spoon over the finished cake.

To prepare the shortcake, preheat the oven to 350F. Put the flour, baking powder, salt, and orange zest in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a blade attachment. Add the butter and pulse for 10 seconds, or until the butter is pea-size. Add the milk and pulse until the mixture starts to form into a dough. Carefully spread the dough over the onions, leaving no gaps and making sure the edges of the pan are covered with dough. Put the pan in the oven and bake just until the top of the cake feels firm in the center when lightly pressed, about 30 minutes (the top will not look brown). Transfer to a rack and let cool for 5 minutes.

Run a sharp knife around the inside of the pan. Place and hold a large serving plate over the top of the pan and invert the cake onto the plate. Carefully remove the cake pan and foil. Spoon the reserved onions over the cake. Cut into wedges and serve warm.

6-8 servings

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Eggplant Caponata

This is one of my favorite ways to cook eggplant. It's a fabulous sweet-and sour dish that is great served hot as a side dish, but my favorite way to eat it is at room temperature (or a little warm) with some really good crusty bread.

Eggplant Caponata
Everyday Italian, Giada De Laurentiis

1/4 cup olive oil
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 medium eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 medium onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes with juices
3 tablespoons raisins
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
4 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon drained capers
1/2 teaspoons salt, plus more to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
Fresh basil leaves for garnish, optional

In a large, heavy skillet, heat the oil over a medium flame. Add the celery and saute until crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Add the eggplant and saute until beginning to soften, about 2 minutes. Add the onion and saute until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the red pepper and cook until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Add the diced tomatoes with their juices, raisins, and oregano. Simmer over medium-low heat until the flavors blend and the mixture thickens, stirring often, about 20 minutes. Stir in the vinegar, sugar, capers, and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Season with more salt and pepper to taste. Transfer the caponata to a bowl, garnish with the basil leaves, and serve.

6 side-dish servings (will serve more as an appetizer)

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Marinated Spanish Olives

I made these olives today to serve as part of an appetizer course for tomorrow evening. I tasted them after only about 4 1/2 hours of marinating, and they are fantastic! I imagine that they will only get better as they marinate longer.
These are great little nibbles that take minutes to put together and can be made ahead of time. Keep them in mind if you are going to be doing any entertaining this holiday season (or any other time).

Marinated Spanish Olives
Cooking Light, September 2002

You can make and refrigerate this dish up to a week ahead; the flavors improve as the olives marinate. Use a mortar and pestle, meat mallet, or rolling pin to crush the coriander seeds and the rosemary.

24 large unpitted Spanish olives
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar (I used red wine vinegar)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons coriander seeds, crushed
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
Fresh rosemary sprigs, optional

Combine first 8 ingredients in a bowl. Cover and marinate in refrigerator at least 8 hours. Serve at room temperature. Garnish with rosemary sprigs, if desired.

6 servings (serving size:4 olives)

Per serving: 49 Calories, 3.6g fat, 0.2g protein, 3.1g carb, 0.2g fiber, 0mg chol, 0.4 mg iron, 322mg sodium, 13 calc.

Potato Latkes

Most potato latkes are made with either grated potatoes, resulting in a crisp latke, or with a smooth batter, resulting in a latke with a wonderfully creamy interior. This recipe combines the two, giving you the best of both. I started making these a few years ago, and it is by far my favorite latke recipe.
Happy Hanukkah!

Potato Latkes
Kosher by Design, Susie Fishbein

You can make the latkes up to 4 hours in advance. When ready to serve, bake at 375F for 5 minutes. They can also be frozen and reheated at 375F for 8 minutes per side.
Serve with applesauce and/or sour cream.

2 pounds Yukon gold or Russet Potatoes, peeled
1 medium yellow onion, quartered
4 medium scallions
1 large egg
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
Black pepper
3 tablespoons fresh parsley (optional)
1 cup peanut oil (I used canola)

Using the grating disc of a food processor, grate the potatoes. Remove half of the grated potatoes to a large strainer set over a large bowl. Replace the food processor disc with the metal blade. Add the onion and scallions. Pulse until mixture is smooth.

 Add the potato/onion mixture to the grated potatoes in the strainer. Push down to strain out as much liquid as possible. Let the liquid sit in the bowl for 5 minutes. Pour off the liquid, reserving the potato starch at the bottom of the bowl.

Add the potatoes to bowl with potato starch. Mix in the egg, salt, pepper, and parsley, if desired.

In a large skillet, heat the oil until very hot, but not smoking. Add the potato mixture 1 heaping tablespoon at a time. Fry until golden, flip and fry until golden on the other side. Drain on paper bags or paper towels. Do this until all the batter is used.

14-18 latkes