Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Turnip Test

My dad and I share an interest in cooking and we love to try new recipes. A few weeks ago, he tasked me with finding a delicious way to prepare turnips and I have been pondering it ever since. Before today, I had never even tasted a turnip. First order of business, I needed to taste a turnip. To me, it was somewhere between a radish and a potato... tuber texture with a sassy attitude. Now that my taste buds were armed and ready, I commenced Operation Turnip. After scouring food blogs and thumbing through cookbooks, I found several recipe ideas that convinced me that turnips and ginger would make for a delicious soup. Using a blender, I combined roasted turnips, fresh ginger, and cannelini beans to create a thick, rich base. I happened to have an abundance of turkey stock right now, so I added a few ladles of that into the turnip mixture. A little heavy cream smoothed out the texture to velvety perfection and I topped the soup with scallion and crumbled bacon. The end result was aromatic, robust and delicious. Mission accomplished.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Custom Confections

There is nothing more thoughtful than handmade gifts for the holidays. Figuring out what to create for everyone on your list can be daunting, so here is an idea I found that is easy and impressive - chocolate truffles. Cross all the chocoholics off your list with these sinful delights. Not only is this recipe simple, it is adaptable. Easily adjust the flavor to suit your recipient's taste. I added 1 teaspoons of vanilla to boost the sweetness in mine, but other tasty additions could be orange extract, brandy, or coconut flavoring. Try crushed nuts or even chocolate sprinkles to dress up the outside of the truffles. Personalizing the treat makes it evident that you spent time thinking about the person, making the gift even more special. After all, it's the thought that counts... right?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Apple Appeal

With Thanksgiving only ten days away, thoughts are shifting to "the dinner". If you are the chef du jour, you are probably planning what you can make ahead of time in order to streamline the chaos of that fateful Thursday morning. If you are lucky enough to escape the duty of preparing the feast, you have at least started dreaming about those tasty holiday favorites. Personally, I have a weakness for dessert. If left unattended, I will overindulge. So... this year I wanted a dessert that would satisfy my sweet tooth but not push me out of my skinny jeans. The option I came up with was homemade applesauce. Testing commenced immediately. A squeeze of lemon juice, a hint of vanilla, and a dash of nutmeg were added to liven up this recipe. As the ingredients slowly simmered together, they created a delightful aroma which permeated the house. Served warm with a dollop of whipped cream, the applesauce was just as scrumptious as a piece of pie. Not only could it stand as a dessert, it was also an exquisite topper for oatmeal the next morning. Applesauce has officially earned it's place at the big kids table.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Waste Not, Want Not

Everyone has a way of dealing with leftovers. Some people make casseroles, some people eat leftovers for lunch. Usually, I shove them to the back of the refrigerator until they are unrecognizable, never to be heard from again. In this day and age, no one can afford to waste good food, so today I decided to break my careless leftover habit. My goal was to create something delectable from yesterday's remnants. The result was single serving pot pies. I started with store bought pie dough. Pressing the dough into a greased muffin tin, I created small cups that would hold the bounty of chicken and vegetables from last night's soup. I plucked fresh sprigs of thyme and sprinkled them into the meaty filling to boost the flavor. Using a tiny cookie cutter, I created small overlapping circles of dough that sealed the top of each pie and locked in the juicy goodness. In a 450 degree oven, they baked approximately 10 minutes. The crust was buttery, flaky and delicious. The filling was warm and hearty. A savory aroma of thyme leaked out as the crust was pierced by my fork. They looked special, tasted lovely, and could be tailored to fit whatever leftovers you have in the fridge. With a little bit of creativity, yesterday's scraps became today's main dish. As the old saying goes, "waste not, want not."

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Ode to a Cheesehead

If you can't beat 'em, join 'em. Since I have no chance of avoiding football each and every Sunday, I have decided to embrace the sport as my culinary inspiration. I have vowed to move beyond pizza and hot wings and bring a little edible adventure to the game. Since the sports media centered around Green Bay this week, I chose cheese as my ingredient du jour. Of course, I could have selected waffles to represent the indecisive nature of Brett Favre, but I wanted to focus on the positive. Hip hip hooray for the Cheeseheads! Sharp cheddar and Parmesan were the star players in this recipe. After shredding about 1 cup of each cheese, I tossed them together in a bowl. Using a nonstick skillet on medium heat, I melted small piles of the cheese mixture until they had a golden brown edge. (Each pile was slightly larger than the size of a silver dollar) Using a spatula, I gently lifted them out of the pan, one by one, and draped them over the top of a bottle. Quickly and delicately, I pushed the edges down to form a bowl. After they had cooled, I filled the cheese cups with tangy chicken barbeque and topped with a sprig of fresh parsley. Crunchy and meaty, these tiny wonders packed a mouthful of flavor into one perfect bite.