Baby Beet Tarte Tatin (page 48)
I thought I was being very clever when I chose lovely golden beets with their pretty autumn hue for this recipe, best described as an upside down tart, only to realize that they only look that good when they're raw. Cooked, they look like baked apples, don't they? Family wondered why I was making a vinaigrette as a dessert topping!
My beets were small, but not baby, so in pre-cooking them, they did take an extra 15 minutes to roast; covered with the pastry, my baking time was also longer by about 10 minutes before the pastry was puffed and browned. I missed the instructions to cool the tart for 15 minutes before inverting it and did this as soon as I removed it from the oven, but it seemed to work fine.
I had really high expectations for this dish and I wasn't disappointed; the sweet beets nestled on a crisp pastry bed and glazed with a sharp, mustardy dressing was a really spectacular way to serve this vegetable. My family aren't fans of beets so as you can see from the photo, I made a baby tarte tatin just for myself, baked in a brioche mould. I did roast the full amount of beets and enjoyed the rest of them warm with that delicious vinaigrette....excellent even without the pastry.
For the tarte's puff pastry, rather than using store bought, I thought I'd try my hand at Hugh's Rough Puff Pastry (page 52). A simple mix of butter, flour and water, it's all about the rolling and folding of the dough, a step that's repeated several times to create the layers, something I've done before for this quick puff recipe. It's quite easy to do provided your kitchen, work surface and dough remain cool, and the weather was co-operating with me. I did need to refrigerate the dough after the 4th turn since it was becoming a little resistant to rolling; an hour in the fridge relaxed the gluten enough that the final 2 turns were very easy.
You can't really see the layers in the tarte tatin photo, but I baked a scrap, so if you're wondering if Hugh's recipe works....
Warm Salad of Mushrooms and Roasted Squash (page 94)
Caramelizing vegetables, whether it's by oven-roasting or sautéing stove-top, concentrates their flavour and brings out their natural sweetness. This recipe uses both of those techniques to help create a hearty fall salad.
Carrot, Orange, and Cashews (Almonds) (page 107)
Sweet and savoury, and quite refreshing, I didn't think it had enough flavour or made enough impact to be a starter, but it made a very good side.
Cannellini Bean (White Kidney Bean) and Leek Soup with Chile Oil (page 165)
This was a very herby, flavourful soup that came together quickly enough to be well suited for a busy weeknight's meal.
Simple to make, it started with cooking the leeks until they were meltingly soft then upping the flavour a couple of notches with thyme, a bay leaf, oregano and garlic. Canned or cooked beans (I used white kidney beans I'd cooked and frozen) added some heft to the soup and after a short time simmering in some vegetable stock, it was ready for the the final touch, a drizzle of chile oil. Hugh included a recipe for this but I had some store bought that I didn't use often enough to warrant making a new batch. The soup was good without it but I really enjoyed that little bit of heat with every spoonful. It was a great use of the product as are some of the other suggestions in the book....I may be out of it and ready to try Hugh's recipe soon.
Kale and Onion Pizza (page 186)
Roasted kale chips are a favourite snack around here (for some), so I was sure this pizza would be a hit. It required cooking the kale for the topping first with some caramelized onions (I used only one) and garlic. I made a point of under-seasoning the kale a little since I knew the flavours would concentrate during baking but apart from that one moment of clarity, I don't know what I was thinking when I made this: I had twice the required kale and I was using only half the dough to make one large pizza, yet I put all of the kale on the pizza! Sad math skills aside, Hugh's Magic Dough crust (recipe page 172) came through for me and even overloaded, was able to support the amount of topping, baking up with a crisp bottom as usual!
Only the surface layer of kale browned and crisped and acquired that salty, briny flavour you expect; it worked really well with the cheddar cheese, and the sweet onion was a good foil for the salty ingredients. This was even better than I expected and will be a topping I make again but maybe next time, I'll use the right proportion of ingredients!
White Beans with Artichokes (page 240)
This was excellent served warm as suggested but also very good at room temperature, and made a great boxed lunch with the salad greens packed separately and mixed in just before eating.
Broccoli Salad with Asian-Style Dressing (page 316)
Now this is what the Asian coleslaw (page 115) should have been: crisp and fresh and lively in flavour! Interestingly, the dressing of garlic, ginger, rice vinegar, sesame oil (which I reduced by half) and soy sauce was almost identical, but somehow, where it merely flavoured the cabbage a little in the other dish, it made the blanched broccoli come alive. Toasted sesame seeds were a nice, nutty addition. I had a 750g bunch of broccoli, which once trimmed barely served 4 so I suspect the recipe amount would only serve 2-3.
Broccoli is one of the family favourites so it's always fun to discover a new and delicious way to serve it.
Roasted Squash (page 346) and Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Shallots (page 352)
I usually serve squash and brussels sprouts at our Thanksgiving dinner but I'm not attached to any particular recipe so I turned to this cookbook to provide some ideas for this year's side dishes. Since both the roasted squash (from last month) and roasted brussels sprouts could be prepped in advance and required just an occasional stir while cooking, distinct advantages when you have so many other dishes on the go, I added them to the menu.
I peeled and cubed the butternut squash so it would cook in the same amount of time as the brussels sprouts (and make serving easier). Though I had over twice the required amount of both vegetables, I used the recipe amount of oil and substituted olive for canola.
When the turkey came out to rest, I popped them into the oven. They seemed to take about the same time to roast as the recipe stated, about 35 minutes, though to be honest, with so much else going on, I really didn't notice....I was just happy that they were done at the same time as everything else!
Both were big hits! The roasted garlic and sage (my fresh herb of choice) perfectly complemented the squash and the brussels sprouts didn't have that cabbagey flavour and bitterness they sometimes do but instead were quite sweet and delicious.
The recipe for the squash was more of a technique than a recipe but worth revisiting for the serving suggestions, and the brussels sprouts will definitely be made again. (And no, I didn't hold up Thanksgiving dinner to take pictures...this was all that was left from a huge serving platter!)
Roasted Cauliflower with Lemon and Paprika (page 352)
More roasted veggies, this time cauliflower, both regular and golden.
Apart from fried in a pakora, roasted is one of the only ways most of my family will eat this vegetable. Though a departure from my usual cumin, I thought that the smoked paprika and fresh lemon juice in this recipe worked really well with it. Not everyone agreed, particularly in regards to the lemon. In addition to the juice that's tossed with the cauliflower before roasting, I squeezed the juice from the roasted wedges on it before serving. I enjoyed it, but everyone else thought it too astringent. It would have been better to serve those wedges on the side and allow everyone to add the juice to taste.
Pumpkin and Raisin Tea Loaf (page 394)
I don't usually bake from UK books since our flour, a key ingredient upon which the success of the cake, tea loaf, etc often hinges, is not comparable to "plain flour", but this recipe, with no added fat and raw winter squash used as you would carrot or zucchini intrigued me.
This loaf ended up being a little more work than most, with separate bowls needed for wet ingredients, dry ingredients, whipped egg whites......and then there was the grated raw butternut squash. 200g was such a small piece - deceptively so I soon discovered - so I turned to my box grater to grate it manually. That is one, dense vegetable! It took a while to work through that little piece producing a huge mound of shavings!
In place of the self-raising flour, I used 1 3/4 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp table salt and made up the rest of the weight with a cake and pastry flour blend that's a better match than our high protein Canadian all-purpose. I must have done something right because the loaf rose nicely and had that lovely split on the top though it did take an extra fifteen minutes to bake.
This was a sturdy little cake that was quite moist and sliced beautifully with a show of pretty little orange speckles in every piece. The flavour was wonderful, surprisingly fruity given the amount of spices, but they took a back seat to the raisins and the lemon zest. I'd make this again but I'd let the food processor do the work with the squash! I wonder if anyone tried the beet variation.....
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