Friday, November 19, 2010

Pomegranate Chocolate Chip Cookies

For my final Pom Party post, I am posting the recipe for Pomegranate Chocolate Chip Cookies. I made these for each guests swag bag, which was also filled with a jar of pomegranate-cranberry relish and the goodies from POM Wonderful. 

I used my basic chocolate chip cookie recipe, but added 1/4 c. flour tossed with the arils and mixed them in after the dough was completely mixed. The cookies need to be stored in a non-airtight container or the moisture in the arils will cause them to soften. They need a bit longer to bake, but still stay fairly chewy. 

Pomegranate Chocolate Chip Cookies
adapted from these, which are adapted from the Levain Bakery

1 c. butter, softened
3/4 c. light brown sugar
3/4 c. granulated sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 large eggs at room temperature
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
3 c. plus 1/4 c. unbleached, all-purpose flour
1 c. semi sweet chocolate chips
1 c. pomegranate arils

Cream butter, add sugars and beat on high speed for 2 minutes, until pale, light and fluffy.
Turn speed to low, add vanilla, eggs, salt, baking powder and baking soda.
Scrape down the sides of the bowl, mix.
Add 3 c. of flour, mix until flour is moistened.
In a small dish, toss pomegranate arils and 1/4 c. flour, set aside.
Add chocolate chips to the mixer, mix until all flour is absorbed. 
Use a spatula and gently fold arils into the dough. 
Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375*
Line baking sheets with parchment, scoop heaping tbsp. fulls of dough on cookie sheet 3" apart.
Bake for 15-18 minutes, until centers are set and cookies are golden brown.
Cool on sheet for a minute then transfer to a wire rack for an hour.
Store uncovered in a non-airtight container (I used un-sealed pastry bags tied with ribbon).
Makes about 24 large cookies.

Two-Toned Ravioli with Pom-Braised Mushroom Filling and Sauce Duo

For the entrée portion of the Pom Party, I decided to make pasta. I recently purchased a ravioli form which makes ravioli making much easier. These can be made by using cutters or a pizza slicer, but the ravioli form seems to seal the edges better, in my opinion.

To make these pom party worthy, I made half of the ravioli dough with pomegranate juice to create a pretty purple hue. I didn't know how sweet it would make the dough, so I went with half pom-infused and half regular egg dough. For the filling, I braised cremini mushrooms, garlic and shallots in pomegranate juice, then mixed it with parmesan and ricotta cheeses.

To make the ravioli really pop with flavor, I made two sauces. The first was a basil pesto, the second was a creamy roasted red pepper parmesan sauce. They were very well balanced and brought a lightness to the cheesy pasta dish. 

Two-Toned Ravioli with Pom-Braised Mushroom Filling
with Pesto and Roasted Red Pepper Cream Sauce Duo

6 cups flour, divided
4 eggs, divided
1 cup POM Wonderful 100% pomegranate Juice
2 tsp. salt, divided
1/2 c. EVOO, divided
1/4 c. water

1 tbsp. EVOO
1 lb. mushrooms, any variety
1 shallot, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. fresh minced rosemary
Kosher salt and black pepper
1/2 c. POM Wonderful 100% pomegranate juice
2 c. ricotta cheese
1/4 c. parmesan cheese

4 c. packed basil leaves
1/4 c. pine nuts
1/4 c. parmesan cheese
2 garlic cloves, smashed
Kosher salt and pepper
1/4 c. water
1/4-1/2 c. EVOO

Red Pepper Parmesan Cream Sauce:
2 roasted red peppers, fresh or jarred
1/2 c. vegetable stock
1 c. half and half
Kosher salt
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/4 c. parmesan cheese

Egg pasta: Beat together 3 eggs and 1/4 c. EVOO, add 3 cups of flour and 1 tsp. salt, whisk together with a fork. Add water 1 tbsp. full at a time to make a dough, knead with hands for 5 minutes, dough should be just a bit sticky. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
POM Pasta: Beat together 1 egg and 1 c. pom juice, add 3 cups of flour and 1 tsp. salt. whisk together with a fork. Add EVOO 1 tbsp. at a time to make a dough, alternately add flour if dough is too wet. Knead with hands for 5 minutes, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes. 

Use a pasta roller and roll dough into thin sheets, dusting with semolina flour as necessary. 

Filling: Add EVOO, mushrooms, shallots and garlic to a saute pan over medium heat. Toss and cook for about five minutes, until mushrooms are soft and onions are caramelized. Season with salt, pepper and rosemary. Add pom juice and reduce until evaporated. Cool mixture then add to a mixing bowl with ricotta and parmesan. Mix well. Refrigerate until you stuff pasta.

Pesto: Add all ingredients except EVOO to a food processor, pulse to get things moving, then run machine while steaming in EVOO to desired consistency. Served or wrap tightly and refrigerate.

Red Pepper Cream Sauce: Add red peppers and stock to a blender, puree until smooth. Add to a small soup pot, pour in half and half, parmesan cheese and cayenne. Bring to a simmer, reduce for 5 minutes, taste and adjust seasonings as necessary. Serve. 

Pomegranate-Red Wine Poached Pear Salad with Creamy Pom-Yogurt Vinaigrette

When I decided to make a five-course meal, it seemed fitting to make a salad following the soup course. In my latest issue of Vegetarian Times, there was a poached pear salad featured in the Thanksgiving menu section. In order to make it pomtastic, I used a combination of red wine and pomegranate juice in the poaching liquid. I'm also a huge fan of pairing pears with nuts and gorgonzola. To finish the salad, I candied some pecans and sprinkled airls on top for crunch. I love creamy, vinegar based salad dressings, so I used a pomegranate reduction combined with yogurt.

This salad may look complicated, but you can peel and core the pears ahead of time and then poach them right before serving the salad so it doesn't interrupt the flow of the meal. The dressing will separate because of the yogurt, but just give it a shake or whisk before serving and it will come back together.

Pomegranate-Red Wine Poached Pear Salad
with Creamy Pom-Yogurt Vinaigrette
Serves 8

4 pears, peeled and cored 
2 cups POM Wonderful 100% Pure Pomegranate Juice
4 cups dry red wine (I used a Cabernet Sauvignon)
8 cups mixed baby greens
1/2 c. pomegranate arils
1/2 c. crumbled gorgonzola 
1/2 c. candied pecans

1 c. POM Wonderful 100% pure pomegranate juice
1/2 c. aged balsamic vinegar
1/2 c. plain greek yogurt
1/4-1/2 c. EVOO
1-2 tbsp. honey
Kosher salt and white pepper

Place pears in a deep soup pot, pour in pom wonderful and red wine.
Place over high heat, bring to a boil and turn heat to low, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
Arrange greens on a serving plate, sprinkle with cheese, arils and nuts.
Remove pears from poaching liquid, place on a cutting board, slice in half.
Make several slices into each half, angled toward the stem, never cutting completely off.
Fan pears out on salad platter, top with vinaigrette.

In a small stock pot, bring pom juice and vinegar to a boil, simmer and reduce to 1/2 c. of liquid remains.
Whisk together cooled vinegar mixture with yogurt, honey, salt and pepper.
Slowly add in 1/4 c. EVOO while whisking.
Taste, adjust seasonings, add more olive oil if necessary.
Serve with salad immediately.

Caramelized Onion and Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

There's nothing more delicious than a bowl of velvety butternut squash soup in the fall. I've seen millions of variations, paring the butternut with both sweet ingredients like apple and cranberry to savory like leeks and potatoes. Obviously I used pomegranate in this, but to balance the sweet roasted squash and sweet-tart pomegranate juice, I used a base of caramelized onions. I cooked the onions for several hours over low heat with butter, olive oil, salt, pepper and thyme. The squash was roasted and pureed with the onions, and vegetable stock, cream and pomegranate juice finished out the dish. 

For a final touch of elegance, I swirled around a dollop of creme fraiche and sprinkled toasted hazelnuts and pomegranate arils on top so my guests would know there was pomegranate in the soup. This soup would be the perfect dipper to pair with your classic day-after-Thanksgiving leftover sandwich! 

*Note: This photo is from my recipe testing for the party. At the party, I also topped each bowl with a puffed pastry crouton, which is optional as well.

Caramelized Onion and Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
Serves 10-12 started portions

2 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. EVOO
2 lbs. yellow onions, peeled and sliced thinly
Salt and black pepper
1/2 tsp. dried thyme or 3 fresh sprigs
1 large butternut squash (about 4-5 lbs.)
1 c. POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice
4 c. vegetable stock
1/2 c. half and half
2 bay leaves
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

creme fraiche
pomegranate arils
toasted hazelnuts

Preheat oven to 400*
Slice squash in half, place cut side down on a lined baking sheet, place in the oven.
Roast for 45 minutes to an hour, until skin has puckered and flesh is tender (pierce with a knife).
Remove from the oven and cool.
Heat a dutch oven over medium heat, add butter, olive oil, onions, a pinch of salt and black pepper.
Stir onions to coat in fat, then turn heat to low, add thyme.
Stir onions every 5-10 minutes for a few hours, until golden and not browned.
Place the onions and 1 c. vegetable stock in a blender, puree and pour back into the pot.
Place half the squash in the blender, puree with another cup of stock, pour into the pot.
Proceed with the rest of the squash, add to the pot.
Add the pomegranate juice, half and half, bay leaves and cayenne pepper to the soup.
Bring to a simmer, stir and taste.
Add additional stock, if necessary, cover and simmer over low for 30 minutes.
Remove bay leaves, ladle into bowls and top with creme fraiche, arils and toasted nuts.

Pomegranate-Cranberry Relish

I absolutely love cranberry sauces, relishes and chutneys featured in fall recipes because I'm a huge fan of sweet and savory combinations. A very popular combination is cranberries with brie and puff pastry. Rather than make brie en croute, which can be messy, I made bite size pastry puffs with brie and relish. 

In order to make this a pomegranate-centered dish, I cooked the cranberries in pomegranate juice and stirred in arils at the end so they would stay crisp and fresh. The end result was a delicious, spicy, tangy relish, perfect for spreading on crackers, as a sandwich condiment, or even stirred into your morning oatmeal (as I've been doing for the past two weeks!)

This dish would be perfect for Thanksgiving, and you can even jar any leftovers and distribute them to guests as I did, or keep them for yourself! 

Pomegranate-Cranberry Relish
Makes about 12 cups

2 lbs. fresh cranberries
2 c. granulated sugar
2 c. POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice
2 c. water
2 cinnamon sticks
1 lemon, zested into large ribbons
1/2 tsp. salt
2 pomegranates, arils removed

Add cranberries, sugar, pomegranate juice, water, cinnamon sticks, lemon zest and salt to a large, non-reactive pot.
Turn heat to high and bring mixture to a boil. 
Stir to keep sugar off the bottom of the pot, turn heat to low and simmer uncovered for an hour.
When mixture has thickened (and it will thicken as it cools), turn heat off and stir in pomegranate arils.
Remove cinnamon sticks and lemon peel ribbon, and spoon into jars or storage containers.
This keeps in the refrigerator for two weeks, and can be frozen. 
If you can it and seal it, it will stay much longer.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Challah Bread Pudding & Pomegranate Gelato with Hazelnut Crunch

Continuing on from the previous post of Cinnamon n' Pomegranate-Craisin Challah, here is the recipe for the bread pudding made using the challah as well as the pomegranate gelato served alongside the individual puddings. For the bread pudding, I went with a simple custard, but decided a little surprise of Nutella in the center would be a great touch. The bread pudding was creamy and decadent, and a sprinkle of pomegranate arils on top added a nice crunch.

The gellato I paired the bread pudding with was absolutely delicious. It is a very basic recipe that I cooked, chilled, and churned in my ice cream maker. To top it, I candied some hazelnuts to echo the flavor of the nutella in the bread pudding. They also added a contrasting texture to the smooth gellato. The pomegranate juice made it a bit tart, but it was sweet quite sweet and tasted like velvet. 

Challah Bread Pudding with Nutella 
and Pomegranate Gelato with Hazelnut Crunch

Bread Pudding:
1/2 loaf of Cinnamon n' Pomegranate Cranberries Challah
8 tbsp. Nutella, divided
1/2 c. granulated sugar
4 eggs
2 c. whole milk
2 c. half and half
1 tsp. Vanilla extract

Cut bread into 1 cm cubes, fill ramekins half full.
Spoon 1 tbsp. nutella into each ramekin, then top with additional bread.
In a large measuring cup, whisk sugar, eggs, milk, half and half and vanilla.
Pour equal amounts into each ramekin, press bread down, and continue to add until all of the bread is saturated.
Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4-12 hours.
Preheat oven to 350*
Place ramekins on a baking sheet, place in the oven and cook for 30 minutes, until set in the center and cooked through. 
Sprinkle with pomegranate arils and serve with pomegranate gelato.

Pomegranate Gelato
from Epicurious, makes One Quart

1 1/2 c. heavy cream
1/2 c. whole milk
3/4 c. sugar
1 1/2 tbsp. cornstarch
1/8 tsp. salt
1 1/4 c. POM Wonderful 100% pomegranate juice
1/3 c. pomegranate liquor (I used amaretto)
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice

Whisk together cream, milk, sugar, cornstarch and salt in a heavy sauce pot.
Bring to a boil and continue to whisk for two minutes over medium-high heat.
Remove from burner, whisk in pomegranate juice, liquor and lemon juice.
Fill a large bowl with ice, set a medium sized bowl inside, pour gelato mixture into medium bowl and whisk to chill quickly. 
Place mixture in the refrigerator for an hour to chill completely.
Add gellato to an ice cream maker, churn for half an hour.
Scoop into a plastic quart container and place in the freezer for at least one hour.
Serve with candied hazelnuts and pomegranate arils.

Cinnamon n' Pomegranate-Cranberry Challah

After posting my menu and party recap, not surprisingly most people seemed to be captivated by the bread pudding. As a dessert first kind of girl, I am happy to oblige with this recipe first! The bread pudding was a several step process because I made the challah bread from scratch. I was unable to find dried pomegranate arils, and didn't know how the fresh, wet ones would react in this bread, so I went with pomegranate flavored Craisins. And I actually found the recipe for this on the Ocean Spray website, the makers of the pomegranate Craisins. 

This makes two large loaves of challah, and I recommend keeping the recipe as is because this bread freezes well, and is great as leftover toast, french toast, or makes a wonderful hostess gift for a holiday dinner. I have photographed the several steps below! 

Cinnamon n' Pomegranate-Cranberry Challah

1 c. warm water
2 envelopes active dry yeast
1/2 c. sugar
4 eggs, 1 divided
1/3 c. vegetable oil
1 1/2 tsp. sald
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
6 c. unbleached all purpose flour
1 6 oz. package Craisins dried Pomegranate flavored Cranberries
1 tsp. water

Stir water, yeast and sugar together in a large mixing bowl, yeast should be foamy.
Attach paddle to mixer, add 3 eggs and 1 egg whtie (reserve yolk), oil, salt and cinnamon.
Beat until well mixed. 
Stop mixer, add 5 1/2 c. flour, pulse mixer until flour is moistened.
Switch out paddle for the dough hook, turn mixer on low and knead for 5 minutes. 
Add additional 1/2 c. flour, if necessary. 
Remove dough and place on a floured surface, knead in Craisins.
Form dough into a ball, place in an oiled bowl, cover and rise for an hour.
Punch dough down and divide in half. 
From each half, form three separate ropes of about equal size.
Form into a braid and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. 
Cover with a towel and allow braids to rise for another hour.
Preheat oven to 400*.
Beat egg yolk and water in a dish, brush on loaves with a pastry brush.
Place in the oven and bake for 12 minutes, rotate and flip, then bake for an additional 12 minutes.
Cool to room temperature and store wrapped in plastic. 

Risen dough ball before being separated in half:

Forming into a braid:

The first braided bread:

Before the second rise:

After the second rise, you might need to re-tuck ends in after second rise:

Monday, November 15, 2010

POM Wonderful Dinner Party

About a month ago, Foodbuzz and POM Wonderful teamed up and asked Featured Publishers to submit their Pomegranate inspired dinner party menus and ideas. I was selected to host a party, and POM Wonderful sent me 4 dozen pomegranates, 6 coupons for bottles of POM Wonderful juice, and canvas bags for my guests. I began brainstorming and constructed a fall inspired, 5-course dinner menu and several different decorative touches using the pomegranates. Our dinners will be judged on three criteria, menu, decorations, and a video instructing the best way to open a pomegranate.

On Saturday evening, I hosted my pomegranate inspired dinner for several of my girlfriends and myself. I spent the day getting ready for the party, beginning with an elegant, wintry dining table. I incorporated many candles in various shades of red and purple and used silver as the accent color. Each place setting had a menu and a pomegranate used for seating assignments.

In the living room where we had our appetizers, I chose simple decorations, charger plates with rose petals and silver cake stands paired with more candles.

The mantle was a bit more dramatic and autumn inspired. Golden brown and green leaf garland dotted with white pillar candles and pomegranates would be perfect for Thanksgiving decor.

In the kitchen, I set up the pomegranate opening station. I used two glass cake pedestals to create a tree and filled it with pomegranates. You could also add sprigs of rosemary for an additional centerpiece idea with Christmas in mind. I set out a red cutting board and knife, a bowl of water, a sieve over another bowl, and the compost bucket. I also included the apron that POM Wonderful sent me and the mat with pomegranate cutting instructions.

In the bathroom, I supplied guests with pomegranate candies as well as pomegranate scented hand soap.

Before my guests arrived, I filled the water glasses and pitcher on the dining room table with ice water, lemon slices and pomegranate arils. I also set out the first course of the evening.

Sweet Potato and Pomegranate Hummus with Vegetables and Pita Chips
Puff Pastry with Brie and Pomegranate-Cranberry Relish

During the appetizers, I also served guests Pomegranate-Cherry Champagne Punch

After we sat and ate our appetizers, we went into the kitchen and I showed my guests how to open a pomegranate, and then let them open a few themselves.

Here is Caron modeling the apron

and opening a pomegranate.

After each guest had a chance to open a pomegranate, we took our seats at the table. I placed carafes of Pomegranate Sangria on the table for us to enjoy with dinner.

Caramelized Onion, Pomegranate and Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
with Creme Fraiche, Toasted Hazelnuts and Pomegranate Arils

The soup had great depth of flavor as a result of the caramelized onion base, the pomegranate juice added a sweet and tangy flavor, and the roasted squash tasted like velvet. The creme fraiche added a nice creaminess, and the nuts and arils offered a contrasting crunch.

Pomegranate and Red Wine Poached Pear Salad 
with Gorgonzola, Candied Pecans and Arils  
& Creamy Pomegranate-Yogurt Vinaigrette

The star of the salad was the poached pears, full of flavor and spice from the poaching pomegranate juice. The Gorgonzola added tang while the candied pecans were sweet and crunchy. The vinaigrette was made with a pomegranate reduction, yogurt, pomegranate infused balsamic vinegar and olive oil.

Two-Tone Ravioli stuffed with Pomegranate Braised Cremini Mushrooms and Ricotta
with a Pesto and Creamy Roasted Red Pepper Sauce Duo

The pasta dough was infused with pure pomegranate juice on one side and plain egg yolk pasta dough on the other. The filling was a creamy ricotta studded with thyme and pomegranate braised mushrooms. The pesto was a classic recipe paired with a creamy, lightly spiced roasted red pepper sauce.

Following dinner, I invited my guests to try their hand at pomegranate related trivia to win a few prizes and let our dinner digest before dessert. POM Wonderful supplied each guest with a canvas tote bag, a bracelet, a chef's series pack of recipe cards and a coupon for a bottle of pomegranate juice.

I provided each guest with a bag of two Pomegranate Chocolate Chip Cookies

and a jar of the Pomegranate-Cranberry Relish that was the topping for our appetizer.

I excused myself while my guests took their seats and changed into my Princess Pomegranate outfit for the trivia portion of the evening. I constructed this costume for the video I recorded on how to open a pomegranate. If you look at POM Wonderful literature, you'll see they often have a bottle of POM Wonderful in a cape because studies have shown pomegranates and 100% pomegranate juice have many health benefits!

Here are the note cards with the questions I asked, all numerical answers. We went around the room "Price is Right" bidding style, and each guest received a heart when they were correct. In the end, the person with the most hearts won!

The Questions:
Q: How many calories are in 100g of pom arils? A: 86
Q: How many years does it take for a tree to produce fruit? A: 9 years
Q: How many acres of pom tree orchards does POM Wonderful own? A: 18,000
Q: Where does 100% POM Wonderful juice score on the Antioxidant Potency Scale? A: 96
Q: How many arils are in the average pomegranate? A: 613
Q: Pomegranates were cultivated in Persia in what year? A: 2000BC
Q: Who brought Pomegranates to California? A: The Spainiards

After playing trivia, our dessert was ready!

Pomegranate-Cranberry Challah Bread Pudding with Nutella Swirl
and Pomegranate Gellato with Hazelnut Crunch

The challah was homemade, and the perfect base for soaking up the creamy milk and egg. A hidden spoonful of nutella in the center added a delicious surprising flavor. The pomegranate gellato was smooth and creamy and the candied hazelnuts added crunch to the creamy dish.

After five delicious Pomegranate inspired courses and bags of pomegranates and products to take home, my guests and I had a fabulous evening!

I hope that you try cooking and baking with pomegranates as they are in season from now until about January. They are beautiful additions to meals and decor, and will be a lovely centerpiece at your holiday gatherings. I will be posting the recipes for all of the dishes in this post throughout the week.

POM Wonderful will be selecting ten winners based on their POM Parties. Though the public cannot vote, if you think I did a good job with my party, please leave a comment on their Facebook wall or tweet a link to my post with the hashtag #pomparty and @veggieash
Thanks for all of your support!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Spicy Moroccan Chickpeas with Cous Cous

Another recipe that caught my eye in the last issue of Cooking Light was this Chickpea dish. I love spicy dishes, and chickpeas are a staple in my pantry, along with cous cous, so this meal was cheap and easy to make on a weeknight. I forgot to buy escarole or another leafy green at the market, so instead I used a bag of frozen chopped spinach. Though I'm sure the escarole is great, I really enjoyed it with the spinach. The apricots added a sweet bite, and the North African spices were in perfect harmony. The recipe calls for 1 tbsp. of Garam Masala, which I thought might be too much, but in the end I thought it could have used a bit more! This dish was a sure winner for us, and will be added to the rotation for quick, wintry weeknight meals.

Spicy Moroccan Chickpeas
adapted from Cooking Light November 2010

1 tbsp. EVOO
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 yellow onion, sliced
1 dozen dried apricots, chopped
1 tbsp. garam masala
Salt and black pepper
Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 c. vegetable stock
Zest of a lemon peeled in thick ribbons
Juice of 1 lemon
2 c. chickpeas
1 15 oz. can petite diced tomatoes
6 c. chopped leafy dark greens or 2 c. defrosted and drained chopped spinach
Cilanto, roughly chopped
Mint leaves, torn
Prepared cous cous

Heat a saute pan over medium heat, add EVOO.
Add garlic and crushed red pepper flakes, stir for a minute, until fragrant, do not burn.
Add onions, apricots, garam masala, salt, pepper and cinnamon stick.
Stir and cook for another minute, until onions are lightly browned.
Add stock, lemon zest ribbons, chickpeas and tomatoes, bring to a simmer, reduce heat and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Stir in greens, wilt if fresh, bring to temperature.
Remove lemon rind and cinnamon stick.
Spoon into a bowl over cous cous, squirt with lemon juice, top with mint and cilantro leaves.

Congrats to Holiday Baking Pack Winner: Rachel, who likes Libby's Pumpkin Roll best. Email me at veggiebyseason at so I can get it off to you! 
Thanks to everyone who entered, I've got another fun giveaway coming soon. 

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Mushroom Stew with Spaetzle

With the cold weather finally reaching Florida, I've been craving bowls of warm stewed vegetables. I found this recipe in November's Cooking Light, and tore it out immediately. I'm always looking for recipes that call for spaztle because it's a childhood favorite. I figure the more I use my spaetzle press, the better I can justify the amount of space it takes up in my cabinets.

This dish was really simple and quick, I only made a few small changes. First, I added a diced carrot to the stew to incorporate more vegetables, as well as 1 c. of tomato puree for a richer sauce without having to make a roux. This tasted very similar to a paprikash dish, just without the peppers. I liked the hint of sweetness the balsamic vinegar added, and the spaetzle were great for soaking up the sauce.

Mushroom Stew with Spaetzle
adapted from Cooking Light November 2010

1 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 c. low-fat milk
2 large eggs
1/3 c. dried porcini mushrooms
1 tbsp. EVOO
1 yellow onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 medium carrot, peeled and diced
Salt and pepper
8 oz. cremini mushrooms, quartered
1 tbsp. paprika
1/4 c. red wine
1 c. mushroom stock
1 c. tomato puree or sauce
2 tsp. balsamic vinegar
Flat leaf parsley

Bring a pot of water to a boil, salt heavily. 
Place porcini mushrooms in a heat safe dish, add 1 c. boiling water and let mushrooms reconstitute for 10 minutes.
Heat a deep skillet over medium heat.
Add EVOO, onions, garlic and carrots.
Season with salt and pepper, saute' for 5 minutes.
Add cremini mushrooms and cook for an additional 5 minutes.
Drain porcini mushrooms through a coffee filter, reserve stock.
Rinse off mushrooms and roughly chop.
Add to stew along with paprika, stock, tomato sauce and balsamic vinegar.
Bring to a simmer, cover and turn to low heat.
In a mixing bowl, whisk together eggs and milk, add flour and whisk until mixture comes together.
Spoon into a spaetzle press or in a colander with wide holes, press into the boiling water.
Cook for 3-4 minutes, until noodles float and are puffed.
Strain into a fine mesh sieve.
Place noodles in a bowl, top with stew and garnish with parsley. 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Tamale Pie with Pumpkin Cornbread

With my husband working late nights, I've been relying heavily on dinners that can sit in the oven and wait on him. As I was browsing through my Moosewood Cookbooks, I saw their tamale pie recipe that I had made once before, but wasn't very impressed with it. I decided to use it as a starting off point, but make some changes I felt it needed. I had recently purchased a bag of Arrowhead Mills Cornbread Mix, which I thought was simply cornmeal. I decided to make the cornbread healthier and seasonal, I'd add some pumpkin to the mix. This meal was warm, comforting, and a much tastier take on the original dish.

Tamale Pie with Pumpkin Cornbread

1 1/2 c. Arrowhead Mills Cornbread Mix
1 egg, beaten
1 c. skim milk
1/2 c. solid pack pumpkin 
1 tbsp. honey or maple syrup
Pinch of cayenne pepper

1 red bell pepper, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
2 ears of corn kernels or 1 c. frozen corn kernels
1 yellow onion, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 15 oz. can petite diced tomatoes with jalapeños
2 c. cooked pinto beans
1 tsp. chili powder
2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
Salt and pepper

Chopped cilantro
Grated Cheddar
Sour Cream

Preheat oven to 350*
Heat a large skillet over medium heat, add 1 tbsp. EVOO, peppers, onion and garlic.
Season with salt and pepper, saute' for 10 minutes, until vegetables have softened.
While veggies cook, in a mixing bowl whisk together egg, milk, pumpkin and honey.
Add cornbread mix, sprinkle of cayenne, and stir until mixture just comes together.
Drain tomatoes and add to vegetables.
Add beans and spices to vegetables, stir well and taste, adjust seasonings.
Pour into a casserole dish, then spread with cornbread topping.
Place in the oven and bake for 30-40 minutes, until cornbread is golden brown and set.
Spoon into a dish and serve with garnishes.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Symon Sundays: Braised Tofu and Pickled Green Tomatoes

When I made the decision to cook my way through Live to Cook, it was with the hopes that I would become more confident in cooking and trying meat and seafood. I had honestly, wholeheartedly planned on making short ribs and pork belly, clams and red snapper... but eventually I just couldn't do it. I'm sure Chef Symon wouldn't appreciate my braised tofu in place of his beefy short ribs, but that's what cooking it all about, taking recipes and changing them to suit your personal tastes. I'm sorry, Chef Symon, but I'm not. 

I'm not sorry because this dish was delicious! I had no idea what I was going to do for this week's selection by Joanne because obviously short ribs were out. I was going to just make the pickled green tomatoes, but then I read her description of the delicious sauce and I knew I couldn't skip it. I have to say that while this book hasn't expanded my meat horizons, it has definitely taught me how to pickle just about anything, and for that I'm grateful! I just wish I had known about this recipe earlier in the summer when my dogs knocked millions of green tomatoes off the vines. I just threw them in the compost pile! 
Lucky for me, the temperatures in Florida are still supporting garden growth, and I have 3 tomato plants growing strong! I picked a few green tomatoes off the vines, and got to work on the pickle recipe. Instead of the short ribs, I used savory baked tofu, which is injected with a bit of flavor, and has a much firmer texture. I served this over parmesan polenta and with roasted root vegetables, two ideas I borrow from Joanne! Polenta is like the quick, easy version of mashed potatoes, great as a base for stew-y like dishes.

Thank you so much to my fellow Symon Sunday girls for keeping up with the group while I've been on a blogging hiatus! Please visit Joanne's blog for the recipes, and check out Natashya and Kim's for their take on this dish!