Vegetarian

Hazelnut Pesto

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Alright, I know that I’ve posted a pesto recipe before.  But this one is different because I used hazelnuts!  Plus I fiddled with the ratios on this one to get a more standardized version.  If you’ve made a pesto before, you understand how easy making this can be.  But you also understand how important it is to use high quality ingredients.  If anything you use is of a lesser quality, you will definitely notice it.

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Now using hazelnuts in this recipe can be slightly problematic, since they do have those pesky husks on them (I am not sure that terminology is right).  It does take some effort to get those things off, but I think it’s worth it.  This recipe makes a big batch.  Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 3/4 c. hazelnuts
  • 5 c. fresh basil leaves, packed tight
  • 5-6 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 c. olive oil
  • juice and zest of 1/2 a lemon
  • 1 c. grated Parmesan
  • salt and pepper, to taste

1.  Roast the hazelnuts in either a preheated 350 degree F oven or in a pan over medium heat.  Roast them until they become fragrant and slightly browned.  Transfer them to a plate and cover with a light towel and allow them to cool.  While they are covered they can steam which helps release them from the husks.  Now rub the nuts with the towel to clean off husks and set aside.

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2.  In a food processor, place hazelnuts and pulse to chop for a few seconds.  Add the basil and pulse again.  Do the same when you add the garlic.

3.  With the food processor running. drizzle in the olive oil to combine.  Add the lemon and pulse for a few seconds.  Transfer to a serving bowl or storage container.  Stir in the Parmesan.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Just a little shot of pesto!
Just a little shot of pesto!

Notes — I made a batch of Garlic Confit and added a little bit of the infused oil into the pesto.  I didn’t put too much because I just wanted a hint of the flavor.  Maybe I used a couple of tablespoons. . .  I like putting lemon in my pestos which most people don’t.  Maybe it makes it too much like a gremolata for folks.  I just like the brightness it adds, plus it helps keep everything green. . . Roasting hazelnuts is made more idiot-proof because of their husks.  The husks help protect the nuts from burning so even if you get a little charring on the husk, the nut may actually be just fine.

Friday Foodie Funnies, ep. 1

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It’s an exciting day here in the Kitchen!  Well, actually I’m in the dining room, but that’s beside the point.  It’s Friday and the start of the weekend (a long Labor Day Weekend mind you)!  And what’s a better way to start the weekend than with a little fun!  Of course, since this is Jereme’s Kitchen, why not focus on food?  Now I’ve done a couple of posts like this before (and I’ll probably show some of those again), but it was sporadic at best.  This time I’ll do my utmost to make this a regular feature.

 

These are just some things that I’ve found perusing the Interwebs or that have been sent to me because folks thought I could appreciate them.  So I thought that I’d share this goodness with my faithful readers.  Maybe you’ll find a bit of yourselves in these posts.  Enjoy!

Some insight on my reasoning. . .
Some insight on my reasoning. . .

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Grilled Beets with Micro Greens and Feta

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Gonna slice me up some beets

Beets.  Now who doesn’t like beets?  Actually, I didn’t for the longest time (skip this if you already know this story :) ).  The taste was odd to me — kinda like an earthier carrot.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that.  But it just seemed weird.  Maybe it’s because I wasn’t exposed to them as a child.  Actually I don’t think Brooklyn had any beets at the time.  Sure, that’s probably not accurate and my memory is somewhat foggy.  After all, I was only like five years old at the time and that was like 100 years ago.

I admit, I did not dress the greens on this one

But I digress… This I served as a side, but it is easy to turn this into a full vegetarian course.  And again, this is hard for me to quantify because I grilled some beets and served it with a handful of greens and topped it with some feta so ingredients are just a guestimation.  This is easy-peasy lemon-squeezy; here’s kinda what you need:

Just another way of arranging the beets.  I did dress these greens.
  • 1 beet, sliced about 1/4″ thick
  • vegetable oil, for brushing the beets
  • 1 c. micro greens or baby greens (I used daikon and chard)
  • 1/4 c. feta, crumbled
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • salad dressing, to taste

1.  Prepare your grill, as needed (again, I use hardwood charcoal).  Brush the beets with the vegetable oil on both sides.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

2.  Grill the beets until tender over direct heat, about 2-3 minutes a side.  Remove from the heat to cool slightly.  Meanwhile, in a small bowl, lightly dress the greens

3.  Arrange the beets on the plate.  Top with the dressed greens.  Sprinkle with the feta crumbles.  Add salt and pepper if you like.

Yay for beets!

Notes — for the dressing, I just drizzled some olive oil and lemon juice on top of the greens to dress them

Grilled Corn with Radish Butter

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Mmmm, tasty!

Corn, a grill, and compound butter.  How can that combination be wrong?  I love grilling corn and I’m on the side of the spectrum that grills the corn without the husks on.  In my opinion, if you grill with the husks on you’re really not grilling the corn but steaming it.  I, for one, like a nice, smoky char.  And I like nice, simple, summer recipes.  You can’t get much simpler than this — corn, butter, radishes.  That’s essentially all you need.  I just add some herbs for some additional flavor (just some basil and parsley, but use whatever you want).

We were grilling those peppers, too. Can’t waste that fire on the grill!
Oooooo — action shot!  Threw that squash on the grill, as well.

I would serve this as a side, but it is easy to get full from this because you can get carried away.  Here’s what you need:

  • 1 stick of butter, softened
  • 1 -2 radishes, chopped
  • chopped herbs, to taste
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 6 – 8 ears of corn, husks removed
  • vegetable oil

1.  Prepare your grill (I use charcoal).  Meanwhile, combine the butter, radishes, herbs, salt, & pepper in a bowl.  Set aside.

2.  Brush the corn with the oil and place on the grill over direct heat.  Grill until nicely browned, about 8 – 10 minutes.  Turn the ears as needed to cook evenly.  Transfer to a serving plate.

3.  After the corn is removed from the grill, brush with the radish butter.  Sprinkle on a little salt & pepper if you like and serve.

Don’t know why I like this shot
That chopper makes things so much easier.

Notes — You can bush the radish butter on the corn while it’s on the grill, but I’d wait until the last couple of minutes because the radishes could burn. . . You can keep the husks on.  Peel them back and tie them to make a handle.  Just keep the husks off the heat — hang them over the edge of the grill. . . Make some extra radish butter — it’s great on a nice toasty baguette!

Aerial shot
Built-in handles!

Kale and Herb Pesto

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I had a whole lot of kale to use I was thinking how could I make this without having to make kale chips. When I made this, it was unseasonably hot here in SE Michigan (and 85 degrees F is very hot for that time of year — I think it was in March) and I didn’t want to turn my oven on unless I really really had to. So I saw the title of a post for a Killer Kale Pesto and wanted to give my take a shot. I didn’t want to go to the grocery so I wanted to use what I had already. Lucky for me I had everything I needed. And I was surprised at some of the similarities between what was in the recipe and what I had in my freezer.

Getting ready to pulse
Got some extra cheese?

Some of you may already know, making things like pesto are very organic and free form for me. I really don’t have specifics here since I go by feel and what the pesto looks like. And with this one, I really like the tarragon in here. It adds a nice subtle twist. And the toasted pecans give a nice butteriness. Here’s what you need:

  • 1/2 c. toasted pepitas
  • 1 c. toasted pecans
  • 1 bunch kale
  • 1/2 bunch parsley
  • 4-5 sprigs tarragon
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 c. olive oil
  • 1/4 c. grated parmesan

1. Place the nuts in the food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Cut the stems from the kale and cut the spine out of the leaves. Coarsely chop and place in the food processor. Do the same for the parsley. Strip the leaves from the tarragon and place in the food processor as well.

2. Add the salt, pepper, garlic, lemon juice, and the olive oil. Process until smooth. Fold in the parmesan. Can last about a week in the refrigerator. You can freeze them in an ice cube tray to have quick portions of pesto that you can just add to warm pastas and such.

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Quick cocktail party appetizers #2 — Cheese and Endive

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This is round #2 of my cocktail party appetizers.  Now I don’t necessarily recommend making all of these at once, especially if it’s just you hosting because there is a lot of assembly involved with everything I made (check out my last post for the full listing).  Even if all the prep work is done, getting things to look right takes time.  But taking these in small steps and you should be alright.  Or you could be better at planning than me even though timing really was a non-issue since everyone was at least an hour late!

Anyhoo, the  quick recipes in this post revolve around goat cheese.  One is a double cheese Napoleon and the other is Endive with Herbed Goat Cheese.  What makes this easy is that the goat cheese filling is the same for both!  So I don’t know if this then actually qualifies for 2 recipes, but I’m going with it.

Endive with goat cheese.

This serving tray seemed like it was designed especially with this dish in mind.

The big step here is making the herbed goat cheese.  Which, again, is also a step for the napoleons, so essentially one step = 2 appetizers.  And it’s not even a big step — you just mix everything in a bowl.  This one I adapted from Martha (again!  but that’s a good thing!).  Here’s what you need:

  • 1 11-oz. pkg. goat cheese
  • 1/2 c. cream
  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • 1 T. chopped herbs (I used oregano and tarragon)
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • 4 heads endive, washed and separated into leaves

1.  In a medium bowl, mix together the cheese, cream, and oil until smooth.  You can use a food processor if you like or even a hand mixer, but I didn’t want to have to wash extra things afterwards.

2.  Gently mix in the herbs, salt, & pepper.  Place a teaspoon on the individual endive spears and serve.

Double Cheese Napoleons.

These definitely look pretty. Tasted pretty good, too!

The two cheeses here are parmesan and goat cheese.  You make tuiles of parmesan and have some herbed goat cheese in between the layers.  I am not really sure how I came up with this one, but i really wanted something with some height.  These look a little rough, but again, I felt pressed for time since I had several things to assemble.  No real specifics here; I just grated some parmesan and kept on making crisps until I ran out.  You can use any extra ones as croutons on salads or in soups.  Or just eat them as is.  Here’s what you need:

  • herbed goat cheese (see above)
  • grated parmesan

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

2.  Drop 1 t. grated parmesan onto Silpat lined baking sheets.  Slightly flatten the cheese and bake for about 5 minutes or until nice and golden.

3.  Allow to cool for about a minute and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

4.  Assemble napoleons starting with a parmesan crisp.  Place a small amount of the goat cheese, about 1/2 teaspoon.  Gently press another crisp on top and repeat until you have three layers of each.  You can put a garnish of herbs on top, but I just served them as they are.  If you want to be extra fancy, you can use a pastry bag with a star tip to place the goat cheese.

Roasted Fennel and Carrots

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So I guess I took a little bit more time off than I thought.  But I needed some time to figure out some business decisions.  Anyhoo, I digress. . . I love fennel.  I really don’t use it as much as I should.  Some folks might not be even all that familiar with the vegetable.  It kinda looks like a cross between an onion and celery with a frilly wig.  Honestly, I think it sorta looks like a muppet (I do have muppets on the brain, after seeing the new Muppet movie and watching A Muppet Christmas Carol all during the holidays.  BTW, I recommend both movies!).

What’s nice about fennel is that you can really can use all parts of it — the bulb, the greens, the flowers, the seeds, even the pollen.  In this recipe, I just use the greens and the bulb.  This recipe is great as a side or a main dish, if you’re feeling vegetarian.  I love how roasting these vegetables really brings out the sweetness and intensifies the flavors.  But that is the case when you roast any vegetable really.  So why not roast some vegetables for dinner?  It’s easy to make, there’s not a lot of clean-up, and you get a wonderful flavorful dish!  Now I don’t really know where I got this recipe; I know I jotted down some notes on some paper but the principles are pretty much the same with any roasted vegetable recipe.

Here’s what you need:

  • 3 – 4 fennel bulbs, with some of the greens reserved.
  • 5 – 6 carrots, sliced on the diagonal
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper, to taste

1.  Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.  Line two half-sheet pans with parchment or some silpat.  Place the two racks in the oven on the top and the bottom racks.  Now preheat the sheet pans in the oven while you prep the veg.

2.  Trim the tops off the fennel so you just have the bulbs.  Cut the bulbs in quarters.  Then, cut the quarters into thirds on the diagonal so that each wedge has some of the base of the vegetable.  Toss the fennel with some olive oil to coat.  Do the same with the carrots.

3.  Spread the fennel on one of the baking sheets; spread the carrots on the other.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Place one sheet on the top rack, the other on the bottom.  Roast for 30 minutes, turn the vegetables and then reverse the sheets.   Roast for another 30 minutes.  Chop the fennel fronds and set aside.

4.  Transfer the vegetables to a serving dish.  Toss with fennel fronds and serve.

Notes — Again, this is one of those recipes where these are estimates.  Essentially, you just want enough of the vegetables to cover the sheet pans without overcrowding them.  If you put too much, they will just steam and not roast, which is fine, if you want steamed vegetables. . . I like to toss the vegetables in a zip top bag.  It helps with the clean up and it also helps limit the amount of olive oil you use because really can coat everything with a much smaller amount by closing the top and tossing the vegetables around.  Plus if you don’t want to be wasteful, you can wash out the bag and keep it for a later use. . . Be careful — fennel can be gritty so be sure to wash them.  They’re not as bad as leeks though. . .

Butternut and Acorn Squash Soup

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If you’re looking for something to serve as a side for the upcoming holidays, give this recipe a try.  It’s rich and creamy without using any cream at all, so it’s a little bit more waistline friendly.  This was taken from the cookbook An American Bounty from The Culinary Institute of America.  What’s nice about this cookbook is that it gives you some nutritional information with each recipe.  And this recipe is healthier than you think — 180 calories, 4 g protein, 10 g fat, 18 g carbohydrates, 285 mg sodium, and 40 mg cholesterol per 6 oz. serving.  It will serve 4 – 6 people.

I did try my best at making some fancy design like those baristas at those fancy coffee houses.  It almost worked, but since the densities of the soup and the cream were so different, designs really didn’t want to stay put.  I eventually settled on swirling everything together, which I liked.  It kinda looks like Jupiter. . . kinda. . . well, not really.  But I digress, here’s what you need:

  • 1 T. unsalted butter
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 celery stalk, trimmed and diced
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 t. ground ginger
  • 3-4 c. chicken broth
  • 2 c. butternut squash, cubed
  • 1 c. acorn squash, cubed
  • 1/2 potato, peeled and sliced
  • 1/2 t. salt, or to taste
  • 1/4 t. freshly ground pepper, or to taste
  • 1 t. julienned orange zest

1.  Heat the butter in a soup pot over medium heat.

2.  Add the onion, carrot, celery, and garlic.  Sauté, stirring frequently, until the onion is tender and translucent, about 5-6 minutes.

3.  Add the ginger and sauté for another minute.

4.  Add the broth, squashes, and potato.  Bring the broth to a full boil over medium heat, then reduce the heat to low.  Simmer until the squashes are tender enough to pierce easily with a fork, about 20 minutes.

5.  Remove the soup from the heat and allow it to cool briefly.  Purée the soup with an immersion blender, food processor, or run it through a food mill.

6.  Return the soup to the pot and bring to a simmer.  Adjust the consistency, if necessary, by adding additional broth or water.  Taste the soup and add salt, pepper, and orange zest.

7.  Serve the soup in a heated tureen or individual bowls.

Notes — If you wanted to make this vegan, just substitute the butter with some olive oil and switch the chicken broth with some vegetable broth. . . add a few drops of lemon or lime juice to brighten the flavor. . . you can add a T. of orange juice concentration with the final flavor adjustment. . . if you wanted to make this in advance, complete up to step 5, cool the soup to room temperature, and refrigerate or freeze.  Before serving, return the soup to a full boil, and make final adjustments. . . can be served chilled. . . whip a little heavy cream to soft peaks, fold in an equal amount of sour cream, and add freshly grated ginger, to taste.  add a dollop to each portion. . .

Stuffed Squash Blossoms

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I do apologize; I don’t have a picture of the final product — everything was eaten so fast!  At least I have a couple of pics of some things that took place beforehand.  Now there was no real intention to make these; I just saw them at the market and thought to myself, “Waterlily, you could do something nice with these!”

This was part of a welcome meal for my parents and my brother when they drove up to visit over Labor Day.  It was just something nice and a little bit special that I could have waiting for them once they got here.  It’s not everyday that you can have some fresh squash blossoms. . . well, at least in my house.  These can be somewhat tricky to work with, mostly because they can be pretty delicate.  But on the other hand, don’t be too afraid to peel back the petals and stuff them with the filling.  They can be pretty resilient.

Alright, it's not the prettiest picture I have ever taken, but it shows how simple the stuffing is.

As for the filling, it again shows some of the versatility of the Garlic Confit and the Pesto that I posted a little bit ago.  This time I combine the two with just a little bit of some cream cheese.  Of course, I did panic and make a double batch of the stuffing.  Trust me, a single one is more than enough; the good thing is that it makes a very nice spread on some bread, or a bagel, or maybe a cucumber sandwich or something along those lines.  You could probably thin out the stuffing with a little yogurt or sour cream and make a nice vegetable dip.  Or how about taking a couple of tablespoons of the filling and adding it to a pasta sauce and making a nice pesto cream sauce.  Just take the filling and some pasta water (that’s the water in which you are currently boiling the pasta, in case you didn’t know) and you have an instant sauce!  Or using it to fill some crab rangoons (which I have been craving since I’ve been sick and bedridden).  See, that’s like 20 ideas right there.  Hopefully my rambling will help everybody see how you can take portions from recipes and use them in different applications.  Here’s what you need:

  • about 12 -15 squash blossoms
  • 1 8-oz. package of cream cheese
  • 3 -4 cloves from the garlic confit
  • 1/2 c. confit pesto
  • 1 c. seasoned flour
  • 1 egg
  • canola oil for frying

1.  Carefully wash and dry the squash blossoms.  I just had them drip dry in a colander that was lined with a few sheets of paper towel.  Set aside.

2.  In a medium-sized bowl, combine the cream cheese, pesto, and confit.  Mix until smooth.  Gently open the blossoms without tearing them and fill each one with about one tablespoon (or a little bit more, if you like) of the cream cheese mixture.  Carefully twist the blossoms closed.

3.  Scramble the egg in a shallow dish.  Now dredge the blossoms in the flour, then coat with the egg, and then dredge in the flour again.

4.  Fill a frying pan about an inch deep with the canola oil.  Over medium or medium-high heat, bring the oil to about 350 degrees F.  In small batches, fry the flowers until golden, turning them once.

5.  Drain them on a cooling rack lined with some paper towel.  Serve while still hot.

Notes — You could secure the blossoms with a toothpick if that is your preference, just remember to remove them before eating!. . . One trick that I learned from Alton Brown is that you can drain these (or anything else that you’re frying) in an unorthodox way.  Normally you would drain them on a plate or rack with some paper towel on it.  You should turn all that upside down!  It should look like this, solid surface (kitchen counter), then your paper towel, and finally an upsidedown cooling rack.  The rack acts as a wick which draws out the excess oil, but also acts as a physical barrier that prevents the food item from sitting in a pool of grease. . .

Garlic Confit Pesto

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Time to revisit that Garlic Confit that I had posted a little bit ago.  I just wanted to show a couple of different ways that you could use it in recipes.  This recipe is for another one of those multi-purpose sauces — pesto!  Quick fact about pesto — it comes from northern Italy (see? quick fact!).  Plus, what some folks don’t realize is that pesto really isn’t a sauce in the way that hollandaise is a sauce.  Actually, it’s more of a paste, at least the way that I do it.

Using the confit makes this sauce sweeter that regular pesto sauces.  When you use raw garlic, you get that sharpness and heat.  So you’ll need to keep that in mind when you use this recipe.  Now I don’t have a lot of exact measurements for this one; you just go for feel and texture and flavor here.  But I do try to standardize it when I can.  This time I did have a lot of fresh basil and parsley from the market, so I used a combination of the two.  But for ease of the recipe, I’ll just list the basil.  So here is about as standard as I can get it.

Here’s what you need:

  • 4 c. packed basil
  • 4 cloves of garlic confit
  • 1/2 c. chopped walnuts
  • 1 – 2 t. lemon zest
  • 1 – 2 T. lemon juice
  • 1 c. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 – 2 T. honey
  • 1/4 t. red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 3/4 c. Parmesan cheese, grated

1.  Coarsely chop the basil and place it in a food processor, along with the garlic, walnuts, zest, and lemon juice.  Cover and pulse for several seconds to combine.

2.  Add the honey and red pepper and process.  Slowly incorporate the olive oil and process the sauce until smooth, being careful not to over-process (the longer you do it, the more heat is added to the mixture).

3.  Season with salt and pepper.  Stir in the cheese.  Store in an air tight container in the fridge.  Should last for a couple of weeks.  You can freeze it, and it should last for a few months.  You could freeze it in some ice cube trays to make it easier to just add a cube or two to some mashed potatoes, or pasta, or soup, or whatever you want!