Like lentils, I have been putting fennel in and on everything.
I am very lucky, being a Produce Manager I have access to the freshest produce available and I take full advantage of it.
I made this tart using freshly made Ricotta and sweet onions. Store bought puff pastry makes the prep quick and easy.
Fennel Onion Tart
1 package of frozen puff pastry
1 cup of fresh ricotta cheese
1/4 cup of sour cream
7 slices of bacon, chopped and fried
3/4 cup of thinly sliced fennel
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup of grated asiago cheese
salt and pepper
Roll out the puff pastry on a floured surface to a 10 x 12 sheet. Place on a greased cookie sheet. Roll out the second square to a 10 x 12 sheet. Brush the first sheet lightly with water. Place the second sheet directly on top of the first sheet.
Mix the ricotta, sour cream, salt and pepper until smooth.
Heat oven to 400 degrees F.
Spread the ricotta sour cream blend on the pastry leaving an inch boarder on all sides.
Layer the fennel, onions and bacon across the tart. Sprinkle with the asiago cheese.
Bake for 20 – 25 minutes or until the pastry is nice and golden brown.
Cut into squares and top with a few fresh fennel fronds.
Looking for an interesting appetizer for the Canadian Lentils contest I wanted to do something very different. The earthiness of mushrooms seemed like a natural paring with lentils, some shallots garlic and thyme with a hit of lemon was the perfect balance It felt like a winner! A quintessential example of umami.
Lentil Mushroom Pate
2 cups of dried mushrooms
3/4 pound of white button mushrooms
4 tablespoons of butter
4 shallots, minced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 teaspoons of fresh thyme, minced
3/4 cup of cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup of green lentil puree
2 tablespoons of whipping cream
1 tablespoon of fresh parsley, minced
1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice
Place the dried mushrooms in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Let soften for 15 minutes, Drain through a coffee filter lined mesh strainer reserving liquid. For this recipe I used dried porcini, oyster, shiitake and yellow bolete mushrooms.
Pulse all the mushrooms in a food processor until finely chopped.
In a large skillet melt the butter over medium heat. Add the shallots and 1/2 teaspoon of salt, cook until shallots are soft. Add the garlic and thyme and cook for a few minutes.
Now add the mushrooms and sauté until they begin to brown. Add 1/2 cup of the reserved mushroom water and cook off until it is evaporated. Take off the heat and add the lentils, cream cheese, whipping cream, parsley and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper. Place in a bowl lined with plastic wrap with enough to cover the surface. Refrigerate a few hours until firm.
Allow to warm to room temperature to serve. Sprinkle with a bit of fresh thyme.
There is something very satisfying tearing into one and enjoying every last aril. And no matter how hard you try there is always that moment when you have red sticky juiced running down your arm.
Wanting to make some jelly without all the work that using fresh pomegranates would be I bought a small case of bottled pomegranate juice and grabbed some fresh hot peppers form work.
Making jelly is very easy. If you have never done any canning before this is a great way to get your feet wet.
It is important to use sterilized, hot jars and lids. The lids and screw bands go into a small pot of water which you big to a simmer to keep warm. Wash and dry your jars and place on a large baking rack and set in the oven at 225 degrees F for 10 minutes. Keep them warm until ready to fill. Or you can fill a canner with water and place your jars in the water and heat to 180 degrees F. A metal canning rack makes easy work of adding all the jars at once.
Pomegranate Peppery Jelly
5 cups of bottled pomegranate juice
1 box of Certo powdered pectin
7 cups of white sugar
peppers – chopped fine (I used semi hot peppers in this preparation)
1/2 teaspoon of butter
When handling hot peppers it is advisable to wear gloves if you have them, Hot pepper juices can burn your skin and eyes. Please use caution when handling all hot peppers. If you do not have gloves be sure to wash well with soap and water and be sure to not touch your eyes afterwards. No matter how well you wash, there will still be hot pepper oils on your skin.
Also as side note: I add a 1/2 teaspoon of butter to all my jellies to prevent bubbly scum from forming from the boiling process. I rarely have to skim my jellies any more. I add this after the first boil. You will need a large canner to process the full jars of jelly.
Have it filled with 3 – 4 inches of warm water and place on a burner to heat while you are making the jelly. Add the peppers to a food processor or blender. Chop until fine. You may need to add a cup of the juice just to help it along.
Pour the juice into a large saucepan. add the package of pectin crystals and stir well to dissolve. Over medium high heat bring to a boil. Add all the sugar and stir well to dissolve. Add the butter. Bring to a boil over medium high heat stirring often.
Once it come to a full rolling boil start timing for one minute. This is stress free if you have used a large enough pot. So pick a nice large one before starting. After one minute at a full boil remove from the heat and place on a hot mat. Using a ladle fill the hot jars with jelly leaving a 1/4 inch head space. I usually fill and lid 3 jars at a time. Clean the rim of the jars off with a nice clean wet cloth. Place a hot lid on the jar, then apply a screw band, only until finger tight.
Once all jars are full place then in the canner. Cover the jars with hot water by an inch. Turn the heat to high and bring the water to a boil. Once boiling cover the canner and time for 10 minutes. Remove the jars from the water and place on a rack or tea towel on the counter. Allow to cool completely.
The lids will make a ping/popping noise when it seals. This is the sounds that warms home canners hearts around the world!
Congratulations! That was easier then you thought! There is just the perfect amount of heat here, a touch of warmth which pairs well with cream cheese.
Of course if you are looking for a strong kick of heat you could use habanero peppers in place of the chilies I used. As a guide, the smaller the pepper the hotter it is. I would also think about melting down a few jars in a small pot and using the jelly on a pork loin or even a batch of wings!.
We recently did an entertaining tasting event at work. Being a produce manager my selection to choose from is quite extensive. There are so many things I could have featured. At a meeting before the event someone had mentioned cranberry sauce. That started the gears in my mind turning. I thought it was a fantastic idea.
So many people automatically reach for the canned cranberry sauce on the shelves they have no idea how easy and flavorful homemade cranberry sauce can be.
The result were show stopping and fabulous! We had people coming back four and 5 times.
By the end of the evening we sampled out over 400 bites and had received rave reviews from everyone.
Because of the volume of samples we presented costs and time available for prep were kept in mind. If I were to make these at an event I hosted in my home I would have chosen phyllo cups as the vehicle for the bites.
This is a three step appetizer so planning ahead is essential.
2 cups fresh cranberries
1 cup of maple syrup or honey
1/2 cup of water 1 cup granulated sugar
Rinse cranberries and place in a large bowl. Heat syrup or honey and water in a small sauce pan just until warm. Pour the syrup over cranberries when warm. You do not want the syrup too hot as you do not want the cranberries to pop. Allow to cool. Cover and let the berries soak in the refrigerator overnight. Drain cranberries in a colander. Place sugar in a large bowl or baking dish. Add cranberries in small batches and roll around until lightly coated in sugar. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet until dry, 1 to 2 hours. When dry the berries have a nice crunchy candy coating.
Cranberry Sauce 1 bag of cranberries – fresh or frozen 1 cup of mango melon juice 1 cup of sugar 1/4 cup of honey
Place all the ingredients in a small pan. Cook on low – medium heat, stirring occasionally.
As they heat up, the cranberries will pop open. You know the sauce is done when 90 % the berries have split open.
Pour into a bowl to cool.
Sugared Cranberry Bites crackers or phyllo cups
soft spreadable cream cheese cranberry sauce sugared cranberries fresh mint for garnish
Spread the crackers with the cream cheese, add a teaspoon of cranberry sauce, and 4 or 5 sugared cranberries. Garnish with fresh mint sprigs.