Monday, March 17, 2014

Endive Ham Rolls aka Endives au jambon

Several years ago I found this recipe on a French language site, Les Fruits et Les Legumes Frais (Fresh Fruits and Vegetables). Actually, the site was then called 10 par jour or 10 per day. Regardless, I've enjoyed making this classic and simple dish from time to time. 

At the deli, I ask for the ham to be cut into slices about 1/8 inch thick. Thinner slices could be used, but you may want two or three per roll. The dish can be prepared ahead, refrigerated, and baked just before serving. As I prepared this dish today, I thought that two or three stalks of asparagus would make an equally good vegetable to roll up into the ham. I've adapted the recipe slightly from the original

Endive Ham Rolls

6 endives, washed, with outer leaves removed and ends cut off
6 slices ham, either from the deli or from a leftover baked ham, about 1/8 inch thick
3 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard (optional)
2 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
freshly ground pepper, to taste
3/4 cup finely grated Swiss or Gruyère cheese

Steam the endives until tender, about 15 minutes. If you don't have a steamer, place them in about 1/2 inch of barely simmering water. Drain and let cool. This could be done ahead and the endives stored in the refrigerator for a day or two.

Cut the endives in half lengthwise. Cut the ham slices in half crosswise. This step will depend greatly on the size and shape of your ham slices. You want the ham to mostly cover the endives and to wrap around them with a bit of overlap.

Wrap the endives in the ham. Set aside.

Melt the butter in a saucepan, then stir in the flour. Let cook until barely golden. Do not let it get overly browned. Stir in the mustard, if using. Whisk in the milk and cook the sauce until thickened and bubbly. Remove from heat and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Pour about half of the sauce into an 11 x 8 inch baking dish. Arrange the ham and endive rolls on top in rows. Pour the remaining sauce over each row. Sprinkle with grated cheese. 

Bake for 20 - 30 minutes or until the sauce is bubbly and the rolls are hot throughout. The ham may brown a little on the edges. 

Enjoy with a green salad and some white wine. ooh la la


Meringue Chocolate Almond Cookies

Faced with a quantity of egg whites in the fridge, I made these meringue based cookies. They are light, but addictive. I think it has to do with the way they melt in your mouth, with the added flavors of almonds and chocolate. Easy to make, and they are gluten and dairy free (depending on the chocolate chips used.) 

Meringue Chocolate Almond Cookies

2 egg whites, at room temperature

1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup chocolate chips or finely chopped chocolate (I used a combination of both)
1 cup sliced almonds, blanched or not

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In large mixing bowl, beat egg whites until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and beat until soft peaks form. Begin adding the sugar, two tablespoons at a time, and beat until the mixture is stiff and glossy. Beat in the vanilla. Fold in the chocolate and almonds with a silicone or wooden spatula. 

Drop teaspoonfuls of the mixture onto parchment lined baking sheets. Allow for some spreading. Bake 20 - 25 minutes. Let the cookies cool on the parchment, then carefully remove. Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days. 

Monday, March 10, 2014

Bavarian Apple Torte

I posted this over on my main blog, but wanted it here, too, for referencing.

Apple desserts - yum! I first tasted this torte at the home of my cousin Caroline and was happy to see it show up in a family cookbook a few years later. Not overly sweet, but just sweet enough. Apples, cream cheese, cinnamon, and almonds on an easy crust. This really is easier than apple pie. 

Layer One:
1/2 cup butter
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter, sugar and vanilla. Blend in flour to make a soft dough. Spread or press on bottom of 9 inch springform pan.

Layer Two:
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Cream together the cream cheese and sugar. Add the egg and vanilla and mix well. Pour onto pastry in pan.

Layer Three:
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
4 cups peeled, sliced apples (I used three Spartan apples and had just the right amount to fit on the pan - I didn't measure them)
1/4 cup sliced almonds (optional)

Combine the sugar and cinnamon, add the apples and toss together. Arrange on cream cheese layer and sprinkle almonds on top. 
Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes, then increase baking temperature to 400 degrees and bake until the apples are tender, about 25 minutes more. If the almonds begin to brown too quickly, cover loosely with aluminum foil.

Cool slightly. Remove from pan, loosening edges with a knife first. Cut into wedges and serve warm or at room temperature.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Bacon and Date Snacks

These little morsels are sweet and salty at the same time. Easy to make, easy to eat. Barely a recipe with just two ingredients.

Dried Pitted Dates
Bacon Slices

Cut bacon slices so that they can be wrapped around the dates. I cut my slices in half, then ended up trimming a little of the fatty end off of the bacon before wrapping the dates. 

Wrap the dates, slightly overlapping the bacon ends, and fasten with a toothpick. 

Place on a parchment paper lined rimmed baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until the bacon is crisp. Use the top third of the oven so the bottoms don't burn. Turn the rolls over about halfway through. Cool slightly before eating so as not to burn your mouth.

If you like, stuff an almond into the date before wrapping it in bacon. I prefer them without the almond - the crunch of the bacon and the melting sweetness of the dates are enough for me.   

Brie, Bacon and Onion on Polenta Squares

One of the things I enjoy most about planning a party or event is deciding what food to make. Our third grandchild's baby shower recently was a morning event, so savoury things appealed to me more than sweets. These polenta squares, based on a photo, were easy to make with much prep done in advance, and they tasted so good. The softly caramelized onions, the melting Brie, the crunchy salty bacon and the cornmeal base all melded together wonderfully. 

The polenta can be made the day before and chilled, covered with plastic wrap. Caramelize the onions ahead of time, too, and keep them in the fridge. I also baked the bacon, cut it into pieces and refrigerated it (stuck waaay back in the fridge so I wouldn't sneak bits.) The topping recipe follows the polenta square recipe.

Brie, Bacon and Onion on Polenta Squares

4 cups of chicken broth, or vegetable broth
2 cups of polenta corn
2 teaspoons of pizza spice or herbes de Provence, optional
1/2 teaspoon salt

olive oil for greasing baking sheet and brushing on top

Bring the broth to a boil over high heat in a large saucepan. Slowly stir in the polenta corn. Add the spice/herbs and salt. Reduce the heat to low and let the mixture simmer until very thick, about 15-20 minutes. Stir frequently to prevent sticking. 

While the mixture is cooking, oil a rimmed baking sheet with olive oil. When the mixture is thick, pour it into the prepared baking sheet. Level out the mixture with a flat metal spatula. I found an off-set spatula very useful. Spread the mixture 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. You want the squares to be able to hold the toppings without being floppy when picked up. 

Let the polenta cool. Brush the top with olive oil, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled.

When ready to serve, cut the polenta into squares, about 1 1/2 inches square. Top each with a spoonful of caramelized onions, a small wedge of Brie cheese, and a few pieces of crisp bacon.

Bake the squares at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes, or until warmed through and the Brie is softened and slightly melting. Serve hot or warm.

2 large yellow onions, peeled, halved and sliced
2 Tablespoons olive oil
coarse salt to taste
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and gently saute them until softened. Add salt to taste and the thyme. Continue stirring and cooking the onions until they are very soft and just beginning to caramelize. Remove from heat and set aside to cool, or make ahead and refrigerate until needed.

Brie cheese (one small wheel), cut into small wedges

Bacon, about 8 slices, baked until crisp at 350 degrees, drained, and cut crosswise into 1/2 inch pieces

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Eggnog Panna Cotta

Many European cultures claim variations on milk desserts. Crème Brulée for the French, Custard for the English, Flan for the Spanish. The Italians have Panna Cotta, which I'd never made or tried until recently. It's been on my mind to try recently, but I wanted to get past the sugar glut of Christmas. 

When I saw the carton of eggnog in the fridge, I had an aha moment. What if I used eggnog for the panna cotta. Well, I wasn't the first to come up with the idea, when I did a search on the internet. So I carried on, adapting this and that until I came up with this dessert. It's refreshing, surprisingly light, and carried just the right post-festive flavour with the eggnog. I'll be making this again with regular milk, or maybe coconut or almond milk. Hmmm. More possibilities.

Eggnog Panna Cotta

1/2 cup cream
1 envelope (2 teaspoons) unflavoured gelatin
2 Tablespoons sugar
2 cups eggnog
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (optional)

Sprinkle the gelatin over the cream in a small saucepan. Heat gently and stir until the gelatin is completed dissolved. Add the sugar and stir until dissolved. Stir in the eggnog, vanilla and freshly grated nutmeg. Strain through a wire mesh strainer to remove any possible lumps.

Pour into individual dishes and chill until set, at least 4 hours. Serve with fresh fruit or a fruit sauce. Here, I've added a dollop of Blueberry Sauce that I canned last summer. 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Cranberry Orange Shortbread

My eldest daughter is the one who found this recipe when she was first married. We all loved it, and I've made the cookies every year since. The original recipe calls for the addition of chopped white chocolate to the dough, but I found I preferred it best without the white chocolate. 

They keep well and taste even better. Buttery, with a hint of citrus, and some chewy tartness in the cranberries. 

Cranberry Orange Shortbread

1/2 pound butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup icing sugar
2 teaspoons grated orange zest
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup dried cranberries, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cornstarch

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. 

Cream butter and icing sugar in a mixing bowl. Beat until light. Add the orange zest, vanilla, and cranberries. 

Add the flour and cornstarch and mix well. 

Chill the dough for about 20 minutes if it is too soft to handle. Roll mixture into small balls and place on parchment lined baking sheets. Press the tops of the cookies with a fork that has been dipped in flour to prevent sticking. 

Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until pale golden around the edges. Cool on a baking rack. Store tightly covered, or frozen. 

Note:  The original recipe called for the dough to be rolled to about 1/4 inch thickness and then cut out, but I found that the edges were often ragged because of the cranberries, so I form them into balls. Rolling is certainly an option.