Baked Cauliflower Pie (sformato di cavolfiore)

​With the holidays​ just​ around the corner, you might be looking for a new and unusual crowd-pleasing side dish to wow your guests. This is one of my favorite vegetable dishes, introduced to me by Tessa Kiros in her wonderful cookbook: Twelve: A Tuscan Cook Book. She introduces the readers to the twelve months of Tuscan cooking and seasonal ingredients. When I’ve served at our mission house in Tuscany, I would cook through this book and this recipe became one of our house favorites. As Tessa says, “pastry-less baked vegetable pies are very common and are made with various vegetables depending on the season, such as green beans, artichokes and spinach.” You can also use broccoli in place of cauliflower.

We just served this last night for the opening to our Gregorian Chant Retreat and received great compliments. This would make a lovely addition to your Thanksgiving table. If you want to make it gluten free, just substitute gluten free flour for all purpose flour in the the béchamel sauce.

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Baked Cauliflower Pie (sformato di cavolfiore)
SERVINGS
6servings
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
servings
COOK TIME
30-40mins
PREP TIME
20mins
READY IN
55mins

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 3​50 degrees/ Wash the cauliflower and trim away the hard stem. Put it into a pot of boiling salted water and boil for about 10 min. or until it has softened.
  2. Meanwhile, make the béchamel​ ​​sauce:
    1) Melt butter in a small, heavy saucepan over medium heat until foaming. Add shallots (if using) and sauté 2 minutes. Do not let brown.

    2) Reduce heat to low, add flour, and whisk until smooth and raw taste is cooked off, about 1 minute. Gradually whisk in milk. Add bay leaf and cook until just thickened, stirring often, about 10 minutes.

    3) Stir in nutmeg and salt. Season with ground white pepper. Cool sauce slightly. Discard bay leaf before using.
  3. Drain the cauliflower and​ chop it up finely or roughly puree it. Put into a bowl and mix in the eggs, 2 cups béchamel​,​ parmesan cheese, a grating of fresh nutmeg, and salt and pepper to taste, adjusting if necessary. Mix well with wooden spoon.
  4. Butter an oven dish or loaf pan and sprinkle with half of the breadcrumbs to line the pan, shaking away the excess (use gluten free breadcrumbs if making gluten free). Pour in the mixture and sprinkle the surface with the remaining breadcrumbs.
  5. Bake for 30-40 min. in the hot oven, until the top is golden and slightly crusty. Serve warm.

Thai Chicken, Spinach and Rice Noodle Soup

This week’s recipe was inspired by an Asian guest that we were hosting for lunch at our guest house. As a novice learning to cook, I was always taught by the Sisters to really think about the person that I was cooking for: What would they like to eat? What would bless them? Subtle subtext here: it’s not about what I like to cook, or what blesses ME! So a gluten-free, colorful Thai soup came to mind — a recipe that I squirreled away awhile ago in hopes that some time I would have the opportunity to make it. I made a few adaptions which resulted in the recipe below.

As I was chopping, I noticed that all of the ingredients were vibrant shades of green, so I dubbed them the liturgical ingredients of ‘ordinary time’. We rounded this lunch off with a delicate spinach and spring mix salad topped with avocado, fresh strawberries and candied almonds, and pita crisps. The dessert was a homemade Mango and Vanilla Panna Cotta — a recipe that I hope to share in future weeks!

** This recipe was adapted from Once Upon a Chef **

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Thai Chicken, Spinach and Rice Noodle Soup
SERVINGS
4people
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
people
COOK TIME
15minutes
PREP TIME
10minutes
READY IN
25minutes

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil in a medium soup pot over medium-low heat.
  2. Add the shallots and ginger and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, 3 to 5 minutes.
  3. Add the green curry paste and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute more.
  4. Add the chicken broth, coconut milk, fish sauce, brown sugar, lime juice, and turmeric; bring to a gentle simmer. Continue simmering, uncovered, for 5 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, cook the rice noodles according to the package instructions. If not using immediately, let them sit in a bowl of cold water.
  6. When ready to serve, taste the soup and adjust the seasoning.
  7. Gently reheat the noodles in the microwave, if necessary (remove from water first!).
  8. Place baby spinach in the bottom of the serving bowl, place the rice noodles and shredded chicken on top and ladle the hot broth over top and sprinkle with cilantro and scallions.
  9. Serve with a lime wedge for garnish.

Salad Bar!

Who doesn’t want to sit down to a fresh, colorful and crispy salad topped with your favorite dressing?  The simplicity, the beauty, the different textures all combine to make this lunch time treat such a pleasing and healthy option.

Recently we served this for a retreat, and it received such rave reviews that we thought we’d share our salad bar ideas with you.  We haven’t included amounts, because you can make as little or as much as you want.  As a guide, people would probably want to plan on 1 Tbsp. of toppings per person.   It’s also the perfect “to go” meal – just prep all the toppings, throw them in zip-lock bags or containers and then dish up before serving.

We hope you enjoy some of these ideas as much as we do.

Salad Bar Suggestions:

Lettuce – a blend of iceberg, romaine, bibb and red leaf is nice

diced ham
diced turkey or chicken
hard boiled eggs
cheese – Havarti, swiss, cheddar – all recommended
crumbled gorgonzola
tomatoes, wedged or grape or cherry tomatoes
roasted beets, julienned
avocado
cucumber
celery
olives
grated carrot
broccoli and/or cauliflower flowerets
peas
chopped scallions
sliced red onion
colored peppers
garbanzo beans
cooked lentils
diced cooked bacon
cooked quinoa
sunflower seeds, roasted and salted
chia seeds
toasted nuts – such as walnuts or pecans
croutons

An Assortment of Homemade Dressings – click on the link for the recipes

Homemade Bleu Cheese Dressing
Green Goddess Salad Dressing
English Garden Salad Dressing
Balsamic Vinaigrette

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Salad Bar!
SERVINGS
However much you want
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
However much you want
COOK TIME
0
PREP TIME
1 hour (or less)
READY IN
1hour

Ingredients

Instructions

Homemade Bleu Cheese Dressing
  1. Makes 1 cup (250ml), about four servings If you can’t get buttermilk, mix one part milk (whole or lowfat) with one part plain yogurt (regular or lowfat) to approximate the taste. Any kind of blue cheese, domestic or imported, should work well.
  2. In a medium bowl, mash the blue cheese with the salt and pepper with the back of a fork until the pieces of cheese are finely broken up.
  3. Stir in the chives, sour cream, buttermilk, and lemon juice or wine vinegar until well mixed.
  4. Add a few drops of red wine vinegar. Taste, and adjust any of the seasonings to your liking and if the dressing too thick, add a bit more buttermilk. *Recipe adapted from David Lebovitz
Green Goddess Salad Dressing
  1. Place the mayonnaise, scallions, basil, lemon juice, garlic, anchovy paste, salt and pepper in a blender and blend until smooth.
  2. Add the sour cream and process just until blended. Refrigerate the dressing until ready to serve.
English Garden Salad Dressing
  1. Combine all but the oils in a bowl and whisk. Slowly whisk in the oils to combine.
Balsamic Vinaigrette
  1. Combine the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, honey, Dijon mustard, shallot, garlic, salt, and black pepper together in a glass jar with a lid.
  2. Replace lid on the jar and shake vigorously until thoroughly combined.

Hot Chicken Salad Bundles with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

Winter has finally hit Cape Cod. With our first snow flurry and single digit temperatures, I felt it was time to create new twists on some old recipes, to warm and delight the cockles of our guests’ hearts: a summer favorite bundled up and served on a puddle of roasted red pepper sauce, giving it just that bit of flair. From the comments I heard, I believe we struck it right with this recipe.

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Hot Chicken Salad Bundles with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
SERVINGS
4
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
COOK TIME
15minutes
PREP TIME
30minutes
READY IN
1hour

Ingredients

Instructions

Prepare the Chicken Salad
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  2. Mix all of the chicken salad ingredients together in a bowl and set aside
  3. Roll out two puff pastry sheets to 11 x 11” and cut into 2- 5 x5 “ squares (removing one inch of the border – the pastry needs to be this measurement to be thin enough)
  4. In the center of the square put about a ½ cup of chicken salad and draw the sides up to create a bundle, twisting and pinching the top to secure.
  5. Place the bundles on a parchment lined pan and brush with egg wash
  6. Cook for about 15 min. or until golden and cooked through
Meanwhile prepare the pepper sauce
  1. Heat the oil in a saute pan.
  2. Add the shallot and cook until soft.
  3. De-glaze the pan with white wine and cook 1 minute longer
  4. Add the stock and the drained roasted red peppers. Cook 5 min.
  5. Cool slightly, and puree in the blender
  6. Season with lemon juice, salt and pepper and transfer to a small saucepan to reheat a few minutes before serving.

Savory Roasted Apple Bourbon Bird

Autumn is apple time, and our trees are laden with gorgeous fruit — apples that are being turned into applesauce, apple crisp, apple fritters and all things apple! This is the time to have fun with them when they are so plentiful and at their best.

Last week we decided to give our chicken meal of the week an autumn touch by incorporating some apples into it and we were quite pleased with what resulted…..our Savory Roasted Apple Bourbon Bird. All we did was rub our chicken all over inside and out with a great mixture of tasty spices and herbs, stuffed it with some apple and yam quarters and a few shallots and roasted it as usual but basted it with our unusual cider bourbon glaze giving it a beautiful rich finish that was breathtaking to behold and luscious to taste. It is really worth trying and equally as good with a pork roast.

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Savory Roasted Apple Bourbon Bird
SERVINGS
4people
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
people
COOK TIME
105minutes
PREP TIME
30minutes
READY IN
135minutes

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Combine fresh garlic, onion salt, 2 tablespoons minced fresh thyme, cracked pepper.
  2. Rub well into chicken all over inside and out.
  3. Quarter a large apple, 6 shallots and stuff into cavity along with a handful of fresh thyme and a stalk of celery.
  4. Heat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
  5. Roast the chicken in the oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  6. Reduce the temperature to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and continue roasting until the juices run clear and a thermometer inserted into the inner thigh (but not touching the bone) registers 165 degrees Fahrenheit, about 30 minutes to 45 minutes more.
  7. Baste chicken with glaze about every 5 minutes for final 15 minutes of cooking.
Bourbon Glaze
  1. Reduce the apple juice down to about ¾ cup then add the rest of the ingredients.
  2. Heat the mixture until dissolved then add 1 cup bourbon and let boil for about 5 minutes or until mixture reduces to about 1 cup of liquid.
  3. Baste chicken with glaze about every 5 or 10 minutes for final 30 minutes of cooking.
  4. **Add 3 quartered apples, 2 yams cut to size of apples, and a dozen shallots to roasting pan stirring from time to time until all are tender.
  5. Remove and hold when done.

Asparagus Risotto

Risotto is now considered a specialty dish often featured on menus in upscale eating places. It has, however, been a common everyday food in Italian homes for many years. Cooked in different ways to satisfy various tastes, it is almost as popular as pasta in the Mediterranean diet.

It can be prepared as a simple, meatless, light lunch or as an accompaniment to meat or fish for a fuller multi-course meal.

This time of year, spring asparagus especially lends itself to this creamy, cheesy dish to make it an exceptionally flavorful culinary experience.
Asparagus Risotto

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Asparagus Risotto
SERVINGS
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
COOK TIME
50mins.
PREP TIME
READY IN

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Blanch the asparagus
  2. In a 3 or 4-quart saucepan, heat 1 Tablespoon butter on medium heat.
  3. Add the shallots and cook until translucent.
  4. Add the rice and cook for 2 minutes more, stirring until nicely coated.
  5. While shallots are cooking, bring the stock to a simmer in another saucepan.
  6. Add the wine. Slowly stir, allowing the rice to absorb the wine.
  7. Once the wine is almost completely absorbed, add 1/2 cup of hot stock to the rice. Stir until the liquid is almost sticking to the bottom of the pan.
  8. Continue adding 1/2 cup of hot stock to the rice at a time, and cooking and stirring until liquid is absorbed each time.
  9. You will stop adding stock when the rice is tender, but still firm to the bite, about 20-25 minutes.
  10. With the last ladle of stock, add the asparagus. Turn off the heat. Keep the risotto loose. It thickens a lot while it sits.
  11. Gently stir in the Parmesan cheese and the remaining 1 Tablespoon of butter. Add onion salt and pepper to taste.