Friday, October 23, 2009

Pear, Thyme, and Blue Cheese Tart

Fall is here and pears are out in abundance. So, when I was invited to a dinner party and asked to bring an appetizer, I came up with this. I avoid working with phyllo at all costs. It's messy, it's cumbersome, and it's just annoying. Puff pastry, however, is incredibly easy and looks so impressive when it comes out of the oven. All of the credit with none of the work. Try it!

1 sheet of puff pastry, thawed (usually a pack comes with two or three sheets)
4 pears, cored and sliced
1/2 cup blue cheese, softened to room temperature
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. On a floured surface, roll the puff pastry out to 15 by 10 inches. Use a ruler to cut straight lines with a paring knife. Carefully, using the paring knife, score the puff pastry an inch away from the edges making sure not to cut all the way through.

3. Smear the blue cheese within the border and arrange pears in overlapping design. Sprinkle thyme leaves over the pears.

4. Bake until pears are tender and edges are golden brown, 20 minutes or so.

Printable version here.

Meatball, Mushroom, and Tortellini Soup

At the end of long day or week, life calls for comfort food. This meaty, savory soup is totally comforting without ruining your waistline like more typical comfort foods (macaroni and cheese, fries, etc).

1 Tablespoon olive oil
1/4 onion, grated
1 clove garlic, grated
1/3 lb ground beef (5-7% fat)
3 Tablespoons bread crumbs
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
salt and pepper
1 package sliced mushroom (cremini or button)
4 cups beef broth
1 can diced tomatoes
1 package mushroom (or any of your choice) fresh tortellini/ravioli
2 cups fresh spinach, roughly chopped
grated parmesan (optional), to taste

1. In a medium bowl, combine onion, garlic, beef, bread crumbs, thyme, a pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper. Roll gently into 3/4-inch meatballs.

2. In a large pot or dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add meatballs. Brown meatballs on all sides.

3. When meatballs are browned, add mushrooms. Stir gently so that the meatballs do not break. Cook the mushrooms till they are soft and brown, 3-4 minutes. Add broth and tomatoes. Bring to a low boil and turn heat to medium. Add pasta and cook according to directions. A minute before pasta is done, add spinach and stir.

4. Serve with a sprinkle of parmesan, (optional).

Printable version here.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Baramundi with Stewed Peppers and Onions

My husband had a business dinner tonight, so I went straight for the onions, peppers, and garlic--three ingredients he prefers stay at the grocery store rather than on his plate. I noticed at the store that they had huge displays for Cold Prevention and teas to soothe sore throats. Well, as we head into cold and flu season, you might be surprised to know that red peppers are your best friend. One red pepper has 300% of your daily requirement of Vitamin C, more than an orange. It's also loaded in Vitamin A which is also good for immune function as well as vision, bone, and skin health. Onions and garlic offer manganese which helps regulate the natural hormonal balances in the body. Poblano, chard, and orange peppers also pack a Vitamin C punch. And, of course, leafy greens are loaded with anti-oxidants, aka cancer preventers.

The garlic, onions, and peppers develop a rich sweetness as they cook down. I used baramundi for this, a medium-firm white, flaky fish. Basically any white fish would work for this--try monkfish (also known as Poor Man's Lobster), Mahi Mahi, Swordfish, Snapper, Cod, or Sea Bass.

2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 yellow onion, sliced thinly
1 red pepper,quartered and sliced
1 poblano pepper, quartered and sliced
1 orange (or yellow or green) pepper, quartered and sliced
1 bunch Red Chard (or any other dark leafy green), tough stems removed, and thinly sliced
1 teaspoon olive oil (more if needed) plus more for fish
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (more or less to taste)
1 10-12 oz Baramundi (or other white fish) filet

1. Heat teaspoon olive oil in large sautee pan over Medium-High heat.

2. Add garlic and onions. Cook for 2-3 minutes.

3. Add peppers, chard, thyme, and red pepper flakes. Add a pinch of salt and some fresh ground pepper. Stir, cover, and turn heat to low. :Leave 15 minutes.

4. Lightly oil, salt, and pepper fish filet. Make a little space in the middle of the pan and place fish in it. Cover, turn heat to Medium, and leave 7-10 minutes (rule of thumb for fish doneness is 5 minutes per inch of thickness, so adjust time accordingly. It is cooked through when opaque throughout and gives back slightly when touched.)

5. Serve fish over pepper mixture.

Serves 2.

Printable version here.