Posts Tagged ‘Onions and Garlic’

I have seen both Martha Stewart and Jamie Oliver make white crudite platters.  And they looked soooo beautiful.  Even Jamie’s, who’s food usually looks delicious, but well, not like Martha’s, to say the least.  So, I wanted to do that.  Either they have whiter vegetables than me, or they were photographed through some magic whitening lens because this is not white.    So, this is my shades of beige crudite platter.

The vegetables are endives, steamed potatoes, radish, and carrots.  The white (ish) carrots and radishes were procured by my amazing husband, who went to Berkeley Bowl and searched for the best white vegetables he could possible find, just for me.  Totally made my day that he came back with awesome stuff and not boring old cauliflower.   The potatoes were inspired by a friend of mine, who served steamed potatoes and siracha aioli at her housewarming, and it was so delicious.  But since siracha aioli is not white, I did not make it.  Instead, I made roasted garlic aioli.

Roasted Garlic Aioli
Recipe from the this website, reprinted from the Mustards: Napa Valley Cookbook by Ciny Pawlcyn.

1 large head garlic
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 egg yolks
1 clove garlic, mashed to a paste
Juice of 1 small lemon
1/4 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
Pinch of ground cayenne pepper
1-1/2 cups extra virgin olive oil

To roast the garlic, preheat the oven to 300°F (150°C). Cut a thin slice off the very top of the head of garlic to expose the tops of all the cloves. Set the garlic head in a shallow baking dish. Pour the oil slowly over and into the head. Season with the salt and pepper. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake for 1-3/4 hours, until the garlic is very soft and tender. Don’t rush it; older garlic may take longer. Drain and reserve the oil, and set the garlic aside.

When cool, squeeze the pulp out of the roasted garlic into a food processor or blender and add the egg yolks, garlic, lemon juice, water, salt, and cayenne pepper. Purée until smooth. With the motor running, add the reserved roasting oil and the additional 1-1/2 cups oil in a slow, steady stream and continue processing until emulsified.

Makes about 2 cups

This was my first time making my own mayo, and I couldn’t believe how easy it was and how delicious it tasted.  I used half the mayo at the party.  The other half went into a potato salad with fingerling potatoes, scallions, and arugula, which was amazing, and a bit on some burgers.

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The weather is warm and gorgeous and the dark days are definitely over in this part of the country, though the challenge continues for a few more weeks.  In solidarity with my brethren in colder climates, I made a warm, hearty wintery dinner this week.   Our meat CSA, Marin Sun Farms, delivered to us this beautiful top sirloin roast, so I went for pure comfort food.   At the farmers market, I came across spring shallots.  I’m not entirely sure what they are, though I guess they are just what shallots look like when they are still young.  The flavor is a little grassier and more oniony than a regular shallot.  I bought a bunch, along with some creminis to make a sauce for the beef to serve along with some mashed potatoes.

The beef I used here was a 1 and 1/2 pound sirloin roast.  I rubbed it with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and a bit of rosemary.  Then, I roasted it at 425 for 10 minutes, then at 300 for another 40 minutes or so.  I found timing the cooking a little tricky and I think I need a good meat cookbook, so if anyone has any recommendations, please let me know!

When the meat came out of the oven, I tented it under some foil.  I chopped up the shallots and reserved the juice.  To make the sauce, I heated a pat of butter and a splash of olive oil in a pan.  Added a couple cups of sliced mushrooms and sauted for a few minutes.  I then added the pan drippings and a half a cup of red wine, and the diced shallots.  I reduced it to a simmer for about 5 minutes.

For the potatoes, I used this recipe from epicurious, except I only had skim milk on hand.  Not a problem – the potatoes were still really rich, earthy, and delicious.  All and all, when paired with a glass of a Bordeaux blend from Sonoma – a delicious winter meal…at the beginning of spring.

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Once, when I first started cooking, I made a spinach pie recipe that involved a phyllo sheet crust.  That damn crust was the hardest thing ever.  Of course, I didn’t have a pastry brush back then, so I was smearing the butter on with a spoon and made a giant mess.  But for years and years after, I didn’t make anything with puff pastry because I thought it was the same thing as phyllo and I was never, ever going to repeat my phyllo experience.

At some point, I figured out that puff pastry are phyllo are night and day.  Puff pastry is one of the easiest things ever.  I have not gotten over my fear of phyllo, but I’m quite happy to have cured myself of the confusion.

This recipe is delicious.  It was super easy and a perfect appetizer with wine.  The original recipe called for feta, but I used parmesan.  My friend said how much he liked gorgonzola with carmelized mushrooms, so I think that would probably work well.   Really, it’s pretty flexible so I plan on playing around a bit with cheese and herbs in the future.  I also bet it would be nice with some ground walnuts in there.  I had some issues making them look pretty so I probably didn’t fold it right, so my next attempt may just be rolling it up like a pinwheel.

Carmelized Onion Palmiers
Recipe printed with permission from I Shot the Chef

2 tbsp unsalted butter
2 sweet onions, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic
1 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
1 to 2 oz feta cheese, crumbled
1 sheet of store bought puff pastry, thawed
2 tbsp cornmeal (I used flour)


Heat the butter in a saute pan over medium heat.  Add the onions and a pinch of salt and pepper and cook, stirring often until they just start to color.  Reduce the heat to medium low and continue cooking, stirring often until brown and caramelized.  This should take about 30-45 minutes.  Just keep an eye on them.  When they are carmelized and golden brown,add the garlic and stir around for one minute.   At this point, I added about a tablespoon of water so I could scrape up some of the carmelized bits at the bottom of the pan, but that’s optional. 

Remove from the heat and add the cheese and thyme and stir until the cheese melts.  

The original recipe recommended roughly chopping the onion in a food processor until it’s a little more fine but still chunky.  I didn’t find I needed to do this, maybe because I had sliced the onions in a food processor to begin with so they were pretty small.  Whatever you decide will probably be fine.   Taste and add salt and pepper if needed.  Let cool completely.

Sprinkle your clean surface with cornmeal (or flour).  Place the thawed puff pastry on the dusted surface and sprinkle the top with whatever you are using.  Roll the sheet of puff pastry into a rectangle, just slightly thinner than it was originally.  Be careful that it does not stick.  Spread the onion mixture on the puff pastry, leaving about 1 inch around the edges.

Start rolling one of the short edges towards the middle.  Then roll the opposite edge to meet up in the middle.  This will make a log shape.  Brush a little water in the center where the two rolled halves meet.  Turn the log onto its side and press down slightly so the halves stick together.  Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and place in the freezer for at least 30 minutes to firm up.  This makes it much easier to cut. 

When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Remove the log from the freezer and slice into 1/4 inch disks.  Place the cut side down on a parchment covered sheet pan.  If they are deformed, don’t panic.  Mine looked much better when they came out.

 Bake for about 20 minutes until the puff pastry is golden brown and cooked through.  Best served warm, but also good at room temperature.


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Orecchiette is this cute little ear-shaped pasta that I use in one of my favorite dishes.  My husband got the recipe from an old Italian roommate of his and it was the first meal he cooked for me.  I was also the first time I had ever had broccoli rabe.  I fell in love.  I love it almost as much as arugula.  The broccoli rabe that is.  My husband does actually place before arugula in my heirarchy of awesome. 

The dish also has anchovies in it.  Don’t be afraid.  And don’t skip them.  They add a fabulous briny, rich taste to the sauce that compliments the bitter broccoli rabe perfectly.  Plus, Michael Pollan says to eat your little fishies, and you can’t argue with him.

Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe
Recipe by some Italian guy

1 pound orecchiette pasta (De Cecco is the only store brand I’ve seen that makes it.  If you can’t find it, I think farfelle would be a good substitute.)
1-2 bunches of broccoli rabe, washed and cut into 1 inch chunks
1 4 ounce tin of anchovies.  If they are really firm, you might want to give them a coarse dice before adding them just to help them disintegrate.
1/4 cup or so of olive oil
4 or so garlic cloves, finely minced
good size pinch of red pepper flakes

In a large pot of salted water, cook the pasta according to the package, and drain, reserving a half cup or so of pasta water.

While the pasta cooks, heat the olive oil in a wide skillet over medium heat.  Add the red pepper flakes and garlic and saute for a couple minutes, until the garlic is golden brown.  Add the anchovies, stirring to help them break down.

Add the broccoli rabe, tossing with the oil so it wilts.   Cook for a few minutes until it is completely incorporated with the oil and has wilted.  Add a little bit of the pasta water if it looks dry. 

Toss with the orecchiette and serve with lots of parmesan cheese.

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So, I think we are all in agreement that pasta is delicious and wine is delicious.   Well, imagine having them together.  Not just a glass with your pasta, but all in one, delicious, winey-carby bite?  Yes, such a dream is possible with this Michael Chiarello recipe.

I don’t really have much else to say about it, except that this is delicious.  The bitterness of the broccoli rabe goes so perfectly with the spicy zinfandel and red pepper flakes, and there’s garlic. 


Red Wine Pasta with Broccoli Rabe
Recipe by Michael Chiarello

1 3/4 pounds broccoli rabe, thick stems discarded – I used two big bunches from the farmers’ market, which seemed to be just the right amount.
1 pound spaghetti – I used linguini.  Use a reasonably good brand here like Barilla or De Cecco.  I think some of the cheaper brands wouldn’t hold up as well during the cooking process.
1 bottle red wine (750 ml – preferably Zinfandel) – I used a $4 bottle of “Old Moon” Zinfandel from Trader Joe’s, which worked just fine.  A better quality wine would probably give it a richer flavor, but I liked how this one worked.
1 teaspoon sugar
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped (2 tablespoons)
1 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes – I used this much, but next time I’ll halve it.  It was just a bit too spicy.
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Chop the broccoli rabe into 1 inch, bite size pieces.  If your broccoli rabe has a lot of florets and is fairly thick and sturdy, you’ll want to blanch it in boiling water for a minute or two, then transfer to a colander to drain, reserving the liquid.  Mine was leafy and a little more delicate, so I skipped the blanching phase. 

Bring water to a boil (or bring the broccoli rabe water back up to a boil and cook the pasta for about 5 minutes.  The pasta won’t be cooked at this point.  Reserve one cup of the pasta water and drain in a colander.  

In that same pot, add the wine and sugar and bring to a boil.  Boil over high heat for about 2-3 minutes, until it starts to reduce.  Add the pasta to the wine and continue to boil.  Stir gently with tongs to ensure it doesn’t stick, and cook for about 6 minutes, until most of the liquid is absorbed and the pasta is al dente.

Meanwhile, warm a deep skillet or saute pan over low heat.  Add the olive oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes,  stirring to ensure they don’t burn, and cook until garlic is pale golden, about 5 minutes.  Add the broccoli rabe, salt, and pepper and stir together while keeping the skillet on low, about 1-2 minutes.  Add 1/2 cup of reserved pasta water and simmer for another minute or so.

Pour the broccoli rabe mixture into the pot of pasta and wine, and toss together with thongs.   Cook while stirring, about 2 minutes or until most of the liquid has boiled off.   Remove from heat, season with freshly ground black pepper and drizzle with a bit of olive oil, if you like.  Add the grated cheese and serve immediately.

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For this week’s Dark Days challenge, I tried out two new recipes.  The first comes from Deborah Madison’s Local Flavors, a really wonderful cookbook that a friend lent to me and I’ve been hoarding for way too long.  Deborah Madison was the genius behind the delicious goat cheese and leek tart, and this recipe for onion and smoked cheddar custard looked particularly delicious.  I really liked the finished product – for a vegetarian dish, it had an amazing meaty flavor.  Or, umami if you prefer the technical term.  The recipe calls for it to be baked in six 1/2 cup ramekins.  I used 4 one cup ramekins because that’s what I had and it seemed like a better size for one serving anyway. 

I served it with braised escarole, using a recipe from Tyler Florence.  Escarole isn’t really a vegetable I’m too familar with, but they were on full display at the farmer’s market on Saturday, so I thought I’d give it a try.  I thought about a salad, but felt like experimenting and opted to cook it.  If you had told me that what was essentially boiled lettuce would taste good, I would have thought you were joking.  But, wow.  The recipe said it served four, but we had no problem finishing it off, it was that good.  Thank you, Tyler Florence. 

Just about everything here is local, with the exceptions being the flour in the custard, the oil, and the red pepper flakes.

Savory Custards with Carmelized Onion and Smoked Cheddar
Recipe by Deborah Madison, Local Flavors

1 tablespoon butter, plus butter for the ramekins
large yellow onions cut into a medium dice
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
3 large market eggs
1 1/2 cups milk (2 % will taste fine) or light cream
pinch of nutmeg
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup finely grated smoked Cheddar cheese

Heat a large skillet with the butter.  I didn’t have a large enough non-stick one, which is what the recipe recommended, so I used stainless steel.  Add the onions and mix well with the melted butter.  Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and cover.  Cook over medium heat until the onions are very soft, about one hour.  During this time, you’ll need to give them a stir every 5-10 minutes.  I found I needed to add 1/4 cup of water a couple times during the cooking because they were starting to stick.  It could have been because I didn’t use a nonstick pan or because my stove runs hot.  In any event, just keep an eye on it, and if it’s starting to burn or stick, a good splash of water isn’t going to hurt them.  After an hour and the onions are nice and carmelized, season with salt and pepper and remove from heat. 

Preheat the oven to 375.  Boil water for the baking dish.  Grease the ramekins.

Crack the eggs in a bowl and whisk in the milk, nutmeg, flour, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and a grating of pepper.  Split the onions and cheese among the ramekins and pour in the custard.  

Stir the contents of the ramekins to mix up the onions and cheese.  Put them in a baking dish and add the boiling water so that it comes up to at least an inch up the sides.  Bake them in the middle of the oven until golden and well set, about 50 minutes.  The tops should puff up a bit.  The recipe said that they shouldn’t brown but mine did.  

With the custards, I made the braised escarole.

Braised Escarole with Garlic and Lemon
Recipe by Tyler Florence

1 head escarole, about 1 pound
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
4 garlic cloves, sliced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 bay leaves
1/2 lemon, cut in thin slices
2 cups water, chicken broth, or vegetable broth
Pinch sugar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Break off the leaves of the escarole and wash them carefully.  They will likely be very dirty, so this might take a while.  Dry the leaves, and slice them crosswise into 1 1/2 wide ribbons.  

In a large, deep skillet, heat the olive oil and butter over medium heat.  Add the garlic, red pepper flakes, bay leaves, and lemon slices.  Saute for a couple of minutes, until the lemon starts to get soft and the garlic gets golden. 

Add the escarole, sauteing it until it starts to wilt, about 2 minutes.  Add a sprinkle of sugar, salt, and pepper.   Add the water or broth and cover.  Simmer for about 20 minutes, until the escarole is tender.  I removed the lid around 18 minutes because there was a lot of liquid in the pot and I wanted to boil some of it off. 

I served it along side the custard with a couple slices of ciabatta from a local bakery to soak up the juices from the escarole.  So good!

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Happy new year!  I’ve been travelling around visiting family for the holidays and very behind on my blog posting.  Hopefully, you all were busy with your own holiday plans to miss me too much. 

I made this soup right before Christmas, and since it used all local ingredients, it’s my submission for the Week 7 Dark Days Challenge (sadly, I missed week 6 because of travels).  I got the idea from fellow Dark Days Challenge participant, Married With Dinner, who made Emeril Lagasse’s Potato Leek Soup a few weeks back.  I’ve never made potato leek soup before, but this version looked so good that I had to try it out.  It was absolutely delicious.  Next time, I am going to make a double batch and freeze half of it.

Everything I used here except the salt and pepper are local.  All the produce comes from the farmer’s market.   For stock, I used homemade vegetable broth that I had made and froze a while ago, using an onion, carrot, leek trimmings, herbs, and whatever other things happened to be in my produce drawer that afternoon.  The bacon comes from Fatted Calf, the dairy from Clover Stornetta Farms in Sonoma, and the wine is a sauvignon blanc that my husband picked up at St. Supery in Napa on a recent trip. 

Potato Leek Soup
Recipe by Emeril Lagasse

1 large or 2 small leeks, about 1 pound, cleaned and thinly sliced
2 bay leaves
20 black peppercorns (I just ground up a bunch)
4 sprigs fresh thyme
2 tablespoons butter
2 strips bacon, chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine
5 cups chicken stock  (I used vegetable)
1 to 1 1/4 pounds russet potatoes, diced  (I used Yukon gold)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon white pepper (I skipped)
1/2 to 3/4 cup creme fraiche or heavy cream (I used half and half)
2 tablespoons snipped chives


The original recipe calls for creating a bouquet garni using some leek trimmings to make a packet that you fill with the peppercorns, bay leaves, and thyme.  That is way too much work for a Tuesday night, so I just skipped that step.  I just tossed the bay leaves and thyme right into the broth and fished them out before blending, then just ground in lots of fresh pepper.  So much easier for essentially the same thing.   Just be sure to count the bay leaves as you put them in and take them out because you don’t want to grind one of those up.

In a large pot over medium heat, melt the butter and add the chopped up pieces of bacon.  Stir occassionally, cooking for about 5 to 6 minutes, until the bacon is very soft and has rendered most of its fat. 

Add the leeks and stir gently until wilted, about 5 minutes.  Add the wine and bring to a boil.  Add the bay and thyme, or the bouquet garni if you are using, the stock, potatoes, and salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender and falling apart.

Remove the bouquet garni or fish out the herbs.  Working in batches, puree the soup, using a a food processor, blender, or immersion blender.   Stir in the cream or creme fraiche and adjust the seasoning, if necessary.  Sprinkle some of the snipped chives on top to serve. 

Particularly delicious on a cold night with a glass of the wine you poured in (can’t let it go bad!) and a hunk of bread from a local bakery.

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Lately, I’ve been obsessed with stinging nettles.  I only ate them once, on a pizza at Chez Panisse a year ago, but they were delicious.  I thought it would be fun to cook them, and since they are a spring vegetable, I’ve been on a quest to find some.

I went to Berkeley Bowl, the local produce mecca, to try to find some.  This place houses every fruit and vegetable known to man and yet they did not have nettles.  Sigh…  Determined not to leave without some weird produce, I bought a handful of ramps.  I’ve never cooked ramps, but they smelled like they’d taste good and in any event, they’d be better than the durian they were selling.


If you’ve never eaten ramps, they taste like a cross between a leek and garlic.  You can eat the entire thing – bulb, stalks, and greens.  They sound expensive (mine were $11.99/pound) but a little goes a very, very long way.  I only bought a quarter pound of them (about 25 stalks), and didn’t even use all of that for this recipe.  A quick google search reveals a bunch of different preparations for them, so if you can get your hands on some, buy them and cook them.  They are delicious, and from what I understand, only available in the spring.

To keep with the spring vegetable theme, I also bought some local asparagus.


I decided I would make a white pizza with these vegetables.  Food and Wine has a recipe for ramp pizza that was the inspiration, though my end result differed significantly.  I was really happy with how it turned out, it was absolutely delicious.

A word of warning, however.  Most of the recipes for ramps or asparagus on pizza involve chopping them up into little bits.  I wanted a pretty pizza, so I didn’t do that and left them whole.  Well, there’s a reason chefs recommend chopping them up and that is that asparagus and ramps are both very fibrous vegetables, making them difficult to just bite into.  So, if you leave them whole, this wouldn’t be the most elegant pizza to eat with your hands.  You really need a knife and fork to cut through the vegetables so that you don’t take a whole stalk off with one bite.  So, think about how you’ll be serving this before you decide how pretty you want it.

White Pizza with Ramps and Asparagus


Pizza dough – I used this recipe, which is a little on the chewy side.  You can use a different one if you prefer a thinner, crisper crust.

4-6 ounces fresh mozzerrella, shredded or torn up into small bits
2-3 Tablespoons grated parmesan
15 or so asparagus stalks, woody ends removed
15 or so ramps
2 Tablespoons pine nuts
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper


Preheat oven to 450.  If you want to preheat the cookie sheet or pizza stone as well, you can do that and you’ll probably have to reduce the cooking time by a couple minutes.  I’m not adept enough to transfer my assembled pizza to a hot pan quickly, so I don’t bother with that step, though I realize it probably results in a better crust.

In a pot of salted water, blanch the ramps for 30 seconds and then the asparagus for about 3 minutes.  Just remove the ramps with tongs and add the asparagus right in so you don’t have to heat up a second pot of water.  Toss both in a splash of olive oil and salt and pepper.

Roll out pizza dough to a rectangle so it fits a standard cookie sheet and lightly brush a tablespoon or so of olive oil on it.  Sprinkle the pizza with the mozzerrella.

Place the asparagus on the pizza, alternating the tips with the bottoms, across the entire length.  Then place the ramps between each stalk of asparagus, alternating the white bulbs with the green leafs, across the entire length.  You should be able to get about 15 or so of each vegetable all the way across.  Sprinke the entire pizza with the parmesan and pine nuts.  


Bake it in the oven at 450 for 10-12 minutes, until the asparagus is nicely roasted and the crust of the pizza is starting to brown.

Let it cool and cut it with a very sharp knife.


The end result was delicious.  While I’m still on the hunt for nettles (anyone in this area see them for sale anywhere?), I’m very happy that I discovered ramps.

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