Friday, September 21, 2018

Cinnamon Roll Crepes

Cinnamon Roll Crepes
There is a Nun Study by Dr. David A. Snowdon.  It assessed cognitive aging and concluded that a positive emotional outlook early in life can help people live longer.  “The study showed that nuns who expressed more positive emotions in their autobiographies lived significantly longer -- in some cases 10 years longer -- than those expressing fewer positive emotions.” (New York Times, 5/7/2001).  The premise is similar to Shawn Achorand his study of happiness and the benefits of positive psychology.  Shawn encourages us to take a gratitude challenge: for 21 days, write down 3 things that you are grateful for (and you can’t repeat anything) so that means 63 things that you are grateful for.  For me, the first five would be pretty easy: family, health, friends, food, and shelter.  I have made it (sort of) through day 2, but the next 58 would require more creative stretching and a heightened awareness of just how many positive things there are to be grateful for.  

I got it!  #6 – pre-made crepes.  I am grateful that someone else makes these dainty, fragile little rounds of yumminess.  On to day 3….

Wandering through the newly opened Central Market by our house, I spotted some pre-made Belgian crepes in the freezer section.  D√©licieuse! (I had to look that up – it is supposed to mean delicious in French.)  Whether you prefer (or your grocery has pre-made) French or Belgian crepes, this Bobby Flay recipe is a winner.  Even David would add cinnamon roll crepes to his gratitude list.

#7 - I am grateful to you for going on this culinary exploration with me.

Happy birthday (yesterday) Aunt Chris (#8)!!

Ingredients:
Cinnamon (Rum) Sauce:
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar 
  • 2 tablespoons dark rum, optional
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Crepe Filling:
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup cold heavy cream 
  • 2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar, plus more for dusting 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
Note: half this amount filled 7 crepes

For the cinnamon (rum) sauce: Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the brown sugar, rum (optional) and cinnamon and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar melts. Stir in 2 tablespoons water and cook a few more minutes. Set aside and keep warm.

For the filling: Combine the cream cheese, cream, confectioners' sugar, vanilla and orange zest in a stand mixer with a whisk attachment and whisk until light and fluffy.

To assemble: Place a crepe on a flat surface with the browner side down. Smear 3 to 4 tablespoons filling across the crepe slightly off center and a few inches from the bottom (facing you), fold the bottom up over the filling and then roll the crepe tightly. Place seam-side down on a plate or platter and repeat with the remaining crepes and filling. Spoon the sauce over the crepes and dust with confectioners'. Serve immediately.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Asparagus with Pecorino and Pine Nuts

Asparagus with Pecorino and Pine Nuts
“To think the same way, to share the same opinions – this is not peace.  Unity is not uniformity.  True peace comes through the expression of differences; many perspectives, each offering a partial view of the truth…  Only when we open ourselves to understand all sides of an issue will we attain peace...” I read this passage the other day and it is the way more eloquent version of what I wanted to say last week.  I did some research and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Pope Francis have been quoted similarly about “unity and uniformity.”  It’s a thing.  Pass it on.  

Our dinner table did not fully agree on this dish, but I applaud all diners for tasting a new vegetable.  If I understand the perspective of the younger members at the table, the pecorino-romano is a strong, nutty, rich cheese flavor.  The lemon juice tempered it and gave the sauce a brightness and you can’t go wrong with toasted pine nuts.

Ingredients:
  • 1 bunch green pencil asparagus
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil 
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper 
  • 1/4 cup grated Pecorino-Romano, plus extra for garnish 
  • Zest and juice of 1/2 lemon 
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts

The asparagus can be grilled or oven roasted.  Either way, toss the asparagus with some olive oil and sprinkle with some salt and pepper.  Grill on medium-high heat for about 5 minutes or oven roast at 400 for 10-15 minutes.

Add the Pecorino-Romano, lemon zest and juice and some salt and pepper to a bowl and mix to combine. Slowly whisk in the remaining <1/4 cup olive oil to form an emulsion.

Arrange the asparagus on a serving platter. Drizzle with the dressing and garnish with the pine nuts (and more Pecorino).

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Kale, White Bean and Farro Salad

Kale, White Bean and Farro Salad
“Ban shredded cheese. Make America grate again.”  Saw this posted to Facebook.  I’m not making a political statement – it just made me laugh. I hate that there is so much hate. What happened to respect?  What happened to tolerance?  What happened to acknowledging that we don’t all have to think or believe the same way and yet we can still have a conversation and come out better afterwards because we heard a different point of view? For example, my friend, Susan, likes this salad with a tahini dressing.  That dressing doesn’t suit my taste buds, but I’m still going to hang out with Susan.  

What is farro? (said “fahr-oh” – not “pharaoh” – which would make more sense because it’s an ancient grain.)  It is a whole grain that is not gluten free but heart healthy, vegan, and a great source of iron.  For all of those reasons, I shouldn’t like it but this salad has a great combination of flavors and is hearty.  Find your favorite dressing (tahini, lemon or cider vinaigrette) and then let’s have a respectful discussion while we eat salad and grate cheese.

For the salad:
  1. 1 bunch kale, stemmed and thinly sliced
  2. 1 1/2 cups cooked and cooled farro
  3. 1 (15 ounce) can white beans, drained and rinsed
  4. 16 cherry tomatoes, halved
  5. 1/2 cup diced sun-dried tomatoes chopped
  6. 4 ounces feta, crumbled
  7. 1/4 small red onion, thinly sliced

For a cider vinaigrette dressing:
  1. 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  2. 1 teaspoon minced shallot
  3. 1/2 teaspoon honey 
  4. 3 tablespoons olive oil
  5. Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Place salad ingredients into a large mixing bowl. Drizzle with vinaigrette. Toss together until the salad is well dressed/coated. Adjust seasonings and serve.