Friday, February 26, 2016

Parsnip Pureé

A couple of weeks ago, I ate dinner at a local restaurant, and it included a portion of parsnip pureé as an accompaniment to the short ribs I ordered. Wow, what a unexpected surprise when I scooped the first forkful into my mouth! Why hadn't I ever tried parsnips before? They taste so sweet you'd think sugar had been added.

I quickly rushed off to buy some parsnips to cook at home, and have made parsnips pureé a couple of times since then. I didn't make short ribs, but the pureé sure added a lot of pizzazz to the meat loaf that night. 

Like carrots, parsnips are a root vegetable, and they're high in vitamins and minerals, especially potassium. Parsnips are also high in antioxidants and a great source of dietary fiber. But the best part is the sweetness. Before the advent of sugarcane and beets to Europe, they were used as a sweetener, and the Romans even believed parsnips to be an aphrodisiac. Now do I have your attention?

This recipe is easy to make ahead of time, and reheats well in the microwave too. First peel the parsnips, slice them and cook them with the liquid (I used a mix of skim milk and heavy cream since that's what I had. But you could use half and half, or just milk.) They don't take long to soften. 

After they're cooked, remove the bay leaf, drain the parsnips and place in a food processor with some of the liquid. Process until smooth, adding more of the liquid to the food processor (I used it all) if necessary.

Sprinkle with parsley.

It makes a great accompaniment to meats, or as a base for fish.

Ciao Chow Linda is also on Instagram, as well as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. Click here to connect with me on Facebook, here for my Pinterest page, here for my Twitter feed and here for my Instagram page to see more of what I'm cooking up each day.

Parsnip Pureé

printable recipe here

Adapted from a Tyler Florence recipe

3 large parsnips 

1/2 cup skim milk

1/2 cup heavy cream 

(or 1 cup half and half)

2 cloves garlic, smashed

1 bay leaf

4 Tablespoons butter

salt, pepper to taste

Peel the parsnips and place them in a pan with the milk, cream, garlic and bay leaf. Let everything come to a boil, then lower to a simmer. Cook until the parsnips are tender, about 10 to 15 minutes. Drain the parsnips (but keep the liquid) and place the parsnips in a food process, with some of the liquid. Add the butter, salt and pepper, and process until smooth, adding more of the liquid if necessary to think out the pureé.

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Monday, February 22, 2016

Cauliflower Rice and other love

I finally got on the bandwagon - the cauliflower rice bandwagon, that is. Cauliflower "rice" been all over the internet for years, but I had yet to try it. This is a great way of "pretending" you're eating carbs without really eating carbs. It's so easy to prepare and lends itself to so many adaptations, depending on the flavors you choose to add.

Start out by cutting some florets from a head of raw cauliflower and putting them in the food processor. Pulse a little at a time until they look like grains of rice.

Then the creativity starts. I chopped up some red peppers, onions and parsley and put them in a bowl, tossing them with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil, salt and pepper. You can use any combination of spices and other vegetables that suits your fancy - try turmeric and mushrooms; sage and zucchini bits; saffron and fennel, for example.

 I spread the mixture on a cookie sheet and baked it briefly at 350 degrees. I didn't want the cauliflower to brown, since I wanted it to still look like "rice." 

After about 10 minutes, remove from the oven. It will still retain some bite, but it won't be as crunchy as raw cauliflower.

Serve as a side dish instead of potatoes, noodles or rice and your waistline will thank you.

My favorite way to eat cauliflower, however, has to be roasted, where the crispy edges and intense flavor of cauliflower is highlighted. Start by cutting up some florets and tossing them in a bowl with some olive oil, parmesan cheese, black pepper, paprika and parsley. Roast at high heat (450 degrees) and keep a close watch on it. It should take about 15-20 minutes, flipping once. I used a Silpat silicone mat beneath it all, which makes cleanup very easy.

 The cauliflower is terrifically addictive right from the pan, as a vegetable, but if you've got leftovers, it's handy for all kinds of things, like adding to an omelet or frittata, below.

Or toss into some pasta, with some pancetta, red peppers and parmesan cheese. 

Start by sautéing a little pancetta and don't throw out the fat. Remove the pancetta and sauté some strips of red pepper and onion in the fat, then add the pasta, straight from the pot, along with some of the cooking water, to help create a small amount of "sauce." Throw in the leftover cauliflower and pancetta bits, some parmesan cheese, a grinding of black pepper, and dinner is ready.

Ciao Chow Linda is also on Instagram, as well as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. Click here to connect with me on Facebook, here for my Pinterest page, here for my Twitter feed and here for my Instagram page to see more of what I'm cooking up each day.

Cauliflower Rice

printable recipe here

Cut the cauliflower into florets and place them in a food processor. Pulse until they are about the size of rice grains. Place into a bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Add minced onions and peppers if you like, and season with salt and pepper. Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes, until the cauliflower and other vegetables soften a bit.

Roasted Cauliflower

printable recipe here

Cut the cauliflower into florets and slice so that pieces can lie flat on a cookie sheet. Place them in a bowl, drizzle with olive oil, some parmesan, black pepper and minced parsley. Spread them out on a greased cookie sheet (or one lined with Silpat) and roast in a 450 degree oven for about 20 minutes, flipping once.

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Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Tanyard Farm Buttermilk Cake

Sometimes you try a new recipe and it's such a disaster, it goes right into the trash. But sometimes you try a new recipe and it's destined to become one that you return to over and over again. This is one of those. 

Maybe it's because it's from the website of King Arthur Flour, whose high quality products are always reliable. 

Maybe it's because this cake is so flavorful, moist and the crumb is so unbelievably tender. 

Maybe it's because the crunchy and sticky pecan coating is so irresistible.

Or maybe it's because this recipe makes enough to feed a crowd! 

 For all those reasons, you've got to try this recipe. I'll bet you'll find it becomes one of your go-to cake recipes too.

Tanyard Farm Buttermilk Cake



  • 6 tablespoons melted butter

  • 1 cup light brown sugar 

  • 1/4 cup milk

  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

  • 2/3 to 1 cup diced pecans


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9" x 13" cake pan. (I used two 8" square pans instead)

  2. Beat the butter and brown sugar together till smooth. 

  3. Add the eggs, beating till smooth.

  4. Stir in the buttermilk and vanilla extract.

  5. Add the baking soda, salt, and flour to the wet ingredients, beating till thoroughly combined.

  6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

  7. Bake the cake for 35 minutes. (Mine needed closer to 45 minutes) Towards the end of the baking time, prepare the topping.

  8. Stir the butter and the sugar together. Add the milk, pecans, and salt. The glaze will be thick but pourable. 

  9. Top the baked cake with the topping, and return to the oven for another 10 minutes. 

  10. Remove the cake from the oven. The topping will look very runny. You can eat the cake hot, with the glaze still gooey; or let the cake sit at room temperature for a few hours, by which time the glaze will have set. 

  11. Yield: 24 servings.

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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Baked Pears in Marsala Wine

Somehow or other, when I decide to cut back on desserts, fruit gets a free pass. OK, forget that scoop of ice cream nestled beside the pear on the plate above, and the sugar and butter in the recipe, below.

 It's still fruit as the main event, not cake or pastry. And fruit is your friend, right?

Pears poached in red wine has been one of my standard winter desserts for years, but after receiving a copy of Rachel Roddy's new book, "My Kitchen In Rome," I knew that I had to try her recipe for baked pears in Marsala wine and cinnamon.

Many of the recipes in this new book by a young English woman transplanted to Rome had me pining for the Eternal City, and will be familiar to anyone who's a fan of Roman cuisine. You'll find old favorites like spaghetti alla carbonara and carciofi alla romana, but also some unusual and tempting recipes like a sausage and cabbage cake that looks like an oak tree's trunk and branches when flipped out of its pan.

And if you love octopus, she's got a recipe for cooking it that ensures a perfectly tender and flavorful result every time.

What I also love about this book is the writing.

Rachel's got a real way with words and telling stories, so it's not surprising that she also writes a column for the British newspaper, The Guardian.

But back to those pears. The recipe calls for comice pears, and I don't know if what I bought were comice pears. They were on the smallish side, so they could have been, but I'm not sure. It doesn't matter though, because I think you could easily make these with any type of pear.

First you smear the pears with butter. Then sprinkle with sugar and pour the Marsala and other ingredients over the pears.

Bake in the oven for about a half hour, covered, then another half hour uncovered, until the pears are tender and slightly shriveled.

Serve with a scoop of ice cream, or a spoonful of mascarpone, as Rachel suggests.

Ciao Chow Linda is also on Instagram, as well as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. Click here to connect with me on Facebook, here for my Pinterest page, here for my Twitter feed and here for my Instagram page to see more of what I'm cooking up each day.

Baked Pears with Marsala and cinnamon

printable recipe here

from "My Kitchen in Rome" by Rachel Roddy

6 Comice pears (or other types)

3 Tablespoons soft unsalted butter

1 cup dry Marsala wine (I used sweet Marsala)

1 cup sugar

2 cinnamon sticks

mascarpone (or ice cream), to serve

Preheat the oven to 360 degrees. Slice the bottom off each pear so that they sit flat. Using a sharp knife, cut out the central core as best you can. Rub some butter over the skin of each pear and sit them, stalk upward, in an ovenproof dish. Pour over the Marsala, sprinkle on the sugar, and break the cinnamon sticks roughly over the pears. Cover the dish loosely with foil.

Bake for 25 minutes, then remove the foil and reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees. Continue baking for another 25 minutes, or until the pears are very tender and slightly shriveled. Serve warm or at room temperature, with some of the sticky juices and a scoop or ice cream or mascarpone cheese.

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Thursday, February 4, 2016

Flounder and Fennel with Lemon and Oranges

The older I get, the harder it becomes to shed those extra pounds. It seems like the resolve I had to lose weight at the beginning of the year is always thwarted by another dinner party, another restaurant meal, another gift of chocolates or some other temptation that I've been given.

I confess I'm not very good at resisting all these treats, but in an attempt to ameliorate the extra calories that pile on, I cook a meal like this and it helps assuage any guilt. 

But I don't make this meal just because of the lower caloric load. It's also because it just tastes so delicious. The fish was caught locally off New Jersey shores and that helps. The short cooking time and technique also ensures you'll have a flaky and moist piece of fish to serve. It's quick and easy enough to prepare for a weeknight meal, but good enough for company too.

Start by buttering an ovenproof dish and slicing fennel into "matchsticks." Salt and pepper the fennel,  then cover the pan with aluminum foil. Bake for about 10 minutes at 475 degrees F.

Remove from the oven then place the fish on top of the fennel.

Scatter a little butter on top (I used less than 1 T. for two servings), season the fish, and place slices of lemon and orange on top. Squeeze more juice and some white wine over all and bake for 10 minutes.

Sprinkle a little parsley on top, serve with a side of veggies and enjoy a no-guilt meal.

Ciao Chow Linda is also on Instagram, as well as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. Click here to connect with me on Facebook, here for my Pinterest page, here for my Twitter feed and here for my Instagram page to see more of what I'm cooking up each day.

Flounder and Fennel with Lemon and Oranges

printable recipe here

For Two Servings:

Two pieces of flounder or fluke (about 6 oz. each)

1/2 fennel bulb

1 T. butter

1 clementine or small orange

1 lemon

1/4 cup dry white wine

salt, pepper

minced parsley

Lightly grease an ovenproof pan with a little of the 1 T. butter. You'll use the rest of the butter on the fish later.

Slice the fennel into "matchstick" size pieces. Scatter them in the pan, season with salt and pepper and cover with a piece of aluminum foil. Bake in a 475 degree oven for 10 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven, and place the fish over the fennel. Season with salt and pepper and squeeze the juice of half a clementine or small orange, and half a lemon over the top. Pour 1/4 cup dry white wine over the fish and dab with the rest of the 1 T. butter.

Cover with the aluminum foil and place back in the oven for 10 minutes, or until fish is cooked through and flaky. It may take less than 10 minutes if your fish pieces are thin, so check after five or six minutes)

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