Sometimes a book can be a life saver. Almost literally.
For a recent corporate team building event at Cooking by the Book, Suzen faced a serious challenge. The team of twenty had a number of food issues. The meal had to be vegetarian, but in addition, several of the team members had strong food allergies. The restrictions meant that a number of common ingredients could not be used for any dish that day. Yet Suzen still wanted a delicious meal for this team to prepare together in our kitchen. The whole concept here is that you cook together and then eat what you cook. So, food restrictions have to diversions and not blockades.
What would be a safe combination of ingredients for a first course, and where would Suzen find it?
The Best of Rose Elliot is a wonderful book reviewed here in May. This is simply the best vegetarian cookbook we’ve seen. In fact, it’s much more appropriate to say this is one of the best cookbooks. Period. The dishes here reflect Rose’s incredible experience in fashioning recipes that have great satisfaction: both to the palate and to the eye.
Suzen walked through The Best until she found this first course that met the needs of everyone in the team. The dish is simple to create and tantalizing on the eye and the tongue. We modified the original version which called for making individual rounds of puff pastry. Here, we just made a rectangle of the pastry, covered it with veggies, baked, divided it up with a sharp knife, and ate away.
Suzen’s clients that day were not fussy; they just had a number of food restrictions. On any day when you have some special cravings or maybe some restrictions of your own, then The Best of Rose Elliot is just fine for one-stop shopping and dining.
Carrot, Shallot and Red Pepper Tarte Tatins with Cardamom
Yield: 12 servings
- 10 carrots (about 1 ½ pounds), thinly sliced
- 1 large garlic clove, crushed
- 3 cups red peppers sliced thin (about 3 large peppers)
- 1½ cups shallots sliced thin (about 3 large)
- 3½ tablespoons olive oil
- ½ tablespoons of unsalted butter
- ¾ cup water
- 1½ teaspoons granulated sugar
- 20 cardamom pods
- 12 ounces frozen ready-to-bake all-butter puff pastry
- Salt and black pepper
- 3 cups arugula, coarsely chopped
Put the sliced carrots into a saucepan with the garlic, olive oil, water, sugar, and some salt and black pepper.
Crush the cardamom and discard the pods. Crush the seeds a little, and then add to the saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover, and cook gently for about 10 minutes, or until the carrots are tender and glossy, and the water has disappeared. If there is still water left, remove the lid from the pan and boil the liquid rapidly until it has disappeared. Cool.
Sautéed the red peppers and shallots in ½ T. of olive oil and ½ T. of butter until golden and then added them to the cooked carrot mixture.
Line an 8 ½ x 12 ½ inch jellyroll pan with nonstick parchment paper. Spread the carrots mixture evenly over the bottom and cover with the pastry, pressing it down and trimming it to fit the pan. Prick the pastry all over, and then bake in a preheated oven, at 400°F, for 15 minutes, until puffy, golden brown, and crisp.
Let the tart cool completely, and then turn it out onto a board so that the carrots are on top. Use a rolling pizza cutter and cut it into 12 squares and over the top sprinkle the coarsely chopped arugula
Source: Adapted from The Best of Rose Elliot by Rose Elliot
Photo Information Canon T2i, EFS 60 mm Macro Lens, F/4 for 1/50th second at ISO‑1250
Last month I posted this recipe for a classic Syrian dip that can only be described as addictive. For your Super Bowl party, I heartily recommend this combination of red peppers, bread, nuts, and spices.
But, I just wanted to mention that Suzen and I have been experimenting with “non-dip” uses. We have tried muhammara on grilled steaks and chicken. The conclusion: very, very yummy. And, there’s a real side benefit here. As a condiment, muhammara is a low salt alternative to, say, steak sauces like Worcestershire sauce. You’ll get a smashingly intense flavor here that is a match for that “ping” in your mouth that comes from biting into the black crust of steak or poultry.
Muhammara or Roasted Red Pepper and Walnut Dip
Yield: serves 6 to 8 as a dip
- 3 large red bell peppers
- 1 slice of day-old sourdough bread, cut into small pieces
- 2/3 cup walnut halves, coarsely chopped
- ½ teaspoon dried hot pepper flakes
- 1 tablespoon sun-dried tomato paste
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra to serve
- Chopped pistachios, to sprinkle
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Toasted flatbread, roughly torn, to serve
Cook the peppers one at a time by skewering each one on a fork and holding it directly over a gas flame for 10-15 minutes until the skin is blackened all over. Alternatively, put them on a baking sheet and then in an oven preheated to 425°F. Cook them for about 10-15 minutes, until the skin has puffed up and blackened all over. Transfer to a bowl, cover with a kitchen towel, and leave until cool enough to handle.
Using your hands, remove the skin and seeds from the peppers and tear the flesh into pieces. (Avoid rinsing with water as this will remove that desired smoky flavor.). Put the flesh in a food processor and add the remaining ingredients. Process to a coarse paste. Season with salt and pepper and transfer to a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 8 hours or ideally overnight to allow the flavors to fully develop.
To serve, bring the dip to room temperature and transfer to a shallow bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with the chopped pistachios. Serve with torn toasted flatbreads. It will keep in airtight container in the refrigerator for 4-5 days.
Source: Home-Grown Harvest from the publisher Ryland Peters & Small