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White Bean Dip

White Bean Dip

I always multitask in the kitchen, well; like a lot of people, I have to if I want to get things done! Especially if I am entertaining. Most of the time, it works really well, a stew can be simmering on the stovetop, while bread is slowly rising on the counter and dessert baking in the oven, and I can be in an out of the kitchen for hours but things don’t always go as planned, disasters do happen, even to a simple bean dish. I was setting the table, playing with Sara, answering the phone, organizing while the beans were simmering on the stove, or so I thought for the first little while, then I completely forgot about them and when I went to check, they had turned into mush. I was frustrated that I could no longer make the bean salad but wanting to salvage them, I turned them into a white bean dip.

Our favorite white bean dip recipe uses canned beans and parsley, it has a good texture but not a great texture, this one however has a silky smooth texture, almost mousse like. I guess that’s because the beans in the can are not overcooked and mushy like the beans I used. The recipe below makes a lot of dip and keeps well refrigerated for 3-4 days.

  • 1 ½ cup dried white beans
  • 1 onion, peeled and quartered
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6-8 sprigs of thyme
  • 1-2 lemons
  • 4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3-4 garlic cloves
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Wash and soak the beans in cold water overnight, drain and put in a medium pot along with the onion, bay leaves and thyme, cover with cold water and bring it to a boil and simmer until the beans are very, very tender, add more water if necessary.

Drain and remove the bay leaves and the thyme, transfer the beans to a food processor, puree for about a minute, add the zest and juice of 1 lemon, olive oil and garlic cloves, pulse until it looks smooth. Season with salt and pepper, add more lemon juice if necessary. Transfer to a serving bowl and refrigerate. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil.

White Bean Dip

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Chestnut Cheesecake

Chestnut Cheesecake

Cheesecakes are one of those seasonless desserts but once you add chestnuts, it becomes the perfect dessert for winter, especially for the New Year’s Eve. I adapted this recipe from Nigella Lawson’s Feast: Food to Celebrate Life.  She uses a Graham cracker crust and adds chestnut purée both to the crust and the batter. The cheesecake was easy to make, didn’t have a single crack and had a very nice texture. I skipped the syrup completely and decorated the cheesecake with candied chestnuts.

For the base:

  • 1 1/3 cup Graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/2 stick butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon sweetened chestnut purée

For the cheesecake:

  • 2 cups cream cheese, at room temperature
  • ½ cup superfine sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • ½ vanilla bean
  • 1 cup sweetened chestnut purée

To decorate:

  • Candied chestnuts (optional)

Chestnut Cheesecake

Preheat the oven to 350F, line a 9 inch springform pan with parchment paper, and cover the bottom with two pieces of aluminum paper. The cheesecake is baked in a water bath so it’s important to cover the springform pan very well.

For the base mix the Graham cracker crumbs with melted butter and the chestnut puree, spread it evenly on the prepared pan and refrigerate.

Put the cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of a food processor with the eggs and the egg yolks, pulse until smooth, add the lemon juice, scrape the seeds of half a vanilla bean and add to the cream cheese mixture, finally add the sweetened chestnut purée, mix well and pour the mixture into the prepared cake pan.

Place the spingform pan in a roasting pan and pour very hot water into the roastin pan and bake for about an hour, the cheesecake should be set but still be a little soft in the middle, make sure not to over bake it.

Once the cheesecake is cooked, remove it from the roasting pan and let it cool to room temperature, refrigerate for at least 8 hours, overnight is best.

Remove the cheesecake from the pan and transfer to a serving platter, decorate with candied chestnuts if using and cut with a knife dipped in hot water to make clean slices.

Chestnut Cheesecake


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Roasted Leg of Lamb with Potatoes

Roasted Leg of Lamb with Potatoes

This is my mom’s signature lamb recipe, the marinade is quite simple, onion, lemon juice, herbs and spices, not only it tenderizes the meat but it also makes it especially tasty. Roasted leg of lamb is an ideal dish to make for company because it only takes minutes to prepare the marinade and all you need to do is to put it in a preheated oven and wait for it to be ready while you take care of other things. I don’t bother making gravy to go with it; I simply skim off the fat of the juices from the roasting pan. I served this with a pomegranate, walnut and scallion salad.

  • 1 leg of lamb
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2-3 rosemary sprigs
  • 3-4 thyme sprigs
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  •  

Roasted Leg of Lamb with Potatoes

Roasted Leg of Lamb with Potatoes

Roasted Potatoes:

  • 2-3 pounds nugget potatoes
  • 10 whole garlic cloves
  • 1-2 fresh rosemary sprigs
  • 3-4 fresh thyme sprigs
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  •  

Roasted Leg of Lamb with Potatoes

To make the marinade, grate the onion with a box grater or chop it very finely in a food processor, mix in the rest of the ingredients except for the salt and let the lamb marinate for a few hours, or preferably overnight.

Preheat the oven to 375F.

For a medium rare to medium leg of lamb, place a rack on large roasting pan, season generously with salt, put the leg of lamb with the fat side up and bake for about 2 hours or until a meat thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the meat registers 135-140F. Transfer the leg of lamb to a serving platter, tent with a piece of aluminum paper while the potatoes are browning.

For a fork tender, fall of the bone leg of lamb, marinate the lamb as above, season with salt and use either an oven bag or cover the lamb first with parchment paper and then with aluminum foil, bake for 2 ½ – 3 hours or until the leg of lamb is golden brown and has a nice, crisp crust. Open the bag; transfer the leg of lamb to a serving platter, tent with a piece of aluminum paper while the potatoes are browning. Pour the juices to a small saucepan, skim off the fat and keep it warm until ready to serve.

For the roasted potatoes, start roasting 10-15 minutes before the lamb is done.  Halve or quarter the potatoes depending on their size, remove the stems of the rosemary and the thyme, mix with the potatoes and garlic, season liberally with salt and pepper and pour a little olive oil, mix well and spread on a baking sheet. Bake for 10-15 minutes; increase the oven temperature to 450F after removing the lamb from the oven and continue baking until golden.

Put the potatoes around the lamb in the serving platter and serve immediately.

Roasted Leg of Lamb with Potatoes

Roasted Leg of Lamb with Potatoes

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Cheese Croquettes

Cheese Croquettes

Vermont is one of my favourite places to visit; it’s beautiful during all seasons, especially in the fall. We returned with an award winning 3 year old Cheddar cheese from our last trip to Vermont. The cheese is hard, crumbly and has a nice sharp taste, we love it! I rarely cook with it though, we eat it as is but when I was looking through Rachel Allen’s cookbook Food for Living and I could not resist making a batch of the Dutch cheese croquettes with that cheese. I very rarely make fried food but they sure sounded good and I wanted to give the recipe a try. The recipe called for chives, which I didn’t have on hand, so instead I infused the milk with onion, garlic, herbs and spices.

The croquette mixture is quite simple, it starts with a roux, then, milk, egg yolks and cheese is added. The resulting fried croquette has a crispy golden brown outside and an ooey gooey inside. The croquettes can be made couple of days in advance and fried right before serving.

  • 100 grams butter
  • 100 grams flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 medium onion, peeled
  • 2 cloves
  • 4-5 thyme sprigs
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 250 grams sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • 2 egg yolks
  • Freshly ground black pepper

To coat the croquettes

  • 100 grams flour
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Bread crumbs
  • ¼- ½ cup oil for frying

Stud the onion with cloves, place it in a saucepan along with the milk, thyme, garlic and the bay leaf, bring it to a boil, remove from the heat and cover with a lid. Meanwhile, heat the butter in a medium saucepan over medium high heat, add the flour and whisk for about a minute. Remove the onion and the herbs and pour the milk into the roux to make a thick paste. Turn off the heat and let it stand for a few minutes, then mix in the egg yolks and the grated cheese, season with freshly ground black pepper and refrigerate for a couple of hours.

To make the croquettes, shape about a tablespoon or two of the mixture between your hands, dip first into the flour then in eggs and finally in bread crumbs. Place the prepared croquettes on a tray and refrigerate until ready to fry.

For frying, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat and cook the croquettes on all sides until golden brown.

Cheese Croquettes

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Hazelnut Crusted Fish over Mashed Celeriac

Hazelnut Crusted Fish over Mashed Celeriac

I love using nuts in both sweet and savoury dishes; they add a nice crunch, delicious taste and good, healthy fats to our diet. They can also replace bread crumbs like in this recipe to make a low carbohydrate and gluten free dish. I like to use mild tasting fishes with a white flesh that will hold their shape while cooking. I usually use tilapia, halibut or mahi mahi.

The nutty taste of the fish pairs really nicely with celeriac. If you have never tasted celeriac before, give it a try, it has a mellow flavour that reminds of celery but not quite as intense, it also makes a great alternative to mashed potatoes. It’s low in carbs and full of potassium.

  • 4 medium fish fillets
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 1/4 cup ground hazelnuts (or more depending on the size of the fish)
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1-2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Mashed Celeriac:

  • 1 large celeriac
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter

Hazelnut Crusted Fish over Mashed Celeriac

Put about a cup of water and the bay leaves in a pot with a steam basket, peel and cut the celeriac and cook until soft. Discard the bay leaves and transfer the celeriac to a food processor and pulse until smooth, season with salt and pepper. Melt the butter and let it take on a light golden colour, almost like a beurre noisette but make sure it doesn’t get too dark as that will mask the mild taste of the celeriac, mix the butter with the celeriac puree and keep it warm while you prepare the fish.

Pat dry the fish with paper towels, set aside. Whisk the egg white with a fork to break it, liberally salt and pepper the ground hazelnuts. Dip the fish first in the egg white, then in the hazelnut mixture, shake of the excess.

Heat the butter and olive oil over medium high heat in a large skillet; place the fish presentation side down and cook until golden, turn and cook the other side. Serve the fish over the pureed celeriac.

Hazelnut Crusted Fish over Mashed Celeriac


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