Sweet Potato Rounds with Cilantro Pesto

Use fairly skinny sweet potatoes that are pretty even to avoid rounds of different dimensions and to keep the appetizers bite-sized. This recipe comes from the farmer’s market at St. Stephen’s Church in Richmond VA.  If you’re ever in the area on a Saturday morning, it’s well worth stopping in and checking it out. Adrienne demoed tghe recipe for our Holiday Buffet extravaganza at Brookside Gardens in Wheaton MD December 2015.

2 pounds sweet potatoes
1 T olive oil
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the pesto:
2 bunches cilantro
¾ C unsweetened shredded coconut
¾ C shelled pistachios
4 cloves garlic
1 hot pepper, such as jalapeño or Thai, optional
1 lemon, juiced
¼ C olive oil
Salt to taste

Heat the oven to 450°F. Slice the sweet potatoes in rounds about 1/2-inch thick. Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet and brush with the olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast 10 minutes, flip and roast five more minutes until just tender and slightly browned.

While the sweet potatoes are roasting, make the pesto. Roughly chop the cilantro and blend both leaves and stems with the coconut, pistachios, garlic, hot pepper (if using), and lemon juice. Add 2 tablespoons of oil and blend until smooth. Add the rest, if desired. Taste and add salt (or more garlic, or more acid) until satisfied. If desired, thin the pesto with water to make it spreadable.


Pear Gorgonzola Triangles

gorgonzola-pear-turnovers-inside

 

You can assemble these ahead of time and keep them in the freezer or refrigerator until you need them. Bake a few to serve with our Hungarian Mushroom Soup for a hearty and delicious pick-up lunch – make the soup ahead of time too. We baked them up for our holiday buffet at Brookside in December 2015. Adapted from the blog out of Vancouver called Baking Obsession.

1 # homemade puff pastry or good quality store-bought
2 large pears, peeled, cored, finely chopped
2 t lemon juice
1/3 C raw sugar
1/3 C dry cranberries
1/3 C finely chopped hazelnuts
3 oz Gorgonzola, crumbled
1 t finely chopped fresh thyme
1 egg beaten with 1 tbsp water for egg wash
Coarse raw sugar for sprinkling

Center the oven rack and preheat the oven to 375F. Line two large baking sheets with silicone mats or non-stick aluminum. In a small bowl, combine all filling ingredients. On a lightly floured surface, roll out half of the puff pastry (keep another half refrigerated) into a square about 11×11-inches. Trim the edges to get a perfect 10×10-inches square. Using a pizza wheel, make two vertical and two horizontal cuts through the equal intervals to get 9 smaller squares. Spoon about a tablespoon of filling in the center of each square, brush two edges with a little bit of egg wash and fold the pastry over to make a triangle. Press the edges well to seal. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet. Chill for about 20 minutes before baking. Meanwhile, work on the other half of puff pastry. Once chilled, brush the triangles with the egg wash being careful not to drip any excess onto the baking sheet (it will prevent proper rising), sprinkle with some coarse sugar, make small holes on the top of each turnover for steam to escape, and bake for about 25 minutes, until puffed and golden brown. Cool on a rack until warm and serve.


Roasted Eggplant Spread with Pomegranate

EggplantPomegranateSpreadGlutenfree

 

 

Adapted from one of our favorite cookbook authors, Yotam Ottolenghi’s, Ottolenghi: the Cookbook. Pomegranate molasses is available locally at Yekta’s on Rockville Pike and at Thomas Market  in Wheaton. There are several Persian markets in the Virginia suburbs that also carry it.

1 medium eggplant
2/3 C Greek yogurt (whole milk or low fat)
2 T olive oil
1-2 T pomegranate molasses
1 T fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 small clove garlic, minced
Sea salt to taste
pomegranate arils

PomegranateRoast the eggplant: make 2 or 3 slits in the eggplant (to help release steam) and place directly under the broiler. Broil until eggplant is very soft and cooked, about 10-15 minutes. The skins will burn and peel and may burst; turn the eggplant over once during the cooking to ensure it chars on both sides. Remove from oven, place in a colander over a bowl to allow the eggplant to cool and drain off bitter juices. Once cool, carefully remove the skin and scrape all the flesh you can and transfer to a separate bowl. Stir in the yogurt, oil, pomegranate molasses, lemon, garlic and some salt. Whisk well with a fork – you want the spread to be thick like a dip, not a sauce. Taste and adjust for the right balance of flavor – it should be sweetly sharp and very flavorful. If it’s too sharp, add olive oil or more yogurt. Garnish with pomegranate arils and serve with warm pita wedges or chips. Serves 4-6 as an appetizer.


Baker’s Dozen Holiday Recipes from the Archives

Below are some of the dishes we’ve worked on over the years that have made their way to our holiday tables. We have many favorites, and more can be found by searching the website under a particular ingredient (Adrienne’s Persimmon Pudding, anyone?).  Wishing that the holidays find you in a place of love and good food.  Just bring your appetite!

FigCranberryRelish

 

A wonderful new twist on cranberry relish, try this with your turkey this year.

Cranberry-Fig Chutney

 

deviledeggs-asparagusWe re-introduced these perennial favorites at a demo at US Botanic Garden earlier in the fall and decided they would be on our holiday buffet table.

Asparagus Deviled Eggs

 

 

ombre

 

 

This dish has such special beauty, it will make your holiday table look spectacular and it tastes pretty great too.

Ombre Carrots and Chard

 

 

carrotAnother one that would work great for the buffet table or serve the souffles as hors d’oeuvres, without the extra veggies, but topped with a small dollop of mascarpone, softened to room temperature.

Mini Carrot Souffles with Baby Vegetables

 

creamy greensKids (kids!) can’t get enough of this. A must for our Thanksgiving table.

Creamy Winter Greens au Gratin

slaw

 

A sprightly twist on Brussels sprouts that will enliven any holiday buffet.

Brussels sprouts with lemon and hazelnuts

 

Lemon Pepper Green Beans {Blogsgiving 2015} // The Speckled PalateThanksgiving brings out the competitive spirit in our family and the sweet potato dish is at the forefront when it comes to making the best side. This one’s likely to win hands-down — and no one will miss the marshmallows.

 

Bourbon Sweet Potato Casserole

 

citrus-salad-spiced-honey-sl-l

 

 

Gorgeous on the dessert table, but equally at home as an accompaniment to ham, pork, a lovely roast tenderloin. Use your imagination but count this one in.

 

                       Citrus Salad with Spiced Honey

butternut

 

With a bright, addictive flavor that is all holiday and deeply warming, this soup is a winter staple in our household. Freeze it for drop-in guests or roll it out on a blustery day that sends you scrambling for comfort food, even just for lunch.

Butternut-Tangerine Soup

 

shrub

 

We love this as a refreshing non-alcoholic drink, but it’s also a great flavoring for alcoholic drinks — try it with a shot of vodka or drizzled in a chablis or sauvignon blanc.

                                                            Cranberry-Lime Shrub

red cabbage

 

There are plenty of ways to fix red cabbage, the perennial favorite for the holiday buffet or dinner table. This one adds the crunch and flavor of chestnuts. What a great marriage.

Red Cabbage with Chestnuts

beans

 

Tired of green bean casserole? Try these and be prepared for a new Thanksgiving tradition at your table.

Green Beans with Meyer Lemon

salad

 

If you like to combine the cheese and salad course, try this salad, which, like the cheese platter, includes fruit and nuts.

Radicchio, Pear and Pecan Salad


Tahini Sauce with Nut Pesto and Pomegranate Seeds

 

tahini

 

 

This combination has it all – tart lemon, crunchy nuts, sweet pomegranate seeds. It’s also chock full of nutrition and it’s versatile. Great over grilled or sauteed fish, grilled chicken or roasted or grilled lamb and even vegetables.  You could serve it as a dip or toss a salad with it.  Pomegranate molasses is a staple of Middle Eastern cuisine and can be found in specialty food stores or on line.  There’s nothing quite like it, but you can substitute balsamic syrup, made by boiling down balsamic vinegar until it becomes slightly syrupy.  We adapted this from Fine Cooking and demoed it last January. We’re rolling it out again for our September 2015 Mediterranean demos at the US Botanic Garden in honor of its new exhibit from the region. This time, Danielle had the pleasure of making this dish, served on pita bread.

Tahini sauce

6 T tahini (sesame seed paste, available in supermarket health food section)
4 t fresh lemon juice
1 small clove garlic, crushed
½ t ground cumin
Kosher salt

For the nut-herb topping

¼ C toasted, finely chopped almonds
¼ C toasted, finely chopped walnuts
¼ C finely chopped fresh cilantro
3 T. finely chopped red onion
2½  T extra-virgin olive oil
2 T finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 T finely chopped fresh mint
1/8 t crushed red pepper flakes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Garnish

¼ C pomegranate arils (see note, above)
2 t pomegranate molasses

Make the tahini sauce

Process the tahini, lemon juice, garlic, cumin, ¼ t salt, and 5 T water in a food processor until smooth, about 1 minute.

Make the nut-herb topping

In a medium bowl, gently toss the almonds, walnuts, cilantro, onion, olive oil, parsley, mint, and pepper flakes with ¼t salt and 1/8 t pepper until well combined. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper, if necessary.

Serve the tahini sauce sprinkled with the nut-herb mixture and topped with pomegranate seeds. Drizzle pomegranate molasses.