Simple Poached Pears with Miso Butterscotch

pearsThe pears you can poach in any number of ways – this is perhaps the simplest. I vary the poaching liquid depending on what pears I use and what I’m in the mood for that day – so red wine, white wine, especially a slightly sweeter one such as a Moscato, vanilla, cinnamon, cloves, orange peel – some combination of these might be incorporated at any given time. Try different pears too, though Bosc is probably the go-to just for superior texture once cooked. What doesn’t change is the incredible Miso Butterscotch sauce, below, which really sets these pears apart. Miso paste, a fermented bean paste from Japan, is available in nearly all supermarkets and certainly at Asian groceries. It’s sold near the tofu in the refrigerated section of the market or with the international foods in shelf-stable packaging. Either version is good, though Danielle prefers the refrigerated versions as the fermentation is fresher. The recipe is from Mark Bittman of the New York Times. This recipe was demoed at USBG September 11, 2014. Read More


Strawberry White Chocolate Mousse

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This is a rich dessert ideally served in expresso cups or small clear glass dessert cups. For a really special occasion, serve in chocolate shells. Decadent white chocolate and intense strawberry combine to make this one of your more memorable treats. Make it the day ahead for best results.  Use a chilled bowl to whip the cream to perfection. Adrienne demoed this in May 2014. Read More


Spinach Soup with Sumac and Feta

spinach soup

Sumac’s name comes from the Arabic word for red, which is the color of the spice, sumac, widely used in Middle Eastern cuisine.  It has a tangy flavor not unlike lemon but distinct.  You can find sumac at any good spice shop, such as Penzey’s, or markets that sell Middle Eastern or Indian ingredients.  You can also find it on line — there’s a link below in the ingredients list.  The spice comes from the sumac bush, which grows all over the world.  The type that is made into a spice is sweet sumac, or aromatic sumac.  The fruits are dried and ground into a powder. Poison sumac (there are more than 250 species of sumac)  is distinguished by white fruits rather than red or orange.  Poison sumac can cause an allergic reaction like poison ivy.  If you don’t have sumac for this recipe, substitute lemon juice and/or lemon zest.  This was part of our demo with a large class on a beautiful Wednesday at Brookside Gardens February 19, 2014. Read More


panna cotta

Panna Cotta translates as “cooked cream,” but in this recipe it is not so much cooked as warmed and then thickened with gelatine and sour cream to achieve the thick, heavy cream found in Italy’s Piedmont region, where this dish originated. We demoed this recipe at Brookside Gardens on December 6, 2013, accompanied by mandarin oranges and chocolate syrup. It is also delicious all on its own.  Use heavy cream, not ultrapasturized, which contains additives, and be sure the sour cream contains only cream and culture, no other additives. This recipe unmolds with a soft, creamy finish. For a firmer panna cotta, increase the gelatin to 1 3/4 teaspoons. Serves eight full-sized desserts; up to 24 minis. Recipe from Splendid Table. Read More


Rutabaga Bisque with Smoked Paprika

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Consider the much overlooked rutabaga: It delivers potassium and fiber at the same rate as the potato, but with nearly twice the vitamin C and half the carbs.  Folks often don’t know what to do with the beefy root vegetable with the gentle apricot-hued flesh. The rutabaga’s slight turnip tang belies its high sugar content, which renders it sweet on the tongue.  Use it as you would a potato and rejoice in the carbs you are saving. This soup pairs the sweetness of rutabaga with the rich flavor of smoked paprika, an inspired match that intensifies the root’s color and lifts the flavor unto the sublime. Adapted with gratitude from Chow. Read More


Butternut Squash Gratin with Yukon Potatoes & Apples

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Comfort food at its best, this hearty, tasty au gratin builds on the traditional potatoes au gratin but with lots more nutrient value and a complexity of flavor.  Don’t be afraid of the half-cup of heavy cream — the recipe serves six to eight, so the per-serving amount of cream is about a tablespoon.  If you’re avoiding dairy, replace the butter with olive oil and the cream with coconut milk. This makes a great Thanksgiving side dish.  We demoed this at our October 23, 2013 Brookside Gardens class. Read More