Oranges with Caramel, Ginger and Mint

 

plum

 

 

Growing up in Europe, the Cook Sisters have childhood memories of Christmas dinner ending with a fiery plum pudding. It was made a year ahead of time, then steamed for a couple of hours before arriving at the table doused with flaming rum and served up warm with rum butter and Christmas crackers. The fact that we never actually liked the pudding itself never stopped this Old World tradition from being our favorite part of the meal. Scroll forward a few decades, and today we have our own traditions. We offer up this dessert for consideration. It makes a great dinner-party dessert because it’s not heavy, and it’s healthy, which leaves diners feeling virtuous. What could be better to end a Christmas dinner? Don’t answer that. Just enjoy this. We demoed this for Brookside back in 2011. 

oranges5 seedless oranges, such as navel
2 T crystalized ginger
1/3 C sugar
8-10 mint leaves (optional)

Zest one orange and reserve. Trim oranges of their skin and white pith; reserve top and bottom for juice. Cut trimmed orange in half lengthwise and remove core. Lay the halves flat and cut into half-moons. Arrange orange slices on a platter. Using a small paring knife, dice crystalized ginger; mix with orange zest and scatter over orange slices. In a small, heavy saucepan, heat 2 T water and the sugar until they begin to boil. Turn the heat to medium and simmer 5 minutes until sugar turns to medium brown; remove from heat. Carefully drizzle caramelized sugar over prepared orange slices; the sugar will bubble and sizzle and harden in place. Squeeze juice from reserved orange ends over the caramel. Scatter mint over all and serve within an hour for maximum crunchiness.


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.


Pan-Fried Halloumi with Fennel, Olive & Mint

halloumi

 

 

Halloumi is the cheese you can cook. It doesn’t melt, it just gets a nice crust on the outside when you pan-fry or grill it. Salty, chewy and intense, the cheese is a favorite in Cyprus, its country of origin, where in the summer it is commonly served grilled with tomatoes or watermelon. Halloumi is becoming increasingly popular around the globe and when you try this recipe you’ll understand its following. High in protein — the cheese is typically made from goat or sheep’s milk — it’s a great substitute for meat in vegetarian diets. This treatment makes it a good choice as a first course. Served as a side with a rice pilaf or lentil stew, you have a lovely filling meal you won’t soon forget.  The remaining half of the fennel bulb can be added to a roast vegetable to accompany this or your next meal. This recipe was adapted by Adrienne, who demoed it at USBG September 16 2015.

3 T olive oil
½ medium fennel bulb, cored and cut into 1/4-inch dice (about 1-1/4 cups)
½ medium yellow onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice (about 3/4 cup)
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
12 pitted Kalamata olives, slivered (about 1/3 cup)
1/4 t red pepper flakes
1 t finely grated lemon zest
1/3 C minced fresh mint
1 8-oz. package halloumi cheese, cut into 1/4- to 3/8-inch-thick slices

Heat 2 T olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat until hot. Add the fennel and onions, cover and cook gently, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to soften (but don’t let them brown), 2-3 min. Reduce the heat to medium low, add 1/4 t salt and 1/4 t pepper and continue to cook until the vegetables soften completely, another 2-3 min. Turn the heat to low and stir in the olives, lemon zest, mint. Transfer to a bowl and reserve.

Wipe out skillet and add remaining olive oil; heat on medium high until hot, about 1 minute. Working in batches if necessary to avoid crowding the pan, cook the halloumi until golden in spots, about 2 min. Flip and cook until the second side of each slice is golden, about 2 min. more. Reduce the heat as needed if the halloumi is browning too fast.

Shingle the halloumi on a serving platter. Stir the vegetables and spoon over the halloumi, drizzle with hot olive oil from skillet. Serve immediately.


Peach & Heirloom Tomato Salad

marinated-peach-tomato-salad-recipe_xlg3 C Sherry Vinegar and Rosemary Marinated Peaches, drained, marinade reserved

1 t Dijon mustard
4 large heirloom tomatoes (about 2 lb.), cored and sliced into 1/2-inch-thick rounds Flaky sea salt, such as Maldon, and freshly ground black pepper

8 medium fresh mint leaves, torn

 

In a small bowl, whisk together the reserved marinade and the Dijon; it’s OK if it doesn’t emulsify. Arrange the tomato slices on 4 plates or a platter, top with the peaches, and drizzle some of the vinaigrette over the top. Season lightly with salt and pepper and garnish with the mint. Pass any remaining vinaigrette at the table. Serves 4.

 

 

Sherry Vinegar and Rosemary Marinated Peaches

This savory marinade balances peaches’ natural sweetness with the complex tartness of sherry vinegar. Fresh rosemary adds earthy pine notes, olive oil lends richness, and rum contributes a bit of spice. The marinade also softens the skins, which means you can skip the tedious task of blanching and peeling the peaches. These peaches are delicious in salsas, salads, topping flatbreads and pizzas, and in braises.

 

3 medium ripe peaches, pitted and sliced, diced, or cut into wedges

1/3 C extra-virgin olive oil
2 ½ T spiced dark rum (optional)
2 T sherry vinegar

2 t finely chopped fresh rosemary Pinch kosher salt
Pinch of sugar

Gently combine all of the ingredients in a medium bowl and let marinate at room temperature for at least 20 minutes and up to 24 hours. After marinating, you can refrigerate the peaches for up to 1 day.

 


Winter Slaw of Fennel, Carrots, Cucumber and Orange

A crispy, crunchy bite in every mouthful — and packed with Vitamin C to boot — this slaw makes a great side or even a condiment on a bbq pork sandwich or turkey burger.

1 large fennel bulb (about ½ lb), stalks and fronds removed, bulb cut into large chunks and rinsed
2 large carrots
1 small cucumber, peeled, quartered, seeded and very thinly sliced
1 orange (navel, Cara or blood if available), peel removed with a knife and segmented,
OR peel removed with a knife, sliced into rounds and rounds cut into quarters
½ C golden raisins
¼ C apple cider vinegar (for a sweeter taste, use ½ C fresh apple cider)
½ C olive oil
Sea salt and pepper to taste
Fresh dill or fresh mint, chopped – for garnish (optional)
½ C walnuts, chopped – optional

Put the raisins and the apple cider vinegar in a small bowl and let soak while you prepare the slaw. In a food processor fitted with the shred blade, drop the chunks of fennel one at a time to grate. Transfer to a salad bowl. Do the same for the carrots and add them to the fennel. Thinly slice the quartered, peeled, seeded cucumber either with a knife or on a mandolin. Add them to the salad bowl along with the orange segments.

Whisk the olive oil directly into the raisins and vinegar; season with salt and pepper. Pour the dressing over the slaw and mix well. (Note: if your vegetables are quite large, you may need to double the amount of dressing.) Let the slaw sit in the refrigerator for a couple of hours and toss every now and again. Serve chilled, garnished with fresh chopped dill or mint and/or walnuts. Serves 4-6.