Burrata with Balsamic & Honey Glazed Butternut Squash and Pomegranate Seeds

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When it comes to entertaining friends or family, my preference goes into making simple dishes so that I can also enjoy their company, instead of being fully occupied in the kitchen. This is a super easy appetizer that you can make in advance and just garnish before serving. I sliced the butternut into very small cubes and then glazed it in a pan with balsamic vinegar and honey. It goes so well with the creamy burrata and the slight tartness of the pomegranate seeds. This is a perfect use for burrata this fall/winter.

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This recipe is for one burrata, but you can always double or triple it if you are feeding a large crowd.

Ingredients:

For the glazed butternut squash:

2 cups of finely cubed butternut squash

1 ½ tablespoons of olive oil

Pinch of salt

Pinch of cayenne

2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar

1 ½ teaspoons of honey

Extras:

1/4 cup of pomegranate seeds

1 baguette, sliced and toasted with olive oil

Chili flakes

Garden cress

A drizzle of olive oil

 

To make the glazed butternut squash, place the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the diced butternut squash, salt and cayenne. Cook for about 4 minutes, stirring from time to time. Then add the balsamic vinegar and cook for an extra 3 minutes until it has reduced, don’t forget to stir. Finally add the honey and cook for an extra 2 minutes. Taste it and adjust the salt and cayenne to your liking. Transfer it to a bowl and allow it to cool down a bit.

In the meanwhile, toast the bread with some olive oil.

To serve, place about ¾ of the butternut squash on a plate. Place the burrata on top. Add the remaining butternut squash on top of the burrata. Finish with a sprinkle of chili flakes, garden cress and a drizzle of olive oil. Serve with the toasted bread. Enjoy!

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Baked Sweet Potato with Almond, Parmesan and Sage Crumble (gluten free)

This is an old recipe that was in need of an update. I love sage butter, especially mixed with freshly grated Parmesan cheese. So I thought of making a savory crumble to top some baked sweet potatoes. I used almond meal instead of normal flour and it was delicious. It’s super easy to make. You can have it as a side for thanksgiving or friends-giving. This recipe makes enough crumble for 5 sweet potatoes but you can always double it.

Ingredients:

5 medium sweet potatoes, roasted

1 cup of almond meal

60gr of grated Parmesan cheese

13 fresh sage leaves, chopped

4 tablespoons of butter, cold

Salt to taste

Pepper to taste

Cayenne to taste

Extra:

A few sage leaves

Vegetable oil for frying the leaves

 

First bake the sweet potatoes in the oven at 180C/350F until tender, about 1 hour.

Once the sweet potatoes are cooked, cut the sweet potatoes lengthwise but not all the way to the bottom. Try to make a pocket for the crumble.

To make the crumble, just mix all of the ingredients in a bowl, using your fingers or a fork. You want the texture to resemble breadcrumbs.

Spoon the crumble on top of the sweet potato and broil until it becomes golden. To serve, you can sprinkle some thinly sliced sage or a few fried sage leaves. To fry the leaves, just heat about 1/2 cup of vegetable oil in a small pan. Once it is hot, fry the sage leaves for about 3-5 seconds. Then transfer them to a plate lined with paper towels. Enjoy!

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Onion Jam Wreaths

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I’ve wanted to make savory bread again and yesterday I made these wreaths. Thinking onion soup meets rolls in a way. The bread is very soft and the sweetness of the onions really comes through in the jam. These make a great appetizer or side dish to a soup.

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This recipe makes 2 medium wreaths.

Ingredients:

For the dough:

3 ½ cups of all-purpose flour

7grs of dry yeast

½ cup of warm water

½ cup of milk

6 sprigs of thyme, leaves only

1 teaspoon of salt

4 tablespoons of olive oil

1 egg

1 tablespoon of sugar

¼ cup of grated Parmesan cheese

For the onion jam:

4 tablespoons of olive oil

8 medium white onions, thinly sliced

Salt

Pepper

1/3 cup of white wine

¼ cup of balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon of sugar

4 sprigs of thyme, leaves only

Extra:

Egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon of water)

 

Place the yeast and the warm water in the bowl of the stand mixer. Let it stand for 5 minutes.

After the 5 minutes are up, add the remaining ingredients for the dough. Knead on low speed for 5 minutes, using the dough hook attachment. You can also knead it by hand.

Then remove the dough from the bowl. Clean the bowl and grease it with a bit of vegetable oil.  Form the dough into a ball and place it back into the greased bowl. Cover with plastic film and let it rise for 1 hour in a warm place.

While the dough is rising, start making the onion jam. Place the olive oil and sliced onions in a large pan over medium heat. Add some salt and pepper and cook for about 14 minutes. Stir from time to time until the onions have caramelized. Then add the white wine, balsamic vinegar, sugar and thyme. Let it cook while stirring until all of the liquid has evaporated. Taste for salt and pepper. Blend it until smooth. Set it aside to cool down.

Once the dough has risen, place it on a floured working area and divide it into 2 equal pieces.

Roll one piece into a large rectangle of about 35x24cm. Spread some of the onion jam all over the dough. Roll it lengthwise like a tight crepe. Cut the crepe in half trying to make a clean cut, except on one end. Then start twisting the 2 pieces, make sure the opened side showing the onion jam is facing up. Pinch the ends to seal them. Finally form a circle with it, tuck the ends underneath and give it a pinch to seal them. Repeat for the other piece of dough.

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Place each wreath on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Grease with some vegetable oil two large pieces of plastic wrap. Cover the wreaths with them, greased side touching them (this will prevent them from sticking to the plastic). Let the wreaths rise for 1 hour in a warm place.

About 10 minutes before the wreaths are done rising, preheat your oven to 180C/350F.

Once the hour is up, brush each wreath with the egg wash. If you want, you can sprinkle them with some sea salt. Bake them for 18 minutes or till golden. Enjoy!

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Quince, Pear & Ginger Pie

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I made this pie last week; it was quite relaxing to just spend time making all the small and tiny leaves for the top crust. I made the filling by poaching quince, pear & ginger, and then adding ginger syrup & ginger jam.

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This recipe is enough for one 23cm pie and 2 mini pies.

Ingredients:

For the pie crust:

3 ¾ cups of all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons of granulated sugar

¾ teaspoon of salt

340gr of cold butter, chopped into pieces (I used salted butter, but you can use unsalted butter)

10 tablespoons of cold water

For the filling:

For poaching:

700gr of quince (peeled, cored and chopped into big pieces)

700gr of pears like Bosc (peeled, cored and chopped into big pieces)

1 piece of ginger, peeled and chopped (total of about 3 tablespoons)

½ cup of sugar

2 cinnamon sticks

Rest of the filling:

2 tablespoons of ginger syrup

Zest of 1 lemon

2 tablespoons of ginger jam

Juice of 1 lemon

1 ½ teaspoon of cornstarch

To finish the pie:

Egg wash

Granulated sugar for sprinkling on top of the pie crust

 

Start by making the pie crust, you can make it in the food processor, or in the stand mixer. I used my stand mixer fitted with the flat beater. Place the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of the stand mixer. Add the cold butter pieces, mix it with a spatula. Then mix on low speed for about 2 minutes. Then add the cold water. Mix on low speed for a couple of minutes until you have an even dough.

Divide the dough into 3 parts, one part a bit larger than the other 2. Pat them down with your hands, forming a circle with each piece. Keep the larger piece on a floured working area. Wrap the 2 remaining pieces with plastic wrap and place them in the freezer for 1 hour.

Roll out the piece of dough that you left on your working area. Dust with enough flour so it doesn’t stick. Roll it big enough to cover the bottom of the large pie mold. Place the dough on the bottom of the pie mold, press with your fingers so the sides stick and trim the edges. Repeat for the mini pie molds, if you make them. Refrigerate them until the time for the other pieces of the dough that you placed in the freezer is up.

In the meanwhile, start making the filling. Poach the quince, pears and ginger with the sugar and cinnamon sticks until tender. About 20 to 30 minutes.

Then discard the ginger and cinnamon sticks. Chop the quince and ginger into smaller pieces, I prefer them very small, especially since I also made mini pies.

Place the chopped quince and pear in a large bowl; add the ginger syrup, ginger jam, lemon zest, lemon juice and cornstarch. Mix well and set it aside.

Once the hour is up for the dough in the freezer, take the pie molds out of the fridge. Spoon the filling into the pie crusts.

Remove the dough from the freezer and start by rolling one out on your floured working area. This is where you can be creative and make any design that you want. You have enough dough to play around. I really wanted to make leaves. Since I didn’t have any leaf shaped cookie cutters, I just used a paring knife to make them. For 1 mini pie, I made a tree design by making the tree trunk first and then adding small leaves to the branches.

Once you are done decorating your pies, place them in the fridge for 20 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 180/350F.

Once the 20 minutes are up, remove the pies from the fridge. Brush the dough with some of the egg wash and sprinkle some granulated sugar. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until the dough is golden. For the mini pies, it took from 35 to 45 minutes.

I like to eat this pie warm with some vanilla ice cream.  Enjoy!

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Falafel with Beet & Potato Mash

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A couple of weeks ago we were doing errands around the city center and we got very hungry. A falafel place which we both like was not very far, so we decided to stop there for lunch. It has been ages since we had falafels and it reminded me of how much I like them. Since the holidays are approaching, I thought they would make a good vegetarian dish to serve. To make them a bit more festive, I served them with a beet and potato mash.

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This recipe makes 25 falafels.

Ingredients:

For the mash:

800gr of potatoes for mash like Russets

3 roasted beets, peeled and chopped

Pinch of onion powder

Pinch of garlic powder

Salt

For the falafel:

1 ½ cups of dried chickpeas, soaked overnight

1 bunch of parsley

1 bunch of coriander

½ teaspoon of onion powder

½ teaspoon of garlic powder

1 teaspoon of lemon pepper

1 tablespoon of harissa or more to taste

1 ½ teaspoon of salt

Pinch of cumin or more to taste

7 tablespoons of all-purpose flour

Extras:

1 ½ cups of vegetable oil

2 cups of panko

 

The night before, place the chickpeas in a large bowl with plenty of cold water and let them soak overnight.

To make the mash, first roast the beets until tender. I just wrapped each one in foil with a drizzle of olive oil and roasted them for 1.5 hours at 180C/350F. Then peel them and chop them.

Boil the potatoes until tender. Then peel them.

Place the cooked potatoes and beets in the food processor. Add salt, onion powder and garlic powder. Pulse until it is very smooth. You can leave it like this or if you want it extra smooth you can pass it through a sieve.

Drain the soaked chickpeas and place them in the food processor with the rest of the ingredients for the falafels. Pulse until everything is well combined; just make sure not to puree it. You still want to keep some texture. Transfer the mixture into a bowl.

Place the panko on a separate plate.

Start making balls with the falafel mixture, about the size of 1 tablespoon. Coat each ball in the panko and then flatten it. Repeat for the remaining mixture.

Pour the oil into a large pan over medium heat. Have a large plate lined with paper towels ready.

Pan-fry the falafels until golden on both sides. Place them on the prepared plate to soak up some of the oil.

Serve the falafels with the potato and beet mash, and the sauce of your choice.

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Sweet Potato Rolls Stuffed with Chinese BBQ Chicken

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This is something you can do with the leftovers from the holidays. I used rotisserie chicken and I mixed it with some Chinese BBQ sauce, soy sauce, oyster sauce and sesame oil. But you can use leftover turkey or pork instead or just keep them vegetarian.

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This recipe makes 28 small rolls, I made half on a cast iron skillet and half on an oven dish.

For the dough:

7 grs of dry yeast

½ cup of cream, lukewarm

¼ cup of milk

½ cup of mashed sweet potatoes (I roasted them until tender)

3 ½ cups of all-purpose flour

Pinch of salt

3 tablespoons of butter, melted and cooled

1/3 cup of sugar

2 eggs

For the filling:

2 ½ cups of chopped rotisserie chicken, leftover turkey or pork

2 tablespoons of Chinese BBQ sauce

2 tablespoons of soy sauce

1 teaspoon of sesame oil

2 tablespoons of oyster sauce

Extras:

Egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon of water)

 

Place the lukewarm cream and yeast in the bowl of the stand mixer and let it sit for 5 minutes. After the 5 minutes have passed, add the remaining ingredients for the dough to the bowl with the yeast.

Knead on low speed for 5 minutes, using the dough hook attachment.  You can also knead it by hand.

Then remove the dough from the bowl and place it on a floured working area, it will be very sticky so flour your hands as well. Clean the bowl and then grease it with a bit of vegetable oil. Form the dough into a ball and place it back into the greased bowl. Cover with plastic film and let it rise for 1 hour in a warm place.

Place all of the ingredients for the filling in a pan over medium heat and just stir until the chicken is evenly coated. I like to mix it in a pan because the Chinese BBQ sauce is quite sticky and hard to mix unless it’s warm. Set it aside

Once the hour has passed, lightly oil the cast iron skillet or oven dish in which you are going to bake the rolls.

Place the dough in your floured working area. Punch it and divide it into 2 equal pieces. Grab one piece and slice it into 14 pieces. Make each piece into a ball, flatten it and stuff it with about 1 tablespoon of the filling. Close the edges by pinching them together and form a ball again. Place the bun on the prepared skillet, repeat for the rest of the dough.

Cut a big piece of plastic wrap and brush it with some vegetable oil. Then cover the rolls with it and let them rest for 1 hour in a warm place.

About 10 to 15 minutes before the second rise is done, preheat your oven to 180C/350F.

Remove the plastic wrap from the skillet and brush the buns with the egg wash.

Bake for 20 minutes or until golden. Enjoy!

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Twice Baked Butternut Squash with Harissa Butter, Feta & Pomegranate

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This is a very easy to make side dish for the holidays. The harissa butter adds a bit of heat that goes well with the sweetness of the butternut squash.

This recipe serves 2.

Ingredients:

1 medium butternut squash, sliced in half

1 tablespoon of butter

1 teaspoon of harissa or more to taste

2 tablespoons of Parmesan

2 tablespoons of breadcrumbs

Salt

Extras:

½ cup of pomegranate seeds

100grs of crumbled feta

Micro arugula for decoration

Handful of arugula

Olive oil

White vinegar

Salt

Pepper

 

Preheat the oven to 200C/390F.

Place the butternut squash in a roasting tray lined with parchment paper. Add ½ cup of water and cover it with aluminum foil. Bake until very tender. Mine took about 1 hour but the time will depend on the size of your squash.

Once the butternut squash is tender, spoon out all of the flesh into a bowl but leave some attached to the edges of one half so that it holds its shape for the second bake.

Turn up the heat to 230C/440F.

Melt the butter in a pan with the harissa. Place the butternut squash flesh, harissa butter, Parmesan, breadcrumbs and salt in the food processor and pulse until smooth.

Stuff the reserved butternut half with the butternut puree. Place it on a oven tray lined with parchment paper and bake for 20 minutes.

To serve, mix the arugula with a splash of olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. Place the butternut squash in the middle of a large plate. Place the arugula salad all around the squash. Top it with the crumbled feta, pomegranate and micro arugula. Serve right away.

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Duck Breast Salad with Orange – Poppy Seed Vinaigrette

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I love duck breast and it’s something I don’t eat very often. Usually I have to go to a butcher to get it because regular supermarkets here don’t carry it unless it’s the holiday season. That time of the year has come and when I saw it at the supermarket, I couldn’t resist. This is a salad you can have as a first course or main, perfect for the holidays. And it doesn’t require a lot of time which is very handy if you want to host a dinner.

This recipe serves 2. If you would like it as a main course, I find it nicer to get 1 duck breast per person.

Ingredients:         

For the vinaigrette:

½ cup of fresh orange juice

½ cup of olive oil

¼ cup of apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon of poppy seeds

2 tablespoons of honey

Salt

Pepper

For the duck:

1 duck breast, about 225grs.

Salt

Pepper

For the salad:

1/3 cup of dried cranberries

2 apples, thinly sliced (I used one Royal Gala and one Granny Smith)

1 persimmon, thinly sliced

40grs of baby kale

75grs of arugula

 

To make the vinaigrette, just place all of the ingredients in a jar with a lid and shake it until it emulsifies. Taste for salt and set it aside. Just re-shake it right before serving.

To cook the duck breast, first preheat the oven to 200C/390F. Trim any excess skin that is just hanging off the meat. Using a sharp knife, score the fat of the breast in a criss-cross pattern.  Season it with salt and pepper on both sides.

Heat up a cast iron skillet or oven-proof pan over medium heat. Place the duck breast with the skin side down and let the fat render off for 4 minutes. Then sear the meat side for 1 minute.  Finally turn the breast fat side down again and place it in the oven for 5 minutes. This will give you a medium to medium rare duck breast depending on the size of it. Once the breast is cooked, let it rest for 5 minutes and then thinly slice it.

To plate up, mix the arugula with the baby kale and divide it among 2 plates. Add the cranberries, apples and persimmon.  Then add the sliced duck breast and serve with the dressing on the side.

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