Gratin of salsify is a very common French winter dish. For my version, I added steamed fingerling potatoes and diced Granny Smith apples to make the flavors more interesting. The acidity of the apples and the starchiness of the potatoes give the salsify a great balance both in texture and taste. As you would any other gratin, the dish is covered them with béchamel sauce made with cheddar for a rich color. The crust is topped with Dubliner cheese.
If you've never tried Dubliner cheese, you should. We've all become addicted to it. Its flavor is very similar to an aged gruyère, but with fruitier notes and a sharper bite. It's become one of my "go-to" cheeses for cooking. It takes this classic French version of comfort food to another level.
As promised, here is the recipe for carrot purée that I served with my tapenade chicken the other day. I flavored the dish with rosemary, mustard, cumin and almond butter. The almond butter both thickens the purée and provides a nutty flavor.
It's a lighter, healthier version of the creamy mashed potatoes we served for Thanksgiving. Sweet potatoes and carrots are a great source of vitamin A and potassium. But don't get me wrong, healthier doesn't mean less flavorful. If you've read my many of my past recipes, you know that I'm not shy about using full fat ingredients. In this particular dish, I just don't think it's necessary to get that unctuous, creamy mouth-feel. Using the cooking techniques in the recipe, you'll be able to convince even the most anti-health food person in your life that the dish is loaded with heavy cream and butter.
Chocolate Persimmon Trifle is a unique dessert creation, inspired by my friend Carole's suggestion that I should try using Hachiya persimmons (the soft variety) in puddings and custards. I love Hachiya persimmons and I usually eat them as is, but I'm always up for a challenge. At first, I wanted to play it safe and make a persimmon almondine tart but that would have been too easy. So I made a trifle with layers of basic white cake, persimmon pudding and chocolate.
I usually cook with Fuyu persimmons (the hard variety) but after this decadent dessert, I'm definitely going to test out more recipes using the Hachiya variety.
Lulu calls hủ tiếu chay (fried bean curd soup in Vietnamese) the ultimate Asian comfort food. The hearty broth is flavored with bold Asian ingredients, such as ginger, garlic and mushroom seasoning salt. There are a couple of uncommon elements; I used Fuji apples and rock sugar to add a touch of sweetness to the broth, and a Vietnamese variety of cured daikon radish (củ cải khô) that provides the signature flavor of hủ tiếu broth.
The real treat though, is the addition of fried tofu skin. It's used throughout vegetarian Vietnamese cuisine as a substitute for fried pork or chicken skin in mock meat dishes. The texture is crispy, yet chewy, and really shows off the versatility of tofu.
I stuffed my manicotti with artichoke and spinach, and served the dish gratin-style with a layer of mozzarella cheese over the top and a bed of marinara sauce beneath. The artichoke and spinach mixture evokes the flavors of a dip, which contrasts nicely with the brightness of the marinara.
This is one of my favorite pasta dishes because it's very easy to make, while at the same time having great presentation value. Manicotti have the added benefit of freezing extremely well, so I always make them in large batches.