Carrot Gratin w/ Béchamel
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallot or onion (optional)
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups low-fat (1 percent) milk
Salt and freshly ground white or black pepper to taste
2 pounds thick carrots, sliced on the diagonal into 1/2-inch thick slices
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoon finely chopped chives
2 ounces Gruyère cheese, grated (1/2 cup, optional)
To make the béchamel: Heat the oil over medium heat in a heavy medium saucepan. Add the shallot or onion, and cook, stirring, until softened, about three minutes. Stir in flour, and cook, stirring, for about three minutes until smooth and bubbling but not browned. The paste should have the texture of wet sand. Whisk in the milk all at once, and bring to a simmer, whisking all the while, until the mixture begins to thicken. Turn the heat to very low, and simmer, stirring often with a whisk and scraping the bottom and edges of the pan with a rubber spatula, for 10 minutes until the sauce has thickened and lost its raw flour taste. Season with salt and pepper. Strain while hot into a heatproof bowl or a Pyrex measuring cup
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Oil a 2-quart gratin dish. Fill a medium saucepan with water, and bring to a boil. Add salt to taste and then the carrots. Reduce the heat to medium, and simmer the carrots for five minutes or until just tender. Whisk 1/2 cup of the cooking water into the béchamel, and drain the carrots. Set on a clean kitchen towel to dry for a minute, then transfer to a large bowl. Stir in the thyme, chives, salt and pepper to taste, the béchamel and Gruyère. Scrape into the baking dish.
Place in the oven, and bake 20 to 30 minutes until the top is lightly browned and the gratin is bubbling. Remove from the heat, allow to sit for 5 to 10 minutes and serve.
(From The New York Times: Martha Rose Shulman)
1 pound fresh tomatillos, husks removed, rinsed and quartered
2 small sweet red peppers, seeded and thinly sliced
1 green bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
4 scallions, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
1/2 cup fresh corn kernels
1 tablespoon chopped fresh coriander
4 small fresh jalapeño peppers, seeded and minced
1/4 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
2/3 cup red-wine vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
Combine all the ingredients in a heavy saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Reduce heat slightly and continue to boil gently for 30 to 35 minutes, until mixture has thickened.
Transfer to sterilized canning jars and seal according to manufacturer’s directions or refrigerate.
(From: The New York Times: Stephen Pyles)
Grilled Avocado w/ Goat Cheese & Bell Peppers
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Bell Pepper Salsa, recipe follows
8 ounces soft goat cheese
Cilantro, for garnish
Special equipment: a stovetop grill or grill pan
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Cut avocados in half lengthwise and remove the seeds and skin. Rub the avocado halves with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill the halves on both sides for about 2 minutes each side. Remove from the grill and place on a baking sheet. Fill the center of each avocado half with Bell Pepper Salsa and top with 1-ounce of goat cheese. Bake approximately 5 minutes or until cheese is melted. Garnish with cilantro.
Bell Pepper Salsa:
3 bell peppers
1 medium tomato
1 yellow hot chile
4 green onions
2 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves
1 teaspoon sherry wine vinegar
1 tablespoon walnut oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Stem and seed peppers. Dice all ingredients very fine. Mix in bowl with vinegar and oil, salt and freshly ground black pepper.
(From The Food Network: Vincent Guerithault)
Shredded Chicken & Tomatillo Tacos
6 tomatillos, husked, washed, and grilled until blackened
1 serrano, grilled until blackened
1/2 small red onion, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 lime, juiced
2 tablespoons honey
1 1/2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
8 blue corn tortillas
1 cup crumbled queso fresco
Preheat the grill to medium. Add the blackened tomatillos and serrano to a small saute pan and briefly saute in a little olive oil on the grates of the grill.
Place the tomatillos, serrano, onion, garlic, cilantro, lime juice, and honey in a blender and blend until smooth. Place the tomatillo mixture in a large saute pan and place on the grates of the grill. Bring the mixture to a simmer, add the chicken, and heat through.
Place the tortillas on the grill, and grill for 20 seconds on each side. Spoon the chicken mixture into the tortillas and top with a few tablespoons of queso fresco. Fold the tortillas in half serve immediately.
(From the Food Network: Bobby Flay)
Winter Kale Salad
1 small bunch of kale, stems removed, cut or torn into small pieces
1/4 cup pecans, toasted and chopped
1 green onion, chopped
1 pear, peeled and sliced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Crumbled blue cheese, for garnish
Toss kale, pecans, green onion, and pear together in a medium bowl. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Drizzle vinegar then oil over the top. Toss and serve with a sprinkling of cheese.
(From The Food Network: Melissa D’Arabian)