Showing posts with label shallots. Show all posts
Showing posts with label shallots. Show all posts

24 February 2014

A Dozen Fresh Must-Have Items in My Refrigerator

Red and white cipollini onions from Immerfrost Farm.
Availability of fresh, locally-grown produce has waxed and waned over the 20 years since my husband and I moved back to our hometown. In 1994, we could not find casual restaurants that served anything but fried food. Thankfully, over the years a new generation of owners and chefs took over area restaurants and most emphasize healthier cooking with local ingredients.

01 February 2009

Roasted Asparagus and Red Pepper Salad with Chevre and Bacon

"Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without" and "Shop locally - check your pantry" are two phrases I've been hearing a lot of lately.

Except for the doing without, I'm pretty good at being frugal. If someone would have told me even a few years ago that the penurious years of college and the early stages of my career would train me for the rest of my life, I might have been shocked. But I'm closer to retirement than college now, and I'm wondering just what the future holds. We're lucky for now. For now.

So I continue to save scraps of this and that for future soups and stews. My freezer is filled with odds and ends, that make for some pretty interesting and sometimes inspired meal pairings.

Sunday night, we had four red peppers and a bunch of asparagus in the crisper. We wanted a light meal. My husband was feeling flu-ish and I was sure I was next.

Roasted Asparagus and Red Pepper Salad with Chevre and Bacon
  • 3-4 red peppers, washed and trimmed into strips.
  • 10-15 asparagus spears, washed and trimmed
  • 1-2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1-2 medium shallots, cut into thin slices
  • 2 tablespoons chevre
  • 1 tablespoon bacon bits

Pre heat oven to 425. Coat peppers and asparagus and roast them until they begin to turn brown along the edges. You may want to give the red peppers a 10-minute head start. While the vegetables are roasting, brown the shallots in olive oil in a small skillet until they turn transparent and golden. Once the vegetables are roasted, allow to cool for 3 minutes and layer them on a salad plate, sprinkling chevre and bacon bits. Season with fleur de sel and freshly ground pepper.

I added this dressing

This salad would be great with a sausage-based dish or with herbed chicken.

02 December 2008

Roasted Chicken with Pears, Shallots, and Thyme

We woke to a thin dusting of snow yesterday, enough to make the roads slippery and require a quick shoveling.

Later in the yard of the brick Georgian across the parking lot from my office, I saw a huge flock of starlings, gleaning odd bits of food from the snow-covered yard and roosting in the trees, chattering away. I love their chatter on late autumn afternoons as it signals a turn of season.

There are other signs, too, many from the bird world, like the whistling swans I saw along the shore last week, and the skeins of Canada geese that continue to crisscross our leaden skies. The berries on our bushes have begun to turn red and the grasses along the bay and river are brown, a warm contrast to the cool grays of the sky and water.

It's really lovely out there. But cold.

At night we cook comforting meals. I roatsed my own bird tonight, and the aroma was wonderful. I found the recipe in the current issue of Body + Soul magazine: Chicken with Pears, Shallots and Thyme.

Since I followed it to the letter, and it's not posted on the magazine's Web site yet, I will simply tell you that it is a chicken stuffed with five sprigs of thyme, one lemon, three cloves of garlic and then roasted with three Anjou pears and eight shallots in a very hot oven. The aroma is heavenly while it is cooking, very seasonal. I love an autumn or winter meal roasting late into the night, filling the house with its aromas, wrapping around us with the promises of tastes to come.

My husband and I put read-and-green place mats on our dining table and enjoyed this dish by itself: Chicken in its glorious juices, along with tender shallots and almost-creamy pears. The roasting removes that metallic taste pears often have, and replaces it with a mellow sweetness.

With this dish, no sides are needed. But a green salad would have been a nice first course.

I saved every leftover morsel, and tomorrow I will make soup or stew. I should think something with root vegetables would be in order.

I can't wait...

Ok, here's the basic recipe: Rub a whole chicken with coarse sea salt and pepper, and stuff with three peeled garlic gloves, a quartered lemon and five sprigs of thyme. Roast at 450-475 for 15 minutes, then surround with 8 halved shallots and three quartered and cored pears. Add a few more thyme sprigs. Roast for another 40 minutes or so.

30 November 2008

Creamy Brussels Sprout Soup with Shallots and Roasted Potatoes

I lived in a tiny studio apartment my last years of college. Fortunately, the cramped quarters had a good-sized refrigerator and stove so I could cook real meals. I made use of everything in those days, and I still do, but once in a while, I forget I've got something on hand and it goes to waste.

Not anymore. Some of my favorite grocery store staples - low-fat cream cheese, for example - have nearly doubled in price in the last year.

The mortgage was paid long ago and my economic situation is vastly improved over 23 years ago. But somehow it seems wrong to let anything go to waste when it costs so dearly and so many people are without ample food.

I had about three cups of sautéed Brussels sprouts left over from Thanksgiving dinner, some shallots and a half-cup or so of roasted potatoes. These, I thought, would provide the basis for Brussels sprouts soup. I have become enamored of the tiny bowls of soup served by chefs these days and was determined to create something comparable.

Creamy Brussels Sprouts Soup with Shallots and Roasted Potatoes


  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 3 cups Brussels sprouts, washed, trimmed, outer leaves removed, sliced in half
  • 2 large shallots, peeled and chopped
  • 5 cups chicken broth*
  • 1/2 cup previously roasted potatoes
  • 1 small onion, peel and chopped
  • dash freshly ground pepper
  • dash fleur de sel
  • dash nutmeg
  • 1/3 cup half-and-half or cream


Pour olive oil into a large skillet, adding butter. Sauté the sprouts and shallots for 8-10 minutes under medium heat, stirring frequently. Add one cup of broth, bring to a boil and cover, lowering heat. Add onions. Allow to simmer for 10-15 minutes until broth is reduced. Carefully transfer to stockpot, adding potatoes and remainder of broth. Cook under low heat for another 10 minutes, adding nutmeg and salt and pepper (taste frequently; I used about 8 spoons). Turn off heat and allow to cool 15 minutes. Then transfer soup to food process or blender. Puree. (I pureed one half, set it aside and then pureed the other half). Return to stock pot and add cream, re-heating under low heat.

*My soup broth was half chicken broth, half bouillon from garlic-and-olive-oil cubes I bought at FranPrix last year. I always add what ever cheese rind I have on hand, and discard before pureeing.

I recommend grating cheese on top and adding croutons before serving. I did not do that as I was too anxious to try the soup. It was soothing, always a good thing on the tail end of a long weekend.

What did you do with leftovers this weekend?

24 March 2008

Rich Chicken Soup with Roasted Asparagus, Mushrooms and Shallots


I dreamed of my father last night. In the dream he was strong and whole - and living happily in the south of France.

Perhaps he is.

People who have heard me relating my vivid dreams often ask me, "What did you eat before you went to bed?" and of course, I tell them nothing, because late-night snacks are not part of of my diet.

But a good supper - and we tend to eat later - is essential. I am often hungriest at night, when we hunker down in our cozy snuggery with books and magazines and DVDs and a remote control at hand.

Last night, after our wonderful roasted chicken, I made a rich golden stock from the carcass. All day I imagined how it would be, simmering away on the stove, filled with the vegetables of late winter into spring.

Shallots and mushrooms I had on hand; asparagus I found at the supermarket - yes, it's beginning to show up there!

I sautéed the shallots and mushrooms while I roasted the asparagus, just enough to impart that delicate flavor roasting provides.

Added together, the vegetables gave the soup a sweet and dark and bosky flavor, like a forest in spring. I paired it with a slice of whole grain bread from a rustic loaf from the bakery.

Chicken Soup with Roasted Asparagus, Mushrooms and Shallots

  • 10-12 stalks of asparagus
  • 3-4 medium shallots, peeled and sliced
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup fresh mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3-5 cups homemade chicken stock
  • 1 cup chicken, dark and white meat, cubed
  • grated pepper and fleur de sel to taste
  • pinch of your favorite herbs 

Wash the asparagus, breaking off the tough bottoms of the stalks. Coat with a tablespoon or less of olive oil and roast until the stalks just begin to turn brown at the edges. Set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, slice shallots and mushrooms. Place in a deep sauce pan and sauté in a tablespoon of olive oil until the shallots and mushrooms begin to turn golden brown. Remove from pan and set aside.

Empty chicken stock into saucepan (I like to chill it first so I can remove the congealed fat). Bring to a boil, then lower heat and allow to simmer, adding more water if necessary. Lower the heat and add the vegetables and the cubed chicken. Check the soup and season to suit your tastes. Allow to simmer about 5 minutes longer on low heat.

I kept the seasonings simple because I wanted the flavors to remain true. But I'd recommend a pinch of fresh parsley flakes. You may also add a bay leaf to the soup while it simmers.

Update: I have made this with fresh thyme, and also with a dash of herbes de Provence.

25 December 2007

Warm Brussels Sprout and Shallot Salad with Pecans

Like most people I know, I look upon the end of the year as the beginning of a new one. The Christmas presents are barely opened when I begin making plans for all the projects I will finally get around to doing in the year ahead.

This year, the purchase of a new piece of furniture necessitated a bit of cleaning
and reorganizing - which meant I had to sit around paging through the 100 or so magazines piled in corners of the living and dining room. That was how I stumbled across a recipe for warm Brussels Sprout Salad, which inspired the following dish.

I buy Brussels sprouts each week; along with broccoli and red pepper; they are staples in my crisper. Shallots are also something I keep on hand.

Warm Brussels Sprout and Shallot Salad with Pecans
  • 16-20 large Brussels sprouts
  • 3-4 large shallots
  • tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • tablespoon unsalted butter
  • dash freshly ground pepper
  • dash fleur de sel
Wash and trim Brussels sprouts, removing outer leaves and base. Cut into thin slices. Drizzle with olive oil, toss, and place in a skillet or sauté pan. Brown slightly over medium heat until sprouts are just a bit limp. Remove from pan and set aside, covering to keep warm. Peel and slice shallots; using the same pan, brown shallots slightly in butter. Add pecans. Toss shallots and pecans with Brussels sprouts, adding a dash of fleur de sel and pepper.

I served this with a warm bacon dressing. A cranberry vinaigrette would be nice, too, or a mustard-y oil and vinegar blend.

This was the first course of our Christmas dinner, and it was a hit. We followed it with a big juicy ham rubbed with cinnamon and ground cloves and glazed with a cinnamon-y honey-and-apple-jelly blend and a side dishes of roasted root vegetables and candied sweet potatoes.

24 February 2007

Brussels Sprouts with Shallots, Mushrooms and Thyme

For me there is something immensely pleasurable about preparing a meal as night begins to fall, especially as the clouds gather outside and the wind howls. There is no place I'd rather be than in my own kitchen.

So I was thoroughly enjoying myself Saturday about 6 p.m. as I marinated steak for broiling and sliced tomatoes for a simple side salad with black olives and an herb-peppered chevre.

The long-predicted storm had not arrived (it finally hit at 3 a.m.), and as I chopped and sliced and seasoned I kept an eye on the sky.

I’ve sworn off simple carbohydrates for a while, and thus have forced my husband to do so, too, at least on weekends. Without potatoes, rice or pasta, I’m paying more attention to side dishes. It seemed a while since we’d had Brussels sprouts, and I found a recipe on Epicurious that intrigued me.

As usual, I modified it quite a bit to suit my diet and my time constraints.

Brussels Sprouts with Shallots, Mushrooms and Thyme

For Brussels sprouts

  • 3 lb Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved lengthwise
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon minced garlic
  • dash sel de fleur


For shallots

  • 1/2 lb large shallots (about 6), cut lengthwise
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil


For mushrooms

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 lb mixed fresh mushrooms
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • dash salt
  • dash freshly ground black pepper


Preheat oven to 425. Trim sprouts, douse with oil, sprinkle with garlic and salt. Toss. Arrange in one layer in a shallow baking pan and place in pre-heated oven for about 20 minutes, checking and turning frequently to ensure even roasting and no burning.

While the Brussels sprouts are roasting, sauté the shallots in oil and butter until they are soft to the touch and are beginning to turn golden brown. Remove from the pan and drain.

Using the same pan, add more butter and the mushrooms, sautéing until the mushrooms turn golden brown. Add the thyme about midway through; season at the end. The whole process takes about 15-20 minutes.

Finally, mix all three ingredients and serve.

Note: The original recipe calls for a white wine glaze. This was a pared-down version: I used Smart Balance in place of butter. I also used olive oil as sparingly as I could.

It was wonderful: Both sweet and herby, the tastes of the early spring woods. We will definitely do Brussels sprouts this way again.

My husband thought the vegetables were so good that he was unbothered by the mess I made of the steak. It was tough and tasteless!

19 February 2007

A Brief History of Chateaubriand

"Why didn't you include some history of Chateaubriand?" asked a reader who does not post comments but happens to sit next to me at work.

"Uh, because I forgot," I said. That's the truth. Ideas and information don't seem to stay too long in my brain these days. Stress overload?

Chateaubriand, like London Broil, is not a cut of meat, according to some sources. It is a way of cooking a thick cut of beef tenderloin. Other sources, like Wikipedia, to which I can never successfully provide a precise link, refer to it as a cut.

Does it matter? I think not. It tastes heavenly.

The dish was reportedly created for Francois René Vicomte de Chateaubriand (1768-1848), a statesman and writer. Born in St. Malo, he grew up in a castle in Normandy. He spent part of the French Revolution in the American Deep South, which ultimately influenced several of his novels. He is considered the father of French Romanticism.

The dish that bears his name may have been created by his chef, Montmireil, according to the Food Reference Website.

Here's what else the Web site says, "Sources differ on the other important details of this recipe. Most say it was originally cut from the thickest part of the beef tenderloin, but several state that it was originally cut from the sirloin. Some say it was one very thick cut of beef, seared on the outside and rare on the inside. It may or may not then have had the seared and charred ends cut off before serving. Others state that the thick steak (filet or sirloin) was cooked between two inferior steaks to enhance its flavor and juiciness. The inferior steaks were cooked until well charred, then discarded."

Another site, O Chef, asserts that Montmireil "placed his master's roast between two other cuts of tenderloin, burnt both the outside meats to a crisp, and threw them away, leaving the Vicomte's portion evenly pink through and through."

I must admit that while my Chateaubriand is never well done, it is rarely as pink as it should be in the middle.

There is some disagreement about how thick a real Chateaubriand must be. When I'm flush, mine is thick. When I buy a cheaper cut, it is not.

There is apparently some disagreement over the sauce. Was it originally Béarnaise or something made from white wine and shallots?

The traditional side dish is small potatoes, called chateau potatoes. They are cut into small shapes about the size of olives and then browned. Not a purist, I use the smallest potatoes I can find, or I cut larger potatoes in half. Even on my weekends, I do not have the time or patience to carve olive-sized potatoes. Also, the recipes often call for russet potatoes. We prefer Yukon Gold.

I must use shallots in the sauce, however. That is a hard and fast rule for me. I like the cross between onion and garlic taste they offer. Supposedly, they offer cancer-fighting compounds, too, another plus. While I usually roast either small or pearl onions alongside my Chateaubriand, I have used shallots, too, intensifying the shallot taste of this wonderful dish.