Inspire The Chef – The Dessert !

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LEMON SORBET

The perfect dessert to clean the palate, cool refreshing Lemon Sorbet.

Ingredients:

1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon lemon zest

Preparation:

Bring the water and sugar to a boil in a small saucepan, remove from the heat, and cool. Combine the syrup with the lemon and zest and pour into the bowl of an ice cream machine. Freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions. After the sorbet is made, transfer to an airtight container. Cover tightly and freeze until ready to serve.

Inspire The Chef – The Main Course !

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MEDITERRANEAN MEATLOAF WITH OLIVES, FETA AND RED WINE

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbs. plus 1 tsp. canola or olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup dry red wine
  • 4 oz. medium-coarse white bread, such as Italian or French, cut into 2-inch pieces (about 2-1/2 cups)
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 lb. ground lamb
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta
  • 1/3 cup coarsely chopped pitted kalamata olives
  • 4 Tbs. chopped fresh oregano
  • 2 lightly packed tsp. finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
  • Kosher Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbs. honey

Preparation:

Heat 2 Tbs. of the oil in a 10- to 12-inch skillet over medium-low heat. Cook the onion and garlic, stirring frequently, until softened and just beginning to brown, 6 to 8 minutes.

Add the red wine, and simmer briskly, until almost dry, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and let cool until warm.

In a shallow dish that holds it in a single layer, soak the bread in the milk, flipping once, until soggy but not falling apart, 5 to 10 minutes, depending on the coarseness and freshness of the bread. Lightly squeeze a handful of bread at a time to remove some of the milk (it should be wet but not drenched). Finely chop and add to the bowl with the onion mixture.

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 375°F.

Add the lamb and eggs to the onion mixture. Scatter the feta, olives, oregano, and lemon zest over the meat, and then sprinkle with the Worcestershire, 2-1/4 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. pepper. Use your hands to gently mix all the ingredients until just combined; try not to compact the mixture as you do this.

Heat the remaining 1 tsp. of oil in a small skillet over medium-low heat. Form 1 Tbs. of the meatloaf mixture into a small patty. When the oil is hot, cook the patty on both sides until cooked through, about 5 minutes total. Transfer to a plate and let cool slightly. Taste and adjust the salt, pepper, and other seasonings as needed. Repeat until you’re satisfied with the flavor.

Line a 9×13-inch baking pan with parchment. Transfer the meatloaf mixture to the baking pan and form into a 10×4-inch rectangular block (it becomes loaf-shaped as it cooks). Spread the honey over the top and lightly down the sides of the meatloaf to glaze it.

Bake until an instant-read thermometer registers 160°F in the center of the meatloaf, 40 to 55 minutes.

Let the meatloaf rest for 10 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board or serving platter with a large spatula and cut into 3/4- to 1-inch-thick slices.

Inspire The Chef – The Side Dish !

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POMEGRANATE BALSAMIC GLAZED CARROTS

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup pure pomegranate juice
  • 1 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tsp. honey
  • 1 oz. (2 Tbs.) unsalted butter
  • 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 lb. carrots, trimmed, peeled, and cut into sticks about 2 inches long and 3/8 inch wide
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup lower-salt chicken broth
  • 1/8 tsp. cayenne
  • 2 Tbs. lightly packed thinly sliced fresh mint

Preparation:

Combine the juice, vinegar, and honey in a liquid measuring cup and whisk. Cut 1 Tbs. of the butter into 4 pieces and refrigerate.

In a 12-inch skillet, heat the remaining 1 Tbs. butter with the olive oil over medium-high heat. When the butter has melted, add the carrots and 1-1/2 tsp. salt and toss well to coat. Cook without stirring until the bottom layer of carrots is lightly browned in spots, 4 to 5 minutes. Using tongs, stir and flip the carrots and then leave undisturbed for 1 to 2 minutes to brown. Continue cooking, occasionally stirring and flipping, until most of the carrots are a bit browned in places and are starting to feel tender, an additional 3 to 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium if the bottom of the pan begins to brown too much.

Carefully add the chicken broth, cover quickly, and cook until all but about 1 Tbs. of the broth has evaporated, about 2 minutes. Uncover, reduce the heat to medium low, and add the pomegranate mixture (re-whisk, if necessary) and the cayenne. Cook, stirring gently, until the mixture reduces and becomes slightly glazy, about 1 minute. Take the pan off the heat, add the chilled butter, and gently toss with a heatproof spatula until the butter has melted, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Season to taste with salt and stir in about two-thirds of the mint. Serve in a warm shallow bowl or on a platter, garnished with the remaining mint.

Inspire The Chef – The Salad !

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SPINACH AND STRAWBERRY SALAD 

Ingredients:

2 bunches spinach, rinsed and
torn into bite-size pieces.

4 cups sliced strawberries
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 tsp paprika
2 tbsp sesame seeds
1 tbsp poppy seeds

Preparation:

In a large bowl, toss together the spinach and strawberries.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, sugar, paprika, sesame seeds, and poppy seeds. Pour over the spinach and strawberries, and toss to coat.

Inspire The Chef – The Soup !

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BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP WITH CANDIED SEEDS

Ingredients:

1 large butternut squash, 2 to 3 pounds
1 1/2 cups apple cider
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 cinnamon sticks,
cut in half crosswise.

2 tbsp melted butter
1 cup diced onion
2 tbsp butter
4 cups chicken broth
1 dash ground ginger
1 dash ground nutmeg
1/2 cup heavy cream
Sea salt
Butter-toasted squash seeds

Preparation:

Using a vegetable peeler, peel the squash. Cut into chunks, removing seeds and soft fibers with a spoon.
Put in a bowl; add apple cider, brown sugar, and cinnamon stick pieces then drizzle all over with the melted butter.
Pour the mixture into a 9×13-inch baking pan; cover tightly with foil and cook at 450° for 1 hour, or until very tender.
Cook diced onion in a large saucepan in the 2 tablespoons butter.
When onion is very tender, add chicken broth; bring to a boil; remove from heat and set aside. When squash is very tender, remove from oven.
Remove cinnamon from the squash. With a slotted spoon, transfer the squash to the chicken broth and onion mixture. Add about 1/4 cup of the roasting pan juices to the saucepan. Bring to a simmer.
Working in about 4 batches, puree the squash mixture in a blender; return to the saucepan. Stir in the ginger and nutmeg and the heavy cream, along with salt, to taste.
Heat through. Serve with butter-toasted pumpkin seeds (below), if desired, or sprinkle with a little cinnamon, toasted pecans, or chopped peanuts.

BUTTER-TOASTED SQUASH SEEDS:
In a small skillet, heat 2 teaspoons butter; add a few tablespoons of squash seeds and cook over medium-low heat until lightly browned.
Transfer to a paper towel to drain; sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.

Inspire The Chef – The Appetizer !

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STUFFED MUSHROOMS WITH SPINACH

Ingredients:

20 large button mushrooms
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1-1/2 tbsp garlic, minced.
1 tbsp oregano
1 lb 8 ounces chopped,
frozen spinach, thawed.

1 1/2 cups low-fat cottage cheese
3 cups green onions, minced.
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

12 ounces cooked tiny shrimp
1 cup seasoned Italian bread crumbs

3 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 to 2 tsp Tabasco sauce
Salt, to taste
4 tbsp butter

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Clean mushrooms with a damp cloth, remove stems and chop finely. Place mushroom caps in a greased baking dish stem-side up. Set them aside.

In a skillet, heat extra-virgin olive oil, add chopped mushroom stems, minced garlic and oregano. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes stirring often. Transfer mixture to a mixing bowl.

Squeeze moisture out of spinach and add to cooked mushrooms with cottage cheese, green onions, grated parmesan cheese, shrimp, bread crumbs, Dijon mustard and Tabasco sauce. Mix well, taste for seasoning, add salt if needed.

Stuff mushroom caps generously with filling, (there may be some extra); dot with butter. Bake for 15-30 minutes until mushroom caps are tender. If desired broil briefly to brown stuffed mushrooms. Serve warm or cold.

Inspire the Chef – The Introduction !

For the past year Inspire The Chef has been an interesting culinary journey.  We’ve featured seafood, beef, chicken and pork in different  and exciting ways.  I believe our latest Inspire The Chef will be our best.  

One of my classmates from high school, Marla Oney Rosenberger, is the inspiration behind this meal which is centered around our main course, Mediterranean Meatloaf made with lamb.  That comes later; first let’s start with our appetizer.