December 20, 2011
If you live in the South, you probably know a thing or two about Pimento Cheese. It’s a summertime staple, for one, and the secret to amazing PC is extra sharp cheddar. You can dress it up by adding dill, jalapenos or even bacon.
This gooey side-dish was a hit at Thanksgiving and has already been requested for upcoming gatherings. The cheese sauce is to-die-for and I think if you added a little chicken stock, you could turn it into a mean Pimento Cheese Soup. I’ve also thought you could layer with crispy hash browns for a great breakfast casserole — especially on Christmas morning. But back to the recipe at hand…
Pimento Cheese Gratin
3 teaspoons salt, plus more to taste
1 1⁄2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and sliced into 1⁄4-inch thick rounds
3⁄4 cup heavy cream
3 shallots, finely diced (scant 1⁄2 cup)
1⁄4 teaspoon crushed dried red chile flakes
1⁄2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
One 9-ounce jar roasted red peppers or piquillo peppers, with their liquid
8 ounces extra-sharp cheddar cheese, coarsely grated (about 2 cups)
1. Heat the oven to 375°F, with racks positioned in the middle and the top third of the oven. In a 3- to 4-quart stockpot, bring 2 quarts water and 2 teaspoons of the salt to a boil. Add the potatoes and cook for 10 minutes. Then drain, and set them aside.
2. Combine the cream, shallots, chile flakes, remaining 1 teaspoon salt, the black pepper, and 2 tablespoons of the liquid from the jar of roasted peppers in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer and cook until the chile flakes have begun to stain the cream, about 2 minutes. Add half of the cheese and stir until it melts, about 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat.
3. Layer roughly a third of the potatoes in a 6-cup baking dish, overlapping them slightly so that they fit in an even layer. Scatter half of the roasted peppers on top of the potatoes (cut up any peppers that have remained whole so that they lie flat), and repeat layering potatoes and peppers until all the peppers and potatoes have been used. Pour the cream mixture over the potatoes and peppers, and agitate the dish to distribute the liquid throughout. Cover with aluminum foil and bake on the middle rack for 15 minutes.
4. Uncover the dish, sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top, and place the dish on the top oven rack. Bake for 8 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly and gently browned on top. Serve immediately.
A little hint: You can assemble this dish ahead of time and pop in the oven when you’re ready.
- Unique pairings featured in new grilled cheese cookbook (knoxnews.com)
May 1, 2010
Fennel-Rubbed Pork Tenderloin with Shallot-Onion Agrodolce
Agrodolce is an Italian sweet and sour sauce that combines sugar and vinegar. In this version, acidic wine and vinegar harmonize with the sweetness from the onions and raisins.
Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 3 ounces pork and about 1/2 cup agrodolce)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 cups vertically sliced onion
- 1 cup sliced shallots
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 3/4 cup dry white wine
- 1/3 cup golden raisins
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons fennel seeds, crushed
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- (1-pound) pork tenderloin, trimmed
- Cooking spray
1. To prepare agrodolce, heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, shallots, and sugar to pan; sauté 12 minutes or until golden. Stir in wine, raisins, and vinegar; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 9 minutes or until liquid almost evaporates. Remove from heat; stir in 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper.
2. Prepare grill.
3. To prepare pork tenderloin, combine fennel seeds, 1/2 teaspoon salt, coriander, cumin, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a small bowl. Sprinkle pork with fennel seed mixture. Place pork on grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill for 20 minutes or until a thermometer registers 155° (slightly pink), turning pork occasionally. Let stand for 10 minutes. Cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Serve with agrodolce.
January 8, 2010
The acorn squash has recently become one of my favorites veggies. I love the warm color and almost anything it’s served with (even just solo) is so comforting. So I couldn’t resist making this Roasted Acorn Squash Soup when I saw Guy Fieri make it the other day on the Food Network. The shallots really stand out in this soup and the pistachio crostinis are a suprising (and tasty!) touch. This dish is the epitome of comfort food.
Roasted Acorn Squash Soup with Pistachio Crostinis
- 3 acorn squash
- 6 shallots, diced
- 6 garlic cloves, peeled
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, plus 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 tablespoon pepper
- 1 stick unsalted butter, in all
- 4 cups chicken stock (I use bullion cubes and water)
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
- 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
- 1 teaspoon sage, dry
- 1 teaspoon savory
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1/3 cup grated Parmesan
- French bread
- Pistachios, crushed
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut the squash in half and remove seeds. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and arrange the squash, cut side up. To 3 of the squash halves, add a diced shallot and to the other 3 add 2 garlic cloves on each. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and season with 1 tablespoon each of the salt and freshly cracked pepper. Roast in the hot oven until very tender and starting to caramelize and collapse, approximately 1 hour. Remove from oven and when cool enough to handle, remove the squash from the skin. Reserve the roasted shallots and garlic with the squash. Can be done ahead.
In a large Dutch oven, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium-high heat and when the butter is starting to foam, add the diced shallots and saute until they are starting to caramelize, about 5 to 6 minutes. Deglaze with 1/2 cup of the chicken stock and stir. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add in the reserved squash, roasted shallots and garlic and then the remaining chicken stock. Stir to combine, then puree with a stick blender. The mixture will be very thick. Add in the cayenne, white pepper and the herbs. Stir in the cream and Worcestershire sauce and heat slowly over medium-low heat. When the mixture comes to a slow simmer, mix again with the stick blender and stir in 1/4 cup of the Parmesan and turn heat to low. Serve with a fresh crack of black pepper, a nice drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil and a light sprinkle of remaining Parmesan. Ladle into soup bowls and serve.
For an extra touch, toast slices of French bread. Slather with butter and sprinkle with pistachios – toast for another minute or so until the butter melts. Place one piece of toasted bread in the middle of each bowl of soup – delicious!