Cauliflower Mascarpone Gratin

Cauliflower Mascarpone Tart

Are you the type of Thanksgiving cook (and/or eater) who expects to sit down to the same lineup of food from year to year or do you like to get a little bit crazy and try something completely new every time?

I’ve learned that there are definitely two distinct – and very personal – approaches to getting the holiday menu together. I recognize one, the tried-and-trues, as the keepers of family traditions; rational, organized, intelligent souls who keep things simple (doable) and predictable (foolproof).  Which makes a lot of sense. How else to organize 10, 20 or more people around a dining table and keep the peace?

I count myself in the other, open-to-experiment camp. While I’ve never ditched the turkey altogether and made fish instead (as Debra did to much disappointment in one episode of Everybody Loves Raymond) I like to play with vegetables and entertain ideas on how to handle the turkey (shall we bone it, brine it, spice it, tie it up and smoke it?).

I’ll be sharing a few of my ideas for vegetable side dishes over the next week, nothing too wild and crazy. But maybe something to mix up the usual suspects.

In the meantime, leave me a note and share your family favorites, old or new.

Cauliflower Mascarpone Gratin

Yield: 6 servings

Ingredients

1 head cauliflower, separated into florets

1 tablespoon softened butter

1 8-ounce container Wisconsin Mascarpone cheese

3/4 cup heavy cream

½ cup Wisconsin grated Parmesan cheese

¼ cup chopped fresh sage

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

½ teaspoon salt

Freshly grated black pepper

Instructions

  1. Blanch the cauliflower in a pot of boiling salted water 5 minutes; drain.
  2. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Coat a 7 x 11 gratin dish with butter; arrange cauliflower in dish.
  3. Stir together Mascarpone, cream, ¼ cup Parmesan,sage, garlic, salt and black pepper to taste until smooth; pour over cauliflower. Sprinkle top with remaining Parmesan.
  4. Bake 30 minutes, or until top is browned and sauce is bubbling. Rest 15 minutes, loosely covered, before serving.
http://familystylefood.com/2012/11/cauliflower-mascarpone-gratin/

Ricotta Flatbread with Pomegranate Salsa

It’s late fall again and the beginning of my favorite time of year for cooking. There’s such a great variety of produce piled up in the markets having their “it” moment right now it’s almost overwhelming. I want to gather everything up and devour it all before it’s gone.

I’m thinking of the fruits that were recently harvested – apples and pears that haven’t been in cold storage for months and months; the last of the late season figs, and the fleeting appearance of big, beautiful jeweled-red pomegranates.

Ever since I first made this recipe for Pomegranate Relish from chef Suzanne Goin’s cookbook Sunday Suppers at Lucques it’s been a favorite. I made it this time around with some dried cranberries to top some creamy ricotta-topped flatbread.

This month I’m sharing a few other favorite recipes and ideas for Thanksgiving entertaining at the Wisconsin Cheese blog - go check it out.

Ricotta Flatbread with Pomegranate Salsa

Yield: 6 - 8 servings

Ingredients

½ cup pomegranate seeds

½ cup dried, sweetened cranberries; roughly chopped

1 shallot, finely chopped

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon honey

2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley

1 tablespoon fresh orange zest strips

Pinch salt

1 oval pre-baked flatbread, such as naan or pocketless pita

8 ounces Bel Gioioso Ricotta con Latte

½ cup baby arugula

Instructions

  1. Combine pomegranate seeds, cranberries, shallot, oil, vinegar, honey, parsley, orange zest and salt in a bowl.
  2. Place flatbread on a preheated grill rack or baking stone in a 450-degree oven; toast until warm and edges are lightly toasted, 5 – 10 minutes.
  3. Spoon ricotta over warm flatbread and spread lightly. Arrange arugula over ricotta; cut into serving pieces. Top each slice with salsa.
http://familystylefood.com/2012/11/ricotta-flatbread-with-pomegranate-salsa/

Apple Tartlets with Salted Caramel

Apple Tartlets with Salted Caramel

Serving individual desserts is a nice way to make the people around your table feel special. Especially after a big, family-style dinner when everyone is sharing large platters of food, a little something sweet plated just for one is a nice touch at the end of a meal.

I love the simplicity of this apple tartlet – it looks bakery-special, but it’s easy to put together. I like to use a high quality prepared all-butter puff pastry that I can buy frozen at Whole Foods, but use whatever pastry dough is your favorite.

The only real project with this recipe is making the caramel, which can be made days – and up to 2 weeks – ahead. It just needs to be warmed to a pourable consistency just before serving.  (You could (shhhhh) use a prepared caramel sauce to make life even easier)

But do try to use flaked salt such as Maldon - it adds a delicate crunch that doesn’t really happen with regular or coarse salt.

Apple Tartlets with Salted Caramel

Ingredients

Caramel Sauce:

¾ cup granulated sugar

¾ cup heavy cream

½ teaspoon fine sea salt

1 tablespoon butter

For tart:

1 sheet all-butter frozen puff pastry dough, defrosted in the refrigerator (I like Dufour brand)

2 apples, peeled

1 tablespoon melted butter

4 teaspoons sugar

Flaked sea salt or fleur de sel, for sprinkling

Instructions

  1. To make the caramel sauce, put the sugar in a 2 -3 quart heavy saucepan and place over medium heat. Cook the sugar until it melts into syrup, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon (NOT a metal spoon, which will get very hot and burn your hand).
  2. Once the sugar is completely melted, let it cook undisturbed until it’s amber-colored. Lower the heat and very slowly dribble the cream into the pan. The mixture will bubble up intensely so be careful. When the bubbling subsides, bring the caramel to a simmer, whisking until any hardened lumps melt back into the sauce. Remove from the heat and stir in the salt and butter until smooth. If you end up with a few stubborn pieces of hardened sugar, you can strain the sauce into a heatproof glass measuring cup.
  3. Heat the oven to 400 degrees.
  4. Roll the puff pastry on a lightly floured surface to flatten slightly. Cut out 4 5-inch diameter circles with a pastry cutter or use the upside-down rim of a small bowl.
  5. Transfer the circles to an ungreased baking sheet. Cut the apples in half and remove the core. Slice each half crosswise into thin slices, keeping them together as you slice. Unfurl the slices onto each pastry circle, fanning them in a circular pattern to cover the dough. Brush with the melted butter and sprinkle each with 1 teaspoon sugar.
  6. Bake 15 – 20 minutes, until the apples are tender and the edges of the tarts are puffed and golden.
  7. Reheat the caramel to pouring consistency if has cooled, and spoon some sauce over each tart. Sprinkle with a little flaked salt and serve warm.
  8. You’ll have more caramel sauce than you need for the tarts, but it will keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks to use in any way you like.
http://familystylefood.com/2012/10/apple-tartlets-with-salted-caramel/