Blueberry and Black Rice Pudding

1/2 cup Forbidden rice (Chinese black rice)
1 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup low-fat milk or rice beverage
1 cup unsweetened low-fat coconut milk
1/4 cup mild honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup blueberries


Combine the rice, water and salt in a saucepan, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer 35 to 40 minutes, until all of the water is absorbed.

Add the milk, coconut milk and honey to the rice, and stir together. Bring to a boil, stirring, then reduce the heat and simmer, stirring often, for five to 10 minutes, until creamy. Add the vanilla and blueberries, and continue to simmer for another five minutes.

Scrape into a bowl or into individual serving dishes. Cover and chill for at least two hours before serving.

Black Beans and Rice

1 tablespoon canola oil or extra virgin olive oil
1/2 medium onion, thinly sliced across the grain
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups cooked medium- or long-grain white rice, or brown basmati rice
1 1/2 cups cooked black beans with about 1/2 cup of their cooking liquid
Salt to taste


Heat the oil in a large, heavy saucepan or skillet over medium heat, and add the onion. Cook, stirring, until the onion is tender, about five minutes. Stir in the garlic. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, 30 seconds to a minute. Add the rice, beans and about 1/2 cup broth from the beans. Stir gently for about five minutes until the mixture is heated through, and serve. The mixture should be moist. Add more broth if necessary.

Variation: For Veracruz-style black beans and rice, add one to three minced serrano or jalape?o chiles. Cook along with the onion before adding the garlic, rice and beans. In Veracruz, this dish would be served with fried plantains.

Advance preparation: You can make this several hours ahead so long as you have more broth to add when you heat it up; otherwise, the rice will be dry.

Apricot Puree

2 1/2 pounds fresh, ripe apricots
3 tablespoons sugar, preferably organic, or mild honey like clover


Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Fill a bowl with ice water. When the water comes to a boil, drop in the apricots and boil for 20 seconds. Transfer to the ice water with a slotted spoon or a spider, and allow to cool for a few minutes. Drain, slip off the skins, cut in half and remove the stones.

Place the apricots and sugar or honey in a large, heavy saucepan, and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer 10 to 15 minutes, stirring often, until the apricots have broken down into a thick pur?e. Remove from the heat, and allow to cool in the pan. When cool, use a rubber spatula to scrape the pur?e into a jar or a container. Cover and refrigerate.

Yield: 2 cups.

Apricot Crumble

8 medium-size or 12 small apricots
2 tablespoons finely chopped almonds, raw or toasted
2 to 3 teaspoons raw brown sugar like turbinado sugar or Sugar in the Raw), to taste
2 tablespoons fresh breadcrumbs
2 teaspoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus additional for the ramekins
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Butter four 6-ounce or 1-cup ramekins. Pit and quarter the apricots, and arrange in the ramekins, using two apricots per ramekin (three if the apricots are small). If you have to make smaller slices to fill empty spaces in the ramekins, that?s fine.

Mix together the chopped almonds, brown sugar, breadcrumbs, butter and nutmeg. Dot the apricots with the topping, using about a tablespoon for each ramekin.

Place the ramekins on a baking sheet, and bake 15 to 20 minutes until the apricots are bubbling and the topping is lightly browned. Remove from the heat, and allow to cool for at least 20 minutes before serving.

Stir-Fried Chinese Cabbage

4 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons minced ginger
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 star anise, broken in half
2 teaspoons soy sauce (more to taste)
2 tablespoons Shao Hsing rice wine or dry sherry
2 tablespoons peanut or canola oil
1 small cabbage, 1 to 1 1/2 pounds, quartered, cored and cut crosswise into 1/8-inch shreds
1 medium carrot, cut into julienne
Salt to taste
2 tablespoons minced chives, Chinese chives or cilantro


Combine the garlic, ginger, red pepper flakes and star anise in a small bowl. Combine the soy sauce and wine or sherry in another small bowl.

Heat a 14-inch flat-bottomed wok or a 12-inch skillet over high heat until a drop of water evaporates within a second or two when added to the pan. Swirl in the oil by adding it to the sides of the pan and tilting it back and forth. Add the garlic, ginger, pepper flakes and star anise. Stir-fry for a few seconds, just until fragrant, then add the cabbage and carrots. Stir-fry for one to two minutes until the cabbage begins to wilt, then add the salt and wine/soy sauce mixture. Cover and cook over high heat for one minute until just wilted. Uncover and stir-fry for another 30 seconds, then stir in the chives or cilantro and remove from the heat. The cabbage should be crisp-tender. Serve with rice or noodles.

Wassail

6 cups apple cider
1 cup orange juice
4 cinnamon sticks, plus additional for garnish
6-8 whole star anise, plus additional for garnish
1 tablespoon sugar
Pinch of allspice
Juice of one lemon
Bourbon or whiskey (optional, but highly recommended)


In a large dutch oven, bring all of the ingredients to a low boil. Reduce heat and allow to simmer for a few hours. Serve hot; spike with bourbon/whiskey, if desired. Garnish with whole cinnamon sticks and star anise.

Wassail

garnish:
1/4 inch thick apple slices
maple sugar

wassail:
4 allspice berries
2 whole cloves
1 cup fresh cider
2 tablespoons maple sugar
24 ounces newcastle brown ale
1/2 cup calvados


Sprinkle apple slices with maple sugar and roast at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.

Place spices in teaball or cheesecloth sack. Heat cider and spices over medium heat for 3 minutes. Cover and let steep for 30 minutes.

Stir in maple sugar and heat over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat and add ale and calvados.

Serve in heatproof glasses, garnished with apple slices.

Amaretto Amaretti Pear Crumble

4 firm Bosc pears, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch-thick wedges (about 2 pounds)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup apricot preserves
1/4 cup amaretto (almond-flavored liqueur)
1 1/2 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into small pieces
1 cup amaretti cookie crumbs (about 16 cookies)
1 1/2 cups vanilla low-fat ice cream


Preheat oven to 375?.

Combine pears and juice in a large bowl; spoon into a 1-quart baking dish.

Combine the apricot preserves and liqueur in a small bowl; spoon evenly over pears. Sprinkle butter over pear mixture, and top with 1 cup amaretti cookie crumbs. Bake at 375? for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Spoon pear mixture evenly into 6 bowls, and top each serving with 1/4 cup ice cream.
from Cooking Light.

Chamomile Rice Pudding

2 cups water
3 tablespoons of dried edible chamomile flowers
4 cups milk
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup Arborio rice
1 chamomile tea bag
1/4 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup cream to finish (optional)
Honey


Start as though you were making a risotto. In two separate pots, heat the water and the milk. Place the chamomile flowers (not the tea bags) in the water, and allow to steep for at least ten minutes. Strain the flowers out, and return the chamomile water to the pan to keep warm.

Melt the butter in a wide pan with sides over medium low heat. Add the rice, and stir to coat, cooking for just a minute in the butter until the rice turns translucent.

Use a ladle to add the water bit by bit to the rice, adding more only as it is absorbed, and stirring continuously. Once you have used all the water, switch to milk, and continue to stir.

Meanwhile, brew a cup of chamomile tea with the tea bag. Place the golden raisins in the tea to rehydrate.

Once most of the milk has been used, and the pudding has reached a thick, porridge-like texture, add the sugar and stir it in to melt over the heat. Add the pinch of salt as well.

Take the pan off the heat. Stir in a splash of cream to finish, and serve hot, in separate bowls or ramekins. Strain the golden raisins out of the tea, and top the pudding with them. Serve with honey alongside.

Espresso Seared Steak

2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
2 tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 teaspoons mild chili powder
1 flank steak, about 1 1/2 pounds
1 tablespoon vegetable oil


Preheat gas grill to medium-high heat. In a small bowl, combine sugar, espresso, black pepper, salt, and chili powder. Rub steak all over with vegetable oil. Press spice mixture onto both sides of steak.

Cook on first side until well seared, about 8 minutes. Flip and cook until second side is seared and center of steak registers 135?F on an instant-read thermometer, about 6 minutes longer. Transfer to cutting board, tent with foil, and allow meat to rest 10 minutes. Slice thinly against the grain, and serve.

Miso Marinade

Approximately 1 1/2 pounds of your choice of seafood or meat
1/3 cup miso
1/4 cup mirin
3 tablespoons sake


Miso Marination is such versatile technique that you have several options at each stage. First, the protein: Try it with salmon, Chilean sea bass, Sablefish, scallops, or beef. A pound and a half of whatever you choose should feed approximately four people.

Prepare the marinade. Use a combination of sweet white miso and darker miso pastes, adjusting the proportions according to taste and the type of protein you are using. Mix the miso, mirin, and sake into a smooth paste. If you are running short on sake and mirin, you may replace the sake with white wine or vermouth, and the mirin with sugar. Use about 4 tablespoons of sugar.

Generously lather your fish or meat with the miso marinade, making sure that it clings to the meat or seafood.

Refrigerate for at least five hours and up to two days! This is a handy step in the process, because you can prepare the ingredients well in advance. However, do not leave the items marinating for too long, or else they will dry out and become too salty.

Before cooking, wipe all of the marinade from the seafood or meat. Do not rinse, but blot dry with paper towels.

Pan-fry, broil, or grill the miso-marinated item. If using fish, seek out a slab with the skin still attached. Heat a skillet and add a tablespoon of oil. Place the fish, skin side down, on the skillet and cook until the skin is crisp, about two to three minutes. Pan-fry the other sides until golden brown. Proceed similarly with steak, adjusting the cooking times to how well-done you like your beef. For scallops, cook until the center is barely done (or, for sashimi-grade scallops, leave the center raw). Be aware when cooking that the sugar content in the mirin will cause the food to brown very easily, so you do not need to preheat your skillet for a long time. Serve with a high-quality Japanese short-grain rice.

Grilled Scallops Alla Caprese

2 pounds mixed heirloom tomatoes, cut into wedges or bite-size pieces
24 fresh basil leaves
2 medium red onions, cut into 1-inch thick slices
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 pounds large fresh dry scallops
1 lemon, cut in half


Preheat a gas or charcoal grill with a piazza or large cast iron griddle inside, or heat the griddle on a stovetop (see note). Place the red onion slices on the hot surface without oil and season the top with salt. Cook until soft and charred, 5-7 minutes. Flip, season second side, and cook until second side is charred.

Meanwhile, place tomatoes in a large mixing bowl and tear the basil leaves over them. Once the onions have cooked and cooled slightly, separate into rings and scatter over the tomatoes. Drizzle with 4 tablespoons olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper. Lay tomato mixture on a platter.

Carefully carve a checkerboard pattern into one side of each scallop (about 1/4-inch deep) and toss them with salt, pepper, and remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. Preheat cooking surface until very hot, then cook the scallops, design-side-down, until golden and almost cooked through, 5-7 minutes. Flip and cook for just 30 seconds on the second side, then remove from the heat. Arrange on tomato salad, squeeze the lemon halves over everything, and top with flaky sea salt. Serve immediately.

Seared Scallops with Chamomile Buerre Blanc

1 shallot, chopped
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1/3 cup dry white wine
1 tablespoons dried chamomile flowers
1 tablespoon cream
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed and cold, plus 1 tablespoons
4 large sea scallops


Begin with the beurre blanc. In a medium saucepan, place the shallots, vinegar, wine, and chamomile. Bring to a low simmer, and cook until liquid is just evaporated, on a low flame, careful not to let it go so long that the pot burns.

Meanwhile, melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Season the scallops on both sides with salt and pepper. Sear each scallop on the first side until it is golden brown and then flip over, about 5 to 6 minutes in total, until the scallop is firm, opaque, and just cooked through.

Once the reduction is “dry,” either keep the flame on very low heat, or take the pan off the heat altogether, using the residual heat from the pan to melt the butter. First add the cream. Then, whisk in bits of the remaining butter a few at a time, whisking continuously, so that as the butter softens, it does not melt, but stays opaque and emulsifies. Strain the sauce.

Plate the scallops on a bed of beurre blanc. Garnish with some fronds of chervil and a few dried chamomile flowers. Serves one as a main, two as a starter. Double the recipe for larger servings.

Seared Scallops with Espresso Buerre Blanc

1 small shallot, finely diced
5 stems of parsley (stems only), coarsely chopped
4 black peppercorns
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cider vinegar
1 teaspoon instant espresso dissolved in 1/4 cup recently boiled water
1 tablespoon heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar
Fine sea salt
1 stick (8 tablespoons or 4 ounces) very cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes, plus 1 tablespoon
12 to 16 large sea scallops


In a small saucepot, add the shallot, parsley stems, peppercorns, cider vinegar, and espresso powder dissolved in hot water. Bring to simmer over medium heat and simmer until reduced to 2 teaspoons, about 10 minutes.

Whisk in the heavy cream, then begin adding the stick of cubed butter, about 3 small cubes at a time, whisking constantly. Add more butter only once the butter just added has melted into sauce. Once all butter is incorporated, remove from heat, add sugar and season to taste with salt. Strain into a bowl, and set aside.

Working quickly, melt remaining tablespoon butter in a heavy-bottomed 12-inch stainless steel skillet over medium-high heat until butter foams at edge of pan. Pat scallops dry on paper towel, and season lightly with fine sea salt. Sear scallops 3 minutes on first side, until golden brown. Turn and sear 2 minutes on reverse side.

Plate the dish with a puddle of beurre blanc in the center, and scallops nestled on top. Serve immediately.

Scallops with Asparagus Sauce

6 sea scallops
Salt
1 pound asparagus
1/2 cup warm chicken broth
2-3 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp canola or grapeseed oil or other high smoke-point oil


Salt the scallops well and set aside at room temperature while you make the asparagus sauce.

Steam the asparagus for the sauce. Use a potato peeler to shave the outer layer off the asparagus spears, up to about three-quarters of the way up the spear. This part is more fibrous and will not break down as well in the blender. Chop into 2-inch pieces. Boil the asparagus in a pot of salted water for 5-8 minutes. This is longer than you?d normally cook asparagus, but you want the spears to blend well later.

3 Remove the asparagus from the pot. If you want to retain that vibrant green color, shock them in an ice bath. Put them in a food processor or blender. Add half the chicken stock and purée until smooth. (If you want an even smoother texture you can push the purée through a fine mesh sieve or a food mill.) Pour the sauce into a small pot and add the butter. Heat over very low heat until the butter melts, but do not let it boil, or even simmer. The sauce should be warm, not hot. If the sauce is too thick you can add more chicken stock. Add salt to taste.

4 Pat the scallops dry with a paper towel. Heat a sauté pan on high heat. Add a high smoke point oil like canola or grapeseed oil, and let it heat up for 2 minutes. The pan should be very hot. If it starts to smoke, move the pan off the heat. Lay in the scallops in the pan, well separated from each other. You might need to sear in batches.

If your scallops are thicker than 1 inch, turn the heat down to medium-high. Most sea scallops are about an inch. Let them sear without moving for at least 3-4 minutes. Keep an eye on them. You will see a crust beginning to form on the outside edge of the scallop, and the meat will begin to whiten upward. A good time to check the scallop is when you see a golden brown ring at the edge of the scallop. Try picking it up with tongs, and if it comes cleanly, check it – you should see a deep golden sear. If not, let it back down and keep searing.

5 When the scallops are well seared on one side, turn them over and sear on high heat for 1 minute (give or take). Then turn off the heat. The residual heat will continue to cook the scallops for a few minutes. Let the scallops cook for at least another minute, or more if you like your scallops well-done.

To serve pour a little sauce in the middle of the plate, top with the scallops, the more browned side up.

Serve at once. Garnish with a little chopped parsley if you want, and maybe with a wedge of lemon.

Baked Scallops

2 lbs scallops (about 4 cups)
1 cup dry white wine
Salt
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, separated 3 tbsp and 3 Tbsp
1 medium onion, chopped fine
2 1/2 Tbsp flour
1/2 cup fine bread crumbs


1 Preheat oven to 400?F. Place scallops in a medium saut? pan. Add the wine and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, cover and simmer for 4 minutes. No longer. Remove the scallops to a 1.5 quart casserole baking dish. Pour off the cooking liquid to a separate container and reserve.

2 Heat 3 Tbsp butter in the saut? pan on medium heat. Add the onions and cook until wilted, a couple minutes.

3 Slowly sprinkle the flour and add the cooking liquid over the butter onion mixture, whisking vigorously while you do so. As soon as the sauce is thickened, add it to the scallops in the casserole baking dish. Stir to fully incorporate the scallops into the sauce.

4 Sprinkle bread crumbs over the scallops and dot with the remaining 3 Tbsp butter. Bake in the oven at 400?F until bubbly and brown, approximately 15 minutes.

Serves 6. Serve with lemon slices.

French Apple Cake

3/4 cup (110g) flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
4 large apples (a mix of varieties)
2 large eggs, at room temperature
3/4 cup (150g) sugar
3 tablespoons dark rum
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
8 tablespoons (115g) butter, salted or unsalted, melted and cooled to room temperature


1. Preheat the oven to 350?F (180?C) and adjust the oven rack to the center of the oven.

2. Heavily butter an 8- or 9-inch (20-23cm) springform pan and place it on a baking sheet.

3. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

4. Peel and core the apples, then dice them into 1-inch (3cm) pieces.

5. In a large bowl, beat the eggs until foamy then whisk in the sugar, then rum and vanilla. Whisk in half of the flour mixture, then gently stir in half of the melted butter

6. Stir in the remaining flour mixture, then the rest of the butter.

7. Fold in the apple cubes until they?re well-coated with the batter and scrape them into the prepared cake pan and smooth the top a little with a spatula.

8. Bake the cake for 50 minute to 1 hour, or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool for 5 minutes, then run a knife around the edge to loosen the cake from the pan and carefully remove the sides of the cake pan, making sure no apples are stuck to it.

Serving: Serve wedges of the cake just by itself, or with cr?me fra?che or vanilla ice cream.

Storage: The cake will keep for up to three days covered. Since the top is very moist, it?s best to store it under a cake dome or overturned bowl.

Roasted Autumn Vegetables with Herbs

2 cups of peeled and cubed winter squash, cut into 3/4 dice
2 cups cubed thin-skinned red, white and/or Yukon gold potatoes (preferably a combination), cut into 3/4 dice
2 cups trimmed and halved Brusslies (Brussels sprouts)(measured after cutting)
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Kosher salt
3 large shallots, coarsely chopped (about 1 1/2 cup)
3 medium cloves of garlic, minced
2 medium bay leaves (preferably fresh)
3-4 tablespoons sherry vinegar, or more, to taste
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh marjoram leaves
3 tablespoons chopped parsley


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss the squash cubes and diced potatoes in 2 teaspoons of oil. Put them on a baking sheet and and sprinkle on a pinch of salt. Roast for 20 minutes, turning the cubes over and stirring briefly after the first 10 minutes. The vegetables should be fork tender and just starting to caramelize.

Toss the Brusslies (Brussels sprouts) in 1 teaspoon of oil and a tiny pinch of salt and roast for about 15 minutes. If you like them softer and browner, cook them a bit longer.

Heat a large skillet until fairly hot, then add the remaining tablespoon of oil and the bay leaves. Cook for about ten seconds, stirring, and then add the shallots. Cook over medium heat with a pinch of salt, stirring constantly. When the shallots are wilted and somewhat translucent, add the chopped garlic and cook for another minute or so.

Deglaze the pan with the vinegar and, with the heat on medium, add the squash and the potatoes. Toss very gently to combine with the shallots and garlic. Cook over medium low heat for a minute or so.

Add the herbs and toss again carefully and cook over medium low heat, stirring, for another minute.
Add the Brusslies, and test for salt and correct, if necessary. Grind on fresh pepper to taste, and carefully toss again. Remove the bay leaves before serving.

Roasted Cauliflower with Gremolata Bread Crumbs

2 large heads cauliflower
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
Zest of 1 lemon
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh parsley


Trim tough stem and core from cauliflower and discard. Using a paring knife, cut cauliflower into smaller spears. Place in a large bowl. Add 1/4 cup oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper; toss to combine.

Spread cauliflower out on 2 large, rimmed baking sheets. Roast until edges start to brown, about 20 minutes, stirring halfway through.

Meanwhile, heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a large saut? pan over medium-high heat. Add panko and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and stir to coat in oil. Cook, stirring constantly, until bread crumbs are golden. Add lemon zest and garlic and toss until mixture is very fragrant and bread crumbs are golden brown, about 2 minutes. Place in a medium bowl and add parsley, stirring to combine. Set aside.

Remove cauliflower from oven and place on serving platter. Top with bread crumbs and serve immediately.