Wednesday, September 25, 2013

cauliflower butternut squash gratin with turkey meatballs

Give me comfort. Give me Autumn. Give me BALLS. That was my thought process on this recipe. And it satisfied all three of these criteria. Savor the scent of sage and roasting vegetables. Get cozy with the comfort of creaminess. Eat this with the windows open so you can feel the cool air and smell the falling leaves. Welcome the seasonal change with an open casserole dish!

Cauliflower Butternut Squash Gratin with Turkey Sage Meatballs

For the meatballs:
-1.5 lbs. ground turkey
-1 egg
-1 cup panko breadcrumbs
-1/2 teaspoon dried sage
-1/2 teaspoon tried thyme
-1 clove garlic, minced
-1/4 teaspoon white pepper
-salt and pepper to taste

For the Gratin:
-4 slices bacon, cut into bite-size pieces
-1/2 cup all purpose flour
-8 oz. chvre (soft goat cheese)
-2 cups heavy cream
-1 cup buttermilk
-6 or 7 fresh sage leaves, chopped
-1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
-1 butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
salt and pepper to taste
-1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
-1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
-olive oil to drizzle/spray

Make the meatballs first: combine all the meatball ingredients well with your hands and form into 1-inch balls. Set aside.

Cook the bacon until just crispy. Remove from pan, leaving the bacon grease. Cook the meatballs in the bacon grease in 2 batches until browned on all sides (they don't necessarily need to be cooked through at this point. Put all the meatballs back into the pan and sprinkle the flour over them. Toss to coat the meatballs. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 400ºF.

Heat the cream and buttermilk over low heat in a sauce pan. crumble up the chevre and add it. Add the fresh sage. Stir until the cheese is melted, without letting it come to a simmer.

Combine the bread crumbs and parmesan. Set aside.

Arrange the cauliflower, squash, bacon pieces and meatballs in a large casserole dish or 2 smaller ones so everything is evenly distributed. Pour the cream and cheese mixture over the veggies and meatballs. Bake for about 40 minutes, adding the bread crumb mixture and drizzle with olive oil to the top after 15 minutes. When the topping is golden brown and the casserole is bubbling evenly, remove from oven and let cool 10 minutes before serving.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Bacon Caramel Aebleskivers

Did you miss me? I had a bit of a hiatus happening there... went on vacation then came back from vacation (you know how that is), so there hasn't been a lot of time to play in the kitchen. The good news is that my travels have given me plenty of material to last the next month! The first big stop was actually an unplanned one. On our way to Asheville, North Carolina, as we drove the gorgeous Smoky Mountains in Tennessee, I spotted a billboard for the Lodge cast iron factory store!! I didn't know we'd be driving right by where my favorite pan was made!! This was a must-stop.

Yeah, a whole store filled with cast iron cookware and accessories. I was like a kid in a candy store. I behaved, though. I resisted getting the commemorative skillets pictured above and even this amazing apron:

Kinda regretting that decision... I did, however, pick up an Aebleskiver pan. It's The Year of More Balls, after all. Had to. 
Aebleskivers are Danish pancakes made in this special pan that make them turn out ball-shaped. Brilliant! They taste like pancakes, but you eat them like donut holes! Portable pancakes, basically. In my research I found that the possibilities are pretty endless with this spherical batter pan... there are entire Aebleskiver cookbooks out there (my birthday is in March)!

I stuck with a more traditional batter the first time... and I added some fun to the middles... caramel and bacon! This gives you the sweet and salty flavors that are so right for breakfasts. 

Aebleskivers take a bit of practice. My first batch was pretty tore up. Just make sure to grease the rounds well, and don't try to turn them before they want to turn. If they don't move with a bit of nudging with the skewer they aren't ready yet and you will tear them. You'll get the hang of it fast, though, once you catch on to the Aebleskiver's tricks.

Bacon Caramel Aebleskivers

  • 1 cups of white whole grain flour 
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour 
  • 1/2 teaspoon Bacon Salt (or regular salt) 
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder 
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda 
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon 
  • 2 tablespoons sugar  
  • 2 cups buttermilk 
  • 2 eggs, separated 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla  
  • 4 slices bacon, cooked and cut into about 24 pieces, bacon grease reserved 
  • 12 caramels, cut in half 
  • powdered sugar for serving 
In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, sugar, and cinnamon. Set aside.  
In a separate bowl, whisk the buttermilk, egg yolks and vanilla together. Set aside.
Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. 
Mix the buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture. Then fold in egg whites. 
Heat an Aebleskiver pan on the stove over medium heat. Add about 1/2 teaspoon of bacon grease to each hole in the pan, swirl to coat. 
Add enough batter to almost come to the top of each round. When the batter starts to bubble up on the sides, stick a caramel half and bacon piece in the middle. Use a wooden skewer to turn the batter 1/4 of the way around. Cook each turn for about one minute. be patient, your first batch will be rough. Repeat with the remaining batter. Sprinkle finished pancakes with powdered sugar and enjoy warm. They will also freeze well.

2013: Year of MORE BALLS Posts:
Coconut Lime Blackberry Yogurt Balls