Recipe of the week

Sweet Potato Peanut Butter Dip by Foodie’s Chef Laura Brennan

One must give credit where credit is due. This recipe is based on an idea from the FOOD52 website. It was posted as a spread for a fluffernutter sandwich! I was intrigued, not by the marshmallow fluff, but by the idea of combining peanut butter with sweet potato puree. It sounded delicious. And it is! I have made a dip and am going to serve it with fresh & dried fruits and simple cookies. A colleague suggested adding carrot and celery sticks…that works too!

Pumpkin Pecan Spice Bread by Foodie’s Chef Laura Brennan

This is a ‘quick’ bread; so named because it’s chemically leavened with baking soda and/or baking powder instead of yeast or a sourdough starter. ‘Quick’ breads include biscuits, muffins and loaf breads like banana, zucchini and this pumpkin bread. It comes together very quickly; the dry ingredients are combined with the wet ingredients. Add toasted nuts if you like (I used pecans, but walnuts would work as well.) Bake the batter in a prepared (buttered & floured) loaf pan and drizzle with a confectioner’s glaze when the loaf has cooled a bit.

Kimchi Rachel Sandwich by Foodie’s Chef Laura Brennan

OK...What’s a ‘Rachel’ sandwich, you ask? It’s the classic ‘Reuben’ sandwich with sliced turkey substituted for the usual corned beef. I guess it’s ‘lighter fare’ for the Ladies; hence the ‘ladies’ name. Setting all that aside for the moment, I envisioned a classic, warm & toasted deli sandwich imbued with the subtly spicy flavors of Korea. Here, Gochujang chili paste** and Kimchi pickled cabbage*** replace the traditional Thousand Island Dressing and Sauerkraut.

PUMPKIN PECAN CRANBERRY COBBLER by Foodie’s Chef Laura Brennan

It’s October…. time for all good things pumpkin and pumpkin spice. This recipe was inspired by Chef Jasper White’s Apple Crunch Recipe. Chef Jasper, now retired, was a major player on the Boston fine-dining scene for many decades. His cobbler recipe used 3 different varieties of apples and an oat & toasted pecan topping. His recipe is classic New England and a winner. I pondered his recipe for a few days and thought: what about pumpkin instead of apple cobbler?? I started researching recipes and discovered that pumpkin cobblers were all made with canned pumpkin puree. Easier, but texturally blah. Why not use fresh pumpkin, or in this case, fresh butternut squash? I have cut the squash into cubes and partially roasted the squash before building and baking the cobbler. This ingredient change yields a cobbler that teases your palate with texture and flavor.

Beef Barley Soup by Foodie’s Chef Laura Brennan

As soon as I start closing the windows, but before the heat goes on, I think of soup. Not the aromatic fish chowders of summer, nor the elegant cream soups of the fast-approaching holiday season. No, for me it’s the chunky, hearty Campbells soups of mychildhood.... except now I know that they taste so much better when I make them myself.

Spanish Rice Pilaf by Foodie’s Chef Laura Brennan

‘PILAF’ is a method of cooking rice and/or wheat. The rice kernels are coated in oil and/or butter until they are ‘hot to the touch’. Simmering stock (or other liquid) is added and the pot is covered and put into the oven to simmer and steam. This technique results in ‘fluffy’ rice.

Heirloom Tomato Sandwich with Miso & Nori (Seaweed Leaf) by Foodie’s Chef Laura Brennan

It’s officially tomato season in Massachusetts, and I was invited back to judge the 37th Annual Tomato Contest, sponsored by the Massachusetts Department of Agriculture. Last year I judged the cherry tomatoes and this year, it was the Heirlooms. So, a recipe for an heirloom tomato sandwich makes perfect sense. I grew up eating home-grown tomato sandwiches with mayonnaise and sliced red onion (once known as a ‘Bermuda’ onion) on toast. Fast-forward a few decades and I’m making tomato sandwiches on toasted sesame bagels with miso and nori/seaweed sheets. The tomato and miso pair perfectly together—it’s very umami, very satisfying. Use mild miso. I used an organic Shiro miso: white, sweet, and mellow. (Miso is a Japanese fermented soybean and rice paste.) I split and toasted the bagel, and I did butter it before I spread the miso. Omit this step if you wish.

Cauliflower Hummus with Cashew Crema by Foodie’s Chef Laura Brennan

Hummus has blown-up in recent years. What used to be defined and made only with chickpeas and tahini, has grown to embrace a myriad of vegetables and flavors. Twenty years ago, I never thought I would be eating ‘chocolate hummus’—and it’s delicious, BTW. So why cauliflower? It does seem like such a winter vegetable; smooth cauliflower soup recipes abound in January and February. But it’s being sold in the farmers’ markets now! And I know that long, slow cooking, will turn it into a sweet and delicious puree. The cashew crema is the substitute for the ubiquitous tahini. It is creamy, rich and smooth and adds a subtle, nutty background flavor. It’s simple to make, just soak unroasted and unsalted cashews overnight, drain, rinse and puree to a smooth nut-cream. And any leftovers can be saved to add to pasta dishes or used as a vegan-cream sauce.

Watermelon ‘Pizza-Pie’ by Foodie’s Chef Laura Brennan

No crust.  No dough.  No cooking.  And no baking is required.  Festive and Impressive.  Quick and easy. It’s all you need as part of a summer dessert tableau. I took a slice from a whole, small watermelon and cut it into 6 wedges, but you could easily buy pre-cut wedges of watermelon and put 6 or 8 wedges together to form a circle.  The toppings will cover any variations in the shape/size of the ‘pie’.   And feel free to vary and/or augment the toppings—add shaved chocolate, different fruits (like sliced peaches), toasted coconut, crushed meringue cookies or toasted marshmallows (yummy).

An Easy-Peasy Middle Eastern Wrap by Foodie’s Chef Laura Brennan

Becoming a confident cook includes developing the ability to choose excellent store-bought ingredients and using them with creativity and finesse. For example, to make this sandwich a bit more substantial and delicious, and of course quicker & easier to prepare, I added diced fresh plum tomatoes, diced cucumbers, feta cheese, chickpeas, olive oil and a touch of lemon to a
pint container of our Bay Sweets Market Tabouli Salad. I also chose our Bay Sweets black olive flavored hummus as a spread and then marched over to our deli and grabbed ready-grilled chicken skewers. I added a few chopped dill pickles (or use sliced pepperoncini peppers), wrapped it up tightly in a 10-inch flour tortilla wrap and sliced it in half. The tortilla flour wrap is sturdy, and this sandwich will hold together if you are thinking of taking it on the road. (Yes...beach food!)