Cooking With Honey – Portobello Mushroom Lasagna

mushroom lasagna

I love this recipe for this time of year! Nothing out of season and intensely fulfilling, both in taste and texture. Perfect to have on hand for lunches or late night snacking. Enjoy!

Yield:  6 servings

Ingredients:

Kosher salt

Good olive oil

3/4 pound dried lasagna noodles

4 cups whole milk

12 tablespoons (11/2 sticks) unsalted butter, divided

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon honey

1 1/2 pounds portobello mushrooms

1 cup freshly ground Parmesan

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil with 1 tablespoon salt and a splash of oil. Add the lasagna noodles and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Drain and set aside.

For the white sauce, bring the milk to a simmer in a saucepan. Set aside. Melt 8 tablespoons (1 stick) of the butter in a large saucepan. Add the flour and cook for 1 minute over low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Pour the hot milk into the butter-flour mixture all at once. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt, the pepper, and nutmeg, and cook over medium-low heat, stirring first with the wooden spoon and then with a whisk, for 3 to 5 minutes, until thick. Add honey and set aside off heat

Separate the mushroom stems from the caps and discard the stems. Slice the caps 1/4-inch thick. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil and 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large (12-inch) saute pan. When the butter melts, add half the mushrooms, sprinkle with salt, and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes, until the mushrooms are tender and they release some of their juices. If they become too dry, add a little more oil. Toss occasionally to make sure the mushrooms cook evenly. Repeat with the remaining mushrooms and set all the mushrooms aside.

To assemble the lasagna, spread some of the sauce in the bottom of an 8 by 12 by 2-inch baking dish. Arrange a layer of noodles on top, then more sauce, then 1/3 of the mushrooms, and 1/4 cup grated Parmesan. Repeat 2 more times, layering noodles, sauce, mushrooms, and Parmesan. Top with a final layer of noodles and sauce, and sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan.

Bake the lasagna for 45 minutes, or until the top is browned the sauce is bubbly and hot. Allow to sit at room temperature for 15 minutes and serve hot.

Thanksgiving 2013 – Old-Fashioned Southern Green Beans

It wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without Southern green beans. This is the real thing, and they’re even better the next day!

Yield:  12 servings

Ingredients:

2-3 lbs. fresh green beans

5 cups water

4-5 oz. smoked hog jowl

1 teaspoon salt (more or less, depending on saltiness of the seasoning meat)

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 tablespoon (or more) honey

A red-pepper pod or red-pepper flakes

1 onion, quartered

Directions:

Put the water, smoked hog jowl, honey, onion, red pepper, salt, and pepper in a 5-quart Dutch oven and bring to a boil on high heat. Place the lid on the pot, turn the heat down to low, and simmer for 30 minutes or more.

While the hog jowl is simmering, you’ll have time to prepare the green beans. Remove the ends and strings, and snap into pieces of desired length, discarding any beans that are blemished or wilted. Wash the beans in cold water and drain.

When the hog jowl has simmered for at least 30 minutes, remove any scum from the surface of the water. Add the green beans to the pot, turn up the heat, and bring back to a boil.

Once the water has reached a good boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer the beans — partially covered — for 3 full hours. It’s important to simmer the beans with the pot only partially covered. Between the pot and the edge of the lid, leave an opening of at least a quarter of an inch on one side, so that the steam can easily escape.

Once an hour or so, gently turn the beans so that those on the bottom are brought to the top and vice versa. The reason: the beans on the top will not be in contact with the water, and it’s important that all the beans in the pot get some time on top, out of the water.

In determining the heat setting on which to simmer the beans, the goal is to simmer them for 3 hours such that the water and the 3 hours run out at pretty much the same time. If you’ve simmered the beans for 3 hours and there is still water in the pot, just turn up the heat a tad and keep simmering until the water is gone. Of course, if you’ve used too much heat, you may have to add a little water before the end to keep the pot from boiling dry — just don’t cook the beans any less than 3 hours. You’ll probably find, however, that in a 5-quart Dutch oven 5 cups of water will just about be gone if you’ve simmered on low heat, with the lid 1/4 inch open, for 3 hours.

When done, the beans will be a good bit darker green than before being cooked. Adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper. Remove the beans from the pot and put them in a serving bowl.

Thanksgiving 2013 – Garlic Cheese Grits And Spinach Souffle

cheese grits and spinach

Let’s face it – Thanksgiving is all about carbs. I can’t just settle for mashed potatoes and mac and cheese — I must serve cheese grits as well!

This is a wonderful recipe. It combines the essence of the traditional cheese grits casserole with the sophistication of a spinach souffle. Your vegetarian guests will thank you!

Honey is a natural flavor enhancer. While there is only one tablespoon in this recipe, the honey makes the souffle tastier without making it sweet.

Yield: 12 generous servings

Ingredients:

1½ teaspoons plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

½ cup finely grated Parmesan

3 2/3 cups milk (not skim)

1 cup stone-ground or old-fashioned grits

Salt and black pepper

1½ cups grated sharp cheddar

1 tablespoon honey

1 clove garlic, minced

1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce

4 large eggs, separated, at room temperature

6 ounces baby spinach leaves (7½ cups loosely packed)

6 scallions thinly sliced (2/3 cup), 1 tablespoon reserved

Directions:  Grease a 2-quart souffle dish with 1½ teaspoons butter, dust with 3 tablespoons of the Parmesan, and set aside.

In a medium non-stick saucepan bring the milk and the 2 tablespoons of butter to a simmer over medium heat. Add the grits in a slow, steady stream, stirring constantly. Add 1 teaspoon salt, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook, stirring, until grits are thick and begin to pull away from the sides of the pan when you stir, 7 to 10 minutes.

Remove pan from heat and stir in 1¼ cups of the cheddar, the remaining Parmesan, honey, garlic, hot pepper sauce, and black pepper to taste. Set aside to cool slightly, about 15 minutes. Taste the grits and adjust the seasoning, if necessary. Add the egg yolks one at a time, stirring vigorously to incorporate each before adding the next. Stir in the spinach by handfuls.

With an electric mixer, beat the egg whites until they are thick and glossy and hold stiff peaks. Add a quarter of the whites to the grits mixture and, using a spatula, stir until just combined. Add remaining whites and rapidly but gently fold them in along with the scallions.

Spoon the batter into the prepared dish, smooth, sprinkle with the remaining cheddar, and bake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 375 degrees and continue baking until the souffle is puffed, golden brown, and barely jiggles when you shake the pan, 35 to 40 minutes longer. Sprinkle with reserved scallions and serve at once.

Cooking With Honey – Pumpkin Creme Brulee

pump creme brulee

It’s pumpkin season! It makes me happy to see them on sale everywhere.

It also inspires me to develop new honey recipes. This one is especially tasty!

Ingredients:

2 cups heavy cream

1/2 cup honey

4 teaspoons granulated sugar

8 large egg yolks

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg

1 cup canned pumpkin

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

Arrange 8 (1/2-cup) ramekins or custard cups in a large metal baking pan.

In a medium saucepan, combine the cream and honey . Bring to a bare simmer over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve the honey. Remove from the heat.

In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks until frothy and lemon-colored. Slowly add 3/4 cup of the hot cream mixture, whisking constantly. Add the egg mixture to the remaining hot cream, and whisk. Add the vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and pumpkin, and whisk until smooth. Divide among the prepared custard cups.

Add enough hot water to come halfway up the sides of the cups. Bake until the custards are just set in the center but not stiff, 45 minutes to 55 minutes. Remove from the oven and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 3 hours or overnight.

Sprinkle each custard with 1/2 teaspoon of the granulated sugar. Using a kitchen torch, caramelize the sugar. (Alternately, preheat the broiler, and broil until the sugar melts and caramelizes, watching closely to avoid burning and rotating the cups, about 1 to 2 minutes.)  Garnish with cinnamon and whipped cream.  Enjoy!

Cooking With Honey – Roasted Butternut Squash Soup With Honey, Pancetta, and Fried Sage Leaves

butternut soup

There are wonderful butternut squash available in the local markets, and today, cool and sunny, is a perfect day to prepare this tasty soup!

It’s what I’m having tonight!!

Yield:  Serves 4-6.

Ingredients:

1 (2 to 3-pound) butternut squash, halved with seeds removed

4 medium shallots, peeled and left whole

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, or to taste

2 ounces pancetta (about 12 paper-thin slices), diced

1 cup diced leeks, white part only (about 1 large leek)

1/3 cup finely diced carrots (about 1 small carrot)

1/3 cup finely diced celery (about 1 small stalk celery)

1 clove garlic, minced

1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh sage

1 tablespoon dry white wine, of drinkable quality

2 quarts rich chicken or vegetable stock, plus extra if needed

1 teaspoon honey, or to taste*

Splash of sour cream and/or hot sauce, for serving (optional)

Canola oil for frying

1/4 cup sage leaves

Fine sea salt, to taste

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Coat the squash and shallots with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and season generously with salt. Place  the squash and shallots onto the lined baking sheet and roast until the squash and shallots are tender when pierced with a skewer or the tip of a small knife, about 40-60 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside until needed.

Heat a large sauce pan or dutch oven over medium heat; add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and heat through. Add the pancetta and cook, stirring, until the fat has rendered and the pancetta is crisp. Remove from the heat, then use a slotted spoon to transfer the pancetta to a paper towel-lined plate; set aside until needed.

Return the pan to the heat and add the leeks, carrots and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are soft, but not browned, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and sage and cook, stirring, until very fragrant, about 1 minute more. Add the wine, scraping up any browned bits that have formed on the bottom of the pan (deglaze). Cook until the wine has evaporated, then add the stock.

Scrape the squash pulp from the skin and add the pulp, the shallots (scraping up any browned bits) and honey to the pan; bring the stock to the boil. Immediately reduce to a simmer and cook until all the vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes.

Use an immersion blender to puree the soup completely. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt, pepper and honey as desired. Keep the soup warm until service. (This is where you’d add the splash of sour cream to taste, if desired.)

For the Sage: In a small, heavy-bottomed sauce pan, heat 1-inch of oil to 365°F; fry the sage in batches, stirring to separate the leaves, until crisp, about 3 to 5 seconds. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain; season with fine sea salt while still hot.

For Serving: Ladle the soup into warmed soup bowls or cups. Top each serving with some of the crispy pancetta and a few fried sage leaves. Serve immediately.

*The honey doesn’t sweeten up the soup; it just enhances the caramel flavor of the roasted squash.

Easter Dinner – Garlic Cheese Grits And Spinach Souffle

cheese grits and spinach

I was raised on cheese grits casserole.  While I love the original, I also love this updated version.

Honey is a natural flavor enhancer. While there is only one tablespoon in this recipe, the honey makes the souffle tastier without making it sweet.

Ingredients:

1½ teaspoons plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

½ cup finely grated Parmesan

3 2/3 cups milk (not skim)

1 cup stone-ground or old-fashioned grits

Salt and black pepper

1½ cups grated sharp cheddar

1 tablespoon honey

1 clove garlic, minced

1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce

4 large eggs, separated, at room temperature

6 ounces baby spinach leaves (7½ cups loosely packed)

6 scallions thinly sliced (2/3 cup), 1 tablespoon reserved

Directions:  Grease a 2-quart souffle dish with 1½ teaspoons butter, dust with 3 tablespoons of the Parmesan, and set aside.

In a medium non-stick saucepan bring the milk and the 2 tablespoons of butter to a simmer over medium heat. Add the grits in a slow, steady stream, stirring constantly. Add 1 teaspoon salt, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook, stirring, until grits are thick and begin to pull away from the sides of the pan when you stir, 7 to 10 minutes.

Remove pan from heat and stir in 1¼ cups of the cheddar, the remaining Parmesan, honey, garlic, hot pepper sauce, and black pepper to taste. Set aside to cool slightly, about 15 minutes. Taste the grits and adjust the seasoning, if necessary. Add the egg yolks one at a time, stirring vigorously to incorporate each before adding the next. Stir in the spinach by handfuls.

With an electric mixer, beat the egg whites until they are thick and glossy and hold stiff peaks. Add a quarter of the whites to the grits mixture and, using a spatula, stir until just combined. Add remaining whites and rapidly but gently fold them in along with the scallions.

Spoon the batter into the prepared dish, smooth, sprinkle with the remaining cheddar, and bake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 375 degrees and continue baking until the souffle is puffed, golden brown, and barely jiggles when you shake the pan, 35 to 40 minutes longer. Sprinkle with reserved scallions and serve at once.

Honey-Glazed Tofu On Pumpkin Seed Couscous

Honey Tofu

To accompany today’s post about Aimee Mann, I wanted to post a vegan recipe. It is my understanding that vegan = hipster.  I ask you, who is more hip than Aimee?

Unfortunately, I learned that some folks don’t consider honey to be vegan. Something about bees being roughed up during the harvesting process. It’s known as the Great Vegan Honey Debate.

The Debate notwithstanding, I think Aimee would like this recipe. I can assure her I don’t rough up my bees.

Ever.

It’s always the other way around.  🙂

Yield:  6 servings

Ingredients

2 10-oz. pkgs. extra-firm tofu

2 tsp. cracked black pepper

2 tsp. dried thyme

1 tsp. salt

¼ cup vegetable oil

½ cup honey

2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth

2 medium carrots, chopped (1 cup)

1 cup frozen edamame, thawed

2 tsp. olive oil

1 tsp. salt

1 ½ cups whole-wheat couscous

½ cup toasted unsalted pumpkin seeds (If you can’t find shelled pumpkin seeds (also called pepitas), substitute your favorite chopped nuts.)

Directions

Place tofu between two plates and set heavy pot on top. Drain 10 minutes, and pat dry. Cut tofu into 3/8-inch-thick slices. Combine pepper, thyme, and salt in small bowl. Coat tofu slices with pepper mixture, and set aside.

Bring broth, carrots, edamame, olive oil, and salt to a boil in covered saucepan. Remove from heat, stir in couscous and cover. Let steam 5 minutes, then fluff with fork.

Meanwhile, heat oil and honey in large skillet over medium-high heat until bubbling. Place tofu in pan, and cook 3 minutes. Turn, and cook 3 minutes more, spooning thickening sauce over tofu.

To serve: Stir pumpkin seeds into couscous. Spoon onto plates, and top with Honey-Glazed Tofu.