Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Roots: Mashed Carrots and Parsnips

Ahh, root vegetables, how I love thee...
It was an evening similar to many when I often find myself working late and can not really put much of an effort into cooking. I was hungry and craving a burger or some other kind of fattening brain food. I decided to order a fancy burger for delivery from one of the many steakhouses in the Boston area. After waiting 45min., Foodler called and informed me that they were not able to reach the restaurant! This has never happened to me before. My stomach was in an uproar! I decided to call a restaurant across the street and order a pasta dish. A friendly voice answered the phone and when I said that I was calling to place an order for take-out, she put me on hold. I hung on for what seemed like an eternity and finally hung up in frustration. I decided to take another look in my fridge and what did I find?! Carrots and parsnips, oh my! Parsnips are one of my all time favorite vegetables! I just had some dental work done, so I could not eat anything hard or chewy. What to do...ha, I will boil them and mash them up silly! 

                                                              Look how pretty!

1lb. of carrots 
2 Parsnips
2Tbls butter
Spices: cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg to taste

Peel and cut carrots and parsnips into thirds. Drop them into a pot and fill with water until just covered. Add some salt and boil until you can cut thru the roots easily with a butter knife. Next, drain the water and add the roots back into the pot. Add 2Tbls of butter, pepper, some cinnamon (maybe 1/4Tsp.), a sprinkle of nutmeg and a little cardamom. Mash them up! Note: You will start to notice that I put cardamom in almost everything. I love the spice! Remind me to write a post about my finnish coffee bread recipe passed down from my Finnish relatives... 
I sprinkled a little parsley on top once the mashed roots were in a bowl. I usually am not a fan of using parsley or garnishing a dish, but this time it somehow made sense. I think the parsley compliments the root veggies.
** For an extra treat, peel, core and chop up some apple. Place in the microwave for a min. or two on high and add to the mashed roots. You may have to drain a little water from the apples prior to adding them. 

This would make a great side dish for anything really or just eat as a meal like I did! 

The moral of this recipe is that you might be able to utilize the ingredients you have in your fridge before spending money on some take-out that might make you feel awful and you just might come up with a simple, healthy & delicious recipe like this one! Enjoy your roots! :)

Monday, March 21, 2011

Shortbread Cookies

Shortbread cookies are classic. I have made them dipped in milk chocolate in the past and they are always a hit! I decided to try out a couple of new ideas for a family gathering I recently attended. The first idea came from South End Formaggio where there is always something new to try. I spotted some shortbread cookies with rosemary while shopping around for cheese a couple of weeks ago. Next idea came from a catering event I attended while helping a friend promote his business. It was a very fun and delicious event. I tried some shortbread cookies with white chocolate and pistachios while I was there. They were so good that I had to make them!

The basic recipe is very simple.
Source: Betty Crocker's Cookbook, Page 157
yield: ~ 2 dozen

1 Stick of butter, softened.
1/4 C Sugar
2C Flour (not the rising kind)

Preheat oven to 350 ยบ F. Mix sugar and butter together in large bowl. Add flour. If dough is too crumbly, add in 1-2Tbsp of additional butter. I added 1 more Tbsp and the dough was perfect. Divide dough and add in 1Tbsp of chopped rosemary to one half. I also added in some lemon zest to another piece of dough to try it out. Looks pretty, but I only used about 1/2tsp. and could not really taste it.

Roll out the dough to about 1/2" thickness and cut out cookies to desired shape using a knife or cookie cutter. 

Bake until the edges are golden brown. Approx. 10min. The recipe says to bake up to 20min. or until set. I think it depends on how thin your cookies are. I would keep an eye on them! 

Immediately remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. I placed them on a plate and they were fine.

If you are like me in the kitchen, keep an ice pack handy..two fingers fell victim to a hot cookie sheet this time!

Next, prepare your toppings. Here we have some Valrohna Ivoire Feves 35% Cocoa White Chocolate from Whole Foods. I'm not a big white chocolate fan, but this was very good! They came in the shape of small ovals which was good for melting. The milk chocolate was from Trader Joe's. I bought a package of their Milk Chocolate Minis. I would probably go with a better milk chocolate or a darker chocolate next time. 

The milk chocolate became mixed in with the white creating a nice marble pattern on some of the cookies!

The final products:
All were a hit, especially the rosemary


White Chocolate with Pistachio 

Milk and White Chocolate Dipped

Note: I chilled the chocolate covered cookies in the freezer until the chocolate was set. Store in sealed container in the fridge or serve immediately.

There is so much you can do with this recipe. 
Here are some other ideas:

-Add in some toasted, chopped nuts, cardamom, and or cinnamon to the dough mixture
-Add some lemon or lime zest to the white chocolate before dipping
-Use some melted butterscotch morsels for dipping
-Put some chocolate mousse between two cookies for a mousse sandwich
-Create a little shortbread cookie house! ;)

Have fun with it and be creative with your shortbread!

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