Onion Jam Allumettes

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These little morsels will be the talk of your holiday cocktail party.  the sweet-salt balance is subtle enough to compliment everything from champagne to your most complicated mixological concoction.

Allumette is the classic term for strips of puff pastry. The word means matchstick, but these are certainly not meant to be that thin. Aim for creating small, thin, bite-sized rectangles.

Ingredients

2 ½ pounds red onion, peeled, cut in half, and sliced thin

¼ cup olive oil

1 teaspoon unrefined sea salt—try Halen Mōn, flor de sal, a smoked salt, or a salt infused with shitake or truffles.

¼ teaspoon pepper

2 bay leaves

2 sprigs fresh thyme

¼ cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup dry white wine

1/3 red wine vinegar

1 egg

1 tablespoon water

1 package frozen puff pastry, defrosted in the refrigerator overnight (See the Frozen Puff Pastry in Techniques)

Method

  1. Heat oil in a large, heavy skillet over high heat. Add onions, reduce heat, and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes, until the onions begin to sweat and soften. Cover the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, over low heat until they begin to color—about 30 minutes.
  1. Add ½ teaspoon of the salt, the pepper, the bay and thyme. Cover and continue to cook another 30 minutes.
  1. Add sugar, wine, and vinegars. Increase heat and bring to a boil, stirring, for 3-5 minutes. Reduce heat to as the liquid reduces, and the onions are creamy and sticky.
  1. Cool mixture, then transfer to a plastic tub and refrigerate. (If you make a large enough batch, you can sock some away for use throughout the year—it only gets better with age!)
  1. Preheat the oven to 450° F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and coat it with pan spray. Whisk together the egg and water to make an egg wash. Open the defrosted frozen puff pastry into a rectangle and rollout slightly, to flatten. You don’t need to reduce the thickness too much—it should be about ¼ inch thick. Brush the surface with the egg wash. Set it in the freezer for 5 minutes so that the dough stays firm when cut.
  1. sing a pastry wheel (aka pizza cutter) cut the chilled, egg washed puff pastry into ½ -inch-wide by 3-inch-long strips. Place them on the prepared baking sheet, about ½-inch apart. Top each wih a small dollop of onion jam, and a sprinkle of sea salt. Chill again for 5 -10 minutes. Bake until golden and puffed, about 15 minutes. Rotate the pan as necessary for even browning. Cool slightly, then arrange on a platter and serve.

 

Easy Smoked Sausage

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Feel like showing off this summer?  This recipe is a great way to do it.  Don’t let the fact that it is “homemade sausage” intimidate you!  You can totally handle this!

Homemade sausage is great on a number of levels—you can control the quality of meat, the type of seasoning, and you get a tremendous sense of accomplishment. The smoke in this version comes from smoked salt (either store bought or homemade). If you are not a smoke fan, see the Variations for more easy sausage recipes.

Ingredients

2-3 pounds ground beef (75-80% lean)

¾ cup cold water

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons mustard seeds, toasted and ground

3 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper

¼ – ½ teaspoon red chili flake

2 tablespoons unrefined smoked salt

1 tablespoon Prague Powder #1 (This is potassium nitrate aka “curing salt”, aka “instacure”, aka”saltpeter” – it inhibits bacteria growth, and keeps the meat from turing gray – which is gross. Be careful, as this salt is only for curing, not seasoning–it’s toxic in large amounts.)

Method

  1. In a large bowl, or a standing electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together meat and water until well emulsified. Add remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly.
  1. Roll the meat into 2-3 thin logs (sausage shaped) and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Chill for 24 hours.
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F, and line a roasting pan with a rack to elevate the meat above the drippings. Unwrap the sausage, set them on the rack, and bake for 1 hour, or until the internal temperature reaches 160 F.   Serve immediately as a warm sausage, or cool, re-wrap, and chill completely in the refrigerator for cold sliced sausage.

Variations

Game Meat – This same recipe can be made with any ground meat you have on had. It is particularly nice with venison. Be sure to check the internal temperature recommended for the type of meat you chose.

Andouille – Spicy Louisiana style sausage can be approximated by using ground pork (either all or part) and adding to the existing spices an additional teaspoon of freshly ground toasted cumin, paprika, dried thyme, dried oregano, and a pinch each of clove and allspice. Cook this to 160 F as well.

 

Roasted Root Vegetable Salad

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roasted-root-vegetables-from-slim-palateHere’s another great way to highlight your fancy salt!  It’s a nice variation on your typical Turkey-Day fare. (I get sick of the same ol’ same ol’.)  This dish is typically though of as a side dish, but I like to call it a salad, because I can easily eat just this for lunch–or breakfast for that matter.   I really like it at room temperature, slightly al dente, with a tangy dressing and a bit of a crunch. Of course, you can use it as a side dish if you want. It’s your kitchen.

Ingredients

1 butternut squash

1 sweet potato

1 red or yellow beet

1 parsnip

1 yellow onion

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon unrefined salt – try Bavarian rock salt, Portuguese sel gris, Peruvian pink, smoked salt, or a salt infused with rosemary or red wine

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

2 cloves garlic, sliced

1 tablespoon honey

1 tablespoon cider vinegar

1 cup apple juice

½ cup toasted pecans, chopped

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.   Dice squash, potato, beet, parsnip, and onion into 1-2 inch chunks.   Quarter the onion, leaving the root in tact. Toss them all in olive oil and spread onto a baking sheet. Roast until tender and crisp on the outside. Sprinkle with ½ teaspoon of salt, then set aside at room temperature.
  1. Meanwhile heat the butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until translucent, about 30-60 seconds. Stir in honey, vinegar, and apple juice. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring, until the liquid is reduced to syrup consistency, about 3-5 minutes. Keep your eye on this. It will happen fast!
  1. Combine the glaze, roasted roots, and pecans in a large bowl and toss to coat. Season with more salt as needed and serve.

Variations

Bacon – If you’re a bacon fan, use two slices of raw diced bacon instead of butter here. Render the fat and crisp it up in the pan, then add the garlic, and continue with the recipe as written.   It’s great with pancetta too!

Cheesy – Garnish this dish with a crumble of feta, goat, or sharp blue cheese. The salty tang is a great contrast to the sweetness of these roots and the apple juice.

Burst Cherry Tomatoes

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burst_tomato_salad

This recipe is great as a side dish, but I also like it poured on top of pasta or polenta, stirred into risotto, spread warm over toast, or chilled and spread onto your hamburgers. It’s best if the tomatoes come from your garden, but if you have a black thumb (like me) good quality, perfectly ripe market tomatoes work just as well.

Ingredients

¼ cup olive oil

4 cups cherry tomatoes (choose assorted colors if you can)

1 teaspoon unrefined salt – try Halen Mon, Cyprus flake, fiore de sal, Black Diamond, smoked salt, or a salt infused with fennel seed, basil, or chipotle

2 cloves of garlic, sliced

Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon

Method

  1. Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a large sauté pan over high heat. Add a third of the tomatoes, and cook, shaking gently, until they start to break their skin, about 5 minutes.   Reduce heat to medium and add another third of the tomatoes and the ½ teaspoon of the salt. Continue to cook, shaking and stirring for another 3-4 minutes, until tomatoes are deflated. Remove tomatoes from the pan to a dish, and return the pan to the heat.
  1. Add another tablespoon of oil to the pan, then add the garlic. Cook, stirring, until the garlic softens, about 1 minute. Add the remaining raw tomatoes, the reserved cooked tomatoes, then cook, stirring, until the last batch of tomatoes begins to deflate. The mixture should be juicy and thick, and have a variety of tomato texture. Remove from heat and season with lemon juice and another pinch of salt Serve warm, room temperature, or cold.

Variations

Balsamic Tomatoes – Finish this dish with ¼ cup of balsamic vinegar instead of the lemon juice, add handful of basil leaves, cut in chiffonade, and finish with a grating of fresh Parmesan or some diced buffalo mozzarella.

Fennel Tomatoes – Before you burst the tomatoes, sauté a sliced fennel bulb in the olive oil with a pinch of salt and a teaspoon of toasted and crushed fennel seeds. Remove it from the pan, then stir it back into the mix when the tomatoes are done. Garnish with some reserved fennel fronds.

 

 

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