Citrus Roasted Broccoli & Cauliflower with Queso Cotija Dressing

As soon as I saw Mexican chef Pati Jinich prepare this dish on her PBS show, I had to make it. ūüôā I bought beautiful purple cauliflower and purple broccoli at the farm stand to make it extra special. We ate it with Mexican-Style Chipotle-Lime Pork Cutlets.

The salty, cheesy sauce was absolutely incredible. I loved how the vegetables were sliced into steaks instead of florets as well. I trimmed the tough outer portion of each stem but would remove even more next time to make that portion more tender.

This recipe was adapted from Pati’s Mexican Table and patijinich.com, via kcet.org. It was on an episode featuring dishes inspired by Isla Mujeres. I substituted creme fraiche for the Mexican crema. I also modified the method and proportions. Amazing!

Yield: Serves 6

For the Vegetables:

  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (I used 2 limes)
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (I used 1 large naval orange)
  • 3 chopped chiles de arbol or 1/2 to 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup olive oil, plus more for brushing/drizzling
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 pounds broccoli, cut into 1/4″ vertical slices, including thick part of stem (I used 2 large heads)
  • 2 pounds cauliflower, cut into 1/4″ vertical slices, including thick part of stem (I used 1 large head)

For the Queso Cojita Dressing:

  • 1/2 cup crumbled queso cotija
  • 2/3 cup Mexican crema or creme fra√ģche
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil (I used Canola oil)
  • 2 tsp sherry vinegar
  • 2 T water
  • 2 medium garlic cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste

To Prepare the Vegetables:

  1. Preheat oven to 475 degrees F. ( I set my oven to convection roast.)
  2. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.
  3. In a glass measuring cup with a spout, mix the lime juice, orange juice, olive oil, red pepper flakes (or chile de arbol), 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper.
  4. Place the cauliflower and broccoli steaks on the prepared baking sheets in a single layer, making sure that they are not crowded.
  5. Evenly pour the orange juice mixture all over the vegetables.
  6. Place in the oven and roast for 25 to 30 minutes, flipping halfway through, until well roasted and considerably charred. Remove from the oven and set aside.

To Make the Dressing & To Serve:

  1. While the vegetables are roasting, combine the queso cotija, Mexican crema (or creme fra√ģche), vegetable oil, sherry vinegar, water, garlic, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in the jar of a blender or mixer. Puree until smooth. (I used a Vitamix.)
  2. Serve the broccoli and cauliflower on a large platter and ladle the queso cotija right on top, or let your guests spoon sauce onto their plates and dip their vegetables in the sauce to their liking. (I served the sauce in a bowl on the side.)

Poblano Chicken Chili

My husband would like to eat chili every week in the winter, so I enjoy trying different versions. I was immediately drawn to this recipe because it incorporates poblano chilies, my favorite. I loved the salsa verde shortcut as well. It would be perfect for a Super Bowl feast.

This recipe was adapted from True Comfort: More Than 100 Cozy Recipes Free of Gluten and Refined Sugar by Kristin Cavallari,¬†via Good Morning America.com. I modified the method and proportions. I also topped the chili with cr√®me fra√ģche instead of cashew crema because poblanos and cr√®me fra√ģche are one of our ultimate flavor combinations. It offset the heat perfectly. Directions for the cashew crema are included below for a dairy-free version.

Yield: Serves 8

  • 1 to 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil or avocado oil
  • 2 to 2 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (8 to 10 chicken thighs)
  • 2 poblano chiles, seeds removed, chopped
  • 1 large white or yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 jalape√Īo, seeds and ribs removed, diced
  • 4 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • coarse salt or pink Himalayan salt
  • 2 (4-ounce) cans chopped green chiles
  • 12 oz jarred salsa verde (I used Trader Joe’s)
  • 2 (19-ounce) cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 avocado, diced or sliced, for garnish
  • cr√®me fra√ģche, sour cream, or cashew crema (recipe below), for garnish
  • thinly sliced scallions, for garnish, optional
  • cilantro, for garnish, optional
  1. Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven set over medium to medium-high heat.
  2. Add the chicken, season with salt and pepper, and cook until the chicken pieces are browned, 10 to 15 minutes.
  3. Add the poblanos, onion, and jalape√Īo, season with salt and pepper, and continue cooking until the onion has softened, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the garlic, cumin, paprika, oregano, garlic powder, pepper, onion powder and a big pinch of salt. Stir, and cook for 5 minutes, until fragrant.
  5. Reduce the heat to low and add the canned green chiles, salsa verde, and cannellini beans; cook for 5 minutes, stirring it occasionally to bring the flavors together.
  6. Bring the heat back up to medium and add the chicken stock. Bring the chili to a simmer, reduce the heat, and let it cook, occasionally stirring it from the bottom to prevent burning, for about 1 hour, or more, until desired thickness is achieved.
  7. Just before serving, add lime juice; stir to incorporate. Adjust seasoning with additional salt and pepper, as needed.
  8. Garnish each bowl of chili with avocado and a dollop of cr√®me fra√ģche, sour cream or cashew crema (recipe below). Top with a sprinkle of sliced scallions and/or minced cilantro, as desired.

For the Cashew Crema:

  1. Place 1 cup of raw cashews in a high-powered blender and add half a cup of water.
  2. Blend on high speed until the crema is completely smooth, 2 minutes.

Note: The crema will keep well in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.

White Borscht

Before I was introduced to this recipe, I thought that borscht was always a deep red, beet-based soup. I now know that borscht means “sour.” The sour tang in this soup comes from soaking sourdough bread in the broth, pur√©eing it, and incorporating it into the finished soup, along with cr√®me fraiche which is stirred in just prior to serving.

I made my first homemade borscht (the beet-based version) for Christmas Eve, and my husband purchased pierogies at a Polish store for the same meal. Luckily, I saw this recipe and he was also able to buy house-made garlic kielbasa for this soup. The quality of the kielbasa is very important because it is used to create the broth for the base of this soup.

This recipe is from The New York Times, contributed by Gabrielle Hamilton. ¬†I followed the recipe closely, but may decrease the amount of butter next time- I’m not sure it was necessary! (but it was quite delicious ūüėČ ) It was a creamy, indulgent, and delicious upgrade of potato-leek soup. Fabulous cold-weather comfort food.

Yield: 5 quarts, Serves 10 to 12

  • 2 1/4 to 2 1/2¬†pounds full horseshoe link of high-quality smoked kielbasa
  • 5 fresh bay leaves
  • 3 pounds leeks (6 long, lively leeks)
  • 3 pounds russet potatoes (about 4)
  • 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks)
  • 1 large yellow onion, small-diced (about 2 cups)
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 (4-ounce) hunk of dense, very sour sourdough bread, crusts removed
  • 1 full tablespoon finely ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup cr√®me fra√ģche
  • 1 bunch fresh dill, woody stems removed, fronds minced

Stovetop Mushroom Lasagna

This easy and creamy vegetarian stovetop lasagna was very well received by my family. ūüėČ The original recipe said that it wasn’t as pretty as a typical baked and layered lasagna, but I thought that it looked pretty appealing.

The recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Sarah Jampel. I increased the amount of mushrooms and garlic. I also used no-boil lasagna noodles. It is a perfect weeknight dish.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  • 5 T extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 12 to 16 oz mixed mushrooms (such as maitake, oyster, shiitake, and/or crimini), trimmed, cut or torn into 1″ pieces (I used stemmed & quartered cremini mushrooms)
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 2¬†T thyme leaves
  • 1¬†large shallot, finely chopped
  • 3 to 6¬†garlic cloves, finely grated or chopped
  • 2¬†T all-purpose flour
  • 2 3/4 cups whole milk
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • lemon zest, plus wedges for serving, optional
  • 1/3 cup cr√®me fra√ģche or thinned sour cream
  • 8 to 9 oz regular lasagna noodles, broken in half (no-boil okay)
  • 4 to 5 oz mozzarella, thinly sliced
  • finely grated Parmesan, for serving
  1. Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a large high-sided ovenproof skillet (preferably with a lid) or small Dutch oven over medium-high. (I used a large, wide enameled cast iron pot.)
  2. Add mushrooms and cook, undisturbed, until starting to brown, about 4 minutes. Season with salt and cook, tossing occasionally, until golden brown, 5‚Äď7 minutes. Transfer to a bowl; mix in thyme.
  3. Meanwhile, finely chop the shallot and garlic cloves in the bowl of a mini food processor.
  4. Reduce heat to medium-low. Heat remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in the pan. Add shallot and garlic and cook, stirring, until starting to soften, about 1 minute.
  5. Sprinkle flour over and cook, stirring, until golden, about 1 minute.
  6. Add milk, pepper, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1 3/4 cups water, then finely grate zest of 1/4 lemon into pan. Stir to dissolve flour, increase heat to medium, and cook until gently bubbling.
  7. Reduce heat to low, whisk in cr√®me fra√ģche (or sour cream), and stir to combine.
  8. Add about one third of noodles, pushing down into sauce to submerge, followed by a third of the mushrooms.
  9. Repeat with half of remaining noodles and mushrooms.
  10. Top with another layer of noodles. **Set remaining mushrooms aside.**
  11. Cover with a lid or foil and cook 15 minutes. (If lasagna threatens to boil over, use very lowest heat and/or prop open the cover.)
  12. Uncover; cook, gently lifting and separating noodles occasionally with tongs or a spatula to let sauce flow around, until sauce is thickened and noodles are cooked through, 6‚Äď10 minutes. Mixture should be bubbling gently; adjust heat as necessary. Remove from heat.
  13. Heat broiler. Top lasagna with mozzarella and reserved mushrooms.
  14. Broil until cheese is bubbling and browned in spots, about 2 minutes.
  15. Finely grate more lemon zest over. Sprinkle with Parmesan; season with pepper.
  16. Let sit 5‚Äď10 minutes. Cut lemon into wedges, if desired, and serve with lasagna.

Pumpkin Pie Bars

Pecan pie bars are a favorite Thanksgiving dessert in our house. I chose this pumpkin pie version to serve along with a tried and true brown-butter and vanilla bean apple pie for our intimate Thanksgiving feast. (Yes, we had leftover dessert for at least a week!)

This recipe was adapted from a “staff favorite” Food and Wine recipe, contributed by Sarah Jordan. I appreciated the press-in crust and we all absolutely loved the consistency of the bars. Pie bars have the bonus of easier portion control too- which is crucial on Thanksgiving. ūüėČ Great.

Yield: Makes on 9×13-inch pie

For the Press-In-Crust:

  • 2 1/2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour sifted with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, cream the butter with the sugars at medium speed for 2 minutes.
  2. With the mixer at low speed, beat in the sifted flour-and-salt mixture.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350¬į, preferably on convection.
  4. Line a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with parchment paper, allowing 2 inches of overhang on the 2 long sides. (I used a pyrex pan.)
  5. Transfer the dough to the pan and press it over the bottom and 1 1/4 inches up the side all around. (You can cover the dough with plastic wrap and press with the bottom of a measuring cup.) Be sure the corners are not too thick.
  6. Refrigerate until firm.
  7. Bake the crust for 25 to 35 minutes, until golden brown; halfway through baking, use the back of a spoon to smooth the sides and corners of the crust.
  8. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the crust cool before filling.

For the Filling:

  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground cardamom, optional (I omitted it)
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • One 15-ounce can pure pumpkin puree
  • One 12-ounce can evaporated milk
  • Baked Press-In Crust (above)
  • cr√®me fra√ģche or whipped cream, for serving, optional
  1. Preheat the oven to 425¬į, preferably on convection.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk the sugars with the spices and salt.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs.
  4. Whisk in the sugar mixture, then whisk in the pumpkin puree and the evaporated milk until smooth.
  5. Pour the filling into the crust and bake for 10 minutes.
  6. Lower the oven temperature to 350¬į and bake for about 25 minutes longer, until the filling is fully set.
  7. Transfer the pan to a rack and let cool completely.
  8. Cut into bars and serve with whipped cream or cr√®me fra√ģche, as desired.

Note: Bars should be stored in the refrigerator. Serve chilled or at room temperature. (I prepared them a day prior to serving.)

Corn & Ricotta Sformato

Now that it’s the very very tail end of corn season, I have a couple fresh corn recipes to share. I hope I’m not too late. :/ We ate this cheesy dish for dinner but it would be wonderful for brunch as well. I also think that it could be prepared with frozen corn (gasp!) and served as a holiday side dish.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Clare de Boer. I used Kosher salt and modified the proportions. I also modified the baking dish (to have more crispy crust) and baking time. The lemony basil oil topping added a bright contrast to the indulgent and delicious dish.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  • 2¬†tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for the pan
  • 6¬†ears fresh corn, kernels removed (about 5 cups kernels), cobs discarded
  • 2¬†tsp coarse salt, plus more to taste
  • 6¬†tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2¬†cups fresh whole milk ricotta
  • 1/2¬†cup heavy cream
  • 2¬†tablespoons cr√®me fra√ģche or sour cream
  • 1 1/2¬†cups grated Parmesan, divided (I used Parmigiano-Reggiano)
  • 4¬†large eggs, whites and yolks separated
  • coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1/3¬†packed cup fresh basil leaves (about 20 leaves)
  • 2¬†tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from 1/2 lemon)
  1. In a large skillet, melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat.
  2. Add the corn kernels and 1 teaspoon of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until corn is just beginning to soften, about 5 minutes.
  3. Transfer half the kernels to a food processor and purée with 2 tablespoons olive oil. (I used a Vitamix.)
  4. Transfer the corn kernels and puréed corn to a large bowl and let cool, about 30 minutes.
  5. Heat the oven to 450 degrees, preferably on convection.
  6. When the corn mixture has cooled, add the ricotta, heavy cream, cr√®me fra√ģche/sour cream, 1 cup Parmesan and the remaining 1 teaspoon of salt; season to taste with more salt, if desired.
  7. Using a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites to stiff peaks on high speed, 1 to 2 minutes.
  8. Stir the yolks into the ricotta mixture until combined then gently fold in the whites, working delicately to avoid deflating.
  9. Rub the sides and crannies of a 6-by-10-inch oval or 8-by-8-inch square (or similar 2-inch-deep) baking dish with a knob of butter. (I used a 8×10-inch oval dish.) Add 2 to 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan, knocking it around the baking dish to coat the entire thing, then follow with a few grinds of pepper.
  10. Pour the ricotta batter into the dish. Bake for 25 minutes and then remove from oven and top with another 3 tablespoons Parmesan.  Continue to bake until the cheese has browned and the sformata has set in the center, about 5 additional minutes, a total of 30 to 40 minutes.
  11. Using a mortar and pestle, grind the basil with the lemon juice and a pinch of salt, then stir in the remaining 1/4 cup oil.
  12. Just before serving, top the warm sformata with the remaining grated Parmesan, drizzle with basil oil and serve.

Maple-Blueberry Scones

These scones were absolutely fabulous- very tender and flaky. Half of the butter is fully incorporated into the dough, making them tender, and the remaining butter is kept intact and only dusted with flour, as in a traditional scone, resulting in flakiness. I loved that they were sweetened with maple syrup and incorporated whole wheat flour.

This recipe was adapted from Joanne Chang of Flour Bakery + Café in Boston, via The New York Times, contributed by Dorie Greenspan. I drizzled the glaze and modified the size and baking time. Amazing.

Yield: 18 scones

  • 1 ‚ÖĒ cups/240 grams whole-wheat flour
  • 1 cup/130 grams all-purpose flour
  • 1 ¬Ĺ teaspoons baking powder
  • ¬Ĺ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¬Ĺ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¬ĺ cup/170 grams unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), cold, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • ¬Ĺ cup/120 grams cr√®me fra√ģche, Greek yogurt or sour cream, at room temperature
  • ¬Ĺ cup/120 milliliters pure maple syrup
  • 5 tablespoons/‚Öď cup/80 milliliters buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
  • 1 cup/125 grams fresh blueberries

For the Maple Glaze:

  • ¬Ĺ cup/60 grams confectioners‚Äô sugar
  • 4 to 5¬†tablespoons maple syrup
  1. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, briefly mix both flours, the baking powder, baking soda and salt on low speed.
  2. Add half the butter and paddle until fully mixed into the flour, 2 to 3 minutes. (This will coat the flour with butter so the scones are tender.)
  3. Add the remaining butter to the bowl of the stand mixer. Pulse the mixer three or four times to mix the pieces into the dough while keeping them whole. (This step will give you small pieces of butter in the dough, which will help the scones be a bit flaky.)
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together the cr√®me fra√ģche, maple syrup, buttermilk and yolk until thoroughly mixed.
  5. Stir in the blueberries.
  6. With the mixer on low, pour the blueberry mixture into the flour mixture, and paddle on low for about 10 seconds to get some of the liquid mixed into the flour.
  7. Stop the mixer, and mix the rest of the loose flour into the dough by hand: Gather and lift the dough with your hands and turn it over in the bowl several times until all the loose flour is mixed in.
  8. Shape the dough into a ball, wrap it well and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or for up to 1 day. (This gives the flour time to fully absorb the liquid.)
  9. Heat the oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection, and position a rack in the center. Line three rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.
  10. Using a 3 tablespoon ice cream scoop, scoop out 18 mounds of chilled dough, and place them on the prepared baking sheets a few inches apart. (I placed 6 per sheet.)
  11. Bake scones for 18 to 20 minutes, rotating the baking sheet midway through the baking time, until the scones are evenly golden brown and firm when you press them.
  12. While the scones are baking, make the glaze: In a small bowl, whisk together the sugar and enough maple syrup to make a drizzle-able glaze. Use immediately, or store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week. Rewhisk before using.
  13. Remove the scones from the oven and let cool for 5 to 10 minutes before drizzling with glaze.
  14. Using a spoon, drizzle with maple glaze. Serve.

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