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    Home By Design magazine weekly article 'A Hearty Meal' - Happy Fall, Thanksgiving & now Halloween!

    Posted by Michele Cummins on October 31, 2014
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    I love, love, LOVE this time of year! It's my sisters, Danica Ebners, favorite time. She's jealous of the fact I live in beautiful British Columbia where the weather is much like England (she's in southern California). Lush trees, colorful leaves, and the chill in the air but mostly it's the warm meals and layered cute clothing. So restful and such a peaceful time of year. Read a good book or a good magazine article ;-) I hope you enjoy this week’s recipes...My favorite is the Apple Cider Champagne Cocktail and I'm going to try it tomorrow! All the best you Halloween trick-or-treaters. As a good friend of mine said today...I enjoy the treats better than the tricks...Happy Hallows Eve!

     

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    Green Bean and Smoked Goat Cheese Salad with Dried Cherries and Toasted Pine Nuts
    This beautiful platter of crisp tender green beans is topped with a smoked goat cheese, sweet dried cherries, and toasted pine nuts. The salad is a lovely side dish, but it also makes a fabulous light lunch or dinner. Smaller, delicate green beans work best in this salad. If you can’t find smoked goat cheese, feel free to substitute with your favorite goat cheese—preferably one that crumbles easily. For the best possible flavor, use your best extra-virgin olive oil and aged balsamic vinaigrette. Beautiful and delicious, this is an enchanting dish for dinner guests, but simple enough to prepare for a weeknight meal.  
     
    Serves 4
    1 pound fresh green beans
    sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste
    2–3 tablespoons good quality balsamic vinegar
    3–4 tablespoons good quality extra-virgin olive oil
    4 ounces smoked chèvre (if you can’t find smoked
      chèvre, use another flavorful goat cheese)
    ½–⅔ cup dried cherries
    ¼ cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
     
    To blanch the green beans: Begin by filling a large pot half way up with water or enough to cover the beans. Do not salt the water. Bring the water to a boil.  
     
    While the water is heating, snap the stem end off the green beans. I like snapping them by hand, but feel free to use a small knife.  
     
    Fill a large bowl with ice water to 1create an ice bath for the green beans. Have it ready before adding the green beans to the boiling water.
     
    Add the green beans to the boiling water and let them cook for about 1.5 to 2 minutes. You want them crisp tender (just this side of raw, and not mushy).  
     
    The easiest way to quickly get them from boiling water into ice water is to pour the green beans into a large strainer in the sink and then transfer the beans to the ice bath. But you can also scoop them out of the boiling water with a handheld mesh strainer and transfer them into the ice bath.
     
    Let them sit in the ice bath for about 3 to 4 minutes and then drain. I like to lightly blot them dry so the vinaigrette will stick to the green beans.
     
    Prepare the salad: Salt and pepper the green beans, and then arrange them on a platter. Drizzle the olive oil and balsamic vinegar over the green beans. Next, sprinkle with crumbled chèvre, dried cherries, and toasted pine nuts. Serve.
     
    Kale and Potato Gratin
    Kale has gotten a lot of food love recently, and there’s good reason. It’s high in micronutrients and fiber, and has earthy
    flavors that entice the taste buds—especially when sautéed. Much like its sister greens of spinach, mustard greens, Swiss chard, and collard greens, kale makes a rich and hearty side dish that is easily paired with other root vegetables like parsnips, turnips, sweet potatoes, and butternut squash. This lovely and lush gratin definitely shouts fall. I call it comfort food with health benefits. Serve this rich gratin as a side dish with meat or poultry, or as a main dish with an apple cider champagne cocktail. This is elevated comfort food at its finest.
     
    Serves 6
    3 tablespoons butter
    2 tablespoons olive oil
    1 large bunch of fresh kale, washed, trimmed of stalks,
      and finely chopped, or 1 1-ounce bag of organic
      frozen chopped kale, thawed, and squeezed
    1 shallot, finely chopped
    2 cloves garlic, minced
    salt and pepper
    1 cup heavy cream
    ½ teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
    1½ pounds Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced,
      about
    ⅟₄-inch-thick if you’re using a mandolin slicer
    ⅟₄ cup + 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chive
    1½–2 cups shredded Gruyère or an aged Swiss cheese
     
    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Using a tablespoon or two, butter an 8x8-inch or 9x11-inch standard baking dish.
     
    In a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. When the oil is hot, not smoking, add the chopped shallot and fresh kale. (If you are using frozen kale that has been thawed and squeezed, you will add it to the pan after the shallots have nicely sautéed, about 3 to 5 minutes.) Cook the fresh kale and shallots for about 10 to 15 minutes or until the kale is nicely wilted. If needed, add a little extra water to the pan if it gets too dry.  
     
    Next, add the garlic to the sautéed kale and shallots and season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.
     
    In a small pan, warm the heavy cream and one tablespoon butter on low and stir in the freshly grated nutmeg.  
     
    To assemble: Add a tablespoon or two of the heavy cream to the bottom of the baking dish and then add a single layer of potatoes. I usually let them overlap a bit. Season with a pinch each of salt, pepper, and chopped chive. Then add a layer of the kale. Top the layer of kale with shredded Swiss or Gruyère and then ladle a bit of the heavy cream over the top.
     
       
     
    Repeat the process until you have at least three layers, ending with shredded cheese. Top with chopped chive and then place foil over the baking dish.  
     
    Bake for about 40 to 45 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for an additional 15 minutes to brown the top. The gratin is done when the potatoes are soft, sides are bubbly, and top is golden.
     
    Let the gratin cool for about 5 minutes before serving.
     
    Brie-and-Apple-Stuffed Chicken Breasts with Apple Cider Pan Sauce
    Nothing says autumn like big juicy red and green apples. The delectable fruit is ideal for seasonal desserts but also grand paired with a savory main course. Beautiful chicken breasts stuffed with diced apples, sweet shallots, fragrant sage, and ripe Brie cheese is combined and baked, then served with a lush apple cider pan sauce; the perfect dish for your fall table.
     
    Serves 4
    3 tablespoons high-heat oil
    1 heaping tablespoon diced shallot
    2 apples, peeled and diced
    1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage
    salt and fresh ground pepper
    4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
    4 ounces Brie cheese, sliced
    1 cup apple cider
    1 tablespoon brandy
    2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley, for garnish
    toothpicks, optional
     
    Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
     
    For the apples: Heat one tablespoon of oil in a skillet over medium heat.  
     
    Add the shallots and let them cook for about 30 seconds, until fragrant. Then add the diced apples. Cook the apples until somewhat golden and tender about 5 to 7 minutes.
     
    Mix in the chopped fresh sage and sauté a minute longer. Season with a little salt and pepper. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.
     
    For the chicken: At the largest, thickest end of each chicken breast, make a deep horizontal cut (pocket). Stuff each chicken breast with a slice of Brie and then the apple mixture. Use a toothpick to secure the pocket so the Brie doesn’t run out (a little cheese will escape and that is fine). Refrigerating the stuffed chicken breasts for 15 minutes prior to baking will also help keep the pocket closed.
     
    Season the outside of the chicken breasts with salt and pepper.
     
    In an ovenproof skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of oil on medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, brown the chicken breasts on both sides, being careful when turning so the filling doesn’t fall out. Once the chicken is browned, add the apple cider and place in a preheated oven and let them cook until done, about 20 to 30 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F.
     
    When the chicken is done, remove from the oven. Place the chicken on a platter and keep warm. Heat the remaining sauce from the chicken and apple cider and bring it to a lively simmer. Add a splash of brandy or a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar.  
     
    Taste for seasoning. You may need to add a bit more salt and pepper, or a bit more apple cider. Pour the sauce over the chicken. Garnish with fresh chopped Italian parsley and serve immediately.
     
    1 large egg
    1 teaspoon ice water
     
    Pumpkin Coconut Filling (recipe to follow)
    Caramel Sauce (recipe to follow)
     
    Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse a few times to mix.
     
    Add the cold butter to the flour mixture and pulse a few more times until the butter and flour resemble coarse, pea-sized pieces or a coarse meal.
     
    As you pulse the food processer, add the egg and water and pulse only until the dough is holding together in one piece.
     
    Turn out the dough onto a floured surface and knead just a few times forming the dough into a disc. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour or so, or overnight. Often I’ll make several batches of pâte brisée and keep them wrapped in the freezer, pulling them out when I know I’ll need them.
     
    Remove the chilled disc from the refrigerator and roll it out with a wooden rolling pin. With a biscuit cutter or mouth of a drinking glass, cut out discs large enough to press into the mini tart pans. Fill all the mini tart pans and then place in the refrigerator until you are ready to fill them with the pumpkin filling.
     
    Pumpkin Coconut Filling:
    1 15-ounce can organic canned pumpkin
       puree (you can also substitute with sweet potato puree)
    ½ cup granulated sugar
    1 cup organic canned coconut milk
      (do not use lite coconut milk)
    1 teaspoon vanilla
    1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
    ¼ teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
    3 large eggs
    pinch of salt
     
    In an electric mixer or blender, combine all the ingredients until well blended.
     
    Caramel Sauce:
    1 cup sugar
    6 tablespoons butter
    ½ cup heavy cream
    pinch of salt
    dash of vanilla or brandy
     
    In a medium sauce pan over medium-low heat mix together the sugar, butter, heavy cream, and pinch of salt. Add a dash of vanilla or brandy if you like.  
     
    Whisk the ingredients until it comes to a boil and then let it simmer for about 5 to 8 minutes or until it thickens.  
     
    Let it cool slightly and serve over the pumpkin coconut tarts or vanilla ice cream.
     
    Finishing up: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  
     
    Place the mini tart pans on a baking sheet and fill each pan with pumpkin coconut filling.  
     
    Place the baking sheet of tarts in the oven and bake for about 35 to 40 minutes or until the filling is nicely firm and crusts are golden.
     
    While the tarts are baking, prepare the caramel sauce.
     
    Once the tarts are done, remove them from the oven and let them cool. Remove each tart and place onto a small dessert plate. Top with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce, and toasted coconut for garnish if you like.
     
         
         
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    Pumpkin and Coconut Tarts with Warm Caramel Sauce
    These little tarts make the most delicious ending to a delicious meal. They also make fun and tasty after-school treats, and, on
    occasion, a quick nibble with morning coffee. If you don’t have pastry flour on hand, combine 2 parts all-purpose flour with 1 part cake flour. (I keep this combination handy in a separate container, so I always have some ready to use.) You can also sprinkle toasted coconut on top of each tart as a tasty and aesthetic option. However you enjoy these treats, they will no doubt delight the palate and enchant the sweet tooth.
     
    Makes 8 to 10 mini tarts
    Pie Dough (pâte brisée):
    1¼ cups all-purpose flour or pastry flour
    1 teaspoon sugar
    ½ teaspoon salt
    6 tablespoons very cold unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces
       
         
         
    Apple Cider Champagne Cocktail
    One of my favorite ways to enjoy the fall is with this exquisite champagne cocktail; it’s slightly sweet, slightly sassy, and beautifully bubbly. Whether you’re curled up with a blanket and a good book or are entertaining guests, this is a festive and distinctive cocktail perfect for the season.
     
    Makes two cocktails
    2 ounces apple brandy
    2 ounces chilled spiced apple cider
    4 ounces chilled champagne or sparkling wine (I prefer brut)
     
    In a shaker, mix together the apple brandy and spiced apple cider. Pour into two glasses and then top with champagne. Cheers!
     
         
       
     
     
     
     
    A Hearty Meal
    Celebrate Family with This Harvest Menu
    This time of year, farmers work overtime to bring their wares to our dinner table. The flavors of the autumn harvest are unlike any other, and they beg to be enjoyed. But instead of rushing to create a meal, take your time in the kitchen and appreciate all it has to offer.
     The kitchen is our haven. It expresses our very being and sometimes who we aspire to be—maybe a gourmet chef or a foodie on a mission to find the next delicious recipe. It’s also a place of comfort. A place to find a hearty and creamy kale and potato gratin sitting on the stovetop, just waiting to be enjoyed after a long day at school.  
     The kitchen is where conversation finds a table filled with mouthwatering recipes of the season. Moist and juicy chicken breasts stuffed with tart, diced apples and melted Brie cheese is complemented by a platter of crisp tender green beans topped with crumbled chèvre, sweet dried cherries, and toasted pine nuts all beautifully laced with a balsamic vinaigrette. Bringing these lovely dishes together is a crisp and bubbly apple cider champagne cocktail that makes dinner feel just a little special. Dessert is served, and family and friends linger over gorgeous pumpkin coconut tarts topped with whipped cream and warm caramel sauce. This treat offers the perfect ending to a perfect meal created in the most treasured space—the kitchen.
    Recipes and Photographs by Karista Bennett
    2014_HBD_Logo_FINAL.png
    Green Bean and Smoked Goat Cheese Salad with Dried Cherries and
    Kale and Potato Gratin
    Brie-and-Apple-Stuffed Chicken Breasts with Apple Cider Pan Sau
    Pumpkin and Coconut Tarts with Warm Caramel Sauce
    Apple Cider Champagne Cocktail
    Michele Cummins
    Michele Cummins
    604-530-0231
    778-885-4659
    mcummins@royallepage.ca

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