Recipe: Leek and Fennel Cream

Written by Melissa Pasanen on . Posted in Recipes

Leek and Fennel Cream
This relatively simple combination simmers up to a sumptuous and versatile sauce that is far more than the sum of its parts. Michael Orfan presents it under seared scallops, halibut or salmon at his restaurant and also with roast chicken or stuffed into trout. We cooled it and spread some over meaty filets of cod before baking them. Warm, it also makes a stellar stand-in for hollandaise in smoked-salmon eggs Benedict and works beautifully as a pasta sauce to complement sautéed sweet, pink shrimp, as pictured.
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Ingredients
  1. 2 medium leeks (about ¾ pound total)
  2. 1 large (about ¾ pound) fennel bulb, ideally with fresh-looking fronds
  3. 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  4. ¼ cup very thinly sliced shallot
  5. 1½ tablespoons very thinly sliced garlic
  6. ½ cup dry white wine, such as pinot grigio
  7. ¼ teaspoon coarse kosher salt, 
plus more to taste
  8. ⅔ cup heavy cream
  9. ¼ teaspoon white pepper
Instructions
  1. Trim root and tough dark green ends from leeks. Slice leeks in half lengthwise and then slice into fine julienne, like thick spaghetti, keeping the pieces as long as you can but don’t worry if some are shorter. Wash well in a colander, working out any sand trapped between layers. Shake dry. Trim stalks from fennel bulb. Finely chop about 2 tablespoons of the fronds and set aside. Slice fennel very thinly crosswise, discarding tough core pieces. You should have roughly the same volume of each vegetable.
  2. Melt butter in a large sauté pan set over medium-low heat. Add shallot and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened but not colored, about 5 minutes. Add wine and increase heat to medium. Cook, stirring, until most of liquid has simmered away, about 5 minutes. Add leeks and fennel to pan and toss to combine with shallot and garlic. Add the salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until vegetables are softened but not colored, about 10 minutes. Stir in cream and reduce heat to low. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are very soft and cream has reduced, leaving only a little liquid, about 12–15 minutes. Fold in about 1 tablespoon of the reserved fennel fronds. Season with white pepper and more salt to taste. Yields about 2 cups of sauce, enough for 8–12 ounces of pasta, such as pappardelle, or to accompany four servings of fish or chicken. Use remaining fennel fronds as garnish.
Notes
  1. Photo by Ken Burris.
Adapted from Chef-owner Michael Orfan, Rustic Roots, Shelburne
Adapted from Chef-owner Michael Orfan, Rustic Roots, Shelburne
Vermont Life Magazine http://vermontlife.com/

Recipe: Helles Lager–Braised Leek Tarts

Written by Melissa Pasanen on . Posted in Recipes

Helles Lager–Braised Leek Tarts
At Idletyme Brewing Co. in Stowe, house-brewed beer is an ingredient, not just a beverage. Here, a blonde lager builds flavor in the filling for a rich and elegant appetizer, or lunch paired with lemon-dressed salad of peppery greens. For variations on this recipe, consider the original, which uses onions, or add crisp bacon before serving.
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Ingredients
  1. 7–8 ounces frozen puff pastry (one 
sheet or one-half sheet, depending on brand), thawed according to package directions
  2. 4 large leeks (about 2¼ pounds or 
5 cups when sliced)
  3. 1½ tablespoons unsalted butter
  4. ¼ teaspoon coarse salt
  5. Freshly ground pepper to taste
  6. ⅔ cup Helles lager from Idletyme Brewing Company or von Trapp Brewing, or any Munich-style blonde lager
  7. 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves
  8. 6 ounces Alpine-style cheese such as Spring Brook Farm Tarentaise or Gruyère, coarsely shredded
  9. ⅓ cup (generous) mayonnaise
  10. 1½ teaspoons Dijon mustard
  11. 1½ tablespoons minced mixed fresh herbs such as parsley, rosemary 
and thyme
  12. Egg wash made from 1 egg beaten with a splash of milk
Instructions
  1. On a lightly floured surface, roll thawed puff pastry into a 12-inch square. Using a sharp knife, cut pastry into nine 4-inch squares. Place on a baking sheet and chill in refrigerator while preparing filling.
  2. Trim root and tough dark green ends from leeks. Slice leeks in half lengthwise and then across in ¼-inch half circles to yield about five generous cups. Wash well in a colander, working out any sand trapped between layers. Shake dry. Melt butter in a large sauté pan set over medium heat. Add leeks with salt plus generous grinds of black pepper, and sauté, stirring occasionally, until softened and reduced in volume, about 12 minutes. Add beer and thyme leaves and simmer until liquid has evaporated and leeks are completely soft, about 8–10 minutes. Scrape leek mixture onto a plate and set aside to cool. In a medium bowl, stir together shredded cheese, mayonnaise, mustard and mixed herbs. Season with freshly ground black pepper to taste.
  3. Preheat oven to 400 F. Divide the leek and cheese mixtures each into nine roughly even portions. Take four of the pastry squares from refrigerator and space them out on a second baking sheet, leaving the others in the refrigerator. Using a fork, mark off a ⅓-inch border around edge of each square and then prick the center all over with the fork inside the border to prevent it from puffing up. Spread one portion of leek mixture on each puff pastry square leaving the border uncovered. Top leek mixture with one portion of the cheese mixture, spreading to cover the leeks. (Can be prepared up to this point and refrigerated for several hours before baking.) Make sure filling is inside the border and brush border with egg wash. Bake 16–18 minutes until pastry border is puffed and deep golden brown. Repeat with remaining pastry squares. Cool to warm or room temperature before serving. Makes 9 small tarts. Tarts can also be cut diagonally, once cooled, for smaller appetizer portions. (Recipe can be doubled easily.)
Notes
  1. Photo by Ken Burris.
Adapted from Idletyme Brewing Co., Stowe
Adapted from Idletyme Brewing Co., Stowe
Vermont Life Magazine http://vermontlife.com/

Recipe: Grilled Peach, Brie, Arugula and Prosciutto Flatbread

Written by Melissa Pasanen on . Posted in Recipes

Grilled Peach, Brie, Arugula and Prosciutto Flatbread
During the summer, William Snell fires up his outdoor oven for special events, and most Sunday evenings, to bake crisp flatbreads like this winning sweet-savory combination, which might feature peaches from Champlain Orchards in Shoreham during their brief but gorgeous season.
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Ingredients
  1. Pizza dough for one large flatbread (about 8 ounces dough)
  2. 1 large head garlic, broken into cloves and peeled
  3. 1⁄2 to 3⁄4 cup canola oil, or other light-tasting cooking oil
  4. Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  5. 2 medium or 3 small peaches, about 3⁄4 pound
  6. Extra virgin olive oil
  7. 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  8. 2 cups (about 11⁄2 ounces) loosely packed arugula
  9. 3 slices prosciutto, torn into small ribbons
  10. 1 small (4–6 ounces) wheel Brie (or other soft, bloomy-rinded cheese), thinly sliced
  11. Up to 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice, to taste
Instructions
  1. Prepare pizza dough if making from scratch.
  2. Place garlic cloves and enough canola oil to cover in a small saucepan over medium-low heat and bring to a simmer. Simmer until cloves are light golden brown and soft, about 7–9 minutes.
  3. Cool in oil and then remove garlic to a food processor, reserving oil. Add 2 tablespoons of reserved oil and purée garlic until smooth, adding more oil if needed. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.
  4. Light barbecue grill for medium heat. Cut peaches in half and remove pits. (No need to peel unless skin is very tough.) Brush all but one of the halves lightly with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and season with a little salt. Grill peach halves, flesh side down, until lightly charred and slightly softened but not too soft, about 5 minutes. Cool slightly and then slice into 1⁄4-inch half-moons. Dice remaining ungrilled half peach. In a small bowl, place ungrilled diced peach, arugula and prosciutto. Place garlic purée, sliced grilled peaches and sliced Brie on a tray to take out to grill.
  5. Increase grill to medium-high heat. On a well-floured surface, roll pizza dough as thin as you can, to a rough 12-inch circle. Brush one side lightly with olive oil. Grill oiled side until crisp and dark brown in spots, checking to make sure it’s not burning, although a little char can be nice. This shouldn’t take longer than 2 to 3 minutes.
  6. Take flatbread off grill and place, grilled side down, on a cookie sheet or clean flat surface. Brush uncooked side with a little oil. Flip over and spread garlic purée evenly over grilled side crust. Then arrange grilled peaches and sliced Brie evenly over crust. Transfer loaded pizza back to grill and cook, with cover down, another 2 minutes or so, until bottom is browned and cheese is melted. If crust is done before cheese has melted, move pizza off direct heat, if possible, to let cheese melt without burning crust.
  7. Remove cooked flatbread to a serving board. Toss arugula, prosciutto and fresh peaches with a little olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Use tongs to arrange arugula mixture on top of flatbread. Slice and serve immediately.
Notes
  1. Serves 3–4 as a main dish, 6–8 as an appetizer.
  2. Photographed by Ken Burris.
Adapted from Chef/Co-owner William Snell, Tourterelle Restaurant, New Haven
Adapted from Chef/Co-owner William Snell, Tourterelle Restaurant, New Haven
Vermont Life Magazine http://vermontlife.com/

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