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Archive for December 3, 2014

RECIPE: Broccoli Rabe, Corn and Cheese Soufflé

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A delicious soufflé for any time of year. Photo courtesy Andy Boy.

 

We so enjoyed the corn and Gruyère soufflé we had at Thanksgiving that we couldn’t wait to make another one. We’re upping the ante for the Christmas version, with broccoli rabe.

WHAT IS BROCCOLI RABE

Perhaps 15 years ago, broccoli rabe began to appear in some restaurants. Also called broccoli rape, raab (pronounced rob), rapini, Chinese broccoli and Italian broccoli in the U.S., it then became available in produce markets. Now, it can be found at more and more quality supermarkets.

It is a cross between a Chinese chard and broccoli. Different versions of broccoli rabe originated in the Mediterranean and in China.

Broccoli rabe is not related to either broccoli or broccolini.

 

Although it bears the name “broccoli,” tastes like a bitter and pungent form of broccoli (think broccoli crossed with mustard greens with some nuttiness) and looks like a relative of broccoli—it has broccoli-like buds and florets at the top of slender stalks—broccoli rabe is not related to broccoli but turnips.
That’s why the leaves look like turnip greens and the vegetable is also called Italian turnip and turnip broccoli. Here’s more about broccoli rabe.

Broccolini is not a young growth of broccoli, but a hybrid of broccoli and kai-lan, Chinese chard (also a cruciferous vegetable). The result looks broccoli but with smaller florets and longer, thin stalks.
 
ON TO THE SOUFFLÉ

Classic soufflés are light and airy, baked in tall, deep dishes. But the method can be challenging, and soufflés can fail.

An alternative type of soufflé uses a shallow baking dish, pie pan, skillet or individual ramekins. The result is more dense, but just as delicious.

This recipe is, by Julia della Croce, chef-in-residence at Andy Boy. An authority on Italian cooking, she has written more than 15 cookbooks and is a James Beard Award recipient.

Prep time is 1 hour, cook time is 40 minutes. If you coat the inside of the baking pan with butter and grated cheese before pouring in the batter, you’ll get a soufflé with a crunchy surface, in contrast to its silky center.

 

RECIPE: BROCCOLI RABE, CORN & CHEESE SOUFFLÉ

Ingredients For 6 Servings

  • 1 pound broccoli rabe
  • 1-1/2 cups fresh corn kernels or frozen, thawed and drained
  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter, plus more for greasing pan
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Grana Padano cheese
  • 4 ounces (1 cup) finely grated sharp Cheddar or Gruyère cheese
  • 1 small hot red pepper such as Fresno, jalapeño, or Thai,
    seeded and minced
  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 3/4 cup half-and-half
  • 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 6 large eggs at room temperature, separated 1/4 teaspoons cream of tartar
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    Whip these ingredients into a delicious soufflé. Photo courtesy Andy Boy.

     
    Equipment

  • 2-1/2 quart capacity (10 x 2-inch) round or oval baking dish, or oven-proof skillet
  •  
    Preparation

    1. TRIM the broccoli rabe. Fill a pot with enough water to cover the greens, add salt and bring to a rolling boil. Blanch the greens for no more than ten seconds; drain at once and plunge into ice water to arrest cooking. Drain again and squeeze out excess water. (For a mellower flavor and tender texture, cook the greens for 2-4 minutes, depending on your “kick” and “crunch” preference.) Chop and set it aside.

    2. REMOVE corn from cob. If using frozen corn, pat it dry with a paper towel to remove excess liquid.

    3. PREHEAT the oven to 400°F. Arrange a rack on the lower third position of the oven, removing other racks. Grease the bottom and sides of the baking dish or the individual ramekins with butter. Scatter the Parmigiano-Reggiano or Grana Padano in the pan and shake to coat the bottom and sides as much as possible. Don’t be concerned about gaps in coverage. Tap out any excess.

    4. MELT half of the butter in a medium-sized, thick-bottomed saucepan. Stir in the garlic. Immediately add the chopped broccoli rabe, corn and minced hot pepper and cook over medium-low heat to marry the flavors, stirring occasionally, 3-4 minutes. Transfer it to a strainer to cool.

    5. WARM the milk and half-and-half together in a small saucepan with a heavy bottom, until they begin to simmer; don’t allow it to break into a boil. Keep it warm. (Alternatively, measure out the milk into a glass measuring cup and heat it in a microwave.)

    6. MELT the remaining butter in another, medium-sized heavy saucepan. Over low heat, add the flour and stir with a wooden spoon or whisk to prevent lumps from forming. Stir constantly, about 2 minutes. Do not let the mixture brown.

    7. REMOVE the pan from the heat and add the warm milk and half-and-half mix, one trickle at a time, until you have used up 1/2 cup, stirring constantly to blend. Return the pan to the burner over low heat and stir in the remaining milk, still at a trickle, slowly and gradually. If lumps start to appear, you are probably adding the milk too quickly. Should this happen, turn off the heat and stir, pressing the lumps against the side of the pan and continue to blend in the hot milk very gradually. When all the warm milk has been added, simmer the sauce over low heat for another 5 minutes or so, until it is very thick. Stir in 1/4 teaspoon of salt.

    8. REMOVE the sauce from the stove and transfer it to large mixing bowl. Whisk in one egg yolk at a time. It should be tepid to warm when folding in the remaining ingredients.

    9. BEAT the egg whites in a bowl with a pinch of salt on medium speed until they are frothy, about 1 minute in a stand mixer, up to 2 minutes using a hand-held mixer. Add the cream of tartar and continue to beat until soft peaks form, 1 to 2 minutes. Whisk a quarter of the whites into the sauce. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the rest in two batches, working carefully to combine the ingredients without deflating the whites. At last, fold in the cooled broccoli rabe, corn, and hot pepper mixture along with the Cheddar or Gruyère.

    10. TRANSFER the batter into the prepared baking dish, using the rubber spatula to spread it. (At this point it can be covered with an upturned pot and set aside for up to an hour before baking.) Slide it onto the prepared oven rack. Bake until a puffy, golden brown crust is formed on the surface and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Serve at once. It must be piping hot.

      

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    GIFT: Madécasse Artisan Chocolate Bars

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    Madécasse chocolate bars can be gifted individually or in boxed sets. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     

    If you’re looking for something special for a chocolate lover, check the chocolate section of Whole Foods Markets. In addition to other fine brands, they carry Madécasse chocolate bars, made in Madagascar from locally-grown cacao and vanilla beans.

    The fairly traded chocolate is made with a rare native heirloom cacao, so people who really like to taste the differences in cacao by terroir will have a field day.

    You’ll find flavors such as:

  • Espresso Bean Chocolate Bar, made with 44% dark milk chocolate that has caramel notes, and blended with a coffee crunch.
  • Salted Almond Chocolate Bar, 63% semisweet chocolate, sprinkled with roasted almond nibs and sea salt for.
  • Sea Salt & Nibs Chocolate Bar, 63% semisweet chocolate with added crushed cocoa bean nibs and a light dusting of sea salt. It was the winner of “Best In Show” at a recent Paris Salon du Chocolat.
  • Toasted Coconut Chocolate Bar, made with a 70% bittersweet chocolate with fruity notes, topped with crunchy flakes of toasted coconut.
  • Special Holiday Bars, Orange Cranberry and Hazelnut, both 63% semisweet chocolate.
  •  
    Other options include plain 70% and 80% cacao bars, Cinnamon & Chile Pepper, Citrus & Pink Pepper. There are gift sets at Madecasse.com. Each bar retails for $4.99.

     
    For holiday gift giving, you can replace the straw tie in the hole punched in the top of the package with a festive ribbon, tie a bar onto a larger gift box, or even hang it from the tree!

    ABOUT MADÉCASSE

    Madécasse Chocolate is a Brooklyn-based chocolate manufacturer established in 2006 by two Peace Corps volunteers who served in Madagascar. Their mission was to improve economic opportunities for farmers and villagers in the region. The name Madécasse refers to an inhabitant of Madegascar.

    Madécasse is the only company producing bean-to-bar chocolate and vanilla products that are grown, harvested and hand-wrapped entirely in Madagascar. The chocolate is made from the world’s last remaining genetically pure cacao beans.

    All Madécasse products are Fair for Life certified, a certification similar to Fair trade, but which offers four times the economic impact.

    Learn more at Madecasse.com.

     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Christmas Tree Napkin Fold

    A few decades back when napkin folds were a staple of fancy entertaining, we bought a book on the topic and created everything from fans to fleurs-de-lis.

    If you’re not familiar with the art of napkin folding, here are 27 basic napkin folds and many more types of napkin folding on Pinterest.

    Napkin folding may seem old fashioned, but every formal dinner table still features crisp napkins. And there’s no better time than Christmas dinner to show off.

    Here’s how to make the Christmas tree napkin fold in the photo, from crafting site Handimania.com.

     
    A BIT ABOUT NAPERY

    Napery is another term for linens used for household purposes, including napkins and tablecloths.

    In wealthy medieval households, there was an “office” responsible for the washing and storage of these items, headed by a naperer who worked closely with other offices.

     

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    Fold green, red or white napkins into Christmas trees. Photo courtesy Handimania.com.

     
    These included the office of the laundry, charged with the washing and storage of clothing; and the office of the ewery, which managed the water and the vessels for drinking and washing. In smaller affluent households that couldn’t keep up with the Joneses (or the Lord Joneses), these three functions were managed by the same staff. [Source]

    Crisp napkins were folded in style at the tables of the 19th-century elite and through the early 20th century. The art has been kept alive at certain fine restaurants and catering establishments.

    These days, things are more casual at our home—except for very special holiday dinners. We’ll be folding Christmas tree napkins on the 25th!

      

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