by Angelo Prosperi-Porta
I always like to veer a little off the beaten track when cooking especially when entertaining. This is the time to introduce new flavors – not a complete, radical departure from tradition (you don’t want to upset Uncle Alfred!), but just a few subtle changes – enough to make your guests notice that something’s different.
In this issue I will outline the rest of the menu that represents the transitional time of year started last month. These warm flavors of Fall will help inspire and kick-start your entertaining season. The menu can be approached in two parts, beginning with an informal stand-up gathering and followed by a more formal finale at the table. For starters, try just one or two of the dishes. I encourage you to experiment and make any changes you like.
Last time we made Ginger Lemon Soda, Spiced Honey Glazed Almonds and Rosemary Honey Scones. This month we finish with Honey Roasted Parsnips, Pan-Fried Trout and Spiced Honey & Roasted Yam Mousse.
HONEY ROASTED PARSNIPS
I love root vegetables at any time of the year, but Fall and Winter are the best times to enjoy these underrated veggies. Roasting or grilling brings out the natural sugars in most vegetables; parsnips are no exception. The honey, of course, adds even more flavor. If you do choose to grill root vegetables, you may want to lightly blanch or steam them prior to placing on the grill. This will allow them to cook a little quicker and maintain moisture. The result will also be more tender.
2 lb parsnips (about 4–6 medium-sized)
1 whole head garlic
6 large sprigs fresh rosemary
3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup honey
½ cup water
1 Tbsp smoked paprika
1 tsp table salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Peel the parsnips. Trim off the ends and cut into ½-inch pieces. Separate the cloves of garlic and peel.
Combine all of the ingredients in a roasting pan. (You can keep the rosemary sprigs whole.)
Roast in the oven for 20 to 30 minutes or until tender, turning every 10 minutes. Serves six to eight.
PAN-FRIED TROUT WITH ARUGULA, WALNUT AND HONEY PESTO
Fresh trout has always been one of my favorite fish. It brings back memories of the lakes surrounding the area where I grew up. Spring was always the best time. Fresh trout, salt and pepper, fresh new baby potatoes from Mom and Dad’s garden for breakfast!
If you want to avoid more fully flavored fish, trout is a good choice. It is mild compared to most salmon species, although it is from the same family, and yet more flavorful than a basic white fish. The fresh sharp taste of the arugula goes well with the trout. This recipe can be adapted for any favorite fish. Try to choose one with enough flavor so it’s not overwhelmed by the pesto.
4 (4–5 oz) trout fillets, skin on
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups fresh arugula
½ cup Italian parsley
¼ cup chopped walnuts
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp honey
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Season the fillets with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Heat a 10-inch nonstick frying pan on medium-high heat. Add the butter and olive oil and let the foam subside. Place the fillets into the pan flesh side up and cook for three to four minutes. Turn over the fillets and cook for another two to three minutes or until the flesh just begins to flake when tested with a fork.
While the trout is cooking, process the pesto ingredients in a food processor or blender. Don’t make the sauce too smooth – some texture should remain. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
Plate the trout, one fillet per person, and top with the pesto. Serves four.
SPICED HONEY & ROASTED YAM MOUSSE
Using root vegetables in desserts is not as unusual as it seems. There are many recipes for chocolate cake with beets, and, of course, carrot cake is a classic. Yams are used in quick breads, combined with pumpkin for pies, and even in ice cream. Here we use the yam in a mousse with honey. The result may be surprising. Yams bring a natural sweetness to this dessert, enhanced by the roasting process and the addition of honey. The spices in this mousse make it a great fall and winter dessert, reminiscent of pumpkin pie, but much lighter in texture.
1 medium-sized yam (or sweet potato)
4 large eggs, separated
¾ cup honey
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
¼ tsp ground allspice
Pinch of salt
½ cup heavy cream (35, whipped to soft peaks (optional)
1 Tbsp light-colored honey
¼ cup toasted sliced almonds
Pinch each of ground cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Scrub the yam or sweet potato, and poke it with a fork several times. Roast on a baking sheet until completely tender, about one hour. Slice it in half when cool enough to handle. Scoop out the flesh and put it in a food processor, discarding the skin. Process until smooth. For an even smoother consistency, press the purée through a fine-meshed sieve.
Combine the egg whites and honey in a bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture reaches 160°F. Remove from the heat. Beat the whites using an electric mixer on high speed until glossy peaks form.
In a medium saucepan, combine the egg yolks, yam purée, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, and salt. Cook on medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture comes to a boil. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
Gently stir in one-third of the egg whites, and then gradually fold in the rest, along with the whipped cream (if using). Portion the mixture into 6 to 8 serving glasses, cover, and chill.
Make the garnish Have ready two 12- × 12-inch pieces of parchment paper. In a small saucepan on medium, heat the honey. Cook until it begins to caramelize or until darkened. This will take a few minutes. Once the honey is evenly colored, remove from the heat and stir in the almonds and the spices.
Spread the warm mixture onto one of the pieces of parchment. Top with the second piece of parchment, and roll flat with a rolling pin as thin as possible. Cool until the mixture hardens, and score or break into pieces of desired size for garnishing. Serves six to eight.