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Broiled Flank Steak with Pomegranate-Balsamic Reduction

Our garbage disposal threw its hands up and surrendered to the land of broken appliances. We fought it for awhile, clinging to the hope that our dear friend would stay with us. But, its conviction was strong and we’ve had to say goodbye. It’s funny, because I never had a garbage disposal growing up, yet I’ve somehow become so very attached to the one in our home that I hardly know how to function in the kitchen without it. A new, super monster of a disposal is waiting to be installed, but in the mean time, we’ve been learning to throw our scraps in the garbage.

No one has benefited more from the broken garbage disposal than our giant labrador disposal. We do not feed him people food. No, he just helps himself. And so, during he night, while the rest of the family is sleeping, our labrador sticks his giant head into the garbage bag and enjoys a midnight snack. His most recent snack included tender pieces of broiled flank steak drizzled with a pomegranate balsamic reduction and served with garlic-sauteed broccoletti and roasted sweet potato wedges. He greeted me in the morning with the enthusiastic tail wags of gratitude.

Interested in pleasing your canine friend? Here’s how it’s done…

P.S. Humans will also enjoy this tasty meal.

Broiled Flank Steak with Pomegranate Balsamic Reduction

Ingredients

  • 1 Flank Steak (about a pound)
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 3/4 cup Pomegranate Juice
  • 1/2 cup Balsamic Vinegar

Directions

Preheat broiler. Season the steak with a generous amount of salt and pepper. Place it on a baking sheet and broil a few inches below the broiler, for 10-15 minutes, depending on your desired doneness. Allow the steak to rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing.

For the reduction, combine pomegranate juice and balsamic vinegar in a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Continue boiling until the mixture has reduced by 3/4. Spoon the warm reduction sauce over your cooked slices of steak.

Garlic Sauteed Broccoletti

Ingredients

  • 1 large bunch of Broccoletti (or broccolini, rapini, rappi, broccoli rabe)
  • 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 2 teaspoons Garlic, minced
  • Salt and Pepper

Directions

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Insert the broccoletti and simmer for 3-4 minutes. Strain. In a large pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the minced garlic and cook for about 2 minutes. Add the broccoletti to the pan and toss in the olive oil and garlic. Season with salt and pepper.

Roasted Sweet Potato Wedges

Ingredients

  • 3 large Sweet Potatoes
  • Olive Oil
  • Cajun Seasoning

Directions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Thoroughly wash the sweet potatoes and cut in half across the middle. Place in a microwave safe bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Microwave for about 5 minutes. The potatoes should still be quite firm at this point. (Microwaving the potatoes for a few minutes will help to reduce the roasting time and makes the potatoes softer and safer to slice into wedges.) Allow the potatoes to cook for a minute, then slice each potato half into wedges. Toss the wedges in olive oil until well coated and season with cajun seasoning. Arrange the wedges in a single layer on a large baking sheet and bake for about 30-35 minutes, until tender and lightly browned.

Serves 4 Humans (with enough leftovers for one large dog)




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Thanksgiving Week – Spiced Sweet Potato Puree with Pecan Streusel

It’s Thanksgiving Week here at The Gourmand Mom. We’re gradually working our way through a full Thanksgiving menu; the bird, the sides, and the sweets. Hopefully, as we make our way through the feast, you’ll find a little something which works for you, whether you’re preparing the whole meal for a large crowd or bringing a dish or dessert to share. Yesterday, we took a look at an Herb-Roasted Turkey Breast with Pan Gravy. Today, we’re moving on to my favorite part; the side dishes. The best part is that all of my side dish ideas can be prepared a day or two ahead of time, which gives you more time to enjoy your family and friends (or the game) on Turkey Day.

We’re starting with a sweet potato puree. I’ve been making some variation of these sweet potatoes for as long as I’ve been cooking a Thanksgiving meal. They’re spicy, they’re sweet, they’re practically a dessert. The base is always the same; sweet potatoes, slow-roasted to develop maximum sweetness, pureed until smooth, sweetened with a bit of maple syrup, then spiced with a generous amount of cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. The topping varies from year to year. This year, I’m going with a crumbly pecan streusel topping. For a less sweet alternative, buttered pecans, toasted with cinnamon and cayenne, add the perfect crunch and kick of spice. And it’s hard to go wrong with toasted mini marshmallows (for the kid in all of us).

Spiced Sweet Potato Puree with Pecan Streusel

Ingredients

For the Sweet Potatoes:

  • 5 large Sweet Potatoes or Yams
  • 1/4 cup Maple Syrup
  • 1/2 stick Butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon Ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon Nutmeg

For the Pecan Streusel:

  • 1/2 cup Flour
  • 1/3 cup Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup Pecans, coarse chopped
  • 1/2 stick Butter, melted

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Wash the sweet potatoes and pierce the skins several times with a fork. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 1 1/2 – 2 hours, until very tender. Allow to cool. When cool enough to handle, scoop out the potato and discard the skins. Puree the sweet potatoes until smooth. Stir in the melted butter and syrup. Add the syrup a little at a time to reach your desired level of sweetness. Add the cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Stir to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning, if desired. Spoon the puree into a baking dish.

To prepare the streusel, combine the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and pecans in a bowl. Pour the melted butter over the mixture and stir until well-combined. The mixture should be crumbly. Scatter the streusel over the sweet potatoes. The entire dish can be prepared to this point ahead of time and refrigerated. When ready to reheat, place in a 350-375 degrees oven for about 30 minutes, or until well-heated through.

As an alternative to the streusel topping, try toasting a cup of pecan halves in a pan with a little butter, cinnamon, and a dash of cayenne.

Serves about 8


Sweet Potato Bisque with Pan-Seared Scallops and Bacon

Confession: I’m a digger. Give me a pint of cookie dough ice cream and I will inadvertently eat the entire container as I dig and search for those luscious little bits of cookie dough. Just one more bite always uncovers the hint of another piece. So, I dig and eat and work with the patience of an archeologist at an excavation site, gently removing each glorious piece of cookie dough. I get lost in my work, until suddenly I’m holding an empty container. I feel both ashamed and proud simultaneously. I’m a digger.

So, you may imagine the little problem I had with those brownies I recently shared with you; the ones I so cleverly filled with bits of halloween candy; those bits of halloween candy which taunted me into consuming bite after bite after bite of chewy, fudgey brownies. I would have stopped. Really, I would have. But then I’d catch a glimpse of something; a piece of Twix, perhaps. One more bite. But wait…what’s that? Gooey, melted Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, behind which hid a few caramel-coated peanuts; remnants of a chunk of Snickers. And that’s how the brownies disappeared, one focused bite at a time.The baby in my belly is most thankful for the sweet treat.

But this post isn’t about my small digging problem. Though it is about sweets; sweet, sweet, sweet potatoes. With Thanksgiving fast approaching, I’ve got sweet potatoes on the brain. And my brain was convinced that it was the perfect time for a spicy sweet potato bisque. I know. You’re probably thinking that this girl sure makes a lot of soups for someone who claims to be largely indifferent to soups. Perhaps I enjoy soup even more than I realize.

When it comes to creamy, bisque-style soups, I’ve got a little weakness for serving them with a bit of fresh seafood showcased in the center. (See my recipe for Chilled Avocado Soup and Crab Cake with Chipotle Remoulade.) A bit of crunch in the form of crispy bacon, croutons, seeds or nuts never hurts too. These little touches of flavor and texture turn a simple bisque into a simply elegant meal. I’m pairing my sweet potato bisque with a few seared sea scallops and some crispy applewood-smoked bacon for a fantastic autumn meal.

Spiced Sweet Potato Bisque

Ingredients

  • 4 large Sweet Potatoes
  • 1 medium Onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon Garlic, minced
  • 5-6 slices Bacon*
  • 3 cups Chicken Broth
  • 1 cup Half and Half
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon Ginger
  • Dash of Nutmeg
  • Dash (or two) of Cayenne

*If available, I recommend using applewood smoked bacon. It’s nitrate free and the flavor is fantastic.

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Wash the sweet potatoes and pierce the skin several times with a fork. Place the sweet potatoes on a baking sheet and bake for about 90 minutes until fork-tender. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

In a large wide-bottomed saucepan or stockpot, cook the bacon over medium heat until crispy. Remove the bacon and set aside for garnishing the soup. Pour off all but about 2 tablespoons of the bacon grease. Add the onion and garlic to the bacon grease and cook for about 5 minutes until the onions are tender and slightly translucent. When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, scoop out the sweet potato and add it to the pan. Discard the skins. Add the chicken broth. Simmer the sweet potatoes in the broth for a few minutes. Then, allow the mixture to cool slightly. Blend the mixture until completely smooth. (An immersion blender is the most convenient tool for the job, but a regular blender or food processor will work fine. Just be careful when transferring the warm mixture to a blender or food processor.) Return the blended mixture to the saucepan. Add the half and half and stir until well blended. Add the salt and seasonings. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired. Serve warm.

Note: Depending on the size of the sweet potatoes and your desired soup consistency, you may need to add more or less chicken broth and half and half.

For the Pan-Seared Scallops: To cook the scallops, heat 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil in a pan over medium to medium-high heat. Pat the scallops dry and season with a little salt. (About a pound of scallops will serve four people.) Place the scallops in the pan. Let them cook for about 2-3 minutes, without disturbing. Once they’ve formed a golden-brown crust, turn the scallops over. Cook for another 2-3 minutes on the other side, or until fully cooked through. Cooking time will vary depending on the size of the scallops.

To Serve: Pour some of the warm soup into a wide bowl. It shouldn’t be too deep. Place several seared scallops in the center of the soup. Top with the crispy bacon reserved from the soup.

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