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Ingredient of the Week: Pomegranate

Pomegranate (c)2011 LaDomestique.com

Pomegranates have been around a long time. A native of the Middle East, the pomegranate was written about in the Old Testament of the bible. They are like the armadillo of fruits. On the outside, pomegranates are normal enough: blushing red globes that fit in the palm of your hand. However, their leathery skin belies an ancient mystery. Can you think of another fruit with such a texture? Slice a pomegranate open and find yourself covered in burgundy juice. Their insides are strangely attractive, almost like the caverns and honeycombs of a wild beehive. Instead of sweet, juicy flesh, the pomegranate offers a multitude of seeds which must be cleaned of all the bitter white membrane before eating. It’s a messy job, but well worth the trouble. The seeds are attached to ruby-red sacs of sweet and sour nectar. Add them to salads, sautéed greens, and roasted vegetables for a festive garnish. For me, pomegranates ease the sadness that comes when farmers markets close for the winter and I’m left with only the supermarket and its fluorescent lighting. The fresh fruit is good for seeds and juice, but there is also a pantry product called pomegranate molasses. It’s a thick, concentrated, maroon-colored liquid with a complex sweet and sour flavor. Pomegranate molasses is embraced in Middle Eastern cooking. Its role is like that of balsamic vinegar in glazing roasted meats and vegetables, dressing salads, or livening up dips for bread and crudités. Tomorrow is 10 Ways Tuesday at la Domestique, and I’ve got creative ideas for using pomegranate seeds, juice, and pomegranate molasses in your winter cooking.

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This Past Week at La Domestique

This past week at la Domestique I’ve been recovering from Thanksgiving and ramping up for the winter pantry to begin on Monday. Baking is my way of slowing life down and getting into the holiday spirit. Pictured above is a Martha Stewart recipe for Double-Crust Apple Pie I baked for Thanksgiving. I also baked my first pumpkin pie using this Martha Stewart recipe for Easy Pumpkin Pie. Even at an altitude of 5,280 feet it came out perfectly. Baking a custard pie hot and fast helps at altitude, so I increased the temperature by about 15 degrees Fahrenheit. Rather than using the shortbread crust called for in the recipe, I made a graham cracker crust. The grainy texture of the graham cracker crust was a nice contrast to the creamy pumpkin filling.

Cookies are essential for conjuring up Christmas cheer, and Smitten Kitchen’s Gingersnaps filled my home with a spiced aroma that would soften any grinch. I’ve got a tray of the cookies in the freezer, ready to pop into a hot oven on a moment’s notice. Though delicious on their own, I enjoyed the gingersnaps for ice cream sandwiches as well. I like my cookies soft rather than snappy, so I just baked them for a bit less time.

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Autumn Recipe Round-Up

I hope you all had a happy Thanksgiving! I’m taking some time with family again this week, but plan to be back next week with the regular programming. Before changing over to the winter pantry, I thought it would be fun to take a look back at fall. Below you’ll find a round-up of my favorite autumn articles here at la Domestique. Just click on the link to see the full article and recipe.

Cook in the Moment: Potato Galette

Cook in the Moment: Ribollita

Autumnal Walnut and Honey Soda Bread

Cook in the Moment: Whole Wheat Pasta with Brussels Sprouts, Brown Butter, and Walnuts

Do you have any favorite autumn recipes to share? Feel free to link them up in the comments section. Click Here.

My 7 Links

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you are enjoying the day with good food and the people you love. Today I want to say thank you. Thank you for reading la Domestique and joining the conversation. Thank you for your comments, tweets, and sharing on the la Domestique facebook page. My passion lies here, and the best part is sharing it with you all. A while back I was honored to be nominated by Victoria Haschka of the blog Eat-Tori to participate in the My 7 Links. This project sponsored by Tripbase seeks to unite bloggers by sharing lessons learned and provide a look back at posts from the archives of our work. As I dug through the backlogs of la Domestique, I felt a surprising amount of pride and joy. This site was born on March 27, 2011, and after I’ve grown and learned so much since that day. Taking a look back provided perspective on where I am today. I’m so thankful to have this creative outlet, as well as the love and support of my tech savvy husband, Len.

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Cook in the Moment: Mushroom Recipe Round-Up

Though there is no ingredient this Thanksgiving week, I do have a bit of inspiration for you over at the Whole Foods Market Cooking Boulder website. It’s a mushroom recipe round-up, perfect for an autumnal weeknight supper or the Thanksgiving menu. For the full article and 4 recipes, click on the icon below.

 

Today I’m busy in the kitchen making stock for gravy and baking brioche bread for my stuffing with a recipe from the River Cottage Bread Handbook. I baked this brioche last week for my Chestnut Stuffing with Caramelized Onions, Apples & Calvados and the bread turned out really well.

For more updates and kitchen projects check out the La Domestique facebook page. I’ve got behind the scenes photos, helpful links, and kitchen tips on the page. Also, feel free to join the conversation. Stop by the La Domestique facebook page and say hi!

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Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving week has arrived, and like you, I’m busy menu planning, running to the market, and preparing for the big day this Thursday. There will be no ingredient of the week here at la Domestique, but I’ll be popping in to share inspiration throughout the week. The photo above was taken with my iphone 3 at the Boulder Farmers Market recently. This weekend was the last farmers market in Boulder for the season, and it’s always sad to see the market end. However, I was able to stock up on veg for Thanksgiving. I also stopped by the Savory Spice Shop to pick up all the baking spices I need this time of year. I’ve planned my menu for the big day and I’m feeling unusually well-organized. I’ve put together a little reminder list of kitchen supplies you might want to stock up on if you are preparing Thanksgiving supper:

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This Past Week at La Domestique: Chestnuts

Chestnut (c)2011 LaDomestique.com

This past week at la Domestique was dedicated to cooking with chestnuts. Autumn is the season when chestnuts drop from the tree in windfalls. Here at la Domestique we explored cooking with raw chestnuts, jarred roasted chestnuts, chestnut purée, candied chestnuts, and chestnut flour. The soft, starchy texture and sweat, nutty flavor make chestnuts a delicious addition to the fall pantry.

In case you missed anything, I’ve got a recap:

Monday:  Announcing chestnuts as ingredient of the week.

Tuesday:  10 Ways Tuesday! Creative ideas for cooking with all forms of chestnuts in both sweet and savory recipes.

Wednesday:  Cook in the moment with a recipe for Chestnut Stuffing with Caramelized Onions, Apples & Calvados.

Thursday:  Learn the story behind chestnuts: growing, buying, storing, peeling, cooking and flavor pairing.

Friday:  Fall recipe for Pumpkin Chestnut Soup, a whole pumpkin filled with chestnuts and cream then baked into the oven.

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Pumpkin Chestnut Soup

Pumpkin Chestnut Soup may be the most delicious meal I’ve ever made. Ever. Maybe it’s the time of year. I am a creature of autumn. I cherish cool days and soft yellow sunlight. I relish whipping winds and leaves crunching beneath my feet. Pulling scarves and boots out of storage boxes sends a shiver of joy through me. I feel alive and inspired like no other time of year. This is my season.

Here in Colorado, sadly, the short growing season has peaked. The first snows have brought a dramatic halt to fresh from the garden produce. This week I officially put my garden plot to bed for the winter, cleaning out debris and giving her a thorough raking. It’s a shock to see the community gardens now, completely barren and empty, just as I found them in the beginning last spring. Quite different from the overgrown towers of sunflowers and wily vines of squash tumbling brazenly onto the walking path. During high summer the garden could not be contained. Today it’s only a mound of dirt.

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Storyboard: Chestnuts

Growing

Chestnuts are a funny looking nut with a fuzzy covering over their hard shell. There are several varieties of chestnut trees in the U.S., Europe, and Asia. Due to high levels of tannic acid, chestnuts cannot be eaten raw. The fuzzy exterior must be removed, then the nut is roasted and the hard shell removed. The actual nut is starchy and low in fat, with a sweet flavor and meaty texture. Chestnuts are wild and cultivated. Reading Starting with Ingredients, I learned that cultivated chestnuts (called “marrone” in Italian and “marron” in French) are a single nut in a fuzzy case, while wild chestnuts (“castagna” in Italian and “châtaigne” in French) yield several small nuts inside a fuzzy case. Chestnut trees grow in temperate climates. In the U.S. blight has been a major problem for growing chestnuts, but the industry is making a recovery. To see what chestnuts look like on the tree, check out these photos by Maria over at the blog Scandi Foodie.

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About Jess

Jess O'Toole is La Domestique

Hi, I’m Jess, aka La Domestique. No matter how busy or cooking-challenged you are I can help you live the good life and enjoy fresh, healthy meals at home every day. Find out more

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