Root Vegetables for Winter Warmth

A basic tomato sauce is used as a topping for our simple cannelloni dish.

November 18, 2008 | | Back Issues | Departments | Food | The Country Cook | Winter 2008

We quiche it as a mainstay of the winter freezer, with such backup variations as mushroom, spinach, zucchini, and onion along with a Quiche Lorraine or two. Illustration by Shelagh Armstrong.

We quiche it as a mainstay of the winter freezer, with such backup variations as mushroom, spinach, zucchini, and onion along with a Quiche Lorraine or two. Illustration by Shelagh Armstrong.

The excellent choice of root vegetables available over the winter is the inspiration for our quiche. Easily frozen and reheated, and suitable as a main dish, an appetizer or an hors d’œuvre, the versatility of quiche is often underrated. We recommend it as a mainstay of the winter freezer, with such backup variations as mushroom, spinach, zucchini, and onion along with a Quiche Lorraine or two.

A basic tomato sauce is used as a topping for our simple cannelloni dish. Canned or frozen tomato sauce and is another staple of the winter cupboard. Classic tomato sauce is made with a roux, but our recipe, technically a coulis, requires no additional thickener. Diced chicken can be substituted for the mozzarella in the cannelloni, and you can be imaginative in your choice of herbs.

A rich, hot, chocolate soufflé is our featured dessert, and it requires particular attention to cooking time. Although the recipe should take 30 minutes in the oven, do take a peek at about the 20-minute mark. We use a pastry cream as a base, which is a method that provides a lighter, classical soufflé. It is worth investing in a soufflé dish, which is round with straight sides, to assist in the rising.

There is no room for additional baking with a soufflé, so when timing for a dinner party, prepare the dessert up to beating in the egg whites. Then you have only to add the whites before popping it in the oven 30 minutes before serving.

Tomato Sauce

  • 8 c / 2 L fresh plum tomatoes
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 stick celery
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 tsp / 5 ml granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp / 5 ml salt
  • 1/2 tsp / 2.5 ml ground pepper
  • 2 parsley sprigs
  • salt and pepper to taste

Wash the tomatoes and place them in a large heavy-bottomed pot. Peel and halve the onion and add to the pot. Place the carrot, celery and parsley in the pot and sprinkle with sugar, salt and pepper. Cover the pot and let simmer for 30 minutes. Stir when tomatoes are soft to break up the skins. Simmer another 30 minutes or until carrots are soft. Remove from the heat and press through a strainer to extract all of the liquid and pulp. Discard the seeds and skin. The sauce may be reheated and processed in a water bath at this point or allowed to cool and frozen. Yield 8 cups.

Tomato Cannelloni

  • 4 c / 1 L tomato sauce
  • 1 474 g tub ricotta cheese
  • 2 c / 500 ml mozzarella
  • 2 tbsp / 30 ml fresh parsley
  • 16 4×6-inch squares fresh pasta sheets
  • salt and pepper

Dice the mozzarella cheese into 1/2-inch cubes. Finely chop the parsley. In a medium bowl, combine the cheeses, parsley, salt and pepper. Place a portion of the stuffing mixture on each pasta square and roll up to make cannelloni. In a 10 x 6 inch (28 x 18 cm) oven-proof dish, spread 1 cup of the tomato sauce over the bottom and arrange the cannelloni on top, spreading more tomato sauce between layers. Pour remaining tomato sauce over the top and place in a 350°F pre-heated oven and bake for 30 minutes or until sauce begins to bubble. Serves 8.

Quiche Mélange

  • 2 c / 500 ml zucchini
  • 1 red pepper
  • 2 c / 500 ml sweet potato
  • 1 c / 250 ml carrot
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 c / 500 ml eggplant
  • 6 cloves of garlic, halved
  • 1/4 c / 62 ml olive oil
  • 1 c / 250 ml cream
  • 1 c / 250 ml old cheddar
  • 3 eggs
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 pastry shell

Cube the vegetables into 1″ pieces and place with garlic on a baking sheet and toss with the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and then bake in a 350°F oven for 30 minutes. Turn vegetables over and continue to bake until vegetables are softened. Remove from oven and let cool. Cover the pastry with crumpled baking paper and fill with pie weights (or dried beans). Bake for 10 minutes in a preheated 400°F oven. Remove the weights and paper and cook for a further 10 minutes. Place the cooked vegetables in the pie plate. In a bowl, combine the eggs, cream, cheddar and salt and pepper. Pour over the vegetables. Bake at 350°F for 40 minutes, or until set in the centre. Serves 8.

Baked Chocolate Soufflé

  • 1/2 c / 125 ml granulated sugar
  • 2 c / 500 ml milk
  • 1/3 c + 2 tbsp / 120 ml all-purpose flour
  • 1 c / 250 ml chopped
  • semi-sweet chocolate
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 6 egg whites
  • 1 tsp / 5 ml vanilla extract
  • Icing sugar
  • 2 tbsp / 30 ml unsalted butter
  • 1/4 c / 60 ml granulated sugar to dust mould
  • Parchment paper
  • 9-inch soufflé mould

Melt the butter. Cut and tie a piece of parchment paper around the outside of the mould and secure with kitchen twine around the middle of the mould. The parchment paper should project above the rim of the dish by two inches to support the soufflé as it rises. Brush the dish and the parchment with the melted butter. Dust with the 1/4 cup of granulated sugar. Place a baking sheet in the oven on a lower rack and preheat the oven to 425°F.

Melt the chocolate and set aside. Bring the milk to a boil in a saucepan. Beat the egg yolks and the 1/2 cup sugar together until light and fluffy. Using a whisk, beat in the flour and the hot milk. Place back on the heat and bring just to the boil, then reduce to simmer for about five minutes, stirring constantly. Whisk the melted chocolate and the vanilla into the milk mixture.

Beat the egg whites to a stiff peak and stir one third of the whites into the chocolate mixture to “tease” or lighten the chocolate. Gently fold in the remaining egg whites. Pour into the prepared mould, place on the baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Turn the heat down to 375°F after the first 15 minutes and bake another 15 minutes. When done, remove the parchment paper, dust with icing sugar and serve immediately. Serves 8.

About the Author More by Sandra Cranston-Corradini

Sandra Cranston-Corradini is the proprietor of the Cranston-Corradini School of Cooking.

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