Fort Wayne, Indiana (November 1, 2008) — ‘Tis the season for warm soups and hearty vegetables. While the days may be short and cold, there are still many fresh vegetables at their prime during the winter. We’ve cooked up a feast featuring winter’s bountiful vegetables and seasonal treats. Fresh golden beets star in our creamy bisque, as well as in our light salad alongside carrots, potatoes and sprouts. Crispy sage crackers complement the soup’s rich flavors. And decadent red-velvet cupcakes make for a perfectly sweet ending. From our kitchen to yours, we hope these recipes will inspire you to eat well and make healthy food choices.
Golden Beet and Sunflower Sprout Salad with Vinaigrette (Serves 6)
4 medium golden beets with greens
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat oven to 425°.
- Trim beet greens, leaving 1 inch of stems attached. Tightly wrap beets together in double layers of foil into packages, and roast in middle of oven until tender, about 45 minutes. Unwrap beets and let cool slightly.
- While beets roast, toast sunflower seeds in a pie plate in lower third of oven, shaking occasionally, until seeds are golden, about 10 minutes.
- Whisk together shallot, vinegar, salt, pepper and sugar in a small bowl, then add oil in a stream, whisking.
- When beets are cool enough to handle, slip off skins and discard. Cut beets lengthwise into ¼-inch thick slices and gently toss with 3 tablespoons of the vinaigrette in a bowl.
- Toss sunflower sprouts and half of sunflower seeds with remaining vinaigrette in another bowl.
- Arrange beets on 6 salad plates and top with dressed sprouts. Sprinkle salads with remaining sunflower seeds.
TIP: For more color and flavor, add sweetened dried cranberries.
NOTE: If making soup at the same time, roast additional beets with the other vegetables in the hearty soup recipe in a second roasting pan.
Roasted Vegetable with Jarlsburg Bisque (Serves 6)
3 Tbsps butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
- Preheat oven to 375°. Peel skin from beets and cut into ¾-inch chunks; scrape carrots and cut into large chunks. Place in a large roasting pan with olive oil and fennel seed; sprinkle with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Roast for 30 minutes.
- Cut onion into ¾-inch chunks as well as scrubbed potatoes, add to roasting vegetables and continue roasting for an additional 60 minutes.
- In large heavy saucepan melt butter. Add flour and blend to make roux. Cook while whisking until mixture bubbles.
- Gradually add broth and continue whisking until well blended. Add vegetables to broth and simmer gently.
- Blend cream and egg. Add several tablespoons of hot soup to temper egg mixture, blend and return to pot. Cook until slightly thickened. Add roasted vegetables to pot.
- Blend in shredded cheese and heat until cheese is melted. Adjust seasonings and serve immediately.
TIP: Choose beets with tops attached. Bunches with beets of similar size will cook more evenly.
Sage Crackers (Makes 16)
2 cups all purpose flour
1/8 cup fresh sage, thyme or rosemary, finely minced
- Preheat oven to 425°.
- Put flour, baking powder, salt and herbs into a large bowl; stir to mix well. Add milk and half of olive oil. Stir with fork or mix with hands until flour mixture is moistened. (Add more oil if necessary.) Gather up mixture with your hands and press into a ball.
- Put dough onto a lightly floured board and knead about 10 to 15 times. Form two dough balls and flatten slightly; cut each ball into 8 wedges. Each wedge will become a cracker. Form one wedge at a time into a ball, then roll it out onto a lightly floured surface into a thin wafer, about 4 – 5 inches in diameter. Brush lightly with olive oil and sprinkle lightly with kosher salt.
- Transfer to an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake about 8 minutes or until golden brown. Cool, uncovered on a wire rack. Best when served within 8 hours of baking.
TIP: Store crackers in an airtight container after cooling completely.
Red Velvet Cupcakes with Peppermint Cream Cheese Icing (Makes twelve jumbo-sized cupcakes)
Peppermint Cream Cheese Butter Icing
- Preheat oven to 350°. Prepare muffin pan by greasing and dusting with flour or lining with cupcake papers.
- In large bowl of electric mixer, blend Crisco and sugar until mixed well. Add eggs, and vanilla and mix until well blended.
- Sift together flour, cocoa powder and kosher salt. Add to bowl alternating with buttermilk and mix on medium high until completely blended.
- Add food coloring and blend. Dissolve baking soda in vinegar in small bowl and add to mix, blend another minute.
- Divide batter among cupcake holders, filling at least ¾ full. Bake in preheated oven 20–23 minutes or until top springs back when lightly touched. Cool on wire rack.
- Serve with berry medley and fresh whipped cream.
Peppermint Cream Cheese Butter Icing
- Beat butter and cream cheese in large bowl of electric mixer until fluffy. Add vanilla and beat until creamy. Add confectioner’s sugar one cup at a time, alternating with milk and beat until smooth. Beat in peppermint candy cane powder, icing should turn a light pink and have a slight peppermint taste. May need additional milk or sugar to correct for consistency to pipe and hold shape of star tip.
- Prepare a pastry bag with star tip, spoon icing into bag and pipe decoratively on top of each cooled cupcake.
- Dust with additional cracked candy cane pieces.
Tip: If you do not have pastry bags and decorating tips, you may use a heavy duty sealing plastic bag. Fill half full with icing and cut corner off bag; squeeze onto top of cupcake using circular motions.
About our featured chef: Nan Yablong has embraced the Vera Bradley Foundation as her special cause because she lost her mother to cancer 22 years ago. She has enthusiastically served on almost every committee in her eleven years as a Classic volunteer. As a graduate of LaRivage French Cooking School in Dartmouth, MA, with a passion for both cooking and baking, she was the perfect choice to help us develop healthy and delicious cancer-fighting recipes.