Thursday, December 04, 2014

Easy Dill Pickles

Combine

  • 1½ cups white vinegar
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 4 teaspoons Kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 2 cups boiling water
Stir until the sugar and the salt are completely dissolved. Allow to cool.

In a large bow, toss 5 punds of pickling cucumbers, sliced ¼ inch thick, with ¼ cup dry dill weed and 6 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped. Pour the cooled brine over the cucumbers, and toss with a spoon to coat. Place a small plate over the cucumbers to keep them submerged in the bring, and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Refrigerate,

For the first week, stir well once a day.

Will keep refrigerated for several months.

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Watermelon Feta Salad

It is worth going out of your way to find a seedless watermelon, or else the preparation time will be extended with the tedious task of removing all the watermelon seeds!

Combine in a large bowl:
  • 3 cups watermelon in ½ inch cubes
  • 2 medium or small sweet peppers, chopped
  • 2 medium cucumbers, seeded and chopped
  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint leave, chopped
  • 3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 cup nonfat plain yogurt
  • 1 cup feta cheese, cut into small cubes

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Russian Vegetable Soup

Our CSA share has included some celery that's somewhat different from what one usually finds in a grocery store. The stalks are thin, and the greens on top are lush. We're not big fans of celery, but this turns it into something we do indeed like. When we get fresh beets as part of our CSA share, I save the cooking water (after cooling and pouring through a coffee filter) for stock. This dish isn't Borscht, but is an acquaintance if not a relative.

Heat 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil in an iron skillet. Add 2 medium onions and 1 teaspoon caraway seeds, sautéed until the onions are translucent.

In a separate pot, cook 6 medium sliced potatoes and 2 sliced carrots in a quart of beet stock, until the vegetable are fork-tender. Add 1½ cups tomato purée and 1½ cups celery greens, and the onions when ready.

Then add
  • 2 Tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons
  • fresh chopped dill (or 1½teaspoons dried dill)
Heat thoroughly, then purée half (or more) of the soup with an immersion blender or food processor. Serve with nonfat yogurt or sour cream with more dill mixed into it.

Monday, April 08, 2013

Spring Pasta Salad

When the garden is beginning to come back in early spring, it's nice to get some fresh herbs on the table. This pasta salad was so nice, I doubled it a couple of days later so we could enjoy it for a few more meals.

1 lb. Small shells
1/3 cup Extra Virgin olive oil
1/3 cup cider vinegar
1 cup frozen peas
3-4 scallions, chopped
1 small bunch chives, chopped
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, cut into thin strips
4-5 very thin slices red onion
1 carrot, julienned
1 cucumber, peeled & seeded, chopped fine
1-2 marinated red peppers, chopped
1/2 cup toasted walnuts
1/2 cup Kalamata olives
salt & pepper
1/2 cup Feta cheese, cubed

Cook the shells al dente, drain, and put into a large bowl. Add the oil & vinegar and the peas (no need to defrost), stir and let cool.

Add the remaining ingredients, and serve at warm, room temperature, or chilled.

"Small" shells really are small, and are perfect for this salad. They're exactly the right size to hold a single pea. A recent acquisition in our kitchen is a Mandoline slicer, and it makes the best thin onion slices.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Chilaquiles

I made this up because we had an open bag of tortilla chips, and the threat of just eating them plain was assessed as too high. All the other ingredients were things on hand, but it fit together very nicely.

Heat 2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin olive oil in a large skillet. Add, stirring frequently:
  • 1 cup whole tomatoes and their juice
  • ½ cup crushed tomatoes
  • 1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes in green chile
  • ½ cup chopped green chiles
  • 1 head garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • ½ teaspoon Adobo seasoning
Preheat oven to 350° F.

When the liquid has cooked down and the sauce is thickened, layer into a shallow rectangular casserole dish thin layers of the following in this order:
  • tomato sauce
  • tortilla chips
  • baby spinach leaves
  • grated cheddar/jack cheese
  • tortilla chips
  • 8 oz. light cream cheese, scattered in 3/8" cubes
  • ½ cup light sour cream, mixed with 2 chopped chipotles in Adobo sauce
  • tomato sauce
  • grated cheese
Bake at 350° F for 30 minutes.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Napa Cabbage Salad with Peanut Sesame Dressing

This was a marvelous way to use some of the abundance of our late fall share from Riverbend Roots Farm.
(Vegan)
  • 1 head thinly shredded napa cabbage
  • 2 carrots peeled and sliced into matchsticks (julienned)
  • 8 green onions (white  and green parts) sliced thin
  • 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Toss the cabbage, carrots, cilantro and green onions in a large bowl with enough dressing to coat recipe follows).  Sprinkle each serving with toasted sesame seeds. 

Peanut Sesame Dressing:
  • 2/3 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 3 Tablespoons hot water
  • 1/3 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 2 Tablespoons dark soy sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 2-3 clove fresh garlic
  • 2 teaspoons dark toasted sesame oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup lightly packed cilantro leaves, chopped fine
Mix the peanut butter and hot water until the smooth. (If the peanut butter was refrigerated, it helps to put it in a bowl sitting in a pan of hot water to soften it first.) Whisk in the other ingredients (except the cilantro) until smooth and creamy.  Stir in the cilantro at the end.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Pasta Salad

I made a big salad for a church fundraiser, and it vanished quickly. This would also be good for a picnic. It's easily doubled or halved.

Cook 2 pounds pasta just al dente, about 8-9 minutes. (I used bowtie pasta, but rotini, small shells, or small tube shapes would work well too.) Drain in a colander while running cold water over the pasta. Return to the pot or a large bowl, and drizzle on 2/3 cup Extra Virgin olive oil. Toss well and set aside.

When the pasta has cooled, add
  • a handful of fresh chives, chopped
  • ½ cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 4-5 scallions, thinly sliced (see note)
  • 1 cup peas (I used baby frozen peas, and set aside until defrosted, without cooking them)
  • 1 cup calamata olives, chopped
  • 3-4 marinated red peppers, diced
  • ½ cup feta cheese, cut in small cubes
  • ½ cup toasted almonds, coarsely chopped in half
  • 1 teaspoon salt, fresh ground pepper to taste.
  • 2/3 cup vinegar (I used a mix of red wine, balsamic, and cider vinegars)
Not all these ingredients are necessary, and others (e.g. sun-dried tomatoes, capers) would work well too.

Toss well and serve chilled or at room temperature.

If you have any garden space, or even a clay pot, you can plant the white root end of scallion (about a ½ inch piece) and they will grow back indefinitely. For this recipe, I picked the chives, parsley and scallions from our little garden. If you're serving this to a large group, it would be a friendly thing to note that it contains almonds, in case of any nut allergies.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Pasta with Tarragon Mushroom Cream Sauce

Put a pot of water on to boil for pasta as you start the sauce. (We like Fettuccine with this dish.)

In a large skillet on medium heat, add 2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin olive oil. When it is warmed, add
  • 1 pound of mushrooms, sliced thin, and sauté until their liquid comes out
  • then add 6 minced garlic cloves
  • 1 Tablespoon tarragon, finely crumbled
  • a pinch of nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon salt
Stir frequently, and when most of the liquid has evaporated, sprinkle 1 Tablespoon flour over the mix, stir to coat evenly, and add a 12 ounce can of fat free evaporated milk. Reduce the heat to low. Add 1½-2 cups chopped raw green vegetables of your choice. (We have liked this sauce with aspargus spears cut to 1½-2" lengths, and with chopped broccoli florets.)

If the water is boiling, start cooking the pasta al dente.

Continue to stir the sauce frequently, until it thickens. Serve over the pasta, with freshly grated Romano or Parmesan cheese at the table.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Crockpot Onion Soup

In a crock pot, add
  • ½ stick (¼ cup) butter
  • ¼ cup Extra Virgin olive oil
Fill the crock pot with onions (about 5 pounds of onions will fill mine), halved and sliced.

Add a bottle (12 ounces) of beer (any kind), and about 6 ounces of water (rinse the beer bottle!).

Put the cover on, turn the crock pot on medium, and let it cook 24-36 hours, stirring every few hours. (It is completely fine to let it continue to cook overnight.) The onions will caramelize, and it will lose about ¼ of the total volume. You shouldn't need to add more liquid, but if your crock pot seems to be cooking the liquid down too much, add a bit more.

To serve, toast a piece of good bread, and put it on the bottom of an oven-safe bowl (for each serving). Grate 2-3 Tablespoons of Gruyère cheese on top, and put under a broiler for 5 minutes.
(Note: while other "Swiss" cheese may be substituted, it's worth getting Gruyère for this one.)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Fried Rice with Greens

Before cooking, prepare Black and Red Rice (next recipe after this one). You will want the rice to be done before you actually start cooking this, or use leftover rice that you have in the refrigerator.

Prepare these ingredients before you start cooking:
  • One medium to large onion, chopped
  • 3-4 Tablespoons fresh ginger, chopped
  • 4-6 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 2-3 cups of coarsely chopped or torn greens. Beet greens, radish greens, mustard greens, bok choi, kale, swiss chard, or other similar greens all work well, and can be combined.
Put 3-4 Tablespoons of canola oil into a heated wok. Add the onion, and sauté until it gets soft, stirring frequently. Add the ginger and garlic, and stir-fry for another 2 minutes, continuing to stir so the garlic does not brown. Add the greens, and continue to stir-fry for another 2 minutes.

When the greens are wilted, add 2 cups (or more if desired) cooked rice. Continue to cook for another minute, then add:
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon (or lime) juice
  • 1 small hot pepper, chopped (including the seeds if you like it spicy, as we do)
  • 1 bunch of scallions, chopped (optional)
  • 2 Tablespoons cilantro, chopped (don't leave this out!)
Stir-fry for another minute, then add
  • 2 eggs
and immediately stir so the eggs are thoroughly mixed into the stir fry. Serve with 2 more Tablespoons of cilantro sprinkled on top.

Black and Red Rice

This has become our standard way to serve rice at home. Gavin loves the nutty flavor from the black and red rices, and once again is willing to eat rice without hesitation.
(Vegan)

Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a pot with a tight-fitting lid.
When it comes to a boil add
  • ¼ cup black rice
  • ¼ cup red rice
  • ½ cup brown rice
Return to a boil, then immediately turn the heat to simmer. Simmer 45 minutes with the lid on, then test to see that the rice is cooked. (If you have a glass cooking pot, it's ideal for keeping an eye to see that the rice is done, but does not burn.)

This recipe makes 2-2½ cups of cooked rice, and is easily multiplied for larger quantities. Our local international grocery store carries Black Glutinous Rice and Red Cargo Rice, both products of Thailand.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Chickpea salad

(Vegan)

Soak 2 cups of dried chickpeas for at least 8 hours. Drain and rinse, then boil in fresh water to cover for 30-45 minutes. Drain, and while still very hot add
½ cup of honey mustard marinade (see note below). Stir several times while the cooked chickpeas are cooling in the marinade.

Add
  • 2 roasted red peppers, chopped (marinated in vinegar is fine)
  • 1 fresh yellow sweet pepper, chopped
  • 2 cups corn kernels (canned or frozen is fine)
  • 1 bunch scallions, chopped
  • 2 small summer squash, chopped
  • salt & pepper to taste
Allow all the ingredients to sit in the marinate until at room temperature. Serve, or refrigerate and serve chilled.

When we finish with a container of prepared mustard (in our house, usually honey mustard), I add 3-4 Tablespoons of cider vinegar and shake vigorously to get the remaining mustard absorbed. Then I add a combination of vegetable oil and extra virgin olive oil to make a vinaigrette for salad dressing, and keep it in the refrigerator to use as wanted. It's the perfect marinade for this recipe.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Olive Tapenade

(Vegan)

In a food processor, combine
  • 1½ cups pitted Kalamata olives
  • ½ cup dry oil-cured black olives
  • ½ cup pimiento-stuffed green olives
  • 1 marinated sweet red pepper
  • 3-4 cloves garlic
  • a sprinkle of pepper
As it blends, add extra virgin olive oil as needed to make a paste.

Serve as an appetizer with crackers, good bread, or vegetable pieces.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Crustless Carrot Pie

I made this for a church potluck, so that I'd be sure to have at least one dish to eat. It vanished quickly. Gavin tried a taste, and said he didn't expect to like it, but now he wants me to make it again.

The carrots can be cooked a day in advance and refrigerated until you're ready to assemble the pie, though that will add a few minutes to the baking time at 350
°.

In a ten inch cast iron skillet, sauté in 2-3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium chopped onions
  • about a pound of sliced carrots (in pieces about 1/8 inch think). You want the carrots to fill the skillet with enough room to comfortably stir the contents as they cook.
  • 2-3 Tablespoons dried dill weed
When the onions are soft and the carrots are cooking, sprinkle in a Tablespoon of flour. Stir to coat the carrots. Cook until the carrots yield easily to an inserted fork. (If you are not using a cast iron skillet, you may add a teaspoon or so of water to prevent the carrots from sticking.)

In a separate bowl, mix
  • 2 beaten eggs
  • 16 oz. cottage cheese
  • 8 oz. sour cream
Add the carrots to the mixture, and season with salt and pepper.

Pour into a pie pan, and put in a 375° F. oven for 15 minutes. Turn the temperature down to 350° F., and briefly remove the pan. Sprinkle on 3 tablespoons of bread crumbs, lightly dust with Pimentón de la Vera (Spanish smoked paprika), and return to the oven for 20 minutes, or until a knife comes out clean from the custard.

It's worth the trouble to find Pimentón de la Vera. I get it from Penzey's Spices (we're lucky enough to have a local store, but they are also a great mail order source.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Gavin's Spinach Salad

Another recipe asked for in specific detail by Gavin this fall. Simple but elegant.

  • Clean and tear fresh spinach leaves on a plate or in a bowl.
  • Take 4 Tablespoons of fresh chèvre (or fresh chèvre with herbs) and crumble over the spinach.
  • Sprinkle on cooked beet in ½" diced pieces.
  • Sprinkle on 3-4 Tablespoons of dried cranberries.
  • Lightly season with honey mustard vinaigrette.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Blue Cheese Polenta with Spinach, Mushrooms and Onions

I made this up when our first shares from the new CSA we joined included spinach among the many fine greens. Laurel and Gavin immediately insisted I make it again right away. If you like, you can make extra polenta and pour it into a bread loaf pan where it will get more solid. Slices of baked polenta are another marvelous form of this dish. (Vegan)

New Roots Urban Farm decided this year to change direction and focus on local farmers markets instead of having shareholders. Alas for us, but they are wonderful folks and we wish them every success. We have now joined the Community Supported Garden at La Vista, where a very few shares are still available for this season.


For the sauce:
In a large saucepan, sauté
  • 2 chopped Vidalia (or other sweet) onions
  • 1 lb. mushroom, coarsely chopped
  • 1 lb. spinach, de-stemmed and thoroughly washed.
Simmer until there is little liquid left.

Meanwhile, for the polenta:
Boil 4 cups of water. When it is at a rolling boil, add a sprinkling of salt and slowly pour in 2 cups of cornmeal, briskly whisking while pouring so no lumps form. Continue to whisk frequently until the cornmeal is well cooked, about 20 minutes. (Add more water if necessary.) Finally, add about 4 ounces crumbled blue cheese (Danish Blue works well), and stir into the polenta.

Serve immediately topped by the vegetable sauce.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Chili

In a large saucepan, sauté
  • 2 chopped onions
  • 1 medium eggplant, chopped (ok to leave the skin on)
  • 1 chopped sweet pepper
When the onion and pepper are soft, add
  • 2 cups tomatoes (chopped or crushed)
  • 2 cups cooked white beans
  • 2 cups cooked chick peas
  • ½ cup green chilis
  • 1 Tablespoon basil pesto (or dried sweet basil)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 3 teaspoons chili powder
  • 6 oz. tomato paste
Simmer until the eggplant is very tender and the flavors are blended, about 30 minutes.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Red Lentil - Sweet Potato Soup

In a large soup pot, heat 2-3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil. When the oil is hot, add 2 chopped large onions, and sauté until the onions are soft. Add
  • 3 chopped sweet peppers (yellow worked well)
  • 1½ cups red lentils
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 4 diced carrots
  • 2 cups chopped tomatoes with their juice
  • 1-2 large sweet potatoes, chopped into ½" dice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 4-6 chopped cloves of garlic
Bring the soup to a boil, adding water as necessary. The lentils will absorb water, so you will want to stir until you have a sense of the thickness you want, without letting anything stick to the bottom of the pot. Reduce to a simmer, stirring occasionally for about 45 minutes.

Before serving, add and stir well to incorporate
  • ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2-3 Tablespoons vinegar
This soup benefits from sitting for a few hours or overnight so the flavors can mingle.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Sweet and Sour Sautéed Greens

In a wok, sauté two chopped onions in extra virgin olive oil until caramelized.

Add two bunches of greens, and continue cooking. (Greens like turnip or mustard should be added first, and allowed to cook until tender before adding others. Greens like chard and beets will cook more quickly.)

When the greens are wilted, add about a cup of chopped feta and ¼ cup dried cranberries. Cook 2 minutes more until the cheese and cranberries are warmed, and serve over brown rice.

Variation: Substitute chopped sun-dried tomatoes for the dried cranberries. If you prefer to steam the tomatoes first to reconstitute them, add after caramelizing the onions, before adding the greens.)

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Risotto Croquettes

Sometimes a good idea doesn't work. We liked the Risotto with Green Beans and Sun-Dried Tomatoes that I came up with, so I thought fresh local summer tomatoes would work too. Wrong. Or, at least, I couldn't get the moisture/risotto texture right. And of course, inspired by the abundance of tomatoes, I made a double batch. What to do?

Preheat the oven to 350° F.

Form the risotto into balls, adding additional cooked brown rice if desired. Roll the risotto balls into bowls (successively) of flour, beaten egg, and bread crumbs. Place on an oiled cooking sheet, and bake for about 40 minutes. (Check with a fork to see that the outside is crisp, but the inside appears still moist.)

Serve with your choice of sauce. Basil pesto s very nice.

That's what to do.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Chilled Cucumber Soup

Think cucumber gazpacho. We suddenly have had more cucumbers on hand than anticipated, and this is a nice way to use a fair quantity. If you're lucky, as we have been, to get cucumbers straight from the garden (or CSA share), there's no need to peel them. If they have come from the supermarket, though, peel first to remove the fine coating of wax that they have been sprayed with.

Trim the ends off 8 medium/large cucumbers, and cut in half lengthwise. Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds. Cut each half into 3-4 long strips. Cut the strips into piece a bit smaller than 1/2", and put into a large bowl or saucepan.

Add to the cucumbers
  • One quart of plain yogurt
  • 3 bell peppers (if ripened to yellow or red, all the better), seeded and chopped
  • a bunch of scallions, chopped
  • a bunch of chives, chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 generous Tablespoons dried dill
  • 4 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons wine vinegar
  • Salt
With a cup of cold water reserved on the side, use an immersion blender or food processor to liquefy the soup. Add water as needed to get the texture and consistency you want; I prefer to leave the cucumbers with some small chunks left, not completely liquefied.

Chill the soup for at least an hour before serving.

Serve topped with chopped toasted walnuts (but don't add them until serving, so they don't become soggy).

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Nancy's Potato Salad

This is the traditional potato salad Laurel's Mom makes for every family occasion in the summer. I tried to replicate it for the Fourth of July, and Laurel says yum.

Boil 6-8 pounds of whole small red potatoes until fork-tender, about 15 minutes. Cool in the cooking water. Quarter lengthwise, then cut each section into 3-6 pieces depending on size, with piece about 3/8" long. Place in a very large bowl.

Add
  • 1 large cucumber, halved, seeded and diced into small piece (about 1/4")
  • 6-8 scallions, cut into small rings (or 1 small red onion diced)
  • 6 hard boiled eggs, chopped
  • generous amounts of salt and pepper
Mix with mayonnaise until the whole salad is moist. Depending on the volume of potatoes, this might be as much as 2-3 cups of mayonnaise. (Plain yogurt can be substituted for up to 1/3 of the mayonnaise to reduce fat.)

Chill and serve, garnished with sprinkled paprika.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Vidalia-Asparagus Risotto with Beet Stock

When we get fresh beets as part of our CSA share, I rarely get to do anything with them, because they are eaten (by the others in the household!) as fast as I can cook them. And while I save the beet greens for other dishes, I also am sure to put the cooking water through a coffee filter and use for stock. This risotto is a great match for the stock.

In a sturdy 3 quart put, heat a Tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil on medium heat. Saut
é 2 chopped Vidalia onions and ½ pound asparagus spears, bottoms snapped off and cut into 1½" pieces. Continue to cook until the onions are tender.

Meanwhile, put about a quart of beet stock on to simmer on a burner nearby.

Add one cup of Arborio rice to the vegetables, and sauté for another minute. Begin adding the stock to the rice, ½ cup at a time, until the rice is tender. Stir continually as the stock is absorbed. The beautiful magenta color of the stock will fade as it cooks, alas, but the rich flavor does not diminish.

When ready, serve immediately and add grated cheese (we like Pecorino Romano) at the table.

A variation of this risosotto (when fresh asparagus is unavailable) substitutes mushrooms for theasparagus. In this case, cook until most of the liquid from the mushrooms is evaporated before adding the rice.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Cold Sesame Noodles

Cook one pound of thin spaghetti (or, even better, rice noodles) al dente, about 10 minutes, in water to which about a teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of vegetable have been added. Drain and leave in colander to cool. Toss lightly occasionally to prevent sticking.

In a small-to-medium bowl, mix
  • 2 Tablespoons thin soy sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons dark soy sauce
  • 3 Tablespoons cider vinegar
  • Tablespoons dark roasted sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 cup tahini paste
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup hot water
  • optional: 1-2 teaspoons chili paste
Stir to mix well, adding more water as necessary. (You may microwave the sauce to 30 seconds or so to aid mixing if desired.) When the sauce is smooth and can be stirred, add three minced garlic cloves.

Peel, halve lengthwise and seed a large cucumber. Cut into 1/4" strips, and then into 1/4" cubes. Cut a bunch of scallions into ringlets, about 3/4 cup. Put the pasta in a large bowl, and distribute the chopped cucumber and scallions throughout the pasta. Pour on the sauce, and mix well.

Chill and serve. This dish improves with a day or so in the refrigerator.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Ginger-garlic eggplant

Mollie Katzen has a marvelous recipe for Cold Gingered Asparagus that is a real Springtime treat in our house. When the asparagus is gone, though, the wonderful garlic-ginger marinade is left, and has seemed too good to simply toss. this recipe is so far the best use of it I've found. (Vegan)

After enjoying a batch of Cold Gingered Asparagus, reserve the marinade.

In a wok, heat 1/2 cup of the marinade, and saute two chopped onions. Add 4-6 cups of chopped eggplant with additional marinade until the eggplant is cooked and the marinade is evaporated.

Serve over rice.

Primavera cream sauce for pasta

Chop two medium onions, and sauté on medium-low heat in two Tablespoons of good olive oil, until the onions begin to caramelize.

Sprinkle on two Tablespoons flour, and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly.

Add one cup evaporated skim milk, a little at a time, until all the liquid thickens. (Add additional skim milk as necessary to keep the sauce from getting too thick.)

Turn the heat to low, and stirring frequently, add
  • a cup of frozen peas
  • half a pound of raw asparagus, tough bottoms snapped off and cut into 1" pieces
  • one marinated red pepper, rinsed and chopped
  • three peeled carrots, grated with the largest opening of a box grater
Continue to stir until the asparagus is cooked, about 3-5 minutes.

Serve over pasta (we liked this on cheese ravioli), and add grated Romano cheese to each serving.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Mushroom pesto sauce for pasta

We had this with Portobello mushroom ravioli that I bought at Costco; they are very flavorful, and next time I'll add some cheese ravioli to the mix as well.

In large skillet, sauté one large chopped onion until soft. Add one pound chopped mushrooms, sprinkle with salt, and continue to cook on medium-low heat until most of the liquid is evaporated.

Sprinkle the onions and mushrooms with one tablespoon flour, and stir, cooking, for about a minute. Slowly add 1-2 cups of skim milk, allowing it to thicken as you add it.

Stir in 2-3 generous tablespoons basil pesto, and serve over the pasta.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Gavin's Mushroom Ragout

When I unexpectedly scored six pounds of mushrooms for a dollar at the big farmer's market, dinner plans changed to accommodate. I asked Gavin if he would like to have something with mushrooms, and he dictated this recipe, pausing to ask if we had each ingredient. (vegan)

In large skillet, sauté one medium chopped onion until soft. Add half a pound coarsely chopped mushrooms and one chopped sweet bell pepper, and cook until the onion is getting caramelized and the mushrooms are quite soft. Sprinkle on about ½ teaspoon salt. Add ½ cup blanched chopped tomatoes, and continue cooking until the liquid is evaporated.

This simple recipe works well as a sauce over pasta or polenta, and is easily doubled or tripled.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Vegetable Stew with Eggplant and Pole Beans

Pole beans are new to us, but were part of our New Roots share this year. They look like normal green beans, but are nearly 2 feet long! If not available, green beans can be substituted. Eggplant and beans are a great combination, and the edamame adds protein. (vegan)

In a wok or 4 quart saucepan, sauté in 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 medium chopped onions
  • 5-6 chopped cloves garlic
  • a 1" piece of fresh ginger, peeled, sliced into rounds, and chopped.
When the onion is softened, add
  • 1-2 lbs. pole beans, ends trimmed and cut into 3-4" lengths
  • 6-8 Japanese eggplants, stem end trimmed and cut into 1-1½" pieces
  • 3 cups blanched chopped tomatoes
  • 1½-2 cups shelled edamame
  • 1 teaspoon salt
Stir for about a minute, then add 1½ cups of water. Simmer and continue to stir gently until the water evaporates and the eggplant is very tender when tested with a fork. (Add more water and continue to cook if the eggplant is not done.) Add 2 Tablespoons good soy sauce and stir before serving.

Blanched chopped tomatoes are a staple I try to keep in the freezer. Sometimes in the summer, I'll wind up with more tomatoes than I can use in time (particularly if I've hit a farmers' market at the end of the day, when quantities of vegetables can be had for deep discounts). I boil a large pot of water and drop the tomatoes in with a slotted spoon, boiling them just until their skins split. I then remove them with the slotted spoon to a colander, and when they've cooled enough to handle, slide off the skins. I'll then coarsely chop the tomatoes and freeze them in quart containers.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Hot Sauce

Because I really like hot sauce, I like to make my own. This version is thick, and barely flows (but only a little is needed for great flavor). (vegan)

In a food processor, fill the bowl about 2/3 full with the hot peppers you want to use, stems removed and chopped coarsely. Add to the bowl:
  • ½ a zested lemon (most of the peel removed), seeds removed, chopped coarsely
  • a handful of sweet basil leaves, chopped (or a generous tablespoon basil pesto)
  • a small chopped onion
  • a dash of Worcestershire sauce
  • a dash of vanilla extract
  • a tablespoon honey or sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 3-4 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3-4 Tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 3-4 chopped scallions
Blend the ingredients, adding cider vinegar as it blends until at the desired thickness. Makes about a pint.

If you have enough peppers to use only one variety, you can make sauces with subtle flavor differences. If I don't have enough of a single variety, I'll often try to at least use only red or green peppers in a batch. This year I made a batch of mixed red peppers (cayenne, habañeros and serranos) and one using only green jalapeños. I don't remove seeds, since that would decrease the hotness, but it's an option if one wants. Rather, I buzz the sauce in the food processor until the seeds are ground up as well. Latex gloves can be a wise option when handling hot peppers. Xanthan gum emulsifies the sauce, so that the liquid and solids don't separate (and it is much more effective with the addition of olive oil than without).

Monday, September 03, 2007

Gazpacho

There are many recipes for Gazpacho, but this one is a favorite. Most recipes would include a hot pepper (good idea!), but I have left it out here for the sake of the other palates in our home. I just add some homemade hot sauce to mine. (vegan)

Combine in a large bowl:
  • 4 large tomatoes, coarsely chopped
  • 20 Roma tomatoes, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cucumbers, peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • 2 red bell peppers, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • 1 bunch scallions, chopped
  • 1 handful sorrel (loosely packed, about a cup) coarsely chopped
  • 1 bunch parsley (loosely packed, about a cup) coarsely chopped
  • leaves from a large sprig of sweet basil coarsely chopped (loosely packed, about a cup)
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup wine vinegar & cider vinegar (combined, any proportion you like)
  • 1½ cups tomato juice
  • 2 bagels (plain, sun-dried tomato, or other savory variety), torn into small pieces
  • salt and pepper to taste
Mix with a spoon, and let sit 15 minutes or until the bagels have absorbed liquid. Then, using an immersion blender, or in batches in a food processor, blend until it has the consistency of a thick soup. Chill before serving.

Makes about a gallon, but it's astonishing how quickly it disappears.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

More Herb Pesto!

As I explore more herbs from New Roots, I'll post the recipes here, and keep this post updated.

I've already noted the Arugula Sorrel Pesto I came up with last year, but why stop there? Here are new and successful variations:

Cress Pesto. This is the first time I've seen this one; I love watercress, but haven't had easy access to that for years. This cress looks a little like cilantro, and grows in the earth, but tastes like its aquatic cousin. I put about 2-3 cups of leaves into the food processor, along with the usual 6-8 cloves garlic and ½-3/4 cup chopped walnuts, and followed the same steps as with the arugula-sorrel recipe, blending with good olive oil until its consistency is a paste (maybe ½ cup olive oil, or a bit more). It was great. Peppery-spicy, but I love that taste.

Cilantro Pesto. A very different taste when made into pesto, but if you like cilantro in general, this is a real treat. Same formula as for cress pesto.

As with the arugula-sorrel recipe, these pestos (pesti?) made with other herbs freeze well, and adding cheese really is completely optional.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Pok choi with blue cheese

Our first two shares from New Roots this year included beautiful heads of pok choi (which looks to me like bok choy, but I am assured it's a different variety). They work well in just about any stir fry, but here's a nice twist given that Vidalia onions are in season now too.

Heat 2-3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil in a wok. Add 2-4 chopped sweet onions (Vidalia is a great choice if available), depending on size. You want 3-4 cups onion total.

Cut the root end off the pok choi, clean the stems as necessary, and chop the stems up to where the dark green leaves begin to get substantial.

Sauté the onions and pok choi stems over high heat for about 5 minutes, then turn the heat down to medium and continue to cook until tender, stirring often, about another 10-12 minutes.

While they're cooking, chop the green leaves coarsely, and add when the onions and stems are tender. Sprinkle with salt, and stir frequently.

When the greens are completely wilted, add ½ to 3/4 cup crumbled blue cheese (Gorgonzola is great here). Continue to cook a few more minutes, until the cheese melts into the vegetables.

Serve over cooked rice, bulgur, or another grain you like.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Rice Salad

This is a great dish for a picnic.
Vegan.

Cook one cup of rice (proportions depend on the variety of rice, but generally two cups water to one cup rice; bring water to a boil, add rice, simmer until water is absorbed). Cool. The rice may be refrigerated in a covered container if you plan to make the salad later.

For the dressing, put a generous tablespoon basil pesto in a small bowl. Blend in ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil. Blend in about 1/8 cup lemon juice. Mix well with the rice (I use a 12 cup covered bowl).

Add ingredients as you like. A particularly well-received rice salad included
  • ½ cup snow peas (string removed, cut into ½ inch segments)
  • ½ cup green beans (ends removed, cut into ½ inch segments)
  • ½ pint grape tomatoes
  • ½ cup pitted Calamata olives
  • ¼ cup toasted sunflower seeds
  • 6 chopped scallion stalks
  • 1 cup cooked white beans*
Refrigerate until serving.

Before serving, sprinkle on ¼-½ cup toasted peanuts (so they don't absorb the dressing ahead of time. If available, garnish with flowers from chive plants. (The flowers are edible, and have a peppery taste.)

*When I cook white beans for salads, after soaking and rinsing them, I often use a cup or so of the liquid from Calamata olives, capers, marinated red peppers, or something similar as the liquid to cook the beans in, adding additional water as necessary for the cooking.

A note about scallions (some call them green onions): If you trim to slightly above the white part on the bottom, you may plant that stem end and the scallions will grow back. I continue to harvest them when they have grown 6-8 inches. In our garden, they survived the winter and continue to grow.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Simple Asparagus with Walnut Cream Sauce

I wanted to feature asparagus without disguising it, and this came to mind. I'll definitely make it again.

Toast about half a cup of walnuts in a dry cast iron skillet on low heat until they begin to brown a bit. Set aside in a dish or bowl.

Snap the tough bottom ends off one pound of asparagus. Steam lightly (3-5 minutes in boiling water then immediately plunged in cold water to set the color, or microwaved on high for 1-2 minutes on a plate with several tablespoons of water.)

Add 1 table spoon of extra virgin olive oil to that hot skillet, then add ¼ cup heavy cream. Heat gently so the cream heats through but doesn't curdle.

Spread washed and dried salad greens on a plate. (Red leaf lettuce works well here.) Arrange the asparagus on the greens, sprinkle the walnuts on the asparagus, and drizzle on the cream sauce. Sprinkly with Romano cheese to taste, and enjoy.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Potato-Eggplant Soup with Chickpeas

Sauté 2 medium chopped onions and 1 large chopped eggplant on medium heat for about 20 minutes. After about 10 minutes, sprinkle on a teaspoon of salt.

Add 2 teaspoons ground cumin, 2 teaspoons ground fennel seed, 6 cups water or stock, 2-3 cups of chopped potatoes (no need to peel them) and 2 chopped red peppers. (Marinated roasted peppers work fine.) Turn the heat to medium-low, and continue cooking for an hour.

Add 2-3 cups cooked chickpeas, and cook another 15 minutes. Add water if necessary, depending on how thick or thin you like soup. When the potatoes are easily split with a fork and the eggplant is tender, the soup is ready.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Risotto with Green Beans and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

We like risotti, and this is a delicious combination.

Trim about ½ pound of green beans, and cut into 1-1½ inch lengths, making about 2 cups. Cut sun-dried tomatoes into small pieces (½ or so pieces), for about ½ cup total.

Sauté the green beans in a dry cast iron skillet until they begin to brown. Remove from heat.

Heat a teaspoon or so of extra virgin olive oil in a 3 quart saucepan. Add two cups arborio rice, and turn the heat to low after a minute.

Begin adding vegetable stock, ½ cup at a time, and stir constantly with a wooden spoon until all the stock is absorbed. Continue until the rice is tender, about 12-14 cups of stock total. (I generally use a quart of stock that I had put away previously, and use water for the rest of the liquid.)

Serve with grated Parmesan or Romano cheese.

It's not difficult to keep vegetable stock on hand with a little planning. In the summer, when we get fresh carrots from New Roots, I cut the greens off immediately and put them in a large pot of water to boil. I boil the carrot greens in water until the volume is reduced by 2/3, then cool and freeze in one quart containers. Anytime I cook other vegetables and cooking water remains, that also gets frozen for later use as stock.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Risotto with Kabota Squash

We happened to get Kabota squash in our share from New Roots last summer, a new variety for us. I've used it in a variety of recipes and it's always good, but here it shines.

This works well with Delicata squash as well, though that doesn't need to be peeled. I suggest sautéing the squash until it begins to brown, then adding the onion. From there, the recipe is the same.

Halve and peel a Kabota squash. Cut into small (about ½ inch) cubes (you want about a 3/4 to a cup of squash for this recipe). Chop a medium size onion.

Sauté the squash and onion in a 2 quart saucepan with a little olive oil, until they are tender. Add one cup arborio rice, and turn the heat to low.

Begin adding vegetable stock, ½ cup at a time, and stir constantly with a wooden spoon until all the stock is absorbed. Continue until the rice is tender, about 7 cups of stock total. (I generally use a quart of stock that I had put away previously, and use water for the rest of the liquid.)

Serve with grated Parmesan or Romano cheese.

It's not difficult to keep vegetable stock on hand with a little planning. In the summer, when we get fresh carrots from New Roots, I cut the greens off immediately and put them in a large pot of water to boil. I boil the carrot greens in water until the volume is reduced by 2/3, the cool and freeze in one quart containers. Anytime I cook other vegetable and cooking water remains, that also gets frozen for later use as stock.

Summer Squash with Pesto

I was looking for another way to use the abundance of summer squash we got one week in our share from New Roots and this is what emerged.

In a shallow casserole dish, spread a single layer sliced summer squash of any variety. (My slices were about 3/8", 5 mm, thick. No need to oil the casserole for this recipe.) Spread several tablespoons of arugula-sorrel pesto (see recipe above) on the layer. Repeat. Top with a thin layer of bread crumbs, then a sprinkling of grated Parmesan or Romano cheese.

Bake at 350° F for about 20 minutes, until the cheese is slightly browned.

Variation: Sliced broccoli stalks can substitute for the squash. I made this with only broccoli and pesto, no bread crumbs or cheese, and it was very tasty.

Arugula-Sorrel Pesto

I made this up one summer day based on the yummy herbs in our weekly share from New Roots Urban Farm, community supported agriculture here in St. Louis.

In a food processor, combine
  • loosely packed arugula and sorrel leaves (at a proportion of about three parts arugula to one part sorrel)
  • 6-8 cloves garlic
  • ½-3/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • salt and pepper to taste;
blend with good olive oil until its consistency is a paste (maybe 1/2 cup olive oil, or a bit more).

As with other pestos, it freezes well. This is one pesto that needs no cheese when it is served, though you may prefer to sprinkle some grated Parmesan or Romano over it. It goes well over pasta.

(See also Summer Squash with Pesto for another use of this pesto.)

Basil Pesto

This is without question one of the staples of our household, a "comfort food." In the summer, we make pesto most weekends once sweet basil is available in July or so. By the time the first frost has ended the year's crop, we usually have over a gallon - 4 liters - of it, frozen in 8 ounce containers. So far, that gets us through until the next year.

In a food processor, combine
  • 4 cups loosely packed sweet basil leaves
  • 6-8 cloves garlic
  • ½-3/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • salt and pepper to taste;
blend with good olive oil until its consistency is a paste (maybe 1/2 cup olive oil, or a bit more).
We serve it or freeze it at this point, and eat it all year long.

Serve over any kind of pasta - spaghetti, fettucini, tortellini - whatever you like most.
Add lots of Parmesan or Romano cheese at the table.

But wait! Before you clean out that food processor, think about making a batch of hummus or baba ganouj in it. The basil et al. will give a subtle and delicious undertone to the next dish.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Hummus for May Gallery openings

I made hummus for the first May Gallery opening that I worked on. As the second was approaching, several people asked me if there'd be hummus again. Of course! Hummus at every opening! (There are several hummus variations on my original recipe page.)
(vegan)

Soak 3 cups of dry chickpeas overnight; drain, replace the water, and cook 20-30 minutes at a low boil.

Blend with
  • 6-8 garlic cloves (I've really toned down the garlic for public events, but I sometimes have misgivings about that)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 cup lemon juice
  • a 3" piece of ginger
  • ¼ cup good extra virgin olive oil
  • about ½ cup tahini
  • about 2-3 Tablespoons dark roasted sesame oil
When blending, add more lemon juice until it's at the consistency you like.

Serve with wedges of pita bread and fresh lemon. Makes about 2 liters.

*Tahini is a paste made of ground sesame seeds. It's readily available in jars and cans in health food stores and international groceries. I prefer to buy it in a jar, since it should be refrigerated after opening (and it will keep indefinitely if refrigerated). It will sometimes separate a bit (sesame oil will be floating on top of the jar or can), but is easily mixed together again.

Domodah (West African Groundnut Stew)

Groundnuts are what peanuts are called in English-speaking West Africa. Eggplant gives substance, but use whatever vegetables appeal to you. (Non-veggie versions of this dish often include chicken.) I was introduced to this delight by my friend t.d. when he visited me in NYC from The Gambia.
(vegan)

Heat ½- 3/4 cup canola oil in a large pot on medium high heat. Chop together and cook in the oil

  • 3 - 4 tomatoes
  • 2 large onions
  • 2 Tablespoons harissa* (or 2 fresh hot peppers or 1 teaspoon cayenne)

Add 1-2 cups tomato juice (or water), to make about 6 cups altogether. When it is beginning to simmer, add

  • 1½ - 1 3/4 cups good peanut butter
  • 2 Tablespoons tomato paste (only if not using harissa, above).

Turn the heat to low, and keep cooking.

When it's been simmering for a while, add

  • 1 eggplant, cut into small cubes
  • and other vegetables you might like, such as yams, potatoes, green beans, squash of any variety, etc.

Continue cooking until the vegetables are tender. Serve on a bed of cooked rice or other grain.

*Harissa is a wonderful paste of hot peppers, tomatoes and spices used widely in Francophone northern Africa. Though it isn't traditionally used in this west African dish -- fresh hot peppers are the most authentic ingredient -- I think it gives a wonderful accent. If you can find harissa in a tube, it will keep indefinitely in the refrigerator. If you get the canned version, it is much safer to freeze any amount that won't be used within a few days.

Banana pancakes

When bananas get too ripe, I put them in a container in the freezer for a weekend morning when Laurel and Gavin are in the mood for pancakes. Freezing the bananas breaks down their cell membranes, so that they really mix well in a batter.

Mix in a large bowl
  • 2 cups flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
In a smaller bowl, mix
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups mashed (very ripe) bananas (defrost in a microwave if necessary)
  • 2 Tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 cup nonfat skim milk
Preheat a frying pan. (I use a 10"/25 cm cast iron skillet. On our GE electric smoothtop range, I start with a setting of 6, but turn that down to 3 after cooking the first batch of pancakes.)

Pour the liquid mixture into the dry mixture and beat well. Add more milk, until the batter is at the consistency you desire. (That will usually be another ½ cup for me.)

Put enough oil in the pan to lightly coat, then put in about ½ cup of batter for each pancake. Flip them as soon as lots of air bubbles appear in the batter. (Check if you're not sure, so as not to burn the side that's cooking!)

Put a small pat of butter on each as you stack them, and serve hot. Drizzle about ½ teaspoon of real maple syrup on each before eating.

Makes 12-15 pancakes.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Gavin's tofu mushroom scallion pizza

At the age of 5 in 2002, Gavin asked for this in specific detail, even though I'd never made anything like it before. But it's delicious, and he continues to ask for it. His first original recipe! In July 2005, it was featured on Zorba Paster on your Health on Public Radio International!

Sauté in a teaspoon or so of canola oil
  • 3-4 sliced mushrooms
  • some firm drained tofu cut in 3/8" cubes (slice a 3/8" slice off the end of a block of tofu and dice it)
  • one scallion ("Only the green part; you keep the white part.") or 6-8 chives, chopped.

On a 6" round of pita bread,

  • spread a teaspoon or two of basil pesto
  • sprinkle shredded mozzarella cheese to cover.

Spread the sautéed mixture on top of the pizza base, and broil on a pizza stone in the oven at 325° Fahrenheit until lightly browned (around 10 minutes).

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Stuffed baked sweet potatoes

This has become a regular in our household, and was born of what was at hand one evening. What was at hand included a bunch of broccoli, and I was thinking about something that might actually use the stems. It worked. And while you can certainly add the broccoli florets here, they aren't necessary at all, so you might want to save them for another dish.
Vegan
  • Bake (or microwave) large (about 5-6 inches long, 3 inches in diameter are ideal) sweet potatoes ahead of time. I'll usually do two or three at a time in the microwave for 10 minutes on high, then turn them over and repeat until tender. Set aside to cool. (Splitting them in half laterally will accelerate that a bit.)
  • Sauté a large chopped onion with the chopped stems of a bunch of broccoli until both are tender.
  • Preheat an oven to 350º F.
  • Scoop out most of the flesh of the sweet potato into a bowl, and mix with the onion and broccoli. Spoon it back into the shells of the sweet potato skins, and place on a lightly greased pan.
  • Bake for 20 minutes, or until the tops are just slightly browned.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Stir-fried sweet potatoes with broccoli and onions

The sweet potatoes we got as part of our share at New Roots Urban Farm this year were fairly small, and irregularly shaped. As I puzzled what to do with them, I came up with this variant of the stuffed sweet potatoes that I first made about a year ago.
Vegan


In a wok, heat 3 Tablespoons of oil on high heat.
  • Add 3-4 cups thinly sliced (about ¼ inch thick) sweet potatoes, and halve or quarter the slices if the potato is more than an inch in diameter.
  • Add the stems from a large bunch of broccoli, thinly sliced. Reserve the florets. Cook, stirring frequently until the sweet potatoes and broccoli stems begin to get tender.
  • Add 2 teaspoons ginger powder and 1 teaspoon salt, and stir well,
  • Add 3 onions, halved and thinly sliced. When the onion begins to get soft,
  • Add the broccoli florets, broken into small pieces.
When the sweet potatoes are very tender, serve.

What we're doing here

Laurel and Gavin have said I should write a cookbook, and maybe some year when I'm on sabbatical I'll think about that. I started posting recipes on a plain vanilla web page elsewhere, but this is just such an easier tool that I will probably move them over here. In the meantime, there's a link in the sidebar to the existing page.

I've been a vegetarian since 1976, when I decided to give up meat for a month, having recently become aware of how much grain is fed to cattle in the United States. To my surprise, I liked it so much that I haven't gone back. Besides, for me it feels like a gentler way of living, another way to try to grow in nonviolence.

So, these recipes are all (ovo lacto) vegetarian, and a good number are vegan.