Archive for the ‘Vegetables’ Category

Add Some Salt When You Make This!

Thursday, May 14th, 2015

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I have actually posted the recipe that goes with the video below (for Sautéed Dandelion Greens) elsewhere on this blog. I thought it might entertain readers to see me back in action on TV cooking, however, so I’m posting the video here.

And I KNEW you would all want to see my new hat!

After we finished recording the segment I took a taste of the dandelions and found them unappetizing, which seemed very odd since I usually like them a lot. I then realized that in my haste to get the dish finished (and in my preoccupation with talking and talking and talking) I had forgotten to salt it.

I threw just a little salt on top, and the greens were delicious.

I promise a NEW recipe when I go back on the show Mass Appeal in two weeks. Meanwhile, happy spring to all……

Betsy’s Herbed Zucchini Soup

Monday, August 4th, 2014

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Zucchini has arrived in these parts. This squash is much maligned because it tends to overwhelm gardeners before they can finish uttering the word “zucchini.” I have a couple of suggestions to help readers embrace zucchini and avoid feelings of inadequacy.

First, when you are doing your spring planting, don’t feel obliged to place an entire six pack of zucchini seedlings in your vegetable patch. A plant or two will do nicely. Zucchini is a friendly neighbor that likes to wander all over the garden, and it CAN take over.

Next (this is the part at which I am bad), once the zucchini gets going check it every single day and pick ruthlessly. You want delicate squash, not baseball bats.

If you do end up with giant zucchini, do what my neighbors Susan and Peter Purdy did a few years back and throw a Zucchinipalooza party. Everyone in the neighborhood brought zucchini-related foods, and we played games. Large zucchini were literally used as bats in a ball game. Strangely shaped squashes were placed in a tub for bobbing. And so on.

Finally, in addition to throwing zucchini into lots of different dishes—stir fries, soups, stews—look for zucchini recipes you can make and freeze. In a very few months, you’ll be missing this vegetable and longing for a taste of summer.

The recipe here, from my friend and former babysitter Betsy Kovacs, is eminently freezable. It’s also great fresh (hot or cold); it positively bursts with flavor.

If you don’t have the exact proportions of ingredients listed below, go with what you have. With more zucchini it will be thicker; with more stock, thinner. With more herbs it will just taste more summery.

As you can see from the video below, I made it recently on Mass Appeal. It comes together very quickly so it’s perfect for a TV appearance—or for a summer day.

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The Soup

Ingredients:

1 to 2 medium onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup olive oil
2 pounds zucchini, with stems removed, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon salt
4 cups water or stock (chicken or vegetable, depending on your taste)
1 handful basil leaves, tightly packed—or dill or parsley; your herb of choice
salt and pepper to taste
a little half and half, sour cream, or yogurt (optional)

Instructions:

In a 4-quart Dutch oven cook the onion and garlic in the oil over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until they soften, about 5 minutes.

Add the chopped zucchini and the teaspoon of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 more minutes. Add the water or broth plus the herbs. Simmer the soup, partially covered, until it is tender, about 15 minutes.

Purée the soup in a blender or food processor. Remember to use caution with the hot soup; you will want to process it in batches to avoid eruptions.

Add salt and pepper to taste. Adding a little half and half to the soup or serving it with a dollop of sour cream or yogurt can give it a bit more depth. Or you may prefer leaving it as is to let the zucchini and herbs shine. Serves 4 to 6.

Florette’s Rhubarb Tea

Thursday, May 29th, 2014

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This recipe appears in my Pudding Hollow Cookbook. (If you don’t have the book, feel free to order it!)

I had forgotten about the tea until last week when I was pondering what to prepare on my next segment on the show Mass Appeal. It was a hit with friends when I made it a few days ago—and it was a hit yesterday when I made it on the show. (See video below.) It is lovely to look at and refreshing to drink.

In case you skip over the recipe and go straight to the video, be aware that I made rhubarb crumble first! And … you should know that I forgot to mention on the air that one should cover the raw rhubarb with water BEFORE cooking it for the tea; otherwise the rhubarb will burn long before it simmers! (One does get a little carried away on live TV, but one is learning.)

The recipe originally came from my neighbor Florette, who is mentioned in the video. I have written here before about Florette. She was glamorous, eccentric, and occasionally maddening. She taught me a lot about rhubarb and a lot about life, and I’m grateful for those lessons.

The Tea

Ingredients:

for the rhubarb juice:

2 pounds rhubarb stalks chopped (about 6 cups)
3 cups water
1 pinch salt

for the sugar syrup:
2 cups water
3/4 cup sugar

for assembly:
1 quart strong black tea

Instructions:

In a stainless steel or enamel saucepan, cook the rhubarb in water, partially covered, over moderately low heat for 10 to 12 minutes or until tender. Stir gently occasionally to keep from boiling. Cool slightly. Drain the rhubarb in a sieve placed over a bowl and discard the pulp, reserving the liquid. Add the salt.

In another saucepan, combine the ingredients for the sugar syrup. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring and brushing the sugar crystals from the sides of the pan until the sugar is dissolved. Cook the syrup for 5 minutes, undisturbed, over moderate heat and let it cool.

To make rhubarb tea, combine 2 parts black tea, 1 part rhubarb juice, and 1 part sugar syrup. (You may change these proportions slightly according to your taste.) Serve in a tall glass over ice. As indicated, 4 cups tea, 2 cups rhubarb juice, and 2 cups sugar syrup make 2 quarts of rhubarb tea.

Store any leftover juice or syrup in the refrigerator. If you need a double amount of sugar syrup, make 2 separate batches.

And now the video:

If you’d like to see the quick asparagus dish I made yesterday before the rhubarb (one always eats one’s vegetables BEFORE dessert), here’s that video as well:

Warm Beet Salad

Monday, April 7th, 2014

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I know beets haven’t arrived in farm stands yet—but I’m looking forward to them! Here is a very fattening but a very fun, delectable, and showy way to use this colorful vegetable.

The recipe comes from my dear friend Michael Collins, the chef at the now closed Green Emporium in Colrain, Massachusetts. Michael and his partner Tony Palumbo are hoping to open a new Mexican restaurant, Mi Vida Loca, in nearby Shelburne Falls soon. I can’t wait to eat there—and I’m hoping the new eatery will have room for a piano so I can perform!

If you have high-speed internet, you can watch Michael prepare the beets with a little help from me by clicking “play” on the video below the recipe.

Just in case you can’t watch videos (I can’t at home in Massachusetts!), I have provided the recipe.

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Ingredients:

3 small beets
a small handful of pine nuts
a small, flat bowl lined with all-purpose flower
1 egg
panko bread crumbs as needed
olive oil as needed for light frying
a bed of red-leaf lettuce
a few tablespoons fresh, soft goat cheese
the juice of 1/2 lemon
freshly ground pepper
fresh chives to taste

Instructions:

Quickly wash the beets and immerse them in boiling, salted water. Return the water to a boil, turn it down, and simmer the beets until they are fork tender (about 40 minutes). Drain the beets, rinse them in cold water, and quickly remove their skins and ends. If you wish, you may do this first step early in the day and finish preparing the salad just before you want to serve it.

When you are almost ready to serve the salad, toast the pine nuts in a small iron skillet until they start to smell lovely and begin to brown. Remove them from the pan and set them aside.

Place the flour in one bowl, the egg in a second bowl, and the panko crumbs in a third bowl. Add a small amount of water to the egg, and whisk the egg and water together.

Slice each beet into four slices. Dip the beet pieces first in the flour, then in the egg mixture, and finally in the crumbs.

Pour oil into a 10-inch skillet (enough to cover the bottom). Heat the oil over medium heat. When it is hot, add the breaded pieces of beet and cook them quickly until they are golden brown, turning once. (This will take less than 5 minutes.)

Place the lettuce on a plate, and arrange the fried beet pieces on top. Top each beet with a small amount of cheese; then squeeze lemon juice over all. Sprinkle pepper and freshly cut chives on top of the salad.

Serves 2 elegantly.

Souper Bowl of Dip (with Chips!)

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014

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I have a confession to make. I have always had a weakness for dip made with packaged onion-soup mix. When I was little and my mother made it (very occasionally, I must add) it seemed like a miracle that all that flavor could come out of one small package stirred into some sour cream.

As a grownup I’m more skeptical about packaged foods than I was as a child, when they were a novelty. And I have to shudder when I read the side of an onion-soup package. I don’t really think a creamy dip needs things like partially hydrogenated soybean oil, caramel color, corn syrup, and disodium inosinate. I don’t know what that last item is—and neither does my computer’s spelling program—but I’m pretty sure it’s not what one could call a food, let alone a healthy food.

I do still love onion dip, however. And it’s an easy, tasty snack for the Big Game—or the “Superb Owl,” as The Colbert Report calls it since the NFL threatens to sue anyone else who uses the official terminology.

As this football event approaches I am concocting a more natural version of my childhood guilty pleasure. This dip starts with the base my mother used for her cordon bleu French onion soup—caramelized onions, mustard, and wine. She used red wine, but I was darned if I was going to open a bottle of wine for the minuscule amount I wanted so I used sherry. If you feel like drinking red wine, by all means substitute it for the sherry.

I can see adding additional ingredients another time—a little Creole seasoning for kick, some herbs (parsley? dill? thyme?), and/or a few drops of Worcestershire sauce. On Sunday as I watch the Broncos and the Seahawks battle it out, however, I plan to serve it just as it is below. This onion-dip recipe takes a little more time than the package-based version, but it’s by no means difficult. The resulting spread tastes fresh yet mellow, and highly satisfying—like French onion soup on a chip.

It tastes best with homemade vegetable chips. We made sweet-potato chips yesterday. I won’t tell the Culinary Recording Angel if you go out and buy some, however.

Mustard is added to caramelizing onions.

Mustard is added to caramelizing onions.

French Onion Dip

Ingredients:

2 teaspoons butter
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 large onions, cut into thin slices (my slices could have been thinner!), with each slice cut in half
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard (I used mustard with a little garlic, which lent a lovely flavor)
1 tablespoon dry sherry
salt and pepper to taste (I used about 3/4 teaspoon sea salt and three grinds of the pepper mill)
1-1/2 cups sour cream (half of this could be Greek yogurt if you want to be healthier)

Instructions:

The dip is best prepared early in the day or the night before you wish to serve it. It needs time in the refrigerator to let its flavors blend and mature.

Combine the butter and olive oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. When the butter melts stir in the onion slices. Cook them slowly, stirring every 5 minutes or so, until they are reduced and turn a lovely golden brown. This will take at least 1/2 hour and may take as long as an hour.

When the onions are almost ready stir in the mustard, and continue to cook, stirring, for at least five minutes. Add the sherry and cook, stirring, until the liquid disappears.

Sprinkle salt and pepper over the onions and remove them from the heat. Allow them to cool to room temperature. If you want to avoid having strings of onion in your dip, chop them a bit once they have cooled.

Put the onions and sour cream in the bowl of an electric mixer and stir briskly to combine.

Place the dip in the refrigerator, covered, and let the flavors combine for several hours. At least an hour before serving taste it on a neutral cracker to see whether you want to add any additional flavors (more salt and pepper perhaps?). Bring the dip to room temperature, and serve it with vegetable chips.

Makes about 2 cups.

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Cold-Oil Sweet Potato Chips

My sister-in-law Leigh and I actually made two kinds of chips to go with our test dip—one batch fried and one batch baked. HOWEVER, I’m only giving you the recipe for the fried batch because we were so busy eating the fried chips (they were AWFULLY tasty) that I forgot to time the baked ones. They are obviously healthier than the fried version.

I’ll tell you how we did the baked ones, but I won’t officially publish the recipe until I make them again! Basically, one slices the sweet potatoes just as one does below for the fried chips. One combines extra-virgin olive oil (about 1 tablespoon) and sea salt (about 1/2 teaspoon) in a bowl; then one stirs in the slices of sweet potato until all are coated with a tiny bit of oil. The slices go on cookie sheets in a preheated oven (325-ish) until they finish cooking; I THINK this is about half an hour. One should stir/turn the potatoes after 10 minutes and check on them frequently.

Now for the FRIED version. Leigh has a mandoline slicer, which made creating the chips a breeze. I got the idea for cold-oil frying the chips from my friend Devany Vickery-Davidson in Charleston, South Carolina. Apparently, cold-oil frying is very chic, but I had never heard of it until Devany wrote about making French fries this way. It is less messy than hot-oil frying and a lot simpler.

Leigh works her mandoline magic.

Leigh works her mandoline magic.

The Chips

Ingredients:

1 sweet potato, peeled and sliced thinly
canola oil at room temperature as needed
sea salt as needed

Instructions:

Place the pieces of sweet potato in a deep, heavy skillet or saucepan. Spread them out as much as you can. Cover them with oil; then add a little more oil. Place the pan on medium heat. Stay by the stove.

In a few minutes the oil will begin to bubble. Stir the potato pieces a bit and keep heating them. As the potatoes cook stir them every minute or two to keep them from sticking together—and to monitor them. In a very few minutes they will brown and crisp up very quickly.

Use a skimmer or tongs to remove the chips from the oil. (Don’t forget to turn off the stove!) Drain them on paper towels, and sprinkle salt on top.

Let the chips cool for a couple of minutes; then serve them with dip. Makes about 20 chips. (The number depends on the thickness of your slicing.)

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