Archive for the ‘Vegetables’ Category

The Charm of Chickpeas

Thursday, June 11th, 2015
Garbo in "Anna Christie," the film that was marketed using the slogan "Garbo Talks!"

Greta Garbo in “Anna Christie,” the film that was marketed using the slogan “Garbo Talks!”

I almost named this post “Garbanzo Talks!” The title was suggested by my clever friend Peter who knows how much I love film history. Since not everyone is a film buff, however, I succumbed to “the charm of chickpeas.”

My sister-in-law Leigh and I are currently doing a nutritional cleanse called Isagenix. We drink shakes provided by the company for breakfast and lunch but prepare snacks and dinner ourselves. Naturally, we want to make the yummiest food possible in order to keep ourselves from feeling deprived.

The chickpea dishes here are favorites among Isagenix users and are so tasty that I decided to prepare them on my TV spot yesterday on the program Mass Appeal. They made everyone in the television studio happy.

I first learned to love chickpeas when I was a child living in India. They respond beautifully to spices and are also used to make gram flour, a staple of Indian cuisine used (among other things) in pakoras, wonderful vegetable fritters.

I can’t eat pakoras while cleansing, but I did put Indian spices on my roasted chickpeas.

Thanks to Cuisinart for the mini-food processor that made the hummus a dream, and to Lodge for my wonderful pre-seasoned cast-iron pan.

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Roasted Chickpeas

Ingredients:

1-3/4 cups cooked chickpeas (1 15-ounce can if you want convenience)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 small clove garlic, finely minced
1 teaspoon salt (if you want lower salt, start with 1/2 teaspoon and adjust later)
1 teaspoon ground cumin (roasted if you can find it)
1/2 teaspoon curry powder

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Rinse the chickpeas thoroughly and then drain them well; then lay them between layers of dishtowels or paper towels to dry even more. If you have time, leave them to dry for a while longer, even overnight.

Place a cast-iron skillet large enough to hold the chickpeas in a single layer on the stove. (A 12-inch skillet is ideal.)

Heat the pan; then add the olive oil. When the oil is heated, stir in the garlic, drained chickpeas, and salt. Remove the pan from the heat and make sure that the contents are well mixed; then place the pan in the oven.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring the chickpeas at the 10 and 20-minute marks. Be careful to avoid burning toward the end.

Remove the chickpeas from the oven, and toss in the spices. Place the spiced chickpeas on paper towels to cool slightly; then eat them.

If you don’t eat the chickpeas right away, they will lose their crunch, but they will still be tasty and nutritious. You may crisp them again in a 350-degree oven for 10 to 15 minutes if you wish.

Makes about 1-1/2 cups.

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Hummus without Tahini

Ingredients:

1-3/4 cups cooked chickpeas (1 15-ounce can if you want convenience)
1 large clove garlic, finely chopped or pressed through a garlic press
the juice of 1 lemon
1 heaping teaspoon almond butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt to taste
spices to taste—consider smoked paprika and/or cumin

Instructions:

Place the ingredients in a small food processor and blend. (You may have to stop and stir them halfway through.) Taste to see whether the flavors please you, and adjust them if you they don’t. Try adding a little chili powder for extra spice.

Refrigerate for 1 hour before eating with veggies or tortilla chips. If you can’t wait, it will still taste yummy.

Makes about 1-1/2 cups hummus.

And now the video. Please note that Ashley Kohl was a little overgenerous with the olive oil in the hummus. It was delicious but not terribly cleanse-ing….

Add Some Salt When You Make This!

Thursday, May 14th, 2015

newhat web

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

zucchini basil soup web

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

teaweb

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

beet saladweb

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.

beetsweb

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.