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Showing posts with label side dish. Show all posts
Showing posts with label side dish. Show all posts

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Roasted Winter Vegetables Brighten Up Any Meal

At holidays,  delicious hams, turkeys and roast meats take center stage at the table. A bone in ham, crusted on the outside with brown sugar and spices, turns sweet on the inside after a generous amount of oven roasting. Turkeys, basted and browned, arrive at the table warm, moist, sliced and ready to eat. As much as I love those entrees, what brings a meal to perfection are the side dishes.
Infinitely variable, side dishes range from steamed rice, which goes with just about anything, to spicy kimchi flavored vegetables. For Sunday dinner I like to keep the sides simple.

Today I made two dishes that I really enjoyed. Roasted Brussels sprouts, sliced thin and tossed with yellow onions, dressed with olive oil and seasoned with sea salt and black pepper come out of the oven tender in the center and crisp on the edges. The same technique worked well with green cabbage, sliced like slaw, thin and long, tossed with onions and dressed the same as the Brussels sprouts.

Served separately, they were joined on the plate with a roast chicken with crispy skin and soft, sweet meat. If umami exists in a single dish, the chicken with its two sides was umami on a plate.

Easy to prepare and delicious, the sides are perfect for an Easter lunch, Christmas dinner or any meal in between.

Roasted Shredded Brussels Sprouts

Use any size sprouts available in a farmers market. I was lucky enough to find large ones that were easy to slice. Besides trimming off the end of the stem, also peel away and discard any of the outer leaves that have yellowed.

Serves 4

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 60 minutes

Total time: 70 minutes

Ingredients

2 pounds Brussels sprouts, washed, trimmed
1 medium yellow onion, root end and outer skin removed, washed
2 tablespoons olive oil
Sea salt to taste
Black pepper, freshly ground, to taste

Directions

Pre-heat the oven to 400 F.

Line a large roasting pan with a Silpat sheet or parchment paper.

Using a sharp chefs knife, slice the Brussels sprouts and onion lengthwise as thin as possible.

Place the shredded Brussels sprouts and onion slices in a mixing bowl, drizzle with olive oil and season with sea salt  and black pepper. Toss well.
Spread out on the lined roasting pan. As much as possible, do not let the Brussels sprouts overlap. They are more likely to crisp if they do not cover one another.

Place in the oven. After 30 minutes, use metal tongs to turn over the Brussels sprouts and return to the oven.

When they are crisp along the edges but not dried out, remove from the oven and place in a bowl.

Serve hot.

Roasted Green Cabbage Slaw

At the farmers market, select a cabbage that is firm and about 6-8" in diameter.
Serves 4

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 60 minutes

Total time: 70 minutes

Ingredients

1 green cabbage head washed, yellowed outer leaves removed
1 medium yellow onion, washed, root end and outer skin removed
2 tablespoons olive oil
Sea salt to taste
Black pepper, freshly ground, to taste

Directions

Pre-heat the oven to 400 F.

Line a large roasting pan with a Silpat sheet or parchment paper.
Using a sharp chefs knife, cut the cabbage head in half lengthwise. Using a paring knife, make a triangular cut at the bottom of the cabbage to remove the thick stem at the bottom. Save to use in soup or discard.

Place each half of the cabbage flat side down on a cutting board. Using the chefs knife, make very thin slices, cutting from the top to the bottom until you have shredded both halves of the cabbage.
Slice the onion in the same manner.

Place the shredded cabbage and sliced onion into a large mixing bowl, drizzle with olive oil and season with sea salt  and black pepper. Toss well.

Spread out on the lined roasting pan. As much as possible, do not let the cabbage slices overlap. The cabbage and onions are more likely to crisp if they do not cover one another.

Place in the oven. After 30 minutes, use metal tongs to toss the cabbage and onions. Return to the oven.
When the cabbage slices and onions are crisp along the edges but not dried out, remove from the oven and place in a bowl.

Serve hot.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Garlic Sautéed Yellow Squash and Carrots

In summers past, I grew yellow squash with great success. The plants spread to every inch of the garden, threatening to overwhelm tomato plants, the herb garden and a small patch of arugula.
After the vines firmly established themselves, the long, fat squash seemed to appear overnight. What to do with all those squash?

A neighbor saved the day. She loved squash blossoms. She would nip the problem in the bud, so to speak, by picking blossoms before the squash could appear.

Ultimately our best solution was avoidance. We stopped planting squash. Problem solved.

But I missed squash's pleasant crunch and clean flavor. Last week we were gifted with a basket of zucchini and yellow squash from our next-door neighbor's front yard garden. Picked while they were young, before they became watery, the zucchini and squash were unblemished, firm and the picture of health.

There were a great number of ways to prepare such perfect specimens. They could be steamed, grilled or even eaten raw in thin slices or grated. Because I had a beautiful bone in ribeye steak, I decided to sauté them with garlic to use as a side dish.

Sautéing would caramelize and bring out their hidden sweetness. Combined with carrot rounds, the color and texture contrast would add to the pleasures of the dish.

Steak never had such a pleasant companion.

Garlic Sautéed Squash and Carrot Rounds


Time: 30 minutes.

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients


4 medium sized yellow squash, washed, ends trimmed, cut into 1/4" thick rounds
4 medium sized carrots, washed, peeled, ends trimmed, cut into 1/4" thick rounds
1 small yellow onion, skins and root end removed, washed, roughly chopped
4 garlic cloves, skins and root ends removed, finely chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon sweet butter
Sea salt and black pepper

Directions


Heat a large frying or chef's plan with olive oil, seasoned with sea salt and pepper.  Add onions and garlic. Sauté until lightly browned. Add yellow squash and carrots. Sauté until lightly browned. Finish with sweet butter.

Taste and adjust seasoning with sea salt and pepper. Serve hot.

Variations


Dust with 1/4 teaspoon cayenne for heat.

With the carrots and squash, add 1/2 cut washed, trimmed green beans, cut into 1/2" long pieces.

With the onions and garlic, add 1 tablespoon washed, trimmed shiitake mushrooms, roughly chopped.

Once all the vegetables are cooked, add 2 cups cooked pasta, toss, dust with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and serve as a side or main dish.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Asparagus Stalks Memorial Day Picnics

Burgers, hot dogs, potato salad, cole slaw and fresh fruit salads are Memorial Day classics. I look forward to those favorites but to keep them interesting, it's good to add something new and a little unexpected.
When I was growing up, asparagus was one of the fancy vegetables. Carrots, corn and broccoli were the everyday vegetables. Asparagus was saved for special occasions. These days asparagus is affordable, easy-to-prepare and versatile.

Right now asparagus is plentiful in farmers markets. Nutritious, delicious and loaded with healthy minerals, asparagus can be enjoyed raw or cooked, as a salad or a side dish to add zest to a backyard barbecue or afternoon lunch.

Raw Asparagus Salad
Look for small to medium sized stalks that are firm and without blemish or shrivel-marks.

Serves 4

Ingredients

1/2 pound asparagus, washed, white ends trimmed plus an additional 2" cut off and discarded
1 tablespoon olive oil
Sea salt and pepper to taste

Directions


Slice in half the long way the larger stalks just before serving. Just before serving, toss the asparagus with the seasoned olive oil.

Variations

To add heat, dust with a pinch of cayenne or 1/4 teaspoon pepper flakes.

Sprinkle 2 tablespoons flaky goat cheese over the asparagus.

Finely chop 1 garlic clove and lightly sauté until brown, sprinkle over the asparagus.

Grilled Asparagus

Use any size asparagus you like. 
Serves 4

Ingredients

1 pound asparagus, washed, white ends trimmed plus an additional 2" cut off and discarded
1 tablespoon olive oil
Sea salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Heat the grill on a medium flame.

Toss the asparagus in the seasoned olive oil and place on the grill. 

Tongs will help turn the asparagus on the grill. Be careful to brown but not burn the tender stalks. Serve warm.

Variations

Grill with carrots (sliced or whole baby carrots) and serve as a vegetable course or as a side dish.

To add heat, dust with a pinch of cayenne or an additional 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper.

Steamed or Sautéed Asparagus with Caramelized Garlic, Shallots and Almond Slivers
Use any size asparagus you like. I prefer large or medium sized stalks, cut in half the long way so I can caramelize inside the asparagus.

The dish is as delicious whether you steam or sauté the asparagus. The choice is yours.

Blanched, raw slivered almonds are widely available in supermarkets. From my experience, Trader Joe's has good quality, affordable almonds.

To deceive the eye, the shallot and garlic clove should be sliced to resemble the almond slivers. The surprising sweet-savory/soft-crunch contrast adds to the fun of the dish.

Serves 4

Ingredients

1 pound asparagus, washed, white ends trimmed plus an additional 2" cut off and discarded
1/4 cup blanched, raw almond slivers
1 large shallot, washed, peeled, root end removed, thin sliced
1 large garlic clove, washed, peeled, root end removed, thin sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
Sea salt and black pepper to taste

Directions

Heat a large frying pan with the olive oil, seasoned with sea salt and black pepper. Add the asparagus, cooking in batches if necessary. Don't crowd them in the pan so they cook evenly. Use tongs to turn them frequently to brown and avoid burning.

Remove the cooked stalks to a plate lined with a paper towel.

In the same pan, cook the shallot, garlic and almonds until lightly browned. Add a touch of olive oil if needed. Season with black pepper.

Either add the cooked asparagus back into the pan with the almond mixture and toss well or plate the asparagus and top the stalks with the almond mixture.

Serve warm.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Thanksgiving Dinner Recipes: Turkey, Stuffing, Appetizers, Side Dishes & Dessert

For Thanksgiving we keep it simple. We don't brine our turkey or do anything exotic with seasonings.

Friends and family contribute desserts. Cousin Leslie makes a pumpkin pie. Cousin Ron (hopefully) will make homemade ice cream. Our friends Clay and Lesli are having dinner with another friend this year so we'll miss her mixed berry fruit salad.
I've been making miniature chocolate bars, which I think are very cool, so I'll make those as an addition to the dessert table.

We'll straighten up around the house. I'll finally throw out those stacks of newspapers I wanted to go through.

If we have time, we'd like to find a new tablecloth for the dining room table. But if we can't find one, the old one will do since there will be so many platters of food, plates, glasses and silverware on the table you'll be hard pressed to see the tablecloth anyway.

We'll cover the bottom of the oven with aluminum foil so clean up after the meal is easier. Cleaning out the refrigerator makes room for the turkey after we pick it up from the grocery store and so there's space for all those delicious left-overs after the meal.

Besides shopping at the grocery store we'll visit our local farmers market to pick up fresh vegetables for the sides dishes: beets, sweet potatoes, lettuce, celery, carrots, mushrooms, Brussels sprouts, corn, leeks, and onions.

We'll buy an organic turkey and use the neck, heart and gizzard to make stock for the gravy and the liver to make a mushroom-garlic pate.

Even though Thanksgiving is a lot of work, the key is organization. Writing up a menu is the first step, pulling out our favorite recipes, making a shopping list, and finally creating a time-line for the day before Thanksgiving and the day of the meal.

STUFFING, TURKEY AND GRAVY

Corn Bread Stuffing with Sausages, Dried Apricots, and Pecans

The most important part of the meal is the turkey and no turkey is complete without great stuffing.

Over the years my wife has developed a crowd-pleasing stuffing with a contrast of textures: soft (corn bread), spicy (sausage), chewy (dried apricots), and crunchy (pecans).

Yield: 15-20 servings

Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

2 boxes corn bread mix
3 celery stalks, washed, ends trimmed, leaves discarded
1 pound mushrooms, brown, shiitake, or portabella, washed, pat dried, finely chopped
2 medium yellow onions, peeled, ends removed, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, peeled, finely chopped
1 stick sweet butter
1 1/2 cups turkey or chicken stock
4 Italian style sweet sausages
1 cup dried apricots, finely chopped
1/2 cup pecans, roughly chopped
Sea salt and pepper

Method

Make the corn bread the night before and leave the pan on the counter so the corn bread dries out. Use any cornbread mix you like. My wife uses Jiffy. It's inexpensive and tastes great. The instructions are on the box.

Saute the sausages whole in a frying pan with a little olive oil until browned, remove, cut into bite-sized pieces, and set aside. Pour off the excess fat. Add the celery, mushrooms, onion, and garlic into the pan with the stick of butter and saute. Season with sea salt and pepper. Cook until lightly browned, then add stock and summer 15 minutes.

Cut the cornbread into chunks and crumble into a large mixing bowl. Add the apricots, pecans, and the saute. Stir well and set aside until you're ready to stuff the turkey.

Roast Turkey

The most difficult part about cooking a turkey is size. Even a 15 pound turkey is larger than any roast you'll ever cook, so it's important to have somebody around to help strong-arm the turkey.
The rule of thumb about cooking time is 15-20 minutes per pound at 325 degrees but there are so many variables, you can also use a roasting thermometer and, our preferred method, jiggle-the-leg and if it almost comes off, the turkey's done.

Yield: 20-25 servings

Time: 7-8 hours

Ingredients

1 turkey, 23-25 pounds
Olive oil
Sea salt and pepper

Method

Unwrap the turkey. Remove the packet with the liver, neck, heart, and giblet. Use a pair of pliers to remove the piece of wire that holds the legs. It can be a real pain to get the wire off. Wash the turkey inside and out.  Pat dry on the outside.

Reserve the liver to make a turkey mushroom-garlic pate

Put the neck, heart, and giblet into a large saucepan with a lot of water, at least five inches higher than the turkey pieces. Replenish whatever water boils off. Simmer for 2-3 hours or until the meat on the neck falls off if you touch it with a fork. Strain the stock and reserve to use for gravy. Pull the meat off the neck and save to make turkey soup. Use the giblets in the gravy.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

The next step is easier with a friend. Drizzle olive oil on the outside of the turkey. Using your hands spread the oil over the entire bird, front and back. Sprinkle sea salt and black pepper inside the cavity and on the outside.

To put in the stuffing, either my wife or I holds the turkey upright and steady while the other loosely packs the stuffing inside the large cavity, one handful at a time.

Use 8-12 metal skewers and kitchen string to close the large cavity. Carefully turn the turkey over so you can put stuffing into the top area. Use 6-8 skewers and string to close that cavity.

Use any kind of roasting pan. Whether you use a disposable aluminum foil pan or an expensive stainless steel roasting pan from William Sonoma, the result will be the same. The important thing to remember is the pan must be at least 2" wider than the turkey, otherwise as the bird cooks, its juices will drip onto the bottom of your stove and make a mess. To insure that the turkey browns evenly, you'll need a wire rack.

Place the turkey on the rack, breast down and put into the oven. After 30 minutes, reduce the temperature to 350 degrees.

After that, every 30 minutes, baste the turkey with the fat that drips down into the pan. If the skin starts to brown too quickly, put an aluminum tent over the top.

After 3 hours, turn the turkey over. With a large bird this is easier said than done because now the turkey is not only heavy, it's very hot.

Another set of hands is a big help here. My wife and I have choreographed this crucial moment. I lift the roasting pan with the turkey out of the oven, placing it on the cutting board. Michelle stands at the ready with a pot holder in each hand. 

As I lift the rack with the turkey, she removes the pan. I flip the rack with the turkey onto the cutting board, having first put a kitchen towel along the edge to prevent juices from falling to the floor.

We pour all the juices and fat from the pan into a basting bowl, scrapping off the flavor bits on the bottom of the pan to make gravy.

The rack goes back into the pan. The turkey goes onto the rack, breast side up. After a good basting, the turkey goes back in the oven, covered with an aluminum foil tent.

As the turkey continues to cook, if the wing tips and drumstick ends brown too quickly, wrap them in aluminum foil.

Continue basting every 30 minutes. When the turkey is finished, remove from the oven and let rest 5 minutes.

Carve the turkey on a cutting board, removing the wings first, then the legs, thighs, and the breasts. Either place the pieces on the platter whole, to be carved at the table, or sliced for easy serving. Open the cavities and spoon out the stuffing.

Mushroom-Giblet Gravy

While the turkey is cooking, start the gravy.

Yield: 15-20 servings

Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

2 medium yellow onions, peeled, ends removed, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, peeled, finely chopped
1 turkey giblet, cooked, grizzle removed, finely chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary, tarragon, or Italian parsley
1/2 pound mushrooms, brown, shiitake, or portabella, washed, finely chopped or sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups turkey stock made with the turkey heart, giblet and neck
Sea salt and pepper

Method

Place the turkey heart, giblet and neck into a large sauce pan and cover with water. Simmer for 3-4 hours or until the neck meat is falling off the bone. Add water as needed to keep the turkey parts covered. Reserve the giblet for the gravy. Pick the meat off the neck for the gravy as well. Discard the heart.

Sauté the giblet, onions, garlic, fresh herbs, and mushrooms until lightly browned. Add turkey stock and the flavor bits you scraped off the roasting pan, simmer and reduce by 1/3. Taste and adjust the flavors. If too salty, add more stock and a pat of sweet (unsalted) butter.

Reheat before serving.

Turkey Stock

When you're eating Thanksgiving dinner, odds are you aren't thinking about your next meal, but I am. 

Admittedly, it's a bit obsessive, but before I sit down to join the dinner, all the bones and scraps go into a large stock pot filled with water. By the time we're clearing the table, the stock is finished.

Turkey stock is rich and flavorful. Perfect for making soups, stews, and pasta sauce, and like chicken stock, freezes beautifully.

Yield: 15-20 servings

Time: 1 hour
Ingredients

1 turkey carcass, skin, scraps
Water

Method

Put the carcass into a large pot. If any of stuffing makes it into the pot, all the better for flavor and richness. Cover the bones with water. Simmer 1 hour. Strain and refrigerate. Pick the meat off the bones to use in a soup or stew.

The stock keeps in the freezer for six months.

SIDE DISHES

Side dishes need to be flavorful and easy to make.

Everyone has their favorites. Here are ours: Roasted Whole TomatoesArugula Salad with Hazelnuts, Carrots, and Avocadoes, Grilled Vegetable Couscous Salad, Blackened Peppers with CapersRoasted Brussels Sprouts, and, my new favorite, baked sweet potatoes stuffed with a garlic-mushroom sauté.

Baked Sweet Potatoes with Sautéed Shallots, Garlic, and Mushrooms

I prefer sweet potatoes that have a bright orange flesh. Find ones that are slender, appropriate as a single serving. For a dinner party, pick ones that are about the same size.

Yield: 4 servings
Time: 2 1/2 hours

Ingredients

4 sweet potatoes, washed, skins on
2 teaspoons sweet butter
1 cup shallots, peeled, thinly sliced
1 cup brown or shiitake mushrooms, washed, dried, thinly sliced
6 garlic cloves, peeled, finely chopped
1/4 cup Italian parsley leaves only, washed, finely chopped
Olive oil
Sea salt and pepper
Cayenne (optional)

Method

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Wrap each sweet potato in tin foil, place in the oven, turn every 30 minutes. Depending on your oven and the size of the sweet potatoes, they can take anywhere from 1 1/2 hours to 2 hours. When the sweet potatoes are soft to the touch, they are done.

While the sweet potatoes are in the oven, drizzle olive oil in a frying pan, season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper, and sauté the shallots, garlic, parsley, and mushrooms until lightly browned.

Remove and discard the tin foil. Take a sharp paring knife and slice each sweet potato open the long way. Using your fingers, push the sweet potato in from the ends so the cut section opens like a flower. Add 1/2 teaspoon of butter and a light dusting of cayenne (optional). Top with the shallot-mushroom sauté and serve.

DESSERT

We always have a half dozen desserts, ranging from custards to apple pies with crystalized ginger crusts but my absolute favorite is a light and chocolaty banana cake.

Banana Cake with Chocolate Chips and Walnuts

For a festive presentation we use a castle mould and dust the top with powdered sugar to give the cake a happy snowy look.
Yield: 8-10 servings
Time: 90 minutes

Ingredients

4 ripe bananas
1 1/2 tablespoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon sweet butter, room temperature
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup half and half or 1 cup heavy cream
2 1/2 cups white flour
Pinch of sea salt
Pinch of cayenne
1/2 cup raw walnuts
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Method

Melt 1 tablespoon of butter and paint the inside of a 9 x 3 round cake pan, then put the pan in the freezer for 30 minutes. (The frozen butter prevents the batter from sticking to the pan.) On a cookie sheet bake the walnuts in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes, turning every 5 minutes or so; let cool, roughly chop, and set aside.

In a bowl mash the bananas with a fork, add the baking soda and vanilla. stir well and set aside. In a mixer use the whisk to cream together the softened butter and both sugars. Add the eggs, mashed bananas, half and half (or cream) and whisk until blended. Mix in the flour half a cup at a time, being careful not to over-beat. Remove the bowl from the mixer. Use a rubber spatula to blend in the walnuts and chocolate chips. Pour the batter into the buttered cake pan; it will only fill the pan half-way.

Bake the cake in a 350 oven for 60-70 minutes, turning the pan every 20 minutes so the cake cooks evenly.  Test to see if the cake is done by inserting a wooden skewer. If the top is browning too quickly, lightly lay a sheet of aluminum foil over the top. When the skewer comes out clean, take the cake out of the oven and place on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Remove the cake from the pan, putting it back on the wire rack to finish cooling.

Just before serving, dust the top with powdered sugar and shaved chocolate. Serve warm or at room temperature with vanilla ice cream or freshly whipped cream.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Corn on the Cob Gets Dressed Up For Dinner

We celebrate summer with grilled meats and boiled corn, the golden ears arriving at the table, resting in silky pools of melted butter, ready for a dusting of freshly ground sea salt and black pepper.
Many people hunger so much for corn they eat it every chance they can to such an extent that, sooner or later, familiarity breeds disinterest and even a little disdain. 

Where it seemed so celebratory at the beginning of summer, by August they turn away when a platter of corn is placed on the table. 

That's pretty much the way it's been for me.

On my last trip to our local farmers market, I hadn't planned on buying corn until I noticed that very few farmers were selling corn and those that were had very little to sell. Arriving late, the corn was almost sold out. 

Talking with a farmer, I learned that local corn will disappear from the market in a couple of weeks. After that, no more corn until the spring.

I bought half a dozen ears, deciding we should have a farewell to corn dinner. Preparing the ears by grilling or boiling would still be great, but I wanted to do something different. 

At Cuban restaurants in New York, corn on the cob is served with butter, mayonnaise and grated cheese. The sweet chewy corn kernels benefit from those added flavors.

I liked the idea of a topping on the corn but decided on a different direction. 

Corn on the Cob with Garlic-Onion Crisps
Serves 4

Time 30 minutes

Ingredients

4 ears corn, husks and silks removed, washed and dried
1 tablespoon sweet butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, ends and skin removed, finely sliced
2 garlic cloves, skins removed, finely chopped
1/4 cup Italian parsley, leaves only, left whole or finely chopped
Sea salt and pepper

Directions
The corn can either be grilled or boiled. To grill, lightly drizzle each ear with a small amount of olive oil and season with sea salt and pepper. Place on a hot grill and turn frequently until lightly browned.  If boiled, place the ears of corn in a large pot of water, turn the heat on high, turn the corn frequently and remove when the water boils. Keep warm.

Heat the butter and olive oil in a frying pan. On a medium high flame, sauté the onions, garlic and parsley until lightly browned and crispy.

Cut the corn into 2" long sections, place on a serving platter. Sprinkle the onion-garlic-parsley crisps over the corn and serve.

Variations

Add heat to the sauté with 1/4 teaspoon cayenne powder.

After topping the corn with the sauté, dust the corn with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Farmers' Market Fresh: Early Spring Tomatoes Roasted Whole or Sliced

Judging by the night time chill, it's still winter, Southern California style. But a walk through the local farmers' markets (the Wednesday Santa Monica and Sunday Pacific Palisades Farmers' Markets) and you'd think it was summertime. Just about everything you could want is in the market, with the exception of fresh corn and pluots.


One of my favorite recipes, and one of the easiest, uses early spring tomatoes to good advantage. Eaten raw, they aren't desirable, but roasted, they're delicious. Some farmers mark down their mottled and misshapen tomatoes so price is an added bonus.

Sliced Tomatoes Roasted with Garlic and Parsley

Use the roasted tomato slices as a side dish with grilled chicken breasts, meat, and seafood or in a salad of alternating slices of tomato and mozzarella, a variation on a classic Italian summer dish.

Yield: 4 servings

Time: 45 minutes

Ingredients

2 pounds fresh large tomatoes, washed, pat dried
1 cup Italian parsley, leaves only, washed, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled, finely chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
Sea salt and black pepper

Method

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Mix together the chopped parsley and garlic. Remove the remnants of th
e stem on top of the tomatoes, cut into 1/2" thick slices, lay on a Silpat sheet or a piece of aluminum foil on a baking tray, top with a sprinkling of parsley-garlic mix, drizzle with olive oil, and season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Roast 30 minutes or until the tomatoes give off their liquid and the topping is lightly browned. Remove from the oven to cool on a baking rack. Use a rubber spatula to reserve the liquid on the baking tray.

Serve at room temperature.

Variations


Before serving, top with a sprinkling of freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Pour the roasting liquid, a mix of seasoned olive oil and tomato essence, onto the plate, then lay the tomato slices on top.

Arrange the slices on top of filets of fish, such as sole, halibut, or swordfish.

Roasted Whole Tomatoes

Keep this recipe for the summer when tomatoes improve in quality and come down even more in price. The technique is a winner any time of the year.

Yield: 4 servings

Time: 90 minutes

Ingredients

3-4 pounds tomatoes
3 tablespoons olive oil
Sea salt and black pepper

Method


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Remove the end of the stem at the top of the tomato. Place all the tomatoes on a Silpat sheet or a piece of aluminum foil on a shallow roasting pan. Drizzle each tomato with olive oil and season with sea salt and black pepper.

Roast 90 minutes. When you remove the tomatoes from the oven you'll notice the accumulation of a clear liquid. A small portion of that is the seasoned olive oil. But mostly the liquid is given off by the tomato itself. That liquid or, let's be bold and call it "nectar", is pure essence-of-tomato. Save every drop.

At this point the tomatoes can be served whole as a side dish with grilled or roasted meats. They can also be peeled and chopped for a pasta or a braised meat dish like short ribs. Run them through a food mill and you have the beginnings of a delicious tomato sauce.

If you don't use all the tomatoes right away, they can be placed in an air-tight container and frozen for several months without damaging their flavor.

A final tip about tomato nectar. If you like mozzarella with tomatoes but this time of year the fresh tomatoes don't have enough flavor, drizzle the tomato nectar, slightly warmed, over slices of mozzarella. You're in for a treat.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Eating Well Makes Good Sense

For those who think that going without meat, sugars, and processed foods means a bland, boring diet, think again. Buying local, seasonal, fresh produce and paying attention to what you eat pays off with big dividends.


The truth is, you'll save money and feel better. What's more, you won't be giving up convenience. Most of these dishes can be made in 30 minutes or less.



Salads


Arugula Salad with Avocado


Arugula Salad with Hazelnuts, Carrots, and Avocados


Arugula Salad with Persimmons and Pomegranate Seeds


Black Kale, Kabocha Squash, Cheddar Cheese and Almonds

Bulgar Salad with Celery



Carrot Salad with Lemon-Soaked Raisins


Chopped Parsley Salad



Cole Slaw with Capers


Couscous Salad with Grilled Vegetables


Egg Salad


Farmers' Market Fresh Chopped Vegetable Salad


Grilled Corn Salads


Grilled Vegetable Couscous Salad


Grilled Vegetables


Parsley-Grilled Corn Salad


Potato Salad with Corn


Risotto with Summer Vegetables


Roasted Beet Salad


Salad-e Shirazi: Iranian Cucumbers, Cherry Tomatoes, and Onions


Spinach Salad


Tomato and Avocado Salad


Tomato, Avocado, Corn and Garlic Toast Salad


Wilted Spinach Salad

Soups, Snacks, Sauces, and Side Dishes


The Amazingly Versatile Blackened Pepper


Baked Sweet Potatoes with Sauteed Shallots, Garlic, and Mushrooms


Braised Sprouted Broccoli

Cannelini Beans with Roasted Tomatoes and Spinach



Caramelized Vegetable Pasta

Chermoula Sauce for Salads, Side Dishes, and Entrees




An Easy Saute with Brussels Sprouts and Carrots


Grilled Artichokes


Grilled Corn on the Cob


Grilled Vegetables


Farmers' Market Fresh Vegetable Saute


Homemade Vegetable Soup

Kale Sauteed with Garlic and Farm Fresh Vegetables



Kimchi Ramen Soup


Kosher Pickles



Mushroom Soup


Potatoes, Mashed, for Breakfast


Quesadillas, Open Faced


Ramen Soup with Kimchi and Farmers' Market Fresh Vegetables


Roasted Brussels Sprouts


Roasted Garlic-Tomato Sauce


Roasted Tomatoes


Roasted Tomato Sauce


Salt Crusted Fingerling Potatoes


Salt Steamed Broccoli


Sauteed Beet Greens


Sauteed Kale with Vegetables


Steamed Artichokes


Summer Vegetable Risotto


Sweet Potatoes Grilled


Sweet Potato Inari Sushi


Tapenade the Frugal Cook's Secret Weapon


Tomato-Vegetable Soup


Tomatoes, Roasted, for Easy-to-Make Sauce


Tomatoes, Roasted Whole or Sliced


Vegetable Soup


Vegetable Soup for Cold Weather


Entrees


Brown Sugar Pork Ribs


Chicken Wings with Kimchi Glaze

Curry, Easy-to-Make

Ginger-Soy Sauce Poached Black Cod

Cioppino with Roasted Tomatoes and Garlic Toasts

Ginger-Soy Black Cod

Green Garlic and Clams

Grilled Shrimp

Grilled Shrimp with a Tex-Mex Dry Rub


Kimchi Chicken Wings

Low Cal Breaded Fish Fillets


Israeli Couscous with Vegetables

Italian Sausages and Roasted Tomatoes

Native American-Style Salmon

Pasta Alla Checca

Pasta with Roasted Corn and Garlic

Ribs, Brown Sugar Glaze

Risotto with Farmers' Market Fresh Squash Blossoms and Baby Zucchini

Roasted Cherry Tomato and Shiitake Mushroom Pasta

Salmon with a Garlic-Citrus Glaze

Sauteed Fish with Capers, Corn, and Tomatoes



Skewered Cherry Tomatoes

Tequila Glazed Shrimp

Tofu, Beet Greens, and Brown Rice

Tofu with Crispy Toppings


Desserts



Baked Cherries

Baked Plums

Custard

Fig Tart with Crystalized Ginger Crust and Roasted Almonds

Honey Poached Apples and Pears with Cinnamon, Vanilla, Raisins, and Peppercorns

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Yukon Gold Potatoes Brighten Up an Old Favorite: Latkes

We had Hanukkah dinner last night and, while eating our friend Paula's excellent latkes, the conversation turned to favorite recipes. Last year I posted my Yukon gold recipe and I think it's worth reposting. Latkes are good through out the holiday season, even on New Year's Eve when a late night snack of latkes and champagne is a perfect way to ring in the New Year.

For dinner on the first night of Hanukkah my mother always started with a romaine lettuce salad topped with scallions and Lawry's French Dressing. Then there was a brisket of beef with carrots and mushroom gravy. But the real stars of the meal were the latkes served with apple sauce and sour cream.

My mother's latke recipe was handed down from her mother: grated potatoes, eggs, flour, a little salt and pepper. She'd fry them in vegetable oil and serve them as soon as they were browned. So simple and yet the result was so soul-comforting: crispy on the outside, soft inside, with just the right amount of oil and salt. There are few dishes that are as satisfying as food and so emotionally evocative.

Like most kids, my sister, Barbara, and I waited eagerly at the table. As soon as the plate full of latkes was passed around, we emptied it. I kept count, because I didn't want her to have more than I did. They were that good. When my grandmother was in town, she and my mother made Hanukkah dinner together. Their relationship was competitive to say the least, so there was always considerable discussion about the right way to make the latkes: flour vs. matzo meal; onions or no onions. My grandmother liked to point out that she had given my mother her latkes recipe but my mom insisted that she hadn't remembered it correctly.

These days we look forward to celebrating all the nights of Hanukkah but the first night is special. That's when both our sons are certain to be home. Now that they're off on their own, we're happy when we can be assured they'll share a meal with us.

Michelle likes to make the Hanukkah latkes and they're always delicious. Her recipe is similar to my mother's. This year I asked her to make a small adjustment. I wanted her to use Yukon Golds instead of Russet potatoes because they're sweeter and less starchy.

After the first night's candle was lit and placed in the menorah, presents were given and opened. Then Michelle made latkes as fast as she could and they disappeared as soon as they arrived at the table. In the end, there were only two left. Michael ate those for a late night snack. The family's opinion was unanimous. The Yukon Gold latkes were a keeper.

Yukon Gold Latkes

Yield: 4 servings
Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

4 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, washed
2 eggs
1/4 cup white all purpose flour
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper (optional)
1 medium yellow onion, peeled, finely chopped (optional)
1/2 cup parsley, washed, finely chopped (optional)
4 tablespoons safflower or canola oil

Method

Peel the potatoes and keep them covered in a bowl of lightly salted water so they won't discolor. Using the large holes, grate the potatoes by hand. Keep the grated potatoes submerged in the bowl of water.

Take a handful of grated potatoes. Gently squeeze out the water so they are "dry" but still light and fluffy. Put the grated potatoes into a second bowl and mix together with the eggs, flour, and olive oil. Season with sea salt and pepper. Add the parsley and onions (optional). Mix well.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan or griddle. Use a parsley leaf to test the oil. When it sizzles, the oil is hot enough. Form the latkes and fry them in batches. With our griddle, that means we can make 4 or 6 at a time.

Each side will take 4-5 minutes. When they're golden brown on each side, remove them to a plate with several sheets of paper towels to drain off the excess oil. Finish with a light dusting of sea salt.

Serve with sour cream and apple sauce.