Archive for the ‘Vegetables/potatoes/rice’ category

Roasted sweet and spicy squash

November 29, 2015

My favorite squash for this is kabocha, but any orange-fleshed variety should do (acorn, butternut, delicata, etc.). In my experience the skin is perfectly edible although it has a slightly chewier consistency than the flesh.

  • One 2 lb squash, washed, quartered, and cut into 1/2 inch slices
  • 2 TB soy sauce
  • 1 TB honey
  • 1 tsp sriracha or similar hot sauce
  • big pinch salt
  • 1/4 c neutral oil (peanut, canola, etc.)
  • 1-2 TB white sesame seeds
  • black pepper
  • cilantro leaves

Heat oven to 450 degrees

In a large bowl, whisk the soy sauce, honey, hot sauce, salt, and oil together.  Add the squash to the bowl, grind some pepper over, and toss to coat. Arrange in one layer on an oiled baking sheet and bake for 20-30 minutes until soft and starting to brown. While baking, toast the seasame seeds in a small, dry skillet over medium heat, shaking often, until lightly browned. When the squash is done, transfer to a serving bowl, top with the sesame seeds and cilantro, and serve.

Half-sour kosher dill pickles

September 20, 2014

When I was a kid, I remember that some of the delis in NY City would bring a bowl of these to every table, and they would quickly disappear. Crisp, only mildly sour, with a nice garlic flavor, they have been a favorite of mine for years. And, they are ridiculously easy to make at home.

These are fresh pickles, not heat-treated, which accounts for their delicious crispiness. And they contain no vinegar, with the mild sourness coming from natural fermentation. The cucumbers are important. You want firm, fresh cukes a maximum of 4 inches long. “Pickling” cukes are ideal but not required. I provide 2 slightly different recipes.

Dill

For half-pickles, which develop their flavor faster:

2 lbs cukes washed and halved lengthwise
2-1 quart widemouth jars. They can be “canning” jars but do not need to be because there is no heat processing involved.
10 whole black peppercorns or whole coriander seeds
5 large or 8 small cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
2 tsp dried dill
1/4 c kosher salt
2-1/2 c water

Divide the cuke halves between the jars. Pack them in vertically and rather tightly, which will keep them in place below the surface of the brine. You may have some extra, save them for a salad. Push 2 garlic cloves down between the cuke halves in each jar. Divide the dill and peppercorns between the jars. Dissolve the salt in the water and pour over the cukes. Make sure all the cukes are submerged. Cover the jars and let sit at room temperature. The brine will get slightly cloudy, a sign that the fermentation yeast is active.

After 24 hours taste the pickles. If they are not “pickley” enough for your taste, let sit for a while longer, tasting every 12 hours or so. When ready, transfer to the  fridge, where they will continue to develop, but much more slowly. Keep up to 3 weeks.

For whole pickles, which take a little longer to develop but are preferred by some:

Kosher

You’ll need a 2 quart widemouth jar.

Follow the above recipe, but do not cut the cukes. Make the brine using 1/3 c kosher salt and 1 quart water.. Pack all ingredients into the jar and pour in the brine. Fill a zipper bag with water and insert it to keep the cukes submerged.

Corn on the grill

July 20, 2014

I don’t like to cook shucked corn on the grill. It can dry out and if it starts to burn, well, no one likes that taste. Here’s a better way.

Take your corn and pull back the husks, leaving them attached to the ear at the stem end. Remove the silk. If desired, brush with butter or sprinkle with seasoning. Pull the husks up to their original position and fasten with a length of kitchen string at the tip end. Soak in water for a few minutes, then grill. If you are worried that soaking will wash off your seasonings, wet the husks thoroughly with a sprayer before closing up the ear.

Brussels sprouts the right way

December 12, 2013

I read once that the per capita annual consumption of Brussels sprouts in the US was 6. My wife and I must account for several hundred other people because we love them and eat them often, mostly in the fall when they are at their best. I suspect that most people have only had bad Brussels sprouts, stale and overcooked, and those can indeed be dreadful. Properly selected and prepared, however, they are a real treat.

IMG_1650

They must be fresh, relatively heavy feeling, and firm to the touch. A brown stem end is OK, you can trim that off, the same goes for a few damaged or discolored leaves. You sometimes see the sprouts still attached to the stem. Pretty, but no real advantage – plus, you are almost sure to get a wide range of sizes, which makes proper cooking more difficult. But, on the stem or off, FRESH is what’s important.

Trim a thin slice off the stem and and remove any discolored, damaged, or loose leaves. At this point, Julia Child (my goddess!) has you cut a cross in the stem end to promote even cooking. To be honest, I have never found this to make a difference—but go ahead if you like.  If you have various sizes, separate the larger from the smaller.

Bring a pot of salted water to a gentle boil. Add the larger sprouts (or all of them if they are not sorted). Simmer for a few minutes. Add the smaller sprouts and simmer for another 5 min or so. You need to use your judgement here, you want the sprouts partially cooked but still pretty hard in the center. Drain, rinse briefly with cold water, and set aside. Let them air-dry, you do not want them wet for the next steps. This can be dome a day ahead.

Heat a saute pan that can hold the sprouts loosely in a single layer. Add unsalted butter (no, NOT MARGARINE! If you use margarine you will get what you deserve, an inferior result. Olive oil might work but I have not tried it.), perhaps 1 or 2 TB of butter per cup of sprouts. Heat until the foam subsides then add the sprouts. Cook over medium heat, shaking the pan now and then, until the sprouts are nicely browned and crisp tender. This might take 10 minutes, again you have to pay attention and judge for yourself. Add some good pinches of salt and pepper and shake, then serve.

Roasted (mostly) root vegetables

November 28, 2013

This dish is easy, flexible, low-fat, and DELICIOUS! It’s perfect for the fall when the various ingredients ae plentifully available in high quality. Here’s my latest batch waiting to be popped in the oven.

veg

You can use any or all of the following root vegetables, using at least 4 or 5 makes for a more interesting dish. To my taste, the onion, carrots, and garlic are the flavor backbone, so I always include those. Peel and cut into 1 to 1-1/2 inch chunks (leave garlic cloves and shallots whole).

White potato
Sweet potato
Onion
Parsnip
Carrot
Shallot
Turnip
Garlic

Winter squash and Brussels sprouts, while not roots, are worthy additions. Cut the peeled squash into chunks as above. For the sprouts, cut a thin slice off the stem end if it has discolored and remove any damaged leaves.

Set the garlic aside and toss everything else in a large bowl with about 1/4c of olive oil and some salt & pepper. I like to throw in some fresh chopped rosemary or thyme, too. Transfer to a baking pan that will hold everything in 1 or 2 layers. Bake at 425 for half an hour, add the garlic, and use a spatula to redistribute the vegetables. Bake an additional 15 minutes or until the vegetables are cooked thru. If they have not browned as much as you would like, run the pan under the broiler briefly. Can be served hot or at room temperature.

Sweet potato pone (casserole)

March 4, 2013

This makes a great side to grilled meats, barbecue, and the like. Modified from a recipe in Bill Neal’s great cookbook “Southern Cooking.”

1/2 stick butter at room temperature
2/3c light brown sugar
2 eggs
zest and juice of 1 orange
zest of 1 lemon
1/2 tsp powdered ginger
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground white pepper (or use black pepper)
1 tsp salt
1 to 1-1/2 lb sweet potatoes (2 medium)
additional butter
Optional: chopped toasted walnuts, about 1/3 c

Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, orange zest and juice, lemon zest, spices/pepper/salt. Set aside.

Peel the sweet potatoes and grate coarsely. Mix well with the above, adding the optional walnuts at this time.

Place a your baking pan in the oven. The exact size does not matter, but it should be close to 8 inch square. Set the over for 375 degrees. When te oven comes to temperature, remove the pan and add a couple of TB additional butter. Swirl around to coat the bottom and sides of the pan, then add the potato mixture and spread out to fill the pan. Return to the oven and bake for about 40 minutes, until it is set and the top is slightly browned. Remove from oven and cool for 15 minutes before serving.

Brown rice cakes

November 23, 2011

Brown rice is good for us, right? But, it does not always taste so good. Here’s an exception.

1 c long grained brown rice

Bring the rice, 1 tsp salt, and 2-1/2 c water to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cook for about an hour, covered. Stir now and then and add water near the end of cooking as needed. You want the result to be soft, gooey rice, softer than if you were going to just eat it plain. Let cool and then refrigerate for an hour or more.

2/3 c grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 c finely chopped scallions, the white and part of the green
1/3 c finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
big pinch of salt
several grindings of black pepper

Thoroughly mix these ingredients with the cold rice. Form into 6 to 8 patties, pressing firmly. Saute in olive oil until nicely browned.

Kimchee (Korean pickled cabbage)

November 22, 2011

You either love it or hate it. Guess which camp I fall into! A national institution in Korea, kimchee is very spicy, has an odd smell, and admittedly is not for everyone. But, it’s easy to get addicted to. Eat it as a side, put it on rice, add to soups, And, I am glad to say, easy to make. There are many recipes, here’s mine. I find that Korean red pepper is best, and it is available in many oriental markets. As you experiment, you may vary the red pepper to suit your taste – and different brands vary in hotness, as one would expect.

1 nappa (Chinese) cabbage about 2-1/2 lbs (weight not critical)
3 TB kosher salt
2 c daikon radish peeled and cut into 1/4″ slices (optional)
1 tsp sugar
1 c water

Remove and discard any damaged leaves from the outside of the cabbage then cut into pieces about 1 to 1-1/2 inch in size. In a large bowl, toss with the salt, sugar, water, and optional daikon. Weight with a plate and let sit for at least 8 hours, or overnight. Drain and reserve the liquid.

1 bunch scallions
1 inch piece fresh ginger
3 TB red pepper powder

Peel and finely mince the ginger. Cut the roots and the top few inches of green off the scallions, cut into 2 inch pieces, and slice lengthwise into slivers. Toss the ginger and scallions and red pepper with the cabbage. I like to do this with my hands, but I make sure not to lick my fingers after! Here’s a pic of the ingredients all mixed together.

Pack the mixture into a well-cleaned glass jar – you’ll need about 2 quarts capacity. Don’t be shy about pressing it down—in fact, it should be well-packed. Add water and some of the reserved liquid to almost cover. The reserved liquid is salty, and add more or less depending on how salty you want your kimchee.

Put some water in a heavy-duty plastic bag and put it in the jar to weigh down the mixture. Pretty soon the solids will compress and be totally covered by the brine – just what you want. Ideally, the solids will be just covered, you  don’t want a lot of excess liquid. Let sit at room temperature overnight.

What gives kimchee its special character is fermenting, in essentially the same way as sauerkraut is made. The friendly yeasts, naturally present on the nappa, grow and multiply and give off various flavor compounds. You’ll never see these wee beasties, but you will surely taste and smell the result of their work! The longer the fermentation, the more potent the result. The longer you let it sit out of the fridge, and the warmer your kitchen, the more fermentation will occur. Once in the fridge, fermentation essentially stops. Experiment – you can always take it out of the fridge for a day to kick up the flavor if you like.

Keep your jar well sealed. The smell can be quite potent and even I don;t want to smell kimchee if I am not eating it. My approach is to cover the jar with a double layer of plastic wrap secured with a rubber band, then put the jar in a large zipper bag.

Fried rice

May 1, 2011

Easy to make at home. There are endless variations possible here, use your imagination.

6 cups cold cooked white rice *
2 eggs
1/2 c slivered country-style ham or diced Chinese sausage
4 scallions, green and white parts, cut in 1/2 inch lengths
1/2 c frozen peas, thawed and drained
soy sauce
sesame oil
oyster sauce
peanut oil

Beat the eggs with 1 tsp each soy sauce and sesame oil. Heat 1 tsp oil in a wok, swirling to coat the sides. Add the eggs and swirl to form a “pancake” that is 8-10 inches in diameter. When mostly set, flip over for about 5 seconds and then remove to a plate. Roll up and cut into thin strips.

Wipe out the wok and heat 1/2 TB of oil. Stir fry the ham or sausage for 30 seconds or so, then remove. Add 3 TB oil to the wok and heat over medium heat. Add the rice and stir continuously, breaking up clumps and exposing all the rice to the hot oil. This will take about 5 minutes. Add the peas and scallions and stir fry for another couple of minutes. Add the ham, eggs, and 2 TB each soy sauce and oyster sauce, and stir thoroughly. Check for salt and serve.

* For best results the rice should have been refrigerated overnight.

Savory onion and cheese pie

May 1, 2011

Adapted from a recipe in The Vegetarian Epicure. Makes a very rich side dish or a great main course for a vegetarian meal.

Two frozen 8″ pie shells (or make your own)
8 oz imported gruyere cheese
8 oz Emmenthal or other “Swiss” cheese
3 large onions
2 or 3 large firm tomatoes
3 TB flour
3 TB butter
3 TB olive oil
1 TB chopped fresh basil
3 large eggs
1 c heavy cream

Slice the onions and cook in the butter and oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium low heat, stirring regularly, until starting to turn golden brown (30-40 minutes). Remove from pan. Slice the tomatoes and cook for 1-2 minutes per side in the remaining butter until slightly softened and heated thru. Grate all the cheese and mix with the flour. Beat the eggs and cream together.

Take about 1/3 of the cheese and spread over the bottoms of the pie crusts. Spread the onion over the cheese and top with overlapping tomato slices. Sprinkle on the basil, add the remaining cheese, and pour the cream/egg over all. Bake at 350f for about 40 minutes, until browned and slightly puffed. Remove from oven and let sit for 10-15 minutes before serving.


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