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Posts Tagged ‘Vegetable Sides’

 So, here’s something you probably don’t know about me.  I’m obsessed with cults.  I once toured the Scientology mansion in DC just to get a look around and when the Texas Department of Child Services invaded that polygamist ranch, I was glued to CNN.  So when this article appeared in the East Bay Express a few months ago, linking a local raw food restaurant with a cult like organization, I was totally intrigued.  I still haven’t been to the restaurant yet and I’ve heard it’s very good, but I think I’d be too intrigued by watching out for cult things to care about the raw food.

If you don’t want your salad to come with a side of brainwashing, you can make your own.  Now, this has parmesan cheese, which probably isn’t raw.  But the asparagus is, which is unusual but totally delicious.  If you are used to roasted asparagus, this tastes nothing like that.  It’s fresh and mellow.  The cheese adds richness and the lemon makes it tangy and bright.

Grating the asparagus was a little tricky.  Don’t snap the ends off the asparagus before you grate.  I made that mistake and then had nothing to grip on to when I was using the vegetable peeler to shred it.  Either way, I imagine it will take a bit of time, but since it’s really the only thing you need to do, the recipe is fairly quick to throw together.   The recipe makes a ton – I made about a half a pound of asparagus and adjusted accordingly, since it was just my husband and me.

Shaved Raw Asparagus with Parmesan Dressing
Recipe by Mario Batali and adapted from the April 2010 Food & Wine

Ingredients
2 pounds large asparagus
1 cup coarsely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (3 ounces)
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons warm water
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Directions
Using a vegetable peeler, shave the asparagus into long, thin strips and transfer to a large bowl.

In a small bowl, mix the Parmigiano-Reggiano with the lemon juice, water and olive oil. Add to the asparagus and toss to coat. Season the salad with salt and pepper and serve at once.

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Boxty is an Irish potato pancake.  I’ve had them a couple times in Irish pubs and they rock.  Since I failed last year to create an authentically Irish St. Patrick’s Day offering, I wanted to do something delicious this year.  And what’s more Irish than potatoes?

The recipe is fairly straightforward.  The batter is a little sticky and tricky to work with, but I think they are kind of hard to screw up.  And, they were delicious.  

Boxty
Recipe adapted from Epicurious and this blog, The Evening Heralt

Ingredients
1 9-ounce russet potato, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 1/4 cups grated peeled russet potato (about one 9-ounce potato), squeezed dry in kitchen towel
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (about) buttermilk
Butter

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For this week’s Dark Days challenge, I tried out two new recipes.  The first comes from Deborah Madison’s Local Flavors, a really wonderful cookbook that a friend lent to me and I’ve been hoarding for way too long.  Deborah Madison was the genius behind the delicious goat cheese and leek tart, and this recipe for onion and smoked cheddar custard looked particularly delicious.  I really liked the finished product – for a vegetarian dish, it had an amazing meaty flavor.  Or, umami if you prefer the technical term.  The recipe calls for it to be baked in six 1/2 cup ramekins.  I used 4 one cup ramekins because that’s what I had and it seemed like a better size for one serving anyway. 

I served it with braised escarole, using a recipe from Tyler Florence.  Escarole isn’t really a vegetable I’m too familar with, but they were on full display at the farmer’s market on Saturday, so I thought I’d give it a try.  I thought about a salad, but felt like experimenting and opted to cook it.  If you had told me that what was essentially boiled lettuce would taste good, I would have thought you were joking.  But, wow.  The recipe said it served four, but we had no problem finishing it off, it was that good.  Thank you, Tyler Florence. 

Just about everything here is local, with the exceptions being the flour in the custard, the oil, and the red pepper flakes.

Savory Custards with Carmelized Onion and Smoked Cheddar
Recipe by Deborah Madison, Local Flavors

Ingredients
1 tablespoon butter, plus butter for the ramekins
large yellow onions cut into a medium dice
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
3 large market eggs
1 1/2 cups milk (2 % will taste fine) or light cream
pinch of nutmeg
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup finely grated smoked Cheddar cheese

Preparation
Heat a large skillet with the butter.  I didn’t have a large enough non-stick one, which is what the recipe recommended, so I used stainless steel.  Add the onions and mix well with the melted butter.  Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and cover.  Cook over medium heat until the onions are very soft, about one hour.  During this time, you’ll need to give them a stir every 5-10 minutes.  I found I needed to add 1/4 cup of water a couple times during the cooking because they were starting to stick.  It could have been because I didn’t use a nonstick pan or because my stove runs hot.  In any event, just keep an eye on it, and if it’s starting to burn or stick, a good splash of water isn’t going to hurt them.  After an hour and the onions are nice and carmelized, season with salt and pepper and remove from heat. 

Preheat the oven to 375.  Boil water for the baking dish.  Grease the ramekins.

Crack the eggs in a bowl and whisk in the milk, nutmeg, flour, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and a grating of pepper.  Split the onions and cheese among the ramekins and pour in the custard.  


Stir the contents of the ramekins to mix up the onions and cheese.  Put them in a baking dish and add the boiling water so that it comes up to at least an inch up the sides.  Bake them in the middle of the oven until golden and well set, about 50 minutes.  The tops should puff up a bit.  The recipe said that they shouldn’t brown but mine did.  

With the custards, I made the braised escarole.


Braised Escarole with Garlic and Lemon
Recipe by Tyler Florence

Ingredients
1 head escarole, about 1 pound
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
4 garlic cloves, sliced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 bay leaves
1/2 lemon, cut in thin slices
2 cups water, chicken broth, or vegetable broth
Pinch sugar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions
Break off the leaves of the escarole and wash them carefully.  They will likely be very dirty, so this might take a while.  Dry the leaves, and slice them crosswise into 1 1/2 wide ribbons.  

In a large, deep skillet, heat the olive oil and butter over medium heat.  Add the garlic, red pepper flakes, bay leaves, and lemon slices.  Saute for a couple of minutes, until the lemon starts to get soft and the garlic gets golden. 

Add the escarole, sauteing it until it starts to wilt, about 2 minutes.  Add a sprinkle of sugar, salt, and pepper.   Add the water or broth and cover.  Simmer for about 20 minutes, until the escarole is tender.  I removed the lid around 18 minutes because there was a lot of liquid in the pot and I wanted to boil some of it off. 

I served it along side the custard with a couple slices of ciabatta from a local bakery to soak up the juices from the escarole.  So good!

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The thing about being a food blogger is that you always have random photos of food in your camera.  My husband and I headed out yesterday for a sailboat cruise with friends on the San Francisco bay.  So uploading the pictures today was interesting, as sandwiched between pictures like this:

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were pictures of this:

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Nothing like bringing yourself back to your mundane life like a picture of potatoes.

It’s really OK though because these potatoes made a delicious potato salad.

The recipe comes from my husband’s mother, and he thinks it originated with his grandmother.  We have no idea if she invented it or pulled it out of some 1930s women’s magazine.  I’d love to know because I’ve never had potato salad that’s anything like this.  It uses some seemingly weird ingredients, like mint and white vinegar, but it’s really simple and really delicious.

Potato Salad with Mint

Ingredients
6-8 waxy potatoes
1 cup mayo
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup mint, coursely chopped
a splash or two of distilled white vinegar (not the fancy white wine vinegar, but basic white vinegar)
Salt and pepper to taste

The original recipe also suggests the option of adding chopped celery or green pepper, but I like the simplicity of the salad without those things.

Directions
Boil the potatoes in salted water until tender.  The time will probably vary depending on the size and type of potato, so I’d start with 10 minutes and then check every couple minutes until it gets to a good texture.

When they are done cooking, remove from heat and drain.  After they’ve cooled, peel them and coarsely chop into bite size pieces.

Add the mint, onion, salt and pepper, mayo, and a teaspoon or so of the vinegar to the potatoes.  Gently stir to combine, being careful not to crush the potatoes.  Add a little more vinegar and salt and pepper if you want.

Chill the potato salad until you are ready to eat. 

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On Thursday, my husband finished his first year of business school.  This meant several days of celebrating…parties, Thai food at a fabulous neighborhood restaurant, a trip to the wonderful winery Jessup Cellars, and delicious Greek food at the Oakland Greek Festival.  Yes, we really did all this in three days.  So, when Sunday night came, I was tired, full, and ready to embrace nutrition once again.

We had some chard from our last CSA box, so I made this salad from the July 2004 issue of Food & Wine.  This is a fantastic way to prepare chard.  You can serve it warm or cold, and the yogurt-tahini dressing is delicious.  I think next time, I may add a can of chickpeas to it to make it a nice vegetarian main course.

Swiss Chard Salad with Garlicky Yogurt

Ingredients

1 medium red bell pepper
2 pounds Swiss chard, leaves only, finely chopped
Kosher salt
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
5 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 cup plain whole milk yogurt
1/4 cup tahini, at room temperature
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley

I changed a few things.  First, I used jarred roasted red peppers from Trader Joes.  Their peppers are both yellow and red, which made the salad extra colorful.  I used Greek yogurt instead of regular plain, and I only used about half the recommended tahini because it just seemed like a lot.  My suggestion would be to add the tahini in slowly, one tablespoon at a time, until you get the flavor you want.

Finally, instead of red pepper, I used Aleppo pepper.  While in Napa on Saturday, we swung by Oxbow Market and I bought some at the spice counter there and I was itching to try it out.  Aleppo pepper is essentially sun-dried peppers from Syria, ground up into tiny flakes. 

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 It’s got a wonderful, spicy, smoky taste.  To approximate the flavor, you can mix 3 parts smoked paprika with 1 part cumin, though you won’t get the interesting, oily texture of the dried peppers.  If you add a bit of water to it, the peppers reconstitute somewhat and make a thin paste.

Directions

If you aren’t using jarred peppers, roast the red bell pepper directly over a gas flame or under a preheated broiler, turning as needed, until charred all over. Transfer the pepper to a bowl, cover and let steam for 10 minutes. Peel and seed the pepper, then cut it into 1/4-inch dice.

Put the Swiss chard in a large colander set in the sink. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of salt over the chard and toss it through the chard, rubbing it in.   Let stand for 1 minute, then rinse the chard, and squeeze dry.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large skillet. Add 2 of the minced garlic cloves and cook over moderate heat until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Add the Swiss chard and cook, stirring, until tender, about 7 minutes.  Add the roasted red pepper and cook for 1 minute.  If you want to serve cold, transfer the vegetables to a platter and spread them in an even layer until they cool.  Otherwise, serve them up right out of the pan.

In a medium bowl, mix the yogurt with the tahini, lemon juice, and the remaining 3 minced garlic cloves.  Season with salt.  Spoon the yogurt sauce over the Swiss chard.

If you are using the pepper flakes, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a small skillet.  Add the crushed red pepper and cook over moderately high heat until the pepper begins to sizzle, about 10 seconds.  Pour the pepper oil over the yogurt sauce.  If you have Aleppo pepper, mix one teaspoon of the pepper with two teaspoons of water.  Let it sit for a few minutes, then spoon it over the yogurt sauce.

I didn’t have any parsley, but if you do, sprinkle some on just before serving.

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I’ve been curious about Nate Appleman of San Francisco’s A16 and SPQR ever since I saw him battle Michael Symon on Iron Chef.  Now that he just won a James Beard Award for Rising Star Chef, going to one of his restaurants is topping my list of things to do this summer.  In the meantime, however, this month’s Food and Wine magazine comes through with a couple of his recipes.

We got a huge bunch of asparagus in our farm share on Friday, so it seemed like a good opportunity to try his Smoky Glazed Asparagus recipe.  I never would have thought to marinade vegetables in a mayonnaise-based sauce before cooking them, but it works.  Most of the sauce cooks off as you grill them, so they don’t taste mayo-y at all, but rather, get this great creamy, charred taste to them.

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The recipe comes in two versions, so if you want to make Sean Hannity cry, you can opt for the fancy mustard flavor.

Smoky Glazed Asparagus

Ingredients

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tablespoon sweet smoked paprika 
1 teaspoon kosher salt  (The recipe called for 2 teaspoons, which was way too much.)
1 teaspoon cumin seeds  (I used 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin powder.)
1 pound thick asparagus, trimmed

Directions

Light a grill. In a shallow dish, whisk the mayonnaise with the oil, lemon juice, garlic, paprika, salt and cumin. Add the asparagus and toss; let stand for 30 minutes.

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Grill the asparagus over moderately high heat, turning, until tender and blistered in spots, 6 minutes; serve.

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I have been wanting to try farro for a while now. I see it occassionally in magazines or on cooking shows, so last week, I finally just decided to buy a bag and see what all the fuss is about.
Oh my god, it is so good. It tastes like a cross between bulgar and arborio (risotto) rice. It’s nutty, and both chewy and creamy tasting. It’s really good. It’s expensive, but a little goes a long way. It’s also incredibly good for you, with lots of fiber and protein. Definitely check it out.
I stumbled upon this recipe by googling “farro recipes” and going for the first thing that involved items from my Friday CSA delivery. I made a couple changes because I wanted to serve the dish warm, though I think it would work cold too.
This recipe is pretty flexible, so feel free to adjust it based on what you’ve got at home. It makes a ton. I served it as a side dish for dinner, but reheated leftovers the next day for lunch without anything thing else. I’ve still got some leftover, so next time, I’ll probably just halve the recipe.
Finally, the original recipe notes that it is great with a Neanderthal diet, so serve this to your cavemen friends.
Warm Winter Greens and Farro Salad
Ingredients
6 Handfuls mixed salad greens, washed and dried (I used spinach and arugula)
2 Cups farro, rinsed and drained
5 Cups water (or stock)
2 Teaspoons fine-grain sea salt
1 orange, zest and juice
1 shallot, chopped
1/3 Cup Parmesan, freshly shredded
1 Tablespoon white wine vinegar
1/2 Cup good quality olive oil
2 Pinchs salt
1/2 Cup Spanish almonds, or toasted regular almonds (I used walnuts)
1/2 cup goat cheese, crumbled
Directions
Combine the farro, salt, and water in a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the farro is tender, 45 minutes to an hour, or about half the time if you are using semi-pearled farro. Taste often as it is cooking, you want it to be toothsome and retain structure.
While the grains are simmering make the dressing. Whisk together the orange juice, orange zest, shallot, Parmesan cheese, white wine vinegar, and olive oil. Salt to taste and set aside.
Just before serving, in a large bowl, toss the salad greens with a bit of the dressing. Add the goat cheese and nuts.
Remove the farro from the stove and drain any excess water. While it is still very warm, add it to the greens mixture, and add another splash of the dressing. Toss again, and add more dressing or salt if needed.
That’s it. The final dish was delicious. If you wanted to serve it cold, I’d recommend holding off on adding the goat cheese until after everything was mixed up. I just put it in before adding the warm farro because I knew it would melt anyway.
I wish I had a better picture of this, but this is what I’ve got. It’s really, really good. I may become a farro addict now.

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