Photos by Zachary Cross
In 2007 Crabtree Farms first offered CSA shares. We wanted to support local food, and we loved the convenient location (about 10 minutes away), so we signed up. It was so much fun to go pick up our box of food each week, check out the farm, and get to know folks at Crabtree. We had been cooking from scratch for a long time, and I grew up with plenty of fresh food, but it was still quite the learning curve for us! We had four kids at home and our youngest was still a baby. Some weeks we weren’t so sure what to do with our food or we just ran out of time to use one week’s produce before the next came in. Amazingly, we did not have anything go bad on us that year but some weeks we had a lot to work with!
One week I listened to a review of Jack Bishop’s Vegetables Every Day and decided to check it out of the library. This cookbook is arranged in alphabetical order, one chapter per vegetable, 66 vegetables (or groups of vegetables), and at least 365 recipes total. Whenever we had a vegetable that puzzled us we were usually able to find a recipe or even several for it. I decided pretty quickly that it was a cookbook worth purchasing for our family.
One vegetable we had not worked with much in the past and found in our share was the leek. A member of the allium family, along with garlic and onions, leeks are sweeter and can stand alone as well as accompany other ingredients. Preparing and serving them on their own is generally my preferred way of making them. The sweet, oniony flavor shines through and rewards my prep work and cleaning.
Preparing leeks is not quite as simple as peeling an onion or clove of garlic. Dirt tends to get in leek’s layers and needs to be flushed out. Thankfully Bishop includes a method for getting leeks clean. Here’s how Bishop says to do it:
“Trim and discard the dark green tops and tough outer leaves from the leeks. Remove the roots along with a very thin slice of the nearby white part. (If you are slicing the leeks for soup, you can remove a thicker slice. However, if you are cooking halved leeks, don’t remove too much from the bottom or the layers will fall apart.)
"Halve the leeks lengthwise and wash them under cold, running water. Gently spread apart but do not separate the inner layers to remove all traces of soil. If the leeks are particularly sandy, soak them in several changes of clean water. At this point the leeks are ready to be cooked or sliced further for use in soups or as a seasoning.”
The only things I would add are to remove any tough outer layers (these do not soften well during cooking) and don’t discard your leek trimmings. Use them to make yummy vegetable or meat stock.
Once prepped the leeks can be simply cooked in butter in a covered skillet. That’s enough to enjoy leek’s flavor but that flavor can be taken up a notch. Bishop has a recipe for red wine braised leeks but that flavor combination doesn’t make sense to me (try it if it does to you - to each his or her own!). I’ve added some white wine to my sauteed leeks at the end of cooking, simmering just long enough to reduce the wine a bit and allow the leeks to soak up some flavor. Yum! Bishop has another variation on the sauteed and that is to add parmesan cheese to the leeks and broil briefly until browned. I used asiago instead but otherwise followed his instructions. Yum again! The whites were creamy and the greens crisp and browned. Here’s the original recipe, plus the variations.
From Vegetables Every Day by Jack Bishop
The leeks are cooked in a covered pan with a little butter until almost tender, then the lid is removed and the leeks are cooked until lightly browned. Don’t try this recipe with leeks thicker than ¾ inch; they won’t soften properly. Serve with chicken or fish. (note from Heather: I think thicker leeks would be fine; you’ll be removing a good bit of the outer layers. Perhaps cook longer under cover)
4 medium leeks
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Freshly ground pepper
Variation: Crispy Leeks with Parmesan (pictured below)
An excellent accompaniment to egg dishes
Preheat the broiler. Prepare the leeks as directed, through step 3, cooking them in an ovenproof skillet. Dust the browned leeks with ⅓ cup grated Parmesan (note from Heather: I used Asiago and a little bit more) and broil until the cheese is golden brown and bubbly, no more than a few minutes. Serve immediately.
Printable recipe here
Photos by Zachary Cross
I remember the first time I made hash browns at home. Actually, a friend that was staying with us offered to make them just like his mom did. He confidently shredded them and prepared to fry them, then was horrified to find that they had turned pink! Who knew that one of our common foods, that seems so simple, could be so complicated?
Potatoes are often considered comfort food. Starchy and mild, they can be baked, fried, or boiled; whole, sliced, or shredded. They are yummy fairly plain, with some salt and butter, or as a complement to more complex flavors.
Potatoes are native to South America in the Andes but have been a staple crop around the world for over 400 years. They’re members of the nightshade family, and potato vines resemble tomato vines, at least from a distance. We tend to associate the potato with the russet, a mealy potato with a brown skin and white flesh. But planting a single variety of potato is boring, and, the Irish found out in the 1800s, downright dangerous. The Lumper potato was as unappetizing (to modern tastes) as it sounds, but, more importantly, put most of the Irish’s caloric eggs in one basket. When it was hit with a blight, more than a million people died, and many who were left emigrated to America. It, too, was a white potato, and is the reason white potatoes are referred to as Irish. But potatoes in South America are are not merely white, or even smooth, or one shape or size. We’re seeing a variety of shapes and sizes coming to market: red, yellow, and blue, large and small, fingerlings and round. But there are even more variations: multicolored, knobby, and even black. Maybe one day we’ll see them here in Chattanooga!
Although there are flavor and texture distinctions among various potato varieties, many are interchangeable in recipes. In addition, recipe authors online are divided on the best potato for hash browns. Some say to use dry potatoes like russets, others that newer, wetter and waxier potatoes have better structure. So that’s going to be a personal preference. If you find your new potato hash browns to come out too wet, you can try russets. Or you can spread the hash browns thinner. Or, maybe you don’t mind a wetter texture to the finished product and they’re great!
Color is definitely going to be a matter of personal taste. I have not made hash browns with all red or blue potatoes. I love their colors, though, so hopefully I’ll get a chance to try it! It can be disconcerting, however, to find your white potatoes turning pink as you work with them. As it turns out, they oxidize, just as other fruits and vegetables do, only they turn pink instead of brown. If you’re making a single serving of hash browns, or having very fresh potatoes, you’re probably fine. Otherwise, dump your grated potatoes in water as you go and then drain well when you are ready to mix them up and cook them. Then squeeze out all the water as best you can, either using a potato ricer or (as I do) squeezing them in a dish towel.
This recipe was originally written for frozen, grated potatoes. That’s what I used at first, but I realized it’s quicker to grate them in my food processor than wait for the frozen ones to thaw. Now I can use market potatoes as well. Win-win! The frozen potatoes are nice and dry, though, so it took a couple of tries for me to get the recipe right with fresh potatoes. Squeeze them well!
I really like the seasonings that are in this recipe. I tend to eat my potatoes fairly plain, albeit salty, but this seasoning combo works out well. As usual, we don’t have garlic powder around so I’ve used garlic oil (reduce the butter), pressed garlic, or garlic chives (at the end) instead. I also use fresh thyme instead of the dried, adding a little more on top after baking. Definitely top this with something green: parsley, chives, thyme, a combination, or whatever fresh herbs you have on hand and like. Cilantro would work well with the cumin and garlic, maybe leave off the thyme.
Adapted from Zesty Baked Hash Brown Recipe on A Spicy Perspective
2 pounds potatoes
1 stick butter, melted (1/2 cup)
2 large eggs
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and line a large baking pan with parchment paper.
Peel potatoes (optional). Shred on a box grater or food processor, adding shredded potatoes to a large bowl of cold water as you go. When all of your potatoes are shredded, drain, then squeeze dry in a potato ricer or kitchen towel. (see Simply Recipes for visuals and tips)
Whisk the eggs in a small bowl then pour over the potatoes. Add the shredded cheese, salt, cumin, thyme and garlic powder. Toss to coat. Then pour the melted butter over the top and toss to coat again.
Spread the potato mixture evenly over the baking sheet. Place in the oven and bake for approximately 40 minutes. Cut and serve warm.
Printable recipe here
Photos by Zachary Cross
I love Indian food and saag paneer is one of my favorite dishes. I was always disappointed with the amount of paneer I would receive at restaurants. I was so excited to find out that I could easily make this dish at home.
One Christmas we received Madhur Jaffrey’s World Vegetarian as a gift. We had not heard of Jaffrey before this but she is a distinguished actress, from Merchant Ivory films (she and her former husband are credited with bringing together Merchant and Ivory), to, more recently, an episode of New Girl. While living in London in the 1950s she was disgusted by the food, both British and Indian, available at the time. She asked her mother for recipes from home and learned to cook them, improvising with available ingredients.
Thanks to publicity that went along with her first feature film, Shakespeare-Wallah, she was known as the “actress who can (also) cook”. She began writing cookbooks to help support her family and now is the author of at least thirty of them. Many of them are primarily Indian food, but World Vegetarian, as the name implies, has recipes from around the world. It’s organized first by chapters highlighting vegetarian ingredients, followed by chapters on types of dishes.
Cheese can be a challenging food to make, with many steps. There are many types of cheeses, though, and some are fairly simple to make. Cottage cheese, farmer’s cheese, queso blanco, and paneer are some of those. All you need are milk and an acid for paneer. Some people use lemon or lime juice, others, vinegar. This recipe calls for distilled white (I assume because of the lack of taste) but I always use unseasoned rice or white wine vinegar. I’ve always used cow’s milk, originally pasteurized and homogenized from the store, but now from my milk share. I understand that water buffalo and goat milk have been used as well, so if your milk of choice is goat you should be able to use that. You may want to Google for more information as I do not have any experience with it, though. If you are dairy-free you can substitute tofu for the paneer. I have made it that way and it is good, but I prefer paneer.
Saag paneer is a dish we typically associate with spinach, but saag is a word used for all greens and palak is the Hindi word for spinach. This is a dish made with whatever greens are available and/or preferred, making it a perfect market dish in the cooler months. Mustard is a traditional green used and often what we use, in combination with spinach, when we have it. Mustard is spicy when raw or lightly cooked but when long cooked it loses its heat and instead adds a depth of flavor that plain spinach lacks.
Although we have not used fenugreek leaves, we have otherwise made this recipe exactly as written. But it does lend itself well to variations, and not just in the greens - and that is how we usually make it. We make it very mild for our family but you can increase the heat to taste, either during cooking or at the table. I do not add the cornmeal any longer and have not noticed a difference myself. We use canned tomatoes in winter, and fresh in the warmer months. We rarely use the cinnamon but we might add additional spices such as curry leaves, basil, fenugreek powder (from the seeds), and toasted mustard seeds.
When it is time to mash or blend the saag, think about how you prefer it and choose a method that matches that. Many restaurants blend theirs to nearly a fine puree, probably accomplished with a blender. I prefer the texture well mashed with a potato masher, or an immersion blender used sparingly.
Serve this dish with rice or flatbread. Jeffrey made a split pea dahl to go with our supper and one of the kids topped their saag paneer with it. Not a traditional way to eat it but it makes a lovely photograph!
From Madhur Jaffrey’s World Vegetarian via Food.com
2 quarts rich whole milk
3-4 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
Put the milk in a large, heavy pan and set over medium-high heat.
Meanwhile, place a colander in the sink and line it with a clean dish towel or 3-4 layers of cheesecloth at least 24 inches square.
When the milk begins to boil, turn the heat down to low. Quickly add 3 tablespoons of the vinegar and stir. The mixture will curdle at this point, the thin, greenish whey completely separating from the white fluffy curds. If this does NOT happen, add the remaining tablespoon of vinegar and repeat the process.
Empty the mixture into the lined colander. Most of the whey will drain out.
To make small patty: allow most of the whey to drain out of the colander. As soon as the curds have drained, gather up the ends of the cheesecloth and twist to squeeze out as much water as possible. You will now have a round bundle and a well-twisted section of cloth just above it, which you can tie firmly with string or just leave tightly twisted.
Lay the cloth and its contents on a flat board set in the sink. Flatten the bundle into a pastry shape, making sure that the twisted section or knot holds the cheese in place. This section can be folded over to one side. Put another board on top of the patty. Now put a 5-pound weight on the patty and press for 3-4 minutes. The cheese is now ready. It may be unwrapped, covered with a clean, damp cloth, and kept in the refrigerator for 24 hour but is best if used immediately.
Cut Paneer into 1 x 3/4-inch cubes. Set aside until last step in recipe.
1 ¾ lbs fresh spinach, trimmed, washed, and coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons dried fenugreek leaves or 2 -3 handfuls of fresh fenugreek leaves (optional)
1 fresh hot green chili pepper, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon cornmeal
3 tablespoons peanut oil or 3 tablespoons canola oil
¼ cup onion, finely chopped
1 ½ by 1-inch fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated to a pulp
1 cup tomatoes, finely chopped
1 ¼ teaspoons salt
1 ½-2 teaspoons ground roasted cumin seeds (Put a few tablespoons of cumin seeds in a small cast-iron frying pan over medium-high heat, stirred )
¼ teaspoon cayenne
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Bring 1 cup of water to boil in a large pan. Put in the washed spinach, dried or fresh fenugreek leaves, if using, and green chile. Cover the pan and cook gently for 25 minutes.
Blend or mash the spinach until you have a coarse puree. Blend in the cornmeal and cook gently for another 5 minutes, stirring now and then.
In a separate frying pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. When hot, add the onion and stir and fry until it begins to brown.
Add the ginger and stir once or twice, then add the tomatoes and cook over medium-low heat for 10 minutes, or until the texture thickens and the color of the tomatoes intensifies.
Stir the tomato mixture into the spinach mixture, then add the salt, roasted cumin, cayenne, and cinnamon and stir to mix.
Cook gently for 5 minutes.
Finally, add the cubed paneer, stir gently, and cook, covered, on low heat for 5 minutes. Serve hot.
Photos by Zachary Cross
This recipe is possibly the fastest this month. It’s a twist on tacos or burritos, a Mexican-style filling in sweet potatoes instead of a tortilla.
Sweet potatoes have enjoyed a resurgence in popularity, and are not merely the ingredient in a holiday casserole topped with marshmallows. Followers of the Paleo diet use them in place of Irish potatoes or cut into various types of noodles, among other uses. Unlike traditional white potatoes that are members of the nightshade family (which include tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant), sweet potatoes are related to morning glories. Also different from the Irish potato, sweet potatoes have edible greens. And though the sweet potato roots have a long storage time, the greens have a pretty short shelf life, so look for them around harvest time in fall - or ask a farmer about availability.
Sweet potatoes are not only the familiar dark orange “yams” (they’re not yams at all, but that’s a common name for them), but are also white, purple, and a more yellow-orange. I find the flavors all different but similar and have a hard time describing the differences. Note that a white sweet potato tastes very little like an Irish potato. It seems sweeter to me than an orange one, and drier, though still more moist than a regular potato.
This recipe was originally published in the October issue of Real Simple, probably reaching subscribers in September. It’s a time when summer and fall vegetables overlap. So this recipe has not only sweet potatoes but it also has zucchini in the filling. I made this in December when zucchini is long gone. I did not want to replace it with a squash such as butternut; that seems too similar to the orange sweet potato to me. Acorn squash are pretty neutral, both in color and flavor so I went with a half an acorn squash to replace the zucchini. It worked well, though it was a bit more prep to peel and seed.
Real Simple says to be sure to save any leftovers for future tacos or nachos. This is a yummy recipe but if you want any leftovers be sure to double the recipe at least! We ate it all for supper and could have used some more.
To make this a quick supper Real Simple recommends cooking your sweet potatoes in the microwave. I find they cook unevenly and dry out in the microwave. An excellent alternative if you don’t have time to cook them in the oven is to use a slow cooker. Both Irish potatoes and sweet potatoes cook well all day on low in a slow cooker. Some of my family members prefer regular potatoes over sweet so I put sweet potatoes in the bottom of my slow cooker and white potatoes on top. I figured the sweet potatoes would create the most juice and it would be preferable for them to be on bottom. Some suggestions I found online said to poke holes in them or wrap in foil but I did neither. At the end of they day they were perfect! I think I prefer them that way to baked in the oven. If you have multiple slow cookers you can also cook black beans instead of using canned, making it possible to use another product I see at market sometimes: dried beans. There are also tricks and tips online for using one slow cooker to make more than one dish at a time, usually using foil or slow cooker bags, but alternately oven-proof dishes.
However you cook your potatoes and beans, the rest of the recipe is a quick sauté. I snubbed cayenne and chose cumin instead - and added a little more. All-around this a pretty basic, simple recipe.
Adapted from Zucchini and Black Bean Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
4 medium sweet potatoes (about 8 oz. each)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
½ acorn squash (about 8 oz.), peeled and chopped
1 cup sliced yellow onion
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (add or substitute ½ tsp ground cumin, to taste)
1 (15-oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
2 ounces white Cheddar cheese, shredded (about ½ cup)
sour cream, cilantro, lime wedges, and green salad, for serving
Photos by Zachary Cross
I was pretty disappointed in this recipe at first. It seemed to make a potentially simple recipe way too hard and the taste was so-so as well. I was sad at the thought of having a fail!
It didn’t help that I did not have a whole chicken to work with like I thought I did. Part of the appeal of the original recipe I worked with, Chicken “Under a Brick”, is to butterfly the chicken and brown it nicely in order to speed up the cooking time - not necessary with the chicken drumsticks and thighs I did have. I did go ahead brown the chicken in the skillet before adding the veggies, then baked as directed. I suppose because I had browned it the chicken was done but the vegetables were not quite done. It was okay, but not more than okay and overall result was definitely not worth the effort of butterflying a chicken and browning it. Also, I loved the flavor of the coriander but it was not enough.
When it came down to it the recipe is pretty similar to a Chicken Broccoli Bake I’ve made before. The Chicken Broccoli Bake is definitely quick, easy, and in one pan (though not a skillet). In fact I think my daughter was the first person in our house to make it. I had all the ingredients on hand, planned to make it for supper, then came down with a virus. My daughter came to the rescue and we were still able to eat a good supper that night. I’ve made it several times since then, though it’s a very basic recipe and I’ve wondered how I could improve it while keeping things simple.
I tried again by combining elements of both recipes - it seemed like it had the potential to be tasty that way. I doubled the coriander and used a bit of garlic olive oil (olive oil with roasted garlic stored in it). I used melted palm oil for the rest of my oil. I didn’t bother browning the chicken but I did rub it with the salt, pepper and 1 teaspoon coriander. Including broccoli as well as mushrooms made for a nice color contrast. I mixed the veggies separately with oil and remaining seasonings, spread them in a large jellyroll pan, and placed the chicken drumsticks and thighs on top. I baked a little longer than directed and this time both the veggies and the chicken were done at the same time.
The flavor was so much better! Using a jelly roll pan instead of a skillet or 9 x 13 pan (as in the Chicken Broccoli Bake) let the juices evaporate - but not too much. This helped the vegetables caramelize nicely instead of steaming as they did in my other attempts.
Mushrooms were scarce at the market when I made this so I used the baby portobellos called for. I think other types of mushrooms would work well and I hope to get to try it with shiitakes soon.
This recipe also works with one to two pounds of tofu in place of the chicken. Start with a pound, see if it looks like enough to suit you, then cut up your second pound if it’s not. Jeffrey preferred less tofu over more. Use more oil, up to ½ cup total, and season the tofu separately to keep it from breaking too much. I also tried sautéing the tofu version and that worked well. You’d need to halve the recipe or use more than one pan for a stovetop version but if you’d prefer working with a stove rather than the oven know that’s an option.
This is such a pretty recipe with all the color and shape contrasts. Arrange the vegetables in a lovely pattern or mix them up willy nilly - it will all taste good and still be attractive.
Inspired by Chicken Under a Brick from Real Simple
And Chicken Broccoli Bake from Our Paleo Life
8 chicken legs and/or thighs
¼ cup olive or melted palm oil, divided
2 teaspoons ground coriander, divided
½ teaspoon pepper, divided
1 teaspoon salt, divided
1 large onion, divided into 12 wedges
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes
4 oz baby portobello mushrooms, halved
1 small head of broccoli, divided into florets, stalks peeled and cubed
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
Preheat oven to 400°. Rub with 1 tablespoon of the oil and sprinkle evenly with 1 teaspoon coriander, ¼ teaspoon pepper, and ½ teaspoon of the salt. Set aside.
Toss together the onion, sweet potato, mushrooms, garlic, and the remaining oil and salt. Arrange the vegetables in a single layer in a 16" x 12" jellyroll pan. Place the chicken skin side up on the vegetables. Bake in oven until the chicken is cooked through and the vegetables are tender and lightly browned, about one hour. Serve sprinkled with the oregano.
Photos by Zachary Cross
Frittata is a great dish to make with holiday leftovers and I can nearly make one in my sleep. I like trying new things, though, and this recipe for Kale and Goat Cheese Frittata was an opportunity to expand my frittata repertoire.
As long as you are not allergic, or eating a vegan diet, eggs are a marvelous food source. They are a complete source of protein and good source of many vitamins and minerals. Hens that are pasture raised have an even higher level of nutrition than those raised conventionally. Eggs are also an excellent value, even at prices that are perhaps higher than you may be used to at the grocery store.
One thing to be careful about with market eggs, at least for certain recipes, is size. If it’s a new to you recipe, or one whose structure is dependent on eggs (for instance, a cake) I advise weighing your eggs. Most recipes use large eggs and the weight range for large eggs is 2-2.25 oz. When I was making this recipe I decided to weigh my eggs, despite it not being crucial for the recipe, and found I only needed 9 eggs instead of ten! So weighing them can save you money as well as the final product.
Another thing to keep in mind is availability. It can vary at the market from week to week. The dark days of winter and the hot days in summer are two times that egg production can suffer but availability does not always follow logic or weather. If you have refrigerator room stock up when your farmer has them to tide you over weeks that they are not available. Although I have heard that eggs are safe up to six months refrigerated the narrower 4-6 weeks recommended by most sources is plenty for most people. If you need more time or space cracking the eggs and freezing them keeps them for up to a year.
As I mentioned above, frittatas are great for using up leftovers. Cooked, especially roasted, veggies; meats; and cheeses are all good for flavoring your frittata and filling out your meal. Generally at our house we think that a frittata must include potatoes. I wasn’t sure if there would be a revolt since this one didn’t! I played it safe and made baked hash browns (recipe in a future post). Although the hash browns were appreciated I did not hear any comments or complaints about potatoes missing in this dish, either.
Another unusual thing for us in a frittata is the inclusion of milk. We use milk and/or cream in quiche but not in frittata. A half cup is just enough to make it a lighter, fluffier frittata than one made only with egg. Feel free to substitute your favorite non-dairy milk, replace with another egg, or leave it out altogether.
We usually use hard cheese to top our frittata, so goat cheese was an interesting change of pace. My family members are big fans of goat cheese, too, so they were very excited to see it topping their slices. When I was sprinkling it on top 4oz seemed as if would be too much. I only used about half that and served the rest on the side.
The seasonings were new to us, too. I had never put mustard in a frittata before but when my youngest took a bite she said “It tastes like deviled eggs! In a good way,” so I’ll call that a success. I’m embarrassed to say I completely forgot the dill. Even though it’s not my first choice of herbs (probably why I forgot it) I can see how it would work well with this dish.
Although kale is called for and certainly yummy, other greens will work fine, too. I think arugula or broccoli rabe would be especially good. Just don’t expect all greens to have the same volume as curly kale. Here’s another use for your kitchen scale.
Frittata is thick and full of veggies and has to be cooked carefully to be done all the way through without burning. Our first attempts at frittata were pretty comical as we slid them out on a plate, flipped them over, and slid them back into the pan. Or just flipped them directly into another pan to finish cooking. As you might guess, this could go wrong and get very messy. (I blame Martha, but at least she got us cooking frittata.) The oven is the easiest way to finish off the cooking. However, Real Simple and I part ways slightly on cooking method. After the greens are cooked I take all the vegetables out of the pan and begin cooking the eggs with a little butter. I scramble them a bit as I go, then when a solid bottom layer is firm I turn off the heat on the stove, evenly distribute veggies and cheese, and pop it under the broiler. Why bake for 20-25 minutes when you can broil for five to ten (depending on the size and thickness)?
We don’t have a non-stick skillet that can go in the oven. We use a stainless steel pan instead. The advantages are that it’s dishwasher safe and we can use a knife on it. The disadvantage, of course, is the sticking. I used some butter with the eggs and tried to cook them quickly but not too long. I need to give my cast iron skillet a try as that is well seasoned and may work better. If you use non-stick be sure to use a non metal spoon or spatula for scooping out your supper.
From Real Simple October 2016
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup chopped yellow onion (from 1 medium onion)
4 cups chopped curly kale (about 3½ oz.)
10 large eggs
½ cup whole milk
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1¼ teaspoons kosher salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
4 ounce (1 cup) goat cheese, crumbled
1 tablespoon fresh dill leaves
Photos by Zachary Cross
December is a busy time for many people. If you have children in school there are the extra holiday school activities, exams, and projects. Those without children may find themselves attending more get-togethers, shopping, and having extra time with extended family, travelling or hosting guests. So I’m planning on presenting meals that are quicker but still use whole foods from the market. I will provide gluten-free and vegetarian options with each meal and suggestions with some on how to use holiday leftovers.
Three of December’s meals will be one-skillet meals, so that at the very least, you will only have one pot to wash at the end of the meal. They’re taken from Real Simple’s October issue which has six recipes for “Skillet Dinners.” I highly recommend Real Simple for recipes that are quicker to make but still use real and seasonal ingredients. The easiest way to search for recipes is to Google the recipe and/or ingredient(s) plus “Real Simple recipes.” Real Simple’s own search engine on their site is not that great. For example Googling “real simple recipes brussels sprouts,” brings up a page of results, the first being “11 Easy Recipes for Brussels Sprouts” (this includes a variation on last week’s roasted Brussels and grapes).
Real Simple’s recipes often serve four. If you are serving more people and/or hungry teens or athletes there are simple ways to round out the meal. Salad or bread are obvious choices. Adding a steamed vegetable, while also adding another pot to wash, takes little time (made while the main dish finishes in the oven) and doesn’t dirty the pot much. With this meal I served fresh, raw, snap peas I bought at market. They were a nice green contrast to the pot pie. And super easy!
The first meal I’m presenting this month is probably the longest one to make, depending on the options you choose. The time it takes is more about the prep time which in the original recipe includes cutting up a chuck roast, rolling pastry dough, peeling and chopping butternut squash, and prepping leeks. You can save time by choosing meat already cut up (e.g., CoLyCo Farms often has “stew meat” at market), using onions instead of leeks (though I love leeks and think they are usually worth the prep time), choosing root veggies instead of butternut squash, and by using a different topping for the pie.
I made two pies to accommodate my semi-vegetarian family and my own wheat allergy. I could have made one vegetarian pie with a wheat-free topping but I really wanted to try the beef. It’s just as well; there were no leftovers of the vegetarian pie and few of the beef! This recipe was well rated by my family overall.
To make the beef pie wheat-free I used leftover Thanksgiving mashed potatoes for the topping. And, yes, the color in the photo is correct: they are pink. Jeffrey nearly always includes roasted beet puree in his mashed potatoes, at least for special occasions. I think this started as a way to use up the abundant beets in our CSA share (we like beets, but not in the quantity we received that year) but was so well received that he’s made it a tradition. I used the same water/egg mixture to brush on top of the mashed potatoes before baking. I divided the egg mixture into two cups and used one on each pie. I’m not sure it helped the browning like it did on the pastry but perhaps it would have with a longer cooking time. I was ready to eat it rather than wait and find out!
I also replaced the flour with arrowroot flour for thickening. I’ve read both that arrowroot holds up well to long cooking but also that it does not. I decided to play it safe and add it last, just before adding the topping. I used a proportion of 1 teaspoon arrowroot for every tablespoon of flour called for total (I did not coat the beef with any at the beginning of the cooking process). I mixed it well with a little cold water, then stirred it into the meat and veggie mixture. The arrowroot held up fine with the final cooking time in the oven.
For the vegetarian version I replaced the meat with a pound of mushrooms cut in cubes and used a couple of tablespoons of palm oil to make up for the lost beef fat (more olive oil should be fine, too). The beef stock I replaced with homemade veggie stock . I used arrowroot powder in this version, also, so I could enjoy a little of the filling, too. Otherwise I made it according to the original recipe, including the puff pastry on top. I used a purchased, frozen puff pastry, though there is a recipe on the blog that is supposed to be simple to make, and can be made ahead of time.
If you are making this gluten-free you will want to make sure your beer is gluten-free or otherwise replace it. One option is to include more broth. Tasty homemade broth is easily made from scraps you might otherwise discard. My favorites are mushroom stems, leek and celery trimmings, carrot ends, and parmesan rinds. Bones, cooked or raw, add flavor and gelatin to meat stocks. If I’m not ready to use them right away I save my scraps in small bags stored together in a larger, labeled bag in the freezer. These scraps defrost quickly when I want them for a stock.
Another alternative to the beer is cola. I’ve not tried it and it sounds awfully sweet but the soda is supposed to tenderize the meat and I can see how the dark flavor would work well. Reeds and Blue Sky offer naturally flavor, cane sugar-sweetened options (as opposed to corn syrup based). Other options include red wine vinegar (perhaps use ¼ cup vinegar and ¼ cup extra broth) or red wine. I tolerate wheat-free beer so I used Chattanooga Brewing’s Chestnut Street Brown Ale. It’s not a stout but it’s dark enough, it’s yummy, and it’s local!
If you are feeling adventurous (or, more likely for me, lazy) use leftovers to replace the original recipe ingredients. This could range from a whole pie made from leftovers, such as in the pot pie recipe the puff pastry recipe came from, one ingredient replacement as I used, or somewhere in between. Adjust the cooking times as necessary.
From Real Simple
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound boneless chuck roast, fat trimmed, cut into ¾-in. pieces
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour, divided
1½ cups chopped leeks (from 2 medium leeks)
1 cup chopped carrots (from 2 large carrots)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme, divided
½ cup stout beer (such as Guinness)
2½ cups beef stock
1 cup chopped butternut squash
½ (17.3-oz.) package of frozen puff pastry sheets, thawed
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon water
Photos by Zachary Cross
As a child I loved Brussels sprouts. I don’t mean I loved eating them. I’m pretty sure I refused to try them, and unfortunately that’s the culinary story of my childhood. I loved playing with them in my dad’s huge garden, peeling the tiny cabbages down to their core.
Have you ever seen Brussels sprouts growing? They are pretty comical, a tall plant with the little “sprouts” all along the stalk, sometimes with leaves only on top. Not unlike a tiny palmetto tree in shape. Sometimes farmers bring the sprouts to market on the stems, sometimes off.
As you might expect from their cabbage shape Brussels sprouts are yet another member of the brassica family. Although they can be steamed or boiled, their relatively large surface area to size ratio makes them a fabulous candidate for caramelizing, either by sautéeing or roasting. Roasting means less work, in my opinion, as you just put them in the oven and stir once during cooking.
I recently tried Brussels roasted with grapes at a party. It was a pretty simple dish with just the sprouts and grapes mixed with olive oil, roasted, and balsamic vinegar added at the end. I had never tried it before and was surprised at the plethora of recipes for it online. Many include thyme or nuts but I preferred the simplicity of just the grapes and Brussels (there were folks with nut allergies at the party). Roasting and caramelizing brings out the natural sweetness of a food. This sweetness was complemented by the grapes, and the texture contrast was good, too.
Martha’s version includes thyme, as do quite a few others. Some recipes call for the grapes to be cut, and others to roast the grapes separately. Save yourself some trouble and keep the grapes whole, the Brussels, too (unless they’re large), and roast them all one the same pan. Do add one more step that many recipes skip: toss your veggies with the seasonings and oil together in a bowl. Yes, it’s more to wash but it distributes the oil and seasonings so much more evenly and thoroughly that it’s worth it. You can wash that bowl pretty quickly while the roasting is happening.
Although red grapes are recommended for this recipe, it’s because of their looks, not taste. I had some of both red and green and used both. The green grapes end up looking like the sprouts once cooked, size and color wise - not a bad thing. The ratio of sprouts to grapes also varies in each recipe. Work with what you have and what seems good to you. I went with Martha’s ratio of about equal amounts by weight. A higher ratio of grapes might encourage a sprouts-shy kid while fewer grapes would be more appropriate for someone with less of a sweet tooth. And add nuts if you love them. Suggested nuts are walnuts, pecans, or almonds. Large pieces are preferable over small. Add nuts near the end of cooking if you only have small bits.
Finally, I added the vinegar near the end of cooking and put the pan back in the oven long enough for the dish to brown a little more. If you’re not cooking for vegetarians try adding some bacon.
Adapted from Foodie with Family
Photos by Zachary Cross
Happy Thanksgiving week! Today I’m going to link to previous side dish and dessert recipes on the blog that will work well for your Thanksgiving dinner, as well as share a recipe for a new twist on mashed potatoes. I love how you can buy nearly all that you need for your Thanksgiving meal at the market, from the turkey to dessert ingredients and all the side dishes in between.
There’s not a turkey recipe on the blog but this recipe for roasted chicken has a yummy-sounding maple-apricot glaze. There’s a classic stuffing recipe, a stuffed pumpkin, green beans, Holiday Broccoli Salad, Brown Butter Sweet Potato Cornbread, and Sweet and Spicy Brussels Sprouts. This weekend at a party I sampled some Brussels roasted with grapes and it was a fabulous combination. I don’t have the recipe, but this sounds close, minus the soy sauce. Moving on to dessert, there’s this technique for cooking your pumpkin. There’s apple pie, a Honey Pecan Pie, and Sweet Potato Pot de Creme. For your leftovers there is Second Helpings Pot Pie. Finally, some words of wisdom about hosting large holiday meals, plus another side dish. Also, you can use search bar on the right hand side of the page to help you find dishes to use your CSA share or market finds. Remember to include some ferments to help you digest all that food! Harvest Roots Ferments has fermented veggies and kombucha and Blue Indian Kombucha will fill your growler with their kombucha.
Turnips are a member of the brassica family, like broccoli but more resembling mustard greens on top and kohlrabi on the bottom - or a giant radish. Some turnip varieties are grown specifically for the tops; some mainly for the roots; and some are good for both. Unlike a potato, the top is always edible, so be sure to save your turnip tops to prepare alone or in combination with other greens.
I was looking for a new way to prepare turnips last week. I appreciate them raw, roasted, and braised, but I have not come to love a simple purée. I do love mashed potatoes, though. This recipe from Fashionable Foods calls for roasting turnips and potatoes together. Then they’re mashed with butter and milk, though they retain a good bit of texture. This makes for a chunky mashed potato dish with an extra punch of flavor from the browned bits and the turnips. Fresh thyme adds another layer of flavor and a nice color. Note: this is a fairly small recipe but should increase easily.
From: Fashionable Foods
6 Yukon Gold Potatoes (medium in size), peeled and cubed
2 Turnips, peeled and cubed
2 Tablespoons Extra-Light Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper
½ Cup Whole Milk, warmed
2 Tablespoons Butter, melted
1 Sprig Fresh Thyme, leaves removed from stem and finely chopped
Photos by Zachary Cross
“Then the sun peeped over the edge of the prairie and the whole world glittered. Every tiniest thing glittered rosy toward the sun and pale blue towards the sky, and along every blade of grass ran rainbow sparkles...the bitter frost had killed the hay and the garden. The tangled tomato vines with their red and green tomatoes, and the pumpkin vines holding their broad leaves over the green young pumpkins, were all glittering bright in frost...The frost had killed them. It would leave every living green thing dead...The vines were wilted down, soft and blackening, so they picked even the smallest green tomatoes. ‘What are you going to do with the green ones?,’ Laura asked, and Ma answered, ‘Wait and see.’” From The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder
It’s that time of year, or nearly so, depending on where you live in the Chattanooga area. The mountains have seen frost, and some of the valleys too. The end of the season potentially leaves unripe summer foods: peppers, squash, and tomatoes, to name a few. Ma Ingalls made good use of those green fruits that year, pickling the tomatoes and making a pie from a green pumpkin.
Yes, fruit. We often eat fruits of plants as vegetables, though pumpkins are as often made into desserts. Less often do people think of tomatoes as fruits or eat them sweet, though it was common in the Ingalls’ time to eat ripe tomatoes with sugar and cream. When I told Jeffrey, my husband, about this he tried out ripe tomatoes in his vanilla ice cream and declared it a winner.
Jeffrey’s love of tomatoes inspired my hunt for this week’s recipe. Traditionally for his birthday I’d made a fairly involved carrot cake, a really yummy recipe from Cook’s Illustrated. One year we returned home from vacation the day before his birthday. I did not have enough carrots in the fridge but I did have an abundance of green tomatoes in the garden. A new favorite was discovered! My kids are jealous that their birthdays fall in winter and spring when green tomatoes are not to be found.
There is one aspect to this recipe that resembles our favorite carrot cake: draining excess juices off the vegetable ingredient. The carrot cake recipe uses sugar, this recipe uses salt. Be sure to rinse and drain the tomatoes very well so the cake will be neither salty (the recipe does take into account any trace of residual salt) nor too wet.
Whatever variety of tomatoes you have will work with this recipe: cherries, large tomatoes, paste, any and all. If you don’t see green tomatoes at market, ask! That’s how I supplied the main ingredient for subsequent years’ birthday cakes.
I’m posting this recipe as originally written but my photo is of a cake made with brown sugar, hence the darker color. I also vary with the spices. Jeffrey loves ginger, so I usually include a teaspoon of dried ginger or more of fresh. This makes the cake taste like a moist gingerbread. I also cut back on the nutmeg and sometimes throw in some cloves. Tweak to your liking.
This is a cake made of a lot of tomatoes and a little batter. The batter starts out a little dry but the tomatoes add the final moisture needed. It’s a sweet batter, so cut back a little on the sugar if desired. It does not need a frosting but that can certainly be festive. Caramel sauce or chocolate sauce are other options to try as toppings.
4 cups chopped green tomatoes
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 cup butter
2 cups white sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
Place chopped tomatoes in a bowl and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon salt. Let stand 10 minutes. Place in a colander, rinse with cold water and drain.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9x13 inch baking pan.
Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and beat until creamy.
Sift together flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, soda and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Add raisins and nuts to dry mixture; add dry ingredients to creamed mixture. Dough will be very stiff. Mix well.
Add drained tomatoes and mix well. Pour into the prepared 9 x 13 inch pan.
Bake for 40 to 45 minutes in the preheated oven, or until toothpick inserted into cake comes out clean.
Go to Allrecipes for a printable recipe.
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