Monthly Archives: January 2012

Vegetables on My Mind

I’ve been thinking a lot about vegetables.  A lot. For months it seems.  And I am not the only one.  Vegetables seem to be finding their way into a new prominence among foodies.  We’re coming at them from different directions: Concerns about health, the allocation of resources, the efficacy and neutrality of our government’s food policy, the morality of animal factory farms, and even our renewed interest in gardening– all seem to propel us back to the vegetable patch (figuratively, if not literally).  I’ve been researching recipes, visiting restaurants where vegetables are prominent.  I’ve been experimenting, pulling vegetables to the center of my eating.  Below is a list of books, media, and places that have recently furthered this obsession.  Look them up. Check out their menus, their recipes, their ideas.  And if you are inspired to think a little more about vegetables yourself, it can only be a good thing, right?

  • Cru, in Silverlake, Los Angeles, CA
  • Elf Café, in Echo Park, Los Angeles, CA
  • Ferry Building Marketplace, San Francisco, CA
  • Food Matters, by Mark Bittman (Simon & Schuster, 2008)
  • Plenty,  by Yotam Ottolenghi (Chronicle Books, LLC, 2011)
  • Seva Restaurant, in Ann Arbor, MI
  • The Splendid Table, American Public Media. Radio.

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What To Do About Kale?

Peanut-Kale Salad

I don’t know why Kale intimidates me– no matter how many times I eat something delicious made with Kale, I still hesitate to pick it up at the store.  Seems like a mind block, one I need to get over.  Had a delicious shredded Kale salad with a peanut dressing at Seva Restaurant my last trip home.  I’ve been experimenting ever since. The texture of the Kale, the salty, crunch peanuts, and the sweet red peppers and carrots is addicting.  Once I come up with a reliable recipe, I’ll post it, but there are several starting places on-line. Let me know what you come up with!

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Braised Red Cabbage

Not sure where this recipe came from.  It is not mine (though I wish I could take credit).  Everyone I’ve served it to (and I’ve served it a lot) loves it.  Perfect for this time of year.  Enjoy. 

¼ c. butter
1 2-lb red cabbage, very thinly sliced (about 14 cups)
½ tsp. (or more) of salt
3 T. dry red wine (or hard apple cider)
1 T. red wine vinegar (or cider vinegar)

Melt butter in heavy large pot (I use a dutch oven) over medium heat. Add sliced cabbage and ½ tsp. salt. Stir and toss continuously until cabbage begins to wilt, about 7 minutes. Add red wine and saute until liquid evaporates, about 10 minutes. Add vinegar; stir constantly until cabbage is tender and turns a bright fuchsia color, about 13 minutes longer. (Note: I start tasting for doneness after 7 minutes or so.) Taste and adjust seasonings.

Note: May be prepared up to one day ahead. Cool slightly, cover, and refrigerate. Rewarm, stirring over medium heat, before serving.

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I usually make soups this time of year to use up the odds and ends in the fridge.  Last night, though, I decided to stir-fry.  The veggies that I found (carrots, celery, cabbage and onions), weren’t particularly exotic, though I did have enough pea pods to stir-fry a main dish with chicken, but they were enough, in combination with garlic, ginger and scallions, to make a savory, satisfying side.  I scrambled a few eggs into the veggies, and added a handful of frozen peas.  Along with the last of the brown rice, we ate a nutritious, cost-effective meal that filled everyone’s belly and left the fridge blessedly bare.  I’m going to stir-fry more often.  I liked the freedom it gave me to be both creative and practical.  You don’t need a recipe, just a willingness to experiment and eat.

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Silver Palate Vegetable Chili

Today we’re watching football.  I plan to set out a cheese plate during the first game– Found a nice blue, a triple creme, a sharp cheddar and an aged gouda.  I’ll pile toasted walnuts, dried apricots and thin-sliced apples on the platter, along with a spoonful of ginger paste.  For dinner, during the second game, I’ll serve the Silver Palate’s Vegetable Chili.  It is still one of my favorites.

8 generous servings.

¾ c. olive oil, divided
2 zucchini, cut into a ½” dice
2 onions, cut into a ½” dice
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 large red bell peppers, cut into a ½” dice
35 oz. Italian plum tomatoes
24 oz. plum tomatoes, cut into a 1” dice
2 T. chili powder
1 T. ground cumin
1 T. dried basil
1 T. dried oregano
2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. fennel seeds
½ c. chopped Italian parsley
1 c. canned kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 c. garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
½ c. chopped dill
2 T. fresh lemon juice

Heat ½ cup of the olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add the zucchini and saute until just tender, 5-7 minutes. Transfer the zucchini to a large dutch oven. Heat the remaining ¼ cup oil in the skillet over low heat. Add the onions, garlic and peppers. Saute until just wilted, about 5 minutes. Transfer mixture (including any oil) to the dutch oven.

Place the dutch oven over low heat. Add the canned tomatoes and their juice, the fresh tomatoes, chili powder, cumin, basil, oregano, pepper, salt, fennel seeds and parsley. Cook, uncovered, stirring often, for 30 minutes.

Stir in the kidney beans, the garbanzo beans, dill and lemon juice. Cook for 15 minutes. Stir well, taste, and adjust seasonings. Serve hot with bowls of sour cream, shredded cheese, and sliced scallions alongside.

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Pumpkin Snack Bread

When I make this snack bread, I often measure out extra sets of the dry ingredients (minus the spices) into sandwich bags, making my own “mix” for next time.  This bread is gluten-free, and kids love it.  Feel free to amp up the sugar a little, if you want a sweeter bread.

1 c. soy flour
½ c. corn (or potato) starch
¼ c. brown rice flour
¾ tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
½ tsp. ground cloves
2 pinches ground nutmeg
½ tsp. salt
¼ c. butter, room temperature
2/3 c. sugar
2 eggs
1 cup pumpkin puree
¾ c. toasted walnuts, chopped or chopped dates (opt.)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a 8×4” loaf pan with cooking spray.

Combine soy flour, corn starch, rice flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg and salt in a small bowl. Set aside.

Briefly attempt to cream butter and sugar (there won’t be enough butter to do this, but at least combine to grittiness). Add eggs and beat until thick. Add half the dry ingredients and mix. Add the pumpkin puree, mix briefly, and finish adding the dry ingredients, reserving a tablespoon or so if using walnuts or dates. Toss dates or walnuts with that little bit of dry ingredients, then stir into batter. Scrape into loaf pan and smooth top. Bake 60 min, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool completely in pan on rack.

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Roasted Garbanzo Beans

Roasted chick peas today to serve as a warm snack.   Used smoked paprika, crushed cumin, coriander seeds, salt and pepper to spice.  Delicious.  Might try garam masala next….

2 15oz cans garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
2 T. canola oil
Cumin seeds
Coriander seeds
Sea Salt

Preheat oven to 450° F. Toss beans and oil in a medium bowl until each bean is coated with oil. Set aside. Make seasoning. Place 1 tsp (or so) of cumin in a mortar and pestle and grind. Add 16 or so coriander seeds. Grind again. Add 1 tsp. (or so) smoked paprika and several peppercorns. Grind. Add salt to taste. Toss with beans, making sure to coat each one. Spread to a single layer in 9×13” pan and roast 20 minutes, stirring halfway thru. Taste for seasoning and adjust salt, if needed. Roast for 10-15 minutes more, until crunchy. Serve warm.

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Quick Re-fried Black Beans with Pumpkin & Tortillas

Arrived home last night after extended holiday travels.  So nice to be back to my kitchen!! Had great fun, but waaaaay too many restaurant meals.  Came home to an almost empty larder, and with three hungry kids I had to improvise a little at breakfast.  Found corn tortillas and cheddar cheese in the freezer, a can of vegetarian re-fried black beans in the pantry.  Beans and tortillas? Not quite enough. But wait, is that a can of pumpkin pureé? Hmmm…

1 T. butter
Small clove garlic, minced
1-2 T. ground chili powder
15 oz. can re-fried black beans
1 c. pumpkin pureé
3 T. ketchup
3 T. shredded cheddar cheese ( or to taste)

Put butter in a glass pie plate and place in oven. Turn oven on to 375°F. When butter has melted, add garlic and chili powder and return to oven to warm, about 2 minutes. Remove from oven and add beans, pumpkin puree, and ketchup to pan. Mix well. Spread to an even layer and sprinkle with cheese. Bake 20-25 minutes or until bubbly. Serve with steamed corn tortillas.

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