All posts filed under: Vegetables

Sweet and Sour Cucumber Salad

What’s summertime if not the time to throw theme parties? That’s my motto! With that in mind I recently subjected friends to a night of Danish food and activities. Yes, when torturing friends with vacation photos just isn’t enough, there’s “A Night of Danish Delights.” Recalling the surprising number of ping pong and badminton clubs seen throughout Denmark, I included ping pong, badminton and a Lego building competition on the activity list. Why Legos? Well, Denmark is the birthplace of Legos. Besides, how often can I justify playing with 6 pounds of colorful toy bricks? Never! Denmark is also home to such culinary specialties as pickled herring, smoked salmon, smørrebrød, hearty rugbrød or Danish brown bread, danishes and hindbærsnitte. They, along with Danish tilsit, blue and havarti cheeses, starred in the evening’s menu. So, too, did steamed, heads-on shrimp. As you might expect, these appealed to a select few. There is something about having your food stare back at you . . .. Far more approachable were the refreshing summer salads of seasonal berries and …

Masterminding Moroccan Carrots

Think of all the controversial topics that could come up between family and friends. For most people slender, knobby, orange root vegetables wouldn’t be among them. Yet, in my household carrots have long been a source of contention. Until recently, the only way that I could convince my husband to eat these vegetables was if I shredded and made them into a carrot cake. Smart guy, huh? Rather than rely on cake alone to provide us that burst of Vitamin A, I look for ways to make carrots more palatable to the picky. So far, Moroccan Carrots, which I featured in Fish Market, are the favorite.When teaching a class, holding a talk or just sitting around the dinner table, I’m frequently asked how I and other food writers create recipes. While I can’t speak for my colleagues, I can explain the rationale and process behind Moroccan Carrots. All dishes begin with the question “What foods go well together?” If I’m working with a versatile ingredient such as a carrot, that’s easy to answer. From a …

Summer’s Bounty in One Bowl

Whether you belong to a community garden. shop at farm stands and farmers’ markets or tend your own vegetable patch, right now you’re undoubtedly enjoying some of the best of summer’s bounty. Ripe, luscious tomatoes. Crisp, juicy cucumbers. Cool mint and mildly peppery parsley. Thanks to the generosity of gardening friends and my husband’s passion for all things tomato-based, I’m often thinking of different ways to prepare and eat these gorgeous herbs and veggies. When we tire of gazpachos, salsas and tabbouleh, I turn these gifts into simple salads and let their flavors and colors shine. The following salad can be topped with feta, grilled and diced haloumi or crumbled Stilton or Gorganzola cheese. You can also use the salad as a filling for pitas and soft tortillas. “TOC” (TOMATO-ONION-CUCUMBER) SALAD Serves 4 to 6 4 large, ripe tomatoes, seeded and cut into chunks 2 cucumbers, peeled, seeded, quartered, and sliced 3 large scallions, whites only, chopped 1 small red onion, quartered and thinly sliced 1 garlic clove, minced Handful of fresh mint, chopped Handful …

Spring Vegetable Frittata

Beyond chocolate bunnies, jelly beans and marshmallow chicks, I’ve never associated a specific food with Easter. When I was a kid, my mother would occasionally bake a ham pricked with cloves and draped with pineapple rings. Served alongside creamy scalloped potatoes and peas, it was the closest that my family ever came to a traditional, home cooked, Easter meal. More often than not, on Easter Sunday we went out for brunch. Some years we hit an upscale buffet brimming with glistening Danishes, steamy scrabbled eggs, roast beef and shrimp cocktail. Other times we enjoyed a sit down meal of fruit- and cream cheese-stuffed French toast, eggs Benedict or chicken divan. Once again, there was no set cuisine or, for that matter, locale. Oddly enough, I’ve married into a family that likewise celebrates this holiday with brunch. Taking into account that recurring meal, I’d like to share a fresh, easy, brunch offering, Spring Vegetable Frittata. It may sound fancy but a frittata is nothing more than the Italian version of a French omelet. With omelets you …

Taking Sides on Turkey Day Take 2

The countdown to turkey day has begun! Rather than take up valuable shopping and cooking time talking about the history of Thanksgiving side dishes, this year I’ll share a few recipes for easy and fabulous offerings. Whether you’re hosting a huge feast for family and friends, traveling to a potluck or holding an intimate dinner for two, the following sides will surely satisfy. For additional Thanksgiving recipes, check out Kitchen Kat’s 2011 entry on Taking Sides for Turkey Day. “TOP” (TURNIP-ONION-POTATO) CASSEROLE Serves 4 to 6 2 turnips, trimmed and cut into chunks 1 large red onion, cut in half and then quartered 1 large yellow onion, cut in half and then quartered 1 yam, peeled and cut into chunks 1 Idaho potato, peeled and cut into chunks 3 red bliss potatoes, washed and quartered 1 large orange bell pepper, cut into chunks 8 cloves garlic, peeled and halved 1/3 cup olive oil freshly ground black pepper, to taste 4 ounces Haloumi cheese, thinly sliced Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Coat the interior …

Return to the Pumpkin Patch

I can’t let autumn pass by without mentioning that amazing, globular fall fruit known as the pumpkin. Ranging in size from two to a whopping 800 pounds, this hefty fellow was once relegated to seasonal pies and decor. Today, though, I keep this low-fat, low-calorie, firm-fleshed gourd in my kitchen long past Thanksgiving. Although I lack the green thumb and good soil to grow pumpkins, thanks to friends who have both, I’ve learned a thing or two about harvesting a great pumpkin. A trailing plant, this winter squash needs space to grow. It likewise requires temperate weather and regular watering. Mature at 16 weeks, a pumpkin can be picked and stored whole in a cool, dry, dark place for several months. When cut, it must be refrigerated and used within a few days. How to use a freshly cut pumpkin? I love turning it into a silky puree. After removing the seeds, I put the pumpkin halves, cut side down, on a rimmed baking sheet and sprinkle a half cup of water over them. I …

Considering Savory Custards

You may have heard that I have a sweet tooth. In truth I have 36 that hold sway over what I eat each day. As a result, when I hear custard, I imagine chocolate-topped eclairs, coconut-flecked pies and syrup-soaked creme caramels. All cloyingly sweet treats that should catapult me into hyperglycemia. For a recent assignment I had to create several savory, rather than sweet, custard recipes. The experience made me consider the foods that I overlook as a result of my sugar obsession. Seasoned custard is undoubtedly one of them. By definition custard is a blend of eggs and milk thickened either by baking or simmering on the stove. On its own it tastes exactly like its ingredients, eggs and milk. With the addition of fruit, spices, cheese, vegetables, seafood or meat custard becomes lusciously flavorful. Derived from the French word croustade, custard is the foundation for such classic sweets as creme brulee, flan, clafoutis and galaktoboureko. It also serves as the basis for such savory dishes as quiche, timbale and chawanmushi. As you might …

Squash!

Stop to admire a friend’s flourishing fall garden and you may walk away with an armload of autumn vegetables. This happened to me two weekends ago when I visited college friends in Lancaster County, Pa. Although I had gone to Amish country empty-handed, I returned home with bags of homegrown pumpkins and butternut squash. Unquestionably, I was grateful for the unexpected gifts but I was also at a loss for what to do with all this food. Considered by many cooks to be the best winter squash, the bowling pin-shaped butternut possesses a tough, smooth, tan skin. Cut into the skin with a heavy, serrated knife and you’ll find creamy, orange, fragrant flesh. Some compare its sweet, rich flavor to sweet potatoes while others liken it to roasted chestnuts. To me it tastes like butternut squash. A versatile vegetable, this squash goes nicely with savory foods such as bacon, anchovies, cheese, garlic and onions. It also compliments such sweets as brown sugar, coconut, maple syrup, vanilla and yams. In spite of its versatility I tend …

Feast from the Forest and Field

Last week I owned up to my dearth of gardening skills. What I lack in ability, I more than make up for in my enthusiasm for others’ horticultural handiness. So, when a friend invited me on a foraging walk last weekend, I jumped at the chance. I mean, really, who has a greener thumb than Mother Nature? As you might expect from someone who blundered through gardening, I struggle with identifying wild edibles. Set set me loose in the forest to collect stinging nettles or chanterelles, I’m likely to pull out a clump of poison ivy or toxic jack o’ lantern mushrooms. Obviously, these are not the ingredients of a lovely soup or sauté. However, if you put me in charge of foraging, these are what you might receive. Yeah, I need to learn a bit about harmless versus deadly wild plants. Led by naturalist Steve Brill, the ecology walk featured such wholesome plants as garlic mustard, wild ginger and purslane. Things that I had dubbed “worthless weeds” and yanked from my overgrown garden likewise …

What to Do with All That . . ..

After years of kidding myself that one day I’d grow bushels of pert tomatoes and eggplants at our suburban Philadelphia farmhouse, I’m finally throwing in the towel on gardening. It’s never helped matters that I’m not there enough to consistently weed and water a garden or that every vegetable planted feeds not my family and friends but those of groundhogs and deer. There’s another reason, though, behind my bailing out on horticulture. Truthfully, I’m a lousy gardener who can’t even keep the lowest maintenance plants—garlic, onions, potatoes—alive. In spite of my black thumb each August I find myself wondering what to do with all the season’s produce. Gardeners can’t seem to give the stuff away. Well, actually, they can and do but, as the overwhelmed recipient, I often find myself wanting to give it back. Such is the case with corn. The problem with corn is that I never receive just four or five ears. Whether I drop by my favorite farmer’s market or a friend’s backyard garden, I invariably leave with at least a …