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Posts Tagged ‘vegan ideas’

Thomcord_Grapes_DSC_6605

Grocery shopping the other day at Trader Joes – one of my favorite stops – I saw a young woman handing out tastes of something called a Thomcord grape with a small piece of Manchego cheese.  Although I usually don’t bother to snack on samples when I shop I was intrigued by the grape so I popped one into my mouth.  It was so delicious – a little sweet, a little tart with a snappy skin – small as a plain old grape jelly Concord grape and about the same color, but no seeds and no bitter skin.  So, of course, I bought some.  They are absolutely terrific with almost any cheese – we served them with a cheese selection and a glass of Cava after a light dinner.  A wonderful ending!

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beef-vegetable-soup
All during the NY winter months soup is often on the dinner table.  There is nothing better with a tossed green salad, some homemade bread or a crusty baguette, and, of course, a glass of red.  I normally make a non-meat vegetable soup, but I had just one beef shank in the freezer so thought I’d use it to add some oomph to the vegetables.  Beef shanks are less expensive than many other cuts of beef and, because they are a cross cut from the leg which is well-used muscle, shanks need a long slow braise to melt the connective tissue and tenderize the meat.  Whole shanks are often braised in red wine rather like boeuf bourguignon or cut into pieces for use in all types of stews.  For my soup, I first cooked the shank in a combination of water and stock seasoned with leek greens, a couple of cloves of garlic, and salt and pepper until it was beginning to pull away from the bone.  I used a fairly large soup pot so I can make a big batch, part of which can be frozen for another day. I lifted the cooked meat from the broth and then stained the broth, discarding the solids.  I returned the broth to the pot and added the following with enough extra water to cover the mix by at least an inch, but you can add or subtract anything and still have a terrific pot to feed your body and your soul.  The soup needs to cook for about an hour to allow the flavors to be extracted from the vegetables.

Makes a big pot

One 28 ounce can chopped plum tomatoes
4 large button mushrooms, trimmed and sliced into small pieces
¼ pound green beans, trimmed and cut into bite-size pieces
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 stalks celery, trimmed and diced
1 large onion, peeled and diced
1 medium zucchini, diced
1 cup frozen corn kernels
1 cup frozen lima beans
1 cup frozen peas
A few large handfuls of baby spinach I had leftover from a salad
Salt and pepper

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NewGift_Beans

 

You will be hearing more about this but I just had to show you my newest toy.  My very special buddies, Stuart and Dean, took a cooking class in Italy this past summer where the instructor used a glass beaker to cook his beans.  Stuart knew that I would love to experience this so, once home, went on a hunt to find the glass.  And last week he surprised me with the gift.  I researched this cooking method and found that it has evolved from hearth cooking whereby a bean-filled crock was placed in the embers at the end of the evening so that the beans would slowly cook all night in the warmth of the ash and hearth.  As years passed and cooks abandoned the hearth for the stovetop, this glass beaker took the place of the crock.  I couldn’t wait to try my Tuscan bean cooker although I couldn’t believe that the glass would not break on the stovetop.  I soaked some dried red beans that I had on hand for the trial and then put them to cook with olive oil, garlic, herbs, and water.  It took a few hours over very low heat, but the glass didn’t break and the beans were soft and creamy.  I can’t wait to begin cooking white beans in the Tuscan manner this coming week.  I will keep you posted on how my recipes work.

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eggplant

 

My family does not really love eggplant very much so I am always trying to think of ways to make it inviting.  My newest trick works beautifully with baby eggplant.  I trim the stems and then cut them in half, lengthwise.  I toss the cut eggplant in olive oil, whatever fresh herb I have on hand (or none when I don’t), and salt and pepper.  I grill them, cut side down first, in my trusty stovetop grill pan (Scanpan again, of course – loving their nonstick surface) for a few minutes or until just barely cooked through.  I serve the warm grilled eggplant drizzled with a bit of balsamic vinaigrette or syrupy aged balsamic (when I have it on hand) with a glass of Prosecco or an Aperol spritzer.  Every single one of those little guys is gone before the drinks are.

 

eggplant_2

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