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Posts Tagged ‘veggies’

PattyPan©StephenKolyer

I’m always drawn to summer’s sweet little patty pan squashes – the colors are so vibrant and the shape so flowery. The one problem with them is that they don’t have a lot of flavor. Many years ago when we had a take-out food shop, I would buy teeny tiny ones from an Amish farmer in Pennsylvania and then pickle them to add some zest. The little flower shapes would look so inviting in the canning jar and were terrific out of it as a garnish for cold meats. When I want to cook them, I usually slice or cube them and sauté in butter or extra virgin olive oil. Just when the squashes have squeezed out all that almost-tasteless liquid and have begun to brown, I add some fresh garlic, lemon zest, and basil – season with salt and pepper and toss for a couple of minutes. Then, I serve with a squeeze of lemon juice. Tasteless they will not be!

 

patty-pan-squash_p6288142

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Chard

 

With the recent mad embrace of kale, other greens are getting lost in the fray.  I, personally, prefer Swiss chard to kale or any other green.  I find it sweeter with less mineral flavor and I cook it at least once a week sometimes with pasta or grains but most often in the following fashion –
I generally use 2 bunches organic chard which I chop into pieces.  I always use the stems too.  I heat about a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil with a couple of mashed garlic cloves over low heat.  I add the zest of an orange and a couple of tablespoons of orange juice.  Then, I add the chard, cover, and steam for a few minutes.  Then, I uncover, raise the heat, and, using tongs, toss the greens until just barely cooked through.  You can also cook them until very dark green and soft but I prefer the chard to still be a bit fresh looking.

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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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Chanterelle_4546

 

Nobody loves mushrooms more than my son, Mickey.  He would eat them daily and the more obscure and expensive they are the more he likes them.  His usually are part of a rich sauce to accompany venison, or lamb, or lobster and he would never think of “wasting” them in pasta.  I, however, think they make a perfect mating with cheese and noodles so this is one of the ways I find to use beautiful chanterelles.  I find that they absorb the fattiness of the butter and cheese which only enhances their delicate, nutty flavor.

1 pound dried malfalda pasta or other noodles with a rippled or ridged edge
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 shallot, peeled and minced
½ pound chanterelle mushrooms, cleaned and cut in half, lengthwise, if very large
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
Salt and pepper
1 cup fresh ricotta cheese
¼ cup chopped parsley
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Cracked black pepper for garnish

Place the pasta in a large pot of heavily-salted boiling water set over high heat.  
Return the water to the boil and boil according to package directions until al dente.  Remove from the heat and drain well, reserving about ½ cup of the cooking water.
While the pasta is cooking, combine the butter and olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add the shallot and cook, stirring frequently, for about 2 minutes or just until softened.  Add the chanterelles and thyme and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Cook, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes or just until the mushrooms are tender.  Remove from the heat.
When the pasta has cooked, add the drained pasta to the mushroom mixture, tossing to blend well.  Add the ricotta and parsley and again toss to coat.  Add a bit of the reserved pasta cooking water if necessary to “loosen” the sauce.  Taste and, if necessary, add salt and pepper.
Pour the pasta into a large pasta serving bowl.  Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and a bit of cracked black pepper and serve.

 

Chanterelle_4513

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©StephenKolyer_ZucchiniEggRoll

It’s odd, but in our house we have definite zucchini lovers and haters. I’m not exactly the latter, but for sure it is not my favorite vegetable. Steve, my husband, loves it and our granddaughter, Canada, favors it also so I do try to find ways of cooking it that will appeal to both sides. One of my easier methods is to half it, lengthwise, and the cut it, crosswise, into little half-moon shapes. Then, I sauté some onions and garlic and add the zucchini to the pan just as they begin to color slightly. The moisture in the squash keeps the onions and garlic from burning and as it evaporates everything begins to brown. That’s when I add some tomatoes, red chile flakes, and season with salt and pepper. If the tomatoes add too much liquid, I’ll add a squeeze or two of tomato paste. When all of the vegetables have sorta melded together, I throw in some fresh herbs – basil, thyme, or rosemary. This mix makes a great base for some sliced grilled chicken breast or pork loin. Try it.

 

Zucchini_G10_IMG_0238

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Wilted.Chard.Salad.IMG_0667

Everywhere you go, whaddya get?  Kale salad and, if not salad, you get your daily dose greens as a side, a chip, a shake – you name it, kale is in it!  I like kale, but I’ve had enough for now so have switched to Swiss chard.  At the San Rafael farmers market (Visited while we were recently in California touting our book, An American Family Cooks, which if you don’t have it, can I suggest you buy it?) we were amazed to buy organic rainbow chard at $1- a bunch so we bought 10 bunches for a group gathering.  Rather than do the same old, same old sauté I decided to do a salad.  I chopped the chard, roasted 3 thinly sliced tart apples, and toasted a couple of handfuls of chopped raw almonds.  Then, I heated up an apple cider dressing (olive oil, apple cider and apple cider vinegar, grainy mustard, salt and pepper) and tossed the hot dressing into the chard.  When it was nicely combined, I tossed in the warm roasted apple slices and chopped almonds and all together it wilted the chard and gave us a yummy fresh tasting salad.

 

Wilted.Chard.Salad.IMG_0672

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Collard_Greens_DSC_2555

After the last year or so of seeing kale lauded as the second coming, I’ve had it with that crunchy, earthy green and am switching my allegiance to other good-for-you leafy things.  A few nights ago I had a dinner request for fried chicken and whenever I made fried chicken, I always add collard greens to the table.  I sauté some onion and bacon (bacon ‘cause its always on hand, but if I am out and about I will pick up some ham hocks or pork belly to use) and then add the chopped collards.  Once seasoned with some salt and pepper and red chile flakes, I cover the pot and just let them cook away until they are juicy, soft and tummy-warming.  This can take a couple of hours or so.  Then, I add a good dose of vinegar and serve them with cornbread to sop up the “pot likker” and chopped onions to add some heat and texture.  Sooooo, sooooo good!  And, better than kale, for sure.

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Company_Coming_MG_2625

 

If so, my son Chris pulled together an easy, but a so elegant and pretty dish while he was visiting us a couple of weeks ago.  We were having a big family cook-a-thon or actually a throw-down where every cook tries to out-do the others and Chris was nominated to do the fish course.  Often the recipes my sons create are extravagant and complicated, so it was amazing to see this simple dish appear.  I had purchased some opah (sustainable fish when caught by U.S. fisheries), a wonderfully dense, meaty fish that has a glorious pale pinky, salmon color when raw, but turns white once heat hits it.

First, Chris made mashed potatoes, but instead of making them buttery and rich, he beat in olive oil, the juice of one lemon, and some lemon zest along with sea salt and white pepper. They were smooth and almost refreshing.  He made a very light lemon vinaigrette flavored with chervil.  He cut the opah into small blocks and seared it briefly – or just long enough to make each side crusty while keeping the flesh moist and tender.  As you can see, I placed a mound of the potatoes in the center of our plates, Chris nestled a crusty piece of fish into the center of the potatoes and drizzled the vinaigrette all around the plate.  I fancied it up with a few tiny chervil leaves and Chris presented an elegant, easy, and wonderfully delicious fish course.

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Artichokes_baby_DSC_1092

 

If you’ve read my posts for awhile you will know that I love artichokes.  The baby ones I got at the farmers market the other Saturday made the best Roman Fritto Misto, but since I only fried the artichokes I guess it was a fritto without the misto. To make the misto, just combine an assortment of vegetables cut into a little bit larger than bite-size pieces. Sounds very fancy, but it is so simple to do.  Here’s how:
Clean the baby artichokes and cut them, lengthwise, into quarters.  Scoop out the fuzzy choke and rinse well.  Rub well with a cut lemon half and pat dry.  (Work quickly as the cut artichokes will rapidly begin to discolor.  You can always put them in acidulated (lots of lemon juice) water as you work to stop the process, but then you really have to make sure they are well-dried before frying.)
Combine the cut artichokes with salted flour in a resealable plastic bag, close, and shake well to coat generously.
Whisk 2 eggs together in a shallow bowl.
Heat olive oil in a deep fat fryer to 375ºF on a candy thermometer.
Place the floured artichokes in a sifter and shake to remove excess flour.  Quickly dip into the beaten egg and immediately drop into the hot oil.
Fry for about 3 minutes or until golden brown and crisp.  If they cook too quickly, remove the fryer from the heat and let the oil cool to 365ºF before continuing to fry.
Lift from the oil and place on a double layer of paper towel to drain.  Sprinkle with salt and serve hot.

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Fall_Dinner_DSC_2381

 

We have been so busy with the promotion of An American Family Cooks that our meals have been a little haphazard – a pizza here, rice and beans (from our favorite Flor de Mayo on Amsterdam Avenue) there, a throw-together sandwich at the end of a long day have been too frequently on the table.  I promised Steve a quiet, indulgent, sit-down dinner and since fall had officially arrived with a bit of a chill in the air, it seemed time to get back to work in the kitchen.
Here’s what I put together.  Mashed sweet potatoes (mashed with a bit of butter and a touch of honey), sautéed spinach and mushrooms, and deliciously sweet Nantucket Bay scallops.  For the scallops, I placed about ½ cup of diced pancetta in a nonstick frying pan and cooked it until all of the fat had rendered out and I had a pan full of little crispy nuggets.  I scooped the nuggets from the pan and left a bit of the fat in.  I added the scallops which I had tossed in Wondra flour and seasoned with salt and pepper.  Gave them a quick flip around the pan to color slightly and set.  Removed them from the pan and added a little white wine and lemon juice.  Brought it to a boil and then whisked in a little pat of butter.  When slightly thick, I returned the pancetta to the pan and instantly had a lovely sauce for the plate.  We sat down to a quiet, indulgent dinner with a chilled bottle of Sancerre to quaff.  A lovely fall dinner, indeed.

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