Vegetables Every Day

Vegetables Every Day
Carrot Tarator with Beets

Sunday, February 22, 2009

And yet more ways to cook greens

Believe it or not, I’m not tired of eating greens even with 3 big bunches of greens ever week (last week it was arugula, spinach, and beet greens… plus romaine lettuce and baby lettuce mix).  There are just so many things to do with them. I am doing better on using the beet greens than the beets!
I love quiche, and used to make quiche the normal way with a pie dough crust, and then always put spinach in the eggs (aka Quiche Lorraine).  But pie dough (as wonderful as it is) has a lot of butter, which is not a big deal if you are eating a small sliver, but I like about a quarter of the pie for dinner (which, using my pie crust recipe, would be 1½ tablespoons of butter), which is why I tried this recipe.  I was a bit hesitant because it looks weird (flour and bread crumbs… no egg and just a bit of oil to hold it together?), I really did not think it would work, but I trust the recipe book I adopted it from...   The New Enchanted Broccoli Forest (Mollie Katzen's Classic Cooking). I have made it several times, and it’s always come out great (even the leftovers).

One last note – it’s easy to make the bread crumbs.  Use the crust and end pieces from whole wheat sandwich bread – let dry on the counter for a couple of days (break into chunks to make sure they are really dry) and put them in a plastic bag until you are ready to use (like in a month or two).  If you are really channeling your depression era grandmother, you will use the plastic bag the bread came it.  When ready to use, just crush them (a rolling pin while they are still in the bag works great).

EDIT: Better way to make bread crumbs:  cut bread (any kind, stale is fine) into chunks, and put into food processor.  Process in bursts until broken up into crumbs.  Place crumbs on parchment lined sheet pan, place into a low oven (275F, convection if you have it) until dry but not browned. Check every 10 minutes and toss the crumbs (I think it takes 20-30 minutes).  Store excess crumbs in the freezer.

Spinach Crusted Quiche

Crust part:
2 Tablespoons olive oil
¾ lb fresh spinach or other greens, finely minced
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup flour
¾ cup dry bread crumbs
Fresh nutmeg
Heat oven to 375F.  Lightly oil a 9 – 10 inch pie or quiche pan.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet.  Add the spinach and salt, saute over medium high heat until the spinach is limp.  Add a bit of water if it’s too dry.  Remove from heat and add remaining ingredients and mix well.
Pat into the oiled pie pan.  Use a fork at first, and then your fingers to mold the crust.

Prebake for 25 minutes.  No need to cool before adding filling.

Quiche Part:

Layer the following in the crust:

Cheese:  ¼  pound or a bit more (grated).  I like Swiss types, like Jarlsburg or Gruyere.

Meat (optional): ¼ lb or so of ham or prosciutto, or a bit of bacon, or leftover chicken.

Vegetables: 1 cup or bit more.  onions, mushrooms (need to sauté first), asparagus or broccoli (lightly steamed), and/or chopped red peppers, plus herbs as desired.

Custard: 3 eggs plus 1 cup milk (can use regular milk, half and half, unsweetened soy milk, low fat milk or a mix), whisked together.  Pour evenly over the filling.

Cook for 35 minutes or until firm. Cool for 10 minutes before slicing.  Can be served any temperature.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day!

Chocolate is to Valentine's day like turkey is to Thanksgiving... so I thought I would share one of my favorite (and easiest) chocolate recipe.  It's my basic chocolate sauce, good for ice cream and great for Angle Food Cake (and Angle Food cake is to my birthday like wings are to the Super bowl).

To make this, you just need chocolate, a dairy product, and an optional extra flavor. For chocolate, something like Scharffen Berger bittersweet or semi sweet is best, but;chocolate chips work fine. I figure about an ounce or so for 2 servings.  Next is a dairy product, half and half is best, but you can use cream, milk, even soy milk. And finally is an extra flavor, like Grand Mariner, Cognac, vanilla, or a bit of espresso.  This scales easily for more people.

Start by putting the chocolate in microwave proof bowl:

Then add the half and half, about this much:

Then microwave until it starts to boil:

For a small batch like this, it only takes 30 seconds or so.Take it out... the chocolate won't be all melted yet:

But start to stir, and it should turn into a nice, dark sauce:

Optional at this point is to add something like Cognac or Amaretto (what ever would be nice with what you are putting it on), just a teaspoon or so. Or you can add a bit of vanilla, or some espresso.

Finally, serve. For ice cream, one of us likes some chocolate sauce on the ice cream.... the other likes a little ice cream with her chocolate sauce. Works perfectly!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Greens, greens, and more greens

The CSA box continues to have lots of great greens.  This week included spinach (one that is very textured), chard, collard greens, and beets with nice greens.  Last week (pictured) was spinach, collard greens, kale, chard, and beets.   But we are getting through them. 

Last week’s spinach and beet greens went into pasta, along with the Italian turkey sausage, onions, and red peppers.  The chard was sauted (with garlic and red pepper flakes) and served with roasted chicken.

The kale (the whole head) was chopped and went into homemade chicken and noodle soup last Wednesday (using the bones from Sunday’s roasted chicken). 

Week before last there were scrambled eggs with mushrooms and spinach (and cheese).   We had not had my most favorite green, arugula, in a couple of weeks, but that I usually put into sandwiches or salads.
The plan for this week’s chard and beet greens will be to sauté with some garlic, then make a nest to bake some eggs in … I have seen this recipe in a couple of cookbooks, including one I got for Christmas: Olives and Oranges: Recipes and Flavor Secrets from Italy, Spain, Cyprus, and Beyond and Barbara Kingsolvers Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life (ok, not a real cookbook, but the recipes by her daughter were the best part of the book).

And tonight, I made the collard greens (both last weeks and this – we had company).  I had never cooked these before, so why not try out on guests?  The “traditional” way to cook is to simmer a LONG time (like an hour or more) with a large amount of smoked pork product.  Since the main dish for tonight was an oven-braised pork shoulder, I figured that was enough pork.  More research revealed that it was possible to cook like other greens – a quick sauté with onions / shallots / garlic / red pepper flakes and/or bacon.  I choose to cook with just sliced red onion. Start by warming a bit of olive oil, cook the onions until they start to soften, then add shredded collard greens, sauté until dry, then add a bit of water and cook for about 5 minutes.  I finished with a bit of sherry vinegar.  They were good, a bit more chewy than spinach, but not bitter or too astringent.

Here is another (real) recipe for sautéed greens plus additional idea’s from one of my favorite food blogs, 101 Cookbooks.  My eye doctor  is quite pleased.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Peasant Food

So much for posting every Sunday or Monday on “what in the box” … its Saturday, Sunday, I am thinking I really need to get around posting on what to do with the turnips we got 2 weeks ago.  At least turnips keep!

I’m not sure if you can get a vegetable any more “peasant-ish” than turnips, and mussels might be the protein equivalent.   So I paired the two up for a nice dinner.   To someone who grew up in the desert, mussels are a bit scary.  Most recipes talk about de-bearding, getting the sand out, etc.  But mussels today (at least when you get them at AJ’s) are already clean.  The only trick is to make sure they are alive.   Make sure you buy them the day you cook them (the person at the fish counter will sort usually sort through and get live ones).  When you get them home, open the plastic bag so then can breathe.  I put the bag in a bowl with some ice, and a wet paper towel on top and keep them in the fridge..  When you are ready to cook, rinse in a colander, and get rid of any that don’t close.  You might need to tap them to make them close – those are still OK.   Then put into the pot and cook (see below)… and if any don’t open, don’t eat.  It’s really pretty simple, and they are so good.  And good for you!   Don’t forget some bread to soak up the broth.

Mussels Sailor-Style (if you are a French Sailor)

Adopted from Jaques Pepin’s Complete Techniques.  Figure a little under 1 pound of mussels per person for a main dish.

2 - 5 lbs mussels
1 cup chopped onions
1clove garlic, peeled, crushed and chopped
½ cup chopped parsley
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Dash (or sprig) of Thyme
1 bay leaf
Dash of salt
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup white wine

Combine all ingredients in a large pot, cover, place on high heat and bring to a boil.
Keep cooking for about 10 minutes.  Twice while they are cooking, lift the kettle with both hands, your thumbs holding the cover, and shake the kettle in an up-and-down motion to toos the mussels.  They should all open.  Do not overcook or they will toughen.  Serve in shallow bowls with some of the broth on top.   Save (and freeze) any extra broth for fish soup.

There was a great recipe a while back in Fine Cooking on how to roast vegetables… practically any vegetable (from peas to cauliflower to squash to root vegetables) like turnips!  I added a carrot to the turnip for some color..

Roasted Turnips and Carrots
First, heat the oven on to 450 – 475F.  Trim and peel a turnip (or two), start with about a pound plus a big carrot for some color.  Cut everything into ¾ to 1 inch pieces. Put on a cooking sheet covered with parchment, add tablespoons or so of olive oil and a bit of salt.  Mix to distribute the oil.  Spread evenly, and put into the oven.  After 10 minutes, stir and make sure chunks are turned.  Cook for another 10 or 15 minutes, until tender and done.  They should have brown spots and edges.  Remove from the oven, add some more salt (some finishing salt  if you have it), and maybe a squirt of lemon juice (hey.. this was in this week’s box!)   Serve hot.