Kitchen Parade Extra

Visit the Kitchen Parade weekly blog for another healthful hot-weather dish, a chicken salad laced with chickpeas.

Day 73: Brushed Eggplant II

Original photo showing the internal structure of eggplant
Today's vegetable recipe: Sliced eggplant brushed with vinaigrette, baked, then topped with cheese. Low carb. Weight Watchers 1 point.

~ recipe & photo updated in 2008 ~

2005: I seem to be on an eggplant kick so had high hopes for this after Day 71. This time, however, I wanted an easy way to roast eggplant without a lot of oil so I brushed the slices with fat-free Italian dressing from the fridge. Too bad: not so good, even the addition of a bit of feta didn't help. Who knew that cheese couldn't save nearly anything?! The eggplant are pretty, though, yes? I had no idea what the internal structure of an eggplant looked like until these came out of the oven.

2008: This time I used a homemade vinaigrette of 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar, 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard and a clove of minced garlic (plus lots of salt and pepper) for a beautiful two-pound globe eggplant. Straight from the oven, the slices still tasted quite plain so again, I went the cheese route, for comparison topping a few slices with grated Parmesan. Too bad: still so-so. Interestingly enough, later I found the plain slices -- the ones without the cheese -- quite good when cold. Temperature somehow allowed the creaminess of the eggplant to emerge.





VEGETABLE RECIPES from the ARCHIVES
~ more eggplant recipes ~
~ more recipes for roasted vegetables ~


BRUSHED EGGPLANT II
Active time: 5 minutes
Time to table: 55 minutes
Serves: 4


Cooking spray
1 pound eggplant
1/3 cup non-fat Italian dressing (2008: homemade vinaigrette)
Few sprinkles of feta (2008: Parmesan)

Set oven to 375F. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. Slice off the stem end of the eggplant, then cut into 3/4 inch slices. Pour dressing into a small dish, brush both sides of each slice with the dressing. Arrange slices on the baking sheet. Put the baking sheet into the oven, even if it's not fully preheated, for 25 minutes plus the remaining pre-heat time. (For example, if your oven takes 10 minutes to preheat and has been warming up for 3 minutes when you put the tray in, set the timer for 32 minutes, 25 minutes plus 7 minutes.) Remove from the oven and turn the slices over and bake another 20 minutes. If desired, add a few sprinkles of feta for the last few minutes of baking.

NUTRITION ESTIMATE
With feta, Per Serving: 65 Cal (29% from Fat, 15% from Protein, 56% from Carb); 2 g Protein; 2 g Tot Fat; 1 g Sat Fat; 10 g Carb; 4 g Fiber; 56 mg Calcium; 0 mg Iron; 367 mg Sodium; 8 mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 1 point

Without feta, Per Serving: 41 Cal (5% from Fat, 11% from Protein, 85% from Carb); 1 g Protein; 0 g Tot Fat; 0 g Sat Fat; 9 g Carb; 4 g Fiber; 10 mg Calcium; 0 mg Iron; 262 mg Sodium; 0 mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 0 points

Day 72: Shredded Zucchini with Thyme ♥

Just this week, the produce sections in grocery stores seem to be bursting with new fruits and vegetables. The scent of first peaches fills the air, begging to be bagged for home. Who needs farmers markets?!

This zucchini is good -- very good -- and ever so simple. The trick is to salt the grated (or, I suppose, julienned) zucchini for 15 minutes, then to squeeze the liquid out. Then it cooks in just a couple of minutes, tonight, with a splash of the vinaigrette from Day 71 and a bit of fresh thyme.

SHREDDED ZUCCHINI with THYME
Active time: 10 minutes
Time to table: 25 minutes
Serves 4


1 1/2 pounds zucchini
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon Day 71 Dressing (see ALANNA's TIPS)
1 teaspoon fresh thyme (see TIPS)

Remove the stem ends from the zucchini, then grate. (see TIPS) Transfer to a colander, stir in the salt. Let rest for about 15 minutes in a sink or over a dish. Grab a handful of zucchini and squeeze out the liquid, repeating until no more can be easily extracted.

Heat a skillet over MEDIUM HIGH. Add Day 70 Dressing and zucchini. Toss gently. Cook until zucchini is hot and cooked through, turning occasionally. Stir in thyme. Serve immediately.

NUTRITION ESTIMATE
Per Serving: 50 Cal (45% from Fat, 14% from Protein, 41% from Carb); 2 g Protein; 3 g Tot Fat; 0 g Sat Fat; 6 g Carb; 2 g Fiber; 31 mg Calcium; 1 mg Iron; 921 mg Sodium; 0 mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 1 point


ALANNA's TIPS
  • Mix 1/4 cup white wine vinegar, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil.
  • Thyme was good, dill or tarragon might be better.
  • You'd think a 'lazy cook' would use a food processor, right? I'll never give up my Cuisinart but there are times, like tonight, when it's just easier to use a small hand tool that can be ever-so-easily tossed into an already-nearly-full dishwasher. Besides, isn't hand-grating a form of upper-arm exercise? Tee hee ...
SOURCE
Adapted from Sara Moulton Cooks at Home

Day 71: Brushed Eggplant ♥

~recipe & photo updated in 2007~

2005 Original Text: "There must be a lighter way ... these are addictively good - a problem when they're loaded with olive oil! It may not be the recipe's fault. I couldn't find the pastry brush so dipped the first several eggplant slices into the dressing. I switched to my fingers, which used less of the dressing, but the damage was done."

2007 Recipe & Photo Update: With a silicone pastry brush, 'too much oil' was no problem, in fact, I brushed all the cut surfaces once then had so much leftover that I brushed them again after 20 minutes in the oven. So yes, there is a lighter way and yes, they're still addictively good.

2007 KITCHEN NOTES: While slender Japanese eggplant may be more tender (so I read but I can't tell the difference), the standard 'globe' eggplant is preferable here, because it has a lower skin:flesh ratio. That said, the skin isn't unpalateable so use what you have on hand.

BRUSHED EGGPLANT
Active time: 10 minutes
Time to table: 50 minutes
Serves 4


DRESSING
1 tablespoon good vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon good olive oil

1 pounds eggplant, stem removed, cut in 3/4 inch slices
Salt & pepper
Fresh herbs (optional, in 2007 tarragon was great)

Preheat oven to 375F. Combine dressing ingredients in a small bowl. Arrange eggplant on a baking sheet cut-side up (you might cover with foil unless it's non-stick). Brush the up-facing side of each slice, turn those with two cut sides upside down and brush the cut sides. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven, turn slices over and bake another 20 - 25 minutes or until golden and soft.

NUTRITION ESTIMATE Per Serving: 60 Cal (50% from Fat, 8% from Protein, 42% from Carb); 1 g Protein; 4 g Tot Fat; 0 g Sat Fat; 3 g Mono Fat; 7 g Carb; 4 g Fiber; NetCarb3; 3 g Sugar; 14 mg Calcium; 0 mg Iron; 341 mg Sodium; 0 mg Cholesterol; Weight Watchers 1 point

SOURCE
Sara Moulton Cooks at Home

Day 70: Confetti Potato Salad ♥

Isn't it pretty?! And it tastes good -- make that great -- too! Since it has no mayonnaise, it would be perfect for outdoor eating and potlucks, to say nothing of half-way healthful.

The funny thing, however, is that I was little impressed after making it. It was okay ... but nothing special. Whoa, was I surprised when it went on the table with babyback ribs - a great combination, by the way. And the next night, it tasted even better.

I lightened the original Gourmet recipe and added crunch and salt. Next time, I won't change a thing -- except to allow ample chilling time.

CONFETTI POTATO SALAD
Active time: 45 minutes (with about 10 minutes to do something else)
Time to table: 5 hours (including 4+ hours in the frig)
Makes 8 cups


1 1/2 pounds potatoes, skins on (see ALANNA's TIPS)
1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled

1 large onion, chopped finely
1 red pepper, chopped finely
4 stalks celery, chopped finely

DRESSING
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
4 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
1/4 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons kosher salt
Salt & pepper to taste

Place a steamer basket in a large pot or Dutch oven, then fill with water just below bottom of steamer. Bring to a boil. Cut the potatoes in about half-inch cubes and arrange evenly in the steamer basket. Cut the sweet potatoes in about half-inch cubes and arrange evenly over the potatoes. Cover and cook for 15 - 20 minutes or until potatoes are cooked through.

Chop the onion, red pepper and celery and set aside. Whisk together the dressing ingredients in a large bowl, then add the cooked potatoes and the onion mixture. Combine well. Season to taste. Refrigerate for at least for hours before serving.

NUTRITION ESTIMATE
Per 1/2 Cup: 116 Cal (27% from Fat, 6% from Protein, 66% from Carb); 2 g Protein; 4 g Tot Fat; 0 g Sat Fat; 20 g Carb; 3 g Fiber; 26 mg Calcium; 1 mg Iron; 368 mg Sodium; 0 mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 2 points

ALANNA's TIPS
  • Use a yellow-fleshed potato such as Finn.
  • The potatoes need just a bit more heat to cook than the sweet potatoes, make sure to put them in the steamer first.
  • Hot potatoes will absorb more of the sauce's flavors. But since they're still soft, you'll want to use a gentle touch when combining.
SOURCE
Adapted from a recipe from Gourmet, July 1991

Day 69: Tomato Bread Pudding ♥

Oh man oh man. This was soooo good. Good enough for company. And easy. Easy enough for every day. And fast. Fast enough to leave time for putting together the rest of the meal.

And made with ingredients that are around 99% of the time.

How can this not be a winner? Well, it's not low-cal, that's for sure. This is the highest calorie dish in 69 days.

Using half the butter would drop each serving to 4 Weight Watchers points, still a lot for a vegetable and might not be as enjoyable. I'll try this with half the butter.

But either way, in my diet regimen, this is for special occasions, enjoying every single bite!

TOMATO BREAD PUDDING
Active time: 10 minutes
Time to table: 30 minutes
Serves 4


28 ounce can petite dice tomatoes, including juices (see ALANNA's TIPS)
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2 pinches cayenne

4 slices bread (see TIPS)
4 tablespoons butter

Preheat oven to 400F. Mix tomatoes, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce and cayenne in a medium saucepan on MEDIUM HIGH. Simmer for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, slice crusts off bread and cut into small cubes. Divide among four one-cup ramekins. Melt the butter in the microwave and pour over the bread. Scoop out a half-cup tomatoes and arrange on top of one of the ramekins, then scoop out a bit of juice and add that as well. Repeat with remaining ramekins. Bake for 20 minutes. Serve in ramekins or turn over on a plate.

NUTRITION ESTIMATE
Made with 4 tablespoons butter, Per Serving: 282 Cal (42% from Fat, 6% from Protein, 51% from Carb); 5 g Protein; 14 g Tot Fat; 7 g Sat Fat; 38 g Carb; 5 g Fiber; 12 mg Calcium; 0 mg Iron; 724 mg Sodium; 31 mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 6 points

Made with 2 tablespoons butter, Per Serving: 231 Cal (30% from Fat, 8% from Protein, 62% from Carb); 5 g Protein; 8 g Tot Fat; 4 g Sat Fat; 38 g Carb; 5 g Fiber; 10 mg Calcium; 0 mg Iron; 683 mg Sodium; 15 mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 4 points


ALANNA's TIPS
  • I used Red Gold which published taste tests say are better than other brands
  • The recipe called for a heavy, country-style white bread which I think would be delicious. That said, I loved the nuttiness and crunch from the Health Nut bread that was in the freezer - and it adds fiber as well.
SOURCE
Gourmet

Day 68: Carrots with Dill

Carrot with dill, tastes great and creates a pile of dishesI thought this'd be a snap. The lawn needed mowing, a storm was coming and needed to be beat. And the carrots needed to sit before serving. I chose the stove over the lawn mower.

The bad news is the storm hit before the carrots were done. (That's why they say, Tomorrow is another day.) The good news is the carrots turned out great and there wouldn't have been enough time to finish the yard anyway.

But oh what a pile of dishes!
  • #1 the food processor
  • #2 the pan for blanching
  • #3 the collander
  • #4 the ice water bowl
  • #5 the mixing bowl
I did, half successfully combine #2 and #4. And #2 or #4 could be used for #5 if time weren't an issue. At least I made a double recipe, 2X the results for 1X the dishes. But this may not be a keeper (only because of all the dishes it requires) even if it does look beautiful in the refrigerator. (I just love glass containers!)

CARROTS WITH DILL
Active time: 30 minutes
Time to table: 1 - 2 hours
Makes 6 cups


Water
Table salt

2 pounds carrots (prepeeled probably okay, I peeled my own)

1/2 cup finely chopped onion
2 tablespoons peanut oil
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped

Fill a Dutch oven or large pot with enough water to cover the carrots once they're grated. Add salt and bring to a boil. Prepare a bowl of ice water.

Grate the carrots in the food processor. When the water boils, add the carrots. Leave them in the water for just enough time to cook lightly, maybe 1 minute. Drain and plunge into the ice water until cold. Drain again.

Meanwhile, mix remaining ingredients. Stir in the carrots. Chill for at least 30 minutes, stirring occasionally if needed..

NUTRITION ESTIMATE
Per Serving: 57 Cal (37% from Fat, 6% from Protein, 57% from Carb); 1 g Protein; 2 g Tot Fat; 0 g Sat Fat; 9 g Carb; 2 g Fiber; 36 mg Calcium; 1 mg Iron; 348 mg Sodium; 0 mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 1 point

SOURCE
The Old Farmer's Almanac

Day 67: Sherry Slaw ♥

A slaw with an unusual sherry-mustard dressing with peanut undertonesSupper preparation started late tonight. This slaw took a mere 10 minutes and was different than anything tasted before, still slaw, but different somehow. And good!

The defining ingredients were the sherry and the peanut oil though substitutes of course would work.

SHERRY SLAW
Active time: 10 minutes
Time to table: 10 minutes
Makes 7 cups


DRESSING
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons sherry (or balsamic vinegar, the original recipe suggests)
1/4 cup peanut oil (reduced from 1/2 cup and next time I'd use 1 or 2 tablespoons)
1 tablespoon sugar

6 cups (about 8 ounces) shredded cabbage (a supermarket bag works great)
1 red pepper, chopped
1 small sweet onion, chopped
Salt & pepper to taste

Whisk together dressing ingredients. Stir the cabbage into the dressing, about a third at a time. (see ALANNA's TIPS) Chop the pepper and onion and stir in. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

NUTRITION ESTIMATE
With 1/4 Cup Peanut Oil
Per 1/2 cup: 51 Cal (69% from Fat, 4% from Protein, 27% from Carb); 0 g Protein; 4 g Tot Fat; 1 g Sat Fat; 3 g Carb; 1 g Fiber; 12 mg Calcium; 0 mg Iron; 28 mg Sodium; 0 mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 1 point

With 2 Tablespoons Peanut Oil
Per 1/2 cup: 34 Cal (54% from Fat, 6% from Protein, 41% from Carb); 0 g Protein; 2 g Tot Fat; 0 g Sat Fat; 3 g Carb; 1 g Fiber; 12 mg Calcium; 0 mg Iron; 28 mg Sodium; 0 mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 1 point

With 1 Tablespoon Peanut Oil
Per 1/2 cup: 26 Cal (38% from Fat, 8% from Protein, 54% from Carb); 0 g Protein; 1 g Tot Fat; 0 g Sat Fat; 3 g Carb; 1 g Fiber; 12 mg Calcium; 0 mg Iron; 28 mg Sodium; 0 mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 0 points


ALANNA's TIPS
  • If you're making this in advance, you can stir in the cabbage, pepper and onion at the same time. Starting early, however, helps the flavors begin to meld, a small head start, no doubt, but I think it made the salad very good in 10 minutes -- even if I suspect it'd be delicious in an hour.
  • Lots of additional ingredients come to mind: chopped apple, cucumber, pineapple, cilantro, and most of all, peanuts


VEGETABLE RECIPE INSPIRATION
Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything -- it's one of my favorite cookbooks, just the right amount of teaching with easy-to-find ingredients and easy-to-understand recipes

Kitchen Parade Extra

Visit the Kitchen Parade weekly blog for a terrific summer salad made with quinoa, a fast-cooking, protein-packed sort-of-but-not-really-grain and black beans. Not long ago, I delivered a dish to a neighbor who called later to ask, What was that? and reported that she'd eaten half a bowl at first sitting! Tis good ...

Day 66: Sunflower-Sprout Inspired Salad ♥

A salad as beautiful to behold as eagerly eaten, inspired by sunflower sproutsTonight's supper was more inspiration than recipe.

The start was plucky sunflower sprouts from yesterday's green market. I didn't know how to use them beyond the obvious: the greens in a sandwich, a salad topper. Home, I turned to www.epicurious.com for ideas. I'd wondered about a salad plate and a recipe there clinched the idea, even though I didn't follow it. The frig was full of possibilities. Instead I kept it simple.

First the dressing. There was a garlic/rosemary/olive oil rub, left over from last night's lamb. I added good vinegar and a bit of cream -- it's so obvious, of course, but I didn't know til today that the transformation of a vinaigrette to a creamy vinaigrette requires only, well, cream. There was a bit of that leftover from last night's supper too.

And some salmon from the night before. And some home-grown strawberries the size of fingertips. And goat cheese. And a few capers for salt. All on a bed of butter lettuce, baby spinach and yes, the inspiration, the sunflower sprouts.

The lesson: If you find something interesting in the produce section or the farmers market but don't know what to do with it, take it home, spend 15 minutes on the web. Start with Epicurious' treasure trove of recipes, nearly all rated by other cooks so you get a head start knowing if it'll be a hit or a miss. If need be, return to the store for anything extra that's needed. But chances are, with vegetables, you'll have the ingredients or substitutions on hand.

Here's what I threw together tonight. But find your inspiration and make it your own.

SUNFLOWER SPROUT-INSPIRED SALAD
Active time: 20 minutes
Time to table: 20 minutes


DRESSING
5 cloves garlic
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons vinegar (preferably white wine, champagne or cider)
2 tablespoons cream

Butter lettuce or other lettuce
Baby spinach
Sunflower sprouts

Poached or grilled salmon
Strawberries tossed with sugar
Goat cheese
Capers

Salt & pepper

Process garlic, olive oil, rosemary and salt until smooth. Add vinegar. (Make ahead to here.) Stir in cream.

Toss lettuce, spinach and sprouts with part of the dressing, then the salmon with the rest. Arrange greens on the plates, top with salmon, strawberries, goat cheese and capers.Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Nana's Cucumbers with Sour Cream ♥

Worth a few calories!
Today's old-fashioned recipe: Cucumbers sliced thin, salted, then tossed with sour cream and fresh chives. Low carb. Weight Watchers 2 points.

~ recipe updated 2008 ~

This is a reprise of Nana's Cucumbers, the classic summer dish of sliced cucumbers in sour cream. Back on Day 45 I made them with non-fat yogurt, a health- and calorie-conscious choice -- and they were good, decent, in fact.

With sour cream on hand and the chive needing a good clip, tonight was the night for the real thing, cucumbers with real sour cream. And oh my -- ever ever so good, so simple, so simply perfect on a hot summer night.

Surprise: For an easy, unusual appetizer, place a slice or two of sour cream-drenched cucumber on a bit of bread with butter or goat cheese. Even after dessert tonight, this is what people wanted 'just one more, please'.



VEGETABLE RECIPES from the ARCHIVES
~ more cucumber recipes ~
~ more family recipes ~
~ more vegetables with sour cream, all worth the calories! ~


NANA's CUCUMBERS with SOUR CREAM

Active time: 10 minutes
Time to table: Just over an hour
Serves 4

1 English cucumber, tips sliced off
1 tablespoon sea salt or kosher salt

1/2 cup sour cream
Generous bunch of fresh chive, snipped with scissors (See ALANNA's TIPS)
1 teaspoon sugar
Salt & pepper to taste

Slice the cucumber in thin rounds. Combine with salt and let rest for an hour in a colander. Rinse well in water and let drain. Combine with remaining ingredients and serve.


KITCHEN NOTES
Green onion might work as a substitute for fresh chive.
If the cucumber is thick at one end, consider cutting just the end in halves or even quarters before slicing thin.
I am much-attached to a 2007 acquisition, a Japanese mandoline, a device that makes creating thin, perfect slices a breeze.


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© Copyright Kitchen Parade 2005


Spinach with Roasted Pepper ♥
Another "Red and Green" Vegetable Recipe

Spinach with Roasted Pepper
Today's nutritious, delicious and eye-appealing recipe: Simple spinach sautéed with roasted red pepper. Low carb and just one point for Weight Watchers. Not just vegan, "Vegan Done Real". Plus, just in time for Christmas, another "red and green" recipe!

~recipe & photo updated & republished 2012~
~more recently updated recipes~

Original June 2005 Post on "Day 65": Isn't it pretty? And it just tastes like summer! The original recipe called for three time more fat and roasting peppers. I dismissed the former, planned for the latter. But as time ran out, I turned to one of the great convenience products in the vegetable world, a jar of roasted peppers. For a couple of bucks, a jar holds 5 - 6 peppers. They're not quite so delectable as just-roasted (How to Roast Peppers) but for the time and money, can't be beat. In just a few minutes, supper was on the table, including this plate-brightening spinach, a beautiful bed for grilled lamb chops.

2012 Update: This is so simple, it's hardly a "recipe". Nonetheless, it's a tasty way to eat more greens and appeal to the eyes as well. Very good, in summer, yes, but even in the middle of winter when our bodies becomes so starved for fresh produce.

Day 64: Sautéed Broccoli Coleslaw

This was a clean-out-the-frig-before-going-to-the-farmers-market-tomorrow night. And a simple hit!

Some droopy green onions and a bag of 'broccoli coleslaw', one of those wonderful bags of ready-to-use vegetables from the produce department, needed attention.

Wondering exactly what to do with julienned 'hearts of broccoli, carrots & red cabbage', I checked the package for an idea. A mayo-type slaw didn't appeal so I visited the web site. Get this, the address is broccoli.com!

(As a lark, I checked a few other 'vegetable' sites. Who'd guess that www.greenbeans.com is a video production company and www.cucumber.com a phone company? Poor www.squash.com and www.cauliflower.com, no one wants them.)

Anyway, the site didn't have a recipe that suited -- and I was already mid-sauté so needed to continue in that vein.

And it was good! The broccoli is in tiny slivers so cooks quickly. In fact, for anyone watching carbs, it would be a terrific substitute for rice or pasta.

SAUTÉED BROCCOLI COLESLAW
Active time: 5 minutes
Time to table: 15 minutes
Serves 4

1/4 cup 100% fat-free chicken broth (I like the Swanson's 100% fat free Natural Goodness product)
a few green onions, sliced
1 16-ounce bag broccoli coleslaw (such as Mann's Broccoli Coleslaw)
Salt & pepper

Heat chicken broth in a large, deep skillet over MEDIUM HIGH. Add green onions, stir and let soften a bit. Add broccoli coleslaw, cover and let cook until soft, about 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season to taste and serve.

NUTRITION ESTIMATE
Per Serving: 38 Cal (0% from Fat, 29% from Protein, 71% from Carb); 3 g Protein; 0 g Tot Fat; 0 g Sat Fat; 8 g Carb; 4 g Fiber; 9 mg Calcium; 0 mg Iron; 398 mg Sodium; 0 mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 0 points


Day 63: Swedish Red Cabbage & Apples ♥

Swedish Red Cabbage & Apples
Red cabbage softly cooked with tart apples, adding such welcome color and texture to a plate.

~recipe & photo updated 2008 & 2010~

2005: Couldn't get enough of this tonight! It's another winter-ish dish. But then again, served at room temperature or cold, Swedish Red Cabbage & Apples is perfect for summer, especially as a side to fish or grilled sausage, I think. And the color is fabulous. The recipe says it's a traditional Christmas dish in Sweden. It would definitely brighten a plate! and also be easy to make ahead of time.

Helsinki, Finland is perched on the Baltic Sea. When I was a student there, the favorite school lunch was batter-fried fish with mashed potatoes and a warm cabbage slaw, a sumptuous combination. Everyone took large helpings and many went back for seconds! This cabbage reminds me of those lunch-time luxuries.

Making it does take awhile, nothing complicated, just takes time - make sure your favorite knife is sharp! But the good news is that it makes a bunch and that it keeps - perhaps improves - in the fridge.

2008: This recipe has become one of my very favorites from A Veggie Venture. Two years in a row, now, I've served it with Finnish Meatballs for our supper on Christmas Eve. It can be made a day or so ahead and then just easily and quickly reheats. The apples make it slightly sweet and the butter mellows both the cabbage and apples. This is a complete winner!

TESTIMONIALS
"This reminds me of the red cabbage we had as part of a traditional Danish Christmas Eve supper-your recipe is terrific, Alanna!" ~ Kirsten
"... this recipe is one of the most popular in my kitchen" ~ Stephen

Day 62: Cauliflower with Wasabi Cheese Sauce ♥

Cauliflower with Wasabi Cheese Sauce, comfort food kicked up a small notchAnd so we launch into the third month of Kitchen Parade's Veggie Venture! It remains an adventure, fun to explore new vegetables and new ways of cooking. I can't imagine stopping now! And the traffic energy has kicked up, thanks to recent mention in Kiplog and the Cheap Veggie Gourmet.

While it's hardly 'summer' food, I gave in to a craving for cauliflower and cheese sauce tonight. My mom made it all the time when my sister and I were kids, cheese sauce on anything, always made with Velveeta. My contemporary addition is wasabi - skip this, however, for the simple comfort food, just cheese sauce on cauliflower.

The cheese sauce took more minutes of attention than I'd have guessed. If you (or your kids!) like cheese sauce, however, double or triple the sauce, keep it in the frig for other vegetables on other nights.

CAULIFLOWER with WASABI CHEESE SAUCE
Active time: 20 minutes
Time to table: 25 minutes
Serves 4 (with 3/4 cup sauce leftover)


1- 1/2 - 2 pound head of fresh cauliflower

1 tablespoon bacon fat (for flavor, butter is great too)
1/4 cup minced onion
2 teaspoons prepared wasabi (see ALANNA's TIPS)
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup skim milk
2 ounces good melting cheese (a sharp cheddar was on hand tonight), in large chunks
Salt & pepper to taste
2 ounces good melting cheese, diced (see TIPS)

Fill a large saucepan or Dutch oven with 2 inches or so of water and bring to a boil over MEDIUM HIGH. Remove the cauliflower's outer leaves. Using a sharp knife, cut a cone shape into the tough stem to remove it. Cut cauliflower into individual florets, then cut these into bite-size pieces. Place in a steamer basket atop the boiling water. Reduce heat to MEDIUM and steam for 10 - 12 minutes or until a knife can be easily inserted into a thick stem area. If the cauliflower is cooked before the sauce is ready, remove from the heat and let rest, covered.

While the cauliflower steams, heat the bacon fat in a medium saucepan over MEDIUM heat. Add the onion and cook until soft, stirring occasionally. Stir in the wasabi, then the flour and cook about 1 minute, stirring continuously. Slowly add the milk, stirring completely into the onion/flour mixture after each addition (see TIPS). Let milk heat up but don't let it boil or the sauce will curdle (see TIPS). Add the chunks of cheese and let melt completely, stirring occasionally. When the sauce is hot, taste and season (see TIPS). Immediately before serving, stir in the diced cheese (see TIPS). Pour 1/4 cup sauce over each serving.

NUTRITION ESTIMATE
Per Serving: 148 Cal (47% from Fat, 23% from Protein, 30% from Carb); 9 g Protein; 8 g Tot Fat; 4 g Sat Fat; 12 g Carb; 5 g Fiber; 200 mg Calcium; 1 mg Iron; 161 mg Sodium; 20 mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 3 points


ALANNA's TIPS
  • Garlic also works well in cheese sauce.
  • The wasabi in my frig is a new product, a tube of paste. I know it's sold in powder form but don't know what to suggest substitution-wise since I've not used it. Two teaspoons seemed like a lot when first added, but once the sauce was served, it didn't seem like enough.
  • If too much milk is added at first, there'll be no ridding the sauce of lumps. So start with a single tablespoon, work it in, then add another and work it in. Each time you work in another tablespoon, the flour/milk mixture will become increasingly liquid. Soon you'll be able to add more than a tablespoon at a time. Near the end, you can throw in whatever milk remains.
  • If the sauce curdles, it's not a train wreck -- it will taste fine, just won't look as good.
  • When seasoning the sauce, it pays to remember the cauliflower itself will not be salted.
  • Melt all 4 ounces of cheese if you like but I like small 'bursts' of intense cheese flavor in the sauce. It seems to create a bigger cheese flavor with less cheese.

Day 61: Asparagus with Creamy Mustard Dip

A last-minute dip for asparagus or other vegetablesEasy, simple, ingredients on hand - there's nothing better!

ASPARAGUS with CREAMY MUSTARD DIP
Active time: 5 minutes (dip only)
Time to table: 5 minutes
Makes 7 tablespoons

3 tablespoons low-fat mayonnaise (original recipe suggests non-fat)
2 tablespoons sour cream (original suggests non-fat)
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons dried tarragon

1 pound steamed asparagus (see ALANNA's TIPS) or other vegetables

Stir together dip ingredients. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve.

NUTRITION ESTIMATE
Dip only, per tablespoon: 31 Cal (83% from Fat, 4% from Protein, 13% from Carb); 0 g Protein; 3 g Tot Fat; 1 g Sat Fat; 1 g Carb; 0 g Fiber; 10 mg Calcium; 0 mg Iron; 104 mg Sodium; 4 mg Cholesterol Weight Watchers 1 point

One tablespoon dip with 1/4 pound asparagus: 55 Cal (46% from Fat, 19% from Protein, 36% from Carb); 3 g Protein; 3 g Tot Fat; 1 g Sat Fat; 5 g Carb; 3 g Fiber; 37 mg Calcium; 3 mg Iron; 107 mg Sodium; 4 mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 1 point


ALANNA's TIPS
  • I love my new asparagus steamer, first introduced in Day 3 but also discovered a decent alternative on Day 7
SOURCE
Weight Watchers 5 Ingredients 15 Minutes Cookbook (available at newsstands until June 21, the cover says)

You Found It Here, First!

Mark Bittman cooked for an NPR All Things Considered segment tonight - including his recipe for Beet Roesti that we cooked way back in April and still a Veggie Venture personal favorite!

But hey, you discovered it here, first, way back on Day 22!

Day 60: Pan-Roasted Broccoli

Pan roasting browned the broccoli beautifullyTonight's broccoli was easy enough, especially using broccoli crowns right from the supermarket. And the color was good - very good in fact.

But two things turned me off. Make that three.

First, the flavor was bland, like broccoli crying out to be unleashed, even with plenty of salt and pepper. And the balsamic vinegar added nothing. Second, the broccoli was decidedly chewy, not to my liking. Third, the house smells terrible, like burned broccoli!

UPDATE I've now posted a really good recipe for pan-roasted broccoli, it's called Perfect Pan-Fried Broccoli. It's delicious!

PAN-ROASTED BROCCOLI
Active time: 5 minutes plus occasional stirring
Time to table: 20 minutes
Serves 4


1 teaspoon olive oil
Butter-flavored cooking spray
1 pound broccoli florets, cut in halves or quarters for quicker cooking and easier serving
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Salt & pepper

Heat large, deep skillet over MEDIUM HIGH. Add oil and cooking spray, let these heat up while cutting the broccoli. Turn the broccoli over a few times with a spatula to distribute the oil. Roast the broccoli for 8 - 12 minutes, stirring often, until the broccoli is lightly browned and crisp tender. Remove from the heat. Add balsamic vinegar. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

NUTRITION ESTIMATE
Per Serving: 40 Cal (27% from Fat, 26% from Protein, 47% from Carb); 3 g Protein; 1 g Tot Fat; 0 g Sat Fat; 6 g Carb; 3 g Fiber; 64 mg Calcium; 1 mg Iron; 617 mg Sodium; 0 mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 0 points


SOURCE
Weight Watchers 5 Ingredients 15 Minutes Cookbook (on sale at supermarkets through June 21, this is the first of several recipes from this cookbook that hasn't met the taste test)

Day 59: Sautéed Cabbage with Dill

Cabbage sautéed with leek, freshened with dill and lemon juice<br />A simply cooked, simply eaten dish, easy to imagine aside scrambled eggs or pan-fried fish. It's not one to rave about but it's certainly a keeper, especially given the ease of preparation.

SAUTÉED CABBAGE with DILL
Active time: 5 minutes
Time to table: 15 minutes
Serves 4


2 teaspoons unsalted butter
1 large leek
1 8-ounce bag shredded cabbage and carrot
2 tablespoons fresh dill
Bit of lemon zest
1 tablespoon lemon juice (about half a small lemon)
Salt & pepper to taste (I didn't feel any was needed)

Melt the butter in a large, deep skillet with a cover on MEDIUM HIGH. While it melts, clean the leek (see ALANNA's TIPS). Add the leek and the cabbage mixture to the pan and turn them with a spatula several times to evenly distribute the butter. Cover, reduce the heat to MEDIUM and let cook for about five minutes or until the cabbage is cooked, stirring occasionally. While the cabbage cooks, chop the dill and grate a bit of lemon zest. (Use a microplane if you have one.) Remove the cabbage from the heat, stir in dill, lemon zest and lemon juice. Season and serve. (The recipe suggests it can be served warm or at room temperature.)

NUTRITION ESTIMATE
Per Serving: 45 Cal (37% from Fat, 10% from Protein, 54% from Carb); 1 g Protein; 2 g Tot Fat; 1 g Sat Fat; 7 g Carb; 2 g Fiber; 42 mg Calcium; 1 mg Iron; 15 mg Sodium; 5 mg Cholesterol


ALANNA's TIPS
  • As leeks grow, grit collects between their layers. Luckily, cleaning is easy. First slice off the dense part of the root end, crosswise. Then slice off the leaf end, leaving about an inch of pale green leaves. The cut piece will probably be about six inches long. Now cut the leek in half, lengthwise. Wash each half under running water, using your hand to loosely separate but still gather the layers. Cut leek halves crosswise into 1/2 inch half-rounds.
  • Many Weight Watchers recipes (as this is) specify 2 teaspoons fat. As regular followers know, for simplicity, I nearly always specify 1 tablespoon fat per pound of vegetables which equates one Weight Watchers point per serving, the same as this recipe. Two teaspoons is obviously only 2/3 the fat of a tablespoon and thus of course results in reduced fat consumption, a good thing. And I will say that for this particular recipe, 2 teaspoons was plenty of fat and produced a soft, buttery cabbage. As a matter of course, however, I think I'll stick to 1 tablespoon as the standard - knowing that those who need/want to adjust on their own, will.
SOURCE
Weight Watchers 15 Minutes 5 Ingredients Cookbook (the cover says it's on sale at supermarkets until June 21)

Kitchen Parade Extra

If you still haven't gotten enough of spring rhubarb, visit the Kitchen Parade weekly blog for a recipe for Country Rhubarb Cobbler.

Day 58: Roasted Asparagus with Browned Butter

Picked yesterday, the man at the farmers market saidWhat a lesson: Perfect, ultra-fresh need little - any? - adornment.

The browned butter sauce is perfectly good - really good, in fact. But the asparagus were so perfect, all on their own, that the sauce actually detracted.

The roasting process (without the browned butter) is a great zero-point way to roast asparagus and presumably other vegetables. Usually it seems to take more oil than I'd like to coat vegetables headed to the oven for roasting AND it's sort of an oily mess, I usually just dig in with my hands for simplicity and speed.

The cooking spray (or a mister with your own oil) makes light, er, work of the process and calorie impact.

ROASTED ASPARAGUS with BROWNED BUTTER
Active time: 10 minutes
Time to table: 25 minutes
Serves 4


1 pound asparagus
Butter-flavored cooking spray
Salt & pepper

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 400F. Clean and trim asparagus, removing the woody ends. Place asparagus on a rimmed baking sheet in a single layer and mist with cooking spray. Apply salt and pepper generously. Roast 12 minutes or until the asparagus is cooked (thick spears will take longer).

While the asparagus cooks, melt the butter in a small saucepan on MEDIUM until it browns a bit - watch carefully, once the butter starts to brown, it can burn quickly. (I had to make it twice tonight.) Remove the butter from the stove and stir in the soy sauce and balsamic vinegar. Pour over the cooked asparagus and serve.

NUTRITION ESTIMATE
Per Serving: 50 Cal (48% from Fat, 19% from Protein, 33% from Carb); 3 g Protein; 3 g Tot Fat; 2 g Sat Fat; 5 g Carb; 2 g Fiber; 29 mg Calcium; 3 mg Iron; 449 mg Sodium; 8 mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 1 point


SOURCE
Weight Watchers 5 Ingredient 15 Minutes Cookbook (at groceries until June 21, the cover says)

Day 57: Pied Piper Refrigerator Pickles ♥

Pied Pipers on a turkey sandwich class=These are a refrigerator pickle adaptation of my favorite Pied Piper Pickles from a 'canning crusade' three summers ago when in the course of a few weeks, I canned something like 200 jars of 30 different things!

This version keeps in the frig for a week or so versus being canned. The inspiration came from a wonderful Trader Joe's product, frozen grilled peppers. I've been looking for more ways to use them -- they're cheap, convenient, nutritious, oh, and taste great too!

June 1 Taste Report: I've used Pied Pipers in several ways, all good. The favorite so far is as a tomato stand-in on sandwiches, especially since real tomatoes are still several weeks away. Try these:

  • Atop grilled / roasted chicken / turkey sandwiches
  • Chopped, in an omelet
  • Chopped, added to tuna salad
  • Chopped, added to potato salad

  • PIED PIPER REFRIGERATOR PICKLES
    Active time: 15 minutes (6 hands on)
    Time to table: 24 hours
    Makes about 20 slices


    1 cup water
    1 cup tarragon vinegar
    1/2 cup sugar
    1/2 teaspoon celery seed
    1/2 teaspoon mustard seed
    2 cloves garlic, crushed
    1 teaspoon kosher salt

    1 16-ounce package Trader Joe's grilled red & yellow peppers

    Bring all ingredients except peppers to boil in a saucepan. Reduce heat and let simmer about 5 minutes. Place frozen peppers in a glass jar with a lid. Pour hot liquid over the jar. Refrigerate for at least 24 hours.

    NUTRITION ESTIMATE
    Per Slice: 16 Cal (2% from Fat, 7% from Protein, 91% from Carb); 0 g Protein; 0 g Tot Fat; 0 g Sat Fat; 4 g Carb; 0 g Fiber; 3 mg Calcium; 0 mg Iron; 121 mg Sodium; 0 mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 0 points

    Day 56: Butter-Simmered & Chutney-Glazed Carrots ♥

    ~recipe & photo updated in 2007~

    Two recipes tonight. Make them separately or together. (Hey, wait a minute? Do I get a day off now? No way!)

    The first is a new way to boil carrots. Water and salt, right? Tonight The Minimalist Mark Bittman has convinced me otherwise. He cooks them in a bit of water, a bit of butter (or olive oil if you insist), salt and pepper. And wow: they're the best simply cooked carrots I've ever tasted.

    The second comes from a Weight Watchers cookbook from the grocery store last week. (It's a winner. The cover says it'll be on sale through June.) It adds chutney and mustard to cooked carrots. Again, delicious.

    2007 PHOTO UPDATE: Very simple, almost cook themselves while you prepare the rest of supper. These might also be good for someone who needs to limit their sodium intake: even to my salt-happy palate, these tasted quite delicious with ZERO salt. I also liked the summer brightness of fresh mint tucked into the carrots after they'd cooked.



    VEGETABLE RECIPES from the ARCHIVES
    ~ more carrot recipes ~
    ~ more favorite vegetable recipes (this was my very favorite recipe in May 2005!) ~


    BUTTER-SIMMERED CARROTS &
    CHUTNEY-GLAZED CARROTS

    Active time: 5 minutes
    Time to table: 15 minutes
    Serves 4


    1/4 cup water
    2 tablespoons butter or olive oil (next time I'll try just 1 tablespoon, 2007: 1 tablespoon was more than fine, try 1 teaspoon, just a tiny bit for flavor)
    1 teaspoon sugar
    Kosher salt & freshly ground pepper to taste (2007, I happily skipped both)
    1 pound carrots (okay, okay, pre-peeled are fine, get the baby ones if possible)

    2 tablespoons prepared chutney
    2 teaspoons Dijon mustard (the recips suggests whole-grain Dijon, smooth was fine)

    Combine water, butter, sugar, salt and pepper and carrots in medium saucepan over MEDIUM HIGH (get a small head start by turning the stove on with water and butter, then adding other ingredients) and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to MEDIUM and cook for about 5 minutes. Uncover, raise the heat a bit, then cook, stirring occasionally, until water boils away and carrots are cooking in the butter or oil. Reduce the heat a bit and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until carrots are cooked. (If you're making Chutney-Glazed Carrots, move to the next paragraph.) Season to taste with additional salt and pepper and serve.

    For Chutney-Glazed Carrots, stir in chutney and mustard. Serve.

    NUTRITION ESTIMATE
    Butter-Simmered Carrots only
    Cooked with 2T butter, Per Serving: 102 Cal (51% from Fat, 4% from Protein, 45% from Carb); 1 g Protein; 6 g Tot Fat; 4 g Sat Fat; 12 g Carb; 3 g Fiber; 40 mg Calcium; 0 mg Iron; 374 mg Sodium; 15 mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 2 points

    Cooked with 1T butter, Per Serving: 76 Cal (35% from Fat, 5% from Protein, 59% from Carb); 1 g Protein; 3 g Tot Fat; 2 g Sat Fat; 12 g Carb; 3 g Fiber; 39 mg Calcium; 0 mg Iron; 373 mg Sodium; 8 mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 1 point

    Chutney-Glazed Carrots
    Cooked with 1T butter, Per Serving: 98 Cal (29% from Fat, 5% from Protein, 67% from Carb); 1 g Protein; 3 g Tot Fat; 2 g Sat Fat; 17 g Carb; 4 g Fiber; 41 mg Calcium; 0 mg Iron; 405 mg Sodium; 8 mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 1 point

    Cooked with 2T butter, Per Serving: 123 Cal (43% from Fat, 4% from Protein, 53% from Carb); 1 g Protein; 6 g Tot Fat; 4 g Sat Fat; 17 g Carb; 4 g Fiber; 42 mg Calcium; 0 mg Iron; 405 mg Sodium; 15 mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 2 points

    SOURCE
    Butter-Simmered Carrots: How to Cook Everything, Mark Bittman
    Weight Watchers 5 Ingredients 15 Minutes Cookbook

    Day 55: Swedish Vegetables

    Pretty food simply tastes better!Here I thought I was being sooo smart, making supper-time vegetables first thing in the morning.

    The recipe was a reprise of Day 36's Swedish Beets, the food obsession of the moment.

    With a freezer full of frozen vegetables needing cooking+consumption, I piled a couple of bags - still frozen - into a big glass jar while the vinegar mix was heating up in the microwave, tossed them together and threw the jar in the frig.

    The idea: The hot liquid would thaw the vegetables. The vinegar would cook them.

    Eight hours later - the vegetables were still a bit icy and, well, raw.

    Twenty-four hours later - delicious, a summer standby.

    SWEDISH VEGETABLES
    Active time: 5 minutes
    Time to table: 24 hours
    Serves 8


    1 cup cider vinegar (I'm liking cider vinegar a bit more though the white is perfectly good too)
    1 cup water
    1/4 cup sugar (reduced from 1/2 cup in Swedish beets)
    2 teaspoons salt
    1/4 teaspoon pepper (a defining ingredient, don't skip it)

    16 ounces cut frozen green beans (or whatever you like)
    16 ounces frozen stir-fry vegetables (snow peas, red pepper, broccoli, water chestnut - or whatever you like)

    Combine the vinegar, water, sugar, salt and pepper in a microwave container. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Bring to boil in the microwave, stirring after 1 minute to help sugar dissolve. Meanwhile place the frozen vegetables in a storage container. Pour hot liquid over the vegetables and refrigerate for 24 hours, turning the container occasionally if a few vegetables aren't immersed in the liquid.

    NUTRITION ESTIMATE
    Per Serving: 55 Cal (1% from Fat, 8% from Protein, 91% from Carb); 1 g Protein; 0 g Tot Fat; 0 g Sat Fat; 11 g Carb; 3 g Fiber; 23 mg Calcium; 1 mg Iron; 603 mg Sodium; 0 mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 0 points



    ALANNA's TIPS
    • Even after 24 hours of 'cooking' in the vinegar, the vegetables may have more crunch than everyone appreciates. Try steaming a bit before adding the hot liquid.
    • These do look absolutely stunning in a glass jar - worthy of a purchase!

    Pretty food simply tastes better!

    Here I thought I was being sooo smart, making supper-time vegetables first thing in the morning.

    The recipe was a reprise of Day 36's Swedish Beets, the food obsession of the moment.

    With a freezer full of frozen vegetables needing cooking+consumption, I piled a couple of bags - still frozen - into a big glass jar while the vinegar mix was heating up in the microwave, tossed them together and threw the jar in the frig.

    The idea: The hot liquid would thaw the vegetables. The vinegar would cook them.

    Eight hours later - the vegetables were still a bit icy and, well, raw.

    Twenty-four hours later - delicious, a summer standby.


    SWEDISH VEGETABLES
    Active time: 5 minutes
    Time to table: 24 hours
    Serves 8


    1 cup cider vinegar (I'm liking cider vinegar a bit more though the white is perfectly good too)
    1 cup water
    1/4 cup sugar (reduced from 1/2 cup in Swedish beets)
    2 teaspoons salt
    1/4 teaspoon pepper (a defining ingredient, don't skip it)

    16 ounces cut frozen green beans (or whatever you like)
    16 ounces frozen stir-fry vegetables (snow peas, red pepper, broccoli, waterchestnut - or whatever you like)

    Combine the vinegar, water, sugar, salt and pepper in a microwave container. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Bring to boil in the microwave, stirring after 1 minute to help sugar dissolve. Meanwhile place the frozen vegetables in a storage container. Pour hot liquid over the vegetables and refrigerate for 24 hours, turning the container occasionally if a few vegetables aren't immersed in the liquid.


    NUTRITION ESTIMATE
    Per Serving: 55 Cal (1% from Fat, 8% from Protein, 91% from Carb); 1 g Protein; 0 g Tot Fat; 0 g Sat Fat; 11 g Carb; 3 g Fiber; 23 mg Calcium; 1 mg Iron; 603 mg Sodium; 0 mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 0 points



    ALANNA's TIPS
    • Even after 24 hours of 'cooking' in the vinegar, the vegetables may have more crunch than everyone appreciates. Try steaming a bit before adding the hot liquid.
    • These do look absolutely stunning in a glass jar - worthy of a purchase!

    Day 54: Spinach Pancake

    Look, a vegetable jelly roll cake!What fun!

    Sure, I would make this differently another time - but I will definitely make it another time. It's a crepe-textured pancake rolled with sauteed spinach.

    It's more special-occasion than every-day fare but still, easy to make. The results are considerably more impressive than the level of difficulty.

    And it's surprisingly low in calories. I even checked the nutrition analysis - it's all that spinach and relatively small, but still generous, servings.

    SPINACH PANCAKE
    Active time: 30 minutes (including 10 to clean spinach which isn't necessary with bagged spinach and 15 when there's lots of open time but you can't really leave the stove)
    Time to table: 50 minutes
    Serves 8


    2 eggs
    2 cups skim milk
    1 cup flour
    1 teaspoon baking powder
    1 teaspoon salt
    1 tablespoon unsalted butter

    2 tablespoons butter (original recipe specified 3 but 2 seems fine)
    1 pound spinach, chopped
    1/2 teaspoon nutmeg (original recipe specified 1/4 teaspoon, think 1/2 is better)
    Kosher salt
    White pepper

    With a hand mixer, blend eggs and milk. Add flour (see ALANNA's TIPS), baking powder and salt and beat lightly until fully combined. Let rest at room temperature for 30 minutes. After 20 minutes, preheat oven at 350F. Place 1 tablespoon butter on a 11 x 15 rimmed baking sheet and place in oven. When butter melts, remove from oven, spread over entire surface. Gently pour batter into pan. When oven is fully heated, bake about 20 minutes or until golden but not brown.

    While pancake bakes, heat 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet or Dutch oven over MEDIUM HIGH. Add spinach in batches, adding more as it cooks down, until fully cooked but still bright green. Add nutmeg and season to taste with sale and white pepper.

    When baked, leave pancake in pan. Lift the edges to make sure it's going to release. Spread spinach evenly over top, right to the edges. Roll pancake into using the long end. Slice crosswise and serve.

    (See ALANNA's TIPS)
    • Flour settles so heavily that it should always be stirred until quite light before spooning out for measuring. Stirring it first means you'll actually use 25% less flour (in weight not volume) and the difference in cookies, bread, pancakes, muffins and other baked goods is noticeable - for the good.


    NUTRITION ESTIMATE
    Per Serving: 160 Cal (36% from Fat, 20% from Protein, 44% from Carb); 8 g Protein; 7 g Tot Fat; 4 g Sat Fat; 18 g Carb; 2 g Fiber; 221 mg Calcium; 2 mg Iron; 455 mg Sodium; 74 mg Cholesterol; Weight Watchers 3 points

    Nutrition with 1/2 pancake ingredients: Per Serving: 108 Cal (45% from Fat, 18% from Protein, 37% from Carb); 5 g Protein; 6 g Tot Fat; 3 g Sat Fat; 10 g Carb; 2 g Fiber; 155 mg Calcium; 2 mg Iron; 249 mg Sodium; 43 mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 2 points


    THOUGHTS FOR ANOTHER TIME
    • The pancake was too thick - consider using only half the pancake ingredients. The baking time will be affected. Half may be too drastic - you still have to spread the spinach on the hot pancake so half may be it too thin and delicate, too easy to tear when rolling.
    • The original recipe called for a 10 x 14 pan so the pancake would have been really - really - thick.
    • Watch baking time, tonight was underbaked at 20 minutes but because recipe cautioned about over-baking, I took out thinking it was done enough.
    • There was too little spinach, probably because I started with a pound of home-grown spinach and then removed all the stems and heavy veins. A pound is probably enough if using baby spinach.
    • The spinach should be chopped before cooking - pureeing it made it too fine and dense but doing nothing made it too thick to spread.
    • Spread spinach right to edges to improve the appearance of the end pieces. Consider slicing ends off so all eight slices have sharp-cut sides.
    • Roll along the long edge if possible so spirals are thinner although this may not be necessary with a thinner pancake.
    • Serve on a bed of tomato or red pepper coulis, maybe topped with a spoon of hollandaise or similar sauce.



    SOURCE
    The Finnish Cookbook by Beatrice Ojakangas
    What fun!

    Sure, I would make this differently another time - but I will definitely make it another time. It's a crepe-textured pancake rolled with sauteed spinach.

    It's more special-occasion than every-day fare but still, easy to make. The results are considerably more impressive than the level of difficulty.

    And it's surprisingly low in calories. I even checked the nutrition analysis - it's all that spinach and relatively small, but still generous, servings.

    SPINACH PANCAKE
    Active time: 30 minutes (including 10 to clean spinach which isn't necessary with bagged spinach and 15 when there's lots of open time but you can't really leave the stove)
    Time to table: 50 minutes
    Serves 8

    2 eggs
    2 cups skim milk
    1 cup flour
    1 teaspoon baking powder
    1 teaspoon salt
    1 tablespoon unsalted butter

    2 tablespoons butter (original recipe specified 3 but 2 seems fine)
    1 pound spinach, chopped
    1/2 teaspoon nutmeg (original recipe specified 1/4 teaspoon, think 1/2 is better)
    Kosher salt
    White pepper

    With a hand mixer, blend eggs and milk. Add flour (see ALANNA's TIPS), baking powder and salt and beat lightly until fully combined. Let rest at room temperature for 30 minutes. After 20 minutes, preheat oven at 350F. Place 1 tablespoon butter on a 11 x 15 rimmed baking sheet and place in oven. When butter melts, remove from oven, spread over entire surface. Gently pour batter into pan. When oven is fully heated, bake about 20 minutes or until golden but not brown.

    While pancake bakes, heat 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet or Dutch oven over MEDIUM HIGH. Add spinach in batches, adding more as it cooks down, until fully cooked but still bright green. Add nutmeg and season to taste with sale and white pepper.

    When baked, leave pancake in pan. Lift the edges to make sure it's going to release. Spread spinach evenly over top, right to the edges. Roll pancake into using the long end. Slice crosswise and serve.

    (See ALANNA's TIPS)
    • Flour settles so heavily that it should always be stirred until quite light before spooning out for measuring. Stirring it first means you'll actually use 25% less flour (in weight not volume) and the difference in cookies, bread, pancakes, muffins and other baked goods is noticeable - for the good.
    NUTRITION ESTIMATE
    Per Serving: 160 Cal (36% from Fat, 20% from Protein, 44% from Carb); 8 g Protein; 7 g Tot Fat; 4 g Sat Fat; 18 g Carb; 2 g Fiber; 221 mg Calcium; 2 mg Iron; 455 mg Sodium; 74 mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers

    THOUGHTS FOR ANOTHER TIME
    • The pancake was too thick - consider using only half the pancake ingredients. The baking time will be affected. Half may be too drastic - you still have to spread the spinach on the hot pancake so half may be it too thin and delicate, too easy to tear when rolling.
    • The original recipe called for a 10 x 14 pan so the pancake would have been really - really - thick.
    • Watch baking time, tonight was underbaked at 20 minutes but because recipe cautioned about over-baking, I took out thinking it was done enough.
    • There was too little spinach, probably because I started with a pound of home-grown spinach and then removed all the stems and heavy veins. A pound is probably enough if using baby spinach.
    • The spinach should be chopped before cooking - pureeing it made it too fine and dense but doing nothing made it too thick to spread.
    • Spread spinach right to edges to improve the appearance of the end pieces. Consider slicing ends off so all eight slices have sharp-cut sides.
    • Roll along the long edge if possible so spirals are thinner although this may not be necessary with a thinner pancake.
    • Serve on a bed of tomato or red pepper coulis, maybe topped with a spoon of hollandaise or similar sauce.
    • Nutrion with 1/2 pancake ingredients: Per Serving: 108 Cal (45% from Fat, 18% from Protein, 37% from Carb); 5 g Protein; 6 g Tot Fat; 3 g Sat Fat; 10 g Carb; 2 g Fiber; 155 mg Calcium; 2 mg Iron; 249 mg Sodium; 43 mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 2 points

    SOURCE
    The Finnish Cookbook by Beatrice Ojakangas

    Day 53: Fresh Kohlrabi


    Fat bulbs of kohlrabi from the farmers market on Saturday, they held well in the refrigerator

    Day 53: Fresh Kohlrabi ♥

    Fresh Kohlrabi
    Today's quick vegetable snack: Fresh, raw kohlrabi, as a snack, just like carrot sticks or cucumber wedges.

    ~updated 2011~
    ~more recently updated recipes~

    2005: Thanks to more back-breaking work in the garden late today, it's more raw food tonight, thick slices of almost-peppery kohlrabi. Kohlrabi (pronounced kall-ROB-ee) is a member of the turnip family and is some times called 'cabbage turnip'. Maybe that's because the color is just like a green cabbage! I liked raw kohlrabi better than last night's radishes and spring onions, it just seems more edible than, well, raw. (Later: And it tasted good the next day too, a desktop munch while working.)

    2011: Raw kohlrabi is a great before-supper snack, wet and crisp, wetter than a carrot, crisper than a turnip. It's good!

    Day 52: Just-Picked Radishes & Spring Onions


    Radishes and spring onions from the farmers market (that's kohlrabi on the right for another night this week)

    Day 52: Just-Picked Radishes & Spring Onions

    Radishes and spring onions from the farmers market (that's kohlrabi on the right for another night this week)Tonight was an adventure in raw food, graceful lengths of rose-colored radish and thick bulbs of spring onion.

    Both were locally grown and purchased at Soulard Market, St. Louis' old farmers market. There are newer and closer (and more fru-fru, hmmmm, how exactly does one spell fru-fru?) markets with organic eggs and bison meat and omelets made to order. But Soulard -- one of the few places where city folks and suburbanites mingle, where you'll hear a half dozen languages in a half hour, where the chickens and ducks are sold live -- remains my favorite.

    Radishes and green onions -- new vegetables? Of course not.

    But for the first time, I paid attention, close attention. What did they really look like? smell like? taste like? What was the texture? the lingering taste? What happened with the Asian Dip leftover from the other night? A smear of butter?

    JUST-PICKED RADISHES & SPRING ONIONS
    Time to table: 5 minutes
    Time to enjoy:
    Serves 4


    about 8 radish lengths
    about 4 spring onions (also called green onions)
    time to experiment, experience, savor

    Clean vegetables well, leaving leaves attached to radishes. Arrange artfully on individual plates or a serving platter. Examine each vegetable, take a small nibble, consider its taste and texture, scent and sensation. Dip each vegetable in a dip of some sort or smear with a bit of butter. Taste and consider again. Dip each vegetable in a good salt. Taste and consider again. Repeat.

    Kitchen Parade Extra

    Nearly always, fish makes for a fast supper. Visit the Kitchen Parade weekly blog for a recipe for Roasted Salmon & Asparagus, a delightful combination that takes 10 minutes of preparation and can be delivered to the table in just 35 minutes .

    Day 51: Fiddlehead Ferns


    Delicate fronds of fiddlehead ferns, also called ostrich ferns

    Day 51: Fiddlehead Ferns

    Delicate fronds of fiddlehead ferns, also called ostrich fernsWhat a surprise to come upon fiddlehead ferns in the supermarket today! Did I never notice unusual vegetables before? Or are supermarkets experimenting with new items?

    Three years ago, my family published a cookbook. My cousin Laura lives in British Columbia and has been a vegetarian for years and years -- though her four children and her husband are not -- and is an inspiring cook. One of her many contributions to the cookbook was a recipe for fiddlehead ferns.

    So when I discovered these at the supermarket today, there was no NOT bringing them home (even at $10 a pound) and I knew right where to turn to learn how to cook them.

    Laura's recipe calls for scads of butter -- I just couldn't do it. But these were utterly delicious and so very, very pretty! Look at those curlicues!

    What do they taste like? I wondered that as I ate them tonight. They taste like nothing I've ever had before. The only words I know to describe the taste are 'green' and 'alive'.

    Keep your eyes peeled, decide for yourself.

    2012 UPDATE: A careful reader suggests reading the comment, below, from Emily about the risks of under-cooking fiddlehead ferns. In fact, Health Canada has issued a notice about this, see Food Safety Tips for Fiddlehead Ferns. My own experience with fiddlehead ferns is limited to this one occasion, but I don't think my cousin would have put them into a family cookbook without good experiences herself.

    FIDDLEHEAD FERNS
    Active time: 5 minutes
    Time to table: 15 minutes
    Serves 2


    1 tablespoon butter
    1 clove garlic, minced
    1/2 pound fiddlehead ferns
    Salt & pepper to taste
    Lemon juice

    Melt butter in a skillet over MEDIUM until shimmery. Add garlic and saute until just beginning to soften. Wash ferns well and add to skillet. Saute about five minutes.

    NUTRITION ESTIMATE
    The USDA database includes a listing for fiddleheads (both fresh and frozen) but no underlying nutrition data. With a tablespoon of butter for two servings, I counted 1 serving as 2 Weight Watchers points.

    Day 50: Roasted Green Beans

    ~ recipe & photo updated in 2007 ~

    2005: I took advantage of what's likely a last cool day -- and ran the oven, ran it, that is, without the air conditioning on as well.

    My first reaction to these green beans was that they were, well, chewy. Make that very chewy. Once I slowed down and appreciated the texture and the salty grit, I liked them. And they're so easy to throw in the oven for 10 - 15 minutes when it's on for something else, this is a definite keeper. And I love the tin-foil covered pan - nothing to wash afterward!

    2007 PHOTO UPDATE: In 2007, I fell in love with green beans all over again. But here's what I think, with two+ years of experience of cooking vegetables: green beans just don't work roasted. This time, I used a similar recipe, but from Cook's Illustrated, the folks who test again and again to perfect every little detail. I tossed the beans fresh from the farmers market in the recommended amount of olive oil (just a tablespoon for a pound, which happens to be the standard proportion on A Veggie Venture) and roasted them at 450F for the recommended 20 - 22 minutes (with a toss after 10 minutes). They really didn't finish cooking until after 30 minutes. And even then, to my taste, there's just better ways to cook green beans. See all the green bean recipes for ideas. Watch for the , they're favorites. Now, that said, my beans weren't as wrinkled and crinkly after 30 minutes as Cooks Illustrated's were pictured after supposedly 20 - 22 minutes. Maybe that would make the difference? Maybe.

    ROASTED GREEN BEANS
    Active time: 8 minutes
    Time to table: 30 minutes
    Serves 4


    1 pound fresh green beans
    Butter-flavored cooking spray (or for Cook's Illustrated, 1 tablespoon olive oil)
    Salt & pepper

    Set the oven to 450F. Cover a baking sheet with tin foil. Wash the beans and remove the stem ends. Be sure to dry them well, you can wrap in a towel for a minute or two. Arrange in a single layer on the baking sheet. Spray with cooking spray. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Roast 10 - 15 minutes or until just beginning to shrink and brown. (see ALANNA's TIPS)

    NUTRITION ESTIMATE
    Per Serving: 37 Cal (5% from Fat, 18% from Protein, 77% from Carb); 2 g Protein; 0 g Tot Fat; 0 g Sat Fat; 9 g Carb; 3 g Fiber; 48 mg Calcium; 1 mg Iron; 3 mg Sodium; 0 mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 0 points

    ALANNA's TIPS
    • If I were in a hurry, I'd throw the beans in the oven as soon as they were cleaned, even if the oven weren't preheated. I know of nothing to stop this practice -- does anyone else? I'm happy to be educated if there is -- but if you can save 10 minutes when the masses are starving, isn't that something?
    • While the fresh green beans were good, I suspect that frozen beans would work as well.

    SOURCE
    A new Weight Watchers cookbook that I spied in the supermarket checkout lane last week. It's called Five Ingredients, 15 Minutes and the vegetable section is terrific and the rest is pretty good too. The cover says it'll be on display until June 21.

    Day 49: Asian-Style Dip with Fresh Vegetables

    This dip is easy to make. And fast. And it's good. And yet ... I wouldn't make it again.

    "This is different," was the consensus reaction. There are times when 'different' means GOOD and others when different means, HMMM. This was a Hmmm.

    That said, for anyone who likes sesame seeds, it might be a good choice. If one thing makes this dip stand out, it is the nutty toasted sesame seeds - don't be tempted to leave them out.

    ASIAN-STYLE DIP with FRESH VEGETABLES
    Active time: 15 minutes
    Time to table: 15 minutes
    Dip makes 1 cup


    2 tablespoons sesame seeds
    1/2 cup low-fat mayonnaise
    1/4 cup non-fat yogurt (the original recipe suggested sour cream)
    1 tablespoon fresh ginger (from a jar)
    1 teaspoon chili paste (cayenne might be good substitute)
    1 teaspoon Dijon or other good mustard
    2 tablespoons soy sauce
    1 tablespoon rice vinegar
    1 tablespoon sesame oil (maybe 2 teaspoons would be better? even 1?)
    1 teaspoon sugar
    Salt & pepper to taste

    Fresh cucumber, carrots, grape tomatoes

    Toast sesame seeds in a small skillet on MEDIUM heat, stirring occasionally, until browning and fragrant.(See ALANNA's TIPS.) Mix remaining ingredients in a bowl with a wooden spoon. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add sesame seeds. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Clean vegetables and serve.

    NUTRITION ESTIMATE
    Per tablespoon of dressing: 40 Cal (80% from Fat, 4% from Protein, 16% from Carb); 0 g Protein; 4 g Tot Fat; 0 g Sat Fat; 2 g Carb; 0 g Fiber; 2 mg Calcium; 0 mg Iron; 182 mg Sodium; 3 mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 1 point


    ALANNA's TIPS
    • Dry toasting sesame seeds is easy but once they begin to brown, they go fast. So keep careful watch so you don't end up with blackened crisps.
    • The original recipe included 2 tablespoons of fresh chopped basil - I had none on hand and couldn't imagine the flavor combination. But basil might improve the dip's color which is a dull soy-brown -- it might take on an especially nice green cast if mixed in a blender.

    SOURCE
    Adapted from Bon Appetit, December 1998

    Day 48: French Green Beans with Lemon-Garlic Sauce

    Romano beans and new potatoes with a thick version of lemon-garlic sauce, here used as a dip
    Recipe updated & photo added in 2007

    May 2005: "Can't say I've ever made a 'sauce' before, you know, the la-di-da sauces in French cooking. Tonight's first-ever attempt yielded less than perfect results but I won't be intimidated again -- I think this Florence Fabricant recipe is forgiving. And delicious. And flexible. My mistake was focus, to be precise, failure to focus. Imagine a stack of dominoes collapsing. I started cooking during the next-to-last episode of the enigmatic Lost. While the castaways struggled, the white wine/shallots/garlic burned. When it ended, I started over. But short on white wine, I resorted to part white / part (decidedly pink) pinotage which likely affected flavor and noticeably affected color. Rules for the next attempt. Stay in the kitchen. Pay attention to the pot. Revel in the result."

    August 2007: I tackled this sauce again and found it easy if slightly fussy. The good news is that the sauce can be made ahead of time and can be done in a thick version (like the one pictured) for dipping or a thin version for drizzling. I also used fresh Romano green beans, which are gorgeous. And honestly if you're making a sauce like this, a fair amount of trouble, go to the extra 'trouble' of fresh beans.

    FRENCH GREEN BEANS with LEMON-GARLIC SAUCE
    Active time: Maybe 20 minutes
    Time to table: Maybe 30 minutes
    Beans serve 4, sauce makes 3/4 cup (use 1 tablespoon sauce per serving of beans)


    2 quarts water
    1 tablespoon table salt
    1 pound fresh green beans, ends trimmed (in 2005, I used frozen French beans)

    2/3 cup dry white wine
    1 tablespoon minced garlic
    1 tablespoon minced shallot
    1/2 cup lemon juice (from 2 - 3 lemons) (see ALANNA's TIPS)
    3 egg yolks, lightly whisked
    2 teaspoons cornstarch blended with 1 tablespoon water
    1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
    As much as 1/2 cup chicken broth (the original recipe suggests fish or vegetable stock as well)
    Salt & pepper to taste
    Minced herbs or pesto, optional (I didn't use any)

    Bring salted water to boil in a large pot, one that leaves room for the beans to move around as they cook. Add the beans and cook for about 7 minutes or until tender-crisp or until reach desired tenderness. Drain.

    While beans cook, make the sauce. Cook wine, garlic and shallots over MEDIUM heat in a small heavy saucepan until wine cooks down by about half and garlic and shallots are soft, about 10 minutes. (While the wine cooks down, prep the lemon juice, yolks, cornstarch mixture and herbs and get out the olive oil, chicken broth and salt and pepper; once the eggs are added, there's no time for anything else.)

    Remove from heat and whisk in lemon juice and egg yolks. Return to heat and cook, whisking constantly - pay attention for the sauce will cook very quickly from here. Sauce will thicken to consistency of heavy cream, don't let it boil. Continuing to whisk, add cornstarch mixture and then, slowly, the olive oil. Add chicken broth to achieve the desired consistency, more for a thinner sauce, less for a thicker one. Strain sauce through a sieve to remove the garlic and shallot solids. Season with salt and pepper, add herbs if desired. Top each serving of beans with 1 tablespoon sauce.

    NUTRITION ESTIMATE
    Per Serving: 100 Cal (50% from Fat, 11% from Protein, 39% from Carb); 3 g Protein; 6 g Tot Fat; 1 g Sat Fat; 10 g Carb; 3 g Fiber; 56 mg Calcium; 1 mg Iron; 18 mg Sodium; 51 mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 2 points


    SOURCE
    Adapted from a Florence Fabricant recipe published in New York Times May 18, 2005

    Day 47: Jerusalem Artichokes as Crudités

    Knobs of Jerusalem artichokes, straight from the packageOdd little knobs, these Jerusalem artichokes. And who'd guess that something named such would neither be from no where near the Wailing Wall nor an artichoke?

    (And here I was thinking this could be one artichoke I'd actually like ...)

    Like hapless-prunes-turned-chic-dried-plums, these are now marketed as sunchokes. The new name fits. Supposedly they're related to sunflowers. And well, to be frank, peeling them is a bit of a choke.

    That said, I'm glad I tried these. They're all about crunch. Good crunch. I'd add them to a crudité platter any time, like tonight. Well except for the fact that they turn a dull gray after about 15 minutes of air exposure. No matter, just eat fast. Or close your eyes.

    However, people do cook Jerusalem artichokes. I found recipes that called for peeling scads of them for gratins and mashed somethings. I can't imagine: peeling is extraordinarily tedious, especially because even with great care, they just don't look that great in the end.

    So, try them. They taste good. And then wait until the genetic manipulators remove the knobs to make them easier to peel.





    JERUSALEM ARTICHOKES AS CRUDITÉS
    Active time: 15 minutes
    Time to table: 15 minutes
    Serves 4


    1/2 pound Jerusalem artichokes

    Wash well. Peel. Slice thin. Serve.

    ... and peeled and sliced.
    Odd little knobs, these Jerusalem artichokes. And who'd guess that something named such would neither be from no where near the Wailing Wall nor an artichoke?

    (And here I was thinking this could be one artichoke I'd actually like ...)

    Like hapless-prunes-turned-chic-dried-plums, these are now marketed as sunchokes. The new name fits. Supposedly they're related to sunflowers. And well, to be frank, peeling them is a bit of a choke.

    That said, I'm glad I tried these. They're all about crunch. Good crunch. I'd add them to a crudite platter any time, like tonight. Well except for the fact that they turn a dull gray after about 15 minutes of air exposure. No matter, just eat fast. Or close your eyes.

    However, people do cook Jerusalem artichokes. I found recipes that called for peeling scads of them for gratins and mashed somethings. I can't imagine: peeling is extraordinarily tedious, especially because even with great care, they just don't look that great in the end.

    So, try them. They taste good. And then wait until the genetic manipulators remove the knobs to make them easier to peel.

    JERUSALEM ARTICHOKES AS CRUDITES
    Active time: 15 minutes
    Time to table: 15 minutes
    Serves 4

    1/2 pound Jerusalem artichokes

    Wash well. Peel. Slice thin. Serve.