Day 138: Tomato Cocktail ♥

Not Your Mother's V-8.

Instead, this tomato cocktail is faintly sweet, almost fruity. It's frothy and refreshing. It's slightly puzzling, an enigma of scent and flavor and texture.

If you're working on Five-a-Day in Three-(Meals)-a-Day, this would be lovely at breakfast.


Hands-on time: 10 minutes
Time to table: 4 hours
Makes 3 cups

2 pounds cherry tomatoes (the tomato man reports they hold the most juice)
1 red pepper (optional)
1 leaf of fresh basil (optional)
Sugar (I used a tablespoon)
Salt (I used 1 teaspoon kosher salt)

Puree all the ingredients in a food processor until very smooth. Here the recipe and I diverged.

The Recipe: Pour the mixture into a sieve lined with cheesecloth and placed over a bowl, then bring the cheesecloth over top. Refrigerate overnight to drain. This will produce a "clear" and "pure and refreshing" sort of "chilled consomme" though "better as an alcohol-free apertif" or "palate cleanser" with a "surprising concentration of tomato flavor" and yielding a scant 2 cups.

My Version: Pour the mixture into a chinois (that I'm told isn't that but I don't yet know what else to call it), press liquid through the tiny holes into a bowl. Refrigerate the 3 cups of watermelon-colored liquid that comes through, saving what's left behind for, um, I'm not sure what yet. I have the sense that the liquid, with 3 tablespoons of corn syrup, would make an absolutely delicious tomato sorbet.

Per 1/2 Cup: 44 Cal (9% from Fat, 11% from Protein, 80% from Carb); 1 g Protein; 0 g Tot Fat; 0 g Sat Fat; 10 g Carb; 2 g Fiber; 11 mg Calcium; 1 mg Iron; 393 mg Sodium; 0 mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 0 points

French Food at Home by Laura Calder, one of my top few cookbooks for two or three years now

Day 137: Lavender Potatoes ♥

Lavender Heaven, French fingerling potatoes dressed in buttery lavender & rosemary
~recipe & photo updated in 2007~

Lavender Heaven, that's how to remember these potatoes, my favorite since last month's first Panzanella.

Cooked with nothing more than lavender, rosemary, butter and salt, these potatoes are ever so simple yet ever so elegant.

Two less prosaic lessons:
  • Steamed new potatoes turn out mealy, like last night's. (I was even told they might be old.) Boiled new potatoes turn out creamy, like tonight's.

  • When potatoes are packed with succulence, less is more. A pound of tonight's potatoes would easily have served eight (each serving 2 - 3 small potatoes) as long as there were another vegetable on the plate.

2007 Photo Update: In 2005, I made these with new red potatoes, in 2007 with French fingerlings. I like the color of the red better but the fingerlings are creamy good. In 2006, I loved these potatoes so much that I created an easy, romantic all-lavender meal, perfect for Valentine's and other romantic occasions.

~ more potato recipes ~
~ more favorite vegetable recipes (this was my very favorite recipe in August 2005) ~

Bookmark or print this recipe only
Hands-on time: 10 minutes
Time to table: 35 minutes
Serves 8

1 pound new potatoes, washed and cut in halves or quarters (I did quarters)
1 teaspoon dried lavender (or 6 fresh sprigs of lavender, according to the recipe)

1 tablespoon butter (reduced from 1 1/2 tablespoons)
2 teaspoons dried lavender (up from 1 teaspoon dried or 2 teaspoons fresh buds)
2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped (from a pot on the patio! and upped from 1 teaspoon)
1 teaspoon kosher salt (up from 1/4 teaspoon)

Place the potatoes and 1 teaspoon lavender in a medium saucepan. Add water to cover and bring to a boil and continue to boil until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a knife but still hold their shape. Drain, allowing the lavender to cling.

Melt the butter over MEDIUM in a large skillet, add the 2 teaspoons lavender, the rosemary and the salt and stir. Add the potatoes and stir well to coat with butter. Cook, tossing occasionally until the potatoes are hot, about 5 minutes. Serve immediately.

Per Serving: 57 Cal (23% from Fat, 8% from Protein, 69% from Carb); 1 g Protein; 1 g Tot Fat; 1 g Sat Fat; 10 g Carb; 1 g Fiber; 8 mg Calcium; 0 mg Iron; 298 mg Sodium; 4 mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 1 point

Here's a source for dried lavender. Though I have fresh in the garden, I suspect the dried lavender I used came from Whole Foods.

The Splendid Table which in turn credits The Herbfarm Cookbook by Jerry Traunfeld

Kitchen Parade Extra: EoMEoTE #10

The code-looking EoMEoTE#10 is just that, food blogger code for End-of-the-Month Egg-on-Toast Extravaganza from the ever-witty Cook Sister, written by a South African living in the UK who's been bitten by Dr Seuss, it seems.

And here's A Veggie Venture's first contribution, this morning's Alex's French Eggs on toasted flat bread with sautéed onions on the side. The onions were much prettier a few days ago but now, after cooking for three hours (yes, HOURS) they're edible.

Day 136: New Potatoes with Fresh Herbs ♥

Today's vegetable recipe: Steamed new potatoes. Mashed with low-fat yogurt or sour cream, cottage cheese or butter, then tossed with fresh herbs.

~ recipe updated 2008 ~

2005: For tonight's new potatoes, I opted for a non-fat yogurt/1% cottage cheese mixture in the frig rather than the butter and sour cream the recipe specified. I thought the flavor from the mint and parsley would be enough to carry the potatoes. (It wasn't.) So ... these were good enough for an early-in-the-week-and-I-overindulged-over-the-weekend. But I suspect they'd be great as written, some late-in-the-week-and-I've-eaten-carefully-all-week day.

2008: Steaming potatoes is quick. But after trying this recipe again, I think that I prefer boiling potatoes in salted water to steaming. This adds both moisture and salt to the potatoes themselves so that that less sour cream / butter is needed for texture and flavor.

~ more potato recipes ~
~ more purées and mashes ~


Hands-on time: 10 minutes
Time to table: 30 minutes
Serves 4

1 pound new potatoes

1/4 cup (2005) non-fat yogurt or (2008) 2 tablespoons sour cream
1/4 cup (2005 1% cottage cheese or (2008) 1 tablespoon butter
(2005) 1 tablespoon fresh mint leaves, chopped (as specified by the inspiring recipe)
(2005) 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped (ditto)
(2008) 1 tablespoon fresh chives, chopped (any fresh herb will be good here)
Salt & pepper

Wash the potatoes and set in a steamer over water. Cover and bring the water to boil, cooking for about 30 minutes total or until the potatoes are done. Stir together the yogurt and cottage cheese. Chop or roughly mash the cooked potatoes, add the yogurt/cottage cheese or sour cream/butter, then stir in the herbs. Season to taste.

© Copyright Kitchen Parade 2005

Veggie Posts of the Week

It's easy to tell it's the height of the growing season here in the northern hemisphere -- food bloggers' tables are piled with vegetables this week. There's no picking just one Veggie Post of the Week so here are ones I'd love to nibble on!

Bee-yoo-tee-ful Food
Fast & Fresh
Comfort Food
  • From Nic at the BakingSheet -- Fried (actually baked) green tomatoes, something I've been meaning to try
  • From the Milky Way Diner -- Luscious-looking vegetable lasagne

Day 135: Broiled Tomatoes with Oregano ♥

Broiled Tomatoes with Oregano
Broil tomatoes, sure, but first, insert slivers of garlic into the tomato to amp up the flavor, then sprinkle with fresh herbs and a mist of oil. Easy and delicious!

~recipe & photo updated 2010~

2005: Just like yesterday's Pepper & Tomato Salad, here's another fast, easy, fresh vegetable that's perfect for a light lunch or weeknight supper. This, in fact, may well be the very fastest recipe in the five months of the Veggie Venture!

2010: Plain broiled tomatoes are pretty common but with a little garlic and fresh herbs, these broiled tomatoes are something just a little bit special!


Hands-on time: 5 minutes
Time to table: 10 minutes
Serves 4

2 large tomatoes
2 - 3 cloves garlic
Good salt & freshly ground pepper
4 teaspoons fresh oregano, chopped (another fresh herb would work fine, too)
Olive oil with a mister

Preheat the broiler. Wash and halve the tomatoes crosswise and place on a rimmed baking sheet. Cut the garlic into slivers and insert into the meat of the tomatoes. Sprinkle with the salt, pepper and oregano. Spray a light mist of olive oil on the tomatoes. Broil for 3 - 5 minutes until the garlic begins to brown and the tomatoes are warmed through but still firm. Serve immediately.

Use a mister whenever you want just a touch of oil -- great for calorie counters.

A Veggie Venture - Printer Friendly Recipe Graphic

~ Fire-Charred Tomatoes ~
~ Old Liz's Old-Fashioned Cucumber & Tomato Salad ~
~ Fresh Tomato with Fresh Mozzarella ~
~ more tomato recipes ~
from A Veggie Venture

~ Summer's Tomato Soup ~
~ Panzanella ~
~ Ratatouille ~
~ more tomato recipes ~
from Kitchen Parade, my food column

© Copyright Kitchen Parade 2005

Day 134: Pepper & Tomato Salad ♥

Fast, fresh, easy. Perfect for a light lunch or a weeknight supper.

This isn't a salad to groan over, exclaiming its deliciousness. But I'll make it again and again, especially when peppers are cheap and tomatoes ripe.

For another "fast, fresh, easy" salad see Day 115 and a variation on Day 117.

Credit where credit's due: This salad was inspired by Deb at In My Kitchen.

Hands-on time: 15 minutes
Time to table: 15 minutes
Serves 4 generously

1 cup cilantro (Deb calls for a large bunch but to my taste, a cup was plenty)
1 large tomato, cored and chopped (for red color)
1 yellow pepper, chopped (for yellow)
1 orange pepper, chopped (for orange)
2 tablespoons finely chopped onion (Deb suggests a medium onion)
Zest of a lemon
Juice of a lemon, about 2 tablespoons (a key ingredient, don't skip it!)
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar (or to taste)
1 teaspoon olive oil (Deb suggests 2 tablespoons or more, I was going for "ultra light" today and so used only a teaspoon for a small bit of mouth-feel)
Salt & pepper to taste

Rinse the cilantro, shake hard and then let drain into the sink while preparing the salad. (Or drain in a salad spinner.) Cut off and discard the stems, then chop. Combine with the remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Serve immediately.

Per Serving: 52 Cal (23% from Fat, 11% from Protein, 66% from Carb); 2 g Protein; 2 g Tot Fat; 0 g Sat Fat; 10 g Carb; 2 g Fiber; 21 mg Calcium; 1 mg Iron; 13 mg Sodium; 0 mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 1 point

Day 133: Roasted Nopalito Tomatillo Salsa ♥

Whole Foods is a hike so I don't go often. But on a recent stop, I was surprised that the produce section offered nothing unusual, even if the vegetables are displayed like couture, even if the range of organic vegetables is spectacular.

But there was nothing new, nothing unusual ... surprising.

At the same time, both my standard grocery stops (for St Louisans, that would be Schnucks in Kirkwood and Dierbergs in Rock Hill) nearly always have something that I've never seen before, let alone cooked.

Today it was a package of nopalitos, prickly pear cactus, from Melissa's -- for all of $2, the spines removed, the leaves sliced -- so cheap and easy even if I had NO idea what to do next.

The recipe came easily, an adaptation of a tomatillo salsa. But once the salsa was made, I would no idea how to use it!

This was one good use, just half a soft pita with the salsa, sliced smoked turkey and roasted red peppers. Cheese would have been great too if any had been on hand.

But there's a lot left. I would love suggestions! Fish? Eggs? Tortillas? Help!

Hands-on time: 20 minutes
Time to table: 45 minutes
Makes 2 1/2 cups

1/2 pound tomatillos (the recipe called for 1 1/2 pounds)
1 pound nopalitos (my addition)
1/2 medium jalapeno (the recipe called for 5 serrano chiles, more jalapeno would have been good)
3 cloves garlic, peeled

1/2 cup cilantro
1/2 medium onion
2 teaspoons kosher salt
Juice of 1 lemon

Preheat the broiler. Husk the tomatillos, rinse, cut in half cross-wise and transfer to a rimmed baking sheet. Rinse the nopalitos and add to the baking sheet. Wash and halve the jalapeno, removing the seeds and membrane, transfer to baking sheet skin side up. Add the garlic. Broil for about 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes or so. While the mixture broils, add the remaining ingredients to a food processor (the recipe called for a blender but mine couldn't get a grip on this and so I had to switch). Add the roasted vegetables and puree. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Per Serving: 21 Cal (15% from Fat, 11% from Protein, 74% from Carb); 0 g Protein; 0 g Tot Fat; 0 g Sat Fat; 3 g Carb; 1 g Fiber; 7 mg Calcium; 0 mg Iron; 473 mg Sodium; 0 mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 0 points !

Adapted from Gourmet November 1999

Day 132: Roasted Red Onion Salad

  • The cooking technique is unusual: broiling the onions, skins on.
  • The ingredients are unusual: onion, raisins and capers.
  • So MUCH onion is unusual: to my mind, it's more relish than salad.
And I do think that it will be good, once the onions are more fully cooked. As is, it is just too much onion. (And imagine one's breath!) But there is also something quite wonderful about the sweet currants and the salty capers against the rich onion.

In the next few days, I'll cook-cook-cook down the onions, then try again. I suspect it'll be delectable. Watch for an update ...

[8/30 Update, after cooking and cooking and cooking, the onions no longer look so pretty but are edible. If you really like onion, you just might love this salad.]

Hands-on time: 5 minutes to start, 5 minutes to finish
Time to table: 2 hours
Serves 8

2 pounds red onions

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon currants
1 tablespoon capers
Salt & pepper

Preheat the broiler, moving the rack if needed so onions will be 2 - 3 inches from the flame. Wash the onions but do not peel. Broil for 10 minutes, then turn and broil another 10 minutes. (Next time I might halve the onions and broil them for 30 minutes. Or saute them in a pan.)

While the onions cook, mix the remaining ingredients in a large bowl.

Let the onions cool until cool enough to handle, about 20 minutes. Remove the tips and the skins. Cut in half vertically, then slice thin along the vertical line. Stir into the olive oil mixture. Let onions marinate at room temperature for at least an hour and up to 24 hours.

Serving suggestion: Line a serving dish with salad greens, spoon onions over. Good with grilled meat and roast turkey.

Per Serving: 78 Cal (38% from Fat, 5% from Protein, 57% from Carb); 1 g Protein; 3 g Tot Fat; 0 g Sat Fat; 12 g Carb; 2 g Fiber; 26 mg Calcium; 0 mg Iron; 35 mg Sodium; 0 mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 1 point

My Kitchen in Spain

Day 131: Tomato-Tomato ♥

Tomato-Tomato with simple pantry ingredients, way more than the sum of its parts. Low carb. Low cal. Super simple. Calories 41, Weight Watchers PointsPlus 1.
graphic button small size size 10 Today's simple-simple tomato recipe: Yeah, see that bowl? It's as simple as that. Just whisk together a few pantry ingredients, stir in wonderful summer tomatoes and some basil. That.Is.It. But it's so good!

~recipe & photo updated 2007 & 2014~
~more recently updated recipes~

2005: When tomatoes are at their summer peak, there's simply no going wrong! Tonight's vegetable is a gimme, just chopped tomato stirred with basil from the garden and leftover dressing from Day 126 plus a splash of rice vinegar. Would I make it again? You bet. It was delicious.

2007 & 2014: And so I do, again and again. Turns out, this is a favorite way to enjoy fresh summer tomatoes from the garden or the farmers market.

Day 130: Veggie Burritos with Cilantro Sauce ♥

Veggie Burritos with Cilantro Sauce, a vegetarian 'concept' recipe for what's on hand, gorgeous sauce. Very adaptable!
graphic button small size size 10 Today's recipe for a vegetarian supper for Meatless Monday: So what if you just cooked up a few vegetables, whatever you've got on hand, made sure to use lots of warm spices, rolled it all up in soft, warm tortillas and then draped them with a gorgeous green sauce? Heaven on a plate, truly. Very adaptable, a "concept" recipe.

~recipe & photo updated 2008 & 2014~
~more recently updated recipes~

2005, Day 130: Carnivores should eat so well! This delicious dish reminded me of the cooking I did during several meatless years. I didn't call myself a vegetarian – that suggested a lifestyle versus a food choice – but I didn't eat meat. There are still lots of meatless meals around here but this veggie-lentil combination somehow hearkened back to those years. It's a delicious dish but it's also extremely adaptable. Feeding a few more? Add more vegetables or some cooked chickpeas. Want to serve as a side to grilled meat? Perfect. How about as a main dish? Or wrapped in half a soft thin pita or a whole wheat tortilla? Want to add meat? Sure, no problem, a little steak, a little chicken. (About that animal protein? Note to Vegetarians)

But here's the thing, there was no getting enough of the sauce! All bright and fresh-tasting, the sauce maybe looks better on top but it tastes better inside, all mushed up with the lentils and veggies.

2008: Sure enough, this recipe delivered again, this time with a mix of potato, tomato, corn and red lentils, with fresh spinach and lime juice added at the last minute. The good news too, is that with the cover off the skillet, the vegetables cooked quickly. Supper was on the table in 30 minutes flat.

Day 129: Turkey on Pita with Tomatillo Sauce ♥

The sandwich was good enough but the tomatillo sauce -- ah the sauce! the sauce was delicious!

It's a keeper for meat and vegetable fillings, whatever they might be sandwiched between, pita, good country bread, a fresh sour dough or baguette.

Another time, however, I'd make open-face sandwiches so those are the directions I'm including here.

Hands-on time: 15 minutes
Time to table: 30 minutes
Serves: 4

1/2 pound (with husks) tomatillos (see ALANNA's TIPS)
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped (I didn't use and didn't miss the heat but including it may make an entirely different sauce)
Salt & pepper to taste

1 large pita or 2 smaller ones (see TIPS)
8 ounces sliced cooked turkey breast
2 roasted red peppers from a jar, patted dry and slit open into single layer
4 ounces sliced cheese (I used a smoked gouda)
Fresh cilantro

Preheat the oven to 350F.

SAUCE: Remove the husks from the tomatillos, wash, cut into quarters and transfer to blender or the "chopping cup" of an immersion blender. Add the garlic and jalapeno. Process until evenly chopped but not liquid. Taste and season with salt and pepper. (Note: The original recipe suggested cooking the puree until thick, about 4 minutes. Though it was an accident to skip the step, the sauce was a little bit liquid but didn't waterlog even thin, soft and fresh pitas.)

PITAS: Open the pita and place on a baking sheet, smooth side down. Spread the sauce over top, then arrange the turkey, peppers and cheese on top. Bake for 10 - 15 minutes or until cheese is melted and turkey is heated through. Top with fresh cilantro, slice and serve.

Per Serving: 227 Cal (38% from Fat, 44% from Protein, 18% from Carb); 24 g Protein; 9 g Tot Fat; 4 g Sat Fat; 10 g Carb; 1 g Fiber; 241 mg Calcium; 1 mg Iron; 465 mg Sodium; 60 mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 5 points

  • Tomatillos seem to vary greatly in size so measuring by weight is probably best. It took only 3 tomatillos to make up a half pound, the original recipe said 6.

Adapted from Gourmet, April 1997

You're Invited ...

Veggie Posts of the Week:

  • A delicious-sounding broccoli and tomato dish at Poco-Cocoa
Plus, ta da, the new Kitchen of the Week at Seriously Good.


Day 128: Chilled Tomatillo & Cucumber Soup

Tried my first tomatillos a couple of days ago -- boy, I've been missing out!

And so I had high hopes for this soup that combines poblano peppers, tomatillos and cucumber. But who knew that something with heat (from the jalapeno, not the poblanos, I think) could be bland, too?

If it made up in 10 minutes, I might be inclined to adjust the flavors until they worked. But no, it took nearly an hour of active, hands-on cooking PLUS the chilling time.

Still I'm anxious to keep going with tomatillos - they taste so fresh and bright.

And if you're looking for a cold vegetable soup that IS good, try this carrot soup.

[8/26 Update: No lookers, no takers for several days so this one's moved to the freezer for reincarnation inside Saturday Soup some time soon, well, some time anyway.]

Hands-on time: 50 minutes
Time to table: 4 hours
Makes 7 1/2 cups (and a half-cup serving was plenty)

3 poblano chilies (about 1/2 pound)

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
2 garlic cloves, minced

3 medium tomatillos (about 1/2 pound), husked, rinsed and chopped
1 English cucumber, peeled and chopped

4 cups low-salt chicken broth, heated to a boil in the microwave (Swanson's 100% Natural chicken broth rates highest at Cook's Illustrated)

2 tablespoons minced jalapenos (remove seeds and membranes before mincing)
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (from 2 limes)
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro

1/2 cup whipping cream (I used 1/4 cup, all that was on hand, more might have moderated the heat but only with the addition of unwanted calories, especially in something that's only "okay")

Turn the broiler on high. Wash and halve the poblano peppers, removing the seeds and membrane (the membrane is where most of the heat from peppers resides). Flatten on a baking sheet and place under the broiler until blackened, about 10 minutes. Transfer peppers to a paper bag and close tightly to cool for about 10 minutes. Place a pepper on a cutting board, skin side down. Carefully insert a sharp knife between the skin and the flesh and peel away the skin. Repeat with the remaining peppers. Chop and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat a large deep skillet or Dutch oven. Add the olive oil. (As it's heating, there's plenty of time to chop the onion and garlic.) When it's hot, add the onion and garlic and stir well to coat with fat, then saute about 5 minutes. (As they're sauteing, there's time to chop the tomatillos and cucumber.) Add the tomatillos and the cucumber, combining well. Cook for about 5 minutes.

Add the broth and the chopped poblano peppers, cook for about 10 more minutes until tomatillos are tender. Add the jalapeno, lime juice and cilantro.

Transfer in 3 or 4 batches to a blender and blend til smooth. (Caution: if you put too much of a hot liquid in a blender, the air pressure will blow the top off and will not only make a huge mess but will also risk burning anyone who's nearby.) Transfer to a large container with a cover. Stir in cream.

Refrigerate for at least 3 hours (an hour in the freezer worked tonight, at least for the purpose of chilling, perhaps not for melding flavors) or overnight.

Per half cup: 41 Cal (48% from Fat, 14% from Protein, 38% from Carb); 2 g Protein; 2 g Tot Fat; 1 g Sat Fat; 4 g Carb; 1 g Fiber; 11 mg Calcium; 0 mg Iron; 156 mg Sodium; 4 mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 1 point

Bon Appetit July 2001

Storage Tip: Celery

Do you find limp celery at the bottom of your vegetable drawer too often? Me too -- what a waste!

This tip from a Cook's Illustrated reader really works: Leave the celery in the plastic bag but then wrap in aluminum foil.

My last stalk lasted a month and was nearly as good at the end as the beginning.

Tool Tip: Chinois

I inherited this chinois (sheen-WAH) from my mother but didn't know what it was called or even, truly, what to do with it.

And I'm so glad I did! It makes the smoothest of sauces and soups with very little effort. I wouldn't give up the food processor. But I'm happy this came home with me.

I see that they're still for sale, as here on Amazon though I suspect they'd be available less expensively at yard sales and even on E-Bay.

For the record, as you'll see from the comments below, whether this is a chinois or a China cap is up for debate. As of July 2006, there's a Wikpedia definition, which says that the two are often confused but that:
  • While both are conical sieves
  • The China cap is made of perforated metal (like mine) where the chinois is made of fine wire mesh
  • The chinois often has a dowel (as mine does) to push foods through the holes, like the blade of a food mill
Since mine has characteristics of each, I'm not sure what to call it! But I'll tell you this: it's one of the most useful utensils / appliances in my kitchen and I'm surprised how often I turn to it for soups and drinks, especially. If you've got access to one, grab it!

Day 127: Beets with Caraway ♥

Today's vegetable recipe: Cooked beets tossed with sour cream, horseradish and caraway. Low carb. Weight Watchers 1 point.

~ recipe & photo updated in 2008 ~

When I first made this recipe in 2005, it was the fourth day in a row for beets. I made a sauce of low-fat yogurt and low-fat cottage cheese and seasoned it with caraway seed. The beets were okay -- but forgettable -- and the caraway seeds just didn't soften, even after a couple of hours in the sauce.

Fast forward to 2008: I've learned that beets with sour cream and horseradish are a terrific combination and this time elected to use ground caraway. NOW I can recommend this recipe without reservation!

~ Beets with Feta ~
~ Borscht Beets with onion, balsamic vinegar and dill ~
~ Swedish Pickled Beetroot Salad using pickled beets rather than roasted beets ~
~ more beet recipes, if you love beets, this is a must-explore section ~


Hands-on time: 12 minutes
Time to table: 12 minutes
Serves 4

2 - 3 tablespoons sour cream (in 2005 I blended 1/4 cup low-fat yogurt and low-fat cottage cheese)
2 teaspoons horseradish
1 teaspoon ground caraway
1 pound cooked beets, peeled and diced (check the beet recipes for several different ways to roast beets)

Stir together all ingredients. The flavor deepens if allowed to sit for an hour but is also good right away.

PRINT JUST A RECIPE! Now you can print a recipe without wasting ink and paper on the header and sidebar. Here's how.

NEVER MISS A RECIPE! For 'home delivery' of new recipes from A Veggie Venture, sign up here. Once you do, new recipes will be delivered, automatically, straight to your e-mail In Box.

© Copyright Kitchen Parade 2005

Day 126: Mustard Beets ♥

Simple beets in a tasty sauce
Today's vegetable recipe: Pre-cooked beets in a light sauce of yogurt, sour cream and mustard. Weight Watchers 1 point.

~ recipe updated 2008 ~

2005: "Aw Ma. Beets again?"Remind me to forgo buying vegetables in bulk during the height of the growing season. Day by day, I've been working on last week's pile of beets, forgoing everything ELSE! Tonight's Mustard Beets are plenty good, for sure. But they don't match up to the Veggie Venture beet favorites including Beets with Feta, Red Onion with Beets and Borscht Beets.

2008: Aha, it just goes to show how important variety is when eating vegetables. This time, I loved the beets, perhaps because it had been a few weeks since cooking any. The sauce is light and easy, made with on-hand ingredients. It's a keeper!

I did change the proportions, however, using just a spoonful of Greek yogurt (less but considerably richer) and a full tablespoon of mustard and sour cream. So there was decidedly less sauce, a good thing.

~ more beet recipes ~


Hands-on time: 15 minutes
Time to table: 15 minutes
Serves: 4

1/2 cup non-fat yogurt (2008: 1/4 cup Greek yogurt)
1/2 tablespoon low-fat sour cream (2008: 1 tablespoon sour cream)
1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard (next time use 1 tablespoon or more to taste) (2008: 1 tablespoon spicy brown mustard)
1 pound cooked beets, peeled and diced (how to cook beets)
(2008: 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill)

Mix the yogurt, sour cream and mustard. (The recipe suggests refrigerating for at least 2 hours before continuing. Supper called so I did not.) Stir in the beets until soft pink swirls form but do not overmix.

© Copyright Kitchen Parade 2005

Day 125: Honey-Pepper Beets ♥

Honey-Pepper Beets
~recipe & photo updated 2008 & 2012~
~more recently updated recipes~

2005 Original: With cooked beets in the fridge, a great vegetable dish is only a few minutes away. I cooked a big pot of beets yesterday: just 5 minutes of attention, an hour on the stove, a half hour to cool in a colander, a transfer to a ziplock bag. Peesa-cake. Then today, I made this salad. Quick 'n' easy, for sure.

2008 Update: I simplified this recipe so that it could be served immediately, rather than waiting 3 hours. And it was earthy-rich, just delicious, especially topped with a little sour cream sauce.

2012 Update: Once you have cooked beets, it's so easy to make a quick salad. And that's what I did. And then I gobbled them up with some Massaged Kale Salad. And then a few days later, when there was a small cupful left in the fridge, I learned that after this slow soak in a little bit of balsamic vinegar, the beets deepen and darken and turn to something akin to pickled beets, all without any of the fuss and muss of canning.

Day 124: Jealous Marys ♥

Lovely color, yes? And it tastes great, too, perfect for a small soiree on the patio.

It's a cucumber rendition of a bloody mary, pureed in a blender then strained, at my house in a [tool whose name I can't remember but will insert later] that lives in the basement until moments just like this.

This is my first-ever contribution to a blog party, where food bloggers from all over the world will make and post cocktail food and drinks. Check here for a recap!

If the idea of a 'vegetable drink' appeals to you, consider a Chilled Carrot Soup with Honey.

Hands-on time: 15 minutes
Time to table: 15 minutes
Makes 1 1/4 cups

1 English cucumber, chopped
1/4 cup chopped celery
juice from a lemon, about 2 tablespoons
1/2 tablespoon bottled horseradish
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Bit of ground pepper
Drop or two of Tabasco
3 ounces vodka (I used Absolut Citron)

Collect all ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth. Force through a fine-mesh strainer, then discard the solids. Serve over ice in small glasses.

Per 1/4 cup: 41 Cal (5% from Fat, 12% from Protein, 83% from Carb); 0 g Protein; 0 g Tot Fat; 0 g Sat Fat; 2 g Carb; 0 g Fiber; 9 mg Calcium; 0 mg Iron; 208 mg Sodium; 0 mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 1 point

Gourmet, August 2005

Day 123: Cucumber Salad

As pictured, this started off as a simple - and disappointing - cucumber salad. It even sat in the frig a day or so, mostly untouched.

Then I started to doctor and it improved. In the end, it was a lighter and completely satisfying version of the decadent Nana's Cucumbers.

To use the absolute minimum of sour cream, I added a teaspoon at a time to one serving - to my taste, one teaspoon isn't enough, two is quite plenty.

Hands-on time: 10 minutes
Time to table: 10 minutes
Serves 4

1 English cucumber, grated (see Tool Tip)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint

As Doctored:
2 teaspoons sugar
8 teaspoons (that is, 2 slightly generous tablespoons) light sour cream
Generous sprinkle fresh pepper

Grate the cucumber, transfer to a colander to drain until ready to continue. (You may want to press the cucumber if continuing right away.) Add the remaining ingredients and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Per Serving: 36 Cal (29% from Fat, 9% from Protein, 61% from Carb); 1 g Protein; 1 g Tot Fat; 1 g Sat Fat; 6 g Carb; 1 g Fiber; 29 mg Calcium; 1 mg Iron; 7 mg Sodium; 4 mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 1 point

An old favorite makes its debut on the Veggie Venture, Great Good Food by Julee Rosso, author of the Silver Palate cookbooks. It's organized by season and is packed with vegetable recipes, along with everything else. There are used copies available on Amazon for a quarter - a bargain for such a useful cookbook. Looking through the margin notes recently, I realized how many of my "stand out standby" recipes originated here.

Tool Tip: Box Grater

There on the bottom, that's my long-time favorite flat grater, an old faithful.

But when the stars aligned - that is, when Cook's Illustrated highly rated a $25 box grater and when I ran across a $6 version - I decided to give the box version a whirl.

Easier to grate bigger batches.
Collects grated material inside so easier to measure.

Takes up a lot of room in the dishwasher.
Harder to grate things straight into the mixing bowl.

Net: I'll keep the flat grater for regular use, due to a perpetually full dishwasher. But I'll hang onto the box grater, too, since it will be handy on occasion and cupboard space isn't a problem!

2007 Update: I haven't used Old Faithful in forever. Hmm. I'm not even sure where Old Faithful is.

Day 122: Quick Green Bean Soup

Look familiar? It might for it's a green bean-version of last week's Quick Broccoli Soup and yesterday's Quick Cauliflower Soup. (A combined recipe is posted here.)

Yes, I'm seriously addicted to this easy soup -- bigger batches are in order!

Today's cook-lunch-while-working-in-the-other-room pot was made with a bag of frozen beans and a half-gone bag of freezer-burned corn.

It was good -- but not delicious like the broccoli and cauliflower renditions, perhaps because:
  • of using frozen vegetables?

  • beans aren't so conducive to soup?

    (Sure there's BEAN soup but who's heard of GREEN BEAN soup? Okay, of course, Google has. It found 7500 references -- but 42x that for bean soup. Point made.)

  • of using homemade (and thus less salty) chicken stock that needed using up?
If history's a guide, answers will be forthcoming.

Day 121: Quick Cauliflower Soup ♥

Quick Cauliflower Soup
~photo updated 2012~
~more recently updated recipes~

Back on Day 116, a simple broccoli soup turned out incredibly delicious.

So tonight I used the same technique with a head of cauliflower though left in a few chunks for texture. And the cauliflower was even more delicious than the broccoli. It's so extraordinarily creamy, you'd think it were laden with fat. But it's not – it's a "1 point" soup in the Weight Watchers world.

Now I'm beginning to wonder about carrot, parsnip, beet and who knows what else.

For simplicity, I've modified the recipe on Day 116.

A Veggie Venture is home of 'veggie evangelist' Alanna Kellogg and the
famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.
© Copyright Kitchen Parade 2005

Day 120: Greek Greens ♥

Greek Greens with Beets, one of my favorite summer salads
Today's vegetable recipe: A great technique for flash cooking greens today, so they can be held a day or two for eating later. One of my very favorite ways to make a salad from greens. This is a traditional Greek dish called "Horta Vrasta" [HOR-tah vrah-STAH].

At the farmers market, my intentions' eyes are too often bigger than my reality's stomach, especially with greens that have such short shelf-lives.

In 2005, I learned how to flash cook greens, quickly, so that they would last another day or even two or three. It was one of those life-changing recipes. Now when I come home from the farmers market with greens, especially beet greens that would otherwise go to waste, I start a pot of water to boil.

GREENS THAT FLASH COOK WELL: Beet greens, kale, spinach, chard



Hands-on time: 15 minutes
Time to table: 25 minutes
Serves 4

Water to boil
Table salt
Big bunch of greens, including the stems if smaller than 1/4 inch in diameter

Bring a pot of water to boil. Add generous amount of salt.

Wash the greens well under running water. As the leaves are washed, stack them so that the junctions of the stems and leaves are lined up. In one big bunch, cut the leaves from the stems. Chop the stems in 1/2 inch lengths.

Place the stems in the boiling water and simmer for a minute or two, then remove with a slotted spoon. Add the leaves, submersing them into the boiling water if necessary, and let them cook until tender, several minutes. Transfer to a colander (use a slotted spoon if you need to save the water for another batch). Let cool and drain, then chop and refrigerate for up to one day.

Reputable food professionals such as Alton Brown recommend soaking greens in cold standing water for several minutes to soften and loosen the dirt, then rinsing under running water. I do when greens are very dirty. Mostly, however, I only wash them carefully, running my fingers across the surface, discarding leaves that seem tough or are otherwise in tough shape.
The inspiring recipe says to discard the leaves on stems more than 1/4 inch thick; I think this means that only the most tender leaves will work for a cold chopped salad.
The inspiring recipe also says to discard the stems. But don't -- they're sooo good! Plus, beet stems have such glorious ruby color. But I also like to cook and store the stems separately from the greens. They can be fibrous for some people's digestive systems, a little goes a long way.


Hands-on time: 5 minutes
Time to table: 5 minutes
Serves 1 to many

Greek Greens
Cooked beets (how to cook beets), cut into small bites
Splash of good vinegar
Splash of good olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all the ingredients, serve and savor!


Hands-on time: 15 minutes (if greens are already cooked)
Time to table: 15 minutes
Serves 4

Splash olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
1/2 pound (or more) tilapia or other mild-flavored fish, cut in one-inch pieces

2 cups cooked pasta
Chilled Greek Greens, stems and leaves

1/4 cup low-fat mayonnaise
2 tablespoons good mustard
1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
Salt & pepper

Heat the olive oil in a skillet. Add the ginger and the fish and let cook for 5 - 6 minutes, until fish is done. Meanwhile, collect the pasta and Greek Greens in a bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and the cooked fish. Gently combine. Serve immediately

~ Greens n All Beet Soup ~
~ Greens with Sour Cream ~
~ Gratin of Greens ~
~ more leafy greens recipes ~

A Veggie Venture is home of 'veggie evangelist' Alanna Kellogg and the
famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.
© Copyright Kitchen Parade 2005

Day 119: Summer Tomatoes for Winter ♥

The "tomato man" at the farmers market shared this fabulous tip last week. I tried it -- and it works!

He says it takes advantage of the tomato's natural 'zip lock' bag, its skin.

This is a great way to put aside a few tomatoes for winter. You don't end up with tomatoes good enough for salad but they'd be tasty fresh additions to stews, casseroles, anything cooked.

Hands-on time: 5 minutes
Time to table: 5 months

Perfectly ripe tomatoes

Wash and dry the tomatoes well. Place on freezer shelf until frozen solid, then transfer to a zip lock bag and return to the freezer. (Freezing the tomatoes individually first prevents them from stocking together in the bag. The same trick works with blueberries and cranberries, for example.)

When ready to use, run the tomatoes under hot water to easily remove the skins.

Day 119: Quick Ears of Corn in the Microwave ♥

Quick Corn cooked in the microwave makes for a quick salad
Recipe updated & photo added in 2007

The "tomato man" (who's also the peach man and the basil man and ...) passed along this tip at the farmers market this morning, that whole ears of fresh corn can be cooked in the microwave! As we discussed timing, another shopper overheard and chimed in, "I cook mine for 4 minutes."

The actual time required likely is dependent on the power of your microwave.

2007 PHOTO & NUTRITION UPDATE An ear of corn yields only a half cup of corn and alone, has zero points. After that, it's whatever calories/flavors you add to it!

Hands-on time: 3 minutes
Time to table: 3 minutes
Serves 1

1 ear fresh corn
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

Shuck corn and remove the silk and handle. Place in microwave on high for 2 1/2 minutes. (Optional: Cut kernels from cob, toss with lemon juice and fresh pepper.) Serve.

One Ear Corn (about 1/2 cup): 31 Cal (11% from Fat, 13% from Protein, 76% from Carb); 1 g Protein; 0 g Tot Fat; 0 g Sat Fat; 0 g Mono Fat; 7 g Carb; 1 g Fiber; NetCarb6; 1 g Sugar; 1 mg Calcium; 0 mg Iron; 5 mg Sodium; 0 mg Cholesterol; Weight Watchers 0 points

Day 118: Tomato Ginger Jam ♥

Tomato Ginger Jam, an unusual but delicious stovetop jam, no canning required.
A favorite stovetop jam, one of the easiest and most surprising jams ever. It's a mix of fresh summer tomatoes and fresh ginger cooked down into a thick and gingery spread. If you love ginger, you'll love-love-love this jam.

~recipe & photo updated 2010 & 2014~

2005: Hey, Mark Bittman! I've out-minimalized The Minimalist! Regular followers know I love the cooking panache of Mark Bittman, whose minimalist nomen and style mirror my own. (HE just happens to be famous.) Last week his regular column in the New York Times featured a ginger jam that required peeling and chopping a pound – yeah that's right, an entire POUND – of ginger. Do you know how long that would take? Oh my! I substituted a bottle of a favorite product, a ginger paste. It's like the bottles of chopped garlic found in grocery stores except that it's ginger. And it worked like a dream!

Help! What would you make with this pile of ...

... beet greens? They were too beautiful to leave at the market this afternoon. I have plans for the beets, would welcome ideas for the greens! I could make the delicious greens from Day 85.

But I'd prefer far fewer calories AND in the spirit of the Veggie Venture, I'd like to try something new!

Ideas are welcomed - but time is of the essence, they won't be fresh for more than another day!

Tool Tip: Corn Thing-ie

What do you call this?

A de-corner? A kernel scraper? An ever-so-official corn kernel-removing tool? A corn doo-hickey? A corn thing-a-ma-jig?

Call it what you like, it doesn't work.

It came from a small-town hardware store, one of those places where all of life's necessities are found. I figured it must be one.

So there it was in the drawer. It was the do-or-die moment of utility-or-uselessness.

Place the ring over the ear, starting at the tip. Then scrape downward. Theoretically, the tool-thingie will adjust to the thickening of the cob. It does, sort of.

But the net is that after using this, I still had to get out the knife to remove lots or remaining kernels.

And besides: it was taking up room in an already crowded utentil drawer AND it was murder to clean.

Off it goes to the church rummage sale. Maybe for a quarter, someone'll love it.

Day 118: Corn Cayenne ♥

Corn Cayenne
A simple, simple way to cook fresh sweet corn, then mix it with a little butter, a little lemon juice (to brighten the starchy corn) and fresh herbs. Summer fresh!

~recipe & photo updated 2010~

2005: Between the shucking and the dekerneling (or if you don't dekernel then the FLOSSING), I always find corn on the messy side. Even though my father's family was from Iowa and we lived in northeastern Iowa when I was a teenager and I was the fourth fifth generation in the family to attend Iowa State, I missed the corn gene and never really entirely understood the attraction. Real Iowans, that is the Iowans who farm, believe that Dad doesn't head for the garden to pick the corn until Mom's got the water already boiling.

This recipe has an unusual cooking technique but -- no question -- it worked fine, even on corn that had been refrigerated since (hmmm, well let's see, maybe last Saturday?) awhile back and so who knows WHEN it was picked? I didn't hold out much hope. But this was good. This was a keeper. This is worth making again.

That said, you know how diet books always say that it's all about calories, that you can get fat on vegetables if you eat enough of them? Recipes like this -- where the taste is delicious but the portion sizes are small -- is what they're warning us about. They're good, yes, they're vegetables, yes. But they should be treated more like a dessert, that is, relished and savored -- but on occasion, not every day.

2010: Back in 2005, I'm not sure how cooking corn in water qualified as an 'unusual cooking technique' but in 2010, I cooked the corn in the microwave, then finished in the serving bowl. Easy! I also dropped the butter way back, to 2 tablespoons per 6 ears of corn and used aleppo pepper rather than cayenne.


Hands-on time: 10 minutes
Time to table: 20 minutes
Serves 6

Water to boil
6 ears corn

4 tablespoons butter (2005: I'd try two tablespoons next time, 2005: two tablespoons was great)
2 teaspoons lemon juice (2010: a little good vinegar is a good substitute)
Sprinkle cayenne pepper (2010: I used aleppo pepper, a dribble of Tabasco would work too, what you're looking for is a small measure of heat)
Salt & Pepper to taste

1/4 cup chopped parsley (2005: the recipe called for cilantro but I used what was on hand, parsley from the garden 2010: I skipped this entirely but any fresh herb would work fine, basil and tarragon come to mind)

CORN 2005: Fill an oblong dish long and wide enough to hold the ears with water about 1 1/2 inches high AND with a cover. (Don't stress on the cover, I forgot to use one and the corn turned out fine though the corn will take longer to cook since the heat is released into the air.) Bring it to a boil. While the water heats, shuck the corn and remove the handles, I mean, the, hmmm, what DO you call those things on the end of the cobs? Oh well. Add the corn to the water and cook for 3 - 5 minutes, turning occasionally since the water won't cover the corn. 2010: Take the lazy cook's route and cook the corn in the microwave.

BUTTER While the corn cooks, collect the butter, lemon juice and cayenne in a skillet and heat until just about to boil.

COMBINE Remove the corn from the water and let cool slightly. When it's cool enough to handle, use a knife to slice off the kernels, keeping groups of kernels intact if you like. Transfer to a serving dish and stir in the butter mixture and the parsley. Season to taste and serve.

2005: Digging in the drawer to find those little plastic corn handles to stick in the ends of hot cobs, I found a kernel removing tool purchased some years ago at a small-town hardware store and tried it for the first time. Here's how it worked.

A Veggie Venture - Printer Friendly Recipe Graphic

~ more corn recipes ~

© Copyright Kitchen Parade 2005