The Best of December

For many, me included, the last days of December and the first days of January call for reflection, a pause in the busy-ness and business of the season and the life to think back on the year fast drawing to a close and to look forward into the new year that shall remain unknown 'til lived.

For A Veggie Venture -- what a year! It all started as a lark, truly, just a spur-of-the-moment decision to try -- without really thinking I'd ever do it -- to cook a vegetable in a new way every single day for a month. Just ONE month!

The beginning was inauspicious. On April 1, I roasted some so-so cauliflower. On April 2, I lingered late in the garden and steamed a bag of frozen broccoli.

And it took a few weeks to find my voice, to find a cooking/writing rhythm. But once I did -- my, what fun it all became, how much I started to learn. And that's what keeps me going -- that and the remarkable community of food bloggers and friends and family who encourage me and write to say when they love (or hate!) something they've made.

In nine months, I've discovered oh-so-many favorite new ways with vegetables, so many that it's hard to keep track. So now I pick one recipe -- just one -- as the favorite of the month. Well, actually two favorites -- the single favorite side dish and the single favorite soup.

December's Vegetable of the Month: What a difficult choice when there's this and this and this! But in the end, I've picked Broccoli with Pancetta & Parmesan for delicious flavor, ease of preparation and healthfulness.










December's Soup of the Month: This one's easy, it's the kid-pleasing Lentil Soup Vincent. (Two years ago, my 13-year old nephew wouldn't touch lentil soup. Now he says it's his favorite!) It's hearty yet low in calories -- my Dad says it's one reason he managed to eat so many cookies and still only gain a half pound over Christmas!







See everyone in the New Year!


(c) Copyright 2005 Kitchen Parade

Kitchen Parade Extra: Sausage & Kale Split Pea Soup ◄

While the kitchen is busier than ever, A Veggie Venture is taking a break from blogging.

We'll be back on January 1st (tomorrow!) but here's one last soup recipe, a longtime family favorite from the never-seen-online Kitchen Parade archive and perfect for the winter months ahead.

It's Sausage & Kale Slit Pea Soup, a kid favorite too.


Many thanks to Luminous Lens for the soup emblem!

Kitchen Parade Extra: Lucky Black-eyed Pea Salad ◄

Looking for luck in the new year?

Then check out two recipes using black-eyed peas, bearers of good fortune by tradition across the southern U.S. Both are featured in this week's Kitchen Parade column.

Happy New Year, all!

Kitchen Parade Extra: Laura's Carrot Soup ◄

While the kitchen is busier than ever, A Veggie Venture is taking a break from blogging.

We'll be back on January 1st but until then, every day there will be a new soup recipe, longtime family favorites from the never-seen-online Kitchen Parade archives and perfect for the winter months ahead.

Laura's Carrot Soup is a known cure for the common cold; well, at least it's guaranteed to make you feel a tiny bit better when the season's aches and sneezes and sore throats hit.

Many thanks to Luminous Lens for the soup emblem!

Kitchen Parade Extra: Scandinavian Pea Soup ◄

While the kitchen is busier than ever, A Veggie Venture is taking a break from blogging.

We'll be back on January 1st but until then, every day there will be a new soup recipe, longtime family favorites from the never-seen-online Kitchen Parade archives and perfect for the winter months ahead.

Today's soup is another hearty offering, a Scandinavian Pea Soup. You'll want to use traditional dried green lentils, not the French lentils.


Many thanks to Luminous Lens for the soup emblem!

Kitchen Parade Extra: Lentil Soup Vincent◄

While the kitchen is busier than ever, A Veggie Venture is taking a break from blogging.

We'll be back on January 1st but until then, every day there will be a new soup recipe, longtime family favorites from the never-seen-online Kitchen Parade archives and perfect for the winter months ahead.

Today's soup is the hearty Lentil Soup Vincent. It makes a bunch and freezes beautifully.



Many thanks to Luminous Lens for the soup emblem!

Kitchen Parade Extra: Very Very Green Green-Pea Soup ◄

While the kitchen is busier than ever, A Veggie Venture is taking a break from blogging .

We'll be back on January 1st but until then, every day there will be a new soup recipe, longtime family favorites from the never-seen-online Kitchen Parade archives and perfect for the winter months ahead.

Today's soup is Very Very Green Green-Pea Soup, made from ingredients you're likely to already have on hand and great for St. Patrick's Day celebrations and winter lunches alike.



Many thanks to Luminous Lens for the soup emblem!

Kitchen Parade Extra: Karelian Borscht ◄

Happy Boxing Day, Everyone!

While the kitchen is busier than ever, A Veggie Venture is taking a break from blogging .

We'll be back on January 1st but until then, every day there will be a new soup recipe, longtime family favorites from the never-seen-online Kitchen Parade archives and perfect for the winter months ahead.

Today's offering is the meaty and beety Karelian Borscht which warms the northern souls of Finland and Russia.



Many thanks to Luminous Lens for the soup emblem!

Kitchen Parade Extra: Low-Fat Vegetable Soup ◄

Wishing you and yours
a very merry Christmas!


While the kitchen is busier than ever, A Veggie Venture is taking a break from blogging .

We'll be back on January 1st but until then, every day there will be a new soup recipe, longtime family favorites from the never-seen-online Kitchen Parade archives and perfect for the winter months ahead.

Today's soup is a Low Fat Vegetable Soup to help take off the extra pounds accumulated over the holidays. It makes a bunch and freezes beautifully.



Many thanks to Luminous Lens for the soup emblem!

Kitchen Parade Extra: Turkey Sweet Potato Soup ◄

Merry Christmas, Everyone!

While the kitchen is busier than ever, A Veggie Venture is taking a break from blogging .

We'll be back on January 1st but until then, every day look for a soup recipe, longtime family favorites from the never-seen-online Kitchen Parade archives and perfect for the winter months ahead.

First off is a delicious Turkey Sweet Potato Soup that originated with my sister. It's fat with vegetables and perfect for an easy supper on a cold night.

Many thanks to Luminous Lens for the soup emblem!

Day 264: Bruschetta Sandwich

So if I've been a slacker in the vegetable department for the last couple of days, it's because I've been such a champion in the fruit, er, I mean, the cookie department.

By the time the last batch came out of the oven and the fish stew was cooked for Christmas Eve and Jesus' birthday cake (a tradition started by my sister when her now lanky teenage boys were toddlers) was baked and iced, it was ten o'clock. I managed (barely) to find 'something' that might, in an expansive holiday fashion, qualify for A Veggie Venture and finally sat down to supper.

That said, the simplicity of the cheese and eggplant/red pepper spread on good olive bread really hit the spot. I find the bruschetta at a nearby international grocery where there are maybe a dozen brands priced $1.50 - $2.00 so easy, wallet-wise, to keep stocked. If you count calories, do watch the nutrition labels for the brands vary widely in their use of oil.

Merry Christmas, all. Let the Cookie Parties begin!!

PS A Veggie Venture is taking a break from blogging until the new year. But visit every day for a Soup Spectacular SOUP extravaganza!


(c) Copyright 2005 Kitchen Parade

Day 263: Trader Joe's Carrot & Ginger Soup

From all the prepared food on A Veggie Venture this week, you'd think mine was a no-cook kitchen. Instead, it's exactly otherwise: so much cookie baking and cooking ahead for Christmas that there's little energy left for meals!

This Trader Joe's product was perfect for a simple lunch, start-to-table in 10 minutes flat and leaving lots of appetite for fresh-warm cookies!

(And hey, ignore the sunlight streaming in that's so lovely except when it comes to food photos ... and check out the styling! Pretty good mimicry, eh?)

(c) Copyright 2005 Kitchen Parade

Day 262: Microwave Cabbage & Onion with Apple & Ginger ♥

Microwave Cabbage & Onion with Apple & Ginger
How to cook cabbage in the microwave. It's almost hands-free and the results are delicious!

~recipe & photo updated 2011~

2005: Oh so good! And the perfect match for grilled chops. This cabbage dish is again inspired by StephenCooks who reminds me on occasion that not all the recipes on his site require tons of time and attention -- and if I didn't believe him before, I would now!

I loved this cabbage and the leftovers got tucked into reuben sandwiches with corned beef, caraway cheese and Thousand Island dressing. Wonderful!

2010: This is such a great technique for cooking cabbage. The cabbage cooks quickly and easily, the small bit of ginger is a pleasant surprise. There's almost a 'fresh sauerkraut' sense to it.

RECIPE for MICROWAVE CABBAGE & ONION with APPLE & GINGER

See StephenCook's Version
Hands-on time: 15 minutes to start, 5 minutes to finish
Time to table: 65 minutes but Stephen recommends letting rest for a day
Serves 4

1/4 cup water
3 tablespoons vinegar (white vinegar is fine, in 2010 I used apple cider vinegar)
2 teaspoons minced ginger (I love this Asian ginger from a jar, StephenCooks minces a two-inch piece of ginger)
1 - 3 tablespoons olive oil or butter (see KITCHEN NOTES)
1 large onion, diced or sliced
1/2 a medium head of cabbage, cored and chopped roughly, about 1 pound

1 tart apple, peeled and grated
2 tablespoons jam/jelly
Salt
Tabasco

Mix the water, vinegar, ginger and butter in an eight-cup microwave-able bowl. Stir in the onion and cabbage. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and cook in the microwave for 20 - 30 minutes, stirring after 10 minutes and then every 5 minutes. (Do watch the time. Microwaves vary, 30 minutes works for StephenCooks but was about 5 minutes too long in mine in 2005 and 10 minutes too long in 2010.)

Stir in the apple and jam/jelly. Season to taste with salt. Season to taste with Tabasco (I used about 4 drops). Cover and LET REST for 15 minutes. Serve and enjoy!

ALANNA's TIPS & KITCHEN NOTES
2005: I would definitely try a bag of shredded cabbage another time)
2005: StephenCooks uses 3 tablespoons fat, I used 2 but thought 1 would work. 2010: One tablespoon olive oil worked great.




© Copyright Kitchen Parade 2005


Kitchen Parade Extra: Swiss Muesli ◄

Cooks across the world plan elaborate special breakfasts for Christmas morning, often traditional dishes that are family favorites, perhaps a rice porridge with an almond tucked inside for luck, Gramma's cinnamon coffee cake, the wife-saver strata.

But if you've got a houseful over the holidays, here's something easy and special and endlessly varied for the other mornings, Swiss muesli. It's featured in this week's Kitchen Parade column.

Merry Christmas, all!

Day 261: Roasted Brussels Sprouts ♥

Brussels sprouts, fresh or frozen, roasted until slightly caramelized. Low carb. Weight Watchers 1 point.

~ recipe & photo updated in 2008 ~

2005: TABLE TALK: The Father: [Sniffs. Pokes plate with fork. Stabs a sprout. Takes tiny bite. Speaks with plaintive voice.] "Your mother used to put cheese on these so I would eat them." The Cook: [laughing] "Would eat them? Or could eat them?"

My poor old dad. If I'd known about his lack of appreciation for Brussels sprouts, at least I'd have made a batch with a better chance of changing his mind. I've been binge-ing on fresh Brussels sprouts; the only downside is the time required to clean and trim, 15 - 20 minutes per pound. So tonight I tried frozen Brussels sprouts, thawing them for a few hours so they could be cut in half before roasting (this is a good trick!) and then, since I was being sparing anyway, tossed with no oil, just mustard and garlic and malt vinegar.

Did my Dad eat them without cheese? He did. Did he go for seconds? No surprise, he didn't. But me, I was some impressed by the frozen sprouts and will definitely return to them. The texture is good, the flavor is good, the size is good. The convenience is perfect.

2008: I roasted fresh Brussels sprouts tossed in nothing more than olive oil and salt and pepper -- delicious!

IMPORTANT: If you've ever wondered about how long to roast Brussels sprouts, take heed. So many recipes call for roasting them at 45 minutes at 450F. I've done that -- and it's lucky the house didn't burn down for the sprouts burned to nothing. I suspect that the issue is oil: the less oil, the shorter the cooking time, the more oil, the longer food can sustain high heat.

OPTION ONE (2005): RECIPE for ROASTED BRUSSELS SPROUTS using FROZEN BRUSSELS SPROUTS

Hands-on time: 20 minutes
Time to table: 50 minutes
Serves 4

1 tablespoon good mustard
1/2 tablespoon garlic
Splash of malt vinegar
16 ounce bag frozen Brussels sprouts, thawed, sprouts halved length-wise
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400F. Whisk the mustard, garlic and vinegar in a medium bowl. Add the Brussels sprouts and stir very well to fully coat. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet and roast for 30 minutes, turning after 20 minutes.



RECIPE for OPTION TWO (2008): ROASTED BRUSSELS SPROUTS for FRESH BRUSSELS SPROUTS

Hands-on time: 10 minutes
Time to table: 40 minutes
Serves 4

1 pound fresh Brussels sprouts, trimmed & halved
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400F. Toss the Brussels sprouts, oil, salt and pepper til all surfaces are coated. (I do this in a bowl with a spatula, otherwise it's hard to really toss these guys with so little oil.) Arrange on a baking sheet cut-side down. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet and roast for 30 minutes.


A Veggie Venture - Printer Friendly Recipe Graphic






© Copyright Kitchen Parade 2005


Day 260: Trader Joe's Fire Roasted Vegetables

Convenience-wise, frozen vegetables are a godsend on busy nights but taste-wise, you don't expect much.

This Trader Joe's packet is an exception. Officially it's called "Fire Roasted Vegetables with Balsamic Butter Sauce". It heats up in just a couple of minutes and yields great-tasting vegetables and a delicious buttery-balsamic sauce.

Other thoughts:
  • The packet includes a pound of vegetables, which Trader Joe's says serves 6 and which A Veggie Venture normally would normally say serves 4.
  • Six servings works in that restaurant-a-few-veggies-on-the-side-manner if the entree is substantial and there's another vegetable or salad.
  • Four servings? Maybe. It just didn't seem to go that far.
  • The directions say to add a tablespoon of oil -- there's tons of buttery sauce without, next time I won't add a drop.
  • There is a lot of sauce -- maybe a half cup? -- so think about rice or pasta to soak it up.
  • I'd definitely throw a bag or two into beef stew or fresh pasta.
For other product reviews and quick-quick ideas, see 100% Convenience in the Recipe Box.

TRADER JOE'S FIRE ROASTED VEGETABLES
Hands-on time: 5 minutes
Time to table: 15 minutes
Serves ??

Prepare according to instructions except omitting the oil.

NUTRITION ESTIMATE
6 servings, no added oil
Per Serving: 76 Cal (65% from Fat, 6% from Protein, 29% from Carb); 1 g Protein; 5 g Tot Fat; 3 g Sat Fat; 5 g Carb; 1 g Fiber; NetCarb 4; 0 mg Calcium; 0 mg Iron; 216 mg Sodium; 11 mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 2 points

6 servings, 1 T added oil
Per Serving: 95 Cal (73% from Fat, 5% from Protein, 23% from Carb); 1 g Protein; 8 g Tot Fat; 4 g Sat Fat; 5 g Carb; 1 g Fiber; NetCarb 4; 0 mg Calcium; 0 mg Iron; 216 mg Sodium; 11 mg Cholesterol; Weight Watchers 2 points

4 servings, no added oil
Per Serving: 113 Cal (65% from Fat, 6% from Protein, 29% from Carb); 2 g Protein; 8 g Tot Fat; 5 g Sat Fat; 8 g Carb; 2 g Fiber; NetCarb 6; 0 mg Calcium; 0 mg Iron; 324 mg Sodium; 16 mg Cholesterol; Weight Watchers 2 points

ALANNA's TIPS
  • When you see this in the title and the Recipe Box, you know the recipe's a personal favorite. Tastes vary, of course, but the mark is one indication of another vegetable recipe that's worth paying attention to.

(c) Copyright 2005 Kitchen Parade

Day 259: Festive "Holiday" Salad ◄

"Holiday"?

No feigning political correctness here, no entering into the politically charged holiday vs Christmas vs winter lexicon debate.

Truth is, this is my favorite holiday salad, my favorite Christmas salad and my favorite all-winter salad from Thanksgiving to Valentine's.

It's easy to assemble either ahead of time or at the last minute, easy to make in small batches for a couple of people having supper at home or in big batches for buffets, parties and potlucks.

And if there happen to be leftovers, you won't mind. Picking out the cranberries and walnuts and cheese might be the very best part!

FESTIVE HOLIDAY SALAD
Bookmark or print this recipe only
Hands-on time: 10 minutes, maybe?
Time to table: 10 minutes
Serves as many as you need


Fresh soft lettuce greens (I return again and again to leafy red but many would work)
Low-fat Caesar dressing thinned with milk so it can fully dress the greens without heaviness
Toasted walnuts (10 minutes at 400F)
Dried cranberries
Crumbles of a good stinky cheese (gorgonzola, a good blue, etc)
Sprinkle of good salt

Wash and tear greens. Just before serving, lightly dress the greens. Toss with walnuts, cranberries and cheese. Add salt and serve.

NUTRITION ESTIMATE
Assumes 2 cups greens, 2/3 tablespoon dressing, 1/3 tablespoon milk, 2 tablespoons walnuts, 1 tablespoon cranberries, 1 tablespoon blue cheese

Per Serving: 195 Cal (61% from Fat, 15% from Protein, 24% from Carb); 8 g Protein; 14 g Tot Fat; 3 g Sat Fat; 13 g Carb; 3 g Fiber; NetCarb 10; 110 mg Calcium; 1 mg Iron; 319 mg Sodium; 12 mg Cholesterol; Weight Watchers 4 points

ALANNA's TIPS
  • When you see this in the title and the Recipe Box, you know the recipe's a personal favorite. Tastes vary, of course, but the mark is one indication of another vegetable recipe that's worth paying attention to.
(c) Copyright 2005 Kitchen Parade

Day 258: Zucchini Muffins

At my house, today's the day when the rush of Christmas preparation stops and the simple pleasure of Christmas tradition begins: my annual cookie swap and brunch.

At the table, out come the wintry hearts 'n' pines plates and my mother's 1960s-era red glasses. From the kitchen emerge the foods, mostly old but the occasional new, that celebrate family and faith, faith in family, family in faith.

The picture's from the pre-party table; later it was littered with champagne glasses and cookie crumbs, the room filled with talk and laughter.

The muffins were part of a simple brunch, just eggs and bacon and a fruit salad. Even back in 1984, the last time these muffins were made, I was already keeping notes. "Delicate flavor" and "froze well", I wrote.

And while bookmarked and word-processed recipes are 21st-century convenient, already I mourn the absence of the food notes that don't get written, like these, "big hit at 2005 cookie swap, so were Adanna and Matthew's 'conversation questions', lots of laughs and reminiscing" and "zest from 1 lemon not enough, best with jam".

I wonder: how do we attach food-and-friend memories to recipes in an electronic world? how do we 'browse' those memories in the way we flip through a recipe box?



VEGETABLE RECIPES from the ARCHIVES
~ Hearty Heart-Loving Muffins ~
~ Pumpkin Muffins ~
~ more muffin recipes ~
~ more zucchini recipes ~

ZUCCHINI MUFFINS

Hands-on time: 25 minutes (for a double batch, less for single batch)
Time to table: 50 minutes
Quantities below for a single batch of 12 standard-size muffins

2 eggs
1/2 cup skim milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil
zest from 2 lemons
1 cup of zucchini grated on smallest holes, packed but not drained (from 3/4 a medium zucchini)

2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder (1T is not a typo)
1 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg (another time I'd use 2x)

1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
1/2 cup golden raisins (don't skip these, somehow they really work)

Preheat oven to 400F. Whisk the eggs, then whisk in the milk, oil and zucchini.

::: Warning: unorthodox time- and dish-saving tip follows ::: Before measuring, stir the flours with a spoon right in the canister. The 'lightening' effect will be palpable and reduces the weight of the flour by as much as 25%. Doing this makes all baked goods lighter and less floury. Now measure the flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg on top of the wet mixture but without incorporating it in. With a fork, stir them together lightly, still without incorporating them in. This replaces the sifting that recipes usually call for to lighten the flour. (Otherwise, stir together the dry ingredients in a small bowl.)

Incorporate the flour mixture into the wet mixture until barely mixed. Stir in the pecans and raisins. Fill greased muffins pans 2/3 full with batter and bake for 20 - 25 minutes for standard-size muffins (and according to the recipe, 15 - 25 minutes for 36 mini muffins or 20 - 30 minutes for 6 - 8 giant muffins or 30 - 35 minutes for a nine-inch square coffee cake).



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 257: Broccoli with Pancetta & Parmesan ♥

Today's vegetable recipe: Broccoli steamed, then tossed with bits of pancetta and grated Parmesan. Low carb. Weight Watchers 1 point.

Last night's Cauliflower with Pancetta, Capers and Parmesan was so delicious that there was no resisting the same pancetta and Parmesan combination on broccoli.

And once again, delicious.






BROCCOLI with PANCETTA and PARMESAN

Hands-on time: 10 minutes
Time to table: 25 minutes
Serves 4

Water to steam
1 ounce pancetta
1 pound broccoli, trimmed aggressively
1 ounce Parmesan, grated (yields 1 1/2 cups with a microplane)

Bring an inch of water to boil in a steaming pan. Cook the pancetta in a small skillet, breaking into pieces as it browns. Meanwhile, trim the broccoli and transfer it to the steamer basket. When the water boils, place the basket inside the pan, COVER and let steam for exactly five minutes. When the five minutes is up, drain the water, return the broccoli to the hot pan, stir in the pancetta and Parmesan (reserve some to sprinkle on top at the end), COVER the pan and let rest so the broccoli can continue to cook and the flavors meld. Sprinkle with reserved Parmesan. Serve and ENJOY!


KITCHEN NOTES
Recipe and photograph updated in 2008.




BROCCOLI RECIPES from the ARCHIVES
~ Perfect Pan-Fried Broccoli ~
~ Broccoli with Sautéed Garlic ~
~ Smashed Potatoes & Broccoli from Kitchen Parade ~

~ more broccoli recipes ~
~ more vegetables with bacon recipes ~




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 256: Cauliflower with Pancetta, Capers & Parmesan ♥

Today's vegetable recipe: Simple steamed cauliflower turned ethereal once tossed with pancetta, Parmesan and most especially, capers. Low carb. Weight Watchers 1 to 3 points.

So if I were a Swedish woman married to an Italian man and living in Tuscany, this cauliflower might be called a very romantic CAVOLFIORE con PANCETTA, CAPPERI e PARMIGIANO.

Instead I only got to channel with Ilva from Lucullian Delights while feasting on this delicious cauliflower combination. But honestly, I kept thinking about her delicious-looking recipes and travel-inspiring country scenes while cooking and eating it!

It all came about entirely by accident. Long story much short: supper's chicken recipe called for pancetta but didn't really (a recipe mistake, so easy to do! though I wouldn't have expected it from The Splendid Table's weekly weeknight supper e-mail ...) So I ditched supper's cauliflower plan and just started to cook.

WHAT a magical combination, the creamy cauliflower punctuated by bits of barely greasy pancetta and salty capers. The one thing I'd recommend changing is the quantity of pancetta, capers and and Parmesan. Typically I'm quite happy with 'light' vegetables but in this instance, I found myself longing for more of everything, especially the capers.

CAULIFLOWER with PANCETTA, CAPERS & PARMESAN

Hands-on time: 5 minutes to trim (can be done ahead of time) plus another 5 minutes
Time to table: 25 minutes
Serves 4

Water to steam
1 head cauliflower, core removed and florets cut in bite-size pieces

1 - 4 ounces pancetta
1 - 4 tablespoons capers, drained (don't skip the capers)
1 - 2 ounces fresh Parmesan, grated Parmesan

Salt and pepper to taste

Bring the water to boil in a steamer. Steam the cauliflower, covered, for about 15 minutes or until quite cooked, not to the point of mush but soft enough to break apart with a fork. Meanwhile, cook the pancetta in a small skillet until crispy. Stir in the capers. Drain the steamer and return the cauliflower to the hot pan. Stir in the pancetta, including the oil, capers and Parmesan. Season to taste with salt and pepper, serve and DO ENJOY!


KITCHEN NOTES
I'm not specifying exact amounts of pancetta and Parmesan because in 2005, I used the lower amounts and wanted more, in 2008 I used the larger amounts and wanted less! So use your own taste judgment ... as always.
Note to Vegetarians
Recipe and photograph updated in 2008.




MORE RECIPES
~ Roasted Cauliflower ~
~ Curried Cauliflower ~
~ Cauliflower Cream ~
~ more cauliflower recipes ~
~ vegetables taste better with bacon! ~




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 255: Roasted Potatoes & Red Onion ◄

OH!

These were so good, hot and crispy and pungent with rosemary -- perfect on their own but especially alongside roasted pork.

As usual, I lightened the recipe a tad -- the fat wasn't missed and the calorie benefit is big.

(How would the lower- and higher-fat potatoes compare side by side? OF COURSE the higher fat version would be better. It's why I always start off with less fat. If it tastes good or good enough, perfect. It it doesn't then I'll consider adding more fat the next time IF the recipe overall is worth it.)

I also adjusted the oven temperature and roasting time to match the pork.
(Looking for a vegetable to cook alongside meat at a certain temperature? Check here for ideas, sorted by oven temperature.)

Many thanks to my ever-helpful cousin Lynda for teaching the simple knack of roasted potatoes, something I've never before had much luck with.

ROASTED POTATOES & RED ONION
Bookmark or print this recipe only
Hands-on time: 15 minutes to prep (can be done ahead of time) and 5 minutes along the way
Time to table: 80 minutes
Serves 6 with stingy portions and 4 with generous ones


Preheat oven to 400F or 450F.

1 tablespoon butter (the inspiring recipe uses 2 tablespoons)
1 tablespoon olive oil (the inspiring recipe uses 2 tablespoons)

1 1/2 pounds small firm red potatoes, cut in bite-size chunks
2 red onion, peeled and cut in chunks (two onions seemed like a lot so I used only one, because the onions really shrink, two would have been better)
8 cloves garlic, stem end sliced off but left unpeeled
2 tablespoons fresh or dried rosemary

Salt and pepper to taste

While the oven preheats, place the butter and olive oil on a rimmed baking sheet or roasting pan (pick one that has enough surface area to hold all the potatoes and onion in a single layer) and let it get bubbly as the oven heats. (Next time I might heat the butter/olive oil in the microwave in a bowl big enough to toss the potatoes/onion in.)

Prep the potatoes and onion. Toss the potatoes and onion very well, coating completely, with the butter/olive oil. Add the garlic and rosemary.

Arrange on the rimmed baking sheet in a single layer.

At 400F, roast for 30 minutes, toss and then roast for another 30 minutes. (This is the temperature I used.) At 450F, roast for 25 minutes, shaking occasionally. (This is what the inspiring recipe specifies.)

If you like, squeeze the garlic clovers out of their skins. Season with salt and pepper, serve and ENJOY!

NUTRITION ESTIMATE
Made with 4T fat, 4 servings, Per Serving: 277 Cal (40% from Fat, 6% from Protein, 53% from Carb); 4 g Protein; 13 g Tot Fat; 5 g Sat Fat; 38 g Carb; 5 g Fiber; NetCarb 33; 49 mg Calcium; 2 mg Iron; 14 mg Sodium; 15 mg Cholesterol; Weight Watchers 6 points

Made with 4T fat, 6 servings, Per Serving: 184 Cal (40% from Fat, 6% from Protein, 53% from Carb); 3 g Protein; 9 g Tot Fat; 3 g Sat Fat; 25 g Carb; 3 g Fiber; NetCarb 22; 32 mg Calcium; 1 mg Iron; 9 mg Sodium; 10 mg Cholesterol; Weight Watchers 4 points

Made with 2T fat, 4 servings, Per Serving: 221 Cal (26% from Fat, 8% from Protein, 66% from Carb); 4 g Protein; 7 g Tot Fat; 2 g Sat Fat; 38 g Carb; 5 g Fiber; NetCarb 33; 48 mg Calcium; 2 mg Iron; 14 mg Sodium; 8 mg Cholesterol; Weight Watchers 4 points

Made with 2T fat, 6 servings, Per Serving: 148 Cal (26% from Fat, 8% from Protein, 66% from Carb); 3 g Protein; 4 g Tot Fat; 2 g Sat Fat; 25 g Carb; 3 g Fiber; NetCarb 22; 32 mg Calcium; 1 mg Iron; 9 mg Sodium; 5 mg Cholesterol; Weight Watchers 3 points

ALANNA's TIPS
  • When you see this in the title and the Recipe Box, you know the recipe's a personal favorite. Tastes vary, of course, but the mark is one indication of another vegetable recipe that's worth paying attention to.
(c) Copyright 2005 Kitchen Parade

Kitchen Parade Extra: Graham Cracker Toffee ◄

It's cookie baking week at my house since on Saturday, my friends will converge here for our annual cookie swap. What am I making? Probably these old-world lebkuchen.

Need a last-minute gift? Or a tasty addition to cookie plates for the neighbors? Or short on time? Make graham cracker toffee, so easy and delicious and different from standard cookie fare. And it freezes well so is a good make-ahead option too.

Other years I've made chocolatey-chocolatey gourmet mocha cookies and pretty cut-out frosty Christmas trees, archive columns now in the Kitchen Parade recipe box.

Day 254: Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta & Garlic ♥

Table Talk: "These are the BEST Brussels sprouts!"

No surprise, the recipe comes from StephenCooks who wields a magic culinary wand on fish to fowl and especially, to my taste, on vegetables. A Veggie Venture is frequently inspired by StephenCooks as seen here and here and for every-day, especially here.

But this one's a real winner.

The sprouts are halved and cored and twisted, then steamed and tossed in pancetta, garlic and basil with small splashes of balsamic vinegar, olive oil and hot sauce.

By design, I lightened the dish a tad and by accident, omitted the basil. Neither was missed but I suspect the basil would add a bright note.

This one IS a winner -- if Brussels sprouts are on your list, start here!

BRUSSELS SPROUTS with PANCETTA and GARLIC
StephenCooks' version
Hands-on time: 25 minutes to trim (can be done ahead of time), then 10 minutes
Time to table: About 45 minutes
Serves 4


Water to steam
1 pound large Brussels sprouts (see ALANNA's TIPS)

2 ounces thin-sliced pancetta
1 tablespoon garlic (in my weeknight kitchen, from a jar; StephenCooks uses 2 cloves of minced garlic)
8 fresh basil leaves, shredded
1 tablespoon olive oil (I omitted this, the fat from the pancetta seemed more than plenty)
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar (I wouldn't mind more, maybe even a tablespoon)
Salt to taste
Hot sauce to taste (I used maybe a drop of Tabasco)

Add water to a steamer and bring to a boil (see TIPS).

Trim the sprouts: Slice off the base and remove the outer leaves. Cut each sprout in half lengthwise through the core, then make V-shaped cuts to remove the core. With your thumbs on the either side of the V, twist the sprout to open up the leaves a bit. (StephenCooks says this leaves the sprouts intact but creates more surface area for the good bits that are added later to attach to. I agree!)

Steam the sprouts for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, saute the pancetta over MEDIUM fire in a small skillet until the edges have started to brown, breaking it into pieces with a spatula while it cooks (StephenCooks slices the pancetta beforehand). Add the garlic and cook for a minute. (StephenCooks removes the skillet from the heat and tosses the pancetta with the garlic off heat.)

Drain the water from the steamer and return the sprouts to the hot pan. Stir in the pancetta and garlic mixture, including the fat in the skillet. Add the basil, olive oil (if using) and balsamic vinegar. Season with salt and hot sauce and toss well. Cover and let rest for 5 minutes. Toss again and serve and DO ENJOY!

NUTRITION ESTIMATE
With olive oil, Per Serving: 111 Cal (40% from Fat, 24% from Protein, 36% from Carb); 7 g Protein; 5 g Tot Fat; 1 g Sat Fat; 11 g Carb; 4 g Fiber; NetCarb 7; 54 mg Calcium; 2 mg Iron; 312 mg Sodium; 3 mg Cholesterol; Weight Watchers 2 points

Per Serving: 81 Cal (20% from Fat, 32% from Protein, 48% from Carb); 7 g Protein; 2 g Tot Fat; 1 g Sat Fat; 11 g Carb; 4 g Fiber; NetCarb 7; 54 mg Calcium; 2 mg Iron; 312 mg Sodium; 3 mg Cholesterol; Weight Watchers 1 point

ALANNA's TIPS
  • Most times, I'd recommend tiny Brussels sprouts which come about 50 to the pound because they'll cook more quickly and are somewhat more tender. Tonight, however, I had large ones on hand, 17 in a pound, and was glad of it because there were fewer units to trim. I'd definitely recommend choosing large Brussels sprouts for this particular recipe.
  • Especially when having guests, I'll bring the water to boil ahead of time, then keep the fire on low until it's time to bring the water back to a boil and do the actual steaming.


(c) Copyright 2005 Kitchen Parade

Never Trust a Sneaky Mom

A Sneaky Mom, she just can't be trusted.

First she slips green and red and all nature of healthful vegetables into the innocent mouth of her very own unsuspecting child and then tells the Internet.

And then! She forwards a food blogger meme about Top 10 favorite foods but has the audacity to add a TWIST: No Vegetables Allowed!

(Might make someone just a tiny bit cranky. Except that it's all in fun, it IS all for the fun of it.)

So ... no vegetables. If life offered no vegetables (thank goodness it does) here's what I'd eat:

Oatmeal with peanut butter. London Indian take-away. Room service.
Starbucks latte ice cream. Walleye from the Rainy. All Christmas cookies but especially my sister's shortbread. My Auntie Gloria's "coffee" (served after 5 ...). Tom's grilled mushrooms. The muesli from an otherwise forgettable little hotel in Zurich. Post-appetizer and pre-pudding Steak 'n' Shake at 3am. Clementines. Tomatoes. (Hey! Technically, tomatoes are fruit! And so there, Sneaky Mom, from this one very Sneaky Vegetable Eater.)

Day 253: Italian Wedding Soup

Poco Cocoa's Italian Wedding Soup post grabbed my attention last week. All those vegetables AND a way to use up leftover pesto!

It was filling and satisfying -- a sweet spot! -- on a cold, wintry day. Don't skip the pesto, it adds a needed flavor burst.

TIP: Substitute chayote (there's a picture here) for its summer-squash cousi
n zucchini whenever the cooking time is longer than a few minutes. Chayote holds its shape, color and flavor without the mush factor of zucchini.

For other soups made with piles of vegetables, see here in the Recipe Box.

ITALIAN WEDDING SOUP
Bookmark or print this recipe only
Hands-on time: 20 minutes
Time to table: 50 minutes (less if ingredients aren't frozen)
Makes 11 cups



6 cups broth (today, turkey broth leftover from Thanksgiving)

1 tablespoon olive oil (Poco Cocoa uses 2 tablespoons)
2 large carrots, diced
1 large onion, diced
2 ribs celery, diced

8 ounces frozen green beans
3 cups slow-roasted tomatoes, this is the Eat Local angle (or a 15-ounce can of diced tomatoes)
2 chayote squash, diced (or zucchini)
Parmesan rind (my addition)
15-ounce can navy beans, rinsed and drained
Salt and pepper to taste

Pesto for garnish

Bring the broth to a boil in the microwave. (This is a time-saving trick that can be skipped if you're in no rush.)

In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil til shimmery on MEDIUM HIGH, then add the carrots, onion and celery as they're prepped. (I add the carrot first because it takes the longest to cook.) Saute til soft and the onions are golden.

Add the hot broth and the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to MEDIUM, cover and let simmer for about 30 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning. (This needed a lot of salt!)

Fill bowls and top with a spoonful of pesto. Serve and enjoy!

NUTRITION ESTIMATE
Without the pesto which varies widely in calories, Per Cup: 105 Cal (13% from Fat, 22% from Protein, 65% from Carb); 6 g Protein; 2 g Tot Fat; 0 g Sat Fat; 18 g Carb; 5 g Fiber; NetCarb 13; 45 mg Calcium; 1 mg Iron; 645 mg Sodium; 0 mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 1 point

With high-fat pesto, Per Cup of Soup and 1 Tablespoon Pesto: Per Serving: 181 Cal (41% from Fat, 18% from Protein, 41% from Carb); 9 g Protein; 9 g Tot Fat; 2 g Sat Fat; 19 g Carb; 5 g Fiber; NetCarb 14; 147 mg Calcium; 2 mg Iron; 748 mg Sodium; 4 mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 4 points

CREDIT WHERE CREDIT'S DUE
Poco Cocoa says the recipe originates with Vegan Planet by Robin Robertson


(c) Copyright 2005 Kitchen Parade

Day 252: Canned Vegetable Broth

"If you won't drink it, don't cook with it."

If it's true for wine, should it hold true for vegetable broth?

Ever since making Light Vegetable Stock, I've been wondering what a canned version would be like.

And much to my surprise, this Swanson's product isn't undrinkable. It has overtones of hay and undertones of something rooty. Most of all, however, it's salty-salty-salty.

Would I drink it? No. Would I cook with it? In a pinch.

And for those who aren't vegetarians, is there a convenience broth?
I think so, the Swanson's 100% Natural Goodness recommended by Cook's Illustrated.

(c) Copyright 2005 Kitchen Parade

Day 251: Simple Broccoli & Chicken Stir Fry

Do you remember your very first dinner party? I do. (Can something so simple be called a dinner party? Read on ...)

I was home for two weeks before starting my first job out of university. The parents were away for the weekend with a neighbor couple so my sister and I invited their sons for supper and cooked ... spaghetti! But it was all quite festive because we did a big salad, garlic bread, the whole spaghetti-works. Sound like an occasion for cheap red wine? No way, we were all underage!

And then there was my second dinner party, just a few weeks later and happily tucked into my first apartment, two rooms and a tiny kitchen, the main room filled by a gangrene-green sofa and chair set that my folks had bought secondhand for their basement ten years before. (Secondhand. For the basement. Ten years before. Getting the picture?)

The night before the party, I cleaned the whole apartment, shopped for groceries and did all the prep work in exactly two hours. (Two hours!)

My dear Auntie Gloria and Uncle Clarke were all the way from Winnipeg to attend the Iowa State Fair and were coming for supper in my little apartment. I cooked ... a simple broccoli and chicken stir-fry from a cookbook from a tiny exotic (for me, then) Chinese grocery in the big city (for me, then) of Des Moines.

And if you have your own Auntie Gloria, you'll understand that once we sat down to eat, she moaned and raved and exclaimed over the food. I felt so proud! And couldn't wait to have people over again.

Since then, I've given a dinner party in a Residence Inn that was home while a new house was being painted. And then once it was, I gave another when there were still moving boxes stacked in the dining room!

And so the lesson has slowly taken hold, the joy of breaking bread in its most elemental sense, all about the people not the food, all about a sense of occasion not the perfect setting. Fancy dinner parties have their place but so do simple meals shared with friends.

For the Record: All this dinner-party reminiscence comes with many thanks to the food blogs Something Clever and i like to cook who challenged food bloggers to pull out their very first cookbooks for a Weekend Cookbook Challenge. This was fun! Thanks, Alicat and Sara!

SIMPLE BROCCOLI & CHICKEN STIR FRY
Hands-on time: 20 minutes
Time to table: 30 minutes
Serves 4


1 tablespoon peanut oil
1/2 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut in small pieces

1 onion, diced
1 pound broccoli, trimmed aggressively, cut in bite-size pieces

SAUCE
2 tablespoons sherry (or madeira or vermouth or ...)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon corn starch
1/2 teaspoon sugar
Generous pepper

Water as needed
1/2 pound summer tomatoes for winter (this is the Eat Local angle, these were delicious, I couldn't believe they'd kept in the freezer so well for so long in nothing but a freezer bag)
Red pepper flakes
Addional salt and pepper

Assemble and prep all ingredients before beginning to cook. Heat a large skillet or wok on HIGH. Add the oil, when it's shimmery, add the chicken and cook for 2 - 3 minutes, stirring frequently but letting chicken settle long enough to lightly brown. Set chicken aside and cover to keep warm. Add the onion and broccoli and let cook for 1 - 2 minutes, tossing frequently, adjusting heat and adding water as necessary to avoid burning (I probably added a good cup). Add the sauce, stir to coat, cover and let cook for 2 - 3 minutes. Add the chicken back to the pot, stir in the tomatoes, season to taste, serve and enjoy!

NUTRITION ESTIMATE
Per Serving: 204 Cal (26% from Fat, 35% from Protein, 40% from Carb); 18 g Protein; 6 g Tot Fat; 1 g Sat Fat; 20 g Carb; 4 g Fiber; NetCarb16; 78 mg Calcium; 2 mg Iron; 537 mg Sodium; 33 mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 4 points


ALANNA's TIPS
  • Serve with rice to soak up the flavorful sauce.

CREDIT WHERE CREDIT'S DUE
Chinese Cooking / 2


(c) Copyright 2005 Kitchen Parade

Day 250: Creamless Creamed Corn ♥

What? You mean creamed corn doesn't only come from a can? Really? Really truly??

When Singapore's Chubby Hubby posted this creamless creamed corn last month, I couldn't wait to try it. Could any fresh creamed corn live up to my kid memories of the sweetness of creamed corn stirred into mashed potatoes and mushed with meatloaf, what my mother told us was a 'deluxe'. (And oh, it was yummy, no doubt.)

This, however, is a grown-up creamed corn, assertive and tasting of summer heat and fields of grasshoppers. It's good, a real keeper, especially served over some grown-up garlic mashed potatoes with some grown-up chipotle-balsamic-arugula meatloaf. (That last? It exists only in my mind.)

If you like creamed vegetables, try the recipe for creamed spinach or even delicious creamed radishes and other creamed vegetable recipes.

CREAMLESS CREAMED CORN
Hands-on time: 15 minutes to start then occasional attention during the next 10 minutes
Time to table: 25 minutes
Serves 4


1/2 pound frozen corn, thawed in boiling water, then drained (Chubby Hubby uses less but to my taste, "creamed corn" needs as much 'cream' as 'corn')
1/4 cup chicken stock
1/3 cup water

1 tablespoon butter
1 small onion, diced
1 tablespoon garlic (from a jar, of course ...)
1/2 pound frozen corn
Salt and pepper to taste

Puree the first 1/2 pound of corn, the chicken stock and the water in a food processor. (To save dishwasher space, next time I might try the food processor attachment of the immersion blender though it would likely require two batches.)

Meanwhile, melt the butter over MEDIUM HIGH in a large skillet until shimmery. Add the onion and stir to coat with fat. Saute until soft. Add the garlic and cook another minute. Add the remaining 1/2 pound corn and let warm. Add the pureed mixture, lower the heat to MEDIUM (and perhaps lower) and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to avoid sticking and burning. Season with salt and pepper, serve and enjoy.

NUTRITION ESTIMATE
Per Serving: 143 Cal (21% from Fat, 10% from Protein, 69% from Carb); 4 g Protein; 4 g Tot Fat; 2 g Sat Fat; 28 g Carb; 3 g Fiber; NetCarb 25; 14 mg Calcium; 1 mg Iron; 62 mg Sodium; 8 mg Cholesterol; Weight Watchers 3 points

Kitchen Parade Extra: Cranberry-Mac Morsels ◄

Already up to your elbows in sugar and butter and flour?

Don't miss these nutmeg-rich cranberry and macadamia nut cookies for they'll add welcome color and flavor to your holiday Christmas platters.

Cranberry-Mac Morsels are so good that two years ago, my family decided they were the best 'new' cookie of the year. And now you'll find them featured in this week's Kitchen Parade column.

Day 249: Sliced Brussels Sprouts ♥

After I suffered a bad batch of Brussels sprouts a few weeks ago, my friend Cindy wrote, "I grew up on frozen then overcooked Brussels sprouts. I did not like them. Even our dog wouldn't eat them. Then Gregg and I were in San Francisco and the special veggie was Brussels sprouts and the waiter assured us they were fresh and delicious and encouraged us to try them. We did and they WERE great!"

Tonight I cooked Cindy's simple sprouts and do absolutely agree: they are very good, not over-the-top fine-chocolate good but plain, simple fare that nourishes and satisfies.

Once again, however, the 15 minutes it takes to trim (and in this case then slice) the Brussels sprouts seems interminable on a weeknight. Next time, I'll definitely pull out the food processor for the slicing job.

SLICED BRUSSELS SPROUTS
Hands-on time: 15 minutes to trim/slice (can be done ahead of time), then about 30 minutes to cook, with only occasional attention needed
Time to table: 45 minutes
Serves 4


1 pound Brussels sprouts, stem ends sliced off, sliced or chopped in food processor or sliced in 4-5 pieces
1 tablespoon butter
Water as needed
Salt & pepper to taste

Clean and slice the sprouts. Melt the butter in a large, deep skillet until shimmery over MEDIUM. Add the sliced sprouts in two or three batches, stirring well to coat with butter. Cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and fragrant, about 30 minutes, adding water as needed to prevent burning. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Serve and enjoy!

NUTRITION ESTIMATE
Per Serving: 74 Cal (34% from Fat, 18% from Protein, 48% from Carb); 4 g Protein; 3 g Tot Fat; 2 g Sat Fat; 10 g Carb; 4 g Fiber; NetCarb 6; 48 mg Calcium; 2 mg Iron; 29 mg Sodium; 8 mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 1 point

Day 248: Spinach & Artichoke Gratin ♥

Isn't this gratin pretty?! The photograph shows the unbaked casserole but the color holds pretty well in the oven, too.

It's a lighter version of one of seven vegetables at this year's Thanksgiving table but the red and green make it perfect for Christmas, too.

And it's perfect for family dinners:
  • Assembled in advance
  • Zero fuss moving straight from the frig to the oven
  • Zero fuss moving from the oven to the table
  • Healthful!
  • Did I mention delicious? That too!

Some of the lightening came by accident when it turned out that the refrigerator's chunk of Parmesan was all rind and no cheese. Next time, I would include the Parmesan because I did miss some level of richness. That said, this was extraordinarily good as made, even without the cheese.

RECIPE for SPINACH & ARTICHOKE GRATIN

Hands-on time: 20 minutes
Oven time: 25 minutes - 45 minutes (see ALANNA's TIPS)
Makes 8 cups

16 ounces frozen chopped spinach, cooked in salted water and drained

2 tablespoons unsalted butter (reduced from 8 tablespoons)
1 large onion, diced

14 ounce can artichokes, drained, tough bits cut off, chopped
4 ounce jar pimento, drained (optional but provides nice color contrast)
1/2 cup sour cream (reduced from 2 cups/1 pint)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (or more to taste)
Freshly ground pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Cook the spinach. While it cooks, heat a large, deep skillet on MEDIUM, add the butter until it softens. Add the onion and saute until soft and golden. Add the artichokes and let cook together for a couple of minutes. Stir in the spinach and the remaining ingredients. Transfer to a lightly greased two-quart casserole dish. Transfer to oven for 25 minutes (so says the inspiring recipe). Otherwise, refrigerate, remove from frig about an hour before going into the oven and cook for about 45 minutes or until very hot and bubbly through the middle.


ALANNA'S TIPS
The recipe recommends 25 minutes in the oven if baked right away while the ingredients are still warm. I made it in advance, took it out of the frig for an hour before going into the oven, it was hot through the middle in 45 minutes.

A Veggie Venture - Printer Friendly Recipe Graphic








© Copyright Kitchen Parade 2005


Day 247: Celery & Apple Salad ♥

Celery & Apple Salad
One of my very favorite salads on all of A Veggie Venture, a 'wintry' mix of celery leaves, apples and a seductive lemon vinaigrette.

~recipe & photo updated 2007 & 2010~

2005: Some times the simple is sublime. Celery and apples, such every-day ingredients. Mustard and honey and lemon juice, such pantry staples. The combination really works. It's got crunch. It's got freshness. It's got flavor. It's made its way to the table twice in a week. The first plate came sans walnuts and sans photo, the second plate with and with. Either way, this salad is a definite keeper and is especially appropriate for late fall and winter.

TIP: Watch for stalks of celery with lots of leaves. Mostly the packers/grocers cut off the leafy ends but some bags have more than others. The leaves are very tasty but if you can't find any, just use salad greens underneath.

2007: I love honey crisp apples but a variety with more tartness (like the recommended and less expensive Granny Smith) is especially good in this salad. Plus, there's something about a 'green on green' salad that's especially attractive. I added a few dried sour cherries to the top: not half so good as toasted walnuts. All this said, this is one of my very favorite easy salads so I'm always on the look-out for celery with a good proportion of leaves still intact.

2010: "What are you looking for?" asked a fellow shopper in the grocery store, seeing me pull back the plastic from one stalk of celery after another. "I love the leaves," I told her with a smile. The leaves are slightly sharp and bitter, if you can't find a stalk with lots of leaves, supplement with other lettuce greens.

TESTIMONIALS
"Oh yes, it's a great tasting salad. I'm not much of a celery friend, but this one tastes good." ~ Didi


RECIPE for CELERY & APPLE SALAD

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

VINAIGRETTE
Juice of a lemon (about 2 tablespoons)
1 tablespoon good mustard (reduced from 2 tablespoons)
1 teaspoon honey (reduced from 2 1/2 teaspoons)
1 tablespoon olive oil (reduced from 1/3 cup)
Salt & pepper to taste (important, don't skip)

SALAD
Celery leaves, chopped (or other salad greens)
2 ribs of celery, sliced thin on the diagonal
1 Granny Smith or another tart apple, cored and chopped [2007: honey crisp, cored & sliced]
2 tablespoons toasted walnuts or almonds, optional (reduced from 3/4 cup)

VINAIGRETTE Whisk together the dressing ingredients in a small bowl.

SALAD Arrange celery leaves or salad greens on four small plates. Add the celery and apple. Drizzle with the dressing. Top with toasted nuts.









© Copyright Kitchen Parade 2005


Day 246: Warm Pepper Salad ♥

Okay so for yesterday's Swagman Stew I tried anchovies -- an anchovy paste, to be precise -- for the very first time and could hardly tell they existed.

So today I decided to live daringly and eat real, live (well, not LIVE) anchovies. I fully expected (already half-writing the post in my head) that the entire dish would be so awful it'd go straight into the rubbish.

Instead -- oh my oh my oh my. This warm pepper salad is so unusual, so delicious, so, well, un-fishy. And all for 10 minutes hands-on and 30 minutes in the oven. Who can beat THAT?

I suspect you're going to feel reluctant about this, the anchovies and all. Here's what I suggest. Make it once, using only the anchovy oil. If you like it -- and I think you will, no fishiness, remember?! -- then make it another time, using the anchovies themselves and the anchovy oil.

For other recipes using anchovies, check the Recipe Box. Oh wait, there ARE no other recipes using anchovies in the Recipe Box. (Update: Yes there are! See all the recipes with anchovies!)

WARM PEPPER SALAD
Hands-on time: 10 minutes
Time to table: 40 minutes (or can be made ahead to serve at room temperature)
Serves 4


1 pound frozen roasted red and yellow peppers (from Trader Joe's)
3 teaspoons garlic (accidentally forgot this, think it would further add)
2 ounces anchovies, oil left in tin, chopped fine
3 tablespoons capers
Dried Italian seasoning
Oil from the anchovies
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 350F. Lightly spray a quiche pan or other low-sided baking dish with cooking spray. Arrange still-frozen peppers in a single layer (save the rest for a second layer) and with an equivalent amount of the anchovies and capers. Sprinkle with Italian seasoning. Arrange the second layer over top and repeat. Drizzle the anchovy oil over the peppers. Season to taste. Bake for 30 minutes. Serve immediately or let cool to room temperature. Either way, enjoy!

NUTRITION ESTIMATE
Per Serving: 77 Cal (17% from Fat, 29% from Protein, 54% from Carb); 6 g Protein; 2 g Tot Fat; 0 g Sat Fat; 11 g Carb; 2 g Fiber; NetCarb 9; 51 mg Calcium; 1 mg Iron; 725 mg Sodium; 12 mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 1 points

CREDIT WHERE CREDIT'S DUE
Adapted from Mark Bittman's "The Best Recipes in the World"

Day 245: Swagman Stew ♥

"Once a jolly swagman,
sat beside a billabong ..."


So sang my mother, as a lullaby, to my sister and me; so sang my London-born, WWI veteran grandfather to my mother and her sister when they were girls.

But the lilting Waltzing Matilda is perhaps all that many Americans, myself included, know about the hours-, kilometers- and hemisphere-away Aussies of Australia.

(Top-of-mind check. Fosters beer. Great wine. Vegemite. Mutton. Humour and vocabulary. Kangaroos and koalas. That movie guy with the cowboy hat, what was his name? And yeah, Muriel, the one in the wedding movie. Russell Crowe!!! A remarkable 60-something white-haired Aussie named Martha who trekked the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu in the Peruvian Andes carrying a red umbrella and wearing a long-sleeved, high-collared white -- WHITE! -- linen shirt somehow kept immaculately fresh during five days of hard hiking and third-world camping. The Sydney Opera House. The Outback. A Town Like Alice. The Shackleton Antarctica quest. Rupert Murdoch. Dame Edna. The Bee Gees. Gallipoli. The aboriginal people. That's a sadly short list for a big place. Note to self: Make immediate booking to Australia for blog research purposes.)

So when the Australia-based Two-Minute Noodle Cook announced the four ingredients for this month's Paper Chef, the international food weekend that keeps some (ahem) foodies awake nights strategizing on the possibilities, I jumped into the fray.

But hey -- did they make it tooo easy?
  • Rice & Carrots -- These two ingredients appear often here on A Veggie Venture.

  • Anchovies -- Eeeww. Anchovies? Stinky fish?? Stinky slimy fish??? Alright, this one's a challenge. But okay, I'm game, I've been meaning to try them, seems they're everywhere, including a tin or two in my very own pantry. So why NOT now? (And hey, I can always blame any iffy results on someone else's choice of stinky slimy fish. And besides, it qualifies for the never-ending Clean Out the Pantry project.)

  • Something from Down Under -- Nothing like lamb, eh, mate?


And so was inspired Swagman Stew, a lamb, carrot and spinach stew fat with tomato gravy soaked up by just-cooked basmati rice and perfect -- PERFECT -- for a cold, wintry Sunday supper.

In keeping with the style of the house, Swagman Stew is a simple stew, one that takes a few minutes of up-front attention, then essentially simmers away on the stove for an afternoon, filling the house with a rich aroma of spring lamb and summer tomatoes, and developing flavors whose first bites, as it turned out, turned the table from lively to silent ... until that is, the shiraz, Australian of course, in due course fixed that.

As ever, many thanks to the folks who work hard to coordinate these events -- just like in my first Paper Chef back in September, I'm learning that I can, indeed, cook without a recipe.

PS As for those stinky slimy anchovies? I must not have used enough for there was not one bit of stink or slime in the entire stew. Maybe I'll try again tomorrow. Hint, hint.

SWAGMAN STEW
Hands-on time: 25 minutes up front plus 10 to finish plus brief occasional attention along the way
Time to table: 3 1/2 hours
Makes 7 cups


1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1 tablespoon garlic with a little water
1 pound lamb (uh oh! I'm not even sure what cut the butcher sent home with me, I explained only that 'stew' was the plan), fat removed and cut into 1/2 inch chunks (next time I'll make larger chunks as the lamb seemed to break down with the long cook)
2 tablespoons anchovy paste (I started with just 1 but then decided to live daringly)
2 cups slow-roasted tomatoes (this is the Eat Local angle, Batch 5, to be precise, which included a head of garlic) or a 14-ounce can of diced tomatoes
1/2 cup red wine
2 cups chicken broth

1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1 pound carrots, peeled, cut in thick slices on the diaganol

About 5 ounces fresh spinach

Salt and pepper to taste (none was needed tonight)

Cooked rice

Heat a Dutch oven over MEDIUM HIGH. Add the oil, let heat til shimmery. Add the onion, stir to coat with oil. Add the garlic and saute until soft and golden. Push the onion to the edge of the pan, add the meat, in batches if necessary, and brown the meat. Stir in the anchovy paste, the slow-roasted tomatoes, the wine and the chicken broth. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to MEDIUM, cover and let simmer for an hour, checking occasionally to stir and adjust temperature to keep at slow simmer.

Add the basil and thyme, let simmer for another hour.

Add the carrots, making sure they're completely submerged, and cook for another 45 minutes.

Add the spinach and cook for another 10 minutes.

Serve hot over cooked rice. Enjoy! Tell the cook she did just fine!! And pass the wine ...

NUTRITION ESTIMATE
Stew Only, Per Cup: 256 Cal (41% from Fat, 37% from Protein, 21% from Carb); 24 g Protein; 12 g Tot Fat; 3 g Sat Fat; 13 g Carb; 3 g Fiber; NetCarb 10; 66 mg Calcium; 3 mg Iron; 1050 mg Sodium; 71 mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 5 points

1 Cup Stew with 1 cup rice: 304 Cal (35% from Fat, 33% from Protein, 32% from Carb); 25 g Protein; 12 g Tot Fat; 3 g Sat Fat; 24 g Carb; 4 g Fiber; NetCarb 20; 70 mg Calcium; 3 mg Iron; 1051 mg Sodium; 71 mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 6 points