The Best of February

It's been an amazing month on A Veggie Venture -- only 28 days but 22 favorites! Who knew winter's goodness could rival summer's bounty?

I make light but do, in fact, believe that the reason February's vegetables tasted so good is that they were suited to February: root vegetables, purees, oven dishes. I ignored the 'spring-ish' asparagus beginning to appear in the supermarket, bypassed anything resembling a tomato.

So what are February's best veggie side, best soup and, a new category, best vegetarian supper? And because we've been cooking fennel all month, the best fennel?

FEBRUARY'S BEST VEGETABLE SIDE DISH Sorry, there's no picking just one.

For nights with calories and time to spare, try the to-die-for Parsnip Fries.




For those slim-on-time and slim-in-diet, opt for Simple Braised Celery.







FEBRUARY'S BEST SOUP Hunger Moon Parsnip Soup a simple soup, redolent of earth and lunar cycles







FEBRUARY'S BEST VEGETARIAN SUPPER Lentil, Pepper and Spinach Supper Hearty, healthful and according to a Mom who made it too, kid friendly!






FEBRUARY'S BEST FENNEL Fennel, Leek & Mushroom Saute








FROM THE ARCHIVES For all eleven months' Best of the Month, see here!

(c) Copyright 2006 Kitchen Parade

Day 323: Potato Pancakes

Shrove Tuesday pancakes: I've been looking forward to them for weeks.

Like many with English heritage -- my grandfather was born in East London within sound of the bow bells of St Mary-le-Bow, making him 'Cockney' by geography if little else -- a feast of pancakes is traditional on Shrove Tuesday, the eve of Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent in the Christian tradition.

This year I opted -- of course! -- for pancakes with vegetables and a first-ever attempt at potato pancakes. Unfortunately, I chose a recipe without much care, one better titled "potato patties" (that is, potato and onion but no "cake") rather than the imagined cakey disks infused with grated potato and onion.

So I improvised ... ... and the pancakes were decent but extremely difficult to brown and still more difficult to remove from the pan. The good news is that I can try again: you see, pancakes are traditional.

NUTRITION NOTES ... These were filling. One pancake was plenty with the full complement of bacon, sour cream and applesauce.

FROM THE ARCHIVES ... There are other "vegetable patties" (without the cake) in the Recipe Box, including Beet Roesti and Zucchini Timbale and also an interesting spinach jelly roll.

POTATO PANCAKES
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Hands-on time: about 15 minutes? oops, lost track!
Time to table: 30 minutes
Makes 4 medium pancakes


1 egg
1 tablespoon flour
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 onion, grated
3/4 pound russet potato, peeled and grated and liquid pressed out with a paper towel (don't do this in advance, it'll turn a nasty color)
Bacon grease

Whisk the egg, flour and buttermilk. Add the onion and potato, stirring til just combined but no more. Melt a tablespoon of bacon grease in a large skillet (a stainless skillet was miserable, a non-stick skillet some less miserable but still not easy) until it's so hot that drops of water sizzle when dropped onto the skillet. Spoon the potato into the skillet (I could only do two at a time). Press with a spatula to even the mixture and use the tip to even out the edges. Cook for 3 - 4 minutes or until brown. Turn over and cook the other side.

Serve with bacon, sour cream and apple sauce.

NUTRITION ESTIMATE
Per Pancake: 140 Cal (32% from Fat, 14% from Protein, 54% from Carb); 5 g Protein; 5 g Tot Fat; 2 g Sat Fat; 19 g Carb; 1 g Fiber; NetCarb18; 56 mg Calcium; 1 mg Iron; 75 mg Sodium; 66 mg Cholesterol; Weight Watchers 3 points

CREDIT WHERE CREDIT'S DUE
Adapted from Epicurious December 2005


(c) Copyright 2006 Kitchen Parade

Day 322: Sun-Dried Tomato & Fennel Salad ◄

[So it's been fun, yes? experimenting with versatile fennel this month? Many thanks to everyone who joined in. The running round-up is now organized by salads, entrees, soups, etc. Every single recipe is on my "must try" list and should be on yours, too!]

Sun-dried tomatoes -- before they're dessert-dessicated or drenched in olive oil -- put out intense flavor.

I hoped to capture the intensity in cheese-sandwich biscuits on Day 310 -- but no such luck. I hoped to capture it in the sun-dried tomato dressing atop this salad -- but no such luck. (The dressing is good enough but so are hundreds of others.)

What does create a great platform for tomato intensity is a plate of salad greens and shaved fennel, plus whatever other toppings you have on hand (tonight some nablusi cheese, its saltiness a perfect foil, and fresh dill).

THAT works.

NUTRITION NOTES ... If you stay away from oil-soaked sun-dried tomatoes, they're good for you.
Like dried apricots, peaches and apples, however, their size can mask the calories. According to the USDA database I use, 54 grams is equivalent to a cup and 140 calories.

NEXT TIME ... I'll use the same salad greens but substitute one of my favorite salad dressings, one of these.

SUN-DRIED TOMATO & FENNEL SALAD
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Hands-on time: 5 minutes, 5 minutes to assemble salads
Time to table: 10 minutes
Serves 4


DRESSING
3 sun-dried tomato halves (soft and plump and fresh, not in oil)
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (to start, then add more to achieve consistency)
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh dill (or other fresh herb, the inspiring recipe suggested tarragon)

Process in a small food processor (one more reason to get an immersion blender).

SALAD
Fresh salad greens
Shaved fresh fennel
Thin strips of dried tomato
Minced fresh herbs (more dill tonight)
Other salad toppings

NUTRITION ESTIMATE
I didn't measure the quantity of dressing so can't estimate the exact calories. But a rough estimate, assuming the dressing splits 8 ways is: Per Serving: 65 Cal (91% from Fat, 2% from Protein, 8% from Carb); 0 g Protein; 7 g Tot Fat; 1 g Sat Fat; 1 g Carb; 0 g Fiber; NetCarb1; 15 mg Calcium; 1 mg Iron; 18 mg Sodium; 0 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.
CREDIT WHERE CREDIT'S DUE
Dressing adapted from Sun-Dried Tomatoes by Ethel & Georgeanne Brennan


(c) Copyright 2006 Kitchen Parade

Day 321: Winter Salsa

"Picked-green, rock-hard and no-taste winter supermarket tomatoes would improve this salsa."

Does that suggest how bad this salsa was?

I hoped for a mid-winter citrus salsa for alongside simple fish. A recipe at an unnamed-to-protect-the-guilty-source looked interesting because it called for canned tomatoes. I even splurged on organic, fire-roasted tomatoes!

It wasn't inedible although the whole mess did hit the dustbin after one bite. It just wasn't salsa -- no freshness, no crunch, no taste of life, no springboard for other flavors. It just wasn't worth eating.

LESSON LEARNED ... Fresh-tomato season is the only season for tomato salsa.

FROM THE ARCHIVES ... See the Recipe Box for other ideas for side relishes, especially this one.

WINTER SALSA
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Hands-on time: 10 minutes
Time to table: 10 minutes
Serves 0


15-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained (save the juice for soup!)
1 tangerine, sections cut in three
3 green onions, white and green parts, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh dill, minced
1 teaspoon jalapeno, minced fine
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients. Taste and throw away, lesson learned.

abBA

(c) Copyright 2006 Kitchen Parade

Day 320: Candied Fennel Ice Cream Provencal ◄

This was one very good vanilla ice cream. But sadly, the candied fennel itself added little more than effort and fuss.

The base ice cream recipe I do recommend -- it's from my favorite never-the-same Chameleon Ice Cream. It is less sweet and less rich than other ice cream recipes -- and still perfectly sweet and lip-smacking rich.

And it can be modified into an infinite number of combinations. The trick is to pump up the focus flavor (e.g, the vanilla, the coffee, the spice) which compensates for less sugar and fat.

FOR THE RECORD ... This is A Veggie Venture's contribution to Is My Blog Burning - the Vive le France edition hosted by Cucina Testa Rossa. So if you like, call it Glace a la Fenouil Provencal (sorry, can't seem to manage the special characters in blogger).

FENNEL ROUND-UP ... Thanks to everyone who cooked fennel with me during the month of February. Fennel must be one of the most versatile vegetables around -- check the round-up to see for yourself!

NUTRITION NOTES ... Chameleon Ice Cream is the only Weight Watchers three-point ice cream I've ever had that's worth eating.

FROM THE ARCHIVES ... For other desserts with vegetables, see here in the Recipe Box.

CANDIED FENNEL ICE CREAM PROVENCAL
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Hands-on time: 35 minutes
Time to table: 3 hours
Makes 3 1/2 cups


2 cups sugar
2 cups water
1 bulb fennel, trimmed and finely diced

Bring the sugar and water to a boil and let simmer 2 - 3 minutes until a thin syrup forms. Add the fennel and let simmer for about 30 minutes. Drain, reserving syrup for any recipe calling for simple syrup.

Meanwhile, make a batch of Very Vanilla Chameleon Ice Cream, using 1 tablespoon vanilla instead of 3. Add the candied fennel to the ice cream maker just before processing.

CREDIT WHERE CREDIT'S DUE
Candied Fennel Idea -- Adapted from Savoring France from Williams-Sonoma

Tagged with: +


(c) Copyright 2006 Kitchen Parade

Day 319: Parsnip Fries ◄

Oops! Caught me!

And there's no NOT snatching these parsnip fries right from the bowl. They're that good.

They were terrific alongside burgers but another time, I'd put them out, hot, as an appetizer, especially if supper were a little skimpy.

The recipe comes from my cousin Laura who feeds four kids so is definitely kid-friendly. (And it's in the family cookbook, page 223.)

Laura suggests cutting the woody cores from the parsnips and so I did. As it turns out, however, just as the parsnips went in the oven, I happened onto The Fumbling Foodie's post for roasted carrots and parsnips -- he says the cores were no problem.

NUTRITION NOTES ... These are a definite splurge in the diet department, both high in carbs and, for a vegetable, calories.

NEXT TIME ... I'll try keeping the cores in: taking them out is fussy and time-consuming.

FROM THE ARCHIVES ... See the Recipe Box for other ideas for roasted vegetables.

PARSNIP FRIES
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Hands-on time: 20 minutes up-front plus a couple of stirs midway
Over time: 30 - 35 minutes
Serves 4


2 pounds fresh parsnips (it takes this much to yield enough for 4 servings, with the cores cut out, this is about 1 1/2 pounds)
1 tablespoon olive oil (reduced from 3 tablespoons)
1 tablespoon minced garlic or 3 cloves minced garlic
Kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 450F.

Peel the parsnips and slice into two-inch matchsticks. (I like the combination of thin and fat so am not so fussy, the thin ones crisp up, the fat ones are soft and creamy.) Toss the parsnips, oil, garlic and salt. Arrange in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast for 15 minutes, stir and return to a single layer, roast another 15 - 20 mintes. Serve with malt vinegar and enjoy!

NUTRITION ESTIMATE
With 1 tablespoon olive oil -- Per Serving: 161 Cal (21% from Fat, 5% from Protein, 74% from Carb); 2 g Protein; 4 g Tot Fat; 1 g Sat Fat; 31 g Carb; 8 g Fiber; NetCarb 23; 65 mg Calcium; 1 mg Iron; 17 mg Sodium; 0 mg Cholesterol; Weight Watchers 3 points -- but definitely worth it occasionally!

With 3 tablespoons olive oil -- Per Serving: 220 Cal (42% from Fat, 4% from Protein, 55% from Carb); 2 g Protein; 11 g Tot Fat; 1 g Sat Fat; 31 g Carb; 8 g Fiber; NetCarb 22; 65 mg Calcium; 1 mg Iron; 18 mg Sodium; 0 mg Cholesterol; Weight Watchers 4.5 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 2006 Kitchen Parade

Kitchen Parade Extra: Quick Supper: Greek Feta Chicken ◄

It's back to Kitchen Parade's popular collection of quick suppers with a quick, cheap and tasty (and low carb AND low calorie) Greek Feta Chicken.

The chicken and a curried rice side dish are featured in this week's Kitchen Parade column.

And while you're there, check out the Column Archives' brand-new categories for Vegetarian & Vegan, Holidays & Celebrations, Fresh & Seasonal plus Kitchen Tips and my favorite essays.

And for the health-minded? there's Low Carb and Low Calorie.


(c) Copyright 2006 Kitchen Parade

Day 318: Potato & Ridge Gourd Curry ◄

So this healthful supper looks like 'love', doesn't it? Yes? Please?

You see, it's my contribution to Hooked on Heat's From My Rasoi's love-themed cooking extravaganza.

Love? What's a plate of potato and peas and pepper and ridge gourd (and what's a ridge gourd anyway?) got to do with love?

Love. Hmm. Expressed in Indian food.

Sure, I could have Googled, even asked around. I could have pulled out a long-neglected cookbook, Classic Indian Vegetarian and Grain Cooking by Julie Sahni. But what I really (really really) wanted to make was the ridge gourd curry that showed up on Mahanandi more than a month ago.

You know how some times a dish just grabs your attention? And even when a thousand other recipes try to intercede, your mind is somehow stuck? Thanks to Indira's coaching, I already had the Thai peppers (and have been throwing them into most everything) and the coconut powder. All I needed was the ridge gourd -- and lucky me, they're a dog-walk away.
And the truth is ... I Indian food blogs.

I love the simple combinations of vegetables and spices. I love the feeling of culture and community. From One Hot Stove to Mahanandi to Food, in the Main to Hooked on Heat to Sailu's Kitchen to Anthony's Kitchen to My Dhaba to The Cook's Cottage ... and on and on ... I feel inspiration.


So that's the story. So now you know. I love Indian food blogs. And that's the reason I cooked a simple and satisfying supper to express 'love'.




KITCHEN NOTES ...
This vegetarian/vegan supper was filling and satisfying. I substituted red pepper for carrot (how does one run out of carrot?) and curry powder for currry leaves but otherwise followed Indira's recipe faithfully. And the whole wheat chapatis? Wonderful!

WHAT's A RIDGE GOURD? A ridge gourd may look unusual (to me, to others too?) but isn't the least scary for, let's say, North American palates. It has the texture of spongy summer squash, the wetness midway between a zucchini and a cucumber, and the mild sweetness of a chayote (a Veggie Venture discovery on Day 221, which just this week I learned from Shammi is called chow-chow!).

It's easy to peel with a carrot peeler and is good to eat raw -- perfect for a plate of raw vegetables. And if Wikpedia is right, it's unmature fruit which, if left to mature and then processed becomes luffa, the stuff that softens our skin!

If you can't find ridge gourd, no problem. Substitute zucchini or summer squash or chayote.

FROM THE ARCHIVES ... Curries have become such favorites that they have their own section here in the Recipe Box.

POTATO & RIDGE GOURD CURRY
Bookmark or print this recipe only
See Mahanandi's Authentic Version
Hands-on time: 35 minutes
Time to table: 1 hour, 45 minutes
Serves 4


AN HOUR BEFORE COOKING
1/4 cup dried peas
Water

Soak the peas to soften them for cooking. (The peas aren't essential so could be skipped entirely.)

45 MINUTES BEFORE SERVING
1 teaspoon peanut oil
1 teaspoon garlic (oops, forgot this!)
1 teaspoon brown mustard seed
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon curry powder (Mahanandi uses curry leaves)
1 onion, diced

3/4 pound potato, diced (I leave the skin on)
1/2 pound carrots, peeled and diced (tonight I substituted red pepper)
Water

5 Thai chilis, membrane and seeds removed, minced (Indira was right! 5 is the perfect number)
1 tablespoon coconut powder (substitute unsweetened coconut or because the quantity is small, even sweetened coconut)
Pinch of turmeric
Salt to taste

2 ridge gourds, peeled and diced
1/2 cup frozen green peas

In a large, deep skillet, heat the oil over MEDIUM HIGH until shimmery. Stir in the garlic, mustard seed, cumin and curry and let heat til the seeds begin to pop and the spices become aromatic. Stir in the onion and let cook til just beginning to soften. Add the potato, carrot, the soaked peas and a splash of water. (I found this was needed to keep the potato/vegetables from sticking.) Reduce heat to MEDIUM, cover and let cook until both potatoes and carrots are nearly done, about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

While the potatoes cook, peel and dice the ridge gourds and mash the chilis and coconut powder into a smooth paste (I used a new mortar and pestle, which did the trick). Add the turmeric and salt (so you don't forget!).

Stir the ridge gourd and chili/coconut paste into the potato mixture and let cook for 5 - 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. (During this time, there was five minutes to spare, just enough to pan-heat the chapatis!) Taste and season appropriately. Serve and much enjoy!

NUTRITION ESTIMATE
Per Serving: 196 Cal (10% from Fat, 15% from Protein, 75% from Carb); 8 g Protein; 2 g Tot Fat; 0 g Sat Fat; 39 g Carb; 9 g Fiber; NetCarb 30; 81 mg Calcium; 3 mg Iron; 62 mg Sodium; 0 mg Cholesterol; Weight Watchers 3.5 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 2006 Kitchen Parade

Day 317: Simple Braised Celery ◄

Wow! Am I the last person on earth to cook celery? JUST celery! What I've been missing these last (ahem) 29 years!

Like everyone, I go through piles of celery. If there's onion and garlic in the pot, chances are there's celery too. And Day 247's celery & apple salad was memorable, perfect when you run across celery that still has its leaves.

But other than that? Nada.

[And nothing like being celery-outed! The other day, Tummy Treasure had four bunches of celery leftover from the wedding feast she cooked and predicted there'd be lots of celery ideas on A Veggie Venture. Oh no! Here it's been nearly 11 months of cooking a vegetable in a new way every single day -- and no celery! Thanks, Erika, if it weren't for you, this celery would be soup!]

NUTRITION NOTES ... You're gonna LOVE this. Carb Counters? Celery has only 2 grams of NetCarbs: now that's low-carb. And Weight Watchers? Zero Points. No Points. Nada Points. Got it? Eat the plate if you like.

KITCHEN TIP ... How to keep celery fresh in the frig for a good month.

NEXT TIME ... Why mess with perfection? The celery has great tooth-crunch and pepper-bite.

FROM THE ARCHIVES ... Check the Recipe Box for more low-carb vegetables and more zero-point vegetables.

SIMPLE BRAISED CELERY
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Hands-on time: 5 minutes
Time to table: 20 minutes
Serves 4


1/4 - 1/2 cup chicken stock or vegetable stock (more outing: tonight I used water with some boullion)
1 pound celery (most of a stalk)
1 tablespoon flour
Salt & pepper to taste (be generous with the pepper)

Heat the stock on MEDIUM HIGH in a skillet large enough to hold the celery in a single layer. Meanwhile, wash and trim the celery, then slice into one-inch pieces. Add the celery to the skillet and stir to wet. Sprinkle the flour and salt and pepper overtop and stir a bit til the flour is no longer visible. Reduce the heat to MEDIUM (or whatever will hold a slow simmer), cover and let cook til the celery reaches the 'crunch' you like (it will get soft if that's what you want but will take longer to cook), stirring occasionally. Serve and enjoy!

NUTRITION ESTIMATE
Per Serving: 28 Cal (11% from Fat, 22% from Protein, 66% from Carb); 2 g Protein; 0 g Tot Fat; 0 g Sat Fat; 5 g Carb; 2 g Fiber; NetCarb3; 47 mg Calcium; 0 mg Iron; 189 mg Sodium; 0 mg Cholesterol; Weight Watchers 0 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.
CREDIT WHERE CREDIT'S DUE
Adapted from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything


(c) Copyright 2006 Kitchen Parade

Day 316: Curried Vegetable Bisque ◄

Another decent winter vegetable soup.

This one, however, is hot with curry rather than bland like Day 299's butternut squash soup.

The inspiring recipe comes from Simply in Season, a new blog promoting the cookbook by the same name.

NUTRITION NOTES ... Carb counters, this one's not for you, thanks to the apples, raisins and carrots. And Weight Watchers, there are soups at least as good and perhaps better with fewer points here. Especially good are this and this and this. Oh and especially this, a dieter's standby.

NEXT TIME ... I'd tamp down the curry a bit. While the heat was easily tempered by a spoonful of cottage cheese or sour cream, this added calories I'd have rather avoided today.

CURRIED VEGETABLE BISQUE
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[no link to Simply in Season's version since recipes aren't kept online]
Hands-on time: 30 minutes (25 up front)
Time to table: 60 minutes
Made 7 cups (this was a half recipe, not sure why so much difference but the inspiring recipe said a whole recipe would make 20 cups)

3 cups chicken or vegetable broth

2 tablespoons vegetable oil (I skipped this, just used a couple of tablespoons broth)
2 Granny Smith apples, chopped (no need to peel although the inspiring recipe suggests doing so)
1 large onion, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 stick celery, diced
1 large Yukon gold potato, diced
1/4 cup currants (these were great, don't skip them, raisins would work too)
1 1/2 tablespoons curry (this was too much for my taste, adjust to your own)
1/2 teaspoon cardamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon thyme

1 1/2 cups skim milk
3/4 cup dry milk powder (this created the "bisque" creaminess, you could use coconut milk or fat-free half 'n' half)
2 tablespoons tomato paste

Bring the broth to a boil in the microwave (this is a time-saving technique that can be skipped if there's no rush). Heat the oil (if using) or broth in a large Dutch oven over MEDIUM HIGH. Add the apple and vegetables as they're prepped. Add the hot broth and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to MEDIUM and cook until potatoes are cooked through, about 30 minutes.

Use an immersion blender to puree as much as desired (I wanted lots of chunks versus a puree so just did a few whizzes). (If I were going to freeze the soup, I'd stop here.) Add the milk, milk powder and tomato paste and return to a boil.

NUTRITION ESTIMATE
Per Serving: 158 Cal (4% from Fat, 20% from Protein, 77% from Carb); 8 g Protein; 1 g Tot Fat; 0 g Sat Fat; 32 g Carb; 4 g Fiber; NetCarb28; 113 mg Calcium; 1 mg Iron; 375 mg Sodium; 3 mg Cholesterol; Weight Watchers 2.5 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 2006 Kitchen Parade

Day 315: Mom's Favorite Leftover Magic ♥

Like most moms, mine had a thousand magic ways with leftover-whatever. This was one of her favorite techniques and it sure worked tonight on this overcooked roast beef.

The vegetables -- and rice too although not tonight since there was none leftover -- make for a frugal, healthful way to extend a half pound of meat with generous servings, also to create a one-plate meal, meat and vegetables all in one.

The mayonnaise sauce -- my family calls it Lynda's Dressing because it originated with my cousin Lynda -- is extremely reliable. My Mom kept a jar in the frig for spur-of-the-moment tuna salad, chicken salad, anything-salad. The dressing has lots of flavor so it's easy to use just enough to barely bind the ingredients.

RECIPE for MOM's FAVORITE LEFTOVER MAGIC

Hands-on time: 5 minutes to mix the dressing, 20 minutes to mix the salad
Time to table: 25 minutes
Serves 4 generously

LYNDA'S DRESSING
Enough to keep on hand in the frig (just enough for tonight)
1 1/2 cups Miracle Whip (1/4 cup Miracle Whip Light) or mayonnaise
1/3 cup sugar (1/2 tablespoon sugar)
1/2 a small onion, grated (1 tablespoon grated onion)
1 tablespoon vinegar (1/2 tablespoon vinegar)
1 teaspoon dry mustard (1/2 teaspoon dry mustard)
1 teaspoon horseradish (1/2 teaspoon horseradish) -- this is a critical ingredient, don't skip it
1/2 teaspoon celery seed (1/8 teaspoon celery seed)

Mix til smooth.

BEEF/OTHER MEAT SALAD with VEGETABLES
1 cup green peas, cooked in microwave
1 red pepper, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1/2 pound roast beef, diced small
1 cup cooked rice (I didn't use this but it's very good especially with the soy sauce)

1 tablespoon soy sauce (very important, don't skip it)

Combine all the ingredients with the smaller portion of Lynda's Dressing. Serve on fresh greens and enjoy!



A Veggie Venture - Printer Friendly Recipe Graphic



MORE FAVORITE RECIPES TO USE UP LEFTOVERS
~ Vegetable Pulao ~
~ Clean Out the Fridge Purée ~
~ Saturday Soup ~
from Kitchen Parade, my food column
~ more recipes for using up leftovers ~




© Copyright Kitchen Parade 2006


Day 314: White on White Purée ♥

Today's vegetable recipe: Cauliflower and turnips cooked and mashed to create low-carb and low-calorie "mashed potatoes". Weight Watchers 1 point.

~ recipe updated 2008 ~

When I first made this cauliflower and turnip purée in 2006, I called it 'another mushy-textured, bland-looking but heavenly-tasting purée'.

Since then, it's become a real favorite, especially when I want to serve a low-carb or diabetic replacement for mashed potatoes. The reaction at my table? "I wouldn't know these aren't mashed potatoes unless you told me." That's especially true when they're served with meat and gravy, say, versus just mashed potatoes. These are a real winner, all year-round, for all foodies.



WHITE on WHITE PURÉE

Hands-on time: 20 minutes
Time to table: 35 minutes
Makes 4 cups

Salted water to cover
1 head cauliflower, trimmed, cored, cut into florets
1/2 pound turnips (2 medium), peeled and chopped
1 slice lemon (optional)
1 bay leaf (optional)

1/4 cup fat-free half 'n' half
1 tablespoon fresh herbs (sage is excellent)
Dash of Tabasco
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon butter

Bring the water to boil. Add the cauliflower and turnips as they're prepped, then the lemon and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to MEDIUM and cook until soft but not mushy. Drain and transfer to a food processor (see TIPS) and puree. Add half 'n' half, herbs, Tabasco, seasoning and butter. If the puré is slightly watery, return to the dry cooking pan and cook for a few minutes to cook off the excess liquid. Serve and enjoy!


KITCHEN NOTES
Do use a food processor. It's too big a job for an immersion blender. A hand mixer doe work but bits of cauliflower fly all over.
I'm learning the do's and don't's of fat-free half'n'half. It's a miracle product for vegetables so long as it's needed for richness not binding. This means it works great added to purées but doesn't work in scalloped potatoes.





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© Copyright Kitchen Parade 2006


Vegan Chickpea Gumbo ♥
Guest Post by the Fatfree Vegan

Fatfree Vegan's Chickpea Gumbo
Could I pick 'em or what? Way back in 2006, I invited SusanV from Fatfree Vegan Kitchen to write a guest post for A Veggie Venture. Her blog was not even a month old! Now of course, Fatfree Vegan Kitchen is the source of inspiration for a wide and passionate community of vegan eaters. But until now, 2013, a full seven years later, I'd never made Susan's Chickpea Gumbo myself. Whoa – was I ever missing out, WHAT a gumbo. I made it once and was very sorry to not be able to make another batch right away! This is one of the best things I've made in a long time!! And naturally, it's not just vegan, it's "Vegan Done Real". It would be a great choice for a Mardi Gras party! (Looking for ideas for Mardi Gras? Check out Mardi Gras recipes!)

~recipe & photo updated & reposted 2013~
~more recently updated recipes~

Please welcome SusanV from Fatfree Vegan Kitchen:

Look through any Cajun cookbook, and you’ll notice that meat or seafood is in everything, even in most of the vegetable dishes. In fact, many vegetable recipes are so heavily “seasoned” with meat that the vegetables get lost in the mix. So to my family and friends back in Louisiana, I’m something of an eccentric: a vegan, someone who eats no animal products at all. “How could you give up gumbo?” they ask. “Or jambalaya or red beans and rice?” The answer is — I didn’t!

The first thing I did after becoming vegetarian was to start adapting the recipes I grew up with to eliminate the meat and seafood. At first I used a lot of “fake meats” to try to replicate the taste and “mouth feel” of the original recipes. As time went on, I wanted to lighten up my cooking even more, to use more natural, whole foods and to reduce the fat. I’ve stayed true to the seasonings of my native cuisine, but I’ve tried to add an element of freshness.

This Chickpea Gumbo, for instance, started off life as a Chicken Gumbo — a chicken gumbo that also originally included bacon grease and smoked sausage. I’ve eliminated all of the meat — as well as the cholesterol — but kept the wonderful seasonings: the “trinity” of onions, green pepper, and celery and the spiciness of the black pepper and cayenne. And I’ve added a little Liquid Smoke to impart a smoky, ham-like flavor.

A word about the okra: Some people never get past the slicing stage of okra preparation. They see the slime oozing out, and they toss the whole batch into the garbage. But I’m here to tell you that once it is cooked, okra is not slimy at all. If anything, it helps to thicken the gumbo. So don’t be afraid. But if you can’t get over the sliminess, feel free to use frozen, sliced okra. You don’t even have to thaw it before adding it to the gumbo, so you never see the sliminess.

And a word about spiciness: This is not an extremely spicy gumbo, and for most people it will be spicy enough just as it’s written. In fact, if you know you don’t like spicy foods, you should cook the recipe without the red and black pepper or the Tabasco and add those ingredients at the end, to taste. But, if you’ve got a real “hot tooth,” feel free to add all the extra spiciness you want.

Day 313: Carrot & Fruit Oatmeal Slump ◄

What an easy, delicious breakfast!

It's a carrot and fruit non-dairy (and thus vegan) version of the fruit and nut with yogurt Swiss Muesli featured in a December Kitchen Parade column and which 15-year old Matthew took to calling 'slump' as he made it for our breakfast several times over Christmas.

Slump. It's a good name, yes?

I wondered if the carrot would seem, well, off, a gratuitous addition only to include a vegetable. But it was good, really good; the carrot matched beautifully with the pineapple.

NUTRITION NOTES ... I can't imagine living without oatmeal or fruit but Carb Counters, sorry, Slump is off limits for you. Weight Watchers, be sure to watch portion size, it'd be easy to consume more points than you want.

NEXT TIME ... I'll fool around with fresh fruit, perhaps a few nuts. This is a great way to use up odds and ends in the pantry.

FROM THE ARCHIVES ... See the Recipe Box for other breakfast ideas.

CARROT & FRUIT OATMEAL SLUMP
Bookmark or print this recipe only
Hands-on time: 5 minutes
Time to table: 30 minutes (or overnight, like with Swiss Muesli)
Serves 1, easily multiplied


Per person

1/4 cup oatmeal (old-fashioned or quick but not instant)
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 carrot, grated
2 tablespoons crushed pineapple with juice (about 1/4 an 8-ounce tin, be sure to get the pineapple in its own juice)
Few raisins or currants
Pinch cinnamon
Pinch nutmeg

Mix all the ingredients and let rest for juices to moisten the oatmeal. Serve and enjoy!

NUTRITION ESTIMATE
Per Serving: 189 Cal (9% from Fat, 9% from Protein, 82% from Carb); 4 g Protein; 2 g Tot Fat; 0 g Sat Fat; 41 g Carb; 4 g Fiber; NetCarb37; 39 mg Calcium; 1 mg Iron; 24 mg Sodium; 0 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.

CREDIT WHERE CREDIT'S DUE
Mr Breakfast, a great spot for breakfast ideas, includes a large and well-organized recipe box


(c) Copyright 2006 Kitchen Parade

Kitchen Parade Extra: Trio of Vegetables with Sour Cream ◄

Only the Veggie Evangelist would dare put vegetables up against Chunky Monkey and Belgian chocolate.

But she does -- read about it in this week's Kitchen Parade column!










(c) Copyright 2006 Kitchen Parade

Day 311: Curried Carrots ◄

All the vegetable cylinders are striking here: fast cooking; low fat and low carb (read on ..) and yes, healthful; inexpensive, easily on-hand ingredients.

And oh yes: full of flavor.

NEXT TIME ... I might add a splash of vinegar or lemon juice to the butter/garlic/ginger/broth combination.

NUTRITION NOTES ... Carb watchers probably aren't reading, since they're ingrained to avoid carrots as a high source of carbohydrates. Too bad, because when you run the nutrition analysis (see below), the net carbs are only 8, putting a serving smack in low-carb land.

FROM THE ARCHIVES ... Visit the Recipe Box for other ideas for simple side-dish vegetables.

CURRIED CARROTS
Bookmark or print this recipe only
Hands-on time: 10 minutes
Time to table: 25 minutes
Serves 4


1 teaspoon butter (or none at all)
1 tablespoon minced garlic (from a jar)
1 tablespoon minced ginger (from a jar)
3/4 teaspoon curry powder
Splash of vinegar or lemon juice (try adding this next time, maybe a tablespoon)
1/4 cup non-fat chicken broth

1 pound carrots, peeled, slice in half-inch diagonals
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

Melt the butter on MEDIUM HIGH in a skillet large enough to hold the carrots in a single layer. Add the garlic, ginger and curry and cook for about 30 seconds. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Add the carrots and turn over to coat with the mixture. Reduce the heat to MEDIUM (verging on MEDIUM LOW since so little fat), cover and let simmer until cooked, 10 - 15 minutes (13 was perfect tonight) and the liquid cooked away. Season to taste. Stir in the cilantro. Serve and enjoy!

NUTRITION ESTIMATE
Per Serving: 62 Cal (18% from Fat, 9% from Protein, 74% from Carb); 1 g Protein; 1 g Tot Fat; 1 g Sat Fat; 12 g Carb; 4 g Fiber; NetCarb 8; 45 mg Calcium; 1 mg Iron; 116 mg Sodium; 3 mg Cholesterol; Weight Watchers 1 point

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 2006 Kitchen Parade

Day 310: A Cheese Sandwich, Considered

It's always good to take stock. (Of course, since this is a food blog, I contend that it's always good to make stock. But that's another post.)

This week, there's a whole lot of stock-taking in the food blog community, all symbolized by cheese sandwiches. (Note the word 'community'. More on that in a minute.)

You see, a long-time, respectable (and indeed, respected) food writer jabbed at food blogs in the March issue of Food & Wine. (My issue hasn't yet arrived. What's with that, F&W?) Along the way, he gave much wise counsel. In the end, he compared most food blogs to lowly cheese sandwiches.
It was the jabs that riled, the jabs that seemed unnecessary, the jabs that seemed mean-spirited, the jabs that seemed, well ... uninformed, like a writer on deadline with little time for research and little inclination for perspective beyond a familiar mirror.

I'm giving the writer the benefit of the doubt. We all have bad days. We all write on deadline. We all get it wrong sometimes.

And because its outcome, the taking stock, is good. Food bloggers are asking themselves (and each other), Why DO I do this? Why is it important to me? And what if it's not important to anyone else? or mocked by professionals?

There are good thoughts at Something in Season (thanks, Brendon, a sandwich dedication is a first!) and Food Musings and Belly-Timber (these last two have sparked lively discussion) and One Hot Stove and I'm Mad and I Eat and Stephencooks and Nika's Culinaria and Breakfast with Pandora and a belly-buster at Kalyn's Kitchen (make that two that made me laugh out loud!) and even a couple of cheese sandwich-loving t-shirts at Kitchen Mage!
[Kalyn's keeping the most inclusive list, it's here.]

These are mine.

  • Our moms and grandmoms shared favorite recipes with their friends across kitchen tables. Food bloggers do too, it's just that the table is the Internet and the chairs sit in homes all over North America and Europe and Asia and Australia and New Zealand and even some sprouting out from South America. And lo - there are men at the table!

  • Food bloggers are family, of sorts. Several times a week, we 'break bread' together with our posts and comments. We celebrate our successes and comfort our hurts. We learn from and challenge each other. We even have a school where everyone's both student and teacher. Is it friendship? Yes, I think so. Is it community without geography? Absolutely.

  • The world becomes a smaller, more peaceful and neighborly place, when we unite with simple appreciation for the food and, lest we forget, its cooks. Just in the past two weeks, thanks to food blogging, I learned that the Chinese New Year is celebrated by people outside of China and what a Muslim family might serve for sweet at the start of its new year.
When he visits, my soon-to-turn-80, ever-wise and ever-thoughtful father says grace at the start of our meals. Whether there are two or three or six at the table, it's a quiet moment of praise, of thanksgiving, of taking stock. He often closes, "Lord, bless this food and the hands that prepared it. Amen."

Amen.

SUN-DRIED TOMATO & DILL BISCUITS
Bookmark or print this recipe only
Hands-on time: 20 minutes
Time to table: 50 minutes
Makes 7 biscuits

The biscuits were decent but didn't have the sharp tomato flavor I'd hoped for. The cheese was excellent, if salty, a Middle Eastern cheese called nabulsi which reminded me of the 'squeaky cheese' I loved when living in Finland.

As cheese sandwiches go, this one was certainly dull. I had it for lunch. Whew, two cliches at once: what kind of moron does that?

For more promising -- magnificent-looking, in fact -- cheese sandwiches ideas, there's two from Lucullian Delights and others from Tummy Treasure and Anne's Food (more as they come online).
8 sun-dried tomatoes (not oil-packed)
1/2 cup buttermilk

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon table salt (whose small grains will distribute better than sea or kosher salt)

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, in tiny cubes
3 tablespoons herb such as dill, sage, tarragon or basil

Chop the tomatoes and buttermilk in a small food processor (I love the attachment that came with the immersion blender, it's perfect for small jobs) and let rest for 20 minutes or so.

Preheat the oven to 400F.

Stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. With your fingers (or two knives), work in the butter and herbs. (Work quickly, you want the butter to stay cold. This is the reason why knives are better than warm fingers but I can't seem to get the knack.) Gently but barely work in the tomato mixture. Transfer to a floured surface and gently knead for two or three minutes til the dough takes hold. Create a flat piece of dough (I wish I'd made it thicker , yielding only 3 or 4 biscuits) and cut with a biscuit cutter. (I'll keep my grandmother's tin-can biscuit cutter forever but have learned that its relatively dull edges don't cut through the dough and will discourage tall, fluffy biscuits.) Transfer to a greased baking sheet and bake for 10 - 12 minutes.

NUTRITION ESTIMATE
For 4 biscuits - Per Biscuit: 235 Cal (47% from Fat, 8% from Protein, 45% from Carb); 5 g Protein; 12 g Tot Fat; 7 g Sat Fat; 27 g Carb; 5 g Fiber; NetCarb22; 146 mg Calcium; 1 mg Iron; 753 mg Sodium; 32 mg Cholesterol; Weight Watchers 5 points

For 8 biscuits - Per Biscuit: 118 Cal (47% from Fat, 8% from Protein, 45% from Carb); 2 g Protein; 6 g Tot Fat; 4 g Sat Fat; 14 g Carb; 2 g Fiber; NetCarbs 12; 73 mg Calcium; 0 mg Iron; 376 mg Sodium; 16 mg Cholesterol; Weight Watchers 2.5 points

CREDIT WHERE CREDIT'S DUE
Adapted from a lovely little illustrated cookbook called Sun-Dried Tomatoes by Ethel and Georgeanne Brennan, a gift from my friend Christa


(c) Copyright 2006 Kitchen Parade

Day 309: Hearty Heart-Loving Muffins ♥
(Whole-Grain, Low-Fat, Low-Sugar Muffins
with Flax, Bran, Carrot, Apple, Raisin & Surprise Ingredient)

Hearty Heart Loving Muffins, moist, fruity muffins, all you want in a morning muffin. Whole-grain, low-sugar, no added fat plus carrots, apple and raisins and a surprise ingredient. For Weight Watchers, PointsPlus 4
graphic button small size size 10 A regular-size muffin for 120 calories? It's a miracle! This is a healthy whole-grain, no-added-fat version of the classic Morning Glory Muffin. You'll find all the traditional Morning Glory "goodies" of carrots, apple and raisins but here cloaked in a muffin batter of whole wheat flour plus good measures of flaxmeal and oat bran, just a quarter cup of sugar and a surprise ingredient. (Baby food, anyone? Yes!) What these muffins don't call for are butter or oil! The muffins are "just sweet enough" and have the texture of a regular muffin. They're moist and flavorful, just what you want in a morning muffin.

Low Fat. Low Cal. Whole Grain. Easily made vegan with easy vegan substitutes too. graphic button small size size 10

~recipe & photo updated 2015~
~more recently updated recipes~

2006: Certain recipes sweep through the food blog world. And these muffins merit attention – all homes should smell so good with muffins in the oven! It started with a recipe from a package of Bob's Red Mill flaxmeal. I found it at Beyond Salmon who got 12 muffins. Then it moved on to Not as Good as Pork Cracklins who got 15 muffins.

And now me – and I got twelve muffins from half a recipe. I did want a small(er) batch but these are so good, I'm glad to have more for the freezer. And the recipe can easily be cut in half again for just six regular-size muffins. If you don't already stock whole grains, this will take a shopping trip, perhaps to a health food store. Lucky me, I had all the ingredients on hand – and was glad of good reason to use them – so these muffins were an easy choice. They will definitely be made again.

I sense this is an extraordinarily flexible recipe, for I adjusted the proportions considerably:
graphic button small size size 10 For still less sweetness, but still plenty sweet, I cut the sugar in half
graphic button small size size 10 For nutrition, I doubled the carrot and added a jar of all-vegetable baby food
graphic button small size size 10 For flavor, I doubled the vanilla and cinnamon
graphic button small size size 10 For moisture, I doubled the liquid and egg and added that jar of baby food

2015: I've meant to remake these muffins forever and ever. They are just as good as I remember. I just now realized how these muffins are so much like Morning Glory Muffins – I love those too! But Hearty Heart-Loving Muffins have half the calories! Definitely worth making, I'm adding them to my list of "signature recipes"!

COMPLIMENTS!
"Very nice muffin ..." ~ Anonymous

Day 308: Vegetable Coconut Curry with Shrimp ◄

As 'ethnic food' (word-dancing foodies: this seems like such out-of-date language but what other word is there?) becomes increasingly accepted, with popularity comes convenience and short-cuts.

Lucky-lucky me, within walking distance is an independent grocery called Global Foods, a veritable United Nations of food. The aisles are lined with foods from every part of the world -- well, except Italy, which St Louisans find on The Hill,
an old Italian neighborhood with old-style Italian markets, butchers and bakeries -- and familiar tastes of home for immigrants, unfamiliar pecularities for many and a playground for adventurous cooks like me.

Tonight I tried a curry starter for vegetables from Asian Home Gourmet, just to see. It was good -- very good! It's a wet paste, not just dried spices. It's labelled "hot hot" -- and indeed it was: even with considerably more vegetables and coconut mik, the heat was more than I'd prefer although would be fine if moderated by good rice.

NUTRITION NOTES ... The shrimp is optional of course so this could be a vegetarian supper or a vegetable side dish, either one. ... This is a terrific low-carb, low-calorie, low-fat and low-point Weight Watchers supper. It has lots of flavor, lots of fiber so is satisfying taste-wise and portion-wise.

NEXT TIME ... I'll choose a spice packet labeled 'hot' not 'hot hot'.

FOR THE RECORD ... This is A Veggie Venture's contribution to the Antioxidant-Rich Tuesdays over at Sweenicks.

FROM THE ARCHIVES ... See the Recipe Box for other vegetable-loving supper ideas.

VEGETABLE COCONUT CURRY with SHRIMP
Bookmark or print this recipe only
Hands-on time: 20minutes
Time to table: 35 minutes
Serves 6, with a cup of sauce/vegetables and 3 shrimp

1 tablespoon peanut oil (or other oil)
1 Asian Home Gourmet spice paste, Indonesian Vegetable Curry (sayur lodeh)

1 onion, diced
1 red pepper, diced
1/2 a small cabbage, diced
4 ounces baby portobello mushrooms, sliced
15-ounce can light coconut milk

8 ounces sugar snap peas, trimmed
8 ounces fresh shrimp

Chopped cilantro

Heat the oil in a large, deep skillet over MEDIUM HIGH. Add the spice paste and cook for a minute. Add the onion, pepper, cabbage and mushrooms as they're prepped, stirring well with each addition and occasionally. Add the coconut milk. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to MEDIUM, cover and let simmer for about 10 minutes. Add the peas and shrimp and let cook through for about 5 minutes. Stir in the cilantro, serve and enjoy!

NUTRITION ESTIMATE
Per Cup with 3 Shrimp: 166 Cal (48% from Fat, 22% from Protein, 30% from Carb); 10 g Protein; 9 g Tot Fat; 5 g Sat Fat; 13 g Carb; 4 g Fiber; NetCarb9; 56 mg Calcium; 2 mg Iron; 315 mg Sodium; 57 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 2006 Kitchen Parade

Day 307: Secret-Ingredient Wine & Fruit Salad ◄

Blame too many late nights thumbing through 1960s-era church cookbooks where every 'salad' recipe leads off with jello, gets fancy with tinned pineapple and closes with Cool Whip: when I learned the weekend's Paper Chef ingredients, a gelatin salad congealed (sorry!) in my head and wouldn't be jiggled out.

The concept was a grown-up side salad, a wine gelatin enriched with a beet puree, packed with soft fruit, lightly dressed in a lime and ginger sour-cream sauce.

I second-guessed the idea from first thought to first bite.
  • All those cans! Heavens, what aspiring Paper Chef winner would use canned beets, canned peaches and canned pears (even if canned pears were requisite since barely ripe fresh pears were out of the question)? Only the grapes would be fresh, even if alarmingly expensive. (Oh dear, StephenCooks, I'm sorry! I do disappoint!)
  • And the gelatin in the pantry was years old. "Does gelatin expire?" I wondered when it took two hours to begin to set. And then later, "Was three packets too much?" This jello had little jiggle.
  • And two cans of pureed beets also seemed too much, but too late. And anyway, "Maybe I should have diced the beets?"
  • And "What about more sugar?" The liquid tasted powdery and wine-sour.
  • And then it made such a bunch, 10 whole cups and thus two more salads the size of the one photographed. (And who do you know who has three, even one, gelatin molds? My one mold was my mother's and has lived in the basement, collecting cobwebs and roly-polyies, for years.)
And soooo once the first bite was taken ... let's jiggle altogether, now please ... how did the wine and fruit salad turn out? First and most important, it was no salad: it was a dessert, a luscious, barely sweet but completely fruity and refreshing dessert. All the wine made for a small buzz, so there was no noticing the beets. (And a puree was absolutely the right call.) The fruit was soft and flavorful and cold. And the sour cream sauce? To die for.

Never EVER in my life have I been tempted to eat a whole bowl of jello in a sitting. This was THAT good.

ABOUT PAPER CHEF ... Paper Chef is like FoodTV's IronChef competition except that all the cooking is done in kitchens across the world and all the observation and judging is done online. This month it's hosted by last month's champion, Slurp & Burp of Ottawa.

[Want to see what it takes to win? Here's his amazing all-day-long entry and all the contenders. Me? Even the NICE Mrs D didn't see fit to award my oh baby! quinoa pilaf with so much as an honorable mention. If I didn't know better, I'd feel chastised! Shouldn't Paper Chef be like kindergarten where everyone gets a participation ribbon??? ;-)]

But seriously. The four ingredients we're cooking with this month are beets, pears, lime and something aphrodisiac, for me that was the sour cream sauce. Since about noon on Friday, when the four ingredients were revealed, food bloggers all over the world have been scrambling to decide what to make, how to win the judge's favor, how to style the food for a glorious photograph, what words to stun Paper Chef followers into a weakened state of awe.

And it's all for such fun! Just click here over the next couple of days to keep up with who's contributing what -- then back over to Slurp & Burp in a few days for a round-up. You'll be amazed at the creativity, the adventurous spirit that will, well, make you wonder how anyone in his right mind -- with any sort of informed mind -- might call food blogs the culinary equivalent of a what-I-had-for-lunch-today cheese sandwich.


SPECIAL PRIZES ... Alas, I suspect that while this cook might aspire to be a CULINARY PICASSO, at best I am a HOME COOK and at worst a cheapskate, I mean, a thrifty SUPER SAVER. (Remember all those cans, guys? those beets were $.59 each, the fruit was on sale for $1.15 and the wine ... well the wine came from Trader Joe's so it's definitely in the under-ten buck department.) As for a reincarnation of INDIANA JONES, while it might not be apparent to most from my lowly bowl of jello, even if a wine-drunk and lusty bowl of jello, Paper Chef is the one time I allow myself to truly play with food. And I LOVE it!)

NUTRITION NOTES ... Diet food this is not, thanks to the wine. And it's not appropriate for children or adults for whom alcohol is off limits.

NEXT TIME ... Will there be a next time? Are you kidding? There are two bowls left in the frig! All I need is some more of that love sauce!

FROM THE ARCHIVES ... For prior Paper Chef and other online food event entries, see here in the Recipe Box.

WINE, BEET & FRUIT SALAD so-good-that-it's DESSERT
Bookmark or print this recipe only
Hands-on time: 30 minutes
Time to table: 24 hours
Makes 10 cups


3 envelopes unflavored gelatin (sorry, didn't note how much is in an envelope)
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup water

Stir gelatin and sugar in a small saucepan, add 1 cup of water, then gently warm over low heat until gelatin dissolves. Transfer to a large bowl.

1 cup water
2 tablespoons lime juice (from 2 limes)
1 bottle fruity wine such as a dry rose or for here, an Italian zinfandel

Add another 1 cup water, lime juice and wine. Chill until just beginning to set, this took a couple of hours but after an hour I checked every 15 minutes. It should be thick enough that it's not lumpy but not so thin the fruit will fall to the bottom.

2 15-ounce cans of beets, drained

While the gelatin chills, puree the beets in a food processor until smooth. Drain the puree in a colander.

15-ounce can pear chunks
15-ounce can peach chunks
Enough green grapes, halved, to fill an empty can
(Mandarin oranges would be good too)

While the gelatin chills, drain the fruit in a colander.

Very lightly grease a gelatin mold with vegetable oil. Gently stir the beet puree and drained fruit into the still-firming gelatin. (To get fancy, you might try to arrange the fruit on the bottom.) Pour into the mold and refrigerate until firm.

To unmold, fill the sink with a couple of inches of warm water. Place the mold in the water for about 10 seconds, put the serving plate on top of the mold and quickly but gently invert. If the gelatin doesn't unmold immediately, return it to the warm water for 5 seconds, repeat as necessary. (Because of the puree, this took only one time in the warm water to easily unmold.) Place the serving plate in the frig. Serve with sauce on the side.

APHRODISIAC SOUR CREAM SAUCE
2 tablespoons sour cream
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 tablespoon honey
Pinch of ginger

NUTRITION ESTIMATE
After all that wine, you think I can figure this out? you think I care?

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 2006 Kitchen Parade

Day 306: Fennel Puree ♥

Yes, another puree. I am so loooooving the taste of mashed potatoes and the virtue of potatoes mashed with something lower in calories and carbs.

This one is fennel and celery cooked and mashed with potato, then gussied up with a spash of an anise liqueur (Sambuca or Pernod) and cream (or tonight, fat-free half 'n' half).

It was just delicious.

NUTRITION NOTES Weight Watchers: With no added butter, this clocks in at just 1 point. Carb Counters: With 14 grams of net carbs, it is lower carb but not, I'm afraid, low carb.

NEXT TIME I'll use a tad less liquid for a thicker consistency. This could have been fixed by a return trip to the stove but the meat was ready, it was time to eat! I'll also again leave out the butter; it just wasn't needed for flavor or even texture.



VEGETABLE RECIPES from the ARCHIVES

~ more fennel recipes ~
~ still more fennel recipes, ones cooked by my fellow food bloggers in February 2006 for a special fennel-only event ~


FENNEL PUREE
Hands-on time: 15 minutes
Time to table: 35 minutes
Serves 4


Water to cover
1/2 pound fresh fennel bulb, trimmed and diced (it took a 3/4 pound bulb to get 1/2 pound)
1/2 pound Yukon gold potatoes, diced
2 ribs celery, diced

2 tablespoons chicken stock (or less)

1 tablespoon anise liqueur
2 tablespoons fat-free half'n'half (or cream if you like)
1 tablespoon butter (I didn't find this at all necessary)
Salt and pepper to taste

Start the water to a boil. Add the vegetables as they're prepped -- there's no need to wait til the water boils -- and bring to a boil. Cook til vegetables are cooked. Drain and transfer to a food processor (the celery and fennel were both too much for a hand mixer). Add the chicken stock and puree until smooth. Add the remaining ingredients. Serve and enjoy!

NUTRITION ESTIMATE
Per Serving: 84 Cal (4% from Fat, 12% from Protein, 84% from Carb); 2 g Protein; 0 g Tot Fat; 0 g Sat Fat; 17 g Carb; 3 g Fiber; NetCarb14; 59 mg Calcium; 1 mg Iron; 98 mg Sodium; 0 mg Cholesterol; Weight Watchers 1


CREDIT WHERE CREDIT'S DUE
Adapted from Greene on Greens by Tom Greene


(c) Copyright 2006 Kitchen Parade

Day 305: Hunger Moon Parsnip Soup ♥

When publisher Chelsea Green asked to send a complimentary advance copy of Full Moon Feast, the coming-soon cookbook by Jessica Prentice, I accepted with the understanding that I might not write, cook from or even read it.

I've long been a seasonal cook: no tomatoes in February, no parsnips in August, no asparagus in November. But the book's lyrical story-telling describes a whole 'nother way of eating, of considering, of trusting food.

The book follows the thirteen lunar cycles. As luck would have it, Chapter 1 starts in February -- NOW -- with the hunger moon, the time when fall's harvest is falling thin, when only dusty root vegetables remain.
"In the deep of winter, when the Earth in the North has been covered with snow and ice for many moons already, comes the Hunger Moon. This late-winter lunar cycle was called the Hunger Moon by many peoples in various languages, but always for the same reason -- the frozen land yielded little to eat, and game was scarce." -- Jessica Prentice
I am especially taken by the side-bar lists, each with thirteen items, just as there are thirteen moons. There's Buried Treasure, vegetables from the old-fashioned root cellar, and Sweet Somethings, traditional and unrefined sources of sweetness. Be a Locavore, plants that can be grown anywhere in the continental U.S. so can be eaten locally and in season with no importation, has me giving serious consideration to planting lettuce for the first time ever.

And that's just the first chapter.

Still to come are the Sap Moon, the Egg Moon, the Milk Moon, and more. But I shall wait to read them in their own time, in moon time, that is.

NEXT TIME This is a simple soup, just simple goodness, unadorned and without complexity. It is simply, utterly, delicious. Jessica's version adds milk or cream so is a cream of parsnip soup.

HUNGER MOON PARSNIP SOUP

Adapted from Full Moon Feast by Jessica Prentice
Hands-on time: 15 minutes
Time to table: 45 minutes
Makes 4 cups

4 cups vegetable or chicken stock, heated to a boil in the microwave

1 tablespoon unsalted butter (reduced from 2 tablespoons)
3 medium leeks, light-green and white parts only, cut in half rings
1 pound parsnips, peeled and chopped
1 bay leaf (or as the inspiring recipe suggests, a bouquet garni of bay leaf, thyme, oregano)

1 cup whole milk or half 'n' half (the inspiring recipe suggests this, I didn't use it)
Salt and pepper to taste (I found none was needed)

In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, melt the butter on MEDIUM. Add the leeks and cook until just beginning to turn golden. Add the parsnips and stir to coat with fat. Let cook for about 5 minutes. Add the bay leaf and hot stock. Bring to a boil and let simmer until parsnips are fully cooked. Transfer to a blender (in batches if needed, fill the blender no more than half full and even so, hold on tight to the lid while processing, so the pressure of the heat doesn't blow the hot liquid all over) and process til smooth. Return to the pot. If using, stir in the milk. Season to taste and serve.






VEGETABLE RECIPES from the ARCHIVES
~ more parsnip recipes ~
~ more soup recipes ~




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