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Here are the tastingspoons players. I’m in the middle (Carolyn). Daughter Sara on the right, and daughter-in-law Karen on the left. I started the blog in 2007, as a way to share recipes with my family. Now in 2021, I’ll still participate, but the two daughters are going to do more posting from here on out.

We participate in an amazon program that rewards a little tiny $ something (pennies, really) if you purchase any books recommended (below), or buy products occasionally mentioned on the blog with an amazon link. 

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BOOK READING:

Could hardly put down Krueger’s book, This Tender Land: A Novel. My friend Ann recommended it. I was gripped with the story within the first paragraph, and it never stopped until I turned the last page. Tells the harrowing story of a young boy, Odie, (and his brother Albert) who became orphans back in the 30s (I think). At first there is a boarding school, part of an Indian (Native American) agreement, though they are not Indian. Some very ugly things happen at that school. Eventually they  escape, and they are “on the run.” With a few others with them. If you loved Huckleberry Finn, you’ll have a great appreciation for this story as they use a canoe to get themselves down river. Never having very much to eat and getting into trouble way too often, and authorities on their tail. Well, you just have to read the book to find out what happens.

Just finished Kristin Hannah’s latest book, The Four Winds: A Novel. What a story. One I’ve never read about, although I certainly have heard about the “dust bowl” years when there was a steady migration of down-and-out farmers from the Midwest, to California, for what they hoped to be the American Dream. It tells the story of one particular family, the Martinellis, the grandparents, their son, his wife, and their two children. The book is heartbreaking, but one of those that everyone should read. The hardship, the hunger, the dirt and dust, the failed crops, the lack of rain, then the story picks up again in central California, back in the day when the wealthy growers just used up the migrants. I don’t want to spoil the story. So worth reading. Hannah really knows how to weave a story.

Brit Bennett has written quite a book, The Vanishing Half: A Novel. It’s a novel, yet I’m sure there are such real-life situations. Twin girls are born to a young woman in the South. Into a town (that probably doesn’t exist) that prides itself on being light-skinned blacks. The father was very dark, but he plays no part, really, in this story. Growing up, the girls leave home at 18 to find their way in New Orleans. Suddenly, one twin disappears (her clothes and suitcase all gone in the wink of an eye). Her twin left behind has no idea what’s happened to her. As the story reveals, with divided paths, one twin continues her life as a black woman, and the other twin, the one who left, is able to pass as a white woman. She marries well, has a daughter. Well, let’s just say that there are lots of wicked webs woven throughout the story, starting from the girls’ mother who never wants to speak again of her lost daughter. But you know where this is going, don’t you? Things are found out. The author does a great job of weaving the story apart and then back together.

What a book. The Only Woman in the Room: A Novel by Marie Benedict. A novelized biography of Hedy Lamarr, the famous actress. She was a brilliant mind, and a beautiful woman. It tells the story of her coming of age, how she navigated the world of acting back in that time period (she was Austrian, and Hitler was in power). The writing was very well done – to tell Hedy’s story with detail and poignancy. Eventually Hedy made it to the U.S. and her life story changed, but still had its difficulties. I loved the book, beginning to end. She should have become an engineer as she invented several war related bomb tools. Very much worth reading.

Also read The Secret of the Chateau: Gripping and heartbreaking historical fiction with a mystery at its heart by Kathleen McGurl. There are two stories here. The historical part is just prior to and up to the French Revolution, when aristocrats were chased and killed, guillotined in many cases. There is a young couple (part of the royal court) who escape to a remote small castle owned by his family, located on the edge of France and Italy, hoping to wait out the revolution and hoping the villagers love and care about them. Then jump to current day as a small English group of close friends decide to retire somewhere on the continent, and settle on a small abandoned castle in the remote hills of France along the Italian border. Got the picture? The historian in the group is quite interested in the history of the home, and clues are revealed (in the tower) that lead her and the group on a quest to discover what happened to the couple who used to live there. There was a fire once upon a time. There’s an pesky ghost. There’s also a very old child’s doll/playhouse on the grounds. Plus there’s a small graveyard. It is VERY intriguing. Very interesting. I love historical novels like this, and this one in particular does have quite a mystery involved, too.

Also finished reading Sue Monk Kidd’s recent book, The Book of Longings: A Novel. It is a book that might challenge some Christian readers, as it tells the tale of Jesus marrying a woman named Mary. The story is all about Mary, her growing up, her scholarly pursuits, and then from the moment she meets Jesus as a young man. The story follows along to and beyond his death on the cross. In the time of Christ it was extremely uncommon for a man not to marry. It was almost unseemly. Fraught with suspicions, I’d suppose. Although scripture, as scripture, does not play a very strong part here, if you’ve read the Bible you’ll see many of the stories of Jesus’ life through Mary’s eyes. I loved the book from the first word to the last one. The book is believable to me, even though the Bible never says one way or the other that Jesus ever married. It’s been presumed he never did. But maybe he did?

Jeanine Cummins has written an eye-opener, American Dirt. A must read. Oh my goodness. I will never, ever, ever look at Mexican (and further southern) migrants, particularly those who are victims of the vicious cartels, without sympathy. It tells the story of a woman and her young son, who were lucky enough to hide when the cartel murdered every member of her family – her husband, her mother, and many others. Her husband was a journalist, and his life was always in danger because he wrote the truth, and that was taking a risk. The story is about her escape, with harrowing chapters as she makes her way north from Acapulco, with various major detours, one step, or sometimes nothing more than a hair’s width ahead of the cartel minions trying to find her. I could NOT put this book down. The author is not Hispanic, and some have criticized her for that, but she did her research, and many authors write about places and people they are not. I have nothing but respect for her having told this story. You need to read this.

Also read JoJo Moyes’ book, The Giver of Stars. Oh gosh, what a GREAT book. Alice, living in an English home which lacks much, leaps to agree to marry a visiting American. It was an escape for her. He is a man of some family wealth, and she travels from England to Kentucky, during the 1920s. Once settled into the family home, she discovers married life is not what she had expected. Affection is lacking, and she must share the home with her tyrannical father-in-law, the owner of mines in the deep mountains. And with the ghost of the deceased mother-in-law. The family cook won’t tolerate Alice’s help in the kitchen. Alice is terribly lonely and unhappy. The town doesn’t much like this English woman with her funny way of speaking. But then, she meets a woman who encourages her to join the Horseback Librarians. With trepidation, she begins traversing the remote hills, through unbelievable weather, to deliver old, battered and tattered books to the remote inhabitants of the area. She makes friends, wonderful, loving people from all walks of life. There is tremendous tension from the danger of the mines, the unions trying to get a foothold, plus the unraveling of her marriage, including the dreaded father-in-law who feels she should answer to him, behave as he wants. Uh, no. Alice goes her own route. Her new friends become her family, and, oh, what love. There has been much criticism of Moyes’ possible plagiarism of another book regarding the Horseback Librarians. I read the other book – but I didn’t feel remotely as intrigued by that story as I was by Moyes’ version. A feel good story, but it takes some while getting to that “feel good” part, nearly to the end.

Frances Liardet has written a blockbuster tale, We Must Be Brave. I can’t recommend this book highly enough. Although the scene is WWII England, this book is not really about the war. It’s about the people at home, waiting it out, struggling with enough food, clothing and enough heat. It’s about Ellen. Her early years, under much hardship. About her teens, some of it as an orphan. Then a young adult, which includes marriage, a marriage blanc, which I didn’t understand until you learn the meaning. Then a child enters the picture, a child that will become a focus for the remainder of the book. Through the war, and beyond. I cried several times, as will you, I suspect. What’s a constant is the descriptions of the place, a town called Upton, near Southampton. About the hills and dales, the flora and fauna, the rain, the mud sometimes, the flooding sometimes. But throughout, it’s about neighbors caring for neighbors, and about love. A must read. Would make a really good book club read.

William Kent Krueger wrote Ordinary Grace. From amazon: a brilliantly moving account of a boy standing at the door of his young manhood, trying to understand a world that seems to be falling apart around him. It is an unforgettable novel about discovering the terrible price of wisdom and the enduring grace of God. It’s a coming of age story.

Best book I’ve read recently. Not new. Called Follow the River: A Novel by James Alexander Thom. This one is also based on the history of a woman (married, pregnant) who was captured by the Shawnee, during the early settlement days east of the Ohio River, about 1755. And her eventual escape. I stayed up all hours to keep reading. The book was written from the many journals and writing compiled by her children. Her name: Mary Ingles. And it chronicles her 1000-mile trek in treacherous weather and over uncharted ground. What an amazing woman, and what a story.

A Column of Fire: A Novel by Ken Follett. It takes place in the 1500s, in England, and has everything to do with the war between the Catholics and the Protestants, that raged throughout Europe during that time, culminating in the Spanish Inquisition.

My Name Is Resolute by Nancy Turner. She’s the author of another book of some renown, These is my Words: The Diary of Sarah Agnes Prine, 1881-1901 (P.S.). Resolute is what I’m discussing here. It’s fiction, but based some on a true story. Resolute, as a young girl from a privileged life on a plantation in Jamaica, was taken captive by slavers, eventually ended up in Colonial America. This book is the story of her life. The people she met, the men in her life, her children, and always about her indefatigable energy for life. Always hoping to return to Jamaica.

The Shepherd’s Life: Modern Dispatches from an Ancient Landscape by James Rebanks. This is a memoir, so a true story, of a young man growing up in the Lake District of Northern England, the son of a farming family, who sabotages everything in his being regarding going to school and leaves as soon as he is able (probably about 8th grade, I’d guess). And becomes a shepherd. And at night, he read literature that he accumulated from his grandfather. And then what happens to him as he grows up. Riveting.

 

Tasting Spoons

My blog's namesake - small, old and some very dented engraved silver plated tea spoons that belonged to my mother-in-law, and I use them to taste my food as I'm cooking.

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Posted in Veggies/sides, on April 17th, 2021.

colcannon_bowl

You know Colcannon, right? An Irish dish, mashed potatoes with cabbage. This one also has green onions in it.

This recipe should have been posted BEFORE St. Patrick’s Day. Sorry about that . . . Maybe you can print it out and make it next year. Or anytime, really. I’d intended to add some cauliflower to it (to make it less carb-centric) but I forgot to take the cauliflower along with me to my son’s house the day we had this dinner.

I made enough to serve 6, so we’d have some leftovers, as I wanted to make a few potato patties that they could have with the remaining corned beef, and I could have with something. So easy to make big patties of mashed potatoes once you have them done.

I started out with about 4 pounds of potatoes, and the recipe called for 9T of butter. Yum. Plus a bit more to melt on the top when serving (sorry, forgot to take a picture of that). I had Savoy cabbage, and used 5 green onions. Plus a mixture of heavy cream and milk. I was surprised at the quantity of milk/cream (1 1/2 cups), and as I was adding it to the potatoes, I was thinking, really? This seems like too much. But it wasn’t. What it makes is really smooth, silky potatoes. I’ve made Colcannon before, many times, but I do believe this is the best I’ve ever tried. And I’ve never posted a recipe for it, as I kind of “winged it” whenever I’ve made it, and it wasn’t memorably. This one was.

Here’s a picture of the Colcannon on the plate:

colcannon_plated

You can’t really see much of the cabbage or green onions in this photo – that’s why I used the one I took when I was mixing it up – it’s more colorful. No question, this will be my go-to recipe for future iterations of Colcannon. If you make potato patties as leftovers, sprinkle a bit of flour on each flat side (to help them brown). The Colcannon is very “wet” so they didn’t brown very well, and it’s hard turning them over without messing up the golden crust. Flour would help with that.

potato_pattie_from_colcannonWhat’s GOOD: how rich and creamy it is – good flavor from the cabbage and green onions, but likely it’s the butter and milk/cream that enhances it the most. Don’t even think about not adding all of it. Make potato patties with the leftovers – flour them and sauté them in some butter.

What’s NOT: nothing, whatsoever. Perfectly wonderful comfort food, and ideal with corned beef.

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Colcannon

Recipe By: Simply Recipes
Serving Size: 6

3 & 3/4 pounds russet potatoes — peeled and cut into large chunks
Salt
9 tablespoons unsalted butter — (with more butter for serving)
4 1/2 cups cabbage — lightly packed, chopped kale, chard, or other leafy green
4 1/2 green onions — (including the green onion greens), minced (about 1/2 cup)
1 1/2 cups milk — or cream or use half and half

1. Boil the potatoes: Put the potatoes in a medium pot and cover with cold water by at least an inch. Add 2 tablespoons of salt, and bring to a boil. Boil until the potatoes are fork tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain in a colander.
2. Cook the greens and the green onions with butter: Return the pot to the stove and set over medium-high heat. Melt the butter in the pot and once it’s hot, add the greens. Cook the greens for 3-4 minutes, or until they are wilted and have given off some of their water.
3. Add the green onions and cook 1 minute more.
4. Mash the potatoes with milk or cream and greens: Pour in the milk or cream, mix well, and add the potatoes. Reduce the heat to medium.
5. Use a fork or potato masher and mash the potatoes, mixing them up with the greens. Add salt to taste and serve hot, with a knob of butter in the center.
NOTE: If you have leftovers, form the potatoes into patties, dust with a bit of flour and fry them in butter.
Per Serving: 432 Calories; 20g Fat (39.3% calories from fat); 9g Protein; 59g Carbohydrate; 6g Dietary Fiber; 52mg Cholesterol; 56mg Sodium; 7g Total Sugars; trace Vitamin D; 142mg Calcium; 3mg Iron; 1397mg Potassium; 232mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Veggies/sides, on April 5th, 2021.

caesar_style_brussels

Think everything Caesar (garlic, garlic, anchovies, bread crumbs, cheese) and instead of salad, add them to Brussels sprouts.

I don’t remember whether I watched Cook’s Country on TV, or whether this recipe was in one of the magazines – either way, it’s a winner. But then, I love Brussels sprouts just about any way except straight boiled (which is the only way my mother ever made them).

First, make the Caesar-style dressing – lemon juice, mayo, Worcestershire, Dijon, ample garlic, anchovy (I used the tube), S&P and EVOO. I made that up a little ahead of time – actually, my friend Linda made the dressing as she was helping me in the kitchen the night I made this when we were out in Palm Desert. The Brussels were cleaned, trimmed and quartered, then were pan-seared. The panko bread crumbs were toasted in the same pan and then it was all tossed together with the dressing and the Parm on top. SO good.

If you make up the dressing ahead of time, this is an easy dish and quick as well. They also taste wonderful leftover, just so you know . . .

What’s GOOD: with loving Brussels sprouts like I do, everything was “right” about this dish. Easy, and over the top on taste. A keeper.

What’s NOT: not a thing. Great recipe.

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Caesar Brussels Sprouts

Recipe By: Cooks Country Dec/Jan 2019
Serving Size: 5

DRESSING:
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon mustard — Dijon
3 whole garlic cloves — minced
3 whole anchovy fillets — rinsed, minced
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons EVOO
BRUSSELS SPROUTS:
2 pounds Brussels sprouts — trimmed, quartered
5 tablespoons EVOO
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup panko crumbs
1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese — grated

1. DRESSING: Whisk juice, mayo, Worcestershire, mustard, garlic, anchovies, pepper and salt in large bowl until combined. Slowly whisk in oil until emulsified; set aside.
2. SPROUTS: Combine Brussels sprouts, 1/4 cup oil and 1/4 tsp salt in 12″ nonstick skillet. Cover skillet, place over med heat; cook, stirring occasionally until Brussels sprouts are bright green and have started to brown, about 10 min.
3. Uncover and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until they’re deeply and evenly browned and paring knife slides in with little to no resistance, about 5 min. longer. Transfer to rimmed baking sheet and let cool for 15 min. Wipe skillet clean with paper towels.
4. Combine panko, 1/4 tsp salt and remaining 1 T oil in now empty skillet and cook over med heat, stirring frequently, until golden brown, 2-4 min. Transfer to small bowl and stir in Parm.
5. Add Brussels sprouts to dressing and gently toss to combine. Transfer to serving platter. Sprinkle with panko/cheese mixture and serve.
Per Serving: 312 Calories; 23g Fat (63.5% calories from fat); 8g Protein; 22g Carbohydrate; 7g Dietary Fiber; 3mg Cholesterol; 387mg Sodium; 5g Total Sugars; trace Vitamin D; 103mg Calcium; 3mg Iron; 778mg Potassium; 149mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Salads, Veggies/sides, on March 12th, 2021.

jamie_deens_green_bean_salad

Just lovely. So tasty.

Make this. It’s not that hard – although you do have to cut up tomatoes, toast the almonds, and shake together a very simple vinegar/oil combo, mince some fresh basil, red onion, and mince a clove of garlic. But that’s all. Get everything ready ahead of time – then cook the green beans in salted water. Drain them, dry them a bit, then toss them with the dressing.

The recipe comes from Jamie Deen, Paula’s son. Since I had green beans in my frig, and I had red onion – well, I had all the ingredients. The almonds toasted in my toaster oven for about 5 minutes. I went out into my garden and grabbed a nice little sprig of basil, I shook up the red wine vinegar, EVOO and garlic in a jar and let it sit for about 10 minutes. The beans were drained, I rinsed them well under cold water, then to cool to room temp (within about 10 minutes). I put the green beans in the little dish (pictured above) and added the vinaigrette and used my hands to mix it well. A little salt and pepper were added, then I piled on the tomatoes, goat cheese (his recipe called for feta, but I’m in a rut with crumbled goat cheese). Nuts sprinkled on top, the basil and it was ready to eat.

green_bean_salad_jamie_deenTruly, I could have eaten that whole dish full of them, they were that good. But I didn’t. I started with about 1/2 pound of beans, so I have enough for another day. If you’re not going to eat them all in one sitting, don’t put the dressing on the beans as the acid in the vinegar turns the beans kind of gray-ish. Not very pleasing to look at, although the taste isn’t impaired at all. This would make a lovely company side dish – it could easily go on a picnic, and can be assembled at the last minute at someone else’s home. Versatile. Just package everything separately.

What’s GOOD: everything about these were so tasty. Loved the vinaigrette. None of the flavors overwhelmed – just enough of everything. And did I mention how pretty the finished dish is? Gorgeous. Make more than you need so you can have leftovers  – although as I mentioned above, keep everything separate until ready to toss and serve.

What’s NOT: nothing, other than needing to do some prep work.

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Green Bean Salad – Jamie Deen

Recipe By: Food Network – Jamie Deen
Serving Size: 5

salt to season the water
1 pound green beans — use slender ones, if available, ends trimmed
1 cup goat cheese — crumbled, or feta
1 cup cherry tomatoes — sliced in half
2 tablespoons red onion — minced
1/2 cup slivered almonds — toasted
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 large clove garlic — minced
Freshly ground black pepper

1. Boil a large pot of water with a generous amount of salt added. Add the green beans and cook until tender crisp, 1 to 4 minutes. Drain and remove to a bowl of ice water. Or rinse well under cold tap water.
2. Allow to rest for about 10 minutes, pat dry and place the beans in a large bowl.
3. In small jar combine red wine vinegar and oil, then add garlic. Shake. Set aside.
3. Pour the dressing over the green beans and toss well. Sprinkle with the toasted almonds. Add the goat or feta cheese, tomatoes and red onions. Garnish with slivered fresh basil.
Per Serving: 344 Calories; 28g Fat (71.4% calories from fat); 15g Protein; 11g Carbohydrate; 4g Dietary Fiber; 37mg Cholesterol; 205mg Sodium; 5g Total Sugars; trace Vitamin D; 211mg Calcium; 2mg Iron; 431mg Potassium; 275mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Veggies/sides, on February 26th, 2021.

AF_green_beans_failure

Withered, stringy. Hardly edible . . .

As I looked at these green beans that I’d gone to so much work to prepare, I knew I couldn’t post them here, as they were awful. Barely edible. Then I got a chuckle – – perhaps you, my readers, think that everything I make is a stunning feast, wonderful, marvelous. Uh, nope.

I followed the recipe to a T. You weren’t supposed to put more than 25 green beans (I used about 12 for each batch) in the air fryer at a time, so they’d have enough air around them, giving them a chance to cook and get crisp. The beans were dunked in an egg wash, then into a cheesy breading, then loosely put into the air fryer. Four minutes at 400°, toss them, then back in for 2 more minutes.

I removed the cooked ones onto the extra breading pan while I made a second batch. Once they were barely cool enough I picked one up to taste. Ooooh. Tough. Stringy. And withered, as you can see in the photo. Oh dear. So that second batch I air fried for 6 minutes, tossed, then 3 minutes. Those weren’t quite so tough, but they were even more withered. I turned down the temp of the air fryer and went back to 4 minutes and 2 minutes. Nope. Still withered and stringy. After that batch I gave up, tossed most of them in the trash can and cooked the remaining half pound of green beans on the stove with shallot, garlic and orange zest.

I’m not posting the recipe. I’m thinking maybe green beans aren’t a vegetable you should do in the air fryer. The egg dunk didn’t seem to stick – well, it did because all of the green beans had the breading attached when I put them in the air fryer basket, but by the time they’d cooked, most of the breading had fallen off and was down in the bottom of the pot. And the poor withered beans? Oh gosh. Not very pleasant to eat. The breading, what little there was of it, was nice and crunchy, but little of it stuck.

Thought you’d all enjoy a laugh. . . if any of you have had success with green beans in an air fryer, let me know.

Posted in Veggies/sides, on January 8th, 2021.

bahari_green_bean_masala

New and different way to make green beans.

Do you love green beans? I sure do. I think I could have them at least once a week. But I don’t want frozen ones – only fresh. I’ve been buying groceries online, then having the grocery store deliver the filled grocery bags to the trunk of my car. My last visit I ordered a pound of green beans.

Preparing a nice dinner for myself the other night, I wanted to do something interesting and different with these green beans. The recipe I’ve had in my to-try file for awhile seemed to fit the bill. The recipe came into my recipe file in 2010 from The Wednesday Chef. Luisa is no longer updating her blog (looks like she stopped in 2018, about the time she began writing a novel). She’s written a couple of cookbooks too. And she credits Julie Sahni for the recipe.

Julie Sahni is a Brooklyn chef and writer and runs an Indian cooking school there, and she’s of Indian descent. And I learned something – the word masala means “spiced.” And Bihar is a state in India. So, this is green beans with Bihar mixed spices, or in the style of Bihar, I suppose. It’s a winner.

First you make the topping (toasting the almonds), then you make the sauce which includes coconut milk. Onions are sweated first, then you add garlic, cumin, coriander, paprika, red pepper flakes and then the coconut milk. Once that is done, you add the green beans and steam them in the spicy coconut liquid until they’re just crisp-tender. Lastly, some lime juice is added in. The green beans are served with the toasted almonds sprinkled on top. When I pulled the beans out, I merely put them on the serving platter and didn’t include the lovely lightly orange colored coconut sauce. In Bihar this is an entrée, served with rice and you’d want all that lovely liquid drizzled over the rice. A vegetarian entrée, if you will.

What’s GOOD: loved the flavors from the cumin, coriander, garlic and onion, and the hint of lime juice at the end. Altogether lovely dish – whether you serve it as a side dish, as I did, or as an entrée with rice. A keeper. Easy to make, and quick, too.

What’s NOT: nothing at all.

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Bihari Green Beans Masala

Recipe By: Julie Sahni, via The Wednesday Chef blog, 2010
Serving Size: 4

4 tablespoons vegetable oil — or light olive oil
4 tablespoons sliced almonds
1 cup finely chopped onion
6 large cloves garlic — finely chopped
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/2 cups coconut milk
1 1/2 pounds green beans — trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 teaspoons lime juice
4 tablespoons chopped cilantro

1. Heat the oil in a 3-quart sauté pan over medium heat. Add almonds and cook, stirring, until light golden. Remove from heat and transfer almonds to a plate or bowl; set aside for garnish.
2. Add onion, garlic, cumin, coriander, paprika, chili pepper flakes and salt to the unwashed sauté pan, and return to medium heat. Sauté until the onion is tender and begins to fry, about 4 minutes.
3. Add coconut milk and green beans. Mix well and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, covered, until the beans are tender, about 6 minutes.
4. Sprinkle beans with lime juice, and toss lightly. Transfer to a warmed serving dish and garnish with almonds and cilantro. Serve with plain cooked rice or roti flatbread.
Per Serving: 446 Calories; 39g Fat (72.6% calories from fat); 8g Protein; 25g Carbohydrate; 9g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 897mg Sodium; 11g Total Sugars; 0mcg Vitamin D; 131mg Calcium; 5mg Iron; 783mg Potassium; 215mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Veggies/sides, on November 29th, 2020.

pan_roasted_brussels_apples_almonds

A quick and easy side dish; great for fall.

Normally I wouldn’t have thought to combine apples and Brussels sprouts; yet it works really nicely here. I found the recipe in a supplemental magazine from Cook’s Illustrated, and I followed it except I used a bit less apple, only because I had but one, not two. Next time I’d leave the apples just a tad bit bigger. I chopped them fairly small (recipe said diced) and I think I’d more “cube” them. The Brussels I had were quite large, so definitely they needed to be cut in half. I was lazy and didn’t toast the almonds. Other than salt and pepper, the only other ingredients were garlic and butter. Altogether nice ingredients!

First the apple is cooked in a little bit of the butter until the chunks are barely cooked through. That’s removed, then you add the Brussels, water, garlic, butter, salt and pepper. You cook that down until the water has evaporated. The intent is that the Brussels are cooked through. I was using a fairly hot burner, so the water evaporated before the Brussels were done, so I merely added a tad more water then covered the pan for a short time. At the end, the apples are added back in, then you add the almonds. Done.

I made these when I went to my friends, Bud & Cherrie’s home – what a treat to go to friends and share a meal. We were planning to eat outside (it’s still nice and warm here) but the no-see-ums were in proud form that evening, so we didn’t go outside. Anyway, I made meatloaf and these Brussels sprouts. Cherrie offered two appetizers and smashed roasted potatoes and a peach coffeecake for dessert. My grandson Vaughan was visiting during this time (this was back a couple of weeks) and he and Bud played rummy tiles and Cherrie, Bud and I shared a delicious gin and tonic. Vaughan enjoyed a new brand of ginger ale.

This dish does want to be fixed just before serving – it would not be good to over-cook them, but preparing them and reheating unless you’re really careful about the exact done-ness of the Brussels. I like them barely chewy.

What’s GOOD: easy, if you have all the ingredients ready to go (wait to chop up the apple until the last minute, however). This was good. Not exactly a personal fav, but it was good. I’ve run out of ways to cook Brussels, so anything to make them differently is good for me.

What’s NOT: nothing really, except they should be fixed just before serving.

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Pan Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Apples and Almonds

Recipe By: Cook’s Illustrated special supplement for fall recipes
Serving Size: 5

5 tablespoons butter — divided use
2 medium apples — cored and diced, Gala or other sweet apple
1 cup water
2 pounds brussels sprouts — hard side removed and cut in half
2 cloves garlic — minced
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme — or half as much if dried
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup slivered almonds — toasted

1. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in 12-inch nonstick skillet over med-high heat. Add apples and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned and softened, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
2. Add Brussels sprouts, 1 cup water, garlic, thyme, salt and pepper, and remaining butter to empty skillet and bring to boil over med-high heat. Reduce to med-low; simmer until water has evaporated and Brussels sprouts are not quite tender, about 15 minutes (depending on the size of the Brussels sprouts). Test for tenderness. If the Brussels sprouts are really large, you may wish to cover the pan for about 5 minutes during this time for thorough cooking.
3. Increase heat to medium, continue cooking, stirring frequently until they are light golden brown, 3-5 minutes. Stir in toasted almonds and apples and cook until heated through, about one minute. Serve.
Per Serving: 295 Calories; 18g Fat (48.9% calories from fat); 9g Protein; 32g Carbohydrate; 11g Dietary Fiber; 30mg Cholesterol; 602mg Sodium; 15g Total Sugars; 0mcg Vitamin D; 120mg Calcium; 3mg Iron; 900mg Potassium; 194mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Veggies/sides, on October 7th, 2020.

roasted_savoy_cabbage_cilantro_sesame

It’s been awhile since I wrote up a recipe where I blasted out at you saying – you have to make this! Maybe the Curried Shepherd’s Pie recently. I think I watched a Cook’s Country program where they made this cabbage – or maybe it was just that I’ve been going through my old issues pulling out recipes that sound amazing. This one did.

The recipe indicated it’s imperative you use Savoy and not a regular cabbage. Savoy is more delicate and roasts differently (quicker and better, I would imagine). Fortunately I was able to buy one and couldn’t wait to try this. You need to start about 45 minutes ahead of time – giving ample time for the oven to heat to 475°F, and to let a chunk of butter warm to room temp (important) and in that time you prep the cabbage. Pull off any discolored or damaged outer leaves. Cut the cabbage into wedges with EACH wedge containing part of the core (which holds it together during roasting). Foil line a roasting sheetpan. Using your hand, grab about a tablespoon of the softened butter (I warmed mine in the microwave – took about 14 seconds) and gently rub it on the two cut sides, the outer edge, then gently lift some of the layers and spread a bit in there too. There is not enough butter to do all the various layers.

savoy_before_roastingBoth sides of each wedge get a sprinkling of salt and pepper, then place them on the foil-lined baking pan. Cover the pan with another sheet of foil. Into the oven they go for 15 minutes. Then the top foil is removed, turn the pan around and put it back in the oven for another 15 minutes. In that time the edges will have turned golden and a few of the outer leaves may have blackened (it’s okay – they even taste good).

Meanwhile, you make the sauce: simple ingredients – unseasoned rice wine vinegar (if all you have is seasoned [sweetened] eliminate the honey), soy sauce, EVOO, honey, paprika, cayenne. I didn’t heat it as I was able to get the honey to dissolve with some vigorous stirring. Have at the ready a small amount of toasted sesame seeds, and a bit of chopped up cilantro leaves for garnish.

Once the cabbage comes out of the oven, it’s serving time. If you remember, trim off the cabbage core before plating. If you’re serving guests, have a heated platter (or pop one in that hot-hot oven for about 2-3 minutes before plating the cabbage on it). I used a spatula to pick up one wedge and onto my own dinner plate, then gently poured some of the sauce over the cut side. Those juices – some from the cabbage but also the sauce will pool a bit on the plate. Sprinkle the cut side with some toasted sesame seeds and cilantro. Done. For me, I used a half of the Savoy head, cut into 3 wedges. A whole head would serve 6 unless you have hungry football players at your table.

What’s GOOD: sublime. Absolutely unctuous, sweet (but not overly so), tasty cabbage. I had to restrain myself to not eat a second portion. I’d served it with a pork chop (another recipe coming up next) and was full – but I wanted more. I’m happy to have leftovers. Can’t wait!

What’s NOT: only that you want to start this about an hour ahead; maybe 45 minutes at a minimum. You could do all the prep ahead and the 30 minutes of roasting would be done at the last minute. This wasn’t quite as good warmed up as leftovers, so keep that in mind – only make as much as you need for one meal.

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Roasted Savoy Cabbage with Cilantro and Sesame

Recipe By: Cooks Country, Aug/Sept 2019
Serving Size: 6

2 pound savoy cabbage — tough outer leaves removed, cut into 4 or 6 even wedges
4 tablespoons salted butter — (1/2 stick) cut into 4 pieces and softened
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar — (do not use seasoned style)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon EVOO
2 teaspoons honey
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons sesame seeds — toasted
1 cup fresh cilantro — lightly packed, roughly chopped

NOTE: Do not use regular cabbage and do use softened butter. If you don’t have regular rice wine vinegar, you can use seasoned, but then eliminate the honey from the sauce. Depending on the size of the cabbage, you may get more servings from one cabbage.
1. Heat oven to 475°F with rack in middle position. Line rimmed baking sheet with foil. Using hands and 1 T butter per cabbage wedge, rub butter on all sides and into layers. Sprinkle each with 1/4 tsp salt and black pepper. Place wedges cut side down on baking sheet. Cover tightly with foil and roast until a skewer inserted at the thickest part of the cabbage meets a little resistance, about 15 min.
2. Uncover sheet pan and roast until deeply browned on all sides, another 15 min, flipping wedges halway through.
3. In small bowl whisk vinegar, soy, oil, honey, paprika, cayenne, 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper. Set aside.
4. Transfer cabbage to cutting board, trim off and discard core from each wedge. Place cabbage on heated platter and drizzle each wedge with 1 T of sauce. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and cilantro. Serve with remaining sauce on the side.
Per Serving: 161 Calories; 12g Fat (60.7% calories from fat); 4g Protein; 13g Carbohydrate; 5g Dietary Fiber; 20mg Cholesterol; 397mg Sodium; 6g Total Sugars; 0mcg Vitamin D; 91mg Calcium; 1mg Iron; 427mg Potassium; 99mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Salads, Veggies/sides, on October 1st, 2020.

shaved_carrot_salad_poppy_seeds

An easy something-different, colorful side salad.

You may remember at least a month ago I mentioned that on September 1st, I was going to dig into my big plastic storage bin and bring out my fall décor, no matter that the temperatures here in SoCal are still hovering around 90 nearly every day and our state is being ravaged by wildfires. And I did get out the plates and décor. So the plate the carrots are resting upon are my fall/pumpkin plates that I’ve been using all month. I simply love this set of plates I bought at Williams-Sonoma last fall. They were on sale, so they weren’t as “dear” as they could have been. I’ll use them through Thanksgiving, then they’ll get put away and I’ll bring out my old Christmas set. Albeit I may be spending the holidays alone. Hope not, but all depends on Covid.

Anyway, when I had read the recipe for this carrot salad it just sounded different and relatively easy. I don’t buy big, honkin’ carrots anymore, but I get the smaller ones, so my “ribbons” weren’t quite as big as they might have been. But that makes no difference in the taste or texture. The carrot strips are tossed with salt and microwaved briefly – just until crisp-tender. Do NOT overcook them or you’ll lose the whole point of making this salad. Poppy seeds are toasted – let me just say that it’s kind of hard to determine that poppy seeds are toasted, unless there happen to be some white ones in the mix – and even then it was difficult. You’re not toasting them for color, merely for the toasted flavor. I don’t think I’ve ever in my cooking life toasted poppy seeds. Have you?

The dressing is made in the same saucepan you used for the poppy seeds, then that’s poured over the carrots and tossed. Once cool, you add the poppy seeds and parsley. Done. There is no reason this couldn’t be made hours ahead. I made a smaller batch and had enough for two servings, and it was fine the 2nd day.

What’s GOOD: loved the colorful quality, and enjoyed the just barely crisp tender texture. The lemon juice and EVOO dressing was lovely with the moderate hint of garlic. I couldn’t really taste the star anise. It was delicious altogether. Nice for guests, or a picnic too.

What’s NOT: only that  you do have to prep the carrots – not difficult. Even children who are safe with a vegetable peeler could do that part. You need to use a Y-shape peeler for this, in order to get the wide ribbons.

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Shaved Carrot Salad with Poppy Seeds and Parsley

Recipe By: Milk St. Magazine
Serving Size: 5

1 1/2 pounds carrots — peeled (about 4-5 large)
3/4 teaspoon salt — or more if needed
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
1/4 cup EVOO
2 medium garlic cloves — peeled, smashed
2 whole star anise
1/4 cup lemon juice — or more as needed
1 teaspoon sugar — or substitute
1/2 cup flat leaf parsley — chopped

1. Using Y-style vegetable peeler or mandoline, shave carrots from top to bottom into long, wide ribbons, rotating carrot as you go. If using smaller carrots it may be easier to go from bottom to top. Discard cores. Place ribbons in a large microwave-safe bowl and toss with 3/4 tsp salt. Cover and microwave on high until crisp-tender. Depending on the thickness of the carrots, this may be 1 1/2 to 3 or up to 5 minutes total. Stir once during cooking time and taste – don’t overcook. Set aside, uncovered, leaving any juices in the bowl.
2. In a small saucepan over medium heat, toast poppy seeds until they are darkened just slightly, about 2 minutes. Transfer to small bowl and set aside. In the same saucepan over medium heat add oil, garlic, and star anise, stirring occasionally, until the garlic begins to brown on the edges, 1-2 minutes. Reduce heat to low, add lemon juice and sugar, then whisk occasionally until sugar dissolves. Cook for about 3 minutes. Remove and discard (spoon out) the garlic and star anise.
3. Pour warm dressing over the carrots and toss. Let stand for 15 minutes. Add poppy seeds and parsley, then toss again. Taste and season with salt, sugar or more lemon juice as needed. Transfer to serving bowl and add more parsley as garnish.
Per Serving: 173 Calories; 12g Fat (59.5% calories from fat); 2g Protein; 16g Carbohydrate; 5g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 446mg Sodium; 8g Total Sugars; 0mcg Vitamin D; 86mg Calcium; 1mg Iron; 511mg Potassium; 72mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Appetizers, Veggies/sides, on July 3rd, 2020.

asparagus_appetizer_secret_sauce

Most likely you’re going to laugh. Secret sauce? Eh-what?

Making this appetizer is so very simple – other than having to cook the asparagus to just that right al-dente bite. You don’t want limp asparagus. You want them barely cooked through, but not so they’d totally fall over in a stand-up container. Part of the fun of this is using some kind of fun vertical container. If I had a glass cylinder that wasn’t too tall, I’d use that, just so you can see the asparagus full length.

It’s been decades since I first read or heard about this method of offering asparagus as an appetizer. To tell you the truth, I don’t remember where I got it. It could have been at a Weight Watcher’s meeting. It might have been from some old-old cookbook. It might have been at a cooking class. I didn’t even have a recipe written up for this – like a real, honest to goodness recipe to follow. I had to write one for this post. Asparagus, some salt, water, and then the secret ingredient. And a tad of sesame seeds as a garnish.

First, you just have to steam or simmer the trimmed asparagus in salted water until they’re just barely tender. Sorry, I’m repeating myself here. It’s important you not overcook them, so they stand up. Drain them and let them dry. If you’re in a hurry, put them out on paper towels or a tea towel and gently dry them off. I prefer these cool or cold, but that’s up to you.

Then, ta-da, you merely roll them in some seasoned rice wine vinegar and sprinkle them with the sesame seeds. That’s it. You DO NOT make this ahead (the acid in the rice wine vinegar will make the asparagus turn an insipid canned-asparagus-color). Not good. So JUST before you’re ready to serve them, you put them in a flat dish or flat bowl, sprinkle a bit of the seasoned rice wine vinegar over them, roll them around with your fingers. If I’m feeling adventurous, I also sprinkle toasted secret_sauce_rice_wine_vinegarsesame seeds around the top of the asparagus, picking up a bunch in my hand. Then stand them up in your chosen vertical vessel. Coffee mugs are just about the right height. I took this to my a family dinner a week or so ago. They were gone in a flash. Even my grandson Vaughan, who professes to not like asparagus very much, had a bunch.

I forgot to take the sesame seeds when I served them last time, so you can’t see them sticking to the tops. I’m making them again today, so am going to put out the sesame seeds – so I don’t forget!

What’s GOOD: so easy and extremely low calorie. Nice for a picnic although do take a wet paper towel to wipe off your fingers after you’ve used the vinegar. The vinegar has some sugar in it (that makes it “seasoned”) so it’ll make your fingers sticky. I guarantee you, they’ll be a hit. One of the fun things is serving this in a vertical container.

What’s NOT: only that you have to do the seasoning (finger-rolling in the vinegar) at the last minute, but truly it’ll take you less than one minute to do it.

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Asparagus Appetizer with Secret Sauce

Recipe By: Can’t remember; I’ve been making these for 40+ years
Serving Size: 6

1 pound asparagus — not too thin, not too thick
salted water to cook the asparagus
1 tablespoon seasoned rice wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sesame seeds — toasted, garnish

NOTE: This is meant as an appetizer, but it can also be served as a side dish.
1. Trim asparagus of woody stems. You do not want them to be all the same length.
2. Using a wide saucepan, bring a cup or so of water to a simmer (just enough to cover the asparagus), add some salt to taste, then add the asparagus. Bring the water back to a simmer again, watching it carefully and cook for 3-5 minutes, until the asparagus is just barely al-dente, stirring and rolling the asparagus around so all the stalks are under the water line. Do not overcook them. They need to be firm enough they’ll stand up in a mug or tall container.
3. Remove asparagus and cool, then blot dry with paper towels or tea towel. Chill if you have the time.
4. Into a shallow dish place the asparagus and sprinkle the rice wine vinegar over the top, drizzling back and forth. Using your fingers, roll the asparagus so all of them have been in contact with the vinegar. DO NOT make this ahead as the asparagus will turn yellow. Holding the asparagus in one hand, gently sprinkle the sesame seeds on the tops of the asparagus, as you turn the asparagus around. Stand the asparagus into a vertical container (coffee mug or similar shape) and serve immediately. If you’re not sure you’ll eat all the asparagus it’s wise to season some of it, serve, then if you need more you can always add more to the vinegar and serve more of them.
Per Serving: 21 Calories; trace Fat (7.8% calories from fat); 2g Protein; 4g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 89mg Sodium; 1g Total Sugars; 0mcg Vitamin D; 21mg Calcium; 2mg Iron; 154mg Potassium; 41mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Veggies/sides, on May 5th, 2020.

roasted_sw_potatoes_parm

Why is it we never think to pair Parm with sweet potatoes?

Is it because sweet potatoes are sweet that we think they don’t pair well with something umami and savory as Parm? I don’t know – but this combo is really fabulous. It’s weeks since we celebrated (albeit at home) Easter – that was my Easter dinner plate. A little bit of ham, fresh green beans and garlic and these potatoes. My plan had been to eat half of the potatoes and save the remainder for another meal. The ham wasn’t very good – it had been in my frig altogether too long. It wasn’t spoiled, but it didn’t taste good, either. I had two bites and tossed the rest. So that left me with green beans (devoured) and sweet potatoes (also gone in a flash).

While I was eating my dinner I zoom-ed with my family who live about 40 miles away, so we were sort of enjoying our Easter dinners together. In between bites of food we visited.

Usually I buy the yellow fleshed sweet potatoes, not the orange. But beggars can’t be choosers when your neighbors are doing the grocery shopping. So orange was what I got! I peeled the one large sweet potato, cut it into cubes, tossed it with a bit of EVOO and melted butter, fresh garlic, Italian seasoning and the grated Parm. So very easy to do. Onto a parchment lined baking sheet it went, with a bit of salt and pepper and it roasted for at max about 20 minutes. Depends on how big you cut the cubes. My sweet potato was long and skinny, so I did smaller chunks. When I took it out of the oven, the sheet pan was bubbling hot. Such a sweet sound!

You could easily vary the flavors here – use all EVOO if you’d prefer. Use a different seasoning than Italian if that’s not your preference. You could also use less Parm if you’re trying to keep it more “light.”  I know I found this recipe online somewhere, but the source got lost in translation somewhere between the online recipe and my downloaded one.

What’s GOOD: sweet potato in any way shape or form is fine in my book. This one was super easy, delicious and oh, those little crispy bits that caramelized on the pan? Yum. Definitely a keeper recipe.

What’s NOT: nothing at all.

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Roasted Sweet Potatoes Parmesan

Serving Size: 6

3 cups sweet potatoes — peeled, cubed 1″
1 tablespoon butter — melted
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese — grated
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
Chopped parsley for garnish

1. Heat oven to 400°F. Prepare a cookie sheet by lining with tin foil or parchment paper. Very lightly spray the tin foil or parchment paper to prevent any sticking. It’s important to spray – the potatoes WILL stick.
2. Place cubed sweet potatoes into a bowl. Add in the remaining ingredients and stir together until all sweet potatoes are coated. Pour onto prepared cookie sheet and evenly spread out so potatoes are in a single layer.
3. Bake for 20-25 minutes (less if you cubed the potatoes smaller than 1″) stirring the potatoes at least twice during cook time so that all sides can get crispy and roasted.
4. Serve warm and garnish with fresh chopped parsley.
Per Serving: 129 Calories; 7g Fat (45.6% calories from fat); 1g Protein; 17g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 5mg Cholesterol; 200mg Sodium.

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