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Posts from the ‘Sides’ Category

Quince, Squash, Beans – Simple Fall Pleasures (& a New Class)

quince and delicata

When you cook and adapt and create recipes every day it’s easy to get swept up in the many variations and tricks that are certainly fun but not always necessary. And a few of  the teaching projects I’m currently working on are forcing me to strip things down to the very simplest preparations, to really practice what I preach– that cooking can be liberating, a way to frankly make life less complicated rather than more; that cooking can be simple, creative and just plain fun, not to mention delicious, economical and convivial.

It still feels like fall has just begun since the weather here in Oregon is warm and glorious, however, the produce at the markets clearly marks the passing of summer and early fall. The peppers are gone and cabbage is here and so is winter squash in its many sizes, shapes, and flavors. And this year’s crop of dry beans is arriving and my quince tree is loaded. This week I was feeling overwhelmed by the fairly labor intensive ways to preserve  quince (my dwarf  tree produced 50 quince this fall!) so I decided to simply bake the whole unpeeled fruits in a covered pot, as  I was already roasting beets. And voila, after an hour the quince had become sauce and I just needed to pick out the cores and stir in some honey.

quince ready to bake

The beauty of this season’s produce is intoxicating and I’m reminded that even this time of year, the hard, grainy quince and the unwieldy, weighty winter squash can be prepared and enjoyed with ease. And in the case of the latter it can be sliced and baked and enjoyed with nothing more than salt and maybe a little olive oil or maybe some salsa verde.

roasted squash wedges

And then there are beans! The humble, wonderful and under appreciated dry bean I love so much. I just ordered 30 lbs of pinto beans from one farm and will be loading up on other varieties from another soon. Nothing makes me feel more secure than big jars of beans in my pantry. Soaked and then cooked with a bay leaf a clove of garlic and chunk of onion and then left to cool in their broth, . . .then a sprinkle of salt and drizzle of oil and lunch is served.

bowl of beans

And put the three together–wedge of squash, bowl of beans and quince sauce for dessert-simple indeed!

And speaking of fall and what the changing temperatures and products mean for the kitchen, I’m co-teaching a class with Ellen Goldsmith who will bring her experience with Chinese culinary philosophy to our evening of conversation over dinner and would love to have you in class! Details below:

A Taste of Autumn: East meets West at the Dinner Table

Are you wondering how to make your autumn cuisine delightful, delicious, and inspired? Join Ellen Goldsmith and Katherine Deumling for an evening of conversation and eating just for autumn. What does this season’s food tell us about our bodies, our vitality, and our appetites? Katherine will bring her cook-with-what-you-have approach to delicious, produce-driven dishes for this abundant but cooler time of year.

Ellen will offer an overview of the Chinese medicinal and seasonal culinary philosophy as it applies to the autumn season to enliven your cooking.

Infuse your fall season of cooking and eating with a conversation over supper. We will discuss:

• The elements of a vibrant seasonal meal

• To utilize local and seasonal produce in a new way

• The benefits, from a Chinese medicine perspective, of cooking with the season

• How tastes of different foods energize your cooking and you!

You will receive materials, including the evening’s recipes.

When: Tuesday, November 5, 6:30 – 8:30 pm

Where: Home of Ellen Goldsmith in Northeast Portland (Address available upon registration)

Cost: $60/person

Ellen Goldsmith, licensed acupuncturist, brings a passion for cooking and food with over 25 years of experience practicing Asian medicine and teaching all about the vitality and potency of food through the lens of Chinese medicinal principles. She practices acupuncture, dietary therapy, Chinese herbs, body-mind health, and Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction at Pearl Natural Health in Portland. In addition, she shares her passion for transforming our lives through our health on her weekly podcast Health Currents Radio and as a board member at the National College of Natural Medicine, the oldest naturopathic medical school in the country.

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Roasted Potatoes, Horseradish Cream & Watercress

Grated fresh horseradish is a treat if you can find it. One of my favorite vendors, Ayers Creek Farm, has had it the farmers market all winter.

Grated fresh horseradish is a treat you can find at farmers markets this time of year and in many grocery stores.

Memories of one of my favorite childhood meals at my grandparents’ house in the Bavarian Alps–smoked trout with horseradish cream and a green salad–inspired the recent purchase of a chunk of fresh horseradish at the Hillsdale Farmers Market. While I’ve always liked the flavor I’ve rarely cooked with it myself.  Anthony Boutard of Ayers Creek Farm  calls it Bavarian Parmesan as it truly is used liberally in Bavaria. What is NOT improved by a fresh grating of it?! What certainly IS improved is a salad dressing or deviled eggs or any manner of eggs really or roasted beets or beef of course or roasted potatoes in this case. It certainly likes to be mingled with creamy things like yogurt, creme fraiche, sour cream, heavy whipping cream and butter, which round out its heat and punch, however, a little–of both the creamy partner and the horseradish itself–goes a long way so by all means indulge!

A friend reminded me of this classic combination the other day and with my fragrant root in hand I made up a quick cream for some simply roasted potatoes and made a salad of water cress and nothing more than lemon juice, olive oil and salt and pepper and voila, one of the best plates of food I’ve sat down to in a while. So simple and so, so good. It’s worth seeking out fresh horseradish for the fresh, spicy bite it offers even if you have no Germanic heritage.

And for more creative, simple ways to prepare fresh produce this time of year join me and 47th Ave Farmer Laura Masterson for a cooking class on Saturday, March 16th.

Happy Cooking!

Grated fresh horseradish mixed with Greek yogurt, salt and a little olive oil.

Grated fresh horseradish mixed with Greek yogurt, salt and a little olive oil.

Roasted Potatoes with Horseradish Cream and Watercress

If you have smoked trout or other smoked fish or canned albacore it makes a wonderful addition.  You can also cook some eggs, just barely hard-boiled (bring eggs to a boil, turn off immediately and let sit in hot water for 8 minutes) and serve those alongside for a light meal.

Fingerling or Ozette Potatoes (which I used) or any firm-fleshed, waxy potato that roasts well. I used about 15 medium-sized potatoes and three of us polished those off as a side to a hearty soup. Keep potatoes whole if small-ish or cut in large wedges.
3-4 teaspoons grated fresh horseradish (or more to taste). I used the small holes on a box grater
Generous 1/2 cup whole-milk Greek yogurt or sour cream or creme fraiche
Sea salt
1-2 tablespoons good olive oil
1 bunch fresh watercress, well washed and dried and roughly torn (or arugula or other peppery green)
Olive oil
Lemon juice
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 425 F.

I almost never peel potatoes but I did for this dish and it gives the potatoes a nice thin crust but it’s just great with the  skin left on as well just give them a good scrub. Toss the potatoes with some olive oil and salt and spread on a sheet pan and put in the oven. Turn once or twice while roasting and roast until tender and crisp on the outside, about 30-45 minutes.

Meanwhile grate the horseradish on the small holes of a box grater. In a small bowl mix the horseradish, yogurt, salt and olive oil and stir well.

In a salad bowl toss the watercress, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper.

Roasted Ozette potatoes, fresh horseradish cream and watercress.

Roasted Ozette potatoes, fresh horseradish cream and watercress.

Summer Lentils and Beans

French green lentils with summer squash, bacon and parsley and plenty of vinegar and good olive oil.

It’s hot in Portland and getting hotter. We’re not so used to this here. I have been feeling a deep pang of empathy for the millions of people who have been living through the heat wave/drought this summer in much of the United States.

And it’s definitely that time of year when those seeds and plants we’ve been nourishing for months repay one’s devotion. There’s produce everywhere and the odd tension for me of the joy of the abundance and the pressure to manage it all is in full swing right now. If you, like me are a bit overwhelmed, there are many ways in which to share our bounty. Locally in Portland this is a great resource. Or read this piece from Culinate which landed in my inbox just at the right time yesterday.

So, how to cook/prepare food in a very hot house when there is so much beautiful fresh produce? It’s really the prefect time for the cook-with-what-you-have approach. Who has time for recipes or many steps or much stove time at all? And if you by chance have home-cooked beans in the freezer, now is the time to gloat! I have done this, the gloating (to myself alone albeit) the last few days. I added a bunch of chickpeas to a coleslaw with lots of fresh jalapenos, cilantro and mint. The chickpeas added heft and texture and it was a lovely way to spend NO time at the stove. And if you don’t have cooked beans, canned beans are a good shortcut here.

Previously cooked and then frozen navy beans with tomatoes, cilantro, jalapeno, sweet onions, feta, and a dressing of red wine vinegar, s & p and good olive oil.

Just now for lunch I employed some just-thawed white beans in my attempt to eat as much produce as possible in one meal. With the company of yet more jalapeno, cilantro, Walla Walla Sweets, and tomatoes (and some feta) it made the perfect hot day lunch. Oh and I added some basil too. Yesterday I added copious amounts of both dill and cilantro to a similar salad–both herbs needed using and the two got along just fine. You may never recreate some of this tossed-together summer dishes but the joy of uninhibited combinations is not to be missed!

The lentil salad with zucchini and bacon pictured above is my new favorite hearty summer salad. It was inspired by the ever creative Nigel Slater and my adaptation of this dish has found its way into most of my CSA recipe packets in the last week or two. It does require you to cook the lentils (they cook so quickly 15 – 20 min) that I don’t cook these ahead of time and freeze. And the bacon, onion and zucchini see some stove time but it’s minimal so consider doing these things while you’re making breakfast, while it’s still cool and then have dinner ready for you in the evening.

Stay cool and happy eating!

P.S. There are two spots left in my Herbs in the Kitchen Class next Thursday and there are some seats left at the Slow Food Portland dinner in celebration (and support!) of our Terra Madre delegates on Saturday, August 25th. Would love to see you there.

Summer Squash with Lentils, Parsley and Bacon
–inspired by Tender by Nigel Slater

Lentils get overlooked a bit in the summer but I especially love salads with small green lentils in the summer. You can make them ahead of time and then have a robust, room temperature dish for whenever you need it. You want to cook the zucchini until it’s nice and browned but still holding it’s shape so use high heat.

1 1/4 cups small French green lentils or other small lentils that keep their shape when cooked
Splash of olive oil
1 Walla Walla Sweet, diced
4 cups summer squash, cut into small chunks –for zucchini I quarter them lengthwise and then cut them into 1/3-inch chunks
4 slices bacon, diced
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar (or more to taste)
1-2 tablespoons sherry vinegar (or more red wine vinegar if you don’t have sherry vinegar)
2 small-ish garlic cloves, crushed and then minced
3 (or more) tablespoons good olive oil
Sea salt and pepper (to taste)
¼ cup (or more) chopped parsley

Cook the lentils until tender, about 15-20 minutes (this will vary depending on the kind of lentil you have). You want them to be tender but keep their shape so check frequently.

Drain them and immediately toss them with the vinegars, garlic and olive oil. Set aside.

In the largest skillet you have, heat a splash of olive oil over high heat and add the bacon and onion and sauté for 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently. You want the onion softened and bacon rendered but not crisp. Remove the onions and bacon from skillet and add to lentils.

Add another splash of olive oil and the summer squash and a few generous pinches of salt. Cook the squash over high heat for about 7-8 minutes until browned and beginning to soften.

Add the warm squash to the lentils along with the chopped parsley and the additional olive oil. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and/or vinegar.

Gratitude & Salads

A salad of mustardy roasted vegetables tossed with parsley and arugula with a lemony vinaigrette.

It’s one of those mornings in Portland (Oregon) that is unspeakably beautiful–one of those days that makes the cold, clammy, gloomy days of June seem both irrelevant and from some distant past hardly to be remembered (even though it was a mere four or five days ago when I sat shivering in my kitchen with a wool scarf around my neck).

I have two pots of beans cooking. This post isn’t even about beans but as I put them on this morning I sighed a big sigh of relief. I’ve been sick for more than a week and I’ve been working too hard and the combination has once again, this spring, derailed my simple routines and pleasures. So to have sunshine and a pleasant breeze and my favorite sustenance is just too good not to note.

On to salads. It’s always salad time of year for me but it’s extra good salad time of year right now. And some of my favorite bloggers seem to think so as well. I made this one yesterday for a potluck (with a toasted pumpkin and sunflower seeds instead of almonds) and I can’t wait to make this one when green beans start showing up in a few weeks and this one, which is explicitly made for the cook-with-what-you-have approach, though they all are really adaptable.

The salad pictured above was a bit of a fluke. I was developing recipes for my CSA farms and was roasting vegetables (carrots, broccoli, Japanese turnips and onions) with a mix of whole grain mustard, lemon zest, garlic and olive oil. I’m also thinking about herbs even more than usual since I’m teaching an herb class in two weeks (spots available!) and have been using them abundantly. So  I added lots of parsley and arugula which turned out to be a great foil for the richer, sweeter vegetables. So they got tossed together (at room temperature) with the greens and plenty of lemon juice and a little more olive oil. And I will be making this again soon!

Carrots, broccoli and onions roasted with whole grain mustard, lemon zest, garlic and olive oil. Lovely as is but perfect tossed with lots of parsley and arugula and lemon juice and olive oil.

Mustardy Roasted Vegetables with Parsley and Arugula

This is a nice variation to plain roasted vegetables. One of my favorite things to do with these, once roasted and a bit cooled is to toss them with lots of parsley and/or arugula or just lettuce. You could add feta or ricotta salata or another cheese of choice. You could roast different vegetables (peppers, potatoes, zucchini even). Then add a bit more lemon juice and olive oil and make a big salad out of it. Or you can toss it with quickly cooked kale and some more lemon juice. Quantities are approximations. Use however many vegetables you want in whatever ratio you want.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

1 large onion, cut in half and sliced in ½-inch thick half-rounds
5 Japanese salad turnips, scrubbed but not peeled and cut into wedges (optional)
6-7 carrots, scrubbed and cut into ½ – ¾-inch slices on the bias
2-3 tablespoons whole grain mustard
2 tablespoons olive oil
Zest of 1 lemon
1 garlic clove, minced
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Put all the vegetables in a big bowl. Mix the other ingredients in a small bowl and then toss the mustard mixture with the vegetables mixing very well. I use my hands to get it thoroughly mixed—messy but fun and effective.

Spread the vegetables on a baking sheet with sides—try not to crowd and use two sheets if you have too much for one. Roast for 20 minutes then stir and keep roasting until all vegetables are tender and beginning to brown around the edges.

As noted above, these are delicious tossed with greens or kale for an unusual salad or just eaten as is, hot or at room temp.

Happy Cooking!

When Time is Short – Chickpea Avocado Salad Sandwich

Cooked chickpeas are mashed together with avocado, cilantro, green onion and lots of lemon juice. Eat by the spoonful, on/between toasted bread, in a tortilla, as a dip. . . .you get the point. It’s delicious and versatile.

Time has been short for my lately, hence my long absence here. I’ve been consumed with all sorts of projects and I have missed this place. So, hello again!

These busy weeks have had a few silver linings, one of which was that I was probably living more like many of my students (and possibly readers) who have far less time than me to spend in the kitchen and less time thinking about what to make for ourselves and our families on a daily basis. And thus I have gained a bit of perspective and have some new ideas about how to eat well and with minimal stress (and minimal processed food) in times of heavy workloads.

Yesterday I taught a class as part of the Wellness Program for county employees. Many of them work 10-hour days and getting a healthy, delicious meal on the table is really a stretch. I taught three things (a frittata with snap peas, herbs and feta; an arugula, white bean and tuna salad, and this chickpea avocado dish). They were all devoured but this one was met with the most initial skepticism and then maybe loved the most–for its adaptability, speed, and flavor. I also love this dish because it uses herbs in great, heaping quantities. I’m teaching an herb class in July because I’m almost as much of an herb evangelist as I am a bean evangelist.

If you have pre-cooked chickpeas on hand (or you can use canned ones after rinsing well) this comes together in minutes.

I got the idea for this salad/spread/dip here and have since made it with mint instead of cilantro, green garlic instead of green onions, cumin and smoked paprika, and Serrano chilies and lime juice instead of lemon. You can mash it really well for an almost hummus like consistency or leave it chunky. You can thin it down with more bean cooking liquid, water or more juice and olive oil. You can make a big batch and have it for lunch several times in a row. . . .In other words, it’s a perfect cook-with-what-you-have/like candidate.

You can just gently mix all ingredients or mash them together well for completely different consistencies.

Chickpea and Avocado Salad/Sandwich
–inspired by twopeasandapod.com

This is delicious as a dip, on toasted bread, as a sandwich filling or just as is. You can adapt this in many ways too—add your favorite hot chilies or hot sauce, different spices or herbs, etc. See more ideas for variations above. I particularly like using mint or basil or a combination. Tarragon and chives are good and so is parsley.

1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas
2 greens onions (scallions), thinly sliced
1 small or ½ a large, ripe avocado
1/3 cup (or more) chopped cilantro (stems and all)
Juice of half a lemon or lime (or more to taste)
Splash of good olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Mash the chickpeas in a bowl, add all the remaining ingredients and mash some more and mix well. If you want to serve it more like a salad or side, just lightly mash the chickpeas and dice the avocado and mix everything together more gently. You don’t need to achieve such a uniform texture in that case.

Cleaning out the Freezer & Cornbread

We ate the last quart of frozen berries about six weeks ago and freezer pickings are starting to get a bit slim, as they should be. I am equally as keen on filling that freezer in summer and fall as am to emptying it by late May when the berries in Oregon start arriving. I’ve gotten better at managing quantities of things to freeze based on my families likes and dislikes, my style of cooking and what holds up best in this format. The only thing I miscalculated this year was on roasted Anaheim chilies. I still have a LOT of those left. It may be they are a bit too spicy for my five-year-old or that I just haven’t remembered them at the right time when I was making chili or some other suitable dish. So this week I will be dicing them and adding them to cornbread (recipe below) and savory bread pudding and rice and anything else I can think of.  If you have favorite ways to use these Anaheims or some roasted Poblano chilies please share!

Roasted chilies, tomato jam, pesto, applesauce and roasted tomatoes.

I managed the quantity of my frozen, roasted tomatoes well this year since with our cool, wet spring we won’t be seeing tomatoes in the market for a good while. I have enough for a few more sauces or soup bases and for quesadillas and sandwiches.

As I canvas the nearly empty freezer I am reminded of the privilege of “going shopping” in the basement freezer and how that one last jar of pesto will mean dinner can be on the table in 15 minutes or that tomato jam that’s a little spicy, savory and sweet will grace some “Daddy Patties” or a hamburger next week. All that incremental work of stocking in small batches as I have extra in the peak of the season is rewarded over and over again.

I have gotten better at labeling frozen items over the years, though last week, a container marked rhubarb compote, that I had been saving for dessert for a recent cooking class turned out to be cooked Pinto beans. So while the freezer has turned up a few surprises like that its contents have mostly served as constant inspiration, reminder of summer flavors, and in-house grocery store.

And this time of year, as the new growth of spring gains traction I will start “shopping” more in the backyard for things like this, that pair nicely with the dregs of the freezer.

Lettuce, arugula thinnings, parsley, chives, mint, and carrots.

Chili and Cheese Cornbread Muffins
–adapted from Fields of Plenty by Michael Ableman

I make this for dinner regularly. It’s very quick and nothing beats warm cornbread for dinner. It’s really best within a few hours of baking but it never lasts long around here. This version has chopped, roasted chilies, sharp cheddar and black pepper in it. However, if you omit those, you get the plain, traditional one I love too and typically make in a cast iron pan. You can certainly make this version in a cast iron pan too and skip the muffin tin.

5 1/2 tablespoons butter, divided
1 ½ cups cornmeal (I use a fairly course/polenta grind but medium grind is fine too)
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
1/4 – 1/3 cup chopped, roasted Anaheim or Poblano chilies
3/4 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
pinch or two of cayenne (optional)
1 egg
1 ¼ cups milk (preferably whole)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Melt 4 tablespoons of butter and let cool slightly. Combine cornmeal, flour, baking, powder, salt, pepper and cayenne (if using) and sugar in a medium bowl. Whisk the egg and milk together in a small bowl. Add melted butter and milk mixture to dry ingredients along with cheese and chilies and stir quickly. Do not over mix.

If you’re making muffins, brush the tin with melted butter (the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons) and fill the cups 3/4 full and bake for 10-12 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. You really don’t want to overbake these.  Or heat a 9 or 10-inch cast iron frying pan over med-high heat. Add the remaining 1 ½ Tbs butter to the pan. When the butter is melted and foaming pour the batter into the skillet. Bake until the corn bread is golden and a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean, between 15 and 18 min. Serve hot out of the oven.

Corn muffins with roasted chilies and cheddar.


Spring Potato Salad

The perfect way to use up some of the hardboiled eggs you might have lying around this week.

If you spend any time on this site at all you know how much I love parsley–I use it as a salad green, I mix it with lemon, garlic and olive oil for a topping to most anything, . . . And you know the same is true for Greek yogurt. So combine the two with waxy yellow potatoes and hardboiled eggs and you get my new favorite potato salad. And if you have hard-boiled eggs a plenty thanks to the Easter Bunny, well then, put them to use here!

This is going to be a very short post since I’m off to the Slow Food USA National Congress and Board Meeting in Louisville, Kentucky tomorrow. You don’t hear much about my Slow Food work here but it has been occupying a lot of my time and energy and is as about as linked to Cook With What You Have as you can get, so I figure it’s worth a mention. . .

What is Slow Food? Imagine a world where the food we eat is good for us, good for farmers and workers, and good for the planet. Slow Food USA is building that world by bringing people together through the common language of food. Through local projects, educational events and campaigns in 150 countries, Slow Food volunteers are promoting environmentally friendly food production, teaching children how to grow and prepare their food, and working to make real food accessible to all.

And finally, for a look into a Cook With What You Have class check out this short profile. In a few weeks I’ll be able to post the actual cooking episodes on Food Farmer Earth this video will be introducing.

Spring Potato Salad with Creamy Parsley Dressing

The capers and lemon zest really round out this simple but hearty dish. And I am generous with the yogurt in the dressing. You want a really creamy salad so don’t skimp.

You can also use the dressing on roasted polenta or any kind of grains or beans that you’re serving at room temperature. It’s great with roasted veggies, in fish tacos . . .

Serves 4

1 ½ lbs. Yukon gold, red or other waxy, firm-fleshed potatoes (about 5-6 small-medium)
2-3 hardboiled eggs, roughly chopped
½ a big bunch of parsley
2 tablespoons of capers, rinsed
½ cup Greek or plain whole milk yogurt (or more, to taste)
1 small garlic clove, minced or preferably mashed (or pressed)
Zest of half a lemon
Juice of half a lemon (or a bit more)
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper

Scrub the potatoes and boil them in their skins until tender. Drain and let cool. Peel if you’d like or skip this step (I usually skip it) and cut into bite-sized chunks. Mix all remaining ingredients (except the eggs) in a medium bowl. Taste the dressing to make sure it’s salt enough and has enough acidity. The capers add a bit of both and if you’ve mashed the garlic with some salt, go easy on the salt at first—though potatoes soak up a lot of salt. The dressing will be fairly thick. You can thin it out with a bit more olive oil or milk or cream or even a little water if you’d like. Mix the dressing carefully into the potatoes and finally add the chopped egg.



Cauliflower and Chickpeas Any Time of Day

sautéed cauliflower and chickpeas with ground turmeric and cumin and topped with lots of cilantro and Greek yogurt.

The fog in my head is finally clearing after a two-week-long bug. I’ve gotten behind on work and thus things are extra busy this week. I’ve been feeling what many of you–who don’t have much, if any, time to think about food and what you’re going to cook for dinner–and how I often used to feel when I didn’t get home until 6:30pm. . . .What are we going to eat?! Yesterday I got lucky and brought (very good) leftovers home from a conference (Farmer Chef Connection 2012) and I quickly sautéed some cauliflower to round out dinner. The night before we had grilled cheese sandwiches with pickles and a handful of peanuts and carrot sticks. I managed to remember to take a quart of cooked chickpeas out of the freezer yesterday so that will turn into something tonight.

Home-cooked and previously frozen chickpeas (garbanzo beans). I always freeze them in their cooking liquid in case I want to make a soup or hummus or some dish that needs liquid. That way you already have flavorful, nutritious "stock" on hand.

And some of those chickpeas and the leftover cauliflower were my saving grace this morning. I have been dabbling in some unconventional (at least for this part of the world) breakfasts occasionally–leftover soup; sautéed greens and a fried egg, etc. Considering that I’m still rather congested, my typical bowl of muesli with yogurt or milk hasn’t been sounding so good. So this morning I added 1/2 cup or so of chickpeas to the pan with the remainder of last night’s cauliflower, a splash of olive oil and 1/4 teaspoon each of ground turmeric and cumin and warmed all of that up. In addition to being delicious and bright, turmeric has anti-inflammatory qualities which I could certainly use right now. . . So I topped my yellow-hued cauliflower and chickpeas with lots of chopped cilantro and a dollop of Greek yogurt (I couldn’t quite forego my beloved yogurt) and had myself a most satisfying breakfast. And the assembly/cooking of this breakfast bowl took about 5 minutes since the two main ingredients were already cooked.

This quick saute would make a more conventional lunch or dinner dish so if cauliflower isn’t your thing first thing in the morning, don’t worry!

Wishing you all good health and happy (almost) spring!

P.S. I’m going to be running a special for folks who have never taken a class at Cook With What You Have for $15 off any class this spring so stay tuned our get in touch right away.

Cauliflower and Chickpeas with Cilantro and Yogurt

If you have leftover cooked or roasted cauliflower then this comes together in a matter of minutes.

serves 4 as a side or 2 an entrée with a fried egg on top!

1 small-medium head of cauliflower, trimmed and broken into florets
1 1/2 cups (or more) cooked or canned (and drained) chickpeas
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
3/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
Salt
1/3 – 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1/3 of a cup Greek or plain, whole-milk yogurt
Olive, coconut or sunflower oil

Heat a tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the cauliflower and stir and then cook without stirring for a few minutes to let it brown just a bit. Add a splash of water and cover the pan and continue cooking for another few minutes until the cauliflower is just tender when pierced with a fork.

Add a little more oil if the pan is dry and then stir in the spices and let cook for a few seconds. Then add the chickpeas and stir well and cook until just heated through. Make sure not to burn the spices so turn the heat down a bit if need be. Season generously with salt and serve topped with cilantro and yogurt.

Salad

From top left: beet, orange and radicchio salad; roasted squash, black bean, avocado and cilantro salad; raw collards with pickled apples and toasted walnuts; and mixed salad with chopped egg.

I got to have lunch with my mother today. You’ve heard about her many times here but not lately. I was standing at the counter in the kitchen this morning mixing yogurt into my muesli with fruit and granola and I had one of those moments where you catch yourself, you recognize yourself in someone else. You realize how fundamentally you’ve been shaped by someone else, you have similar reactions, tastes, expressions. . . . It made me smile, feel old and all-grown-up and quite comfortable actually.

And then she came by for a quick lunch today. As per usual I tossed together whatever I had on hand to make a hearty salad. Today that was already cooked barley (Jet Barley) and already roasted squash. I had a few radishes, a lone scallion, some goat cheese (leftover from Saturday’s Improv class), a handful of parsley, a few leaves of romaine, and one puny slice of bread which I toasted and then tore up in to tiny bits. This all sounds rather odd but dressed up with a nice vinaigrette enlivened with my apple cider syrup it was just right–chewy, fresh, and rich from the squash and cheese.

Barley, radish, parsley and squash salad and my lovely mother and me.

I’m not suggesting you recreate this particular mix. What I do suggest–surprise, surprise (!)–is that you have cooked beans or grains or roasted or fresh veggies on hand so that tossing something like this together is a snap. My mother often does this and I remember her doing this especially when my father was away for work. Meals got simpler, less conventional (though she was never terribly conventional!).

This winter I’ve been making random concoctions like this a lot and I’m getting better at them, with the exception of the one with grated rutabaga (which can be very good in salads), roasted beets, and radicchio. It’s fun to balance textures and flavors and create such colorful one-bowl meals with odds and ends. And I continue to be inspired by Plenty (the beet salad above, for instance) though I rarely have all the ingredients Yotam Ottolenghi calls for but his combinations are so brilliant and they’ve been adapting well.

I realize I’m not giving you a precise recipe but you might not need one. Just think of your salad bowl and the contents of your pantry and fridge as your inspiration. Make a zippy dressing of some kind and see what happens. And if that seems too vague or scary and you happen to live in the  Portland, OR area then come to the upcoming Pantry & Quick Meals or Kitchen Confidence (techniques, substitutions, etc. ) or Salad classes!

Happy Cooking and Eating!

Kissin’ Wears Out, Cookin’ Don’t!

I heard this one for the first time yesterday at a talk I gave at the Alameda Tuesday Club, a local Portland philanthropic and social group with a fascinating 100-year history. Judy, the woman who shared this said that it is an Amish saying and I knew I’d find use for it right away.

And I hope there’s some truth to it because I think I’m on the verge of wearing you all out with root veggies. Next week you’re going to get a break from them for sure but this week I am eager to answer some of the questions that surfaced from last week’s post. I received inquiries about what to do with parsnips and cabbage so here we go.

On the cabbage front this gratin and this soup should serve you well. I was also asked about how to make cabbage a little more kid-friendly and in my experience the below recipe for Japanese Cabbage Pancakes (Okonomiyaki) is a great way. Please report on how they go over.

Sliced parsnips, celery root and rutabaga.

Now to Parsnips, which are inherently very sweet and if fresh, very tender. Their core can get a bit woody and fibrous if they have been in storage for a long time but before you cut out the core (which is kind of a pain to do), taste a thin slice raw and you’ll be able to gauge whether or not you can keep it. Chances are you can especially if you’ve gotten them from a farmers market or CSA box.

Parsnips are wonderful additions to this veggie hash or these latkes. However, for a dish where they truly shine, try this light “cake” in which they are paired with celery root. Often gratins are heavy on the cheese and/or milk.  However, in this version, some simple broth or stock  (or veggie bouillon) provides the moisture and thyme, salt and pepper are the only seasonings and the result is light yet sweet and rich from the veggies themselves.

Parsnip and Celery Root “Cake”

It would be awfully hard to wear me out on root veggies and winter produce in general so I definitely stand by the Amish saying (at least the latter half!).

Lastly, I have a couple more spots in this Saturday’s Greens Class (a short and inexpensive class) and  have posted  a handful of new ones!

Happy Cooking and Eating!

Parsnip and Celery Root Cake
–adapted from Tender by Nigel Slater

You can make this as written with parsnips and celery root or substitute rutabagas or turnips for the celery root. I’m sure potatoes and sweet potatoes would be comfortable in the mix too so feel free to use it as your use-up-random-veggies dish if you need to. I made the dish pictured above with parsnips, celery root and rutabaga and it was delightful.

As I note above, parsnips can have woody and fibrous cores but if they are quite fresh they probably don’t and you don’t need to cut out the core. Taste a thin slice raw and see how it seems. I’ve found that parsnips I buy at the farmers’ market are quite tender all the way through, even the really big ones.

You want to slice your veggies very thin. A sharp knife works great if you’re comfortable and a bit practiced and the food processor is a good alternative too.

1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 large or 3 small (or 2 medium!:) parsnips, scrubbed and thinly sliced.
1/2 a medium celery root, peeled and thinly sliced
4 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon fresh or dried thyme, chopped up a bit
6 tablespoons vegetable broth or stock (I use veggie bouillon)
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 375 Degrees F.
Toss the sliced onion and veggies in a large bowl with they thyme, at least a teaspoon of sea or kosher salt and plenty of pepper. You need to be generous with the salt.

Put the butter in a baking dish and place it in the oven while it’s preheating. When the butter is melted add the veggie mixture and combine well and pack the veggies down as evenly as possible. Pour the stock or bouillon over the mixture. Place a piece of wax paper or aluminum foil over the veggies and press down firmly. Bake for an hour and then remove the foil and turn your oven up to 425 (or to broil if you’re in a hurry) and cook for another five minutes or so until the top is nicely browned and the veggies are very tender.

Japanese Cabbage Pancakes (Okonomiyaki)
–adapted from Food52.com 

These pancakes are fantastic. They make a light supper with a salad on the side. Don’t be put off even if you don’t love cabbage. They are quick, cheap, and I have yet to encounter any resistance to these, adults and kids alike. Traditionally they include shrimp though I always make them without and love them that way but by all means add 1/2 cup of chopped shrimp if you like.

Makes about 12-18 pancakes (depending on how big you make them).

Sauce:
Scant ½ cup mayo
Scant 2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon Sriracha (or other hot chili sauce)

Pancakes:
3-4 large eggs
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 – 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups cabbage, finely sliced
1 small bunch scallions, trimmed and chopped (or 3 tablespoons or so diced red or yellow onion if that’s what you have)
Olive, coconut or peanut oil for pan-frying
1-2 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

Whisk the first set of ingredients together for your sauce. Set aside while you make the pancakes.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk eggs with the soy sauce, sesame oil, and salt. Gradually add the flour until incorporated. Fold in cabbage, scallions, and shrimp. Warm a tablespoon or so of oil in a skillet over medium-high heat until glistening. Spoon the batter into the skillet in whatever size you like. I make them about 4-5 inches in diameter. Cook on each side for about 3 minutes or until golden brown. Keep pancakes covered in a warm oven as you make the rest. Scatter sesame seeds on top of pancakes and serve with dipping sauce.