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Posts from the ‘Sides’ Category

Ode to the Box Grater and Unconventional Latkes

I use my box grater most days. I’ve been grating carrots and rutabagas and making “latkes” with them. I’ve been grating beets and turnips and carrots and making a salad with toasted sesame seeds and a lemony dressing. I’ve been making celery root remoulade the classic French salad of grated raw celery root with a creamy mustardy dressing (though I use Greek yogurt instead of mayonnaise). I’ve been making delicata squash pancakes and grated sweet potato and regular potato and parsnip pancakes.

Turnips, sweet potatoes, celery root and carrots, the latter pulled from my garden this morning. . . These were the roots I happened to have around today but so many others--parsnips, rutabagas, beets, potatoes, winter squash--lend themselves to grating.

I love my food processor and its coarse grating blade too but I’ve reached for the good old box grater more often lately. It’s easy to clean, lives in a central drawer and requires no moving, assembling, or non-human power.

And tools aside, these grated concoctions are winners. There’s no better way to enjoy (or get unfamiliar veggies into skeptical tummies small and large) than grating them, mixing them with a light batter and pan-frying them into crisp, spidery pancakes.  Nor is there a better way to put a wintry salad on the table since the grating softens the veggies and enables them to soak up zippy dressings with lots of herbs and acidity.

In addition to writing about box graters and root veggies I had planned to write some sort of New Year’s greeting, but this morning I read this post and have been thinking about it ever since. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. And I’ll just say what a pleasure it is to cook with the beautiful produce our fabulous farmers grow and that I hope to increase access and knowledge and comfort with it, both with new and familiar folks in 2012.

And finally, there are lots of new classes posted, including another round of the Eat Better Series, which is a great way to start the new year. So if you received a gift certificate for a class or have been wanting to take one or would like a “tune up” I’d love to see you here.

Happy New Year!

I shouldn't really call these latkes since they have cream or milk in the batter but they are worth trying with most any root veggie you have on hand.

Rutabaga and Carrot “Latkes”

I referenced this recipe last week and received quite a few questions asking for more details and a real recipe so here you go.

This is more of an idea/technique than a recipe and it’s not an authentic latke. Be that as it may it’s a great, great way to enjoy winter (especially root) veggies. You can also include or substitute turnips, celery root, sweet potatoes or potatoes. The quantities listed are approximations and can be adjusted based on what you have on hand, your taste, etc. For the below recipe you want about six cups of packed, grated veggie.

1 smallish or half a larger rutabaga, peeled and grated on the large holes of a box grater or shredded with a food processor
3-4 medium carrots, scrubbed and grated (same as rutabaga)
½ a medium onion, finely diced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (or oregano, mint or chives or about a teaspoon of chopped sage or thyme, fresh or dried) optional
2 eggs
¼ cup flour
½ – 2/3 cup of cream or whole milk
Salt (at least 1 teaspoon kosher)
Freshly ground pepper
A few tablespoons of oil for pan-frying
Greek yogurt or sour cream for serving

Let the grated veggies rest, sprinkled with a little salt, in a large bowl while you prepare the batter. In a smallish bowl whisk the eggs with the flour and cream, salt and pepper. Squeeze out any excess liquid from the veggies with your hands, a big handful at a time. Return to the bowl; add the onion and herbs and finally the batter. Mix well. Taste for seasoning before you start frying. Under salted latkes are no fun.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat with a tablespoon or so of olive oil. Scoop large spoonfuls of the mixture into the hot pan. Flatten each one a bit with a spatula. Leave them alone for a few minutes until the sides start getting crispy and golden. Flip carefully and continue cooking until both sides are nicely browned. Eat hot topped with Greek yogurt or sour cream.

 

Quinoa and Beets

In this recipe raw, grated beets are added to cumin scented quinoa.

I have a bit of a funny relationship with beets. I like them and often am attracted to beet-related salads on restaurant menus. They are not, however, the first thing I grab at the farmers’ market. And if I do, they often sit in my crisper longer than most other items. Luckily beets last a long time  in the fridge.

I have my few go-to recipes for them like this one. And today’s recipe was recommended to me by a trusted friend and I had actually mentally made note of it when I saw it on Culinate.com a few months earlier. It is a recipe from Maria Speck’s book Ancient Grains for Modern Meals. I taught it in a recent class (Grains and Beans in Winter Salads) and it was a big hit.

Be careful when you grate them as the juice flies everywhere and easily stains.

I don’t think I had ever used raw, grated beets before  making this dish and they are surprisingly sweet this way. In my experience red beets work much better than the golden beets both in flavor and appearance in this dish. (Maria suggests using golden ones as an alternative. ) The dish is quick to make, the color is unbeatable and the balance of the sweet beets, the nutty quinoa, the whole cumin seeds and plenty of lemon juice (and a bit of cayenne) is really, really lovely. And of course the garlicky Greek yogurt topping is the perfect complement.

It’s best eaten warm or at room temperature not long after it’s made. I just had some for breakfast this morning right out of the fridge and it was not quite as soft and fragrant so be sure to bring leftovers to room temperature before eating.

This would make a lovely addition to any holiday meal.

Quinoa with Beets, Cumin and Garlicky Yogurt
–adapted from Ancient Grains for Modern Meals by Maria Speck

This quick, room temperature dish uses raw, grated beets. The original recipe also calls for sumac, the powder from a red berry found and used all over the Middle East. It has a tart flavor so I substitute a bit of lemon juice (which she also suggests) which works well.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
1 cup quinoa, well rinsed and drained
1 ½ cups water
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon sumac (optional, see note above)
3/4 cup plain whole-milk or Greek yogurt
1 garlic clove, minced
½ tsp. sumac, for sprinkling, or 1 tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1¼ cups shredded raw beets (about 1 medium-sized beet, rinsed and peeled)
1 to 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 to 2 pinches cayenne pepper

Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Add the cumin seeds (they will sizzle) and cook, stirring, until the seeds darken and become fragrant, 30 seconds. Stir in the quinoa and cook, stirring frequently, until hot to the touch, about 1 minute. Add the water, salt, and sumac, and bring to a boil. Decrease the temperature to maintain a simmer, cover, and cook until the liquid is absorbed, 15 to 20 minutes.

Meanwhile mix the yogurt and the garlic in a small bowl until smooth. Sprinkle with the sumac (if using) and set aside.

To finish, remove the saucepan from the heat. Stir in the shredded beets, cover, and steam for 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice and the cayenne. Taste, adjusting for salt and lemon juice, and serve with the yogurt topping.


What to do with that half-bunch of Cilantro?

What do you do with that leftover cilantro in the fridge? That is one of the most commonly asked question in my classes. Sunday night I used a somewhat ratty-looking half-bunch of cilantro and whizzed it in the food processor with two to three tablespoons of Greek Yogurt , the same amount of good olive oil (the kind you might use for drizzling on soups or in salad dressings), a clove of garlic, some salt and a splash of lemon juice, to create this luscious sauce. You could also just finely chop the cilantro and stir everything together by hand so don’t  fret if you don’t have a fancy machine or don’t feel like cleaning it afterwards.

 

Cilantro Yogurt Sauce

 

I served it over cauliflower and some kale raab (kale going to seed in my garden) and quinoa. It was yet another cook-with-what-you-have dish that came together in no time, was very flavorful and used up that cilantro.

 

Quinoa with Cauliflower, Kale Raab, and Cilantro Yogurt Sauce

I cook with lots of herbs. I grow many but have never had much luck with cilantro. It bolts too quickly! Cilantro is one of my winter-time workhorses in the kitchen and I incorporate it in soups like this; or add lots of it to homemade mayonnaise that I make with lime juice instead of lemon and serve with roasted sweet potato wedges.

Herbs add flavor, color and nutrients to any dish and are an inexpensive way to round out a dish. I can imagine this sauce topping a chickpea or lentil dal, or some grilled fish (or in fish tacos), or with other roasted vegetables. It is the kind of thing that makes cooking with what you have on hand feel like a coup. I love it.

Winter Squash x 4

Marina di Chiogga Squash

A friend gave me this beautiful squash last November. It started out entirely grayish green but over time took on rusty-orange stripes. I finally cut into it last week.

One quarter of it turned into the squash panade I mentioned in last week’s post (recipe below). I roasted the remaining three-quarters all together the next day. I cut the second quarter into chunks and dressed them with lots of parsley, garlic, lemon juice, and olive oil as part of my husband’s lunch. Two days later, I sautéed some onions with a bit of bacon, tossed in a bag of frozen peas and then the diced, third quarter of the roasted squash. I mixed all of this with cooked quinoa and a dressing of olive oil, soy sauce and lemon juice. Sounds a bit odd but was actually quite addictive and good. And finally, tonight, six days later, I used the last quarter to make squash corn cakes inspired by a post by Jim Dixon of Real Good Food on Facebook and added the very last, half-a-cup or so, to a raw kale and arugula salad.

It’s getting toward the end of winter squash season but every one of these dishes filled a need and was happily consumed. Not only did the winter squash keep beautifully for several months in my kitchen, it kept in the fridge, roasted for almost a week with no sign of demise.

The panade is probably my favorite of the bunch and has been a winner in my classes too. It’s one of those things with which I have no restraint, eating far more than is reasonable. . .. So if you still have a squash lying around give it a try. Or saute some kale or other hearty greens and substitute that for the squash in the panade–also delicious.

Gooey, crispy, warm and comforting--the finished panade!

Onion and Winter Squash Panade

–adapted from Stonesoup.com which was inspired by Judy Rodgers and the Zuni Cafe cookbook

This is a brilliant way to use up stale bread, but fresh can be used as well. Just make sure it’s a hearty rustic loaf with a good crumb and crust. I used an aged cheddar as my cheese.

2-3 large yellow onions (2 lbs)

1/2 bunch thyme, leaves picked (can omit in a pinch)

½ a small/medium butternut squash (or other winter squash), peeled and cut into ¾-inch dice for about 3 -4 cups

1/2 medium loaf rustic bread (1/2 lb), torn in to chunks

150g (5oz) cheese (sharp cheddar, gruyere, aged-assiago; parmesan, etc.)

3 1/2 cups vegetable or chicken stock (I use homemade veggie bouillon)

Preheat oven to 400F

Cut onion in half lengthwise. Peel, then slice into half moons about 5mm (1/4in) thick.  Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large frying pan. Cook onion stirring occasionally until soft and golden brown. No need to caramelize. Stir in the thyme.

In a medium heatproof dish layer about a third of the onions. Sprinkle over some of the bread and cheese and squash. Repeat until all the ingredients have been used. You want to be able to see a little of each on the top. Bring stock to a simmer. Pour over the onion dish. Season.

Cover and bake for 30 minutes. Remove cover and bake for another 20 – 30 minutes or until the top is golden and crunchy and the stock has been absorbed by the bread. Run under the broiler for a few minutes if it’s not crispy enough.

Much of the flavor in this dish comes from the onions.

Ready for baking.

On a different note, there’s a fun piece about my classes, specifically my Eat Better Series, and one of my students in today’s Oregonian. I’ve scheduled the series again in early April so sign up right away if you’re interested.

Happy Cooking and Eating!

Cabbage, etc.

"Clean out the fridge" winter lunch

It’s taken me a year and a half to articulate what exactly it is I’m trying to do with my business–Cook With What You Have (through the classes I teach, this blog, etc.).  The name really speaks for itself and even the words I used to describe the business/approach/philosophy at the outset are more or less the same ones I would use now. But these words, these ideas, are really sinking in in a more profound way than they did when I started this (ad)venture. They are sinking in thanks to my students, my neighbors, my chef friends, strangers in the grocery store and at the farmers markets, . . . And yesterday’s lunch!

Two kinds of cabbage and chard . . .

Yesterday’s lunch was a result of various factors: 1) the previous day had seen two birthday parties (one with kids from Ellis’ school and one with family members) laden with treats of all kinds, but plenty of sweet ones. 2) yesterday was also Superbowl Sunday and I knew there would be lots of heavy foods, and 3) I needed to clean out my fridge to make room for the new haul from Sunday’s Hillsdale Farmers Market run.  I found 1/4 of green cabbage starting to brown around the edges, and 1/2 a red cabbage with similar signs and 1/2 a bunch of slightly wilty chard. After a rinse and a trim they looked much better (as do I:)!) and 10-15 minutes in the saute pan with a little olive oil and salt, they were damn near perfect.

So the above paragraph illustrates theme one of CWWYH (Cook With What You Have). Use what you’ve got. Now theme two (really en elaboration of theme one) would manifest itself as follows: If you like/have eggs on hand, scoot that cabbage over and fry a couple of eggs in the same pan. Serve them on top of the veggies sprinkled with good salt, drizzled with good olive oil and a few grinds of pepper. If you like/have bread on hand, toast a piece and dig in. If you like/have sausages in the freezer (like I do for just these occasions), slice one up and brown it and mix in.

Theme three might be considered the analytical part of the above story. Cooking can be fun, quick, delicious, cheap and not scary at all if you have things in your house you like, are not afraid to use salt and fat and taste the food as you’re preparing it. A little creativity can go a long way in making every day meals not so daunting.

And don’t get my wrong. I love cookbooks and recipes and food that’s a bit more involved than the above, but what we (collectively) seem to sometimes forget or not realize, is just how easy and fun and tasty food can be on the fly. And we get better and better at tossing things together like this if we have fresh produce on hand, experiment with ingredients we (our children, partners. . . .) like and are confident enough to look at a recipe and use it to our advantage rather than be enslaved by it.

Happy Cooking & Eating!

Katherine

P.S. Apropos fresh produce and local farmers (here in Oregon) there is a bill in the Oregon Legislature that will clarify and provide sound standards for on-farm production of items many of us love and rely on. Below is testimony by Anthony Boutard of Ayers Creek farm on the matter and an email for the committee administrator of House Bill 2336 in case you’d like to weigh in in support of this very well-crafted bill.

Committee Administrator, Liz Puskar:  liz.puskar@state.or.us

Testimony of Anthony Boutard in Support of HB 2336 Before The House Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources 2 February 2011

Chairs Jenson and Clem, members of the committee,
For the record, my name is Anthony Boutard. My wife and I own and manage Ayers Creek Farm in Gaston, Oregon. We are small family fruit, vegetable and grain farm. We sell to grocery stores, restaurants and directly to the public. I served as a member of the committee’s working group that put together HB 2336.

At the outset, I want to thank my representative, Matt Wingard, for chairing the working group. He kept us on task and working productively. I also appreciate the contribution made by the staff of the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) and the representatives of the Oregon Farmers’ Market Association (OFMA).

Over the last two decades, agriculture in Oregon has seen a marked increase in venues for selling agricultural products directly to the consumer. Farmers’ markets, community supported agriculture (CSA), and buying clubs have increased without a clear place in the regulatory structure. Historically, roadside stands selling produce, eggs and honey have been exempt from licensing, but these new venues stretch that definition. It is essential that the legislature provide statutory guidance on this issue, and I am grateful that the committee is doing so. As a farmer who sells directly to consumers, as well as processors and large retail stores, I believe this bill provides a balanced and sensible regulatory approach to direct marketing.

The bill identifies foods that, from a food safety perspective, are regarded as either non-hazardous, or minimally hazardous, and that can be safely produced by the farmer, and sold directly to the consumer without licenses or inspection. With the help of ODA staff, these definitions are also tightly drawn. Foods that pose a greater hazard, such sprouts, low-acid canned vegetables and fruits, and baked goods, are not included and must be processed in a licensed facility. It must be stressed that farmers’ market rules still prevail, regardless of licensing requirements. These organizations will still determine who can participate in the market, and what they can sell.

With its provisions regarding preserves and pickles, this bill provides room for innovation at the small farm level. New ideas invariably start at this level whether it is in some one’s kitchen or garage. Oregon’s craft brewing industry developed after laws prohibiting the brewing and selling of beer in the same establishment. Allowing farmers to try out new products at a small, manageable scale is an important step in fostering innovation. HB 2336 also includes a provision that allows the ODA to expand the list of foods that can be prepared at the farm, consistent with food safety. With the $20,000 annual limit on sales of these foods, the bill set up a clear threshold where the farmer must shift into a licensed facility.

I urge the committee to pass this bill with a “do pass” recommendation. The lack statutory clarity has festered too long and all of parties involved, the ODA, the farmers, and farms’ market organizations, need the guidance provided by this bill.

Thank you for the opportunity to testify in support of HB 2336.

Anthony Boutard
Ayers Creek Farm
Gaston, Oregon

Peanut Sauce

Rice with leftover peanut sauce and lots of cilantro.

I have at least five different blog posts started in my head. These last few spring-like days  here in Portland have been so energizing and glorious maybe that’s translated into increased brain activity. So I’d love to muse about all the birds I hear singing all of sudden every morning or the green garlic stalks that seem to have sped up their growth a bit or the late afternoon light or that wonderful springy, damp earth sort of smell. I’d also like to write about the talk I’m putting together to give at Slow Food Portland’s Annual Potluck this Sunday (there are still seats available and it is likely the best potluck in Portland and some of the most relevant content) I’d also like to write about several totally last-minute cook-with-what-you-have meals I’ve tossed together lately. So I think I’ll do the latter and focus on just one.

The other day I was in need of a quick hearty meal for our family. I had leftover black bean soup in the fridge so I cooked a pot of white rice (I was in a hurry and I love white rice but tend to cook brown rice more frequently these days) to make the soup stretch. As I was heating up the soup I realized that this was going to be just one-too-many bean meals in a row for my husband. I’ve been doing a lot of recipe testing with beans lately and as much as my dear husband likes most of them I know he doesn’t love them quite as a much as I do.

I rummaged through the fridge in search of some other quick inspiration for him and there was a little dish of leftover peanut sauce I had forgotten about. Then I remembered a blog post I had recently read by one of my favorite bloggers (David Lebovitz). Although primarily a baker he sometimes writes about savory foods and had posted a recipe for peanut sauce (that I have not tried) and talked about how he used to just dollop it on white rice for a quick meal on the go when he was still working in restaurants. So there it was: I had my hot rice, my little dish of peanut sauce and plenty of cilantro. So that’s what Brian got for lunch and he was very happy. I ate the bean soup AND a bowl of rice like his and had to agree that the latter was more fun! The hot rice loosened up the peanut sauce and brought out the flavors of lime and chili and the cilantro was cooling and lively. It hit the spot.

So, if you make the below recipe for peanut sauce you should plan to use three-quarters of it to toss with some spaghetti or rice noodles and some finely sliced raw veggies and save the remainder for the above dish!

I have come to love this particular peanut sauce that I came across on another food blog I follow–Skillet Chronicles–by Aleta Watson.

Thanks all you fellow bloggers for the constant inspiration!

Peanut Sauce

Peanut Sauce

–only slightly adapted from Skillet Chronicles

generous ½ cup smooth peanut butter

2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon grated ginger

4 garlic cloves, pressed or minced to a paste

3 tablespoons fresh lime juice

½-1 teaspoon chili flakes or hot chili sauce (to taste)

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

1 tablespoon  brown sugar

2 tablespoons hot water

Blend all the sauce ingredients together in a small bowl until smooth and set aside. Toss with cold noodles and veggies or serve with rice or use as a dip for steamed veggies or roasted meat. This sauce keeps very well in the fridge for a week, tightly covered (or your fridge will smell like garlic and peanut butter and sesame oil!)

Happy Cooking and Eating!

Simplicity

Polenta with Greens and Beans

We’ve been to lots of holiday parties over the past two weeks. I’ve baked a lot, made some candy, and generally have been a bit out of my routine. I love the parties and this time of year in general but tonight, I just cooked a regular old dinner and it was just the three of us and Ellis went to bed on time.

It’s during times like these where the cook-with-what-you-have philosophy and capacity is especially useful. When your grocery lists focus on sweets or what you’re going to bring to Christmas dinner, being able to make a frittata with a handful of herbs and a few diced potatoes, or a bowl of polenta with greens or beans or both, is a blessing.  So instead of sending out a final cookie recipe or some glamorous holiday dinner center piece, here are a few photos and ideas of what to make when you just need a regular old meal to keep you going, happy, and healthy.

Herb and Potato Frittata

If you don’t have time for the polenta and have some cooked or canned beans on hand, just braise whatever greens you have (kale, chard, collard greens. . .) with a little crushed garlic and some salt and mix with the warmed beans. Drizzle generously with olive oil and enjoy with our without a piece of bread.

Or, dice some winter squash and/or carrots, sweet potatoes, parsnips, etc. and toss with olive oil, maybe some cumin and chili flakes and roast at high heat until tender. Fry an egg and pop it on top of those veggies and dig in.

Another favorite is to cook a few, chopped leeks in a little butter or oil. Toast big slices of bread and spread on some goat cheese or a few slices of any kind of cheese you have on hand, top with the hot leeks, drizzle with a little balsamic vinegar, add a few grinds of pepper and salt and olive oil and enjoy!

More ideas of course on the recipe page and please share your favorite quick winter meals in the comments if you’d like.

I wish you all a peaceful, delicious and convivial holiday. Thank you for reading and cooking.

Gratefully  yours,

Katherine

My mother and me with some of the Thanksgiving pies in the background

What a Wedding!

250 corn cakes, 150 “caprese” toasts, and 160 deviled eggs! Done, consumed, enjoyed and almost forgotten. I have not, however, and never will forget the spirit and beauty of the day. You can get a sense of it here and I’ll post more photos as I get them. My brother has always been good at throwing parties and he (and Emily!) outdid themselves this time. They managed to organize four days of celebration beginning with cider pressing on Thursday followed by a totally impromptu “cook with what you have dinner” for 20 by yours truly and my mother. Then we had a day of set up, rehearsal and rehearsal dinner on a beautiful evening. The only hitch was that the lasagnas were still solidly frozen 4 hours before dinner and I was afraid they were going to turn from block of ice to mush in those four hours they spent in the oven. Somehow they managed to survive.

Ben (the groom), uncle Hans (from Germany), brother Reuben

The wedding day dawned foggy with a pink sunrise that just barely permeated the fog to lend a warm glow to the quiet morning. We all scurried about hauling straw bails (supports for the last couple of benches for the ceremony site), setting tables, arranging flowers, and in my case frying corn cakes. That was the longest slog on the food prep front–frying 250 of those little buggers in two 9-inch cast iron pans for 90 minutes straight. I had had lots of  help with the deviled eggs the day before and new helpers arrived Saturday morning to assemble the appetizers. Thank you Susan, Bridget and Vita!

Corncakes with cumin lime Greek yogurt and parsley

Deviled eggs with homemade mayonnaise and lots of herbs

"Caprese" toasts

In the middle of the appetizer prep and the bride getting ready with her bridesmaids and about an hour before picture time, the power inexplicably went off. I panicked, just a bit. No power means no water at my mom’s place (where all this was happening) since water arrives in the faucets via a pump that is powered by electricity. My brother Ben calmly looked at me and assured me all would be fine. My other brother Reuben started calling neighbors to see if this was an isolated problem or general problem (turned out to be a general problem). Some groomsmen and Reuben retrieved the generator from the barn and hauled it down to the wedding site to ensure proper amplification during the ceremony. My mother hastily taped notes with “do not run water” on all the faucets and toilets and my helpers and I continued toasting our hundreds of slices of baguette in the old propane oven in the kitchen. The lamb and pig were both happily roasting up at the barns without any need for electricity and I realized Ben was right. Everything would be just fine!

Then just as photos were wrapping up and we started to line up for the real deal the power came back on. So no need for that loud generator after all and I could rid my hands of the greasy, bacony corncake smell just in time.

To make what could be a record-breaking long blog post shorter, the ceremony was beautiful, funny, moving and everything it could have been. The highlight of the dinner was the pulled pork that had been roasted overnight in a pit underground resting on the apple trimmings from the previous day’s cider pressing.

Ryan, the expert pig roaster (and wedding officiator) and I preparing to "pull" that juicy amazing meat off the bones

The dinner was followed by 45 minutes of moving and funny toasts and stories about the couple, amazing mini-bundt cakes made by Emily’s sister and then there was dancing, until 2 am!

And now back to those corncakes. They  make a wonderful dinner and are a good way to take advantage of some of the last of the season’s corn. And by all means make them regular pancake size, not silver-dollar-sized!

Corncakes

4-5 ears fresh, sweet corn, kernels cut off cob

1 oz bacon, diced

1/2 medium onion, finely diced

1 poblano or anaheim chili, roasted, peeled, seeded and chopped (optional)

1/2- 1 tsp. ground cumin

salt & pepper

2 eggs

1/3 cup flour

1/3 cup cornstarch

1/2 – 3/4 cup water

Saute the bacon and onion in  large saute pan for about five minutes until the onion is soft. Add the cumin, salt, pepper, roasted chili if using, and corn kernels. Cook for about five minutes then take off the heat. In a large bowl, beat the eggs, add flour, cornstarch another pinch or two of salt and water and whisk until smooth. Start with 1/2 cup of water. Add the corn mixture and mix well. If the mixture seems too thick and sticky add a few tablespoons of water at a time. Heat another frying pan with a little oil (just to coat the bottom–these are pan-fried not deep-fried) and spoon the batter into the pan. Flatten the cakes a bit and fry until golden brown on both sides. Just a few minutes on each side.

Serve with greek yogurt mixed with more cumin and some lime or lemon juice, to taste.

Finally, three orders of business. First of all, most of the fall classes I’ve posted are almost full or sold out. I do have a few spots in this coming Sunday’s Soup Class #1 (since yesterday’s was overbooked) so let me know right away if you’re interested.

Secondly, I will be doing the chef demo at the Portland Farmers Market this Saturday  at 10 am. Come say hello and have a snack and shop the fabulous bounty of the market.

Finally, one of my favorite cookbook authors, Dorie Greenspan, is going to be in town on October 19th and will be speaking at the Heathman about her new book Around my French Table. And there will be free appetizers to boot. 5:30, 10/19 co-hosted by Powells Books and The Heathman.

Thanks for reading, if you made it this far!:)

Quick Favorites

I work at home which means I eat lunch at home almost every day. I very much like my quiet lunches on the days Ellis is in school. And recently, I’ve been incorporating tomatoes in all of them. This time of year is so wonderful because with a decently stocked pantry you can make so many wonderful things with tomatoes in a matter of minutes.  The above lunch was an impromptu fried egg, tomato, basil and soft cheese sandwich. The bread is toasted, the egg warm–which gives the basil even more fragrance–and the whole thing is gooey, messy and so satisfying.

I tend to have frozen chickpeas on hand. I cook them (and black beans, etc.) in big batches and then freeze them in a bit of cooking liquid in quart or pint  containers.  Every other week or so I put a container in the fridge to use as needed. The other day I mixed said chickpeas with diced tomato, arugula, feta, olive oil, a little red wine vinegar and salt and pepper. And I had myself a delicious and hearty salad.

And finally, I  made this tomato and goat  cheese tart from David Lebovitz’s wonderful collection of recipes for a recent brunch with friends. It was quick because I had pre-made tart dough in the fridge. The dough itself is quick and easy to make and this recipe doesn’t even mention letting it chill before using so if you’ve got company for lunch  or dinner or brunch, it’s a winner and far easier than it looks.

Finally, two photos just for fun. This is my yellow crookneck squash plant on overdrive even as most of its leaves have already succumbed to the powdery mildew of all summer squash plants at this time of year.

And my dear brother Ben who is getting married on Saturday! I can’t wait!

Last but not least, I am having a great time testing soups but a very difficult time narrowing down  which ones to choose for the upcoming Soup Class on Sunday, October 3rd. A few spots left in that one and the Savory Condiment one in which we’ll be making tomato and onion jam and preserving sweet red peppers. Let me know if you’re interested.

Happy cooking and eating!

Katherine

Ratatouille

This is not the correct ratio of ingredients for ratatouille but I was in such a rush to make the dish that I did not take any photos beforehand and this is all I had on hand this morning.

I had no particular intention of writing about ratatouille but I returned from the farmers market last Saturday around 12:30 (sleepy child on the bike) with a single-minded focus on ratatouille. I postponed the nap routine long enough to get the peppers and onions sauteing in one pan and the eggplant in another. I chopped the zucchini and left my husband with instructions to finish the eggplant and start the squash while I did the nap routine. Ellis went to sleep easily and I had that ratatouille done in another 20 minutes or so!

My husband and I sat down with a glass of red wine and our ratatouille at 1:15 on the sunny porch. I probably hadn’t eaten this dish since last October and was just overcome by the perfection of it, as I am every year.  For about two months every summer/fall all the ingredients for this classic french vegetable dish are available and even abundant. And the combination of flavors and textures is just unbeatable.

I won’t even attempt any claim of authentic preparation since I think it’s one of those dishes that has as many versions as cooks making it, but I am a believer in my technique and will encourage you to give it a try. It may seem like a lot of steps but it really comes together quickly and just entails a bit of chopping, none of which has to be terribly precise for this dish. And it’s even better the next day and is always best at room temperature. I, however, did not take the time to wait for that on Saturday . . . .

The next morning, having no bread in the house, I decided to make Ratatouille Breakfast Burritos. I scrambled a few eggs, chopped a bunch of parsley and grated a bit of cheese (feta would have been good too I think) and rolled the whole thing up in a whole-wheat tortilla. They were unbelievably good!

Ratatouille

Quantities listed here are just guidelines so use what you have but you want to have more or less equal amounts of zucchini, eggplant, onion, and pepper, a bit less tomato and just a sprinkling of herbs and garlic at the end.

3 sweet red peppers (or 6-7 skinny Jimmy Nardello peppers–pictured above, now available in the Portland area farmers markets), cut into about 1 inch chunks

1 small-medium white or yellow onion or Walla Walla Sweet, cut into 1/2 dice

1 medium-large (or several small) eggplants, cut into  1/2 inch dice

2 medium zucchini or other summer squash such as patty pan or yellow crookneck, cut into slices or 1/2 inch dice

2 medium tomatoes, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

10 or so leaves of basil or  tablespoon of fresh oregano (or a combination), finely chopped

salt

olive oil

Heat 1 tablespoon or so of olive oil (don’t skimp on the oil in this dish!) each in two large saute pans over high heat. Add the onions and peppers to one of the pans. Sprinkle generously with salt. Add the eggplant to the other and do the same. Stir well to coat veggies with a little oil. Continue cooking over fairly high heat, stirring occasionally. You want to soften the vegetables and browning them a little is fine. Turn down to med-high and continue cooking until they’re soft. Turn off the peppers and onions but leave in the pan. Remove eggplant and set aside on a plate, add another tablespoon of olive oil to that pan and add zucchini, salt well and cook, stirring frequently until they’re soft. Add eggplant, zucchini and diced tomato to the onions and peppers. Over high heat bring it to a boil–the tomatoes will give off a bit of liquid–reduce to medium-high and cook for about 5-7 minutes until much of the liquid from the tomatoes has been cooked off. Add the garlic and herbs, cook for about 2 more minutes. Turn off heat, adjust for salt, drizzle generously with good extra virgin olive oil and voila!

Best warm or at room temperature but I don’t blame you if can’t resist digging right in. Wonderful with good, crusty bread, over pasta, with eggs, a green salad, etc.

P.S. I’ve just planned and posted my October and November class schedule including some soup classes, an everyday baking class, a fall preserving one focused on tomato and onion jams, etc.