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Posts tagged ‘salsa verde’

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.

Winter Veggie Hash, Poached Egg and Salsa Verde

If I were a photographer and a cook then my blog would look like this every week!  I had a photo shoot during a recent cooking class since I’m in the process of redoing my website and blog (and combining the two!). My dear friend and talented photographer Andera Lorimor took the photos. But alas I am not (yet) a photographer so enjoy this rare week of beauty on this site.

We cooked up a storm in class including one of my all-time favorites: Veggie Hash with Poached Egg and Salsa Verde. Sounds fancy but is simple and delicious and uses pretty common pantry items. You can use almost any vegetable in the hash and this time of year my favorites include celery root, parsnips, sweet potatoes, and various winter squashes. So adapt to your taste and the season. And you can simplify the salsa verde by skipping the capers and egg. The bright, lemony salsa verde does balance out the sweetness of the vegetables really well.

Quick Veggie Hash with Salsa Verde and Poached Egg

This is a quick way to use a variety of vegetables such as zucchini, potatoes, parsnips, all of which you can grate. You can also use veggies you can’t grate but cut into small dice like peppers, broccoli, etc. It’s a great brunch or dinner dish. It can be adapted in many ways. You can add any leftover meat or add bacon or sausage. It’s fabulous with the salsa verde but if you don’t have time or interest in that, toss in the herbs noted below.

Serves 4

3 medium carrots, scrubbed trimmed and grated on the large holes of box grater (or w/ food processor)

1 small delicata squash, cut in half, seeds and strings removed and grated

½ onion, diced or several scallions sliced into thin rounds

olive oil

salt and pepper

handful of basil or parsley, chopped, or 2 tablespoons chopped chives (optional—see note above)

4 eggs, poached (see below)

Heat 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed skillet over high heat. Add the onions and veggies all at once. Add a couple of pinches of salt and stir well. Cook on high heat for several minutes and then turn down to medium-high as the veggies start to brown. Cook for about 7-10 minutes until veggies are tender and a bit browned. Just before the veggies are done add the chopped herbs, if using. Adjust for salt and add freshly ground pepper.

Poaching Eggs

Bring plenty of water to boil in a wide pot. Add about 3 tablespoons of white wine vinegar to the water. The vinegar is the trick to pretty poached eggs so don’t skimp on it. One at a time crack an egg into a small bowl and slide it gently into the boiling water. Continue until all eggs are in the water. Cook for about 4-5 minutes to get firm whites and runny yolks. Lift out of the water with a slotted spoon. You can trim the edges if they are really ratty.

Serve the hash topped with a poached egg and a tablespoon or so of Salsa Verde, see recipe below.

Salsa Verde

This is a versatile, zippy sauce. I often just make it with parsley garlic, lemon juice, oil and salt but the addition of capers, onions and egg make it even better.

You can use a food processor for this since (except the egg white which you add at the very end, chopped by hand) but you can also just chop everything by hand. It’s not intended to have a smooth, uniform texture so don’t overprocess if you go that route.

1 1/2 cups finely chopped parsley (about one medium bunch)

grated zest of 1-2 lemons

1 shallot or chunk of onion, finely diced (optional)

2-3 tablespoons capers, rinsed (optional)

1-2 small garlic cloves, minced

¾ cup extra virgin olive oil

2-3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice or white or red wine vinegar

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1 hard-boiled egg (optional)

Combine all the ingredients except the egg, salt, and pepper. Mash the egg yolk until smooth, adding a little of the sauce to thin it. Finely chop the white. Stir the yolk and the white back into the sauce, season with salt and pepper and adjust lemon/vinegar as needed.


Spring Meals

We’ve had some sun and warmth, albeit fleeting, here lately in the Pacific Northwest. And while it isn’t really warm enough yet to ditch the socks and shoes I’ve been cooking differently. Against all the weather odds the farmers markets have beautiful produce and we’re eating asparagus and radishes several times a week. Below is a quick review of some of my favorites from the last 10 days.

Salad of avocado (not from the farmers market!), radishes, lots of cilantro, scallions and lime juice.

Asparagus Quinoa "Risotto"

I blogged about this dish last spring and had to make another mention of it. It’s not like risotto in that you don’t slowly add stock and stir as it cooks. In all other ways (excepting the grain itself) it is like risotto. It takes about 18 minute start to finish and is one of the most satisfying one-dish  meals I’ve had in a while. The quinoa is added to sautéed onions and a bit of diced bacon, then hot broth is added–cover the whole thing and cook for 10 minutes then spread the asparagus on top and cover again for a few minutes until tender. Then mix some grated parmesan and butter into the whole thing and voila!

Roasted cauliflower and asparagus, canned Oregon albacore, fried potatoes and salsa verde.

I make so many variations of this sort of meal. Roast or blanch or boil whatever veggies you have. Add some  good canned tuna and drizzle the lot with salsa verde.

Greens, beans, eggs, tuna, and cilantro yogurt sauce.

I guess this is the protein heavy version with home-cooked pinto beans, my favorite Oregon Albacore (from Stonewall Banks Seafood), hard-boiled eggs, greens and cilantro yogurt sauce.

All of these meals were fairly quick, last-minute kind of  meals and if you already have cooked beans and/or eggs all you have to do is make your sauce, dressing of choice or cook the quinoa and you’re set.

As much as I love to cook, this time of year I’d rather spend more time in the garden or have a beer at the neighbors watching all the kids in the neighborhood chase each other down the slide in the early evening sun!

Silver Linings and a One-Pot Dinner

Wild Rice with Veggies and Sausage

I like to get things done. I usually love working hard, whether it’s prepping for my classes, reviewing budgets, cleaning the bathroom, cooking three meals a day or planting the garden. I think of myself as strong and able, or thought of myself that way until recently, and not often in need of asking for help. But now I have some disk/spine issues that are turning my m.o. on its head. It’s painful physically and challenging emotionally but over the last few weeks, it’s gradually become less so.

As a dear friend said to me recently: “People really like helping out!” And it seems she’s right and come to think of it, I like to help others out too. So I have been asking for a lot of help lately. It’s getting easier to ask and with the additional help some of the physical pain is easing too. I’m definitely not used to my new, physically weaker, self and have my moments of intense frustration, but having people around to help me prep for and assist with classes, do the heavy lifting in the garden, etc. has been fun. I have a fairly solitary job, except for the actual time spent teaching, so having other people around for these  tasks is a joy.

I’m letting go of some of the control I didn’t quite realize I liked and practiced so much and learning as a go. I am doing things more slowly, I’m cutting more corners and not feeling guilty (the back steps did not get swept before my students arrived on Saturday and I didn’t scrub the hood over my stove within an inch of its life). And when it comes to cooking, I’m trying new things too. I’m using my food processor much more since I just plain can’t chop much by hand and have had to slow down.

And now I’m going to ask for your help and comments. Last night I pulled together a somewhat typical cook-with-what-you-have kind of meal. It wasn’t great (yet) but it was certainly fine. And the method was fun and got me thinking about all the possibilities of what I think I might call Dinner Pilaf for now. Pilaf has its roots in Turkey and Persia but there are versions from dozens of countries. Principally it is rice cooked undisturbed in broth or water with seasonings and other additions.

I discovered some wild rice in the back of my pantry yesterday. I had two leeks that needed using, half an onion, a few carrots, half a bunch of parsley and some pork sausage in the freezer. I sautéed the leeks, onions, and carrots; added the sausage cut into half-rounds. After all that was starting to brown I tossed in the rice, some veggie bouillon, covered it and brought it to a boil, then turned it down and walked away–for about an hour.

"Dinner Pilaf"

When I came back I found a beautiful pot of dinner. I had not measured the liquid carefully and it was a little wet for my taste and it was a bit bland. I minced the parsley and added two minced garlic cloves, a couple of teaspoons of lemon juice, some olive oil, salt and pepper (a simplified version of salsa verde) and stirred that in. Now it was good!  It wasn’t really a pilaf but somehow the idea of cooking rice or other grains or a combination of rice and beans with aromatics and veggies or meat with just enough liquid to cook it all seems rather clever. So I’m going to try this with barley and quinoa and other kinds of rice and with different veggies, spices and herbs . . .  And I’d love it if you experimented with this idea/method and reported back what you discover.  Or if you already make something like this tell us what you do.

Happy cooking and eating!

Eggs Poached in Tomato Sauce, Organic Ag, Raj Patel, etc.

Raj Patel wrote the book Stuffed and Starved: The Hidden Battle for the World Food System. I have only read excerpts of the book but have recently subscribed to his blog and am eager to read the whole book. One of his most recent posts is about a study comparing the energy it takes to run a conventional farm vs. an organic one. Questions of how best to feed the world are immensely complicated and Raj doesn’t shrink from these complications. Having coincidentally tuned into a debate on npr on my way to the airport the other night (to pick up another worthy-of-following food figure Bryant Terry) about whether organic food is just marketing hype, I was particularly interested to look at the study Raj discusses and its massive amounts of data.

Subscribing to Raj’s blog has been a welcome addition to my more strictly food/cooking blogs (with the exceptions of Michael Ruhlman who regularly interjects food system/policy related rants (his word!) into his posts and Culinate).  When you spend as much time as I do cooking, testing recipes, planting and tending a vegetable garden,  shopping at local farmers’ markets, and just living in one of the “bread baskets” of the world, it is sometimes easy to lose sight of the challenges we face locally, nationally and globally when it comes to food, food-security, access to real food, . . .

All this to say that I am trying to find a balance between being totally immersed in the details of cooking and teaching with an awareness, no more than an awareness, maybe tactics to infuse a bit of the challenges of our food-system into my work. Whether that means teaching free classes to Portland Farmers Market shoppers who use their Oregon Trail cards (starting in May)  and really making simple, local ingredients shine in all my classes, I am going to continue thinking about ways to  advance a healthier more equitable food system.

Now to the recipe! And speaking of local and organic, eggs are one of those things (like tomatoes) where once you’ve had a good egg–fresh, local, bright yellow/orange–it’s hard to go back to grocery store eggs. And speaking of food system challenges. .. figuring out how to make good eggs like this accessible to much of the world should be at the top of someone’s agenda. Eggs are such a little miracle of deliciousness, protein, nutrients of all kinds, and adaptability.

I taught this recipe in class this weekend to rave reviews. This dish is sometimes called Eggs in Purgatory but whatever you call it, just make it!

Eggs Poached in Tomato Sauce with Salsa Verde

Basic Tomato Sauce

2 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 medium onion, 1/4-inch dice

2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced

1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves, or 1 tsp dried

1/2 medium carrot, finely chopped (optional)

1 (28-ounce) can peeled whole tomatoes, crushed by hand and juices reserved

Salt & pepper

In a 3-quart saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, and cook until soft and light golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add a few pinches of salt and the thyme and carrot, and cook 5 minutes more, until the carrot is soft. Add the tomatoes and juice and bring to a boil, stirring often. Lower the heat and simmer for about 30 minutes until as thick as hot cereal. Season with salt and pepper. This sauce holds 1 week in the refrigerator or up to 6 months in the freezer.

4-6 eggs (depending on number of people and/or appetite)

salt & pepper

4-6 Tbs Salsa Verde (recipe below)

Toasted bread

Heat tomato sauce in a wide sauté or frying pan until bubbling, turn down to medium/medium high. Make slight indentations in the sauce with a spoon and crack eggs into indentations. Sprinkle generously with salt and a few grinds of pepper, sprinkle on the parmesan (if using) and cover the pan. Cook until the eggs are cooked to your liking—about 5 minutes for typical poached egg quality.

Serve with toasted bread and Salsa Verde on the eggs.

Salsa Verde

There are many variations of this simple sauce. Vary it as you like but start with a couple of handfuls of parsley, chopped. Add salt, pepper, lemon juice, minced garlic and olive oil to desired consistency and taste. It doesn’t take much garlic so start with half a small clove. It should be strongly seasoned since it is used with mild dishes but the garlic can easily overpower things. You can add chopped capers or anchovies as well but for the poached eggs I think the simpler one is best.

This sauce is also wonderful over roasted root vegetables, over a hash of veggies and /or potatoes, with fish or beef.