Saturday, September 13, 2014

Mashed Red Potatoes with Garlic and Kale

You don't have to make these with red potatoes, but I love the way they look with the skins left on. The kale is tasty and adds a bit of extra nutrition in addition to looking appealing, and I found both my kids consumed it readily in this form.

2 lbs red potatoes, scrubbed and cut up for boiling
2 Tbsp butter (divided)
1 small head garlic, cloves peeled and minced
2-3 cups chopped kale
Salt and pepper

Boil the potatoes in a Dutch oven or large saucepan until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain and return to the pot.

While the potatoes cook, melt about 1 Tbsp of the butter in a skillet. Add the garlic and saute for about 1 minute, then add the kale and continue to saute over medium-high heat until nicely wilted. Remove from heat.

When the potatoes are done and rained, mash them with a potato masher. Stir in the remaining butter, the garlic and kale mixture, and enough milk to achieve a consistency you like. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serves 4-6.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Tarragon Corn Risotto

This is simple but delicious, and the corn kernels are little bursts of summer flavor in each bite. I think my kids each ate about six helpings of this. Optional: stir in some sauteed mushrooms after the risotto is cooked. I tried this with shiitakes and they were delicious.

1 Tbsp butter
1 medium shallot, minced
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
3 1/4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 1/2 - 2 cups fresh corn kernels (or substitute frozen off season)
1/4 - 1/2 tsp dried tarragon
Salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 - 2 cups diced mushrooms, sauteed in butter (optional)

Melt the butter in the pressure cooker. Saute the shallot for a minute or so, then add the rice. Stir and saute the rice for about a minute, then add the stock. Stir well, then cover the cooker and bring to pressure. Cook on high pressure for seven minutes, then release the pressure. If excess liquid remains, simmer, stirring frequently, for another couple minutes. Stir in the corn, tarragon, and salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed. Stir in sauteed mushrooms if using, or reserve them for topping at the table.

Serves 4-6.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Summer Vegetable Fried Rice with Egg

Fried rice is my go-to dish when I have a bunch of leftover cooked rice in the fridge. You can throw almost anything into it, so it's a great way to clean out extra or aging veggies in the fridge or use whatever the garden is producing in bulk. The vegetables listed here are what I happened to have on hand, but feel free to mix it up. You can throw in diced leftover steak or shredded chicken, chopped bacon, etc., but I also like this version, with a fried egg on top. This makes a good sized batch - we had a few servings leftover after feeding my family. I suggest only frying up as many eggs as you are sure you will serve in the first round; you can also cook a few more later if you need to, or you can cook them up fresh for the leftovers.

Canola oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 Tbsp grated ginger root (optional)
1 pint shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced
1-2 sweet peppers, diced
1-2 hot peppers, seeded and diced (optional)
1 large carrot, diced
1-2 medium summer squashes or zucchinis, diced
4 cups cold cooked rice (white or brown)
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 cup cashew or peanut pieces, lightly toasted (optional)
1 cup Thai basil leaves or cilantro (optional)
1 egg per serving

Heat a little canola oil in a wok or large skillet. Add the onion, ginger (if using), and shiitake mushrooms and stir-fry over medium-high heat for 3-4 minutes. Add the remaining veggies and continue to stir-fry until tender by not mushy. Drizzle in a little soy sauce if the vegetables are sticking too much to the bottom of the pan.

Add the rice to the pan, breaking it up with your fingers if it is clumped. Stir to mix with the vegetables, then drizzle with the soy sauce and make sure it is well combined. Stir in the nut and Thai basil or cilantro, if using. Cover the fried rice and set aside.

Fry enough eggs to place one on top of each serving. Sunny side up makes an attractive presentation, but over easy is fine, too. Ideally the yolk should remain at least somewhat gooey so it can mix in with the fried rice as you eat.

Serves about 6.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Tomato-Balsamic Grilled Vegetables

The tomatoes sort of melt and disintegrate as you grill the vegetables, turning them into almost a light sauce that mixes well with the balsamic vinegar flavoring.

1 medium eggplant, peeled, quartered and sliced 1/4-inch thick (or 2 medium Asian type eggplants)
2-3 medium zucchini or summer squashes, sliced 1/8-1/4-inch thick
1 ripe sweet bell pepper, halved, seeded, and sliced cross-wise
2-3 Roma type paste tomatoes, seeded and chopped
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup chopped fresh basil for topping

Combine all the vegetables in a large bowl. Drizzle with vinegar and oil and toss to coat. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Grill vegetables in a grill basket over medium heat for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender and pleasantly charred in places. Serve topped with a generous sprinkle of basil.

Serves 2-4.

Curried Green Beans and Cashews

This is my six-year-old's favorite green bean preparation and I have to agree that it's good.

You can leave the green beans full length or trim them into 1-2 inch lengths for easier handling. You can speed preparation of the dish by lightly steaming the green beans first if you like.

Canola oil
1 lb green beans, stemmed
1/2 cup cashew pieces, lightly toasted
1 tsp garam masala (or curry powder if that's what you have)
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat a little canola oil in a large skillet. Add the remaining ingredients and stir to mix well. Saute over medium heat for several minutes, stirring frequently, until the green beans are tender. Serve hot.

Serves about 4.

Roasted Tomatoes and Peaches Over Polenta

Peaches and tomatoes share the same season, and they go well together in several contexts, a balance and counterpoint of tangy and sweet. Here they are combined with sweet roasted red onion over polenta, with a sprinkling of feta, fresh basil, and pine nuts to top it all off. Feel free to throw a fried egg on top if you like.

5-6 cups chopped fresh paste tomatoes, seeded and cored
2-3 medium peaches, sliced into slender wedges
1 medium red onion, sliced lengthwise
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 1/2 cups coarse cornmeal
4 cups water
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 cup crumbled feta for topping
1 cup chopped fresh basil for topping
1/2  cup lightly toasted pine nuts for topping

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Combine the tomatoes, peaches, and red onion in a 9x13-inch baking pan. Drizzle with good quality olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper, then toss to coat. Roast for 45-60 minutes, stirring once or twice (the longer you roast them, the more liquid will cook off).

While the tomatoes and peaches roast, prepare the polenta. I have taken to making mine in my rice cooker, but to make it on the stovetop, bring the 4 cups of water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Whisk in the cornmeal and stir in the salt. Reduce heat and simmer until thickened to desired consistency.

Serve polenta in bowls, topped generously with the tomato and peach mixture. Add feta, basil, and pine nuts at the table.

Serves 4-6.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Red and White Potato Salad with Dill

New potatoes are coming out of the ground right now, and they make for a truly excellent potato salad. This one combines red and white potatoes for the visual effect, but feel free to use all of one kind (I suggest red in that case).

3 lbs new potatoes, washed but not peeled
2 Tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp salt, plus more to taste
Black pepper to taste
1/3 - 1/2 large red onion, finely chopped (about 1/2-3/4 cup)
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
3 Tbsp chopped fresh dill
1/4 cup good quality olive oil

Cut the potatoes into bite sized chunks. Boil in a large pot of salted water until nice and tender, 10-15 minutes. Drain cool to room temperature. .

Place the potatoes in a large mixing bowl. Combine the vinegar, salt and pepper and drizzle over the potatoes, tossing gently to coat. Let sit for 5-10 minutes so the potatoes can absorb some of the vinegar.

Add the onion, parsley, and dill to the potatoes and mix gently. Drizzle with olive oil and gently toss to coat. Serve immediately or refrigerate.

Serves 6-8.