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Showing posts from December, 2005

The Best of December

For many, me included, the last days of December and the first days of January call for reflection, a pause in the busy-ness and business of the season and the life to think back on the year fast drawing to a close and to look forward into the new year that shall remain unknown 'til lived.

For A Veggie Venture -- what a year! It all started as a lark, truly, just a spur-of-the-moment decision to try -- without really thinking I'd ever do it -- to cook a vegetable in a new way every single day for a month. Just ONE month!

The beginning was inauspicious. On April 1, I roasted some so-so cauliflower. On April 2, I lingered late in the garden and steamed a bag of frozen broccoli.

And it took a few weeks to find my voice, to find a cooking/writing rhythm. But once I did -- my, what fun it all became, how much I started to learn. And that's what keeps me going -- that and the remarkable community of food bloggers and friends and family who encourage me and write to say when they…

Kitchen Parade Extra: Sausage & Kale Split Pea Soup ◄

While the kitchen is busier than ever, A Veggie Venture is taking a break from blogging.

We'll be back on January 1st (tomorrow!) but here's one last soup recipe, a longtime family favorite from the never-seen-online Kitchen Parade archive and perfect for the winter months ahead.

It's Sausage & Kale Slit Pea Soup, a kid favorite too.


Many thanks to Luminous Lens for the soup emblem!

Kitchen Parade Extra: Lucky Black-eyed Pea Salad ◄

Looking for luck in the new year?

Then check out two recipes using black-eyed peas, bearers of good fortune by tradition across the southern U.S. Both are featured in this week's Kitchen Parade column.

Happy New Year, all!

Kitchen Parade Extra: Laura's Carrot Soup ◄

While the kitchen is busier than ever, A Veggie Venture is taking a break from blogging.

We'll be back on January 1st but until then, every day there will be a new soup recipe, longtime family favorites from the never-seen-online Kitchen Parade archives and perfect for the winter months ahead.

Laura's Carrot Soup is a known cure for the common cold; well, at least it's guaranteed to make you feel a tiny bit better when the season's aches and sneezes and sore throats hit.

Many thanks to Luminous Lens for the soup emblem!

Kitchen Parade Extra: Scandinavian Pea Soup ◄

While the kitchen is busier than ever, A Veggie Venture is taking a break from blogging.

We'll be back on January 1st but until then, every day there will be a new soup recipe, longtime family favorites from the never-seen-online Kitchen Parade archives and perfect for the winter months ahead.

Today's soup is another hearty offering, a Scandinavian Pea Soup. You'll want to use traditional dried green lentils, not the French lentils.


Many thanks to Luminous Lens for the soup emblem!

Kitchen Parade Extra: Lentil Soup Vincent◄

While the kitchen is busier than ever, A Veggie Venture is taking a break from blogging.

We'll be back on January 1st but until then, every day there will be a new soup recipe, longtime family favorites from the never-seen-online Kitchen Parade archives and perfect for the winter months ahead.

Today's soup is the hearty Lentil Soup Vincent. It makes a bunch and freezes beautifully.



Many thanks to Luminous Lens for the soup emblem!

Kitchen Parade Extra: Very Very Green Green-Pea Soup ◄

While the kitchen is busier than ever, A Veggie Venture is taking a break from blogging .

We'll be back on January 1st but until then, every day there will be a new soup recipe, longtime family favorites from the never-seen-online Kitchen Parade archives and perfect for the winter months ahead.

Today's soup is Very Very Green Green-Pea Soup, made from ingredients you're likely to already have on hand and great for St. Patrick's Day celebrations and winter lunches alike.



Many thanks to Luminous Lens for the soup emblem!

Kitchen Parade Extra: Karelian Borscht ◄

Happy Boxing Day, Everyone!

While the kitchen is busier than ever, A Veggie Venture is taking a break from blogging .

We'll be back on January 1st but until then, every day there will be a new soup recipe, longtime family favorites from the never-seen-online Kitchen Parade archives and perfect for the winter months ahead.

Today's offering is the meaty and beety Karelian Borscht which warms the northern souls of Finland and Russia.



Many thanks to Luminous Lens for the soup emblem!

Kitchen Parade Extra: Low-Fat Vegetable Soup ◄

Wishing you and yours
a very merry Christmas!

While the kitchen is busier than ever, A Veggie Venture is taking a break from blogging .

We'll be back on January 1st but until then, every day there will be a new soup recipe, longtime family favorites from the never-seen-online Kitchen Parade archives and perfect for the winter months ahead.

Today's soup is a Low Fat Vegetable Soup to help take off the extra pounds accumulated over the holidays. It makes a bunch and freezes beautifully.



Many thanks to Luminous Lens for the soup emblem!

Kitchen Parade Extra: Turkey Sweet Potato Soup ◄

Merry Christmas, Everyone!

While the kitchen is busier than ever, A Veggie Venture is taking a break from blogging .

We'll be back on January 1st but until then, every day look for a soup recipe, longtime family favorites from the never-seen-online Kitchen Parade archives and perfect for the winter months ahead.

First off is a delicious Turkey Sweet Potato Soup that originated with my sister. It's fat with vegetables and perfect for an easy supper on a cold night.

Many thanks to Luminous Lens for the soup emblem!

Day 264: Bruschetta Sandwich

So if I've been a slacker in the vegetable department for the last couple of days, it's because I've been such a champion in the fruit, er, I mean, the cookie department.

By the time the last batch came out of the oven and the fish stew was cooked for Christmas Eve and Jesus' birthday cake (a tradition started by my sister when her now lanky teenage boys were toddlers) was baked and iced, it was ten o'clock. I managed (barely) to find 'something' that might, in an expansive holiday fashion, qualify for A Veggie Venture and finally sat down to supper.

That said, the simplicity of the cheese and eggplant/red pepper spread on good olive bread really hit the spot. I find the bruschetta at a nearby international grocery where there are maybe a dozen brands priced $1.50 - $2.00 so easy, wallet-wise, to keep stocked. If you count calories, do watch the nutrition labels for the brands vary widely in their use of oil.

Merry Christmas, all. Let the Cookie Parties beg…

Day 263: Trader Joe's Carrot & Ginger Soup

From all the prepared food on A Veggie Venture this week, you'd think mine was a no-cook kitchen. Instead, it's exactly otherwise: so much cookie baking and cooking ahead for Christmas that there's little energy left for meals!

This Trader Joe's product was perfect for a simple lunch, start-to-table in 10 minutes flat and leaving lots of appetite for fresh-warm cookies!

(And hey, ignore the sunlight streaming in that's so lovely except when it comes to food photos ... and check out the styling! Pretty good mimicry, eh?)

(c) Copyright 2005 Kitchen Parade

Day 262: Microwave Cabbage & Onion with Apple & Ginger ♥

How to cook cabbage in the microwave. It's almost hands-free and the results are delicious!
~recipe & photo updated 2011~
2005: Oh so good! And the perfect match for grilled chops. This cabbage dish is again inspired by StephenCooks who reminds me on occasion that not all the recipes on his site require tons of time and attention -- and if I didn't believe him before, I would now!

I loved this cabbage and the leftovers got tucked into reuben sandwiches with corned beef, caraway cheese and Thousand Island dressing. Wonderful!

2010: This is such a great technique for cooking cabbage. The cabbage cooks quickly and easily, the small bit of ginger is a pleasant surprise. There's almost a 'fresh sauerkraut' sense to it.

RECIPE for MICROWAVE CABBAGE & ONION with APPLE & GINGERSee StephenCook's Version
Hands-on time: 15 minutes to start, 5 minutes to finish
Time to table: 65 minutes but Stephen recommends letting rest for a day
Serves 4
1/4 cup water
3 tablespoons…

Kitchen Parade Extra: Swiss Muesli ◄

Cooks across the world plan elaborate special breakfasts for Christmas morning, often traditional dishes that are family favorites, perhaps a rice porridge with an almond tucked inside for luck, Gramma's cinnamon coffee cake, the wife-saver strata.

But if you've got a houseful over the holidays, here's something easy and special and endlessly varied for the other mornings, Swiss muesli. It's featured in this week's Kitchen Parade column.

Merry Christmas, all!

Day 261: Roasted Brussels Sprouts ♥

How to roast Brussels sprouts in the oven until slightly caramelized. "Pretty good" if you use frozen Brussels but "wonderful" with fresh Brussels sprouts. Low carb. Weight Watchers PointsPlus 2 or 3. Not just vegan, "Vegan Done Real".
WAY BACK IN 2005: TABLE TALK: The Father: [Sniffs. Pokes plate with fork. Stabs a sprout. Takes tiny bite. Speaks with plaintive voice.] "Your mother used to put cheese on these so I would eat them." The Cook: [laughing] " Would eat them? Or could eat them?"

My poor dad. If I'd known about his lack of appreciation for Brussels sprouts, at least I'd have made a batch with a better chance of changing his mind. I've been binge-ing on fresh Brussels sprouts. The only downside is the time required to clean and trim, 15 - 20 minutes per pound. So tonight I tried frozen Brussels sprouts, thawing them for a few hours so they could be cut in half before roasting (this is a good trick!) and then, sin…

Day 260: Trader Joe's Fire Roasted Vegetables

Convenience-wise, frozen vegetables are a godsend on busy nights but taste-wise, you don't expect much.

This Trader Joe's packet is an exception. Officially it's called "Fire Roasted Vegetables with Balsamic Butter Sauce". It heats up in just a couple of minutes and yields great-tasting vegetables and a delicious buttery-balsamic sauce.

Other thoughts:
The packet includes a pound of vegetables, which Trader Joe's says serves 6 and which A Veggie Venture normally would normally say serves 4.
Six servings works in that restaurant-a-few-veggies-on-the-side-manner if the entree is substantial and there's another vegetable or salad. Four servings? Maybe. It just didn't seem to go that far.
The directions say to add a tablespoon of oil -- there's tons of buttery sauce without, next time I won't add a drop.
There is a lot of sauce -- maybe a half cup? -- so think about rice or pasta to soak it up.
I'd definitely throw a bag or two into beef stew or fre…

Day 259: Festive Holiday Salad ♥

My signature salad during the holidays, the one that friends both know to expect and request specially. It easily stretches from one or two to a crowd, no measuring or fuss. Make it at the last minute or make it ahead of time, this easy green salad is extra tasty and festive!
"Holiday"?

No feigning political correctness here, no entering into the politically charged holiday vs Christmas vs winter lexicon debate.

Truth is, this is my favorite holiday salad, my favorite Christmas salad and my favorite all-winter salad from Thanksgiving to Valentine's.

It's easy to assemble either ahead of time or at the last minute, easy to make in small batches for a couple of people having supper at home or in big batches for buffets, parties and potlucks.

And if there happen to be leftovers, you won't mind. Picking out the cranberries and walnuts and cheese might be the very best part!

Day 258: Zucchini Muffins

At my house, today's the day when the rush of Christmas preparation stops and the simple pleasure of Christmas tradition begins: my annual cookie swap and brunch.

At the table, out come the wintry hearts 'n' pines plates and my mother's 1960s-era red glasses. From the kitchen emerge the foods, mostly old but the occasional new, that celebrate family and faith, faith in family, family in faith.

The picture's from the pre-party table; later it was littered with champagne glasses and cookie crumbs, the room filled with talk and laughter.

The muffins were part of a simple brunch, just eggs and bacon and a fruit salad. Even back in 1984, the last time these muffins were made, I was already keeping notes. "Delicate flavor" and "froze well", I wrote.

And while bookmarked and word-processed recipes are 21st-century convenient, already I mourn the absence of the food notes that don't get written, like these, "big hit at 2005 cookie swap, so were…

Day 257: Broccoli with Pancetta & Parmesan ♥

Today's vegetable recipe: Broccoli steamed, then tossed with bits of pancetta and grated Parmesan. Low carb. Weight Watchers 1 point.
Last night's Cauliflower with Pancetta, Capers and Parmesan was so delicious that there was no resisting the same pancetta and Parmesan combination on broccoli.

And once again, delicious.






BROCCOLI with PANCETTA and PARMESANHands-on time: 10 minutes
Time to table: 25 minutes
Serves 4
Water to steam
1 ounce pancetta
1 pound broccoli, trimmed aggressively
1 ounce Parmesan, grated (yields 1 1/2 cups with a microplane)

Bring an inch of water to boil in a steaming pan. Cook the pancetta in a small skillet, breaking into pieces as it browns. Meanwhile, trim the broccoli and transfer it to the steamer basket. When the water boils, place the basket inside the pan, COVER and let steam for exactly five minutes. When the five minutes is up, drain the water, return the broccoli to the hot pan, stir in the pancetta and Parmesan (reserve some to sprinkle on top at the e…

Day 256: Cauliflower with Pancetta, Capers & Parmesan ♥

Today's vegetable recipe: Simple steamed cauliflower turned ethereal once tossed with pancetta, Parmesan and most especially, capers. Low carb. Weight Watchers 1 to 3 points.
So if I were a Swedish woman married to an Italian man and living in Tuscany, this cauliflower might be called a very romantic CAVOLFIORE con PANCETTA, CAPPERI e PARMIGIANO.

Instead I only got to channel with Ilva from Lucullian Delights while feasting on this delicious cauliflower combination. But honestly, I kept thinking about her delicious-looking recipes and travel-inspiring country scenes while cooking and eating it!

It all came about entirely by accident. Long story much short: supper's chicken recipe called for pancetta but didn't really (a recipe mistake, so easy to do! though I wouldn't have expected it from The Splendid Table's weekly weeknight supper e-mail ...) So I ditched supper's cauliflower plan and just started to cook.

WHAT a magical combination, the creamy cauliflower punct…

Day 255: Roasted Potatoes & Red Onion ◄

OH!

These were so good, hot and crispy and pungent with rosemary -- perfect on their own but especially alongside roasted pork.

As usual, I lightened the recipe a tad -- the fat wasn't missed and the calorie benefit is big.

(How would the lower- and higher-fat potatoes compare side by side? OF COURSE the higher fat version would be better. It's why I always start off with less fat. If it tastes good or good enough, perfect. It it doesn't then I'll consider adding more fat the next time IF the recipe overall is worth it.)

I also adjusted the oven temperature and roasting time to match the pork. (Looking for a vegetable to cook alongside meat at a certain temperature? Check here for ideas, sorted by oven temperature.)

Many thanks to my ever-helpful cousin Lynda for teaching the simple knack of roasted potatoes, something I've never before had much luck with.

ROASTED POTATOES & RED ONION
Bookmark or print this recipe only
Hands-on time: 15 minutes to prep (can be done ahe…

Kitchen Parade Extra: Graham Cracker Toffee ◄

It's cookie baking week at my house since on Saturday, my friends will converge here for our annual cookie swap. What am I making? Probably these old-world lebkuchen.

Need a last-minute gift? Or a tasty addition to cookie plates for the neighbors? Or short on time? Make graham cracker toffee, so easy and delicious and different from standard cookie fare. And it freezes well so is a good make-ahead option too.

Other years I've made chocolatey-chocolatey gourmet mocha cookies and pretty cut-out frosty Christmas trees, archive columns now in the Kitchen Parade recipe box.

Day 254: Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta & Garlic ♥

Table Talk: "These are the BEST Brussels sprouts!"

No surprise, the recipe comes from StephenCooks who wields a magic culinary wand on fish to fowl and especially, to my taste, on vegetables. A Veggie Venture is frequently inspired by StephenCooks as seen here and here and for every-day, especially here.

But this one's a real winner.

The sprouts are halved and cored and twisted, then steamed and tossed in pancetta, garlic and basil with small splashes of balsamic vinegar, olive oil and hot sauce.

By design, I lightened the dish a tad and by accident, omitted the basil. Neither was missed but I suspect the basil would add a bright note.

This one IS a winner -- if Brussels sprouts are on your list, start here!

BRUSSELS SPROUTS with PANCETTA and GARLIC
StephenCooks' version
Hands-on time: 25 minutes to trim (can be done ahead of time), then 10 minutes
Time to table: About 45 minutes
Serves 4

Water to steam
1 pound large Brussels sprouts (see ALANNA's TIPS)

2 ounces thin-sliced…

Never Trust a Sneaky Mom

A Sneaky Mom, she just can't be trusted.

First she slips green and red and all nature of healthful vegetables into the innocent mouth of her very own unsuspecting child and then tells the Internet.

And then! She forwards a food blogger meme about Top 10 favorite foods but has the audacity to add a TWIST: No Vegetables Allowed!

(Might make someone just a tiny bit cranky. Except that it's all in fun, it IS all for the fun of it.)

So ... no vegetables. If life offered no vegetables (thank goodness it does) here's what I'd eat:

Oatmeal with peanut butter. London Indian take-away. Room service. Starbucks latte ice cream. Walleye from the Rainy. All Christmas cookies but especially my sister's shortbread. My Auntie Gloria's "coffee" (served after 5 ...). Tom's grilled mushrooms. The muesli from an otherwise forgettable little hotel in Zurich. Post-appetizer and pre-pudding Steak 'n' Shake at 3am. Clementines. Tomatoes. (Hey! Technically, tomatoe…

Day 253: Italian Wedding Soup

Poco Cocoa's Italian Wedding Soup post grabbed my attention last week. All those vegetables AND a way to use up leftover pesto!

It was filling and satisfying -- a sweet spot! -- on a cold, wintry day. Don't skip the pesto, it adds a needed flavor burst.

TIP: Substitute chayote (there's a picture here) for its summer-squash cousin zucchini whenever the cooking time is longer than a few minutes. Chayote holds its shape, color and flavor without the mush factor of zucchini.

For other soups made with piles of vegetables, see here in the Recipe Box.

ITALIAN WEDDING SOUP
Bookmark or print this recipe only
Hands-on time: 20 minutes
Time to table: 50 minutes (less if ingredients aren't frozen)
Makes 11 cups


6 cups broth (today, turkey broth leftover from Thanksgiving)

1 tablespoon olive oil (Poco Cocoa uses 2 tablespoons)
2 large carrots, diced
1 large onion, diced
2 ribs celery, diced

8 ounces frozen green beans
3 cups slow-roasted tomatoes, this is the Eat Local angle (or a 15-ounce c…

Day 252: Canned Vegetable Broth

"If you won't drink it, don't cook with it."

If it's true for wine, should it hold true for vegetable broth?

Ever since making Light Vegetable Stock, I've been wondering what a canned version would be like.

And much to my surprise, this Swanson's product isn't undrinkable. It has overtones of hay and undertones of something rooty. Most of all, however, it's salty-salty-salty.

Would I drink it? No. Would I cook with it? In a pinch.

And for those who aren't vegetarians, is there a convenience broth? I think so, the Swanson's 100% Natural Goodness recommended by Cook's Illustrated.

(c) Copyright 2005 Kitchen Parade

Day 251: Simple Broccoli & Chicken Stir Fry

Do you remember your very first dinner party? I do. (Can something so simple be called a dinner party? Read on ...)

I was home for two weeks before starting my first job out of university. The parents were away for the weekend with a neighbor couple so my sister and I invited their sons for supper and cooked ... spaghetti! But it was all quite festive because we did a big salad, garlic bread, the whole spaghetti-works. Sound like an occasion for cheap red wine? No way, we were all underage!

And then there was my second dinner party, just a few weeks later and happily tucked into my first apartment, two rooms and a tiny kitchen, the main room filled by a gangrene-green sofa and chair set that my folks had bought secondhand for their basement ten years before. (Secondhand. For the basement. Ten years before. Getting the picture?)

The night before the party, I cleaned the whole apartment, shopped for groceries and did all the prep work in exactly two hours. (Two hours!)

My dear Auntie Gl…

Day 250: Creamless Creamed Corn ♥

What? You mean creamed corn doesn't only come from a can? Really? Really truly??

When Singapore's Chubby Hubby posted this creamless creamed corn last month, I couldn't wait to try it. Could any fresh creamed corn live up to my kid memories of the sweetness of creamed corn stirred into mashed potatoes and mushed with meatloaf, what my mother told us was a 'deluxe'. (And oh, it was yummy, no doubt.)

This, however, is a grown-up creamed corn, assertive and tasting of summer heat and fields of grasshoppers. It's good, a real keeper, especially served over some grown-up garlic mashed potatoes with some grown-up chipotle-balsamic-arugula meatloaf. (That last? It exists only in my mind.)

If you like creamed vegetables, try the recipe for creamed spinach or even delicious creamed radishes and other creamed vegetable recipes.

CREAMLESS CREAMED CORN
Hands-on time: 15 minutes to start then occasional attention during the next 10 minutes
Time to table: 25 minutes
Serves 4

1/2 po…

Kitchen Parade Extra: Cranberry-Mac Morsels ◄

Already up to your elbows in sugar and butter and flour?

Don't miss these nutmeg-rich cranberry and macadamia nut cookies for they'll add welcome color and flavor to your holiday Christmas platters.

Cranberry-Mac Morsels are so good that two years ago, my family decided they were the best 'new' cookie of the year. And now you'll find them featured in this week's Kitchen Parade column.

Day 249: Sliced Brussels Sprouts ♥

After I suffered a bad batch of Brussels sprouts a few weeks ago, my friend Cindy wrote, "I grew up on frozen then overcooked Brussels sprouts. I did not like them. Even our dog wouldn't eat them. Then Gregg and I were in San Francisco and the special veggie was Brussels sprouts and the waiter assured us they were fresh and delicious and encouraged us to try them. We did and they WERE great!"

Tonight I cooked Cindy's simple sprouts and do absolutely agree: they are very good, not over-the-top fine-chocolate good but plain, simple fare that nourishes and satisfies.

Once again, however, the 15 minutes it takes to trim (and in this case then slice) the Brussels sprouts seems interminable on a weeknight. Next time, I'll definitely pull out the food processor for the slicing job.

SLICED BRUSSELS SPROUTS
Hands-on time: 15 minutes to trim/slice (can be done ahead of time), then about 30 minutes to cook, with only occasional attention needed
Time to table: 45 minutes
Serv…

Day 248: Spinach & Artichoke Gratin ♥

Isn'tthisgratinpretty?!Thephotographshowstheunbakedcasserolebutthecolorholdsprettywellintheoven,too.

It's a lighter version of one of seven vegetables at this year's Thanksgiving table but the red and green make it perfect for Christmas, too.

And it's perfect for family dinners:
Assembled in advance Zero fuss moving straight from the frig to the oven Zero fuss moving from the oven to the table
Healthful! Did I mention delicious? That too!
Some of the lightening came by accident when it turned out that the refrigerator's chunk of Parmesan was all rind and no cheese. Next time, I would include the Parmesan because I did miss some level of richness. That said, this was extraordinarily good as made, even without the cheese.

RECIPE for SPINACH & ARTICHOKE GRATINHands-on time: 20 minutes
Oven time: 25 minutes - 45 minutes (see ALANNA's TIPS)
Makes 8 cups
16 ounces frozen chopped spinach, cooked in salted water and drained

2 tablespoons unsalted butter (reduced from 8 tab…

Day 247: Celery & Apple Salad ♥

One of my very favorite salads on all of A Veggie Venture, a wintry mix of celery leaves, apples and a seductive lemon vinaigrette. Easy for a Weeknight Supper But Special Enough for Company. Low Carb. Weight Watchers Friendly. Easily converted to not just vegan, Vegan Done Real. Naturally Gluten Free. Easy adaptation to Whole30 Friendly.
WAY BACK IN 2005: Some times the simple is sublime. Celery and apples, such every-day ingredients. Mustard and honey and lemon juice, such pantry staples. The combination really works! It's got crunch. It's got freshness. It's got flavor. It's made its way to the table twice in a week. The first plate came sans walnuts and sans photo, the second plate with and with. Either way, this seasonal salad is a definite keeper and is especially appropriate for late fall and winter.

TIP: Watch for stalks of celery with lots of leaves. Mostly the packers/grocers cut off the leafy ends but some bags have more than others. The leaves are very t…