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Showing posts from May, 2007

Free Icon for Bloggers: Fresh from the Farmers Market

Two or three or more times a week, I trek to the farmers market. Here in St. Louis, that means any one of my favorite farmers markets.

To encourage all of us to seek out fresh produce from our hometown farmers markets, I commissioned an icon to help showcase fresh vegetables and fruits -- Meet Blush, the Sweet Tomato! -- and invite my fellow bloggers to adopt the icon, too.

[Many thanks to the talented Jeannette of Matchbox Creative aka Kickpleat from Everybody Likes Sandwiches for designing the icon. We all should blush as prettily as Blush!]

So yes, fellow bloggers, you are invited to use the icon in posts and places that feature fresh produce and other farmers market finds. Use it once, use it a hundred times, it's up to you.

It comes in a 400px, 125px and 100px sizes. You're free to use the icon as you see fit: in posts, in a sidebar, to link to a list of your own favorite farmers markets, anything creative you come up with that's related to farmers markets. Me, I plan to…

Kool-Aid Pickles ♥

Oh I just love crazy stuff like this! And the pickles are surprisingly good! Since the New York Times wrote about Kool-Aid dills a bit back, there's been lots of talk but to my knowledge, no one's actually MADE them.

The color's pretty wild, yes? And at an impromptu rained-out picnic on Sunday, it was great fun listening to people guess what might be flavoring the pickles. They all got 'orange' but none got so far as Kool-Aid.

(Does Kool-Aid translate across the world? It's a packet of powder, just sugar and artificial flavor and dye, marketed to kids. And for those of us of a certain age, it was "the" coveted drink of childhood, in the way soda/pop is now but which, at least for my family, was prohibitively expensive.)

KITCHEN NOTES Since the dill pickles I purchased were quite small, I hoped that the Kool-Aid color/taste would permeate a whole pickle -- no luck. So I cut them in half after two or three days. Be sure to stir the mixture once a day for e…

Thai Roasted Eggplant Salad ♥

The more I cook vegetables in new ways, the more amazed I become how much yet remains to be explored. Mexican vegetables? Asian vegetables? Indian vegetables? It's a whole new unexplored world that I think, yes, we shall call A World of Vegetables. (There are enough recipes, already, from various cuisines that I'll create a new section in the Recipe Box.) I'll work to limit (but not exclude) hard-to-find ingredients or suggest sources and substitutes when I know. But I'm excited about exploring entirely new flavor profiles and hope you'll enjoy the journey, too. Grab your culinary passport. This could be fun!

We'll start with Thai vegetables, inspired by a new cookbook's introduction to the vegetable section.

"Please do not tell the good people of Thailand that vegetables are good for them. They have no idea. They only reason they eat vegetables is because they like them. They like the way vegetables taste and the way they look. They like the way vegetab…

Kitchen Parade Extra: How to Make Rhubarb Jelly & Rhubarb Jam ♥

When my sister and I were girls, on hot June days, our Mom would send us with a bowl of sugar to the backstep where her rhubarb patch was within arms' reach. Ruby stalk by ruby stalk, we'd wipe off the most evident dirt with our fingers, then dip -- and dip and dip -- the rhubarb into the bowl to sweeten each tart biteful. When I was home last summer, I rescued the last bits of my Mom's Round-up ravaged rhubarb from the back step and planted it in my own garden. Some years must pass before my rhubarb plants will qualify as a patch but someday I'll sugar my very own rhubarb.

Rhubarb? It's almost as good, straight from the farmers market and this time of year, even, carefully picked over, the supermarket. This week's Kitchen Parade column is a kitchen lesson in how to make rhubarb jelly and rhubarb jam. In an hour, you'll have six or seven pints of rhubarb confection. Where's that column? In Kitchen Parade, of course!


Botanically, rhubarb is a vegetable. An…

Kalyn's Roasted Asparagus & Mushrooms ♥

Fresh spring asparagus and fresh mushrooms are a magical combinations, especially when their natural earthiness is accentuated by roasting, seasoned with no more than a little salt and pepper. Delicious.
~recipe & photo updated 2011~
~more recently updated recipes~
2007: Fans of the South Beach diet (which of course starts out as a diet for losing weight, then evolves into a healthful way to eat while maintain the new weight, much the same as Weight Watchers) either already do or should know about the great food blog Kalyn's Kitchen which is packed with weight loss tips, low-carb product recommendations and of course, South Beach recipes.

Kalyn regularly features vegetables so I am often inspired by her site. Still, isn't it funny that the two recipes I've felt most drawn to both feature mushrooms? Roasted Carrots and Mushrooms with Thyme was soooo good and so is Kalyn's roasted asparagus and mushrooms! This is a total keeper!

Eggplant Caviar

It's always fun to inaugurate a new cookbook, this time Chocolate and Zucchini: Daily Adventures in a Parisian Kitchen. It's a personal and amusing look into a fellow blogger's kitchen, the charming Clotilde Dusoulier, with both both recipes and photography all her own. It's doing very well -- at this writing, it's the #206 best-selling book on Amazon! Plus last week Clotilde appeared on the Today show!

And if you like A Veggie Venture, thank Clotilde. I'm quite sure that it was her blog, Chocolate & Zucchini and one of a couple of 'famous' blogs then and now, that was my own introduction to food blogging back in 2005.

For this easy appetizer, I experimented with three different kinds of eggplant. Two small-ish globe eggplants (a pound apiece, not pictured) yielded less than a cup of eggplant after roasting and removing the seeds. (What's a globe eggplant? It's the 'standard' eggplant, at least my experience in American supermarkets.…

Asparagus Omelet with Remoulade Sauce ♥

A spring treat, roasted asparagus in an omelet, topped with a French sauce called "rémoulade" [pronounced ray-muh-LAHD].
A complaint arrived this week. "Don't you cook anything except asparagus?" Well. Um. No. Not really. At least not right now, while the local asparagus is so completely gorgeous. Gorging on one vegetable during its short season is a twist that accompanies the practice of enjoying vegetables in their season, when they're at their prime and taste the best -- and often, the least expensive, too. While supermarket imports mask the seasons, eating plant foods when they're in season creates an entirely different sense of food and time passage.

And that, my dear complainer, is why here you won't see tomatoes until July and winter squash until October. And in May? Yes, it's asparagus time! (Plus, I'm told, the local strawberries will make their first appearances at St. Louis farmers markets this morning! No more grapefruit!)

BUT:…

Girlie Radish Salad ♥

A warm welcome to 'vegetable lover' visitors from Simply Recipes, one of my own favorite websites for recipes. Here on A Veggie Venture, you'll find asparagus recipes galore, for sure -- and don't miss the gorgeous raw asparagus salad from earlier this week! But if there's something else in your frig, check the Alphabet of Vegetables for ideas. Chances are, you'll find the perfect recipe there, too. Look around, let me know what you think. I'm happy you're here! ~ The 'Veggie Evangelist', Alanna

Oops, so there is no radish called 'girlie'. But aren't the colors -- pink, purple, red and white -- just gorgeous and ever so teenage girlie?

I set out for a recipe that would preserve the beautiful colors but still cook the radishes. Call my search half successful: the radishes cooked too long in the microwave too long; less time would likely preserve more color.

The microwave? Yes! These radishes are cooked in the microwave! And the taste is…

Celeriac Remoulade ♥

I can't say I set out to make homemade rémoulade.

What? You know, [ray-muh-LAHD], the 'classic French sauce made by combining mayonnaise (usually homemade) with mustard, capers and chopped gherkins, herbs and anchovies'. Thank you, Epicurious!

Heaven knows, I'm happy with shortcuts. But inspired by My French Cuisine's recipe for a celeriac salad recipe bookmarked ages ago, nothing could have been easier!

Recording the recipe here, I see that the chopped hard-boiled egg should be added AFTER the other ingredients are whizzed in the blender. Oops. But I'll tell you: what I loved most about this completely delicious sauce was the underlying egg flavor. I'd repeat the same "error" in a heartbeat.

And if you can't find or aren't interested in celeriac (aka celery root) don't worry. The sauce is itself is simply gorgeous. Essentially it's a mustard-y homemade mayonnaise. It was completely delicious over a light-supper asparagus omelet but it…

Gorgeous Raw Asparagus Salad ♥ A Simple Asparagus Recipe

Today's vegetable salad: An easy salad, made with thin spears of raw, yes raw! asparagus, then tossed in a simple vinaigrette. Low carb. Weight Watchers 1 point.
Regular readers know that a certain 'veggie evangelist' is prone to rhapsodizing about vegetables. But -- oh my -- how did I ever miss raw asparagus?

The inspiration for raw asparagus came from the lovely food blog Kitchenography, who recently made a mâche salad with raw asparagus, pistachios and Parmesan (how great does that sound?!).

I didn't follow that recipe nor any other, but instead tossed together my own raw asparagus salad and then slipped it into arugula and mixed greens from the Maplewood farmers market. (Thank you, Schlaffly Beer, for hosting a mid-week market! For St. Louisans, it's held on Wednesdays, 4 - 7 pm at the Schlaffly microbrewery in downtown Maplewood.) But I'm ever grateful to Julie for turning me onto the idea of raw asparagus.


This raw asparagus salad is kid friendly! Here's …

Asparagus Eggs Benedict ♥

It takes some juggling to keep all the pots moving for asparagus eggs benedict. I'd recommend a helper and/or cooking for just a few. But still, it's decidedly delicious, a great way to cook skinny spears of asparagus and use up homemade hollandaise.

The asparagus were so fresh and so small that once chopped, they quick-quick sauteed in butter in just a flash, maybe five minutes. Even if you're not interested in the fuss and calories of English muffins, Canadian bacon, poached eggs and hollandaise, still, try the asparagus all by themselves -- very very good!

WEIGHT WATCHERS ENGLISH MUFFINS
On a lark, I tried the Weight Watchers brand of English muffins. Harrrummph. They were cardboard-tasting AND pricey -- $3.59 vs $1.79 for Trader Joe's whole wheat English muffins (I love these!) and $1.99 for Bay's English muffins (long-time favorites). The only upside is that the Weight Watchers muffins add up to 1 point, the others to 2. But the real difference is minimal: 30 cal…

Celebrating the Sweet Strawberries of Spring ♥

My great-grandfather kept a strawberry patch of local acclaim in a sunny corner spot. In my mind, he bends low behind a white picket fence, wearing dusky dungarees and a buttoned-up shirt. His hands are gnarled with arthritis but he tends the plants with deftness. Some perfect day in late spring, he brushes soil from the first berry of the season, lifting it to the sun for visual inspection, then pop! it stains his lips as he begins the ultimate flavor test.

And so the three quick and easy strawberry desserts featured in this week's Kitchen Parade column are worthy of the very best strawberries, the ones plucked straight from the lovingly tended plants, the local berries found at the farmers market.

Yes, three recipes, all simple. A gorgeous strawberry banana chocolate -- yes, all three! -- crumble that roasts into fruity chocolatey goodness, each flavor distinct, the blend something beyond measure. And my variation of the classic strawberry fool, just berries and cream spiked wit…

Quick Salad: Celeriac Slaw ♥

Talk about a serendipity salad! This simple salad made from raw celeriac is delicious!

At Soulard Market, the local offerings are slim at the moment, thanks to four days of very hard-freeze in April. To make their trips worthwhile, Soulard's real farmers are adding imported produce to their own limited supplies (unlike the Market's many produce vendors who sell only outside produce year-round).

Kruse Gardens is one of my favorite stops at Soulard, a regular source of organic, locally grown and unusual vegetables in St. Louis. I really enjoy Earl and Arlene (whose 50th wedding anniversary I was happy to share last year!) and son Steve, who for 13 years has greeted me with a big smile. And I'm struck by how different the Kruse's add-ons are different from the produce vendors' regular fare.

Take big knobs of celeriac. (Yes, you'll want to! Grab one now!) They're fat and plump and alive-looking, despite their rough, knobby exterior -- compared to the celeriac a…

Steamed Leeks with Chopped Eggs ♥

Cleaning the leeks, I wondered, what does raw leek taste like? So I tasted a bit: Whoooah, talk about serious onion flavor, not entirely pleasant.

But cooked? What a difference! Steamed leeks are sweet and buttery and entirely delicious, with great leek flavor but not onion-y at all.

LEEKY HUMOR True story. From my dear Auntie Karen, who's inspired and encouraged and occasionally butt-kicked me since I was seven and happily, my Uncle Ed married her into the family. (Imagine a seven-year old's swoon at the romance of a young, hip and oh-so-cool new aunt sweeping the floors of a Michigan town hall in a wedding dress.) I digress. She shared this in April: "A short note about my own veggie adventure. I wasn't that familiar with leeks, so decided to give them a try. I went to my grocery, found leeks. One bunch was small and one bunch was large, and both were the same price. So, if I'm paying 2.00 per package I'm going to get the best. The veggie guy wasn't aro…

Asparagus with Blender Hollandaise ♥ A Spring Classic

A rarity around here, what's special about today's recipe isn't the vegetable asparagus itself but what goes on the asparagus. It's hollandaise, one of the classic French sauces which, no doubt, you've had before, it's the sauce that gets draped over eggs Benedict. Drizzled over asparagus, hollandaise is a seasonal spring classic. Here's how to make hollandaise sauce in, of all things, a blender! Low Carb. Vegetarian. Naturally Gluten Free. Whole30 Friendly.
Aiii, my friends. Bow down to the elixir of spring that is hollandaise, the lemon goodness that drapes itself over asparagus and is so captivatingly delicious that you may be tempted to sip it from a glass in order to savor every last buttery drop. Yes, homemade hollandaise sauce is that good!

So how did a home cook known for shortcuts set off to make hollandaise, one of the five sauces of French cuisine? Well, it is the classic sauce for fresh asparagus. Shouldn't this Veggie Evangelist worth he…

St. Louis Restaurant Reviews: Liluma for a Late-Night Bite

Welcome to the latest in an occasional series of St. Louis restaurant reviews and sound-offs from my friend, the Foodie Patootie. It's an A- recommendation for Liluma in the Central West End. Enjoy!

After attending an evening lecture, my husband and I recently stopped in at Liluma in the CWE for a late night bite and were pleased to learn that they indeed offer light bites as well as entrees. Diners are welcome – and encouraged – to eat as they please and need not feel guilty when ordering a couple of appetizers to serve as the entire meal.

My husband ordered the Liluma Soup: this night it was a delicately Smoked Tomato Bisque ($5) with a swirl of basil pesto and it was awesome. That was followed by a great-tasting Tagliatelle Ragu Bolognese ($7) consisting of pasta ribbons with a very thin, light, yet rich (if you can imagine this combination possible) sauce of tomatoes and ground beef.

I enjoyed my Crispy Vegetable Spring Rolls ($5) which were hot and crispy on the outside and fill…

Bubble & Squeak ♥

A Veggie Venture is hardly known for 'haute cuisine'. But some time in the last few months, I recognized -- then accepted, soon relished -- that my food style is that of a home cook, a curious home cook perhaps, a Midwestern home cook likely, but always, a home cook.

In part, the understanding comes from friendship with Karen from FamilyStyle Food, who in her early years of cooking, aspired to be the next Alice Waters. (Alice Waters? If you've not heard of her, as I hadn't til the last three or four years, you may be a home cook too!) Last month, Karen shared how she's always wanted to cook a suckling lamb on a spit -- and I realized it's never once occurred to me that one might roast a whole lamb, let alone a suckling lamb, let alone to make it a life dream. It made me laugh ...

And it makes me realize that even when we're curious about new foods, actively seeking out new recipes, new cuisines, even when we stretch ourselves with new ingredients and new flav…