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Showing posts from July, 2007

Insalata Caprese ♥ A Simple Summer Treat

Slices of perfect summer tomatoes and fresh mozzarella, drizzled with good olive oil and scattered with fresh basil. Gorgeous!
When I gushed over the taste of the summer's first tomatoes last month, several commenters suggested 'insalata caprese' as a simple way to revel in perfectly ripe home-grown tomatoes. "I've done that", I thought but then wondered, "Have I?" No, not really.

You see, way back on Day 87 (yes, I really did count each day during A Veggie Venture's first year, when I cooked a vegetable in a new way every single day, note to self: how mad was that?) I sliced tomato and fresh mozzarella and then drizzled it with good vinegar -- very good! delicious, in fact -- but not insalata caprese, which is drizzled with good olive oil, here, a truly gorgeous Meyer lemon olive oil from O Olive Oil.

So what is fresh mozzarella and how is it different? If you're new to fresh mozzarella, boy, are you in for a real treat! Mostly, we know mozzar…

Kitchen Parade Extra: Herbed Ricotta with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes ♥

From this week's Kitchen Parade column, a great summer appetizer.

'Got milk? We all recognize the slogan from the dairy industry’s ads featuring celebrities with milk-mustached upper lips. But here’s a new version. “Got milk? Got ricotta.”'

Get the recipe for Herbed Ricotta with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes -- made with your very own homemade ricotta -- at Kitchen Parade.


SO WHAT IS KITCHEN PARADE, EXACTLY? Kitchen Parade is the food column that my Mom started writing for our family newspaper when I was a baby. Today it's published in my hometown newspapers in suburban St. Louis and features 'fresh seasonal recipes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences'.

Where A Veggie Venture is 'pure food blog', full of experimentation and exploration, Kitchen Parade features recipes a modern cook can count on. All are thoroughly tested by a home cook in a home kitchen and many are family and reader favorites. All recipes feature easy-to-find ingredients…

Romano Beans in Butter-Braised Garlic ♥

Who knew that garlic could turn so sweet? The garlic cooks on a low flame in butter for nearly 45 minutes, seemingly doing nothing for the longest time, then quite quickly turning a sizzly golden color, all the while filling the air with gorgeous garlic aroma, then transforming into something I'm tempted to call 'garlic candy', sweet and yet still garlicky, not crunchy, the texture of, say, licorice. Garlic Magic!!

The beans are the flattish romano beans that I fell for last year -- ha! romano beans must really scream for garlic, check out Garlicky Romano Beans, especially if you limit saturated fat -- but any fresh green bean will do, I think.

NUTRITION NOTES The full 3 tablespoons of butter provides needed volume to braise the garlic. But it's also enough to 'dress' three or even four pounds of beans. For just one pound, it pools unappetizingly in the serving dish. Next time I'll set aside a couple of tablespoons of the braising butter for, say, a mean sal…

Grilled Eggplant with Balsamic Honey Syrup ♥

Slowly but surely, I'm finally grooving with the grill, attacking the easy stuff first. Grilled corn in the husk. Now grilled eggplant. How're my grill marks, not bad, eh?!

It was late when I turned on the grill, then looked for a recipe for eggplant I picked up over the weekend. The thing I love most about Everyday Vegetables by Jack Bishop (thanks again, Kalyn!) is that reliably, at the very last minute, it's (1) easy to find a recipe that (2) appeals with (3) the ingredients are already on hand and (4) cooks in a flash. Did I mention delicious, too? That goes without saying ... plus I'm pleased to add to a small but growing collection of grilled vegetable recipes.

This, for sure, fits my definition of real food, the favorite recipes and techniques and sources you turn to again and again. If there's anything that I strive to share with A Veggie Venture and Kitchen Parade, my published food column, it's real food.

NUTRITION NOTES It took a full two tablespoons of…

Kitchen Parade Extra: Sengalese Soup ♥

From a 2003 Kitchen Parade column, published today online for the first time:

"Sengalese Soup fits busy lives. It makes up in minutes and keeps in the frig for several days ready to serve warm with bread on a chilly evening or cold with a crunchy salad some steamy summer night."

Sound like a recipe for your life? Get the recipe for Sengalese Soup at Kitchen Parade.

THE HEART OF THE MATTER Lucullian Delights is collecting heart-healthy recipes, this month featuring "waterlife" -- made with shrimp, low-fat milk and just-slightly sweetened with natural honey and corn, Sengalese Soup is my proud entry!


SO WHAT IS KITCHEN PARADE, EXACTLY? Kitchen Parade is the food column that my Mom started writing for our family newspaper when I was a baby. Today it's published in my hometown newspapers in suburban St. Louis and features 'fresh seasonal recipes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences'.

Where A Veggie Venture is 'pure food blog', fu…

Braised Shanghai Bok Choy

Yes, I'm on a bok choy kick, it happens! (See yesterday's soy-glazed baby bok choy which includes photos of baby bok choy and baby Shanghai bok choy.)

But five minutes of prep? you can't beat that!

This is a super-easy way to cook the 'real bok choy', which can be somewhat fibrous. This means it is often stir-fried, where small pieces and high, fast heat break down the fibers.

Instead, here, the braising technique uses liquid (here, a mix of coconut milk and water colored and flavored with turmeric) and time (a good 30 minutes, unattended except to monitor the temperature) to soften the stalks for consumption. Don't expect the coconut flavor to permeate the bok choy, however -- at least this didn't, perhaps because I used a low-fat version?

Anyway, this is good enough, a useful 'basic' recipe that really lets the bok choy itself shine through.


FROM THE ARCHIVES See the Recipe Box for a growing collection of bok choy recipes.

2006 | Fattoush, the Lebanese …

Soy-Glazed Baby Bok Choy ♥

An introduction to two kinds of bok choy, including regular bok choy and Shanghai bok choy and their baby bok choy variations.
Last month, I cooked boy choy for the first time - at least I thought so. Turns out, that bok choy was actually Chinese cabbage, a variant for sure but also decidedly different, more like Napa cabbage or even romaine lettuce. So when both baby bok choy and baby Shanghai bok choy showed up in the produce section at my neighborhood international market, I decided to tackle bok choy, for real this time.

And I love the concept of this recipe, just skillet-browned bok choy which finishes cooking in a soy-vinegar glaze. It's good -- very good, even -- but the soy overpowers the flavor of the bok choy itself. So this recipe is perhaps suited for someone who loves bok choy and is looking for a new way to cook it, versus a neophyte like myself who's getting acquainted for the first time. (Or you could just use about a tiny splash of soy sauce.)

Grilled Sweet Corn with Spiced Lime Butter ♥

Oh so easy! Oh so tasty! Oh so perfect for an all-grill meal! (And so nice to add to a small but growing collection of grilled vegetable recipes!)

First soak the corn, still in its husk, in water for a half hour. Leave the silk intact. You don't want to break the husk's "seal", plus the silk will peel away easily once the corn is grilled. (We tried both ways, just to see.) Then grill the corn right in the husks. Peel, drizzle with the spiced lime butter and ... dig in!

Delicious!

NUTRITION NOTES This is a definite indulgence, for a vegetable. But if you've got lovely picked-this-morning sweet corn, it's worth it.


FROM THE ARCHIVES See the Recipe Box for all the recipes for sweet corn. If you like to cook vegetables in foil on the grill, this is a favorite from my cousin Diane, barbecue vegetables oriental.

A YEAR AGO THIS WEEK Perfect Rhubarb Pie ... "three perfect rhubarb pies in all of two weeks. The first pie, we groaned. The second pie, we ate in silence…

Microwave Beets ♥

What a huge time-saver. If you love beets, you'll want to learn how easy it is to
cook beets in the microwave!
Two lessons for the 'price' of one today.
Yes, the wily world of vegetables includes creamy white beets in addition to beet-red, pale pink and golden beets.
Yes, beets can be cooked in the microwave!#1 is a mere novelty but #2 is decidedly useful since cooking beets in the oven takes 60 - 90 minutes.

But in the microwave, cooking beets takes just 20 - 30 minutes, completely unattended except for turning. What a time-saver, what an energy-saver. (Does that, um, make these white beets, ummmm, 'green'?)

These beets were delicious, sliced hot from the microwave and topped with a pinprick of butter and a few fresh chives. I may never roast beets in the oven again.

And the technique is especially convenient when cooking for one or two. Need to cook just one beet or two beets? No problem.

Kitchen Parade Extra: Ratatouille Omelettes ♥

From this week's Kitchen Parade column:

"Last week I chose my words carefully with a 13-year old. “Do you like rat-a-too-ee?” Not unexpectedly, he was certain I meant this summer’s Disney hit movie and flashed a grin."

How do you nearly put tears in the eyes of a 13-year old? Read the rest of this week's column.


So what about the first foodie movie of the summer? (Still to come are No Reservations and another whose preview I saw before Ratoutille but looks as immemorable as its name, which, right, I can't remember.) Great great fun, for sure!

And for a couple of weeks my 2002 recipe for ratatouille (only column #2, that's how much I love this stuff) has been considerable attention. And it should! Ratatouille (and isn't it great that the world will now know how to pronounce rat-a-too-tee?) may 'sound' fancy but it's just a few vegetables.


SO WHAT IS KITCHEN PARADE, EXACTLY? Kitchen Parade is the food column that my Mom started writing for our fa…

Cowboy Coleslaw ♥

So how pretty is this?!! It's just grated carrot, red cabbage and green onion in an otherwise simple slaw ...

The recipe comes from my cousin Laura who's mother of four, so while I haven't asked, you just know it's kid-friendly! I do know my fifteen-year old nephew had seconds! (All this to explain the recipe name 'Cowboy Coleslaw', which will appeal to kids, versus what I first intended to call it, Colorful Carrot & Cabbage Slaw, which I figure appeals more to the Moms of the world ... I tell you what, call it what you like, you know your audience.)

NEXT TIME I'll use white balsamic vinegar so the carrot doesn't stain.

NUTRITION NOTES I found the sunflower seeds optional -- and without them, the slaw drops from from one to zero Weight Watchers points! For the record, in part this is because the portion size is measured on the basis of a half cup of slaw, where recipes on A Veggie Venture nearly always assume a pound of vegetables divided four ways. TH…

Zucchini Carpaccio ♥

A lesson in simplicity, no recipe required. Zucchini Carpaccio is no more than thin-thin slices of small, very fresh zucchini drizzled with very good olive oil and vinegar and sprinkled with good salt. A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. How amazing? It impressed a fifteen-year old boy.
"This is lunch?" asked an unimpressed fifteen-year old when encountering nothing but small plates of thin-sliced zucchini on the kitchen table. But with a go-along-to-get-along attitude, my nephew Alex attacked the zucchini and quickly allowed, "This is good, really really good."

For me, it was a lesson in the power of simplicity, how superior ingredients create the possibility of "so much more from a whole lot less". The lesson comes courtesy of the craftsmanship and generosity of the folks at O Olive Oil. These thin slices of baby zucchini are dressed with nothing more than (really really) good olive oil, (really really) good vinegar and a sprinkling of Maldon salt.

Even the 15-year old was…

Cucumbers in Vinegar ♥

An old-fashioned cucumber salad, just cucumbers and a few pretty-pretty radishes in vinegar seasoned with no more than a little salt. So fresh and summery!
You know how one good deed often begets another? Danielle of Habeas Brulee made my Nana's cucumbers with sour cream, then called up her own grandmother for her cucumber salad recipe -- so for me, there was no not making Danielle's own Ima's cucumbers with vinegar! (Hi, Ima!) Both are simple delights, perfect for a summer table.

I was short on onion so substituted radishes - nice color, yes?! The Benriner (also called a Japanese mandoline) made quick work of slicing though next time I'll set the blade for slightly thicker slices for a texture more like salad and less like pickle. But it's easy-easy to slice cucumbers thin with a sharp knife so a Benriner is definitely optional here.

Life Beyond Lemons: Cooking & Food Allergies

How do you bake without wheat flour? How do you forgo milk and cheese and chicken and turkey and almonds and pineapple and papaya and avocado and heavens! green beans?

Food blogging has opened my eyes to the challenges and successes of cooking gluten-free. But when our very own Gluten-Free Goddess Karina learned that she faces a whole host of food allergies -- oh my, what a list -- it took me aback.

It's one thing to choose to give up meat and dairy. It's another thing entirely to be forced to give up foods from which you've drawn both sustenance and comfort, in order to regain your well-being, your very life.

Yes, it must be done. But. Really. Now. How do you live without the brightness of lemon?

For whatever reason, it's Karina's allergy to lemons that has got me thinking the hardest. I keep a half dozen lemons on the counter at the ready at all times. Now, thanks to Karina, each time I pick one up, I caress the waxy skin, I breathe in the lemon scent, I take a mome…