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

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

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 s

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 tabl

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 foo

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

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.)