Friday, August 29, 2008

Recipe Index 2008

Lucky Fruit Salad (St. Pat's Day)
Lemony Couscous Salad
Classic Potato Salad
Tangy Kohlrabi Slaw
Perfect Peach Summer Side
Panzanella Salad
Thai Summer Salad
Amaranth Salad

Side Dishes
Roasted Whole Pumpkin with Gruyere
Carrot and Quinoa Biriyana
Apple, Sausage and Sage Stuffing
Cauliflower, Chard and Leek Gratin
Cranberry Applesauce

Winter Risotto
Balsamic-Glazed Carrots
Sesame Kale
Polenta Cakes with Sun-dried Tomato and Spinach
Caramelized Onions
Roasted Summer Vegetables with Tomato-Herb Pesto
Collard Greens and Bacon
Zucchini Bacon Fritters
Beet Green Gratin
Caramelized Onion and Chard Saute
Fava Beans with Pecorino Romano
Curried Eggplant and Long Beans
Squash Blossom Quesadillas
Carrot Orange Souffle
Honey Sage Sweet Potato Pasta

Main Courses

Meatball Stroganoff
Beef Braised in Red Wine
Halubki (Stuffed Cabbage Rolls)
Pumpkin Gnocchi with Walnut Cream Sauce
Lamb and Lentil Stew
White and Wheat Pizza
Black-Eyed Peas and Smoked Ham Hock
Roasted Vegetables, Lamb and Couscous
Healthy Chicken Nuggets
Healthy Shepard's Pie
Turkey and Noodles
Lamb Chops with Blackberry-Balsamic Sauce
Spring Green Pasta (St. Pat's Day)
Ricotta Gnocchi with Asparagus, Peas and Green Onions
Guinness, Caramelized Onion, and Cheddar Burgers

Coconut Curry Pumpkin Soup
Pumpkin, Lentil and Carrot Soup
Pumpkin White Cheddar Soup
Vegetable Soup, How to Make Broth-Based Soups
Cauliflower, Carrot and Greens Soup, How to Make Cream Soups
Fennel, Potato and Leek Soup
Carrot Soup with Coriander Two Ways

Shirred Eggs
Ginger Banana Oatmeal Pancakes
Banana Peanut Butter Smoothie
Orange Brioche French Toast with Bananas Foster
Breakfast Panini


Carrot Raisin Cupcakes
Coconut Cardamom Tapioca
Chocolate Coconut Tapioca
Cherry Wine Turnovers
Chocolate Beet Cake


Broccoli Herb Pesto
Maple-Sage Reduction Sauce
Brown Butter Sage Sauce
Spinach Pasta
Fig Balsamic Dressing

How We Became Brazilian

In mid-August, our area holds an Ethnic Enrichment Festival. As we are Euromutts around our household, we can’t really claim any nationality than that big melting pot of “American.” Thus, we were honored when our Brazilian friends offered us a shot at being “honorary Brazilians.”

As far as I can tell, being Brazilian means chopping lots of tomatoes, onions and parsley for vinaigrette to accompany the churrascaria, or grilled meat. It meant long lines of people waiting to be served a plate of collard greens, rice and the national dish of Brazil, feijoada, which we had helped prepare the week before. Feijoada is a black bean and meat stew, historically a “food of the people” making use of such meats as hocks, pig ears even and trimmings. We used ham ham hocks, pork loin and sausage, however. This is definitely a recipe I will try and recreate on the site soon.

Even our child got into the act by helping stamp passports and even appearing in Brazilian dress in a parade and fashion show. We were all pretty tired at the end of the weekend, it’s not easy serving 100-200 people a day with a small crew.

We did take a break from the cooking to watch the Brazilian dance and martial arts team perform. The collective moves, called capoeira, are a unique choreography somewhere between jiu jitsu, acrobatics and break dancing set to the rhythm of drums and singing.

In all, 39 countries were represented. It was an amazing feeling to look out over the crowd and see faces of all kinds, equally represented, together, all in celebration of our diversity. It was exactly the kind of event you want to share with your child, even if you have to be adopted into a new culture to experience it!

Over the course of the festival, we became good friends with our neighbors, Scotland and India. The heavenly smell of curry filled my days, while the comfort of our Scottish friends’ “all grassfed, natural” beef was on the other side. I had no worries about what to eat, even venturing out for Peruvian ceviche, Indonesian coconut milk and other delicacies.

As the event came to a close, we found ourselves sharing food with our neighbors, promising to request booths next to each other the following year, and trading emails. It was sad to pack up and leave.

They say when a child is born, she is a child of the world. Any language spoken, any culture surrounding her becomes hers. What a gift if would be if we could all remain that open, to always be a child of the world, embracing one another’s differences and celebrating as one.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Beetcake: A Kinda Tribute to George Carlin

Off down the hall, I hear my child "reading." She's three, okay, so not really reading, but sitting with books in bed until she winds down and will go to sleep. She does not like to go to sleep. I used to think this was my fault. I tried all the parenting book solutions. Nothing worked.

I realize now that the situation is my fault, but it's not something I have done as a parent. It's genetic. I never went to bed either. Indeed, I got up so many times in a night, that my parents locked me in my room.

Which explains a lot.

It doesn't explain what Beetcake is or what it has to do with George Carlin. Let me explain.

George Carlin, may he rest in peace, had this great routine called "A Place for My Stuff." Somewhere in the long rant about having to have more stuff to put your stuff in, he worked in a bit about cleaning out the fridge and running across something so old, you can no longer tell what it is. "Is it meat? Is it cake? Maybe, it's MEATCAKE."

Which rhymes with beet cake. Which was supposed to be beet brownies, but the recipe seems to defy me in every attempt to make it brownies. Three bites into the current version, the moist, dark chocolately cake goodness, I realized to hell with brownies, it's a good cake.

It is NOT, however, a deceptively delicious cake. No. I did not puree the beets, friends. There is no vegetable sneaking around this place. This is most definitely beetcake flecked with red bits and all.

Sure, you could lie to yourself and claim the health benefits of dark chocolate, or using half the sugar because of the sweetness of the beets, or even the whole vegetable-in-my-dessert must be healthy game. You could. But that would be deceptive.

This is just good. And a good way for any beetphobes to use up those beets in the CSA bag.

You Can Beet Chocolate Cake

Ah, frosting. I hate frosting. Strange but true. I will only eat real butter cream, whipped cream, cream cheese frosting, or ganache. Use this honey-chocolate ganache to top the cake. Because that grocery store pure-sugar-shortening-crap is nasty and you deserve better.

One bite. Ask yourself: Is it beet? Is it cake? Maybe, it's BEETCAKE. Farewell, Mr. Carlin. Thanks for the laughs.

Dark Chocolate-Honey Ganache
Looking for this recipe? It will be part of an upcoming book with Ali at Cleaner Plate Club.

Need more "Vegetable as Dessert?"
Trust me, it's all good, no sneaky:
Chocolate-Zucchini Bread
Carrot-Raisin Cupcakes
Vanilla-Sweet Potato Pie with Pecan-Brown Sugar Crust

This post is part of the weekly Carnival of Recipes.

Congrats to Charlotte Hume!

Great Big Veg Challenge is now published. Look for a recipe by yours truly in the kale section!

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Weekend Herb Blogging: Thai Summer Salad

We were at the market today. As we do each Saturday, we walked the tables, looking at who has the best this or that today. I always take a moment to pause at the table run by a local Thai family. It's from them that I first learned about such beautiful greens like flowering bok choy and deep crimson-purple amaranth leaves.

Today, the table held Thai eggplants, small green globes, mottled with white. There were also herbs and lemongrass, Thai basil, and elegant long, pointed greens known as water spinach. Alongside these exotic vegetables were also long beans, basically foot-plus long green beans (shown in the photo with regular green beans for comparison). I had no plans to cook anything Asian for the weekend, but the produce won me over.

"I'll have some long beans, water spinach, and these eggplants," I said. Kicking myself for not getting the tiny, fiery peppers as well. A lovely Thai woman turned to me.

"Oh," she said, "you must cook Thai food." She was giving me far more credit than I deserve.

Really, I don't, but I have a book and some ideas, I was hoping maybe she would give me a few tips. I just said, "You know, if I don't try new things, I'll miss out on too much." She smiled.

When we got home, I pulled out the one book I have, Thailand Vegetarian Table. I looked up water spinach first and then long beans. Then, I spotted a salad recipe that I could make work for both. I substituted what I had to, and used everything I could. The salad turned out really beautiful — and all in season as well.

The long beans were a nice surprise. They have a crisp, green flavor that I loved even more than regular green beans. I will buy these again. You can substitute regular green beans and even skip the spinach or use lettuces if you cannot find these ingredients.

Thai Summer Salad
Looking for this recipe? It will be part of an upcoming book with Ali at Cleaner Plate Club.

This week's Weekend Herb Blogging is hosted by Dil Se.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

The Official Word on Kids' Menus? Bad News

The Center for Science in the Public Interest just published a report detailing the nutrition and caloric content of kids' meals from 13 major chains. The result? An astounding NINETY-THREE percent of the 1,474 meal options exceeded the caloric limit of 430 calories for a child's meal. The 430 is based on one-third of a the recommended daily allowance of calories for a child aged four to eight.

Worst options:
  • Chili’s kids' meal comprised of country-fried chicken crispers, cinnamon apples, and chocolate milk boasts 1,020 calories, and another of their offerings comprised of cheese pizza, homestyle fries, and lemonade has 1,000 calories. 94 percent of Chili's kids' meal options have too many calories.
  • Burger King “Big Kids” meal with a double cheeseburger, fries, and chocolate milk has 910 calories
  • Sonic's “Wacky Pack” has grilled cheese, fries, a slushie and 830 calories.
  • KFC's “Laptop Meals” with popcorn chicken, baked beans, biscuit, Teddy Grahams, and fruit punch has 940 calories.
  • For KFC, Sonic, Jack-in-the-Box, Chick-fil-A, and Taco Bell, ALL meal options exceeded caloric allowance.
  • Popular chains such as McDonald's and Wendy's were also high on calories. 93 percent of the kids' meals at these chains exceed the recommended allowance.
Better option?
  • Subway, but only one-third of their menu items for kids fit the bill, partially because the chain does not offer soft drinks with kids' meals. The better meal options there include a mini-sub, juice box and apple slices.
Best option?
  • Feed them the good stuff at home. Of course.
Avoid at All Costs:
  • Applebee’s, T.G.I. Friday’s, Outback Steakhouse, Olive Garden, Red Lobster, and IHOP do not disclose nutrition information even if you ask for it. That's never a good sign.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Tomato Fest with a Recipe for Great Panzanella

Under the heading of "more ways to torture your family on a weekend," add a trip to Tomato Fest. Brutal heat advisory, but at least the event did not start until evening, and there was a breeze. It's full-on tomato season here, sorry Rachel!

The event featured an heirloom tomato tasting, some local chefs preparing tomato dishes including the best bloody mary (FRESH tomato juice) I have ever had, tomato soup with bruschetta and goat cheese, and this incredible Panzanella salad that I duplicated the next day at home. Recipe is at the bottom of this post.

I finished the weekend with my own Tomato Fest with 15 lbs. of heirlooms on hand, making the salad, a batch of Ratatouille, and fresh spaghetti sauce, and homemade salsa all on Sunday. I still have 2 lbs. of cherry tomatoes to prepare somehow.

These are hoop houses. Using these tents allow the farmers to extend the growing season here. For us, it means tomatoes in June through November, instead of just July-September.

The houses contain also peppers, raspberries, squash and other crops.

Panzanella Salad
Looking for this recipe? It will be part of an upcoming book with Ali at Cleaner Plate Club.

Yes, these are vineyards ... Nice view for the Midwest.

Nice Rack. And the Cheese Was Good, Too.

In some kind of sado-masochistic frenzy, I have been signing our little family on for farm tour events — in the blistering 95-105-degree heat.

This little excursion was up to a sheep farm an hour away. The farm was celebrating the launch of its cheese-making production. The event offered cheese tastings of fresh and aged cheeses. I was so busy eating, I forgot to photograph the cheese.

They also offered, seriously, RACKS of lamb. It's good to be ewe. If it isn't ewe, you end up on the grill. And, might I add, mighty tasty as well. A range of appetizers as well, using the cheeses, and for dessert, a dark chocolate selection that used the sheep's milk.

It was worth the trip to hear first hand the rather emotional greeting from the two women farmers. One gave up a medical career, risked her family's finances to begin an eight-year journey to this moment. A journey that began with only 10 sheep, milking them by hand, under a tent in the middle of the field.

The cheese is all-natural, with the ewes being fed 95 percent on grass. The farm will go 100% grassfed once the farmers have seeded the right mix of grasses in their pasture. Thus, sheep farming involves a fair bit of "grass farming" as well.

I guess if there is a price to pay for dragging your kid to farm tours and encouraging a palate, I paid for it on the way home.

From the backseat, "There's mud on my flip-flop!"

"That's okay, Honey. We'll clean them up at home."

"I'm tasting the mud!"

"Uh, no, we were at a SHEEP farm! That might not be mud. No tasting!"

Too late. For those who wish your three-year-old were a more adventurous eater, people, this is the other side. It ain't always pretty.

What's for Lunch? Lunch Packing Tips

School will be back in session before you know it. After battling our preschool over their menus, I gave up. We pack lunch daily. For me, too. It saves money, which is really important right now for us all. It also guarantees your child will at least have a chance at a healthy meal. Schools are cutting back as well, which means quality usually goes first. Unless, of course, you are a high school in France. Steamed mussels for $3.00/day? I'm in.

Here's a typical lunch for my Kiddo on a week where I don't have something sexy to put in the Bento. The meal generally includes:

1 oz. of lean meat
1 oz. cheese
1 small slice wholegrain bread, here with honey
2 kinds of fruit, in season, berries and peaches
green beans with Balsamic dressing for dipping
Red pepper and cucumber sticks
8 oz. milk

Each day, I try for a fruit, a vegetable, protein, a wholegrain or pasta. I also try to have at least three colors in the box, colors of foods that is. It's always a good idea to plan for lunches when you make your grocery list. If red pepper sticks are a favorite, cut plenty for the week and store for quick lunch prep. Think about foods that don't require heating. Use an ice pack to keep food at a safe temperature until lunchtime.

A few recipes in this site that are good for lunch box sides:
Summer Vegetable Fritters
Carrot-Raisin Slaw
Lima Bean Hummus (it's good, really!)

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Quick Tip for Freezing Berries

To freeze some of this glorious produce for an unexpected mid-winter berry pie, wash the berries and spread them out in a single layer on a baking sheet. Place the sheet flat in the freezer for about 20 minutes or until berries are frozen firm.

Now, you can place in a bag, or if you have it, a vacuum-sealer and save this bit of summer for a dreary winter day.