Tag Archives: Vegetables

NEW FOOD FRIDAY FLASH – RUTABAGA

19 Feb

You’ve probably heard of rutabaga and you may have even tried it a time or two. Well, it’s time to revisit rutabaga because I found a recipe combining rutabaga and sweet potato and it’s delicious!  So, guess where it’s going? That’s right, in my February New Food Friday Flash post!

 

I came across the creator of this recipe while watching a cooking show on PBS. The chef’s name is Annabel Langbein. She combines foods in a way that you wouldn’t think of and the final product turn out great! I found several books in my local library containing her recipes. Her rutabaga sweet potato combination is uncomplicated, delicious, and good for your health too.

 

Rutabaga can sometimes be confused with turnips but rutabaga is typically larger. If turnips grow as large as a rutabaga, you should not buy them because they will be a bit woody. Not so with the rutabaga. It is a relative to the mustard family. It is sometimes called Swedish or Russian turnip, or swede and is widely cultivated in cool, moist regions of the northern hemisphere for its large, elongated roots, with solid yellow or white flesh, eaten not only by us folks but also enjoyed by livestock. Like the turnip, the rutabaga contains about 90 percent water so if you are on a diet, you can eat as much rutabaga as you like!

 

The rutabaga has a somewhat mildly bitter taste, but when combined with sweet potato, the bitter and the sweet contrast well together. If you want to make this recipe really low calorie, omit the butter and cream. I omitted the cream but not the butter.

 

Ingredients

½ lb rutabaga, cut into 1” slices

1 lb orange-fleshed sweet potato, cut into 1” slices

¼ cup Chicken stock (or more)

1 teaspoon fresh minced thyme

2 Tablespoons butter (optional)

Salt and pepper to taste

Cream (optional)

 

Preheat oven to 350°. In a baking dish, combine the sweet potatoes, rutabaga, and chicken broth. Slice the rutabaga and sweet potato into 1” slices or smaller if you have the time and the patience. The smaller the pieces, the quicker it will cook. The first time I made this, I used less sweet potato and tasted more of the rutabaga. The second time I made it, I used the recipe amount of sweet potato and didn’t taste the rutabaga at all. So, if you like it sweeter, go with the recipe version. If not, reduce the amount of sweet potato.

 

Sprinkle with the thyme, salt and pepper and turn to mix well. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake until vegetables are tender, about 1 ½ hours. (I raised the heat so it didn’t take as long.)

 

Add the butter, and cream if you are using it and mash with a potato masher. I used my immersion blender and added a bit more chicken stock. Beat until fluffy. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed. After you taste it, try not to eat the whole thing! It will be a challenge!

 

I can’t wait to make this again. Try it. I think you will like it too!

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New Food Friday Flash – Sweet Potato Rolls to Die For!

19 Jun Pull apart Sweet Potato Rolls

Can we all agree that we all love hot, buttered rolls? But they’re not the best for our health or waistline. Since I am always looking for ways to improve my diet, I have tried another James Beard bread recipe that I am addicted to! Again, it’s from the “old” book I found at the library. The man knows bread! I’ve also read his book on fish. It wasn’t nearly as good and disappointing in comparison. But I wasn’t disappointed with his Sweet Potato rolls recipe!

 

Has anybody not heard that we should stay away from white potatoes? Why? At the risk of repeating what you already know, they’re not as nutritious as other vegetables; they contain a high amount of pesticides (they’re in the “bad” 15 category), and we tend to fry or slather them in butter or sour cream which is not good for us. What’s a potato-loving girl (or guy) to do? Substitute your potato craving with a sweet potato.

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet Potatoes

 

Sweet potatoes have more nutrients, they’re high in fiber and they’re low on the pesticide scale (they’re in the “good” 15). We can make a “pumpkin” pie with them. We can bake them in the skin and serve with a pat of butter. And, we can make sweet potato rolls with them! I’ve tried several recipes making rolls with white potatoes and they have hardly any flavor and little nutrition. You’ve got to try these sweet potato rolls!

 

I’ve made sweet potato rolls five times now. When I’m down to my last one or two rolls, I start baking a sweet potato. I like the sweet potato skin to show some blackened areas from baking because that caramelizes the potato and brings out the sweetness.

 

I knew that yesterday I was planning to do lots of yard work and would be too tired to make the rolls, so I started the night before. I put the dough ingredients and sweet potato together (I had baked the sweet potato the night before that) and put it in the fridge overnight. I wasn’t sure this would work, but happily, it did!

 

The next morning before I went out in the yard, I took out the bowl of dough. It had risen beautifully as you can see in the photo.

Sweet Potato Dough

Sweet Potato Dough well-risen

 I rolled the dough into 24 balls and put them in two cake pans as I usually do. I placed them in my microwave oven (turned off) with a hot cup of water, and left them there to rise while I did my yard work. When I came in exhausted, at 4:00 pm (I began at noon), I checked on my rolls. Look at how much they rose! 

Sweet Potato Dough Rolls

Big, Puffy, Sweet Potato Dough Rolls

 

I then baked the rolls in my convection toaster-oven. For me, it takes 17 minutes at 350° but I will give you the original recipe below.

 

They say we “eat” with our eyes. Look at the color on these beauties!! They’re gorgeous! They’re moist! They’re fluffy! When you put them in cake pans, they pull apart like cotton candy! 

Pull apart Sweet Potato Rolls

Beautiful Color on these fluffy Sweet Potato Rolls

 

The final result: they tasted the same as the sweet potato rolls I made without putting the dough in the fridge. The only difference is that they raised more, and were bigger than usual. What’s not to love about that? Isn’t it great to know that you can do this recipe in steps if you’re short on time? Plus, if you use the refrigerator method, you don’t have to knead the dough at all.

 

I enjoy them with breakfast and with dinner. They reheat very well in the microwave and they keep in the fridge very well. I keep them in the cake pan.  After they’ve cooled on a rack, cover them with aluminum foil. I also put the foil-covered rolls in a clean, plastic bag in the fridge just to ensure that they don’t get stale. This works very well. I keep the other cake pan with rolls covered the same way, and put them in the freezer. So, when the first batch is nearly all eaten, I take out the frozen batch and put them in the fridge. Easy-peasy.

 

Beard says you can substitute the sweet potatoes with canned sweet potatoes (without the liquid), or winter squash, like butternut squash or acorn squash. I tried acorn squash rolls yesterday but I prefer the sweet potato.  Either would make an excellent substitution since they are equally nutritious, high in fiber, and low in pesticides and a good way to sneak a vegetable into your family’s meal.

 

Sweet Potato Roll Recipe

2 packages dry yeast

4 Tablespoons sugar

½ cup water (100° – 115°)

3 Tablespoons melted butter

1 Tablespoon salt

2-3 eggs (one for basting rolls)

3-3 ½ (or more) cups flour

½ – ¾ cup cooled, mashed sweet potato

2 Tablespoons cream

 

Combine the yeast with 1 Tablespoon of the sugar and the ½ cup water in a bowl. Let it proof 5 minutes. Add the remaining 3 Tablespoons of sugar, the melted butter, salt and 2 eggs. Stir well to blend. Stir in the flour one cup at a time with the potatoes. (I prefer to add the potatoes before adding the flour.) Knead 2-3 min. Add enough additional flour to prevent sticking. Dough will be soft. Shape it into a ball. Put in a buttered bowl, turning to coat all. Cover with plastic wrap and keep in a warm place about 1 hour. Then punch dough down, shape into a ball again and let rest 2 minutes. Form into golf ball size balls and place on a buttered cookie sheet or 2 cake pans. Let rise until doubled in size. Brush with the last egg mixed with the cream. (I prefer using only an egg white mixed with 1 Tablespoon water and 1 Tablespoon powdered dry milk which I always have on hand. I never have cream in the house!) Also, I brush the rolls before I let them rise. If you brush dough after it has risen, it tends to deflate the dough.

 

Bake at 375° for 20 minutes depending on your oven. Makes 24 rolls or two loaves. Bet you can’t eat just one!

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8 Vegetables You Have Never Eaten (and May Never Want to Try) – New Food Friday Flash

15 Aug

I’ve covered some of the fruits you’ve never tried or even heard of in the last two New Food Friday Flashes and I could do more. Maybe I’ll come back to fruits in the future. Today I’m covering vegetables that you’ve never tried or heard of.  It’s good for your health to eat your vegetables but in some of the vegetables listed below, it might be better for your health if you avoided these vegetables!

Also, I couldn’t find a photo of any of these vegetables but I found a nice photo of what is a “forgotten farm in Minnesota” according to the photographer and selected it for my featured image.

 

Ackee

The alternate name for Ackee is vegetable brains. Is that because if you eat it you will get smarter? Unfortunately not. It’s because it looks like brains. Does it taste like brains? No. How do I know? I’ve eaten a brain sandwich at a country fair once. It was fried pork brains. It had a mild flavor and was served on a bun with either mustard or ketchup. I asked for one side mustard and the other ketchup. But I digress. Vegetable brains, (Ackee) tastes like scrambled eggs according to some. Looking at a photo of Ackee as it is ripening on an evergreen tree, totally creeps me out. It can only be picked when it has turned completely red, has been split open showing it’s “smile” revealing two black seeds that look like eyes. Anything other than the creamy yellow pulp cannot be eaten nor can the unripened fruit because it is fatal! Yipes! You can find this vegetable in the forests of the Ivory Coast and Gold Coast of West Africa. Served with salt cod, it is Jamaica’s national dish! Canned Ackee is available around the world and completely safe. Don’t forget to eat your veggies!

 

Celtuce

You would think that Celtuce is a cross between celery and lettuce but it isn’t. It is sometimes called Chinese lettuce as it originated in China. It is grown mainly for its thick, tender stem, but its leaves can also be eaten. In China, the stems are broiled or boiled, added to soups, and used in stir-fries with meat, poultry, or fish. It is grown mostly in home gardens and is not widely known. When cooked, the stem tastes like a cross between squash and artichoke which means that I would like it a lot!

 

Marsh Samphire

This vegetable is shaped like miniature Arizona cacti but flourishes in the mud of salt marshes around the coastlines of England and France. Collecting and cleaning it is messy and time-consuming. Marsh Samphire is also known as glasswort and was once used in glassmaking! Today, however, it and its relatives are seen as plants of the future because they will grow in salty conditions. To cook, blanch without salt (because it is salty) and add butter. It is served in salads and on trout. Cultivated varieties can be imported from Israel and the Gulf. Its nickname is sea asparagus.

 

Angelica

The healing powers of Angelica, according to the people in France’s marshy Poitou-Charente region where Angelica has grown for centuries, have used it as an antidote to poisons. Hmmm, possibly good to eat after you eat Ackee (above)? Angelica is a member of the parsley family and also grown in Italy, Scotland, Germany, Scandinavia, Russia, and parts of North America. It can withstand the temperatures of Iceland and Greenland. The leaves can be shredded in salads and used in omelets and fish dishes. The stems are often stewed with rhubarb or made into preserves and jams. Today, it is most commonly used as a candied confection for cakes, sweet breads, and cheesecakes. The leaves and stems taste like licorice.

 

Golden Needle

One of the least familiar ingredients to the Western world is golden needles also known as tiger buds. That is, unless you’ve heard of the folk song, “Silver threads, golden needles can’t unbend this heart of mine….” Sound familiar? These buds range in color from pale gold or orange to dark amber in its dried version. They are often added to noodles and meats prepared over high heat. Their sweet, musky flavors complement woodears, enokitake, and misos and appear together in recipes across China and Japan.

 

Ratte Potato

Unlike other vegetables or fruits with names that mislead you to believe their taste, shape, or lineage is why they were so named, this particular vegetable actually was named Ratte Potato because it, alas, looks like a rat!  Eeeeks! Leave it to the French to take care of that problem: they called it Quenelles de Lyon. Ratte’s texture is dense, firm, resistant to breaking down, and yet smooth. They have a nutty taste similar to chestnuts.

 

Huitlacoche

Huitlacoche is also known as corn smut. Part of its name is the Aztec word for dung. I’m not making this up folks. Truth is stranger than fiction. It is a naturally occurring fungus that disfigures growing corn. I’m surprised I never heard of it, considering that Indiana is a corn-growing state. We (we?) must call it something else. The corn kernels swell and mutate into distorted silvery blue lumps with black interiors. How divine. It has a mushroom-like flavor with hints of corn and licorice. It is usually sautéed with garlic and onion and used to flavor traditional Mexican dishes. It can be difficult to find fresh huitlacoche outside of Mexico, but specialty food stores in the US and Canada often stock flash-frozen or canned versions in the event you are dying to try this.

 

Stinky Tofu

Known as ch’ou doufu in Mandarin, it has a mild, faintly sour, beany flavor which is far surpassed by its gargantuan aroma. As you might have guessed, it is a fermented concoction made with vegetables, herbs, shrimp and sometimes other seafood items. There are many, many fermented vegetables served around the world but I chose this one because it is often eaten as street food in China, Taiwan and Hong Kong where you might encounter it in your travels. It is deep-fried until crusty then dressed with spicy sauces, and topped with chili oil and garlic in Hunan. How will you know it? Your nose knows.

 

Based on some of the description of these vegetables, is it any wonder kids don’t eat their vegetables? Poison? Used in glassmaking? Rats? Dung, and Stinky? Those are hardly enticing descriptions. Consider yourself lucky. You didn’t have to look at the photos of these vegetables as I did when doing the research! On the other hand, don’t little boys love gross things? The grosser the better? Maybe you can tempt your non-veggie eater with a plate of Ratte Potato or Ackee!

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New Food Friday – Bok Choy or Pak Choi

21 Feb Polenta instead of rice with Bok Choy

If you haven’t tried Bok Choy, you don’t know what you’re missing! Bok Choy is my choice for this New Food Friday.

This Asian staple is full of vitamin A, C, and is high in calcium and many other nutrients.  It resembles celery but doesn’t taste like it and it’s juicy like celery, maybe even juicer. I like to munch on it raw while I’m preparing it for a stir-fry or a soup. Bok Choy is in the cabbage family but it doesn’t taste like cabbage either. Its taste reminds me of escarole except that Bok Choy is mildly sweet and has a slight peppery bite at the end.

The leaves of Bok Choy are very dark green but the stalks are very white.

Bok Choy Stalks

Bok Choy Leaves

It’s a beautiful vegetable! The Chinese have been cultivating it for over 5,000 years.

Recently, my local Meijer had Bok Choy on sale for 88 cents a pound. Oh happy day! I bought 1.75 pounds of it!

Bunch of Bok Choy

Bundled Bok Choy – 1.75 pounds

There are two versions of Bok Choy in this country: there is the Baby Bok Choy and the regular Bok Choy. I’ve purchased both in the past and they taste the same to me. It may be more convenient to cook the Baby Bok Choy because you can cook it whole.

Baby Bok Choy

Baby Bok Choy or Pak Choi (sxc.hu – MeiTeng)

You couldn’t cook the regular Bok Choy whole because you wouldn’t have a pan large enough! I like the larger version which can sometimes be quite large! Ginormous, in fact, so you can expect more prep time with it. Don’t wash it until you’re ready to use it. Bok Choy stays fresh for up to a week in the fridge.

In my research for this post, I was surprised to learn that Bok Choy falls under the category of cruciferous vegetables. As you may well know, cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower) contain anti-cancer compounds. All the more reason to try, buy, stir-fry Bok Choy!

Cooking Bok Choy

I typically cook all greens the same way when I use them for a side dish: olive oil, garlic, a few tablespoons of water or broth, cover and cook in my large fry pan. Bok Choy is good this way. But I decided to do a stir-fry with chicken. I found two recipes online that I liked and I combined them and tweaked them too. The results were delicious. I’m posting the recipe for you below. Since one recipe was Chinese and the other was Thai, I’m calling it:

Chinese-Thai Almond Chicken Stir-Fry

1 Tablespoon oil (peanut or coconut, I used olive oil)

1/2 cup whole almonds

1 skinless, boneless chicken breast

1 Tablespoon soy sauce (reduced sodium is best)

1 Tablespoon oyster sauce

Oyster Sauce

Oyster Sauce

1 Tablespoon chili garlic sauce

Chili Garlic Sauce

Chili Garlic Sauce

1 Tablespoon brown sugar

2 teaspoons fresh lime juice

8 oz (more or less) rinsed Bok Choy cut into bite-sized pieces

2-3 Tablespoons Chicken broth if pan seems dry

You can add mushrooms, thinly sliced onions, or whatever you like to this. I added 1/4 cup thinly sliced carrots and 1/4 cup chopped celery.

To thicken gravy

1 Tablespoon corn starch

1/4 cup cold water

Stir together then pour into pan at the end of cooking until gravy thickens. (I did not do this step. See below.)

Directions

In a small bowl add the soy sauce, oyster sauce, chili garlic sauce, brown sugar, and lime juice. Stir the mixture well to melt the sugar. Set aside.

Heat the oil in a fry pan or wok and add the almonds and heat on medium-high heat until golden about 2 minutes. Be careful not to burn! Remove from pan.

Stir-fry thinly sliced chicken breast in same pan for 2-3 minutes. Add the Bok Choy, then the carrots, celery, mushrooms, onions, or whatever you like and spoon 1 tablespoon of the soy sauce mixture over it; stir and cook 2 minutes. (Cook longer and cover if you prefer your veggies less crispy.) Add a few tablespoons of broth if the mixture seems dry. Taste. If you like it spicier and saltier, add the rest of the soy sauce mixture. If you have any leftover, you can use it to baste most meats. I reserved my leftover for my next Bok Choy meal using the same recipe but substituting bay scallops in place of the chicken. (It wasn’t as good as the chicken.)

Serve with the sprinkled almonds on top. This is a very nutritious dish, low in calories, high in fiber, high in calcium, but also high in sodium which is why I suggested you taste the dish before adding all the soy sauce mixture. If you’re watching your sodium intake you may not want to use all the soy sauce mixture.

This dish is great served over rice and is the typical way it would be served. I wanted to try something different. I already had a pan of polenta that I had made the day before and feeling adventurous, I decided to try it in place of the rice.

Polenta instead of rice with Bok Choy

Polenta with Bok Choy

It was just as good! In fact, it thickened the gravy without using the cornstarch mixture. I liked this recipe so much that I decided to make it again, this time with brown rice.

Bok Choy dish

Bok Choy with a drizzle of sweet & sour sauce and mustard

 

Whichever way you try it, be sure you do try it! It’s delicious!

qǐng màn yòng!

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It’s A Grander!

11 Aug Heirloom Tomato - 14.5 oz

OK, a Grander is a big sailfish and I’m talking about my tomato so I exaggerated a little.

Just a quick post since it’s already past 8:00 pm. Where did the day go? I had visions of writing so many things in this post and/or writing multiple posts and now I’m pushing it to write just this one since I have 4 clean loads of laundry on my bed waiting to be sorted and put away.

Back to my Grander. This summer I decided to plant heirloom tomatoes. I bought just one heirloom plant from Meijer. These things took off like gangbusters! I have never seen a tomato plant be so energetic. I did fertilize it a lot but I fertilized all my other tomato plants too and they haven’t run rampant on me like this one although they look healthy and productive.

Enough talk, here’s a photo. This was the first tomato to fruit from this plant. You should see the main stem! I’m going to have a heck of a time pulling it out of the ground when the season is over.

See, I’m just a frustrated writer who wants to write. Shut up Marcy and show them the tomato already! OK!

Heirloom Tomato - 14.5 oz

Heirloom Tomato – 14.5 oz

This is the biggest tomato I have ever grown! I’m getting a good yield from this plant and it’s barely mid-August. I haven’t tasted it yet. I plucked it because I didn’t want to take the chance that it might fall off and be eaten by bugs. I’ll let you know how it tastes.

Tomorrow tuna and egg salad sandwich with escarole leaves and fat slices of this tomato on rye. I promise to eat a slice on the side, lightly salted so as not to take anything away from the taste. Please heirloom tomato, don’t disappoint!

One of the big differences with heirloom tomatoes is that they are not as disease resistant as other hybrid tomato plants. Hybrid tomatoes generally have an inbred resistance to tobacco mosaic disease, but heirlooms don’t. Heirlooms are plants with seeds that have been handed down from generation to generation, just like heirloom jewelry and furniture! Heirloom tomato plants are known to have a flavor that is complex and rich. My mouth is watering! If it’s as good as it’s cracked up to be, I will be planting it from now on – inbred disease resistance be damned! I favor flavor!

OK, I’m off to watch TV whilst I fold and put away all my laundry. No rest for the weary! Cheerio!

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