Cooking


My favorite new veggie du stagione (that’s season in Italian, of course) is winter squash.  We’re talking much more than pumpkin.

I guess, like many others – I have a love affair with pumpkin through the fall season.  Yes, I know it is popular to trash pumpkin because it has become so darn ubiquitous (you know it’s a problem when Starbucks makes a latte out of it).

But, as a squash: pumpkin and its much more succulent cousins: delicata, Hubbard, kabocha, Blue Hubbard, butternut — it is a ubiquitous cold weather treat.

Easy as hell to prepare: half it (or, if really large: section it) and pop it in the oven to roast.  Lots of techniques on the sectioning part — because attacking any of these tough-skinned vegetables can be perilous.  Guy on the farmers market told me, hold it in your hands – at about waist height – and take it down to the ground/floor.  It cracks into cookable pieces.  I have found best to wrap it in a towel — the splunk can send seeds and stringy goo all over your kitchen.

My brilliant friend Victoria Granof, food style and cook extraordinaire, follows the advice of some television cook whose name I forget, who says put the whole squash in the over for 15 minutes at some degrees — probably 400-ish.  It doesn’t cook, but becomes super easy to cut.

What can you do:

eat it roasted as is, puree it and make recipes requiring pumpkin:

Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal: 1/2 c. pumpkin puree, 3/4 c almond milk, 1/c oatmeal, cinnamon/pumpkin pie spice/dash salt/vanilla. I use a couple drops of the real-deal stevia and 2 t. brown sugar.  Cook for 10 minutes at 375 degrees, top with 1 T sliced almonds & 1 t. brown sugar – and cook another 10 minutes.  One serving.  And for those who are counting 7 WeightWatchers® points.

Squash soup.  Veggie boullion cube, 2 cups water, shallots & onions, some roasted kabocha (2 cups maybe?), a 1/2 c unsweetened applesauce – cook it up a bit – and have at it with a cook’s best friend: the immersion blender.  Zero WW® points.

And, the list goes on – use your imagination.

Oh by the way, the beautiful lady with the delicata is Signora Maria, straight from Bagnacavallo near Bologna — created by Italian artist Anna Tazzari – a beautiful woman in every way – and extraordinarily talented.

S Maria and Squash

 

 

Advertisements

I just love the farmers market during Summer.  This is not my fave season, although if you have friends with a beach house — as it turns out I do —  life is certainly greatly improved.  But, goodness, the market is lush with fruits and vegetables for the most healthful cooking.  And, living.

Of course, we are in the middle of peach season – yummy.  Eaten in the hand, or sliced into whole grain cereal and a dash of nutmeg, or macerated in cognac with a scrape of vanilla bean.  And, that’s if you aren’t going to cook cobblers, pies, crumbles.

Summer Wonders

Summer Wonders

This weekend, at the Union Square greenmarket in Manhattan, I happened upon the cutest little tomatoes.  Larger than cherries, smaller than standard.  With a deep orange/red color and topped with a dash of burgundy.  Wonderful.  I cut them up and added them to my sautéed fairytale eggplants, with some roast chicken.  And a crumble of James Brown blue cheese from the Cato Corner farm.

I would show you that dish, but gee, it seems to have disappeared.  But, here are some of my market goodies sitting on my NYC kitchen windowsill.

 

This is the time of the year when I cook up some of my grandmother’s garden vegetable dishes: with fresh green beans or zucchini. When I was growing up, you could not get me to eat them.  Now, they are not only redolent and evocative of my youth, they are simply delicious!

Grandma’s Green Beans

2 Tomatoes (Beefsteak are fine, no sense overpaying for heirlooms at this time of the year)

3 handfuls of Green beans (look for those flat Roma beans – but any type or color will work)

2 or 3 smallish Potatoes (I like the little Yukon Golds — starting to see the first picks of the season)

3-4 T. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Cut up the tomatoes, put them in a saucepan first — they create most of the liquid you will need for this dish.  Cut up the potatoes into biggish chunks then toss in the green beans. I remove the ends – cook’s choice.  Drizzle on the olive oil, pour in (maybe) a couple of tablespoons of water, salt and pepper.  Put on the lid and cook at a low, slow simmer.  20-30 minutes or so.  This is no al dente affair.  More like a vegetable stew.  I let the potatoes determine the length of the cook.  If you pick a potato that can stand up to the cook, you should be fine.

Buon appetito!

 

 

I am a big fan of frittatas — whether whole egg, whole/egg white mix, or just egg whites — it is a great way to use some leftover vegetables – and, maybe, but not necessarily, just a little cheese as condiment.

So, I was surprised to learn a new addition to my usual frittata that I had never even considered: Greek Yogurt.  The UBIQUITOUS protein-rich greek yogurt.

It is from the New York Times fabulous health writer and recipe maven, Martha Rose Shulman. Her recipes always work, and she has this great technique of teasing out the flavors.  A recent recipe for a frittata with chard and green garlic – calls also for greek yogurt.

I made a successful batch this week.  Check it out!  And, tried it in another version of a frittata.  Everything Shulman devises works out well.

 

20121202-165700.jpg
Charred and creamy, is there a more delicious veg than a roasted Brussels sprout? Hey, did you know it is called Brussels because it was first cultivated in Belgium.

Anyhoo, I wanted to make the dish for Thanksgiving and, using a 13-year-old recipe, I cooked them just like the Barefoot Contessa would cook them. Salty like a French fry.

Simple. 400 degrees, 40 minutes, olive oil, pepper and salt.

That’s it. Simplice but perfect!

 

Keep Your Hands OFF My Corn

This will be a short post.  I HATE IT WHEN PEOPLE RIP OFF OUTER HUSK OF CORN at the Farmers Market.  Of course, it is bad enough when they do it – but forgivable if they place it in their bag.  But then, what’s the point of that!?

What is simply not acceptable is ripping down the husk and putting the ear back on the pile.  Really!?!

So many reasons why that is wrong:

  • You don’t need to rip open an ear of corn to see if it is edible. Feel the damn thing and you can sense any rot. Otherwise, a couple of missing niblets is no big.
  • If you rip it open – even just to look at the top — and see some kernels missing – you may think that is bad.  When, in fact, it may indicate that some sort of beastie loved the corn because it was succulent.  Which can be perfect for you.
  • I am shopping.  I see a nice looking ear of corn. I look more closely and see that it is drying out because some fool ripped it open and tossed it back on the pile

See my point!!! Take a chance to spend 50¢ on something that just MAY be imperfect. You know: like life.

My very sage friend, Amy, nudged me today to get back into writing my blog. We both agree that it just takes that first entry to get revved up again.

So, I make no promises that this will be coherent, but it will reflect my day and my thoughts nonetheless.

I went to the Greenmarket at Union Square in Manhattan on this beautiful, slightly overcast Spring day. It is a regular thing I do on Saturdays. I take my market bag — bought many years ago at a farmers market in Provence. It’s a lovely bag, sold by a French woman who had taken the classic market bag– and we’re talking hearty straw bag made in Morocco. With sturdy leather handles. And she handpainted it for sale at that market in Nyons.
(more…)

This was one of my favorite cross-cultural confusions while in Denmark.  One morning, while rushing to get out of the apartment for some not typical sightseeing in the Danish countryside, I asked my friend if we might have a little breakfast.  What do you usually have for breakfast, I asked.  He replied that he generally had a filling, but pretty boring breakfast cereal with milk.  We went into the kitchen and poured the cereal into our bowls.  It was called Havregryn. My friend didn’t really know the English name for Havre Gryn.

(more…)

Next Page »