The Bitten Word Cover to Cover Challenge {Beet Salad}

If you worry that Autumn signals the end of bright, colorful salads, then you clearly haven’t tried this one.

The boys over at The Bitten Word brought this salad to my attention.  A couple of weeks ago, they decided to include their readers in an October food magazine cover to cover challenge.  They had a huge response, and found themselves with the daunting task of assigning 350 recipes from 6 of their favorite food magazines.  I was assigned to Team Food Network Magazine, specifically this No-Cook Beet-Orange Salad from the latest edition.

Raw beets remind me a lot of raw corn – they’re very sweet, earthy, and a little starchy.  The creamy, tangy goat cheese is a nice accompaniment, along with the sharp bite of the vinegar and the crunchy nuttiness of the pepitas.  If you think you don’t like beets, try them raw – you might change your mind.

Luckily, I’m a fan of beets, so this salad was right up my alley.  The original calls for chioga or golden beets, but I was only able to find golden and red when I went to the store the other day.  The only downside to this is that red beets stain EVERYTHING, so it’s best to add them at the very end to avoid turning your whole salad pink.  I also used toasted pumpkin seeds in place of the Marcona almonds because we’re a mostly tree-nut-free household.

Having a mandolin is certainly beneficial here, but it’s by no means a requirement.  You want to slice your beets paper thin, so if you use a knife make sure it’s super sharp.

You’ll need three oranges for this recipe – one to juice, and two to segment.  If you need to learn how to supreme an orange, this is a good tutorial from Coconut & Lime.

No-Cook Beet-Orange Salad

adapted from Food Network Magazine, October 2012

prep time: 20 minutes

yields: 4-6 servings

Ingredients

  • 3 beets, sliced very thinly on a mandolin
  • 2 oranges, supremed
  • 2 cups fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint, chopped
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds, toasted
  • 2 oz. goat cheese, crumbled
  • 2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 2 teaspoons sherry vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Whisk together the orange juice, vinegar, mustard, olive oil, salt and pepper
  2. Combine the beets, oranges and herbs in a shallow serving bowl
  3. Dress with the dressing
  4. Garnish with goat cheese and pumpkin seeds
  5. Enjoy!

Worth Sharing {Roasted Potatoes}

Listen, y’all.  I know it’s been over a month since I last posted.

It’s not like I haven’t been trying.  I have at least three posts in various stages of completion that I just haven’t been able to bring myself to publish.  I’m sorry.  I guess I just haven’t felt like sharing much lately.

Until tonight.  Tonight there were these potatoes.  And I just knew that you’d want to know about them. Because after weeks of kitchen mediocrity and work-related anxiety, these potatoes arrived on the scene and changed the course of events for the better.

It’s amazing how food can do that.

It’s pretty simple, really.  Golden potatoes, olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper and bacon grease.

Yep – see that mini-mason jar in the top left-hand corner of the photo?  That’s rendered bacon grease, leftover from the BLT’s we had for lunch yesterday.  You know, the French are known for their potatoes cooked in duck fat (a distinction that is well deserved), so I figured here in the American South, we could use our humble equivalent – pig fat.

If, however, you are averse to pork products, you could most certainly use all olive oil.  It’s totally up to you.

If you’re like me, though, and you relish the thought of bacon scented potatoes, then by all means read on.

Roasted Potatoes

prep time: 5 minutes

cook time: 45-60 minutes

yields: 4-6 servings

Ingredients

  • 8 medium-sized golden potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon bacon grease
  • 1 teaspoon grated garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • black pepper to taste

I start by preheating my oven to 450F, then scrubbing the potatoes and cutting them into 2-inch pieces.  I then combine 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 tablespoon bacon grease and 1 teaspoon grated garlic in another bowl, whisking to combine.  This mixture then gets poured all over those potatoes.  Add a teaspoon of salt and lots of freshly grated black pepper.

Pour the potatoes out onto a baking sheet, making sure you scrape every last bit of that delicious oil and bacon grease mixture out of the mixing bowl.  Spread them into a single layer, and place them in your preheated oven.  Bake for 45 minutes to an hour, checking periodically to make sure they’re not sticking.  If they are, use some tongs to scrape the pan and loosen the potatoes – if they tear a bit, that’s okay – those torn bits get good and crispy and delicious.

See, crispy and delicious.  They’re addictive.  I had to slap my husband’s hand out of the way as he stood at the kitchen counter eating them off the baking sheet (I might have had to practice a little self-restraint, too).  I was afraid we wouldn’t have enough for dinner.

I served them alongside this salad – a combination of spinach, romaine, golden tomatoes, blue cheese and avocado – and some chicken sausage.  Even though it was a simple meal, it was one of the most flavorful we’ve had in a long time.  And I wanted to share it with you.

Enjoy!

Yellow Valleys, Amber Waves and Grandma Helen’s Creamed Corn

I hope you’ll bear with me to the end of this post – it’s kind of long.  In fact, it’s probably two posts in one; but, they’re two posts that really do have something in common, so I ask for your patience as I tie together the loose ends.  It’s all about making and sharing memories with family.  And corn.  Lots and lots of corn.

Back at the beginning of July, our family set off on a National Lampoon-style, semi-cross-country road trip.  For years, my mom has been talking about looking at some acreage in Wyoming, and this summer we decided to do something about it.  We rented a fancy space-age mini-van and loaded it up for a seven-day, nine-state, 3200-mile round trip tour.  With two small children in tow, that is no small feat.

And it really was a road trip in the truest sense – we spent at least seven hours (and sometimes as many as 11) every day driving, and spent no more than one night in any one place.  I’m sure it’s not for everyone, but I have to admit that it was one of the best vacations I’ve ever taken.

Armed with a myriad of DVDs for the kids, and satellite radio for the adults we set off down the road.  We were subjected to multiple viewings of Cars 2 and Dora the Explorer’s Hic-Boom-Ohhh episode.  When it was “mom’s turn” we listened to the Sirius Bluegrass station as a respite.  To keep the kids occupied while the DVD player was “resting”, we had them look for Dora’s yellow valley and quiet forest.  With miles and miles of corn fields to look at, that yellow valley wasn’t too hard to find.

On the first night on our way out to Wyoming, we stopped in St. Louis.  We ate at a local wood-fired pizza joint called Twin Oak, where we enjoyed some tasty pies and local brews.

Stingray touch pool at the St. Louis Zoo

The next morning we took the boys to the St. Louis Zoo for a couple of hours before hitting the road. We tried to do at least one fun, kid-friendly thing every day.  It cut down on the monotony of the car ride, and it let the boys get some energy out of their systems before being cooped up for hours on end.  It was a pretty good strategy.

Lincon, NE Train Depot

Our second night was spent in Lincoln, NE, where we ate at Lazlo’s in the Haymarket District.  The food was good, the beer, brewed right next door, was excellent and the service was impeccable.  The boys enjoyed getting to run around the old train depot after dinner, and we even found a little local ice cream shop for dessert.

Steam-powered carousel at the Pioneer Village

The next morning, on our way to Cheyenne, WY, we stopped at a place called Harold Warp’s Pioneer Village in Minden, NE.  It’s a little off the beaten path (like you feel like you’re driving through about a million miles of GMO corn and cattle feed lots to get there), but it was completely worth the detour.  From cars to trains to airplanes to tractors to boats, there was something of interest for everyone.  I think the adults liked this one as much as the kids (if not more).

In Cheyenne, we watched some gunslingers shoot it out and ate a place called The Albany Restaurant and Bar which was recommended by a woman at the Cheyenne Train Depot.

The next morning it was on to Laramie, WY to look at some land (and lots and lots of wild horses and Pronghorn).  In Laramie we had lunch at Altitude Chophouse and Brewery where I had a perfectly cooked Filet Mignon and a spicy Mexican Chili Ale.

After Laramie, it was time to head back east.  We took a slightly different route home, driving through Colorado and Kansas (surrounded by purple mountains and amber waves of wheat, not to mention gigantic wind farms) on the return trip.  It was July 4th, and we stopped in Burlington, CO for lunch.  There, we had a chance to take a ride on the Historic Kit Carson Co. Carousel.  Yes, that’s actually a picture of me up there.

We spent the night of the 4th in Topeka, KS, where the highlight of our stay was getting to watch fireworks from our 4th-floor hotel room with the lights off.

The 5th was spent driving the rest of the way through Kansas, all of Missouri, and portions of Kentucky and Tennessee.  We stopped off at a Civil War Battlefield in Lexington, MO, and wound up spending the night in Clarkesville, TN (which just happens to be conveniently located close to another Civil War battle sight, much to my husband’s delight).

In Clarkesville we ate at a little hole-in-the-wall place called Brunies Bar and Grill.  When we first walked in we were a little reluctant (the atmosphere is definitely of the college dive bar variety), but the live music and the fact that we were hungry and it was late sold us.  They specialized in German food, so we opted for the bratwurst and schnitzel sandwiches (at the server’s suggestion) and the German potato salad.  We were pleasantly surprised by the food, and the music was really good – a win all around.

On the morning of the day we headed home, we took a little detour to visit Fort Donelson, significant because it was the site of the first Union victory in the South.  My husband is a big American Civil War history buff, so these last two days were sort of devoted to him.  The kids really enjoyed getting to see the big cannons, and my mom and I just liked being outside with the family (despite the 100+ degree temperatures).

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As vacations go, it will go down in my book as one of the most interesting I’ve taken.  Not only was it fun to spend time with my family experiencing things and places that were new for all of us; it was also fascinating to see our country’s industrial agriculture system at work.  I’ve never seen so much corn and soy growing in my life.  We even joked a couple of times about stopping off and pulling a couple of ears of corn to have with dinner when we got to our evening destination.

Of course, when you see things like this along the way, you realize that most of that corn is probably not destined for our dinner table – at least not in the traditional sense.  Most likely, the corn we saw growing is more of a commodity crop, slated to be turned into livestock feed, fuel, or sweetener and filler for the processed food industry.  We might have been sorely disappointed had we actually stopped and picked a couple of ears for dinner.  For more information on corn as a commodity crop, I suggest watching King Corn – it’s a relatively unbiased and eye opening look at “Americas most-productive, most-subsidized grain.”

After seeing all that corn in the heartland, I had a hankering for some good ol’ creamed corn when I got home.  Our sad little row of corn in our backyard garden had about given up the ghost after a week of record temperatures and little rain, but I managed to salvage a few poorly developed ears to add to the mix.  The rest came from our local Saturday-morning Farmers Market.

The recipe is my paternal Grandmother’s, and it came to me by way of my dad’s sisters.  My mom and I had been talking a while back about how much we loved Grandma Helen’s creamed corn, and wondering how we could replicate it.  The thing that made it special was the combination of  lots of black pepper and the fact that it wasn’t at all sweet.  I decided to email my Aunt to see if she had the recipe.  Here’s her response:

Of all the people to ask – the one who can’t boil water.  I can see her making it now.  My memory of her at the stove stirring.  She did it on top of the stove in that big cast iron skillet, think she started out with a small amount of water and then made a thickening with milk and flour.  I remember pepper, almost a stick of butter and when she got it to the consistency she wanted, put it in the oven and baked it until done.  Seems like it had to bake for quite a while because all the liquid had to cook down.  Remember her stirring it while in the oven, trying to keep it from sticking too much.  My job was to clean that nasty skillet. I will send your message to N {my other aunt}.  Since she and M {my cousin} love to do corn for their holiday meals, she might remember more.  I really don’t think it was written down anywhere – just something she learned.

My other Aunt’s response followed soon after:

Ok..am trying to send this from wee phone at home…I do have a recipe written that says mama’ s cream corn! It calls for 8 to 10 ears. Two tablespoons flour…less if young…stir in 1 cup milk, 1 cup water, 1 stick butter and salt, pepper to taste….cook about one hour at 325…..with your directions Niki will do it! That lil girl is a Real chef. I didn’t write the steps but just having ingredients helps…Off to babysit…love u.

First, it cracks me up that they still think of me as a “lil girl”.  Second, I love the fact that we can collaborate and share family recipes via the internet.  Passing these things on and keeping them alive is so important to me.  None of us live close to each other, so the idea that we can just hop on the computer and pass this knowledge on to one another is amazing. It certainly doesn’t replace standing next to each other at the stove, but it ranks a close second.

And now I get to share it with all of you.

Grandma Helen’s Creamed Corn

prep time: 5 minutes

cook time: 1 hour

yield: 8 servings

  • 8-10 ears corn (preferably a less-sweet heirloom variety)
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 2 Tablespoons flour (less if the corn is young)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup water
  • salt and pepper to taste (lots of black pepper)
  1. Preheat oven to 325F
  2. Begin by cutting the corn off the cob and scraping the cob to get all the milky liquid and starch
  3. In a large skillet (preferably cast iron, but I used a stainless steel one because it was the only one I had that was big enough), melt the butter and whisk in the flour.  Cook flour for a couple of minutes, just to make sure it doesn’t taste of raw flour.
  4. Add the corn and stir to coat with the butter/flour mixture.
  5. Add the milk and water.
  6. Add the salt and pepper (I added about a teaspoon of salt, and 30-40 turns of my pepper grinder)
  7. Cook over medium heat until mixture comes to a boil and begins to thicken.
  8. Place in your preheated oven and let cook for about an hour, stirring periodically to make sure it’s not sticking.
  9. Enjoy!
 

One From The Archives: Super Squash Salad

I posted this salad recipe more than two years ago, but I thought it warranted a reprise.  I’ve already made it three times this spring and early summer, and I predict I’ll be making it a lot more during the height of squash and zucchini season.  We had it for dinner tonight with buffalo sirloin steaks, and it was the perfect light foil to the rich, gamey meat.
First published April 4, 2010

Looking for a simple and healthy salad to take to all those spring barbecues and potlucks you’ve got coming up?  This salad has been a hit at every party I’ve taken it to.
In fact, I first had it at a potluck I went to a couple of years ago.  I took one bite and fell in love with it.  I asked the woman who brought it how she made it, and she quickly told me the few ingredients that were in it.  I ended up making it the next week for another function, and it was such a success, I’ve been taking it as my side dish to potlucks ever since.

Seriously, it’s one of the simplest salads you’ll ever make.  And the colors – I mean how can you resist those vibrant greens, reds, oranges and yellows?  It just begs to be devoured.

Ingredients:
3 yellow squash
2 zucchini
2 carrotts
1 red bell pepper
1/2 red onion
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
2 pinches salt

Begin by washing your veggies and slicing them into uniform slices.  I used a japanese mandoline to make quick work of it, but you could just as easily use a good sharp knife.  Just make sure you cut everything to a similar thickness – about an eighth of an inch.  Everything remains in its natural raw state, so you want to make sure nothing is too thick to be tender.
As you can see, the mandoline does a great job of giving you perfectly thin, uniform pieces.  I highly recommend it (they’re a little pricey, but they come in handy for situations like this; and, they make great homemade potato chips).
Once you’ve sliced everything (just julienne the pepper and onion), place all the veggies in a gallon zipper top bag.  Mix the vinegar, sugar and salt together, stirring to dissolve the sugar and salt.  Pour this mixture into the bag with the veg and close it up, squeezing to release as much air as possible.  Let marinate in the fridge for at least two hours.  Can be made up to a day ahead.
The end product is a little sweet, a little sour, a A LOT delicious! The raw squash and zucchini have a soft, velvety texture, and the crunch from the carrots and onion is a nice contrast.  The onion has a nice spicy bite, and the red pepper is nice and sweet.  And you just can’t beat the color!

Healthy, flavorful, and beautiful – the perfect combination!

Enjoy.

>Pantry Cleanse: Brown Rice Beet Risotto Edition

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Are you a lover or a hater of beets?  I used to be the latter, but when I discovered the wonders of roasted beets, I quickly converted to the lover category.
There’s something about that earthy, sweet flavor that makes them irresistible.  Roasting them brings that out even more, converting them from mere root vegetable to true delicacy.  And don’t forget that beets are considered one of those “super foods” that are all the rage right now – full of antioxidant properties and vitamins and minerals that are said to ward off disease.  Just what we all need here in the height of cold and flu season.
In my efforts to clean out my pantry, I came across a half-used bag of short-grain brown rice.  You could liken it to arborio, or carnaroli, but the package simply said “short grain”. Paired with the three small beets that I’d received in my produce box, along with some boxes of chicken stock I’d found in the back of the pantry, it seemed like a perfect opportunity to make a bright-red beet risotto (you could also use vegetable stock or water for this recipe). 
During this process, I discovered that my youngest child, who is 13 months old, is also a beet lover.  He enjoys playing at my feet while I’m cooking, and often looks up longingly at me while I’m in the process of putting dinner together.  Because I’m a pushover, I tend to hand him little bits of whatever I happen to be working on – in this case dicing roasted beets for inclusion in the risotto.  If it’s something he truly enjoys, he will proceed to pull on my pant leg and grunt at me, sometimes signing “more”.  
This particular afternoon resulted in my strapping him into his feeding chair and giving him a snack of roasted beets and cheddar cheese.  It also resulted in there being one less beet to include in the risotto.  He really liked the beets. 

Topped with some crumbled chevre and served alongside some house-made chicken sausage (made with chicken thighs, apples, pears, sage and a bit of maple syrup), this was a nice light meal for the new year. Even my oldest, who loved beets as a baby but has since become skeptical of them, was intrigued by this jewel-toned dish. He tentatively tasted the first grain of rice (yes, one single grain), and deemed it worthy of his praise.  He was a member of the clean-plate club for dinner that night.
Brown Rice Beet Risotto
prep time: 40 minutes
cook time: 40 minutes
serves: 4 as a side
Ingredients
2 beets, roasted at 375F for 40 minutes and cut into small dice
2 Tablespoons butter
1 cup short-grained brown rice
2 quarts low-sodium chicken stock
salt and pepper to taste
  1. Melt butter in a saute pan over medium heat
  2. Add rice and saute until the grains begin to become opaque in places.  This is harder to see in the brown rice because the grains are already so dark.
  3. Add two cups of the chicken stock and stir to combine. Allow to cook until the rice has soaked up most of the liquid before adding more stock.
  4. Continue adding chicken stock, one cup at the time, until rice becomes al dente.  This will take a while with the brown rice – I was shocked by how much liquid it took to get the rice tender.
  5. Halfway through the process of adding the liquid, add the beets.  The mix will immediately turn bright red.  It will take a while for the rice to soak up the color, though.  At this point, taste for seasoning.  Add salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Once the rice reaches the al dente point (soft, but still slightly toothy in the center of the grain), add one more cup of stock and allow the rice to continue cooking until the liquid is almost fully incorporated, but the mixture is still a bit loose (it will continue to tighten up after you remove it from the heat).  You just don’t want it to be too dry.
  7. Crumble some goat cheese over the top and serve warm.
Enjoy!

>Whole-wheat Dinner Rolls

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After the success I had with making Panettone the other day, I decided to try my hand at making dinner rolls using a similar formula.
I love light, airy, yeasty dinner rolls, but I’ve always been hesitant to try baking them at home.  Bread baking and I have a love-hate relationship, mostly because I have the patience of a gnat when it comes to food.  Instant gratification!  I want it now! 
So, when a recipe calls for a 6-12 hour rise, and then another 2 or 3 hour rise I’m usually going to bypass it. 
But that was then, and this is now.  Now that I know how lovely bread can truly be when you actually FOLLOW THE INSTRUCTIONS, I’m learning that patience truly is a virtue.  I guess those old adages actually hang around for a reason.
I would say these rolls are most similar to a brioche or egg-bread.  They’re very light, and have a nice tender crumb.  They’re filled with tons of tiny air bubbles, and they’re good warm straight from the oven with nothing on them, but they’re especially tasty slathered with a pat of butter.
I didn’t let these rise as long as the panettone, but it didn’t seem to make a difference.  I did let the dough complete its second rise in my handy-dandy food dehydrator set on about 115F, and I believe this helped shorten the rise time significantly.  

Whole-wheat dinner rolls
prep time: 20 minutes
rise time: 6 hours total
bake time: 10 minutes
Ingredients
1/2 Tablespoon Instant Dry Yeast
1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
1/4 cup warm whey (110-115F)
4 Tablespoons butter
3 whole eggs
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup warm whey (110-115F)
3 1/2-4 cups whole-wheat flour
1 cup wheat bran
  1. For the starter: combine yeast, 1/2 cup flour and 1/4 cup whey in a container and place in a warm place in your kitchen.  Allow to rest for 2 hours.
  2. After 2 hours have passed, combine butter, eggs, sugar, salt, 1/2 cup warm whey and starter in the bowl of your electric mixer fitted with a dough hook.  Mix on low speed.
  3. Begin adding flour, one cup at a time.  After you’ve added first three cups, and they’re relatively well incorporated,
  4. Add the wheat bran
  5. Increase mixer speed to medium-high and let run.  If dough comes together in a ball, you’ve added enough flour.  If it is still tacky and sticking to the sides of the bowl, add flour a little bit at the time until dough comes together and cleans the sides of the bowl.
  6. Let mixer run on medium-high for 10 minutes or so.  Check dough periodically – pinch off a small amount and stretch it out to see if the gluten has developed: you should be able to stretch it into a very thin rectangle without it breaking (this is called the windowpane test).
  7. Butter the sides and bottom of a large bowl and place dough in there, turning once to coat both sides with butter.  Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot (either in your oven with the light on, or in a food dehydrator set at 115F) for 2 hours.  Dough should double in volume.
  8. Grease two 12-cup muffin tins
  9. Pinch of small hands-full of dough and roll in the palms of you hands to form smooth balls.  I was able to make twenty-four 1 1/2-2-inch balls out of this amount of dough.  Place the balls in the prepared muffin tins and cover with a damp cloth.  Allow to rise in a warm spot in your kitchen for another couple of hours.
  10. Preheat your oven to 375F
  11. Brush tops of rolls with an egg or milk wash and bake for 10 minutes, or until golden brown.

 Enjoy!

>A Summer Side: Hot ‘n’ Smoky Baked Beans

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This is an adaptation of a recipe that appeared in Bon Appetit magazine back in the late ’90s. I think it might have even been a Memorial Day issue. Or maybe it was the 4th of July. Anyway, I made it that year and have been making it every year since.  I’ve adjusted it over the years to suit my taste, but the flavors are all still there.
What makes it special and unique (and also one-of-a-kind, if I may be redundant) is that it uses chipotle peppers in adobo sauce for that extra somethin’ special. You’re not going to find these flavors from Bush’s. Or even Big John’s for that matter (does anyone remember Big John’s Baked Beans?).  Just remember that those little suckers can be pretty hot, so adjust the recipe according to your tolerance for that sort of thing.  What follows is a pretty mild version.

Hot ‘n’ Smoky Baked Beans
prep time 5 minutes, cook time 2-3 hours, serves 8-12
Ingredients

  • 1 lb navy or great northern beans, soaked and cooked. This is the equivalent of 6 cups or 2 28-oz cans of beans.
  • 1/2 cup minced onion
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 4 tablespoons molasses
  • 4 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 3/4 of a 12 oz. beer
  • 2 chipotles in adobo, minced finely
  • 6 pieces of bacon, cooked and chopped
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Preheat your oven to 350F. Combine all the ingredients in a casserole dish, cover and bake at 350F for 2-3 hours, or until they are hot, bubbly and all the flavors are thoroughly combined. You might have to taste them throughout the baking process to see if they’re ready. It depends a lot on whether you use dried beans or canned. For example, my dried beans weren’t quite cooked all the way through when I combined them with the other ingredients, so they took quite a bit longer to bake. With canned beans, you don’t have to worry about that.

Enjoy!

>Classic Southern with a Twist

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This week, in addition to the Romaine lettuce in our produce box, we had collard greens.  Although I’m a southern girl through and through, I’ve only recently acquired a taste for greens.  I prefer mustard and turnip greens, but collards are good, too.
Traditionally, collards are cooked low and slow with some fatback or ham hocks in salted water.  I wanted to do something different with these, though.  There’s a restaurant here in the Atlanta area – Taqueria del Sol – that serves a side dish of spicy turnip greens that are DE-licious.  The recipe was printed in the local paper a few years ago, making these delectable greens accessible to the home cook.

I love the original recipe, and would love to recreate it to the letter.  However, it is quite spicy, and my husband doesn’t tolerate as much heat as I do (he can do a mild heat, but doesn’t love super spicy foods).  I decided to tone mine down by using canned tomatoes and chillies instead of chile de arbol and diced tomatoes. 
I began by trimming and cleaning the greens.
I stripped the leaves from the stems and rinsed them in some cold water.
Then I rolled them up and cut them into 1-inch strips.
I boiled the greens in salted water for about an hour, until they were tender.  Then I drained them.  
I chopped half a red onion and sauteed it in 1 tablespoon of butter.  Then I added the drained greens, along with one can of diced tomatoes and chillies and two cups of chicken broth.  I let this cook for about 20 minutes more over low heat, just until the flavors all came together.
The end result was very similar to the original, just toned down slightly for a more sensitive palate.  
I served them with some pan-fried okra and baked chicken – yum!
Enjoy!

>Smashed Potatoes

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There were some lovely little baby Yukon Gold potatoes in my produce box this week.  It was only about 1.5 lbs worth (which, as you probably know, isn’t a whole lot of potatoes – they’re heavy little suckers), so I needed a recipe that would maximize their potential.
I considered simply roasting them, but then I remembered a recipe I’d seen many years ago from Jacques Pepin – tiny little smashed discs of potatoes cooked on the stovetop.

It’s fairly simple, and only requires a few simple
ingredients:
1.5 lbs yukon gold potatoes
1.5 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup fresh parsley or 1 tablespoon dried
salt to taste
Place potatoes, stock and butter in covered saute or chef’s pan over medium heat.  Let them come to a boil and cook 5-10 minutes, until potatoes are tender.  Remove the lid and add the parsley.  Taste for salt at this point – add if necessary.
Continue cooking until stock has evaporated.  Once all liquid is gone, gently smash each potato with a fork – be careful not to press to hard – you really just want to split them slightly.  Let potatoes brown on first side, then flip over and let brown on second side.
These are a great little side dish – soft and tender on the inside, crispy and brown on the outside – kind of like mashed potatoes enrobed in a crispy skin.  We served ours with meatloaf and a simple spinach salad.

>Black-eyed Pea and Quinoa Salad

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Tonight’s dinner consisted of barbecue pork sandwiches and this black-eyed pea and quinoa salad.  It was a nice light foil to the rich, succulent pulled pork.

Cook one cup of red quinoa in two cups chicken stock.  When it’s done, mix it in a bowl with two cups cooked black-eyed peas; two celery ribs, minced; half a medium onion, minced.  To this, add a light vinaigrette (1 tablespoon cider vinegar, 1 teaspoon dijon mustard, 1 teaspoon honey, pinch salt, fresh thyme, 2 tablespoons olive oil – whisk together to emulsify) and salt and pepper to taste.