Turnips!

Okay, kids, boil away!  “No way!” I hear hordes shouting.  Yes, indeed, I’m here to tell you that those staple roots available at very reasonable prices at farmers markets in early summer and fall to winter are actually an enjoyable vegetable to eat at dinner.  They’re a low carb alternative to potatoes on your dinner plate.  And if you cook them promptly the greens are delicious with ’em, so you get a double dose of veggies — roots and greens — for one effort. And everything is better with roasted garlic, which this has.

Here’s what you do, per the very excellent and wacky Power Vegetables by the Lucky Peach folks.  Boil them and toss them with a snazzy anchovy, caper vinaigrette and eat your low-carb veggies happily.  You boil the peeled, cut turnips for 15 minutes or less, throw in their greens at the end (or arugula or spinach, as I did), then toss with a Riviera/Italian wacky vinaigrette and … wow!  A great side to chicken or I’m told roast pork.

Ingredients:

5 garlic cloves, unpeeled

3 anchovy filets

1 t capers, rinsed and chopped

2 T chopped parsley

1/2 T red wine vinegar

1 T olive oil

4 turnips, peeled and cut into large bite-size pieces

Turnip greens, arugula or spinach (all optional)

Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 300 degrees (or can go to 350 if need be)
  2. Put garlic cloves on pan and bake for 30 minutes until soft.  Peel when cool enough to handle.  Mash if you want.
  3. Put up large pot of water to boil.
  4. Make (low-volume liquid) vinaigrette: Put anchovies, capers, parsley, oil, vinegar & S&P in a jar and shake.  Add garlic if cool, or else just hold on side to add with turnips later.
  5. When water boils and you’re ready to eat in 15 minutes, salt water and add turnips and boil for 15 minutes or until no resistance when poked with a knife, but before turning mushy.  Add greens at end and drain, returning all to pot.  Add dressing and garlic and stir well. Serve hot.

 

 

 

 

Thanksgiving

Menu 2016 (and many, many prior years!)

This is my traditional Thanksgiving menu.  My very favorite holiday, because it is so food-centric and fall harvest foods are so incredibly delicious. I might substitute brussels sprouts for collards if I had a second oven to roast ’em.  But maybe not since those collards are so deeply satisfying.  I omit what for many is standard fare of mashed or sweet potatoes and my orange dish is butternut squash — no need in my view to over, overload on carbs since there is stuffing and that turkey is gonna put folks to sleep anyway.  And then there’s pie, of course.  I will link to recipes shortly.

North Wind Farms natural turkey (16# is good size, even for small crowd)

Stuffing

Watercress salad to start

Crudities — carrots, olives, dilly beans, cheese and crackers

Cranberry quince chutney

Cranberry orange relish

Maple butternut squash puree

Collards — 2 hr simmer with garlic, sweet and regular onions, red pepper flakes in chicken stock

Onion, leek shallot gratin

Pumpkin pie

Maple, chocolate pecan pie

whipped cream

Decaf coffee

Winter salad — Watercress, pears and blue cheese

A delicious, elegant dinner party first course.  I served for Thanksgiving.  Pears are in season; watercress is a welcome bright green as Winter is setting in in the Northeast US.

Ingredients:

Watercress

Mesclun

Pears – D’Anjou

Blue cheese

Walnuts – roasted and cooled (375 degree oven for 8 mins until fragrant)

Vinaigrette:

Shallots, minced; soaked in apple cider vinegar to cover

Lemon juice

Walnut oil

Olive oil

S&P

Shake in bottle; refrigerate up to a couple days. Remove before using to come to room temp.

Salad assembly:

Wash and dry lettuce and watercress; remove thick stems if needed

Cut pear in half and core with corer, or cut into quarters and slice to remove core.

Cut quarters into quarters  or thirds lengthwise to make moderate-size wedges.

Toss greens with vinaigrette. Place on individual plates. Lay pears in pretty way grouped together on side of plate. Sprinkle walnuts and blue cheese on top. Drizzle more dressing on pears, etc.

Mexican baked fish

Fish gets a lively flavorful yet easy treatment with tomatoes, almonds, garlic, butter, cayenne and lemon.

This is a southeastern Mexican recipe, from Tampico, or adapted from Moosewood chefs’ idea of Tampico cuisine. In any event, it is delicious!  And did I mention easy too.

Thanks to Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant, Mexican section.

 

For one or two people:

6 oz cod per person (or flounder, scrod or haddock)

1/3 c sliced almonds, toasted and cooled (bake on sheet pan for 5 mins until fragrant)

8-10 cherry tomatoes, or 1 small tomato (if you have none or it’s winter, use sun-dried tomatoes reconstituted in boiling water)

chopped parsley or cilantro

 

1 garlic clove, minced

1/8 t cayenne

2 T butter

lemon juice from ½ lemon

 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

 

  1. Toast almonds, and let cool. Mix with tomatoes, parsley and salt. Can make this 2-3 days ahead if refrigerated – will allow flavors to meld, although I would not do this with fresh tomatoes since I believe Tomatoes Do Not Belong in Refrigerator.
  2. Heat baking pan in oven; remove and add 2 T butter to melt. When ready to cook, lay fish in pan.
  3. Heat in small sauté pan over very low heat: garlic, butter, and cayenne. Add lemon juice.
  4. Put almond mixture on top of fish. (If using flounder, roll flounder around almond mixture.) Pour butter garlic mixture on top of almond mixture.image.jpeg
  5. Cover and bake 20+ minutes until fish is cooked and flaky. Wow!

 

Serve with roasted potatoes and plain boiled green beans.

Late Summer Fruit Salad

Let’s say you want to try to watch your calories/waistline after months of saying “yes” to every ice cream opportunity. Try fruit salad! Fruit is still fresh, local and flavorful in the Northeast. From poaching fruit for apple and pear tarts, I happened to use the reduced poaching liquid for an impromptu fruit salad. Sublime.

Here’s a re-creation:

105 g water (approx 1/3 c.)

15 g sugar (approx 1 T)

juice of ½ lemon, divided

2” piece vanilla bean, cut in half lengthwise, seeds scraped into pot with water, then pod thrown in too

 

  1. Heat water and sugar in small pot to dissolve. Stir with wooden spoon. Add ½ of the lemon juice and all of the vanilla beans and pod, and cook for about 6 mins. Let sit out to steep or put into refrigerator to cool quicker.
  2. Cut up:

½ melon, cut into large chunks

½ pt strawberries, hulled and cut in half

½ pt blueberries

one apple, quartered, cored, peeled and cut into medium chunks.

  1. Mix sugar syrup, fruit and squeeze lemon onto apple, and mix.
  2. Refrigerate for at least an hour to allow flavors to blend. Take out at least ½ hour before serving to warm up a bit; though cooler than room temp is desirable.

 

Other options to explore:

Omit vanilla; use lemon verbena and/or mint

Try stronger flavoring such as cinnamon stick (& star anise?) with or without vanilla bean

Boiled potatoes

Buy your best new potatoes — fingerlings if available, or like I did, new Maine Yukon Gold (in later April).  This is an excellent accompaniment to a highly-flavored meat roast (like pork shoulder with garlic and rosemary).  Very handy technique for a dinner party since it does its thing pretty much on its own while you cook other parts of the dinner or chat with your friends.  When done, you can cover the pot and hold them for a bit.

Scrub and place taters in big pot with water to cover by an inch or more.  Cut in half or more if large.  Add salt.  Bring to boil and cook uncovered until barely tender.

Drain most of the water from pot, leaving 1/2 inch or more.  Add several cloves of garlic and slices of butter.  Cook uncovered, stirring occasionally until water evaporates.

Apple chutney for non-Thanksgiving Roast Turkey

imageThings are getting fancy boys and girls!  But just for now.  Let’s say you found a source for a natural, delicious turkey, and you want to roast one after Thanksgiving say, for New Years.  No cranberry for us, but rather we’re going fancy with an apple chutney.  Chutney?? Doesn’t that only come from jars?  Why no! It comes from your stove top.  It’s not difficult or complex, and I have it on good authority it does not really even require a precise recipe.  But you probably want one, at least to start.

Here’s the idea of a chutney, as I understand it so far:  A chutney is like a jam in that it is based on fruit and gets thick from heating fruit with sugar and the pectin from the fruit.  But a chutney is not just sweet — it takes the sweet and dons a debonair flair with sour and pungent.  As in:  brown sugar and apples (sweet) meet apple cider vinegar, red pepper flakes, mustard seeds and onions.  The sweet from the sugar balances the sour of the vinegar, and the pungent of the hot peppers and mustard adds a third dimension.  Do this relatively right and the flavors sing harmoniously.  This chutney — if all goes according to plan — will enliven a nice roast turkey.  Or at least that is the plan. [Update:  my guests loved it!  I thought I was going to have to hard sell it:  “Eat the chutney, eat the chutney.  Chutney with turkey.”  But nope.  Folks loved it and were asking me what that was, it was so good. Yup.  All gone.]

Ingredients:

4 firm apples (about 1-1/2 to 2 #) — include at least a couple Granny Smith or Mutsu (tart), and exclude McIntosh or other mushy/mushes when cooked apples) — peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2″ or less chunks

1-1/2 c. apple cider vinegar (Bragg’s is recommended)

1-1/2 c. sugar (300 g), approx 2/3 light brown sugar and 1/3 regular granulated (white) sugar

1 lemon (for juice to squeeze onto cut-up apple)

ginger — 2 oz or 2″ piece, peeled and rough chopped

couple garlic cloves

1 shallot, chopped (0ptional)

hot red pepper flakes — about 1 t

salt — about 1 to 1-1/2 t

2 T yellow mustard seeds

1 c. raisins (135 g) (or more if you like raisins, which I don’t especially, but they’re good here)

1 onion, peeled, cut in half and sliced (hold until later)

Directions:

Measure out vinegar and sugar into pot, and heat on medium heat until odoriferous and sugar has melted.  Turn off heat to wait for remaining ingredients to join the pot.

Peel and rough chop a 2″ or 2-oz piece of ginger.  Toss into mini processor with garlic, shallot, salt and red pepper flakes.  Give it a whirl.

When you chop apples, put them into a bowl, and squeeze a couple Tablespoons of lemon juice, and mix in (to keep apples fresh/ not brown).

Put chopped apple, ginger mixture, raisins, and mustard seeds into vinegar mixture.  Heat over medium heat, reduce to simmer, and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally for about 45 minutes until apples are soft (but don’t disappear into mush) and it thickens somewhat.

20 minutes before it is done, stir in onion.

Put in a bowl and leave out to cool, or pop into refrigerator uncovered.  It will thicken up as it cools.  Cover and store for up to one week.  Makes a good amount, almost 1 quart.

 

Guide/Initial reference:  Bon Appetit Apple Chutney (epicurious.com Nov. 1996)