Category Archives: Recipes

Weekend Cooking: Vegetarian Beef Stew

Odd, I know, to cook up a batch of stew for Labor Day weekend. There will be plenty of time in the months ahead for that. No need to rush things, right?

But it’s the kind of holiday weekend here that’s cloudy and rainy with rumbles of thunder on-and-off, and I’ve had a craving for beef stew for the past week (which is a bit of an issue when you’re a vegetarian), and I didn’t get to the farmer’s market this week for any fresh veggies, and we’ll be traveling next Sunday when I usually make a pot of soup in honor of The Opening Day of Regular Football Season (also known as The Official Start of Fall) … and so, beef stew for dinner it is.

The vegetarian version, that is.

I’ve recently discovered the gardein brand of foods and these are now my preferred go-to substitute meat products. The Husband and I are the sort of vegetarians that, even after 15 years of this, we still miss certain foods.  Gardein is pretty damn authentic. (They’re not paying me to say any of this, by the way. I’m just a happy customer.)

I made the homestyle beefless tips over rice with green beans and soy sauce the other night, and that was a big hit in this house. I think that’s what sparked the beef stew craving, because that opened up whole door of possibilities.

I found this recipe for Beefless Stew on the gardein website, and that’s what I made for dinner.

1 package gardein beefless tips
3 tbsp vegetable oil
10 oz pearl onions, peeled  (I used regular chopped, as I didn’t have pearl onions)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 celery stalks, thinly sliced (omitted, as I hate celery)
2 medium carrots, ½ inch diced (I just threw in handful or two of baby carrots)
½ tsp dried thyme
½ tsp dried rosemary  (didn’t use; The Husband dislikes)
3 tbsp flour
3 cups vegan “beef” broth
(try better than bouillon brand) or roasted vegetable stock  (I used Better Than Boullion)

1 cup dry red wine such as cabernet sauvignon (omitted … but then I remembered I had some leftover merlot and wondered if that would have worked)

2 medium potatoes, ½ inch diced (I used a bit more, as I had some new potatoes to use up from a previous farmer’s market visit)

to taste salt and pepper

Heat oil in a large saucepan on medium high heat, add beefless tips and brown on all sides. Remove from saucepan and set aside. Add pearl onions, garlic and celery to saucepan and cook for 3 minutes. Add carrots, thyme, and rosemary and continue to cook for 3 minutes. Sprinkle in flour, then slowly add broth and wine while stirring.Add potatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 30 minutes.Add beefless tips back in and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

The Husband and I really liked this. The stew was incredibly thick and filling, just like any regular beef stew would be. The kids originally said they liked it, but Betty changed her mind after several spoonfuls. Boo gave it 3.5 stars out of 4. Not sure why the .5 point was deducted, but I’ll take it.

This goes on the roster of soups/stews that will be making an appearance at our table this fall and winter.

Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads and is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, beer, wine, photographs.

 

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Weekend Cooking: Farmer’s Market, Food on the Table, and Farmer’s Market Vegetarian Quesadillas

What I bought from the farmer’s market on Friday afternoon.
Photo taken by me on August 3, 2012

Since my first attempt at vegetable garden didn’t do all that well this year (that’s a whole separate post I’m working on), I’ve started doing the next best thing – visiting our local farmer’s market. And by “started doing,” I mean that Friday was the first time in THE ENTIRE ONE YEAR that we have lived here that I’ve gone to the farmer’s market. Which is all kinds of ridiculous, because there’s no reason this should have taken me this long. They set up in two locations: on Fridays, they are in the parking lot where the LIBRARY is (I mean, hello!) and on Saturdays, they are in the parking lot of the township building.

Anyway, so I picked Betty up from gymnastics camp on Friday afternoon and we had some time to kill before picking up Boo. We meandered over to the library and then to the farmer’s market. Betty immediately started yammering to the sellers about how we were going to be doing all of our shopping there from now on because the food is local and tastes better because it doesn’t have so far to travel. My girl. Taught you well.

I was just buying whatever looked good and whatever I knew our family would eat. All the produce in the photo above came to around $30. (What’s not pictured is an additional 6 ears of corn and a couple cherry tomatoes that rolled off the table while I was, as The Husband says, channeling my inner Annie Leibovitz by photographing produce.) I generally spend around $20-$25 in the supermarket for much fewer fruits and veggies than what I got at the farmer’s market.

Meal Planning with Food on the Table
I’ve been trying to be more conscientious about meal planning, given my unemployed status recently. Have you guys tried Food on the Table yet? I’m LOVING this site. Food on the Table integrates the sale items at your supermarket with your menu preferences AND GIVES YOU IDEAS FOR WHAT TO MAKE! And it is damn accurate too. Yes, I checked … because a) I am crazy that way and b) I’d be pissed as hell if the site told me that something was on sale at Giant Eagle and it wasn’t.

But it WORKS and it works beautifully and it is fabulous.

(Food on the Table isn’t paying me to say any of this, by the way.)

I actually had an honest-to-God meal plan last week. (OK, I picked up sandwiches from Sheetz mid-week because I didn’t have anything planned, but hey … 4 out of 5 days ain’t bad!) I have a meal plan prepared for this week, too.

Farmer’s Market Vegetarian Quesadillas
Tonight’s dinner combined my bounty from the farmer’s market along with my new meal-planning prowess thanks to Food on the Table.  I made Farmer’s Market Vegetarian Quesadillas, with some changes and one notable addition: I included one package of MorningStar Farms Meal Starters Chik’n Strips.

As I was chopping the veggies, I had water boiling for the beautiful corn that was picked yesterday morning.

Back to the quesadillas:

Ingredients

1/2 (cup) red bell pepper, chopped  (I used one green pepper, which wound up being 1 cup)
1/2 (cup) zucchini, chopped (I omitted; the kids and husband aren’t zucchini fans)
1/2 (cup) red onion, chopped (I used half of one of the large onions)
1 (tablespoon) olive oil
8 (9 inch) whole wheat tortillas (we had flour tortillas to use up)
1 1/4 (cup) shredded reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese (I may have added a bit extra cheese)

Directions
In a large nonstick pan, cook red pepper, zucchini, and onion in olive oil over medium to medium-high heat for about 7 minutes, or until just tender. (This is an untouched, straight out of the camera photo. Don’t these onions and peppers look gorgeous?)


My note: I added the Chik’n Strips in the middle of cooking this. See?

Remove vegetables from pan.

Coat the same pan with cooking spray, and place one tortilla in pan. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of cheese evenly over tortilla, and layer 3/4 cup of the vegetable mixture over the cheese. Sprinkle another 1/8 cup of cheese on the vegetables, and top with another tortilla. Cook until cheese melts, flipping once.

(FLIP ONCE??!! Like, as in the WHOLE QUESADILLA??? That made me SO NERVOUS, yinz. Like, Olympic performance nervous. Because, you know, I do not flip food. This is not a skill that I possess. 

The results? The judges (i.e., my internal critic) deducted some points for movement and shiftiness of the quesadilla, but overall the quesadilla stayed intact.) 

Repeat until all ingredients are used.

The Husband and I loved the quesadillas. Boo’s not a fan of onions, so next time I need to decrease the amount for him. The kids also had a hard time finishing an entire quesadilla along with a corn on the cob; one quesadilla might be sufficient for both of them, with two pieces each.

But, you know, they tried this and ate about half of it. Which is HUGE in this house.

This one goes into the regular rotation … as does a visit to the farmer’s market (which is open until the first week in October!)

Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads and is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs.

copyright 2012, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

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Weekend Cooking: 4th of July Blast Smoothie

Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads and is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog’s home page. For more information, see the welcome post.


We are, as I’ve mentioned in previous Weekend Cooking posts, well into berry season here at our house. In addition to the blueberries that are proliferating outside our door, we’ve been purchasing the likes of strawberries and blackberries at the grocery store. When I mentioned to Betty that we needed to use them up and perhaps we could have a Smoothie Night, she eagerly agreed.

We found this one on allrecipes.com, and a very timely one too for the upcoming Fourth of July holiday here in the States on Wednesday.

4th of July Blast Smoothie

1 cup fresh blackberries, or more to taste  (you could substitute blueberries for these; we didn’t, as I had some blackberries to use up)
5 large strawberries, hulled and halved
1 large banana
1/3 cup orange juice
2 cups crushed ice
1 teaspoon white sugar, or to taste
(optional) (I didn’t use this either; it wasn’t needed).
12 fresh blackberries

DIRECTIONS:
1. Place 1 cup blackberries, strawberries, banana, orange juice, and ice into a blender in that order, and blend on high speed until smooth, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Pour into 4 glasses and top each serving with 3 blackberries for garnish. (We didn’t do that step.)

Our thoughts: I had an apricot that needed to be used up, so I threw that into the mix too. We added a dollop of frozen vanilla yogurt, which made this more creamier and less tart for those who preferred their smoothies as more of a milkshake consistency.

Also, if you’re using 8 oz. glasses as I did above, you’ll only get two servings out of this. Smaller glasses will, obviously, result in more. (Like my math skillz there?) Regardless, this is a beautiful purple color and a delicious treat that is perfect for the 4th of July or anytime during the summer months.

copyright 2012, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

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Weekend Cooking: Corn Chowder

Let me preface this “saved for a rainy day” post by saying that I hope everyone in the path of Hurricane Irene stays safe this weekend.  Even though we’re out of storm’s way, about 99.9% of the people we know aren’t, especially our friends back in Delaware and those down the shore.  So, if that’s you and you’re reading this, just know that we’re thinking of you and hoping for the best with this one, ‘kay?

If you still have power and some canned foods, here’s a Corn Chowder recipe that we enjoyed on a recent evening, when cooler weather than usual for August combined with a thundershower made it a perfect late summertime night for soup.  Just one problem, though:  I didn’t have many of the required ingredients for, well, any kind of soup.  What I did have (left over from the move) were two cans of creamed corn and a can of potatoes, so … corn chowder it was!

I combined two recipes to create what turned out to be a soup that ALL FOUR OF US ENJOYED.  That usually doesn’t happen around here, especially with Betty proclaiming that she hates all kinds of soup.  We’ve instituted a “try one bite” rule at the table, and it seems to be working pretty well.  The kids have actually eaten foods that they initially resisted.

Here’s the first recipe that served as my inspiration:

Smoky Corn and Potato Chowder
(from the label of a Del Monte can of corn)

1 can (14.75 ozs)  Del Monte Cream Style Golden Sweet Corn
6 oz. (about 1 cup) cubed cooked ham or smoked sausage, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
1 can (14.5 oz) Del Monte Whole New Potatoes, drained and coarsely chopped
1 can (15.25 ozs) Del Monte Whole Kernel Golden Sweet Corn, drained
1 cup (4 ozs) shredded smoked cheddar, Swiss, or gouda cheese
green onion slivers, optional

Stir milk into cream corn in large saucepan.  Add ham or sausage, potatoes and whole kernel corn.
Heat through, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.  Stir in cheese until melted. Garnish with onion, slivers, if desired.

Corn Chowder

This recipe came from allrecipes.com and is the one that I followed most closely, with a few variations.  My notes are in italics.  I also apologize for the lack of photos.

1 onion, chopped
1/2 cup butter
2.5 cups of water  (I used No-Chicken broth)
2 cans creamed corn
4 potatoes, cubed (I used a can of Del Monte whole potatoes)
2 cups milk
1.5 tsp salt
3/4 tsp. salt
minced parsley

Saute onion in butter till tender. Add water (in my case, the broth), corn and potatoes, bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 15-20 minutes.  Reduce heat to low. Stir in milk, salt, pepper.  Cook for 5-10 minutes or until heated through. Sprinkle parsley to garnish.

I decided to garnish with cheddar cheese (as per the first recipe) as well as vegetarian bacon, which was a suggestion in the comments of the allrecipes.com version. At first I thought it was a bit too sweet for my taste, but I liked it a lot, as did everyone else.  I served this with pierogies.

Again, stay safe this weekend, everybody!

Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads and is open to anyone with a food-related post to share. Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, quotations, gadgets, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. 

copyright 2011, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

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Weekend Cooking: Hot or Cold Nicoise-Style Tuna Pasta

Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads and is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog’s home page. For more information, see the welcome post.

I spent a much-needed relaxing afternoon today with my mother who, earlier, had made one of the recipes from the latest issue of Every Day with Rachael Ray. We wound up having the Hot or Cold Nicoise-Style Tuna Pasta (on pg. 106) for dinner. The cold version, that is.

We’re celebrating the Fourth of July here in the States this weekend, and this would be a great dish to bring to a barbeque or picnic get-together.  For one thing, it doesn’t have any mayonnaise or anything creamy.  It’s a little different than your usual pasta salad. It also makes a lot, as you can see from the photo below.  (This is half the recipe, and with some slight modifications by my mother. She arranged it on a platter, kind of like an antipasto, rather than a bowl of pasta salad.) 

(If you’re not celebrating the Fourth or if your barbeque already happened, this is a great meal for those hot days of summer.)

Hot or Cold Nicoise-Style Tuna Pasta
from Every Day with Rachael Ray, August 2011, pg. 106
2 small yukon gold or red-skinned potatoes (my mom used red)
4 large organic eggs (my mom used two; I doubt they were organic)
salt
a couple small handfuls thin green beans
1 lb. short-cut pasta, such as conchiglie (shells), penne, or farfelle (my mom used 1/2 box – maybe slightly less – of Wegmans small shell pasta)
about 1/4 cup EVOO
2 tsp. anchovy paste or 4 flat anchovy fillets (optional) (mom didn’t use)
1 pint grape tomatoes
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup nicoise olives, chopped (mom used kalamata … which probably doesn’t make this a nicoise-style salad anymore, but whatever)
1 small fresno chile pepper, seeded and finely chopped (there’s no way she would have included this)
1 large shallot, chopped or thinly sliced (mom used a small shallot)
2-3 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
1.5 tsp. dried herbes de provence (half a palmful) (mom didn’t use this)
1 jar or can (12 oz.) tuna in water or oil (look for line-caught), drained and flaked (mom used the water kind)
a handful flat-leaf parsley, chopped
a small handful fresh tarragon leaves, chopped, or basil leaves, torn
Step 1
Place the potatoes and eggs in a medium pot; cover with water. Bring to a rolling boil, then turn off the heat, cover tightly, and let stand for 10 minutes. remove the eggs (leave the potatoes in the water) and peel them under cold water. Cut into small cubes. Remove the potatoes and dice.
Step 2
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt it, add the green beans and parboil for 4-5 minutes, Strain out the beans, reserving the pot of water. Shock the beans in cold water, then cut into thirds.
Step 3
Return the reserved pot of water to a boil, add the pasta and cook until al dente (my mom didn’t cook it till al dente, as we aren’t fond of al dente pasta). Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water.
Step 4
While the pasta is working, in a large skillet, heat the EVOO, 4 turns of the pan, over medium heat. Stir in the anchovy paste or fillets, if using. Add the tomatoes, wine, olives, chile pepper, shallot, garlic and herbes de provence; cover the pan and increase the heat to medium-high. Cook, uncovering the pan when the tomatoes start to crack, for about 10 minutes. Lightly crush them with a wooden spoon. Add the tuna, parsley and tarragon (or basil). Stir in the reserved pasta cooking water.
Step 5
Add the pasta to the sauce and toss well.  Add the green beans, potatoes, and eggs.
Our verdict:  All three of us who had this really liked it and declared it a keeper, although we thought it needed a dressing of some kind.  (Which is why you see the two bottles of salad dressing pictured.) I added Ken’s Light Balsamic to mine, while my mom and stepfather chose Ken’s Golden Vidalia Onion. I sampled a taste of that and it was pretty good (although my preference would be for the balsamic). Every Day with Rachael Ray has this as serving 4, but even half was more than enough for the three of us.



copyright 2011, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

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Weekend Cooking: Slow Spanish Beans and Rice (and a Cookbook Review)

Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads and is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related blog post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog’s home page. For more information, see the welcome post.

Cinco de Mayo may be over, but in celebration of the day on Thursday, I made a delicious and simple beans and rice dinner that is going to become a regular in our house many other days of the year. 

Now, I don’t know how authentic of a Cinco de Mayo recipe this was, but it doesn’t really matter.  And I know y’all are probably not that culinary-challenged to actually NEED a RECIPE for beans and rice.  All that matters is that the three of us loved it (and if The Husband had been dining with us, I’m betting he would have too.) 

It’s pretty simple – a crockpot recipe for beans and rice.  I know, doesn’t get more economical and easier than that, does it?  I’m all about fast and easy meals these days (since we’re trying to sell our house and will need to be prepared to eat quickly because of showings) and because of my impending job loss, frugality will soon become the name of the game around here.

Enter this cookbook that I checked out of the library.  Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker by Robin Robertson isn’t a new book (it was published in 2004), but it’s one I’d never seen before spotting it on the shelves. 

Slow Spanish Beans and Rice
slow cooker size: 3.5 – 4 qt
cook time: 6-8 hours
setting: low

1 tbsp. olive oil
1 medium-size yellow onion, chopped
1 small red or green bell pepper, seeded and chopped (I omitted; did not have)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup tomato paste (I had about this much leftover tomato sauce from two nights ago and used this instead)
2 tsps. chili powder
two 15.5 oz. cans pinto or kidney beans, drained and rinsed (I used one of each)
one 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes, with their juices 
1.5 cups water (oh, wow … as I typed, I just noticed I omitted this by mistake. Honestly?  It wasn’t missed.)
1 tbsp. tamari or other soy sauce
salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 cups cooked long-grain brown rice

(In regards to the rice, I have almost half of a Pampered Chef rice cooker (LOVE THAT THING!!!) full of white rice left from last night’s dinner. Since I wasn’t sure how much rice the kids would want, I ladled this over the rice instead of adding it into the crockpot at the end.)

1. Heat the oil in a medium-size skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, bell pepper, and garlic, cover and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add the tomato paste and chili powder and stir to coat.

2. Transfer the onion misture to a 3.5 – 4 qt. slow cooker.  Add the beans, tomatoes, water, and tamari; season with salt and pepper, cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours.   (I cooked for slightly over 6 hours.)

3. About 10 minutes before serving time, stir in the rice. 

As I said, we loved this.  I added a few small leftover pieces of chicken to the kids’ plates. I had a generous plateful for lunch (it’s really good as leftovers) with some cheddar cheese, and for dinner tonight we had fish with this as a side. (I called it “Mexican Fish” for the kids. Y’know, ’cause I’m all creative and shit like that.)

One of the things I’ve noticed in this cookbook (and several other slow cooking cookbooks) is the requirement to brown or soften ingredients on the stove first.  When I first started encountering this in recipes, I was kind of annoyed.  I mean, doesn’t that extra step kind of defeat the whole purpose of a slow cooker?!  But in the recipes I’ve done this for (Easy Cheesy Ravioli Casserole and now this), I think it does make a difference.  And really, it’s not that much more time.  We’re only talking a matter of minutes. (And, as Robertson says on pg. 8, it can be done the night before.)

Even better … you can do this pre-browning nonsense in the slow cooker itself.  This I did not know. On page 9, Robertson says you can “put oil and hard vegetables in the cooker, cover, and turn on High while you prep the rest of the ingredients. The amount of time this will take depends on the size and volume of the vegetables being used. For example, a tablespoon of minced garlic may take only 15 minutes, while 1/2 cup of chopped onion can take up to 30 minutes, so this shortcut is only practical if you plan to be in the kitchen anyway doing other things.”

The Slow Spanish Beans and Rice was the only recipe I had a chance to try before this was due back at the library, but here are some other ones that I want to sample soon:

Tuscan White Bean and Escarole Soup
Split Pea and Parsnip Soup
Corn Chowder in Winter
French Onion Soup with Cheesy Bruschetta
Creamy Tomato Soup with Israeli Couscous
Two-Mushroom Barley Soup
Slow and Easy White Bean Cassoulet
Sloppy Lentils
Farmhouse Fricassee
Arroz non Pollo
Vegetarian Paella
Slow-Fashioned Potpie with Biscuit Crust
Slow-Cooked Tomato Sauce for Pasta
Old Fashioned Bread Stuffing
Blueberry Cobbler
Pieless Apples a la Mode
Bourbon-Spiked Pumpkin Bread Pudding
Chocolate Fantasy Fondue (that’s going to cause a spike in the search terms to the blog, no doubt…)
Fudgy Chocolate Pudding Cake
Slow Baked Apples

Enjoy!

copyright 2011, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

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Weekend Cooking: Recipes from the Root Cellar: 270 Fresh Ways to Enjoy Winter Vegetables

If I was a betting woman (sometimes I am, sometimes I’m not), I’d wager that the majority of you reading this post currently have some degree of snow and/or ice on the ground. 

I’d also bet that when it comes to cooking through the doldrums of winter, your motivation and mojo is where mine is … south of the border, sitting on a beach with a cold drink in hand.

And I’m also betting that, even if you are inspired to cook during these gray days of winter, you’re at somewhat of a loss and woefully uninspired with the various winter vegetables for the taking.  I mean, hello … parsnips?  beets?  rutabagas?  turnips?  What the hell does one do with these, anyway?

There are 270 answers to that question in Andrea Chesman’s new cookbook, Recipes from the Root Cellar: 270 Fresh Ways to Enjoy Winter Vegetables.  Ms. Chesman readily acknowledges that winter vegetables get a bum rap and eating locally can seem harder to do in the winter months.  It doesn’t have to be, though, and in this well-written cookbook, she gives many tips on selecting, storing, and preparing these black sheep of the culinary world.

For this cookbook’s purposes, winter vegetables are considered to be dried beans, beets, brussels sprouts, cabbage, celery root, collard greens, garlic, Jerusalem artichokes, kale, leeks, mustard greens, onions, parsnips, potatoes, rutabagas, salsify, shallots, sweet potatoes, turnips and winter squashes. 

Chesman introduces each vegetable to her reader in the beginning section of the cookbook, devoting approximately a page and a half for each one to discussing its availability, storage, how to buy, preparation, cooking ideas, and high-falutin’ “math” (i.e: 2 pounds collards = 1 pound collard leaves (with stems removed and discarded) =   about 12 cups lightly packed = 2 cups cooked.) 

(I jest, truly.  My non-mathematical brain absolutely appreciates such tutoring.) 

I should also say that, while I am often guilty of skimming these introductory chapters of cookbooks (let’s get onto the recipes already!), I spent more time than usual with these pages in Recipes from the Root Cellar because these things are kind of foreign to my cooking repertoire.  Other than the beans, potatoes, onion, and garlic, we’re not big on many of these veggies.  Still, it was interesting to learn more about them, so I took the time to read this section, which makes this cookbook qualify (in my mind) as one for the Foodie’s Reading Challenge. 

I was also searching for a relatively simple, non-threatening type of recipe to try out on the family.  I needed something familiar enough that perhaps the addition of – gasp!  a winter vegetable! – might not be too noticeable, but would give us the chance to try something new.  I settled on Pasta with Kale and Chickpeas. 

(I lied to The Husband and and kids and told them all that the kale was spinach.)

This seems to be a fairly flexible recipe.  Andrea Chesman says that other greens and beans can be substituted for the kale and chickpeas, and I think that it could be dressed up a little bit more.  (With what, I’m not sure.)  Here’s the recipe:

Pasta with Kale and Chickpeas (says it serves 6, but I have my doubts.  It was sufficient for the 4 of us.)

1 lb. orecchiette or medium shells
3 tbsps. extra-virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 shallot, minced (I didn’t have this, and I think it might have mad a difference)
8 ozs. kale, cut into thin ribbons (about 6 cups lightly packed; remove and discard tough stems)
1 tbsp. dry white wine (also didn’t have)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 lb. ricotta cheese
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1.5 cups cookes chickpeas or 1 15 oz. can, rinsed and drained
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Cook the pasta in the boiling water until just al dente.  Reserve about 1/2 cup of the cooking water, and then drain.  Return the pasta to the pot and keep warm. 
2. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the garlic, shallot, and kale, and saute until the kale is completely wilted, about 3 minutes.  Stir in the wine, cover, and steam until the kale is tender, about 3 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper. 



Betty sauteing the kale  spinach.

 3. Add the ricotta and Parmesan to the pasta in the pot.  Pour in half the reserved cooking water and toss to form a creamy sauce.  Add more water if the mixture seems dry.  Add the chickpeas and the kale mixture and toss to combine.  Season generously with salt and pepper.  Serve at once. 

We liked this enough, but I thought it could have benefited from something more.  Maybe the omitted ingredients were more critical than I originally thought.  I also would have liked the sauce to not be as thick and have less of a dominant ricotta taste.  Most importantly, though, The Husband, while still not knowing this was kale instead of spinach (and he rarely reads my food blog posts, so we’re probably good), liked this, despite “the spinach being too crispy and not cooked enough.” 

Along with a well-written introductory section about each vegetable, Recipes from the Root Cellar is divided into sections titled Salads and Pickled Vegetables; Soups; Simple Vegetable Dishes; Beans, Rice, and Grains; Vegetarian Main Dishes; Main Dishes with Fish and Seafood; Main Dishes with Poultry; Main Dishes with Meat; and the all-important, Baked Goods and Desserts.

Some of the other recipes I’m hoping to try include these:

Roasted Vegetable Salad (I love warm salads)
Brussels Sprouts and Citrus Salad
Endive and Apple Salad with Candied Nuts and Blue Cheese
Couscous Salad with Kale and Feta
Cream of Garlic Soup
Tuscan White Bean and Kale Soup
Potato-Garlic Soup
Garlic-Crumbled Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Cornmeal-Crisped Brussels Sprouts
Parmesan Greens
Honey-Balsamic Roasted Parsnips
Smashed Potatoes with Root Vegetables (my mom made something like this one Thanksgiving, and I really liked it)
Hasselback Potatoes (this is described as a potato that is crispy on the outside and creamy inside, like a roasted potato)
Hot German Potato Salad with Sauerkraut
Kasha Varnishkes (also known as Kasha and Bow Ties in our house)
Savory Winter-Vegetable Bread Pudding
Cheesy Mac with Root Vegetables
Vegetable Couscous
Apple, Leek and Cheddar Quiche
Winter Fish Tacos
Creamy Fish Pie (described as “think New England style fish chowder in solid form”)
Orzo with Kale, Chicken, and Feta Cheese
Garden Cornbread
Applesauce Crumb Cake
Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Loaf
Marbled Pumpkin Cheesecake

I appreciated the variety and simplicity of these recipes (as well as ones that would be suitable for serving to company or bringing to an event). While I would have liked to have pictures included, this looks like a very good cookbook that would serve one well as a reference for some unfamiliar vegetables. 

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copyright 2011, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

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