Sunday, January 31, 2010

Celeriac Recipes

We were flirting in the kitchen by showing off our knowledge of culinary terms the other day. ("You want to make soup, huh? How about we make a mirepoix?") After a digression into French pronunciation, we decided to go ahead with the soup/mirepoix plan, but we didn't have any celery. We did, however, have this.

Celeriac, or celery root, comes from a plant similar to regular celery. Can you use it as a direct substitute for celery in a soup base? I don't know, but we did, which used up one of the four we got in our box this week.

What to do with the rest?

Puree is the most basic recipe: Alton Brown makes a straight-up celeriac puree that is ... pretty much just celeriac. Gourmet adds apples. EatingWell makes it with parsnips and potatoes.

Soup is a common use: Tiny Urban Kitchen has a tasty-looking celeriac-apple-potato soup recipe. FatFree Vegan Kitchen makes a (fat-free vegan) creamy celeriac soup.

NPR calls celeriac "the unsung frog prince of winter vegetables" and suggests a recipe for french-fried celeriac. Less charitably, Gordon Ramsay notes -- with his soup, dauphinoise, and curry recipes -- that "If there was a competition for the world’s ugliest vegetable, celeriac would take first place every time."

(I'm not actually sure what a dauphinoise is, but you can bet I'll be researching it -- and the pronunciation -- for our next go-round in the kitchen. Gourmet does a gratin with potato and Stilton, which I suspect is pretty much the same thing as a dauphinoise.)

What are you making with yours?

Monday, January 25, 2010

Eggplant Off-the-Rails

Last night we were cooking Lebanese lentils and rice and decided we might as well cook our eggplant as a side dish.

I hope no one reading this blog is coming away with the impression that we cook in a deliberate, organized fashion. This is kind of what it's like in our kitchen:

"How about a fried, breaded sort of thing? When I did breaded tofu last week, I dipped the sticks in soy sauce before breading them."
"I don't think soy sauce is Lebanese."
"How about vinegar?"

1. Slice the eggplant into rounds and sprinkle with balsamic vinegar.

"Hey, do you think I should marinate them?" [no answer]
Go fold dish towels for a little bit. "Wow, the eggplant soaked up a whole lot of vinegar."

2. Bread the eggplant in a mixture of breadcrumbs (a lot), chili powder (some), and salt (a little).

"Can I fry these now? Oh, you're using all the burners."
"Put it in the oven?"

3. Bake in the oven at, oh, 375 degrees.

"Did you put any oil on those?"
"Oh, shoot."

4. Remove eggplant from oven and drizzle with olive oil and flip. Check after about 15 minutes.

"They're not getting crispy."

5. Flip and return to the oven for a few minutes, hoping for a different outcome.

"Hey, how about I put them under the broiler?"

6. Broil for a couple minutes. Remove and taste.

"I can't really taste the chili powder. Add cheese?"

7. Flip and grate some parmesan on top. Broil for a couple minutes more, until the cheese is melted and slightly browned.

P.S. Lots of relevant stuff on the Bitten blog recently: Mark Bittman is making a winter citrus salad of oranges and grapefruit that looks delicious. Another writer on the blog seems to be coming with us on the dubiously-authentic winter vegetable curries.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Slow-Roasted Tomatoes

This simple technique is prescribed for "tomatoes that aren't as flavorful as you'd like them to be." It's from an everyday-French-food cookbook manuscript I was logging art for at the office this week. It seemed like a good match for our January tomatoes.

My recipe called for halved cherry or grape tomatoes; I used this week's roma tomatoes, cut into thickish slices. They're spread out on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.

The recipe said to sprinkle them with salt, pepper, and olive oil. (I also added a little rosemary.) Then just roast them in a 225-degree oven for three hours.

(Okay, I did a 225-degree oven for two hours, then a warming-to-400 oven for about half an hour more -- I had other things to get going for dinner.)

I ate a lot of them off the cookie sheet, but I'm planning to serve these in a salad with this week's mesclun and beets and some goat cheese.

(If you're fancy, call these tomates confites; here's how a more famous food blogger does them.)

Friday, January 22, 2010

Grapefruit Sunrise

Went for a run this morning, and came home to organic pink grapefruit for breakfast. Only 56 days until spring!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

More-Vegetable-Less-Cheese Macaroni and Cheese

We improvised this when we really just wanted mac & cheese for dinner but knew we needed to eat our vegetables.

We were too hungry/impatient to wait for sweet potatoes and squash to cook, so we cut them into very small pieces. To our pleasant surprise, that caused them to disappear into the sauce.


Boil a pound of pasta.

Meanwhile, in a giant saute pan, steam-saute your vegetables until very soft. We used one zucchini (largish dice), one sweet potato (finely grated), and one small butternut squash (cut into matchsticks). And we added some frozen edamame near the end of the cooking.

Also meanwhile, ask one of your housemates to make a cheese sauce. (Ours was a butter-flour roux, plus milk, plus a combination of bits of leftover fancy Christmas cheeses. Believe me, I wish I knew the exact recipe, too.)

While everything is still warm, vigorously stir together the pasta, vegetables, cheese sauce, and a big handful of arugula. Keep stirring until the squash and sweet potato are smashed into the sauce and the arugula is wilted.

Season to taste with salt, black pepper, and paprika.

(Inspired, sort of, by Mark Bittman's more-vegetable-less-egg frittata.)

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Fried Lettuce

We're still working on a backlog of vegetables from the holidays, and lettuce is, as always, the slowest going.

... so I think you will understand how amazing it is when I tell you that our house ate two heads of lettuce in one meal.

I'm willing to cook salad greens to reduce their volume, but I draw the line at lettuce. You can't cook lettuce!

Fortunately, some of my housemates are not so into boundaries. Jack says you can cook lettuce the way you cook dandelion greens. So, we did:

Cook some garlic in lots (lots! no, really, more than that) of olive oil. Add two heads of roughly chopped romaine lettuce and cook until wilted. Dress with soy sauce and ... whatever else you like.

That seemed too easy, so we garnished it with some sunflower seeds (toasted in a pan with chili powder) and sliced radishes (sauteed with butter and ground ginger).

Serve over brown rice.

If I hadn't known it was lettuce, I would have believed it was bok choy or one of the million varieties of Chinese greens.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Poutine Rules

Michael Pollan (The Omnivore's Dilemma) has a new little book, Food Rules, offering sixty-four short dietary guidelines with a paragraph of explanation. (His October piece in the New York Times Magazine explains more about the project, and it has a neat visualization of reader-submitted rules, to boot.)

A piece he wrote for the Huffington Post yesterday excerpted a few of the rules:
#39 Eat all the junk food you want as long as you cook it yourself.

There is nothing wrong with eating sweets, fried foods, pastries, even drinking soda every now and then, but food manufacturers have made eating these formerly expensive and hard-to-make treats so cheap and easy that we're eating them every day. The french fry did not become America's most popular vegetable until industry took over the jobs of washing, peeling, cutting, and frying the potatoes -- and cleaning up the mess. If you made all the french fries you ate, you would eat them much less often, if only because they're so much work. The same holds true for fried chicken, chips, cakes, pies, and ice cream. Enjoy these treats as often as you're willing to prepare them -- chances are good it won't be every day.

I like Michael Pollan but have to respectfully disagree with this one: Now that Jack has a mandoline (no, not a mandolin), he can get something like poutine on the table in twenty minutes.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Out with the Old ...

We ended 2009 by trying to eat down our accumulated vegetables, so I present Things You Would Never Think to Make If You Were Buying Ingredients at a Grocery Store, in two courses.

1. Squash-carrot-(avocado!?) soup

Just the latest in our long history of making large quantities of orange soup, this even-oranger-than-usual concoction included squash, sweet potatoes, carrots, tomatoes, giant garlic, and avocados. Non-CSA additions included a can of diced tomatoes, milk, curry powder, nutmeg, and a spoonful of Marmite.

Presumably there's a technique for making the soup, but I have to say this one was less rehearsed than usual.

Approximately: Cook the garlic in oil. Add squash and potato chunks and cook for a bit. Add grated carrots, tomatoes, canned tomatoes, water, and Marmite and cook until the vegetables are soft. Blend the soup a bit with an immersion blender, add avocados and milk to achieve desired consistency, and season to taste.

Makes an enormous amount of soup.

2. Stir-fried greens and ham

Our authentically vegetarian housemate is still out of town, so excuse the foray into carnivory.

Farm share items herein: Onion, green pepper, zucchini, basil, bunch of kale, bag of salad greens (I don't think normal people cook these, but I put them in at the very last minute to just wilt them a bit, and it reduces the volume a lot).

Non-CSA additions: Mushrooms and ham.

Brown the ham and mushrooms until the smoke detector goes off; set aside. Saute the onions, green pepper, and zucchini until just about cooked. Return the ham and mushrooms to the pan. Add the kale and a small amount of water, cover, and let steam until the kale is cooked. Add the basil and salad greens and steam for just a moment more. I seasoned with salt and pepper, red pepper flakes, and lemon juice.

Jack got a mandoline for his birthday (hi, Jack's mom!), so we did a beautiful mise en place with the onions, mushrooms, zucchini, and pepper very thinly sliced.