Archive for the Category ◊ Veggies ◊

03 Oct 2013 Butternut Squash : Little Pieces of Heaven

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No one ever makes this recipe when I suggest it to them, EVER.   The recipe is just so…, so, …odd.  Mere mortals can’t put the ingredients together in their head and have any idea about how GOOD butternut squash tastes when cooked like this.  For years I’ve been banging my head against a wall trying to promote this recipe. I have submitted this recipe to two community cookbooks, and no one ever called to say how wonderful the recipe was, so I know no one tried it. My family loves this, of course.  These little pieces of heaven never make it to the table to be served with any meal.  We just crowd around the pan and eat it hot from the oven, elbowing out anyone who gets in our way.  I guess I could promote this recipe as our “Family’s Favorite  Secret Recipe”, one that we are now sharing with the world.  That might be more of a selling point than “No one ever makes this recipe when I suggest it to them, EVER”!

Anyway, I thought I found this recipe, a long, long time ago, in Jeffrey Steingarten’s book, The Man Who Ate Everything, but looking through the index now on Amazon I don’t see any mention of it in the index, or in the index of his other book, It Must Have Been Something I Ate. Now I am stumped, but I am still going to credit him for the recipe because I am pretty sure that’s where I found it, at least I think I am sure… I would have liked to have dreamed this up myself!  I would like to think I have a palate creative enough to roast some squash pieces, then sprinkle them with a little red wine vinegar and dried mint resulting in these Little Pieces of Heaven (really, they are just that) but I am fairly certain it didn’t happen that way…

Butternut Squash : Little Pieces of Heaven

  • 1 butternut squash
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter (or an extra tablespoon olive oil)
  • a pinch of Kosher or other coarse salt (if you only have table salt, that’s fine too)
  • a pinch of black pepper
  • 2-3 teaspoons Red Wine Vinegar or Raspberry Vinegar
  • a pinch of Dried Mint
  1.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Put rimmed baking sheet in oven to preheat, too.
  2. Peel and seed the squash.  Cut squash into bite sized pieces. (I like to slice the squash into rounds, or half circles, and then cut those larger slices into triangular shaped wedges.)
  3. Put the squash pieces into a large Ziploc bag or a bowl.  Add olive oil and optional melted butter and toss well.
  4. Remove hot tray from oven.  Pour oil coated squash pieces onto the hot tray and immediately place in hot oven.
  5. Bake for 10 minutes.  Check.  If the undersides of most of the pieces are slightly browned, remove tray from oven and turn pieces over.  (I do this one at a time with a fork.)  If the undersides are not yet browned.  Continue to bake for another 2-5 minutes, then remove from oven and turn pieces over.
  6. Return pan to hot oven.  Bake for another 7-12 minutes.  When the second sides are slightly browned and the squash looks cooked, remove pan from oven. You need those chewy browned edges for this dish to be spectacular.  If you are not getting them, broil the squash for a bit! (But don’t overcook the squash…) With this step, remember that cooking is an art, not a science.  You might have to adjust baking times/method to fit the strengths/weaknesses of your oven, the age of your particular squash and the size of the pieces you cut.
  7. After removing the pan from the oven, immediately sprinkle hot squash with vinegar (I put my thumb over the bottle top of the vinegar, and then shake a bit of vinegar onto the squash)–not too much–then sprinkle with coarse salt, a bit of black pepper and a sprinkling of dried mint.  Eat (or remove to a serving plate and then eat)

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today!  Oh, look what came out of my garden, ten butternut squash from 2 plants! The missing squash is in the picture above 🙂  I’m quite pleased with my bounty.  BTW, if you still have tomatoes left, be sure to make my Fresh Tomato Lasagna as a final farewell to your Summer garden.

26 Jan 2013 Onion Rings

There are a lot of bad onion rings out there.  I know.  If onion rings are on the menu, I will find a way to order them, but I rarely order them a second time at the same restaurant.  There used to be some good Onion Rings out there (and, eternal optimist that I am,  I keep hoping I will stumble upon them once again), but not any more.  Onion Rings are pretty much universally bad now, and often the same from restaurant to restaurant.  There’s this huge ring of  “crunchy” (“stiff” would be a better word) “batter” (if that’s what you can call brown cement) engulfing a thin, watery, tasteless bit of something-that-looks-like-an-onion, which is served up hot and hard.  One bite, and that something-that-looks-like-an-onion comes slithering out leaving a hot ring of brown cement in your hand.  Sadly, these are not the worst Onion Rings.  The worst ones have the same batter, but with reconstituted onions on the inside!  Horrific.  Let me tell you a little secret though.  Onion Rings, good ones, real ones, are very easy to make.  If you promise to read my blog forever and ever, comment occasionally, and say nice things to your friends about it, then I will share my recipe with you!

Way back when, when my Dad was healthy, he would visit on a regular basis.  I would make a batch of these for him.  He’d sit on his stool, drink his Manhattan, eat onion rings  and tell me what a good cook I was while I prepared dinner.  That doesn’t happen any more.  Sometimes he forgets he’s eaten dinner, even when he’s still sitting at the table. Occasionally, he still tells me I am a good cook though.  I think I’ll make Onion Rings for him again, next time I see him.  Maybe they’ll trigger a memory, just like this recipe did for me.

There is not much batter on these Onion Rings, just a light coating of flour moistened with buttermilk…, and they are sooooooooo GOOD!

Polly’s Onion Rings

  • 2 or 3 large brown onions
  • 2 cups buttermilk (in a pinch I have successfully substituted 2% milk)
  • 4 teaspoons salt (divided use)
  • 1 teaspoon pepper (more if you are a pepper lover, you could also substitute or add in a dash of cayenne, if you’d like)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • oil for frying (I use one 48-oz bottle of canola or vegetable oil.  I discard all the oil when cool)

1.          Cut onion into 1/2 inch thick slices and separate into rings (my rings are usually a bit less  than ½ inch)

2.        In a large bowl or  Ziploc mix buttermilk and 2 teaspoons salt.  Add in the onion rings.  Stir or shake to drench all the onions.  Let onions soak in the buttermilk, at room temperature, for least 10 minutes, and up to an hour or more.  Stir or shake occasionally.

3.        Drain rings from buttermilk. Discard the buttermilk…or save it for another use. ( I have been know to use the buttermilk and the leftover flour from the next step  in Yorkshire pudding batter.)

4.        In a large Ziploc bag combine 2 cups flour, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon of pepper.  Shake to combined.

5.        Add onion rings to the flour mixture a few at a time.  Shake until covered with flour.  Remove the rings from the flour and place on a cake rack to dry for at least 15 minutes (and up to an hour).  Repeat until all onion rings are lightly coated in flour and drying on a rack.

6.        Pour oil into a heavy pan.  Heat oil to 360 degrees. (If you are an experienced and careful cook, the oil can be heating while you are completing step 5)

7.        Fry onion rings, in batches, until golden.  Turn each ring over at least once.  (A batch, determined by the size of your pan and the size of the onion ring, so a batch could be as few as 4 onion rings or as many as 10.  Try to cook large onion rings in the same batch, small onion rings in the same batch, the medium onion rings together, and so on.) Each batch should cook for approx. 3 minutes (up the time a bit for larger onions).

8.        Transfer cooked onion rings to a paper towel lined tray to drain off and absorb excess oil then place in a 200 degree oven to keep warm, while you fry another batch. (My family eats as I fry, I can’t get them in the oven.)  Bring the oil temperature back to 360 degrees before adding more onions.

9.        Serve hot with additional salt (I use Kosher salt)

Makes approx 50 onion rings.

I just made these for the “Superbowl Snack” theme meeting of my cookbook club. They are great to make as your guests walk in, as they are best right out of the oil.  Don’t cut up too many onions though, or you will never get a chance to sit down.  I find folks will eat as many onion rings as I make…, and at a faster clip than I can make them!

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today.  It was a good day to stop by, this is one of my all time best recipes (and one of my most sinful… 🙂 )

 

28 Jun 2011 Grilled Vegetable Platter

I love veggies, as long as they are cooked.  If they are grilled, even better.  I started grilling veggies a few years back.  I just sliced and grilled.  Except for loosing a significant number of veggies through the grill, they worked out great.  I grilled carrots, zucchini, asparagus, onions and sweet potatoes.  Now I am working on fancier grilled veggies; a little marinade, a little glaze, grill marks…

Last week I received an email, “Top Ten Recipes of June 2011”.   This email came from Taste of Home magazine.  I am not a huge fan of Taste of Home, too many of their recipes start out with a mix, but I am a sucker for Top Ten lists. So I opened the email.  The picture of the  Grilled Vegetable Platter looked good, the recipe had five stars out of five stars with twelve reviews, so I clicked away.  The recipe sounded good and looked simple enough, so I tested it…, winner, Winner, WINNER!

Don’t feel like you have to stick to the veggie combo listed.  Grill what you have and what you like.  I left out all the bell peppers.  I. don’t. like. bell. peppers.  I didn’t add in any mushrooms because I just posted that fabulous recipe for Grilled PortobellosTaste of Home reviewers also reported adding green beans, snow peas, sweet potato rounds, and halved cherry tomatoes  into the mix.

My change to the Taste of Home recipe is to make two marinade mixtures.  Use one to marinate the veggies in prior to grilling (and then discard that marinade with the Ziploc bag), and then use the second one to drizzle over the veggies after grilling, the second marinade is just slightly different from the first. I also substituted freshly minced garlic for the garlic powder in the first marinade.

Now for my number one tip on grilled veggies… Grill the veggies first, before the meat or the fish.  Veggies are grill hogs, taking up an entire grill, and some of them take a surprisingly long time to grill, onions especially. The asparagus will cook most quickly, then the squash, then the carrots, and the onion will probably still be cooking when you start in on the meat.  Just remove each veggie when done and, when your veggie platter is mostly complete, drizzle with the second marinade, and place the whole platter in a warm oven.  Another reason for cooking the veggies first?  You can be in the middle of cooking them when  your guests arrive, and I haven’t met a guest yet who is not impressed by a grill covered in marinated mixed veggies, some with nice char marks!

Grilled Vegetable Platter

For the pre-grilling marinade

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons honey
  • 1 Tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 clove garlic, minced or 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

For the post-grilling drizzle

  • 2 Tablespoon olive oil (this is the time to use your best tasting/most expensive olive oil)
  • 1 Tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 Tablespoon (which is equivalent to 1 1/2 teaspoons) Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Veggie Mix (mix it up to suit what you have on hand, what you like to eat, and how many people you are serving…keeping in mind grilled veggies make great leftovers and are almost as good eaten at room temperature as they are when they are eaten fresh from the grill)

  • 1 pound fresh asparagus, trimmed
  • 3 small carrots, cut in half lengthwise
  • 3 small zucchini, cut in half lengthwise
  • 1 large sweet red, yellow, or green bell pepper, cut into 1-inch strips
  • 2 medium yellow summer squash, cut into 1/2-inch slices
  • 1 sweet potato (I prefer Garnet Yams), peeled and cut into slices
  • 1 medium red onion, cut into four wedges (I used a sweet Vidalia onion)
  • other possible add ins or substitutions: mushrooms, halved tomatoes, green beans, snow peas…
  1. Combine the olive oil, honey, Balsamic vinegar, oregano and minced garlic or garlic powder for the marinade. Pour into a large resealable plastic bag; add the vegetables. Seal bag and turn to coat; refrigerate for 1-1/2 hours.
  2. Combine the ingredients for the drizzle; cover and set aside.
  3. Place vegetables on a grilling grid (I don’t do this…I place the veggies directly on the grill, and loose a fair number of asparagus spears, skinny carrots and zucchini).  Grill, covered, over medium heat for 4-6 minutes (adjust for each veggie) on each side or until crisp-tender. Note: The onion wedges will probably fall apart.  That’s OK.  Just grill the slices (the slices that don’t fall through the grill, that is).  As soon as each slice is nicely brown and feels soft, transfer to platter and drizzle with some of the second marinade mixture.
  4. Transfer to a large serving platter. Drizzle with the second “marinade” mixture.
  5. Serve, or if desired, place in warm oven (250 degrees) to stay warm until needed

So now you know what you will be grilling, what should you have for dessert?  S’mores (or S’mores Bars?), Frozen Bananas (always fun), or my personal favorites, Fresh Blueberry Pie or a Mixed Berry Pie?? Have some fun and search my recipes!

Outdoor grilling rocks! Hope you are enjoying both cooking and dining outside.  Next up, grilled artichokes! Thanks for stopping by my kitchen again today.  I love it when you pop in!

 

09 Jun 2011 Marinated and Grilled Portobello Mushrooms

The best Marinated and Grilled Portobello Mushrooms I’ve ever had were served at my 30th high school reunion. (Yes, I am that old. Dang it.)  The mushrooms were served at room temperature, they were “meaty” (as Portobellos are known to be), tangy, smokey, and a bit salty.  Of all the things to remember about a high school reunion, I remember the mushrooms?  There’s something seriously wrong with me…

Most unfortunately,  I don’t have that particular Helix High School 30th Reunion recipe for mushrooms, but I have finally found a recipe and method  that seems to come pretty darn close.  For this I have to thank Cook’s Illustrated, which was a starting point for this recipe.   I adjusted their method just a bit to ensure some nice grill marks on the Portobello slices, and to make it a bit more convenient to prep ahead of time.  The original recipe is from the 2010 “Summer Grilling” publication (page 61).

These Portobellos are marinated, grilled, sliced, grilled a second time, marinated a second time, and served.  Yes, another recipe that is a bit of a bother, but the steps are easy, and can be done ahead of time, and the final step can be done while the guests stand around ohhh-ing and ahh-ing and wishing they knew how to make such marvelous mushrooms.  You’ll feel so accomplished. Trust me on this.

Marinated and Grilled Portobello Mushrooms

4 large Portobello mushrooms (between 5 and 6 inches in diameter, about 6 oz., each, in weight)

Pre-grilling Marinade

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt

Post -grilling Marinade

  • 2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon (or 1 teaspoon dried)
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  1. Combine all ingredients for first marinade in a large Ziploc bag.  Add cleaned mushrooms, seal bag, and toss gently. Let mushrooms stand at room temperature for about one hour in this marinade.
  2. Cut four 12-inch pieces of foil.  Remove mushrooms from marinade.  Place one mushroom, gill side up, on each square of foil.  Fold foil edges over mushroom and seal securely.
  3. Grill mushrooms in foil packed, gill side/sealed foil side UP, until mushroom is tender and juicy, about 10 to 12 minutes.  Set aside to cool.
  4. Carefully open foil packets.  Remove mushrooms and slice, on the diagonal, into long thick slices.
  5. Combine all the ingredients for the second marinade in a large bowl and set aside.
  6. 20 minutes before dinner, return sliced mushrooms to grill.  Grill each slice until nicely grill marked.  Depending on the heat of your grill this could take anywhere from 1-3 minutes on each side.
  7. Place grilled mushroom slices in bowl with marinade and toss to coat.  Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let mushrooms marinate for 15 minutes (and up to 30 minutes).
  8. Remove mushrooms from marinade and place on serving platter. Enjoy!

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today.  If you would like to receive a quick 2-line email when I post my next recipe, please enter your email address in the “subscribe” box in the right-hand column 🙂

Happy Grilling!

P.S. This grilled recipe is being added to the summer grilling link party at Family Fresh Cooking! Let’s get Grillin’ with Family Fresh Cooking and Cookin’ Canuck, sponsored by Ile de France Cheese, Rösle, Emile Henry, ManPans and Rouxbe!

16 Jan 2011 Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Brussels Sprouts ruined every Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner for the first thirty years of my life.  It was a rule, in my house, that everyone had to eat one Brussels sprout at Thanksgiving dinner and another at Christmas dinner. I dreaded Thanksgiving dinner and Christmas dinner.  Brussels Sprouts were bitter, soggy and all around YUCKY.  I would choke. I would gag.  My stomach would lurch.  I’d grimace.  My family would laugh, but show no mercy. It had to be swallowed. It usually took two bites. Although Brussels Sprouts were number one on my most hated foods list, there were other foods on the list, too: lima beans, pancakes, corn and maple syrup. But! Lima beans, pancakes, corn and maple syrup didn’t constitute a power struggle with my parents.  Brussels sprouts did.

I was thirty years old before I had the wherewithal to refuse to eat one more Brussels sprout.  When I put down my fork that Christmas, I didn’t pick it up again, for ANY Brussels sprout, for another twenty years.  Whatever possessed me to try Brussels sprouts again, I don’t know, but when I was fifty years old I found out Brussels sprouts could be rendered edible if they were fresh and roasted.  My parents used to serve frozen Brussels sprouts that had been boiled.  Please! Don’t do this!

Buy fresh Brussels sprouts, preferably on the stalk, and preferably after the first frost (Brussels sprouts that have been nipped by frost are sweeter).  Old green beans don’t taste good, neither do old carrots or old mushrooms.  Cook the Brussels sprouts soon after harvest, and roast them using the recipe below (which is based on a recipe I found at Epicurious.com in 2004).  They’re GOOD!

Of all my hated foods, the only one left on the list is lima beans. And I’m afraid that I raised my kids to hate them, too.  I told them they never, ever, ever have to eat a lima bean. Then wouldn’t you know, a very nice, very personable college boy takes a liking to one of my daughters.  After awhile, he invites her over to his parents farm to have lunch with his parents.  His parents are lima bean farmers, ROFL!!  She had lima beans for lunch!! Fortunately, the relationship hasn’t progressed to the point where I have been invited to meet the parents and have lima beans for lunch!

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

1 lb Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved

2 oz. pancetta, minced (2 oz. thick, good quality bacon can be substituted)

1 garlic clove, minced

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons white wine (or chicken broth)

salt and pepper, to taste

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. In a bowl, toss together sprouts, pancetta, garlic, oil, wine and salt and pepper to taste. Pour into a shallow baking pan.  Make sure the Brussels sprouts are laying flat in a single layer.
  3. Roast Brussels sprouts for 15 minutes.  Remove from oven.  Turn over, and roast for an additional 15 minutes.
  4. Serve hot.  Makes four servings.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today! Go ahead!  Make this recipe! You won’t be disappointed 🙂

05 Nov 2010 Corn Pudding

My daughters made me do it. My daughters made me do it!!  Why else would I mix a box of Jiffy cornbread mix with a few cans of corn, a hefty handful of cheese, some butter, some sour cream and then pour it into my prettiest casserole dish and call it Thanksgiving?  Do you think I want to expand out of my jeans?  Nooo, of course I don’t.  I did it for my girlies. They seriously loved this corn pudding.  Just like they love those corn cake things at Chevy’s.  They think I am pretty darn smart.  Yay for the Internet! I found this recipe at The Runaway Spoon, but I must also thank my friend Terry, who brought a dish very similar to this to a Dining For Women meeting last winter… I have been thinking about it ever since!

Corn pudding is on our Thanksgiving menu now (along with a mandatory before dinner walk around the lake).  We usually try out one new dish each year (at least). The bright yellow will be a colorful addition to our plates, we have almost all the colors of the rainbow on the plate now (well, except for the colors at the blue-purple end of the rainbow).  And here’s another plus for this recipe, the leftovers will reheat very well in the microwave, 19 year old boys could probably do it all by themselves.  I don’t know about you, but after I get Thanksgiving dinner on the table I don’t want to cook again for at least another week!

Corn Pudding

2 eggs
1 (16-ounce) can creamed corn
1 (16-ounce can) whole kernel corn, drained
½ cup (1stick) butter, melted
1 cup (8-ounces) sour cream
1 (8½ ounce) package Jiffy corn muffin mix
1 ½ cups grated cheddar cheese (other kinds of cheese can be used, pepper jack anyone?!)
¼ cup finely chopped fresh chives (or finely chopped green onion if you forget to buy the chives, or chilies, or green pepper…)
½ teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 350º.  Grease a 9 by 13 inch baking dish.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs, then add both corns, butter and sour cream and mix thoroughly.  Fold in the corn muffin mix, cheese and chopped chives.  Add salt and a few grinds of black pepper and mix completely.

Scrape the mixture into the prepared pan and smooth the top.  Bake for 30 – 35 minutes until puffed and golden and firm in the center.

Serve immediately.

Makes a lot of servings, at least 10-12.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today!