Warm Kale and Cucumber Salad

June 05, 2008 By: Megabeth Category: Salads

My first recipe using CSA ingredients comes from the CSA itself –Great County Farms. My notes below are in italics. I reduced the recipe so that I could use the rest of the kale in another recipe

Warm Kale and Cucumber Salad

Warm Kale and Cucumber Salad
Two bundles of Fresh Kale – I used four large stems
1 large Cucumber – I used about 1/2 of the cucumber
¼ cup Spring onions, chopped – I used 1 spring onion
¼ cup White wine – I did not reduce this amount
4 Tbsp. Butter – I used olive oil instead
Salt and pepper – to taste

Warm Kale and Cucumber Salad Preparation

De-stem kale and chop into bite-size pieces.

Warm Kale and Cucumber Salad Preparation

Dice cucumber about ¼-inch.

Warm Kale and Cucumber Salad Preparation

Heat sauté pan to medium heat. Melt butter (a tablespoon or so of olive oil) and add spring onions.
Warm Kale and Cucumber Salad Preparation Warm Kale and Cucumber Salad Preparation
Turn heat up, and add chopped kale.

Warm Kale and Cucumber Salad Preparation

Add wine, splash by splash, and toss until kale is wilted but not mushy.
Warm Kale and Cucumber Salad Preparation Warm Kale and Cucumber Salad Preparation
Add cold cucumber at end with salt and pepper, and plate. (The objective is not to cook the cucumber.)

Warm Kale and Cucumber Salad Preparation

Conclusion: This was the first time I have cooked with kale. It’s easy to clean and prepare. It cooks down much like spinach does but once cooked it has a tougher, chewier consistency.

Warm Kale and Cucumber Salad

The white wine shone through and was a great compliment to the kale and, surprisingly, the cucumber. I’d use a good white wine rather than a cooking wine because it does indeed contribute to the success of this dish.

My in-house taste tester agreed and felt that this would be a satisfying meal after a long bike ride.

Risotto: It’s not that hard to make…

May 22, 2008 By: Megabeth Category: Main Dishes

Really. Risotto is not hard to make.

Most people have the misconception that risotto is a time-consuming and labor-intensive dish to prepare. It’s probably because they get turned off by thinking they have to be chained to the stove to stir, stir, stir. But, there really isn’t a need to stir. Alton Brown even agrees with me.

Basically, the more you stir risotto, the more starchy goodness gets rubbed off. The less starchy goodness you have the less creamy the risotto will be. (Alton Brown would have you think of risotto having little raincoats on them, the more you stir, the more the risotto bonks around and the more likely that the starchy rain coats will come off.) The best part is, without all the stirring, there is more time to do other things in the kitchen.

My Risotto

– olive oil
– 1 box risotto
– at least two cups white wine
– vegetable broth
– shredded parmesan cheese
– freshly ground pepper
– optional ingredients: onions, peas, mushrooms or asparagus sauteed in olive oil

Put a few tablespoons of oil in the bottom of your pot on medium heat. Brown some chopped onion (optional in our house).

Add uncooked, dry risotto into pan and coat with oil. “Toast” the risotto in the pan until slightly brown (or you smell the risotto cooking).

Add one cup white wine first. Only stir a little bit to distribute the liquid. Let risotto sit until it absorbs the liquid. But, don’t let it get too dry.

Add one cup heated vegetable broth. Again, let risotto sit until it absorbs almost all the liquid.

Keep adding one cup vegetable broth and the letting the risotto absorb. Gently stir occasionally to prevent risotto from sticking to the bottom of the pot.

Risotto will start expanding. Once you’ve hit about six to seven cups of liquid, begin taste testing risotto for doneness. Keep adding liquid until risotto is soft and creamy. If you run out of vegetable broth and the risotto still needs to cook, use hot or boiling water until done.

Towards the end of cooking stir in one of the following optional ingredients: pre-sauteed mushrooms, peas or small pieces of asparagus.

The last cup of liquid to absorb should be one more cup of white wine. Otherwise, the wine flavor is hidden by the vegetable broth taste.

Stir in some shredded parmesean cheese.

Serve in bowls with freshly ground pepper and parmesan cheese sprinkled on top. And, the best part is that risotto is just as good the next day as leftovers.

So, resist the urge to stir except to keep the risotto from sticking to the bottom of the pot. You’ll save so much time and have a great side, or main, dish.

Sesame Eggplant Steaks

May 21, 2008 By: Megabeth Category: Main Dishes

Ironically, the first recipe I post from the cookbook “Vegetarian Burgers: The Healthy, Delicious Way to Eat America’s Favorite Food” by Bharti Kirchner is not a burger. Originally published in 1996, this cookbook has 25 vegetarian burger recipes that aren’t the same old Gardenburgers. Ms. Kirchner also gives several side dish and condiment recipes as well.

This sesame eggplant steak recipe was placed in the side dish section of the book, but with thicker slices it would be perfect on a whole wheat bun.

Recipe from book is italicized, my notes are not.

Sesame Eggplant Steaks – 4 side dish servings

  • 1 1/2 pounds eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch inch rounds (if the rounds are greater than 3 inches in diameter, cut in half) – I used one eggplant and cut into 1/4-inch rounds
  • Dark sesame oil for brushing
  • Black salt and freshly ground pepper (regular salt can be substituted) – I used sea salt
  • Hoisin sauce for brushing – Before I started I could have sworn I had this, but I didn’t. So, I substituted soy sauce.
  • Plum sauce for brushing

1) Preheat oven to 450.
2) Brush one side of the eggplant pieces generously with sesame oil and dust with salt and pepper. Place the pieces, seasoned side up, on a lightly oiled baking sheet. (Use a flovorless cooking oil such as canola oil or cooking spray.)
– I used canola cooking spray

Eggplant brushed with sesame oil

3) Bake for 7 to 10 minutes. Turn the pieces, brush lightly with oil and again dust with salt and pepper.
4) Bake for another 7 to 10 minutes or until the rounds feel soft when pierced with a fork. .
– Because I had thinner slices, I only cooked for about 5 minutes more
5) Turn them and brush with the hoisin (or in my case soy sauce) and plum sauce.

Eggplant after baked in oven with soy sauce and plum sauce brushed on.

6) Place under the broiler, sauced side up. Broil about 4 inches from the heat for 2 to 5 minutes or just until the sauce is heated. Watch for any signs of burning and remove immediately if the steaks begin to blacken. Best served warm, but is also good served at room temperature.

Sesame Eggplant Steaks

This recipe was a perfect blend of the sweetness from the plum sauce and the salty from the soy sauce. The flavor was reminiscent of a General Tso’s sauce. If using soy sauce, put a little less on if you’ve got a heavy hand with the salting in the first steps. With thicker slices, I may try this combination on the grill and, as mentioned above, serve on wheat buns.

Tomato Rarebit

May 18, 2008 By: Megabeth Category: Sandwiches

Rarebit is a Welsh dish that is basically cheese on toast.

This tomato rarebit recipe came from a British book, “Delicious Vegetarian Cooking” by Ivan Baker. I have a 1972 edition which is a direct reprint of the original book published in 1954. According to the author, “This book should do much to dispel the misconception people have about vegetarian cookery – that it lacks variety and is not very tasty.”

Original text from the book is italicized. My notes are not italicized.

Tomato Rarebit

  • Sprinkle 6 halved tomatoes with oil and lemon… – I interpreted “6 halved” as three tomatoes halved into six pieces. However, I had plenty of rarebit for six more halves. I premixed a few tablespoons of oil and lemon and used pastry brush to apply to tomato halves
  • Then with grated raw onion and bake lightly for 5 minutes – I preheated oven to 350 and heated tomatoes for about 7-8 minutes
  • Take from oven, spread Rarebit mixture on them – see recipe below. I hand “smooshed” the rarebit on the tops of the tomatoes.
  • Sprinkle with cheese and a few fine breadcrumbs, dot with butter, brown quickly under the griller. – I placed under the broiler for about 4-5 minutes
  • Serve on rounds of hot buttered toast – I served on squares of hot buttered wheat toast.

Rarebit Topping

2 oz grated cheese – approx 1/4 cup
1 cup bread crumbs
1/2 oz butter
– approx 1 Tablespoon
1/4 pint milk
– approx 1/2 cup
pinch each: salt, pepper, nutmeg

  • Melt butter in saucepan – Unfortunately, I only had Smart Balance Light on hand. I really do not recommend this product as it doesn’t really melt that well.
  • Stir in cheese and milk and cook gently till the cheese begins to melt. – I kept saucepan on medium heat, stirred cheese and milk until it became a saucy consistency. I used a milder cheese blend but a sharp cheddar would probably be even better.
  • Add the breadcrumbs and seasonings, cook gently 2 minutes more – The breadcrumbs quickly soaked up the liquid and was still dry. I added a little more milk to make the mixture a little more pliable.
  • Spread over savouries to be finished in the oven or under griller till lightly browned. – See above

In the end, the crusty, cheesy topping is a nice counterbalance to the hot juicy tomato. I’d probably use a sharper cheese and perhaps add a little bit of beer or ale into the rarebit mixture. At first, I almost skipped the wheat toast, but was happy with it as the tomato juice moistened the bread even more.

My other taster found the tomato rarebit to be a substantial and filling meal or a “workman’s alternative to a ploughman’s lunch.”

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