Brussels Sprouts, Black Beans, and Carrots

This was a quick and easy supper.

  • ½ tsp anise seed
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 2 small carrots, peeled and cut into coins
  • 8 oz. Brussels sprouts, cut off the end and then halve or quarter depending on the size so they are all the same size.
  • 1 can black beans, thoroughly rinsed with water
  • juice of ½ fresh lemon
  • salt and pepper

Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add anise seed until the aroma fills the room. Add carrots and salt and pepper. Sauté for about two minutes. Add Brussels sprouts and cook until warmed through. Be sure you don’t overcook to the point they are softened. Add black beans, rinse thoroughly so the juice from the can does not color the veggies. Add salt and pepper. When they are warmed through, squeeze fresh lemong juice and cover for 1 minute.

I love the flavor of anise and vegetables. It really does not taste like licorice. It marries vegetables perfectly. The black beans adds a bit of protein to balance the dish and give it the carbs that really make it satisfying.

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Brussels Sprouts & Radish Salad with Candied Almonds

Yesterday volunteers spent a couple hours in the rain to distribute fresh produce to local residents. A project of the Oregon Food Bank, Harvest Share is open to everyone in the area. All they ask is your zip code and how many are in your household and if you have been there before. Food banks are dominated by nonperishable foods, lots of carbs, canned food, and frozen food. There’s very little fresh produce, so Harvest Share which is all about fresh produce is a wonderful option.

However, Harvest Share gives a lot of a few items, like about ten pounds of radishes and 6 pounds of Brussels Sprouts. Hmmm, time to think outside the box. I found a recipe by Jeremy Fox featured by Martha Stewart who has never released a bad recipe, but I didn’t have celery hearts, almond oil, or even an assortment of different radishes. It did sound like a good place to start, though. I like nutmeg with Brussels sprouts and I thought it would work with this recipe with a few alterations. Of course, I cut it in half as well to make it a single salad entree.

Make the garnish first because it must be cooled down first.

Garnish:

  • 2 TBSP sliced almonds
  • 1 TBSP sugar

Toss these in a skillet over medium-high heat and cook, shaking the pan so the sugar gets over all sides of the almond slices and cook until the sugar caramelizes. Removed quickly so it does not burn and let cool on some parchment paper. Break it up on the salad when it is cooled.

Salad:

In a cast iron skillet over medium heat, heat some freshly grated nutmeg until you smell its aroma. Add the butter and let it melt before adding the garlic. Cook about two minutes, softening the garlic.

The Brussels sprouts need to be broken down for salad. Cut off the ends and then cut away quarters from the center, discarding the core. Break it up with your fingers into leaves. Add to the garlic and butter and cook, stirring so all the Brussels sprouts are coated and let cook until warm, but not limp. Squeeze the fresh lemon juice and stir it in and transfer to your salad bowl.

Put the sliced radishes on top and then add the candied almonds.

  • ¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 TBSP butter
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • Salt and pepper
  • 8 oz. Brussels sprouts, broken down into leaves.
  • 4 radishes, cleaned and sliced thin
  • 1/2 fresh lemon, squeezed

The salad is delicious. There is something luscious about mixing savory and sweet, the garlic, the lemon, the candied almonds. It also has a lovely mix of textures, the tender leaves, the crunchy radish, and the crispy almonds. You could use a nut oil or olive oil instead of butter for a vegan option, but it would lose the richness of butter and garlic and lemon coming together in mouth-watering dressing.

Yum!

Ginger Chicken with Turnips and Pears

Ginger Chicken with Turnips & Pears

This is so delicious that I am going to make it again and again, though it would be nice to add some fresh parsley just to get a bit of green. We humans like a bit more color variety in our food, but the flavor is intensely varied. I was at Harvest Share and a woman from Somali who was in line ahead of me asked what she might make with turnips. I mentioned how much I like them in a salad with pineapple and onions, but we also were given a big bag of pears and I said the pears and turnips would go together in a soup or puree. When I got home, I was inspired by our conversation to come up with something tasty with turnips and pears.

I had a chicken breast thawed out for supper, so I decided to try something with chicken. I thought the piquant flavor of the turnip would go well with ginger, so I decided to focus on ginger and garlic for flavor. Wow, it worked out so well.

I heated a cast iron skillet to medium heat with about 1 TBSP of olive oil. I chopped up ¼ yellow onion, 2 garlic cloves, and about ½ inch of ginger root chopped fine and added to the skillet with some salt and pepper. As soon as the onions softened, I added the chicken breast. I might have cooked a whole breast, but I bought this bargain bag of chicken breast pieces, so I cut it up into bite-size pieces.

While the chicken browned, I peeled a turnip and cut into ½ inch size pieces. It was more than I wanted, so reserved half for something tomorrow and added half the turnip pieces to the skillet. I stirred things around and put the cover on for about 8 minutes, to the point where the turnip was close to tender.

Meanwhile, I peeled a mid-size pear and chopped into ½ size pieces. When the turnip was close to done, I added the pears and stirred, sauteeing for about 2 minutes since the pears just need to be warmed. I removed the food to a plate and added about 1 TBSP of water to deglaze the skillet. Stirring the juices in, I added a teaspoon of balsamic vinegar and added the food back, stirring it into the sauce, making sure it is well-coated. I served it on a plate and sprinkled some sliced almonds on top.

This is so delicious, there is this wonderful umami from the chicken and onions, this fresh tartness from the ginger and turnips, and a delicate sweetness from the pears. It comes together in this rich flavor explosion.

I think I might toast the almonds next time. It might be interesting to try with pistachios, too. A sprinkling of fresh parsley would add some color.

 

Oatcakes – Oatmeal Crackers

Smörgåsbord is a way of life for Scandinavians and open-face sandwiches and snack crackers like rye crisp are part of that tradition. These are my aunt’s oatcakes that make a delicious snack cracker sandwich.

Preheat oven to 325° F.

In a bowl, blend together

  • 3 cups oatmeal
  • 1 cup white flour
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder

Add liquid and mix.

  • 1/2 cup melted butter (1 stick)
  • 1 cup hot water

Layer parchment paper on a cookie sheet and spread out the dough, pressing it flat to 1/4 inch. To get even edges, fold up the parchment paper and press until it is evenly flat. It will fill the entire cookie sheet so it’s nice if you use one with edges. I used a pizza cutter to cut into 24 squares before baking because it will crumble if you cut it later. The pizza cutter won’t pull the dough, so it’s easier than a regular knife.

I baked for 40 minutes, until it began to brown and then let it cool. It will crack apart where you cut. The oatcakes are delicious plain, a bit of nutty crispness. However, oatcakes are also a fantastic base for snacks.

Things I have put on oatcakes include:

  • Diced tomatoes and parm
  • Hard-boiled eggs and olives
  • Cucumbers, sour cream, and dill
  • Zucchini, tomatoes, and red chili flakes (Thanks, Eripom!)
  • Pepper jack cheese
  • Cheddar cheese
  • Olive tapenade
  • Lingonberry preserves
  • Banana & Peanut Butter

Peanut Slaw with Dried Dates

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This was a quick and easy slaw using some Spicy Peanut Dressing I made the other day.

Dressing:

  • 2 TBSP peanut butter
  • 2 TSBP seasoned rice vinegar
  • 2 TBSP soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 lg. clove of garlic, crushed and macerated with salt
  • Juice from 1 lime, squeezed.

So I sliced up  a salad bowl full of cabbage, diced up two dried figs. Tossed with the peanut dressing. Delicious.

The mix of spicy heat and sweetness and citrus tang make this a great salad dressing. Cabbage is friendly to just about any dressing and the dried figs add just a perfect contrast.

Chicken Peanut Sauce Burrito

Chicken Peanute Sauce Burrito

I got some peanut butter from Harvest Share last month and discovered that it actually is pretty good on celery. When the jar was close to empty, I thought it might be interesting to toss some rice vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, lime juice, and dried red pepper flakes, shake it up so the peanut butter sticking to the sides of the jar did not go to waste. I tried it on some lettuce and it was delicious. So this is the peanut dressing I made.

  • 2 TBSP peanut butter
  • 2 TSBP seasoned rice vinegar
  • 2 TBSP soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 lg. clove of garlic, crushed and macerated with salt
  • Juice from 1 lime, squeezed.

I thought it might be good with some chicken. So I sauteed a chicken breast with just some salt and pepper in olive oil. While it was cooking, I chopped 2 TBSP of yellow onion,   thawed out 2 TBSP of frozen peas by running them in cold water, toasted 6 pecans in a dry pan and chopped them up.

I removed the chicken breast and let it rest for about 5 minutes. Then I heated up my burner and with the air vent on high, charred two flour tortillas against the coils of the stove. If I had a gas stove, I would grill, but this is my “electric grilling.” Just lay them on the medium-high coil with half hanging off the edge so you can grab them.  Flip with your fingers as soon as it begins to char, I generally “grill” on each side a few times to grill the whole tortilla. You cannot be doing anything else when you do this because you don’t want to start the tortillas on fire.  It adds a really great flavor and makes delicious tortillas.

Chicken Peanute Sauce Burrito

I compiled my dish with a small handful of lettuce, the sliced chicken breast, onions, pecans and thawed peas. I then added the peanut dressing and rolled them up.

This is delicious. Chicken is such a mild ingredient that it embraces nearly anything you do. I liked the peas (And yes, fresh would be better, but needs must,) They added a bit of texture and freshness. It all went together so well. It’s zingy and spicy from the lime and red peppers and then the peanut adds this kind of hearty sweetness.

 

Curried Turnips and Kale

Curried Turnips and Kale

I put a cast iron skillet on the stove at a low medium (4 out of 10) heat and put about 1/4 cup of sauteed celery and onion mix in the pan to thaw. (When I got 10 heads of celery from Harvest Share, I sauteed half of them with onions and made the other half into mirepoix and froze them in freezer bags, so I just pulled out a bag, whacked it against the counter a few times, and dumped 1/2 cup of it in the pan.

While the onions and celery thawed in the pan, I peeled a turnip and cut into chunks a little less than an inch square. I added some salt and pepper and let cook for about 4 minutes. Coming back to stir it a bit, I added 1 TBSP of rice vinegar and 1 tsp of curry powder. I stirred a few minutes longer before adding 1/2 cup of fresh kale. I put the lid on and let it cook for a few more minutes, removing when the turnips were tender.

You don’t really taste the vinegar, but there is a lightness to it that comes from that bit of acid. The curry adds a nice bit of heat and the turnips are such a bright, sharp flavor that balances well with the earthy kale.

Caraway Carrot Sticks

Caraway Carrot Sticks.png

Preheat your oven to 350° F.

In a plastic bag, toss 1 TBSP of corn starch, 1 TBSP of olive oil, and 1 tsp of caraway seeds, a pinch of salt and pepper. Add 1 pound of baby carrots. Shake until they are completely covered. Spread on a baking sheet. Bake 40 minutes.

I served on a bed of baby spinach and spring mix lightly dressed with balsamic vinegar. I liked the way the caraway, the little olive oil, the salt worked with the salad. Makes two large servings.

Wow,  caraway and carrot is delicious. The caraway balances the sometimes overwhelming sweetness of roasted carrot perfectly.

I adapted this recipe from Melts by Fern Green, a cookbook I am currently reading. I used baby carrots and olive oil instead of vegetable oil and served on a salad. Otherwise the recipe is the same. She served it as a side with a sandwich melt…but I am out of bread. Otherwise, sounds like a great idea.

Pomegranate Relish or Dressing

Pomegranate Dressing or Relish

It’s pretty easy to clean a pomegranate, just cut it in half and pull the edges than knock it on the outside with a spoon and the seeds fall out. However, at Harvest Share this week, I got two packages of already cleaned pomegranate seeds. Sadly, however, they were already past their sweet spot and had turned sour and vinegary. I know some people would toss it out, since it was beginning to change, but pomegranate is acidic and just being past its prime does not make it a home for bacteria, just very sour flavor. I knew I could fix it and enjoy this fruit I really love. I just had to figure out how. Since it was already very vinegary, it made sense to use it as a sort of vinegar and make a salad dressing or a relish. But first I had to figure out what could balance the sourness. I pulled out aromatic spices like nutmeg, cardamom, and anise and tried a few grains with one pomegranate seed to see what I liked best. Both the nutmeg and the cardamon tried, but they added heat as well as balance and I wanted to make it more mellow, so I chose anise.

  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • ½ tsp anise seed
  • 2 tsp fresh ginger, minced
  • ½ yellow onion
  • 8 oz pomegranate seeds
  • 4 TBSP rice vinegar

I put 2 tbsp of olive oil in a sauce pan with ½ tsp of anise seed and heated to release the oils and flavor the oil. I then added 2 tsp of minced fresh ginger. I sliced ½ of a yellow onion into slivers and added to the olive oil, cooking until tender. I then added the 8 oz package of pomegranate seeds and cooked just until it started to break down. I added 4 TBSP of  rice vinegar and salt and pepper to taste. This made enough dressing for 4 large salads. It would also work well as a relish on the side where you might use cranberries, with pork, turkey, or sausage.

Here are a few salads made with the dressing. A simple salad with pecans and feta. A dinner salad with chicken sautéed with a bit of Old Bay. A dinner salad with some carne asada marinated in soy sauce and vinegar with some garlic, pears charred on the electric burner, and feta cheese.

 

Breakfast Tostada with Kale, Eggs, and Lemon

This took less than five minutes to make. I heated two pans on the stove, one set at about 4/10 and the other at 6/10 on the heat dial, a low and a high medium. In the low medium, I added no oil at all. I put about 1/4 of a small onion cut in thin slices and about 1 cup of chopped kale, chopped up. I added a bit of salt and pepper and a few red pepper flakes. I squeezed the juice from half a lemon on it and let it cook. I did not want it to get overly cooked, just warmed.

When the kale was about half done, I melted 1/4 tsp of butter in the other pan and cracked an egg in the melted butter. I added salt and pepper, and let it cook for a minute.

I put the tostada on a plate, spooned the kale and onions on the tostada, then I flipped the egg for a few seconds and placed the egg on top of the kale. When eating, I broke the yolk right away so it blended with the kale and onions. The kale alone tastes too strongly of the lemon juice until you mix the egg yolk…and then it’s a perfect lemony sauce .

This is a pleasant mix of textures, soft creamy eggs, crunchy tostada and soft, but still toothsome veggies. The egg yolk and lemon are a light and creamy sauce for the salty tostada and the sharp onions and slightly bitter kale. It’s fast, easy, and delicious.