Sweet Potato Hash

No, no, you’re not caught in a time loop.  You did just see that chicken two days ago.  But this is the only photo that shows the sweet potato and Brussells sprout hash that went with the chicken.  So the photo gets to make an encore appearance.

Hash.  What exactly is it?  According to the all knowing google, it is a dish of cooked meat cut into small pieces and recooked, usually with potatoes.  The only problem is that the amount of meat vs. the amount of vegetables I consume is pretty frightening.  Ideally, the ratio should be reversed which shouldn’t be hard because I actually LIKE vegetables.  I just run out of ideas of how to fix them.  So as a result, they waste away in the fridge, or on the counter, until they are beyond possible consumption.  Yes, I am guilty of wasting food.  There, I’ve said it.

So how does hash address my status as a repeat offender when it comes to wasting food and get me to up my servings of veggies?  Simply by being.  Hash is a godsend when it comes to using up vegetables that have been neglected.  Don’t know what to do with that sad sweet potato that you didn’t use the other week?  Got a carrot or two left in the crisper?  What about an onion?  Did your plan of pan roasted Brussells sprouts not materialize?  You’ve got everything you need for hash.  What other vegetables are hash friendly?

According to Pam Anderson, in her book Meatless Meals, mushrooms, corn (fresh or frozen), eggplant, turnips, and butternut squash are all prime candidates.  She’s the one who introduced me to the concept of meatless hash.  So whether I want a side dish to go with one of my meaty meals, or I want a satisfying meat free option, all I have to do is open the fridge and see what vegetables need some love.

Sweet Potato Hash

Adapted from Pam Anderson’s Meatless Meals

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 to 1 1/2 pound (one medium or large) sweet potato, peeled and diced
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts thinly sliced  (stems trimmed, outer layer of leaves removed)

Heat the vegetable oil in a large frying pan over medium high heat.  Add the sweet potato, onion, and Brussels sprouts and stir to coat with the oil.

Place a lid on the frying pan and reduce the heat to medium.  Cook for approximately 10 to 15 minutes or until the vegetables have softened but your thickest vegetables are still just a bit firm.  Remove the lid, stir the vegetables in the pan, increase the heat back to medium high and cook until the liquid evaporates and the vegetables begin to caramelize.

Once the vegetables have browned on the bottom, stir them gently to try and get the browned sides up.  Continue cooking, without stirring, until the vegetables are as browned as you want them.  Taste for seasoning and add kosher salt and black pepper to taste.

{printable recipe}

Melissa’s Creamy Crock Pot Polenta

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving here in the States.  It’s going to be an especially challenging day for me.  A day that will require me to remember to Be Brave.  But it’s a day that celebrates gratitude.  And despite all of the ups and downs of the year, or maybe because of them, I am acutely aware of the bounty that I have been given.

I hope that your Thanksgiving finds you surrounded by those that matter to you.  Those that are close to your heart.  And that you cook, and share, something that warms you.

Creamy Crock Pot Polenta

Adapted from Melissa d’Arabian

BAH Note: Do yourself a favor and make a double batch of this polenta.  The first time I made it, I only made a single batch.  And as soon as dinner was over and the crock pot was empty I wished I had more.  I brought back a bag of course stone ground white grits from our trip to Georgia thinking I would love substituting them for the cornmeal.  I was wrong.  It took more than 4 hours for those damned grits to cook into a soft pudding and I didn’t like their texture nearly as much as the supermarket cornmeal.

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 1/3 cup half and half
  • 2 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1/3 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan (optional)

Lightly coat the insert of your crock pot with cooking spray, or a thin film of canola oil, and turn your crockpot to high.

Combine the milk, 1 cup half and half, 1 tablespoon butter, cornmeal, and a pinch of kosher salt in a medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring constantly, and boil for 2 – 3 minutes.

Pour the mixture into the crock pot, cover, and cook on high for two hours or until the cornmeal has softened and the mixture has thickened into a soft, loose pudding.  Once or twice per hour, stir the mixture.  Just before serving, whisk in the remaining half and half, butter, and parmesan (if using).  Taste for seasoning and add kosher salt to taste.

{printable recipe}

Flashback Friday – Crush

Flashback Friday

The following originally appeared on 2/11/09 at Exit 51.

Crush

Who was the first person you had a crush on?  It’s ok, I won’t tell anyone.  Me?  My first crush was probably Shawn Cassidy.  Yes, I grew up surrounded by Tiger Beat and Teen Beat magazine hotties.  Oddly enough, I was not allowed to buy those magazines. In hindsight, I think that may have shielded me from some less worthy crushes like Scott Baio, Kirk Cameron, and Duran Duran.

I still get crushes.  But let’s be honest, what are the odds of your crush ever turning into a real relationship?  Unless of course, you happen to be Katie Holmes and your crush is Tom Cruise.

tb10a

I find that more and more, I develop crushes on recipes.  They woo me with their online photos and descriptions until I can think of nothing else.  I am beholden to their charms.  And then, finally, I give them a chance.  Much like the fickle adolescent that I used to be, I tend to get over these crushes pretty quick.   The idea of them is better than the reality of them.  But some do turn into lasting relationships.  They are the TomKat of my cooking world.

Here’s my latest crush.  I can’t decide whether it’s a keeper or not.  I think I need to give it one more chance to win me over.

Crushed Sweet Potatoes with Roasted Garlic and Ginger
The Washington Post, From executive chef Ethan McKee of Rock Creek at Mazza.

The dish can be fully assembled, then cooled, covered and refrigerated up to 2 days in advance. To reheat, cover loosely with aluminum foil and bake in a 350-degree oven for about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  • 4 large (3 pounds) sweet potatoes, scrubbed well, then cut lengthwise into quarters
  • 4 sprigs thyme
  • 4 sprigs rosemary
  • 10 to 12 cloves garlic (from 1 head)
  • 1 cup nonfat vegetable broth
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger root
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar substitute or light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon good-quality olive oil

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Have ready a large, lidded baking dish.

Combine the potatoes, herb sprigs and garlic in the baking dish. Pour the vegetable broth over and season lightly with salt and pepper to taste. Cover (or use aluminum foil, wrapped tightly) and bake for 1 hour or until the potatoes are easily pierced with a fork and the garlic is tender.

Transfer to the stovetop; discard the herb sprigs and use a potato masher to crush the vegetables. Add the grated ginger and the brown sugar substitute or brown sugar, stirring to mix well. Drizzle the oil over the top, mixing just to combine. Taste and adjust the seasonings as needed. Serve warm.

Peppers and Zucchini

This was one of those rare dishes that got a split decision in our house.  The Mistah, he says he is not much for zucchini.  Although he “claims” to like my curried zucchini soup.  And he devoured the zucchini and pepper quesedilla that I made last night.  So I don’t know what to think.

Actually, I know what I think.  I think this makes a lovely, light dish. It’s a refreshing change from the usual suspects that show up on our plates in the role of vegetables. And it’s versatile.  Serve it as a side dish; use it as a condiment to top a burger; transform it into an entree with some couscous or quinoa.

So pay no mind to The Mistah and his zucchini fickleness.  Peppers and zucchini will give you a taste of summer any time of the year.

Peppers and Zucchini

Adapted from Bon Appetit – Fast, Easy, Fresh

BAH Note:  I started out to make a poblano rajas with zucchini.  Bon Appetit – Fast, Easy, Fresh describes rajas as roasted chile strips cooked with onion and spices.  But they wanted me to add a half cup of cream to the vegetables.  And I just couldn’t bring myself to do that.  I also neglected to add any seasoning other than kosher salt.  Maybe when I go to heat up the leftovers, I will add a pinch of ancho chili powder.

While I think this recipe is pretty SB friendly, if I wanted to make it completely South Beachy, I would use olive oil, or a combination of butter and olive oil to sautee the vegetables.

  • 2 poblano chiles
  • 2 red peppers
  • 2 small zucchini, sliced
  • 1/2 cup onions, diced
  • 1 tablespoon butter

Place a rack directly under your broiler and line it with a sheet of foil.  Place the poblano chiles and red peppers on the foil.  Broil until the exterior is completely charred, carefully turning them as needed.  Transfer them to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let sit for 15 to 20 minutes.  Carefully remove the charred skin (and seeds if you like) and roughly chop the peppers.

Heat the butter in a dutch oven over medium heat.  Add the chopped peppers, zucchini, and onions.  Saute until the onions are translucent and the zucchini is tender.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

{printable recipe}

Bittman’s Glazed Carrots

As I type this, which has no connection to when it will flash across the interweb as a published post, I am a few short days away from embarking on a week’s vacation away from computers, blog, interwebs, and tweets.  My brain seems to already be in vacation mode, leaving me searching for something interesting to say about glazed carrots.

Frankly, I’ve got nothing.  Not even a picture to tempt you with their glazed deliciousness. All I can say is that in less time than it will take us to pack up our car for the trip, you can be serving up some glazed carrots.

Now that I think about it, these would make a great side to pack for our road picnic.  Great; now in addition to packing, cleaning the house, and finding a swim suit that I will not be embarrassed to wear in public, I need to make a batch of glazed carrots to save me from the temptation of rest stop french fries.

Why didn’t t anyone ever tell me how much work it is to go on vacation?

Bittman’s Glazed Carrots

Adapted from Mark Bittman

BAH Note:  This recipe is quite versatile and adaptable to whatever flavor combinations you prefer.  Prefer savory over sweet?  Substitute balsamic or soy for the orange juice.  Or get edgy and use ginger beer for a sweet and spiced flavor.  You “could” use whole carrots that you have peeled and cut into rounds or sticks.  I choose to use baby carrots straight from the bag.  Mr. Bittman says to use a saucepan 6 inches or less across.  I used a 2 quart saucepan just fine and suspect that I would have even been ok using my 10 inch frying pan.

  • 1 pound carrots, peeled and cut into rounds or 1 pound baby carrots
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup orange juice

Combine all the ingredients in a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to a simmer.  Cook for 20 minutes, or until carrots are tender.  Remove the lid and cook the remaining liquid down until it is nearly evaporated.  Serve the carrots with a bit of glaze.

{printable recipe}

Easy Brown Rice

Yes, that really is a shot of my pantry.  No, it’s not pretty. What is also not pretty is my reliance on Uncle Ben for quick brown rice.  It’s really quite seductive…a mere 90 seconds from pouch to plate.  But on a per serving basis, I’m getting the short end of the stick.

For what I probably paid for those two pouches of Uncle Ben’s parboiled brown (especially if they weren’t on sale), I could have gotten myself a whole bag of rice.  Maybe even something fancy and exotic like brown basmati.  And instead of only having enough rice for two meals, I could have had enough rice to easily last a month.  Maybe longer.

I’m here today to declare my independence from Uncle Ben and his quick and easy microwave rice.  I won’t resort to fear mongering, smear campaigns, or dirty politics.  I will just say there is another candidate I like better.  One who will not contribute to a deficit in my household disposable income; one who will carry on without carrying on; one for whom a cover up isn’t a career ender, it’s part of the job description.

Easy Brown Rice

Adapted from The Way The Cookie Crumbles

BAH Note: This will make enough rice for you to have leftovers which can easily be microwaved…just like Uncle Ben’s.

  • 8 cups water
  • 1 cup brown basmati rice, rinsed
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt

Bring the salted water to a boil over high heat in a 2.5 quart or larger pot.  Once the water come to a boil, add the rice, reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Drain the rice and return it to the pot.  Cover the pot and let the rice sit for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

{printable recipe}

Molly’s Butter Glazed Radishes

What the heck does a picture of the cherry blossoms have to do with butter glazed radishes?  Your choices are:

  1. a)  Pink
  2. b)  Things that I “discovered” this year
  3. c)  A distraction for not having a picture of butter glazed radishes

Ok, this one is actually a trick question because it’s all of the above.

It’s funny that I just talked about food prejudices and how I have been guilty of letting my dislike of one form of a food keep me from enjoying it in any form.  I must add radishes to that list.

My previous knowledge of radishes was limited to them as hard rounds in my iceberg lettuce salad.  Not even fresh and peppery, they were blah and bland; so I banished them.  I read curiously about radishes and butter, wondering how people could find that enjoyable.  I could not comprehend the attraction to radishes anymore than I could understand why sane, rational people would brave the crowds of tourists to see the cherry blossoms in Washington, DC.

And then I did.

I realized that people come from all over the world to see the cherry blossoms in bloom.  Here I am with them a short metro ride away and I had never been bothered to see them.  I missed the peak blooming period but was still awed by their gentle grandeur.   I don’t think much can rival the beauty of cherry blossoms falling in the breeze like snowflakes.  And since I got there early enough to avoid the crush of tourists, I enjoyed that beauty in quiet solitude.

I think my visit to the cherry blossoms was right around the same time I decided to give butter glazed radishes a try.  Something about the way Molly described them made me curious…”…sweet, almost, and very delicate.  It’s quiet.”  I admit, I had been wrong about the cherry blossoms.  Maybe I was wrong about the radishes too?

Not only did those butter glazed radishes taste absolutely delightful –  tender and delicate, warm and buttery – the cooking transformed them from hard red to a soft, gentle pink.  Clearly I hadn’t given radishes enough credit to be more than just something crunchy in salad.

So on both accounts, I stand corrected.

Molly’s Butter Glazed Radishes

Adapted from Molly Stevens (All About Braising) as seen on Orangette

  • 1 pound radishes
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/8 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

If your radishes are not already trimmed, trim the roots and greens.  Soak the radishes for 10 minutes in a bowl of water to loosen any dirt then drain the water and scrub the radishes.

Place the radishes in a single layer in a 10 inch skillet.  Add the butter, water, salt, and sugar and bring to a simmer.  Cover the skillet and continue to simmer for 20 to 30 minutes or until a paring knife can easily pierce the radishes.

Remove the lid and carefully shake the skillet to roll the radishes all around the sauce.  Continue simmering another 5 to 10 minutes or until the liquid cooks down to a glaze that coats the radishes, increasing the heat if necessary.

{printable recipe}

Butter Roasted Mushrooms

I’m a mushroom lover.  My brother is a mushroom hater.  We didn’t have exposure to mushrooms growing up so I can’t explain why our paths took these different routes.  I love the earthy, meatyness of mushrooms.  He swears that he can tell if something has mushrooms in it even if they are cut up teeny, teeny, tiny.  I have yet to put this “ability” of his to the test but I’m confident that I could slip some mushrooms past him without causing suspicion.

I think it’s the idea of them skeeves my brother out.  To me that’s a sad reason to banish something from your diet without even giving it a try.  Sure, I guess we all have our own food prejudices.  I wouldn’t touch beets because they grossed me out in their pickled form.  But then after I tried them roasted, I couldn’t get enough of them.  My prejudice against pickled beets kept me from enjoying any beets for years.  I only have myself to blame for that loss.

So to my brother, and any other mushroom haters out there, I say give the mushrooms a chance.

Butter Roasted Mushrooms

Adapted from A Thought for Food

BAH Note:  It’s ok if the baking dish you use isn’t quite big enough for all the mushrooms to fit without being crowded.  They will shrink as they cook.

  • 2 pounds whole mushrooms, stems on
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 tablespoon butter
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Heat the oven to 400 degrees.  Combine all ingredients in a shallow baking dish and bake for 30 to 45 minutes or until the mushrooms are beautifully glazed with the sauce and slightly shriveled.

Perfect Roasted Potatoes

I understand that it is August and you are likely in no frame of mind to crank your oven to 425.  I won’t even try and convince you that you should.  What I will do is ask that you please bookmark this page and give it some clever title in your computer so that you will be constantly reminded that once the mercury dips below Hades, you have a date with Perfect Roasted Potatoes.

I recall reading a similar recipe back in my CI days.  I think I may have even pulled the page out and tucked it away into my recipe folders.  And then we had that ugly breakup and throwing away their roasted potato recipe was the culinary equivalent of deleting them from my cell phone or destroying all the mix tapes they made me.  It hurt but it was the right thing to do.

However, The Universe apparently believed that Perfect Roasted Potatoes and I were destined to meet.  Because The Universe guided my browser over to Chocolate and Zucchini where Clotilde effusively described how this recipe transformed her into a perfect potato roaster.  Who am I to scoff at the combined wisdom of The Universe, Clotilde, and Pascale and her mother in law?

So now that you are reading this, you are also presented with this wisdom.  Use it wisely.

Perfect Roasted Potatoes

Adapted from Chocolate and Zucchini

BAH Note:  I may have gotten a little impatient with my potatoes and didn’t let all of them get the lovely golden crust the results from the banged up surface of the parboiled potatoes being roasted.  But believe me, the crust is magical and the potatoes really are perfect.

  • 2 1/2 pounds potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • kosher salt

Heat the oven to 425 degrees and line a sheet pan with aluminum foil.  Fill a pot large enough to  hold all your potatoes with cold water and and set on the stove.

Peel your potatoes, or partially peel if using smooth skinned potatoes, cut them into bite sized chunks, and place them in the pot.  Cover the pot and bring the water to a boil over high heat.  Once boiling, lower the heat to medium and simmer for 5 minutes.

As soon as the water begins to boil, add the vegetable oil to the sheet pan and place it in the oven while the potatoes cook.

After the potatoes have simmered for 5 minutes, drain them and return them to the pot.  Put the lid back on and carefully but firmly shake the potatoes around inside the pot.  You want the surface of the potatoes to get a little banged up so they will form a crust in the oven.

Carefully remove the hot sheet pan from the oven and transfer the potatoes onto it.  Generously sprinkle with kosher salt and use a heat resistant spatula or spoon to make sure the potatoes are well coated with the hot oil.

Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, or until a paring knife meets no resistance when inserted .  The exterior will have a golden crust and the inside will be light and fluffy.  Enjoy these immediately.

{printable recipe}

Flashback Friday – +2

Flashback Friday

The following originally appeared on 10/13/08 at Exit 51.

+2

Despite my recent foray into decluttering my recipe files at home, I can’t help myself when it comes to printing new recipes to try.  Until someone comes up with a rehab program for this affliction, I’m just going to have to do my best to stay on top of it.  This may be easier said than done but I’m going to give it a shot.  And I’m going to start by trying these two new recipes that I stumbled across online.

The first is the infamous No Knead Bread, which Mr. Bittman has recently reworked to take less time and to be whole grain friendly.  Seeing as how I have almost five pounds of whole wheat flour taking up space at home, this is a no brainer addition to my to do list.

The second is a variation on roasted squash from the Washington Post’s Recipe Finder.  Since I don’t want SFC to get bored seeing plain roasted veg on his plate, this looks like a good place to start.

And I’m thinking that these two would go great together with something as simple as some hearty mushroom soup, salad, a quick frittata, roasted chicken, or Mr. Bittman’s Roasted Salmon with Pinot Noir Sauce.  Looks like I’ve got most of the makings of an entire meal right here.

Fast No Knead Whole Wheat Bread

Mark Bittman – New York Times

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup whole rye flour
  • 1/2 cup coarse cornmeal
  • 1 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • Oil as needed.

Combine flours, cornmeal, yeast and salt in a large bowl. Add 1 1/2 cups water and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest about 4 hours at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.

Oil a standard loaf pan (8 or 9 inches by 4 inches; nonstick works well). Lightly oil your hands and shape dough into a rough rectangle. Put it in pan, pressing it out to the edges. Brush top with a little more oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest 1 hour more.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake bread about 45 minutes, or until loaf reaches an internal temperature of 210 degrees. Remove bread from pan and cool on a rack.

Yield: 1 loaf.

Herb Crusted Butternut Squash Wedges

Stephanie Witt Sedgwick – The Washington Post

  • 3 small butternut squash, about 8 ounces each (a total of 1 1/2 pounds)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons herbes de Provence (see headnote)
  • 1/3 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.

Slice off the stem and root ends of each squash. Working with one at a time, stand the squash on its root end. Cut the squash in half vertically from top to bottom, then cut each half into 2 or 3 wedges, discarding the seeds in each wedge. Repeat with the remaining squash. (The squash can be peeled, if desired.)

Place the wedges on the prepared baking sheet and toss with the oil until well coated, then arrange so that the wedges’ points are facing upward. Sprinkle with the herbes de Provence (crushing them between your fingers as you work) and salt, then season with pepper to taste. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and roast for 30 minutes, then carefully remove the foil and let the wedges roast for 20 to 30 minutes (depending on their size), until they are fork-tender and starting to brown. Let sit for 5 minutes on the baking sheet before serving. (As the squash is eaten, it is scraped off its baked skin.)