Ginger Rice

ginger-rice-1

We’ve all had those moments when you look in the refrigerator and say, “how did I end up with so much ______?” With me it was ginger. I had what seemed like tons of the stuff. So what to do with it? I decided to prepare a ginger-flavored rice to go with a few of the Asian dishes I had planned for the week. We eat a lot of Asian food, probably because it can be prepared relatively quickly, aside from what my husband refers to as “choppy choppy.” Translated that means chopping vegetables and other ingredients for a recipe. The rice turned out great and really complemented the stir fry and the curry I prepared later.

ginger-2

For such a gnarly and, dare I say ugly, tuber, ginger packs a huge wallop of flavor. I fell in love with ginger in Santa Fe, New Mexico, of all places. I went to Café Pasqual’s for breakfast and had a glass for fresh pineapple juice flavored with ginger, and I’ve never forgotten it. Yes, I’m one of those people that remember aspects of a certain meal decades later. Hmmm.

ginger-rice-4

 

Plain white rice certainly has its place in the food world. Many cultures have been eating it for centuries. However, when it starts to seem a little ho-hum, try flavoring it with some ginger to wake up those taste buds.

 

ginger-rice-3

Ginger Rice

6 Servings

I recommend you grate the ginger with a Microplane-type grater. If you don’t have one, you might want to consider getting one – it’s one of the most useful kitchen tools there is. However, you can also chop the ginger very finely with a knife. Feel free to cook this with stock or even coconut milk instead of water for extra flavor. You could also use brown rice, but you will need to increase the water to 2 1/2 cups and the cooking time to 45 minutes.  Some finely sliced scallions or some toasted sesame seeds (or both) would be a nice garnish.

2-inch piece fresh ginger

2 tablespoons butter

1 cup white rice

2 cups water

1/2 teaspoon salt

Peel and grate the ginger. Melt the butter in a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Add the ginger and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Add the rice to the pan and stir to coat the grains with butter and ginger bits. Quickly add the water to avoid burning the ginger; then add the salt. Stir to blend.

Raise the heat to high and bring the rice mixture to a boil. Then lower so that the rice is barely simmering, cover and cook until rice is done, about 20 minutes.

 

 

Summer’s Final Days – Caponata

Caponata Bowl 1

I hope everyone has enjoyed this summer. We have been particularly busy this year but have still had time to enjoy all the wonderful produce that is at the markets this time of year. It will be gone before we know it.

Caponata Veg 1

We’ve been doing quite a bit of traveling, culminating in a 2-week trip to Washington and Montana. This is the one time of the year that I put work and the frantic pace of daily life in Virginia behind me. NO TRAFFIC – Ahhh! There is a reason they call Montana “Big Sky.”

Montana

My first experience with caponata was years ago, when a colleague who was living in Rome at the time asked if I would send some coffee to him from Bogota, Colombia, where I was living. I agreed if he would send me a box of Italian pantry items in return. He did not disappoint; what a haul! Years later, I’ve never forgotten it. One of the items in the box was a can of caponata. Even the Italian canned version was delicious and I resolved to make a fresh version at home.

Caponata toast 1

I’ve tried many versions of caponata over the years, but this one surpassed all the others. Maybe it’s the capers. My husband is always giving me a hard time about my extreme love of capers. Honestly, I could eat them on almost anything – well, maybe not ice cream…hmmm.

Caponata Bowl 2

Caponata is a sweet and sour cooked vegetable dish that originated in Sicily as a side for fish dishes. It was originally made with eggplant and celery, but today there are numerous versions that can contain everything from pine nuts to octopus.

Caponata Veg 2

Caponata is a wonderful way to use up some of that extra summer produce from the garden or the farmers market. It can be used in a variety of ways – as a side with virtually any meat, or as part of an antipasto platter. I’ve even seen it whirred in a blender with olive oil and vinegar and made into salad dressing. However, my favorite way to enjoy it is for lunch as a topping on crusty bread with a nice schmear of fresh ricotta or goat cheese.

Caponata toast 2

Eggplant Caponata

6 Cups

Caponata can be prepared up to 3 days in advance. Serve warm or at room temperature. Feel free to substitute zucchini for the summer squash or even use one of each. Serve as a side dish, as a dip for pita crisps or crackers or on bread with ricotta or goat cheese.

1 eggplant, about 14 ounces, trimmed and sliced crosswise, 1/2 inch thick

4 tablespoons olive oil, divided

2 teaspoons salt, divided

2 yellow summer squash

5 white mushrooms, chopped

1/2 red onion, chopped

1 tablespoon minced garlic

2 tablespoons red wine

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 large tomato, cut into 1/4-inch dice

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

3 ounces tomato sauce

1 roasted red pepper, chopped, or 1 4-ounce can chopped pimento

1 tablespoon drained capers

6 pitted Kalamata olives, chopped

2 tablespoons minced fresh basil

1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Place the eggplant slices on an oiled sheet pan and brush with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Season with 1 teaspoon of the salt. Bake until tender, about 25 minutes. Cool slightly then chop and set aside.

Slice the summer squash lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Chop into 1/2-inch dice and set aside.

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large wide saucepan or dutch oven over medium high heat until the surface is shimmering and you can smell the oil, 1-2 minutes. Add the mushrooms, onions and chopped squash to the pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to brown, 4-5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook 1 minute.

Stir in the red wine and vinegar. Add the tomato, red pepper flakes, black pepper, and remaining 1 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring, until the tomato softens, 3-4 minutes.

Stir in the tomato sauce, roasted red pepper, capers, olives, basil, parsley, and the chopped eggplant. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until thickened, about 3 minutes.

Adapted from Pacific Northwest the Beautiful by Kathy Casey

Roasted “Bunny” Carrots with Honeyed Mustard

Carrots header

I hope everyone is enjoying a beautiful Spring day with friends and family. When I wrote this the sky was blue, the sun was shining, and the birds were chirping as I sat next to an open window taking it all in. I was smiling indeed.

Carrots 1

I’ve wanted to do a roasted vegetable recipe on the blog for some time. It is actually my absolute favorite way to cook and eat vegetables – drizzle with olive oil, roast at 400 until fork tender, sprinkle with sea salt, and eat. Then while the husband is out walking the dog, sneak a few more pieces of the leftovers, mmm. Food eaten on the sly just tastes better, don’t you think?

My husband probably would not mind me eating these leftovers in their entirety. His dislike of cooked carrots is notorious. His mother used to say that carrots were only good for horses, and I believe it rubbed off on him. But, these carrots are so good, I think he’ll even eat them.

Carrots are part of the “umbrella” family of vegetables and are related to parsnips, fennel, parsley, anise, caraway, cumin, and dill. They are said to lower chances of cardiovascular disease, probably because of the gajillion vitamins and antioxidants they contain.

Carrots 2

These beauties would probably be even nicer if you used the multi-colored bunches of carrots that are turning up in the stores these days. They make a nice side for an Easter meal, or any other time of the year for that matter.

Carrots Recipe Header Roasted Carrots with Honeyed Mustard

6 Servings

When I roast vegetables I usually just put them in the bare pan and let the olive oil keep them from sticking. Because of the honey in this recipe be sure to use foil in the pan, and spray it well.

2 pounds “bunny carrots” with green tops, tops trimmed and cut in half lengthwise

3 tablespoons whole grain mustard

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon honey

salt and pepper

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Preheat the oven to 400. Cover a baking sheet with foil and spray well with cooking spray or oil.

Stir the mustard, olive oil, and honey together in a large bowl. Toss in the carrots and mix well (hands really work best for this) until thoroughly coated. Place in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper.

Roast the carrots in the oven until they are fork tender, approximately 25 minutes.

Sprinkle the carrots with the parsley and serve.

Adapted from Cuisine at Home magazine

Roasted Cauliflower with Lemon and Walnuts

Cauli 1

Cauliflower the week before Thanksgiving? Really, Jeannine?

I had a great time on Feedly with my morning coffee today, catching up on my blog reading, checking out all the wonderful Thanksgiving recipes on the internet…the turkeys, the stuffing, the potato recipes, the pies. I absolutely love Thanksgiving and this year is no different. But thinking ahead, I still have to get dinner on the table, and in light of the huge cooking and eating event on the calendar, I’d like those dinners before and after to be relatively healthy, oh…and really easy to prepare.

Cauli 2

Today’s recipe goes with anything; fish, chicken, you name it. It’s super easy, requires only a few ingredients, and it’s delicious.

Cauli 4

Roasted Cauliflower with Lemon and Walnuts

4 Servings

You can replace the walnut pieces with pecans, hazelnuts, or even pistachios.

1/3 cup coarsely chopped walnut pieces

1 head cauliflower, cut into florets

3 tablespoons walnut oil or olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

juice of 1 lemon (approximately 1 tablespoon)

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1/3 cup heavy cream or half and half

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Toast the walnut pieces by placing them in a small frying pan over medium heat until you begin to smell them and they start turning brown. Remove the walnuts from the hot pan to a clean plate and set aside.

Place the cauliflower in a clean sheet pan, toss with 2 tablespoons of the oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Roast the cauliflower for 15-20 minutes, stirring once or twice, until it begins to char in places.

Cauli 3

Whisk the remaining oil with the lemon juice, mustard, and half and half in a large bowl. Add the cauliflower to the boil, scraping any brown bits and remaining oil from the sheet pan into the bowl as well. Toss the cauliflower with the dressing, add the walnuts and toss again. Check the seasoning and serve warm.

Adapted from Lose Weight the Smart Low Carb Way by David Joachim and Bettina Newman

 

Sautéed Cabbage with Bacon

Cabbage 1

Today’s recipe is from a guest cook, my husband Scott. I wanted to get it posted as soon as possible because I consider it to be more of a chilly weather recipe than something that represents Spring, which, knock on wood, finally might be here to stay for awhile. This time last week I was sitting right here at my computer and looked outside and saw – snow. I couldn’t believe my eyes. But it was short lived. Now, the daffodils are up and trees are budding, and I’m sitting in front of an open window.

Cabbage 2

Although this cabbage is a recipe that we normally have for Saint Patrick’s Day, it is really versatile and will go with almost anything. I especially can see it alongside pork chops or chicken. The bacon is what makes this recipe special, so I don’t recommend leaving it out.

Cabbage 3

Sautéed Cabbage with Bacon

6 Servings

1/2 pound bacon, diced

4 tablespoons butter

1 large sweet onion, about 14 ounces, diced

1 head cabbage, thinly sliced

In a large sauté pan, cook the bacon over low heat to render as much fat as possible before the bacon browns, approximately 10 minutes. Add butter, and when it melts, add the onion. Increase the heat to medium and sauté until the onion softens, approximately 7 minutes. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper.

Increase the heat to medium-high and start adding cabbage by the handful, cooking it down until you are able to add all of it to the pan, approximately 10 minutes. Add more salt and pepper to tasted. Continue cooking cabbage, stirring frequently, until done, approximately 10 minutes.

 

Potato Gratin Inspired by L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon

L'Atelier Potato Gratin

About a year ago I was fortunate enough to meet my husband in Rabat, Morocco, where he was traveling on business.  Unfortunately I did not take into account that the trip was during Ramadan. There was a haunting beauty about the place, and I would love to return someday; however, it was blazing hot, nothing was open until after sundown, and I had a plane ticket to Paris in my pocket.  I bid my husband adieu and fled.

Rabat Wall

During my short stay in Paris I had the opportunity to eat at L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon.

L'Atelier

There I had one of what I refer to as my “culinary experiences” – meals or things I’ve done that have a lasting impression on the way I cook (and eat).  Talk about gob-smacked!  Every single ingredient sang and added something unique to each dish.  So, after the trip, the first thing I did was order a cookbook to remind me of my experience.

A few nights ago I was looking for inspiration for a potato dish for dinner and started leafing through the recipes in this book.  I wasn’t in the mood for scraping mashed potatoes through a strainer, but a potato gratin sounded good.  This one uses broth and cheese and sounded really good, and wow, was it ever.  I hope you think the same thing.  A word of warning: this dish was quite a bit of work.  It’s probably not something to start preparing on a Friday evening after a long workweek, as I did.

Potato Gratin

6 Servings

You can adapt this recipe in many different ways.  I used a colorful mix of small potatoes, but Yukon gold or red potatoes would work just as well.  If you use larger potatoes cut them into chunks before cooking them.  I used a combination of beef and chicken broth, but again, all beef, all chicken or even vegetable broth would work just as well.  The same goes for the cheese.  I recommend gruyere because it melts nicely, but any type will do. I try to stay away from buying more kitchen equipment than I can use on a regular basis, so I didn’t run out and buy individual round gratin dishes as the original recipe called for, but if you have them, go for it! 

  • 1.5 pounds potatoes, peeled
  • 1 quart broth (beef, chicken, vegetable or a combination)
  • 3 cloves garlic, unpeeled
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme, plus more for garnish
  • 3 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 2 leeks, cleaned and chopped
  • 2 scallions, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons of mild oil or bacon grease
  • 4 ounces bacon, about 6 slices
  • 3 tablespoons white wine
  • 6 ounces gruyere or other cheese, thinly sliced or grated
  • white pepper

1. Combine the potatoes, broth, unpeeled garlic and thyme sprigs in a large pot, and cook potatoes until they are done, but still firm, 15-20 minutes.  Set aside half a cup of the cooking liquid, drain the potatoes, and slice them into 1/4-inch slices.

2. Meanwhile, melt 1 tablespoon butter in a small saucepan, add the leeks and the scallions, cover and sweat on medium low heat until soft, about 15 minutes.

3. Set aside the leek mixture and add the oil and the bacon to the same pan.  Cook the bacon then add the white wine and the leek mixture to the pan.  Cook 2 minutes to blend flavors than add the reserved potato cooking liquid.  Cook over low heat until all liquid has been absorbed, about 15 minutes.

4. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Spread bacon mixture in the bottom of a large gratin dish or 4 small round ones. Arrange a layer of potato slices over the bacon then a layer of cheese, repeat with another layer of potatoes and  cheese.  Dot with remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and garnish with thyme leaves and white pepper.

5.  Place dish in the center of the oven and bake until bubbling and golden brown, 15-20 minutes.

Adapted from L’Atelier of Joël Robuchon – the Artistry of a Master Chef and his Protégés by Patricia Wells