Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Cooking With Mollie #9: Crispy Sage Leaves


Today's recipe from Mollie Katzen's "The Vegetable Dishes I Can't Live Without" is technically for a garnish, but you could also use these as a little snack. I know I did!

They are just what they sound like. Fresh leaves of sage, washed, dried, and fried quickly in a little olive oil.


I think I used more oil than Mollie suggested - I didn't measure - so my leaves basically deep-fried in a very shallow way in a frying pan. I'm not very coordinated, so I just did a couple at a time, because they fry VERRRRY quickly - within just 5-10 seconds per side.

The only tricky part is adjusting the heat so the oil isn't too cold (greasy results) or too hot (burned leaves). Once you get it right in the middle, all you do is pop the leaves in on one side (start with the light-colored side up) for a few seconds, then flip over to finish (they're done when they're a nice bright green).

Once you remove them from the oil, they drain on paper towels, and then you have crispy, sagey things to pop in your mouth and enjoy. You could also use them as a garnish, if you can wait that long.


Monday, February 25, 2013

Cooking With Mollie #8: Beets with Tart Pink Grapefruit Glaze


I have to admit when I saw Mollie Katzen's recipe for Beets with a Tart Pink Grapefruit Glaze, my heart sank a bit. (The recipe in "The Vegetable Dishes I Can't Live Without" is just for beets - the one online is for beets and carrots.)


When I was a kid, my mom made a monstrosity called "Harvard Beets." Hot beets coated in a thick, sweet, orange goo, and this sounded all too similar.

I think she either liked it because my mom has the culinary equivalent of a tin ear, or because she thought she was classing up the joint by serving us something from Harvard. Maybe both.

Mollie's is a better version, though. The Pink Grapefruit gives it a nice zinginess and the small amount of maple syrup leaves it far less sweet than our 1960s Americana version.


You can consult Mollie's recipe online, but here are my notes:

  • One large grapefruit yielded exactly one cup of juice
  • You don't have to roast the beets - I steamed mine and they were fine, though roasted beets are terribly good
  • This is pretty good. A nice zippy flavor. I still like plain beets better, but I'm a beet lover from way back. This recipe may appeal to some people who want to mask the flavor of beets somewhat
  • I'll bet this would be gorgeous with Chiogga beets, the ones that are pink and white striped.

    Sunday, February 24, 2013

    Cooking with Mollie #7 - Crispy-Edged Brussels Sprouts


    This is more of a vindication than an exploration. I checked Mollie Katzen's roasted brussels sprouts recipe in her fabulous "The Vegetable Dishes I Can't Live Without" cookbook and guess what? Her recipe is exactly the same as the recipe I discovered by trial and error! I am so proud of myself.

    You'd think everyone would know how to make roasted brussels sprouts by now, but apparently it is still an unknown for some. Easy peasy.

    Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Peel off the ugly outside leaves of the brussels sprouts, and if they are bigger than 3/4 inch, cut them in half. Roll them around in a little olive oil on a baking sheet, then, if they are cut, put them face down.

    Bake for about 10 minutes, then flip them over or roll them around. Bake until they are a little browned and crispy, another 5-20 minutes depending on how brown and crispy you like them. I have forgotten and practically incinerated them, and I still loved the flavor, maybe even more. Mine are pretty dark here:


    Now here's the fun part, for me. Of course you should sprinkle them with some grey French sea salt, the kind that sticks together in tiny flaky clumps. And maybe some fresh-ground black pepper.

    But what else can you do to make them special?
    • A sprinkle of rich balsamic vinegar is great, even fig-flavored Vincotto balsamic.
    • A teaspoon or two of briny capers can add a nice salty punch. Paired with a splash of sherry vinegar - oh my yum.
    • A blob of goat cheese to melt and mix in right after they come out of the oven. I use jalapeno goat cheese
    • A sprinkle of shaved parmesan, the big flaky kind, not the grated kind
      Go wild. They're YOUR sprouts, after all. Enjoy.

      Saturday, February 23, 2013

      Cooking With Mollie #6: Coated Carrots Afrique du Nord

      I had to step out of the cruciferous vegetables family briefly to deal with carrots. I had a lot of carrots in the fridge, so I decided to make this recipe from Mollie Katzen's "The Vegetable Dishes I Can't Live Without."

      Coated Carrots Afrique du Nord (recipe online at Leite's Culinaria) Untitled

      It involves several techniques: first, you toast cumin seeds in a frying pan, then add ground cumin and cinnamon and toast them too. A blob of butter goes in, then garlic, then carrots cut diagonally into 1/4 slices.

      You add some orange juice and salt and saute for a bit. This, to me, gave the carrots an unnervingly nasty scent. Don't worry - they don't taste like this smells.

      The carrots get spread on a baking tray in a single layer. Untitled Sorry, bad iphone photos.

      Bake at 400 for 15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so. Take them out and let them cool for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with lemon juice and your choice of garnishes - a bit of honey, finely chopped fresh mint, or red pepper flakes.

      Since it is the middle of winter and my mint plants are dead, I chose the rich, warm Aleppo Pepper flakes from my favorite place, Penzey's Spcies.

      Untitled The verdict? I have to try this recipe again. The carrots tasted lovely, as you might expect. Cumin, cinnamon, peppers - how can you go wrong? Well, the wrong part, to me, was the texture. They were chewy. I mean, pretty darn chewy. "It's not the taste, it's the texture" levels of chewy.

      Perhaps my oven wasn't hot enough. Maybe I didn't leave them in long enough. Or it could be that I made a mistake in using those little peeled supermarket bagged "baby carrots" that aren't really baby carrots at all.

      I'll set this one aside for another day, because I think if I get it right, it will be fabulous.

      Friday, February 22, 2013

      Cooking With Mollie #5: Roasted Red Peppers with Garlic and Lime

      I had this recipe done a couple of days ago and I had to keep holding myself back from posting it. It is so good I wanted to share it immediately. If I had your phone numbers, I would have called you all and told you about it.

      I present, from Mollie Katzen's genius cookbook "The Vegetable Dishes I Can't Live Without" (yes, I'm going to keep linking it up every day. It's genius, and don't you think I owe her at least that for the joy she gives me?)

      Roasted Red Peppers Marinated With Garlic And Lime (yay, Mollie has the actual recipe online).

      Could not be simpler. Mollie calls for four red peppers. I had a yellow and a red, so I forged ahead and made adjustments, as we do.

      You roast them in a 400 degree oven on a lightly oiled baking sheet, flipping them every 8 minutes or so, until they look like this, maybe 20-30 minutes: Untitled You put them in the bowl, put a plate on as a lid, a technique I thought I had invented, but Mollie knew it too. A lot of skinning peppers techniques say to put them in a plastic or paper bag, but hello! 1) Weird hot plastic chemicals and 2) these things leak liquid, so ooh, gross. Bowl. Plate. Trust me and Mollie on this one.

      You let them steam in the bowl while you do something else. Then you come back and peel and scrape the skins off with a sharp knife and messily deseed and de-stem them. Chop or slice into rajas (hey, Spanish! But they have a word for "strips of peppers" and we don't. So "rajas") as you wish.

      Untitled Chop. Drizzle with olive oil, a little chopped garlic, salt and pepper. This is where I would normally stop. But NOW the magic Mollie moment: LIME JUICE.

      Lime juice. I would have never thought of that in a million years and yet once you do it, it seems so obvious. The acid perks up the flavor and adds a happy little note of brightness.

      I have a secret for you: you could do this with rinsed roasted peppers from a jar. Don't tell your guests.

      I ate mine on sprouted wheat toast with jalapeno goat cheese. Pretty dang good. Make this. Eat it. Enjoy.

      Thursday, February 21, 2013

      Cooking with Mollie #4: Sesame Leeks and Cabbage

      Do not turn away. I know it's cabbage, but man, this dish is good. It's one of those simple things that will leave you wondering "Why didn't I think of that?"

      How simple is it? You don't even need a recipe, really, though you definitely should buy Mollie Katzen's book, "The Vegetable Dishes I Can't Live Without."

      No, she isn't paying me to say that. I'm just hoping for a dinner invite when I get done with this. Yeah. We saw how well that worked out for Julie in the Julie Julia movie. (If you didn't see the movie, there is some indication that Mrs. Child was NOT pleased at Julie's blogging efforts about Mastering the Art of French Cooking.)

      Back to how simple the recipe is: You slice some leeks and wash them. Coupla leeks if you can get the big fat ones like I get from the organic farm, probably 4 or 5 if you can only find small ones. You chop some cabbage, 4 cups more or less.

      Saute the leeks with some oil in a deep pan for about 10 minutes, then throw the cabbage in, cover, voila.

      Untitled Saute, stirring occasionally, until everything begins to stick to the bottom of the pan, so you'll have some lovely browned bits mixed in.

      Salt. Pepper. A drizzle of dark sesame oil. A sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds. You're done!

      Untitled Except I wasn't done. I cooked up some noodles from a yaki soba package (throw the nasty seasoning away) and sauteed tofu chunks to mix with the cabbage for a nice hot lunch.

      I thought of a great alternative to this recipe, too - instead of a drizzle of sesame oil, use roasted walnut oil and chopped walnuts. This would be especially good if you could swap out the cabbage for the delicate crinkly Savoy cabbage. Savoy cabbage season lasts about 3 weeks around here, so I'll have to try that next year. I can't wait.

      Bon appetit.

      Wednesday, February 20, 2013

      Cooking with Mollie #3: Spicy Brussels Sprouts Pickles

      You either love Brussels Sprouts or hate them. If you're in the second category, it is my life mission to convert you to the Cult of the Sprout. I love them. I love them steamed, boiled, roasted, shredded into confetti and sauteed...but until this week, I had never loved them pickled. It's simple. You start with about half a pound of fresh sprouts. Peel off the ugly outside leaves. I always peel the outside leaves even if they aren't ugly, because that's where dirt and aphids hide. Cut them in half if they are large (and most sprouts that I can find lately are large). Untitled Then you cook them for just a couple minutes in a large pot of boiling, salted water. I always cook vegetables in heavily salted water because Thomas Keller does, and well, THOMAS KELLER. Drain and rinse them in cold water: Untitled They will be a beautiful bright green. Enjoy that color now, because it's about to change. Ah well, c'est la vie. Then you submerge them in a pickling liquid that is made of 2/3 of a cup of hot water with 1 tbsp of honey mixed in (you could use sugar, too) and 1 tsp of salt. Mollie says to use seasoned rice vinegar, but I had a better idea! I used my spicy peppered vinegar from the Asian market. I went crazy buying vinegar...it's an addiction The spicy vinegar (the one on the left) was perfect. It added a nice zippiness. Someone suggested you could include these sprouts in a Bloody Mary and to that I say yay, yes you could. If you can't find spicy vinegar, you could probably just toss in a teaspoon or two of red pepper flakes, depending on how spicy you wanted them. I put a plate on top of the sprouts to ensure they stayed submerged in the pickling liquid. A few hours later, they looked like this: Untitled They are a great little snack. You don't want to eat too many at once, just one or two with a sandwich or cheese plate. Store them in their liquid in the fridge in a glass or ceramic container. Recipe adapted from Mollie Katzen's "Vegetable Dishes I Can't Live Without."

      Tuesday, February 19, 2013

      Cooking with Mollie: Green Beans Almandine

      Recipe Two from Mollie Katzen's "Vegetable Dishes I Can't Live Without," Green Beans Almandine. I don't like this recipe. There's nothing wrong with it - the flavors are fine, and it is a classic. Green beans. Almonds, butter, olive oil, garlic. What's to hate? It's the interface. Green beans and almonds are the wrong shape to stick together. So you end up eating green beans with a few shreds of almonds stuck to them, and have a pile of almonds left at the end. What do you do with them? Scoop them up off the plate in the kitchen with your fingers like a savage? Well, yeah, of course. Here's how it looks - pretty! Green beans amandine Recipe is online here.

      Monday, February 18, 2013

      A New Project: Cooking with Mollie Katzen - Leek Chips

      As a food blogger (even a VERY occasional one), you have to love the Julie Julia movie and consider what it would take to cook your way through Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

      For me, it was a no-brainer - as a vegetarian, I'm not willing to dive into calf liver and poached fish, no matter how much it would improve my cooking technique. Still, the idea simmered in the back of my brain...cooking my way throught a whole cookbook...but what book?

      Recently my friend Brenda gave me The Book. I let it sit on the shelf for a while, not realizing it was The Book, but then I started flipping through it and realizing I wanted to make Every Single Recipe.

      Here it is: Mollie Katzen's "The Vegetable Dishes I Can't Live Without."


      It is just about 100 recipes, all vegetarian, mostly vegan. I have tried four so far, and they have all been excellent. I'm inspired again, which is a welcome change from the rut I have been in for so long.

      My favorite of the bunch is Leek Chips, which are just leeks cut into rounds, washed well (pesky sand is a particular problem with leeks), tossed with olive oil and baked in a slow oven.
      The recipe is online here.
      They go from this:

      to this:
      Leek Chips

      I think may have overcooked them slightly, but they were still good. I ate them ALL. They're a great substitute to calm my craving for onion rings or canned French Fried Onions, both of which are calorie bombs.

      They do have some...digestive effects, so Beano is a must here. My mouth tasted like onions all day, but it was so worth it. Thanks, Mollie.