A Tale Of Two Patty Pans

 

…and a tomato and some garlic.veggies

This is not the first time I have written about Patty Pans and in fact I seem to have a habit of buying them in pairs. I guess 1 just doesn’t seem like enough and more than 2 seems like too many.

Just a simple grill job for these little beauties, along with some fresh onions, kebobs and Feta-tomato rice salad. All they needed was a light marinade of olive oil, vinegar, garlic, salt, pepper and a few chili flakes. Summer simplicity on a plate!

 

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Color Competition

Ever since the purple sweet potatoes showed up things have gotten colorful around the house!

Not only was I intrigued with the colorful sweet potato, but the whole family got into the act. What better time to have a “potato bake-off” then over the holidays, among the many meals shared with loved ones.

Our potato bake-off was all about the sweet varieties – but we did bake some regular old white potatoes too.

2015-12-25 11.34.05

(…and no we did not have like 25 people over for dinner, we mash and freeze the leftovers!)

It was fun to see them all lined up and ready to go into the oven!

Stokes Purple – purple skin and flesh

Garnet- reddish skin and very orange interior

Idaho – we all know this staple of baking white potatoes.

Japanese (Kotobuki) – rosy skin with light yellow inside

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They looked so pretty cut up and on the platter. By cutting them in half everybody got a chance to choose and taste the different varieties. And if you mash some of the varieties together – what a pretty bowl that makes – kinda looked like tie-dyed potatoes!

Everyone had their favorite – I just liked them all!

 

 

“Big Soup”

I bet you have the makings of minestrone soup in your cabinets right now.

I did. So that is what I made recently on a fall evening.

“Big Soup” is a loose Italian translation to describe a soup that has lots of goodies in it like minestrone. The origin of minestrone soup (aka “Big Soup”) comes from Italy and is based on the idea of stretching or using up leftovers.  A dish that is filling and inexpensive. I am sure that even a small survey of Italy would result in no two soups being exactly alike. And so just as in Italy where the soup is composed of lots of things, so was mine.

minestrone

I started with bacon. Added onions and garlic. Diced potatoes, white navy beans and gluten-free pasta to make it hearty.  A flavorful broth of tomatoes and chicken stock with a dash of my secret “flavor weapon” A1 Steak Sauce!

I happen to have some fresh herbs in the house so in went fresh basil and even fresher, some parsley at the end.

The recipe (makes a lot!- like 6-8 hearty servings)

1/2 lb thick cut bacon, cut into small bits

1 1/2 medium white onion diced

2 large cloves of garlic minced

3 small white potatoes diced

1 can ( 15.5 oz) white navy beans or whatever bean you like (rinsed)

1 can ( 14.5 oz) diced tomatoes or chopped or stewed or whatever you have

32 oz box of chicken stock/broth ( low sodium is best)

1/8 cup each chopped fresh basil and parsley

2 tablespoons A1 sauce

1-2 lemon wedges or 1/2 of a small lemon

Elbow noodles cooked to package directions – about a 1/4 cup ( measured dry) per serving

Render the bacon in a large heavy-bottom pot. Until it’s just crisping.  Remove the bacon and set aside. Remove the bacon fat and set aside. Wipe out the tiny bits of bacon still floating around. (they will just burn later) The goal is not to scrub the pot bottom, but to just get the loose stuff floating with the last the fat. Add the onions and a bit of the reserved fat back in and cook for 3-5 mins on med until onions are getting color and softening. Add back in fat as needed to keep things going. Add the potatoes and a pinch each of salt and pepper, cook for another 3-5 mins. Add the minced garlic and cook a couple mins. Now deglaze pan with the tomatoes and stock, add beans and bacon. Turn heat down to low simmer and add the A1 sauce and fresh basil. Stir and cover. Let low simmer for about 30 mins until potatoes just tender. Taste for seasoning and adjust salt and pepper as needed. Add a squeeze of lemon wedge if you have one on hand and along with fresh parsley. The lemon just “perks” things up and the parsley adds a bit of freshness.

Ladle over hot, just boiled elbow noodles and serve.

Production Notes: I like to boil the noodles separate so they don’t over cook  sitting in soup. And since I never really bring the soup to a high enough boil to cook the noodles, it’s just better to cook them on the side. This way you can let the soup stay warm in the pot longer without mushy, swollen pasta.

This could easily be adapted to a slow-cooker recipe.

 

Spring Day 23: (Actual Warm Weather & Quiche)

spring quichePredictions of 60 degrees today in Boston!

Other than snow farms and parking lots, the snow is just about gone. A quick inspection of the yard showed that yes, maybe all the plants survived – although I have my doubts about the Hydrangea. Of course now the spring yard work and clean up must start in earnest and that means busy weekends.

I still think quiche is the best way to use up odds and ends from the fridge and it gives you something that can be available as a snack or meal in between filling the yard waste bags.

This one had asparagus, sweet red bell pepper, spring onions, and  feta cheese of course. A real spring classic. As always I try to use whole milk or better yet “half and half” for a rich, moist quiche. You can see a couple recipes here and here!

Rutabaga or Turnip? You Decide

I thought I knew the difference. I went to the store in search of turnips. I found them and thought “this might be big for a turnip”  but the store sign in the produce section said “turnips.”  I did think turnips were smaller and whiter and had purple tops. But then again this looked a lot like that too – just bigger.

But the scanner at checkout called it Rutabaga. Even the professionals don’t know!

Oh well… both are delicious.

But for the record, and after doing a little research, I now know I purchased a Rutabaga.

See “Exhibit A” below – unpeeled and peeled

turnip or rutabaga peeled

A Short History

Turnips are smaller, white and have purple tops and have been around “cultivar-ly” speaking for much longer. As in… the Romans were eating it.

Rutabagas are apparently a cross between cabbage and turnip and were really discovered in the early 1600’s. They are also much larger and have a yellow flesh which turns a full shade of orange with cooking.

Generally you would prepare them about the same. Peel them and steam or roast. Salt and pepper to taste with a little butter is really all you need. Since mine was huge and I wanted to cook it with ease. I peeled and cubed mine into large chunks, which I tossed with salt and pepper and a couple of tablespoons of butter and maybe a 1/4 cup of water and put in a covered dish to ‘bake-steam’ in the oven alongside my main event.

See “Exhibit B” below – uncooked and cooked

cubed and ready tocookcooked

To Mash or Not To Mash?

Now I thought they were delicious as is, but my traditional Irish-American husband who was reliving the turnips of his youth needed them mashed. Also very good. And if you bought a huge one like I did, you can freeze the extra cooked amount and heat up another time or use it for an interesting alternative to the mashed potato topping on Cottage or Shepard’s Pie!

mashed

Scrambled “Stew”

Eggs are a lovely vehicle for just about anything.

I stop at almost nothing when it comes to combining eggs and other foods.

Whether it be Quiche or scrambled or even fried eggs.

Last weekend I was poking around my mother’s refrigerator for some breakfast and was inspired by some fresh asparagus in there. I immediately visualized sautéed asparagus, garlic and tomato with scrambled eggs. I decided to add a diced potato instead of the tomatoes to the eggs. That way the tomatoes wouldn’t become sauce; I wanted to have a “whole tomato” experience instead of a “saucy” one!  (Although that can be delicious as in my “Breakfast Bruchetta” )

I decided to cut the tomato in wedges and just warm them in the same pan I cooked the eggs in with a pat of butter and a shake of dried basil. Like a warm tomato jam.

Now, I am not the first to invent the “veggie scramble.”  Certainly you can get scrambled eggs on every level – at the local diner with bacon, cheese etc or in a high-end restaurant brunch with salmon. But I am reminding you… that anything in your “cabinet” (or fridge) can and should be considered!

“Parsley-ed”

I bought one of those fresh bunches at the store last week for a recipe that calls for fresh chopped parsley. But I never use it all up with this particular recipe; so there it was in my fridge door… begging to be used.

So that got me thinking about the “parsley-ed ” mashed potatoes that I sometimes make. Delicious rich mashed potatoes made with sour cream, butter and milk to thin to the correct consistency. Tons of chopped fresh parsley, chives and plenty of salt and pepper! Try it sometime! (Use the no-fat Greek yogurt instead of sour cream!)

But I wanted to lighten up and started thinking about buttered, parsley-ed noodles instead.  Think “spaetzle.”  I had a spaghetti squash just begging to be used up to. Why not have buttered, parsley-ed “squash” noodles?

Suddenly the whole train of thought started heading to Germantown. Why? Who knows.

All I know is I somehow started associating the thought of buttered, parsley-ed noodles (squash or otherwise) with sausage, apples and onions.

That led me to visit Karl’s Sausage Kitchen.

Iconic Route 1 Sign

Four Bauernwurst later, some peeled apples and shallots – I was ready to saute up a German inspired feast!

I caramelized the apple and shallots almost to a sauce with salt, pepper and some dry rubbed sage. I browned the sausage in the same pan along with them. (They were fully cooked/smoked already) I de-glazed the pan with a small amount of apple cider! Meanwhile I had cut, gutted and roasted the spaghetti squash the night before – I added lots of butter, parsley, chives and salt/pepper -and reheated in a buttered casserole till toasty warm.

And when I was done……. Welcome to Germantown!