Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Roasted Vegetables

Every year summer comes and I have all these grand plans to make food with fruit and veggies at the height of the season, and it never seems to come to fruition. One, I don't like turning on an oven and two, when everything is good as is why would you hide or mask the true flavors of nature's splendor? So I try to keep it simple, enhancing everything with a little salt and pepper.

Roasted veggies are no exception so easy and simple.

40 minutes in the oven at 425 degrees

-Your favorite summer vegetables, mine include green cauliflower, parsnips, carrots and onions
-olive oil to cover your veggies

Place in preheated oven for 30-40 minutes.

Friday, June 25, 2010


Ok, so not everything is doing poorly in my garden. I planted radishes from seed, and in 20 days, yes, I had a whole crop of radishes ready to go. They are quick, easy, and low maintenance. And they taste so much better than what you get at the store, spicy and juicy. As I mentioned previously, I had a successful winter harvest of beets (not so successful with my second crop). Now I have radishes, scallions and snap peas. The cooler weather helps these guys along.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Mango Banana Smoothie

This is my go to snack to hold me over before I have a meal. It's not calorie dense enough to be be a meal alone, like breakfast but it's good when I come home hungry from work.

Prep Time: 5 minutes


1 banana
Plain whole fat yogurt (as much or as little as you like)
2 autulfo (manila) mangoes

Peel and slice mangos, slice bananas and throw into a blender with yogurt. Blend until smooth. Drink and enjoy!

I made this with one mango and the taste was mild. I could taste more banana than mango. So double the amount of mango or half the amount of banana to get your desired flavor.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Poached Shrimp Salad

I was reading Light and Healthy 2010, again. I do actually use and read other cookbooks and magazines but lately have been absorbed into this magazine because I spent $8 for it! I know, $8. I never spend $8 for a magazine so I figure I have to make a number of the recipes.

I really wanted to make this to try out the poaching technique. I've never poached fish or shrimp, and this seemed so quick that I decided to give it ago, and I'm really glad I did. This recipe, as simple as it is, really infuses the shrimp with flavor without over cooking it. The shrimp is light, fresh and seasoned.

So the poaching part comes from Light and Healthy 2010. The rest of the salad is my friend's. He makes it all the time, and we decided to add shrimp to it to make it a very filling one dish meal!

Serves 4

1 lemon, halved
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp black peppercorns
1 pound extra large shrimp (21-25 per pound), peeled and deveined

Salad and dressing
2 large heads of butterhead, but I used red leaf lettuce
1 large avocado, pitted, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 large pomelo or grapefruit, peeled an pith removed, segmented
1 shallot, minced but not super finely
white balsamic
olive oil
1/4 tsp salt

For the shrimp
Place 3 cups water in medium sauce pan and squeeze the juice of both lemon halves into the water. Add the squeezed lemon halves, bay leaf, and peppercorns to the water, and cook for 2 minutes. Remove the pan from heat, add the shrimp, cover and let sit for 8 minutes, have ready a bowl filled with ice water.

Drain shrimp, discarding the lemon halves, bay leaf and peppercorns. Immediately transfer shrimp to the bowl of ice water to stop the cooking and let them sit in the ice water until they are chilled, about 3 minutes. Drain the shrimp from the water, transfer them into a large bowl, and refrigerate until needed (I did not do this since I was putting them into the salad right away).

For the salad and dressing
In the bowl in which you will toss the salad, place shallots with balsamic vinegar (enough to just cover them) . When the shallots turn pinkish or red, add the olive oil, approximately 3 to 1. Add salt, and whisk together until the dressing has the consistency of egg yolk, kind of slimey like.

Add lettuce, citrus fruit, avocado and shrimp. Toss together and serve.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Skillet Roasted Carrots and Parsnips

This recipe was quick and easy, and from Light and Healthy 2010 by America's Test Kitchen, a quick and easy side dish that's typically made in the oven but can be made on the stove if your oven is occupied.

Serves 4

-12 ounces carrots, peeled and sliced 1/2 inch thick on the bias
-12 ounces parsnips, peeled and sliced 1/2 inch thick on the bias
-3/4 cup water
-1/2 tsp salt
-3/4 tsp sugar
-1 T canola oil
-chopped parsley

1. Bring carrots, water, oil, sugar and 1/2 teaspoon salt to a simmer in a 12-inch nonstick over medium heat. Cover and cook, stirring occassionally, until the carrots begin to soften 7-9 minutes.

2. Uncover, increase heat to high, and add the parsnips. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the water has completely evaporated and the carrots and parsnips are tender and well browned, about 15 minutes longer.

3. Off the heat, stir in parsley and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve.

Since I didn't have parsnips, I doubled the amount of carrots.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Weather monopolizing the garden

This year, I was all set to go with my garden, planting more than I did last year. Last year, I grew only tomatoes from plant starts I purchased at my local nursery. Three tomato plants, 1 Sun Gold, and 2 Super Sweet 100s, produced over 1200 tomatoes! For a month and a half, we ate the most wonderful tomato salads. It was all I could do from eating them before they were to be served at dinner. They were like candy.

Amazing, I thought. My investment really paid off. I took copious notes about when I planted, fertilized etc. hoping that it would pay off again this year. While I've had some success this year, including a successful harvest of winter beets (pictures below in a previous post) and spring lettuce, I'm mildly concerned that my tomatoes just aren't going to be productive.

First, it's been rainier and cooler longer in 2010 than the same time last year. I recently read an article in our local newspaper that stated a year ago in May 2009, we had record breaking heat. I didn't know it was record breaking. I thought it was normal! Perhaps that's why my tomato and bell peppers did exceptionally well. Tomatoes love sun AND heat. So I thought I was doing well when I planted my tomatoes in mid-April like I did last year, 6 this time. I planted some of the same variety and two new kinds.

As soon as I planted them, a cold spell hit and then I noticed that my plants were getting the tell tale signs of being cold. I wrapped them in the row cover to keep them warm and then they sprouted and grew beautifully. Now they are taller than I am (5'2") with some flowers but no fruit. Perhaps they expended all their energy on growing. According to my 2009 garden notes, on July 15, I wrote that the tomatoes are starting to ripen, and more fruit appearing. Well, it's 2010 and there is no fruit. On July 30, 2009, I picked my first sweet little tomato. I'm both grateful and scornful of my notes. Grateful because I have a comparison, scornful because I can't fool myself into believing that my crop will come.

Will I have anything to harvest this year?! I am hopeful for heat later in the summer and perhaps an overdue crop? Cross your fingers.

Creamy polenta with wild mushrooms, spinach and tomatoes

I loved this recipe which is straight out of Light and Healthy 2010 by America's Test Kitchen. It was earthy, warm, comforting. The one thing I didn't like was how juicy the dish became. Some juice is necessary but this was a lot, and I think it may have to do with the first part of cooking the mushrooms covered. When I make this again, I will cook the mushrooms on high heat w/out salt until they are softened and browned and then add salt at the end.

Serves 4

For the topping:
2 pounds cremini mushrooms, halved if small, quartered if large
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 tsp olive oil
1/4 ounce dried porcini mushrooms, minced after being reconstituted
1 tsp minced fresh rosemary
2 garlic cloves, minced
12 ounces baby spinahc
12 ounces cherry tomatoes, halved
Black pepper

For the polenta:
4 cups water
1 cup coarsely ground cornmeal
1/2 cup Parmesan, divided
1 T unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
black pepper

For the topping, compile cremini mushrooms, onion, oil, porcini mushrooms, rosemary and 1/4 tsp salt in a large Dutch oven. Cover and cook over medium-low heat, stir occassionally, until the vegetables are softened, 10 to 12 minutes. Uncover, increase the heat to medium-high and continue to cook, stirring occassionally, until the vegetables are lightly browned, 4 to 6 minutes.

Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add spinach, one handful at a time, and cook until wilted, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and cook until just softened. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and set aside off the heat to keep warm.

Meanwhile, bring water and 1/2 tsp salt to a boil in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Slowly add cornmeal, whisking constantly in a circular motion to prevent clumping.

Bring to a simmer, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook, stirring often and vigorously, making sure to scrape the corners of the pot, until all the polenta becomes soft and smooth, 10 to 15 minutes. Off the heat, vigorously stir in half the cheese and all the butter. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Divide the polenta among 4 bowls. Divide vegetable mixture evenly among bowls, arranging it on top of the polenta. Sprinkle each portion with remaining cheese and serve.