Roasted fingerling potatoes with garlic and thyme

roasted fingerling potatoes

Springtime brings new potatoes, and they are addictive when roasted in a bit of olive oil with fresh thyme and garlic and sprinkled with salt. I like to roast these miniature potatoes which are called fingerlings, ’cause, well, they look like fingers! The yellow ones are Russian fingerlings and the red ones are French fingerlings. These French ones here are freshly dug new potatoes that I got at the farmer’s market and their skin is very thin.

garlic and thyme in pot

I adapted this recipe from Alice Water’s wonderful cookbook “Chez Pannisse Vegetables”.

Preheat oven to 400

Soak potatoes in salt water for about 10 minutes or so, then scrub the skins. Dry with paper towels.

garlic thyme in olive oil

Select a shallow baking dish that the potatoes can fit  snugly in one layer, Cover bottom of the baking dish with 2 Tb olive oil. Sprinkle about 8 small sprigs of fresh thyme leaves. Halve a bulb of garlic crosswise and separate the cloves, (you don’t need to peel them), and place them in the dish.

fingerling potatoes before roasting

Toss the potatoes in the oil then sprinkle with sea salt and pepper.  Arrange the potatoes so they fit snugly in the dish in one layer, and the garlic and thyme are evenly disbursed. Add 1/4 cup of water for a 8″ square baking dish, less for a smaller one. Tightly cover with a lid or foil.

Bake at 400 for 40 minutes. Uncover dish and bake for another 5 minutes or so until potatoes are dry and a fork easily pierces them. Sprinkle with more salt and serve hot.

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Kasha Varnishkes with fresh herbs, mushrooms and peas

???????????????????????????????Kasha Varnishkes is a traditional Russian-Jewish dish of kasha and farfelle (buckwheat groats and bow tie pasta). I dressed up my mom’s recipe with fresh herbs, mushrooms and freshly shelled peas.

toasting kasha

toasting kasha

Did you know that buckwheat is gluten-free because it is a fruit? Kasha is the roasted buckwheat seed (groat). Buckwheat has many health benefits including lowering blood pressure, and cholesterol, is low-glycemic, and is a good source of protein and magnesium.

Did you know that even though farfelle is called bow tie pasta, it is named for farfella, which means butterfly in Italian!

Ingredients:

1 large pot of salted water

8 oz farfelle (bow-tie pasta)

1 cup kasha (toasted buckwheat groats)

1 egg

1 Tb olive oil

1 small onion

1 ½ cups mushroom

1 tsp minced rosemary

¼ tsp minced thyme

¼ tsp dill weed

2 1/4 cups Roz’s Jewish Chicken Soup or use vegetable broth for a vegetarian version. If you want to use prepared broth, salt the kasha to taste.

½ – 1 tsp salt to taste, depending on saltiness of the broth.

A few shakes or grinds of black pepper

1 bay leaf

1 tsp lemon juice

2 cups shelled English peas (you can substitute frozen peas)

1 Tb chopped Italian parsley

Directions:

Heat a large pot of salted water to boiling

Heat broth to boiling in a heavy, medium saucepan.

While you are heating the liquids, prepare the kasha:

Sauté onion in olive oil over low heat about 10 minutes until soft,

While the onion is cooking, mix kasha with a beaten egg in a bowl until the kasha is coated. Toast kasha in a dry non-stick frying pan, stirring with a wooden spoon until the grains separate.

Toast kasha in a dry non-stick frying pan, stirring with a wooden spoon until the grains separate.

???????????????????????????????Add mushrooms to onions, cover and cook another 3 minutes until mushrooms begin to soften. Stir in herbs and cook another minute, then add the toasted kasha.

Pour kasha mixture into hot broth; add bay leaf, lemon juice and pepper.  Salt it to taste. Cover and cook over medium-low heat for 12 minutes until most liquid is absorbed. Stir in fresh peas in the last 7 minutes. If you choose to use frozen peas, stir them in at the last 4 minutes.

While kasha is cooking, cook pasta for 10 minutes in salted water. Drain and Stir into cooked kasha. Extra broth from the kasha will act as gravy. Stir in chopped parsley.

Vegetable Broth

vegetable brothPerfect to make for the vegetarian cousins for my Seder’s matzo ball soup, or great as a base for Minestrone soup, mushroom barley soup, kale and white bean soup, borscht,  or other veggie soups. It smells fantastic while cooking.

vegetables3 medium leeks

1 bunch celery, outer stalks and leafy tops

1 onion

4 cloves of garlic

3 carrots

2 sprigs fresh rosemary

1 Tb thyme (fresh or dried, depending on the season)

1 tsp each dried dill weed, oregano,

4 bay leaves

1 – 2 Tb salt

several grinds black pepper

Boil 6 cups of water in a large pot.

soaking leeksDiscard root end off of leeks. Slit leeks down the middle several times, then chop crosswise. Place them in a salad spinner and fill it with water. Let soak while chopping other vegetables. Then lift basket and discard dirty water. Repeat 2 more times, rubbing leeks to loosen dirt, then rinse thoroughly.

Rinse onion, trim top and tail, then cut into large chunks, including the skin for its lovely golden color. Peel the bitter skin from carrots and chop roughly. (I sometimes use dried but edible baby carrots instead). Pull outer stalks from celery and discard the dirty bottoms. Rinse well and chop roughly. Cut leafy tops from the inner stalks and rinse and chop roughly. Smash garlic in a molcajete or mortar and pestle to remove shell, and chop.

cooking brothAdd all vegetables and seasonings to boiling water and let boil for ½ hour. Transfer to a crock pot and let cook all day or night, depending on when you begin.

Strain broth through a sieve and adjust salt. The broth freezes well, so put in several containers for future use.

Mushroom turkey gravy

makes about 3 cups gravy

Ingredients:

2 Tablespoons olive oil

4 Tablespoons canola oil

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1 pound mushrooms, cleaned well and cut in eighths

1/4 cup dry white wine or dry sherry

several grinds black pepper

1 tsp finely chopped fresh thyme or 1/2 tsp dried thyme

1/2 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary

Make the roux on Wednesday before Thanksgiving or on Thanksgiving morning after the turkey is in the oven. In a small saucepan,  pour in 2 Tb olive oil and 4 Tb canola oil. With a wooden spoon, stir in sifted flour to make a roux. Cook the roux about 7 minutes over medium heat until it begins to darken to the shade of peanut butter. Let cool until turkey is done. You can store it in the refrigerator if you make it the day before.

When turkey is roasted, pick up the turkey on the rack from the pan and place over the serving platter.

If you roasted your turkey without liquid, stir white wine or sherry in the roasting pan and heat while scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to loosen any browned bits. Add 2  3/4 cups of Roz’s Jewish Chicken Soup or boxed turkey stock.

If using my recipe for Thanksgiving Turkey, use the liquid and roasted vegetables at the bottom of the pan for gravy.

???????????????????????????????Remove large pieces of herbs from the liquid, then pour liquid into a fat separating cup. This is a cup that has a spout connected to the bottom of the cup.  The fat will rise to the top and only the fat-free liquid will pour out,   yielding 2 3/4 cups. Discard the fat left in the cup. Pour the sherry or wine into the stock. If needed add Roz’s Jewish Chicken Soup or boxed turkey stock.

Heat this defatted stock with drippings to a boil in a medium pot. Put the roux in a large mixing bowl. Set beaters on low and slowly pour in the hot turkey broth, beating constantly.  Add minced thyme, rosemary, and several grinds black pepper. Beat the gravy on medium high until it is smooth. Pour the gravy into the pot and heat until it is simmering. Stir gravy while it heats to a boil. for 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and continue to boil. Cook 10  minutes until mushrooms are cooked. Add chopped giblets, if desired. The gravy will thicken, although you may not notice it until it cools down, but it should coat the back of a spoon.

Thanks to the San Francisco Chronicle food section for their tips on making gravy with roux.

Thanksgiving Recipes

I am delighted to share my posts for a Thanksgiving feast. I am thankful that you have taken the time to read my posts and perhaps tried out the recipes. Happy Thanksgiving! Roz

Thanksgiving Turkey

chunky-kabocha-soup-with-appeal

Chunky Kabocha Soup with Appeal

???????????????????????????????Kabocha Squash Coconut Soup

Two Autumn Fruit Salads: Sweet and Spinach

Light as a feather cream biscuits

Fruit juice sweetened, no sugar Jellied Cranberry Sauce

Low fat creamy garlic mashed potatoes

Rosemary and olive oil cornbread

Abuelita Luz’s Camote con leche (Yam Pudding)

fluted pie crust

pie crust

DSC03214Pumpkin Pie

pie slice

Drunken Pecan Sweet Potato Pie

Broccoli and Veggie Quiche for a Nursing Mother

My cousin just had a baby and I wanted to make her a quiche rich in calcium and easy on the spices. I included broccoli which is rich in calcium (178 mg per cup) and sharp cheddar which complements the broccoli. I topped it with sliced heirloom tomatoes, because well, they are in season and also complement the cheese. For flavor and color I added a bit of fresh thyme, red onion, red bell pepper and a couple of large mushrooms. I used 1% milk but it came out nice and creamy.

Make a single pie crust using my pie crust recipe.

Then brush a beaten egg in the bottom to guard against sogginess from the filling. (One egg will be more than enough to cover the pie bottom. Add the leftover egg to the custard.)

Preheat oven to 375◦

Filling ingredients: Makes 1 quiche (using a 9” pie pan)

Filling:

1 tsp olive oil

1 small broccoli with stem

1 very small red onion

1 red bell pepper

2 large mushrooms

1/2 tsp fresh thyme leaves

1/4   tsp salt

1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese

1/2 medium tomato (I used an heirloom tomato)

Custard:

1 cup milk

2 eggs

1/4 tsp salt

Slice onion and bell pepper and sauté in 1 tsp olive oil. Slice mushroom and add to sauté.

Strip the outer peel from the broccoli stem and slice broccoli stem. The stem is actually quite tender underneath the tough peel. Slice florets and discard lower branches. Add to vegetables with fresh thyme leaves and salt. Continue to sauté until the broccoli and other vegetables are well cooked, but broccoli florets are still a bright green.

For the custard, I warmed the milk for a minute in the microwave. Beat eggs, and add milk and salt. I used the blender, but you can beat it with a whisk instead.

Place 1/4 cup grated cheese on the bottom of each crust and add the vegetables. Pour in the custard. It should be at least 1/2 inch below the top of the pan, otherwise it will spill all over the oven!

Slice 1/2 of a  medium heirloom tomato into 3 rather thin slices and place them atop the custard. Sprinkle on the rest of the cheese. Bake for 30-40 min in 375◦ oven until top begins to brown and an inserted knife comes out clean. Cool before eating.

 

Eggplant Marinara


Rich with eggplant, mushrooms and fresh tomatoes, spicy with Italian sausage,  garlic and pepper, and fragrant with fresh herbs, this marinara sauce is ideal for pasta or Lasagna. There are two ways to make this marinara: with eggplant purée or sliced Italian eggplant. You could even use both for an extra helping of vegetables. I roasted the mushrooms to bring out their earthy flavor.

I took a tip from The Breakaway Cook Eric Gower, and added ground dried mushrooms for umami, (Japanese for savory deliciousness), which wonderfully expands and rounds out flavors.

Along with my homegrown herbs, I add a fresh bay leaf. I pick them when I get the chance to hike in the hills around Berkeley and Palo Alto. Their aroma brings me memories of my youth hiking and biking those hills. Just be careful about leaving them in too long – the fresh ones are very strong and can overpower the sauce, making it bitter. Just leave it in about 15 minutes.

Serves 8 (with pasta)

3 links turkey Italian sausage or vegetarian sausage

1 Tb olive oil

1 onion, chopped fine

1 Tb  salt (to taste)

½ tsp. red chili flakes

5 cloves garlic, crushed and minced

3 Tb minced fresh oregano OR  3 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp. minced fresh rosemary

1 tsp. minced fresh thyme or 1/2 tsp dried thyme

1 tsp. minced fresh tarragon or 1/2 tsp dried tarragon

several grinds black pepper

2 bell peppers and/or red bell peppers. (can substitute 3 cups frozen or 2 cups jarred roasted red peppers)

1 small (6 oz) can tomato paste

¼ cup red wine

2 lbs or 14 large soft Roma tomatoes (substitute 24 oz can of crushed tomatoes and 24 oz diced tomatoes

1 Tb sugar to taste

1 bay leaf

3 dried mushrooms

1 roasted globe eggplant  and/or  4 Italian eggplants, cut in rounds and quartered

1 cup quartered mushrooms

1  14-oz can artichoke hearts, quartered

I bunch (1/4 cup minced) fresh basil

Italian eggplant method: Roast or barbecue eggplant and peppers. Discarding ends, slice eggplant into rounds, then quarter the rounds.

Globe Eggplant Method: Pierce globe eggplant with a fork, and roast in a heavy oiled baking pan in 400’ oven for 1 hour until it collapses.  Roast red peppers and mushrooms for the last ½ hour alongside the eggplant. You can roast the vegetables a day ahead of time.

You can also barbecue the eggplant peppers and mushrooms.

While eggplant is roasting and cooling, make the rest of the sauce.

Slice, quarter and brown sausages and drain the fat.

Sauté onion and salt in olive oil until it begins to soften, about 2 minutes Add sausage, chopped fresh or frozen bell peppers (if not roasting them), chili flakes, garlic, oregano, rosemary, thyme and black pepper. Sauté another couple of minutes until herbs release their fragrance.

Add tomato paste, then fill tomato paste can with water then stir in the tomato paste that has stuck to the can.

Halve Roma tomatoes and scoop out seeds and fibrous ribs.

Pulse tomatoes in food processor until desired consistency is reached. I did mine on the chunky side. (If you are using canned tomatoes, add them instead.) Stir into tomato paste and herb mixture. Add sugar to balance the acidity of the tomatoes.

If using chopped Italian eggplant, add it to sauce.

If using globe eggplant, scrape it out from the peel and mince it. Stir it into the sauce.

Quarter mushrooms and mix in sauce.

Grind the dried mushrooms until pulverized in a clean coffee grinder or spice grinder. Stir into sauce.

Add 1/4 cup wine and sip some on the side…

If using roasted bell peppers, stir them into the sauce.

Stir well and let simmer for an hour. You can make this in a crock pot and let it simmer for several hours.

Add quartered artichoke hearts and tarragon for last 10 minutes of cooking. Just before serving over pasta or making lasagna, stir in basil and cook a couple of minutes.