GC #47 – Roasting

 

Roasted Broccoli

Roasted Broccoli

Roasting is an easy way to cook healthy, delicious meals with a minimum of effort. I’m not thinking of Thanksgiving turkey or Christmas roast beef, but the ordinary vegetables, meat and potatoes we eat every day. In fact, roasting creates such rich tasting vegetable and potatoes that meat and fish can be kept to a minimum or avoided entirely.

Roast a complete meal, timing the vegetables, potatoes and fish or meat all to be done at the same time. Prep is easy.  Roasting requires little work after the vegetables are cut up. Best of all, it’s almost fool proof!

1/2 size sheet pans

1/2 size sheet pans

Here are few keys to good roasting.

They begin with good roasting pans, which must be large enough. Roasted vegetables and potatoes taste so good because the crisp parts have begun to caramelize, bringing out richer flavors. The pieces need to be far enough apart to caramelize quickly.

You want what restaurants call “sheet pans.” Full sheet pans (18” X 26”) are too large for most home ovens, but ½ size sheet pans (18” X 13”) fit perfectly and ¼ size sheet pans (9” X 13”) are useful for smaller quantities. They come in stainless steel, aluminum and anodized aluminum, which is the least likely to bleed dangerous elements into your food. They can be purchased on line for anywhere from $10 to $15 for the ½ pan sheet size.

Vegetables appropriate for roasting. Root crops come to life with roasting, which Cauliflower in roasting panBroccoli in Roasting Panbrings out their flavors and sweetness and they are available in winter when (outside of California) most other vegetables must be transported from far away. Broccoli heads and cauliflower are wonderful as well. You may even get your kids to eat them!

 

Potatoes in Roasting Pan 2

 

Tips for Roasting

  1. Preheat the oven to between 375° and 425°. Experiment and find out what’s best for you. 375° you don’t have to watch as carefully, but it takes longer. At 425° they brown faster but may not be quite as soft and tender and the can quickly burn.
  2. Use vegetables that cook in the same time on the same sheet pan, then stagger the times you put the sheet pans into the oven.
  3. Cut the vegetables into roughly the same size pieces, about an inch to an inch and half for broccoli.
  4. Chop roughly and add several cloves of garlic (I use five or six large cloves for each sheet pan).
  5. Put the cutup vegetables in a bowl and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Add any other spices such as red pepper flakes and curry or chili powder.
  6. Put the vegetable pieces on a sheet pan with plenty of room between each piece.
  7. Check them in about 20 minutes. When they begin to brown, turn them over to brown them evenly on all sides.
  8. They are done when they are light brown and tender.Cauliflower Roasted
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GC #46 – Whole Wheat Flat Bread

 Carbohydrates have a bad name but I like wheat breads. The problem is, being the only one in my family who now eats bread, I have a dilemma. A whole loaf goes dry in a few of days and I end up with jars of breadcrumbs. I could make smaller loaves and freeze them, but there are times when there’s nothing in cupboard and biscuits are too rich.P1030078

P1030055

Grown and stone-milled by Next Step Produce, Newburg, Maryland

Flat breads are the answer. I use high quality whole-wheat flour from a local grower and olive oil, water, salt and onions for flavor. That’s it. They taste delicious and are easy to make. Mark Bittman, my favorite food writer, suggested them in an article in The New York Times a few weeks ago. I’ve simplified his recipe and made a few changes. It varies from Mark’ Bittman’s recipe mainly because I bake the flat bread much thinner, until it is almost crisp.

Check out Mark Bittman’s original recipe at http://markbittman.com/recipe/easy-whole-grain-flatbread/

Incidentally, Next Step Produce has some of the best market crops at the Dupont Circle Farmers’ Market in Washington, DC.  Check out http://nextstepproduce.com.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil (probably could use less)
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh herb leaves (optional)

Preparation of Whole Wheat Flat Bread

  • Put the flour into a bowl; add salt; then slowly add 1 1/2 cups water, whisking to eliminate lumps. Cover with a towel, and let sit while oven heats, or as long as 12 hours. The batter should be about the consistency of thin pancake batter.
  • When ready to bake, heat the oven to 450°F.
  • P1030056Put the oil in a ¼ baking sheet (that’s 14 X 9) along with the onion and rosemary if you’re using them and put into the heated oven.
  • Wait a couple of minutes for the oil to get hot, but not smoking. Remove the pan, give the onions a stir, then pour in the batter and return to the oven.
  • P1030061Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until the flatbread is well browned and crisp around the edges.

 

Cut into squares and serve.

P1030069

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GC #45 – Biscuits

Americans have been eating biscuits since our early pioneer days, probably because biscuits are useful when yeast isn’t available or when you need a quick bread.  Made with flour, shortening and milk or water, they are fairly rich and should be eaten hot, but they are also adaptable to a huge variety of healthy additions.

This recipe comes from the 24th printing of the 1931 edition of Irma Rombauer’s Joy of Cooking.   P1030074A newer edition of this classic is now available, but I prefer this battered copy.  It was my mother’s and still has her notes in margins.  I think of her and I smell the warm flavors of my youth every time I open it.  Where else can you find a recipe for Salami of Wildfowl or roasted snipes and woodcock, let alone preparing roe for caviar, preserving eggs or instructions on

Joy of Cooking Plan for herb garden

Joy of Cooking Plan for herb garden

cultivating herbs (complete with a suggested garden planting) all in the same book.

Ingredients for Rolled Biscuits

  • 1 3/4 cup sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 teaspoons double-acting baking powder
  • 4 to 6 tablespoons chilled butter or shortening, or a combination of both
  • 3/4 cup of milk

 

Preparation of Rolled Biscuits

  • Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
  • Sift the dry ingredients together into a large bowl.
  • Cut the shortening into the dry ingredients using a pastry blender or two knives until the mixture is the consistency of coarse cornmeal.  Don’t get neurotic about this; some bigger lumps won’t matter.
  • Make a well in the center of these ingredients and pour in the milk all at once.
  • Immediately stir the ingredients together, talking no more than 30 seconds.
  • Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead together quickly (again, no more then 30 seconds).
  • Use you hands to shape in a rectangle about 1/2 inch thick.
  • Cut with a round biscuit cutter or simply into 1 1/2 inch rectangles.
  • Brush the  tops with milk or melted butter.
  • Place on an ungreased baking sheet and bake until lightly browned, about 12 to 15 minutes

Tips for Biscuits

As a rule of thumb, breads made with baking powder should be handled as briefly and gently as possible while in most cases breads made with yeast can be kneaded and handled as much as possible.

Additions to Biscuits

  • Dust the tops with a mixture of cinnamon and sugar before baking.
  • Just before they brown, sprinkle the tops with grated parmesan and paprika.
  • Or incorporate any of the following into the dough:
    • 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley, chives or sage.
    • 1/3rd cup crumbled roquerfort or cheddar cheese.
    • 2 or 3 slices of cooked and crumbled bacon.
    • 3 tablespoons chopped ham
    • 4 tablespoons sauteed onions.

P1030024My daughter Georgia prepared these biscuits as the basis for a lunch.  She broke the biscuits in half, inserted a fried egg, cheese and and handful of lettuce, and served them with small bowl of asparagus soup.

Next blog I’ll have a few of the many variations of biscuits.

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GC #44 – Radishes a la Creme

Radishes are available in farmers markets in an increasingly interesting variety of sizes, shapes and colors.  They are great winter and early spring vegetable when choices of locally grown foods are limited, and they look spectacular when served.Radishes sliced 2

This simple recipe calls for thinly sliced radishes, creme fraiche, a little salt and pepper.  From David Tanis, One Good Dish.

Radishes sliced with Creme Fraiche

Radishes sliced with Creme Fraiche

And there are lots of radish varieties available in farmers markets today.

Radishes sliced variety 2

 

To get the uniformly thin slices which make this simple dish so elegant, you’ll need a mandolin.

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Gc #43 Chicken Croquettes

IMG_0450P1030002

 

 

 

 

The most cost effective way to eat chicken.  Buy a whole bird, cut it up, take the meat off the bones and use the bones for soup. I toss the wings in with the stock and, if I can get them, I add a few chicken feet.  You can find my recipe in Blog #1.

It’s easy to find appealing recipes for the breasts.

The meat cut off the thighs and legs is more problematic. One good way of using the leg and thigh meat is to grind it up and make it into garlic/ginger balls for chicken soup.  See my recipe at Blog #1.

 Chicken croquettes, made from raw chicken meat, will be more popular with your kids and friends than any fast food nuggets.  They are a bit more work than my chicken balls, but you can prepare them up to the cooking stage on a week-end and freeze them, for a quick, easy meal during the week.

I adopted this recipe by Maria Teresa Jorge. Check out her terrific blog at http://food52.com/users/2390-maria-teresa-jorge.

Ingredients for Chicken Croquettes     

Chicken Croquette Ingredients

Chicken Croquette Ingredients

 1
 pound chicken meat, raw, boneless and without skin
  2 
tablespoons chopped parsley
  1
 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
   3 
small shallots chopped finely
   1
 garlic clove
   3
 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
   2
 teaspoons granulated Mustard
    1
 cup bread without the crust
                  1/4
 cup whole milk
                  1/2
 cup bread crumbs
                  1 
egg whole
Salt
Pepper
Vegetable oil for frying

  1. Chop the shallots  and garlic finely.
  2. Sauté shallots and garlic in olive oil until translucent
  3. Cut the inside of the bread (without the crust) in small pieces and measure 1 cup. Mix with the milk until it is totally absorbed.
  4. Cut the chicken meat in small pieces. In a food processor pulse the chicken meat untilP1030008 is ground. Add the mustard, bread with milk, chopped parsley, shallots and garlic, and grated fresh ginger. Add salt and freshly ground pepper. Pulse until combined. At this point you cab put them in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.
  5. Beat 1 whole egg in a bowl. Put the breadcrumbs in a plate. Make the croquettes taking some chicken mince and giving them a shape of a cylinder 1 1/2 inches ling by 3/4 inches thick.
  6. Roll the croquettes in the egg and then in the bread crumbs. At this point you also P1030010can chill them and wait until serving time, or freeze them in a tray and when frozen put them in a plastic bag for use later.
  7. Heat the oil to medium temperature (the oil should be deep enough to come to half the height of the croquettes). Fry the croquettes slowly as you need to make sure the inside is well cooked. When golden on one side turn them over and continue frying until golden on the other side.
  8. Remove from the oil and put on kitchen paper towel to absorb excess oil.

P1030013

The croquettes can also be serve at room temperature for a picnic or made smaller (half the size) and served as finger food.

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GC #42 – Dry Farming Rice

Koshihikari Rice

Koshihikari Rice

Rice – Grown on dry land

I love rice, as do billions of people around the world, but here’s the thing.  It’s traditionally been a water intensive crop and that’s a problem for a warming planet likely to experience sustained droughts while having to feed a growing population.

Rice - Traditional Growing in Bali

Rice – Traditional Growing in Bali

Dry rice farming is an alternative that I discovered when I bought a pound of rice from Heinz Thomet, one of my favorite famers at the Dupont Circle Farmers Market in Washington DC.  If you live in the Washington area, I urge to try Thomet’s vegetables and grains.  His website is http://nextstepproduce.com/about

Thomet ‘s brown rice is the sweetest, most delightfully textured and flavorful rice I’ve ever eaten.  When I was there last week, a woman told me she couldn’t get her  husband to eat brown until she tried Thomet’s.  And he grows his rice the dry way.  The Washington Post published a lengthy piece about him, which I’ve quoted below.   http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/food/rice-grown-in-maryland-farmer-sees-a-future-that-doesnt-involve-flooding/2013/12/16/e4b6ccee-523a-11e3-9e2c-e1d01116fd98_story.html.

“For the most part, rice in the United States is grown in flooded fields or the

Rice Growing Bali

Rice Growing Bali

boggy lands near rivers or other bodies of water, after practices that date back millennia to rice farming in China and Southeast Asia. The floodwaters serve a purpose: They control weeds that otherwise would compete with the rice plants, which have a unique ability to survive the oxygen-less environment of a paddy field.”  It turns out that dry farming is an international effort that people call “system of rice intensification, or SRI.”

“What exactly is SRI? Erika Styger, director of programs at the SRI International Network and Resources Center at Cornell University, lays out four practices that broadly define the system. They are transplanting seedlings at a young age (to promote disease and pest resistance); reducing plant density (to decrease competition); adding organic matter such as compost to the soil (to increase fertility); and eliminating flooded fields (to allow the roots to breathe better).” WP\

It’s labor intensive but  “… farmers can produce higher yields (between 20 and 100 percent higher than conventional harvests) with up to 50 percent less water and 90 percent less seed … What’s more, SRI can eliminate fertilizers, reduce the methane gases that scientists say contribute to global warming, and dramatically lower the levels of inorganic arsenic, the most toxic form.” WP

After some experimentation, thomet’s found that a Japanese rice called Koshihikari Rice Koshi Bagresponded best to his soil and climate.  Koshihikari is a short-grain rice, noted for its sweet, nutty taste, slight stickiness and its translucent quality.   In japan, it’s cultivated as a highly valued “boutique” rice.

Many of my friends gave rice cookers and try swear by gem, but I’ve got to limit my culinary machines, so I make rice the way my mother taught me.

Rice raw TSIngredients for fluffy rice

2 cups premium rice, as fresh as possible.

2 cups water.

Preparation of fluffy rice

  • Wash the rice in its cooking pot until the water runs clear.
  • Drain off most of the water by pouring it from the side of the pot.
  • Add two cups water.
  • Bring to a boil, stir once and reduce to a very slow simmer.
  • Cook covered for about thirty minutes, until all the water is absorbed.
Rice - cooked Koshihikari

Rice – cooked Koshihikari

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GC #41 Almonds Roasted

Almonds Raw and Roasted Nuts are great for you, and almonds are among the best.  According to the USDA, almonds are very low in Cholesterol and Sodium, and are a good source of Riboflavin, Magnesium and Manganese, and a very good source of Vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol).

 Read More http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/nut-and-seed-products/3085/2#ixzz2u4nmr4EJ

You can buy almonds already roasted and prepared in various ways in most good grocery stores, but roasting your own from fresh, organic almonds is hard to beat for freshness and flavor.

Ingredients for roasted almondsAlmonds Raw 2

  • 1 1/2 cups salt
  • 3 cups boiling water
  • 1 pound raw almonds with their skins on
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil

How to roast Almonds

  • Place salt in a large bowl.
  • Add boiling water to the bowl and stir well.  (I use a wire whisk but I can’t get all the salt to dissolve)
  • Add almonds to the brine and let steep for at least a half hour.  Stir frequently to keep the almonds covered with salt.
  • Drain the nuts with a colander.
  • Pour nuts onto a large towel and dry with a second towel patting them thoroughly dry.
  • Transfer nuts to a large bowl.
  • Add canola oil and stir thoroughly coat evenly.
  • If you want to add seasoning, such as chili powder, not is the time to do it.
  • Distribute the nuts on 2 large baking pans.  I use half-sheet pans made of heavy-gauge metal, measuring 18 by 13 inches with a 1-inch rim all around.
  • Slow roast for ½ hour at 200 degrees F then stir.
  • Slow roast for ½ hour at 200 degrees F then stir.
  • Raise temperature in the oven to 300 degrees F.
  • Roast for 15 minutes and let cool to room temperature.Almonds Roasted
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GC #40 – Zucchini Chips

Zucchini and KaleZucchini is plentiful and cheap.  In fact, if you’re a home gardener you are apt to be overrun with zucchini, if you grow it all.  But zucchini can be hard sell to some people who don’t much like vegetables.

I can guarantee you, these zucchini chips will disappear as quickly as you set them out.  People who might eat a small helping of steamed zucchini, they will scarf down two or three whole zucchinis as zucchini chips.

The method I use calls for an oven at 375 degrees.  I was concerned about a loss of Zuccini Chips readynutrient value.    It does appear that cooking any vegetable will reduce some of the veggie’s nutrients, vitamins, minerals and enzymes.  But boiling causes a greater nutrient loss than roasting, because the water leaches away nutrients. The most significant losses are apparently of chlorophyll and vitamin C.  You can minimize nutrient loss by avoiding overripe vegetables and roasting them without peeling.

Ingredients for Zucchinin Chip

  • 2 medium sized zucchini, sliced thinly and evenly
  • Olive oil
  • Salt

How to make Zucchini Chips (preheat the oven to 375 degrees)

  • Zucchini Chip sprayedYou’ll want a mandolin to slice the zucchini, unless you are very quick and sure with a knife.  The slices should be 1/8th or an inch thick, although you may want to experiment with different thicknesses.
  • Spread a very fine coating of olive oil on a heavy-duty cookie sheet.
  • Place the zucchini rounds on the cookie sheet and spray with a light coating of olive oil.  This is an ideal job for Misto, which is a hand pumped, refillable sprayer.  You save money, use your own finest oil, and you aren’t putting any flurocarbons into the atmosphere.
  • Zuccini Chips bakingPut zucchini in the over.  Check it in about thirty minutes.  Mine usually takes about 45 minutes, but it depends on the thickness and moisture content of the zucchini.
  • Take out when many of them are nicely browned.  They won’t all brown evenly on top, but the bottoms are usually consistent.
  • Salt to taste and serve immediately.

Zucchini Chips Served

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GC # 39 Nut Brittle

Nut Brittle TSI’m not a huge sugar eater, but I’m not hysterical on the subject either.  Moderation in all things, including moderation!  Occasionally it’s time to indulge a sweet tooth, and this recipe for sweet and salty nut brittle is superb, plus it’s chock full of healthy nuts.  It’s from a new cookbook – the best new cookbook I’ve discovered in years – called One Good Dish by David Tanis, published by Artisan, 2013.

Ingredients for nute brittle

  • 2 tablespoons softened butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ cup sliced almonds
  • ½ cup pecan halves
  • ½ cup coarsely chopped pistachio
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 1 teaspoon flakey sea salt

Directions for Nut BrittleNut Brittle MS

Generously butter a 10 by 15 inch baking sheet with low sides.

Put the sugar into a two quart stainless steel; saucepan and add one cup of water, taking care not to splash.  Stir until you dissolve the sugar, then cook over a medium to high heat until the syrup takes on a little color, after about 5 or 6 minutes.  Continue cooking without stirring until it turns a reddish brown.  On my stove, this takes about twenty to twenty-five minutes.  Working quickly, add the nuts and sesame seeds and spread onto the buttered baking sheet.  Sprinkle with the sea salt and allow to cool.  Invert the pan and pound on the bottom to release the nut brittle.

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GC #38 – Pork Loin – Roasted with Braised Cabbage

Pork Loin with Cabbage

You want to use a 2 to 3 pound pork loin, fish cut (because it looks kind of like a fish).  This is a fine meal for a winter evening.  Pork Fish Cut Raw

Cabbage Green

Pork loin is a lean meat.  Cabbage is so good for you. And cabbage is a traditional winter crop that stores well until spring.

As with most of my recipes, you can always simplify and  still get great results.  I’ve made this dish without the apples or the apple cider or the juniper berries, and it turns out just fine.

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups sliced onions (if you use red cabbage, use red onions)
  • 1 1/2 to 2 pounds cabbage, finely shredded
  • 2 tart apples, peeled and shredded
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup apple cider
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon juniper berries
  • 2 cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 to 3 cloves of garlic
  • Sizable sprig of rosemary
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 1 (2 to 3-pound) pork loin, “fish cut” preferred
  • 1/4 cup coarse-ground German brown mustard
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh herbs, such as rosemary and thyme or a sprig of rosemary

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Heat the oil in a medium-sized heavy pan and add the onions and saute until translucent and tender. Add the shredded cabbage and apples and cook over medium heat for another 8 to 10 minutes.

[NOTE:  I use a mandolin to prepare the cabbage.  It's an essential kitchen tool available in many sizes and different qualities.  I like the french made Matter Mandolin, but there are huge variety to choose from.]

After the cabbage has cooked down, add the chicken stock, apple cider and red wine vinegar.  Add the spices, about a teaspoon of the salt, and about a teaspoon of pepper. Bring the liquid to a boil, reduce heat to medium low, and cook until partially tender.

Put the cabbage in the bottom of a roasting dish big enough to hold the pork loin.  Rub the pork loin with the mustard and chopped herbs; season with the remaining salt and pepper, and tuck into the braised cabbage. Roast in the oven until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the roast registers 140 to 145 degrees F, about 35 to 40 minutes.

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