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Posts Tagged ‘recipes’

I wait for this every summer

I don’t mind gazpacho, but I don’t love it enough to even make my own – so many other things I love my tomatoes for.

Here’s one of them – panzanella, aka Italian Bread Salad – also well suited for a no-cook dinner for August. I’m sure this one was invented
for similar reasons as gazpacho, although maybe with kids who are less entertained by all the fine chopping – this one you can zip through quite
quickly between requests for Mama.

My version:
for the dressing/marinade:
1/4 cup olive oil
1/8 cup red wine vinegar
1 clove garlic
1 minced shallot
salt and pepper

2 ripe tomatoes, cubed, with all their juice
1/2 cup or so shredded basil
other leftover non-crunchy vegetables of choice – cooked zuchinni, peppers, eggplant, etc (or you could cook them just for this, if you want!)
red onion slices, if you want
chopped black olives – I like oil cured
4 cups or so cubed bread – either stale, or lightly toasted. I love to use supermarket-issue Italian breads cut into thick slices, then cubed, and then toasted. But I’m sure it would be great with a heartier, denser bread if you prefer that.

First mix up the dressing, and put the tomatoes, basil, and other vegetables in it to marinate for a bit. Meanwhile, toast the bread if you haven’t already. Toss the bread in with everything else, let it soak up the flavors and liquid, put it in the fridge if you are doing it early in the day or serve (ideally wait to serve it for at least 15 minutes or half an hour.) Tomatoes do not always benefit from time in the fridge, but actually this is quite good and still tastes like super-fresh tomato even the next day, if you can keep it around that long. Maybe it’s the vinegar?

This makes a big bowl, but 2 adults (at least 2 adults like us) plus a picky child who gets the components before they all sit in each others’ juices can still finish it off for dinner.

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Today’s lunch, which I always feel brilliant for remembering each summer, was fresh vietnamese spring rolls which each of us could make ourselves.
Ideal for picky eaters, or at least the picky eater in our household, who loves just about every form of raw vegetable, loves to eat with her hands, and hates
sauces. Also, ideal for using up some raw vegetables while getting a break from salad, and making an entree out of foods you don’t have to cook.

The rice paper wrappers “cook” one at a time in a shallow bowl of hot water that you can heat up in the microwave.

The rest of the fillings can be entirely raw, though we also cooked some matchsticks of zucchini and spring turnip because they seemed like they’d go nicely but would be better cooked. It did add 5 minutes of frying pan heat to the kitchen, but that wasn’t so bad. (Guess who needed some zucchini raw for her plate, though?)

Our ingredients, spread out on several plates:
* sauteed matchsticks of zucchini and spring turnip
* plain tofu cut into thin rectangular strips
* Chinese cabbage cut into ribbons
* chopped scallion
* mint leaves from the backyard

We made a sweet sauce based on a jar of black bean sauce for the inside, and a sweet and sour sauce based on garlic, fish sauce, sugar, and rice vinegar to dip in, though we mostly poured that over our bites too because we’re not so great at rolling things up neatly. Tastes good anyway, and it’s fun to make your own rollups at the table!

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frozen vegetable stock

I like to make vegetable stock when I have more vegetables than I know what to do with, or something that’s getting a little long in the tooth.
I usually make 3-5 quarts at a time – once in a while a little more or even a little less.

This is my first batch where I planned for some of the vegetable scraps came from the freezer – leek greens, parsley stems, and celery tops, primarily. I’ll definitely be continuing to save these things in the freezer so I don’t need to have the full mix of vegetables on hand! Add some parsnips that I had a few too many of (I didn’t realize that was even *possible*, last year!), and some carrots, brown in the bottom of the stockpot in some oil, and then add plenty of water to make the stock. I also added a leftover cooked butternut squash half we weren’t going to eat. Transfer to the freezer and make matzoh ball soup later, or add to stews and sauces.

Simple Vegetable Broth

  • 5 carrots
  • 3-4 parsnips
  • celery greens
  • leek tops
  • parsley stems
  • any other vegetable that’s getting tired or even already cooked
  • 5 quarts of water
  • salt
  • 2 Tb oil

Brown the vegetables in the oil, letting them develop some good brown spots. Then add about 5 quarts of water and let simmer for 2 hours or so until it tastes good. Spoon broth into containers through a sieve, refrigerate, and freeze. You can reserve the parsnips and carrots to eat – they’ve given a lot of their flavor to the broth, but still have a bit and I presume a bit of nutritional value, so why throw them out?

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Here, for Abbe, is my recipe for Neopolitans the way that the Aunts Gail and Thelma used to make them. I write it largely as I received it, rather than as I would write it, so pardon any eccentricity. Notes and tips from my experience will follow.

  • 1 12 oz. can of Solo Almond Filling
  • 1 c. butter, softened
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 2 c. sifted flour
  • 4 egg whites
  • 20 drops of red food coloring
  • 12 drops of green food coloring
  • 1/4 c. raspberry seedless jam
  • 1/4 c. apricot jam
  • 6 oz. semisweet chocolate chips
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line your 13×9 cake pan with parchment paper. (The Aunts used wax paper, very specifically, but I have found it made too much smoke.)
  2. Mix the first four ingredients together until fluffy.
  3. Add flour and blend.
  4. Whip the whites to soft peaks.
  5. Stir the whites into the batter.
  6. Divide the batter into thirds (1 1/2 c. each) and color one batch red and one batch green.
  7. Smooth each third into the pan and bake for 10-15 minutes.
  8. Once the individual layers are cooled, stack them with the red on the bottom, then the apricot jam, then the yellow, then the raspberry jam, then the green.
  9. Put a layer of parchment paper (or wax, if you insist) over the top and lay your heaviest book on top. Let it sit in the fridge overnight, being squashed.
  10. In the morning, melt the chip and spread them in the thin layer over the top. Cut into tiny little 45 degree diamonds using a metal ruler if you want to honor the Aunts or into tiny little squares using a pizza cutter if you’re like me.

Notes:

First of all, I always double the batch and bake them in my half-sheet trays. It’s much easier and your margins of error are greater. Plus, more cookies!

This recipe drive me nuts because of the whipped egg whites. The dough is so stiff that you cannot fold the whites into the dough, no matter how you try to “lighten it with the first third of the white,” as is usual in these sorts of recipes. Aunt Gail’s recipe doesn’t even offer this bland platitude — it’s a practical and straightforwards “stir in the whites.” Which, of course, deflates the hell out of them, so why bother whipping? And even if you manage to fold them in, then you squash the whole thing under a dictionary! It bothers me every year but I have yet to muster the time and energy to experiment with something else.

When you finish separating your egg whites, move them to another room. There is little more heartbreaking than finding, at 9 o’clock on Christmas Eve, that your mixer has flung a glob of butter into the 8 egg whites and now they won’t whip and all the stores are closed.

Of course, your mixer isn’t the only thing that might fling some about some ingredients. This is an immensely messy recipe — you need to move all the batter from the mixer bowl and then wash it and then whip the whites and then divide it up into three bowls and color them. Never mind separating the eggs in the first place. As such, you should begin this recipe in a clean kitchen with all your dishes washed and the dishwasher empty. It will pretty much fill your dishwasher when you’re done.

You need multiple spatulas (or spoonulas, as I think they are called). Or you need to be willing to wash them between colors.

The pink layer will look slightly neon — pinker than Pepto, more like Bubbalicious cherry gum. Don’t panic. That’s okay.

Finally, and most vitally, Solo Almond Filling is the key to this recipe and it can be hard to find sometimes. Your best bet is the baking aisle, near the cans of pumpkin. I have yet to figure out how to approximate it myself and as far as I can tell, there is no substitute by any other brand. Do not use Solo Almond Paste — it’s not the same thing at all. The paste is essentially marzipan and very stiff, like cold Play-Doh. The Filling is gloppy-sloppy and translucent and smells like a diabetic coma.

If anyone, any where, can suggest a variation on Solo Almond Filling, please pass it along. I’d love to be able to make it from scratch, but I’ll settle for a steady source of the stuff. One year I had to mail order it from N.J.!

Let me know how yours turns out.

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a glut of ginger

Recently, Brookfield Farm offered us a chance to get local organic ginger from a farm started by their friends! Of course, I ordered too much. You can freeze it, and I did that with one root, but I am pushing the 2nd root as far as it will go fresh in the fridge. (This, 2 weeks, might be close to as far as it will go; take heed! I think it’s time to use or freeze what’s left.)

So instead of digging out ginger from my freezer only if feel like the hassle of finding it, peeling it, and grating it, I’ve been trying to remember what else goes with ginger as I cook for the past two weeks. Our French toast, baked goods, stir-fries, and curries have all had ginger added, but my new tip for enjoying more of a glut of fresh ginger in this season: ginger tea!

fresh ginger tea

    12 oz water
    1-2 slices of fresh ginger root
    1/2 tsp sugar
    slice of lemon

Microwave a mug of water (or a few cups in a large pyrex measuring cup.) Drop in slices of ginger, a little sugar or honey, a slice or two of lemon or some dried lemon peel if you choose, and let stand until drinking temperature. If you used dried lemon peel, you probably want to strain it before drinking.

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