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Broccoli Slaw

27 Mar

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Lately, in our CSA farm basket, we have been receiving the most fantastic broccoli I’ve ever tasted. The hearty green grows well here in north Florida; that is if you don’t get any crazy spurts of unseasonably super warm weather making it bolt and go to seed (speaking from experience here). It is so healthy, so filling and satisfying; broccoli is quickly becoming one of my favorite veggies to eat.

It’s funny how tastes change. Growing up, whenever broccoli was served with dinner, I would only eat it doused in nacho cheese sauce. Maybe even a couple of times, I did the whole hide-the-broccoli-in-the-napkin trick. I’m sure my mom and dad never figured that one out (right, guys?). At some point, I matured in my broccoli taste and the boring crudité of raw florets dipped far enough in the endless bowl of ranch to actually be considered “dunking” became my sole broccoli experience.

Times have surely changed again. Years ago, after watching Ina Garten make her Parmesan Roasted Broccoli, I stretched my broccoli comfort a bit farther, and whatcha know? I loved it! Broccoli became a staple in our house from that point on. Roasted, steamed, chopped into risottos, soups, and certainly not loaded down with heavy creams and mayo-based dressings, broccoli has finally received the badge of culinary honor it’s always deserved.

The weather is starting to warm up (sorry cold-weather readers – while we, too, had our wintery bout of frigid weather, it is currently 82 degrees in Jacksonville. Love you guys!). So the innate cravings for springtime foods are in full force. Especially moving around every 3-4 years, Rob and I really try to make the best out of the areas we experience. Food, of course, falls into this category. We have definitely given the true, Southern Food experiences a valiant effort and I, personally have fallen in love with slaws. We’re not talking the globby, sticky, sweet, mayo-dripping, brown-sugar laced kinds of slaw, but the tangy, fresh, crunchy, shredded veg mixtures that have endless possibilities.

During the warm months, when salads just get too monotonous, and the grill needs a break, a slaw is the perfect meal. Yes, meal. Not side dish, but full-on, full-flavor, smack-your-taste buds around, meal. While the classic red/green cabbage with carrots is always an easy go-to, the slaw is the perfect avenue for veggie creativity. Here are a few of my faves (all greens and veggies shredded, to keep the slaw texture genuine):

Kale, savoy cabbage, pumpkin seeds, and dried cranberries
Arugula, green cabbage, carrots, celeriac, celery seeds, almonds, and apple
Red cabbage, zucchini, carrots, curry powder, cumin seeds, and pine nuts

And probably the best (and easiest) of all:
Spinach and Broccoli

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The Spinach and Broccoli Slaw came about with my continually expanding broccoli-love, as well as the fact that our CSA has delivered stalk after stalk of the stuff. Using a food processor fitted with the shredding blade, simply shred 1 whole head of fresh, raw broccoli, a few florets at a time. Then, using 8 oz. of baby spinach, stack them, then roll them into a cigar shape, and slice them thinly into a julienne cut (the leaves then look like little ribbons). Mix the shredded spinach and broccoli together in a large bowl, and lightly season with a pinch of salt.

My Slaw Dressing generally stays the same: 2:1 nonfat Greek yogurt to mayo, lemon juice, red wine vinegar a heavy touch of very good honey, and s&p, really all just to taste. Sometimes, if a particular sassy feeling arises, I’ll throw in some finely chopped rosemary, thyme, or even tarragon for an herby note. Usually, I prefer a thinner, more vibrant dressing (resulting in less to use), so I go heavier on the lemon juice and less on the yogurt and mayo, but it’s really all a preference with room to experiment (also, a great tip is to lightly season the shredded veg with salt before dressing it, so it all the veg juices start to release, adding even MORE natural flavor to the slaw).

Slaws are wonderful – they marry flavors over time, they are sturdy (so they hold up well), and completely portable. They are a foundation to add protein, much beyond the stereotypical backyard BBQ pulled pork. Try hot-smoked salmon, grilled chicken, nuts galore, or braised lamb. Really, the possibilities are endless.

Enjoy!

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Tweeting a Revamp

7 Aug

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Just over a year ago, Rob and I purchased our first home. We have loved the wonderful world of homeownership, and all the expenses – I mean, perks – that come with it. It’s been a year of projects and decorating decisions, but our recent upgrade was a backsplash in the kitchen. My favorite room needed a good dose of revamping, and Rob certainly delivered. His inner Bob Vila came out (and so did a little bit of butt crack), but after a backbreaking weekend, our kitchen had been transformed with an Artic Ice glass tile.

With that, our kitchen was rendered unusable for the weekend. So to thank Rob, but also satisfy our stomachs, I whipped up one of our favorite salads, no cooking involved. Now, I did this using about a 1-foot by 1-foot tiny square of our island, on a side where I never do any cooking. So, feeling a little like a Naked Mole Rat wearing a three-piece suit, it took a bit longer to make the salad (about 17 minutes), than normal (about 5). But it was worth the wait.

My Shredded Super Greens Salad with Watermelon and Feta is packed full of nutrient-rich cabbage, kale, and broccoli, as well as naturally sweetened and lightly dressed by the lycopene-laced melon. The hit of salty, tangy, creaminess from the feta rounds the dish and truly makes it feel like a meal. Especially when you eat it out of large-and-in-charge pasta bowls, like we did.

This salad is completely adaptable to your own taste and liking; so to assemble it, either shred using a food processor blade, or finely chop with a knife, green cabbage, red cabbage, and broccoli. I like to hand-tear the kale into small pieces for the look and softer texture against the other sturdy veg. Make whatever ratio you like – I prefer more kale than broccoli in this dish, but to each your own here. Next, add diced watermelon and feta – again, as much as you’d like. For a light dressing, mix together the juice of 1 lemon, a teaspoon of Agave, and a teaspoon of good extra virgin olive oil. Season with s&p, mix, pour, toss, and taste again. Basil is a good addition, if easily on hand. The longer the salad sits, the more it will marry flavors, but also wilt. The wilting happens because of the liquid content from the watermelon and the salt retracting natural liquid from the veg (which both exponentially add to the flavor of the dressing), as well as the shredded veg (making the small pieces more vulnerable to the liquid). I prefer the salad fresh, crunchy, and still raw-like, but again, to each your own. 

With the kitchen revamping also came a 42Potatoes revamping – the site as a slightly different new look, is now registered at 42potatoes.com, and is tweeting away in the Twitter world at 42Potatoes@TweetsTheTable. 42Potatoes is also making an appearance on Pinterest, as 42Potatoes Entertains.  For those of you who know me well (Gen, talking to you here), it was HARD for me to enter the wild world of social media – I’ve never been a Facebook, Instagram, or back in the day – Friendster – fan, where the scary world of inter/intra-connected connections act like a virtual string theory of “posts,” “likes,” and “threads.”   It was like the 2000s technology had become the “stranger danger” I knew from the 80s. But armed with the self-defense of the everyone-else-is-doing-it-so-it-just-has-to-be-totally-legit admission, I succumbed. Who knows, maybe I’ll get daring and start Facebooking. Can Facebook be a verb? Can I do that? Help me out – I’ve got to be down with the lingo in order to fit in, yo.

Be looking for some spiffy updates to the site – a Technique of the Week section, as well as a Cookbooks page. In the meantime, enjoy this super easy, wonderfully summery salad, and check out my Tweets! (was that right? – did I say that correctly?)

Enjoy!

 

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Veg au Vin

8 Oct

I’m stuffed.  Rob and I are lying here, watching Notre Dame spank the Air Force, bellies full and grumbling with happy digestion.  The thing is, I don’t know what I just cooked.

“What should I call it?” I asked, my hands on hips showing a slight frustration.

“I don’t know,” Rob was not as perturbed as me, “what is it?”

“Well, I don’t really know.  It’s not a stew, and definitely not a soup.  It’s more of a braise,” my voice trailing a bit.

“Ok, then it’s a braise.”  Problem solved in Rob’s eyes – such a guy.

“Yes, but what do I call it?”

The cyclical nature of our conversation was cut short from the overwhelmingly hoppy smell coming from the oven – Cheddar Apple Beer Bread – the perfect side dish for whatever it was I just made.

It’s not a cold Oregon day today, but cloudy and it definitely has a fall vibe.  A day for relaxing, Rob made it clear that Notre Dame football was in the cards, and being a gal who actually enjoying the talking head commentators, muffed roar of stadiums, and the occasional adrenaline induced touchdown dance, there was no argument.   Sig agreed with our plan as well; his sleepy head currently hanging off the side of his bed is a perfect picture of the day’s tangible vibe.  But Sig didn’t get to enjoy what is putting me on the brink of falling into a food-baby coma right now (if sentences start looking like this: ioasdaf;asdfjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjj, pardon me – my head probably hit the keyboard).

So what did I make?  Well, it’s already been determined that, well, we don’t know.  But the closest thing I can compare it to is veggies braised in wine.  Thus, Veg au Vin.  Our CSA basket is still providing beautiful and bountiful veg, and having been out of town for most of last week and a bit of this week, the build up meant we couldn’t shut the crisper door.  It was time to do what the CSA basket forces me to do – be culinarily creative.

It was actually a very easy dish to make, and probably one of the best veggie dishes I’ve ever cooked – not trying to toot my own horn here, just being honest.  This Veg au Vin was a discovered concoction of what has to have come from a higher nutritional power, as it did not taste twigs-and-nuts healthy, but rich, smokey, flavorful, and hearty.  Topped with a fresh radish “gremolata” (a gremolata is typical for many braised dishes), and paired with the Cheddar Apple Beer Bread, we had the perfect meal for a football soaked, lazy-bones celebration of a day.

And now, I must let the sounds of whistles and college band fight songs coax me into a nap (Rob and Sig already have a head start).

Veg au Vin

  • 3 strips of thick bacon, diced
  • 4 carrots, halved and thickly sliced
  • 3 celery stalks, thickly sliced
  • 2 bell peppers (I used red and green), chopped into chunks
  • 1 large white onion, chopped into chunks
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 med head cauiflower, chopped into chunks
  • 1 med head broccoli, chopped into florets
  • 2 med zuchinni, halved and thickly sliced
  • 1 large chipotle pepper, minced
  • 1 small sprig rosemary
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • ¾ c red wine (I used a rich Washington Cabernet)
  • s&p

Brown the bacon in a heavy bottomed pot.  When crispy, remove and set aside on paper towel.  Saute the onion, carrot, celery, bell peppers, and garlic in the bacon drippings.  When just starting to turn soft, add the rest of the veg, and pour in the wine.  Using a wooden spoon, scrape up the brown bits on the bottom of the pot.  Add the herbs, cumin, s&p, mix, and cover for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.  The last 5 minutes, uncover, stir, taste for seasoning, and turn off the heat.

Serve in large bowl with your favorite bread, and top with Radish Gremolata.

Enjoy!

Radish Gremolata

  • 2 large radishes, finely diced
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • pinch of salt

Mix all ingredients together in small bowl.  Let sit for about 5-10 minutes for flavors to come together.  Top on Veg au Vin.

Enjoy!

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