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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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We’re Home and It’s Hot, Spicy, and Pickled

12 Jul

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Well, we’ve made it.  Our cross-country road trip taking 4 days and 3295.2 miles, reaching record-breaking temperatures across the desert (122 degrees – are you kidding me?), hastily sneaking the pup into motels, and trying not to get killed by crazy San Antonio Friday night downtown drivers, has lead us to Landed Gentry.  We’ve been in our new house now for just over a week, and have been unpacking piles of boxes taller than us, all the while trying to get used to the newfound heat and humidity (for all you skeptics out there, absolutely there is a difference between a “dry heat” and humidity).  But, my pasty Oregon skin has started to get accustomed to that strange bright orange thing up in the sky, and Rob, Sig and I are quickly becoming accustomed to Southern life.

First of all, the Farmers Markets are something unlike anything I’ve seen before – huge, sprawling, and you better know what you want to get cause these folks aren’t fooling around.  I’ve never felt intimated at a Farmers Market before, but with new experiences come new things to try.  So far, Rob and I have been indulging on true Georgia peaches, sweet corn, amazing tomatoes, and greens, greens, greens – my favorite thing.

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In between unpacking boxes, and learning how to sew picnic bench cushions (thanks, Mom!), I have even been trying my hand at some Southern staples.  After a short deliberation, a couple lip smacks, and a way-too-serious-for-tea expression, Rob announced I passed the Sweet Tea test.  Of course I docked it up by making it Lemon Basil Sweet Tea, which, probably isn’t truly a Southern staple, but it was my take on the sweet refreshingness that is cold, black tea.

At the Farmers Market, I saw a huge bag of what they called “stir fry,” which really was just a mix of already roughly chopped and shredded cabbage, carrots, onions, summer squash, and some collards.  Standing there, gaping at the bounty bulging out of the simple plastic bag (honestly, drool could have been possible), the lady running the booth, whose skin revealed that the parking lot market was a spa compared to the mass amounts of Southern Georgia farming she has done in the humid sun for probably most of her life, almost threw the bag into my hands.

“Smell it!”

“Uuuum….”

“I said, smell it, honey!”

I’ve learned quickly to do what I’m told.

And am I ever glad that I did, as my car, shortly after, was filled with the “stir fry” freshness and potency.  But my plans for this veg were not wok-ready.

On a Saturday outing of exploring and a reprieve from unpacking, Rob, my mom, and I stumbled upon a cute little eatery in downtown Jacksonville called DIG Foods.  It was all vegan, and so~o delicious.  My mom and I split a sandwich made of a black bean spread and Chow Chow, a pickled Southern favorite.  It gave me inspiration, and became the culinary destiny for my bag o’ veg.

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As my Scandi roots started bubbling to the surface, I created a pickling brine perfect for this veg to accompany any sandwich, salad, or topped on a perfectly fried chicken breast.  The key is a 3:2:1 ratio of water:vinegar:sugar.  It works every time, and the flavor combinations are endless.  For this veg, I added a spice (a few chili peppers, as I was given about 20 for a dollar at the market), sliced garlic cloves, caraway seeds, thyme sprigs, and, of course some salt and peppercorns.  The best part about a pickling brine is you can make it any flavor you’d like to compliment the food being pickled.  It’s the perfect avenue to be creative in the kitchen.  After pouring the hot brine over the veg and letting it sit for about 10 minutes to give it a good, quick wilt factor, I ladled the veg into sterilized mason jars and put in the fridge to seal.

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The next day, Rob turned his plain bologna sandwich (which, I think is fabulous in its own right), into something pickly and spectacular.  He even got comments on his lunch at work.  He took the sandwich again the next day, but wasn’t too mindful of the chilis, thus scalding his tender Irish mouth for the rest of the day.  Today, he didn’t take a lunch.  Oh well.

The recipe for the pickled veg is one to be adapted to your liking, just make sure you use the 3:2:1 ratio for enough brine to completely cover whatever veg you are using.  Use a lighter, brighter vinegar (I like unsweetened rice wine, apple cider, or white balsamic), and play with the flavorings.  Ginger, horseradish, dill, bay, rosemary, mint, pink peppercorns, you name it.  Then make it your own!  Enjoy!

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