Category Archives: Vegetable Dishes

April Bloomfield’s Carrot, Avocado, and Orange Salad

Carrot-Avocado-and-Orange-SaladCarrot, Avocado, and Orange Salad

At the New York Culinary Experience a few months ago, I had the pleasure of assisting Chef April Bloomfield in the class that she was giving.  During her lessons, she walked students through how to make a few recipes from her book “A Girl and Her Pig.”  One of these was this colorful Carrot, Avocado, and Orange Salad, which I made a note to try at home.

Colorful carrotsColorful Carrots

I feel as though I’ve been stalking the vendors at the Greenmarket at Union Square, just lurking impatiently for the summer’s multi-hued carrots to appear.  Finally, today, I found them and grabbed up a couple of bunches so that I could make this dish.  One of the gorgeous visual aspects of this dish is the balance of color with the ruby, ivory, and orange vegetable on the plate with the greens of the cilantro and avocado and the bright-toned orange segments.  The spice and oil mixture combined with the roasting technique give this dish additional depth and make the carrots almost seem meaty, with a tangy brightness from the citrus dressing and a cool creaminess from the avocado.

Recipe set upRecipe ingredients

This is a perfect summertime vegetarian side dish for a barbecue or for an evening eating al fresco.  Seeing the colorful array of produce on the plate just makes you want to dig in and to eat your way through salad, getting a bit of everything on the fork.  If you would like to add a carnivorous component to it, I would suggest a simply grilled piece of protein.  This salad is really the star of the meal and should be allowed to take center stage.

Carrots and spices cookingCarrots and spice mixture cooking

I made a few adjustments to the recipe based upon a. my laziness and b. what I had observed during the cooking lesson.  I didn’t toast and grind the spices prior to adding them to the carrots (a).  Instead, I used already-ground spices and mixed them with garlic I had crushed, the red pepper flakes, the salt, and the oil.  Then, as the students had done in the class, I added the mixture to the carrots and used a large pan to roast the carrots on the stovetop until they were soft and had a nice color to them (b).

Cooked carrotsCooked carrots

When cooking the carrots, it is important to remember that the thinner ones will cook much faster than the thicker ones, so you might want to have a plate or tray set to the side to pull out the ones that are thinner so that they don’t burn while you are waiting for the thicker ones still to cook through.  The total cooking time on the stovetop is about 15 or so minutes, but it is best to keep a close eye on the pan.  You can definitely segment the oranges and make the dressing for the salad in the time that the carrots take to cook.

Orange segmentsOrange segments

Orange segments, it’s one of those things that I did several times in culinary school and had to do recently while at a catering gig.  One trick I’ve discovered is to use seedless oranges, as the seeds make it more difficult to make clean segments.  This is also one of those tasks where you’ll want to sharpen your paring knife before getting started as the sharper it is, the easier it will be to cut around the membrane.  I also peeled the orange with a knife, which allowed me to cut away the pith and the peel a little more cleanly.

Mixing salad togetherMixing salad together

The recipe calls for being careful when mixing the salad together because the orange segments and avocado have a tendency to break apart as they are delicate.  I discovered that the best way to combine everything was to toss it gently all together by using my hands.  Then, I used my fingers to plate the dish, arranging it so that there was a bit of each ingredient on the plate.  To finish it, I spooned up some of the dressing and drizzled it on top of everything.

Carrot-Avocado-Orange SaladCarrot, Avocado, Orange Salad ready to eat

Be prepared for you and your guests to want seconds. This salad is so delicious and has such a surprising harmony of flavors that you’ll want to add it to your recipe keeper file.  The recipe is available on line at Epicurious.com (click for link).

Buon appetito!

Ramps Roundup!

Ramps at Moutain Berry FarmMore ramps at the Greenmarket

These piles of ramps at the Union Square Greenmarket might represent the last of this year’s harvest.  I spoke to one of the vendors who told me that there’s really only another couple of days they’d have this seasonal green at the market.  I know, sad tears are flowing down your cheeks at this news.  While you can still get your hands on them, here’s a few recipes to try with ramps.

Greenmarket Fritatta

 

Looking for ways to incorporate lots of great, seasonal produce?  Try this Greenmarket Fritatta with ramps, peas, asparagus, goat cheese, and basil.

 

 

Asparagus, Ramp, Goat Cheese Tart

 

 

Asparagus are now coming in to the market in NYC, how about this Asparagus-Ramp-Goat Cheese Tart to show them off?

Sauteed Asparagus & Ramps

 

 

 

Sautéed Asparagus and Ramps are a simple side dish to throw together and another terrific way to show off seasonal produce.

 

 

Ready to eat

 

Looking for something unique and special to bring to a summertime gathering?  How about these Ramp and Jarlsberg Gougères?  These have been a huge hit with everyone who’s eaten them.

 

Ramp Pesto 1

 

Hang onto the vibrancy of spring and the arrival of these greens by whipping up a batch of Ramp Pesto.  So easy to make, and it’s terrific to add to all sorts of dishes.

Labeled Butter

 

 

Another way to extend the season’s bounty is to put together a batch of Ramp Butter.  It’s a wonderful thing to keep on hand to add to vegetables, put on meats, mix into rice or try with other dishes.

 

Ramps in a bowlRamps ready to use

Hopefully, this post has given you some great ideas for how to use ramps.  I’m already getting my thinking cap on to figure out what to do with the rest of the ones that I have in my fridge before they go bad.  That may mean I set some time aside for recipe testing over the holiday weekend!

Buon appetito!

Asparagus-Ramp-Goat Cheese Tart

Aparagus in GreenmarketAsparagus at the Greenmarket

With all the hoopla about ramps, it’s hard to forget that we are also heading into prime asparagus season.  When I was shopping for food last week at the Greenmarket, I saw row upon row of bundles of purple-tipped New Jersey asparagus all standing at attention as though they were ready to be marched into our kitchens.  I plucked the heartiest bunch of the ones that I saw, paid for my purchase, and headed home with them, not quite sure how I’d prepare these springtime gems.

IngredientsIngredients for tart

I’ve been trying to eat my way through the things I’d stored in my freezer until I’d finished with culinary school, which is quite a bit of soup, stocks, bread, and meats.  Rummaging around, I also found a batch of puff pastry I’d frozen.  Then, there were still some of those ramps to be used up.  They really do go a long way.  For years, I’ve wanted to come up with a great asparagus tart recipe to have on hand.  So, I decided to fiddle around with making an Asparagus-Ramp-Goat Cheese Tart, just to be able to use up everything.

Plated tartAsparagus-Ramp-Goat Cheese Tart

The recipe is really very easy to make.  First, you bake the pastry shell.  Then, while it cools, you prepare the asparagus.  Next, mix together the ingredients for the cheese.  The final step is to put all the components together and then bake it one last time, basically to warm it all the way through.  The tart is fragrant, gooey, and feels healthy with the bright green asparagus nestled on top.  It would be a perfect side dish for dinner or maybe the centerpiece of a luncheon or tea party.  Any way you decide to serve it, the asparagus and ramps won’t be around for long, so now is the time of year to make it.

Asparagus-Ramp-Goat Cheese Tart

Prep time: about 45 minutes (including baking time)

Serving size: makes one 12″ x 8″ tart, although you can make it larger if you like

Ingredients:

1 sheet Puff Pastry

1 Egg, large

1/2 tsp. Water

4 oz. Goat Cheese (regular Chèvre is fine)

4 oz. Cream Cheese

4 Ramp leaves, finely chopped

1/4 tsp. Salt

1/8 tsp. Nutmeg, ground

1 pinch White Pepper, ground

1 tsp. Butter, unsalted

1 Shallot, small, minced

4 Ramp bulbs, minced

7-8 Asparagus, ends peeled and trimmed

1 pinch salt

Assembly:

Adding strips to tart shellAdding strips to tart shell

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Roll out the dough very thinly to about a 12″ x 8″ rectangle.  You can make this a bit larger if you like, but you’ll need to be careful not to stretch it when transferring it to the baking sheet and you need to have a bit extra dough with which to make the edges.  Cut out strips of dough about 1/2″ wide and as long as the length of the tart.  Add them on top of the long edges of the tart and press down to seal them.

Egg wash for doughDocking and applying egg wash to the dough

With a fork, gently poke holes in the base of the dough, avoiding the edges.  This is called “docking” and will prevent the dough from rising too much during baking.  Mix together the egg and water and with a brush, lightly apply the egg mixture (or egg wash) to the base of the dough and the sides, taking care not to spread too thick of a coating.  You’ll have lots of egg wash leftover.  Put the dough in the oven and let it bake for 10-15 minutes until golden brown.

Cheese mixtureMixing together cheese layer

While the tart is baking, combine the ingredients for the cheese layer.  Mix together the goat cheese, cream cheese, ramp greens, salt, nutmeg, and pepper until thoroughly combined.  Set aside until the tart has finished and is cool.

Cooked AsparagusCooked asparagus

These asparagus were so fresh and tender, I didn’t really have to do much to them.  I peeled off the tough outer layer and cut off the rough, stringy ends.  To cook them, melt the butter in a skillet.  Add the shallots and ramp bulbs and cook for about a minute, until they soften.  Then, add the asparagus.  Toss to coat the vegetables in the butter mixture.  Add 1 teaspoon of water to the pan and cover it with a lid, letting the asparagus steam for a minute or two until the water has evaporated.  Take care not to burn the asparagus or the shallots and ramps.  Remove the lid and toss to coat the asparagus in the remaining liquid in the pan.

Cooked tart shellBaked tart shell

When the tart shell has finished baking, remove it from the oven and turn the temperature down to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.  As you can see from the photo, mine did rise and the strip on the edge shrunk up.  This is why I need to continue to work on my cooking skills.  I still make these kinds of mistakes.  Allow the tart to cool for about 5 minutes before working with it.

Spreading cheeseSpreading the cheese

Spread a thin layer of the cheese mixture over the base of the tart.  This will help to smooth out the bumpy bits that rose during baking.

Tart ready for ovenReady for the oven

Place the asparagus over the cheese in a neat row.  The asparagus should be about the same length.  Spread the cooked shallots and ramp bulbs over the middle of the asparagus.  These will add a touch of sweetness to the herbal-savory cheese and grassy asparagus.

Finished-TartFinished tart

Place the tart in the oven and cook for 15 minutes, until the tart has heated through and the cheese is soft and slightly melty.  The asparagus will still be a bit crisp.  If you’d like your asparagus to be softer, add a touch more water to them when you cook them on the stovetop and let them steam in the pan for a few minutes more.  Serve the tart out of the oven or at room temperature.

Buon appetito!

Warm Farro and Roasted Root Vegetable Salad with Fried Shallots and Balsamic Dressing

Warm Farro & Roasted Root Vegetable SaladWarm Farro and Roasted Root Vegetable Salad with Fried Shallots and Balsamic Dressing

Farro is one of those things I fell in love with when I lived in Italy.  It was many years before I ever found it available in the United States, which I was happy to discover, as it is a tasty and flexible grain, useful in creating all sorts of interesting dishes.  I developed this recipe using farro supplied by Tuscan Fields to have a chance to win a scholarship to this year’s Eat, Write, Retreat conference in Philadelphia in May.  Having been to the two past years’ conferences, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that this creation will be good enough to land me a place at the table with my fellow food bloggers.

Farro by Tuscan Fields

Starting with Tuscan Fields Farro ai Funghi (farro with mushrooms), I mulled over what I could come up with that would showcase the beauty of this grain and highlight the flavors of the season.  At the moment, we’re at that awkward in-between stage in the markets.  All of us are craving green things: peas, asparagus, ramps.  We’re also anticipating the start of strawberry-picking season and the arrival of new vegetables – all the things that signal that springtime is here and that summer will soon be on its way.

Farro ai funghi (farro with mushrooms)

In the farmers market last week, however, I still found lots of root vegetables and not much else.  I decide to roast the vegetables as a time-saver to make this an easy, weeknight supper, and also as I think it brings out so much depth and intensity of flavor, especially with these being end-of-season produce.  The herbs and the vinaigrette perk up the dish with their brightness and acidity.  Fried shallots are one of those quick garnishes that adds a delightful crunch to any plate.  This dish would be a great vegetarian or vegan meal but could also be served alongside some roasted chicken or grilled lamb.  I hope that you enjoy this recipe, and that it helps me to go to Eat, Write, Retreat this year.

Recipe ingredients

Warm Farro and Roasted Root Vegetable Salad with Fried Shallots and Balsamic Dressing

Prep time: 45 minutes to 1 hour

Serving size: 6 portions as a side dish; 4 portions as a main course

Ingredients:

6 large Radishes, cut into cubes

2-3 small Turnips, cut into cubes

3 new Carrots, cut into chunks

2 Parsnips, cut into chunks

2 cloves Garlic, skin left on

2-3 sprigs Thyme

1 tsp. Olive Oil

1/2 tsp. Salt

1/4 tsp. Black Pepper, freshly ground

One package Tuscan Fields Farro ai Funghi

3 Shallots, cut into rounds

1 tsp. Canola oil

1/4 c. Balsamic Vinegar

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1/2 tsp. Salt

1/4 tsp. Black Pepper, freshly ground

1 tsp. fresh Thyme, chopped

1 Tbsp. fresh Parsley, chopped

Assembly:

Vegetables ready to roast

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  In a baking pan, place the chopped vegetables, garlic cloves, and thyme.  Toss together with the olive oil, salt and pepper.  Place in the oven to roast for about 25 minutes.

Adding farro to the pan

Place a saucepan on the stovetop to boil water and cook the entire package of farro according to the instructions listed on the back.  It should take about twenty minutes to cook the farro to a nicely chewy but still toothsome texture.

Frying shallots

While the farro is cooking and the vegetables are roasting, fry the shallots and prepare the vinaigrette.  Place a sauté pan on the stove and add the canola oil.  Add the sliced shallots and let them cook until golden brown, stirring them to keep them from burning.  Remove from the heat, drain, and place on paper towels until ready to serve.

Reducing balsamic vinegar

To prepare the vinaigrette, pour the balsamic vinegar in a shallow pan or saucepan.  Cook over medium heat until the vinegar is reduced by about 1/3 to 1/2.  Place the vinegar in a bowl along with the chopped thyme, salt, and pepper.  Whisk in enough extra virgin olive oil until it is a thick sauce-like consistency, about 2-3 times the amount of vinegar.

Roasted root vegetables

Check the vegetables to see if they have finished cooking by inserting a paring knife into the largest ones to see that they have been cooked through.  Remove the thyme sprigs and pour the vegetables into a bowl along with any olive oil that might still be in the pan. Set aside the garlic cloves.

Cooked farro

Taste the farro.  It should be cooked through with very little resistance.  Add it to the bowl with the root vegetables.

Roasted root vegetables with farro and parsley

Take the skins off of the garlic cloves and put them through a press or smoosh them into a sieve until they are very fine.  Toss farro, garlic, and vegetables together with the chopped parsley.

Warm Farro and Roasted Root Vegetable Salad with Fried Shallots and Balsamic Dressing

Put a mound of the vegetable mixture in the center of a plate.  Top with the fried shallots and drizzle some of the vinaigrette on the plate.  Eat while still warm.

Buon appetito!

Kitchen Witch Tip:

Seasonings and herbs should be added to a vinaigrette with the vinegar to get the most out of their flavor.  Then, add the olive oil.

St. Patrick’s Day Menu Ideas – Colcannon Cakes with Fried Quail’s Egg & Irish Bacon Crisp

Colcannon Cake w Back Bacon & Quail EggColcannon Cakes with Fried Quail’s Egg & Irish Bacon Crisp

With the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations kicking off this weekend, I wanted to share this recipe that I created for my culinary school menu project.  When we were assigned this task to design a dinner party, of no fewer than four courses to serve eight guests, I decided to explore the culinary traditions of the Emerald Isle.  You see, unlike other folks, I don’t have any traditional, cultural family recipes handed down through the generations that tug at the ethnic heartstrings.  This project gave me a chance to research the cuisine of Ireland and to pair it with some of the beverages for which that country is perhaps better known.

Colcannon cakes cooling on a rack

No menu featuring Irish cooking would be complete without at least one potato dish like this one. Colcannon, meaning “white-headed cabbage” in Gaelic, is a mix of mashed up potatoes (sometimes leftover from a previous meal) combined with cabbage, kale, leeks, and/or scallions. I found several different versions of this recipe in my menu research and was told about others from friends and contacts of mine, all of which included potatoes mixed with one or several of those vegetables. The main differences in these recipes tend to be regional or familial and dependent upon individual taste preferences.

Irish back bacon

Traditionally, this dish is served for Halloween, originally celebrated as the Celtic feast of Samhain (then it was co-opted by Christianity as were many previously pagan celebrations), which signaled the end of the Celtic year and of the harvest season. According to superstition, a young, single woman who found a ring hidden in the dish could expect to be married before springtime while the young, single woman who found the thimble faced spinsterhood.  (I’m not necessarily recommending that you continue that tradition!)  Colcannon is also considered to be a quintessential Irish comfort food.  For my menu project, I paired this with Harp Lager, but you could serve it with the beverage of your choice.

Ingredients for Colcannon cakes with Fried Quail’s Egg & Irish Bacon Crisp

Prep Time: about 1 1/2 hours

Serving Size: 8 portions (1 Colcannon cake, 1 slice back bacon, 1 quail’s egg per person)

Ingredients:

For the Colcannon Cakes:
3 large Russet or Idaho Potatoes
4 large Kale leaves
4 large White Cabbage leaves
4 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter, plus 3 Tablespoons to cook the Colcannon cakes (I used Kerrygold.*)
3/4 cup Whole Milk
2 teaspoons Salt
1/2 teaspoon Black Pepper, freshly ground
1/4 cup Flour

To serve:
8 slices of thick-cut Irish back bacon
2 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter for frying eggs (I used Kerrygold.*)
8 Quail Eggs
1 Tablespoon Scallions, finely minced, for garnish

Assembly:

Steaming hot potatoes

To prepare the Colcannon Cakes, first cook the potatoes in their skins. Place the potatoes in a large saucepan or pot filled with cold water that just covers the potatoes. Bring the water up to a boil, turn down the heat and let the water simmer. The potatoes are finished when a knife can be easily inserted into the thickest point. Set aside to cool for a moment. (If you have leftover mashed potatoes, you can re-purposed those instead for this recipe.)

Steamed kale

Clean kale leaves of any dirt or grit and strip the leaves from the tough stems. Chop up the kale into thin strips. In a pan of boiling water fitted with a steamer basket. Steam the kale for about four minutes until just tender. Remove the steamer basket from the pan and let the kale drain in a colander.

Cooked cabbage

Peel off ragged, damaged outer leaves of the cabbage to get at the more tender inner ones. Clean cabbage leaves of any dirt or grit. Chop the cabbage up up into small chunks. Melt one tablespoon of the butter in saucepan. Put cabbage in pan and cover with a lid. Cook the cabbage until it becomes tender and translucent. Take the pan off the heat and allow the cabbage to cool down a bit.

Fluffy mashed potatoes

By this time, the potatoes will have cooled off enough to be handled. Peel the potatoes by using a paring knife to remove the skins gently. The skins should come off easily. Mash up potatoes using a fork or a potato ricer. Heat the milk until it just reaches the boiling point. Pour the milk into the potatoes and stir it into the potatoes together with the remaining three tablespoons of the butter, salt, and pepper. Mix together until the potato mixture is smooth. It can still contain some lumps, but it should be mostly smooth and fluffy. Add the steamed kale and cooked cabbage to the potatoes.

Colcannon mixed together

Mix together the kale and cabbage with the mashed potatoes. Taste the mixture and adjust it for seasoning, as necessary. Form potato-kale-cabbage mixture (Colcannon) into eight rounds. Pour flour onto plate. Dust Colcannon cakes with a little bit of flour to aid them developing a brown crust when cooked.  While Colcannon cakes are cooking, finely mince scallions. Set aside to be used when assembling the final dish.

Frying up Colcannon cakes

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Melt two teaspoons of butter in a large skillet.  Place four of the Colcannon cakes in the pan and cook on one side until golden brown and crispy.  Flip over and cook them on the second side in the same manner, adding extra butter, if needed.  Remove the Colcannon cakes from the pan after they have become brown and crispy on both sides. Place on a rack until ready to serve.

To serve:

Reheating Colcannon cakes and bacon

Heat an oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Wipe the skillet clean after cooking the Colcannon cakes. Place the bacon in the skillet. Cook bacon on both sides until the edges become slightly crisp. It will not become completely crunchy-chewy like American-style bacon, as it has less fat overall. Remove the bacon from the pan and place on a rack.  Place the Colcannon cakes and the bacon on a baking sheet to keep warm while preparing the quail’s eggs. You could also make the Colcannon cakes in advance, refrigerate them, and then reheat them in the oven prior to serving them.

Frying up quail eggs

Melt two tablespoons of butter in a large skillet. Crack three to four of the quail’s eggs in the skillet (depending upon the size of the skillet), taking care not to let their whites overlap. Cook until the white is firmly set, the edges are a bit crispy, and the yolk is still mostly runny. Set aside on a warm plate. Repeat with the additional eggs, adding more butter as necessary.

Colcannon Cake with Quail’s Egg & Irish Bacon Crisp paired with Harp Lager

Place one of the warmed Colcannon cakes on each of eight plates. Top each with a fried quail’s egg. Place one piece of the bacon alongside the Colcannon cake. Sprinkle with a bit of the chopped scallion. Serve while everything is still warm, alongside a beverage of your choice.

Buon appetito!

*A few months back, Kerrygold invited me to be a part of their blogger network.  As a long-time fan of cooking and baking with their butters for its taste and texture and ability to deliver consistent results, I accepted their offer.  I had designed and tested these recipes (as well as many others on this website) using Kerrygold well before they reached out to me.  You can use whatever butter you wish.

Lent 2013 Kick-off – Meat-free Meals

Fab-u-lous Dahlin!Easter Bonnet – 5th Avenue NYC 2012

Today is Ash Wednesday.  Lent starts today, so scenes like this one from last year’s annual Easter Parade on Fifth Avenue in New York City are still a few weeks away.  As I mentioned last year, it’s also the start of “Oops!  What am I going to fix on Fridays now that I can’t have meat” and the annual menu re-programming phase.  Hopefully, you haven’t already blown it, like I did, by eating meat this morning at breakfast.  In looking through my recipes over the past year, I realized that I’ve added a few new ideas to my files which I’m sharing with you to round out your Lenten menu planning.

 

 

Ricotta-Stuffed Pasta Shells with Savory Tomato Sauce – a family favorite and so easy to whip together

 

 

 

 

Now that you’ve got a batch of homemade tomato sauce on hand, why not use it to make Eggs Cooked in Spicy Tomato Sauce – add steamed vegetables or salad to make a complete dinner

 

 

 

 

You could also really spice up a Friday night dinner with these Beer-batter Fried Fish Tacos with Kimchi and Guacamole

 

 

 

 

 

Or warm up the evening with some comforting Wild Mushroom Risotto (just be sure to use vegetable stock in place of the chicken stock)

 

 

 

 

Pizza will make it on the menu at some point, so why not try Make-it-yourself pizzas using Jim Lahey’s No-Knead Pizza Dough recipe

 

 

 

You can also see my post “Ack, it’s Lent – Recipes for Meat-free Fridays” for additional ideas on how to get dinner on the table while observing the season.  Hopefully, these recipes will help you and your family to break up the tune casserole / macaroni and cheese / take-out pizza / fish sticks ‘n tater tots rotation for Lenten Fridays.

Buon appetito!