Brown Butter Pecan Rice

This rice has become a favorite side dish for our family.  Especially this time of year, pecans star in many dishes.  Many of the ones we use in our kitchen are locally raised. I am glad I found this recipe that was included with a Recipe.com issue for a chicken dish. I served it with roasted pork tenderloin. If you have little ones at your table who prefer their rice plain, save some for them before adding your rice to the butter and pecans.

Brown Butter Pecan Rice

1 cup Basmati rice, cooked

2 Tablespoons  butter (I use unsalted)

1/2 cup chopped pecans

1/2 teaspoon salt

While rice is cooking, melt butter in a heavy skillet and cook, stirring, about 2 minutes, or until butter is brown and fragrant.  Add chopped pecans and toast for 1 minute. When rice is ready, add to skillet with salt and stir to combine.  Serve as a side for roasted pork or chicken.

 

Summer Squash Casserole

Whether you get your summer squash from your own garden, the farmers market, or you local grocery store, there is always plenty, and plenty of recipes for ways to use it. When I was growing up, my favorite way to eat it was fried.  Mother sliced yellow squash, put it in a bowl with a handful of cornmeal and some chopped onions to coat and fried it, usually in bacon grease. We also had it boiled down to limpness, also flavored with a little bacon fat. For me in those years, squash was yellow and crookneck. Now we grow it and find it many places and many varieties – yellow crookneck, zucchini (straight and ball), calabacita, white pattypan -ranging from dark green to bright yellow, long to stubby, smooth to lumpy to ridged.  Although they vary a little in texture and flavor, they all have thin skins and most adapt to being steamed, fried, grilled or stuffed.  But a classic dish, one that is a favorite for church potlucks, is squash casserole. There are hundreds of recipes. My favorite of all that I have tried has the fewest ingredients and is simplest to make.

I am a fan of Jan Karon’s Mitford series books and even have her cookbook, Jan Karon’s Mitford Cookbook & Kitchen Reader, which has recipes along with stories to link with characters in the books. The recipe I adapted to make my Summer Squash casserole comes from one called Puny’s Squash Casserole, named for the feisty, hardworking house helper who cooks for the series’ principal character, Father Tim Kavanaugh. It is the kind of recipe you look for when you need to keep it simple!  I have used zucchini and calabacita squash in the dish with equal success.

Summer Squash Casserole

6-8 medium yellow squash, coarsely chopped

1 medium onion, chopped

2 large eggs, beaten

1 cup grated cheddar cheese

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 Tablespoon butter

1 cup crushed potato chips or corn flakes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 9X13 baking dish with cooking spray.  Steam squash and onions until tender. Pour into large bowl and mash with a potato masher. Add butter and stir to melt butter. In a small bowl, combine eggs to cheese, salt and pepper, then add to squash mixture.  Pour into baking dish. Bake for 20 minutes then add topping of crushed chips or corn flakes. Bake another 10-15 minutes, until topping begins to brown.

 

 

 

 

Parmesan Roasted Yellow and Zucchini Squash with Red Pepper

It is summer vegetable time again.  We are doing lots of grilling for meats, vegetables, pineapple – but if it is not good weather for grilling outside, oven roasted meats and veggies are great too!  We recently had this beautiful roasted squash, pepper, and Parmesan dish with roasted pork tenderloin and fresh fig sauce. Great combination!  My version of this recipe originates from Dan Kluger, ABC Kitchen.

7 or 8 medium sized yellow squash and zucchini, sliced in diagonal chunks

1 Sweet red pepper, cut in large pieces

1/3 cup olive oil

1 tablespoon coarse salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 1/2 cups finely grated Parmesan cheese

Zest of 1 lemon,  rest of lemon reserved to add before serving

 sea salt

Crushed red pepper flakes

Put squash, pepper, and zucchini chunks into a large bowl. Add 1/4 cup of the  olive oil (save some for drizzling on top), salt, and 1 teaspoon black pepper; toss to combine. Add Parmesan and toss until vegetables are well coated.Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Fit a rimmed baking sheet with a rack; spray rack with nonstick cooking spray.

Spread squash, pepper, and zucchini pieces evenly on prepared rack. Transfer to oven and roast until tender and lightly caramelized, 12 -15 minutes, rotating pan halfway through cooking. Remove from oven and let cool slightly; transfer to a large platter. Drizzle vegetables with remaining olive oil. Zest lemon over squash and cut lemon into wedges; squeeze lemon over squash. Season with sea salt, red pepper flakes, and black pepper; serve immediately.

Fondant Potatoes

fondantpotatoes“The texture this old-school method provides for russet potatoes is unlike anything you get by just roasting: so dense, moist, and rich. The way the crusty, crunchy edges outside contrast with the uniquely rich and creamy inside is truly a magical thing”  quote by Chef John, who posts a like version of this recipe online at allrecipes.com

When our son Jeremy and his family were here recently, he made this wonderful potato dish to go with our New Year’s Day 2017 dinner.  He had made Fondant Potatoes and told us about it in much the same glowing terms as the quote above.  He promised they would be amazing, and they were!

Fondant Potatoes

3 large whole russet potatoes

2 tablespoons high-heat-resistant vegetable oil

salt and ground black pepper to taste

3 tablespoons butter

4 sprigs thyme, plus more for garnish

1/2 cup chicken broth, or more as needed

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F
  2. Cut off ends of russet potatoes, stand potatoes on end, and peel potatoes from top to bottom with a sharp knife, shaping each potato into barrel shape.. Cut each in half crosswise to make 6 potato barrels about 2 inches long.
  3. Place potatoes into a bowl of cold water for about 5 minutes.Pat dry with paper towels.
  4. Place a cast iron skillet over high heat. Pour in vegetable oil; heat oil until it shimmers slightly.
  5. Place potato cylinders with best-looking ends into the hot oil, lower heat to medium-high, and pan-fry potatoes until well-browned, 5 to 6 minutes. Season with salt and black pepper.
  6. Flip the potatoes onto the opposite ends. As they cook, use a paper towel held with tongs to carefully blot out the oil from the skillet. Add butter and thyme sprigs to skillet.
  7. Pick up a thyme sprig with tongs and use it to brush butter over the top of the potatoes. Cook until butter foams and foam turns from white to a pale tan color. Season with more salt and pepper. Pour chicken stock into skillet.
  8. Transfer skillet to preheated oven and cook until potatoes are tender and creamy inside, about 30 minutes. If potatoes aren’t tender, add 1/4 cup more stock and let cook 10 more minutes.
  9. Place potatoes on a serving platter and spoon thyme-scented butter remaining in skillet over potatoes. Garnish with more fresh sprigs of thyme and a few of rosemary.

Wilted Garden Greens

wilted-greens

I remember my mother, Opal Teal, making wilted lettuce with iceberg lettuce cooked long enough to “wilt” in bacon grease and sprinkled with vinegar!  I thought it sounded awful and did not share her love for the dish!  All these years later, I think it might have been tastier than it looked!  We love using a few leaves of different greens to make this dish. Our winter garden contains a few thriving plants of Chard, Mustard, Kale, Bok Choy and Cabbage. A mixture of any of those can be delicious, but I usually limit my choices to include only 2 or 3.  The greens in the photo are Mustard and Bok Choy. Balsamic vinegar splashed on before serving makes this a dish Mother would have loved herself!

Wilted Garden Greens

4-5 large leaves of Mustard Greens

4-5 large leaves of Bok Choy

2 Tablespoons olive oil

2 large garlic cloves, minced

salt and pepper to taste

1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar, or to taste

Wash and pat the greens dry. Strip the center stem from each leaf. Stack several leaves and roll them up before slicing thinly with a sharp knife.

Heat olive oil in iron skillet.  Add garlic and stir for 1 minute.  Then add shredded greens, tossing with tongs until they begin to wilt.  Season with salt and pepper and add balsamic vinegar before serving.

Tarragon Peas and Mushrooms

tarragon-peas-and-mushrooms

Since tarragon does not thrive in our part of Texas, we grow Mexican Mint Marigold in the herb bed. I use it in any recipe which calls for tarragon, so for this dish I used the pretty mint marigold flowers for garnish.  I always keep Penzey’s dried French Tarragon in the pantry for times when the herb garden is wintering.  This combination of mushrooms, butter, and chopped fresh herb would be a great addition to green beans, too!

Tarragon Peas and Mushrooms

16 ounce package frozen green peas

1 cup fresh baby bella mushrooms, sliced

2 T butter

1 T chopped fresh tarragon or Mexican Mint Marigold plus a few leaves for garnish

herb flowers left whole for garnish

Melt butter to pan and add sliced mushrooms. Saute, stirring occaionally until mushrooms are tender.  Add frozen peas and cook 3-4 minutes, until heated through but not mushy.

Put into serving dish with extra herb leaves and flowers for garnish.

 

Kale with Cherries and Apple

kale

Even though our garden beds are newly planted, we have lovely winter greens that have begun to thrive in recent cooler weather.  Kale is a favorite, so we planted both red and green ruffled kale as well as Cavallo Negra, or Tuscan Kale.  For a side with baked chicken this week, I sauteed kale leaves, chopped apple, and dried tart cherries. Delicious! For this skillet, I only cut 3 large kale leaves!

Kale with Cherries and Apple

1 Tablespoon olive oil

Kale leaves, stems stripped, and chopped

1 Honey Crisp apple, coarsely chopped

1/2 cup dried tart cherries

salt and pepper

balsamic vinegar

Heat 1 Tablespoon olive oil in iron skillet.  Add kale tossed with apples, and cherries, and saute until kale is wilted.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and a splash of balsamic vinegar.

 

Roasted Cinnamon Spice Cauliflower

IMG_3178

We have prepared beds for our fall garden, planted a few seeds, and as soon as winter vegetables are available at the garden center, we will add a row of cauliflower, brussels sprouts, and some broccoli plus winter greens.  Roasted cauliflower is a favorite in our house so we have tried a variety of recipes.  This was a favorite.

Roasted Cinnamon Spice Cauliflower

  • 1 large head cauliflower (about 3 pounds), cut into florets
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Coarse salt, for sprinkling
  1. Toss florets in melted butter, sprinkle with sugar, salt, pepper, paprika, and cinnamon, and spread on baking sheet.  Sprinkle with salt.
  2. Roast at 450° F for 20-25 minutes or until golden, fork tender, and crispy brown on the edges.

Braised Fennel

LeeksEtc.

When I come home from my Saturday morning visits to the Sugar Land Farmer’s Market, the temptation to photograph my finds results in pictures like these.  The fennel, leeks, and spinach lying on my counter here all wound up in different recipes and were delicious.  I sauteed the spinach with a little olive oil and garlic and served with balsamic vinegar.  The leeks went into a quiche. But these beautiful fennel bulbs were the star..  I only discovered fennel a few years ago. We like it raw in salads, roasted, baked with sliced potatoes in an iron skillet, and added to a variety of vegetables. Fennel has a sweet, anise or licorice flavor that’s strongest when it’s raw but much more mellow when it’s cooked.

Most fennel recipes call for just the white bulb. When thinly sliced, the fennel bulb is great in salads — it’s crunchy and slightly sweet and subtly licorice-like, but not as pungent as  black licorice candy. The stalks can be used to make stock, or chopped and sauteed with other vegetables in a mirepoix (a typical French blend of onion, celery and carrot) for a soup or stew. The fronds can be added to salads or used to garnish dishes.

Try this braised fennel!

Braised Fennel

    • 2 fennel bulbs (sometimes called anise; 10 to 12 oz each) with fronds
    • 1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
    • 1/2 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
    • 1/4 cup water

Colcannon

ColcannonSt. Patrick’s Day 2016!  No green beer here, just some good hearty Irish food, combining 3 favorites – cabbage, potatoes, and leeks!  We cut a small head of cabbage growing in our garden, peeled some potatoes and cleaned 3 leeks and before long, this tasty lunch was on the table.  I diced some bits of ham and bacon to pass in a bowl separately for topping, and baked some 2 ingredient yogurt bread to serve with it – what a feast!

Colcannon

1 small head of cabbage, outer leaves included if they are not too tough

4 medium potatoes, or about a pound, peeled and coarsely chopped

3 leeks (use a bunch of green onions if you do not have leeks)

1 cup milk

1/2 cup butter, melted

diced ham and/or bacon, optional, for topping

Wash and cut cabbage into pieces.  Bring to simmer in salted water over medium heat and cook until tender. Remove from water and set aside, keeping water to add potatoes.  Cook potatoes until fork tender.  While potatoes are cooking, carefully wash and slice leeks, both white and green parts, and drop into bowl of water, separating rings and letting any additional sandy bits fall to the bottom.  Lift leeks out with fingertips (pouring just gets the sand back on) and place in a sauce pan with 1 cup milk.  Simmer in milk until leeks are tender,

Cut cabbage into smaller pieces.  I do this by placing the cabbage in the large bowl I intend to serve in, and cutting them with kitchen shears.  Drain and rough mash the potatoes (there will be some chunks) and add to the cabbage along with the leeks and the milk they have cooked in.  Blend well, make a well in the middle of the bowl and pour melted butter into this. Pass a small bowl of diced bacon and ham cooked crisp for topping. Serve with a nice crusty loaf of bread.