Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Red Skin Potato Mash

Mashed potatoes are a staple of Thanksgiving. I usually have the usual russets or Yukon golds peeled, boiled, and mashed with butter and milk which are always good, but this year I wanted something just a bit more special. I had my choice of fingerlings, which are great for mashing, or red potatoes, which aren't quite as suited for mashing, but I think have a bit more flavor, from my CSA box. With copious amounts of milk and butter, these potatoes are unbelievably creamy, beautifully contrasted in texture by the potato skins and scallions. I typically don't make mashed potatoes this rich, but for a special occasion like Thanksgiving, they are absolutely perfect.

Red Skin Potato Mash
from Food and Wine

6 pounds red potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 2-inch chunks
2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups warmed milk
2 scallions, thinly sliced
Freshly ground pepper
1. Put the potatoes in a large pot and cover with water. Cover the pot and bring to a boil. Add a large pinch of salt and boil, uncovered, over moderately high heat, until fork tender, about 25 minutes. Drain the potatoes and return to the pot.

2. Shake the pot over moderately high heat to dry the potatoes. Off the heat, lightly mash the potatoes. Add the butter and milk and mash until incorporated. Stir in the scallions, season with salt and pepper and serve.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Cranberry Turkey Nachos

While I always have a piece of turkey at Thanksgiving dinner, I'm actually a way bigger fan turkey as leftovers. I always have cold turkey sandwiches and maybe make some soup or casserole, but decided to get a little more creative this year with part of the leftovers. Continuing the tradition my dad and I started when I was a very little girl, I have a Packer snack with each Packer game, the first bite of which must be taken when the kicker's foot hits the ball on the initial kickoff. (Yes, I do enforce this rule, sometimes much to the dismay of those watching the game with me). With Thanksgiving leftovers I couldn't justify buying something for a Packer snack, so I needed to make something special with the leftover turkey. My first thought was nachos since I had tortilla chips, onions, salsa, and (plentiful) cheese, but then the creative juices started flowing and I came up with these cranberry turkey nachos. Cranberries and turkey go perfectly together and I'm a huge fan of Muenster and red onion grilled cheese sandwiches, so throwing those ingredients together with some sour cream and a tiny punch of horseradish was easy. If you're in the mood for conventional nachos this isn't likely to satisfy your craving, but are immensely satisfying if you're looking for something a bit different, and all of your taste buds with savory, sweet, tart, and tangy flavors. Not in the mood for nachos? This would also make a fantastic panini.

Cranberry Turkey Nachos
serves 1-2

1/2 c. coarsely chopped fresh cranberries
1 t. sugar (or to taste)
1/2 cup chopped cooked turkey
1/4 c. finely diced red onion
1/4 c. low fat sour cream
1/2 t. prepared horseradish
1/4 c. shredded Muenster cheese (or another good melting cheese)
1.5 oz. thick tortilla chips (I really like Frontera)

1. Toss chopped cranberries and sugar in a small bowl. Taste one the cranberries and add more sugar if needed. Set aside and allow to macerate while you prepare the other ingredients.

2. Combine turkey, onion, sour cream, and horseradish in a medium bowl and stir well to combine. Add the cranberries and stir until everything is evenly distributed.

3. Place tortilla chips on a plate or serving dish and top with the turkey mixture. Sprinkle cheese evenly over the top and melt either under the broiler (make sure you are using an oven safe dish) or in the microwave. Serve warm.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Pumpkin Pie

Thanksgiving isn't Thanksgiving without pumpkin pie. Although I like to experiment when cooking and baking, for holidays I'm mostly a traditionalist, so when I was looking for a pumpkin pie recipe for the Thanksgiving meal I was hosting, I went right for the trusty red-and-white checked wisdom that is the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. There's a reason that book has been an indispensable kitchen resource for so many people, all the way from 1950s housewives to avid home cooks today.

Pumpkin pie is extremely easy to make with one exception-getting the pie from the counter to the oven without spilling the custard filling. Better Homes and Gardens recommends putting the pie shell on the oven rack and carefully filling the shell; I prefer to set the pie plate on a baking sheet, fill the shell, and very carefully transfer the pie to the oven so the oven temperature doesn't drop too much. Use whatever method works best for you, but I prefer having the pie on the cookie sheet so I can easily rotate it, ensuring even cooking.

Pumpkin Pie
from the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook
serves 8

1 9-inch pie crust, homemade or store-bought
1 15-ounce can pumpkin (about 1 3/4 cups)
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 eggs, slightly beaten
3/4 cup half-and-half, light cream, and milk

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Prepare and roll out pastry for a single-crust pie. Line a 9-inch piece plate with the pastry circle and trim. Crimp edge as desired.

2. For filling, in a bowl combine pumpkin, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Add eggs; beat lightly with a fork until combined. Gradually add half-and-half; stir until just combined.

3. Place the pastry-lined pie plate on the oven rack. Carefully pour the filling into pastry shell. To prevent overbrowning, cover edge of the pie with foil. Bake for 25 minutes. Remove foil. Bake about 25 minutes more or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack. Cover and chill within 2 hours.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Almond Mocha Latte

Once I create or find a basic recipe that I think is a keeper, I immediately start experimenting. Because I'm hosting a Thanksgiving meal today, I'm missing my usual farmers' market trip that usually ends with an espresso drink and delicious pastry or muffin. I wanted to go a bit lighter on breakfast today, but still start the day off with a treat (and caffeine boost!) so I made a skim almond mocha latte, riffing on the Easy Mocha Latte I made earlier this week. It satisfied my sweet tooth and gave me the boost of energy I needed to start cooking and get last minute cleaning done before my guests arrive.

Almond Mocha Latte
serves 1

1 T. turbinado sugar
2 t. high quality cocoa powder (e.g. Ghiradelli)
2 shots hot espresso
8 oz. warm, frothed milk
1/4 t. pure almond extract
Whipped cream (optional)
Chocolate shavings (optional)

1. Add sugar and cocoa to a mug and stir to combine. Pour in hot espresso, stirring to dissolve the sugar and cocoa powder. Add the milk and almond extract, stirring thoroughly to combine. Top with whipped cream and chocolate shavings, if desired. Serve hot and enjoy a few minutes to yourself.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Banana Bread Oatmeal

Oatmeal is one of my favorite areas to experiment with right now. Oatmeal is healthy, filling, and can be prepared quickly on a weekday (quick oats in the microwave) or slowly enjoyed on the weekend (steel cut oats on the stove). It also doesn't take very much to take oatmeal from a plain-Jane meal to a delicious treat. If you're feeling a bit unhealthy after overindulging at your Thanksgiving feast, a hearty breakfast of oatmeal is a great way to get back on track. This oatmeal is healthy and full of flavor and will give you the energy to entertain or clean up after your guests, or venture out into the insanity of Black Friday shopping.

Banana Bread Oatmeal
serves 1

1/2 c. steel-cut oats, rolled oats, or quick oats
1 banana, cut in half
2 T. toasted chopped walnuts
1 T. honey
1/4 t. cinnamon
Milk, half-and-half, or cream, for serving

1.Cut one half of the banana into 1/4-inch thick slices on the bias. Mash the other half in a small bowl and set aside.
2. Prepare oatmeal according to package directions. Add mashed banana and stir thoroughly to combine. Top with sliced banana, walnuts, honey, and cinnamon. Pour milk over oatmeal and enjoy warm.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Easy Mocha Latte

If you're a huge fan of espresso drinks like me, you realize how much of a money pit that can be. At four to six dollars a piece, it's easy to spend way too much on these comforting cups of deliciousness. If you want to save money or just stay in your pajamas on the couch while enjoying a hot mocha, it's easy to make them at home. With winter fast on our heels, it's good to have an arsenal of hot drink recipes at the ready for relaxed weekend mornings or harried weekday mornings. And if you want to turn this into an evening treat, add a bit of Bailey's Irish Cream or whiskey.

Easy Mocha Latte
serves 1

1 T. turbinado sugar
2 t. high quality cocoa powder (e.g. Ghiradelli)
2 shots hot espresso
8 oz. warm, frothed whole milk (or 1%, 2%, or skim, if you like)
1/4 t. pure vanilla extract
Whipped cream (optional)
Chocolate shavings (optional)

1. Add sugar and cocoa to a mug and stir to combine. Pour in hot espresso, stirring to dissolve the sugar and cocoa powder. Add the milk and vanilla extract, stirring thoroughly to combine. Top with whipped cream and chocolate shavings, if desired. Serve hot and enjoy a few minutes to yourself.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Roasted Delicata Squash Soup

Although we've yet to have more than a few flurries of snow here in Madison, winter is definitely here (with the exception of one bizarre afternoon this week where it was 64 and thunderstorming). Few foods are more comforting in winter than soup. You can make soup out of pretty much anything, it's often largely hands-off, and you can make mass quantities with minimal effort, and like pizza and paninis, which I frequently experiment with, it's nearly infinitely customizable so I absolutely adore it.

I got three different kinds of squash in my CSA last week-delicata, acorn, and butternut; delicata is by far the one I have the least experience eating and cooking. But I do know is that squash is always good roasted, and I love a creamy squash soup (like Butternut Squash Bisque). I lightened up the original recipe, using whole milk instead of heavy cream, as I intended this dish to be a main dish. If serving this dish as a first course cream or half-and-half would be very appropriate and to make it even more special, add a few crumbled bacon bits to the top as a final garnish. Even in the more everyday form I present here, this soup is extremely creamy and satisfying and a welcome meal when coming home on a cold winter evening.

Roasted Delicata Squash Soup
adapted from Food and Wine
serves 4 

Three approximately 1-pound delicata squash, halved lengthwise and seeded
2 tablespoons salted butter
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 small onion, chopped
3 cups vegetable stock, chicken stock or canned low-sodium broth
1 1/3 cups whole milk
1/4 cup crème fraîche or sour cream (optional)

 1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Set the squash, cut sides down, on a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil and sprayed with canola oil cooking spray. Roast the squash for 25 to 30 minutes, or until tender.

2. Melt butter in a large saucepan. Add the onion and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened but not browned, about 5 minutes. Scrape the flesh out of the squash and add it to the saucepan along with the stock and milk. Cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has reduced by one-fourth, about 20 minutes.

3. Using an immersion blender, blend the soup until smooth. (Alternatively, blend in batches using a blender or food processor). Pass through a fine sieve or chinoise, if desired. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and top with crème fraîche or sour cream, if desired. Serve warm with a salad and piece of crusty bread.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Asian-Style Sauteed Greens

I like Monday dinners to be fast and healthy, and quickly prepared greens and fish are an excellent choice. I prefer Asian greens like tatsoi and bok choy with Asian flavors and this recipe brings a lot of common Asian ingredients together with extremely flavorful results. Keep a careful eye on your greens-you want the stems to still be a bit crunchy and the leaves to be wilted, but not stringy and slimy. This makes an excellent side on its own, but would also be great served over rice. To take this simple dish to another level, add minced or grated ginger and some red pepper flakes.
Asian-Style Sauteed Greens
adapted from From Asparagus to Zucchini, published by MACSAC
serves 2 to 4

1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 pound mixed greens (I used tatsoi; bok choy is another good choice)
1/2 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon tamari or soy sauce
Freshly ground black pepper
 1. Heat oil in a wok or large skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Add garlic and saute for 2 minutes. Remove garlic and set aside.

2. Saute the greens until just wilted. Remove from heat and stir in garlic, vinegar, and tamari. Season with freshly ground black pepper to taste and serve immediately.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Garlic-Roasted Kale

My favorite method of cooking vegetables lately is roasting-it's incredible that such a simple preparation can yield such deeply flavorful results. I vaguely recalled seeing a roasted kale recipe in Cooking Light a while ago, so when I got another bunch of kale in my CSA box this week, I looked up the recipe and thought I'd try it out. Roasted garlic is always a pleasing flavor and great complement to kale and the contrast between the crispy ends and tender centers of the leaves is a real treat. The kale I got was quite mature, so I cut out the stems entirely, but if you have young kale, chop the stems into small pieces and roast along with the leaves. To remove the stems to from mature kale leaves, fold the leaves in half and slice away the thick stems and then cut the leaves into 2- to 3-inch pieces for roasting.

Garlic-Roasted Kale
adapted from Cooking Light

3  tablespoons  extra-virgin olive oil
1/2  teaspoon  kosher salt
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 1/2  pounds kale, stems removed and chopped
2  teaspoons sherry or balsamic vinegar or freshly squeezed lemon juice

1. Arrange oven racks in center and lower third of oven. Preheat oven to 425°. Place 2 large jelly-roll pans in oven for 5 minutes.

2. Combine first 4 ingredients in a large bowl; toss to coat. Divide kale mixture evenly between hot pans, spreading with a silicone spatula to separate leaves. Bake at 425° for 7 minutes. Stir kale, and rotate pans. Bake an additional 5 minutes or until edges of leaves are crisp and kale is tender.
 3. Place kale in a large bowl. Drizzle with vinegar or lemon juice; toss to combine. Serve immediately.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal

This recipe came to me when I was trying to think of ways to use up the pumpkin puree leftover from the can I opened to make Sweet Pumpkin Cookies this past weekend, as well as my deep love for all things pumpkin. I eat oatmeal for breakfast on a regular basis, and even like it plain with skim milk, but I usually add some combination of honey, maple syrup, dried fruits and nuts. Steel-cut oats are my favorite, followed by rolled oats, and then quick oats, but steel-cut oats are reserved for weekend breakfasts because of the time involved in cooking them. Steel-cut oats have the best flavor on their own, but rolled and quick oats benefit the most from additions, although they can be good on their own as well. This oatmeal is immensely satisfying on a harried weekday or relaxed weekend morning, a deeply comforting breakfast that energizes you for the day. To make this oatmeal even heartier, add chopped, toasted walnut, pecans, or pumpkin seeds and raisins or dried cranberries.

Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal

1/2 c. steel-cut oats, rolled oats, or quick oats
2 T. pumpkin puree
1 T. honey
1/4 t. pumpkin pie spice
Milk, half-and-half, or cream, for serving

1. Prepare oatmeal according to package directions. Add pumpkin puree, honey, and pumpkin pie spice and stir well to combine ingredients. Pour milk over oatmeal and enjoy warm.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Butternut Squash Fries

This recipe was inspired by two things: first, my desire to not waste a single thing in my CSA box, and second, a bit of laziness. Butternut squash bisque requires a lot of cubed squash, and I'd had a long day at work and wanted to make my prep work as easy as possible, so I just used the necks of the butternut squash. I definitely didn't want to throw away the bottoms of the squash and looking at their rounded shape decided they were perfect for butternut squash oven fries. The mixture of smoky cumin and sweet cinnamon accent both the savory and sweet sides of butternut squash and are a nice alternative to regular fries, particularly when you're overrun with squash as many people are in the fall and early winter.

Butternut Squash Fries
serves 3 to 4

Canola oil cooking spray
Bottoms of 3 medium butternut squash, about 2.5 to 3 lbs (or whole squash), peeled and seeded
1 T. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 t. ground cumin
1/2 t. kosher salt
1/4 t. ground cinnamon

1.  Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Spray two large baking pans or baking sheets with canola oil cooking spray. Cut each squash bottom in half, then cut each half into 8 wedges and put in a large bowl.

2. Pour olive oil over squash in bowl and toss well to coat. Add cumin, salt, and cinnamon and mix to distribute spices evenly. Arrange in a single layer in baking dishes and bake for 10 minutes. Flip each piece over and continue baking for 5 to 10 more minutes, depending on the thickness of the squash wedges, or until squash pieces are caramelized and tender. Serve warm.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Butternut Squash Bisque

As my next CSA delivery approaches, I'm trying to use up as much of my last delivery as possible. Among the remaining vegetables were three medium butternut squash. While I love a simple squash puree, I needed something more than that to use up that much squash. For this recipe I used only the necks, reserving the bottoms for another use-I had something specific in mind, but they could be roasted and pureed if you don't have any other ideas. This soup is rich enough to serve as a meal with a piece of crusty bread and nice green salad, although it will serve 4 to 6 instead of 12, but would also be a nice first course for a dinner party or even Thanksgiving dinner. For a Thai twist to this recipe, substitute light coconut milk for the half-and-half, add 1 to 2 tablespoons (or to taste) red curry paste and top with cilantro.

Butternut Squash Bisque
adapted from Martha Stewart
serves 12

3 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, plus more for garnish (optional)
Coarse salt
3 medium butternut squash, necks peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes (reserve bottoms for another use)
1 can (14 1/2 ounces) reduced-sodium vegetable broth
1 cup half-and-half
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
Sour cream, for serving

1. In a large saucepan, heat butter over medium. Add onion, garlic, thyme, cinnamon, and cayenne. Season with salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened, 5 to 7 minutes.

2. Add squash, broth, half-and-half, and 3 cups water. Bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer, and cook until squash is tender, about 20 minutes.

3. Using an immersion blender, puree until smooth. Stir in lemon juice; season with salt. Serve bisque with sour cream, garnished with cayenne, if desired.  

To Freeze: Ladle cooled bisque (without sour cream) into airtight containers, leaving 1 inch of space; freeze up to 3 months.  
To Reheat: Run container under hot water to release bisque. Heat with a bit of water, stirring occasionally.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Apple Butter

I love sweet potatoes. They're great as a main dish, soup, fries, baked, and mashed. Mashed sweet potatoes are such a delicious and easy side dish, I make them I've made mashed sweet potatoes with apple cider and with maple syrup, both of which are great foils to the sweet potatoes, but I'm always on the search for other interesting additions. I have some great apple butter from Porchlight Products, which not only promotes using local and seasonal ingredients, but also support Porchlight, Inc. which provides assistance to homeless people in Dane County. The flavor of the apple butter is present, but subtle, and provides layers of flavor with minimal effort.

Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Apple Butter
adapted from Food and Wine
served 4 to 6

3 large sweet potatoes (2 to 2.5 lbs total)
2 T. salted butter (or unsalted, if you prefer)
1/4 c. naturally sweetened or unsweetened apple butter

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Meanwhile, clean and peel sweet potatoes. Cut sweet potatoes into halves (and quarter if your sweet potatoes are very thick) and cut into 1/2- to 1-inch chunks. Add sweet potatoes to boiling water, cook until tender, 15 to 20 minutes, depending on the size of the sweet potato pieces, and drain.

2. Put sweet potatoes through a potato ricer (or mash with a potato masher). Add butter and apple butter and mix thoroughly.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Celeriac and Beauty Heart Radish Slaw

Celeriac and a beautiful giant beauty heart radish showed up in my CSA box and neither were ingredients I had ever cooked with before. I was familiar with celeriac (celery root) and how to use it in general, but I'd only ever cooked with regular radishes in the past. The beauty heart radish is truly a beautiful vegetable, with a vibrant fuchsia center hidden within a relatively plain white and green exterior. I wasn't really sure what I going to do with either of these vegetables, but when I saw a recipe for celery root slaw in the newest issue of Real Simple, I immediately thought of adapting it to include beauty heart radish. This dish definitely isn't for everyone as celery root, radish, and raw red onion are all very strong flavors, but I like the contrast between the crunchy, assertive vegetables and the rich sour cream. (It also isn't the most attractive dish as the radish turns everything an alarming shade of pink.)This pairs nicely with sausage for dinner, or with a piece of fruit and a slice of bread with cheese for a light and healthy lunch.

Celeriac and Beauty Heart Radish Slaw
adapted from Real Simple
serves 4 to 6

1 small celeriac (celery root; about 1 lb.), peeled
1 very large or multiple smaller beauty heart radish, peeled (about 2 pounds total celeriac and radish)
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
kosher salt and black pepper
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 dill pickles, cut into thin strips
Beauty heart radish

1. Coarsely grate the celeriac and radish. Squeeze some of the extra moisture out with a kitchen towel or paper towel. (This will help keep the slaw crisp.)

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the sour cream, lemon juice, mustard, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper.

3. Add the celery root, radish, onion, parsley, and pickles and toss to combine.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Sweet Pumpkin Cookies

One of the first things I do when I get a new cookbook these days is turn to the index to see if there are any pumpkin recipes. Luckily for me, my newest acquisition, Moosewood Restaurant New Classics, had a pumpkin cookie recipe that was just begging to be tried. These most definitely do not disappoint, though I'm pretty easy to please as I do love most pumpkin-based baked goods that come my way. To these cookies credit, my husband wandered into the kitchen, lured in by the wonderful smells wafting from the oven. When, after sneaking off with a couple freshly-baked cookies, I asked him what he thought, he said he really liked them and would like another one, the best complement of all.

I opted for a combination of raisins and pecans, though there are many wonderful dried fruit and nut combinations that would work well in this cookie, like cranberries and walnuts. The original recipe uses peanuts, but I prefer almonds, pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts, or most other nuts to peanuts, particularly in baking applications. It's not that I don't like peanuts, but I just wouldn't pick them when presented with other options. These cookies are light and cakey with a tender crumb, and the perfect combination of indulgence and healthy ingredients.

Sweet Pumpkin Cookies
adapted from Moosewood Restaurant New Classics

1 cup butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped toasted walnuts or pecans
1 cup raisins, golden raisins, currants, or sweetened dried cranberries
1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chips (optional; I like Ghiradelli 60% Cacao baking chips)

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

2. In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Add the pumpkin, egg, and vanilla and mix until well blended. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, and salt, and add to the mixing bowl. Stir well to form a soft batter. Stir in the chopped nuts, raisins, and, if you like, the chocolate chips.

3. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto a large, unoiled baking sheet (or two smaller ones), allowing a little space for the cookies to spread as they bake. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and the cookies just begin to brown slightly on the bottom. Use a spatula to transfer to a cooling rack or plate. Store in your favorite cookie jar.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Hash

I bought Moosewood Restaurant New Classics last week and I already at least a dozen recipes I bookmarked to try. The Moosewood Collective is a respected source of vegetarian recipes and I've gotten many delicious and healthy recipes from another Moosewood cookbook I bought at least five years ago. With the bounty of produce in my life since getting my first CSA delivery, I seized the opportunity to justify buying yet another cookbook to add to my ever-growing culinary library.

I love sweet potatoes, but I mostly eat them baked, mashed, and made into fries, although I also have made soup, but I was looking for something different from the mashed potatoes recipes I've tried so far. This dish is packed with vegetables and flavor, not to mention extremely healthy. I topped my hash with some Frontera Double Roasted Tomato salsa, but sour cream and shredded cheese would be delicious accoutrements as well.

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Hash
from Moosewood Restaurant New Classics

1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
6 cups peeled diced sweet potatoes (1/2-inch pieces)
1 jalapeno, minced
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup frozen corn kernels (or mixed corn and green peppers)
1 1/2 cups cooked black beans (15-ounce can, drained)
splash of water or orange juice (optional)
dash of salt
cayenne or hot pepper sauce (optional)

minced scallions or chopped fresh cilantro
sour cream (optional)

1. Heat the oil in a large, deep, nonstick skillet. Add the onions and saute on medium heat, stirring occasionally, until they begin to soften. Stir in the garlic, cook for a few seconds, then add the sweet potatoes. Cover the skillet and cook for 3 minutes. Add the jalapeno, coriander, cumin, and salt; then use a spatula to turn the potatoes, cover, and cook for another 3 minutes. Add the corn and black beans, cover, and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2. If the potatoes are still too firm, add a little water or orange juice, cover, and cook on low heat until the potatoes are tender. Add the salt and stir in cayenne or hot pepper sauce to taste.

3. Serve topped with minced scallions or chopped cilantro and, if you like, a dollop of sour cream.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Orange Butter Sauce

Before I made this recipe, I'd never tried Brussels sprouts. My dad absolutely hated Brussels sprouts as a kid, so they didn't make an appearance in my childhood meals. That, in combination with their notoriety in the vegetable world, meant that I've never made the effort to try them. But when they made an appearance in my CSA box, I went straight for my favorite vegetable cookbook and picked out a recipe. And I was definitely not disappointed! The deep flavor of caramelization combined with a rich butter sauce accented with orange and maple flavors was absolutely divine. I now see how Brussels sprouts are a traditional Thanksgiving dish for many families.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Orange Butter Sauce
from Fast, Fresh, and Green by Susie Middleton

1 lb. small Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved lengthwise
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
1/2 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces

1. Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F. Line a large (18x13x1-inch) heavy-duty rimmed sheet pan with a piece of parchment paper.

2. In a mixing bowl, toss the Brussels sprouts with the olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt. Arrange the sprouts in one layer, cut side down, on the parchment.

3. Roast until brown and tender, 15 to 18 minutes. (The tops will be dark brown and crispy and the sprouts should feel tender when pierced with a paring knife. Transfer the sprouts to a mixing bowl.

4. Combine the balsamic vinegar, maple syrup, orange juice, and orange zest in a small saucepan. Heat the mixture over medium heat just until it's hot (you will see a bit of steam), but not simmering. Remove the pan from heat and add the cold butter, several pieces at a time, whisking constantly until the mixture is smooth and creamy. (Don't reheat the mixture or the butter will break and the sauce won't be creamy). Pour the sauce over the sprouts and stir thoroughly but gently until most of the sauce has been absorbed. Transfer the sprouts and any remaining sauce to a serving platter or dinner plates.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Year One

I can hardly believe that I started this blog a year ago today. At the time I was searching for a job and searching for a project that would keep me busy and give me a sense of purpose at a time when I felt that I wasn't accomplishing much at all. People start blogging for all sorts of reasons-I guess I just wanted to feel like I was leaving some sort of mark on the world, a record of the things I loved and had accomplished. This blog has gone from being read only by my close friends and a few family members, to having hundreds of views each month. This is a very modest readership by blog standards, but I'm still really proud of how far Laine's Recipe Box has come. Having an audience, no matter how small, has inspired me to try more recipes and become more innovative with my own culinary creations. Now that I'm gainfully employed, I wish had at least some of that free time back to cook!

My greatest culinary inspiration is local ingredients. I am lucky enough to live in the city with the nation's largest producer-only farmers' market which I shopped at every Saturday (save for one when I was out of town camping) from its first weekend outdoors in April to its last just this past weekend. I picked up my first winter CSA from Primrose Community Farm last week and I'll be happily shopping the indoor farmers' market until I can resume my Saturday walks around the square and the Willy Street Co-op is my primary grocery store. I get every ingredient I can from local companies and finding new products from local companies gives me great joy, which I want to share with as many people as possible. It's with this enthusiasm for all things Madison and Wisconsin that I'm launching a new project-Laine's Local, where I want to share all manner of Wisconsin things that I love, from food products and restaurants to stores and events. This blog will have a culinary slant, at least to start, but I can't wait to see how it develops. If you like Laine's Recipe Box, please check out Laine's Local!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Simple Stir Fry Sauce

Stir-fries are one of the best ways to use up mass amount of vegetables of all different kinds. With the huge amount of vegetables I've gotten and will be getting from my CSA these next couple of months, I'm sure to be making a lot of them. I found this great recipe for a really simple and absolutely delicious stir fry sauce on the website for Primrose Community Farm, the farm I get my CSA from. This sauce is a well-balanced combination or sweet, salty, and savory and goes well with all manner of vegetables. I used this sauce on a stir-fry of mushrooms, onions, garlic, tatsoi, and teriyaki baked tofu, which I cooked in chili-infused peanut oil I bought from Out of Our Gourd at the farmers' market this past weekend, and served over brown rice. Simple, healthy, and fast-what could be better for a Monday night dinner? It also made a wonderful Tuesday lunch, with all my coworkers commenting on how good my lunch smelled when I brought it to my desk.

Simple Stir-Fry Sauce
adapted from Primrose Community Farm

2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari
2 tablespoons sesame oil

Whisk together ingredients in a small bowl until thoroughly combined. Add sauce to stir-fried vegetables and serve over rice or other grains.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Sesame Coleslaw

I found this recipe while searching for recipes to use up the head of green cabbage I got in my CSA box this week. (Unfortunately it only used half of my head of cabbage, so I'm still looking for more cabbage recipes.) I'm not a huge fan of traditional coleslaw, although I do eat it from time to time, but this light Asian-inspired coleslaw is much more to my taste. Unlike traditional coleslaw, this dish won't weigh you down with its light, flavorful dressing and abundance of crunchy vegetables that remains fresh and crisp even the next day. This coleslaw is a nice alternative to a green salad and makes for an excellent light meal alongside spring rolls or potstickers.

Sesame Coleslaw
from Bon Appetit, via Epicurious
serves 8

6 cups very thinly sliced green cabbage (about 1-pound head)
3 cups shredded peeled carrots
2 cups fresh spinach leaves, trimmed, thinly sliced

1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1/4 cup oriental sesame oil
1/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger
2 teaspoons soy sauce 
Additional fresh spinach leaves
1 1/2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted

1. Combine cabbage, carrots and sliced spinach in large bowl.

2. Whisk vinegar, oil, sugar, ginger and soy sauce in medium bowl until sugar dissolves. Season with salt and pepper. (Cabbage mixture and dressing can be made 1 day ahead. Cover separately; chill.)

3. Toss cabbage mixture with dressing. Season coleslaw with salt and pepper. Line platter with additional spinach leaves. Mound coleslaw on platter. Sprinkle sesame seeds over and serve.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Honey-Walnut Pumpkin Bread

Pumpkin, pumpkin, pumpkin...will I ever get tired of it? I don't see it happening, at least not in the foreseeable future. I've made the typical pumpkin quick bread many times in the past, but this year I wanted to find a more healthy, but no less tasty, version. And here it is! As is typical with most of the baked goods I make these days, this recipe uses whole wheat pastry flour but with an added nutritional boost from wheat germ and flaxseed meal. This bread is sweetened with a combination of honey and turbinado sugar instead of granulated sugar, which adds flavor instead of just sweetness, and the walnuts provide omega-3s and a nice texture contrast in this extremely moist bread. This bread is hearty enough for breakfast or a snack, but sweet enough for dessert as well.

Honey-Walnut Pumpkin Bread
adapted from Whole Foods
serves 8 to 10

Canola oil cooking spray
1 3/8 cups whole wheat pastry flour
2 tablespoons ground flaxseed meal
1/4 cup oat bran or wheat germ
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons turbinado sugar
1/3 cup canola oil
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup milk
1 1/4 cups fresh or canned pumpkin puree
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chopped walnuts

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease an 8-inch loaf pan with canola oil cooking spray and set aside.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, flaxseed meal, wheat germ, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a second large bowl, combine sugar, oil, honey, milk, pumpkin, egg and vanilla. Add this mixture to flour mixture and stir until just combined. Fold in walnuts.

3. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan and bake until cooked through and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, about 1 hour. Cool for 15 minutes on a wire rack then remove from pan and set aside to let cool completely.