Beets: A Variety Pack of Easy and Delicious Techniques

21 Jul El amor entra por los ojos -- This dish is love at first sight!

Beets are popping up in CSA boxes, farmer’s markets and gardens (except mine, because I haven’t planted any this year since I wasn’t going to be consistently available to thin and tend them).  I never liked them as a kid, because when I was a kid they only came out of a can and were floppy and disgusting! Today I know better and I love them.

David and Goliath

David and Goliath

They are available year-round and store well, but are really a cool season crop. Grilled, roasted, boiled, or steamed…there are many ways  to skin this veg. We usually keep one around to grate raw onto salads for extra crunch, flavor, and color, paring just enough to grate some off the bulb and then sticking it back in the fridge.

Rinsing the beets

Rinsing the beets

Any vegetable that colorful has to be good for you and beets prove the rule. They contain phytonutrients called betalains which are supposed to be rich in anti-oxidants and have anti-inflammatory properties (for more on the healthful properties of beets, click here) , so eating them is a good thing. And they are very sweet, which is also a good thing, because they stand up to a lot of interesting flavors. THE GREEN ARE EDIBLE AND DELICIOUS so make the most out of your purchase following the instructions below, or try out one of the easy-peasy recipes here.

Beets are available year-round, but are best from June to October and that's when the beet greens are best too!

Beets are available year-round, but are best from June to October and that’s when the beet greens are best too!

For advice from Cornell on growing your own, go here.

BASIC PREP

Trim off the greens about an inch from the actual beet. You can eat them and they should be used within a day or two, taking out larger ribs before cooking. They can be used like most other leafy greens.

The unwashed beet roots will last about three weeks in the fridge. To use, scrub gently and do not remove the root. Do not peel before cooking. You can wrap in foil and roast at 400°F for 1-1.5 hours or simmer in salted boiling water for 30 minutes to 1.5 hours. Another option is to steam in a vegetable steamer for 30-45 minutes. the beets are done when a fork goes easily through the center. The skins will come off easily and should be removed while the beets are still warm. Use kitchen gloves or put your hands in plastic bags to handle them, as they will stain*. Flavor affinities include goat cheese, tarragon, herring and ham.

Zesty Orange Beet Salad with Beet Greens

El amor entra por los ojos -- This dish is love at first sight!

El amor entra por los ojos — This dish is love at first sight!

 USE THOSE BEETS GREENS! 

How to select, store and saute these excellent greens that come attached to your beets!

I like to mash mine into bolied yuca or boiled potato with olive oil...and that's just what I did after taking this photo.

I like to mash mine into bolied yuca or boiled potato with olive oil…and that’s just what I did after taking this photo.

Grilled Beets (No Oven Required)

Roasted Beets with Goat Cheese and Walnuts (or feta)

Roasted Beets with Feta and Walnuts

Roasted Beets with Goat Cheese and Walnuts

Golden Beets (sauteed with garlic and parsley)

Golden Beets, sauteed

Golden Beets, sauteed

 

 

 

 

 

 

Guingambó Guisado (Stewed Okra) Even if you think it’s gooey, you’ll like the food history

18 Jul This was the version before Pedro was scolded into chopping it in rounds

In Puerto Rico we call it guingambó (geen-gahm-BOH) or variations on that word, which seems to derive from the original African term for it. You may know it as okra (which may be another African derivative) or ladyfingers for the elegant shape of its conical pods. Usually bright green, there are gorgeous red varieties too (the red color doesn’t really hold up in cooking, unfortunately). It’s available year-round in hot places, but in the Northeast, it is a summer to early fall vegetable.

From the farmer's market

From the farmer’s market

It is said to originate in Abbysinia/Ethiopia/Eritrea and made its way across Africa and eventually to the Americas where it was particularly embraced in the Caribbean and Southern — especially French –U.S. There were loads of Africans imported against their will to those regions but okra came with them and it happens to grow well there. And they had to do a lot of the cooking so they incorporated it in creative ways.

Chop Chop!

Chop Chop!

Gumbo, that deservedly beloved stew cook-up from the New Orleans area,was thickened with okra and probably gets its name from that same African word that sounds like guingambó, although you might think that “gummy” has something to do with it too. After all, that gooey stuff inside called “mucilage” definitely brings things together. Today it is gaining popularity amongst non-Southern, non-Caribbean people and that is a good thing! You can bread and fry it, which is on my list to try soon, and when my CSA farm has some I will eat it raw and love it up, but the way I adore it is stewed.

A little ham for sweetness and depth

A little ham for sweetness and depth

My dad claimed not to like okra for the usual reason: TOO GOOEY! But then I brought some red okra home fresh from an organic farm in Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico (Productos Sana) and he went at it and changed his mind. Funnily enough, my late maternal grandmother (Puerto Rican) used to make a delicious stew. My dad (Aruban), in his experimenting, inadvertently ended up creating the same dish with nearly the same flavors as she used and I am very happy!

This was the version before Pedro was scolded into chopping it in rounds

This was the version before Pedro was scolded into chopping it in rounds the way my grandmother did. Easier to eat.

The recipe is below, but first, a few valuable links for food history nerds. Continue reading

Tostones de Panapén (Fried Breadfruit Disks)

16 Jul Tostón de panapén

When they talk about flakes of manna falling from the sky, I am sure they are talking about tostones de panapén.

Chunks browned lightly

Chunks browned lightly

Panapén or pana is what Puerto Ricans call breadfruit. The back story of how breadfruit got to the West Indies from South East Asia is actually one of the most famous seafaring tales around: The Mutiny on the Bounty.

The LeBron Brothers are the guys in the Plaza de Mercado de Mayagüez (where my great-grandfather had a booth in the early 1900s) who supply me with the good stuff, already peeled and pared!

The LeBron Brothers are the guys in the Plaza de Mercado de Mayagüez (where my great-grandfather had a booth in the early 1900s) who supply me with the good stuff, already peeled and pared!

Captain Bligh, on that ill-fated trip was trying to bring breadfruit to plant in the  Caribbean for cheap slave food.

Wikipedia image

Continue reading

Zucchini: 7 Superstar Supereasy Recipes

12 Jul Light and luscious, the abundant corn kernels make this fun to eat

Yeah, yeah, yeah, we all love summer veggies fresh from the garden. Except — admit it! — when there are piles and piles and piles of zucchini sitting around your kitchen counters waiting for a purpose. For that time there is this post.

I have collected some of my favorite zucchini recipes here to inspire you and yours to enjoy zucchini in different ways (and overwhelmed gardeners can send this to their friends as they pass off some of the overabundance of zucchini from the backyard).

Enjoy! You will remember these days fondly in the dark of winter.

Rosemary-Manchego Zucchini Fritters

 

Zucchini Rosemary Manchego Fritters Yum

Zucchini Rosemary Manchego Fritters Yum

 

 Remoulade (Easy Summer Squash Slaw…cooooool)

 

Zucchini Slaw

Zucchini Slaw

 Crunchy Creamy Zucchini Corn Fritters

Light and luscious, the abundant corn kernels make this fun to eat

Light and luscious, the abundant corn kernels make this fun to eat

 Easy Stovetop Lemon-Oregano Zucchini and Yellow Squash

How this dish looked at our campsite on the beach

How this dish looked at our campsite on the beach

Healthy and Happy Grilled Veggie Kebabs Continue reading

Easy, Hearty, Refried Beans for Bean Dip, Tacos, Burritos, and more

8 Jul Yum!

We’ve been having folks over or heading to other people’s houses for watch parties during the World Cup…as die-hard fanáticos del fútbol, this extravaganza of soccer is something we look forward to every four years with great anticipation.

I’ve mostly gonewith tried and true recipes like the incredibly delicious Chipotle Lime Jerk Slow Cooker Chicken and my Seasoned Ground Beef for Sloppy Joes, Tortilla Torcal (Spanish stovetop egg frittata with chorizo, ham and peas from our garden), Grapes and White Cheese (no-cook fab appetizer with just two ingredients — three if you count toothpicks), and such.

Go U.S.A.!

Go U.S.A.! Tim Howard is Hercules!

But for the first U.S. game of the Cup, I also made a new one: bean dip! I was very happy with the results. I did homemade refried beans (recipe below), then just layered it up with salsa and cheese and melted in the oven and served with tortilla chips, sour cream and avocado chunks and everyone liked it. A Lot.

This bean recipe is very versatile for Tex-Mex style foods like nachos, burritos, tacos and the like. Sure you can buy refried beans in a can, but this flavor and texture is more complex and of course the sodium and fat levels are reduced to human proportions. Give it a try!

 

Layered with cheese and salsa, this warm dip is a hot item

Layered with cheese and salsa, this warm dip is a hot item

Refried Beans for Bean Dip or Tex-Mex meals (with garlic scapes)

1-2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil

2 Tbs garlic scapes (or garlic), chopped fine

¼ Cup diced ham (ham steak or deli ham)

½ Cup broth (chicken or veggie; not too sweet)

1 Tbs fresh thyme leaves (or 1 tsp dried)

3 Cups red beans (softened at home or from a can, rinsed and drained)

Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a generous pan to medium high. Lower heat and sauté the garlic scapes in the oil until tender. Add the diced ham and sauté an additional minute, then add remaining ingredients and simmer until thickened. Remove from heat and with a potato masher or a fork, mash mixture roughly until you have a thick, rustic paste, adding tablespoons of water or broth as needed. Layer with salsa and cheese in an oven-safe dish and heat up, then top with sour cream, guacamole and olives, or use it to top nachos or stuff tacos and burritos!

Grilled Lemon-Herb Pattypan Squash (no paring or peeling!)

4 Jul Featured Image -- 6086

Natalia at Hot, Cheap & Easy:

Pattypans are turning up at CSA pick-up now. Here’s what to do with them…(with links to other recipes)

Originally posted on Hot, Cheap & Easy:

At this time of year, everyone wants to know what to do with pattypan squash — sometimes called sunburst squash – the one that really does look a bit like a squashed mini-pumpkin, or a hat for a Scottish maiden. So first off, let me say DON”T PEEL IT. You can cook it with the rind on and you can eat the whole thing.

Pattypans and zucchini together! Not much difference when they are sliced....

Pattypans and zucchini together! Not much difference when they are sliced….

Pattypan squash can be treated pretty much the same as zucchini or any other soft-skinned summer squash. Usually I roast it/stuff it, but this week we decided to grill it along with some other vegetables. Honestly I don’t think anyone at our celebrate-the-neighborhood BBQ realized they weren’t the regular yellow squash. And when I went to snack on them at the end of the long night of festivities, there were none left…

View original 199 more words

Sugar Snap Peas: Five Italian and Spanish Style Recipes You’ll Love

30 Jun Rich flavor that doesn't overwhelm the peas.

It is the season for sugar snap peas (Pisum sativum var. macrocarpon), and we have had a wonderful harvest of sugar snaps in our yard, and we expect more from Restoration Farm, our CSA.

Almost too ready for picking

Almost too ready for picking

So today I made a special sweet pea dish — Pasta with Chorizo and Peas - for my seven-year-old swee’pea who is in charge of peas at home, from planting to watering to harvesting (he gets assistance in stringing the poles as our peas need strings to climb on with their delicate tendrils. We buy sugar snap seeds from Botanical Interests).

Someone eats a lot of peas as he is harvesting. Someone's mother doesn't mind at all.

Someone eats a lot of peas as he is harvesting. Someone’s mother doesn’t mind at all.

He collected peas between World Cup matches today and then we spent a companionable half hour shelling the peas and eating many of them as we watched Costa Rica play Greece in the World Cup and I put the water to boil. At halftime I made dinner to eat during the second half.

Quite a haul! We can freeze what we don't use. But we'll use it all before that happens.

Quite a haul! We can freeze what we don’t use. But we’ll use it all before that happens.

So the following Pasta with Chorizo and Peas  is a new recipe and below that you’ll find links to some of our perennial favorites: Spanish tortillas and Italian pastas. This recipe uses only the peas, but the pods are edible. I sliced the pea pods into my salad, as he doesn’t like those and I find them wonderfully crunchy and sweet.

Rich flavor that doesn't overwhelm the peas.

Rich flavor that doesn’t overwhelm the peas.

Continue reading

Hurray for Sissy Drinks! (Two refreshing wine cocktails)

29 Jun Featured Image -- 6049

Natalia at Hot, Cheap & Easy:

The summer is here. Here’s how to have wine on a summer Sunday without messing up your Monday!

Originally posted on Hot, Cheap & Easy:

This summer has been too damn hot and (in my part of the world) humid for normal alcohol consumption. On a normal day, I am not a sipper. I am a gulper. Of water, of tea — hot or cold –, and wine, my beverage of choice. Add the hazy, hot, and humid factors and you would think that I was a camel, sucking up everything wet the oasis has to offer.

But that kind of hurry can’t be applied to alcohol. I would keel over and instead of being relaxing or fun, the scene would just get ugly. So in the summer, especially in this summer, I have resorted to what I like to call sissy drinks. Low alcohol, lots of non-alcoholic liquids added, over lots of ice.

You may laugh, you may make unfavorable references to the era of Bartles & James, wine coolers and the like, but…

View original 343 more words

Seven Sweet and Spectacular Strawberry Recipes

28 Jun Featured Image -- 6039

Natalia at Hot, Cheap & Easy:

This reblog comes as strawberry season is in full swing and includes a way to save strawberries on the edge…See also my latest blog post on Edible Long Island

Originally posted on Hot, Cheap & Easy:

As strawberry season is in full swing, I’ve collected for you some spectacularly simple recipes that take advantage of the season (and help salvage berries that have passed their prime!). This has been updated from six to seven!

We like mini-muffins because you get so many you can share them around!

Strawberry-Blueberry Mini-Muffins (click on image for recipe)

Summer fruit!

Berry Crisp – sweet and crunchy! (click image for recipe)

We're jammin'. we're jammin', hope you like jammin' too

Strawberry Rhubarb Jam with no pectin and no preserving. A Hot, Cheap & Easy Top Five (click on image for recipe)

Strawberry Shortcake...a crowd pleaser!

Strawberry Shortcake…a crowd pleaser! (click on image for recipe)

Saving Sad Strawberries - by Roasting! Delicious jammy results

Saving Sad Strawberries – by Roasting! Delicious jammy results (click on image for recipe)

And of course, the most refreshing sangrías include sliced strawberries!

Two of the three sangría recipes include strawberries!

Two of the three sangría recipes include strawberries! (click on image for recipes)

View original

Spicy Peach and Nectarine Salsa (for grilled chicken, fish or shrimp)

23 Jun Perfect to spice up grilled chicken

Between the World Cup, my son’s birthday, and all the crazy- end-of-school-year STUFF, I have not been blogging with my usual attention. And I have missed you! But in the last few days of entertaining and spectating, this peach and nectarine salsa (done quickly at half-time)  has been sparking up the fantastic grilled chicken my dad has been charring to perfection.

A combination of over-ripe and not-quite ripe peaches and nectarines make for a terrific salsa

A combination of over-ripe and not-quite ripe peaches and nectarines make for a terrific salsa

It is the result of buying a manager’s special of rejected peaches and nectarines on the cheap….You can substitute mango..in fact my mom thought it was mango! The important thing is the balance and excitement of sweet, citric, spicy and salty all at one go.  Nancy, this one is for you…

This is done in five minutes!

This is done in five minutes!

Peach/Nectarine Spicy Salsa (for grilled chicken or shrimp)

1 Cup peeled and chopped peaches and nectarines

1 tsp red onion, chopped fine

1 tsp lemon juice

1 tsp extra virgin olive oil

½ tsp balsamic vinegar

1 pinch hot red pepper flakes

1 pinch salt

Mix together in a bowl and let sit for at least 15 minutes. Serve with grilled chicken, shrimp or sturdy white fish.

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