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Cooking for a Delicious Life: A Lauren Groveman Kitchen Instructional Video Series

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I Love to Cook: A Lauren Groveman Kitchen Cookbook
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Lauren Groveman's Kitchen Cookbook
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Roasted Cauliflower

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Incredibly tender and delicious, this technique of steaming and then roasting an entire head of cauliflower will forever heighten the way you think about this vegetable! Sometimes, in addition to the garlic confit, I will schmear some rendered duck or chicken fat on top of the head before adding my seasoning and enclosing it in the foil. Totally yum…

Special Equipment

Shallow baking sheet or oven-proof dish

Ingredients

  • 1 large head cauliflower
  • Chicken stock or vegetable broth, as needed
  • Garlic confit, as needed (can mix melted butter with garlic oil, or use melted duck fat that has been rendered with minced onions and drained)
  • Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste

 

  1. To set up: Preheat the oven to 450F. Line a baking sheet with nonstick, heavy aluminum foil.
  2. To prepare the cauliflower: Wash and dry the cauliflower. Remove any green leaves from the base of the head and, using a paring knife, remove the end of the core without detaching the flowerets. (Drive the tip of the blade in at the base on an angel so that all you remove is the fibrous end). Pour about ¾ cup stock onto the prepared baking sheet and place the head, base side down, on top. Generously baste the top of the cauliflower with the garlic confit oil (or a mixture of butter and oil) and scatter some of the cooked garlic cloves around. Season the top with salt and paper and cover the head with more foil. Bring up the sides of the bottom sheet of foil and scrunch the bottom edges together with the top edges of foil, enclosing the vegetable.
  3. To bake: Place the baking sheet into a well-preheated oven and bake for 15 minutes. Remove the top piece of foil, raise the heat to 500F and continue to bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until the top is well browned. (If, after the first 10 minutes at 500F, the oven starts to smoke, reduce the temperature to 350F and bake until the exterior of the cauliflower looks correct.)
  4. To serve: Remove from the oven and place the cauliflower onto a warmed serving platter. Pour any remaining liquid from the bottom piece of foil over the top. Cut the head into wedges and serve.

Comments (0)

Baby Green Beans, Sautéed with Onions, Garlic and Sweet Red Bell Peppers

Special Equipment

  • 8-quart blanching pot with built-in strainer (optional)
  • 12-inch, deep-sided skillet

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds baby green beans
  • Salt for boiling beans
  • 4 to 6 cloves garlic, peeled and boiled for 3 minutes, drained and halved lengthwise
  • 1 large yellow onion, peeled
  • 1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) butter or 1/4 cup Garlic Confit Oil or regular extra-virgin olive oil or use a combination
  • 1 large raw or peeled Roasted Red Bell Pepper, seeded and cut into thin strips
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced (optional)
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Reggiano-Parmesan cheese (optional)
  • Freshly ground black pepper and Kosher or sea salt to taste

1) To prepare and blanch beans: Bring an 8-quart pot of water to a boil. Rinse and drain beans and pick off dry ends with your thumb nail. When water boils, place a large bowl of ice water on your counter, add some salt to the pot and stir in the beans. Boil until just crisp tender, about 3 minutes (avoid overcooking). Drain beans and immediately plunge them into the ice water. This completely stops the cooking process so the bright green color and crisp texture is retained. (If baby beans are unavailable, use regular green beans and blanch until they reach the desired texture, about 6 minutes.) See video on Blanching Vegetables, for more information.

2) To prepare onion: Cut peeled onion in half through the stem end and slice each half into very thin wedges. Separate each wedge into strips.

3) To sauté vegetables: Melt butter or heat the olive oil in a 12-inch, deep-sided skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add poached garlic and cook, over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the garlic becomes golden. Use a slotted utensil to remove the garlic and set this aside, for now. Increase the heat to high and add the onions to the skilled and cook, until fragrant and tender, but not brown, about 10 minutes, stirring often. Add red pepper strips and cook 3 to 5 minutes more. Raise heat to medium-high, add string beans and toss to combine. Cook until almost tender, then add the minced garlic, if using, and continue to cook the beans until tender and some of the edges are a bit caramelized, about 5 minutes, stirring and tossing frequently.

4) To serve: Turn into a serving bowl and add grated Parmesan cheese, if using. Grind on some fresh pepper and sprinkle lightly with coarse salt, if desired. Serve hot.

Variations for Green Beans

Here are some easy additions and combinations to try with sautéed green beans:

Blanch and refresh the beans as directed before sautéing. Sauté string beans in hot butter or olive oil and when hot throughout but still crisp, add 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts and 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese or (for a sharper flavor) grated Pecorino cheese. To toast pine nuts, place on a shallow baking sheet and bake at 350o F until golden but not scorched, about 10 minutes. Shake the pan occasionally while toasting. Be careful, once the nuts become fragrant, they’re just about done–this is true when toasting all nuts.

Thinly slice 5 cloves garlic. Sauté very slowly in 4 tablespoons melted butter or fruity olive oil until tender and lightly golden, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove garlic with a slotted spoon and reserve. Add blanched beans to pan and cook briefly, just until tender. Toss with the sautéed garlic adding freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Heat 1/4 to 1/3 cup of very fragrant peanut oil over medium-high heat and sauté 2 teaspoons peeled, minced fresh ginger root, 2 cloves minced garlic and blanched baby beans. When hot throughout, stir in 1/4 cup pan toasted sesame seeds. Cook 1 minute over high heat then drizzle on 1 tablespoon of dark (toasted) sesame oil. To toast seeds, place a dry skillet over medium heat and when hot, add seeds. Stir constantly as seeds become golden, about 2 minutes. Remove from skillet to avoid scorching.

Watch the video.

Comments (3)

Chilled Asparagus with Sweet Peppers and Tuna Dressed in My Favorite Scallion Vinaigrette

Although the tuna wasn’t featured in the video, I wanted to show you another way to serve this fabulous salad “meal” which is just perfect either when having guests for a weekend lunch or when you want to provide your family with a light and refreshing supper during the week.

Special Equipment
8-quart blanching pot with built-in strainer (optional)
Kitchen twine for asparagus

Ingredients

  • 4 Roasted Bell Peppers: 2 red and 2 yellow, skinned, seeded and sliced
  • Garlic Confit Oil or extra-virgin olive oil, as needed
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Capers, drained (a few tablespoons)
  • Chiffonade of Fresh Basil
  • 1/3 cup Pitted Kalamata Olives, sliced
  • 1 small red onion, sliced into thin strips
  • Balsamic vinegar to taste
  • 2 1/2 to 3 pounds tender young asparagus blanched and chilled (see instructions that follow)
  • My Favorite Scallion Vinaigrette (following)
  • 1 can (10.5 ounces) garbanzo beans (chickpeas), rinsed and well drained
  • 4 cans (6 1/8 ounces each) Italian chunk light tuna (packed in olive oil), drained and flaked with a fork (not mashed)
  • 1/3 cup additional drained capers (optional)

1) To flavor the peppers: Toss the sliced peppers with between 1/4 and 1/3 cup oil, minced garlic, capers and olives. Two hours before serving, add the basil, onions and the balsamic vinegar.

2) To assemble the platter and serve: Lay 9 thin or 6 thick blanched asparagus spears on individual serving plates with the tips facing in the same direction. Stir vinaigrette and ladle some over the asparagus. Lay some of the pepper strips on top along with a few garbanzo beans. Ladle on a bit more dressing, top with some flaked tuna and, if desired, scatter some capers over top. Serve and pass additional dressing at the table along with some balsamic vinegar to drizzle on top. Be sure to have a reliable peppermill at the table.

My Favorite Scallion Vinaigrette
Yields about 2 1/2 cups
Keep any leftovers refrigerated in a tightly covered jar to be used for up to 3 days.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup regular olive oil (not extra-virgin)
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 rounded tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon salt (or less)
  • Generous twist freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup minced scallions (green onions), trimmed white parts and 1 1/2 to 2 inches of the tender green
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon crumbled dried oregano (optional)

1) To assemble the dressing: Combine all of the ingredients in a jar or a bowl and shake well or whisk to combine. Refrigerate until ready to serve. If made in advance and very chilled, let the dressing sit out of the refrigerator to release its full flavor, before serving.

Timing is Everything:
Up to 3 days ahead of time, you may blanch your asparagus, roast and marinate your peppers and prepare your vinaigrette. Store all, well covered, in the refrigerator.

How to blanch asparagus:

In order to retain its firm texture and bright green color, asparagus should be cooked quickly and served immediately or blanched (briefly boiled and then quickly refreshed in ice water to stop the cooking process). An eight-quart blanching pot with a built-in strainer is extremely useful but not essential. Blanched asparagus may be served chilled or finished up to three days later by baking or sautéing.

To prepare asparagus for cooking: Wash asparagus and trim off the woody ends using a sharp knife or snap off the tough fibrous bottom. Although unnecessary, you may use a vegetable peeler to remove the outer skin of each asparagus starting 2 inches below the flowerette in a firm but gentle downward motion. Peeling is not advised in young, delicate asparagus. Separate asparagus into 2 or 3 bunches and tie each bunch twice, 2 inches apart, with kitchen twine.

To blanch asparagus: Bring a large pot of water to boil and set a large bowl of ice water on the counter. Lightly salt boiling water and lower asparagus bundles into pot. The cooking time will be determined by the age, thickness and ultimate use of the asparagus. To serve chilled, cook until tender but al dente (slightly firm to the tooth, 4 to 8 minutes, checking after 4 minutes. If blanching to finish later, cook until stalks are softened but not yet tender, 3 to 6 minutes, checking after 3 minutes. In either case, immediately lift asparagus out of the boiling water and plunge into the bowl of ice water. (To lift bundles if not using a blanching pot, insert one of the prongs of a long kitchen fork under one of the strings that secure each bunch.) When asparagus is cold to the touch, remove from the ice water, lay on paper toweling and snip off the strings in order to drain properly. Gently pat dry and either use now or roll up carefully in paper towel and place into a heavy plastic bag. Seal and keep refrigerated for up to 3 days.

Watch the video.

Comments (1)

Roasted Pepper Platter with Sliced Tomatoes, Mozzarella, Sweet Onions, Olives & Greens

Ingredients:

  • 3 large ripe beefsteak tomatoes, cut into 1/3-inch thick slices
  • 1 generous pound fresh mozzarella cheese, drained, patted dry, and cut into 1/2-inch slices
  • 2 sweet onions (like Vidalias), peeled and sliced 1/2-inch thick, keeping slices intact
  • 2 each: Roasted Red and Yellow Sweet Bell Peppers peeled, seeded and halved
  • Assorted black and green olives (optional)
  • ½ cup drained capers
  • 1 cup cleaned and dried fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2-pound (8 cups) cleaned, spun-dry and stemmed arugula leaves
  • 1 generous cup shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • Garlic Confit Oil or extra-virgin olive oil
  • Balsamic vinegar

1) To arrange platter and serve: Place sliced tomatoes, onions, mozzarella, roasted peppers and capers, decoratively, on a large platter. Sprinkle the top with capers. Tuck the basil leaves decoratively in between things on the platter, allowing the top 1/3 of the leaves to be visible.

Place the arugula in a bowl and place toss with some of the shaved parmesan. Place another pile of shaved parmesan on top of the greens and place the bowl next to the filled platter, with tongs, so guests can help themselves. Accompany with a carafe of garlic confit oil, or regular extra-virgin olive oil and some balsamic vinaigrette. Always have some Kosher or sea salt and a pepper mill available, to season as needed.

Timing is Everything:

  • The peppers can be roasted 2 days ahead and kept refrigerated, well covered.
  • The greens can be cleaned a day ahead and kept refrigerated, wrapped loosely in paper towels and placed into a large plastic bag.
  • The shaved parmesan can be accomplished early in the day and kept refrigerated, covered. Allow to come close to room temperature, for best flavor.
  • The garlic confit can be made a few days ahead and kept in the refrigerator, in a closed tub or jar.

Watch the video.

Comments (1)

Carrots, Sautéed with Toasted Walnuts and Sliced Calimyrna Figs

Colorful, texturally diverse and really delish, this is a side dish that I think you will be proud to serve any time of the year, but especially on Thanksgiving. Try it and let me know!

Any time I’ve suggested the use of an unfamiliar tool or piece of equipment, or to clarify any culinary terms, go to Kitchen Management for more information.

Click here to see the preview video

Special Equipment

  • 8-quart blanching pot with built-in strainer (optional)

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 pounds carrots, peeled and sliced 1/2-inch thick on the diagonal
  • 1 stick (1/4 pound) butter
  • 1 cup walnuts halves
  • About 9 ounces dried Calimyrna figs (2 cups whole figs)
  • 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf Italian parsley

1) To blanch carrots: Bring a large pot of water to a rapid boil and place a large bowl of ice water on the counter. Add some salt to boiling water, and then stir in sliced carrots. Boil until softened, but not cooked through, about *8 minutes (see note). Drain carrots and immediately plunge into the ice water, swishing the carrots around with your hands to help stop the cooking process. When carrots are cold, drain them and pat dry. Set aside or refrigerate until needed.

* The time required to blanch a given vegetable to reach the desired consistency depends largely on the width, age and overall condition of the vegetable before cooking. Generally, the older the vegetable (as with poultry and meat), the more cooking time it will need. So, a young carrot sliced 1/2-inch thick will require far less cooking than a more mature (wider) carrot which has a thick internal core.

2) To slice figs: Remove the hard stems from figs and slice fruit lengthwise into 1/4-inch wide slices. Cut each slice in half widthwise. You should net 1 rounded cup sliced figs.

3) To pan toast the walnuts: Melt 3 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat in a 12-inch deep-skillet. When bubbling, add walnuts and cook, stirring constantly until toasted and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Remove nuts with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Wipe skillet clean.

4) To sauté carrots: Return skillet to medium heat and add remaining 5 tablespoons butter. When melted and hot, add carrots and cook, stirring and tossing, until almost tender and beginning to caramelize, about 8 minutes. Reduce heat to low, stir in sliced figs and cook with carrots uncovered, for 3 minutes. Add toasted walnuts and cook until hot and the flavors mingle, about 3 minutes. Toss with chopped parsley and adjust seasoning (salt and pepper), as needed.

5) To serve: Pour into a warmed serving bowl and serve hot.

Timing is Everything

• The carrots can be blanched 2 days ahead. After drying, line a bowl with paper toweling and add the carrots. Cover bowl well with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

• The figs can be cut days ahead and kept covered at room temperature.


SHOPPING LIST

At-a-Glance Reminder of Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 pounds carrots, peeled and sliced 1/2-inch thick on the diagonal
  • 1 stick (1/4 pound) butter
  • 1 cup walnuts halves
  • About 9 ounces dried Calimyrna figs (2 cups whole figs)
  • 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf Italian parsley

From the supermarket shelf

  • Dried Calimyrna figs
  • Walnut halves

From the produce aisle

  • 2 ½ pounds fresh carrots
  • Flat-leaf Italian parsley

From the dairy case

  • Unsalted butter

Comments (5)

Stewed Sweet & Sour Red Cabbage

I think if I had to name one side this that’s my husband Jon’s favorite, this is it (and it’s also become a real favorite with my kids!) Although it looks like the pot is too big, trust me, at first the pot is totally full with raw cabbage. It reduces substantially as it braises. Don’t rush things when cooking the cabbage since long, slow simmering is the secret to rendering the shredded leaves into lusciously tender strands that are interestingly sweet, tangy and savory at the same time. Although cabbage is renown for being a perfect partner for roast or sliced duck breast, roast chicken or pork would also be delicious.

Special Equipment:

  • 6-quart, heavy-bottomed pot with lid

For the cabbage:

  • 1 large head red cabbage, any wilted outer leaves removed
  • 2/3 cup defatted, seasoned chicken stock (preferably homemade)
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 generous tablespoon soy sauce (preferably Tamari)
  • 2/3 cup red currant jelly
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 generous tablespoons caraway seeds
  • Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

To prepare the cabbage: Use a sharp 8-or 10-inch chef’s knife, cut cabbage in quarters, through core. Cut out and discard the core from each wedge. Slice each wedge into thin shreds, then heap them in a bowl. Refrigerate until needed.

To cook: Whisk the stock with the cornstarch and tamari. Melt butter in a 6-quart heavy-bottomed nonreactive saucepan, over medium heat. Stir in the cabbage and let it wilt a bit, about 3 minutes. Give the cornstarch mixture a good stir and add it to the cabbage with the jelly, vinegar and caraway seeds. Stir well to combine. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium-high heat and reduce heat to low. Continue to cook, with the cover ajar, stirring occasionally, until the cabbage has become very reduced and tender and any remaining liquid is thick and clings to the cabbage, 1 to 2 hours. Season well with salt and pepper and serve the cabbage piping hot.

Timing is Everything:

This dish can be assembled fully a few hours ahead and reheated gently just before serving.

SHOPPING LIST for Stewed Sweet & Sour Red Cabbage

At-a-Glance Reminder of Ingredients

  • 1 large head red cabbage, any wilted outer leaves removed
  • 2/3 cup defatted, seasoned chicken stock (preferably homemade)
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 generous tablespoon soy sauce (preferably Tamari)
  • 2/3 cup red currant jelly
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 generous tablespoons caraway seeds
  • Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

From the produce aisle:

  • 1 large head red cabbage

From the supermarket shelf:

  • Canned chicken broth (only if not using homemade stock)
  • Cornstarch
  • Soy sauce (preferably tamari)
  • Red currant jelly
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Caraway seeds
  • Salt (preferably Kosher)
  • Black pepper (preferably freshly ground)

From the dairy case:

  • Unsalted butter

Comments (0)

Sautéed Fresh Corn With Onions and Sweet Peppers and Natural Corn Cream

This recipe features one of my favorite ways to prepare fresh corn! The corn kernels are sliced off their cobs and the creamy, delicate substance that I call “corn cream” is scraped from each cob into the kernels. Serve this crisp, colorful and soothing side dish with any grilled, broiled or roasted meat, poultry or fish (it’s especially wonderful with lamb or chicken). And even when not serving a crowd, I usually prepare the entire amount and refrigerate the leftovers to throw into salads, to simmer in soup or as a colorful and textural addition to a rice pilaf.

Any time I’ve suggested a tool, a piece of equipment, or a culinary term that’s unfamiliar to you, you can go to Kitchen Management for more information.

Special Equipment

  • Sharp chef’s knife (8 inches)
  • 12-inch deep-sided skillet

Ingredients:

  • 12 ears fresh corn, outer husks and all silk removed, or 1 pound frozen corn, unthawed
  • 1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) butter, or more, as desired
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 red or green bell pepper, seeded and chopped (you can add some seeded and minced jalapenos, if desired)
  • Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf, Italian parsley or minced fresh chives or cilantro
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream (only if using frozen corn)

1.To remove corn kernels from cobs: Stand the cob on its flat end and, beginning at the pointed top, run the blade of a sharp knife down the cob in a sawing motion. This will release the kernels so they fall onto your work surface. Avoid cutting into the cob with the knife. Instead, allow a small portion of the bottom of each kernel to remain attached to the cob. Scoop up the kernels using a pastry scraper and place them into a bowl.

2. To extract the corn cream: Scrape the milk from each cob by holding the cob so it rests over the edge of the bowl of corn. Position the blade of the knife on the cob so that the top (dull side) is tilted away from you and the sharp edge is toward you. Pull the blade (going away from you) down over the cob in a brisk, firm and repetitive motion. As the corn cream is released from the cob, it will fall into the bowl of corn. Discard empty cobs.

3. To sauté the vegetables and serve:Heat butter in a 12-inch, deep-sided skillet over medium heat and, when bubbling, add the chopped onions. Sauté until softened and very fragrant, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low, add the garlic and cook until the onions are just starting to turn golden, about 5 minutes. Stir in the chopped red pepper and cook for another 3 minutes. Stir the corn with corn cream (or frozen corn with heavy cream) into the skillet and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally over low heat, until the corn is crisp tender and very hot, about 10 minutes.

4. To serve: Add salt and black pepper, to taste, along with the chopped herbs of your choice. If desired, for extra richness of flavor, stir in another 2 to 3 tablespoons of softened butter. Stir until the butter is just melted and the herbs have heated through. Serve hot.

Timing is Everything

Although corn should remain in their husks as long as possible, in a pinch, you can clean the corn and remove the kernels and corn cream as much as one day ahead (especially if using a super-sweet variety). Keep the bowl of corn well-covered and refrigerated since warmth encourages the natural sugar in corn to convert into starch, which adversely affects texture.


SHOPPING LIST

At-a-Glance Reminder of Ingredients

For the Corn with Peppers and Onions:

  • 12 ears fresh corn, outer husks and all silk removed, or 1 pound frozen corn, unthawed
  • 1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) butter, or more, as desired
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 red or green bell pepper, seeded and chopped (you can add some seeded and minced jalapenos, if desired)
  • Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf, Italian parsley or minced fresh chives or cilantro
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream (only if using frozen corn)

From the produce section:

  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 12 large ears fresh corn
  • Garlic
  • 1 red or green bell pepper (jalapenos are an optional addition)
  • Flat-leaf Italian parsley or fresh chives or cilantro

From the dairy case:

  • Heavy Cream (only if using frozen corn)

From the frozen food section:

  • Two bags (one pound each) frozen corn (only if fresh is not available)

Comments (2)

Maple-Basted Delicata Squash

I love to turn people on to a vegetable that they’ve never tried before, and Delicata squash is fabulous! These capsule-shaped, gourd-like squash that boast beautiful beige-to-orange skins that are usually streaked with yellow or green stripes, have a unique texture and flavor that’s a cross between Acorn squash and a creamy sweet potato. Although Delicata squash has a limited season (late September through December), it’s by far my favorite variety. When basted, outside and in, with melted butter and maple syrup and baked until meltingly tender, the skin, unlike most winter squashes, is totally edible, delectable and a great source of fiber.

Although this recipe can be used with Acorn or Sweet Dumpling squash, I’m always saddened when the brief Delicata season comes to an end. When purchasing these gems, look for squash that are deeply colored. The stem end should be completely dry and the size should be between seven and nine inches long with a diameter of about three inches. If you plan to store them, they should feel quite firm. Store them in a cool, dry, well-ventilated place, as you would potatoes. For a great color contrast, many times, I’ll fill the cooked squash halves with cooked green peas.

Any time I’ve suggested a tool, a piece of equipment, or a culinary term that’s unfamiliar to you, you can go to Kitchen Management for more information.

Special Equipment

  • Roasting pan
  • Pastry brush

Ingredients:

  • 3 Delicata squash (or use Acorn squash or allow 1 Sweet Dumpling squash per person)
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted
  • About 1/2 cup pure maple syrup (or use pancake syrup)
  • Kosher or sea salt, to taste
  • Cooked and drained peas, if desired

1) To prepare the squash for cooking: Scrub and dry each squash and slice in half lengthwise using a sharp chef’s knife. Scoop out the seeds and strings, using a spoon. Brush all sides of the squash first with melted butter and then with some syrup. (Reserve any leftover butter and syrup for later.) Sprinkle both sides lightly with salt. Arrange the squash halves (cut side down) in a large roasting pan, in a single layer, and cover the pan (dull side up) with aluminum foil. (If using acorn squash, which has a pointy end on one side, cut the point off so it can sit flat in the pan, after being turned over when cooking. If using Sweet Dumpling squash, slice the top ¼ of off the top. Season the bottom, as directed, for Delicata squash. One serving will be the bottom. Feel free to season and bake the tops, though (seasoned side down), and serve the tops along with the bottoms.)

2) To cook the squash: Preheat the oven to 375oF. Poke a few holes in the foil and bake the squash for 30 minutes. Uncover, baste with more syrup, and turn the squash halves over. Baste the exposed, cut sides of squash with more maple syrup and melted butter. Continue to bake until the flesh is very tender and creamy, and the edges are caramelizing nicely, about 30 to 40 minutes. Since Sweet Dumpling squash are smaller, they will need a bit less cooking time; check after 45 minutes. On the other hand, the thicker skinned Acorn squash might need to cook 15 minutes longer.

3) To serve: Allow a full half of Delicata squash per adult (sometimes more!). Serve hot. If desired, fill the cooked squash with cooked, drained and buttered frozen peas. Remember, the skins are edible and a good source of fiber!

Timing is Everything:

*The squash can be fully assembled early in the day and baked just before serving.

*The squash can be fully assembled a day ahead and kept covered in the refrigerator. Don’t perforate the foil, though, until right before baking and try to bring the squash back to room temperature, or lengthen the cooking time, as needed.


SHOPPING LIST

At-a-Glance Reminder of Ingredients

For the squash :

  • 3 Delicata squash or use Acorn squash (If using Sweet Dumpling squash, allow one whole pumpkin per person)
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted
  • About 1/2 cup pure maple syrup (or use pancake syrup)
  • Kosher or sea salt, to taste

From the supermarket shelf :

  • Maple syrup (pure or your favorite pancake syrup)

From the produce aisle :

  • 3 Delicata squash or use Acorn squash (If using Sweet Dumpling squash, allow one whole pumpkin per person)

From the dairy case :

  • Unsalted butter

From the frozen food section :

  • Frozen peas (if planning on filling the cooked squash)

Comments (2)

Crazy for Mushrooms (Savory Bread Pudding)

Although my husband swears that this mixture is “the best stuffing,” it’s not a stuffing. It does resemble a baked stuffing, though, since the exterior is golden brown and wonderfully crisp on top. But, this savory bread pudding is lighter and creamier than stuffing. This recipe provides a great way to use yesterday’s Italian loaf, since it’s new, slightly drier texture, is now perfectly suited for an absorptive bread pudding. You know, that’s part of the kitchen dance. Utilizing ingredients in ways that will help them shine perfectly, without ever having to apologize for their reincarnation.

Any time I’ve suggested the use of an unfamiliar tool or piece of equipment, or to clarify any culinary terms, go to Kitchen Management for more information.

Special Equipment

  • Food processor
  • 2-quart, oven-to-table baking dish
  • 12-inch, heavy-bottomed, deep-sided skillet
  • Fine-mesh wire sieve, optional
  • Cheese cloth, optional

For the Bread Pudding

  • 4 cups (packed) day-old coarse Breadcrumbs, preferably using crusty Italian bread with sesame seeds
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing the dish, plus 3 tablespoons for sautéing
  • 1/2 cup dried porcini mushrooms
  • 1 1/2 cups boiling water
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups minced yellow onion
  • 2 generous teaspoons minced fresh thyme
  • 10 ounces button mushrooms, wiped clean and chopped
  • 1 3/4 pounds shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and caps wiped clean and chopped
  • 8 ounces Portobello mushrooms (1 or 2 large), stem removed, caps wiped clean and chopped
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 3/4 cups heavy cream
  • 4 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon white truffle oil (optional)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

1) To set up: First lightly toast the bread crumbs on a shallow baking sheet in a 350oF oven, until dry and light golden, about 10 minutes. Keep the oven set at 350F and transfer the crumbs to a mixing bowl. Brush the interior of a 2-quart, oven-to-table baking dish with olive oil.

2) To reconstitute the dried mushrooms: Steep them in the boiling water until supple, 10 to 20 minutes. Use your hand to lift the mushrooms out of the water, squeezing them, gently, to release any excess liquid back into the bowl. Chop the reconstituted mushrooms and set them aside. Place a fine-mesh wire sieve over a bowl and line the sieve with a doubled layer of dampened cheese cloth (see Note). Strain the mushroom liquid through the cheesecloth, into the bowl. Measure out 1/2 cup mushroom liquid and set this aside. Measure the rest, which should be a scant 3/4 cup. (If necessary, add some water to reach 3/4 cup.)
Note: If you don’t have the sieve or cheese cloth, carefully pour the liquid, as directed, leaving behind any sediment from the bottom.

3) To sauté the vegetables: Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a 12-inch, heavy-bottomed deep-sided skillet over medium heat. When the butter is hot and bubbling, stir in the minced onions and cook them, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 4 minutes. Add half the minced thyme and some salt and black pepper, to taste. Transfer the onions to the bowl of bread crumbs and, without wiping out the pan, put it back over medium-high heat with 3 tablespoons of olive oil. When the oil is hot, stir in all the chopped fresh mushrooms and, when wilted, stir in the minced garlic and let the mushrooms cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until golden and any released liquid has evaporated. Stir in the remaining thyme, the chopped reconstituted mushrooms and salt and pepper, to taste. When hot, transfer the mushrooms to the bowl of bread crumbs and onions.
 
4) To deglaze the pan: Replace the pan over high heat and add 1/2 cup of the mushroom liquid. As the liquid bubbles, use the flat edge of a wooden spatula to release any clinging bits of mushrooms from the bottom of the pan and reduce the liquid to a generous 1/4 cup. Pour this reduction into the bowl of bread crumbs and vegetables.

5) To assemble the bread pudding and bake: Preheat the oven to 350oF. Use a whisk to combine the cream with the eggs and 3/4 cup mushroom liquid. Stir in the truffle oil, if using, and season the custard with salt and pepper. When ready to bake, pour the custard over the bread mixture and fold through to combine well. Transfer this to the prepared baking dish and dot the top with 1 tablespoon of butter. Bake the bread pudding, uncovered, for 25 minutes. Sprinkle the parmesan cheese over the top and continue to bake, until the top is golden, the pudding is swollen and the custard is set, about 25 minutes more. Serve piping hot.

Timing is Everything:
• If using fresh bread, make the crumbs one day ahead. Or, make the crumbs weeks ahead and freeze them in doubled sealed heavy-duty plastic bags. No need to thaw before using.
• All of the vegetables can be assembled one day ahead and kept refrigerated, in securely covered bowls.
• For best texture, I suggest baking the bread pudding soon after assembling. However, you can put combine the bread with the sautéed vegetable mixture and mix your custard ingredients, up to two hours ahead, and keep them on your counter at a comfortable room temperature (separately).


SHOPPING LIST

At-a-Glance Reminder of Ingredients

For the bread pudding:

  • 4 cups (packed) day-old coarse Breadcrumbs, preferably using crusty Italian bread with sesame seeds
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing the dish, plus 3 tablespoons for sautéing
  • 1/2 cup dried porcini mushrooms
  • 1 1/2 cups boiling water
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups minced yellow onion
  • 2 generous teaspoons minced fresh thyme
  • 10 ounces button mushrooms, wiped clean and chopped
  • 1 3/4 pounds shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and caps wiped clean and chopped
  • 8 ounces Portobello mushrooms (1 or 2 large), stem removed, caps wiped clean and chopped
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 3/4 cups heavy cream
  • 4 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon white truffle oil (optional)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

From the supermarket shelf:

  • Crusty Italian bread
  • Dried porcini mushrooms
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • White truffle oil (optional)

From the produce aisle:

  • Yellow onion
  • Fresh thyme
  • Button mushrooms
  • Shiitake mushrooms
  • Portobello mushrooms
  • Garlic

From the cheese case:

  • Parmigiano-Reggiano

From the the refrigerated section:

  • Extra-large eggs

From the dairy case:

  • Heavy cream
  • Unsalted butter

Comments (1)

Corn on the Cob… Basted with Scampi-Butter, & Grilled or Roasted

In this recipe, fresh corn is basted with a savory “scampi” butter that’s imbued with the intense flavor of sautéed minced scallions and garlic. Then, the seasoned ears are wrapped securely in their husks or with foil and either cooked on the grill or roasted in the oven. Since the corn is already pre-seasoned, there’s no need to pass additional butter, at the table. I would, however, provide additional salt. Another great reason to cook corn pre-wrapped is that they stay hot longer. Choose uniform looking, young specimens and, when shopping, it’s a good idea to buy and extra ear and use that one for testing for doneness.

Lastly, if you’re not fond of eating corn directly from the cob, see the end of this recipe for instructions to slice the kernels off the cobs and then sauté them, in the scampi butter or check out another recipe that’s a favorite with my family for Sautéed Fresh Corn.

Any time I’ve suggested a tool, a piece of equipment, or a culinary term that’s unfamiliar to you, you can go to Kitchen Management for more information.

Special Equipment

  • Gas or charcoal grill (or, if roasting, a large, dark, shallow baking sheet)

For the corn:

  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) melted unsalted butter (or use some or all Garlic Confit Oil or regular extra-virgin olive oil)
  • 1/2 cup minced scallions (use the white and 1 1/2 inches of the green)
    4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons minced flat-leaf Italian parsley or thinly sliced chives
  • Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 8 ears of yellow, white or bi-colored corn, outer husks pulled back (and kept attached at one end) and all silk removed (If your corn has had the husk and silk removed, you’ll use aluminum foil.)

1. To season and wrap the corn: First melt the butter (or heat the oil) in a 10-inch heavy-bottomed skillet, over medium heat and, when hot and bubbling, stir in the scallions and garlic. Sauté the vegetables until softened, about 4 minutes, then stir in the herbs and some salt and black pepper, to taste. Let the scallion butter cool to just warm. One by one, brush the corn liberally with the scampi mixture and sprinkle lightly with salt. Pull the husks back up, surrounding the corn fully, then place a piece of aluminum foil at the top and scrunch it, securing the husks closed. Alternatively, tear off 8 pieces of aluminum foil, large enough to wrap around each ear of corn, going around 2 or 3 times. One by one, place a cleaned ear of corn on the shiny side of a piece of foil and, after liberally brushing with the scampi mixture, wrap up each ear in the foil, enclosing it completely.

2. To cook the corn on the grill: Either heat a gas grill to the highest setting, with the lid down or, if using a charcoal grill, heat the coals and get them and the food grate very hot. Open the lid and place the wrapped corn on the hot grate, over direct heat, and cook the corn, turning the ears occasionally, until some of the kernels turn golden, and all of them are crisp tender, 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the intensity of heat. Alternatively (depending on what else is cooking on the grill) place the corn to the side, over indirect heat, and cook the ears, covered, turning occasionally until done, 12 to 20 minutes.

3. To roast the corn in the oven: Place a dark shallow baking sheet into the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 450oF for at least 30 minutes. Place the wrapped corn on the hot sheet for 10 to 15 minutes or until the same texture and appearance is achieved, as when cooking on a grill. (Alternatively, you can sear the corn on a hot stove-top grill pan, occasionally turning the cobs, to help them to caramelize in random spots. After about 8 minutes, cover the pan with a large, inverted, heatproof (stainless steel) bowl and turn the heat down to low. Continue cooking the corn until tender, about 5 more minutes.)

4. To serve: Pile the still-wrapped corn on a large serving platter and let each person help themselves, using tongs. Pass a dish with kosher or sea salt (or a salt mill), at the table.

5. To serve this corn dish, without the cobs: Before cooking, use a sharp chef’s knife to cut off the corn kernels. To do this, stand a completely clean ear of corn on its blunt end, inside a wide shallow bowl. Use the knife to slice down the shaft of the ear, repeatedly, until all the kernels have fallen into the bowl. Try not to slice too deep, however, or you’ll get some of the tough cob intermingled with the kernels. When finished removing all the kernels, use the blade of the knife to scrape the cob, going away from you, releasing it’s rich milk into the bowl of corn. Assemble the scampi butter, as directed (without adding the parsley or chives) then sauté the corn in the hot scampi butter, in a 12-inch, deep-sided skillet, over medium heat, until the kernels are crisp tender, about 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in the herbs and some salt and pepper, to taste. Serve hot.

Timing is Everything

  • The scallions and the garlic can be mince one day ahead and kept refrigerated in separate, small well covered bowls.
  • The corn can be seasoned and wrapped one day ahead and kept refrigerated, stored in a sealed jumbo plastic bag.

SHOPPING LIST

At-a-Glance Reminder of Ingredients

For the Corn:

  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) melted butter (or use some or all Garlic Confit Oil or regular extra-virgin olive oil)
  • 1/2 cup minced scallions (use the white and 1 1/2 inches of the green)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons minced flat-leaf Italian parsley or thinly sliced chives
  • Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 8 ears of yellow, white or bi-colored corn, outer husks pulled back (and kept attached at one end) and all silk removed (If your corn has had the husk and silk removed, you’ll use aluminum foil.)

From the supermarket shelf:

  • Extra-virgin olive oil (only if not using butter)
  • Aluminum foil (only if not rewrapping corn in its husk, after removing silk and applying the seasoning mixture)

From the dairy case:

  • Butter

From the produce aisle:

  • 8 ears of fresh corn
  • Scallions (1 large bunch)
  • Garlic
  • Flat-leaf Italian parsley or chives

Comments (1)

Latkes, Otherwise Known as Potato Pancakes

Crisp on the outside and wonderfully seasoned on the inside, these oil-fried potato pancakes are served during the Jewish holiday of Chanukah. Latkes, like most other traditional Jewish foods, represent much more than just something wonderful to eat. Chanukah commemorates the Jews’ defeat of the Syrians some two thousand years ago and the relighting of the eternal oil in the temple of Jerusalem. Thus during the eight nights of celebration, Jewish people all over the world light their menorahs (usually using candles instead of oil) and deliberately use oil to fry various foods. In this way, the Jewish heritage is kept alive through this annual re-enactment of events that symbolize the struggle, perseverance and ultimate survival of the Jewish people. However, this is one of those traditional recipes that tastes so great that anyone of any heritage will adore and enjoy serving it throughout the year.

Serve these potato pancakes hot, accompanied with Homemade Applesauce.

Any time I’ve suggested a tool, a piece of equipment, or a culinary term that’s unfamiliar to you, you can go to Kitchen Management for more information.

Special Equipment

  • Food processor or hand-held grater
  • Triple-mesh strainer
  • 10- to 12-inch heavy-bottomed skillet, preferably seasoned cast iron
  • Deep-fry thermometer (optional)
  • Small gravy ladle or 1/4 cup dry measuring cup
  • Spatter shield (optional)

Ingredients

  • 4 large Idaho baking potatoes
  • 1 medium-sized yellow onion, peeled and cut into wedges
  • 1 extra-large egg
  • 4 tablespoons matzo meal
  • 2 generous tablespoons chopped flat-leaf Italian parsley and/or fresh chives
  • Kosher or sea salt, as needed
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Flavorless vegetable oil or mild peanut oil, as needed for frying
  • Chopped chives, for garnish

1)To prepare and puree or grate the potatoes: Scrub and peel the potatoes and place them in a bowl of ice water to prevent discoloration and to remove some of the excess surface starch. When ready to fry, remove the potatoes from the water, rub dry and, if using a food processor, cut into chunks. Place the potatoes with the onion wedges into the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Process until fairly smooth. Pour mixture into a triple-mesh strainer that sits over another bowl and place a doubled sheet of paper toweling directly on top of the potato mixture to keep it from turning brown. Allow to drain for 3 to 5 minutes, pressing gently on the paper towels to help remove excess liquid. Alternatively, for a more textural mixture, rub the potatoes and onion against a hand-held grater over a bowl and drain as directed above.

2)To heat the oil: Cover a few wire cooling racks with a double-thickness of paper toweling. Pour vegetable oil into a 10-to 12-inch skillet (preferably cast iron) to measure 1/2 inch. Heat until the top looks shimmering but not smoking (365o F).

3)To assemble the batter: Pour the drained potato mixture into a large mixing bowl. Add the egg, matzo meal, chopped parsley and/or chives and mix well with potato mixture. Season generously with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

4)To fry pancakes: Using 1/4 cup dry measuring cup, scoop portions of potato mixture and ease it into the hot oil. Use the bottom of the dry measure or a flat turning spatula (not a spoon) to flatten slightly. Fry until golden brown on both sides (turning once) and, using 2 spatulas to help press out excess oil, carefully remove each cooked pancake from the hot oil to drain on the prepared wire racks. Continue frying until you’ve finished the batter.

5)To serve: Serve hot on a warmed serving tray accompanied by fresh applesauce and, if desired, just before serving, sprinkle the tops of the latkes lightly with chives and salt. (Don’t salt the latkes until just before serving since applying salt to the exterior in advance will cause the potatoes to lose some of their crispness.)

Timing is Everything:

  • The potatoes can be peeled early in the day and kept totally submerged in water. Leave them at room temperature for a few hours or refrigerate for longer storage.
  • The latkes can be cooked up to 4 hours in advance and left at a comfortable room temperature. To reheat, place them on a wire rack that sits within a large shallow baking sheet in a preheated 350o F oven until hot and crisp, about 15 minutes.
  • Cooked latkes also can be frozen in a heavy freezer container separated by sheets of waxed paper. (If planning to freeze them, remove from hot oil when lightly golden but not a deep brown.) To reheat, don’t thaw but heat on a wire rack within a shallow baking sheet in a preheated 400o F oven until hot throughout, brown and very crisp, about 20 minutes. Cover pancakes loosely with aluminum foil (shiny side up to deflect heat), if the latkes start to become overly brown.

SHOPPING LIST

At-a-Glance Reminder of Ingredients:

Ingredients:

4 large Idaho baking potatoes
1 medium-sized yellow onion, peeled and cut into wedges
1 extra-large egg
4 tablespoons matzo meal
2 generous tablespoons chopped flat-leaf Italian parsley and/or fresh chives
Kosher or sea salt, as needed
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Flavorless vegetable oil or mild peanut oil, as needed for frying
Chopped chives, for garnish

From the produce aisle:
4 large Idaho potatoes
1 medium-sized yellow onion
Flat-leaf Italian parsley
Chives
Coarse kosher or sea salt

From the supermarket shelf:
Vegetable oil
Matzo meal

From the refrigerated section:
Extra-large eggs

Comments (5)

Creamy Coleslaw

Here’s a big batch of my family’s favorite coleslaw. It’s not only crunchy, savory and spicy, but this colorful mix makes a truly vibrant presentation on a buffet table. Feel free to halve this for a smaller group. Although a food processor does the job of slicing and shredding in seconds, and is my preferred way to make coleslaw, you can also accomplish things by hand, with a sharp chef’s knife and box-style shredder. I also think using one’s hands is the best way to work the dressing into the vegetable mixture, so I suggest having a box of thin disposable plastic gloves on hand. By the way, coleslaw stays good in the fridge for several days, so don’t throw out any leftovers!

Any time I’ve suggested a tool, a piece of equipment, or a culinary term that’s unfamiliar to you, you can go to Kitchen Management for more information.

Special Equipment

  • Food processor: optional but highly suggested
  • Disposable plastic gloves

Ingredients for the Dressing:

  • 1 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 to 3 garlic cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press
  • 1/3 cup white wine vinegar
  • 3 rounded tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 rounded tablespoons whole celery seed
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • Good pinch of cayenne pepper or several dashes of your favorite hot sauce

For the Vegetables:

  • 1 small-medium head green cabbage, cored and very thinly sliced
  • 1 small head purple cabbage, cored and very thinly sliced
  • 1 small knob celery root, peeled, quartered and shredded (leave out, if unavailable)
  • 4 carrots, peeled and shredded
  • 1 small red onion, shredded or sliced into very thin strips
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, shredded, chopped or sliced into very thin strips

1) To assemble coleslaw: Combine all of the dressing ingredients and pour over the vegetables, which should be in a large mixing bowl. Wearing disposable gloves, work the dressing into the coleslaw mixture, coating it evenly. (The vegetables should be well coated but not swimming in dressing. Store any left over dressing in the refrigerator, until later.) Refrigerate coleslaw (well covered) for at least 2 hours before serving.

2) To serve: Just before serving, toss vegetables with any additional reserved dressing, if needed, and adjust seasoning with additional salt and black pepper.

Timing is Everything:

  • You can prepare both the salad and dressing ingredients two days ahead and store them separately in the refrigerator. Dress the vegetable mixture up to 24 hours ahead of serving. Keep leftovers in the refrigerator, in a securely covered container, to enjoy for several more days.

SHOPPING LIST

At-a-Glance Reminder of Ingredients

Ingredients for the Dressing:

  • 1 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 to 3 garlic cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press
  • 1/3 cup white wine vinegar
  • 3 rounded tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 rounded tablespoons whole celery seed
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • Good pinch of cayenne pepper or several dashes of your favorite hot sauce

For the Vegetables :

  • 1 small-medium head green cabbage, cored and very thinly sliced
  • 1 small head purple cabbage, cored and very thinly sliced
  • 1 small knob celery root, peeled, quartered and shredded (leave out, if unavailable)
  • 4 carrots, peeled and shredded
  • 1 small red onion, shredded or sliced into very thin strips
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, shredded, chopped or sliced into very thin strips

From the supermarket shelf:

  • Mayonnaise
  • White wine vinegar
  • Granulated sugar
  • Bottled hot sauce (only if not using cayenne pepper)

From the produce aisle :

  • Garlic
  • 1 medium head green cabbage
  • 1 medium head purple cabbage
  • 1 knob celery root (when in season)
  • 1 bunch fresh carrots
  • 1 small red onion
  • 1 medium green bell pepper

From the dairy case :

  • Sour cream

Comments (0)

Broccoli Rabe, Garlic Seared-With Or Without Pasta

If you’ve never tried this intensely flavored vegetable, sometimes labeled “bitter broccoli,” you’re in for a treat! Broccoli rabe (or brocoletti di rape, as it’s called in Italy) was once scarce in the United States. But it’s now available year-round in most well-stocked supermarkets.

In addition to being more flavorful than regular broccoli, Italian broccoli needs little trimming before being cooked. When seared in hot olive oil, laced with lots of garlic and some crushed red pepper flakes, and then simmered in a rich chicken (or vegetable) broth, there’s hardly a more flavorful vegetable around. Whether served alone as a side dish, or over piping-hot rigatoni noodles as a main dish, broccoli rabe provides a nutritious, fiber-filled addition to your menu (that’s also quick and easy to prepare)!

Any time I’ve suggested a tool, a piece of equipment, or a culinary term that’s unfamiliar to you, you can go to Kitchen Management for more information.

Special Equipment

  • 8-quart blanching pot with built-in strainer, optional and only if including pasta

Ingredients:

  • 2 large bunches broccoli rabe (about 2 1/2 pounds before trimming)
  • 2 cups chicken stock or vegetable broth (3 cups if using pasta)
  • 1/2 cup best-quality, extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic kept whole, plus 3 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon salt, for pasta water, if using
  • 1 pound dried rigatoni pasta, optional
  • Kosher salt or sea salt to taste
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Melted butter and additional stock, if using pasta

1) To set up: If including pasta, bring an 8-quart pot of water to a boil. If not using pasta, bring a small saucepan of water to a rolling boil and drop the whole cloves of garlic into the pot. Boil the garlic, uncovered, for 2 full minutes. Remove the garlic, using a slotted utensil, and cut each parboiled clove in half, lengthwise. Set the garlic aside and, if making pasta, reduce the heat under the pot of water so it simmers until you’re ready to cook the rigatoni. Thoroughly rinse the broccoli and pat dry. Do not remove the leaves and only trim off the very bottom of the stalks; everything else is to be cooked and eaten. Cut the stalks and leaves into 2 to 3-inch lengths.

2) To cook the broccoli: Heat a 12-inch, deep-sided skillet over medium heat. Add the olive oil and, when hot, add the parboiled garlic. Stir the garlic frequently, in the hot oil, until it turns golden brown, being careful not to let it burn. Use a slotted utensil to remove the garlic to a bowl. Increase the heat to high and, all at once, add the broccoli rabe and crushed red pepper flakes to the pan. Use tongs to turn the vegetable, helping it to wilt in the hot oil, then scatter on the browned garlic, the raw garlic, 2 cups of stock and some salt. Cover the pan and bring the stock to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer the broccoli until tender but still textural, about 8 to 10 minutes (the leaves will be nice and wilted, the stalks will be tender, but will retain a texture that’s slightly “al dente”). Season with salt and pepper to taste.

3) If using pasta: Return pot of water back to a rapid boil, over high heat. Just after searing the broccoli rabe in hot oil, add salt to the pot of water and then add the rigatoni. (This is when you’d add the garlic, stock, etc., to the broccoli.) Cook the pasta until “al dente,” according to the package directions, checking pasta frequently to avoid overcooking. Drain the pasta, allowing some of the cooking water to adhere to the tubes. The pasta and broccoli should be done at about the same time, if not, let the broccoli sit, covered, on the hot, turned off burner.

4) To serve: Put individual portions of the broccoli and broth into warmed bowls (either alone) or ladle it over hot cooked pasta. (If using pasta, I like to coat the cooked tubes in a combination of melted butter and some additional hot stock.) Lightly sprinkle with salt and serve immediately, passing grated or shaved Pecorino Romano or Parmesan at the table, along with a peppermill.


SHOPPING LIST

At-a-glance reminder of ingredients list

  • 2 large bunches broccoli rabe (about 2 1/2 pounds before trimming)
  • 2 cups chicken stock or vegetable broth (3 cups if using pasta)
  • 1/2 cup best-quality, extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic kept whole, plus 3 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon salt, for pasta water, if using
  • 1 pound dried rigatoni pasta, optional
  • Kosher salt or sea salt to taste
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Melted butter and additional stock, if using pasta

From the supermarket shelf:

  • 1 pound dried rigatoni pasta (only if serving the broccoli over pasta)
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Chicken or vegetable broth (only if not using homemade Chicken Stock)

From the spice section:

  • Crushed red pepper flakes
  • Salt and pepper

From the produce section:

  • 2 large bunches broccoli rabe (about 2 ½ pounds)
  • Garlic (1 head)

From the dairy case:

  • Wedge of Pecorino Romano of Reggiano-Parmigiano cheese
  • Butter (if using pasta)

Comments (0)

Cream-Cheesy Spinach-Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

Now, this is a substantial side dish! Actually, it’s a side dish that could be considered an entrée, with one or two other vegetables and a grain dish on the plate. I came up with this recipe when I saw that I had some chive cream cheese in the fridge that I wanted to use before it became over-the-hill. I decided to make a quick “creamed spinach” by stirring some of the chive cream cheese into hot, freshly cooked spinach. Then I piled the creamed spinach on top of cooked Portobello mushroom caps and then topped the whole thing off with grated cheese. After baking, the stuffed mushrooms were truly delicious and incredibly substantial.

If you don’t feel like making your own chive or scallion cream cheese, just pick some up at the neighborhood bagel shop. That will work perfectly in this recipe.

Anytime I’ve suggested a tool or a piece of equipment or a culinary term that’s unfamiliar, go to Kitchen Management to get more information.

Special Equipment

  • 6-to 8-quart heavy-bottomed saucepan with lid
  • Pastry brush
  • Stove-top grill pan or large non-stick skillet or broiler pan
  • Food processor to grate cheese, unless using cheese that’s pre-grated

Ingredients:

    • 3 packages fresh spinach (10 ounces each) stemmed, thoroughly washed and spun dry (or use 4 packages frozen leaf spinach, thawed, cooked and drained)
    • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil or Garlic Confit oil, or more, as needed
    • 2/3 to 3/4 cup scallion or chive cream cheese (mix 12 ounces whipped cream cheese with ½ cup minced scallions or snipped fresh chives)
    • 8 Portobello mushrooms (with caps 4 to 5 inches in diameter), stems removed and caps wiped clean
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme (optional)
    • Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
    • 1 generous cup shredded or grated cheese (mix Parmigiano-Reggiano and either Jarlsberg, Swiss, Cheddar or Muenster)
  • 1. To make the filling: After cleaning and drying the spinach leaves, heat 4 tablespoons of the olive or Garlic Confit oil in a 6-to 8-quart, heavy-bottomed saucepan over high heat. When the oil is hot, add the spinach leaves, by the handful, using tongs to help wilt the leaves, creating the room for more spinach to be added. When all the leaves are in the pan, toss them in the oil and apply the lid. Reduce the heat to low and cook the leaves until just tender, stirring occasionally, 3 to 4 minutes. Place a medium-mesh sieve over another bowl and pour the cooked spinach into the sieve, allowing any liquid to fall through the sieve and into the bowl. Place a bowl on top of the spinach, helping to release more of the liquid. (You can reserve the flavorful spinach liquid and use it to cook rice.) Put the hot spinach in an empty bowl and stir in the scallion (or chive) cream cheese. When homogenous, season the filling with salt and pepper to taste.
  • 2. To season and cook the mushrooms: After removing the stems and cleaning the mushroom caps, brush them, on both sides, with a mixture of the remaining extra-virgin olive oil, minced garlic, black pepper and thyme, if using. Heat a grill pan or a large nonstick skillet over high heat (turn on your exhaust fan). Alternatively, preheat the broiler with the rack as close as possible to the heating element. Sprinkle the mushroom caps lightly, but evenly, with salt. Grill, sear or broil the seasoned caps, turning once, until deeply colored and tender, about 4 to 6 minutes, total (brush with more olive oil, while cooking, if they seem at all dry). Place the cooked mushroom caps, gill sides up, on a baking sheet, lined with aluminum foil (shiny side up).
  • 3. To assemble and bake the stuffed mushrooms: Preheat the oven to 375°F with the rack in the second closest position to the heating element. Spread the spinach stuffing equally among all the mushrooms, mounding slightly, then sprinkle the mixed cheese over the filling. Give one more application of pepper. Bake the mushrooms, uncovered, until the filling is piping hot and the cheese is melted, 20 to 30 minutes. If the cheese isn’t as luscious looking as you’d like, broil the tops for a minute or two. Serve hot.
  • Timing is Everything

    • If making the scallion cream cheese, it can be made several days ahead (up to 3) and kept refrigerated, securely covered.
    • The spinach can be cleaned two days ahead and kept refrigerated in a large freezer bag. (Line the bag with some paper towels to absorb any excess moisture.)
    • The mushrooms can be seasoned a day ahead of cooking and kept refrigerated.
    • The mushrooms can be stuffed a day ahead and kept refrigerated, well covered. Bring close to room temperature before baking or adjust (lengthen) the baking time, accordingly.

    SHOPPING LIST

    At-a-Glance Reminder of Ingredients

    • 3 packages fresh spinach (10 ounces each) stemmed, thoroughly washed and spun dry (or use 4 packages frozen leaf spinach, thawed, cooked and drained)
    • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil or Garlic Confit oil, or more, as needed
    • 2/3 to ¾ cup scallion or chive cream cheese (mix 12 ounces whipped cream cheese with ½ cup minced scallions or snipped fresh chives)
    • 8 Portobello mushrooms (with caps 4 to 5 inches in diameter), stems removed and caps wiped clean
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme (optional)
    • Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
    • 1 generous cup shredded or grated cheese (mix Parmigiano-Reggiano and either Jarlsberg, Swiss, Cheddar or Muenster)

    From the produce section:

    • 3 bags fresh spinach (10 ounces each) or use 4 boxes frozen leaf spinach
    • 8 whole Portobello mushrooms
    • Garlic (amount will depend on if using Garlic Confit oil)
    • Fresh thyme (optional)
    • Scallions (1 large bunch) or 2 bunches fresh chives

    From the dairy case:

    • 12 ounces whipped cream cheese
    • Best-quality Reggiano-Parmesan cheese
    • Jarlsberg, Swiss, Cheddar or Muenster cheese

    From the supermarket shelf:

    • Extra-virgin olive oil
    • Salt and whole black peppercorn

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