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Fun With Vegetables

Posted by johnliu (My Page) on
Sun, Jan 19, 14 at 12:43

One of my cooking goals this year is to get better with vegetables. I do okay with simple veg dishes, but I need to learn a wider "vocabulary" of ingredients and flavor combinations.

We had a dinner here last night. I made an effort to go out of my comfort zone with the veg dishes and to pair them with fairly simple meat dishes.

The appetizer was a puree of roasted beet, roasted elephant garlic, chopped dates, a Serrano chili, and Greek yoghurt. Plenty of salt and coarse pepper, and a little vinegar too. For service, you stir in soft goat cheese, crushed nuts and some minced green onions. This was very popular.

The salad was salted and roasted cauliflower with pomegranate seeds, almonds, parsley, dressed with olive oil and a little vinegar. This didn't get much comment, it may have been rather bland.

I also made a bean salad that was blanched green beans, roasted strips of orange and yellow peppers, and parsley. The dressing was olive oil in which were very briefly cooked: sliced garlic, drained capers, cumin and coriander seeds. Then you add a lot of lemon zest, some lemon juice, crushed tarragon and crushed mint leaves, salt and pepper.

My friend brought an eggplant dish that uses a lot of white poppyseed. I've never heard of white poppyseed. He said it is popular in Indian cooking.

The meat dishes were pork belly (daughter's request) and Coq au Vin. After the chicken was browned, marinated in wine overnight, and stewed in the wine, I added some tendons and mushrooms stems to the wine cooking liquid and reduced it down by half, strained out the solids, thickened further with a little flour, and returned the chicken to the sauce to finish cooking. The pearl onions, mushrooms, and lardons were cooked and served separately. I like to keep those out of the sauce until service, as they get soggy. I chose to make Coq au Vin because my Indian friend doesn't eat beef and because it is a relatively inexpensive main course. Basically two chickens, two bottles of super-cheap red wine (Two Buck Chuck - which is actually $3/bottle now - works fine), a little bacon and a few pantry veggies, feeds twelve easily and looks reasonably showy. The chicken carcasses made stock which was used to cook a chicken-y rice, since something has to soak up all that sauce. I put beets into the cooking rice to make it a more interesting color.

For Christmas, I received the cookbook "Jerusalem" that is inspiring a lot of my recent meals. The veg dishes mentioned above come from that book, with a few changes.

What interesting vegetable dishes, and cookbooks, would you recommend, to expand the vocabulary of a "meat and potatoes" cook? I'm especially interested in combinations of sweet + savory, and in root vegetables.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Fun With Vegetables

This is the bean salad before tossing

 photo 75897854-DB3F-4C7A-AEBA-03A2A965A272_zpso32ss7im.jpg

And the maybe-boring cauliflower salad

 photo FC994D89-ADFC-4FEB-9A58-A5107521623C_zps3jdalnx8.jpg


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RE: Fun With Vegetables

John your salads look great. I'll be watching this thread to see what people post. One of my goals this year is to eat more vegetarian / vegan dishes.

One of my favorite vegan sites is Post Punk Kitchen. I've made a few dishes from here for vegans and they've been happy with them. My meat and potatoes DH even ate them without complaint!

Here is a link that might be useful: Post Punk Kitchen


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RE: Fun With Vegetables

John, your vegetables look delicious, I'd love to try any of them.

Right now I've been re-reading "Tender" by Nigel Slater. It's a cookbook sent to me by Kat/Rosewitch, and it's "a man and his vegetable patch", LOL.

Very entertaining and some interesting vegetable recipes too.

Annie


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RE: Fun With Vegetables

Very colorful salads, John!

Cooking vegetables is interesting, Infinite colors, shapes, tastes and textures.

As in the "60 Minutes" segment, Jose Andres called meat "overrated" and "slightly boring," saying, "I believe the future is vegetables and fruits. They are so much more sexier than a piece of chicken... Let's compare a chicken breast, the best chicken breast from the best farm with a beautiful pineapple. Cut the pineapple, already the aromas are inundating the entire kitchen. Acidity. Sour after notes, touches of passion fruit."

Have fun, cook more vegetables.

dcarch


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RE: Fun With Vegetables

I tried again tonight, this time a mushroom dish. The Chinese grocery sells a pound of chanterelle-looking mushrooms for $3. I am not sure what kind of mushrooms they are, but when heavily browned in butter and oil, they are tasty. Combined with arugula, slivered green onions, almonds sautéed in oil, pomegranate seeds (left over from yesterday), dried blueberries (an unexpected pantry find), garlic and cumin and coriander, carmelized onions, cubed cheese (should have shredded it, the cubes look odd ), grated carrot, and a vinaigrette dressing.

 photo 9B47AFB8-E6D4-49FD-B24B-1CFF92F6CBAB_zpscd6wgd9r.jpg

The dried blueberries were great. I'm going to think of a way to combine those with meat - maybe lamb,


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RE: Fun With Vegetables

I think you're doing too much! Mushrooms that have already been well doused in butter and oil don't want to be lashed with vinaigrette unless you're really trying hard for a heart attack!
Do you like the actual flavour of the veggies? You're masking them with all those ingredients.
Slow down and try going more "bring out the flavour" of one or 2. For example, I love the combination of a filet of pork and a puree of celeriac. With a little well-flavoured jus on the side.
A carrot and coriander mousse is lovely with roasted monkfish wrapped in bacon.

This post was edited by islay_corbel on Mon, Jan 20, 14 at 4:11


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RE: Fun With Vegetables

Expand? I'd suggest the Mayo Clinic Williams-Sonoma cookbook. It's not that it's all about vegetables, but eating healthy (that with which Mayo concerns themselves). Consequently, vegetables are a solid source of their recipes. I have tried one or two from the pages because I wanted to try what I already ate, but in new ways. I'm still too chicken to delve too awfully much, but when I have, I've been pleased. Here's a list of the recipes, and if you click on the link to the recipe name, you'll get a list of the ingredients. Hope you succeed where I haven't. YET. I will. I need to.

Here is a link that might be useful: Mayo Clinic Williams-Sonoma cookbook


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RE: Fun With Vegetables

John, I beg to differ - you're much more than a "meat and potatoes cook." That dinner you treated me and my family to is proof of that.

I think the dishes you describe, especially the pureed beet, etc. one in your original post, sound very tasty. I'd even like the cauliflower one, since I'm a fan of cauliflower, although I've never eaten pomegranate seeds or any part of a pomegranate. (I know, I should try one some time.)

I think Islay makes an interesting point. I've been guilty of muddying dishes by putting too many ingredients into them. It's mainly when I'm making a one pot meal, and I'm cleaning out the fridge, or scrambling to make something hearty. I tend to keep adding and adding till it just doesn't really taste like anything. That being said, I think your mushroom dish looks delicious.

My daughter gave me a new cookbook for Christmas (actually, I just received it a couple of weeks ago) I'm going to be experimenting with. It's a Spanish cookbook called Rustica, by Frank Camorra and Richard Cornish. The first thing I noticed about it was that Spanish cuisine uses lots and lots of olive oil. That's okay, I like olive oil. The second thing I noticed is that it uses lots of garlic. That's okay, too, as I love garlic. I also noticed it's got lots of fish and meat recipes, but it does have a good section with vegetables. Some of the veggie dishes in this book are, Green Beans with Garlic Confit, Braised Swiss Chard, White Beans with Wild Mushrooms, Rice with Wild Mushrooms, (and this sounds the best) Soft Potatoes and Onions with Mushrooms Thinkened with Egg. I'll be trying some of these the following weeks and report back to you. By the way, this book not only has interesting looking recipes for all the food groups, it's very well written and entertaining.

Sally


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RE: Fun With Vegetables

We like a simple salad of baby spinach leaves, cubes of roasted pumpkin or sweet potato, blobs of oil-marinated soft goat cheese and toasted pine nuts. Dressing is some of the cheese oil with or without a little balsamic vinegar. For DH who dislikes pumpkin/sweet potato, I sub cubed canned beets.
On a recent trip to Tasmania we had a yummy salad with lettuce (from memory it was the fancier kinds, not iceberg), discs of cooked, cold zucchini, chunks of soft feta, toasted hazelnuts and currants. Don't recall the dressing but it was probably a very simple one as the flavour didn't dominate.


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RE: Fun With Vegetables

My feeling, which may be naive, is that the simpler sort of veg dish that concentrates on the pure and intense flavors of one or two key veg, tend to be "side dishes" rather than main dishes. I'm sure there are exceptions to that rule. I want to learn to make veg dishes that are complex and interesting and substantial enough to be main courses, if necessary in a vegetarian dinner.

In my previous bout of veg-enthusiasm, I used vegetarian cookbooks like "The Greens" book (Madison). I learned some things and some of those dishes were staples in our house for a long time. I've also enjoyed veg side recipes from some more general cookbooks. The French ones often have sublime treatments for veg.


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RE: Fun With Vegetables

Why not just investigate vegetarian cooking more? I've mentioned this book several times on here because it's so good - an American cook called Martha Rose Shulman's "Mediterranean cooking". Delicious, healthy, endlessly edible proper food.
Personally, I'm not a fan of strange combinations - perhaps it comes from living here for so long that I'm a bit "French" in my views!!! Traditional all the way! Well, most of it.


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RE: Fun With Vegetables

I misunderstood what you meant.

One of Madison's other cookbooks, Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, is my main go-to cookbook for everything. It's probably at the library, so I'd check it out before buying. It's sort of the Joy of Cooking for vegetarians. I have "The Greens" also, which I picked up for a dollar at an estate sale. It's recipes are fancier. I can't remember if I've made anything out of it yet. I have made a recipe out of the other Greens cookbook, called, Fields of Greens by Annie Sommerville. (Which I picked up at the same estate sale.) I made a very good hearty stew from it. I would type out the recipe, but it is fairly complicated, and refers to other recipes on other pages that you have to make to add to the stew. It's a very good stew, but complicated to make. My scanner isn't working, darn it. I think the thing about those two cookbooks is that they are from a restaurant, so the recipes are created to be made made by chefs to appeal to the guests.

Sally


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RE: Fun With Vegetables

I have "Vegetarian Cooking For Everyone" by Madison as well. I think it is a good encyclopedic book - kind of like a "Joy Of Cooking" for vegetarians.


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RE: Fun With Vegetables

Try the dried blueberries in a savory sauce with duck breast. We recently had a superb duck breast in a huckleberry sauce. No sugar, just the berries adding that touch of sweetness.

Roasted beets with Ceylon cinnamon (not the Vietnamese cassia).

Both cauiflower and parsnips make fabulous subs for mashed potatoes and taste much more interesting.

I recently had a very rich meal of foie gras and then sweetbreads, which I followed up with a salad of bitter greens. Endive, radicchio and baby arugula; some sliced green apple and a few shavings of gorgonzola, with a very light dressing that was called "golden balsamic dressing." Absolutely lovely way to end the meal.

The sweetbreads, btw, were a surprise. I thought at first they were on a puff pastry (usually how they come in the restaurants here). Instead, it was a mashed parsnip croquette, breaded with panko. Wonderful combo.


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RE: Fun With Vegetables

Try the dried blueberries in a savory sauce with duck breast. We recently had a superb duck breast in a huckleberry sauce. No sugar, just the berries adding that touch of sweetness.

Roasted beets with Ceylon cinnamon (not the Vietnamese cassia).

Both cauiflower and parsnips make fabulous subs for mashed potatoes and taste much more interesting.

I recently had a very rich meal of foie gras and then sweetbreads, which I followed up with a salad of bitter greens. Endive, radicchio and baby arugula; some sliced green apple and a few shavings of gorgonzola, with a very light dressing that was called "golden balsamic dressing." Absolutely lovely way to end the meal.

The sweetbreads, btw, were a surprise. I thought at first they were on a puff pastry (usually how they come in the restaurants here). Instead, it was a mashed parsnip croquette, breaded with panko. Wonderful combo.


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RE: Fun With Vegetables

I really like Ethiopian and Indian vegetable dishes, and Marcus Samuelsson has written books with Ethiopian recipes. I think one of the most versatile vegetables is eggplant, and it is used in several cuisines, including Italian, Middle Eastern, and Japanese. Korean and Japanese cooking uses a lot of pickled vegetables that I like, and they are fairly simple to make. Here is a recipe for Eggplant Makous that I especially like, although I normally buy this in a jar at a Lebanese or Turkish market.

There are also a lot of interesting ways to cook cabbage. Today I made a cabbage soup using Indonesian and Thai seasonings because I am suffering from a bad cold.

For a root vegetable, I recommend yucca root, which can be chopped and sauteed like a potato and then served with marinara sauce and Parmesan cheese. It has the added benefit of easing the pain of tendonitis, if you ever have that problem.

I do not like mixing sweet ingredients with vegetables, and so I cannot help you with that - I prefer the sourness of pickles! I think your preferences may be very different from mine.

Lars


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RE: Fun With Vegetables

I like simplicity in my vegetables, and have been influenced by Italian cooking, first Marcella Hazan's "Classic Italian Cooking" and then living here in Italy. I too think that American cooking sometimes overseasons and overflavors food and uses too many ingredients, with sad results. I'm vegetarian, by the way.
What prompted me to write is the notion of a main dish. Vegetarian cooking as I'm familiar with it is rather lacking in these. Very likely there are vegetable cooks who have created imposing vegetable, or vegetarian, main dishes, but an alternative would be to take the Italian approach of a dinner of several courses, in which no single dish dominates all the others. You probably know the sequence: antipasti; first course of pasta, soup, or rice; second course of meat with vegetable side dishes; salad and fruit; sweet; coffee and liqueur. This is an elaborate meal I'm describing; you can vary it as much as you want. But it's an alternative to the idea of the mountain main dish surrounded by the molehills of the other foods. And it's a great way to eat.


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RE: Fun With Vegetables

Okay, John, it's taken me a while, but I tried one of the recipes in my new Spanish cookbook, and have finally typed it out. I will include Camorra's into, because it's just plain interesting.

"In true Spanish Fashion, nothing in the kitchen is wasted - not even the heat from the bread kiln! In days gone by, after bread was baked, a cazuela (ceramic pot) of potatoes, sitting in a pool of seasoned stock, was pushed into the kiln to slowly cook from the residual heat trapped in the bricks. Most panders (bakers) now use electric ovens, but the name of this dish is still the same. …"

I made this with vegetable broth. It seemed thin -I imagine the Chicken broth would be much better. I liked it though. I may try it with less expensive mushrooms the next time. I don't think it would make a difference.

Here's the recipe. It comes from the cookbook, "Rustica, A Return to Spanish Home Cooking" by Frank Camorra and Richard Cornish.

Soft Potatoes and Onions with Mushrooms Thickened with Eggs

Ingredients

2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 white onions cut into fine wedges
4 bay leaves
3 green bell peppers, seeded and ribs removed, cut into slices 1/2 inch thick
6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
fine sea salt
2 lbs. roasting potatoes, cut into slices 1/2 inch thick
2 cups chicken stock
3 1/2 oz. shitake mushrooms, cut into slices 1/4 inch thick
5 1/4 oz. oyster or other wild mushrooms, cut into slices 1/4 inch thick
4 eggs, lightly beaten
4 tablespoons finely chopped parsley

Directions

Heat 1/3 cup of the olive oil in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan over high heat. Add the onions, bay leaves, bell peppers, half of the sliced garlic and begin to soften. Reduce the heat to medium-low, then cover and cook for 25 minutes, or until the peppers are tender, stirring regularly. Remove from the heat and stir the potato slices through.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Spread the potato mixture in a large roasting pan, season well and pour the stock over. Cover tightly with foil and bake for 60 to 70 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining olive oil in a frying pan over high heat. Add the mushrooms, the remaining garlic and a pinch of sea salt. Toss to combine well, then reduce the heat to medium and cook for 10 minutes, or until slightly brown and soft. Remove from the heat, place in a bowl and let cool for a few minutes, then stir in the beaten eggs and parsley.

When the potatoes are cooked, remove the roasting pan from the oven and remove the foil. Pour the mushroom and egg mixture over, then stir it through gently, without breaking up the potatoes. Bake, uncovered, for another 6 to 8 minutes, or until the egg is nearly set, but still a little runny. Remove from the oven and serve warm.

Sally

This post was edited by sally2 on Sun, Feb 9, 14 at 8:48


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RE: Fun With Vegetables

"the mountain main dish surrounded by the molehills of the other foods" - funny, and so true!

I guess I will think of vegetarian meals more like tapas or dim sum or antipasti.

Sally, that dish sounds good, does it present something like a gratin? Layered potatoes with a binder and tasty extras?


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RE: Fun With Vegetables

In the summer I like making a strawberry-spinach salad with walnuts and a balsamic/poppyseed vinaigrette - nice with some grilled chicken added too.

Another favorite sweet/savory salad that we like is the one linked below - blackened chicken and mango salad with avocado dressing. We really like it with blackened fish (any kind of mild white fish) instead of the chicken too, makes for a lighter texture.

Summer time is when our fruits and veggies really take center stage. Dishes like cucumber caprese relish (http://bellabumsandbellies.com/2013/09/13/cucumber-caprese-relish/), and all things zucchini - including noodles.

I admit, that I have a harder time with winter veggies. I've tried adding parsnips and sweet potatoes and various squashes into our meals, but my husband and kids have, so far, not approved.

Here is a link that might be useful: blackened chicken and mango salad with avocado dressing


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RE: Fun With Vegetables

John, it presents almost like a stew, at least the way it turned out for me, and the way the picture in the book looks. Our scanner isn't working, so I can't scan the picture.

Sally


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RE: Fun With Vegetables

John, Olive Trees and Honey: A Treasury of Vegetarian Recipes from Jewish Communities Around the World by Gil Marks has a wide variety of vegetarian dishes including many main dishes.

The biryani recipe I posted recently in the thread linked below comes from it. It has chickpeas, nuts and lima beans or peas and plenty of vegetables and spices along with the rice so it can serve as a whole meal.

Here is a link that might be useful: Biryani recipe - near the bottom of the thread


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