Sunday, November 11, 2012

Collards: The green that keeps on giving

(Photo credit: Mother Earth News)

 Last year, inspired by the Ros Trial garden, I planted a few collard green plants. With their giant, sturdy dark green leaves they added some nice drama to the vegetable garden. Plus, the kids liked to use them as roof tiles on their forts. We ate our way through a portion of the plants' produce, but I thought I'd skip planting them this year. I apparently didn't pull out one of the plants during my spring garden clean up because, miraculously, it seems that these collard greens are acting as perennials. Or perhaps it was our mild winter last year that gave the plant a second chance.

Either way, we've been eating collard greens in a lot of dinners recently and a favorite use for them is this butternut squash chowder (adapted from Slow Cooker Revolution from America's Test Kitchen).

Butternut Squash Chowder
Serves 6-8 (but everyone wants seconds, so make extra if you are feeding more than 6)
Cooking time 4-6 hours on low (in the slow cooker)
Vegetarian adaptation: Leave out the bacon and replace the chicken broth with 3 more cups vegetable broth.

large slow cooker
10-12 inch skillet
tin foil
advanced planning - you want to have all the ingredients in the slow cooker around noon or 1 pm for a 6 pm dinner (unless you have a fancy timer on your slow cooker to switch it to warm).

1/4 lb. bacon, minced
1 onion, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon hot pepper flakes
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/3 cup flour
3 cups chicken broth
4 cups vegetable broth (I like Repunzel brand vegetable bouillon)
3 lbs butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2 inch dice.
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 bunch collard green leaves, stemmed and sliced into 1/4 inch ribbons, then sliced again across the ribbons to make them bite sized
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon brown sugar
grated Parmesan cheese for serving
Salt and pepper

1. In a skillet, cook the bacon until crisp.  Add the onion and garlic, basil, nutmeg and pepper flakes and cook on medium-high until softened.  Add the flour and stir for 1 minute.  Add 2 cups of chicken broth and scrape up all the brown bits on the bottom of the pan.  Transfer to slow cooker.

2. Add to the slow cooker: the remaining 5 cups of combined chicken and vegetable broth, half the squash, and bay leaves.  Get a large piece of tin foil and lay it out on the counter: place the other half of the squash on the top half of the foil, add oil and season with salt and pepper.  Fold the bottom of the foil up and seal the top end, then fold in the sides to make a well sealed packet that will rest on the top of soup, inside the slow cooker.  Cover and cook for 4-6 hours on low.

3. Remove foil packet and place on a plate.  Remove bay leaves and stir in the collard greens.  Cook for another 20 minutes.

4. Open the foil packet, watching out for steam.  Empty the squash and juices into the pot.  Add cream, brown sugar and cook for another 5 minutes until heated.  Season with salt and pepper and serve with cheese.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Coconut tapioca pudding

I admit it, I was feeling generous today. Tonight I asked the kids if they wanted coconut shakes or tapioca pudding for dessert. We had already spent the early evening watching The Tale of Despereaux and eating popcorn and sensing that I was in an easy going mood they hoped for the best and asked for both coconut shakes and pudding. You already know what happened next, right? So, here it is the newly invented and kid approved coconut tapioca pudding. It cooks up in a hurry, isn't too sweet, and is rich enough to be satisfying in small quantities.

Coconut Tapioca Pudding
1-16 oz. can Coconut Cream
1 c. milk
2/3 c. instant or granulated tapioca
1/4 t. kosher salt
2 eggs
1/4 c. white sugar
1/2 t. vanilla extract

Mix coconut cream, milk, tapioca and salt together in a sauce pan. Bring to a boil over medium heat and stir frequently until the pudding thickens, approximately 3 minutes. In a separate bowl, mix eggs sugar and vanilla. Add a large spoonful of the hot tapioca to the egg mixture bowl and mix well to prevent curdling. Then add the egg mixture into the tapioca in the sauce pan and cook for another 5 minutes on low heat, stirring frequently. Let cool a bit, but eat slightly warm.

Adapted from The Vegetarian Mother's Cookbook: Whole Foods To Nourish Pregnant And Breastfeeding Women - And Their Families

Sunday, January 24, 2010

This Week's Meal Plan

Sunday: Pasta with vegetables and sesame sauce

Monday: Ten minutes couscous soup with poached egg and whole wheat bread

Tuesday: Hearty salad with big garlicky croutons

Wednesday: Lamb tagine with spices, apricots and chickpeas and couscous

Thursday: Bean and rice burritos

Friday: Pizza

Saturday: Vinegar Glossed Chicken and polenta (from Mad Hungry: Feeding Men and Boys)

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Of lamb and leftovers

For Christmas dinner this year we had leg of lamb. But this wasn't just any leg of lamb. This wasn't bought at the store, or even at the butcher or even at the farmer's market. This was one of the legs from the lamb that my sister-in-law and I were splitting that we bought from a farmer on Washington Island,WI where our in-laws live. I've seen the pastures this little lamb grazed on. It was one lucky lamb. Until we ate it. But it was darn good. I still have a freezer full of lamb to look for recipes for, but here's what we've done so far.

For christmas dinner we followed my grandmother's tried and true recipe. Nothing could be tastier or easier.

Roast leg of lamb
1 leg of lamb (ours was about 9 lbs)
15 garlic cloves, sliced into thick slices (more or less to taste)
1/2 a lemon, juiced
Worcestershire sauce
powdered ginger
kosher salt

  1. Preheat over to 350. Place meat in a large roasting pan, preferably on a roasting rack.
  2. Trim extra fat from the leg of lamb. Cut slits in it and stick the garlic slices in the slits.
  3. pour the lemon juice over the meat. Liberally sprinkle with worcestershire sauce, powdered ginger, pepper and extra liberally with salt.
  4. Bake until thermometer reads around 160F, approximately 3.5 hours.
We served ours with caramelized brussel sprouts (garlic, onion and bacon), peas, potatoes (lots of butter), cranberry sauce (sweet and spicy, with lots of horseradish), mint jelly, and light wheat bread shaped into a wreath. Dessert was pecan pie from the Best Recipes cookbook.

This meal fed us for two nights, amazingly. Tonight, Andy made stew from the last of the meat on the bone. After much thought and a bit of recipe research here's what he came up with. It was delicious.

Moroccan lamb stew with lentils and winter squash (from left-over leg of lamb)
Left-over leg of lamb (bone with plenty of meat remnants left on it)
carrots, cliced into 1/2 inch rounds
1/2 large butternut squash, peeled and chped into 1/2 inch cubes
1 14oz can diced tomatoes
1 c. red wine
1 onion, sliced
1/2 c. lentils
1/2 tsp. powdered ginger
1 1/2 tsp. coriander seeds
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1 1/4 tsp.ground cinnamon
Salt, to taste

  1. Make lamb stock by placing leg of lamb into a large pot and covering in water (6 quarts or so) and bring it to a boil, then simmering for one hour. YOu should have extra to freeze or use for another meal
  2. strain the stock through a colander, seperating out the meat for the stew, setting aside the broth and throwing away the bones and fatty pieces.
  3. In a separate large, heavy bottomed pot saute the carrot, onion, garlic and squash. Add the tomatoes with their juices and the wine. Add the spices and the lentils and bring to a high simmer.
  4. Using kitchen shears, cut the meat off the bone to get 2-3 cups, if you can.
  5. Add the meat and 6-7 cups of the broth you made.
  6. Cook for 20-30 minutes until all the vegtables and lentils are tender, but not mushy.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Pasta with Roasted Broccoli, Sun Dried Tomatoes and Feta

This was an improvised pasta dish which turned out really well. I especially liked the roasted broccoli which gave the whole dish added flavor. The olives and pine nuts were a lucky last minute addition found in the back of the fridge, but ended up being the perfect compliment.

Pasta with Roasted Broccoli, Sun Dried Tomatoes and Feta
1 lb bow tie pasta
1 bunch broccoli, split into bite size pieces
Olive oil
1/4 c. sun dried tomatoes, sliced
1/2 c. hot broth or water
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 oz. feta cheese
1 handful fruity green olives, pitted and chopped (optional)
1/4 c. pine nuts, toasted (optional)
salt (kosher, if you have it)
Parmesan cheese

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 F. and set a pot of water to boil for the pasta.
  2. Put the broccoli on a lipped cookie sheet, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with a bit of salt. Place in preheated oven for about 25 minutes, stirring half way through, until broccoli is tender and slightly charred.
  3. Once the water boiling, add 1 Tbsp. of salt and add the pasta. Cook until al dente.
  4. place sliced tomatoes in hot liquid for 10 minutes to rehydrate slightly, save liquid to be added to pasta.
  5. When pasta is cooked, drain and leave in a colander while you saute the garlic and 1 Tbsp of olive oil in the pasta pot for 30 seconds until fragrant.
  6. Add tomatoes and liquid, broccoli, pasta, olives, pine nuts and feta. cover for a minute or two to let the cheese melt a bit. Mix and serve with Parmesan cheese.

Monday, November 30, 2009

This Week's Meal Plan

Monday and Tuesday: Moroccan-style stuffed squash
Wednesday: Pasta with broccoli, sun dried tomatoes and feta
Friday: Pizza (using whatever dough from the Artisan bread in 5 minutes a day is currently in the fridge)
Weekend: Going out!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Pasta with Sweet Potato, Chickpeas and Feta

This is the kind of dish that pleases me at several levels. It has lots of flavor, is kid friendly, inexpensive and seasonally appropriate. And it's pretty. But you can't see that because everyone was so hungry that we ate everything before I could get a picture.

Pasta with sweet potato, chickpeas and feta
1 lb pasta (I like bigger shapes for this, like rotini or penne)
1-2 T. butter or olive oil, or a combination
1 large sweet potato, diced into 1/4 inch pieces
1/2 large red onion, chopped
1 15 oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
3 cloves garlic, minced or put through a garlic press
4 oz. feta cheese, crumbled

  1. Heat water to a boil. Salt generously and add pasta
  2. Melt butter/oil in pan. Saute onion and sweet potato until caramelized a bit and potato is just soft all the way through (8-10 minutes). I put the lid on the pan for part of the early cooking, then take it off for the last few minutes.
  3. Add garlic and stir until fragrant (30 seconds)
  4. Add chickpeas and cook until heated through.
  5. Drain pasta, reserving 1/2 c up cooking water.
  6. Mix pasta with vegetable mix, add feta and as much of the hot pasta water as you need to make it all creamy.