Eggplant Steak with Mushrooms and Sage

??????????????????????????????? 1 or 2 globe eggplant
¼ c extra virgin olive oil
Flour for dredging
1/2 cup thinly sliced onions
8 oz mushrooms
1 small clove garlic
1/4 tsp choped sage
2 tbs balsamic or white wine vinegar
Large pinch salt
2 tbs water

Cut eggplant lengthwise into ¾ – 1 inch “steaks”. Sprinkle liberally with salt and let stand in a colander for at least 30 minutes, or up to an hour. Wash off salt and dry with towels. Heat a pan to medium and add half of the oil. Dredge the eggplant in flour and shake off. Add to pan. Try not to mess with them too much, just let them cook. After 5 minutes check that they are not burning.

If they are charring turn them and add oil to pan (not to eggplant), let oil heat up and then turn heat down slightly. Cover. If they are not charring or browning, let them cook another 5 minutes then add oil to pan (not to eggplant), let oil heat up and then turn heat down slightly. Cover.

Check after 5 minutes by gently pressing eggplant. When done it should be very soft to the ???????????????????????????????touch. Ripeness affects cooking time greatly, so it could take another 10 minutes. When done, place on paper towel (or towel) to drain off excess oil and serve.

While eggplant cooks, prepare the mushrooms and sage. First, take 1 tbs of the flour from the eggplant dredging and whisk with 4 T water. Set this slurry aside. Heat a pan to medium-high, add 2 tbs extra virgin olive oil followed immediately by onion and garlic. Sautee 2 minutes, sizzling and stirring. Add mushrooms and continue stirring until oil is evenly spread. Cover, turn heat down and cook 1 minute. Remove lid and add vinegar. Cook 2-3 minutes at a simmer, then add slurry. Continue stirring until sauce thickens a little.

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Late Summer Upper – seasonal recipe

Sweet potato and beet with cumin and corianderVegetable Sidebar

1 tbs sunflower or canola oil
1/2 tsp whole cumin seed
1 medium clove of garlic, peeled and minced (about 2 tsp)
1 small yellow onions, diced
2 small tomatoes, diced or 1 small can
2 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp turmeric
1 Beet (about 8 oz), cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 Sweet potato (about 6 oz), cut into 3/4 inch pieces
1/2 cup water
1-2 tsp salt
Fresh ground black pepper

Heat the oil in a wide bottomed pot or pan to medium high. Add the whole cumin seeds. They should sputter a bit. Quickly add the garlic and saute, stirring constantly. When golden, add onions and saute for 2-3 minutes, stirring often.

Add the tomatoes, coriander and turmeric and stir once or twice. Add the beets, sweet potatoes, salt and water. Bring to a simmer, cover, turn heat down to medium low and cook for 30-60 minutes. Beets should be easily pierced with a knife. The smaller you dice the beets, the quicker they’ll cook. Check every so often that the water hasn’t boiled off, add more as necessary, 1/2 cup at a time.

If you prefer the sweet potatoes to maintain a shape, roast them, before adding at the end of cooking.

The Power of Broccoli

Broccoli Purple

Purple Broccoli

Broccoli is so common now we forget how beneficial a food it is.

Broccoli Romanesco 1

Broccoli has high levels of fiber, vitamin C and other micronutrients. One 4 oz serving of broccoli has 150% of your daily vitamin C.

Broccoli contains the phytonutrients known as indoles and isothiocyanates which have anti-cancer properties

Broccoli Flower

Broccoli Flower

Broccoli has been found to help combat cancer, osteoarthritis and heart damage.

Many of these health giving properties are shared by other members of the cruciferous vegetable group: kale, cabbage, brussel sprouts, bok choi and cauliflowerBroccoli

Link here for more information.

The Beauty of Beets

We have been including beet often in our weekly meals this winter mainly because Grinnell Heritage Farms are supplying at least three varieties on a regular basis: red, chiogga and gold. We love the flavors and colors of all of them; they brighten the plate and palate in this cold, dark wintertime.

In addition to their unique flavor and appearance beets provide a great array of health benefits. Among other things beets increase the number of white blood cells, can lower blood pressure and improves blood flow through the body.

While hard to find in winter, whenever possible don’t neglect the beet greens which are excellent sources of iron, calcium, manganese and potassium. Vitamins A, C and folic acid are strong in their profile

See articles here and here from the BBC and for more in depth, click here.TempehBeet1

Beet Remoulade

Beet Remoulade

The wonderful savory flavors of capers and mustard meet the earthy sweetness on red and gold beets.

1 medium red beet
1 medium gold beet
1 cup vegenaise or mayonnaise:
3 tbs capers
1 tbs Dijon mustard
1 tsp white wine vinegar

Peel the beets and cut into 1 inch cubes. First cutting in half and laying flat surface on the cutting board.
Steam the beets for 25-45 minutes, checking first after 20. They should be soft like a cooked potato.
While the beets steam, place the capers, Dijon and white wine vinegar in a food proceesor and process briefly a few times, scraping the sides between blands. When faily uniform add the vegenaise or mayonnaise and blend for 30 seconds or so. Try not the overblend as the vegenaise and mayonnaise both become bitter woth over-blending. This is the remoulade.

When the beets are done, take half the remoulade and mix with the beets and serve. Alternatively, blend the beets with the caper, mustard and vinegar, before adding the vegenaise/mayonnaise.

Whole Foods Diet Helps Prevent Cancer

ButternutSquashA tidal wave of cancer is predicted by the World Health Organization over the next 20 years, with cases expected to rise from 14 million worldwide to 24 million by 2035.

What’s more shocking is that lifestyle choices, including diet could prevent half of these case, according to a cancer expert in the UK. While there has been much research and activity on the inheritance of cancer traits through heredity, only 10% or so of cancer are passed on through the genes.

The World Cancer Research Fund suggests “a diet packed with vegetables, fruit, and whole grains; cutting down on alcohol and red meat; and junking processed meat completely”, according to a BBC report.


Iowa grown vegetables purchased in January

Farmer’s Market Recipes

The demo at the Iowa City Farmer’s Market went well, technical problems aside. Here are the recipes from that morning.

Spiced Cabbage
Brown mustard seeds add an earthy nuttiness without overshadowing the simple flavor of the cabbage.

1 small cabbage, quartered, cored and thinly sliced
1 tbs whole brown mustard seed
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbs sunflower oil

Heat pan with oil to medium-high. Add the mustard seeds. They should sizzle and pop within a few seconds. Add cabbage. Toss to distribute oil evenly and continue cooking for 4-5 minutes, stirring often. Cover, add salt and turn heat down to medium-low and cook for another 5 minutes or so. Turn off heat and add lemon juice.

Cucumber and Lemon Basil Salad
I try to use lemon basil whenever I can find it. Such a delicate delicious summery flavor.

4 Cucumbers
1 large tomato, heirloom if possible, finely chopped
3/4 cup vegenaise or mayonaise
1 tbs capers, finely chopped, or blended to a paste
1-3 tsp red wine vinegar
Salt to taste

If you have time, peel and seed the cucumbers, and cut into 1/2 inch dice. Mix the vegenaise or mayonnaise with the tomato, capers, vinegar and a pinch or two of salt and stir in the cucumber. Let sit 10-30 minutes in the fridge and check for salt.

Green beans in spiced tomato sauce
An Indian style dish that brings another method to use our prolific green beans.

2 tbs sunflower oil
2 tsp whole cumin seeds
6 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 inch cube ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
1 tbs ground coriander
4 cups tomatoes (about 2 large tomatoes), diced
1/2 lb green beans
1-2 tbs fresh lemon juice
Generous sprinkle of fresh ground black pepper

Blend the garlic and ginger with 4 tbs water in a food processor. Heat oil in pan and add whole cumin seeds. They should sizzle and darken within a few seconds. Add the garlic ginger paste and cook for a minute or so, then add ground coriander, stir to mix and immediately add diced tomatoes. Cook for a few minutes then add green beans and a half cup of water or so. Bring to a boil, cover and turn heat down to a simmer. Cook until beans are done, 2-7 minutes depending on size and age of beans. Turn off heat, stir in fresh lemon and fresh ground black pepper.

Hot Sauce

Sometimes it’s difficult to use all the hot peppers that are available here. I like to make hot sauce to use up those peppers before the go down at the bottom of the fridge.

1 small onion, large dice
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 cup peppers, roughly chopped
1 tsp sunflower oil
1 tbs white wine vinegar or lime juice
Salt and pepper to taste
1-2 cups water

Heat oil in pan to medium high and add onion and garlic. Sautee for 3-4 minutes, then add peppers and turn heat down to medium. Cook, stirring often for 5-7 minutes, or until peppers are thoroughly softened. Blend to a smooth paste in a food processor with vinegar or lime juice. Transfer to a bowl and add 1-2 cups water and salt and pepper to taste. Stores in fridge for 3-4 weeks.

Home Fries – How to use your leftover potatoes 1

Home Fries

4 or 5 boiled potatoes
1/4 cup sunflower oil

A great way to use leftover boiled potatoes. In fact even if home fries were your plan you’d want to boil them up the night before because the key to perfect home fries is that the potatoes are cold when you fry them up. I always like to have some cold already boiled potatoes in the fridge just in case we’re hankering for a breakfast hash up. The point of this is that when the home fries are fried, the already cooked potatoes are cold. This is the key to perfect home fries.

To boil the potatoes
Scrub the potatoes and add enough water to cover the potatoes by an inch or two. Cover and heat on high until boiling, add a generous sprinkle of salt – probably a tablespoon for 4 or 5 potatoes, then bring it down until the water is simmering well. Unless the potatoes are small, check them 15-20 minutes after they start to boil. Pierce one with a small sharp knife. When it slides through like butter, they are done. Drain them and let them cool down, then put them in the fridge overnight. Do not use a fork to test them and try to avoid piercing them more than is necessary.

Transformation to home fries
If you have a non-stick pan, it may be best to use it. In this case add oil to the pan and heat to medium before adding potatoes to the pan. If you are using a stainless steel or aluminum pan, heat the pan to medium high before adding the oil. Either way add the potatoes to oil that is already hot. This is the other key to perfect home fries. The cold potatoes are placed into hot oil.

Add the potatoes to the pan, then let them cook a little before turning them with a metal spatula to mix. If you are using a stainless steel or aluminum pan, you may want to turn the heat down to medium, to avoiding over-browining (sometimes called burning). After turning, let them cook a little before disturbing them again. Leaving them alone after turning helps them develop that golden crispy edge that we all love, as well as avoiding them sticking to the pan. Depending how hot your oil is they may take anything from 5-15 minutes to become golden. Aim for 10.

The Culinary Socializer – Lemon

If you’ve ever made a meal and it wasn’t quite there, just didn’t have the pzazz or the flavors that make you sing. Perhaps it’s a soup that sat in the fridge for 3 days, or a rice pilaf that’s flavors have sunk.

Try adding a little lemon juice. Just a little, too. Not enough to give the dish a lemon flavor, either. Just enough for it to enhance the other flavors that are already there. If a dish is a party, think of lemon as a great conversationalist. Someone who draws the other party-goers into talking, not someone who takes over the conversation and doesn’t let anyone else speak.

I have used lemon juice in this way for years in the restaurant business, often finding that it’s the time that I use the LEAST amount of lemon juice that produces those great comments that we chefs love (even if we say we don’t!). I’m talking 1/16 of a teaspoon per order here. So 1/4 of a teaspoon for a four person soup, or pilaf. Try it, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Kale chips ‘n’ more

What to do with all those spring greens? Kale chips are popular but experiment with other greens that often end up yellow at the bottom of your crisper. Radish greens, beet greens, mustard greens, turnip greens. Just make sure to cut the spine and make a thinnish layer on the oven pan.

Use the stems, cut finely, to thicken sauces, or toss into the stockpot for great added flavor and depth to your home made stock.

Spring green chips

1 bunch kale or other spring/fall green
2 tsp sunflower oil, or extra virgin olive oil
1/8 t salt
1/8 t paprika

Optional: pinch cayenne

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Strip the spine from the greens either with a knife, or by pulling your hand firmly along the spine to remove leaf, Cut leaves into bite sized pieces. Sprinkle salt and paprika over greens. Be sure to sprinkle widely so that the powders do not clump in one place. Drizzle oil over greens and gently toss to evenly distribute the oil over the leaves. Place the in a thinnish layer on an oven pan or cookie sheet. It doesn’t need to be a single layer, just not a bunch of them piled on top of each other. Check after 5 minutes, but usually takes 7 or 8 minutes. May take 10 or 12 minutes if it’s a thick pile. Greens should be browning and a little crispy. Transfer to a paper towel to remove excess oil if necessary.