Vegetable Archive

Friday, November 22, 2013

parsley leaf potatoes

parsley leaf potatoes

As you may have noticed, as the week’s progressed, things have gotten simpler. We started with great ambitions — we will make a green bean casserole from scratch! We will trim the beans! make a roux! sauté the mushrooms! coat and deep-fry the onions! We moved onto my favorite stuffing made from torn baguettes, diced apples and onions and celery, three herbs, sometimes cornbread, sometimes sausage; it’s a two-pan ordeal. We slipped quietly into the simple weeknight savior, cauliflower and brown butter breadcrumbs. At the rate we’re going, I’ll have a boiled water recipe on the site by Monday. But somewhere between five-ingredient breadcrumbs and recipes that don’t need to be spelled out, there’s this, a potato recipe with only salt, butter and parsley.

scrubbed russets
halved lengthwise

Why slow down? If you’re like me, at the outset of a holiday, you’re brimming with ideas: dry-brined, braise-roasted and deep-fried turkeys! homemade stuffing from homemade bread! individual miniature pies for every person at the table. As the holiday gets closer — not unlike the progression of this week for me — real life begins to creep in. There are day jobs, flu-like symptoms, traffic jams and extremely dull things like dentist appointments doing everything in their power to interrupt. There are only so many hours in the day, and days left in which one can cook. There are only so many hours of those hours in which one can cook that they actually want to.

one leaf per potato half, plus salt

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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

cauliflower with brown butter crumbs

cauliflower with brown butter crumbs

This site is 7 years, 4 months and 5 days old, which is exactly how long I’ve been meaning to tell you about one of my favorite ways to make cauliflower. You think I would have gotten around to it already, as it’s the very cauliflower dish I ever knew, but instead I’ve been distracting us with quiches* and soups, and pasta and fritters. It’s a shame, as this is so much easier to make.

everything but the butter
cauliflower in giant florets

My mother used to steam a whole head of cauliflower, and when it was about done, melt a pat or two of butter in a cast-iron frying pan (back when all of our skillets were cast-iron, and I found them heavy and annoying and embarrassingly old-fashioned; oh, Deb), then toss in enough seasoned breadcrumbs (always seasoned “Italian-style” which makes me chuckle because what would Italian seasoning be in Italy, salt and pepper?**) to absorb the butter and cook them until they were a browned together. This would be sprinkled on and pressed against the cauliflower and it’s really no surprise that I become a cauliflower person, is it? Salty butter, brown butter-crisped crumbs will do that to a person.

getting ready to brown the butter

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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

apple-herb stuffing for all seasons

apple and herb stuffing

I have several stuffing-related confessions to unload today:

My first stuffing love was found at a friend’s house, when her mother served us an apple stuffing from a Pepperidge Farm mix that is no longer made, I presume because it’s not 1989. My god, did I nag my mother (who wasn’t terribly keen on packaged foods, meanie) to make it too. Sometimes she’d cave, though never often enough, but it didn’t stop me from growing up thinking that the dreamiest stuffing includes tart apples, celery, lightly caramelized onions and herbs, a dream I was repeatedly denied as a child and yes, I’m requesting a very tiny violin.

torn-up bread. cornbread works too.
apples, celery, onion, bread, herbs

I think if you’re limiting your stuffing consumption to a single day in November, you are missing out. When you snip stuffing free of its holiday-specific tethers, it doesn’t take long to realize how welcome it could be speared onto your fork the other 364 days a year, a category it shares with latkes (as awesome at cocktail parties as they are for weekend breakfasts topped with a lacy-edged fried egg, and especially fitting this year), yule logs (for Thanksgiving or just the mega-Yodel of it) and fairy lights, which you should not even pretend aren’t as awesome strung across a yard on a July evening as they are outlining shutters and fire escapes in December. I would eat stuffing every week of the year if everyone would stop looking at me so strangely about it.

apples, celery and onion, sauteed in butter

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Monday, November 18, 2013

green bean casserole with crispy onions

green bean casserole with crispy onions

One of the best food books I read last year but rudely never got around to telling you about (in my defense, this time last year was a little nuts) was a 135-page, photo-free and straightforward guide called Thanksgiving: How To Cook It Well by the New York Times former restaurant critic and sometimes newsroom editor Sam Sifton. And although I realize there is barely a page on the internet or of printed matter near you right now not currently angling to be the one that gets to walk you through the biggest home cooking holiday of the year next week, I like this one more. Maybe it’s because one of the earliest lines in the book is “You can go your whole life and then wake up one morning and look in the refrigerator at this animal carcass the size of a toddler and think: I have to cook that today. There is no need to worry. Thanksgiving does not have to be a drag,” and continues in that empathetic but not remotely patronizing tone for the remainder of the book, cheering you on through turkey purchases and homemade stock, classic sides and newer ones worthy of consideration, game plans and even tidbits on seating, such as whether it’s okay to separately seat the Republican, Marxist and Free Spirit factions of your extended family (in short: yes, absolutely yes).

halved and thinly sliced onion
onions tossed with flour, crumbs and seasoning

But it’s more likely because the book is compact, something you could drop in your bag and read later on the subway and be transported away from the crowds and airlessness to a glowy evening late in every November when you can shed all the crutches usually required to get through the day (shortcuts, irony, rushing, a mega-latte in a to-go cup, permanently adhered to your hand), set a table (any plywood over milk crates will do), forgo the appetizers (Sifton is adamantly anti-salad or anything else on Thanksgiving that will take up valuable stomach space better saved for foods draped with butter, cream, maple syrup and bacon*) and reminisce about that silly time you spent half the day making an gourmet sous-vide vegetable confit when all anyone really wants is the casserole they’ve always secretly loved and only get to revisit once a year.

cook a handful at a time, spread out

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Monday, November 4, 2013

spinach and egg pizzette

spinach and egg pizzette

This, this mash-, roast-, horseradish-, bangers-, crisps-, and goose fat-free, is one of my favorite things I ate while I was in the UK, and it’s not even British. Technically speaking, it was from a Venetian small plates restaurant, although I came to associate meals with generous helpings of gorgeously cooked spinach with the UK, as it appeared, to my delight, on so many plates. I had spinach tangled with a duck breast at a gastropub in what felt like the middle of nowhere, spinach in small tufts on another pizza (this one alongside a perfect pint) my first jet-lagged night in town, and a perfect amount of spinach at a pub on a Sunday afternoon, kissed with the horseradish sauce that had been ladled, to my glee, over my roast, but this was my favorite.

wilting the spinach
wilted spinach, to drain and squeeze

Here, spinach that has been wilted and squeezed, is re-plumped, so to speak, with creme fraiche, parmesan, salt and pepper, and is generously spread over a tiny pizza. An egg centers on this pile (and sometimes around it, at least in my kitchen) and the whole mess is baked together until the edges of the pizzette are brown, the spinach is tender, with a slight gratin-like effect, and the egg is white at the edges and just-runny-enough in the center and I think it might be my perfect meal. I would have it for breakfast, lunch, or dinner almost any day of the week (also in the rain, on a train, on a boat, with a shark…) and now that I’ve discovered that glorious late-season spinach still exists at markets around here, I might just make it happen.

squeezed fistfuls of spinach

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