Uruguayan Apple Beet Salad

March 30, 2006 at 9:48 pm (C (1 star, edible), From a friend, Mexican & S. American, Salads)

My friend Adriana (who is from Uruguay) made this salad for me a few times, and I always enjoyed it, but figured it was very high calorie. But I was looking for some new ideas for beets and asked her for the recipe, and with a few modification it actually seemed like it would be reasonably healthy, so I decided to try it.

  • About 5 large cooked beets
  • 1 green apple
  • 4 boiled eggs
  • 1/2 onion
  • Salt/pepper
  • Mayonnaise
  • Fresh mint (optional)

Adriana’s instructions:  Cut the beets, apple and eggs in little cubes of about 6mm x 6mm. The onion needs to be a bit smaller. Maybe about 3mmx3mmm. Once you have the beets, apple, eggs and onion all in the bowl, you add a bit of salt and pepper (I like to add mint, but my mom’s recipe doesn’t really call for it). Finally, you add a touch of mayonnaise. You mix it all up and put it in the fridge before serving. It normally tastes better the next day.

My Notes

I didn’t have any mayonnaise, and rather than making soy mayonnaise I actually made my own egg mayonnaise in the food processor. I think it turned out okay, but what do I know about mayonnaise?I put in fewer eggs then the recipe called for, but still I liked the beet salad pretty well. Eggs and beets go surprisingly well together. Derek, however, wasn’t excited by it. He said maybe if I’d put in all the eggs and more mayonnaise… The crisp, tart apple was excellent, especially in contrast to the soft sweet beets. When I make this again I think I’d use two apples instead of one. I did have some problems with the onion, however. I liked the “kick” it gave the salad since the rest of the seasoning was pretty mild, but the onion made the salad too hot, especially the next day–that onion’s bite was a mite too big. Maybe if I blanched or soaked the onion first? Or used scallions instead?

Rating (with my modifications): B-
Derek (with my modifications): C

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Key Lime Sweet Potatoes

March 30, 2006 at 9:25 pm (B_minus (2 stars, okay), Fall recipes, Other, Root vegetables, Starches, Winter recipes)

I tried this recipe from the cookbook Some Like It Hot by Robin Robertson. I’m calling it key lime sweet potatoes not because it has key limes in it (although it could) but because Derek said it tasted like key lime pie.

Rum and Lime-Laced Sweet Potatoes

  • 6 long slender sweet potatoes, peeled (about 3 pounds)
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar (I think I used a few Tbs.?)
  • 1/4 cup butter (I think I used 2 Tbs?)
  • 2 Tbs. freshly grated lime zest
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. cayenne
  • 3 Tbs. dark rum (I only had light rum)
  1. Place the sweet potatoes in a large saucepan with just enough water to cover, place over medium-high heat, and cook until just tender, about 15 minutes. (It’s important to cook the potatoes to the same softness, so if they’re not the same size take the smaller ones out sooner). Drain well and cool. Trim the ends of the sweet potatoes, peel, and cut crosswise into 1/2 inch slices.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Coat a 9×13-inch (or maybe a 15×10-inch?) baking pan with cooking spray. Arrange the potatoes in the baking dish in slightly overlapping rows. Combine the sugar, butter, lime juice, salt, and cayenne in a medium saucepan over low heat and stir until the butter melts. Increase the heat to medium and bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat and stir in the rum. Pour the mixture over the top of the potatoes. Bake for 10 minutes, basting a few times. Sprinkle the lime zest over the potates and continue baking until soft, about 10 minutes more.
  3. Turn the oven setting to broil and broil the potatoes until browned on top, about 2 minutes serve hot.

Serves 8 as a (large) side dish.

Original recipe yields 266 calories per serving, 3 grams fat, 5 grams fiber, and 62mg calcium. I don’t have the stats for my reduced calorie version.

Derek said it tasted like key-lime sweet potatoes and scarfed it up. I liked it too! I want to try it again, using olive oil instead of butter, and measuring the oil and salt and calculating the stats.

Rating: B

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Broiled Yard-Long Beans in Spicy Black Bean Sauce (B)

March 30, 2006 at 3:27 pm (B_minus (2 stars, okay), Chinese, Sauce/dressing)

I read about Chinese long beans (or yard-long beans) in a Chinese vegetarian cookbook I checked out of the library ages ago, and decided to try them when I passed them in the Asian grocery in the Strip District. They’re not actually a whole yard long, more like 1.5 feet long. I snapped off the ends because they were a different color, but I’m not sure if I needed to. I tried cooking them using the method Cook’s Illustrated touts for cooking tough supermarket green beans, but I didn’t leave them in long enough so they were still quite crunchy. I put foil down on my cookie sheet before putting them in the oven, and then when using a spatula to remove the green beans the foil kept coming off as well. Next time I should just scoop them off with my hands into a bowl, then add the sauce.

What the long beans look like.

I also got fermented black soybeans at the Strip. I’d heard of fermented black beans before but never realized they are actually soybeans. Is it possible that miso is just pureed fermented black soybeans? I soaked the beans briefly then rinsed them off before adding them to my sauce. I based my recipe mostly on the fermented black bean sauce recipe in Cook’s Illustrated, but adjusted the amounts a bit, and added some chili paste as well:

See a picture of what the fermented black beans look like

Spicy Fermented Black Bean Sauce

2 Tbs. fermented black soybeans, rinsed
1.5? Tbs. ginger, minced
1/2? Tbs. granulated sugar
6? Tbs. sherry
4? Tbs. vegetable broth
2? Tbs. garlic, minced
2? Tbs. soy sauce
1? Tbs. sesame oil
1/2? tsp. black pepper, freshly ground
2? tsp. chili paste

Okay, I’m not certain about most of the amounts, so I’ll have to make it again and double check. What’s listed here is double the original recipe, and it made quite a bit of sauce, more than enough for one bunch of long beans.

Derek really liked the sauce: he said it tasted almost like the sauce in a Chinese restaurant, except it needed to be saltier. I, however, found it plenty salty, but also thought it tasted quite authentic. I’ll definitely be making this sauce again.

The beans seemed a little more starchy and a little less sweet than regular green beans, but that may have just been because I didn’t cook them long enough. I’ll have to try them again.

Rating: B
Derek: B+

Jan 2007: I found another black bean sauce recipe in the cookbook Savoring the Day by Judith Benn Hurley. It suggests putting it over 1 head (about 1 pound) of broccoli, steamed.

  • 1 Tbs. Chinese fermented black beans, rinced and minced
  • 1 tsp. mirin or dry sherry
  • 2 tsp. reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp. miso
  • 1/3 cup vegetable stock
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp. arrowroot
  • 1 Tbs. water
  • 2 tsp. minced fresh chives

Combine all the ingredients except the arrowroot, water, and chives in a small saucepan over high heat and boil until reduced by half, 4 to 5 minutes. In a small bowl, combine the arrowroot, water, and chives, pour into the sauce and stir constantly until slightly thickened, about 25 seconds. Remove the sauce from the heat and toss with the broccoli. Serve warm. Makes 4 servings.

My Notes:

Okay, this was inedible. I don’t know why, but I took one bite and could not take another. I tossed it. Luckily I had only poured the sauce on one serving worth of broccoli, so I just ate the rest of the broccoli with yeast and soy sauce. Much, much, better.

Rating: F

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Caribbean Vegetable Stew from Moosewood (B-)

March 30, 2006 at 3:17 pm (C (1 star, edible), Caribbean, Cruciferous rich, Moosewood)

This was another recipe recommended by a friend from the Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home. The notes are from my friend.

2 cups chopped onion
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil (I use olive oil)
3 cups chopped cabbage (I use more like 5 cups and the recipe absorbs it)
1 fresh chile minced (fresh jalepeno for me)
1 Tbsp. grated fresh ginger
2 cups water
3 cups diced sweet potatoes
2 cups chopped tomato (I use the no salt added canned diced tomatoes from Contadina)
2 cups okra (fresh or frozen is fine)
3 Tbsp. lime juice
2 Tbsp. fesh cilantro

Saute the onions in the oil about 4-5 minutes. Add the cabbage and chile, saute about 8 more minutes. Add the ginger and water, cover the pan, bring to a boil. Add the sweet potatoes and salt, Simmer until potatoes are barely tender. Add tomatoes, okra, and lime juice. Simmer about 15 minutes more. Add cilantro and remove the pan from the heat.

Yields 4 serving (1 cup each). I serve this with brown basmati rice.

My Notes I thought the recipe was quite bland. I added a number of spices (cumin, allspice, garlic, etc.) to perk the flavors up. Then it wasn’t bad, but mostly just because I like those vegetables. However, I found the cabbage a little soggy. Derek, on the other hand, liked this dish a lot. He ate it happily for dinner, and with relish for lunch the next day, his appreciation for the dish clearly overriding his dislike of leftovers. Why do we never like the same things???

I made this again, for Derek, and he would barely touch it.  I added spices again, so that wasn’t it. Urgh.  I knew it wasn’t our cup of tea.  Why did he like it so much the first time? 

Rating: B-Derek: B+

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Chickpea and Artichoke Heart Stew (C)

March 30, 2006 at 5:04 am (F (0 stars, dislike), Moosewood)

Two friends recommended this recipe from Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home, and Derek loves chickpeas, and I never cooked with artichoke hearts before, so decided to give it a try:

Chick Pea and Artichoke Heart Stew

4 cups water or vegetable stock (I used stock)
2 medium onions, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. turmeric
1 tsp. sweet paprika
4 medium red or white potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch cubes (about 4 cups)
1 sprig fresh rosemary (1 tsp. ground dried) [I use fresh]
5 leaves fresh sage, minced (1/2 tsp. dried) [I use fresh]
1/2 cup pureed winter squash [I used 1/2 to 3/4 cup pumpkin puree]
3 cups drained cooked chick peas (two 15-oz. cans)
1 1/2 cups drained artichoke hearts (one 14 oz. can) [I used more]
salt and ground black pepper to taste

lemon wedges (optional)
grated Pecorino or Parmesan cheese (optional)

In a saucepan, bring the water or vegetable stock to a simmer. While the water heats, saute the onions and garlic in the oil for about 8 minutes, until soft. Stir the turmeric and paprika into hte onions and saute for a minute. Add the potatoes, rosemary, sage, and the simmering water or stock. Cook about 12 minutes, until the potatoes are tender. Stir the pureed squash or sweet potatoes, and add the drained chick peas and artichoke hearts. Remove the rosemary sprig, add salt and pepper to taste, and return to a simmer.

Serve with lemon wedges and top with grated Pecorino or Parmesan, if you wish.

[My Friend’s Note: I always use the lemon, but rather than serving with wedges, I add the juice of 1/2 to 3/4 lemon to the stew, but only after I remove it from the heat. Heating alters the flavor of the lemon juice].

Per 8 oz. calorie serving: 157 calories, 4.6 g protein, 3 g fat, 29.2 g carbohydrate, 171 mg sodium, 0 mg cholesterol.

So this made a lot of bright yellow stew! Derek liked it a lot, but I found it somewhat… odd. With half a lemon and the (partially marinated) artichoke hearts it was quite acidic, and all the turmeric added that slightly metallic flavor that turmeric has. I also found the texture of the artichoke hearts a bit offputting. I did break them up with a spoon, but still… It seemed strange that they suggesting topping with parmesan. Yogurt seemed a better match, but the parmesan actually added a nice something. I also sprinkled on some turkish seasoning from Penzey’s, which I thought helped balance the flavors out a bit more, bringing out some of the brighter flavors, toning down the acidity from the lemon juice, and masking the metallicness of the turmeric, and adding a somewhat earthier dimension as well. But part of this was probably the extra salt (salt is the first ingredient in that spice blend). If I was going to do make the recipe again I’d add the salt at the beginning not the end so that the potatoes get seasoned. I’d also add a green vegetable to break up the intense yellow.

Rating: C Derek: B+

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