Broiled Portabella Mushrooms

December 24, 2007 at 7:04 pm (Miso, Moosewood, Quick weeknight recipe, unrated, Vegetable dishes) ()

This recipe is from Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites. I made it many years ago and Derek has never forgotten it.  He occasionally suggests I make it again, and I’m finally getting around to it. Moosewood suggests serving the mushrooms over a bed of wilted spinach or other greens. Read the rest of this entry »

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Cornmeal and greens (B)

July 7, 2006 at 8:53 am (B_minus (2.5 stars), Cruciferous rich, Dark leafy greens, Moosewood, Quick weeknight recipe)

My friend gave me her version of this unusual “polenta” recipe, originally from the Moosewood New Classics Cookbook. She says it freezes well so she typically doubles the recipe.

1 bunch kale (or broccoli rabe, or whatever your favorite dark leafy green is. Depending on how large your bunch is, you might need to use two bunches.)

3 cups water
1 cup cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground fennel seeds
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
ground black pepper to taste
(My friend likes strong flavors, so suggests adding smoked paprika and cayenne)

1 tablespoon olive oil
2-3 garlic cloves, pressed or minced
1/4 teaspoon salt

Remove tough bottoms of kale or broccoli rabe stems as needed. Coarsely chop the greens and stems. Rinse well and set aside in colander to drain.

Bring the water to a boil in a 2-4 quart pot and SLOWLY pour in the cornmeal while stirring briskly with a whisk. Break up any lumps that form. Simmer on low heat, stirring frequently, until the polenta is thick and tastes done (watch out for splatters!). Fine ground cornmeal cooks much faster than coarse ground polenta, so be sure to taste! Stir in salt, fennel, and cheese, if using. Add pepper (and other spices) to taste.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a heavy pan. Add the garlic and salt and saute on medium heat just until the garlic is golden. Add the greens, increase the heat to medium-high, and cook, stirring frequently, for 3 to 5 minutes or until tender. Set aside until the polenta is done.

Serve the polenta in a bowl with the greens on top or stirred in.

My Notes

I’ve never put ground fennel seeds in polenta before. Wow, I really liked it, and so did Derek. I used 3/4 tsp. salt, 3/4 tsp. ground fennel seeds, and 3/8 tsp. paprika, and a very large pinch of cayenne, plus about a 1/4 cup parmesan. The flavors were strong so even Derek liked it. I did have trouble with lumps though. The next time I time I made it I just added the cornmeal to the cold water like I normally do, and I thought it worked better. Also, I made it once with curly kale and didn’t cook the greens long enough. I was impatient so just gave up and mixed the two together–crunchy kale in the cornmeal is a bad idea, let me tell you. I’ve also made and enjoyed it with collards. Finally, add the salt to the cornmeal at the beginning rather than the end, since it will distribute more evenly.

Using fine ground cornmeal isn’t quite as tasty as true polenta, but it’s really fast. This whole recipe probably only takes about 15 minutes or so. The last time I made it I used a bit more fennel, and I think it got close to overpowering. 1/2 measured ground or 3/4 tsp. measured whole is probably plenty.

Rating: B

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Steel cut oatmeal with figs and cardamom

April 28, 2006 at 9:18 am (B plus (3.5 stars, like a lot), breakfast, From a friend, Grains, Moosewood, Quick weeknight recipe)

I’ve never been a big oatmeal fan, and when I do eat oats I generally eat rolled oats because they’re fast. But everyone’s been telling me to try steel cut oats instead (also known as irish oats). So I decided to try this recipe my friend sent me, from the cookbook Moosewood Restaurant New Classics

Serves Four

1 cup irish or steel-cut oats
4 cups water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-2 Tbs. vegetable oil or butter (I used 4 tsp. canola)
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 – 1 cup chopped dates or figs (I used 6 turkish figs)


In a 2-4 quart saucepan, bring 4 cups of water to a boil.

Meanwhile, lightly toast the steel cut oats in a saucepan with a little oil (put the heat on medium), just until there is a subtle color change to golden brown. This enhances the nutty flavor and chewy, satisfying texture of the oats.

Once the oats are toasted, add them to the water, reduce the heat to medium and cook them uncovered for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally (don’t stir TOO often or you compromise the texture). I like to set my timer for 20 minutes and stir at the 10 and 5 minute warnings, and at 2 minute til.

In the meantime, chop the dates or figs. Cook the chopped figs or dates in 1/2 cup water. Let them come to a low boil and then simmer for another ten minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the ground cardamom once the fruit is simmering. After ten minutes, the figs or dates should have softened and the water reduced nearly to a glaze or thick paste. Add a little more water during the cooking process if needed. Once the figs/dates are softened to your liking, remove from heat and add the vanilla extract. (I like to wait to start chopping the figs until the oats have been cooking for ten minutes, since I don’t really need to be around for those first ten minutes. I can do the -5 and -2 minute stirs while I’m chopping, then I get the figs to a simmer about the same time I turn the oats down to low, and I can stir the oats and the figs at the same time.)

After the oatmeal has cooked for 20 minutes, reduce the heat to medium-low, add the salt and cook uncovered for another 10 minutes, stirring more frequently to make sure the oats don’t stick to the pot.

Remove the oats from the heat and stir in the date or fig mixture. Allow to stand another 3 minutes before serving.

My notes

A quarter of the recipe is probably enough to fill me up, but I must say I still wanted to eat more.

The texture is excellent, way better than my normal rolled oats I make. And I really like the texture and flavor of the figs in it. The cardamom, however, I could taste in only a few bites. I think maybe it didn’t mix well, and stuck to just a few of the figs. What would happen if I added it to the oats instead of the figs? Also, I found it just a bit too salty. Maybe next time I’ll try a heaping 1/8 tsp.

These reheat well in the microwave (and possibly on the stovetop too, although I have to check). You may have to add a little water though. However, when I ate the second half, reheated in the micowave, it wasn’t salty at all. Maybe I just didn’t mix my salt well and it all ended up in the other half. It also tasted less sweet…

Also a few questions from the laziest cook in the world, who never met a shortcut she didn’t like:

1) Why are the figs cooked separately? How would it be different if you just threw them in for the last ten minutes with the salt?

2) Couldn’t we just throw the cardamom it in at the beginning too? Does something happen to it when it hits boiling water?

Update May 06, 2006: The salt level seems fine when I use coarse kosher salt, but I’ve taken to adding the salt when I add the oats to the water to ensure that it gets mixed well. I’ve also started adding more cardamom and vanilla, between 1/2 tsp. and 3/4 tsp. each. This recipe is definitely better with the full 1 cup of figs, although even with 1 cup it’s still not particularlly sweet. Derek added about 1/2 Tbs. maple syrup to his. 3/4 figs is all right too, and lower calorie, but not quite as decadent tasting. Derek says this recipe is great.

Rating: B
Derek: A

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Caribbean Vegetable Stew from Moosewood (B-)

March 30, 2006 at 3:17 pm (C (2 stars, okay, 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, inedible), 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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