Photos by Zachary Cross
As a child I loved Brussels sprouts. I don’t mean I loved eating them. I’m pretty sure I refused to try them, and unfortunately that’s the culinary story of my childhood. I loved playing with them in my dad’s huge garden, peeling the tiny cabbages down to their core.
Have you ever seen Brussels sprouts growing? They are pretty comical, a tall plant with the little “sprouts” all along the stalk, sometimes with leaves only on top. Not unlike a tiny palmetto tree in shape. Sometimes farmers bring the sprouts to market on the stems, sometimes off.
As you might expect from their cabbage shape Brussels sprouts are yet another member of the brassica family. Although they can be steamed or boiled, their relatively large surface area to size ratio makes them a fabulous candidate for caramelizing, either by sautéeing or roasting. Roasting means less work, in my opinion, as you just put them in the oven and stir once during cooking.
I recently tried Brussels roasted with grapes at a party. It was a pretty simple dish with just the sprouts and grapes mixed with olive oil, roasted, and balsamic vinegar added at the end. I had never tried it before and was surprised at the plethora of recipes for it online. Many include thyme or nuts but I preferred the simplicity of just the grapes and Brussels (there were folks with nut allergies at the party). Roasting and caramelizing brings out the natural sweetness of a food. This sweetness was complemented by the grapes, and the texture contrast was good, too.
Martha’s version includes thyme, as do quite a few others. Some recipes call for the grapes to be cut, and others to roast the grapes separately. Save yourself some trouble and keep the grapes whole, the Brussels, too (unless they’re large), and roast them all one the same pan. Do add one more step that many recipes skip: toss your veggies with the seasonings and oil together in a bowl. Yes, it’s more to wash but it distributes the oil and seasonings so much more evenly and thoroughly that it’s worth it. You can wash that bowl pretty quickly while the roasting is happening.
Although red grapes are recommended for this recipe, it’s because of their looks, not taste. I had some of both red and green and used both. The green grapes end up looking like the sprouts once cooked, size and color wise - not a bad thing. The ratio of sprouts to grapes also varies in each recipe. Work with what you have and what seems good to you. I went with Martha’s ratio of about equal amounts by weight. A higher ratio of grapes might encourage a sprouts-shy kid while fewer grapes would be more appropriate for someone with less of a sweet tooth. And add nuts if you love them. Suggested nuts are walnuts, pecans, or almonds. Large pieces are preferable over small. Add nuts near the end of cooking if you only have small bits.
Finally, I added the vinegar near the end of cooking and put the pan back in the oven long enough for the dish to brown a little more. If you’re not cooking for vegetarians try adding some bacon.
Adapted from Foodie with Family
Photos by Zachary Cross
Happy Thanksgiving week! Today I’m going to link to previous side dish and dessert recipes on the blog that will work well for your Thanksgiving dinner, as well as share a recipe for a new twist on mashed potatoes. I love how you can buy nearly all that you need for your Thanksgiving meal at the market, from the turkey to dessert ingredients and all the side dishes in between.
There’s not a turkey recipe on the blog but this recipe for roasted chicken has a yummy-sounding maple-apricot glaze. There’s a classic stuffing recipe, a stuffed pumpkin, green beans, Holiday Broccoli Salad, Brown Butter Sweet Potato Cornbread, and Sweet and Spicy Brussels Sprouts. This weekend at a party I sampled some Brussels roasted with grapes and it was a fabulous combination. I don’t have the recipe, but this sounds close, minus the soy sauce. Moving on to dessert, there’s this technique for cooking your pumpkin. There’s apple pie, a Honey Pecan Pie, and Sweet Potato Pot de Creme. For your leftovers there is Second Helpings Pot Pie. Finally, some words of wisdom about hosting large holiday meals, plus another side dish. Also, you can use search bar on the right hand side of the page to help you find dishes to use your CSA share or market finds. Remember to include some ferments to help you digest all that food! Harvest Roots Ferments has fermented veggies and kombucha and Blue Indian Kombucha will fill your growler with their kombucha.
Turnips are a member of the brassica family, like broccoli but more resembling mustard greens on top and kohlrabi on the bottom - or a giant radish. Some turnip varieties are grown specifically for the tops; some mainly for the roots; and some are good for both. Unlike a potato, the top is always edible, so be sure to save your turnip tops to prepare alone or in combination with other greens.
I was looking for a new way to prepare turnips last week. I appreciate them raw, roasted, and braised, but I have not come to love a simple purée. I do love mashed potatoes, though. This recipe from Fashionable Foods calls for roasting turnips and potatoes together. Then they’re mashed with butter and milk, though they retain a good bit of texture. This makes for a chunky mashed potato dish with an extra punch of flavor from the browned bits and the turnips. Fresh thyme adds another layer of flavor and a nice color. Note: this is a fairly small recipe but should increase easily.
From: Fashionable Foods
6 Yukon Gold Potatoes (medium in size), peeled and cubed
2 Turnips, peeled and cubed
2 Tablespoons Extra-Light Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper
½ Cup Whole Milk, warmed
2 Tablespoons Butter, melted
1 Sprig Fresh Thyme, leaves removed from stem and finely chopped
Photos by Zachary Cross
“Then the sun peeped over the edge of the prairie and the whole world glittered. Every tiniest thing glittered rosy toward the sun and pale blue towards the sky, and along every blade of grass ran rainbow sparkles...the bitter frost had killed the hay and the garden. The tangled tomato vines with their red and green tomatoes, and the pumpkin vines holding their broad leaves over the green young pumpkins, were all glittering bright in frost...The frost had killed them. It would leave every living green thing dead...The vines were wilted down, soft and blackening, so they picked even the smallest green tomatoes. ‘What are you going to do with the green ones?,’ Laura asked, and Ma answered, ‘Wait and see.’” From The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder
It’s that time of year, or nearly so, depending on where you live in the Chattanooga area. The mountains have seen frost, and some of the valleys too. The end of the season potentially leaves unripe summer foods: peppers, squash, and tomatoes, to name a few. Ma Ingalls made good use of those green fruits that year, pickling the tomatoes and making a pie from a green pumpkin.
Yes, fruit. We often eat fruits of plants as vegetables, though pumpkins are as often made into desserts. Less often do people think of tomatoes as fruits or eat them sweet, though it was common in the Ingalls’ time to eat ripe tomatoes with sugar and cream. When I told Jeffrey, my husband, about this he tried out ripe tomatoes in his vanilla ice cream and declared it a winner.
Jeffrey’s love of tomatoes inspired my hunt for this week’s recipe. Traditionally for his birthday I’d made a fairly involved carrot cake, a really yummy recipe from Cook’s Illustrated. One year we returned home from vacation the day before his birthday. I did not have enough carrots in the fridge but I did have an abundance of green tomatoes in the garden. A new favorite was discovered! My kids are jealous that their birthdays fall in winter and spring when green tomatoes are not to be found.
There is one aspect to this recipe that resembles our favorite carrot cake: draining excess juices off the vegetable ingredient. The carrot cake recipe uses sugar, this recipe uses salt. Be sure to rinse and drain the tomatoes very well so the cake will be neither salty (the recipe does take into account any trace of residual salt) nor too wet.
Whatever variety of tomatoes you have will work with this recipe: cherries, large tomatoes, paste, any and all. If you don’t see green tomatoes at market, ask! That’s how I supplied the main ingredient for subsequent years’ birthday cakes.
I’m posting this recipe as originally written but my photo is of a cake made with brown sugar, hence the darker color. I also vary with the spices. Jeffrey loves ginger, so I usually include a teaspoon of dried ginger or more of fresh. This makes the cake taste like a moist gingerbread. I also cut back on the nutmeg and sometimes throw in some cloves. Tweak to your liking.
This is a cake made of a lot of tomatoes and a little batter. The batter starts out a little dry but the tomatoes add the final moisture needed. It’s a sweet batter, so cut back a little on the sugar if desired. It does not need a frosting but that can certainly be festive. Caramel sauce or chocolate sauce are other options to try as toppings.
4 cups chopped green tomatoes
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 cup butter
2 cups white sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
Place chopped tomatoes in a bowl and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon salt. Let stand 10 minutes. Place in a colander, rinse with cold water and drain.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9x13 inch baking pan.
Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and beat until creamy.
Sift together flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, soda and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Add raisins and nuts to dry mixture; add dry ingredients to creamed mixture. Dough will be very stiff. Mix well.
Add drained tomatoes and mix well. Pour into the prepared 9 x 13 inch pan.
Bake for 40 to 45 minutes in the preheated oven, or until toothpick inserted into cake comes out clean.
Go to Allrecipes for a printable recipe.
Photos by Zachary Cross
It’s November and that means it’s time for our neighborhood’s annual chili dinner - and contest. In the past I’ve usually made the same vegetarian chili, but it’s not something I’m eating anymore. My husband Jeffrey still makes it and makes an extra spicy batch to serve alongside it. I’ve been hunting for a go-to chili that fits my paleo-ish style of eating better.
I had a ham roast from Hoe Hop in the freezer and decided to try a new recipe with it. I’m still learning about cooking with meat and a ham roast has cooked up consistently well in my slow cooker. I couldn’t quite find what I wanted so I took ideas from Food Network and Slow Cooker Gourmet and combined them. A lot of recipes called for boneless and cut up pork. I used one with a small bone in it and threw it in whole.
I came up with a recipe that uses not only pork but also the fall flavors of apples, pumpkins, and greens. A couple of recipes called for beer, but I wanted to bring a gluten-free chili to the supper so opted for a hopped hard cider. I used Bold Rock brand but I know there are others. You could also use regular beer, sweet apple cider, or some combination of both. Cider will be sweeter and beer less so.
I wanted a mild chili, so I skipped the jalapeños I originally planned to use, but did sauté them separately with onions and served them on the side. I replaced them with some bell peppers that I had blanched and frozen earlier this year. Peppers are still plentiful at the market and you can use whatever kind you like from sweet to crazy hot - Jeffrey used a combination of habanero, Scotch bonnet, Thai, and ghost peppers for his. Yikes!
The pumpkin purée adds a depth of flavor and some extra nutrition. I had a nice orange purée but the color gets lost in the rest of the chili so don’t worry if yours is a different color. For greens I had spicy Asian mustard, though the flavor is mild once long cooked. Here’s another area to vary the flavor. I parboiled the greens, stems and all, partly because I wanted a milder flavor, and partly because of the toxins found in greens. Some folks prefer the spicy flavor, and do well with less cooking time. If that’s you, throw your greens in at the last minute. Also try different greens if mustard is not available or there’s another type you prefer.
For spice I tried Frontier brand chili powder for the first time and it’s my new favorite. It has a smooth flavor and is nice and mild for the spice wimps around our house. I wanted to use fresh herbs and chose to add the cilantro and oregano at the end. I would probably add more fresh oregano next time, ¼ cup like the cilantro.
The pumpkin sour cream was a fun garnish. The purée barely tinted the sour cream but gave it a bit of extra flavor that was a nice surprise. More cilantro on top was yummy, and for those who wanted to turn up the heat they could add the browned onions and jalapeños.
I thought it was yummy, and apparently other meat eaters thought so, too; this chili won second place in the neighborhood contest! And there wasn’t enough for leftovers so it remains to be seen if it’s better the next day. A good problem to have!
If you don’t have a slow cooker try the method Paleo Leap uses for their spicy pork chili.
~3 lbs pork roast (I used a ham roast)
3 Tbsp fat (I used trimmed pork fat plus palm oil)
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1 small bell pepper, chopped, or 2 jalapeños
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1 28 oz can diced fire roasted tomatoes
1 12 oz bottle of hopped hard cider (or use beer, sweet cider, or a combination)
½ cup sour cream
2 Tbsp fresh oregano, chopped
¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped, plus more for serving
1 ¾ cups pumpkin purée
1 bunch mustard greens
Mix 3 tablespoons of the pumpkin, ½ cup sour cream, and salt to taste then chill.
Melt the fat in a skillet and add the onions, salting them lightly. Sauté them for five minutes, then add the peppers and salt lightly. Saute for about five minutes more then add the garlic, cumin, and chili powder and saute until all the veggies are soft. Add the sauté to your slow cooker.
Salt the pork roast well and place on top of the veggies. Pour over the canned tomatoes, then the cider or beer. Cook on low for 7-9 hours.
Separate the stems from the mustard greens. Parboil for 7 minutes, then drain and chop. Remove the pork and shred the meat and save any bones or fat for stock. Return the meat to the pot along with mustard, remaining pumpkin purée, ¼ cup cilantro, and oregano. Cook on low for 30 minutes longer, then add salt to taste. Serve with pumpkin sour cream and additional cilantro.
Printable recipe here.
Photos by Zachary Cross
While visiting family recently in Portsmouth, Virginia, I went out out to eat at a local, farm-to-table restaurant, Homegrown. There were many yummy-sounding menu items and I enjoyed my appetizer of mixed pickled veggies and my meal of brisket, mashed root veggies, and mixed greens. Someone else in our party had whole, braised (I think) bok choi as as one of their sides and, if I had not had such a fabulous meal of my own I might have been jealous. So when I saw Tant Hill Farms’ pac choi I knew what I wanted to make.
Summer Black Pac Choi is a variety of Chinese cabbage which in turn is a type of brassica, like broccoli, brussels sprouts, mustard greens, and many others. Chinese cabbages do not head up like green and red cabbage, but make stalks “...reminiscent of mustard greens or celery” (Wikipedia). As the name implies, the cabbages, are popular in China and throughout Asia. The name is a an Anglicization of the Cantonese and can be spelled bok choy, bok choi, pak choy, or just called Chinese cabbage. They’re all basically the same so don’t be afraid to try varieties by another name. The leaves range in color from light green to dark, almost black, and the stalks from white to green. Interestingly the summer black variety is all light green.
There are also often a variety of sizes of the heads. Until recently I’ve mostly seen single large bunches. These are great for chopping and stir-frying, although halving and roasting works well, too. Tiny, “baby” heads are also sold, and these are best cooked whole, whichever method you choose. My bunches were medium-sized and a nice size for roasting.
The first recipe I worked with said that they tasted like mild roasted brussels sprouts. I actually found them, mainly unadorned in this recipe, to be stronger than brussels. That could be because of our hot, dry weather making them stronger. Or perhaps I should have used butter. I liked the flavor much better when complemented with Asian flavors such as sesame and tamari in the second recipe.
Don’t make my method mistake; I crowded the pan, thinking the bunches would shrink and leave room between them. Nope, at least not very much. Leave space and the leaves will crisp up nicely and be crunchy like kale chips. If you would prefer the leaves soft (a different but also good texture) then do place the bunches closer together. I left off the sesame seeds but I’m sure they would add an extra touch of taste and crunch.
I’m posting the Asian-flavored recipe but you can make them with just oil and salt, roasting for the same amount of time. See Epicurious for more info. Or EatingWell for a lemony variation. Vary the times and ingredients based on the size and quantity of your cabbage. If baby cabbage, use whole. Halve medium-sized ones, and quarter the larger.
Adapted from The Wheatless Kitchen
4 medium heads of pac choi
2 Tbsp neutral oil (I used sesame and palm)
2 tsp roasted sesame oil
2-3 Tbsp tamari
2 cloves garlic, minced
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
2. Halve the pac choi lengthwise. In a small bowl whisk together the remaining ingredients.
3. Place pac choi on a large baking sheet and pour the marinade all over the wedges. Gently rub the pac choi with your fingers to make sure the marinade gets under some of those layers.
4. Roast 10 minutes, cut side down. Flip, and roast 5 minutes more.
Serves 4 as a side dish. Printable recipe here.