Sunday, December 26, 2010

Spiced Cranberry Duff

Spiced Cranberry Duff with eggnog from Ronnybrook Farms

 Writing and cooking from: Rhinebeck, NY

Merry belated Christmas!! I hope you enjoyed it and cooked up some yummies with your loved ones. We certainly did and I think we're all still suffering the effects of sugar overload and looking forward to eating some salad. :)

That said, I have a dessert recipe for you. It's rich, sweet, and tart, but filled with fruit so it's just a little bit lighter than your chocolate-filled dessert varieties. It's bright red for Christmas, but would be a hit on New Year's Eve as well. Particularly if you serve it with champagne instead of eggnog...but that glass of eggnog I served with the Spiced Cranberry Duff isn't just any eggnog so you may want to get some anyway, particularly if you live in NY's Hudson Valley. The eggnog is from Ronnybrook Farms. It's so creamy it's almost custard and seasoned with just a little bit of nutmeg. It comes in a glass bottle and its bottled at the farm. And it was featured on Iron Chef Eggnog Ice Battle. Bobby Flay made a cocktail with eggnog, rum, and champagne...that might be worth a try too.

But back to the dessert itself. What is a duff? Traditionally, it's a steamed or boiled English pudding, (which in England simply means dessert). Martha Stewart makes a New England Cranberry Duff, which I modeled mine after. It's basically her recipe with a few modifications - it's thicker, uses a different type of nut, and has more spices. Like Emeril would say, I kicked it up a notch. If you're ready to try this almost upside-down cake with a fun name (duff, duff, duff), here's the recipe:

Spiced Cranberry Duff


For the berry layer:
2 ½ cups fresh cranberries
1/3 cup walnuts, chopped
1/3 cup sugar
1 ½ t. cinnamon
½ t. ginger

For the cake layer:
3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup flour
½ tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 325 Fahrenheit. Generously grease bottom and sides (only about halfway up) of an 8x8 baking dish. Spread cranberries in an even layer in dish. Sprinkle walnuts on top. In a small bowl, mix sugar, cinnamon, and ginger. Pour mixture evenly over berries and nuts.

Whisk eggs and sugar until thick (about a minute with an electric mixer). Gradually add flour and salt. Beat in butter slowly. Beat until smooth. Pour cake batter evenly over berries.

Bake 45-55 minutes. Cake will be golden at the edges. Cool 15 minutes or more. Overturn duff onto serving platter.

Duff bubbling in the oven

 Local ingredients featured today:
Ronnybrook Farms eggnog, Ancramdale, NY (25 miles from Rhinebeck)
Giroux Poultry Farm eggs, NY
Cranberries (may not be local, I bought Ocean Spray brand, but they are made in the USA and in season right now)

Spiced Cranberry Duff

Monday, December 6, 2010

Bangers and Mash

Writing and cooking from: Pittsburgh, PA

Winter is the time of year for comfort food. Warm, creamy meals with gravy. Beef stew. Hearty bean soup. My Mom's chicken and dumplings. Mashed potatoes.

Bangers (or sausages) and mash are a traditional English comfort food.  It's an inexpensive and easy working class dish revived in modern English pubs.

I made this last Friday night because it was simple but heartwarming.  After a long week, my boyfriend and I were definitely ready for some comfort food and this fit the bill.

It's easily adaptable, make it with your own mashed potato recipe and your favorite gravy. I made my mashed potatoes like my Mom does, whipped up with just a bit of milk. I won't share the recipe here because this was my first time making my own mashed potatoes and I put in too much milk. They came out okay, I was happy to eat the leftovers with yesterday's roast, but there are better versions to come I'm sure. I will share the rest of the instructions for making this though.

Bangers and Mash with Onion Gravy

Mashed potatoes, prepared how you like
1-2 sausages per person, preferably traditional English bangers (I couldn't find them so used sweet Italian pork sausages)
2 T butter
1 small sweet onion, chopped fine
3-4 T flour
2 cups milk

Prepare the mashed potatoes your favorite way while cooking the sausages and gravy. The potatoes should cook in a similar amount of time to the sausages.

Cook the sausages (or bangers) in a large skillet. It will take about 20-25 minutes for them to brown and cook through. When they're done, remove the sausages from the skillet and set aside in a covered dish to keep warm. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in the same skillet with the fat and juices from the sausage. Add the onions and saute until soft. Stir in the flour 1 tablespoon at the time and cook into a roux with the fats. Add the milk a little bit at a time, stirring constantly. Allow the gravy to simmer, still stirring, until desired thickness is reached. Serve the gravy over the mashed potatoes and sausages. Enjoy!

Ingredients come from:
Potatoes, Penn's Corner CSA
Italian pork sausage, Whole Foods
Butter, Horizon Organics
Sweet onion, Penn's Corner CSA
Flour, generic, not organic
Milk, Turner's Dairy, Penn Hills, PA

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Sunday Roast (in the CrockPot!)

My roast all tucked in and ready to start roasting!

Writing and cooking from: Pittsburgh, PA

I made my first roast today. It was edible. I'm proud of myself.

One thing that's become abundantly clear from my cooking adventures this week is that even though I cook often and I've been living in my own space and cooking for myself full time for well over a year, I missed out on some of the basics. I made my first batch of mashed potatoes this weekend, too (but more on that in tomorrow's post). I can make stellar coq au vin and boeuf bourgignon, but before today I'd never made a simple roast.

I've watched my Mom make them. In the tradition of many mothers before her she would often cook a roast during the winter and feed us on the leftovers for several days. It's quite handy and part of why I made the roast today - it's finals here for us in the Chatham MFA in Creative Writing program. I actually probably shouldn't be taking the time to write this post since I can't add it to the new pages I need to generate this week...but it's completely different here we go anyway, at least I won't be cooking because I'll be eating roast beef! It's all an effort to get this week properly set up...

Anyway, back to the topic at hand, the roast. I have plenty of side dish things around for this week but I knew I needed something to serve with it so I decided I'd pick up a roast or a whole chicken or something. I figured I'd go to the Farmer's Market on Saturday morning and get something there. There was only one flaw - I had a little too much fun Friday night and slept through the Saturday morning market. It happens right?

Luckily, there's Whole Foods. I found a bottom round roast on sale and it was labelled local.

I don't know exactly where it came from, but the sign above the meat case did promise that the beef labelled local is from the mid-Atlantic region. That's better than I can do at most supermarkets. The label also promised antibiotic and hormone-free meat from an animal raised on a vegetarian diet. Stuff like this makes carnivores like me happy.

While I don't  eat a lot of meat sometimes it just sounds good. My body asks for it and I give in. We can't all be vegetarians and there's nothing wrong with any diet you choose. In the winter, I'm especially fond of that meat and potatoes combination that hints of 1950s family dinners prepared by mothers like Donna Reed. My Mom made these dinners too, so it's got it's own nostalgia as well, although I made this roast quite different from the way Mom would've done it. There was no way mine would have come out the same as hers anyway so why try?

And now...the recipe:

Sunday Round Roast

2.5 - 3 pound bottom round roast
2 small cloves garlic, minced
1 T fresh parsley, chopped fine
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/2 cup brewed coffee
 Plus 1 T butter and 1 T flour if you want to make gravy

Mix the garlic, parsley, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Rub into the roast. Place roast in the bottom of your slow cooker. Pour coffee over all. Cook on high for 3-5 hours. Meat is done when tender and internal temperature is between 140 - 160 degrees Farenheit.

When the roast is done remove from the crock and let sit for at least 10 minutes to lock in all the juices. In the meantime, poor the drippings (all that leftover coffee and beef drippings into a small bowl to cool slightly). Melt 1 tablespoon of butter over medium low heat. When it has melted and started to bubble slightly mix in 1 tablespoon of flour to make a roux. Once the butter and flour are incorporated, add the drippings a little bit at a time, stirring constantly and allowing the gravy to thicken after each addition. This makes a thin but delicious gravy that could also be used as dip for a sandwich with leftover beef.  If you want a thicker gravy, make a double batch of the roux.

It's that simple! Serve it with mashed potatoes, baked potatoes, rice, polenta, salad, winter squash...the options are endless. A word of warning though, it's very important to check on this and believe the thermometer rather than the time. The preliminary recipes I looked at for general cooking instructions in the slow cooker all insisted on 4 1/2 to 6 hours in the crockpot on high even for roast cooked to medium doneness. I should have taken the roast out when I looked at it, just out of curiosity not wanting to take it out, after 3 hours and the temperature was about 150. An hour later the temperature was about 180 and the meat was definitely well done. I'm a medium girl through and through so I'm a little bummed about that. The good news though is that it's moist anyway since I did it in the crockpot and the pan gravy was a wonderful addition.

My first roast. It's pinker in the picture than in life. *sigh* Next time, I will take it out earlier. It's still good though!

Where the ingredients are from:
Bottom round roast, Whole Foods, labelled local
Garlic, Penn's Corner CSA
Parsley, Penn's Corner CSA
salt, pepper, and flour, generic, not organic
coffee, Newman's Own Organic in conjunction with Green Mountain Coffee, Certified Fair Trade via Giant Eagle
butter, Horizon Organics via Whole Foods

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Spaghetti Squash with Bechamel

Writing and cooking from: Pittsburgh, PA
My first bechamel sauce
I’ve been tackling my niche pumpkin/spaghetti squash slowly. All the scooped out innards filled my 3-quart mixing bowl so if you have any recipes for spaghetti squash, by all means, share them in the comments!! I froze a bunch of it but still have quite a bit left.

Spaghetti squash, as I mentioned in my previous post, is one of my favorite vegetables. I enjoy using it as a pasta replacement. My brother makes a good spaghetti squash dish with tomato sauce that sounds appealing on a cool day like today.

Also appealing is squash with béchamel sauce. Béchamel is one of the five mother sauces of French cuisine. The others are sauce veloute, tomato sauce, brown sauce, and (another personal favorite) hollandaise sauce. Each of these sauces can be served from the basic recipe but may also be used as a base for other sauces. Béchamel, for instance, is a base for many cheese sauces.

Mastering these five sauces is essential to the repertoire of a seasoned cook or chef. I’m pleased at how well the béchamel for this recipe turned out, I was quite worried about burning the roux, but the art of paying attention served well and my roux, the essential thickening agent for béchamel, turned out rather well.

As for the other sauces, I make a good tomato sauce, but I’ve never attempted a traditional veloute or brown sauce. My mom has taught me how to make good hollandaise but I have yet to be able to replicate one without her supervision (I have the same issue with pie crusts…) Perhaps a remedial lesson when I’m home for the holidays is in order…

But back to the matter at hand, béchamel and spaghetti squash. This was delicious! At first, I used just a little bit of the béchamel and had a light side dish. But then I had a whim to add a bit more béchamel…it’s such a wonderful sauce, rich and creamy, how could I resist? It turned out to be a delightful decision that left me with a bowl full of spaghetti squash strands and sauce that were as creamy and comforting as a bowl of macaroni and cheese. Does a meal get much better than that?

I don’t think so. Here’s what to do:

Spaghetti Squash with Béchamel

Cook spaghetti squash ahead of time in preferred manner (bake, boil, microwave, slow cook…options abound and directions are available in most basic cookbooks as well as online). It varies depending on the size of the squash, also.

Béchamel Sauce

2 T butter
2 T flour
dash salt
dash pepper
fresh grated nutmeg
1 cup milk (room temperature or slightly warmed)

Set out all ingredients before turning on the stove. It’s essential to have everything at hand. Mix the flour and spices in a small bowl and set it by the stove. Measure the milk. And then begin…
Melt butter over low to medium heat. When butter has just melted, (before it burns!) add the flour and spice mixture. Stir and cook for a couple of minutes until the roux is a nice golden color. Add milk a little at a time, stirring constantly, making sure the roux incorporates completely into the milk. Bring slowly to a boil and cook until sauce thickens. When sauce has reached desired thickness remove from heat. Makes about 1 cup of sauce.

Serve immediately over warm spaghetti squash.

Where my ingredients are from:

I’m adding this new section to each post so that you know where my ingredients are coming from, what I can find locally and what I haven’t found locally just yet. None of these places give me any freebies or kickbacks. Everything on this blog is what I cook and eat for myself.

So, the ingredients:

Spaghetti squash – Actually a niche pumpkin from Pucker Brush Farm, Shelocta, PA (50 miles from PGH)
Butter – Horizon brand, not local but Organic and American made
Flour – generic, neither local nor organic
Salt – generic, neither local nor organic
Pepper – generic, neither local nor organic
Nutmeg – Not sure…Mom gave me a few cloves from the stash in her spice cabinet
Milk – Turner’s Dairy, Penn Hills, PA (10 miles from PGH)

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Cooking my niche pumpkin

In a long ago and far away post, I mentioned that I won a niche pumpkin at the Penn's Corner Farm Alliance CSA picnic. The gregarious giant was donated by Pam at Pucker Brush Farm in Shelocta, PA, less than fifty miles from my apartment!

So what is a niche pumpkin?

It's yellow and orange and covered in knobbly worts. When I got it almost 2 months ago, it was much greener - half of it was a dark green speckled with yellow worts. It was quite pretty and very mysterious so I let it decorate the table for a couple of months, but I assumed the absense of the green meant it was time to cook this sucker. 

Before starting out, I had been told only two things about the niche pumpkin:

1. It is a squash/pumpkin hybrid.
2. The more worts it has, the sweeter it is. 

I observed a few more:
1. It's heavy.
2. It has a hard rind.
3. It's weird looking, but I think it's kind of cute anyway.

I made several assumptions:

1. It will be delicious.
2. It will be the consistency of a pumpkin, butternut, or acorn squash.
3. It will be sweet since it has lots of worts.
4. It will take at least 2 hours to cook.

With only that to go on, I turned my oven to 350 degrees, sliced about a dozen vent holes in the gourd, put it in a casserole dish and stuck it in the oven. After about an hour, it was much more tender than I expected. Assumption #4 turned out wrong, it took just under an hour and a half until I deemed it ready to come out of the oven. 

I left it on the counter to cool for a couple of hours. It took longer to cool than it did to cook! And I didn't even let it cool completely. I was very inpatient and spent most of that time fidgeting around my apartment, doing a bit of cleaning, and repeatedly coming back to poke the pumpkin to test it's temperature.
I even cut the top off to speed the cooling process:

I was excited to cut it open. I was imagining loaves of pumpkin bread for the freezer, mashed squash with butter and pepper, maybe even some muffins or a coffee cake or a dessert of some sort. Perhaps a pie!

But when I finally got to hack it open I was a bit surprised:

It looked and tasted like a spaghetti squash!! Fibrous, stringy, like spaghetti, sweet, but not sugary just not savory...

At first, I was disappointed. So much for that pumpkin biscotti recipe I've been working on. But then I remembered that the spaghetti squash is one of my all-time favorite vegetables!  I immediately made a bowl with butter, salt, pepper, and a little grated cheese, just like Mom used to serve it. 

I've got to reevaluate my menu planning...but I have a feeling there's going to be some deliciousness coming from this niche pumpkin.

Monday, November 29, 2010

After the CSA - What's left?

Above you see my kitchen table filled with all the containers of what I have left from my CSA. I picked up my last box just under 2 weeks ago, but between things that I froze and things that have naturally long shelf-lives, I've got quite a bit left.

Here's the full list of what's on the table:

½ c blueberries
1.5 c rhubarb
6 bell peppers
6 Hungarian wax peppers
2 jalapenos
1 Carmen sweet pepper
2 c snap beans
2 eggs
½ gallon apple cider
just under ½ gallon apple cider vinegar
1.5 pounds sweet potatoes
1 pound white potatoes
1 butternut squash
2 delicata squash
1 niche pumpkin
3 onions (2 red, 1 white)
8 oz Boltonfeta cheese
1 bunch fresh parsley
2.5 cloves of garlic

Many of these items will need to be used soon, preferably before the end of the year. Since I’m heading home to my parents house for the last couple weeks of 2010, I’ll probably be bringing a few of these items with me. I’m thinking the squashes and the garlic will need to come along. The potatoes and the cider will be gone as will the cheese and eggs. But most of the frozen items will be good until at least February, if not longer.

All in all, the CSA was one of the best investments I’ve ever made. I’ve made tons of dishes that I never would have otherwise. I even figured out how to eat beets in a way I can enjoy them (which is nice because they are pretty and healthy).

Mostly, though, I’ve just enjoyed discovering what grows in Western Pennsylvania and the best ways to eat it. My interest in local, seasonal food is higher than it’s ever been – it’s gone from passing interest to obsession – and I intend to keep eating locally as best I can during these winters months before the CSA begins again. The farmers around here just grow stuff that’s too delicious not to gobble it up all year long.

I hope you’ll keep coming back to see what I cook next.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Countdown to Thanksgiving: Simple Cauliflower

For the last day of the countdown, something simple: lightly cooked cauliflower.

Cooking up the cauliflower

Sauteed cauliflower with red pepper flakes and  Parmigiano-Reggiano is another family favorite. It's easy enough for a weeknight (which is usually when my mother would make it as a side with pork cutlets), but delicious enough for your Thanksgiving table. You can put it together on the stovetop while your turkey is resting.

This is one of my all-time favorite side dishes so I was very excited when some cauliflower ended up in my CSA box. I'd been hoping for it for awhile since I knew it was in season, but cauliflower is a temperamental crop and therefore less abundant than other members of the Brassicaceae family, which includes cabbage, broccoli, brussels sprouts, and kale.

Cauliflower has its roots in Asia Minor, but has been popular in Italy and Turkey for centuries. (What is it with me and vegetables that are popular in Italy?) Anyhow, I could see this cauliflower being an Italian recipe…I need to ask Mom where she got it. But here it is for you:

Simple Cauliflower

1 head cauliflower, chopped into bite sized pieces
3 T olive oil
red pepper flakes to taste
Parmigiano-Reggiano (or other hard cheese) to taste

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add cauliflower and red pepper flakes. Cook until cauliflower is tender. (If the cauliflower starts to brown up before it becomes tender, cover the skillet to help the tenderizing process along.) Serve topped with grated cheese.

Well, folks, that’s the last recipe of the series because Thanksgiving is TOMORROW! Thanks for reading! I hope you’ve enjoyed the Countdown to Thanksgiving and will return for more recipes after the holiday. If you make any of these recipes for Thanksgiving or just a weeknight dinner, please leave comments with your results. Let me know what you like! This is a great time of year for sharing experiences in the kitchen as well as favorite recipes. Feel free to treat this as a forum to do so.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Countdown to Thanksgiving: Spicy Cabbage Soup

Cabbage Soup is an easy dish with origins as a peasant food and a modern history of being used for the Cabbage Soup Diet. Recipes vary from a mostly cabbage, low-calorie version for the diet, to ones that include pasta, eggs, meat, or even cream depending on the heritage of the cook.

This isn’t a recipe my family usually makes for Thanksgiving, although there was usually cabbage on the table. Dad would make red cabbage sautéed with bacon every year. If I’d gotten a red cabbage in my CSA box, I probably would have made some myself because it’s delicious! However, I ended up with a green cabbage so had to come up with something else.

Prepped veggies in the Crock-Pot

It’s starting to get cold, so I will begin to eat a lot of soup. I love it in the winter and after making an initial batch, it’s an easy whole meal or part of a meal with a sandwich on the side. This particular soup doesn’t create much of a meal on its own. I top mine with lots of cheese and crackers. I’ve also cooked an egg into the soup when reheating it.

I have to warn you also, that this soup is very spicy. It would be too spicy for me to eat without some crackers in it. Next time, I think I’ll make it with just one chile. It is delicious and I’ve been happily eating it, but it’s easier to add heat at the table than take it away. If you cook this soup as written, you shouldn’t need to add any Tabasco at the table.

Spicy Cabbage Soup

1 cabbage, shredded or sliced
1 bunch carrots, peeled and chopped
3 bell peppers, seeds removed, chopped into slices
1 medium sweet onion, peeled and diced
2 T parsley, chopped fine
½ T frozen thyme leaves (fresh or dried are fine, too, I had some frozen from early in the CSA seaon)
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 chiles, stems removed
6 cups water
3 cups chicken broth.

Combine all ingredients in Crock-Pot. Cook on high for 5-7 hours. Remove the chiles before serving. Garnish with cheese, oyster crackers, herbs, and/or microgreens if desired.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Countdown to Thanksgiving: Bruschetta

Bruschetta (pronounced brus-ketta), from the Italian bruscare meaning to toast over coals. In Italy, the season for new olive oil is getting underway now and a simple bruschetta is a favorite way to celebrate the new flavors. The traditional bruschetta is just a slice of toasted bread rubbed with raw garlic and drizzled with olived oil. Simple and delicious (and local if you happen to be going to Italy this winter).

You can dress up bruschetta any way you like. The options are nearly endless. My Mom makes Mario Batali's White Bean Bruschetta, which is a personal favorite of mine. My brother, Ryan, also makes another favorite, a simple garlic, tomato, and basil bruschetta, which I duplicated below, though not nearly as well as he makes it.

Tomato and Basil Bruschetta

Remove seeds from tomatoes. Salt insides and let drain while preparing toasts. Toast slices of thick Italian bread under the broiler until crispy (or use a toaster if you must, not quite the same and takes longer, but your oven might be a little overused on Thanksgiving. I understand.) Rub each slice with raw garlic. Chop tomatoes and basil. Spoon mixture onto toasts. Serve.

Even though tomatoes grown outdoors aren't in season right now, a lot of people are growing greenhouse or hydroponic tomatoes locally because they are so popular. Chances are, you'll be able to find some at the farmer's market.

Roasted Red Pepper Bruschetta

The method is the same as above: toast, rub with garlic, add topping. If you roasted and jarred red peppers over the summer use those, if not, you can probably find some jarred, roasted ones at the farmer's market.

Other bruschetta topping options:
Apple or pear slices and cheese
Roasted garlic
Carrot Top Pesto
Mozzarella and herbs

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Countdown to Thanksgiving: Butternut Squash Risotto

Risotto. An Italian rice dish that is so much more than just rice. It’s rich, creamy, and one of my favorite foods. It’s simple to make, but all-consuming. You have to be ready to commit yourself to half an hour or more at the stove alone stirring in broth. And it’s best served immediately.

I picture this being the perfect side dish for someone who desperately wants an hour away from the family to prepare. Tell them you have to concentrate so you don’t burn the rice and that you’re sure everyone will love the dish when you’re done. Then pour a glass of wine and commune with the ingredients while everyone else stirs up the family drama without you. Sounds nice doesn’t it?

I combined a bunch of my favorite ingredients for this wonderful fall dish: rice, squash, garlic, and red wine. It’s comfort food, plain and simple, which is the best kind of dish for Thanksgiving.

Butternut Squash Risotto

I adapted this recipe from  ones by Mario Batali and Giada de Laurentiis, two fantastic Italian chefs.

3 T olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 butternut squash, par-cooked, peeled, diced
2 ¼ c. Arborio rice
½ c. semi sweet red wine
4-6 cups vegetable broth
3 T butter
¼ c. grana padano, grated (plus more for garnish)

Heat vegetable broth in a small pot on a back burner of the stove and allow to simmer while making the risotto.

Heat olive oil in a tall skillet or wide mouthed pot. Sauté garlic and squash for about 5 minutes. Add Arborio rice and toast for about 2 minutes. Add wine and stir in until absorbed. Add vegetable broth about ½ cup at a time, stirring continuously until each addition has dissolved. Continue to do this until rice is al dente, about 15-20 minutes. Taste it starting around 12 minutes and cook until rice reaches desired consistency. Stir in grana padano and butter. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil and some grated grana padano.

4 days to go…

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Countdown to Thanksgiving: Unabandoning the beet

Beets. I've been fighting with them for the entire growing season. I fell in love with beet greens in one of my first CSA boxes, those have been flying out of my fridge and into a skillet with garlic and an egg within a day or two of arrival in my apartment. But the roots at the bottom? Those dark red orbs? I just couldn't find a way to like them...and I tried a lot of things...

Roasted for use on salads
Sauteed with onions
Mixed into dip
Raw on salads

All of them rejects until I decided to bake with my beets. There were lots of recipes for chocolate beet cakes, but mixed reviews as to whether or not one could taste beets in the cake. So I nixed that before I even got out of the gate. I needed a trial run on some other baked good before I was willing to risk ruining perfectly good chocolate.

So I made bread. In the spirit of zucchini, pumpkin, potato and other vegetable breads, I mixed up some bread with beets. It made a beautiful pink dough.

It baked up brown...

But I liked loved the bread anyway!! It doesn't taste like beets. Well, okay...I could've pureed the beets better because a few chunks snuck in and those tasted like beets, but if you spend a couple more minutes blending it should be problem solved.

So without further ado, a new veggie bread for your Thanksgiving table:

Beet Bread

1 c. cooked, peeled beets
½ c. butter, partially melted
2 T maple syrup
½ T lemon juice
1 tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
1 ½ c. all-purpose flour

Puree beets with butter (to partially melt, I just put a stick of butter in the microwave for about a minute, it’s not exact, just helps to have a little of both, I found) – this is best done in a food processor or blender. 

Mix in maple syrup and lemon juice. Fold in remaining ingredients to form a soft dough.

Place dough in greased loaf pan. Bake in preheated oven at 375 degrees Farenheit for 25-35 minutes (until knife inserted in the center comes out clean).

Thick, dense beet bread. Enjoy!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Countdown to Thanksgiving: Broccoli Casserole

Broccoli Casserole is a favorite dish for me and my mom. We don't make it for Thanksgiving, but it'd be worth doing some year. The recipe is from Mom's grandmother Ella. I only made one change and used fresh instead of frozen broccoli. You can use either, but, at least in this area, broccoli is in season right now so I say get the fresh stuff!  

This casserole does use the oven but you can make it a day or two ahead and just reheat it after you pull out your turkey. Just be careful...if you make it too soon, it may not last until Thanksgiving because it looks so delicious fresh out of the oven!

Broccoli Casserole
Ingredient line-up

1 head of broccoli, chopped and cooked
1 cup mayonnaise
1 can cream of mushroom soup (11 oz.)
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup grated cheddar
1 cup Ritz crackers, crushed (approx. 20 crackers)
2 tablespoons butter, melted

Steam broccoli until fork tender (about 5 minutes). Mix mayonnaise, mushroom soup, and eggs with broccoli. Pour into 2 quart baking dish. Sprinkle with cheese. Mix crushed crackers and butter. Sprinkle over all. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes.

Fresh, hot broccoli casserole

I'm curious if this recipe was originally from Ritz because of the crackers. I found a recipe up from Kraft foods that is pretty different except for the broccoli and Ritz combo, it features Velveeta as well and doesn't sound nearly as satisfying. The recipe I shared seems pretty popular, though with many variations. Even Paula Deen has a nearly identical version. If anyone knows more of the history of this mysterious green casserole - please comment!

6 days to Thanksgiving...

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Countdown to Thanksgiving: 7 days, 7 recipes

Thanksgiving is one week from today. Are you ready? I am. Mostly for the few days break it will provide right before finals. I'm not cooking Thanksgiving dinner this year. Last year, I cooked my first solo turkey for my boyfriend and I. It came out well, but my favorite part was still the stuffing. It always is...

Side dishes and desserts are my favorite Thanksgiving foods to cook and to eat. So, each day for the next 7 days I'll be sharing a recipe for a side dish or dessert with fresh, seasonal ingredients to spice up any holiday (or any day) meal. Some of the recipes will be family favorites, others will be new ones I've put together over the past couple of weeks. All will feature ingredients from my CSA boxes (I picked up my last one yesterday *sniffle*).

Dark, leafy greens are in season once again as the growing season winds down in western PA.  The health benefits of these greens are tremendous so there's no better time than to eat them right now as we're entering a season marked by delicious sweets. They're full of fiber, which can temper how quickly carbohydrates are absorbed in the bloodstream, thus reducing big spikes and dips in blood sugar levels, which can mess with our appetites and moods. And with the days getting shorter and darker, we don't need any other potential mood dampeners. Luckily, the folate in greens also contributes to serotonin production and serotonin is good for moods! Yay! :) So if you can't get out in the sun, you can at least make some Southern style greens to warm up your body and mind.

Bowl of fresh greens: spinach, kale, carrot, and radish

With that in mind, I bring you the first side dish of the series: Slow Southern Greens. You can put these in the Crock-Pot on Thanksgiving morning and they'll be ready with the turkey (if they're ready early just switch to the warm setting and they'll be fine until dinner time). I used all my dark greens from my CSA box last week and I've been enjoying these dense cooked greens with sausage for lunch either as a side dish or on their own.
Greens and sausage in the crock

Slow Southern Greens

1.5 pounds (24 oz.) of fresh greens (whatever you like and that's local...collards and kale are both very good)
8-12 oz. sausage (sweet or hot, you choose)
2 T apple cider vinegar
½ c water
1 small chile, halved (optional)
1 tsp. sugar

Wash, de-stem, and chop greens. Prepared greens will nearly fill a 6 quart slow cooker, but will shrink to about a 1/5 of the original level. Add to greens: sausage (chopped or crumbled), cider vinegar, water, chile, and sugar. Cook for 5-7 hours on low or until greens are tender. Remove the chile halves before serving.

The greens shrank a lot and created a dense, spicy dish. If you're not into spicy, skip the chile. I used a sweet chicken sausage in a pork casing from Trader Joe's and the sweet and spicy combo suited my tastes well. You could easily go all sweet or all spicy with your choice of sausage and deciding whether or not to use the chile. Also, if you use the chile, you really do want to pick it out to avoid surprises. I put in a red chile so the two halves were easy to find.

Finished product...not pretty, but delicious. Promise.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Fettucine with Broccoli and Walnuts

Broccoli, walnuts, and garlic

I think this is my first broccoli post. I'm not sure how that happened. I really like broccoli. It's delicious (when properly cooked) and full of nutrients. It's an anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory agent.'s an Italian vegetable, first cultivated in Italy.

Fettucine with Broccoli and Walnuts

2 cups fresh broccoli, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
handful walnuts
1 Tablespoon olive oil
Cooked fettucine

You can easily make the sauce while the pasta is cooking. This is a very easy dish for two:
 Prepare the broccoli and garlic. Put in skillet with walnuts and olive oil. Saute 7-10 minutes, until broccoli is al dente. It should still be bright green and tender (not mushy) with a bite of bite left to it. Toss with pasta. Serve with grated cheese if desired.

I have to admit though, that while's not the healthiest way to eat your broccoli. The saute processes eliminates some of the nutrients from the broccoli, however, according to WHFoods, if you saute it for less than 3 minutes more nutrients will remain in each pretty floret, so this may be a worthwhile adaptation of the recipe depending on your broccoli preferences. Steaming and eating it raw are the healthiest options. Still, I think this is worth enjoying as above...nutrients or's just yummy.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

MGP goes out to eat: Casbah Mediterranean Kitchen and Wine Bar

With my CSA coming to an end in a couple of weeks, I want to try a few new things around here while keeping the focus on local, in season, and delicious but not being driven by the contents of my CSA boxes. I'll be checking out the farmer's market, restaurants, and still creating lots of new recipes. But I digress...

Last weekend, my parents came to visit. We checked out lots of Pittsburgh favorites like Church Brew Works, Make Your Mark, and Primanti Brothers, but our adventurous choice for something new to all of us was Casbah. It's just a few blocks from my apartment in Shadyside. Casbah is part of the big Burrito Restaurant Group, which includes several restaurants in Pittsburgh, each one features local food.

The menu at Casbah changes daily to reflect locally available ingredients. When I opened my menu in the low lit dining room, I was delighted at how quickly I knew which vegetables were in season by having seen them in my CSA box: beets, brussels sprouts, greens, squash, pears, potatoes... Even more delightful was the note at the bottom about the farmer's they buy from, including the Penn's Corner Farm Alliance (that's right...the group that runs my beloved CSA). I knew it was going to be good before we even ordered.

Mom and Dad both embraced the local greens in their appetizers. One had prosciutto with arugula (and also some fresh figs) and the other chose the arugula salad with potatoes, mushrooms, and goat cheese (all, I suspect, local). I aimed for a small plate of pasta with the gnudi (a ricotta and flour pasta similar to gnocchi) served on top of squash with fried brussels sprouts.

We departed slightly from the local after the appetizers with plates of cioppino, Alaskan halibut, and duck, though the extensive list of farmers on the big Burrito website leads me to believe that all the vegetables and dairy on the plates were local and the fish is probably all American...but don't quote me on that...I'm just impressed.

The dessert menu kept amazingly to the local as well with options like sweet potato tart and almond cake with pears. We all opted for things with chocolate...but I think I'm going to have to try making a sweet potato dessert soon...I've got a couple in the pantry and if the chocolate hadn't been served with espresso ice cream there would've been a larger argument for that sweet potato tart...just saying.

All in all? I give this place 4 stars on the locally delicious meter.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Crock-Pot Cider Chicken with Root Vegetables

I LOVE my Crock-Pot. It is an undying love that grows more each time I cook in it. It’s the easiest way to make dinner. It really doesn’t get much better than this. My apartment smells like good food all day and when I’m done working, I can just wander into the kitchen and fix myself a plate of something delicious. It’s like someone else made dinner for me.

Last Friday, my parents arrived in Pittsburgh for a visit. Knowing that they’d be tired after their drive, I wanted to make dinner for them. Also knowing that they might like to chat with me upon their arrival and/or go out for coffee, I didn’t want to be stuck in the kitchen for an hour or two. I looked through my cookbooks, pantry, fridge, and freezer, and came up with cider chicken with root vegetables.

I put all the ingredients in the Crock-Pot and had plenty of time to clean the kitchen before Mom and Dad arrived. By the time they did, the apartment smelled like apples and onions. 

Root veggies relaxin' in the crock

Crock-Pot Cider Chicken

6 medium turnips, peeled
8 fingerling sweet potatoes, peeled
Bunch of small carrots (or 3 large carrots), peeled
Small sweet onion, peeled and chopped
2 cloves of garlic, sliced
1 ½ c. apple cider
2 large (or 4 small) boneless, skinless chicken breasts (I used frozen ones from Trader Joe's and didn’t thaw them before cooking)

Layer all vegetables in the bottom of the crock. Place chicken breasts on top. Pour cider over all. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. Serves 4. (This made lots of extra sauce. It may be a good idea to use less cider next time, although this time I’m planning to use the leftover as a base for soup.)

All done...everything is moist and falling apart (but not mushy). Didn't even need a knife for the chicken.

Wine pairing: I served the chicken with Pinot Gris from Bet the Farm Winery and Gourmet Market (in the town where I went to college). The Pinot Gris is dry and fruity, matching the cider flavors and cutting the mild sweetness of the dish. With or without the Cider Chicken, I bet you'll love this wine.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Radish Quiche and Cider-Glazed Potatoes

Fall in the city can feel just a little less magical than fall in the mountains. But cooking with in season goodies like radishes, apple cider, and potatoes will bring fall to your dinner table, no matter where you are.

Radish Quiche with a side of glazed potatoes and a glass of Village White from Bet the Farm Winery.
Quiche: an elegant dish usually reserved for brunch. But why not serve it for dinner? There's no reason. The base ingredients are inexpensive just eggs, milk, and the ingredients for a pie crust. Add in whatever you have on hand that sounds good (I recommend cheese in any quiche) and you're on your way to dinner! Serve it with a salad or other side (like my cider-glazed spuds) and you've got a treat that won't ruin your weekly grocery budget. Plus, you can eat the leftovers for breakfast.

Radish Quiche
Adapted from Joy of Cooking

1 bunch cherry belle radishes
8 ounces Ivory lace cheese (can substitute havarti), cubed
1 cup milk
3 eggs
1 small yellow onion, chopped small
pinch salt
9-inch pie crust

Chop radishes, both the roots and greens, and steam for 2 or 3 minutes. Place radishes in bottom of pie crust with cheese. Whisk together other ingredients and then pour over radishes and cheese. Bake 30-40 minutes, until quiche is set and knife comes out clean.

I've been inundated with potatoes in my CSA boxes - every week I get a couple more pounds!!  It's a good thing they last awhile because even someone that loves potatoes as much as I do can't keep up with them. These potatoes taste sweet, but there's only one teaspoon of sugar in them. Other root vegetables like carrots or sweet potatoes would probably do well with this glaze, too.

Cider-Glazed Potatoes
Adapted from Glazed Root Vegetables in Joy of Cooking

2 cups fingerling potatoes, cut into thick rounds
2/3 cup vegetable or light chicken stock
1/3 cup Dawson's apple cider
2 T butter
1 tsp. sugar
pinch salt

Simmer all ingredients, covered, until potatoes are tender. Uncover and stir mixture until liquid thickens to a glaze.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Pear White Chocolate Chip Cookies

Pears, cinnamon, walnuts, oatmeal, and white chocolate - tastes like fall!  I adapted this recipe from my favorite parts of recipes for apple cinnamon cookies, oatmeal cookies, and chocolate chip cookies, and they're a new favorite on the first shot!

There are no pictures of these cookies because I got excited while I was making them and then forgot. And then they got eaten before I photographed the finished product. Oops. When I make them again, I'll put up pictures. Because I'm definitely making them again.

I created these for the Penn's Corner CSA Potluck a few weeks ago to celebrate the harvest and the fabulous bounty we've been receiving for weeks and weeks now and will continue to receive for about another month.

These are chewy, chunky, everything but the kitchen sink type cookies. Serve them with some mulled apple cider or a light and sweet cup of coffee for dessert, a midafternoon snack, or an accompaniment to a good book on a cool, rainy afternoon. (If you'd like a book suggestion, I recently enjoyed Liar's Club by Mary Karr who also spoke in Pittsburgh a few weeks ago. Excellent writer.)

But back to the's how you make them. :)

1 ½ c. peeled, sliced small or grated fresh pears
½ c. butter, softened
1/3 c. honey
1/3 c. white sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1 ½ c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. cinnamon
1 c. rolled oats
½ c. walnuts, crushed into small pieces
½ c. white chocolate chips

Cream butter, sugar, and honey. Stir in egg, vanilla, and pears. Add flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt gradually. Stir in oats, walnuts, and white chocolate chips. Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees F for 10-11 minutes. Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Celebrating the 10/10/10 Global Work Party

 Today, for 10/10/10, I’m offering something a little different. Today is the Global Work Party in a collective effort to face climate change. The event is sponsored by with millions of participants worldwide. In honor of this day, I’m going to highlight ten examples of what’s in season here in the Pittsburgh, PA area along with a round-up list of recipes from around the world featuring the same foods. Maybe some of these are also in season where you’re from. If not, find out what is, cook with it, and share your results with us!

  1. Apples - My favorite food this time of year and a fantastic place to start with dessert and on home turf…after all, what could be more classically American (or maybe cliché by now) than Apple Pie? If you’re a visual learner, take a few cues from Alton Brown in his video on making a Super Apple Pie complete with Applejack in the crust. Not that ambitious? Don't worry, I don't have time either. Here's a simpler recipe from the NY Apple Association.
  1. Beets - Okay. I'll admit it. I don't love beets. But some people do and they're a nutritious superfood, so I'm going to keep trying them. Perhaps with a culinary jaunt to Eastern Europe. Pickled, pureed into soup, roasted, or raw beets are popular throughout this region. I hope to someday discover a beet soup that I like if only for the fabulous pink color that you'll get from recipes like this one for Barszcz Zabielany.
  2. Garlic - While I'm content to make batch upon batch of garlic bread, some of you might want to try something new. How about a versatile, Middle Eastern Garlic Yogurt Sauce? I'm thinking of putting it on toast to approximate garlic bread...but I hear it goes better with pita chips, as a sandwich spread, in kebabs, or as a dipping sauce for veggies and chicken.
  3. Green Beans - These Asian Green Beans will supposedly convert the vegetable-reluctant.
  4. Onions - African sweet potato pancakes get double points for using onions and another in-season ingredient (the sweet potato).
  5. Pears - While I'll be featuring my own pear cookie recipe later this week, it's not about that today. So how about trying a taste of France with Pear and Blue Cheese Tarts?
  6. Potatoes - Get a last taste of summer with Argentinian Potato Salad.
  7. Pumpkin - South African Pumpkin Fritters can be a dessert or savory side dish depending on your final adjustments.
  8. Tomatoes - It doesn't get simpler (or more delicious) than an Italian Tomato and Mozzarella Salad.
  9. Butternut squash - I'd never thought of pairing butternut squash with vanilla ice cream until I read this recipe...and now I'm desperate to find out if the compote would go well on some. Read the recipe for Doce de Abobora and share what you might serve this dish with.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Sweet Potato Salad

Potato salad - the cool, soft, mayonnaise laden concoction served alongside all number of summer favorites like hot dogs, not dogs, hamburgers, and grilled chicken. If you're like me you've got a favorite recipe (Mom's), but like to try all those new and interesting potato salads in vogue these days (like Pesto Potato Salad with Green Beans). It had been so cool here that I'd been figuring potato salad season was over. I was contemplating soups. And then, on Friday, when I was going to make a Peanut and Sweet Potato Stew, it was ninety degrees. Despair, dismay, I love stew, the sweet potatoes were getting wrinkly, I don't have air conditioning so I can't fake fall, I can't stand my apartment any hotter than it already is or a warm-your-insides meal...

But then - flash! Potato salad. Oh sweet deliciousness! Perfection. I boiled my sweet potatoes, but them in the fridge and started contemplating recipes. It would be a bit different from potato salad with white potatoes of course, but I wasn't feeling the sweet versions with apple slices and nuts. I wanted something more akin to Mom's potato salad, but without the pickles. Something about the combination of sweet potato and pickle just didn't sit right with me.  Ultimately, I ended up with a simple but delicious recipe:


3 medium sweet potatoes, boiled, peeled, and cubed
3 T candy onion, minced
1 small green bell pepper, minced
2 T mayonnaise
Dash of salt

Boil the sweet potatoes until tender. Peel before or after boiling as you prefer. Chill potatoes in the fridge for at least 1 hour.

When the potatoes are cool, add all the other ingredients and stir. Usually, I'm a big fan of rough chopping and calling a dish rustica, but when it comes to potato salad it's best to take the time to chop your veggies small for even flavor. Recipe serves 3.

While it's not the prettiest dish, (the final product looked a little like baby food and I couldn't get a good photo if it) it is delicious. I served it with some fish I picked up at Trader Joe's, but it would pair well with anything that usually keeps your potato salad company on the plate.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

CrockPot Bartlett Pear Butter

Pear Butter on toast

Inspired by the recipe for CrockPot Apple Butter at my favorite slow cooking blog ( and the three pounds of Bartlett Pears in my fridge, I decided to make pear butter. I like apple butter, but I like fresh apples and apple crisp so much that I'll eat through them long before I even consider making a batch. But pears just aren't my thing, unless they're sugared and cooked, and with three pounds on hand I could only justify using one pound for baking (I made pear turnovers).

The pear butter, however, is sweetened with the natural sweetness of the pears and a little clover honey. It's totally guilt-free and delicious.  It makes a good substitute for processed, sugar-filled jellies. This recipe makes about 2 cups of pear butter.


2 pounds of Bartlett pears (about 7), peeled, cored, and quartered
1 T vanilla extract
1/4 cup pure clover honey
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. cloves
 1/2 tsp. ginger (or a little less)

Place prepared pears in CrockPot with the vanilla. Cook on low for four hours. Mash pears with honey and spices. (I think I might've used a little too much ginger, the butter is good when cold, but when I tried it warm the ginger was overwhelming, so alter the amount to suit your tastes.) Cook on low for an additional two hours.

You can easily modify this recipe to match your tastes and the ingredients you have on hand. If you've got both apples and pears, use a mixture for apple-pear butter. Don't like ginger? Leave it out. Sick of how everything in the fall tastes like cinnamon? Replace it with some other good baking spices like nutmeg or allspice.

Serving suggestions:
Pear butter on toast
Peanut butter and pear butter sandwiches (my favorite lunch this week).
Stir into oatmeal
Topping for pancakes or waffles
Topping for ice cream

And the best part? The recipe made my apartment smell like cinnamon while it cooked.

Happy Autumn!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Green Eggs

As the weather in Pittsburgh turns cool, onions are a large component of my CSA boxes and greens are once again making there way into my weekly share of edibles. Many of the greens (like turnip and beet) are better sauteed or stewed than served in a salad. While green eggs and ham aren't really my style, I do love green eggs in a different sense: farm fresh, local eggs, scrambled with greens.

Green eggs with a side of green zebra tomato


2 eggs
1/2 small candy onion
handful turnip greens
fresh dill
1/2 T milk (optional)

All these ingredients were in my CSA box except the milk. I love getting eggs in my CSA box because I know I don't have to worry about the salmonella egg recall.  Plus, they're more delicious and better for the chickens, the Earth, and my health. The eggs come from Nu Way Farm in Fredonia, PA - about 75 miles from my kitchen.

The milk was a happy discovery last night. After class I went to the nearby convenience store to pick-up some milk. The only available brand was Turner's. I picked it up and took it home, thinking I'd never heard of the brand before and nothing else. But when I looked at the label this morning, the address was Penn Hills, PA. Just 8 miles from here. With a few minutes research I found out that Turner Dairy Farms has a deal with small dairy farmers within 70 miles of their Penn Hills processing site and all Turner's milk products come from those farmers (all of whom produce rBGH/rBST free milk).

As for the other ingredients, the turnip greens are a little spicy (like arugula) and complement the sweet flavor of the candy onion well. The dill just adds another layer of grooviness.


Heat a tablespoon or less of olive oil in a skillet. Saute chopped candy onion for about a minute. Add chopped and washed turnip greens and cook until wilted. While they're cooking, whisk eggs, milk, and dill. Add to skillet and cook until eggs are ready. Serve with a side of sliced tomato.

You can make this dish as an omelet or scrambled eggs depending on your desire and omelet-making skill level.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Inspired by the English

A popular traditional English tea sandwich is watercress - a microgreen hailed as a superfood for its high nutritional value. It has a long history in England and many followers, including a website dedicated solely to this food:

My beloved CSA box, which I picked up yesterday, did not include watercress, it did, however, include arugula microgreens. These are in the same family as watercress along with brown mustard and chia. Yes, chia, like the pets. I had no idea what to do with my arugula microgreens. I'd eaten a watercress sandwich and grown a chia pet, but neither of these came to mind as I stared at the little bag of greens with heart-shaped leaves and long thin stems. It was only after I did some research that I figured it out. And since eating a Chia Pet is inadvisable, I made a variation on the watercress tea sandwich:

Arugula Microgreens Sandwich (minus the second slice of bread, which is necessary for elegant eating)

Arugula Microgreens Sandwich
A good snack with a cup of tea.

Spread a light layer of cream cheese on a piece of white bread (I used a thin sliced but chewy Italian) and sprinkle a handful of greens on top. Cover with a second slice of bread. Enjoy.

If you like, you could add cucumbers or butter instead of cream cheese, but I really enjoyed that sandwich. I made a second one as soon as the first was gone.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Pasta with Tomato Cream Sauce

I based this recipe on “Creamy Pasta with Chard and Tomatoes” from the Joy of Cooking: 75th Anniversary Edition. I made their version a few weeks ago and it was delicious, but I didn’t have chard this week so I made a variation based on the ingredients in my CSA box. As usual, items from the CSA are in bold.


1 T olive oil
2 shallots, peeled and chopped
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
1 pound green beans, snapped into bite size pieces
2 large tomatoes, chopped
1/8 c. basil, shredded
1 c. heavy cream

Sauté garlic, shallots, and green beans in olive oil until shallots are soft and green beans have softened a little. Add tomatoes and basil and cook for about five minutes more. Pour heavy cream over all. Cook until cream bubbles and sauce thickens a little (2-4 minutes). Serve over pasta.

The recipe made about four servings. And I recommend having some bread on hand, as you’ll want to use it to soak up the sauce that pools at the bottom of the bowl. Trust me.

And as you can see, all the ingredients except the olive oil, cream, and pasta were from the CSA. These were all organic brands. A very green meal!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Simple but delicious oven roasted vegetables

When an eggplant presented itself in my CSA box last week, I had a hundred different ideas running through my mind at once: grilled eggplant, eggplant parmesan, lasagne, mixed vegetable sauté over pasta…more recipes than I could ever make with one eggplant.

Ultimately, I decided on the easiest recipe I thought of:

Roasted Eggplant with Potatoes and Onions


1 medium eggplant
3 medium redskin potatoes
1 small to medium red onion
Olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wash eggplant and slice into thick rounds then lay them on a cookie sheet. Wash potatoes thoroughly and slice into rounds – they should be thinner than the eggplant, but not too thin. Layer potato slice alongside eggplant. Peel onion and cut into quarters, divide some slices and layer then between the eggplant and potatoes. It’s ok (even encouraged) to let multiple slices of onion roast stacked together. Sprinkle with salt. Drizzle with olive oil. Bake until vegetables are tender – 20 to 35 minutes depending on your preferences for doneness.

Ready to go in the oven:

Serve with your favorite summer main dish or be a vegetable nerd like me and eat the entire tray as your dinner.