Technique

Sometimes a cookbook is valuable for information and technique, in addition to actual recipes. Barbara Kafka’s Vegetable Love is one of those books. Case in point: broccoli rabe. Referred to as broccoli di raab in this cookbook.

I’ve used broccoli rabe for years in one way or another. We like it sautéed with garlic on grilled bread. It’s also wonderful with Italian sausage and pasta. My normal routine has been to blanch the broccoli rabe before using it in a sauté. This seems to cut the bitterness. I recently learned a new technique from Barbara Kafka’s cookbook that eliminates that step. She suggested sautéing chopped broccoli rabe in olive oil and garlic for a few minutes. Then adding a half cup of water, covering the pan  and simmering for about 15-20 minutes until the stalks are tender.

Using that technique as a start, I made the following dish:

  1. I removed the leaves and buds from the thick stems of a bunch of broccoli rabe, chopped them into manageable pieces, and sautéed them, along with some chopped onions, in olive oil laced with minced garlic and a bit of red pepper flakes, salt and freshly ground pepper. Following the new technique, I added a half cup of water, covered the pan and simmered the broccoli rabe for about 15 minutes.
  2.  At this point, I added about a half pint of grape tomatoes and about a quarter of a pound of kielbasa that I had in the refrigerator. Italian sausages would have been ideal, but we didn’t have any. Using up leftovers seemed like a good idea.
  3.  In the meantime, I boiled a few handfuls of orecchiette in salted water, and added the pasta to the broccoli rabe mixture. I added a bit of the salted pasta water to loosen things up. A sprinkle of Parmesan, and dinner was ready. 

 

 

 

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Spring Beach

 

Fickle Spring is a tease.
One sweet day followed
by wind swept chill.
But palpable quickening is evident.
Sunbeams dance as waves tease the shore.
The occasional beach stroller,
newly sans hat and gloves,
will notice a softness to the breeze
that tantalizes with remembered delights
of toes in the sand days and balmy nights. 

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Hopeful Signs

 

tentative and shy
peeking from sunny corners
hopeful signs of spring

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Memory Jog

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Interesting how one thought leads to another. How one experience brings a memory into clear focus. A recent cooking class that included couscous was a reminder of a delightful dish from the Jerusalem cookbook. I hadn’t made it for about four years, but that memory jog put it on the menu for tonight.

Ingredients: (adapted from the original recipe, “Couscous with Tomato and Onion”)

3 TBS olive oil
1 C onions (finely chopped)
1 TBS tomato paste
1/2 tsp sugar
28 oz. can of whole tomatoes, drained and chopped
1 C regular couscous (not Israeli or pearl couscous)
1 C chicken stock (boiling hot)
2 TBS butter
salt and freshly ground pepper

Method:

1. Boil a cup of stock in the microwave and pour it over a cup of couscous in a heat proof bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let steam for 10 minutes. At that point, fluff it with a fork and set it aside.
2. Using a non-stick pan, sauté the onion in 2 TBS of olive oil until soft. Add the tomato paste and sugar. Cook for about a minute. Add the chopped tomatoes. Season with some salt and freshly ground pepper. Cook until the flavors meld. About 3 minutes.
3. Pour the tomato mixture over the couscous and mix well.
4. Wipe out the pan. Melt the butter in the remaining tablespoon of oil. Put the couscous mixture into the pan. Pat it down with the back of a spoon to make a flat pancake that fills the sauté pan.
5. Cover and let cook over very low heat for about 12 minutes or until the edges are light brown and crispy.
6. Loosen the sides with a spatula. Put a plate over the top of the pan and invert it, so the crispy bottom ends up on top.
7. This can be served warm or at room temperature, making it an excellent dish for a buffet.

The original recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi’s Jerusalem is available online. The book has many wonderful recipes and is worth owning.

 

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April Snow

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April snow
seems wrong somehow.
Sheer affront to
newly surfaced crocuses.
Enticed by the promise
of a warm sun,
tender buds rose in answer.
Their greeting dashed
by snow’s chilly response.
Like sturdy New Englanders,
they will accept the moisture
and ignore the cold. 
Shake off the snow,
and not only rise,
but flourish.

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Daffodils

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a splash of sunshine
gold petals gently yawning
harbingers of spring

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Revisiting Spiralized Zucchini

There’s an ebb and flow to many aspects of life. At one point, my Spiralizer had a place on the counter. Now, rarely used, it remains tucked on a shelf in a utility closet.

My days of creative spiralizing are over, but for one thing. Combining the strands of a spiralized zucchini with pasta cuts the carbs in half and adds a satisfying crunch. It’s worth taking the Spiralizer out of hiding for this one dish alone.

Method: (for 2)

1. Spiralize a medium zucchini using the “spaghetti” blade. ( or buy a package of spiralized zucchini in the grocery store!)
2. Place in a colander in the sink.
3. Boil 1/4 pound of pasta in salted water according to package directions. Pour the cooked pasta, water and all, over the zucchini strands. The boiling water and hot pasta will partially cook the zucchini.
4. Return to the pot. Toss with fresh basil or a little pesto if you like.
5. The pasta/zucchini combo is now ready to be sauced.

Note: Pictured is actually a combination of leftovers. I had a couple of chicken cutlets left over from the previous night’s dinner of cutlets topped with salad, and a container of *artichoke sauce in the freezer.

Artichoke sauce: Saute an onion and some garlic. Add a can of artichokes (drained and rinsed) and a can of chopped tomatoes. Salt, pepper, red pepper flakes. Simple and good.

 

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