Sautéed Snow Peas with Garlic

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Most Sundays, I hit up the Hiawatha Farmers’ Market in the 10th Avenue parking lot of Guthridge Park. It is my favorite farmers’ market in the Cedar Rapids area not only because it is conveniently close to home but also because it is just the right size. You can really get to know the vendors.

Last Sunday I picked up some snow peas from the friendly folks at Wittenburg’s Farm located just up the road in Springville, Iowa. I thought these would be a great side with the tomato and basil salad and mini-Hasselback potatoes made with other produce purchased from them.

This side comes together and is ideal to make the last minute before sitting down to eat. If you are serving a steak entree as I did, it can be made while the meat is resting.

Here is what I did:

Sautéed Snow Peas with Garlic

Ingredients

2 Cups fresh snow peas, washed, trimmed, and dried
2 Cloves fresh garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons olive oil
Fleur de sel or other finishing salt

Directions

Heat skillet or preferably wok over medium-high heat. Add oil and heat until shimmering. Add garlic and sauté until just beginning to brown, about 1 minute. Add snow peas and sauté constantly stirring until bright green yet still crisp, about 5 minutes. You do not want to over cook the snow peas as they will turn dull and become limp.

Remove from heat, move to serving bowl, and sprinkle with fleur de sel. Serve immediately.

Roasted Radishes with Rosemary Brown Butter

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I love the peppery zing of radishes and look forward to them in Spring. They’re great for snacking, sliced thinly on salads, and always find their way onto a crudités tray, but have you ever roasted them? If not, you don’t know what you’re missing.

I am a big believer in the transformative power of roasting almost any vegetable and radishes are no exception. One problem with radishes is that late in the season they tend to get hot. Roasting them can help tame this hotness.

I like to use slightly larger radishes when I roast them. I also like to mix up the variety by combining various colors of globe and white icicle, but any one type will work. This recipe also utilizes some of the radish leaves. Contrary to popular believe, radish greens are edible and quite tasty. Radish leaves do not keep more than a couple days, but you might also consider adding the leftover leaves to your salad mix.

This recipe also calls for browned butter. Browned butter is easily made, but can go from browned to burnt in seconds if not watched. Always use a heavy bottom, light colored sauce pan and begin on medium-low heat. Using a light colored skillet like a stainless still will allow you to better see the color change. I also suggest near constant stirring to prevent the milk solids from sticking to the bottom of the sauce pan and burning.

Here is what I did:

Roasted Radishes with Rosemary Brown Butter

Ingredients

1 bunch radishes (approximately 8 to 12 depending on size) trimmed, reserve some leaves
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Teaspoon Kosher salt
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
2 Tablespoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped
Pinch of finishing sea salt

Directions

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Wash and trim radishes reserving the radish greens. Radish leaves can be gritty. Rinse thoroughly in cold water. Spread them out on paper towel and let them dry completely before removing the tougher center rib and roughly chopping. Set aside.

Cut the radishes in half and toss them with olive oil and salt in a medium mixing bowl.

Place the radishes cut side down on a large baking sheet. Roast in the oven for 25-30 minutes until cut sides begin to brown and can easily be pierced with a knife.

About five minutes before the radishes finish roasting, prepare the brown butter sauce. You want it hot to wilt the radish tops. Begin by melting butter in a heavy bottom, light colored sauce pan. Using a light colored skillet like a stainless steel will allow you to better see the color change.Butter can go from browned to burnt in seconds. Stir with a wooden spoon and after about 4-5 minutes add the rosemary. The butter may crackle and foam again but you will notice an almost immediate release of rosemary fragrance. Increase heat to medium and continue to cook until it turns a beautiful, deep brown color, about another 3-4 minutes  Remove from heat.

Place the radishes and leaves in a large serving bowl. Pour the brown butter sauce over the radishes and gently toss. Season with additional finishing sea salt if desired.

Serve immediately.

Lime Rice Pilaf

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This side dish is a great compliment to my Garlic Lime Grilled Pork Tenderloin.

The pilaf method of cooking rice begins on the stovetop and finishes in the oven. However there may be times when this is not practical: you have the oven heated higher than a safe temperature for the rice, you aren’t using the oven for any other reason and don’t want the extra heat in the house, or you simply just don’t have time for that.  (I include the directions for a traditional pilaf at the end of the recipe and do suggest trying it sometime as the rice ends up just a bit firmer and not as sticky.)

You will need to use a saucepan that can safely go from stovetop to oven. Also, be sure to keep a close eye on the pilaf if you are putting it in the oven because it can quickly burn.

Lime Rice Pilaf

Ingredients

2 tablespoons butter
1 small onion, chopped finely
2 cups long grain white rice
3 ¾ cups vegetable or chicken stock
Grated zest from one lime
Juice from one lime
Kosher salt
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro

Directions

(Preheat oven to 350°F if using the oven method.)

Melt butter in large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and saute until tender, about 10 minutes.

Add rice and stir to coat. Add stock, lime juice and lime peel. Bring to a boil. (See oven method below if you choose.) Reduce to a simmer, stir, cover, and cook until rice is tender, about 20 minutes.  

Remove from heat and let stand 5 minutes. Stir in cilantro and season with salt to taste. Transfer to a bowl and garnish with cilantro.

Oven method

After the rice comes to a boil in the above steps, thoroughly wet a clean kitchen towel, remove saucepan from heat, and then place the towel across the top of the pan. Fit the pan with a lid and then fold the towel corners up over the lid.  Then, transfer the saucepan, towel and all, to the oven and bake 15 minutes.  Remove and rest at room temperature for 15 more minutes without opening the lid.

Finally, stir in cilantro and season with salt to taste. Transfer to a bowl and garnish with cilantro.

Brussels Sprout Fried Rice

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Need a Meatless Monday meal idea? Vegetarian or vegan and wanting to wake up your taste buds? Looking for alternatives for Lenten meals?  This Brussels Sprouts Fried Rice recipe is packed with flavor. 

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We typically have one meatless meal a week so I am always looking for ideas. One of my go to sources is Isa Chandra Moskowitz on her Post Punk Kitchen website. Her vegan site has given me a lot of inspiration when cooking for my vegetarian daughter.

Here is a very flavor packed fried rice recipe that can be eaten as a side to a larger meal or as a meal like we did. That fact that we love Brussels sprouts makes this a win-win recipe. One could easily add additional protein to this dish by adding a couple scrambled eggs at the very end.

I made a few slight variations to the original recipe found on PPK. Here is what I did:

Brussels Sprouts Fried Rice

Ingredients

4 tablespoons refined coconut oil, divided (or your favorite cooking oil)
12 oz Brussel sprouts, trimmed and quartered
1 large carrot, peeled and sliced into thin half-moons
¼ cup pine nuts
¼ cup fresh basil
1 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro
1 cup finely chopped scallions
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh minced ginger
4 cups cooked and cooled jasmine rice (See Note)
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons soy sauce
Juice from one lime
½ teaspoon agave

Sriracha to serve

Directions

Preheat a large heavy bottomed pan (preferably cast iron) over medium-high heat. Saute the Brussel sprouts and carrots in 2 tablespoon of oil until Brussel sprouts are lightly charred; about 5 to 10 minutes. Toss in the pine nuts and cook for two minutes, tossing often, until toasted. Transfer everything to a large plate and set aside.

Lower heat to medium. Add ½ tablespoon oil. Saute the basil, cilantro, scallions, garlic and ginger for about a minute. Stir in the red pepper flakes when the herbs are wilted and aromatic. Return heat to medium-high and add remaining oil and rice and cook for about 5 minutes. Toss often to combine.

Lastly, add the Brussels, carrots, and pine nuts back to the pan. Drizzle in the soy sauce, lime juice and agave. Cook for 5 more minutes or so until rice is lightly browned. Taste for salt. Serve with Sriracha.

Note: You must use cold rice in this recipe. Using warm, recently cooked rice will cause it to get mushy and clump together. I suggest making the rice the day before.

A spicy side dish, appetizer, or entrée: Crab Imperial

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This dish would make a great side dish, appetizer, or entrée as Susan and I did today. To serve as an appetizer, serve this with butter crackers or crostini. Serve in its individual ramekin if served as a side. If served as an entrée, you may want to use a slightly larger ramekin or other individual baking dish. Serve with a warm sourdough baguette.

Note: The number and size of ramekin listed here is for serving as a side.

Ingredients

8 Tablespoon unsalted butter
3 Tablespoon flour
2 cups heavy cream
1 Pound jumbo lump crabmeat, picked over for shell pieces
1½ cup Panko bread crumbs
½ cup finely chopped red bell pepper
¼ cup finely chopped yellow onion
¼ cup finely chopped parsley
2 Tablespoon sherry
2 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1½ teaspoon Worcestershire
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon dry mustard powder
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions

Pre-heat oven to 400°. Begin by making a roux. Melt five tablespoons butter in a two quart saucepan over medium-high heat and add flour all at once and whisk vigorously. When mixture begins to bubble, reduce heat to medium and slow whisking. Cook until you smell a nutty aroma and cook about two minutes more stirring occasionally. Next, whisk in cream and whisk until sauce begins to bubble. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring constantly until thickened, about ten minutes. Remove from heat and stir in crabmeat, ½ cup bread crumbs, bell pepper, onion, half the parsley, sherry, juice, Worcestershire, half the paprika, mustard, cayenne, salt, and pepper. Divide mixture evenly among six shallow, four-ounce to five-ounce ramekins. Place ramekins on a baking sheet and set aside.

Mix remaining melted butter, bread crumbs, and paprika until evenly combined. Sprinkle seasoned bread crumbs evenly over each ramekin. Bake until lightly browned and bubbling in the center; about twenty minutes. Sprinkle with remaining parsley and serve hot.

Mushroom and Rice Stuffed Acorn Squash

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Here is a delicious way to prepare acorn squash. Another name for acorn squash is Des Moines squash. Maybe I should call them by that name since I live in Iowa. These savory squash make a great meatless meal or consider adding them to your Thanksgiving feast.

Note: This recipe calls for cremini mushrooms. Cremini mushrooms are usually marketed as Baby Bella mushrooms. White button mushrooms, cremini (Baby Bella) and portabella mushrooms are all the same mushroom. Age is the only thing that differentiates them. White button mushrooms are the youngest and portabella are the oldest. Cremini fall in between the two.

Here’s what I did:

Ingredients

2 Acorn (Des Moines) squash
Kosher salt
Fresh ground pepper
3 tablespoons walnut or olive oil, divided
½ pound cremini mushrooms
1 medium yellow onion, diced small
¾ teaspoon dried thyme
1 cup long-grain white rice
2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
½ cup grated Parmesan

Directions

Preheat oven to 450° F. Cut squash in half lengthwise and scoop out seeds. Drizzle oil on each cut side of squash and season with salt and pepper. Place squash with cut side down in baking dish. Cover dish tightly with aluminum foil and roast until tender; 35 to 40 minutes.

While squash is roasting, heat remaining two tablespoons of oil over medium-high large, deep skillet. Add mushrooms, onion, and thyme and season with salt and pepper. Sauté until mushrooms begin to brown; about 5 to 7 minutes. Then add rice and broth and bring to a boil. When broth begins to boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer until liquid is absorbed; about 20 minutes.

Remove squash from oven, remove foil, turn squash cut side up and allow to cool slightly. After removing squash from oven, turn oven up to broil. Scoop out about two tablespoons of flesh from each squash half and stir into rice. Divide rice mixture among squash halves and sprinkle with Parmesan. Broil until melted cheese is melted and begins to brown.

Cumin Lime Roasted Carrots

I really like carrots. The only problem is they seem to become an addition to a food instead of a starring role. Here is a fantastic way to prepare carrots where they really shine. I made these on a grill in a cast iron skillet but they also work very well in an oven heated to 400° F.

Ingredients

1 pound baby carrots with green tops
1 tablespoon olive oil
Juice and fresh grated zest of 1 lime
1 teaspoon honey
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
½ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon ground coriander
¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
2 green onions, thinly sliced
Small handful fresh mint leaves, chopped

Instructions

Heat covered grill to approximately 400°F.

Wash and trim the tops off the carrots. Toss them a large cast iron skillet with the olive oil, lime juice and zest, agave, salt and spices making sure the carrots are well covered with the mixture. You may use a baking sheet if cooking in an oven.

Roast about 20 minutes until the carrots are just tender and beginning to take on color. If grilling, you may want to toss them about to keep them from sticking to the cast iron. Transfer to a plate when sufficiently browned and tender. Sprinkle with the green onions and mint before tossing together and serving.

Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad

When I discover a great dish at a restaurant I have to try to recreate the recipe at home. Susan and I spent the weekend in St. Louis a couple weekends ago at the Moonrise Hotel on the Delmar Loop. While there, we ate at a wonderful restaurant called Nico where Susan ordered their Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad. It was fantastic and she immediately told me that I needed to recreate it. She thinks I came extremely close. Here’s what I did:

Ingredients

1 pound Brussels sprouts

½ ounce Maytag Blue Cheese

1 oz dates finely chopped

1 oz sliced almonds

2 tablespoons walnut oil (olive oil may be used)

1 tablespoon Balsamic vinegar

½ tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Directions

Wash and cut the stems off of the Brussels sprouts and then remove the outer layers of leaves. These tend to be somewhat bitter. Finely slice the Brussels sprouts avoiding the very inner core. You could use a mandolin slicer set to the finest setting but I feel more comfortable using a chef’s knife. Toss into medium sized bowl to separate the layers. Crumple the blue cheese and add it to the bowl along with the chopped dates and almonds. Toss to combine. Wisk together the oil, vinegar, and lemon juice to create a vinaigrette. Drizzle vinaigrette over Brussels sprouts mixture and toss until well mixed. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Rosemary and Thyme Smashed Potatoes

Steak and potatoes just go together. We’ve known this instinctively for years, but now the Plant and Food Research, a member of the New Zealand government owned Crown Research Institute, has shown that consuming the two together helps promote digestive health. I’ll let you read the article. It is linked here: It’s official: steak is always better with potatoes.

One of our favorite potatoes is Rosemary and Thyme Smashed Potatoes.

You can use most any sized red potatoes when making this side dish. I prefer to use B sized red potatoes no bigger than a golf ball in size. What ever size you choose, make sure they are fairly uniform in size as so they cook evenly.

Here’s what I did:

Ingredients

3 to 4 B sized red potatoes per person
Olive oil
Fresh thyme leaves
Fresh rosemary leaves
Kosher salt
Fresh ground pepper

Directions

Boil the potatoes in salted water until they can easily pierce them with a fork. Meanwhile, line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and brush the foil with olive oil and preheat oven to 450° F.

When the potatoes are cooked through, place them on the baking sheet a few inches apart from one another. With a flat device such as a firm spatula or even palm of your hand, smash the potatoes flat. Drizzle with a little olive oil then season with Kosher salt, fresh ground pepper, thyme and rosemary leaves.

Baked potatoes until they develop a crispy brown color. Remove from oven and let cool a minute or two then serve.

You don’t have to be a sailor to like this spinach side: Garlic Sautéd Spinach

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Popeye would love this side dish because the spinach is sautéed in olive oil. Okay, excuse the terrible pun, but this spinach dish is extremely tasty and cooks up in just over ten minutes. Here’s what I did:

Ingredients

1 ½ pounds baby spinach leaves
2 tablespoons good olive oil
6 cloves garlic, chopped
2 teaspoons kosher salt
¾ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Lemon
Sea or kosher salt, optional

Directions

Rinse the spinach very well in cold water. If you have a salad spinner give the salad several good spins otherwise shake off as much water as you can. A little water left on the leaves is okay as it will create steam and help wilt the spinach.

In a large pan or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil and saute the garlic over medium heat for about 1 minute. Add all the spinach, the salt, and pepper to the pan and toss it with the garlic and oil. Cover the pan and cook it for no more than three minutes. Remove the lid and turn the heat to high. Cook the spinach for another couple minutes stirring with a wooden spoon until all the spinach is wilted. Remove the spinach to a serving bowl using a slotted spoon. Give the spinach a good squeeze of lemon and a sprinkling of kosher salt if needed. Serve immediately.