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Braised Endives November 9, 2008

Posted by pcorcoran in Braising, Recipe, Side Dish, Veggies.
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2 lbs. Belgian endives
1 c. water
3 tbsp. butter
2 tsp. kosher salt
2 tsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. white wine vinegar
1/8 tsp. toasted cumin seed (optional)
freshly ground black pepper

Quarter the endives lengthwise.  Combine the other ingredients in a bistro pan and bring to a boil.  Add endives, cover, and cook at medium heat for 10 minutes.  Remove cover, increase heat and boil off liquid until endives are almost dry.  Serve immediately, or remove endives from heat and hold, covered, for up to 15 minutes.

Variant: substitute one 1 teaspoon bacon drippings for one of the tablespoons of butter.

Risotto with Morels and Asparagus June 28, 2008

Posted by pcorcoran in Entree, Mushrooms, Recipe, Risotto, Veggies.
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2 cups dried arborio rice (risotto)
1/2 lb. fresh morel mushrooms
1/2 lb. asparagus
5 cups vegetable stock
1 tsp. fresh thyme, finely chopped
1 shallot, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic
1 cup dry white wine
2 cups boiling water
4 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 cup grated Reggiano

Pour boiling water over morels and stir gently.  Set mushrooms and liquid aside covered, for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Remove mushrooms from liquid broth with a slotted spoon, reserving liquid.  Pat mushrooms dry, chop into quarters lengthwise, and set aside.  Remove grit and solids from the broth, straining through a cheesecloth if necessary.  Set broth aside.

While mushrooms are soaking, cut asparagus in half lengthwise, then slice into 1/2 inch pieces on the diagonal.  Bring a small pot of lightly salted water to a boil.  Blanche asparagus in boiling water for 4 minutes.  Drain.  Run cold water over asparagus until cool to the touch and set aside.

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large heavy stock pot over high heat.  When foam subsides, add shallot and thyme.  Saute for several minutes.  Chop finely 1 clove of garlic.  Add morels and chopped garlic, and saute for 3-4 minutes.  Add asparagus and mix well.  Transfer contents of stock pot to a bowl and set aside, covered.

Deglaze stock pot with 1/2 cup white wine.  Add mushroom stock to pot and bring to a boil.  Add vegetable stock and 2 cloves coarsely sliced garlic.  Bring liquid to a boil, reduce to a simmer and keep covered.

Heat olive oil in a 5-quart heavy pot over high heat.  Add arborio rice and stir well.  Add 1/2 cup white wine and stir until absorbed.  Reduce heat to medium.  Add 1 cup stock and stir until absorbed.  Cover.  Add another cup of broth every minute or two, stirring to ensure an even coating, then replace cover.  Repeat until risotto is tender and creamy, about 20 to 25 minutes.  (Some broth may be left over.)

Melt 2 tablespoons in a medium skillet over medium-high heat.  Add mushroom and asparagus mixture and heat it just until it bubbles slightly.  Pour mixture into risotto and mix well.  Stir in Reggiano cheese and serve immediately.

Time to Prepare: 90 minutes

Difficulty: 4/10

Serves: 6 to 8 people

Slow-Roasted Tomatoes with Lemon-Oregano Oil April 15, 2007

Posted by pcorcoran in Recipe, Roasting, Side Dish, Veggies.
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1 lb. plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise
1 1/4 tsp. sugar
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
10 fresh basil leaves
12 whole fresh oregano leaves, plus 3 tbsp. finely chopped
2 tsp. fresh lemon zest
2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 250°F.

Toss tomatoes with sugar, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper. Arrange, cut sides down, in a small shallow baking pan. Heat oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat until hot but not smoking. Cook garlic 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in basil and whole oregano leaves. Remove oil from heat and pour over tomatoes. Roast tomatoes until very tender but not falling apart, about 2-1/2 hours.

Transfer tomatoes with a spatula to a large plate, then pour oil through a fine-mesh sieve into a small bowl or measuring cup, discarding solids. Stir in chopped oregano, zest, juice, and remaining 1/4 tsp. salt and pepper.

Arrange tomatoes on plates and drizzle with seasoned oil.

Time to Prepare: 15 minutes + 2-1/2 hours roasting

Difficulty: 1/10

Serves: 3 or 4

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This is a great dish for weekdays if your oven can be programmed for timed cooking. The ingredients can be prepped in about 15 minutes. Just set the timer for about 2 hours before you get home. If you get home on time, you’ll get to check them before taking them out. And if you don’t, they’ll be waiting for you anyway. If you won’t be home to take them out promptly, cook them for about 15-25 minutes less — they will continue to cook even after the oven is turned off, because ovens don’t cool immediately.

Braised Cabbage April 1, 2007

Posted by pcorcoran in Braising, Recipe, Side Dish, Veggies.
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2 lb. head of green cabbage
1 large yellow onion, coarsely chopped
1 carrot, cut into rounds
1/4 cup chicken (or vegetable) stock
1/4 cup olive oil
1/8 tsp. red pepper flakes
salt
pepper
1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 325° F. Cut cabbage into 8 wedges. Arrange wedges in dutch oven or other braising pot such that they overlap as little as possible. Scatter carrot and onion over cabbage. Drizzle olive oil and stock over cabbage. Season with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Cover pot with parchment paper and put the lid on.

Cook the cabbage for 2 hours. After one hour, turn the wedges of cabbage over and drizzle it with the balsamic vinegar.

Cabbage can be served immediately. Or it can be held, covered and refrigerated, for up to two days. To reheat, bake for 10 minutes at 400° F with the lid off.

Time to Prepare: 5 minutes preparation + 2 hours baking

Difficulty: 1/10

Serves: 4 to 6

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This dish is so simple and delicious it’s already becoming something of a favorite and a staple after only two cookings. (Two in the same week!) I am not the hugest fan of cabbage — it’s kind of a ho-hum vegetable in my mind — but this preparation completely transforms the insipid cabbage into a rich, sweet, deeply-flavored side dish.

The dish virtually cooks itself. If need be, the turning of the cabbage can be omitted and the vinegar added at the start, making this an ideal candidate for cooking with the oven-timer while at work. (When cooking with a timer, I usually reduce the cooking time of long, slow dishes by fifteen minutes — because ovens can take so long to cool down, it will actually finish off the dish nicely even after the oven is off.)

The 1/8 tsp. of red pepper adds a surprising nip to the cabbage which wakes it up. This amount of pepper is too much for Connor, but I haven’t heard any complaints from adults.

Braised Green Beans with Tomato and Basil March 26, 2007

Posted by pcorcoran in Braising, Recipe, Side Dish, Veggies.
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1-1/2 lbs. green beans, trimmed
2 ripe Roma tomatoes, chopped
3 cippolini onions, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup (packed) fresh basil leaves
3 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup water

Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium heat. Cook onions and garlic until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add beans, tomatoes, basil, and water. Cover skillet and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, tossing occasionally, until beans reach desired degree of tenderness. Add salt and pepper to taste, and serve immediately.

Time to Prepare: 10 minutes prep + 20 minutes (avg.) stovetop.

Level of Difficulty: 2/10

Serves: 4

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I’ve been getting bored of green beans lately. I avoid casserole-type dishes because of their general heaviness. And tossing beans in butter / olive oil and adding salt has gotten old. So I was really happy to discover this recipe. It is light in oil and has tons of flavor. The sweetness of the onions and tomatoes really complements the basil.

I loaded up on the salt and that worked out ok — tomatoes can handle it. Next time I would take them off a bit sooner than 20 minutes, to make them a little crisper. This is an easy dish I could see myself making once a week.