Category Archives: Vegetables

Light the Lights-Day 5

Part of my large collection of Hanukkah decorations includes  a group children’s holiday books.  None of them were mine from childhood but rather simply caught my eye through my adult years.  One had cute mice baking rugelach, another a tiny real draidel suspended from a ribbon but my favorite is  a book called Papa’s Latkes  by Jane Breskin Zalben.  Most of the books center around the mama or bubbie making holiday treats but in Zalben’s book about a family of Jewish bears,  it is the papa who makes the latkes for Hanukkah.  The story always made me smile because growing up my papa also was in charge of making the latkes.

My Papa’s Latkes
Potatoes (how many? A LOT!)
Onion (How much? Not too much!)
Matzoh meal (a handful but Papa’s hand not mine)
Eggs (2-3 depends on how many potatoes we used-see above)
pinch of baking powder (Uh Oh that was supposed to be a family secret)
Salt, pepper

Get out the biggest bowl you have. Not that one it is too small. 
Find the grater that you only use this time of year.
Grate most of the potatoes on the coarse part and the rest on the fine part and all of the onion on the fine part.
At some point you will grate a bit of knuckle; this is part of the holiday joy.
Squeeze all of the liquid out of the potatoes but keep the liquid in a bowl
Make a huge magillah out of reserving the potato starch and then forget and dump it all down the drain
Beat the eggs and add them along with the matzoh meal and salt and pepper
Mix with a big wodden spoon that is half stained pink from stirring borcht
Heat oil in two huge frying pans and fry latkes until crisp and golden
Mazel Tov!  Now we can eat already…


Light the Lights-Day 3

On the third night of Hanukkah it is also Shabbat and the perfect time slow things down a bit and have a relaxing family supper.  After all of the rich food I have been making, I thought it would be nice to lighten things up tonight. 

I often make pan seared or poached salmon with sparkling apple cider but we had a little bit of local hard cider (West County Cider from Western MA ) left from Thanksgiving so my husband Mark suggested we try using it.  Although the result was terrific, the cider was so good in the glass, I think that in the future I would reserve it for drinking.  To accompany the salmon I made Tangerine & Honey Glazed Carrot Coins (recipe below) which are a traditional Hanukkah treat but I used these glorious rainbow carrots grown by Kimball Fruit Farms and Blue Heron Farm.  I found many colors of carrots at the indoor farmers markets this past winter, so keep an eye out for them when the markets open in January.  Jasmine rice with Hen of the Woods and Chanterelle mushrooms sauteed in wine and miso broth rounded out our holiday meal.

Tangerine & Honey Glazed Rainbow Carrots
1 pound of carrots peeled and cut into “coins”
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons fresh tangerine juice (or orange juice)
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
pinch of ground cardamom
salt to taste
Toasted seasame seeds    

Melt butter in a skillet
Add carrots and saute until just barely tender
Turn up heat to medium high
Add juice, honey, and spices
Cook until tendar and well glazed
Sprinkle with salt and seasame seeds

Glistening jewels among the cabbages

A few weeks ago on Cape Cod, I stood at the edge of a magnificent sea of red fruit and blue water.  I watched, fascinated, as waves of cranberries were nudged from the cool flooded bog and sent rolling up a huge conveyor belt and then cascading down in a shower of red, pink, and white into a waiting open trailer truck.   I read that Massachusetts was the second largest producer of cranberries in the world and it appeared even from this one bog that we have plenty to share!  Naturally, I could not end my visit without taking home a taste of this bounty so my freezer is now filled with gallon bags of bright red berries.

Tonight we raided the cranberry stash to grace a dish of Brussels sprouts and apples.  We bought the firm and bright green Brussels sprouts from E.L. Silvia Farms at the Winchester Farmers Market this morning and the nice tart apples were from a picking expedition at Kimball Fruit Farms.  We gave them a quick steaming and then Mark pan roasted the baby cabbages until slightly charred and still crunchy.  He then added the cranberries , the apples, a splash of apple cider ,and a sprinkling of salt and cracked pepper.  The dish swirled with fall colors and each taste was distinct and yet the flavors blended together beautifully. 

We plan to make this dish again for Thanksgiving as long as one of the farmers still has good Brussels sprouts available.  If we can’t get sprouts some shredded cabbage would also work well.

Russian Noodle Kugel

Inspired by a MA Farmers Market contest for wild mushroom recipes, I am posting this family favorite.  I don’t have any pictures handy as we seem to eat it before I can document the deliciousness.

Russian Noodle Kugel
1 pound Broad or Homestyle Egg Noodles
1 stick + 2 Tbs Butter
14 ounces Packaged or Homemade Farmers’ Cheese (see Cheese Envy post)
6 Eggs (separated)
1 Onion (thinly sliced)
1 quart wild mushrooms
2/3 cup Milk
Salt, Black Pepper, and Sweet Paprika to taste

  1.  Sauté the onions in 2 Tbs butter until just soft
  2. Add mushrooms and sauté briefly
  3. Season with salt, pepper, and paprika to taste and set aside
  4. Boil noodles until just cooked
  5. Drain noodles but do not rinse and place in a large bowl
  6. Add one stick of butter cut into large chunks to the hot noodles and mix
  7. Add the onion and mushroom mixture to the noodles
  8. Break the cheese into small chunks and mix into the noodles
  9. Add salt as needed
  10. Whip the egg whites until they form soft peaks
  11. Blend the egg yolks with ½ cup milk
  12. Stir the egg yolk mixture into the noodles
  13. Fold in the egg whites gently
  14. Butter (or non-stick spray) a large casserole dish
  15. Pour in the noodle mixture and sprinkle the top with paprika

Bake for approximately 50 minutes or until the center is set and the top is lightly

Falling for Kale

The joy of eating locally in the summer is well-known and the farmers markets are filled with shoppers enjoying the delights of peaches, tomatoes, and corn.  But once the fall sets in we begin to think about the long winter ahead.  I started writing about eating locally in winter last year and continue to search for new vegetables and fruits that store well or have a season that extends into the cold weather.  Today I picked up some Lacinato kale which was a lush dark green with stiff leaves.  Farmers have told me that they have harvested delicious kale in the snow.  I decided to pair the kale with apples and onions which are also good winter “keepers” .  This simple recipe is a comforting side dish for a cool autumn or early winter night. 

Kale and Apples
Head of Kale (Lacinato/Black Kale prefered)
1/2 cup Roughly Chopped Onion
Medium Apple (peeled, cored, chopped in 1/2 “chunks)
3 tablespoons Ricotta Cheese
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
1/2 teaspoon Lemon Zest
pinch Fresh Nutmeg

Rinse kale well and leave damp
Discard thick kale stems and chop roughly 
Heat the pan and add olive oil
Saute onions until just soft
Add apples and saute until juices begin to run
Add kale and cook over medium heat until soft and wilted
Mix in cheese, lemon zest, and nutmeg
Serve hot or warm

Green Tomatoes Two Ways

Firm green tomatoes are one of the pleasures of both early and late summer.   I usually grab a few when they show up at the farmers market and then collect the unripe holdouts from my garden as frost is threatening.  I love the classic fried green tomatoes, but this year I tried a few new tricks for an old favorite.   

Yesterday, I make Green Tomato/Corn Meal Drop Cakes (shown left and recipe below).   For dinner tonight, I whipped up a simple Green Tomato BBQ Sauce by cooking green tomatoes until soft and then passing them through a food mill.  I added brown sugar, honey, smoked paprika, mustard, vinegar, & oil and blended it all together.  We roasted some bluefish with the Green Tomato BBQ Sauce and served it with fresh sweet corn and salad from the farmers market. 

Green Tomato/Corn Meal Drop Cakes
2 medium Green Tomatoes
1 cup Flour (plus additional flour for dredging)
4 Tbs Coarse Corn Meal
2 tsp Baking Powder
2/3 cup Buttermilk
1/3 cup Whole Milk
1 Tbs Butter (melted)
¼ tsp Salt
¼ tsp Paprika
¼ tsp White Pepper
Oil for frying

  1.  Heat 1-2” inches of oil in a deep pot to 375 degrees
  2. Mix flour, corn meal, baking powder, salt, paprika, and pepper in bowl
  3. Add melted butter, buttermilk, and whole milk and mix well
  4. Slice the tomatoes in half and then cut into ½ inch wedges
  5. One at a time, dredge the tomato slices in flour and then coat them with batter and drop in hot oil
  6. Fry only a few at a time until golden brown on one side
  7. Flip the drop cake and cook on the other side until brown and cooked
  8. Remove from oil and drain on paper towels
  9. Cool slightly and serve
  10. Best eaten right away

An Evening of American Food and Song

On Wednesday night we threw a party that combined my love of food and food history with my husband’s love of music and singing.  We invited a group of my fellow food blogger friends and the members of the Sounds of Concord Barbershop Chorus (where Mark sings Bass) to an Evening of American Food and Song.  

The foodies selected and prepared dishes that reflected their vision of the  American spirit and the Barbershop guys sang their hearts out for us including a rousing version of the Star Spangled Banner .  Despite the showers we gathered in the house for cocktails and dinner but when the rain let up the boys filed out to the patio to fill the summer night with their harmonies. 

It was a magical evening of friendship, fun, and fantastic food.  I will try to give you a flavor of some of the festivities and dishes but honestly I was having too good a time schmoozing and listening to the music to snap a ton of pictures.  I think we may just have to make this an annual event!

 Some of the dishes we made and our clever and talented friends brought included:

Ham Fancies, Homemade Pimento Cheese,  Daisy Sandwiches, Picnic Pickles
I adapted these appetizers from the 1917 American cookbook, “1000 Ways to Please A Husband”  Mark was not convinced that cutting pimento sandwiches into cute little shapes is the way to a man’s heart but he did enjoy the homemade picnic pickles

Red, White, & Blue Grass-Fed Beef Sliders
Jon Ross-Wiley from grilled up baby burgers topped with blue cheese and tomatoes that were delicious and fit the theme perfectly.  He shared with me that our friends at CityFeed in JP donated ingredients when they heard about our party.  Thanks guys!!

Summer Succatash

Anita Freed made as American a dish as you can get featuring foods that reminded her of pre-Colonial Thanksgiving feasts.  In more modern times, ingredients arrive in a CSA box. You can get the recipe for this tasty dish and other local food recipes from her blog, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Swiss Chard

Wild Rice Salad
Lara Zelman, a.k.a Good Cook Doris also brought us a dish filled with native foods and Colonial transplants from the earliest days of our nation.  Wild rice and cranberries already grew here and parsley and celery (often Lovage or cutting celery)  were frequently grown in Colonial gardens.  This dish was delightfully cool and light; perfect for a hot summer night.

Sue McCrory who brings us many delicious stories and events in the Public Radio Kitchen brought her family’s favorite baked beans.  “Pat Riley’s (Vegetarian) Baked Beans”  were so rich and full of baked in sweetness that I just wanted to heap them on a plate with a chunk of cornbread and eat huddled in a corner, growling like a hound if anyone came near.  Luckily, she made a huge pot so there was plenty to share.

Another hearty dish was brought by Mike and Laura Angotti.  I am not typically a huge chili fan, but this cowboy style recipe full of meat and beans in a thick flavorful sauce won me over.  They also supplied blue corn chips and shredded cheese to finish it off right.

 Corn and blueberries, as native American foods, played a big part in the menu and were featured in a corn casserole from Brian (a Barbershopper), a blueberry/strawberry cornbread, and some petite blueberry muffins bursting with berries made by Margie Gordon Hurwitz.  The muffins came nestled in linens in a vintage  basket with a little tag that read “House of Hurwitz”.

Blueberries were also used in a drink we called a Yankee Doodle, which contained gin, homemade blueberry syrup, tonic water, and a squeeze of lime. There were homemade maraschino cherries and blueberries to add that packed a punch!  The other drink pictured was a moscato based sangria with summer fruits.   Of course we also enjoyed a selection of good old American beers.

Alan Bone, another of the Barbershop singers, brought a Southern Macaroni Pie and brought home an empty dish-yum! 


Mark insisted that an Americana party had to have a watermelon basket and so he carved up this number just shortly before the party began.  It was filled with melon and berries and went well with the fresh cherries one of the guests brought.

There was also more fruit for dessert in the luscious blueberry cobbler made by Laura and Rob Ciampa who mostly blog about great restaurants and travel in New England but clearly some terrific things come out their own kitchen!  There was a blueberry pie from the charming Noj and Lily Zachariah as well of some fine singing from Noj. 

And I made some fruit tarts if only to justify owning 19 tart pans. Blueberry with cornmeal crust, sour cherry with almond crust, and peach spice with shortbread crust.

And throughout the evening lots of singing and chatting and smiles:

Click here  for more pictures!

Sounds of Concord is always looking for men who like to sing to join them.  Check the website for details and rehersal times.