Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Inspiration - Week #13

In this week's Grande box:  Napa cabbage, mixed salad greens, arugula, white onions, watermelon, summer squash (zucchini and yellow), potatoes, cherry tomatoes, roma-type and slicing tomatoes.  (some of you might get some radishes)

Do you have a working stove, sink and refrigerator in your kitchen?  A counter and floor that is not covered with power tools?   Yes?  You are a lucky stiff.   This is what my kitchen looks like right now. 

I am not complaining, because this mess is a temporary inconvenience and the end result will be a new kitchen floor.  Our old floor got wrecked when the dishwasher (not that old) sprung a leak and water got under the floor and it bubbled up and started looking dimply all over and then I knew the floor was done for.  When my appliance guy, Hoogie Hanson (no relation but I value our relationship), comes to reconnect the offending dishwasher, I will have to ask if he can take on the nonfunctional burner on my gas cook top - and the broken heating element in my top oven.  I am doing my part to keep the economy going.  Sigh.

But even if my kitchen is currently somewhat of a disaster zone, you still have to eat this week.  So let's talk about some meal ideas.  But wait - I do want to share one day brightener.   Did you know that starting in 2011, all children in England ages 11-14 will be required to take cooking classes?   Hats off to the Brits.  They are taking serious steps to reverse obesity trends and improve the health of their people.  Did you take a cooking class in junior high or high school?  Do your children even have that option available to them?  I am going to keep my eye on this English initiative.  Of course the key will be in the curriculum.  I hope they teach them how to cook some vegetables properly.  The English do not have a good reputation for doing right by their vegs.  The heartbreak of overcooking.

Now --  let's talk about some menu ideas.  First, don't let the size of the Napa cabbage scare you.  This vegetable cooks down quite a bit.  You can handle it, I promise.  And I hope you are not getting tired of tomatoes.  I plan to talk about tomatoes a lot this week -- it is all part of getting ready for winter.  And isn't it nice to get some mixed salad greens again?  Time to make a jar of vinaigrette if you don't have any around.  The arugula is in beautiful shape.  I provide a recipe below for cooking arugula - briefly - in a caramelized onion sauce.  I also encourage you to save out a least a few leaves to eat fresh.  They have a lovely peppery bite.  Would be nice in a sandwich with some roasted vegetables or even egg salad.  If you have any beets around, some roasted beets would go well in a salad with arugula.

As usual, where you see an asterisk you know there is a recipe at the end of the post.

Hurry, Curry!
Potato - onion curry*, rice,  fresh tomato chutney*, plain yogurt (side dish) , melon.

A toast to cabbage
Napa cabbage braised in beer with kielbasa*, buttered egg noodles or spaetzle, tossed lettuce salad with cherry tomatoes  (Save some of your cabbage for making cole slaw for burrito night)

Fun Fiesta
Burritos with refried beans, onions and zucchini (grate or shred zucchini and saute with onion before using as burrito filling), cheese optional;  fresh tomato-chile salsa, Mexican cole slaw*; melon with a slice of fresh lime

Date or guest night pasta dinner
Antipasto of cured meat, olives, roasted peppers; Pasta with caramelized onion and arugula sauce*; bread; Lemon sorbet or ice or granita; espresso - serve with a piece of dark chocolate.

Lazy weekend breakfast
Frittata with onions, sweet peppers, zucchini, basil, tomatoes and mozzarella or feta cheese; roasted potatoes; zucchini bread or muffins (recipe will be in Saturday post)


Potato onion curry (serves 4)
About 2 pounds potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
About 3/4 pound onions, peeled and roughly chopped
2 t. finely minced fresh garlic
1 inch piece fresh ginger - finely minced
1/4 t. ground cloves
1/2 t. ground cinnamon
1 t. turmeric powder
salt to taste - about 3/4 t.
2-3 T. oil
Saute all the spices in oil for about 5 minutes.  Add onions and cook in oil 5 more minutes.  Add potatoes, cover and cook until vegetables are soft.  Add water or broth if mixture seems too dry.  If you have fresh or frozen peas, add a handful at the very end of cooking for nice color, flavor and extra nutrition.
Serve with rice, plain yogurt on the side and tomato chutney

Fresh Tomato Chutney (1)
Chop a half pound of tomatoes and one onion.  Add to a bowl with the following ingredients:
2 T. vinegar
2 t. chili powder
1 t. sugar
1/2 t. salt
Fresh chiles, minced, or red pepper flakes, if desired
Saute 1 t. mustard seed in 2 T. oil.  After a few minutes, add the rest of the ingredients.  Simmer slowly until thickened.  Store in refrigerator.

Fresh Tomato Chutney (2)
Chop together:  1 pound tomatoes; 1 large onion;  fresh chiles, to taste; salt, to taste

Napa cabbage braised in beer with kielbasa (serves 4)
One cup sliced onions
1 T. butter or olive oil or a combination
1 bottle (12 oz.) of beer
1 pound kielbasa or other polish type sausage, sliced
Two pounds shredded or thinly sliced cabbage (you could use white cabbage, savoy or napa.  You also could use collards or kale)
salt, pepper (red or black or both) to taste
Heat a large pot, add the butter/oil and then the onions.  Stir, cover and cook on medium low heat about 5 minutes. Then uncover, raise heat, add sausage and cook until onions and sausages are browned.  Add cabbage, beer, salt and pepper.  Cover and cook for about 30 minutes - stirring occasionally.  You want the cabbage soft but not mushy.

Cole slaw with a Mexican twist
Finely shred or slice napa or other cabbage - about 1 cup cabbage, lightly packed, per serving.  Mix with the following dressing (about 1 T. per serving).  Garnish with chopped fresh cilantro or toasted pumpkin seeds or both,  if available.

1/2 cup oil (olive or canola)
2 T fresh lime juice
1/2 t. salt
1 t. sugar
1 t. chili powder
1/4 t. (or to taste)red pepper flakes or minced chiles, according to taste

Caramelized onion and arugula pasta sauce (enough for 4-5 servings of pasta - one pound)
1/4  cup olive oil
About 6 cups thinly sliced onions
1/2 t. salt
About 1/2 cup dry white wine, maybe a bit more
About 2 cups arugula, stemmed and sliced - lightly packed
Optional - about 1/2 cup chopped or sliced proscuitto or pancetta.  (La Quercia, an Iowa company making a line of artisanal cured pork products,  sells proscuitto crumbles would which would work well here.  Not cheap but adds a lot of flavor and a little goes a long way.)

Saute onions in oil over medium heat about 15 minutes (maybe cover a few minutes to hold in a little extra moisture).  Add salt, stir, lower heat and cook for about another 30 minutes - until onions are a rich brown and caramelized to your liking.  Add white wine and meat, if you are using it.  Cook another 10-15 minutes.  (You can be cooking the pasta now if you want.  Or this sauce can be made ahead and finished off when pasta is ready.)

Finishing the sauce - heat onions, add arugula and cook for 5 minutes.  Stir hot cooked, drained pasta into the sauce and serve.   Nice optional topping - chopped toasted walnuts and grated parmesan


  1. Good luck with your kitchen! Those menus look great.

    Do you know of an internet source of information of the English school children cooking initiative?

  2. Anne-marie - I would like to spend some time with your blog when I am not on a deadline! It looks interesting. Check out this link re: England and children's cooking. There are some links in the article I intend to try.

  3. Argula? What are we supposed to do with this? I thought it was spinich and then tried it and it wasn't. Is it for a salad? Colleen