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Long Bean Salad

Long Bean Salad

Comments: Long beans are here and with them, one of my favorite dishes of the summer.  A couple of years ago, I drove all over town to all of the Asian markets, looking for long beans. What a surprise to find them in my CSA shares for the first time last year! This recipe is from the book “Thai Vegetarian Cooking” by Vatcharin Bhumichitr.  It is a beautiful book with lots of pictures. Thai cooks care a lot about presentation. For this dish,  I find it easier to cut the long beans into 2 or three inch segments and the tomato into rough dices rather than slices and then I usually eat it as a side (or even a main dish) with a fork – no lettuce leaves.  No other beans have quite the same texture and flavor in this dish as long beans.  This is a great dish for a summer picnic or cookout! Warning: If you aren’t used to Thai levels of spiciness, start with one or one and a half chilis, instead of three. It will still be plenty hot! You can then adjust the next time based on your heat tolerance and the type of chili pepper you use.

Ingredientslongbeans

  • 1 garlic glove
  • 3 small red or green chilis
  • 4oz/1bundle long beans
  • 2 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 medium tomato, roughly sliced
  • 1 tbsp crushed roast peanuts
  • 4 or 5 lettuce leaves

Preparation

1. In a mortar, pound the garlic and the chilis until well crushed.
2. Add the long beans and lightly pound until slightly broken.
3. Add the soy sauce, lemon juice and sugar, stirring well.
4. Add the tomato, stir quickly; add the crushed peanuts, stir quickly.
5. Arrange the salad leaves on a serving dish and turn the yam (salad) mixture on to them.  Eat with fingers using the leaves as scoops.

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Watermelon sorbet

Watermelon sorbet

Comments: This recipe is from Alton Brown’s Good Eats series. The DVD title was ‘The Ripe Stuff”.  Watch it for a very entertaining view on the science behind the sugar.  We do not have an ice cream freezer. Instead, I use Step 3b : I pour the mixture into a small glass dish and put it directly into the freezer.  Every hour for the next three hours, I take it out and whip it to break up all of the ice crystals. This helps to give it a smoother texture. After the first three hours, I let it finish freezing.  Texture-wise, it is best on the first night.  Otherwise, you will probably want to let it sit in the serving bowls  for about 10 minutes to soften up to a more sorbet like consistency.  Also, we’ve been experimenting with different amounts of sugar versus alcohol.  Both the sugar and the alcohol help to keep the sorbet from becoming a solid block of ice.  You don’t want to decrease one without increasing the other.  The first night, the only alcohol we had in the house was dark rum – it made for a nice sorbet if you like rum because you could really taste it! We recently experimented with a combination of midori and vodka – that was quite good! I’ll come back and update when I think I’ve got the proportions just right for our taste!

Ingredients

1 pound, 5 ounces of diced watermelon (or muskmelon, or honeydew)

3 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 tbsp vodka

9 ounces sugar (approximately 1 1/4 cups)

Preparation

1. Place the melon in the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth.

2. Add the lemon, juice, vodka, and sugar and process for another 30 seconds.

3a. If using an ice cream maker, place the mixture into the refrigerator until it reaches 40 degrees F; this could take between 30 minutes and an hour.  Pour the mixture into the bowl of an ice cream maker and process according to manufacturers instructions.

3b. If not using an ice cream maker, pout into a freezer safe dish. Stir at least every hour for the first three hours being sure to completely break up all of the ice crystals that are forming. After three hours, just let it freeze until ready to eat.

4. For storage, transfer to an airtight container and  place in the freezer.

spritzer_smallThis is a rhubarb lemonade spritzer. I found the recipe in a “Delicious Living” magazine from our local market. I’ve always wondered what you could do with rhubarb! Unfortunately, rhubarb was not in season when I first ran across this recipe but it looked so intriguing that I just had to try it so I searched out a bag of frozen chopped rhubarb. Easy to make, easy to drink! It reminds me of a lemon-lime kind of soda. Perfect if you are craving something “soda-like” but don’t want the caffeine and artificial sweeteners. I used the same technique to make a strawberry lemonade drink a few days later. I used 6 lemons instead of one and regular water instead of sparkling water. (And of course, strawberries instead of rhubarb.)

Ingredients
6 cups water
1 cup natural cane soda
6 cups (about 6 large stalks) coarsely chopped fresh rhubarb
Zest and juice of 1 medium-large lemon (about 1 tbsp zest and 4 scant tablespoons juice)

Instructions
1. In a saucepan, bring water and sugar to a boil. Add rhubarb. return to a boil, then simmer over low heat for 5 minutes. Add lemon zest and stir gently. Strain into a bowl, allowing pulp to drain for 10 minutes without pressing. pour liquid into a pitcher and add lemon juice. Refrigerate at least one hour. (This can be made several days in advance.)
2. To serve, mix one portion syrup with an equal portion of unflavored sparkling water or a sparkling wine, such as Italian Prosecco.
Per serving: (1/2 cup syrup mixed with 1/2 cup sparkling water)
46 calories, 2% fat cal, 0g. fat. 0g sat fat, 0 mg chol, 0gprotein, 11 g carb, 1 g fiber, 4 mg sodium

Recently, I’ve been making my husband  salads to take to work for lunch.  He has been finding that when I make then heartier than normal by throwing on a handful of toasted nuts and some hardboiled egg (or avocado and fresh cheese)  that they keep him from getting hungry later in the day.  Today’s salad was a little more challenging because after it was made, I realized we didn’t have any salad dressing.  I’ve been making dressings from scratch off and on recently and  Better Homes and Gardens has an especially good one in the April 2009 issue:

Ingredients

  • Finely shredded peel and juice from 2 medium lemons
  • 3 gloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp. dijon-style mustard
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 tsp. each salt and pepper.

Combine all of the ingredients except the oil and sour cream. Then whisk the oil and sour cream in until thickened.  Easy and delicious.  The zest (or finely shredded lemon peel)  gives the dressing a REALLY lemony flavor. I used a variation of this with Kyle’s salad this morning. I reduced the recipe by roughly two-thirds and instead of lemon, I used half of a valencia orange (with peel)  and about half the amount of sour cream as oil.  I think I might like the variation more than the original!  Kyle’s salad contained spinach, toasted almonds, carrots, and orange wedges so the dressing should go especially well with it.

Perhaps tomorrow, I’ll try to come up with a basil dressing for him.

Comments: This recipe was born of a desire to use up a small bit of lentil broth that I had saved from cooking lentils earlier in the week. I also had some leftover swiss chard and something told me that those two ingredients might go really nicely together in a soup.   Swiss chard is high in lots of vitamins. For more detail, check out “The World’s Healthiest Foods”.  Lentils are high in protein and a great vegetable source of iron. Put the two foods together and you have a powerhouse of a soup.  All of the ingredients cook together to form a rich broth, chock full of nutrients. Swiss chard is already a little bit salty so you will not need to add any additional salt to this recipe. Honest.  Serve this with some good bread and/or a salad. This makes about 3 big servings. (You could stretch it to four with a big salad and some good bread.)

Ingredients:

1 cup of french lentils or any dark lentil

1/2 a bunch of swiss chard

1 bay leaf

2 gloves of garlic

1/2 tbsp of thyme

fresh ground pepper to taste

5-6 cups of water

Preparation:

1. Rinse and sort through the lentils for any small stones. Peel the garlic gloves and crush them slightly if desired.  Rinse the swiss chard and tear the leaves into pieces slightly larger than bite size. Do not use the stems.

2. Place the lentils, the bay leaf, and the garlic in a soup pot along with 5 cups of water. (You can add more water if you prefer a thinner soup.) Bring to a boil.

2. Reduce the heat so that the lentils are boiling gently, just past a simmer – too hard of a boil can cause them to break up.  Set your timer for 20 minutes. After about 5 minutes, throw the swiss chard, the thyme, and a dash or two of fresh ground pepper into the pot. Stir it up and put a lid on it.

3. That’s it! When the timer goes off, enjoy! Remove the bay leaf and garlic before serving. (Or – if you really like garlic, crush one of the cloves against the side of the pot and mix it in before serving)

Comments: This spring there were several weeks when the CSA box included bunches of radishes and bok choy. I’m familiar with radish and cream cheese sandwiches and one afternoon as I was putting one together for lunch and wondering what to do with all the bok choy, I decided to see how raw bok choy would taste added to the sandwich. Wow! it was great! The next day I was out of bread and suddenly thoughts of lettuce wraps from Asian restaurants came to mind. Lettuce wraps….bok choy wraps…hmmm, the long radishes will work well. Here’s what I came up with! French breakfast radishes are perfect for this because they are long and narrow like the bok choy leaf. If you use other radish types, you’ll need to cut them up to fit (or just layer it all on some bread and eat it as a sandwich!). A friend and I once sat at the table chatting while we made and ate an entire plate of these.

Bok choy bites

Bok choy bites

Ingredients:

  • Small to medium bok choy leaves
  • French breakfast radishes
  • Cream cheese
  • Preparation:
    Using a knife, gently spread a small amount of cream cheese down the length of the center and slightly up the edges of the bok choy leaf. Place a radish in the center and roll the edges of the leaf up around the sides of the radish. The cream cheese will help the leaves stick to the radish. Most of the bok choy leaves will probably have a default direction that the edges of the leaves want to turn. Use that to your advantage. Finger food at its best! Eat them just like you would a taco (or a lettuce wrap).

    Comments: This is another quick and easy dish. The title says it is a salsa and it IS great with chips but it also works as a side salad. This has become a standard for us when we travel. It can be mixed up and stored in a single dish and keeps well in a cooler. On occasion, I have also tossed in things like leftover green pepper or green onions. If you are a fan of fresh cilantro, it makes a really nice addition to this dish!

    Source: Southern Living, August 2007 Corn, avocado, black bean salsa

    Ingredients:

    • 2 medium-size ripe avocados, cubed
    • 1 (15.5-oz.) can black beans, rinsed and drained
    • 1 (15 1/4-oz.) can whole kernel corn, rinsed and drained
    • 1 fresh jalapeño pepper, seeded and diced
    • 1/3 cup chopped red onion
    • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
    • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

    Preparation:

    1. Gently stir together all ingredients in a large bowl.

    Yield: Makes 4 2/3 cups (serving size: 1/3 cup)

    Nutritional Information:

    CALORIES 78(0.0% from fat); FAT 4.6g (sat 0.7g,mono 2.8g,poly 0.6g); PROTEIN 1.9g; CHOLESTEROL 0.0mg; CALCIUM 12mg; SODIUM 154mg; FIBER 3.2g; IRON 0.7mg; CARBOHYDRATE 9.1g

    Artichokes are one of my favorite treats. I’ve introduced several people recently to the joys of a whole artichoke served steamed with a dipping sauce for the leaves. The first time I made one for my husband, we shared because he wasn’t sure he would like it. After that, we each had to have our own because it was a race to the finish line for both of us. (The “finish line” for those who have not eaten a whole artichoke before is the heart.) An artichoke makes a great community appetizer. Ideally, dinner guests will sit around the table savoring the individual leaves while enjoying great conversation.

    Prepping the artichoke

    I usually cut off the stem to within a half inch or so of the base of the artichoke before cooking. This helps the artichoke to sit somewhat upright in the steamer or pot. Most books will also tell you to snip all the sharp points off the leaves. If you are serving this to children, it might not be a bad idea. Otherwise, if you are an adult, I assume that you are capable of not hurting yourself on the pointed leaves and I don’t bother to take the time to snip them all. I just chop a quarter inch off the top which gets rid of the pointy leaves on top and makes it fit in my steamer better.

    Cooking the artichoke

    All you need to do to serve a whole artichoke is steam it. If you have a steamer big enough, put the artichoke(s) in for about 40-45 minutes. If you don’t have a steamer, put a couple inches of water in a heavy pot and set the artichokes upright. Bring the water to a boil and cover for 45 minutes or so. WATCH CAREFULLY. The first time I tried this, I boiled the pot dry and it caught on fire. Seriously – you have now been warned and I take no further responsibility. Check the pot and add hot water if necessary to keep it from boiling dry. You’ll know that the artichokes are done when the outer leaves pull away easily from the base.

    Eating the artichoke

    When finished steaming, pull off the 3 or 4 largest toughest leaves from the base and discard. Serve the artichoke on a plate and place a bowl beside it to hold the discarded leaves. Take a leaf, dip it in the preferred sauce,  and then gently scrape the leaf  with your teeth starting about 1/4 of the way up from the base. There is a little bit of “meat” at the base of the leaf and this is what you are trying to get. Don’t eat the whole leaf. The best part comes when you have gotten to the point that the leaves are almost too small and tender to deal with. You are getting close to the heart of the artichoke. Take a spoon and scrape the small, translucent leaves and fuzzy stuff from the base. This will leave you with the small bowl-shaped heart. Dip it and enjoy!  Friends of mine who don’t want to try this without hands-on guidance the first time are welcome to bring artichokes to my house for a lesson. Payment is two artichokes (one for me and one for Kyle).

    Dipping sauces

    Mom’s artichoke dip

    Melt one stick of butter in bowl, add about 1/4 reduced fat mayonaise (should be the consistency of salad dressing). Sprinkle with garlic powder and whip together.

    (Note: For two people, I don’t usually make this much dip – proportions of mayo to butter are about half and half erring on the side of slightly less mayo. It doesn’t have to be exact.)

    Curry dip

    Melt a big heaping spoonful of butter (I use ‘I Can’t Believe Its Not Butter). Add a slightly smaller spoonful of reduced fat sour cream.  Add a 1/4 to 1/2 tsp of curry powder and a dash of garlic.  Whip together.

    Fondue on potato

    Comments: This is a quick and easy fondue. It is not a traditional cheese fondue because there is no beer or wine and it is chunky instead of creamy. It is very forgiving and doesn’t require as much attention as many cheese fondues.
    Source: The Book of Fondues by Lorna Rhodes
    Ingredients:

    • 2 tbsp butter
    • 1 large onion, chopped
    • 2 tsp all-purpose flour
    • 2/3 cup low-fat sour cream
    • 2 cups (8 oz) shredded Gruyere cheese
    • 2 cups (8oz) shredded Cheddar cheese
    • 2 tbsp snipped chives

    To Serve: small cooked potatoes, mushrooms, apples

    Instructions:

    1. Melt butter in a large saucepan, add onion and cook 4-5 minutes or until soft but not brown. Cheese and onion fondue

    2. Stir in flour; add sour cream and cook 2 minutes. Add cheeses and continue to cook, stirring, until mixture is smooth. (Note – This won’t be completely smooth – the chopped onions will give it a chunky texture.)

    3. Add chives and season with pepper. Pour into fondue pot and serve with vegetables noted above. Makes 4-6 servings.

    Comments: This is one of my mom’s favorite fruit salad recipes. It is quick and easy and goes nicely with a breakfast casserole.

     Ingredients:

    • 1 package sliced frozen strawberries
    • 1 can pineapple chunks with juice
    • 2 medium apples or one large apple chopped

    Instructions:

    Mix together and let sit overnight.

    (How’s that for quick and easy?)

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