November 29, 2011

Sesame Chicken with Mustard Greens and Shiitake Mushrooms

Mushrooms continue to be one of my favorite vegetables; both their firm yet tender texture and earthy flavor are appealing to me. Shiitake mushrooms are no exception, and might even be one the best varieties due to lovely appearance and smoky taste. Native to south Asia, shiitake mushrooms have been used in both medicine and cuisine for thousands of years. Though known by different names depending upon the country, the term shiitake, as we use in the States, is Japanese and refers to the type of evergreen tree on which shiitake mushrooms, among others, grow. Shiitake mushrooms have only been permitted for cultivation in the States since the early 1970s due to confusion with another variety of mushroom, Lentinus lepideus, which is an invasive species and prohibited by the USDA. Like other mushrooms, shiitakes are an excellent source of various vitamins, minerals, fiber and protein. Sesame chicken is especially good with rice and vegetables.

1 lbs chicken thighs, skin and bones removed

1 bunch mustard greens, roughly chopped

2 c shiitakes, stems removed

1 bunch scallions, cut into 2" segments

2 cloves garlic, pressed or finely chopped

¼ c sesame seeds, toasted

1 tbsp vegetable oil

1 tbsp mirin

salt and pepper

1. Place toasted sesame seeds in a bowl, add chicken thighs and toss until well coated. Heat the vegetable oil in a large heavy bottom pan over medium heat, add chicken and brown each side, about 5 minutes per side.

2. Once chicken thighs have browned, add mirin, garlic mustard greens and shitakes, reduce heat to low, cover and braise until mushrooms are tender, 5-10 minutes. Add scallions, gently stir to combine and remove from heat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve chicken warm or room temperature.

Serves 3-4

November 20, 2011


Succotash, from the Narragansett word msickquatash for boiled corn kernels, is a traditional American dish with a base of beans and corn. Based upon similar dishes made by the Algonquian tribes, American colonists are thought to have interpreted and incorporated succotash into American cuisine during the 16th or 17th century. Many believe succotash was served during early American Thanksgiving meals and later became a staple during the Great Depression due to available, inexpensive and filling ingredients. Succotash can be made with any number of different ingredients including various meats and vegetables and cooked in a variety of ways including casseroles and potpies. I prefer the simplicity of a vegetarian succotash salad, though browned bacon is a delicious addition, because it can be served as a side dish, salad or entrée and tastes great at most any temperature. Succotash pairs well with german potato salad, zucchini-squash fritters and stuffed bell peppers.

2 c frozen lima beans, defrosted

2 ears corn, kernels removed

1 medium tomato, finely diced

1 tbsp parsley, finely chopped

1 small yellow onion, trimmed and thinly sliced

1 clove garlic, pressed or finely chopped

1 tbsp butter

salt and pepper

1. Heat butter in a medium skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onion and sauté until soft and translucent, 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic and parsley, stir to combine and remove from heat.

2. Place lima beans, corn, tomato and sautéed onions in a medium mixing bowl and gently fold to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve warm, room temperature or cold.

Serves 3-4

November 13, 2011

Roasted Cauliflower

Sometimes it seems cauliflower is relegated to being overcooked and covered with thick sauces, neither of which seem to truly compliment the vegetable itself. Cauliflower, another member of the cruciferous family and so an ancestor of wild cabbage from Asia, widely cultivated in the Mediterranean thousands of years ago, popular in 16th century Europe and now commonly eaten around the world. Cauliflower, like other cruciferous vegetables, is high in nutritional value related to the antioxidant, detoxification and anti-inflammatory systems of the human body and comes in a variety of colors other than the typical white including orange, green and purple. Lightly roasting cauliflower brings out its delicious flavor while slightly maintaining its nice crunch. Roasted cauliflower goes very well with pumpkin purée or warm lentil salad.

1 head cauliflower, florets trimmed from stem

1 tbsp olive oil

salt and pepper

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Toss cauliflower florets with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Spread cauliflower evenly on a baking sheet.

2. Place cauliflower in oven and bake until tender, 8-12 minutes, stir occasionally to cook evenly and prevent overcooking. Remove cauliflower from oven and adjust seasoning as desired. Serve cauliflower warm or room temperature.

Serves 3-4

November 2, 2011

Kale Chips

Kale, a member of the brassica family, is a nutrient rich and delicious vegetable, which is gaining popularity in American cuisine. Kale contains antioxidants, anti-inflammatory benefits, cancer-preventing phytonutriets, cholesterol-lowering properties, detoxification support, fiber and a host of other important vitamins and nutrients. As kale becomes an increasingly popular vegetable, there is an increase in the varieties available, which creates more culinary possibilities and options. I like to prepare kale using any number of different techniques and in a host of different recipes. Kale chips are one way to consume kale on its own, as a snack, or in addition to soups and salads.

Any variety of kale will work, though the larger the leaf the greater amount of chips.

1 bunch kale, washed

¼ c olive oil

1 clove garlic, finely pressed

salt and pepper

1. Combine olive oil and garlic in a small bowl and set aside to marinate for 1-2 hours.

2. Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Remove kale ribs from leaves, and place leaves in a large mixing bowl. Add garlic and olive oil and thoroughly massage onto leaves until they are well coated. Season leaves to taste with salt and pepper.

3. Spread leaves evenly on a baking sheet. Place kale in oven and bake until crisp but still green, 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent over cooking. Remove from heat and adjust seasoning as desired.

Makes about 4 c