TURKEY-SPINACH MEATBALLS WITH CARDAMON TOMATO SAUCE

A considerably lighter version of the traditional Italian meatballs, this one takes ground turkey, almond flour and is baked instead of fried. The addition of dates in the meatballs and Middle Eastern spices in the sauce move it even farther away from Italy, but I promise you, it’s very good. You just need a light hand dealing with them, they are very delicate.

 

TURKEY-SPINACH MEATBALLS WITH CARDAMON TOMATO SAUCE
(from the Bewitching Kitchen, inspired by many sources)

for the meatballs:
2 tbsp olive oil
1  bag (4oz) baby spinach
¼ cup dates, coarsely chopped
1 lb ground turkey (preferably dark meat)
1 egg
1/2 cup almond flour
ground nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste

for the tomato sauce:
2 tablespoons grape seed oil
6 cardamom pods
2 dried bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick
1/4 tsp ground coriander (I used whole the first time, but ground works better here)
1 bottle or can of tomato passata  (about 15 ounces)
1 teaspoons ground Kashmiri chiles (or any pepper of your choice)
salt and pepper to taste

Make the meatballs. Heat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large, 12-inch skillet, warm the olive oil over low heat. Add the spinach and dates, sprinkle a touch of salt, and cook until the leaves begin to wilt, about 1 minute. Transfer the mixture to the food processor and run it a few times to chop a little.  Add the ground turkey to the processor, the egg, almond flour and the seasonings. Pulse until everything is starting to get combined, but do not let it turn into a homogeneous paste.

Form the mixture into little balls, keep them reasonably small (about 1.5 in) otherwise they might crumble too much. Place them in the prepared baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes, turning them over half-way into baking time.

Make the tomato sauce. Heat the oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Sprinkle in the cardamom pods, bay leaves, and cinnamon sticks, and let them get very fragrant, about 1 minute. Carefully pour in the tomato passata. Add the Kashmiri chile, salt, pepper, and stir to blend. Simmer gently on low heat for 20 minutes. Discard the cardamon, bay, and cinnamon sticks.

When the meatballs are ready, place them in the warm sauce and gently simmer everything together for 10 minutes. Keep the heat very low. Serve with your favorite pasta or grain.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Kashmiri chile is a recent passion of mine. It has a special kind of heat that I like quite a bit, and it gives the food a beautiful red color, deeper than you would get from adding cayenne. I’ve been using it quite often and in this Middle Eastern-inspired sauce it does a beautiful job. I made this sauce twice since preparing this recipe, it is great as a milder substitute for the classic shakshuka, and if you add a bit of fresh orange zest right before serving you will be a happy camper. Passata is my favorite starting point, we have a very nice Italian brand available in town, but any type of crushed tomatoes will do. As to the turkey meatballs, feel free to start the recipe by sauteing onions and garlic before adding the spinach to the skillet. We omit those for food sensitivities but your kitchen, your rules!

The meatballs are super tender, moist, and with just a touch of sweetness from the dates.

ONE YEAR AGO: British Baps, a Technical Challenge

TWO YEAR AGO: Japanese-Style Cupcakes with Cherry Blossom Icing

THREE YEARS AGO: Quick Weeknight Soups

FOUR YEARS AGO: Sourdough Loaf with Cranberries and Walnuts

FIVE YEARS AGO: Sichuan Pork Stir-Fry in Garlic Sauce

SIX YEARS AGO: Our Green Trip to Colorado

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Ditalini Pasta Salad

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Celebrate Wednesday with a Thai Seafood Curry

NINE YEARS AGO:  Post-workout Breakfast

TEN YEARS AGO: Semolina Barbecue Buns

ELEVEN YEARS AGO: Lavash Crackers

 

  

ROSE, CARDAMON AND COFFEE SQUARES: CHETNA MAKAN’S COOKBOOK REVIEW

Last year I binge-watched The Great British Bake Off, originally aired in 2014. One of the reasons it took me so long to go for it, is my intense dislike of ANY food competition. I was never too wild about Iron Chef, barely stand the countless versions of Chopped, and despise Cutthroat Kitchen with every cell of my body. There. I feel better. But, despite all that, one day I sat down and put the first episode of The Great British Bake Off to play. I was hooked. First and foremost for the friendly atmosphere. When you watch any of the competition shows from FoodTV-USA, it is impossible to ignore a certain mean streak in the competitors. Each one wants to win so bad, they keep hammering on why they are clearly better than all others. The blatant arrogance really bothers me. I also prefer the format of the British show, particularly when all contestants need to make the exact same (very challenging)  recipe and it gets evaluated in a single-blind way. Today I share with you a recipe from the cookbook of my favorite contestant,  Chetna Makan. She made it almost to the end, facing all sorts of challenges with poise, grace, and a warm smile. And after the recipe, I will walk you through The Cardamon Trail. What a beautiful name!

ROSE, CARDAMON AND COFFEE DESSERT SLICES
(published with permission from Chetna Makan) 

200g (7oz) chocolate digestive biscuits
50g (1 ¾ oz) unsalted butter, melted, plus extra for greasing
225ml (8fl oz) milk
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 tablespoon coffee granules
3 large egg yolks
75g (2 ¾ oz) granulated sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 tablespoon boiling water
2 teaspoons powdered gelatine
250g (9oz) mascarpone cheese
1 teaspoon rosewater
white chocolate curls to decorate

Heat the oven to 180 ° C (350 ° F).

Grease a 20cm (8in) square cake tin and line it with nonstick baking paper. Put the digestive biscuits in a plastic bag and bash them with a rolling-pin to crush them to crumbs. Transfer the crumbs to a bowl and pour in the melted butter, mixing thoroughly so that the crumbs are completely coated. Tip the mixture into the prepared tin and press down firmly with the back of a spoon to create a smooth, even base layer. Bake for 15 minutes, then set aside to cool completely.

In a small pan, slowly heat the milk to scalding point. Add the ground cardamom and coffee granules and mix well, then remove the pan from the heat. In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks, sugar, cornstarch, cocoa and 2 tablespoons of the spiced milk together to form a smooth paste. Slowly add the remaining milk, whisking the whole time. Tip this mixture back into the saucepan and cook over a low heat for 2– 3 minutes until it thickens enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. Strain through a sieve into a clean bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 10 minutes until lukewarm.

Put the measured boiling water in a small bowl and sprinkle in the gelatine. Stir until the gelatine powder has dissolved. Add this to the lukewarm pastry cream and mix well. In another bowl, beat the mascarpone and rosewater together. Fold this into the pastry cream and pour the mixture over the biscuit base. Cover the tin with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight to set.

When ready to serve, carefully remove the cake from the tin and cut it into squares. To finish, sprinkle with white chocolate curls (or any decoration you prefer). The slices will keep, refrigerated, in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Chetna described it perfectly! This is a dessert for grownups. It has that exotic quality, the barely there sweetness, a very unique and complex mixture of flavors. I loved it!  I must confess I messed up big time, though. I used the wrong type of  cookies for the base. She specified chocolate digestifs for the base, but our grocery store carried only two types: regular digestifs, or some with a coating of chocolate at the bottom, very similar to these beauties made from scratch by my friend Karen. After I made the dessert, I exchanged emails with Chetna and she told me I could have used the digestifs either plain or with the chocolate coating, but the type of cookie I used (very thin chocolate Goya Maria brand) would need tweaking, probably some other binding agent to properly work. Learned a lesson there. The result is that the base got a bit too crumbly rather than giving a nice support to the deliciously smooth top layer.  I intend to make it again soon, but did not want to wait any longer to blog about it. So make sure to gather the right tools for the job…

TEASER RECIPE

On the very same day I made a batch of her Clove, Cinnamon and Chocolate cookies… 


OVERVIEW OF THE RECIPE

The cookie dough is made with self-rising flour, butter, two types of sugar, a touch of cinnamon and ground cloves. Then chocolate chips and diced pistachio nuts are mixed in.  I substituted white chocolate because I found out that I had 4 bags of white chocolate chips and not a single one of semi-sweet. Apparently every time I go to the grocery store I tell myself “you better get a bag of white chocolate chips, because you only have the dark ones.”  In case you did not know, I do research for a living. Shocking, I know. Once again, Chetna describes these gems very well:

Yes, everyone thought they come together beautifully….

And now that I shared a recipe and teased you with another one, let’s take a walk through
The Cardamon Trail: Chetna Bakes with Flavours of the East..

Chetna opens the book explaining that it is all about her culinary journey. It brings her food memories in the form of lovely bakes and new taste sensations. She grew up in Jabalpur, a city in central India, and her cooking is heavily influenced by her Mom, who cooked every single meal from scratch while Chetna was growing up.  Her book is divided in six  chapters, as follows:

Cakes. Each of the twenty cakes featured is enticing to me. Always some unexpected flavor that takes them to a higher level.  The very first one, Pear and Cardamon Caramel Upside Cake, already got me dreaming. You might remember that I have a very weak spot for cardamon, so obviously this cake speaks dearly to me.  Second one? Mango, Cardamon & Coconut Cake. Next? Rose and Honey Cake.  But so many more: Rose, Mint, and White Chocolate Cheesecake, Orange and Cinnamon Mini-Cakes (I almost picked them to showcase in this post).  Pistachio, Cardamon, and White Chocolate Cake… Saffron Meringue Cake…  Masala Chai Cake…. Black Sesame and Lime Cake… I tell you, it’s one temptation after another, a showcase of interesting flavor combinations.

Pies and Tarts. This chapter brings savory stuff to the game. I list my favorites: Peach, Star Anise, and Almond Tart…  Chocolate and Mango Tart (beautiful photo!)…  Passion Fruit, Lime, and Ginger Tart. On the savory front,  very creative recipes like Moong Dal Pie, Curry Onion Tart, and Chickpea Curry Pie. I definitely do not bake pies and tarts often enough. Hubby is usually the one in charge of those concoctions. But I need to get more practice and make them by myself.

Sweet Things. Twenty seven goodies for you there… She opens this chapter with something called Saffron Rasgulla, and I think it’s something I had once at a party and fell madly in love with. A little soft ball of curdled milk and saffron, cooked in a simple syrup. I could enjoy that every day of my life without ever getting tired of it. It seems a bit involved to make, but Chetna says it’s not that hard. It is a specialty from Western India.  Now, are you ready for this? Fig and Chocolate Macarons. Yes, my obsession of the past few years! She shares a great take on this French classic. Which of course, I intend to make in the near future. The only reason I did not pick them to feature, is the fact that I have two macaron recipes already waiting in line. The Rose, Cardamon & Coffee Dessert Slices come from this session of her book, as well as the Clove, Cinnamon and Chocolate Cookies, my teaser recipe.  I also bookmarked Sweet Baked Samosas (I am addicted to the savory version),  Mango and Passion Fruit Baked Yogurt, and Star Anise and Rhubarb Profiteroles. She does incredibly nice variations on classic desserts, I love it!

Savory Small Bites. A lot of savory things to tempt you here, I will just list the ones that would be my top choices. Corn Rolls: these are inspired again by one of her Mom’s recipes, Chetna uses phyllo dough to make little parcels with sweet corn kernels mixed with ginger, chilli, and other spices.  They get baked and served warm with chutney. O.M.G. Coriander Chicken Parcels made with puff pastry seem like perfection to me…  Tapioca Vada is another intriguing recipe, different from anything I’ve ever tried. Tapioca pearls are mixed with water to form a kind of dough that gets mixed with mashed potatoes, crushed roasted peanuts and spices. The mixture is fried until golden brown, forming little patties that I am sure are addictive.  I was also quite taken by her Buckwheat Potato Pakoras, I never skip ordering pakoras when I go to an Indian restaurant. Vegetarians will love her Cashew Nut and Paneer Koftas, which use desiccated coconut to improve texture.  But my favorite of this chapter might very well be her Savory Semolina Cake, with spinach and spices such as ginger, turmeric, and black mustard seeds. The photo is drool-inducing.

Breads. Twenty options to make any baker happy.  She opens the chapter with a show-stopping bread: Savory Potato Couronne. It is simply gorgeous, but you don’t have to take my word for it.

The dough is enriched with milk, eggs, and butter, then some grated boiled potatoes are mixed in. The exotic ingredient amchur (mango powder) is also included in the dough. Obviously, I need to get some. Tomato and Paneer Loaf is a nice example of a quick bread, made in a loaf pan. Another absolutely gorgeous picture included. Now, how about some Cumin Bread with Smoked Eggplant? I swear, it’s just one amazing twist after another. Another great temptation for yours truly, Chocolate and Chilli Loaf.  As Chetna put it:

This beautiful loaf has the indulgent feel of a cake yet is, in fact, very light…
The cocoa creates a deep-colored loaf, while the chilli provides a real kick to the aftertaste.

A couple more examples for you, Star Anise, Date, and Chocolate Bread (amazing shaping), and a Lemon Challah with Coconut Paneer. She closes the chapter with several options for Parathas, and a Chicken Naan. Yes, you read it correctly. A version of the quick bread naan, turned into a full meal with ground chicken and plenty of spices. To die for, I am sure!

Accompaniments. In this chapter, she offers little goodies that will go well with many of the recipes in the book. Seven types of chutney, two types of pickles (beets, and cauliflower), Indian Coleslaw, and three types of Raita, the classic cucumber, plus Boondi and Bhindi Raitas. Curious? Boondi are fried chickpeas… Imagine them as a base for raita… Bhindi is okra. Not my favorite veggie in the world, but I bet that prepared the way Chetna describes, I would eat it all with a big smile!

So that wraps up our walk through The Cardamon Trail.  In my mind, it is a perfect cookbook because I adore spices both in savory and sweet concoctions. As I watched the Great British Bake Off, Chetna’s confidence and creativity with the use of spices left a huge impression on me. This book simply confirms her skills. I could not wait to start baking once I got the book downloaded, but then was sort of paralyzed by the number of recipes I picked as “top” choices.

To order the book, click here

I would also like to mention that Chetna has a blog and is also very active uploading videos on her youtube channel.  On youtube you can see her cooking with her kids, with her Mom, it’s really nice!  I subscribe to both blog and videos, so I never miss anything new coming from her.

Chetna, thank you for giving me permission to publish one of your recipes…
I am just about to start a batch of your Black Sesame and Macha Tuiles…
looking forward to enjoying them!

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ONE YEAR AGO: When Side Dishes Steal the Show

TWO YEARS AGO: Venting on Vaccines

THREE YEARS AGO: Prime Rib Roast, Mexican Style

FOUR YEARS AGO: Sourdough Bread with Walnuts and Dates

FIVE YEARS AGO: Braised Brisket with Bourbon-Apricot Glaze

SIX YEARS AGO: The Real Vodka Sauce

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Pork Tenderloin and Blue Cheese

YOU PUT WHAT IN YOUR WHAT?

Criticizing is easy, it comes naturally to most of us, I guess.  I’ve done my share of criticizing The Food TV Network, going on and on about the good old times when their shows were actually about cooking, not endless competitions. One example: Cutthroat Kitchen.  I mean, here we have a guy like Alton Brown, who joined the network with the goal of showing home cooks the science behind food preparation, the tricks of developing a perfect recipe. Now, he hosts a show I find incredibly silly.  And I am not alone. Hummm, did I say I was done with criticism?  Sorry, I got carried away.  I am here to actually praise The Kitchen, a weekly show on FoodTV I enjoy quite a bit. One of the things I like is the sense of spontaneity behind it. Marcela Valladolid is charming, adorable, knowledgeable, and I am a huge fan of Geoffrey Zakarian. Jeff Mauro is witty, and seems like a very genuine person, the more I watch the show, the more I like him. They have features like Tool Takedown, interesting and fun. The whole idea is to test a gadget that is supposed to perform a specific task, say peel apples. One person will use it and another will grab a veggie peeler or a regular knife, and they compete to see who does it better and/or faster. For the most part, they demonstrate that single-use gadgets are a waste of money and storage space. I also love a feature called  “You Put What in your What?”. As the name indicates, it involves unusual additions to recipes, or crazy food combinations.  And that brings me to this post. I hope you’re ready for it.

banner

I know, it scared me too! But, please, don’t run away screaming.  These cookies are delightful, the pictures do absolutely no justice to them.  I baked them early in the morning while the kitchen was still dark and had to take pictures under very unforgiving lights.  You’ll need to make the dough at least 4 hours before baking, the day before is even better, so plan accordingly.  I found the recipe at the The Spice House website. Of course, being the spice cookie lover that I am, and reading the rave reviews of those who made them, I could not wait to bake a batch.

Curry Cardamon Cookies

CURRY CARDAMON COOKIES
(adapted from The Spice House website)

Yields approximately 6 dozen cookies

(I made half the recipe and got 30 cookies)

1 cup butter
2 cups brown sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons curry powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 cup walnuts, lightly toasted, chopped

Cream butter and sugar together. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until incorporated. Sift dry ingredients together. Add to creamed mixture, a third at a time. Stir in nuts.

Divide dough into four rolls and wrap each in waxed paper. Refrigerate at least 4 hours (may also be frozen).

Slice into ¼-inch slices and place on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven until golden brown, 12-14 minutes. Let cookies cool for 2 minutes on baking sheet, then remove to a rack to cool thoroughly.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

rolls
I often tell our students to read the protocol carefully before starting a new experiment. Sometimes it would be nice to listen to my own advice.  The bit of “refrigerate the dough for at least 4 hours” caught me unprepared. It was 9 pm and my intention was to bake them before going to sleep. Instead, I had to stick the dough in the fridge and resort to plan B: turn the oven on at 5:30am next day…    Oh, well…

They puff quite a bit while baking and release a fantastic aroma that will fill  your home with joy and tail-wagging dogs.

baking
Can you tell there is curry in them?  I doubt it. Actually Phil could, but I suspect he’s got a mass spectrometer in his nose, that man identify smells like nobody’s business. Our students thought they had ginger. I wish the pictures turned out better, but trust my words: these are GREAT cookies.  You know why I say that? I normally have one cookie of every batch I bake, no matter how tasty.  This was a FOUR COOKIE downfall.  I had four. One at home to make sure they were good enough to share, and the others during our lab meeting. They seem so harmless, but in my opinion they join all goodness a  cookie should have: sweetness that is not cloying, and a peppery, salty, addictive taste that mixed with the walnuts makes you go back for just one more. Maybe three.

cooling

This is another example of a cookie that will not win a beauty contest, I admit. But please, make them, share with friends, and dare them to guess the secret ingredient!

ONE YEAR AGO: In My Kitchen, March 2014

TWO YEARS AGO: The Blogger and the Shrink

THREE YEARS AGO: The Wheat-Berry Transmogrification

FOUR YEARS AGO: Curried Zucchini Soup

FIVE YEARS AGO: Roasted Onion and Asiago Cheese Miche

FAST, FRESH, AND GREEN

As you may remember, 2012 was another year that began with the regrettable, futile  decision to avoid buying any more cookbooks.  But, one of the curious things about New Year’s resolutions is that  you must overcome a certain barrier to break them. This situation is analogous to a biochemical paradigm, the   so-called  “energy of activation,”  to make a reaction go forward.  It’s that little kick an enzyme provides, by binding its substrate,  that causes a normally slow reaction to happen right away.   Two things boosted me  to buy  Fast, Fresh, and Green.  First,  Susie Middleton wrote it.  Having known her  for a long time as the editor of Fine Cooking, I expected a great book.   Then, I read reviews on amazon.com and THAT was the catalyst,  the activation energy, the end of my inner debate.   Reaction CATALYZED,  iTunes contacted, book delivered to My Preciousss  within 2 milliseconds!!  Below I share with you a recipe, a teaser, and my thoughts on the book.

THE RECIPE

VANILLA AND CARDAMON GLAZED ACORN SQUASH RINGS
(reprinted from Fast, Fresh, and Green, with permission from Susie Middleton)

1 small acorn squash (1 + 1/4 pounds maximum)
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
2 teaspoons maple syrup
1 + 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamon
kosher salt

Heat your oven to 475 F (or 245 C).  Line a large rimmed sheet pan with parchment paper.  Cut the acorn squase in half lengthwise. Scrape out the seeds and fibery stuff with a spoon. Place each half, with the cut side down on a cutting board, and slice a little less than an inch of both ends. Discard the ends. Slice the squash crosswise into 1/2 inch slices, and place them over the prepared baking sheet.

Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Remove the pan from the heat and add the maple syrup, vanilla, and cardamon. Stir well to combine. Use a brush to lightly brush the slices of squash with the a little less than half the amount of butter. Season lightly with salt and turn the slices over.  Brush the second side with the remaining melted butter, reserving some to brush at the end (optional). Season the second side with salt.

Roast the squash for 12 minutes. Carefully flip the pieces over, and roast until  nicely browned, 10 to 12 minutes more. If you want, brush with a little more butter before serving.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

I think I am becoming cardamon-obsessed. Cannot have enough of it. Love everything about it, particularly that intense smell that hits me when I first open the spice grinder… heaven!  In this recipe, the combination of maple, vanilla, and cardamon is outstanding and perfect with the acorn squash.  A keeper, and ready so quickly, you can make it for Thanksgiving dinner (as  Susie advised in the book) while the turkey rests after roasting.  Keep that in mind, Thanksgiving is already peeking at us.  😉

THE TEASER

MAHOGANY MUSHROOMS

Baby-bella mushrooms are sauteed in a simple sauce full of flavor and with a few unexpected twists…   They turn out with just the right amount of heat and a sweet and sour hint.  Perfect alongside many main dishes.  We had it with a T-bone steak.

THE REVIEW

Contrary to many cookbooks in which chapters ate divided either by season of the year, or ingredient, Susie Middleton went through a different route, sorting recipes by method of preparation.  I really like that.

The first and second chapters deal with general stuff: what you should have in your pantry as well as cooking equipment (half sheet pans are a must, according to her, and I could not agree more).   All other chapters are centered on cooking methods, as follows:

Quick Roasting: My favorite chapter of the book, as I love roasting veggies but usually my impatient nature prevents me from enjoying them too often.  The acorn squash rings featured in this post is an example found in this chapter.  Some other tempting dishes from the same group:  Quick-Roasted Cauliflower with Zesty Orange-Olive Dressing, Quick-Roasted Beet Slices, Sweet Potato “Mini-Fries” with Limey Dipping Sauce and Spiced Salt,  Caramelized Plum Tomatoes in an Olive Oil Bath, Roasted Turnips and Pears with Rosemary-Honey Drizzle.

Quick Braising:  I think quick braising and stir-frying are two of the most common techniques used in the home-kitchen, and in these categories Susie really shines.  All recipes come with some creative twist, an expected flavoring, or combination of ingredients that makes the most humble veggie take center stage. Some examples:   Quick-Braised Green Beans with Pomegranate-Balsamic Pan Sauce, Cider-Braised Baby Bok Choy and Golden Apples, Braised Carrots with Blood Orange-Fresh Tarragon Pan Sauce, Silky Braised Fennel in Pink Sauce (this will be my next recipe to try from the book).
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Hands-On Sauteing: These are recipes that require you to stay around the stovetop doing some baby-sitting, but they come together in lightning speed.  The teaser recipe, Mahogany Mushrooms, comes from this group. Other recipes on my list to try:   Corn Saute with Chile and Lime, Sauteed Carrots with Warm Olive and Mint Dressing, Sauteed Savoy Cabbage with Apple Cider Butter (oh, my…),   Brown Butter Summer Squash “Linguine”.

Walk-Away Sauteeing: As the name indicates, once you start cooking, there’s plenty of opportunity to do something else, work on a main dish, play fetch with your dog, or stare at the window admiring the arrival of the Fall.  Some tasty examples include:  Gingery Sweet Potato and Apple Saute with Toasted Almonds, Carmelized Green Beans and Sweet Onions, Sauteed Turnips with Ham and Molasses, Southwestern Butternut Squash Saute, Smoky Spanish Carrots and Fennel with Toasted Hazelnuts.

Two-Stepping:  includes recipes that call for boiling the vegetables and then continuing with another type of preparation, like sauteeing, or inclusion in a salad.   I absolutely MUST make the “Brown Butter Asparagus with Pine Nuts”  from this chapter.  But there’a a lot there to chose from.

No Cooking:  This whole chapter calls my name very loud.  😉  The Double-Lemon Ginger Carrot Salad will be showing up at our table very soon.  But wouldn’t you be happy with a serving or two of Heirloom Tomato, Summer Peach, and Fresh Herb Gazpacho Salad?   I thought so…  😉

Stir-Frying:  A collection of very tasty options for stir-fries, with additions such as black bean sauce and balsamic butter to make them special.

Grilling. Reading this chapter it occurred to me that I only grill two veggies: eggplant and zucchini.  If you are like me, Susie will definitely open your horizons to include mushrooms, asparagus, even potatoes.
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Baking Gratins:  This is the slow-cooking chapter that closes the book.  I don’t think any book on veggies would be complete without some gratins, the comfort food by default.  Some examples:  Mini-Potato Gratin,  Slow-Roasted Heirloom Tomato Gratin, Christmas Kale Gratin with Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Harvest Gratin of Butternut Squash, Corn, and Leeks.

My verdict: this is a wonderful cookbook, one that will change the way you view your side dishes, especially if you have a busy schedule.  I tend to have more problems figuring out what to cook as a side dish than anything else,  because we usually rotate a few main dishes during the week. There’s the roast chicken, the grilled salmon, the pork tenderloin, the chicken cutlets, the steaks.   But what to serve with them is the million dollar question.  This book helps answer that, big time!  😉

Susie, thanks for allowing me to share a recipe from your book!

ONE YEAR AGO: Speculaas

TWO YEARS AGO: Capital Sauce Pork Ribbons over Pot-Browned Noodles

THREE YEARS AGO: Pain a l’ancienne