Sweet Glazed Sweet Potatos

A little maple syrup goes a long way. Especially since Best Yet market has a 37 cents a pound sweet potato sale! I think I feel a side dish coming on. Please Please Please, support ‘real’ agriculture and purchase only real maple syrup, not the chemical concoction called breakfast syrup…. One, because its healthier and more natural, and secondly, because the chemical one often turns too runny when cooking with it.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 2   pounds sweet potatoes (4 to 6 medium)
  • 1/3  cup pure maple syrup
  • 2  tablespoons cooking oil
  • 1/2  teaspoon salt
  • 1/2  teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2  cup cranberries

Peel and cut the sweet potatoes into 1- to 1-1/2-inch chunks. In a large bowl combine the maple syrup, oil, salt, and pepper; add sweet potatoes and cranberries. Toss to coat. Transfer mixture to a 3-quart baking dish, spreading mixture evenly.

Bake, uncovered, in a 400 degree F oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until potatoes are glazed and tender, stirring twice. Makes 8 servings.

As an added option, you can topped with chopped pecans.

sweet sweet potatos

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Butternut Squash with Red Onion

Butternut squash is one of those things that is practically indestructible in the pantry and seem to be plentiful in the fall. Cherry Valley market had a good price on these the other day so I picked one up with a nice couple of red onions and decided to get these two together on an date so to speak.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 medium butternut squash cut into ½ inch dice
  • 1 small red onion sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic sliced
  • About 10 dates diced
  • ¼ cup Duck Walk white
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh chives
  • Sea salt

Melt the butter in a large sauté pan over high heat. Add the squash and brown it. Add the onions and garlic, cook till the onions are soft. Add the dates and deglaze with the wine. Cook this down till the liquid evaporates. Mix in the chives and remove from the heat. Serve! Preferable with a stripped sea bass:

BUTTERNUT SQUASH

Swiss Cheesy Mashed Spuds

Stop me if you’ve heard this one already… I may be repeating myself. These days I’m not so sure, but I did find a good price on Swiss cheese at Best Yet Market, they’re having their crazy 88 sale. So, as I have some potatoes here hat as starting to soften, I figured I would make some Swiss cheesy mash potatoes to accompany the pork chops Best had on sale (three buck for two nicely sized chops).  The chops were simply sprinkled with a little salt and pepper and broiled. The ‘fancy’ part of our dinner was the potatoes, the pickled beets part of the dinner came straight from the jar, but that’s just between us.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Six medium Long Island potatoes
  • ½ stick of butter
  • ¼ cup milk
  • ½ cup shredded Swiss cheese
  • ½ cup chopped chives

Start by peeling and quartering the potatoes, toss then in a pot with some salt and some water and boil them up. Let them boil about fifteen minutes and then sit for five to really soften them up. In a large mixing bowl add the butter, cubed, and the milk. Add in the drained potatoes and start mashing… working the cheese in a little at a time so it melts into the mixture. Once that’s accomplished, add the chives and mix well… transfer this into a serving bowl and get it to the table.

cute-mouse

A Sweet, Simple Vermont Vinaigrette

Straight from the cozy country cottages of Vermont, this simple sweet salad dressing uses two secret ingredients… maple syrup, but I guess that’s no surprise, and malt vinegar. Malt vinegar is made by malting barley, causing the starch in the grain to turn to maltose. An ale is then brewed from the maltose and allowed to turn into vinegar, which is then aged. I find the malt vinegar to be not as tart and biting as the wine vinegars, and with a slightly smoky character.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 table spoons malt vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon dark maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Combine all the ingredients into a shaking bottle and shake away. Then, shake some on your salad! Same as last time…

A Simple, Sweet, Asian Dressing

We’re continuing to dress for spring, as its right around the corner. This is an Asian styled dressing which combines the acid of rice vinegar and the acidity of soy sauce to the oil. The rice vinegar is very light in flavor so it’s really used here to cut down on the very potent flavor of the soy sauce. If you went with a straight thee to one of oil to soy the results would be ‘not so good’. With a little ginger, honey, and garlic for emulsification, the flavors combine nicely into a basic Asian sauce.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon minced ginger
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic

Combine all the ingredients into a shaking bottle and shake away. Then, shake some on your salad! Same as last time…

A Simple, Sweet Citrus Dressing

We’re dressing for spring, as its right around the corner. This is a light lemon dressing with a hint of orange that shows you don’t need vinegar for good dressing. The basic dressing formula s usually a three to one ration of oil to acid. The oil can be just about any oil you like, and the acid part can be too. But usually what gets overlooked in the oil / acid ratio is the fact that they usually don’t combine easily. So, what can you do to get oil and acidic water to mix? Emulsify! That’s where these other flavor compounds come into play. Whether its salt, sugar, or Dijon mustard, you need to have a good deal of fine grains in your dressing to emulsify the solution long enough to transport the dressing from the bottle to the salad. In this dressing, brown sugar, orange peel, and honey work to keep the oil and acid together.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon orange blossom honey
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange peel
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Combine all the ingredients into a shaking bottle and shake away. Then, shake some on your salad! Same as last time…

A Simple, Sweet Balsamic Vinaigrette

Not for something different, simple dressings for salads, and a word or two about balsamic vinegar or ‘aceto balsamico’ to sound classy.

Surprise! The real balsamic vinegar isn’t a vinegar at all. True vinegar is acetic acid and water, the result of the fermentation of ethanol by acetic acid bacteria in various liquids which contain the simple sugars such as wine, cider, rice liquid. Which is where we get the express that vinegar is a good wine gone bad. But true Balsamic vinegar, the outrageously expensive bottle, isn’t the result of any fermentation, but is reduction of cooked white  Tebbiano grape juice. The Balsamic in my pantry is actually red wine vinegar with caramel color and ‘additives’ to make it an awful lot like the expensive one.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons dark brown sugar, optional
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup olive oil

    Combine all the ingredients into a shaking bottle and shake away. Then, shake some on your salad!

Stewed Mushroom Side dish

The rich meaty flavor of mushrooms make them one of the most popular side dishes with most cuts of steak. Although I prefer to use the white mushrooms for this side dish, you could choose to use the meatier portabello.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 pound or so mixed mushrooms
  • 1/2 stick Butter
  • 2 onions, peeled and sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bunch fresh thyme, chopped, or 1 Tablespoon of dried
  • a sprinkle or two sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • a splash or two of Duck Walk red wine
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

Trim the mushrooms as needed, removing any tough stems. Cut the larger mushrooms into smaller pieces. Smaller mushrooms may be left whole or simply halved to show off their form. Rinse all the mushrooms well and roll them in a paper towel to dry them off.
Preheat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the butter, onions and garlic. Sauté until the onions just begin to turn golden brown. Add the mushrooms and continue. In a few minutes the mushrooms will release quite a bit of moisture and become a bit soupy.
Add the thyme and salt and pepper. Continue cooking until the mushrooms are tender and most of the moisture has evaporated, concentrating the flavor. Add a splash of wine and the cream. Continue simmering until the sauce has thickened once again. Stir in the green onions.

mushroom

Red Cabbage with Kielbasa

This is a really flavorful side dish that seems to be a winter staple around my table. The side dish of red cabbage is usually just that, pickled red cabbage and sometimes a little seasoning,  simple and straight forward, vegan friendly even. But, I sometimes take a different tack, carnivore’s red cabbage. Some times its bacon, some times its ham… today, its polish kielbasa bringing meat to the side.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 medium head of red cabbage
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 cup of diced kielbasa
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup red wine vinegar
  • ¼ tsp ground clove

Cut red cabbage into quarters and cut out the core and slice thin. Peel onion, cut in half and slice thin. In a dutch oven, begin browning the kielbasa. Then add the onions, cook for 2-3 minutes and add the red cabbage; braise the cabbage until just tender 3-5 minutes. Season with kosher salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste. Add ground cloves, brown sugar, and vinegar. Cover and simmer until the cabbage is cooked and tender— do not boil or overcook.  Cooking time is about 30 minutes low and slow to let the flavors really meld.

braised-red-cabbage2

Kindey Beans!

Minestrone Soup, there’s something about this soup that makes me think of fall. Its probably tat the beans have to cook all day long and that heats up the house pretty well. As it turns out, I have this big badg of kidney beans and I was tinking to myself… hmm… that’s a whole lot of beans. And then I thought, why not make a soup. This way I can use up some of those beans while thinking of what to do with the rest of them… hmm perhaps chili? But, in any case, let’s make some soup.

 

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 3 cups reduced-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups of cooked all freakin day long kidney beans
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried sage
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • 2 cups cooked pasta, (my friend and dinner guest likes the elbows, so elbows it is)
  • 1 medium zucchini, chopped
  • 4 tablespoons grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
  • Basil sprigs, garnish, optional

 

Toss the onion, carrots, celery, and the broth in a soup pot with the thyme, sage, bay leaves, pepper, and salt. Heat under a low flame until the vegetables are al dente. Then, toss in the zucchini. Let this cook a few minutes, then toss in the previously cooked kidney beans and pasta. Grate the cheese into the soup and let this cook a few minutes. Then, serve this up with nice chunks of garlic bread and ward off the vampires.