Category Archives: Fall Recipes

Buckwheat the Hippie Way: recipe for buckwheat groats

hippie dinner 4The naked child is me in 1971.  The back of the photo says “flower child” in my mother’s handwriting.  That was probably the last time I was naked in public.  The other picture is of me and my mom making “seed paintings” in the One World Family commune I was born into.  The beads are from my mom, given to her by my dad (I think).  Pretty sure he brought them  back from India himself.

buckwheat 7I grew up eating this stuff.  My peers think they discovered eating whole grains.  Pshaw!  While you were all eating hamburger helper and white rice I was eating this healthy crap.

Being raised by a hippie mother left an indelible mark on my culinary palate.  While my peers are discovering the marvels of millet, raw foods, fasting, and sprouted everything, I have done my best to distance myself from these horrors from my childhood food legacy.  The best use I could come up with for millet, for example, was to pretend it was Kix cereal for my Barbies.  (Though I never got to taste Kix as a child, I knew it had to be less difficult and more pleasant to chew.)  In spite of growing up to dislike brown rice and raw tofu, my mother was a good cook and there are dishes she made that I have fond memories of.  One that I’ve been wanting to recreate is fluffy buckwheat groats with steamed vegetables served with butter and soy sauce.  It’s earthy humble food that is beloved by no one but hippies and Russians, though in Russia the buckwheat is more likely to be the bed upon which a huge roasted pig is served.

The last time I had a craving for this dish from my childhood I followed the directions on the (very expensive) package of buckwheat I bought.  The instructions said to bring the buckwheat groats and water to a boil and then simmer for 20 minutes.  Within five minutes of simmering it I had a pot full of buckwheat mush.  Not to be discouraged, two years later I’ve made a fresh attempt to recreate the buckwheat of happy memory.  This time I followed directions for making it the traditional Russian way.  I brought my buckwheat just to a boil and removed it from the stove and put it in the oven for an hour in a bean pot.  I’m not going to lie, the kitchen smelled wonderful while the groats cooked, but they didn’t look promising having the look of mush in progress.

When I removed them from the oven and fluffed them with a fork I realized that they were almost fluffy, which was encouraging, but when I tasted them they were bitter.  Bitter?  Frugality prevented me from throwing my experiment away.  I put it in the fridge for a day.  Sometimes magic things happen to leftovers, right?  The next day I put on some Simon and Garfunkel, got out my mom’s old Indian beads and, determined not to waste food, I heated up the buckwheat while steaming some broccoli.  I added butter and soy sauce and ate it.  I don’t know if it was the music and beads, or if taking a time out in the fridge sweetened the buckwheat, but suddenly I was taken way back to the good parts of being the child of a Hippie.  It was the perfect fare for an overcast winter day in Northern California.

Buckwheat the Hippie Way

4 to 6 servings, depending on how much pot you smoked

Buckwheat the Hippie Way

Ingredients

  • 2 cups toasted buckwheat groats
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 lbs broccoli, cut into florets
  • soy sauce

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350°
  2. Put Simon and Garfunkle's greatest hits on your stereo.
  3. Put your India beads on and don't shave.
  4. Put the buckwheat into a medium saucepan with the water, butter, and salt.
  5. Bring just to a boil, stir it, and then put it in a small baking dish.
  6. Bake groats for 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Hippies aren't specific people. Remove from oven when all the water is absorbed into the grains. If you're antsy for precision, go smoke a joint or have an orgy while you wait to calm you down like my parents did. Fluff grains with a fork.
  7. While the buckwheat is cooling down, steam the broccoli just until tender.
  8. Put a healthy serving of grains down on your plate and top with broccoli and drizzle with soy sauce.
  9. Now you're eating a piece of my authentic hippie childhood. Feel free to rebel, I know I did. But if you grew up with fare like this I promise that no matter how goth or urban chic or sophisticated your tastes become, you'll always come back to this earthy weird food.
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Rosemary Polenta Recipe

I have made this dish for over 20 years. I never had a recipe to start with. I was inspired to make this by the amazing bowl of rosemary polenta I once had at Kuletto’s Italian restaurant (on Powell Street in San Francisco) back when I was still a fashion design student. It is almost single-handedly responsible for making me get into the kitchen at a time when most of my friends and myself subsisted off of cheap diner food and boxed pasta. This is the perfect warm sustaining dish to eat on cold fall and winter nights. Served with a big pile of sauteed greens or a salad it is absolutely perfect. Obviously, for those of you who eat meat, it can be a great side to a meat dish as well.
Ingredients
  • Rosemary Polenta Recipe

    6 servings

    Rosemary Polenta Recipe

    Ingredients

    • 1 1/2 cups polenta (I use a fine grind)
    • 6 cups water
    • 3 Tbsp olive oil (or butter)
    • 1 Tbsp fresh rosemary, minced
    • 3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
    • 1 tsp salt
    • freshly ground pepper to taste
    • 1/2 cup Parmesan, grated (optional)

    Instructions

    1. Mix the polenta with 2 cups of the (cool) water.
    2. Bring the rest of the water to a boil, then turn down to low and add the polenta, whisking it as you pour it in.
    3. Add the rest of the ingredients, and mix well.
    4. Cook on low for 20 minutes (if you're using a coarse grind you'll need to cook it for at least 45).
    5. Serve hot in bowls.
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Potato Leek Soup Recipe

Potato leek soup is wholesome good cheap food.  It also happens to be easy and pretty fast to make.  Everyone has their version.  Most versions are ultimately the same.  Variations include whether or not you use butter, olive oil, or a combination of the two.  What type of potato you use and whether or not you put cream or milk in it are other variations.  Proportions of leeks to potatoes as well as thickness and choice of garnishes (if any) are just about the only other variations I can think of.

I didn’t plan on putting my version on this site until I started thinking about the price of food and how useful it is to show people what home cooking really costs.  It is ridiculous (but widely believed) that eating fast food is cheaper than eating home cooked food.  Obviously, if the food you’re cooking at home is lobster and steak all week, and if you garnish your food with gold, that might be true.  But then you have to compare eating at a pricey restaurant to your cooking.  Fast food is basic food.  There is nothing fancy (or healthy) about it.  It’s frozen beef patties, cheap cheese, out of season never really ripe vegetables, and the cheapest kind of bread imaginable.  Still, you generally pay $3 to $7 for those meals, right?  Can people really suppose that simple home cooking costs more per serving than fast food?

A while ago I priced out one of my favorite bean and vegetable soups to see what it cost me per serving to make.  The Tenement Stew was .53 cents per big bowl.  With some toast it is easily as filling as a flimsy fast food burger and regular order of fries.  Two slices of toast might add about .50 to your meal.  Plus a pat of butter would add .10 cents (or let’s be generous and say you need two whole pats of butter) so for one wholesome and filling meal of homemade soup and toast you spend $1.23.  That’s a cheap meal.  Considering how much better it is for you than fast food your money is going a lot further nutritionally.

I’ve  been seeing more food writers costing out their recipes and I really like that, I find it useful, especially for people who are just learning to cook from scratch.  It’s also great for making comparisons like these – to show people that if you want to eat fast food, that’s your business, but don’t say it’s because it’s cheaper than cooking from scratch.

Potato Leek Soup Recipe

Potato Leek Soup Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 leeks, sliced thin (the white and pale green parts)
  • 8 round potatoes, cut in half then sliced thin
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper

Instructions

  1. Heat olive oil in a soup pot and add the leeks. Saute the leeks for a few minutes by themselves, just until they are slightly browned. Add the potatoes and saute for a few more minutes. Add 2 quarts of water and bring to a boil.
  2. Add the salt and pepper. Turn heat down to medium and cook until the potatoes are falling apart (about 30 minutes). Take off the heat and puree with an immersion blender (or you can blend it in an actual blender).

Notes

In the past I used to add a little cream at the end to finish this off but I haven’t done that in ages. I love to eat this soup with buttered toast. I suggest, if you aren’t already a master with your own potato leek soup recipe, that you play around with the salt and pepper. It’s the only seasoning in this soup and it matters. Sometimes I use butter instead of olive oil, and sometimes I even use a combination but it’s always a quarter cup of whatever fat I’m using to saute.

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Dill Cabbage With Navy Beans Soup Recipe

I recommend you use dried beans.  You don’t have to.  But you should.  Why?  Because they’re cheaper than canned, because you should not be making your food in a hurry.  If you don’t like to be bothered, you can always make this in a crock pot.  Though I doubt it will all fit in one.  So don’t do that.  Really, bother with it.  This soup is so easy on the budget, so wonderfully healing and warming, and stirring soup over the stove for two hours settles nerves, makes you slow down, and if you like you can read a favorite book while you stir, or talk to your pets (or children).  Or read them your favorite book.  Unless your favorite book is Anna Karenina.  No one needs to read that when the fall hours grow dark, unless you have a pack of Galois cigarettes and bitter black coffee at your elbow.

This soup has everything you need in a meal if you can’t pull anything else together.  It isn’t heavy but it’s substantial enough to hold you up.  The cabbage cooks so long that it becomes unbelievably tender.  It’s excellent with some Parmesan and toast.

Dill Cabbage With Navy Beans Soup Recipe

Serves About A Million

Dill Cabbage With Navy Beans Soup Recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 3 carrots, sliced
  • 3 quarts water (or vegetable, beef, or chicken stock)
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
  • 5 med. potatoes of any variety, diced into 1/2? cubes
  • 1 cup navy beans (or 1 can prepared navy beans/northern beans)
  • 1 head of cabbage, cored and chopped to 1? size pieces
  • 2 tsp dried dill
  • 2 tsp salt
  • lots of freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. In a large soup pot warm the olive oil and add the onion and carrots. Saute them until they begin to brown a little.
  2. Add 3 quarts of water, bring to a boil.
  3. Add everything else. (If you’re using canned beans you can add these near the end).
  4. Cook for a really long time, stirring occasionally and making sure nothing sticks to the bottom. Keep your eye on the thickness of the soup, the water will cook down and you may need to add a little water from time to time. You want the soup to have some body so add water two cups at a time, as needed.
  5. This soup took two hours to cook. (If you use canned beans it will take only 45 minutes.) The soup is done when the beans are tender.

Notes

If you aren’t used to winging it with water quantities in soup then I think you should read my post about soup philosophy. It will help you. Soup is a flexible and incredibly personal dish. There is no soup recipe that can’t be altered to your personal tastes. All soup recipes are merely suggestions. Guidelines. Never be afraid to adjust it.

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Other great cabbage recipes to try:

Cabbage Garlic Soup For A Summer Cold

Russian Pot Pie Recipe

Tenement Stew (Cabbage Alphabet Soup Recipe)

pesto tomato tart

Tomato, Pesto, Ricotta Tart Recipe

Tomato season is over for us.  It’s been over for a couple of weeks.  I would be devastated but for the fact that I ate a couple hundred pounds of them while they were going strong and ended on a high note with my tomato tart experiments.  The last version, the one I’m going to share with you, I made for our friends who are moving out of state.  I needed to make something memorable enough that they’ll be inspired to come back and visit us.

It’s super easy unless you have to make your pesto from scratch, plus make your own ricotta (as I usually do), and then, of course, there’s the crust to make.  Wait!  Seriously, none of those things are difficult to make and if you’re not up to making them all yourself you can buy them pre-made.  If tomato season is already over for you too then you have two choices: bookmark this for next year or if you happen to have any sundried or oven roasted tomatoes in your freezer- you can top the tarts with those.  Whatever you do, don’t use hothouse tomatoes from the store.  Banish the thought!

Tomato, Pesto, Ricotta Tart Recipe

makes 6 individual tarts or one 9? tart

Tomato, Pesto, Ricotta Tart Recipe

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°. Cut the pie dough into six equal sized pieces. Roll out and fit into the tart pans. Put all the filled tins into the freezer for 20 minutes.
  2. Blend the ricotta with the pesto until completely incorporated.
  3. Remove the tart tins from the freezer and fill each one with the ricotta, dividing it evenly between them all. Smooth the surface of the ricotta out in each tin. Arrange three slices of tomatoes on the top and brush with olive oil.
  4. Arrange on a baking sheet (to catch any spillage) and bake for one hour (or until the crust is golden).

Notes

If you’re using a 9? tart tin, arrange the tomatoes slightly overlapping each other starting with the outer edge and work your way to the center in a spiral. You may notice the lack of additional salt or pepper in this recipe- that’s because pesto is usually already salted and peppered and it is enough for the whole dish. I did salt and pepper the tomatoes in one version but I didn’t think it added anything to the tarts. I freeze the dough before baking because it keeps it from shrinking down in the oven while baking. If you never have this issue and prefer to refrigerate before filling, as most recipes suggest, go ahead and do that. Many ricotta recipes call for an egg to help set it up but I find this is usually unnecessary. Sometimes when I make my own ricotta I add a little bit of milk when stirring it up because it gets a bit dry after draining off the whey, so if your ricotta is homemade, make sure it’s not dry- it’s going to cook for an hour which will dry it out more.

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Here’s how I layered my tomatoes for a full sized tart.

If your tomatoes are huge you may only want to put one slice on top, as I’ve done here.

Chimichurri Sauce Recipe

chimichurri sauce 2.jpgMost chimichurri sauce has either a little or a lot of parsley, many have cilantro in varying amounts, and a few even have oregano or other curious herbs.  This chimichurri sauce is the closest I could come to recreating one from memory that I had at a catered birthday party which then haunted me for weeks; it has more cilantro than parsley and no other green herbs.
 

This bright tart sauce is an excellent foil for beans and rice, which is how I like to eat it, but is most commonly used to accompany meat such as steak.  I plan to try it brush on grilled vegetables and as a marinade for tofu. 


Chimichurri Sauce

Ingredients:

1 cup cilantro, finely minced
1/4 cup parsley, finely minced
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 small red onion very finely diced  

Method:

Combine all ingredients in a jar or a dressing bottle and shake well.  That’s it. 

Alternatively you can make a slightly creamier version by using an immersion blender.  Blend everything but the onion together.  Once it has achieved a creamy texture add the onion and shake well before using to make sure the onion is evenly distributed.

 

Recipe notes:  don’t double this unless you think you can use it fairly quickly.  The pretty bright green will darken, as it has in my photograph, by the next day.  Fresh herb dressings are best used within a couple of days.  If you like things spicy you can add a tsp of crushed red pepper or a pinch of ground cayenne.

This recipe is gluten free only if your vinegar is specifically gluten free.
This recipe is vegan.

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Lemony Beet Salad

beet feta salad 2.jpgI was six the first time I remember eating a beet.  I pulled it up out of my mother’s garden and ate it standing right there in the back yard, dirt and all.  I have since decided that I like my vegetables washed before eating as the grit of soil fails to please, but my love of beets has never wavered.  I offer you my favorite way to eat them here.

Most people I know either roast or boil beets.  I think roasting is nice sometimes but I find that roasting makes a beet have a stiffer drier texture (even with plenty of olive oil) so that I don’t roast them often.  I never boil beets.  In fact, I never boil anything.  I always steam vegetables.  I steam because that’s what my mother always did.  She steamed because she believed more of a vegetable’s vitamins and minerals were retained using this method.  I don’t know if that’s true but whenever a recipe calls for boiling, I steam instead.
 

This beet salad recipe can be served plain or it can be served on a bed of lettuce with feta cheese.  You can use any kind of beets.  I used a combination of golden beets and dark red beets.  Because I cooked them together the golden beets turned red.

To peel or not to peel?  I only peel off the rough parts of beets.  Sometimes this means I peel the whole thing but often it means I just peel the tops.  The golden beets were mostly smooth skinned so you can see a lot of it was left on.  My mother influenced me in this matter just as she did with steaming.  She believed that peeling vegetables removed some important vitamins and minerals and should only be peeled if the skin is tough or compromised in some way.  You will find that I rarely suggest peeling vegetables in my recipes.  You can always peel if you prefer it.   

golden beets 2.jpgLemony Beet Salad
Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients:
8 medium sized beets, cut into 1/2″ to 3/4″ cubes
1/4 cup olive oil
Juice of one lemon
3 cloves garlic, finely minced or pressed
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper

To serve as shown in the picture:
(ingredients are per person)
2 cups lettuce
1 to 2 oz feta cheese
1 tbsp vinaigrette to dress lettuce

Method:

Fit a pot with a steamer basket, fill with water up to the basket (but not above), bring water to a boil.  (I have a steamer pot and prefer it to the baskets but either will do).  Add the cubed beats and steam for 15 minutes*, or until tender enough to pierce easily with a fork.

Meanwhile, in a medium sized bowl mix together the oil, lemon, garlic, salt and pepper.  When the beets are done steaming add them to the bowl and mix together with the dressing.  Toss it several times as the beets cool.

If you’re going to add the beets to a bed of lettuce, as shown in the picture, let the beets completely cool.  For each plate add two cups of lettuce tossed with a little vinaigrette, scoop about 3/4 cup of the lemony beets onto the bed of lettuce, and top with some crumbled or cubed feta cheese.

macro beet salad 2.jpg


Recipe notes:  If you’re vegan you can leave off the feta and this salad will still be amazing.  I like the salty punch of the feta and if you’d like to have that same punch without cheese you can add a few Kalamata olives to each salad.  Croutons are also good here, but if too many extras are added I think you lose the fresh lemon flavor, so I prefer to keep it simple.  If you have baby spinach on hand that would be a great substitute for the lettuce.  I had this salad with regular spinach and I have to report that it was too tough to be enjoyable.

This recipe is Gluten Free
This recipe is Vegan if you omit the feta cheese

*I timed the steaming and 15 minutes was perfect, however, if you cut your beets a little bigger than I did it may take a few extra minutes.

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Pasta with Cheese Sauce, Chanterelles, Caramelized Onions, and Spinach

chanterelle pasta 2.jpgI have been wanting to try chanterelle mushrooms for a long time but haven’t bought them because I promised my son I wouldn’t sell him to buy fancy groceries.  I live in a damp region which encourages a diverse and plentiful population of mushrooms and it’s my plan to learn to forage them.  Near the end of the season last year I found some old boletes and some decaying chanterelles which didn’t make me hungry.  I hope to do better this year.  In the meantime one of the local organic farms I buy  my produce from had some chanterelles (foraged by their friend- boy would I like to know their foraging spots) were being offered for a single dollar digit per pound and I had to splurge. 

I love wild mushrooms generally mixed with cultivated ones.  On their own they’re often too maneurish for my taste.  Chanterelles, it turns out, are very mild and don’t need to be toned down by tamer cousins.  Aside from their delicate flavor, they have other charms: they’re very pretty and when sliced thin length-wise they make sweet curling shapes that remind me of ancient handwritten letters.

I think you should know that I wash my mushrooms under water.  I am completely aware that this breaks precious culinary laws and I am unconcerned.  The water the mushrooms soak up in the process of being washed gets cooked off quickly and I’ve never noticed an increase of mushroom flavor when eating mushrooms that haven’t been mauled by the faucet.  I respect you if you like to brush them.  I suspect it gives one a greater connection to their worth and cost- to treat them like rare treats one might not get to eat again for a long time. 

I will continue to wash mine in water.

This recipe is rich.  I’m not going to apologize to anyone’s waistline for presenting it.  Treat yourself just this once and I think you won’t be apologizing to your waistline either. 

  

Ingredients:
6 servings for gluttonous individuals like myself
8 servings for modest portions

1/4 cup olive oil
2 medium yellow onions, sliced thin
10 ounces chanterelle mushrooms, sliced thin
1/2 lb fresh spinach, chopped
2 tbsp water

3 tbsp flour
3 tbsp salted butter
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 shakes of cayenne
3 cups of low fat milk, warmed
2 1/2 cups Emmentaler cheese, grated

1 lb angel-hair pasta

chanterelles sliced 2.jpgMethod:

Heat up the olive oil in a saute pan (on med/high heat) and add the onions to it.  As soon as the onions begin to brown a little turn the heat down to med/low and continue to saute them until they caramelize.  Be sure to stir them frequently to prevent burning them which makes them bitter.

When the onions are caramelized, add the chanterelles.  Let them cook for a few minutes and then add the spinach and the water and after you’ve stirred everything well, put the lid on the pan for a minute to encourage the spinach to completely wilt.  When the spinach is wilted, remove the pan from heat and set aside.

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil while making the cheese sauce, add the pasta to it as soon as it’s boiling.  I find that the pasta and the cheese sauce get done in about the same amount of time.

With the butter, flour, salt, pepper, and cayenne, make a light roux.  Whisk the warm milk into the roux and cook gently until it thickens.  Once thickened, remove the sauce from the heat and stir in the grated cheese.  Stir the cheese gently until it’s completely incorporated into the sauce. 

adding to the sauce 2.jpgAdd the chanterelle, onion, and spinach mixture into the cheese sauce.

Drain the pasta when it’s finished (test a piece for doneness).  Return it to the pot and pour the sauce over it.  I find the best way to blend the sauce into the pasta is with metal tongs. 

chanterelle cheese pasta 2.jpg

Serve it up!  I am a glutton for Parmesan but this pasta doesn’t actually need any extra cheese or garnishes.  I add the Parmesan anyway.

Recipe Notes:  If you can’t find Chanterelles any mushroom will be a good substitute.  If you’d like more iron to offset the richness of…everything else in the dish, I think you can safely double the amount of spinach without detracting from the other flavors because spinach has incredible shrinking power and even doubled will not amount to overdoing it. 

I’ve made this with sharp white cheddar which was fantastic; gouda would be good too though I prefer stronger sharper flavors.  If you want to coat your arteries just a little more, you can use whole milk or even some cream.  The reason I use low fat is because I like it best, not because it’s lower in fat.  I find the cheese adds plenty of creaminess here. 

You can also lower the cheese amount if you’re a fool.  (Just kidding!)  I usually only use two cups of cheese in my cheese sauces, I find it sufficient, the reason there’s more this time is because I had a half a cup left over and no plans for it.  I’m not sorry for the extra Emmentaler here, though I’m fatter this morning, I’m sure. 

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Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Roasting brussels sprouts brings out their sweetness and mellows their strong flavor.

The brussels sprout is a vegetable people love to hate.  It’s as pungent as a cabbage but comes in a small compact miniature head.  I suspect that many people have tasted only mistreated brussels sprouts or they would look forward to them every fall as I do.  Here is one of the simplest ways to prepare them and bring out their best side.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

serves 4-6

Ingredients:

3 lbs brussels sprouts

1/4 cup olive oil

coarse salt to taste

pepper to taste


Method:
 

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  Prepare the brussels sprouts by peeling away the top 2 to 4 leaves, depending on how dirty they are.  Clean them.  Cut away any surplus stems.  Slice large and medium-sized sprouts in half but leave the small ones whole. Put them in a roasting pan.  Drizzle with the olive oil.  Grind as much fresh pepper on them as you like and sprinkle as much salt as you like.  I generally use about a teaspoon and a half of coarse salt.  Turn them with a spatula until they are all coated.  Put them in the oven.

It will take about 20 to 25 minutes for them to roast.  You want to turn them every so often to prevent any of them from burning and to get more surface roasted.  When they are tender and browned they are done.

Serve hot.

Recipe Notes: How brown you like them is a matter of personal taste.  I like mine to get to a nice medium brown where the vegetable surfaces are starting to caramelize.  I don’t think they taste good being too dark and if they’re too light you miss out on the sweetness.  If you like a touch of heat you can sprinkle some crushed hot pepper onto them.  An alternative to using olive oil would be to use bacon fat which would compliment the flavor of the brussels sprouts well. All I want to suggest is to keep your variations simple because this dish doesn’t need much to shine.

Leek Strata

A strata is an Italian egg and bread casserole.  You can assemble this dish and refrigerate it over night, then cook in the morning which makes it a great dish for brunches.  This version makes use of seasonal leeks when you don’t feel like eating them in the tradition potato leek soup (though that’s something I look forward to every year!) or leek quiche.  I liked making the strata because I could make a dish as satisfying as a quiche but with wheat bread instead of a crust.

 

The cubed bread in the buttered baking dish.

The eggs mixture being poured over the bread.

Leek Strata

Ingredients:

3 slices whole wheat bread, cubed

7 large eggs

3 medium sized leeks, chopped fine

1 cup milk

8 ounces feta cheese (or chevre), crumbled

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 tsp dried thyme (or 2 tsp fresh thyme)

1/2 tsp salt

pepper to taste

1 Tbsp butter

Method:  Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Heat the olive oil in a large skillet on med/high heat and then add the leeks.  Saute them until they are soft.  Meanwhile butter a 3 quart casserole dish and fill the bottom with the cubed bread.

In a large mixing bowl whisk together the eggs, milk, thyme, salt, and pepper until will blended.  Add the crumbled feta and the leeks when the leeks have cooled down a bit.  Mix well and then pour over the bread cubes making sure you spread it out evenly.  Let the dish sit for about ten minutes to let the eggs and milk soak the bread.

Bake in the oven between 45 minutes to an hour*.  The sides should pull away slightly and be golden.

Recipe notes:  This is a very flexible dish.  You can make many substitutions such as chard and onions for the leeks.  You can use a sharp cheddar instead of feta or add Parmesan to it.  Keep the bread and the milk proportions the same and change out any of the other ingredients you like.

*Check it at 45 minutes, which is when mine was done, but some ovens cook hotter and some cooler so if it seems a little wet on the top still let it cook a little longer.  It should be moist inside but the top shouldn’t have a runny appearance.