My brave Vermont quest to bring together food-love and mom-life.


White Bean Salad with Steamed Greens and Roasted Summer Vegetables 9

Posted on August 01, 2009 by crankycheryl
july food blueberries pasta dinner 074

Sorry to put up such a fuzzy picture - it's the only one I took of this!

I was getting ready to make a warm salad to accompany the localvore pasta dinner, picturing some wilted greens, tomatoes, slivered garlic, and white beans.

Because it’s cheaper and you get better results using dried beans, I had gotten out my crockpot and cooked a pound and a half of them for a couple of hours on the “high” setting.

Then I steamed the greens, shocked them with a quick plunge in cold water, and chopped them fine.

Then a neighbor showed up with a basket of peppers, eggplant, zucchini, and yellow summer squash and asked if I could use those.  As the guest list kept growing and I was getting nervous about quantities, I gladly accepted.

I realized I had to do the easiest, quickest thing possible with these late-arriving friends.  Roasting was perfect.  Wash, chop into a large dice, toss with oil and salt & pepper, cook, and it’s ready to be tossed together, which was just what I did with all my prepped ingredients.

I hear that it was terrific.   Except for my check-for-seasoning nibble, I never got to have any.

White Bean Salad with Tomatoes, Steamed Greens and Roasted Summer Vegetables
8 – 10 servings

  • l lb. dried cannelini or great northern beans, cooked in a crockpot until just tender, or substitute 4 14-oz. canned beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 lbs. (a.k.a. “a whole mess of) greens of your choice (I used lacinata kale, rainbow chard, and beet greens)
  • 3 large tomatoes, diced
  • 2 large or 3 small eggplants
  • 4 zucchini and/or summer squash
  • 4 peppers (we had green bell pepper and Hungarian wax)
  • 6 cloves of garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
  • ~ 3/4 c. olive oil
  • 1/4 c. lemon juice (you could use your favorite vinegar instead)
  • ~ 1/4 c. fresh herbs – I used flatleaf parsley and basil, chopped
  • salt and pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 400.  Oil 2 baking sheets and set aside.
  2. Place the beans in a large bowl and set aside.
  3. Roast the eggplant, zucchini, squash and peppers by cleaning well, then dicing into a fairly large dice – like 1 1/2″.  Toss with a generous amount of olive oil – you want it glistening – and season with salt and pepper.  Spread in a single layer on baking sheets, and roast for 25 – 30 minutes, until tender and browned, turning halfway through cooking.  Remove from oven and let cool.
  4. Rinse the greens very well.  With the rainy season we’ve been having, they seem especially gritty/dirty this year.  My favorite method for chopping them is to place them inside the large colander-like insert for my pasta pot and go to town with a pair of kitchen scissors.  Then I give them a second plunge to remove any dirt I missed the first time.  Steam them for 3 or 4 minutes, until just wilted.  Have a large bowl of cold, cold water ready to place the colander in (or just dump them in if you don’t have one of these pots), then remove from water and drain very well.
  5. Place 2 T. olive oil in a small skillet and cook just to the point of fragrance (i.e., when you can smell a nice warm garlicky smell).  Remove from heat.
  6. Add greens to beans and mix well to break up any clumps.  Then mix in tomatoes, roasted vegetables, garlic and chopped herbs, using your hands or a wooden spoon.  Add in about 1/3 c. olive oil, lemon juice, and salt (start with about 1/2 t.) and pepper.  Taste for your preferences, adjusting as you go.
  7. Serve at room temperature.  A great meal on its own, maybe with some feta crumbled on top, and a slice or two of good bread.

Beet Gnocchi with Chevre Cream Sauce 2

Posted on July 28, 2009 by crankycheryl

Good Vermont goat cheese about to dive into cream sauce.

Thank you friends and foodies for all the nice thoughts about our dinner, and support for saving our beloved strip of trees!

Oh, I cooked for three days and sweated and calculated and worried, and in the end CrankyGreg and I produced a three course plated dinner for 41 neighbors, friends and well-wishers.

The only thing we ran out of must have been the best thing, it seems to me, and so that’s the recipe I’ll post first.  I was so excited to make this as part of the big feast, even though I had to buy (local) beets since the ones in the cohousing garden remain kind of puny.

Z. has a current love affair with all things pink and purple, and I had chosen this with him in mind.  He squealed adorably when I showed them to him while I was making them, and could barely keep his tiny little hands off the tray of magenta balls of goo.

If only it kept this color after cooking.

Beet gnocchi dough: if only it kept this color after cooking.

I know:  you don’t have any plans to slave stoveside with steaming pans or fuss with handmade pasta.  I agree with you.  But you should do it anyway because this is so darn good.

Beet Gnocchi
From The Recipe Files
Serves 6

  • 1 medium or two small red beets, washed
  • 1 pound ricotta, set in cheesecloth-lined colander set in a bowl and allowed to drain for a day
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 cup grated imported Parmesan cheese plus more for the table
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2/3 cups all-purpose flour plus more for dredging
  • Chevre cream sauce (recipe below)
  • 1/4 c. chopped parsley for serving

Place clean beets with their skins on inside a baking dish with a snug-fitting cover. Bake in 450 degree oven until tender, 45 minutes – 1 hour. Remove from oven, remove lid and let beets cool. Slip the skins off with your hands. Grate the beets into a mixing bowl on the large hole of a box grater. [I questioned grating rather than pureeing, but concluded that it may matter to have the extra structure that having shreds would provide.]  Add the ricotta, eggs, Parmesan cheese and salt and freshly ground black pepper to the beets. Mix well with a whisk or wooden spoon. Add 2/3 cup flour to the ricotta mixture and whisk together to mix. Set the mixture aside for a minimum of 2 hours in the refrigerator. Can be made up to two days ahead.

While the gnocchi dough is resting, go ahead and make the Chevre Cream Sauce.

  • 2 T. butter
  • 4 T. unbleached flour
  • 2 c. milk
  • 1 c. heavy cream
  • 6 oz. chevre, broken or sliced into 1″ pieces
  • 1/2 t. salt (or more to taste)
  • 1/4 t. nutmeg
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped fine
  • 1/2 t. smoked paprika

Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat, and then slowly and thoroughly whisk in the flour.  Cook for 3 minutes.  Whisk in the milk and cream, beating thoroughly after each addition to prevent lumps.  Bring to a slow but steady boil, then turn down and simmer for one minute or until thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon.  Remove from heat, and stir in goat cheese a little bit at a time.  Whisk, whisk, whisk until thoroughly melted and incorporated.  Add nutmeg, garlic and smoked paprika.  Place aside to keep warm while you form and cook the gnocchi.

Back to the gnocchi:  I’m writing in the instructions I followed for making them, but let me tell you that mine were really unattractive, like a platter of gizzards once cooked.  You surely are more dextrous than I am and will end up with something beautiful.  But just in case, here’s a link to alternate instructions for making them.

Our Dinner

Our Dinner

To form the gnochetti roll a walnut-sized piece of beet mixture into a nice [whatever] round. Drop it into the bowl of flour, carefully turning to coat all sides. Lay each dumpling on a parchment lined baking sheet lightly covered with flour. Continue forming the Gnochetti until all the mixture is gone.  Slip the gnocchi into a pot of gently simmering salted water [this is important since a big old energetic rolling boil can bubble your poor little dumpling to smithereens]. Wait until they float to the surface of the water and continue to cook for an additional minute. Using a slotted spoon, remove them from the water as they are done and place them on a serving platter.

When all are cooked and are on the platter top with the cream sauce and parsley and serve.

Salad! Flowers! Mwa Ha Ha Ha! 5

Posted on June 11, 2009 by crankycheryl

[6/13/09 Update:  Check out this picture and much more frightfully gorgeous food at Photograzing!]

crazy-hair-and-evil-salad-021So one spring day you’re in your kid’s class during their free choice time, and his friend sits down and starts drawing.  He wants to draw you, he says, and before you know it there you are in a field of grass with the black t-shirt and shorts he had you add in.

Then he puts stripes on your shorts and you ask, “”Dude!  What am I, like a bee?”  And then he’s giggling madly and drawing wings and a stinger on your behind and antennae on your head.  And then he draws flowers and you ask what kind they are and his eyes get big and sincere and he spurts out, “EVIL SORCERER FLOWERS!”  You gasp and he’s giggling again, and you ask if you can bring the picture with you.

And then later you update your Facebook status so it says, “Cheryl says things can’t be all bad if your son’s 6-year-old friend draws you as a bee-girl in a field of Evil Sorcerer flowers.”  Then a food-writer friend you really respect tells you that you owe it to the bees to post a honey recipe.  And then you realize that your CSA share is about to start, and after you pick up your greens and cheese and bread, you go home and make something like this.

Evil Sorcerer Salad with Bee-Girl Dressing

Per diner:

  • 3 cups of spicy greens (arugula, mustards and the like), cleaned
  • 2 strawberries, cut into the shape of broken hearts
  • 1 slice of a nice seedy bread, lightly toasted
  • 2 smallish slices of a brie-type cheese (if you’re local or have access to Vermont cheeses, try Does’ Leap Caprella and gleefully eat whatever isn’t destined to go on someone’s salad)
  • A sprinkle of chipotle powder
  • A handful of edible flowers like pansies and nasturtiums.  Make sure they’re organic, and really try to include the nasturtiums, which are spicy, and therefore more nefarious.

Bee-Girl Dressing (enough for 4 diners):

  • 2 T. honey
  • 1 t. hot sauce (I used Sriracha)
  • 1 T. apple cider vinegar
  • 4 T. olive oil
  • 1/8 t. (a.k.a. “just a little bit”) kosher salt

Whisk together dressing ingredients and set aside.  Put cheese on bread, sprinkle with chipotle, and then toast just until warm and melty.  Toss greens with dressing and then put onto plate.  Cut bread/cheese into triangles and place on top of salad, with broken-hearted strawberries in the middle.  Arrange evil sorcerer flowers according to your dastardly plan and serve.  Your own villainous chuckle wouldn’t hurt.


April CoHousing Meal 0

Posted on April 06, 2009 by crankycheryl

april-coho-005I love when I walk through the community kitchen here at Burlington CoHousing and see someone wearing the brightly striped apron I brought up there when we moved in.  (Realizing I didn’t need to actually own three aprons.)  Or how my little rusty red wagon was missing yesterday when I came home because a neighbor had it up the path, clearing the dry grey sticks from the herb plants growing in our rock wall, letting the new green shoots of sage and thyme out into the light.

We live close together here, each with our own homes, but connected to each other.  At any given moment when I look out a window, I see Charles walking down the path with power tools or a wheelbarrow, heading for the barn.  Or members of the Garden Committee heading off to mark plots and build terraces.  Or Sharyl and Peter and their black and white dog Ocsy going for a walk in the woods.   Visitors, neighbors bringing their compost to the pile, young, old, fast and slow, all humming along together.

With all my busyness, I can’t do as much around here as I one day will.  But for now, I can share wagons and aprons, and when my turn comes, I can offer delicious food that any neighbor could enjoy.  Today’s dinner is my latest attempt to do that.

Feniger, of Too Hot Tamales fame, returned to India for a visit with a friend, and came home with wonderful recipes.  I’m sure this trip is one of the inspirations for her new restaurant, which I’d love to get myself to.

  • 2/3 c. yellow split peas
  • 1 2/3 c. basmati rice
  • 3 T. ghee, or vegetable oil
  • 1/2 t. cumin seeds
  • 1/4 c. chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 t. Garam Masala
  • 1/2 t. turmeric
  • 3 to 4 c. water
  • Salt

Soak the peas and rice separately in enough water to cover amply – the peas for 3 hours and the rice for 1 hour.  Drain.

Heat the ghee or oil over medium-high heat in a heavy skillet or saucepan large enough to accommodate the rice and peas.  Add the cumin and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Add the peas and rice and stir to coat with the ghee/oil, then add the cilantro, garam masala, turmeric, 3 cups water and 1 t. salt.  Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer, partially covered, until the peas and rice are soft and the liquid has been absorbed, 18 to 20 minutes.  If necessary, add more water in 1/2-c. increments.  Turn off the heat and let stand for 10 minutes to steam.

    While peas and rice are cooking, make the onion relish:

    • 1 white onion, quartered and very thinly sliced
    • 1/2 t. salt
    • Juice of 1/2 lemon
    • 1/2 t. paprika
    • 1/2 t. cayenne
    • 2 T. chopped cilantro

    Toss all ingredients together, and serve on the side with rice and peas.

    Blueberry-Mango-Maple Sorbet

    april-coho-007Yummy!  The thing to remember with frozen stuff is that sugar and fat are what keep your treats from freezing into solid blocks of ice – so when you start getting kooky and inventing your own flavors, make sure you’ve got sufficient fat (cream, coconut cream, tofu) and/or sugar (honey, maple, even – gasp! – corn syrup if you’re inclined).  If I hadn’t already been putting coconut in the main course, I would have used coconut cream in this.  But I wanted to keep it dairy and soy free, and I didn’t want to repeat a flavor, so I added a bit more maple than I otherwise might have.

    • 2 14-oz. cans chopped mango
    • 1 c. rice milk
    • 1 lbs. frozen blueberries
    • 1 1/2 c. maple syrup

    Blend all together, in batches if necessary, until smooth, and then freeze in ice cream maker according to its instructions

    CoHousing Pizzoccheri, or "Mommy, What's That Awful Smell" 2

    Posted on February 24, 2009 by crankycheryl

    feb-09-032Just before New Year’s, Mark Bittman posted Pizzoccheri, a rustic pasta, cheese, cabbage and potato casserole in his column.  I’ve been ready to make it for one of our co-housing common meals since then, and at last had a chance to a couple of weeks ago.

    I basically followed the recipe, and have just a couple of notes to share:

    • Perhaps unsurprisingly, I couldn’t find buckwheat pasta, and so used whole wheat egg noodles, which seemed the closest to the right shape and texture.  Except for a gluten-free version for which I used a quinoa pasta.
    • We shredded the napa cabbage too fine, and it probably would have been better coarser … but cooking for 35 sometimes necessitates going for the easiest prep (i.e. the Cuisinart instead of a chef’s knife to dismantle 5 heads of cabbage).
    • After a long and funny discussion with the guy at the cheese counter at our downtown store, I decided to not skimp on the cheese.  $55 worth of Italian fontina later, I was having heart palpitations as I calculated the meal’s cost – but was pretty glad for having done so when I tasted the finished product.
    • Because the dish was rich, rustic and expensive (what with the $55 worth of Fontina and all), I wanted to keep the rest of the meal simple.  We served a romaine salad with fennel, orange, and a lemon dressing on the side, and a mango gelatin (including a vegetarian one) with blood orange marmalade swirled into it for dessert.  Both worked well.
    • The monkeyboys had a 50% acceptance rate on the pasta, 0% on the salad, and 100% on the gelatin.  Just wait until they find out where gelatin comes from …

    Healthy, Home-made, Vegetarian, Indian 2

    Posted on February 22, 2009 by crankycheryl

    tandoori-spicesFriends had us over for dinner and a movie last night.  The food was so fresh and spicy and healthy that I had to ask Sara to share the recipes.

    Balti-Style Cauliflower with Tomatoes

    (But Sara cautions, “The water really needs to be eyeballed, because 6 ounces was way too much and I had to drain it, losing some of the seasoning.)

    Tandoori Sweet Potatoes and Rice

    An Also Ran: Pan-Seared Salmon Recipe 0

    Posted on January 25, 2009 by crankycheryl

    recipe-contest-001So I was finally getting to some old mail and found a big catalog-sized envelope.  I opened it and found a Taste of Home Holiday Healthy Cooking magazine, and a note thanking me for my recipe submission and telling me that it was published on page 51.  (And that I could buy additional copies for $2.  Thanks.)

    I barely remember sending it in, but it really is one of my treasured recipes.  Years ago, my ex and I had the best pan-seared salmon at Martin House in Provincetown.  (A side note: Martin House used to be the best place in P’town – cozy, open year-round, creative, well-conceived and well-prepared.  I am so sad to read on Chowhound and other sites that it’s slipped and maybe been sold.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed that they’ll find their way back to excellence by the time I make it back to the Cape.)

    After we were back from that long-ago vacation, I set to work re-creating the dish, and came up with this.  It was an instant family favorite, and stayed in heavy rotation for a long time.  These days, I’m pretty conflicted about eating salmon like I used to.  I’m ducking as I say this, but I love the taste of the farm-raised Atlantic stuff.  It’s fatty and forgiving to cook and doesn’t have too strong a flavor for the fish-phobic at heart (not me!).  I really want to like the wild-caught Alaskan, but I just don’t.  And since I don’t want to feed my family the toxic PCB-laden fish o’ death, we don’t eat much salmon these days.  (How do you deal with this?  Please let me know!)

    Anyway, for the brave-at-heart:  I’ve re-modified to make it more like the original recipe.  Apparently, Taste of Home found mine a little more complex than they like, but really – my way is better.  Starting the salmon on the stove top and then finishing it in the oven gives it a nice crust and great appearance, while also keeping it moist by getting it on a lower heat that doesn’t dry it out.  ToH does it all on the stove-top, 4 – 6 minutes per side.  Go ahead and do it that way if you want, but it won’t be as good.

    Also, I don’t think I would have done carrots just with butter & parsley.  Though I do love to just have the steamed baby organic carrots as a quick, easy vegetable (as if I could get them into my children), we could do something just as easy but a tiny bit more interesting.  Maybe a splash of olive oil, a dash of butter, a sprinkle of salt, and a smidgen of dried orange peel and cayenne?

    Reprinted and adapted from Taste of Home Healthy Cooking, December/January 2009

    3 c. fresh baby carrots
    1 c. instant brown rice
    1 c. reduced-sodium chichen broth
    1/4 t. pepper, divided
    3 t. chili powder (I especially like this with green chile powder that I got in Santa Fe a few years back, but it’s really hard to find)
    1/2 t. salt
    4 salmon fillets (4 oz. each)
    2 t. olive oil
    1 T. minced fresh parsley
    1 t. butter

    • Heat oven to 350.
    • Place carrots in a steamer basket; place in a small saucepan over 1″ of water.  Bring to a boil, then cover and steam for 12 minutes or until crisp-tender.
    • Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, bring the rice, broth, and 1/8 t. teaspoon pepper to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 5 minutes.
    • Combine salt and chili powder, and rub over salmon.  Heat the olive oil in a large skillet until rippling.  Carefully place salmon, skin-side up, let cook for 3 minutes, and then flip and cook for additional 2 minutes.
    • Place salmon into pre-heated oven, and cook for 10 minutes per inch of thickness (reduce the time if it’s less than an inch, increase if it’s more).
    • Remove rice from the heat, let stand for 5 minutes.  Fluff with a fork.  Combine carrots, parsley, butter and remaining pepper in a bowl.  Serve with salmon and rice.
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      Cheryl Herrick's brave Vermont quest to bring together food-love and mom-life. All original content (written, graphical, recipes or other), unless otherwise noted, is © and/or TM Cheryl Herrick. All rights reserved by the author. Want to reprint a recipe? Just get in touch and ask.

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