Eat your Roasted Root Veggies!

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Hey Katt! Wanted to show you my roasted root veggies… I know this is not a very economical dish since the roots have to roast in the oven at 375 for 45 min-one hour. However, it is sure a delicious treat, sweet, starchy and seasonal. I have cooked it a couple of different ways in the past few weeks – once with some couscous on the side and another time with some pumpkin ravioli. Whether a main dish, side dish, or components of a soup this root veggie medley is a great way to cleanse that liver and bowl (appetizing, I know). Anyway, this is a good thing for growing baby!

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I used a combination of carrot, parsnip, tri color potato, beets, onions, and garlic cloves. I drizzled them with good olive oil (so everything glistens) dashed some salt (with iodine – good for you!) added a few chunks of butter and stirred them regularly in a 375 degree oven till crispy.

Make enough and you have left overs for a few days that can compliment mostly anything! xo

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Top Three Food Films

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Babette’s Feast (Babettes Gaestebud)

This Danish film is minimal in dialog and maximal in sensory rich details. The ‘textures’ of each perfect scene draws me intimately into the story and builds my anticipation for culinary love. By the time the cast sits for Babette’s brilliantly crafted cuisine, I am sharing in every dinner guest’s bite, sip and whiff. I am applauding with a wonderfully repressed hunger the fragrances of the next dish to come parading out from the rustic French kitchen, and I am savoring the fine liquors, wines and sauces that lavishly accent and finish each course.

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Like Water for Chocolate

This is magical realism film situated in Mexico. Each dish prepared is symbolically tied to the Protagonist’s life, so you can image much of the story takes place in the kitchen or around food. Like Babette’s Feast the motivation for the food is love, or shall I say in this film’s case, lust. The crescendo of the story is a feast of unspoken desires, made tangible by tasty and beautiful dish of Quail in Rose-Petal Sauce. I discovered this recreation on a blog called “Cooking with the Movies”. It looks so similar to the one in the film. Yum!

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The Scent of Green Papaya

This love story is staged in Vietnam between the late 1940s and early 1960s, and is seen through the eyes of a young woman who is taken as a servant into a merchant family’s home. This film is so controlled and serene, I can’t help but feel completely immersed in the sensory-scape, so precise and deliberate. These characteristics of the film make the presence of traditional ingredients and cuisine so memorable. Every grain of rice and every blink of the protagonist’s eye is accounted for. The film inspires a way of collecting, preparing, and consuming, as much as a curiosity about the simplicity and order of eating in that time and place. Beautiful!

Tom Kha Gai – Thai Coconut Soup

It’s soup season again. I’m hoping to perfect making large pots of warming soups and stews with crusty homemade breads from scratch in the months ahead as it turns colder. I’m quite proud of this Thai soup I made last night that tasted authentic to my memory of savoring it at an excellent Baltimore Thai restaurant.

I got the idea to make this while shopping an Asian/International grocery store. I find these markets to have so much greater a variety of produce at reasonable prices. I get excited and dumbfounded by all the exotic and unfamiliar foods I have yet to try here.

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It was the lemongrass stalks that grabbed me with their fragrance. I’ve bought them for juicing before but had never actually cooked with them. They are very fibrous and stringy and can be eaten if sliced up very thinly and cooked down, but really it’s preferable to chop them into large chunks, bend/crush them slightly (like a clove of garlic) to let them release their flavor, then remove them before serving.

thai coconut soup

Ingredients:

1 box of chicken broth (4 cups)
2 cans of coconut milk
1″ of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
2 stalks of lemon grass, chopped in 2 inch pieces
Juice of 2 limes (1/4 cup)
3 Tbsp fish sauce
1 Tbsp Agave syrup
1 small green Thai pepper, deseeded and finely diced
Dashes of Tobasco green pepper sauce (used as a substitute for Chili Garlic sauce)
2 thin chicken breasts sliced into pieces
1 lb. of shrimp
handful of mushrooms, sliced
1 vine ripened tomato diced
chopped cilantro for garnish

  • Pour chicken broth into a sauce pot over medium high heat an bringing to a simmer.
  • Grate in a 1″ piece of peeled ginger into the pot.
  • Cut the lemongrass stalks into 2″ pieces and bend it slightly to unlock the flavor. If you have a tea diffuser ball or herb sachet you could let it brew in the broth and remove it when ready to serve, as it’s not pleasant to eat unless chopped very finely and boiled down.
  • Stir in fish sauce, lime juice, pepper/tobasco and agave to broth. Simmer at a low boil for about 5 minutes. The ingredients in this soup don’t need to cook long. Much of the cook time is to marry the flavors of the broth.
  • Add the remaining ingredients.. chicken, mushrooms, shrimp, tomato allowing meat to cook, another 5 minutes.
  • Remove lemongrass stalks from soup, ladle into bowls and top with chopped cilantro.

The magical paw paw

So you’ve been out here many times, but you may not have noticed before how many paw paw trees we have growing in these woods. It is a native understory tree that Southeastern Ohioans celebrate each year around this time with the paw paw festival. There never seems to be an end to how many things you can do with a paw paw. This northern most growing variety of the banana family is starchy and tastes kind of like a mango.

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Duane brought a bucket of them in from a hike – we removed the seeds, which were plenty, and put the pulp into freezer bags for later use.

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At some point I will make a bread out of this fruit..so stay tuned. Here is the poster from this years festival. Unfortunately we missed it this time, but it has grown in popularity over the years. You could say that people in this region have paw paw pride.

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Ham & Cheese Crescents

Wow Lori, those pasta dishes look super comforting and satisfying. I will have to try replicating some of these dishes for you when I visit and your recuperating with the baby.

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Here’s a simple lunchtime snack I made with ingredients I had on hand the other day while Chris was working on fixing the finicky boat heater and had tools spread out in close quarters. I made this with minimum fuss and it warmed the boat up with the oven baking.

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Turn on the oven and pop open a roll of crescent rolls and unroll the dough. It’s an easy dough to keep on hand and can be stuffed with any type of filling  you can imagine. Breakfast crescents could be ham or bacon, egg and cheese. I’ve made empanadas with them before using ground turkey, olives and spices that were bomb. I’ll have to do those again…

In a bowl I mixed together two mustards, one a zesty honey mustard and the other a dijon mustard, with a spoonful of horseradish. I spread the condiment mixture on the triangles and topped them with sliced precooked Honey Ham and cheddar cheese.

Rolled them up from the wide end of the triangle to the pointy end as tidy as I could and placed them on a foil lined baking tray for easy clean up. They were ready in 15 minutes. I smelled when they were done as the tops began to crisp and saved them just in time.

As they cooled Chris asked if it was OK eat em or were they for photo ops only haha. Good thing I took a photo of them cause they didn’t last long!

Breaded and Baked Eggplant

We brought home three of these Chinese eggplants from the farmers market so I could make Duane’s favorite dish, Eggplant Parmesan. Turns out these lovely small eggplants worked out perfectly.

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Medium thin slices work out so you can fit more of them in a round pan. Dip them in egg yolk, and then a seasoned bread crumb mixture. I get two pans with olive oil and garlic going to speed up the process. Cook till crispy brownish.

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With fried egg plant, I say the more garlic the merrier. Pick your favorite cheeses. A soft (like mozzarella) and a hard (like parmesan). Don’t worry about the excess oil on the cooked eggplant. It’s healthy DHA.

Sauce on the bottom, and most of your sauce on the top (one 18 oz jar). Those eggplants are layered up in between. Mushrooms and black olives are a delicious addition at this point. Sprinkle cheese mixture and Italian herbs on top.

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Another yummy marinara dish for a hungry pregnant lady.

Manicotti stuffed with butternut squash

Caroline, you know how much I like to make a nice baked pasta dish once in a while? Stuffed shells, Manicotti, Lasagna…these are some of my favorite comfort foods. We discussed this butternut squash that I had brought back from the farmer’s market, and I was pondering of all the ways I could prepare it. Well, this is what I decided to do with it:

1. Cut the butternut squash in half, bake face down in chicken broth till soft (a fork sinks into the skin easily).

2. Pull it out and enjoy a cup of soup with the broth and some spooned out portions of sweet cooked butternut squash. Meanwhile boil some water and cook those manicotti shells. No – I did not make these from scratch. Far to busy!

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3. Spoon out one half (or less, depending on how sweet you want your mixture) of the squash and integrate mixture into another mixture of ricotta cheese (15 oz) and 1 egg. I shred finely grated pecorino, parmesan, or romano into the mixture to ‘richen’ it up. Sometimes I use pecorino or romano cheeses because they don’t have that strange smell that parmesan has – for those of you who have made an alfredo sauce you know what I mean. The romano is sweeter and the pecorino is saltier and sharper. Sometimes they are made with ewe verses cows milk.

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4. Once the manicotti shells are drained and cooled, at least so you can touch them, preheat the oven for 350. Stuff those tubes mostly full with you butternut squash and cheese mixture (make sure you added an egg!). Lay them into a rectangular dish with some of your favorite sauce on the bottom and then cover them well before adding more cheese (whew, that is a lot of cheese). I added some pepper flakes and cayenne to the sauce since I like spicy, sweet and acidic together.

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5. After adding some garden basil to the top I covered it in good ol’ mozzarella cheese and chopped garlic and baked it for 45 min. You might need additional time, just keep checking it till the cheese is brownish and the sauce bubbly. Ricotta and squash mixture should not be runny (fully cooked).

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Manga! Manga! A seasonal pasta favorite.

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