August 13 - Vicki's Vegetable Ventures
Look Mom, no recipe!
I’ve always envied cooks who can literally “throw something together.” Take leftovers from Thursday’s dinner, a couple stray carrots, an intrepid selection of spices, maybe a potato, and whatever else suits their fancy … and whip it all up into a glorious meal. No recipe required.
Me, I’m a recipe junkie. When friends come for dinner they always tell me what a great cook I am, but then I have to confess that I simply followed a recipe.
So it was with great pride that I whipped up my own concoction the other night. A rendition of stuffed peppers using those stunning purple bell peppers, the dish began with about 4 oz. each of ground turkey and chorizo, both sitting idly in the freezer with no plans for the future. I added jasmine rice, egg, parsley and onion — and I didn’t measure anything, just threw it all in.
On the side we had fried squash. These delightful little things, I swear, are more addictive than potato chips. All in all, a pleasant little weeknight meal.
And the beet goes on
Less successful was a foray into slow-cooker world. A chuck roast was flavored with thyme, onions and garlic and simmered in wine and beef broth. But the typical pot roast vegetables of potatoes and orange carrots were replaced with our CSA root vegetables: kohlrabi, beets, radishes and purple carrots.
I shouldn’t have experimented with a cooking technique I’ve never mastered the normal way, let alone trying to replace ingredients. The mistake? The broth tasted like beets!
Now, Ray and I love beets so much that last year they ranked among our top 5 CSA items. Who knew we could be over-beeted? Still, we were disappointed when this week’s share didn’t include beets.
The most successful meal, hands down, was pork chops paired with a combo of beet greens, chard and arugula braised in turkey broth. A home-cooked “mess o’ greens,” as it’s called in the South, never fails to fill the bill for a stickler like me who insists on having something green for dinner every night.
But the real star of this meal was the divine tarragon-cognac cream sauce that smothered the chops. Cooking with fresh herbs is like getting butter on your movie popcorn, putting cream in your coffee, or showering spaghetti and meatballs with Parmesan cheese. It just sends an already-wonderful creation clear over the top.
And cognac? Wow. The combination of tarragon and cognac made the dish taste like it came straight from a glamorous Parisian night spot. But again, I simply followed a recipe.