Vicki's Last Vegetable Venture of the Season
Vicki’s Vegetable Ventures
October 15, 2012
Company in the kitchen
It’s easy to understand the pleasure and satisfaction derived from serving a wonderful meal to your family. But sometimes, the cooking process also allows you to connect with loved ones not even present at the dining table — those who are with you in spirit, with you in the kitchen while you’re cooking.
Such was the case last night when I cooked a meal that brought to mind two loved ones. I thought of my dear departed mother-in-law Gladys. She was a loveable British woman who’d often say, “Same meat, different gravy,” an English expression referring to the same thing presented differently.
Clever sauce technique
And I was reminded of my sweet daughter-in-law Amber, who gave me her Czech mother’s recipe for Svíčková (pronounced SVEETS-ko-va). In this traditional Czech dish, beef is roasted slowly with herbs, spices and aromatic root vegetables. Instead of straining out and discarding the aromatic root vegetables, they’re pureed and added to a cream sauce for a triple benefit: to thicken, flavor and color the sauce. The color comes from the carrots, which give the sauce a pretty orange hue.
I employed the same technique with chicken, rendering the most sumptuous, colorful sauce ever to smother a chicken. The result was something like Svíčková with the “same gravy, different meat.” Our CSA broccoli and purple cauliflower only enhanced our Sunday dinner’s color explosion.
More fall color
The vibrantly colored, voluptuously ribbed squashes we picked up last week looked like models for an artist’s still-life. I wouldn’t know how to paint these beauties, but cooking them was easy.
First I cut them in half and roasted them in a hot oven till almost tender. Meanwhile, in a skillet on stovetop, I sautéed lots of diced leeks and peppers, and then browned some ground lamb seasoned with Moroccan spices of cinnamon, allspice and chili powder.
Out from the oven came the squashes, which got filled with the lamb concoction and returned to the oven for a bit to allow the flavors to meld. Minced parsley and chives garnished the finished creation, which were plated alongside braised kale. Two different squashes, leeks, peppers, parsley, chives and kale – a total of seven CSA items went into this unbelievably tasty and colorful ensemble. In fact, the plates also looked worthy of an artist’s rendition!