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EGGPLANT GRATIN WITH SAFFRON CUSTARD

By Chef Linton Hopkins

2 pounds Globe or Japanese eggplant
2 tablespoons olive oil
⅔ cup diced onion
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon savory or oregano
2½ pounds peeled, seeded, chopped tomato
2 eggs
1 cup ricotta cheese
¾ cup cream
2 milliliters or ½ teaspoon saffron threads
4 ounces Parmesan
10 leaves fresh basil
3 ounces pecorino Romano

Peel and slice eggplant ¼ inch thick. Lightly baste with olive oil on both sides and bake at 460° for 4–5 minutes on a mesh tray. Set aside to cool.

To prepare the sauce, sauté onion, garlic and herbs in olive oil. Add tomato and cook until thick. Season with salt and pepper. To prepare the custard, beat eggs; add ricotta, cream, saffron and Parmesan. Season with salt and pepper.

Assemble starting with a little tomato sauce on bottom of pan. Then layer eggplant, sauce, pecorino and basil. The top layer should be just eggplant. Pour custard over all. Allow to set and bake at 350° for 40 minutes.

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LIGHTENED UP POTATO SALAD

Serves 8

7 russet potatoes (about 3 pounds)
½ cup white wine vinegar
¾ cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
¼ cup 2% Greek yogurt
5 large hard-boiled eggs, peeled
1 small onion, preferably Vidalia, finely chopped
4 stalks celery, finely chopped
¼ cup sweet or dill pickle relish
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

Peel potatoes and cut into ½-inch cubes. Immediately place them in a large pot with water to cover; season with salt. Bring to a boil over high heat and then decrease the heat to low. Simmer until tender, about 30 minutes. Drain well in a colander. While still warm, transfer the potatoes to a baking sheet and drizzle with vinegar. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

Halve 2 eggs lengthwise and remove the yolks (set aside for another use or discard). Grate the remaining egg whites and 3 whole eggs. Place in a medium bowl. Chef’s note: To easily peel hard-boiled eggs, gently tap shells on the counter to crackle the egg. Roll between your hands to loosen the shell. Peel, starting at the large end, while holding the egg under running cold water; this facilitates peeling and also removes any stray shell fragments.

To make … Read More

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PICKLED VEGETABLES

Serves 8 to 10

1 cucumber
1 red onion, halved and thinly sliced
8 cups assorted cut vegetables such as carrots, cauliflower florets, green beans, wax beans and small okra
6 cups distilled white vinegar
2 cups sugar
¾ cup kosher salt
1 large garlic clove, cut into slivers
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon white peppercorns
4 small red chili peppers

Prepare an ice-water bath by filling a large bowl with ice and water. Remove alternating stripes of peel from the cucumbers. Thinly slice and set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil over high heat. Place the 8 cups of vegetables in the boiling water and let cook until vibrant in color but still firm, 1–2 minutes. Drain well in a colander, and then set the colander in the ice-water bath (to set the color and stop the cooking), making sure the vegetables are submerged. Drain well. Set aside.

Place half the red onion, garlic, mustard seeds, coriander seeds and peppercorns in the bottom of a large, sealable, non-reactive bowl or jar. Transfer the blanched vegetables to the jar, layering to alternate the color and texture. Layer in remaining … Read More

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TOMATOES—WHOLE, HALVED OR CRUSHED

You may can as few or as many at a time as you choose. Ten pounds of tomatoes will make approximately 4 quarts or 8 pints.

10 pounds ripe tomatoes (organic preferred)
Bottled lemon juice or white vinegar

Prepare canning jars by placing in a water bath canner. Bring to boil and simmer for at least 10 minutes while preparing tomatoes. Place lids in a small saucepan with water to cover and simmer at a very low heat.

Meanwhile, bring water to boil in a saucepan or stockpot. Wash and cut top core out of tomatoes; cut an X in the bottom of the tomato. Drop 4 or 5 tomatoes into the boiling water. After 1 to 2 minutes, you will notice the skins beginning to split. Remove immediately with slotted spoon to an ice water bath. When cool enough to handle, slip off skins.

Remove jars from water bath canner. If using quarts, add 4 tablespoons vinegar or 2 tablespoons lemon juice to the bottom of each jar. If using pints, add 2 tablespoons vinegar or 1 tablespoon lemon juice to each jar. Pack jars with whole, halved or crushed tomatoes, as desired. If crushed, cut tomato into 1- … Read More

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lastBiteAsparagus

OVEN-ROASTED SPRING ASPARAGUS

Recipe and Photo by Megan Mccarthy

  • 1 bunch asparagus, trimmed
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil + 1 teaspoon for misting
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 fresh lemon, squeezed
  • 2 tablespoons grated Asiago cheese
  • ¼ teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
  • Sea salt to taste

Turn oven broiler on high. Place trimmed asparagus on a baking pan and mist with extra-virgin olive oil. Place asparagus under broiler for about 5 to 6 minutes.

In small bowl, whisk together 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, garlic, lemon, Asiago cheese, fresh cracked black pepper and salt to taste. Drizzle vinaigrette over roasted asparagus and serve.

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SAUTÉED RADISHES WITH CHIVES

Serves 4

To clean radish greens, other greens or gritty herbs, place them in a sink or large bowl filled with cold water. Swish the greens around, letting the dirt fall to the bottom. Using your hands or a fine-mesh sieve, scoop the greens from the water, leaving the dirt at the bottom. Drain, clean and refill the sink or bowl. Repeat the process until the greens are clean and free of dirt.

  • 4 bunches radishes with greens attached, preferably French, very well cleaned
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 garlic clove, very finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground white pepper

Cut greens from radishes and thoroughly wash as indicated in the headnote. Coarsely chop greens. Trim radishes and cut lengthwise into ½-inch wedges. Heat the oil in a 12- inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat. Add radish wedges and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until just tender, about 8 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, 45 to 60 seconds. Add reserved damp greens and cook until just wilted. Add chives and toss to coat. Taste and adjust for seasoning with salt and pepper. Serve warm.

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