Hearty and Heart Healthy

You knew the anchovies were going to make another appearance.
It came time to use up the rest of those anchovies, and at least some of my parsley, in a somewhat traditional pasta dish. I also wanted to use up tomato sauce I had made due to the bunches of cherry tomatoes I keep harvesting from my garden–in late October no less!

I transplanted one of my outdoor parsley plants to an indoor pot in the hopes it could produce for me in the winter.  It hasn't been looking great!

I transplanted one of my outdoor parsley plants to an indoor pot in the hopes it could produce for me in the winter. It hasn’t been looking great!


It is nice when something comes together I wasn’t expecting. This salty, toothsome dish packed a flavor punch. I ended up using one of the tiny dried out chilis I had on hand, something I also grew in a planter and don’t use very much, because I thought this recipe could benefit from some extra spice. Red pepper flakes add a nice touch in tomato sauce. Since I had fewer anchovy filets available than one of the original recipes suggested, I threw in capers to fill it out.

Pasta Oreganata With Garlic, Anchovies and Tomatoes
Adapted from a combination of Gwyneth Paltrow’s recipe in Bon Appetit and a New York Times recipe

1-2 Cups of chunky tomato sauce, previously made, such as Smitten Kitchen’s fresh tomato sauce
6 anchovy fillets packed in oil, drained
4 Tablespoons of olive oil, divided
4 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1 dried chili, finely chopped (optional)
1 Tablespoon capers
1/4 Cup plain dry breadcrumbs
1 Tablespoon fresh flat-leaf parsley
, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme, finely chopped
Large pinch dried oregano
Freshly ground black pepper
8 ounces of linguine or spaghetti
, I use whole wheat
additional chopped parsley leaves
small fresh basil leaves
(optional)

Set the oven temperature to 400°. Line a small baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Place breadcrumbs and herbs in a small bowl; season with salt and pepper. Drizzle 1 Tbsp. oil over; stir until mixture resembles damp sand.
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Bake until golden brown, 3-5 minutes. Set aside.
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Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup pasta cooking liquid.

Put about 3 Tablespoons of olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat; a minute later, add garlic. Cook garlic so it bubbles gently. When it is lightly browned all over, add anchovies.
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Cook, stirring occasionally, for about a minute, until anchovies begin to fall apart. Add capers, if using.
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Add tomato sauce and chili. Adjust heat so the sauce bubbles nicely, and cook until mixture cooks down and comes together a little, about 5 minutes. Taste and add salt and pepper as necessary.
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Add drained pasta to skillet; toss to coat, adding reserved pasta water by 1/4-cupfuls if dry. Remove from heat; stir in basil. Drizzle with remaining 2 Tbsp. oil. Divide among bowls. Top each with oreganata and extra parsley.
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Utensils Update

I may have fallen behind on my blogging schedule a little bit, but I didn’t miss revisiting my kitchen utensils, exactly 4 months after this post, as promised.

Four months after marking these items with blue tape, they had not been used once.

Four months after marking these items with blue tape, they had not been used once.


The pile of pieces with blue tape remaining was substantial. I honestly thought it would be even larger!

Upon assessment, I decided I couldn’t get rid of everything. The one slotted wooden spoon that hadn’t been used? Way too useful. The seafood cracker? It made sense that we hadn’t necessarily needed it in a four-month period, but I wanted to keep it around for the future. Lobsters have been dropping in price, you know. And I had, in fact, enjoyed shellfish such as lobster–just away from home.

The lobster and I wore the exact same color; how embarrassing!

The lobster and I wore the exact same color; how embarrassing!


Toss the pig spatula? No way! That belongs in a separate category for my pig collection anyway.

My husband was doubtful that I would get rid of anything. But he was wrong! I gathered up the unwanted pieces and…offered them to his sister as a birthday present. (Hey, I didn’t hide that they were used. And she even seemed excited!).

For the record, all of our tools still don’t even fit in one holder…or two…plus two drawers. So life is just a little simpler now.

Eat Ugly Food

Among the list of small contributions individuals can make to reduce food waste is to eat ugly food. Fight that primal, biological tendency to select only the most pristine pepper, the flawless fennel, the pure potato, the cleanest cucumber, or the blemish-free blueberry batch.

As I address this topic, let me pause to say that I struggle to walk the walk. The last time I went to the grocery store for produce, I scrutinized nearly every batch of cilantro on display before selecting what I felt was the perkiest. I am part of the problem.

Of course, as I sort through the bins, what I’m trying to do is get the best bang for my buck. At the end of the day, grocery stores probably throw out that slightly marred mango that keeps getting left behind. They are part of the problem, too. What if they charged a premium for perfect produce? With ugly items available, but at an irresistible price? Maybe someone would pay a lesser price. Maybe that lesser price makes the item fit into someone’s budget. Maybe for once healthy produce could be as affordable as junk!

Apples are in prime season right now. I heard a story on NPR the other day in which apple farmers talked about the fact that big box stores stipulate circumference requirements, and offer only 1/2 inch leeway. Read about the high standards of beauty that have been regulated in the U.S. (the links to the U.S.D.A. within this article work again, yay). I remember apple-picking a couple of years ago at a large orchard in Connecticut. There were apples all over the ground, tons of them, bruised and smashed or half-eaten and tossed to the side. Some were probably in fairly good shape, but people kicked them to the side. Of course no one wanted them–they wanted to spot their perfect apple and pick it from the tree. I was saddened by the prospect that these apples weren’t used at all.

My sister-in-law Maggie brought me back a ton of apples from picking this year, and they were all beautiful except for this one!

My sister-in-law Maggie brought me back a ton of apples from her own picking excursion this year. Here’s the only funny-looking one I found!

A UK study found that the amount thrown away due to “ugliness” amounted to 40% of fruits and vegetables, and the article made a point that this is particularly tragic considering that one in eight people worldwide are hungry. UntitledThe UN has taken notice of these shameful facts, and started a Think.Eat.Save campaign. It seems fairly recent. Apparently World Food Day was October 16, though the media I consume did not pick this up.

On a lighter note, I want to talk about a vegetable that is ugly even when it is looking its best–celeriac, or celery root. Like most root vegetables, celeriac works well roasted or mashed and can be very satisfying. Also like most root vegetables, it keeps for some time. I picked up celeriac as one of my CSA items a couple weeks ago and hadn’t gotten around to cooking it. Randomly, when I opened up my new momofuku milk bar cookbook the other day, the page that faced me was the recipe for celery root ganache.
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A friend recently brought over the cookbook for me as a wonderfully thoughtful gift. She reads my blog, and said that the author, chef Christina Tosi, uses leftover crumbs and components from various desserts in other concoctions at the restaurant, so she thought it might fit in with my philosophy. Of course, the ingredients lying around a restaurant kitchen are much different from a home kitchen’s. That’s OK–it’s still fun. If you have ever had a momofuku milk bar dessert, you understand that it might be worth it.

Adapted dish: Celery Root Ganache with Strawberry Sorbet and Ritz Crunch

Part 1
Recipe 1:
Celery Root Ganache

from the momofuku milk bar cookbook
makes 1.5 cups, which is a lot

1 medium celery root, peeled and cut into chunks
1 Tablespoon grapeseed oil
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
, freshly ground
milk if needed

5.25 ounces white chocolate
3 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons corn syrup or glucose
1/4 Cup cold heavy cream
1 teaspoon kosher salt

Equipment needed: blender or food processor, mesh strainer or food mill (optional?), immersion blender

Preheat the oven to 325.
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On a large sheet of aluminum foil, toss the celery root chunks with oil, salt and pepper. Fold up to enclose and place on a baking sheet. Roast in oven until celery root is mushy, and hopefully caramelized. The cookbook says 30-60 minutes, but I wasn’t satisfied with the mushiness until around 90 minutes.
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Use a blender to puree the celery root. Add milk if needed to get a smoother puree.
DSC_5988Then press through a fine-mesh strainer, or perhaps a food mill, to get a baby-food like texture. You will need 1/2 Cup.
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This is where I started to wonder if this was worth it. I was pressing and pressing and not getting enough squeezed out of my mesh strainer. I had already added a good amount of milk at the blender stage so I didn’t want to thin it out too much. I spent a lot of time to get just a few tablespoons of smooth puree, so I eventually gave up and decided to accept a grainier texture.

In a microwave-safe dish, combine the white chocolate and butter and heat at 15-second bursts in the microwave, stirring in between. The mixture should come together but be barely warm, not hot.

Transfer chocolate mixture to a tall, narrow container like a quart deli container.
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In another bowl, microwave corn syrup for 15 seconds and then add to the chocolate mixture. Use immersion blender to combine. Then stream in heavy cream with blender running and buzz until it comes together in a silky, smooth texture.
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Add to celery root puree to this along with the extra salt.
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Taste to see if it needs any additional salt. What will it taste like? I will tell you what I thought: yogurt-covered pretzel, all the way.

Ganache should be chilled in fridge for at least 4 hours to firm and can be stored there long-term, in an airtight container.

Part 2
Recipe 2:
Ritz Crunch

Makes about 2 Cups, which is dangerous

1 sleeve Ritz crackers (110g)
1/2 Cup sugar
1/4 Cup milk powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
7 Tablespoons butter
, melted

Heat the oven to 275.
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Crush crackers with your hands in a medium bowl. Add the milk powder, sugar and salt and toss. Add melted butter; toss to coat.

Spread on parchment or Silpat-lined sheet pan.
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Bake for 20-25 minutes. It will be done when the clusters are slightly more golden and feel a little crispy.
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Cool completely before storing, in an airtight container. They can be stored at room temperature, in fridge, or in freezer.

Part 3
Strawberry Sorbet

This I purchased, on a late-season visit to Ralph’s Italian Ice.

To bring the parts together:
Shmear cold ganache across small desert plate. Scatter the Ritz crunch around. Place a generous scoop of strawberry sorbet at center.
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Yes, even when shortcuts and substitutes, this dessert took me a couple of days and generated infinite dirty dishes. When I tasted the final product–with the icy cold, sweet but fruity-tart sorbet, the delightfully salty ganache, and the buttery Ritz crunch–my main thought was “wow.” Also, “Christina Tosi is a genius.”

Winter Greens Pizza

It’s been awhile since I mentioned a pizza recipe. I don’t want you to think I have a one-track pizza mind. The truth is, among all the random recipes I try, pizza is on the menu almost every week. Yes, part of the reason is that, as previously mentioned, my husband often does half the work for me by pre- making dough. Then topping the pizza is so darn easy and good! Like soup, it is a wonderful vehicle for using up what is in the fridge.
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This recipe is unusual for its unusual toppings: earthy greens, raisins, and anchovy fillets. It’s not the gooey tomato-saucy crunchy Neapolitan pizza you (or I) fantasize about. Don’t turn up your nose, though, because it provides a rather healthy concentration of vitamins and nutrients in one tasty package!

Winter Greens, Asiago, and Anchovy Pizza
Barely modified from Cooking Light via myrecipes.com

Cooking spray
1 Cup red onion
, sliced
3 Tablespoons raisins
3 garlic cloves
, minced
2 canned anchovy fillets, minced
3 Cups loosely packed tender greens, such as spinach, chopped if large (about 3 ounces)
3 Cups chopped turnip, beet or other winter greens (about 5 ounces)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 thin pizza crust
, either your own, with some pre-baking, or a Boboli Italian-flavored crust
3/4 cup (3 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup (2 ounces) grated Asiago cheese

I had anchovies on hand because I have I have a giant parsley plant out front, and my related recipe searches keep leading me to pasta Puttanesca. I have yet to make said pasta, but the rest of the can of anchovies awaits!
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For my greens, I used mostly the CSA swiss chard and a combination of spinach and arugula.
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Preheat oven to 400°. This was when I was still oven-less (it’s fixed now, hooray! What a new motherboard can do…). I heated up the grill instead.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add red onion, and cook for 10 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Add 3 tablespoons raisins, garlic, and anchovies; cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently, as the anchovy melts into the mixture.
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Add greens; cover and cook for 4 minutes or until they wilt. Uncover and cook for 3 minutes or until liquid evaporates.
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Stir in 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper. Cool slightly.

Place crust on a baking sheet. Sprinkle crust evenly with mozzarella; top evenly with greens mixture. Sprinkle Asiago evenly.

Gotta love it when it calls for cheese under toppings under cheese!

Gotta love it when it calls for cheese under toppings under cheese!


Bake at 400° for 12-15 minutes or until cheese melts and begins to brown. Cut pizza into wedges and serve.
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Hummus…fritters

I was in the mood for hummus the other day, and my husband asked if I wanted anything from Costco when he was making a trip. This is a bad combination. I should have simply made my own in a smaller quantity, but instead I ended up with the giant container.

Not that I’m complaining–I love hummus (don’t we all?). However, someone subsequently advised me that it says on the container to consume within 7 days of opening. I already weighed in about the news that “Best By” dates are subjective and unregulated, as reported by the NRDC. I’m sure that hummus tastes a bit better when freshly opened, but I’ve eaten from plenty of containers of hummus over much longer periods of time.
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It was great timing to receive the latest Cooking Light magazine and find a recipe that uses hummus in a different way, to make a composed entrée.

Hummus Rice Fritters with Mediterranean Accompaniments
From Cooking Light magazine
Makes at least 8 fritters

Fritters:
1 1/2 Cups leftover cooked brown rice
(could be from a pre-cooked packaged, made immediately before, or made a previous day!)
1 Cup prepared hummus (feel free to vary with flavored hummuses if that is what you have)
3 Tablespoons flour, all-purpose or cake
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 large egg white
4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Salad/Pita Accompaniments:
2 Cups baby arugula
1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 Cup cherry tomatoes
, halved
1 Cup cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced
1/2 Cup thinly sliced red onion (optional; I did not use)
1 ounce goat cheese, crumbled-about 1/4 Cup (optional–not as necessary if using the yogurt sauce)

I used a "brown rice medley"

I used a “brown rice medley”


Place first 5 ingredients in a food processor; process until smooth.
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Does anyone have ideas, in general, for putting one egg yolk to good use, so I don't have to toss it?

Does anyone have ideas, in general, for putting one egg yolk to good use, so I don’t have to toss it?


Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add 2 teaspoons oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add 4 (1/4-cup) batter mounds to pan, pressing each with the back of a spatula to flatten slightly (you may want to spray the spatula with oil or cooking spray so it doesn’t stick).
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Cook 4 minutes on each side or until golden and thoroughly cooked.
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Remove from pan; keep warm. Repeat procedure with 2 teaspoons oil and remaining batter. Sprinkle fritters with 1/4 teaspoon salt.
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Combine 1 tablespoon oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, lemon juice, and black pepper in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add arugula, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, and onion; toss gently to coat.

The reviews suggested a sauce, like one might have for falafel, and using pita. Turns out I had everything on hand. Feel free to adjust this to taste, of course, if you hate cilantro or find the lemon a little strong like I did. Greek yogurt is already tangy so I knocked the quantity down a bit. Otherwise, I find that garlic or garlic powder helps balance it out 🙂

Yogurt Sauce
from Food Network/Guy Fieri

1/2 Cup plain Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon lemon juice
, freshly squeezed
2 teaspoons cilantro leaves, freshly chopped
1 teaspoons parsley leaves, freshly chopped
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
Kosher salt
, as needed

Serve salad, yogurt sauce, cheese (if using), fritters and pita halves on a platter. Stuff filling into pita halves as desired and consume immediately.

Sad arugula. Still delicious!

Sad arugula. Still delicious!