I was always a picky eater. Finicky too. Even if I liked something, if I wasn’t in the mood, I refused to eat it. My aunt tells me that the only thing she remembers me consistently consuming was orange juice. Anyway, despite my finicky eating, I did like vegetables. I like spinach and green beans, and I loved picking tomatoes out of the garden and eating them during the summer. I liked broccoli with cheese. I don’t remember if I liked mushrooms… but I love them now. I put them in my soup, on my pizza, and sometimes? I just eat them!
A friend told me he dislikes mushrooms because the texture and squish they make in his mouth. Understandable! But, I wonder if I made him mushrooms if he would eat them. I steam them with some wine, and then with a little pat of butter I sear the mushrooms until they develop a delicious golden brown sear. They are a little crisp, chewy and juicy on the inside. Maybe it’s just because I inherently like mushrooms, but they are delicious!
Seared Mushroom (the Kaprise Kitchen way)
12 white button mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup of dry white wine
1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
1 tablespoon of butter
In a non-stick pan, add the mushrooms. Sprinkle with salt to release the moisture in the mushrooms.
Once the pan is hot, add the wine and stir, letting the mushrooms bubble in the wine
Cook over high head until the liquid has been evaporated
Stir in the butter, and let the mushroom sear for 3 or 4 minutes per side.
Serve hot! You can sprinkle chives or a little bit of pepper if you’d like.
The first time I made gratin, it was a potato gratin. It was layered with gruyere, potatoes and heavy cream. Needless to say, as a measly 8th grader, I was horrified by the smell of the gruyere baking for 3 hours. The entire house smelled pungently of cheese, and I refused to taste the finished dish because to my unsophisticated nose the gratin smelled… ugh! My mother assured me that it was delicious, but I was certain my mom would think anything I made was delicious so I didn’t believe her.
Since, I tried a variety of different gratins, using more or less cream and different types of cheese. I’ve grown to like the delicate layers of vegetables baked until meltingly tender and delicious with a golden crust of cheese. However, my rapidly increasing sized bottom multiplied by the long hours I spend in the library have lead me to believe that a decrease in cheese and cream is necessary. So I developed a lighter and slightly sweeter gratin that uses just enough cream to keep it together and just enough cheese to get a golden crust.
Butternut Squash and Onion Gratin
1 small butternut squash; halved, seeded, and thinly sliced
1 sweet onion; halved and sliced thinly
1 small bunch of fresh parsley; fined chopped (you may use basil, tarragon, or any other blend of herbs)
1 tablespoon of butter, melted and cooled
1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
1 cup of heavy cream
1 tablespoon of whole grain mustard
1 cup of finely shredded Parmesan cheese (or any dry, hard cheese that you like)
Butter baking dish. I used two nested Le Creuset stoneware, one that is 4 by 9 and the other is probably 3 by6.
Whisk cream, salt, mustard, and parsley together
Lay discs of butternut squash flat on the bottom of the dish
Then alternate butternut squash and slices of onion
Using a small spoon, spoon the cream and parsley over the layers and top with cheese
Bake at 400 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes until bubbly and delicious
(My final product, obviously, is over baked. I got wrapped up in cleaning my apartment and forgot to check on my gratin. It was still delicious, but I recommend baking with a timer to avoid my mishap)
I know I promised to share by project last week, but after making two dozen spanikopita triangles and a huge crowd of stuffed cabbage in spicy red sauce, I was pooped. Not to mention the week I spent stressing about school and staying up all night…. so the minute I roasted my last ribeye stuffed cabbage, I was out like a light on the floor…. My puppy woke me up when she came over with her prickly little whiskers to sniff my face and check for doneness.
Clearly, in such an incapacitated mental state of frenzied studying and frenzied cooking for stress relief…. I took 1 picture. 1. Out of 4 hours of cooking… 1 single picture. So it works wonderfully, that I didn’t love either recipes I concocted. So, until they are perfect? I will withhold!
I do have tons of new recipes that I’m playing with…. port reduced portabellas, perfect ribeye steaks, pilaf, wheatberry salads, and RICOTTA GNOCCI! but, until I get my law school brain sorted out and my pictures uploaded and edited, you’re stuck with….. broccoli.
Now, this is not rocket science, nor is it the most brilliant recipe. However, this is a wonderful way to get a full serving of greens and have a healthy lunch that uses up some leftovers!
Butter Braised Broccoli
1 bunch of fresh green broccoli, washed and chopped into bite size pieces
1 small onion, peeled and sliced thinly in half moons
1 left over boiled potato
2 tablespoons of butter (or if you are like my boyfriend and think butter will kill you, that fake stuff in the tub or olive oil with a sprinkle of salt is fine)
1/4 cup of wheatberries, bulgar, or any other whole grain that you have easily on hand *
options: any other left over vegetables, or a poached egg
Heat a fry pan, toss the broccoli in with a few tablespoons of water and cover until the broccoli is bright and tender.
Once the water has evaporated, add the butter over high heat until the broccoli is toasted
Lower the heat and add onions and other vegetables and whole grains (as you use) and stir until hot
Sprinkle with freshly grated Parmesan, cracked black pepper and salt to taste
My last version – I omitted the wheatberries and used a small potato I had knocking around in my fridge with the onion. I ate this with a little wedge of toasted bread.
It just started getting cold in Baltimore this week, which coincides with the busiest time of the year for all law students. Well…. maybe not busiest, but absolutely the most stressful. And for a procrastination guru like myself, I find myself in the clutches of mini depression and annoyance because I am so drastically and embarrassingly behind. And of course, the only place I would ever admit this is here, because in law school it really is just all about hanging on.
Yesterday, after spending the entire day fooling around and then sleeping through class (how do you manage to spend 12 hours sitting around, and then manage to SLEEP in class?! How could you possibly be tired from doing nothing?? Well… it’s possible). So I ran to the grocery store for some much needed solace and then hurried back to my kitchen for some much needed therapy. Mind you, I was cooking 1 handed, at times with two but very gingerly. I made the fatal mistake of grating chocolate on my very new and very sharp microplane while drinking some delicious port (perhaps the bottle… but I can’t tell you that), so I am missing a grated portion of my thumb.
I have been looking at recipes for baked pastas and salads that keep well in attempt to study more and spend less time to my elbows in chopped veggies and bowls of flour. I couldn’t find anything that I really liked, so I picked two vegetables that I liked and then went from there.
The focus of this salad is really the wonderfully tender and beautiful butternut squash. I found an adorable and slightly smaller squash so I cubed and used the whole thing. I also found some fluffy curly leafed kale that I immediately paired with the squash.
I didn’t season the bulgar wheat at all, instead figuring if this giant bowl of food was supposed to last a week, then I would want different seasonings each day. I think the best thing to do is pick a different protein each day to toss with the salad and eat. I had mine with a little Italian dressing yesterday and some oil/vinegar this morning. Both were delicious. I’m planning on using this salad as the bed for my roasted chicken legs tonight.
Butternut Squash Bulgar Wheat Salad
(remember this is supposed to last all week, so the recipe is large. Feel free to halve or quarter as necessary)
2 cups of uncooked bulgar wheat (you might consider quinoa or barley or any other whole grain)
1 small butternut squash
1 bunch of kale (or any other sturdy and hearty green)
2 celery sticks, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 jar of olives (I used little green ones, but I think black or any other variety would work just fine)
1 small bunch of fresh chives or green onion (red onion works too), chopped finely
juice of 1/2 lemon
handful of chopped figs
1 cup of toasted and chopped walnuts
salt, pepper, and olive oil as needed
Cook the bulgar according to package directions (I would suggest under-cooking by just a bit because the texture and crunch of al-dente bulgar adds more dimension to the salad). Drain and cool
Bring a salted pot of water to boil
Roughly chop the kale (use more than you think necessary since this boils down quickly)
Peel and cube your butternut squash (you can buy this pre-sliced in my grocery but I like chopping so I did it myself)
Plunge the kale into the boiling water and cover for about 3 to 4 minutes. I left most of the steams in the kale, so I boiled a little longer to soften the ribs of the kale. If you prefer crunchier kale, feel free to blanch.
Remove and drain the kale – when the kale is cooled, you will need to squeeze the moisture out of the leaves. I realize this removes a lot of the nutrition, but the salad needs to be as dry as possible.
Bring the water back to a boil and plunge the squash into the water. Cover and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes depending on the size of your cubes. You want your squash to be soft but maintain the cube shape.
Drain and cool the squash.
While your bulgar, kale, and squash are cooling – chop and prepare the other ingredients.
In a very large bowl, toss of the ingredients with a teaspoon of olive oil. Mix well.
There is a commercial on TV right now that says “there is nothing more therapeutic after a long day of work than chopping and cooking… NOT” but for me? That is exactly true. I sharpen my knives, set my cutting board on the counter and chop. I like the evenness. I like the systematic chops.
This potato salad is heavy on the chopping, but the end result is thoroughly satisfying and filling.
Kaprise Kitchen Summer Potato Salad
3 large Yukon Gold potatoes – steamed, cooled, and chopped in 1 inch cubes
2 large carrots – steamed, cooled, and chopped into 1/2 inch coins (feel free to leave these raw if you like more crunch)
1 bunch of crisp radishes – stemmed and chopped into coins and halved
1 bunch of basil leaves – stemmed and chiffonaded
2 celery stalks – cleaned and 1/4 inch diced
1/2 small onion (or a small shallot) – finely diced
1 tbl of grainy mustard
a splash of red wine vinegar
Prepare the ingredients
Mix in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper accordingly.
* Makes about 6 servings. Store in an airtight container for no more than 2 days.