Side Dishes

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Now that my kitchen is functional (and I’m getting deliveries from Green Bean Delivery every other week), I’ve been busy in the kitchen. I have several great recipes with mediocre photos to share, but I thought I’d do a round-up of others’ recipes I’ve either made or tasted recently and really liked.

romanescoRoasted Romanesco. The romanesco is a broccoli/cauliflower hybrid that is milder and tastier than either of the two. I got one in a Green Bean Delivery box and cooked it up using this simple recipe from The Kitchen Snob and it was great! This is a particularly good recipe to try when having guests since the vegetable looks so great on a plate. And they were definitely better than roasted cauliflower steaks. I just can’t seem to roast them at home so they taste like the cauliflower at Etch.

Baguettes. During the recent snow/ice storms, we were stuck in our house for nearly a week. Our driveway was covered in a thick sheet of ice. The steepness was great for sledding, but not so much for getting out without possibly careening into a tree. So I decided to make some bread in anticipation of actually running out! My friend, Amy at Fearless Homemaker has made these baguettes often and loves them.

Eh, I didn’t love them. But it’s not the fault of the recipe. Somehow (perhaps the arid conditions in our house because of the heat being on all the time), the dough was too dry, so we had to add water. I also had trouble mixing the dough initially (almost burned up my mixer’s motor). My husband swears he did not measure inaccurately, but anyway, the result was a bread with overworked dough that resulted in a tight crumb (like sandwich bread). So I wasn’t blown away. But if made properly, I can see how this bread would be really great. It’s a huge recipe, though (makes four loaves), so keep that in mind.

Freekeh with Brussels Sprouts, Apples, Cranberries, Cherries and Pecans. This is the dish that Beth of Eat. Drink. Smile. brought to our Nashville Foodbloggers post-holiday potluck. I loved this dish. I’ve got to skeedaddilydoo over to the store and get some freekeh, though. I’ve never had it before and certainly never bought it. But it is fantastic. Plus, I’m always up for a new way to use Brussels sprouts.

Butternut Squash and Goat Cheese Empanadas. My favorite dish from the foodblogger potluck was Tracey of Single Grrl in the Kitchen’s empanadas. Oh, man, these things were good. I snagged several to take home afterward, too.

Also at our potluck, Angela of Spinach Tiger brought some of her famous biscuits as well as this triple layer chocolate fudge cake and Phillip of Southern Fatty brought these delicious ginger beer cupcakes.

I’ve also made a really great Brussels sprouts salad (several times), some fantastic waffles, and a “cookie salad” (my contribution to the foodblogger potluck). Those are the recipes I plan to post soon (I hope).

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sesameoilI don’t consider myself a good cook, but I have spent some time around good cooks while they’re doing their thing, so I’ve picked up some really great tips over the years. One of the best things I’ve learned is to always have roasted sesame oil on hand. It can make some really ordinary foods really great and is helpful when you're in a time crunch for dinner because so much of what you can do with it is quick and easy. I will give you examples!

First, baby bok choy. You just add a little sesame oil and a dash of soy sauce into a bowl of baby bok choy, toss, and put on a baking sheet to roast at 400F. Cook until the leaves are crispy and brown and you have a great, tasty side dish. You can also do this with broccoli.

Next, green beans. This is a two-step process because you need to blanch your green beans before sauteeing. Bring a big pot of salted water to a boil, add a pound of green beans (stem ends removed) and boil for about two minutes, or until bright green. Then drain and immediately put them in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. While they’re cooling, add 1 tablespoon of sesame oil and 1 teaspoon of minced garlic to large saute pan and heat over medium until it becomes fragrant and hot (about 3-4 minutes). Add the beans and cook for about five minutes, stirring frequently. Add a splash of soy sauce at the end (or salt).

Finally, noodles. Get some thin udon or thing rice noodles or spaghetti (1/2 or 1 pound) and prepare as directed. Drain and remove to a bowl. Add 1-2 tablespoons (depending on the amount of noodles) and toss to spread evenly. Season with gomasio (sesame salt) or kosher salt and toasted sesame seeds plus garlic powder (use sparingly). I like using the gomasio because it adds some interest to the noodles.

I’m not ashamed to say that I could make a meal off these three things together (and maybe some dumplings). You can find toasted sesame oil (and gomasio) in the Asian section of the grocery or at the international market. Be sure the bottle indicates it’s toasted (should have an amber color, not gold). Sesame seeds should also be toasted (save the untoasted for buns). Sesame oil also great as a salad dressing by itself or in a vinaigrette.

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This potato salad is based on a recipe suggested to me by a Twitter friend who works for the group that publishes FarmFlavor.com, which is affiliated in part with the Tennessee Farm Bureau. The website is full of great, well-tested recipes with an emphasis on local and seasonal ingredients. It's got a nifty search engine that lets you search by meal type, theme, cooking method, or ingredient. So when I asked for favorite potato salad recipes, it wasn't hard for her to find this one. The original recipe calls for bacon, but she mentioned that she'd made it without and it was still very good.

And she was right; it's fantastic. Even better, I was already planning to use Yukon Gold potatoes and I could see that this would also be a good way to use the garlic scapes I'd just cut from my garden (though a couple of weeks later than I should have). Of course, you can make it as it appeared originally or use my recipe (with changes) below or get creative on your own. But do be sure to keep the lemon and basil; I think they were the key to making this potato salad unique and very tasty. It was so good that my mother-in-law asked for some of the leftovers!

ps--I decided to call it "Herb Garden Potato Salad" since I could actually use herbs grown in my own garden!

herb_garden_potato_salad

Herb Garden Potato Salad
adapted from FarmFlavor.com
serves 6-8

Ingredients:
3 pounds potatoes (we used Yukon gold, red and blue potatoes)
1 cups onion, finely chopped and lightly sauteed with a little olive oil
¼ cup fresh chives, finely minced
¾ cup fresh basil, chopped

Dressing:
½ cup mayonnaise
⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
⅓ cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons garlic scapes, finely minced
¾ teaspoon salt (I used smoked salt)
½ teaspoon ground black pepper

Place unpeeled potatoes in a large 5- to 8-quart pot. Cover with cold water and place over high heat. Cover pot and bring to a boil. Once water boils, remove cover, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until the potatoes are fork tender, about 15 to 25 minutes depending on size. Check frequently to prevent overcooking.

Drain potatoes and set aside to cool. Once potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut into bite-size pieces, about ½- to ¾-inch chunks, and place in large bowl. Add onion, chives and basil. Toss very gently to combine.

In a separate bowl, make the dressing: whisk together mayonnaise, oil, lemon juice, mustard, garlic scapes, salt and pepper. Pour the dressing over potato mixture and lightly toss with a large wooden spoon, taking care not to break too many potato chunks.

Chill in the refrigerator in a tightly covered container.