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Cookbook writing class in September – there’s still room.

 

Some books by Deborah Madison.


This September, as well as last, I’ll be teaching a class at the Santa Fe Photographic Workshop called Secret Ingredients for Cookbook Success.  It goes from Sept. l7-20 (not the 21st as given in a previous post) and is not only productive, but a lot of fun.  The class is small and there are still a few places left. It is especially for those who are just writing a first cookbook, and if the class is anything like last year’s, there will be all kinds of cookbooks.

The place is gorgeous (an old Carmelite nunnery) and the food is delicious.  And it is in  Santa Fe.  Come join!

You can learn more at https://santafeworkshops.com/workshop/secret-ingredients-for-cookbook-success.

 

Cooking with Confidence!

I recently did an on-line interview with Lisa King who has a blog called Cook with Confidence. It was great fun to do and if you’re at all unsure of yourself in the kitchen, I hope you’ll take a look.  The link to my piece is   https://cookwithconfidence.me/DeborahMadison, and Lisa’s site is cookwithconfidence.me.  It’s a worthwhile site and good work that she’s doing.

 

Thanksgiving Without the Turkey (but with so much else!)

Platter of Fall Fruit (photo by Laurie Smith)

For years I’ve been asked by news folks of various stripes to comment about what vegetarians can eat at Thanksgiving, and for as many years I’ve replied, ”Everything but the turkey.” Even when turkey is on the table, there’s bound to be a host of other foods, mostly seasonal vegetable dishes, that are just right for the vegetarian and everyone else at the table, too. Traditionally those sides so numerous that plates are heaped with them while the turkey makes up but a small portion.

And if you’re planning to make a Thanksgiving meal without the bird, what then? Here are some of the thoughts on that.

The first is to skip the mock turkey, unless you just absolutely love it.

The second is to make something that’s special to you and those at your table, something that you don’t make often because it’s too expensive or too time consuming, or maybe too rich. Such as? A wild mushroom lasagna (or any kind of lasagna, especially when made with fresh pasta.) Homemade ravioli are always welcome. Or a winter vegetable stew that brings together black lentils, root vegetables, pureed potatoes and a red wine sauce. You know what you like.

While you might choose to make menu with that special dish as the star, another way is to honor the holiday is to go for the groaning board approach, a big table loved with seasonal dishes. Now is when we’re excited about winter squash and sweet potatoes, or the appearance of corn meal or dried beans at the farmers market, or you home grown cache of Jerusalem artichokes, so you might just decide to indulge and have some of everything.

You could have everyone sit down and start off with a bowl of warming soup, then invite people to get up and help themselves to the bounty. Or just keep passing all those platters with someone designated to set them somewhere when they’ve gone around once.

Whatever approach you take, do invite others to participate in making the meal. They may just want to bring a favorite dish of their own, or help out in your kitchen, or show up with an extra pie or a bottle of wine.

Here are a few dishes I’m likely to serve, all of them can be found in my cookbooks. VCFE can for the most part, be the old or The New Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. I have to admit, it was hard to choose just these.

 

Possible Appteizers

White Bean, Sage, and Roasted Garlic Spread, VCFE

Savory Wild Rice Crepe-Cakes, Vegetable Literacy

Gourgere (Cheese Puffs), The Savory Way

 

Two Special Soups

Roasted Jerusalem Artichoke Bisque with Sunflower Sprouts, Vegetable Soups from Deborah Madison’s Kitchen

My Really Good Mushroom Soup, from the soup book, above

 

Three or Four Main Dish Possbilities

Braised Root Vegetables with Black Lentils and Red Wine Sauce, Local Flavors

Winter Squash Galette, VCFE – or another vegetable galette -there are more!

Butternut Squash Ravioli with Sage, VCFE or Mushroom Lasagna, VCFE

 

Some Possible Sides

Quince Compote or Spiced Quince and Cranberry Compote, The Savory Way

Asian Sweet Potatoes with Coconut Butter, Vegetable Literacy

An Over-the-Top Holiday Sweet Potato Gratin with Red Chile, The New VCFE

Warm Red Cabbage Salad with Pecans, VCFE and a different one in Vegetable Literacy

Wilted Greens with Crisped Bread Crumbs, VCFE

Celery Root and Potato Puree with Truffle Salt, VCFE

Provencal Winter Squash Gratin or Delicata Squash Rings, VCFE

Buttermilk Skillet Corn Bread with Heirloom Flint Cornmeal, Vegetable Literacy

 

Salad

Endive with Walnuts and Blue Cheese, VCFE

Shredded Radicchio with Walnut Vinaigrette, Vegetable Literacy

 

Dessert Possibilities

Steamed Persimmon Pudding, Local Flavors

Sweet Potato Flan with Maple Yogurt and Caramel Pecans, Vegetable Literacy

Indian Pudding (if you have an oven free for a few hours), Seasonal Fruit Desserts

Tangelo-Tangerine Pudding, Seasonal Fruit Desserts (a very light dessert)

 

And you don’t need a recipe to build a platter of fall fruits, nuts, chocolates and the like for people to munch on long after the table is cleared.

Happy Thanksgiving To All

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Generosity and Gratitude

A recipe from Marie Simmons book, Taste of Honey.

A recipe from Marie Simmons book, Taste of Honey.

 

Having neither parents nor children, and siblings who live 1000 miles away, I am sometimes ambivalent about Thanksgiving; it’s simply not a family event. But I do have a family of friends to celebrate with, and there is much to be thankful for.  It seems important to share a meal with others, to bring something if not many things to the table, and so we do. And it’s a pleasure.

This year I am especially struck by generosity of others, especially farmer and producers.

I just unpacked a large box that arrived from California. It was filled with Satsuma Mandarins, the very first of the season. This friend has sent us mandarins for many years. An email shows up in late November that says expect them in the next few days, and that’s it. They arrive. We eat four or five at a time so they don’t get a chance to spoil, we share them others, and we don’t get colds. They pleasure they give us is enormous.

A late freeze decimated my apple crop once again, but yesterday I made applesauce from a gift of apples that came from friends. I have made eight batches of applesauce that are now lying in snug little packets in my freezer, plus I’ve made a few tarts and galettes. A compote of dried plums rests in the refrigerator, a gift from the same couple. In my cupboard stands an elegant bottle of best balsamic vinegar I’ve ever tasted, which they also make and which I use, by the quarter teaspoon, as suggested.

Neighbors are dropping by and I’m serving them paparadelle with a ragout of grass fed beef and wild mushrooms. The beef is a gift from a rancher friend, the mushrooms from neighbors who brought them back from Italy. And, as it turns out, the tomatoes in the dish, red, dried and broken into pieces, are a gift from a friend who farms in upstate New York.  He also supplied the honey that will be used in a dessert of roasted Bosc pears, a recipe of Marie Simmons from her book, A Taste of Honey, that is a great gift indeed as it has become my favored winter dessert.

At breakfast we might have toast with exquisite blackberry jam, a gift from a farmer in California, or perhaps it will be a Yuzu marmelade, an equally exquisite delight from my sister-in-law. My brother’s olive oil graces out salads. And the list goes on, back through the year— cases of endive, packages of Sonoran wheat and Purple Tibetan Barley, a dozen Gillfeather turnips, a bottle of wine. But this isn’t  just about foods being given. I also feel that the foods I buy weekly at the farmers market are also gifts.

The thought of these many presents of food is humbling. The generosity of others is so big, I find myself wishing I had something that I grew enough of to gift others. (This may well become a goal to accomplish in 2015.) In the meantime, I am grateful for my friends and family for their generosity, for the hard-working producers of food and books, for good recipes, for wisdom, for foods born of hard work and sustained passion.

It’s all a gift and I will raise a special glass to all of you, strangers and friends alike, in gratitude on Thursday, this Thanksgiving.

Zuni Stew

 

Zuni Stew from The Greens Cookbook

In The Greens Cookbook there’s a recipe called “Zuni Stew.” It was inspired by my first trip to New Mexico in the l970s, but memory of the exact source has pretty much disappeared. I suspect it’s from either a book called Southwest Indian Cookbook by Marcia Keegan, or from The Pueblo Indian Cookbook by Phyllis Hughes, both books I bought on my first trip to New Mexico. In any event, my recipe had little to do with Zuni, or with Zuni dishes as described in either of those books. I had made changes to make it more lively and contemporary, and it proved to be a good and well-liked dish at Greens. But was it Zuni? Probably not so much. But then, what is today?

Recently I went to Zuni with the intention of looking at their waffle gardens. I had seen one at the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture in Santa Fe and it left me hungry to see more and talk to people who had experience gardening in them. By chance, an invitation came a few days later. There was going to be a health fair at Zuni and would I come and speak a bit? Of course, I would! So I drove to Zuni, where I met a lot of women involved in various government programs meant to insure or create paths to health. They were all at the Health Fair with tables of information and foods to taste. The WIC program, breast feeding support services, programs to combat diabetes, senior programs and one for teen health, healthy babies and a Zuni family preservation program were all represented. One group had designed a Jeopardy style program that the Zuni kids enthusiastically took part in. There were signs for non-competitive runs, walks, bike rides.  Gifts and rewards are given to attendees of anything health related, and it seems that the community shows up. They did that night. And I was given a handsome long-sleeved t-shirt that’s just perfect for the now cool mornings.

One sees large hornos (adobe ovens) throughout Zuni, as many as 3 to 5 in a yard. I was told the reason there were so many and that they were so large was because they were used for community feast days when they needed to cook a lot of food. There is one market and one restaurant that serves pizza, subs, hamburgers, surf and turf and enchiladas. A lone Boca burger is the most healthful option. There are no native foods on the menu. There’s no McDonalds or such, either in Zuni pueblo, but the kids apparently know and like fast food. So at the fair there were samples of alternatives to the high fat/sugar/soda offerings of the outside world. I tried a popsicle made with water and fruit that was extremely refreshing in that dry place, and also waters that were infused with fruit, in this case ample amounts of raspberries, strawberries , pineapple and such. They were eye-catching and delicious. I can easily imagine the appeal of lots of fruits, especially red ones.

An alternative to sugary carbonated drinks.

An alternative to sugary carbonated drinks.

A woman at the table devoted to combating diabetes was preparing strawberries with a topping of lightly sweetened low fat Greek yogurt. Everywhere the emphasis was on low fat or non-fat dairy and how to use USDA foods. There was but one table that showcased native foods through both a picture display of various native corn, squash and beans, the actual foods themselves, then three stews. The recipes weren’t exactly Zuni. I was told, but cobbled together from Lois Ellen Frank’s first book on native cooking of the Southwest. But they were food – real food. Delicious and light, or filling and robust stews that were based on beans, meat (in one), and various forms of corn were offered. My favorite was a corn and posole stew with sunflower sprouts. The fresh corn was cut into chunks; the sprouts were added at the end, and posole was another form of corn and the liquid was chicken broth, I believe from a box. There might have been onion in it — but whether it did or not, it was pretty, good to eat and very satisfying. I would have loved to have been able to orders such a soup at the restaurant. Or the infused waters. Or the fruit icicles.

Zuni Corn Stew

My doctor was, when I described it to her, very dismissive of the carbs. in the corn soup. They were the problem, as she saw it, with diets and food in general, especially in the pueblo communities. But I couldn’t help but think if these were the carbs. you ate, along with other traditional foods and pretty much only those, it would be indeed as nourishing as it tasted, and quite possibly, not a problem at all. Try making it fit with USDA provisions and modern American tastes, and it does get confusing and is problematic. I felt that the Zuni, among the loveliest, kindest, and most happy people I have met anywhere, are caught in the tensions between their traditions and the modern world.

As for the waffle gardens, I saw one. It was very small, sadly limited by the high cost of water. But in the museum there were some great depictions in a mural, and in movies made in the l920s, so in a way, I did see them. And more about them, later.

The Zucchini with Ribs

Costata Romanesco zucchini, whole and sliced.

Costata Romanesco is hands down my favorite zucchini.

I know that might sound strange, for zucchini isn’t the most interesting, vibrant, or glamorous of vegetables. Plus everyone likes to complain about how they have just way too much of it. I say to those lucky complainers, “You don’t have squash bugs, for if you did, you’d treasure each and every squash and blossom!” For some of us, the effort to grow zucchini means encounters with hoards of creepy grey bugs and the inevitable early death of one’s struggling plants. So if I’m going to open myself to squash bugs and anxiety over the early demise of my summer squash, then I’m going to grow a zucchini I get excited about.  And Costata Romanesco is it.

There are three things that are special about this old variety. Each squash has ribs, the ridges that run along the long body of each one. A little hard to capture in a photo until you slice them, then you can see them as the ruffled, sculptured edges of each round of squash. I think they look wonderfully fetching and are truly so when a mass of the rounds is jumbled together. It doesn’t matter whether you steam or sauté them, either, because they will taste good.

Another virtue of the Costata Romanesco is its density. Somehow, this variety is less watery and the texture more firm, which makes it a much more satisfying summer squash to eat than others.  Add to that the flavor, and you’re home. The flavor is, well, simply more squash-like. Some describe it as nutty. I think of it as down-to-earth. In any case,  it’s there, and it has real taste, which cannot always be said of more modern squash.

The Costata (meaning ribs) is an Italian heirloom. Lots of companies stock seed packets for this gem. (Johnny’s, High Mowing Organic Seeds, Sustainable Seed Company, Fedco).  Like many heirlooms, it doesn’t always produce as heavily as other zucchini, but the plants are big and robust and if you don’t want a glut of zucchini, why not choose the best and go with what it produces? Actually, I’ve always found that mine make plenty.

And one squash makes a a fast and neat little lunch for one.

 

One Zucchini Lunch

A One-Zucchino Lunch for One

Time required: about 4 minutes

1 7-inch Costata Romanesco squash

Sea salt

Good olive oil

Fresh herb, such as dill, basil, marjoram

Pine nuts

Freshly ground pepper

Lemon if you wish

 

Slice the squash crosswise  into rounds about ¼ inch thick or a little more if you like it heftier.

Steam over boiling water for about 3 minutes —taste to make sure it’s done enough for you.

Turn it out onto a plate or better, a shallow bowl.  Season with sea salt, a drizzle of good olive oil, some fresh herb, a few pine nuts, some pepper and a squeeze of lemon if you wish.

That’s it. Sit down and enjoy. Mop up the juices with a piece of bread.

 

And this is just the beginning. You might add halved Sun Gold tomatoes, thin shavings of Parmesan or aged Gouda cheese, a shower of very young arugula leaves, a slivered squash blossom —or just leave it as is.

Just Vegetables: Radicchio di Chioggia

 

Radicchio in the Garden

Radicchio in the Garden

At the store we just see the red heart in the center, but in the field we see the other leafy material that is part radicchio, too. The outer leaves, which are green, often lie open, the purple ones next tier in that are also somewhat opened, then finally there’s the tighter purple-red head in the center, looking something like a cabbage, only smaller. Radicchio, however, is not a cabbage, but a chicory, closer kin to lettuce, Jerusalem artichokes, and salsify —all members of the daisy, or aster family, Asteraceae.  All of the plants in this family produce flowers that are daisy like in form. During the summer radicchio doesn’t look so interesting in my garden, but the minute the weather turns cool, it starts to turn that seductive dark purple red that makes it irresistible. As dramatic as radicchio is in a salad, I adore it when it’s seared in a skillet and covered with Gorgonzola or another blue cheese. As it’s color fades to brown, its flavor swells and sweetens. I add the cheese once the wedges have been turned then let it Oakley Sunglasses cheap soften and ooze into the leaves. Freshly cracked pepper finishes the dish and maybe a little splash of aged red wine vinegar.  It’s the winter food I eat often and adore each time I do.

 

 

Seared Radicchio with Blue Cheese                                    for 2, or even 1

 

1 head of radicchio di Chioggia (about the size of a grapefruit)

Olive oil

Slices or small chunks of blue cheese

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

 

Cut the radicchio into 6 or 8 wedges, keeping them joined at the base so they don’t fall apart. But even if they do, don’t  hesitate to use them.

Coat a cast iron skillet or grill pan with olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the wedges of radicchio and season with them with salt. With the pan being hot but the heat only medium-high, cook until the wedges are browned on the bottom, then turn, adding a little more oil if needed and another few http://www.oakleyonorder.com/ pinches of salt. Lay the cheese over the top, season with freshly ground pepper, and cover the pan. Cook until the leaves are browned all the way through and the cheese has softened, a matter of a few minutes. Remove to a plate and eat as is, or with a dash of vinegar.  You can eat this over polenta, too, or with pasta, and it’s delicious paired with roasted winter squash.