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simply sunday, and spoonbread

May 29th, 2012 | 1 Comment »

There are those days that beg for nothing at all; you know which ones I mean- vacation days of sand between your toes, gazing over azure water under a floppy hat, or ones spent in crazy fun activity with family, day trips of time on the road, the ribbon of concrete slipping away under your tires while you watch the landscape woosh by you. We’ve had them. We need them.

One recent Sunday was like that. The house emptied out early, before my mind was even fully awake and I sipped coffee, feet tucked under me in a big cozy chair, book in lap and content kitties napping near by. After a few days of record May heat and intense sunshine, the weather gave way to a thick continual mist and wind-whipped trees. I stepped outside briefly to see if it was worthy of even trying to take a walk, and my hair flew around my head, smacking me in the eye like a mischievous pony. Turning back to the patio door, I saw one cat lift it’s head and stare at me, as if to say ‘What ARE you doing out there??’ I really had no answer.

Back inside, another coffee in hand, I was hungry, and craving something with rhubarb but wanting more than a coffee cake, better than a muffin. Serendipitously, I sleepily browsed my blog reader, and suddenly, a gorgeous Rhubarb Spoonbread jumped out at me, thanks to Autumn, of Autumn Makes and Does. I’ve been reading Autumn’s blog for a few months now, and whoa…. you should too. I’m pretty sure it will make you sigh in happiness at least once or twice. We all could use those moments, right? Where we sigh with joy over something delicious?? Yes. Yes, we do.

I managed to haul myself off the chair long enough to pull together the ingredients for this delight, savoring the fact that I’d stocked away baggies full of fresh rhubarb in the freezer, JUST for a moment like this one. {{high five, self!}} And with a few minutes under cold running water, those luscious red cubes were good to go. The oven sparked to life in that affirming way that chases gray, rainy days away; as the pan cooked, the kitchen filled with it’s inviting scent, tickling my already empty belly, teasing in it’s delicious way. That sound, the woosh of flame igniting seems to bring a grounding for me. I waited patiently for the spoon bread, browsing magazines, and the piles of recipes culled from a thousand sources and soon, all I wanted to do was cook.

That may not sound simple at all, but it is, to me. It’s what pulls together all the fibers of who I am that get scattered in my days away from the kitchen. When our food storage containers are stuffed in the drawer and not in the fridge, I feel like something is missing, and with all this inspiration around me, in blogs and websites and magazines, it doesn’t take much to make it all come together. Maybe all I needed was a spoon bread, an empty house with quiet jazz from the speakers and a misty morning of oven humming and hot coffee.

Like Autumn, I’m not sure why I haven’t explored spoon breads more often. Oh, right; Mike doesn’t eat eggs. Ah well, too bad for him. This was a perfect custard-y bread, sweet and tangy at the same time and dug out warm from the pan, drizzled with good maple syrup and eaten, tucked back in to that cozy chair, and more coffee steaming from the table next to me. It was much, much more than I had imagined for my day when I opened my eyes that morning, or as I stood briefly  in the mist outside, thinking maybe it hadn’t been so worth getting up in the first place. But a spoonbread, warm from the oven, set me upright even with the dull low clouds outside.

And this spoon bread, well, it’s perfect for a savory snack, with maple syrup {although a good dousing of heavy cream isn’t bad at all} and of course, it makes an easy dessert, warm, again, and topped with vanilla ice cream, a scoop of yogurt or possibly maple-sweetended mascarpone cheese. Oh sigh, and sigh again {{see? again with the sighing, and so soon!!}} Something simple, on a blustery, misty day never tasted so good, in so many ways.

Rhubarb Spoonbread

Ingredients

  • 6.5 oz (about 2 cups) rhubarb, sliced about 1/4 thick
  • 2.5 oz (1/3 cup) sugar (I used organic cane sugar)
  • 2 T maple syrup (preferably grade B), plus more for drizzling
  • 4.5 oz (1 cup) yellow cornmeal
  • 2 t baking powder
  • 1/4 t baking soda
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 3 T butter, preferrably unsalted
  • 3 eggs

Cooking Directions

  1. Place chopped rhubarb, maple syrup, and sugar in a small bowl. Stir together and set aside while you gather the remaining ingredients and complete the following steps.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400.
  3. Place the butter in an 8 x 8 inch square pan and put the pan in the pre-heating oven.
  4. Whisk together the cornmeal, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Make a well in the center. Add the eggs, but do not stir, set aside.
  5. Check on the butter. Take it out of the oven when it’s completely melted. Allow the oven to continue preheating.
  6. Now, stir the eggs into the cornmeal mixture and add the buttermilk. Stir briskly until completely combined.
  7. Swirl the butter around the hot pan and pour any excess into the batter. Stir to combine.
  8. Stir the rhubarb sugar mixture into the batter and pour into the buttered 8 x 8 pan. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the center no longer jiggles.
  9. Serve warm drizzled with more maple syrup.
Recipe printed in it’s entirety from Autumn, of Autumn Makes and Does. The only thing I did different was bake it in a 4-qt pyrex baking dish.

instagram friday

May 25th, 2012 | 1 Comment »

My friend Mary, the talented photographer behind White Peach Photography, and the kind and giving heart who gifted Clara to me has a feature on her blog called Instagram Friday where she highlights her week through her Instagram stream. Last week, in her Facebook post about it, I mentioned that I would love to do my own Instagram Friday post, but jokingly said that I’d have to do something interesting first. My Instagram feed isn’t always the most exciting of my social networks.

But this past week, I took a closer look at what I was doing, and started capturing a lot more images of daily life besides the ubiquitous cats. And with that, my own Instagram Friday evolved.

 {{rhubarb spoon bread…. recipe coming soon!}}

{{I discovered the magic of Diptic, a photo grouping app on the iPhone}}

{{nacho night due to excessive tortilla chips in house}}

{{spider season is back…. this is our garage after dark- a suburban horror story of macabre and bloodlust}}

{{Eli in the garden, his favorite spot to snooze away the day}}

What else have I discovered this week??

 

This cake. Gah.

A sandwich for Spring.

Perfect treats for the upcoming HOT weather.

Breakfast Extraordinaire

A meatless wonder burger

HAVE A WONDERFULLY ENJOYABLE AND RELAXING WEEKEND!

white bean ragout

May 23rd, 2012 | 1 Comment »

I’ve been phenomenally absorbed by Tamar Adler’s An Everlasting Meal. I’ve barely even gotten through half of it because I read, re-read, underline, contemplate, read AGAIN and then think about it like my very life depends on those words filling every pore in my body. Have you read it? If you love food, and you love simple, easy, good food, I strongly encourage you to pick it up, but be warned….. this book could change the way you cook and I urge you to own it so you can really enjoy the prose, the story, the thoughtful way that Tamar looks at the very things that sustain us.

I’m grateful to this book too, as it came to me through a renewed relationship with an old friend from high school. Connecting on Facebook, even though she lives in Brussels, Belgium, we’ve exchanged many emails about food, and her quest for some information on what constitutes ‘good’ olive oil led to a long discussion about this book. A few days later, the book itself arrived on my doorstep, courtesy of this friendship, and now I know why Barbara was so moved by it.

Tamar’s philosophy about food is utterly simple. It doesn’t have to be complex in the least, and she states this over and over again, through every chapter, rich with descriptives of meals so ridiculously simple that it honestly could inspire even the most timid home cook to become brazen in their own kitchen. The chapter on beans gave me more to think about regarding the humble legume than I’d ever imagined, and was the inspiration when along came a day where a simmering pot of beans just seemed like the thing to do.

Simple and fulfilling meals have always been my most favorite. I don’t mind fancy eating, once in a great while, but my start on food was a humble beginning, and I’ve lived through some seasons where there just wasn’t enough on the table. I’m not particular about my food, either. I’ll eat most anything I’m served and I’m grateful for it, as the memories of hunger will always remain within me. To me, a pot of beans is a thing of beauty; savory without a lot of work, filling without heft, satisfying like an old friend. It’s soul {filling} food, that which makes you just feel good. Although I do enjoy the long process, on occasion, that a dried bean requires for preparation, I keep on hand a wide variety of canned beans, and in a pinch, these have saved dinner, lunch and even breakfast from mediocrity. A good time simmering and they become so creamy soft and perfect. With a loaf of chewy bread, it’s royalty on a plate, by way of a peasant’s wage.

White Bean Ragout

2 large onions, minced fine
1 bell pepper, minced fine
3-4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 medium tomatoes
2 15-oz cans Great Northern white beans, or Cannellini
2 c. vegetable broth
1/2 c. chopped fresh parsley and basil (I don’t recommend subbing in dried)
1/2 c. shredded fresh parmesan cheese
Baguette slices

First, we’ll roast those tomatoes. Slice each one in to quarters, remove the tough core and place on a baking sheet. Heat the oven to 400°. Drizzle the tomato wedges generously with good olive oil, and sprinkle with a bit of sea salt and fresh cracked pepper. Place in the oven and roast until the skins blacken slightly and get all puffy, but not to the point of collapse. You want some heft left in them. Allow them to cool slightly, discard the skins and gently lift them in to a small bowl. Any oil remaining on the pan can be scraped in to the bowl as well.

As the tomatoes roast, heat a large, deep skillet and add oil of choice. Saute the onions and bell pepper, stirring occasionally, for about 25-30 minutes, or until they are very, very soft. Add in the sliced garlic and continue to cook for about 15 more minutes. Don’t allow the vegetables to brown too much. A little is good. Sprinkle them with sea salt and some cracked pepper.

Take the tomatoes and add them to the pan, breaking them up with a spoon. Make sure you add all the juice and oil that’s accumulated too. That’s delicious. Stir in the beans and add the broth. Allow the mixture to simmer, gently, stirring it on occasion, until the broth is thickened and the beans are nice and creamy. If it seems to get too dry and/or sticks to the pan, add more liquid, like broth, or even water. Taste for salt and pepper, adding more if you wish. Add a few tablespoons of shredded parm to the vegetables.

Sprinkle the baguette slices with more parmesan and either broil or toast in a toaster oven until browned and crispy. Alternately, you can grill the bread too, adding the parm when the bread is slightly charred and hot. Place your toasted bread on a plate and scoop the beans over them, making sure to drizzle the liquid on as well. Top with more parm and the fresh herbs. Serve warm, or at room temperature.

Recipe origin: Bon Appetit magazine, May 2012; here with adaptations

unconventional fried rice

May 21st, 2012 | 2 Comments »

A really good bowl of perfect fried rice is one of my most favorite things to consume. Any restaurant with it on the menu sets it’s yardstick by how good their fried rice tastes, and with one bite I’m either over the moon or sadly disappointed. A matchless bowl will have the ultimate combination of firm grains of rice, a deep rich flavor from the wok and enough extras to make good flavor without sacrificing the overall taste of the dish.

I’ve made fried rice at home on occasion, and always with the caveat that my wok will never replicate that of a good restaurant. I enjoy it for what it is from my own kitchen and don’t expect perfection. Especially if I stray from a standard method and go off on my own path.

I’m like that as a cook, anyway. I’m not one to follow a crowd and stick to something tried and true. I like to push myself with my food and try many different means to fill my belly. My unconventional means to a steaming bowl of fried rice started with roasting a few pans of vegetables and ended up with a decent rendition for dinner that everyone enjoyed.

The best beginning to any fried rice is always cold, cooked rice. A few cups of that, along with any variety of vegetables and a hot pan and you’ve got what you need. My version had edamame, roasted cauliflower and carrots in it, plus the remains of some shredded lacinato kale that I had on hand. True proponents of fried rice likely would shake their heads at this combination, but that’s me, in a nutshell. Improvising is my strongest tool when it comes to cooking. There are many days that I stand, pantry doors open, fridge ajar, my mind churning with possibilities, and learning to utilize what’s on hand is a skill worthy of any home cook.

Plus? This was utterly delicious.

Roasted Vegetable Fried Rice

1 pkg frozen Edamame pods
1 head cauliflower, washed and cut to bite sized pieces
1/2# carrots, washed and sliced on a bias
1 c. shredded lacinato kale (or other greens, like spinach or chard)
2-3 cloves of garlic, finely minced
1 T. minced fresh ginger
4 c. cold cooked rice
2-3 T. sesame oil
Soy sauce to taste
Fresh squeezed lime juice (optional, but delicious!)
Sesame seeds for garnish (also optional, also delicious)
Peanut or coconut oil for frying. (You want an oil that will withstand the high heat needed in this dish. I don’t recommend using olive oil for fried rice as it breaks down at high heat.)

Cook Edamame according to package directions, cool and remove from the pods. Heat oven to 400°.

Roast cauliflower and carrots on separate baking sheets, as they will need different times to cook completely. Toss them in a bit of oil, salt and pepper prior to placing in the oven, and roast them to desired tenderness.

In a wok, or large skillet, heat a small amount of oil. When hot and shimmering, add the ginger and garlic and quickly stir for about 30 seconds. Add the rice and stir to combine, breaking up the clumps. Stir and toss the rice until it’s nice and hot, the drizzle about a tablespoon of sesame oil around the edge of the pan and stir the rice with the oil. Add in the vegetables and stir to heat through. Drizzle with soy sauce and a good squeeze of fresh lime juice. (the zest is really nice too!) Add a bit more sesame oil and a few tablespoons of sesame seeds, if you have them. Stir together to combine until it’s all nice and hot. Serve topped with more sesame seeds.

life lately, in pictures

May 15th, 2012 | 2 Comments »

Spring time is glorious, isn’t it?

Even those intense spring thunderstorms when the sky turns black and the rain comes in torrents, blocking out everything.

{{photo from the StarTribune website. This is the St Paul Cathedral on May 3rd}}

I so love this time of year, when the air is sweet with growth and flowers bloom in abundance, as it’s just about the best that the Earth has to offer. We’ve had a lot of rain recently, which was desperately needed and it has brought out the greenery in droves. My garden is going crazy with both flowers, and weeds.

What else has been going on??

Griffin turned 18 last month, and graduates next month. Yipes. He applied for a passport for a Missions trip he is taking in August. Big growth for my guy. And lots of good ideas on the horizon. I’m pretty proud of that young man.

I took a day recently and spent it at our lake home, quietly watching the water, reading lazily through magazines and taking in the fresh, warm air. I took a few photos there too.

I discovered a USDA certified organic farm only a few miles from our house. I’m incredibly excited to have such a wonderful resource for good vegetables so close to home. From my first visit, I got zucchini, radish, and tomato plants. Then I made a pizza.

Ok, I made A LOT of pizza. We had a week’s worth of really delicious, crusty, chewy and amazing pizza.

All because I received the new pizza cookbook from Jeffrey Hertzberg and Zoe Francois. Super easy pizza dough you make, then store in your fridge, pulling out a ball of it as needed. I did enjoy the results, for the most part.

More garden shots……

Those last two were thrown in merely for the “Awwwwww” factor.

WHAT’S BEEN GOING ON IN YOUR LIFE LATELY??

on second chances (and a giveaway)

May 10th, 2012 | 16 Comments »

There are plenty of food items, when given a second chance (ok, and sometimes a third or fourth) will reveal much more to your palate than they did on the initial try. Every time I hear of someone disliking a specific food, I ask them how many times they’ve eaten it, how it was prepared or where they had it or any number of questions to determine what they don’t like about it. I always want to know the whys and hows and whats of someone’s intense aversion to a certain food.

When I first met Mike, he told me he did not like salmon. Not one bit. When pressed for more information, he revealed that when he’d eaten it, it was tough in texture (definitely overcooked) and tasted fishy (definitely not very fresh) and so I made him a salmon dinner one night of a terrific piece of fresh salmon that was perfectly cooked. I hooked him for life, pun intended. A poorly prepared food item can be a real turn off. For the longest time as a kid, I absolutely hated pork due to it being overcooked and tough as nails. Once I tasted the beauty of perfectly cooked pork, tender and succulent, I was reformed.

A lot of times, if it isn’t the way it’s cooked then it’s the texture. This was true of my tastes for a very long time. And almost all of the foods that I once disliked as a child, and even in to adulthood have now made themselves a permanent space in my life. Foods such as tomato, onion, squash of all kinds, eggplant, mushrooms…. this list is all about texture. And my initial introduction to Buckwheat groats, also known as Kasha, turned me off due to the texture as well. But the second glance, with a better cooking method in hand and some quick innovation in the kitchen, I turned this healthy grain into a mind-blowing salad that I can’t wait to make again.

As a singular food item, I’m still not enthralled with kasha, but I think that alone, this grain is pretty uninspiring. That all changes when mixed together with others, kind of like that quiet and unassuming person who comes alive in the right crowd. Kasha grains are tiny, heart-shaped and solid, similar to barley grains, with a sweet, nutty flavor and a nice chewy texture. Buckwheat groats are a potent nutritional item, with no cholesterol, sodium or saturated fat. It’s high in fiber and magnesium, with a low glycemic index.  Mixed with shredded kale, dressed lightly in a simple oil & vinegar dressing and dusted with sea salt and cracked pepper, the grains added a perfect complement to kale’s crunchy personality. Chunks of tofu, seared crisp after a curry bath marinade, made for eye-catching color and a protein boost.

I was a little concerned that this salad would be a bit light, lacking the substance needed to fuel a body’s needs through the day, or evening, but after consuming a small plate of it, I was surprisingly full, and that satiation lasted until bedtime, and beyond. A small portion for lunch the next day easily carried me through the remainder of work too.

And speaking of second chances……

This delightful 4-cup Bodum Assam Teapot needs a new home. Do you love tea? I drink a lot of tea, and have a somewhat shocking collection of it in a cupboard. I also have a smaller Bodum Teapot that doesn’t get used as much as I would like. So this one could be yours, all for the sake of a comment. Tell me what kind of tea you like to drink, hot or cold or whatever, and you’ll  have a chance. I will pick one name on Sunday May 13th.

And now, how about that recipe??

Kasha with Kale and Curried Tofu

1 pkg extra firm tofu, drained and cut in to cubes
2 T. curry powder
1/4 c. olive oil
1 c. raw buckwheat groats (available at co-ops)
2 c. water
Sea salt and fresh cracked pepper
1 pkg Cut N Clean Greens Rainbow Kale Salad (with or without the dressing- which can be used in lieu of a vinaigrette)
About a half cup of your favorite vinaigrette recipe, or similar bottled version
Crushed peanuts, optional (but a delicious and crunchy addition)

In a small skillet, begin toasting the buckwheat groats over medium-low heat. Have the water ready in a separate lidded pan. As the buckwheat begins to heat up and you start to smell a nice nutty scent, start the water heating. Continue toasting the buckwheat, shaking the pan to avoid scorching, while the water heats up. When the water begins boiling, carefully start shaking the toasted groats in to the water. They will sizzle and the water will steam up as you add the groats, so don’t dump them all at once, just a small amount at a time. Once they are all in the boiling water, reduce the heat to a bare simmer, cover the pan and cook the groats for about 15 minutes. The water should be completely absorbed and the top of the groats will look dry. Shut off the heat and allow the pan to sit for 10 minutes, then fluff the grain carefully.

In a small measuring cup, whisk the curry powder and olive oil together. Pour over cubed tofu and toss to coat. The tofu will soak up all the marinade. Allow to soak for about a half hour. (this is a good time to cook those groats) Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add a drizzle of olive oil. Sear the tofu to your desired browning. Place on paper towels to absorb any excess oil, and set aside.

Place rainbow kale in a large bowl and drizzle some of the vinaigrette over it. How much depends on your taste. I like a lightly dressed salad, but you may like a bit more. Add in the groats, about a cup at a time as you may not want all of it in the salad. Toss, taste, season and add more groats until you have a nice balance of kale and grain. Taste, add more vinaigrette or salt and pepper if needed, then gently add in the tofu and crushed peanuts, if using.

The salad can be eaten at room temperature, and the flavor deepens overnight in the fridge. Taste the next day to see if it needs more vinaigrette, salt or pepper. The kale and grains will absorb that overnight.

honey-soy glazed vegetables with crispy mushrooms

May 5th, 2012 | 2 Comments »

Saturday mornings are my sacred time. I rise early, with eager cats who think that the moment the birds start singing is ripe for raising their own voices, stirring the humans awake. I try to ignore Eli’s little ‘meeps’ while he negotiates the bed as light barely filters through the blind, but I can’t ignore his 16-lb frame when he steps on my head. It’s fine when all this happens around 7am in January. In May, at the prime hour of 5am, it’s a different story. But it’s his job and we respect that. Thank goodness for coffee.

And Saturday is my time. Mike rises six days a week with those critters (God bless that man) but on Saturday, he sleeps like a teenager, often until the unlikely hour of 9 or 10. It’s good for him, and those quiet moments of early sunrise, with coffee and a purring cat, are moments that are good for me. The patio door is open (though not in January) the birds sing-song chorus is cheerful, the coffee is super strong just as I like it and I have oceans of time to scan my blog reader, catch up on email or even a show on Hulu if I want. I’m often selfish with time; I like some that’s all mine, that I don’t need to share with anyone. I like being introspective, quiet and alone sometimes and these Saturday mornings are perfect for that.

I almost didn’t want to post this recipe. It was an utter ‘Hail Mary’ moment, a substitution of this for that, swapping one method for another and done in a haste that I’m almost embarrassed about. I had a small bag of fresh shiitake mushrooms, a plan and a time frame and every bit of it slipped away in the chaotic way that life takes charge and suddenly I was faced with a ‘Now or never’ option before the mushrooms became a slippery mass in their bag, and I punted blind.

The first bite to my mouth was almost interrupted by my heart pounding so badly that it nearly cut off my ability to swallow. I set some pretty high standards for myself, and no one is really holding that yardstick up to me, but me. I think I know what I’m doing; I think I can look at a recipe and recreate it in my head to be more about what I like to eat. And almost all of the time, when I head blind in to a dish, swapped out of someone else’s work, I do really well with it. It’s when I don’t trust my gut instincts and follow a recipe step by step, with all the ingredients in line like regimented soldiers that I trip up over my own indecision and end up tossing the whole thing on the compost heap.

Why do we sell ourselves short? We all do it, for one area of our lives or another. We can talk ourselves out of anything, refute the praise sent our way, shake our heads and frown at a compliment, and in our heads we make it seem so completely right, as in ‘Everyone does it and I’m not that great’. But here’s the thing: we ARE that great. We deserve those compliments and when they come, when praise rains down we shouldn’t turn from it, we should bask in it. It doesn’t mean we’re egotistical. It means something much more than that.

At my age I should think I know who I am, what I am capable of, what I enjoy eating and what I really don’t like any longer, and I SHOULD be able to rearrange a recipe without hand-wringing and self-doubt. I’m good at my craft; God gave me a gift and a skill set, and every time I stop my forward momentum and start scratching at my chin, all wrapped up in anxiety as I second guess myself, I’m portraying to Him that I don’t trust Him one bit.

Ephesians 2:10
“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do”

{{I’m not here to ask, or even expect that you share my beliefs, and if you don’t,
please respect our differences as I kindly ask that you keep that to yourself}}

This very act of disavowing God’s gifts to us was discussed in a sermon in my church several months back and it sank in to my heart like a stone and settled there, and now, with conviction, every time I raise my own voice against myself, I hear His coming back to me. This is my gift, and this is HIS gift to me and I trust in Him with all my heart. It goes without saying that He is not one to retract a gift due to some misaligned belief. “Oh whoops, sorry. Those skills were meant for someone ELSE. NOT you!” He just doesn’t work in that manner. I can trust in my gifts as I trust in Him. And whether you believe or not, your specific type of faith is irrelevant. We all have amazing gifts that we can be proud of, that we can own 100% regardless of where we feel they come from. Acknowledging them is a truth that we should never deny ourselves. We don’t need belief in God for that to happen; just faith in ourselves.

And with this recipe, in my rushed state to prepare this, without a whole great plan of exactly HOW it was going to be done, like I said, I punted blind and should have just told that quickened heartbeat to ‘Shush!’ as I raised my fork. I know that I’m good enough at my craft to make this dish amazing.

Because the end result was delicious, and it was exactly like I expected it to be. And those crispy Shiitake mushrooms? What an amazing taste and crunch. I should prepare them that way just as a snack, drenched and dredged and seared to a golden crackle. I had to shoot the photos, taste the finished product and just as quickly as all that was completed, pack it away and race out the door to one of those life moments that you simply can’t miss. So I need to make this again, with time to savor and enjoy the process, the gift and the fruits of the Earth and rejoice in what I’ve been given.

Do you ever find that you second guess yourself, or you dismiss praise, or shake off a compliment??
What do you feel are your own unique gifts?? 
 
 

Honey-Soy Glazed Vegetables
with Crispy Mushrooms

1/2 lb Shiitake mushrooms, stems removed
1 bunch Gold Beets, with greens; trimmed, peeled and cut to bite size pieces. Greens rinsed and set aside
1 small head Cauliflower, washed and cut to bite size pieces
1 bunch Radishes, trimmed and halved
1/4 c. honey
2 T. soy sauce
1 T. fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 T. molasses
2 T. water
1 package Asian Rice Crackers, pulverized (I placed these in a large plastic bag and whacked at them with a rolling pin)

Heat your oven to 400°. Whisk the honey, soy sauce and lemon juice together and set aside. In a separate small bowl, whisk the molasses and water together and set that aside as well.

Toss beets with oil of choice, salt and pepper to taste and place on a large baking sheet. Separately, prepare cauliflower and radishes in the same manner but place on a separate sheet as they will cook at a different rate than the beets. Place both sheet pans in the oven and roast until beginning to become tender when pierced with a fork. Remove the pans from the oven and drizzle the honey-soy mixture evenly between the two pans. Stir the vegetables to coat, place back in the oven and continue to roast, stirring often, until the sauce caramelizes and the vegetables become very tender. This timing will depend on your oven and the size to which you cut the vegetables. Be sure to watch them rather carefully, as the honey in the sauce can scorch.

When veggies are done to your liking, place them in a large bowl and sprinkle about 1/4 cup of the pulverized rice crackers over them, tossing lightly to coat.

Heat a heavy skillet (cast iron if you’ve got it) with about 1/4″ of an oil that will withstand a high dose of heat, like coconut or grapeseed. Toss the shiitake mushroom caps in the molasses mixture, then coat them with the crushed rice crackers. Carefully place them, cap down in the heated oil and fry until crisp, about 5 minutes. Drain them on paper towels until cool enough to handle, then slice them in to strips.

Spoon the glazed vegetables on to plates, then top with the sliced mushrooms. Sprinkle the dish with any remaining crushed rice crackers and serve. This tasted divine served just slightly above room temperature.

KATE’S NOTES:
In my haste and scattered-ness over this recipe, I completely forgot to add the greens to the dish. They can be sauteed until tender in the skillet, just before you sear the shiitake mushrooms. I will definitely make that addition next time this dish comes through my kitchen.