Market Fresh: Russian Zucchini Dill Casserole

This is another Kazakh/Russian dish. My husband didn’t love this one as much as I did. I liked the flavors and textures together a lot! It is healthy and hearty. Dill is such a big part of many of the Kazakh dishes I’ve enjoyed. I will be growing it in my garden this year for sure!

RUSSIAN ZUCCHINI DILL CASSEROLE
adapted from Cooking for Kaz: Meals for Hope, Volume 2
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6 zucchini, sliced
3 med. carrots, peeled & chopped
2 c. onion, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
2 Tb. tomato paste
 3 T. fresh parsley, chopped
 2 Tb. fresh dill, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
2 c. tomato juice
¾ tsp. sugar
1 ½ Tb. cider vinegar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large skillet or dutch oven, sauté carrots in water or vegetable stock over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes. Add the onion, celery, and zucchini and sauté, stirring, until all the vegetables are starting to tenderize.

Stir in the tomato paste and sauté for 3-4 minutes more. Remove from heat and stir in the parsley and dill. Mix the tomato juice with the sugar, vinegar, salt, and pepper. Stir this mixture in as well and just bring to a boil. Pour the mixture into a flat-bottomed heatproof casserole that will accommodate the entire amount. Bake in the oven until tender – about 40 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley before serving if desired.

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Off the Shelf: March Magazine Reviews

Cooking Light (Stephanie): Usually I either love Cooking Light, or I’m disappointed by it. This month, though, I felt so-so about it. A few recipes jumped off the pages for me: Black Bean Hummus, Meyer Lemon Curd Tart, Tropical Sherbet, Chicken Souvlaki Pitas with Tahini Sauce. But most of the other recipes were just kind of forgettable.

I decided to try the Vegetable Korma as Jeremy likes Indian food and I haven’t been very proactive about making it in my own kitchen. The dish was good, but not quite as flavorful as either of us expected. The dish definitely needed some salt and maybe if I’d added a little curry powder, it might have packed more punch. I used chickpeas in place of the edamame, mostly because if we’re eating a meatless meal, chickpeas rank high on Jeremy’s preferred protein list. It was good and something I might make again, but with a little tweaking.

VEGETABLE KORMA
(from Cooking Light March 2011)
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1 1/2 Tbsp butter
1 c. chopped onion
1 Tbsp minced peeled ginger
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground red pepper
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
1 c. frozen shelled edamame
1 12-oz baking potato, peeled and diced
1 c. chicken broth
1 tsp flour
1 13.5-oz can light coconut milk
3 c. cauliflower florets
2 c. hot cooked rice

Melt butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion, and saute for 2 minutes. Add 1 Tbsp ginger and garlic; saute for 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Stir in tomato paste and spices; saute for 1 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in edamame and potato. Combine chicken broth, flour, and milk, stirring until smooth. Add broth mixture to pan , and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in 3 c. cauliflower, and simmer for 9 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Serve over rice. Makes 4 servings.

Bon Appetit (Stephanie): Bon Appetit was filled with lots of great sounding  recipes, many of which I hope to make. Potato and Yam Soup with Bacon and Spinach; Pork and Lemongrass Meatballs in Lettuce Cups; Roasted Pears with Blackberries, Ricotta, and Lavender Sugar; Savoy Cabbage Rolls with Halibut, Browned Butter and Capers Espresso Pound Cake with Cranberries and Pecans. Don’t these sound amazing?!

But my pantry supplies dictated that those recipes would have to wait until a later date. Chocolate Puddings with Orange Whipped Cream won out for my recipe testing. It came together very quickly (besides the 3 hours for cooling in the fridge, of course). Now I don’t have any orange liqueur, but the recipe suggested Kahlua or amaretto as alternatives. So I dolloped Kahlua whipped cream on my chocolate pudding. I think the best chocolate pudding I’ve ever eaten. Delicious!

CHOCOLATE PUDDINGS WITH ORANGE WHIPPED CREAM
(from Bon Appetit March 2011)
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1/2 c. + 3 Tbsp sugar, divided
2 Tbsp cornstarch
2 1/2 c. whole milk, divided
2 large egg yolks
1 1/2 c. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 c. chilled whipping cream
1 Tbsp Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur (or Kahlua or amaretto)
1/4 tsp finely grated orange peel (omit if using a different liqueur)

Whisk 1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp sugar, cornstarch, and 1/4 tsp salt in a saucepan to blend. Add 1/2 cup milk and egg yolks; whisk until smooth. Whisk in remaining 2 cups of milk. Bring mixture to a boil over medium/high heat, whisking constantly. Boil 1 minute, whisking constantly. Remove pan from heat; add chocolate chips and butter. Whisk pudding until melted and smooth. Stir in vanilla.

Divide pudding evenly among 6 dessert cups. Place plastic wrap directly onto surface of each, covering pudding completely. Chill at least 3 hours.

Beat whipping cream, liquer, zest, 1 Tbsp sugar until peaks form. Dollop whipped cream on puddings.

Cook’s Illustrated (Alaina): One magazine I have not reviewed often (or maybe ever?!) is Cook’s Illustrated. It is a fabulous magazine! My gift subscription is just coming to an end and I will be sad for that. The recipes are amazing, the product & brand reviews are excellent, and the articles & technique explanations are incredibly understandable and helpful. The magazine contains fewer recipes than most cooking magazines but the recipes are well chosen and you know they will turn out well.

They included Whole-Wheat Sandwich Bread, Boston Cream Pie, and Spaghetti with Mushrom and Tomato Sauce among other delicious-looking recipes. I decided to try the snow peas. There was an article on how to use them and several variations to make a wonderful side dish. They were so good!

SAUTEED SNOW PEAS W/LEMON & PARSLEY
Cook’s Illustrated, March/April 2011
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1 Tb. vegetable oil
1 small shallot, minced (about 2 Tb.)
1 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
Salt & Pepper
1/8 tsp. sugar
3/4 lb. snow peas, tips pulled off and strings removed
1 Tb. minced fresh parsley leaves

Combine 1 tsp oil, shallot, and lemon zest in small bowl. Combine 1/4 tsp. salt, 1/8 tsp. pepper, and sugar in second small bowl.

Heat remaining 2 tsp. oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over high heat until just smoking. Add snow peas, sprinkle with salt mixture, and cook, without stirring, 30 second. Stir and continue to cook, without stirring, 30 seconds longer. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, until peas are crisp-tender, 1 to 2 minutes longer.

Push peas to sides of skillet; add shallot mixture to clearing and cook, mashing with spatula, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Toss to combine shallot mixture with vegetables. Transfer peas to bowl and stir in lemon juice and parsley. Season with salt and pepper, and serve.

Food Network (Alaina): This magazine was once again great! I must have looked through it 20 times trying to decide which recipe to try. I had several marked like Rosemary Chips, Chicken, Sausage & Peppers, Tilapia Milanese, Citrus Salad, and Gorgonzola Polenta. It was an Italian themed issue and there were a lot of great pasta recipes, too. And the pull-out of 50 recipes for this month was pesto based recipes – yum. I will be sharing one of the pesto recipes next week – it was so good! 

They had a wonderful section on bruschetta with many variations. So inspiring! I decided to try a couple of the sweet ones and they were fabulous! They would be perfect for a tea, shower, or brunch especially. They were no-too-sweet and so pretty and they had eight different ideas for the sweet bruschetta and six ideas for the savory.

ORANGE CREAM BRUSCHETTA
Food Network Magazine, March 2011
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Segment a blood orange (I used regular) over a bowl: reserve juice. Toss the segments with 1 Tb. superfine sugar (I used regular). Simmer the juice and 1 Tb. of sugar in a saucepan until syrupy. Spread whipped cream on the toast rounds (I used a french baquette and toasted both sides of the bread in the oven); top with an orange segment and shaved chocolate. Drizzle with orange syrup.

BANANA-HAZELNUT BRUSCHETTA
Food Network Magazine, March 2011
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Toss 2 sliced bananas with 1 Tb. melted butter; spread on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with sugar and bake at 425 degress until golden, about 10 minutes (mine never really were golden but they were definitely roasted). Spread hazelnut butter (I used a chocolate hazelnut spread) on the toast rounds. Top with the toasted bananas, whipped cream, and chopped hazelnuts (I used toasted almonds).

Market Fresh: Parsley

Parsley is the perfect herb to use in early spring. It’s bright green color and fresh taste echo what is happening in nature around us. And, if you have it in your garden, you’ve probably already discovered it beginning to grow again.

There are two varieties of parsley in common use: curly parsley and flat-leaf or Italian parsley. Many people prefer the Italian parsley and claim it has a more intense flavor. I prefer the curly parsley and feel it has a much stronger flavor than flat-leaf. Perhaps its nostalgia that attaches me to it — my Grandmother always had a large patch of curly parsley in her garden from which we were free to eat. It’s that taste that I associate with proper parsley taste.

Everyday Food March 2010 had a great article on parsley, including four different salads. If you have that issue you may want to check it out for some creative ideas. I tried the Bibb and Parsley Salad with Anchovy Dressing. I think many of us are not used to having a monochromatic salad, but it’s always nice to have a change, and the parsley added a fresh taste. If you don’t like anchovies, simply leave them out of the dressing — it will still be a great salad. (And if you’ve never tried anchovies, live dangerously and see if you just might enjoy them.)

BIBB AND PARSLEY SALAD WITH ANCHOVY DRESSING
(Everyday Food March 2010)
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2 anchovy fillets
1 1/2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp. olive oil
pinch of sugar
salt and pepper

1 head Bibb or Boston lettuce
1/2 cup packed fresh parsley

In a large bowl, mash the anchovy fillets with the back of a fork. Whisk in the lemon juice and olive oil along with the pinch of sugar. Season with salt and pepper. Add the lettuce and parsley. Toss to combine.

Serves 4.

Parsley sauce is a delightful way to enjoy parsley in the spring. It makes a wonderful sauce to accompany chicken, fish or pasta.

PARSLEY SAUCE
(adapted from www.bbcgoodfood.com)
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1 cup whole milk
1/2 medium onion, quartered
1 bay leaf
2 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. flour
small bunch curly parsley, washed and chopped

Pour the milk into a medium pan and add the onion and bay leaf. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat, then leave to stand for 30 minutes. When cool, remove the onion and bay leaf.

Melt the butter in a small pan and stir in the flour. Cook for 30 seconds. Slowly add the milk to the pan, stirring. Simmer gently for 5 minutes, stirring continuously. Stir in the chopped parsley. Season with salt and pepper (and nutmeg if you like). Keep warm over a low heat, stirring occasionally.

Makes about 1 cup.