My Not So Secret Food Obsession (Cabbage?!)

When I was growing up, I remember listening to conversations back and forth with school friends about how much they hated cabbage. They would tell horror stories of it cooking on the stove for hours and stinking up the entire house. If you even mentioned cabbage to one, she would claim to have fallen dramatically ill and would be unable to eat anything for the rest of the day (did I mention we were in elementary school). Well, I used to sit there listening to these conversations, completely and utterly confused. My dad made cabbage all the time and I never smelled anything. Instead of the boil all day cabbage that my friends would discuss with such disgust, I was treated to Stir-Fried Cabbage.

There are a few foods that I am oddly obsessed with and Stir Fry Cabbage is so high on that list, it may be embarrassing. When my dad made cabbage, my uncle and I would end up standing at the stove some nights and eating it straight out of the pot when I was supposed to be putting it away in the fridge. We both had infuriated stories of times when we went into the fridge for leftovers and either he or I had eaten the last of the cabbage leaving my dad no other option than to make more to avoid a war.

Now, I understand that for most people cabbage is an all day undertaking and ends up tasting horrific. If you’re willing to give it another try… try this version. Jamaican Stir-Fried Cabbage is crunchy and flavorful. You cook it just long enough to wilt the cabbage and it’s flavored with red pepper and garlic. It’s sweet and a little salty and pairs beautifully with any number of dishes. Fish, Corned Beef…. wow I could go on all day about this…

 

 

Stir Fried Cabbage

 

Stir Fry Cabbage

 

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 red pepper, sliced thinly

1-3 cloves garlic, sliced thinly

!/2 head of cabbage, sliced thinly

1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

NOTE: Everything has to be cut and ready to go before the oil is hot in the pan

Set a dutch oven or 4 quart soup pot over medium-high heat. When droplets of water curl into balls and skate over the surface of the pan, add the olive oil and red pepper. Move the red pepper around the pan until it is coated in the oil, then drop in the garlic. Put all the cabbage in the pot at once with the salt and pepper. Move the cabbage around the pan until all the cabbage is coated in oil. Keep moving the cabbage around. So all the cabbage gets heated evenly. The cabbage will shrink in volume as you cook it. When all the cabbage is coated in oil, test a small bite. It should be crunchy. Move the cabbage to your serving dish. Keep in mind the cabbage will keep cooking in the serving dish so leave it open to maintain the crunch and serve as soon as you can.

So Many Apples…

Apple ButterSometimes it takes the right recipe to change your mind about a food. I could never understand why people got so hype over apple butter. It always tasted so one dimensional to me. Then, The Bestie gave me some of her mom’s apple butter. I had that eye popping moment of… “Whoa! It really does exist!” (from the M&M commercials with Santa) — There really is “good” apple butter! Her mom slow baked it with a lot of cloves so it was thick and had a ton of flavor. So, oddly enough my first thought was… This would be amazing in my yogurt! The yogurt took an extra tablespoon of honey per jar because she makes it with sweet apples and doesn’t add sugar, and it was amazing.  It would probably be amazing in ice cream too.

When it was done, I figured, I’m going to see if I can figure out how to make apple butter myself. I still had three half bushels of apples from my trip up to Weaver’s Orchard (my new favorite spot to get apples and other fruit) with The Bestie. So, I certainly had enough that if I messed it up I would still have enough to try again. Since I usually get tart apples, I knew I would need to add sugar. I laid out every cookbook I had that had an apple butter recipe in it and started trying to figure out how to get started. I couldn’t believe how many of the recipes called for just a teaspoon of cinnamon for the whole batch. I love spices so that wasn’t going to work for me. So, I opened up the spice drawer and pulled out everything that sounded interesting.

Apple Butter Yogurt

Apple Butter Yogurt

It took forever to bake, which was fine since I didn’t have to do anything but check it occasionally to make sure it reached the thick consistency I was looking for. When I was done I ended up with 5-1/2 quarts so I had to can it since the freezer had absolutely no space left. I used a huge bag of apples so you can adjust the recipe proportions down as needed. The apple butter ended up being perfect on my buttered bread with my Curried Cauliflower & Potato Soup. The tartness was fantastic with the earthy spices in the soup.

 

Apple Butter

16 pounds tart baking apples (I used courtland apples), cored and quartered (leave the skins on the apples)
16 cups apple juice/cider

Zest & Juice of 3 small lemons
2 cup sugar
2 cups maple syrup
2 Tbsp cinnamon
2 Tbsp cloves
1 Tbsp allspice
1 tsp ginger
1/2 t cardamom
1 cup port
2 star anise pods

In a large stock pot over medium-low heat, cover and simmer apples in apple juice/cider for 2 hours (from the time it starts to bubble). After 2 hours apples should be soft enough to process through a food mill to puree and remove the skins.

Preheat oven to 250F.

Put the pureed apples in a non-reactive large roasting pan (glass or stainless steel). Add lemon zest, lemon juice, sugar, maple syrup, cinnamon, cloves, allspice, ginger, cardamom, port and star anise pods. Stir to combine. Leave to bake for 10 hours or until it reaches the desired consistency.  Remove the star anise pods before storing or serving.

Serve on warm biscuits.

 

Refrigerate the apple butter if using in the next few weeks.  Use a water-bath canner to can any apple butter you can’t use (or give away).

 

Freekeh-ing out before the storm

I feel the need to try any and every new grain that I hear about. I wish I could say it is because grains are healthy, but it really is just that I like trying to cook something new. And because I’m addicted to rice and know I need to diversify. Which was why when I saw a box of Freekeh in Whole Foods, I bought it before I had any idea what it was. I put it in a container in the pantry and waited for inspiration to strike. It took the odd but true combination of House Hunters International and Hurricane Sandy.

Now most people think, “A storm is coming, gotta get French Toast supplies.” I think, “A storm is coming, gotta roast a chicken.” For me, a roast chicken is always the start of an easy fall into a rabbit hole of recipe ideas. As part of the requisite storm war chest, I had already baked some multigrain bread to go with my slow baked apple butter so chicken sandwiches sounded like a good idea too.

The chicken was butterflied and roasting in the oven and for some reason a recent episode of House Hunters International came to mind. A grandmother was sitting at the head of a table with her family and watching them all eat the meal she made. One of the things on the table was Freekeh. The house hunter said they ate it just like rice. So I reached into the cabinet and pulled out the Freekeh. The box said to use 5 cups of water for 1 cup of Freekeh. I scoffed and decided to try my “Foolproof rice method” and was surprised to find that it worked.

The “sad” moment of the evening was when the Freekeh was on the stove, the bread was cooling, the kale was in the container ready to be moved to the fridge and I heard the oven timer beep.  I was looking around the kitchen completely confused.  What else could I possibly have made that would be beeping?  Ah yes…. the chicken.

Freekeh

Freekeh

1 T olive oil
1-1/2 c Freekeh
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp smoked paprika
3-1/2 c chicken/vegetable stock or water

In a small sauce pan over medium heat, test the heat in the pan by dropping a few drops of water into the pan. When the water curls up into balls and dances over the surface of the pan, add the oil. Swirl pan to distribute the oil over the bottom of the pan. Add the Freekeh. Stir to coat with oil and toast the Freekeh. The freekeh will brown a bit. Watch carefully so it doesn’t burn. Add garlic purée and stir to coat the Freekeh. Add salt and pepper and smoked paprika. Stir to coat. Add stock or water. Leave to cook until the liquid level is about 1/4″ below the top of the grains. Cover sauce pan and turn off the heat under the pot but leave it on the burner. Leave to cook for at least 20 minutes to allow the liquid to be absorbed.

 

 

 

 

Breakfast of Champions (…who like spices)

I have not been able to prove it yet, but I am sure there is a little man pushing fast-forward on all the clocks around me. Sometimes I just don’t know where the time goes. So, lately most of the cooking I’ve been doing is the multi-tasking variety. The food kind of cooks itself while I do everything else and when I come back, I push a button (of sorts) and it’s all done. That’s how I got to this morning’s breakfast. Thanks to The Bestie, I fell in love with horchata recently. She has been a huge fan for years, but for some (completely ridiculous reason) I refused to try it. Then I made it and after one sip, I was done for. Completely, utterly in love! Which led me to another thought… I could “horchata” any grain not just rice.

This was the winter that wasn’t which I suspect is going to be good and bad. Plants are going to get a head start and look awesome, but allergies are going to be monster, so I’ve been putting local honey in something for everyone in the house on almost a daily basis. Even though I’m excited for all the seasonal spring foods my usual winter craving of oatmeal has suffered. There is something about winter that makes me crave oatmeal, but I just can’t eat it when it’s warm outside. Maybe it’s a mental block, but I just can’t. I used to do a lot of baking so the oatmeal could go into oatmeal-raisin cookies during the summer. Fortunately or unfortunately (depending on how you spin the coin), The Kid doesn’t like sweets so I haven’t baked in what feels like forever.

 

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Then last night, I figured I’d try something out…. Cinnamon-Cherry Oatmeal Horchata…. sounds reasonable… I can make a cookie without making a cookie… So, I filled the blender with

1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
2 cups water
1 tablespoon local honey
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup tart dried cherries

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and let it sit overnight. Then this morning, I just pureed, poured over ice and ran out the house. I took a sip in the driveway just as I was about to hit reverse and… Hold the Phone! This is GOOD. I actually paused to take another sip. The plan was to drink it at my desk, but before I got to work it was all gone.  I blame the traffic lights. Alas, I will endeavor to try again tomorrow. Oh the possibilities… I think I’m adding about an ounce of raw cashews tomorrow.

I also grabbed a Ginger-Vanilla Yogurt with Apple Pie Spice on the way out too. I have developed a bit of a yogurt obsession and I think I’m going to have to make a page dedicated to my yogurt experiments. There was a Bananas-Foster Coconut Yogurt trial that was surprisingly good. So I know I’ll need to remember that one for the future. But back to the yogurt at hand. I have tons of preserves and jams that I picked up when I was making cookies, but have been

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sadly ignored lately. Now that I’m making yogurt, this seems like the best opportunity to use them all up and make more room in the pantry since I want to start trying to make my own preserves with whatever fruits look good this summer. When I saw the container of ginger preserves in the cupboard, I instantly thought of a Ginger-Apple Pie. So, I figured I’d run with it. I spooned 1 heaping tablespoon ginger preserves in each of the yogurt maker’s 7 glass containers, heated up 1 quart of whole milk to 180F, and left it to cool down on the stove until it was under 100F (okay, yes, I’ll admit that I forgot about it on the back of the stove for a bit), then I mixed in 1 packet of freeze dried yogurt starter, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and 1 tablespoon apple pie spice. Then left it for 11 hours until the machine beeped. I added 1 tablespoon local honey to each of the yogurt maker’s 7 glass containers, sealed them all up and refrigerated until cold.

I’ve been eating this Ginger-Vanilla Yogurt with Apple Pie Spice for the past few days and it is phenomenal. Ok… I should start by saying that I love ginger. LOVE!! I have no idea where I got the ginger preserves that I used, but now I’m determined to figure out how to make ginger preserves. I must make this again!

 

Roasted Garlic “Mayo”

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I have a garlic problem. Whenever I go to the produce spot I buy a big bag of garlic. I always think I just ran out. Then I get home and realize I still have the six heads of garlic from last week sitting in the onion basket. So now I have 15 heads of garlic and then I go back next week and buy more garlic since I’m sure I finished all the garlic from last week and then I have 20-something heads of garlic!! I need an intervention.

RoastedGarlic.jpg

All this garlic led me to a semi-genius idea — Roasted Garlic “Mayo.” I love roasted garlic. I think it adds a great warm flavor to a lot of dishes. Although, I will admit that the idea of roasting garlic heads in foil just annoys me. I hate squeezing the garlic out at the end and knowing that there is some left behind in the garlic skins. Yes, I’m greedy. So the other day I peeled seven or nine heads of garlic (Yep, I zoned out and lost count after six) and put them in a small saucepan on the stove. I added a couple tablespoons of olive oil, covered the pot and turned the heat to Low and walked away.

It took a couple hours, but as soon as I smelled something I checked on it. It was pure yummy roasted garlic. I dumped all the contents of the pot into the mini food processor and puréed. I tasted it and added the juice of a lemon. If I thought it would last I would have added a bit of salt for the sake of preservation, but one taste and I knew better. This would be great spread like mayo on a sandwich or mixed into mashed potatoes. Yum. So just so I remember next time:

GarlicMayo.jpg

Roasted Garlic “Mayo”
Cloves from 6-9 heads of garlic, peeled
2 tablespoons olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon

Put all the garlic cloves in a small saucepan. Add olive oil. Stir garlic cloves to coat in oil. Turn heat to Low. Leave covered until you smell roasted garlic (about 2 hours). Purée garlic with juice of 1 lemon. Put in a glass container & refrigerate.

How I Spent My Winter Vacation…

Looking around the house I realized that I actually managed to get a lot done over my winter vacation this year! I had a few days alone at home with The Kid at daycare and I finished the plan of reorganizing the entire house. It’s surprisingly fulfilling to finish a job that has been kind of hanging over my head for what feels like years. I got rid of so much stuff that it took a few car loads to get everything to Cradles to Crayons and Goodwill, but at least someone can use all of the stuff I wasn’t (and probably never would use again).

Now, obviously, I had to do some cooking related stuff too so I used that yogurt maker I found in my Pantry Reorg and made mango-strawberry yogurt  with some preserves I had in the fridge.  Not sure why it took me so long to make the yogurt since I bought the yogurt maker almost a year ago and as it turns out the process is really easy. I just heated up the milk to 180F added the culture and the mango and strawberry preserves and poured the mixture into the jars and turned on the machine.  The machine does all the work!

I tried the first batch using a spoonful of store bought Greek yogurt to get the cultures, but it’s just not cost effective.  Greek yogurt isn’t that cheap so I found some freeze dried starter at the supermarket that I’m going to use to do the next batch. The Kid loves yogurt so I’m determined to figure out how to get (less expensive) organic yogurt for him.

I also made a pineapple-pear preserve before we left to visit family for a few days. I knew the pear and pineapple wouldn’t still be good after we got back so I figured preserves was a reasonable solution. And I could use it in future batches of yogurt. I’m probably going to end up tinkering with this recipe, but here was the original:


Pineapple-Pear Preserves

4 small pears, cored, peeled, and cubed
1/2 pineapple, cored, peeled, and cubed
2 cups natural cane sugar
1 pinch ground cardamom

Purée the pineapple in a food processor. Pour the puree into a fine mesh strainer set over a small saucepan. When most of the juice has dripped into the saucepan (remove the strainer and rest it on the lid of the pan) and set the saucepan over medium heat. Let the pineapple juice caramelize (about 3-5 minutes) then add the pear pieces. When the pear has started to soften (about 5-8 minutes), add the remaining pineapple purée and a pinch of ground cardamom. Leave to simmer on the stove as it thickens. Process in pressure cooker.

 

I honestly didn’t think the flavors would work, but it tastes great and it’s not too sweet. Should be really good with the next batch of yogurt.

Oh and did I mention I got a pressure canner…

What to do…. What to do….?

Sometimes my overindulgence in buying vegetables works out to some sort of magical symphony of ingredients available in the house. That was what happened on Wednesday… National Sandwich Day (I guess there’s a day for everything). So, there seems to be an odd phenomenon in our family… I can’t pick a good sandwich. It is my Food Achilles Heel. If The Hubs and I go to a restaurant and get sandwiches, I always end up liking his sandwich and not eating mine. I’ve learned over the years to just have him help me pick a sandwich because he is a sandwich genius. I don’t even try anymore. So, I was dreaming of The Hubs’ grilled cheese sandwich when I realized I roasted all the tomatoes I had in the house last night to make the Roasted Pepper & Tomato Sauce. I had to come up with some other way to convince The Hubs to make me a grilled cheese. He makes the best grilled cheese sandwiches I’ve ever had and I love to dip them into a smooth super creamy soups (usually my Balsamic Roasted Tomato Soup) so I had to come up with something else.

I was at the produce place last weekend and since it’s that time of year, I got winter squash, sweet potatoes and apples which are plentiful and relatively inexpensive at the moment. I ended up roasting the butternut squash (in a 400F oven for 1 hour) and making sweet potato fries (roasted in a 400F oven for 1 hour) and when I looked into the fridge this afternoon and saw the leftovers, I had an idea…. What if I made a super creamy soup with the butternut squash, sweet potatoes and apples. If I made it spicy enough It could hold up to a grilled cheese sandwich….hmmm…. So I started fiddling.

Okay… so here’s the other thing…. my “blender” is a Vitamix which I love (and which is expensive).  If you see any contest to win a Vitamix, I highly recommend entering it.  You won’t be disappointed if you get one.  It blends things really fine so I didn’t peel the sweet potatoes or squash (I did peel the apples).  I leave the skin on most things I puree in the Vitamix to boost the texture since The Hubs likes creamy soups and corporate microwaves don’t generally do a great job with creamy soups when you reheat them.

The soup turned out far better than I expected.  The ground poinsettia peppers gave it a lot of heat.  I really recommend growing them and drying them because their heat sneaks up on you so you get to taste all the spices before the heat hits you like a wave.  The apples are sweet enough so you’re not left with a permanently burnt tongue and if you pair it with a grilled cheese sandwich you’ll be all set.  This is a great cold weather soup!

 

Spicy Sweet Potato &  Butternut Squash Soup

2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 large Spanish Onion, minced
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp cayenne pepper (or ground poinsettia peppers if you have it)
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp apple pie spice
1/8 tsp ground allspice
1 Tbsp salt
1/2 tsp ground white pepper
1/4 tsp nutmeg
6 apples, peeled and cored (I used 2 small McIntosh, 2 Gala & 2 Fuji)
1/3 cup AppleJack (or apple juice)
2 large roasted sweet potatoes, cut in large pieces
1 medium roasted butternut squash, cut in large pieces
2 quarts water

In a soup pot over medium heat, add olive oil. When the oil starts to shimmer, add the onions and garlic. Cook slowly moving onions around the pan as needed until the onions have given up most of their moisture. Add the apples and all the spices. Let this cook slowly for 5-8 minutes. Stirring as needed. Add the AppleJack or apple juice to deglaze the pan and scrape up any spices that may be sticking. Add the sweet potatoes and butternut squash and the water and turn the heat up to high. When the mixture starts boiling, turn down to a summer for about 10-15 minutes. Puree the mixture to a smooth texture in a blender and serve.

End of Year Garden Sauce

Every Spring, my mom and I start seeds for tomato and pepper plants. We always end up getting excited by the different varieties of seeds we have and start at least a couple seeds for almost every variety (we never learn). Every year, we end up with around 50 tomato & pepper plants and sometimes more. One year we’re going to get our act together and sell them since they’re all organically raised. So, at the end of every summer season, there are entirely too many tomato and pepper plants and people start hiding from us. So, every year, I end up with a bunch of tomatoes and a bunch of peppers and I make this sauce and throw it in the freezer. It’s not complicated, but it is delicious and it’s my backup to tomato paste. The sauce is a little different every time since the ingredients aren’t always the same, but it is yummy! I add tomato paste to a lot of dishes, but have a terrible tendency to always forget to put it on my shopping list. I’ve run out on several occasions so I just dig some of this out of the freezer and works as a great addition to sauces or soups. BTW: If you don’t make huge batches of food like I do (yes I know I am not feeding an army but I will be raising a teenage son, so I’m in training), freeze the sauce in ice cube trays then store it in the freezer in freezer bags so you can use a little bit at a time.


20111103-125853.jpg Roasted Pepper & Tomato Sauce

An equal amount of sweet peppers & tomatoes
2 Spanish Onions, cut in large pieces
Peeled garlic cloves from 1 head of garlic
Poultry seasoning or fresh herbs
1 Tablespoon Kosher Salt
1 teaspoon Black pepper
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
4 Tablespoons Vinegar (Either Balsamic or Sherry Vinegar)
1/2 cup White Wine (or Vermouth, or Red Wine, or Vodka)

1. Preheat oven to 400F and move the rack to the top position.

20111103-125729.jpg2. Cut up all the peppers and tomatoes (squeeze out the seeds as much as possible). Add to a large glass baking dish (preferably 11×14 if you have it). Add the onions and garlic cloves. Make sure the garlic cloves are buried underneath the peppers and tomatoes.  Add the herbs, salt, pepper, olive oil, vinegar and wine. Toss together. (NOTE: You don’t have to toss. I had to do this all one handed the other night while holding the Kid so I can tell you it still works.)

3. Roast for 60 – 90 minutes. This just depends on how much you have. At 60 minutes, take a look at the mixture. If it looks caramelized enough then take it out. Otherwise, just keep checking back for the next 15-30 minutes.

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4. Puree just enough that it’s still a little chunky then put it in a large soup pot to simmer on medium-low heat. After about 30 minutes, taste it to see if it needs any more seasoning. Then package it up and store it for the next time you forget to buy tomato paste. This works great in the Lazy Gravy Recipe too instead of tomato paste.

Hot Soup on a Cool Fall Day

I’m on a soup kick. I know. I can’t stop. Every year when the cool air starts creeping in I have that moment where I crave putting on a thick cozy sweater and wrapping my hands around a steaming soup mug. I tend to like my soups a bit spicy since it adds to the warming effect. If you’re not a heat fan, feel free to skip it.  I started thinking about this soup in the summer when all the fresh corn was available. But somehow I just couldn’t get into making soup when it was hot out. So, when I went into the produce spot and saw whole corn and poblano peppers on a cold day I knew what I was going to do. Of course, I wasn’t thinking it through and completely forgot to pick up the potatoes. Thankfully I picked up a Jamaican yam (also sold as Name) which I roasted (in 425F oven for two hours) so I used that instead of potato, but potato works just as well in the recipe. If you’re feeling adventurous give the Jamaican yam (yes I know its not only Jamaican) a try… Why not try something new? The swiss chard also wasn’t part of my original idea, but it’s the end of the season and there was a ton of swiss chard at my parents place, so I’ve been using the stems like celery in my soups. It’s easier than letting them go to waste.  On a side note, if you decide to add the jalapeño (or whatever good hot pepper you have) roast a few extra potatoes just in case.  The potatoes and half and half really help calm down some of the heat in the soup.  If you don’t use all the potatoes for this recipe, then we can come up with some other way to use them.

 

Corn Poblano Chowder

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 poblano peppers
4 ears corn
5 cloves garlic
2 Spanish yellow onions, cut in large pieces
1 stalk celery, cut in large pieces
15 stalks Swiss chard, remove leaves and cut in large pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 jalapeño peppers, chopped, seeds & stems removed (optional)
8 cups water or vegetable/chicken stock
1.5 cups beans
1/2 medium size roasted yam (or 2 baked russet potatoes), cut into 1/2″ pieces
1/2 cup half and half

Roasting the poblanos:

Move the oven rack to the top. Turn on the broiler. Roast the poblanos on a metal baking sheet for 8 minutes per side or until the skin is black and blistered.  Put the roasted poblanos in a glass dish and cover with cling wrap.  After about 10 minutes, the steam should have helped separate the skin from the poblanos and you can peel and remove the seeds.  Chop the poblanos into 1/2 inch or smaller pieces and set aside.

Soup:

While the poblanos are roasting, cut the corn kernels off the ears. With food processor running add garlic cloves. When the garlic is minced, stop the food processor, add onions, celery, and Swiss chard stems. In a soup pot over medium heat, add the olive oil and sauté the vegetable mixture. Add the corn cobs, salt and pepper and sauté with the vegetables. Add the jalapeño peppers. After about 8 minutes add 8 cups of water or stock. Turn heat to high and bring to a boil. Simmer for about 30 minutes. Take the corn cobs out of the pot and purée the vegetables in a blender. Put the cobs back in and add the corn kernels. Turn the heat to high until the mixture is boiling. Add beans. Add poblano. Add yam. Turn the heat back down to medium-low and simmer for 15-30 minutes.  Add half and half and adjust salt and pepper to taste while it warms through and serve.

Note: Add some crushed tortilla chips on top!!

Condiments to the Rescue — Mustard

Some eating establishments cook vegetables as though they are punishing them for existing and punishing you for selecting them despite all the other available menu options.  I usually pick the veggies from the menu, but have lived to regret it on occasion.  Sometimes I think they cook the veggies without even the suggestion of salt just to say they are healthy even though they taste so bad they might as well have left them off the menu.  My restaurant cheat is an odd one I know, but it works in a pinch.  If I get veggies that taste horrible, but I know I need to eat them to stay on my calorie goal for the day, I break out the condiments.  Although ketchup is supposed to be the catch-all condiment, it’s constant companion, spicy mustard is actually my veggie saver.  It has acid (a flavor which is often overlooked in cooking) and just enough salt to give the flavor punch to veggies that are sorely lacking.

Mustard is one of my favorite flavor cheats.  I always have a few bottles of different types of mustard in the pantry because it’s useful for more than just hot dogs.  Just a tablespoon or two give that added kick to sausage and peppers.  And seriously… who can deny the greatness of “real” Honey Mustard?  I love using whole mustard seeds to my spice mixes.  It’s great as a part of dry spice mixes.  When I need a quick side, I find that potatoes roasted with a good spice mix is always a crowd favorite.

 

Potatoes Roasted with Mustard Spice Mix

5 pounds potatoes
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon mustard seeds
1 tablespoon ground sumac

Preheat oven to 400F.  Slice potatoes  into about 1/4-inch thick rounds.  On a large sheet pan (or two), spread out potato slices.  Drizzle oil and spice mix over the potatoes.  Mix the potatoes and spices around until all the potatoes are coated with oil and spices (hands are easiest for this).  Roast in oven for about an hour.  Check to make sure the potatoes are as crispy as you like them before you remove them from the oven.