Archives for posts with tag: fall menu
Painting of beet greens, cumin seeds, peanut oil.

Beet Greens with Cumin 8″x8″ gouache and watercolor pencil. Sharyn DImmick

Wednesday I was reminded of why I like to eat fresh and seasonal food. Wednesday is vegetable box day for me and I went down to Berkeley in the rain to pick up my vegetables. Among the other things I got were bunches of turnips and beets with their greens attached. I twisted the greens free and bagged them separately since I have been told that otherwise the greens draw nutrition from the roots. I knew I was going to cook some kind of oven dinner — I had leftover delicata squash to eat, for one thing. On the way home I decided we would eat mixed turnip and beet greens tonight to get them at their freshest and most nutritious. I also decided to cook the beets, remembering a wonderful sauce in my Joyce Goldstein Kitchen Conversations cookbook made from butter, honey, dry mustard, cinnamon and black pepper.

I consulted Mom about what else we could have. She suggested baking two large red potatoes and serving them with sour cream. Fine. We would have squash with brown sugar and butter, the potatoes, beets in a hot and sweet sauce. I would put in a rice pudding for a high protein dessert so that we did not get hungry after all those vegetables for dinner, utilizing some cooked brown rice we already had.

That left the greens. Because two of the vegetables had a sweet profile I knew the greens needed to be savory, so I discarded the idea of making them with raisins and walnuts  or with peanut sauce: these would have to be greens as greens. As I chopped the beet and turnip stems I suddenly thought, “What if I cook them with roasted cumin seeds?” Maybe that would tame the bitterness.

I pricked the potatoes and put them in a 350 oven with the whole kabocha squash (the farm newsletter recommended roasting it whole before splitting it open to remove the seeds and strings) and a Pyrex bowl of brown rice pudding, made with raisins, milk, sugar, a couple of eggs and enough butter to keep it from sticking. Then I peeled beets and put them in a saucepan on the stove (the oven was crowded, due to the giant squash, or I could have roasted them). While they cooked I made Goldstein’s marvelous sauce.

Then I got out the peanut oil and filmed a hot skillet with just a touch (under a tablespoon). After a minute, I added a couple teaspoonfuls of cumin seeds and let them pop before bringing the skillet to my cutting board for the beet and turnip stems. While they began to cook over medium heat I chopped the greens and put them into the skillet with all of the water that clung to them and popped a lid on. When they were done, I assembled a plate of one potato, half a delicata squash, one beet and a large serving of greens, to which I added a small squeeze of Meyer lemon.

I am happy to report that these were the best greens I ever tasted. The cumin worked its magic, giving off its fragrance and mellowing the greens’ strong flavors. If you are not a greens lover but are fond of cumin, I urge you to try it. It is beyond simple and yet the results are sublime. Yes, I did say sublime — the acid test will be tomorrow when I see how they are reheated.* There’s got to be something to eating your greens the day they are picked — but the cumin didn’t hurt either.

Non-Recipe Greens Recipe: Greens with Cumin Seeds

Wash whatever greens you’ve got — I used turnip and beet greens.

Separate stems from leaves.

Chop stems into small pieces. Chop greens separately.

Heat a skillet over medium high heat.

Add 2 tsp to 1 Tablespoon of peanut oil, depending on your oil tolerance.

When oil shimmers, add 2 tsp cumin seeds and let them pop.

Remove skillet from heat long enough to add chopped stems.

Return skillet to heat. Add chopped greens.

Cover and cook over medium heat to desired done-ness — I cook them until the liquid has evaporated — about five minutes.

Add a squeeze of lemon and eat while hot.

* I ate the leftover greens for dinner Thursday night. They were still wonderful, tasting of cumin.

P.S Forgot to say: I’m heading up to Portland for a long weekend and I, unlike most modern people, have no mobile devices. This may cause a delay in my approving comments, but I want to hear from you and I’ll approve them all when I get back. — Sharyn

Painting Note: For information about Beet Greens with Cumin or any other painting, please contact me here.

painting depicts onion soup and fall vegetables

Onion Soup, 8″ x8″ watercolor pencil and gouache. Sharyn Dimmick

Today we had our first real fall day: when it dawned with blue sky and white clouds there was a distinct chill in the air, a crispness. By 11:30 I was digging cashmere sweaters and long underwear out of my camphor chest. When I went down to the kitchen for lunch, I grabbed the last bowl of vegetable soup from the refrigerator.

Because I have been gone for three days I looked around the counter and into all of the covered pots in the fridge. First I found a pan of meat brownings. Then my eye fell on two large onions from last week’s farm box and a half-loaf of crusty sourdough. The butter plate with a smidge of unsalted butter clinched it: we would have French onion soup for dinner and because I would need to brown the croutons in the oven we would have another Gravenstein apple pie. I’ll roast delicata squash while I’m at it and there is some Swiss chard with our name on it. Dinner will come together in a snap.

I began by peeling and slicing the two large onions as thinly as I could, while I heated a skillet and added a little olive oil and all of the butter I could scrape off the butter plate. After I put them in the pan I cleaned the cutting board, composted the onion scraps and took four large apples from fridge, checking to make sure we still had pie crust. By this time, Mom was back from errands and made tea so I turned off the browning onions and retreated upstairs for a cup of tea. By then it was raining, making me glad to be inside cooking and puttering.

Tea finished, I peeled apples for the pie and cut the squash open. I started scooping seeds into the compost and then realized I could start a vegetable stock with apple peels and squash innards, not to mention the tough ends of Swiss chard, so I covered the seeds and strings from the second squash with some water in a saucepan and set it to simmer with the apple peelings and trimmings.

Classic onion soup uses Gruyere. Gruyere is rare in our house, as is any kind of French or Swiss cheese. What we have is Parmesan, since throwing the lemon Stilton in the tomato tart last week, so I will shave Parmesan onto croutons to top the soup. Browned Parmesan is delicious (sometimes I eat it on buttered whole wheat toast) so I don’t see this as a problem.

French Onion Soup

Put on a skillet to heat over medium heat.

While skillet heats, peel and slice thinly:

2 large onions

Add about 1 Tbsp olive oil to skillet, plus a little butter — maybe 1 tsp

Brown onions slowly over medium heat — if you don’t stir them much they will brown faster.

While onions brown, slice

4 slices of crusty bread and

Slice cheese to taste (I used an ounce or two of Parmesan, but you can use anything you like)

Add 1 tsp thyme to onions

Season with black pepper and salt to taste.

Put browned onions in oven-proof casserole with a broad opening.

De-glaze onion pan with 2 Tbsp of wine and add to onions in casserole.

Add 1 pint chicken stock. If you have brownings from another project, add them too.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Place slices of bread on top of onions and broth. Add cheese. Bake until cheese browns.

Serves four, or two very hungry people.

If you want to emulate my style of cooking, consider what else you can bake in a 375-degree oven. In my case, it was apple pie and two delicata squash, which I baked cut side down in a Pyrex pan. When they were done, I flipped them cavity side up, added a dot of butter, a tsp of homemade syrup (brown sugar, honey, water and the dregs from a bottle of maple syrup) and black pepper and let them bake for five more minutes. You could also add ginger jam or chutney to season the squash instead of syrup, or just use brown sugar and butter.

While everything baked, I cleaned and chopped a bunch of Swiss chard, separating the stems from the leaves. Using the onion skillet, I heated about 1 tsp of olive oil and cooked the stems first for a minute or two, then added the shredded leaves, covered and steamed for five minutes in the water that was clinging to the leaves.

After we ate the squash I added the roasted skins to the stock pot — I’ll boil it again tomorrow. Eventually, I’ll reduce it, strain it and freeze it and have it on hand for the first batch of butternut squash soup later in the fall.

Painting Note: For information on “Onion Soup” or any watercolor painting, please go here.

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