GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

March 13, 2013

Spring in with veggies

Pat's Kitchen
Patricia Altomare

---- — Editor's note: In response to a reader's question, Pat suggests using finely chopped Kalamata olives or capers (a tablespoon or to taste) as a substitute for the anchovies and anchovy oil in the cauliflower recipe.

I have chosen some recipes that will add both color and flavors to your springtime dinner table.

The first is actually a broccoli casserole made in a slow-cooker. Even those who don’t usually like broccoli might enjoy this. Since it frees up the oven, keep this in mind for Sunday meals or holidays.

Cauliflower is in season now, and you might even find it on sale. The two recipes below spice it up a bit. Since I like anchovies in cooking, I especially like the first recipe.

I feel sure many of you will like the way carrots are highlighted here. Sometimes just lemon and a different herb makes all the difference. Both carrot recipes would be perfect for your Easter table.

And how could I leave out asparagus? You have let me know over the years that it is a favorite for many of you, and your favorite way of cooking it is oven roasted with olive oil, black pepper and garlic. Try this asparagus stir-fry this season; it goes with most anything, and I like it left-over for lunch the next day.

Lastly, I know I do not eat enough greens, so I added this quick way to cook spinach and/or swiss chard (using your favorite Italian dressing), that can be quickly done for a week-night supper.

Broccoli in Slow-Cooker

Serves 8-10

Ingredients:

2 packages(10 ouncese each) frozen chopped broccoli, partially thawed

1 can condensed cream of celery soup

6 ounces shredded sharp cheddar cheese (11/2 cups), divided

1/4 cup chopped onion

1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce and one-half teaspoon pepper

1 cup crushed butter-flavored crackers (such as Ritz brand)

2 tablespoons butter or margarine

In a large bowl, combine broccoli, soup, 1 cup cheese, onion, Worcestershire and pepper. Pour into a greased slow cooker. Sprinkle crackers on top; dot with butter. Cover and cook on high for 2 and one-half to 3 hours. Sprinkle with remaining cheese.

Cook until cheese is melted.

Roasted Spicy Cauliflower

Makes 4-5 servings

Ingredients:

1 head cauliflower, cored and cut into large florets

4 garlic cloves

2-4 anchovy fillets

1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes

Coarse salt and ground pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons anchovy oil (from can of anchovies)

OR

Additional olive oil

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Gather garlic, anchovies, and red pepper flakes into a pile. Using a chef’s knife, coarsely chop; season generously with salt. Using flat side of knife blade, mash mixture into a paste. Place paste into a large bowl; add oils, and mix to combine. Add cauliflower, and toss to coat. Spread mixture in a single layer on a large rimmed baking sheet. Roast until softened, about 25-30 minutes. Stir once during cooking.

Cauliflower, Stir-Fried

Approximately 8 servings

Break 1 large head cauliflower into florets. In a skillet over medium heat, melt 3 tablespoons butter, margarine, or olive oil. Add cauliflower and 2 garlic cloves that have been minced. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley or 1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes and 1 and one-half teaspoons lemon-pepper seasoning. Cook and stir for 12-15 minutes until lightly browned and fork-tender.

Steamed Carrots with lemon & herbs

6 servings

Ingredients

2 pounds carrots, peeled and cut into quarter inch slices

1/4 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

2 teaspoons minced garlic

2 teaspoons finely grated fresh lemon zest

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil

Steam carrots over boiling water, covered, until tender, about 7 minutes.

Meanwhile, toss together parsley, garlic, zest, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Add hot carrots and oil to bowl and toss to coat.

Golden Carrot Coins

6-8 servings

Ingredients

1/4 cup butter

3/4 cup chicken broth

Scant 2 teaspoons sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

14 medium carrots, cut into quarter inch slices

3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

2 teaspoons orange juice

In a large saucepan, melt butter. Stir in the broth, sugar salt, and pepper; bring to a boil. Add carrots. Return to a boil.

Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes or until carrots are crisp-tender. Stir in parsley and orange juice. Serve with a slotted spoon.

Asparagus Stir-Fry w/ Walnuts

Makes 6 servings

Ingredients

One and one-half pounds fresh asparagus, trimmed (5 to 6 servings)

2 tablespoons olive or canola oil

1/4 cup thinly sliced sweet red pepper

1/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger or 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger

1 garlic clove, minced

one-quarter teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

2 tablespoons chicken broth

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

In a skillet or wok, stir-fry asparagus in oil until crisp-tender, about 10 minutes. Remove and keep warm. In the same skillet, stir-fry red pepper, walnuts, ginger, garlic and pepper flakes for 2 minutes or until red pepper is fork-tender. Stir in the broth, soy sauce, sugar and salt; heat through. Add asparagus; stir to coat.

Sautéed Spinach or Swiss Chard

About 4 half-cup servings

Heat 1/4 cup zesty Italian dressing in a large deep skillet or dutch oven on medium heat. Add 2 minced garlic cloves; cook and stir 1 minute or until tender. Add 8 cups packed spinach leaves (does not need to be baby spinach), or equal amount of swiss chard.

Cover and cook an additional 4-6 minutes or until greens are wilted, stirring after 3 minutes.

Optional: Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons bacon bits.

GOOD TO HEAR FROM YOU

I was totally surprised at how many of you like to bake bread, or were semi-beginners who had not baked bread very much, but that you were inspired to bake this month. It must be the snowy weather we have been getting.

Below I have shared some of the e-mails from readers who had some issues with baking bread. I know I learn from others’ experiences.

To all who are more experienced in baking bread, write me if you have any bread baking tips to share with us.

Cordially,

Pat

Hi Pat,

I just read your recipe for Whole Wheat Bread with Raisins and Walnuts in the Gloucester Daily Times. I was wondering if this recipe can be doubled without adjustments. Even though I’m an okay cook, I have never baked much. This recipe sounds tasty and I want to give it a try!

Peter

Gloucester

Hello Peter,

I have not doubled this recipe but most bread recipes are good to double, just follow the basics: Have your ingredients room temp, have the kitchen warm (for rising). If you are unsure about something, King Arthur Flour has a “baking hotline” where you can call for assistance, (855) 371-2253.

Have a good baking day,

Pat

Dear Pat,

I am going to bake some bread this weekend, but the last time I tried it the dough did not seem to rise very well. Has this happened to you, and do you have any suggestions?

Cecile

Dear Cecile,

It has happened to me. There are a few things that could cause this: old yeast; water was too cool to activate the yeast or so hot that it killed the yeast; rising place too cool.

My mother had the greatest luck with her bread rising and I follow her “tricks.” For a nice, warm rising place with no drafts, she turned the oven on warm, opened the oven door, and set her bread to rise on a chair in front of door, but not right on top of it. She covered the bread with towels to keep drafts away. This has worked for us.

Good luck,

Pat

Hi Pat,

I’m in the mood to bake some bread. I’m going to try oatmeal raisin bread. I have made white bread before but it did not brown very much on the sides. The bread tasted all right, but could have been much less pale. What do you think about this?

Ruth W.,

North Andover

Dear Ruth,

I looked up some bread baking sites and did see this problem listed on one. There could be two reasons for the bread not browning well on the sides: Pans are too bright and reflect heat away; overcrowding of pans in the oven if baking several loaves at a time.

Hope this helps,

Pat

Hi Pat,

I finally had time to sit down and read your column on Alaska and salmon. I enjoyed it thoroughly. I have always wanted to go to Alaska and you make it sound even more inviting.

Mostly, I have only thought of a cruise, but your experience flying to Anchorage and driving through the interior sounds good too.

I just wanted to tell you that it was a very interesting article.

Priscilla,

Methuen