The Vegetable that Looks Like a Creature from Outer Space

Have you seen this vegetable with its big bottom bulb and leafy-topped stalks sticking up like the antennae of a creature from outer space? It's not very popular and not very familiar, but should be, because it tastes so good and has such a terrific crunch when eaten raw.

I think people may avoid it because they don't know what it is or what to do with it. 

Basically it's this, a cabbage variant. The name means "cabbage turnip." You can eat the bulb and the leaves. (Cook the leaves like any green leafy vegetable.)

The bulb takes some work. You have to peel them as you would broccoli stems. Underneath the thick skin you might also find some fibrous strings, which you should also remove. Then you're left with the crispy, juicy, tender flesh, which you can eat raw (good for crudites), or make into cole slaw or as a substitute for cucumber in tea sandwiches and salad. 

On the other hand, kohlrabi can be cooked too, and, like all cabbage is especially perfect with potatoes. Mashed potatoes are lighter, sweeter and amazingly interesting when you mix them with mashed kohlrabi. For this recipe I've also included parsnips and apples. It's a terrific side dish for fish, poultry, meat or as part of a vegetarian dinner.

 

Kohlrabi, Parsnip, Potato Mash

  • 1-½ to 2 pounds kohlrabi bulbs, peeled, chopped into ½-inch cubes
  • 2 pounds parsnips, peeled and sliced ½-inch thick
  • 1 pound Yukon Gold or all-purpose potatoes, peeled and chopped into ½-inch cubes
  • 1 large tart apple, peeled, cored and chopped into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons butter, margarine or olive oil
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Place the kohlrabi in a saucepan, cover with water and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the parsnips and potatoes and cook for 10 minutes. Add the apple and cook for 5-6 minutes or until all the ingredients are tender. Drain and place the ingredients in a large bowl. Add the butter and mash until smooth and thoroughly blended. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve topped with chopped parsley.

Makes 8 servings

 

German Apple Pancake

 

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The next few days are loaded with holidays, all delicious. I will acknowledge all of them and eat accordingly.

So, for Chinese New Year, maybe some Kung Pao Gai Ding and Chinese Cookies.

Valentine's Day? How about a Chocolate Cake? Or Chocolate Chip Cookies? Or maybe some homemade Buttercrunch?

I'm thinking, buttercrunch now that I actually wrote out that word.

But among my favorite holidays is one I don't even celebrate: Shrove Tuesday, otherwise known as Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras (tomorrow). In days gone by when the Catholic Church was stricter about such things, those who were observant would refrain from eating fats during Lent, which starts this Wednesday, so they would make "fatty" foods the day before, to use up all the butter and eggs, cream and so on that they had in their homes.

Like pancakes. Pancakes are loaded with eggs and butter, which is why they are always so fabulous. 

I love pancakes and don't eat them that often, though I will indulge in a buttermilk pancake when the grandkids come. And occasionally, make pancakes with the leftover oatmeal.

But my very very very favorite is German Apple Pancake. For breakfast, lunch and even a meatless dinner. Great as is, or, for dessert with some whipped cream or ice cream.

German Apple Pancake

  • 2 large, tart apples, peeled, cored and sliced
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1-2 teaspoons sifted confectioner’s sugar, optional

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Place the apple slices in a bowl. Add the sugar and cinnamon, mix and set aside. Mix the flour and salt together in a bowl and set aside. Combine the milk, eggs and vanilla in another bowl, add the flour mixture and whisk the ingredients into a smooth batter and set aside. Heat the butter in a heavy skillet, preferably cast-iron, over medium heat. When the butter has melted and looks foamy, add the apples, including any juices, and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the apples are soft and caramelized. Pour the batter over the apples. Place the pan in the oven. Bake for about 20 minutes or until the pancake is puffed and golden brown. Invert onto a serving platter. Serve as is or sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar.

Makes 4 servings

 

Apricot Sticky Wings

Okay, there's actually no dish that's a must for Superbowl Sunday. It's not like Thanksgiving with a turkey or doughnuts during Hanukkah.

BUT, a whole lot of people are probably going to be eating chicken wings some time during that day.

Me? I never needed an excuse or a holiday or an event to eat chicken wings. They have always been my favorite part of the chicken. So I have lots of recipes. Lots.

Here's the latest.

Apricot Sticky Wings

  • 1/2 cup apricot jam
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 scallions, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 3 pounds chicken wings, cut into sections

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the jam, brown sugar, soy sauce, Dijon mustard, ginger, garlic, scallions, paprika, cayenne pepper and salt and pepper in a bowl and mix to blend ingredients thoroughly. Wipe the chicken wing parts and place them in a single layer on a baking sheet. Brush with half the jam mixture. Bake for 15 minutes. Turn the wings. Brush with the remaining jam mixture. Bake for another 15 minutes or until the wings are lightly crispy.

Makes 8-10 servings

 

Sriracha- Parmesan Popcorn

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When I was really young, movie theaters were open early on the weekends so parents could send their kids off to to watch cartoons and some "westerns" and maybe even a newsreel.

It's like weekend TV today, only not everyone had a TV back then and also, children don't get the news on their favorite channels.

I don't remember any of those old movies. Just that I went with my older brother and had to share the popcorn with him.

I hated the way he doled out the pieces.

Maybe that's why, when it comes to popcorn, I am a gobbler. Stuff the stuff into my mouth without stopping until I am ready to explode.

I like all kinds of popcorn. Plain. Caramel. Chocolate-Marshmallow Heavenly Hash.

Recently I made some Sriracha-Parmesan Popcorn. Sriracha can be overbearing, especially if you just sprinkle it over or splash it on to food. But I popped the kernels and seasoned them with Carrington Farms Coconut Oil -- just one tablespoon was enough to give a hint of hot, enough to satisfy without tasting like fire.

I got the sriracha oil from a new website, Crafted Kosher, which is an absolute boon for anyone looking for kosher products that are unusual and hard-to-find, the kind of ingredients and packaged items that inspire creative cooking. Of course they also carry stock items (beans, pastas, spices, pancake and cake mixes, olive oils, soup mixes, coffee/tea, sauce/salsa, etc.) But it's so good to find so many specialty items (like Murray River Salt, Mango Vinegar, Coconut Nectar, Tandoori Masala) too, all in one place.

If you're a person who might be watching the Iowa caucus results tonight, or the Superbowl on February 7th or the Academy Award ceremony on February 28th or a movie or TV program any time, snack on this popcorn for a change.

Sriracha Parmesan Popcorn

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup corn kernels
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon Sriracha flavored vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • salt to taste

Heat the vegetable oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the kernels. Cover the pan and cook, popping the corn until all the kernels have popped. Place the popped corn in a large bowl. Heat the butter and Sriracha oil over low heat until the butter has melted. Mix and pour over the popcorn. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and salt, toss and serve.

Makes about 10 cups

Celebrate! with Sun-dried Tomato Dip

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A colleague of mine, Elizabeth Kurtz, who blogs at GourmetKosherCooking, has written a beautiful cookbook.

"Celebrate" celebrates not only good food and the beauty of Shabbat, but also benefits an organization called Emunah, a social service agency that helps families in physical or emotional distress -- at-risk teens, lonely seniors, young children who may have been neglected or abandoned. And much more. 

The book is filled with interesting recipes. Like the Everything Bagel Chicken, which I made for dinner last weekend. You know that bagel topping that has poppy seeds and sesame seeds and garlic and all? That's a really good coating for boneless chicken breasts!

I also loved the Butternut Squash Soup with Curry and Sweet Apples, a comforting dish on cold winter days.

There's lots to love here, including the luscious photos.

But my cooking mind is turning to Superbowl this week, so I looked for a recipe that I could bring to my brother and sister-in-law's annual party. I picked the Sun-Dried Tomato Dip -- it's easy to make, you can cook it a couple of days ahead, serve it with crudites or crackers. Elizabeth says it's also wonderful as a spread for challah (I liked it with warm pita) and even as a topping for chicken or salmon (I think it would be terrific, mixed with some mayo, on a burger). I made this for my New Year's Eve get-together and everyone gave it a thumbs up! (I used vegetable stock, not pareve chicken broth).

Whether it's a day of rest, a day together with friends and football, a birthday or anything else, it's always good to celebrate with good food. Like this:

Sun-Dried Tomato Dip (from "Celebrate" by Elizabeth Kurtz)

  • 1 (8-ounce) jar sun-dried tomatoes, packed in oil, drained and chopped, 1 tablespoon oil reserved
  • 1/2 yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup pareve chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup dry red wine
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

 

Heat reserved sun-dried tomato oil in a large skillet over medium. Add tomatoes, onion, and garlic; cook 5 to 7 minutes, stirring frequently until onion is soft and beginning to brown at the edges.

Add water, broth, vinegar, wine, sugar, thyme, salt, and pepper to skillet; bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook 30 minutes. Uncover and continue simmering another 5 to 10 minutes, or until most of the liquid has evaporated and mixture is the consistency of jam.

 With an immersion blender or food processor, puree until blended but still a little chunky.

Serve warm or at room temperature with pita chips or vegetable crudite. Store refrigerated in a clean glass jar (the one from the sun-dried tomatoes works great!) if not using immediately. It will keep 2 weeks.

Makes 1-1/2 cups

 

For a Snow Day or Meatless Monday

Yesterday, after the big blizzard of 2016, I was delighted to look at the photos my friends posted to Facebook -- their kids sledding or playing in the snow, all wrapped up in layers of sweaters and parkas and boots and other winter gear.

But I -- was snug inside. Warm. Enjoying the thick, white, beautiful fluff from inside.

My kids are grown. But I do remember the days when they were young and wanted to go outside for snow fun. I'd get the sweaters on. The snowsuits. Hats, scarves, gloves, boots.

Of course then one of them would have to pee and off everything would come off. Then the re-do. 

Those days are over. It's my daughters' turn to do that now.

I can be inside. Warm. Cooking. Enjoying the lazy day.

I knew Sunday would be one of those stay-at-home days, so, in preparation I had soaked some beans overnight on Saturday, then cooked them for just under an hour in the morning. That meant that when it was dinnertime I could make a quick, easy dish to go with the chicken I was roasting for dinner.

This is the dish we ate. It was a perfect end to a perfectly warm and comfy day. Inside.

You can make this dish with canned white beans of course. I use canned beans often. But the texture of homemade cooked white beans if so much better -- firmer, meatier, less mealy -- that I highly recommend them for when you have the time to prepare them ahead (they'll keep in your fridge for several days). Either way, this is a quick and easy side dish for most dinners. And a good choice for a meatless Monday too.

 

Sauteed White Beans and Tomatoes

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup halved cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 1 large clove garlic, chopped
  • 2 cups cooked white beans (or use one 15-ounce can beans, rinsed and drained)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh herbs such as oregano, thyme, chives, or a mixture of herbs
  • 1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes
  • salt to taste

Heat the olive oil in a saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the tomatoes and garlic and cook briefly. Add the beans, parsley, herbs and red chili flakes and cook, stirring for 2-3 minutes, or until the tomatoes have softened and the ingredients are hot. Salt to taste. 

Makes 4 servings

 

The Easiest, Most Comforting Tomato Soup

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Last week I was at my daughter Meredith's house and she had just finished cooking tomato soup. The fragrance -- warmth, security, satisfaction -- lingered in my memory into the next day.

I had to have some.

And so I did. I cooked a batch at home.

That enticing smell! I had it right there, in my own kitchen.

It was so easy too.

I separated the soup into packages for freezing, but they didn't last. We ate it all, a soup-plateful before dinner over the course of three evenings.

Now I will make some more.

Tomato Soup

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 large cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 28-ounce cans Italian style tomatoes, including juices
  • 3 cups vegetable stock
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/3 cup uncooked white rice

Heat the olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for about another minute. Add the tomatoes, stock, basil and salt and pepper. Break up the tomatoes coarsely with a wooden spoon. Bring the soup to a simmer, cover the pan and cook for 30 minutes. Add the rice, cover the pan and cook for another 25 minutes. Blend the soup in a blender or with an immersion blender. 

Makes 6-8 servings

Mushroom Barley Soup

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The weather fooled me for a while. It was actually in the 60s last weekend. Now it's back to the usual for a January in Connecticut. 19 degrees when I woke up.

That's cold.

That's soup weather. Hearty, nourishing Mushroom Barley soup weather.

My mother-in-law, Pearl Fein, made fabulous Mushroom Barley soup, but I never got her recipe.

Alas.

Then I saw my friend Liz Rueven's recipe. Liz blogs at www.kosherlikeme.com, but she created her recipe for Mushroom Barley soup for The Nosher, where it was voted one of the Top Ten recipes on the site for 2015. 

It inspired me, but I was sans crockpot (mine is somewhere in my basement and I didn't feel like looking for it).

So I thought about what I remember loving in my mother-in-law's soup and what appealed to me about Liz's recipe and I came up with my very own version.

It was awesome. VERY similar to my mother-in-law's, except hers was made with chicken stock, mine with beef stock and water.

Either way, this is going into the "repeat" file.

 

Mushroom Barley Soup

8 dried shiitake mushrooms

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 pound chuck, cut into small chunks (or use flanken)

2 medium onions, chopped

3 carrots, sliced 1/2-inch thick

3 stalks celery, sliced 1/2-inch thick

1/2 cup chopped fresh dill

3/4 cup pearled barley

4 cups beef or chicken stock

4 cups water, approximately

salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

 

Place the mushrooms in a bowl, cover with hot water and soak for 8-10 minutes or until the caps are soft. Remove and discard the hard, inedible stems, if any, chop the caps and set aside. Heat the vegetable oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the meat and cook, turning the pieces occasionally, for 6-8 minutes or until lightly crispy. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 3 minutes, or until softened. Add the carrots, celery, reserved mushrooms, dill and barley and stir briefly. Pour in the stock and water, add salt and pepper to taste. Bring the soup to a simmer. Cook for about 45 minutes. Add more water if you prefer a thinner soup (or if you refrigerate the soup: the barley will absorb the liquid and soup will be very thick).

Make 8 servings

 

Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Pineapple

It seems to me that vegetables are more well-loved these days. Or at least less hated.

I'm not sure why that is, but I haven't seen many food articles lately about trying to get your family to "eat that broccoli" or "try some of those string beans."

I once posted that giving a vegetable dish a cute name such as X-Ray Vision Carrots may inspire kids and other nay-sayers to try vegetables. But I also think that, as a whole, we are making vegetable dishes more interesting nowadays and that's why people are more likely to eat them.

I mean -- Roasted Green Beans with Aleppo Pepper tastes better than plain old steamed string beans. Broccoli with Lemony Bread Crumbs is much more delicious than boiled broccoli. 

And so, those vegetable side dishes become big winners. It just takes a bit more effort.

Like this sweet potato dish (which you can also make with winter squash). The pineapple chunks are a nice, tangy balance for the sweet potato. Orange peel and fresh ginger give the dish a refreshing zip. I sometimes sprinkle in a pinch or two of cayenne pepper, but it isn't essential.

This dish is perfect with roasted chicken or turkey.

 

Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Pineapple

  • 2 medium-large sweet potatoes
  • 1/4 fresh pineapple
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated fresh orange peel
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • salt to taste

 

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Peel the potatoes and cut the flesh into bite sized chunks. Place the chunks on the parchment. Cut the soft flesh of the pineapple quarter into bite size chunks. Place on the baking sheet. In a small saucepan, combine the coconut oil, maple syrup, orange peel, ginger and nutmeg, stir and cook over medium heat just briefly enough to melt the coconut oil. Pour the mixture over the potatoes and pineapple and toss to coat all the pieces. Salt to taste. Roast for about 30 minutes, or until tender, tossing the pieces once or twice.

Makes 4-6 servings

Warm Winter Soup

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I guess the warm weather couldn't last. It was December, after all, and I do live in Connecticut.

I did appreciate it though, the unseasonal temperature in the 60s. And I suppose if I wanted that sort of thing all year round I could move to California or Arizona or Florida. 

But I never will. I am a Connecticut woman with a penchant for spending lots of time in New York City.

So I'll get used to the cold and, in addition to the silk undergarments I just bought to wear for when I'm outside and it's freezing, I'll make myself some soup to help keep me warm.

This is the kind of soup I make all the time. The ingredients depend on what I have in the house, but there's always a package or two of dried soup mix, plus onions and carrots and a few ingredients such as dried split peas and barley.

You can add lots to this recipe: parsnips, other whole grains, dried lima beans or red kidney beans. You can also add fresh vegetables at the end of the process (give them time to soften): peas, broccoli, cut up green beans. 

But this is one for cold winter weather, for sure. And look how easy it is to prepare!

Warm Winter Soup

  • 1 6-ounce package dried soup mix (I used Manischewitz Lima Bean and Barley mix)
  • 3 pounds marrow bones
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup dried green split peas
  • 1/2 cup pearled barley
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Place the soup mix, bones, carrots, onions, split peas, barley and salt and pepper to taste in a soup pot. Pour in enough water to cover the ingredients by at least one inch. Bring to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook for at least 2 hours, or until the soup is thick. 

Makes about 6 servings