Category Archives: vegetables

Caramelized Brussels Sprouts with Cashews, Garlic, and Hot Peppers

So I have to start this post with what seems to be my mantra when it comes to recipes…This is so easy to make and it’s super delicious and nutritious, too.

But it is.

I really urge you to try this. It can be served as a side dish or if you want to go meatless it would be great as a main course over brown rice. And if you want to make it a carnivores meal add chicken or shrimp.

Caramelized Brussels Sprouts with Cashews, Garlic, and Hot Peppers

Serves 2-4

4 tablespoons olive oil

12-16 Brussels sprouts, stems removed and sliced

½ cup cashews

¼ teaspoon crushed hot pepper

2 cloves garlic, minced

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ cup chicken broth (or vegetable broth or water if you want to keep it vegetarian)

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Heat the oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat, then add the Brussels sprouts. Cook the Brussels sprouts for a few minutes until they begin to brown at their edges. Then add the cashews, hot pepper, garlic, and salt. Cook and stir the Brussels sprouts for a couple more minutes, or until they and the garlic are browned. Add the chicken broth, and then the lemon juice. Simmer the broth for a few minutes, or until it is nearly evaporated and the sprouts are cooked and glazed.

Urban Simplicity.

Apple (the fruit, not the corporation)

Image found here.
“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” 
 I love apples. Well, ok, most fruits. But this wasn’t always the case. It’s something I’ve really grown to enjoy as an adult…these days a meal without a piece of fruit is not complete. Fruit, of course, is good (really good) and good for you. But this short video fortifies how really powerful it is. 

Chop This! (The easiest and likely the most nutritious and delicious salad you’ll ever make.)

Okay. So if you have a garden–or even if you don’t–now is the time to seize summer’s bounty. Whether you grow it yourself or purchase it at the store, the time is ripe for summer vegetables. And when the vegetables are as perfectly ripe as they are right now, eating them raw (or some lightly cooked) with the simplest preparation is the way to go. The below recipe is just a guide. Use whatever vegetables and herbs that your garden or local market has. But here’s how I made mine.
Raw Summer Salad
Dice a perfectly ripe tomato–or two if you’re eating with someone else–and as much cucumber as you think you’ll eat. Combine it in a bowl with a few slices of raw onion, a minced garlic clove, a sliced hot pepper, a handful of chopped parsley, and also basil. Sprinkle the salad with sea salt, then drizzle it with a tablespoon or two of extra virgin olive oil and good quality wine vinegar. Gently toss together and taste summer.

Urban Simplicity.

Carrot Vichyssoise with Curry, Yogurt, and Parsley Purée

I’ve posted this recipe before but not in quite a while. It is an excellent spring soup and can be served hot or chilled. The only variation in the recipe (there always has to be one) is that I did not include a recipe for the parsley puree. This is done easily by combining washed parsley and plain yogurt in a blender and pureeing until very smooth. And the images below illustrate how to garnish it as if it were served in a restaurant. The only tools you need are an ordinary squirt bottle and a knife. There are plenty of designs and this is a simple one. Draw lines in the soup and gently draw the tip of a pointy knife back and forth through the puree. 

Carrot Soup with Ginger, Curry and Yogurt
Yield: 2 quarts
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 small onion, diced
2 teaspoons minced ginger
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1-2 tablespoons curry powder
2 tablespoon honey or sugar
1-1/2 pounds peeled, diced carrots
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup plain yogurt
Heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat in a heavy soup pot. Add the onion, ginger and garlic; sauté for 5 minutes, or until the onions are translucent. Add the curry and honey; sauté 2 minutes. Add the carrots, broth, and salt. Bring the soup to a boil, then lower it to a simmer; skim any impurities that may rise to the surface. Cook the soup for approximately 45 minutes, or until the carrots are very soft. Remove the soup from the heat and stir in the yogurt. Transfer the soup, in batches, to a blender or food processor and purée until very smooth. Return the soup to the pot and warm it, but do not boil (boiling it may curdle the yogurt). Serve hot or chilled. 

A Recipe for Spring (whether it feels like spring or not)

So yes it is officially spring, but no–like much of the country–it does not feel like it. Nonetheless, I’m cooking as if it is. This is a really simple and really delicious recipe for stove-top braised asparagus. It’s really just a variation of any of my aglio e olio recipes…but with a couple more steps. But it is still exceedingly simple and really delicious (did I mention that this was delicious?). Being Good Friday, I ate the asparagus with fish meatballs (here’s the recipe). The asparagus was done before the meatballs and pasta were cooked and I ate most of it before I sat down for dinner. Anyhow, here’s how to make it.

Stove-Top Braised Asparagus with Olive Oil, Lemon, Garlic, and Hot pepper
Serves four
¼ cup virgin olive oil
1 bunch asparagus, trimmed of their fibrous ends
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon crushed hot pepper
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 lemon, juiced
Heat the oil in a large skillet then add the asparagus. Sprinkle the garlic, hot pepper, and salt on and around the asparagus. Gently shake the pan, and using tongs, turn the asparagus in the pan. Add a few tablespoons water to the pan, then lower the heat and place a lid on it for a couple minutes. Remove the lid and add the lemon juice to the pan, gently turning the asparagus. Transfer the asparagus to a clean plate and pour the oil and lemon over it, along with the garlic and hot pepper. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Broccoli and Bean Curd Stir-Fry Recipe

This is one of my favorite stir-fry recipes…it’s, simple, quick, and really delicious and nutritious. This is one of those simple restaurant-quality dishes that you’ll be wondering why you ever pay to have it prepared when it is so easy to make yourself. I’ve posted this recipe, or variations of it, a few times before, but I haven’t in a while. Anyhow, I made it for dinner tonight and thought I’d share the recipe again. As I type these words I am–in a word–stuffed. It is so delicious I couldn’t stop eating it. The only difference between the recipe pictured (the one I made tonight) and the actual recipe listed below, is that  in tonight’s version I added sliced carrots (which should be added when you add the onion and pepper). Anyhow, I hope you try it.

Broccoli and Bean Curd with Ginger, Garlic, and Hot Peppers
Makes about 4 servings
4 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
4 heads broccoli, cut into florets
12 ounces firm tofu, sliced into 1-inch pieces
1 cup vegetable oil (for frying)
1 small onion, sliced
1 red bell pepper, julienned
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1 teaspoon crushed hot pepper
1-1/2 cups chicken broth

In a small bowl combine the soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, and cornstarch. Mix to dissolve the cornstarch and set aside. Par-cook the broccoli boiling water, then drain it and cool it under cold running water.

Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Carefully add the tofu and cook it on both sides until golden brown. Remove the tofu and transfer to absorbent paper. Carefully pour most of the oil into a separate pan (or other safe container), leaving just enough oil to stir fry in. Heat the pan and add the onion and bell pepper. Sauté the vegetables until they begin to caramelize. Add the garlic, ginger, and hot peppers. Sauté for another minute or two.

Stir in the chicken broth; bring it to a boil, than stir in the soy-cornstarch mixture. Bring it to a simmer, then add the broccoli and bean curd. Stir and toss it to evenly coat it with sauce. Continue to heat the pan just until the broccoli is heated throughout.

The Reward…

As summer begins to wind down the tomatoes and peppers are coming to full fruition. And one of the rewards each summer is tomato sauce. I make it a few times throughout the season and then usually one bigger pot…which was today. I made about 3 gallons of sauce “hillbilly style” (cooked it outside as not to heat up the kitchen). And I’ve mentioned before that for me cooking things from the garden outside is extra special (does it taste better or am I imagining it) because when I cook it outside it is being cooked just a few feet from where it grew. As the sauce was simmering I sauteed a couple pieces of fish then braised it in the tomato sauce and ate it (tossed with pasta) under grapevines while listening to NPR (and yelling at my pugs to stop jumping up at the table). Anyhow, the sauce is presently cooling in my fridge. In the next day or two I’ll package it in increments and freeze it for the off-season. And eating sauce in the middle of winter–which I made from scratch using tomatoes and peppers that grew in the front/back yards–that is the real reward for the time and care it takes to grow (some of) my own food.

Urban Simplicity.

This is Just One Reason I like to Grow Food

There are of course so many reasons why a person should grow at least some of their own food. I do it to save a bit of money, to keep me connected to the earth, but mostly because the food tastes so damn good. This recipe is a perfect example. It is, of course, the classic eggplant (aubergine) Parmesan. Most, but not all, of the ingredients were grown in my front and rear yards. The eggplant, for example, were grown in my front yard about a foot away from the sidewalk (pavements). The sauce for this recipe was made with tomatoes, garlic, and basil grown there as well. As were the hot peppers–I love spicy peppers–that I sauteed then layered in between the eggplant. That said, if there were one really good reason I went through the trouble to prepare, plant, care-for, and harvest food from my tiny yard this summer it would singularly be this recipe…it was that good. There is something really special about walking out your door, picking food, and cooking it just a few feet/meters away. And I’ve mentioned many times that you don’t need a lot of space. I live in the middle of the city and the entire plot on which my house sits measures a mere 25ft/7.6m by 100ft/30.4m (and 3/4 of it is taken up by the house). Okay…alright…I’ll get off my little soapbox. Anyhow, this was/is so good I couldn’t stop eating it. I didn’t type up a recipe but it’s pretty straight forward. If you do need a recipe this one looks pretty good.

Urban Simplicity.

Food Not Lawns

Though I have a small garden in the front of my house this (pictured above) was plucked this evening from the garden in the rear of the house. Beautiful, isn’t it. I have only about six broccoli plants (two out front and four in the back) but this time of year it grows almost quicker than I can consume it. Tonight I sauteed it simply with onion, garlic, and a hot pepper from the garden as well. This is a great vegetarian main dish as itself or tossed with pasta. But tonight I ate it as a side dish with pasta in a 20-minute tomato sauce. There’s a recipe below, but if you want additional recipes and background info on broccoli feel free to read this article I wrote for Artvoice a few years back.

Spaghetti with garlic, oil, and broccoli 

Makes 4 servings

3/4 pound spaghetti
1/2 cup virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon crushed hot pepper
1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups chopped broccoli florets
2 tablespoons grated Pecorino Romano cheese

Cook the spaghetti and drain it. Heat the olive oil in a heavy skillet with the garlic and hot pepper flakes. When the garlic just starts to change color add the chicken broth and salt. Cook the broth for one minute, until it reduces by half, and then add the broccoli. Toss and turn the spinach for a few minutes. Add the cooked spaghetti, and stir it until thoroughly coated with the other ingredients. Stir in the cheese just before serving.

Urban Simplicity.

Bursting with Color and Flavor…

Beautiful aren’t they…just picked this morning. Like much of the nation it has been hot in Western New York and the vegetable plants are loving it. Yesterday when I picked a perfectly ripe tomato for dinner it was not just warm from the sun but actually hot to the touch…it felt like it was cooked, and I suppose it sort of was. Anyhow, with it being so hot, and that I face a stove for most of the day as my job, the last thing I want to do is come home and heat up my teeny kitchen. Thus said, I have been eating variations of chopped vegetable salads for the past two weeks…and I’ve yet to tire of them. Delicious and full of nutrition. And to make a chopped vegetable salad is about as simple as it gets. With summer vegetables in season you can really use whatever you like or have at hand. And during the heat of the day this will definitely keep your kitchen cool.
Chopped Vegetable Salad
Choose and wash whichever vegetables you like. My favorites are tomatoes, peppers (sweet and hot), and cucumbers, but anything will really work. Sometimes I add diced or crumbled cheese as well, such as feta, mozzarella, or Parmesan. Dice the vegetables and combine them in a bowl. If it looks like you’ve made to much do not worry because leftovers—after the flavors have thoroughly married—taste equally good. Add whatever other seasonings you like. I usually add sliced onion and minced garlic, plus a good handful of basil, mint, or parsley, or all three. And using a ratio of 3-parts oil to 1-part vinegar or lemon (or a combination of both), dress the salad lightly. A tablespoon of mustard tastes good, too. Mix the ingredients and allow to rest for 5 minutes. 

La Tomate

Beautiful isn’t it. It is–or at least was–as big as my fist. I ate most of it for dinner as an tomato and raw onion sandwich on whole wheat bread slathered with mayonnaise and doused with a liberal amount of cracked black pepper. It was, as I ate it, still warm from the sun. Delicious. I’ve always enjoyed growing my own tomatoes, but this one in particular seems especially special to me because, as I’ve stated in an earlier post, I’ve had a difficult time with “blossom end rot” this year. But this is a sign, I think, that the plants are overcoming it (with a little help from me). I’m keeping my fingers crossed. Anyhow, if you want to learn a bit of history, lore, and a few recipes involving tomatoes, here’s a link to an article I wrote for Artvoice a couple years ago.

Urban Simplicity.

Kim Chi

I’ve posted a few variations of this recipe in the past, but what it comes down to is that kim-chi is a spicy fermented cabbage recipe not unlike sauerkraut  (but did I mention spicy). The above image may be a bit misleading because it is not the finished recipe, it is the ingredients that have just been mixed together prior to fermentation (beautiful isn’t it). In this heat it should be fully fermented in a few days, or at least by week’s end. The basic recipe is listed below, but really the ingredients are really up to you. If you’d like to learn more about fermented foods–via articles I wrote (yes, shameless self-promotion)–click here or here. I also recommend this book.

Kim Chi
(Korean-Style Sauerkraut) 

1 head Napa cabbage, cut into two-inch pieces
1 small daikon, grated
2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small piece ginger, minced
1 small onion, minced
2 tablespoons chili paste
1 tablespoon sugar

Mix all of the ingredients together in a large bowl. Transfer to a container that is wide enough to fit a few small plates inside it. Press the cabbage down and weight it with plates. Cover the container and leave at room temperature. After a day it should release enough liquid that it is submerged, if not, add a little salted water. After about 2 days small bubbles will appear, after about a week or so it will smell and taste distinctively sour. Taste it as often as you like and when the flavor is to your liking transfer the container to the refrigerator to slow its fermentation.

Raw Vegetable Salad with Oil-Braised Garlic and Near East Spices

This vegetable salad is so delicious it’s making my mouth water as I look at the picture; it’s also exceedingly easy to make. You can use whatever vegetables you prefer, or whatever seasonings you prefer. The recipe is below, but these are the basic steps.

Slice, chop, or shred whatever vegetables you like.
Put the vegetables in a bowl and sprinkle salt over them.
Slow-cook whole garlic cloves in olive oil.
Add spices to the pan and remove from the heat.
Stir the still-hot oil-garlic-spice mixture into the vegetables
Stir in lemon juice.

Here it is in pictures, a recipe is below.

Raw Vegetable Salad with Oil-Braised Garlic and Near East Spices
Makes about 12 portions, but the recipe may easliy be reduced in size.
Slice, chop, and shred enough of your favorite vegetables to feed 12 people (I used red onion, cabbage, carrot, zucchini, asparagus, red bell pepper, celery, cucumber, and green beans). Mix the vegetables together in a large bowl and sprinkle 1 tablespoon of kosher salt over them; mix the vegetables again and set aside. In a small skillet, combine 1 cup of olive oil and up to 25 whole garlic cloves (their sharpness is greatly diminished when they braise). Place the pan over low-medium heat and cook the garlic for about 20-30 minutes…it will simmer for quite a while before it begins to brown, if it browns too quickly the heat is too high. After the garlic is lightly browned and soft enough that it can be mashed with the back of a spoon, remove it from the heat. Stir into the oil-garlic mixture–while it is still hot–1 tablespoon curry, 1 tablespoon black sesame seed, 2 teaspoons crushed hot pepper, 2 teaspoons whole coriander seed, 2 teaspoons whole cumin seed, and 2 teaspoons whole mustard seed. All the spices to cook in the hot oil for about 30 seconds, stirring them gently, then pour this mixture over the raw vegetables. Add 1/2 cup of lemon juice and gently stir the salad. Allow it to rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Carrot, Lentil, and Brown Rice Burgers (recipe and pics)

I am far from being a vegetarian but over the years I have drastically reduced my meat consumption, and this is another example of how delicious a meatless meal can be. In the title of this post I referred to these as burgers but I made them into smaller patties for dinner and ate them with a salad. They are really easy to make and so delicious my mouth is watering looking at the photo. Keep in mind that these are on the delicate side, meaning if you make them as full sized burgers they are a bit crumbly…that’s how homemade vegetable burgers often are, it would be difficult to emulate the highly processed store-bought burgers with tons of salt and paragraph-long ingredient list. I added curry to these but any of your favorite seasonings would work (chili, cumin, and cheddar cheese, for example for a southwest flare, or basil, feta, and sun dried tomatoes for Mediterranean flavors). Anyhow, while the recipe may sound a bit complicated after reading through you’ll see it’s not. If you are attempting to go meatless permanently or for just a meal this is a simple and delicious option (did I mention they were delicious).

Carrot, Lentil, andBrown Rice Burgers
Makes about 8 small patties or 4 largeburgers
3 tablespoons canola oil, plus more forcooking the patties
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons curry
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ cup brown rice
½ cup brown lentils
4 cups water
1 large egg
1 slice whole wheat bread, diced withcrust removed
1 medium carrot, grated
Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a smallpot. Add the onion and garlic; cook for a minute or two, then add thecurry; cook for another minute. Add the salt, rice, and lentils; stirto coat with the oil and spices, then add the water. Bring the waterto a boil then lower it to a simmer. Simmer for about 45 minute, oruntil the rice and lentils are very soft and most of the water hasbeen absorbed (add more if too much evaporates before the rice iscooked). Drain the lentils and rice, squeezing out excess liquid.Allow to cool for a few minutes; preheat an oven to 350F. Puree haveof the lentil-rice mixture in a food processor then transfer it to abowl with the remaining un-processed mix. Add the egg, diced bread,and shredded carrot. Stir until thoroughly combined and allow to restfor 5 minutes, then shape into burgers or patties. Heat a skilletwith canola oil over medium high heat and brown the patties on bothsides, then transfer to a baking sheet. Bake the patties for about 10minutes, or until cooked throughout.

Broccoli and Bean Curd

Broccoliand Bean Curd with Ginger, Garlic, and Hot Peppers
Yield:4 servings
4tablespoons soy sauce
1tablespoon cider vinegar
1tablespoon sugar
2tablespoons cornstarch
4heads broccoli, cut into florets
12ounces firm tofu, sliced into 1-inch pieces
1cup vegetable oil (for frying)
1small onion, sliced
1red bell pepper, julienned
2cloves garlic, minced
1tablespoon minced ginger
1teaspoon crushed hot pepper
1-1/2cups chicken broth

In asmall bowl combine the soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, and cornstarch. Mixto dissolve the cornstarch and set aside. Par-cook the broccoliboiling water, then drain it and cool it under cold running water.

Heat theoil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Carefully add the tofuand cook it on both sides until golden brown. Remove the tofu andtransfer to absorbent paper. Carefully pour most of the oil into aseparate pan (or other safe container), leaving just enough oil tostir fry in. Heat the pan and add the onion and bell pepper. Sautéthe vegetables until they begin to caramelize. Add the garlic,ginger, and hot peppers. Sauté for another minute or two.

Stir inthe chicken broth; bring it to a boil, than stir in thesoy-cornstarch mixture. Bring it to a simmer, then add the broccoliand bean curd. Stir and toss it to evenly coat it with sauce.Continue to heat the pan just until the broccoli is heatedthroughout.

A Quick and Simple, Yet Delicious and Nutritious, Way to Prepare Eggs

If you’ve been to this blog before you know that I am somewhat of a creature of habit when it comes to preparing my own food. I like food that is not only relatively quick to make, but also full flavored and nutritious (and interesting to make, too); this is a perfect example. It’s a cross between a Spanish tortilla de huevos and an Italian fritatta (but closer to the Spanish version, I think). But as fancy as it sounds in romance languages this really is nothing more than a baked omelet. And what makes this so healthy is that it is chock full of vegetables…just enough egg to hold it all together. The real beauty of this dish is that there are no rules when it comes to its ingredients…anything goes (literally); it’s a great way to use whatever you have on hand (my favorite way to cook). This is a variation on many versions of this recipe I’ve posted previously, but tonight I included–besides the eggs, of course–sweet potato, carrot, broccoli, cheddar, and a sort of sofrito made with onion, garlic, and hot pepper. Here’s how to do it. Preheat your oven to 400F/204C; do this first so that it heats while you prepare your ingredients. Cook the vegetables; I steamed the carrots and broccoli and sauteed the onion mixture (the sweet potato was cooked from a previous meal). Mix everything together with the eggs, including the cheese. Heat a skillet on the stove top with a little olive oil. When it’s hot add the vegetable-egg mixture, smooth it out with a spoon or spatula, and place the pan in the oven. By the time you pour a beverage and slice some bread it will be ready; if the oven was preheated it will cook in 5 or ten minutes. For more recipes like this, click here.

Urban Simplicity.