Papucaki

Papucaki

Papucaki is a Greek word meaning “small slippers”.  This is another traditional Greek recipe that I learned many years ago from my aunt, whose husband is Greek.  Like her recipe for Greek Green Beans, which I shared a couple of weeks ago, this one is simple, focusing on 3 main ingredients.  I find that the key to success for making recipes with few ingredients is to use the best quality available to you, and if the recipe involves produce, to use items that are in-season.

To make papucaki, you only need tomatoes, onions and eggplants.  It sounds simple, but the flavor of the final dish evokes complexity.  The elements work so well together that the product is more than the sum of its parts.  So go ahead and give it a try!

eggplant

tomatoes and onions

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tomatoes and onions

Papucaki

Papucaki

Print Recipe
Papucaki
This is a delicious, melt-in-your-mouth dish that can stand on its own for dinner. Depending on your appetite, 2 large eggplants will be enough to satisfy a family of 4. However, sometimes I will serve this dish with a salad or rice on the side to satisfy everyone’s preferences.
Papucaki
Servings
Ingredients
  • 4 small eggplants or 2 large eggplants
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 onions sliced
  • 4– 6 tomatoes depending on their size, chopped
  • ½ cup vegetable stock
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Servings
Ingredients
  • 4 small eggplants or 2 large eggplants
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 onions sliced
  • 4– 6 tomatoes depending on their size, chopped
  • ½ cup vegetable stock
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Papucaki
Instructions
  1. Cut the eggplant in half lengthwise, salt and place upside down in a colander for 20 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 400F.
  3. Rinse the eggplant and scoop out the flesh to create a hollow that can then be filled. Reserve the flesh that is scooped out. (Don’t forget this step, like I did. It’s messy if you do!)
  4. Liberally brush the eggplant with oil and place on baking sheet.
  5. Bake for 40 minutes, until soft throughout. Pierced with a fork, it should offer no resistance.
  6. While the eggplant is baking, heat the remaining oil in a skillet on medium heat and fry onions until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Continue to cook to mixture for 5 more minutes.
  7. Once the eggplants are cooked, remove them from the oven and evenly divide the filling among the eggplants. Into the now empty skillet, add the vegetable stock and scrape up any remaining and stuck bits, then spoon the liquid over the eggplants.
  8. Bake for 30 minutes. Serve hot.


Black Bean and Green Tomato Chili (Vegan)

Black Bean and Green Tomato Chili (Vegan)

The first chili of the season is always such a treat. Using the last of our farm‘s tomatoes, it’s warming on a cool autumn evening.  It serves as a sweet reminder that it’s time to say goodbye to summer, with windows open day and night, and the warm sun, and a welcoming yet cautious hello to colder temperatures, with cozy warmth  and hearty winter soups inside.

This recipe is simple, and I have made it many times.  It started when one day I was determined to make a chili, but did not have any peppers on hand and substituted green tomatoes.  It was a big hit and Black Bean and Green Tomato chili became a fall staple for us (I still add peppers when I have them on hand).  Another reason to head out into the fields and pick a few more green tomatoes off the vines.

 

green tomatoes

Black Bean and Green Tomato Chili (Vegan)

Black Bean and Green Tomato Chili (Vegan)

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Greek Green Beans with Potatoes in Tomato Stew

Greek Green Beans with Potatoes in Tomato Stew

In the early fall, when for a few weeks tomatoes, potatoes, and green beans overlap at our farm, I always make this recipe.  It contains nothing but those vegetables, plus an onion, olive oil, salt, and pepper.  It makes a stand-alone dinner that is stew-like and hearty (thanks to all that olive oil, see recipe below). It can be served warm on a cold day and cold on a warm day. And when you make it, you will definitely want some bread on hand to sop up the last remaining juices in your bowl.

I learned this recipe from my aunt, whose husband is Greek, but my online research yielded Turkish versions of it.  And, while discussing my dinner plans with a neighbor of Lebanese descent, the neighbor said she grew up eating this meal as well, and she thought of it as Lebanese.  The recipe seems to be a tradition in countries surrounding the western Mediterranean sea.  The variations are minor, such as adding lamb or chicken, adding spices, with the basic recipe remaining the same across the region.

Interestingly, both the potato and tomato are of South and Central American descent where they have been cultivated for at least 2500 years (in the case of potatoes, 8000 years; McGee, Smith).  They did not spread to other areas of the world until after the 1500’s, when the Spanish colonized the Americas.  Once they started being cultivated in Western Europe, tomatoes took to the climate around the Mediterranean so well that they became a staple in many cuisines.

 

vegetables

green beans

Greek Green Beans with Potatoes in Tomato Stew

Greek Green Beans with Potatoes in Tomato Stew

Greek Green Beans with Potatoes in Tomato Stew

Print Recipe
Greek Green Beans with Potatoes in Tomato Stew
This recipe takes an hour from start to finish. However, active working time is about 20 minutes. The rest of the time is cooking time, and with the anticipation of a cozy meal boiling away at the stove on everyone’s mind, I find it to be a great time to sit with the kids and do homework or relax.
Greek Green Beans with Potatoes in Tomato Stew
Servings
people
Ingredients
  • 1 medium yellow onion chopped
  • 1 lb green beans ends removed and cut into 1 ½ inch pieces
  • ¾ cup olive oil that’s not a typo!
  • 1 lb potatoes cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 lb tomatoes diced
  • A handful fresh parsley chopped (optional)
Servings
people
Ingredients
  • 1 medium yellow onion chopped
  • 1 lb green beans ends removed and cut into 1 ½ inch pieces
  • ¾ cup olive oil that’s not a typo!
  • 1 lb potatoes cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 lb tomatoes diced
  • A handful fresh parsley chopped (optional)
Greek Green Beans with Potatoes in Tomato Stew
Instructions
  1. In a large pot over medium heat, lightly brown the onions. Add the remaining ingredients and stir.
  2. Bring everything to a boil. Then cover and simmer over low heat for 30-40 minutes until the potatoes are done.
  3. Serve either hot or cold, with bread on the side.


Tomatoes with Cheese Soufflé

Tomatoes Filled with Cheese Soufflé

If you have never tried making a soufflé, but are on the fence, this recipe should convince you to give it a try.  Even if you are not on the fence, now is the time. The recipe is simple and foolproof.  There are no tips or tricks to follow, it just works.  It requires making a béchamel with cheese and stirring in some eggs then baking it and the soufflé is done.

If you have made soufflés before, you may be surprised by this unconventional recipe that – unlike most or all other soufflé recipes – does not call for separately beating the yolks and whites.  Rest assured it comes from a trustworthy source, a memoir written by a French born chef Jacques Pepin whom Julia Child once referred to as “the best chef in America”.

That covers the soufflé part of this recipe.  Then there is the business of the tomatoes.  I never tire of tomatoes, even as a wonderfully prolific tomato season is drawing to a close. In this recipe, the tomatoes stand in contrast with the soufflé, with each enhancing the other both in flavor and texture.  The combination to me is reminiscent of a grilled cheese sandwich with a bowl of homemade tomato soup (another favorite!) but with more flare. This is a great recipe for when you have a little more time, and you have exhausted all your standard tomato-based recipes.

Tomatoes

Cheese Souflle

Tomatoes with Cheese Soufflé

Tomatoes with Cheese Soufflé

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Vegan Aquafaba Meringues

Vegan Aquafaba Meringues

The technical definition of aquafaba according to the official aquafaba website is “the cooking liquid of beans or other legumes like chickpeas.”  The knowledge that this liquid can perform many of the same functions as an egg is relatively new and exciting.  I first came across it in a NY Times article a couple of months ago and have finally come around to giving it a try.  It turns out that making meringues with the liquid left over from a can of chickpeas is no more difficult than making meringues the traditional way.  And, the taste and texture are almost indistinguishable from a traditionally made meringue.

If you are interested in reading more about aquafaba, here are some great websites with more information:

  • This is the ‘official’ aquafaba website and contains information on the history, science and a great general overview.
  • Hits and Misses! is a facebook group dedicated to perfecting aquafaba recipes.
  • This Washington Post article is a fun and informative read.

Once you have made these meringues, they should be stored in an airtight container and, if necessary, uncooked rice can be added to the container to absorb any moisture.  Depending on humidity, these meringues will last several days.

Aquafaba meringues can be served as one would serve egg-based meringues.  We ate them for dessert one night, with coconut-based chocolate ice cream and raspberries, but most of the meringues were eaten by the kids, plain, straight out of the tin (sticky, dirty fingers and all, quietly, while mom was not watching – or pretending not to watch).

Vegan Aquafaba Meringues

Vegan Aquafaba Meringues

Vegan Aquafaba Meringues

Print Recipe
Vegan Aquafaba Meringues
These meringues are deliciously crunchy and sweet and the recipe is based on these two recipes:  NY Times, and thekitchn
Vegan Aquafaba Meringues
Servings
Ingredients
  • Liquid from 1 15-oz can of chickpeas aquafaba
  • ¼ tsp cream of tartar
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
Servings
Ingredients
  • Liquid from 1 15-oz can of chickpeas aquafaba
  • ¼ tsp cream of tartar
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
Vegan Aquafaba Meringues
Instructions
  1. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk attachment beat the aquafaba and cream of tartar on high until foamy. Slowly add sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. This can take anywhere from a few to 15 minutes.
  3. Transfer foam to a piping bag and pipe foam onto parchment paper.
  4. Bake for 2 hours, and allow the oven to cool down with meringues inside.
  5. Once completely cooled, store meringues in an air tight container.


Israeli Salad

Israeli Salad with Chickpeas

Cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes.  An Israeli salad seems so obvious, it shouldn’t require a recipe.  And yet, it was a revelation to me when I first encountered it in my mid-twenties.  I learned it about from an Israeli friend while we were attending a conference.  Each night for three nights, she made this salad to go along with dinner, each night a little different, but always wonderfully fresh and delicious.  After returning from that trip, the salad became an instant summer staple, and it has changed little over the years.  Eventually (i.e. after the kids came along) I started adding chickpeas, as a convenience, really.  It meant that now I could put a big bowl of salad on the table and call it dinner.  A mother’s dream.

Whatever else you have planned for the weekend, give this salad a try, while the ingredients are still abundant and the evenings are still warm enough to serve salad as dinner without too many explanations.  It travels great, so bring it along to a picnic or barbeque.

Israeli Salad

lemon

chickpeas

Israeli Salad

Israeli Salad

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Roasted Summer Vegetables with Egg

Roasted Summer Vegetables with Egg

During the peak of the vegetable harvest, a simple vegetable roast with an egg on top is enough to satisfy the whole family for dinner.  Sometimes cheese is thrown on top (feta, fresh mozzarella, goat, manchego, fontina, it all works!), sometimes it’s served with pita bread, and sometimes it’s served with tacos.  What remains constant is that I use whatever is most abundant, and I include an egg or two per person, thrown on in the last 7 minutes of roasting, for protein.  And that is it, dinner in a pan with less than 15 minutes of active work.

This dish also works great with something from the allium family, be it shallots, leeks, onions – anything really.  My daughter, who is the choosiest eater in our family, loves the roasted alliums and potatoes best of all.  She loves the alliums for their sweetness, and the potatoes because she likes all things potato (aiming to pleases, I will be giving this recipe a try come the fall.)

Members of the allium family store energy in the form of fructose, rather than the more typical starch molecules used by plants for energy storage. The characteristic sweetness of roasted onions results from the breaking down, with heat, of chains of fructose sugars. The extent to which they are broken down depends on the amount of heat and time.   The longer onions cook at low heat, the sweeter they become (It will come as no surprise that my source is McGee)

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Print Recipe
Roasted Summer Vegetables with Egg
The quantities of vegetables are flexible, and you can adjust them to taste. This is a great basic recipe to use up vegetables and be creative. I never make it exactly the same way twice.
Roasted Summer Vegetables with Egg
Servings
Ingredients
  • 1 lb new potatoes halved
  • 1 lb tomatoes chopped
  • 1 lb eggplant chopped and salted, if needed to remove bitterness
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp Cayenne pepper optional
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 4-8 eggs I calculate 2 eggs per adult, 1 per child
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Servings
Ingredients
  • 1 lb new potatoes halved
  • 1 lb tomatoes chopped
  • 1 lb eggplant chopped and salted, if needed to remove bitterness
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp Cayenne pepper optional
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 4-8 eggs I calculate 2 eggs per adult, 1 per child
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Roasted Summer Vegetables with Egg
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425F.
  2. Toss the halved potatoes with 1/3 of the oil, salt and pepper and place them in a roasting pan.
  3. Roast for 10 minutes.
  4. While the potatoes are roasting, chop and season the remaining vegetables with the oil, salt pepper and spices.
  5. Add the remaining vegetables to the roasting pan with the potatoes and continue to roast for 15 minutes.
  6. Break the eggs over the roasted vegetables and continue to roast for another 7 minutes (yolks will be runny) 2-4 minutes longer if you prefer firm yolks.

 

Blackberry, Nectarine and Ginger Galette

Blackberry, Nectarine and Ginger Galette

While in Vermont a couple of weeks ago, we stayed at an inn that had blackberry bushes growing out back.  The innkeepers told us that the bushes had produced more berries this summer than ever before, and kindly offered to let us pick to our hearts’ content.    We came home with a tupperware full of berries, and the good problem of figuring out what to do with them.  In my mind, it had to be something that would be worthy of our vacation as well as all the delicious berries.  We narrowed our options to a crumble or crisp, muffins, or a pie.  We settled on the general idea of a pie (although somewhere in the process muffins also got baked), but the summer seemed too free and unconstrained for a pie, and so a galette it would be,  as a galette contains all of the wonderful elements of a pie, without the fussy fluted trim and perfectly even crust.  It comes together quickly and showcases the seasonal fruit filling surrounded by a crispy, buttery crust.

Blackberries

2Blackberries

Blackberries

ginger

dough

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Blackberry, Nectarine

Blackberry, Nectarine and Ginger Galette

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pea millet salad

Pea and Millet Salad with Grilled Vegetables and Blue Cheese Dressing

Shelling peas reminds me of visits to my Grandmother’s house, sitting on her balcony with a huge bucket of peas.  I surmise that bucket is huge only in my memory, and likely contained no more peas than our family would eat for supper that night. I liked sitting there, shelling peas, chasing after the peas that got away while pealing.  Back then, eating them was another matter altogether, I was not a picky eater, but peas I did not like.  These days I cannot resist a peas straight of the vine

Peas belong to a very important family of edible plants, the legume family, second in importance only to the grasses the seeds of which give us wheat, maize, and rice.  Legumes are known for their high protein content and are used in many parts of the world as a dietary staple in lieu of animal proteins.  Legumes are good at producing protein due to their symbiotic relationship with Rhizobium, a soil bacterium that invades its roots and fixes nitrogen from the air for the plants use.

Peas have been cultivated for over 9,000 years and are native to the Mediterranean region and East Asia.  Traditionally, peas are eaten when the fruit is fully mature – referred to today as split peas.  Split peas were an important source of protein in Europe during the middle ages, and only during early modern times did the consumption of immature peas become common.  In England, the distinction between garden peas (immature peas) and field peas (mature peas) dates to the 17th century.

What is, to me, by far most interesting about peas is their contribution to our understanding of genetics.  Through the work of Gregor Mendel, we understand the laws that govern how traits are passed down through generations, called the laws of Mendelian inheritance.  Mendel followed 7 different characteristics of peas (such as seed shape and color) through multiple generations to define these laws.

pea

pea

peas

grilled vegetables

grilled vegetables

pea millet salad

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This week in my kitchen: cabbage, lentils, and more

Looking back over my week of cooking, it seems there was a theme to the week: the cabbage family and French lentils.   I cooked a big pot of lentils early in the week and used them all week long to make different lunches and dinners.  My arm was twisted by the weather, with the heat keeping me away from the stove for most of the week.

Kale, Napa and green cabbage are plentiful and in season at the moment, with zucchini and cucumbers just starting, and peppers and tomatoes still a few weeks away. So really, I had little choice in the matter.

peach dutch baby

1) For 4th of July breakfast we had a Dutch baby with peaches.  I used the recipe previously published on here.  The only modification being that the peaches were partially cooked during the cast iron pre-heating step.  Butter and fresh peach slices were added to the cold skillet and then heated.  Just prior to the addition of the batter, peach slices were flipped once.

cabbage

2) One batch of Kimchi has made its way into my refrigerator and a batch of sauerkraut is busily fermenting on the counter.  Thanks to Sandor Kraut and his book Wild Fermentation, which got me into making ferments last year.

lentil chard rice

3) Rice with lentils, sautéed chard, and a big pad of butter made for a great dinner one evening.

banana zucchini bread

4) We are celebrating a birthday this week and birthday boy requested banana bread for his birthday breakfast.  Well, he got a banana bread with lots of zucchini thrown in as well.

cucumber lentil fennel corn salad

5) This was the first time I made this salad, which included cucumbers, fennel, corn and lentils.  It is worth repeating.  I followed the recipe as published, leaving out the mustard, dill and celery.