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THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on,
the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for Vegetables/Salads/Fresh Herbs

RECIPES: Alternative Holiday Potato Recipes

If you don’t have sacrosanct holiday potato recipes, here are two outside-the-box ideas, one for mashed potatoes, one for sweet potatoes. Of course, they work on non-holidays, too. Both are from, one of our go-to sites for delicious recipes.


Butter, buttermilk and blue cheese give these mashed potatoes a rich, tangy flavor. Prep time is 15 minutes, cook time is 15 minutes.
Ingredients For 8 Servings

  • 2-1/12 pounds russet potatoes
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
  • 2/3 cup buttermilk*
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 4 ounces blue cheese, crumbled, plus more for garnish
  • 1/4 cup chives, plus more for garnish
  • Freshly ground black pepper

    Blue Cheese Mashed Potatoes

    For lovers of blue cheese, this is potato heaven. Photo courtesy Go Bold With Butter.

    *Buttermilk substitute: For 1 cup buttermilk, substitute 2 tablespoons lemon juice or vinegar plus enough milk to make 1 cup.

    1. PEEL the potatoes and rinse under cold water. Cut each potato into quarters and place in a 4-quart saucepan. Cover with cold water and bring to a boil. Add 1 teaspoon kosher salt, then reduce heat to a low boil. Cook until the potatoes are tender and easily pierced with fork, about 12 minutes. Meanwhile…

    2. HEAT the buttermilk and butter together in a small saucepan over medium heat until the butter has melted and the mixture is hot but not boiling.

    3. DRAIN the potatoes, return to the pot and warm over low heat for 1-2 minutes so the moisture evaporates. Use a ricer, potato masher or food mill to mash the potatoes.

    4. STIR in the buttermilk mixture 1/3 cup at time, until the potatoes are the consistency you prefer. Stir in the crumbled blue cheese and chives, and season with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

    5. TRANSFER to a a bowl and garnish with additional blue cheese and chives and serve hot.


    Thai Sweet Potato Recipe

    Sweet potatoes with Thai accents. Photo
    courtesy Foodie Crush | Go Bold With Butter



    These sweet potatoes are served in au gratin fashion, but baked in a butter sauce that’s infused with bright Thai flavors: chili sauce, fish sauce, garlic and ginger. Beyond the turkey, it goes well with everything: chicken, pork, beef and even fish.

    The recipe, developed by Foodie Crush, couldn’t be simpler. The biggest challenge is to thinly cut the sweet potatoes at an even thickness, to ensure even cooking time.

    If you’re hesitating about buying the Thai ingredients, they’re basic to most Thai recipes. They’ll inspire you to do more Thai cooking when the holidays are over.

    Prep time is 15 minutes, cook time is 30 minutes.

    Ingredients For 8-10 Servings

  • 2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced into 1/4″ rounds
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon ginger, peeled and grated or finely minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili sauce
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves for garnish

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Layer the slices of sweet potatoes in a 9″x9″ or 8″x11″ baking dish.

    2. MELT the butter in small saucepan over medium heat. Add the ginger and garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes or until fragrant. Whisk in the honey. Add the fish sauce, chili sauce and soy sauce and pour over the potatoes.

    3. BAKE for 30 minutes or until the potatoes are easily pierced with fork. Garnish with cilantro leaves and serve hot.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Chicken Or Turkey Stock

    Thanksgiving Turkey

    Enjoy your feast, but don’t toss the carcass.
    Use it to make stock! Photo courtesy Sur La


    Plan ahead: Don’t throw away that turkey carcass. Or the roast chicken* carcass. Or those tops, root ends and stems from trimming vegetables. Save the vegetable trimmings from the week’s meals: carrot tops, celery ends, fennel fronds, herb stems, kale stalks, leek tops, scallion ends, etc.

    Check the freezer for herbs and vegetable scraps you may have tucked away.

    Use all of it to make a delicious batch of chicken or turkey stock, which you can then turn into cooked grains, sauces, soups, stews and other preparations.



  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 head garlic, unpeeled, cut in half
  • 1 large onion, unpeeled, cut in half
  • Chicken or turkey carcass
  • Vegetable trimmings† or 1-2 carrots, 3-4 stalks of celery
  • Parsley and thyme (leftover stems are fine)
    *Or duck, game hen, quail or any poultry carcass. You can blend them together into one stock as needed.
    †Check the freezer for herbs and anything else you might have tucked away to prevent spoiling.


    1. COMBINE all the ingredients in a stock pot (6-8 quarts for a turkey, 4-6 quarts for a chicken) and cover them with water plus one inch. If the carcass doesn’t fit in the pot, use poultry shears to cut it into pieces that do. Don’t salt the water; stock should be unsalted to accommodate any recipe. Place the top on the pot.

    2. BRING to a boil and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for minimum of 90 minutes, or up to 3 hours. Once or twice during the simmering, remove the cover and skim off the frothy scum that’s formed on the top of the broth. Add more water if it boils away; the bones should always be covered. When the broth has turned a golden brown color and is rich in flavor…

    3. REMOVE the pot from the heat. As soon as it’s comfortable enough to handle, strain the broth and discard the solids. If it isn’t clear enough for you, strain it again through cheesecloth.

    4. FREEZE the chicken broth in portion-sized containers. We like ice cube trays (once frozen, store the cubes in a freezer bag); or in half pint or pint storage containers. If you have a short-term use for it, you can refrigerate the stock for up to a week.

  • A stock pot with a pasta strainer insert is ideal for this purpose.
  • If you don’t want to “watch the pot,” you can use a slow cooker on a low setting.


    Instead Of Water

  • Grains: rice (plain or in risotto), quinoa, couscous and other dishes
  • Soups: use as much stock as you have, then fill in with water
  • Vegetables: steaming and boiling
    Instead Of Butter And/Or Cream

  • Gravy
  • French sauces, such as bercy and velouté
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Polenta
  • Purées: use stock to smooth out a bean or vegetable purée
  • Sautés: add some stock and use less butter or oil
  • Soups, from wintry butternut squash soup to summer gazpacho
  • Stuffing, dressing and other savory bread pudding recipes
    Instead Of Wine

  • Deglazing the pan for sauce
  • Marinades
  • Any recipe that requires wine

    Chicken Stock

    Take pride in your homemade stock. Photo courtesy Good Eggs | San Francisco.


  • Broth is a finished soup; stock is an ingredient.
  • Broth has a higher proportion of meat.
  • Because stock is made largely from the bones, it contains more gelatin, which gives it a richer mouthfeel.
  • Stock is not salted. Since it is an ingredient, it combines with whatever seasonings the recipes call for.
    What about bouillon?

    The terms bouillon and broth are used interchangeably, though not correctly.

    Bouillon is always served plain (with an optional garnish), whereas broth can be made more substantial with the addition of a grain (barley, rice, etc.) and vegetables.



    RECIPE: Mojito Mashed Sweet Potatoes

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/mojito sweet potatoes ingridhoffmann 230s

    Mashed sweet potatoes with a “Mojito” touch. Photo courtesy Chef Ingrid Hoffmann | Facebook.


    Chef Ingrid Hoffmann calls these “Mojito” mashed sweet potatoes because they have fresh mint and lime juice. Find more dellicious recipes on her website,

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 2 large sweet potatoes, washed but unpeeled (about 1½ pounds)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh mint leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Garnish: fresh mint sprigs

    1. PLACE the whole sweet potatoes in a large saucepan and add enough cold water to cover. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer until tender, 30 to 35 minutes.

    2. DRAIN and rinse the potatoes under cold water until they are easy to handle. Meanwhile…

    3. WARM the oil in a small saucepan over high heat, about 1 minute. Alternatively, microwave the oil in a microwavable bowl on high until the oil is warm, about 30 seconds. Add the mint leaves and crush with a pestle or the handle of a wooden spoon. Set aside.

    4. PEEL the sweet potatoes and return them to the saucepan. Add the mint mixture, lime juice, salt and pepper. Mash with a potato masher until smooth and creamy. Transfer to a serving bowl, garnish with the mint sprigs, and serve hot.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Leaf-Shaped Veggies For Thanksgiving

    You can be very artistic with vegetables. It just takes a bit of planning. While it takes some dexterity to make this “rose tart”, here is a simple alternative.

    It comes from one of our favorite creative cooks, Vicky of She cuts up vegetables with a leaf cookie cutter before roasting them. She then tosses the cooked veggies in a mustard and maple syrup vinaigrette.

    Cookie cutters make vegetables fun any time of the year. You can make stars for Christmas, hearts for Valentine’s Day, bunnies for Easter and so on. Check the size of you cutter to be sure it isn’t larger than the beets and potatoes. You may need to use two sizes: medium and small. Here’s a good set of leaf cookie cutters from Wilton: three different leaves, each in small, medium and large.

    After you’ve cut out the shapes, keep the vegetable scraps to make stock; or chop them and steam them lightly to use in scrambled eggs, omelets, grain salads, etc. Stick them in the freezer if you’re too busy to think about it now.

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

    For The Vegetables

  • 9 ounces/250g uncooked red beets, skinned and trimmed
  • 18 ounces/500g butternut squash, peeled


    Volunteer to make the vegetables; then cut them with a leaf-shaped cookie cutter. Photo ©

  • 14 ounces/400g Yukon Gold, Purple Peruvian or other all-purpose* potatoes, washed and peeled
  • A few sprigs of fresh thyme and rosemary
  • 3-4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • Salt and pepper
    *Yukon Gold, Yellow Finn and/or Purple Peruvian potatoes will give you the color you want. You can substitute other all-purpose potatoes such as Katahdin or Kennebec (a leading chipping potato). Check out the different types of potatoes in our Potato Glossary.
    For The Dressing

  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar or substitute†
  • 6 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons of grain mustard
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon of maple syrup (or to taste)
  • Garnish: 1 heaping tablespoon capers
  • Garnish: a few sprigs of fresh thyme and rosemary
    †Substitutes in order of preference: rice wine vinegar, champagne vinegar, white wine vinegar, red wine vinegar. See the different types of vinegar.



    Headed for the oven. Photo ©



    1. LINE two baking pans with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 400°F/200°C.

    2. SLICE the potatoes and butternut squash into 1/8-inch thin slices, using a very sharp knife or a mandolin on its thickest setting. If cutting with a knife, ensure the slices as even as possible.

    3. SLICE the beets the same way. Use a separate chopping board or cut the beets last, or they will bleed into the other vegetables.

    4. USE a leaf cookie cutter to cut out the leaves. For more visual interest, use different shape leaves (maple and oak, for example). Once again, keep the beets on a separate chopping board so they don’t bleed on the potatoes and squash. TIP FROM VICKY: Raw root vegetables are a lot tougher to cut than cookie dough, so protect your palms by placing a small towel underneath your hand when you press down on the cutter.

    OPTIONAL: You can make the leaves even more decorative by scoring some veins with a knife. This is labor intensive and a task ideally delegated to a helper.

    5. PLACE the potato and squash in a bowl and toss in most of the oil, paprika salt, pepper and some herbs. Move the oiled squash and potatoes to one of the lined baking sheets. Place the beets in the same bowl, toss them in the remaining oil, paprika, salt, pepper and herbs, and add them to the other baking sheet.

    6. PLACE both baking sheets in the oven. Cook the smaller leaves for 20 minutes and the larger leaves for 30-40 minutes. While the vegetables are cooking…

    7. MAKE the dressing: Whisk together the vinegar, olive oil and mustard in a bowl. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Next, whisk in the maple syrup.

    8. PLACE the cooked vegetables on a warm serving dish. Pour on most of the dressing, reserving some in a jug for those who’d like more. Scatter the capers on top. Garnish with fresh thyme and rosemary sprigs before serving.



    FOOD FUN: Kermit Eggplant

    Kermit is the name of a small, green eggplant, bred in the U.S. from the round Thai eggplant. It is also known as Garden Egg and Bitter Ball, the latter since they grow bitter the longer they are off the stalk.

    But some clever American, probably selling the eggplants or the seeds, gave it the name “Kermit” after Kermit the Frog. They’re adorable, small and green, just like the frog.

    A member of the Nightshade Family, Solanaceae (as are the tomato and the potato), Kermit is a variant in the genus and species Solanum melongena, to which all eggplants belong.

    These golf ball-size eggplants average 1½”-2″ in diameter (an American golf ball is 1.68 inches).

    Kermit and all Thai eggplants differ from other eggplants not only in their size and shape, but also in that they can be eaten raw, and have tender, edible skin.

    When you’re Kermit, it’s tasty being green, with quick-cooking, meaty flesh.

  • In Thai dishes they are often halved or quartered before cooking, but can also be cooked whole. They hold their shape well.
  • As they cook in a sauce, such as green or red curry (or marinara, for that matter), they become softer and absorb the flavor of the sauce.
  • Add them to stewed dishes or stir fry them and serve with marinara and Parmesan, or other favorite sauce.
  • Kermits are eaten raw in Thai salads or with nam phrik, a hot and spicy Thai chili paste. One might say that dipping raw Kermits into nam phrik is a form of Thai crudités. Try them that way, and also sliced into your salad.

    Kermit Eggplant


    TOP PHOTO: The Kermit eggplant. It’s easy being green. Photo courtesy Foragers City Grocer | New York. BOTTOM PHOTO: The namesake. Photo courtesy


    Like other eggplants, Kermits are high in fiber, folate, manganese, potassium, thiamine and vitamin K. They are also low in calories and have no fat or sodium. Two eggplants have 25 calories.

  • Thai Green Curry With Kermit Eggplants Recipe
  • Tomato & Kermit Eggplant Ragu Recipe
  • Stuffed Kermit Eggplants recipe

    The shelf life of Kermit eggplants is typically shorter than other varieties. Once picked they should be refrigerated in plastic, for no more than 1 week. They become increasingly bitter as they age.

    You may want to try growing them at home. Eggplant is easy to grow, with big yields. You can buy seeds here.



    FOOD FUN & RECIPE: Cauliflower Steak

    We admit: We are one of those people who has a double grievance during fall and winter. Not only do we grip daylight hours, but we miss the cornucopia of fruits and vegetables from spring and summer.

    Sure, there are asparagus and tomatoes, honeydews and peaches to be had. But as subscribers to locavore and green philosophies, we don’t buy out-of-season produce shipped from other parts of the world.

    The folks in California are gifted with the best produce variety in the nation. It helps that the growing is so long, as is the growing area: 770 miles long.

    We just heard from Good Eggs, San Francisco’s top quality produce provider, that new fall bounty has arrived:

  • Buttercup squash
  • Baby spinach
  • Artichokes
  • Romanesco, the offspring of cauliflower and broccoli rabe (see the photo below)
  • Mexican Sour Gherkins (they look like tiny watermelons)


    The best fall produce in northern California. Photo courtesy


    On the opposite coast, where we live, we find comfort in colored cauliflower and winter squash. But wherever you live, here’s…


  • Know what’s in season locally. Click your state on this map from Fresh Everyday Produce.
  • Go to farmers markets. Here’s the USDA’s list of farmers markets in the U.S.
  • Patronize stores that have better produce. Our closest supermarket is fine for the dairy and packaged food, but the produce often is wilting so we go elsewhere.
  • Be willing to shop at multiple stores. The specialty supermarket where we buy produce carries an inferior brand of strawberries. We eat lots of strawberries year-round, so we go to yet another store that does carry our brand (Driscolls).
  • Ask the chefs at independent restaurants for advice. They typically have favorite farmers markets and specialty grocers.
  • Recognize that if you live in the northern climes, January and February will be bleak. After the new year, we’ll provide tips on how to cope.

    1. Ask 10 foodies and/or chefs in your area where the best produce can be found. You don’t have to ask them all in one week, of course. But anytime the topic of good food comes up in conversation, ask!

    2. Find a seasonal fruit or vegetable and do something different and exciting with it. To give you a leg up, the next section has a recipe for our latest veggie fancy: cauliflower steaks. You can make them with endless variations of seasonings and sauces, and we’ve included six of our favorite variations.




    TOP PHOTO: Some jewels of fall: colored
    cauliflower. In the front is romanesco, a
    cultivar bred from cauliflower and broccoli rabe (rapini). Photo courtesy BOTTOM PHOTO:
    Cauliflower steak with Italian accents. Photo
    courtesy Here’s the recipe.



    Since the summer, cauliflower steak has been trending at almost every restaurant we go visit, as a vegetarian/vegan/paleo/low-calorie/whatever option. It can also be served on top of your favorite whole grain, as a first course or entrée, or atop a bed of greens as a salad course. It’s especially fun with a purple cauliflower!

    A whole head of cauliflower is sliced into “steaks,” which are variously seasoned and roasted.


  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 large head cauliflower (about 3 pounds)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Garnish: 2 tablespoons fresh parsley or other herb, finely

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat.

    2. COMBINE the lemon juice and garlic in a small bowl. Set aside momentarily.

    3. REMOVE the leaves and bottom core of a head of cauliflower lengthwise into 3/4-inch-thick slices. Season both sides with salt and pepper to taste and arrange in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Brush the tops with the lemon juice-garlic mixture. Roast 40 minutes or until golden and tender. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

    4. USE the remaining cauliflower pieces in salads raw or pickled, or steam/microwave them for another occasion.

    Turn this spare basic recipe into more flavorful cauliflower steaks. Use your favorite international flavors as seasonings and sauces. For example:

  • Chinese cauliflower steaks: Eliminate the salt, brush steaks with soy sauce instead of lemon juice, top with minced garlic, garnish with fresh chives.
  • Indian cauliflower steaks: Season with ground cumin, coriander and optional curry powder instead of garlic, salt and pepper; garnish with fresh cilantro.
  • Italian cauliflower steaks #1: Use garlic-flavored olive oil and top the cauliflower with minced garlic before roasting. Place cooked steaks atop pesto, or atop marinara sauce seasoned with some oregano. Garnish with sliced black olives.
  • Italian cauliflower steaks #2: Make the basic recipe. After roasting, sprinkle with 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar and 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan. Return to the oven for another 5 minutes or until the cheese is melted.
  • Japanese cauliflower steaks: Use 1/2 olive oil, 1/2 toasted sesame oil or wasabi oil, and garnish with toasted sesame seeds, grated fresh ginger and/or fresh chives.
  • Mexican cauliflower steaks: Replace the lemon juice with lime juice. Serve on a bed of black beans or pinto beans and top with warmed salsa. Garnish with cilantro and optional crumbled queso fresco.


    TIP OF THE DAY: “Pumpkin Custard” & The First Thanksgiving

    We’ll soon celebrate Thanksgiving, a remembrance of a harvest feast that took place 394 years ago. Pumpkin may have been served at the Pilgrims’ first harvest feast, but it wasn’t pumpkin pie. The pumpkin pie we know and love first appears in cookbooks in the early 19th century.

    After a horrific first winter that saw their community reduced by half, the settlers had yet to construct ovens for baking. Even if there had been butter and shortening to spare, pie crusts wouldn’t have cooked evenly over an open fire.

    But there may have been a pumpkin custard, which could be cooked in its own vessel—the pumpkin shell. Our tip today is: See if you can fit it into your Thanksgiving menu; and if not, enjoy it in advance of the big day.

    Before we go on to the recipe, here are some tidbits from

    The website has a terrific account on the Pilgrims and the first “Thanksgiving” (it wasn’t called that until much later). It expands on snippets taught in school and follows the dual stories of both the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag natives who helped them. The re-enactment videos and photography bring the story to life in a fresh new way.

    If some family and guests have an hour to kill on Thanksgiving Day, send everyone to the site. It will make the feast so much more meaningful.


    The Pilgrims, 102 adults and children, set sail for Virginia on September 6, 1620. The Mayflower was thrown off course by storms, and landed at Cape Cod 56 days later, on November 11th. The party made their way to the settlement they called Plimouth as winter set in, arriving on Christmas Day. Already weakened by their travel voyage, half of the passengers failed to survive the first few months of a bitter winter.




    TOP PHOTO: Pumpkin custard baked in a pumpkin. Photo courtesy Souffle Bombay. BOTTOM PHOTO: A sugar pumpkin, the best size and shape for this recipe. Photo courtesy Art Of The Home.


    During those winter months, it was very difficult to find food and build shelter. Fortunately, the local native people, called Wampanoag, shared their knowledge and helped the colonists survive.

    Ten months after they arrived the settlers had constructed seven cottages, a common meeting house and three storehouses for the food from their first harvest. The Wampanoag Squanto taught the settlers how to plant native crops like corn and squash.

    Our national holiday commemorates the feast held in the autumn of 1621 to celebrate the colony’s first successful harvest. It was considered a harvest celebration, and was not called Thanksgiving. The “thanksgiving” concept was applied in the 19th century by scholars studying that period; and the Thanksgiving holiday, setting the last Thursday of November “as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise,” was proclaimed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863.

    What did they eat? There’s only one surviving written account of the feast, which mentions neither turkey nor pumpkin, although we know both were plentiful locally. There were no cranberries† and no potatoes, mashed or sweet. Here’s what we do know:

  • Waterfowl were plentiful in the Massachusetts Bay area. Men could go out and shoot as much duck and geese as they liked. The women would pluck them and roast them over the fireplaces in their cottages.
  • Children would grind corn into cornmeal which was then made into porridge called samp (think oatmeal made from corn).
  • For their first harvest feast, the Wampanoag leader, Massasoit, sent 5 warriors to hunt five deer as a gift to the colonists. Venison was a favorite Wampanoag food.
  • The duck and venison were likely accompanied by cabbage, corn, onions, squash (including pumpkin) and seafood. Mussels clung to the rocks along the shore—easy pickings.
  • The 1621 feast lasted about a week, spanning several meals and games for both children and adults. Sometimes the Wampanoag and Pilgrims dined together, sometimes apart.
    *The Native Americans probably couldn’t sweeten them enough to be tasty. Instead, they used cranberries for red dye.




    TOP PHOTO: A traditional pumpkin pie, made
    in a pie plate with a crust, didn’t appear until
    the early 19th century. TOP PHOTO: A
    traditional pumpkin pie decorated with small cookies in seasonal shapes. The cookie cutters are available at William-Sonoma.
    Photo courtesy Williams-Sonoma. BOTTOM
    PHOTO: You can also bake the custard in small individual pumpkins. Photo courtesy



    According to some accounts, the English settlers hollowed out pumpkins and filled the shells with milk, honey and spices to make a custard. They baked the filled pumpkin in the hot ashes of the fireplace. You, fortunately, have an oven.

    This recipe creates an impressive dessert that happens to be gluten free. You can also make a savory custard version to serve as a side. Here’s an assortment of savory custard recipes.

    Note that this isn’t “pumpkin custard” but a conventional custard baked inside a pumpkin. You can make a pumpkin custard by adding pumpkin purée to the custard recipe. Here’s one pumpkin custard recipe; there are many others online.
    Ingredients For 4-5 Servings

  • 1 small pumpkin*
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs plus 4 egg yolks
  • 1/2 tablespoon vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon of cornstarch
  • Pinch of salt
    *The pumpkin should be 4-5 inches in height and 18 inches in diameter. Sugar pumpkins are ideal, but if you can’t find a small pumpkin, look for other winter squash in this size range (Hubbard, for example).

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 400°F. Prepare the pumpkin as if preparing a jack-o-lantern: Cut off the top leaving the stem intact and scoop out the seeds and pulp. Scoop out enough pulp (pumpkin flesh) for the custard, while leaving a border of pulp to serve along with the finished custard. Place the large bottom portion on a baking sheet. Reserve the top (stem end) for later.

    2. COMBINE the sugar, eggs and vanilla in a mixing bowl and whisk until combined. Add the heavy cream, cornstarch and salt and whisk until fully combined. Pour the mixture into the prepared pumpkin, leaving a 3/4-inch space between the filling and the top of the pumpkin. Bake for 15 minutes; then cover the top of the pumpkin loosely with foil and bake another 15 minutes.

    3. LOWER the oven temperature to 375°F, place the top of the pumpkin on the tray and continue to bake for another 15 minutes. Remove the foil and bake an additional 30 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the custard comes out almost clean.

    4. TURN off the oven, allow the pumpkin to cool for an hour, then place it a refrigerator or in your cold garage, loosely covered with plastic wrap or foil. Allow the custard to set 6 hours or overnight. This is a good recipe to assign to a guest, since if you’re making the rest of the dinner, you (a) have your hands full and (b) your fridge is packed.

    5. TO SERVE: Scoop the custard into dessert bowls, scraping the sides to include some of the baked pumpkin.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Stuffed Acorn Squash

    Whole Acorn Squash

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01 data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/acorn whole halved 230

    TOP PHOTO: Whole acorn squash. BOTTOM
    PHOTO: Halved and seeded acorn squash.
    Photos courtesy Good Eggs | San Francisco.


    Last night we were out with a group of friends, the majority of whom ordered healthy roast vegetable plates for dinner. Roasting vegetables at home arose as a topic, and surprise:

    While most of us roasted sliced root vegetables, only two baked halved acorn or butternut squash.

    The reason given: It’s difficult (and scary) to cut the hard squash with a knife. So they purchased already-peeled and diced squash.

    Anyone with a sharp knife and a degree of caution can cut open a hard squash. Do not be intimidated by a vegetable!

    Sharpen your knife and watch this video.

    When you get comfortable with the process, you don’t even need to cut off the ends. We prefer to leave them on for aesthetic appeal, and use this technique—a rocking knife motion—to slice the squash in half.

    Now there’s nothing wrong baking the squash halves with a bit of butter or oil, salt and pepper—or a drizzle of maple syrup.

    But baked stuff squash is such a festive dish. You can stuff it with absolutely anything, from grains to other vegetables, as a first course or a vegetarian entrée. It’s a great Meatless Monday dish, but you can also add sausage or other meat.

    One squash serves two people. The following recipe is from QVC’s chef David Venable.

    The photo of the recipe is below the preparation instructions.


    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 2 acorn squash, halved lengthwise and seeded
  • Salt and pepper
    For The Stuffing

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for coating squash
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1 stalk of celery, diced
  • 3/4 cup chicken or vegetable stock
  • 3/4 cup dry stuffing mix
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 bag (8.8 ounces) precooked long grain and wild rice blend
  • 1/2 cups grated Gruyère, Cheddar or substitute*
  • 1/2 cup pecans, lightly toasted and chopped
    *Semi-firm cheese or semi-hard cheeses include American Swiss, Appenzeller, Asiago, Beaufort, Caciotta, Caerphilly, Cantal, Cheshire, Colby, Comte, Emmental, Fontina, Glouster, Gjetost, Jarlsberg, Caserri, Manchego, Tete de Moine andTomme d’Abondance, among others.

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Lightly oil and season the flesh of each squash with salt and pepper. Place the halves flesh-side down on a baking sheet. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until fork tender. While the squash is baking…

    2. MAKE the stuffing. Add 1 tablespoon oil to a skillet over medium heat, and sauté the onion and celery until cooked through, about 5-7 minutes. Add the chicken stock and bring the mixture to a simmer. Add the stuffing mix and cranberries. Stir and remove the pan from the heat. When the stuffing has cooled slightly…

    3. SPOON it into a medium-size bowl and add the rice, cheese and pecans. Mix until combined. When the squash has finished baking…

    4. TURN each squash half flesh-side up and spoon the stuffing into the cavity. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the stuffing is heated through and is golden brown on top.
    TIP: Whole acorn squash can be stored for up to a month in a cool, dry spot. Only cooked or cut acorn squash should be refrigerated.



    Squash is indigenous to Central and South America. It was introduced to the Spanish conquistadors in Mexico and to the English setters in Virginia and Massachusetts.

    It was easy to grow and hardy enough to store for months, providing a nutritious dietary staple throughout the winter.

    Acorn squash (Curcubita pepo, var. turbinata) is so called because its shape resembles an acorn. The most common variety is dark green in color, often with a splotch of orange on the side or top. Some varieties are variegated (multi-color) and newer varieties include the yellow Golden Acorn squash and white-skinned varieties.

    Like the other popular winter squash, butternut squash, the skin of an acorn squash is thick and hard, and it is an effort to peel it.

    But either squash is easily cut in half with a large, sharp knife. It can then be baked, plain or stuffed with grain, meat or vegetable mixtures.

    Acorn squash are smaller than butternut squash (acorn is one to two pounds, four to seven inches long), and half of an acorn makes a convenient individual portion. It is similar in flavor to butternut.

    While acorn squash is most commonly baked, it can also be microwaved, sautéed or steamed.

  • The seeds of the squash are toasted and eaten. (Trivia: Initially, the seeds were eaten instead of the flesh until plumper-fleshed varieties were bred.)
  • The yellow trumpet flowers that are produced before the squash is fully developed are also edible. They are stuffed and considered a delicacy.

    Stuffed Bake Acorn Squash


    TOP PHOTO: Stuffed acorn squash, the recipe above. Photo courtesy QVC. BOTTOM PHOTO: Go trendy: Stuff acorn squash with quinoa and kale. Here’s a recipe from

  • The green tops, about three inches’ worth from the end of the squash, are also edible (but not the prickly stem). The squash greens are a popular vegetable in the Philippines. Unless you grow your own or your local farmer doesn’t remove them, you aren’t likely to see them for sale in the U.S.
  • Squash in salads. Don’t hesitate to add cooked squash to green salads, grains, omelets, and anyplace you’d like another level of flavor and color.
    Acorn squash is a good source of dietary fiber and potassium, with smaller amounts of vitamins C and B, magnesium, and manganese. Surprisingly, because of the color of the flesh, it is not a good source of beta-carotene.

  • The word “squash” comes from the Wampanoag Native American word, askutasquash, meaning “eaten raw or uncooked.” This may refer to the summer squash varieties, yellow squash and zucchini, which can be enjoyed raw. Summer squash, which belong to the same genus and species as most winter squash, are small, quick-growing varieties that are eaten before the rinds and seeds begin to harden.
  • There are three species of squash, all native to the Americas. Curcubita pepo includes acorn, butternut, pumpkin, summer squashes and others. Curcubita moschata, represented by the Cushaw, Japanese Pie, Large Cheese Pumpkins and Winter Crookneck Squashes arose, like Curcubita pepo, in Mexico and Central America. Both were and are important food, ranking next to maize and beans.Curcubita maxima, includes Boston Marrow, Delicious, Hubbard, Marblehead and Turks Turban, and apparently originated near the Andes, or in certain Andean valleys.
  • Before the arrival of Europeans, Curcubita pepoCurcubita moschata had been carried to all parts of North America that were conducive to growth. Many Native American tribes, particularly in the West, still grow a diversity of hardy squashes and pumpkins not to be found in our markets.
  • Squash was unknown in the Old World until the 16th century, brought back by the returning conquistadors. The oldest known prin record of it is dated 1591.
  • Much of canned pumpkin consists odf Curcubita moschata squash, not from the jack-o-lantern variety of pumpkin. The best commercially canned varieties are Boston Marrow and Delicious varieties.The flesh of these varieties is much richer and more nutritious than that of pumpkin.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Uses For Raw Brussels Sprouts

    At this time of year, Brussels sprouts are in season and many people are debating how to prepare them for Thanksgiving. Our nana and aunt disagreed to the extent that each brought her preferred preparation (one a gratin laden with Gruyère and pancetta, one with a honey balsamic sauce).

    But you don’t have to cook Brussels sprouts. You can slice them or remove the leaves (as with cabbage, remove the bottom core first). Then, make:

  • Brussels sprouts slaw with mustard vinaigrette and optional crumbled cheese, or with apple matchsticks, or simply dressed with lemon and olive oil.
  • “Christmas” slaw: Mixed red cabbage and green Brussels sprouts.
  • Pickled, as a condiment for meats or a sandwich topping (how to pickle vegetables).
  • Sandwiches, using Brussels sprouts leaves instead of lettuce.
    Be sure you buy freshly harvested sprouts. As they age, they develop stronger and more bitter flavors. This applies equally to the sprouts used in cooked recipes.

    To start you off with raw Brussels sprouts, here’s a tasty salad with holiday accents. There’s another recipe below that combines raw Brussels sprouts with raw shaved root vegetables.

    Prep time is 15 minutes.


    Raw Brussels Sprouts

    Raw Brussels sprouts salad with holiday accents. Photo courtesy McCormick.


    Raw Brussels sprouts, dried cranberries, toasted walnuts and toss in a light vanilla-sage vinaigrette for a salad that’s sure to please during holiday gatherings.

    Ingredients For 5 Servings

  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons Champagne vinegar (substitute white wine vinegar)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon sage
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, coarsely ground
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 container (12 ounces) Brussels sprouts
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts, toasted (substitute pecans)

    1. WASH, trim and thinly shave the Brussels sprouts.

    2. MIX the oil, vinegar, vanilla and seasonings in small bowl with a wire whisk until well blended. Add the cranberries; let stand 30 minutes to allow cranberries to soften.

    3. TOSS the Brussels sprouts and walnuts in a large bowl until well blended. Drizzle with the dressing; toss to coat well. Serve immediately.


    Brussels Sprouts Salad

    Shaved Fall Salad

    TOP PHOTO: Brussels sprouts salad with a
    holiday touch. Photo courtesy Julie Gransee |
    Lovely Little Kitchen | McCormick. BOTTOM
    PHOTO: Shaved fall vegetable salad. Photo


    This recipe combines raw Brussels sprouts with raw fall root vegetables and some arugula for greenery. It was adapted from a recipe on A bonus: You get to practice your shaving skills on a mandoline.

    Ingredients For 2-4 Servings

  • 1 bunch arugula (substitute baby spinach)
  • 1 watermelon radish, peeled and trimmed (substitute other
  • 1 bulb celery root (celeriac), outer skin removed
  • 1 bulb of fennel, trimmed, fronds reserved†
  • 1 cup Brussels sprouts, leaves separated
  • 1 slow-browning apple*
  • 1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese (substitute goat cheese)
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) apple cider vinegar (substitute red
    wine vinegar)‡
  • Drizzle of honey
    *Some varieties of apple brown more slowly when their flesh is cut and exposed to air. Look for Ambrosia, Cameo, Cortland, Empire, Gala, Ginger Gold, Goldrush, Masonova, Shizuka or SnowSweet varieties. Browning is caused by an enzyme called phenolase, that reacts with oxygen. These apple varieties have much less of the enzyme (or a weaker form of it), so they turn brown very slowly, without having to be dipped in acidified water or other slowing technique. They are natural varieties, not genetically modified like the Arctic Apple, a GMO that was bred not to brown for a very long time.

    †While the fronds come free with the fennel, we had fresh dill on hand and used those fronts instead (see Step 3 below).

    ‡Check out the different types of vinegar.


    1. CAREFULLY SHAVE the radish, fennel, apple and celery root on a mandoline. (Depending on the size of the celery root, you may need to cut it in half before shaving.)

    2. ROUGHLY CHOP a small handful of the fennel fronds.

    3. COMBINE the arugula, apple, Brussels leaves, celery root, fennel, fennel fronds and radish and in a big bowl. Dress with the olive oil and vinegar, a drizzle of honey, salt and pepper.

    4. ADJUST seasonings to taste and finish with blue cheese crumbles.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Celeriac, Celery Root, A Root By Any Name

    Celeriac, Celery Root

    Celery Root

    TOP PHOTO: It’s not a beauty, but you’ll be hooked by its delicious, distinctive flavor. Photo courtesy The Chef’s Garden. BOTTOM PHOTO: Use the tops as garnish and in salads, soup stocks and stir frys. Courtesy Good Eggs |San Francisco.


    If you were asked to name root vegetables, you probably would overlook celery root, even though it has “root” in its name.

    Celery root is a large, gnarled globe—perhaps the least attractive item in the produce section.

    But peel away the skin and you’ll discover creamy flesh like a parsnip’s, to which it is related. Its botanical family, Apiaceae—commonly known as the carrot or parsley family—includes numerous* well-known vegetables. While not a relative, it can be cooked in the same way as potatoes.

    We grew up in an era and in a town with a wealth of old school French restaurants, presenting the cuisine of Escoffier and other seminal French chefs. Our favorite appetizer was céleri remoulade, a classic French first course.

    To make it, the raw celery root knob is peeled and julienned (cut into matchsticks). It is then dressed with rémoulade sauce, a homemade mayonnaise flavored with Dijon mustard. It was served to us in a lettuce cup, sometimes atop greens. Think of a gourmet cousin of cole slaw. We couldn’t get enough of it.

    Here’s a video recipe for céleri remoulade.

    Called céleri in French and celeriac in English, the vegetable is also called celery root, knob celery and turnip-rooted celery. It can be eaten raw or cooked.

    Apium graveolens var. Rapaceum has a crisp, apple-like texture with bright white flesh. The firm, juicy flesh has a mild herbaceous quality with celery-like undertones. Celery root can be a non-starch substitute for potatoes: mashed, French-fried and almost any other way.

    Celery root is available year-round, with a peak season in late fall and winter. Nutritionally, it is an excellent source of dietary fiber and potassium, with significant amounts of vitamins B6 and C. It has just 66 calories per cup.

    One of the oldest root vegetables in recorded history, it grew wild in the Mediterranean Basin and in Northern Europe, but was considered difficult to grow. Farmers worked to master it, and it became culinarily important during the Middle Ages.


    Celeriac developed from the same wild plant as the familiar long-stalk green celery, but you’d never know from looking at them that they are kin. Over the millennia, different strains of the plants were developed for different reasons, some focusing on the root, others on the stems or leaves.

    *Some other cousins include angelica, anise, caraway, celery, chervil, coriander/cilantro, cumin, dill, fennel, lovage and sea holly.


    Thanks to Good Eggs, the finest grocery purveyor in San Francisco, for this recipe.


    Ingredients For 2 Servings

  • 4 large chicken thighs (more for bigger appetites or leftovers)
  • 1 pound celery root
  • 1 bunch of Lacinato kale† ‡, de-stemmed and roughly chopped
  • Handful** of chives, dill or tarragon, chopped
  • Handful of parsley, roughly chopped
  • Spoonful of salted butter
  • Squeeze of lemon or a splash of red wine vinegar
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
    †Tired of kale? Substitute broccoli rabe (rapini), collard greens, kohlrabi leaves, mustard greens, red cabbage or Swiss chard.

    ‡There are more than 50 varieties of kale, of which four are most often found in the U.S. Curly kale is the variety typically found in grocery stores. You may have to hit farmers markets or specialty produce stores for the others: lacinato kale (also called black kale, dinosaur kale, and Tuscan kale, among other names), redbor kale (ornamental kale, which is equally edible) and red Russian kale.


    Mashed Celery Root

    Crispy chicken thighs, creamy mashed celery root and good-for-you greens. Photo courtesy Good Eggs | San Francisco.

    **We don’t love vague measurements like a bit, a handful, a spoonful, a smidge. They’re imprecise and subjective. The best explanation is that the exact quantity isn’t important: Use more or less as you like. Write down how much you use when you add the ingredient, and then note afterward how much you’d use the next time you make the recipe.


    1. PREHEAT the oven to 400°F with an oven-safe pan inside (cast iron, french oven or deep fry pan). Fill a large pot about half way full with water for the stove top, add a handful of salt and turn the heat to high. Salt and pepper the chicken thighs liberally.

    2. PREP the celery root by slicing off the top and bottom and peeling off the fibrous outer skin. Cut into 1 inch chunks and add to the pot of water. Bring to a boil and cook for 15 minutes. When the oven is hot…

    3. REMOVE the pan and add the chicken thighs, skin side down. Place the pan back in the oven for 25-30 minutes, then gently test for doneness by pricking with a small, sharp knife. They’re done when the chicken juices run clear. TIP: For extra crispy skin, preheat a cast iron skillet in the oven instead of a baking pan—and be prepared to remove it with silicon oven mitts or pot holders.

    4. CHECK the celery root for doneness; it’s finished when the cubes are tender. Drain and place the cubes in a mixing bowl along with the butter, herbs, salt and pepper. Using a fork or the back of a spoon, mash all of the ingredients together until you have your preferred consistency of mashed potatoes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

    5. REMOVE the finished chicken from the pan. Pour off about half the pan drippings, add the kale and toss with tongs, making sure the greens are coated in the drippings. Return the pan with the kale to the oven for about 5-7 minutes to cook the kale quickly. Once the kale is done, dress it with a squeeze of lemon and serve alongside the chicken and celery root.

    NOTE: Like an apple, celery root will discover with prolonged exposure to air. To serve it raw, blanched briefly in acidic water (with lemon juice).



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