Kathy Maister's Start Cooking

Fiddleheads

print recipe card posted in Food, Vegetables and Beans by Kathy Maister
Difficulty:

You may have seen these in the produce section of the grocery store and thought “NO WAY”! Well guess what? They’re delicious! These fiddlehead ferns are also very nutritious.

What ever you do, don’t just pop one in your mouth raw. They need to get cooked first! Once cooked, you can then eat them hot or cold, alone, or in soups, salads, or stews. Fiddleheads are only available in the springtime and have a very short season. So grab them when you see them and startcooking!

Step 1. Cleaning the Fiddleheads

Fill a bowl with cold water and submerge the fiddleheads.

(I stuck them in a colander first and then put the whole colander in the bowl of water.) With your hand, swish the fiddleheads to remove any bits of dirt.

Lift the fiddleheads out of the sink and let them drain.

With a paring knife trim off the end.

Step 2. Boiling the Fiddleheads

DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP. Even though I am going to sauté (fry) the fiddleheads in garlic and olive oil they still need to get boiled first. This not only cooks them but it also removes any bitterness.

Put the fiddleheads in a pot and cover them completely with cold water.

As they come to a boil they will float to the surface.

Boil them for 6-8 minutes. The water ends up looking quite dirty!

Step 3. Sautéing the Fiddleheads

Drain the fiddleheads in a colander.

Heat 1 Tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan over medium- high and add one clove of crushed garlic

…. and the fiddleheads.

Sauté for approximately 1 minute.

Add some fresh cracked black pepper…

…a sprinkle of salt…

…and a squeeze of lemon juice.

Stir is all together..

…and the fiddleheads are ready!

Enjoy!

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Taboule

print recipe card posted in Soups, Salads, Sides and Sauces, Vegetarian by Kathy Maister
Difficulty:

Taboule (pronounced: tuh-boo-lee) is a Middle Eastern wheat salad. It is eaten cold and is a terrific substitute for a potato or rice dish. It needs to chill for at least 1 hour before serving. It’s actually best to make it the day before serving so that all the flavors blend together.

This box mix requires NO cooking.

In addition to the box mix of taboule, you will need:

  • 1 cup of chopped fresh tomato
  • 1 Tablespoon of fresh lemon juice
  • 1 Tablespoon of olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons of fresh mint (optional)

The box of taboule not only contains the wheat but also a separate spice packet.

Put the wheat and the contents of the spice packet in a large bowl.

Stir in 1 cup of boiling water.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Before chopping the tomato, remove the seeds by first slicing the tomato in half.

(The stem bit should be on the right or left of the knife when you are cutting it in half. If you cut it in half by slicing through the stem you will not be able to remove the seeds.)

Give each half a gentle squeeze or with your fingers poke out the seeds. (Throw away the seeds!)

Now chop the tomato. (Just set it aside for the moment.)

Stack about 7 or 8 mint leaves on top of each other.

Roll the stack into a log…

…and chop the mint into very fine ribbons.

Instead of or in addition to the mint, you could add extra parsley. (In the comments below, many people said they add up to one whole bunch of chopped parsley!)

Now squeeze the juice from ½ of a lemon. Be sure to strain away any seeds.

When the timer goes off, it’s time to remove the bowl of taboule from the refrigerator and add the chopped tomato, mint, lemon juice, AND 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Mix everything together.

Cover up the bowl again and put it back in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

When you are ready to serve the taboule give it a stir and then spoon it onto a bed of lettuce garnished (decorated) with slices of lemon and mint leaves.

Enjoy!

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Guide to Grains

posted in Pasta, Rice and Grains, Soups, Salads, Sides and Sauces by Kathy Maister

Most of us depend on rice, pasta and potatoes as side-dish standbys.

However, there’s a world of other interesting grains out there to explore: couscous, quinoa, barley and bulghur, for example. They provide that carbohydrate kick with a twist, and a different texture or flavor is always worth a try. This guide will explain the differences between various grains, and try to inspire you to try something new.

Bulghur

Bulghur, a form of wheat, is the base of taboule salad.

A Middle-Eastern staple and the base of taboule salad, Bulghur refers to wheat kernels that have been boiled, dried and crushed. It is available in fine, medium and coarse grinds.

How to cook it: Put one cup of bulghur in a small pot with one and a half cups of water. Bring to a boil and then cover and turn heat down to a low setting. Cook for 15 minutes.

How to use it: Bulghur is good in salads, pilafs and meat and vegetable dishes.

Couscous

The spongy texture of couscous goes well with stews and saucy dishes.

Native to North African countries, couscous is a grain that’s often served with meat and vegetable stews. Its soft, spongy texture really absorbs sauce or liquid. Couscous granules come from semolina, which is the form of wheat that goes into making pasta. The great thing about couscous is that it takes six minutes to cook. Here’s startcooking.com’s tutorial on How to Make Couscous.

Quinoa

Quinoa is great in savory dishes and as an alternative to oatmeal.
Photo courtesy of Susan at Feasts and Fotos.

A grain native to the Andes, quinoa grains are actually the seeds of a leafy plant. Quinoa has a distinctive crunchy texture, and a slightly nutty flavor. In terms of nutrition, quinoa is rich in protein and it’s gluten-free. Look for quinoa in health food stores.

How to cook it: Bring one part of quinoa and two parts of liquid to a boil. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes, until the grains are transparent.

How to use it: Quinoa is great as a warm side dish, mixed with seasonings and beans. It’s also good in salads, like this Quinoa and Black Bean Salad. For those looking for a change from oatmeal, here’s a recipe for Quinoa Porridge.

Barley (also known as groats)

Barley can be used as a base for many side dishes, including Pea Barley Risotto.
Photo courtesy of Kevin Lynch at Closet Cooking.

This grain, which comes from the grass family, is well known for its high fiber and health benefits. It’s important to remember to buy whole barley (or hulled barley), as opposed to pearl barley, which has been processed and is not considered to be whole grain. Barley is well-known as an addition to soups and stews, but its chewy texture also makes it a great side dish.

How to Cook it: Use 2.5 to 3 cups of water per cup of hulled barley. Bring the water to a boil, then add the barley, cover the pot, reduce heat to low and cook for about 1.5 hours.

This Beef, Leek and Barley Soup from Smitten Kitchen, delicious!

Grandma’s Grain Recipe, makes a big batch of mixed, cooked grains that you can use to make hot cereal, or as a savory side dish.

Rice

Brown rice is chewier, nuttier and healthier than white rice.

Startcooking has tutorials on making white rice, brown rice and fried rice on the stove. It’s also possible to bake rice in the oven, as this recipe for Oven-baked Brown and wild Rice demonstrates. Keep in mind that brown rice is the healthiest choice.

Wild Rice

This is actually a kind of seed, rather than a grain. It’s got a hearty, chewy texture and is even healthier than brown rice, containing lots of protein, calcium, iron and potassium.

How to cook it: Cook one cup of wild rice with three cups of water. Bring the water to a boil, cover and simmer over low heat for 35 to 55 minutes (or until the water is absorbed).

How to Use it: Wild rice makes an excellent warm side dish, and is also delicious in cold salads. Pioneer Woman serves up an excellent tutorial for Fresh Corn With Wild Rice – a side dish she recommends for Thanksgiving.

What are Whole Grains?

Eating grains in their whole grain form (as opposed to their processed form) has been shown to have a host of health benefits. Studies report that regular consumption of whole grains reduces risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer and obesity. Refining processes typically remove 25 per cent of the typical grain’s protein and many other nutrients are lost.

Tips on Cooking Grains

  • Although most grains will have cooking instructions on the package, here’s a handy guide to grain cooking times.
  • Toasting grains before cooking will make them more flavorful. To toast the grains, spread them out in an even layer in a frying pan and heat for a few minutes. Stir them so that they don’t burn.
  • Grains can be cooked in water or broth, or a combination of the two.
  • Cooked grains keep for 3 to 4 days in the fridge.
  • You can freeze any leftovers to use later.

Enjoy!

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