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Thursday, October 29, 2015

Chard and Caramelized Onions, Pine Nuts, and Raisins

Here's one more chard recipe for anyone with an abundance. This may be my favorite way to prepare chard (and it's one of the few dishes with raisins I'll eat happily).


Chard and Caramelized Onions, Pine Nuts, and Raisins

I've been cooking this so long, I don't remember where I picked it up and am having trouble finding an original source. I'm going to give a recipe, but know all of this can be fiddled with; amounts and ingredients can be altered and it will still taste good. 

This recipe will serve about 4.

2 T pine nuts
2 T oil, olive is good but not required
1 onion, sliced or chopped
about 1 pound chard
salt and pepper to taste
2 T raisins, I like golden best, despite photo 
1-2 T balsamic vinegar, optional

In a large, deep skillet, toast the pine nuts over medium heat until golden; remove to a bowl and set aside (watch carefully or they may scorch). Place the oil in the pan and add the onions. Lower the heat and cook until golden brown and soft. If they start to burn, lower the heat again and add a tablespoon or so of water to cool things off. 

Prep the chard while the onions are cooking by rinsing well and removing the stalks. Chop the stalks to about 1/2 inch dice. Slice or tear the chard into rough pieces about 2 by 3 inches. Don't worry about water on the chard; it will be just enough for cooking it all perfectly. Add the chard leaves and stalks as well as the raisins and return the heat to medium low. Cook until the stalks are tender about 10-15 minutes. Stir in the vinegar, add salt and pepper and taste for seasoning. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Garlicky Chard

Another to help my poor chard victims. This is very similar to Slow Cooked Chard but is faster.


Garlicky Chard

Source: Vegetables Every Day by Jack Bishop
Serves 6ish

2 T extra virgin olive oil
2 medium onions, halved and sliced thin
4 medium garlic cloves, minced
2 1/2 lbs chard, stems and thick ribs discarded, leaves washed, shaken to remove water, and chopped roughly (about 12 packed cups)
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oil in a large stockpot or Dutch oven. Saute onions in oil over medium heat until golden brown, 8-12 minutes. Add garlic, then stir once or twice until fragrant. Add the chard, stir well, cover, and cook until wilted, about 5 minutes. Stir two or three times as the chard cooks. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Simmer uncovered for several minutes to evaporate excess liquid, then serve.

Slow Cooked Chard

Last night I brought a garbage bag full of chard to my book club. A garbage bag. To give away. Because the forecast predicted a freeze and I overplanted chard and I hated the thought of wasting it. I am officially a crazy garden lady.

my chard patch

For the uninitiated, chard is a leafy green vegetable with a hard stalk. Typically stems and thick ribs are removed and discarded, though unlike kale, the stems are edible. When a recipe calls for just leaves, I don't bother to cut out the ribs; I just remove the bottom portion of the stem. Chard cooks down significantly, so don't be shocked by what looks like way too much. I find it easiest to wash chard in a clean sink; submerge in water and swish around for a minute or so. Rinse it at least twice to make sure you remove all the dirt. Then use your biggest cutting board for chopping, and work in batches.

Chard can be used in a number of ways. We often substitute it for spinach and other greens, though mature chard isn't great in a salad and chard requires less time to cook than kale or collard greens. Though the recipe below requires a long cooking time, it's mostly hands off, leaving you free to finish other things for the rest of the meal.


Slow Cooked Chard

Source: Vegetables Every Day by Jack Bishop
Serves 6ish

2 lbs chard, washed and shaken to remove excess water
3 T extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, minced
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
1/4 c chicken or vegetable stock
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Prepare the chard: slice off the thick stems and ribs from the chard and cut into 1/4-inch dice. Slice leaves crosswise into 1/2-inch-wide strips. Keep stems and leaves separate.

Heat oil in a large Dutch oven or x-quart pot over medium heat. Saute onion in oil until golden, 5-10 minutes. Add garlic and saute for a few seconds until fragrant. Stir in the chard stems, then add stock with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook, stirring occasionally, until chard stems are starting to lose their shape, about 30 minutes.

Raise heat to medium, stir in the chard leaves, cover the pan, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the leaves have wilted and are tender, 12-15 minutes. Taste and add salt and pepper, if necessary, before serving. 

Chard Soup with Cumin, Cilantro, and Lime

In my garden one of the last vegetables still standing, and looking beautiful, is chard. Here's a way to use it, particularly nice on a cooler day.


Chard Soup with Cumin, Cilantro, and Lime

Adapted from Vegetable Literacy by Deborah Madison
Serves 4-6

8 c packed, rinsed, and trimmed chard leaves, about 1 pound without stems (let sit in colander to drain)
2-3 T olive oil
1 onion, sliced
1 small potato (about 4 oz.) scrubbed and thinly sliced
1 carrot, scrubbed and sliced
2 T tomato paste
1 1/2 teas ground cumin
1 teas ground coriander
1 c finely cut cilantro stems and leaves
1 teas salt
5 c water
1/2 c sour cream or yogurt
freshly ground pepper
grated zest and juice of 1 lime

Heat the oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion, potato, and carrot and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened but not cooked completely. Stir in the tomato paste, cumin, and coriander smashing them into the vegetables. Allow to cook for a minute to bloom the spices. Stir in the cilantro and lay the still wet chard leaves on top; sprinkle the salt over the leaves. Cover the pan and allow the leaves to cook down substantially before adding 5 c water. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat to a simmer. Cover partially, and simmer until the potato has softened completely and the chard is soft.

Cool slightly, then add the sour cream and puree in a blender until smooth. (You may have to do this in batches.) Or try a good stick blender (mine didn't work well). Return the soup to the pot over gentle heat. Taste for salt, season with pepper, and stir in the lime zest and juice. Ladle into bowls, top with a dollop of sour cream or yogurt, and serve.

You can add texture to this soup by serving with fresh herbs (more cilantro or chives, especially), croutons, crisply toasted  and buttered bread crumbs, cooked rice, or toasted thin strips of tortillas.

This soup may be cooked with other tender greens such as sorrel, wild nettles, lovage leaves, lamb's quarters, or others in the goosefoot family. Combinations would work, too.

Note: The first time I made this, I left out the tomato paste because I was serving it to someone with a tomato intolerance; it tasted just fine.

Mixed Shell Beans and Greens

This recipe is adapted from a quick recipe that uses canned black-eyed peas and collard greens. I am more likely to have chard in my garden so that is what I use. If you want to cook this recipe but can't follow my directions (don't have fresh shell beans or want a quick version) see the link below.

Several years ago I began to grow black-eyed peas in my garden to add nitrogen to the soil which helped increase the size of garlic planted successively. An added benefit is the lovely "peas" I harvest each year. The legumes were something my eastern-raised mother never served me in our western home. I discovered this southern food much later when I moved to Virginia. In the years since I have experimented with other drying beans as well: pink and maroon Hopi beans, purple striped dragon tongue beans, and this year a purple and white Kenyan heirloom bean called kebarika.

Since I grow these, I like to use them in their "shell" state when they are mature but not dry. Although the original recipe calls for black-eyed peas exclusively, I have used a variety and it looks quite pretty with the variations in sizes and colors.

Hopi beans, Dragon Tongue beans, Black-eyed Peas


Mixed Shell Beans and Greens

Adapted from:

6 slices of bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 onion, halved and sliced thinly
1 teas salt
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teas ground cumin
1/2 teas pepper
1/4 teas red pepper flakes
1 c canned diced tomatoes or 2 c chopped garden tomatoes
1 1/2 c chicken broth (low sodium)
3 cups fresh black-eyed peas, subbing some with other shell beans
10 large leaves Swiss chard, torn or coarsely chopped
1 T cider vinegar
1 teas sugar

Cook bacon in Dutch oven over medium heat until crisp, 5-7 minutes. Transfer bacon to paper towel-lined plate or to a bowl, if the extra bacon fat doesn't worry you. Set aside.

Discard all but 2 T bacon fat. Add onion and salt and cook, stirring often, until golden brown. Add garlic, cumin, pepper, and pepper flakes, and cook for about 30 seconds, until fragrant.

Add tomatoes and juices and cook for several minutes until the tomatoes break down and mixture becomes sauce like. Stir in chicken broth and bring to a boil. Add beans and reduce heat to simmer for approximately 45 minutes until they have become tender. Add chard and cook for about 5 minutes until wilted. (If you use other greens such as kale or collards, you'll have to cook them longer.) Stir in bacon, sugar, and vinegar, taste for seasonings, and serve.

Baked Polenta with Cheese and Swiss Chard

Here is a versatile casserole which can serve as a side dish, a meatless main dish, or a light meal on its own. I'll admit that mozzarella cheese called for didn't taste quite cheesy enough for me. I plan to substitute some sharp cheddar or asiago next time (I'll let you know how that goes). I think you could add some crumbled cooked Italian sausage to the chard if you don't want to go meatless.


Baked Polenta with Cheese and Swiss Chard

Adapted from The Washington Post which adapted it from The Best Casserole Cookbook Ever  by Beatrice Ojakangas
Serves: 6-8 as a side or 5-6 as a main dish

For the chard layer:

1 T olive oil
4 large cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch Swiss chard, stems and leaves separated and coarsely chopped (2 to 2 1/2 c--but I used more like 4 c)
salt and pepper
1 T water

For the polenta:

2 c milk (at least 2 %)
1 1/2 c water
1/2 teas salt
1 c polenta (you may substitute corn grits or stone-ground cornmeal, don't substitute instant polenta)
1/4 c freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 T unsalted butter
1 c shredded cheese, mozzarella for mild flavor, medium or sharp cheddar or asiago for more flavor
1/3 c sour cream

Preheat the oven to 400F when you start making the polenta. 

For the chard:

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds, until fragrant; add the stems from the chard. Season lightly with salt and pepper, and stir to combine; add the water, cover and cook for 2 minutes, then add the leaves. Cover and cook for about 5 minutes, until the leaves are wilted.  Remove from the heat, uncover and let cool. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.

For the polenta:

Combine the milk, water, and salt in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce the medium-low heat and slowly whisk in the polenta. Cook, whisking constantly, for about 5 minutes. Then let it cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture has thickened to the consistency of mashed potatoes. Add 2 T of the Parmesan along with the butter and the mozzarella cheese to the polenta, stirring until well incorporated.

Spread half of the polenta mixture in a buttered  2 1/2- to 3-quart casserole dish. Then spoon the chard mixture evenly on top. Spread the sour cream in as smooth a layer as you can. Carefully cover the layers with the remaining polenta. Top with the rest of the Parmesan cheese. Bake, uncovered, for 20-25 minutes until the top is golden.

This can be assembled a day before baking, but I advise you let the dish sit out of the refrigerator for an hour before putting it in a hot oven. Add about 5 minutes to the baking time.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Pork Tenderloin with Roasted Green Beans and Potatoes

This is a new recipe recently published in Cook's Country. I felt compelled to make it nearly as soon as I saw it while I still had an abundance of green beans in the garden. That time has already passed, so I am glad I hurried to try it out. This recipe makes a convenient one-pan dinner.

Until I make this again (with a camera standing ready), readers are being treated to some of the best artwork anywhere! Call me Napoleon.


Pork Tenderloin with Roasted Green Beans and Potatoes

Serves 4-6

To ensure the tenderloins cook at the same rate buy them at similar weight and size. 

For the herb butter:
4 T unsalted butter, softened
2 T minced fresh chives, optional if you really can't find them
1 garlic clove, minced to paste
1/4 teas salt
1/4 teas pepper

For the pork:
2 (l-pd) pork tenderloins, trimmed
1/4 c hoisin sauce

For the green beans:
1 pound green beans, trimmed, left whole, or cut bitesize (you can increase this if you like)
1/4 teas salt
1/4 teas pepper
1 T olive oil, extra virgin preferred but whatever you have

For the potatoes:
2 T oil, see above
1 1/2 pounds (or more) fingerling potatoes or small red potatoes, unpeeled, halved lengthwise
1/4 teas salt
1/4 teas pepper

Place oven rack at lower-middle position and preheat oven to 450F. Mix butter, garlic, chives, salt and pepper in a small bowl and set aside.

Brush the tenderloins with hoisin sauce, making sure to cover all surfaces. Set aside.

On the baking sheet, toss the green beans with  oil, and salt and pepper. Move to the side and do the same with the potatoes. Place beans crosswise across a rimmed baking sheet, preferably in the middle of the sheet. The beans will make more than one layer so don't plan to line them up in a single row. They'll cook perfectly in a stack. Arrange half the potatoes, cut side down, on both sides of the sheet.

Place the tenderloins next to each other lengthwise on top of the beans, making sure they don't touch one another. They will stretch from side to side. I folded the thin ends under so they wouldn't over cook. 

Roast pork until it reaches 140F on a meat thermometer, about 20-25 minutes. Remove from baking sheet and spread abut 1 T herb butter on each tenderloin. Cover loosely with aluminum foil and let rest while vegetables finish cooking.

Mix the vegetables on the sheet by gently stirring. Return to the oven and roast until vegetables are tender and golden brown. If you know your oven heats hotter at the top or the bottom, you may want to move the rack to help the vegetables brown. It should take 5-10 minutes. Remove from the oven and toss the vegetables with the remaining herb butter. 

Arrange the vegetables on a platter and slice the pork about 1/2-inch thick. Place slices on the platter and serve.


Both Betsy and I ran into a bit of a problem the first time we cooked this--neither of us had hoisin sauce on hand. So, here is a recipe for a homemade version if you need it (from

Homemade Hoisin Sauce

1/4 c soy sauce
2 T natural peanut butter, creamy best but use crunchy if that is what you have
1 T honey
2 teas rice vinegar
2 teas sesame oil (great for flavor, but use vegetable oil if that is all you have)
1 clove garlic, minced
1/8 teas black pepper
1 teas miso paste (but if you don't have hoisin, you might not have miso so other possibilities are 1/2 teas Thai Chili sauce plus 1/4 teas five spice powder and if you don't have five spice powder you can make it-- or substitute a pinch of cinnamon and a pinch of fennel or star anise).

Stir all ingredients together until well mixed. This can be kept in the refrigerator for up to a month or use it with a Chinese dish.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Nutty Peaches

This dessert is much like a fruit crisp but faster. It also is quite flexible; you can substitute according to what you've got in your kitchen.


Nutty Peaches

Adapted from Seasonal Fruit Desserts from Orchard, Farm, and Market by Deborah Madison
Serves 4

3/4 c toasted nuts, hazelnuts, walnuts, or almonds are good; going to try pecans
5 T brown sugar
1/8 teas salt
1 1/2 T nut oil, walnut or hazelnut
1 1/2 T unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 freestone peaches, ripe but still firm
Frangelico, sweet wine, or water

Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter a baking dish that will hold 8 peach halves. (Deborah Madison notes that this is a dish that can easily be cooked in a toaster oven but for about half the time, or less. I've used a toaster oven when I've halved the recipe.)

In a food processor, grind the nuts until quite finely ground but not turning into a nut butter. It is alright to have some small pieces. Add the oil, butter, salt, and brown sugar and pulse until the mixture is moist and somewhat sticky.

Rinse and dry the peaches, or wipe them with a damp cloth. Slice them in half along their seams. Twist the halves apart and take out the pits. If you like, you may enlarge the cavity a bit with a teaspoon, but I have never felt I needed to do so. Leave the skin on the peaches since this helps them hold their shape.

Using a tablespoon from your flatware, scoop some of the nut mixture and press it into the peach cavity. Place them in the baking dish and pour a little Frangelico or wine or a bit of water into the dish. The peaches will release juices as they bake and it will mix with the liquid of your choice and with the butter, making their own sauce. Bake for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and set to cool for about 5 minutes and serve.

If you use only some of the nut topping for this quick dessert, it lasts for a long time in the fridge, or it can be frozen.


I've made this successfully with all butter rather than a mixture of nut oil and butter.

If you want more flavor but want to avoid the alcoholic beverages, stir in a half teaspoon of almond extract into the nut mixture.

Madison writes of using this recipe with apricots as well. Maybe it would work with other fruits, too.

A serving option is to partially whip some cream until it is fluffy (but not holding anything like a peak), flavoring it with a little vanilla and almond extract. Put a couple tablespoonfuls of the cream in the center of a plate; place the peaches in the cream and serve.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Philly Cheesesteak Style Stuffed Green Peppers

Earlier this summer I was gone almost two weeks, and I came home to lots of green peppers in my garden. This is how I used them.


Philly Cheesesteak Style Stuffed Green Peppers

Source: Amber Spackman Jones, I think via
Serves 4

8 oz thinly sliced deli roast beef
8 slices provolone cheese
2 large green bell peppers
1 medium sweet onion, sliced
6 oz cremini mushrooms, sliced
2 T butter
2 T olive oil
1 T minced garlic (3-6 cloves, depending on their size)
salt and pepper to taste

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add oil. When butter and oil are hot, add garlic and stir for about 30 seconds, until fragrant. Then add mushrooms and onions; sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook for about 30 minutes until the onions are caramelized and the mushrooms are soft.

Preheat oven to 400F. Slice peppers in half lengthwise, and remove the seeds and ribs.

Slice roast beef into thin strips and add to onions and mushrooms. Cook for another 5 minutes or so. In the meantime, line each green pepper half with a slice (or half a slice, if your peppers are small) of provolone cheese. Stuff each pepper with the meat filling until nearly overflowing. Top with another piece of cheese.

Bake for 15-20 minutes until cheese is golden brown.

Note that this recipe is flexible in its amounts. I used probably 5 green peppers, most of which were small. It's harder to stuff smaller peppers, but doable. I roughly one-and-a-halfed the rest of the ingredients, and it turned out great.