Allspice Chronicles

Entertain like a Queen, Think Lean and Live Green! A personal collection of recipes,anecdotes,and good old fashioned advice…

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Hash-Browned Sweet Potatoes with Garam Masala and Turmeric

by Danica Waters / photo courtesy of www.cmroman.com

 

Here is a toast to replacing the everyday with the truly extraordinary – especially when the extraordinary is exceedingly simple to create.  Take these hash browns, for example.  Paired with Sunday morning omlettes (try them stuffed with spinach, scallions, fresh tomatoes, cilantro, and some spicy pepper jack), this preparation is a surprisingly simple, altogether incredible addition to the breakfast table.

Light some white candles and serve with a pot of hot tea.  (Even if you’re still in your jammies.)

Enjoy!

 

Hash-Browned Sweet Potatoes with Garam Masala and Turmeric

2 med. sweet potatoes, peeled and cut to ¼”dice

2 small russet potatoes, cut to ¼” dice

1 onion, cut to ½” dice

5 cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped

¼ C olive oil

Kosher salt

3 tsp garam masala or to taste

1 tsp turmeric, or to taste

 

In large heavy pan with a good lid, heat pan over medium heat.  Add oil until hot but not smoking.  When oil is ready, add potatoes, onion, garlic, and spices.  Combine and cover – cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally.  When potatoes are golden brown and lightly caramelized on the base of the pan, remove lid and allow some of the moisture to dissipate.  Keep warm until ready to serve.

Posted January 3rd, 2012.

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Thanksgiving-Style Sweet Potatoes With Marshmallows

by Danica Waters

Tomorrow brings the United States of America’s cherished annual Thanksgiving celebration.  A kickoff to our winter holiday season, Thanksgiving is a special day hopefully spent with family and close friends in shared celebration of each other and with a grateful spirit for all that we have.  In an ideal world, Thanksgiving inspires warm and beautiful visions of bounty and togetherness, laughter and shared memories, hopes and dreams for the future, and lots and lots of “Kodak Moments”.  And food.  Lots of food.

Indeed, across Facebook, American friends of the Allspice Chronicles are conversing about how their kettles are steaming, their pie crusts are filled with lovely, tempting deliciousness, their tables are set and ready for wonderful celebrations nationwide.  As most cooks will confess:  on this holiday, there is no place we’d rather be than creating art in the kitchen by stirring spices, magic and love into a feast for those we love the most, for new friends and old.

But Thanksgiving can quickly turn into a daunting and disheartening experience for those who have fallen on hard times, and in our great country and around the world, that number is rising.  I am reminded of a young mother of two whose husband had lost his job last year when his company closed its doors.  She was one of the best employees at this place of work- always on time, always one to give 110 percent.  Although she never complained about her situation, just before Thanksgiving she became rather withdrawn.  We all vaguely knew she must have been under some serious financial stress, given that there were medical problems within the family and she had no medical benefits, but no one knew the extent of it, and everyone felt uncomfortable about inquiring into the particulars.

In a moment of work stress and desperation, she finally confided in one of her peers about her financial situation, about how she didn’t know how she was even going to afford groceries, let alone a celebratory dinner for her husband and her precious little girls.

(Now here, folks, is where the human spirit shines.)

The news went around the workplace like wildfire, and within 24 hours a plan was developed to provide her family all the ingredients for a generous Thanksgiving dinner.  Employees who really didn’t have the extra cash to give found a way to pitch in, and what started as a Thanksgiving rescue plan morphed into an offering of food and enough cash and grocery gift cards to take care of the distressed employee and her family for a good while.

This Thanksgiving, the Allspice Chronicles would like to offer its first toast to the human spirit.  May we always remain aware of and sensitive to the plight of others, and may we diligently work together to alleviate suffering in our own backyard, if not worldwide.

It is, after all, a very small world.

To that point, after posting Camille Glenn’s recipe for Alabama Yams with Oranges, one of our readers from Africa submitted a request for the Allspice Chronicles to expand on the traditional American preparation for Sweet Potatoes/Yams with Toasted Marshmallows.  Given that the sweet potato is a staple of the African diet, and given the horrible state of drought and famine that certain portions of Africa are experiencing, it was humbling,  endearing and enlightening to receive such a request.

We at the Allspice Chronicles hope more than anything to see the eradication of world hunger, poverty, suffering.  It is the least we can do to provide a recipe, extracted from the sentimental foundation of our cherished common American experiences, and we look forward to the day when our little blog will feature personal stories and heirloom recipes from around the world.  Diversity makes us rich, stories show us how much we are the same.

After all, food, like music,  is an international language.   We all may express it differently, but in the end it contains the same basic ingredients which serve to nourish and inspire, comfort and console our weary spirits.  And for this, may we all be thankful.

Here’s the recipe for Thanksgiving-Style Sweet Potatoes With Marshmallows.

Enjoy!

 

Thanksgiving-Style Sweet Potatoes With Marshmallows

4-5 medium sweet potatoes

1/4 C butter

1/4 C milk

2-3 Tbsp brown sugar

1/2 tsp salt

Marshmallows

 

Bake sweet potatoes until soft.  Scoop out the soft flesh from the skins into a large bowl; discard the skins.  Add butter, milk, salt, and brown sugar; mix with hand mixer or potato masher until light and fluffy.  Taste mixture and adjust seasonings to suit your preference; mix thoroughly.

Spoon sweet potato mixture into buttered 9 x 9″ baking dish.

Top with miniature marshmallows, or with whole marshmallows cut in half.

Bake at 350 degrees F for approximately 20 minutes;  switch heat to “Broil – High Heat” and allow to cook until marshmallows bubble and turn dark brown on top.  (This will give it the perfect flavor)

Allow to rest 5 minutes prior to serving.

Serves 4 – 6

 

 

 

 

Posted November 23rd, 2011.

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Alabama Yams With Oranges

by Danica Waters / image courtesy of www.unwinnable.com

Traditionally, any yam served in my childhood home during the month of November was baked, mashed with butter, cream, a wee bit of salt and brown sugar, and covered with mounds of fluffy marshmallows that were subsequently broiled until nearly black and gooey on top.  Come to think of it, the only time we actually ate yams back then was during the month of November.

Upon having children of my own and deciding early on there was no way I was going to feed my babies processed baby nasty-food,  I did some research into the nutritional merits of these terrific tubers.  It seems they have a far lower glycemic index than regular potatoes.  They also happen to be packed with potassium, manganese, vitamin C and vitamin B3 while registering low on the sodium counter.  Best of all, kids actually like to eat them with little or no negotiation, marshmallows or no marshmallows.   I started serving them regularly to the whole family as a tasty side that could double as homemade baby food.  Two birds with one stone?  That’s how I roll!  Baked in their skins with a dash of butter, seasoned with salt and pepper, or cut up and oven-roasted, yams are delicious and appear on my household menus at least once a week.

However tasty the good old fashioned yam might happen to be all by itself, the holidays call for something a bit more elegant, more celebratory.  This is it.  From the Heritage of Southern Cooking, author (and southern cooking guru) Camille Glenn has this to say:

 

” This is the Deep South way with yams or sweet potatoes.  It seems to always show up with the Thanksgiving turkey, but it is just as compatible with a good ham or chicken.  Do not peel either the potatoes or the orange.  If you don’t have a luscious rich sauce, you have been too cautious with the butter.”

 

Amen.  Be sure to slice the oranges as thin as possible – if you have a mandoline slicer, use it, but if not, just be sure to cut the slices super-thin.  Use real butter, and for heaven’s sake, listen to Ms. Glenn!  Don’t be shy!  It’s the holidays, after all.  This dish is excellent served with Green Beans Sauteed With Olive Oil; the citrus overtones keep the palate fresh and thoroughly entertained.

Enjoy!

 

Alabama Yams With Oranges

(Heritage of Southern Cooking, by Camille Glenn)

6 yams or sweet potatoes, fully cooked and cooled (I bake mine for approximately 30 minutes at 400 degrees – the yam shouldn’t be too mushy, but it should be cooked to the point that it can be easily sliced)

3 navel oranges, thinly sliced

1/2 to 3/4 C (1 to –1/2 sticks) butter

3/4 C sugar

1 C fresh orange juice

2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice, or more to taste

 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Peel and slice the cooked sweet potatoes very thin and place one layer in a shallow buttered baking dish.  Top with a layer of orange slices.  Dot generously with butter and sprinkle with sugar.  Continue layering.  You should have 3 layers, ending with a layer of potatoes, butter, and topping it off with sugar.

Mix the orange juice with the lemon juice and pour it over the potatoes.

Bake until a pleasant syrup has formed and the top is tinged with brown.

Serves 6 – 8

 

 

Posted November 9th, 2011.

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Green Beans Sauteed in Olive Oil

by Danica Waters / image courtesy of www.moosecrossinggardencenter.com

 

There are lots of recipes for sautéed green beans out there in the wild blue yonder.  Most of those recipes invite a whole lot of other ingredients to the party: tomatoes, wine, garlic, cream of mushroom soup, etc. – the list goes on and on.  It seems that somewhere along the way, we forgot that the good ol’ green bean can hold its own on the dinner table; its simple, spectacularly fresh flavor doesn’t need a lot of help as long as it’s treated properly.  Allowed to simply be itself, the green bean has all sorts of great things to offer:  Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Manganese, and a full range of beneficial B Vitamins, carotenoids, and antioxidans are but a few of its virtues.

 

This recipe is simple.  It features fresh green beans sautéed in a bit of extra virgin olive oil until crisp tender, and sprinkled with kosher salt and fresh lemon juice.  Exquisite!  .

 

An excellent accompaniment to Chicken with Tarragon Cream Sauce, these green beans go well with French and Italian cuisines, in addition to fish, poultry, and vegetarian dishes.  This preparation is so delicious, it might have you looking at that grayish green been casserole on the Thanksgiving menu in a whole new light.

 

Enjoy!

 

Green Beans Sauteed in Olive Oil

(serves 4)

 

1 lb fresh green beans, washed, trimmed, and patted dry

2-3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Juice of ½ a lemon

Kosher Salt to taste

 

Prepare beans, be sure they are thoroughly dry to avoid splatter when they are added to the oil.

In a wide, shallow sauté pan or frying pan, heat olive oil until hot but not smoking.  Add green beans and cover; allow to cook for about a minute.  Beans should be lightly browned, but not charred – keep your eye on them.  Remove cover and allow condensation to run back into the pan; turn beans and cook another minute.  Once beans are browned a bit on all sides, add 2 -3 Tbsp water to the pan.  Reduce heat to medium and allow to steam until beans are bright green and crisp tender, approximately an additional 3 -5 minutes, depending on your preference.

 

Remove to a serving dish; squeeze fresh lemon juice over beans and season with Kosher Salt to taste.  Toss well and serve.

 

Posted October 20th, 2011.

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Balsamic Glazed Acorn Squash

by Danica Waters

 

In the chilly autumn evenings, nothing beats the flavor and aroma of warm, baked squash.  While acorn squash is typically associated with winter squash varieties, it actually belongs to the same species as summer squashes, such as zucchini and yellow crooknecks.  Thankfully, the tough skin of an acorn squash allows it to keep for weeks in a cool, dark place, making it a favorite staple for the fall and winter months.

 

The best acorn squash should be approximately one to three pounds, and feel heavy for its size.  If the squash is any bigger than that, you run the risk of getting a squash that has been harvested too late in the season, which will render the squash tough and stringy.  Look for a squash that has a nice combination of green and orange coloring, that’s not too shiny.  If the squash is shiny and completely green, it’s been harvested prematurely.

 

Nutritionally, a one-cup serving of acorn squash comes in at a meager 115 calories and is packed with fiber, potassium, and magnesium.  That same one cup serving will also give you 2 grams of protein and 30% of your daily Vitamin C requirements, which makes it a very attractive alternative to, say, diet-killer mashed potatoes.  While acorn squash is traditionally baked and seasoned with loads of butter and brown sugar, this recipe features a figure-friendly basting with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

 

And F.Y.I.:  try roasting and seasoning the acorn squash seeds for sprinkling on salads.  They’re edible and delicious!

 

Enjoy!

 

Balsamic Glazed Acorn Squash

 

Acorn squash, figure on serving one-half of a squash per person

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Kosher Salt

Balsamic Vinegar

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Wash acorn squash (see recipe for vinegar-based vegetable wash).  Cut squash in half lengthwise; scoop out seeds and long fibrous strands.

 

Sprinkle squash halves with kosher salt; place face down in a large roasting pan.  Add water to the pan to a depth of 1/4” and place in oven. Bake approximately 20-25 minutes, or until squash is tender but still firm.

 

Remove from oven and allow to cool; slice squash halves into 1-1/2” sections on the bias and put back in the roasting pan, right-side up.  Brush each section generously with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and return to hot oven.

 

Bake five minutes; baste squash with balsamic vinegar.  Repeat process until squash is very tender and well-roasted.  Season with additional salt and pepper, to taste.

 

Posted October 13th, 2011.

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The Romanesco: Roasted with Garlic, Onion and Almonds

by Danica Waters

Is it a modified American version of broccoli? A Roman Cauliflower? A German Cabbage? No one knows for sure. Only one thing is certain about this almost alien-looking annual: The Romanesco is a fabulous fractal, pleasing to nearly any palate, and guaranteed to grace any table to which it happens to be invited.

First documented in sixteenth century Italy, the Romanesco is a mild-tasting hybrid between broccoli and cauliflower, packed with important vitamins and minerals that support vision and overall immunity. What makes it even better is that it’s FUN to look at, and FUN to eat. Tell your kids it’s Martian food at Halloween, or that they’re feasting on miniature Christmas trees plucked from a fairy forest.   Its mild, mellow, and somewhat nutty flavor makes it equally effective served as crudites’ as it is when cooked ’til crisp-tender and incorporated into other dishes or served as a side.

Here’s a tasty, more grown-up way to enjoy this exotic vegetable.

Enjoy!

 

The Romanesco: Roasted With Garlic, Onion, and Almonds

(Danica Waters)

1 head Romanesco Broccoli/Cauliflower/Cabbage/Whatever, trimmed and cut into sections approximately 1 inch in diameter, larger sections cut appropriately to ensure even cooking
1 large yellow onion, peeled and sliced to 1/4 inch
5-6 large cloves fresh garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
1/4 C sliced almonds
Olive oil
White Balsamic Vinegar, to taste
Salt & Freshly Ground Black Pepper, to taste
Freshly grated Parmesan or Asiago cheese

In large, heatproof saute’ pan, heat oil until hot but not smoking. Add sliced garlic and cook until pale golden brown. Add onion slices and cook until soft and translucent; add Romanesco, White Balsamic Vinegar to taste, and 2 Tbsp water. Reduce heat, cover and cook until Romanesco is crisp-tender, approximately 7 minutes, or until it has reached desired texture. (Be careful not to overcook – it turns to mush and isn’t as palatable!) While Romanesco is cooking, preheat your broiler.

Remove from heat and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Sprinkle with almonds and grated Parmesan or Asiago; place pan, uncovered, under broiler until cheeses have melted and turned golden brown.

Serve immediately.

(Serves 4)

Posted September 26th, 2011.

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Collard Greens

There is little in the vegetable world that compares to a great batch of collard greens.  I’m not talking about those sulfurous-smelling minced bits of greens our mothers used to buy frozen in a Birds-Eye box.  Ewwwww…  I’m talking about fresh, firm, healthy collard greens, cooked ‘til crisp-tender with caramelized onions and garlic and lightly dressed with a spicy pepper sauce.  Amazing.

 

Make no mistake:  collard greens are more than just a pretty taste.  It seems that collard greens have the greatest cholesterol-lowering ability of all commonly eaten cruciferous (i.e. from the cabbage family) vegetables, beating out mustard greens, kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage.  Additionally, collard greens contain unique anti-cancer properties that support the body’s detox and anti-inflammatory systems.  To read more on the health benefits of collard greens, click here.

 

Back to the pretty taste:  collards are exceptionally quick and easy to prepare.  Be careful not to overcook them; not only will overcooked collards lose many of their health benefits, but they’ll develop a sulfury smell as well.  Serve them with grilled parmesan chicken sausages and garlic-mashed red potatoes with the skins left on, or with Cajun red beans and rice and a slice of fresh cornbread.  You’ll be addicted.  (And healthy, too…)

 

Enjoy!

 

Collard Greens

 

1 large onion, coarsely chopped

2 heads of garlic, minced, or left in slices if you prefer a stronger flavor

Extra virgin olive oil

1 bunch fresh collard greens, washed, cut to 2” pieces, ends trimmed and discarded, and stems trimmed to 1”

Vinegar to taste from a jar of hot pickled peppers, such as Trappey’s Peppers in Vinegar  

 

 

In a large heavy skillet, sauté onions and garlic in olive oil until caramelized.  Add a bit more oil and bring to medium-high heat; add chopped collard greens and stems and stir quickly to coat with infused oil.  Add 1/3 C water to greens and bring to a boil; reduce heat to simmer and cover.  Steam collards until they turn bright green and are crisp-tender in texture, approximately 3-5 minutes, checking frequently.

 

When ready, remove collards to a serving bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Sprinkle greens to taste with hot pepper vinegar and toss lightly.

 

Serve, and enjoy!

 

 

 

 

Posted July 29th, 2011.

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Southwestern Corn Cakes

by Danica Waters

These savory little cakes are the perfect thing to make when you want a little something extra with that salad or those kabobs.  This recipe was originally published in the March 1993 issue of Gourmet Magazine; it is part of a much more extensive and complex Southwestern menu that involves fire-roasting everything.

Fear not. This is the easy part of that menu.

Enjoy!

Southwestern Corn Cakes

(Gourmet Magazine March 1993)

 

1 C stone-ground yellow cornmeal

1/2 C all-purpose flour

1 tsp salt

3/4 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

2 tsp sugar

2 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus additional melted butter for brushing the griddle

1 large egg

1 C buttermilk

1 C fresh or frozen thawed corn, chopped coarse

1/4 C finely chopped onion

1/4 C finely chopped, rinsed, drained, and patted-dry bottled roasted red peppers

1 fresh jalapeno or serrano chili (or to taste) seeded and minced (remember to wear rubber gloves)

1 C coarsely grated Monterrey Jack cheese

 

In a bowl whisk together the cornmeal, flour, salt, baking soda, pepper and sugar.  In another bowl whisk together 2 Tbsp of the melted butter, egg, and buttermilk; stir in the corn, onion and minced red pepper, chili, and Monterrey Jack.  Add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, stir until just combined.

Heat a griddle over moderately high heat until it is hot, brush it lightly with melted butter, and working in batches, drop the batter by a 1/4-cup measure onto the griddle.  Spread the batter slightly to form 3-1/2  to 4-inch cakes.  Cook the cakes for 2-3 minutes on each side, or until golden, and transfer them to a heatproof platter;  keep warm.  Makes about 12 corn cakes.

Posted July 8th, 2011.

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