(Click on the Links Below)
In General: How
to Prepare & Cook Fresh Vegetables
Cardinal Rules for Planning, Seasoning
& Serving the Perfect Vegetable Meal
Methods for Cooking Vegetables
Complement Each Other
A Vegetable-by-Vegetable Guide
to Choosing, Preparing, Cooking, & Seasoning
(Click on the links below for each vegetable)
CHARD (See SPINACH)
SWEET POTATOES & YAMS
TURNIPS, RUTABAGAS, KOHLRABI
ZUCCHINI, OTHER SUMMER SQUASH
Now that we have at least a passing acquaintance with herbs and spices as a
whole--How does Beulah apply seasoning know-how to in-season vegetables? Or
perhaps more to the point--Why bother, when freshly picked and properly prepared
vegetables can be so good in and by themselves? The simplest answer is, "Why not
make something that is good better?" But there are at least two other valid
reasons. One is for the sake of creative adventure. Since eating is essential to
life, the cook who can transform ordinary ingredients into extraordinary fare
receives the very kind of encouragement the creative impulse seems to need. It
comes as appreciation . . . that recognition of worth without which the human
soul seems to wither . . . but by which it is renewed . . . and every time a
meal, lovingly prepared, is being obviously enjoyed by someone else.
Another reason for widening our vegetable horizons has to do with the appetite's tendency to become bored with what is set before it . . . day after day after day. Imaginative and versatile seasoning makes it possible to serve the same vegetables often, even daily throughout the time they are in season, and without ever evoking a "squash again?" response. Furthermore and as everyone knows, the fragrant aroma of herbs and spices rising from a simmering pot can put taste buds in a positively ecstatic state of expectation. Didn't Esau sell his birthright because he was convinced he would die unless he got a bowl of Jacob's "savory pottage?"--a concoction believed to have consisted of heartily-seasoned red lentils and Pot Herbs.
As for choosing (whenever possible) to buy fresh, in-season vegetables instead of canned or frozen ones, the reason is for both nutrition and economy: The peak of a vegetable's season--when it has come quickly and fully to maturity-is also when its flavor and nutritional value are optimal. And additionally, because of supply and demand, it is a help in stretching food dollars the furthest.
A final consideration is how to prepare and cook fresh vegetables so as to minimize the loss of flavor, color and life-force nourishment. In Beulah's files I came across a faded, dittoed copy of her rules for just this. Dated March 11, 1940 it was sent on request to her KMBC [Kansas City area] radio listeners. Word-for-word it is reprinted on the next page. "Amazing!" we may think. "Enlightenment on vegetables . . . way back then?" Until we recall that was a time when "packaged food" meant a loaf of store-bought bread, and "frozen food" was ice cream. In Beulah's career, 1940 followed a time she had served as Food Conservation Supervisor for the state of Missouri. It was also right after the years she had written the syndicated column, "Making the Most of Your Garden." No wonder in her files of thousands upon thousands of recipes the most bulging are those marked for vegetables--a distillation of which follows.
HOW TO PREPARE AND COOK FRESH VEGETABLES
1. Wash vegetables immediately before cooking. Don't let them soak.
2. Don't use too much water in cooking vegetables, if you want to preserve those important minerals and vitamins. Use only enough water to prevent burning.
3. For most vegetables, start in boiling water. Old Irish potatoes, and sweet potatoes are the exceptions.
4. A good time to salt vegetables is when they are half cooked.
5. Some vegetables are better steamed . . . asparagus tips . . . and broccoli, too. The stalks require longer cooking than the heads. If the stalks of broccoli are large, split them. Brussels sprouts may be split, too, at the stem end, to hasten cooking.
6. Cabbage is usually shredded to hasten cooking . . . cauliflower is broken into flowerets . . . onions quartered.
7. Whatever method you use in cooking vegetables . . . DO NOT ADD SODA! It kills the vitamin content and makes the vegetables mushy.
8. If you must drain off some of the liquid from your cooked vegetables, save it for stock and soups. (Vitamins B, C, and E are soluble in water, so to get the most good out of them, you must consume the liquor, too.)
9. For spinach . . . first wash carefully. Discard wilted leaves and roots. Then the spinach is cooked in its own juices, covered. It should cook in 10 to 12 minutes.
10. For that coveted reputation as a good cook, season your vegetables in interesting fashion. Experiment with the herbs . . . grated horseradish . . . or onion . . . spices. . . . You'll find delicious combinations yourself if you will.
METHODS FOR COOKING VEGETABLES
According to Beulah, the greatest crime against a vegetable is to over cook it. And the word for the perfectly cooked non-starch vegetable, whatever the cooking method, is al dente--crisp to the bite!
STEAMING: A steamer is one of the least nutrient-destroying methods for cooking vegetables. If you don't have one, or a trivet made especially for steaming vegetables, a colander placed inside a wide, deep pan with a tight-fitting lid will do. In cooking several vegetables in the same pot, add those that take the longest first, faster cooking ones last. Or cut longer-cooking ones in smaller pieces. Put water in the bottom of the pan below the level of the vegetable-containing part of the utensil. Bring to a rapid boil. Add vegetables, cover, and cook no longer than necessary.
MINIMUM WATER METHOD: This takes careful watching but is fast, efficient, and nutrient preserving. The payoff is perfect "al dente" vegetables every time. Use a heavy pan with a tight-fitting lid. Pre-heat the pan by bringing a small amount of water to the boil. An Herb Bouquet or sprig of fresh herb can be added at this step. When water is boiling put in the vegetables, cover, and return to the boil. Cook a few minutes on high, then lower heat to prevent steam from escaping. If necessary add a little more boiling water to prevent burning. When nearly done, if any liquid remains remove lid to allow it to evaporate.
BAKING: When beginning with raw vegetables, baking time and nutrient loss can be
reduced not only by pre-heating the oven but also the baking dish, which should
have a tight cover to retain steam.
SAUTÉING: Very little oil or butter need be used for sautéing, as little as a teaspoon per serving in a well-seasoned iron skillet--just enough to lightly coat the vegetables-shredded, diced or sliced for quick cooking. For extra flavor add a few drops sesame oil. Half butter and half olive oil is another flavor-enhancing combination. When preparing several vegetables in one pan, add those requiring longer cooking first. For example, carrots first, then celery, then onions. Or grate carrots, dice celery and slice onions.
STIR-FRY: A stir-fry pan is different from an ordinary frying pan in that it has a lid, and, if it is an oriental "wok," it is shaped to form a well in the center, with sloping sides. Finely cut vegetables are quickly stirred in a small amount of hot oil, then covered and steamed until thoroughly hot but still crisp. Quicker cooking vegetables or parts of the same vegetable are added last. As an example, chopped chard stems are cooked first, then the greens added and heated only until they wilt.
BROILING: Spear pieces of vegetables on skewers; brush with a little oil to seal in the juices. Olive or sesame oil will enhance the overall flavor, even more so if garlic or other herbs are added.
CARDINAL RULES FOR PLANNING, SEASONING
AND SERVING THE PERFECT VEGETABLE MEAL
ONE--Avoid using the same seasoning, or combination of seasonings twice in the same meal.
TWO--Plan a meal for eye appeal as well as for taste. Select 3 or 4 vegetables with contrasting colors and flavors.
THREE--Vary the textures as well, serving some creamed, some buttered, others baked, or stir-fried--crisp to the bite--and garnished with seeds or nuts.
FOUR--Serve hot food on or in heated dishes and cold food on or in chilled dishes.
THESE COMBINATIONS COMPLEMENT EACH OTHER
IN SPRING--Young carrots with green onion tops; peas and mushrooms in a creamed sauce; new potatoes with Fine Herbs.
IN SUMMER--Green-bean/red-pepper Vinaigrette; steamed corn-on-the-cob; dilled patty pan squash.
IN FALL--Apple-stuffed acorn squash; broccoli with Mock Hollandaise; beets baked in Orange Sauce
IN WINTER--Crusty sweet potatoes; spiced red cabbage; Brussels sprouts with Pimiento Sauce.
The ARTICHOKE, a meaty vegetable, is at its best in the spring. Make sure its armored petals are bright looking and compact.
To Prepare: Cut off stems level at the base so they will stand. Snip off thorny tips. Run cool water over and into the leaves to remove any sand.
To Cook: Stand chokes in a steamer or trivet and cook above water until tender: 20 to 30 minutes for small, tender ones; 30 minutes to an hour for larger, older ones. To bake [particularly small ones], place in a covered casserole with the dressing below, and cook 40 to 60 minutes at 375°, basting several times.
To Season: Chokes can be seasoned in part by cooking in a steam bath to which an Herb Bouquet has been added, also wine vinegar or lemon juice [both to flavor and prevent discoloration]. A slice of onion and a clove of garlic might also be added to the water. When partially tender, and the tightly closed petals have began to relax, pour over and between the leaves the following:
Lemon/Olive Oil Dressing: ½ c. hot water; 2 T. olive oil; 2 T. lemon juice; and ½ t. salt; tarragon, rosemary or a Fine Herbs combination [1 t. dried or 1 T. fresh. Serve artichokes hot with small cups of Herbed Lemon Butter Sauce for dipping the petals.
Serve Cold: Dip petals in a tart mayonnaise or Cooked Salad Dressing. For Marinated Artichokes, see Chilled Vegetable Marinade, add oregano and garlic to the recipe.
The JERUSALEM ARTICHOKE, a tuber of the Sunflower family, tastes similar to the new potato, but is more easily grown than potatoes. If possible to grow your own "sun chokes," an added incentive for doing so is their texture similarity to water chestnuts for that necessary "crunch" in oriental stir-fry dishes.
To Prepare: To use as a raw vegetable: scrub, peel and grate or slice. Sprinkle with a little lemon juice to prevent discoloration. For cooked Jerusalem artichokes you need only scrub the skins.
To Cook: Steam whole 10 to 15 minutes. Or bake, or cook in a minimum amount of water method [Methods]. Peel after cooking, then slice, dice or serve whole.
To Season: Add a sprig of rosemary or one of the Hearty Herb combinations to the steamer or saucepan water. Serve with an Herbed Butter or in a creamed or other sauce. Good for scalloped and au gratin main dishes, too. See "Artichokes, Jerusalem" in the Index.
To Serve Cold: Use in place of potatoes in Potato Salad. Also good Marinated raw [See Chilled Vegetable Marinade].
ASPARAGUS, along with daffodils, is one of the first signs of spring.
Choose firm, crisp stalks--slender ones for steaming, fat ones for stir-frying.
To Prepare: Snap off ends and, with the tips up, wash under cool running water. For an easy and attractive way to serve steamed whole spears, trim ends to even lengths [saving the trimmings for the soup pot]. Then tie spears with string. When done simply transfer the bunch into a bowl and remove string. To prepare for quick stir-frying, slice diagonally:
To Cook: Steam with stalks down for about 10 minutes, or stir-fry oriental style for 5 minutes or less [Methods].
To Season: The delicate but distinct flavor of asparagus can be simply but elegantly dressed in an Herb Butter, or a mellowing sauce such as Beulah's easy-to-make Mock Hollandaise, or one of the Spring Sauces. For other ideas on using asparagus see main dishes .
To Serve Cold follow the Raw Vegetable Marinade recipe.
The BEAN is as universal as the human race, with short, fat, long, thin, round, flat, velvety-green, waxy-yellow, string and string-less family branches and members. Besides the familiar "green bean," others good fresh are shelled lima and fava beans--at their best spring and summer. If a bean pod snaps when broken, then you know it is fresh.
To Prepare: For string-less, ordinary-length green beans snip off the ends and cook whole. Or cut in oblong pieces, or diagonally, or, for fast cooking Julienne. Broad, flat Romanos can be cut into approximate squares.
To Cook: A sure way to retain the color of beans is to cook uncovered in enough water to barely cover, and just until tender. If necessary, add a little more boiling water. If any liquid remains, pour it off and save for soup. If a bean is picked before maturity it will cook in 5 minutes. Older ones may take up to 20 minutes. If steamed, do so quickly and remove the cover as soon as they are tender. Otherwise their color will turn drab. Cook fresh limas and favas in a minimum amount of water, or steam. Allow up to 30 minutes.
To Season: For steamed beans, Herb Butter will be the easiest way to season them. For the Minimum Water method, an Herb Bouquet may be added to the boiling water. Place a pat of butter in the pan of cooked beans and shake to coat each one. Sprinkle with tarragon, basil, or a Fine Herbs combination . For Hungarian style, serve in sour cream, sprinkled with nutmeg and paprika. Try the Simple Spring Sauce with baby limas.
To Serve Cold: Season the Raw Vegetable Marinade with dill seeds and black pepper.
BEETS--in season from spring through fall except where too hot--are good for both their roots and their tops. So choose ones with fresh appearing tops.
To Prepare: For whole steamed beets simple cut off the tops and give them a good scrubbing. If you want to cook beets in a hurry, then shred them. As for the tops: wash, shake off excess water, then cut off stems and chop in small pieces. The leaves can be left whole or chopped.
To Cook: Steam whole beets until just tender, about 30 minutes. Stir-fry shredded ones in a little butter, stirring quickly to coat and seal in the juices, then cover and steam for a few minutes. For tops, cook chopped stems until tender--stir-fry or in minimum water--add leaves, stir, cover and cook only until wilted.
To Season: Slice, dice or shoestring whole steamed beets, then dress in melted butter, a sprinkling of sugar, a few shakes of vinegar, and a little fresh or dried tarragon, mint, or flick or two of ground cloves. Two nice sauces for beets are the Vinaigrette and the Orange Sauce . Season quickly sautéed shredded beets with Fine Herbs. To season beet tops, add a pat of butter, a sprinkling of nutmeg, and a squeeze of lemon.
FRESH PICKLED BEETS--Steam beets until tender, peel and slice. Make a dressing of equal parts of olive oil, vinegar and red wine. Add fresh or dried Fine Herbs, garlic, salt and pepper, and a dash or two of spice--nutmeg, cinnamon, clove, or ginger. Pour this over the beets and chill. Another time, in place of the other seasonings, add a teaspoon of horseradish to the oil/vinegar/wine mixture.
BROCCOLI is a cool season--fall, winter, spring--vegetable to enjoy before and after the plentiful vegetables of summer. Choose compact, vibrantly dark-green heads with fresh looking leaves.
To Prepare: Separate the main stem into separate floweret-topped spears. Or cut off tops, divide into flowers, and slice or dice the stems.
To Cook: Steam quickly, 7 or 8 minutes, or stir-fry until just barely tender.
To Season: Dress broccoli with an Herb Butter and garnish with sieved or chopped eggs. Or cover with one of the creamed sauces and sprinkle with paprika.
To Serve Cold: Good raw in a tossed salad, Marinated, or in the Molded Piquant.
BRUSSELS SPROUTS are first cousin to broccoli and also a fall and winter vegetable. For the most delicately flavored of these miniature cabbages, choose the small, green ones.
To Prepare: Wash, trim off the bottoms, and, to hasten the cooking, cut an "x" into each base.
To Cook: Steam until barely tender, for about 12 minutes. To retain a good color, remove lid several times during cooking and as soon as done.
To Season: A creamed sauce to which chopped Pimiento is added both tastes and looks good over Brussels sprouts. Try them Vinaigrette; or combined with cooked carrot slices in a Lemon Butter Sauce; or simply buttered and garnished with Parsley or Fine Herbs. Include Brussels sprouts with cabbage wedges, broccoli and cauliflower on mid-winter vegetable platters; or Cheese Sauce topped Medleys; or in heart-warming Curries.
CABBAGE comes in different shapes and colors--green or red, pointed, round, solid headed or curly leafed. The red and the curly are the stronger, more pungent. In the home garden, cabbage can be harvested until late fall. At the produce market it usually is available, and reasonably, all year.
To Prepare: Cut in wedges for steaming, or shred for sautéing or for salads.
To Cook: Steam wedges for 10 minutes. Sauté or stir-fry shredded cabbage in a little butter or oil for 1 minute, reduce heat and cover for 3 or 4 minutes.
To Season: Use caraway seeds, Herb Bouquets or Hearty Herbs. Dress with Herb Butters, or cover with creamed sauces. For Cabbage Au Gratin. Stuffed leaves are another possibility: Use outside large leaves--steaming these until pliable, about 7 to 8 minutes. Wrap stuffing in leaves and follow Steps 2 through 4. Cover with the Creole Sauce or the Spanish Sauce and bake until hot and bubbly. See Scalloped Cabbage and season with Sweet Carrot family seeds-cumin, dill, fennel or a trinity of Hearty Herbs.
BEULAH'S HOT-SPICED RED CABBAGE: Shred cabbage and combine with 1 finely chopped tart apple; a dash of cayenne; 1 t. sugar; 1 T. butter. Bury a whole onion stuck with 6 cloves in the middle, and cook according to the Minimum Water Method [p.12] and only until barely tender and still crunchy.
CABBAGE STIR-FRY: Shred cabbage; thinly slice celery and onion; chop a green pepper or grate a carrot. Heat a wok or skillet, add 1 or 2 T. butter and a few drops of sesame oil. Add vegetables in this order: pepper or carrot, celery, onion and cabbage. Cook, stirring constantly and until thoroughly hot. Then turn off the heat, cover the pan, and steam for a few minutes. Choose a garnish-chopped parsley, snipped dill weed, slivered nuts, or some other [p.10]
COLE SLAW WITH SOUR CREAM DRESSING-Combine and beat until thickened: ½ c. sour cream; 2 T. vinegar; ½ t. salt; 1 T. sugar; ½ t. celery seed; and, for that old-fashioned flavor, a dash of nutmeg. Shred chilled cabbage and mix with dressing.
The Molded Piquant is another unusually seasoned cabbage salad.
The CARROT, as can be surmised from the herb family bearing its name, started as a seasoning herb, and, through common use, gained status as a vegetable. This unusually compatible vegetable is complemented by nearly every imaginable seasoning, but is especially partial to the Mints. Its tops, ordinarily discarded, can be used in place of parsley (its first cousin.) The sweetest and most delicately flavored carrots are the young spring ones. When picking out carrots the rest of the year, choose firm and slender ones that are free of cracks.
To Prepare: For young ones, scrub but don't scrape. Older, larger ones can be scraped, then grated, sliced into circles or on the diagonal [as shown for asparagus], or cut lengthwise into fourths, or eighths, or further still into match-stick shapes.
To Cook: The younger a carrot the quicker it will cook. Or, the more thinly cut the less time it will take. Cook young, small, whole carrots in a covered saucepan with just barely enough water to cover. When nearly tender the skin will come off easily, leaving it bare-skinned beautiful. Later in the season and throughout the winter, carrots can be sliced and steamed for about 8 to 10 minutes, or shredded and sautéed, singly or in combination with other vegetables. Quartered carrots can be placed in a baking plan with a little water and seasonings; covered and baked 30 minutes or until tender.
To Season: Dress young carrots in an Herb Butter or one of the sauces. Carrots make Beautiful Soup. When possible, include fresh ginger in carrot soup seasonings. Carrots are good with or in Curries and Creole. Use in Timbals shredded and seasoned with ginger. Baked, quartered carrots [see above], can be sprinkled with a little sugar and spices-a dash of clove, a shake of mace--and dotted with butter.
GLAZED CARROTS: Slice 3 or 4 carrots into ¼ inch rounds. Cook in minimum water [p.12] until tender. Add 2 T. each butter and sugar. Stir and shake pan until carrots glisten and just begin to brown.
PATCHWORK SALAD--To 1 pt. lemon gelatin add: ¼ c. sliced radishes; ¼ c. pickle relish; 1 c. grated carrot; ½ c. finely diced celery; 1 t. minced mint leaves.
Add carrots also to Cole Slaw. See also "something sweet".
In choosing CAULIFLOWER, another of the cool season cabbages, look for compact white heads bordered with fresh, green outer leaves. At the produce market, pass by any that appear loose or bruised.
To Prepare: Cauliflower can be cooked whole. In this case, simply wash and leave on its border of leaves. Or separate the head into medium-sized florets. Chopped, it can be added to an oriental stir fry.
To Cook: Allow 20 to 30 minutes to steam cauliflower whole; 10 minutes for florets; 5 minutes to stir-fry small bits. Again, the word is al dente.
To Season: When steaming cauliflower, add a teaspoonful of caraway seeds, oregano, or savory to the water. This will savor not only the vegetable but the whole house. Some vegetables need a well-seasoned sauce to bring their
flavor up, but cauliflower--one of the self-seasoning Pot Herbs--actually enjoys a mellowing sauce--the Mock Hollandaise or Cheese Sauce. Call on cauliflower for a decorative touch to an otherwise plain-looking meal by sprinkling cooked florets with paprika or by dipping them first in melted butter, then into minced parsley. Pimiento Sauce is another very pretty way to dress-up "flowering cabbage." Cauliflower is a good main vegetable for a Curry, or in a casserole covered with Creole Sauce; topped with buttered bread crumbs; then baked at 350° for 30 minutes. See main-dish ways to serve cauliflower.
To Serve Cold: Alternate cauliflower and broccoli florets decoratively around the border of a relish plate. In the center place a bowl of Fine-Herbed seasoned cream cheese. For Chilled Cauliflower Marinade, steam florets until barely tender, then follow the recipe using a little garlic instead of onion, and fennel in addition to thyme.
CELERIAC--also called Celery Root--is ugly looking but distinguished tasting. And, for the home gardener, easier to grow than stalked celery. It is a cool season crop, most likely to be found for sale in the fall and winter. Beulah advises using it for its "strong support" in soup and in stock used for sauces.
To Prepare and Cook: Give a good scrubbing to the whole root, then parboil in water to cover until the skin can be easily peeled. Cut the partially-cooked root in 3 or 4 pieces; return to water and add sliced onion, garlic, parsley, salt, pepper. When tender, remove the celeriac, sprinkle with a little lemon juice [to keep it white] and chill. Strain the now well-seasoned cooking water and save as stock for soups or sauces.
To Use Celeriac: For hot dishes, dice cooked celeriac and heat to serving temperature in one of the seasoned sauces. Finely chopped or mashed, it will heighten the flavor of a Soufflé, or add interest to an Au Gratin, or an A La King. Use diced in a creamed soup which you might like to season with only tarragon and a garnishing of freshly minced parsley or snipped chives.
To Served Chilled: Follow the Vegetable Marinade recipe.
CELERY, like carrot, began as an herb valued mostly for its leaves and seeds. The stalks were thrown in the pot for "good measure." Available all year, the peak season and best-buy time for celery is spring. Avoid limp or split stalks that telltale old age in a bunch of celery.
To Prepare: Wash and save the large, outside stalks to use as a Stuffed Vegetable. Trim the middle stalks for stuffing with herbed cream cheese. Chop the branching parts and the hearts for sautéing with other vegetables, in stir-fry dishes, or the Molded Piquant. The usually discarded root base, use this for either soup stock or Celery Salt.
To Season: Some of the other vegetable flavors with which celery blends are: cabbage, carrots, green pepper, mushrooms, and onions. Vegetables enhanced by the flavor of celery are: beans, beets, chard, eggplant, okra, peas, potatoes, spinach and tomatoes. In Celery Au Gratin, add Jerusalem artichokes or diced celeraic for crunch, and pimiento for color.
To Serve Raw: Mix the Hearty Herbs with cream cheese and stuff raw stalks..
CORN--For the home gardener, the mid-summer serving of just-picked corn is a ritual: Put on the vegetable steamer; pick the corn; shuck it; then drop into the pot for a 5 minute steaming--just long enough to get it butter-melting hot. Now that's corn!
CORN OYSTERS--This is Beulah's all-time most popular recipe for corn. It is made from pulp "milked" from corn ears. This is done by first cutting through the centers of each vertical row of kernels, then, with the back of the knife, scraping out the pulp. It takes 3 or 4 ears of corn to make 1 cup pulp.
For each person allow ½ c. corn pulp; 1 egg; ¼ t. salt. Separate egg whites from yolks, beating whites until stiff. Mix yolks with pulp and salt. Fold in whites and fry like pancakes. For breakfast, top with maple syrup, or orange syrup made by heating until dissolved the contents of 1 small can frozen concentrated orange juice mixed with an equal amount of sugar. For supper, serve with butter, Herb Butter, Mushroom or Brown Sauce.
Other Ways to Season Corn: Combine cut corn with chopped red and green peppers and Cheese Sauce in a Soufflé or Fondue; or season a Corn Timbal with diced green chile peppers or chopped pimiento olives. For Creamed Corn Soup recipe and seasoning suggestions click here. And don't forget to use a little sugar to put the just-picked-freshness back into corn.
BAKED SUCCOTASH--Combine in a buttered baking dish: 1 c. each cooked corn and limas [cooking fresh limas]; 1 finely chopped, sweet red bell pepper; a pinch of sugar; ½ t. cumin seed; and 1 c. Cheese Sauce. Top with buttered crumbs and bake in a 375° oven until hot--about 20 minutes.
To Serve Chilled: Combine corn with chopped red and green pepper. Marinate, using, instead of thyme, celery seed and/or turmeric, and 1 t. sugar.
CUCUMBERS are plentiful all summer and into early fall. But as soon as it frosts, watch the price of "cukes" jump.
To Prepare: The most important thing to remember in preparing cucumbers is to taste them for bitterness before adding other ingredients. To prepare for cooking, peel, seed and cut in strips or chunks.
To Cook: Steam a very few minutes--until just tender, or cook in a minimum amount of boiling water--only 2 or 3 minutes.
To Season: Serve barely tender cucumbers, in strips, chunks or mashed, with an Herb Butter. They're also nice in a creamed sauce, particularly the Pimiento Sauce and served a la King. For stuffing cucumbers: hollow out; mix pulp with buttered bread crumbs; stuff and bake for about 20 minutes. All the herbs and spices associated with pickling cucumbers can be used for seasoning hot or cold cucumber dishes: dill, fennel, garlic, onions, mustard, horseradish, water cress, peppers, and all the spices .
CUCUMBER-POTATO BISQUE: Follow the recipe for Beautiful Soup, using 2 large cubed baking potatoes instead of the zucchini . For seasonings choose marjoram, parsley, and onion or chives. Cook until potatoes are tender. Cool and purée. When ready to serve, add 1 c. creamed sauce and heat just below simmering. Peel, remove seeds and grate 1 large cucumber. Add this to the hot purée along with 1 T. chopped, fresh dill weed (or crushed dill seeds); 1 T. lemon juice; 1 t. each of sugar and grated lemon peel. Serve garnished with minced mint or basil leaves.
CHILLED CUCUMBER BISQUE: After puréeing [above], fold in yogurt (in place of the creamed sauce) along with the dill and other seasonings. Chill and serve garnished as above.
FRESH PICKLES: Arrange sliced cucumbers in a bowl in layers, salting each layer. Let stand for several hours. Rinse the salt out and squeeze slices, bruising them as you do. For a medium-sized bowl, dilute 2 T. wine vinegar with a little water. Add a few drops sesame oil. Stir into the cucumbers and chill.
The EGGPLANT is at its most plentiful best by mid summer. The important thing in picking or choosing an eggplant is to get one that is shiny black but still firm.
To Prepare: Eggplant can be prepared with or without its peel, and either diced or sliced for sautéing or baking. It also can be scooped out and stuffed, or cubed and added to sauces. To prepare for Oven-Fried Steaks.
To Season: A very simple way to serve eggplant is supported by one or more of the Pot Herbs, and together sautéed in olive oil, then seasoned with fresh or dried basil or tarragon. One of the more opinionated herbs, such as garlic can also be added. Eggplant, because it is undistinguished in flavor, makes a good backdrop for combining with other vegetables and for experimenting with seasonings. Try it in Curry, Creole, or Spanish Sauces. And the Ratatouille is most certainly a dish "in honor of the eggplant."
MUSHROOMS are at their best late fall through early spring. To tell if a mushroom is fresh, turn it over and inspect the underside of the cap. It should be hugging close to the stem. If there is a gap showing its dark, acordian-pleated inside, then it has begun to shrivel and you don't want it. If all you see is the light-colored outer flesh, then what you have is a nice fresh mushroom.
To Prepare: Using your fingertips or a soft brush, wash each cap to remove any loose compost. Remove a thin slice from the bottom of the stem. Use raw or cooked, whole or sliced.
To Cook: Mushrooms cook quickly: 10 minutes steamed whole; less than 5 minutes sliced and sautéed.
To Season: In the 1950's, when Beulah's Chicago television show was sponsored by Fairy Ring Mushrooms, she developed a number of mushroom entrées, among them the following meatless Jambalaya:
MUSHROOM JAMBALAYA--Chop and 1 lb. of mushrooms; then an onion, 2 stalks celery, and a green pepper. To this is added 2/3 c. raw rice, 1½ c. fresh, peeled tomatoes and 1½ c. stock. Season with paprika, diced pimiento, minced parsley, 1 t. sugar, a little pepper and basil. Cook slowly on top of the stove for 40 minutes or in a 350° over for an hour.
EASY PIQUANT MUSHROOM SAUTE--Marinate 1 lb. mushrooms [small whole or sliced large] in Basic French Dressing: 1 T. vinegar to 4 T. oil; add ¼ t. salt, a pinch of pepper and dry mustard. Stir well. To this basic French, add 1 T. catsup for piquant-ness. After removing mushrooms from the marinade, sauté in 1 or 2 T. butter.
SAVORY MUSHROOMS--Sauté mushrooms in a little oil to which minced parsley, garlic, salt and pepper are added. When mushrooms are tender, add chopped fresh tomatoes and cook only until hot. Serve on toast or rice.
Other Ways of Serving Mushrooms: Combine with peas and season with rosemary and a pinch of sugar. Try a Celeraic and Mushroom Au Gratin seasoned with chopped parsley and chives; or a la King or in a Soufflé.
To Serve Cold: See the Marinade.
OKRA is at its seasonal peak along with tomatoes and green peppers--just in time for making creoles and gumbos. In buying okra the important thing to remember is that small is tender and shriveled is old.
To Prepare: Wash and remove stems from the pods. Two-inch pods can be left whole, larger ones sliced crosswise or chopped.
To Cook: Steam small pods whole for about 10 minutes or until tender. Or stew sliced or chopped pods along with tomatoes, green peppers, onions and/or carrots.
To Season: When combining with tomatoes, add a little sugar and an Herb Bouquet. Serve young, small, tender pods with Herbed Butter. Add okra to the Creole Sauce and, because this vegetable is a natural thickening agent, omit the creamed sauce. To stuff okra, steam four-inch pods until almost tender. Then incise each pot lengthwise on one side and stuff with bread crumbs seasoned with fine herbs. Place in a baking dish with diced raw tomato. Cover with buttered bread crumbs and bake until brown.
The ONION family is the largest and most widely used of the self-seasoning Pot Herbs. There is an onion for all seasons and tastes: The mildest is the chive; among the most pungent the globe-shaped yellow and red onions; the dark purple-red "torpedo" is good for baking whole in a mellowing sauce; and the jumbo-sized and round, white Spanish onions are perfect for stuffing. Use scallions in salads and in oriental stir-fry meals; leeks in soups; and shallots for sauces. Small "pearls" are for pickling, boiling and creaming. As for garlic--good for you and good also, they say, for keeping evil spirits away. But for culinary purposes, Beulah insists this lily should be used so subtly as to be difficult to detect.
To Prepare: How do you keep dry-eyed while peeling an onion? First of all, since the volatile juices are inhibited by cold, chilling at least helps to prevent tears. Water also keeps the eye-irritant in onion in check. But chopping onions under water is not an easy thing to do. A trick that greatly reduces and for some eliminates the problem is first to remove a cone-shaped section from the root base of the onion--the area containing the strongest concentration of "onion power." But don't discard this part: save it for the stock pot or for making Onion Salt.
To Cook: Bake whole or stuffed onions in a low oven [325°] for about an hour. When sautéing onions, consider them done when they become translucent.
To Season: Since onions are "self-seasoning" it is more a matter of complementing flavors. Onions with tomatoes, and peppers--mild and hot--are a hard-to-beat flavor combination. Or for a pepper-spicy effect season with cumin. Onions are enhanced by a little wine vinegar or lemon, or even the minty lemon balm, or lemony sorrel leaves. Beulah has several ways of stuffing and baking onions:
APPLE-STUFFED BAKED ONION: Slice off the base and top of 4 onions. Remove the center portion of onions and stuff with 1 apple, chopped and mixed with 1 T. chopped onion and 1 t. of sugar. Place in an uncovered baking dish with a little water. Bake 350° for 1 hour.
CHARD STUFFED ONIONS: Steam large onions for 15 minutes. Remove centers and stuff with chopped chard in a nutmeg-seasoned creamed sauce. Place in a baking dish; cover with additional creamed sauce; bake 25 to 30 minutes at 350°. When peas are in season use in place of chard and season with one of the Mints. Or use sautéed mushrooms, seasoned with Fine Herbs. Top with buttered bread crumbs.
PARSNIPS are a fall and winter vegetable, best described as somewhere between a carrot and potato. For parsnips that are tender, fragrant, delicately spicy and nutty-flavored, choose small, young-looking ones.
To Prepare: Give them a good scrubbing and steam in their skins whole. Peel, slice into rounds or cut lengthwise into quarters or smaller.
To Cook: Steam or cook in minimum water--whole or in pieces--for 10 to 30 minutes [depending on the size and age of the parsnips.] Then peel and slice, quarter, or dice. Cooked or partially-cooked parsnips can be baked at 350° until hot and tender.
To Season: Parsnips add a little nip to soufflé, timbals and other main dishes. Bring out their natural spiciness with fresh or powdered ginger. Enhance parsnips further by baking in an Orange Sauce.
PARSNIP PATTIES: For each cup mashed parsnips mix in 2 t. lemon juice, 1 T. (or less) butter, 1 slightly beaten egg; 1 T. cream or evaporated canned milk; ½ t. salt, a dash of cayenne or black pepper and 1 T. fresh or 1 t. dried Hearty Herbs--a combination such as sage and parsley with a smidgen of horseradish added. Garnish with chopped or slivered almonds.
PEAS are best from pods that are well filled but not overly bulging, and that are brittle when broken open. Snow or Chinese peapods are the edible-pod type used in oriental cooking and one of the spring garden's early offerings. Later in the season come the snap and black-eyed peas. The latter are unusually tasty when seasoned as below.
To Prepare: Shell peas right from the garden into the cooking utensil, and right before using. Or store fresh peas in their pods until ready to use. For edible-pod peas simply wash, pinch off the stem ends and cook.
To Cook: Peas take very little cooking, never so much as to destroy their firmness nor their vivid green color. Steam for 5 minutes, then remove the lid and the pan from the fire. Otherwise, the Minimum Water Method is a vitamin-saving way to cook peas. Either fresh or snow peas can be cooked according to the Stir Fry method. To cook fresh black-eyed peas: pour boiling water over them to cover and cook until tender--30 to 40 minutes.
To Season: When cooking snap peas, add fresh or dried mint, rosemary or basil to the cooking water and, unless just picked, add a pinch of sugar. Dress cooked peas with Fine Herbs and butter or with an Herbed Butter. Serve peas creamed or in the Simple Spring Sauce, the Herbed Lemon Butter Sauce, or, for a change of pace, the Vinaigrette. Peas mix nicely with sautéed chopped onion and fresh mushrooms, or when combined with water chestnut or Jerusalem artichoke slices. Sauté or stir-fry snow peas in a little butter and a few drops sesame oil. Stir and cook just until hot and hardly done at all. When cooking black-eyed peas, add an Herb Bouquet to the water, then dress with olive oil, garlic and a pair of Hearty Herbs.
To Serve Cold: Add garden peas or peapods to the Molded Piquant.
PEPPERS--The sweet red and green bells are the mildest, fresh-vegetable members of this very large herb family. The red ones are those allowed to ripen. Chili peppers also range from mild to hot to fiery-hot, and are the predominant flavor in many dishes of Mexican or Spanish influence. Use bells freely; chilies more prudently.
To Prepare: To serve bell peppers as a raw vegetable, remove the stem end and cut into strips. Save the center sections and seeds for adding to the stock pot. To prepare for stir-fry dishes and as a seasoning Pot Herb, cut into strips, into 1 inch squares, or chop, dice or mince.
To Cook: Sauté, stir-fry, or steam along with other vegetables. Peppers need only be thoroughly hot to be considered done.
To Season: Combine with vegetables such as mushrooms, celery, onions, and tomatoes. Season with a little garlic and combine with barely tender zucchini slices, or green beans. Any one of the Vegetable Main Dishes could include green pepper. So could the Curry and Creole Sauces . Green peppers are also an important flavor ingredient in the Spanish Sauces and Mediterranean Vegetable Pot and Ratatouille . See Stuffed Peppers--rice with mushrooms, seasoned with Hearty Herbs is a good stuffing for peppers. Another way of stuffing peppers is with corn-off-the-cob, moistened with a little seasoned cream or creamed sauce . In either case, they can be covered with Spanish Sauce . Add them also to Beulah's "chopped everything" oriental dish.
To Serve Cold: Cut in strips and serve with other raw vegetables on a relish platter. Include chopped peppers in the Molded Piquant.
The POTATO is a stick-to-your-ribs starchy vegetable. Combined with milk or cheese it makes a complete protein--two reasons for its nutritional importance to many peoples. For the home gardener, the potato can take the place of more difficult to grow and harvest staples such as rice and wheat. Beulah's mother--my Grandmother Annie--had a perpetual potato patch in her kitchen garden on their ranch in Shafter (San Joaquin Valley), where potatoes were also a "cash crop." When preparing potatoes and she would come to a sprouting eye, Annie would carefully cut it out and go plant it. In this way she lengthened the time potatoes--new and old--were in season for her. Many of Beulah's ways for serving and seasoning potatoes date back to those Shafter years and her parents' respect for the potato. Later, and for a number of years in both radio and television, she was sponsored by the Idaho Potato Growers Association. Choosing which of her several hundred potato recipes to include here was a difficult task.
As far as which potato is best, the Idaho russet, similar to the Shafter white, is still as good an all purpose potato as you can buy. New potatoes are a spring delicacy to look forward to. Also worth mentioning are the large, round, red-skinned ones--their texture just right for potato salad. When buying potatoes shun those with cracks, splits or green skins. Store potatoes in a cool, dry, dark place.
To Prepare: Give potatoes a good scrubbing for baking, steaming or boiling them whole in their jackets. For baking, pierce potatoes in several places with a fork to allow steam to escape. For cooking more quickly, peel, slice, or form into fancy shapes using special cutters--into balls, cubes, spears, Julienne, or lattice.
To Cook: The smaller the potatoes or pieces the less time they take to cook. Steam or bake potatoes until tender when pierced with fork--40 to 60 minutes at 350°. For smaller pieces, steam or follow Minimum Water Method for 10 to 20 minutes, depending on size.
To Season: Herb-Buttered new potatoes are exceptional. Another way to serve new potatoes (or old ones cut in balls or other interesting shapes) is in one of the sauce variations or the Cheese Sauce. Baked potatoes can be dressed with butter, sour cream, or yogurt--choose your calories--then sprinkled with fresh or dried tarragon, minced parsley, and/or chives, preferably fresh. Salt and pepper to taste. An eye-appealing addition to a vegetable platter is baked or mashed potatoes with golden Cheese Sauce and a sprinkling of paprika.
Beulah's favorite potato recipe is the first given below. I had always thought it named for Beulah's mother. But "no," she recently explained, she had gotten the recipe from George Rector, [a famous chef in her heyday, and the newspaper column bearing his name one she had "ghosted" in the forties.] Rector had named this dish for the singer, Anna Held, to whom he had served it often.
POTATOES ANNA--Peel, slice and place potatoes in ice water while you prepare a round, flat baking dish or skillet with a coating of melted butter, and a covering of bread crumbs. Sprinkle with paprika. Next, carefully arrange the potato slices in the pan, overlapping them as you do, adding a little salt and drizzling with butter. Cover and bake for 30 minutes in a 350° oven. Remove the cover and continue baking until potatoes are tender and the bottom, bread-crumb layer nicely browned. Turn out onto a platter and garnish with chopped parsley or Fine Herbs.
POTATOES PAPRIKA: Steam potatoes until half done. Peel, cut in half lengthwise, and brush with melted butter. Roll in 1 c. crushed corn flakes mixed with 1 t. paprika and ½ t. salt. Bake 45 minutes until brown and crisp.
HERB-BOUQUET POTATO CASSEROLE blends vegetables, herbs and spices in a way that can be seasonally varied: 4 potatoes, sliced; 4 carrots or celery stalks, or 1 green pepper, chopped; ½ c. chopped onion, chives or parsley; 1 T. fresh [1 t. dried] rosemary, savory or other Mint; 1 bay leaf; 1½ c. creamed sauce [can be thinned a little,] and to which add 1 t. horseradish or mustard, a dash of cayenne or pepper, a little grated or powdered ginger or nutmeg. In a buttered baking dish with a cover, arrange in layers slices of potato and other vegetables, adding to each layer a portion of the seasoned sauce. Place the bay leaf on top. Cover and bake until potatoes are tender.
POTATO SALAD: Mix 4 c. cold, boiled, cubed potatoes with: 1 large onion finely chopped; 1½ t. salt; ½ t. paprika; ¼ t. pepper. Marinate in: ½ t. salt; 1 t. sugar; ¼ c. vinegar; ½ c. salad oil. Chill thoroughly. Just before serving add: 3 hard-cooked eggs, diced; 2 T. minced parsley, celery leaves, or green pepper; enough mayonnaise or Salad Dressing to moisten well. Garnish with strips of green peppers or sweet pickles. ½ c. chopped celery or pickles can be added. And you might also want to rub the salad bowl with a clove of garlic.
See "something sweet" from potatoes.
SALSIFY--also called Oyster Plant because it tastes faintly like oyster--is an easy-to-grow fall and winter vegetable. Prepare and serve as given for Celeraic. Serve in Curries, Creoles and other main dishes.
SPINACH--and other Greens, including beet greens, chard, collard, dandelion, kale, mustard, New Zealand spinach, even radish and turnip tops. At the first sign of hot weather spinach "bolts," but heat-resistant and easy-to-grow chard and New Zealand spinach keep right on producing. Collard also grows right through the summer, and in most areas garden kale will winter over. So greens are vegetables that can be enjoyed fresh year round. Beulah's first choice for cooked greens is chard, with beet greens as second.
To Prepare: Follow the same procedure as preparing greens for a salad and detailed in "Step 1". Also see #9 in vegetable cooking methods. Since the stems take longer to cook than the leaves, chop and cook separately.
To Cook: The chemistry as well as the taste and texture of greens changes when they are cooked too long or over too hot a fire. Cook them in a steamer for no more than 12 minutes, or stir-fry and then cover, but for not more than 5 minutes. Cook the stems first, chopped, and then the leaves, whole.
To Season: To cooked chard or spinach add a nutmeg-seasoned creamed sauce [with milk in recipe reduced to allow for vegetable liquor extracted from greens during cooking]. Or, to the accumulated cooking juices add Butter/Flour Thickening Balls. Other sauces to use with greens are the Herb Bouquet Sauce, Horseradish "Cream" and Hot Mustard Sauce , also the Black Butter Dressing and Vegetable Vinaigrette .
Spinach, chard and other greens make good Vegetable Main Dishes--soufflés, fondues, scallops, timbals, au gratins and vegetable medleys. Season these main dishes with rosemary or other Mints, and, in addition to nutmeg already mentioned, mace, and allspice.
RAW SPINACH SALAD: When Beulah interviewed George Mardikian on television back in the fifties, he shared this recipe with her viewers and told how it had made him and his San Francisco Omar Khayyam's restaurant famous: Stem, wash, drain and dry spinach leaves [see Steps 1 and 2]. Sprinkle leaves with a little salad oil and lemon juice and chill. When ready to serve, arrange spinach on individual salad plates or in a salad bowl. Add chopped, hard boiled eggs and garnish with one or two cooked or raw chilled vegetables-asparagus, beets, tomatoes--whatever is in season. When spinach is not available use chard. Serve with the following superbly seasoned dressing:
SALAD DRESSING: 1 egg; 1 t. sugar; ½ t. salt; ¼ t. paprika; ¼ t. dry mustard; ½ t. Worcestershire sauce; ¼ clove garlic, pressed [or powder]; ¼ c. catsup; ¼ c. vinegar; 1 c. salad oil; ¼ c. warm water. Place all but oil and water in a blender. Cover and blend for 5 seconds. Remove cover with blender still going-and very gradually--pour in the oil, then the water. Makes 1 pint.
SWEET POTATOES and YAMS are related to Irish potatoes only by a similarity of texture and shape, and by being starchy--and therefore hunger-satisfying. Sweet potatoes are lighter colored both in skin and flesh. Yams are reddish on the outside and deep orange when cooked. When buying either look for blemish-free, well-shaped ones. Avoid any that look wrinkled or shriveled.
To Prepare: To cook whole, scrub and trim off both ends. For baking, pierce in several places so steam can escape. They can also be peeled and cut in pieces. When a recipe calls for grated sweet potatoes, do so just the minute before adding to other ingredients. They discolor quickly.
To Cook: Steam or bake in their skins until tender when poked. The time will depend on their size. But for medium-sized ones and a 350° oven, allow about 40 minutes. Follow Minimum Water Method for cooking in pieces.
To Season: Butter baked yams or sweet potatoes and sprinkle with spices-ginger, cloves, nutmeg, or cinnamon and a dash (but no more) of cayenne. Serve sliced or mashed sweet potatoes with Orange Sauce, adding one of the just-mentioned spices. Combine with apples, nuts, grated cocoanut and pineapple-varying these and the spices whenever a meal calls for the warm color and sweet taste of these similar tubers belonging to different families.
CRUSTY SWEET POTATO BALLS are for birthday parties and other special occasions. Season mashed sweet potato with a little cinnamon and nutmeg. Form into balls. Brush with butter and roll in crushed corn flakes. Bake at 450° until brown and crisp.
See recipe for Sweet Potato Pie. For Sweet Potato Pone use the same ingredients, add a ½ c. cocoanut, and bake without a pie crust.
TOMATOES, are of three types: juicy "slicing" ones; solid, pear-shaped "paste" ones; and the small, red and yellow "cherry" ones. To be full-flavored, tomatoes need to be vine-ripened. Then they add not only color but their unique piquant tartness to a salad or sauce.
To Prepare: For most uses, tomatoes need only be peeled. One method to make this step easier is to hold a tomato on a fork over the open flame of a gas burner, turning it until the skin is hot. It will then slip off easily. Another way is to dip a tomato in boiling water for a few seconds. A less fuss but little more difficult method is to rub the dull edge of a paring knife all over the skin. This gently bruises and loosens the skin so it peels easily away. For some dishes you will want more of the tomato's pulp and less of the juice and seeds. After peeling and removing the core end, use your hands to squeeze the excess juice out, saving it for soup.
To Cook: Sliced or even halved tomatoes will cook in a steamer in 5 minutes. When including tomatoes to some dishes such as ones you stir-fry, add at the very last moment, and just long enough to warm them. Green tomatoes can be pan or oven fried. The small cherry ones can be broiled on skewers.
To Season: As perfectly mated as the fresh Sweet Carrots are with summer squashes, so the fresh Mints are with tomatoes: basil, sweet marjoram, oregano, summer savory and spearmint, too. Begin with the Mints, then complement and enhance the flavor union with parsley, chervil, and other Sweet Carrots. And don't forget to add that pinch of sugar to tomatoes dishes.
BAKED TOMATOES AND CORN--A summer dish for when tomatoes, corn and green pepper are all ripe: 6 peeled and sliced tomatoes; corn cut from 3 ears; 1 chopped green pepper; a seasoning mixture of ½ t. salt, ½ t. sugar, ½ t. pepper, 1 T. fresh savory or other Mint. Alternate layers of tomatoes, corn and peppers, sprinkling each with the seasonings. Top with buttered bread crumbs mixed with chopped parsley. Bake uncovered 350° for 25 minutes.
SCALLOPED TOMATOES--For 4 to 6 tomatoes use 1 c. buttered bread crumbs; 1 c. creamed sauce; 2 T. brown sugar; 2 to 4 T. fresh Fine Herbs such as chives/basil/parsley. Another time, lean towards the spices, using instead of Fine Herbs, ground or fresh coriander [cilantro], one of the other Mints, and little minced onion. Layer half the buttered crumbs in a large shallow baking dish. Add 1" thick slices of tomatoes, or ones cut in half lengthwise. Sprinkle with the brown sugar and seasonings. Add sauce and remaining crumbs. Bake 30 minutes at 350° or until bubbly and browned.
Tomatoes are seasoned in other ways in a number of ethnic dishes and sauces. See Creole Sauce; Spanish Sauce and Mediterranean Vegetable Pot ; California Zucchini and Ratatouille.
To Serve Cold: In a covered dish, alternate layers of sliced tomatoes and sliced sweet red onions. Chill for several hours to blend flavors.
TURNIPS, RUTABAGAS and KOHLRABI are all fall and winter vegetables related in their turnip-like flavor. The edible part of the kohlrabi is its large above-ground bulb. The rutabaga is sometimes referred to as a "big yellow turnip," but is actually orange when cooked, whereas the flesh of the turnip is white. See Spinach for preparing turnip tops.
To Prepare: Scrub and cut off stem ends and root tips to steam whole. Or peel and slice or dice to cook or serve raw. Kohlrabi and turnips can be added to stir-fry meals. When preparing kohlrabi ahead of time squirt with a little lemon to prevent discoloration.
To Cook: For steaming whole, cooking time will depend on size. To steam sliced or to cook in minimum water allow about 8 minutes: tender to the fork for serving mashed; less done for saucing. In cooking kohlrabi, add a little lemon to the water to keep the flesh white.
To Season: These turnip vegetables are enhanced by Hearty Herbs. When steaming or cooking in a sauce pan, toss in a spoonful of the seeds of Sweet Carrot herbs--caraway, coriander or cumin, or add crushed or powdered herb seeds after cooking. Butter and garnish with a lot of parsley. See preparing turnips au gratin and scalloped. Vary the seasonings using rosemary or tarragon. Another time add zip with a little garlic, horseradish or mustard. For rutabagas see Oven-fried Vegetable Steaks. They will bake more quickly if partially steamed first.
To Serve Cold: White-fleshed turnips [when these roots are young] and kohlrabi are good sliced and eaten raw as a relish or in salads.
WINTER SQUASH--harvested in the fall--are hard-shelled and store well for use throughout winter. Among the favorites are the butternut, sweet and nutty in flavor with reddish-orange flesh, and the acorn, which has a smooth texture and is an orange-yellow inside. The banana squash grows to huge sizes--10 pounds and more--and is usually sold in sections. A recently available winter squash is called spaghetti. After cooking, it can be raked apart with a fork into strands and sauced the same as you would pasta.
To Prepare: Small winter squash can be left whole and pierced to allow steam to escape when cooking. For the larger ones cut them open and remove the seeds before cooking.
To Cook: Steam or bake small-sized squash whole. Or peel, cube and then steam or cook in a minimum amount of water until tender. In either case, the time will depend on the size of the squash or the pieces.
To Season: Something to remember when contemplating seasoning winter squashes is that they lend themselves to spices and other warming seasonings to cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, allspice, cardamom, and a dash--only a dash--of cayenne along with the spices and other sweets--molasses, maple syrup, apples and orange rind--all flavors we associate with fall and winter.
HONEY-GLAZED SQUASH--Steam first, then brush or drizzle on honey and melted butter, sprinkle with a spice or two, and bake until glistening.
STUFFED ACORN SQUASH--Stuff both halves of an acorn squash with apple slices. Sprinkle with honey or brown sugar and a shake of cinnamon. Tie halves together with string to make the squash whole again. Bake covered for 1 hour.
ZUCCHINI and other SUMMER SQUASH are at their best when picked under 8 inches long, or, with the scalloped (Patty Pan) varieties, when these are 2 to 3 inches across. All are very perishable and should be used as fresh as possible.
To Prepare: Picked young, there is no need to peel summer squash. Simply wash and slice, dice, or cut lengthwise in half, fourths, or even smaller.
To Cook: Sliced squash will steam tender in 5 minutes. Cut more thinly or diced, it will sauté or stir fry in even less time. The Minimum Water Method can also be followed, or the instructions for Broiling. Summer squash are also good baked in Vegetable Main Dish casseroles and Stuffed.
To Season: When zucchini and other summer squashes are at their flavor and production peak the annual herbs are also in full leaf. Nature, it would seem, provides the feathery, fresh leaves of dill weed, anise and fennel, as well as the pungent coriander [cilantro]--all Sweet Carrot annuals--and just in time for summer-squash season. So for the summer squashes, if you don't grow your own annual herbs, then buy them in their dried-leaf form. The annual fresh Mints as well, such as basil and summer savory, are also complementary to squash, by themselves or in combination with Sweet Carrot herbs. Beulah slices and cooks Patty Pan squash in a covered saucepan in the barest amount of water for only about 3 minutes. She then mashes it with a fork, stirs in a pat of butter and chopped, fresh or dried dill weed. That's all, yet she declares this is her absolute favorite of all vegetable dishes.
ETHEL'S PIE--Ethel was Beulah's piano teacher's young daughter who came with her mother to Beulah's house for the lessons. Ethel and her mother were always invited by my grandmother Annie to stay for dinner. Little Ethel, who didn't like vegetables, loved this pie . . . but never found out it was made from squash. (That was Annie's secret!)
This recipe is also a way to use those larger zucchini, crookneck or scalloped squash--ones that in the home garden have a way of hiding until past their ideal size. In this case, you will want to peel and seed them; cut them in pieces and steam for a few minutes--until they will mash with a fork. Season to taste with salt and pepper, a little fresh or dried herb--one or more of the Sweet Carrots and Mints mentioned above--or caraway, parsley, chervil, thyme, or marjoram. To each cup of seasoned squash add 1 beaten egg and 4 rolled soda crackers. Put in a greased casserole. Top with grated cheese and bake 20 to 30 minutes in a 350° oven.
See California Zucchini and the Ratatouille recipes; Chop Chai; and the Beautiful Soup. Any of these can be made with any of the summer squashes, even large ones.
Also see the Vegetable Main Dishes good for squash. Since summer squashes have a high moisture content, when using them in casseroles you will want to add either cracker crumbs (as in the above Ethel's Pie) or dry bread crumbs to the other ingredients.
To Serve Cold: Include raw zucchini sticks on relish platters. Prepare raw or barely-cooked, small-size zucchini slices in the Marinade.
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