Peaches, Port, and Blue Cheese Salad

The amount of alcohol is minimal here, a tablespoon, but if want to serve this to children, then sub a good sherry or balsamic vinegar with a bit of sugar mixed in. The addition of blue cheese makes this more of a salsa than a dessert, or really, it could be a light meal in itself. Nectarines, apricots and firm plums would all work here, too.

4 peaches, peeled if you like, and chopped
1 T Port wine, or madeira or sweet vermouth or red wine mixed with some sugar
1 c crumbled blue cheese, or feta cheese or goat cheese
1/4 c chopped or slivered almonds, or walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts

1. Combine peaches and port in a serving bowl. Allow to macerate for 15 minutes or so. Fold in cheese.

2. When ready to serve stir in almonds.

Fava Beans with Ricotta and Herbs

This is a simple way to enjoy fava beans. It makes for a nice appetizer and also a nice lunch for yourself (so you get to eat the all the favas). You can sub the ricotta for cottage cheese, puréed until smooth; farmer cheese; fromage blanc; mashed tofu; or even quark. Some black olives are good here, they add a briny note as well as a visual counterpoint. Serve with some good bread, toasted or lightly grilled.

1 c shelled fava beans, membranes removed
1 c ricotta cheese
salt and pepper, to taste
2 – 3 T extra-virgin olive oil
black, pitted olives, halved, optional
3 – 4 T fresh, chopped herb(s), or ver finely chopped greens

1. Cook favas in (lightly salted) boiling water for 4 – 5 minutes. Drain, cool in an icy water bath, then drain again.

2. Put ricotta on a serving plate or shallow bowl (like a pasta bowl). Season with salt and pepper. Drizzle with olive oil. Scatter over fava beans, olives if using, and chopped herb(s).

Arugula and Cheese Omelet

This is actually a bit of a cross between an omelet and a soufflé. The eggs are separated and the whites are whipped to soft peaks and added to the mixture. This addition causes the omelet to puff up some. The cheese here is variable, fontina is a excellent melting cheese. Other good melters are Gruyère, Emmental, raclette and provolone. However go with what you have on hand or prefer.  Omelets are traditionally folded in half or even thirds while on the stovetop and sometimes even flipped over in the pan and while you could do those here, you may sacrifice some of the puffiness, hence the broiling. You could also cover the pan and let the omelet steam finish. I like the broiling method because it gives the omelet a slightly crusty top.

1/4 c vegetable oil, or 2 T vegetable oil and 2 T butter; divided
4 – 5 c arugula, spinach or other green, chopped
6 eggs, separated
salt and pepper, to taste
(fresh) grated nutmeg, to taste
1 c Fontina cheese, shredded or grated; divided

1. Preheat the broiler, if using, and position a rack 6 inches from the heat source.

2. Melt 2 T of the fat in a skillet. Add the chopped arugula and sauté for a couple of minutes until wilted. (Sturdier greens will take longer to wilt and become tender.) Remove from skillet and drain. Transfer to a bowl and allow to cool.

3. Beat the egg yolks lightly and add to greens in bowl, along with some salt, pepper, a grating of nutmeg, and a third of the cheese.

4. Whisk or beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Fold into greens mixtures until no streaks of white remain.

5. Heat the remaining 2 T of fat in the skillet. Scrape the contents of the bowl into the skillet. Spread evenly. Cook over medium heat until the bottom is cooked, 3 minutes or so. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese and put under broiler, for another 3 minutes or so, until the cheese has melted and the top is set.

6. Slide the omelet onto a platter, and fold in half if you wish. Cut into wedges and serve.

Celeriac Cutlets

Just when you thought you’d done everything possible with celeriac, here is another way to enjoy this herbaceous and nutty vegetable. It’s fairly easy to make, the hardest part is peeling the knobby root. And, come Autumn, when you’re looking askance at that Kohlrabi or wondering how to prepare turnips differently, remember this recipe.

2 celeriac
1 large egg
1 c fine, dry bread crumbs
butter or oil, for frying
salt and pepper, to taste
chopped fresh herb, for garnish, optional
lemon wedges or mayonnaise (aïoli is great here), for serving

1. Bring a saucepan of (salted) water to the boil.

2. Meanwhile, peel celeriac and slice into 1/2″ thick rounds. Do this quickly so the celeriac doesn’t brown. Add the slices to the boiling water. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for about 8 minutes, until just tender. Gently remove from water and pat dry.

3. Beat the egg in a shallow bowl. Put the bread crumbs in another shallow bowl. Dip each celeriac slice first in the egg then in the crumbs, pressing to coat. Arrange on a plate until all slices have been coated.

4. Heat butter or oil in a large skillet. Add the slices in a single layer, or do this in batches. Cook, turning occasionally, until the slices are golden and crisp. This could take anywhere from 4 to 7 minutes a side, depending on the width of the slices and the heat you are cooking with.

5. Remove to a platter, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and garnish with fresh, chopped herb, if using. Serve with lemon wedges or with some aïoli alongside, or other condiment of your choice.

Daikon (Radish) Kim Chee

Indulging, once more, my pickle mania, I give you daikon kim chee. Any radish will do here, as of course, any root that can also be eaten raw. For radishes and roots that do not have the ‘bite’ of daikon, you may want to add a bit more hot pepper (or not). If you can get Korean red pepper powder, Gochugaru or Gochugalu, or even Japanese red pepper powder, all the better. You can also use hot chile powder, such as cayenne, or hot paprika which, though not authentic, are still good. If you have smoked hot paprika powder on hand, that will add an interesting depth of flavor to the kim chee. Know how hot your pepper powder is or use less than you think–you can always add more later. Also, I ate this a couple of hours after making it, and it was good. The next day, however, it was awesome! So if you can make this a day ahead of serving, do so.

3 – 4 gloves garlic, minced
1 T peeled, minced fresh ginger
2 t sugar or other sweetener, or to taste (don’t leave out, it balances the heat)
1 t salt
1 – 3 t hot pepper powder, or 1/2 t cayenne pepper powder, or to taste
1 lb or so daikon (or about 2 c chopped) or other root vegetable, or a combination
2 T unseasoned rice vinegar; or white wine vinegar, or cider vinegar
2 t soy sauce
2 t dark (toasted) sesame oil
1/2 c finely chopped onion, or scallions
1 T toasted sesame seeds

1. Combine the garlic, ginger, sugar, salt, and hot pepper powder in a largish bowl. Mash it up with a wooden spoon or other kitchen utensil. You want to release some of the juice in the garlic and ginger. You could also buzz in a small food chopper, though not to a paste.

2. Peel, if necessary, the daikon. Cut into quarters lengthwise, then cut crosswise into 1/2-inch slices. Or, chop into circles, half moons, or chunks, you could even shred. Add to the bowl containing the garlic mixture.

3. Add the remaining ingredients, stirring to combine. Allow to marinate for at least 30 minutes before serving. If you are making this hours or even a day ahead of serving, cover and refrigerate, stirring (and tasting) occasionally. Add more of any of the seasonings if you think it necessary.

Spicy Mexican Root Vegetable Pickle

Carrots are traditional in this dish. I’ve made this with carrots and other roots, alone and in combination. They’re all good. This is not a raw pickle. The vegetable is gently poached in water first. I did try this with raw carrots, pouring hot water over them, but did not like them as much as the gently poached carrots. Up to you.

2 lbs carrots and/or other roots, sliced into rounds or sticks
1 1/2 quarts water
2 medium to large onions, peeled and sliced
1 7 oz can (or so) whole canned jalapeños, with liquid; or equivalent fresh peppers, stemmed
1 T dried oregano, or 3 T fresh oregano
6 whole, peeled garlic cloves
2 c cider, or other, vinegar
1/4 c vegetable oil
2 bay leaves
1 T salt

1. Put prepared vegetable(s) and water in a large pot or Dutch oven. Bring to the boil and boil gently for 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

2. Add the onions, peppers, oregano, garlic, vinegar, oil, bay leaves and salt. Stir to dissolve the salt.

3. Let cool for about 3 hours, or even overnight. Put into a large jar or container or several smaller ones. Refrigerate.