Wednesday, June 16, 2010

My Kind of Cookbook & Two Recipes

Most cookbooks frustrate me.

But I understand it's my own fault.  When you choose what to eat based on what's in season, looking for recipes in a regular cookbook can be discouraging.  For example, I looked up snow peas the other day in the index of one of my cookbooks.  Two of the dishes I found were Barley Pilaf with Roasted Peppers and Snow Peas and Corn and Sugar Snap Pea Salad.  I don't know about you but I don't have bell peppers or corn ready to come in from the garden, do you?

That's not to say that I don't use all these non-season organized cookbooks.  I do.  It just takes a lot of effort to not only look at the index titles but also scan the recipes themselves because an out of season ingredient might show itself.

When Simply In Season by Mary Beth Lind and Cathleen Hockman-Wert came out five years ago, I was thrilled.  The timing couldn't have been more perfect.  We were learning to garden and learning to eat exclusively from it (where vegetables are concerned).  The cookbook is divided by SEASONS- spring, summer, fall and winter.  Each season is then divided further into predictable cookbook fashion- Breads and Breakfasts, Soups, Salads, Sides, Main Dishes, Desserts, and Extras.

When you cook in season a cookbook like this quickly becomes your best friend.  If you don't own a copy yet, put it on your birthday or Christmas list.  You'll be so glad you did.

Two of the dishes I made for dinner this past week came from Simply In Season.  I flipped through the spring section and chose two recipes based on what I had on hand.  I didn't have to worry that one of them may call for tomatoes or butternut squash.  No sirree.

By the way, both dishes are delicious to boot.

Chicken or Tofu Stir-Fry (Simply In Season)
We made the chicken version.  If you like your stir-fry a little saucier, double the sauce portion.  That's what I'll be doing next time. My notes are in italics. 
Serves 4-6

3/4 cup broth
3 tbsp. soy sauce
2 tbsp. brown sugar
1 tbsp. sesame oil
1 tbsp. sesame seeds
1 tbsp. cornstarch
2 tsp. ginger root, peeled and minced (or bottled ginger)
1 1/2 tsp. garlic, minced
1/2 tsp crushed dried chilies or Tabasco sauce (optional)

1 pound boneless chicken (cut in cubes or thin strips) or the equivalent amount of cooked and shredded chicken  OR
1 block firm tofu, cubed
1 cup snow peas or sugar snap peas, cut in 1-inch pieces  (I used two cups and left them whole)
12 ounces fettuccine, spaghetti, buckwheat soba noodles or rice noodles, cooked (I used cooked brown rice)
1/2 cup green onions, chopped

In a bowl, combine the broth through Tabasco sauce ingredients and set aside.  In a large fry pan over medium-high heat saute the (raw) chicken or tofu in a small amount of olive oil until the meat is cooked through or tofu is lightly browned.  Remove the tofu.  Add the peas to the fry pan along with the sauce you set aside.  Bring it to a boil, stirring.  (Add the cooked chicken)  Reduce heat and simmer until sauce thickens, 3 minutes.  Mix in the noodles (or rice) and green onions.  Top with browned tofu if using and serve immediately.


Veggie Burrito Bake (Simply In Season)
This is a favorite at our house (the kids love it, too).  It's a great company meal because the burrito filling can be assembled ahead of time and thrown in the oven for 20 minutes or so when company arrives and assemble the burritos at the table.  I sometimes increase the amount of beans or rice to make the dish last several meals.  My notes are in italics.
Serves 4

1 large clove garlic, minced
1 medium onion, minced
3/4 cup uncooked rice (white or brown)
3/4 tsp. turmeric
1 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
16 cups loosely packed fresh spinach, torn
1 1/2 tsp. garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups cooked black beans
1 tbsp. chili powder (optional)
1 cup Monterrey Jack cheese, shredded
flour tortillas

Saute the 1 minced garlic clove, onion, uncooked rice and turmeric in a saucepan until the onion is tender.  Stir often.  Add the broth and mix well.  Simmer covered, until liquid is absorbed, about 15 minutes for white rice, 40 minutes for brown rice.  Remove from heat, fluff with fork and set aside.  While the rice is cooking, heat 1 tbsp. oil in a fry pan on high heat.  Add remaining garlic and the spinach, one handful at a time as it wilts, adding a little water as needed to prevent sticking.  Spinach should be moist, with loose leaves, not all clumped together.  In a bowl, combine black beans and chili powder.

Layer the ingredients as follows in a 2-quart baking dish: half of the spinach, all of the rice, all of the beans, remaining spinach.  Sprinkle the shredded cheese on top.  Cover and bake until sizzling 45 minutes (mine has always heat through in 20 minutes).

Serve by spooning into warm tortillas.  Optional garnishes include: salsa, sour cream, chopped fresh cilantro.

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  1. have this cookbook, too. really enjoy it. i can relate with your frustrations about finding recipes easily that work with in-season foods. for now, glad to have at least one source like this in my kitchen.=)

  2. I have been thinking about that book for a while now. It'll certainly be on my wish list for my birthday!

  3. btw, both of those dishes look yummy.=)

  4. I love this cookbook too! And I'm going to have to try these recipes. I guess I better get on the sugar pea one fast as they'll soon be over!

  5. Good post and Will like to find that cook book too, looks like a good one, I have lots in season here now, so can make about anything I need. Hugs Barbara

  6. I cook from Simply in Season a lot, but I've never made either of those dishes! Glad to have the recommendations.

  7. Love those recipes. Thank you for sharing. This site has saved me, thought I would share...
    All you do is enter in every thing you have on hand, and it starts to give you oodles of recipes. I love it!

  8. I made the Veggie Burrito Bake for dinner tonight and it was a big hit! I used kale instead of spinach because that is all I had on hand. I cooked it a little longer, though I had wished that I cooked it even longer because it did not soften at all in the oven as I thought it would. Next time I will use spinach, but overall this is a delicious and great prepare ahead meal. Thanks!

  9. Just found your blog and am loving your recipes. Made burrito bake tonight for dinner and it was amazing! Also made zucchini bread yesterday. Can't wait to try out more! Thank you.


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